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Letters (June 2, 2021)

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I wrote a letter to the editor recently that I do recognize was a bit antagonistic toward the Mendocino County Fair Board, and I would like to temper that a bit. I do realize that they all feel that they are doing the best that they can for the Fair, and I do realize that the Fair and the Fairgrounds are their prime concern. I closed my letter asking, “What do these people bring to the community, anyway?”

Well, they bring us the Fair. The Fair is where I connect anew with people that I have not seen for a year. The Fair is where I see what my neighbors and friends have been doing in their shops, their barns, their gardens and their living rooms. The Fair is where my kids got to show the world the animals that they had birthed and cared for and trained and where they got judged and rewarded, or not, for their efforts. Fair Weekend is when my kids choose to come home to Anderson Valley. My grandchildren love the fair. Make no mistake, I support the Fair, and I would not want to lose it. 

All of this does not mean that I think that there is no room for improvement. I think that the Fair itself could be improved - and I do not think that more booths selling cheap jewelry or hats are the answer, or even more cotton candy.

I think that my recent letter to the Editor had to do with my feeling that the Fair Board seems to think that it operates in a vacuum. They do not seem to realize that the Fairgrounds that they are striving to support and protect is right smack in the middle of a town and that in fact the Fairgrounds is part of that town. The town is Boonville, and real people live in Boonville, even if some Fair Board members do not. Boonville was laid out a long time ago, and many of the lots are small, and many of them have septic systems that have failed or may fail soon. There are wells on those small lots that are contaminated by the septic systems, and real people live in those homes and they have to deal with this every day. This is happening in California, in the USA, and this makes me ashamed and I want it to change. I have a good well, and a relatively new, expensive, and fully functioning septic system, and even so I think that the situation in Boonville must change. I think that everyone in Boonville should have clean water and a functioning wastewater system.

The local Community Services District has been trying to tackle this problem for over five years now. There is State money available to build a water system and a wastewater system for Boonville, and the “back parking lot” at the Fairgrounds is one place that might be suitable for a wastewater treatment plant, yet the Fair Board wants to say, “NO, not here.” 

Despite the fact that there are obvious benefits to the Fair and the Fairgrounds, the word from the Board is, “NO.” They do not even want testing to be done to determine if the site is a possibility. They just say, “NO.” They have said.”yes” to some things that I did not like, and they have said “no” to some other things that I have thought I would like, but this thing with the wastewater plant is a really big “NO” in my estimation.

So - that is why I got my dander up and wrote that letter, and I want to apologize to the Fair Board if I have treated them unfairly. As I sad, I love the Fair and I would hate to lose it, but I do not think that losing the Fair is the issue here. I want to ask the Board Members if it would really be such a bad thing if a small part of the land they effectively lease from the County of Mendocino were used to improve the lives of the people who live in this community? I would ask the Board Members to take a really deep breath and to take a fresh look at this thing and to perhaps recognize that this project could actually benefit the Fair and the Fairgrounds as well as the town of Boonville. I would like to ask the Board Members for their support even if their backyard should be involved.

Tom McFadden


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I am not a native of Fort Bragg, but that is where I grew up, and it remains home. I was just reading the editorial in the Fort Bragg Advocate about the reorganization of the newspaper, and thought I would take note of the fact that when I was young Fort Bragg had two newspapers—the Advocate and the Paul Bunyan News. I have a vague recollection that the Advocate office was east of Main Street, maybe a little beyond Franklin, and that the Paul Bunyan News office was on the west side of Main Street, maybe not far from where the train tracks crossed. My folks owned a motel, now long gone, and advertised in both newspapers, as well as subscribing to both. I think the two papers merged in the early 1960s.

Alan Barbour


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Dear Fort Bragg Planning Commissioners,

I am writing regarding the proposed Grocery Outlet project on South Franklin Street in Fort Bragg. Before the Planning Commission and the City approve this project, it is important to consider the results. 

It will cause traffic problems in an area of tiny streets and the Harbor, on North Harbor Drive in particular. This narrow roadway is the only access to the popular Noyo Harbor. It is also near the busy north end of Noyo Bridge and Highway One. The increased traffic in this unique area will have unknown effects on travel to and from the harbor, in the neighborhood, and on Highway One. Before this project is approved, a detailed traffic study is absolutely necessary. 

The issue of allowing another cheap box store also needs to be addressed. What effect will it have on already existing small independent groceries in Fort Bragg? 

The location and nature of a “Grocery Outlet” business will inevitably attract transients and undesirables to both the neighborhood and Noyo Harbor as a whole. The effect Grocery Outlet will have on ruining the immediate quiet neighborhood is obvious. 

