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SCATTERED SHOWERS WILL TAPER OFF through this morning. Calm, clear conditions are expected into the early weekend. Particularly cool temperatures and frost are likely along the coast Friday morning. Another round of rain looks to move in by Sunday. (NWS)
YESTERDAY'S RAINFALL: Yorkville 2.1", Boonville 1.3"
6 NEW COVID CASES and three more deaths reported in Mendocino County yesterday afternoon.
THREE MORE MENDO COVID DEATHS
Three Mendocino County resident recently passed away with COVID-19. Our thoughts are with all of their families and friends.
Death #101: 77 year-old woman from the Fort Bragg area; fully vaccinated.
Death #102: 53 year-old man from the Willits area; unvaccinated.
Death #103: 79 year-old man from the Ukiah area; unvaccinated.
Public Health asks all Mendocino County residents to think about the ways they are protecting themselves and their families from COVID-19. When in doubt, consult with and follow all CDC and CDPH guidance. Vaccination, masking, and social distancing remain the best tools for combating COVID-19.
Fully vaccinated people over age 18 should strongly consider getting a COVID-19 vaccine booster to improve immunity. If you have questions about boosters or vaccines in general, speak with your doctor, or call Public Health at 707-472-2759. To find the nearest vaccine clinic in your area, please visit the Public Health website at: www.mendocinocounty.org/covid19
AV FIRST RESPONDER AWARDS FOR 2021:
Every year our first responders nominate and vote for fellow members who they feel have distinguished themselves in their service to the department and the community.
This year’s award winners:
1) Rookie of the Year - Gideon Burdick
2) Engineer of the Year - Moy Perez
3) Ambulance Operator of the Year - Antoinette Von Grone
4) Leadership - Angela DeWitt
5) EMT of the Year - Clay Eubank
6) Firefighter of the Year - Mike Zaugg
A Distinguished Service Award was also given to long-time volunteer and former Battalion Chief Roy Laird of Philo.
(Fire Chief Andres Avila)
ANDERSON VALLEY SENIOR CENTER’S DRIVE-THRU CRAB FEED
Hello AV Community,
Get tickets today and support our wonderful AV Senior Center!
Drive-Thru Crab Feed, Sat., January 22, 2022
Pick Up Between 4:30-6:30 Pm, June Hall, Mendocino County Fairgrounds
This event is intended to be a safe and socially distant fundraiser. All local public safety practices and guidelines will be strictly followed. Ticket holders will arrive wearing masks and remain in their vehicle at all times. Vechicles will enter by the grandstands parking lot, upon arrival at the June Hall, please. present your tickets and a staff member will greet your car (masked and gloved) to retrieve them and safely serve your meal in a “to-go” fashion. Vehicles will exit by the fairgrounds office. Thank you!
Crab Meal $60 — Spaghetti $20
Includes crab or spaghetti with salad, bread & dessert. wine & beer (sealed in original container) available for purchase.
All Proceeds Benefit AV Senior Center
Tickets Available at AV Senior Center, Lemons Philo Market, AV Market & AVSC Board Members. Call 707-895-3609 for more info.
MARSHALL NEWMAN WRITES: Nice to see the Navarro flow near the mean, for a change.
However, on another note, the USGS Current Condition page for the Navarro River will change at the the beginning of 2022. It does not appear we will have access to the median and mean flows anymore.
TOM AKIN: I have about 25 pounds of beautiful matsutake mushrooms. Just picked last night. Great fresh or dried. Short window for getting these lovely creatures so text Tom at 684-9759 and experience what the Japanese have been enjoying (and paying top dollar per mushroom) for many years. Asking ten bucks a pound. Thanks for looking.
WHAT HAPPENED TO HARRAH'S SR. CENTER THRIFT STORE?
Used to be that you could buy a used appliance there in good condition. I still have a good working iron I bought over 20 years ago--not that I iron much anymore.
But recently, I bought a speaker-phone there and was told at checkout that all the appliances were tested. Got it home, it was broken, didn't work. Made a special trip back to return it and asked to speak to the tester guy. While waiting for him, I found another speaker-phone and a wall clock. The appliance guy, Lance, came and told me that the item I returned had no special sticker, so had not been tested, but the 2 items I found had stickers and could be relied on. So I bought them and guess what? Got them home, they BOTH were broken.
So I called Richard Baker, Sr. Center Director, to report the deceit. His response was to tell me about unreliable xmas lights (?) which literally added insult to injury. Finally, he said he would alert Lance, who met me when I made yet another trip to return the items. Instead of a cash refund, I was given credit--to buy more damaged goods, I suppose.
Since this is a "business" which charges tax on all items and gives a receipt, why can't I get a cash refund like I would at any other business? Mr. Harrah must be turning in his grave
IN DOWNTOWN BOONVILLE:
RESPECTING THE DEAD ON THE SOUTH COAST
Obituaries in the early 1900s not uncommonly referenced the final resting place of local pioneer families as “that pretty little cemetery in Gualala,” perched on a scenic ocean bluff with its picket fence, colorful flowers, fine markers of marble, granite, and wood, and plot borders of stone, iron, redwood and decorative finials.
