- Sage Words
- Where's Lisa?
- Traffic Stop
- Yesterday's Catch
- Candidate Bernie
- Respect App
- HHSA Collapse
- Lopez Depositions
- Greeks Vote "No"
- KMEC Radio
A RECENT UKIAH DAILY JOURNAL Q&A with Ukiah's $262k/year city manager Sage Sangiacomo was called “Sangiacomo explains his goals, priorities.” In it we learn that one of Sangiacomo's ideas for “promoting improvement of the downtown/School Street area” is: “…the city has worked diligently to ensure the state's development of a new courthouse is in the downtown with well-planned public infrastructure to support accessibility with neighboring commercial and business areas.”
FIRST OFF, the proposed County Courthouse is not in what most people consider Ukiah's downtown, and certainly not near School Street. The new Courthouse will be located near the foot of West Perkins, a long three blocks from the present County Courthouse across the tracks where essential court-related services, including the DA, will remain. It has also been pulled off completely outside any local processes.
SECOND, this thing is supposed to be a County Courthouse. The County has not been consulted, of course, and if it were put to a County vote the result would be a resounding NO to a new Courthouse because the old one is perfectly — well, ok, imperfectly serviceable. But for the money spent on a new structure housing only the County's nine judges, the present courthouse could be made really, really nice.
THIRD, one might ordinarily assume a city manager would work to strengthen what's left of Ukiah's blitzed downtown, not help administer its coup de grace.
FOURTH, You'd think that for $262k a year from Sangiacomo we'd at least get an honest assessment of the proposed new courthouse, which is NOT downtown and has no "public infrastructure to support accessibility with neighboring commercial and business areas." And there's nothing in the public record about anything remotely describable as "well-planned" in downtown Ukiah, much less a new courthouse several blocks away from the city center. Nor is there any mention of what will happen to the old courthouse, which is County property, not city property.
WHY THE UKIAH CITY COUNCIL is paying this guy so much money is, I suppose, a matter for Ukiah voters to mull over, but fiscal and planning imprudence like he's already bringing us could have been obtained for a lot less.
OUR NINE JUDGES? More judges per capita than any county in the state? We need 9 of them as much as we need a new courthouse to house them.
WHERE'S LISA? Lisa Walters, long-time reporter for the ICO, Gualala. We've tried to discover Lisa's whereabouts and, if Lisa's whereabouts can be determined, her welfare. The newspaper said they weren't “at liberty” to tell me, although they know that Lisa and I have been friends for many years. We're appealing here, therefore, for Lisa to call us, or for someone out there in the fog belt who knows Lisa to let us know how she is doing.
A FRIEND OF MINE describes his Freedom Day adventure: "I was on my way to the Marin County Fair yesterday afternoon and I was pulled over in downtown San Anselmo for failing to come to a complete stop at two stop signs. The officer asked me if I'd had any alcohol and I told her I'd had two seven ounce beers in the previous two hours. She proceeded to give me a full DUI test, physical tests, etc., as well as ask me a slew of questions like was I on medication, under medical care, even if I went to college. The test included a breathalyzer. I passed. I was puzzled because two seven ounce beers is not nearly enough to make a 250 pound man impaired. So I was wondering what it was about me that was making the officer so suspicious of me being drunk. My only guess is that maybe she didn't believe me that I'd only had two seven ounce beers, or that because of the July 4th holiday she was on the lookout for drunk drivers."
CATCH OF THE DAY, July 5, 2015
MARCELINO ANGUIANO, Ukiah. Vehicle theft, under influence of controlled substance, reckless causing of fire, possession of drugs while armed, false ID.
DIMAS CEJA, Ukiah. Resisting arrest.
WILLIAM EDDIE, Potter Valley. Burglary, 2nd Degree, commercial.
RODOLFO GONZALES-ALVAREZ, Ukiah. Resisting arrest.
WILLIAM HOLT, Ukiah. Drunk in public.
KRIS INGWELL, Fort Bragg. Fugitive from justice.
