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Mendocino County Today: Sunday, May 3, 2015

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This is a group of folks outside city limits who feel disenfranchised. John Fremont arranged meeting time/space for people who live outside FB voting boundaries to discuss County and City charters. Everyone is invited. The County Charter folks have worked three years on their project. They know a lot. Please come.

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THE MAYPOLE DANCE at Big River on the glorious first day of May reminds us of our early youth when we practiced for the big day a week prior.


At our elementary school, us boys in white shirts and ties, the girls in white dresses, did a unified hop and skip around a large, vertical tree limb, properly denuded for the occasion. The phallic implications of the ancient ceremony hadn't occurred to me until Joseph Campbell's essays on myths, and I'm certain those implications never occurred to the school teachers of 1950. (Photo Courtesy, MendocinoSportsPlus)

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by Mark Scaramella

Supervisor Dan Hamburg and Sheriff Tom Allman appeared in Boonville last Thursday night to discuss Anderson Valley's popular but now-you-see-him, now-you-don't resident deputy, Craig Walker. Walker is often compelled to work in the Ukiah and Point Arena-Gualala areas because of a shortage of patrol deputies; that shortage is mostly attributable to the County's persistent failure to pay its deputies comparable to the Ukiah Police Department and neighboring counties.

About 40 locals showed up at the Fire Department meeting room to discuss the problem. The Community Action Coalition's Beverly Dutra led the discussion.

Former CAC director Colleen Schenck said that local people were disappointed to have lost Deputy Walker after all the work that was done to secure a resident deputy for the Anderson Valley. She added that if it's so hard to keep resident deputies, the system is broken.

Retired Anderson Valley Fire Chief Colin Wilson said that most Valley people support the Sheriff's Office and are not complaining — they recognize the need for allocating limited resources where needed — "but we are upset that the resident deputy has been reassigned."

Sheriff Allman explained the history of the present dilemma: In 1972 the Sheriff's Office had 42 patrol deputy positions and today, some 40 years later, there are 43, not all of them filled. The relatively small population of Mendocino County has been relatively flat since that time, but the workload for law enforcement associated with new mandates such as domestic violence and child abuse requires more deputy time. Allman described the situation as a table with a tablecloth that is too short: you pull on one end and you uncover the other end.

The Sheriff said his department was spending $2.5 million per year on overtime, much of that at the jail, but also a lot for patrol to make up for the short staffing.

The Sheriff’s Department offers a variety of incentives for resident deputies, including a 5% bump in salary, personal use of the patrol car, a K-9 unit, and completion bonuses after certain numbers of years of service up to four years.

Resident deputies also have to be a good fit with the communities they police, and it takes six months between hiring and putting a deputy on patrol, the Sheriff said. Allman said he recently told the Board of Supervisors that salaries needed to be restored to a level that existed prior to the 10% cut they took during the County's budget crisis, but County revenues remain flat.

Recently two newly hired deputies who got about $19 an hour as new hires left the department to take positions for the Ukiah Police Department at a starting salary of about $28 an hour.

Allman said his department had recently hired seven new recruits; and they will undergo field training and as many as five of them are expected to complete that training and be assigned to patrol, assuming these people stay and retirements and resignations don't reduce the net number of deputies in the field.

The tentative agreement between the County and the Deputy Sheriffs Association does not restore the 10% cut; in fact, after discounting pension subsidy givebacks, the deal amounts to approximately a 5% net pay restoration over the next two years.

Allman said that his budget is not the problem — he had been running under budget for years because of the understaffing problem even with increased overtime. In addition, the money taken in by the District Attorney's innovative marijuana restitution policy is being used for vacation buyouts, which means that deputies are paid to stay on patrol longer instead of taking vacation. Allman pointed out that while he controls the Sheriff's budget, the Supervisors control the salaries.

The Sheriff conceded that people are tired of hearing, "Help is on the way," implying that he was well aware he was saying it again.

Beverly Dutra said that she was aware of a low level of petty crime in Anderson Valley that Deputy Walker continuously nipped in the bud when he was present full-time. Mrs. Dutra understood that Walker could be reassigned for short durations, but meanwhile drug activity, especially in the schools, needs a resident deputy to be prevented from regaining a foothold.

High School Principal Michelle Hutchins told Allman about drug activity at the school that needed more attention. Allman said that she needed to contact Sgt. Brewster, who now runs the Mendocino County Major Crimes Task Force, for help with such things. Allman also said that if there were problems with the law enforcement response Ms. Hutchins should call him directly. (The personable Allman has always been accessible and is justifiably praised for responding to calls for help.)

Allman also pointed out that the Proposition 172 sales tax passed in the 1990s was supposed to be for "public safety," but was instead placed directly into the County's general fund, and from there was passed to non-law-enforcement departments proportionately. District Attorney Eyster has pointed out that he thinks it's illegal to use the money for anything but law enforcement, so unless the Board acts, that allegedly illegal arrangement will stay in place.

