Letters (April 24, 2019)

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REMEMBERING JENNIFER WOLFMAN

Editor: 

Thanks to you and Marco Maclean for your kind words about Jennifer Wolfman. I was meaning to contact the AVA about her passing and so am glad you picked up this news, sad though it is.   

Yes, her bookstore was wonderful and she was one of the most literate and erudite people I ever met, but completely lacking in any pretension or snobbery. I met Jennifer in 1996 when I was in law school in San Francisco and came up to deal with my long lost half-brother who had gotten into some trouble with the law on the Mendocino Coast. Prior to that time I worked in the commercial fisheries in Alaska since the early 80s. After graduating I moved to Ukiah where I got a job with the public defender, but moved in with Jennifer in Fort Bragg after she and her husband split up, with a crash pad over the hill where I stayed during the work week.   

Since 2003 I have been working in Lake County in a similar position.  Before this tragedy occured I read an article somewhere that stated that 40% of the deaths of people under medical care have as a material cause medical error, a factoid I dismissed as exaggerated. Sadly, however, Jennifer’s death was principally caused by that. She was a healthy, strong and vigorous woman- a cross country skier and regular yoga practitioner-who went in for what was billed as a routine operation and had a stroke the day after she got out and died two weeks later.   

Why? because she had atrial fibrillation (“Afib”), an irregular heartbeat that causes blood clotting. But nonetheless, her local treating physician insisted she submit to surgery to remove an early stage tumor from her colon even though he knew full well that she had Afib for which he had prescribed her blood thinners which had to be discontinued for this surgery which-like any surgery-increases the clotting behavior of blood. But at no time was there any due diligence regarding her risks of undergoing this procedure and what her prognosis would have been had she not undergone or postponed the surgery. Consequently, complaints have been filed with the Medical Board of California against this doctor and the surgeon who runs a surgical mill in the city, the narrative portion of which as regards the latter (slightly redacted for legal reasons) is enclosed [for the print edition] which sums up what happened.   

Please feel free to publish it as a cautionary tale if you wish.  

A couple days ago I received a call someone at the California Pacific Medical Center that sums up the bumbling incompetence that contributed to Jennifer’s death when I was asked how she was doing recovering from her surgery! I regret that I lost my composure and rudely hung up on this person.  

Thanks so much,

Tom Quinn

Fort Bragg

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IN PRISON ON NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER

Editor,

Believe! Wow, I sure thought this nightmare would have ended by now. However, as with a long chapter in a book, my quest for justice continues. I continue to make the best of what I have and concede I attribute these days to God’s humbling me. I guess I needed more humility than I first thought? Your paper keeps me in touch with a place I still call home. Thank you for your diligence in printing the truth. When I do get out I will contribute to those less fortunate than I am at present. There is still a lot going on in my case and my appeal to find justice goes on. I continue to trust God has everything under control. I wish you and yours well and again look forward to the day we can enjoy a cold brew and a hearty meal together. I have seen so much, a lot of which I can't write about due to censoring of my mail — until the day I am free.

Sincerely, your friend,

Kenny Rogers

San Quentin

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B NEEDS A PARADIGM SHIFT

Open Letter to fellow members of the Measure B Committee:

I would like to thank you for serving our county on the Measure B Committee. We are all on a team that is like none other in California. We have been given an enormous task by the voters to look into the future and advise the Board of Supervisors on spending the tax dollars which have been given a very specific purpose. We will be overseeing the expenditure of almost $40,000,000 in the next 5 years. 

We will soon approach our one and a half year benchmark, yet our accomplishments have been limited. I do not have any doubt that all eleven of us have a sincere concern and goal of improving the hundreds of lives that mental health has victimized. Our rural county is now in a position that no other county in the State has experienced. We are in the position of having the financial resources to start the process of improving the overall foundation of Mental Health Services but for some reason, I believe we are stymied. 