MICHAEL MCCLELLAN, Fort Bragg. Domestic assault.
PATRICK SHECKELLS, Willits. Possession of pot for sale, possession of controlled substance, possession of smoking-injecting device.
JEREMY SCHENCK, Ukiah. DUI.
TRAVIS SIMS, Oakland/Ukiah. Possession of controlled substance for sale.
MAJOR WILLIAMS III, Oakland. Possession of controlled substance for sale, evasion.
YEAH, YEAH. Bernie Sanders doesn't have a chance to get the Democratic nomination, but he should be supported in the mean time. And it's a very mean time, politically speaking, given that Hillary and Bush are assumed to be locks as The Choice. The only question we have about ol' Bern is the same one lots of people have — will he go third party or will he be up there for the rigged convention's mega photo-op with the rest of the Unspeakables, all of them grinning for Hil.
WE'RE ASSUMING that Bernie will cave, that he'll stay with the Unspeakables, that he'll not only get behind Hillary, he'll stump for her on the hoary basis that she'll make better Supreme Court nominations than Bush will, although outside The Bubble where all our officeholders presently live, the country's deterioration will accelerate at the prospect of yet another choice between Awful and Unthinkable.
WE VOTED for the Green Party's Jill Stein last time around, and before her we twice voted for Nader. She's pretty much the same as Bernie on the issues — much better on Israel than Bernie, who's the usual blank check for the Israeli fascisti — and she won't be up on the big Demo stage grinning for Hillary because, as a Green, she's already outside the Democrat's sclerotic embrace. Stein will still be a great candidate for the millions of us presently beating the drums for Bernie Sanders when Bernie sells out.
OR, AS JOHN HALLE PUTS IT:
1) It is not a question of whether the Democratic Party establishment will attempt to smear and destroy the Sanders insurgency if it manages to get more of a foothold but when and how they do so. (This has, of course, already begun, see, e.g. here and here.)
1) almost certain to be successful. Though they might not have to use it. (See 3).
3) Related to 2), according to two reputable press accounts, the NY State Democratic Party will not allow Sanders to compete in their primary. If that is so, Sanders won’t be able to acquire enough delegates for a win, and the campaign is effectively already over.
4) Once the campaign is over — either sooner or later — the question becomes what it always has been: In what direction will Sanders supporters (i.e., the principled left in the DP and outside) channel their activism? Will they be able to form a Syriza-style insurgency. Again, history does not make one optimistic, but this time could be different.
Of course, that’s the only question which matters.
* * *
THE HITS on Sanders have begun, with a snide piece in the July 4th edition of the NYT where Sanders is described as bringing an “unapologetic leftist message.” Anybody to the left of Clinton Democrats should apologize? The Sanders piece explores the youthful Sanders political positions, all of which were shared by millions of young people, few of whom were apologetic then or now.
COUNTY ON WRONG PATH
To the Editor of the Ukiah Daily Journal:
Thank you for your spot-on June 5, 2015, editorial (Change Needed Fast) highlighting the recent Grand Jury report about Child and Family Services and encouraging active response from the county.
We understand well the need for the county to be fiscally responsible and there is no question that the County is in a stronger financial position today than at the peak of the recession. But at what cost?
What is the purpose of a County government if not to serve all of its population? The Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) is comprised of Mental Health, Public Health and Social Services. There have been and continue to be parts of that agency that struggle, but these organizations used to be innovative and creative. In many cases they employed what were regarded as “best practices” within and outside of our State. Sadly, these days are over.
As close observers of the collapse in quality, we can attest that the County’s top management seemed obsessed with reducing the County workforce and related retirement fund liability at any cost. We experienced or observed a variety of strategies: 10% pay cuts, failure to negotiate in good faith with employee bargaining units, layoffs, hiring freezes, elimination or privatization of services, unrealistic and unmanageable workloads, unnecessary bureaucratization and a culture of disempowerment and intimidation.
