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Mendocino County Today: March 25, 2013

JenicaFrederickTHE 12-YEAR OLD GIRL who went missing Thursday morning was safely found at a relative's home in Santa Rosa on Sunday. Jenica Fredrick was reported missing to the Lake County Sheriff's Office (LCSO) in the late evening on Thursday. Frederick was described as being distraught and upset over a recent behavioral incident at home, according to LCSO Chris Macedo. The pre-teen had been missing since 7am. She was last seen on St. Helena Drive in Cobb wearing jeans and a green plaid jacket. Rescue teams searched the Cobb Mountain area since the initial call that night. LCSO received unconfirmed information Frederick may have possibly been headed to the Lakeport area, Macedo stated. During an exhaustive search of the Cobb Mountain and Lakeport areas, a family member called Frederick's parents to tell them she arrived at his home in Santa Rosa, Macedo stated in a release. At the time of the release, sent at about 2:45pm, Saturday, Frederick's parents were en route to Santa Rosa to be reunited with their daughter.

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TUESDAY, the Supervisors will discuss The Teeter Plan, which has become more Totter than Teeter because, in a staggering economy, spending money you aren't likely to have inevitably leads to no Teeter and all Totter. Mendocino County, like the rest of the American economy (straight-up robbed in 2008 by Wall Street and its elected gofers) is now more Totter than Teeter.

LOCALLY, the strategy called the Teeter Plan began in 1993, before the financial collapse of 2008 caused by high-level thieving. In 1993, via the Teeter Plan, Mendocino County could pay certain large expenditures in convenient advance because everyone was still able to pay their property taxes. County income was predictable, as was capitalism, a system of social organization that promises more stuff for more people forever. Millions of Americans are now re-thinking that assumption.

WHEN MORE FOR EVERYONE FOREVER prevailed pre-2008, the County could distribute money to community services and school districts, upfront, on the safe fiscal assumption that property taxes would roll in to Ukiah as they always had in predictable amounts. And the County would get the penalty and interest when the delinquent taxes rolled in. But suddenly,beginning in 2008, lots of people defaulted on their mortagages and property tax returns to the County were less, much less. And the squeeze was on. It's still on.

THE COUNTY did pretty well pre-2008, sailing along on the insecure knowledge that the few properties in default would get out of default, and delinquent taxes owed on them would be paid, with interest. And property values would remain artificially high. But then there was a huge downward readjustment and suddenly the Teeter Plan was a liability, and not a stable or even viable method to advance cash-money. The County was spending money that it assumed would come in with interest, but didn’t — effectively borrowing against future revenue that didn’t get reimbursed.

NOW IS NOW, and the overall economic picture has changed from serene optimism to worst case scenario. Mendocino County is more on the pessimistic, or realistic, end of the optimism-worst-case scale because “when these properties are no longer marketable either due to reputation or actual fair market value ... the Teeter program becomes a County General Fund liability that can no longer be sustained.” Which has happened big time at Brooktrails (where properties which are supposed to be sold for back taxes are not sold) leaving the County holding an empty tax bag just in that one development. Add Brooktrails to lots of property defaults around the County plus property devaluations and Teeter is definitely Tottering, hence the discussion this Tuesday.

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WATER DAY III: Exploring Solutions to Improve Eel River Flow and Water

Quality — The third annual Water Day community forum will be held on Saturday March 30 starting at 9 AM and running all day at the Mattel Community Center in Redway. The subject of the meeting is the health of the Eel River and how people can change their land and water use practices to allow it to recover. The program will feature brief presentations and more lengthy panel discussions that are aimed at answering community questions and giving people enough information so they can take action to implement water conservation and reduce pollution.

The day will begin with presentations on the health of the Eel River. Keith Bouma-Gregson is pursuing a doctorate at UC Berkeley and assisting the Eel River Recovery Project (ERRP) with 2013 algae monitoring. He will talk about why the river has become susceptible to toxic algae and how we might be able to combat it. ERRP Volunteer Coordinator Patrick Higgins will summarize 2012 water quality, flow and Chinook salmon population assessment results and then he and Keith will join a panel of other experts and volunteers to field audience questions.

