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CA UTILITY BLOCKED FROM CHARGING CUSTOMERS FOR WILDFIRE COSTS
by Paul Rogers
In a closely watched decision that could impact whether PG&E customers are on the hook for billions in costs related to the Napa-Sonoma fires if the utility is found at fault, the California Public Utilities Commission on Thursday denied a request from San Diego Gas & Electric to charge its ratepayers $379 million after investigators found its power lines sparked three huge fires in 2007.
By a 5-0 vote, the commissioners said that the San Diego utility had not operated its electrical system in a “reasonable and prudent” manner when the fires began, as state law requires.
As a result, the commissioners ruled, San Diego Gas & Electric’s shareholders, not its customers, must absorb the costs.
“There’s no dispute that each of the fires was caused by SDG&E facilities,” said Commissioner Liane Randolph. “And in each instance we find that SDG&E did not meet its burden to show that it acted as a prudent manager.”
Over the past three months, California’s three largest utilities — PG&E, San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison — have lobbied the commission furiously to allow the San Diego utility to pass along the costs to its customers. With climate change and more people moving into fire-prone areas, the utilities say, it’s becoming more difficult for them to find enough insurance to cover the risk.
They have also noted that courts have found that utilities can be held liable if their power lines, transformers or other equipment cause wildfires that can burn thousands of homes and kill dozens of people, even if they were not negligent, a legal concept known as “inverse condemnation.”
On Thursday, San Diego Gas & Electric said the fires weren’t its fault.
“SDG&E strongly disagrees with today’s decision. The CPUC got it wrong,” said Lee Schavrien, the utility’s senior vice president and chief regulatory officer. “The 2007 wildfires were a natural disaster fueled by extreme conditions, including the worst Santa Ana wind event this region has ever seen.”
But consumer groups and some elected officials have argued that letting utilities pass along the costs of wildfires caused by power lines to their customers increases the likelihood of wildfires because the monopolies would be less likely to spend money to improve safety, to properly maintain their lines and to shut off electricity during extreme conditions.
“I am relieved that the CPUC made the right decision to shield ratepayers from being burdened with the costs of the 2007 San Diego wildfires that were caused because San Diego Gas & Electric didn’t reasonably manage its power lines,” said state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo.
Hill, chairman of a key state Senate subcommittee on gas, electricity and transportation safety, said Thursday’s decision is important in the wake of October’s devastating Napa and Sonoma County wildfires.
“If the commission had sided with the utility companies, it could have set a dangerous precedent for the future of disaster cost recovery,” Hill said.
In one of the worst disasters in modern California history, a series of fires that began Oct. 8 in Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino and other Northern California counties burned more than 245,000 acres, destroyed 8,900 homes and killed 44 people.
Cal Fire has not yet determined how the blazes started, but agency investigators are looking at whether power lines owned by PG&E were at fault for some of the fires, which were spread by windy conditions. The utility has told investors it faces massive liabilities if it is found to have caused the fires.
According to a review of emergency radio traffic by the Bay Area News Group,dispatchers sent fire crews to at least 10 different locations across Sonoma County over a 90-minute period starting at 9:22 pm on Oct. 8 — the time the first fires were reported — to respond to 911 calls and other reports of sparking wires, exploding transformers and problems with the county’s electrical system amid high winds.
“Extreme weather and catastrophic wildfires pose real risks to our entire state,” PG&E said in a statement Thursday after the PUC’s decision. “To address these growing risks and those posed by the impacts of climate change, we must work together to find the right solutions. Wildfires and the way they are treated currently have real-world and potentially long-term impacts on the operations, risk management and financial standing of every energy company in the state.”
PG&E’s share price has fallen 22 percent since the October fires. It has $800 million in liability insurance to cover the fires, but on Monday in a regulatory filing it noted that state Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones estimated four weeks ago that the insured losses from the California wildfires so far total $3 billion.
“The estimate does not account for uninsured losses, interest, attorneys’ fees, fire suppression costs, evacuation costs, medical expenses, personal injury and wrongful death damages or other costs,” PG&E said in the documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The San Diego fires a decade ago were massive.
The Witch and Guejito fires in October 2007 combined to burn 197,000 acres. They killed two people, injured 40 firefighters and destroyed 1,141 homes and 239 vehicles. The Rice fire that same month burned 9,472 acres and destroyed 206 homes. It was caused by a dead tree limb falling on power lines.
The PUC ruled that San Diego Gas & Electric did not trim back trees as required by state law in the Rice fire — and that the utility was at fault in the other two. In the Witch fire, the power line that caused the fire shorted three times in three hours, investigators found, creating sparks, and it took the utility more than six hours to turn off its electricity.
After the fires, the utility faced $5.6 billion in legal claims. It settled approximately 2,500 lawsuits from people who suffered damages, bringing its costs down to $2.4 billion. The $379 million it sought to charge ratepayers are costs not covered by its insurance.
In August, two PUC administrative law judges disagreed with the utility’s claim that the fires were beyond its control. The judges, S. Pat Tsen and Sasha Goldberg, concluded that the utility “did not reasonably manage and operate its facilities” and thus could not pass along costs to ratepayers.
PUC commissioners agreed Thursday, upholding their ruling, although PUC President Michael Picker called it “a close call” and said the state Legislature should pass a law to allow the commission to divide up liability when there are multiple causes in fires sparked by power lines.
“The result here is quite clear. We can’t apply a standard that provides an incentive for a utility to act imprudently or unreasonably,” said Commissioner Cliff Rechtschaffen. “That would send precisely the wrong signals to the utilities.”
