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Letters (March 10, 2021)

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Message From The Chief:

To the Willits Community,

There has been a lot of traffic on social media and our local newspaper regarding your Police Department and its personnel. As you well may know, there is possible litigation pending regarding interactions between my predecessor and members of the Department and city staff. To make it clear, there has been no lawsuit filed against the City or the Department. I cannot and will not speak to any specifics, simply because we can’t.

However, I do want to speak, as your Interim Chief who has been here since early November, as to what I’ve experienced and seen in my time here. As a way of background, I have 43 years of experience in law enforcement. I was a Command level officer with the Los Angeles Police Department, before serving as the Chief of Police for Fort Bragg for five years. I come to Willits with some degree of perspective as to how things should and could run in order to deliver police service to the community.

What I’ve seen and identified is a Department with dedicated members willing to deliver service, with a lack of resources, at a level that I can only describe as professional, with integrity and compassion. Have I received calls from people complaining about their interactions with Department members? Yes, I have. But, I have also received just as many calls praising and complimenting the Department for its level of service. The calls that have been negative simply required an explanation as to what could or could not be done, and we move forward. And this is not unique to WPD. It happens with any police agency. My role and job is to identify instances or procedures that are systemically wrong and need immediate correction. Instead, what I’ve identified and observed are systems that are in place to keep operations running efficiently and deliver professional police services. There are things that given a lack of resources, are in need of replacement or fixing. And that is the Department Head’s job to prioritize and manage the budget accordingly to address these items. 

Our policies are continuing to be reviewed as to discipline, use of force, delivery of service, and the whole range of procedures and training, in order to continue adherence to California Police Officer Standards and Training (POST) guidelines and requirements. But this is something we all do as Chiefs in order to feel confident in our procedures and protocols, and ensure they are being followed. I remember a conversation I had with the city manager that brought me in. I basically asked if I was to be a shepherd of the Department until the permanent Chief was hired, or would I be able to act upon issues I identified as needing work, tweaking or addressing. Whether they were budget, equipment, training or personnel issues. The response was, to do both. Right the ship where it needed it and keep it going until the appointment of a new Chief. I have tried to do that from the very first day.

I’m proud to say, that every member of this Department has been and continues to work diligently, with compassion and dedication, exhibiting integrity and a professional approach to every situation. We are a young department in terms of experience, so counseling and training goes on almost every day. But I want to assure you that any mistakes made, are of the mind, and not of the heart. The former we can work with, the latter I have no tolerance for, and neither does the City Council or City Administration. 

On a daily basis, our members interact with all segments of our community. The service provided that I have seen, overheard or received feedback on, has transcended all races, genders, cultures and socio-economic standards. Our diverse community continues to receive the same level of professional service day in and day out. Having said that, I understand and appreciate that those individuals we take enforcement action on, may not see us in the best light. My job is to make sure they treat everyone with respect and dignity whether they are a victim, suspect, witness, bystander or a fellow worker. To that end, I will work on your behalf to continue the positive steps that were already underway when it comes to staffing, training, and a community policing philosophy and approach that you deserve and desire. 

I felt compelled to write this, as some members of our department have been targeted for what I can only describe as unfair and unjustified negative focus by some members of the community, acting on an unsubstantiated perspective, in order to further their own jaundiced outlook toward law enforcement.

The men and women of your Police Department deserve better than that.

Fabian Lizarraga

Interim Chief of Police

Willits Police Department

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 Hello AVA. 

I appreciate your movie and TV series recommendations, and here’s mine, below.

If one wonders how we got Nixon, Reagan, Bush Jr., Fox News, the Iraq War and Trump, Roger Ailes is a huge part of the answer. A must see if painful series exposing his manipulations, sexual abuse, bullying, lies and eventual downfall. He turned TV news into a class weapon that threatens our democracy today.

The Loudest Voice


2019 NR 1 season

When media veteran Roger Ailes becomes head of Fox News in 1996, he quickly upends the role of television in politics by airing nonstop conservative content. Within a few years, Fox's success makes it a potent force in shaping public opinion.

