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Letters (July 8, 2020)

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It's the Fourth of July, 2020, America's Independence Day. In my Wisconsin town, the fireworks have been cancelled due to coronavirus, but I'm fine with that. It's not really about pyrotechnics and parades and politicians. My feeling for America runs damned deep, but it's personal, and there's lots more to it than fireworks or waving a flag.

This year's Fourth of July seems different — and in a good way. Do you feel it? Sure, we have a brain-dead anti-President in the White House, ignoring countless enormous problems, and doing his damnedest to make things worse. But for the first time since I don't know when, there are also signs that America might be coming closer to its ideals.

We've always been told that we're all created equal, but the law has always left some of us behind. It's thrilling to see people gathering by the thousands to demand the equality we've been promised.

This spring I've walked with protesters on a couple of afternoons, and we're in a profoundly patriotic moment. What could be more American than wanting liberty and justice for all?

To everyone on the streets speaking up for that principle, I say ’Thank you for your service.’ And to everyone who's opposed, I say cordially, ‘Bite my big one.’ Let's make America greater than she's ever been.

Doug Cotton

Madison, Wisconsin

PS. When the AVA comes in the mail every week, I stash it in my bathroom. When I'm constipated the papers are quickly read, but for an old man I've been real regular lately, so I'm running a few weeks behind on my AVAs, sorry.

Anyway, I'm reading a little filler-blurb at the bottom of page 6, June 17 2020, and I'm thinking it's OK but not really up to snuff for the fine Anderson Valley Advertiser. Also, it sounds vaguely familiar. And then about 2/3 of the way through, I glance at the byline and it's by me, from 1998. Sheesh. Readers deserve better than me. Raise your standards.

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To the editor:

My my! I understand that the wobblies hav taken down our statue of Christopher Columbus from Knob Hill in San Francisco. I'm not sure. I don't remember "Chris" as being touted as a slave trader. I think he was noted somewhere in history as doing something else. Not sure?

Also reported, George Washington, father of our country, was torn down in Washington DC. Apparently George Washington was or is not the father for all. I.e. wobblies excluded. Just a few real Americans!

For those of you who are at unrest/unhappy with things today, pack up your stuff and relocate to those countries your grandparents originated from. I'm sure you can find a few wobblies of your ilk in your newfound utopia.

Leave my/our great/imperfect United States alone with all its imperfections and faults. I/we can live with them! As is! You don't have to. Godspeed!

In closing, don't expect any more aid, you have lied, cheated and milked from our imperfect system enough. Enough is enough!

There are a very few of us who may miss you. Perhaps it could be misunderstood as a warning shot? But then I doubt it!

God bless America, The Donald, Jerry Philbrick.

Had it up to here! White lives matter too! 

One old true mad American


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It’s entirely understandable that manicurists and fitness trainers welcomed the reinstated ability to make a living. I wish them health and prosperity. But I also wish I could attend a local government meeting in person, so that my fellow citizens and I could participate meaningfully in our democracy again.

Issues facing the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors include a budget, a courtroom and a civilian review board. Only those of us with perfect internet and telephone service, as well as the personal communications equipment to use them, are able to participate in the public process.

This indicates an alarming set of cultural priorities. If we are willing to accept the risk of going to a gym, getting our nails done and shopping to our hearts’ content, we need to strategize a way to participate as thinking, voting-age adults in our democracy and then accept the remaining risks of doing so.

Democracy has never been perfect. It has never been completely risk free. But we cannot allow health and safety to become paternalistic euphemisms for denying us the fundamental right of participating in the decisions that affect all of us.

Democracy by Zoom isn’t democracy.

Sarah Reith


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Dear Readers:

What's the name of that hot chick in the movie Suicide Squad? You know, the one who carries the baseball bat?

The reason I ask is that I have an ex who resembles her. Maybe not as hot, but certainly the same level and category of crazy as the hot chick in the movie!

My ex, the wonderful Miss Cristal Hoyt, from Fort Bragg, managed to hack one of my facebook accounts and under the guise of being me, she sent an onslaught of extremely disgusting messages to most of the people on my friends list.

So it is with my heartfelt and sincere apologies to all those affected and subjected to these messages. I can assume the readers and friends of mine know that between my incarceration in Las Vegas and Lake County, I have not communicated with anyone on this particular facebook since early 2018.

Moving on. There isn't much I can express that hasn't already been said in the pages of your wonderful publication. My prayers to all those affected by the virus. To Walter Miller who received a raw deal out of Mendocino County, stay strong my homeboy and know that every dog has its day! To my old buddy Flynn Washburne whose copious use of archaic words leaves me feeling as if I will never stand a chance of beating him in Scrabble, I have been cheering for Flynn since day one and will continue to do so.

