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Letters (September 2, 2021)

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Dear Editor,

As Charles Dickens began his novel A Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times.” 

Yesterday as a thankfulfully vaccinated guy, I’m getting ready to attend church to say a prayer or two and practice my religion. The smoke from numerous wildfires has finally cleared so the prospects are good for open air shopping at the farmer’s market. 

Life is good. I await the booster vaccine shot news to arrive soon from Kaiser Permanente. It is a simple public health decision. Public health and the science of the medical profession are very different from politics. 

“And the worst of times.”

Many Americans now are dying from the delta variant of the deadly Covid19 pandemic. It is terribly sad that many of the Covid19, delta variant victims ask their ICU MDs or nurses, “Can you give me a vaccine shot?” because the sad truth is that vaccines prevent the disease, but they have to be received long before a person gets sick. Even if the shot could be given at that late time, it couldn’t act fast enough to prevent death. 

Public health isn’t political; it never was, never will be.

Frank Baumgardner

Santa Rosa

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Hi Alexis and Kari (Caltrans staffers);

In July of 2020, after reading about the Active Transportation Plan in the newspaper, I wrote mainly to remind Caltrans that there had been a group called The Valley Trail in Anderson Valley and that $130,000 had been spent to develop a detailed plan for a bike and pedestrian pathway from Cloverdale to the Coast. I wondered, and still wonder, why that amount of money was spent on a plan that has apparently been forgotten. Our group spent all of the money that we had been able to raise locally and failed to get a grant to build one mile to connect our schools here in Boonville. We are discouraged and we have since disbanded and given up our non-profit status. (501C-3). There is a new Highway 128 bridge, wide enough for at least five lanes, on the North end of Boonville, and Caltrans alleged it is not wide enough to have a bike lane. We would have had to build a new bike bridge, estimated to cost one million dollars, although the rest of our one mile proposed path would have had to be on the shoulder of the 2 lane highway.

Although I thought that any bike and pedestrian pathway would be better than none, I was disappointed in the plan for The Valley Trail because it called for the pathway to be on the highway shoulder, perhaps separated from the traffic only by a little fence. Where there was no shoulder one would be constructed…. What I had envisioned was a path meandering along the highway where necessary, but also diverging from the highway to go through Hendy Woods State Park, The Boonville Fairgrounds, Indian Creek County Park and the State owned lands along the Navarro River. There are also numerous logging roads and old logging rail lines that could be utilized. Folks along Highway 128 near the Cloverdale end were offering to let the pathway go through their private property. I thought there might be feeder paths connecting the main trail to Yorkville, Boonville, Philo and Navarro as well as to other locations where parking and trailheads would be established.

Now I am reading the Active Transportation Plan 2021 and I find that I have the same objections. Caltrans seems totally focused on using the existing highway system for bike and pedestrian pathways along with the motorized traffic. I feel that this is terribly shortsighted at best and that it is unsafe as well. You have a photo of a guy riding a bike and about to cross the area where auto traffic will merge onto the 101 freeway. I would not be that guy on that bike! Does Caltrans think that people driving cars and/or trucks and merging onto a freeway are thinking about bikes? People pulling out of parking spaces in Boonville, or out of the drive-in do not think to see if my wife, Kathleen, and I are nearby on our bikes. Does Caltrans seriously think that “share the road” signs will protect folks on bikes from inattentive or outright hostile drivers? I think that you should go ahead with this plan, because it is better than no plan, but I think you should add “bikes beware” and/or “watch out for cars and trucks” signs.

Caltrans' plan to use the highway system in this way may be the least expensive way to go, and it will undoubtedly attract some of the many folks who want to bike or walk to work, or to school, or for pleasure, but I feel that it is shortsighted in that it totally fails to recognize that people wanting to bike or walk do not necessarily want to do so right on the edge of a busy highway with cars and trucks alongside them. I submit that most folks walking or biking would like to do so on a pathway away from the noise and the pollution and the danger they will encounter along a highway.

