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Off the Record (Sep 16, 2015)

"GO FORT BRAGG" is the work of a Tai Chi instructor, Mayor Dave Turner's daughter, an under garments sales lady, and one of Turner's Sunday co-parishioners. Not exactly Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, and the Bolsheviks but perhaps their equal in righteousness.

THE AUTHORS of Go Fort Bragg's founding document are identified only as Hilary, Katie, Scott, and Chriss. "You are receiving this email because of your participation in the campaign to oppose the frivolous and unjustified recall attempts of Mayor Dave Turner that took place in June. Thank you again for all your hard work in defeating that attack! Unfortunately, our work is not done."

HILARY, Katie, Scott, and Chriss were rallying Mayor Turner's troops for Monday night's meeting of the Fort Bragg City Council.

FORT BRAGG'S MAYOR TURNER is one of these cash and carry liberals prevalent in Mendocino County who talk a lot about community as they wield platitudinous sub-sets — divisiveness, negativity, bigoted (against the homeless, in this case but probably bigoted generally) as weapons while he and unelected City of Fort Bragg employees simultaneously commit the City to controversial and expensive projects bound to make people angry. And when people get angry at these unilateral commitments made in their name, the Turner forces denounce them as Bad People, holding themselves implicitly up as the Good People.

SO NOW we have this Us vs. Them, Turner-driven project that only deepens the rift between the Turner group and the rest of Fort Bragg. And the people behind it? They don't even give us their last names, as if we're all so familiar with their eminence and unassailable goodness that they don't really have to identify themselves.

BUT SCOTT (MENZIES) maintains a Tai Chi studio on Franklin Street. He was opposed to the Old Coast Hospital deal until he was hired by the Hospitality House-Ortner Management Group to teach tai chi to their clients. 'Katie' is the mayor's daughter, 'Hilary' owns Understuff, and Chriss attends the same church as Turner.

IF TURNER wants to be mayor of the whole town, he ought to discourage this kind of thing, but he doesn't. And like all the County's soft libs he doesn't do debate. He talks and acts. You listen and applaud. Or you're divisive, bigoted, a very bad person.

FROM THE MEDIA COVERAGE of Fort Bragg politics, you'd never know that Mayor Turner narrowly eluded recall and he and his two sleep-walking auto-votes, Hammerstrom and Dietz, along with the real power in Fort Bragg, City Manager Linda Ruffing, sabbed a petition to put the Old Coast Hotel deal to a popular vote, ruling that it was short a single ballot-qualifying signature.

YOU'D ALSO NEVER KNOW that there are two sitting Fort Bragg councilmen, Peters and Cimolino, who are generally opposed to the Ruffing-Turner cabal. Next election, Peters and Cimolino are likely to be joined by a councilman more in tune with them and the large majority of Fort Bragg people presently left out on the Haul Road talking to the waves.

JUDY VALADAO nicely sums up the political situation in Fort Bragg: "I am not a member of any group and will not march to Town Hall with any group. I have disassociated myself with anyone who does name calling and acting in any threatening manner towards any person or group who happens to have a different opinion on issues than they do. I do not attend Council meeting or any other meetings where plans may be made to overpower those wishing to speak. In my eyes this town is being pulled apart by some of those who should be the force that binds it together. Most everyone knows the “I love Fort Bragg” group has sent out an email to their friends to march to the Council meeting on Sept. 14th starting from the Franklin St. area.

"FOR YEARS the Council meetings have been held with next to no one in attendance except for the Council members and Staff. I thought it was great when people started showing up to voice their opinion on issues. Then I realized no one was really being listened to at all. I have stood in meetings and listened as a select group accuses those who happen not to agree with them of being misinformed (while contributing misinformation themselves). I have heard the word “bigotry” used more than once. Doesn’t it make sense that someone accusing another of “bigotry” is in fact displaying that trait themselves? Sad, our citizens can’t sit down and talk and come to an understanding that not only works for everyone but helps those in need.