The question of putting the cart before the horse exists and is on everyone’s mind during our meetings. The question of who has the authority to start discussions with property owners exists and we must have this question answered. The Board of Supervisors is waiting direction for our committee to make decisions, and we apparently have had members approach the Board of Supervisors for direction. The paradigm must be changed. We, the Measure B Committee, must be willing to make very strong decisions and vigorously encourage the Board of Supervisors to follow our direction. The voters were very direct in supporting Measure B, with the caveat that our committee oversee the expenditures. If we make strong recommendations based on fact and fiscal responsibility, it is my belief that the majority of the Board of Supervisors will support our plan. 

Let us not allow others to do our hard work, and let us not accept the responsibility of doing other committees' and boards' duties. We can not shirk our mission and we only weaken other committees and boards' responsiblities by spending our precious time with academic questions relating to things that are not on our list of duties. 

I am pleading with our committee to make some strong and uncomfortable decisions:

Should we spend time and money on the old Howard Hospital building? 

Should we fully fund the Orchard Street Project?

What can we do on the Coast to improve services? 

Let’s cooperate in the name of improving the quality of lives in our county, and at the same time, assist in reducing Public Safety’s massive time involvement with so many mental health contacts. Let’s work with our hospitals and reduce bed space currently allocated to long term mental health cases. If you have ever wondered if you can make a difference in Mendocino County, I assure you that now is your time. Let’s strive to make a positive difference that in the future will allow the mission and purpose of Measure B to be recognized and appreciated. 

Very simply, in the words of George W. Romney, “If not us, then who? If not now, then when?" 

Thank you for your service; your dedication is sincerely appreciated. 

Tom Allman, Mendocino County Sheriff

Ukiah

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FRANCE DECLARES WAR

Dear Mr. Editor,

I send my respects to Tai Abreu. As it stands DA Eyster has declared war on you and SB 1437 which by the Constitution and power of the people was voted into law. So Eyster is at war with the Constitution. He's using the only thin thread he can find, a ruling in Orange County by some fat drunk judge who was a prosecutor prior to being a judge in the most corrupt sleazy county in California.

Mendocino is pretty sleazy as well. Soon the appeals court may have to open a whole new district just to deal with Mendocino County. “Publius Flavius Vegitius Renatus.” (If you want peace prepare for war.) So I hope you are prepared and have been hitting the legal specs hard because this is your whole life at stake my friend.

I have spent about 10 years on level 4 main lines and learned fast that you are your own best attorney. That advice always stuck with me. Best of luck to you Tai. You did your time. Come home!

Now to comment on the recent letter by Jon Spitz titled "Prosecutorial Misconduct." Thank you for your service, sir. You have no idea how hard it is to actually find intelligent individuals on the jury pool. I was not surprised at all about your experience with Mr. Eyster, and I must say your assessment is more spot on than you realize. But I fear you are beating a dead horse. No one will put Eyster in his place, nor hold him accountable.

The man manufactured evidence in my case and attempted to forge my signature, had officers commit perjury and withheld evidence. He is still withholding evidence. I have completely analyzed him. He is of low character, has no integrity nor self-esteem, he is unprofessional and a lying scumbag who blames everyone else for his BS. Don't worry, I will strip him of his license upon conclusion of my case.

Mr. Spitz, our justice system is broken and it is falling apart. It never worked to begin with; it is flawed and destined to fail. Part of the sickness in our local system is the prosecutors, judges and public defenders (most, but not all) who have long since reached professional boundaries that maintain walls to protect individual objectivity. No doubt at this moment Eyster and a judge are having coffee together and both are in complete denial. Your public defender and Eyster play golf on the weekend and discuss trading defendants out like playing cards.

Oh, sorry, Mr. Eyster. I didn't hear your response. I lose complete interest when people make excuses or ramble on uselessly. Mr. Spitz, everyone understands your point clearly. 

[Ed intervention: What follows is a creative, and prolonged skein of insults aimed at the DA, the gist of which is that Mr. France condemns Eyster to eternal execration and infamy.] 

