Press "Enter" to skip to content

Off the Record (Oct 29, 2014)

CALIFORNIA WILL NO LONGER HAVE A POLICY of segregating prison inmates following a lawsuit that claimed the practice was unconstitutional. In the past, prison officers have locked inmates in cells depending on which races were involved in race-based fights, regardless of whether the individual inmates were involved. Last year, the U.S. Justice Department said in a non-binding court filing that the policy violated the 14th Amendment, which requires equal protection under the law.

IT ISN’T JUST THAT PEOPLE are being forced out of the middle class. It’s that large numbers of people are progressively losing what little security they had. That is a much, much worse problem than simply not being middle class. There was a time when both middle class and working class people had a degree of security that now no longer exists. And making matters worse, our real leadership thinks that reducing people’s security is simply acceptable collateral damage to otherwise virtuous behavior — chasing extraordinary profits.  (Al Klein)

I'M MOST ANNOYED by the assumption by the Economic Punditry that "inflation is under control." Do these people do their own grocery shopping? If they did they couldn't help but notice the price of everything is going steadily up.

MENDO IS READY! Ready for a non-existent threat and ready to add to the media-generated hysteria. And ready to go to meetings and eat donuts talking about the non-existent threat Mendo County Health got out this press release last week: "The HHSA Ebola Preparedness Response Team (EPRT) meets on a weekly basis and is comprised of representatives from HHSA Leadership, Public Health Nursing, Communicable Disease and Hospital and Clinic Preparedness Staff; Coastal Valley Emergency Medical Services; the Public Health Officers; representatives for the Adventist Health System and local clinics. The team’s focus is preparedness. The information around the Ebola virus is rapidly evolving day by day. The team members attend many conference calls weekly, sometimes daily that involve information coming from both the State and Federal levels...." And so on.

BIRDIES WHO FOLLOW FACEBOOK are mystified by a steady stream of posts over the last few years of former DA Meredith Lintott, and the good life she seems to be enjoying. New outdoor kitchen at her home, and lots of travel including this recent post about playing in the swank little town of Sayulita along the Mexican coast.


Wait a minute, didn't Lintott file for bankruptcy while seeking re-election in 2010? At the time didn't she owe $1 million in debt despite she and her husband pulling in $200,000 plus a year? So can we assume the debtors have been paid, and her private law practice rolling in cash?

IN MENDOCINO COUNTY, we’ve come to expect empty rhetoric from political candidates, from school boards to Congress. The would-be leadership talks about goals and visions and we-shoulds and we-musts — totally on rhetorical auto-pilot, and always going way out of their way not to offend anybody.

FOR EXAMPLE, when Fort Bragg planner/dispensary owner Paula Dieter ran against Kendall Smith for Fourth District Supervisor in 2008, Ms. Dieter refused to bring up Smith's travel chiseling, even though by then Smith's thefts had been well-documented by the Grand Jury and her transparently false excuses thoroughly debunked. We suggested to Ms. Dieter — who would have made a fine Supervisor — that she had nothing to lose by bringing it up because she was behind in the unofficial polls. (Natch, the local Democratic Party apparatus supported Smith.) Dieter agreed, but thought that bringing it up might offend more voters than she would attract, and it was certainly easy to imagine Smith's supporters whining about “negativity” and “divisiveness,” the inevitable, catch-all pejoratives Mendo Feeb applies to any opinion they don't approve of.

ELECTIONS around here, then, occur on about the same intellectual level of those you remember from 6th grade, or maybe lower. You’ll never hear any candidate discuss actual government operations or management, budget priorities, Brown Act compliance, etc. And the standard highly orchestrated Q&A sessions avoid specific questions and specific answers, preferring instead the open-ended question sure to produce the comforting vacuities everyone involved expects without follow-up.

YOU’LL NEVER HEAR questions like, “How many planning commission meetings have you attended and which decisions did you disagree with?” or, “Have you reviewed the management reporting of the organization and, if so, how would you improve it?” or, “Which recent decisions of the Council/Board did you disagree with and why?”, or, most important, “What specifically do you want to accomplish if you are elected?”

