WE WERE SADDENED to learn of the death of George Snyder who, for years, covered the Northcoast for the San Francisco Chronicle. As graceful in person as his stylish prose, Mr. Snyder is survived by his wife of many years, Sara Peyton, a fine journalist in her own right. The couple has lived in Occidental for many years. The Chronicle's obituary rightly quoted a remark Mr. Snyder made to the Sonoma County supervisors, an institution that has always ruled for money over preservation as the endless suburb that is today's Sonoma County makes clear: “A lot of people have made a lot of money in this county, and some of it has been hard on nature.” A memorial service will be held at 11am Saturday (January 19) at St. Philip the Apostle Church in Occidental. Contributions may be made to the Sonoma County Regional Parks Foundation, 2300 County Center Drive, Suite 120A, Santa Rosa, CA 95403.
EVAN CONNELL is another writer whose passing is unwelcome. “Son of the Morning Star: Custer and the Little Bighorn” is the best book by far on the General and his famous last stand, but for me “Mrs. Bridge” was even more memorable. A decade later came “Mr. Bridge,” also a fine novel. Together, Mr. and Mrs. Bridge, to the minority of book reading hippies, came to represent everything that was “uptight” in American domestic life but, viewed these many years later, the Bridges, and uptight people generally, look pretty good. Don't be put off by the ubiquitous Joyce Carol Oates description of Connell as “one of our most interesting and intelligent writers.” He really was, and he was also a guy who, until his Custer book, struggled to make a living as a writer, working at jobs in San Francisco ranging from meter reader to mailman to support himself without premature death by faculty lounge.
SPORTS NOTE. Only a non-sports person could have held out for Alex Smith over Colin Kaepernick, the 49er's sensational quarterback, but until Saturday a lot of fans were still saying that Kaepernick didn't have “the experience” to handle playoff games. The debacle in Seattle was not Kaepernick's fault. He played well, the defense didn't. If the truth were known, Harbaugh probably wanted to start Kaepernick last year, jockdom being one of the last area's of American life where you can't just jive your way on by. Everyone, including his fellow players, knew Kaepernick could do things Smith (or anybody else) couldn't do, and now Kaepernick is the most exciting player in football. The only problem for the kid is going to be living up to Saturday's amazing performance against Green Bay. We'll be expecting miracles from him every week.
SPEAKING OF SPORTS, who cares who gets into the Baseball Hall of Fame? Any institution honoring great ballplayers that excludes Curt Flood, isn't worth joining. Flood not only freed ballplayers to earn the big money they've earned for years now, he was virtually banned from the sport for doing it. And he was a truly great ballplayer, which makes him doubly exceptional as a great man and a great ballplayer. (Ahem. In my youth, I played against Flood and Oakland's American Legion team, the Bill Irwin Post. They were national Legion champs two or three years in a row with a lineup that featured Frank Robinson, Flood and Vada Pinson as the outfield, Jesse Gonder catching and Ernie Broglio pitching. My interface with these guys was humbling, as was most people's of the ball-playing sort in the Bay Area circa 1956-57.) BTW, I think Barry Bonds should get in the Hall but only with an asterisk because he was a great ballplayer before he took to the steroids. But the Hall is a rum institution, filled with bad people; Flood's inclusion would certainly class the place up considerably.
