Press "Enter" to skip to content

Letters (August 5, 2021)

* * *



Please read this and consider signing. This practice is out of control, just look at the area around the Greenwood bridge near Hendy Woods. 

Official Redwood Chapter Campaign

Hold PG&E Accountable For Infrastructure Failure in Wildfires

Join us to demand that PG&E stops ravaging our trees and instead invests in modern infrastructure that will greatly reduce wildfire risk. State leaders must hold PG&E accountable for its negligence.

Why This Matters

PG&E’s antiquated infrastructure is vulnerable to high winds and its outdated lines create sparks that can turn into massive fire events. These fires have destroyed thousands of homes and other structures, killed people, forced hundreds of thousands of evacuations, and upended Californians’ lives. Modern technology can eliminate these risks even if a tree falls into a power line.

Yet, instead of upgrading to this modern infrastructure, PG&E has blamed the fires on trees! The utility has begun an assault on forested land by wholesale slaughter of trees near power lines, few of which actually pose a hazard. Trees sequester enormous amounts of carbon and are a vital line of defense against climate change. They should never be destroyed unnecessarily. This destruction also harms ecosystems and does NOT reduce fire hazard.

In addition, PG&E is not providing private landowners with notice, nor getting their permission, when encroaching onto their land to remove trees. Landowners have a right to refuse tree removal, even within PG&E’s right of way.

Not only has PG&E worked to divert attention from its own negligence, it has embarked on a propaganda campaign to blame the trees and gain public support for “enhanced vegetation management.” This tactic puts the cost on us, the ratepayers, whereas, if PG&E were to instead upgrade its infrastructure, the utility would have to pay for the improvements itself—a blow to shareholders. Ironically, it costs less to modernize the infrastructure than to do “enhanced vegetation management.”

Please join us in demanding that PG&E stop ravaging our trees and instead invest in modern infrastructure that will greatly reduce wildfire risk. We are asking state leaders to hold PG&E accountable for its negligence and misguided priorities.

Please add your name to show your support for this effort and to let your state regulatory and elected leaders know that PG&E must change its course of action.

Learn More:

Johnny Schmitt


* * *



I got my dander up a bit writing a comment for the New York Times and thought I might share it, with some editing:

Well, if the pandemic has shown us anything what it has shown us is that we CAN house the homeless. So let's get going on that...It is time for Americans to stand up and say, "enough.”

We need to provide housing, and by this I mean housing in houses, not in dormitories or shelters. We also need to change the rules so that people can build their own houses, and by this I mean that we should eliminate and streamline the permit process, and the permit requirements, so that Americans will again be able to build for themselves.

All of this talk about "affordable housing" is, in my opinion, just so much hogwash. What is "affordable housing" anyway? I bought 20 acres in Northern Ca. in 1973 and when that was all said and done I had $5000 left and I tore down an old mill cabin and built a house with that and the $5000. I also put in a well and septic system - the money stretched that far. No way today, baby, the septic permit and fees will cost at least $15,000. The permit process for a house will likely be that much or more… I think of what I did as affordable housing, and it was all permitted and all inspected and up to code.

If we want to house the homeless, and we should want to do that because we are all just a breath or an accident or a banker away from that ourselves, we had better make it possible for a person to build himself or herself a home. We had better erase the contractors and the permit guys from the process and teach people how to use tools.

We had also better find some land for folks to build on...and give them that land. I would suppose that there is a lot of land around that is really public property…

The homeless are not the problem, the problem is the system!


Tom McFadden


* * *



I appreciated your observation recently. It seems the public face of the law, when it comes to the health of our creeks, differs from that of the boots on the ground.

Water theft in that stretch of creek is as old as the subdivided and sold off Seabiscuit's Ridgewood Ranch. I have owned the residual parcel of that ranch for the last decade and I have seen it all.

In the early days, as has been admitted to me on occasion, the holes in that section of creek served as the sole source of water for many of the early residents that operated on a shoestring. These parcels were subdivided and sold prior to the subdivision act and, as a result, were not developed to a point of planned septic and installation of a potable water well. Many of those parcels, especially South of the Russian / Eel divide, are dry.