In the name of keeping staff low, the County has made it its policy not to pursue grant dollars to augment existing funding sources and provide additional services to its population.
We are part of the wave of employees who chose to voluntarily leave county employment. Choosing to leave was a less than optimal financial decision for each of us. However, the loss of some measure of future financial security was a small price to pay for our peace of mind. We no longer wished to work within an atmosphere that was no longer supportive of either clients or staff. We hope that our names and respected positions in this community will encourage the Board of Supervisors to look closely at the strategies to manage HHSA as well as other County Departments.
Signed (in alphabetical order),
Elaine Boults, B.S. Administrative Services Mgr II, 9.5 years County service
Linda Helland, MPH, CPH, Sr Program Mgr, 14 years
Leslie Kirkpatrick, BA, CS SAC, AODP, Program Director, Supervisor, Sr. Program Mgr, Administrator, 17 years, 7 months
MaryLou Leonard, MPA, Deputy Director, Sr Program Mgr, Adult & Aging Services, 7 yrs
Kathleen Stone, B.A. Sr Program Mgr, 7 years, (homeless services grants administration)
Cass Taaning, BS, Sr. Program Specialist, Public Health, 8 years
* * *
A READER WRITES: (As soon as I saw this letter in the Ukiah Daily Journal I suspected you’d want to run it so I thought I’d send it to you, along a few comments since I have some experience with this subject and these particular former County employees. For obvious reasons, I prefer not to sign this, so I doubt the Journal would ever publish them.)
The recent Mendocino Grand Jury report on Family and Children's Services (incorrectly called Child and Family Services by the letter signers) convincingly documents that the current system of children’s services is near collapse and that children are needlessly placed at increased risk of abuse and neglect because of that. The County certainly needs to take immediate steps to increase the education, experience and training level of its child social workers to keep it from getting any worse. But the helping professionals who signed this letter display a bit of an opportunistic flair. Only one of them, for instance, actually worked in children's services, the subject of the Grand Jury report. And all of them, by their own statements, could be considered disgruntled former employees, so it is no surprise they are critical of their former employer. Two, in fact, were being investigated for mismanagement of grant funds when they chose to resign. And all of them seem to reminisce about a golden era when the rest of the state looked to Mendo for creative and innovative leadership, a time few other observers recall. County line staff, the ones doing the real helping work, are underpaid, which is at least partly a function of our poor rural economy on top of the harsh pay cuts the County imposed after the recession which hit line staff particularly hard. Those line workers are often underappreciated — a function of the County’s top heavy and dysfunctional bureaucratic admin structure that promotes people more on friendship and personal loyalty than competency. For this reason, line staff are often unwilling to accept promotions, preferring instead to focus on doing their jobs and providing what help they can to their clients. It is unlikely that increasing pay alone will do much to solve the problems in child welfare (or HHSA) unless something is also done to fix a culture that discourages competent employees from taking promotions. The letter signers became Senior Program Managers during the mythical golden era that only they remember. Which was also before Social Services, Mental Health, and Public Health were merged to become the Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA). I’m not the only one with criticisms of how that merger was structured, but it brought an unwelcome level of accountability, in particular to Public Health, which has always enjoyed a fairly loose island culture accountable to no one. Not surprisingly, three of the signers are veterans of that Public Health culture who fought the merger and who kept fighting it, even during the implementation stage. In fact, the County has always lagged well behind anything like an optimum level and quality of service, especially in Mental Health, which, for several large reasons, had been declining for decades before it was privatized two years ago. I agree with the AVA that the County needs to hold Ortner Management Group financially and professionally accountable, but I’m cautiously optimistic that their level of mental health services seems to be on the upswing. I agree with the letter signers and the Grand Jury that the County system is overly bureaucratic with a top down management style that discourages competent people from management ranks and stifles creativity and innovation. But this is not new; it has existed before, it existed when these letter signers were County employees, and it will continue to exist as long as Official Mendocino promotes grant writers, brownnosers and experts in bureaucratic blather to management positions.
