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Mendocino County Today: Wednesday, May 23, 2018

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EMBEZZLER SENTENCED

Melissa Alcala-Alvarez, formerly of the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, was sentenced this morning to six years and four months in local prison for embezzling some $33,000 in cash money from the county’s funds.

Alvarez

“She saw all that marijuana money coming in and took it,” her lawyer, Patrick Pekin, admitted. “She was under a lot of stress as her former husband, Mr. Alvarez, had run up incredible debts.”

Ms. Alcala-Alvarez came to court with her new husband who was dressed in the uniform of the Army Airborne, stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Because of this conviction she will no longer be eligible to live at base housing and that will mean an additional financial burden (the DA has seized their bank account), which the couple may already be feeling by the looks of the rumpled uniform and run-over combat boots her husband was wearing – but the standards have changed since my day in the service when mothers used to exclaim they daren’t touch their sons because the creases in their uniforms were sharp enough to cut their fingers. Mr. Pekin also mentioned a pregnancy that ended in miscarriage; he thought it was due to the stress of the conviction, and asked the court for probation, saying she had suffered enough, and prison would do no earthly good to anyone.

DA David Eyster disagreed. He said this defendant had taken advantage of a position of trust and was stealing the money at a time the sheriff had made her a permanent employee and was in the process of increasing her salary; that she was in fact stealing from every citizen of Mendocino County.

“A loud and clear message needs to be sent to the community, judge, that if you steal from the public there’s a prison sentence waiting for you. And we have here in court today a microphone to amplify that message…”

Sheriff Tom Allman stepped up. “Melissa was such a trusted employee,” Allman said, “that I almost begged her not to go when she gave notice – of course, I didn’t know then what we later learned. But we trusted her and she stole from us on multiple occasions.”

Judge Ann Moorman told Ms. Alcala-Alvarez that a lot of people had put their credibility on the line to stand up for her, in the form of many letters written on her behalf, and that it was obvious she had a lot going for her.

“I applaud you on your ability to influence people, you’ve earned a lot of respect from them and your husband wrote a very fine letter, but on the other hand you were going to work every day saying good morning to people you were taking all this money from. You’ll put this behind you, in a good way, I’m sure, but you did take advantage of a position of trust and the Sheriff’s Office put a great deal of trust in your honesty to put you in charge of a situation where people were coming in and paying in cash.”

“And she wasn’t honest when confronted, judge,” Eyster interjected. “When [Detective] Sergeant [Andrew] Porter and [Chief] Inspector [Kevin] Bailey went to Fort Bragg [North Carolina – not our beloved costal community of the same name] to interview her, she continued to lie; and only when she saw advantage in it did she make a ‘timely’ admission.”

Judge Moorman therefore concluded it was not a case for probation and imposed the term of three years for count one and eight months consecutive for the additional counts, for a total of six years and four months. However, the judge did split the sentence with only 18 months in custody and the remainder on supervised release.

The defendant’s father did or said something, I don’t know exactly what, but he was shoved against the rail and arrested at the same time his daughter was remanded into custody.

(Bruce McEwen)

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UKIAH, Tues., May 22. -- EMBEZZLEMENT OF PUBLIC MONIES SENTENCING UPDATE.

The former employee who embezzled $34,160 from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office from August 2016 through October 2017 was sentenced to local prison this morning.

Melissa Alcala Alvarez (Perez), age 28, of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, was sentenced in the Mendocino County Superior Court to 76 months in local prison. The overall sentence was "split" between 18 months incarceration and 58 months on mandatory supervision, which is a Realignment form of parole. At the end of the hearing, the defendant was handcuffed and remanded into custody.

Local prison, also known locally as Realignment County Prison, was created in October 2011 when the Legislature passed the Realignment laws, laws which removed 500 felonies from state prison eligibility in an effort to reduce state prison crowding. However, by requiring defendants convicted of one or more of the 500 felonies to serve any prison sentence imposed in the county jails resulted in overcrowding in most, if not all of the county jails across the state.

By prearrangement, it is believed that the defendant will be serving her jail time in a jail facility outside of Mendocino County. With good time and work time credits pegged at 50%, the defendant will have to serve at least 9 months in jail before being released to mandatory supervision.

The prosecutor who argued for a prison sentence on behalf of the People was District Attorney David Eyster. Sheriff Tom Allman also addressed the court. The investigating law enforcement agencies were the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office and the District Attorney's own investigators. Today's sentence was imposed by Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Ann Moorman. (DA Press Release)

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WILL LEE, Fort Bragg City Councilman and Director of Medical Staff Services at Mendocino Coast District Hospital, writes:

As I mentioned at the City Council meeting May 14th, I decided to vote on the resolution supporting Measure C because of the possibility of lost services and lost jobs at the hospital. Those possibilities are “near and dear to my heart” as an elected City Council member. Also, as I said at the meeting, I would have recused myself if the Mayor was present to cast his vote. Since he was absent, and I did not legally have to recuse myself, I decided to vote and demonstrate the Council’s unanimous support for Measure C.

Just because Mr. Macdonald is against Measure C (of course, that is his right) does not mean that those who do support Measure C are all wrong and misinformed. Many of our friends and neighbors (Sheriff Allman, physicians and nurses, League of Women Voters…) AND the City of Fort Bragg, support this community-wide effort to support our hospital and the services offered there every day. This hospital has over 90,000 patient encounters per year (we know Mr. Macdonald chooses not to be one of those visits… attending and writing about Board and Committee meetings are not counted in those encounters), and we are all proud to be a part of our patients’ health care and their well-being. We will continue to care for our patients as we have since the “new” hospital opened in 1971. Stay well.

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UNSOLVED - In mid-December 1978, Kerry Ann Graham, 15, and Francine Trimble, 14, disappeared in Forestville never to be seen again by friends and family. Skeletal remains that would ultimately be identified as theirs were located the following July, dumped off the side of a rural highway in Mendocino County. But it wasn't until 2015 that their identities were determined through DNA analysis. Eileen Goetz, a friend of El Molino high school students said the girls were going to hitchhike to a party in Santa Rosa. She said she didn't know who they were meeting up with but hitchhiking, especially in the small enclave of Forestville, was incredibly common. It was likely they were picked up by someone they knew. The case remains unsolved. (Santa Rosa Press Democrat)

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SOLVED - A quarter-century after her nude body was found in the brush alongside a rural Fort Bragg road, the death of 20-year-old Georgina Pacheco was finally solved. DNA analysis performed around 2013 implicated Pacheco's brother-in-law, Robert James Parks, then 27, a commercial fisherman who committed suicide, 1988, 10 years after Pacheco's death by tying himself to a boat in Southern California, then sinking it. Pacheco's body was found by a man walking his dog Sept. 10, 1988, 10 days after she disappeared. An orange and black nylon cord was tied around her neck with an intricate, fishing-type knot, she had blunt force injuries to her head and she had been raped. (Santa Rosa Press Democrat)

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JIM SNYDER, Anderson Valley High School principal, reminds us that the high school's annual Spring Exposition of Student Work will be next Tuesday (May 29th) from 3:30-6pm in the high school cafeteria, complete with Paco's Tacos. "Students will be displaying a wide range of projects such as 3D printed models, string quartet compositions, student produced videos, a cultural time capsule, outdoor human graphing, and a Cenozoic organism evolution research project. Admission is free!"

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LITTLE DOG SAYS, “Skrag brings this other deadbeat cat to dinner these days. ‘Call Her Princess Siam,’ he says, ‘because she's pure Siamese.’ Hah! Nobody from the Feline Royal Family is gonna hang out with Skrag. We've got another deadbeat mongrel going here.”

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GEORGE HOLLISTER CHIPS IN

You might be an old timer if you…

  • Remember when the Ukiah Road was a county road, and not State Hwy 253.
  • Remember Jerry Philbrick riding bulls at the county fair rodeo in Boonville.
  • Remember the Philbrick Mill in a tributary of the N Fork of the Navarro River.
  • Had the best Italian food ever at the Navarro Inn in Navarro. Rena Nicoli owned the restaurant and also owned two restaurants in San Francisco; The La Pantera, and Giovanis.
  • Remember Jack Macdonald, from Navarro, with cane in hand, hunting for fresh chicken eggs in the bushes around the Navarro Store.
  • Remember when Navarro had a dump, and it was really a dump where everything was tossed over the bank.
  • Remember when Tony and Gretchen Husch planted their vineyard.