The Gualala Cemetery gradually ceased operations following the adjacent lumber mill siting in the late 1940s. In the decades that followed, despite periodic community cleanup efforts, the site fell victim to natural overgrowth, vandalism, and a general deterioration.
But a year ago all that changed. Thanks to the efforts of dedicated volunteers and generous local donations, restoration of this historic resource is now underway.
An appeal is being made to the public for information that will assist in the reconstruction of the original features of the site. This includes historic cemetery photographs and records, and artifacts that may have been removed from the site over the years such as remnants of wooden plot borders and finials, which may serve as templates for the restoration. In addition, many tombstones and other grave markers have gone missing and their return to the site would be welcomed without question.
An appeal is also being made to the descendents of those buried at the Gualala Cemetery. Our family history project seeks to document the lives and the contributions of these pioneer men and women. If you are a descendent we would like to connect with you.
The success of our work relies on the community involvement and support. If you have information or artifacts to share please contact me at Kay4bioenergy@aol.com. All project labor is voluntary but restoration materials rely solely on donations. Monetary contributions may be made to the Redwood Coast Land Conservation Cemetery Restoration Fund, PO Box 587, Gualala, CA 95445.
The Sea Ranch
WE ARE NOT SAYING ‘LET’S SEE WHAT HAPPENS’
Supervisors Vote to Consolidate Auditor-Controller and Treasurer-Tax Collector
by Mark Scaramella
By a 4-1 vote on Tuesday, the Board voted to adopt the ordinance consolidating the Auditor-Controller and Treasurer-Tax Collector into one combined elected position. They did so despite having no analysis or plan and against the recommendations of the officials involved and everyone else who commented on the subject. The Supervisors don't need data or analysis because this change is about personalities, not policy.
The CEO, the District Attorney and Supervisor Gjerde (the current Chair and longest serving Supervisor) don't like the current Interim Auditor-Controller. They don't like her because she has denied reimbursement for travel claims that were not in line with county policy. She's also denied the use of county funds to pay for such things as hot tubs for personal use. The problem? She was saying “no” to a trio of powerful people who don't think the rules apply to them and who are used to getting their way.
Supervisors Williams, McGourty and Gjerde cited specious and irrelevant complaints about travel reimbursement delays, decades old retirement system problems, allegedly uncollected taxes on vacation rentals, unnamed and unquantified “efficiences,” and mischaracterizations of the objections that have been raised. They didn’t ask the individuals involved about these allegations, just made unsubstantiated claims.
Supervisor Haschak was the lone dissenter, noting he hadn't seen anything describing how the consolidation would save money. He also pointed out there wasn’t enough analysis (none, as a matter of fact) and it would be better to have buy-in from the officials involved.
Supervisor McGourty (who has ignored the well informed comments of the current incumbents and others with direct knowledge of County finances) arranged to have a “real expert,” make a presentation to the Board. Pat Blacklock, CEO of Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC) and former CAO of Yolo County was on hand in an obvious attempt to make up for the lack of analysis. Unfortunately, Mr. Blacklock made a presentation on the “Yolo Model” - which was not the model Mendo’s Supervisors voted for.
The offices of Treasurer-Tax Collector and Auditor-Controller were already consolidated before Blacklock got to Yolo! For that reason, he offered no information on how the offices were consolidated or how they functioned, either before or after. Not one Supervisor pointed out this apples to oranges comparison.
The Yolo Model turned out to be the creation of a Department of Financial Services with an appointed (not elected) Chief Financial Officer (CFO). This may be the ultimate goal of the Supervisors, but under current conditions the voters would never support a CFO appointed by the Supervisors. It took three tries to get voter approval in Yolo.
Before the CFO was approved, finance staff in Yolo were scattered among the already consolidated Auditor, the CAO and the departments. The efficiency they observed was from taking some finance staff out of the CAO and departments. If the Board wants efficiency they would take the 8 or 10 finance people who work in the CEO's office and put them in the understaffed Auditor's office. Instead, the CEO's office keeps adding staff while the Auditor-Controller and Treasurer-Tax Collector are perennially understaffed.
Blacklock emphasized (twice) that consolidation (into a CFO) succeeded in Yolo because the Auditor was "an absolute superstar" who was committed to culture change. Have the Supes identified Mendo's superstar who will lead Mendo’s conversion? Do they think consolidation will happen on its own? Do they expect staff (whom they've just snubbed) to add this to their already heavy workload?
Supervisor Williams cautioned against the risk of inaction solemnly intoning, “I see problems with the status quo.” Which could be said of any county department. During Supervisors reports Williams lamented the hundreds of millions it would take to fix county roads, saying it was time to decide which ones will revert to gravel. Isn't that a problem with the status quo? Why not combine the Transportation Department with General Services?
Williams also said he hadn't heard from any employees or department heads who were against the consolidation. Which only shows he isn't listening. Howard Dashiell, Director of Transportation wrote a letter cautioning the Board against consolidation. He made a point of saying he sticks to transportation issues and never takes sides on political issues, leaving that to the Supervisors. Yet he chimed in on this one.
