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Letters (December 18, 2019)

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Anderson Valley Fire Department would like to express our deepest condolences to all of the families that were impacted by the very unfortunate event yesterday. Our sympathies go out to each one of you during this extremely difficult time.

A big thank you to all of the AV locals and volunteers who have stepped up so quickly to help out. We would also like to thank our neighboring fire agencies for providing mutual aid: Elk FD, Ukiah FD, Redwood Coast FD, South Coast FD, Comptche FD, Hopland FD, and CalFire. 

We are blessed to live in such a great community that is so willing to get involved when then need arises! Although difficult at times, it is our privilege to serve this community. 


Chief Andres Avila

Anderson Valley Fire Department

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The AV Unity Club would like to thank everyone for another wonderful Bazaar. We would like to thank all of the businesses and individuals who donated items for our raffle. We thank A.V. Brewing Co., The Apple Farm, Bewildered Pigs, Bloomz Salon, Boont Berry Farm, Brutocao Cellars, Donald and Sharon Gowan, Hedgehog Books, Farmhouse Mercantile, Fathers and Daughters Cellars, Foursight Wines, Gowan's Oak Tree, Handley Cellars, Husch Vineyards, Jack's Valley Store, Lauren's Restaurant, Meyer Family Cellars, Penny Royal Farm, Philo Ridge Vineyards, Shear Elegance, The Puzzle People, Toulouse Vineyards, Wally Hopkins, Beverly Dutra, Susan Robinson, Stella Wells, Judy Nelson and Rainbow Hill. 

Elizabeth Dusenberry

Bazaar Chairman

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Dear AVA,

Checking in to see if there has been any updates in the AVA regarding the progress of the Mendocino County Association of Fire Districts (yes, MCAFD). I don't see any. Your negative and subsequently wrong opinion piece about our efforts is from Oct. 2015. Since that time, we have negotiated over $1.3 million in new Prop 172 funding for our local Fire Districts paid over the last three years. Even Larry Tunzi is surprised, I'm sure.

Since 2015 and the founding of MCAFD, several events occurred;

a. In 2016 Kit Elliot (former County Counsel) sued myself, Tony Orth, Michael Schaefer and Emily Strachan to stop our ballot initiative which asked for a greater share of Prop 172 funding. Why or how Ms. Elliot was put up to this was never looked into. Pretty sure it had to do with Measure B and/or pushback from the other current Prop 172 recipients to keep their share of the pie and limit perceived competition for tax dollars on the 2016 ballot. Probably both. Measure B has now successfully drained $10.5 million out of our local economy with nothing to show for it. This, in addition to the $26 million in jail psych wing funding that was kept quiet during the 2016 election cycle and the fact the county currently spends over $37 million on mental health annually, in addition to Measure B money. Meanwhile, the population of homeless/mentally ill people is exploding. Just imagine if our ballot initiative was allowed and passed back in 2016, this would have provided over $8 million in funding to date for our local Fire/EMS providers. Maybe there would have been better outcomes for people, less homeless, less people in crisis.

b. 2017 saw the Redwood Complex fire that killed nine people in Redwood Valley and burned 375 homes. Note there was no after-action debriefing on the part of the Mendocino County BoS, the SO or the County OES regarding the failures that occurred during that event that took the lives of our county citizens. Nothing. Word is that our County leaders feared public review would lead to bigger lawsuits. This didn't matter, the County got sued anyway. Sonoma County, on the other hand, completely reviewed all of their failures, in public, and re-built their emergency notification and response systems. They also increased directing funding of local fire districts by $13 million annually. This was done immediately. MCAFD warned the BoS in testimony in 2015 that an event like the Redwood Complex was coming soon. It did.

c. 2018 saw the River Fire, starting in Hopland and burned over the mountain to Lake County (49,000 acres).

d. Now, in 2019 we have the collapse of the EMS/ambulance system in the County, overseen by Coastal Valleys EMS and the BoS. People are starting to sound the alarm that patients are starting to die. This was predicted in my and others testimony before the BoS, over a year ago.

Thinking about the above events and the inertia that allowed them, maybe it's time for the voters of Mendocino County to be asked what kind of Fire/EMS/Ambulance system do they want? Before we ask for a new dedicated tax for these emergency services, maybe a re-ordering of the existing County Public Safety budget should be examined. Maybe the funding is already there?

