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Letters to the Editor 8/26/2009


Dear AVA,

Rah, rah! for Dave Smith and Boo! to big-box stores that are destroying our counties from coast to coast.

This latest ballot initiative Measure A is a tactic that has been tried before, trying to win by any means necessary.

I have faith in the intelligence of our citizens. I don't think they will swallow this latest propaganda.

I have found that consuming less has enabled me to shop locally. Twist, in Mendocino Village, carries clothing for men, women and children of good quality at certified fair trade prices. For gifts there is an abundance locally whether on the Coast or in Boonville.

In our consumer oriented society it can take some concentrated effort to wean ourselves from big-box and dollar store mentalities, yet it is so worthwhile!

By buying less and locally better quality items that are really needed we could save our County, our neighbors and ourselves.

Best wishes,

Trixie Stubbs
Little River

Editor Zard,

Holy Dickens, here's some Charles Dickens:

“Your banknotes had a musty odour as if they were fast decomposing into rags again.”

“The tradesigns (and there were almost as many as the shops), were, all, grim illustrations of Want.”

“When they took a young man into Tellson's London house, they hid him somewhere till he was old. They kept him in a dark place like a cheese until he had the full Tellson flavour and a blue mould upon him.”

Cheers to Charles and cheers to the AVA as the sun breaks across the Fort Bragg High School terracotta buildings that once, with the ravens, reposed in shade.

Yours with more dead trees,

Detective Diana Wood Duck, DDWDD
Diana Vance


Dear Editor,

Allow me to comment on the sexual predator Clint Smith. As a retired teacher and step-father to two now grown young women, I have special insights into this situation. The exploitation of young girls is a major local, societal, and worldwide problem. Locally, it most often takes the form of young men in their 20s preying on younger girls in their early teens. The girls are often more mature than their male classmates and are vulnerable to the older guys who can offer money, a car, an apartment, drugs, and alcohol. The girls bring their bodies to the relationship. The guys are usually of the hang around variety who didn't go off to college, are late in maturing, and may have trouble getting a girl friend their own age. Thus, while there is a lot of exploitation involved, the attraction is not necessarily abnormal.

The case of Clint Smith, a 38-year old married teacher, is uniquely different. All teachers, particularly those working in a small alternative school setting like the Willits Charter School, are in a position to form close relationships with students. It should take the form of a surrogate parent and often builds a lot of trust wth the student. The actions of Clint Smith in sexually taking advantage of his student in these circumstances is comparable to committing incest. The seriousness of his crime is compounded by the fact that all teachers are well informed on the extensive research on brain development in recent years. The research has established that different parts of the brain mature at different stages in the growing youngster. The last part to mature, at some time in the mid-20s, is the frontal cortex. This is the part of the brain used to make judgmental decisions and most of us can look back on our own youth for validation of this finding. Clint Smith was fully aware that his young student was not capable of making a sound judgement about whether to have sex with him. He has damaged her for life, and she is probably not his only victim. Clint Smith is a perverted predator who is a threat to society and should be going to prison for his crimes.

As for those noble supporters in the courtroom, it is worth noting that the act of forgiveness is perhaps the highest of all human virtues. However, it is possible to forgive while still holding the criminal accountable for his crimes that have damaged another person and endangered society. How ironic that the organization responsible for helping Clint Smith refine his ethical values, namely the Willits branch of The Latter Day Saints, seemed more concerned about Clint then the welfare of the victim. There must be a valid truth to the old joke about the great Mormon leader Bring “em Young.

Don Cruser
Little River


To: Mendocino County Board Of Supervisors/Fort Bragg Meeting, Town Hall, August 18 2009

Re: Analysis Of H&HSC August 10, 2009, Meeting On Collectives And Cooperatives Instead Of A 9.31 Review.

Representing MMMAB, I was under the impression that the Health & Human Services sub-committee meeting August 10 would wrap up the 9.31 Review, ordered by Supervisor Pinches on the existing ordinance, followed by examining the question of collectives and cooperatives with an intent to craft a separate stand-alone ordinance. We would start from scratch to hammer out regulations concerning associations of patients growing collectively or cooperatively.

That's why when we arrived at the August 10th H&HSC meeting chaired by Supervisor John McCowen and saw the agenda was focused on collectives/cooperatives and were handed a draft ordinance with new strike-outs and add-ons we'd never seen before that we realized that the ongoing problem of a sneaky process had raised its head once again.

