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Off the Record (March 16, 2022)

IN A LOT OF WAYS, Mendocino County is like Catherine the Great’s Potemkin Villages, fake-front villages erected on her majesty’s path whenever she went on the road, the idea being to assure Her Greatness that everything was swell in her empire. Mendocino County has a board of supervisors who don’t supervise; a lake owned by Sonoma County; general plans with no plan; a grand jury that ignores inconvenient referrals; 31 agencies to help the helpless except the ones who aren’t reimbursable; Christian churches where Trump is worshipped instead of JC; free speech radio terrified of free speech....

THE GRAND JURY has been purely Potemkin for the fifty years I’ve called this oddly fascinating place my home. Never once, in all those years, has an indictment come out of the Jury, and all those years whomever the complicit presiding judge in this fraudulent process has been, his or her honor has patted the Jurors on their earnest gray heads for all their work managing not to disturb Mendocino County’s historically floundering government, and it’s on to the next year’s crop of honestly duped senior citizens. The judges, dim as some of them have been, with the late Ron Brown being the dimmest and the most ethically challenged of all imo, knew the GJ was purely pro forma, the DA’s, with the exception of Eyster, haven’t moved on anybody guilty of civil crime, and yet the farce continues, year after year. (Eyster compelled a chiseling supervisor to cough up reimbursements for the petty cash she ripped off or she was looking at some jail time, and tried to get another crooked supervisor who, as a long-time grifter, had been slick enough not to keep viable records of his thefts of petty cash. But the GJ in that case had at least done the spade work.)

WAY BACK, when I was still naive enough to think the Grand Jury was interested in local corruption, I trundled over the hill to present my irrefutable case against the Mendocino County Office of Education, in those days a criminal enterprise. One elderly Juror was totally zoned out, issuing what sounded like bird whistles. Another geezer demanded, “You say the Boonville school board is a bunch of goddam crooks? Why some of the finest people I know live in Boonville.” I knew then I was in the wrong pew, but eventually a couple of the most egregious criminals at MCOE did some jail time when their thefts became so obvious even DA Massini couldn’t ignore them.

AS A FAITHFUL READER of the Independent Coast Observer out of Gualala —”Community Committed Since April 1969” — I wondered, briefly, if Boonville’s weekly newspaper meets the community commitment standard. I hope not, but let’s not quibble. Anyhoo, as one of my crazy aunt used to say as she rambled on about nothing in particular, this ICO page 7 headline caught my eye: “Newsom for prez? Dems might have no one else.” The column was by a usually tame old hack named Thomas D. Elias, syndicated free to what’s left of outback newspapers throughout California. But Elias, whose stuff I usually scan for occasional nuggets of unintentional humor, in this blast at the lameness of Democrats, went on, for him, a kind of prose rampage, rightly denouncing the Democrats as a bunch woke clowns who don’t have a single viable candidate for president. “Look what Democrats have available. There’s a seriously aging Biden, who says he will run two years from now, but appears — with his mincing walk — like he might not be physically able…”

MIGHT NOT? Biden’s handlers are hoping he lasts another week. But Elias isn’t finished stomping the Democrats: “…Harris was so bad a presidential primary candidate in 2020 that she had to drop out before even one primary or caucus ballot was cast.”

ELIAS is correct, for the first time in many years. The Democrats don't have anybody but Newsom who, all things considered, isn’t all that bad. He’s smart and he can talk. (It’s a low bar in politics these days.) Of course he has “baggage,” as they say, but nothing on the order of the Orange Man’s baggage, not so much as a tote bag of which bothers his deluded voters. Newsom and Trump’s baggages would cancel each other out, and Newsom, conceivably, could beat Trump. Newsom’s political record is pretty good considering that he’s attached to the most rancid crew of Democrats since Andrew Johnson. 

THE COSTCO TEST. A CostCo manager makes an average of $83,000 annually. Mendocino County supervisors make $84,000 annually, with fringe benefits superior to CostCo's. How many of our supervisors could manage a CostCo?

