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Mendocino County Today: April 23, 2012

KZYX'S BOARD ELECTION results are in, and guess who won? Management, of course. The troubled, and nearly broke, public radio station is organized in a way that ensures domination of the board by whomever happens to be functioning as the boss. In turn, the boss can depend on support from the station's programmers, many of whom have been in place since the station's inception and might only be removed by serial acts of God. But, God got so bored he fell asleep before he could hurl the cleansing thunderbolts.

KZYX WAS BEGUN by a long-gone hustler named Sean Donovan, who was subsequently paid some $30,000 by “the public radio community” for doing it. Donovan handpicked the original board, stuffing it with people acceptable to him, meaning the self-lobotomized. He immediately fired people with real audio abilities like Marco McClean and Mitch Clogg. Talent has never needed apply which, come to think of it, could be said generally of Mendocino County's public entities, especially its school administrators.

THE SAME basic group of chronophages and narcolepsy-inducing on-air persons has dominated KZYX since its inception, with one smart interlude under Nicole Sawaya some years ago; she moved on to Bay Area public television because, unlike most of the people who wash up at KZYX, she enjoyed employment options. Over the years, and especially under the present stumbling boorishness of John Coate, helped along by an oafish Boonville attorney called David Hoppman, a large swathe of the narrow band of Mendo public radio enthusiasts has been steadily alienated over the years, and Coate is grinding away at the remainder; he's dependent on the steady supply of newcomers for station trustees, especially the dimmer newcomers. By the way, you can always tell when a lawyer is making decisions at a public entity because communications are suddenly inanely bureaucratic.  I'm sorry, Ms. Dawn, you'll need to put that request on Form 28B.”) Visiting the station itself is like taking the wrong country road and finding yourself at a crank lab, such is the stir in the admin offices, frightened eyes rustling the window curtains. I've wondered for years, “What are these people afraid of?” Their own general inability, I suppose.

ALARMED at the possibility that dissident King Collins might get himself elected to the station's somnambulant board of directors, Holly Madrigal, who has run strong against incumbent Third District Supervisor John Pinches, and is very popular among both the Warm Fuzzies and the Fuzzy Warms, magically appeared to take on Collins and, of course, was duly elected. A realtor from Ukiah named Ed Keller, and a Ukiah attorney named Eliane Herring, both unopposed, were also elected, and right there is your KZYX demographic, the kind of people who look appropriate holding a glass of chardonnay up to the sun.

KMUD, by way of contrast to top-down KZYX, was organically and democratically formed out of community meetings. It is much more responsive to community opinion. At KZYX, you've got a small club of the self-interested so entrenched it would take the aforementioned but attentive deity to set the thing right. Only the paid-up members of the station can vote, although the enterprise is tax-exempt, meaning in theory we all own it. In theory we all own our government, too, but har de har.

THE SF Bay Guardian is about to be sold to the SF Examiner for a little less than a mil. The Guardian is a free weekly, the Examiner is a freebie daily, and the blanding down of the Frisco media continues. The Guardian's best work has been keeping track of PG&E's crime spree, now in its fifth decade and, of course, sponsored by the PG&E-dominated Public Utilities Commission. The reason PG&E has so far got away with blowing up a block of San Bruno and otherwise neglecting its aging infrastructure, not to mention imposing so-called smart meters on its trapped customers, is that it isn't a public utility in any known sense. PG&E has been fought for years by the Guardian and dogged individual heroes like the late Joe Nielands, but has nevertheless created a for-profit fiefdom of overpaid executives who squeeze ratepayers on behalf of the power monopoly's major private shareholders. The Chron has been on PG&E's case lately, but the Guardian carried the ball for years. But with the Guardian absorbed by the berserkers wing of conservatism in the form of a Denver-based character named Phillip Anschutz, owner of a chain of terrible newspapers whose content quality is roughly similar to that of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, PG&E will now have one less foe nipping at its crooked heels.

IT WAS IN August of 2010 that some 60 badged pot raiders from eight agencies descended upon a 2,406 plant grow near Branscomb. During the raid, Mariano Lopez-Fernandez of Boonville was shot and killed when he “took a position of cover and pointed a loaded semi-automatic rifle” at deputies. Mendocino County, reluctantly responding to a public records act request by The Willits News nearly two years after the event, has finally released the names of the shooters in what had already been found to be a justified shooting by previous Mendo DA Meredith Lintott. Sgt. Joseph Comer and deputies Dustin Lorenzo and Richard Van Buren were the officers who shot Lopez-Hernandez. The deceased's autopsy revealed that he not only died “of multiple gunshot wounds,” he “had alcohol, methamphetamine and marijuana present in his blood.” During the same raid, officers were fired upon by a different group of armed men, but no one was injured in the ensuing exchange of gunfire. Lopez-Fernandez was the sole supporter of a wife and child.