AND, in general, incumbents have an inherent advantage because they’ve attended more council/board meetings than their opponent, so they filibuster with generic meeting info and sound like they’re in the know. So the political bar is pretty low for Mendo candidates. The Fort Bragg Advocate and the Willits New have conducted Q&A with the candidates for the Fort Bragg City Council and the Willits City Council. Recently the Advocate News asked the five Fort Bragg City Council candidates (for three seats) to comment on the subject of “drugs.” Most of the answers were the usual Mendo mishmosh of more cops, more treatment, more attention to young people. Predictably, the only candidate who fell below Mendo’s already extremely low standard for Mendo Q&A was, of course, Fort Bragg City Council candidate Mark Iacuaniello: “The dangers are really apparent; not just to the individual but to the community as a whole, in terms of people who are using them and abusing them,” Iacuaniello said. The Advocate’s interviewer then summarized Iacuaniello's meaningless strings of clichés, at least sparing us some blather: “He also emphasized education, being proactive (ever hear a smart person deploy “proactive”), and trying to set up appropriate, practical ways of enforcing the law.” “I would need to sit down and work with the police force and see what issues they're facing and see how, then, the city could support them. I think the two best places where we would be most likely to help is with the police force and then of course working with our schools. Education is key, and then obviously enforcement,” Iacuaniello said.

AT WHICH POINT someone should have begun hurling cream pies. The other candidates at least tried to separate their marijuana remarks from their meth remarks, but otherwise said nothing to distinguish them from their opponents. I'd campaign for anyone who said, “Nobody knows what the fuck to do. There's a hole in America's soul that causes millions of US to zone ourselves out…” Etc.

IN THE WILLITS NEWS interviews with the three candidates for two City Council seats there were some indirectly interesting remarks about the Bypass. In Willits the candidates are incumbents and Chamber of Commerce boosters Larry Stranske and Ron Orenstein versus newcomer Robin Leler, ex-wife of the well-known biointensive organic gardener John Jeavons, and co-author of at least one book on organic gardening.

THE WILLITS NEWS ASKED, “What can the city council do to move the city forward in the next few years to prepare for a post-bypass Willits?” Ron Orenstein replied (we quote these responses here verbatim; apparently nobody proofed the answers so there are a few spots where we have absolutely no idea what the candidate is talking about): “It is a fact that something like 40% of the sales tax revenue comes from the sale of gasoline. But it is my belief that when the bypass opens it is not going to have that much of an impact on the local economy. First of all, everyone that drives to the tax [sic] still has to drive up [sic] south Main Street. And I believe that more and more of the business [sic] are creating that environment that will attract people to come to their business even when they don't have to. We're making this town into a destination. The Main St. Merchants' Group is picking up the ball in conjunction with the city and the chamber of commerce and they're making some good plans. I think we're going to be fine.”

LARRY STRANSKE: “The sales tax... and the gas tax, and the sales tax from nursery supplies... and the half-cent sales tax are the biggest revenue havers that we have. And I feel that there's going to be a bump in the road [sic] when the freeway starts to go through because there's going to be less people going through town. Another thing that people need to consider, is that if the state legalizes marijuana [sic]. I mean it just makes more sense to me...why not grow it where you can run a tractor by it [sic]...and so I don't know how that will affect our economy. Because our economy pretty much based on marijuana. I would say that we need to start cutting and making our budget balanced. And if you don't start off with a deficit then you can make some adjustments.”

ROBIN LELER: “We are still going to need a second route through town [she provided several examples of continued traffic. We're going to have to develop more of our side streets. I agree with Holly [Madrigal, who resigned to run for Third District Supervisor], we need to position ourselves to take advantage of our most important resource which is cannabis, right now. I think we need to be exploring the idea of dispensaries, of testing labs, of using our expertise here, and I've said this before, that I could foresee Willits being a bed, bud and breakfast capital. There's our economic development. We overused our timber, let's not do the same thing with cannabis... we want to be a leader in medicinal and recreational uses of cannabis.”

HUH? 1. The City of Willits is surviving on gas taxes and sales taxes on pot-related supplies, which is hardly a reliable revenue stream. 2. Those taxes might well go down after the bypass (or not, who knows?), and even some bypass supporters realize that there will probably be no appreciable reduction in downtown traffic, 3. Some Willits people seriously think Willits will be a deliberate “destination”? and is b. on the verge of being a “bed, bud and breakfast capital” and a “leader in medicinal and recreational uses of cannabis”!

