- Rain Forecast
- Hardin v MCDH
- Hospital Pressure
- Oroville Fix
- Application Dwindle
- Big Band
- The End
- Ed Notes
- Little Dog
- Insurance Inventories
- Yesterday's Catch
- Helping People
- Baseball Day
- Stable Genius
- Emergency Protocols
- Climatic Consequences
- LakeCo Visions
- Neoliberal Agenda
- Marco Radio
BIG RAINS COMING AT LAST
by Sophie Haigney
A more powerful winter storm is bearing down on the Bay Area with the potential to bring up to four inches of rain to coastal mountains and up to an inch of rain in urban areas when it hits early next week.
“This is a more organized and stronger storm than we’ve seen,” Anna Schneider, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Monterey said. “The past few days have been a little weaker.”
The forecast calls for moderate to heavy rainfall, probably starting Monday afternoon and continuing throughout Tuesday, Schneider said.
While Schneider predicts 2 to 3 inches of rain on some of the highest peaks in the North Bay and Santa Cruz Mountains, KPIX-TV's chief meteorologist Paul Deanno is going even higher, forecasting up to 4 inches in some mountain areas, but he adds that the mountains are better equipped to absorb rainfall at those amounts.
Deanno explains, "If we got that much in SF or Oakland, it would be a huge problem with urban flooding. In the mountains, we don't have to worry about that. That said, we'll be watching the burn scar areas from the Wine Country wildfires closely early next week."
As for San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, and the other urban areas?
“At lower elevations, we’re probably looking at more like an inch,” Schneider added.
Southerly winds are predicted to reach 20 to 30 mph along coastal ranges with gusts up to 50 mph.
“In other areas, it will be breezy and gusty, but below what we’d consider for a wind advisory,” Schneider said.
The storm could be good for resorts at high elevations in the Sierra, where the snowpack this year has been anemic. A recent survey determined that it’s at 24% of average for this time of year.
“There’s definitely a possibility that elevations above 7,500 to 8,000 feet will get a couple of feet of snow,” said Zach Tolby, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Reno.
For resorts like Heavenly Mountain and Squaw Valley, where peaks are higher than 8,000 feet, that’s good news. For lower resorts, not so much. They can expect an inch or two of rain.
“It’s a warm, subtropical moisture system,” Tolby said.
Still, this storm might be better than nothing.
“We would like it to be 2,000 feet lower to get a good snowstorm,” Tolby said. “But after such a dry December, any good precipitation and snow will help the conditions out here.”
HARDIN v MCDH et al.
by Malcom Macdonald
The paperwork detailing the charges in the case of Hardin v. Mendocino Coast District Hospital, Bob Edwards, Wade Sturgeon, and Steve Lund is now public. Ellen Hardin was the Human Resources Chief Officer at Mendocino Coast District Hospital (MCDH) until placed on administrative leave in December, 2016 by Edwards, the hospital's Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
Sturgeon is now the former Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at MCDH and at the time Hardin was placed on leave Lund was the brand new president of the hospital's board of directors. Hardin's complaint in federal court cites violations of the labor code, the federal false claims act, violation of the 1stAmendment of the U.S. Constitution, defamation, discrimination, negligent supervision, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, as well as harassment claims. The hospital itself is a defendant based on the alleged acts of Edwards, Sturgeon, and Lund, its chief administrators and chief elected official.
Hardin, who is represented by attorney Twila White of Los Angeles, lays out the chronology of events that necessitated her lawsuit. Hardin was hired at MCDH in September, 2015, at the same time Sturgeon came on board the floundering S.S. MCDH as its chief financial officer.
Hardin claims that in late August, 2016, she learned of several complaints of alleged fraudulent billing from two long-time account billers who worked in the business office. They complained to the Human Resources (HR) Chief, Hardin, about possible fraudulent billing of government insurance programs (Medicare/Medical/Medicaid), and complained of harassment and retaliation associated with reporting this to management.
On September 6, 2016, Hardin told CFO Sturgeon about the complaints from the two long time account billers as well as harassment and retaliation allegations associated with them reporting this to management through a billing office manager. Both the billing office manager and Sturgeon were advised by Hardin to cease and desist from any activity that could lead to further allegations while an investigation was conducted.
On September 26, 2016, Hardin met with CEO Edwards, noting that she continued to deal with issues involving the CFO and the investigations related to the allegations of fraud. Edwards allegedly asked Hardin if she 'had had enough yet' and if she was ready to 'give Plant Services back to Wade [Sturgeon].' As well as HR Chief Hardin had been in charge of Plant Services, which included overseeing plant maintenance, housekeeping, security, and biomedical engineering.
Hardin's lawsuit claims that from that September 26, 2016 meeting onward she was the target of discrimination, harassment and retaliation in various ways, including unwarranted discipline, criticism, stripping of her responsibilities, demotion, denying requests for time off, making false claims about her job performance, suspension, leaking confidential information to the news media, defamation, and ultimately termination.
The former HR Chief states that she had no choice but to report the fraudulent billing issues since they have serious legal implications. It would be a violation of federal and state laws for MCDH to engage in fraudulent billing, which is why she went to the CFO and CEO and reported the issues in the first place.
