- Driver Apprehended
- Supes FB
- Laytonville Stabbings
- Groundwater Management
- Groin Shot
- Yesterday's Catch
- Bridge Collapse
- Female Horrors
- Immigration Issue
- LandTrust Fundraiser
- NSSL Fair
- Fishy Story
- Navarro River
- Restaurant Moves
- Cannabis Economy
- Deadzone Flyover
- Noyo Boat
- Inside MCERA
- Stocking Men
- Library Events
- Being Mortal
- Faith Performance
- PA Agenda
- Berries & Cream
- Tuba Skinny
- Art Mix
AN UPDATED CHP PRESS RELEASE issued Monday afternoon reported that the hit&run driver who ran over and killed coast cyclist Jacob Aaron Howard a week ago Sunday about two miles south of Fort Bragg had been apprehended, arrested and booked at the Mendocino County Jail. The red truck that hit Mr. Howard was taken into evidence. The CHP declined to identify the arrested individual saying that a booking photo would be posted soon. However, as of late Monday night, the arrested hit&run driver remains unidentified.
JUST IN (Tuesday morning): A Fort Bragg man was in custody Tuesday, suspected of being the driver in a hit-and-run crash that killed a Fort Bragg bicycle rider, the CHP said. CHP officers Monday afternoon arrested Isabel Gutierrezvillarreal, 41, on suspicion of felony hit-and-run causing death and vehicular manslaughter. Rider Jacob Aaron Howard, 36, had been on a bike ride along Highway 1 the afternoon of July 12 when he was hit by a red pickup truck whose driver didn’t stop, the CHP said.
FORT BRAGG/MENDO SUPES MEETING TO BE AIRED TUESDAY 10:00 AM — will discuss proposed Highway 20 trash transfer site. City Meeting Live Stream and Meeting Archives | Fort Bragg, CA
This Page allows you to view a live stream of the city's Planning Commission and City council meetings. Other meetings held at Town Hall may be available here as well: CITY.FORTBRAGG.COM
JUST IN (Tuesday morning): "Please be advised that Taken Clark Barton, the 19-year-old suspect in the Laytonville killings of two people and the attempted murder of two others, appeared in Mendocino County Superior Court at 8:30 a.m. today. Judge David Nelson appointed Public Defender Linda Thompson to represent Barton. Arraignment and entry of pleas were continued to 1:30 p.m. Aug. 4. Judge Nelson granted District Attorney David Eyster's request for no bail in the case." --Mike Geniella, Public Information
(UPDATE) A FRENZIED midnight knife attack Sunday two miles northwest of Laytonville has left a 17-year-old boy and a 52-year-old man dead. Two other persons at the Meadow Lane home of a prominent Laytonville doctor were also stabbed but are expected to survive.
(JUST IN late Monday afternoon. 17-year-old Teo Palmieri of Laytonville was stabbed to death as was his father, 52-year-old Coleman Palmieri of Laytonville.)
19-YEAR-OLD Talen Clark Barton, 145 pounds and six feet tall, has been arrested. He made no effort to flee the residence and did not attack either of two teenage girls in the home. Barton was enrolled at Humboldt State University and had attended the Willits Charter School. As a high school student, he'd threatened his Laytonville foster mother with a 15-pound weight, crashing it through the floor of her home. Barton was arrested for that episode. The murdered 17-year-old was best friend to his killer and had urged his family to take Barton in after his former foster mother, Denise Shields, expressed fear for her life.
THE TWO injured persons surviving Barton's attacks were a second 52-year-old-man and a 54-year-old woman visiting from Newfoundland in Canada. They had apparently tried to stop the mayhem when Barton turned on them. A deputy, as yet unnamed, was able to stanch the neck wounds to the 54-year-old woman until emergency responders arrived, said Sheriff Tom Allman in a 4pm Sunday press conference at his Ukiah headquarters. All four victims were repeatedly stabbed by Barton, who was wielding what the Sheriff described as "twelve-inch kitchen knife."
BARTON, whose relatives say he exhibited signs of uncontrollable volatility as a teenager, was booked into the Mendocino County Jail early Sunday morning on two counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder.
SHERIFF TOM ALLMAN said the killer himself made the first and only 911 call at about 12:45am at the request of a teenage girl in the home. The Sheriff said that after the attack that killed two people and left two others near death, Barton changed his "blood-soaked" clothes and smoked marijuana while he waited for deputies to arrive and chatted with the 911 dispatcher who kept him on the line. Barton told arriving deputies that he is a heavy marijuana smoker.
FIRST REPORTS, unconfirmed, say that Barton, originally from the Los Angeles area, was placed in the Shields' Laytonville home by an outside foster agency. The Sheriff said that North County deputies had a previous "contact" with Barton as a juvenile in January of 2013, adding that another youth had said that Barton had recently talked about "killing someone."