Without citing any information to support his claims, Williams said consolidation would lead to more efficiency and improved staffing levels. The letters of opposition from the incumbents explain why the opposite is more likely to be true.
McGourty described the current system of two elected officials as being “not truly a democratic process” because an incumbent could resign mid term leaving a vacancy to be filled by appointment. Supervisor Mulheren (who managed not to say a single word during the discussion) used the same ludicrous argument when the Board introduced the ordinance at a previous meeting. Neither McGourty nor Mulheren explained how creating a single elected position would prevent the single incumbent from resigning mid-term and magically create more democracy in the process. Or how this would be any less democratic than having two elected officials, either of whom could resign, thereby creating a vacancy.
The most telling remark of the discussion was Supervisor McGourty’s weak attempt to wrap up the discussion and refute the critics: “We are not saying, ‘Gee, let’s see what happens.’ We can make a plan to make this work.”
Actually, “Let’s see what happens” is exactly what the Board has done, as McGourty's next sentence — “We can make a plan to make this work” — admitted, i.e., there is no plan. McGourty closed by saying, “Eventually we need to look at how our finances are organized for this county.” The time to do that would have been before blindly voting to combine the two key financial offices in the county, not after. But in Mendo there is no plan, no planning process. Instead, they’re working on a “strategic plan” that their own employees say is a “waste of time.”
* * *
Although it’s after the fact now, the County Farm Bureau’s objection is worth putting on the record as well:
“Mendocino County Board of Supervisors Via Email: email@example.com 501 Low Gap Road, Room 1010, Ukiah, CA 95482
RE: 5h) Discussion and Possible Adoption of Ordinance Repealing Mendocino County Code Section 2.16.041, Adding Section 2.16.070 and Amending Chapter 2.36 for the Purpose of Consolidating the Offices of the Auditor-Controller and the Treasurer-Tax Collector
Dear Chair Gjerde and Board Members.
The Mendocino County Farm Bureau (MCFB) is a non-governmental, non-profit, voluntary membership, advocacy group whose purpose is to protect and promote agricultural interests throughout the county and to find solutions to the problems facing agricultural businesses and the rural community. MCFB would like to submit comment for agenda item 5H.
Following the action by the Board on November 15th in relation to the consolidation of the Auditor-Controller and Treasurer-Tax Collector positions, MCFB received inquiries from several members regarding the proposed ordinance. For this reason, MCFB outreached to County Counsel Curtis to clarify the intent of the ordinance and our Political Action and Education Committee also met with Treasurer-Tax Collector Schapmire and acting Auditor-Controller Cubbison.
From these additional efforts to become more informed of the Board’s action, MCFB concluded that the proposal to consolidate the offices of Treasurer-Tax Collector and the Auditor-Controller has been rushed (assumably based on lack of incumbents and upcoming election deadlines in 2022) without substantial review of the potential ramifications or benefits from consolidation. It was also disheartening to see that the Board was moving forward with this action without an extensive conversation with the two department heads to provide an analysis of what a consolidated financial office would look like. In addition, our membership expressed concern that combining two elected offices to one would not only reduce public input but would also seemingly reduce fiduciary checks and balances for the county.
For these reasons, MCFB requests that the Board not adopt the second reading of the ordinance. MCFB feels that there has been insufficient review of the proposed action and therefore we do not support the consolidation of the offices of the Treasurer-Tax Collector and Auditor-Controller. The Board should take the time to fully analyze a consolidation action and not rush a decision that could have impacts on both the county and its constituents.
George Hollister, President”
* * *
SUPERVISOR MAUREEN MULHEREN Posted the following declaration on her Supervisors facebook page on Wednesday. We saw no indication about what she’s talking about or what provoked it, but we assume it refers to the Board’s ill-considered approach to combine the Auditor and Treasurer offices. Or is it a back-handed response to former Supervisor McCowen's allegations that County Counsel Curtis is incompetent and unethical? Or simply an effort to assure everyone that Ms. Mulheren is a certifiably nice person? The Supervisor says her job as an elected official “is to stay out of the drama and do the work of the people that live here now and for our future.” But Ms. Mulheren (like her equally captive colleagues) reliably rubberstamps whatever is put in front of her, seldom taking a stand on anything more controversial than Ukiah’s Trucker's Light Parade.
“It’s not in my character to publicly disparage anyone. From the comments on social media it doesn’t seem that everyone uses their critical thinking skills. There are three sides to every story. Yours, mine and the truth. Mendocino County has some big personalities, that’s what makes us great. My job as an elected official is to stay out of the drama and do the work of the people that live here now and for our future. We don’t need to fear change, we don’t need to sacrifice individuals to make change happen. I’ve been criticized for being too nice but I’m not going to change my character to match the energy of those that need to do better for Mendocino County.”