(San Jose Mercury News)
* * *
PUC RULES San Diego Gas & Electric can’t pass fire lawsuit costs onto customers
by Kevin Fixler
State regulators moved Thursday to deny a California utilities giant the ability to pass costs from a wildfire legal settlement onto its customers — a decision that could have broad implications for the fire-ravaged North Bay.
With its unanimous 5-0 vote, the California Public Utilities Commission rejected San Diego Gas & Electric’s request for authority to hike rates to cover $379 million in uninsured damages it must pay stemming from three costly wildfires in 2007. Ahead of the meeting, commission staff recommended against granting the petition that both PG&E and Southern California Edison supported. Two of the agency’s administrative judges wrote a lengthy opinion outlining how they found the publicly traded utility’s control and management of its facilities before the wildfires to be “imprudent” and “unreasonable.”
“There is no dispute that each of the fires were caused by SDG&E facilities and in each instance we find that SDG&E did not meet its burden to show that it acted as a prudent manager,” Commissioner Liane Randolph said Thursday.
In the 2014 settlement that satisfied the bulk of 2,500 lawsuits, SDG&E paid $2.4 billion in compensation and legal fees but avoided admitting fault for the Witch, Guejito and Rice fires that left two dead, injured 40 firefighters and destroyed more than 1,300 San Diego County homes. To recoup about one-sixth of those costs, the utility company sought to raise rates by what it estimated would be $1.67 a month for the average customer over a six-year period.
The commission’s long-awaited vote had been shelved four times for further review before finally taking place Thursday. And some believe the decision has the possibility of setting a precedent that precludes public utilities from shirking similar financial obligations in future fire litigation. The cause of October’s Northern California firestorm that killed 24 and destroyed 5,130 homes in Sonoma County remains under investigation. The results of a Cal Fire inquiry could still be months away, and PG&E stated in November its preliminary review suggests that private power lines maintained by a third party might have been the origin. Still, lawsuits have already begun to stack up against the region’s utility company.
Four state lawmakers representing the Bay Area have said they will introduce a bill in January that would prevent electric utility companies found liable from having consumers shoulder wildfire costs. Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, is among those who plan to sponsor the legislation, and, despite calling Thursday’s decision “gratifying,” he said the bill will still be advanced forward.
“North Bay residents experienced unbearable tragedy over the past two months, and neighbors should never have to pay for a corporation’s potential negligence. It would be simply unconscionable,” said McGuire. “We believe there needs to be uniform statewide standards on this issue.”
(Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
REDWOOD CLASSIC SCORES THURSDAY:
Clear Lake 74, Hoopa 48.
Laytonville 74, Valley Christian 51.
Anderson Valley 57, Tulelake 42.
Pinewood 68, California School for the Deaf 21.
RESSES’ MANY MESSES
On 11-27-17 at approx. 8:15 AM, Ukiah Police detectives were alerted to a credit card fraud in progress at Friedman Brothers, 1255 Airport Park Blvd. UPD detectives got in the cashier line behind the suspect, later identified as Jason Ress. Upon UPD detectives identifying themselves, Ress immediately attempted to flee on foot out of the store. Ress was quickly apprehended in the parking lot. Ress was arrested for resisting/delaying an officer, 148(a)(1) PC. Ress was found to be in possession of a meth pipe, a fraudulent California ID with a fictitious name (Greg Tate), along with approx. 15 fraudulent credit cards corresponding with the fictitious name.
Friedman Brothers employees advised that Ress had previously made numerous prior transactions at Friedman Brothers various locations (Sonoma, Petaluma, Santa Rosa, and Ukiah) for thousands of dollars worth of fraudulent transactions. Ress was arrested for Possession of false ID to facilitate forgery, ID theft, Possession of drug paraphernalia, Resist/Delay officer, Possession of a controlled substance for sale, Make fraudulent credit cards, Possession of credit card making equipment for counterfeiting, Possession of burglary tools, and Possession of stolen property. Ress was transported to the jail, where he was lodged. UPD detectives contacted Diana Ress (age 53) at the Fairfield Inn, where Ress had a room registered under his fictitious name. Ress had also used a fraudulent credit card to obtain the room. Diana was briefly questioned and released. UPD detectives secured the room while a search warrant for Ress’ hotel room and vehicle were obtained. It was discovered that Ress had recently been arrested in Scotts Valley, Ca. in August with his wife Diana Ress. At the time, the two were in possession of methamphetamine, 400 fraudulent credit cards, a machine to make fraudulent credit cards, stolen property, and a fake ID. UPD detectives served the search warrant on the hotel room and Ress’ vehicle. Detectives located another machine to make fraudulent credit cards, suspected methamphetamine, and a meth pipe in the motel room. Detectives also located approx. 1/4 pound of suspected methamphetamine, approx. 40 fraudulent credit cards, burglary tools, and suspected stolen property in Ress’ vehicle. On November 29, 2017, UPD detectives served a search warrant on Ress’ storage locker in Watsonville, Ca. More suspected methamphetamine and suspected stolen property was recovered. As of 11-30-17, Jason Ress remains in custody with a bail of $95,000. Charges are forthcoming regarding Diana’s involvement. It is suspected that Ress has made fraudulent transactions throughout Northern California. Anyone with information regarding this investigation is encouraged to contact the Ukiah Police Department.
(Ukiah Police Press Release)
Tim Shea 82, former Sheriff of Mendocino County & much-loved father, grandfather, brother, uncle and friend passed away on Nov. 18, 2017 in the loving embrace of family. Tim was born in Bakersfield CA on July 15, 1935. His family eventually moved to Fort Bragg, CA where he graduated High School with the class of 1953.
He served in the US Army and spent part of his tour in Germany, where his love for travel and adventure began. In 1957 Tim met Alma Grant in Ukiah and they were married from 1958-1995.
