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Letters To The Editor


To the Editor

(I am writing this from 951 Low Gap Road, Ukiah, Cell C-18.)

My name is Gregg Fournier. My fiancé is Joni Liberty Speciale who I’ve been with for over eight years.

On June 19 we drove from Willits where we live. We recently purchased a 30-foot land yacht. Being late Friday we left for Boonville Saturday morning. I felt that would be safer.

When we arrived there was not many places to park a 30-footer.

I still needed to purchase our tickets. After walking for 20 minutes I made it to the ticket booth. I was told by a nice young woman I would need to purchase a three-day pass if I wanted camping. So I purchased a three-day pass. She left the window and went to a back room. Thirty seconds later she returned to tell me there’s no more camping spots left.

I then replied that that was not cool. I wasn’t there for Friday, which they got me to pay for. Then I asked for a refund so I could buy a two-day Saturday-Sunday pass, considering there’s no camping left.

She said with a smile, “There’s no refunds. I’m sorry.”

At this point I wasn’t happy. No camping pass in hand. I felt I was handed a “Raw Jah Deal.”

Nevertheless Joni and I received our wristbands at the band table.

Returning to the RV, I thought, Great — where can I park this 30-foot goliath? After driving back and forth I realized we would be walking 30 minutes to get back from either direction. Realizing this inconvenience, I began to think about going to the back gate. I met a nice kid there who allowed me entrance. I was able to find plenty of parking, enough for 30 RVs. I parked.

Two minutes later security on a cart pulled up. They stated, “You came through the back gate.” I explained my morning had not been fun. I was told, “If you leave we’ll two your RV.” I said, “I bought a three-day pass.” They told me I had been given a no-camping pass. I refused to leave and suggested they find someone to make the situation right. They replied, OK.”

Three minutes later a Mendocino County Deputy Sheriff showed up. I had a warrant out of Washington County in Oregon State for six grams of pot so I was off to jail. Joni was arrested as well for trespassing.

Again, we both had three day passes. Joni should not have been taken to her first time in jail or arrested at all.

I never enjoyed any music or food I paid for.

I must give thanks to the staff of the Sierra Nevada Music Festival for such an “irie” time.

Gregg Fournier

Mendocino County Jail



Dear friends -

The Grape & Wine Industry and a majority of Mendocino County Supervisors have declared war on the State's proposed regulation of Russian River water sprayed for frost protection. Stronger frost water regulations have been successfully in place in Napa County for over 20 years, yet many Russian River grape growers, major wineries and industry flacks, including the Farm Bureau, are going to battle to use as much of the Russian River as they wish, with no legal controls in place. Cong. Mike Thompson, as reported in the NY Times last week, is apparently at the front of this mayhem with his wine industry allies.

We believe that the proposed regulations are in the right direction and sorely needed, but are still too weak, and leave important loopholes in the state's obligations to protect ESA-listed threatened salmon and steelhead. Public comments were due on July 7, and there will be a hearing in Sacramento on this proposal on Sept. 20, 9am.

Will the Sonoma County Supervisors and SoCoWater Agency take a different stance to protect the Russian River, water supplies and salmon? Will SCWA assert the need to protect both its water rights (for the water ratepayers) and the salmon and steelhead of the Russian River, or will it let the grape and wine industry take their upstream cuts first without controls?

The Anderson Valley Advertiser story by Mark Scaramella last week is a good slice of the evolving battles. This will get more heated before it gets better. Stay tuned, and stay involved.

David Keller, Bay Area Director,

Friends of the Eel River

1327 I St., Petaluma, CA 94952



Hello Friends and Neighbors,


I am alerting you to a redistricting process that is taking place right now that may reshape all districts in our county. This process could weaken the progressive coastal districts allowing Board of Supervisors votes of 5-0 or 4-1 or 3-2 against coastal protection. I have spoken with two Supervisors and I was asked to write you. This is serious!!!!

There are two more meetings regarding this issue, Wed., July 13th and Wed., July 20th. A final decision will be made at the Tues., July 26th Board of Supervisors meeting. They are asking you to: go to the meetings and voice your opinion, 3:00pm, Conference Room B in Ukiah and/or write letters in favor of Option B. The letters should go to:

Redistricting Committee; %Board of Supervisors

501 Low Gap Road, Ukiah, California 95482

The maps that are currently being discussed are on this website.

