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Letters (December 16, 2020)

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Corruption concerns, cause of mass exits at Noyo Harbor District.

The recent appointment of a second spouse of a sitting Fort Bragg City Council member to the Noyo Harbor Commission has caused surprise and suspicion about what the City Council's true goals are.

This combined with last year's appointment of a City Councilman’s wife to the Commission, a person who had applied for the vacant harbormaster position but was denied by the Commission in favor of the much more qualified Bill Sanborn, has turned to what many see as a get-even, nepotism approach towards the Harbor Commission.

These appointments would not seem so surprising if the former Commission had been doing a bad job for the harbor. But as most of us know the former Commission has done an outstanding job in bringing Noyo Harbor back from a state of despair and neglect to being on its way back to being one of the most beautiful and respected harbors on the West Coast.

Both ousted commissioners, Stacy Bradley and Bill Forkner, heavily supported and appreciated by the Harbor community, were amazed at their seemingly cut-and-dried already-decided appointment meetings.

These actions have had a negative effect to all involved at the Noyo Harbor District.

Many are choosing to resign instead of continuing to work with a group possibly involved in a corruption scheme.

Some of the important people to leave are resigning Harbormaster Bill Sanborn, resigning grant seeker Sarah Huff, resigning Harbor Commissioner Steve Bradley, and retiring Commission Chair Joe Caito.

This combined with the possibility of more resignations has the businesses, fishermen and residents of the Noyo Harbor concerned that the rebirth and rebuilding of our harbor we all have experienced over the past five years with the efforts of a very good Harbor Commission will now be lost in favor of a commission working for something other than the good of the Noyo Harbor District.

All of us in our community know the importance of Noyo Harbor. Its recreational value, its draw to tourism and its fishing industry that brings many jobs and income to our area. Let's not lose it to a special-interest political effort that should never be involved in the Noyo Harbor District business. Investigate, ask questions, demand answers and help save the Noyo fishing village.

Thank you.

STMA & the Friends to Save Noyo Harbor


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Recently the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office along with all public safety partners, have been experiencing an influx in narcotics-related offenses as well as several drug overdoses. This week we had a narcotics exposure which affected one of our deputies. We believe this deputy was exposed to fentanyl following the discovery of an inmate who was showing signs of overdose. Fortunately and due to rapid responses, the deputy and the inmate have both recovered.

Fentanyl is a synthetic narcotic which is extremely potent, very small doses can cause an overdose and death. Fentanyl is normally in a powder form and is difficult to detect. It can basically look like dust. We believe our deputy was exposed while moving the inmate’s bedding and clothing following the discovery of overdose. Often these exposures happen so rapidly, a person can collapse prior to realizing they have been exposed. If left unattended they can die.

This is extremely concerning to me as I fear overdoses will increase and we may see more unintended exposures to the drug, to persons who are helping victims. If you see someone who you believe has overdosed, please call 911 immediately. Often overdose victims are found by family members and loved ones. Many times we rush to help a loved one prior to thinking about our own safety. Simply put, this is a natural reaction to help and we often don’t think about our surroundings while doing this. First responders receive years of training to assess situations prior to entering, even with this training it is hard to fight the urge to run in and render assistance prior to the triage of our surroundings.

If you must approach the victim please be aware of your surroundings. Understand fentanyl could be on their person, clothing, or in the area you found them. The powder is so fine it may be undetectable to you. In order to help others, you must take care of yourself so you can make the 911 call to first responders.

Our deputies both on patrol and in the jail have been issued NARCAN which will reverse the effects of an overdose. This is due to a partnership with our Mendocino County Health and Human Services Agency who were proactive in securing this life-saving material for us.

In closing, I hope we can all remember to look out for one another during these trying times. Remember to care for others you must use sound judgment and remain healthy.

Thank you, 

Sheriff Matt Kendall

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With a rampaging virus upon us, being outdoors is a blessing and a refuge. My wife and I recently hiked at Trione-Annadel State Park, and we were dismayed and disappointed at the number of mountain bikers and walkers without masks.

It is clearly posted that masks are required. What I have to say to those folks is that we don’t appreciate this incredibly stupid and self-indulgent behavior. It not only puts others at risk, it is also possible that parks will again shut down. If it happens, it is their fault.

So think about it. Please take responsibility for the safety of yourself and others and wear a mask. We want our parks to stay open.