COUNTY EMPLOYEES UNION PRESIDENT Patrick Hickey responded:
“The one truth in all of this is certainly ‘Ain’t Nobody Happy.’ In my personal opinion. Former employees after being told to perform duties outside their job descriptions and qualifications felt that they were pushed to the point that retirement or resignation were their only options. No exit interviews, No meaningful employee retention efforts. Which has exacerbated the staffing shortages. The HR office has become the CEO’s weapon of choice. The County Counsel’s office has become political and used in retaliatory strikes. All of which point to a dereliction of duty/responsibility by the BOS. The CEO must be held accountable for these issues. The BOS must do what is right for the people of Mendocino County and more importantly what is right for the County Of Mendocino employees that serve your constituents. We deserve better performance by our elected representatives. You took an Oath of Office. Think of that Oath as you Vote Today….”
* * *
ON A POSITIVE NOTE, actual progress has been made on the Crisis Van, albeit small and a year late. Mendocino Mental Health Director Dr. Jenine Miller reported Tuesday that “We have hired a second Mobile Response Team member! Onboarding and training will occur in the first few weeks of December, and the intent is that we will have mobile crisis coverage inland seven days a week for ten hours each day by the end of the month (December 2021). We are in the process of further interviews and recruitment for coverage on the coast.”
PANTHER BASKETBALL, Arthur Folz reporting: The Panthers visited Point Arena yesterday looking for a win. Junior Varsity Girls started out with the slaughter of the Pirates by defeating them 49-12. Our Junior Varsity Boys, however, couldn't keep a lead and lost 17-29. Both varsity teams handily won their competitions with the girls 37-21 victory and the boys 44-27 victory. Thursday, the varsity boys will travel to Technology High School [Rohnert Park] for a non-league match. Our next game won't be until January 11 on our home court against Round Valley. Should be exciting.
THE ILLUMINATED stained glass windows of the Boonville Methodist Church, and the Christmas lights strewn around central Boonville, seem especially welcome in these double-dark days of wintery weather and national uncertainty. Thank you, Methodist Church, thank you Christmas lights people.
THE DEMOCRATS — that small coterie of inside-the-bubble conservative liberals who shot-call for the party — don't have a single plausible national figure to replace Biden with, and are even in electoral trouble in many of their gerrymandered congressional districts. (At ease, Mendo Muffins! The Northcoast is gerrymandered to keep soft libs in office forever, hence Huff, McGuire and Wood.) Which is why I'm nominating Jen Psaki for president. She's smart, articulate, combative, presentable, and never comes off as a nut. Psaki for president!
BUT YOU KNOW in your bones who the Democrats are going to run in '24, Initials H.C. She won the popular vote when she ran against Trump the first time, and here she comes again as the building civil war kicks off in earnest.
FOR YOUR OBSCENE COMPARISON FILES: According to the Mendocino Patriots’ post, the treatment of the anti-mask group by the employees and other customers of the Ukiah Co-op “felt very reminiscent of the 1950s when black people walked into a ‘whites only’ business looking to be served and (were) turned away. All because we did not conform to the societal norm of covering our airways with a piece of cloth.”
THIS COHORT of crackpots has also compared themselves to Jews in Hitler's Germany.
STEPH CURRY is the best basketball player I've seen through my cataract-occluded eyes. Pro basketball to this jaded fan is only interesting when he's on the floor because Curry's also a great passer, and the Warriors play the game as a team, like us old schoolers prefer, although even Curry, when he's got the hot hand, fires 'em up as soon as he gets across the mid-court line. I'm nostalgic for the Rick Barry-Al Attles Warriors when the pros played a team game. I think the game peaked in the 70s. Now, it's like 6th period gym, a mad, freelance scramble.
AVA CONTRIBUTOR and author Katy Tahja has dropped off copies of her invaluable, must-have Mendo histories at Hedgehog Books in Boonville recently. If someone on your holiday list likes local history you can support a local small business buying it there.
PG&E SAYS IT PLANS to bury about 10,000 miles of electric power lines across California to reduce wildfire damage. Which, if they were the public utility they claim to be but aren't because their first allegiance is to private stockholders, they would have done years ago, and have done years ago in communities who've managed to get them to do it.
ELI LAUGHTON isn't a gunnysacker, but he is a monologist. He calls the ava regularly and unloads whatever unfounded bit of cockamamie info he's picked off from the internet, all of it crackpot-sourced. The other day he called with a recitation of the anti-vaxx catechism. I had to hang up on him when his bullshit became waist-deep, but he called back with a challenge to debate “the facts,” of which only he has possession, his undisputed facts being the starting point for his idea of a debate. The prob with the lad is a problem he shares with millions of the credulous — the anti-vaxxers and Trumpers, to name the two most credulous American cohorts — is that they don't have the tools to weigh and accurately assess information; their funds of knowledge are either bankrupt or so limited that arguing with them is impossible because they don't accept the known common denominators. To be an anti-vaxxer you have to disbelieve the principles of immunology, i.e., the basics of modern medical science. To be a Trumper you have to believe he's a reputable, plausible character. (Ditto for Biden, of course.) The credulous have their own authorities, and thanks to the eternal fund of misinformation available to them on the internet the lunatic, dangerous millions are now in communication with each other, hence the looming fascism we face.