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PD: REPORT DETAILS TELECOMMUNICATIONS BREAKDOWN DURING NORCAL FIRES

A new report found that communication lines took a big hit during the October wildfires, creating an information gap that left many residents fearing for their lives.

pressdemocrat.com/news/8350489-181/report-north-coast-telecommunications-crippled

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ED NOTES

A GIANTS FAN WRITES: "I don't know if I'm getting better at ignoring it, but it seems to me like all the electronic distractions and shenanigans at the ballpark were toned down. Not as obtrusive. I still dream of attending a day game with no electricity at all, but until then, at least paring back on the distractive nonsense is a step in the right direction. The next thing I would jettison is the personal song intros that we have to hear as each batter approaches the plate. Unless they are singing the song themselves, I don't want to hear it. The only one of those jingles I enjoyed hearing was Sergio Romo's mexi-ditty, but he's gone now, so I say toss 'em!"

I THINK the American Brain has been surreptitiously re-wired to feed on a constant audio-visual din. Pre-din you could hear the ballplayers. But remove the incessant distractions, people go all twitchy. Pro basketball is even worse. Trapped inside the Oakland Coliseum the decibel level is painful. It may have to do with the new fan. A lot of people at today's sporting events have no knowledge of the games being played. They can afford to go so they go, especially baseball. Warriors fans seem to know a basketball from a pineapple, but at the ballpark one is surrounded by people chatting on their cell phones or milling back and forth for constant food re-supply. (The ballpark churro is the perfect contempo negative food value item — a deep fried dough stick slathered with sugar.) I refuse to buy ballpark food — and it's pretty good these days, but twelve bucks for a hotdog? No sir, Mr. Austerity contents himself with a homemade tuna sandwich, a hardboiled egg, carrot sticks, and an orange that I carry in. I'm surprised they still allow you to bring your own, but looking around me I've never seen people eating anything but the expensive stuff sold in the concessions. Mostly, though, I watch all sports at home with the sound off.

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TUNED IN KZYX news this morning unaware it was fundraising time, meaning double the audio irritation ordinarily served up by K-CULT. Also noted the beyond dumb return to endless weather and road "reporting" which, the last time I tuned in, had been delivered with a succinct "Cool and windy on the Northcoast today" without three minutes of road work descriptions covering the whole County. I also noted that the station's fundraising team failed to advertise $25 memberships supposedly available to those rare libs who work for a living.

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FOR $600 a night, two-night minimum, you can rent via Air B'nB the AVA's old headquarters on Anderson Valley Way, accumulated vibes absolutely free. For $20 a night, half-night minimum, you can rent my bedroom at my new place next door to the Redwood Drive-In when I'm not there. Call for details.

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WHEN I TUNED in the Supervisors today, 18 people were watching local government in action. Hannah Nelson was informing the Supes that people are getting out of the marijuana business by the busload because they can't afford the cost and psychic toil imposed by the preposterous local rules. She didn't say anything about prices having fallen so fast and have become so low — in Boonville you can buy last year's dope for as low as $300 a pound — there's no incentive, legal or outlaw, to grow. The next speaker, a woman from Potter Valley, described how she'd suffered from an arbitrary gro decision by local authorities, and confirmed that "everyone around me is going broke."

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PROPOSED PUBLIC WATER TAX MUST BE REJECTED

by Jim Shields

There’s a bill that’s been resurrected after not going anywhere last year in the state Senate that if approved would impose for the first time in California a tax on public drinking water for both homes and businesses.

It was a bad idea the first time around, and its standing has not improved with its reintroduction this session.

SB 623, sponsored by Sen. Bill Monning, D-Monterey, would generate $2 billion over 15 years allegedly for a Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund, which would provide emergency water and longer-term system fixes for hundreds of communities whose tap water doesn’t meet safe drinking-water standards.

The proposal would generate roughly $110 million per year through a 95-cent monthly fee on home water bills as well as taxes on businesses of up to $10 per month. Another $30 million would come from higher fees on agricultural and dairy businesses, industries whose chemicals contribute to the problem of contaminated groundwater.

The bill is backed by the agriculture and dairy interests, and environmentalist groups, an odd coalition that very seldom see to eye-to-eye on anything.

Water districts are uniformly opposed to the bill, because taxing water users creates a bad precedent by taxing water produced by local government water districts for ratepayers and taxpayers who already, in effect, are being taxed for that very same water.

Here’s the way the public water system works when it comes to taxes.

Under 1996’s landmark initiative, Proposition 218, The Taxpayers Right To Vote Act, water and sewer rates, fees, service charges, etc., are all subject to voter approval. Prior to Prop 218, water and sewer boards, community service district boards, and city councils could, on their own action, increase rates, fees, and charges without going to the voters. Since its implementation 21 years ago, Prop 218 requires local governments that provide water and sewer services to place all such charges before the voters. In the pre-Prop 218 era, local governments and their ratepayers would squabble, fight and litigate over whether a rate increase or a newly established “service charge” was a tax or not. Proposition 218 settled that issue. They are taxes and the voters have the right to decide if they go into effect.

Proposition 218 is now an accepted and orderly way for taxpayers to make the final decision.

SB 623 is literally the camel’s nose under the tent. A 95 cent monthly tax on public sector ratepayers may not seem like a sum of money to brawl over, but it is because this is just the opening salvo. We all know that once the tax is established it’s not going to remain at 95 cents.

This proposed law would require water districts to collect taxes for the state not approved by our customers and ratepayers. It would create another unfounded mandate where the state requires local governments to perform a service unrelated to their services but does not pay them for it. Simply stated, water districts are not private sector corporations that sell water for profit. By law, local government water districts can only charge customers the amount it actually costs them to produce the water. It’s been public policy forever not to tax not-for-profit, local government water utilities.

So why are Sacramento politicians, agriculture and dairy interests, and environmentalist groups supporting this bill?

The answer lies with at least two serous problems with contamination to the state’s groundwater mainly in the Central Valley, but it’s also a problem up here in our watersheds

Last summer I wrote about the contaminant 1, 2, 3-TCP. It’s a man-made chemical, used historically in industrial cleaning solvents and some soil fumigant pesticides. It’s also a recognized carcinogen that may cause cancer after long-term exposure. It has been found in groundwater sources, primarily in the Central Valley. Pursuant to a new regulation, it now requires that more than 4,000 public water systems statewide to begin quarterly sampling for 1,2,3-TCP in their drinking water sources. The chemical is currently found at dangerous levels in the drinking water served by 94 different California public water systems, mostly in the farming communities of the Central Valley. Those numbers don’t take into account the nearly 2 million Californians, mostly in rural areas, who get their water from private wells. Experts say many of those wells are also assuredly plagued by 1,2,3-TCP.

Although the chemical was removed from pesticides marketed by Shell and Dow Chemical in the 1980s, its use was so prevalent that it seeped into groundwater where it remains today in levels state scientists say would increase cancer risks after a lifetime of exposure.

Litigation brought by affected water districts against Shell and Dow Chemical for the contamination is paying off in the courts, with the two companies being ordered to fund the clean-up.

Likewise, another source of polluted groundwater is nitrates. Nitrates are a by-product of nitrogen-rich fertilizer, a staple soil amendment in Central Valley traditional agriculture, as well as something used to excess by many marijuana farmers in our region. State regulatory agencies (State Water Resources Control Board, State Fish and Wildlife, etc.) and watershed organizations have found grow sites saturated with nitrates, not to mention long-prohibited pesticides and insecticides, that constitute another contamination issue unto itself.

According to Water Deeply, “The biggest known health risk to consuming nitrates is blue-baby syndrome, or methemoglobinemia. When babies consume nitrates, bacteria in their stomachs convert it to a more toxic form, nitrites, which reduces the body’s ability to deliver oxygen. Symptoms include difficulty breathing and a bluish color around the eyes and mouth. Without medical attention, the condition can induce coma and lead to death. Pregnant women are also at risk. Some studies have shown links to birth defects and certain cancers, but the evidence is not as clear.”

Additionally, according to a State Assembly analysis of the bill, more than 300 drinking water systems that serve roughly 200,000 people in disadvantaged communities are unable to provide safe drinking water, because of pollutant violations, such as arsenic, lead, nitrates, and uranium. The pollution also has been linked to nausea and vomiting, cancer, reduced mental function in children, nervous system decline, and miscarriages.

To the best of my knowledge, the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors have remained silent on the proposed law and its impacts on small rural water districts.

However, this week the Humboldt County BOS addressed it.

Supervisor Estelle Fennell, sarcastically remarked, “What next, are we going to tax air? I mean, come on. So I think we have to come up with a different solution to providing clean water and I’m sure there are many, many out there.”

As Fennell pointed out, the problem is they are tapping the wrong source when there are other solutions.

Customers of water districts have nothing to do with these issues. Besides and more importantly, there are existing state funds and programs that already provide tax dollars for communities that have problems with contaminated groundwater. The state should be using the money in those long established funds and programs, not creating an entirely new tax that places an unfair burden on water district customers and ratepayers.