Richard Nichols


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Would you like to read some birds stories from Willits? No? Then, there must be someone. First I will give you an incense cedar update. Remember the Monkey Ward department store in Ukiah? Just below the store on South State Street in an old house sits where nursery items were sold on the screened porch and in the yard. I bought a dozen incense cedar seedlings about 6 inches high in small pots and planted them alongside the Bear Canyon Road on Pine Mountain. They grew real fast and today they are about 25 feet tall.

Each winter flocks of varied thrush spend their winter in Willits. Some years I see just a handful, most years flocks of 50-100 arrive. I have been watching for them to arrive on December 1. A couple of years I didn't see them until December 2. I looked out the other day, December 1, and there they were jumping around the ground. Varied thrush are a little bit bigger than robins with a pale orange breast and a brown bar across it. They are very skittish. They wait for a hard freeze when the madrone berries are ready to eat. Those berries have an alcoholic content which gets the birds drunk. They fly wildly about making a terrific noise you can hear for two blocks. I had a small pond nearby. Early one morning on March 10 I heard some noise. 50 thrush were splashing around. The next day they were gone. December 1 to March 10 right on schedule.

There is a bird feeder outside my window for small birds. The chickadees eat most of the seeds. There are two variety of what I guess our doves, one very light gray with a black ring around their next and a dark gray bird with a white ring half way around their neck. They keep an eye on the chickadees and when they head for the feeder they take up a position under the feeder to catch the seeds that fall from the feeder because those chickadees peck at those seeds like a starved chicken and half the seeds fall to the ground.

In other news: I imagine 80% of Press Democrat readers vote the straight Democratic ticket. Here's the CEO Steve Falk recommending the candidates and issues for his readers’ last election. 100% right out of the Republican playbook. The Press Democrat should print a couple of maps each day alongside the news stories. They say that Trump received 74 million votes. That is bad news. Those voters will still be around in 2022. They all had good reason for voting the way they did. They figured that Trump agreed with them on the big issues. Anti-Negro. Looting and burning after protests convinced them what they had always believed. No more immigrants of any kind. Not interested in climate change, global warming. Keep the government out of the way of oil and gas extraction and public lands. Leave the private healthcare industry alone -- the usual suspects.

Cut ’er short girls. Long gray hair doesn't look good on old women. (Amy Goodman). Good on you, Thom Hartmann. He has the economist Prof. Richard Wolfe on his program. Now I like Paul Krugman, but Wolfie explains economics so that even I can understand. (He's a socialist.)

In this county Ukiah has the merchandise and services that are not available in the rest of the county. What is needed is a complete irectory of everything sold and what services are available in Ukiah and vicinity. The phone book is useless. You have to pay to advertise there. A directory could include advertising.

I can't get KDFC. So I have to rely on the four classical programs on KZYX each week. Too much talk, talk, talk. Too much eclectic and not enough standard repertoire. Jeff Bezos sent me a book called “Windows In 10 Easy Steps.” I am trying to learn how to play the computer.

Ralph Bostrom


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Save fossil fuels for future generations’ uses other than combustible engines. Even if renewable energy could cost more (which it doesn’t), we should be willing to pay more to stop polluting the water and earth.

Gov. Gavin Newsom is allowing fracking and President-elect Joe Biden favors fracking. Write to them and request that they disallow fracking, which pollutes the underground water permanently which affects wells.

Renewable energy such as solar, wind and hydroelectric make jobs and don’t pollute the environment. Don’t remove the dams. Build dams and fish ladders. Dams store water during droughts, produce electricity, prevent downstream flooding, water farm crops and provide healthy recreation.

What we need is someone who knows what we need. Let’s do what our educated scientists and engineers recommend.

Leonard Riepenhoff

Santa Rosa

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I’m writing this letter before the results of the planning commission meeting about the Franklin and Alder Street dispensary and Grow facility. Whatever the results are from that meeting, approval or disapproval, this city needs to put a moratorium on these type of business being permitted right now before it gets out of hand, which I and a lot of other people believe it already has. The city council needs to readdress this policy before it’s too late. Once you let something in it’s hard to get it out. So if this project did end up with approval that would already put four pot related facilities in our city limits which is already way too many. This moratorium should last until the shelter in place and COVID-19 orders are completely lifted so we can have true discussions and meetings with an open forum, not on these webcams which you don’t really get to see the true scope of what the public is feeling. So if anyone out there agrees with me wholeheartedly on this issue, please send emails or letters to our city council members and let them know how you feel, they can’t just sit idle and ignore how the people of this town really feel for a few tax dollars.

Jay Koski

Fort Bragg

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From the United States People's Sphere of Action.