Only MMMAB members, represented by Tom Davenport and myself, plus Sheila Dawn and Beth Bosk, resisted the process of keeping people in the dark until the last minute and grafting the question of collectives and cooperatives inappropriately onto the nuisance ordinance.

There was also the problem of some members of the medical cannabis community being willing to go along because of the importance of finally addressing the question of regulation of collectives and cooperatives, which is the way the majority of gardens are organized these days.

Sheriff Allman's Guidelines, incomplete and misleading if not illegal, only deal with individual patients, not associations of patients organized collectively and cooperatively. That gives the Sheriff's Office the option of complaining about non-compliance and harrassing the majority of gardens, which have long ago gone beyond the point of single patients or single primary caregivers growing for a single patient.

Under the California Attorney General Guidelines, issued August 2008, associations of people organized collectively or cooperatively are legal under Senate Bill 420. They remain assumed to be illegal under local policy guidelines. Isn't that good enough reason to oppose the rush job being foisted on us by McCowen and company?

MMMAB steering committee member Tom Davenport summarized the problem: “No other California jurisdiction that we are aware of has regulation of medical marijuana, dispensaries or collectives and co-operatives linked to a public nuisance ordinance as an enforcement mechanism.”

I tried to express my point of view that this controversial issue needed a series of hearings, public input and proper notice but was denied the time to speak about the underhanded rush job and morphed agenda being facilitated by McCowen. Like a broken record he remarked: “We're not going to discuss that. It's been decided.” By whom, we might ask?

Supervisor Pinches had previously expressed to MMMAB members that he was opposed to the agenda going beyond his 9.31 Review of how the law had played out in practice. Since the law has nothing in it about collectives and cooperatives, they were irrelevant as part of the Review.

Attorney Hannah Nelson complained to McCowen about the draft ordinance not being properly noticed to the public, giving us no time to study and comment on the dozens of fine points swirling with controversy. Sheila Dawn Tracy brought her research about the arbitrariness of school bus stops to share with the meeting and was finally able to get past McCowen's roadblocks by protesting his way of handling the meeting that wasn't allowing us to speak about process. McCowen later apologized to Sheila for his boorish behavior (without using that word). Beth Bosk has made her position clear: she opposes putting medical cannabis in the nuisance ordinance because it is not, by nature, a nuisance.

And so life goes on with Mendocino County Supervisors, without transparency, without accountability, without democracy.

Pebbles Trippet
Secretary, Mendocino Medical Marijuana Advisory Board
Fort Bragg



“A slick mailer from Developers Diversified Reality (DDR) claims going through the planning process in Mendocino County is more difficult than climbing Mount Everest. But the 'facts' in the mailer don't add up,” according to Guinness McFadden, spokesperson for Save Our Local Economy, a local group formed to oppose Measure A. Measure A would rezone the Masonite site and approve an 800,000 square foot project without any further local review or oversight.

“This out of state corporation has already spent over $300,000 to convince us to rezone the property for their benefit. But Mendocino County voters aren't going to be tricked by these monied interests to vote for a project that only benefits DDR, at the expense of local taxpayers,” stated McFadden. “This latest mailer has more false claims and misrepresentations than you can shake a stick at,” said McFadden.

“DDR claims the planning process has no end, but the facts are DDR never came to the starting line,” said McFadden. In response to DDR's last incomplete application in August 2008, County planning staff wrote “the application is incomplete for processing without further clarification, documentation, and many other technical reasons too detailed to discuss at this writing.”

“DDR can't plausibly claim the process does not work when they failed to go through the process,” added McFadden.

“DDR's flyer claims 'State law will ensure all required environmental studies be completed if Measure A passes,' yet DDR knows their initiative process bypasses all of the environmental reviews normally required by the CEQA process. This sneaky use of language to create false impressions has been their style from the beginning,” said McFadden.

The flyer also claims a local citizens group “convinced DDR to take their proposal to the ballot box,” but the so-called local group receives 99% of its funding from DDR and out of town attorneys are it’s officers.

According to McFadden, “A wise man once said, you are entitled to your own opinions, but you are not entitled to your own facts. Putting manufactured facts on a $1 million mailer is an insult to the voters of Mendocino County. Once the voters understand the true facts of Measure A they will reject this cynical effort to fool the people of Mendocino County.”

Cliff Paulin



Last weekend we got a glimpse of what can happen when fires are started on the beach. It was quite scary as the fire sped up the hill towards two houses. I have not heard the condition of the houses, but this is why we have NO FIRES on the beach. I do not know for sure, but I was told that it was started by tourists wanting to have a fire on the beach. Well, they sure got one.