BIDEN spoke seemingly off the cuff Tuesday in front of some posh DC hotel to advise Americans to get vaccinated. The president, frail and slurring his words, pointed to his infrastructure plans as a big plus for his odd administration, and said he hoped Congress would pass voting rights legislation. Again demonstrating he's only in tenuous touch with reality, the president said he was optimistic about the 2022 midterm elections while the fascists, aka the Republican party, are licking their fanged chops. “We know what we're for,” Biden said, “but Republicans don't seem to be for anything. Name me something they are for — they're against everything.”
NO, JOE, the Republicans are obviously for the re-installation of their down market fuhrer, while remaining against even the hint of voting rights protections, and will certainly chip away at Biden's infrastructure plans, even as the infrastructure crumbles, and remain opposed to any and all federal programs that might help everyday Americans keep afloat.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
RE THE SKUNK PLANS for the Fort Bragg headlands: What a Tempest in a Teapot!
It occurs to me, from what I hear, that possibly eventually maybe hopefully the trains will run up through the north bay again as far as Willits even. And they could connect with the Skunk, like they used to, not that long ago, transporting people and mail, and stuff.
If these guys can qualify for funding, attract investors, afford to repair and maintain their tunnel and infrastructure, while bringing development and business to the Coast, development of that GP land I don't see what's so bloody wrong with it. Not like the city is going to do anything worthwhile. All they are good at is obtaining grants, building and removing useless roundabouts, building giant swimming pools that nobody can afford to go to, purchasing and giving away historic hotels to worthless non profits that no homeless get to sleep at, all the while wringing their hands with their thumbs up their butts. A train is a hell of a lot better than 100 18-wheelers coming over the mountains, possibly spilling gas and God knows what, 100 potential accidents and toxic spills per day. I think this could be a good thing.
In only 6 more days we will be presenting the traditional Christmas Sing-A-Long in Elk.
When: Tuesday, December 21
Time: 7:00 pm
Where: Blessed Sacrament Church
Come join us at the beautiful, historic Blessed Sacrament Church for an enjoyable evening raising your voices in song to those lovely old Christmas carols such as "Oh Come All Ye Faithful," "What Child is This," and perhaps the most beautiful of all Christmas songs, Silent Night." *
There will be special performances by Martha Bouquin and Matthew Tyson guaranteed to grab at your heartstrings. Then you are all invited to sing to the music of Martha, Matthew, Francisco and others.
Gather with family, friends and community in uplifting song and leave with Christmas in your heart.
All are welcome.
Click here for the flyer: https://www.elkweb.org/christmas-sing-along/
It is advisable that we all follow the county public health order to wear facial coverings.
SATURDAY'S COOP INVASION, an on-line comment: “Their perversion of the meaning of the word “patriot” has grown tiresome. They are NOT Patriots. Patriots act for the good of all the members of their nation. Patriots don’t obstruct others from doing their jobs or engaging in essential activities like shopping for food. Patriots don’t handle fresh or packaged food and then leave it for employees to clean up, or for customers to have to buy ‘sloppy seconds’ or potentially tainted items that the ‘Patriots’ have spewed with their aerosolized breath from chanting and shouting while unmasked. Patriots don’t open and consume products knowing they will end up ditching them without paying, thereby contributing to ‘shrink’ (theft or waste causing loss of income/profit) for that business. Patriots don’t teach their children to be selfish and aggressive and mean. They call their action ‘civil disobedience,’ yet there is no civility in their actions. No, they are far from being Patriots.”
CHRIS SKYHAWK succumbs to nut-think: “Good morning everyone. Look, I wanna step carefully here as everyone’s walking on eggshells these days re: CV my tack thus far is to let everyone be responsible for their choices; but I find myself unable to resist making this comment, allowing Dr. Fauci and Bill Gates to be leaders in our CV response is a bit like making Dr. Kervorkian director of a nursing home! OK thanks for indulging me. I’m outta here!”
GETTING KINDA OLD FOR THIS, AREN'T YOU, JIMMY?
On Friday, December 10, 2021 at approximately 8pm a Mendocino County Sheriff Deputy saw a vehicle with expired registration pull into a parking lot in the 700 block of South State Street in Ukiah.
The Deputy contacted the driver of the vehicle who was identified as James Harnett, 61, of Ukiah.
The Deputy obtained consent to search the vehicle. During the search, the Deputy located approximately one ounce of suspected methamphetamine in a black bag that was located on the front passenger side floorboard. Also located in the bag was drug paraphernalia, a digital scale, and packaging for the suspected methamphetamine.
Harnett was arrested for possession of a controlled substance for sale, transportation of a controlled substance, and an active misdemeanor warrant for his arrest out of Mendocino County.
Harnett was booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held in lieu of $26,500 bail.
COVID-19 UPDATE with Health Officer Dr. Coren on Friday, December 17th at 2:00 pm.
If your outlet would like to participate in the Q&A section of this Update, please have one of your reporters RSVP to this email by noon on Friday and we will send a Zoom invite.
We appreciate all that you do, and look forward to seeing you there.
Public Health Media
1120 S. Dora Street
Ukiah, CA 95482
WHEELCHAIR made for Holy Roman Empress Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, 1740.
THERE’S NOWHERE TO LIVE HERE
Addressing Mendocino County’s Housing Crisis
A Report by SEIU 1021 Mendocino County Chapters
“If I work here, I should be able to afford to live here,” has become an all-too-common refrain from public employees in Mendocino County.
