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Letters (June 24, 2020)

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Dear residents of Anderson Valley:

I am writing to express my deepest thanks to our amazing and selfless volunteer Fire Department and Ambulance crew. They are remarkable and a true blessing to those of us who have chosen to make this place our own. I have on numerous occasions in the past seen their work from the periphery. On Sunday, June 14, I got a different view.

While at my home on Clow Ridge, I began to experience what my wife and I thought was a heart attack. The symptoms were severe and I was pretty sure my number was up. 911 was called, and the team was on their way. And I mean the TEAM! They brought everyone.

Our home is quite secluded and logistically difficult to access. This presented them with no problem. Within minutes, I was surrounded by trained, concerned professionals, many of whom I know personally. I'm not someone who is comfortable being helped, but having people who I call friends and associates in my daily life here to care for me was an incredible relief. They quickly determined that my condition at that point required CalStar Medevac, so they went about the business of extracting me from my home and getting me to the landing zone. During this painful, difficult, and somewhat humiliating process, one of them went so far as to chide me a bit about our shared addiction to tattoos which helped me keep my mind off my impending doom!

We met the chopper at the bottom of Clow Ridge Road where the CalStar crew administered an EKG which was unable to rule out a heart attack as the cause of my symptoms. The flight nurse informed me that my blood pressure had stabilized to the point that it was my choice whether to fly over or remain in the ambulance for the trip to Ukiah Valley hosptial. He went so far as to let me know that the cost of the flight would be dramatically higher than the cost of the road trip. My family have been CalStar members for years so money was not a major concern. I did feel however that the chopper may be needed elsewhere, so I elected to be driven.

I'm happy to say that I will live to die another day. While the cause of my episode is yet to be determined, I'm back home, resting comfortably, awaiting a series of invasive procedures to find out what happened and how to proceed.

That notwithstanding, I will be forever in the debt of the most remarkable men and women of our Anderson Valley Fire Department and Ambulance service. Hat’s off to you ladies and gentlemen and thank you so very much! You are true heroes in every sense of the word and I am honored to be "on your watch." With any luck one day I will have a chance to repay the favor.

As for the tattooed firefighter: "Yes, we'll go get some new ink together soon!"

“Life is short — death is certain."

Sincerely yours,

Robbie Lane 


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To the Editor

This letter is to alert the many friends, fans & kindred souls of Renegade Gardener Writer-Poet Bill Bradd to his recent diagnosis & battle with cancer. Bill will have to live five days a week in Ukiah for radiation therapy and returning home to the Coast on the weekends. Bill will need up to three months weekly lodging and can really use both your optimistic, supportive letters as well as dollars to pay his motel and meals while in Ukiah.

Please make & send any contributions to:

Bill Bradd
PO Box 913
Mendocino, CA 95460

You may also send your emails to:

Thank you & good health upon you all!

Don Shanley


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Dear Editor:

Fort Bragg is named in honor of a racist slave owner who was also a traitor to his country. Why on earth would its citizens, of whom I am one, choose to perpetuate any form of tribute to someone whose values don't reflect our own and are now considered abhorrent? 

The people of Fort Bragg could honor the local Native Americans who preceded Bragg by millennia by renaming the town Noyo, it's original moniker. Or come up with a new name altogether. 

The only argument for NOT changing the name -- other than utter lethargy and inertia -- seems to be the one put forth by Lindy Peters five years ago: that the cost would be prohibitive, and the post office would for some unspecified reason implode. 

Yes, local businesses would incur some costs related to new signage, letterhead, business cards, et al. But all of those items need replacing somewhat regularly anyway, and it seems a relatively small price to pay to NOT have to say "oh, I'm from one of the northernmost, westernmost monuments to the Confederacy still remaining in the United States." 

Garth Chouteau

Fort Bragg

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Honorable Board of Supervisors: 

My name is Sarah Reith, and I am a reporter with KZYX, Mendocino County Public Broadcasting. I want to address the lack of meaningful participation in the local democratic process as we all attempt to stay safe from the novel coronavirus.

As we emerge from the shelter in place orders that have saved thousands of lives, we have regained certain freedoms: the freedom to go shopping, to go to the gym, to attend church and demonstrations, and now, to drink and socialize at a bar until midnight. This last was s urprising, in light of Dr. Doohan’s very convincing argument, just a few days before issuing the order, that people who have been drinking for several hours are unlikely to observe social distancing protocols. 

What we don’t have is the freedom to attend local government meetings in person and contribute to the decisions that matter to us. We can only participate in the democratic process if we have good internet and cell phone service, well-maintained equipment to make use of that infrastructure, and the skills to operate the expensive equipment.

We have the right to attend political protests, but a world-changing movement, which will happen regardless of a line item in a health order, is not the venue to state an opinion about something like the use of rangeland to grow cannabis, or a particular budgetary decision. “Allowing” a juggernaut like the Black Lives Matter movement to take place does not indicate any real level of respect for our First Amendment rights. And now that we have demonstrated our cultural priorities by allowing drinking establishments to stay open until midnight, we need to accept the risk involved in reopening the democratic process, as well.

In a related issue, the Friday press conferences are inadequate. The press is often not brought into the zoom meetings until the moment when it is our turn to ask questions. That’s confusing, because we are watching it on Facebook or Youtube, which has a considerable delay. Technology is not adequate to the task of conducting a real, live, respectful interaction with the press.