We all want better prices and more options when it comes to food shopping. But a Grocery Outlet could have the opposite effect, driving smaller stores out of business, so that only corporate box stores remain. Is this what we really want? 

I urge the Planning Commission to require a detailed traffic study before this project is approved, and to carefully consider all ramifications before doing so. 

David Gurney

Fort Bragg

(A READER COMMENTS: Presently, there are no big box competitors here to force Harvest and Safeway to lower their prices. On average Harvest charges around 10% more than Safeway for the same product and Safeway’s prices are higher here than anywhere else in the state. Here’s the good news: Down Home Foods is a treasure trove of fresh organic fruits, vegetables, dairy products, etc. with prices substantially lower than Harvest or Safeway. Because they are small, they would be disproportionately affected by another big box store. Purity Market, with prices well below Safeway or Harvest, would likely be another casualty of adding Grocery Outlet to the equation. Right now, we do have money-saving choices for grocery shopping. I would rather see the city renovate the Social Services Office building to provide shelter for the homeless.)

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Steven Gomes filed another lawsuit against Mendocino City Community Services District in an attempt to undermine the District’s conservation efforts during a severe two-year drought. Mr. Gomes’ first lawsuit, filed in June 30, 2015, failed to prevent the MCCSD from working to conserve and sustain the community’s groundwater resources. The one minor area where he succeeded was to force the District to re-adopt its Groundwater Management Plan last year. The only tangible results from his original suit are significant legal fees imposed upon the District and our community.

Harold Hauck, President of the MCCSD’s elected board of directors, said: “It is unfortunate that as the people of Mendocino are impacted by a severe drought, Mr. Gomes has filed a second lawsuit attempting again to undermine the MCCSD’s legal right to manage groundwater resources for the benefit of the entire Mendocino Community.”

Along with repeating issues that Mr. Gomes unsuccessfully raised in his last lawsuit against the MCCSD, the current complaint lacks many specific factual details. The District will vigorously defend the new lawsuit while making every effort to limit legal costs.

The MCCSD board of directors made an emergency Stage Four Drought Declaration at its meeting on May 3, 2021 due to 2020-2021 rainfall of less than 50 percent of normal and lowering groundwater in District test wells to levels. Water conservation is imperative this coming summer and fall. Coping with this severe draught will be difficult for us all.

Ryan Rhoades, Superintendent, Mendocino City Community Services District

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Gavin Newsom is prohibited from running in the recall election. But his wife is not. Wouldn't that be fun? Does Fort Bragg want a Grocery Outlet? Not west of the highway, says Katy Tahja. If they only knew what happened in Willits. When the store opened there they had twice as much business as they expected. Refugees from Safeway. They doubled the amount of merchandise they carried. They are still doing a big business. 

On the coast they won't bother the Harvest Market because only Republicans shop there. Fort Bragg’s better class of people don't want to be seen pushing a shopping trolley down a Safeway aisle. They mince down the aisles carrying a basket. They never want to be seen at a Grocery Outlet.

Now we have a bunch of State legislators passing restrictive laws restricting dumb people from figuring out how to vote. Negroes seem to think that means them, too. The answer is just as with progressive gun laws, elect a few more Democrats to the Senate. 

But wait. Katy Tahja says there may be a better way. Two black substitute linemen sitting on a bench in below freezing weather. One says, “I don't want to play those three Florida teams.” The other says, “You don't look like you're playing any games this year.” The General Manager says, “Both of you signed a contract to sit on the bench and a stunt like this means no money, no money, no money.” I hear there are three third-string black quarterbacks who don't want to play any Georgia, Texas or Arizona team. We got plenty of white third string quarterbacks looking to replace your ass. Anybody else want to go on vacation? 85% of players in the NFL are black. Anybody want to upset America's sacred cow? Just give us a stimulus payment to get us through the season and see what happens. We will play winter ball in Cuba.

Occasionally I give out a new original idea. Here is number 39: “A secret vote.” Midway through the 2024 elections all Republican senators and the 25 most senior members of the House will take a secret vote on who they want for president. The same day all Democratic senators and 25 most senior members of the House will take the same vote. John Roberts will count the ballots and see that no one voted for themselves. He will announce the results of both votes on Labor Day. If any member refuses to vote, that person will be identified.

My purpose is to call attention to social, economic and political injustice. In so doing I intend to disturb people. However, I will never match the great disturber of the 80s and 90s, the AVA of Boonville, with its proprietor Bruce Anderson. 

One time Richard Shoemaker, the Second District supervisor, wrote a nice friendly letter to the AVA. The Editor said, "Hallelujah, now's my chance." The letter was followed by (in bold type) an Ed Reply which was followed by a black hole where the paper had been burned away. That's just one example of many. No wonder the PeeDee casts the fish eye toward Boonville. I tend to check to see what the prevailing wisdom is and take the opposite view which is the correct one most of the time.