"ALL THE GRANTS (and they amount to millions) is a quick financial helping hand for the City (who gets a percentage). As we talk about this, more grants are in the works for even more housing. I think it would be interesting to know why help isn’t handed out to our seniors who are having a hard time making ends meet with their needs of living day to day. Why didn’t the City step up and help all the mill workers who lost their jobs? The answer seems pretty simple. There is/was no money in it for the City.

"IN TODAY'S ECONOMY, people need help, but that includes all not just a select group that creates a pay day for the City. There are homeless and mentally ill who need help and they should get it, I don’t think anyone would disagree with that. The truth is Fort Bragg needs help and they are getting it off the misery of those they claim to help. What help have they done other than file for grants and sign the checks? There are those of us who purchase food for those who need it and give so their dogs are cared for also. Some, work throughout the year to do what we can to see that they are kept a little warmer through the cold months. When some of the people in the “I love Fort Bragg” group were asked if they would like to help, they laughed.

"THIS GROUP started out as a Dave Turner group and on September 14th they will march to Town Hall and Dave will no doubt sit there in all his glory (again). Initiative or no initiative this City is becoming divided and no good will come of it. But the checks will continue to flow in. When this blows over the Council meetings will once more be attended by only the Council Members."

MEANWHILE, UKIAH, a relative model of civic clearheadedness, is setting aside a few acres in the area south of Brush Street near the Buddy Eller Center where homeless shelters can be erected sans use permits. No word on whether or not one or more will be erected, and the city still doesn't have specific plans for a winter homeless shelter, but Ukiah, unlike Fort Bragg, won't be putting it in the center of town.

THE SUPES will put up a grudging $60,000 towards an emergency winter shelter for Ukiah, which means barebones but outta the rain and the cold during, as the chuckle buddies say on the tv news, "extreme weather events." Whatever your views on the homeless problem, a problem that seems to be growing almost exponentially, it's not good for Mendocino County's or Ukiah's reputation as rural bastions of "progressive" public policy to have bums freezing to death in January sleet storms.

FRED GARDNER WRITES: "Is your hate pure? Alexander Cockburn used to call me up once in a while and ask that question before reading a press clip... The lead story in the NY Times Sunday Business section Sept. 6 is strongly supportive of Joe Lacob and Peter Gruber's plan to build a 12- acre "entertainment complex" anchored by a stadium for your Golden State Warriors (while pretending to be fair and balanced). According to the obsequious reporter, one Matt Richtel, "Mr. Lacob made his money as a venture capitalist with Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, all the while chasing his childhood dream of owning a sports franchise."

"I THOUGHT of Joe Lacob's dream was to be a doctor, because of the following comments his son Kirk made to Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News: 'Last week we were at my brother’s graduation in St. Louis. My dad likes to tell the story, he applied to a lot of medical schools and he didn’t get into any. He got wait-listed at one, and that was Washington University in St. Louis — that’s where my brother just graduated undergrad. My dad’s sitting there at the graduation, he looks at me, he goes, “Do you think they know they messed up?’

"I’m like, “What are you talking about?’

"He goes, “Do you think they know they messed up that I didn’t get in? What if I had cured cancer?’ This is the way he thinks; he’s sitting there, “They should know they screwed up; I should’ve gotten in here.’"

"LACOB and Gruber bought the 12 acres from Marc Benioff, described in the Times as "the founder of Salesforce, a software giant and San Francisco mainstay."

Tadich's is a San Francisco mainstay. The Cliff House is a San Francisco mainstay... Richtel quotes Benioff: "If I want to see U2, I have to go to San Jose," he lamented, adding, "Without great sports franchises, we can’t be a great city."

Quick —what sports franchise is Paris known for? Amsterdam? Copenhagen? Oslo? Correct answers to four out of four get you free tickets to see U2. It's hot, man."