I would suggest that Caltrans take a look at what Colorado has done with bike and walking paths in Boulder and Denver. Or perhaps someone there should take a ride on the bike and walking path that follows I-70 through Glenwood Canyon. Many such pathways have been built on abandoned, or along not abandoned, railroads. Why is the “Great Redwood Trail” proposed to follow the tracks of the Northwestern Pacific Railroad not even mentioned in your plan? I would like Caltrans to get out of the highway ditch and get creative with this. We have a system of highways designed for cars and trucks – let’s build a system of pathways designed for walking and biking and riding on horses. Is Caltrans up to that? 

Tom McFadden


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Re: Point Arena Cove Project

Hello Editor,

I am surprised that the AVA has not been reporting on the ongoing protest over the Cove project in Point Arena, where Richard Shoemaker, the “special projects manager” secured FEMA funding to protect the parking lot at the Point Arena Cove by placing more giant boulders where Point Arena creek meets the ocean. The public was basically not apprised of the project until it was a “done deal.” 

Local fishermen, surfers, environmentalists and residents of Point Arena are outraged and are in the process of shutting down the project. It would be great if the AVA would do some investigative reporting on this issue. Bill Arana, a longtime local Point Arena fisherman is leading the effort to shut the project down. There was a City Council meeting Tuesday night where the City Council put the breaks on the project until there is more public input. It’s a good scoop and you should be covering it. 


Alethea Patton


Ed note: We're eternally skeptical of anything involving Shoemaker, who probably took a whack of the grant for himself. We agree with the protesters that the project is unnecessary.

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To the Editor,

 We country bumpkins love a good yarn. The bigger the fable, the more readily it can be swallowed. Trump's death-grip on the white male imagination is a fine example. Here is another: Logging restrictions devastate our rural economy. 

It's not devastation, it's a clearcut. It wasn't that in our spree to harvest that we were cutting trees faster than they are able to grow. And it wasn't mechanized production that left too many workers on the bread line. It wasn't that automation in sawmills had any discernable effect on our local economy. Or that offshore log markets or global politics or globalism itself, or tariffs or trade wars had any bearing on rural life. It has nothing to do with the local management decisions made by graduates of the OSU School of Forestry in support of financial paradigms that have never taken local economies into account. 

Nope, logging restrictions are to blame. And tree huggers. And that old salt, Captain Traders. And owls and murrelets, and other fuzzy wuzzies. And rising seawater and warming oceans and domoic acid. Not all mudslides are created equal. Our hands are clean. Trees are a renewable resource. It's simple, cut one, and plant ten. Cut ten, and plant one hundred more. Rinse and repeat. What could go wrong; we are safe. We are living in a bubble. 

Gary Durheim


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This morning I saw an online photo of a motorhome stuck on one of the new flowerbeds in downtown Ukiah while trying to turn right onto Seminary from State Street. Think any other new corner improvements might be a problem?

Two days ago the Ukiah Daily Journal ran a front-page photo of State Street and Perkins Street with a nice rah-rah article about how happy we should all be with our new and improved State Street. I don't think people will be thrilled about turning from northbound State Street avoiding a bulb-out where they used to turn. Probably not buses or motorhomes either.

While waiting to turn north on State Street at the Scott Street stop light I noticed that southbound traffic, both lanes, was backed up all the way to Scott Street. I thought maybe an accident. But no, it was just two lanes of traffic squeezing into one lane downtown. That’ll teach all those speeders a lesson.

Let's have a street party to celebrate our beautiful and much-needed improvements. Who cares if it's Pandemic #2? What could go wrong?

When the Church Street prostitute plaque was removed, Supervisor Mo Mulheren was going to find a more appropriate location. I thought that idea couldn't possibly work and the plaque was gone to a dusty closet somewhere. Well, good news does sometimes happen. Somebody finally figured out that the appropriate place was where it was taken from to begin with. Ya think? So if you had anything to do with this, Mo, good on you and a gold star.

Gary Miles


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Letter to the Editor

I must be getting older and dumber because some things make less sense than they used to when I didn’t pay any attention to them at all. 

