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Letters (June 19, 2019)

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I was talking to my mother on the phone tonight. She is trying a different church in her area after recently leaving a church she attended for ten years. Today she attended this new church for the second time, and I asked her how many people are in the congregation, to which she responded "Oh, I don't know." I gently asked her again and she said "How am I supposed to know?" 

A few Sundays ago she and I were talking on the phone about her favorite sports team, the Oakland A's, and I asked her what she thought the attendance would be the following day (Memorial Day) at the A's game at the Coliseum, to which she said, "Oh, I have no idea." Actually, she should have an idea what the attendance would be because she's been following the A's since about 2000 and should have been able to take an educated guess. 

My mother is 82, and she has absolutely no signs of dementia or Alzheimer's, she's sharp. Today when she wouldn't give me a number for the number of people in her congregation I told her that she was kind of coming across as "dumb", to which she took offense. 

Then after the phone call I speculated that perhaps for a woman of my mother's culture (Italian American) and era (born in the 1930's) and social class (she was raised working class), to appear adept with numbers might appear unseemly. Like numbers are a "man's thing" and if she appears too smart with numbers she never would have found a husband. 

For me, a male of WASP culture (my father's side is German and Anglo) and having done a few years at four year universities, if I were asked how many people were in the congregation at my church and I responded by saying "Oh, I don't know," I assume most people would assume I was a bit of an imbecile. 

In any case, I believe I will stop asking my mother seemingly innocuous questions involving numbers so as to both avoid being frustrated and risking offending her. 

Keith Bramstedt

San Anselmo

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To the Editor:

Well, I hate to be ‘negative’ but seriously, people — State Street racetrack is certainly not bicycle nor skateboard, much less dog- or chair- or pedestrian-‘friendly.’ (I’m glad, I must say, we’re figuring out which trees to plant…where?) Dare we mention emergency response? Gosh almighty, residents are already aware of increased traffic, speeders, lousy, inattentive drivers, side streets, alleys, parking lots— are all shortcuts. Already crammed. Congested. There are no shortcuts. We’re so busy…

And exactly how does our ‘streetscape’ help local businesses? (And thus ongoing Palace fantasy?)

I must ask:

Does anyone doing the ‘planning’ actually walk anywhere in Ukiah? (Besides to and from your vehicle?)

I have no payback nor payment for my info/opinion. I’m retired. I do love to walk as long as I am able. I also love/hate Ukiah. We have such talent, vision, gumption (that’s a Scottish word, I guess) and we squander our resources, our wisdom, and what really works. Rather than narrowing our major artery, prettifiying and creating yet more obstacles and distractions, how about enforcing a sane urban speed limit.

P.S. Challenging as it is and will be at the heart of the matter of safely traversing Ukiah’s byways (by any means) eliminating the ‘fast’ lane is genius. No passing. No u-turns. Excellent. Perhaps it will help steady and pacify the eager stream of traffic too, rather than further frustrate and clog each rather confusing intersection, no matter how gaily painted. Folks can accept a few extra moments in crossing town and appreciate a sound arrival and a safer community.

Let’s not clog courts either with lousy drivers but do have them watch awful real time footages, maybe change for the better, for a change. The diversity of the elementials (vehicles, direction, purpose, people) problematically proposes a creative, flexible, viable infrastructure. I feel we are yet band-aiding, albeit with really cute ones.

Amy Deese


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Isn't it nice to live under a one-party state, a filthy state to say the least. This is the worst time in the United States for filth and decayed infrastructure. It's a dictatorship, just like North Korea, Iran, Syria, China etc., rotten communistic programs forced on us like CARB air resource program which shouldn't even exist; it's the biggest scam in American history. CARB will throw people out of work, lose their livelihoods by taking away their trucks, and we up here are in a remote, pollution free area. We have a dictator now and we had one before him for the last eight years. Newsom is running wild. Votes don't count. He will do what he pleases and his rotten administration will follow. 

California people, and especially the conservative party, are screwed. There's nothing we can do about all this, is there? But when you piss people off enough anything can happen. The liberals lied, they cheated, they stole right under the Republican's noses who lost the election because of cheating. They showed just how corrupt they can be, that's the Democrats. 