A YOUNG WOMAN named Sonia Waraich, was grant-funded via “Report for America” to work as a reporter for the on-line newspaper, the Mendocino Voice, and also KZYX, Mendocino County's semi-public radio station.

SHE DISAPPEARED without, of course, explanation by either media, although the rumors reaching me say she was badly used by both, which wouldn't surprise me given the spiritual Stalinism infusing both entities. 

BILL GRIMES: A portion of a letter from [Don] DeLillo appears in the April 1996 issue of Harper's, in Jonathan Franzen's article “Perchance to Dream.” The article deals with the role of authors, readers and novels in today's America. I quote the DeLillo portion in full:

“…The writer leads, he doesn't follow. The dynamic lives in the writer's mind, not in the size of the audience. And if the social novel lives, but only barely, surviving in the cracks and ruts of the culture, maybe it will be taken more seriously, as an endangered spectacle. A reduced context but a more intense one. Writing is a form of personal freedom. It frees us from the mass identity we see in the making all around us. In the end, writers will write not to be outlaw heroes of some underculture but mainly to save themselves, to survive as individuals.”

And in a P.S he adds:

”If serious reading dwindles to near nothingness, it will probably mean that the thing we're talking about when we use the word ‘identity’ has reached an end.”

MITCH CLOGG:

Today is the March seventh. I am exactly 83 1/2years old. That’s a lot of years, in heaps around my ankles, a lot of time to be walking toward the boneyard. You know you’ll eventually get there. This is no asymptote (if I use that word correctly, the line on the graph of the thing that constantly approaches the axes but never gets there—or gets there at infinity, the advanced mind’s synonym for “never”).

You can see I wasn’t good at math, but little Mitch was occasionally fascinated, even as he was repelled, by such a phenomenon: always approaching; going, going, going but never getting there. Seemed to be like something I was too lazy and impatient to identify, an inkling of existentialism, of common fate, the search for excellence—SOMETHING. This is not that. I’ll get there, but “when” is not for me to know. This is no asymptote, if that’s the word.

I know 83.5 is old, but lots of people are older than that. My neighbor is. (Hi, Bruce!) Noam Chomsky is 93-1/6th. Another friend is, I think, 103 or so. Ya never know. Human life—if I’m using the word right—is never asymptotic. In pursuit of excellence, it just seems that way, that you never get there.

Hell, I’ve forgot where I was going with this. Maybe it was worthwhile, ya never know. I’ll post anyway, and leave this damn computer to do real stuff. If it comes back to me, I'll finish this.

Feel free to jump in.

AMONG THE MANY good ideas to arise from Mendo's seething, unfocused brain is tiny houses for the houseless. Actually, the idea has been around for a long time, but Mendo being Mendo, and despite hours of public discussion, and the fact that there's county land where a tiny house development could be placed, tiny houses as doable has been forgotten.

FRISCO, where a large number of damaged and self-damaging citizens live in tent clusters on the public walkways, the city is establishing a tiny house village of 70 tiny homes on Gough between Market and Mission at a cost of $15,000 per unit, which seems low but that's what the developers say. The village has central bathrooms and kitchens. A sample unit is pictured below.

ARBOR DAY came and went, It was March 7th, instituted originally to coincide with Luther Burbank's birthday. Come, take my hand as we travel back through the mists of time to 1948 (in my case) when the schools devoted an hour or so of the teaching day to trees, importance of, and each of us was given a seedling — redwood, I think — to take home and plant. I planted a few and, last time I walked past the old homestead there was a nice stand of redwoods in one corner of the backyard. I'm probably deluded but I like to think those are the Arbor Day seedlings I planted way back when.

ON THE SUBJECT of education, the County Office of Education used to sponsor a county-wide spelling bee, the winner of which went on to the next rung of the state championship. Now there's a corrupted Science Fair culminating in prizes for all in the contemporary fashion of everyone gets a trophy because the more ambitious parents put most of the entries together.