LES CRANE, a well-known marijuana advocate, was murdered in a bloody home invasion robbery northeast of Laytonville in November of 2005. There have been several murders in Laytonville between the 2005 killing of Crane and Barton's homicidal rampage Sunday night, but none of them were as unsettling. Crane's murder has never been solved, Barton's maniacal killings await explanation.
* * *
VICTIMS WERE LIKE FAMILY TO MURDER SUSPECT
THE SUSTAINABLE GROUNDWATER MANAGEMENT ACT
by Anne Fashauer
Last Wednesday I attended a workshop sponsored by the Farm Bureau, the Anderson Valley Wine Growers Association and Mendocino Winegrowers Inc. regarding the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). There were four speakers on the subject — Jack Rice from the California Farm Bureau Federation, Devon Jones from the Mendocino County Farm Bureau, Zach Robinson from Husch Vineyards and Estelle Clifton from North Coast Resource Management.
Rice gave an overview of SGMA, what it is, where and who it affects and when it will go into effect. The SGMA is an act passed last year that regulates groundwater in certain basins in California. This is different than the surface water regulation already in effect, regulated by the State Water Resources Conservation Board (SWRCB). This is regulation of the water that comes out of wells (groundwater) in certain geographic areas (basins) in the state.
There were 515 basins identified that provide 40-60% of California's water; these basins are alluvial and they exclude mountains, fractured rock and volcanic rock. These basins were then rated by priority — very low, low, medium and high. The ratings were based on criteria such as population, wells, population growth, irrigated acreage and other things; Anderson Valley is rated, for now, as very low. Each of the criteria was given a point and the points were added up and that total generated a priority rating. While Anderson Valley's numbers rated it Medium, other factors (mainly our low population) reduced this to zero — or very low.
What everyone should keep in mind is that in 2017 the state is going to re-evaluate the basins and look at other factors — such as salmon populations and how rivers are being affected — and these factors could change Anderson Valley's rating and make the Valley subject to SGMA.
In basins subject to SGMA a Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) will need to be created; this must be a public agency. In the Valley this could be the CSD; it could also be the County. The Ukiah Valley is has a medium rating and it is currently having to comply; what happens over there will likely set a precedent for what could happen here. The Anderson Valley basin runs from near Robinson Creek in the South to north of Hendy Woods State Park near the headwaters of the Navarro. It consists of just under 5,000 acres. It is important to remember that this does not just affect farmers; just because this workshop was put on by the agriculture industry doesn't mean this isn't going to affect anyone else. This is going to affect anyone with a well in the affected basin. Right now this is none of us, but in two years that could change and you should be aware of it.
The meeting covered a lot of ground, discussing what the GSA could look like, how to get involved, etc. There was a brainstorming session led by Zach Robinson from Husch on what the attendees wanted to see and didn't want to see; sadly, a large part of this part of the meeting was how could the vineyards avoid any regulations — no use restrictions, no large fees, no extension of the boundaries, no limits on above ground water storage.
On the bright side, several folks said they did not want to see species depletion, they would not like to see the basin upgraded and wanted to work on keeping our Valley on the very low rating and they also want to work with other entities — the schools, the fairgrounds, etc. Ms. Clifton, from Resource Management, brought a lot of good information about risk management and suggestions on how to monitor wells now and get ahead of the game.
This is a very complicated Act and there is a lot to learn. If you want more information, I have found the California Department of Water Resources website to be very instructive. Three sites I suggest are:
ON MONDAY, July 20, 2015 around 12:47 AM the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) responded to a series of calls in the Covelo area. The first call came in around 12:01 AM and was in the 23700 Block of Charlie Hurt Highway. The caller was anonymous but indicated they had heard a gunshot followed by a female screaming for someone to "get off my property". The second call occurred around 12:47 AM in the 75900 Block of Highway 162 related to an assault with a firearm with an adult male having been shot. The third call was made around 01:22 AM and it involved an unwanted subject call. Responding Deputies, after a short investigation, learned that all three calls were related.
The investigation revealed that a 38 year old male victim had a prior dating relationship with the suspect, 32 year old Anna Roseberry. The dating relationship had ended but the two were still involved in a marijuana growing operation in the 23700 Block of Charlie Hurt Highway in Covelo. Earlier in the evening the two started to dispute payment and profits from the garden. This dispute grew heated with the male making demands to receive payment for his working in the marijuana garden. Shortly after midnight the two parties were arguing near their residence when the female produced a .38 caliber revolver and shot the victim one time in the groin. The suspect later made a claim of self-defense saying the victim carried a knife but she admitted he did not brandish the knife nor did he threaten her with it. After being shot, the victim fled the location on foot and made his way to a phone where he called for medical aid. The suspect sent several associates into the woods looking for the victim but he was not located. The victim was later flown, via air ambulance, to Mercy Trauma Center in Redding where he is expected to make a full recovery. Two firearms were located at the scene, including a .38 caliber revolver, believed to be the weapon used to shoot the victim. 200 growing marijuana plants were also located as well as several pounds of marijuana being processed. The suspect was arrested for Assault with a firearm, Spousal Battery with Injury, Armed During the Commission of a Felony, and Maintaining a Place for Distribution of a Controlled Substance, and booked into the Mendocino County Jail. Her bail was set at $40,000.