When Newsom tells his administration to jump they ask how high? Political correctness, corruption, anti-Americanism, dictatorship. CARB. Giving our money away for free to illegal aliens who get medical care when thousands of California citizens can't afford it. My wife pays $1300 a month for health insurance. Nice going Gavin Newsom, you are on the right track for being the worst political figure in US history, not just California. I am making myself sick just talking about this and these people. If you want to do something about this man and his corruption just call 1-800-getridofnewsom. 

God bless Donald Trump. 

Jerry Philbrick 


PS. Gavin Newsom and Mary Nichols should get married, they are the same. He's a dictator and she is a dictatoress. They do good for each other. They are both hated by most Californians. Mary Nichols is one bad person. 

PPS. I hate politicians. Republicans or Democrats. They are crooked from start to end. President Trump is not a politician, he’s a businessman and American, as good an American as ever was. He's trying to get this country back on its feet and headed in the right direction and keep it away from socialism and liberalism and political correctness and trying to get America proud again. He has fixed the economy, he has fixed the military, he has fixed everything! In four more years he will make this country the way it should be. 

PPPS. I wonder how it would be if one of the convicts Jerry Brown let out of jail caught up with Mary Nichols who is in charge of the CARB that put so many people out of business? I wonder how Jerry Brown would feel if a convict dismembered her body by cutting off her hands and feet so she could fully realize how frustrated and hopeless people who she has put out of business are because of some law we can't do anything about. 

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Captain Fathom Looks Back


(Ed note: The Captain's wavering script made us guess at some the terms he used.) 

Tami-Diane and Raven and Captain Fathom arrived in Albion in 1970. Giants walked the earth in the form of the Albion and Comptche Shandels. The Albion Nation was sprouting multi-forms of cooperative and uncooperative living arrangements. Teachers, friends and fellow workers kept us alive except for the "Albion Gro" and Corners of the Mouth grocery stores.

The below mentioned have departed: Ray Barth and his typewriter shop. The great writers Roy [illegible, looks like Marungo], Chester Anderson, Paul Williams, Bobby Markels and Alexander Cockburn are gone. Thank heaven Bruce Anderson and Mark Scaramella at the AVA still survive.

Passed away are Kay Medley (former Queen of the Albion Gro) — the Uncommon Good (the UG), Hostile Dostal’s laundry in Mendocino. Alfonse (tobacco and music), Robert Colombi Sr (Colombi Market), Bill and Jerry Grader, Nat and Kathy Bingham, Jim Cummings, the Salmon Trawlers Market Association (STMA), Sabina, founder of the Lord's Land. Grandpa Webb and the Foursquare Church — thank you God for the above. We were blessed.

Our dear, but alas departed Barry Smith, a student of Bucky Fuller had invented the ply dome. Barry, Neal and assorted hippies constructed. Fathom came up with some cash for materials and expenses (beer and lunch), and lots of encouragement. Tami-Diane had all the construction skills in the world and fitted and made the plastic windows.

We did what we could — worked on an Alaskan mill with Ned. We cut slabs out of fallen redwoods for a handsome deck, the ply dome nested on the slabs. We had a great Ashley stove from our previous house in Mendocino. We were warm and Captain kept us in fish, abalone and firewood. The community of Bo’s Landing all showered at our communal sauna and ate together at the main house. The main house was the Albion primary school in the 1930s. A visiting friend, Red John, remarked, "We were making our own concentration camp.” However, we did survive. So it went.

Bo left and the remaining community took over the mortgage payments and the taxes.

It gets complicated now. Let's try a real short summary. After many moons Bo’s Landing has become Spring Grove. Court case. Our great lawyer from the free speech movement in Berkeley arrives, George Lydon. In an epic court case Ron, Nancy, Tami and me and the community win a large chunk of cash. Bo sells to Bill Shandel of Comptche. Shandel does a great job of selective logging and then sells the property to the Spring Grove community.

Let's rest Spring Grove and look at greater Albion in the 1970s. Albion had a real gas station and garage on Highway One. A World War II veteran and hippie admirer Walter was the manager. He was later followed by a real deal hippie Terry O'Flaherty (also now departed). A large grocery market with a coin operated laundry was next to the gas station. Sad to say the grocery and laundry burned down and the gas station closed, never to reopen. So it goes.