It is obvious Mr. Spitz that you believe the same as I, that a prosecutor should conduct himself honorably, professionally, should be forthright, honest and stay above the belt. Instead we have a man who browbeats jurors, badgers witnesses, manipulates judges, lies endlessly without shame, violates defendants constitutional rights, withholds evidence, manufactures evidence, commits perjury in lieu of witnesses (blatantly), prosecutes ridiculous cases, does dirty low tricks in court, and takes advantage of handicapped people (Mr. Jimmy Norton).  

In short the District Attorney is … He knowingly prosecutes/bullies innocent men/women and stops at nothing to win no matter what he has to do to accomplish this. This fact is apparent by his conduct that he is a disgrace to the judicial system and the foundational principles the system was originally built upon. If anything he prosecuted was "just," then the evidence would speak for itself, period.  

As always, my respects extended to our editor and Mr. McEwen. I enjoy the weekly issue here. I sheath my sword and rest my case.  

Regards,

The one and only Michael France

PS. My love out there to my kids who visit every week; I love the support.

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AN OPEN LETTER TO DR. ROBERT MARBUT

Dear Dr. Marbut:

I'm writing about your 2018 Homeless Needs Assessment Report for Mendocino County. Part of the report's intent was to categorize homeless types, in order to prioritize allocation of limited resources to serve the needs of the homeless more effectively. I appreciate that intent. Unfortunately, it seems your report has also contributed to polarizing and inflaming public sentiment against the homeless in general.  

Our local newspaper has twice recently reported a 25% spike in police calls regarding the homeless since last year. This, however, indicates an increase not so much in homeless numbers or behaviors but in the public's readiness to call the police about them. The reality is that criminal cases are significantly down since long before the recent spike in calls, for police cases of robbery (down 62% since 2016), assaults (down 21%), and property crimes (down 28%) - this should be treated as the real news!  

Some calls for police help are of course essential (and in my experience generally very well handled by police), but unnecessary calls just increase police workload. This increase in calling seems to indicate an atmosphere of fear and hostility toward "outsiders" that mirrors (and feeds) a similar recent nationwide trend.  

The same newspaper printed a front-page article quoting draft language from the County that included the term "criminal behavior" in attempting to delineate the "traveler" division of homeless-an inaccurate, heartless, and unhelpful base assumption. However you feel about the media (and although that wording has since been deleted), this kind of coverage strongly influences public attitudes; and Marbut-report interpretations are still contributing to those attitudes even now.  

This letter is an appeal to human decency and compassion. When history turns toward hate, it results in ugly consequences for all involved. But we don't have to choose that path!  

Plowshares' mission statement tells us to treat every person with respect and dignity. Our Community Dining Room offers a free hot meal and other assistance to all who are hungry or in need, homeless or not. The Plowshares staff recognizes most of the homeless here as longtime local residents-almost all are part of this community, not just traveling strangers. Some have mental health and other challenges that government services may never be able to fully address; some may never be able to benefit from a "hand up." But these people need extra attention and support, not blame and scorn. Even if the homeless include some "travelers," not all of those are in the category of "trimmigrants" (who have jobs and don't need services). In cultures throughout the world, hospitality is considered a sacred duty to strangers even if-especially if-they're in distress.  

Whatever causes a person's homelessness, we all need good food and safe shelter. Plowshares' work to feed the hungry may be "only a bandaid" but (in the words of late homeless advocate Judy Judd) bandaids are good! We don't throw them out just because we have emergency rooms.  

Dr. Marbut, I hope that you will consider writing an addendum to your report, or perhaps just a letter to the editor, reminding all of us about sensitivity and caution in judgment - even compassion and generosity of spirit - toward our fellow humans, homeless and otherwise. I am hoping that community attitudes can begin to shift away from fear and hostility and toward helping Plowshares help those most in need of our empathy and assistance. 

Thank you.

Mary Buckley

Interim Executive Director

Plowshares Peace and Justice Center

Ukiah

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HOSPITAL SELLS HIS DATA; HIS CONGRESSMAN IS UNAVAILABLE

To the Editor:

I am writing this letter to express my concerns about a serious problem that has developed with the ‘Veterans Choice Program’.