Hardin's lawsuit cites numerous other complaints regarding Edwards and Sturgeon's handling of hiring and billing matters including a December 2016 meeting with a patient account manager, who had found major problems in the coding and billing done by the hospital’s new emergency room provider, EmCare. These billing errors could have resulted in the loss of millions of dollars in MediCare Periodic Interim Payments (PIP) for the hospital, all of which was detailed to CFO Sturgeon in a November email authored by the patient account manager. The patient account manager apparently noted the problem concerning EmCare’s billing to Sturgeon in person, with a comment along the lines that if Medicare found out MCDH’s administration was sitting on potential billing fraud for months, they (Medicare) would come in and take over the hospital’s administration. Sturgeon did not take kindly to such a remark. He responded that if anything like that happened, then the employee and all of her co-workers would lose their jobs.
The EmCare billing issue has been discussed in a number of earlier AVA articles throughout 2017. A heretofore unknown allegation arises in Hardin's lawsuit filing. In early November, 2016, Edwards summoned Hardin to a meeting that also included Sturgeon. The topic was a Hispanic employee receiving a promotion to lead a department. A standard pay increase, dictated by contract and practices, accompanied the promotion. However, Edwards and Sturgeon did not want the employee to receive the increase in salary. According to Hardin, CFO Sturgeon even instructed a payroll specialist to manually override the salary increase.
According to Hardin's filing, in the first week of January, 2017, MCDH Board President Steve Lund informed Hardin that she would remain on paid administrative leave pending investigation into complaints. However, Hardin's complaint goes on to state that on March 13, 2017, she was notified by Steve Lund that 'MCDH is willing to offer you [Hardin] severance pay in exchange for a standard separation and general release agreement. Regardless of whether you accept MCDH’s severance pay offer, your employment with MCDH will end on March 25, 2017...'
At the end of a March 16, 2017 MCDH Board closed session meeting regarding CFO Sturgeon's job performance review, Lund stated that the board would be conducting further interviews with MCDH staff before rendering any decision on the CFO's performance. There were no further interviews with MCDH staff. In addition, much of the CFO's performance review was predicated on the charges made against the CFO by Hardin. If Hardin's allegation regarding Lund telling her three days before, on March 13th, that she was being terminated, is true then not only was the March 16th closed session job performance review a foregone conclusion (read: farce) it also demonstrates that Lund's statement to the public about conducting further interviews was nothing less than utterly misleading. In essence Lund doubled-down on public misinformation.
In a followup on the recent story about Transparent California not being able to get MCDH officials to supply salary information for the years 2014, 2015, and 2016 (coinciding with Edwards' tenure): If readers check Transparent California's website they can now find the MCDH salary information for 2015. However, as of the end of the first week in January the same info for 2014 and 2016 is not forthcoming.
Mom spent a lot of time in emergency and I have reported on this kind of thing over the years. I don’t feel its unique to MCDH. The "run everything like a corrupt multinational" wave is the biggest cause of the problems.
All hospitals are under tremendous pressure to send people home. There is no such thing as a comfortable hospital stay really anymore. Mom had a bad fall and they did a miraculous job of fixing her up two years ago. But the pressure started right away to go home. Another time she was sent home because she wasn’t getting any better and couldn’t really get any better, near the end. I had to take her home Sunday night at my own wit's end.
That doesn’t count. The MCDH is responsible for how they respond to the tremendous "kick them out" pressure that insurance provides.
But it’s not responsible for the pressure. Since the Reagan revolution, we have been cutting and cutting support and services while doing NOTHING to control insurance costs, that's the sacred market the GOPERs worship you know. The life of an elderly person isn’t important compared to infringing on the "markets" right to determine everything and the market says kick em out and count your losses at the cemetery.
When mom did go home we had the most spectacular support possible from the Home Health Dept of MCDH. They went the extra mile and then some and made the ending of her life at home possible. In some ways, this was a defiance of the almighty god of the market. This persistent psychosis in our society is now about to have Ryan and company steal my Medicare and Social Security that I worked so hard for.
I got testy once and objected to two decisions to send home early. Back 20 years ago a family could ACTUALLY GET a weekend off from care of a person on social security, imagine that better Great Society vision all gone now in the wave of hatefulness and spite for those of us not born sitting on a mountain of money.
I think critiques are important and others may have had entirely different perspectives. I wrote down all that went on thinking I might be mistreated and need to object formally somehow or by writing up something. But I think they performed from a grade of C to a grade of A+++++++ with nothing approaching a failing grade. the big insurance written hospital ejection laws rate an F but nobody who backs all that has the ability to listen and we are powerless to confront this horrific alliance between government and global crony capitalism that rules our lives. I say THANKS VERY MUCH to MCDH even though I was pretty irked a couple of times. You were a lifesaver in the end and I can’t imagine living here without a hospital.
Oh, and I worked for MC Mental Health 10 years ago and often worked IN emergency. It has improved quite a bit over that time.
