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Stickup

By way of analogy allow me to exaggerate about how to rob a bank without a gun.

First, you become an elected official—say, a Mendocino county supervisor. Thus, no need for a firearm. Use your mouth and guile. The bank is the County of Mendocino, essentially the citizens, who put their money into the bank by way of taxes and fees. The bank is broke, but the bank is flush.

As thieves, you hire a crafty Chief Executive Officer to explain this dichotomous bunk. She’s your inside man to soothe your conscience and lead you on to plan the job. Her name is Carmel Angelo, and for compensation you pay her off ahead of time with total pay and benefits that amount to $310,735 a year.

Still, you’re fearful. You wear nice clothes. Sycophants and bureaucrats press their needy lips to your derrière. Your nails are clean, but you watch cop shows on TV. There are people locked in jail who’ve robbed for cigarettes. You need a cop to help you out. How about Sheriff Allman? Will he look the other way — perhaps, even cheer you on? For that you offer him a raise of $21,000 bucks to add to his annual total pay and benefits of $258,526 dollars a year — more than the annual take home for the leader of China, Japan or France. Timing’s critical, so how about pulling the job off during the Christmas season when everyone’s busy with shopping and family plans? Okay, you’re set to go. No need for a mask. No need for a getaway car. You can rob in your cushy chair. Put your finger to the voting button — BINGO! — $24,000 greenbacks instantly fall in your lap!

Maybe you watched the theft last week. As for the Mendocino public — the chumps who fund the bank — nobody was there to see. However, Sheriff Allman was there waving pom-poms for the raise. There was also a man named Liberty — Ross Liberty, an extremely curious name. Liberty, outfitted in humble clothes and platitudes, also praised the raise. Allegedly, there are rumors that Liberty wants to be a supervisor too. Smart man — hooray for the red, white and blue!

Sheriff Allman, in a pink shirt and an optical illusion tie embellished with wiggly diagonal lines, blew money kisses to the board. However, our politician cop did offer a wiggly warning to the board that the raise could come back to bite them after they bit the bullet to stick their fingers in the till. Sheriff Allman cautioned, “in tomorrow’s paper, we’ll all pay hell,” an understatement if there ever was one, but Allman didn’t remove his handcuffs to stop the crime. In fact, he stood righteous before the board. The Sheriff said that the raise was nothing but “a little bump.” According to Allman, the “bump” creates competition for the job, implying that increasing pay for politicians creates better candidates and governance all around. Sheriff Allman, consider this: the political hacks in Sacramento and the Congress of the United States. Mr. Allman, I rest my case.

After the enablers had their say, they quickly disappeared. The chambers held nothing but empty air. Nobody was present to confront the board — the perfect setup for the perfect crime.

Actually, the robbery was rather boring. To embolden their nerves for the stick-up, the board babbled endlessly on. They spoke of metrics and something called the Slavin Study comparing compensation for politicians and bureaucrats in every county and town. They talked endlessly of item lines. They spoke of paragraph this and that; regulations by the score in full assault on our vibrant English language, dumbing it down to a boring chore that drives a listener fast asleep while the county bureaucrats and politicians concoct their devious schemes to turn our pockets inside out. Carmel Angelo is the Mother Hubbard of the county board. She leads her children on, tugging them by their ears; citing regulations by the score with help from County Counsel Elliot, assisting Mother Hubbard with her challenged wards.

Clearly the ringleader of the caper to crack the safe of the county bank was unassuming John McCowen, the chairman of the board. I’m not saying he’s passive aggressive, but he’s dodgy enough to lead a gang of robbers. Allegedly in his former Earth-First! life McCowen was known as Raven. A raven’s a ravenous bird. They rob the nests of other birds. Thus, Raven was the perfect leader to pull the caper off. During the meeting McCowen whined, “We (the board) are significantly underpaid by any reasonable standard…” The standard to which Raven was referring was the pay for supervisors on other county boards, but all that really tells us is that there are other voracious tongues slurping at the public trough.

Dan Hamburg, former congressman, cannabis capitalist and sex cult member, agreed, but pensively mused: “I’m kinda disappointed that there aren’t more people here.” Clever, Mr. Hamburg, but did you try to advertise? First you take the money and then what? Apologize to an empty room? Why do liberals always believe that confession cancels guilt and responsibility after they get what they want?