DEPUTIES’ DEPOSITIONS FILL IN DETAILS IN THE MURDER OF 13 YEAR OLD ANDY LOPEZ
GREEKS DEFY EUROPE WITH OVERWHELMING ‘NO’
by Menelaos Hadjicostis & Derek Gatopoulos
Athens, Greece — Voters in Greece resoundingly rejected creditors' demands for more austerity in return for rescue loans Sunday, backing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who insisted the vote would give him a stronger hand to reach a better deal.
The opposition accused Tsipras of jeopardizing the country's membership in the 19-nation club that uses the euro and said a "yes" vote was about keeping the common currency.
With 87% of the votes counted, the "no" side had more than 60%.
"Today we celebrate the victory of democracy," Tsipras, who gambled the future of his five-month-old left-wing government on the vote, said in an address to the nation.
Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said Sunday night that creditors planned from the start to shut down banks to humiliate Greeks and force them to make a statement of contrition for showing that debt and loans are unsustainable.
On Sunday night's result, he said that "'no' is a big 'yes' to democratic Europe. It's a no to the vision of Europe an infinite cage for its people. It is a loud yes to the vision of the Eurozone as a common area of prosperity and social justice."
Thousands of government supporters gathered in central Athens in celebration, waving Greek flags and chanting "No, No, No."
"We don't want austerity measures anymore, this has been happening for the last five years and it has driven so many into poverty, we simply can't take any more austerity," said Athens resident Yiannis Gkovesis, 26, holding a large Greek flag in the city's main square.
Governing left-wing Syriza party Eurodeputy Dimitris Papadimoulis said that "Greek people are proving they want to remain in Europe" as equal members "and not as a debt colony." The referendum was Greece's first in 41 years.
Minister of State Nikos Papas, speaking on Alpha television, said it would be "wrong to link a 'no' result to an exit from the eurozone. If a 'no' prevails that will help us get a better agreement."
Tsipras' high-stakes brinkmanship with lenders from the eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund resulted in Greece defaulting on its debts this week and shutting down its banks to avoid their collapse. He called the referendum last weekend, giving both sides just a week to campaign.
"Today, democracy is defeating fear ... I am very optimistic," Tsipras said earlier in the day after voting in in Athens.
European officials had openly urged Greeks to vote against the government's recommendation. The leaders of Germany and France called for a European Union summit Tuesday to discuss the situation.
"I hope people say 'yes,'" European Parliament President Martin Schulz told German public radio. "If after the referendum, the majority is a 'no,' they will have to introduce another currency because the euro will no longer be available for a means of payment."
Belgian Finance Minister Johan Van Overtveldt was one of the first eurozone ministers to react to the initial results.
"This likely 'no' complicates matters," he told Belgium's VRT network, but insisted the door remained open to resume talks with the Greek government within hours.
The vote was held amid banking restrictions imposed last Monday to halt a bank run, with Greeks queuing up at ATMs across the country to withdraw a maximum 60 euros per day. Banks have been shut all week, and it is uncertain when they will reopen. Large lines once again formed at ATMs on Sunday.
Daniel Tsangaridis, a 35-year-old Athens resident, said he didn't expect banks to reopen soon, despite a government pledge that they would do so Tuesday.
"It's not going to happen in the next 48 hours," he said. "If the situation improves and we can have a deal, then the banks will open."
Of critical importance will be whether the European Central Bank decides to maintain its current lifeline to Greece in the form of emergency liquidity assistance, or ELA. The assistance, currently at around 90 billion euros, has been maintained but not increased in past days, leaving the country's financial system in a stranglehold.
Sunday's vote was held after a week of capital controls imposed to halt a bank run, with Greeks restricted to a daily cash withdrawal maximum of 60 euros ($67). Long lines have formed at ATMs across the country, while pensioners without bank cards have thronged the few bank branches opened to allow them access to a maximum 120 euros for the week.