For one example, an article about a recent 4-H and FFA auction. I understand it’s understandable for the next generation of meat growers to learn to care for the animals some people want to eat. Healthy looking prime critters will sell for more, and with all the difficulties of being a family meat grower, getting ranch kids into the business must not be easy. What gets me is all the primping and petting and mooning over the future pork chops of America, giving the critters baths and haircuts and for all I know perfume and soft music and equitage training for the big show at the fair, 

I mean, pigs for example are supposed to be smarter than dogs, and anyone who’s owned a dog knows that his dog ain’t dumb by a long shot, so what is going through these porkers’ minds as the date for them to get whacked by a Xavier Bardem bolt to the brain slowly creeps up on them? Isn’t there some psychic disconnect here for the young folks too? Isn’t there a moment when the boy looks at the pig and the pig looks back at the boy and both of them know this isn’t going to end on a pleasant note? 

Sort of a Jon Benet Ramsey ending, so to speak. But what do I know? Some other AVA smart guy might explain it to me. 

As long as I’m on the subject of not understanding things, I don’t know why this fool Gallagher wants to waste a million dollars getting rid of a DA in Sonoma County who will be out of office in a year anyway. It’s not like he’s going to be the big mugwump here. He must just be a simple minded egomaniac, a fault among the Irish, we all know. I know the DA is a stooge for the cops, that’s Job One. So why not vote for her? The thing is, personally, summed up by a name: Andy Lopez. Maybe some smart guy can explain to me why I shouldn’t feel this way about it. 

Jay Williamson

Santa Rosa

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Fort Bragg land and our homestead.

I enjoyed R.D. Beacon’s article concerning city slickers etc. This plot to change Fort Bragg’s name is in part a conspiracy by the Fort Bragg police department and several "ranking ex-hippies" who really want to use this opportunity to incorporate Noyo Village into the Fort Bragg city limits. Face facts, Darth Vader fans, after about 170 years I really doubt if Noyo will vote to rescind their sovereignty.

Back to the renaming of the town of Fort Bragg. Very simple. Rename it the City of Mendoza (or Mendoza Beach). Rescind city limits to Pudding Creek Bridge. Keep the Bridge's name, just call the beach Mendoza. That fork at the Noyo River was named Pudding Creek due to the Pudding native Crow and Yuki swimmers who would eat after their swim to Saunders Reef in the 1800s.

The name of Fort Bragg schools can only be changed by an act of Congress. Of course, the post office will become Mendoza Post Office where it originated on the corner of Redwood Avenue and McPherson Street that happens to be originally owned by the Mendoza family and the zip code would remain 95437.

The library should be changed to Greenwood Library and the tiny park by the Guest House Museum changed to Greenwood Park. The middle school and senior center could be changed to Greenwood also, but I really believe Fort Bragg high school should remain the same. I'm sure most of my fellow alumni would want that along with our school colors of purple and white and the Timberwolf logo.

That's all for now folks. I'm busy supporting our governor for the people: Governor Newsom.


David ‘Detective Youngcault’ Giusti, Elder born in Mendoza by way of Gray Whale.

Mendocino County Jail


PS. I noticed in the August fourth AVA that some coward called General Braxton Bragg a “low life.” Could you please write a retraction stating what you meant by lowlife and if you are not a coward attach your name to it.

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Dear Coast Community,

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

I’ve been dreading writing this column for days now — because three weeks ago, I got a new job. I’ll be stepping down from my role as the editor of the Advocate-News and Beacon as of August 27.

I can’t officially tell you where I’m going yet, but it’s a great opportunity for me, back in my hometown and near family. There’s not much more I could ask for than that. To those of you who went out of your way to help me here, thank you. Your kindness and grace meant a lot to me.

I started this job on March 3, 2020. And if you just whispered “Oh no…” to yourself, then you get it.

In those early, halcyon days, my goals were lofty. But as the pandemic dragged on, and more and more things were cut from the newsroom, I started to despair that I might wind up being the last editor the coast papers ever had.

That was my ultimate, nightmare scenario.

We dropped from a staff of eight to just three, and everyone but me was part-time. The paper is edited, written and produced from my kitchen table in a tiny apartment above downtown Fort Bragg. Soon, we no longer had an office manager or even an ad salesman. At one point, the company that owns both the Advocate and Beacon were even talking about merging the papers. Then our office lease was terminated, and our archives were scattered to various historical societies.

I wish I could tell you how hard this job is sometimes. I wonder sometimes if people think newspaper editors are a caricature of old men smoking stogies in a dark backroom somewhere, thumbs under their suspenders, making flippant decisions with no regard for the community they serve.