I THINK MAY DAY extravaganzas died out in the 1950s, but at my elementary school a lot of time and effort went into erecting and decorating a May Pole. The us small boys in white shirts and ties, the girls in their finest Spring dresses for a dance around the pole's perimeter, our beaming mothers looking on. It was, as I and all of us recall, like everything else associated with early education, just something you were required to do, like crouching under our desks for nuke drills. I was mildly surprised when I read later that historically, the May Pole was phallic, a symbol of the looming summer's fecundity.

SCHLAFER CHEVRON, Mendocino, has been nationally vilified for posting the highest gas prices in the country at over $8.00 per gallon. This is the second year in a row for the Schlafers. Years ago, I managed to get myself stuck near the Fort Bragg end of Sherwood Road, at least partly because there was no sign at the Willits end of Sherwood warning travelers that Sherwood was impassable at its west end. Foolishly thinking that because I had 4-wheel drive my vehicle was unstoppable, I drove that wild 20-some miles only to get high-centered on a cavernous, mud rut three or four miles from the nearest phone, assuming the homeowner would let me in to use one. So I footed it to one house, then another, rudely rebuffed at both, and then all the way into town where I called headquarters in Boonville to explain my plight. Within the hour one of the male Schlafers picked me up and soon thereafter pulled me free from the mire of Sherwood. So far as I'm concerned, the Schlafers can charge a hundred dollars a gallon. Fort Bragg has a bunch of service stations less than ten miles up the road from Mendocino. 

DA EYSTER informs us that the David Giusti trial is scheduled to begin April 4. Dave, a frequent ava correspondent, is looking at a murder charge for a brawl over an outdoor Ukiah sleeping spot that saw the other combatant not demonstrating signs compatible with life when the police arrived. 

ROGUE UKIAH COP Kevin Murray's sexual assault jury trial is scheduled to start on Monday, March 14 in Judge Carly Dolan’s courtroom in Ukiah. Murray stands accused of sexual battery, forcible rape, burglary, drug possession, being armed with an assault weapon, and forcible oral copulation with a child under 14 years of age, rather a full felony monte for an officer of the law. Murray has been out of custody after posting a $200k bond. Murray’s case file shows that five attorneys have had something to do with his case since the original charges were filed last April: Stephen Gallenson, Orchid Vaghti, Chris Andrian, Jane Gaskell and Macci Morse. Gallenson is listed as an associate of Chris Andrian out of Santa Rosa. Presumably, the DA’s senior sex-crimes prosecutor, Heidi Larson, will be prosecuting the case.

CONFIRMATION, if any is needed, that we have too many lawyers in this country, are the television ads by lawyers claiming they'll chisel more out of insurance companies for your accident claim than you can if you try to do your own chiseling. The visuals offered by these advertising hustlers making their dubious pitches inspire zero confidence, but given the cost of television advertising these advertising shysters must be luring lots of customers. There's an Asian woman with enormous breasts promising she'll get accident vics the max payout which, I suppose, is probably true as she mesmerizes all the males in the courtroom; then there's the two Dunnions, father and son in combative pose, but my fave is the sweaty-looking dude from Jacoby and Meyers with the big, desperate eyeballs rolling around in his head like his foot is caught in a bear trap.

SUPERVISOR WILLIAMS replies to a coast resident asking for action on the housing shortage with a silly and windy opinion saying, essentially (and totally wrongly), that nothing is being done and nothing can be done.

Vacation rentals

Elizabeth Swenson <eswenson@mcn.org> wrote:

It is horrible that we haven’t made any progress in doing something about short term rentals. HAT on the coast has been focused on short term vacation rentals issues for several months, and late last year. . .