Tim began his career in Law Enforcement in 1960 with the Ukiah Police Dept, where he served for 11 years and achieved the rank of Sergeant. In 1972 he was hired by then-Sheriff Reno Bartolomie as his Undersheriff. After Sheriff Bartolomie retired, Tim served as a Sergeant with the Coast sector, based out of Fort Bragg. In 1982, he was elected Sheriff-Coroner of Mendocino County and served 2 terms, retiring in 1990. He was involved in numerous community projects and was a member of the Ukiah Kiwanis Club. Tim moved to Prescott, AZ in 2001 with his companion Edwina Carr, where they enjoyed many adventures and he pursued his hobby of Genealogy research. An avid reader, he also compiled an extensive list of books to read. In March of 2016, Tim moved closer to family in Texas, where he continued to live life with strength, love, humor and grace.
He is survived by his sister Barbara Greppi of Ukiah, children Diana (Ron) Welch of Austin, Tx; Mike (Christy) Shea of Santa Rosa, CA, Linda Finch of Nevada; his grandchildren Meredith (Narada) Hudson-Redfield of Ukiah, Brett & Alyssa Shea of Santa Rosa, Brian Finch of Ireland and great-grandson Bodhi Redfield of Ukiah. He was pre-deceased by his parents Carl & Esther, and brothers Dan & Jack. At his request, there will be no services, however the family will hold a Celebration of Life at a later date. If desired, memorial donations may be made to any children's benefit, Veteran's support group or the (national) Alzheimer's Association
ELK ICON GERRY HUCKABY PASSES
He Was The ‘Peace Sign Guy’
MIGUEL CORONA’S SON & ATTORNEY takes first step in $100 million lawsuit against Mendocino County
Attorney Timothy L. Joens, of Irvine has filed a claim against the County in the amount of $100 million for “a boating collision(s) [that] occurred on or about June 24, 2017, on or about Lake Mendocino and/or at or near 1297 Marina Dr., Redwood Valley, CA 95470 in which Mr. Miguel Angel Corona, was riding as a passenger in a boat which collided with another boat. The traffic collision(s) led to the wrongful death of Mr. Corona, father to claimant.”
Specific injury/Damages: Wrongful death of Mr. Miguel Angel Corona, Wrongful Death damages.
County employee(s) alleged to have caused injury/loss: “Unknown.”
COUNTY TO CREATE POT CZAR POSITION
Agenda Item 4r) “Adoption of Resolution Authorizing the Adoption of the Classification of Cannabis Program Manager and Changes to the Position Allocation Table as Follows: Budget Unit 1020 Add One (1) FTE Cannabis Program Manager; Budget Unit 2710, Delete One (1) FTE Assistant Agricultural Commissioner/Sealer Weights and Measures [i.e., not a new position, a redefinition of an existing position].”
SUPES TO DISCUSS how to appoint the usual suspects to the Measure B Committee while appearing to be independent.
Agenda Item 5e) “Discussion and Possible Action Regarding Consideration of an Application and Appointment Process for the Mental Health Treatment Act Citizen’s Oversight Committee (“Measure B Oversight Committee”) (Sponsor: Executive Office) Recommended Action: Approve the recommended application and appointment process for the Mental Health Treatment Act Citizen's Oversight Committee (‘Measure B Oversight Committee’) or provide alternative direction to staff.”
PRESIDENT BLUSTER was quick late Thursday afternoon to lead the electronic lynch mob in pursuit of the sad sack Mexican street person found not guilty of murdering Kate Steinle in San Francisco two years ago. Trump tweeted that the verdict was “a complete travesty of justice” and linked the jury verdict to what he called America's “weakly protected Obama border” — and issued a new demand that the US wall off Mexico from the United States. He also took issue with the amount of information that was raised in court. As if he had any idea what that information was. The president's sub-theme, as always, was, “If we can't get rid of all the Mexicans who are already here, let's build a wall to keep the rest of them out.”
BUT MUCH of the media were already saddled up and ready to go by the time the tweet monster swung into action. ABC Television News seemed typical. David Muir, the youthful hollow man who recounts what passes for the day's events on ABC News, framed the Steinle case this way: “Was she deliberately targeted or was it a ricochet?” The local ABC affiliate ignored the facts in favor of suburban outrage in Ms. Steinle's home town of Pleasanton, the news reader going so far as to describe the 'burb of 70,000 commuters as “close knit.” (Boonville has a population of about a thousand people and few of us know anybody outside our daily acquaintances. The last truly “close knit” American community had disappeared by 1980.)
SO, how did the jury make the travesty described by Trump? The Steinle facts are: An armed BLM agent leaves his loaded gun in his car in downtown San Francisco. Car smash and grabs being a way of life for a number of Frisco's street skells, the federal agent's gun is stolen and apparently abandoned beneath a bench on a pedestrian pier near the Ferry Building. Garcia-Zarate finds it, picks it up, the gun fires, and Ms. Steinle is hit by the bullet's ricochet and dies. The negligent federal agent who left his unsecured weapon in his car gets a promotion.
DID THE GUN just go off by itself? No, probably not unless it was re-engineered as a hair trigger. Garcia-Zarate must have pulled the trigger, but he did not aim at anybody and, in his typically drug-altered state, was apparently startled when the gun went off. G-Z then threw the gun into the Bay and shuffled off down the Embarcadero into the arms of the police who had quickly arrived on-scene.
GARCIA-ZARATE told the police exactly what happened, confirming the accounts of eyewitnesses. But he is immediately depicted as a dangerous illegal by our country's nascent fascist movement because he's been deported several times and has done some federal time for marijuana sales in between deportations. Garcia-Zarate instantly becomes the perfect scapegoat for Trump's fantasy of a wall between Mexico and our WalMarts.
