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Off the Record (January 11, 2024)

THIS ANNUAL FRAUD is about to commence: Mendocino County Homeless Services Continuum of Care (MCHSCoC) will be conducting its annual unsheltered Point-In-Time (PIT) Count which will be held on the morning of Wednesday, January 24, 2024. 

(THERE GOES ONE, DEBBIE! Oops, no. That's Craig Stehr, post modern troubadour.)

THE POINT IN TIME (PIT) Count is mandated by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and is used by the State of California and multiple Federal Departments to calculate allocations of homeless services funding. The data received through the PIT Count will help our local community to identify needs and develop planning to engage and support those persons experiencing homelessness throughout Mendocino County.

CAN YOU EVEN IMAGINE a looser funding method? 


“Point-in-Time Count (PITC) data is inflated.

”The Point-in-Time-Count (PITC) was developed by HUD with the hope of ascertaining the number of families and individuals experiencing homelessness within a community. Unfortunately, for a variety of methodological reasons, PITCs across the USA are often very inaccurate and vary widely in methodological rigor. This is a national challenge and many communities across the USA are struggling with this issue. Mendocino County’s experience with this issue is thus not unique. Nationally, HUD has realized the weaknesses of PITC and has stated that it would like to move from using PITC data to using Coordinated Entry and Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) data (thus the new Federal mandate for having a coordinated entry system with HMIS tracking).

”When PITCs are “incentivized” around the USA, like the giving out of grocery cards in exchange for participation, there is often over-counting. In some cases, individuals change their name and information so they can receive another incentive. In other cases, volunteers give out more than one incentive to an individual or pocket the incentive thus inflating the numbers. Additional problems occur when volunteers count vehicles and building structures, and then apply nonscientific multipliers instead of counting actual people. These inflationary multipliers are often based on assumptions and not on rigorous data modeling. When it comes to counting within encampments, the numbers are often highly inflated since “recent activity or presence of individuals” is often counted rather than counting actual observed individuals. Furthermore, because of weather and police activities, people often move between encampment sites which often means an individual’s “activity” ends up being counted multiple times at multiple sites rather than only once at the site where they are actually currently living. Additionally, extreme good or bad weather on the day of the count can increase or decrease the number of volunteer counters thus affecting the overall efficacy of the count. Weather can also change the patterns of individuals experiencing homelessness. Finally, when the count time is extended past a 24-hour period, individuals are sometimes counted more than once at different locations.”

JOHN McCURDY, a great basketball player who still holds his own and then some in national senior hoops tournaments, once worked for the old Union Lumber Company in Fort Bragg. John passed this way just last month, and this is what he saw in FB: “Fort Bragg has three stop lights. It had none when I lived there. Looked at the motel owned by Affinito. Typical builder, violate the law because the government will relent. That motel sure took a lovely view away. Stopped in Fort Bragg and the old company store building. When I first went to work for Union Lumber I had to charge everything at the company store until I got a paycheck. They would deduct your store purchases from your check. I don’t remember how long it took me to get a full paycheck, but I would say at least three months. The Tennessee Ernie Ford song lyric ‘I owe my soul to the company store’ still rings in my ears now and then.” 

MIKE GENIELLA: Redwoods, People, And What Happened When The Junk Bond Kinds Arrived. 

During the so-called Redwood Timber Wars three decades or more ago, I spent a lot of time in Scotia talking to Pacific Lumber Co. executives doing the bidding of a Texas corporate takeover artist. I drank beer with workers after hours at the local bar. During tumultuous environmental protests where demonstrators chained their arms inside steel pipes, and endured pepper spray. I witnessed noisy clashes in front of the company's Scotia headquarters and Headwaters protests along a highway that attracted hundreds of people including singer Bonnie Raitt.

In the quiet times, I feasted on great deli sandwiches from Hoby's, the town's market, and sat on park benches taking a long look at life in Scotia

This update (link below) was good. I know some of the people cited in the New Yorker article, including Mary Bullwinkle. In my time, she had the unenviable job of being PL's spokeswoman. We became friends over time and had lots of good times with others at the historic Eureka Inn, the center of things in that era. 