When Allman said that deputy salaries were lower than the "10 county average" for comparable counties — a number that is required to be calculated by terms of the Deputy Sheriff’s labor contract — several people wanted to know what the exact numbers were from those counties. But Allman said they had not done a survey recently and didn't have a number.

Supervisor Hamburg quoted former Third District Supervisor John Pinches who once said that the county did not have a spending problem but a revenue problem. The 10% cut imposed on County employees in 2009 was forced on the County by declining revenues with the budget eventually balanced on the backs of the employees.

Hamburg then drifted into discussions of other demands on the general fund we all are aware of, such as the capital improvement program (facilities repairs and upgrades), the restoration of the County's still small reserve, the relatively small percentage of the County's total budget that is "discretionary," and the large portion of the discretionary money that goes to law enforcement, the $1200 bonus recently granted to most employees (not to patrol deputies), the poor condition of County roads and the ongoing expense of road maintenance.

Former LA cop Kirk Wilder, reminded Hamburg that Hamburg had drifted off the point and asked exactly what the Supervisors were doing to improve the county's financial picture.

Hamburg replied that he was working on getting light industry onto the old Masonite industrial park. This is an ancient platitude invoked ever since Masonite departed, and Hamburg, as others before him, offered no examples of what he had in mind.

The Supervisor also said he was working on a novel housing development in Hopland area (an indirect reference to the so-called "Mendovito" fantasy proposed by outside developers, which "envisions" a "self-contained" new city in McDowell Valley east of Hopland. That the proposal was roundly criticized by everyone along the 101 corridor — for such obvious reasons as water availability and non-existence of accompanying jobs — seemed to perplex the notoriously autocratic and thin-skinned Hamburg who said, “It was like I was trying to bring the Third Reich back into Mendocino County.” (Good lord!)

Responding to Hamburg's claim that the County's is only now seeing some revenue recovery back to pre-2009 levels, Dave Severn asked, If the revenues prior to 2009 have been restored, as Hamburg said, why couldn't the salaries be restored to that same level?

Hamburg replied that pension and health-care costs have gone up and that the state had recently disallowed $4.5 million of Mental Health costs, adding (to our surprise) that this was an improvement from years ago. (We have yet to confirm this, nor what period it covers; we have made inquiries to the County CEO's office. If it really is part of the reason that deputies can not be paid adequately, it needs to be fixed — now). Supposedly the privatization of Mental Health was in part intended to eliminate the high level of disallowed mental health services (MediCal) costs problem that has plagued the County budget for years.

When AV High School Principal Hutchins suggested that Hamburg make calls to neighboring counties himself to find out what their average deputy salaries are, Hamburg, perhaps surprised that his constituents might expect him to actually perform a simple task on their behalf, haughtily replied, “That's why we have a Human Resources Department,” and that the County was "beginning to restore" employee pay to pre-2009 levels.

Principal Hutchins also wondered why the Anderson Valley, given the mighty slug of taxes it pays, can't get a resident deputy, an essential government service. Hamburg replied that the County isn't set up to “balkanize” finances that way, allocating money to various regions in proportion to tax revenue.

Sheriff Allman broached the novel idea (novel in Mendocino County anyway) of communities directly sweetening a deputy's take-home pay, bypassing the Puzzle Palace in Ukiah. He didn't know if it was legal, he didn't know how injuries or healthcare issues would be handled, and, he said, other sheriffs he'd discussed the idea with it had declared it “nuts.”

Beverly Dutra mentioned that in Oregon they have something called “enhanced law-enforcement districts” which provide incentives for resident deputies.

CSD Trustee Neil Darling pointed out that in theory the CSD could enact their "latent power" for police protection. But, as Allman explained, as a practical matter that would end up with something like a Sheriff's deputy anyway since the person would need to be a fully qualified “peace officer,” (and the rigamarole required to implement that “latent” power is onerous.)

Allman said he briefly considered making all the patrol deputies "acting sergeants" to bump up their pay, but then, he mused, what do you do with the sergeants, make them "acting lieutenants”? And do the lieutenants become acting captains, and do the captains become acting sheriffs?

When Terry Ryder suggested that the department try to recruit older guys who do not need training who might be interested in finishing their careers as rural resident deputies, Allman replied that he had tried something like that a few years ago with a recruitment involving sending out a thousand recruitment notices to police departments all over Southern California and got back a total of one (1) application. Kirk Wilder, the retired LA cop, said that when individuals look at their own financial situation overall as they near the end of their career, such ideas do not pencil out financially and most prefer to simply finish their careers where they are.

Hamburg said the County was willing to consider a possible sales tax measure, but, like all the other suggestions that pop up now and then, such ideas so far have not gone anywhere at the Board level.

Allman said he he felt that it was important to introduce resident deputy candidates to the Valley whenever possible, such as holding informal meet and greet sessions at Lauren's Restaurant as was done when Deputy Walker was hired.

