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Letters (Sep. 18, 2019)

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I always enjoy your knowledge of local North Coast people and history, and of your mentioning of Vern Piver's time in the big leagues is no exception.

Vern was aptly called the unofficial mayor of Fort Bragg for good reason: he was the quintessential pull yourself up by your bootstraps-North Coaster. I have known able bodied adults not capable of hacking one summer as a timber faller and Vern spent over four decades setting chokers and falling trees. As a teenager I would be in awe as Vern would fix my chainsaw and tell stories of rubbing elbows with Clemente, and then to see him officiating as a geriatric basketbal Referee the following Friday. 

As far as local ballplayers go, don't forget about Fort Bragg's very own John DeSilva of Airport Road. In the 1990's he did enjoy some MLB success as well as some league minimum pay days.

Please don't retire anytime soon so I can continue my reading of the AVA and New Yorker from cover to cover every Sunday morning.


Josh Thompson


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I am 65 years old. I have been criticized many times for not wanting to attend memorials. There seems to be more and more of them. When my good friend Steve Mize died it was no different. I couldn’t get it together to go to his memorial. However, I do think about the ones that pass, especially when everyday life is affected. I looked at my accounting records and figured Steve was at my house at least 19 times for septic, logging, roads or a sore back. Steve and I started a project with the Defer family from Mendo and David Pronsolino. Steve then died. When Steve was alive I said one day, “what do I do if you die”. He said, “what do I do if my back hurts and you die.” He then said, “Just call Troy”. When I asked Pronsolino ,he said “just all Troy. “ Well, I called Troy and we continued the project today. Did I ever really believe someone could be as talented aa Steve Mize on a machine? Actually, yes I did. After Michael Jordan, came Kobe, and after that came LaBron. Of course the talent would follow. Did I ever think I would have as much fun working with someone as I did with Steve. No I did not. Thank you Troy Bloyd for proving me wrong. The talent, the fun, it continues. That you Steve. Thank you Troy. 

Jim Young


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I am not opposed to the SMART train in concept. What I am opposed to are the cost overruns above the original cost that was presented to the voters. These costs were either not anticipated, the result of incompetent planning or presented at a lower amount to sell it to the public, a misrepresentation.

SMART claims 1.4 million riders in two years. At five days a week, or 525 days in the two years of service, that means that 2,615 trips were taken per day. Assuming that the people who went one way came back, only 1,325 people benefitted from the train, while everyone pays for it.

SMART only generates between 12% and 22% of operating revenue and will never pay for itself. SMART needs to demonstrate in the next few years that it is being fiscally responsible, *then* ask for an extension of the sales tax.

This rush to extend the sales tax without such accountability would give the SMART board no incentive to do a better job.

Frank Treanor


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Letter to the Editor

Visioning the Future of Cannabis in Mendocino County

In 2016, with the passage of Proposition 64 by voters, cannabis became legal to grow and for adult recreational use in the State of California. While this new law ended California”s prohibition of cannabis and freed millions of people from the taint of criminal convictions, it also sent a shock wave through the cannabis industry in Mendocino County which had always thrived in the illegal black market.

This newly created multi-billion dollar legal cannabis market immediately attracted the attention of venture capitalists who are always on the lurk for lucrative investment opportunities. They have swooped down on our three rural Northern California counties — Mendocino, Humboldt and Trinity — collectively known as the “Emerald Triangle”, where world class cannabis has been grown for years.

The Emerald Triangle”s reputation for growing premier quality cannabis began over four decades ago when counterculture back-to-the-landers started migrating into the area in the 1970s and 1980s from the Bay Area to get away from the urban rat race. As the Emerald Triangle”s legend grew, so did the amount of cannabis dollars flowing into the region until cannabis supplanted the declining timber industry as the main driver of our north coast economy.

Legalization of cannabis in California has brought multiple layers of regulation at every level of state, county and municipal government, which has created an impenetrable barrier for these small “legacy” farmers who built the cannabis industry, to gain a foothold in the legal marketplace.