Myself and Johanna Jensen presented a plan to supervisors Ad hoc committee (Dan Gjerde and Ted Williams) a couple of months ago. We laid out the basic elements of an ordinance after researching ordinances of other counties- Sonoma county is especially useful. At the meeting with Ted and Dan, there seemed to be basic agreement about the urgency of an ordinance and what it would involve. Ted had ideas for restrictions that he wanted to check with county counsel. Now, much to our dismay, more than two months have gone by, Ted does not reply to our calls or messages, and the ad hoc has not reported to the board. While we have contact with Dan, he is only half of the AdHoc committee. And there is no indication that anything is happening.

As I understand it, even if the supervisors agreed with our plan in general, the planning department will have to draw up an ordinance (or just use HAT’s), and the board will vote to accept and then it goes to coastal commission before it can be enacted

It is urgent that the county begin to deal with vacation rentals. So HAT is getting pushy- we are starting a petition campaign to be announced very soon. The petition demanding the board of supervisors to pass a short tram vacation ordinance NOW.

The petition will be on line, as well as in person. if you want to help with this petition drive please email your contact information. We will be getting in touch closer to petition drive start date - later in March.

Supervisor Williams Replies:

On Nov 16, I co-sponsored formation of a committee with Dan Gjerde to re-examine vacation rental policy and draft amendments. It gained board support:

Discussion and Possible Action Including Formation of an Ad Hoc Committee that Would Explore Creation of a Balanced Short-Term Rental Policy for Business Licensees and Others, Consisting of Supervisor Williams and another Supervisor (Sponsor: Supervisor Williams)

We've met with various groups to gain input and we've had counsel research options. Rough ideas will come back for full board review before we're granted staff resources to continue. The flow will be BOS, Planning Commission, Coastal Commission, BOS. It's a long land use modification process and we want to be reasonably certain the proposal will pass each group to minimize lost time in starting over.

The California-voter passed Coastal Act places visitor serving facilities as the number one priority. Local does not have authority to override this and we need Coastal Commission approval. Historically, they've signaled an unwillingness to simply outlaw vacation rentals, but more recently, there's been indication that some level of restriction can be supported.

I've proposed allowing vacation rental at the primary residence (not to regulate what you do where you live), but phase out the scenario of whole house rental (often from people or businesses who don't even live here).

There isn't a quick legally supported solution. Imagine 1-2 years for all of the review, then a 3 year phase out. It needs to move forward, but this cannot be our only answer to housing. Of the 500-some vacation rentals, it appears a good many will remain empty (because the owners use throughout the year, currently rent during the unused portion, limiting long term rental ability). Some have asked for a higher tax. We're already taxing at the maximum rate allowed under voter-passed Proposition 13. When I offered a survey, I included a question about increasing the Transient Occupancy Tax on full-house vacation rentals above the current 10% to reduce the financial incentive of short term stay. About a third were against. This isn't something the Board of Supervisors could legally enact, but we could put it on the ballot. Is there support?

On March 15, I introduced and the full board passed:

Discussion and Possible Action Including Approval of Direction to Staff to 1) Determine Public Interest in Increased Housing, 2) Determine Where They Want It, 3) Determine Whether They Will Accept High-Density Multi-family Structures, and 4) Propose General Plan Updates Necessary to Realize Private Industry Development 5) identify prime locations for infrastructure deployment and collaborate with grant division on potential funding solutions (Sponsor: Supervisor Williams)

Limiting vacation rentals will add some long-term rental stock, but it's a finite count and won't come close to what we need. Why isn't there new development approaching the demand for housing? Wages are too low throughout the county to afford the modern cost of new housing units. How can we progress on wages commensurate with new housing? We're fighting over the uses of 1980s era houses, but if the intention is to grow, what's stopping developers from building housing units in 2022? Wages. In the unincorporated, take a $300k parcel, add a 1200 square foot modest home at $400/sf, add septic and well (capable of meeting state's sprinkler requirement), that's $840k. Even the "accessory dwelling unit" on existing parcel doesn't pencil out to break even.