Needless to say, these twin contamination problems are most likely the reason that unlikely bedfellows such as Big Ag, chemical companies, and enviros are pushing for a new tax source to solve the state’s pressing groundwater contamination. Of course, their motives are dissimilar and divergent.

Big Ag and the chemical manufacturers are looking to reduce their liability any way they can. Big Ag was also successful in inserting a provision in the bill protect agricultural operations from being subjected to enforcement actions over exceeding nitrate levels in groundwater, provided farmers meet existing permit requirements.

On the other hand, the enviros probably don’t care about special favors for Big Ag or the fairness and legality of the water tax, they just want to remedy the contamination. It’s short-sighted on their part but that’s politics.

The straight-line answer to this problem is that the people who caused the contamination are the ones who are at the head of the line to pay for its remediation.

If you agree that this proposed law is a bad idea, contact Assemblyman Jim Wood and State Senator Mike McGuire to let them know that.

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Update On Water Tax

I just found out from the Association of California Water Agencies that this issue just got more complicated. Gov. Jerry Brown tucked in a statewide water tax budget trailer bill in his proposed budget apparently in addition to SB

  1. Both of those proposals are still waiting in the wings as action can be taken on the budget trailer bill or SB 623 up until midnight on the last day of the legislative session on Friday, Aug. 31. Also a state Senate subcommittee has just introduced a temporary budget augmentation proposal with one-time funding of $80-plus million for safe and affordable drinking water. Chair Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) noted that this was the Senate’s proposal and that it “was not in lieu of the governor’s (statewide water tax) budget trailer bill language” but rather “in addition to the budget trailer bill language.”

I'll sort out all these new developments and write something on it in the near future.

(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, and is also the district manager of the Laytonville County Water District.)

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BLAST FROM THE PAST: THE BIG SWINDLE

by Mark Scaramella (October 2010)

COUNTY CEO Carmel Angelo and Health and Human Services Director Stacey Cryer told the Board of Supervisors last week that they had met with the State’s Mental Health Director who told them that Mendocino County may not have to pay back quite as much for “audit exceptions” (technically unreimburseable mental health services) owed several years ago. But our local Mental Health Branch is still looking at a serious, nay crippling, deficit that can no longer be absorbed out of other funds.

CEO ANGELO and Ms. Cryer also said they’re working on a “regional approach” to mental health services to help reduce costs, perhaps a reference confirming rumors that selective privatization of mental health services on the North Coast may be next. While it’s understandable that any government agency would consider privatization, the model that would probably make the most financial sense is to provide services only to profitable mental health patients while leaving the Sheriff with the great majority of uninsured and otherwise impoverished 5150s. In other words, the crazy people who have private or government insurance would be farmed out to for-profit treatment centers while the rest would remain where they are — the Mendocino County Jail.

THIS CASH AND CARRY approach to the County's mentally ill appears well under way. Our Health and Human Services has already hired two consultants to develop a proposal for just such a thing. One of these consultants, a Mr. Tom Pinizzotto, is the Administrator of the North Valley-Solano Behavioral Center in Fairfield who just happens to also have an existing contract with Lake County for “mental health administrative services.” The other consultant, Ms. Nancy M. Callahan, PhD, is an alleged expert in “mental health services to Medicaid recipients,” and a specialist in computerized data processing, meaning Dr. Callahan is real good at figuring out who can be a valuable funding unit for the private “behavioral health” services companies. It seems appropriate about here to repeat our annual definition of a consultant: a person you lend your watch to so he can tell you what time it is.

COMBINE THESE MERCENARY DEVELOPMENTS with a recent internal memo from Ms. Cryer to the Mental Health staff: “We are obviously not moving forward with any plans to fill positions — revenue generating or not.” Which means even positions that could be funded by state and federal mental health programs (which would not cost any money from the County's general fund) will not be filled — clearly a step towards privatization. Or this: “I want to be truthful and tell you that we are probably facing layoffs in the Mental Health Division.” And, “Tom Pinizzotto has been here working for several weeks now, usually two to three days per week and will now be serving as the Mental Health Director. He will continue as a contractor. … His colleague, Nancy Callahan, is assisting with portions of the plan.” Mr. Pinizzotto’s ultimate objective, according to Ms. Cryer, is to “transform Mental Health” into something Ms. Cryer chooses not to describe to her staff while, we suppose, sending fully funded local mental health patients to Pinizzotto’s Fairfield facility.

IF YOU know someone who is in need of long-term mental health services you have two choices: 1. find some way to pay for it yourself or with insurance, or 2. take your uncle directly to Sheriff Allman.

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Whatever drives people nuts, more and more people are being driven there. And when they arrive, what do they get?

In Mendocino County pretty soon it could be nothing.

Our mental health services are in danger of disappearing, which means the cops, who already do much of mental health's work when they arrest and then house at the County Jail the ever increasing number of volatile crazy people.

Mendocino County owes millions of dollars back to the state for expensive mental health services that are technically not reimbursable. At some point, a point arriving soon, Mendocino County will not be able to help the growing number of troubled people who need help by providing unreimbursable services.

To get an idea how bad it is, listen to this description of options from a September 1st memo by Health and Human Services Interim Director Stacey Cryer: “Meet with the State Director of Mental Health to determine the absolute minimum mandates of mental health, to inform the state that we do not have the funds to continue providing mental health services and to discuss the consequences of closing the doors on mental health services.”

Ms. Cryer's other options, such as they are, include asking the state for permission to use Prop 63 money, currently restricted to “new” mental health programs, even though that pittance would only make a small dent in the problem, or “laying off 200 to 300 staff within Social Services and Public Health and direct that Agency to cover the costs of mandated Mental Health Services.” (Prop 63 added a 1% surcharge on income taxes for those making over $200k/year.)

That’s right, one option is closing the doors on mental health services and another is laying off hundreds of others to make up the County's Mental Health deficit.

How did we get from crisis to emergency so fast?

Mental Health funding in California is one of the most bizarre systems imaginable. It’s got Medicare and Social Security federal components, plus a good sized state component from state “realignment” funds —funds which partially substitute for property taxes taken by the state — a little from vehicle license fees, government and state grants, a small amount of County reserves, and a small amount from the County’s General Fund to cover mental health services at the County Jail.

Mental Health doesn’t get an upfront budget allocation, but must provide the service and then submit a bill for services rendered. The relevant state and federal agencies then decide what is reimbursable, what isn't. The County can be left on the hook for a whole lot. Which has happened.

A lot of mental health services are provided by very expensive out-of-county psychiatric facilities in the Central Valley and the Bay Area. These private outfits are funded by general contracts, not by individual bills. In other words, Mendo has to pay the out-of-county psychiatric facilities to treat our mentally ill people (including some “severely emotionally disturbed” children) up front, then turn around and apply for reimbursement with the significant risk that the state or feds will disallow it.

As Supervisor Kendall Smith said last week, “The system is broken.” Not that she and her colleagues have done anything to fix it locally.

From a high at the beginning of this decade of around 140 staffers, the Mental Health “branch” as it’s now called is down to about 69 people. Public Health is down to 126 workers and Social Services is down to 348, most of whose services are not paid out of the General Fund.

But Mental Health staffing is difficult to project because you have to provide the service and then bill for it to get funding. If you build up staff and increase costs, you should have a high confidence that the bills will be paid. Unfortunately, for years Mendocino County limped along with ongoing mental health deficits caused by high staffing levels and unmonitored outside contract services. Instead of dealing with these unsustainable hazards to fiscal well-being, the County used money and reserves from other Health and Human Service Agency funds to cover it up.

Before 2008 when the economy went south and the budget crunch started to seriously squeeze all government funding except that required to kill distant Mohammedans, Mental Health’s ongoing deficits were covered by the slush in the rest of the system.

Instead of asking why so many of Mendo’s Mental Health bills belatedly came back stamped “denied” and unreimbursed, Mendo continued to pretend all was not too bad.

This year’s Mental Health deficit is now estimated to be $2.4 million. That’s this year.

In other words, Mental Health overran their current budget by $2.4 million. According to the Mental Health Branch numbers, $860k of that was due to “FY 2004/2005 EPSDT audit findings,” $1.3 million was due to “unreimbursable out of county placements,” and $240k was from “non-MediCal services.” But budgetarily, those are all basically equivalent: no money.

And what percentage of the Mental Health Budget does the $2.4 million represent? Thanks to consolidation and the County’s fancy new “system of care” approach to helping services, it’s blended into the overall Health and Human Services budget so nobody knows how much is just Mental Health. Two years ago when Mental Health still had its own budget it was about $20 million. There are now 10% fewer Mental Health staffers, so the budget now is probably down to around $18 million, still a large number.

But it can't continue operating in the red. There’s no more slush in the system to mask deficits. Not only that, but the $860k the state wants back now for unreimbursable services in 2004/05 will soon balloon by an additional estimated $2 million for 05/06 and 06/07.

