Press "Enter" to skip to content

Mendocino County Today: Monday, Dec 15, 2014

* * *

TOTAL RAINFALL IN NAVARRO over the past two weeks has reached about 10.5 inches.

* * *

THE PRESS DEMOCRAT'S GAYE LEBARON grew up in Southern Humboldt County and has seen first-hand the Northcoast's biggest storms. Her piece in Sunday's Press Democrat puts last week's deluge in historical perspective....

* * *


Supervisors Blame Protesters For $65 Million Caltrans Overrun — Never Mind That Even Caltrans Admits That The Overruns Were Their Own Fault — Mainly Failure To Comply With Rules and Permit Requirements From Other Agencies.

At end of their December 2, 2014 Board meeting, Supervisor John Pinches presented his colleagues with a set of aerial pictures of the Willits bypass construction so far.

Pinches: “This gives you some pretty good photos basically from the air. The Willits bypass is 55% constructed at this point. But it gives you a real good — you can't see this really from the — if you drive out the highway all you are going to see is over here. You don't really see that. So it's really pretty impressive about the work that's been done. Yesterday at the MCOG meeting—’

Supervisor Carre Brown: “Will that be part of the package that was sent out by MCOG? Those pictures?’

Pinches: “That was separate. Yes.”

Brown: “So I'd like to have a color picture of that.”

Pinches: “Okay. Anyway, the MCOG board yesterday, you know the cost overruns for a whole host of different reasons is running, what the estimate is going to be $65 million, which is what next week Caltrans will go to the California Ttransportation Commission. They will ask for support to get the additional funding which I'm sure they're going to be successful. But it was up to us to keep our commitment to the 15% so that amounts to $9.7 million and the board of MCOG yesterday voted unanimous to keep our commitment to that although we never said that if there's going to be any beyond that, the motion we made that was approved, we said we would never put anything beyond that. So in other words there is no more 15% past that. This is the final commitment. I don't think it was unexpected. Everybody knew it was coming from last year that there was going to be cost overruns. Frankly, I thought it was — although $65 million is one heckuva big cost overrun with all the problems that's been involved there, I didn't think that was totally unreasonable. I think it's really important that all the city reps and everybody held together on it. That money — it's not like MCOG don't have the money, the $9.7 million, that's out of the future STIP [State Transportation Improvement Program — local road money from the state gas tax] that is distributed to counties and probably through several STIP cycles in future years, but it is still Mendocino County's number one project and like you can see there it's 55% done. So that was kind of the news from yesterday.”

Supervisor John McCowen: “But that is $9.7 million that will not be able to be spent on other transportation projects.”

Pinches: “That's exactly right.”

McCowen: “And although you say that there is significant, that there is multiple factors for that, certainly a significant factor has been the unnecessary delay.”

Pinches: “Well, certainly. That brings the total commitment for Mendocino County to over $40 million. It was $33 million before this. So it's well over $40 million now. It's the largest project in Mendocino County history. It's the largest local commitment that's ever been put out by this county over the years. Everybody hates to see those cost overruns, but you know, going back to the new Bay Bridge for instance, that was started out as a $1.5 billion bid and it's over $6.5 million now. So cost overruns on projects are not something that's uncommon. Especially when you have all the issues on the bypass project. But it is 55% done and by this time next year it won't be done but it will be well — you'll be able to drive down the roadway.”

Brown: “But it is too bad that other construction projects locally are going to suffer as a result.”

Pinches: “That's true. Some of those cost overruns are nothing you can do about although the cost of the protesters and the cost of the CHP to do the monitoring and the safety of that, those were probably costs that really didn't need to happen but it did and somebody has to pay the bill. And that's us.”

McCowen: “Has anyone considered that there is really no value to having a large CHP presence out there since they have never prevented any protester from doing anything they wanted to do as far as I know?”

Pinches: “Well I don't think that was their main mission to stop the protesters. You know, it was — the job was still going on. They had people out there working and safety was their first priority.”

McCowen: I know. But they have not prevented a protest from disrupting work if that's what the protesters wanted to do. That's what I've observed. It's kind of like, Why are they there?”

Pinches: “This is just what in business I call —”

McCowen: “They could save money if they scaled back the presence.”

Pinches: “That's true, but if they don't have the proper safety amount of people out there and somebody gets hurt and the state get sued, it's what you call in business a bad deal — it is an extremely bad deal.”