I don't know how I feel about today's Scotia, nor do I understand the prospects of it being able to provide anything resembling life, security, and happiness when it was a true company town. Charles Hurwitz dashed any hopes for that kind of future.

If columnist Gaye LeBaron was still writing her spot on North Coast histories, she would write about Scotia. She was born in the old hospital there.

SPOTTED in a coupla winery locations in the Anderson Valley, “Cline for Supervisor” campaign signs, meaning the Mendo wine lobby is behind Madeline in the crowded race for 1st District supervisor.

THE OTHER CANDIDATES vying for the 1st District seat — Redwood and Potter valleys, basically — include Adam Gaska, Carrie Shattuck and Trevor Mockel.

THE RACE is a puzzler. Each candidate seems to have a strong core of support, with Mockel, supported by the fading Democratic Party apparatus, seeming to be running last and vying with Cline for the same Farm Bureau and Biden-brained Democrat constituencies. (The county's Biden-brains are pretty much confined to the upper Mendocino Coast — Albion through Mendocino — and Ukiah Westside, with a fairly large slug of the sad dunces in, I'm afraid, the Anderson Valley.)

CARRIE SHATTUCK would seem to have strong support from inland Trumpers and random voters who appreciate her for both her muted ferocity and her thorough understanding of county functioning.

ADAM GASKA similarly understands how the county works or doesn't work at its power slots. If sincerity and non-cliched plain talk were the primary values of 1st District voters, Gaska, a working farmer, and Shattuck would be favorites with the smart, articulate Cline right up there with them.

IN THE 4TH DISTRICT, Fort Bragg Mayor Bernie Norvell and Georgina Avila-Gorman are the two candidates to succeed Dan Gjerde, who checked out of full participation at the beginning of his final term in office, mailing it in so to speak, present but zoned out.

NORVELL, knowledgeable and having compiled an impressive record as mayor of Fort Bragg in that he, in tandem with FBPD Chief Cervenka, have managed to efficiently and humanely reduce the town's homeless population by re-uniting some with their far flung families, getting another bunch into treatment and permanent housing, and by keeping close count of the intractables by keeping them from ruining public spaces. (Ukiah should be so fortunate to have a Fort Bragg homeless strategy.)

NORVELL'S opponent is Georgina Avila-Gorman, realtor and a political newcomer about whom we know double-nought. (Please call us, Georgina. We want to meet you.)

IN THE 2ND DISTRICT, Incumbent Mo Mulheren is opposed by Marine Corps veteran, Jacob Brown. Mulheren is a nice person wayyyyy over her head as a supervisor as having been one-fifth of the weakest, least effective board of supervisors in the history of Mendocino County, and we've survived some doozies in this a-historical place seemingly inhabited by an adult population of amnesiacs. Political newcomer Brown is a no-nonsense dude who deserves a shot at the job if for no other reason than he's stepped up, perhaps out of alarm at the dysfunction he sees. Ukiah being the kind of place where a large swathe of its population has never intellectually left high school, Mulheren, pom-poms to the fore, will be hard to dislodge, but Brown, a combat veteran, won't be running from the outback political battles he'll face if elected.

MARK SCARAMELLA NOTES: Madeline Cline is a non-practicing lawyer with a law degree from Hastings. She previously worked for a time for Liebert Cassidy Whitmore, the law firm that Mendo uses from lots of outside law cases.

We don’t see any specific wine industry connections in Ms. Cline’s on-line background. She claims to have worked “in the assembly” in some unspecified public policy capacity. (Policies not mentioned.) 

However from her candidacy announcement we see clues and hints of wine industry connections: “A professional public policy advocate, Cline assists the business and farming community as they navigate the local policy making process.”

“…the farming community” is local code for the wine industry. Real farmers don’t use and can’t afford lobbyists.

And, “Madeline spends her free time volunteering and staying active in the community. This year (2023), she was appointed by Supervisor Glenn McGourty to the Mendocino County Fish and Game Commission.” A McGourty-ite, therefore a wine friendly candidate. But, wait a minute: McGourty is already on record “endorsing” Trevor Mockel because, according to McGourty, Trevor Mockel told McGourty that he has never received a speeding ticket and “has no dark secrets that [McGourty] should know about. No illegitimate children, no scorned women, drunken brawls with local police, etc.” Oh dear. Did McGourty jump the endorsement gun?