MS. STEINLE'S FAMILY is an oasis of reason and quiet dignity in the murderous national clamor to undermine the jury system led by the President: “We have never had a second of anger — not a moment,” Ms. Steinle's father, Jim Steinle said. “Frustration, maybe, and sadness for sure, but no anger and no retaliation or vindictiveness or anything like that. We’re not that kind of people. Even if this guy gets 100 years in prison, it doesn’t solve anything; it doesn’t help anything. We would just like people to know ... that’s the Steinles’ feelings.”
SAN FRANCISCO being the national symbol of everything opposed by frightened, vengeful white people, the City takes a beating from the rightwing media as a sanctuary city, meaning a city that refuses to cooperate with ICE's arbitrary removal of non-criminal immigrants. In SF criminal illegals are subject to American law. Which is, in San Francisco and the rest of California, basically, SB54, the “California Values Act,” which prohibits state and local law enforcement from asking about a person’s immigration status or participating in immigration raids with the feds. It also limits the authority of police and sheriffs to share information on inmates’ release dates, or to transfer people to immigration authorities. An exception would be for those convicted of one of roughly 800 crimes in the past 15 years.
LITTLE DOG SAYS, “Late at night we get an invasion of the wild things. They come up out of Anderson Creek on the back forty. Possums, skunks, raccoons are too slow to hassle me, but every once in a while a coyote comes through. They're fast, mean, hungry and unpredictable. I'm quick, mellow, fed, and the very model of punctual predictability. They give me the evil eye and keep on going. So far.”
FIRE RECOVERY COMMUNITY MEETING
On December 6, the Mendocino County Fire Recovery Team will hold a community meeting to support fire survivors impacted by the Redwood Complex Fire. The Mendocino County Housing Task Force will provide information about temporary and long term housing strategies. Additional topics will include the future opening of the Survivor Resource Room that will provide ongoing recovery resources and support for fire survivors; and updates on debris removal and cleanup processes that are currently underway. Following the updates, there will be an opportunity to ask questions and address community concerns.
When: Wednesday, December 6, 2017 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Where: Eagle Peak Middle School Cafeteria, 8601 West Rd, Redwood Valley CA 95470
- Mendocino County Fire Recovery Team
- Mendocino County Debris Removal Task Force
- Mendocino County Housing Task Force
Live Online: This media briefing will be streamed live on the Mendocino County Facebook page and YouTube Channel.
Residents can submit question in advance at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information please contact the Executive Office at (707) 463-4441.
MISSING MAN IDENTIFIED AS BODY FOUND LAST DECEMBER
Today, a mother in Oklahoma watches for a package carrying her son’s remains. She’s tracking its path using a shipping number as the container makes its way across the country to her home. Inscribed on the package are words she asked a Humboldt County funeral director to write down. The message addressed to all who handle the remains of Austin Cade Brown simply says, “Mama requests that you handle this package as if he were your own son.”
The mother, 69-year-old Vicki Anderson, who asked those words be written on the package last talked to her 41-year-old son one year ago on December 13, 2016. Even though he was homeless, Vicki said he never went long without reaching out to her. “My son called no matter what,” she said. “Austin had problems and I know that….He had addiction issues, [but] it wouldn’t be more than 10 days that he would go before he called me. It doesn’t matter what he was doing.”
When Christmas came and went last year, she was worried sick. “I knew something wasn’t right,” she said.
Vicki didn’t have a lot of money but she was determined. “…I got hold of two women I found on Facebook. They worked with the homeless [in Humboldt County].” Vicki explained her concern about her son to the two local women and “they made posters and put them all over McKinleyville, Arcata, and even Eureka asking him to call home.”
He never did.
For the next 11 months, Vicki worried and wept. “He’s my youngest,” she explained. “I lost my oldest when he was nine to an accident. I kept thinking it can’t happen here again.”
She also did what she could. She entered him into NamUS, the National Institute of Justice’s National Missing and Unidentified Persons System. She worked with the Nor Cal Alliance for the Missing and reached out to the news media including us.
“I called the Public Information Officer of Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office and formerly entered him missing in…January,” she told us.
The two women who helped Vicki, Megan and Annie (who didn’t want their last names used), confirmed they had searched for Austin throughout the last year. However, though Annie put her phone number on the flyers and posters no one reached out to her. “I never got one call from anyone,” she said.
But Austin was familiar to many. “A lot of people did know him,” Megan explained. “Most [street] people we talked to recognized him. Everyone really liked him.”
But Annie said that when they dealt with people in authority, “I’d get concerned that [Austin’s disappearance was] not considered as important because of his lifestyle.”
As the year slowly unraveled, Vicki said she cried almost every day. Sometimes she heard terrible stories that she didn’t know if she believed they were true or not. At one point, a woman who had known Austin told Vicki that he had been murdered, “In June, I came across an address that I had sent [Austin] some Christmas presents,” Vicki said. She found a number and called. According to her, the woman there exclaimed, “I thought you knew. Someone shot him and threw him off the [Samoa] bridge.”
Vicki called law enforcement and told them what she had heard, but they reassured her that they hadn’t found any bodies that fit Austin’s description.
Eventually, the Thursday before Thanksgiving, Vicki got a call from the Humboldt County Coroner’s Office. An officer told her that the DNA from a body that was found on December 26, 2016–13 days after she last heard from her son–matched Austin’s.
Vicki said she felt “sick..just sick…I suffered for 10 and a half…11 months knowing he was in trouble. When I was out there begging for help, he was there …Girl, they had him there the whole time.”
Lt. Mike Fridley of the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department confirmed that the body found on December 26, 2016 near the Ma-le’l Dunes was Austin Cade Brown. Fridley said that Austin’s body was “pretty decomposed–all it was wearing was shoes and socks.”
