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Letters To The Editor



I am an Environmentalist! There I said it. I have been all my life I suppose. Ever since I learned on the back of a horse, that nature is where I would rather be. In the 1960's I learned to be in tune with nature in the High Sierras and high desert. Away from the busy, noisy city. During my youth I watched the empty spaces in LA County rapidly disappear due to progress. Remember the song “They Paved Paradise and Put Up a Parking Lot?” I watched it happen.

I have been very vocal about the protection of the Ridgewood Ranch from a zoning change that could affect the ranch for years to come. During the last several weeks I have become even more passionate about the protection of the beautiful place that I moved to in order to raise my family away from those noisy cities.

I hear things about “not from here” or “she's only been here a few years.” That makes me wonder if that is how people feel about ME? I mean how long does one need to live here to be a “local?” A year? Five years? A lifetime? Just how long? I have lived in Willits for twenty-seven plus years now. We built our house and sent four children through the Willits Unified School system. They are all fine upstanding citizens with some of THEIR children now going to school here. So please tell me what is a “local?” Do you see me as a “dirty long haired hippy?” “Uneducated” or a “non-tax payer?” Those are the terms I have heard bantered around about the protestors. I take issue with that. Our family has been contributing to the tax base of this county from the moment we moved here. Yet we are all lumped together in the eyes of the pro-Bypass supporters.

I find it interesting that the most derogatory remarks I have heard have come from people whom I thought were well educated. Some are friends of mine whom I thought I knew better. People who now seem to me to be very small minded. People who say things like “cut the trees down with them in them” or “shoot them down”, or “wouldn't it be fun to drive by the protesters with paint ball guns” and many other statements too disgusting to print. People who don’t search out the facts of an issue and just go along with it because “they heard…” Funny I don't hear that kind of immature name calling from the protesters, most of whom are, like me, supportive, hard working, tax -paying citizens of this beautiful county.

Which brings me to the issue at hand. I ask all of you who weren't “born” here, what brought you here? We all have our stories. Why did you, or your parents, or grandparents move here to begin with? The beauty of the Little Lake Valley can't be found very often in this day and age. A valley that turns into a small lake every winter for a reason. Supporting fish and wildlife habitat is it's job! That JOB is about to be taken away. No amount of mitigation measures are going to replace those wetlands, or save the lost grazing for the Elk and deer and cattle who all depend on it. These wetlands are headwaters to the Eel River and its very important salmon spawning tributaries. What is going to happen when all that water is “soaked up” by the so called “wicks” they will employ? I can only imagine how some of the old time ranchers in the valley feel about what is about to happen. They are “keepers of the land” as well. That is why the California Farm Bureau joined the lawsuit. I can't imagine this beautiful “one of a kind” valley with a huge berm and viaduct cutting through it. Can you?

I have read comments from residents of Cloverdale telling us that they have survived just fine and are even better off with their bypass. But the circumstances in Willits are much, MUCH different than Cloverdale.

None of the people who live and work around here deny that a solution is desperately needed. People say “well why haven’t they protested before? They had plenty of time.” It HAS been disagreed upon before and no one has listened. This is a last ditch effort to get the attention of the Big Mighty Steamroller that is CalTrans. There have been several other solutions presented that are cheaper and make more SENSE. But CalTrans has turned a deaf ear. OUR tax dollars are NOT working for the residents of Willits and Mendocino County. If they were serious about our traffic, there would be a Hwy 20 interchange of some sort. There is NOT! How many people are employed in Willits who live in Ukiah or Fort Bragg or Laytonville? How many Willits residents are employed in Ukiah or Fort Bragg? How many companies in Willits have MANY trucks arriving and departing daily? This Bypass, as designed, will NOT help those people. It won't help any of the residents that live south or north of town. It will NOT help the congestion that occurs at lunchtime or after school. It will NOT help congestion at Sherwood Rd. It will NOT help the tourists congestion headed to and from the coast. And it will NOT help the always slipping Ridgewood Grade. The THERE is a lesson in Mother Nature! How is CalTrans going to manage a seasonal lake and wetlands when they can't manage a constantly moving mountain on the Ridgewood Grade? No amount of Styrofoam will stabilize that mountain.

So before all the name calling gets out of hand and seriously divides this community that we ALL love, let’s pay attention to the facts.

Our tax money could be better spent by using one of the cheaper, less destructive alternatives. THINK ABOUT IT!

As our beloved Ed Burton used to say, “There's a Better Way.”

Roni McFadden





The March 20 Cannabis Card series depicts Poncho Villa as a folk hero to the rural poor. While he may well be that to some, the two paragraphs failed to mention why President Wilson sent US troops after him.

On March 9, 1916, his men raided Columbus, New Mexico, in an attempt to gain munitions and other military supplies. This attack left 18 Americans dead, 10 of which were civilians, the town burned and in ruins.

Not exactly a good image to support the use of cannabis. In the future, they may want to be more selective as to who they feature, or at the very least print all the facts.

Mark Casaretto

Redwood City




I'm writing in response to James Gator Lawson's screed in the March 27th AVA.

Gator, that's all I knew him as, was living adjacent to our acre a little north of Fort Bragg when he committed the crime for which he is in jail, and I want to say to you Gator: Take the deal and no more bitching, please. As far as I'm concerned, you are getting off mighty easy for what you did to that woman.

And as to your earlier letters complaining about jail conditions— hey, do the crime, do the time. You're extremely lucky not to be doing a much longer stretch in the State Prison system.

Peter Sears

Fort Bragg

PS. Dear Craig Louis Stehr: Just go to DC. I'm sure you will find a place to stay. I'm curious tho bro, Won't The Peace House put you up again? If not, you must have really done something to piss them off, for I know them to be a normally mellow bunch.




As a neighbor and opponent of the proposed Grist Creek Aggregates concrete batch plant proposed for 37342 Covelo Road, adjacent to Outlet Creek and two miles northeast of Highway 101, I was heartened to learn that the county has postponed until April 8 its decision on the company's environmental document.

If the county accepts Grist Creek's environmental document, the building of the plant, which endangers Outlet Creek, is virtually assured, provided no one appeals the decision before April 18.

Why did the county postpone its decision? More than 65 comment letters from the public, organizations and agencies have poured in to complain of the environmental hazards the concrete plant poses. The county planning department has given Grist Creek Aggregates, LLC, 60 days “to respond to comments on the draft environmental document.”

Among the groups urging the county to reject the plan and its environmental document are the Sierra Club Mendocino Group, the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC), Willits Environmental Center, and Friends of the Eel River.

“There are too many unanswered questions,” the Sierra Club's Mary Walsh wrote the planning department in January. “In the light of climate change and other threats to the environment, every care must be taken to secure habitat for endangered salmon and other aquatic creatures. Outlet Creek does provide the longest remaining run for the endangered Coho salmon of any river tributary in the state of California.”

The Sierra Club urged the county to demand a full environmental impact report on the project. Unless the county insists, the company doesn't have to provide an EIR because of a little-noticed 2010 rezoning decision that changed the old Northern Aggregates gravel pit site zoning from rangeland to industrial. Amazingly, sites in “industrial” zones don't have to conduct EIRs.

Do you want lumbering concrete and gravel trucks making an additional 48 trips a day down the dangerously narrow and twisty Covelo Road? Would you welcome the noise of a plant operating from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days per week in a narrow canyon along a precious creek? Will the creation of few jobs offset the huge environmental risks the concrete bath plant poses to steelhead and Chinook salmon breeding grounds? I don't think so.

Adding insult to injury, without a permit, in 2011 the Grist Creek, which runs a gravel pit at the site and apparently considered the concrete plant a done deal, dug three gravel and cement truck cleaning ponds dangerously close to Outlet Creek. The ponds nearly spilled into the creek during December 2012 rains and would have overflowed if water had not seeped away through the berms into the creek. In January 2013, to make room for more rainwater, the Grist Creek emptied the ponds directly into the creek, threatening salmon spawning grounds. What if those ponds had been full of toxic filings, which they will be if the plant ever opens? This nonchalance about a delicate ecosystem comes from the same company that is precipitously close to persuading the planning department that their plant will have no serious impact on fish, wildlife, traffic, noise levels, creek water and air quality.

The problems keep on coming.

“Given the recent road collapse [of Highway 162],” Sierra Club's Walsh noted, “it must be considered that the infrastructure is aged, and that closer, proactive monitoring must be adopted. We cannot wait until infrastructure collapse forces the issue.”

It's not too late to tell the planning department how you feel about the Grist Creek Aggregates concrete batch plant proposal. Public comment period is now over. But letting officials know where you stand may make them think twice. Together, we can protect one of Mendocino County's most precious natural resources.

Jane Futcher




Dear Editor,

Enclosed is my check for another year of the AVA. It is late as my subscription expired in February, but I would not have had time to read the new editions anyway. I have been out of town, first in Mexico and then to Lincoln City, Oregon, where I spent five days packing up and moving my 84-year-old aunt whose dementia has progressed to the point where she needs more help. She is now living nearby where my cousin and I can take care of her more easily. I am 58 and am already taking care of my 90-year-old mother who has Alzheimer's, so it's a busy life. Good thing I'm "retired."

If there is ever an official poll of readers about whether or not to switch over to a web-only version, I will be in the camp of those solidly in favor of maintaining the printed version. Even though I am now the (happy) owner of an iPad, thanks to the generosity of my husband, I still prefer to read "hard copy."

I have not seen it mentioned in any of the letters to you on this subject, but due to the small but still very readable fonts used in the AVA, it's possible to save the editions that a person like myself has not had time to read without them taking up much room around the house and then take them on vacation, as I did, to Mexico, read them on the beach, and then leave them behind in the "readers exchange box" along with the romance and detective novels and Time magazines. This sort of thing could not be done with a web version! You never know where you will find a new reader of the AVA, even at a timeshare resort in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

I look forward to the next edition of the AVA that arrives in the mail and I will try not to wonder too much about what I've missed.

Cheryl Zuur





My name is Art Judice, born and raised in Mendo.

Your paper is awesome. Mike Johnson has been sharing it with us for the past six months. but with God willing he will be going home soon.

Anyway, there are a few of us here from Mendo on this yard and we would be very grateful if you would please keep sending us your newspaper. It's very enjoyable to read and we all look forward to it every week.

Thank you so much,

Art Judice

Jamestown, California




I find your paper interesting as usual. Same situation: still locked up, but with a pay number, so I am enclosing $25 to extend my subscription for as long as possible. Important: Keep everything else on the address label but take off "Unit 13." Changing units very soon, not sure which, but as long as they have my "ID number" on the label it will get to me. Thanks.

Pren Nothnagel





I read with interest the negative comments about the quality of education found in Anderson Valley High School. As a retired teacher who has taught in six different secondary schools over a span of forty years, I feel compelled to say something.

I think there are two main ways of looking at the success or failure of education in this country.

One is through the standard test results, scholarships, college graduation numbers and income level of the graduates. The other is through the intangible results of happiness, cooperation, awareness of those in need and good will.

I don't think the United States is doing very well in taking care of the majority of its citizens. Our success in the world as a self-appointed policeman and bully is unquestioned. This "success" has come from those who have kicked and shoved their way to the top - starting in high school.

My experience as a substitute teacher at Anderson Valley High School is that of one who senses the happiness and compassion of the students. Good will and a willingness to learn is the norm.

I feel respected and welcomed when I teach there. If I had to use one word to describe the school, it would be “Joyful.”

I think our world could use an injection of joy. Competition has failed. Cooperation is the only way we can survive as a species. I think the leaders of our State and Nation would do well to visit AVHS and check out a system that is functioning in a manner that models a successful way for people to live together in peace and cooperation.

Most sincerely,

Ashley Jones





As much rich laughter as P.G. Wodehouse has blessed us with, credit should go where it is due. The quote attributed to him in the 3/20/13 AVA is actually a misquote of that great creator of Archy and Mehitabel, Don Marquis. The accurate quote from his Sun Dial is “Publishing a volume of verse is like dropping a rose-petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo.” Here's another fine Marquis observation: “If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you. If you really make them think, they'll hate you.”

All the best as ever

Jim Lowe

Elizaville, New York



Subject: Daoist Organizing

Warmest greetings from the Berkeley Public Library, Please appreciate that I just left an unscheduled meeting with the head of the Berkeley men's shelter. She has concluded that I have an impossible situation, because I am rejecting senior housing because at 63 years of age, I do not want to retire! I also do not have adequate money to rent a place, because I've been cultivating a spiritual life for the past 40 years, and my social security retirement check is too small since I oftentimes was not working for an income (such as when I performed 23 years of voluntary service work with Berkeley Catholic Worker and other groups like Food Not Bombs). She asked me what my plan is, considering that on April 13th the winter shelter at the Oakland Army Base closes, and I will be dropped off at a street corner in downtown Oakland at 6 A.M. to fend for myself. I stated that I am only interested in making use of my considerable experience, and I belong on the frontlines of radical environmentalism and peace & justice, and that it would be an unimaginable waste to head for the shuffel board courts with others over 60. And besides, I am not going to creatively write more in such an environment, because one gets grist for the literary mill by being fully active on the earth plane. Who the fuck wants to read poetry or stories about dropping dead on the bocce ball court? I just received my social security retirement check, and am presently able to relocate. I am seeking a place to go to initially, with others who have made the decision to continue being fit instruments for spiritual direct action, in opposition to the insanity of materialism. It's that simple! If this is your determination as well, then please contact me immediately. Do I really need to clarify this any further? What are we waiting for?

Craig Stehr





Daniel Macias is a Junior at Menlo College where he got a “free” ride based on his academics. His father Jose is the vineyard manager at Handley Vineyards. His sister Letitia is a Junior at AVHS. Daniel's GPA and entrance to Alpha Chi is a result of the strong educational foundation he received at AVHA and stands in direct contradiction to all of your mindless “rantings” about the lousy quality of learning and teaching AVHS.

Jerry Cox





To the Editor

Last week President Obama took bold action to preserve our nation’s cultural and natural heritage by naming five new national monuments, including the San Juan Islands on the Pacific Coast. By protecting these special places he is fashioning an enduring legacy for the benefit of our children and grandchildren: thank you, Mr. President!

Here in on the North Coast we’re also blessed with a wealth of exceptional places where people can connect with nature. For example, last Friday I had the privilege of attending an enthusiastic public gathering on the headlands above Arena Cove, hosted by Congressman Jared Huffman to announce his intention to introduce legislation adding the spectacular Stornetta Public Lands to the California Coastal National Monument. The bill would also add ten miles to the California Coastal Trail, making it possible to hike along the bluffs all the way from Point Arena to the Lighthouse and on to Manchester State Park.

This bill will be co-sponsored by Congressman Mike Thompson and paired with companion legislation introduced by Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein. It’s a great idea with apparently unanimous public support, but with little likelihood of success under current Congressional leadership: the112th Congress was the first since World War II to fail to protect so much as one new acre of public land as a park, national monument or wilderness area.

So I’m joining Congressman Huffman in urging President Obama to step forward to permanently protect this irreplaceable natural treasure by adding the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands to the Coastal National Monument by executive order.

Victoria Brandon

Chair, Sierra Club Redwood Chapter




Dear Editor:

According to an excellent article by Justine Frederiksen in the Ukiah Daily Journal, the Ukiah Unified School District (UUSD)  will be millions of dollars in debt by the 2015-2016 school year,. This budget deficit was projected by Sandra Harrington, Chief Business Officer for UUSD. More specifically, as soon as 2015, the School District will have a $2.25 million shortfall. How did this happen? Increasing teacher salaries by 10 per cent completely wiped out the School District's reserves (also known as Fund 17).

Let’s hope Mendocino County doesn't follow the UUSD's lead in spending its reserves. Currently, the County has about $4 million in reserves.

Why does a county or city need a reserve?

There are several reasons.

First, a fiscal year is an artificial construct used for budgeting, control, and financial reporting purposes. Expenses do not cease simply because we change fiscal years. Local governments have to continue to pay employees and operate. Revenues in the new fiscal year often do not come in precisely when they are needed. For example, property taxes in many counties aren't received until early in a new calendar year. For a county which uses a fiscal year beginning July 1st, this is six months (or more) into the fiscal year. Other revenue sources have their own collection cycles.

It is not uncommon, therefore, for a local government to have a negative cash flow in some portions of its fiscal year. This simply means that more money is being paid out than is coming in. Fund balance accumulations from prior years would typically be used to finance these expenditures. As revenues come in, of course, these funds are restored to the fund balance so long as the government is living within its budget and revenues meet projections. Thus, cash flow needs dictate a need for a fund balance. Of course, local governments can finance these cash flow needs with short-term debt in the form of tax anticipation notes, but interest, debt issuance costs, and potentially increased costs of long-term borrowing make this make this a more expensive alternative.

A second reason for maintaining a reserve is that many local governments use reserves as a means of financing large capital expenditures, such as vehicle fleets and other equipment, land acquisition, and buildings or building maintenance projects. Building up a reserve over time may eliminate the need for entering into debt, or at least reduce the amount of debt needed when capital expenditures are required, thereby reducing the interest charges the government will pay. In addition, a reserve allows local governments to plan ahead for major expenditures and to smooth the tax rate out as much as possible, so that erratic fluctuations in property tax rates, sale tax rates, or other revenue sources need not occur.

In our own county, Mendocino County, reserves can be used to pay down unfunded pension liabilities, which are known estimated to be upward of $130 million. Reserves can also be used to pay of Teeter debt, which is now pegged at several million dollars. Sharply escalating pension costs in the form of annual county contributions to the county pension system, as dictated by the pension system's actuary, also could wipe out that $4 million reserve at Mendocino County in any given year. We should also bear in mind that health care costs for county employees are also sharply rising.

A spin-off benefit of a reserve is that it also provides government with funds to invest in order to earn interest income. Such income is a revenue source that can be used to maintain lower taxes. Thus, when cash is temporarily idle, wise investments can provide a valuable source of revenue for a county or city.

Finally, a reserve can indeed serve as a contingency fund which enables local governments to respond to unanticipated events or emergencies during the years. Buildings or equipment may be damaged through unexpected events, such as the pipe burst and flooding at the County Public Health building on Dora Street earlier this year.

An emergency may require more employee overtime expenses than budgeted, such as when hurricanes, earthquakes,and other acts of God, strike counties and cities. Or, opportunities may arise which a local government may want to take advantage of, i. e., park land, a historic site, or surplus equipment offered for sale, etc., but which were not anticipated when the budget was prepared. Reserve funds also serve as contingency funds for protracted litigation involving injury claims and other tort claims, labor negotiations and disputes, federal and state claims, constitutional claims against public officials, strategic lawsuits, etc.

For all these reasons, maintaining reserves is good government. It's common sense.

John Sakowicz


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