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Mendocino County Today: April 22, 2012

THAT HUGE POLICE presence Friday in Fort Bragg was a multi-agency crackdown on Fort Bragg’s persistent gang problem, brown and white. Mexican gangs have rooted themselves in the community as have gangs comprised of both Hispanics and estranged white youths. (cf Fort Bragg’s “dominant female.”) With planning and leadership provided by the Fort Bragg Police Department, officers from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department, the Willits and Ukiah police departments, CHP, the Probation and Welfare departments of Mendocino County, and even State Parks. How successful the massively unprecedented raid was is not yet known. Stay tuned.

UKIAH is running a budget deficit of some $1.8 million, mostly because the City must now pay the employees hired and paid out of redevelopment funds, which no longer exist. To temporarily make up the diff, the City Council has been dipping into its reserve fund. The City also chose to pursue temporary cost cutting measures instead of permanent cuts, and health care and retirement costs just keep on accumulating.

FRISCO NOTES: The venerable Chinatown restaurant, Sam Wo, has temporarily closed as the owners of the ramshackle but historically revered eatery figure out a way to rehab the building and re-open the place. The food has always been cheap and good, but lots of old timers remember it mostly for the wacky waiter, Edsel Ford Fong, who served up insults and slapstick comedy with the food, whose orders he was prone to changing whether you liked it or not. A dissenting note here: I always thought Fong was a disincentive for eating there. As I remember him and Sam Wo, it was one of the only places to eat in the North Beach area of the city that was open after 2am, and you’d go in there half-drunk yourself and ready to eat and here comes Fong, prolonging the wait for noodles an hour or so. I always suspected that red flush in his face meant he was drunk, too, and I know I wasn’t the only one irritated by him. I liked the funk of the place, though, entering from the street through the kitchen to three floors of an upstairs maize of tables. There wasn’t any other place like it in the city, with or without Fong.

ON TUESDAY the Board of Supervisors is going to consider a pilot program to rebate a fraction of permit fees if the permit results in job creation on Tuesday. Acting Planning Chief Roger Mobley did some research on the subject and found out that no other California counties do that, and that there haven’t been many commercial permits processed lately and that they have cost between $6k and $23k (but the $23k permit was for the MTA’s bus barn and they’re not eligible, much less creating any jobs besides the non-job that Manager Bruce Richard has). The biggest commercial permit fee was $22.6k for a supermarket remodel. Somehow it’s hard to imagine a $5k-$10k permit fee rebate being much of a job creation stimulus in Mendocino County. Nevertheless, Mobley recommends “a tiered job creation criteria” where a business could get between 20%-100% fee rebate for one to five or more permanent jobs being demonstrated to have been created for at least five years. Mobley notes that the program would put a dent in the Planning and Building Department’s budget and therefore would require a one-time allocation of $50k to backfill the budget hit. Then, theoretically, the general fund would recover due to the additional business the new jobs would create.

THE PROPONENTS of the permit rebate program mean well, but we’re not convinced this is the best way to do it. The rebate amounts are probably not enough to be much of an incentive for a business to factor them into their five-year investment plans. We’d prefer that the County re-visit and improve their buy-local program to encourage more local spending by the County (and the four incorporated cities) by requiring all non-local contracts to be pre-approved by the Board and bumping the current buy-local bid offset from 5% to at least 10%.

FROM FRIDAY'S SF CHRON: “WILL – Family Soccer Flick at San Francisco International Film Festival For kids, soccer begins as fantasy. Mom or dad sits with you in the stands. You are allowed to scream and shout. Wow! Yelling abuse at the TV is permitted and not insane when the team you hate scores against your heroes. Amazing! Thanks! Perhaps you play. Commentary runs inside your head as you weave and bob and strike and score and run away to the corner flag dropping to your knees as thousands roar but there is no one really there. So you follow. Your mum buys you a team scarf. You sleep with it on. Your bedroom wall is religiously plastered. The icons of the football age watch over you. You are up. You are down. You keep on. And your compass points to football. You have to go. You grow up. And you’re still that kid. The movie, WILL, written by San Francisco based Zack Anderson, a graduate of Anderson Valley High School, and Ellen Perry, is playing at this year’s San Francisco International Film Festival. It plays the fantasy to the max. The fictional story of a young boy’s journey to Istanbul to see his beloved Liverpool play Milan in the 2005 Champions League Final. A game remembered as one of the great come from behind wins, Liverpool overcoming a 3-0 deficit to lift the silver. Give your disbelief the ninety-minute red card. Soccer loving kids and their “big kid” soccer loving parents will enjoy this one. It is rich in pathos. And there is that human thing – the romantic journey – it never ends in soccer. You find stuff along the way. And you’ll find some of it in WILL. Football is a minefield. Faith, hope and charity prevail. You’ll never walk alone. And Liverpool legend, “King” Kenny Dalglish can act. He’s in it! Will screens at the Kabuki Cinemas in San Francisco on Sunday April 22, 11.30pm and Tuesday May 1 at 6pm.”



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