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Letters (May 5, 2021)

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There's a book that Wendy Read really, really needs to read. It's entitled 'Why We Sleep' by Matthew Walker. Walker is the head of sleep research at U.C. Berkeley.

Sleep, as it turns out, is not only important, health-wise it's THE most important thing we do. For the three pillars of good health, diet, exercise and sleep, research has shown that sleep is actually the foundation for both the others. Without the proper amount and the right kind of sleep, the other two pillars will crumble and fail.

It's quite an amazing little book. The effects of lack of sleep are not small or in any way inconsequential. It effects everything we do from memory to problem solving, to learning, to physical endurance and longevity. I was amazed to learn how many ways a lack of sleep degrades our health.

And the effects are large. For instance, if an athlete has a race coming up the next day and doesn't get the right amount of proper sleep, he will poop out some 10 to 30% sooner. That's easily the difference between winning and coming in dead last.

So, don't let the Wine Barons play down the effects of their robbing their neighbors of sleep. It is definitely a BIG DEAL and the consequences are dire.

Douglas George


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Greetings to Mr. Huffman, Mr. Wood, and Mr. McGuire:

As our North Coast and Mendocino County representatives, I would like to make you aware of a crisis in the areas you represent. Yes, we have a crisis at our border. Yes, we have an economic crisis due to the covid pandemic. But we have another crisis you need to pay attention to and hopefully correct.

Namely, we have an extreme shortage of qualified, well-trained caregivers to provide home care for our many citizens, many seniors.

Our population is living longer, not necessarily healthier. But so many prefer to stay in their own homes -- their family members are busy with their own lives and cannot be with their relatives usually their parents.

So home care falls to private agencies that are always notoriously short on qualified caregivers to meet the demand for services.

I am a retired registered nurse. I receive calls constantly asking if I can provide care for a loved one. Sometimes I get five calls a day. I am not exaggerating — this constitutes a crisis.

To my knowledge, caregivers are poorly paid, perhaps $12-$14 per hour, usually with no benefits. Is it any wonder there is a shortage of qualified caregivers? Why is this so valuable service so poorly recompensed? We have millions to spend on military and space exploration, but we scrimpe and save concerning our own needy citizens. I think this is a national disgrace.

Here on the Mendocino Coast we have a two-year junior college. Why can't we create any "caregiver training programa" and provide those graduates with a decent wage and benefit package?

It could be done if we put our minds to it, to make it a social priority. Remember, you will be old someday and you will appreciate care in your home. Very few people really want to live in an "institution."

Please put your mind to work in solving this local crisis.

Louise Marianna, RN


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I was so glad that Jonah Raskin wrote the fine obituary for Gerald Haslam who I knew as Gerry.

Gerald Haslam

Gerry wasn't raised a Catholic. He and Merle Haggard went to Catholic school because their parents thought they could get a good education there.

Gerry told me when he first went to Catholic school he thought he was entering the first leg of hell. He had been a Free Holiness from a Free Holiness family. If the whole place turned to flame they wouldn't have been shocked.

Gerry and Merle were raised in the same neighborhood but did not travel in the same circles. Gerry said it seemed like Merle had about 15 tons of testosterone, more than the rest of the kids. He was dating sexy sophomores in high school while the rest of us were still trying to get enough nerve to put our arms over our girlfriends’ shoulders.

Merle and his dad were very close. They used to go fishing and camping on the Kern River near Bakersfield every weekend. Merle's dad died when he was pretty young. We lived near each other in Oildale, but we traveled with different crowds.

Much later we had both been Kings of the Okie Day in Oildale. Gerry said one day Merle came over after we both had had a few brews and placed his arm over my shoulder and said, "I remember you ol’ boy." And like that, we were friends.

The last time I saw Gerry in Penngrove he had an older car jacked up in the yard and told me, "An Okie always needs an extra for parts," and laughed.

Once I got into a fist fight with "Tiny," the noted Sergeant of Arms for the Hells Angels. It started because Tiny was beating the shit out of a small Hells Angel. As I walked by them I said, You guys should get off of Main Street. Tiny said, "No one tells the Hells Angels what to do." Not being an idiot, I walked into the No-Name bar. It had a redwood bar but no name.

Tiny came to the window and kept yelling, "There's not enough room on this planet for both of us."

So I finally went outside and Tiny threw a ponderous swing at me and I shoved him into a white Cadillac. The cops came and the little Hells Angel turned me into the cops. I new instinctively that was a no-no for the Angels.

Anyway, I never said anything to anybody. But at the trial in San Rafael, Gerry Haslam, Dr. Gray and the Head of the English Department all showed up as a character witnesses. This was in the early fall of 1969.

I asked Gerry how they knew about it. Gerry said it was in the San Francisco Chronicle and the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.

That day I looked at the Chronicle and on the second section the whole page was full of pictures of thousands of Hells Angels titled "Arresting Angels."

Gerry Haslam was the finest, most authentic man I ever knew.

Ken Hurst


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Living close to a vineyard, I find the daily intrusions mainly auditory. The noise of tractors and fans is the price I pay for living in a beautiful, rural county. To add visual and olfactory intrusions from an industrial marijuana grow is contrary, at best, to the agricultural nature and beauty of our county.

I may not love the uniform acres of vineyards, but at least I’m looking at plants and greenery. Plastic hoop houses, security fences, lighting and the invasive smell that comes from industrial marijuana grows will affect the quality of life for many rural residents and tourists alike.

