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Letters (February 19, 2020)

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In last week’s issue of the AVA, Bob Abeles took issue with the flyer that the AVCSD sent AV residents about the health issue posed by contaminated wells in Boonville. Bob contends that the science is inadequate because we didn’t randomly choose the wells that were tested. Perhaps Bob would have us hire a sampling statistician at great expense to develop an area sampling plan to select wells for testing. Challenge the science! 

This is the same pseudo-scientific arguments that the big tobacco companies used to fight regulations around smoking.

Bob accuses us of FUDing—instilling Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. Perhaps Bob isn’t aware that the septic problems and contaminated wells have been an issue since 1974 when the County’s Department of Public Health “…conducted a sanitary survey in Boonville in order to determine the health problem that exists.” The health officer at the time— R. L. Holtzer, M.D. — concluded that, “Due to many of the buildings being constructed years ago on small lots (before the lot size ordinance) corrections can only be made by the installation of public sewers… The periodic outbreak of infectious hepatitis in the area is not surprising due to the above data.” (You can read the complete report on the AVCSD website.) 

The Executive Director of the Anderson Valley Health Clinic also informed me that coliform can also cause skin infections and diarrhea. To my mind periodic outbreaks of infections hepatitis, skin infections, and diarrhea are serious problems.

It seems that Bob is now only becoming aware of the current Water/Wastewater initiative that has been moving slowly forward since 2014. How slowly would he have the Community move on this serious health issue? So, in my humble opinion the person really trying to sow doubt is Bob Abeles.

The AVCSD plans to hold a workshop in the near future to make the Community aware of the health issues posed by contaminated wells. Stay tuned and get the real facts.

Francois Christen, Board Member, AVCSD


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Re: Redwood Quality Management Company & Redwood Community Services

Dear Mendocino County Board of Supervisors:

Mendocino County’s reliance on Redwood Quality Management Company (RQMC) and Redwood Community Services (RCS) for Behavioral Health and Recovery Services appears to increase each year. As the services that RQMC and RCS provide are expanded, the Fort Bragg City Council would like to see more data on the success of those programs locally, here on the Coast, and countywide.

Most, if not all, of the information provided by RQMC focuses on numbers served and not on measuring the improvements in the health and wellbeing of their clients.

Without compromising confidentiality, it would be helpful to know how many clients enter programs with substance abuse or undiagnosed mental health illnesses and are successfully treated.

For example, a metric that measures the baseline of clients entering the system and tracks and reports progress over time will provide accountability for County funds and a measurement to gage ongoing improvement. Although the City Council is not well versed in Behavioral Health and Recovery Services standards and metrics, we have no doubt such assessments exist to guide and evaluate these programs.

The City Council feels strongly that we should compare our local programs to others in the region and across the nation, to evaluate success and pursue means to improve our programs, not just the numbers served.

Similarly, we understand that there are limited County resources available for these services and would like to better understand the costs and the impacts to the County.

How much do we spend per person? How does this compare to other jurisdictions? How much is saved in other costs such as law enforcement and emergency health care by successfully treating an individual as opposed to a person left suffering from untreated illnesses and diagnoses?

As we all understand, Behavioral Health and Recovery Services are a vital and integral piece of the overall success of our County.

As such, the Fort Bragg City Council respectfully requests that the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors require a professional assessment of the services provided by RQMC and all of their subcontractors using an appropriate industry standard. The results of such an assessment can be used countywide to evaluate the quality of services provided and measure success and progress going forward.

The County could use these same results to build standard requirements or metrics into their service agreements.

Thank you for your ongoing service to our County. 


William V. Lee, Mayor

Teresa K. Albin-Smith Councilmember

Bernie Norvell Vice Mayor

Jessica Morsell-Haye Councilmember

Lindy Peters Councilmember”

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In 2016 Measure V passed in Mendocino County with 63% of the vote. Measure V requires that mature trees intentionally killed (by whatever method) be cut down within 90 days. The impetus for V was the fire danger caused by increasing the number of dead standing trees in our forests and the increased danger to firefighters from those dead trees. Why then is the law not being enforced in spite of the demonstrated public support? 

After being involved in forestry/environmental issues and protests for almost 30 years in Mendocino County the answer is clear. It is because government, at all levels, sides with corporations/business interests. This is not news. But, it explains why all the hordes of well intentioned people working tirelessly year in year out are making so few gains. 

The entities involved here and elsewhere are basically three: government, businesses, and the public. Government includes all levels (federal, state and local) responsible for regulatory oversight and enforcement as well as advisory support. Businesses, including corporations, have decided to make as much money in as short a time as possible for their shareholders/owners. The Public represents not only the people but the public trust resources important to the life of Mother Earth (wildlife, water, forests, climate). 