Wells have always been an expensive endeavor, and for many of these early residents not an option fiscally. The barrel of water, filled by the creek side, became the de rigueur practice, part of the living off the land experience.

As people have moved in with different scales of economy than those early residents, these practices fell out of equilibrium with the commons. This new economy of scale enabled larger trucks and tanks, and more powerful pumps resulted in significantly more impact. In the intervening decades, the cut over land has been relentlessly growing back, the stands of fir are dense and stand in stark comparison to the remaining stumps of the old growth in their density. 

These two inconvenient facts combine to bring us into our current paradigm. The lack of management of the land has led to increasing demands on the groundwater in our watersheds. An 18-inch diameter Douglas Fir tree evapotranspiration rate is 800 gallons per day. Multiply this number by the current tree count in many of our headwaters, and it becomes clear that the forest's water demand is far greater than historical levels.

People with their big pumps and tanks are just the last straw in this destruction of the commons. You are correct that the last defense is the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. When you drain a pool, it may only technically be a low level misdemeanor with regards to the water stolen, the habitat that water represents to the endangered Salmonid species is definitely a significantly larger violation.

Please publicize the CDFW tipline as the prime contact for issues of this ilk.

Thank you,

Philip Stewart

Williams Ranch Road, Willits

* * *



Thank you, Bob Dempel, for your memory of Walter Sandelin, Mr. Ukiah. On June 29, 1970, the Monday I opened my law office, I didn’t know anyone in town. I remember only one person coming in all day. It was Walter, who took the time to drop in and introduce himself, and I’ve never forgotten his greeting:

“Welcome, Brother Luther.”

I do think of him, especially driving south on 101, crossing the bridge just before the Sonoma County line. I always wave and say “Hello, Walter.”

James Luther


* * *



Beginning in June 2020, Dr. Scott Atlas, a medical adviser to Donald Trump, promoted herd immunity — suggesting that everyone be exposed to COVID-19 so the disease could cull the vulnerable. That is exactly what is happening right now among the voluntarily unvaccinated. Mission accomplished! Here’s the irony: I know that Trump is fully vaccinated, and I’ll bet Atlas is as well. There’s a cliché for that: Do as I say, not as I do.

Steve Schlich


* * *


To the Editor:

The Board of the Sanhedrin Chapter of the California Native Plant Society would like to submit the following comment on the current status of the Mendocino County Cannabis Ordinance. It’s a complex issue with social, economic and environmental facets. Our focus is on native plant and habitat conservation utilizing best available science and conservation tools. We see flaws and strengths in both the previous and current ordinances, and have the following position on ANY cannabis cultivation ordinance for Mendocino County. Whatever the direction we go, a full and comprehensive Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is critical to help us develop policies that mitigate the cumulative impacts of this activity in our landscape.

Jennifer Riddell


* * *



I’d love to see all private companies deny service to those selfish people who won’t get the COVID-19 vaccine. It’s a matter of public health. No vaccine? No airline ticket. As a matter of fact, no public transportation at all. Include shopping. No vaccine? Then you can’t personally shop. Order online. Concerts, movie houses, restaurants — all could require proof of vaccination for admittance. These anti-vaxxers are a danger to the public. I’m sure some businesses would allow them entry, but if more got tough it might change some minds.

Something’s got to give. Numbers are going up again. We’re never going to be rid of this until more people get the shot. And while we’re at it, let’s remind everyone that mask mandates are not a punitive measure. They’re just trying to keep people healthy.

Deborah Colyer

Santa Rosa

* * *


To the Editor:

I am a patient at the Adventist Heart Institute in Ukiah, California. On July 19, 2021, I was given a Ultra Sound Exam by a pleasant young woman. The procedure required that she be within three feet of me for 20 minutes in a small room. During the conversation I asked her if she had been vaccinated as I assumed all health workers would be. Her answer was no she had not been vaccinated but had been tested two weeks before. I was shocked that someone who I trusted to guard my health and perhaps improve it could be the cause of my becoming sick with Covid. I am especially concerned now with the new and far more dangerous variant that is taking off in the United States. I am 87 years old and in a high risk age group. I have followed strict protocols to protect myself from the virus.

