Frosty Breezy | 6 New Cases | Tsunami Test | Found Headstone | Rocks Beach | BOS Recap | Less Screentime | More Outages | 1898 Home | PHF Fear | Dump Meeting | Finding Kam | Dry Lakebed | Ed Notes | Radar Station | Warm Water | Dear Lighthouse | Supes Notes | Yesterday's Catch | Trombone Vote | Dangerous Mexico | Rename Away | Rope Climb | Laughing Heart | Good Gun | Russian Summit | No Penguins | Contrived Texts | Birds Again | Disco Dan | One Nut | Not Dumb | Tax Evasion
COOL FROSTY NIGHTS AND MILD BREEZY AFTERNOONS are expected during much of the next seven days. The one exception will be Wednesday and Thursday, when cloudier skies will be probable across northwest California, and light rain will be possible for locations mainly north of Cape Mendocino. (NWS)
6 NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County yesterday afternoon.
TSUNAMI WARNING COMMUNICATIONS TEST
WHEN: Wednesday, March 24, 2021, between 11:00 a.m. & 12:00 Noon
WHERE: Del Norte, Humboldt, and Mendocino counties.
HOW: Interruptions of TV* and Radio Stations, and activation of NOAA Weather Radios and Outdoor Sirens. *Not all Cable and Satellite TV Stations may be able to participate
WHY: To test the Tsunami Warning System to ensure it works properly during a real tsunami emergency.
HOW THIS TEST WILL AFFECT YOU:
If you are watching television between 11:00 a.m. and 12:00 Noon on Wednesday morning, expect to see a crawler at the bottom of the screen indicating that a tsunami warning has been issued, and hear a voice indicating that it is only a test. If you don’t hear the TV audio, please remember that this is only a test. If you are listening to the radio, you will hear alerting tones followed by a voice announcing that the test is occurring. If you have a NOAA weather radio with the Public Alert feature, the radio will automatically turn on and you will hear the same message as broadcast on radios. In some areas, you may also hear the sounding of a tsunami siren, an airplane testing its public address system, or receive other communication tests in some local jurisdictions. The Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system that comes across smart phones will NOT be activated for this test.
Please help us by providing any feedback regarding this test by emailing: email@example.com
When you hear or see the warning test on March 24 between 11:00 a.m. & 12:00 Noon:
• You do NOT need to take any action
• Do NOT call 911 or local authorities
• Do NOT evacuate your home or business
THIS IS ONLY A TEST!!
PREPARE: Find out more about preparing for earthquakes, tsunamis or any other disasters on the North Coast at http://humboldt.edu/shakyground, or contact the American Red Cross: Humboldt, Del Norte, Lake, and Mendocino counties – (707) 832-5480. America’s PrepareAthon! (http://www.community.fema.gov/), the Great California Shakeout (https://www.shakeout.org/california/), and The Tsunami Zone (https://www.TsunamiZone.org) are great places to get preparedness information for natural hazards.
The test is conducted by the National Weather Service, the California Office of Emergency Services, the Offices of Emergency Services for Del Norte, Humboldt, and Mendocino Counties, and Tribal Governments. For more information, contact: National Weather Service (707) 443-6484.
PRATHER RANCH GRAVESITE
Putting this out to the whole community, on the off chance anyone local might have info. We were tromping around the Prather ranch (across from the grange, visiting Freda) when we came across a headstone up on the hill above Highway 128. Equally surprised to see it isn't a Prather, but a guy named John Harrison, died 12-12-1898 at the age of 84. Any local historians here who could tell us more?
VALERIE HANELT REPLIES:
Wow. This is a REALLY BIG DEAL. John Harrison and his wife Lorena Eastlick's graves were vandalized in the B section of Evergreen Cemetery (in the 70s?). John was the father of Amanda (Marvin Dutro), Adeline (Phelps) and Lenora (CH Clow). Lorena was the daughter of Jacob & Hannah Eastlick (B in Shields); wife of John Harrison; mother of Amanda (Marvin Dutro) & Adeline (Phelps - both Phelps are in Ukiah cem), Lenora (CHClow). Elizabeth Ilse Clow (1883-1966) also lost her headstone. She still has a “toe” marker. I will post two more that were repaired — I guess they were too heavy to haul away. Clyde says they put ropes or chains around the headstones and attached to their truck and pulled them over. Terrible desecration. I found a photo on ancestry.com of Lorena's and wrote to the owner of the site and they took the photo down. So hers is somewhere. Please go back and look for more headstones. The kids probably dumped them there. This headstone needs to go back to the Cemetery District to be reinstalled above John's grave. I have put a Geo link to the spot. Please let me know if you find Lorena's. Look these people up on Findagrave where I have posted what I know about them.
BOARD OF SUPERVISORS SPECIAL MEETING to be held April 12 to discuss water usage and its effects and cannabis enforcement in Mendocino County. See last paragraph of the report on today's BOS meeting.
BOARD OF SUPERVISORS RECAP March 22, 2021
Agenda Item 3A – The Board reviewed and gave direction on a draft ordinance to align terms of service on Boards and Commissions with the Supervisor’s terms and to provide procedures for removal.