The ECB operates on rules according to which it can only continue ELA funding if Greece is in a bailout. Without an increase, it is unclear how much longer people will be allowed to withdraw 60 euros per day. Some analysts say Greece is so starved of cash that it could be forced to start issuing its own currency.
No country has ever left the 19-member eurozone, established in 1999.
The margin of victory was far wider than expected, and is likely to strengthen the young prime minister's defiance toward Europe. Tsipras was voted into office in January on a promise to repeal bailout austerity.
"This victory for the 'no' camp will unfortunately embolden the government, but is likely to do little to convince the creditors that Tsipras is a trustworthy negotiating partner who has any ability to implement a deal," said Megan Greene, chief economist of Manulife Asset Management. "Keep in mind that any deal for Greece will involve a much larger fiscal adjustment than the one on which Greeks voted today. I don't think that Germany in particular will be willing to make any concessions for Tsipras."
There was confusion Sunday night over the fate of bank safety deposit boxes, with Deputy Finance Minister Nadia Valavani saying people would be allowed to remove items from them, but not cash, and Alternate Finance Minister Dimitris Mardas later said the issue would have to be taken up by lawmakers.
Queues at ATMs swelled as the initial results came in. Later, those supporting an end to austerity celebrated.
"We don't want austerity measures anymore. This has been happening for the last five years and it has driven so many into poverty, we simply can't take any more austerity," said Yiannis Gkovesis, 26, holding a large Greek flag in the capital's main square.
Constantinos Papanikolas, 73, clutched a Greek flag as he walked along a main Athens street. He said the result meant "a fresh start, a new page for Greece and for Europe, which has condemned its people to poverty."
"We look to new negotiations not to impoverish and enslave people, but to bring them to prosperity and freedom," he said. "We believe this vote will make a difference."
Opposition conservative New Democracy lawmaker Vangelis Meimarakis said he was expecting Tsipras to keep his pledge for a quick deal.
"If we don't have an agreement within 48 hours as the prime minister promised, then we are being led to a tragedy," he said.
Official referendum website: http://www.referendum2015gov.gr/en/
(Courtesy, the Associated Press)
* * *
COMMENTS RECORDED by Greeks celebrating the NO vote:
Hard-working families in Kypseli, a middle-class district in central Athens, told MailOnline how their country had ‘done everything their creditors had asked’ but now they had had enough.
Meanwhile riot police took up positions on street corners across the capital amid growing uncertainty at what the next episode of Greece’s financial crisis will be.
Ceasar Mokbel, who holds down two jobs to make ends meet, expressed the views of many when he described how the financial medicine imposed by Brussels had not worked.
Mr. Mokbel, 30, told MailOnline: ‘Whatever Europe has asked of us for the past five years we have done. But it didn’t make our situation any better.
‘I work two jobs — working 16 hours a day — to make ends meet. I work in a pharmaceutical company during the day and I make deliveries at night.
‘I have to, to support my family, my parents. I cannot get married because there is no money. All my friends are in a similar situation, working two jobs to make ends meet.
‘The people who voted ‘yes’ [to accept the conditions required to continue EU loan/financial support] have done so because they have a couple of thousand euros in the bank and they are afraid of losing it.
‘But accepting more of this medicine is not going to cure the Greek economy.’
Unemployed French teacher Chryssa Zouli, 32, said: ‘I voted no. I voted with my heart because whatever the outcome will be it will be bad for Greece.
‘I think the EU will back down. All of these threats to kick us out of the EU have been a tactic to make us do what they want.’
Air-conditioning engineer Thomas Kyriakis said: ‘Life has been really tough. There’s no money and the price of everything has gone up — household bills and food at the supermarket.
‘I have voted no. Whatever the outcome it would have been bad for Greece. But ‘no’ was the best of the bad options.
‘The Germans have said that if we vote no they will give us no more money but I think they are bluffing.’
Unemployed interior designer, mother-of-one, Anthi Theochari, 32, said: ‘I worked for five months without being paid. ‘I blame all the previous governments for losing my job.