WHAT ABOUT the cost of maintaining Main Street after Caltrans turns it over to the City with probably the same traffic level as pre-bypass? Don’t ask. (— ms)

A READER WRITES: "Your comments about the lack of any real political dialogue or accountability for local candidates (using Fort Bragg and Willits city council candidates as examples) is right on the mark, but applies equally to the candidates for Third District Supervisor. Holly Madrigal, a ten year veteran of the Willits City Council, is the perfect example of your statement that incumbents have an advantage gained by their mere attendance at council or board meetings. They get a vague familiarity with the issues and memorize a few buzzwords (like "sustainable" and "inclusive") which makes it look like they are in the know. No one ever pins them down with the hard questions.

"THE WILLITS NEWS also did interviews with the Third District Supervisor candidates a week or two ago. Woodhouse came off as generally thoughtful but maybe a little naive. Madrigal had all the buzzwords and spoke as if she knew the score but a close look at what she really said ought to be a concern. Her top three campaign promises, in order, are 1) Commission an economic analysis of marijuana's impact on Mendocino County. (The impact is huge but not readily quantifiable and the info would be instantly outdated by state legalization which is coming at the ballot box in 2016.) 2) Build a pedestrian trail in Round Valley. (This is an easy "promise" to make since it is already going forward thanks to Supervisor Pinches — but is this really one of her top priorities for county government?) 3) Pay more money to in-home health care workers. (They deserve it, but is this one of the three top priorities of county government?).

"WHEN ASKED ABOUT WATER Madrigal focused on issues with Lake Mendocino, but not a drop of water from the lake goes to Brooktrails or Willits. Holly never mentioned the Scout Lake project, spearheaded by Supervisor Pinches, which could supply Brooktrails and Willits. After the county paid for the studies to prove the project was viable, they offered it to Willits and Brooktrails, but neither of them were interested. Is this the visionary leadership that Holly claims for herself? And she continues to claim to be a key player on the county water ad hoc committee despite only having attending one meeting several months ago.

"GIVEN THE PROTRACTED LITIGATION between Willits and Brooktrails, Madrigal's comments on that topic are worth quoting at length: ‘I think that I have shown a history of being able to get parties to come together and see both viewpoints, and as third district supervisor I'm going to be advocating for Brooktrails, so once they see how effective I can be at working for them, the fact I already have good positive relationships with the city of Willits will allow me to basically build that bridge.’

"WHICH BEGS THE  QUESTION: Why hasn't Holly Madrigal been able to use her influence and position on the city council to resolve this dispute before now? If she really wanted to be an advocate for Brooktrails and help settle the lawsuit, what better opportunity than right now while she is Mayor of Willits? Holly concluded her interview by making a pitch for people to vote for her based on her experience. She also claims: ‘I know how to craft and keep people on budget,’ but does not explain why Willits has been unable to adopt a balanced budget for the last five years under her guidance.

"WOODHOUSE WAS MOSTLY NON-COMMITTAL on all the issues, making the point that government can only do so much with the limited funding available and stressed the need to set priorities. In an obvious reference to his opponent, Woodhouse said it is irresponsible to say you are going to support spending more money on every issue. Holly is hoping that no one will add up all the funding commitments she is making.

"UNRAVELING THE BROOKTRAILS DISPUTE is complicated and could probably fill several editions of the AVA. But the different approaches of Willits and Brooktrails are telling. Brooktrails features the issue on the home page of its website with a brief summary with links to dozens of documents and expanded explanations of each aspect of the dispute. Willits, in stark contrast, does not even mention the lawsuit and obviously hopes the whole mess will just go away. But instead it is going to trial sometime next year — unless the parties reach an agreement. Holly has been unable to settle the case during her ten years on the city council, but maybe if she gets elected Supervisor she can get it resolved, right?

