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Figuring Out The County’s Finances

Let’s see, back in February of last year as about-to-retire CEO Carmel Angelo was farewell addressing from various media platforms, she traced her county government career as one of stark contrasts. As pointed out last week by the Anderson Valley Advertiser’s Mark Scaramella, Mike Geniella reported last February, “As she prepares to step down, Angelo said she is especially satisfied that the county, facing near bankruptcy in 2010, is today on firm financial footing with $20 million in reserves in the face of an annual operating budget of $340 million. ‘I leave knowing the situation today is much healthier than when I was appointed CEO in 2010,’ said Angelo.”

Since then, the Board Of Supervisors has discovered the financial footing is about as firm as standing on a tub of Jello.

Goodbye $20 million in reserves, hello $6.1 million deficit.

There were delays in closing out the county’s books for the past fiscal year, and a required outside, independent audit is not quite completed yet.

Likewise, the shoot-your-own-foot consolidation of the Treasurer-Tax Collector/Auditor-Controller offices, has turned into the messy shotgun wedding that some experienced government financial-types predicted it would be.

Here’s a suggestion for the Supervisors.

No matter what one may think of former CEO Angelo’s management style, she is recognized by most of us who follow these things, as being a proficient and very knowledgeable budgeteer. She knew and knows the budget process. There was certainly some disagreement over her handling and representations of budget matters, but she knew her figures, she knew budget math.

So why not bring her back, either in person or via Zoom, and talk to her.

The Supes and their staff could then dialogue with Angelo and see what she has to say about this current unsettled financial situation the county now finds itself in since it doesn’t appear that “the situation today is much healthier than when I was appointed CEO in 2010.”

Should be a good meeting if it happens.

Might find out what happened that caused things to change so much in such a short time.

Bomb Cyclones

As we went to press in Laytonville last Friday, 15.51 inches of rain fell in the previous ten days, which more than doubled the total amount from the previous five months. 

A week ago Friday, when we recorded 4.15 inches, if the rain hadn’t slacked off by 4pm, we would have experienced serious flooding in downtown Laytonville, and the Feed Store Bridge over Ten Mile Creek would have been underwater. 

Two weeks ago, rainfall totaled a little over 11 inches or 48 percent of the historic norm. This week we stand at 26.92 inches, which is 93 percent of normal, which is 29.02 for this time of year. 

So as I predicted back in August, we are seeing a return to historic precipitation patterns. 

For the next week or so, the heavens will be opening up, a real deluge will be falling upon us. 

One of my OES sources said of this monster events headed our way, “What I gather from this is to prepare as well as possible for the worst case scenario. Continue to hope for the best outcome. My recommendation is to make absolutely sure that you have enough fuel on hand for at least 7 days for mobile equipment and back up generation. It’s much better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it!” 

So be forewarned, the National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a Flood Watch from Jan. 4 6pm to Jan. 6, 4:30am for Mendocino County as heavy rains continue. Anticipate flooding along roadways, debris, and downed trees. High Wind Watch: In effect from Wednesday (1/4/ 23) morning through Thursday (1/ 5/23) morning. Damaging winds could blow down trees and power lines. Widespread power outages are possible. Travel could be difficult, especially for high-profile vehicles. 

Remember, never drive through flood waters. If you see a downed power line, assume it is energized and extremely dangerous. Do not touch or try to move it—keep children and animals away. Report downed power lines immediately by calling 911 and by calling PG&E at 1-800-743-5002. PG&E continues to restore all power outages as they occur. 

Debris Flow Warning Signs: Listen and watch for rushing water, mud, and/or unusual sounds. Unusual sounds, such as trees cracking or boulders knocking together, might indicate moving debris. A faint rumbling sound that increases in volume is noticeable as landslides near. Movement of fences, retaining walls, utility poles, boulders, or trees. Report debris flows to 9-1-1 Again, please use caution if you’re driving and stay home if possible. 

As I said last week, one of the meteorologists that I probably pay the most attention to is Dr. Daniel Swain. He’ s a young guy who holds a PhD in Earth System Science from Stanford University and a B.S. in Atmospheric Science from the University of California, and is a climate scientist in the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. 

Here’s what Swain is saying on Twitter as we go to press: 

“Okay, folks. Starting to look like it’ s going to be a rough 10+ days from a flood risk perspective in Northern California, with a series of very wet & high-impact storms. Pretty spectacular satellite imagery of rapidly strengthening “bomb cyclone” out over the Pacific. This is the system that will bring widespread high wind and heavy rain to Northern California, along with considerable risk of flooding/wind damage.

Why is there concern re: escalating flood risk beyond (strong & high-impact) Wed storm? Ensembles are suggesting another significant precipitation event this weekend following by potential for a prolonged/strong NorCal AR on Mon/Tue, but w/substantial uncertainty. 

Just kind of obsessing over the amazing and perfectly-framed satellite imagery today of the inbound California storm. This is a textbook mid-latitude cyclone, with well-defined warm and cold fronts, and it’ s even developing an eye-like feature near its center. Although peak impacts from Wed/Thu storm are expected in NorCal, this will still be a notable storm for much of SoCal (esp. LA County northward). Expect some significant rainfall Wed and Thu with 2-4” across coasts/valleys and 4-8” over the mountains. Additionally, strong southerly winds (in excess of 60 MPH) are expected across the mountains and Central Coast. 

Interestingly, there appears to be lightning occurring in both warm sector of this storm as well as along the cold front. That is pretty unusual in these parts, and is indicative of both a pretty unstable atmosphere overall as well as the rapid rate of strengthening.”

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