Agenda Item 3B – The Board heard a presentation from Behavioral Health and Recovery Services (BHRS) on the status of projects related to the Mental Health Treatment Act (MHTA) aka Measure B. Ground has been broken for a Crisis Residential Treatment Facility, located on S. Orchard Avenue in Ukiah, which is expected to open by the end of the year. The County previously issued an RFP for an operator for a Psychiatric Health Facility (PHF) and is apparently in negotiations with a potential operator. The County has contracted with Nacht and Lewis for architectural services. The Board previously requested a feasibility study for development of a PHF but then put the feasibility study on hold. Discussion focused on potential development of a PHF and whether to revive the feasibility study. The Supervisors referred to the “Ranch Proposal” which apparently refers to a previous closed session item for purchase of property on Parducci Road. At that time it was reported out of closed session that the property had been sold and was no longer available, however it became obvious the Board was familiar with the Ranch Proposal which would involve siting a PHF on a larger rural property. Supervisors Haschak and Williams advocated looking at the Ranch Proposal as a first option. The Board discussed the potential to partner with Adventist Health on location and development of a PHF but that concept was dropped from consideration, apparently for reasons related to the RFP for an operator. The Board also discussed the requirement of the MHTA that the Measure B Committee review an annual independent audit.
The Board decided not to have Nacht and Lewis resume the feasibility study and instead directed BHRS staff to conduct a feasibility study of the Ranch Proposal. CEO Angelo volunteered that staff could also bring forward the feasibility of utilizing the Whitmore Lane facility for a PHF. Following discussion the Board directed staff to make a presentation on the feasibility of the Ranch Proposal or Whitmore Lane as a PHF. Dr. Jeanine Miller stated that her staff could make a presentation on the uses and operation of the facilities but did not have the expertise to assess the cost and feasibility of design and construction. The Board also directed that staff present options for satisfying the audit requirement.
Agenda Item 3C – The Board of Supervisors awarded a contract to Adams Commercial General Contracting, Inc. in the amount of $295,849 of Measure B funds to remodel the Behavioral Health Regional Training Center. Supervisor Haschak asked who was making the decisions on the remodel project. Dr. Jeanine Miller responded that an ad hoc committee of the Measure B Committee developed the remodel proposal and staff then developed and issued an RFP. The project includes installation of a sprinkler system. Interestingly, the Measure B Committee did not support inclusion of the fire sprinkler system.
Agenda Item 3D – The Board approved payment of $12,400 of Measure B funds to the Sheriff’s Office as reimbursement for Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training.
Agenda Item 3E – The Board approved payment of $8,410.33 of Measure B funds for purchase of a gun locker to be used at the Behavioral Health Regional Training Center.
Agenda Item 3F – The Board approved establishing a temporary moratorium on the commencement of Phase Three Cannabis Cultivation under Chapter 10A.17 and 20.242. This is independent of development of a land use permitting ordinance, popularly referred to as “Phase Three” which the Planning Commission considered on March 19th and which is expected to come before the Board of Supervisors on April 20. The Phase Three mentioned in Chapter 10A.17 was originally scheduled to begin January 1, 2020 but was pushed back a couple of times and is currently scheduled to open April 1, 2021. The moratorium will avoid staff accepting new applications into the current dysfunctional permitting system. This action will not affect the timeline for adoption of the land use permitting ordinance that is scheduled to go to the Board of Supervisors on April 20.
Agenda Item 4A – The Board heard a presentation from West Business Development Center and Community Champions for MOVE2030 on Mendocino Opportunities for Building a Vibrant Economy. Over the past 14 months West met with over 200 community members and 15 organizations to develop recommendations for a unified economic development strategy based on 1) improved education and training; 2) workforce development; and 3) alignment with private industry. In response to the presentation the Board 1) accepted the report; 2) appointed Supervisors Williams and Mulheren to an ad hoc committee to recommend how to staff and fund the economic development effort.
Agenda Item 4B – The Board heard a presentation from the North Bay North Coast Broadband Consortium and Broadband Alliance of Mendocino County. Application has been made to the California Advanced Service Fund for one major project with two more projects ready for submission. The Board approved the recommended action which was to receive the report and provide direction to Department Managers and the
Agenda Item 4C – The Board heard a presentation from several members of the Mendocino County Climate Action Advisory Committee (MCCAAC). Currently only 10 of the 15 seats are filled. The Board approved the recommended action which was “accept the report and provide direction to department managers and the MCCAAC regarding the best collaborative strategy.” Direction was given for Deputy CEO Steve Dunnicliff of the Executive Office to be the contact for the MCCAAC.
Agenda Item 5A – The Board approved a recommendation from Supervisors Haschak and Williams to follow the usual procedure for submission of agenda items for expenditure of Measure B funds. The Measure B Oversight Committee is charged with making recommendations to the Board of Supervisors on implementation of Measure B but frustration has grown that the Committee sometimes gets bogged down in discussing minor expenditures or issues that may be outside of their purview.
During discussion of item 5A the Board directed that a Special Meeting be held on April 12. Supervisor Haschak requested the meeting to hear a presentation from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife on water usage and its effects in Mendocino County. Supervisor Mulheren noted that the Sheriff’s Office was currently down 12 positions and requested information on the Sheriff’s Office plan to recruit and fill those positions. Supervisor McGourty discussed enforcement issues, drawing a contrast with Humboldt County where they have active enforcement as opposed to the complaint based approach in Mendocino County. Supervisor Williams requested that the presentation from the Sheriff’s Office be broadened to include a discussion of what level of enforcement can be expected if particular positions are filled or funds allocated. Supervisor McGourty referenced broader enforcement issues that go beyond the Sheriff’s Office and Code Enforcement and invited County Counsel Curtis to respond. County Council offered to have Deputy County Counsel Michael Makdisi make a comprehensive presentation on code enforcement.