SEIU Local 1021, a union of 60,000 members in Northern California, represents about 1,100 public employees in Mendocino County--workers at the County, the superior court, Mendocino College, and the City of Ft. Bragg. A concern that dominates many union meetings and discussions has been the lack of affordable housing here in the county. As we heard more and more stories of employers struggling to attract qualified candidates, even well-paid professionals, because of the lack of housing, Local 1021 established a working group to investigate the issue and determine what we could do to address this problem.
Mendocino County, like much of the state of California, is experiencing a crisis of housing availability and affordability. The lack of housing is driving up house prices and rents. It is impacting employers who are unable to recruit employees because of the historically low vacancy rates and slow pace of new construction. This is also making it harder for young people who have grown up here to find a place of their own. The reasons for the housing crunch are varied and complex: a construction worker shortage; burdensome and expensive permitting and development fees; housing being converted to short term vacation rentals; water and sewer hookup limitations; housing stock loss due to wildfires; limited sites available for development because of zoning, fire danger, coastal restrictions, etc.
The Mendocino County Grand Jury issued a report in July 2021, pointing out “the critical lack of affordable and available housing” and is calling on the County to work with municipalities, special districts, and tribal governments to help spur housing development.
Mendocino County’s population is relatively stable, and growth is projected to be modest over the next five years, so meeting the county’s housing needs should be an achievable goal. The shortage is not just in the affordable housing segment, but with workforce and middle-income housing as well.
Municipalities and the county government have taken steps to address the housing shortage with some success: creating housing land trusts, getting state and federal funds to develop affordable housing, and expanding and streamlining the process for developing accessory dwelling units. But more action is needed.
There are many local organizations that have been working on this issue. They have helped raise awareness about the problem and have made progress in crafting solutions to address it. As part of our efforts to better understand the roots and extent of the problem, we have reached out to and met with these local organizations. We have reviewed stacks of reports and analyses, including the County’s Housing Element. In addition, we surveyed our membership about their personal experiences and aspirations concerning housing.
In our inquiries we heard many stories of new employees living for months in motels or campgrounds while they searched unsuccessfully for a home to rent or buy. We heard shocking stories of full-time employees who have struggled with homelessness despite what are considered to be “good” jobs. It is an issue that impacts not just low-income individuals, but well-compensated professionals as well.
We know that this is a multi-faceted and complex issue that local and state governments have been grappling with for some time. We understand that there are no quick fixes or overnight solutions. But it has become clear to us that it is an issue that we must engage in as a union to represent our members.
Every community must have a skilled, healthy, and adequately housed workforce to have a sustainable economy. If a community lacks any of these elements, then the workforce looks to other locations to satisfy their career and housing needs. Employers follow the same logic. For instance, if they cannot find adequate housing for their workforce, employers will consider alternative locations where affordable housing is more available.
This report seeks to bring housing data into tight focus, highlighting the immense economic burden posed on low- and middle-income households by the housing crisis. Based on our findings, we argue for the implementation of a diverse array of policies and programs that have already been identified and proposed to increase housing affordability for the county’s working families. The challenge is to marshal the resources and the support to carry this range of proposals through. The County owes this to both its residents and its employees.
We have sought to pull together a number of the most promising ideas that have been brought forward by individuals and organizations working to address housing affordability and availability here in Mendocino County; we commit to supporting these efforts.
CATCH OF THE DAY, December 15, 2021
JENNIFER BOWMAN, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
JOHN BRUNK, Fort Bragg. Shoplifting, trespassing, witness intimidation.
DENISE DUARTE, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
JOSHUA HARDAGE-VERGEER, Ukiah. Trespassing.
RIGOBERTO PEREZ, Ukiah. Failure to appear.
RANDY PIKE, Ukiah. Parole violation, failure to appear.
RICKY PONTS, Fort Bragg. Burglary, protective order violation.
MELINA SALAZAR, Fort Bragg. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
FEDERICO TRUJILLO, Clearlake/Ukiah. County parole violation.
CHRIS TUGGLE, Failure to register, Probation revocation.
Total U.S. deaths from Covid-19 have passed 800,000, despite highly effective vaccines becoming available exactly a year ago yesterday. It’s hard to imagine how much worse the picture could be, but researchers just updated a Commonwealth Fund study to tell us vaccination prevented 1.1 million more deaths and 10.3 million more hospitalizations from the coronavirus. That estimate is a jump from July’s figure of 279,000 deaths and 1.25 million hospitalizations, reflecting the Delta variant's emergence but not yet accounting for Omicron. “These estimates of vaccination impact may seem startlingly high. But they are consistent with the extraordinary effectiveness of vaccines,” the researchers write. “Our findings highlight the ongoing tragedy of preventable death and hospitalization occurring among unvaccinated Americans.”
FINE TUNING ARMAGEDDON
by Norman Solomon
Nuclear weapons are at the pinnacle of what Martin Luther King Jr. called "the madness of militarism." If you'd rather not think about them, that's understandable. But such a coping strategy has limited value. And those who are making vast profits from preparations for global annihilation are further empowered by our avoidance.