He explained that though an autopsy showed Austin died from “cold water drowning” his body was “pretty well decomposed–no teeth, no fingerprints.”
The agency sent off DNA in January, Fridley said. They didn’t get results back until late November. Then they were able to match the results with Brown.
Fridley pointed out that the DNA is sent to a lab that is clogged with cases. He said, “A rush takes six to eight months.”
Since she got the news about her son, Vicki has been struggling. In part, this is because she would never see Austin alive again, but also because she is frustrated by how long it took for her to learn of her son’s death after his body was found.
“We need a change,” she said her voice choked with tears. “People are waiting years to hear…to find out what happened to their children…People are missing their children.”
Vicki said she doesn’t really blame the local Coroner’s Office, “I know how hard it is to do jobs like that,” she said. But, she would like to see changes in the system to help the families.
“This is a horrible system,” she said. “Something isn’t right…We can’t do anything about how this was done for Austin,” but she has a list of changes she’d like to see made to help families in the future.
- She’d like for the DNA process to be sped up
- She’d like a better system for connecting those who are missing with the unidentified bodies that are found
- She’d like better communication between the Coroner’s Office and the advocates for the missing.
- She’d like the Coroner’s Office to enter unidentified bodies into NamUS.
- She’d like those deceased family members who have been identified sent home sooner.
- She’d like to see more sensitivity training for both law enforcement and the Coroner’s office in how to deal with the families of the missing and she’d like for them to get support to integrate their training into their workplaces.
But most of all, she said, “I want some perceptions changed of those who are homeless…People have no idea who is out there on the streets and why.”
Vicki said she would like to tell Austin’s story so that people’s hearts “open to those who live outside the norm… Addiction is not a disease…It is a symptom of the state of our society… .”
She would like people to show more compassion to each other. “Handle everyone you see on the street as if they were your own son and daughter,” she pleaded. “Don’t get cynical and detach so much that you don’t have a heart anymore.”
When she spoke to us on the 28th, she said, “[Austin]’s not home yet. He’s still sitting in the Coroner’s Office. We won’t have peace until he is home.” But today, Vicki’s watching as the package moves across the country from Humboldt County to Oklahoma. “When he gets home to me, he can rest in peace,” she said. “He’ll not be cold or hungry anymore.”
[Vicki and Austin’s first names were used throughout the story at the request of Vicki]
(Courtesy, KymKemp.com / Redheaded Black Belt)
BY REQUEST (Reposted for any readers who may have missed this)
From Mendocino County Today, October 25, 2017
AT THE END of July of this year, an Elk Grove man, missing since Sunday, July 9, was found dead in the locked trunk of his silver 2000 Ford Mustang near mile marker 4 on Highway 128, not far from Highway One. His remains in the locked trunk of his car notwithstanding, there were no apparent signs of foul play. The dead man was subsequently identified as 76-year-old James Blanton, an African-American with family and friends in Elk Grove. Blanton, according to his family, had suffered diminished capacity associated with aging. A Fort Bragg woman, who'd stopped near the dead man’s car, apparently concluded from the odor of Blanton’s decaying remains that there was something in the trunk of Blanton’s car that the Sheriff should investigate. Blanton's Mustang had been parked off 128 near Highway One for at least two weeks. The CHP had left a ticket on the windshield unaware there was a body in the trunk. Anderson Valley people wondered at the circumstances of the man's death.
THE SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT, initially unable to account for Blanton’s odd death — no obvious cause — prompted a toxicological exam which found that he had committed suicide by the wholesale ingestion of acetaminophen. i.e., Tylenol, and had been reported missing from Elk Grove. Blanton left no explanation of his exit. Why he climbed into his trunk to die will forever remain a mystery.
THOUGHTS ON COAST DISTRICT HOSPITAL THOUGHTS ON STRATEGIC PLANNING FOR MCDH
by James Jade Tippett
I haven’t been coming to Mendocino Coast District Hospital meetings for very long, but I have gathered some of the history. From what I can tell, MCDH has been in a state of existential crisis since at least 2004. Correct me if I’m wrong. I also realize that existential crisis became the norm for rural hospitals a long time ago, so our hospital is not unique in this regard.
Moving from Crisis Driven to Vision/Mission Driven Planning
The ultimate goal of a strategic plan is to shift from crisis driven planning to vision and mission driven planning. This may be a most difficult task facing hospital governance, but exiting from crisis mode requires shifting out of crisis driven planning. From a governance perspective, crisis driven planning becomes habit forming, if you will. By jumping from crisis to crisis, governance never gets far enough ahead to address issues before they become crises. Thus, crisis driven planning, by definition short term, perpetuates crisis driven planning
Mission and vision driven planning are by definition long term in scope. Obviously, granularity and detail become more concrete in the shorter terms, new goals may be set, and discrete achieved objectives shift into the past. However, the overall goals and directions of strategic planning need to be on the five to fifteen year time scale.
The sticking point in shifting from crisis driven to mission/vision driven planning is that it requires working twice as hard. Crises still need to be addressed as they arise, while a long term view needs to be simultaneously developed with the intention of diminishing both the frequency and severity of crises until they become rare and indicative of areas of planning that have been overlooked.
A note needs to be made here that crisis driven planning shifts power from the Board, community and other stakeholders to management, in that ultimately management is responsible for directing the response to crises. Shifting from crisis driven planning to vision/mission driven planning increases the accountability of management to the Board, community and other stakeholders while providing a framework and support for management success.
Mention also needs to be made of the tendency toward searching for a “savior” in struggling public institutions, the mistaken belief that all it would take to turn things around is the right leader. Good leadership is essential to successful organizations, but organizational culture has a mass of its own that takes more than a single individual to shift. Involving stakeholders from throughout the hospital/clinic system, including patients and the community at large, in strategic planning creates buy-in in the strategic plan itself, making its implementation a collective effort, rather than a top-down initiative.