* * *

THE CITY OF UKIAH lost another round in its on-going effort to keep milking the redevelopment agency (RDA) cash cow. In theory, a local RDA was a way to rebuild run down areas by borrowing against the future increase in property tax to pay for the improvements. In practice, especially in places like Ukiah, redevelopment became a way to pay for pet projects like the Ukiah “convention center” where no conventions are ever held and the Thomas Plaza which has become a de-facto “day shelter” for punks, drunks, tweakers and traveling trimmers. RDA has also been used to line the pockets of private developers and a small army of consultants and attorneys that specialize in RDA law and finance.

UKIAH ALSO PERFECTED the practice of paying admin salaries out of RDA money by claiming the City Manager, City Attorney, Finance Director and everyone down to the janitor were really spending up to 100% of their time working on RDA projects instead of running the city. By the time the state pulled the plug on RDA, the City of Ukiah was milking its local RDA for $1 million in admin salaries. When RDA went away, instead of laying off any of the admin honchos, the City of Ukiah laid off police, firefighters, public works, and parks and rec workers. Everyone working in admin was deemed essential. Everyone working in the trenches was deemed expendable.

UKIAH WAS ALSO PLANNING to fund the Costco giveaway with RDA money, promising Costco up to $6 million in public funds to improve Airport Park Blvd. and the intersection of Talmage Road and US 101. Ukiah issued bonds (i.e., borrowed money) for this purpose but the bond money is sitting untouched in an account (and incurring hefty interest charges) because the brainiacs in charge at the city missed the deadline for incurring new bonded obligations. Ukiah then tried to claim that it had created “an enforceable obligation” based on an agreement between itself acting as the Ukiah City Council and the same people acting as the Ukiah RDA.

THE SACRAMENTO SUPERIOR COURT, in a ruling issued Dec. 12, carefully detailed how Ukiah tried (but failed) to comply with the law. (The state legislature, in an effort to avoid “hometown” decisions, required that any challenges to RDA dissolution had to be filed in Sacramento.) On March 8, 2011, Ukiah and its RDA made an agreement to use $3.6 million in RDA funds for the Costco giveaway. State law wiped out that agreement, but said RDA parent agencies (like the City of Ukiah) could “re-enter” such agreements if they wanted to. Instead, on June 20, 2012, Ukiah adopted a “Restated First Amended Funding Agreement,” which changed the provisions of the original agreement.

THE COURT RULING means that Ukiah could have used RDA funds, including bond proceeds, to pay for the Costco improvements if only it had “re-entered” the original agreement. In short, Ukiah screwed up by trying to adopt an amended agreement (instead of the original) and now has to look elsewhere for the $3.6 million (up to $6 million by some accounts) needed to pay for the Costco giveaway. All this has come at a tidy on-going cost for high priced attorneys and consultants, all of whom are being paid out of local tax dollars. The same legal experts who screwed things up to begin with are expected to urge the Ukiah City Council to appeal the ruling to the State Supreme Court.

* * *


* * *


Location: Noyo Beach, Fort Bragg California

On 12-14-2014, at approximately 7am a local citizen was walking his dog on the Noyo Beach in Fort Bragg when he came upon the remains of a deceased person lying on the beach near the surf. Mendocino County Deputy Sheriff/Coroner's responded and initiated an investigation. The decedent was found to be a male adult, estimated to be 5 feet 10 inches to 6 feet tall and 130 to 160 pounds who appeared to have been in the water for sometime and was in an advanced state of decomposition. The decedent was wearing blue “Alfred Dunner” brand sweat pants, gray socks, and brown “Outdoor Gear” hiking boots. The decedent also has a tattoo of what appears to be the letter “S” on the back of his left hand between the thumb and index finger and also a tattoo on his right shoulder of a “heart” and a name, which is unreadable. No identification was located and the identity of the decedent is unknown at this time. Any persons with information which may assist in identifying the decedent are encouraged to contact the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office tip-line at (707) 234-2100.

* * *

CATCH OF THE DAY, Dec 14, 2014

Amador, Deffendall, Espinoza, Garcia-Barrera
Amador, Deffendall, Espinoza, Garcia-Barrera

MANUEL AMADOR, Willits. Probation revocation.

JENNIFER DEFFENDALL, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation, failure to appear.


ARMANDO GARCIA-BARRERA, Ukiah. Driving on invalid license.

Garner, Green, Lee, Michael
Garner, Green, Lee, Michael

ELDON GARNER, Ukiah. Domestic assault, destruction of wireless equipment to prevent calling for help.

STEVEN GREEN, Ukiah. Failure to appear, failure to pay.

JUSTIN LEE, Fort Bragg. Domestic assault, probation revocation.

HEATHER MICHAEL, Ukiah. Domestic assault.