“I recommend less screen time. Except, of course, for our therapy sessions, school, work, staying connected with loved ones, dating, telehealth, yoga instruction, and searching for vaccine appointments.”
JUDGE CONSIDERS REQUIRING PG&E TO TURN OFF POWER MORE FREQUENTLY
by Michael Liedtke
SAN RAMON — A federal judge overseeing Pacific Gas & Electric's criminal probation said Tuesday that he is considering requiring the utility to be more aggressive about turning off its electricity lines near tall trees, a plan that could double the number of power outages for some Northern California counties over the next decade.
The proposal outlined during a two-hour court hearing is the latest effort to prevent the utility's equipment from sparking more deadly wildfires by reducing the likelihood that trees could fall into the utility’s long-neglected electrical equipment. U.S. District Judge William Alsup is overseeing PG&E’s safety precautions as part of the utility’s criminal probation after its natural gas lines blew up a suburban neighborhood south of San Francisco in 2010.
Alsup indicated Tuesday that he is leaning toward imposing the tougher conditions.
“My view is quite clear: We should save lives,” Alsup said. “We don’t have the luxury to wait around. I am not open to the idea that we would kick the can down the road and study the problem to death.”
The California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates PG&E, is opposing the additional power shut-offs, which it contends would impose undue hardship on about 900,000 people who live in the mostly rural counties of Trinity, Placer, Shasta, Tehama, Madera and Mendocino.
The federal court hearing, held online, came a day after California investigators released a report concluding that a Shasta County wildfire that killed four people and destroyed more than 200 buildings last September was sparked by a tree that fell into a PG&E power line. Alsup blasted PG&E during Tuesday's hearing for not cutting down the tree that started that fire after its removal had been recommended in 2018 and described the utility as “grossly negligent."
PG&E's potential liability for that September fire came a few months after it emerged from a 17-month stint in bankruptcy triggered by its responsibility for a series of wildfires in 2017 and 2018 that killed more than 100 people and destroyed more than 27,000 buildings.
To reduce wildfire risks, PG&E in 2018 adopted a program of pre-emptively cutting power in areas where fire danger is high, typically in dry and windy conditions that occur during the late summer and early autumn through parts of a sprawling service territory that provides power to 16 million people — larger than the population of all but a handful of states.
Under the stricter safety measures Alsup is weighing, PG&E projected the utility would have to proactively turn off the power 45 different times during the next decade, a 67% increase from the 27 deliberate outages predicted in that time under current standards. The number of outages would triple in Trinity County while doubling in Placer, Shasta, Tehama, Madera and Mendocino. The outages would nearly double in three other sparsely populated counties: Butte, Nevada and El Dorado.
(from the AP via the PD)
HISTORIC 1898 CLOVERDALE HOME FOR SALE
PHF: THE OBVIOUS CHOICE
Chair Gjerde and Board Members,
The Measure B report states “The County plans to own the building so it has control over provider costs, acceptance of clients and standards of care.”
It's worth asking, when was this decision made and by whom?
County Counsel has issued an opinion that the County may legally construct and co-locate facilities with another entity and control the equity interest of the County and operation of the facility through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the other entity.
Co-location with a hospital facility will provide obvious economies of scale and is arguably the most cost effective and sustainable approach to development and operation of a Psychiatric Health Facility (PHF).
However, if a vocal group of residents is given veto power over the location of a PHF it will never be built. NIMBYism related to a PHF is based on the stigmatization of behavioral health issues and ignorance of how such a facility will operate.
I encourage the Board to make decisions on location of such a facility based on facts, functionality and sustainability, not unfounded fears.
COAST TRANSFER STATION MEETING AGENDA
A READER WRITES: The following messages were found under a bridge on an abandoned vinyl covered diner booth seat cushion: “My name is Kam. I'm really lost! Someone, anyone, come find me at North Cow Mountain. Please bring [images of $$$, marijuana leaves and a crack pipe] I wanna F_K!” A kindred soul responded: “Hey, Kam, I went looking for you but couldn't find you. Get a hold of me! I really love and miss you. [heart symbol] Ashley.” Looking for Kam on North Cow Mountain may not be the equivalent of looking for a needle in a haystack but at 25,000 acres of BLM managed land (and another 25,000 for South Cow Mountain) it's not far off. Presumably the search could be narrowed by focusing on the free campgrounds. But with no date the odds of finding Kam on Cow Mountain probably match the odds of finding cows.
DO YOU REMEMBER THE 1977 DROUGHT? Our region’s most drastic drought on record. Current rainfall totals this year are 5.15 inches below the total cumulative rainfall for Water Year 1977.
Please note: The lakebed will not be open to motorized vehicles. Citations issued.
Photo 1: Exposed lakebed seen from the Coyote Valley Dam, Sept. 1976
— US Army Corps of Engineers, Lake Mendocino
FROST FANS rousted 4am Boonville from our Spring bowers this morning, the airbus-quality din exceeding the 50 decibel legal standard in many neighborhoods by a lot. Odd how passive we've become in the face of these annual aural assaults. If your neighbors blasted you with four or five or more pre-dawn hours of any other noise of this intensity and duration, the 911 emergency lines would be jammed. Time to recite grape grower Ted Bennett's immortal question his eminence put to a room full of frost fan objectors: “My grapes are more important than your sleep.”
WATCHING THE SUPERVISORS stumble through their bi-monthly agenda of the people's business, hours of jargon-ridden presentations and often irrelevant discussion, millions of unaccountable dollars allocated here and there, I wonder where the taxpayer associations are. Most places you've got a small group of elderly people from the last generation to remember when words had meaning challenging every nickel of public expenditure, often invoking the old saw, “Government is supposed to spend public money as thriftily as their own.” That approach to government spending flew out the public window years ago.