Elementary school principal Donna Pierson-Pugh remarked, "We've already got one! We don't need to be introduced to a new one!"

Allman said that while he was paying a lot of overtime, overtime amounted to less then the cost of new hires because overtime does not require an additional vehicle, additional pension benefits, health care benefits, etc. But there is a limit to how much overtime can be used because of safety considerations, burnout, morale, and additional pressure on deputies to leave the department for higher paid jobs that do not require as much overtime.

In total, patrol deputies cost around $120,000 per year per deputy on average when including salary, pension, health care, patrol car, etc.

Allman insisted that his department had not excommunicated Anderson Valley and that when his department's staffing is back up to full strength, Anderson Valley will get back its two authorized resident deputies.

As the meeting ended, Sheriff Allman thanked the group for their civil tone and willingness to listen. A wag in the room replied, “We can fix that.”

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SODDEN THOUGHT DEPARTMENT: All due respect to the KZYX critics, who are absolutely, irrefutably correct in their criticisms of station management, but if the critics took power tomorrow nothing much, if anything, would change. They would have programs, their enemies, real and perceived, wouldn't.

THE NUT of the prob is not the nuts dominant at the place — outpatients are omni-present in Mendocino County and an ongoing fact of local life; the prob is the way the station is structured, with its built-in vote for whomever is managing the place from the programmers bloc vote. And programmers do vote as a bloc for whomever happens to be functioning as management because, so long as they have their programs and management doesn't mess with them. And management selects programmers. Does anybody really believe that management, in the Mendo context, would cold bloodedly allow a real dissident on the air? Especially one critical of THEM?

AND THE PROGRAMMER vote is large enough to ensure that no matter how incompetent management is, management stays in place, because most of the rest of the membership is happy with the tunes and the political soma piped in daily by NPR.

MOST OF THE KZYZ MEMBERSHIP, that part of the membership that bothers to vote, doesn't give a hoot how the institution is managed. Trustee seats are won with what? 300 votes? Hell, you've got almost that many programmers.

KZYX ought to be disbanded and reorganized as a true community radio station as per KMUD. No reform is possible as it is.

WELL, MR. NEGATIVE, you're a KZYX member. What do you want?

I WANT the station's rancid premises bulldozed and Aigner and Coate driven naked and weeping down Highway 128. I doubt if the membership would vote my way on that one, but short of the bullwhip and the bulldozer I'd be happy with an hour a day of unfettered call-ins presided over by a smart, articulate person (not presently available in Mendocino County other than KC Meadows of the Ukiah Daily Journal who, natch, is among the legion of the already banned) and local news. Even Coate and Aig, backed unanimously by the usual Mendo Stooge board of directors, ought to be able to manage this much. But…

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EXPECT a recall petition filed against Fort Bragg mayor Dave Turner. There is huge anger at the present 3-2 domination of the Fort Bragg City Council by Turner, Doug Hammerstrom and Scott Dietz, auto-yes votes for whatever Mommy, city manager Linda Ruffing, proposes. Their vote to approve conversion of the Old Coast Hotel to a nebulously therapeutic rehab center operated by the private Ortner Management Group has outraged a clear majority of Fort Bragg citizens. (Imagine, proportionately, the huge outcry if San Francisco's Palace Hotel was turned into a mental health halfway house.) A recall of Turner will pass easily, assuming the recallers come up with a plausible replacement for him. And the talk is the popular former police chief Scott Mayberry just might be that candidate.

FROM THE DOCS we've seen, it's obvious that the deal to convert Old Coast to a privatized halfway house was made by Fort Bragg City staff, specifically City Manager Linda Ruffing and her assistant town managers, who brought it off completely outside anything resembling a transparent democratic process. Ruffing and Co. are unelected. They did the deal with Carine, the owner of Old Coast, then got Turner, who seems to assume the votes of Dietz and the clearly impaired Hammerstrom, to sign off on the deal Ruffing did with Carine.

THE DIFFERENCE between the Old Coast swindle and the second looming swindle of an unneeded trash transfer station is that the engineer of the transfer station deal, Mike Sweeney, the most interesting and clearly the smartest person in local government, is that Sweeney has the support, eight years back, of his board of directors, a supine quintet of already elected officials drawn from local elected government. Old Coast is entirely the work of unelected people.

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GREAT MOMENTS in local journalism, today's lead story in the Press Democrat is titled, “It’s a girl! British royal family welcomes princess,” and begins, “The name of the girl, fourth in line to the throne, had not been announced Saturday morning…”

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CATCH OF THE DAY, May 2, 2015

Faber, Hill, Knapp (09, 15)
Faber, Hill, Knapp (09, 15)

SCOTT FABER, Ukiah. Receiving stolen property, selling another’s personal property or ID with intent to defraud, possession of drug paraphernalia, probation revocation.

MICKEY HILL, Willits. Domestic battery.