Tom Wodetski


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to the Board of Supervisors:

March 5, 2021

Re: PG&E Funding Allocations

Chair Gjerde & Members of the Board,

I noticed on the agenda summary for the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors meeting to be held on March 9, 2021, the Board will be discussing the issue of the PG&E settlement and where to use these funds. For over a year Mendocino County has been in possession of over $20 million from the PG&E settlement stemming from the 2017 wildfires which devastated Mendocino County.

In reviewing the agenda summary it appears there will be much discussion regarding how the board will be allocating these funds for various projects. I realize this is one-time funding and therefore it should be invested in projects which would save money and continue to support increasing efficiencies in our duties to serve the community. The Sheriff's Office is in need of funding to support projects and support public safety. My hope would be that we can have further discussions regarding these allocations.

I saw in the presentation the thoughts regarding hardening the 911 system as well as completion of the public safety communication tower and the generator for the Sheriff’s administration building. These are excellent ideas and all of the needs are real. However, the addition of the generator to the Sheriff’s admin center is listed under “fiscal stability.” When I think of fiscal stability I think of strategically investing monies to save money and using the savings to improve sustainable service to our residents. The generator is simply a facility modification which doesn't create fiscal stability and should not be so listed.

I believe we will also need to begin looking at several projects which would save money for the county. I previously brought to the Board the idea of a courtroom located on the Sheriff's office campus adjacent to the jail. This would allow us savings which could be used on personnel. If we invest our capital in a fashion which would allow efficiencies we can shift the savings into funding personnel which are extremely needed to serve the public. My sense was we all agreed that this was a good idea. However there was no funding for it at the time.

Cannabis enforcement both through code enforcement and the Sheriff's office has been woefully understaffed. With the upcoming changes in the ordnance we could begin to see improvements in this area. However it will take an investment. We could use funds towards up-to-date and real time satellite imaging which would decrease the personnel time and the use of aircraft needed to make decisions and prioritization. This would also be an area we could strategically invest in and reap the benefits for future sustainable service. Simply stated, we have several areas which could be improved upon.

As I look over the presentation I would like to see categories added to the worksheet which would include grant funding opportunities as well as projected return on investment. I believe this would help us to set achievable goals for the future.

The Sheriff's office was the first agency to respond during the 2017 fires which devastated our county. The original fire was discovered by a Patrol Sergeant while patrolling in the Potter Valley area. He immediately contacted our dispatch center and began the response by sheriff's deputies and fire personnel which clearly saved lives. This occurred because we had personnel on duty completing their duties.

I believe we are on the right track to addressing several issues which do need to be addressed as we look to the future. I am simply asking that we continue with conversations regarding the allocation prioritization and planning in order to serve our community's interest to the highest standards.

If we are truly going to strategically invest portions of this capital into fiscal stability, this must be a stated goal. The spending must match that goal. My hopes are we can look deeply into strategic investments, the projected return on investments, and be committed to allocate future savings to the correct location. If we use this one-time capital as “seed money,” we could plant several fields which would allow a greater harvest for our county.

Thank you,

Sheriff Matt Kendall

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Mark Scaramella notes: The fact that the Sheriff even had to submit this comment to the Board for next Tuesday’s Board meeting is yet another example of CEO Angelo’s neglect of law enforcement in major funding decisions. 

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To the Editor:

As we come to the end of Black History Month I would like to inform you of a little bit of Ukiah history. Back in March of 2017 the Historical Society of Mendocino County in one of their quarterly journals honored the Perry family, a black family of Ukiah. Harold(52), Manuel(55), and Barbara(56) graduated from Ukiah High School and in 2000 were all honored as distinguished graduates by the Ukiah High Alumni Association. Harold and Manuel were voted student body presidents, in fact Harold was class president from eighth grade to twelfth grade. To me this says a lot about the content of their character. What this also says to me is the content of the character of their classmates to bestow this honor on them. I’m sure Marting Luther King, Jr. would be extremely proud of all of you.

Dave Poma


Ed note: Harold 'Hal' Perry went from Ukiah to USF where he was a starting guard on the famous USF basketball team starring Bill Russell and K.C. Jones.

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You speak Joe?

Everything that Congress does or does not do affects everyone from Hale’s Grove to Rockport to Fish Rock. So there is no need to be so smug as to not needing to lift a finger to help the “Democrat party” retain control of Congress during the 2022 election. I don't want to hear the pissing and moaning that McConnell is stopping every piece of progressive legislation. Again. (Incidentally, I like the way Biden called out the governor of Texas for “Neanderthal” thinking. Keep doing it.) Texas is just one big pain in the ass no matter how you look at it. The birthplace of white trash.