THE MOST EGREGIOUS local spending of the unaccountable type is on Mental Health. Twenty annual millions, now privatized, allegedly making life supportable for a range of dependant persons. Plus almost $10 million more for mental health administration and other associated “help.” If anybody has any idea how effectively this money is spent on a very small segment of a total county population of fewer than 90,000 people, let's hear it. We never will, of course, because a lot of it isn't defensible, squandered by any objective standard or even used to evil overall purpose because no one hears from the funding units themselves, ever.
A READER WRITES on just this subject: “I have little/no confidence our county can pull it off. There is too much motivation for the government to profit, and little/no motivation to provide a functional program that attempts to put people back on their feet. There needs to be a division between mentally ill people who are inherently that way, and mentally ill people who are that way because of substance abuse. The substance abusers need to be required to clean up as a prerequisite to getting any government service. It used to be that way, and it was much better. What we are doing now, making money to pay bums, drunks, and drug addicts to live on our streets is perverse, and it is a lot of money down a rat hole to boot.”
WHERE DID THE ABALONE GO? This on-line comment gets it: “Bag limit was lowered and lowered and lowered and fines were increased and increased and increased. It didn’t stop the poachers from the Bay Area mass harvesting. They just simply wouldn’t pay their fines and rotate someone else in. But still that’s not what the problem was. Warm water created ideal conditions for urchins, killed the abalone's natural predator while allowing urchins to thrive which wiped out the kelp which is the shared food source for abalone. No food=bad for abalone. And the fish cops haven’t taken any proactive measures to help manage the situation. Too busy with pot I guess.”
THE POINT ARENA LIGHT STATION #496 was officially established on September 30, 1869. Construction of the first Tower was completed in April 1870 and the light was first lit May 1, 1870. This date will mark 151 years of the Lighthouse lighting the way on the Mendocino coast in 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic caused the Light Station to cancel its planned 150th Anniversary celebratory events. As we move out of the most serious stages of the pandemic we hope to be able to celebrate the 150th + 1 anniversary in 2021. A very special part of that celebration will be a 150th + 1 Anniversary special section in the April 30, 2021 Independent Coast Observer (ICO) that will be devoted to the Light Station. A key part of this special section will be the publication of the favorite entries in the Point Arena Light Station 150th + 1 Anniversary Writing Invitation as selected by the Point Arena Lighthouse Keepers, Inc. (PALKI) Writing Invitation Review Board (PWIRB).
PALKI invites authors to submit their writings for consideration to be published in the ICO special section. The submissions must have elements or features of the Light Station as their underlying theme. There are four categories:
“Dear Lighthouse….” essay
Short Story (fiction, memoir, non-fiction, etc.)
Poetry – Any form of poetry is welcome in this category and there is no word limit.
“Dear Lighthouse….” essay – Free form essay, 300 word maximum. Essay must begin with the phrase “Dear Lighthouse” but there are no other limitations.
Short Story – These entries can be of any literary genre (fiction, memoir, non-fiction, etc.) and there is no word limit.
Flash Fiction – This relatively recent style of fiction is an entire story in 150 words or less. The hallmarks of great Flash Fiction are:
Brevity – It compresses an entire story into the space of a few paragraphs
A complete plot – It is indeed a story, with a beginning, middle, and end
Surprise – Great stories often incorporate surprise, usually in the form of a twist ending or an unexpected last line. The aim is to prompt the reader to think deeply about the true meaning of the story
The Review & Selection Process
Submitted works will be given numbers only and will not contain the name of the author when they are sent to the PWIRB for review. All submissions will be reviewed by the PWIRB, who will select their favorites in each category.
The favorite works selected by the PWIRB will be provided to the ICO for publication in the April 30, 2021 150th + 1 Anniversary special section. Depending on the length of the selected pieces and the available pages in the special section there may be one or more favorites from each category published.
The authors of the selected favorites will receive a PALKI Annual Family Membership ($75 value), $50 in “Mina Money” to spend in the Light Station Store and recognition plaques in the exhibit described below.
All entries will be printed and displayed as part of a special exhibit in the Whale Watch Room of the historic 1896 Fog Signal Building on the Light Station.
Selected entries will be published in the Summer/Fall edition of the Light Station Journal, the PALKI Members’ newsletter.
All authors that submit their writings will receive a Point Arena Lighthouse 150th Anniversary cloisonné pin.
The Rules for Submission
Writers can submit as many different works in as many categories as they wish. Submissions can be made either by mail or email.
Fill out a submission form for EACH work you are submitting
Be sure to indicate the category of the work
Do not put your name on the submitted work itself, only on the submission form
Please insure that the work is legible
Submit a SEPARATE email for each work you submit
Use the category of your work as the Subject line of the email (Poetry, Dear Lighthouse, Short Story or Flash Fiction)
Works can be in the following formats:
The body of the email itself
Word document, PDF document or TXT file as an attachment
Include your name as you wish it to appear on the work and include your mailing address at the bottom of your email
Send your submissions to PAL150Writers.PALight@gmail.com no later than April 2, 2021.
SUPERVISORS NOTES, Board Meeting, Tuesday, March 23, 2021
THE EXECUTIVE OFFICE presented the long awaited re-opening plan for County offices on Tuesday as well. Someone spent a lot of time developing a couple of aesthetically pleasing attachments labeled “Mendocino County Covid 19 Reopening Guidelines.” One page mirrors the State’s tier system of Purple = Widespread (covid); Red = Substantial; Orange = Moderate and Yellow = Minimal. The second page lists the departments, their current status and when they will open to the public (without an appointment) based on the tiers.