Like Sheriff Allman, Carre Brown agreed that increasing compensation attracts better candidates to the board. She’ll be leaving soon with a life-time pension in her purse. Georganne Croskey agreed. The theme of money garnering political quality dominated our den of thieves as they prepared to vote a raise for themselves. Croskey referenced her military career, stating that the military utilizes the “very best,” mis-assuming that this has something to do with cash. An E5, Navy Seal makes about $43,000 a year. With diving pay, jump pay and hazardous duty pay (like killing Osama Bin Laden) they get another $7,000, which, on average, adds up to not much more than $50,000 a year. There are other perks and per diems, but that’s what they basically make. Dedication, patriotism and public service factor in, but our County supervisors want $85,000 a month to demonstrate what they’re worth. In our modern time and place, public service has a price that rises higher every day.

As the pickpockets whined and schemed, another theme emerged in the robber’s lair. The supervisors claimed they must work seven days a week, answering calls twenty-four hours a day. So do firemen and cops. That’s what public service is all about. Besides, who’s keeping track? Do the supervisors punch a clock? Does Carmel Angelo watch their house or the Sheriff tap their lines?

Before they pulled the caper off, a final issue arose, sadly shameless on its face. When it came to raises now and in the future, to whom or what should the supervisors peg their future raise? Should they peg their raise to the rising salaries of elected, county officials, local judges, or officials in Sacramento? This egocentric discussion led to the final vote — not whether or not they should give themselves a raise — but to what group they should tie it to.

The culprits voted four to one for their big raise. Babyface voted no. However, Supervisor Gjerde didn’t vote to denounce the raise. He wanted to peg it to the Kissenfurzer in Sacramento, not the local crowd of elected officials dependent on our supervisors to get their “little bump” that in turn guarantees another raise for the folks who gave that “bump.” Got it? “One hand washes the other,” just like the Mafia says.

Attention, outlaws of Mendocino. Growing dope without a permit? Poaching abalones? Shoplifting? Preparing to rob a store? Stop! If you really crave some loot, I suggest you run for the county board.

Citizens, wake up! We’re at an impasse. Forget about spotted owls, forget about offshore oil, forget about the cannabis cup, forget about global melting, forget about Trump and the Russians, and forget about Hillary’s tears. The danger is here and now. According to, John Dickerson, the informed Cassandra of Mendocino County debt, who knows a lot more than the bean counters who juggle the books in our county seat, Mendocino is $277 million in the hole. $215 million is unfunded pension debt and there is no way to make it up (YourPublicMoney.com).

Friends and fellow fools, the roads will never be fixed. Never. Your taxes will go up, and your services will go down. In Mendocino County, on average, a logger makes $41,000 a year. A fisherman makes $29,000, a truck driver $42,000. Teachers make $59,000. A policeman often makes less than that. Hispanic women who clean toilets and make the beds in our coastal B&Bs take home $27,879 a year, grape pickers and vineyard workers about $30,000. Cannabis growers can’t report their income, but their heyday has probably come and gone. They’re subsistence farmers now. I’ll bet they’re lucky to clear $50,000 at most. The average income in Mendocino is around $42,000 a year. Presently, our board of supervisors has awarded themselves more than twice that amount. Twice! Think of this: a sheriff’s deputy, who would risk his or her life to save the life of one of us, are paid a pittance of a wage compared to Hamburg and McCowen who make their money on their butts.

To what do our supervisors aspire? Whom do they lead? Do they lead us, or do they lead the bureaucrats in our county seat, who—in truth — yank them around like puppets on a string? This is a county of beautiful things: the ocean, beach and trees, but, essentially, it’s a county of the poor. People in Mendocino County put place far above a higher wage. There’s no financial shame in that as the stars shine down through the redwoods and sun ascends the silent hills.

However, essentially progressive, this is the worst county board of supervisors I’ve ever seen. With their greedy grab for a raise, they’re not only out of touch with us, but there out of touch with themselves — who or what they thought they were.

2 Comments

  1. John Sakowicz December 31, 2017

    nice piece

  2. Eric Sunswheat January 1, 2018

    Yeah, despite repeated requests, the Board of Supervisors won’t build out the second framed area for another skylight, as they don’t want to improve the learning comprehension of public attendees, who might realize the Supervisors work for themselves, retirement, and silver purse campaign funding backers, not you and me.

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