In the dog eat dog world of capitalism where the economic predators capitalize on every weakness they can find or create in other humans. The worldly people can now rejoice because for those who cannot quite bring themselves to place their faith in the biblical God, you can now buy all of your insurances from the corporate image of the humans called economic wolves who by their human natures are more ravening than wolves on their own kind for the love of money. The most powerful God created by mankind on earth.

Only you can help find a better form of government. So God’s will can be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Call your legislators to account and make them call a constitutional convention instead of using murder by cop to get unratified authorities the predatory deem necessary while they follow the way of the beast in their own minds.

Thomas Dean ‘Shepherd’ Jones

Mendocino County Jail


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Was cleaning my house - I stopped in my tracks and sat down and just went down memory lane. All I can say is it wasn't pretty. I think I cried for over an hour with memories of what this time used to be for me and how it was filled with such love and anticipation - and now it brings back memories of the reality of emptiness and sadness.

So I would like to remind you that there are people for whatever reason are not looking forward to Christmas. Some people are not surrounded by large wonderful families.

Some of us have problems during the holidays and are overcome with great sadness when we remember the loved ones who are not with us any longer.

For many it is their first Christmas without a particular loved one and many others lost loved ones at Christmas. And, many people have no one to spend these times with and are besieged by loneliness. We all need caring, loving thoughts right now.

If I don't see your name, I'll understand. I ask my friends wherever you might be, to kindly post this status for one hour to give a moment of support to all those who have family problems, health struggles, job issues, worries of any kind and just need to know that someone cares.

Do it for all of us, for nobody is immune. I hope to see this on the walls of all my friends just for moral support. I did it for a friend and you can too!

Tate Laiwa

Point Arena

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Editor --

Why has the brain trust board of school trustees been so damn bent on changing Sir Francis Drake high school’s name? No follow up!

This rush for correction is/has fallen out of favor in replacing Sir Francis’s historic title. Why? Sir Francis Drake’s name not only has had position in San Anselmo school and boulevard, it is renowned in books and places around the world. Look them up you retards and retardettes. You may learn something. But I doubt it.

This name change requires consideration and thought. It should be accomplished by a very large contingent of far far left wing flaming liberal socialists. Please don't allow any true Americans to participate.

Let's take a long look with great consternation at the new names Sir Francis Drake will be replaced with.

Outstanding politicians or great names from the sports world. Let’s start out with some real bad overrated historians.

Columbus -- had three boats. So what? Had slaves, bad guy.

Washington -- crossed the river, big deal. Had slaves, shame.

Jefferson wrote a lot, had good penmanship. So does the bill collector. No good, had slaves.

Franklin -- wrote some blurb in some old document that nobody reads. So? Had slaves -- bad, bad guy!

Now that we've got some of the bad boys behind us, let's look at who I think could fill the bill during these great change-everything times.

Marion Berry was mayor of Washington DC. Outstanding work behind the scenes. Did great work on educational films about what not to do when dealing drugs behind closed doors.

"Colon" Kaepernick was quarterback for the 40 whiners. Didn't stand for much but had a great presence on one knee and could have great fine brothers. A real standout. 

Harry Reid -- U.S. House Representatives under nanny. Here's a guy with a list of accomplishments as long as my (censored). His mother must have been proud! Nanny just loved him. No home movies.

And if a new name is too much for you worldly board members, what would you find wrong with No Name High School? It speaks to our society today, the tail wagging the dog!

Gran says, "Young ’unn, when are you going to scrap that hog pa has pulled out the hot tub?”

I said, "Grand, I got out your bib and new scraper you got last Christmas. You do such a good job you should scrape. Gramps has hit that special cold medication pretty hard this morning. He went into the outhouse two hours ago. Not sure what's going on. He had a bottle of something. Oh? Well, if he ain't out by bedtime I'll check on him.

Love you, Gran.

God bless America, the Donald, Grandpa, Jerry Philbrick

Old and Angry,


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To the Editor:

I just left a Board of Supervisor’s Board meeting listening to a very lengthy COVID update. The County “COVID TEAM” was there along with the County Health Officer, Mask Mendocino, etc. There was a long discussion and praise about how outstanding our hospitals and healthcare providers are doing, how groups are reaching out to homeless shelters and cannibus farmers providing PPE and testing. Eight guests in a homeless shelter tested positive for COVID, yet not a single employee/worker there tested positive! Outstanding! So, PPE works, eh? Well, apparently it doesn’t work if it’s in a public school because our public school students have not been in a classroom since March of last year. Remarkably, this population of our society, our future, wasn’t give one minute of discussion in the presentations.

