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Mendocino County Today: February 4, 2013

SUPER BOWL NOTES: Great game, weird play calling by the Niners on their last possession with Crabtree absolutely mugged on the last Niner play of the game, but no call by the refs. Kaep played beyond even the superlatives routinely but rightly applied to him. The power outage after the endless and endlessly tiresome half-time show delayed the game more than an hour, and could well have been a celestial protest at Beyonce’s lamebrain half-time show. The ads ranged from cretinous to infantile, and CBS's previews of their comedy shows proved that all the morons don't work at Fox. Except for the game, everything else in the way of audio-visuals confirmed that this country has been dumbed down so far it's frightening. Final score: Baltimore Ravens 34, SF 49ers 31.

HUMBOLDT STATE UNIVERSITY is gearing up to grab the lion's share of consultant money that will be doled out as part of the fraudulent North Coast Marine Protected Areas process. Something called the “MPA Monitoring Enterprise” is expected to issue an RFP for “baseline monitoring” of the MPAs early this year. HSU, which plans on submitting a number of monitoring proposals, held a “Mendocino Stakeholders Open Forum” at the Caspar Community Center on January 26 to discuss their Baseline Monitoring Proposals for the North Coast MPAs. The stated purpose of the meeting was to 1) become more familiar with the concerns and priorities of Mendocino residents; 2) identify additional potential Mendocino collaborators, participants, and resources for HSU monitoring efforts; and 3) develop the strongest possible proposals, involving local expertise and addressing community priorities.

HSU HAS LINED UP 14 of their own employees and 11 palsy-walsys (including three organizations) to work on the monitoring proposals. Out of 25 total participants, 21 are from Eureka, with one each from Oregon, Sacramento, Sonoma, and Santa Cruz. Of the 22 individuals, 14 are PhDs. HSU dispatched a contingent of ten, including 7 PhDs, to the meeting in Caspar to wow the rubes. Although one of the stated purposes of the meeting was to identify “additional” Mendocino collaborators, none are on board now. It seems obvious that HSU thinks they have the monitoring contracts sewed up, but for the sake of appearances needs Mendocino window dressing for insurance. The large delegation from HSU feigned interest in local concerns and priorities and also sent a message that any locals thinking of submitting proposals might as well forget it. The likely outcome will be that people with no local knowledge will profit handsomely from all this while a few locals get paid crumbs for doing the grunt work of the actual monitoring. Which means the monitoring will be just like the process that developed the MPAs themselves.

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NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES and the US Fish and Wildlife Service have extended the comment period for the Mendocino Redwood Company (MRC) Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) to 5pm, April 22, 2013. The original 90-day comment period would have ended February 21. The HCP, including an associated Timber Management Plan, and other entitlements, would be approved for an 80-year period with future pubic comments limited to whether or not individual Timber Harvest Plans are in compliance with the approved 80-year HCP. It is unlikely that the extended comment period will have any impact on the process since MRC has been working closely with the regulatory agencies and has incorporated their suggestions into the HCP. In other words, after ten years of the agencies helping MRC put the plan together, there is almost zero chance that any significant changes will be made. And by the close of public comment on April 22, the local enviros will still be wondering what the HCP is and what it does.

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THE UKIAH CITY COUNCIL, as reported by Justine Frederiksen in the Ukiah Daily Journal, is using a “Process Enneagram” to discuss its goals.

Enneagram

Zuieback
Zuieback

City Manager Jane Chambers said she learned the process during a six-month course taught by consultant Steve Zuiebeck. Chambers then drew a triangle which she said represented Identity, Relationships and Information. Then two more triangles with the first one representing Intentions, Principles, and Tensions, and the last one standing for Strategic Approach, The Work, and Deep Learning. Chambers explained that Intentions lead to Principles and Tensions represent challenges. The Strategic Approach resolves Tensions, The Work is putting plans into place, which leads to Deep Learning. By now, the sane people in the room were aware that Ukiah government was fully in the hands of crackpots in dire need of a Process Enema to dislodge the “Enneagram.”

COUNCILMEMBER ‘Red Phil’ Baldwin was alone in questioning Chambers' wacky presentation, pointing out that the process “doesn't help us get any closer to solving a single city issue.” Of course little Benj Thomas, Mari Rodin and Mary Anne Landis thought it was simply boffo.

THE CITY OF UKIAH, has real financial problems, but the City, now clearly dominated by loons, paid out $21,000 to an outside consultant to come up with a City slogan (“Far Out – Nearby”), spent $47,000 to landscape the new electrical substation on Gobbi, botched the Anton Stadium rebuilding process, and proposes to put State Street on a “road diet” to reduce it to two lanes in the most congested part of downtown. And of course the Council tapped their own redevelopment agency for over $25,000 to take away three parking spaces to build a dining platform on public property that benefits only one business — Patrona — which just happens to be the favorite dining venue of three of the council members.