ATTENTION EYSTER. ‘Shannon sez’: One of the basic tenets of Ethics training, (required of all public officials under AB 1234) is that public officials shall “Avoid any actions that would cause the public to question whether your decisions are based on personal interests instead of the public’s interests.”
More excerpts from this required training for public officials:
“In short, public service ethics is not only about doing the right thing, but also about the public’s confidence that indeed the right thing has been done. Public servants must maintain a high standard of ethical conduct that promotes public confidence that public officials’ actions are motivated solely by the public’s interests.”
“Ask yourself whether your constituents will reasonably question your ability to put your personal interests and relationships aside and put their, the public’s, interests first. You can decide to voluntarily abstain if you are concerned that your constituents would reasonably question whether you should be involved in the decision-making process. Remember the law is a floor, not a ceiling, for public service ethics.”
I guess DA Eyster needs to review his basic ethics training as there is undoubtedly a public perception that the DA is not a disinterested party in the Cubbison legal battle. Why not have someone else prosecute this case? Eyster’s participation looks and smells bad under ethics rules.

I LIKED this comment on celebrity from Diana Cooper of Kentfield in a recent edition of the Pacific Sun: “May I remind Mike Thomas of ‘Overheard’ who is still puffed up with excitement over a centuries-old chance meeting with Jerry Garcia (Mike, have you washed your hands yet?) that in this country all men are created equal. It is a tragic aspect of the modern era that a chosen elite (i.e., celebrities) thrust themselves into the spotlight at the expense of others. While our eyes are riveted to the TV set on overexposed talents, there are quieter and stiller waters around us that merit deeper examination. Actually, Jerry Garcia always seemed like a jerk to me, but since he was a celebrity, most people will see more where there could very well be less. It reminds me of Henry Kissinger’s famous words: ‘The nice thing about being a celebrity is that when you bore people, they think it’s their fault’.”

THE MISSUS buys all my clothes at Goodwill. You can tell? You like spending $40 for a shirt, $50 for trousers when you can get a perfectly serviceable garment at Goodwill or kindred thrift store for $7 and $10? Anyway, the other day she picked me up a pair of trousers in the front pocket of which was a pass issued to Frank Blackmon of the defunct SF Examiner by Stanford University to all its sporting events. Nice trousers too. (The distinction between trousers and pants was a hard-learned one in Marine boot camp. Men wear trousers, women pants, you see, and not to know the difference in 1957 in that particular place, got the dunce somewhere between 30 and 40 knowledge knocks, repeated knuckle raps to the forehead until a lump the size of a goose egg appeared into whose newly created space the new information could be stored.) So I put on my new pants and went for a walk on the mean streets of San Anselmo, oblivious that the fly on the thrift store trousers had flown. I wondered as I walked why a few people smirked as I passed. But it wasn’t until I was deep in the library that I learned the terrible reason for my new popularity. To avoid being seen on my return trip I had to stick to the less-traveled streets, pausing to pretend to be studying a plant or building with my body turned to shield my shame from approaching pedestrians. Goodwill or good riddance? Sometimes it’s a close call.

LAKE COUNTY has never been considered anything like a center of forward-looking public policy, but Lake officials long ago instituted EIRs for large-scale vineyards Lake described as “a focused environmental impact report.” The Press Democrat editorially sneered at Lake’s new policy, claiming against all the visible evidence that vineyards don’t really need EIRs because there aren’t that many of them and they aren’t all that intrusive. 

IN ANDERSON VALLEY, where destructive wine businesses have reorganized the landscape, there is no real control on what landowners can do to not only their own fouled acres but to nearby streams and their chemically-captive neighbors as well. Regulation of the wine industry remains off Mendocino County’s official agenda as great swathes of Anderson Valley’s and Mendocino County’s natural world are destroyed by the booze biz. 