And that will be on top of the ongoing structural deficit in Mental Health as revenues go down, fixed costs go up.

Last week the Board of Supervisors finally got around to focusing on the Mental Health deficit — years after the fact, which is why the options are so drastic. And that was when options including “closing the doors” came up. Several Supervisors asked Ms. Cryer what she’d have to do eliminate the deficit.

At first Ms. Cryer said that Mental Health has belatedly “improved” their billing processes to mitigate the large amount of unreimbursable expenses but that it would take a good deal of time for the Mental Health branch to come back into balance given the state's slo-mo audit practices.

Unmollified, the Supes pressured Cryer into saying that closing the doors is now an option.

Mendocino County Mental Health, functionally intertwined with a multitude of related services, is facing at least a $4.4 shortfall likely to become shorter soon.

No decisions were made last week because Cryer got permission to approach the state to ease up on the downhill accelerator a bit.

But California’s broke and the feds are squeezing all forms of social program reimbursements to the state.

Meanwhile the mental health branch is about to be declared economically 5150.

If County Mental Health closes its doors, the only emergency mental health care that will be offered in Mendocino County will be provided by the Corrections Officers at the Mendocino County Jail.

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(October 2014) A READER WRITES: “What you and all of these latter day crusaders for preserving the sanctity of mediocrity (that has characterized county delivery of adult mental health services for a quarter century) seem to be ignorant of is that children's mental health services was successfully privatized a dozen or more years ago and that the supposed good old days that you wish to return to never existed. The simple fact is that delivery of adult mental health services has improved with Ortner and is likely to continue to improve — something that was never achieved under the county run system despite decades of effort. And going with Optum would have meant throwing overboard Redwood Children's Services, the children's mental health provider. The alternative to privatization with Ortner/Redwood was not to stay with the failed County MH delivery system, but to dump Redwood and have Optum handle both adults and children. Optum would have brought in their own people and taken the profits outtahere. As it is, cadres of local poverty pimps are still getting a slice of the pie.”

This assumes that the only way to “improve” mental health services was to privatize them. The reader says that “decades of effort” were made but nothing improved. Why might that be? In fact, no real effort was made. The only effort we could find in reviewing our archive of Mental Health Department coverage spanning “decades” was a parade of incompetents installed by the County as Director of Mental Health.

The primary “service” the public expects out of the Mental Health Department is crisis services. But during those alleged “decades of effort” referred to by Reader Writes, the only change made to crisis services was the controversial closure of the Psychiatric Health Facility (PHF) back in the early 2000s, which lead to even more reliance on cops as crisis intervention workers. What was the reason given the then-Supervisors that the PHF had to close? Answer: The well-paid staff was stressed out themselves.

How about a crisis van on call 24/7 to back up the cops on mental health calls? Even with the extra $1 mil state windfall from Proposition 63, the County and its Mental Health Board couldn’t get past an ill-considered Request For Proposals to contract it out so no one bid the job. End of project. The funds were there, the idea pursued, but dropped.

Nobody pressured the Mental Health Department to get the Crisis Van up and running. Crisis services dropped to near nothing and cops continued to do all the mental health heavy lifting, justly complaining that they shouldn't be doing all of it alone.

Up pops Pinizzotto. He becomes the County's go-to mental health guy, arranging the sale of the County's mental health services to his former employer, Ortner Management Group of Yuba City? His present employer just happens to be the County of Mendocino.

Pinizzotto now reports directly to the Supervisors, faithfully telling them that “delivery of mental health services had improved with Ortner.”

For years we pointed out that Mendo’s Mental Health Department was not only overstaffed but doing a lousy job — a fact we reported on at length.

Here are a few excerpts from prior discussions of Mental Health from the AVA archives:

Jim Shields, January 2001 — A couple of weeks ago, I reported to you that the Supes — with the exception of Mike Delbar — caved in to Mental Health Director Kristy Kelley’s demand to permanently shut down the county’s Psychiatric Health Facility (PHF). I’ve said time and time again, the Board just doesn’t have the political will to tell the Mental Health Department to do its job: Provide acute psychiatric care for folks — some of whom are also caught up in the criminal justice system. For you anglers out there, you’re familiar with the old saying about when a fish stinks, it stinks from the head down. The Mental Health Department is stinking up the joint, and you can look no further than its head — Ms. Kelley — to find the source of the stench. The Supes swallowed hook, line and sinker, Kelley’s pitch that the Board could utilize $900,000 in purported savings from the PHF’s closure “towards the development of a comprehensive and effective mental health system of care.” This new scheme would result in kinder, gentler “helping professionals” from the Mental Health Department reaching out and laying the healing hands on the troubled souls who no longer would require the services of the PHF unit. How’s the new system working? Several days ago, the helping professionals locked a troubled soul in a DMH vehicle for three hours on a sweltering day. The abandoned troubled soul kicked out the car’s window in order to relieve himself. It’s also way past time for the Supes to relieve Kelley — permanently — from her post.

Jim Shields, January 2001 — Psychiatric Unit Still Closed — Since we’re on the subject of how government treats humans, the situation with the County’s Psychiatric Health Facility is truly criminal. The PHF (pronounced “puff”) unit has been shut down since last December. The PHF unit deals with the very, very mentally ill, some of whom are violent and/or criminal offenders. These folks require 24-hour attention in the special facility. The County Jail is neither equipped nor does it have the qualified staff to care for people who are charged with crimes but are also mentally ill. Likewise, harmless but mentally ill folks who wander the streets getting into mischief don’t belong in jail. They need care and treatment. But when the county’s Mental Health Department closes the only facility that offers specialized treatment, there are no good alternatives.

According to MH Director Kristy Kelley, her PHF staff is burned out and can’t handle the stress of their jobs. Read Glenda Anderson’s front-page Ukiah Daily Journal report for all the details, but allow me to say this: These are handsomely-paid professionals. One has to presume they went into their chosen profession with their eyes wide open. If they no longer can perform their jobs, they need to get off the County’s payroll and find something else to do. At Tuesday’s BOS meeting, Kelley spoke as if the PHF unit would not be reopening anytime soon, if at all. She even talked about turning the PHF unit space over to another department. CAO Jim Anderson, to his credit, told the Supes it was “premature” to be exploring such a drastic option. There are serious questions about Kelley’s performance as head of one of the County’s most critical services. Granted, her staff may be stressed out, but closing the PHF is no solution. Her five bosses on the Board of Supervisors need to take decisive action — it’s been allowed to fester far too long. Cops have a hard enough time dealing with the run-of-the-mill, garden-variety types of criminals and assorted low-lifes who operate in Mendoland. Mentally ill folks need to be cared for by professionals. When there’s no place to put them, the cops are forced to deal with them. This requires deputies to hold them pending finding a suitable, oftentimes out-of-county mental facility to house them. This breakdown in mental health services is both a burden on law enforcement and an extra expense to taxpayers. It’s also unfair to people who aren’t lawbreakers but just sick mentally. Bringing law enforcement into the equation has the effect of criminalizing something which ain’t criminal. The cops don’t like it any better than we do, but right now they have little choice.

Jim Shields, August 2001 — It was painful to witness, but at Tuesday’s Supes’ confab, the criminal justice types reluctantly threw in the towel. We’re speaking of the Board’s decision to permanently close the county’s Psychiatric Health Facility. You can’t blame the Sheriff, Public Defender, Probation Department, DA, or the Courts for running up the white flag. They all saw the handwriting on the wall months ago. With the exception of Mike Delbar, who voted against locking the doors of the PHF unit, the rest of Board just didn’t have the political will to tell the Mental Health Department to do its job: Provide acute psychiatric care for folks — some of whom are also caught up in the criminal justice system — right here in Mendocino County.

Instead, the county will utilize $900,000 in purported savings from the PHF’s closure “towards the development of a comprehensive and effective mental health system of care.” Why must the PHF unit be closed in order to attain that lofty goal? Isn’t that what the Mental Health Department has been doing all along?

Anyway, these new, enhanced services don’t include local care for those whose severe mental health problems lead them into conflicts with the law or who pose a threat to themselves, as in suicidal tendencies. As a recent letter-writer opined, Mendocino County is becoming something of a haven for those who want to end it all, but that’s a subject best left closed, just like the PHF unit.

The problem with most of these folks is there’s no place to care for them in a Mendocino County sans a PHF. So, as has been the case since last year (when the PHF’s doors were “temporarily” closed), those individuals will be transported to out-of-county mental health hospitals. As you can imagine, that situation makes things a bit difficult for an already short-staffed Sheriff’s Office, which provides the out-of-county transportation for mentally ill inmates from the hospital to the courts. Likewise, defense attorneys are burdened with literally going the extra mile to meet with clients who may be in an Alameda County facility. Needless to say, family and friends of the mentally ill encounter the same sorts of difficulties.