PETS OF THE WEEK
Shiloh's been in foster care since the end of September. She's still timid, but has made lots of progress, and she's learning to trust her foster guardian. Shiloh is a 3 year old, spayed, female, mixed breed dog who weighs 53 pounds. Shiloh’s foster Mom says: “Shiloh’s learned to spontaneously come up to me now, seeking affection, and that took several weeks. Shiloh is ‘Crate trained,’ Housebroken. Knows sit, look, find it, and started work on shake. Shiloh is very dog friendly, loves to play with other canines, and she's been on lots of play dates with another shelter dog buddy.”
Who loves to play dress up? This guy right here! Gandalf is a 4 month old, neutered, male kitten. He lives with his sister and brother who are also short hair tabby kittens. Gandalf spends his days playing with his siblings and napping. He is an affectionate kitten who also enjoys attention from "the humans."
The Ukiah Animal Shelter is located at 298 Plant Road in Ukiah; adoption hours are Tuesday - Saturday 10 am to 4:30 pm and Wednesday till 6:30 pm. To view photos and bios of our adoptable dogs and cats, please us visit online at www.mendoanimalshelter.com or visit the shelter. Join us the 2nd Saturday of every month for our "Empty the Shelter" pack walk and help us get every dog out for some exercise! For more information about adoptions please call 707-467-6453.
Today is January 4. We had a little over half an inch of rain. Highway 128 is underwater. All the traffic is coming around through the Comptche Ukiah Road, car after car after car. The road gets worse every day. Nothing is being done. The environmentalists are just delirious with glee because even though the road is underwater, the little salamanders and frogs and tadpoles and other life in the estuary is safe. They don't care about the road. What matters is the frogs. To hell with the state highway. That's amazing. That's the mentality these people have right now. It has nothing to do with what they think is right. They must be from another planet. They were on another planet and at some point the beings there got so sick and tired of them up there that they sent them down here and now we have them.
They're calling Jerry Brown Governor Moonbeam again. He gave a big lecture about global warming and climate change. How much BS is he going to put out to the public? They are having record cold temperatures, freezing weather in the Midwest and the East. It's never been this cold before. And it's moving toward the west. That liberal prostitute Al Gore, how money million dollars has he sucked out of the public advertising this global warming and climate change? What a joke.
The federal people inspected the Orville dam recently and the problem is it's long overdue for infrastructure work. They let it go too long. It's all California's fault. As usual. Maybe Governor Brown can stick his head in the water and suck the water into his mouth and then let it out his you know what. The dam would then be dry and they can fix it and then it could be filled again. That's a good idea! It's amazing what people put up with around here.
Of course Southern California doesn't count, but here in Northern California where we have to suffer through all this crap I guess people can take it because they do nothing about it. They just sit on their couch with their feet up and let the other guy take care of it. Too bad. Really sad.
God bless Donald Trump,
MENDO POT PERMIT APPLICATIONS, 2017
[x] A significant drop off after the first three months as the details of the program became more and more apparent.
[y] They don’t even bother to report permit approvals any more. Only a few dozen have been approved, whatever that’s worth and however much that cost.
BIG BAND AT EAGLES' HALL
Hey Big Band fans! We are playing @ Eagle's Hall in FB on Saturday the 20th, from 7 - 10PM. There will be libations (beer & wine), food, and a dance contest. Tickets are $15
THE END OF THE ROAD
(Photo by Dick Whetstone, Fort Bragg)
OVERHEARD at the Good Earth organic market in Fairfax. A middle-aged couple sits at a table with a slender, bearded man in white cotton scrubs and rope sandals.
Rope Sandals says, "If Trump wants war, so be it."
"We'll hit the barricades," the middle-aged man says. "We'll write letters. Have bake sales."
His wife nods, but stipulates, "Yes, but no refined sugar."
"Fructose and corn syrup were created by the Bilderbergers,” Rope Sandals clarifies. "I've seen a PDF of the original meeting notes."
Middle-aged man looks at his watch. "Nice chatting, Tommy, but we gotta go. Tonight's the finale of Dancing with the Stars."
Rope Sandals, incredulous: "What? You own a television?!"
SPOTTED in San Anselmo, a small boy, 8 or 9, with four nerf rifles and a nerf pistol, his chest nearly invisible beneath the weaponry. Nerf guns were big sellers this Christmas among 6-to-9 year olds.
HOLLY RAWLINS has taken on the beast. Employed by the historically stumbling Point Arena School District for 23 years, Ms. Rawlins won herself a summary heave-ho last year by district superintendent Brent Cushenbery, himself offed later in the school year, when she complained about Cushenbery's odd disposition of harassment complaints by 11 high school girls. (He had each girl separately write their version of events as Cush slapped on his sleuth's hat to determine if they plausibly coincided.) The girls had complained that a teacher was not only inappropriately hands-on with them, he was verbally given to lech talk. The teacher was also fired.
MS. RAWLINS has sued the district for her dismissal and "takes to task the Independent Coast Observer" for allegedly publishing a letter from her that she didn't want published. She says the ICO reporter assured her the letter would be kept private. The ICO published it, then Cushenbery hustled into print with a point-by-point refutation, summing up by calling Ms. Rawlins a liar. (Rawlins's complaint re the ICO is a he said / she said affair unlikely to go anywhere.)