In theory, government is the most powerful in resolving conflicts between the people and business intersts. The democratic government that was set up in this country was designed so that the government would respond to the public and reign in business interests that were contradicting the public trust. For hundreds of years citizens of this country have fought and sacrificed for a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people” as Abraham Lincoln stated so eloquently. Why then does a governement for “we the people” almost always decide in favor of business interests? 

The public, the 99%, lose just about every time. Why? Because government is infused with business interests at all levels right down to water boards, county supervisors, and extension services. There is no equal playing field. There is no justice. Once in a while the governmentt tosses us a crumb and then we are so grateful! Good people keep on trying to save what's left of the forest ecosystems in Mendocino County. Most of what they might get is a nibble on the edges of gross mismanagement. 

Again, democratic government in this country was designed so that the government would respond to the public and reign in business interests that were in conflict with the public trust. And imperfect as the design and implementation of this ideal, it is still worth fighting for. What we are seeing here in the county (and in the entire country) is the alignment of government and business to subvert the public interest. Mussolini said “Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power.” 

We need to fight fascism at all levels, including and starting locally. The Mendocino County Supersivors have been agonizing over how to enforce Measure V. They don’t need to squirm so much. The Mendocino County Code Section 6.04.100 states that the business license of any business “that has been operated in any manner contrary to any law, ordinance, chapter, rule or regulation shall be revoked by the Board of Supervisors.” 

Under threat of shutting down their business, I’m sure that Mendocino Redwood Company and other timber companies would comply rather than sacrifce investment in the county—and this is the way it should be. The Board of Supervisors has a mandate and the power. The question is “do they have the will?” 

Els Cooperrider

Turtle Creek (Comptche)

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Dear Editor,

Imagine a cat lassoed then hoisted by the neck to dangle kicking and gasping until it is strangled to death. Imagine a dog caught by the leg in a trap, stuck twisting and turning for days while the jaws of the trap dig into its leg until it dies of dehydration and shock while trying to free itself by gnawing off its own paw. 

Even those of us who don't keep pets have, I hope, sufficient empathy to shudder at dogs and cats being treated that way by someone who finds their straying into his yard annoying. There has to be a kinder, more humane way of removing unwanted pets from one's yard, right? And of course there is: we call animal control to come and humanely remove the offending animal. 

Now, extend your empathy a bit further to include other critters, like raccoons and skunks. They, too, can be annoying when under your house or in your shed. So, you want them removed humanely, right? 

Unfortunately, in Mendocino the County will send out a Wildlife Services trapper to kill the offending animal instead of removing it and sealing off its entryway. 

That doesn't have to happen. There are well-tested alternatives and people ready to bring them to our county. To accomplish that, all you need do is tell your Supervisor to vote against renewing the county's contract with USDA Wildlife Services and in favor of working with Mendocino Non-Lethal Wildlife Alliance to implement a proven humane wildlife management program. 


Steve Sapontzis


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My current subscription won't expire until December of this year and I saw your notice in the Jan. 29 issue regarding the latest postal increase for your out-of-state customers. I'm sending a check out Monday to help cover during the interim, but I'm also hoping you raise the subscription price as needed before I need to renew. I'm hoping for a few more years before you're forced to drop the print format. Just not a big fan of reading anything on line. 



Coal Creek Canyon, Colorado

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The climate control and global warming and clean air and this or that people like Al Gore and Gavin Newsom and Jerry Brown and that crazy Cortez woman and Mary Nichols with the Air Resources Board — they claim to have a situation to stop things going on in the United States and make a better climate or global warming. They are crazy. And they are all Democrats, liberals, stupid and ignorant, every one. 

What puts them above God, the creator of this earth who controls what happens to the weather or earthquakes or whatever? There is no climate control, no climate problem, no global warming, maybe a few years of warmer weather then it’ll go back. These people who squirm to the American people and get them to follow like sheep are crazy! They are not above the man upstairs and never will be. That man is related to Mother Nature, I think. I know a lot of you don't believe in God. That's your loss, not mine. 

These liberal Democrats are trying to change this country over to socialism and get rid of the Constitution and everything we fought for for 200 years to be free. They want to be like Venezuela, like that Maduro guy. Do you want to end up like that? A dictatorship? That's what the liberals want. They already have Gavin Newsom who runs a dictatorship in California, The worst state in the union, run by the worst people. We don't need socialism. We don't want it. 

To Mr. Rob Mahon in Covelo: Anybody like you, sir, who talks about the President of the United States is a sick old man. I feel sorry for you. 