David Roderick


MARK SCARAMELLA REPLIES: Other than your rather unkind description of our 2015 opinion as outright “wrong” — Well! Harrumph! — we completely agree with your assessment, especially the part about there being money to improve local emergency services in the existing budget. I believe you mentioned the $2.4 million a year for 10-12 delinquents in juvenile hall (which, btw, MCOE superintendent Michelle Hutchins volunteered to deal with, but was never followed up on despite agreement that it should be) in a recent Supes meeting. Plus, who knows how many millions could be freed up by simply raising the pension fund’s assumed rate of return by a teensy 0.25%. Or the millions of existing bed tax wasted on demonstrably ineffectual tourism “promotion,” despite the significant draw that tourists put on emergency services. And we won’t even mention CEO Angelo’s intentional shorting of various departments’ staffing to create an artificially balanced budget without regard for whether those departments are doing what they’re supposed to do. Come to think if it, maybe MCAFD should make another formal demand on the Supervisors. After all, there’s no guarantee that the piecemeal $1 million estimated revenue from the campgrounds bed tax proposal will pass, and there will be at least two, maybe three, more new Supervisors by the end of next year.

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Dear Representative Huffman,

I've read your quote in the Huffington Post with great interest.

Here's "the dumbest idea" I've heard: Vote for Articles of Impeachment in the House of Representatives that have no chance whatsoever of success in the Senate. 

To me, that's throwing Brer Rabbit into the middle of the briar patch, sir. 

"Complete and Total Exoneration," you can hear him saying it again and again and again, on into November's election. 

Censure in the House is not reviewable by the Senate. It will scorch his butt in a way he cannot get rid of. Ever. 

OK, Jared, here's a really good idea: do both. 

Impeach and Censure. 

At least then you've covered both bases; one that will stick and the other that has no possibility of success. 

Think about it. 

Pass it along up the chain of command to Speaker Pelosi. 

But spare me the insult of "boneheaded" and "the dumbest idea I've heard of". 

With all due respect, sir, I've been playing this game a lot longer than you have, and I've learned a thing or two along the way. Principal among which is this, "There is no nobility in defeat". 


Lee Edmundson


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The day that there is no more AVA newspaper my withdrawals will be severe. I am grateful and thankful each week that I receive your newspaper.

I hope that you and the staff do not get the sicknesses passing through Northern California. I am currently in Tuolomne County where it seems everyone is ill. At least in my family, my siblings and my mom.

Mark Scaramella’s County Notes and reports are sounding more and more like satire and I laugh, even though the truth about Mendocino County is truly sad. Thank the universe for Ted Williams; he my be the only one in County government who is a sane, clear thinker with real questions and valid solutions. He is not go along/get along. He is like a breath of fresh air. 

Although I live in Humboldt County, I think that the County employees here in Humboldt are better focused and not ruled by the CAO. 

Enough of the ramble. Stay well, happy and healthy. Your readers are devoted to your paper.

Take care, sincerely,

Allyson Provisor


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Sheriff Allman announces his retirement

December 12, 2019 — Today is the day that several newspapers have reported my retirement effective 12/28/2019. It’s true. This is a decision that I have made based on many things, but one of the the most important is the fact that we have a very good undersheriff, Matt Kendall, who is ready to take the helm. It has been my honor to work for Mendocino County as a lawman since 1985. I have been lucky enough to be your Sheriff for the past 13 years and there are no words which would adequately describe how proud I am to have been Sheriff of the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office. As the transition takes place, I have to thank the men and women who work very hard to keep our county safe. I’m leaving at a time when things are very good and I’m not taking this for granted. 

I’m not moving from the area and I intend to spend a lot of time focused on improving the mental health services throughout our county. Together, we’ve accomplished a lot, yet the hardest work is still ahead of us. The current ambulance crisis is another project which I will be working on. 

