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Letters To The Editor



I realize domestic disputes are hard on everyone in the vicinity at best, but the police are supposed to have training in sorting out what is dangerous and what is not for the people involved.

Friday evening of the big snow and freeze, I went on Ukiah’s Artwalk in spite of having a light attack of vertigo I sometimes suffer. That very morning I had mentioned in passing, the vertigo to the woman staying in my apartment.

Arriving home from the Artwalk, I went to the kitchen, a very small kitchen, and did not turn on the light because I only wanted a glass of water. Whamm, I tripped over a 10-inch ceramic planter in the middle of the floor, and spread dirt and ginger plant all over the kitchen. I turned on the light, reacting quickly to put the dirt back in the planter between exclamations of “oww” concerning the toe that was already broken, and started to clean up the dirt. At least I had not fallen. She came flying out of “her” bedroom and instead on apologizing for the mess, started yelling at me that I had woken her up. I reacted back, toe in pain, telling her it was a really dumb idea to put a planter in the middle of a dark room for someone to trip over, a concept she should under­stand because she herself is close to blind. The planter had been on the covered porch outside the door before she moved it after 6pm when I went to downtown Ukiah walking. Maybe she did it on purpose to hurt me? I hope not.

Things got out of hand yelling back and forth and I told her to go into her room and leave me alone. She would not, she kept screaming about all that is wrong with me. I warned her that I live in the living room and she was invading my private space and to go away. She would not. Hindsight tells me I should have stopped talking altogether and just put earphones on, and the TV. But instead I kept loudly repeating the mantra, “Go to your room, and leave me alone.” Finally I said, “Go to your room or I will call the police, I cannot take this abuse.” “Go ahead,” she said, “I don’t care.” So I did. I am 68, she is 54, and I was shaking like a leaf.

Four or five cops came very quickly and stood around my bed in the living room, asking what the problem was. I was upset and told them (too loudly?) to please tell her to go into her room and leave me alone. I could not take her yelling much more, and I hated to yell back but it was my home for the last four years. They acted like somehow it was my fault, like I am supposed to tolerate what was happening in it because she has the right. They actually used the words “she has the right.” Just the same, they politely asked her to go to her room and leave me alone. They did not lecture her at all about verbal abuse of an elder.

The woman went to her room until the last cop had left then came back out and started again. I was in the tiny bathroom at this point brushing my teeth and she was blocking the doorway. My electric toothbrush sprayed a little paste on her by accident and she got furious. I was trapped in my bathroom by a maniac.

I told her to get out of my way and she did, thank goodness. She followed me to the living room again and continued her tirade and I continued to repeat the mantra, “Go to your room and leave me alone” as loud as I could. By this time I had pooped my pants from fear of her but would not leave my bed to go back to the tiny bathroom. Finally she raced to her room, grabbed her phone and cigarettes and went outside. I locked the door. Locking the door gave me a chance to go to the bathroom and clean up. She banged on the windows and door and instead of calling a friend to pick her up, she called the cops.

This time when the police came, they were very clear to me. They never asked if I was damaged, if she had hurt me in any way, or why I had locked her out. They stood around my queen bed scowling at me, informing me if they had to come back again I WAS GOING TO JAIL. I told them she was a guest and at the very least she was committing elder abuse trying to run me out of my own home. No matter, I was going to jail. In fact, they said, threateningly “Do you want to go to jail right now?” I was too scared to ask why. I was sober, don’t do drugs and sitting in my bed in my apartment.

Obviously I was not pleased at this complete lack of help or protection, so I stopped talking altogether and they left, turning to repeat, as they opened the door, that if they got called again by either of us, I was going to jail.

I needed to leave my home immediately in the ice and snow at nearly midnight by then; because there was no doubt in my mind she would have called them from her room. The police had purposefully given her the power to run me out of my home. Should it not have been her they threatened? She’d trapped me in my bathroom once; I dared not leave my bed again, except to race out the door.

I phoned an acquaintance and drove up one of the alphabet roads in Redwood Valley with my vertigo and my dog, in a small car with tiny tires. Thank you Ukiah’s finest for making sure this woman had my nice cozy apartment to herself all night after driving me out of it with the help of the police I had originally called out of fear of her. She is still here, I am powerless to get her out. I am pleased I did not have to be scraped off the road that night by these same policemen; if alive, they might have arrested me.

