STANDARD & POOR’S (S&P), one of the three premier credit ratings agencies in the United States, announced a major upgrade of Mendocino County’s credit rating from BBB to AA-. S&P conducts an annual evaluation of local governments on behalf of bondholders and other investors using the County’s publicly available audit documents. S&P cited several positive developments that it has been monitoring: Marked improvement in county operations and fund balance; Reduced debt levels in Teeter Plan; Increased budgetary flexibility; No plans to issue additional debt; Very strong budgetary performance.
S&P’s report was generally positive on the County’s outlook, saying that the “County’s recent history of general fund imbalances [is] offset by projections of improvements [in the coming years].” S&P cited Mendocino County’s “adequate” economy as an additional plus, despite noting the 9.7% unemployment level. S&P went on to further state that they expect no changes to the rating over the next two years as they anticipate “the County will maintain its strong budgetary flexibility with balanced operations.”
“This is an affirmation of the Board of Supervisors’ policies and direction and determination to reform and improve the County’s financial systems and trajectory,” stated Kyle Knopp, Assistant CEO. Knopp also cited a series of difficult decisions the Board made over the last three years pertaining to employee compensation, layoffs, administrative restructuring, and consolidation of work spaces and departments. “It was action on multiple fronts that brings us this credit upgrade in 2013.” “This improved credit rating is also the result of the sacrifice and hard work of our employees,” stated Board Chairman, Dan Hamburg. “The County’s improved financial stability is a big step forward in being able to reinvest in our workforce in a sustainable manner.”
(Press Release from Carmel J. Angelo, Mendocino County Chief Executive Officer)
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WHICH MAKES US THINK that Mendo’s “leadership team” is looking over their shoulder at the big credit rating agencies in making all their major budget decisions.
ARNO GASSEN, long-time county janitorial employee, declared his candidacy for Third District Supervisor on his facebook page yesterday. “I am very tired of what is going on now,” said Gassen. “I planned to retire in March but my fellow brothers and sisters taught me that they need somebody to believe in their cause. So I am tossing in my hat and running for Board of Supervisor in place of John Pinches. I hope that my Union Brothers and Sisters will support me in this. … It’s pretty sad when I take home $8.50 an hour, nowhere near $16 an hour. With that I have to pay house payments, and pay taxes on my home. I could work at Walmart and make more money. It’s the Employers Council that is trying to drive our wages down. They [the County] have the money to reinstate our 10% and are still lying about the budget. When I was on the negotiating team five years ago I asked Dennis Huey when was the last time you wrote a legit budget? He told me it’s been 25 years since he wrote a true budget. We need to stand together and educate the public on this problem. The public believes that the county is broke. We need to show them otherwise.”
FORMER COUNTY UNION REP and former Supervisorial candidate Joe Louis Wildman, responded, “Folks, This will probably not be popular, but the county is not rolling in dough. That being said, the resources they have are being squandered. In tough times, you need to treat your workers well. You need to be respectful and stop adding insults to injury. They [the County] insist on being dishonest, secretive, and rude in every dealing. They need to open the books. Folks would see, they aren't rolling in dough. They don't do it because heaps of poor choices and incompetence would be revealed. Not enough to find a decent raise, but enough to expose their unsuitability for their jobs.”
Gassen replied: “I think you have been listening to the CEO too much Joe. Open your ears and eyes. They have close to a $20 million dollar reserve. ”
Outspoken County Employee Helen Michael commented: “The Fitch Report verifies that reserve amount and it jives with the numbers the county itself provided to us. And that is how their credit rating has improved. It’s not numbers we just pull out of thin air. ”
KZYX-PHILO, which amazingly still calls itself a “community” radio station even though only about 1% of their total on-air time is remotely about local public affairs, released the agenda for their upcoming Board meeting on October 7 in Boonville at the Career Center Room at Anderson Valley High School this week. The Career Center is a fairly small room so the station’s execs presumably expect (hope for?) a light turnout. According to the agenda introduction, KZYX’s “programming and operational philosophy is controlled by its membership, which is open to all. Through its dedication to balanced, excellent programming, Mendocino County Public Broadcasting reflects the rich diversity of the county, while promoting a sense of community across a large and varied area. The finest in national public radio programs is made available, as well as local programs that are creatively and professionally produced, responding to the needs of the community.”