Most important, to the underdogs, the inmates and the convicted, the judged, the addicts, the homeless and the poor. To all those who continue to be denied a place at the table, I love you with all of my heart! Be strong and one day I promise to see all of you at the table.

As for yours truly? I am tucked away in the Lake County Jail fighting a charge of pistol whipping a man in The Oaks. Absurd, I'm sure, to all those who know me to be an advocate of peace and all things warm and fuzzy!

All my best,

Alan Sonny Crow

Lake County Jail

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I have lived in Fort Bragg most of my 65 years. My family is from here (on my mother’s side).

I went to school in Mendocino, because we lived in Caspar. Our residence was less than one mile from FBUSD.

I was a police officer for close to 12 years, in Fort Bragg, I was also a fireman for 17 years, making rank of lieutenant.

During the devastation of the arson fires in Fort Bragg, I was the investigator in charge, working with ATF. Later I drove a truck for Baxman Gravel (a Fort Bragg company) for 16 years

I do not believe anything is gained by wiping out history and that includes bad history.

If you choose to allow a vote for a name change, I would like to remind you that voters inside the city limits are not the only ones affected by this decision. The USPS and the California DMV show many more voters have a Fort Bragg address, and should be heard and have a vote. I live two and one-half miles out Simpson Lane, Fort Bragg, and spend money every day inside the city limits, and I’m not the only one.

If citizens with Fort Bragg addresses must live with a name change, then the City of Fort Bragg must reimburse each and every one of us for all legal documents, including DMV, bank, medical, etc.

I also think many business owners that live outside the city limits would like a vote.

Les Pierce

Fort Bragg

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To the Editor,

I read the June 17 Anderson Valley Advertiser. My heart went out to the prisoners at San Quentin. I remember being in the same section in 1992, a 4 foot wide cell by 9 feet. Yikes. Back in 1992 people could still smoke. I remember being trapped on the fourth tier breathing everyone's smoke. 28 years later, no television, no radio, two to a cell. 

I'm in a mental facility called EOP, enhanced outpatient program.

The AVA is my eyes and ears on the world. I have eight years to go on my sentence. They have a television but I can barely see it from my cell, essentially 1 inch tall by 1.5 inches wide and it’s turned up full blast. You can't see it at all about half the time when because people get tired of yelling to each other or the chaotic screaming of the select few who are truly nuts, Even then you are barely able to make out what is being said as I peek out a half-inch diameter hole in the door. Then they're yelling to have the TV turned off. 

I won a new trial in 1992. The department of corrections just got duped. There was a new rule, AB 1987 and SB 651 section 483 in 2017 where attempts have to be made to keep records for all prisoners sentences. In 1993 I wrote to attorneys asking if it applied to Columbus Day, October 1990. I received no answers of course. So I assumed it wasn't an issue. So I forgot about it. 

The district attorney claimed I had no alibi. By the time I got to the bank it was closed. I knew something was wrong. The next year Columbus Day was on a different day. Anyway, 2018 rolls around and Columbus Day fell on October 8 again. So I wrote to attorneys who don't bother to write back. I threatened to murder them and they cowardly sniveled to the prison administration. 

Then I went to the prison counselor and put on the hat of the liar judges, liar attorneys, liar prosecutors and I joined the club. I lied to the counselor about why in 1993 they wanted to counselor mail? Did they want no attorney mail? So the counselor downloaded a 1993 letter about an attorney being censured. 

I was accused by the claimed victim of being a cop. I am not. I was associated with one in reality. So I was accused based on simple paranoid fear that I would cause the arrest of a dope fiend. That and an exculpatory photo would all subsequently come up missing. It was all described in the letter of 1993. I got a collection of investigative reports and none of it made a bit of sense. 

Then in 1995 the Department of Corrections downloaded that letter. In 2020 using their new electronic file system the investigative reports stated started making sense.

In 1998 at a sanity trial a district attorney made up a story that I had no right to an attorney client privilege, defrauding the court. The letter in question was then made available by the Department of Corrections or a prosecutor. I had nothing to do with calling myself 1368 mentally incompetent and therefore I am eligible to be re-sentenced. But the suspicious letter to the court came up missing from evidence. But it had been made available. So they searched the district attorney's files and found 18 defense attorney envelopes that once had letters, all freshly torn off.

It wasn't the smoking gun. There were no letters. 