IT'S ALL REMINISCENT of the sexual charges leveled almost twenty years ago at a Point Arena High School staffer (and EMT/teachers union rep) named Steve Juriest. Complaints about Juriest became so numerous the school board hired an investigator who found more than 30 instances of sexual misconduct involving him and any number of high school girls.
JURIEST, a married man who also functioned as Point Arena's teacher's union rep, mobilized Point Arena's craven faculty to raise some $9,000 with which he could fend off the school board's inquiry as he simultaneously threatened to sue anybody who made the accusations public. Juriest's critics were bullied into silence, but school authorities confirmed the charges by prohibiting Juriest from accompanying students on overnight trips and also directed him keep his office door open when a student was with him. But Juriest kept on keeping on, as the school board and school admin kept on turning over until the district was led (sic) by a smarmy incompetent called Mark Iacuaniello, fired at both Laytonville and Mendocino who, natch, supported Juriest.
JURIEST eventually moved on to a nebulous position with the Sonoma County Office of Education, as the administrative turmoil at Point Arena went on and on and on. We remember a brave letter in the ICO, circa 2001, confirming Juriest's predations from Erin Buechner of Gualala:
"In October of this year, I presented a formal complaint to our school district and board about an incident between me and a teacher at the high school. Since arriving home for the holidays, I've become aware of the magnitude of this issue. This is not an issue between the teachers at the high school. This is not an issue in which sides shall be determined. This issue forces us to check each of our deepest morals in raising our children. True, I am not a mother but I've watched the many generations behind me grow from toddlers to adults just as everyone else in this community has.
"It disgusts me to hear of recent (and ancient) stories of harassment and abuse in our school system. My own story is not a rumor. It is only one of such cases that I've witnessed myself. But due to the years since then, the Statute of Limitations protects him. I guarantee there are other impressionable teenagers today who trust this man's support, authority and knowledge. It took me four years after graduating before I knew I was a ‘victim.’ The rumors I'd heard from others before me were real. Those back rubs and medical exams I'd seen and experienced by this man have a bad name in legal jargon. Today's stories exist similarly but our kids don't know yet that these actions are illegal. A ‘life skills’ class may be helpful in teaching our children how to recognize signs of sexual harassment, but will they teach them to recognize abuse of authority?
"As parents, family, friends, students, and concerned community members, we can demand the immediate problem be eliminated from our educational settings. This man's history of secret agendas has not been secret to all.
It surprises me to know that some of our other teachers and community members have sensed this and allowed it to take place for 15+ years. They have ‘turned their heads’ in implied ignorance because they, too, are victims of this man's oppressive nature and ‘superior’ position.
"I write to all of you not as a daughter of two individual parents but as a daughter of this strong and loving community. You may know me as an alum of our PA schools, but today I'm just a concerned citizen who is worried about our girls (and guys) at Point Arena High School of today and tomorrow.
"Lastly, I urge you all to honor the students and teachers of the past and present who have and will bravely step forward with experiences of their own for the Superintendent and school board to hear. These are the individuals who risk their reputations, dignity and their jobs to honor the morals that we should all value as a community."
I'VE SPENT much of the last two days reading a samzidat on-line copy of “Fire and Fury.” Conclusion? If half of it's true and, in its gossipy way it seems careful, the Golden Golem of Greatness exists in a radically deteriorated mental state bordering on dementia, and more to be pitied than schadenfreud-ed. The only question I have, as the countdown to his removal nears, How crazy are the people around him? If GGG wants to nuke Korea or Iran on his way out the door, are the people around him as nuts as he obviously is?
IN 1967, the little woman and I, and baby makes three, rented a two bedroom Frisco flat at 24th and Dolores for $90 a month. A one-bedroom apartment in SF now goes for $3,250 per, hence help wanted signs in every district of the city because labor can't afford to live there. Mendocino County? A habitable one-bedroom in Ukiah will run you two grand monthly and up.