THE COTTAGE FOOD BILL, AB1616, means all you excellent home cooks out there can now make stuff at home and sell it so long as what you're making doesn't require refrigeration. Check with the Mendocino County Health Department for details. ((707) 463-4466) (http://www.co.mendocino.ca.us/hhsa/chs/eh/index.htm)
BLISS FISHER, the Mendocino County Director of Animal Care, has resigned. She has been out on administrative leave for the past several months. Ms. Fisher succeeded the inanimate Greg Foss who had been roundly criticized by animal rights activists as quick to implement the final solution for stray animals. Ms. Fisher succeeded in winning the confidence of the disparate animal rights groups but apparently offended the tender sensibilities of the people she supervised. The final straw seems to have been Ms. Fisher sharing candid shots with a subordinate of her topless self at Burning Man. (Burning Man began as a celebration of the creative arts by genuinely creative artists but has since become a mob scene dominated by untalented artists and as many sexual exhibitionists, the whole show convened annually in the environmentally sensitive Nevada desert.) There is no allegation that Ms. Fisher suggested or attempted anything untoward, and it is hard to believe that another adult female would be all that distressed at her supervisor's breasts. But the photo of the topless Bliss became the catalyst for a series of complaints and an investigation ensued that documented other princess and the pea type transgressions allegedly committed by Ms. Fisher. County higher-ups are said to have wanted Ms. Fisher to stay based on her success in quieting the animal rights activists, but a majority of her subordinates were said to be adamantly opposed to her continued supervision of their work.
THE FATE of Ms. Fisher aside, the whole episode seems to reinforce an unhealthy pattern at the Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) of which animal care is a small part. Subordinates and rivals have learned that they can off their supervisors and/or rivals by filing complaints and getting enough co-workers to sign on to the complaints. HHSA dutifully investigates the complaints, often putting the target out on administrative leave, where they are paid to do nothing pending the outcome of the investigation. But once the investigation is complete no decision is made. Two well regarded members of the social services upper echelon were put on admin leave last year based on allegations from a member of the fiscal team that they'd mismanaged a couple of grants. The County shelled out big bucks for an investigator from San Diego, of all places, there apparently being no one else between San Diego and Seattle who could perform the task. Once the investigation was complete the County sat on the results, which have still not been disclosed. After several months of limbo (and collecting high dollar salaries for doing nothing) both of the higher-ups took jobs elsewhere. So the County spent a bunch of money on admin leave and the investigation, two highly regarded employees left under a cloud, and there was no resolution of the beef. We are told that some highly qualified HHSA employees refuse to apply for administrative job openings that they qualify for because they don't want to risk being hung out to dry like so many before them.
LOUISE (‘WHEEZER’) GONYO is no longer president of the local chapter of SEIU, having been replaced by Dave Ebberly. According to sources within HHSA, Ms. Gonyo, who works in social services, was recently disciplined for ordering a subordinate to provide benefits to a close friend of Gonyo’s who was not qualified for the benefits. In typical HHSA fashion, Gonyo was placed on admin leave, an investigation was conducted, and then nothing happened. Our sources speculate that County and HHSA Admin were afraid to fire Gonyo for fear the SEIU union leadership would allege that Gonyo was being targeted for her union activism instead of blatant misuse of her authority. After the requisite several months of limbo (during which she was paid to do nothing) Gonyo was slapped on the wrist with administrative penalties and SEIU officials were equally grateful to forget about it.
PAUL KAPLAN, SEIU political organizer, who was sent to Mendocino County to throw the Supervisorial bums out of office, and who was the strategic genius behind the failed supervisorial campaign of Andrea Longoria, is also gone. Kaplan was given the hook on short notice, as concern seems to be growing at SEIU's corporate headquarters that SEIU's continued Mendo bungling is undermining employee support for the union. Sandy Madrigal, who recently retired from the County Clerk/Recorder’s Office, has been hired as SEIU's new political organizer, marking the first time since the departure of Jackie Carvallo and John Heise that the SEIU employees have had any local representation. Carvallo was let go for being too nice and Heise for being too reasonable. They were replaced by the thuggish Crystal Padilla who drove as big a wedge as she could between the County and the employees, creating such a poisonous negotiating atmosphere that the union wound up temporarily taking a 12.5% pay cut when the County was willing to settle for 10%. It only took the SEIU leadership three months to figure out (under pressure from their membership) that a 10% cut was better than a 12.5% cut. Those who know her say that Ms. Madrigal (a genuinely nice person not in the tradition of Mendo Nice People) will be a forceful but respectful advocate for the interests of the SEIU membership.