Chambers
Chambers

CHAMBERS NEXT REVIEWED the City's four Strategic Goals, which were developed by the Council several years ago. No one has ever done anything to implement these goals, but the crisp phrase “strategic goals” at least makes it sound like Ukiah's woeful leadership is headed somewhere other than the rocks. “Strategic goals” now joins “Mission Statement” in Ukiah's Big Book of Pointlessness.

DURING THE DISCUSSION of goal number 4 — “Council and staff work together to create a more responsive and effective workplace environment” — Councilmember Rodin said tensions between the council and staff were improved to the point where that goal had been achieved, but councilman Little Benj Thomas, solemnly intoned, “We take that down at our peril.”

RODIN'S ROSY VIEW of Council-Staff relations confirm that she only talks to City Manager Chambers and other administration insiders, but is clueless when it comes to what line staff are thinking, and what line staff is thinking can be summarized as, “Jesus H! My job is in the hands of these nuts!”

DURING UKIAH'S LAST BUDGET CYCLE, Chambers proposed to balance the budget by laying off cops, firefighters, parks workers, and by eliminating the Grace Hudson Museum staff, but no cuts to the bloated administrative structure of the City. The City had perfected the art of milking the Redevelopment Agency (RDA) cash cow to subsidize administrative salaries and benefits, thereby providing a prime example of the kinds of abuses that led to the state's repeal of RDA. At the end of RDA, the City was diverting $1 million in RDA funds to pay the City Manager, the Assistant City Manager and others. These salaries were being subsidized by tax revenue that otherwise would have gone to Special Districts, the schools and the County. In the face of public outcry, the Council backed off from the proposed staff cuts, made no cuts to admin, and balanced the budget with another $1 million drawn from their rapidly shrinking reserves.

RDA WAS INTENDED to reduce blight, spur economic development and build low income housing. But in Ukiah it was being used to pay admin salaries which were in effect being funded by property tax revenue that otherwise would have gone to the Special Districts, the local schools and the County. Ukiah offers a case study of the kinds of abuses that led to the repeal of RDA. With a City Manager, an Assistant City Manager and several assistants to the assistant, when the State pulled the RDA plug, you might have thought that a couple of highly paid positions would be on the chopping block. But admin cutbacks are never discussed, a fact that is not lost on line staff. In year five of the recession the City continues to burn through its reserves. And despite all the talk of strategic plans and deep learning there is apparently no plan to do anything differently. Chambers, despite her lack of leadership, was recently rewarded with a two year contract extension with no discussion by the Council, which apparently thinks she is doing a fine job.

THE CITY COUNCIL added Economic Development as a goal without describing what they thought it was. The irony is that RDA, which the Council and City Manager used as a sort of personal slush fund, was originally intended to be an economic development tool. Having not used the RDA funds for their intended purpose, and now that the funds are gone, the City adds economic development as a goal. This is an example of the Strategic Approach which will put The Work in place which will lead to Deep Learning.

THE COUNCIL, which almost never calls on the public until they have finished discussing and deciding the matter before them, finally gave the public a chance to speak. Linda Sanders wanted to know why the planning meetings were always held at the Conference Center, where public attendance is sparse to non-existent and the meetings are not televised. Councilmember Crane struggled to respond, equating the meetings to a retreat where frank and open discussion could take place, something Crane apparently doesn't think desirable in the Council Chambers where the pesky public might be watching.

Thomas
Thomas

FINALLY, the Council jotted down ideas on what they would like to see accomplished for each goal. Little Benj Thomas, a warm, wonderful human being of the uniquely Mendo type, said he would like to see a “pastor/ombudsman/ethicist on City staff” so that balancing the budget would not become a struggle between “values and the bottom line,” which ignores the obvious that adding one more feel-good/do-nothing position to admin staff will make it that much harder to balance the budget and more likely that one of the people actually doing the work will be hit with a pink slip.

RIGHT YOU ARE LITTLE BENJ! A staff therapist, and to fund him lay off another person who actually does the work of your town.