The plain fact is, I — along with other young men and women across this country — are pounding the pavement daily, walking and talking and caring about it and serving it. We want to be a source of joy and hope and knowledge to our communities, and I am convinced that newspapers are not dying, so long as journalists like us exist.

But it’s a struggle sometimes to get people to understand just how vital the American free press really is to places like Fort Bragg and Mendocino. Shout “fake news” all you like, but the Advocate and Beacon are the only local media outlets that still cover vital small government meetings like the Fort Bragg City Council and the Mendocino City Community Services District. We’re also the only outlet in the county that regularly covers the Mendocino Board of Supervisors.

And if you think these boring, local meetings aren’t important, but you despair at the state of Sacramento and Washington D.C., then boy, oh boy, do I have news for you: Where do you think those games start?

If nothing else, I wish I could impart to you that the North Coast is so lucky to still have two newspapers. Hundreds of local papers across the country, just like the Advocate and Beacon, have disappeared in the last decade, and countless more in just the last 18 months. According to The Poynter Institute for Media Studies, more than 1,800 local newsrooms have closed since 2004 across the county, and 1,700 of them were weeklies, just like this paper.

And it happens just like this. A paper is whittled down on staff and resources until it’s nothing, being put out from a kitchen table, and can no longer make money for the company that owns it, ‘til finally, one day… it’s just gone. Not a roar, not even a whisper. Just gone.

So if you want a local paper that’s worth picking up, then you need to take action. Yes, you. You reading this will need to do something. Because, I assure you, no one cares about these newspapers so much as the communities of Fort Bragg and Mendocino do. And no one else in this world could possibly save them.

If you want a strong, healthy local paper, then you have to do something about it. No one else will. All of that history, and all of that future, will be lost to time if you don’t. Is that to be the legacy of the Advocate and Beacon? Of W. H. Meacham? Of William and Augie Heeser?

So what to do? Start by buying an Advocate or a Beacon today. And then buy one next week and the week after that.

Then tell your friends to buy one, too. Support your local paper with your wallet. Not NPR, CNN, FOX, MSNBC, not even the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat or Ukiah Daily Journal will report the North Coast’s local news the way it deserves to be covered. But first, there has to be some sort of buy-in from the community.

Encourage your local organizations and groups to submit information to the papers. Buy a subscription for yourself, and after that, buy one for someone else, too. The community has to come together. A newspaper cannot be saved by sheer will. (I should know; I tried.)

You have to think of saving your local papers in the same way you would save a historical house or a beautiful garden or a pristine coastline.

In the short-term, best-case scenario, you could help us fund a new reporter position through something like the Report For America program. For now, you can make sure you’re submitting stories and photos. Write letters to the editor. Place advertisements for events, for your business, or for anything else you can think of.

And if you don’t want that money going to a faceless entity, then maybe someone, somewhere here on the coast, is retired after a financially successful career and wants to buy back the papers on behalf of the community? Wouldn’t that be fantastic?

If my tenure here as editor is remembered for only one thing, I hope it’s that I helped keep the coast’s two papers alive during a pandemic. And for the rest of my career, wherever I go, I will always remember my time here.

Goodbye, and thank you.

Robin Epley, Editor, Fort Bragg Advocate

Fort Bragg

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I write to voice my opinion about an article written by Katy Tahja and published in the AVA of July 21, 2021. Ms. Tahja has once again “written” an article about the history of the schoolhouses in Mendocino County. The article published in the edition cited above once again shows her ignorance for conventions of giving the source and authors of her information. While she has heavily used excerpts from the “What Became of the Little Red Schoolhouse?” series, she never credits the persons responsible for researching, collecting and compiling the vast wealth of information contained in the series. Alice Holmes, my mother, and Joanne Matson, her sister, spent untold hours, and six years assembling this vast quantity of information so that it could be accessed for all interested in the local history the County.

Since she draws so heavily on this source she should have noted that the authors carefully cite the sources of the information in their work. I am disappointed that Ms. Tahja continues to plagiarize from the work of my family never giving credit to the two native daughters of Mendocino County who made her information available. I implore her to be more forthright in the future and give credit where credit is due.

Jill Holmes Walker


KATY TAHJA REPLIES; I accept the criticism that I have not acknowledged the two outstanding women who gathered the information for the five volumes of â\”What Became of the Little RedSchoolhouse?” Alice Holmes and Joanne Mason gave years of time to assemble these volumes and I will be ever grateful for their research as I share Mendocino County history with AVA readers. Their names will be included in any future references to the volume. Katy Tahja

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Letter to the Editor,

Several folks asked me how to vote in the current ballot. I said definitely vote NO on the recall, since if it passes the governorship would go to the highest vote getter, which is now a Trumpian Republican. And I voted for Joel Ventresca, a politically experienced, Bernie Sanders-supporting progressive Democrat. I believe he”s the 6th name on the list of candidates. I hope this is helpful. 

Tom Wodetzki


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Dear Editor,

In the debate over vaccinations, I’ve read quotes from people declining to be vaccinated because, “they believe in God.”

Which makes me wonder: to which God are they referring?

I know that, during the early months of the pandemic, millions of people around the world prayed that a vaccine would be developed. I know many, if not all, scientists and researchers of faith prayed that God would guide their hand as they devoted countless hours, days, months to develop a vaccine. I know that even non-believers would agree that the successful development of the vaccines in record time was nothing short of miraculous! So, I have to ask, why would any pious person decline a vaccine that is clearly a godsend? 

Richard Salzman


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Vietnam 1975, Operation Babylift. When Saigon experienced a forced evacuation just before North Vietnamese forces overtook the city, I was part of the first C-141 aircraft team that landed after the crash of the initial C-5 rescue mission. The crash killed 138 passengers and crew members, mostly children. I experienced the fear and desperation of the local citizens begging us to get them on our aircraft. It was a case of poor U.S. government planning and execution — something I hoped would never happen again. It saddens me to see our new administration repeating military errors by abandoning the peaceful citizens of Afghanistan and allowing terrorists and women-haters to take control of an entire country. Who will they attack next? This is not over.

Jack Atkins

Santa Rosa

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Time to leave.

The United States spent $2 trillion and more than 2,400 military lives attempting to democratize Afghanistan. We have failed to conquer the Taliban, just as the Romans, British and Russians failed to conquer Afghanistan. It is time to leave, despite the tragic impact leaving will have on women and girls there.

The people of Afghanistan must resolve their civil war. America faces our own national crises in white nationalist terrorism, depleted public health systems, unattainable higher education, income inequality, homelessness, voter suppression and climate change. It is time to solve our problems at home and cease spending trillions policing the world.

Julie Hull

Rohnert Park

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As I watch video of the Taliban takeover of the Afghan presidential palace in Kabul and look at photos of them occupying various offices, I am struck by the similarity to the photos and video of the traitors who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Both groups were angry bearded men who want to take civilization back to the Stone Age. Does anybody else see the similarities?

Rirchard Abazia

Santa Rosa

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To the Editor:

Open letter to Supervisor Glenn McGourty,

At the Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, August 17th, Supervisor Glenn McGourty spoke profusely in support of retaining the incompetent and sadistic USDA Wildlife Services to implement Mendocino County’s wildlife management program. In his disjointed blatherings, McGourty seemed to be completely oblivious to the obvious contradictions contained within his own statements.

McGourty claimed that most of the ranchers he knows use non-lethal methods to protect their livestock and only rarely call on Wildlife Services to kill coyotes. But in his next breath, he says that if the County terminates its contract with Wildlife Services, ranchers will take matters into their own hands and mayhem will ensue out in countryside. Which is it Supervisor, are the ranchers friendly neighbors or a pack of marauding killers? You can’t have it both ways.

McGourty said over and over again how much he loves wildlife. But in his next breath, he demonizes coyotes as vicious evil lamb killers.

Which is it Supervisor, do you love wildlife or do you hate them for exhibiting their natural behaviors? You can’t have it both ways.

Let’s face it Supervisor McGourty, its the ranchers who are the problem, not the coyotes. When ranchers graze defenseless sheep way out in remote areas of the County, what do you expect to happen?