This letter urges the Adventist Hospital to require vaccinations for all its employees. If I am going to be treated by any medical personnel, I require that they be vaccinated. If by some way I become ill from this encounter, I will hold Adventist Hospital responsible and take the appropriate action.

Char Flum

Fort Bragg

* * *



At last someone (Katha Pollitt, The Nation, July 12, 2019) has noticed the naked emperor petting the elephant in the room. The elephant is a growing human population which is responsible for almost all environmental problems (natural disasters excepted). If you started reading this a minute ago there are approximately now 150 more people on earth. That's 276,000 people a day. (That's not a typo). On this day next year there will be 80 million more people on earth. Most will be born into countries that have already met or exceeded their carrying capacity for humans — sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, parts of South and Central America.

What can be done to help Mother Earth?

First of all, don't vote Republican. They cause an decrease in abortions and an increase of unintended and unwanted children every time they get into power by cutting aid to international family planning clinics. President Biden has restored the severe cuts by the Trump administration, but population stability cannot be achieved until every woman can control her own body via access to modern forms of contraception.

So help the earth by supporting organizations that promote international education and family planning. Tomorrow there will be another 226,000 people joining us.

Don Phillips


* * *


Dear AVA,

I sent an e-mail to Senator Joe Manchin about how if he doesn't get with it for the People's Act (or the ending of gerrymandering) along with lots of protecting of the people’s right to vote that he would end up being one of two people whose legacy will be in the history books as refusing to save our democracy before it died. That is the legacy he wants to be remembered for? I asked for is a reply but I doubt I'll get one since I live in California, not Virginia. I just wanted him to know what his legacy will be if he doesn't stop trying to give the Republicans what they want.

It is perfectly clear to all of us that the People's Act is needed or our democracy will be an autocracy after just one more election. The Republicans in the Senate have proven themselves to be completely uninterested in any fair dealing. They had four years with Trump and McConnell did only two things: a tax cut for the rich and a half done prison reform plan that Trumped only signed to have a photo op with the Kardashians.

They are doing everything they can, unconstitutionally, to rig the vote for real. In fact, that was Trump's plan, to steal the election while saying that the Democrats were.

Joe Biden received eight million more votes in a great and honest election and Trump and his cult have been ruining it ever since.

The folks who believed Trump and attacked our capitol should have known better, even military folks know not to follow an illegal command!

So these folks were not well educated. Too many of them were racist. It said so on their clothes. These folks call themselves white supremacists yet still don’t even realize that "Nazis" were "white supremacists." Maybe some folks wouldn't hang out with them if they realize how close to Nazis they are. They might think twice if we were Nazis instead of white supremecists. A lot of them might change their minds about thinking that any group is superior to any other group. Under our skin we are all the same, human!

Thank you for listening.

Karen Linde


PS. Too many congresspeople have gerrymandered districts. If they were drawn fairly they would not hold their seats. Did you know that in many Republican states Democrats get more votes but the gerrymandering of districts keeps them from winning? It's been this way for a long time, too long! That's why Republicans feel free to do nothing!

* * *



In the wake of protests across Cuba, the Biden administration is being pressured from the left and the right, reminding us that Cuba is a domestic political issue, not just a foreign policy one.

Although our 60-year-old embargo of Cuba has failed to dislodge the government, some on the right want to support the opposition, even with arms or troops, tighten the embargo or impose new sanctions. These options would perpetuate the hardships and suffering of Cubans and provoke more repression, bloodshed and possible civil war.

An alternative would be to lift the embargo, allow Cuban Americans to send money to their families, remove restrictions on travel and allow Americans to invest and trade in Cuba.

Lifting the embargo would relieve acute shortages in food and medicine; removing restrictions on remittances would help Cuban families with relatives abroad; allowing travel would spark tourism, the major source of foreign exchange; and lifting restrictions on investment and trade would spark economic growth in the private sector.

