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Letters (January 27, 2021)

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THE INAUGURATION

Editor,

Disaster, poverty, disease, even death: 

your house is in disarray.

There is a knock on what is left of your door.

You open it and see your still super-competent grandpa 

standing with an amazing gathering 

of your extended family behind him. 

There are lawyers, doctors, 22 year old poets, 

people who just last week you were never speaking to again, 

people who know how to rebuild your house. 

You ask your grandpa,

“Why are you here? I barely know you. Can I trust you?

Why are all these people at the door of my half destroyed house?”

He expected your questions, 

but has the good grace to look surprised. 

“What? Because you’re family, of course. 

Here I am. Here we are.”

Joel Mikesell 

Fort Bragg

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NOW, JOE

Editor: 

Here are some tax changes needed immediately so those hurt financially by the pandemic don’t get a tax bill when they file income taxes for 2020. As an income tax preparer the past six years for low-income filers, I have seen too many people have to pay back money.

Unemployment insurance needs to be tax free. This is like a double tax on those losing their jobs. Very few have federal and state income taxes taken out of their unemployment checks. The pandemic made it worse for millions of Americans. Social Security money for those 66 and over, which is full retirement age, should not have any of this money taxed. Sometimes it is because of other income coming in. Many still work, some have retirement income, interest or investments. California doesn’t tax Social Security income.

Also, raise the tax subsidies on the health care exchange. Seniors often give back part of their tax subsidies because their income fluctuated and the tax subsidies are too low. Tax subsidies need to be increased for the middle class, not just low-income filers.

Andrew Smith

Santa Rosa

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‘EVERYBODY KNOWS’

Editor,

It’s been my experience after 73 years on this planet that when someone says “everybody knows,” it means they have no evidence or proof for their statement. Generally, it’s something they’ve heard said by others spouting things they heard without evidence.

In this instance, when compared to the certification of the votes by 50 states, including both Republican and Democrat election officials, and the finding by the Justice Department under Donald Trump’s attorney general, William Barr, that there was no election fraud found that would have changed the overall votes, it is clear that “everybody” does not know.

John Wise

Guerneville

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GO BIG, JOE. BIG!

Editor,

President-elect Joe Biden and every Democrat in Congress: This moment calls for boldness. We don’t need another Barack Obama or Bill Clinton. We need a Franklin D. Roosevelt. It would be a huge mistake to think governing as centrists will somehow appease your most vocal and violent critics. It never does and never will. Those who subscribe to QAnon nonsense are too far gone in their sickness, and the relatively sane Republicans will call you a socialist no matter what. Embrace the label.

Help build a diverse working-class alliance by advancing policies that even Fox News surveys show have broad support. Include policies like Medicare for All, the Green New Deal and free college. Bring back the Fairness Doctrine, and make it mandatory that every student learns how to identify and verify sources.

These are the sorts of actions that will garner you enthusiastic, sustainable support. That’s the only way to marginalize the extremists, to ensure their demise. The pre-Trump status quo will not suffice; it will make matters worse.

American exceptionalism has always been a myth, and there’s nothing that says the U.S. can’t become a failed state or that fascism can’t take root here. It’s a trying time, but I remain hopeful. Be bold.

Garrett Snedaker

Eureka

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MASK UP!

Editor,

Worried about a surge…

I’m extremely worried about a Covid-19 surge here in Fort Bragg. I ride my bicycle along the southern and northern coastal trail 4-5 times weekly. Since the announcement of the availability of two different corporations’ vaccines for the pandemic, I’m seeing more and more people walking and riding their bikes on the trail without masks. This includes many children.

Apparently a number of people think the end of the pandemic is in sight because the vaccines are being released. They couldn’t be more wrong. There are huge spikes all over the U.S. and California – especially Southern California. The latest death count I have been able to get for the U.S. is nearly 400,000.

Grocery stores in Southern California are being closed because so many people who work in them are coming down with Covid-19.

We have seen videos of the treasonous, armed insurrection in Washington D.C. Hardly any of those domestic terrorists were wearing masks.

Please fellow Fort Bragg citizens, don’t get careless and complacent! This pandemic is far from over. If anyone out there thinks the pandemic is a hoax, I personally know someone who recently tested positive for Covid-19 in Fort Bragg.

Ed Oberweiser

Fort Bragg

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WHAT MAKES SENSE

Editor: 

People are upset we have no Veterinary Emergency Medicine available. As a Registered Veterinary Technician I have been upset we don’t have a Veterinary Emergency Clinic. A midnight ride to Santa Rosa with our cat, got me looking into what it would take to open one. I talked to our veterinarian, called the state, asking questions. There was a building in Fort Bragg that would have done well as a VEC. You must look at the overhead: Licenses, permits, taxes, insurances, remodeling, equipment and meds. The last two being as costly as human and the insurances are the same in veterinary medicine as in human. It would be a full hospital with lab, surgery, treatment, kennels, radiology, pharmacy, bathroom, kitchen, office/bedroom. Staffing… techs and docs who are willing to work nights and weekends. Docs work a week on and a week off, sleeping in the office. Their families visit so they can see their kids. Two RVTs per shift, nights and round the clock weekends. Financial overhead is enormous. The hospital would have to support itself. The Coast could not support a VEC. Only place it makes sense is Willits. Humboldt, Lake and Mendocino Counties could support it, not having to go to Santa Rosa. It might make it financially. If someone wanted help to do that I would be glad to help. However, I do not want to move or commute regularly to Willits. I am writing this so that it may offer understanding for our veterinarians. Our veterinarians cannot be expected to work all day and then nights and on weekends.

Jo Bradley, RVT

Little River

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EMPHASIS SHOULD BE

Editor,

Recently: When our government wanted to buy the Best Western for a homeless shelter we learned: Cost and future maintenance expense are not important; all licensing, rules, regulations, and studies can be set aside and common sense and not-in-my-backyard arguments can be ignored.

Historically: When the state hospital was closed, our local government failed to accept it for $1. When the junior college was being considered, many bemoaned the shortsightedness of those officials not spending the dollar. Now the City of 10,000 Buddha has a beautiful school campus.

Presently: A facility for the mentally ill is being sought. I heard the old Willits hospital was offered to the county for $1. In my opinion it is the perfect location for a mental health facility. Why is it off the table? Cost? Is $1 too much again? Retro-fitting & future maintenance expense? Is 75 percent of Measure B money not enough but will build something new? Licensing, rules, regulations and studies? Now suddenly insurmountable? Are neighbors saying they don’t want it in their backyard?

Mental illness is a primary issue of the Nation. Will our representatives once more pass-up an opportunity for $1 and subject themselves to the opprobrium of future generations? Will they say; “It can’t be done”? See “Recently” above.

In my opinion, the emphasis on Measure B money should be to attract the best psychiatrists & psychologists available and for training of police and caregivers. No more talk about facilities. Do the government mandate thing for the Willits hospital and move on.

Jon E. Telschow

Ukiah

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DC, THEN & NOW

Letter to the Editor

In the 50s, Washington was just beginning its conversion from a shabby southern town to imperial capital of the world. One block after another, the old brick row houses fell and the concrete and glass offices rose. 

The long stretches of army barrack style temporary spaces built for the wartime desk army came down along the mall, returning the ground to parkland. The processional section of Pennsylvania Avenue began its reconstruction into the new vision of power: Willard’s Hotel was unboarded and rebuilt, old offices from the last century bit the dust, the north face of Federal Triangle got a comprehensive update. The block of Pennsylvania Avenue I grew up on, a working class neighborhood where I’d walk with Grandma to buy a chicken at Western Market, the old block long open air city emporium, is totally gone. The last 19th century row house with the Froggy Bottom bar in the basement was turned into dust a decade ago. Both sides of the street are now walls of alienating ugliness.

The dark side of the force followed right along. The old intersection of 15th and Pennsylvania, with its tiny little triangular parks full of trees, was obliterated for something called Freedom Square, a barren expanse of granite with patriotic sayings incised into the rock, a shelterless waste baking in the sun, ready for some future dictator to pronounce commands in the name of liberty. Overseeing all was the new brutalist FBI building, huge iron gates closing its courtyard off from the rabble, its top floor cantilevered over the sidewalk, its whole effect to make it clear to all that the surveillance state intended to rule.

Years passed, things got tighter. As a boy, I could walk into the Treasury building, buy a $20 bag of nickels, sit outside on the steps and look for rare ones, bag up the rest, go back inside and trade for another bag. Today, so many multiple layers of fences and cops that you can barely see Alexander Hamilton’s statue and you better be on official business or get a bunch of uniforms staring at you. East and West Executive Drives that were public streets flanking the White House have long since been gated off, and who knows what intrusive rigmarole tourists who want to visit the Mansion are put through now, if they are even still allowed.

Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House is closed to traffic, with walls of powered bollards as defense against truck bombs. Lafayette Square, once heavily timbered, has been severely opened up for the benefit of the snipers on the rooftops. All the land south of the Mansion that used to be open park is now in the security zone all the way to Constitution Avenue. When I wanted to see the 1st Division monument I was waved off by a guard who carried his machine gun in a quilted caddy. No point frightening the tourists.

Once, for a dime you could ride the elevator to the top of the Washington monument. No metal detectors or scanning wands or patdowns. You could walk up the stairs inside the hollow obelisk for free. Today, no mere citizen is allowed to look at all the memorial stones set into the interior walls by foreign countries in recognition of our attempt at freedom. You can’t even get into the Botanical Garden if you carry so much as a pocketknife. Fact is, you better leave the knife at home. You can’t even get into the Trump Hotel.

Today we have a rabble that has traded their Rapture delusions for the blind visions of a fat vulgar crook, breaking into the Capitol during a joint session of Congress, crazed enough to believe their grotesque Fuhrer’s lies, demented enough to actually imagine that they are agents of national salvation. These fools don’t deserve the title of insurrectionists. They don’t even have some half baked “manifests.” 

One moron in the vandalized Senate chamber said, “Now that we’re here, maybe we should set up a government.” They couldn’t even govern a wad of toilet paper. Give them 5 minutes and they’d be at each other’s throats. All they’ve done is give the state an excuse for staging a mammoth security exercise, walling off most public space in the heart of the city with fences and wire and thousands of armed soldiers. And all this stuff went up pretty damn quick, which means they were ready to do it, don’t you know, and it will be a long time before it comes down, if ever. There will always be an excuse to retain it; nothing I’ve seen in this regard for 65 years has ever fully reopened.

Self-styled revolutionaries of any political stripe will have to show up with at least one armored division, otherwise they’re just masturbating in public, a political misdemeanor. Pierre l’Enfant, drawing from a millennium of the history of European street fighting, designed the City of Washington to be resistant to insurrection. On top of the standard rectilinear urban grid, he laid out an array of circles connected by diagonal avenues cutting through the square blocks. The idea was, in the event of some future riot of future trumps, all the army has to do is position field guns on the circles, giving them radial lines of fire, breaking up tomorrow’s half-percenter noize boyze into small zones of ineffective gangs. Of course, you also have to wonder who will be in the army, and who they will be taking orders from. 

Jay Williamson

Santa Rosa

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ACCOUNTABILITY FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT

Dear AVA,

I just read an article in the November 2020 issue of Criminal Legal News. "Police unions: obstacles to criminal justice reforms and police accountability." The first subtitle was, "Special privileges that shield corrupt cops." Which brings to mind an incident that occurred in Lake County 12 or 14 years ago when the undersheriff Jeffrey Markham I believe his name was, ran a 35 foot speedboat through the center of a sailboat moored in the middle of the Clear Lake knocking a woman into the water where she drowned. If John Q. Public had been driving that speedboat he would have been charged and convicted of second-degree murder or no less than manslaughter and sent to prison. But because he was the Undersheriff and "one of the elite," nothing was done to him. Instead, the man on the sailboat was arrested and tried for second-degree murder on the taxpayer's dollars. They were acquitted as it should be. 