In the 3/15 item, I offered commentary:

"The lack of new housing in Mendocino County is a recurring theme. Housing starts are primarily influenced by the cost of land, labor, materials and regulatory compliance. The County of Mendocino does not control the price of labor, materials or regulatory compliance. The free market establishes the cost of labor and materials. The State of California dictates building code. The one variable Mendocino County can control is land use. Greater density and allowance of multi-family buildings would lower the per-unit price of new housing. A recent survey by Supervisor Williams collected input from 327 residents, with 95% believing Mendocino County needs more housing and 78% favoring “Re-envision / facilitate housing needs” over “Re-envision / facilitate housing needs”.

Water infrastructure development and short-term vacation rental regulation will help but will not be enough to address the existing housing demand.

Action speaks louder than words. The people deserve the benefits an update to our General Plan would provide."

Where there is infrastructure (sewer, water, electricity at lot, etcetera) the cost per housing unit is lower. Can we find grants to bring infrastructure to areas outside our four cities?

Scale plays a factor. One-off custom homes are more expensive than planned development units. Does the public support housing developments if it means bringing down the per unit cost? What size development and where (outside of Ukiah)? Where on the coast?

FIFTH DISTRICT SUPERVISOR Ted Williams is a great one for long essays on why something can't be done, in this case his thousand-word treatise on housing while much local housing stock is rented to tourists. Ted says it would take years to formally, legally crack down on absentee landlords. Illegally, families in dire need of housing might consider simply occupying transient housing or simply burning down a couple of them as a warning to the rest of the grasping petit bourgeoisie that they're next if they continue to cater to weekenders. But neither strategy is likely to be deployed in the mellow context of Intoxicants County at this juncture in the perfect political entropy achieved by local government.

HERE'S where it's at: In a county of a mere 90,000 people, half of them doomed children coming of age in social chaos, with a small local government, it is, in Williams-think, impossible to create genuinely low-cost housing. 

HAD to laugh at Williams reference to running housing policy by the County Counsel. O hell yeah. Refer it to the Office of Obfuscation where eight or so legally credentialed ditherers are prepared, 9-5, to screw up any and all public policy for all time.

THE ONLY WAY Mendo will ever enact progressive public policy is if a like-minded slate of candidates captures control of the Supervisors. As it stands, elections are about as intellectually consequential and relevant as they were in the 4th grade, electing people who should never, ever be in positions where they can affect life as it's lived.

WHYTE OWEN: Between AirBnB, Vacasa and Vrbo there are more than 250 unoccupied single family homes available year round for short term rentals in the Gualala and Point Arena zip codes alone. There are no published data on where the owners live, but the owner of the one next door to us, rented constantly by tourists, lives in Seattle.

ELI MADDOCK: Ted Williams really seems to want to tell us what we can’t afford. Both housing and weed permits too. And septic systems are amongst the simplest things to construct save for cost. Tank, pipe and gravel. And a good ditch. Cost driven up by expensive permits and only two county approved contractors who have cornered the market. Add to that I am hearing fewer and fewer new systems are being approved. I’m no scientist but I think putting wastewater back in the dry ground would be a good thing!

MALCOLM MACDONALD: I have a brand new book out, Mendocino History Exposed. Twenty-two tales spanning the history of Mendocino County from the 1820s through World War Two. From the Pomo to 19th century UFOs, through murders and the lawmen who solved them, on to the Tire Baby. You'll find this gem at Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino. Give them a call at 707-937-2665 if you can't drop by in person. Mendocino History Exposed should be up on their website gallerybookshop.com later this coming week. You don't have to be from this locale to appreciate Mendocino's connection to Moby Dick or the Pig War, let alone the exploits of Eliza Bowman and Anna Morrison Reed. Shootouts, stagecoach holdups (with a twist), an Alfred Hitchcock sighting, and the bloodiest feud of the Old West. Who doesn't love a good feud! You get all that and more in Mendocino History Exposed.

ONE TALKING HEAD says “Stalingrad” and today all the talking heads are saying Stalingrad as they identically discuss Ukraine. Stalingrad is the city on the Volga in southern Russia where the Russians stopped the Nazi advance with close-up street fighting, bombings of civilians, culminating in a Russian victory at the estimated cost of two million casualties, total. 