Overview: After the 2010 census, it was decided that minor changes needed to be made to balance each district to the population. A committee was suggested with two volunteers from every district. Conservative members of each district threw their names in the hat and as a result, the Redistricting Committee is very conservative. Progressives are just now realizing the possible harm that can be done by having five districts reshaped by conservatives. We will no longer be able to assure the win of our more progressive Supervisors.

Points to be made in the letter:

- Map Option B is preferable as Hopland is best represented by an inland Supervisor rather than the 5th District Supervisor who is primarily Coastal.

-Having an inland Supervisor concerned with Hopland would be preferential when the Hopland bypass is considered.

-No Citizens Advisory Committee should act on behalf of the entire public without full public input.

-There is little justification for making the change to push the 5th District toward Willits.

-Fort Bragg and Mendocino are similarly located, but very different, unique communities and should not be placed in the same district.

-Only Option B makes logical sense and simplifies the districting.

-Option C and D are unthinkable.

-Historic and community continuity and school districts must be taken into account.

-Redistricting for political purposes is not acceptable.

-Districts should be drawn to encourage geographic compactness.

-A community of interest is a contiguous population which shares common social and economic interests and should be included within a single district for purposes of effective and fair representation.

Please take this very seriously and write your letter over the weekend or the beginning of next week. We need people to get involved now.

If you have any questions, please contact me via email ( ) or call 877-3232 during work.

Thank you,

Melissa Hays




Last week we reported the sad and traumatic situation of Barbara Earnest and Peter Sears of Fort Bragg. One positive result of this report is that Diane Woertink of Willits found Barbara’s car that Peter “lost” there almost a month ago. She phoned me the location and a neighbor/friend, Phil Brougham, and I picked-up the 1997 Nissan and parked it in Barbara’s drive way.

As reported earlier, Barbara, 82, can’t drive because of multiple disabilities, but she needs the car for the new health caregiver she is trying to recruit. She will also need help soon hooking up a trailer to electricity and septic on her property while repairs are being made on her home. Then Barbara needs a ramp to be built to facilitate getting outside with her walker or wheelchair.

Peter Sears himself is now “lost” in the bureaucracy, according to a long-time friend who is the only person thus far to have been able to navigate through security and actually speak with Peter while hospitalized. Peter was released from Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, Friday, July 8. But authorities refused to tell his friend where Peter is now. Through her “connections,” the woman is convinced she will locate him again soon.

Earlier the woman reported Peter’s speech was badly slurred as a result of the concussion he received from a neighbor who tried to stop him from once again striking another neighbor after he set fire to Barbara Earnest’s home. In subsequent conversations, Peter’s speech improved, the woman said.

Diagnosed bi-polar and with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Peter obviously doesn’t do well with stress especially when off his meds which he may have been for possibly the last eight months. I, too, have had to live with both of these emotional problems and I can empathize with Peter. Like Peter, I was in and out of hospitals and jails for a few decades and even homeless for one ten-year span. The medication I took left me numb and zombie-like, but I was often too fearful not to take the drugs. Hospitals and jails were never my first choice of environment. But also like Peter, who is a long-time political activist, injustice often flipped me out.

This time for Peter, it may have been the Nissan that he misplaced on a Willits street some weeks ago that eventually stressed him to the max. He searched for it several times, each time returning home exhausted and frantic, according to Barbara. One time in mid-June while looking for the car, he might have “acted out” and got himself locked-up for a night or two in Mendocino County Jail in Ukiah, records show. While looking for Peter recently, I spoke with a jailer there who remembered him. With his unfashionably long gray beard and equally long gray hair, and with his sense of humor, Peter makes an impression wherever.

I know Peter as his former partner, Barbara Earnest, has long known him — a warm, friendly, funny, caring, gentle (6’4”) giant. If he had any fault, to me it was his long-winded, convoluted stories that he would repeat and repeat. We met a few years ago in Veterans For Peace and since then saw each other every Monday morning for the past few years at what we called “The Bank” also known as the Food Bank in Fort Bragg. We exchanged e-mails about atrocities being committed by Wall Street, Washington and the Pentagon that we called collectively the “Corporate Dictatorship.”

On or about Thursday, June 30, Peter returned to Barbara’s home late in the afternoon exhausted and this time enraged. She fell, couldn’t get up and called Peter for help. Uncharacteristically like a Jekyll/Hyde, he mocked her and began lighting the kitchen on fire, then the laundry room. Barbara screamed for help. As a neighbor couple came running over, a woman living in her car with two dogs and a cat in Barbara’s driveway got out of the car as Peter came out of the house. He karate-chopped her to the neck and was about to strike her a second time, when the guy next door hit him with a large piece of lumber. Meanwhile the man’s wife went inside the house, pulled down a blazing hood over the stove, then helped Barbara out of the house. This is how the incident was related to me by Barbara Earnest.

What does Peter’s immediate future look like? Members of Veterans For Peace hope we can get the ex-paratrooper into Vets’ Court (Google: “Veterans Treatment Court”) for former members of the US Armed Forces with mental health and/or drug addiction problems. If Mendocino County doesn’t have such a court, we hope to start one and also hope other veterans’ groups will assist. Roanne Withers of Ukiah, who is well-acquainted with the legal system, says this is very do-able.

One thing for certain, Peter Sears shouldn’t be placed in prison like many if not most mentally-impaired people are today. A hospital is the place for him, followed perhaps by a half-way house that will make sure he takes his meds.

— Tom Cahill, 964-0820




I apologize for citing Ralph Hoffmann’s wonderful description of bush tits in his Birds of the Pacific States and then failing to include it in my letter. Here it is:

Bush Tits Psaltriparus minimus —

From a live oak a cloud of little gray birds with long tails hurriedly and in twos and threes cross the open space to the next shelter. Twenty or thirty have crossed the open, and still one or two keep crossing and when the observer is sure that the last has crossed, still another flies out and hurries to join the rest. All the time the flock utter gentle high-pitched twittering notes, which become sharper and more prolonged if the birds are startled or alarmed. When feeding, the single birds scatter to the outer twigs, where they often hang like Chickadees. Only during the short breeding season are the birds seen in pairs, busily building the long pendent nest or feeding the numerous young that so strangely manage all to occupy in comfort the bottom of the pouch. As soon as the young can fly, one family group joins the next, and the little bands continue for another winter their busy gleaning from tree to tree.

To make amends for my oversight I would like to bring to the attention of birders two more books, one is a curiosity and the other is probably the finest book to come out of World War One. The first book is, Report on Collections of Birds Made by United States Naval Medical Research Unit No. 2 in the Pacific War Area by Lt. Rollin H Baker USNR. Some of the islands covered in the report are Bougainville, Guadalcanal, Okinawa, Guam, the Palau Islands and Iwo Jima. The report comes with six plates, one of the plates is of Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima with bombs or shells exploding on its flanks, no birds are in sight. The second book is Memoirs of a Camp Follower, Natural History in Front Line Trenches by Philip Gosse. As I said, the finest book to come out of World War One.

Harold Ericsson

Harbor City




Many people have inquired about my thoughts on the county redistricting effort that is underway. I find it interesting how few of them seem aware that this exercise is mandated to occur periodically to ensure voting populations of very nearly equal size, as measured against the most recent census. Whether or not this census produced an accurate count is questionable, given logistical short comings and the resistance of some groups to be counted. However, the official population of the existing 5th District has declined and this necessitates boundary adjustments.

After studying Options A through E and reflecting on my experiences and input received during the recent campaign, I encourage you to adopt Option E as the choice most likely to facilitate fair and thoughtful representation of both coastal issues and, more generally, the interests of the more remote and unincorporated parts of the county. In particular, numerous voters in Ridgewood, Gualala and the Hopland area complained of being virtually unrepresented. I heard similar concerns previously when doing some work in Leggett. Among the advantages of Option E are that: 1) It places the communities of Piercy and Leggett in the 3rd District where they can be more readily accessed by their supervisor traveling along Highway 101. 2) It simplifies what is currently a tangle of 3rd, 4th and 5th District boundaries in the area between Willits and Ukiah. 3) It aligns Hopland with similar agricultural communities along the Russian River. 4) By shifting the 4th District boundary south of Mendocino, it may well lead to increased attention to residents in the Gualala Area. I only regret that the headcount doesn't permit moving that line south to the Navarro River.

Reviewing the options drafted by the redistricting committee drove home the complexity of their task and the effort expended by the members. They have created an impressive array of alternatives for your consideration.

My thanks to them for their effort and to you for your consideration.

