I went to the Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center (MCHC) Board of Directors meeting last Thursday, March 17. A belated Happy St. Patrick's Day to you all.
The MCHC Board meeting started promptly at 9 a.m. With a prayer from Reverend Dan Fowler, a board member (others present included MCHC Board President Gary Johnson, Secretary Kathleen Cameron, Treasurer Jerry Thomas, and Dr. Michael Brown – a psychiatrist). A Public Comment session was next on the agenda. Lifelong Fort Bragg resident Jay Rosenquist asked for a clarification as to the total number of MCHC Board members, then requested she be considered to fill any vacancy.
At that point an audible “harumph,” emanated from those present, though it would be difficult to pinpoint its precise source. Since I was looking more or less in the direction of Johnson and Board Secretary Cameron, I can attest that it was neither of them.
It is just that sort of dismissive harumphing attitude which has kept the MCHC in the public eye long after moving into their headquarters at 191 N. Franklin Street in Fort Bragg (the Old Coast Hotel).
Next up in Public Comment was yours truly. I prefaced my remarks by noting that approximately a week earlier, I had been forwarded a series of emails in which the original email author stated, “What year or years was Malcomb (sic)on the Hospitality Board? I am sure I saw his name somewhere on a Board list or maybe the tax return.” Followed by, “I thought for sure i saw somewhere that he was on the board at one time. How did he get a copy of the bylaws? I am sure somewhere i saw it. Maybe it was another Board.” Then, “Maybe it was just the Finance Committee he was on.” And one more, “I see Malcolm MacDonald (sic) on the Mendocino County Mental Health Board in this link.”
I only got through about one and a half of the quotes before being drowned out by much laughter from the actual MCHC Board members. Just in case there is a random AVA reader without a sense of humor, let me make it crystal clear. This writer, Malcolm Macdonald, is not a member of any board in this county, or any other, unless one counts the regular contributors to the AVA who, of course, meet in secret cabals at undisclosed pot farms to sacrifice goat cheese, grill and consume baby seal steaks, and pledge everlasting fealty to the ghosts of Alexander Cockburn and Johannes Gutenberg.
All seriousness aside, I suggested to the MCHC Board of Directors that they might want to re-visit their overly faith-based bylaws (see my piece in the March 9th edition of the AVA which says in part, Article I, Section 1 of the Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center bylaws is headed, Qualifications for Directors, with the following language, “Directors of the Board of Directors will adhere to these by-laws in personal life and behavior. Failure to do so and/or immoral, unethical sinful, illegal or shameful behavior or activities shall be just cause for dismissal by the remainder of the Board.”).
At the March 17th meeting I went on to say that while the letter of the law under both the Brown Act and the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act (see the same March 9th article for details) allow most non-profit 501(c) 3 organizations to conduct board of directors business outside of public view, given the current state of public scrutiny in Fort Bragg, not to mention public money spent to acquire the Old Coast Hotel site, MCHC would be doing itself a favor if it opened its board meetings to the general public.
Ms. Rosenquist added that the supposedly rejuvenated MCHC website contained no references concerning the day and time of the monthly MCHC board meetings. Both of us members of the public listened to a presentation from Professor Dan Jenkins of Mendocino College aimed at involving MCHC clientele in college courses, then we were politely asked to leave while the MCHC board and its executive director, Anna Shaw, considered the remainder of the items on the agenda (an agenda that included “Financial Reports,” but one that also had not made it to the MCHC website).
Not quite so summarily, Board President Gary Johnson slowed our exit to make clear that an item oft repeated publicly, a rumor concerning Todd Harris, one of the most public representatives of Ortner Management Group (OMG) needed clarification. Mr. Johnson made it abundantly clear to all present that the perception that Ortner's Todd Harris packs three different guns is entirely incorrect. The Todd Harris with a permit for three guns is another Todd Harris. Of course, that hasn't stopped some people from latching onto the partial truth that if any ol' Todd Harris owns guns that's a fine and dandy reason to impugn Ortner Management Group and by extension its subcontractor, MCHC.
Thus, the drums of social warfare in Fort Bragg beat on. One way for the Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center to quiet those drums is to become so thoroughly transparent that even the most far fetched of critics can see the whole truth.