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Valley People (Feb 28, 2018)

WINTRY, RAIN-FREE weather continues in the Anderson Valley, and everywhere else on the Northcoast. Local vineyards are wheeling leased frost fans into place, harbingers of a sleepless spring for much of the Anderson Valley and a fruit-less summer given that the premature budding caused by frigid nights and warm days has killed the blooms.

BARBARA GOODELL ALERTS US: Soon, the Anderson Valley Grange is going to host a candidates’ night for the 5th District Supervisor’s seat with Arthur Juhl, Alan Rodier, Chris Skyhawk, and Ted Williams.  Dates are being confirmed, more information forthcoming!

BELEAGUERED AV School Supe, Michelle Hutchins, has announced her candidacy for County Superintendent of Schools. She’s beleaguered here, in our opinion, largely because of the mess she inherited when she arrived. We can hear the howls go up from the school people who seem to think their perceived troubles began with Ms. H. Nope, they are the natural result of nearly a quarter century of edu drift. Ms. H made some tactical errors, but as a new person in a new school district that’s to be expected. But anybody stepping into Palsy Walsy Unified would soon run afoul of the Palsys and most of the Walsys the instant he or she exerted so much as a hint of authority. And now brace yourselves for an unapologetic sexist statement: Women, and AV Unified is heavily female, have a difficult time working for women, which most women will privately admit. Which probably accounts for the high incidence of male wusses in school admin these days. If you aren’t a woman, a weak man will do.

FRANCOIS CHRISTEN, a retired Wells-Fargo banker from Philo who has served on the Nash Mill Road Association, was sworn in as Community Services District trustee to finish the term of Joanie Clark. The always charming and helpful Ms. Clark resigned for health reasons two months ago. Mr. Cristen initially impresses as a smart, amiable fellow certain to be an asset on the CSD Board of Directors.

AARON MARTIN, part-time KZYX Mind-Body-Health host, and long-serving ambulance EMT, suggested last month that the AV Community Services District Board look into sirens as emergency warning systems in the aftermath of the big fires in Potter and Redwood Valley last fall. The Anderson Valley has been fire-lucky for many years. The Board agreed that sirens should be explored. Last Wednesday night Martin, who says he grew up with sirens as warning systems in North Dakota, reported that he’d looked into it and found that sirens are impractical for Anderson Valley. It would take several of them to cover the entire Valley, and they cost upwards of $25k each (including installation). Several Board members expressed skepticism of the reverse 911 system which not only requires registration, but even when working right, does not provide reliable broad-scale warnings. Your local reporter suggested the possibility of super-bullhorns like one purchased by the Sheriff last year for tsunami warnings on the Coast (opposed vociferously by Supervisor Dan Hamburg who worried that the Blue Meanies might use the airhorn to blast peaceful protesters. (And when was the last time you even saw a protester you’d like to blast? Don’t answer that.) Martin agreed to look into the bullhorn option also, although several people noted that 1) fire trucks already have bullhorns (although not quite as loud), and 2) driving up and down Highway 128 shouting “FIRE!” into a bullhorn isn’t exactly a great way to warn people either, especially people farther up in the hills where even the louder bullhorns wouldn’t reach.

A READER SUGGESTS that the winery frost fans would make a great fire alarm warning system. They make a terrific din and are audible to even the most distant hill muffin. On the Valley floor, they wake the dead.

SUPERVISOR JOHN McCOWEN and CEO Carmel Angelo visited the Anderson Valley last Wednesday to attend the regular meeting of the Mendocino County Association of Fire Districts. Among topics discussed was the County’s pending “amicable divorce” from Coastal Valley EMS, the pseudo-governmental agency out of Santa Rosa that supposedly maintains local Emergency Services protocols, trainings, certifications, etc. Coastal Valley was also supposed to work on the Request for Proposal for the Exclusive Operating Area (aka EOA, for ambulance service in Mendo’s Highway 101 corridor ) for inland Mendocino County. The RFP has languished for several years without forward progress, which may have been the true reason Mendo has decided to part ways with them at the end of their current contract, presumably at the end of the next fiscal year, perhaps as far out as June of 2019.

WHICH IS LIKELY TO MEAN, among other things, more delays in the EOA RFP (i.e., going out to bid for one ambulance service provider for the 101 corridor), which further translates to more uncertainty in local emergency services funding. The Fire Assocation also discussed the distribution of marijuana taxes as called for in the successful advisory measure from last fall, part of which advised the Board of Supervisors to funnel a significant amount of pot tax revenues to fire services. However, one attendee from Bell Springs handed out an analysis which disabused the group of the pot tax windfall revenue. And nobody disagreed with it. It showed that most if not all pot taxes will go to the state, not to Mendocino County, so there’s not likely to be much to distribute.

ANOTHER ATTENDEE reported that Supervisor McCowen noted that there probably won’t be any proceeds from marijuana fees and permits either, this year. McCowen, an expert on the County’s contorted pot permit process, reportedly said that if anything the County is like to lose money on pot permitting — this year. (Which begs the question of whether the ridiculously convoluted program will ever pay for itself since it is quickly gaining a reputation as a failed attempt at regulation among local growers because of costly up-front fees and costs and no guarantee that you’ll ever make it to the end and get a permit. PS. No refunds.)

FIFTH DISTRICT SUPES CANDIDATE TED WILLIAMS met with a couple dozen locals at Lauren’s Restaurant Friday afternoon. Most attendees came away impressed with Williams' grasp of issues of local concern. Most, that is, except for former Fifth District Supervisor David Colfax who launched into what one attendee described as “a typical Colfax rant” about “incompetence” and “special interests” certain to thwart whatever Williams wants to do.

WE PAUSE HERE to point out that Colfax never mentioned incompetence while a Supervisor nor did he point out which “special interests” were obstructing whatever agenda he may have had (which we failed to notice despite keeping close tabs). We could launch into our own rant about Colfax here, particularly his single-minded and successful effort to raise his own pay and retirement, his sole accomplishment. Ditto for his successor, the ineffable Hamburg. But Colfax and Hamburg are best left in the overflowing dustbin of Fifth District history. Make way for youth!

WILLIAMS, Albion-Little River Fire Chief, is conversant with emergency services, as you’d expect, and he says he’ll do whatever it takes to keep Coast Hospital open. He also has some interesting ideas on housing and broadband (being a computer specialist of some note, Williams might actually speed things along). Due to competing obligations, we arrived late at the Williams meet-and-greet and didn’t hear some the opening part of his presentation. In fact, for the nearly half hour we were on hand it seemed like most of the time was locals asking “questions” which turned out to be windy opinions of their own. Perhaps they can be excused since Colfax only held two community meetings in Anderson Valley in his twelve years as supervisor and Hamburg held none. But still, it would have been better if the “questions” were short and simple and gave the candidate time to answer. He’s running, not us.

THE PROSPECTIVE SUPE said he thinks broadband and walking and hiking trails are the best chance for doable economic development in the Fifth District, both of which would certainly be significant accomplishments, but both of which will take more than one supervisor to achieve.

HE also had some opinions on housing which attendees liked, particularly incentives for long-term rentals to locals instead of short-term rentals to tourists. We expect to see more of Williams’s takes on these and related subjects as the campaign unfolds, but so far, so good.

TOTALLY IRRELEVANT, but we’ve always wondered if Williams’ parents were Red Sox fans, hence their son’s memorable name. Check that: Memorable to baseball fans over the age of, what, 60 anyway. The Splendid Splinter, the baseball player, was blessed with the keenest eyesight ever measured, so good he said he could see the seams on a fastball. Ted Williams of Albion seems merely blessed with 20-20 political vision, which is more than good enough for the Supe’s job, especially considering his sight impaired predecessors.

LOTS OF ANDERSON VALLEY PEOPLE geared up to attend Tuesday's Class K discussion at the Board of Supervisors meeting; locals are unanimous in wanting to leave Class K alone. We don't think they will be mollified by the Planning and Building staff’s recent concession of not requiring perimeter foundations for Class K because the Class K code “update” will still restrict the size of Class K buildings to under 2,000 square-feet, require at least one acre parcels, require the full-range of fire-protection including sprinklers, and several extra inspections, in addition to updating the code to reflect all current Universal Building Code requirements. Of course, some of these updates are probably justified for safety reasons, so it will be interesting to see if they can get the Board to back off any of the Class K modernization proposals.  (We’ll post a full account, or at least a fuller account of that discussion on our super-groovy website at and in the paper-paper next week.)

THE 27TH ANNUAL ANDERSON VALLEY VARIETY SHOW is just around the corner! The Show itself will be on Friday and Saturday nights, March 9th and 10th. We know you won't want to miss two full nights of unique local entertainment. Each night we will be showcasing one-of-a-kind performances, and we have spent years (27 in fact) perfecting our ticket selling skills so that everyone who wants to can see it all. We have some special performances by popular locals that can only be seen on Friday night, so you'll want to be sure to make it for both shows! We have some exciting acts coming up from the bay area, as well, so you will want to catch it all.

Here's the skinny on getting your tickets:

Tickets are $10/adults, $5/kids and seniors. They will be available starting Monday, March 5th, at Lemon's Market in Philo and the AV Market in Boonville until they sell out. If you don't manage to get the pre-sale tickets available next week, don't fret, because we will have no less than 100 tickets available each night at the door. if you need tickets, get to the Grange early enough to get in line. You can get tickets the day of the show for yourself--but we won't allow anyone to buy a bunch of tickets for people that aren't in line. If you have a ticket, you will be guaranteed entry--but not necessarily a seat. The doors open at 6:30 and the show will start promptly at 7 pm both Friday and Saturday nights, March 9th and 10th. Anyone who has been to the show can tell you, people will be lining up at least an hour ahead of time to get tickets and good seats. It's always a fun party in the Grange parking lot before the show, and there will be tasty treats to buy from local chefs, as well.

There will be tickets available at the tech rehearsal this weekend, March 3rd and 4th, for the friends and family of the performers. We have seen some sad situations in the past where some parents weren't able to get tickets to see their kids onstage, so we have made sure to have tickets to sell during rehearsal. If you or your loved ones are performing, and you want to be sure to get your people in on the night of the show, please make sure to bring cash to the Grange when you come to rehearse your act. Another thing to keep in mind is that the show goes late, and some of the younger performers and their families will leave early--so if you arrive late, you may still be able to get in. We are so excited to see you all there!

GEORGE HOLLISTER NOTES: “A rule in Comptche weather was broken this morning; overcast with freezing temperatures. I had 26 degrees at 7:30AM with a complete cloud cover. Overcast in Comptche has always meant nighttime temperatures over freezing. Not any more. BTW, another general rule for weather broken this year is seeing a colder February than December. December and early January is almost always(maybe always) Comptche’s coldest period of the year. I am going through more firewood, on a daily basis now, than I did in December.”

A TIMID knock on the office door Sunday afternoon revealed a small Mexican boy. “Meester, you want tamales?” Slipping into my fluent Spanish, I asked, “How mucho?”

He said, “Ten for ten, twenty for twenty.” I bought ten, which turned out to be muy delicio. The kid hesitated at the door, looking around at the array of mysterious items constituting the decor. “What you do here?” he asked. I showed him a paper. “We do this.” He said, “Wow. Like magic, huh?”

JUST SEALED my ballot for the KZYX Board election. I voted for Pat Kovner, Bob Vaughan, Dina Pokinghorne (running unopposed), and myself. The lucky three were familiar names, the others unknown to me. I've known Pat for years and know she would be an independent voice on a board almost certain to lack them; I voted for Vaughan last time around, too, because he seemed to grasp that the enterprise has major probs; and I voted for Pokinghorne for the irrelevant reason that I've admired her work with the Ukiah Women's Shelter back to the time we were allies in the trying matter of Yeni Wiraderdja. The other candidates are unknown to me, but I daresay several, at least two of whom have programs on KZYX, have been put forward by the station's dominant claque. They will of course be elected, which will ensure that Mendo Semi-Public Radio will continue lurching toward bankruptcy.

I GOT A NICE LAUGH out of the opening line of the ballot letter: "Dear KZYX Member, Your community public radio station is on the threshold of an exciting new era in community interaction and participation."

LET ME KNOW when the excitement starts.

ON THE BACK of the Threshold Letter is a message called "State of the Station Report" from Jeffrey Parker, KZYX's phantom manager. (Parker's predecessor fled, citing "toxic personalities." Parker seems to think he's inherited a reputable organization.)

PARKER'S opening sentence is even funnier than the Dear KZYX Member message from Ed Keller. He's catapulted clear over the excitement threshold: "As we stride into 2018, a burst of innovation is creating a fresh, infectious sense of community engagement and public service at Mendocino County Public Broadcasting, building on nearly three decades of broadcast excellence from our family of dedicated KZYX programmers and a full slate of...." Etc.

DARN! I thought I was getting a flu shot but somehow got inoculated against "infectious sense of community engagement."

THE FACT is that except for the cadre of its own programmers and paid members — stagnant for years now — KZYX is not considered a resource by most people in Mendocino County. Even here in the boondocks, competition for eyes and ears is intense, and KZYX, public subsidies and all, isn't competing. A smart, lively hour of local news and uncensored call-ins every morning would help get the station out there, but KZYX is wed to more of the same. No, I don't think anything the GM cited as new is of much interest to anyone beyond the people involved.

I WAS SURPRISED by Election Coordinator Keller's penultimate sentence: "Your vote will make a difference since we typically receive ballots from only a small percentage of our members."

JESU CRISTO! If participation in the election is minimal it seems to mean the enterprise is stuck somewhere between indifference and total ennui.

IF IT WEREN'T for that big hunk of annual federal money, this sucker would have gone down years ago. It could not, like KMUD just to the north of us, sustain itself. The only real questions "going forward," as the GM might say, is how to make KZYX a must-listen for a lot more Mendo people. Given the givens, I don't see that happening.

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