CATCH OF THE DAY, July 20, 2015
MICHAEL BEERS, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
CALIXTO CASAREZ, Fort Bragg. Domestic assault.
LEE CROCKETT, Clearlake. Dirk-dagger.
JOHN DRIGGS, Ukiah. Parole violation.
RANDALL GENSAW, Ukiah. Resisting, probation revocation.
NICHOLAS HALVORSEN, Fort Bragg. Drunk in public, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)
RAMON NIETO JR., Willits. Drunk in public. (Frequent flyer.)
ANNA ROSEBERRY, Covelo. Assault with firearm, armed with firearm, maintaining a place for selling, giving or using drugs.
THOMAS SANDERS, Ukiah. Drunk in public. (Frequent flyer.)
I DON'T KNOW about you but my first thought when I saw this story was the Willits Bypass.
DESERT CENTER, Calif. (AP) — The interstate bridge that washed out in the desert between Los Angeles and Phoenix easily withstood its daily load of thousands of cars and trucks, but the pounding of an unusually powerful flash flood scoured away the land where the bridge was anchored, officials said Monday. Water rushing through a normally dry desert gully eroded the land around the Interstate 10 bridge, causing one side of the eastbound span to collapse and forcing the indefinite closure of the westbound span.
RARE BIT of humor on MCN ListServe. A woman demands, “I am throwing down the gauntlet and challenging anyone to name a horror in the world that did NOT originate with MEN.”
CHUCK WILCHER'S prompt reply: “Yoga pants?”
ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
“…The illegal immigration from Latin America is not so much a problem but more of a symptom of many larger problems. The US war on drugs, free trade pacts, US foreign policy resulting in coups in the region etc…”
Well said. It is ludicrous to say “we must stop the flow of immigrants” when the policies your nation follows makes conditions elsewhere less tolerable, and makes people want to leave and go elsewhere. Encourage plantations featuring a single crop, and amazingly what had been small farmers get turned off from what had been their land and must look elsewhere.
Unless you also encourage policies that favor stability, and that includes climate stability too, it is no wonder people will be on the move.
Just as we found that you cannot solve serious national health problems by saying “everybody get insurance”, so you cannot solve what you perceive to be an immigration problem by saying “seal the borders”. Do we really want to get serious about immigration? OK – but only a truly comprehensive approach is going to work.
And let’s face it – the whole immigration issue will never be addressed seriously because it is such great cannon fodder to use against your political opponents. The Democrats will say ‘we’ve always been the party of immigrants; always will be – and we want their votes’. The Republicans will speak out of both sides of their mouths – on the one hand they will fire up their base by deploring those subhuman immigrants – on the other hand they will whisper among their business leaders ‘but brother we love that cheap, cheap, labor – keeps the rest of the peasants in line’.
The outlook? This issue will get totally mangled – just like any other significant issue of our day.
THE ANDERSON VALLEY LAND TRUST Summer fundraiser is this Saturday, July 25, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Stoney Bottom Gardens in Boonville. This will be a farm-fresh dinner featuring vegetables, fruits and meats from local producers. There will be live music by Bob Day, a tour of the gardens and a silent auction featuring a variety of art collectibles, tours, overnight accommodations and special cellar selections from local vintners. Tickets are $100 per person and include food and wine. Tickets are available at www.andersonvalleylandtrust.org/events or email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 895-3150.
THE ANDERSON VALLEY FOODSHED and KZYX presents The 6th annual Not-So-Simple Living Fair: Friday, July 24 through Sunday, July 26, at the Mendocino County Fairgrounds in Boonville. There will be workshops, live music and speakers. Tickets are $30 per day, or $40 for the weekend in advance, $35 per day, or $50 for the weekend at the gate. Saturday night only is $15. Camping is $10 per car per night. No dogs allowed. For more information go to notsosimple.info; 901-7080.
THE ABOVE EVENT has evolved over the years to exclude the unfocused, museum-quality hippies who used to dominate it and is now a series of presentations by people who have real knowledge of the practical type to impart. Although Starhawk, the bargain table mystic, is the keynote speaker and an indication that Feebs are still influential at the annual event, given the state of things in the outside world, the more stuff you can do yourself, the better prepared you are for the coming storms, and these presentations are just the thing to Get Ready.
A STARTLING FEATURE STORY in the Press Democrat last week was called, "Coho Return to Mendo Watershed." Written by Glenda Anderson, Ukiah-based stenographer to money and power. The gist of the propaganda piece was relayed to Glenda by the Mendocino Redwood Company. MRC says that thanks to their management of the liquid areas of their vast local holdings, and despite the drought and whatever goes on in the battered Pacific, “scores of coho salmon have made their way back to a pair of coastal waterways.” Translation: There are a few juvenile salmon in Greenwood Creek and a few in a feeder stream in Valenti Gulch.
