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Off the Record (July 20, 2022)

SUPERVISOR GJERDE: In making the case for a water sales tax, at the June 21 meeting Supervisor McGourty said the Inland Water and Power Commission was looking for “about a million dollars a year in legal fees” to get the water rights renewed to continue the water transfer from the Eel River to the Russian River. “This is pretty much interim funding” for six or seven years, he added.

In response, I said simple back-of-the-envelope estimates show the Potter Valley Irrigation District and the Russian River Flood Control District could by themselves generate over $1 million a year. There is no need for all of Mendocino County’s residents to pay for water attorneys to represent these water districts and certain property owners in the Russian River watershed.

For details, people should go to websites for these two water districts. Potter Valley Irrigation District reports its water allotment is 9,000-acre feet of water. Russian River Flood Control recently reported it is selling just over 7,000-acre feet of water. You do the math and a temporary surcharge of $65 per acre foot would generate $1 million. By the way, with a temporary surcharge of $65 per acre foot would take Potter Valley Irrigation District’s rate to $87.50 per acre foot. The temporary surcharge would bring the Russian River Flood Control’s rate to $112.50 per acre foot. This compares to a statewide rate for bulk, untreated water that likely exceeds $150 an acre foot in California. As a final point of reference, it is important to keep in mind the massive amount of water that constitutes an acre foot of water. A typical household in Fort Bragg, Willits or Ukiah would take nine years to purchase one acre foot of treated water from their city, and for that treated water these typical residential customers would pay their cities between $5,700 and $6,800 over nine years. In other words, an acre foot is a significant amount of water, and for these two water districts to levy a small surcharge, as little as $65 per acre foot, is the clear and best option, not a water sales tax.

MARK SCARAMELLA REPLIES: Yes, the Supervisor is correct; if you add in the Flood Control District the numbers do add up on paper — although the Potter Valley “allotment” is not actual water. If the two inland water entities are selling around 16,000 acre-feet, that’s more than the 8,000 that Mendo has right to. But whatever the numbers are, as we said, Gjerde is right to say that those districts should not get any sales tax money from the rest of Mendocino until they at least provide a full accounting and charge something like the going rate. 

SEATTLE judge Virginia Amato was presiding over the arraignment of a man charged with misdemeanor domestic violence and resisting arrest when she warned him if he didn't change his ways, “You'll be Bubba's best new girlfriend,” the ref being to prison rape and, as the Appropriate Police were quick to point out, rape in any context is not funny, and a judge saying it…

RAPE HAPPENS in prison, but not as frequently as the oafs and oafettes whose unhealthy fantasies about inmate Bubba's predations like to imagine. At least that's what I'm told by the state prison inmates among the Boonville weekly's inclusive subscription roster. 

CLOSER to home than the state prison system, our County Jail separates out vulnerable inmates into their own unit to keep them safe from being taken advantage of in any manner including sexually. I know of only one local in-custody rape, and that one was years ago in the tough guy tank committed by a tough guy who managed to rape a slightly less tough guy. My information is that the state prison system similarly segregates the vulnerable. A friend of mine who did a lot of time in the federal system said when he was at Lompoc “I was surrounded by chomos,” apparently the prison where the feds stash their pervs who aren't safe in general prison populations from being offed. Much as the vengeful like to imagine prison justice, the authorities are adept at minimizing it.

ON THE SUBJECT of sordid, in which we're media-basted round the clock, over the weekend I self-basted, watching two depressing Netflix documentaries, “Girl in the Picture” and “Surviving R Kelly.” Kelly is the famous singer who essentially kidnapped underage girls and kept them in isolated harems, getting away with it for years for the usual American teflon reasons — money and fame. And racism, given that his victims were black girls and women, nary a white captive, the racism being that there's generally no law enforcement when it comes to the victimization of black women. Of course you can't blame the cops when a monster like Kelly has unending cash flow and a raft of gofers and lawyers on his payroll who know but don't say. The film is wayyyyyy too long and repetitive, but finally the beast is cornered and, hopefully, ruined. I should confess I'd never heard of the guy before he popped up on the Evening News, and I'm kinda sorry I know more about him now than I'd have preferred. One more tale possible only in a doomed society.