THE UKRAINIANS have fought off the Russians going on three weeks now, with the battle for Kiev shaping up as a repeat of the catastrophic original Stalingrad. Do the Russians have the ability and the will to fight a Stalingrad in all the Ukrainian cities? 

HERE at Boonville's international affairs desk we predicted that there would be a ceasefire this weekend. Wrong again, Boonville, as military experts now predict this abomination could go on for months. I go back and forth from thinking that NATO should call Putin's nuclear bluff and forthrightly back Ukraine and fearing that the risk is too great. How far can Putin take it? To the limit, it seems, which is no limit.

AS IT IS, NATO countries and US are supplying the amazing Ukrainian fighters with the weapons needed to hold the Russians off, a fact which Putin has already said is de facto NATO support for Ukraine, as the fight for Ukraine destabilizes Europe and gnaws at the American economy.

“PUTIN is gambling he can raise the stakes faster than NATO and Ukraine and force a settlement. My sense is that his strategy will only backfire, putting Putin in an even worse position. At that point, there is no telling what Vlad will do next. But you can bank on at least one thing: He will strike back at the West for his failings in Ukraine. What happens when a nuclear-armed dictator with the ability to literally destroy civilization in 30 minutes is backed into a corner he doesn’t see a way out of? Pray to God we don’t have to find out.” — Harry J. Kazianis is the senior director at the Center for the National Interest.

OUTGOING CEO ANGELO  has set the local record for the pro forma Whereas sendoff our public servants award each other, but three-term Supervisor McCowen is chased off like a stray dog without a single Whereas. Why? Because the Whereas Queen didn't like him, and the five cringing supervisors wouldn't even give the guy that simple, meaningless “honor” for fear of her.

150,000 MEN & ONE WOMAN. When I worked on the movie, “Saving Private Ryan” where we re-created the Normandy Landing using Special Effects, I did some research and came across another interesting fact related to the real invasion itself. 

There is a lot more to this story. On June 6th, 1944 150,000 men and one woman hit the beaches of Normandy. That woman was Martha Gellhorn, a journalist and the third wife of Ernest Hemingway. She was going to be a credentialed reporter for Collier’s Weekly until Hemingway found out and told Collier’s he would report for them, so due to his fame he got her credential. 

On June 5, 1944, however, journalist Martha Gellhorn hid herself in the bathroom of a hospital ship — just one of the 5,000 vessels set to sail across the English Channel with some of the estimated 150,000 to 160,000 men and 30,000 vehicles headed to Normandy. 

“Where I want to be, boy, is where it is all blowing up,” Martha is quoted as saying. By dawn on June 6, better known as D-Day, her hospital vessel landing craft was on the beach of France, shortly before the invasions began. By nightfall on June 6, 1944, more than 9,000 Allied soldiers were dead or wounded. More than 100,000 others — including that one female stowaway — had survived the landing. Now that is guts. Hemingway and all the other male reporters saw the landing thru binoculars from far away. 

When she left Hemingway she was quoted as saying, “I don't need a Papa.”

— Bill Kimberlin

ON LINE COMMENTS OF THE WEEK

[1] I never adjust my clocks. Half the year I show up an hour ahead, half the year I show up an hour late. It averages out so I’m always on time…and never on time

Mendocino County

[2] When I was a kid, we just got segregated by sex into a gym and shown bird & bees movies. It instructed us about what we could expect as puberty happened, and that was it. When did all the social and psychpop stuff creep in?

[3] So nickel is currently being reported as valued at $100k per ton. According to my research, there are 181,818 nickels to comprise a ton. Let’s round this off to 200,000 due to the fact that a US nickel does not comprise 100% nickel. Still, if you were to melt these down and separate out the ton of nickel you have, then for a mere $10,000 you could turn around and sell the scrap nickel and copper for close to $100k! Start hoarding that loose pocket change and make a run to the banks! A nickel is worth 8.6 cents melt value now not bad, but a pre 1982 penny is worth 3.1 pennies. Don’t you wish you filled a closet full of pre ’64 dimes? They’re worth almost 2 bucks each. Then again if you put that dime in the DOW in ’64 you would have about 45 cents today.

