FOOLISH & COSTLY
To the Editor:
At this point, I feel there isn't any way to dissuade our esteemed elected council from their plan to squeeze State Street down from two lanes to one through the downtown area. From the recent article in the paper, the council has stated this is their No. 1 priority. I could think of any number of things to place as a priority above this plan.
I am solid in my belief this is a foolish and costly adventure in making the citizens believe the council is "doing something" to beautify downtown and make it "Safe." This is all under the guise of slowing traffic and making the area more pedestrian and bicycle friendly, and thus draws more shoppers to the downtown area. What it will do is cause serious traffic problems with long back-ups at lights and the squeeze from two lanes to one; with people in a hurry passing in the proposed center turn lane.
All one has to do is to look at the City of Willits where Highway 101 squeezes down from four lanes to two. Everyone living here has been caught up in that traffic tangle and I don't believe the people of Ukiah wish that for their city center. This boondoggle is being paid for with our tax dollars from a grant from the state. I truly believe that the money would be better spent on our roads or signal systems than some misguided attempt to create a downtown for pedestrians and bikers.
This is being done after spending money widening Perkins Street several years ago to relieve congestion and make it safer.
We also spent our dollars to widen South State from two lanes to four a number of years ago, also to relieve congestion. So now we have made it easier for drivers to get to downtown, we want to slow them down in the hope they will stop and buy something. Sounds pretty silly to me.
There are other problems with this plan, aside from the ensuing back-ups that it will cause. Drivers are going to attempt to bypass this traffic tangle, which will throw more traffic onto other N/S streets, such as Dora and Main, neither of which need any increase in traffic.
A much better use of our tax dollars would be to put in flashing crossing signals for pedestrians on State and Perkins streets, such as are in Fort Bragg. The little signs in the middle of the street are ineffectual and pedestrians are at a greater risk because the signs are there. These give pedestrians a false feeling that drivers will slow down and yield. I challenge anyone who doubts this to make an attempt to cross Perkins Street near the Physical Therapy office, but do so knowing you are taking your life in your hands.
On my routes through town, I tend to stay off State Street as much as possible at this time, and I will certainly steer clear in the future when this waste of money is put into effect — there isn't anything down there I can afford to buy anyway.
HELP! UKIAH HIGH IS A TOXIC WASTE SITE
Two 10,000 gallon Underground Storage Tanks ruptured and were buried on the Ukiah High Campus. Subsequent soil and ground water investigations indicate diesel in both soil and in groundwater below water quality objectives. Despite these facts, the Water Quality Control Board plans to proceed with “no further action,” leaving the leaking tanks buried on our high school campus in a residential area. These contaminants pose a serious ongoing health threat to students, staff and residents and negatively impact the value of homes in the area. Let’s not save this mess for future generations. The site needs to be cleaned up. Please help if you can. The alleged Responsible Party is: Robert Dickerson at North Coast Regional Quality Control Board, 5550 Skylane Blvd Suite A, Santa Rosa, CA 95404. Phone: (707) 576-2220. Unless there is an outcry, all our local elementary school children have four years in a toxic dump to look forward to. The comment period ends May 28, 2013.
G'day Editor and Fellow AVAers,
Holodomor is Ukrainian for "death by hunger." Stalin killed ten million Ukrainians in the early 1930s by mass starvation, which included a third of the nation's children. Obama, Moma us, oh, Obama, Moma, Obama Moma, my rent exceeds my income $224 a month since last November 2012. And my saving's spent on rent. It's no good to be without food cash and owe on rent. It's no good to be without coffee, it's no good to be without honey, honey; it's no good to be without matches. It burns me up to be without 45¢ for a postage stamp to mail my most recent prose poem editor letter to the AVA. Hey, I'm a blonde with the metal pullcart who stood in line 25 minutes at CVS to turn in my prescription; Catch-22, that shall make standing less painful. Ha. A standing ovation. "You may pick this prescription up tomorrow morning." "Thank you," I said. As I pulled my medal pullcart out of CVS, the left wheel flew onto the floor. Ay KaRum Bah. I was, therefore, required to carry my backpack, my books and the pullcart to the nearest bus stop at Redwood and McPherson. "Health care, like firefighting, is a collective good that no one should be denied." But the US is backward, conservative, old-fashioned, etc. where you must go to the doctor prior to the pharmacy to get your prescription: a written license which gives you legal permission to swallow your pills. And we women in America don't die of hunger. No. We've got fat hips. And we've forgotten how to do our lips.
Diana, who got soaked in a downpour for the first time in years last week as she ran home from the church's Easter dinner.
THE WILD DOGS OF FRISCO
The follow-up trip to Frisco's Fort Miley VA medical center went smoothly, but I nearly missed my midmorning appointment due to rain swamped traffic gridlock from Marin County south to the Golden Gate.
As predicted, the paperwork shuffle ate up a lot of time, most of which involved slogging through a labyrinth of look-alike passages and deciphering obscure government coded instructions.
With only an hour to kill before the 1400 DVA bus returned to Ukiah, I snarfed my bag lunch and walked the Battle of the Bulge Memorial Trail to its intersection with the El Camino Del Mar Trail then completed the loop back to Fort Miley.