Our firefighters did a fantastic job. I at one time counted 33 firefighters on the beach and on the hill and bluff. I am sure there were more there that I could not see, but if you see any of them, be sure to thank them. There were planes dropping fire retardant which did an amazing job at stopping the fire on the hill and a chopper with a bucket dropping water on the driftwood pile.

It is after 10pm as I write this and the driftwood pile looks like a giant Weber bbq. The fire department will be there all night and probably all day tomorrow.

Lu Vickery


To the Board of Supervisors

Five laid-off Deputy positions. Two from the Covelo area. Are you kidding me? Have you seen the clips on just the Buckhorn Bar by “allanjustallan”? Our overtime pay, COLA raises, holiday bank Comp Time Off etc. is not enough of a concession?

And, now we are trying to double up in our vehicles when possible to save on mileage, which actually cuts service and extends response times. Who's going to investigate and remove the deceased?

Let's see we work 24/7, weekends and holidays, both national and personal. We walk through (face) blood, spit, urine, defecation, physical assaults, lawsuits, lawyers, judges and other elected officials (daily), and then 12 jurors. And now we’re faced with the “Board of Supervisors and our own Sheriff.”

When every other office of this government and other private services are closed, by the way, around 5pm Monday-Friday (or Monday-Thursday), the Deputies are still working. Why can't we do Mandatory Time Off? Because then there would be “NO ONE” out here cleaning up the carnage. Emergencies do not happen on a schedule: Suicides, murders, rape, theft, vandalism, lost children/adults, stalkers, parolees/probationers, gang members, marijuana growers/druggies, accidents, deaths, public events, bars, domestic violence etc.

We perform these duties round the clock while trying to avoid: MRSA (medically resistant staff infections), HIV, hepatitis, flu, and other personal weapons of assailants (guns, knives, swords, chainsaws, rocks, clubs, baseball bats, etc).

So let's ask the question: Who you going to call? I think we should call the Board Of Supervisors at their private homes and wake them up to come out and help. Oh, that's right — only Deputies get those calls.

By the way, have a great Labor Day weekend. Our Deputies will be working for you. Please feel free to contact your Board of Supervisors and individual Supervisor and voice your opinion. Remember they are elected officials who work for us.

Mike Tobin (USN Retired), Deputy Sheriff
Brooktrails, Willits


To The Editor:

What It Means To Buy Local—

Over the past 50 years, the expansion of national businesses into local domestic markets with Big Box Stores, Chain Stores, Franchises and Monster Malls has diverted and redirected local circulating money to centralized corporate coffers. There it is spent on large capital outlays, national advertising, overseas goods, executive salaries, loan repayments, and dividends to Wall Street investors. This interception of funds has depleted local towns and cities across our nation of an important source of funds: recirculated income.

To draw attention to this problem and save their small, locally-owned businesses, towns and cities have instituted Buy Local campaigns. They have been somewhat successful, so the giant international corporations are using big bucks propaganda campaigns to claim they are “local” businesses.

One of the world's largest international banks is now claiming to be “The World's Local Bank” and Lay's Potato Chips is seizing on citizen's desire for locally-grown food with a “Lay's Local” advertising campaign!

And, sure enough, the Masonite Monster Mall folks are also claiming that passing Measure A will be supporting Buy Local. Ha! Because they say it does not make it so! The Monster Mall can mail a million pamphlets, and make a million local phone calls, but the Masonite Monster Mall and Measure A is the antithesis of buying local and will sweep up even more of our money and send it elsewhere.

Buying groceries at Ukiah Natural Foods Cooperative, locally-owned by its members, is buying local. Buying them at the Lucky chain-store, headquartered in Idaho and owned by investors on the New York Stock Exchange, is not buying local.

Buying a beer at the Ukiah Brewpub, owned and operated by the local Cooperrider family, is buying local. Buying a beer at the Applebee's chain, headquartered in Kansas, and owned by public investors all over the world, is not buying local.

Buying a sack of potatoes from a local organic farmer at the Farmer's Market is buying local. Buying french fries at McDonald's, headquartered in Illinois, exports precious dollars to Oak Brook, and then on to parts unknown, and is not buying local.

Buying from locally owned businesses keeps money circulating closer to where we spend it. This creates a ripple effect as our locally-owned businesses and their employees in turn re-spend our money locally. The more local money is spent locally, the more local jobs, local entrepreneurial businesses, and our community's prosperity are created.

Thank you for voting NO ON MEASURE A to preserve our unique, locally-owned businesses and neighborly small town values.