ELECTED OFFICIALS, who are not under the CEO’s control, appear to be more willing to open their doors directly to the public. The Sheriff’s Office, District Attorney, and Treasurer-Tax Collector are currently open. The Assessor-Clerk-Recorder plans to open when the County gets to the Orange tier which it should reach soon if current trends continue. The Auditor-Controller, taking no chances, will not open until the County hits the Yellow tier which is less than one case per 100,000 residents.
OTHER OFFICES CURRENTLY OPEN are Animal Care, Child Support (aka “deadbeat dad” enforcement), Public Defender and some unspecified functions within Health & Human Services Agency. Libraries are open two days a week (we haven’t been able to determine which days).
AGRICULTURE, AIR QUALITY, Planning & Building Services, Probation, Transportation and Retirement/Pension offices will reopen to the public when the County reaches the Orange tier (which may happen in the near future).
THE EXECUTIVE OFFICE will stay on lockdown with closed doors until the County hits the Yellow tier which is likely to be at least several months into the future. County Counsel and Human Resources (which function as extensions of the Executive Office) will also remain shuttered to the public, except by appointment, until the Yellow tier is achieved.
SUPERVISOR GLENN MCGOURTY asked when the Supervisors will be able to access their offices. The Supes offices are located within the Executive Office rat-maze on Low Gap. CEO Angelo responded curtly “we will be following the tiers” meaning because the Executive Office is tied to the Yellow tier, and because the Supervisors’ offices are within the Executive Office, the elected County Supervisors, along with the public will be locked out of their offices for the foreseeable future.
NONE OF THE SUPERVISORS seemed to have any inkling that their appointed CEO had just told her putative bosses that they could not access their personal offices. Quick, name one other example of a subordinate dictating to their bosses when and how the bosses can come and go from their personal offices. We’ll also skip the comparisons to the essential workers at grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies and many others who have worked in close proximity to the public with basic precautions since the first days of the pandemic. The CEO and her timid rubberstamps don’t exactly tip the scales when it comes to profiles in courage.
* * *
THE HUMAN RESOURCES DIRECTOR presented the proposal for creation of a new high-level County position called “Director of Information Services.” The responsibilities would include Chief Information Officer (overseer of computers and technology countywide). At first, the Supervisors seemed reluctant to proceed without more info on the position and the County’s disparate computer functions. CEO Carmel Angelo then launched into an extended justification of the position. She first acknowledged that it was unusual to bring forward a new Department Head position. Without mentioning the AVA, of course, Angelo acknowledged that there were “questions about the process” — an obvious reference to her unstated intention to appoint her trusted right hand deputy to the position.
ANGELO MENTIONED that the Board’s Information Technology Ad Hoc Committee (Supervisors Ted Williams and Dan Gjerde) had said there would be an “open recruitment” and recommended the IT Ad Hoc sit on the interview panel. (After which Angelo, relying on her power as CEO, could still appoint whomever she pleased.) Angelo then falsely claimed the Supes are “always” asked to participate when Department Heads are hired. No they’re not. No one dares calling her out on her blatant whoppers.
ANGELO EXPLAINED THE PURPOSE by a roundabout recap of the last ten (more like twelve) years of economic downturn and consolidation. Angelo ticked off the Water Agency (an empty sinecure without a purpose since Mendo County has no rights to any water, although the Board sits as the County’s “water agency”), Office of Emergency Services, Clerk of the Board, General Services Agency (includes IT, Purchasing, Facilities and Fleet, Contract Management) as functions that had been consolidated under the CEO over the years.
THE CONSOLIDATIONS, according to Angelo, were all done for good reasons, presumably budgetary but without actual cost savings, and worked fine. But she said General Services had been a struggle with the various GS tasks assigned to different Deputy CEOs. Angelo then mentioned that breaking up the sprawling Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) was under consideration (which came up later during the CEO Report). The CEO acknowledged that Williams had been instrumental in advising her office on IT issues (which poses the question: what did Ted know about the IT Department Head position and when did he know it?).
ANGELO ALSO BROUGHT UP the Chief Executive vs. Chief Administrative Officer question and said that in her discussions with the Board there was a desire to look at reverting back to the CAO system. (The CEO vs. CAO discussion probably stemmed from the recent CEO four-hour closed session evaluation.)
THE WATER AGENCY has already been spun off to the Department of Transportation because Transpo Director Howard Dashiell has expertise in water according to Angelo. And in a way this is correct since with 1,000 miles of County roads to manage there are quite a few culverts and bridges that must be maintained. Angelo proposed transferring the Office of Emergency Services to the Sheriff’s Office but retaining Recovery within the Executive Office.
ANGELO THEN DISCUSSED the deferred facility maintenance at the County, citing problems with roof repair as an example. The CEO seemed to be saying that all these problems with deferred maintenance, especially IT, resulted from consolidation. Which can be taken as a backhanded acknowledgement that the operations consolidated under her authority all suffered from mismanagement or at a minimum benign neglect.
THE CEO CONCLUDED by saying the appointment of the IT Head could be considered as part of the transition from CEO to CAO. Which implies that the decision has already been made, most likely in her aforementioned closed session evaluation. Giving the Board the option to fold the IT Department Head positon into the CEO to CAO transition provided a face saving out in case the Supes balked at approving the position.
