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Off the Record 12/9/2009

THIS GUY SAID to me the other day, “You know what the problem is with this county?” Limo Libs running everything? I guessed. “Nope,” he said, “it's our government bringing in all these Mexicans and giving them Escalades.” I hadn't heard about Immigration's Escalade program, but I had just read the latest study by the Migration Policy Institute that found the net effect of illegal immigration contributed a nearly invisible 0.03 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product, with most of that money going to the people who employ illegals. The net cost of illegals to the economy was an equivalently minuscule 0.10 percent of GDP incurred via public ed and emergency health care. Illegal immigrants have a neutral effect on the overall economy.

CONGRESSMAN MIKE THOMPSON'S latest give away to the wine industry consists of conservation easements for vineyard owners, meaning the grape gang will get big tax breaks for doing what they're already doing, growing grapes. What exactly is conservationist about vineyards is not explained. Vineyards alter the landscape fundamentally if not irreversibly, deploring literally tons of chemicals as they go, but the conservation easements will, in theory, prevent vineyards from being converted to some other use, whatever it might be. Conservation easements, as you should know by now, are tax breaks to rich people for doing with their land what they're already doing with it.

NASH GONZALES, Planning and Building Department Director, reported to the board last week that there are several hundred unpermitted residential structures in the County. Gonzales said unpermitted buildings present not only health and safety problems they're unfair to legal builders. Worse, they aren't on the tax rolls producing revenue for free week-long trips for County bigwigs to Monterey, er, generating tax income for the County of Mendocino to do good things with. Gonzalez said that an amnesty program that would waive some fees and penalties could provide an incentive for individuals with unpermitted structures to get legal and get on the tax rolls. He proposes an amnesty window for applications submitted between January 1, 2010 through June 1, 2010 that would allow such property owners to voluntarily apply for permits without being assessed the so-called “Investigative Fee” typically charged on Building Permits when a violation is issued. The proposed amnesty would apply to only residential units and their associated structures — guest cottages, detached bedrooms, garages, single-room units, the backyard cell for grandma. The amnesty program would not apply to existing red tag cases, since the “investigative fee” would only be waived if an individual self reports and applies for the appropriate permits. Exactly how much money permit applicants may save by avoiding the “investigative fee” is not mentioned by Mr. Gonzalez, nor is the amount of new revenue that might be realized.

YO! NASH! Nobody's going to sign up for amnesty. People choose to elude Planning and Building because of your convoluted and often arbitrary processes. Me, for instance. Back when I was a property owner here in beautiful Boonville, I covered my entire half acre with structures, not one of which was cleared by you people. When I'd get caught for not having a building permit, and I always got caught, my property taxes would be bumped up but not bumped up much over what the fees would have been had I attempted to negotiate the process which, given the givens of my tiny parcel, would have been impossible to negotiate. You would have said No. So I went on building and getting caught because it was a lot simpler than endless trips to Ukiah to deal with you people.

THE SONOMA COUNTY supervisors have laid out $22,500 to send a half dozen of their bureaucrats to the global warming festivities in Copenhagen. Our supervisors, who probably think Copenhagen is a reference to chewing tobacco, send two of themselves and four bureaucrats to Monterey for a week of blah-blah and tax-paid donuts at a total cost of probably around $5,000, although the supervisors have declared a no travel edict. The mayor of San Francisco takes city cops with him wherever he goes, even to his wedding in Montana, where the cops also hauled an armored vehicle in case, I guess, a cowboy took a shot at the new couple because he thought they were out-of-season penguins. The mayor of Oakland has spent $60,000 traveling around the country to avoid staying at home in his free fire zone of a city. Government is never so broke that it doesn't have a stretch limo for thieves in the power slots. And statements of the obvious aren't why you've forked over a dollar for this fine publication. No sir, no madam, I bring it up because the other day I was sitting around with a couple of friends when, taking a break from merry rounds of creative insults aimed at the local leadership, I mentioned that I'd just read a comment by a man who said he couldn't think of a single credible person in all of government, not a one, from his local school board to the White House. The three of us, sitting in Ukiah, looked at each other and, talking at once, said, “I can't think of one either.” And don't write in and say, “Well, gee, how about Bernie Sanders or Dennis Kucinich?” Or, for the true morons, Lou Dobbs? You'd have to go back to FDR to find people of acceptable, plausible caliber. Every election, regardless of party, we get the stretch limo people, their arms around each other, their big white perfect teeth shining out at us brighter than the Kleig lights.