VERNON KNAPP, Willits (L-2009, Disorderly conduct. R-2015) Drunk in public, misdemeanor hit & run. (Frequent flyer)

Lucas, Skellet, Wright
Lucas, Skellet, Wright

BRANDEN LUCAS, Willits. Drunk in public.

JOEL SKELLET, Ukiah. Court order violation.

NICOLE WRIGHT, Ukiah. Possession of meth for sale, receiving stolen property, possession of drug paraphernalia, ID theft, possession of controlled substance, probation revocation.

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To: Board of Supervisors

Date: May 5, 2015

From: Supervisor Woodhouse

Agenda Title: Discussion and Possible Direction Regarding the Formation of a Working Group to Review Existing Fire Suppression Protocols and Funding of an Independent Study to Assess Fire Hazards Associated with Intentionally Killed Trees Left Standing on Commercial Timber Land

Previous Board/Board Committee Actions: On October 18, 1994, the Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution (#94-173) requesting the California State Board of Forestry and/or other state agencies to protect Mendocino County forest lands and residences from the extreme high fire danger caused by the girdling and/or use of herbicides resulting in dead but not downed hardwoods. On January 10, 2006, the Board adopted the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Wildfire Management Plan. On April 21, 2015, the Board of Supervisors discussed fire safety in Mendocino County, which included presentations from County fire chiefs with no action taken. On April 21, 2015, the Board of Supervisors also discussed various issues associated with intentionally killed trees left standing on commercial timber land and received substantial community input, with no action taken.

Summary Of Request: In 2006, the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors adopted the Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP). The Plan was developed by interested parties and federal agencies managing land in Mendocino County and identified and prioritized areas for hazardous fuel reduction treatments and recommended the types and methods of treatment that would protect the County. The Plan further designated the affected communities as “Communities at Risk from Wildfire” (refer to the attached list). The Plan was collaboratively developed by CalFire, the Mendocino County Fire Safe Council, and Mendocino County. The CWPP is nearly 10 years old and conditions within the County have changed over a decade. As Mendocino County enters its fourth consecutive year of drought along with the continuation of the forestry practice widely known as “hack and squirt” which leaves millions of dead standing trees on forests lands throughout the County, it is appropriate to address these new concerns in order to protect public health and public safety. The CWPP can be used to design a longer-term strategy to improve fire safety and fire services in high-risk areas. This includes projects over multiple ownerships such as community fire breaks and water storage. Completion of an updated CWPP will also help in securing funds for other fire safety projects. California Conservation Corps (CCC) and convict labor crews can be used to implement projects under the CWPP.

It is proposed that the Board of Supervisors consider appropriating funds to the Mendocino County Fire Safe Council (FSC) in order to commence a transparent and inclusive public process to update the CWPP focusing on the most vulnerable areas in the County (e.g., Albion Ridge, east of Albion Ridge & Middle Ridge, end of Tramway, Rancho Navarro, Brooktrails, Comptche, Anderson Valley, Laytonville, Leggett, Turtle Creek, Pine Mountain, etc.). The FSC will form partnerships with timber companies, Cal Fire, local fire chiefs, the NRCS (federal) and the RCD (local) in the update process. It is further proposed that the Board of Supervisors request funding from the Board of Forestry to conduct a major study of fire control strategies. While we can always do more, it is recognized that County departments are currently supporting activities associated with fire safety, including the Department of Transportation’s current and continued support and coordination of fire improvement projects (i.e., emergency access routes and State Clearing House application) in conjunction with the FSC. Further, the Department of Planning and Building Services is currently working on issues associated with rural addressing so that fire and safety personnel can locate homes in emergency situations, with further information being presented on the topic at a Board meeting in the near future.

Recommended Action/Motion: 1. The Board of Supervisors forms a working group, including the Fire Safe Council (FCS), to review existing fire suppression protocols and funding of an independent study to assess fire hazards associated with intentionally killed trees left standing on commercial timber land. 2. The Board of Supervisors appropriate $25,000 to the FSC to begin the CWPP update, focusing on the areas collectively identified as most vulnerable. 3. The Board of Supervisors request funding from the Board of Forestry (i.e., SRA funds) for a two-part study (cost estimate: $200,000). This study is proposed to analyze: a) the anticipated impact of the projected ongoing drought (currently 20% mortality) in Mendocino County; and b) based on that projected impact, an analysis of pre-fire control strategies. This study in Mendocino County would become a model for statewide fire preparation efforts.

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Supervisor Dan Hamburg recently replied to Beth Bosk on the Mendocino Listserve. Bosk was complaining about the (above) Woodhouse agenda item on the May 5, Board of Supervisors agenda calling for a $200,000 tax-paid study of hack and squirt in the aftermath of Hamburg’s weak-tea suggestion to MRC that they hold off on hack&squirt for six months while the fire danger was studied.