SUPERVISOR MCGOURTY BEGAN the discussion by pointing out the qualifications which require a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, Public Administration or Business Administration plus management experience. All fine and dandy. But McGourty zeroed in on the alternative qualifications which simply required 10 years of management level experience. McGourty discussed the specialized technical demands of IT and made a strong pitch that he wanted to see supervision and technical knowledge, not just supervision.
SUPERVISOR MULHEREN brought up the non-existent long-discussed but incomplete Strategic Plan coupled with the CEO vs. CAO discussion and expressed concern about moving forward with creating a new department head position before having a plan.
SUPERVISOR HASCHAK, apparently unaware of how this under-the-radar but important function would be managed, asked: “What’s going on now?” (Not much.) CEO Angelo replied that IT was managed through the Executive Office but that it needed more oversight than her office could give it. Supervisor Williams said the Supes needed to first have a discussion of CAO vs CEO (although they seem to have already had it). Supervisor Gjerde stated nothing should be done before the strategic plan is adopted.
WILLIAMS AND GJERDE, the IT Ad Hoc Committee, agreed it was a good idea for them to participate on the interview panel for the IT Director. Supervisor Williams advocated clarification of the scope of the position and identified a need to better define the operational scope of IT. Supervisor Haschak suggested taking a look at consultant contracts and advocated bringing the expertise in house.
WITH HASCHAK’S BLUNT MOTION to “approve the recommended action, the Board unanimously agreed to create the position of IT Director, adding that the IT Ad Hoc be part of the hiring committee, and that they review relevant policies, define the scope of the position and make an assessment of needs. In response to comments that these issues needed to be addressed in advance of the Strategic Plan, Supervisor Gjerde said the Ad Hoc would attempt to report back in April!
SPINNING OFF the functions that the CEO has accrued to herself makes sense if a decision has been made to transition from CEO to CAO. Under a CAO, the County’s top unelected positions (something like 20 before the CEO absorbed them) would all revert back to direct reports to the Supervisors who hire, fire and evaluate their performance. Do the Supes have the skills and expertise to manage these functions? Do they have the time? A lot of water (and fires, floods, power outages and pandemics) have passed under the bridge since the CEO position was created in 2005 on a 3-2 vote with libs Colfax and Smith dissenting.
* * *
THE SUPES have struggled with cannabis legalization and permitting almost to the exclusion of tending to other County business. All day Special Meetings just to deal with cannabis are now set for April 12 and April 19. Where will the Supes find the time to oversee 15 to 20 department heads?
PARADOXICALLY, at the same time the CEO is spinning off IT (and discussing breaking up HHSA into 2 or 3 departments) the agenda summary for the IT Dept Head mentions “formation of a Fiscal and Administrative unit” within the Executive Office! (And when was formation of this “unit” discussed and approved by the Supes?) The claim is made that a stand-alone IT Department will not increase staffing or cost because that will all be covered within the Executive Office by the Fiscal/Admin unit. This seems intentially muddled and unlikely since the CEO always tries to ding other departments for cost recovery for any services rendered. It will be interesting to see if the Sheriff and DA are willing to turn their computer systems and associated funding over to a senior County tech person, whatever their title.
CATCH OF THE DAY, March 23, 2021
PAUL BROWN, Fort Bragg. Assault weapon, ammo possession by prohibited person, felon with firearm.
FERMIN DELACRUZ-LOPEZ, Ukiah. Pot possession for sale, Pot cultivation of more than six plants.
RODRIGO GONZALEZ-GARCIA, Willits. Parole violation, failure to appear.
JEANNETTE LONG, Ukiah. Smuggling controlled substances or liquor into jail.
ALEX MORA-WHITEHURST, Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
CASEY RAY, Willits. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
GUILLERNO SANMARTIN, Laytonville. Domestic battery.
ASHLEE WILSON, Fort Bragg. Battery with serious injury on person.
JAIME ZAMBRANO, Ukiah. Domestic battery, parole violation, probation revocation.
VOTE, PLUS A TROMBONE
This is admittedly naive. Isn't America, champion of democracy, all about everybody having a vote? On an unrelated note: Do other musicians agree we could use a trombone player around here?
TRAVELS IN MEXICO
by Paul Theroux
In the course of my Mexican travels I spent some pleasant weeks in Baja, one of the areas of Mexico that had remained peaceful, frequented for its beaches and sport fishing, it's salubrious resorts and hotels. But a few months after I left (and still praising the hospitality and the great food), in December 2017 six bodies were found hanging from bridges in Los Cabos: two near the international airport at Las Veredas, two on the bridge over the highway that connects Cabo San Lucas with San Jose Del Cabo, and two on a third bridge near the airport, the work of drug gangs claiming Los Cabos — on its way to becoming a profitable tourist destination and a market for drugs — as their turf.
Mayhem and uncertainty in Mexico caused the US State Department to devise in 2018 a new, four-tier advisory system for travelers to the country, to replace the previous system of unspecific travel warnings and travel alerts: Level 1, Exercise normal precautions (much of Mexico); Level 2, Exercise increased caution (Cancun, Cozumel, Mexico City); Level 3, Reconsider travel (Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco); and Level 4, Do not travel (Acapulco, Zihuatanejo, Taxco). I knew nothing about this until I returned from my trip, although I was warned repeatedly to avoid driving in Guerrero state and not to visit Acapulco — warnings I heeded.
