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Letters To The Editor



Have you noticed that ever since the CHP got to use radar, we've looked like a Southern speed-trap state?

CHP officers are hiding behind overpasses and bushes trying to make money by ticketing someone driving 75 mph on a freeway. You don't need radar to catch an unsafe driver doing 95 mph. Or driving drunk. Or holding a cell phone.

Do you think the CHP and insurance companies are in cahoots? The speed limit in many states is 75 mph on freeways. In California, it's 65, or even worse, 55 on perfectly straight, safe freeways.

Every CHP officer should be required to drive in Europe, especially Germany, for one month before being allowed to ever give a ticket.

Carlo Gardin




Letter to the Editor

County Mental Health Money—

With over $20 million Mental Health dollars coming annually into Mendocino County from the state, why were adult patient care services decimated? They were nearly reduced to — when you become dangerous enough, we’ll spend $1200/day to hospitalize you for 3 or so days? What did the BOS do with all that money? Why don’t they help adults before they become dangerous?

The BOS has put no General Fund money into Mental Health except for one year in the mid-nineties when Mike Scannell, CAO, put $36,000 into Mental Health. The problem is more that BOS may have been putting Mental Health dollars into the County General Fund instead of into patient care.

The hope now lies in the BOS finally hiring a Mental Health Director with vision and heart who knows what adult patient care is needed, and is beginning to create it. I am grateful for this glimmer of hope, after eleven years of darkness.

Sonya Nesch, author of

Advocating for Someone With a Mental Illness




Warmest spiritual greetings,

In response to emails that I have been receiving from east coasters in regard to the possibility that I  will show up at political conventions to "intervene in history"  just one mo' time, I have posted a public reply. Please take a  look at what the Boston IMC tech team allowed me to put on their  newswire. I'm generally available...feel free to contact me...the more  incredible and exciting you are with me, the more incredible and  exciting I will be with you. Unconditional love from Oakland,

Craig Louis Stehr




To the Editor:

This is in response to the Letter to the Editor on July 11, on the status of the suit against Caltrans' plan to widen Highway 101 through Richardson Grove.

To my knowledge, no one involved with this suit has ever said that Caltrans “wants” to destroy old-growth redwoods, as Judge Reinholtsen avers we have done. What Caltrans “wants” is not the point. The point is, that what they propose to do, widen and deepen the roadbed in Richardson Grove, will severely damage the roots of the old growth redwoods along the highway. (Trees have a hard time standing upright without their roots). Sooner rather than later, these trees, that make this road trip through the Grove so wondrous now, will sadden us as they sicken. It will remind us of the mistakes Caltrans has made in the belief that our current mode of big truck freight and food moving will go on and on, bigger and faster, forever; believes that the industrial model of agriculture is not failing, that there is no such thing as fossil fueled climate change, no peak oil, no mass extinction and no “Walmartization” killing local economies — in short, Caltrans is planning for a future that can't happen.

You mention that the widening is being done to accommodate the bigger trucks. Plenty of the biggest trucks go through there now; there are size exemptions for cattle trucks, for instance. They rattle through there in both directions, north for the summer forage, and south to the slaughter. Makes you wonder how much cost in air pollution and petroleum use is embedded in your steak. Makes you feel some urgency in developing local food production.

There has never been a big truck accident in the Grove. One truck driver told me that he's gone through the Grove in the biggest trucks made, safely, going 25 mph instead of the 35 mph speed limit. The part of the highway crossing the Grove is only a mile long. Drivers tell us they lose five minutes tops navigating the Grove. Caltrans should lower the speed limit in the Grove to 25 mph; it will give us all a closer relationship to these iconic trees as we slowly pass under them. I don't suggest a lower speed limit as a “solution” because there is no “problem” in the Grove; a lower speed limit would simply be an enhancement to what the judge calls “a profound aesthetic experience.” The problem is a serious mis-appropriation of transportation funds. We need to spend millions in basic infrastructure repairs rather than funding the environmentally destructive projects that Caltrans has up for approval in Richardson Grove, in Willits and elsewhere in California.