THEN THERE'S Franklin Delano Floyd, a Next Level predator who… Well, the film, “Girl in the Picture” is another story possible only in a doomed society, and sad beyond sad. The film is well done, though. It reminded me of the Steven Stayner case, the small boy kidnapped by the infamous pedophile, Kenneth Parnell, former night clerk at the Palace Hotel and, for a brief spell, the Boonville Hotel. Like the child kidnapped by Floyd, Parnell moved his victim, Stayner, around the school systems in Mendocino and Point Arena with nary an edu-soul inquiring about the boy's relationship with a man in his fifties, or asking for the paperwork from his previous schools. We have to assume the schools have tightened up their custodial confirmations since then, but Mendo being Mendo…

AFTER ABSORBING about ten hours of these two docs, which I watch alone because my wife is too sensible to join me, I said to her, “Hey! How about we take in “The Sound of Music”?

JEFF BLANKFORT: Now for something entirely different:

I ordinarily consider myself a good judge of my fellow human beings but on one occasion I made a forgivable mistake. It was 1970 and I was in London before departing for Northern Ireland and then for Lebanon and Jordan. Somehow or other I was put in touch with a young Brit with a terrible case of acne who had just started a magazine called “Student” (which didn't excite me) who was interested in using photos of mine of the Black Panthers and an interview I had made in Paris the previous year with the French filmmaker, Jean Luc Godard (who I had met in Berkeley in 1968 and who I had hooked up to the Panthers). Student seemed a low budget operation which I felt needed to be encouraged so the young editor and I agreed on a low figure for which he wrote me a check which I thought I had better quickly cash. I was not prepared for the elegant opulence of his bank, Coutts, which looked like something from a BBC set which, if you search for the name, as I just did, you find “Coutts offers private banking and wealth management services for high net worth individuals and their families.”

Well, they probably don't have any clients with a higher net worth than that young man today who no longer has a trace of acne, showing that money will accomplish wonders. His name was Richard Branson and I should have kept the check.

IT MIGHT BE time to place Ukiah, city of, in civic conservatorship. The police department has been badly managed for some time, and doesn't seem to be learning from recent, and heavily documented experience, that has cost Ukiah's insurers, and eventually, taxpayers, lots of money in payouts to its violated citizens. 

SAGE 'SELDOM SEEN SAGE' SANGIACOMO, Ukiah's invisible but wildly overpaid city manager, keeps promoting from within the department when it's obvious fresh leadership from outside is required, fresh leadership that has carte blanche to weed out the kind of psycho cops who beat up restrained persons. Or deploys unnecessary force period. Over the past two years, ten Ukiah cops have been accused of excessive force in a department of 28 people.

MR. ARTURO VALDES was hit with such force his nose was re-located to a new position on his face. He very easily could have been killed. There's nothing in the description of the Valdes event that could have warranted a blow to his head, let alone one of the force suffered by Valdes.

IMAGINING the scene, the cops are dealing with both Mr. and Mrs. Valdes verbally going off on them, but sticks and stones, bros. You're trained to deal non-violently with highly irritating people, with whom the Ukiah cops, or any cops, deal with all day long every day.

THE OLD SAW about police departments seems to apply here: If the boss is a wink and a nod guy, the worst cops will be unrestrained but influence the middle-of-the-road cops to also go rogue, while the good cops continue to be good cops regardless of the criminally-oriented person in charge.

THE IRONY about the problems with the Ukiah police is that the county's police forces have gone for years with only a few major, confirmed cases of abuse of authority, and those have been confined to a handful of individual cops, not whole departments.

ALL POLICE FORCES need more women, fewer high school linebackers. Women, broadly (sic) speaking, are smarter and much better at sussing out volatile situations, much better at cooling people out without resorting to force. 

UKIAH'S leadership has to pick up their game. Our county seat is not well-managed, but then neither is the county, confirmation of the latter available today for anyone who tunes in the Board of Supervisors who practically yawn in the faces of a parade of county employees vainly trying to tell their alleged bosses about job conditions. Supervisor Haschak was the only supervisor to respond. (For his response, see Scaramella's comments in County Notes.)