Dave Smith


Dear Bruce,

It seems that the Republicans have swung public opinion against health care reform to a significant degree. They have done it by lying. How can they tell such lies, knowing full well that they are telling lies? They can do it because they expect to get away with it. They have experienced eight years of Bush and his cohorts telling lies and getting away with it. The majority of Americans are not only not thinking rationally, they are not even thinking. fPolitical propaganda only ceases to weork if and when people see it is propaganda. And as it has been said, people get the government they deserve.

Lee Simon
from Far 'N Away Farm



How the AVUSD shepherds its flock—

I was slack-jawed to learn last week of how a member of our community, a teacher of special education in our schools, has been treated by the Anderson Valley Unified School District (AVUSD).

I start by saying that I realize none of this would have occurred had it not been for the California budget debacle which resulted in severe funding cuts for our schools. I also fully realize and respect how hard it is for the school administrators to implement the necessary belt tightening by having to eliminate some positions.

However, none of the above condones the way in which Sarah Cornsweet, the special education teacher in question, has been treated. She was advised by certified mail two days before her new work year begins, that in fact her permanent position has been eliminated. The “form letter” written entirely in legal speak, regrets the fact that her permanent position no longer exists, but goes on — ever so generously — to offer her the same job on a temporary basis, which essentially gives her no job security at all.

Ms. Cornsweet, a well respected teacher both among her fellow teachers, and by students and parents, who has been tenured for two years and whose work has been appreciated by all, is now suddenly, without so much as a personal phone call or letter explaining why it all had to happen, having the rug pulled out from under her and being offered temporary work.

Hallo? This is a person we’re talking about, and not a number on a balance sheet.

I have spent a considerable amount of time working as an aide in Ms. Cornsweet’s classroom over the last four years. I know many of her students and have watched their progress under her guidance. Had this happened in a city where other employment opportunities abound, it would still be disrespectful and totally inconsiderate, but this is Anderson Valley, where we have a close knit community and very few employment opportunities. The school district is the largest employer in the valley I believe, and I think it is an appalling example of employee treatment that should not go unnoticed.

People with children who have benefited in any way from special ed programs know how essential these teachers are, and how challenging their task is. It’s bad enough for any of our students to have abrupt teacher changes. But it’s way harder for any youngster who is helped by special ed programs. At the end of the last school year, a team of teachers, union representatives and administrators and board members went through days of negotiations (unpaid) on how to keep the special ed position in place, and they reached an agreement which was supposed to secure Ms. Cornsweet’s job.

How the powers that be can pull off something like this at the 11th hour is beyond me. It is both disrespectful of the rest of the teaching staff and the negotiating team who worked on coming up with a compromise, and a despicable way of treating a hard working member of their staff. The teaching profession deserves way more respect than it gets. The future success of the young is dependent on their guidance. Whilst the damage is already done, I sincerely hope that the AVUSD learns from this fiasco and doesn’t ever repeat this kind of behavior.

Pippa Thomas



The recent letter from a forest service worker in Covelo describing the drug cartels’ occupation of the Mendopia National Forest was right on target.

He rightly blamed negligent public agencies and distracted politicians, but failed to admit that the environmental “community” shares some of the blame.

Pot growing on the National Forest, a minor problem in the past, has rapidly accelerated in the last ten years causing extensive environmental damage including toxic pollution, wildlife depredation, illegal clearcutting, bulldozing, and massive water diversions.

But “public” criticism of the sacred cow pot industry by enviros is a taboo subject in Mendopia due to the persistent myth that pot growers support and generously fund environmental causes. The politically correct litany tags pot growers as revolutionary, green, good guys and traditional agriculturalists as good old boy bad guys. Lacking significant resistance from local enviros, the pot industry has run amok.

When enviros planned a symposium in Willits to discuss the growing problem of illegal water diversions in the County, paranoid potsters aggressively complained (anonymously, of course) that the pot industry was being unfairly targeted and demanded that the symposium be canceled even though publicity for the event did not mention “marijuana.”

The pot industry is a vertically, horizontally, and diagonally integrated monolith. The drug cartels are just the tip of the iceberg.

The potsters apparently think that collateral damage caused by their industry is an acceptable trade-off to allow them to make huge profits while healing the world with their miraculous product.

A chilling climate of fear pervades Mendopia and many people, including enviros, refrain from publicly criticizing the pot industry because they don't want to kill the goose that laid the golden doobie.

Don Morris
Skunktown, aka Willits

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