The Auditor-Controller is a jerk, and the Supervisors want his money

This lovely nugget about the operations of the  County of Humboldt came to light last week: our Auditor-Controller, Joe Mellett, is an apathetic waste of public funds, and the Board of Supervisors and County Administrative Office are trying to strip his department of any significant role in government.

This came after Mellet’s second in command, Karen Paz Dominguez, showed up for public comment at last week’s Board of Supervisors meeting and made a plea for help on behalf of the failing department.

LoCO has a more in-depth look at the issue here:

What’s Wrong at the Auditor-Controller’s Office? Understaffing? A Vendetta? Or Is It the Man in Charge?

What it comes down to is this: Mellett is no longer interested in his job, and acts like a total P.O.S. The interview he gave to LoCO is damning, and we’re honestly flabbergasted that he would go on record with much of what he said.

We love this absolute gem of a quote from our Auditor-Controller about his current approach to his job: ” Putting out fires and collecting a paycheck.”

But the bigger question, putting aside the incompetence and lack of interest displayed by our publicly elected Auditor-Controller, is this: would giving the duties of the Auditor-Controller to the CAO, or any other department, actually fix the problem?

As we all know, neither the CAO’s office nor our Board of Supervisors are particularly effective or financially competent.

So is Mellett’s charge that attempts to undermine his authority and the duties of his department are an attempted power grab by the Supes and the CAO accurate? THC tends to think so.

There was already one attempt to get rid of his office last year, when the Supes sent a measure to consolidate his department with the Treasurer-Tax Collector. (For  more on that: County Supervisors seek to create a new Finance Dictator at great cost to the public) Word on the street is that the County will try to send  similar measure to the vote in the near future, and are actively exploring methods to strip the Auditor-Controller of his powers without putting it to the public first.

Taken together, it  sure seems like Mellett’s allegations are founded. Streamlining departments for efficiency and reduced costs is all well and good.

But here’s the issue. You don’t fix the problem created by one elected official by doing away with the entire department – you elect a new person to do the job. Why would consolidating the powers of the Auditor-Controller department under the umbrella of equally dysfunctional leadership do anything but exacerbate the problem?

From the sound of it, Karen Paz Dominguez is angling herself to be the next Auditor-Controller. We at least hope that somebody gets a chance to turn the department around before the Supes or the CAO get their grubby hands on even more power and responsibility that they will most surely screw up.

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Humboldt Baykeeper continues proud tradition of predatory lawsuits, defaming organizations

Wouldn’t you know it, Humboldt Baykeeper settled yet another lawsuit with a local business/agency which resulted in a hefty payout for themselves and their lawyers.

Long story short, Baykeeper saw an opportunity to make some quick cash and alleged that the Humboldt Bay Waste Management Authority was polluting the bay via storm-water runoff from the Hawthorne Trasfer Station. This was immediately after the state body in charge of water pollution oversight, the Water Quality Control Board, had given HWMA the all clear following an inspection.

Now, for successfully convincing HWMA to pay them off to shut them up, Baykeeper has HWMA bent over and greased up for the net few years – Baykeeper gets to make inspections now, too.

It’s part of an unsettling but obvious trend – even the Times-Standard picked up on it:

“This latest settlement comes after Humboldt Baykeeper entered into similar agreements this year with California Redwood Company and the Arcata-based soil company Royal Gold LLC.”

It’s not just Humboldt Baykeeper’s persistent meddling with environmentally compliant businesses that’s irking, either – it’s that they’re used as a puppet by law groups like Aqua Terris Aeris, who make a living by preying on businesses that don’t have the money or the time to fight legal accusations, and end up settling for less crippling amounts. ATA Law Group, for example, raked in $127,000 for intimidating HWMA into a settlement.

THC has also covered some of Baykeeper’s good works before:

Environmental group sues private business; Humboldt County Planning and Building to blame?

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

Deputy County Counsel cancels secret marijuana ordinance meeting following public backlash

If only we’d thought up something brilliant, like a three-assed turkey, so we could have included Jen Kalt in our list of people we’re thankful for. There’s always next year, of course.

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THC’s Two-assed Turkey Awards: Lisa Rossbacher and John Ford

Happy T-Day, THC-heads, and welcome back for another edition of our lovely  Turkey Award.

THC’s Turkey Award Winners can take pride in their ability to look like humans on the outside, but to actually be as smart and competent as turkeys on the inside.

In a major departure from previous years, we’ve decided that two figures are turkey enough to warrant a joint award. Also different from previous years, 2017’s recipients are not worthy of being the head of a turkey – so we’ve come up with a creative new method.

We present to you THC’s 2017 Two-Assed Turkey Award:

Lisa Rossbacher is the President of Humboldt State University. You might have heard about her. Ms. Rossbacher gets special turkey-ass recognition for her expertise in gutting the HSU football program due to “severe lack of funding”. (P.s. did you know that Lisa Rossbacher’s salary and benefits for one year are just shy of the $500,000 needed annually to save the football program?) More on the financial mess at HSU this weekend.

Our second, and equally turkey-ass-ish, recipient, is John Ford of the Humboldt County Planning Department. John proudly proclaimed that Humboldt County would totally take care of the fiasco surrounding cannabis permitting by the end of this year – and that’s so laughably far from the truth that we can’t even make a better joke about it. How many permits have been issued? How many more people has the County hired, or contracted with, in order to process permits? How effective have all the fees taken from people who still don’t have permits been in combating illegal grows and environmental destruction?

Congrats, you turkeys, and may the public pardon you for turkey ways. Enjoy getting fatter with your salaries and pensions, and we hope you don’t end up on the platter again next year.

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Union pressures push Bill Gillespie out as Humboldt Bay Fire Chief?

Bill Gillespie is out as Humboldt Bay Fire Chief, and everyone wants to know why. Was it a conspiracy? Has he suddenly gotten scared of fire? Did he get tired of Kim Bergel’s farts? Is he just looking forward to collecting his pension on chilling on the lake?

As reported on every almost every local news outlet, (including, but not limited, to the Times-Standard, LoCO, John Chiv, News Channel 3, etc.), Gillespie abruptly resigned following a closed session of the Joint Powers Authority group which oversees Humboldt Bay Fire.

Now, rumors are a-swirlin’ about the single reason he left, and we think there a few plausible options to choose from.We love a good conspiracy, but tend to think that the explanation is a little more simple in this case.

The one unifying factor from all the rumors that we’ve heard are this: the pro-Union JPA was pressured to oust Gillespie as a result of his push back against union members within Humboldt Bay Fire. This is all the more plausible when you consider that the joint power authority contains folks like Austin Allison, who openly stated his preference to negotiate a contract beneficial to fire fighters.

Gillespie has publicly butted heads with Union President Matt McFarland, on several occasions over the last year, such as when he contradicted the union’s claim that HBF’s swim rescue program was being discontinued due to lack of funding. Gillespie loudly pointed the blame for the program’s demise at a lack of willing firefighters. Gillespie also earned the ire of McFarland and the Union when he reprimanded none other than Matt McFarland for insisting on wearing a Black Lives Matter pin on his uniform.

Aside from our general aversion to the amount of compensation received by public employees, we’re of the opinion that Gillespie is a great guy, all around. To put that in perspective, when was the last time you heard THC say anyone was a great person?

We’re hoping that it wasn’t the pressure of pro-union JPA board members that forced Gillespie out , even if it sure seems that way. No, we hope that Gillespie said “F*** you, I quit” when faced with such blabbering bullshit coming from people that are supposed to be concerning themselves with public safety, and not the politics of a few firefighters.


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Planning Commissioner Shepherd gets pissy over conflict of interest allegations, “excellent” price on cannabis property

The recent McKinleyville Municipal Advisory Committee meeting saw a heated exchange between Planning Commissioner and McMAC member Ben Shepherd and a community member after conflict of interest allegations were lobbed at Shepherd.

None other than would-be Supervisor Sungnome Madrone was on hand to personally level the accusation of a conflict of interest at Shepherd.

Centering around Shepherd’s sale of a property that was permitted for cannabis farming, the Madrone’s accusation alleges that Shepherd benefited financially from a cannabis ordinance that he helped create as a Planning Commissioner. According to folks at the McMAC meeting, Madrone did indeed lodge a complaint with the FPPC, who should be looking into Shepherd’s activities in the near future.

Shepherd, in the fashion we’ve come to expect from many of Humboldt’s politicians, kept things professional – meaning that he threw a hissy fit and tried to walk out of a meeting still in session. If only Madrone had given everyone a heads up, we would have showed up with some popcorn.

Even Shepherd’s colleagues on the McMAC board were surprised at how childish Shepherd’s reaction was, considering that Shepherd not only tried to walk out of the meeting without following proper procedures, but also tried to silence Madrone speaking on a different topic. Which is a big no-no, and kind of fascist, if you ask us.

To be fair, Shepherd called out Madrone for attempting to raise his profile for his upcoming Supervisorial bid, which will pit him against Ryan Sundberg, the person who appointed close friend Shepherd to the Planning Commission in the first place. Come to think of it, we have seen a lot more of Madrone at public meetings over the last few months.

But the heart of the problem is this – does Shepherd actually have a conflict of interest relating to the sale of his cannabis-permitted property? From a logical standpoint, heck yeah he does!

From a legal standpoint, however, he’s probably in the clear. As we all know, logic and legality don’t always mesh.

The real conflict of interest, in THC’s opinion, stems from the fact that Shepherd serves on both the Humboldt County Planning Commission and the McMAC. His participation on issues at the McMAC, which he also often hears about,

So, Sugnome, if you’re out there – an FPPC complaint should focus on that issue, rather than Shepherd taking advantage of a lucrative cannabis property opportunity that affects all property equally.

If you’re interested in more about the actual sale of Shepherd’s property, check out this bit of THC goodness from over a year ago. (We’re expecting a “thank you” sixer of Mike’s Hard from Madrone for providing him the talking points.)

(UPDATED with Sales Price) Ben Shepherd: Planning Commission crook makes massive profit from cannabis ordinance he created


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Texas sheriff, 63, struck and killed by car; why this wouldn’t have happened in California

It will never happen because, by age 63, California sheriff’s will be retired and spending all of their time relaxing at the lake.

Heck, imagining that a sheriff in CA would work past 50 or 55 is a bit of a stretch.

Somebody should tell those Texas sheriffs that they got a raw deal – it’s easier to ride on the dole in California.

RIP to the trooper in question, and thank you for your service.

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2018 Supervisor Election Preview: Airhead vs. Pothead, Gnome vs. Native

Now that 2017’s exhilarating election is behind us, we can look forward to a couple of races that will have a real impact on the County’s future.

And THC is taking you straight to the top of the ticket, with two races for Supervisors seats that could well shift the balance of power in Humboldt County.

At least, there’s potential for the outcome of these races to up-end the status quo, but whoever gets elected, don’t count on Humboldt suddenly becoming an efficient utopia that actually focuses on the needs of its citizens.

We’d need a more self-aware, intelligent, and gracious leader for that – maybe someone like Trump, for example.

Anyhow, here’s an overview of what the races will look like (so far):

4th District – The Pothead vs. The Airhead

In one corner, we’ve got upstart politician and cannabis crusader, Dani Burkhart. Word is she is strong on pot, high on pot, and relatively undecided on just about any other issue. In her defense, it’s like, pretty hard these days to find the motivation to make up your mind about anything.

In a statement, she says she’ll bring a “holistic” approach to the job, which is weird because we’ve never heard of that strain before. Her schtick sounds great, but in our opinion, she’s un-electable due to her ties to the cannabis industry. There are too many folks who aren’t down with that in the 4th District for it to work. But we also said Bass is un-electable last time around, so who knows.

In the other corner…err, more precisely,sort of opposite from Burkhart (Virginia couldn’t find the corner, bless her heart), we’ve got resident airhead/incumbent, Virginia Bass.

Seeking her third term, Bass is running on the same platform we hear from every candidate – jobs! Homeless! Housing! Of course, between the amount of time she spends either at conferences or on vacation in Hawaii, Bass hasn’t really done much in any of those areas of concern. (Even the Betty Chinn hobo container thing was Rex Bohn’s doing.)

But on second thought, her time away might be a good thing – the less time she spends here f***ing things up, the better off we probably are.

*As an added bonus, we also understand that Mary Ann Lyons, a former organizer for the local Obama campaign, intends to run. We don’t know much about her except for her involvement in successful campaigns for people we don’t agree with – Austin Allison and Allen McCloskey – but she sure knows what she’s doing. If she runs, we think it goes her way. We’ll update you as things develop with her.

5th District – The Native vs. The Gnome

Humboldt’s Native son, Ryan Sundberg:

Here’s a nice piece in Humboldt magazine, which details how Sundberg rode his way to office on the coattails of his family and with the sway of the rancheria behind him:

Amazingly, Sundberg has a business degree. Even more amazing, though, is how quick he is to tout his experience at the rancheria bringing jobs to Humboldt, when he’s done nothing of the sort after 7-ish years as a Supervisor. Go ahead and congratulate yourself, Ryan.

Lastly, let’s not forget Steve “The Gnome” Madrone, either. He’s super smart, is into most things watershed, and he’s got a groovy vibe. Check it:

In the Mad River Union, Madrone touted his experience pulling various weeds in ditches, and then planting those weeds in a different ditch, as the kind of problem-solving he’d bring to the table as a Supervisor.

Yes, seriously. Read a copy posted on LoCO:

Who is Sungnome Madrone? Candidate for Fifth District Supervisor Outlines His Platform, Experience

Now, if you’ve been paying attention to our brief guide, you’ll have noticed one similarity between all candidates – they all tout their ability to bring jobs to Humboldt County. Of course, not a single one of these folks can point to any experience in actually accomplishing that goal, nor have they demonstrated any capability to when given the chance. That includes both Bass and Sundberg, despite what their campaigns may tell you. 

But there’s another underlying similarity that ties them all together – none of them are qualified in the slightest. Between the four, we’ve got a cannabis consultant, a watershed expert, a former food server, and an insurance broker/casino lackey. Yay?

But, backgrounds aside, we don’t see the qualifications to tackle the issues we need solved. Long story short, it doesn’t matter what side you’re rooting for here. In the long run, you lose.

Though we hesitate to support any of them, we give a slight edge to the challengers – at least they haven’t proved to be totally inept panderers that are only interested in securing their pensions and paychecks.

Then again, we might eat our words. In any case, we can all look forward being thoroughly disappointed come the end of 2018.

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THC POLL: Who’s the biggest lush on the Board of Supervisors?

For all their faults, some of Humboldt’s Supervisor’s like to party. And we can’t fault them for that. Besides, drunkenness is pretty much the only way we can explain most of the boneheaded decisions they make.

But we’ve caught wind over the last year or two about a particular Supervisor who just happens to like the sauce a wee bit too much apparently.

We’ll set the scene for you: a gathering of many  County Supervisors from around the state, who all get together for some dinner and a drinks after a long day of meetings (presumably about doing things to benefit their area, wish our Supervisors took those lessons to heart.) One Supervisor, from Humboldt County, goes a little over board and ends up causing quite the scene – we’re talking crying, yelling, spilling the beans on personal problems, etc. – in front of their peers. And apparently, this lewd behavior was not just a one time thing.

When we first heard this, we brushed it off as an exaggeration. Plus, as devout Hard Lemonade enthusiasts, we also felt a little protective of a Supervisor’s right to throw one or two back.

Alas, in this day and age, even THC has to watch how much we imbibe, and that’s just because mom keeps getting mad at us for peeing in the corner of the basement.

So can you imagine just how wildly inappropriate and embarrassing it is for an elected official to go over the top and cause a scene in front of their peers? We’re talking about embarrassing for our county, by the way, as  the Supervisor in question clearly has gotten over their hangups about being a drunken mess.

And, yeah, this is really more of a THC Pop Quiz than it is a Poll, because there is a correct answer here. But we’re curious just how widespread the reputation of our resident wino-Supervisor exactly is.

So, without further ado, please tell us:

Who’s the biggest lush on the Board of Supervisors?

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Harbor District tabs Larry Oetker as next Executive Director

According to THC’s usually reliable network of informants, we are hearing that Larry Oetker, formerly the Director of Community Development, is set to become the next Executive Director of Humboldt’s Harbor District.

THC thinks this is actually a kick-ass move, and that it will hopefully help the Harbor District move away from it’s shady and financially disastrous past few years.

Though we are shocked to say this, Arcata has shown that is is head and shoulders above every other local jurisdiction when it comes to sensible governance and the ability to balance attracting business and ensuring environmental protection.

Oetker was instrumental in a lot of Arcata’s works, and we’ve got high hopes for him at the Harbor District. Now, if only he can wrest control away from the nincompoops and swindlers that act as Commissioners, our harbor might show signs of life.

Oetker will fill the role of former Executive Director Jack Crider, who’s tenure at the Harbor District was an absolute nightmare.

Read more about that here:

Crider makes sweet escape as Harbor District spirals the drain towards bankruptcy

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Wait, there was an election yesterday? Post-election round up: taxes bad, cannabis is king, CR still screwed

Shit, we slept right through yesterdays election, Humboldt! That’s because we always vote absentee, but even so…we almost completely forgot about it!

And it’s okay if you did too.

A quick round-up:

  • Cannabis rules everything around us, including Rio Dell now.
  • The good people of Blue Lake don’t like taxes, especially for b.s. fire chief salaries
  • College of the Redwoods has two new Board members. We look forward to absolutely nothing positive or of substance happening for the school.

What really piqued our interest about the College of the Redwoods board election was one of the incumbents’ claims that “outside interests” conspired to hand his opponent, Dan Kelley, the win on election night. While that sounds scary –  like we touched on yesterday – are we seriously to believe that Humboldt’s rampant corruption trickled down into CR’s election race simply because there was nowhere else for it to go? We suppose that Robert Mueller won’t be bringing the hammer down on CR’s election scandal any time soon, but the real question is – why was there such a (relative) uproar over school board seats?

Apparently, according to the bastion of neutral, non-partisan thought which is the Lost Coast Outpost, liberals celebrated the wins of newcomers Kelley and Bonnie Deister, and good for them.

But again…what are we cheering for here? Moral victories? Getting to tell snobby conservatives to suck it because liberals totally run CR now? Or is this the final piece in the puzzle that allows liberals to brainwash Humboldt’s young adults with the liberal agenda?

As for Rio Dell and Blue Lake, it seems that the only inevitable thing in Humboldt County nowadays is pot and taxes. So, THC extends our hearty congratulations to Blue Lake for staving off the inexorable march of fire taxes. Huzzah!

Rio Dell was not so lucky, but hey, now they can also hang their hopes and dreams on a cannabis tax revenue that will likely never materialize at the expected levels. Welcome to the party Rio Dell, you and the County of Humboldt will get along great.

Now that we’ve got all that out of the way, we can finally focus on next year’s big election, which most importantly (for Humboldt) features two Supervisorial showdowns.

THC has our first round of coverage on those races coming up this weekend, in a piece tentatively titled “Gnomes and Natives, Potheads vs. Airheads.”

Stay tuned!

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