In short, democracy by zoom is not democracy. The pandemic is going to last a long time, and we need to come up with a way to hold meetings and press conferences in person. People in many other sectors of society, including yoga studios and art classes, have figured out how to conduct their proceedings on location, while offering a distanced option for those who do not feel safe enough to participate in person. If I can take a yoga class in a studio, and then hang out at a bar until midnight, I need to be able to exercise my right to participate in civic affairs like a voting-age adult.

Maybe the capacity of the chambers should be kept to a minimum, and if there’s overflow, people who want to speak can wait their turn in the hallway or in conference room C, where they can practice social distancing and watch the proceeding in real time until they are called on. Speakers could wear masks and disinfect the microphone with a Clorox wipe when they finish their comments. We know how to do this safely by now.
But democracy has always involved a certain amount of risk. Surely it’s at least as valuable as going to a bar. 

Thank you,

Sarah Reith, KZYX reporter

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A word of thanks for the letter of advice to Joe Biden from retired Lance Corporal George Walsh from far away in Lincoln City, Oregon. He asks us to stand up for public institutions and the need for a capable and faithful firetender for America’s melting pot.

Skip a letter and we get words of advice from Jerry Philbrick who says, "Martial Law is the only way to get this country back to normal." Of course, we need to "get rid of the liberals." Oh my, what a wonderful world that would be.

Ashley Jones, Retired Lieutenant, US Naval reserves


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Editor --

About ten days ago I saw a minivan in San Anselmo with the letters "BLM" spray-painted on the rear window. I wondered why anyone would be enthusiastic about the Bureau of Land Management. Then several hours later I realized the van was advertising Black Lives Matter.

Keith Bramstedt

San Anselmo

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Dear Mr. Williams and other Supervisors, 

I am a resident of the Rancho Navarro subdivision near Navarro. I have lived there for about ten years. I am a staff engineer at SHN Consulting Engineers and Geologists. My wife is a winemaker and manager at an Anderson Valley winery. Ww have two young daughters. 

I am writing to you to bring your attention to the damages caused by some (not all) of the commercial-scale marijuana grows in my neighborhood. 

Specifically, the level of activity and traffic due to permitted and unpermitted grows is antithetical to the rural residential purpose of our community and homeowners association. 

There is an outlandish level of water truck traffic that is damaging our fragile road network. Laborers and out-of-town workers constantly cycle in and out of the community and, at times, speed through the neighborhood. 

The level of growing activity is above and beyond the typical activity of years ago. Most of the large-scale grows are not owner-occupied and are just plantations for business operations. 

I respectfully request that the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors does not allow for the increase in sizes of growing operations nor extend permit timelines. 

It seems as though, as predicted by many at the start of the County permit program, that the County will eventually just fade out of their permit program and default to State regulations. It is my sincere hope that this does not result in larger operations with even heavier impacts on my residential community. 

I know that growing marijuana for business purposes has been a livelihood in my neighborhood long before I moved in, but the trends keep getting worse and worse. It would be helpful if the County could recognize our desire to maintain a residential-first priority and assist with creating a system that doesn't treat our neighborhood just as a place to make a dollar. 

Thank you,

Kirk Vodopals 


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To The Editor:

Today was the second time I have shopped at the Ukiah Safeway and seen customers not wearing masks. Although there is a sign at the entrance saying facial covering is required, there is no store employee there to enforce the rule.

I told the fellow ringing up my purchases that I didn’t like standing behind the unmasked woman ahead of me in line. I also asked him to notify the management of the violations of the county rules. He said they already knew, but can’t stop it. I have recently been to Walmart and Costco; both stores have employees at the door to refuse entry to unmasked shoppers.

The Ukiah Valley is experiencing a surge in Covid-19 transmissions right now. I would think local businesses would be aware not only of the rules and penalties, but the danger to loyal customers and their employees of not enforcing those rules consistently. Is this the policy of Safeway stores everywhere, or just a problem with our local one?

Katherine J. Houston, 


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It is difficult to understand the decision to reopen businesses and institutions at the same time that COVID-19 cases are increasing.

Yes, the shutdown is having serious economic consequences for this region, especially given its dependence on the tourist trade. We shouldn’t neglect the fact that tourism increases the number of people coming into the county from various areas around the country and world, thus increasing the possibility of contamination and negating the efforts of locals to shutter in place.

I can’t help but wonder if on some semi-conscious level, this policy change isn’t being justified with the reasoning that the vast majority of deaths from the disease are the elderly and the poor, whose lives might be considered expendable from an economic perspective.

Tom Glynn

Santa Rosa

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Defund the police? Should be Defend the police. We need our police, our law enforcement. Black lives matter? Certainly they matter, so do white lives matter, and all the other lives matter, all lives matter. When you take one or two or three black people a month getting shot and then you have 3-5 people a day and sometimes 10 or 12 on weekends shot and killed in Chicago, all-black? Where's the black lives matter there? Not a word. Every time a police officer gets involved in an officer involved shooting there is hell to pay. Everybody starts screaming. Why aren't they screaming about Chicago? It's a joke. If we lose our police force there will be more black people killed except for the good ones than you can imagine. People will defend their homes and their businesses one way or another. And that's when the gunfire will occur if there’s no police. You don't defund the police, you defend them. 

God Bless Donald Trump.

Jerry Philbrick


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