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Mendocino County Today: February 9, 2013

HERE’S A SUMMARY of Mendocino County CEO Carmel Angelo’s appearance at the Anderson Valley Unity Club meeting Thursday afternoon, February 7, 2013.

• Opening remarks:

By background, Ms. Angelo is a registered nurse, and a certified public health nurse.

When she first arrived, Ms. Angelo said, the Board of Supervisors was like a group of gladiators who came to meetings prepared to fight. Now this current board seems to realize that they work better as a group and don't fight as much.

Ms. Angelo noted that she is the first female CEO in Mendocino County history. (Applause from the predominantly female audience.) Ms. Angelo joked that she is not invited to the Cannibal Club lunch. (Laughter.)

• Some County factoids:

30% of the County’s population requests services from the county each year which translates to between 25,000 and 30,000 people — “a staggering number.”

In 2007 the county had a $2 million deficit. It now has a $4.5 million surplus. (Applause.)

The county's financial condition is fragile but no more cuts are planned or pending. The county's workforce has gone from about 1500 down to about 1000, representing about a reduction of a third of the staff. The employment reduction was achieved with 100 layoffs on top of the usual retirements, resignations, firings, and other departures from county employment.

Ms Angelo admitted there was not much business development in the county and therefore not much job growth. Mendocino County has a lot of “legitimate” small businesses which are not based on marijuana and those businesses produce a gross economic benefit of approximately $300 million per year.

The county is trying to relax regulations to improve economic development but no specific examples were offered.

Most jobs in Mendocino County are in government, the trades, or wine/tourism. Average salary is $650 per week (about $34k per year).

Mendocino County is a rural county with a 17% poverty rate “which is a problem.” The poverty rate among persons 65 or older is 9.6% which is higher than average and also a problem. “I don't know what the problem is,” said Ms. Angelo, “but we plan to address this sometime this year. Please call your Supervisors and urge them to participate.”

Mendocino County has seen very small county population growth, only about a 2% increase from 2000-2010. School enrollments continue to decline and Mendocino County is the only county on the northcoast which is experiencing actual declines in enrollment.

Ms. Angelo said that the Sheriff told her that two deputies are allocated to Anderson Valley and that one has been on duty. (A man in the audience rudely screeched, "NONE!") The sheriff added that the Valley's resident deputy is being called away to the coast a lot. However, three new deputies are slated to be on duty by April 15 which will result in the two resident deputies being in Anderson Valley most of the time. In addition, the Sheriff has recently contracted with Fish and Game to the tune of $75,000 to help with pot grows which is expected to free up some deputy time. The sheriff has made a commitment to the April 15 deadline and resident deputies are not threatened by any financial difficulties.

Anderson Valley is experiencing an increase in drug-related problems but based on probation numbers juvenile crime is down — only 1 out of 46 current juvenile probationers are from Anderson Valley.

Next Tuesday the Board will get a mid-year budget report and during that time the board will review the problems with the County fair budget and will be asking the fair manager, Mr. Brown, to present a revenue development plan.

Ms. Angelo said that the board hopes to have one meeting in each district this year and that she expects the meeting in the Fifth District will be in Anderson Valley.

• Questions

- Costco?

Angelo said that that's a Ukiah City question — they seem to be trying to get Costco there.

- The status of the County's opposition to the federal subpoena?

“I wish I knew. It's now scheduled for February 19 in San Francisco.”

- Employment problems?

Angelo said that the county is trying to be business friendly. Some permit fees have been waived, some streamlining has been done. They now have a one-stop permit shop. “We are not pounding the pavement for new businesses,” said Angelo, “but we certainly welcome them.”

- Broadband?

The Broadband Alliance is very good, very active; but it takes money.

- Mental Health situation?

The County spends $20 million a year on mental health and a high percentage of that is in outside contracts. Over $10 million of it is in private contracts for mental-health services to children.

- Why doesn't mental-health get more attention?