DOES it even have to be said that policing is a tough way to earn a living, so psychologically demanding that not many people can do it well? And do we need to mention the imploding society that cops are supposed to keep order in?

BIDEN IS INEXCUSABLE and indefensible, and has been throughout his opportunistic years of “service,” from which he has emerged a multi-millionaire. But now that the NYT has belatedly begun to question Biden's obvious over-the-hill daily functioning, watch the rest of the lib media echo chamber also question Biden's fitness.

“NY Times again suggests Joe Biden, 79, is too old to run for re-election and says he now 'shuffles' with White House staffers fearing he'll trip on a wire Democratic analysts fear Joe Biden, 79, may be too old to run for re-election The president has been slammed over his physical and mental fitness White House staff say they worry about gaffes every time he speaks publicly Aides fear he may trip during events, noting how he 'shuffles' while walking Despite critics concerns, staffers maintain Biden is 'intellectually engaged' Last November, Biden's physician declared he was 'healthy' and 'fit to successfully execute the duties of the president.” 

BUM FIRES, like the hay bales deliberately set ablaze just north of Ukiah this morning (Thursday), and several prior closer in to town, reminded me of that fascinating book that was big back when people still read books, ‘Wisconsin Death Trip.’ A little too macabre for many tastes, but for those of us who take our reality straight, or who are merely jaded, it's a fascinating history of recorded deaths, many of them unnatural, and arson fires in rural Wisconsin, circa late 19th century. Several of the arsons are retaliation by transient farm workers against employers they felt had cheated them. What we have in Mendocino County, especially inland, are fires set by homeless people angry at being rousted, or just plain angry, or carelessly loaded beyond caring.

SPELL CHECK underlined “rousted” as misspelled. So I googled it, and google doesn't have it listed as a word anywhere in its vast dictionaries, and not the first time I've wondered about google's reliability. Several readers have steered me to the much more reliable on-line OED.

THE HOUSE OF PELOSI just passed a $840 billion Pentagon spending bill, which more Republicans (62) voted against than Democrats (39). For perspective, the Pentagon appropriation is nearly 20 times larger than the amount ($44 billion) the Biden administration requested to confront the biggest threat to the planet: climate change. — Jeffrey St. Clair

WHY YOU ALWAYS raggin' on liberals? Get asked that a lot. The prob I have with the libs, defined here as the automaton Democrats of the type who belong to the Mendo Demo clubs and faithfully get out the vote for the Biden wing of the party, has, for starters,  betrayed almost everything that would be help take the sting out of the lives of everyday Americans. With the advent of the Clintons, the whole apparatus toppled into a , socially dissolute branch of the Republican Party. Any movement to the left of Schumer-Pelosi-Schiff is either crushed outright or absorbed, as Bernie was, by the “left” of the party, which has also accomplished nada.

HERE IN Amnesia County, where every day history starts all over again and you are whatever you say you are, The Democrats claim the moral/ethical political high ground but in office, in control of public institutions, they don’t perform as self-advertised, evidence of which can be found in the supervisors, esp the supervisors lately, our alleged congressman and state reps, and so on all the way up to recent presidents like the disastrous Biden. The party is still marginally superior to the degenerates of the Trumpian sectors of the Republican Party, but is not in any way “progressive,” and don't say abortion because as many Democrats as Republicans are pro-abortion. We're going to get a straight-up fascist government in '24 thanks to the Democrats, as corrupt in their way as the Republicans, and both parties funded by the same malign forces.

TAKE NOTE, fellow doomsters: The World Weather Network has been established in response to the global climate emergency, 28 arts organizations have formed the World Weather Network, a constellation of 'weather stations' located around the world in oceans, deserts, mountains, farmland, rainforests, lighthouses and cities. For a year starting on June 21, 2022, artists and writers will share 'weather reports' — observations, stories, images — about their local weather and our shared climate, creating an archipelago of voices and viewpoints on a new global platform.