Barrancas del Cobre, Copper Canyon, in Chihuahua state, lies in the Exercise Normal Precautions zone and is visited by tourists and hikers. After I finished my Mexican journey, I read of a young American teacher, Patrick Braxton-Andrew, backpacking in Mexico who left his hotel on October 28, 2018, wearing sandals for a short, pre-dinner stroll just outside the Copper Canyon town of Urique. He was killed that same day by a member of the Sinaloa cartel, a man identified as El Chueco (the crooked one), who remained on the loose.
In many killings and abductions the Mexican police or the Mexican army had been involved as abettors or perpetrators. A 2018 Human Rights Watch document on Mexico reported that in August 2017, the Mexican government admitted that the whereabouts of more than 32,000 people who had gone missing since 2006 remained unknown. In August 2016, the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) concluded that federal police arbitrarily executed 22 of the 42 civilians who died in a confrontation in 2015 in Tanhuato, Michoacan. Tanhuato, famous for its fiestas, is also an important depot on the northbound drug trafficking route.
“Police fatally shot at least 13 people in the back,” the CNDH report stated, “tortured two detainees, and burned a man and alive, then altered the crime scene by moving bodies and planting guns to justify the illegal killings. Nobody had been charged with the crimes, and a federal investigation into the Tanhuato killings remained open.”
The Mexican army and police also routinely tortured suspects. The CNDH had received almost 10,000 complaints of abuse by the Army since 2000. Mexico's own national statistics office, the Instituto Nacional de Estradistica y Geograpfia, reported that in a 2016 survey of more than 64,000 people incarcerated in 370 Mexican prisons, more than half of the prison population had suffered some type of physical violence at the time of their arrest: “19% reported receiving electrical shocks; 36% being choked, held under water, or smothered; and 59% being hit or kicked. In addition, 28% reported that they were threatened that their family would be harmed.”
Journalists were targeted by both the cartels and the police on whom they reported. From 2000 through October 2017, 104 journalists were killed and 25 disappeared according to the Mexican attorney general's office and between January and July 2017, eight journalists were murdered and one abducted. All of them had published stories about the about cartel crime and police corruption, and the more vindictive Mexicans claimed the journalists had gotten what they deserved, quoting President Donald Trump's assertion, “The press is the enemy of the people.” The International Press Institute in its report in December 2017 stated that Mexico is “the deadliest country for journalists, edging out of Iraq and Syria.”
This, then, was the recent history of mayhem and the general situation in Mexico when I drove toward the border unaware of it and smiling into the sunshine, squinting at the open road and blessing my luck, thinking, The coachwhip snake is not poisonous! And I was to find that no one in Mexico ever used the word “cartel” or spoke the name of the gang – “Zeta” or “Golfo” or any other. You could be killed for uttering these forbidden words. What I heard when I asked was always a hot whisper, no louder than a shallow breath, and the whisper was “Mafia,” with a widening of the eyes as a warning. I also found that the common fear of the so-called mafia —- the drug gangs and traffickers — had unified good people and created watchful communities.
The nearer the border, the shriller the warning, until on the border itself, the US immigration officer answered one of my questions by saying, “I have no idea. I don't have a clue. I have never been there” — and raised his blue arm and the yellow nail of his hairy finger to point across 50 feet of sunny road to Mexico.
All the furor about renaming civic sites misses the point. Growing up in the Bay Area, it was a point of pride to have schools named after Rosa Parks and Malcolm X. Changing Army Street to Cesar Chavez was a bold move. So was honoring Nelson Mandela with a parkway while he was still alive. Now I live in a city with a community college named after Medgar Evers. When I see his name on the sign, it warms my heart.
There will always be plenty of buildings and boulevards named after old presidents. Renaming a handful of them is not denying history, just acknowledging more of it.
New York City, New York
‘THE LAUGHING HEART’
Your life is your life
Don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
Be on the watch.
There are ways out.
There is a light somewhere.
It may not be much light but
It beats the darkness.
Be on the watch.
The gods will offer you chances.
You can’t beat death but
You can beat death in life, sometimes.
And the more often you learn to do it,
The more light there will be.
Your life is your life.
Know it while you have it.
You are marvelous
The gods wait to delight
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
I can’t recall a single mass shooting in the US over the last decade where a good guy with a gun has been around and stopped X number of deaths by being on the spot, armed, and ready. There may be one or two – but in general – having an armed populace has not lowered the body count in the overwhelming percentage of events.
THE URGENT NEED FOR A BIDEN-PUTIN SUMMIT
by Norman Solomon
Last week's outbreak of rhetorical hostilities between the White House and the Kremlin has heightened the urgent need for a summit between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin. The spate of mutual denunciations is catnip for mass media and fuel for hardliners in both countries. But for the world at large, under the doomsday shadow of nuclear arsenals brandished by the United States and Russia, the latest developments are terribly ominous.
Whatever you think of Biden's assertion during an ABC News interview that Russia's President Putin is “a killer”—and whether or not you think the label might apply to Biden, given his pro-war record—the existential imperative of U.S.-Russian relations is to avert a nuclear war. Biden's claim during the same interview that Putin does not have “a soul” indicates that much of the new president's foreign-policy thinking is stuck in a cold-war rut.
No doubt many Americans have welcomed Biden's holier-than-thou stance toward Putin. But an overarching reality is routinely hidden in plain sight: Everyone's survival on this planet hinges on Washington-Moscow conflicts not spinning out of control.
Let's face it: Biden is playing to the domestic anti-Russia gallery in the U.S. media and “defense” establishment, while making a dangerous mockery of his own claims to be a champion of diplomatic approaches to foreign affairs.