COAST HOSPITAL'S latest financial difficulties has CEO Ray Hino talking about the possibility of Chapter 9 bankruptcy, and the Hospital's union local complaining that they’re being asked to take more than their share of pay and fringe cuts to make up Coast Hospital's growing deficit. The union people also resent being lumped into a larger group of “creditors.” “We’re employees, the people who keep the Hospital going,” said one irritated employee over the weekend, adding that employees are not like suppliers or banks making financial demands on the Hospital’s treasury — “we are the Hospital.” And Coast Hospital is the only publicly-owned medical center in Mendocino County.

CEO HINO is angling for mediation while he also talks up bankruptcy if the union doesn't give. Bankruptcy, which should be the very last option, might seem attractive to Hospital administration because it would give admin an out on the three-year union contract the hospital agreed to only last year. But the union is still looking for good faith negotiations and doesn’t think it has reached the point of mediation, let alone bankruptcy. Coast Hospital's ratio of debt to income has alarmed state oversight agencies, but all hospitals, public and private, are suffering from the same fiscal illness — they treat more and more people who can't afford to pay and/or are uninsured.

NEW ABALONE REGS require that each diver maintain separate possession of his abalone prior to tagging. The intent of the amendment is to prevent a group of poachers from pooling their contraband.

TOM WODETZKI WRITES: “Dear Friend of Mendocino County Move to Amend. Good news! We counted up our countywide ballot petitions and we have about 2200 signatures gathered so far. With others we know are out there, we are about halfway to our target of 5,000 signatures. If we keep up our momentum, it looks good for making our goal by May 31st, our deadline! We are optimistic about getting our Mendocino County citizens' advisory to amend the Constitution on the November ballot. Thanks so much to all our wonderful, dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers for getting us to the halfway point! Please join us and help keep up the momentum! If you can help gather signatures, please let us know. Contact Carrie Durkee, , 937-2554. We need people at stores, events, farmers markets, the Post Office and any other place that makes sense to you. If you would like to take just one or two petitions to circulate among friends and family and at work or meetings, that is a help, too. There's a growing wildfire sweeping the nation to get corporate money out of our elections. Help us fan the flames and get Mendocino to be the first county in California to put Amend on the ballot!”

JIM TARBELL WRITES: Dear North Coast Citizen Ready to End Corporate Power: We need to put a strong voice on the floor of Congress demanding an end to corporate rule, and Norman Solomon is the person to put there. As a candidate in the new Northern California Coastal Congressional District, Norman has more than four decades of national policy and international peace work, fighting for single payer healthcare, ending the wars, opposing Wall Street and the corporate dominance of our democracy and media, standing firm to protect Social Security and Medicare, and achieving a nuclear-free world. He is the only candidate in the race with the history, leadership and commitment not to succumb to the slippery slope of Washington politics. To get this done Norman needs you to make phone calls for him in the next three weeks. We need to make 9000 phone calls in Mendocino County. We will have phone banks on the North Coast and in Ukiah and Willits. We will have two on weekday evenings and one on the weekend. The time to help with this effort is now. Contact Steve Antler, 937-5925 or Jim Tarbell,, 964-1323 to be part of this push to get Norman into Congress. Thanks for your support.”

ART EXPLORERS is having two great events in the same week on Wednesday, May 2 and Friday, May 4. On May 2nd there will be a fundraising dinner at the MacCallum House and all profits from both the restaurant and the Grey Whale Bar will benefit Art Explorers. The bar opens at 5pm and the restaurant serves from 5:30-8:30. Reservations for dinner are highly recommended and can be made online at: or at 937-0289. The MacCallum House is at 45020 Albion St. in Mendocino. On First Friday, May 4 from 5-7pm Art Explorers will host an opening reception for their 17th annual show featuring new work from each of the program’s 20 participating artists. The exhibit will continue through the month of May. Art Explorers is a nonprofit program serving adult artists with disabilities. The artwork is always fresh, exciting and affordable. In addition to original paintings and drawings, craft items and greeting cards are also available. The sale of any work benefits both the artist and the program. Art Explorers is located at 305 E. Redwood Ave. in Fort Bragg. For further information about the fundraising dinner or the art exhibition, please call 961-6156.

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