At the level of national policy, nuclear derangement is so normalized that few give it a second thought. Yet normal does not mean sane. As an epigraph to his brilliant book "The Doomsday Machine," Daniel Ellsberg provides a chillingly apt quote from Friedrich Nietzsche: "Madness in individuals is something rare; but in groups, parties, nations, and epochs, it is the rule."
Now, some policy technocrats for the U.S. nuclear arsenal and some advocates for arms control are locked in a heated dispute over the future of ICBMs, or intercontinental ballistic missiles. It's an argument between the "national security" establishment — hell-bent on "modernizing" ICBMs — and various nuclear-policy critics, who prefer to keep the current ICBMs in place. Both sides are refusing to acknowledge the profound need to get rid of them entirely.
Elimination of ICBMs would substantially reduce the chances of a worldwide nuclear holocaust. ICBMs are uniquely vulnerable to effective attack, and thus have no deterrent value. Instead of being a "deterrent," ICBMs are actually land-based sitting ducks, and for that reason are set up for "launch on warning."
As a result, whether a report of incoming missiles is accurate or a false alarm, the commander in chief would have to quickly decide whether to "use or lose" the ICBMs. "If our sensors indicate that enemy missiles are en route to the United States, the president would have to consider launching ICBMs before the enemy missiles could destroy them; once they are launched, they cannot be recalled," former Defense Secretary William Perry wrote. "The president would have less than 30 minutes to make that terrible decision."
Experts like Perry are clear as they advocate for scrapping ICBMs. But the ICBM force is a sacred cash cow. And news reports currently feature arguments over exactly how to keep feeding it.
Last week, the Guardian reported that the Pentagon has ordered an external study of options for ICBMs. Trouble is, the two options under consideration — extending the life of the currently deployed Minuteman III missiles or replacing them with a new missile system — do nothing to reduce the escalating dangers of nuclear war, whereas eliminating the nation's ICBMs would greatly reduce those dangers.
But an enormous ICBM lobbying apparatus remains in high gear, with huge corporate profits at stake. Northrop Grumman has landed a $13.3 billion contract to proceed with developing a new ICBM system, misleadingly named the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent. It's all in sync with automatic political devotion to ICBMs in Congress and the executive branch.
The sea-based and air-based portions of the "nuclear triad" (submarines and bombers) are invulnerable to successful attack — unlike ICBMs, which are completely vulnerable. The subs and bombers, able to destroy any and all targeted countries many times over, provide vastly more "deterrent" than anyone could ever reasonably want.
In sharp contrast, ICBMs are the opposite of a deterrent. In effect, they're prime targets for a nuclear first strike because of their vulnerability, and for the same reason would have no "deterrent" capacity to retaliate. ICBMs have only one foreseeable function — to serve as a "sponge" to absorb the start of a nuclear war.
Armed and on hair-trigger alert, the country's 400 ICBMs are deeply entrenched — not only within underground silos scattered across five states, but also in the mindsets of the U.S. political establishment. If the goal is to get big campaign contributions from military contractors, fuel the humongous profits of the military-industrial complex, and stay in sync with the outlooks that dominate corporate media, those mindsets are logical. If the goal is to prevent nuclear war, the mindsets are unhinged.
As Ellsberg and I wrote in an article for The Nation this fall, "Getting trapped in an argument about the cheapest way to keep ICBMs operational in their silos is ultimately no-win. The history of nuclear weapons in this country tells us that people will spare no expense if they believe that spending the money will really make them and their loved ones safer — we must show them that ICBMs actually do the opposite." Even if Russia and China didn't reciprocate at all, the result of U.S. closure of all its ICBMs would be to greatly reduce the chances of nuclear war.
On Capitol Hill, such realities are hazy and beside the point compared to straight-ahead tunnel vision and momentum of conventional wisdom. For members of Congress, routinely voting to appropriate billions of dollars for nuclear weaponry seems natural. Challenging rote assumptions about ICBMs will be essential to disrupt the march toward nuclear apocalypse.
(Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death” and "Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State.")
NO ON DR. CALIFF
by Senator Bernard Sanders
At a time when the American people pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs and as drug companies continue to be the most powerful special interest in Washington, we need leadership at the FDA that is finally willing to stand up to the greed and power of the pharmaceutical industry.
Not only have the drug companies spent over $4.5 billion on lobbying and hundreds of millions of dollars in campaign contributions over the past 20 years, they also have created a revolving door between the FDA and the industry. Shockingly, nine out of the last ten FDA Commissioners went on to work for the pharmaceutical industry or to serve on a prescription drug company’s board of directors.
Unfortunately, Dr. Califf is not the exception to that rule. After leaving the FDA in 2017, he received consulting fees from Merck, Biogen and Eli Lilly. According to his financial disclosure form, he owns up to $8 million in the stocks of major drug companies. That is exactly the close relationship Big Pharma has exploited to regulate the FDA, instead of the FDA regulating them.
The Covid-19 pandemic has made clearer than ever the choice between pharmaceutical profits and the health of our people. In this critical moment, Dr. Califf is not the leader Americans need at the FDA and I will oppose his nomination.