However, other enterprises flourished. Tim Skully operated and founded Aquarius Electronics, employed Bernie McDonald, Ed Stanley, Nancy Magic, Kay Rudin and many others. Tim also produced top of the line acid and got busted. He received a Ph.D. in prison. Voted "Man of the Year," and is still shining.

In Albion Village the “Gro” passed onto K's family. The Doug Hendrick clan slightly up the ridge. Frank Bakeridge and his prodigy son Eric rebuilt cars, fixed electronics and bred tiny Mexican dogs. A bit further up the road "Amigo" Joe fished and repaired motors and boats.

The Albion flats and fishing village were alive and quite active. The Grader Fish Company ran the major dock and another fish company from Noyo operated up the river. A fine gentleman, Sam White, managed the flats. Later Jerry the German and Blanche (all passed away).

My pals Dory Dan and Shadow and Paco, Nate Bingham, Larry Miller, Smiling Bob, "Bugs" Barlow, Mikal Riley, Nomad Bob, Eric, Rick, Charles, Doug, The Frenchman, the bookie, Diver John, Bear’s garage and countless others. We fished and frolicked in the 1970s and 80s and beyond. The Albion Nation’s prize star, youngest highliner and great diver Sam (Salmon), son of River, died on a vacation dive in Baja. A heavy blow!

Many have gone -- Billy Walsh, Paco, Rainbow. The Walsh boys. Willie and Wesley and Bill’s everloving wife, the artist Laura White still live and prosper at Spring Grove. Paco and our Linda's son Aaron Ford has become a superlative music man and is much in demand.

We miss other great ones that have passed. Judy Bari, Utah Phillips, Paul Tulley, Donald Sprinkling, Alan Toffer, Jim Noyes, Patterson Kelsey David Alba — let's cherish the living on — Bill Chase, Gary Moraga, Helen Jacobs and the Albion countrywomen. Dobie Dolphin, Pal Joey, our Linda — Table Mountain's founder, Walter Snieder, gone but alive in our hearts. Still breathing, the Saint — Brother Marshall, the past principal of the Whale School. Pam Able, the great Ishvi Aum, the great potter Leslie — solid son Willow. The living and vital Bill Heil and Queen of the Forest Linda Perkins. We will never forget our great neighbors the Elbers and the Ayres, The Albion uprising, Earth First, IWW, Sheriff Tony Craver and the victory over offshore drilling.

All recorded in the AVA, the Albion Nation's favorite weekly.

Alan ‘Captain Fathom’ Graham


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Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

I am the ghost of Ukiah’s future. Allow me to reminisce over the good times before the name Ukiah was removed from Google Earth, and the area was renamed Northern Uke.

I remember when we had a music store, and stores that sold cd’s and records. We had a bowling alley, and a boys and girls club, and concerts in the park. Boy, those were the good old days.

What a shame about what happened. What a shame that people were just not strong willed enough and lacked the vision to see what was ahead.

I remember how the decline started years ago. No one ever suspected that the rats that had built up in such huge numbers in the thousands in the Palace Hotel would all leave in search for food on the same weekend, that one warm month in May.

I remember all of the police in their hazmat suits going up and down State Street posting all of those red “infectious disease” signs on businesses. It was hard for people to understand why Ukiah now had a wall in between North Ukiah and South Ukiah.

Unfortunately, there was no choice. The hazard area needed to be contained, and there had to be a safe zone created for the healthy. The city had little choice to do this. It was just far too little far too late. Sure, some people felt bad about the homeless population being sealed off from the general public, but there was no choice at that point. Originally there were options and choices but the wrong ones kept being made, repeatedly. Things spiraled downhill rapidly.

The 3,000 person homeless encampment ran up and down both sides of State Street from Talmage to Perkins. Foolhardy property owners had let the homeless squatters stay on their properties, hence tying up the hands of the UPD so that they couldn’t do squat.

Street beggars had stopped all traffic from moving, so the UPD had no other option but to shut down all traffic mid town dividing Ukiah in half.

There were no more concerts in the park. The park shut down after 20 children became infected with HIV after stepping on tainted needles. I felt so badly for the kids, but no one seemed to understand how serious things were. The bleeding hearts and ambivalent politicians just refused to take the firm and appropriate actions to curtail and intervene.