IT'S ALWAYS ENCOURAGING to see fish in local streams because they've become a rare sight for reasons more numerous than the surviving fish themselves. It's also true that MRC has done some good stream restoration work, canceling out that good work with their crazy-dangerous policy of chemically poisoning hundreds of acres of non-commercial trees, thus creating a huge fire hazard.
BUT GREENWOOD CREEK is relatively pristine, in that the straws drinking from it are far fewer than drink from the Navarro River's feeder streams, but it's wayyyyyy too optimistic to expect a grand coho revival off the evidence of a few babies. Good advertising for MRC though, and the PD has always aimed to serve.
REQUIEM FOR A RIVER, the Navarro at the Greenwood Bridge, July 2015
COQ DU VIN, the truly excellent French restaurant in Navarro, is relocating to Elk, just over a ridge or three to the west, while an eatery called the Bewildered Pig will open soon at the Floodgate.
CANNABIS ECONOMY COSTS MORE THAN YOU THINK
by John Hardin
Some people say that legalizing cannabis will ruin our local economy here in Humboldt County. I think it’s too late for that. The War on Drugs has already done it. Not only has it ruined our economy, it has ruined our community. All of the serious problems we face, or refuse to face, as a community result from economic forces set in motion by the War on Drugs.
You can see it any day of the week in Garberville. You see lots of poor people, and the contempt for them is palpable. Merchants mostly cater to tourists or dope yuppies. Few pay a living wage, fewer still offer benefits like health insurance, so few people work regular jobs in town.
Local non-profits exploit the poor even more than the businesses. They rely on the unpaid efforts of hundreds of idealistic volunteers with limited economic opportunities. These volunteers happily work a four-hour shift, or more, for a T-shirt and a meal, or less, even though they have no safe place to sleep, can’t afford one, and the people who they volunteer for help would call the cops on them any other day of the week, just for being poor in public. The dope yuppies point to the non-profits as evidence of the generosity of cannabis growers, but the non-profits mainly serve the interests of the growers, while they ignore the needs of their volunteers, let alone the rest of the community.
Dope yuppies, on the other hand, exploit people much more directly, and with much more coercion. They rely heavily on taxpayer-subsidized violence, both to inflate the price of their product and to ensure that they have an endless supply of cheap labor. Mandatory drug screening disqualifies most pot smokers from pretty much every field except drug dealing and the arts. If you’ve been busted, you’re doubly screwed. Who else would “hire” someone convicted of a drug felony?
I say “hire” in quotations, because dope yuppies rarely pay people for their time and trouble. Instead, they take on “sharecroppers” – people who do all of the work, and take all of the risk, for a share of the crop, which they then have to sell, along with the dope yuppie’s share, before they get paid. Or they “hire” house-sitters. Dope yuppies think that house-sitting is its own reward. They expect people to watch their property, do their chores and take care of their menagerie of pets, while they jet off to Belize, just for the privilege of staying in their home while they are away.
Dope yuppies want people to be that desperate. Just watch how shocked and disappointed they become if you turn them down. It’s not enough for them to have plenty of money. They know that they are only rich so long as they can bend the poor people around them to their will. They like economic inequity. That’s why they vacation in Central America. They don’t wish you well. Don’t forget that.
So the non-profits need volunteers, the merchants need serfs and the dope yuppies want slaves. The non-profits have their mission statements, the merchants just want to make money, and the dope yuppies want people to do their work for them. None of them care about the people they exploit. Then they have the nerve to complain that most people would rather live on the street and shit on the sidewalk than work for any of them. Who can blame people for opting out? Just because you have three shitty offers doesn’t mean you have to make a deal.
No one likes it. People hate the whole situation so much they voted to increase taxes to pay for more police. How bad do things have to get before drug-dealers demand more cops? So now the whole sad, ugly mess is crawling with cops. That’s what the cannabis economy looks like in Garberville: Punk-ass kids in brand new trucks, poor people with no good options and nowhere to go and a bunch of cops just looking for trouble. Lovely, isn’t it?
Who cares how much money is involved, if that’s what it looks like on the ground? Just because the War on Drugs brings a lot of money into Southern Humboldt, that doesn’t mean it makes life better here. Quite the contrary. Look around, SoHum. Look at what the cannabis economy has done to your community.
It takes millions of dollars to cultivate this level of social dysfunction. It takes big money to create the kind of poverty you see wandering the streets of Garberville. All over the country the War on Drugs has turned vibrant communities like, and including, Southern Humboldt into drug ghettos, to feed the insatiable greed of Drug War profiteers. You’d have to be a fool or a cad to want it to continue.