The Battle of the Bulge monument describes the World War II "engagement" in Belgium and Luxembourg as the greatest US Army battle victory of all time -- at a cost of 81,000 American lives. A sobering thought.
El Camino Del Mar is a beautiful trail featuring broad ocean views and interesting displays describing the geology, flora, fauna, and history of the area. At the western trailhead near the parking lot, the USS San Francisco Memorial describes the ship's pivotal role in the American victory at Guadalcanal Island in the western Pacific during World War II. Another display documents the role of Fort Miley as an artillery outpost protecting the Golden Gate during World War II.
So much to see, so little time. On a negative note, the trail was swarming with meandering, zoned out "dog walkers" methodically thumbing electronic gizmos while their packs of unleashed mutts went apeshit.
Next time, I'll carry my American shillelagh (Louisville Slugger). The Frisco mutts are docile compared to Mendopia's pot watch beasties, but in Northern California, it's always wise to be armed.
I'd like to spend more time exploring the fascinating Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The hiking trails in Mendopia are too dangerous unless you're heavily armed thanks to rampant pot "gardening" even in parks and wilderness areas. It's much easier to deal with the wild dogs of Frisco then the wired frauds of Mendo.
On the return DVA bus trip to Ukiah I talked with a 71-year-old Navy vet, originally from Ohio, who graduated from the USN's Monterey language school and served as a Russian translator in the early 60s, mostly on nuclear subs. He had chilling tales to tell of the US and USSR nuclear subs playing underwater cat and mouse games. The fact that we haven't yet obliterated the planet in a nuclear holocaust is a major miracle.
One day we should arrange an outing at GGNRA including a tour of the Fort Miley Medical Center. It's a chilling eye-opener worthy of an in-depth report.
PS. The "nonviolent" direct action community protesting the Willits half-assed bypass has introduced some creative new tactics: screaming, biting, and shit-slinging.
The workers at Child Support Services and the half-dozen Air Quality workers have petitioned Mendocino County to decertify SEIU representation. Many County workers believe that they are getting poor to non-existent representation from SEIU. And there is more and more talk about the Teamsters representing County workers. But the Teamsters may, or may not, be the answer to weak representation by SEIU for Mendocino County workers.
True, the Teamsters represent the lawyers and other workers over at the District Attorney’s Office, but all is not what it may seem with the Teamsters. The Wall Street Journal recently reported on what might be the next great federal bailout.
A bailout? Yes, a bailout. The Teamsters Union Central States pension fund has been in trouble for some time—UPS pulled out of the fund in 2009—but now the Teamsters pension fund is quickly advancing towards a point of no return.
And there's more. Republic Services just pulled their employees from the fund.
The Wall Street Journal notes:
“Investment losses during the financial crisis and hard times for trucking companies that pay into the Teamsters’ Central States Funds have sapped the fund of money it uses to pay promised benefits.
“With just 60¢ of assets for every $1 in obligations, the Teamsters pension fund is considered in ‘critical’ status by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., the federal agency that backstops failed pensions.
“You read that right: ‘backstops.’ If the Teamsters fund goes bust, taxpayers could be on the hook. And how deep is the sea of red that drowns the fund’s ledger? ”
The Wall Street Journal continues:
“The pension plan pays about $2.8 billion in benefits a year but takes in only about $700 million in employer contributions.”
Yup. This sounds a little like Mendocino County’s own retirement system. Employer and employee contributions don’t cover future pension costs. What we lack in employer and employee contributions, we have to make up with investment returns.
But those investment returns are extremely unlikely over the long-term. And remember, when you chase higher returns, you’re also taking on higher risk. There is no free lunch.
Remember, too, private sector and public sector pension plans alike are trying to preserve their employees’ retirements by trying to "reform" pensions. But is reform really reform?
The hidden agenda to reform is that both private sector and public sector pension plans want employees trapped in their dying funds. Why? Because when employees opt out of pension funds, a bigger burden is placed on the employer and the employees who remain in the fund.
The only way out for an employer like Mendocino County is to chase yet even higher returns with even higher risk.
Or we can issue more Pension Obligation Bonds which places a burden incurred by the present generation of workers on the future generations of taxpayers.
And that, my friends, is unfair to our children and grandchildren.
PAPER & PEPPER SPRAY
US Prisoners everywhere want you to continue printing the AVA. Our access to computers is restricted, no internet, limited email and we are locked down a lot as we are here at USP Hazelton.
We just ended a three-week lockdown and then were out for one week when a guard was stabbed on Saturday, April 6. So we are in another lockdown because of that. I found out the reason from a local radio station which sometimes tells news of this joint.
Of course you are going to keep on printing the Mighty AVA because you are a newsPAPER man in charge of America’s last newsPAPER.
Paul Jorgenson #53599-146
USP Hazelton PO Box 2000
Bruceton Mills, West Virginia 26525-2000
PS. “MEMORANDUM FOR INMATE POPULATION, USP HAZELTON. FROM: Terry O’Brien, Warden. SUBJECT: OC Spray. This memorandum serves as notice, effective Sunday, March 31, 2013, the Bureau of Prisons; has authorized institution staff to carry and utilize pepper spray in accordance with national policy. The implementation of pepper stray will help ensure the secure and orderly running of the institution, and the safety of staff and inmates.”
The North Coast Railroad Authority (NCRA) Board Meeting last Wednesday clearly was that of a dysfunctional agency whose actions have an Alice in Wonderland quality. They invalidated an environmental impact report (EIR) which was financed with $3 million from the California Department of Transportation because of a lawsuit from two environmental groups. They now claim that although they are a state agency since they are a federally regulated railroad, state environmental laws do not apply to them. That is a hard sell since they agreed to be subject to state environmental laws when they commissioned the EIR. In addition the DOT wants their $3 million back, so the Board is dancing around saying that they do like the information in the report but they do not want it to be an EIR.
The major problem is the largest portion of the route between Marin County and Eureka goes along the Eel River. Due to well-known problems, rehabbing this portion of the track is not economically feasible and has serious environmental issues. So what you now have is a rump rail line that is leased out and does not generate any lease income for NCRA. A new twist is, they are participating in a feasibility study for a railroad from Humboldt Bay over the mountains to the upper Sacramento Valley (Redding or Red Bluff) — a real pipe dream that someday Humboldt Bay will be a major cargo port.
The problems started when the Legislature in their infinite wisdom chartered the NCRA. Rather obviously they did not do their homework but were doing a favor for the northcoast Democrats. Currently they seem to have developed a legislative see-no-evil attitude towards the problem they created.
James G. Updegraff
26 March. President Obama signs the spending bill. Just before the debate ended, an amendment was inserted, passed by voice vote, in the last hours, prohibiting the National Science Foundation from funding any political science unless it is certified as "promoting national security or the economic interests of the United States."
Hmmm -- am I being cynical, paranoid, to question why Congress and the president might want to restrict these studies? One of the questions on the American National Elections Studies survey -- which would no longer be funded: "how often can you trust the government to do what is right?" The amendment, supported by both Democrats and Republicans, was written by Senator Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma).
My source for the above: Science, the Journal for the American Association for the Advancement of Science. March 29, 2013, volume 339, No. 6127, pages 1510-1511.
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE HILL
First and foremost, thank you from all of us at SATF. We read your paper from cover to cover. I myself grew up just over the hill from Anderson Valley in Ukiah and then moved to the other side of the hill in Gualala. The only time we came to your town was for the Fair and the Redwood Drive-always had good fried burritos. We would stop on the way home over Mountain View Road anyway. There are some of us here from Fort Bragg, Willits, Albion, etc. so we all thank you for the paper. Your staff writes it all and we love it that you do not back down or shy away from any subject. Keep up the good writing.
Marijuana's new controversy, called “dabbing", is a chemical process using toxic solvents to extract THC concentrate in order to bring on a more intense high. (AVA, 4/3/13, “A Little Dab'll Do Ya"). Some conscientious people use a safe cold water extraction process but most reputedly use common lighter fluid (butane) under a torch to produce a “dab” of concentrated hash oil. “Butane is a fire and explosion risk because it is highly flammable. Many people have been severely injured using butane to make cannabis oil extracts,” according to Dr. Jeffrey Hergenrather.
This phenomenon has brought four issues to the fore: health, safety, labeling, testing. Patients who purchase “honey oil” concentrate in dispensaries for legitimate health reasons have no way of knowing which solvents were used to extract the oil, whether it retains a % of toxic butane residue or even minute bits of stainless steel knocked off in the heating process, as Dr. Hergenrather cautions. Over time, tiny amounts can amount to a significant health issue, which is in conflict with cannabis' growing reputation as the safest “plant drug” on the planet, never having been associated with a single recorded death. “Due to its limited toxicity, versatility and limited cost, it will eventually be hailed as a wonder medicine,” according to Dr. Lester Grinspoon, Harvard University professor emeritus.
There's also the personal use lighter issue. Every time we use a lighter to spark up a pipe or a joint, we're inhaling toxic fumes from those seconds of burning butane under our nostrils. “Combustible products of butane will inevitably appear in the first puffs. I am concerned about those who use it repeatedly with a pipe or other devise that requires repeated applications of heat,” cautions Dr. Grinspoon.
What is the health effect of thousands of lighter fluid hits over time? I now realize that I am one of the people Dr. Grinspoon is referring to. So a remedy is in order. Get a roll of hemp twine, the type covered with a beeswax coating. Use it like a candle wick. Light the hemp wick away from your face, then use the wick to light your pipe or joint. It burns smooth, it's smart, easy & presumably non-toxic. If you wrap the twine around the stem of your pipe, it's always handy.
These issues require big picture remedies, such as self-labeling & testing, creating a high standard of accountability by giving patients as much information as possible — THC extraction fluids; cannabinoid ratios; cultivation ingredients; fertilizers; pesticides; soil amendments; etc. Rather than wait for conditions to be imposed from outside, we should adopt our own transparency tools, part of an industry-wide patient accountability program, paving the way for legalization, putting self-help processes in place that we understand best.