But those are the prices that everybody pays when the county is working “towards the development of a comprehensive and effective mental health system of care.” When you think about it, closing the PHF is somewhat similar to the Supes’ decision to close all of the county’s landfills. Back then the Supes didn’t have the political will to deal with the dump issue. Now, we just ship the garbage out-of-here, out-of-sight, out-of-mind — it’s somebody else’s problem.

Mark Scaramella, June 2003 — In fact, the Supervisors couldn’t “look at the numbers” if they wanted to. The county does such a bad job reporting on routine things like department staffing levels, lost time accounting, position vacancies, outside contracting, consulting, temporary help, and on and on, that Supervisor Delbar recently exclaimed that he was surprised that the Mental Health Department had somehow ballooned up to 140 staffers.

Mark Scaramella, June 2003 — County CAO Jim Andersen offered this explanation of the Mental Health Department budget:

“The Mental Health Department is continuing to propose a spending plan that is consistent with revenues that can reasonably be expected to be earned in the 2003/04 fiscal year. The revenues will include approximately $1.0 million in a MediCal Cost Report claim that is expected in January of 2004. The Administrative Office and the Mental Health Department are recommending that the revenue be realized, and utilized to finance the payment of indirect costs to the General Fund and to reduce the deficit in the Special Revenue fund by approximately $650,000. This plan is being proposed, in part, to maintain the practice of payment of indirect costs (self-sufficiency), as well as to mitigate a deficit that is expected to be in excess of that which was previously communicated to the Board. The current deficit projection at the close of 2002/03 is anticipated at $2.0 to $3.0 million.”

How, exactly, can this $2-$3 million deficit be called “self-sufficiency”?

Mark Scaramella, September 2003 — Mental Health Director Beth Martinez, trying valiantly to pick up the pieces of a department riddled with incompetents and badly managed for two decades because supervisor Shoemaker inserted his pals in the department’s key positions, said her department will be $1.8 million in the red this year, adding that she was confident that she’ll be able to pay back about $300,000 of that amount. Martinez said that most of Mental Health’s clients are eligible for Medi-Cal, hence state reimbursements. Very few people who are not eligible for Medi-Cal present themselves to Mental Health; well-to-do mental cases pay for private assistance. “5150s” — cop code for persons deemed a danger to themselves or others, or are considered to be in “crisis” (suicidal or seriously depressed) are not required to present proof of insurance for their initial screening and their referrals for help, which is the same department policy in place before the budget crisis. (And as if a dangerously crazy person were together enough to bring his paper work along with him or even know where it or he was. Mental Health had been authorized for staffing up to 170 people. 45 positions were cut, but only nine of those were actual staffers and they volunteered to be laid off. The Sheriff’s Department presently bears the burden of caring for the aggressively deranged. That task proved to be beyond the capacities of the County’s helping professionals. Which is just as well; the average deputy at least brings commonsense, real life experience and human sympathies to work with him. At the County-run mental health unit therapists were locking themselves in their offices and frantically dialing 911 for the cops whenever a “client” went off. And clients were going off all the time because their tax paid therapists were driving them crazy. (Many of our therapists graduated from the more depraved sectors of the local counterculture, deriving, then, from a kind of socially sanctioned insanity that would have rendered them totally, permanently unfit for public employment in any other country in the world. Not here. They have allies and friends on the Board of Supervisors.) Treatment and hospitalization costs have gone up faster than reimbursement rates, and if the treatment and hospitalization is legally mandated, there’s not much left over for early intervention or ongoing service. The financial crunch in Mental Health stemmed from increased mandated costs and lower state reimbursements, leaving little money or staff time for non-crisis mentally ill Mendolanders.

* * *

Those last two items, where it was reported that Mental Health was millions of dollars in the red for several years in a row, were the real reason Pinizzotto was brought in to privatize Mental Health. The billing was done badly and Official Mendo, instead of revising the billing procedures, subsidized the deficit by putting a hiring freeze on Social Services and drastically cut back on Mental Health General Fund positions (under then HHSA boss Carmel Angelo, now the County’s CEO), even though most Social Services jobs were paid out of state and federal funds.

In fact there was no “effort,” much less “decades” of it, to improve Mental Health services, especially crisis services — if there had been, there would at least have been a crisis van in Mendocino County like there is in San Francisco, Contra Costa and Sonoma counties. Official Mendo not only made no “effort” to improve Mental Health services, they intentionally neglected it and made it objectively worse by closing the PHF simply because the staff was complaining, and cutting crisis workers, leaving only the specialized grant-driven non-general-fund non-crisis programs that did nothing to deal with mental health problems but employed many local psychiatrists and psychologists and counselors to make sure the next year’s grants were obtained.

Then when the services were cut back (down to near zero on the Coast) Mendo threw up its over-wrung hands and bought Pinizzotto’s Ortner brand of snake oil for over $7 mil and put Pinizzotto in charge of monitoring the “improvement.”

We doubt the “reader” can cite even one concrete example of legitimate “efforts” which were undertaken over the last few “decades” to improve County Mental Health services before the County gave up and handed millions of dollars over to Pinizzotto-Ortner. Handing the product of decades of mismanagement over to Pinizzotto’s former employer in an obviously sleazy way was only pushed through because the County wanted to get rid of a dysfunctional Mental Health organization which their own failure and neglect had created.

* * *

CATCH OF THE DAY, May 22, 2018

Alonso, Carr, Cedillo

DANIEL ALONSO, Fort Bragg. Unlawful sex with minor with perpetrator over 21 and victim under 16.

SEAN CAHILL, Ukiah. Stolen vehicle, attempt to commit crimes, resisting. (Booking photo not available.)

MICHELLE CARR, Ukiah. Probation revocation.

JOSEPH CEDILLO, Ukiah. Battery on school, hospital or park property.

Cook, Keys, Lindauer

JASON COOK, Ukiah. Criminal threats, suspended license for DUI, special allegation: serious felony convict.

RONALD KEYS, Ukiah. Probation revocation.

MICHAEL LINDAUER, South Lake Tahoe/Fort Bragg. Grand theft.

Maestas, Orr, Ruiz

HEIDI MAESTAS, Covelo. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, failure to appear.

ROBERT ORR, Santa Rosa/Calpella. Suspended license (for reckless driving, concealed dirk-dagger.

ROLANDO RUIZ, Ukiah. Evasion, failure to appear.

Shipman, Sullivan, Voris

JOHN SHIPMAN, Fort Bragg. Parole violation.

FRONA SULLIVAN, Ukiah. Failure to appear, probation revocation.

MICHAEL VORIS, Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

* * *

ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY

One of the great regrets in my life was not standing up, when I was a kid, for some of the others who were bullied/made fun of. I was fortunate to only encounter a little of that kind crap aggression/humiliation, mainly because I would hit back if hit. I mean it was, for me, practically involuntary!

Still, I could have done more than just not bully or not speaking, (or fisting!) up. I wish it could be taught, and burnt into the consciousness of the strong, that their role is to protect and defend the weak and not prey on them. You would think all the hollywood “hero” films would make that the gold standard of popularity…

* * *

UNDERSTANDING ENGINEERS

Three engineering students were gathered together discussing who must have designed the human body.

One said, "It was a mechanical engineer. Just look at all the joints."

Another said, "No, it was an electrical engineer. The nervous system has many thousands of electrical connections."

The last one said, "No, actually it had to have been a civil engineer. Who else would run a toxic waste pipeline through a recreational area?"

* * *

LANDMARK LAWSUIT CLAIMS MONSANTO HID CANCER DANGER of weedkiller for decades

“The internal correspondence noted by Johnson could support a jury finding that Monsanto has long been aware of the risk that its glyphosate-based herbicides are carcinogenic … but has continuously sought to influence the scientific literature to prevent its internal concerns from reaching the public sphere and to bolster its defenses in products liability actions,” Judge Karnow wrote. “Thus there are triable issues of material fact."

theguardian.com/business/2018/may/22/monsanto-trial-cancer-weedkiller-roundup-dewayne-johnson

* * *

NEGATIVE ENERGY ZAPPED

Chanted Hare Krishna at the United Nations Monday Morning...

Warmest spiritual greetings, Please know that I spent Monday morning chanting the Mahamantram inside of, and around the outside of, the United Nations, in order to neutralize the negative energy. Will be in NYC until June 10th, and beyond that, will wander. Join with me at any time!

Craig Louis Stehr
Email: craiglouisstehr@gmail.com

* * *

WHEN THE BEES STING THE DOG...

A Reader Writes:

Our dog Brutus had a strong reaction to being stung by hornets or yellowjackets (more likely), swelling, breathing issue, little bumps. No emergency vet and can't buy EpiPen without prescription. We gave him benadryl and he got better, but still has some swelling. I got stung too, it was Belinda Point, saw both a big paper wasp nest and yellowjacket ground hive stirred up along the trail.