WE’LL LET YOU be the judge of whether KZYX’s programming is “controlled by its membership,” or “balanced” or “responds to the needs of the community.” (We see no evidence of any of that.)
AND IF KZYX’s “national public radio programs” are the “finest available” we’re in worse shape than we thought.
THE AGENDA goes on to delusionally declare, “KZYX pledges to be a responsible and responsive countywide medium for news, information, music, performing arts, entertainment, and local features. KZYX&Z sees its programming as a complement to the work of Mendocino's commercial media. The station seeks to foster increased communication among all groups in the county and makes access available to all points of view.”
THE AGENDA is as devoid of content or topics of discussion as their programming is. In real agendas you expect to see specific items to be proposed, discussed and voted on, etc. But all the KZYX agenda has is a cryptic, meaningless list: “welcome,” “check-in,” “approval of minutes,” “public comment limited to 3 minutes per person,” “General Manager’s report,” “Fall Pledge Drive,” “Community Advisory Board,” “Tabling/Community Outreach,” and “New Business,” none of which is mentioned.
CALTRANS IS SHUTTING DOWN BYPASS CONSTRUCTION for the winter, according to a report by Linda Williams in the Wednesday Willits News. Caltrans has until October 15 to button up work in or near Little Lake Valley’s many creeks with rip-rap and netting in the hope of preventing erosion over the winter. Caltrans has also put tree trunks and root balls from the many trees they previously cut down during construction in an attempt to provide winter run fish habitat. Anyone who’s seen these stabilization techniques attempted on any of Mendo’s creeks and rivers in the past knows that they only work — if they work at all — if the winter rains are light.
WONDERING if our Congressman is taking his paycheck while government is shut down? Of the NorCal delegation, only George Miller said he would accept pay. Boxer claimed she'll donate “much of her salary to charity.” (She's a millionaire many times over.) Multi-millionaire Senator Diane Feinstein said she was putting her paychecks in an escrow account. (!) Jared Huffman, like the rest of them apart from Eric Swalwell (D-Alameda), “Did not respond” to inquiries as to whether or not they'd take their pay. Swalwell said he would not take any pay until the shutdown ends.
THE HUMBOLDT EDGE: First edition homeless news hits the streets. — The first issue of “The Humboldt Edge”, a newspaper produced with the assistance of Humboldt’s homeless, comes out this Saturday, October fifth. Issues will be handed out at farmer’s markets, available in agencies such as Family Resource Centers, and placed in local shops and cafes as permission and interest is gained. The paper’s mission is to honor and invite the wisdom, knowledge and creative expression of people living on the street, experiencing homelessness and/or living on the edge economically. By empowering and educating both contributors and readers, the production and distribution of this monthly paper serves to counter the marginalization, stigmatization and silencing of people in poverty. Diverse perspectives and lives that are systematically pushed to the “Edge” are brought to the center as a means of stimulating survival, dignity, dialogue, understanding, justice and action. Inspired by other street papers such as the San Francisco ‘Street Sheet’ and Sacramento’s ‘Homeward’, The Humboldt Edge has been birthed from four months of conversations, meetings, writing, editing and revising with dozens of local houseless people. The paper’s name emerged out of a creative process of surveying over 50 people living on the edge about what name they felt would best represent them. The Humboldt Edge’s multiple meanings and connotations was the clear choice for everyone from teens to seniors. More than twenty-five homeless or recently housed people have attended and contributed to planning meetings over the past couple of month. Because being homeless is such an unstable and unpredictable situation, weekly planning meetings are held with whoever can attend and decisions about layout and content are made by whatever voices were able to be at the table on a given day. Some days there were ten people at planning meetings, some there were four. The first edition contains the voices of thirteen local homeless and recently housed people, alongside one informational news article about The Homeless Bill of Rights and Fairness Act (AB5) that is currently under consideration in the CA State Senate. The Humboldt Edge includes a diversity of voices in the form of articles, personal stories, art, cartoons, and poetry. Topics range from dehumanization, crimes and harassment against the homeless to the need for a permanent campground, safe spaces to lock up valuables and more available showers. Some authors speak of