ONE MORE TIME — the official reason why the sandbar isn't blasted open at the mouth of the Navarro:
RENEE PASQUINELLI State Parks:
“State Parks is responsible for management of the Navarro property. We too have received questions regarding the closure of the river mouth. This situation has existed for decades; the difference is the previous tenant of the Mill Keepers house artificially breached the mouth (sometimes in the middle of the night) to protect his chemical shed. Below is a recent response that I wrote to Superintendent Loren Rex regarding the Navarro breaching question: River breaching is subject to regulation by the Army Corps of Engineers, Regional Water Quality Control Board, State Lands Commission, and CA Department of Fish and Wildlife. State Parks does not have the authority to simply breach the mouth. Also, past studies have concluded that artificial breaching without adequate rainfall can be lethal to estuary species. Estuaries contain salt and fresh water; the heavier salt water sinks to the bottom forming a highly saline lens beneath a somewhat freshwater upper layer. Breaching siphons off the top freshwater layer, leaving the highly saline layer beneath. Organisms that were able to escape the toxic saline layer prior to breaching have been trapped at the bottom and killed by the saline “brine.” I have literally seen thousands of dead fish, crabs, and other organisms at the Navarro after an illegal breaching incident several years ago. Unfortunately, the Navarro discussions escalate only when people see the closed river mouth and want access to the beach. This stimulates a perception that something has to be done now. Ideally, we need a long term management plan for the Navarro estuary. As I recall from my past work in the Russian River area, Sonoma County Water Agency ultimately worked with Army Corps, the public, and the other regulatory agencies to develop a river mouth plan that included breaching — but the work was justified to prevent flooding of private residences on the lower Russian River. Also, as I recall, the compromise was that the river had to be monitored such that breaching could only occur when certain ecological conditions existed. I would welcome the opportunity to work with CDFW and the other regulatory agencies to pursue funding for a long term plan. For now, there is little threat to the Navarro facilities from the high water level (the Inn was raised a few years ago), and as I understand, there is a great potential for die off of sensitive species if illegal breaching occurs.”
LITTLE DOG SAYS, “I was advised to Zen-exile Skrag — blank him out, pretend he doesn't exist. First thing this morning, he moons me and yells, ‘Zen this out, Little Dog.’ He's gotta go.”
A WILLITS READER WRITES:
“Happy peaceful New Year 2018. It’s getting harder here all the time. We survive. I plant onions, potatoes, make bread, cook beans, pay higher and higher taxes, up and up and up! Supervisors? Awful! Simply awful! They get more and pay goes up and up and we get nothing. But we carry on.”
INSURANCE COMPANIES WON’T PAY
Three months have passed since many of us lost our homes. Most of us have rallied from our initial shock and are eager to begin rebuilding our homes and our lives. However, we now face an obstacle that threatens to delay, if not derail, our recovery.
This threat is the requirement mandated by our insurers to create an inventory of every item lost in the fire before they will decide how much they will pay in compensation. In effect, our reconstruction efforts are being held hostage by insurance companies, since we cannot move forward until we know what resources we will have available to rebuild and since the inventory process could take years to complete.
Three logical observations:
[x] Based on the advice of our insurance agents, we paid premiums to purchase insurance designed to match our maximum coverage to our belongings’ total value.
[x] We lost all our belongings.
[x] We should be compensated at our maximum coverage level.
Therefore, I would implore all insurers to do the right thing by complying with state Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones’ request to eliminate the onerous inventory requirement and reimburse at the maximum level for maximum loss.
CATCH OF THE DAY, January 6, 2018
ERNESTO ACOSTA, Ukiah. DUI, probation revocation.
LELAND BEAN JR., Willits. Probation revocation.
ANTHONY BILLY, Hopland. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
KIMBERLY BURD, Redwood Valley. DUI, under influence.
DUNCAN CHARLES, Ukiah. Ukiah. Conviction of “certain misdemeanor” within ten years concerning possession or receipt of unspecified material, probation revocation.
MANUEL DURAN, Willits. Rape while victim incapable of giving consent, domestic abuse.
JESSE GIBSON, Calpella. Calpella. Probation revocation.
JOSE LUA-BARAJAS, Ukiah. DUI.
MATTHEW LYNCH, Portland/Redwood Valley. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
RICARDO OSUNA, Los Angeles/Ukiah. Controlled substance, transportation of organic drug.
MICHAEL PELKEY, Fort Bragg. Under influence, probation revocation.
EDWIN SANCHEZ-DEJESUS, Potter Valley. DUI, DUI while on suspended license, false ID.
TONY STEPHENS, Willits. Domestic abuse, battery with serious injury.
IT'S ONLY FAIR
This winter, with all its semi-apocalyptic weather events, has focused attention on the need of people for shelter. And the elephant who would otherwise be in the room has grown so big that he has become homeless.
Considering some of the second dwellings being built in this area, it seems that some of us have so much excess money that our imaginations cannot invent a satisfying means of spending it. It is unreasonable that a community with such abundant resources has thousands of people living under freeway overpasses.
We can afford housing for everyone who needs it. We can afford a government that can address public needs. Helping people who need help is fun.
We don’t need tax cuts for the rich.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
There is no style of clothing that is more ridiculous than the modern day suit and tie. Cold in the Winter, hot in the Summer, you can’t put anything in any of the pockets without looking like you have goiters. It is the garb of today’s thief, the grafters, the snake oil salesmen, the evil bankers and the mortgage foreclosing Granny killers. I am at a loss as to why all of the worthless men in society insist on covering themselves in them. As a warning to others perhaps? That at least makes sense. No civilization was every constructed by a man wearing a suit, nor was a single brain tumor ever removed with a suit garbed surgeon. Those who create value for society do it with their hands and dress accordingly. Those who steal value from others use their mouths. Perhaps there are better uses that we can put those lying tongues to eh?
PRESIDENT TRUMP BOASTED of his “two greatest assets” on Twitter early Saturday, saying he is known for his “mental stability” and “being, like, really smart.” The president began his early-morning tweet storm by slamming the “fake news mainstream media” for scrutinizing his “mental stability and intelligence.” “I went from VERY successful businessman to top TV star to President of the United States (on my first try). I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius … and a very stable genius at that!” The president’s self affirmations appear to be in response to Michael Wolff’s upcoming book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. Citing White House insiders and Trump aides, the book paints a picture of utter dysfunction under Trump, who is said to alarm some aides with habits described in the book as signs of low intelligence and mental instability.
NORTH BAY LEGISLATORS officially introduced a bill that will set statewide emergency alert protocols following the devastating firestorm that ravaged Sonoma, Napa, Lake and Mendocino counties, destroying over 6,000 homes, scorching more than 170,000 acres, causing billions in damage and resulting in the death of more than 40 residents.
“The size and scope of wild land fire events in California are only getting worse. It’s clear there are shortcomings in our emergency alert system and residents deserve timely notifications and up-to-date information,” Senator Mike McGuire (D-North Bay) said. “Lives depend on the Legislature and Governor taking swift action to ensure statewide emergency alert standards are adopted, training is implemented and funding is secured to ensure communities big and small have reliable alert systems deployed.”
SB 833, introduced this week by Senator McGuire, along with Joint authors Senators Bill Dodd and Jerry Hill, and Principal Co-Authors Assemblymembers Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, Marc Levine and Jim Wood, creates statewide emergency alert protocols.
There are several different emergency warning systems available to counties that alert residents through cell phone calls, text messages, and landline recordings. Some systems require residents to “opt-in” to the alert notifications, and others have limitations on how they can be targeted in specific areas.
SB 833 will require every county in California to adopt the up-to-date Wireless Emergency Alert system with trained operators who can implement an evacuation order using the alert system. The legislation will also set out standards for when counties should use the system, the legislation will mandate that alerts have to be sent out via landline telephones and mobile phones along with other communication mediums, it will advance communication between counties and the state at the start of a disaster and it will create guidelines and protocols for when and how the alerts should be sent.
“When wildfires and other disasters strike, it’s critical that impacted residents get emergency alerts as quickly as possible,” said Senator Bill Dodd (D-Napa). “Regardless of where you live in California, everyone should be able to rely on a comprehensive, modern warning systems that gets information to the people who need it, when they need it. Emergency alerts can save lives, which is why Senator McGuire and I are partnering with our colleagues in the state Assembly to advance a system that meets our twenty-first century needs.”
“The raging wildfires endangering Californians across the state is without precedent. Lawmakers must protect our communities with the best safety notifications available to prevent loss of life during emergency situations,” said Assemblymember Marc Levine (D-Marin County). “All California communities should have dependable emergency alert systems and be notified when lives are in danger.”
“The recent devastating fires in Northern California have put laser focus on our need to fix our emergency notification system,” said Assemblymember Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg). As we now see with the fires in Southern California, the time is now to protect our residents with a system that works for everyone, both urban and rural.”
“As a Member of the Joint Committee on Emergency Management, we heard testimony this week on how critical it is for local governments to alert our mutual constituents in times of crisis,” said Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters). “I’m happy to join in this effort with my legislative and local government colleagues, and I look forward to continuing our work together that started during the North Bay wildfires. As the recovery continues, we must also stay vigilant to protect people in the event of future emergencies.”
“Last year’s fires exposed deadly problems in our emergency alert patchwork,” said Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties). “I applaud Senator McGuire for leading this effort to make sure that the state and local governments properly notify and evacuate residents to save lives during emergencies.”
Senator Mike McGuire’s Office Press Release
by John Davis
On December 22nd the skies over Southern California lit up with the afterburn of a Space-X rocket, launched from Vandenberg Air Force base, a few miles north of Point Conception – its spent hydrocarbons leaving an ethereal plume that flared across the western sky. The event was reflexively echoed, in real time, by social media. Below, deep in the Sespe Wilderness, the Thomas fire still raged.
The Falcon 9 rocket was sent on its way (across a lonely headland that once served the local Purisimeño Chumash Indians as the threshold of the Western Land of the Dead, from which they projected the souls of their departed) to launch ten Iridium ‘Next’ communications satellites. They are part of a second-generation constellation of sixty-six telecommunications satellites planned to be fully operational by the end of next year.
Somewhere, in this confluence of signs lay indications of the Anthropocene. The enigma of the epoch was made explicit both in this kerosene fueled apparition in the late evening sky and in the burning of over 275,000 acres of Southern California landscape in the month of December.
While many of the leaders of our federal government continue to deny climate reality, the American military machine, sheltered behind this opera bouffe façade, are fully cognizant that global warming de-stabilizes vulnerable populations, political regimes and drives the refugee crisis. The Washington think-tank CNA (Center for Naval Analysis) in a recent report, succinctly states that “climate change can act as a threat multiplier for instability in some of the most volatile regions of the world, and it presents significant national security challenges for the United States”. Left unsaid is that the rolling acts of weather terrorism across the United States in 2017, which included Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria as well as the massive forest fires in Northern and Southern California indicate the vulnerabilities of this country to internal instability: the climate-driven economic, social, and existential anxieties which, magnified in the crucible of social media, may lead towards imminent political fracture. The real threat to our polity is from within.
Trumpist notions of maintaining internal security by pursuing border walls, anti-immigrant policing and aggressive anti-terrorist militarism are powerless against the threats imposed by climate change. California’s megafires occurred in lands long accustomed to seasonal wildfires, but global warming, manifested in marginal increases in average temperatures, an extension of the summer fuel dehydration season, the increased occurrence of winter drought conditions and the extraordinary prolongation of fall’s off-shore winds, supercharges these events into acts of extreme, highly prejudicial terror.
As a survivor of the Upper Ojai firestorm, one of the two generative events that sparked the largest wildfire in California’s history, I have experienced firsthand the kind of weather terrorism that now threatens the credibility of national, provincial and local governments to protect their citizens.
The small country town of Ojai, at the green unburned center of California’s Thomas Fire, is festooned with signs in the windows of businesses and residences thanking Firefighters and First Responders for saving their community, suggesting great faith in the power of municipal, state and national authorities to protect them. Agencies from all levels of government were indeed arrayed against the fire on their behalf.
However, the feel-good narrative of the lower valley, Ojai’s commercial and tourist heart, which was saved by strategic back-burning and fuel reduction on its perimeter combined with favorable winds, the flanking of comparatively fire-resistant irrigated citrus and avocado fields and topographical serendipity, contrasts with the grim realities of Upper Ojai’s firestorm where twenty percent of the residences were destroyed, and which went largely unchallenged on Monday night, December 4th, and into Tuesday morning.
At the heart of the fire initiated by an exploding pole-top transformer in the upper valley, four local Ventura County Fire crews and a fifth volunteer brigade from the nearby city of Fillmore, sheltered in place at the top of our road trapped by the great dragon’s breath of fire that raced down the fuel rich drainages on their way to Sisar Creek which runs along State Route 150. After this first wave of the firestorm moved on to the northern flank of Sulphur Mountain ridge to meet up with the other leg of the fire that had started further east and an hour before, the crews retreated to the lower valley choosing not to defend the residential streets running off SR 150 where most of the upper valley’s dwellings are situated. Lack of specific wildland fire training (ensure your line of retreat!) together with a conservative command structure may have contributed to the impotence of their response.
Once the command structure was able to regroup and call in resources from all over the Western States there was a massive response beyond the Ojai Valley where Santa Paula, Ventura, Montecito and Santa Barbara were all saved from overwhelming residential losses. Miraculously, there was no loss of civilian life; sadly, one professional fire technician died in fighting the flames that consumed the Condor Sanctuary, deep in the Los Padres National Forest.
In the eulogizing of our public safety personnel, it is little understood that they are abetted by huge influxes of inmate-labor on the fire-line – where the latter are involved in the most hazardous, health and life-threatening roles in wild-fire suppression, while the better equipped, better trained and infinitely better paid professionals provide command, back-up and communications well behind the front lines. A highly-placed source in the fire-fighting community estimates the involvement of prisoner firefighters at 80% of the boots on the ground in fighting the Thomas Fire.
Ironically, the prison-industrial complex absorbs vast gobs of state resources while other local agencies are starved of funds resulting in this strange hybridization of public services – where prison-labor eliminates paid-work (exacerbating the very social conditions that swell the prison population) and reduces both the professionalism and the morale of the fire-fighting force.
Media reflexivity, political instability driven by wealth disparity, weather terrorism and the expansion of public service (and corporate) utilization of inmate-labor represent an incendiary stew of contemporary derangements – home-grown ingredients that may eventually explode, like an improvised fertilizer bomb, into the heart of this country’s social order.
The fuse for such a device could likely be ignited by a massive loss of life in a weather terrorism event. By coincidence, on Christmas day, we four fire survivors (my wife, our younger son Griffin and neighbor Betty) on day twenty-one of our hegira, found ourselves in a likely location for just such a scenario. We had been invited to a dinner in Topanga, a bohemian suburb north of Los Angeles, deep in the Wildland-Urban-Interface.
When I turned the corner of our house at 7:15 pm, on that first night of the Thomas fire, to close the north facing fire doors, I saw a wall of flame engulfing the back of our property – the dark and customarily brooding landforms had become vividly alive in a moment of supreme, non-human animation. Those moments stay in one’s thoughts: ever after, the lizard brain is stamped with an immanent existentialism.
Driving in Topanga, from one canyon side to the other, from one set of friends to the other, we were all hyper-aware of the extreme perilousness of the exit routes, the ad hoc, highly flammable building styles in evidence, and the total lack of defensible space amidst the chaos of antic residential development. The community exists for now, harboring a very heterogeneous population, but it is heavily mortgaged to the next act of weather terrorism perpetrated by the non-human actors that have once more arisen amongst us, after the brief interregnum of modernity, when we foolishly thought them tamed.
FEMA may be irretrievably dysfunctional, insurance companies may go broke, fire departments are demoralized and their personnel under-trained, and the Golden State may largely rely for control of these pyromaniacal step-children of global warming – for the fire next time – on their vast prison population of over 100,000 inmates. It is the extreme contingency of such preparedness, or the lack thereof, that speaks to the fragile nature of our social compact.
