Mendo Media


My uncle, the late 5th District Supervisor Joe Scaramella, was an avid reader all his life. He described the county’s media during his tour in office in the 50s and 60s as “mostly duplicative and wishy-washy.” But Uncle Joe conceded that despite its pale timidity, the Mendo media were influential: he always said that without the endorsement of the Ukiah Daily Journal he would not have elected Fifth District Supervisor in 1952. “I ran four times before without the Journal’s endorsement,” he’d laugh. “And I lost every time.”

Joe Scaramella was subsequently re-elected four times and was responsible for a variety of major reforms of county government: an end to private budget meetings held in the offices of lumber company lawyers; a set of rules and procedures for the operations of the Board of Supervisors; establishment of a Civil Service Commission and orderly personnel management procedures; and an hour set aside before each meeting for a general hearing of the public. He implemented these steps in his first term in office — well before enactment of the Brown Act which at least theoretically forced public business out into the open for the public to admire. For his work on behalf of the public interest, Uncle Joe was denounced by the private beneficiaries of back door politics as a troublemaker.  “They fostered the notion that I was a troublemaker because I was critical, perhaps sometimes unnecessarily,” Scaramella remembered. “But, criticism in my judgment is an essential part of life. If nobody says anything negative, how can you expect things to improve?”

So how do the media in Mendocino County today stand up to Joe Scaramella’s invocation of negativity as change agent? A few pretty well — most not so good.

For criticism and negativity you’d have to concede that the Anderson Valley Advertiser wins rather easily, although there’s not much competition. The AVA, like it or not, can count numerous triumphs, from the clean-up of the County Office of Education and the return of the Courthouse law library to the public it was designed to serve in the 1990s to in-depth critical coverage of the Board of Supervisors and the legal system.

More Mendo Media at The AVA here