NO SHOES, NO SHIRT, NO MASK = NO SERVICE, A LEGAL REVIEW
by Christopher Dolan & Lourdes De Armas
…“In 1905 the Supreme Court ruled in Jacobson vs. Massachusetts that a mask requirement didn’t violate Jacobsen’s right to liberty or ‘the inherent right of every freeman to care for his own body and health in such way as to him seems best.’ The court added that ‘[t]here are manifold restraints to which every person is necessarily subject for the common good. On any other basis, organized society could not exist with safety to its members’.” …
TRUMP’S COUP ATTEMPT
by Greg Sargeant
In his new book, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows offers up a version of Donald Trump’s conduct on Jan. 6 that is almost comically sanitized. In his telling, the rioters attacked the Capitol with “absolutely no urging” from Trump, and the notion that Trump sought to incite them to disrupt his loss is purely an invention of the “Fake News.”
In a passage that would embarrass a North Korea disinformation specialist, Meadows writes that the mob assault left Trump “mortified.” But, Meadows piously insists, this didn’t distract Trump from focusing only on the welfare of the country in his final days as president, a noble and selfless impulse that “never wavered.”
The House select committee examining Jan. 6 has just released its report recommending contempt charges against Meadows for defying its subpoena. It blows a big hole in Meadows’s pleasing little propaganda piece.
More broadly, the report will render the various GOP whitewashing devices we’ve heard — Trump didn’t really want to overturn the election, Trump never countenanced the violence, the violence was no biggie anyway, and so on — much harder to sustain.
The report reads like a blueprint for a coup — not just for the attempt that just happened, but also for a future one. It provides a glimpse into the story the committee is piecing together about this effort to thwart a legitimately elected government from taking power, first through almost unimaginably corrupt pressure on many government actors, and then through mob violence.
First, the report demonstrates how frantically Meadows and Trump’s other co-conspirators are covering up Trump’s own reaction to the violence as it unfolded. It shows this by describing documents the committee obtained from Meadows before he decided to refuse cooperation....
AMID DROUGHT, CALIFORNIA ADVANCES BIG NEW RESERVOIR PROJECT
by Adam Beam
Amid a severe drought, California regulators on Wednesday voted to advance what could be the state's first major new water storage project in decades, despite warnings from tribal and environmental groups that it would hasten the extinction of multiple species of salmon.
The vote by the California Water Commission ensured that the Sites Reservoir project [Colusa County] will remain eligible for about $800 million in taxpayer money, representing about 20% of the project's roughly $4 billion price tag.
The reservoir is one of seven water storage projects scheduled to receive funding from a voter-approved bond in 2014. Most of the money would go to expanding existing reservoirs or building water recycling programs.
But the Sites Reservoir is different because it would flood a valley in California’s coast range mountains to create a new lake that supporters estimate would be enough to supply 3 million households per year when filled to capacity.
California has not built a major new reservoir since 1979. Since then, multiple droughts have strained the state's water supply and renewed calls for more ways to capture and store water from the state's major rivers and streams.
“The Sites Reservoir project is not going to solve all of our problems,” said Jerry Brown, executive director of the Sites Reservoir Authority, and who is not related to the former Califonria governor with the same name. “If we do absolutely nothing, I can guarantee you things will get worse."
The California Water Commission on Wednesday said the project is feasible, meaning it has met all of the requirements to remain eligible for public funding. There are still many steps ahead for the project to receive the public funding, approval by the Water Commission before the end of the year was required for the project to maintain its eligibility.
Environmental and tribal groups complained that the Water Commission acted prematurely in saying the project was feasible, especially since environmental reviews required by state and federal law have not been completed.
Most of California's major reservoirs are connected to rivers and rely on gravity to fill them with water that comes from snowmelt in the mountains. The Sites Reservoir would have water pumped to it from the nearby Sacramento River.
The idea behind the reservoir is to take water from the river only when it has extra water to give, such as during large storms like one last October that set a single-day Sacramento rainfall record. Environmental groups say that doesn't make sense because all of water in the rivers has a significant purpose.
“There is no such thing as excess water in the environment,” said Steve Evans, rivers director for the California Wilderness Coalition. “That water is needed for fisheries and water quality in downstream ecosystems and every time you take it out of the system you are having an environmental impact.”
LOST AND FOUND
Warmest spiritual greetings, Please enjoy this discovery of a satsang, preserved on film in 1979, of the Jnana Yoga Master Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj in Mumbai, India: youtube.com/watch?v=gN0u5uu7RUM
I am presently sitting on the big green couch at The Earth First! Media Center in Garberville, California. Videographer Andy Caffrey is nearby, continuing to put together archival footage from his extensive video collection; the origins of the radical environmental movement. This is particularly important right now, at a time of extreme global climate destabilization. Check out the emerging climate emergency group in Washington, D.C. at http://www.dcindymedia.org who are doing direct actions. You are as of now up to speed, and plugged in to the radical environmental frontline on the planet earth. Good to have you with us!
Craig Louis Stehr, firstname.lastname@example.org
NAME THE PATRIOTS