Wendy Roberts




Dear Editor,

I do have some disagreement with Gerald Johns’ assessment of the public’s right to use the Navarro River at what locals usually refer to as the “Shenoa swimming hole,” but claimed by him to be part of the Van Zandt’s Redwood View Resort. I believe the “misconception” is on his part.

By federal mandate all navigable waters in the State of California belong to the State and Article 10, Section 4 of the State constitution says: No individual, partnership, or corporation, claiming or possessing the frontage or tidal lands of a harbor, bay, inlet, estuary, or other navigable water in this State, shall be permitted to exclude the right of way to such water whenever it is required for any public purpose, nor to destroy or obstruct the free navigation of such water; and the Legislature shall enact such laws as will give the most liberal construction to this provision, so that access to the navigable waters of this State shall be always attainable for the people thereof.

The term “navigable waters” does not, in the state of California, “hinge on whether the body was ‘commercially navigable’ in 1850.” It is within the courts that “navigable” is determined on a case-by-case basis and, though navigability of the Navarro has not yet been legally tested, a review of a number of state cases reveals that the Navarro falls well within currently accepted determination. Briefly stated, if a body of water is “navigable in fact” by small pleasure craft propelled by oar such as canoe, raft or kayak it is “navigable in law.” Navigability does not have to be year-round and can be intermittent based on seasonal conditions. That a small craft has to be ported over sections of seasonally low water does not make that stream “non-navigable.”


Uses of navigable waters are not limited to boating adventures but are available to the public for all forms of recreation including swimming, fishing and hunting.

The public’s right of use and passage includes all of the streambed up to the high water mark.

It is easy to Google “CA navigable waters” to find this out from the rafting, hunting and fishing groups that have done tons of research and it is not all that hard, as I did this past Thursday, to go to the law library at the Courthouse in Ukiah to look up the actual case law itself. It is really quite plain and clear as to what California intends to reserve for public recreation.

While I do believe that there is some indication of exaggeration in Gerald’s letter as to the level of insult, I do understand that given the strong sentiment for private property rights that some of us might well feel violated by those seeking recreational opportunity especially when some of those recreators exhibit no understanding of the concept of packing out one’s own trash.

In response I would quote from a ruling by an appellate court over the issue of an ordinance passed by El Dorado County. “The public has a right to use the river; it has no right to pollute the river. Reasonable regulation is in order; use prohibition is not. The problems of pollution and sanitation in our increasingly crowded state are difficult and complex, calling for imaginative and sophisticated solutions. But the total prohibition of access is an impermissible solution. The ordinance is invalid because it denies the constitutional right of the public to use of and access to a navigable stream.”

As for the dog bite, hopefully the owner would be held criminally accountable to the same degree as if they had done the biting.


David Severn





Thanks for printing Mike Jamieson's incredible but true account of the goings-on in Point Arena. It's about time someone told it like it is!

The one thing he skirted around is money, as in income from the underground economy. Point Arena, after all, is known as a dope growing community.

So there is potentially a lot of cash flowing through Point Arena and a pressing need to cover up its traces. Special accounting is called for and at least one outwardly respectable accountant has been known for years as a specialist in undeclared income.

Some people may also be in need of serious money laundering. Notice that things turned nasty when the Point Arena city council wouldn't make a loan the new co-op venture. You might think people would applaud the Council for acting responsibly in denying a loan to a group with no collateral. But no, people were angry way beyond what you would expect. You have to think they have a big stake in that loan somehow.

Development issues are related to the underground economy too. The old guard would object to senior housing anywhere in Point Arena. It would bring in new voters who wouldn't support the good old boys game. Ex-council member Eloisa Oropeza had the courage to point this out in the Independent Coast Observer.

If the recallers really wanted a professionally run, transparent city government, then all their candidates would be fair-minded people who could help patch things up. Not!

Some voters have been gone supporting the recall, sweet talked by some seemingly respectable citizens who are really just front people for the game. Other voters may be benefiting somehow, making a bit on the side, or getting illegal goods for cheap. Kind of like the townspeople in that old Gary Cooper flick, High Noon.

Things have gotten ugly with harassment and threats directed at City Council members. No wonder those who know the real story are afraid to speak out.

So wake up, Point Arena voters. Don't trade a well intentioned city council for a totally corrupt one! The recall crowd supports its own interests and those of its buddies, not the interests of Point Arena residents.