Water conservation is going to be central to getting the Eel River back in good health and the presentation and panel on this topic in the late morning will discuss technology transfer of the successful water conservation project in the upper Mattole River to the Eel River basin. Humboldt State University graduate student Sara Shremmer will frame the issues and then join a panel that includes water conservation experts, a hydrologist and someone with knowledge of California water law.

WATER DAY II at the Mateel Community Center*

Kristin Nevedal of the Emerald Growers Association will chair a session on sustainable agricultural practices with the aim of reducing water pollution. Science now is confirming what many observers have noticed: forest and watershed health profoundly impact water yield. During a forest and watershed health session, those in attendance can ask experts how they can help increase water yield, reduce erosion and decrease fire risk through improved management. Getting shade back on Eel River tributaries would help to cool water, which improves habitat for salmon, but also reduces algae blooms. A panel of riparian restoration experts will talk about how people get stream-side trees back and possibly acquire grant funds for large scale projects.

The Eel River Recovery Project is the primary sponsor of Water Day III. Co-sponsors include the Trees Foundation, Mateel Community Center, Sanctuary Forest, Redwood Forest Foundation, Friends of Van Duzen River, EPIC, Friends of Eel, Institute for Sustainable Forestry, Salmonid Restoration Federation, CalTrout and KMUD Radio. Chautauqua Natural Foods, Pacific Watershed Associates, Bioengineering Associates and the Emerald Growers Association are underwriting the forum. Los Bagels, Eureka Natural Foods and the Lost Coast Brewery are supporting Water Day with donations.

Doors will open with coffee and bagels at 8:30 AM and the program begins at 9 AM. There is no charge for admission, but donations for lunch will be accepted. For more information or to volunteer to help on Water Day, call the Eel River Recovery Project at 223-7200.

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theavamonthlyhitsTHEAVA.COM is now up to an average of about 2,000 hits per day, or an average of about 60,000 hits per month. Back in 2009 when our website was launched, it was running about half that and the trend has been increasing each month. The spike in hits in November of last year was primarily due to our initial breaking of the big Kansas-Mendo marijuana-connection busts story, cases which are now being sorted out in Federal Court in Oakland. According to the blogosphere, any website that gets over 50,000 hits a month is considered a smashing success. Considering that www.theava.com is based primarily in relatively small Mendocino County, that’s pretty darn good. (And March isn't over yet.)

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PSSST! WANNA BE PRINCIPAL AT BOONVILLE HIGH SCHOOL?

Here's the specs, unchanged over 20 years and, we'd say, largely unmet. So, Photoshop yerself a totally bogus cv and one a them Paul Tichinin-type credentials, polish your teeth until they're whiter than white for a lot of chickenshit grinning and forced hilarity like Car Talk (in Boonville the hiring committee would be the people you would in theory be supervising), maybe marry one of the teachers (at least on paper for a couple of unhappy nights), and just generally sorta make it clear that, heh-heh, you're ready to play ball, and, buddy you've got yourself a part-time job at very attractive full-time pay.

ANDERSON VALLEY UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

Principal Job Description

NATURE OF THE JOB

• Promotes the educational development of each student and staff member at the school site through the skillful use of leadership, supervisory and administrative techniques.

• Promotes the continuing improvement of instructional programs at the school site.

• Supervises all certificated and classified staff assigned to the school site.

• Establishes the tone of the school by promoting a climate for positive relationships with staff, students, and parents. Promotes a positive atmosphere at the school site which recognizes that the top priority is to meet the needs of all the students.

PRIMARY DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIESGENERAL

• Directly responsible to the Superintendent.

• Carries out all duties as directed by Superintendent.

• Maintains familiarity with state, county, and school district laws, regulations, policies, and procedures.

• Attends administrative, management and school board meetings, and such other meetings as required by the position.

• Improves and updates his/her knowledge about recent research and developments in curriculum and learning theory.

• Insures a clean, safe, and healthy school environment.

CURRICULUM

• Provides leadership to staff in determining instructional objectives—developing, revising and evaluating the school curriculum in support of the district's educational goals.

• Supervises directly, or delegates to qualified staff, the development and operation of extracurricular programs, including athletics.

