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Deluge, Budget Deficit & Wishful Thinking

On Sunday the Heavens parted.

Last Sunday’s (May 28th) super-torrential drenching reminded me of a sudden Illinois late Spring deluge that ends almost as soon as it began, but leaving corn and soybean fields underwater. I was at Harwood Park helping volunteers on a construction project, when the storm began around 1:30 p.m., lasting about 45 minutes. Oldtimers said they had never experienced anything similar previously. Retired CALFIRE Captain Vic Weaver commented, “That was a real gully-washer. Never seen anything like that before.”

An upper low brought the unexpected event that included thunder and lightening. The cascading rain dumped 1.10 inches on the floor of Long Valley, 1.77 inches five miles north of town, and over two inches up in the mountains. Monday afternoon brought a bit more precipitation, a little less than tenth of an inch, thus pushing our season precip total to 63.36 inches compared to the historic norm of 66.31 inches. All is well on the water and weather fronts in the north county with summer just around the corner.

Gjerde, Haschak Oppose Funding To Tourism Board.

At the Board of Supervisors final meeting in May, they took a quick look forward to this week’s budget hearings where a multi-million deficit looms in the 2023-24 budget. At the May 23rd session, Supervisors Dan Gjerde and John Haschak parted company with colleagues Glenn McGourty, Ted Williams, and Mo Mulheren, over a proposed funding request of $262,000 from Visit Mendocino, a tourism promotional group. The County is broke, seriously broke, so there’s no money available for numerous non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that over the years have received county funding for various and mostly good causes and needed services. I agree with Gjerde and Haschak on this issue because when times are tough and money is scarce or not to be found, then we all share in the fiscal misery.

Here’s Mark Scaramella’s thoughts on the problem:

The Supervisors engaged in another tedious discussion of the annual tourism subsidy, with Supervisor Dan Gjerde arguing against it saying “they don’t need it,” and “We need the money more than they do,” and, “There’s no fuel in our tank anymore,” noting that the promoters have more reserves (proportionately) than the County does. Supervisor Williams, of course, thinks that every nickel the County hands over to the tourism people translates directly into more revenue for the industry, more jobs, more tax revenue and other untold benefits and that the tourism industry is the only industry left in the County now that timber, fishing and pot have fallen off. Supervisor Haschak said he preferred to look at the ‘big picture’ of overall economic development, without mentioning any. Haschak said the Board should postpone the tourism handout until other (vague) economic development options are explored. When Gjerde suggested that the three supervisors who are enamored with the tourism subsidy find an equivalent sized cut elsewhere in the budget to pay for it, Supervisor Williams called Gjerde’s proposal a ‘gimmick.’ Again, this is the same Supervisor Williams who uses the exact same ‘gimmick’ against anything he personally opposes. As usual, Supervisors McGourty, and Mulheren supported the subsidy while conceding that the budget probably couldn’t cover it. There was some question about the amount, however. Until this year the tourism promoters have been able to rely on a whopping $600k from the County to add to their own advertising (in print and on-line) and wine/food writer give-aways. But even the promoters seem to understand the budget situation and have proposed increasing their own levy on themselves to reduce the County’s $600k to around $260k. At the end of the meeting, they left the question semi-open pending a self-promotional report from the promoters early this month which the promoters say demonstrates how great their advertising spending is.”

Be Careful What You Wish For…

Minnesota Governor signs Cannabis Legalization Bill

Well, I don’t have tell people in Mendocino County — or Californians for that matter — but folks in the Land of 10,000 Lakes most likely are going to be sorry, as in big time remorseful, just like everybody else in the other 22 pot legal states. Legalization hasn’t worked anywhere.

This week, Minnesota’s Democratic Governor Tim Walz signed a cannabis legalization bill into law, making the state the 23rd to legalize weed for recreational use starting Aug. 1. It contains a regulatory scheme for a legal weed market, including a 10% sales tax, the establishment of an Office of Cannabis Management for regulation and enforcement purposes, and allows people to legally use, possess and grow cannabis The new law is Minnesota’s version of California’s Prop 64 that saw voters, according to the late-great Prop 215 Godfather, Denis Peron “sell out their asses for an ounce of weed and six plants.”

Good luck, Minnesota, but you should have asked Mendo growers how many of them wish those helicopters were still up there flying around. Those choppers were emblematic of the most successful farm subsidy program ever implemented — and California voters and Sacramento politicians deep-sixed it, replacing it with wrecked rural economies.

(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher,, the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District, and is also chairman of the Laytonville Area Municipal Advisory Council. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live:

One Comment

  1. Jetfuel June 9, 2023

    Mostly unknown to the constituents who voted him in, Supervisor Williams currently enjoys a very cozy relationship with the coastal ruling class of hoteliers and landed royals who make up the Visit Mendocino group! A sort of financial protectionist racket for coast dems and a few select families.

    Honestly a ridiculous situation here once again in the dysfunctional Fifth District where the remenants of hard working fishermen, farmers, millworkers and logging families have had to endure the likes of Colfax along with Smith morph into a Williams&Gjerde do nothing, county resource sink hole.

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