I am not a victim of poor choice of friend, I did that all alone. The last place she stayed the elderly (older than me) woman saw her in a store, grabbed her by the hair, threw her to the ground, and told her to leave by the end of the day. That worked. I felt sorry for her, I walked into this eyes wide open, I believed her story that the woman’s rage came from nowhere. I did how­ever, when I realized my mistake, ask for help from the system instead of acting like a savage, and got none. I was sent into the snow Friday night, literally, by the guys that are here to protect and serve.


W. Williams




Dear Editor,

The Real Willits

As a happy Willitian of the past 15 years, I have to take serious umbrage at your scurrilous portrayal of our friendly little burg in your November 27 AVA. “Crankits”? “Skunktow”? “Canada is to California as Willits is to Hell”? Come on, be fair here. One might think Willits was a septic hole of sorts. And I suppose Willits could take some comfort in rating so signifi­cantly high on the AVA sleazo-meter. And we all know your bent for satire. In fact, I read the AVA for your hyperbole and yet, I also much enjoy your paper for its self-anointed role as a bastion of local Mendo truths.

Now as to the real Willits. Please be aware that we support a movie theater, the Noyo. No great shucks, but for any small town, pretty cool.

As a further sign of the civic life and high culture rife within our populace, we also sport the Willits Community Theater which puts on plays year-round, mostly romantic comedies. They're also doing a full-length King Lear this winter. Hah! There's culture. And we have an Art Center next to the old Carnegie Library building that showcases collections year round from high school artists to photographs, and hosts music concerts with international performers. And yes, we do sit at one end of the Skunk Train route, but how many small towns in America can boast a functioning tourist rail? We also now host the annual Steam Punk Festival, which definitely rates if you're anywhere in tune with youth culture.

We also have a hospital, which by the way is about to move into huge new digs, a hospital named after a kind of important former Willitian, who happened to own and race one of the greatest steeds that ever saw the front end of a mile and a quarter. We also host one of the three campuses for Mendocino College, our campus now housed in a new multi-million-dollar building funded by local voters. We also host a branch library, and please note, the activists of Willits were centrally instrumental in helping pass the Save the Library measure. Our precincts came in with a 75-plus-percent yes vote, to make up for a little less literary enthusiasm elsewhere in the county.

We have a gender split on our council, with two pro­gressive, forward-thinking women, Marge Strong and Holly Madrigal. For years we have also been the first stop light on Highway 101 north of San Francisco, the first place where travelers had to slow down, and smell the wonderful, redwood-scented north country air. Of course, that will change with the advent of the bypass. But hey, Willits frankly has enough going for it to survive. And by the way, we also have a bookstore, not something that every small town in our county can brag about.

I'm left with still more to note, the Hometown Cele­brations, the Rodeo, the Truck Pulls, the skate park, the Shakespeare Tent, the weekly vigil for peace and understanding, but I wouldn't wish to strain your patience.

The next time I rumble through the tourist-burg of Booneville [sic], on my way through the hobbit-holes of Philo and Navarro, I'll remind myself that I am so pleased to live in Willits, one of the friendliest, most accessible and culturally-rich towns in the county.

Have a nice day. And next time, do please pick your nose elsewhere. We in Willits have certain manners we abide by.


Steven Hellman





Stop The Slaughterhouse

We need to call out the planners of the Ukiah Val­ley slaughterhouse group on their true, long-range plans… which are, in my opinion, to expand and supply large amounts of meat to the Bay Area after getting approval of a small local operation right here in our Ukiah population center. And they are going to use the so-called “Right To Industry” County ordinance pro­posal to help force it on us.

Right To Industry? What's next, “Right To Retail” so we can't protest Walmart expansion? There is hardly precedence for this type of ordinance anywhere in the country. Why Mendocino County? Why now? This is nothing but a Chamber of Commerce / Employers Council / Realtors / Builders Exchange sucker punch. Rather, as citizens, we need to maintain our own “Right to Democracy” that this would destroy.

Becoming the Harris-Ranch-North-style meat proc­essing center for the Bay Area is not what local citizens will accept. The slaughterhouse long-range plan to grow big is obvious because they want it near the Rus­sian River, with sewer hookups for water and waste management, and close to 101 for shipping to the Bay Area.