Thank you President Trump for doing such a great job. Keep going, buddy. Expose the deep state. Drain the swamp. Get rid of all the liberals out of your organization. You still got some. Get only Republicans in there. Kick some ass. 

God bless Donald Trump.

Jerry Philbrick


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Dear Editor:

Regarding the reader who wrote of my KZYX interview, I’ll keep in short and sweet.

First, the interviewer, Sarah Reith, KZYX News Director, was far from objective. She is best buds with Alicia Bales, KZYX Program director.

I took Ms. Bales on in a $96,000 patronage job scandal. The job was being created for Bales by her landlord and friend, 2nd District Supervisor John McCowen. The item was buried in the Consent Calendar. The entire episode was one of the most shameful in County history. If anyone needs proof about the Bales-McCowen connection, I’ll post a video from that Board of Surpervisors (BOS) meeting where Bales and McCowen are swooning in each others arms during a break at the meeting. They look like lovers. Frames from the video remind me of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” — certainly not a Mendocino County BOS meeting.

Second, the interviewer, Sarah Reith, is the romantic partner of Stuart Campbell. Stuart Campbell is the former KZYX head honcho who was best buds with the KZYX head honcho who preceded him — John Coate.

I took on both Campbell and Coate in complaints to the FCC and Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). The FCC substantiated my complaint about the station offices and studio being unattended during business hours. The CPB substantiated my complaint about incomplete and inaccurate IRS Form 990s.

In the acknowledgments of her trashy novel, “A Schedule of Drugs in the Valley of Death”, Reith calls Campbell, “the love of my life.” (Ugh.)

There’s more. In her bio of the book jacket, Reith also describes herself as the “child of a circus family” and a “former high-end call girl”. The novel is a thinly disguised autobiography. I’ll quote from it:

“Isobel Reinhardt is a hot mess. The daughter of a wire-walker turned federal fugitive and a high-end sex worker who likes to call herself a feminist, Isobel has failed decisively at everything she’s tried. So she comes to Mendocino County to grow pot for a woman who knows all her family secrets. When she narrowly escapes arrest while delivering pot, Isobel does a quick risk assessment and decides it’s time to get a legitimate job. Without a marketable skill set or a well-developed resume…[blah blah blah].”

Dear Lord!

Isobel Reinhardt is the KZYX News Director!

This is Mendocino County, folks! A lot of folks are simply nuts. Others are corrupt, lazy, mean. They organize themselves into tribes. Things are tribal here.

If polarizing people like Sarah Reith, Alicia Bales, John Coate, and John McCowen — and their tribes — is what I do, then so be it. If elected 1st District Supervisor, I’ll always call it like I see it based on facts, critical thinking, and good judgement — just like the AVA and Redheaded Blackbelt, and a few others, try to do.

Incidentally, given my history with all of the above, what current KZYX head honcho Marty Durlin should have done, is gone outside of the station and found someone who could have objectively interviewed me.

Finally, some fact-checking.

I don’t have a “girlfriend”. I have a campaign manager. She also co-host my radio show at KMUD. Her name is Mary.

And Mary is Shannon’s tenant in El Dorado. Shannon and I live with Mary since our two sons graduated college and went off to sea with the United States Sealift Command and Crowley Marine.

Shannon and I are happy Mary lives with us. She pays rent. She a good dog sitter to our three whippets. And she is a good caretaker of our home.

I love the people of Mendocino County, and I can’t wait to represent their best interests.

I know the people from Mendocino County from 20 years of living here, working at the Sheriff’s Office, serving on three grand juries, serving on the Retirement Board, serving on the County RDA Successor Agency Board, serving on the Sanitation District Board, hosting radio shows at KZYX, KMEC, and KMUD, and raising two sons here, one of whom is a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserves and the other who is a deck officer with the U.S. Military Sealift Command. Both got Congressional nominations.

John Sakowicz, Candidate, 1st District Supervisor



  1. izzy February 19, 2020

    The Board of Supervisors has a mandate and the power. The question is “do they have the will?” 
    One of them does, and usually appears to stand alone. The other chair-warmers need to be replaced.

    On to other matters.
    If the Comptche Crank is convinced his God is actively in charge of everything, perhaps he can lay the blame for all his perceived grievances where it belongs.

  2. Pat Kittle February 19, 2020

    Steve Sapontzis,

    Thanks for caring about animals.

    If asking racoons politely to leave your garden doesn’t work, try a well-aimed jet of water from a garden hose. In my experience, they won’t be back — although they will give you a seriously dirty look on their way out.

    (I wouldn’t do this on a cold night, but they usually don’t come on cold nights anyway.)

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