"THE DISPUTE BEGAN WITH accounting questions back in 1997 and culminated in a lawsuit in 2010 after Brooktrails was unable to get the City of Willits to comply with the terms of their agreements. The main focus of the dispute now is that Willits expects Brooktrails to pay for treatment capacity at the new plant that is needed to treat the sewage from Willits. Brooktrails is willing to give up treatment capacity that it is entitled to, but only if Willits will agree to pro-rate the treatment plant construction costs based on the flow that each party contributes to the plant. Willits is supposed to meter the flow but the meter quit working in 2002 and Willits never replaced it with a meter capable of accurately measuring the amount of flow that each party contributes.

"AS MAYOR HOLLY MADRIGAL sent Brooktrails a letter demanding as a pre-condition to further settlement talks that Brooktrails agree in advance to pay for treatment capacity that they do not use (and probably never will use given the current moratorium on building in Brooktrails). Why hasn't Mayor Madrigal used her current position and influence with her colleagues to reach a fair settlement with Brooktrails? I hope anyone who is considering voting for Holly will take a really hard look at her record of non-accomplishment.

"I INVITE ANYONE who wants to learn more about the Willits-Brooktrails dispute to go on the Brooktrails Township website. Everything is there, including letters from Mayor Holly Madrigal which are signed with an illegible scribble (usually meant to indicate ‘I am so busy and important that I don't have time to sign my name legibly — plus you peons are supposed to know who I am anyway’) followed by a meticulously drawn couplet of holly leaves (which undercuts the idea that she lacks time to sign her name legibly.) Think about it for a minute — the holly leaves may have been a cute touch in junior high school, but the Mayor of Willits?"

CANDIDATES MADRIGAL AND WOODHOUSE, January to June, have spent $16,000 and $14,200 respectively on their campaigns for 3rd District supervisor.

RECOMMENDED READING: 48 HILLS, Tim Redmond's on-line San Francisco newspaper ( Redmond and Company cover in depth what the Chron either ignores or only mentions. Redmond, City readers will know, was one of the main guys at the now defunct SF Bay Guardian.

AN ACQUAINTANCE falsely run through the County's mental health wringer, was required to call Behavioral Health for three days "to tell them I was fine and dandy…. which means all my health information transferred to that department in the County. I just opened a letter from a Tom Pinizzotto that says that in October they had a 'security incident' with one of their subcontractors at Integrated Care Management Systems (who the hell is that?)  On July 29th, Integrated Care Management Systems moved to a new office in Ukiah. During the move, an unencrypted USB drive containing all my personal and health information was lost and has not been recovered. It 'potentially' contained my name, address, phone, ss#, ins id #, diagnosis, and medical records!  Potentially? They're not certain what information was on the drive?  How do you lose a USB drive in this day and age?  This wasn't hacking….it was blatant incompetence and carelessness.

"THEN they tell me about steps that I should take to protect my personal information which is provided in an enclosure….BUT….no enclosure.

"THE "security incident"  happened when this privatized group moved July 29… they didn't notify the County until October!  That's a terrible delay for all those whose personal  information has been stolen.

"UNBELIEVABLE! They move to a new office and somehow all patient information is lost on an USB drive that has no security encryption? What century are they living in….no encryption?  And they moved on July 29 and are just now figuring it out and notifying people on October 22? That's almost 3 months!  What were they doing the last 3 months?  Searching for the USB drive?  This level of incompetence is appalling.

"I NOW have to find an expert security service to follow my social security number daily.   Following your credit report just does not do it….which is what they have offered through the County.  My financial guy uses some "big guns" identity monitoring company and told me that as soon as he signed up, he discovered that a woman in South Carolina had been collecting his social security for several years! Welcome to the world of lost data management run by an incompetent governmental agency."


QUASI GOVERNMENT AGENCY. INTEGRATED CARE MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS is the sub-contractor to the freshly privatized portion of Mendocino County public mental health services worth roughly $7 million tax dollars a year to Pinizzotto's former private employers at Ortner Management Group, Yuba City. Pinizzotto, an oleaginous, Uriah Heep-ish personality type common among Mendo public employees, now makes upwards of $90,000 as an administrator with what remains of non-privatized Mental Health "services." Pinizzotto brokered the privatization for his former employers, a sleight-of-hand described by the Grand Jury as an obvious conflict of interest.

One Comment

  1. John Fremont October 29, 2014

    Well done. Thanks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *