Its long forgotten now, but prior to the start of fiscal year 1847 there were no postage stamps in use in the United States of America. Before July 1, 1847, the receiver of mail paid the postage. In the late 1800s, here on the ranch, letters to my grandfather were simply addressed: John Macdonald, Albion, Cal. No need for street numbers, let alone zip codes. For forty years, starting in the late 1880s, the mail arrived here via the railroad.
My mother grew up, in part, at Sunny Slope, about seven miles eastward along the south fork of the Albion River. In 1929, after the mill in Albion had closed, mail and groceries were still being delivered along the rail line by a man named Al Barnes, who drove a pickup truck, sans rubber tires, up and down the railroad. Most mornings, little seven-year-old Margaret Fay (later Macdonald) hitched a ride with Al Barnes as far as the Smith Ranch. From there it was a short walk to the Keene Summit School (population: 5 ½ students).
Communications have improved vastly since postage stamps first came into effect. I'm writing this on a computer that will erase any and all mistakes only a few decades after my college papers had to be painstakingly typed, guarding against single typos that could ruin a page full of work. Yet there is something woefully backward about our true level of communication as of the beginning of fiscal year 2015-2016. In mid June I witnessed a Mendocino County Mental Health Board meeting that ran four and three-quarter hours with essentially nothing being accomplished. Not only that, within the first quarter hour of the meeting those present learned that the Board's secretary has been ordered by her superiors not to print comments made by the public into the permanent minutes. The superiors would be Mendocino County Health and Human Services agency Director Stacey Cryer or County Mental Health Director Tom Pinizzotto. Best bet for the one who gave the order to omt public comments: Cryer.
Pinizzotto earned odd looks when he told the Mental Health Board that the county had been awarded a SB (Senate Bill) 82 Wellness Grant to the tune of $500,000, but that he was going to turn the grant down within the week. Supervisor John McCowen let Pinizzotto know that he thought it “outrageous” Pinizzotto would do such a thing without allowing the Board to review it first. Whether McCowen meant the Mental Health Board or the Board of Supervisors seemed almost irrelevant after the tone in which he uttered the word “outrageous.”
The most obvious question about the SB Wellness Grant: Why would you apply for the grant if you were going to turn around and turn the same grant down if awarded said grant? If one puts "request for SB 82 Grant" into a search engine and add Mendocino County, the resulting names that pop up are: Stacey Cryer and Tom Pinizzotto. Their two names are right there on a Board of Supervisors (BOS) agenda form for the March 17, 2015 BOS meeting requesting that Wellness Grant.
I thought the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. Perhaps the definition needs adaptation for the two folks running our county's Health and Human Services Agency.
When communications break down this much on professional sports teams, a manager, coach, or general manager gets fired. When the Mental Health Board meeting descended into the depths of Pinizzotto wanting the volunteer board members to rubber stamp the annual Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) plan for 2015-2016 without the MH Board members even having time to read the 83 page document, my mind went out the door, upstate to the Marble Mountains, which is where I'll be backpacking by the time you brave souls are reading this and trying to decipher who is crazier, the people trying to get mental health services in this county or the incompetents who are being paid to oversee and provide such services.