their personal experiences: how becoming homeless radically changed their perspective or about a journey out of addiction and into a spiritually grounded life. What is resoundingly clear from all of the voices is the stigma and struggle of being homeless and the desire to treated with respect and an opportunity to better their circumstances. Based on the response of homeless people it is clear that there is a need and desire for this project. The homeless reporters are very grateful for a place to have a voice; and many people in the community have responded with thanks and excitement at the prospect of the Humboldt Edge. The next edition is planned for December. In addition to more articles and submissions, the Humboldt Edge is looking at ways to become a permanent and sustainable paper. This will include the need for more volunteer support with layout, editing and fundraising. Editor and publisher Lorena Boswell, a Humboldt County resident and second year Masters of Divinity student of Starr King School of the Ministry, secured funds for piloting this paper as a recipient of the Jonathan Daniels Fellowship for seminarian students seeking to strengthen their theological education through participation in a social movement concerned with important social need. The funds are enough to produce and print at two or three editions of the paper. For more information on the fellowship visit: http://www.eds.edu/news/danielsfellowship2013 Any business interested in helping distribute the Humboldt Edge at their establishment, please contact the paper to arrange for free delivery of copies of this edition. For more information about the Humboldt Edge: humboldtedge.wordpress.com, email@example.com, 707-273-7704, POB 162, Arcata, CA 95518 — Lorena Boswell
MENDOCINO COUNTY CELEBRATES AMERICAN CRAFT WEEK October 4-13, 3013 Anderson Valley will be joining the countywide celebration of American Craft Week with events happening on the weekend of October 12-13. Events throughout the valley are: The Pot Shop, Philo, invites you to come and try your hand at flower arranging in one of Alexis Moyer’s hand made vases from 11 to 4 on Saturday, October 12th. Marvin & Colleen Schenks’s Barn Studio, Philo, will be featuring Colleen’s metalsmithing and jewelry, folk art furniture by Nancy MacLeod and Bill Allen and paintings by Marvin Schenck with ongoing demonstrations throughout the weekend. Tom McFadden, Boonville, will have his woodworking studio open all weekend for you to come and see his beautiful handmade furniture Handley Cellars, Philo, will be hosting Kirsten Robbe with her beautiful beaded jewelry. Garden Whimsy, Boonville, will be open with garden sculpture and a 10am garden tour on Sunday October 13th. Rookie-to-Gallery, Boonville, will be featuring Sony Hatcher’s silk scarves with Sony on hand to tell you about her work. Bink Wines, Philo, will be hosting Debra Lennox who will be demonstrating woodblock printing on Saturday October 12th. We hope you will join in the celebration of local handmade crafts. For a complete listing of events happening throughout the week visit http://www.visitmendocino.com/AmericanCraftWeek or pick up a brochure at any of the participating locations.
Contact: Alexis Moyer, The Pot Shop (firstname.lastname@example.org. 707 895-2810.)
CALL FOR FAVORITE POEM SUBMISSIONS
Poet Laureate Committee of Ukiah
October 18 deadline, Ukiah Branch Library
Information: 707.367.6581 or email@example.com
October 18 is the submission deadline for the Favorite Poem Project sponsored by the Poet Laureate Committee of Ukiah. This year there are two categories – one for students in grades K-8 and one for high school students and adults. To qualify for consideration, the poem must be written by an author other than you or someone whom you know. Selected poetry will be shared in a public reading on November 9 at the Ukiah Library. Guidelines and submission forms can be picked up at the Ukiah Library, 105 N. Main St., Ukiah, 95482. Email submissions should include the poem pasted into the body of the email along with name, age, address, and phone number. Send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
THERE HAS BEEN A MASSIVE TRANSFER OF WEALTH upwards from homeowners and workers to the richest 1%. Do you think it was an accident? Join us on Friday, October 18, 2013 at the Mendocino Environmental Center at 106 W. Standley Street, Ukiah at 7pm to see a remarkably balanced and even-toned exposé of the underhanded meddling by big banks that continue even now to transfer wealth upward to the 1%. The 76 minute documentary film Heist: Who Stole the American Dream? And How We Can Get It Back lays out the insidious history of how the banking industry planned out and executed a long term strategy that continues unchecked today! The collapse of the U.S. economy is the result of conscious choices made over forty years by corporate leaders, their politicians, and the biggest lobbyists in Washington. To them, the economic collapse is not a catastrophe but an opportunity to reverse FDR's New Deal and dismantle the social safety net. This has been their agenda for many decades. For the rest of us, it is merely the biggest heist in American history! Co-Director, Donald Goldmacher, will join us after the screening for Q&A. Also, more information about our proposed county charter authorizing a county public bank as one way we can curb the heist on a local level. For more information: Find Move to Amend - Ukiah on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Move-to-Amend-Ukiah Or on our website http://movetoamend.org/ca-ukiah. Robin Sunbeam, 707-467-3934. Move to Amend – Ukiah