The April 2012 decision by Judge Allsup to require Caltrans to essentially redo their whole Environmental Impact Report still stands. (Their first try was very flimsy). The injunction against putting the work out to bid still stands. The suit against the federal Environmental Impact Statement is still pending. Caltrans' redo of the EIR will take a lot of time and is still likely to be challenged. We have not yet exhausted all legal remedies to this wasteful and seriously destructive plan. Reading that Letter to the Editor, one might infer that Caltrans just has some minor changes to make to a minor-damage project before approval. This is not the case. This is not a done deal and we are not going away.

We have one demand: Cancel the Plan.

Ellen Faulkner

Redwood Valley



Dear Friends and Supporters,

After an intensive and successful year-long effort to keep Hendy Woods State Park open, the Board of the Hendy Woods Community was stunned, along with others who have struggled to avoid closure of parks around the state, to discover the Department of Parks and Recreation was hiding funds that could have kept every targeted park open.

We have not yet had the opportunity to sit down with our partners at Save the Redwoods League to discuss whether this sickening development will significantly shift how we approach keeping Hendy Woods open. One thing is for sure: We are fully committed to the park.

The discovery of the budget fraud in Sacramento does nothing to change the fact that there is a big backlog of deferred maintenance at Hendy Woods, including the need for major improvements to the water delivery system. The staff has already conducted an initial assessment to map out how best to address this most critical need. Additionally, the Community and the League are engaged in a process to consider what might help financial sustainability in the long term. Every dollar that has been raised for the park will be put to good use.

Although it is now clear that the impression of a fiscal emergency was a lie, we do not in any way regret that a connection between the park, its staff, our visitors, and our community has been revitalized. Hendy Woods is a wonderful place that is enjoyed by everyone who has a chance to spend some time there. It is a place where quiet weddings happen, babies explore the wonders of a dirt trail, kids ride bikes in safety, and families get together and forget the rest of the world for a while.

This staggering scandal is an opportunity. We deserve a complete housecleaning at the Department of Parks and Recreation. The new Director must come from outside, have an outstanding background in natural resource protection, strong management skills, and a forward-looking mentality. The Department has been drifting for a long time. It needed a shake-up and, with diligence on the part of those who care about parks, perhaps this will turn out to be a good thing in the long run.

Best regards,

Kathy Bailey





Frank Bardacke's Trampling Out the Vintage (Chavez, UFW bio) is a great book, with exemplary writing and a complex mix of characters and power plays. Good recommendation, Bruce. Everyone should just shell out the bucks, and take some time reading this long (740 pages) cultural milestone.

Michael Townsend

Port Townsend, Washington




California State Parks will hold a public informational meeting regarding the MacKerricher Dune Rehabilitation Project at the Fort Bragg Grange in Inglenook on Monday, August 6, 2012 at 6:30 to 8:30pm. A revised Initial Study/Draft Mitigated Negative Declaration is expected to be circulated for public review by August 1st.

The project focuses on the restoration of rare coastal dune habitat in the Inglenook Fen-Ten Mile Dunes Natural Preserve that lies between Ward Avenue and the Ten Mile River. For questions or comments regarding the ecology of the Inglenook Fen-Ten Mile Dunes Natural Preserve and the MacKerricher Dune Rehabilitation Project, please contact Senior Environmental Scientist Renée Pasquinelli at (707)937-5721.

Renee Pasquinelli, Sr. Environmental Scientist

California State Parks-Mendocino




Sorry to hear about the death of Alexander Cockburn. Thank you so much for introducing me to his writing over the years. I'm very sorry for your loss.


Jim Schmidt

Weaverville, North Carolina



Dear Editor,

In pursuit of more information re: Why no Generic shingles vaccine, I called my AARP Nurse Healthline to request some. Nurse referred me to the “Pharmacy” line.

The Pharmacist informed me that Merck Co. has a renewable patent on Vostavax, an immunization vs. shingles (see AVA Letters, 7/3/12). Merck has control of: cost, rate of production (read availability), and population available for study (read guinea pigs). The insurance company (United Healthcare Optum RX) and pharmaceutical company are corporate-owned, for-profit institutions, not an aspect of Public Health. “Profit excuses all actions.” They are approved and regulated by FDA.

How does it work?

“Automatic extensions for many years are granted, rubber-stamped by the FDA. Remember, this is the same FDA which approved DDT, Thalidomide, etc. in the 1950s. I wish you could alert fellow patients re: this situation.”

Now you are informed.


Patricia A. Beverley, Boonville

AARP Member#310 207 040 0 Sources: AARP Nurse Healthline (1-888-543-5630). AARP Medicare Supplement Plans by United Healthcare Insurance. (1-866-314 8674)




I find myself at a house I've never been to on a porch I've never seen in a town I call home. There is a baby swing on the left and a tricycle to the right, next to a chest full of toys. I'm standing here with so much self-doubt and feeling, so self-conscious, it's hard to explain. So many thoughts are running through my head. Is this the right address? Judging from the baby furniture, this is the spot.

Behind this very door resides my Kryptonite and a 16-month-old baby girl I've never met. Does she have my eyes? Am I really ready to do this all over again? This whole scenario feels like deja vu — I know I've been here before. It almost feels like a lifetime ago, but this road feels all too familiar to me. I've got that queasy feeling in my stomach, those butterflies, that sick feeling you get before something life-altering happens to you.

I am on the doorstep and I dread the door opening. I don't have the strength or courage to knock. My journey, this whole vacation from reality, has taken too much out of me. As I clutch this paper sack of bullshit I've accumulated since I've been down, I realize it all comes down to this moment. Right here, right now, I have to make the decision of my life up to this point.

I have to either give the girls on the other side of this door my all and only commit to bettering our lives together, or walk away from them altogether and pray things work out for the best.

I can't stand being a husband/father who comes and goes in their lives, in and out of prisons and jails, out at all hours of the night, hustling the streets. I refuse to do that to them. I love this woman too much not to give her 110%. She deserves the world and I only wish it was mine to give her. I know when she looks in my eyes she will see my heart. It's always been that way between us. If something was amiss we could see it in each other's eyes. I'm scared to look in her eyes right now. I'm frightened of what I might see, not of what she may see in mine. I've made my decision day I've been away. When she looks in my eyes she will see that I only have eyes for her. If anything, my love for her has only grown stronger. Will I see the same? Is it possible for her to still be in love with me after all this time apart? So many nights and so many miles between us.

To say she's a desirable woman would be an understatement and I hardly question the faithfulness of her body. My doubts reside in the faithfulness of her heart. I'm not young and disillusioned enough to think they are the same thing. My only concern is if her heart is still mine? When I enter the room will her heart still skipp a beat?

As these thoughts continue to race through my head, I set every possession I have on this earth down on the porch. Mentally I've prepared a clean slate, a blank canvas, if you will. I'm ready to start from scratch, the second she opens the door. The bag contains mostly paperwork, drawings and journals I accumulated during this prison term. Truly this whole story has already been written and is sitting in this bag at my feet. But still I do not know the ending. Life is hardly a fairytale and it is hard for me to perceive a happy ending in a story involving my life. How often does reality let you say, “They lived happily ever after”? After all the ending is really only the beginning to my new life.

Now fresh off the shelf, if you will, and surrounded by a brand-new world just inches from the door, I take a deep breath and summon the courage to knock. I finally put my knuckles to the door and three sharp raps break the silence surrounding me. I hear footsteps approaching the door as I close my eyes. The locks on the door click and I hear the door open. A slight squeak and then the warm air from the house envelops me. Eyes still closed, it's all I can do to stand there anticipating the moment.

When I finally open my eyes, here, only inches away, are brown eyes wide and full of curiosity. She closes them, rises on tip-toe and presses her lips to mine sending a thrill of heat through me. From the first second it was a knowing kiss, not a shy timid tasting of strangers, but a confident encounter of lovers who are familiar with each other. Her lips are cool and her tongue is warm against mine. My senses are all in overdrive and they read her every curve and valley beneath the clothing that separates us. My arousal is immediate, immediate and obvious. I slipp my hand around to the small of her back and kiss her like I've been wanting to for so long. The passion of her response explodes all the boundaries I perceive to be between us after all this time apart. I feel something deep in my soul shift, a heavy weight has been lifted from within.