[4] What Mendocino needs is a Therapist, an honest government, decent salaries for County Employees, some cops who are willing to do their jobs, and a central location where all the drug-crazed homeless persons can camp, get fed, get treatment and get rehab…

Mendo needs to clean up its act and look a little more like the modern world…

Mendo should be the Santa Maria Coast of Northern California, and it used to have plenty of tourist action…

Now, tourists are afraid to go North of Healdsburg… And Middletown is the new Leggett…

You are screwing it up, Mendocino County! You embarrass yourself…

[5] No one should ever trust a pic or video taken after about the year 2000 ever again. Multiple sources need to be employed now to verify any story (which was technically always the case, but now it’s a clear-cut requirement). Anyone who believes something because of a picture or video is either unintentionally ignorant or just plain stupid.

[6] The average Electric Vehicle (EV) has the following:

  • 400 pounds plastic and steel
  • 90 pounds copper
  • 60 pounds nickel
  • 30 pounds cobalt
  • 25 pounds lithium
  • an ounce of silver

All this dug out of the ground with solar powered excavators I’m sure. 

There’s no way we’re all going EV, even if we want to. There are already issues NOW with nickel and cobalt.

7. MENDO HOUSING, an on-line comment: The city of Ukiah and the county of Mendocino have missed so many opportunities to build more housing. The Talmage hospital facility could have been retrofitted into a new development. The former Trinity School, which takes up blocks in a prime area in the city of Ukiah, sat vacant and for sale for years. Redwood Valley Elementary School – vacant for years. Poorly attended churches sit on large parcels that go up for sale where 10 houses could be built around a community center. The Palace Hotel has been empty for 40 years. It could have been torn down years ago and provided housing for hundreds of people within walking distance to restaurants, schools and large commercial businesses like the hospital.

Cities and counties have the financing infrastructure to buy up land and develop it themselves, instead of waiting for a private developer to come along and figure out how to make it profitable. Building homes seems to be a moneymaker for thousands of corporations and private contractors. It is certainly profitable for bankers and realtors, and ultimately homeowners watching as their properties appreciate.

One of the biggest issues is that building is a boom/bust trade. When the bust comes, it decimates the industry and contractors go broke and it takes years to recover the momentum. Counties and cities taking charge of building their own housing would change that dynamic.

Our choices are wide and varied and some are more cost efficient and effective than others: Try to speed up private development plans already pending; authorize the government to issue bonds and create an organization to build housing on behalf of the community without waiting for private developers; incentivize individuals to take on the cost to build houses one at a time; de-incentivize short term rentals through taxes and fees; reduce the bureaucratic baggage and cost associated with construction; increase density and multi-use developments like Windsor did in their downtown area; allow more mobile home parks; encourage a tiny home settlement area; build co-housing; convert empty commercial buildings to housing.

We dither and debate for decades and the problem only grows, and the more housing insecurity threatens everyone. It’s not just lack of vision and the entrenchment of old rules confounding our leaders – It’s a wholesale misunderstanding by the public as well of the cascading impact that the housing crisis is creating. Instead of building lasting shelter for people, billions of public dollars are re-directed to crisis care and medical care for the needy, the homeless, the mentally ill. Even a functioning person will eventually fall into despair if they lose their housing and jobs.

We are paying for the crisis in housing already – we are just not directing the money where it needs to go: into actual homes to shelter people.