Here we are now in 2020 and the Department of Corrections has downloaded the letters that were in the district attorney's files. Having no way to look forward to being innocent in prison, all the pieces now fall into place. I filed a suit in 1992 without evidence. It was dismissed without prejudice to refile my $30 million in stolen attorney mail that I had no evidence for. I was able to re-file if my conviction was overturned. Now I have evidence. I'm now trying to write a writ. It calls for dismissal of the case based upon the law. 

My eyes traveled to the last letter to the editor that week about Mendocino County's wildlife services deal.

Creeps killing wildlife. I don't know what I'm missing on television. I hear of riots but in my opinion the world needs me out. I’d love to make a few traps for the US Department of Agriculture's wildlife agents to wander into. 26,441 native wild animals chewing off their limbs to escape the snares and left to die horrifying deaths. I love animals. I would give an eye tooth see how many they really kill. Maybe I truly belong in prison. I wouldn't be burning buildings. Hawks and owels and dogs and family pets being killed? That's sad. Remember to sign theor petitionplease. And send them to me and I will send them on with my own nasty letter.

Jeff Harnden, 

H-31120 / DI-129

CSP Los Angeles

PO Box 4450

Lancaster, CA 93539

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To the Editor:

Remember Measure “AF,” the 2016 voter initiative that would have opened almost every area in Mendocino County to commercial cannabis operations? AF was defeated by a wide margin in every Supervisorial District.

Though County voters supported legalization, they didn’t want cannabis to be the next “gold rush” at the expense of the County’s environment – our open spaces, unpolluted night skies, shared rural values, or the health of the County’s wildlife and the survival of salmon and steelhead in our streams.

In the wake of the AF defeat, the Board of Supervisors spent a year crafting a County Ordinance that went a long way to accomplishing just that – legalization, but with strong environmental protections. The Ordinance gave existing local growers a head start in the permit process, and in most cases the ability to continue to operate where they were, regardless of the zoning district. It also provided a path to legalization for new growers willing to stay small and be protective of the environment.

In these last three years the County Cannabis Unit, now at the Planning and Building Department, has issued about 300 permits. At the same time the Department has happily accepted close to a thousand more non-refundable application fees, in many cases in blatant violation of basic parameters of the Ordinance, and given the applicants a green light to operate while their applications are “under review.”

Now, Supervisor McCowen wants to throw out the Ordinance. “It isn’t working,” he says. Instead, he wants to “mirror” the State’s regulations, and leave environmental review to the discretion of Planning Department’s Cannabis Unit. That’s “code” for opening the County’s rangelands and other restricted zones to new cultivation; allowing unlimited permits per parcel; and allowing cultivation acreage to grow right along with whatever the State’s allows.

Those approximately 300 growers who actually did get their permits, abided by the Ordinance, value small, craft operations, and are paying their fees and taxes are ironically the likely casualties of the McCowen plan, along with the County’s natural environment.The McCowen plan gets rid of the pesky restrictions of the Ordinance and rolls out the welcome mat to the short-term, big-time operators wanting to cash in on the “Mendo-grown” name. To quote one such out-of-county hopeful, “We would hate to see other counties expand and loosen California cannabis regulations, while Mendocino gets left behind.”

If you support the goals of our existing Ordinance and are sick of non-enforcement, let the Supervisors know that you oppose this secretive end-run around the will of the people. The Supervisors will take up this critical issue at their Thurs. July, 21st meeting, (despite barriers to public participation!) Send written comments to

Then, please register to “telecomment” at the County’s website before the day of the meeting in order to speak to the Board on that day. If you’re unsure of the process, call the Clerk of the Board, at 463-4221, and ask for specific instructions. “See” you there. Thank you.

Ellen Drell



SO ELLEN DRELL of the Willits Environmental Center opposes Supervisor John McCowen’s tentative proposal to “streamline” the County’s ridiculously failed and overcomplex pot cultivation ordinance mainly on grounds that it hasn’t been enforced, especially for “provisional” permit holders, and that McCowen’s plan would (according to Drell) “open the County’s rangelands and other restricted zones to new cultivation.” 

FIRST: There is no “McCowen plan.” There’s just his brief informal mention of it as a concept at a prior Supes meeting. Drell’s letter is a pre-emptive attempt to derail it before it’s even available for public review. 

SECOND: We have not seen any evidence of “provisional” pot permit holders doing any more environmental damage than regular permit holders. The big, remote outlaw growers are the main enviromental problem.

THIRD: McCowen isn’t likely to significantly change the zoning restrictions. From what he’s said so far, the current pot zoning is not part of his “streamlining” proposal. McCowen hasn’t said anything about “opening the County’s rangelands and other restricted zones to new cultivation.” And given McCowen’s record on pot we seriously doubt he’d support it now. Hence, the zoning restrictions about where and how big growers can grow will remain in place, as they should. In fact, in some areas — Rancho Navarro comes immediately to mind — the zoning restrictions should be increased. 