ANOTHER EXAMPLE of RDA abuses comes from the City of Willits which “loaned” its RDA $37,500 in “seed money” back in 1983 at an interest rate of 12%. (!) The Willits City Council, which also acted as the RDA Board of Directors, never paid a dime of principle or interest on the so-called loan, which continued to compound at a 12% interest rate even as the nation plunged into a deep recession that saw municipal interest returns fall to less than half a percentage point. But because the Willits City administration (unlike Ukiah) complied with all the deadlines for winding down RDA, the City of Willits is being allowed to repay itself $874,000 in RDA funds that otherwise would have gone to local schools, Special Districts and the County. And, in an indication of how badly the new City Council majority wanted to get rid of the guy, Willits can use the first $50,000 or so to pay off recently fired City Manager Paul Cayler who had a clause requiring a severance payment of six months salary if he was let go by the City.

THE UKIAH UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT’s new administration building, another RDA boondoggle, is going up on South Orchard Avenue in Ukiah. The Superintendant and other top administrators will have plush second floor offices with a view. The old administrative offices worked just fine, but Ukiah Unified had to find someplace to spend RDA funds designated for capital improvements. The money comes from an RDA “pass through” agreement that was put in place when the Ukiah RDA was first formed. Ukiah Unified, Mendocino College and MCOE all agreed to drop their legal challenges in return for a percentage of RDA money being set aside for capital improvements identified by them. The local educrats have joined Ukiah in advocating for a continuation of the pass through agreements to prevent property tax money from being distributed as if RDA did not exist. The difference is that without the pass-through agreements the educrats would have to spend the money on teacher salaries and instructional materials instead of new admin headquarters and other monuments to themselves.

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JEFF COSTELLO COMMENTS: Regarding Mike Mitchell's comments about bad-behaving sports fans and speculation that they are children of wolves or hippies: hippies as such have never been sports fans and their children for the most part were not raised to think pro sports are important or worth getting worked up about. Rabid sports fans exist in a separate world of their own and tend to breed more sports fans, often easily spotted by the clothes they tend to wear, advertising various teams and players. This is a culture unrelated to anything “hippie.” Bad behavior in sports nuts comes from fierce loyalty to an abstraction. I wonder how a Scottish soccer thug would react if you called his parents hippies. If Mitchell doesn't like hippies he could just say so.

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STATE SENATOR NOREEN EVANS OCCASIONALLY DEFENDS THE PUBLIC INTEREST (Courtesy, Capitol Weekly)

Evans
Evans

The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) was designed to give a voice to local people in local planning decisions. It ensures that residents in every California community can understand how land use decisions will impact shared resources — like clean air, clean water, open space, and traffic flow — and public health. It also empowers community members to hold public agencies accountable to local and state environmental laws. We cannot get rid of the requirement to disclose information to the public, allow public participation in the process, and the ability of the public to enforce the law when government is unable or unwilling to do so...

Projects like utility-scale renewable energy or High Speed Rail, which offer potential environmental benefits, can also have significant environmental and public health impacts. History shows us that CEQA works well when the protections it provides are in place, and such projects are improved through the rigorous and transparent environmental review process CEQA provides.

We will not strip the California Environmental Quality Act of its most important provisions simply because some allege it has played a role in our state’s economic challenges. California has seen more periods of growth and prosperity since 1970 than it has seen hard times. And despite this exponential growth, we still enjoy beautiful beaches, air quality has improved, and we are leading the way in the United States in tackling the difficult challenge of climate change. Our strides in all of these areas show just how well CEQA already works.

Whatever changes we might make to CEQA this year, we must leave its core principles intact: transparency in planning, mitigation of significant environmental damage, comprehensive protections to ensure cumulative analysis of impacts, robust and meaningful public participation, and the right of communities to use the court system to enforce these protections. The Californians of today — and of tomorrow — deserve nothing less.

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WJRayReadingTHE WILLITS POETRY SERIES presents the poetry of WJ Ray on Sunday, March 10, 7 PM, at The Muse, 30 East San Francisco Av. in Willits. WJ Ray's poetry has been praised by Gary Snyder, Robert Bly, Miriam Patchen, and Sharon Doubiago. He has said his work is the natural result of living on the land that he and his wife homesteaded in the early Seventies east of Willits. He is also a recognized Shakespeare scholar and lecturer. A selection of his poetry and prose is on the website, wjray.net Ray produced the first poetry series in Mendocino County in 1985-6 with poets Mary Norbert Korte, Linda Noel, Ann Samson, Sharon Doubiago, Robin Rule, Daniel Marlin, Dan Hibshman, Barry Eisenberg, and Gary Snyder. He was featured on KZYX's Wild Sage Poetry Hour several times and gave a two-hour reading on Speaking of the New Age. His poems have been published in regional media and in the Humboldt State publication Toyon, which included a CD of several to music. During three decades, Ray sub-contracted as a Rural Carrier with the USPS, traveling the alluvial Willits valley from Ridgewood to Reynolds Highway, four miles north of Willits. His nature poetry began there, and he feels the future peace of the entire watershed depends upon defending the six-mile long Little Lake Valley from industrial mutilation in the form of a Utopian highway. The reading constitutes a prayer for the Willits Valley.