Preface: VA hospitals have never sold or marketed the personal medical information of US veterans. I believe the ‘Veterans Choice Program’ was created with the best of intentions to help the rural veteran have better access to the best in medical care.

However, I have discovered that it’s common for civilian hospitals to increase their profits by ‘legally’ selling and/or marketing the personal information of their patients to commercial buyers. This is achieved by having the patients sign away their ‘HIPAA’ rights as part of the process of signing into the hospital. Now that the Choice Program has brought our veterans to civilian hospitals, the personal information of US military veterans is being marketed to commercial buyers.

This has created problems that span from the inconvenience and loss of privacy for the individual veteran, to and including possible breaches to national security. The Choice Program and local hospitals have created a direct, and to date ‘un-monitored’, connection between US Government and ‘Military information and document centers’, to these same commercial buyers. It’s very likely that these commercial information buyers sell what they purchase to the highest bidders, whoever they are.

My own experience: Recently I needed to have some blood tests done before I could start a new medication. The VA gave me the option of visiting the local hospital in Willits. In less than 48 hours after the hospital took my blood, I was receiving phone calls from medical product retailers who knew my full name and address, my phone numbers, daytime and cell, and the nature of the tests I had done. They also knew the results of the tests before the VA or I did. I found this disturbing.

To be fair, since my first communication with the local Willits hospital about my concerns with info sales, they proposed an ‘Opt-Out’ option…BUT, as of the time of this letter, a.) The request to ‘Opt-Out” has to be done on-line…(there was no public computer kiosk in the lobby for this purpose), b.) The Opt-Out request takes five days to activate…(no same day benefit), c.) The corporate office of the local hospitals reserves the right to market the Veterans private information anyway…..?

This is a door of ‘commercial’ access to Military documents that never should have been opened. I’m all for keeping the Choice Program in place and have it help our Vets get the best health care they can. To me the question is, will the hospitals take the lead and voluntarily find an effective way to separate the vets (and their families) from the hospital’s commercial information sales?

The Choice Program’s contract is coming up for review and renewal soon. As usual, funding is the big question. This would be a good opportunity to put in place the changes necessary to protect the privacy of our vets and to plug this commercial marketing hole as soon as possible.

P.S. I contacted my local Congressman, Jared Huffman, 9 months ago and his Mendocino County Rep, Sheba Brown, told me that she would not be forwarding my concerns to Congressman Huffman because of their complexity…? I also asked Congressional Rep, Brown if arrangements could be made for me to speak with the Congressman over the phone for five minutes. She said she would see what she could do. I have yet to hear back from her.

Marc Parsley

Willits

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MENDO SECESSION

Editor,

I would love to see Mendocino County become its own state, get away from California and have our own government so that we could still get federal aid. Anyone who wants to come up here from the south would have to pay a toll. It might seem impossible but then it might be very possible with enough votes.  

We could get people out of the woodwork like conservationists. Get someone to go house to house on horseback or on a motorcycle or by four wheeler just to make sure people are registered to vote. I know President Trump would love it. And other states would follow.  

I will not say anything bad about the Democrats who got in president Trump’s way the whole time he's been in office. I won't say anything bad about the filthy liberals trying to change the United States into a socialist program.  

Did you know they found a new bird in the swamps outside of Sacramento? It's got a long neck, long legs, and when it talks it sounds like somebody is gargling. They call it a Newsom. So if you see a Newsom flying over your head, go ahead and shoot it with your shotgun. 

Thank god Donald Trump is president. He will be the next president, too.  

God bless Donald Trump.  

Jerry Philbrick  

Comptche  

PS. CalFire, under the authority of Governor Gruesome Newsom, is going to every house in the county to make sure their homes are not too close to brush or timber. If they are, they cancel their homeowner’s insurance until they move away or do something about it. It has already happened to two or three people in Fort Bragg. Calfire is running wild with this idea because they are trying to impress Gruesome Newsom. So, get ready for someone to come to your house and if you have any brush or tall grass around they will find out who your insurance company is and if you do not comply you will be up Schittz Creek without a paddle. Another dictatorship move among many.  

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