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Mendocino County Today: July 30, 2012

THE SLO-MO IMPASSE between Coast Hospital Management and the United Food & Commercial Workers Union has taken an ominous turn. Last week Coast Hospital CEO Ray Hino sent a memo to all employees saying that his previous decision not to implement the union’s 3% annual pay raise would be rescinded and the raise would take effect according to the existing contract.

THE NEXT DAY, hospital workers were informed by UFCW Local 8 Headquarters in Sacramento that it was their savvy negotiating that caused Hino’s “about face,” that their agitation over the unilateral nature of Hino’s initial decision not to honor the 3% raise agreement had brought Hino to his senses.

HOWEVER, Hino's schizo “about face” memo also says that he “will do whatever is humanly possible for me to do to keep MCDH out of bankruptcy. I view bankruptcy as a lose-lose situation for our hospital, our community and our employees. The only thing worse than bankruptcy is closure of our hospital. Neither course is acceptable. Our hospital is too important to our loyal staff, our community and to our entire region to fail.”

IN OTHER WORDS, here's your 3% back but it may bring down the house.

THERE’S NO INDICATION in this inflexible exchange between the union reps and Hospital management that negotiations will continue. Although Coast's finances appear to have improved a bit in the last few months, the County's only community-owned medical center still faces all the economic pressures that small medical service providers face in a collapsing economy.

THERE ARE ASPECTS of Obamacare that might fatten Coast Hospital’s emaciated bottom line in the middle distance, but for now it looks like Hino and his board of directors may just file for bankruptcy, pounding the union over the head with a big blame stick as they go.

A FIRE on Cow Mountain east of Ukiah was called in at 1:26pm Saturday. It was mostly contained as of late Sunday afternoon but had burned some 400 acres. CalFire says it is investigating reports that “a shirtless man in a red hat was seen running away from the area after an explosion.” 47 engines, 27 fire crews as well as three air tankers and four helicopters fought the fire all day Sunday.

A 6,000-SQUARE FOOT, $1.2 million dollar hazardous materials processing center is now open in Ukiah. If you think you have something hazardous you probably do. Take it there and hand it over to the boys in the white suits. It's east of South State Street in that jumble of unwanted dogs and cats, a trash dump and transfer station, a sewage plant, and Bruce Richard's Taj MaBus facility, the one with the fancy office for Richard to preside over a heavily subsidized County bus system that carries a few stranded Mendolanders from one place to another at inconvenient times.

RECOMMENDED VIEWING: Pelotero, which translates as “Ballplayer.” The tiny Dominican Republic produces more quality ballplayers out of its 10 million people than any population in the baseball world. 11% of major league baseball players, and probably even more minor league ballplayers, are Dominicans. This documentary film shows how the country has been colonized my major league franchises, most with their own meticulously maintained little ballparks that look like flying saucers stranded in a very poor country. The gringos also maintain a network of Dominican touts and scouts and touts who compete to sign kids as young as 15. The film focuses on two prospects whose signing bonuses will lift their families out of poverty if the gringos can't successfully reduce those large sums by marginally ethical stratagems. Interesting film even if you aren't interested in sports.

RECOMMENDED READING: “People Who Eat Darkness” by Richard Lloyd Parry. A correspondent for the London Times, Parry follows the uniquely weird disappearance of a very young English woman who'd gone to Tokyo to work as a bar hostess, hoping to lift herself out of a swamp of credit card debt. Bar hostess, we learn, is not synonymous with prostitute. A bar hostess in Japan is well paid to sit with the Japanese equivalent of management-level white collar males as these men get drunk and work on their English. One of these salarymen, as they're called, turns out to be a psycho. I had a hard time putting it down.

THE ANDERSON VALLEY LAND TRUST in cooperation with the National Park Service Rivers Trails and Conservation Assistance Program is evaluating the Navarro River as a potential non-motorized boating water trail. This survey about boating on the Navarro will assist in that evaluation. The Navarro River is located in southern Mendocino County about two hours north of San Francisco. The primary focus of the study is between Hendy Woods State Park in the Anderson Valley downstream to Navarro Beach in the Navarro River Redwoods State Park. Please take a few minutes to complete the survey. Just click on this link to access the survey. If it does not work for some reason, please just cut and paste it into your web browser. Please pass this info/item along to others in the non-motorized boating community you think would like to participate in this survey.

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