Bosk wrote: Just what Mike Jani wants. Talk and Squirt. No moratorium. 5000 more acres of dead trees intentionally left standing surrounding Comptche, Navarro, Elk, the upper reaches of the Albion, possibly Spring Creek this year. And in a few years, crews hauling out the remainder redwood, marketed as "sustainably harvested decking" at Home Depot. Dead limbs and treetops falling into the exhaust manifolds of the skitters, the bulldozers, starting fires the loggers are left to suppress. This is not a timed item. No indication even whether it will be heard in the morning or afternoon. Can you give us some clarification here, Dan Hamburg?”

Hamburg, replying on the listserve, replied: “No member of the Board other than me seems to want to pressure MRC to do the right thing. Even the very gentle pressure of a voluntary moratorium that I suggested on 4/21 failed to get a Board majority. MRC, despite the threat of an initiative and the potential jeopardy to their much-prized Forest Stewardship Council certification, isn't moving. They will offer firebreaks, water tanks, perhaps move H&S back from residences and residential neighborhoods, but that's it. I find it impossible to participate in a public process to address the issue of catastrophic fire when one of the participants keeps (literally) adding fuel to the fire. — Dan”

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OF PSYCHOSIS, is the title of a new documentary about mental illness featuring a significant episode about the Aaron Bassler case.

(From their website—

The Backstory

The Bassler family story unfortunately ends in tragedy. Though endings involving someone with untreated severe mental illness becoming violent are all too commonly highlighted by the media, the years and decades preceding such endings are frequently overlooked despite being critically important in understanding the circumstance of this conclusion.

In Voices, the purpose of telling Aaron’s story wasn’t to focus on the ending, but rather to shine a light on everything that preceded it. Our hope was to tell the backstory and paint a picture of Aaron as his family remembers him, and also portray our societal role in contributing to these narratives. It was an amazing privilege to watch the strength of his family as they shared their story on camera, as it was clear that they wanted others to gain a better understanding of the human side of the psychotic experience for both the affected individual and family, and what events— and opportunities for intervention— lead up to some of these heartbreaking and sometimes preventable outcomes.

Gary Tsai, MD; Producer & Director

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When a person with mental illness can’t or won’t seek treatment, life goes on… for some. While most people with mental illness are well enough to seek and manage their own care, when individuals on the more severe end of the spectrum do not receive treatment, the consequences can be devastating. Because many people with conditions such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder experience episodes in which they are unable to acknowledge their illness or their need for help, they frequently do not seek treatment and only get connected with help during times of crisis.

While there are laws that allow for court-ordered treatment, the threshold for this intervention is understandably– and often regrettably– high, even for psychotic individuals. Social isolation, homelessness and incarceration are too commonly the end result.

The number of mentally ill people living on the streets and behind bars today is partly the legacy of the de-institutionalization movement in the 1950s, when nearly half a million people were released from residential mental health hospitals around the United States. The hope was that clinics in the community would be able to take responsibility for the care of these vulnerable individuals. However, promised community resources never materialized, and the resources that did were vastly insufficient to meet the needs of this population. It is now clear that the public policy goals of closing down substandard facilities to save on public health care costs were never fully realized.

Voices illustrates a range of experiences individuals and families have when their lives intersect with– or fall outside of– America’s mental health care system. Sharon lives in a long-term care facility where her schizophrenia is managed by professionals and a strong family network, surrounding and advocating for her, including a devoted brother, and son who is a physician. Thomas is an example of an untreated person who lives peaceably on the street and gets by, known as a gentle neighborhood character with an easy smile. Aaron Bassler’s story is the kind that too often makes headlines, ending in tragedy for his family, and several others. Bassler was known to be suffering from untreated mental illness when he shot and killed two people. He became the subject of a manhunt in the redwood forests of Northern California, and was ultimately shot to death by law enforcement. His father says the manhunt played right into his son’s paranoid psychosis. Aaron’s family knew he needed help, but had no success connecting him to mental health services in their community because Aaron never acknowledged his illness and subsequently refused help. … Aaron was an active boy growing up, following in his father’s footsteps and playing baseball throughout his childhood. After he was arrested for unusual behavior in his late teens, he slowly isolated himself from his family and friends, and became fixated on the belief that there was an impending alien invasion. As his thoughts became more and more troubling, he ended up living in the woods of Northern California while his father tried unsuccessfully to reach out for help and to avoid the tragedy that would eventually make national headlines.

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When it is purchased as a pre-constructed kit from Sand Creek Post and Barn, delivered on site, and assembled. These barns have a majestic rustic appearance with massive exposed beams and soaring ceilings which in themselves effect a feeling of spiritual space for assembled worshippers. The interior space will feature traditional church details, allowing for a seating capacity of 225 persons and provide room for meaningful participation. No longer will many of our community have to stand shoulder to shoulder for an hour in the rear of the small chapel of St Elizabeth Seton in Philo. The exterior appearance of the barn erected on the eight acres fronting Hwy 128 will fit nicely into the rural character of Anderson Valley.