I do not favor protecting local businesses against chain stores. Compete or die. Advertisements proclaiming 20% off? Off of what? Public servants soliciting input but giving the computer addresses only? Usually Republicans. They aren't interested in what people without a computer think. KZYX pledge drives doing a minute at the top of the hour. One lousy minute! When I see “ilk” in a letter to the editor I know I am going to disagree with what he has to say.

Finding a way to support immigration but the overwhelming number of gringos are against any more immigrants from anywhere. I'm here — to hell with you (unless you want to clean shithouses at $8.00 an hour). Rena Lynn’s daughter Bridget went down to Texas with her husband who had to take care of family business. After a couple of years she came back and I asked how the Texans were getting along with the African-Americans? “They're called (N-words) she said, and are tolerated as long as they clean the toilets and mop the floors.

The Willits Safeway. A black woman is seen shopping by the 25 or 30 white people in the store. They're all thinking the same thing: “Probably just passing through town.” “I hope so.”

Looking for a good lawyer? Choose one who refuses to do probate work. 

Why do I like the bullet train? Because the money spent will not be spent on projects like homelessness that are failures and the money is just thrown away. Jack London and his wife rode their horses from Lakeport but did not pass through Willits, just a little to the south.

The Republican primary of 2016. About where they are today, only worse. Did you read Maureen Dowd’s column on Liz Cheney? A classic. Subscribe to the PD for $342 a year, that's only 98¢ a copy.

Let's remember some good businesses. The US Cafe, entrance on Stockton and Columbus, Clifton’s Cafeteria on Market. Uncle’s Chinese Cafe on Waverly Place. Foster’s. JC Penney. Their Seattle store was seven stories tall. The Frisco store five. The Willits store one. Patagonia. Friedman Brothers in Santa Rosa and later in Ukiah. Friedman decided to do an honest business. No one has ever beaten them on price. It might be the best retail store in the state. Best inventory, knowledgeable employees.

The other issue: We said that if Mendocino County had a few more interesting people the AVA would have 4,000 subscribers. Heck! Make that 5,000 – 6,000! An asteroid started going round and round the world every 27 days per trip. DiFi appointed Fred Gardner on the naming committee. The lowest point was over South Western Mendocino County and was 1000 feet lower each trip. It was named the Anderson Valley Asteroid. 

Needless to say, news organizations from around the world were interested because eventually it was going to touch earth, probably in the Redwood Drive In parking lot. The AVA told the five republics of Central Asia (can you name them?) to just send $50 subscription to the AVA and we'll keep you informed. That became the protocol for all interested news organizations around the world. Boonville began feeling the heat when it passed over every 27 days, as it was made up of flaming hot rocks and chunks of iron. The heat was felt in Ukiah as well and the County jail was evacuated, the prisoners relocated to the newly completed Superior Court building on Perkins Street. Just as the asteroid skimmed the roof of the Redwood Drive In the AVA’s circulation hit 6,000.

A gringo dude bought a used 2006 Nissan and drove it to the bottom of Mexico where he met up with Subcomandante Marcos, something that John Ross failed to accomplish. Then he went home and wrote a book about his trip. He called it “On the Plain of Snakes.” The author drove over highways and visited towns and cities familiar to many of us. The best thing about the book is the author's ability to speak and understand enough Spanish to record conversations he had with Mexicans. Wherever he went he spoke with Mexicans he discovered they had traveled to the United States illegally, worked and returned to Mexico. He got shaken down by police and highway patrolmen several times for rather large sums of money. It seems as though crime has gotten worse (the trip was in 2018). Although people in rural areas have more consumer goods, the level of poverty hasn't changed much in the last 60 years.

"If the dust of Mexico has settled on your heart," you will like this book.

Ralph Bostrom 


PS. New word by Thom Hartmann: Magrants.

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I received my AVA in the mail today and for the second week running there’s no letter from Jerry Philbrick. I hope he is well.

Ashley Jones


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You may have seen this. There was an essay by Perri Klass in the June Harper's entitled "When Children Die." He comments that there is no word in English for the parent of a dead child, perhaps because throughout history, it would have been very likely that a parent would lose a child. 

In 1800, nearly half the children born in the US died before the age of 5. By 1900, between a fifth and a quarter of them died. In 1915, as my grandparents were growing up, one out of every 10 infants died before turning 1. 

The 20th century brought pasteurization, antibiotics and immunizations against diseases such as smallpox, diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, roto virus and polio, which were often lethal. 

In 1950, infants were dying at a rate of 29.2 per thousand live births. By 2018, it was down to 5.7 (African American rate:10.7). 