MEASURE B MONEY ought to go to the expansion of the County Jail for a dedicated psychiatric unit. The Sheriff, and the county’s police departments, already do the heavy mental health lifting. The Sheriff, of necessity, and for many years, already maintains a unit housing the mentally ill and “vulnerable” inmates, often one and the same. The present mental health unit, however, is simply a section of the jail not designed to treat the mentally ill but simply protect them from the wolves. 

A SPECIALLY DESIGNED new unit at the jail site, funded by Measure B before it’s frittered away on overpriced buildings and vague programs benefiting only the people who run them, would fulfill the promise made to the voters that the money would go to getting the intractables off the streets, i.e., the people untreated now because the existing mental health apparatuses can’t get paid to treat them, and even if the intractables were “reimburseable” they can’t be treated in open settings. They gotta be locked in. Obviously.

AS WE KNOW, many homeless people are drug and/or alcohol dependent. They require much more than a roof over their heads. The only sensible local solution to the drug and alcohol dependent homeless is an expansion of the County Jail to include a locked treatment center. Homeless persons who are homeless because they can’t find affordable shelter are already regularly placed by the Social Services Department, at public expense, in motels or really are found permanent housing. 

IF MENDOCINO COUNTY, as public policy, invested its large employee retirement fund in local affordable housing, for instance, instead of in distant money markets whose proprietors take a big slice for themselves well, hell, we might actually do something progressive rather than prattle constantly about how progressive we are. 

IF THE DRUG corporations and their allies in the “helping professions” hadn’t helped the Reagan-ites close down California’s state hospital system there wouldn’t be a homeless problem. But as our society continues to implode, homelessness is only one of many rolling, unaddressed catastrophes and Mendo, for once, ought to get ahead of doing something specifically helpful to both the walking wounded and the public. 

BOTTOM LINE? Persons unable or unwilling to care for themselves should be removed from the streets and sheltered in locked facilities until they’re well again. Our over-large population of crackpot therapists should not be in charge of any new lock-up psychiatric program. Let the Sheriff do it. He’s not only a far more competent person than the typical “helping professional,” he’s a much more humane person.

ENJOYED a visit to Covelo a couple of weeks ago, making the trek via Laytonville over the old Dos Rios Road. For my mortgage, the area northeast of Willits is the most beautiful in the County, much of it still wild, people included, and all of it rugged featuring the most vigorous runs of the Eel through mountainous terrain, deep gorges, and snow at the higher elevations until May.

IF I'D HAD the imagination and a little cash back in 1970 I’d have settled somewhere in the hills above Covelo rather than where I did, not that there’s a thing wrong with Anderson Valley that Pierce’s Disease or a family of Glassy Wing Sharpshooters couldn't remedy. 

IT'S UNWISE to regret, they say, because once one gets started regretting one can soon find oneself sitting alone at a cleared table with a .38 in one’s mouth, trying to decide to pull the trigger or look for a career officeholder to off as a final community service. 

NOT BEING much of a one for looking back for fear of what I might see, I set forth for Covelo about 11am on a clear winter day and was soon gazing at the splendid vistas east of Laytonville, a homestead here and there in the distance. “Whoever those intrepid hill people are, they’ve got the right idea,” I thought. “Who needs pavement and crowds? More frantic and hectic by the day. Provocations raining down. Idiot entertainments. Days without the sight of an honest public face or an intelligent word. Get as far away as possible. Re-supply by airdrop.” 

WHAT A HISTORY this area has with perhaps the most murders per square mile than any place in the United States save the Civil War. The crimes committed against the native people as their land was stolen then defiled by a lawless mob of criminals, recreational killers, and misfits whose descendants still claim they found an empty land when they arrived. 

A LATE LUNCH by the side of the road near the high school consisted of the missus's specialty meatballs while I pretended not to see a couple of meatballs seeming to eyeball me with ill intent. My gat was tucked under my driver's seat where I always keep it when I venture into the Mendo outback, long ago having convinced myself I wasn't paranoid because I could refer psychiatrists to a file folder of confirmations. Maybe I should change my uniform. Blend in more. “Are you....?” Well, it depends, I say warily, never knowing for sure whether I’ll have to flee or fight.