Presently a Capital Campaign is being conducted by members of the Catholic community of the Valley, with a goal of $850,000 toward which $625,000 has been collected in cash and other assets. The Campaign gladly accepts onetime donations as well as 36 month pledges resulting in larger gifts. The Campaign is being directed by Anderson Valley native Gerald (Jerry) Cox, Director, John Schultz, Treasurer, Gloria Ross, Jeanne Collins, Coleen Schenk, Teresa Guerrero, and Jorge Mejia.

Donations and gifts can be sent to: St Elizabeth Seton Church, P.O. Box 761, Boonville, CA. 95415.

For more information contact Jerry Cox 895-3342 or John Schultz 801-580-1851.

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COMMENT OF THE DAY: I’ll admit that for several years I had some difficulty grasping the fine points of my wife Alice’s Law of Compensatory Cashflow. Alice would say something like, “We have that $500 we saved on the television set,” and I would nod quietly, meanwhile patting various pockets in a desperate effort to find it. I was not surprised at my difficulty in catching on. But I began to understand the advantages of Alice’s Law of Compensatory Cashflow rather suddenly one day when I realized that saving $33 over coach fare or $71 over first class by doing without the affliction of an airline meal on no-frills service called for spending at least $33 and perhaps $71 on a decent picnic lunch to see me through the flight.

— Calvin Trillin

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Dear Ms. Williams (Editor of the Willits News),

Regarding your article dated, April 29, 2015, "Willits City Council: Sphere of Influence," I would like to offer the following comments and questions.

The Mendocino County LAFCo seems to have been largely inactive (or not noticeably so, from Lake County's remove) until the change of Executive Directors in the last year or so. Nonetheless, it is strikingly odd that the City of Willits has not yet had a Sphere of Influence definition in alignment with the long-term transportation planning process conducted by CalTrans and the Mendocino COG.

How recently was the area within the potential Sphere of Influence (in three phases: 5, 10, and 20 year growth prediction horizons) rezoned, either as a comprehensive County Zoning Ordinance update or a General Plan Amendment and Rezone approved by the County's Board of Supervisors? Low-cost investment incentives for commercially rezoned parcels in proximity to the route exits and entrances that occurred prior to those zoning changes, or zoning changes made in favor of improvement project eligibility for public works, would indicate a consistent practice of unofficial planning that is a process facilitated by the Local Agency Formation Commission without public scrutiny.

The City's General Plan and ordinances are the groundwork for how the potential growth is used to the city's advantage or the unincorporated citizens' disadvantage, depending on which side of the boundary you live on. And chances are good the County's General Plan logistically excludes the presence of high-density population centers otherwise known as "cities" -- with their own taxation and public service authorities and limitations. At least, I know that in Lake County there are blank spots on the maps where County zoned lands surround city zoned lands, as though the road stops and you disappear after you cross the boundary line.

Where shared groundwater basins -- unincorporated and incorporated -- are concerned, the zoning and land use designations of parcels encompassing the groundwater basin recharge areas are likely to be unincorporated, some of which borders on the incorporated at the least occupied margins, thus becoming the location of "light" industry, or public service facilities like water, power, sewage, road construction, etc maintenance and services. New state-required Sustainable Groundwater Management Plan laws (passed last year) are going to force this discussion to be opened up, and likely to engage the Local Agency Formation Commission in the role of "neutral" tax exchange negotiators. Really, the Agency itself doesn't care one way or another about the actual land, it is a tax bartering agent between municipalities, with a few public conversations for the benefit of the paying public.

Lastly, I would really love to know if you know anyone in Willits area that is interested in the LAFCo process and what's wrong with this picture, as a matter of civic concern? I've spent the last few years engaging our Lake County LAFCo in the process of developing Municipal Service Reviews and Sphere of Influence Reports for several kinds of special districts, as well as both our cities -- Clearlake and Lakeport. While my awareness of the City of Willits falls far short of the Ukiah Area (mostly because of the watershed issues connected to Lake County water resources), I'm not completely ignorant of the town's dynamic community (and I am a daily reader of the Anderson Valley Advertiser, which occasionally reports on Mendo cities and governance such as your LAFCo).

This function, the long-term governance process called "planning" (sometimes also called "wishful thinking"), is so profoundly connected to your personal pocketbook, through district boundary establishments, expansions, consolidations, organizations, etc. -- all of which are paid for by public funds -- but people have very little awareness of its impacts or how it works. All the elected officials (Supervisors, Cities, and Special District Boards of Directors, plus a "member of the Public at Large") make decisions and deals with developers, that can cost the public if the facts are not accurate or complete. Standards of accuracy and completeness in Lake County are so poor as to be alarmingly sloppy -- leaves plenty of room for error, and is codified as local policy, approved by the Commission. Journalism should be applied to understanding how the gradual restructuring of city and county lands into profit centers really occurs, in cooperation with public health and safety service providers. By the time anything related to this kind of process comes to the City Council, the structure has been in place and achieved solidity long before.