The tasks of strategic planning begin with generating a set of comprehensive domains that encompass all of the interlocking dimensions of the operation and distinguish them in such a way goals can be set that apply across the whole of the operation. The second step is to break each domain down into component parts so that essential questions necessary for planning can be identified and actions can be taken to address those questions, timelines, metrics and benchmarks can be developed, and responsibilities and accountabilities can be assigned.
The following is simply my personal “brain dump” of the domains and dimensions that I can come up with. It’s by no means exhaustive and is intended to be a starting point for discussion rather than a delivered product.
Domains of planning:
Operating solvency vis-a-vis accrual accounting — insuring on an annual basis that the hospital has sufficient revenue not only to sustain operations but also to allow flexibility and improvement in delivery of care.
Cash flow solvency — this refers to both adequate cash on hand to meet payroll, but also stabilizing the billing and reconciliation cycles so that cash flow is stabilized and predictable in the long term.
Capital improvement solvency — given the demands of the 2030 deadline, and the massive uncertainties facing the hospital on the level of physical plant compliance, there needs to be a long term plan for this.
Bond and parcel tax - Both of these need to be part of a long term fiscal plan.
Other revenue enhancing service streams
- Addiction services
- Long term skilled nursing care
- Events — e.g. Winesong
- Capital fundraising
- Legacy and bequest solicitation
- Facilitation and memorial dedication strategies
- Ongoing uncertainties
- Political shifts that impact Medicare/Medical reimbursement rates
- Economic shifts, recessions, etc. that affect the ability to borrow and cost recoveries.
- Patient count fluctuations
- Immediate needs
- OR HVAC
- Automatic Transfer Switch
- Information Technology Upgrades
- Capital equipment needs
- Medium Term
- Earthquake upgrades where possible
- Energy efficiency upgrades
- Long term — 2030
- New main hospital building
- Reduction in short term registry and locum tenans use
- Stabilize hiring around quality of care and patient loyalty — “Good doctors attract good doctors”
- Recruitment planning for long term resident physicians, nurses
- Purchase transition housing for new hires?
- Skill maintenance
- On-site training
- Physician and nurse exchange(s) with large urban teaching hospital(s) for hands on experience
- Advancing morale and commitment to the vision/mission of the hospital
- Career ladder, cross-training and planned redundancy of skills
- Employees as stakeholders involved in planning, hiring, policy-making
- Ownership beyond paying for it.
- Bond/parcel tax process as a community involvement vehicle
- Marketing as a pathway to provider loyalty
- Positive and supportive accountability
- Community rather than physician dominated Governing Board
- Expand committees
- Facility siting
- Community members on management level hiring committees
- Board meeting “road shows” — board meetings in various communities in the District
- Open houses, health fairs and community celebrations
- Placement for Mendocino College students
- Programs in the schools.
- Social media presence
- Print media presence
- Broadcast media involvement
Delivery of Care Improvement (This is the bulk of the Quorum plan)
- Care giver driven improvement
- Residency programs
- Feedback loops
- By department goals and evaluations.
- Support services
- Team approach with real-time cross checking
- Charting and patient information system
ABOUT OUR BOY BOB
I read the post by Jeff Costello about Bob Kasabian. Naturally there is a Mendo connection. The other guy in the picture, Charles Melton, lives in Ukiah on Clara Ave.
Charles Melton, who was friends with both Linda and Bob, was ripped off by Linda Kasabian for $5,000. which she promptly gave to Charlie Manson when first joining the Family. The story has it that Melton inherited the money and had it in cash because he and Bob were going to head to Mexico on an adventure.
Attached is a background report on Charles Melton. Also, a press photo of Bob and Linda Kasabian on their wedding day. The caption says that Bob was missing. He turned up shortly thereafter and had just been laying low, without informing his mom, around the time Linda had been arrested for the Tate murders.
A link to a recent Daily Mail article about Linda Kasabian. The Daily Mail is the UK answer to our National Enquirer.
CATCH OF THE DAY, Dec. 1, 2017
ALEJANDRO ANDRADE, Ukiah. Petty theft, disorderly conduct-alcohol.
ASHLEY AVALOS, Willits. Failure to appear.
MICHAEL DONAHE SR., Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)
DAVID GLANDERS, Willits. Probation revocation.
PAUL GOLYER, Ukiah. Trespassing, failure to appear, probation revocation.
GEORGE LAFORCE, Ukiah. Tampering with a vehicle, disorderly conduct-loitering, under influence, probation revocation.
JAMES LANGTON, Ukiah. Under influence, controlled substance.
DAVID NICKS, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, resisting, probation revocation.
DAKOTA QUAYLE, Upper Lake/Willits. Altering tear gas weapon ID mark, under influence, controlled substance, paraphernalia.
WALMART STOPS SELLING ‘ROPE. TREE. JOURNALIST. SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED’ T SHIRT AFTER OUTCRY
Walmart has pulled a T shirt which encouraged the lynching of journalists.
The $18.99 T shirt bearing the message “Rope. Tree. Journalist. SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED” was listed on Walmart.com through third-party seller Teespring.
Walmart removed it after a journalist advocacy group told the retailer it found the shirt threatening.
Walmart said: 'This item was sold by a third-party seller on our marketplace and clearly violates our policy.
'We removed it as soon as it was brought to our attention, and are conducting a thorough review of the seller's assortment.'
Teespring, which allows people to post shirt designs, confirmed that the shirt has been pulled and said it is working to prevent such content from slipping through its filters.
'As soon as we were alerted to this content promoting violence against journalists we removed the content, added this content to our automated scanning systems, and kicked off a human sweep of the site to find and remove any similar content,' the company said.