I am very lucky to have so many people who have supported me in my time as your Sheriff and I will never forget how fortunate I have been. Together, we have faced fires, floods, droughts, a tsunami and several other incidents which have gone down in our county history as major. In 2008, we had 134 lightning fires in one night and in 2011, we had the most expensive and extensive manhunt in our county history. In 2017, we experienced the most tragic disaster in our history, where 9 citizens perished. The sadness and pain of that tragedy which we all experienced will always linger. Throughout all of these disasters, we have had First Responders step up and do the necessary work which had to be done. Many of these first responders are volunteers and they have my heartfelt appreciation. Our volunteer firefighters and our search and rescue volunteers are citizens who strive to work very hard to make our county a better place, for little or no pay. Thank you very much. 

To the men and women of the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office: Thank you. You are appreciated for what you do and how you conduct yourself. I know each of you and I am very proud of you. Continue wearing your uniform with the rich pride that has been established by the past employees who have built our good reputation. 

I’m going to sum it up in very few words: Thank you for allowing me the privilege of being your Sheriff for the past 13 years. I have made many friends throughout my tenure as your Sheriff and will never forget the kindness which has been shown to me. 

Tom Allman, Sheriff, Mendocino County


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Homelessness is one of the fruits produced by the tree of capitalism. You get an especially bumper crop of homelessness when you fertilize the tree with tax cuts for the 1% that result in cuts to mental health and other services, cuts to financial assistance, cuts to food stamps, cuts to education, rationing health care to those who can afford to pay and suppression of the minimum wage below the cost of living. Add in racism, homophobia, misogyny, xenophobia and scapegoating, and harvest the fruits of homelessness, drug addiction, gangs, endless wars, mass shootings and environmental destruction. 

Until we, as a society, stop making choices based on how much profit the 1% receives, and start making choices based on what society and the Earth need, the George H.W. Bush One Thousand Points of Light Memorial Village will remain along the Joe Rodota Trail. 

Bernie Hovden


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Somehow…we’ve survived another year without you,

Four years…48 months…208 weeks…1,460 days…

Winter to winter, December to December,

Snow falling and heat rising in the seasons between.

How you loved Christmas, you never lost the sincerity of its promise,

The kids the gifts the food the tree the carols,

The everythingness that celebrated the year soon gone

As you leaned healthy and strong into the strong light of the coming year.

On the best days you’re still here,

Your voice on the phone your words still magically filling 

The empty spaces you left in the inboxes of our hearts.

But on other days, many days, it’s impossible that you’re still gone,

That another year has slipped by without you.

I know what you’d say, that life is for the living,

And live we must through another spring, summer, and fall

Until another Christmas wind blows you back to us, 

And we miss you so utterly all over again.

Marilyn Davin

Walnut Creek

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What is happening to Mendocino county's tax dollars? Our roads are in very bad shape. The Supervisors gave themselves a $20,000 a year raise but they can't put any money in the infrastructure? The Comptche-Ukiah Road from the Comptche to Mendocino is really bad. There are potholes there that will actually break your springs if you hit them. The leaves are a foot deep. You cannot see the fog lines. The centerline paint is so weak that when it's raining you can't see it. It's sickening. Somebody in charge of the County Road crews has to pay more attention to these roads. I could fix those potholes in about half a day with some asphalt and a large shovel. The could be handled with that brush they tow behind a pickup so you can at least see the fog lines. If you get into those leaves with your tires you will slide off the road. It's not a pretty picture.

I just watched the standoff at Trader Joe's in Hollywood on 48 Hours. A girl was killed and there was a hostage situation. What a sorry example of police activity. There were nine cops in a little bunch walking down the highway with guns ready to shoot each other in the back. In fact the girl who was killed was probably shot by an officer. Why are 60 or 70 cops responding to a hostage situation? Three or four cops could do that without all that extra activity threatening the civilians. Those cops in the bunch looked very vulnerable too. A three-and-a-half inch Magnum 12 gauge with birdshot would have got them all with one-shot. Really stupid.

I can't believe this stuff. Makes me sick.

God bless Donald Trump.

Jerry Philbrick


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Superior Court of California, County of Mendocino

People of the State of California, plaintiff, versus Charles Wayne Hensley, defendant.

Case No. SCUK CRCR 16-88000, and SCUK CRCR 15-83663

Order For Placement Pursuant To Penal Code Section 1370 Et Seq.

It is hereby ordered that:

Criminal proceedings remain suspended until the court finds that defendant has been restored to competency.