We had believed that our taxes ensured some level of personal safety – some, like the lucky residents of the Ojai Valley, still believe it.
(John Davis is an architect living in southern California. He blogs at Urban Wildland. Courtesy, CounterPunch.org)
LAKE COUNTY ENVISIONS
On December 19, 2017, the County of Lake Administration issued a press release announcing five “community visioning forums” (one for each of the Supervisorial districts), “to seek public input on Core County Government services and finances.”
“Lake County is facing some very difficult budgetary decisions ahead, and we are asking for residents’ help in prioritizing our County services and financial needs,” said County Administrative Officer Carol Huchingson.
“This is an important opportunity for residents to share their ideas, voice their questions and shape the future of our County government,” continued Huchingson. “Each of our Community Visioning Forums will be held in the evening to ensure those who work during the day have the opportunity to participate.”
On January 5, 2018, the same source distributed a “Summary of Agenda” with timed entries including 20-25 minutes for the Chief Administrative Officer (and staff) to present whatever it is the public is going to be told is the matter at hand — there have been no reports or explanations (even to the Board of Supervisors) that would allow us to study the subject beforehand — followed by “60-65 minutes” for “Public Input & Questions on County Finances/Services.”
Efforts made over the recent decade, by knowledgeable concerned citizens, to curb the County’s addiction to wishful thinking programs (funding unproductive marketing schemes) and real estate kingdoms (for which we are all now the payees for unrecoverable investments) have not affected the County’s administrative orchestration of manufactured consent, no matter how hard the public tries to provide rational decision-making considerations (like meeting the health and safety standards for drinking water, land use, mental and medical health priorities, and so forth) in the extremely limited opportunities to “comment” during legal Board of Supervisors hearings.
In the late 1990s, the County embarked on an ambitious “Economic Development Plan” (2000-2020) and diverted property tax revenues to “Redevelopment” schemes aimed at eliminating “blight” — at the most superficial level — and attracting investors for growth of private and public enterprise. Real estate purchases made by the Board of Supervisors, inclusive of the multi-million-dollar loser “hotel” in Lucerne, an unusable shoreline “marina” in Nice, 15 acres of theoretically prime real estate adjacent to the Walmart in Clearlake (long vacant), old school facilities needing millions of dollars in upgrades, et cetera, and the collapsing Lakeside Heights subdivision (for which we are now in $4.5M in debt to pay the court-ordered law suit settlement), but all of a sudden the “public” is invited to witness the Administration’s hand-wringing and faux apologia in lieu of bringing the statements of fact before the Board of Supervisors and allowing legal public comment to respond.
Also beginning in the ’90s, cuts to public health and safety functions* willfully neglected the County’s responsibility to “recover the beneficial uses” of Clear Lake (deemed a key to overall economic survival, but almost completely blown off by the County leadership) and to implement adopted hazard mitigation programs for prevention of catastrophic losses such as the ones experienced in the last three years.
One thing is certain, when the County Administration puts its “services and finances” show on the road, the public is not likely to be entertained under the big top.
*See the Lake County Grand Jury’s 2016-2017 Final Report, for example, describing the unrelieved shortfalls in staffing local Behavioral Health Department services and mismanaged real estate investments, despite a “Gross Domestic Product” of “approximately $2.6 billion” and an adopted 2017 County Budget of around $225 million.”
THE TRUMP-RYAN PROPOSALS are just the latest iteration of Neoliberal fiscal policy that has been making the rich richer, while destroying the economic and social base of the USA. Neoliberal policies associated with tax and spending programs, free money for bankers and investors provided by the central bank (the Federal Reserve), industrial policy deregulating everything and destroying unions, and trade policy enabling offshoring of production and jobs and free re-entry of US goods produced overseas back to the US (aka free trade) have been together ripping a gaping and ever-growing hole in the social fabric of the country. That has in turn been giving rise to ever more desperate radical right wing politics and solutions — i.e. the political consequences of the Neoliberal economic policies.”
THE ANGRIEST DOG IN THE WORLD.
"The dog is so angry he cannot move. He cannot sleep. He can just barely growl. Bound so tightly with tension and anger, he approaches the state of rigor mortis." —David Lynch
Thanks to Hank Sims of Lost Coast Outpost, the recording of last night's (2018-01-05) KNYO and KMEC Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio show is available with but a single click. Here:
IN OTHER NEWS, as usual at http://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com you'll find the fresh weekly batch of links to educational sights and activities and amusements, such as:
Beautiful soon-to-be-extinct creatures.
If birds left tracks in the sky.
Sleeping elephant seal. It does that whole-face cheek-wobbling comical vaudeville snore-blatt that Mervin Gilbert brought down the house with as the Cowardly Lion in Gloriana Opera Company's production of The Wizard of Oz 30 years ago. The effect is amplified by its nose being a big balloon filled with jello. Mervin did it with acting.
And architectural wedding couture from the House of the Queen of Mars.