EXPLAIN TO ME, SOMEONE, why this thing needs a taxpayer sign off? The Supervisors have signed a deal that sells $10 mil in state bonds on behalf of Vintage Wine Estates, Inc., a private company, so Vintage can “expand into Mendocino County for the acquisition, rehabilitation, construction, improvement and equipping” of a 40,000-square-foot wine manufacturing facility on 37 acres in Hopland.
MENDOCINO COUNTY is not investing any funds and has no liability, or so it has been explained. But why involve the County at all? And you can be sure that if a public entity signs off on a public-private arrangement, if the private part goes broke creditors will lay siege to the deep pockets county. In this particular deal, for signing off on $10 million in booze bonds, the County is supposed to get $6,000 for the General Fund and a similar amount to be donated to a local non-profit.
MONDAY'S POLICE LOG includes: On Saturday at approximately 11:30am Mendocino County Sheriff's deputies received information that one of Mendocino's Most Wanted suspects was seen at a motel room at the Vagabond Inn at 601 Talmage Road, Ukiah. Angelo Want was wanted for an attempted murder incident which occurred at a Yokayo Rancheria Road residence on July 6, 2012. He was also wanted on other felony warrants for his arrest. The night of the shooting Want was hosting a party when the alcohol-fueled gathering turned violent, said officials. He reportedly took out a handgun, stood over a 19-year-old guest and fired a single round at his guest’s head. The bullet grazed the victim's scalp, avoiding serious injuries, officials said. Mendocino County Sheriff's deputies, with the aid of Ukiah Police officers and California Highway Patrol officers went to the motel to arrest Want. While deputies were walking in the parking lot they observed Want running toward a vehicle. Want observed the approaching deputies and highway patrol officers and started running. Pursuing deputies and highway patrol officers chased Want and caught him in the parking lot of the motel where he quickly surrendered. At a motel room at the location, Antoinette Ellis was contacted and it was determined that she was harboring Want. Ellis was taken into custody for harboring a wanted felony suspect. Both Ellis and Want were incarcerated at the Mendocino County jail for the listed charges with bail being denied for Want due to a violation of his probation.Prior to Want being incarcerated at the jail, a small baggie of cocaine was located in his pants pockets, and Want was also charged with possession of a controlled substance.
ALSO ON SATURDAY, the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office received calls from concerned citizens regarding suspicious boxes (cases) in various areas in the Township of Mendocino. Deputies responded to investigate the boxes and found a total of four Black Pelican type cases, all with no identifying information. All of the cases were located within the Lansing and Ukiah Street areas. The majority of them were attached to light poles and all were secured by lock and chain. Deputies identified the cases as property belonging to Caltrans. The cases were placed in the Mendocino area by Caltrans employees the day prior and store equipment used for traffic data collection.
LAST THURSDAY, at 8:40pm, Michael Tate, 51, of Ukiah, was taken into custody for allegedly molesting two sisters ages 13 and 9. Tate's bail was set at $100,000.
PRESS RELEASE OF THE WEEK: “Hoggard Films, an Emmy award-winning production company, in association with Discovery Channel is looking for growers to be in a documentary television special. This is NOT a reality show. We are looking for people to show a ‘slice of true life’ into the world of growers, including the job, lifestyle, risks/rewards, challenges, views, etc. This is a chance for the grower community to have a legitimate voice and to share with the world who you are and your side of the story. We know many of you have been burned by previous media coverage and are sick of watching the same old story on TV. Here’s your chance to change it. We are documentarians, we do not tell stories, instead we find people to tell their own stories, in their own words. Complete anonymity is possible. We are willing to do whatever it takes under your terms as to how/where/ when/who and what we film. We will invite each grower to be their own director, telling us how we need to proceed in order to keep everyone as protected and safe as possible. Identities and locations will be concealed with extreme sensitivity and care. The film crew is extremely small and will work under a low profile. The program’s airdate will be after the season ends. If you’re interested please call to discuss details. 707-273-7908.” (Hoggard Films is the outfit recruited by Sheriff Allman to produce a documentary series for the Discovery Channel. Hoggard Films is donating $10,000 for a K-9 for the Sheriff's Department which Hoggard execs will name.)
TAKE THIS, GUN NUTS: The 2nd Amendment was written 220 years ago when the only guns available were flintlock pistols and flintlock muskets that take 30 seconds to reload. This was also before the country had established armed police forces. The Second Amendment: “A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.” The main purpose of the 2nd Amendment was to prevent the militia from being replaced by a “standing army,” meaning a professional army that might have more loyalty to the government than to the people and could be used to oppress the people as the previous (British) government's army had done before and during the War of the American Revolution. Of course, the US now has a large standing army and has almost abandoned the old militia type system. This occurred mostly during the 20th century. The Second Amendment failed to prevent this as it was intended.
Yeah, this $10 million bond deal with the California Muncipal Finance Authority (CMFA), on behalf of Vintage Wine Estates, also mystifies me and a few other people in the community. You’re not alone.
For starters, CMFA is intended for economic development specifically in the area of manufacturing. How this criteria fits in with wine is anyone’s guess.
Secondly, besides manufacturing, the CMFA will typically finance non-profits…housing authorities, universities, hospitals, etc.
For instance, the City of Ukiah did a CMFA deal, and it was for a low-income housing project.
Thirdly, I get a bad vibe from the guys at Vintage Wine Estates. During public expression during this agenda item at the Board of Supervisors meeting, I went to the podium and asked two simple questions. Did the guys at Vintage Wine Estates have any of their own equity in the deal? And are the $10 million in bonds being pooled, or are they being sold as an individual municipal bond issue?
The first question is important, because the total deal comes in at $11.5 million, and I suspected the guys from Vintage Wine Estates are borrowing the $1.5 million over and above the $10 million limit at CMFA. In that case, they have no skin the game. And if the deal sours, then investors have no recourse. Also, the guys from Vintage Wine Estates say very clearly right in their borrowing documents for CMFA that they are putting up no collateral except for the property itself (the old McDougall Vineyards on Hauser Bridge Road, near the Russian River).
You read right…no equity and no collateral.
The second question is important, because if the mortgage mess taught us anything it’s that pooled investments can be a bitch to unbundle in bankruptcy court.
Well, to finish my story, I asked my two questions directly of these two guys sitting immediately to my left at the podium, even to the extent BOS Chair John McCowen asked me to instead direct my questions to the Board…and guess what? The two guys from Vintage Wine Estates sat there like two stooges, until McCowen repeated my questions and they answered (sort of).
In other words, these two stooges looked right through me. And at 6’5″, 275 pounds, I’m a tough guy to look through.
Stay tuned for more. I’m planning on having John P. Stoecker, their advisor at CMFA, on my radio show.