I've been looking closely at government and politics since 1948 and the present crop of Republicans in Congress is the worst I have ever seen. The electorate is no better. How 70.5 million voted for Trump after four years and remain committed to him is a very dangerous situation. I think we can assume that the white trash party is poised to win in 2022 unless Democrats get off their asses and make some needed changes. I don't see it coming through. What does the inland Democratic Club of Ukiah plan to do? Send a delegation to a swing state like Arizona to try to convince some young people to get interested in voting? Most citizens under 30 will vote the Democratic ticket if we can get them to send in a ballot. If I were giving out advice I would tell the entire “Democrat” apparatus to concentrate on people under 30. High school, Junior College, University. Overtly political speeches. The enemy is the white trash party. 

In 1935 Social Security opposition started off a consistent opposition to every beneficial program up to the present time. 

Send Senator Brown to speak to students in Kansas. Send King to Nebraska. Send Gilabrand to Iowa. Etc. Other young people will have to be contacted by a rock and roll luminaries. Movie stars with emphasis on sex. People under 30 are thinking about sex most of the time anyway. Negroes will vote for Democrats if there is a good hot issue. Negroes in Georgia are entirely responsible for that stimulus payment in your pocket. Voters under 30 need to know who their enemy is. White trash. I don't see why we can't get a good infrastructure bill out of the present Congress if voters will bombard them. We will see how smart these dudes are.

Note to Editor: Ease up a little bit on the Democrats. Although they are “impure,” aka not socialists, they have supported a lot of progressive legislation during the past few years. Is AOC on the list for the mayoral primary in New York City?

Ralph Bostrom


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Just want to let you know how much I enjoy reading the AVA. I always like to know what's going on with the powers that be, wherever I live and thank you Mark, for having the patience to sit through all those meetings (at least on zoom you don't have to drive to Ukiah) and let us know what's happening. 

Reading the baseball stories reminded me of when I was growing up in Manhattan in the 50's. My brother was a Giants fan and I was a Dodgers fan. My father, being an equal opportunity kind of guy took us on the subway to the Polo Grounds and to Ebbets Field once a year to see a game. Later when we moved to Queens, I was able to walk to Shea Stadium with friends. We'd buy the cheapest tickets, then grab some empty seats up front until the rightful owners showed up. One time I got to watch Sandy Koufax pitch a no hitter, from right along the third base line. No one had come to claim the seats. 

I enjoyed Fred Gardener's stories about the Hallinans and appreciated his article about CBD and the COVID vaccine as someone with multiple myeloma who has been using CBD/THC successfully. It's a shame all the studies come from other countries as the feds are way behind (as usual) in realizing the positive benefits of cannabinoids. The doctors I spoke to at UCSF said 85% of their patients use cannabis medicinally, but they can't recommend it because UCSF receives federal funding. 

It's a mixed up crazy world. How's that for an understatement? 

But spring is coming. Yesterday walking on Navarro beach we saw two seals frolicking in the river, then watched as they waddled across the sand (mouth still closed - where's the rain?) and made their way back into the ocean. 

Katy Tahja, Jonah Raskin, David Yearsley and Malcolm Macdonald are some of my favorite columnists. 

Thanks again for persevering!

Dobie Dolphin


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Mighty Editor,

I would like to extend unbounded gratitude to Fred Gardner and the AVA for publishing Cannabis & Covid-19.

Cannabis worked perfectly to assist one staying put for the most part for the past year and the added benefits to aid in combatting initial infection are duly noted. That being said the revelation to me from this article is the need to abstain from Cannabis consumption in its myriad of forms in order to allow the body’s immune system to properly react to vaccination and build immunity.

Once I read Fred’s piece I scheduled a vaccine and began abstaining from Cannabis. So far the drawbacks have been all in the mind. First off I had to round up all the cannabis products and paraphernalia and give some away and box the rest up and lock them away. So truly first things first out of sight out of mind. The second thing is that it may take hours and hours to fall asleep and my remedy for that has been listening to the radio in the dark till I finally catch some z’s around 1 or 2 in the am. 