AT LAST TUESDAY'S BUDGET HEARING, the Supervisors decided to "re-visit the language" of the County's mental health contracts, which could be the beginning of the end for this preposterous hustle.

THE CURRENT multi-million deals with Ortner Management Group and Redwood Quality Management Company run until 2019, but are subject to annual renewal.

AT THE BEGINNING of the fiscal year in July, the supervisors agreed to contracts of $5.1 million, and $4.9 million for the two organizations respectively.


LAST THURSDAY the Sheriff's Office announced that the human remains found in a secluded area on off the Covelo Road northeast of Willits were those of Rachel Audrey Sloan. Ms. Sloan, of Laytonville, was 25 when she disappeared. She is now assumed to have been murdered. Anybody with information on Ms. Sloan's death is encouraged to contact the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office tip line by calling 707-234-2100.

THE UKIAH UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT is circulating a pile of weasel words in the form of a press release announcing the results of Ukiah's place in statewide testing results. The gist of the press release? Don't get your hopes up, parents. And don't be misled by the numbers. Our kids can read and write and do their numbers just as well, maybe even better, than their teachers, the kids just don't test well. In other words, we teach real good, the kids are… Well, LOL.

AS SUPERINTENDENT DEB KUBIN, quoting herself in her press release, puts it, "This year’s baseline data will provide us with information about our learning and instructional goals for the year. We are in a transition, and as with any transition, it takes time to adjust… parents should not be discouraged by their children’s test scores, but rather view them as a starting point as students and their teachers adjust to more challenging standards.”

TRANSLATION: We have no goddam idea how to instill the edu-basics in these young beasts, aka Our Nation's Future. Look at the context! A culture so far dumbed down and depraved that millions of young people think it's cool to be stupid and non-verbal. Etc.

SAME-SAME. Safeway is regarded as an everyday neighborhood market where shoppers equipped with Club Cards score deals on pantry staples. This is where you stock up on bags of flour and sugar and cans of beans and tomatoes because the prices are amazing, right?

WHOLE FOODS, on the other hand, has a reputation as a gourmet grocery store where beautiful organic fruits and vegetables are piled high in the produce section and the shelves are stocked with specialty items such as raw almond butter and locally made salsa. You might shop at Whole Foods regularly, but you're going to pay a high price, right?

I SPENT time browsing the aisles of Whole Foods and Safeway, studying the differences in prices, and discovered these stereotypes no longer ring true. Both stores have evolved with Safeway trying to become more like Whole Foods by introducing a house brand of organic staples and Whole Foods adopting Safeway's bargain approach by stocking shelves with its affordably priced 365 Everyday Value brand.

I CONCLUDED that the price of staples are exactly the same or similar at Whole Foods and Safeway in San Francisco. I found the grocery chains are comparably priced when you consider the overall cost of a bag of groceries. Nearly a third of the products I checked cost the same at both stores. The trends in pricing differences were erratic but organic house brand items seemed to be less expensive at Whole Foods and non-house-brand items were a better deal at Safeway (but not when it came to beer as six packs of both Sierra Nevada and Hell or High Watermelon were more expensive at Safeway).

WHEN YOU ADD UP all 29 standard grocery items in my selection, Whole Foods cost $125.32 and Safeway $127.98— that's a difference of only $2.66. Are you surprised?

THE COUNTY'S unfunded retirement liability (pensions) will be shored up by $3.7 million, although the County would have to put many millions more into the County pension fund to make it truly solvent. The County presently owes its retirees about $180 million.

MENDO, like every local government in the state, or almost all of them, has guaranteed retired employees, including cops and firemen, much more money in pensions than they can ever pay. (Cops who take early outs for so-called “stress,” like recent Sheriff's Department officers Gary Hudson and Kurt Smallcomb, get disability pay on top their pensions. The psychiatrists who pass on these phony claims ought to be arrested themselves, but we can't remember Mendo ever denying a stress claim.)

THE REIGNING EMPEROR of Mendocino County double dippers is Frank McMichael, presently of the Ukiah Valley Sanitation District. McMichael is Sextuple Dipper. A Republican and, presumably, a Get Government Off Our Backs kinda guy, McMichael draws retirement money from military service, then for his years as an LA cop, then as a retired Mendo Supervisor, then as the former head of the County's LAFCO, and finally he's in line for his fifth and perhaps final pension as boss of Ukiah's sewage district. Count 'em, taxpayers! Five! Six! if you count Social Security.

WE HAVE a particular beef with McMichael, and so should you. We think he drew a lot money for work undone at Mendo's LAFCO. (Local Area Formation COmmission. Overseen by, natch, a combination of elected officials, all pals, all Democrats of the active sub-type, and former elected officials, which translates as no effective oversight.

LAFCO is state chartered to review all the little Get 'Er Done districts in a given county to see if they are delivering the service they are supposed to deliver. For example, is the Anderson Valley Community Services District doing what it is supposed to do? (Which is to oversee the volunteer fire department, maybe twenty-five streetlights, the Boonville airstrip, organized recreation. But a lot of money is involved, all-in-all.)

McMICHAEL, as The Man at Mendo's LAFCO up until 2012, was supposed to do Municipal Service Reviews or MSRs. They aren't that difficult to do because the agency being reviewed gathers up all paperwork showing that they are viable and spend money properly. All McMichael had to do was look at the things and sign off on them. (Although a couple of years ago a guy in Caspar insisted that the Sewer district wasn't properly maintaining their tanks on the bluffs but collecting a nice tax from residents for maintaining the system. That one disappeared into the summer mists, but we think the guy was correct.) Usually, though, the County's special districts do what they are supposed to via locally elected boards of directors. There isn't a lot of theft opportunity and undelivered services are pretty obvious.

THE ANDERSON VALLEY CSD was on the list for a review for years while McMichael was LAFCO's main man. The review was put on hold for so long that McMichael was outtathere before the review was finally finished a month or so ago!

NOT THAT it did Boonville any good because the new LAFCO chief simply paid a consultant to re-package the Boonville CSD stuff and declare it complete!

BUT McMICHAEL had said he couldn't do the MSRs (reviews — apparently more than 50 of them just in Mendo, water districts, sewer districts, cemetery districts, etc. — as part of his basic LAFCO boss job. He needed extra money (perhaps to farm them out) to get them done. Then most of them still didn't get done.

BEAR IN MIND that LAFCO was paying McMichael upwards of $100k per year to get the reviews done, then paid him $70k more for who knows how many more years to do the MSRs which he never did. Then he moved on to the Ukiah sewer district.

IF YOU MISSED the point here, the guy took a lot of special district money for work he did not do.

WE RECALL looking at the LAFCO budget sheet a couple of times and don't recall if it had anything like a specific $70k line item for MSRs, but it could have. You'd think that if it did somebody on the LAFCO board would have said, "Where are the MSRs we budgeted and spent for?"

GOOD NEWS FROM ENGLAND! Britain’s opposition Labour Party elected left-winger Jeremy Corbyn as its new leader Saturday, despite the objections of former Labour prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, who warned that Corbyn would push the party “over the cliff’s edge to the jagged rocks below” with his anti-austerity and big government plans. Corbyn, 66, won with 59.5 percent of the votes and thanked party members in his victory speech, acknowledging “some were reluctant to do so, but they did so in a spirit of inclusion and spirit of democracy.” (Reuters)


KELISHA ALVAREZ of Ukiah, a regular in the Sheriff’s Booking log, was arrested again last week for violating the terms of her probation revocation. Ms. Alvarez is large, nimble and violent. She and her boyfriend, Scotty Willis, have been arrested again and again. Mendocino County's privatized mental health system says she and Scotty aren't their responsibility. The privateers claim that Kelisha and Scotty are mentally challenged, that they are rightly the responsibility of the Regional Center, a lavishly funded non-profit that serves the mentally disabled — the house broken mentally disabled, that is. I'm sure the Regional Center says that Kelisha and Scotty are the responsibility of Mental Health. And Mental Health says they should be the responsibility of the Regional Center. Meanwhile, the two, who live around Ukiah under bridges and in the bushes, are the ongoing responsibility of the Ukiah Police Department. The Ukiah Police arrest them on an average of twice a month. The Superior Court, as with all the County's frequent fliers, places Kelisha and Scotty on a toothless catch and release probation, and on it goes round and round.

RECOMMENDED VIEWING: WILD TALES, a film made in Spain, but hardly one of these foggy, sub-titled European jobs that makes you read more than watch. Wild Tales is sub-titled, but the visuals are so can't missable the subs aren't needed. Just thinking about it a couple days later makes me laugh. I can't remember a film this funny. The movie consists of six stories ranging in hilarity quotient, but all six memorable in their way. Can't go wrong with this one.

ANOTHER SHELTER NOT NEEDED, KC Meadows, editor of the Ukiah Daily Journal applies her critical faculties in a Sunday piece to the homeless prob: "We think the city of Ukiah and the county ought to think very carefully before funding what looks to us like another large homeless shelter in Ukiah. We are as concerned about the coming winter as anyone, but we have yet to see any clear data that providing a Buddy Eller-style shelter is what is needed in the Ukiah Valley. As we have pointed out before, the Ukiah Valley already has 10 units for homeless families and 20 units for homeless individuals. If actual experience counts for anything we may have approximately 50 homeless in need this winter on any given night. That means coming up with about 20 beds. Unsubstantiated estimates of homeless people in this county are only that, numbers made up based on very little real information. Opening another large shelter means more people come into our area looking for handouts. It means more problems for law enforcement who saw in years past the kinds of conflict and crime that occurs when people are housed like crates of canned goods in a warehouse setting. Looking back through our own files we find that just between 1994 and 2004 this county spent more than $11 million on homeless services. That was back when homelessness was a burgeoning issue. Back in 1991 this county studied its homeless population, looked at campgrounds, cabins and other temporary housing and found the supply seriously wanting. Gearing up with the millions from HUD and other government sources we did manage back then to put together a variety of shelter components. We created 100 emergency beds, more than 100 transitional housing beds, and more than 200 permanent housing units for people with disabilities, families with homeless children and other low income people. Many of those resources still exist and some have been added. We think it's too easy an answer to just open another large shelter. We believe there are enough resources in this county to provide for the homeless and by providing funding to local churches and other organizations like Plowshares with space to house people temporarily we can handle the rest. It works right now on the Coast with the Love In Action program at local churches. The trouble, we think, is that there is little to zero cooperation in the nonprofit community to make truly coordinated efforts work. The city has now declared the Mazzoni Street area a zone for a homeless shelter. That does not mean that we simply throw the doors open to anyone who shows up. The community tried that. It was not a good fit. — K.C. Meadows (Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal)

One Comment

  1. debrakeipp September 20, 2015

    I do know that Regional Center was helpful, but I never found them “lavish”. When children like my daughter have severe problems of any kind – physical or mental, RC was instrumental in providing coverage for all that wasn’t covered by her insurer. Special tests at Stanford, since what she had was non-specific and hard to dx, were covered by Regional Center Services. I have a little friend now with an incomplete brain who needs assistance with leg braces and walking, and Regional Center is her provider for much that is not covered by their insurer also. They do far more than cover – or not cover adults like the person listed above. Mostly, I know that Regional Center Services step in with children where insurance stops. I’m glad they were available, even though it is agreed that most all agencies are in it for the bottom line of money and proper care gets put on the back burner.

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