“Has the whole world stopped?” I ask her.

“I don't know,” my lover replies with a giggle. “I've got somebody I want you to meet.”

It certainly feels like the whole world has stopped and not just because she's holding me. I am free, here in my lover's arms, I am finally free. With our bodies entwined I realize I am whole again. I am complete and after two long years my heart begins to beat.

It began, dedicated to Shannon and Stasha — may it all come true.

Ronald Rhea

Jamestown, California




Let's get back to the meaning of the second amendment by comparing two excerpts from the U.S. Constitution.

Article 1, Section 10, Paragraph 3: No state shall, without the consent of Congress, lay any duty of tonnage, keep troops or ships of war in time of peace.

Amendment II: A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

In old military catalogs the word “regulation” is used when referring to military equipment, everything from uniforms to weapons. Presently our military is physically incapable of ruling the country by force because the means of production and distribution is privately controlled and the right to bear arms is the balance of power. Any infringement on this right is an act of subversion.

While we are at it, we should take a good look at civil rights laws, labor laws and environmental laws that are steps toward government control of our defense industries.

Jim Caldwell

Doyle, California



Animal Lovers from the Valley and beyond,

Much appreciation goes out to everyone who supported PawFest 2012 held at the AV Brewery a couple of weeks ago to benefit Anderson Valley Animal Rescue (AVAR). Thanks to your generous donations a profit of approximately $4,000 was raised that will greatly help with our continuing spay and neuter program along with other expenses incurred as we continue to provide much needed forms of care to the cats and dogs of our County.

Many people worked on this event to make it possible but it would not have happened at all without the hard work and dedication of my fellow committee members, Cheryl Schrader, Ember Koski, Judy Long, and Kim Mitchell. Apart from the gang of volunteers, lots of AVAR folks should be mentioned, along with the Valley volunteers who all significantly helped on the day in a variety of functions — these include (and apologies to anyone who I forget): Laura Mares, Janet Remsing, Cressa Ferguson, Julie and Tim Knutsen, Jim Teresinski, Ben Anderson, Eddie Slotte, Bev Bennett, Sandy Creque, Patty Liddy, Dan Voison, Andrea LaCampagna, Wayne Hiatt, Judy's AV Lions BBQ Crew — Garth Long, Olie Erikson, Bill and Robin Harper, those who helped with the dog events and dog participation activities, The Peanut Butter Jam Band (who very generously donated their fee back to AVAR), and finally the AV Brewery who provided their great location and donated the beer.

In 2012/13 we will be continuing the spay/neuter campaign as well as increasing our foster care and adoption outreach programs to accommodate the kittens/cats and dogs that would otherwise lose their life at the county shelter if not for Animal Rescue. We have operated for the past eleven years on donations from our community, so on behalf of our four-legged friends, “Thank You” to one and all for your support, together we can continue to save lives.

Steve Sparks, AV Animal Rescue

PawFest 2012, Philo




What's in a name?

“Mitt” Romney. As we say in Hawaii, what kine dis? Is it short for “mitten”? Or perhaps an abbreviation for “mittimus,” which is a legal term, meaning, by one definition, “a warrant of commitment to prison”? Was he named after a baseball glove? If “Mitt” is his real name, what is his nickname? Inquiring minds want to know.


Bill Brundage

Kurtistown, Hawaii




Alex Cockburn, one of the good guys.

Harold Ericsson

Harbor City




Senator Harry Reid, the leading senator, made a public speech criticizing the Olympics people for having their uniforms made in China. He was terribly upset that they were not made here in the United States. I do not know for sure why they were made in China and other countries, but I am almost positive it was why we have so many other products made outside our country. We have become uncompetitive.

Senator, they are making the same quality product cheaper. Business has all kind of expenses such as insurance, labor, electricity, transportation costs, rent or mortgages, supplies and repairs. This first bunch here and outside of country have somewhat similar costs and then there is that other kind: taxes and regulation by our governments.

Make no mistake, taxes and regulation are just as much a cost of business and we are quite often four and five times higher in this category. Senator, if you want to know who caused this, your mirror will tell you one of them.