Therein lies the true heart of our real economic problem. For more than 30 years, the War on Drugs has made Southern Humboldt extremely attractive to cads and fools. Fools don’t understand; cads don’t care. Both of them measure everything in dollars and cents, either because they fail to comprehend, or they fail to care about, anything else.
Think about it. What would we lose if this county never saw another dollar of pot money? First we’d lose the cads. They know they can’t compete on a level playing field, so they will jump ship first, on their way to the next big scam. They’ll make a lot of noise before they go, but we’ll be better off without them. The fools won’t know what hit them, but they’ll get used to whatever comes next.
We’d lose our housing shortage, as property owners realized that they better find a new way to make money from all of the residential floor space they own. They’ll begin, for the very first time, to rent it to people to live in. What a novel idea! Others will simply liquidate their Humboldt County holdings, creating opportunities for nicer people who just want to live in the forest.
We’d lose the illegal water diversions, the clearcuts and the illegal grading, not to mention the rat poison, the fertilizer runoff and all of the garbage they leave in the forest, as people realize that there’s no point in growing more weed than you can smoke.
We’d probably lose five or six murders each year, not to mention countless other violent crimes, ranging from home invasion robbery to kidnapping and rape. We’d lose CAMP. We’d lose the helicopters, the law enforcement convoys, and the raids. We’d lose the lawyers. Would anyone miss them?
We’d lose the soil trucks and the water trucks and all of the damage they do to our roads. We’d lose the endless parade of brand new giant pickup trucks. I miss the rusty old ranch wagons, don’t you? And of course, we’d lose the money, but most of us don’t see much of it anyway. The main thing that pot money does for most of us is make it harder to afford a home, and allow local merchant to focus on meeting the needs of people with more money than us, rather than us.
When you add it all up, it amounts to a hell of a lot of money that this community would have been better off without. It’s high time we said “good riddance” to the cannabis economy. Instead of worrying about the inflated incomes of the greedy bottom-feeders who ruined our economy, lets work on making this community a better place to live for the people who have been hurt most by them, namely, the poor and working people of Humboldt County.
(John Hardin blogs at Like You’ve Got Something Better To Do, where this first appeared. (Courtesy, LostCoastOutpost.com).)
ASSEMBLYMAN WOOD TO FLY OVER MENDOCINO COUNTY DEADZONES
California State Assemblyman Jim Wood (2nd District) is coming to Mendocino County to see and address the fire dangers that result from the timber industry’s radical new practice of leaving millions of dead, poisoned hardwood trees standing in the forest. This event will take place Wednesday, July 22, at the Ukiah Municipal Airport (1403 S. State Street). A brief preflight presentation will begin at 9am. Planes will go up around 10am for an aerial view of deadzones. A wrap-up session will follow the flights. The event should conclude by noon. Public and media are welcome to attend.
REX GRESSETT’S BOAT in Noyo Harbor.
(Photo by Susie de Castro)
SUNSHINE ON MY CERA
Sunshine On My CERA Makes Me Happy
Sounds like an old John Denver song; the problem is our Mendocino County Employees Retirement Association (CERA) wants to hide from the sunshine.
Since I have not been able to attend a Mendocino County Farm Bureau Political Action and Education Meeting for a couple of months and it looks like our meeting Wednesday will take up all of our time, I thought I would write a brief update on our county retirement system in place of the update I give you verbally from time to time.
As you know I have been on the retirement board for a bit over four and a half years now. I am more concerned today that we will not be able to pay the promised benefits to the employees of our county than I have ever been before. Let me tell you why.
Our board meeting last week exemplifies why I have great conviction the design of the state 1937 Retirement Act governance system is inherently flawed and why the county’s retirement program will continue to be an increasing source of debt and absorb most every available budget dollar in years to come.
Last Wednesday we had a “closed session” event that is indicative of the audacity of the retirement board. For four or five meetings we had been discussing some “potential litigation” items that I will not go into detail abut as they were probably legitimate closed session items. What was not a legitimate closed session item, and was done in closed session purely for political purposes, was a vote to not disclose the aggregated cost of our actions to the county and public. It is a material amount of money.
This trustee had not agreed to the cost of the way MCERA trustees handled the items (as I am concerned it will ultimately be deducted from the promised benefits of a current employee that is expecting to be paid when they retire), but the board did have authority to spend the money. Remember the retirement board has plenary authority, or absolute power, to spend money and the county MUST pay for their actions. If not reported to the county or public the amounts are lost in the cost that inures to the county and the county must pay— via the unfunded pension liability. You never see the direct result of our actions if we do not disclose it to you. It is not as though the retirement board can try to spend this money and a county official can say “hey folks, it isn’t in the budget.” It is lost in the payments and is fully absorbed in the unfunded liability that is being paid off mostly over a 25 year period where we are not even currently paying the annual interest expense, let alone the principal on the debt. Also remember we had pension obligation bonds twice to clean up this largesse and that amount does not show in the current unfunded liability; it is paid separately by the county.