Omler, Pinnegar, Rea, Robinson
Omler, Pinnegar, Rea, Robinson

TERRY OMLER, Ukiah. Domestic assault.

RUSSELL PINNEGAR, Willits. Phone vandalism.

CRUZ REA, Ukiah. Drunk in public. (Frequent flyer.)

LANA ROBINSON, Ukiah. Domestic assault.

Speers, Vasquez, Vedolla, Wilburn
Speers, Vasquez, Vedolla, Wilburn

JESSICA SPEERS, Willits. Domestic assault.

VICTORIA VASQUEZ, Hopland. Drunk in public.

ALFREDO VEDOLLA, Ukiah. Child endangerment, probation revocation.

ANTHONY WILBURN, Ukiah. Community supervision violation.

* * *

FOR ME, THE LAME PART OF THE SIXTIES was the political part, the social part. The real part was the spiritual part. — Jerry Garcia, Grateful Dead

* * *

SATURDAY NIGHT PREDICTION: The Niners bounce back big time on Sunday against Seattle. Kap runs wild. Niners by 10.

SUNDAY REALITY: For the second straight season, the 49ers had their Super Bowl dreams extinguished by their bitter rivals.

The 49ers were eliminated from playoff contention Sunday with a 17-7 loss to the Seahawks at raucous CenturyLink Field, the site of their loss in the NFC Championship Game 11 months ago.

The 49ers (7-7), who are on their first three-game losing streak of the Jim Harbaugh era, were officially eliminated when the Lions beat the Vikings, 16-14.

On Sunday, their 24th-ranked offense was no match for the NFL’s top-ranked defense, which collected six sacks and limited quarterback Colin Kaepernick to 141 passing yards. The 49ers lost to Seattle (10-4) for the fifth time in their past six meetings.

The 49ers weren’t just beaten, they were battered. Running back Frank Gore exited in the second quarter with a concussion and Carlos Hyde left in the third quarter with a knee injury, forcing the 49ers to finish the game with Alfonso Smith in the backfield. In addition, inside linebacker Chris Borland and tight end Garrett Celek sustained ankle injuries in the first half.

The Seahawks’ slumbering offense awoke in the second half after they had three points and running back Marshawn Lynch managed 20 yards on eight carries in the first two quarters.

Trailing 7-3, Lynch began tearing through a defense that was without Borland. The rookie, who led all players with six tackles in the first half, sustained ankle injury on the final play of the second quarter and played just one snap in the second half.

On Seattle’s second drive of the third quarter, Lynch, who had 71 yards on 13 carries in the second half, had runs of 13 and 15 yards to jumpstart the 10-play, 60-yard march he capped with a four-yard run to give the Seahawks a 10-7 lead.

After the 49ers went three-and-out, the Seahawks went back to work with a touchdown drive that included a 19-yard scamper by Wilson and a controversial penalty on the 49ers. On 3rd-and-5 from San Francisco’s 15, inside linebacker Nick Moody was flagged for roughing the quarterback as Wilson threw incomplete on what appeared to be a clean hit.

Instead of settling for a field-goal attempt, the Seahawks took a 17-7 lead two plays later when Wilson fired a 10-yard pass to rookie wideout Paul Richardson on a slant route.

Despite entering as double-digit underdogs for the first time since 2011, the 49ers hung tough in the first half.

Trailing 3-0, the 49ers embarked on an 11-play, 85-yard drive that began with Kaepernick’s 31-yard completion to tight end Garrett Celek. Kaepernick tossed a 15-yard completion to wideout Anquan Boldin three plays later, but the march ended on the ground.

The 49ers covered the final 40 yards with seven straight runs. The final rush was a 10-yard scamper by Gore on 4th-and-1 to give the 49ers a 7-3 lead and end their scoreless streak at 40 minutes and 12 seconds.

The 49ers had 104 rushing yards and averaged 5.5 yards a carry in the first half. The Seahawks entered allowing 84.1 rushing yards a game and 3.5 per attempt.

Meanwhile, the 49ers defense held the Seahawks scoreless for the final 18-plus minutes of the first half. They were assisted by a curious decision by Seahawks coach Pete Carroll on the final play of the second quarter.

With eight seconds left, Seattle eschewed a 47-yard field-goal attempt on 3rd-and-10 from the 29-yard line. Instead, Russell Wilson threw a deep pass over the middle that was intercepted by safety Eric Reid and returned 73 yards.

— Eric Branch (Courtesy, the San Francisco Chronicle sportsblog)

* * *


We rightly laud Debartolo/York family for bringing in Bill Walsh despite Paul Brown's campaign to ruin Walsh's reputation. They have done a lot of good things. We are quick to forget that very same family: Hired Joe Thomas
; Allowed Thomas to literally trash 49er history and priceless memorabilia Pol Pot style; Tried to impulsively fire Bill Walsh several times when things didn't go perfectly; Eddie D usually with a heat on; Allowed Walsh's painstakingly assembled video library (detailing the installation of every game plan in his tenure) to be looted
; Drunkenly fired Steve Mariucci with no clear replacement in mind; Moved the team so far south, the 49ers are now the farthest team in NFL history from its namesake city — by a long shot.
 Now presides over the most weirdly sedate sports venues in the country thanks to “open air” design, a huge Holiday Inn looking oligarch wall, expensive tickets (=gentrified, quieter fan base), interruptive devices and 3 hour trips for city dwellers.

Call it “Levi-thargy Stadium?”

* * *



It’s urgent that we attempt community intervention about how to protest powerfully and peacefully. Protesters tried to set fire to my apartment building last night, white people in masks who were stopped by my young Latino neighbors. They brought a tank of gas with them to the march. I had to rescue our recycling bin, which they wanted to use as a barricade or perhaps burn. All this does is hemorrhage overtime pay into police pockets while the children in our building get frightened.

--Carol Denney, Berkeley

* * *


by Emily Hobelmann

The Emerald Cup is a cannabis flowers/solvent-less hash/edibles/topicals competition that culminates in a weekend-long main event at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa. The main event features an awards ceremony, a vendor fair, musical performances, educational panels and workshops and a 215 medication zone. It’s a cannabis media frenzy, a crazy big party and the ultimate canna-biz networking opportunity.

Yesterday (Saturday) was day one of the main event, and that shit straight up sold out. Today is the second and final day of the main event. The winners of the various Emerald Cup contests will be announced this afternoon at about 4 p.m. There are 653 flower entries, 86 concentrate (hash) entries, 92 edibles and 67 topicals. (You can probably catch the ceremony on the KMUD Radio live audio stream and you can check out all the Emerald Cup entries at this CannCast webpage.)

People receive medical marijuana recommendations on-site, so they can legally participate (smoke herb) in the 215 vendor area.

The fairgrounds were swarming yesterday. The various medical marijuana providers in the 215 medication zone dealt with persistent crowds, people eager to sample the myriad cannabis products. Expert panels ran continuously on two stages. Bands played on an outdoor stage and the VIP tent had complimentary espresso. There were food booths and endless variations on cannabis people, medications and merchandise.

It’s almost as if the streets of Santa Rosa were paved with hash yesterday, as if the local flora was exclusively cannabis, the skies were white with marijuana smoke and the moon rose as a cheesy dab slab. But that’s taking things a little far. Sonoma County isn’t that cannabis friendly, yet. Still, it was a monumental weed day, at least at the fairgrounds.

Emerald Triangle people were out in force, of course. I found Royal Kush Romulan Cheezle by Quintessential at the Baked in Humboldt booth and some Lost Coast OG Shatter at the dab bar in the VIP lounge. The award-winning Southern Humboldt Concentrates was representing too, offering high quality medicine to qualified patients.

And there was so much more, many more people and things happening. So the following images are a mere glimpse of the action at day one of the 2014 Emerald Cup. Agnes Patak from KMUD Radio in SoHum hooked up most of these photos. I threw in the last few.

Puff on, Lost Coasters!

Cannabis manicuring technology on display.

Additional photos at:


* * *

PD's Story: Emerald Cup Proves a Big Draw

* * *


* * *

AS FOR CLINTON, leave him to heaven. His crime is not that he messed around in the White House … His real crime was to end Welfare “as we know it” without ending Welfare as we don’t know it — that is, corporate Welfare. It’s a monstrosity in my mind, to save money by lecturing the poor and kissing the ass of the wealthy.

— Norman Mailer

* * *


* * *

PRETTY GOOD DISCUSSION of the Northcoast's vineyard labor dilemmas:

* * *


A rare glimpse at inner workings of Lake County Administration

Betsy Cawn,

Want to know how bad Lake County government is? Rated 58th of the 58 in California by a number of state agencies, our County's “Administration” is attempting to void a critical Joint Powers Authority Agreement compliant with federally-manded, state-implemented water quality control regulations, in a single paragraph of our LAFCo's Municipal Service Review of the Lake County Watershed Protection District. (Page 7, 3rd paragraph).

The District, which has powers equal to and in some cases greater than the County government itself (through state legislated amendments to the California Water Code), has not produced a credible financial report for determining whether the District is doing its job. That the District has not done its job is evident in the continuing degradation of Clear Lake's water supplies, as seen in the ever-increasing cost of water treatment for tens of thousands of customers, and our failing “tourist” industry.

The uniformly muddy stormwater runoff that overwhelmed the City of Clearlake a few days ago is evidence that lip service has been paid to implementing “best management practices” for erosion control, a District responsibility for almost ten years.

(The District also has the authority to protect our lakes from invasive Quagga/Zebra Mussels, and in 7 years has not managed to do more than sell “stickers” for compliance with a terrible local ordinance our own courts refuse to enforce. Visitors to our lakes — coming from all over the country, including those areas with infested water bodies in the State of California — imperil Mendocino's water resources as well. Lake Pillsbury, your primary source of supply to Lake Mendocino, is one of several unprotected source water supplies in Lake County vulnerable to “accidental” infestation by this uncontrollable and highly damaging species. Mendocino County and Sonoma County Supervisors formed an invasive species prevention coalition a few years ago; Lake County is not a part of that coalition because…?)

Lake County Administration, by means of self-defined editorial authority (without consultation with the District's Board of Directors — our Board of Supervisors) in a legally conducted public hearing, demonstrates its omnipotence once again in its casual dismissal of state permitting requirements, at our expense.

The only authority that can prevent this abortion is our Local Agency Formation Commission, which has been the tool of County government since it was created in 1963. If the County of Lake does not accept responsibility for protecting our important natural resources, delegated by a number of legal instruments of the State, your local water supplies are equally at risk.

The “final” hearing for Lake County's Watershed Protection District MSR will be held on December 18, 2 pm, Lakeport City Hall. Keep your powder dry.

Betsy Cawn Upper Lake,

* * *

A glimpse into Brown's 4th term Capitol Weekly; Capitol Weekly: The Newspaper of California State Government and Politics.

Dear Friends of Clear Lake,

If you aren't familiar with the history of California's long-term planning processes — the long-standing Governor's Office of Planning and Research (OPR) and its little-known new partner, the Strategic Growth Council, and the purpose of “sustainable” growth policies, consider the story linked here:

And then, take a look (good rainy day reading) at the report by the State Senate's chief consultant to the Governance and Finance Committee, explaining how “boundaries” are decided by Local Agency Formation Commissions to constrain sprawl, prevent under-funded public service impacts on existing "districts" we depend on for public health and safety services, and ensure that conflicting or competing interests are reconciled with tax-payer approval — when the agencies perform correctly.

Here in Lake County, as with many of Northern California's rural counties, local government (chiefly the Board of Supervisors and County Administration) largely avoid public engagement in long-term decision making, but that is NOT what the Office of Planning and Research endorses in its guidelines for conducting “municipal” service reviews.

Rules for LAFCos are established in State statutes, helpfully provided in the OPR's “Municipal Service Review Guidelines - Appendices.”

We've spent the better part of two years reviewing — unsuccessfully — the operations Lake County Watershed Protection District, which is responsible for the Lake County (county-wide) Clean Water Program. (Among other problems, it has revenues it doesn't explain, assets it doesn't declare, and performance outcomes that are invisible — except the continuing degradation of Clear Lake's water quality.)

In 2003, when our local governments knew that a state mandated water quality cleanup law was coming down the pike, they got together and formed a Joint Powers Authority — creating the Lake County Clean Water Program Advisory Council. The Board of Supervisors requested state legislation to form the Watershed Protection District to "manage" the Clean Water Program under direction of that Advisory Council.

Now, County Administration has decided it can negate all that legal structure, including specific state permit requirements, with the stroke of a pen — in their latest comments on the Lake County Watershed Protection District MSR. (, see Page 7.)

An explanation of the very real legal requirements — which cannot be undone by internal decision making of "ignorant" administrators — will be included in the MSR Committee's report provided to the Commission on December 18.

That simple fact is that the County's top administrators don't understand our legal responsibility for protecting our most important public trust asset: Clear Lake. Members of the Board of Supervisors have also said they “don't understand the governance” of the District, and attempted to say that LAFCo “doesn't have the jurisdiction” to review the District's performance. Our whole economy has been undermined by this problem, because we have failed to take advantage of federal funding to implement the programs for environmental restoration. Only LAFCo has the ability to change this, if we demand the District's accountability for its actions.

If you would like to learn more about OUR Watershed Protection District, and how your money is being used to perpetuate bad business practices conducted by the County of Lake, give me a call or send me an email.

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.