Overall I feel myself having more patience and I am less likely to make assumptions, jump to conclusions, or take things personally (I’m not sure what that’s all about maybe you’re less in your own mind and so your empathy increases?). My increased energy and lack of fatigue are duly noted. I would like to continue to abstain from alcohol as I can feel those lingering effects for days even if I use it on a rare occasion. Alcohol is clearly a long term detriment to my strength and well being.

These physical and mental effects of abstinence are minimal in the long run and what I would like to discover is the heart of the matter which I believe is more cultural/psychological. 

I had an epiphany this morning, we are people in search of ritual. I believe ritual contributed extensively to our development as humans through history. In the modern world we are literally starved for ritual. They say sports fans are happier people and I would contend that is a result of their minor connection to ritual. Exercise can provide even more ritual but I want more than that. I am implementing a tea time in the afternoon to replace the ritual of 420.

I am also setting aside time for reading from sacred books, contemplation, meditation and yes even prayer.

It's not that I don’t see cannabis as having its origin as a sacred plant but I believe we have lost the ritual and the meaning that surrounded sacred consumption which was not for its own sake alone. 

So I will let this be a time of abstinence and development as well as hopefully building strong immunity. Thanks Bruce and the Major (and Ling, Renee and John) for your always critical eye in these matters and thanks again for all the keen editorializing. Thanks Fred for all of the great articles. Great things are bound to happen.

Best Always, 

Nate Collins 


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Parents trust public schools to provide intellectual and social foundations for their children. In fact, most parents do not get politically involved at the school level unless something is amiss. The pandemic empowered this silent majority, while also exposing how little some know about what goes on in the classroom. Slogans like “Schools not Screens,” or “No more Zoom Zombies,” bely that public schools have become almost wholly reliant on screen time for teaching and administration. EdTech companies are so thoroughly embedded in public schools that they cannot function without screens. Lessons, assessments and communications with stakeholders are done almost exclusively via screen. It’s been that way for decades, garnering more accolade than protest.

Schools are now opening, employing a Zoom-from-the-room model. Accordingly, there is no decrease in screen time. Students will still be on Zoom, sequestered behind plastic shields. If this is better than home isolation, it does nothing to address the cries of mothers and mayors demanding in-person instruction. This begs the question: Where were all of the protestors when high-tech was taking over their school? If screen-induced comas are so worrisome, then why didn’t we hear from these folks a long time ago?

Mark Allendorf

San Mateo

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To the Editor of the New York Times:

Re “Aliens Must Be Out There,” by Farhad Manjoo:

It took Earth about 4.5 billion years to evolve. During that time there was only about one chance in, say, a quadrillion that we would evolve into intelligent beings. But here we are in this one chance looking out at the rest of the universe and wondering if there is anyone else like us.

How much longer will we be here: a thousand years, 10,000 years? There have been mass extinctions in the past. It will happen again. Many of our species are becoming extinct now.

What makes us think that there is some other civilization out there that we can communicate with that happens to be in existence now? The chances are one in a quadrillion.

But let’s say we heard from an alien out in space. And they are only 10,000 light-years away. They sent their message 10,000 years ago. So what?

Let us concentrate on our civilization and see if we can stop killing one another and destroying this little speck of Earth.

Art Cornell

Osterville, Mass.

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To the California Employment Development Department/Unemployment Division

Class action suit against EDD, state of California

From Debra Keipp, Boonville

There is an old joke:

Q: Why did the Lakota horse nation ride appaloosas into battle?

A: So they'd be mad as hell when they got there.

For those of you who are not horse oriented, appaloosas are colorful clown whores characterized by being reliably quirky and chaos creating.

I enclose for DE 8498 as I am lodging a discrimination complaint against the EDD for acting without consequence, as one clown of an organization, whose discriminatory practices have culminated in the bleep-piles of ineptitude, indescribable in further metaphor.

The shakedown of 2021 pandemic unemployment assistance through the California EDD now reveals discriminatory practices against self-employed individuals as a class by specifically ignoring timely payment of their pandemic unemployment assistance. Asking individuals and some families to wait until April for any benefits at all is cruel and discriminatory toward a specific class of worker.