THE PROBLEMS at HHSA (formerly known as social services) go back decades, as indicated by our recent articles on Jim Jones’s People's Temple. The entire social service apparatus of the County was put at the disposal of the deranged Jim Jones, pastor of People's Temple and self-proclaimed Christ. For the social services agency of the late 1960s and early 1970s, Jones provided a convenient dumping ground for the human castaways of an increasingly splintered social order, with large numbers of dependent adults and children no longer able to rely on family and community ties. For Jones, the children and adults placed in his care merely represented unending funding units that helped fuel his real estate and political empires. Jones succeeded in infiltrating County government at every significant level, from the court system, social services, Sheriff, District Attorney (with People's Temple lieutenant Tim Stoen functioning as County Counsel) and so on. Temple members in key positions were able to influence decisions to the benefit of the Temple and to squelch any concerns that were voiced. Stoen, from his position as County Counsel, was always able to head off rumors that the Rev was a crook and a lunatic.
COMMENT OF THE DAY: As a Packers fan who attended the game, it was definitely getting rowdy in the 4th quarter. I left with about 3 minutes left (when the Niners sewed it up with another TD), but the fans were pretty obnoxious. A few fans tossed garbage at me from above as I headed out to the concourse. I ended up covering up my Packer gear before I headed out the parking lot as I saw a few Packer fans get berated aggressively by some thuggish looking 25 years olds. Sadly, there were a bunch of 40 and 50 year old Niner fans acting just as poorly. I actually sat near some nice Niner season ticket holders who I traded friendly barbs with through out the game. I was also lucky enough to be near a lot of Packer fans; one blog mentioned around 10K in Packer fans which seemed about right since a good chunk of my section was Packer fans). Anyway, I've been to 5 Packer/Niner games at the Stick and it gets progressively worse each year. I realize as opposing fans you will get some people yelling at you, but when it turns aggressive I have a problem with that. The Stick will never hold a candle to Lambeau. Good luck to your team the rest of the way. Cheers.
COMMENT TWO: These “fans” who go to 49ers games just to shoot their mouths off; intimidate others, etc. are getting nastier. Lots more women are getting into full on brawls in the parking lots, goaded on by their friends and their boyfriends. Just charming. Anyone fortunate enough when they were younger to have made a team, earning the right to wear a jersey, either for their school or Pop Warner etc. knows how pathetic it is seeing grown “men” wearing jerseys of Niners or other players, while they do all the stuff that would get them kicked off any real team — mouthing off, starting fights, showing disrespect for themselves or anyone else. The great Ronnie Lott had it right in his Hall of Fame induction speech, when he said it all comes down to respect; for oneself and for others. These disrespectful losers take the fun out of going to a game — period. This will change with the new stadium. Anyone who caught Giants games at the 'Stick (especially those weekend night games vs LA) saw lots of fights and people making drunken jackasses out of themselves. This changed dramatically with the opening of an amazing ballpark (and of course the hefty prices to pay for it). Yes, there are still idiots who go to Giants games at AT&T; but they're not tolerated and they certainly don't become part of a game the way they used to, the way these miscreants affect 'Niners games these days. It stinks that good folks with less cash won't be able to go to many if any games at the new stadium. People paying a ton for seats in a new and state of the art stadium won't allow their “experience” to be ruined by these losers. If the hefty prices don't keep this “element” out, I'm sure stepped up security, there to protect hundreds of millions in public and private investment, will.
COMMENT THREE: My sister and brother and law were at the game. Crowd control was a joke. People were being crushed and trampled. Cops just stood by and watched. Big thugs pushed through the crowds, pushing people to the walls. People stood in their seats almost the whole time. My sister tried to sit down, but a guy behind her stood right behind her with his cholum as her head rest. Young gal next to her had her $40 burger and fries launched out of her hands by some idiot behind her. She had fun, but talked about insane crush and total lack of respect by other fans. She's thankful the 49'ers are playing in Atlanta as she had tickets to next week's game. I'll stick to the idiot box thanks.