‘I support [hard-left government] Syriza and I voted no. I blame our own [Greek] politicians for the mess we are in.’
A pensioner, who asked not to be identified, added: ‘Germans are not very nice people. I lived through the war and they killed our people and took everything from us. Now it is like to war all over again.’
* * *
APPARENTLY US MAJOR MEDIA was surprised by the high percentage of “no” votes on the Greek Euro/Eurozone referendum. But people who were there, including a visitor/AVA reader sent along these two pictures saying that similar graffiti was all over Athens in the run-up to the vote. We’re no experts in Greek, but we understand that “oxi” is Greek for “no.” The first picture equates the Euro with Nazi-ism, which might be a bit much, but indicative of the popular attitude in Greece.
* * *
KMEC RADIO is pleased to bring you a special edition show that we're calling, "Crying Wolf: Are 'Terror Warnings' Like Fake 911 Calls?" Adam Johnson is our guest. Our show airs on Monday, July 6, at 1 p.m., Pacific Time. John and Sid are your hosts.
KMEC Radio airs at 105.1 FM in Ukiah, CA. We also stream from the web at www.kmecradio.org
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We broadcast our shows from the Mendocino Environmental Center. Please support KMEC Radio, the Mendocino Environmental Center, and the Cloud Forest Institute by becoming a member at: http://www.kmecradio.org/donate/
Johnson just wrote the piece "Zero for 40 at Predicting Attacks: Why Do Media Still Take FBI Terror Warnings Seriously?" for the media watch group FAIR about sensationalist mainstream media outlets repeating "the latest press release by the FBI that country was under a new 'heightened terror alert' from 'ISIL-inspired attacks'" for July 4.
Johnson writes: "CNN led with the breathless warning on several of its cable programs, complete with a special report by Jim Sciutto of 'The Lead' in primetime.
"The threat was given extra credence when former CIA director -- and consultant at D.C. PR firm Beacon Global Strategies -- Michael Morell went on CBS 'This Morning' (6/29/15) and scared the ever-living bejesus out of everyone by saying he 'wouldn’t be surprised if we were sitting [in the studio] next week discussing an attack on the U.S.' The first piece of evidence Morell used to justify his apocalyptic posture, the '50 ISIS arrests,' was accompanied by a scary map on the CBS jumbotron showing 'ISIS arrests' all throughout the U.S.
"But one key detail is missing from this graphic: None of these 'ISIS arrests' involved any actual members of ISIS, only members of the FBI -- and their network of informants -- posing as such ... the viewer is left thinking the FBI arrested 50 actual ISIS sleeper cells....
"Nevertheless, the ominous FBI (or Department of Homeland Security) 'terror warning' has become such a staple of the on-going, seemingly endless 'war on terror' (d/b/a war on ISIS), we hardly even notice it anymore. Marked by a feedback loop of extremist propaganda, unverifiable claims about 'online chatter' and fuzzy pronouncements issued by a never ending string of faceless Muslim bad guys, and given PR cover by FBI-contrived 'terror plots,' the specter of the impending 'attack' is part of a broader white noise of fear that never went away after 9/11. Indeed, the verbiage employed by the FBI in this latest warning -- 'we’re asking people to remain vigilant' -- implies no actual change of the status quo, just an hysterical nudge to not let down our collective guard.
"There’s only one problem: These warnings never actually come to fruition. Not rarely, or almost never, but -- by all accounts -- never. No attacks, no arrests, no suspects at large." Johnson lists forty previous FBI and DHS 'terror warnings' over the past 14 years, none of which actually predicted or foiled an attack.
One aspect of this, Johnson writes, is the "FBI, like all agencies of the government, does not operate in a political vacuum. Emphasizing the 'ISIS threat' at home necessarily helps prop up the broader war effort the FBI’s boss, the president of the United States, must sell to a war-weary public. The incentive is to therefore highlight the smallest threats. This was a feature that did not go unnoticed during the Bush years, but has since fallen out of fashion."
— John Sakowicz