Ron Bentley





Albion Community Awareness Network forms to stop SmartMeter installations.

On June 29 Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) conducted an education center at the Albion school regarding their intention to install Smart Meters in Mendocino County. Residents who were concerned about the potential health and safety impacts of the meters attended but conducted their own meeting to organize resistance to the installations. Approximately 35 residents held their meeting right next to PG&E personnel and displays.

Evidence of the potential adverse health impacts from the electromagnetic frequencies (EMF) was shared, and considerable doubts were raised regarding PG&E statements that research proves the meters are safe. In the wake of the San Bruno gas line rupture that killed eight people and exposed PG&E malfeasance and obfuscation at the highest managerial levels, trust levels toward the company were decidedly low. Concerns were expressed that the company installing the meters (Wellington) is not hiring qualified electricians to conduct the installations and cases where the meters have arced and caused fires was shared.

There was discussion on Mendocino County’s ban on all Smart Meter equipment installation that was unanimously approved by the Board of Supervisors in January. Forty-three other government entities within California have passed similar ordinances. Residents expressed their dissatisfaction that PG&E was ignoring the County’s law as the utility monopoly claims to be regulated only by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). Furthermore, Mendocino County adopted the Precautionary Principle in 2006 which further guides decision making within County borders.

An ad hoc group formed, calling itself the Albion Community Awareness Network (ACAN). Residents vowed to work with each other, sharing information and resources to stop Smart Meter installations in their area and to work with other like-minded communities. Lobbying efforts at the state and local level were coordinated.

Most meeting attendees were aware that they can temporarily delay Smart Meter installation by calling the PG&E hotline, but the PG&E proposal in front of CPUC that will be decided on in September would allow “customers” to permanently opt-out only if they pay significant fees. Having to pay to not have something they do not want stretched the definition of “customer” in many people’s minds.

Meeting attendees decided to focus their attention on a number of areas:

1. It was agreed that the president of the CPUC, Michael Peevey, is not able to be a fair arbiter as he is closely tied with the utility monopolies and is a former President of Edison International and Southern California Edison Company. Citizens are asked to call Governor Jerry Brown at (916) 445-2841 and urge Brown to replace Peevey immediately with a new President that can more fairly hear the concerns of the “customers” of the utility monopolies.

2. Residents were urged to immediately report the installation of any Smart Meter equipment to the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office. County law decrees that all installations are illegal. Their website  allows residents to report a smartmeter installation.

3. Increase community awareness of the potential dangers of faulty installations of Smart Meters as the work is not being done by qualified electricians and the wireless SmartMeters that Wellington Energy are installing are in fact not certified by Underwriters Laboratory (UL), a certification that is required under the state electrical code for all electrical appliances and equipment within a home.

4. Increase community awareness of the potential dangers of electromagnetic frequencies associated with the meters. The website is a good source for information.

5. Citizen’s arrests of Wellington Energy installers are being considered. Some residents might commit acts of non-violent “civil obedience” and block Wellington Energy trucks that will be attempting to install the meters in the face of the County moratorium. Traditionally such acts are called “civil disobedience,” but in this case such an action would be defending a local law. It was learned that the trucks are white ford pickups, generally marked with a Wellington Energy logo, although on some trucks the logos have been hidden in other jurisdictions where Smart Meter moratoriums have been declared.

Chris Skyhawk





Outrage! Well, citizens, this government shutdown must stop. First, it was Wisconsin. Now, Minnesota. Can the federal government possibly be next? It seems that the Democrats with their irrational insistence that the wealthy pay more taxes is at the heart of their obstructionist campaign. As our own Republicans have explained, if the good folks who happen to have more money did pay more taxes it still wouldn't balance the budget. Obama has even gone so far as to demand that the owners of private jets pay more taxes. Doesn't he realize that such transportation is vital to transact the interactions needed to keep our economy functioning? Only by maintaining our industries can the wealth trickle down to the workers.

These malcontent Democrats should remember that the business of America is business and our diligent money managers must be provided with monetary incentives to keep capital flowing and our factories functioning.

Furthermore, if this class of unemployed welfare parasite shirkers would just reach down, grab their boots and pull themselves up as their betters have done, as Horatio Alger did, then they too could become successful entrepreneurs.

Ronald Del Raine

Florence, Colorado

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