HALLOWEEN PARTY — Attention all Zombie lovers and Halloween enthusiasts. The Active 20-30 Club of Ukiah is happy to announce a Zombie themed Halloween Party. October 26th at the Landmark Room at the Discovery Inn. 21 and up will have a great night filled with music and a light show by DJ Ryan of Tah Dah Productions. Costume Contests with cash prizes. Drink Specials! Join us October 26th at 8pm, 1340 North State Street in Ukiah. Stay at the Discovery Inn on the 26th and receive two free tickets to the Halloween Party call 707-391-3664 for details. $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Presale tickets available at JLB,101 North State Street in Ukiah. Active 20-30 is a service club for men and women in their 20s and 30s that focuses on leadership through service to children. The club is also a socializing outlet for young adults looking to network and have fun. If helping children succeed and working with passionate, community-minded people excites you, call 707-462-6636, email: email@example.com or find us on Facebook. Active 20-30 Club of Ukiah #78. PO Box 631. Ukiah CA 95482. 707-462-6636
ENVIRONMENTAL WATER CAUCUS: SHASTA RESERVOIR STUDY IS A SHAM
by Dan Bacher
The US Bureau of Reclamation recently published the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for a controversial plan to increase the storage capacity of Shasta Reservoir on the Sacramento River by raising the dam height 18.5 feet, a project strongly opposed by the Winnemem Wintu Tribe and conservation groups.
The Bureau claims the primary purposes of the project are to “increase survival of anadromous fish populations in the upper Sacramento River” and “increase water supply and water supply reliability for agricultural, municipal and industrial, and environmental purposes.”
Bureau spokesman Michelle Denning and other agency officials claimed, in a public meeting in Redding on July 16, that the plan, the “Shasta Lake Water Resources Investigation,” would improve the “operational flexibility” of the Delta watershed and increase the survival of salmon and other fish in the Sacramento River by increasing the amount of cold water pool available to be released to improve downstream temperature conditions for fish during critical periods.
Other “benefits” touted in the power point presentation include increased flood protection, providing additional hydropower supplies, and “improving water quality” in the Sacramento River and the Delta.
A broad coalition, including the Winnemem Wintu and other Tribes, business owners, fishing groups and environmental organizations, opposes the plan, due to the catastrophic impacts the project poses to salmon and steelhead populations and many of the remaining sacred sites of the Winnemem not already inundated by Shasta Dam. They disagree strongly with the Bureau's contention that the dam raise will “increase survival of anadromous fish populations and “increase water supply and water supply reliability.”
The California Environmental Water Caucus (EWC) describes the project as “a waste of the $1.2 billion cost, providing little additional water yield for an exorbitant price tag and which would be a travesty for American taxpayers,” in a statement released on September 30, the final day for public comments on the document.
“In addition, the claimed beneficial effect on salmon populations is illusionary and amounts to an attempt to shift part of the cost burden ($654 million) to the public instead of having the real beneficiaries pay for their water supply,” according to Tom Stokely of the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN)
Stokely said, “The stated purpose of enlarging Shasta Dam is to meet the two primary project objectives of increasing water supply for Central Valley agriculture and to increase the survival of Sacramento River anadromous fish populations.The claimed benefits to salmon allow two thirds of the project cost to be shifted to taxpayers and away from the true beneficiaries – the Central Valley farming corporations. However, the favored alternative is based on inflated and illusory benefits for natural salmon production and it will not increase survival of anadromous fish in any substantial way.”