When it was open to public comment I expressed my concern for our children and how the current data does not support keeping children out of the classroom; math test scores are declining while depression, anxiety, and child abuse are on the rise. There are no playgrounds to play on, no sports happening, so children are also suffering physically. (Taking a walk around the neighborhood just isn’t the same as school PE or running and climbing around the playground.) Was there any concern at all from the Board of Supervisor’s or the Public Health Officer regarding these children? Any personal accountability? No. The overall response was that the schools were to blame for not opening up while we were in the red tier (Wasn’t that a two week window?) and it had nothing to do with them.

Meanwhile, the most recent communication from the Ukiah Unified School District states, “On Nov. 12, 2020, Mendocino County Public Health Officer Dr. Coren put out Reopening K-12 Schools for In-Person, On-Site instruction Preliminary Guidance for School Year 2020-2021. The document provides new guidance on health and safety practices needed to safely resume in-person on-site instruction at K-12 schools. I wanted to alert you that this guidance has created significant roadblocks to eventually reopening our secondary schools (6th—12th Grade) with the previously communicated hybrid model.”

In addition, I have been informed by at least one UUSD Board member that in regards to opening public schools “We have a couple of hurdles. We are using our local public health director, Dr. Coren, as our source of the best science. We will follow his direction on what is safe and what isn’t. It is important to make a science-based decision as opposed to politically motivated decisions. When he gives the all-clear, we will push forward with reopening schools.” Where is the science Dr. Coren? What studies are you using to derive data to support your guidelines? According to our County website roughly .003 percent of children in our county age 0-18 have tested positive. The County lists no outbreaks from schools, preschools, and daycares are that currently open.

So, this seems to be quite contradicting. The County blames the School Board, the School Board blames the County Health Officer… and then you have the Teacher’s Union who puts a grinding halt to any progress given to getting kids back in the classroom. Per the same UUSD board member, “The California Teachers Association has opposed any form of reopening schools from the beginning. They do not care about the health and welfare of our kids or community. Their only goal is to protect the worst members of their union. This poses a problem. When the District says that it’s time to go to school, there are a variety of ways teachers can opt-out. We simply do not have enough substitutes to weather the storm.” So, the Teacher’s Union is dictating whether our children get a classroom education. Meanwhile, teachers are getting a three percent pay raise, half of them are refusing (aka “opting out”) to go back to the classroom, and they can’t be fired.

When is ANYONE going to recognize that our children are suffering emotionally, physically, socially, and educationally. (But only the public school children; private schools have been in the classroom for months.) Does any of this seem fair or rational? Right now the only thing that seems rational is school choice with vouchers.

I am not just disappointed, but I am disgusted by the ease at which these people in our community have disregarded the importance of the education of our children; the influence this has on their futures. Will we have a generation of welfare recipients or successful tax paying citizens?

People at risk should protect themselves. Healthy people should be able to live, work, and be educated. As citizens we are entitled to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” which includes a classroom education. Those seem like important words that may be written somewhere important.

May God bless us and have mercy on us.

Theresa M. McNerlin


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I expected Donald Trump to use conspiracy theories and lies to try and steal the election. Apparently, I shouldn’t have expected the Republicans to stand up for the will of the voters.

They have undermined the results of the election by using lame excuses like Trump is within his rights to challenge the election results, and given support to claims of election fraud that should be investigated.

The result of the election was a clear and clean repudiation of Trump with no evidence of fraud that needed to be challenged or investigated. Republicans, by their silence, are complicit in this assault on our democracy and the attempt to subvert the will of the people.

Is it because they are cowards and consider party and fear of Trump more important than country, or is it that they are basically OK with his attempt to stage an electoral coup?

Eric Neel


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Four score and some odd years ago in the village known as Boonville, the birth of a small town newspaper -- the Anderson Valley Advertiser -- united the residents and sparked a wizened population. A combination of local stories, national news and views, skeptical coverage of professional politicians and an international perspective filled the void with wonder, intellectual curiosity and a critical frame of mind.  Mutt and Jeff, aka Bruce and Mark, two retired military men who work well together and whose skills complement each other, carry the paper to the public every week, and have become respected as high powered writers of conscience and seekers of the common good. No one can stop them and no one can top them, as it is a labor of love, not profit-driven, publishing a weekly paper for a $1 pittance, $50 annual sub + online adjunct. 