Ultimately, the full Board made the right decision to terminate the County’s contract with Wildlife Services on a 3 to 2 vote with Supervisors McGourty and Dan Gjerde in dissent. Also at the Board meeting, Supervisor John Haschak informed the Board that he is working on developing an “exclusion service” that will provide all County residents with non-lethal alternatives to protect their property from wildlife damage.

Supervisor McGourty, if ranchers really care about wildlife as much as you say they do, then they should jump at the chance to implement effective non-lethal exclusionary methods to protect their livestock. That singular act would untangle your ball of contradictions.

Jon Spitz


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Yes, 46 candidates are running to replace Gavin Newsom; 135 ran to replace Gray Davis. Many of the 46 are well known, experienced and well qualified to take over.

While crime spikes, Newsom ordered the early release of 20,000 inmates. He cut $150 million from the state’s fire protection budget and lied about it. We have the highest taxes, gas and home prices in the country.

Poor water management record: we need new reservoirs and dams to capture the next great rainfall. He’s a hypocrite in disallowing our attendance at social gatherings during COVID but spent thousands and went maskless at a private French Laundry affair.

Our children haven’t been able to attend school, but his four have gone to private schools and camps. He allows teachers’ unions to dictate, not using science, about when schools can reopen, who gets vaccinated and wears masks.

Is he proud our schools, ranked No. 41 nationally. We rank high only in pupil-to-teacher ratio. Remember when our state was No. 1?

His Employment Development Department doled out more than $30 billion in fraudulent checks to prison inmates. No refunds. This is just a start. Please vote yes to recall Newsom. We deserve better.

Sandy Metzger

Santa Rosa

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I know many people are upset with the drought, the fire season, COVID, and our nation’s politics. It’s easy to find fault with anyone who is in office when we have so many worries.

This recall is not a referendum on Newsom’s effectiveness.

If more than 50 percent of the people who bother to vote support the recall, our Governor becomes whoever got the most votes in the second question. That could be someone who is only supported by 10 percent of Californians. That is not representation.

This is not the time to create more disruption in our state. Let’s wait until the 2022 Gubernatorial election to decide if we still want Newsom or who the majority of California voters want as their leader.

Your vote does matter. When you get your ballot, please vote and send it in!

Dale Perkins

Fort Bragg

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If someone told me pre-2018, that I would have a stroke, my wife would divorce me, and that I would become a towny in Fort Bragg, one of the many colorful characters that inhabit this abode, I would have called the seer absolutely F-ing ridiculous! Well, I have arrived. I was very privileged to know the late great John Trudell, as I was a promotor for him on his northern Ca. tours. As I faced the agony of my circumstances this line from his poem “it is what it is”—

“Whatever happens is here to make us stronger, when we understand that, our strengths grow stronger, and when we don’t our weaknesses grow stronger; it’s an inevitability.”

That line helped me immensely, immensely to face the unbelievable agony of my circumstance.

I’m not done healing yet. I am rebuilding my life into something totally new, and unforeseen, and I’m enjoying it, I know that my fortitude and courage has been a gift to many, many people and that feeds me a lot to go further and deeper into the mystery of things I like, the circle we make together, so, thank you for that. I’m not done healing yet. I still sometimes experience resentment and self-pity. but I am getting better with it. I intend to purify myself from all of it… I can hardly wait too see what this realm looks like when I get further along that process!

Anyway, I don’t need to tell anyone these are some seriously challenging times, clearly late stage capitalism is going to pose some SERIOUS challenges and extract some serious consequences. I don’t know what’s next, no one does, all we have is our guesses. All I can say is, I think it’s a good time to purify. I often think I’m pretty lucky. The stroke forced me to face some things that I would have thought absolutely unbearable. But as JT says, depending on how we understand it, our strengths go stronger… Onward!! to the apocalypse, and the new beginning!

Chris Skyhawk

Fort Bragg

PS. Retraction on Newsom recall

Last issue you published my letter in favor of the Newsom recall. After numerous discussions and more reflection upon it, I regret my previous stance. It had seemed to me there was no chance the recall would succeed and thus I wished to make a symbolic gesture against Newsom for his selling out small cannabis growers. After the passage of Prop. 64 in contradiction to his promises as he advocated for its passage, he allowed mega grows which our small artisinal growers can’t compete with. While I continue to hold Newsom in contempt for his so negatively impacting our emerald triangle community, and even though what I think in this tiny corner of California is not at all likely to change the outcome, I fully realize that the attempt to replace a fetid Newsom with a repugnant Republican, must be opposed. Thank you for the ink to clarify my evolving position.