For its part, the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors has shown no inclination to support legacy cannabis farmers when drafting the County”s cannabis cultivation regulations. Instead they have crafted regulations that are so cumbersome, convoluted and confusing that only large corporate growers can comply. In fact, less than 300 permits have actually been issued by the County and most small farmers remain in the black market.

The latest proposed regulation by the Board of Supervisors would establish ten “Enterprise Zones (EZ)” around the County where 10 acre industrial size grows would be permitted and all requisite permits would be held by a few mega rich corporate owners. In effect, these large cannabis plantations would shift Mendocino County”s workforce from self employed farmers over to low wage farm workers.

It doesn”t have to happen this way. It is possible for small cannabis farmers in Mendocino County to compete in the statewide legal cannabis market without selling out our local culture to giant corporations. But small farmers cannot compete in this legal market alone: no matter how efficiently they farm, or how shrewdly they conduct business, or how hard they work, they will be squeezed in the vice of high production costs and low sales prices.

In order to survive legalization, small cannabis farmers (that is 10,000 square feet or under) in Mendocino County will have to change their business model from the individual farmer doing everything from sewing seeds to marketing products, to many small farmers working together in cooperative arrangements where there can be task specialization and shared production costs.

While the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors cannot establish cannabis cooperatives on its own, it can provide a regulatory framework that makes it easy for individual small farmers to join together into large scale vertically integrated co-ops that will be able to compete against large corporations on the statewide cannabis market. Such a framework must also be structured so that no proprietorship, partnership or corporation can hold more than one cannabis cultivation permit in Mendocino County. This will insure that no out of County corporate players can take over the industry.

Ultimately, there are two competing visions for the future of cannabis in Mendocino County. One is to have a few corporate mega grows clustered together in “Enterprise Zones” located in unspecified areas around the County, and the other is to preserve our local cultural heritage of small cannabis farmers who have been the backbone of our resilient communities going on three generations.

In choosing a cooperative business model, Mendocino County has the opportunity to create a localized cannabis economy that is an industry wide leader on the world stage.

Jon Spitz


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My name is Gabriel James Schoonmaker and this is for my mother Gwen McCluskey.

I know you've had a rough time raising this crazy and wild boy of yours and you didn't have much help in it. When I was growing up the only influence I looked for was negative influence. But mom, you did a hell of a job and even though I have acquired three prison terms and two local prison terms here in Mendocino County in the last 19 years, I know you tried your best and for that I will always love you. You have never let me down (too bad — smiling). You put money on my books, packages in the mail and letters in the wind for me. I will always love you. You've never called the cops on me. You have never denied me visits and you always accepted my girlfriends right or wrong or indifferent. And for that I will always love you.

I have two beautiful girls out there, Zoe Anne Shoonmaker who is 17 and absolutely one of the best things I've managed to bring into this world and Macie Jean Schoonmaker who’s four years old and the other best thing I've managed to bring into the world. Those girls wouldn't be who they are if they didn't have you in their lives, mom. I will always love you. Don't ever think you didn't do enough for me or those girls because somehow you continue to give us your unwavering love no matter what. And for that we will always love you.

Loving you still and always your son,

Gabriel ‘Gooby Doo’ Schoonmaker



PS. People might remember my mother and father “Bobo” McCluskey. We lived north of Willits in Acorn Park back in 92-96. Ray “Buck” Buckley and Jainie. The AVA did a story on us when the task force was hasassing us a lot.

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Several weeks ago, my husband and I went to dinner at a fairly pricey restaurant. We sat on the patio, as the weather was nice. Once we were seated, however, we found that the woman at the table next to us had brought her corgi along. Then another couple came out with their dog and was seated close by. At that, the corgi lunged at the other dog, barking wildly and straining at the leash. The dog was dragged back to the table, but the ambiance was destroyed.

It used to be that dogs entered public spaces for legitimate reasons, as in the case of Canine Companions. But now it seems to be the trend to take one’s dog anywhere — grocery stores, movie theaters, airplanes, big box stores. Some people will protest that their dog is needed for “emotional support”; on the other hand, some people are allergic to or fearful of dogs. Who wins here? I know we won’t go back to that restaurant.