Whatever the acreage, such a large-scale change will significantly affect Sonoma County. It should be considered carefully and have multiple benefits, beyond just tax revenue. I encourage the supervisors to consider carefully before rushing to permits. At $1 million per acre in revenue, the marijuana industry will wait, but your constituents may not.

Lisa Fiorelli


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Sadly, many elderly citizens continue to be victimized by phone scams even though warnings have appeared in hundreds of publications and are regularly discussed on television and radio. In 2020, phone scams cost Americans $19.7 billion, most of which was never recovered.

To help elderly relatives and friends avoid becoming victims, download and review with them the Federal Trade Commission’s comprehensive article on phone scams: The AARP’s monthly bulletin is an excellent source for timely information about phones scams (

Emphasize to your elderly relatives and friends that sending money, accepting financial advice, disclosing personal information or agreeing to purchase a product or service in response to a phone call they did not initiate are sure ways to become a scam victim. Encourage them to be wary of suspicious phone calls and discuss them with you before they take any action.

David Karp


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The original agreement to maintain the farms in Point Reyes was temporary. The concern was that removing the cows would let blackberries invade and take over the meadows. When the Tule elk could become abundant enough to keep the meadows open, the farms would be closed and removed.

The farms are damaging the environment, creating erosion and water pollution problems. There are plenty of elk, and cows are no longer needed to keep the meadows open. It is past time to close and remove the farms as was originally intended when the park was created.

If you want to establish the original owners, give it back to the Miwoks.

Arthur Slater


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My Fellow Americans,

This is your uncle Joe. I wanted to go over a few things I said last night. Just to be clear.

I told the current leader of China we will not tolerate any new viruses on my watch, especially near elections. 

On the new taxes it's going to be $40k. Not $400K. Thank you Nancy.

On education, we are going to send your kids to government schools for another four years for free. To make sure they learn to be Democrats.

To my LBGTQ-plus chicken hawk friends, we want you in our new education system. We really need to change the names of stuff and rewrite herstory. Thank you Nancy. We can do this.

Immigration on the southern border: If they sign up to be lifetime Democrats we will let them in. It is as simple as that.

Come Christmas there will be $10,000 bills in your stocking and on Easter and there will be $5000 bills and plastic eggs for everyone. We can do this. Once you think of taxes as good and necessary you will see the light. 

We can do this.

Uncle Tom Madden


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Little is said about the role of Lake Pillsbury in our regional water system or the critical water it provides to fill Lake Mendocino. If anything, its importance to understated or not referenced at all in most media articles. Without Lake Pillsbury at the Eel River headwaters to control downstream flows, both the Eel and Russian Rivers and surrounding aquifers will intermittently dry up. Lake Pillsbury is a critical component of our water system and currently provides year-round water storage that benefits fish and hundreds of thousands of downstream domestic and agricultural users in both the Eel River and Russian River basins.

A strong movement is afoot to remove Scott Dam and eliminate Lake Pillsbury, targeted by those who believe the dam is the key reason for declining fisheries in the North Coast. There are many reasons for the Eel River fishery decline (e.g., over-fishing, massive flooding events, past timber harvest practices, road and railroad construction, unregulated cannabis grows) and the majority have nothing to do with Scott Dam. More recently scientists are noting that changes in the ocean ecosystem (e.g., warmer temperatures, increased acidity) may be the cause of the huge decline in the number of fish returning from the ocean to our rivers (with or without dams).

The Two Basin Partnership proposes to remove Scott Dam and continue water diversions into the Russian River during the winter and spring months when flows exceed minimum requirements for Eel River fish. Our current drought circumstances highlight the critical importance of Lake Pillsbury water storage; without it, there would have been little to no excess water to transfer into the Russian River this year. Lake Mendocino depends upon water from the Eel River system on a sustained year-round basis.

Lake Pillsbury’s regulated water releases provide important cold water flows downstream to enhance the Eel River fishery and it benefits Russian River endangered fish. Scientists continue to debate the size and quality of the fish habitat above Scott Dam, but any upstream habitat gained would be minor compared to the myriad of downstream fish mitigation enhancements that could be implemented, protecting this water storage facility we so badly need.

Over the years, the Potter Valley Project has proven to be a reliable and valuable regional resource, providing clean power, water supply, a pristine recreational area in the hub of the Mendocino National Forest, critical fire fighting protection, and supporting 100 year old ecosystems and wildlife habitat and communities within the Lake Pillsbury basin.

Despite what powerful interests want the public to believe, this is not a done deal. It could take decades to resolve.

Over the next few years the Two Basin Solution Partners will conduct at least 22 environmental studies as part of the FERC licensing process, and more studies and litigation will certainly follow. Formation of a regional entity to manage the Potter Valley Project will require legislation.

In times of climate uncertainty, worsening droughts and extreme fires, it is ludicrous to remove Scott Dam and eliminate Lake Pillsbury. Should we enhance and protect endangered fish? Of course, but there are numerous and less impactful alternatives to explore before making an irreversible decision to eliminate this valuable water resource. It is our firm belief that money can be better spent on dam improvements and fishery mitigation enhancements, and ultimately increase clean hydropower production to return the project to profitability. This could be a win-win for all stakeholders.

Frank Lynch & Carol Cinquini, 

Directors, Lake Pillsbury Alliance

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