Thanks so much for all the Bee advice, Brutus is mostly all better this morning. We had a real scare. Thanks for all the love and advice. He had a gigantic face, hard time breathing, little beads popping up all over under his fur. He was in agony. We researched the benadryl dose (see Merck vet manual) and it helped a lot fast. We brushed all over him to try to remove stingers. We used baking soda and water which saved my life when I was stung 33 times when I was 11. Many other good suggestions to keep on hand. Bach's remedy, Adolph’s meat tenderizer. Thanks so much! Brutus is mostly all better this morning.

* * *

HELP WANTED

SOS- Networking for Mendocino Coast Companion Animals

Animal Care Services Fort Bragg - Two Positions Open, Please Apply Immediately.

Animal Facility Attendant New

Fort Bragg, CA

Full-time Permanent - $26,145.60 - $31,761.60 annually

Category: Miscellaneous / Animal Services / Customer Service / Drivers

The current vacancy is in Fort Bragg. The list developed from this recruitment will be used for a limited period to fill open and promotional, regular full-time, and part-time positions in locations throughout the County, should they occur. Pursuant to current bargaining unit agreements, employees regularly assigned to the coastal region or in Covelo are eligible to receive a 5% assignment premium. Effective July 1, 2018 this classification will receive a 3% pay increase. Under general supervision, primary responsibilities include the performance of kennel duties related to the physical well being of animals contained in the animal facility.

Posted 1 day ago | Closes in 2 weeks

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Animal Facility Attendant New Fort Bragg, CA Extra-help (Not to Exceed 6 Months) - $12.57 - $14.54 hourly Category: Miscellaneous / Animal Services / Customer Service / Drivers

This recruitment is for temporary, non-benefited, extra-help work ONLY . Do not apply if you are not willing to accept temporary, extra-help work. Departments may hire extra-help employees for a limited period. Extra-help is temporary employment generally not to exceed six (6) months unless seasonal, intermittent, or on-call. Extra-help employment may last up to one (1) year when hired to work on a specific project. Extra-help employees are paid only for the hours worked and are not entitled to benefits, property rights (seniority), or promotional preference. As an extra-help employee, there is no guarantee of regularly scheduled hours or continued employment. Interested applicants... Posted 1 day ago | Closes in 2 weeks!

* * *

THE OLD COACHMAN was the only decent servant in the place; the rest were very pretty examples of what a damned double-faced lackey can be. Our hero [Willoughby] had the advantage, which he did not in the least appreciate at the time, of learning to hate this type, and to recognise it whenever he saw it later on. [...] "That's a good boy," the footman would say when our hero brought him his tea without spilling it in the saucer, an inefficiency which that young man detested. Willoughby found himself very little honoured by the term, which had lost its initial attractiveness. He said to himself, as if he were in an Elizabethan play: I am a villain, and smiled. Few phrases unchain the spirit as this one does, or admit as many new thoughts. It is true that Willoughby's idea of villainy did not amount to much. He wished to be bold, generous, dashing and all the rest of it; ride a bay horse, come to a spectacular end; to be bloody to abstract legions perhaps, but subtle and cruel only to butlers and footmen. On the other hand, butlers and footmen constitute a large part of the world as seem from under a kitchen table. For the rest, he was a pudding-faced and timid little boy, and he still had a good heart. He longed to visit cottagers, to free slaves, and gouge out the eyes of carters who ill-treated their horses.

—John Collier, 1934; from "Defy the Foul Fiend"

* * *

“Hang on, Mike. I think I found that shadow campaign being mounted against me.”

* * *

NEWS FROM CANCER RESOURCE CENTERS

Welcome, Spring!

The hills are green and the wildflowers abundant. Nature is showing off and I enjoy paying attention. I hope this message finds you well and ready for warmer days. There is a lot happening at the Cancer Resource Centers of Mendocino County this time of year. Pure Mendocino tickets are on sale now and often sell out. You can buy tickets online at puremendocino.org. —Karen Oslund, Executive Director

A FOND FAREWELL Nancy Johnson, Support Services Manager at the Cancer Resource Centers' Ukiah office, is retiring May 31. It is impossible to condense or define her twenty years of service to the Cancer Resource Centers in a paragraph. Nancy was a volunteer before she was a staff member, and opened the inland office of CRC. She has accompanied hundreds of people on their cancer journey and her knowledge and experience cannot be replaced. Last month, Nancy received the "Rural Health Rock Star" award, which you can read about on our website: crcmendocino.org.

PLEASE JOIN our community in wishing Nancy a happy retirement at an Open House on May 30 from 11 a.m. to 3 pm. at the Ukiah CRC office. Refreshments will be served. RSVP to jill@crcmendocino.org

19th Annual Big River Walk and Paddle - Success! Thank you, one and all, for making the Big River Walk and Paddle a success. We had about 200 folks (if you include the four-footed variety) walk and paddle to defy cancer and raise funds to keep the Cancer Resource Centers' doors open. Our top pledge gatherer was Crystal Prairie. She won a guided river trip in a brand new redwood catamaran, the Mendo Lea, for up to six people, donated by Catch A Canoe. Other top pledge gatherers were the Noyo Women's Rowing Crew and Patti Boatwright. The prize for biggest team went to Home Health. Please save the date, May 18, 2019, for the 20th Annual Big River Walk and Paddle.

THANKS, KATIE! Ukiah High School senior Katie Penry decided that she wanted to make a difference in cancer patients' lives. Last fall, she decided her senior project would be providing knitted and crocheted hats for local cancer patients who have lost their hair during cancer treatment. She reached out the crafting community via posters and social media with the goal of providing 50 hats to the Cancer Resource Centers of Mendocino County by the end of her senior year. By April, Katie had knitted several hats herself and received hats of every size, color and style from men and women in the community and out of state--some hats came from as far away as Texas. The variety of hats include fair isle knits, alpaca fibers, bright rainbow colors and stylish berets. Katie recently came into the Cancer Resource Centers' Ukiah office and dropped off an astounding 132 hats, which will be shared with cancer patients throughout the county. We have many clients who will be comforted physically and emotionally by the gift of free hats, hand-made with love and compassion. We are proud to call Katie a true friend of the Cancer Resource Centers of Mendocino County! National Cancer Survivors Day is June 3 I recently had the honor of being in Dr. Jay Joseph's office when a patient got to ring the big, brass bell, symbolizing her completion of radiation therapy treatments for cancer. It was loud! The moment that a cancer patient finishes a course of treatment, whether radiation or chemotherapy, is cause for a celebration. It might be nurses busting out the confetti, or the patient may be invited to ring a bell, such as the one in Dr. Joseph's office. But after the excitement and relief of finally being finished with treatment for cancer, what happens next?

* * *

A SENIOR'S VERSION OF FACEBOOK

* * *

FOUR-FOOTED WEASEL NEEDS RIDE HOME (TWO-FOOTED ALREADY HERE)

Woodlands Wildlife has a small weasel that needs a ride from Sonoma (15 min southeast of Santa Rosa) home to the Mendocino Coast on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. He will need to be picked up at Sonoma Wildlife and transported directly here to little River. He'll come in a secure pet cage, and needs to be picked up at Sonoma Wildlife during their regular working hours (9-5). No dogs in the car, and might need air conditioning if it's hot out. If you're driving back from that area and would like to help bring this little guy home, call 707-937-2014 or email WoodlandsWildlife@mcn.org.

Ronnie/Woodlands Wildlife

* * *

TEACHER TRAINING

* * *

HELP WANTED

Seeking Garden Store Manager

Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens is hiring a Store Manager. The Garden Store Manager is responsible for all aspects and success of the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens gift shop. It is the entry point for our visitors so maintaining a welcoming and informative environment for our guests, volunteers and staff is essential. Retail management experience required.

Requirements

  • 3 years or more retail store management
  • Excellent people skills, must create a positive atmosphere for guests, staff and volunteers
  • Ability to create and manage budgets
  • Excellent knowledge of Point of Sales systems with ability to create reports
  • Order, receive, inventory and price merchandise
  • Experience in personnel management
  • Able to lift and carry 20 lbs. or more
  • Experience with management of volunteers a plus.

TO APPLY Please submit an Application for Employment (available on the Gardens’ website; see below), cover letter, and resume to MCBG Executive Director, Molly Barker at director@gardenbythesea.org.

For the full job description and application visit gardenbythesea.org/about-the-gardens/employment/garden-store-manager/

* * *

UKIAH SPEEDWAY WELCOMED BACK THE PCS LATE MODEL SERIES THIS PAST WEEKEND FOR A GREAT NIGHT OF RACING.

Saturday night featured the Bandoleros, Bombers, Pro 4 Modifieds, Jammers, Jalopies, and the PCS Late Models.

In the PCS Late Models, they had a 10 car dash with #22M David Miller taking home the trophy with #20 Cole Moore right on the back bumper. Matt Wendt #1, #27 John Moore, and #3 Dave Byrd rounded out the top 5. In the main event, you seen the #20 jump our front early and had a large gap between 2nd place until the yellow came out. From there, #8 Jason Romero was able to start holding pressure on Moore. Romero got to the lead, then missed turn one where Romero had slid up and brought out the caution. That meant Moore would get the lead again with #6 of Mike Beeler in second, Moore drove away on the restart with another caution coming out between the #14 of John Dalerio and #27 of John Moore on lap 70, and also lap 73. That meant that 2 laps remained for Cole Moore to try and take home his well-deserved win. It was a mad dash to the checkered flag with #20 Cole Moore winning over #8 Jason Romero taking 2nd from starting in the rear after his caution, #88 Kolby Berry finishing 3rd, #6 Mike Beeler in 4th and #27 John Moore rounding out the top 5.

In the Bandoleros, you seen the #04 Billy Ray, #44 Lane Anderson and #51 Justin Sabol out front battling all day/night. In the trophy dash, #51 Justin Sabol took home the trophy but you seen #44 Lane Anderson, #04 Billy Ray and #07 Hannah Ray following right behind him. In the race, #44 Lane Anderson and #04 Billy Ray swapped spots multiple times before Anderson was able to take home the win. The #72 Dylan Krug and #25 Sadie Krug were making improvements throughout the night and started to look great with the pack by the main event.

In the main event, #04 Billy Ray jumped out front for an early lead while #44 Lane Anderson and #51 were battling for second. There were a couple cautions that came out and that gave #44 Lane Anderson and #51 Justin Sabol an opportunity to battle for the lead. Lane Anderson in the #44 machine was able to take home the win after multiple laps of lead changing between him and the #51 Justin Sabol. Justin Sabol #51 finished 2nd with Billy Ray #04 finishing 3rd. Dylan Krug #72, Hannah Ray #07, and Sadie Krug #25 rounded out the pack.

In the Junior Jammers, #57K Kylei Keown was able to show again that she was there to win. Keown took home the win in the trophy dash, heat race and the main event. The main event was followed by #23 Christian Sanchez, #70 Joshua Smalls, and #3 Jennifer Campbell. In the Pro Jammers, #4 Raymond Taylor Jr was able to pull of the trophy dash, heat race and main event win. The trophy dash consisted of #88J Justin Moran, #20 Danny Helm Sr, and #48 Gene Odell Sr, with Taylor coming in 1st. In the heat race, #88J Justin Moran finished behind Taylor, with #48 Gene Odell Sr in 3rd, and #20 Danny Helm Sr in 4th. Taylor lead the main event to the checkered with #88J Justin Moran, #48 TJ Buzzard, and #20 Danny Helm Sr rounding out the finish.

In the Pro 4 Modifieds, #14 of Johnny Barker won the trophy dash followed by #87 Marty Lewis, #29 Mike Peterson, and #8 Andy Leuzinger. In the heat race, #01 Jimmy Sorrels was able to cross the checkered flag in front of, #8 Andy Leuzinger, #14 Johnny Barker, #87 Marty Lewis, #29 Mike Peterson rounding out the top 5. Marty Lewis in the #87 took home the main event win followed by #33 Bud Anderson, #01 Jimmy Sorrels, #15 Scott Brown, and #14 Johnny Barker rounding out the top 5.

In the Jalopies, there was 9 entries. In the heat race, you seen #07 Brandon Small take home the win with #8 Tommy Massey finishing in 2nd, and #04 Tom & Jim in 3rd. It was a tough break for the #81 Valicia Catching as she had an incident that put her into the infield where she had to retire for the night. In the main event, #12 of John Parker was able to get out front and take home the win with #07 of Brandon Small finishing 2nd and #8 of Tommy Massey finishing 3rd.

In the Bombers, #96 Rj Randall was able to bring home the trophy dash win followed by #88 Bob Mood and #5 Jeff French. We had two heat races, one was won by #17 Robert Byers and the second one was won by #88 Bob Mook. In the main event, there was a early caution right after the green flag dropped that included #B83 of Tim McCann, #66 Jimmy Sorrels, and #8 Ericka Ray. McCann and Sorrels both retired into the pits with Ray being able to continue on. From there, you seen #96 Rj Randall and #88 Bob Mook battling up front until Mook was able to gain the lead. Randall dropped back to 4th with #5 Jeff French taking over 2nd and #3 Dave Land taking 3rd. #51 of Trevor Abella rounded out the top 5.

This coming weekend will be at Lakeport Speedway on May 26th and 27th. Saturday, May 26th will feature the Bombers, Jalopies, Jammers, Legends of Pacific and the Lakeport Modifieds. Sunday, May 27th will feature the Bombers, Jalopies, Jammers, Bandoleros, and Legends of Pacific. There will also be boat races on Sunday! Gates open at 3:30pm with racing at 5pm. Adults are $12, Senior/Student are $9, Children 6-11 are $6, 5 & under are free, First Responders (id present) are $6, and the family pack is (2 general, 3 kids) are $30. We hope to see everyone there!

We would like to thank our ongoing sponsors at Ukiah Speedway; Clearlake Redi Mix, Eagle Distributing, McCarty’s Auto Body, 94.5 Kwine & Max 93.5, Bicoastal Media, In-Kind, Community First Credit Union, O’Reilly’s Ukiah, Redwood Ford and Redwood Ford.

Jr Jammers #70 Joshua Smalls, #3 Jennifer Campbell, and #57K Kylei Keown battling together in the heat race.

 

 

23 Comments

  1. james marmon May 22, 2018

    RE: BLAST FROM THE PAST: THE BIG SWINDLE
    by Mark Scaramella (October 2010)

    “COUNTY CEO Carmel Angelo and Health and Human Services Director Stacey Cryer told the Board of Supervisors last week that they had met with the State’s Mental Health Director who told them that Mendocino County may not have to pay back quite as much for “audit exceptions” (technically unreimburseable mental health services) owed several years ago. But our local Mental Health Branch is still looking at a serious, nay crippling, deficit that can no longer be absorbed out of other funds.”

    FAST FORWARD TO TODAY’S BOS MEETING.

    Federal Mental Health Audit Repayment
    (County Auditor’s Power Point Presentation)

    County Auditor sadly informed the board today that the County is on the hook for “God only knows how much” money that will have to be repaid to the feds for disallowed claims for Medi-Cal services provided by county mental health plans for specialty mental health services. This is on top of what I reported last week regarding Prop 63 (MHSA) funds that were not spent where they were supposed have been spent and somehow have disappeared.

    2018-19 Governor’s May Revision Highlights Department of Health Care Services

    Medi-Cal Specialty Mental Health Services Federal Audit Repayment

    A recent audit by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, is expected to be finalized and released within FY 2018-19. This audit will result in the disallowance of approximately $180.7 million in federal claims for Medi-Cal services provided by county mental health plans for specialty mental health services. These funds will initially be paid by the state in 2018-19 with repayments from counties occurring over the next four years to prevent significant funds from being diverted in the mental health delivery system in a single year. The Department will work with county stakeholders and the Department of Finance to establish this repayment plan by the counties.

    http://www.dhcs.ca.gov/Documents/Budget_Highlights/FY2018-19-MR-Highlights-051118.pdf

    Where’s the money Camille?

    James Marmon MSW

    Don’t anyone worry, we have Measure B money that will be coming in sometime around July, we’re going to need it.

    • james marmon May 23, 2018

      Governor Wants To Add Staff To Oversee Spending Of Mental Health Funds Following Critical Audit

      “A report earlier in the year indicated that counties had amassed $2.5 billion in unspent funds that were meant to go to mental health services.”

      Capital Public Radio: Governor, Lawmakers Offer Solutions For California Counties That Don’t Spend Mental-Health Funds

      “The Mental Health Services Act provides funding to counties so they can offer mental health prevention and treatment services to Medi-Cal patients. Brown wants to spend $6.7 million on new staff at the Department of Health Care Services to oversee how counties use the state money. (Caiola, 5/17)”

      https://californiahealthline.org/morning-breakout/governor-wants-to-add-staff-to-oversee-spending-of-mental-health-funds-following-critical-audit/

      Oh, Mendocino County spent the money, just not on what they were to supposed to spend it on.

      Where’s the money Camille?

      James Marmon MSW

      Pay backs are Mother F**kers

  2. Beth Swehla May 23, 2018

    Hi,
    Katie Penry is a senior at Potter Valley High School.
    Beth

  3. Randy Burke May 23, 2018

    Pinizzotto, again? Will we never learn?

  4. John Sakowicz May 23, 2018

    County CEO Carmel Angelo threw Health and Human Services Director Stacey Cryer under the bus without hesitation when the Ortner deal blew up, even though Ortner was Angelo’s idea. In her entire time with Mendocino County, Stacey Cryer never had an original thought or idea. She just followed orders.

    Cryer was so loyal to her boss…like a puppy dog, really. A sycophant. It was embarrassing.

    I often wonder where Stacey Cryer is today. Where did that slavish loyalty — and lack of critical thinking — get her?

    • james marmon May 23, 2018

      I mistakenly sat down next to her in a bar last year here in Lake County, the “Boathouse”. I was there for the food, but her husband and her were having a few drinks. When I recognized her I got up and split, didn’t want to go to jail. The restraining order was still in effect.

      James

  5. Arthur Juhl May 23, 2018

    Let’s look at the budget for Mental health, it is twenty one million dollars. When it was created there were supposed to be around sixty people working. There was no mention of consultants.
    I not going to explain why the county is short of money for Mental health but I want you the voters to figure it out!
    Why hire people in positions where lots of money is involved and they can not understand a balance sheet?
    People ask me why does the county that has some 97000 people with a budget of a third of a trillion dollars have problems? My off color answer is because the people running the county can not add.
    Arthur E. Juhl candidate for the 5th district Supervisor

    • George Hollister May 23, 2018

      Arthur, reading a balance sheet is unimportant when no one in charge cares. Why care, when the $21 million is not this county’s money?

      • james marmon May 23, 2018

        Because the feds and state are now holding them accoutable. Somebody’s elses money has a whole different meaning moving forward.

        • George Hollister May 23, 2018

          So the Feds and the state are going to hold who accountable for the “homeless” mess, too?

          James I will believe it when I see it. There is no one losing sleep in Washington, I can guarantee you. No one in Sacramento, either. The county is going to be held accountable in terms of what metrics?

  6. Jim Updegraff May 23, 2018

    Astros 11 Giants 2 – Giants used 5 pitchers and all 5 gave up runs. Need I say any thing more.

  7. Jim Updegraff May 23, 2018

    NFL owners have issued there new rules regarding players who so not salute the flag during the national anthem. The owners are not familiar with Constitution right of free speech.

  8. Jim Updegraff May 23, 2018

    Afternoon game today
    Houston 4 Giants 1 – Giants had 2 errors

    Giants have lost 8 of their last 9 on the road games.

  9. Arthur Juhl May 23, 2018

    George, it is about time the folks of this county wake up and see where their money is being spent. My other candidates are all good men, but are not familiar with financial statements. And to be a Supervisor that can take back the wasteful spending one has to know where the money is being spent. And start a real accountibilty of all departments. And not leave it up to the CEO , who was a nurse. The Supervisors should represent the people and should have a great deal of knowledge about the budget and where there is wasteful spending. Now I do not see it, but if elected I will make dam sure it will end!!!
    Arthur E. Juhl candidate for the 5th district Supervisor

    • George Hollister May 23, 2018

      I am with you Arthur, but no one in the county has given a twit about how money has been spent, if it is other people’s money. The only outcome that counts is the county comes out ahead, or bare minimum, breaks even. So when the subject of outcomes is brought up, you will hear some mumbo jumbo. Metrics for success are not based on good social outcomes. They never have been. At least not since the county has been spending other people’s money.

      You are right, follow the money.

      • Betsy Cawn May 23, 2018

        The real problem is that people don’t understand that it’s not “other people’s money” — it is theirs, yours, ours and mine. I’ve paid taxes for over 60 years now, and dues, and debts, and assessments, and fees. I consider the performance (to plan) and accountability (for spending results) to be the people’s business. Read the Ralph M. Brown Act.

  10. Bruce McEwen May 23, 2018

    A couple of notes on the sentencing of the embezzler:

    1.) I’ve been both commended and criticized for the comment about the serviceman’s uniform. In my day, to turn out in public like that would have resulted in being busted down to private and sent to Vietnam; but all that’s changed, and even the lawyers wear grungy Carharts or (worse, for the older ones) athletic suits that look more like pajamas than anything else) until they get to court and then change into suits and ties.

    Yes, styles have changed and work clothes rule. Along with high-&-tight haircuts which are now in vogue, but the style in my day made everyone in my platoon want to kill our CO wen were were ordered to go through the barbershop before we could go home on leave.

    2.) I commented that the father did the right thing, by getting himself shoved against the rail and snapped into hand cuffs, then escorted by the scruff of his collar to the docket to await transport to the jail with his daughter — this happened the moment she was remanded.

    My remark was dismissed (by persons who shall remain anonymous under journalistic privilege) as “inappropriate” but I stand by it, with this caveat; that Dad does some time in order to make it more than an empty gesture.

  11. Eric Sunswheat May 23, 2018

    Eventually the numbers crunchers among the bunch, will figure out that executives running the Mendo Board of Supervisors, are looking out for their own personal self interests. Some further calculations might conclude, with the fiscal downsizing of services, not only could functions revert to a previous County Administrative Officer form of county supervisors operation, but also the Board of Supervisor seats may become part time jobs, as obviously their current full time employment, seemingly being led around by their group think nose, is not working. Go figure.

  12. james marmon May 23, 2018

    At today’s Mental Health Act Oversight Committee meeting there was a discussion about what kind of facilities are needed. When I got home tonight I did a little needs assessment myself, and based it on Kemper’s 2016 Report, the last time the public got any numbers of any kind. These are all out of County Placements not covered by Medi-Cal.

    Adult Mental Health Services
    NON-Medi-Cal Payments (FY 2014-15)

    -Inpatient (highest level of care (PHF)) $144.260.00

    -Mental Health Rehabilitation Center (second highest level of care (IMD)) $75,410.00

    -Residential (third highest level of care (B&C)) $904,130.00

    http://www.mendocinocounty.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=1378

    Now, I don’t claim to be a genius everyday, but I am going to take a big leap here and suggest we buy or build some Board and Cares. Easy to license and cheap to staff.

    To add, about 90% of our out of county placements are in Board and Cares, not in locked facilities.

    Cha Ching $$$$$$

    James Marmon MSW
    Genius

    • james marmon May 23, 2018

      When I was a LPS Conservatorship Case Manager for Lake County, local Board and Cares were my greatest need, I had no where to step down my clients in Lake County, it’s the same for Mendocino County as well.

      James Marmon MSW
      Former Mental Health Specialist
      Sacramento, Placer, and Lake Counties.

    • james marmon May 24, 2018

      5 Levels of Care – Locked and Unlocked Psych Facilities

      Do you know where you are sending your loved one? If you have a friend or family member that is going to be placed in a locked facility, or a board and care, it is important to know the different levels of care to ensure your loved one gets the right placement, and treatment plan.

      Here is a quick rundown of levels of care:

      1. Acute Inpatient Psych – This is the highest level of care. When a patient is put on a 5150 for danger to others, danger to self, or gravely disabled, they are taken to a hospital for evaluation and treatment. Depending on their mental state, they may be there for more than 72 hours to ensure stabilization. Once they are stabilized, they are discharged to a lower level of care.

      2. Sub-Acute – A sub-acute level of care is a locked facility. It is one step below an acute setting. These individuals are on a conservatorship where someone else is calling the shots, which can be the Public Guardian (PG) or a family member. Their length of stay depends on their behavior. They must be med compliant, participate in group, and not require solitary confinement, or be a problem on the unit.

      3. An Institute for the Mentally Ill (IMD) – An IMD is also a locked facility for patients that are higher functioning than a sub-acute level, but still require a locked setting. Again, the PG or family member acts as the conservator, and the patients length of stay is determined by their mental stability and improvement.

      4. Enriched Board and Care – This is an open setting. Similar to a board and care, an enriched board and care is not locked. Patients have more liberties, and are not necessarily conserved. An enriched board and care is for higher functioning individuals that don’t require an IMD, but still need more intense treatment than a regular board and care.

      5. Regular Board and Care – This is an open setting. The patient is higher functioning than a patient at an enriched board and care, has more freedom and less intense treatment.

      https://blogs.psychcentral.com/manic-depression/2013/04/29/5-levels-of-care-locked-and-unlocked-psych-facilities/

  13. Debra Keipp May 23, 2018

    Monsanto?!? In the state of california the tax from the sale of pesticides goes to research the efficacy and safety of pesticide use on/around humans and the environment.
    Bullshit!!!!! Conflicted research.

    • Betsy Cawn May 23, 2018

      Self-serving “conflicted research” always depending on the injured to prove injury, even with vast numbers of unconnected individual reports, the afflicted always those with no resources to collectively sue for damages (the nature of which is always profoundly reduced to dollars).

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