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Mendocino County Today: July 16, 2012

THE SILENCE coming out of the labor-management impasse at Mendocino Coast District Hospital is becoming more tense by the week. Earlier this month, CEO Ray Hino told employees that he intended to “suspend” the 3% raise that employees were due this year under last year's contract. “Although we have seen improvement in our finances during the past three months, we still have a long way to go to be a financially healthy hospital,” Hino explained in a memo to hospital employees.


HINO went on to say that pay increases for management and non-union employees would also be suspended.

HINO attributes the hospital's financial difficulties to the bad economy; he emphasizes that the hospital has already cut other costs, but omits any mention of the hospital's contracts with doctors, which in previous statements Hino has said would be renegotiated when they came up.

FOR ITS PART, according to what we hear, the union believes that Hino's “unilateral” decision to suspend the 3% raise is a violation of the union's contract with the hospital and that the hospital's plans to enter into mediation are also unilateral. Therefore, it's not clear whether any mediation will go forward or whether the union (United Food and Commercial Workers based in Sacramento) will take hospital management to court to fight the suspension of the 3% pay increase.

MENDOCINO COUNTY’S TOURIST OFFICE wants its funding doubled and its contract reviewed every five years instead of annually, a startling request aimed at job security for its poobahs sure to be rejected by the Supervisors. Visit Mendocino County's “president,” Scott Schneider will make his pitch at the July 18th (Wednesday) meeting of the Ukiah City Council. It was established in 2009 and receives 1% of the countywide transient occupancy tax (TOT) via the county's business improvement district (BID) ordinance. Under the ordinance, lodging operators assess themselves 1% of gross room or rental receipts, raising an estimated $550,000 to promote tourism in the county. The county provides 50% matching funds.

Schneider (in brown suitcoat) with Governor Brown at a Sacto wine soiree

SCHNEIDER will describe VMC's marketing strategies and, it seems, try to persuade Ukiah's pliable City Council that it's a good idea to increase the BID assessment by an additional 1%, in addition to the previously mentioned raises for himself and the extended five-year contract for VMC's dubious services.

AFTER ALL, it's not as if people in the great outside world don't know we're here, and it's always seemed off to us that taxpayers pay half the advertising costs for the private wineries and tourist spas whose splendors get advertised. And Ukiah? A resident of, say, Merced, is hardly going to be persuaded to visit his civic country cousin, for the unpleasant swathe of fast food franchises swimming in macadam he already lives in. The big bucks people of the San Francisco Bay Area staked out their fave Mendo venues years ago, bring in fresh touri by word of mouth. We don't need advertising.

THE ANDERSON VALLEY northwest up through Westport, with maybe a side trip to Point Arena, are the only areas of the County that appeal to visitors, and everyone already knows how to find us. Ask me, and I'd say Fort Bragg is a wonderful place for a weekend and, for the more adventurous, Covelo, located in Mendocino County's isolated beauty spot, Round Valley, offers river rafting and hiking and camping in an area where it's still possible to find natural solitude. Boonville? You're welcome, but you must dress appropriately. No old guys in Greek seamen's caps and shorts, please.

WHERE HAS SHE GONE? Last seen in Garberville two months ago with a scurvy male companion of the low type she seems to prefer, Miss Jacqueline Audet, aka Goldilocks, seems to have permanently departed Mendocino County. We hope her flight wasn't caused by the attention we focused on her, but we always felt she was on the run from a family who missed her, that she could be turned around and somehow set right, and we all knew that drop-fall drinking at her young age, combined with her association with Mendocino County's homeless community, would surely mean an early exit from this life for Miss Audet. She was safer here than she's likely to be other places because here she'd become a kind of minor celebrity, with lots of people looking out for her.

ACCORDING to the meticulous Linda Williiams of the Willits News, DeSilva Gates Construction, of Dublin, has partnered with Flatiron West to become the low bidder for the Highway 101 Willits Bypass at $107.97 million. The project was estimated at $112 million. Granite Construction of Mendocino County bid $113.3 mil, just out of the running.

THE FIRES still raging in the Mendocino National Forest have burned an estimated 40 square miles. Full containment is expected by Friday, predicts CalFire.

One Comment

  1. izzy July 16, 2012

    Re: VMC – In a failing economy where Government becomes the employer of last resort, high-priced, useless studies and consultants seem to be the order of the day everywhere. Why should we be any different here?

    Wanna bet cost overruns for the Willits Bypass (should it ever actually get built) greatly exceed the $5.33 million bidding gap between out-of-county De Silva Gates and local Granite Construction?

    On with the show!

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