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Mendocino County Today: June 27, 2012

ASSEMBLYMAN TOM AMMIANO has dropped his bill that would  regulate and tax California's medical marijuana industry. He said the bill "represents my best effort to regulate this industry that has existed in a patchwork of regulations and laws for the past 15 years," but additional study could create an even better bill. "There is no doubt that my colleagues understand the need for this legislation, and I have a lot of faith in this committee that we can hammer out a well-balanced regulatory policy during the fall to answer calls from local governments, law enforcement including our Attorney General, patients, and the public to enact a highly regulated system for medical marijuana and provide a clear set of rules for everybody."

AND THEN there's the Ukiah doctor's office with a brand new scale, the old one being insufficient to weigh the new super-sized American. First day, a mega-citizen tips it at 510. It maxes out at 500 pounds.

AND THERE'S the Ukiah kid, about 11, whose dad asked him how the boy's grandfather could afford a brand new race car. The kid, shooting an exasperated look at his father, said, "Dad! How do you think people in Mendocino County get the money to buy nice stuff?"

THE PERSONNEL FILE: David Furia of Kelseyville replaces Blair Aiken as the man in charge of Ukiah Speedway, the racetrack at the Ukiah Fairgrounds. And Melanie Lightbody, boss of the Mendocino County Library system is moving on to run the Butte County Library.

THOSE CHARACTERS running the revived Heritage House, name of Schlesinger, are infamous in Baltimore as slumlords, and have been controversial and involved in litigation almost everywhere they've touched down, which probably makes them a natch for Mendocino County.

ANGELA PINCHES gets a lot of local media attention because she's the daughter of Mendocino County 3rd District Supervisor John Pinches whose libertarian positions on devil weed have placed him and his family in the crosshairs of anti-pot zealots. You'd think from some press accounts that the supervisor was some kind of wild-eyed bush hippie, and not the mostly conservative rancher he is.

HIS DAUGHTER'S several brushes with the law on pot-related charges would otherwise go unchronicled if she weren't who she is. But Angela's adventures, nearly identical to those of thousands of Northcoast people involved in the marijuana business, always gets her front page treatment.

LAST FRIDAY, ANGELA pleaded no contest to marijuana and child endangerment charges arising from two September episodes, one of which involved her two-year-old daughter found unattended early one morning down the road from Angela's Redwood Valley home. The child had been asleep when Angela dashed off to take another child to school, and how many millions of harried parents have done the same? Police that day subsequently discovered a felony number of marijuana starts on Angela's property and she was charged with a whole bunch of stuff ranging from child abandonment to felony cultivation. Ably represented by Don Lipmanson, a thrice busted pot farmer himself before he became a lawyer, Angela got the best possible deal in a set of legal circumstances that could have been much more dire for her.

WHEN EVERYTHING was toted up and the usual game of Let's Make A Deal had concluded, Angela will pay a fine, do some community service (which will complicate the logistics of being a single mother raising small children by herself), be subject to random searches of her person and her property,  do a long stretch of probation and, according to the Ukiah Daily Journal, she'll be required to take parenting classes, probably from people who have never raised children. Lipmanson told the Ukiah Daily Journal's Tiffany Revelle, "Angie has come to the conclusion that she can lead her life without marijuana, and is going to do so under the child endangerment probation...... She has stopped using marijuana, she's taking classes and she's generally tightening up her life," Lipmanson said.

WILLITS' 4th of July footrace is back. The original 4th of July Family Footrace was a 2-miler that started an hour before the parade; it was held annually from 1978 to 1994, and always drew a large band of entrants. Long time Willits High cross country coach Dave Smith is race director of the new Willits Mile that also will start and finish before the 11 am parade.  Go to Willitsmile.com for more information and entry forms, or just show up at 10 am on the corner of Main Street and Commercial to register. The race will start at 10:30.

UKIAH CITY employees are justly concerned that all City employees and departments, with the exception of public safety and general government employees, have been forced to take pay cuts and are now looking at layoffs while the aforementioned public safety budget and the general government budgets have increased. (See confirming chart below.) And no justification from those in charge. By way of contrast, Sheriff Allman is routinely called before the Supes justify his every expenditure while Ukiah's public safety contingent, and nobody's saying they aren't kept hopping, get what seems like a blank draw on the public purse. City workers are unhappy that while they're forced to take a 10% pay cut the 2011-12 public safety budget gave the cops a 2% raise.  Additionally, the City's contribution to public safety's benefits package is more than the entire recreation department's budget! This is the second year the four other departments have been  forced to cut their budgets while the public safety budget has increased by nearly a half million in the past two years as the public works budget has been slashed by that amount. It is assumed by many Ukiah City workers that at least 18 of them will soon be laid off.

NORTHCOAST PROGRESSIVE ICON Norman Solomon conceded defeat Tuesday, removing whatever interest may have remained in the November election for Congress in the newly gerrymandered California Second District. With less than a thousand votes left to be counted, Solomon was still 172 votes shy of eking out a second place margin over Republican Dan Roberts. (25,624 to 25,451, or 0.7%) Solomon made no comments about a recount or the accuracy of the count in the northcoast counties. It’s safe to say that had the marijuana also-rans stayed out of the race, Solomon would have made the second place slot with ease. But pot candidates' vanity propelled them forward, meaning instead of a national discussion about real Democrats against the Corporate ones we'll get the Corporate Democrat Jared Huffman pummeling a token Republican.

SOLOMON issued this concession statement with his Tuesday announcement. “The ideals that have propelled this campaign will continue to energize people across our congressional district in the years ahead. To overcome a status quo of perpetual war, extreme Wall Street power, chronic inequities and environmental degradation, we will keep working for peace, social justice, a healthy planet — and genuine democracy. I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to everyone who has made our grassroots campaign possible. Staff members and many others have worked long hours with great dedication, skill and creativity. More than 7,000 different individuals have made donations. Hundreds of caring volunteers have been actively engaged. With enormous generosity — devoting their time, talents and a wide range of personal resources to our campaign — so many people have given a tremendous gift of idealistic engagement in the politics of participatory democracy. They have inspired me every day, and I will always be deeply grateful. Although I will not be on the general-election ballot in this congressional race, I'm certain the political energies that galvanized and fueled our campaign will strengthen future movements for social change. This particular campaign has ended, but the imperative to create a better world continues. Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.’ Our challenge is to do all we can to hasten the process.”

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