The status quo was fine. No one wanted to make waves. No one wanted to accept their share of responsibility. Everyone blamed everyone else, as things got worse and worse.

Sure, there was a handful of Paul Reveres riding through town ringing a warning bell that no one heeded.

What a shame. What a loss. Needles were given out freely with the rumor of some restrictions, but in reality, there were never any restrictions. They were given out freely on an as needed basis, and the need was unlimited.

How people did not realize that that eventually there would be a holocaust from infected needles everywhere because they were thousands upon thousands of needles given out for free, wasn’t realized until it was much too late. The damage had been done.

Sure, there were many kind citizens doing what they thought was best at the time, but all should have seen the signs up ahead.

One donor donated 7,000 pair of socks to what used to be Plowshares. Plowshares was supposed to help provide free meals to those that could not afford to eat, but they ended up just a uncontrolled free-for-all and gave them all out within 6 months.

What went unrealized was that the socks were being worn once, and then used as toilet paper and then thrown in the woods or in the river. The banks of the river were laden with dirty clothes, junk taken from unlocked dumpsters, infected needles, and other garbage.Then, another kind hearted bleeding heart stepped forward, and funded $10,000 towards the cleanup of the filthy socks left in the woods, and rivers and streams. This pattern went on and on for years, until finally, all public drinking water became infected, and kids got sick and died by the dozens. The boys and girls club shut down due to so many deaths.

The citizens of Ukiah just didn’t get it. The politicians didn’t get it. Oh yes, some did, but there were too many sticks in the mud.

Sure, citizens were told to not hand out money to beggars. Sure, they were told to not duplicate services, but they just didn’t listen.

The homeless kept coming and coming because they were provided an existence that required nothing from them in return.

Why wouldn’t they come here? Free meals. Free clothing. Free shelter. Free needles. When Ukiah officials decided that free heroin and meth with free needles and free shooting up locations were good ideas and were approved, the bleeding hearts cheered. Many of those same bleeding hearts are now in the obituary column in the old UDJ archives online, since the paper shut down years ago.

It really didn’t have to happen this way. But Ukiah fell into the same “make no waves” trap that many large cities fell into.

Too many people died. There just were not enough doctors or nurses to care for all of the ill and dying. No one acted to figure out how to work on developing the proper housing needed to support a positive influx of professional help. There were no more doctors in Ukiah. There was just a handful of nurses. Indeed, there were not even any doctors in Santa Rosa, because Santa Rosa went down the same path before Ukiah did. The devastating California fires had destroyed thousands of homes, and the price of existing homes rose so high that no one could afford to move here.

What a shame about Ukiah. It had so much to offer. There were so many caring people. But inaction, complacency, lack of motivation, lack of will, and just plain stupidity led the way.

Some thought that the bad water was damaging brain cells in the general public. People cared more about having a bowling alley than in children possibly being infected by tainted loose needles.

Sure, attempts were made by some to help further the needs of the mentally ill, but efforts just continued to fall through the cracks. Finally, all efforts to truly help the mentally ill were shut down due to a disagreement between two powerful local politicians, who have since passed.

Even now, it is hard to believe that one of them went mad, although many suspected this before any diagnosis due to the insane policies that he helped put into place, and the other died from a meth lab explosion in the house next door. People questioned how could he not have known.

They were both buried in Grove Park Cemetery, which used to be called Todd Grove Park before it was repurposed and the name was changed.

When I look back, I remember that Ukiah was once voted the best small town in which to live with less than 15,000 people.

Now, it makes me wonder what the last 200-300 people left here in Northern Uke think about what happened.

It didn’t have to be this way. Ukiah was lacking. Lacking in vision. Lacking in guts. Lacking in will. I wish that I would have written an article long ago in the local paper to forewarn others, but it would have probably done little good. Ukiah seemed destined to stay on the ill-conceived path it was on, and not look at its future, just like other major cities in California.

Indeed, I am the ghost of Ukiah’s future. I died years ago. I died of exhaustion trying to illuminate the path, but people and politicians simply refused to see the light. The light now just flickers a little now and then from those that remember how it could have been.

It didn’t have to be this way.