I am completing your own Employment Development Department discrimination complaint form, DE 8498, and sending it to Washington and Sacramento as well. It is written against the EDD so I guess I'm turning you into “yourselves.”

I am a local writer, health-care worker and whistleblower in California and encourage the millions of other pandemically unpaid self employed who remain unpaid since 2020 to do the same. Fill out form DE 8498, EDD discrimination complaint form and blow the whistle on the EDD for discrimination and use EDD’s own form to do it. Form DE 8498 is also available in Spanish!

President Biden keeps dangling carrots saying unemployment will probably be extended into August now, while still not coming through with an unemployment assistance package so far at all in 2021. With promises that perhaps folks will be paid by April, just before it is currently expected to run out, who can trust our government? Not I. My guess is, it is all a government ruse -- no one will get paid by April. The government will implode by then.

A movement is currently afoot organizing in Mendocino County to be the voice of those unheard presently by the media and ignored by EDD, the state and the Feds, among whom Judy Chu is now one, hired recently by the Biden administration to work as a top official in the Health and Human Services Agency. Just think, with Chu at the wheel the entire nation can now be as screwed up as California is now under her recent former administration here.

A real nutmaker for instance among other things that don't make sense, I phoned the EDD PUA number today and gave my Social Security and PIN numbers and got a recording which told me to fill out the continued claim Form 4581 and mail it in. However, there remains, two months later, no way to complete or print this form on the EDD website so it cannot be done nor has EDD mailed out one to me as requested. Saying self-employed individuals as a class will have to wait until March 7 to certify this discrimination against a class of worker while workers under employers are receiving their benefits without hassle. Saying after certification that it may take until April 10, 2021 to receive retroactive unemployment is nothing you would ask of a legislator to go without even the most provisional of money, least of all the entirety of the first quarter of 2021.

And you want all the unemployed to give our facial recognition patterns to ID-ME? The night I tried to register with them I received two notifications, one to say my registration was received and it worked, and the other a second later saying it didn't work because their system was screwed up. I'm giving ID.ME my SSN? When I tried to contact them to find out what's up, the website appeared to be a subcontractor by the name of Blake Hall whom I was directed to tweet. Are you kidding me? Then came another lame e-mail saying they would get back to me without any specifics. And they never did.

I then tried to log in again to my EDD account. Four times it would not recognize my e-mail and password after being entered. On the fifth try I was able to login under my e-mail once again with no keystrokes changed because they are stored in the computer.

You thought January 6 was a mess at the White House? We are talking millions of self-employed of every damned color riding nothing but appaloosas with no jobs to keep them busy and angry as hell. Flash that EDD!

PS. As a self-employed individual who voted a straight Democratic party ticket in 2020 I received assistance through the EDD during the 2020 tenure of benefits through December 27, 2020. The EDD system was then broken and I was unable to apply for the next round of financial support because of EDD’s ineptitude. While I received a message in my EDD inbox saying that I have to do nothing but wait! The system would be able to take input after March 7 with another three weeks at least after that to see actual money.

President Biden recruited Ms. Chu to his administration in Washington even as she had left behind an irreperably broken EDD system and as a result screwed up EDD payments for millions. Why then if Trump was a murderous bigoted thug could I pay my rent during 2020 due to the public assistance that I received without hassle under that administration? Since December and since Biden took office however I've noticed that EDD remains unable for some reason to pay millions of self-employed individuals their rightful assistance in a timely manner. Having no income from the end of December 2020 through March of 2021 is nothing you would ask of yourselves. Rent for my office, my home and my storage has all gone unpaid since December 2020. Yesterday I was admitted to the local hospital for heart failure due to stress of no money. Food stamps are not augmented for this deficit in support of self. I stand to be evicted very soon regardless of lawful moratorium. I live simply but cannot do without money altogether. Can you? However, the EDD has chosen to eliminate money from the lives of all those persons particularly who are self-employed while others who suffer under employers are being paid. EDD has targeted injurious financial ruin to the lives of all self-employed persons as a class who would otherwise be able to support themselves had the government not erred with ineptitude in support of self-employed persons in the state of California. How Biden thinks that Ms. Chu is going to help in DC makes for an ominous future for the nation now. He should have hired from another state.

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Ed note: Ms. Keipp reports that within days after filing this claim form her benefits were restored by EDD.

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