Mental Health is "on the fringe" of County services. In the past they've been over budget. They have changed their service delivery model several times, closed the Psychiatric Health Facility in 2007, gone from over 100 employees and $10 million worth of county employment down to 45-50 people now and more private contracts are pending. The old model was not sustainable. An RFP was issued for privatizing large parts of remaining mental-health functions and proposals have been received, but she said she didn't know the specific status of the contracts at this time. The Board of Supervisors will get a presentation on that subject next month (in March). If the contract is awarded, one third of the current Mental Health staff will be retained to do administration and quality assurance of the contracts, one-third will be transferred to other jobs in County employment, and one third are supposed to be hired by the nonprofit contractors. Since the total cost for an employee at a nonprofit company is lower than what the County pays (due to higher benefits and overhead), Ms. Angelo expects that there's a possibility that privatization will result in more mental health services because more employees could be working in mental health for the same amount of money.

- The $4.5 million surplus seems high. Why is it so high?

It's actually relatively small and it could go “in a heartbeat” if the feds start making demands or if the pension system crashes or if any number of other crises hit. They expect to have to spend $1-$1.5 million to repair the public health facility where the pipe broke, although in this case most of that water damage will be covered by insurance).

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ACCORDING TO THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AG, the Northcoast’s 2012 grape crop leaped 58 percent over 2011 for a total 2012 value  of some $1.4 billion. The crop itself grew 46 percent as new acreage came on line.

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SHERIFF ALLMAN has offered Mendocino County’s ace tracker dog, K-9 "Red," to Los Angeles as the LAPD hunts a rogue cop. The Sheriff was also on public radio out of LA today discussing the LA fugitive in relation to the Bassler interlude in Mendocino County. (PS. Sheriff Allman and “Out There In The Woods” co-author Steve Sparks will be Pat Thurston’s guests on KGO (AM 810) radio out of San Francisco this Sunday evening in the 6pm hour.

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BUSINESS AS USUAL

A pale shade of Bribery

Is sometimes called Prosperity.

Accomplice in Skullduggery

Conceals its name: Dishonesty.

Foster child of Business: War--

Where Fair is Weak and Love’s a Whore

And greatest Sin is being Poor.

(Italics from George Eliot’s Middlemarch.)

— John Wester

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THE COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION announced Friday that they have voted unanimously to appoint Donald Cruser of Little River to fill the trustee vacancy in Area #5 created by the resignation of David Wylie.  Mr. Cruser is a retired math teacher.  He taught in the Mendocino Unified School District for 31 years. Mr. Cruser was one of three candidates interviewed by the Board on Monday, February 4th. The Oath of Office was administered by Superintendent Paul Tichinin following the meeting and Mr. Cruser assumed his duties immediately.  The appointment term will expire on December 6, 2013. For more information on the Mendocino County Board of Education please visit http://www.mcoe.us/d/admin/board.

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NOT MUCH NEW on the bankruptcy status at Coast Hospital in Fort Bragg. The Hospital Board met in closed session on January 24 to discuss the bankruptcy status with their attorneys, but no announcement was made. According to the Hospital’s bankruptcy filings their biggest creditor is a huge national pharmaceutical supply house called Cardinal Health which sells a full range of medicine, plasma and hospital supplies and equipment (almost $350k owed). The second largest debtor is Calpers (almost $200k owed) which probably has something to do with employee pensions, but could also be a loan payback. Third highest is a Walnut Creek based outfit (about $110k owed) that provides rent-a-docs for emergency room coverage. Under $100k is owed to various artificial joint suppliers, recruiters/head-hunters (i.e., employees, not head transplants), etc., adding up to about $1.2 million in quantifiable creditors. Wayne Allen, who replaced the popular Ray Hino last fall as Hospital CEO and who immediately pushed the board into filing for bankruptcy (Hino had a plan to avoid bankruptcy, but the Board voted 3-2 to file for it), said last week, “My personal goal is to be out of bankruptcy by June 30.” (But he didn’t say what year…) Board member Tom Birdsell, a former Silicon Valley Corporate Treasurer/Comptroller, said the hospital was suffering from “escalating losses” as patient revenue continues to decline. CEO Allen continued to blame a large chunk of the Hospital’s red ink on their employees who, Allen says, continue to refuse to offer any givebacks from their current contract. “We have had a $1.8 million loss in six months,” said Allen, which by itself is more than the amount the Hospital owes its suppliers/creditors. “We cannot handle that,” said Allen, adding ominously, “There are answers to the problem and some serious steps need to be taken.” Hospital staff take that kind of talk to mean that Mr. Allen is looking for “serious” wage and benefit concessions from his employees. The employees union has staunchly resisted the subject of givebacks and late last year voted almost unanimously to authorize a strike if any were forced on them. Allen said he was working on a debt restructuring proposal for the bankruptcy court and hoped to turn it over to the judge by the end of February.