8. MENDOCINO COUNTY'S CANNABIS PROGRAM, an on-line comment: 

Well…once they spend $1 million on the software subscription they must make that money back through fines. Add the salaries of the people looking at the satellite images and writing up the abatement letters and that’s quite a bit you need to recover in fines to just break even. The county and yes Kristin Nevedal will make it sound like they are doing so to protect the official cannabis program and the small permitted farmers. But that’s not true. They are paving the way for their friends at Flo Kana to change the zoning and permit huge farms that will destroy the small permitted farms. Yes- they use the small farmers as a smokescreen to hasten the corporate takeover. Disgusting liars is what they are.

Once the Building Department gets use of the satellite images they are free to abate not just cannabis grows but any building erected w/o a permit— cabins, greenhouses on the coast needed for veggies, storage sheds, etc. Just like Humboldt you will now have a county government acting as a predator against its own people. I’m not being paranoid or exaggerating. Just look at what happened in Humboldt! Once the county finds a new revenue stream they cannot resist hitting it hard and continuously until public outrage slows it down. As John Trudell said, “Once they run out of things to mine they will start mining the people.” That is what we are seeing. Thanks Kristin! I see you and I see what you are doing. I see clearly…despite this being buried in the body of the article. No. This is not a threat just a declaration. It is the county which threatens people— threatens their homes, threatens to take away their equity through excessive civil fines. I’m just saying that I see what you are doing. And you of all people should be ashamed. Do not bullshit us w/ how it will only be used for large illegal outdoor grows. That’s what John Ford said in Humboldt… He already used up your lie.

3 Comments

  1. George Dorner March 17, 2022

    A civil grand jury has no powers of indictment. A criminal grand jury does. In the sake of accuracy, itt behooves the AVA to learn the difference.

    And no, Jim Jones was not the foreman of the grand jury. The truth is even worse. He was chairman of the Law Enforcement Committee.

    • Bruce Anderson March 17, 2022

      We do know the diff but have always and in vain waited for a DA to follow up on the evidence provided

  2. John Sakowicz March 17, 2022

    To the Editor:

    In the four terms I served on the county grand jury, during the course of an investigation evidence of several crimes was discovered.

    When this happens, the protocol is to inform the presiding judge, who then should refer the matter to the district attorney.

    In every case, except one, the presiding judge, the Honorable Jeanine Nadel, refused to refer the case to the district attorney.

    The one exception was Kendall Smith.

    For years, former District 5 Supervisor Kendall Smith defrauded the county of many thousands of dollars. Kendall Smith was claiming personal expenses as county business expenses. And she was spending her overnights at a girlfriend’s house but claiming she was in a hotel.

    Finely Williams was the foreman at that time. He is excellent.

    The problem is this: Kathy Wylie is the other perennial grand jury foreman along with Mr. Williams. However, Ms. Wylie has been, and always will be, in the CEO’s pocket. She is a player wannabe.

    She is pathetic.

    Here’s an example of how pathetic Ms. Wylie really is. During the 2019-2020 election cycle, Ms. Wylie created Facebook pages for each of the five Board of Supervisor districts. They looked like official pages with the county seal or photos of the respective members of Board, but they were not official pages.

    And as the administrator of these pages, Ms. Wylie censored content or blocked people.

    Many Facebook readers objected, and objected strongly, calling Ms. Wylie a control freak or worse. Many suggested Ms. Wylie was drunk with power, having been grand jury foreman for so many times.

    A few even suggested that Ms. Wylie was mentally ill.

    I copied Bruce and Mark here at the AVA on some of these online comments at Facebook. And I copied KC Meadows at the Ukiah Daily Journal. I also complained to the Honorable Jeanine Nadel. Ms. Wylie is unfit to serve as a grand juror, much less as foreman.

    So far, no word back from Judge Nadel, and that should come as no surprise since Ms. Nadel owes her judgeship to retiring County CEO Carmel Angel, who, in turn, has been protected for years by Kathy Wylie.

    Ms. Wylie has since taken her Facebook pages down. Alternative pages were created by honest, well-meaning citizens. These are true “community” pages. No one is censored. No one is blocked. These pages celebrate free speech.

    John Sakowicz
    Ukiah

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