INFLATION CASUALTY, Lexie Firment, 22, from Cleveland, Ohio, has revealed that she, like millions of Americans, has been forced into three different jobs to cover her monthly expenses while working as a teacher at a middle school. She took to TikTok to share her “teacher to server second job pipeline story” where she described herself as a “broke teacher.” She said that on top of teaching she delivers groceries through Instacart, and is a waitress at a local restaurant. The average entry level pay for a teacher in Ohio is $25,671 per annum before taxes, which would leave broke Lexie just over $500 a month after rent to cover her expenses. Although Ohio is reported to have a low cost of living, the state has suffered the effects of the housing crisis and rent prices have surged. Many TikTok users shared their experiences in the comments section of Lexie's video, with one reporting that they taught during the day and worked as a janitor at night.

IN THE SPIRIT of the Unabomber's war on industrial civ one pipe bomb at a time, small groups of eco-warriors are deflating tires on SUVs in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Tire Extinguishers movement, which started in the U.K., has spread to the United States where leaders have promised to “expand massively” in the coming weeks. New York City was  hit by the group last month when approximately 40 SUVs were deflated in the Upper East Side. Climate activists also targeted SUVs in Chicago; San Francisco, and Scranton, Pennsylvania. The group is most prominent in the U.K. and Europe where activists claim to have deflated more than 5,000 tires since the movement launched in March.


“To get the air out of the tire, there must be something pushing down on the pin located in the center of the valve. Drop a small bean (we like green lentils, but you can experiment with couscous, bits of gravel, etc.) inside the valve cap. Replace the cap, screwing it on with a few turns until you hear air hissing out. Even if it’s only hissing out a little bit, that’s enough - it will deflate slowly. The whole process should take about 10 seconds.” … “Hybrids and electric cars are fair game. We cannot electrify our way out of the climate crisis - there are not enough rare earth metals to replace everyone’s car and the mining of these metals causes suffering. Plus, the danger to other road users still stands, as does the air pollution (PM 2.5 pollution is still produced from tires and brake pads).” … “Avoid: Cars clearly used for people with disabilities, commercial/traders’ cars (even if they’re large), minibuses and normal-sized cars.”

THE TIMES are getting desperate, but are the many apocalyptic scenarios we read and hear anywhere near likely? Yes, but not here for a while yet. They've already kicked off in Africa and Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon. Here's a prediction I read this morning. I'm still surprised so many Americans are thinking like this: “After the dollar collapses completely and is no longer accepted in international trade, our overseas military forces will all be coming back home. First, the federal government will be totally bankrupt at that time and won’t have the resources for foreign wars and foreign occupations. Second, all of those military people will be needed here inside the US to keep a rudimentary state of law and order going. Quite likely, a catastrophic breakdown in our food supply systems are coming, and the military will be employed to distribute what’s available on an orderly basis so that mass starvation can be avoided here. We will have government supplied and rationed food. People breaking into grocery stores or highjacking food trucks will be taken out quickly with military weapons.”

REMEMBER Y2K? I recall much worried talk that life as we know it would end at the stroke of midnight, 2000. There was a run on basic supplies, with toilet paper of overriding concern to many. DA at the time, the memorable Norm Vroman, told me, “I'm ready for anything.” Vroman, a gun guy, had a tendency to apocalyptic thinking, and was one of many Mendo people who deliberately make their homes at the end of very long, nearly impassable, dirt roads, with their dwellings situated so they have clear fields of fire. When Western Civ collapses and the hungry hordes come jogging up Spy Rock…

THAT'S THE FANTASY anyway. In fact, if things break down that far, which they won't, or are at least unlikely to do so, there are many clever fictional and film renditions of what might be expected. There are even end of the world novels for children and anthromorphs, the latter imaginatively expressed in A Boy and His Dog at the end of the World: “Griz's family lives on a little island in the Outer Hebrides, on a mostly depopulated Earth. Over a century before, something unknown, but referred to as the Gelding, caused the human reproduction rate to plummet to almost nothing. Griz's ancestors were among those who, as the population crashed, moved to remote areas where they wouldn't meet other people accidentally.”

FROM A RECENT LTE: “400,000 people depend on the water flowing through the Potter Valley Project. If this water supply is not maintained people from Potter Valley to the Golden Gate Bridge will lose a valuable water supply. This will cause Lake Mendocino to dry up and Ukiah Valley’s wells to go dry. Along with every water rights holder all the way to Healdsburg. This is a disaster waiting to happen. They cannot cut this water supply off. It would devastate Mendocino county.”

TRUE ENOUGH. PROBABLY. Except for wells going dry in the Ukiah Valley. Maybe the wells that draw, basically, from the Russian River would go dry, but I agree that given the huge ramifications of dismantling the diversion at Potter Valley and its feeder dams, and given the onerous complications that would ensue downstream, present accrued arrangements should be continued, but with pathetic Mendo — us eternal saps — re-negotiating the laughably unfair deal with SoCo via which SoCo gets most of the diverted water stored at Mendo absolutely free, which they sell at huge profits to water agencies in SoCo and Marin. Also, the Potter Valley cheap water gentry should at last be compelled to pay a reasonable price for their diverted water. 

WHATEVER KAMALA: “You need to get to go and need to be able to get where you need to go to do the work and go home.” The VP today on the abortion issue.

INFLATION is costing people about $500 more a month than they were spending a year ago. Millions of people, thousands here in Mendo, are being silently crushed. Fuel prices are coming down, but not far enough for the multitudes who have to drive to work. Food prices will continue to rise because, mainly, of transportation costs. The leadership, natch, is inflation-proof. They get those built-in cost of living increases they voted in for themselves.

LAST WEEK we got a call from a young sounding guy who said he was “helping a friend” who was applying for some of Mendo’s “cannabis equity grant” funding trying to assist the friend who needed to prove that they had been targeted in a pre-legalization pot raid in Anderson Valley back in 2015. The caller said that his friend (apparently a woman) recalled that the raid occurred on Mountain View Road outside of Boonville in the fall of 2015 and that the large quantity of marijuana that the raid team confiscated was brought to the Boonville airport by helicopter to be chipped and ground up. Did we have any record of it? the caller wanted to know. “My friend said she remembered that the AVA had an article about it at the time,” the caller said. 

We doubted there was “an article,” but after some poking around, we actually found a brief mention of the raid and the airport chipping op in Valley People a couple of weeks after the raid had occurred. The caller said that his friend could not find any official record of the raid having occurred at all and that our brief mention of it might be enough to prove that his friend qualified for equity grant money. 

Aside from the obviously odd requirement from the state and the County to prove that a state or County law enforcement agency did something that nobody seems to have any record of, we were amused that a vague, brief generic reference to the raid in the AVA might qualify as proof that it occurred and that the caller’s friend’s pot garden might have been involved.

Then on Tuesday the caller called back asking the same question. When we somewhat grumpily told the caller that we had already answered that question and we had nothing else to add, the Tuesday caller said, “Oh, that must have been my cousin who called.” Hmmm. “Stoners…” I muttered under my breath. The Tuesday caller sounded very much like the previous caller, but we sighed and looked up the 2015 reference again and provided it again. The Tuesday caller, an overly polite fellow, went on at some length trying to explain the mix-up and duplication and apologize, but we cut him off because it was easier to just look it up again and be done with it.

Just another example of how crazy the pot permit program has become.

(Mark Scaramella)


[1] I have used the analogy before–but when playing dodgeball, you don’t move until the ball is thrown. So I have been happy with my minimal collapse preparations–so far. As a dentist-now retired-I have my skills, a standard sufficient 401-k, a good social milieu, and I used to have a sister with a 38 acre farm(recently sold), which would serve as the redoubt in case of wild and crazy times. Now that I’m older, I’m only worried about the long term for my kids. I can eat out of the pantry for 6 months and camp in my paid for house.

I too have looked into solar preps, but self-sufficiency always seemed a LOT of work and expense. So I appreciate the many live and learn stories here. Personally I just want the jokers who are screwing us with their tawdry plans to pay instead of all of us innocents. I spent many years telling patients they didn’t need dental insurance they needed a dentist. Pay me $50 a month and I’ll fix what ails you. No one seemed to get it. So we need personal, community, independent money that is NOT managed by the elite system for its own purposes. That system is leading to digital bank deposits. Slavery. Or what would better be called the permission society. Mother May I for adults……

But abandoning the dollar before it tanks is too scary for most of us. I have used personal scrip to pay for things but not enough people have agency to accept it.

[2] After the dollar collapses completely and is no longer accepted in international trade, our overseas military forces will all be coming back home. First, the federal government will be totally bankrupt at that time and won’t have the resources for foreign wars and foreign occupations. Second, all of those military people will be needed here inside the US to keep a rudimentary state of law and order going. Quite likely, a catastrophic breakdown in our food supply systems are coming, and the military will be employed to distribute what’s available on an orderly basis so that mass starvation can be avoided here. We will have government supplied and rationed food. People breaking into grocery stores or hijacking food trucks will be taken out quickly with military weapons.

[3] Re: New Courthouse Design/Train Depot Site in Ukiah: From the provided elevations, it looks like a larger version of the sterile box of a building that will be left behind. Wonder what will actually happen to that – the old PO on Oak St is still sitting empty (behind a chain-link fence), as is what’s left of the Palace Hotel. The historical Train Depot would have made a better model to emulate. That will probably become a trendy lunch spot for all the new local foot traffic, and foot-sore travelers off the Great Redwood Travail. Unless the lights go out first. “Exciting”, eh?

[4] ON LINE COMMENT re Mendocino County Finances

So just how bad are county finances? Worse than thought so says Supe Williams. And who was last in charge of our county finances? The last CEO, the current Board? And if they can threaten all department heads with the overages of their departments per State Law (like the Sheriff was threatened) then why isn’t anyone attempting to lay the mismanagement of county finances at the very feet of the ones in charge? Hmmmm? Why?

[5] You will recall that a few days ago my wife and I ate at a booth in the Edison Diner and that a woman of an estimated 400 pounds with huge tattoos sat at a table very nearby. To describe this woman I tried with only minimal success to employ the descriptive powers of Edith Wharton who, in her novel The Age of Innocence, wrote the following about an obese woman:

“The immense accretion of flesh which had descended on her in middle life like a flood of lava on a doomed city had changed her from a plump active little woman with a neatly-turned foot and ankle into something as vast and august as a natural phenomenon. She had accepted this submergence as philosophically as all her other trials, and now, in extreme old age, was rewarded by presenting to her mirror an almost unwrinkled expanse of firm pink and white flesh, in the center of which the traces of a small face survived as if awaiting excavation.”

[6] “Racist” and “misogynist” used to mean that a man would disparage and even impede all of an entire race or sex universally and unfairly to the individuals of that race or sex.

In efforts to correct this unfair treatment, the pendulum has now swung wayyyyyy too far – past equality and to the ridiculous point where any individual black or woman is now above accountability as any criticism whatsoever lest their criticizer be swiped with the label of the ironically stigmatizing “racist” or “misogynist” thus validating and even encouraging all sorts of despicable behavior from fully-entitled assholes.

[7] Jury Duty: It would be interesting to know if the failure to appear rate increases after actually appearing once or twice.

After several summonses and a few selections over the years, I have to say that the judicial procedures come across as the worst of poorly performed and badly written drama.

It is a show for lawyers to boast and preen for one another (and the judges) and make more money than they should.

I think most folks show up the first time expecting the stately progress of justice and get far less. (Jim Armstrong)

[8] Haha, remember one of the stated goals about 4 months ago was “Regime change in Russia” — getting rid of Putin and replacing him with someone more amenable to EU interests? Since then Boris Johnson and now Mario Draghi have bitten the dust, and Biden himself is looking kind of wobbly — he could be out by Labor Day. Meanwhile, Putin appears to be solid, mopping up in the Donbas, cutting off natgas supply to Germany, and building a new international economic coalition that includes Brazil, India & China.

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