• Assists teachers in interpreting and implementing the approved curriculum programs according to the needs of students.

• Is responsible for class/program scheduling at the school site in accordance with Board policy.

• Provides leadership in the development, implementation, and supervision of categorical programs at the school site.

PUBLIC RELATIONS

• Establishes, and works cooperatively with community support groups for various programs, and carries out a program of effective community relations.

STUDENTS/PARENTS

• Develops standards of student conduct, supervises students, and enforces discipline.

• Maintains communication with students and parents in a positive and supportive manner.

PERSONNEL

• Supervises the performance of, and evaluates the staff personnel assigned to the school site in accordance with adopted guidelines; recommends appropriate action in cases of substandard performance; and identifies and encourages individual staff members who show leadership potential.

• Participates in selection and hiring of assigned staff.

• Plans and supervises: fire drills, bus conduct, instruction, and emergency preparedness program for personnel and students.

• Establishes an effective school administrative organization with clear lines of authority and responsibility.

• Facilitates communication between the Superintendent and all staff assigned to the school site.

• Maintains all records and reports, as are required by law, district policy, or Superintendent's direction.

• In collaboration with staff, prepares and administers the site budget and controls expenditures in order to keep within the adopted budget. Assists with the development of district budget as required by Superintendent.

• Determines classroom/subject teaching assignment and support services needs at the school site and recommends to Superintendent the classroom teaching assignments and support services.

• Is familiar with both the classified and certificated employee contracts.

• Updates as needed, a teacher's handbook, classified employee's handbook, and student handbook.

• Provides opportunities for professional growth to the staff.

• Assists the Superintendent in administrating district personnel practices.

BUILDINGS/GROUNDS/EQUIPMENT

• Plans and supervises, with staff members, the effective use and maintenance of the school buildings, grounds and equipment.

• Assists with the development of district-wide building programs to meet immediate and long-range district needs, including optimum use of available facilities. Makes recommendations to the Superintendent regarding the facility needs at the school site.

• Maintains an accurate inventory of all equipment, furniture, instructional materials, etc. that are housed at the school site.

NOTE: After input and consultation with each principal, the Superintendent will develop an administrative guideline checklist of specific procedures and “things to do” for each school site Principal for the purpose of assisting each school site principal in carrying out the job description duties and responsibilities as outlined in this policy.

Adopted: December 8, 1992

(Administrative Salary Schedule: starting range $66,099 - $71,718 based upon experience, plus district-paid health and welfare benefits.)

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STATEMENT OF THE WEEK: Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.” — George Orwell

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WATER FOR FRACKING:

Eight acre feet, 6,721 acre feet or much, much more?

by Dan Bacher

During the contentious public Bay Delta Conservation Plan public meeting held in West Sacramento on March 20, Natural Resources Agency Deputy Director Jerry Meral twice evaded a question by Burt Wilson of Public Water News Service about water being used for fracking of oil and natural gas wells in California. (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/03/22/18734066.php)

However, in a post on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) website the same day, Richard Stapler, Deputy Secretary for Communications of the California Natural Resources Agency, claimed that only 8 acre feet of water is used every year for hydraulic fracturing in California, in an apparent attempt to minimize the amount of water employed for fracking. (http://baydeltaconservationplan.com/blog/blog/13-03-20/Oil_Water.aspx_)

Opponents of the peripheral tunnels fear that the water diverted from the Sacramento San Joaquin Delta would be used for hydraulic fracturing in Monterey Shale deposits on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley and in coastal areas.

"With apologies to all the sci-fi fans out there, I have to say I deplore the term 'fracking,'" said Stapler. "It's shorthand for an important process called hydraulic fracturing used in the oil extraction business. The process uses water and a small mix of chemicals to fracture and prop open rock formations thousands of feet under the earth's surface to allow for pumping of crude oil."

"So, it's helpful to know that only 8 acre feet of water is used every year in California for hydraulic fracturing. That's enough water for 32 average families for a year. For additional context, the average amount of water we move through the Delta in a typical year is 4.8 million acre feet (though it varies by year)," he stated.