While the preferred alternative will increase storage capacity by more than 600,000 acre feet (compared to the present capacity of 4.5 million acre feet), the average supply yield will be only 47,300 acre feet; a very poor return for more than a billion dollar investment of public funds, noted Stokely.
“This project is a sham foisted once again upon the taxpayers of the United States to have them pay for the dam enlargement while the beneficiaries do not pay their share.The allocation of $654.9 million in costs on the public because of claimed fishery benefits is a hoax,” he emphasized.
Steve Evans of Friends of the River pointed out, “federal law clearly requires consideration of Wild & Scenic protection for the McCloud River as an alternative to the proposed dam raise and reservoir enlargement; it is also required for the upper Sacramento and Pit Rivers and all other streams on public lands tributary to Shasta Reservoir. No such assessment of Wild & Scenic Rivers is provided in the DEIS.”
Evans said raising Shasta by 6.5-18.5 feet will flood from 1,470 feet to 3,550 feet of the segment of the McCloud River eligible for National Wild & Scenic River protection.The DEIS also admits that this flooding will adversely affect the McCloud’s free flowing character, water quality, and outstandingly remarkable Native American cultural, wild trout fishery, and scenic values.
The raising of Shasta Dam is a threat to the very existence of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe and the ability to bring back the salmon and a way of life that the Creator gave to the Tribe. The Winnemem Wintu’s efforts are about preserving a beautiful natural world, with abundant salmon, clean water, and ecologically healthy and diverse forests, that has been and continues to be flooded, logged, cut up by roads, mined, subdivided, sold, and destroyed acre by precious acre.
“The DEIS fails to assess and acknowledge the full scope of the devastating and irreparable impacts this Project would have on the Winnemem Wintu Tribe,” stated Colin Bailey, Executive Director of the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water.
The coalition said these findings also strongly suggest that were an honest and adequate Benefit-Cost Analysis performed on this proposed project, its ratio of benefits to costs would not be adequate to justify the project.
Nick Di Croce, from the Environmental Water Caucus, urges the Bureau to “perform an honest Benefit-Cost Analysis for the project and look toward more cost effective alternatives such as water conservation and recycling, the retirement of drainage-problem lands, reoperation of Shasta Dam and Reservoir, and a host of projects recommended by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the public which were not considered or rejected due to Reclamation’s bias toward justifying an enlarged Shasta Dam.”
Di Croce requested that the Bureau “abandon this ill-conceived project and save the dollars, the environmental damage, and the affront to Native American interests that this project would generate if pursued by the Bureau.”
The dam raise is planned in tandem with Governor Jerry Brown's Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build twin tunnels to facilitate the export of huge quantities of Sacramento River water to subsidized agribusiness corporations that irrigate selenium-laced, drainage impaired land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. The construction of the peripheral tunnels will not only drive Sacramento River Chinook salmon and steelhead, Delta smelt, longfin smelt and green sturgeon over the abyss of extinction, but will imperil salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers.
The massive opposition to the dam raise plan was evidenced by the 2,132 signatures that the Winnemem Wintu's petition against the dam raise gathered. (http://www.credomobilize.com/petitions/stop-the-raise-of-shasta-dam-support-the-winnemem-wintu?sp_ref=11569539.4.698.f.0.2&source=fb_share_sp)
Over 30 people, including members of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, Hoopa Valley Tribe and their allies, protested government plans to raise Shasta Dam and build the peripheral tunnels under the Delta in front of the Visitors Center at the dam on Saturday, September 21, 2013.The protest was held as part of series of events, including several film showings, to counter the Bureau of Reclamation’s 75th anniversary celebration of Shasta Dam the week of September 15-22. (http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/09/27/idle-no-more-protest-at-shasta-dam, http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/09/26/18743827.php)
Winnemem Wintu Chief Caleen Sisk emphasized that the loss of salmon that would result from the raising of Shasta Dam and the construction of the twin tunnels would be a huge catastrophe for fish, people and the planet. “Who will turn over the rocks in the river when the salmon are gone? Who will provide the nutrients to the ecosystem? Without the salmon, there will be a major disaster,” she said.
For more information, go to: http://www.ewccalifornia.org/releases/prshastadeis.pdf