SPEAKING OF LIMO LIBS, Reverend Cecil Williams, a windbag of the very first order even by Frisco standards, and his grasping wife Jan, of the Glide Memorial Church, annually rake in $410,500 plus a $50,000 housing allowance for maintaining a major public nuisance in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco, nicely described by a Frisco person this way: “Every day I walk to work I walk on Ellis Street and skip the sidewalk. The people are not lined up in a quiet, neat, orderly line. They are sitting, sprawling, walking backwards and taking up the entire sidewalk. I dodge urine and animal droppings. And the people in the yellow jackets are oblivious to it all.” The yellow jackets are supposed to keep order, supposed to keep the dope deals that go on in the line to a minimum. Another commentator says, “I volunteered at Glide for over a year as part of a company philanthropic challenge. There were quite a few of us who took issue with donating our time and energy towards an organization where the guy at the top makes this kind of money.” The Rev of course lives in Diamond Heights, far from his flock.

I DON'T EXPECT to be invited to Boonville High School to talk to the girls about men, but if I were I'd say, “Ladies, all men are like dogs. The difference between you and them is that you're smarter but you're also more loyal, more trusting, more like Mrs. Tiger Woods. So, when the big pooch occasionally strolls off after a new poodle who's caught his eye, you're upset, sometimes very upset. Men will, well, we don't have to go into the grisly details. Just remember that like dogs, men are what they are, and can't help themselves.

NEITHER CAN PETE GOLIS, the Santa Rosa Press Pete Golis Democrat's “retired editorial director.” Golis occasionally appears on the paper's soporific opinion page, if you're somehow able to get that far into the publication without falling asleep. Golis outdid himself Sunday with a brow-furrowing masterpiece called “Another Role Model Turns To Dust” about Guess Who? Why Tiger Woods of course.

Close readers of the PD, and only Tommy Wayne Kramer reads it closer than me, will know that whenever a black athlete or celebrity is in the news for reasons unrelated to his or her line of work, the PD, whose readers are so white you can see through them all the way to Coddingtown, will be sure to huff and puff editorially about that black person's perceived deficiencies. Golis begins his denunciation of the golfer by informing us, “It turns out that Tiger Woods is human after all......” but by paragraph four, and Pete always writes short but real deep, man, the former editorial director is in full shrill mode. “OK, we can all agree: As a husband and a role model, Woods turns out to be a jerk.” Right there I began reading the former editorial writer's every word, reading them twice, sometimes three times, because I couldn't believe my bleeding eyes. Golis was saying, and pretty explicitly too, that he and Mrs. Golis, who were probably married a half hour before Little Golis was born, are the kind of people the kids ought to be looking up to! Good-bye Tiger hello Mr. and Mrs. Pete Golis, role models!

THE DELIGHTFUL Kathy Mooney of Albion is also a gifted painter whose work now graces the interior of the Headlands Coffee Shop, Fort Bragg, and will continue to grace it through December. Kathy's show is called “After All That There Is This.” Todd Walton, a man who knows his art, snapped up the first Kathy he saw, and I'm hoping to pick off one myself as soon as I can get out to FB.

AN ODD ALLIANCE of The One True Green, aka Richard Johnson; KZYX money maven John Sakowicz; supervisor McCowen; Bruce Perlowin; and a grower named Cohen; have joined forces to complicate to the point of unworkability the way the County's marijuana dispensaries and collectives would operate. Of course the Odd Alliance wouldn't characterize their efforts as complicating things, but their proposals read like something devised by a committee of crazy people on very bad acid. Critics of the Odd Alliance's efforts are also wondering at Sakowicz’s references to car bombs and death threats. Car bombs and death threats over a bunch of gobbledygook?

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