As I said above, I did not agree with this expense, but was assured all along that it would be reported to the county so there would be some accountability for our actions. That potential accountability stopped last Wednesday when they called for a vote in closed session whether to disclose the cost of our actions to the county or not. In closed session we went around the board room table and voted. When the votes were tallied, not disclosing won out with only two votes (Supervisor Dan Gjerde and me) to disclose. We were not even talking a press release, it was just letting the supervisors know what we cost them.
The discussion was even so bold as to when I said (several times) we should have this discussion in a public session, the political sage with the most experience said “hooey” and said you can’t speak openly there. After the vote and I said I wanted to bring this back in open session and another seasoned pro, the one who has been around the longest at MCERA, said “he can’t bring this back in open session! We already voted on it in closed session!” I am happy to name names, I am not naming them now because my point is we have a flawed system. This isn’t anything personal, the people on the retirement board are very nice people. The issue is the system is flawed.
When I went home and reviewed the Brown Act, the “Sunshine Law,” “open meeting law,” or “public right to know law” if you will, it was very clear that this was a direct violation of the Brown Act as ANY vote in closed session MUST be reported out with the names of who voted which way and a closed session should NEVER be used for POLITICAL COVER.
Since we were voting on disclosing aggregated numbers and there was no personal information at risk there was no fit to the pending litigation exemption which was the guise it was under. When I brought this to the attention of the pension board leadership and counsel did they care? No, why would they start caring now? This is small potatoes compared to the largesse and lack of disclosure of the past and was just business as usual. They do not have to be accountable to anyone and no one is going to call them on a Brown Act violation except some silly troublemaker like me.
This is just “some old, same old” and why the retirement plan for this county is the runaway source of debt and the debt will continue to get larger. As said above this is because the system is flawed by design.
If you canvassed the retirement board they would talk the transparency and sunshine talk; if you watched an event like I did (or have studied their legacy) you would agree the walk is one of closed sessions and shadows.
In summing my report up I will give you a brief update on the finances.
The employer side of the pension contribution is about 48 cents per dollar of payroll this year including the pension obligation bond load and NOT including the load for social security, medicare, the deferred compensation matching contributions for management, health insurance or any other benefits the county also pays. That bears repeating: the county is matching about 50¢ of every payroll dollar in pension cost alone and we still are not getting ahead.
For the last few years there has not been a single dollar of employer or employee funds that has actually gone into any investments. We actually have had to sell almost $1,000,000 per month in investments to pay benefits and retirement association expenses. All contributions, and a significant part of our expected return, has gone to pay current benefits and administrative expenses. Let me repeat this again too, even the contributions of the current workers have not made it into this greatly underfunded plan as all the contributions, and some assets, have gone out to pay current benefits and administration expenses. Even with the huge increases in employer (and small increase in employee) contributions, that just started this new fiscal year, I believe we will still need to sell substantial assets every month to pay our current benefits and administration expenses.
I have not checked recently, but believe I am correct when I say that the only thing that is growing as fast as our unfunded pension liability is our administration expenses.
During my tenure we have experienced a remarkable market recovery. We are at market all-time highs, but… Our unfunded liability has about doubled while I have served on this board. Our unfunded liability, as a percent of county payroll, has gone up about 2 ½ times from when I started. Our funding percentage has gone down about 10% even though the county is throwing an ever increasing amount of contributions at it. I imagine we are going to have a market correction sometime soon. I am most often the lone vote to limit any spending; I am viewed as a complete fun sucker.
When I signed up for this I was naïve enough to think, in this difficult time for our county, I could bring the same cost benefit analysis and discipline we use on the private boards on which I serve. I have had an education, I did not educate MCERA.
Some might be inclined to say “Hey, Stephens, what do you know? The retirement board and their paid experts say don’t worry, be happy. They are experts in this type of stuff. You are just an over educated, high end financial, tax and ranching guy who deals with managing lowly private clients, private retirement plans and property. Your assumptions always consider the family or retirement plan could go bankrupt and the debt couldn’t be paid, people would lose their retirement. Not here man; this is new math, get with it. A public fund like the retirement fund has a sponsor that has unlimited resources (they can just tax more) and does not have to worry about going bankrupt. The county will always be there to pay no matter what. All employees are totally safe, we will just pay tomorrow what they earned yesterday and today. What don’t you understand about this system? Besides, all the other public systems are doin’ it.”
I would ask you to evaluate what they have told you in the past about this system fixing itself. I would ask why we had to issue serial pension obligation bonds (fool me once, but three times underfunded?). I would ask why the county contributions just keep going up and we are still selling assets to pay current benefits (no current employer or employee contributions are being invested). I would ask while we are at new market highs why the plan still isn’t funded. I would ask if you wanted to bet your county or retirement on this set of facts. This is a flawed system where we are all at risk: retirement benefits, county services and a never ending need for tax/fee increases.
The governance issue set aside, it is my opinion the only way the current system can perform long-term is if the county and employees put substantially more dollars in or if we have hyperinflation to dilute the promised benefits and debt. If we have the hyperinflation the new post-PEPRA employees will really be short changed as they not only have less benefits, but even more important our supervisors voted to not give this new tier any COLA inflation protection. I assume the supervisors voted this way because of the current crippling cost of the pension system.
To end on a lighter note, I will say that although the acronym is MCERA, after looking into the eye of the beast it seems to roll off the tongue as “mess-error.” I am considering quitting this board and dedicating my time and research to a cause that could make a difference. After four plus years I believe this cause is pretty hopeless. A private sector cost benefit analysis or pay as you go discipline structure does not seem to have a chance under the design of the 37 Act governance structure. Additionally, it is hard to always be the fun sucker in the bunch!
Always here to help,
Ted Stephens, MS-Taxation, MBA-Finance
VISITING FORT BRAGG from la belle Belgique
(Photo by Susie de Castro)
SAMURAI ORIGAMI — HIIEEEYAH!
The Ukiah Library is Hosting Samurai Origami with Kathy Silva Wednesday, July 22nd at 11 am. Come create some simple origami with teacher Kathy Silva! We’ll be making origami samurai helmets & a variety of other designs. Recommended for students aged 8 and up. For more information – please contact Judith at the Ukiah Library: 463-4153 or email@example.com. Sponsored by the Ukiah Valley Friends of the Library, 105 N Main St. Ukiah CA
TITAN ATTACKS & BEADS —District Teens at Ukiah Library is Hosting: Attack on Titan & Fuse Bead Anime Maker Space Wednesday, August 5th at 2pm Teens are invited to the library to make their favorite anime characters from fuse beads & watch Attack on Titan. Snacks, refreshments & materials will be provided. This event is recommended for teens ages 14 and up, & can be counted toward the teen summer reading raffle. For more information – please contact Melissa at the Ukiah Library: 467-6434 or firstname.lastname@example.org Sponsored by the Ukiah Valley Friends of the Library, 105 N. Main St. Ukiah
THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. A group discussion of life and end of life. On Sunday, August 9 at 4:30pm the video “Being Mortal” will be presented at Lauren’s Restaurant in downtown Boonville. “Being Mortal” is based on writer/physician Atul Gawande’s best-selling book “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End.” Dr. Gawande is the reporter, interviewing other doctors, sitting in on their meetings with patents and telling about the death of his father, also a surgeon. Several community members who are interested in discussion about preparing for the rest of your life are inviting other interested people to join this month’s dialog, info exchange and education.
Parducci Wine Cellars Acoustic Café Welcomes Ukiah Native McKenna Faith
Highly Anticipated Event Selling Out Fast, Tickets Still Available at Parducci.com
UKIAH, CA—July 20, 2015— Parducci Wine Cellars continues its 5th ANNUAL SUMMER CONCERT SERIES on Saturday, July 25, with country singer and Ukiah native McKenna Faith headlining and opening act by Carly Graves. S’wine Country BBQ is this concert's featured food vendor. Tickets are now on sale at www.parducci.com. Call (707) 463-5357 for more information.
General Admission is $20 with special discounts available to Parducci Wine Club members. All shows feature general festival seating on the lawn. Performances take place weather permitting.
The Parducci Wine Cellars Patio and Wine Bar opens at 5:30 before each concert. Opening music and food sales start at 6:00. The headliner act plays at 7:00. Concert-goers may also bring their own picnic baskets. No outside alcholic beverages permitted.
Headliner and Ukiah Native McKenna Faith
The Acoustic Café is proud to present local-born Country singer/songwriter McKenna Faith as tonight’s headliner. “We are truly honored to feature Ukiah’s own McKenna Faith for our July, height-of-summer concert,” says Rochelle Loren Enzler, Parducci Wine Cellars Director of Hospitality and Events. McKenna Faith regularly tours the nation with country’s biggest stars, and is currently on the “Somethin’ Somethin’” radio tour with her new EP, “Seal It With A Kiss.” She was the #1 Selling Independent Female Country Artist on iTunes in 2013.
McKenna Faith’s personal ties to Ukiah have caused unprecedented interest in this event; tickets are going fast, but as of now are still available at www.parducci.com. “We anticipate a lot of local pride in the crowd tonight!” says Loren Enzler, who adds that “Ordering tickets online is the very best way to ensure a spot for this truly one-time event.”
The Acoustic Café is also pleased to welcome back local favorite food vendors S’wine Country BBQ, featuring meat smoked low and slow over apple wood, then paired with home crafted sauces.
Parducci Wine Cellars is located at 501 Parducci Road in Ukiah. For more information or directions visit us online www.parducci.com or you can reach our tasting room at (707) 463-5357.
CITY OF POINT ARENA SPECIAL MEETING AGENDA JULY 21, 2015
TUBA SKINNY — SUNDAYS IN THE PARK JULY 26
On Sunday, July 26th in Todd Grove Park at 6:00pm Fowler Auto & Truck Center, The City of Ukiah, KWNE-FM and MAX 93.5 are proud to present the fourth concert of the 24th annual Sundays in the Park concert series with Traditional New Orleans Jazz band Tuba Skinny.
Tuba Skinny plays jazz in the style established in New Orleans and Chicago between 1900 and 1930. The musicians have built up a wide repertoire, mixing classics (especially blues) with more modern tunes, including original compositions. They have rescued from near-obscurity such 90-year-old gems as Muddy Water, Russian Rag, New Orleans Bump, Deep Henderson, Variety Stomp, In Harlem's Araby and Minor Drag; and the Jabbo Smith forgotten classics from the 1920s - Michigander Blues and Sleepy Time Blues and A Jazz Battle. They have shown, with their fresh and original interpretations, how exciting these tunes can be.
Formed in 2009, Tuba Skinny has steadily evolved from a loose collection of street musicians into a solid ensemble dedicated to bringing the traditional New Orleans sound to audiences around the world. Drawing on a wide range of musical influences—from spirituals to Depression-era blues, from ragtime to traditional jazz—their sound evokes the rich musical heritage of their New Orleans home. The band has gained a loyal following through their distinctive sound, their commitment to reviving long-lost songs, and their barnstorming live performances.
They have been playing together for six years and made a CD each year. Although they tour regularly across the USA, they have also performed in Mexico, Sweden, Australia, Switzerland, France, Italy and Spain. In reality, they seem to spend half their year busking in the streets and playing in the clubs of New Orleans, their natural setting. “We're very fortunate to all be so interested in the same kind of music and to have met each other when and where we did and with a travelling itch and desire to busk.” ‘Busking’ is playing live on the streets and a favorite place to perform. It was the traditional place for original New Orleans Jazz bands to perform and hone their skills. In the streets there is no use of the electronic amplification that spoils so much music these days. Yes, they are the real deal.
How do they decide on their repertoire? In an interview, washboard-player Robin Rapuzzi explained: “It's a group decision. It always is. Tuba Skinny is a miniature political system of majority rule. We discuss ideas with each other either on the street or over dinner. We have listening-parties throughout the year to discuss what we are interested in and where we want to go with our music. It's very organic.” The songs are played against a rock-steady ‘walking’ rhythm, with tuba, washboard, guitar or banjo laying down the foundation while the cornet, trombone and clarinet play the melody and frolic around it.
The performances are meticulously prepared. Although allowing plenty of room for improvisation, sophisticated head arrangements are used, with precision and admirable attention to detail. Great care is taken to get the tempo just right for the interpretation. There are mid-way key changes, and clear pre-planning of introductions and an understanding of when verses, bridges and codas will be played, around the repeating choruses. They support each other’s solo choruses with harmonizing long notes and stop chords.
The Band has a remarkable singer – Erika Lewis, originally from New York State's Hudson Valley. Although slight of figure, she has an amazingly strong and soulful voice, ideal for the blues. Her control of pitch and command of rubato are perfect. She has been compared with Bessie Smith (who must have been her inspiration) and in my opinion she equals the great Bessie in vocal ability. In street performances she needs no microphone. Since 2012, Erika has also taken to playing the bass drum, on which she sits as she sings and plays - further solidifying the band's rhythm section. Erika has said (Offbeat Magazine, September 2014), 'It just dawned on me one day that a bass drum was something that I could add and it would fit in. For the first year, I strapped it to my front, but I felt like a pregnant spider flailing around, standing up while everyone else was sitting down. So I said, I’m just going to sit down on it.'
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Mendocino, CA- From sculpture to assemblage, pottery to photography, furniture to painting, Art Mix in Mendocino is the most eclectic mix of eleven Mendocino artists to assemble in one show each year. This unique show celebrates the imagination of diverse artistic minds collectively spanning centuries of art creation.
The Art Mix will run August 4th through the 29th at the Odd Fellows Hall in the town of Mendocino (Kasten St & Ukiah St). There will be a Grand Opening Reception with music, food and wine Saturday August 8th from 5pm to 8pm with all the artists in attendance to greet patrons and talk about their art.
The eleven artists participating this year include Harry Cohen, Spencer Brewer, Hans Bruner, Krystine Graziano, George Gruel, Jo Killian, Raven Mahon, Odis Schmidt, Susan Spencer, Michael Wilson and Lynne Zickerman.
Come and support the critical role that the arts play in stimulating creativity and in developing vital communities. Artists and their work have a crucial impact on our economy and are an important catalyst for learning, discovery, and achievement in our country. Art Mix Mendocino guarantees to stimulate the imagination and creativity inherent in us all.