I know there are real pol watchers in the Anderson Valley, I do hope you all will lend your attention to this belated struggle for responsible rural land use decisions -- better late than never?

Betsy Cawn

The Essential Public Information Center

Upper Lake

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At you'll find the recording of last night’s (2015-05-01) KNYO Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio show ready to download and keep or just play with one click.


Items from the MCN Announce listserv.

Steve Allen’s “The Public Hating” (written in 1955, about justice in 1978).

An exchange of anthropological email with Del Potter. Comtesse DeSpair.

CLG News.

Simple instruction as to how to give a woman a proper orgasm. For like six hours.

Also, by the way, Alex Bosworth came back from the dead and rang the phone.

I’ve been keeping my eyes open for exactly the right kind of thrift-store telephone that can be easily perverted to connect to a mixing board and finally let us put callers on the air on KNYO, and I found it @ $3.99). It has a flashing light for a ringer, and it has an audio output jack that gives a fair balance of caller and local volume. The sound quality is not great, compared to a true digital hybrid box, but that’s its charm; it will encourage someone in the radio audience to pungle up the bread, as the kids say, to get the right equipment sooner rather than later.

Further, at there are wholesale quantities of wonderful but not necessarily radio-useful items that I found while putting my show together. Such as:

Dry dog, wet dog.

A lovely animated quilt of Muybridge's horse twerking.


And "If this isn’t racism, what is?”


  1. Lazarus May 3, 2015

    “Allman insisted that his department had not excommunicated Anderson Valley and that when his department’s staffing is back up to full strength, Anderson Valley will get back its two authorized resident deputies.”

    As the meeting ended, Sheriff Allman thanked the group for their civil tone and willingness to listen. A wag in the room replied, “We can fix that.”

    Remove Anderson Valley from your story and insert Covelo and the parts still fit … with one major exception. Covelo is nearly lawless, don’t believe it? ask the locals. Can vigilantlyism be far away…? don’t believe it? ask the locals. Happy Birthday Sheriff…

  2. BB Grace May 3, 2015

    And “If this isn’t racism, what is?”

    The video that followed produced by “#stopthehate” answered the guestion beautifully.

    One may find the use of the word “racism” interesting in Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s CANCER WARD:

    Top of page 435: “yours isn’t a class attitude but a racial attitude. You’re a racist!”

    The story continues as a heated argument within the ward among terminal cancer patients, a communist, a socialist and a wanna be proletarian. The communist believes that all people must work and be paid equally (those who don’t work should be eliminated, per Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago) and argues that the socialist “races” for diffriation and wage structure, thus, human life is subjective in controlling government (Black Lives Matter). The proletarian is identified as a “blue collar” class, which supports a capitalist democratic republic and doesn’t have a chance in Hell against a socialist race or communist revolution, as both destroy capital in the name of equality.

  3. John Sakowicz May 3, 2015


    I can’t disagree with the “sodden thought of the day” regarding KZYX. Indeed, KZYX is beyond meaningful reform given its current governance structure.


    Because governance is fatally flawed. It was set up that way from the beginning. We have the station’s founder, a con man named Sean Donovan, to thank.

    Bottom line: The station needs to die, if it is to be reborn.

    Die how?

    The FCC should yank the station’s finances, and the CPB should yank its funding. The IRS and California Secretary of State should yank the station’s nonprofit status.

    What happens next?

    A community of like-minded people, who truly believe in community governance of a community radio station, a la KMUD, should organize to incorporate as a new radio station, and they should apply for the FCC licenses, CPB funding, and tax-exempt status.

    What’s nonnegotiable?

    KZYX’s useless, overpaid staff — Coate, Aigner, Steffen, and Culbertson — and all of the KZYX Rubber Stamp Board of Directors, and most of the tedious, irrelevant programmers, should be run out of town.

    They should all be banished forever from public radio in Mendocino County, and have no connection whatsoever to the new station.

    What would the new station look like?

    It should look like community radio — not public radio. Public radio puts the emphasis on NPR and strip programming over what a herd of independent minds can do.

    What is community radio?

    Community radio broadcasts content that is popular and relevant to a local, specific audience but is often overlooked by commercial or mass-media broadcasters.

    Community radio stations are operated, owned, and influenced by the communities they serve. They are generally nonprofit and provide a mechanism for enabling individuals, groups, and communities to tell their own stories, to share experiences and, in a media-rich world, to become creators and contributors of media.

    Who would operate the new station?

    The new station should have only one salaried staff member — a chief engineer.

    The balance of the station’s budget should go towards infrastructure improvements — new equipment and technology. This would include whatever it takes to prevent the dead air, fuzz outs, and irritating scratchy signal that listeners frequently experience now.

    Also, the new chief engineer should ensure that all public affairs shows are archived.

    Shows should also be available as podcasts and RSS feeds. RSS — which stands for Really Simple Syndication — is a convenient way to get audio, video, and text content.