I hear many owners refer to their dogs as their babies. But please, especially if you’re going to a restaurant, do what many people with real babies do: Get a sitter.

Holly Pierce

Santa Rosa

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I know Gavin Newsom is targeting me because of my use of the freedom of the number one amendment. That's okay. I know that because I have said some things about him and Jerry Brown that are very true so they have pulled some stuff on me about not being able to register my trucks and stuff like that. 

Anybody in that administration who gets whacked by somebody like an illegal alien deserves everything they get for making California a sanctuary state. They have put everyone in danger. 

Now President Trump has to come in with the federal government to clean up your homeless mess in California, Gruesome Newsom. Wouldn't it be ironic if you came home some night and there was an illegal felon in your bedroom with a butcher knife? Like what happened to that lady down in San Jose? There are movements going on to get you out of office, you sorry bastard. I think you and Nancy Pelosi and that CARB loving hag Mary Nichols ought to be drug through every homeless camp in California and see how you like it. Meantime while you are driving to those homeless camps you are paying $4.50 in gas! 

God bless Donald Trump. 

Jerry Philbrick 


PS. It was a real smart move to make everybody do a background check to buy bullets. That's about a third grade idea. Some of the gun dealers don't know what to do when someone comes in for a box of 22s and the customer has to do a background check and wait 10 days. Unbelievable. What’s next? Are you going to ban silverware? You have to wear a certain kind of shoes? Uniforms? 

PPS. A month ago they sent an expedtion to the Arctic to prove that there’s climate change. They are still iced in! Don’t know when they’ll get out! So you see what a bunch of happy horseshit it is about climate change? 

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Dear Editor,

Thanks to D. Bullock (AVA 9.11.19) who caught my Ding-a-Ling error which I realized too late to correct. Chuck Berry was the singer-songwriter, not Little Richard. I mixed up those two icons at the roots of rock n roll.

Going to the context of the times, Berry established his influence in the late '50s with "Rock & Roll Music," "Roll Over Beethoven," Maybellene," all with defiance, the “duck walk” and catchy lyrics: "It's gotta be rock n roll music, if you wanna dance with me." His youth-based influence spread to the Beatles and Rolling Stones who sang Berry's songs when they ushered in the '60s “British invasion.”

It was much later, 1972, that Ding-a-ling hit #1, made popular as an odd participatory ditty, sung as a round with his youthful audience taking turns spoofing puritan morals regarding sex. 

The '60s were exploratory, not inhibitory, as the '50s had been.

D. Bulloch calls Ding-a-ling “insipid,” meaning “lacking savor or flavor, uninteresting, dull” (Webster's). But actually the song was flavorful, refreshing and fun to the entire audience which was engaged in singing this kooky song about playing with ding-a-lings, including your own. "It's ok, no one's going to bother you," Berry admonished. It was all in good clean fun; he was there to honor, not admonish, you for your sexuality, a natural part of life after all.

Masturbation is a touchy subject, unmentioned in polite society or in a “family newspaper” as the AVA Editor put it, defending his censorship when I called him on it. Former Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders found this out the hard way when she mentioned "studying masturbation" as a part of safe sex. She was unceremoniously called on her cell phone and fired by Pres Bill Clinton who'd appointed her, thus undoing the best thing he ever did.

The First Amendment is our permit for speech, association, art/music, expression, statements of belief. Nothing is barred. Censorship is contradictory. If you don't like it, don't look.

Pebbles Trippet



  1. izzy September 19, 2019

    Well, the “Future(s)” of Mendo Pot will likely be showing up in contracts on the CBOT soon.

    The chief bugaboo with the entire legalization mess is the problem of keeping black market valuations when the risk of illegality is removed. The hardy weed is in a squeeze. With enough confusing and onerous rules & regulations, almost anything can be made expensive, which works well for the government and the large players, but crushes the little guy. We’re moving on to the corporate model. The only ‘free market’ left is yard sales. Drugs are big business, too lucrative to leave unregulated.

    • Louis Bedrock September 19, 2019

      “Drugs are big business, too lucrative to leave unregulated.”

      Not like when you or I were in the “business”, right Izzy?

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