Instead of isolating Cuba, the embargo has isolated the United States and failed to remove the Cuban regime. To convince our friends “America is back,” President Joe Biden should lift the embargo and close Guantánamo.

Tony White

Santa Rosa

* * *



Vaccine skepticism isn’t our only problem. We need to recognize that so-called breakthrough infections are almost certainly more widespread than we are willing to let people believe. We talk about reaching herd immunity, and vaccination is the more ideal way (rather than letting everyone get infected).

But part of that theory assumes to a great degree that people who are vaccinated serve as a blockade in the spread of the infection. In other words, the more people who are vaccinated, the less likely it is for an unvaccinated person to come into contact with a source of infection.

However, breakthrough infections — if common — throw that theory out the window. 

The fact that we are finding breakthrough infections largely by circumstantial testing strongly suggests we would find far more if we were aggressively testing, which we are no longer doing, particularly in the vaccinated.

So — and most don’t want to hear this — short of the vaccine hesitant getting vaccinated (which they should), the best way to limit the potential breakthrough infections that could threaten them remains universal masking. It’s that simple.

Craig H. Kliger

San Francisco

* * *



Hello Cleveland! Thanks for finally doing the right thing by grudgingly ditching your city’s Major League Baseball franchise name “The Indians” at the end of the 2021 MLB season.

Yes, the name “The Indians” was racist as all get-out, and Cleveland’s recently retired team logo “Chief Wahoo” was even more ridiculously reprehensible than the team’s soon-to-be former moniker. But who doesn’t love the possibility of redemption for long-time losers and ultimate underdogs, like Cleveland itself.

If there is one thing that Cleveland’s MLB franchise has been consistent at since the era of World War II - back when all Americans could openly and unapologetically agree that “the only good Nazi is a dead Nazi” - it’s that Cleveland couldn’t win the World Series (except for in 1948). Maybe a new team name is just what Cleveland baseball needs.

Cleveland’s new MLB team name “The Guardians” will debut in 2022. Perhaps Atlanta will follow suit and drop their MLB franchise’s name “The Braves” before next season? “The Bandits” would be a much more appropriate choice for the city of Atlanta. (I’m pretty sure Burt Reynolds, Sally Field, Jerry Reed, and Jackie Gleason would all agree with that.)

East Bound and Down,

Jake Pickering 


One Comment

  1. Mud August 5, 2021

    Regarding breakthrough:

    Imperfect Vaccination Can Enhance the Transmission of Highly Virulent Pathogens
    (Google it…)

    “…There is a theoretical expectation that some types of vaccines could prompt the evolution of more virulent (“hotter”) pathogens. This idea follows from the notion that natural selection removes pathogen strains that are so “hot” that they kill their hosts and, therefore, themselves. Vaccines that let the hosts survive but do not prevent the spread of the pathogen relax this selection, allowing the evolution of hotter pathogens to occur. This type of vaccine is often called a leaky vaccine. When vaccines prevent transmission, as is the case for nearly all vaccines used in humans, this type of evolution towards increased virulence is blocked. But when vaccines leak, allowing at least some pathogen transmission, they could create the ecological conditions that would allow hot strains to emerge and persist. This theory proved highly controversial when it was first proposed over a decade ago, but here we report experiments with Marek’s disease virus in poultry that show that modern commercial leaky vaccines can have precisely this effect: they allow the onward transmission of strains otherwise too lethal to persist. Thus, the use of leaky vaccines can facilitate the evolution of pathogen strains that put unvaccinated hosts at greater risk of severe disease. The future challenge is to identify whether there are other types of vaccines used in animals and humans that might also generate these evolutionary risks.”

    (From the CDC)
    (Google it as well…)
    In July 2021, following multiple large public events in a Barnstable County, Massachusetts, town, 469 COVID-19 cases were identified among Massachusetts residents who had traveled to the town during July 3–17; 346 (74%) occurred in fully vaccinated persons. Testing identified the Delta variant in 90% of specimens from 133 patients. Cycle threshold values were similar among specimens from patients who were fully vaccinated and those who were not.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *