Off the Record (Jan. 2, 2019)

WHO PICKED PICKER TO PICKLE PG&E? According to wire stories on Christmas Day, the PG&E rubber stamp California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has announced that they “will deeply investigate PG&E’s safety culture by examining the company’s current corporate governance, management and structure to determine the best path forward for Northern Californians to receive safe energy service. That includes possibly replacing the utility’s board of directors, breaking up the company into smaller parts or even converting it to a public agency.” The person presiding over this “investigation” is CPUC Chairman Michael Picker who was quoted in an “announcement” (meaning he had time to think about what he was saying), “This process will be like repairing a jetliner while it’s in flight. Crashing a plane to make it safer isn’t good for the passengers.” That’s gotta be one of the all-time dumbest analogies we’ve ever heard, and makes the entire “announcement” into a joke.

Picker

PG&E, in its beginnings, was kinda organized as a public benefit utility, although it quickly became the gigantic, corporate-structured, for-profit, pyro-beast California's power-dependent consumers suffer today. The Public Utilities Commission, to say the least, does not protect PG&E's customers and, it seems, has begun to burn large numbers of us out of our homes. (PG&E is consensus-responsible for 17 of last summer's fires.) 

CUE UP the laff track just in case nothing happens, but PUC president Picker has recently announced three options for a revamp of PG&E: (1) Shuffling the people presently at the top of PG&E's power structure; (2) regional subsidiaries (3) at last become a publicly-owned utility, with PG&E only providing power distribution generated by other entities. Option 3 is best, but only if the present organization of the power monopoly is dismantled and unbeholden public commissioners are appointed to oversee the apparatus.

THE UKIAH BOWLING ALLEY is hanging on with a month-to-month lease. An important institution to many Mendo people beyond its host community of Ukiah, its loss will be felt far and wide. A recurrent rumor says the popular business will be razed for a big box store called Target.

THE STATE LEGISLATURE, dominated by Democrats, is promising to waive community college fees, at least for the first two years. Free, or close to free, is what community colleges used to be. California's state and university systems, too. When I was a kid — wait! don't run! — if you could read and write well enough, and had mastered a few basic math procedures coming out of high school, you could enroll at UC Berkeley or any other tax-funded institution of higher learning for nominal fees. The idea was that higher learning made capitalism work better, what with a steady supply of capable cogs at key levers. Lately, though, the community colleges spend much instructional time making up, or trying to make up, what used to be mastered at the high school level. But that's still an important function. If young people are to defend themselves in the world they're stepping into they'll need all the education, self or imposed, they can get.

ARE FRENCH-STYLE mass demonstrations over the ever-rising cost of living likely in the United States? A bunch of us — various shades of lib-lab, heavier on labs — were arguing about it. I took an optimistic stance, citing the brief but hopeful Occupy Movement as an example of how fast Americans can mobilize when a brilliant slogan causes a mass light bulb to snap on in the national skull. I think millions of otherwise despairing Americans were compelled by the Occupy demonstrations to at least begin to think in self-preserving social class terms, exactly the kind of thinking the oligarchy discourages through its K-12 educational processes and its mass media. A Frenchman knows exactly where he is on the social totem pole and he fights to protect and advance his interests, hence the weekend riots lately everywhere in that country. The American, hunkered down, isolated in his mortgaged bunker in an anonymous “community” of bunkers, is just now beginning to stir.

JUST WHEN you might have thought it was impossible to add to the prevalent decadence, "Northern California's first dog exhibition kitchen, JustFoodForDogs, is now open at Town Center, Corte Madera. Fit for human consumption but nutritionally balanced for dogs." 

WONDER HOW Mendo's money is doing as the stock market whiplashes? Don't know, but at least a portion of that money, the retirement fund for instance, would be more productively and safely invested here at home, in housing for instance, where a return, after the initial investment, would be safer than left to "money managers" to gamble on international markets. There are wealthy local individuals making big dough on the crackerbox apartment complexes in South Ukiah, among other crowded areas of urbanized Mendocino County, so why not the County of Make Believe?

THE STATE LEGISLATURE, dominated by conservative Democrats of the McGuire-Wood type, is promising to revise unto rolling all the way back, Prop 13, passed into law in 1978. Yeah, yeah it kept some old folks from being taxed out of their homes, which was cover for its true aim — a massive rollback of corporate taxes, which were in no danger of being taxed out of their homes. Proponents of the big revision say, among other desirable claims, that people who have inherited homes but rent them, should not get an inheritance tax break. Governor Gavin says the entire property tax structure is up for a thorough re-tool.

IS IT JUST ME, or is spitting in public places on the increase? I watched two guys in the WalMart parking lot un-self-consciously expectorate in front of themselves prior to climbing into their trucks, one guy seeming to put his whole body into a massive discharge. Downtown, on School Street, near the County Courthouse, a young woman leaned over the curb between my vehicle and my neighbor's to slowly release a kind of liquid stalactite, lovingly lingering over her art work as it slowly descended to the pavement. She could see me, and I was in pure repulsed mode, watching her, sooooooo I'm assuming she was deliberately expressing her contempt for me and anyone else likely to be offended. 

YEARS AGO, in another life, I was in Singapore just after it had become part of Malaysia. In the streets, the Malays and Chinese were cutting each other up with parangs (machetes) in ethnic warfare. Roundeyes were advised to stay in our hotels to avoid becoming collateral damage. Led by the brilliant Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore, a largely Chinese city, soon exited Malaysia, a Brit construct to begin with, and Malaysia would be a Malay-Moslem country it remains today. Prior to Lee, Singapore was a wide open, wild place. With Lee came an immediate crackdown, political and social, outlawing everything from leftwing political parties to……SPITTING. Singapore people caught in the act of hocking up public loogies got themselves caned. Take him or leave him, Lee Kuan Yew was absolutely correct about how to end filthy public behavior. We need Lee Kuan Yew in Ukiah! Parenthetically, one of Lee's first acts was to confine a friend from childhood in a one-room hut in a public Singapore garden. "Don't feel sorry for him," Lee cautioned people who might be moved by the odd spectacle. "He's a very dangerous man, a communist." Lee defined "communist" rather broadly, including actual communists to include his many critics.

YEAR END REPORT FROM DA EYSTER: As the final jury trial of calendar year 2018 has been called and decided, the District Attorney first thanks the hundreds of local citizens who take time away from work and family to objectively listen to evidence and deliberate on important legal issues being decided almost every week in the criminal courtrooms of Mendocino County.

WITH District Attorney Eyster's third term in office about to begin in just a few days, we thought we would let the public know that the DA and his deputies have a weighted 85% success rate -- spanning the eight years DA Eyster has been serving as the county's chief law enforcement officer -- at being able to prove to jurors the guilt of defendants charged with local crimes and demanding their constitutional right to a jury trial in the Mendocino County Superior Court.

THIS high jury trial success rate is the result of hard work by the individual prosecutors, support staff, and the deputies and officers who ferret out crime, gather important evidence, testify in court, and ultimately provide protection for all of us. As we reflect on the recent tragedy in Newman, the DA once again thanks all local law enforcement deputies, officers, and investigators for jobs well-done in 2018. As we look forward to 2019 with hope for good health and prosperity, please take a moment to say a prayer for the safety of those among us who serve and protect. (DA’s press release)

ED NOTE: High rates of conviction are really nothing to brag about considering that almost every defendant ought to be locked up for his own safety. We’re not talking master criminals here. Master criminals don’t get arrested, and if they do they get off. The local justice system simply rotates the usual suspects through itself. We’re seeing third and even fourth generation cripples being on the old justice system conveyor belt.

THE FLYNN SITUATION: A reader writes: “Hi All, Maybe I missed it but - Can we get an update on Flynn? I saw that he violated parole. Are you going to do a story on it or let him write his own story? I sure will miss his column if he stops writing. I wish him well and hopefully a quick return to the outside!” 

ED REPLY: Flynn was released New Year's Eve. We assume he will be writing up his latest chapter himself. We understand, though, that Flynn got himself 90 days for parole violation, but we await his own clarification, which we assume will be forthcoming.

PERSONS of a certain age will remember being herded down to the local bank where a portly, suited gentleman explained that one dollar deposited with him would magically became ten dollars in ten years. "Yes, boys and girls, it pays to be thrifty." (I accumulated maybe six bucks over three months before I withdrew it to buy a basketball or whatever it was I hankered after at age 10.) The entire concept of thrift has disappeared, and the banks, not to put too fine a point on it, are run by people who think like criminals. We now pay them to keep money in their banks, those of us lucky enough to have some. So, Wells Fargo's thefts are so egregious they get caught bilking their customers, and the media are reporting the government fines levied against the bank as proof of something or other, other than accountability since no one is going to jail for committing these crimes, least of all the bank president. He'll probably leave soon with a $40 million bonus for "steering this fine institution through difficult times." Not one dime will go to the vics, so what's the point in a federal case that punishes no one, benefits no one? The government gets the fine money. And some career officeholder will send out a zillion pressers about what a great job he's doing protecting the public from the wolves.

CANNAVINE has sold medicinal marijuana at 1230 Airport Park Boulevard, Ukiah, for a couple of years, but now committed stoners won't have to get their doctors to write up phony bad backs to get high because Cannavine has just been approved by Ukiah, always on the cutting edge of free enterprise, to also sell plain old whoop de doo dope!

BETSY CAWN WRITES from Lake County: “I wonder what the fires do to the natural insect populations. On this side of the Cow, long-applied chemical treatments to eradicate the Clear Lake Gnat began in the 50s with 12 years of DDD, followed by who-knows-how-many decades of Malathion (as prescribed by UC Davis “scientists.” So much vineyard pest management nearby, hardly see a bug anymore — and yes, Virginia, that is scary.”

THIS SOUND ‘PROGRESSIVE’ TO YOU? "Every two years, the CA Democrats elect 7 self-identified females and 7 other than self-identified females from each Assembly District in CA as delegates to the state party. Those who are elected will have a chance to vote for the new party chair and other leadership. The race is hotly contested and will determine how welcoming, grassroots-focused and innovative the party becomes or how beholden it will remain to big money interests."

KEY PHRASE HERE IS, "will have a chance." And, I guess, "self-identified females" means 7 transvestites offset "7 other than self-identified females," the whole of it adding up to more evidence that the Democrats, rather than represent everyday working people are furiously pedaling to keep up with the latest in sex fads. The above event is controlled by Demo Central — Bosco, McGuire, Wood, Huffman via Demo Central, Pelosi, Feinstein, Schumer etc. But as the following indicates a few people are fighting back:

FOLLOWING MONTHS OF APPEALS, petitions, and finally a formal challenge to the California Democratic Party’s Compliance Review Commission, local Democrats must drive to either Crescent City or Santa Rosa to vote for their delegates to the California Democratic Party Central Committee. The outcome of this and other Assembly District Election Meetings (ADEMs) will help decide the direction of the Party for years to come. At stake is the selection of a new Party Chair (the previous chair resigned under allegations of sexual harassment and bullying), drafting the Party Platform, and endorsement of the 2020 Presidential candidate.

AD2 ADEM date is January 12th, with doors opening at 10 am, speeches at 10:30, and registration / voting from 11 am – 1 pm. Voters will select 14 delegates and one executive board member for a two-year term. All registered Democrats (on-site registration is available) from Assembly District 2 are eligible to vote. No proxies or vote-by-mail options are allowed. Past ADEMs have been held in Eureka and Ukiah. However, the new Regional Chair first decided to relocate the election to Santa Rosa only; following the successful challenge to the Compliance Review Commission, she then added a second site in Crescent City rather than restore the Eureka location.

With the two sites at the extreme northern and southern boundaries of the 320-mile-long district, voters in Humboldt, Trinity, and Mendocino counties will have to drive some distance to participate. This mirrors the very voter disenfranchisement decried by the Democratic National Party. This decision is even more suspicious given that Del Norte County has less than 4% of the registered Democrats in the district, while Humboldt has over 27% of those voters. Crescent City also does not appear to comply with the “centrally located” provision for ADEMs codified in Party bylaws and procedures.

Discontent is boiling over among Democrats who feel disenfranchised by this action, and who suspect that the progressive wing is being deliberately shut out of winning positions of power with a voice at the state level. Those re-entering politics with the Bernie movement effectively swept the ADEM elections in 2017 and have been working for change within the Party structure. This recent action is seen as but one tactic in the much anticipated push back from the establishment status quo of the Party.

Progressives throughout the district have organized a solid Progressive Labor slate of candidates. All eligible voters are strongly encouraged to attend this decisive upcoming ADEM; shared transportation to either the Crescent City and Santa Rosa location can be arranged. More information can be found at https://www.facebook.com/VoteAD2/ and https://www.adems.vote/ad2/

—Helene Rouvier, AD-02 delegate

THE ANNUAL Women's March in Eureka, an overwhelmingly caucasoid town, has been cancelled because not enough women of color have participated. The march had been scheduled for 19 January, but in lieu of the actual event organizers will discuss "a way to broaden cultural representation going forward." Like, why not charter a couple of buses for Bay Area marches? Or march anyway?  

ON LINE COMMENTS OF THE WEEK

 [1] HOMELESS IN SOHUM, an on-line comment:

Homeless folks are the bane of SoHum. Them and dope dealers!

In San Francisco, the Tech Industry is taxed at a higher rate and the proceeds are used to support the thousands of persons who can no longer afford to live in SF, and those persons who ended up homeless, due to whatever personal drama.

SoHum dope farms, where millionaires live, but don’t winter, should also have a tax to support the detritus and fallout of the drug-dealing industry!

An income based tax on pot farming profits, say 15-20%, should help to support the indigent, who currently camp in the Redwood Forests around Redway, and down by the river, outside Garberville. It is estimated, that the average homeless person, is responsible for the expenditure of $100,000/year in public services, welfare, general assistance, medicare etc. It seems only fair that the main contributors to the problem, dope growers, should foot the bill for the human wrecks that dope dealing produces.

Bleeding heart, but also, lame, do-gooders, like Ordonez, who also serves on the board at SoHum health, have apparently had it with the chronic homeless around Garberville/Redway, and now, with all the Motels full of permanent residents who also have nowhere else to go, there is no physical location to temporarily house anyone at all! (SoHum Health is another example of an organization where they talk about serving the public, but back away from it, again and again.)

SoHum, where the few tend to control the many, is a good example of the attitudes which are exhibited by the homeless themselves! The homeless have the attitude that the population of the community should just see to their needs, give them a place to shelter, but allow dogs and smoking, showers, etc. Everyone wants something, but nobody has perspective, sensibility, or a sense of responsibility, personal or community!

In SF, they passed a tax. In SoHum, a tax will also be necessary, and, someone will have to contribute a space, or a good location, to accommodate the highly valuable section of society discussed here, since no church or public agency wants the responsibility or the exposure attendant with operating a homeless shelter.

Until the dope dealers are held responsible for the social costs of using their products, this never-ending problem without a solution, will continue. Taxing all Cannabis Industry Operations to support the homeless is an idea whose time has arrived, in SoHum, and elsewhere…

Or, just hand the homeless person a bus ticket to Mexicali. That will work!

[2] As I get older I have increasing problems dealing with complexity. I believe the same is true for most elderly people. The population generally is aging. So why do they keep making health insurance more and more complex? Do we really need to have the choice of 50 slightly differing plans? I just sent in an application for medicaid for my wife – a 3 inch thick sheaf of paperwork that cost me 4 days of work to find and photocopy. Computers have made it possible for government and corporations to make everything mind-numbingly complex and totally beyond understanding. At the same time, computer makers and programmers can’t standardize the simplest things. As was mentioned above, you can’t call a business and talk to a person without spending 15 minutes wading through a phone tree, and if you do they are in India reading off a script and you can’t understand them or get a useful answer. But at the same time, every telemarketer and robocaller on the planet can call you continually even though you have a cell and are also on the do not call list. Leading to the present situation where I seldom answer my phone unless the person is on my call list and their name pops up. Unfortunately, corporate callers like in health care are always calling from different numbers, so I miss a number of important calls. The lack of interest by phone companies and governments about doing anything at all about this situation is making telephones totally useless. If I wasn’t married I likely wouldn’t even own one.

[3] A few weeks ago I got a cell phone call, guy started shouting, telling me to stop calling him, he knows where I live, he’ll find me and so on. i didn’t know who he was, I rarely call anybody, and I certainly didn’t call his number. So I told him to fuck off and hung up. About 10 minutes later the phone rang again, from a different number, and a chirpy voice on the other end asked me if I was ready to buy an electronic home security system, which would allay all fears and counter all threats. I told her I already have a system — 3 layers — shotgun, carbine, revolver. That ended the conversation.

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