“Diplomacy is back at the center of our foreign policy,” Biden said when he spoke at the State Department in early February. Those who've been heartened by such statements during the first two months of Biden's presidency should insist that he live up to that vow by meeting with the head of the Russian government.
But it's now clear that much more is needed from Biden than just willingness to sit down with Putin. Biden also needs a major attitude adjustment. He would greatly benefit from pondering what happened in a small New Jersey town for a few days in the early summer of 1967.
Keep in mind that at the time, the Soviet Union was in the iron grip of Communist Party leader Leonid Brezhnev and Premier Alexei Kosygin, who saw to it that freedom of the press or the right to publicly dissent did not exist inside their nation. Compared to those days, Russia under Vladimir Putin in 2021 has far more freedom in terms of media, politics and society as a whole.
The Soviet repression and violation of human rights didn't stop President Lyndon B. Johnson from trying to reduce the chances of the world blowing up. He engaged in real summitry with Kosygin. Their extended talks on the campus of Glassboro State College gave rise to what became known as “the Spirit of Glassboro.”
That spirit signified only a limited breakthrough. It did not prevent the next year's Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, or the continuing horrific American escalation of the war in Vietnam. Yet it was genuine diplomatic dialogue—at the highest levels of government—and it decreased the chances of nuclear annihilation.
In the process, LBJ wouldn't have dreamed of proclaiming his Soviet counterpart “a killer” or declaring him to be without a soul. After more than a dozen hours of direct talks, Johnson stood next to Kosygin and, in effect, made a plea for safeguarding human survival. “We have made further progress in an effort to improve our understanding of each other's thinking on a number of questions,” Johnson said.
Fifty-four years later, with mutual hostility now at fever pitch in Washington and Moscow, such understanding is essential. But President Biden is not showing that he has the wisdom to seek it.
A former U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union, Jack F. Matlock, wrote last month that “the vital interests of both countries are endangered when their governments treat the other as a threat, or worse, an enemy, rather than as a potential and necessary partner.” He noted that the shared challenges include dealing with threats posed by “nuclear weapons, pandemics, global warming and ever more destructive technologies if used in warfare.”
Matlock, who served as the top American envoy in Moscow from 1987 to 1991, added: “Presidents Biden and Putin now have the opportunity to find ways to cooperate in dealing with global threats, and encouraging others to do so as well. That would constitute a new operating system, suited to the threats of the present and future rather than replaying follies of the past.”
No matter how much we might wish to forget or deny it, we are tied together—as a matter of survival—by a fraying thread of relations between the United States and Russia.
For those in the USA's government, media and general public who don't want a Biden-Putin summit to happen, I have a simple question: “Do you want to reduce the chances of nuclear war?” Assuming the answer is yes, any opposition to such a summit is illogical at best.
If the leaders of the two countries with more than 90 percent of the world's nuclear warheads can't have a summit meeting and talk with each other, we're in trouble. Real trouble.
(Norman Solomon is co-founder and national coordinator of RootsAction.org. His books include ”War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death“ (2006) and ”Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State“ (2007).)
WE TALKED ABOUT PYNCHON'S BOOKS. I mentioned that, sentence by glowing sentence, the man was brilliant, but his high density pages and wandering, infolding plot lines gave his books a bloodless literary affectation that made them almost unreadable to me. Tony, educated as a literature major, had an academic's patience, a stomach for solving monotonous literary puzzles, and a delight in lessons learned: a difficult literary text to him was a problem in dissection, like a biology student in a lab hovering over a gutted rodent. Tony read for the challenge and possible reward of identifying obscurities and making connections. This was not my temperament at all. I hate studying books and chewing through teasingly contrived texts, the obstacle courses of deliberate difficulty. If a book doesn't engage me, I toss it aside. I read for the visceral pleasure of it.
— Paul Theroux
by Jim Harrison
A secret came a week ago though I already
knew it just beyond the bruised lips of consciousness.
The very alive souls of thirty-five hundred dead birds
are harbored in my body. It’s not uncomfortable.
I’m only temporary habitat for these not-quite –
weightless creatures. I offered a wordless invitation
and now they’re roosting within me, recalling
how I had watched them at night
in fall and spring passing across earth moons,
little clouds of black confetti, chattering and singing
on their way north or south. Now in my dreams
I see from the air the rumpled green and beige,
the watery face of earth as if they’re carrying
me rather than me carrying them. Next winter
I’ll release them near the estuary west of Alvarado
and south of Veracruz. I can see them perching
on undiscovered Olmec heads. We’ll say goodbye
and I’ll return my dreams to earth.
From Saving Daylight (2006) and Jim Harrison: The Essential Poems (2019)
COOL DISCO DAN - BING
Cool Disco Dan is immortal in the pantheon of taggers.
I loved Disco Dan’s tags seen while riding on the Orange Line from New Carrollton down to the Mall. This was back in the 80’s and 90’s.
AMERICA IS NOT A SERIOUS COUNTRY. One nut shoots up a supermarket and all other news must give way to wall-to-wall coverage of 8 million cops standing around for hours. All that's necessary is a 30-second blip: “Gun-wielding lunatic captured/killed by police.”
— Larry Livermore
‘THIS IS TAX EVASION': Richest 1% of US Households Don't Report 21% of Their Income, Analysis Finds
A new analysis by IRS researchers and academics published Monday morning estimates that the richest 1% of U.S. households don't report around 21% of their income, often using complex tax avoidance strategies that allow them to outmaneuver the federal government's increasingly rare audits of the wealthy.