Placement of defendant has been difficult based on the significant cognitive impairment presented by defendant as a result of the effects of chronic alcoholism, low IQ, and homelessness.

An appropriate placement has been recommended by the Director of Public Health through Redwood Gospel Mission.

The court orders defendant released forthwith to the custody of Kenneth Rosenthal to transport defendant for immediate placement at Redwood Gospel Mission at 101 6th Street in Santa Rosa, California.

If defendant is not accepted by Redwood Gospel Mission for placement for any reason, Mr. Rosenthal shall immediately return defendant to be Mendocino County Jail.

The maximum term of commitment is one year.

Redwood Gospel Mission shall submit a progress report to the court within 90 days of this order and at six-month intervals thereafter unless and until top intensity is restored.

The matter is set for progress, non-appearance for defendant on July 17, 2017.

So ordered.

Keith Faulder, Judge of the Superior Court

April 14, 2017

Ed note: Hensley refused to go.

One Comment

  1. Eric Sunswheat December 18, 2019

    Dear AVA

    Remember the day, when Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman sacrificed his own well being to rescue a young woman school teacher from a car, burning with a tipped over 5 gallon gas gasoline can, on hwy 101 near her school?

    We never got the true story on that one. CDF Captain and former County Supervisor Jim Wattenberger delayed, or never released the results of the investigation to the public. Mendocino County Tom Allman himself said he was no hero.

    We don’t know why Allman was not wearing protective gloves, and why he was not carrying fire extinguishers in his vehicle, and if he was, why Sheriff Allman did not deploy said fire extinguishers. The truth may never be known, but he was awarded a California Hero award by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

    In other reflections, it took 4 years and $5 million settlement, to get to the truth over the justification and lies in the County jailhouse death of mental health patient Steven Neuroth, who allegedly committed suicide by methamphetamine toxicity, before it was shown compression holds and assaults by corrections officers did the dirty deed.

    Also noted was gross malpractice by jail medical staff, who did not have proper medical legal credentials to be assisting in jail oversight of in custody health operations.

    Neuroth was allegedly the poster motivator for the Sheriff’s input in writing Measure B, and component of Steven’s estate federal civil rights court settlement mandate. Tom Allman has another narrative, that it was a concern over his own brother’s precarious mental health situation and safety.

    The withholding of the incriminating Steven Neuroth death video for 4 long years by Sheriff Allman, was coupled with a false narrative disgracing the reputation of gentle compassionate Steven who did not die of induced suicide, while he was assaulted by deputies.

    This will be a part of Tom Allman’s permanent legacy upon leaving office, if history is not forgiven and forgotten, now that Tom has been unable to bring the bulk of Measure B mental health infrastructure funds to Howard Hospital in Willits, California community, near his approx. 5 acre family farmstead.

    Granted Tom Allman has made many valuable contributions to the County of Mendocino and performed great services over the decades, and thus is a shining star role model. We all eventually grow long in the tooth. Such is life.

    His early pledge idealism to enforce the laws and not create laws as a separate branch of government, slowly gave way with fallout in the murder of, Koch Industries owned Georgia Pacific’s forester and Fort Bragg City Council Mayor, Jere Melo.

    During the Bassler manhunt, Sheriff withheld easily releasable informed about the murder circumstances which would not have impeded the investigation, passively allowing the rumor mill media frenzy myth of marijuana plantation death scene, to flare up for weeks on nationwide prime time leading news.

    The crime scene was a personal use poppy garden tended by a deranged individual on timber company land. Allman eventually wrote a book on the facts, so the Sheriff was keeping notes.

    This news media fake news was not substantially corrected, and a year later, in a sense, was codified in supporting background information for at least one Bill that was signed as new state law, with support of Koch Industries’ Georgia Pacific, the timber companies, and background ALEC American Legislative Council, along with Sheriff Allman who lobbied the California State Legislature.

    Bills were signed into state law, for passage of Fish & Wildlife and also Water Resource, codes and regulations, that strangle most pre existing Emerald Triangle cottage family cannabis legal cultivations today, with draconian fees and fines, that are not substantially impinging most grape growers who conduct comparable agronomic practices.

    Eric Sunswheat
    Potter Valley

    December 16th, updated:
    December 18, 2019 8:15pm substitution,
    Georgia for Louisiana

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