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Mending Fences & Problem Solving with the Sheriff

I found out a long time ago that problems just don’t happen, people make them happen.

So it’s half-past enough already for the Board of Supervisors to end this 7-month unseemly, unnecessary, and unwarranted legal confrontation with the Sheriff over two non-existent issues that are wasting tax-payer money.

Not to accentuate the shallow narrative created by the recently departed former CEO, Carmel Angelo, but this is a problem she created over the necessary, lawful, and ordinary expenditures by Sheriff Matt Kendall, along with her attempt to wrest control from the Sheriff’s Office of its internal, highly sensitive computer system(s), and transfer the systems to her office.

There are 58 counties in California with each county having a Sheriff’s Office. All 58 Sheriff Offices’ computer systems are managed and controlled independently by each office for security reasons. These systems contain all kinds of sensitive information including operational and tactical plans, ongoing investigations, confidential informants, etc.

The battle over expenditures deals mostly with ordinary and necessary overtime expenditures that exceeded the Sheriff’s original budget. The CEO threatened to invoke an obscure California Government Code provision where a public official who exceeds a departmental budget can in some instances be held personally liable to pay for such overruns. I don’t believe the record establishes whether this arcane law has ever been invoked anywhere at anytime in the state of California. It’s certainly never been even cited in the history of this County until last year.

I’ve been in Mendocino County since Tim Shea was Sheriff, and I can tell you that Shea and every succeeding Sheriff has exceeded their budgets for overtime or other items, and were never threatened with personal liability for the overruns. Those situations were always resolved by the Supes finding the money needed because the causes of the overruns were necessary and unavoidable, as is the case with the current Sheriff.

Skipping the details, because there’s been no resolution to these CEO-caused problems, the taxpayers are now stuck with additional and unnecessary legal expenses because the Sheriff is entitled to outside legal counsel due to the obvious conflicts of the County Counsel’s Office. The Sheriff and the County are now in court litigating who the Sheriff’s outside attorney is going to be.

This is a mess and it must be cleaned up immediately.

As I said, problems just don’t happen, people make them happen.

And now people need to make the problems un-happen.

The Supervisors can make this problem go away overnight.

Their CEO caused this problem, and they need to get themselves out of it by providing the Sheriff with a settlement letter that says the following:

1. The Sheriff’s Office shall maintain full control and autonomy of its computer systems.

2. The Sheriff shall not be held personally liable for budget overruns, as there is no precedent for such action.

Problem solved.

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Supes approve plan to Chip Seal Bell Springs, Spy Rock Roads

Folks who live in the Spy Rock Road and Bell Springs roads communities will be glad to know to learn that the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors have approved a plan to chip seal those thoroughfares.

At Tuesday’s BOS meeting (April 5), the Supes unanimously approved a plan to incrementally chip seal the two roads over a 5-year period. The proposed plan is to lay down a solid road base over an approximate 4-year span and then chip seal the roads on the fifth year.

Chip seal is a pavement surface treatment that combines one or more layer(s) of asphalt with one or more layer(s) of fine aggregates. In the United States, Chip seals are typically used on rural roads carrying lower traffic volumes.

The first phase of the plan is to chip seal the first 3 miles on each road starting from Highway 101. On Spyrock Road the project will result in paving from 101 to the Spy Rock School, an area that was chip sealed several years ago and funded by a Mendocino County Air Quality Management District grant.

After the 5-year project is completed, the two roads will be incrementally chip sealed.

The project involves both the 3rd and 4th Supervisor Districts since redistricting relocated a portion of Spy Rock Road and all of Bell Springs into the 4th District represented by Dan Gjerde. Both 3rd District Supe John Haschak and Gjerde enthusiastically supported the chip seal proposal, as did yours truly when asked for a recommendation by Haschak and MDOT Director Howard Dashiell last week. In the past, the County would “dust-off” both roads, a process, in my opinion, that was a waste of time and money. Dust-off is an application of magnesium-chloride formula that is mixed with water and applied with a truck. Because of the drought and an MDOT budget deficit, the Dust-off program was suspended last year. Because too many people drive like maniacs on our gravel roads, the dust-off is quickly dissipated.

* * *

About time to end wildlife “Killing Contests”

As a former hunter I have no problem at all anybody who’s an old-school hunter. What I oppose are exotic trophy hunts and what are what is known as “wildlife killing contests” on public lands.

This week more than 15 members of Congress introduced legislation that would prohibit “organizing, sponsoring, conducting, or participating in wildlife killing contests” on more than 500 million acres of U.S. public lands.

The Prohibit Wildlife Killing Contests Act of 2022, whose introduction was led by Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), would require the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Forest Service to enact regulations banning wildlife killing contests within a year. Eight states — Arizona, California, Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Vermont, and Washington — have already outlawed these events within their borders.

Wildlife killing contests are organized competitive events in which participants compete for cash or prizes by killing the most, the largest, or sometimes the smallest animals over a certain time period. Each year thousands of important native carnivores and other wildlife — including coyotes, foxes, bobcats, mountain lions, prairie dogs and even wolves — are killed during these competitions.

(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, observer@pacific.net, the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District, and is also chairman of the Laytonville Area Municipal Advisory Council. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live: http://www.kpfn.org.)

One Comment

  1. Me too April 15, 2022

    Problems don’t just happen, people make them happen.
    This is inaccurate. Nobody knew that we even existed until ptop 64 passed. The problems weren’t caused by us, they were caused by inept, irresponsible people who decided to put everyone’s addresses in the Cal cannabis list! After realizing (after 5 years) that farms were being illegally robbed and raided by the corrupt law enforcement that is MCSD. We didn’t, not now and not then, have we ever caused problems or had problems until CDFA, BCC, building and planning, and all the other agencies decided to cause problems!

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