If you are really shocked, what you could do to again make us the world’s leading manufacturer and close the unemployment gap is limit campaign contributions to $50 to anyone. $50 can’t influence anything. Let states run most of their operations with money they raise instead of all the federal grants. This lets the states complete against each other for better schools and commerce. Cut all perks on all bills put up by Congress. One leads to thousands. Quit getting involved in other countries’ politics. We are a poor example of democracy. Make all shareholder elections binding in public corporations instead of only advisory as they are now. This will correct corporation abuses to a big degree. Don’t get involved in trying to regulate the economy. Let the free market regulate the economy.

If you do these things you will not be doing anything new, just following the Constitution (again).

Emil Rossi




Dear Editor and the AVA,

It has been quite a while since I've written you and unfortunately my reason for writing today is not a happy one. I am writing to offer my condolences to you over the passing of Alex Cockburn, a member of the AVA family. While I did not know Alex as well as you, he was a big influence on my politics and writing. His clarity was uncompromising and that he did not compromise was very clear. I personally met him as a contributor to the AVA and when I started my own paper, the Sacramento Comment, Alex was one of my biggest supporters, from offering me advise to doing benefits for the Comment. He was one of the good ones. He will be missed.

Best to you and yours,

Scott Soriano

Sacramento/San Francisco



Dear Editor:

For those of your readers who get a good laugh or perhaps a good cry about the antics of the GOP looney tunes it appears the people in the Texas GOP have been eating lots of locoweed . Both “The Colbert Report” and columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr. reported one of the planks from the 2012 platform of the Texas GOP Covention read as follows “We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student's fixed beliefs and undermining parential parental authority.”

Apparently in Texas the GOP does not want children to be critical thinkers. Just put on blinkers and follow the teachings of the Christian Fundamentalists and if your parents are racists and/or bigots that's OK. By all means never question some of the nonsense they will hear from their pastors and teachers who are in lockstep with this policy. It represents the stupidification of Texas public school children.

Incidentially, the main purpose of a university/college education is not to learn a trade but rather to become a critical thinker. After 12 years of K-12 education there probably is very little the higher education people can do to deprogram these children.

In peace,

James G. Updegraff





Our ever faithful County Superintendent Tichinin was at the Manchester School Board Meeting last May to "only assure protocol was being followed and nothing else." At that time, I asked him if he had any questions or concerns to which he stated "no," but under his breath he said, “Although I do not appreciate what you have had to say about me in the paper.”

Attached is a statement I read Monday night at the Manchester School Board Meeting. A board member wanted to make comment on this statement because she believed at the May meeting (when I was interviewed for a board position) I was not given the opportunity to be properly interviewed according to protocol. However, when she started to talk, County Superintendent Tichinin vehemently informed her that this was “not a discussion item” and she could not do this. He turned to me and stated, “And this is in the Brown At Law, is it not?”

I found that hilarious and told him, “You are here to make sure protocol is being followed tonight but why wasn't protocol followed in May when you were here?” His face got all red and he started to comment but just waved his hands around again.

As I stood up I turned to to my husband and said loud enough for Tichinin to hear: I am going home to email the AVA!

I don't get how he can continue to be County Superintendent of Mendocino. Any idea?

Susan Rush


PS. Statement to the Manchester School Board, July 13, 2012.

Today, I am here because I was not given the opportunity, at the last board meeting, to address concerns made against me by Trustee Susan Levenson-Palmer. I discovered, according to protocol and also, County Superintendent Tichinin, a board applicant is interviewed during open session and a decision rendered at that time but this did not happen during my interview process. I would have returned to the meeting later that night if I had been informed.

I would like to tell the board how my commitment began in Point Arena because I have concerns screwed information was provided to a board member. Although, I want to state this commitment should have had nothing to do with my capability to serve as a board member in Manchester.

A visionary from the Orange County School District accepted a position, as principal, at the Point Arena Elementary School and moved with his wife and young son to the district. Both he and his wife had very promising careers and were quite successful in Orange County but gave up these promising careers in order for their son to grow up in our small coastal community.

Prior to coming to Point Arena he met with Superintendent Mark Iacuaniello who informed him the district was looking for a “change agent” because the elementary school was not only having severe disciplinary problems but students had failed to meet both State and Federal Guidelines which had put the school in State Program Improvement for over three years.