DAT GOOD OLE Honky Skin Privilege! The light at Highway 12 was green so J. Biro accelerated up to the intersection on Middle Rincon Road. The light went to red but as the left turn was operant for traffic on 12, Biro did a classic California stop and made a right. Unfortunately Biro had failed to scan for rollers before denting the law so naturally there was one on his ass immediately. Biro got into the left lanes to Mission Blvd. and when the light changed the cop followed and hit him with the red lamp. Biro wasn't about to pull over into the bus pad so he made a right into the strip mall. A long line of morons waiting at the McFuhrer's driveup blocked the road so Biro made a left into a parking lot. No point stopping on the street to subject himself to extra embarrassment. The cop hit the squawk for a split second before realizing that Biro wasn't being evasive. The trim young Aryan cop strode up to Biro's car while he rolled down the window. License, insurance, registration. Yes sir! Had anything to drink today? No sir! No drugs or prescription medication? No sir! Watch my finger. Biro scanned the cop's finger like a mofo as he moved it left and right. ‘You didn't come to a full and complete stop at Middle Rincon.’ You got me, officer! Sure you haven't had anything to drink? No sir! Wait here. The cop took Biro's papers and called him in. Biro was clean as a whistle. Hadn't been ticketed for a moving violation since 1973. But Santa Rosa was broke and needed revenue. The cop came back and returned the papers. You must come to a full and complete stop! Yes Sir! The cop got in his car and split. Yippee! No ticket today! — J.Biro
KULTURE KLASH, by J. Biro — CSpan2's Book TV, shown on weekends, is a rare light of interest in a TV wasteland of America's Holy Trinity of Jocks, Jesus, and Junk for Sale. Today they rebroadcast a meeting of great minds of the US Institute for Peace in DC, where a panel of windbags shared their fantasies over how to get “peace” in Afghanistan. One panelist was a very serious and somber ex-Defense Minister of the Afghan Government, and when he finished his speech and sat down, he was clearly trying to avoid the vision of paradise in front of him. This was a young black-haired woman, sitting in the front row, wearing a sleeveless short red dress. The flimsy cloth rode well above the knees of her crossed legs which were aimed directly at his face just six feet away. Someday soon the old man will find himself back in his home, sitting on the rug with elders, everyone dressed in robes and smoking waterpipes, relating their experiences with the roundeye barbarians who have ruined their country. "My brothers, by Allah, I tell you, you would not believe the shamelessness of women in America. This girl brazenly flaunted herself to me and as a good Muslim I struggled to avoid the entrapments of Satan! She was not only unescorted in public, but she was in a meeting where only men should attend! But worse was that the evildoers placed her directly in front of me to embarass me, and the worst was that she was dressed in her underwear! Only with the greatest effort and help from Allah was I able to avoid evil thoughts of perdition! I fear Mullah Omar is right, that we must chop off all their heads to preserve our religion and culture! — J.Biro
I am glad I was left out of the discussion regarding past and present SEIU presidents. I was the first president elected to term in 2008 after the merger of SEIU 707 to SEIU 1021. I was asked to resign my post after being accused by the then leadership team of Carvello and Longoria of being a “dick tator.” When I resigned in 2010, it was one of the smartest things I have ever done. SEIU is extremely dysfunctional. However, with that said, I believe that Dave Ebberly is a good man for the job. I have a tremendous amount of respect for his character.
Oh, by the way, I too was placed on paid Adminstrative leave for 4 months in 2010. When I returned to work, I was never told specifically as to why I was placed on leave, but was given a letter of reprimand for questioning authority and going outside of the chain of my commands with my concerns. Social Worker V’s are one of the highest paid employees in the county, and during the fiscal crisis of 2010, I was paid $5,000 dollars a month to just sit home. After I was terminated by Cryer and Lowery, I was paid an additional $50,000 dollars for Stacy Cryer violating my constitutional protections regarding due process. Don’t you think it is time someone looked at her leadership qualities?