The district attorney, John Hopkins, and Sheriff Rodney Mitchell were both voted out of their jobs. The real murderer Undersheriff Markham went scot free. And that was only because he was a cop.

Second subhead: "Accountability and roadblocks: police unions wield a great deal of weight and insert provisions in their contracts which are impediments to any citizen oversight which are obstacles when it comes to building a type of legitimacy and trust in law enforcement.

Sheriff's and police departments have lists of officers "who have been found guilty or alleged to have committed acts which bear on credibility, honesty, integrity or other characteristics that would constitute exculpatory or impeachment evidence." At the same time, it prohibits the demotion, dismissal, suspension without pay, or a reduction in pay for officers placed on that list.

In my opinion a peace officer who lacks morals and displays moral turpitude should in no way be a peace officer. Think about it, these corrupt cops have the power to arrest you, detain you, and use force -- even lethal force, and should demand the highest moral character and ethical behavior. How can a police or sheriff's department have officers with such impaired credibility, integrity and honesty that makes them unfit to even testify in a courtroom?

Take Francisco Rivero for example, the one-time Lake County Sheriff elect. He was proven to be a liar and thrown out of office for it. But not before the people of Lake County were made to pay for his legal defense. If this had been you or I we would have had to spend at least $100,000 or more on lawyers or we would be sent to prison for doing what this man did, shooting at a unarmed man and then lying and claiming he had a gun. This is what we the people are being forced to deal with -- "criminals with badges"

My question is, why are officers like this still carrying a gun and badge? Just keeping them on the force is an impediment to law enforcement accountability and serves to undermine public trust and confidence in law enforcement overall. Cops who lie in order to put people in prison should be sent to prison themselves. And those who assault people or steal from them need to go to prison as well. Qualified immunity should be abolished and cops who are caught breaking the law should not be allowed to remain cops.

Notwithstanding that, if and when one of these rogue cops is caught in unethical dealings they are slapped on the back of the hand and told to stop it and not do it again. If by chance a citizen complaint is filed, their union makes it almost impossible for members of the public to see these complaints even when they are taken to court. Then after five years, the complaint is removed from the file never to be seen again. They are never published. Just think, we the people are paying these cops to ride roughshod over us with no retribution for their bad faith conduct while we go to prison a lot of dimes for minor infractions.

Then there's the issue of absolute immunity given to prosecutors which gives them carte blanche to screw people without any fear of being punished for their unethical deprivation of people's constitutional rights guaranteed to us under the U.S. Constitution. It too should be abolished. When district attorneys are caught cheating and lying to a judge in order to put someone in prison then they themselves should be the ones sent to prison, not rewarded with a paycheck for their bad conduct.

In my opinion these corrupt officers and district attorneys who commit these types of atrocities should be stripped of their immunity and their asses thrown into prison. The first two on the list should be Jon Hopkins and Richard Hinchcliff in Lake County. Both of these men think they are above the law when they put people in prison for years even when they know they are not guilty of the crimes they were charged with. When does it stop?

Sincerely,

Charles Statler

California State Prison-Solano

Vacaville

PS I hope everyone out there made it through the fires over the past few years. My prayers go out to all of you at home.

2 Comments

  1. Pat Kittle January 28, 2021

    To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you can not criticize.

    (Attribution uncertain)

  2. Jerry Burns January 28, 2021

    Hello Bruce,
    In the AVA Today of Jan. 26, Catch of the Day, contains a Frank Cabral. I was wondering if this is the same Frank Cabral, former Ukiah dentist, who, around 78/79, faked his death and then disappeared, leaving his family in the lurch.
    He was eventually caught but I never followed it any further. Is the Frank Cabral of Catch of the Day the same Frank Cabral I mention here.
    Thanks for your newspaper!
    the “burnunit”

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