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RobertChewning49ERS FAN ROBERT CHEWNING of Ukiah came prepared with a red and gold parasol to Decatur Street in New Orleans. 49ers fans poured out on the streets in New Orleans on Saturday, February 2, 2013, the day before the 49ers lost to the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII (Photo: Carlos Avila Gonzalez, The Chronicle)

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YESTERDAY I was at my local Wal-Mart buying a large bag of Purina dog chow for my loyal pet, Jake, the Wonder Dog. I was in the check-out line when a woman behind me asked if I had a dog. What did she think I had an elephant? So because I'm retired and have little to do, on impulse I told her that no, I didn't have a dog, I was starting the Purina Diet again. I added that I probably shouldn't, because I ended up in the hospital last time, but that I'd lost 50 pounds before I awakened in an intensive care ward with tubes coming out of most of my orifices and IVs in both arms. I told her that it was essentially a Perfect Diet — you just load your pants pockets with Purina Nuggets and simply eat one or two every time you feel hungry. The food is nutritionally complete so it works well. So I was going to try it again. (I have to mention here that practically everyone in line was now enthralled with my story.) Horrified, the woman asked if I ended up in intensive care because the dogfood poisoned me. I told her no, I stopped to pee on a Fire Hydrant and a car hit me. I thought the guy behind her was going to have a heart attack he was laughing so hard. Anyway, Wal-Mart won't let me shop there anymore. Better watch what you ask retired people. They have all the time in the world to think of crazy things to say. — Robert Coppack

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LAWSUIT FILED AGAINST FRACKING As Oil Lobbyist Says It's ‘Safe.’ By Dan Bacher

As a lawsuit was filed to stop unregulated fracking in California, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and former Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast, claimed that fracking causes no environmental harm in the state.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a rapidly spreading, environmentally destructive new method of oil and gas extraction that is drawing growing opposition throughout the state by environmentalists, fishermen, tribal members, family farmers and consumer advocates.

“WSPA’s position on hydraulic fracturing is well known and well documented: in the 60 years that the practice has been in use in California, there has been no evidence that it has caused harm to public health or to the environment,” said Reheis-Boyd in her blog on the WSPA website. “Hydraulic fracturing is also subject to strict rules and oversight by various government agencies, with the industry working with regulators to further strengthen safety and transparency requirements.” (http://www.wspa.org/blog/index.php/wspa-message/the-other-side-of-the-hydraulic-fracturing-debate/)

“And many independent economists and analysts have concluded that hydraulic fracturing can produce enough energy to meet not only the needs of American consumers but to make us a leading exporter, freeing us from dependence on unstable foreign sources, and ushering in a new era of prosperity which may solve many of our nation’s and our state’s fiscal challenge,” Reheis-Boyd gushed.

Oil lobbyist oversaw implementation of “marine protected areas”

In an overt conflict of interest, Reheis-Boyd, who is also lobbying for new offshore oil drilling, the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline and the weakening of environmental laws, oversaw the creation of alleged “marine protected areas” in Southern California that went into effect on January 1, 2012.

It's no surprise that these so-called marine protected areas fail to protect the ocean from fracking, offshore oil drilling, pollution, military testing, wind and wave energy projects and all other human impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering. Reheis-Boyd also served on the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Forces that developed marine protected areas on the North Coast, North Central Coast and Central Coast.

Many grassroots environmentalists and fishermen believe that Reheis-Boyd was appointed to the task forces to make sure that the oil industry's interests were protected and to ensure that recreational and commercial fishermen and seaweed harvesters, the most vocal opponents of offshore oil drilling and fracking, were removed from many areas on the ocean to clear a path for ocean industrialization.

David Gurney, independent journalist and co-chair of the Ocean Protection Coalition, slammed Reheis-Boyd's role in pushing for increased fracking in California. (http://noyonews.net/?p=8215)

“It's clear that government and petroleum officials want to 'frack' in the very same areas Reheis-Boyd was appointed to oversee as a 'guardian' of marine habitat protection for the MLPA 'Initiative,'“ revealed Gurney.

Environmental group goes to court to protect California from fracking

Opposition to fracking is building momentum throughout California. On January 24, the Center for Biological Diversity went to court to compel California regulators to enforce an existing state law that should protect people and the environment from fracking.