He cited information from the Department of Conservation’s Division of Oil, Gas, & Geothermal Resources as the justification for his figure.

“As for the total amount used, the best source of information currently is the voluntary reporting to the FracFocus site,” according to Stapler. “The site lists 728 hydraulically fractured wells in California. There's a PDF document attached to each of those wells that includes, among other things, the amount of water used to fracture the well.”

“We did a random sample of 30 of those wells and came up with 2,621,272 gallons (8 acre feet) used - an average of 87,375 gallons per well. That may or may not be representative, but at least it gives you some idea. The range was from about 10,000 gallons to just over 200,000 gallons,” Stapler continued.

Stapler contrasted the amount of water he said is used by fracking operations in the eastern U.S. and California.

“In the eastern U.S., hydraulic fracturing tends to use significantly more water than in California,” Stapler contended. “That's because the most efficient way to get at natural gas trapped in shale is to drill horizontally for thousands of feet and then fracture stimulate the reservoir along the horizontal section using up to 13 million gallons of water. At least at present, most California wells are drilled vertically, with any fracture interval being much smaller.”

Yet in a footnote at the bottom, Stapler states, “For reference, you could multiply the average of 87,375 gallons with every injection well in the state (about 25,000) and still come up with a relatively small amount of water -- 6,721 acre feet, or water for about 27,000 average families for a year.”

Stapler hasn’t yet responded to my email inquiry over the enormous discrepancy in the water he claims is used for fracking per year — 8 acre feet of water in one section of his article and 6,721 acre feet in another!

Fracking opponents say amount of water used is much higher

Lynn Krug from the Stop Fracking California facebook page (www.facebook.com/StopFrackingCalifornia) said the water used by companies to extract natural gas and oil through fracking in California is much greater than Stapler or the oil industry claim it is.

“Each individual drilling of a well can use 1,000,000 to 5,000,000 gallons of water,” she said. “Each platform can have multiple drilled ‘wells’ in a 4 mile diameter, a 2 mile radius from the well platform. Each well can be fracked multiple times.”

She said the use and allocation of water is “dire to California,” given the shortages now and in a potential drought, for fresh water to Delta aquatic life, agriculture, drinking water and fire protection.

She also pointed out that not only will fracking operations need lots of water, but they will dispose of toxic fluid waste, furthering endangering water supplies and the environment.

“The disposal of the toxic fluid waste is a further endangerment to contamination of existing fresh water, human safety, and agriculture,” Krug stated. “Fracking is an insecure process as repeatedly proven by the national reporting of failures. California's own drilling history is lax by the failure to monitor these sites and makes it appear that the process is safe - it is not.”

Burt Wilson, a staunch opponent of the Delta tunnels and fracking, responded to Stapler's blog post, “There is no way to prove what Stapler is talking about, but in many cases the wells can't get the water yet! That's why the need for the tunnels! With the tunnels in, they can frack 'til their heart's content."

Describing the information voluntarily provided by the oil industry on water for fracking as “propaganda,” Wilson stated, “It is misleading as hell. I asked Occidental Oil--who plan 154 to create fracking jobs soon--where they get their water and they refused to tell me.”

“Stapler wants a person to believe that the ‘new’ fracking water is already being used, but it's not. Fresh water is still the staple and the tunnels will certainly supply it when the real fracking kicks in after the tunnels are built--if ever,” said Wilson.

So what is the actual amount of water now used for fracking in Califonia right now — 8 acre feet of water, 6,721 acre feet, or much, much more as fracking opponents contend?

Kern County oil industry uses vast quantities of water

One thing is for certain - oil companies use big quantities in their current oil drilling operations in Kern County, although the amount specifically used in fracking operations is hard to pinpoint. Much of this water this comes through the State Water Project's California Aqueduct and the Central Valley Water Project's Delta-Mendota Canal, spurring increasing conflicts between local farmers and oil companies over available water.

"What’s resoundingly clear, however, is that it takes more water than ever just to sustain Kern County’s ebbing oil production," according to Jeremy Miller's 2011 investigative piece, "The Colonization of Kern County," in Orion Magazine (http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/6047/)

"At the height of California oil production in 1985, oil companies in Kern County pumped 1.1 billion barrels of water underground to extract 256 million barrels of oil — a ratio of roughly four and a half barrels of water for every barrel of oil," according to Miller. "In 2008, Kern producers injected nearly 1.3 billion barrels of water to extract 162 million barrels of oil — a ratio of nearly eight barrels of water for every barrel of oil produced."