This visionary knew if he were coming as a “change agent” the first to complain would be the teachers. However, at least three times Superintendent Iacuaniello assured both he and his wife he “would have his back” and “not to worry, he would take care of it.”

This visionary, Principal Matthew Murray, came with great references from the district he left behind. He spoke fluent Spanish and graduated in the top of his class from Harvard. Mr. Murray was quite familiar with what it took to be a “change agent” because he played a vital part on a team which changed a failing school in Southern California around so drastically in such a short period of time that not only did this team and the students receive a national award, President Clinton flew out and, personally, presented them with the award. A movie was made about the accomplishments of that district. The superintendent of the Orange County School District stated, “Without Matthew Murray being such a vital integral part of this team, this award would have never happened.”

The main priority and goal his first year at Point Arena Elementary was focused on all students being able to read at grade level which did take place and this was demonstrated in the increased level of test scores. In his very first year, the school was required, by the State, to advance by a minimum of 6 points but it gained 56 points. However, his goals for students came at a price for him and his family. The teachers did not like Mr. Murray randomly stepping into their classroom to sit and listen. They resented his critiquing their teaching skills and the programs he tried to implement in order to assist students in achieving their goals to succeed.

Mr. Murray began the first spelling bee ever in the school district with one student going on to the State level to compete. Funds were down so there was no music or art program at the school. Mr. Murray found someone to assist him in writing a grant and began an after school art program. Where there was a need he worked on a way to fill it.

However, there was a group of teachers who banded together and went to the superintendent. They were disgruntled at having to achieve goals set forth by Mr. Murray. They didn’t believe he was a “good fit” even though he was accomplishing exactly what Superintendent Iacuaniello expected of him and what the board hired him to do.

Parents and community members discovered there was an initiative by Superintendent Iacuaniello and the board to terminate Mr. Murray and they rose up to stop it. Bill Lawson, the president of the board at the time, informed the community that nothing would be done without taking the “public’s opinion into mind.” However, even with over 475 signatures from parents and community members to keep Mr. Murray as principal, the public was informed at a board meeting in November of 2007, Mr. Murray would be leaving that night and not returning. It was an orchestrated move by the board and Superintendent Iacuaniello without any knowledge this would happen either by Mr. Murray, the community members, the parents or the students.

Mr. Murray had to move to Idaho because he was unable to procure a job in his own State that he grew up in and loved. He had only been at that job for nine months and received another national award for his work in the ELD Curriculum. This is what our students lost in Point Arena. With the loss of this visionary where has the elementary school been for the last three years, back in State Program Improvement. Also, I believe due to the largest feeder elementary school in the district, the high school is now beginning to suffer and for the last two years they also have been unable to meet State and Federal guidelines.

After Mr. Murray’s departure members of the community began a coalition of concerned citizens’ for better schools in Point Arena to fight against egregious acts like this and to help the parents in seeing their children are getting a great education. Because I have no child in “harm’s way” I vowed to myself, parents and community members, I would continue to fight against the injustices of the good ole boys’, business as usual club within our district and be an advocate for every student.

I will continue to be an advocate until we have a board, who takes an oath that adheres to and upholds the Brown Act Law; until we have a board who will no longer rubber stamp everything that comes down the pike even if it is not in the best interest of the student or community but just wants to maintain business as usual even when our students are failing; until we have a board who believes all our students could and should receive a great education as they had in the past and, finally, until we have a board who is open, transparent and accountable to the public they vowed to serve.

I have gone to board meetings and have heard the blame game of our failing elementary school be placed on the student’s heritage. Yet, we did have a visionary who was capable of successfully changing the school around with students of the same dynamics to meet State and Federal Guidelines. There was actually one year it was not the Hispanic students who failed to meet the guidelines and the principal, Paula Patterson, actually stated at a board meeting, “Well, I guess we can’t blame it on the Hispanics this year”. They had no one to blame but did change happen? No, it did not. So you see, I will continue to be an advocate until we see our students once more achieving and meeting their goals. I do not believe the teachers should shoulder this responsibility but the leaders within the district. Also, the board because they are the ones who hire the superintendent, they have a final say as to what teachers will be hired and also what curriculum will be taught in the schools. The board has an awesome responsibility when it comes to assuring our students are succeeding.

Finally, Trustee Levenson Palmer does not believe it was appropriate for me to put letters into the paper. However, as a citizen, Brown Act Law 54954.3 (c) allows me to do this. Currently, I do not sit on the school board in Point Arena but have attended the majority of board meetings for over five years. So, I believe I have every right to address the public when the public’s rights are being violated. There is also the most important right of all, “freedom of speech”.

Trustee Levenson Palmer also stated, “It is not protocol for me to ask how many applicants the district received for the superintendent’s position”. I did not ask names just, if the district received a lot of applicants. There is nothing in Brown Act Law which prevents me, as a citizen and taxpayer, from not asking a board member this question. However, if Trustee Levenson Palmer can show me in the Brown Act Law exactly where it states I cannot do this, I will apologize.

Thank you, Suzanne “Susan” L. Rush




A friend called me from San Francisco Friday morning to give me the news of Alexander’s passing and I am still finding it difficult to absorb. I expect it is the same for others who knew him. I have had too many friends die from cancer in the past few years but none had such a vital public presence and none left such a vast space to fill.

I don’t remember when we first met, it was sometime in the 80s, but I became a Cockburn devotee when he was co-authoring a weekly column with James Ridgway in the Village Voice. I continued reading his columns in the Nation until I discovered the AVA while living in San Francisco and that each issue contained a longer version that didn’t require plowing through the rest of the Nation’s largely toothless pabulum.

Of all his brilliant, perceptive, comments over the years, my favorite was the opening to his column in the Village Voice of July 20, 1982, in response to the news that erstwhile 60s activist and then an ambitious Santa Monica assemblyman, Tom Hayden, with wife, Jane Fonda, had not only sat with Israeli soldiers as they shelled Beirut a month after Israel’s murderous invasion of Lebanon on June 6 of that year but that they had refused to meet with Israeli anti-war activists when they returned from the front.

“In the halls of the National Gallery in Washington, there are 46 portraits of Benedict Arnold,” Alexander wrote. “None of them look alike, yet they all resemble Tom Hayden.” Just on the chance that Tom might miss it, I made it the center of a small display ad I placed in the Santa Monica Outlook. At the same time, in appropriate moments, Alexander used to express pride in the knowledge that one of his ancestors, Sir George Cockburn, an English admiral, had burned down the White House during the War of 1812.

In 1990, I convinced Alexander to come down from Petrolia to speak at a Mothers’ Day evening event co-sponsored by the Labor Committee on the Middle East and the Bay Area Labor Committee on Central America, the subject of which was to be “Central America and the Middle East: Are They Victims of the Liberals’ Agenda?” Although somewhat reluctant, a poorly advertised previous San Francisco event having drawn only 15 people, Alexander couldn’t turn down the opportunity to give liberals another deserved bashing.

That night, thanks to good publicity, the San Francisco Women’s Building was filled to capacity, 300 plus with standing room only. The only one that seemed to be missing was Alexander. Forty-five minutes after the scheduled starting time, he arrived, having found a parking space for his old Chrysler and wearing his familiar leather jacket. He was admittedly astonished to see the size of the crowd. After I gave him a brief introduction, he delivered what the audience had come to hear, to roaring applause.

Over the years I contributed a number of articles to CounterPunch, that unparalleled website that he has co-managed for 20 Years with Jeffrey St. Clair. I saw him in San Francisco at anti-war protests, I went to the coast to see him in Ft. Bragg when he was speaking there, and interviewed him several times on Takes on the World, a twice-monthly program that I host on KZYX. A little more than a month ago I left a message on Alexander’s answering machine that I wanted him back again to get his take on the never-ending election season and the latest Obama sleight of hand. That he didn’t call me back was unusual but I guessed that he was probably traveling. Only now, I realize, how far.

Rest easy, old friend. You’ll be missed.

Jeff Blankfort





Harold Hulbert, the Noyo Harbor and albacore, will always be inextricably linked for me. That due west heading from the jaws of the Noyo, in the pre-dawn mist, won't feel quite the same this coming albacore season.

Two years ago I was fishing west of The Noyo, 22 miles off shore. I was searching for that band of 65-68 degree water that large schools of albacore covet. I had tried Harold's cell. Nada. Several eager attempts on the VHF radio were also fruitless. I knew Harold was out there, somewhere, and was frustrated that he wasn't answering my calls. In my gut I knew too that Harold was “in 'em,” meaning that he had found the fish. Harold was always generous with coordinates that promised fish and beamed with wry pleasure when he had those secret “numbers” (aka coordinates) to dangle in front of my snout.

I shut down my boat and began scrolling through my chart plotter for the previous season’s albacore coordinates. It was just a matter of time before I found the right water temperature. Time, however, was quickly running short. The long run back to Noyo Harbor through the punishing north swell would place me on land at dusk. No margin for error. The unmistakable moan of an approaching boat caught my attention. I stood and looked in the direction of the approaching vessel. When who should come steaming through the misty haze!?

All smiles. On an east heading! Harold was runnin’ for the barn! A hold full of albacore and happier than a pig in shit! “Damn you, Harold,” I mumbled. I scrambled to the aft deck and threw up my arms as if to say, “What the hell, Harold!?” I went from being pissed-off to laughter when Harold extended his left arm and pointed to the east-without slowing down! “That way, Clow! I left a few small ones for ya! Keep your tip up!!”

Harold, in a fit of laughter, vanished into the mist just as quickly as he had appeared.

Anderson Valley loses a gem of a guy in Harold and it was a better place because of him.

The thought of Harold fishing with his grandkids a few weeks ago makes me smile. That tight throat sort of smile. Save some fish for me Harold! RIP


Todd R Clow

Fort Bragg




In an article in The Progressive in a comment article Ruth Conniff said , after explaining how the Republicans are all about transferring wealth from the lower and middle classes to the upper class, she ended with this; “How much worse do things have to get before people wake up?”.

She missed it. The masses are not asleep, they are drugged. They are addicted to comfort, to big box stores, to mindless television escapism, and to their own fear of any deep thought about social issues. People who are addicted do not wake up. Most addicts never seek any help or treatment, and those who do often regress back into their addiction. Greed is a powerful drug.

The only way things will change is if the store shelves are empty and TV ratings go so low that sponsors quit paying for the sitcoms, sports and reality shows. But that’s not necessarily good news.

When the big change comes the great unwashed will most likely move further to the right and overt fascism will replace the present covert fascism. Fear is a powerful drug, which makes people think and do things that they hope will provide security.

As the cities revert to actions based upon bigotry, and the Constitutional mandate that Federal troops not be used for domestic civil unrest disappears, and the President starts putting leftists in jail for being on the left, the masses will rally behind the flag and the cross. All it will take is a collapse of the economic system, without bailouts to revive it, and the American Dream, which is now a thing of the past, will become the American nightmare. I don’t see anything pointing to a reversal of the present drift toward a red-white-and blue police state, do you?

Lee Simon

Far ‘n Away Farm, Virginia




On behalf of my uncle Efren Mendoza and the Mendoza family I would like to thank everyone who made the benefit dinner possible. We are very grateful to everyone who donated and took their time to help plan and everyone who attended.

We really appreciate everyone's help and caring words. We definitely feel blessed to live in a community where we can come together and help someone in need. Our family cannot thank you enough.

Thank you and bless you all,

Yadira Mendoza





The news of Alex Cockburn's untimely and unexpected passing stunned me more than any other departure in recent memory.

Let others better suited reminisce about his mordant wit and the spectrum of his opinions.

I write to praise an exceptional wordsmith and stylist. Rarely did I read his columns without a dictionary at hand.

Often would I reread a certain sentence, metaphor, or turn of phrase, savoring it like a sip of century old single-malt Scotch.

No one who likes to call himself a writer should disregard the example of Alex's style.

His loss creates a colossal void in the pages of the AVA.

A toast: To the Radical Knight of the Plume! Raise your glass for the Celtic slayer of servility and cant!

"...and down a many few, my lads, and down a many few..."

William Allen


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