A lawsuit filed in Alameda County Superior Court says the California Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources has allowed fracking to expand without legally required oversight, according to a news release from the Center. (http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2013/fracking-01-24-2013.html

The Center said California law applies safeguards and disclosure requirements to any underground injection carried out by the oil and gas industry, the lawsuit points out, and fracking clearly involves injection. Yet the state does not yet regulate or even monitor this controversial practice.

“A looming fracking boom threatens to transform California, creating serious pollution risks to our air, water and climate,” said the Center’s Vera Pardee. “Existing rules clearly cover fracking, but state officials don’t regulate or even track this dangerous way of extracting oil and gas. The state needs to stop ignoring the law and start protecting our environment.”

Fracking, as exposed in the documentary film Gasland (http://www.gaslandthemovie.com/whats-fracking), involves blasting massive amounts of water and industrial chemicals, mixed with sand, deep into the earth at pressures high enough to crack apart geologic formations, causing fractures that let oil and gas move into the wells and to the surface.

Over 600 wells fracked in 2011

The Center said more than 600 wells in at least nine California counties were fracked in 2011 alone. Recent advances in fracking techniques are driving a growing interest in the Monterey Shale, a geological formation holding an estimated 15 billion barrels of oil.

“Reports have documented the dangers of fracking, including more than 1,000 instances of water contamination around the country,” according to the Center. “Fracking also emits hazardous air pollutants and methane, a potent greenhouse gas. It has the potential to induce seismic activity in one of the nation’s most earthquake-prone states.”

California’s existing oil and gas regulations cover all forms of underground injection and clearly apply to fracking. Fracking was exempted from the federal Safe Drinking Water Act in 2005 by what is known as the “Halliburton loophole” in the Bush/Cheney Energy Bill, but no such exemption exists in California law.

“Compliance with California’s existing oil and gas regulations would require disclosure of all fracking chemicals, as well as engineering studies and tests to evaluate the potential for underground migration of fracking fluids. State regulators would also need to ensure that fracking is conducted in a way that prevented, as far as possible, damage to life, health, property, and California’s water and other natural resources,” the group said.

In response to growing public concern, state regulators have issued a “discussion draft” of new regulations that would cover fracking, but these regulations have not yet been formally proposed, much less finalized, Pardee noted.

“At present, industry fracks whenever and however it deems fit, and that practice has to stop,” added Pardee. “State regulators must implement the requirements that are already in place to provide better protection for the air we breathe and the water we drink.”

State officials refuse to address conflicts of interest, terminally flawed science

The power of the oil industry in California is demonstrated by the alarming fact that the same oil lobbyist who is now leading the industry charge to expand fracking also chaired the panel that created “marine protected areas” (MPAs) in Southern California and served on the task forces that created the MPAs on the North Coast, North Central Coast and Central Coast.

Shamefully, Natural Resources Agency and Department of Fish and Game (now Department of Fish and Wildlife) officials, the mainstream media and corporate “environmental” NGOs and foundation representatives greenwashed the key role that a powerful oil lobbyist played in “marine protection” in California. This only increased the oil industry's already powerful position in California politics.

Natural Resources Secretary John Laird, Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Chuck Bonham and other state officials have refused to address the central role that Reheis-Boyd and other corporate operatives with numerous conflicts of interest, including a coastal real estate developer and marina corporation executive, played in the implementation of the MLPA Initiative.

They have also failed to address the terminally flawed and incomplete science the initiative was based upon, the overt violation of the Yurok Tribe's traditional harvesting rights and the private funding behind that initiative that have made the MLPA into one of the most bizarre cases of greenwashing in California history.

For more information, go to: http://www.californiaprogressreport.com/site/new-marine-reserve-network-doesnt-protect-ocean

THE NOYO FOOD FOREST will hold a Dine Out on Wednesday evening, February 27, at the MacCallum House Inn and Restaurant, located on 45020 Albion St. in Mendocino. Dinner will be served from 5:30-8pm, and the bar opens at 5:00. The MacCallum House will donate all of its profits from the evening to the Noyo Food Forest. Bring your friends for a wonderful meal, and support Noyo Food Forest's Farm to School program, its new wheelchair accessible Garden within Reach, and its overall mission to grow community one garden at a time.  Reservations are recommended. 937-0289. or  www.maccallumhouse.com

 

2 Comments

  1. Jerry Burns February 4, 2013

    Hi Bruce,
    When will “hippy” go away?

  2. John Sakowicz February 4, 2013

    Outstanding job in today’s blog reporting on the Ukiah RDA and Successor Agency.

    Thank God for the AVA!

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