Let's get childhood death rates back up. No more vaccines. 

Peter Lit 


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I don’t blame Israel for the recent violence in that region. Rather, I blame the U.S. government. The US has a “special” relationship with Israel unlike any other country. In clinical terms, this would be described as a classic codependency. Bad for Israel. Bad for America. Terrible for the Palestinians.

By offering unconditional economic, military and diplomatic support, the U.S. is complicit in every gross human rights violation Israel is accused of. The recent Human Rights Watch report accusing Israel of apartheid and persecution should have referenced the U.S. too. Likewise, when Amnesty International said the eviction of Palestinian families from the Sheik Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem was a war crime, the U.S. should have also been condemned.

On the final day of the 9/11 hearings in June 2004, Lee Hamilton, the co-chair of the 9/11 commission, asked the panel of intelligence experts what motivated the hijackers to attack America. The response from FBI Special Agent James Fitzgerald was not surprising: “They identify with the Palestinian problem, they identify with people who oppose repressive regime,s and they tend to focus their anger on the United States.”

Steve Baker

Santa Rosa

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I was relieved to see the Sonoma County supervisors change their approach to cannabis growing rules. Living in rural Sebastopol, I don’t want any grows near my home. And for those who keep comparing growing pot to wine grapes, let’s make a genuine comparison: Except for some medical users, pot is used to get high. Wine is usually enjoyed with meals or with friends in a social setting; getting high is rarely the goal.

Pot uses considerably more water than grapes, period, no comparison there. Pot farms don’t compare to the beauty of vineyards by any measure I can think of. Pot stinks, grapes don’t. Lastly, when was the last time someone was killed or beaten in a raid on a vineyard?

Sadly, the powers that be only see the dollar signs from growing pot, not the long-term negative effects it will have on our county. Say no to pot, just like Napa County did. And, please, continue to let your supervisor know your opposition to pot crops.

Mike Tuhtan


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Water, water everywhere and not a drop… 

California is in drought while large parts of the East and Midwest have more water than they know what to do with. It makes no sense that water from the East isn’t moved to California. Oil is moved from Canada to the Gulf, far more distant than (for example) the Great Lakes to California. The technology for moving liquids over great distances is known. Why is it not being discussed as a solution to California’s water shortages? 

Michael Burwen



  1. Stacey Rose June 3, 2021

    Fair Board letter by Tom McFadden is the exact problem with “Big Government” going small. CSD is way out of bounds on this and it’s not a problem if the “good” people on Hael st. Bring their septic up to code. Another possibility is maybe there are too many freakin people residing in a small area. Fairgrounds board being made out to be the bad guys is a real slap in the face to this community. How dare you!!!
    CSD also slaps the community in the face especially valarie Hannelt. A retired school teacher that lives off Fish Rock and has a “posh” air B and B which most likely is “off books”. She violates transparency and Roberts Rules about notifications and other procedures which will ultimately be the demise of any vote. She also praised herself and dumb downed the community by her arrogant talk on how we are lucky that an intelligent outsider retired here and is volunteering to rescue the valley. Wonder Woman is here to screw it all up. Saying valley people are mentally and economically challenged is the rudest. Most ignorant statement. Also begging people to express interest in running for the board because they never really wanted to do it anyway. Then when there is a challenger complain about the cost. The way you idiots speak in the public meetings is a disgrace . You need to wake the f&$k up and look around. No resident has ever paid for water or sewer, and don’t want to. Nobody wants construction for years in town or another board governing another agency at the expense of this stupid idea that there is money to be had from the state? Who cares! This valley has more 501c’3s than then any other rural place. The scams are plentiful here. CSD just got a deal on the park , make that your wastewater plant site. Quit calling the fair board out who you did an “end around” on by going to the board of supes. Classless as well as violated roberts rules. Not only complaining about the board members but also suggested that they audit their books. How about an audit of CSD books instead. Fair board gave you 2 unanimous votes of NO. That’s pretty powerful. Simple solution here, no tax money needed, property owners need to be in compliance . Simple, comply. Code enforcement is like tits on a boar, useless but not pointless. They are going for the dopers that’s where the $$ is . So they don’t tag or enforce squat around here. So once again you need to check yourself. Simple code compliance and enforcement will solve this problem. Wanna talk housing? There are literally hundreds of homes around this valley unoccupied. There should be an incentive for people to rent or sell those homes to people in this valley. Currently 8 homes just on Lambert Lane. Also AV way has at least 10. That would be money better spent. Hael st, is over populated and out of compliance . Why have laws and code enforcement if the answer is always going to be to do something else?

    • Stacey Rose June 3, 2021

      Oh yeah, the “back parking lot” at fairgrounds has neighbors and is not outta sight outta mind area. Wake up.

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