In August, Teespring had removed a 'rainbow swastika' T-shirt from its own site and said it would increase oversight of its product line.
The Radio Television Digital News Association said Walmart notified it about five hours after its complaint that the shirt was being removed.
'We are grateful for Walmart's swift action, but dismayed that it, and anyone else selling the shirt, would offer such an offensive and inflammatory product,' the group's executive director, Dan Shelley said.
The same shirt was spotted at a rally during the presidential campaign.
Shelley wrote in an email to Walmart: 'According to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, of which RTDNA is a founding partner, nearly three dozen journalists have been physically assaulted so far this year across the country merely for performing their Constitutionally-guaranteed duty to seek and report the truth.
'According to our fellow press freedom advocacy group Committee to Protect Journalists, at least 48 journalists have been killed in other countries around the world thus far in 2017.
'It is our belief that at the least, T-Shirts or any other items bearing such words simply inflame the passions of those who either don't like, or don't understand, the news media.
'At worst, they openly encourage violence targeting journalists. We believe they are particularly inflammatory within the context of today's vitriolic political and ideological environment.'
A letter to the editor in response to a story in Sunday's NY Times (In America's Heartland, the Voice of Hate Next Door):
To the Editor:
Why on earth would The Times describe a white nationalist and Nazi sympathizer as being “polite” and having “Midwestern manners” that “would please anyone’s mother”? A person who spouts anti-Semitic hate, denies the extent of the Holocaust and believes that people of different races should be separated is per se the opposite of polite, and certainly wouldn’t please any mom I know (or would want to know).
When we lose sight of what evil means, what it actually entails, we risk legitimizing and normalizing it.
Stephen A. Silver
by Andrew Sullivan
Is the gay-rights movement effectively over?
The thought occurred to me when I stumbled on the latest “social justice” cray-cray. From Canada, the land of mandatory super-wokeness, I give you the dawn of the LGGBDTT2SIQQAAPP community. That is: the lesbian, gay, genderqueer, bisexual, demisexual, transgender, transsexual, two-spirit, intersex, queer, questioning, asexual, allies, pansexual, and polyamorous movement. Now try pronouncing that one!
But in this neologism of so many consonants and tragically few vowels, I wonder whether we are being inclusive enough. I mean: Where does it address the intersectionality of the LGGBDTT2SIQQAAPP community with race? In my hometown of D.C., one ascendant coalition, No Justice No Pride, is on the case: “We exist to end the LGBT movement’s complicity with systems of oppression that further marginalize queer and trans individuals. Our members are black, brown, queer, trans, gender nonconforming, bisexual, indigenous, two-spirit, formerly incarcerated, disabled, white allies and together we recognize that there can be no pride for some of us without liberation for all of us.” The D.C. chapter has sister movements in most North American cities, and its message is at one with the critical gender and race theorists who now dominate the left’s worldview. So let’s add BBQGIFIDWA to the mix, so we do not unwittingly oppress some marginalized voices. Call it the LGGBDTT2SIQQAAPPBBQGIFIDWA community. I think I got that right.
But doesn’t that exclude some other crucial elements as well? Where are all the possible gender variants that are marginalized by this formulation? Sure, there’s only a limited number of consonants left — so why not just add an infinity sign to the mix, to include the infinite number of newly constructed genders that exist or are at this very moment coming into existence? Welcome to the LGGBDTT2SIQQAAPPBBQGIFIDWA∞ community. How does that feel?
For most of the straight people we need to engage, it feels like a near-parodic example of hair-splitting victimology and grievance-mongering. And to me, and many who once thought of ourselves as supporters of gay equality, it feels like an unpronounceable and impenetrable congeries of literally everything … and therefore nothing. It includes, for example, straights as well as gays, the cisgendered and the transgendered, the asexual and the hypersexual, the polyamorous and the monogamous. Which is to say, it includes every orientation — alongside the opposite of every orientation. It isn’t even about sex, because it includes those who are asexual, who want no sex and have no sex. It’s certainly not about love — a word that you will search for in vain in this intersectional discourse, because love is a bourgeois distraction from the constant ideological struggle.
And if it’s about resistance to oppression, and oppression is inherently intersectional, one has to ask: Why does it exist as a separate entity or movement at all instead of being just one small part of a broader coalition to deconstruct the white supremacy and masculinity that crushes every one who isn’t a white cisgendered male? And why does it actually include white, cisgendered males — i.e. most gay men — at all? Aren’t we the problem and not the solution? Do we not contaminate the pure victimology of it all? It certainly doesn’t feel very welcoming.
My point is that a political movement makes sense in a liberal society because it advances certain policy proposals, and not because it spends its time constantly defining and redefining who is or who is not part of it, or sees itself as just one sliver of a broader movement dedicated to an ideology a very hefty chunk of the gay world simply doesn’t adhere to or believe in. A gay-rights movement that has no place for centrists or independents or libertarians or classical liberals or just regular human beings who want to help out their fellows is really not a gay-rights movement any more. It’s one aspect of a wider neo-Marxist progressivism. Many will go along to get along, of course. But as time goes by, and these tendencies deepen, the white cisgendered men are likely to leave.
And that is a terrible shame because there is still important work to be done — extending employment protections for gay and trans people in those states without it, resisting the reopened question of transgender servicemembers, to take two pressing examples. The understandable inclination in the Trump era is to radicalize still further. But this is perverse insofar as it will divide gay-rights supporters by identity rather than unite them around a common goal, and because the remaining work requires engagement with the most conservative segments of society — voters in red states where the most vulnerable gays and lesbians and trans people reside. Doubling down on leftism makes that impossible.