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MENDOCINO COUNTY COUNSEL Tom Parker issued a brief press release on Friday saying that he and the attorney for the US Attorney’s office have agreed to (again) postpone the hearing on the County’s motion to quash the US Attorney’s “overbroad” subpoena for all materials associated with the County’s now-defunct marijuana cultivation ordinance (County Code 9.31) until February 19 before federal district judge Richard Seeborg in San Francisco.

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Tim Lincecum, before & after haircut... K.D. Lang
Tim Lincecum, before & after haircut... K.D. Lang

TIM LINCECUM’S NEW CONVENTIONAL HAIRCUT is creating quite a buzz with Giants fans and the public at large, as they strain to come up with comparisons such as KD Lang, which seem like a stretch (except perhaps the glasses). Now if they’d only start wondering if Lincecum could be the replacement for Brian Wilson whose Giants bullpen career seems over.

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America's Revolutionary Poet: Dancing to Ferlinghetti’s Beat

by Louis Proyect

FerlinghettiAs you watch the 93-year-old Lawrence Ferlinghetti with shoulders squared back like a 21-year-old athlete striding briskly through the streets of San Francisco in the marvelous new documentary “Ferlinghetti: a Rebirth of Wonder”, it might occur to you that poetry and radical politics are the magic elixir that Ponce De Leon was searching for in vain.

As a seminal figure of the Beat Generation, Ferlinghetti is still going strong as are a number of other poets who pay tribute to him throughout the film, including Gary Snyder, Michael McClure, and Amiri Baraka (who started out as a beat poet named LeRoi Jones.) Though having departed to higher spiritual realms, Allen Ginsberg makes a striking appearance as well, sitting side by side with Ferlinghetti as they are interviewed on art and politics. The connection between the two is particularly intimate since Ferlinghetti risked prison time for publishing “Howl” back in 1956 through the auspices of City Lights Books, an offshoot of the bookstore he had launched a few years earlier.

It is almost impossible to exaggerate the importance of bookstores like City Lights and George Whitman’s Shakespeare and Company in the 1950s. Shakespeare and Company opened in Paris around the time that Ferlinghetti was working on a PhD at the Sorbonne. After coming back to the United States, he decided to open his own store modeled on Whitman’s, paying homage to it by putting up a sign “Shakespeare and Company” just above “City Lights” and right above the front door. In the mid-50s, the paperback revolution was gathering strength and people like Ferlinghetti were in the vanguard, placing titles by New Directions and Grove Press on their shelves, as well as those of publishers even more on the leading edge. Fortunately Whitman was interviewed for the documentary just before his death at the age of 98 in December 2011, additional evidence that rebellion is good for your health.

In New York City the counterpart of such stores was the Eighth Street Bookshop owned and operated by Eli Wilentz, the father of historian Sean Wilentz. As an aspiring young Beatnik and Bard College undergrad in the early 60s I used to make pilgrimages to Wilentz’s store to check out the latest books and magazines. I bought my Kerouac, Ginsberg, Burroughs, and Gary Snyder there, as well as Barney Rosset’s Evergreen Review. Harry Braverman, who had parted ways with the Socialist Workers Party in the mid-50s for pretty much the reasons I had about 25 years later, had joined Rosset’s Grove Press as an editor and could be relied upon to stump for books like “Autobiography of Malcolm X”, “Che Guevara Speaks”, and Franz Fanon’s “Wretched of the Earth”, all Grove Press imprints.

Ferlinghetti states emphatically that the beat generation provided the roots of both the 60s radicalization and the counter-culture. The beats had a smaller audience, including only the most alienated teenagers at outposts like Bard College, Oberlin, Antioch, and Goddard who were ready to go on the road even if this meant dropping out of school.

In less than a decade hundreds of thousands would attend be-in’s or peace demonstrations inspired by the same sentiments found in works such as Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s “Coney Island of the Mind”, a collection of poems that was likely to be found on any bookshelf next to works by Ginsberg, Kerouac or Burroughs. Ferlinghetti explains that the book’s title comes from a phrase found in Henry Miller’s “Into the Night Life”. Miller, of course, was godfather to the beat generation just as the beats were to the 60s radicals and hippies.

The first page electrifies me as much as it did when I first read it around 50 years ago:

In Goya’s greatest scenes we seem to see

the people of the world

exactly at the moment when

they first attained the title of

‘suffering humanity’

They writhe upon the page

in a veritable rage

of adversity

Heaped up

groaning with babies and bayonets

under cement skies

in an abstract landscape of blasted trees

bent statues bats wings and beaks

slippery gibbets

cadavers and carnivorous cocks

and all the final hollering monsters

of the

‘imagination of disaster’

they are so bloody real

it is as if they really still existed

After graduating Bard in 1965 I drove out to San Francisco with another Bard graduate named Rick Smith, who played a mean blues harmonica, on Route 66. There were no interstates at the time—thank god. We didn’t have to say it to each other, but we were sure we were reliving the Dean Moriarty-Sal Paradise experience in our own modest way. I wanted to live in San Francisco and write poetry. This was at a time when the cruel realities of the job market had not yet forced young people down the maws of law or business school.

It was not, however, too soon for the crueler reality of the Vietnam War that made me hightail it back to New York and into the welcoming arms of the New School and a draft deferment. In a couple of years I would become a political as well as a cultural radical. I only wish that the political path I followed had been closer to Ferlinghetti’s anarchism that was much more on native grounds, as Albert Kazin once put it.

Years later I would discover that people like Ferlinghetti and Kenneth Rexroth, whose anarchist-Buddhist oriented show on KPFA had influenced him, were members of a tradition that both preceded and lay outside the Marxist orthodoxy of the CPUSA and SWP variety. With the Bay Area serving as a long-standing hotbed for anarchism and pacifism, it is not a stretch to say that the “San Francisco Renaissance” strand of the beat generation was a critical link between the beats and the 60s counterculture. Indeed, Lew Hill—the founder of the Pacifica Network—had spent time in doing alternative service as a conscientious objector during WWII.

Ferlinghetti joined the navy before WWII and found himself part of numerous large scale landing forces, including the one that came to Japan right after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Under conditions of non-existent security, he found his way to Nagasaki and was appalled by what he saw. Every building had been leveled to the ground and the severed limbs of the dead could be seen everywhere protruding from the rubble. From that moment on, he was a pacifist driven by the same sense of humanity that led Howard Zinn to pacifism after seeing the destruction he had wrought as an air force bombardier.

“Ferlinghetti: a Rebirth of Wonder” opens on February 8th at the Quad in New York. Check http://firstrunfeatures.com/ferlinghetti_playdates.html to see other venues. Lawrence Ferlinghetti is a national treasure and the kind of poet laureate we really deserve. Don’t miss this inspiring glimpse into the life of a man who made us what we are today.

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJZXUnurZGo

Louis Proyect blogs at http://louisproyect.wordpress.com and is the moderator of the Marxism mailing list at http://greenhouse.economics.utah.edu/.

4 Comments

  1. James Marmon February 9, 2013

    “Now this current board seems to realize that they work better as a group and don’t fight as much.”

    groupthink

    Definition
    group·think[ grp thìngk ]NOUN
    1. unquestioning conformity: conformity in thought and behavior among the members of a group, especially an unthinking acceptance of majority opinions

  2. James Marmon February 9, 2013

    “Those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it.”

  3. James Marmon February 9, 2013

    I have a problem with private foster/adoption agencies providing mental health services for the same children that they have placed in their homes. I believe there is a definite conflict of interest. It is my experience that these providers are focused more on getting children and parents to accept and adjust to their situation rather than what is needed for family reunification. It is a type of parental alienation which is damaging to the child.

  4. James Marmon February 9, 2013

    For decades children and babies have been forcefully removed from good, loving mothers and placed in foster care, or adoption. Every day more mothers and children are stalked and threatened by “children and family services.”

    Children who have been forcefully removed over the years tell of the brutality that was used to separate them from their mothers and loving families.

    So in addition to the HUMAN TRAFFICKING that is happening around the world by criminals, pedophiles and psychopaths, there are THOUSANDS OF GOVERNMENT WORKERS ALSO COLLECTING MONEY FOR STOLEN CHILDREN.

    The practice of STEALING BABIES AT HOSPITALS AND removing children and placing them in foster care or adoptive homes is provided by the government budget called TITLE-IV E FUNDING, AND PAID FOR by YOUR TAX DOLLARS!!!

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