    An iPhone app should be developed for the new station.

    Links between individual shows and social media, like Facebook, Twitter, Gmail-Google+, should be created.

    Links to LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, VK, Flickr, and Vine, should also be considered, as time and resources permit.

    Every public affairs show should have a corresponding blog.

    The station’s new chief engineer should also facilitate public affairs shows being posted to the Public Radio Exchange and Radio4All for the widest possible distribution.

    The new station’s public affairs shows should also be videotaped for distribution to Mendocino Access Television.

    Additionally, the station’s main studio should be moved to Ukiah.

    Very importantly, a Community Advisory Board and a Program Advisory Committee should be formed, and they should be as functional and powerful as the new station’s Board of Directors.

    My personal hope is that programming at the new station should have local news and public affairs as its main focus. Quality programming is what we want. The highest quality programming from the most professional programmers. It will help us attract the next generation of underwriters. (More about underwriters at the end of this letter in the interactive properties section.)

    Who will be among the new station’s programmers?

    Several familiar faces. K.C. Meadows. Norman De Vall. Doug McKenty. Beth Bosk. Marco McClean. Mary Massey. Els Cooperrider. I would invite them all. And I would recruit only the best through the CAB and PAC.

    Another thing. The new station, which will be a full-power FM station, should collaborate with local low-power stations, like KMEC and KNYO.

    Finally, and very importantly, the station’s members should be allowed — encouraged — to communicate with one another via a listserv set up for that purpose. The member listserv stresses involvement and participation by the member — so important at a true community radio station.

    A bucket list-type of thing to consider at the new station?

    Interactive properties.

    Interactive properties will help the new station attract underwriters in new and exciting ways. A greater emphasis on underwriting revenues will relieve what was once KZYX’s heavy emphasis on its numerous, insufferable pledge drives.

    Interactive properties will capitalize on an audience that is highly informed and on the cutting edge of news, politics and culture.

    Our underwriters will understand that our audience at the new station will not only has access to radio and television programming, but also have access to a multitude of information ranging from educational resources to upcoming events in northern California. Our audience will also extend beyond Northern California with programming available through live streaming.

    Many businesses, donors, and organizations will find the new station’s audience to be particularly appropriate for their messages. These are our new underwriters.

    The new station’s emphasis on quality programming will attract the audience that our underwriters seek, which is most notably distinguished by its education level and its professional and financial successes.

    Online opportunities for underwriters will include:
    1. Web Banners on the new station’s website: full-page and section sponsorships,
    2. Live Audio Streams at the new station that will enable pre-roll sponsorship and online Video sponsorship,
    3. Member Newsletter at the new station, and
    4. Email newsletters blasts.

    What I would not do?

    I would not recommend that the new station join the National Federation of Community Broadcasters.

    The National Federation of Community Broadcasters was formed in 1975 as an umbrella organization for some community-oriented, noncommercial radio stations. It has been sharply criticized for encouraging the homogenization of community stations through its Healthy Station Project. The project encouraged stations to scale back volunteers’ power over management and the content of their programs, as well as to embrace more-predictable “strip” programming.

    Instead, I would recommend that the new station join the Grassroots Radio Coalition. It is a loose coalition of stations which formed as a reaction against increasing commercialization of public radio, the centralization of power in salaried management, and the lack of support for volunteers and their programs.

    How do I know all this?

    By talking to folks at the FCC. Let’s not forget that I had two FCC commissioners on my show back when I was at KZYX, including an FCC Board chair. I also speak with folks at the CPB. Many of them. And I’ve spoken with numerous attorneys and community radio statio people.

    Their collective wisdom?

    KZYX is too broken to fix. Continue to file complaints with the FCC, CPB, the IRS, and California Secretary of State. Encourage others to do the same. Document your case. Make the complaints culumlative. Pile them up. Like a punch drunk fighter, KZYX will eventually fail.

    If KZYX doesn’t fail, sue them. A lawsuit will bankrupt the station for sure. It’s already morally and ethically bankrupt.

    Then, start a new station.

    A true community radio station. Something bright and shining. Something smart. Something local. Something edgy. Something that is “alternative”, “radical” or “citizen” radio.

    Somewhere the FCC wants to issue licences. Somewhere the CPB wants to fund. Somewhere underwriters want to flock. Somewhere the community really participates. Somewhere involvement and participation by the member is its own reward.

    It’s the right time. Radio is experiencing a revival, in part because of podcasting’s popularity and because more young people are now seeing radio as cool.

    Radio is cool.

    • james marmon May 3, 2015

      “The station needs to die, if it is to be reborn.”

      Be careful that they don’t try to get a restraining order against you for using such language, I’ve seen some pretty crazy stuff happen in Mendocino County.

  4. John Sakowicz May 3, 2015

    Hi James Marmon. Restraining order? I’d love the publicity. All 126 of us here at Facebook’s “KZYX Members for Change” would love it. The more the public knows about KZYX, the less they support it.

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