Miller's investigation has yielded some alarming data on how much water has been used by the oil industry in Kern County and statewide since the 1960s.

"In the time since steamflooding was pioneered here in the fields of Kern County in the 1960s, oil companies statewide have pumped roughly 2.8 trillion gallons of fresh water — or, in the parlance of agriculture, nearly 9 million acre-feet — underground in pursuit of the region’s tarry oil," said Miller. "Essentially, enough water has been injected into the oil fields here over the last forty years to create a lake one foot deep covering more than thirteen thousand square miles — nearly twice the surface area of Lake Ontario."

Miller also said he was surprised to learn from local water authorities that a "good deal of the water for steamflooding comes from the same source that supplies the region’s farms: the Central Valley and State Water Projects," although he said exact information on the amount of water used from the projects for oil drilling operations is not required by the state or federal governments.

"Oil companies call the fresh water they buy from outside sources 'makeup water," wrote Miller. "It’s difficult to gauge exactly how much of this makeup water comes from the State Water Project, since oil companies are not required to disclose the sources of their water, and no state agency tracks the fate of State Water Project water after it has been sent down the pipe."

As more information becomes available, I will report on the water used now, as well as the water that could potentially be used in the future, as the oil industry increases fracking operations in California.

Delta advocates and anti-fracking activists oppose the construction of Governor Jerry Brown's peripheral tunnels because the project will likely lead to the extinction of Central Valley Chinook salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt and other fish species, according to agency and independent scientists. They believe that the "dual conveyance" proposed under the Bay Delta Conservation Plan will make an already horrific ecosystem collapse even worse.

Between 2000 and 2011, more than 130,000,000 fish were "salvaged" in the massive state and federal pumps diverting water to corporate agribusiness and southern California, according to a white paper written by Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA). Considering that recent studies point out that 5 to 10 times more fish are lost than salvaged, the actual number of fish lost could be 1.3 billion or higher. (http://www.restorethedelta.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/CSPA-BDCP-Fish-Screens-Revised.pdf)

Three legislators introduce legislation to stop fracking

In other fracking news, three California assembly members have introduced bills to halt hydraulic fracturing in the state and mandate review of the threats the practice poses to the environment and public health.

The legislation was introduced as the oil industry, represented by Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association and the former chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called "marine protected areas" in Southern California, is now pushing for increasing fracking for oil and natural gas in shale deposits in Kern County and coastal areas.

Reflecting growing concern about fracking’s threat to the environment and public health, Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), Holly Mitchell (D-Culver City) and Adrin Nazarian (D-East San Fernando Valley) have introduced three pieces of legislation — A.B. 1301, A.B. 1323 and A.B. 649 — that would halt fracking in California until the state determines whether and under what conditions fracking can be done without threatening human health and the environment.

The Center for Biological Diversity, Food & Water Watch, Environment California and Clean Water Action are supporting these bills to halt fracking in California.

"Given that fracking is inherently unsafe and poses a direct threat to our communities, we welcome legislation that provides for a comprehensive statewide moratorium,” said Food & Water Watch Pacific Region Director Kristin Lynch.

“We applaud these legislators for their leadership in working to protect Californians from a dangerous fracking boom that could be devastating for the state,” said Brian Nowicki of the Center for Biological Diversity. “State regulators have shrugged off fracking’s dangers, so it’s up to lawmakers to stop oil companies from polluting our air, contaminating our water and undermining our fight against climate change.”

The groups said fracking has been tied to water and air pollution in other states, and it releases huge quantities of methane, a dangerously potent greenhouse gas. More than 600 wells in at least nine California counties were fracked in 2011 alone, and oil companies are gearing up to frack oil deposits in the Monterey Shale, a geological formation that lies beneath some of the state’s most productive farmland and important wildlife habitat.

For more information, go to: http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2013/fracking-03-22-2013.html

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