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County Notes (December 9, 2021)

NEXT TUESDAY’S AGENDA continues the saga of ridiculous half-baked items, most of them served up on the Consent Calendar, without any plausible supporting data or explanation.

CONSENT ITEM 4F – “Direct staff to allocate Cannabis Business Tax revenue in manner approved by voters as $1,000,000 to Mendocino County Water Agency, half of remaining amount to local fire agencies and remainder to enforcement of marijuana.” Supervisors Williams and McGourty, apparently acting as one of the numerous Board ad hoc committees, recommend allocating Cannabis Business Tax revenue “in manner approved by voters as $1,000,000 to Mendocino County Water Agency, half of remaining amount to local fire agencies and remainder to enforcement of marijuana.”

THE SUPES don’t define what “enforcement of marijuana” means. Are they mandating that more be grown? Is it enforcement of the impossible to comply with permit regulations against already over-regulated permitted growers? Enforcement against non-permitted growers? Will the enforcement be carried out by the Cannabis Program? Code Enforcement? The Sheriff? The Agenda Item is mute. They also have no idea how much money is being discussed, whether or not it has been budgeted and whether or not the direction is prospective or retrospective or some kind of zen-internal monologue that only Craig Stehr could appreciate. What’s next? Enforcement of water?

UNDER ‘PREVIOUS ACTION’ the County pot staffers candidly state: “Advisory compliance has been difficult to track.” In fact there has been no compliance. In the five years since the passage of the cannabis tax the Supes have never identified the total annual sum to be allocated or the proportion of that total to be allocated to “funding enforcement of marijuana regulations, enhanced mental health services, repair of county roads, and increased fire and emergency medical services” as the long-ignored advisory measure from a few years ago directed them. Yet “follow through of the advisory has been difficult to track.”

IT MAKES A MOCKERY of the deliberative process (non-existent in Mendocino County) to spring an item like this on the Board on the consent calendar. Without identifying the funds to be allocated the proposed action only adds to the confusion. Which may be the idea to begin with. In another couple of years the issue will have been so thoroughly rehashed that no one will remember that the cannabis tax was dedicated to specific purposes by public vote.

CONSENT ITEM 4S - Approve Purchase of Two Cellsense Ultra Contraband Detection Systems for the Mendocino County Administration Center and Mendocino County Probation in the Amount of $35,370.00. As usual there is no supporting information and no mention of the “contraband” to be detected. Drugs? Bombs? Firearms? Pocket knives? Airplane bottles of Jack Daniels? Tape recorders? Copies of the AVA? Sheriff Kendall himself? The explanation staff offers is “the County of Mendocino would like to add Contraband Detection Systems to the Administration Center and Probation to increase the security and safety of the staff and members of the public.”

THIS QUESTIONABLE item may explain a recent Closed Session agenda item vaguely labeled “Threat to County Facilities” which would have allowed CEO Angelo and her subservient Risk Manager to massage the Board into going along with another needless expense without bothering to even try to justify it publicly. It’s especially unnecessary since the public — not to mention the Supervisors themselves — are still largely excluded from the County Offices, including entirely from the Executive Office.

CONSENT ITEM 4X is another stunner: “Accept the informational report regarding the issuance of Emergency Coastal Development Permit EM_2021-0008 (PG&E) to remove 389 trees within California Department of Parks and Recreation jurisdiction.”  The  affected areas include: MacKerricher State Park (70 trees) Jug Handle State Natural Reserve (30 trees) Caspar Headlands State Beach (16 trees) Point Cabrillo Light Station State Historic Preserve (51 trees) Russian Gulch State Park (140 trees) Mendocino Headlands State Park (40 trees) Van Damme State Park (46 trees) Navarro River Redwoods State Park (3 trees) Manchester State Park (16 trees) Schooner Gulch State Beach (9 trees). 

“…All trees proposed for management [sic] under this permit are within the Coastal Zone as defined by the California Coastal Act and within Mendocino County’s Local Coastal Plan management area. This project is also within PG&E’s Multi-Region Operations and Maintenance Habitat Conservation Plan area (MRHCP).”

THIS “EMERGENCY” LOGGING PERMIT was issued back on Sept. 24, 2021 and now two and a half months later staff is getting around to notifying the Supes. Supervisor Williams has been involved in direct negotiations with NorCal PG&E reps over terrible plans to cut a swath through County owned Faulkner Park in Boonville but PG&E’s removal of 389 trees in State Parks has flown right past the Board. 

CONSENT ITEM 4AB is the adoption of a resolution “approving Department of Transportation Agreement Number 210004, exclusive franchise agreement between the County of Mendocino and Redwood Waste Solutions, Inc., upon execution for the term of this agreement from July 1, 2022, through June 30, 2032, for residential and commercial garbage, recyclable material and organic waste collection for County Solid Waste Franchise Area Number Two (Ukiah and Fort Bragg Areas).” 

GETTING RID of Waste Management which gouged those ratepayers with questionable charges imposed retroactively and for bins or carts being over-filled is probably a good move. But the adoption of a 10-year franchise agreement on the consent calendar? Without any discussion of the contract terms? What will the impact on rates be? Will the new hauler continue the practice of charging outrageous fees if a bin is even slightly overfilled? Will retroactive charges be allowed? Who will negotiate rate increases?

CLOSED SESSION includes a personnel evaluation of County Counsel. Will the Supes take Christian Curtis to task for instigating an unnecessary conflict with the Sheriff and fighting to prevent the Sheriff from hiring legal counsel of his choice? For farming out huge contracts to CEO Angelo’s SF based legal supporters causing large overruns in the County Counsel’s office? Or will the Supes reward Curtis for being a faithful lapdog of the CEO, always eager to please his master no matter how bad it makes the Supes look or how much public money it squanders.

IN OTHER MATTERS, the ill-advised consolidation of the Auditor-Controller and Treasurer-Tax Collector is expected to be on the agenda for final action the following week, on December 14, most likely on consent. At their previous meeting the Supes introduced an ordinance proposing to combine the two independent offices despite a well written letter from Treasurer-Tax Collector Shari Schapmire pointing out the numerous pitfalls. The move will not result in any added efficiency but will reduce existing checks and balances and threatens to de-stabilize both offices. The Supes don’t care.

THE ONGOING DISPUTE with the District Attorney over having to submit travel claims for approval is well known by now. Assistant Auditor-Controller Chamise Cubbison ignited the ire of the DA by insisting that his attorneys follow County policy. The Supes could easily change the policy but it’s not fair to blame the people charged with enforcing the policy for doing so. But the dispute with the Acting Auditor Controller may go far deeper than a few travel claims. 

THE LATEST RUMOR is that the Acting Auditor denied the CEO’s claim for reimbursement for a C-PAP machine to treat her sleep apnea.  Worse yet, at least from the DA’s perspective, we’ve heard that she denied a claim for reimbursement for a hot tub. (Staff health-related, of course.) The rumors, if true (and they’re vouched for by County sources outside the Auditor-Controller’s office) explain the personal commitment of the DA and CEO in blocking Ms. Cubbison from being named Auditor-Controller. 

SUPERVISOR GJERDE is also said to have a personal beef, as yet unspecified, with Ms. Cubbison. Gjerde projects a milk toast persona in public but is said to be pushy and demanding behind the scenes in efforts to get his way. Perhaps time will tell if the rumors are true. But true or not, there is no documented benefit to consolidating the County’s two primary independent financial offices while these spendthrifts are running the show. The needless consolidation just lends credence to the theory that it’s more about personal grudges and control, and less about financial accountability which has never been high on the Board’s agenda. 

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REMEMBER that still not-unused “Behavioral Health Training Center” in Redwood Valley paid for by Measure B funds that nobody wanted to use unless it was free? 

