Why Nothing Gets Done In Mendocino County



From MARK SCARAMELLA
The AVA Online
Mendo’s Management Deficit 12/12/09
Excerpt

[...]The county has never required formal departmental reporting on a regular basis from their various departments. Such reporting is standard fare for ordinary businesses and should include preformatted reports addressing personnel/staffing, budget status, outside contracts, overtime, extra help, lost time, and the (brief) status of all special projects in the department. There are also needs to be specific identification of current and anticipated problems which each department is aware of with recommendations for how to deal with them. Problems which involve other departments should require the other department(s) to be on hand to resolve them at the time of each departmental presentation. Each department must also identify “cost drivers” — the primary factors driving their staffing levels and budgets. Each monthly report from a department must provide a summary and status of these cost drivers and what’s being done to control them.

As time passes, such reporting provides a basis for follow-up by comparing current months to previous months; objectives and assignments are accumulated with status reports each time they make presentations. The supervisors then gain an understanding of what their departments are doing, what the trends are, what affects their budgets, what can be done to handle them, and surprises will be minimized. This also provides a much better basis for annual budgeting and staffing decisions. Each department’s summaries should also include identification of which positions are funded by grants and special funds as separate from general fund positions.

Unfortunately, none of this kind of formal supervision — which you would expect from someone whose title is “supervisor” — is mentioned during political campaigns. Instead, what we get is standard, business as usual blather about water, zoning, “budget challenges,” why things can’t get done, “my position” on this or that, and the rest of the unattended, unaddressed “issues” over which the supervisors have very little control anyway.

Don’t expect anything different this year either. Candidates Hamburg, Roberts, Wells, Madrigal, Pinches, Orth, etc. can not and will not address the county’s urgent management deficit. Without such oversight, the county will continue to founder on the ever-steepening shoals of bloated, growing debt and looming revenue cuts…
~~

Draft Scaramella For County Supervisor!



From DAVE SMITH
Ukiah

If you’ve been reading Mark Scaramella’s insightful weekly reports on the County Board of Supervisors for the past few years in the Anderson Valley Advertiser, or gone to any of their meetings, you realize how utterly ineffective the Supervisors and CEO have become. With county budget deficits growing by the day, it is now alarming. Isn’t there somebody around in the 5th District who has the history, experience, smarts and toughness to ask hard questions, demand real answers, and help make reasonable decisions?

How about Mark?

Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry/Enology from Fresno State University. Ten years as USAF officer in aircraft maintenance management, defense acquisition and contract management, and logistics engineering. 15 years in defense and commercial contract engineering management, computer programming and consulting, technical writing, and part-time community college instructor.

Nephew (and political student) of the late former 5th District Supervisor Joe Scaramella, the best and most popular supervisor Mendocino County has ever had. Almost 20 years at the Anderson Valley Advertiser following county issues and politics in depth. 15 years as public rep on the Anderson Valley Fire Department Budget committee.

I asked him if he were a candidate for Supervisor in the 5th District what he would do about our looming problems…

Basic platform: Until basic management reporting and information systems are implemented and dealt with — such as monthly departmental budget reports developing a basis for follow-up, tracking and accountability over time, identifying cross-department cost-drivers, staffing, outside contracting and current problems, projects and priorities, there’s no point trying to address the so-called “issues.”

The only real county issue at this point given the badly declining revenues and state gridlock is how to introduce staff and contracting efficiencies, particularly in general fund departments. Revenue increases can be considered, but they won’t help in the short term.

What Gets Measured Gets Done



From TOM PETERS
Business Management Guru

Both of my books, In Search of Excellence and A Passion for Excellence, are said to have placed renewed emphasis on the qualitative aspects of business — for example, on people, customer satisfaction, nurturing of unruly champions and managing by wandering around.

While that comment is true, I retain strong vestiges of my engineering training from 25 years ago and admit to being a closet quantifier. I think the soundest management advice I’ve heard is the old saw; “What gets measured gets done.”

My own organization applies this dictum rigorously. Our five-day executive seminars are organized around a series of “promises” which demand of our participants practical action in our areas: customers, innovation, people and leadership. We quantify wherever possible. Although some of the promises may seem wildly ambitious, each is thoroughly grounded in observed business practice, usually in the toughest markets.

In the customer arena, we believe that regular, quantitative measurement of customer satisfaction provides a much better lead indicator of future organizational health than does profitability or market share change. We suggest monthly measurement. Further, we urge participants to make the level of customer satisfaction the primary basis for incentive compensation and annual performance evaluation for virtually every person at every level in every function throughout the organization. We also urge every organizational unit in every function to develop key quality measures. Progress should be posted on charts in every work space, and a quantitative goal report should be the first item of business at every staff meeting, regardless of topic.

Next, we specify that all marketers should be out in the field, listening to customers, at least 50 percent of the time. Even manufacturing or operations managers should be out with customers, listening, at least 15 percent of the time. In a related vein, each senior manager should habitually call at least four customers (ultimate users, distributors or major franchisees) each week from a “top 100″ customer list kept in his, or her, upper desk drawer or wallet.

Complete article here
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Let’s Do It!



From digby
Hullabaloo Blog

Howie caught a statement about yesterday’s results that’s well worth reading:

Marcy Winograd, the progressive Democrat running against Blue Dog Jane Harman, could well be swept into office on the same kind of tide– although of a more enlightened variety– that helped Scott Brown. On the surface she blames overnight bank bailouts and mandated health insurance for what happened last night. Her perspective:

Unfortunately, the Republicans were able to craft Brown’s campaign as an insurgent struggle for the working people against ever-intrusive big government. All they had to do was point their finger at overnight bank bail-outs & mandated private health insurance, then scream about corporate welfare and attacks on individual freedoms. Too many Democrats stayed home, no longer energized by the possibility of change, only deflated by the politics of appeasement. We need the Democratic leadership to keep the keys to our treasury, rather than allow the banking, health insurance, and big pharmaceutical interests to raid it under the banner of the Democratic Party. If we stand for the people, the people will stand with us. Campaigns for progressive congressional challengers offer the greatest promise for re-energizing the base and mobilizing Democrats to vote in mid-term elections.

Washington faces the danger of drawing the wrong conclusions, of believing that the current Democratic Party leadership must abandon a progressive agenda for labor rights and immigration reform and, instead, bow to the most reactionary forces in American politics. Quite the contrary. The Party must redefine itself as the voice of working people, of immigrants, of women, of the populist.

Secret Handshakes and the Flight from Community


From JOHN MICHAEL GREER
Via Energy Bulletin

Last week’s Archdruid Report post on the costs of community called up an interesting simulacrum of community in one corner of the peak oil blogosphere, as Sharon Astyk, Rob Hopkins, and Dmitry Orlov all joined in the conversation with blog posts in response. This didn’t exactly come as an unbearable surprise; the role of community in the deindustrial world of the imminent future has been a hot-button issue in the peak oil scene since before there was a peak oil scene, and a fair percentage of the posts here that have fielded more than the usual flurry of comments have been on that confused and contested subject.

Still, it interests me that so much of the discussion, as so often happens, went on as though history has nothing to teach us. One example out of many, and by no means the worst, is Astyk’s suggestion that the reason community has fallen apart in recent decades is that so many people work so hard, and are too tired to get involved. This echoes a common plaint, but the fact remains that a century ago most Americans worked 50, 60, or more hours a week as a matter of course, and most of those hours were spent at hard physical labor. Somehow that didn’t keep a dizzying array of community groups from flourishing to an extent I think few people remember today.

I want to focus here on one particular set of those community groups, partly because they’re tolerably well documented, partly because they offer some intriguing possibilities for an age of economic contraction and social fragmentation, and partly because I happen to know a fair amount about them, and not just from my usual eccentric historical reading. In fact, most Monday evenings you’ll find me helping to preserve one of the few survivals from an all-but-forgotten world, as I don one of the few neckties I own and head over to the old brick Masonic lodge here in Cumberland.

Complete article here
~
See also Community in Time and Space – Sharon Astyk
~~

The Security Scam


From MICHAEL FOLEY
The Next American Revolution Blog
Willits

From the moment the news of Haiti’s devastating earthquake hit the White House, the U.S. has been committed to a military presence there. Yesterday, Haitian President Rene Preval officially granted the U.S. control of the Port au Prince airport, but the U.S. military has been in control from Day Two. Complaints have been coming in from organizations as well-known as Doctors Without Borders that the military has obstructed the flow of aid, turning back one important shipment three times over the last few days. This morning Amy Goodman’s report from Haiti on Democracy Now! showed U.S. troops from the 82nd Airborne clutching their rifles and machine guns while directing crowds at Port au Prince’s General Hospital, unbidden by the medical staff there. Across the street was the flattened pharmacy, where medical supplies and the bodies of pharmacists, doctors and patients were buried. No soldier lent his hands to uncover the bodies or search for supplies. After all, they had their hands full.

There is no “security crisis” in Haiti. At least that is the testimony of the doctors, volunteers and those journalists who venture into the so-called red zones established by the military. According to Dr. Evan Lyon, the American surgeon working at the General Hospital, there are clinics with ten or twenty doctors and ten patients in so-called “secure” areas, but a thousand wait for surgery at General Hospital, which has only enough supplies to continue to operate for another 12 hours. Maybe the 82nd Airborne, now that they’ve arrived, will help get those supplies downtown. But they’ll have to put their guns down first.

The U.S. reaction to the crisis in Haiti has been likened to the Bush administration’s reaction to Hurricane Katrina. Fear the victims. Fear the black face in a sea of crisis. But the focus on “security” and reliance on a military presence in the face of untold human suffering bespeaks a deeper malady.

Livestock and Climate Change: What if the key actors in climate change are… cows, pigs, and chickens?



From ROBERT GOODLAND AND JEFF ANHANG
Worldwatch Institute
Thanks to RON EPSTEIN
Ukiah

Whenever the causes of climate change are discussed, fossil fuels top the list. Oil, natural gas, and especially coal are indeed major sources of human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases (GHGs). But we believe that the life cycle and supply chain of domesticated animals raised for food have been vastly underestimated as a source of GHGs, and in fact account for at least half of all human-caused GHGs. If this argument is right, it implies that replacing livestock products with better alternatives would be the best strategy for reversing climate change. In fact, this approach would have far more rapid effects on GHG emissions and their atmospheric concentrations—and thus on the rate the climate is warming—than actions to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy.

Livestock are already well-known to contribute to GHG emissions. Livestock’s Long Shadow, the widely-cited 2006 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), estimates that 7,516 million metric tons per year of CO2 equivalents (CO2e), or 18 percent of annual worldwide GHG emissions, are attributable to cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, camels, horses, pigs, and poultry. That amount would easily qualify livestock for a hard look indeed in the search for ways to address climate change. But our analysis shows that livestock and their byproducts actually account for at least 32,564million tons of CO2e per year, or 51 percent of annual worldwide GHG emissions.

Complete article available here
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George Will Displays Core GOP Value: Cheap, Disposable Labor


From Crooks and Liars

I’ve been writing for years that the core Republican value boils down to this: cheap, disposable labor.

They want the workforce battered to the point where they will be grateful for any kind of work, no matter how badly paid or how poor the working conditions – and they want you stripped of any rights in the workplace that might slow them down while making money.

I was reminded of that this basic truth this morning when I read George Will’s latest column:

Today’s unemployment rate is 10 percent; the underemployment rate—the unemployed, plus those employed part time, plus those discouraged persons who have stopped looking for jobs—is 17.3 percent. Almost 40 percent of the unemployed have been so for seven months or more—which is not surprising: Congress continues to extend eligibility for unemployment benefits, apparently oblivious to the truth that when you subsidize something you get more of it.

He’s not talking about the Wall Street Bankers who got us into this mess, of course. He’s chiding people who are on unemployment for not taking anything they can get, under any conditions.

He bemoans the fact that I can still pay my rent.

And here, I’ve been thanking the lucky stars that had me accept a job across the bridge in New Jersey, where the reasonable benefits are generous enough to still cover my rent and food. (I suppose I could get find a job doing manual labor at minimum wage somewhere, but the medical bills wouldn’t be worth it.)

Useful work versus useless toil



From KURT COBB
Resource Insights Blog

It was the contention of William Morris, the great progenitor of the modern arts and crafts movement and the historic preservation movement, that the signal qualities of industrial society are waste and useless toil. One hundred and twenty-six years after Morris gave a lecture entitled “Useful work versus useless toil” to a group of workingmen in London, little has changed except perhaps that the amount of waste and useless toil has grown exponentially.

The waste, of course, is obvious: wasteful consumption (tied neither to survival nor beauty but rather status); planned obsolescence as an industrial principle (which helps create repeat sales as well as ever higher mountains in our landfills); and profligate energy use which exhausts finite sources of energy such as fossil fuels.

Useless toil refers to all those tasks which either produce nothing of value for society (even if they enrich some individuals) or which actually detract from the overall public good. Morris had a nascent environmental awareness and decried the destruction of the landscape caused by industrialism in England.

Today, some of Morris’s themes may seem passé. He champions shorter working hours so that people can not only rest but also have adequate leisure to enjoy their lives. He thinks work ought to be on the whole pleasurable, that human beings want to work and make things of value and beauty. And, he wants working conditions to be not merely tolerable, but actually pleasant and enticing.

Let it rain……


~~

Ukiah Proposal: Trash In, Cash Out


From IKE HEINZ
Ukiah

Proposal for Biogas Capital Improvement Project

Thanks for the attention to the subject of energy from biogas. Following is a brief explanation of using landfill gas (LFG) and biogas from local organic waste.

The 2007 feasibility report projects LFG from the Ukiah landfill to be 300 cubic feet per minute for the next ten years.  It will slowly decrease to 200 cubic feet by 2023. We contacted national experts who proposed biomass gasification for increasing power potentials.  Gasification of biomass is not burning at all nor producing any more methane gas, rather is it an instant hot smoke gas extraction. All emitted gasses are completely absorbed, filtered and compressed. The process of gasification is automatic, extracting first water vapors then volatile gasses with heat. Using the exhaust heat from the electric turbine generators, gasification has no smokestacks and a relatively small physical footprint. In a closed loop cycle, no new additional pollution is created. The gasified material is left as agrichar, a clean soil amendment. The process purifies the carbon by heat. It qualifies for carbon credits. Distilled hot water is another byproduct.

Since LFG is bound to its location, a good site for a gasification plant is at the old dump on the existing concrete slab.  The LFG can then be mixed with the biogas as additional fuel. Biomass material for gasification is all locally available; it includes: biosolids, tree trimmings, agricultural and yard waste (currently burned.) At the moment, Ukiah pays for transporting its biosolids from the waste water treatment plant to “Redwood” in Marin for landfill. Cost and pollution can be redirected.

Wall Street’s Dirty Little Secret


From The Daily Beast

“Awarding bankers bonuses is tantamount to paying them for not being certified cretins.”

The biggest problem with 2009’s megabonuses is economic, not moral. Tunku Varadarajan on how Wall Street made money soaking savers and taxpayers, rather than adding value.

Bankers do not deserve bonuses this year, at least not in the Western world. And I don’t say this from atop some moral or aesthetic or populist high horse. Instead, my arguments are mostly economic.

Banks are making money because they’re borrowing at ridiculously low rates from the public and central banks and then investing in higher-yielding government securities.

The banks receive deposits from savers (on which they pay negligible interest) and then leverage it several times by borrowing from other banks, or the central bank. LIBOR (the rate at which banks borrow from each other) as well as the Fed’s discount window are below 0.5 percent. This is the cost of money to banks. The loot is then invested in government bonds, which are yielding anywhere from 3.75 percent to 4.75 percent in the U.S. and Europe.

This interest margin may not sound like much, but when applied to the trillions of dollars that make up various banks’ balance sheets, it produces profits in tens, if not hundreds, of billions of dollars. For a well-leveraged bank, this is a safe “carry” trade as long as the value of government securities does not collapse. In fact, a bank would have to be incredibly inept not to make money in these circumstances. Awarding bankers bonuses is tantamount to paying them for not being certified cretins.

Go to article
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Mendo Slaughterhouse? Kill ‘em Where You Raise ‘em! (Updated)


From Grist

Whole Foods’ new mobile slaughterhouses

Massachusetts poultry farmer Jennifer Hashley has a problem. From the moment she started raising pastured chickens outside Concord, Mass. in 2002, there was, as she put it “nowhere to go to get them processed.” While she had the option of slaughtering her chickens in her own backyard, Hashley knew that selling her chickens would be easier if she used a licensed slaughterhouse. Nor is she alone in her troubles. Despite growing demand for local, pasture-raised chickens, small poultry producers throughout Massachusetts, Connecticut, and even New York can’t or won’t expand for lack of processing capacity…  Full article here
~
Update: [As a carnivore, I support our small, local, pastoral farmers. Our weekend lamb-shank soup/stew (simmered for 4 hours with local organic veggies), from Owen Family Farm in Hopland, was superb! (They'll raise lamb, goat, or Black Angus beef for you - 707-744-1615.) Other than our much-respected vegan/vegetarian community, previous opposition centered around outside investors imposing a large facility on our population center to serve distant markets. I believe that the healthiest, sustainable farms are small, "garden farms" that include grass-fed livestock, with agricultural practices such as Biodynamics. Whether using mobile units for chickens, or more permanent structures for larger animals, sustainable community principles for local meat-processing include: humane slaughter, small-scale, location on the ranches or ranch-lands outside population centers, environmentally-friendly, wastes composted, locally-owned. -DS]

See also: Save The Planet: Eat More Beef

…and Favorite Veggie Burger recipes
~~

What’s Killing The Honeybees?


From California Literary Review
Thanks to Lisa Bregger
Ukiah

Rowan Jacobsen is an environmental writer living in Vermont. His most recent book is Fruitless Fall, an investigation into the collapse of honeybee colonies throughout the world. Below is Rowan’s interview with the California Literary Review.

For those of us who weren’t paying close attention during biology class, would you give us an overview of flowers, fruit and the role of bees?

Flowers are the sexual organs of plants. Most contain both pollen (plant sperm) and ovaries. For a plant to reproduce, it needs to somehow transfer its pollen to the ovaries of another member of the same species. For hundreds of millions of years, plants used the wind to do this. It’s like Internet spam: send hundreds of millions of flyweight grains of pollen in all directions, hoping that just one or two finds its way by chance to the right ovary. Many plants, such as pine and birch trees and the dreaded ragweed, still use wind pollination.

But about a hundred million years ago, one class of plants hit upon a revolutionary idea: Why not use insects to transport the pollen instead of wind? That way, you can make much bigger, heavier, more sophisticated pollen packages. And you can make far fewer of them if you can rely on the insects to travel more or less directly to another flower of your species… Full article here
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Local Stock Exchanges and National Stimulus


From MICHAEL SHUMAN
Small-Mart.org
Thanks to Michael Foley
Willits

Since the global financial system unraveled in 2008, U.S. policymakers have struggled heroically to improve the performance and oversight of global banks and investment firms. But these actions have been largely unresponsive to the growing number of Americans who would like to remove their hard-earned retirement savings from these high financial fliers altogether and invest their nest eggs in their community. Might it be time for policymakers to consider the potential stimulus payoffs from nurturing micro-equity investments?

One reason for growing public interest in local investment is the spread of “buy local” campaigns, a movement that is more than just local hucksterism. Consider the title of an article in a recent issue of Time: “Buying Local: How It Boosts the Economy.” Cutting-edge economic developers (except at the national level) increasingly recognize is the importance of strengthening locally owned, small businesses.

Growing evidence suggests that every dollar spent at a locally owned business generates two to four times more economic benefit—measured in income, wealth, jobs, and tax revenue—than a dollar spent at a globally owned business. That is because locally owned businesses spend much more of their money locally and thereby pump up the so-called economic multiplier. Other studies suggest that local businesses are critical to tourism, walkable communities, entrepreneurship, social equality, civil society, charitable giving, revitalized downtowns, and even political participation.

No on A But Yes on CostCo?


From JIM HOULE
Redwood Valley

Many of us fought against Measure A because we believed that Ukiah had no need for out-of-county retailers stealing business from our local merchants. Yet both the City Council and the County BOS are moving ahead trying to entice CostCo to locate here either as a part of the Airport Blvd. shopping area or as a special use permit on the old Masonite Site.

Many of those who seemed so militant last fall about keeping out the DDR complex now seem to be showing their true colors: they are really well brain-washed Super-Consumers trained in front of TV screen since infancy. They like the idea of a local CostCo in town. They love to push those oversized carts around a store empty of sales help and with an unpredictable inventory. They really don’t give a shit about the fate of our local merchants nor about the seedy look of empty stores on State Street that are the legacy of our previous run-ins with the Bog Box Monster. Yet, but yet, maybe they are actually the Realists: they know Little Ukiah can’t keep fighting the Big Capitalists indefinitely and are willing to make this one compromise so they can frolic along the broad aisles of a Ukiah CostCo and stand for 20 minutes at the checkout.

But how will CostCo impact local business? Who will be hit first? Probably the food stores: The Ukiah Valley cannot support our three big supermarkets plus both CostCo and the planned Walmart food store. Already struggling Raleys will likely go under first and those living in the north end of town without cars will be miles from a food store.

Ukiah Farmers Market Saturday 1/16/10


Neosho, Missouri

From SCOTT CRATTY
Ukiah

Farmers’ Market Fans,

Greetings.  Please come out Saturday to enjoy the Ukiah Saturday Farmers’ Market debut of musician John Craigie.  (More at http://www.johncraigiemusic.com/ or http://www.myspace.com/johncraigie )

John John reports that gopher activity has been spotted in the valley.  You can take action to protect your summer crops now by planting Gopher Purge, which John happens to have, in gallons pots and six packs.

When you get to the market Saturday (remember that we are starting at 9:30) you will notice that we are starting to ramp back up from the holidays, as describe below in the Market Message column slated to appear in this Friday’s Ukiah Daily Journal.  Here it is:

Food Not Drugs

Growth is not inherently better any more than turning up the volume makes bad music better.  Just because a farm is filling bins and bushels with food does not mean the food is fit to eat.  Remember, cancer is a growth-unregulated and uncontrolled growth.  Does anyone what to see a growth in the number of wars?  The number of abortions?  The number of high school dropouts?

Through modern technology, we have learned to produce bins and bushels without nutrient content.  It’s like giving tons of high school diplomas without knowing the information.

Action Center: Demonstrations at Geo-Engineering Scientists Conference in San Diego


From ROSALIND PETERSON
Redwood Valley

Geo-Engineering (Wikipedia) is the artificial modification of Earth’s climate systems. Geo-Engineering projects range from DECLASSIFIED experimentation (like iron particles being dumped into the oceans to attract algae, which sequesters carbon and, theoretically, slows global warming) to HIGHLY CLASSIFIED experimentation like AEROSOL SPRAYING (chemical spraying). The two most quickly advancing Geo-Engineering philosophies are carbon dioxide removal (CDR) and solar radiation management (SRM).

ALL Activists, Demonstrators Meet at (at closest public property- to be announced) San Diego Convention Center at 7:30 AM on Saturday, February 20th. Scientists and others will be meeting for their conference entitled “Can Geoengineering save us from Global Warming”. Bring signs, flyers and media connections. Groups are now co-ordinating from several nearby states. News has been that reports of this are spreading far and wide. Keep it LEGAL, keep it safe, STAY ON PUBLIC PROPERTY. When you arrive, others will be able to help guide you.

You can obtain the information by going to www.geoengineeringwatch.org
~~

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