MS. DRELL says the Mendocino public wants to protect “our open spaces, unpolluted night skies, shared rural values, and the health of the County’s wildlife and the survival of salmon and steelhead in our streams.” 


SO where has Ms. Drell and the Willits Enviromental Center been on the huge enviromental damage caused by grapes? (Not to mention the destruction of our night-time peace and quiet which is ruined by dozens of huge vineyard fans.) Talk about being “sick of non-enforcement”! Even that outrageous land-scraping that got Mr. Rhys a multi-million dollar fine for clearcutting rangeland to plant another vineyard last year didn’t result in any requirement to restore the damaged land. And that was a no-brainer of a violation. To an outside techno-billionaire like him a few million dollars in fines is less than a slap on the wrist. And while the grape horde’s major damage is done by outside mega-bucks, Ms. Drell is worried about outside mega-bucks for pot? 

McCOWEN’S LONG OVERDUE proposal could bring more pot growers into a regulatory regime too. Either way, though, the large outlaw growers in the north County don’t care what Mendo’s pot policy is. If Ms. Drell is really interested in “our open spaces, unpolluted night skies, shared rural values, and the health of the County’s wildlife and the survival of salmon and steelhead in our streams,” she should pay at least some attention to grapes and advocate for more enforcement of those blatant outlaw grows before she starts arguing with the “McCowen Plan” which hasn’t even seen the light of day yet. 

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"Reopening" has created a predictable – and completely preventable – coronavirus resurgence. Low income people desperate to pay for food and rent are forced to go to deadly virus-saturated jobs. Further, as the poor have had their hours and wages cut, the rich accumulate. According to Forbes, the net worth of the 600-plus U.S. billionaires has increased 15% to $3.4 trillion during the pandemic.

As even some rich people are starting to say, this pandemic cries out for a wealth tax. It is despicable to force working people to risk their lives to survive simply because they are poor. Billionaires should be taxed a small amount of their income and the revenue used to pay low income people so they can self-isolate, and small business owners so that their businesses - and jobs - will still exist when danger has past. This would not just protect the poor. It would protect us all as people stay home and "flatten the curve". It would also protect the economy from further tidal waves of bankruptcies, unemployment, and misery. It would hurt no one and help millions.

We know Trump and Republicans won't even consider the idea, but what do Biden, Pelosi and the Democrats say? Silence as usual. Despicable.

Emily R. Feldman

San Francisco

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Larry Bensky has gone too far. Coyote puppies and nursing bear mothers my rear end! Has he forgotten Timothy Treadwell? They found his and his girlfriend’s remains in the bear’s stomach. As for coyote puppies -- just ask my neighbor about her cats and chickens.

So what is Mr. Bensky's thing? Does he “murder” cows when he eats hamburgers? I'll bet he likes chicken. Just think of all those baby chickens. But then again he could be a vegetarian and enjoy killing plants. No wonder Bensky lost his job in the KPFA purges.

Yours Truly, 

George Miller


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When I watch TV now I vomit every 15 minutes watching the scumbag protesters and stupid liberal people acting up like that. Black lives matter? What's the matter with all lives matter? That doesn't fit in with the liberal media. I'm waiting for a few white people to get killed prominently and then see what lives matter.

Portland, Seattle, Washington DC, all over, people killed in Chicago maybe 17 or 18 per weekend. Black lies matter, yeah. White lives matter too, Mr. Whoeverthoughtthisup. Don't forget that!

San Francisco is harboring a fugitive murderer they can't find because of the sanctuary area, a convicted murderer who murdered two people who jumps around San Francisco and they can't find him. Very nice. Gavin Newsom would be applauding that I'm sure.

The gentleman who wrote the little article condemning everything I do and say: you are probably one of the biggest scumbags in the country, you might have worked for MRC or LP, but you were probably a low-paid store sweeper. Violated everything in the Union. The kind of person we don't need in this country. Good riddance to you.

I wish Donald Trump would call martial law in these cities and get rid of these rotten stinking protesters.

God bless Donald Trump.

Jerry Philbrick


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To the Editor:

The need for the Wildlife Service Contract cannot be understated.

Some people would have you believe this is just about killing problem animals. This is totally false. This service is provided by the county for all businesses and residents to use in case of issues with wild animals damaging property/killing of domestic pets as well as livestock.