Weekly outlets in other regions reprint their bold wit and brave exposes, expanding horizons beyond local borders. Editor Bruce Anderson hides behind 'Off the Record' to unleash his mighty pen against forces of corruption and mediocrity using anonymity to keep his comments crisp. Mark Scaramella exposes unfolding bureaucracy with wry put downs and nuanced observations, such as 'the quicksand of pot applications'. Both had reprints of their columns in Mendo County Observer's Dec 10 issue.

We can credit AVA with educating an entire generation and local public opinion about what's really going down, deep in the guts of official Mendocino County, centered in the BOS keeping cannabis forces under control post prohibition,  through pretzel regulations and virulent tax law which allows for RECRIM through 'violations deemed misdemeanors'. This new language is being surreptitiously passed in ballot initiatives from Mendo to Monterrey to couple local cannabis taxes with sleight-of-hand recrim language.

Bruce and Mark are not lovers of weed it is safe to say and often use stereotypical put-downs about the people who use it to an infuriating degree, revealing their bias. But their class understanding of government prejudice and exploitation of underdogs in general gives them an edge in grasping the bungling bureaucracy and incompetent implementation of the Adult Use Ordinance, with multiple differences in water requirements of weed vs wine. 

Wine is not regulated at all, cannabis is regulated out of all proportion to the water growers use. Scaramella wrote a well researched article comparing both industries in a number of categories with inequalities so persuasive as to deserve a constitutional challenge to the laws themselves.

For decades I've been challenging US marijuana laws in court as unconstitutional for lack of medical access, on grounds of unequal, unreasonable and cruel. Mark's research is thorough enough to be foundational to a constitutional challenge on equal protection grounds, especially due to unencumbered access to water enjoyed by grape growers because Mendo wineries are highly valued as compared to excessive and unreasonable water regulations for cannabis growers who are not highly valued, being formerly prohibited people, i.e. criminals. (Ample room for bias.)

This is the level of research and scholarship one can expect in the AVA. Since the primary staff are good writers, the bar is high for writers who submit copy.

The diversity of outstanding writers on wide-ranging subjects is AVA's forte, as well as an editor who invites variety and loathes censorship.

For years you would not find a woman on their masthead as contributors with one exception, who provided info on community meals and the like. Nothing on the level of Fred Gardner and other regulars. That has now changed and several excellent women writers are listed as contributors. But there is still very little on health, nutrition, children, sexualiity and other such issues deemed to be primarily of interest to female readers, as the male point of view has it.

There is also a penchant for ridicule which crops up now and then, is inherently hostile, short of hateful, but still petty, a low standard just for jollies.

Other than these shortcomings, their new motto -- 'every issue in every issue' -- is remarkably accurate and expresses the gamut of issues of interest to community buffs, historians, intellectuals, activists and nerds alike, as well as engaged people who like a good read. It is common to find prosecutors in Ukiah courtrooms reading the AVA waiting for the judge or to find people reading the paper while waiting in COVID lines outside their bank.

There is plenty to love in every AVA. Life would be more impoverished, less informed and lonlier without its lively, thoughtful stuff about the state of the world from dedicated contrarians. Thanks to Bruce and Mark. their dedication is our education, their labor of love is our gift from the universe.

Pebbles Trippet


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This pandemic has been so hard for our children. Every time we turn around, there are new rules and guidelines, and even more of their normal life being stolen away from them. School and sports and extra-curriculars are no longer a part of their every day schedule. Until these were all taken away, I’m not sure we realized just how much we needed them. 

For the past several months, Coaches Flick and Kendra have been volunteering their time to keep training a handful of girls who simply love playing volleyball. They’ve been meeting at the elementary school three days a week and are meticulous in following the county health order. 

Temperatures are taken before they start, balls are sanitized after every game, the girls make sure their gear is all set down separately, etc. etc. 

This has been the one thing keeping my girls sane over these last several months and I’m not sure I have the words to express my gratitude toward them. 

This past weekend was their last official practice at the elementary school. Once again, the superintendent has found a way to continue taking away from the children he is there to serve, citing the current county health order as his reasoning for banning the kids from an outdoor activity. Although he states to care for their mental well being, I have serious doubts that this is the case. The City of Ukiah is able to hold classes (at a cost) and the health order does allow for sports. So what makes AV so special that we can’t do these things? Or does Mr. Warych know something the rest of us don’t and can predict the future outbreaks? Either way, he has once again proven that he really does not care for these kids or their well being. 

My daughters are upset. They have spent months of following every rule to the letter and refuse to let this man tell them no (from his home in Grass Valley) without hearing their voice. I hope other parents will do the same. Please join me in contacting our school board members and making these girls heard. 

Shauna Espinoza 


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