It’s not free. 

According to an item on next Tuesday’s Supes agenda, veterans and other “historically sponsored groups” as well as County departments and agencies will be charged $30 per day. Employee groups will have to pay $90 per day. Other non-profits and ouitside government agencies will be charged $150 per day. Public use, however, will be an outrageous $500 per day plus a $500 cleaning deposit and a $20 key deposit.

The last time Behavioral Health Honcho Dr. Jenine Miller surveyed possible users of the facility she was told that most organizations already had free space available elsewhere so they wouldn’t use the Training Center if they had to pay for it. 

As for law enforcement use, we assume they’d only have to pay the $30 per day as a county department. But since it was paid for by Measure B specifically for law enforcement mental health use/training, we don’t see why they should have to pay for it at all. Don’t they want to encourage mental health and de-escalation training for cops?

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CEO & SUPERVISORS TO CONTINUE closed to the public meetings.

From a proposed resolution to continue closed zoom meetings of the Supervisors:

“The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors finds that State or local officials continue to recommend measures to promote social distancing pursuant to Government Code section 54953(e)(3) to allow legislative bodies to use teleconferencing to hold public meetings in accordance with Government Code section 54953(e)(2) to ensure members of the public have continued access to safely observe and participate in local government meetings.”

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A NAPA COUNTY ANALYSIS of the possible consolidation of county financial offices is circulating around a few locals who oppose the abrupt proposal to combine the Treasurer-Tax Collector and Auditor-Controller offices. The County Farm Bureau, one of the few local organizations to pay attention to such things, began the discussion. Everyone (except the Supervisors) whose seen it so far remains skeptical of the idea. Somehow Supervisor Dan Gjerde got wind of the discussion and called one of the circulators to try to defend the idea. Gjerde offered mostly organizational generalizations and abstractions to justify the idea, thinking that if the Board had more control over the position then somehow the County’s finances would be better managed. They won’t; only decent monthly reporting of budgets, staffing, projects, problems and cost drivers by department would do that. Gjerde also told the circulator that if the offices were consolidated the County’s new property tax administration system would have been implemented sooner. This particular complaint is from the same Supervisor who, like his zooming colleagues, hasn’t asked for a status report on that project in years. Nevermind that the project was handed off to two small, understaffed offices with very little capacity for the amount of additional work involved. In fact, the Supervisors, including Gjerde, have never asked for regular project status updates, and their failure to stay on top of the property tax system upgrade is one of several important projects they failed to pay attention to. They never asked the offices involved what the schedule was or what they could do to speed it up. Yet, here’s Gjerde complaining about it privately as a bogus reason to consider financial office consolidation.

3 Comments

  1. George Dorner December 9, 2021

    Just to hazard a guess…the drive to enable embezzlement of our county’s taxes is a ploy to gift some relative/friend of the administration with a highly lucrative feather-bed job. How about it, AVA? Got any likely suspects in your sights?

    • Bruce Anderson December 9, 2021

      County employment has always been incestuous, but putting the bean counters under the authority of the perps is taking incest to a whole new level of criminal intercourse.

  2. Sick of lies. December 12, 2021

    Haha several replies to this.. she wants reimbursement for her CPAP machine while she milks over 300 G is a year out of our accounts disgusting. Redistributing funding from the PG&E settlements to pay for Sheriff’s vehicles. When residents from the fire are still homeless. Meanwhile, tons and tons of surplus vehicles sit piling up in the yard. When’s the auction going to happen.? Offices with so many issues you dont know where to begin. The FANFARE OF WHITMORE! Now it sits empty, rotting roof and all. Dora street contiual upkeep of a collapsing building…whats next there? Buildings with mountains of disgarded office furniture stored for eternity. Out of compliance programs and actions no one cares to follow up on. Good job management eat some more bon bons. Seriously where is Carmel who has seen her lately?

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