We live in a rural and sparsely populated area of the state. There are bound to be times when there will be a bad encounter with the wildlife that lives in the area. That is when we need the help of the Wildlife Service people. These trained individuals can provide welcome insight on reducing/eliminating these unfortunate encounters.

These encounters with wildlife can be fatal to not only domestic animals, ranch livestock but to humans as well. Let’s not forget about destruction of private property too. There may be many reasons that some encounters with wildlife are deadly such as Rabies, hunger, injuries, age, sickness, lack of prey and don’t forget overpopulation. These animals are reproducing most likely every year and this causes stress on their food supply and hunting territories. Some try to shame us to believe that we have some moral/humane mental lapse for wanting to protect our property and animals. This is not so. We value wildlife, just not to the point that they can destroy our pets and property. Wild animals that have loss the fear of humans can be a danger. Just look at some the attacks on humans by wild animals to the south of us.

Would it not be more humane to have professionals help you assess what the problem is and provide counsel/support or action to resolve the issue? That seems far more humane then having people take matter into their own hands and just destroy/injure every animal they feel could harm their property or animals.

This service is essential for business and property owners. Some have made references that it cost the county money and is a waste or worse, fees should be charged for this service. Well let’s see, we have local law enforcement for all in the county to use if needed for crimes against property and person. Thank goodness they don’t charge fees for their very important services to us all. Shouldn’t we also have a service available to us when wildlife is damaging property or killing our domesticated animals?

The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors saw a real need for this service in our county and I applaud those supervisors that with stood the push by people who believe all wildlife should be protected regardless of the damage that it may cause. We will all be safer with the help of these professionals when it comes time to deal with aggressive/dangerous wildlife. Let’s hope we don’t need to use the service, but it’s good to have them available.

Dale Briggs


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The Fourth of July—

 I am protesting the Fourth of July this year. I do not feel comfortable watching fireworks, drinking beer, visiting with friends, exercising white privilege, and "having fun" when the man who is supposed to be the leader of our country is actually a threat to the free world, when my Native brothers and sisters are under attack from Washington, when racial and social injustice are rampant in our country, and when a terrifying real life version of The Emperor's New Clothes is playing daily in the White House. 

It's been a long time since I've imbibed beer, or anything alcoholic actually, but I used to love the Fourth of July and celebrated with a vengeance. We lived in Racine on the parade route back in the late sixties and early seventies and we PARTIED. Racine was famous for its parade and we were infamous for our parties. 

Back then my kids were little, my friends and I were active in the Civil Rights movement, and hope was in the air. I had hope for the promise of our country. I had hope for racial and social justice in our lifetime.

But that hope has been dashed. Trampled underfoot by greed, power hungry politicians, unscrupulous corporate types, ignorance, and indifference. 

The work is so far from over and, fortunately, there are many young warriors fighting the good fight. I do not believe it's time to give up. It is not time to quit. It 's time to do some serious soul searching, some hard thinking, some hard work. I'm old now, but I'm not done, and don't plan to be until I draw my last breath. 

So this is my personal Fourth of July proclamation: I am not going to stand by and watch this abuse of power, this hatred, this racism without doing what ever I can to stand against it and find a better way. I am small and relatively powerless, but if those of us who believe in racial, social, and environmental justice and living in a good way, as described by Anishinaabeg teachings, continue to join together, I think we will find great strength. We are all connected.

As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality."

I see this Fourth of July as a day of mourning, but I also see it as a day of hope.

Carol Ann Amour

San Francisco


  1. Noel Manners July 12, 2020

    Re; 20/20 hindsight/ Drell and Scaramella and The NEW NEW Goldrush
    There were some very strange bedfellows arrayed against measure AF in 2016.
    Bruce Anderson and Mike Sweeney, John McCowen, Ellen Drell, Mark Scaramella, Ross Liberty, Carre Brown, Blacktail Deer Gunners, Mendocino Environmental Center, Willits Environmental Center, County Trapper “DeadDog Brenner”, The Mendocino County Farm Bureau and more.
    In a nutshell, Measure AF would have prohibited Mendocino County from imposing additional regulations and restrictions on Cannabis Cultivation beyond the already onerous State of California requirements.
    As Scaramella noted, none of the above had any problem with grapes….
    Full disclosure; I was a sponsor of Measure AF and gathered signatures to place it on the ballot.

  2. Lazarus July 12, 2020

    If outdoor grows are outlawed in the future, folks in this county will not change. It’s generation work around here. The county best get the money from all the grows. Cutting out the outdoor just lets the indoor “Flow Kana” types take over the whole show.
    Then again that maybe what the Brass wants. Stupid is as stupid does…

    Be Swell,

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