We know this. It was only by engaging — rather than enraging — our opponents that we won so many victories this past couple of decades. Adding yet more woke consonants becomes at some point a form of narcissism that, in the guise of inclusion, actually leaves many of the most vulnerable to fend for themselves.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
The saddest irony is watching our Groper-in-Chief, from his unassailable perch in the Oval Office, jump on the bandwagon to condemn the horror of sexual impropriety in high places — provided the alleged perpetrators are Democrats, of course. Republican Senate candidates notorious for a sordid past of molesting teens and hitting on high-schoolers at shopping malls don’t seem to trouble the Orange Menace. Go figure. The sheer audacity of his hypocrisy is enough to make one’s head spin like the Linda Blair character in The Exorcist. Please, someone, just take away his Twitter toy, make him shut his pie hole, and force him to go away. Far, far, away. I hear Slovenia is nice this time of year.
MEMO OF THE AIR: GOOD NIGHT RADIO TONIGHT! LIVE FROM FORT BRAGG!
If you want to talk about your project on KNYO or read aloud your writing in person, or bring your instrument(s) and/or fellow instrumentalists and play a song or a short set, or celebrate your adopted ethnicity's ancient gods or psychedelic salamanders or spiritual massage-cheesecake recipe, you can drop by 325 N. Franklin after 9pm tonight and just barge in. Head for the lighted room at the back and get my attention. You're never interrupting me; I'm happy to see you. I have plenty of material to read to fill up the time whether you come or not, so there's no pressure. You can even show up, panic and flee without saying a word, and that will be good work; next time you'll go a step farther, and then another step, and before you know it you'll be running the place with an iron fist inside a velvet glove. (Glove sold separately.)
Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio: Every Friday, 9pm to about 4am on 107.7fm KNYO-LP Fort Bragg, including midnight to 3am 105.1fm KMEC-LP Ukiah. And also there and anywhere else via http://knyo.org or http://TuneIn.com
Ya know, you can have your own show on KNYO. Contact Bob Young: email@example.com and express your radiophilic desires. You'll be on the air before you know it. It's easy and fun. And it's your right.
Also, p.s., the deadline to email your writing to be read on MOTA is always about 5 or 6pm the night of the show. So you have plenty of time to get that together for tonight. Paste it into an email and press send.
WHIPPING POST POLITICS
by James Kunstler
Charlie Rose skulked offstage like a punch-drunk palooka with barely a whimper, and Matt Lauer offered up the now laughably pro forma press release of bathetic apology and contrition — no doubt micro-managed by his attorneys. But the hit on Garrison Keillor by his old friend Minnesota Public Radio seemed like a new low in the whipping-post politics of the moment.
Unlike the cases of Rose, Lauer, Louis CK, Harvey Weinstein, and Kevin Spacey, there seemed next to nothing in the case against Keillor. He says he placed his hand on a lady’s bare back, someone on the crew or cast or a guest on The Prairie Home Companion radio show he hosted for close to forty years. Maybe MinnPR has a file full of complaints against the old trooper, but if so they’ve released nothing, no details whatsoever, and unlike the previously “outed” line-up, in Keillor’s case no other “victims” have come forward on their own to establish anything like a pattern of truly bad behavior.
I happen to admire Keillor’s substantial body of work in print and radio, and the public persona he presented, which portrayed a lot of what was honorable, intelligent, charming, and funny in our national character, something we need to be reminded of in this new era of pervasive racketeering, affronts to the first amendment, ubiquitous porno-culture, and Deep State mischief. This may amaze some of you, but to me Keillor deserves to be ranked with Mark Twain as a literary icon. What he gave to his large radio audience over a very long run was of uniformly high quality — something manifestly absent in so many other areas of contemporary life and art.
Keillor was reputed to be a cold-fish backstage and offstage, a prickly Aspergery personality who avoided personal contact. He said as much in his very brief published response to getting fired.
“Anyone who ever was around my show can tell you that I was the least physically affectionate person in the building,” Keillor said. “Actors hug, musicians hug, people were embracing every Saturday night left and right, and I stood off in the corner like a stone statue.”
To me, the job on Keillor was a hit too far. I hope others out there with their frontal cortexes intact felt themselves crossing a threshold into a strange new un-American society where the merest allegation can instantly send anyone to perdition. It’s gotten to the point where any man who ever made pass at someone is now defined as a sexual predator, feeding the delusional trope that all women are everywhere and always “victims,” and that human nature itself has to be transformed to correct this flaw in human design.
Well, guess what — that’s not going to happen. Men will continue to initiate sexual liaisons and relations. They will make the first move. They will take a chance. They will be advised to act like gentlemen in doing this, but I don’t think that’s quite what the witch-hunters really want right now. The PC movement, with its branches in the media, on campus, and professional politics, is out for coercion and punishment by any means necessary. That’s why there are kangaroo courts in the universities, in case you haven’t noticed. Due process is not just unwelcome, it’s officially scorned as passe. The method du jour in the case of Garrison Keillor, so far, is career and reputational castration.
The so-called thinking class in this country seems unaware that the mixed-gender office workplace — where most jobs can be done by anyone — is a relative novelty in human history. Not only that, but if indeed we’re heading into a long emergency of collapsing techno-industrial arrangements — as I have asserted in my books and blogs — then we may once again find ourselves in world with different divisions of labor, and a manifest change of values to attend it. It’s laughable to me that so many well-educated people assume that our current mode of living is permanent, but I suppose that’s part and parcel of the religion of progress.
In the meantime, adults of the two sexes — and there are two sexes, not thirty-two — consort in the workplace with all kinds of stimulation and frisson quickening the scene, and we are foolish enough to be surprised when sexual mischief happens.
(Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting his Patreon Page: https://www.patreon.com/JamesHowardKunstler)