Planning Director’s estimate on processing pot permits: Between 7 and 36 years for all permits received

County of Humboldt Planning Director John Ford was kind enough to give this response to a friend of THC’s inquiry about the total number of commercial cannabis permit application received before year’s end; Ford was also gracious enough to provide an estimate on how many permits the County would work through by year’s end.

Here’s the exchange:

Now, there are a couple of points we’d like to make about this: first, the Planning Department “taking action” on an application is, of course, not the same thing as approving it.

More importantly, let’s look at the anticipated rate of action-taking on permits. Ford (very generous) estimate that the County will take action on 300 of the 2,773 applications received this year means that – at the rate of 300 per year – we will be well into 2024, maybe even 2025, before the first round of applications are addressed. (Assuming the County doesn’t allow more applications in the future.)

But if you, like THC, are pretty damn skeptical about 300 applications being processed by year’s end, then you might want to consider the rate at which applications are being approved/processed now.

In terms of approved permits, we’ve got 19 so far, for a rough rate of 76 per year. Which would mean it will take over 36 years to get through all of the submitted apps should they be completed. 36 years in the future is also known as 2053.

This gives us an effective estimate of between 7 and 36 years for the County to handle their work on processing cannabis permits.

Which, as we are sure you are aware, is a big f***ing joke.

All told, this should be taken as yet another indication that the Supervisors didn’t have the faintest clue what they were getting into when they jumped into bed with the cannabis business. Far from cannabis turning into a cash cow, the green industry is turning into a massive drain on the County’s resources.

Of course, all the people waiting in line to get their applications processed once they’ve completed them shouldn’t be too concerned. By the time the County gets through the process – even if it happens in the shortest amount of time predicted – the majority of people won’t have the ability or even want to use those permits, as the green rush will have moved on after picking our area’s bones clean.

Which is a real darn shame, seeing as how the County and various cities in Humboldt have done their very best to completely screw over non-cannabis businesses in the short term. By the time cannabis in Humboldt collapses, those businesses won’t have the ability because zero effort has been made to invest in their success by our local governments. Hell, most of the businesses getting chased out by pot might not even be around anymore.

Be sure to thank your representatives when that time comes.

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New tool for finding all the County of Humboldt’s dirt: “Next Request”

This is a THC-sponsored public service announcement to let you all know about the County’s new web portal to all the Public Information requests they’ve received.

The new service is called “Next Request“; follow that link to start exploring.

We’re huge fans of the County making these requests more accessible to the public. We particularly like that the service is called Next Request; it’s like the County is just daring people to call them out on their idiotic bullshit.

Which, as luck would have it, is easy to do from Next Request as well – they have forms set up to help you submit requests.

The possibilities are endless…Curious about internal communication regarding the appointment of our shitty new public defendant? Request!

Want to know more about those shady decisions around the Measure Z funding applications? Request!

Want to know how many times Matthew Owen begs the Supervisors to pay attention to him? Request!

Currently on Next Request, FOIA a.k.a. Public Information request all-stars include good ol’ Kent Sawatsky, and of course Jen Kalt’s request on behalf of Humboldt Baykeeper pertaining to Royal Gold Soil. Which, as you’ll remember, was a part of yet another attempt by Baykeeper to extort the County and a local business.

Humboldt Baykeeper seeks to ruin yet another local business in appeal to Supervisors; predatory legal action to follow?

Keep your eyes open for one of THC’s very own requests being published soon. (Albeit way, way later than the statute of limitations requires the County to furnish the records – but hey, we know they’re a bunch of slackers over there. This just gives us time for a few more Mike’s before we dig into the goods.)

Happy sleuthing, gum shoes.

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“County is more impacted by pot than potholes”; local resident calls out Supervisors for chumming up to pot

We’re just going to leave this here…

“I voted against a road repair tax because Humboldt County is more impacted by pot than potholes.

The current Board of Supervisors is too dismissive of the majority of county residents who don’t grow or profit from pot or believe this is an appropriate industry and just want their neighborhoods and communities back.

Noel Krahforst, Willow Creek”

Kudos to whoever Noel Krahforst is for his astute insight. We’ll buy you a lemonade or three should we ever meet you, Noel.

Originally from the T-S.

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Sunday Surprise! Fire Chiefs want more of your tax money, dismiss financial responsibility

Surprise! The Humboldt County Fire Chiefs Association wants more of your tax money.

This time, specifically, they’re targeting $2.2 million in Measure Z funds:

  • “The Humboldt County Fire Chiefs’ Association is seeking almost $2.2 million (the second-largest single request this year) to purchase equipment for the county’s various rural and volunteer fire departments; continue covering dispatch fees; and address a mismatch between fire district boundaries and the actual locations where firefighters regularly respond to emergencies.”  (from LoCO)

Never mind, of course, that they also received $2.2 million in Measure Z funds for the exact same shit in the previous fiscal year: FY 2016 Measure Z Allocations

Leave it to the Fire Departments to treat Measure Z like a guaranteed funding source rather than something to support essential emergency services. Shouldn’t be a surprise, though, as they’re always more than happy to treat our pockets like bank accounts rather than looking to their own operational inefficiencies.

Of course, as always, THC would like to point out that there are several really frickin’ easy ways to cut overhead costs for the Fire Departments that would allow them to pay for extra clothes, new toys, etc. – and the most obvious would be to cut down staffing and pension costs.

As MOLA once put it, more Chiefs than Indians is a bad policy for all involved, but particularly for the tax payer who keeps coughing up more money while Fire Departments continuously warn us about their inability to provide the same levels of service.

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Arcata Fire Board vacancy the result of a guilty conscience

Back on March 7th, the Arcata Fire Protection District issued a press release advertising an upcoming vacancy on their Board of Directors.

You’ll be familiar with the AFD’s Board of Directors as the folks who are responsible for handing the AFD’s employees one of the most generous contracts around, and by extension those responsible for the fiscally unsustainable operation in place over at AFD. Read More:

Here’s a link to the AFD’s press release: AFD Board Vacancy

Who, do you ask, is moving own from the Board?

None other than Steven Tyler!

We got excited for a second, too. Wrong Steven though.

Not to toot our own horns too strongly, but….Notice how Steven Tyler decided to resign from his position just a few days after THC starter really laying the hammer down on the AFD’s irresponsible spending and the downright disgusting way they are content to fritter away more and more of the public’s tax money?

We’re sure that Mr. Tyler’s service was invaluable, and leave it at that.

But we’ll also say that, generally, rats start running once you expose them to light. Here’s to hoping that the remaining members of the board also have run-ins with their conscience, and either vacate their seats or start working to right the ship.

Lastly, here’s a link to the application for the vacant spot: AFD Board Application

Sadly, THC’s lone District 3 resident moved away just a few weeks ago, so we can’t throw into the ring.

Seriously, if you’re in District 3, and are as pissed off about the way Fire Districts are appropriating more and more of the public’s money via veiled threats over potential declines in service – then get your butt out and apply!

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Former Asshole of the Year Sundberg steps up to Coastal Commission; “humbled” by opportunity to screw entire State

Humboldt’s very own Stupidvisor Ryan Sundberg has been appointed to the Coastal Commission by Governor Jerry Brown, as related by this lovely LoCO article: Sundberg Appointed to California Coastal Commission

Sundberg responded to the appointment by saying “he’s “humbled” by his appointment to the Coastal Commission,” and “I’m just happy that they called and asked me to serve,” he said. “I look forward to the opportunity.”

Sheesh…as if Sundberg’s shitty decision making on Humboldt County matters wasn’t enough, now all of California gets to benefit from this P.O.S.’s self-interest and over-inflated ego.

But wait, it gets even better. When asked about his priorities on the Commission by LoCO, he responded with this: ““I’d like to see some ways to streamline [the review and approval process] so projects don’t take so long.””

Ha! What a jokester! He almost had us there for a second, too. Then, you know, we pulled our heads out of our asses and thought about Sundberg’s looong and well-established history in Humboldt County of doing precisely the opposite for would-be developments.

Or maybe he’s talking specifically about the Trinidad Rancheria’s plans to build more stuff? He’s never failed to give what the Tribe wants primacy over all other concerns – so of course he’s excited about pushing their developments at the state level.

Don’t be fooled by Sundberg’s comments to LoCO – rest assured that similar acts of trolling are one of the reasons he was voted Humboldt’s Biggest Asshole back in 2015, and nearly repeated for 2016. Remember that?

BREAKING: Russian hacking, HAF behind Cleary’s sudden win in THC Biggest Asshole Competition

Sundberg sweeps early 2016 Awards: Builder, Biggest Asshole!

Our sincere apologies for the sheer idiocy that will be visited on the rest of the California resulting from Sundberg’s appointment.

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How your fire safety services are screwing you!

Yet another interesting read that exposes how badly fire districts and Public Sector Unions are taking the average taxpayer to the cleaners:

California Fire Districts are Morphing Into Retirement Plans

This particular article details how East Contra Costa Fire District is currently spending $1.30 on contributions to pension plans for every $1.00 they pay out in salary. ECCFD may well be the most egregious in California in terms of pension contribution debt ratio, but as we noted in our piece yesterday about the San Ramon Fire District’s wildly inflated salaries, ECCFD are far from the worst off overall.

Of course, Fire Districts across California refuse to let go of the lucrative retirement deals they’ve secured for themselves – to the detriment of the rest of the state – and will constantly be looking for ways to reduce the contributions that they and their firefighters must make to their own retirements. In Costra Conta, two tax measures have failed in the past decade aimed at doing just that.

Here in Humboldt County, we had AFD’s failed measure from the most recent election cycle:

!UPDATE! THC WINS!! Arcata Fire District Ripoff heading towards doom!

Shucks, the firefighters of East Costra Conta are so desperate to continue funding the ludicrously massive payouts they will receive in retirement that they have even targeted money normally allocated to schools to be requisitioned for their own uses. That’s right – the fire district is now trying to steal from school children after they couldn’t convince the public to agree to higher taxes. From the article:

As the East Bay Times recently reported, ECCFD have prevailed upon the Oakley City Council to endorse an increase the district’s allocation [of the 15 ad valorem tax paid by property owners], which is now 7.5%.  Other area officials are less supportive. Six school superintendents have written their own letter opposing the change. Each dollar of new revenue for ECCFD under a reallocation would reduce the amount of tax revenue available to the school districts, cities and other special districts within ECCFD’s area:  it is truly a zero-sum game.”

As salaries continue to climb, and as the drain on the AFPD’s resources continue to get depleted by retirees, what do you think that they will come after in our own community? Money for schools? Money for other essential services that the big egos in the fire house determine are less important than their own services?

We’ll have to see.

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Why demanding sensible pension reform for public safety employees doesn’t make you a bad person

THC hears over and over again from people who seem to absolutely hate us because we demand sensible reform in public sector pensions, particularly for public safety employees.

We’d offer this excerpt to perhaps clear something up for them:

“One final note: “Attacking” levels of compensation that are financially unsustainable and unfair to taxpayers does NOT translate into an attack on the profession of firefighting or firefighters as individuals. No reasonable person fails to respect firefighters for the work they do and the risks they take. But if and when the market takes another dive, and even before that, Mr. Mohan and his colleagues are invited to think about proposals that are not merely inspirational for everyone, but practical.

They might begin by recognizing how California’s legislature has enacted policies which make this the highest cost-of-living state in the U.S. They might use their considerable political clout do help us do something about that – for everyone’s sake.”

Of course, Fire Districts using their clout to help “be the hero” for California’s economic well-being isn’t part of their job description – and up to this point, at least, not a part of their modus operandi.

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Humboldt County getting a deal on expensive fire services? Not by a long shot

A story regarding the mammoth salaries collected by fire fighters in San Ramon, CA, is making the rounds, and for good reason. The story that any public employee is being compensated to the level of $400,000k+ is jaw-dropping. Here’s the story:

Outcry over firefighters making up to $400,000

Now, yes, San Ramon is getting screwed way harder by their Fire District than anywhere in Humboldt is. (That’s relative, though, as the highest paid fire employee in Humboldt is still taking in over $200,000 as of 2015).

Unfortunately, the  fact that San Ramon’s fire fighters are approaching half a million dollars in annual compensation shouldn’t serve as a balm to our own afflictions with salary and pensions – it should serve as a dire warning of what could come to our own door step if our local governments and we tax payers don’t buckle down and put a stop to the out-of-control, and constantly rising, compensation provided to our own safety personnel. We give you the THC Guarantee that our fire districts are hungry for more, and are constantly looking for new ways to finagle more money out of our pockets.

However, if the impending labor contract negotiations with Humboldt Bay Fire are any indication, we need to heed the warning provided by San Ramon’s experience and we need to take heed quickly. We probably don’t have to remind how eager Austin Allison of the City Council of Eureka is to open the doors for the Fire Districts to pillage the City of Eureka’s already depleted coffers. You can refresh yourself on that here:

New Council Member Allison pledges to screw City of Eureka over, give fire fighters even more lucrative contracts

Hopefully, the City of Eureka will be brave enough to stand up to the Fire District before they, too, become a national headline of ridicule. (They do enough of that already.)

We’d also like to redirect you to our post from last week, which broke down the MOU for AFPD. We’ll go more in depth on HBF’s MOU soon enough, but suffice it to say that there’s not a ton of difference between the two. Check it:

The inner workings of Arcata Fire Protection District’s lucrative MOU, or, How You’re Getting Screwed

We thought there was some confusion about just how many hours are being worked by fire fighters under that MOU, so let’s simplify: fire fighters work 192 hours over a 24 day period, which works out to eight separate 24 hour shifts. Factor in that they’re sleeping, say, an average of 8 hours per shift, well…that means they’re only able to actually work for 128 hours every 2 1/2 weeks. That’s 128 hours out of every 576 hour shift cycle.

Not including the times when they’re eating, exercising, or polishing their hoses.

Additionally, dig this tidbit a friendly and knowledgeable THC commenter dropped on our MOU post which clarified how firefighters get paid overtime:

“As a past payroll clerk for a fire department, let me clarify the requirement for paid overtime. It is mandated in the Fair Labor Standards Act that firefighters be paid 1.5 times their regular rate of pay for any hours worked over 56 in a week. Departments can choose the length of work period ranging from 7 days to 28 days, but still have to pay for hours in excess of 56/week, This is from memory, so the days might be slightly different. Most departments have a provision to include equivilant pay for time worked in excess of 56 hours per week, as a regular part of their pay. Keep in mind that a firefighter normally works 3-4 24 hour shifts per week. That is 72-96 hours per week. Divide their normal salary by the hours and you will see that their hourly equivelant is not that high. Our department had a difficult time affording the overtime payments that are required by federal law. So don’t blame the employees, nor the agency. They are only doing what they have to do, and it is very lucrative for the firefighters. I am not saying it is right, but it is the law.”   P.S. Thanks, Old Timer!

Mandated by law it may be, but paying over time beyond 56 hours worked consistently is totally, totally f***ing us over, ladies and gents. Particularly if most fire fighters, as Old Timer says, are working 72-96 hours a week.

 

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“What is the average pension of a retired government worker in California?”

The simple answer to that question is: one hell of a lot.

A slightly more informative answer would be: more than double the amount available to a retiring high-wage earner through social security, and over $15,000 more than the average, currently working private sector employee in California.

A really, really specific, detailed, and nuanced answer can be found here:

“What is the Average Pension of a Retired Government Worker in California?”

From the article:

“…the average public employee retiree with 30 years of service collects a pension (not including benefits) that is 26% greater than the average pay and benefits for a non-retired full time private sector worker, and more than twice the maximum Social Security benefit.”

What are those numbers, exactly? Your average “full career” public employee in California has a pension that brings in $68,673 annually, while an average full-time worker in California’s private sector brings in $54,326 in pay and benefits, while the maximum social security benefit to a high-wage earner retiring at 66 is $32,244.

What’s wrong with this picture? Where to begin…

Well, we suggest you begin by reading the article linked above. It is by far the most comprehensive study into the inequalities presented by the public benefits system. The study is long, and detailed, but we cannot stress enough how well it paints the picture of the bullsh*t that Public Sector Unions have pulled over on the rest of California.

Here are some of the juicy, non-numbers stuff from the article for those of you who are disinclined to do all of your assigned reading:

“For example, CalPERS on their “Myths vs. Facts” page states “The average CalPERS pension is about $31,500 per year.” This is a profoundly misleading statement…But that average [of $31,500] was for all retirees regardless of if they retired before benefits were enhanced, and regardless of how many years they worked…it can be seen that a more accurate average, based on 30 years work and retirement after 2000, is more than twice what CalPERS claims, $71,402. It should go without saying that if someone does not work a “full career,” they should not expect the amount of their pension to be based on a full career of service.

Several additional points should be made. We assume that 30 years is a “full-career,” but why? After all, a typical American worker who enrolls in Social Security can expect to work well over 40 years, from, say, age 26 through age 65, before they are eligible for the full Social Security benefit. And to put these pensions in perspective, the maximum Social Security benefit for someone retiring on their 66th birthday is $32,244. As shown on Table 1-B, across all 23 pension systems that we analyzed, the average pension for a retiree with 30 years of service is $68,673, more than twice as much.”

And finally, our favorite:

“Much of the discussion surrounding pensions has focused on their financial sustainability. While this is a question of vital importance, too often overlooked is the moral question of whether pensions are simply too generous when compared to government retirement programs for private sector workers, regardless of their affordability. There is a compelling case to be made that if the government is going to offer citizens programs like Social Security, or pensions for government workers, then perhaps all citizens should have the opportunity to select from the same set of benefit formulas and incentives.”

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