Chris Skyhawk

Fort Bragg

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Rejecting advice from the Department of Defense, the intelligence community and allied leaders, President Joe Biden turned a hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan into an embarrassing retreat and, now, an unconditional surrender. The botched withdrawal will go down as one of the most embarrassing, disastrous and predictable foreign policy blinders of my lifetime.

President Joe Biden publicly denied that his administration made any mistakes by pulling out the military first, thus eliminating any chance for orderly departure of civilians, allied and partner nation personnel. As a result, Americans, our allies and Afghans who supported us are left scrambling to escape.

Our NATO allies, who have been with us since the beginning of this war, are outraged that they were not included in the planning and coordination of Biden’s plan to withdraw U.S. forces, leaving everyone else in the lurch. Under no circumstances would they agree to a withdrawal that didn’t include a conditions-based exit and an orderly departure of civilians, forces and equipment.

Nevertheless, Biden’s retreat order was his decision. This poorly executed debacle has caused unnecessary death and destruction and irreparable harm to U.S. foreign policy for decades to come. Who will trust us and stand by us in the future? Not many.

Kirk Moeller

Santa Rosa

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I’m not sure what is in Congressman Mike Thompson’s Social Security 2100 Act, but if it does not make Social Security benefits tax free, then that needs to be added to this bill.

Social Security benefits are determined by how much a person and their employer pays into their account while working, with each side paying 6.2% on regular income. You can receive Social Security at 62 but get more money at full retirement of 66 or 67. Social Security benefits were tax-free until 1984.

As a result of earned income from working, interest income, pensions and dividends while receiving Social Security benefits, potentially up to 85% of Social Security benefits may be taxable. That depends on whether someone files as an individual or a couple and the amount of income earned. This is wrong, as people worked their whole lives and paid into the Social Security fund.

California does not tax Social Security benefits. So, the federal government should be like California in not taxing Social Security benefits.

Andrew Smith

Santa Rosa


  1. Mark Laszlo September 2, 2021

    Chris Skyhawk, i was going to vote for Newsom’s
    recall too, as a protest vote for Newsom’s sending
    the National Guard to Humbolt in helicopter gunships, where they were used to bust small artisinal growers who paid big fees to the county, not returned, and did
    all they could to conform to law, according to Greenfuse.

    So the National Guard was sent to enforce Prop 64?
    Are Humbolt Supes, Sherriff Huserl, Newsom and Co
    in cahoots to drive out the hippies and sell them out
    for rich people to take over the lifesaving industry they suffered so much to pioneer?

    Then i saw polls showing if Newsom is recalled, Elder the Trumper would most likely become governor. I expect Dan Kapelovitz the Green would be marginalized any-
    way, but gain recognition for future runs. And DK’s not running to win, but asking people to vote for no recall,
    then for DK, because the outcome this time would most likely be Governor Elder. I think Elder’s run is backed by
    out of state money as part of a national strategy of
    fascist republicans to turn CA red if they can. But voting no on the recall and yes on someone other than
    Newsom, especially a non-democrat, is a protest that
    does not invite a fascist coup, when the democrat
    POTUS Biden is now the fascist republican’s best advertisement, so bad in his way, this anti-fascist now wonders if Trump, or a new American Hitler, is actually worse, and that increases Elder’s chances.

    When will we be free to use that mighty healing herb
    of Washington and Jefferson w/o losing the liberty
    they wanted the People to have? I don’t know, but
    like wisdom, it costs blood.

  2. Pat Kittle September 2, 2021

    Kirk Moeller:

    Regarding “Biden’s chaos”…

    Do you really think he’s making those decisions?

    Leaving Afghanistan wasn’t a last-minute decision — Biden’s handlers had plenty of time to prepare. So the “chaotic” exit was obviously prepared — but why, & by whom?

    Forbidden questions, forbidden answers.

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