Johnny Keyes


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County uses Measure B money to buy one ready-to-go hospital modular unit for the Psychiatric Health Facility (PHF) and works with Adventist Health to place it at the Ukiah or Willits hospital site. County or Contractor staffs the PHF. 

Prior to this, County rents a space and Contractor staffs a Crisis Residential Treatment Center (CRTC) with Day Program where people in early stage crisis can stay and receive support to stop a relapse and recover. This can also be used for people to step down from the PHF as they recover and are no longer in advanced stage crisis. County or Contractor hires Drivers who will transport people to and from these facilities. 

When the PHF is built, the modular unit can be used as a Crisis Stabilization Unit (CSU) alongside the PHF if one is needed, or can be used in Fort Bragg. 

Experience with this will likely show a need for a CRTC in Fort Bragg and on South Coast to help people in early stage crisis.

This gets people in crisis the support they need, offers good jobs for people, unloads the ERs, and removes most of the involvement of law enforcement who will rarely be needed. Working with Mendocino College to get 1 and 2 year Psych Tech Programs is important for training staff.

Sonya Nesch


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To The Editor:

As a follow up to Supervisor McCowen's red faced phone call to the AVA, it's important to pause and to note this latest display of bullying behavior by Supervisor McCowen. He named two women, Erica Cooperrider and Alicia Bales, who were never identified in print by the AVA, as being his possible paramours. Very embarrassing for these women. Very unprofessional for a public servant and county representative.

James Marmon posited an idea that Supervisor McCowen may not be running again. And, that McCowen may be readying the position to be available for himself after he is no longer a paid supervisor. Intention is nearly always implied by someone's behavior. Good or bad. So, what is Supervisor McCowen's plan in seeing the decision to downsize the Climate Action Committee budget overturned? The BOS vote was a clear 3-2. Yes, $7500 in the budget, instead of McCowen's proposed $110,000.

Mr. Scaramella, in your response, you mention Alicia Bales (she's no longer using her former CB radio name "Littletree") may be better suited for KZYX than CAAC with her thespian credentials. Did you read the blurb about her on the KZYX website?

Two things stand out in her reported successes while serving as president at the MEC (2017-2019): I quote the KZYX website: "Bales’ experience there both with fundraising and with coordinating volunteer programmers will help her substantially in her new role at KZYX."

As a former MEC board member and a KMEC programmer, I was purged by Bales because, to quote Bales, I "wasn't a good fit" despite 20+ years as a non-profit middle and senior manager who spent many the hour with board development, direct mail, supporting executive committees, special events and coordinating volunteers, including at Nashville Public Radio.

I sat in MEC board meetings where Bales passed a hat to pay for the light bill. Maybe $32 was raised. Hardly dynamic fundraising. In fact, it felt more like being pressured to bail out the MEC. The MEC is broke, there is no plan to fix it, the website provides no information on public documents/files, no published board agendas, no minutes all housed in property owned by Supervisor McCowen.

As far as "supporting volunteer programmers..." Bales looked the other way when Sid Cooperrider, the gatekeeper for the KMEC equipment and software, unilaterally removed my show, Heroes and Patriots, from the KMEC program schedule without board knowledge or board approval.

I wanted our program to air on KMEC. I asked that our program be reinstated. Bales said no.

In May 2019 , John Sakowicz and I, and a good soul named John Mayfield, became the smelling salts for those who might not be paying attention to the efforts of Alicia Bales and John McCowen to create and fund a fluffy, redundant, totally unnecessary county program that smacks of self interest -- that being, the CAAC.

You have to wonder what the three remaining all-female MEC board members must be thinking now after they and about 30 people stood behind Alicia Bales this past March to create the CAAC, a McCowen initiative. Bales sat there with her teenage son, Jude Bales as a prop to her formal presentation. Watch the video of the meeting. It's disturbing.

Now, Bales is gone after using the MEC to gather so-called credentials to gain her new position with KZYX.

After reading about Supervisor McCowen's profane and unprofessional phone call to the AVA, the remaining BOS members should call for his resignation.


Mary Massey


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In a recent edition of the AVA you stated that people believe what they need to believe. I’m inclined to agree with you. Question: Why do you need to believe that Mike Sweeney killed Judi Bari?

Kind regards,

Ralph Coon

Los Angeles

Ed reply: One word, Ralph: Evidence.

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