THE DAY passed uneventfully. I thought about driving on up and over the Mendocino Pass to Willows, but instead drove north up the Mina Road, looking for the old ranch that had its family history posted on a tree near its gate. That was before L-P slaughtered the place back when the company's rapacious boss, Harry Merlo, had famously declared, “I want it all, and I want it all now,” or words to that ill intent. (Vivian Weatherhead, a retired math teacher, had retired to Boonville; she was born and raised in Mina, now abandoned, but at one time a functioning little community complete with its own post office. The county's vastness is replete with vanished settlements. Right here in the Anderson Valley there's Peachland and Hop Flat to name two.)

I WENT as far north as the three county convergence — Humboldt, Mendo and Trinity — and from where, on a clear day I once was able to see a fog bank over the Pacific. I've always wished a person more knowledgeable than me would offer tours of the eastern areas of the county, and urge every permanent resident to spend a couple of days exploring it. You really aren't fully Mendo-ized until you've been from Gualala to Covelo and all points in between.


[1] What is a country? It’s not a life form, it’s a made-up concept by some group of people. And I’m supposed to sacrifice the most precious gift that God has ever created, just because another person says to?

I’m willing to die to directly protect the people I love and that’s it. I’d bet God would approve. And I don’t want to hurt anyone.

This so-called ‘country idea’ consists of many, many persons who seem to hate a whole group of people with African ancestry, or those of a certain sex or sexual orientation, or those of a certain religion, or those born in another country, or those of certain political leanings, or those who need to take mind altering substances to cope with everyday living, or those who don’t have enough financial resources. And I’m supposed to die for them? No fucking way!

I’m not perfect – I don’t know if I’m a good person or suffer the same maladies as those I describe above.

[2] Amazing when the price of everything else is still through the roof!

Three bags of groceries yesterday cost me $150 dollars in Virginia of all places.

Two packages of ground turkey and no other meat and enough peanut butter to last a couple of days.

Happy Meal is still Up up Up Up from a couple of years ago and has not settled with the lowering of gas prices; why is that?

What was the price in 2000 $1.99? Now up to $8 bucks.

Diesel is still crazy expensive for it being the least processed form of fuel we put in a car.

Why do they keep changing the metrics for what they consider inflation indicators?

Inflation just 3%? We all know that is rubbish. Just simply go out and start buying anything.

[3] I earn my bowl of rice (not an iron rice bowl, by the way) by editing copy from fluent but not-quite-there non-native-speakers who write in English or translate into English. I am thus sensitized to misuse in a way that ordinary folks are not.

One contemporary peeve is the misuse of “forcefully” for “forcibly”. It happens so frequently in the media that it may eventually wear down the (conservative) opposition, the way that the loathed “orientate” is now considered acceptable usage.

I thought back to the 1950s, when the untouchable President Eisenhower aroused a swarm of disapproval from the grammarians for his use of “finalize”. I checked with Chat and sure enough:

“President Dwight D. Eisenhower was criticized for using the word ‘ ‘finalize’ in his speeches and writings. At the time, some critics felt that the word was not proper English and should not be used by the President of the United States. However, over time, the word has become more widely accepted and is now commonly used in everyday language.”

[4] Some people can get all those male and female elements removed though. And then I have heard that some former men are getting their penis all diced up and cut into an incision to make it look like they have a vagina. Some women have undergone reconstruction to pull out the inside lady parts and construct a penis.

This is all just so much insanity. The time and money involved in such an endeavor is ridiculous. But there you go, people have done this and they think they can play God with their bodies. Our society is sick and needs a major reboot.

[5] I go to a local gym daily to burn calories and try to fight back the ravages of old age. The gym is extremely crowded right now as all of the fatties have begun their new year’s resolutions. As usual, within two weeks these fatties will gradually disappear and the gym will return to moderate levels thus permitting we regulars the opportunity to use the weight machines again.

And yes, there are a lot of fatties in this Country. I wouldn’t blame it entirely on what people are eating. I blame it entirely on the fact that people eat way too much of it and spend the majority of their time sitting on their fat rumps watching the tee vee or eye-fone. I maintain my weight by just being cognizant of what I am shoving into my piehole and how many calories I burn.

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