Rather, to supply meat to our local, northern Califor­nia region, we need appropriate, decentralized, small-scale, USDA inspected, mobile slaughter... on the ranches themselves. This approach is successful in sev­eral areas of the country.

The argument against mobile units here is that Cali­fornia law does not permit the burying and composting of waste on ranch land as other states' ranchers are able to do.

C'mon, it's not that hard! Gather up Alice Waters, Michael Pollan, and a few chef celebrities and small ranchers, go to Sacramento, and get the law changed!

If a Ukiah Valley slaughterhouse is approved now, ranchers will no longer be incentivized to pursue a small-scale, greener, localized, humane, on-ranch solu­tion.

Kill the Right to Industry Law! Stop The Slaughter­house Now!


Dave Smith

Redwood Valley



Dear Editor,

The very beautifully written homage by Greg Ludwig to yoga, the excellent teachings of Kristen Walker and really to the power of a dedicated yoga practice was a welcome surprise in the November 2nd AVA. Our Yoga community has blossomed much to the credit of my mentor Mary Paffard who first sug­gested that I myself teach. Her birthing of the yoga community in Anderson Valley is a blessing that we have all benefitted from as students and teachers. I only have one little correction to Greg's fabulous article about his healing journey through yoga. At the very end he mentioned my classes at the Grange, and my correct web address is



Melissa Meader





Folks outside Mendopia are suspicious of charities. They do their homework. They stand up. Not people here. We lick boot leather. Yum!

Like that holiest of sacred cows, the Mendocino Art Center. By its charter, a membership organization. Registered with the State of California. With articles of incorporation. Bylaws. And membership voting. But not here. Or that prestigious entity, the Mendocino Coast Hospital Foundation — another membership organization. With two sets of rules. One for the people who elect themselves to run it. And one for everyone else. Keeping two sets of books. Didn’t you know?

Okay. Let’s start with something basic. Like birds. Seabirds. There’s a charity for that too. It’s called Pacific Seabird Group. Run by a guy named Doug Forsell. A retired Fish and Wildlife Service guy. With a working FWS email address. Uh-huh.

Forsell’s charity is delinquent. Kaput. Been that way for years. But there’s another Pacific Seabird Group. And it’s no charity. It’s active too. Who runs it? Doug Forsell does. The Fish and Wildlife Service dude! Like I said. Basic.

Like everyone, Doug wants his piece of the Ameri­can dream. Everything’s in place. FWS creds. A Jekyll-and-Hyde business model. On a spiffy lookin’ website ( All he needs now is a bagman. Someone to handle the money. Someone respectable. Like another birdman. Enter Ron LeValley. He and Doug go way back. And Ron’s GREAT with money. Voila! Ron becomes Forsell’s banker.

Doug and Ron need somebody to squeeze. Someone rich. Like the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. Remember them? They funded a whaling expedition off Fort Bragg back in 2009. Landed a 70-foot blue whale too. A real keeper. But there was a teensy-weensy problem. It seems the Packard Whaling Expedition had taken their trophy out of season. Oops! So it was Doug and Ron to the rescue. For a price.

After dismembering the corpse, LeValley buried it in a secret location. That operation was funded by a second Jekyll-and-Hyde business complex, Mad River Biologists and another delinquent charity, MRB Research. Both run by LeValley. Thanks to Forsell, FWS was none the wiser. In 2010, Packard cut a check for $50 grand and sent it to Doug Forsell’s charity, care of Ron LeValley. But that particular donation never found its way into either of those defunct charities. Poof!

Everything was hunky-dory for a while. Until a her­oin addict named Roland Raymond implicated LeVal­ley in a six-figure embezzlement from the Yurok Tribe. The Yurok didn’t much like Mendopian boot cuisine, so Ron went and got himself arrested. But the boot­licking wasn’t over yet. That’s when Doug and Ron’s PR firm went into high gear. Our award-winning weekly newspaper, the Mendocino Beacon and its pub­lisher, Sharon DiMauro. Instead of running the news of Ron’s arrest, DiMauro ran a public service announce­ment to raise money for him instead. Where? At boot­licking central. Caspar, California.

Caspafarians are invertebrates flush with cash, all of whom seem to disappear every year around harvest time. Everyone around here knows that when you want to spend money, Mendocino’s the place to go. To raise it, just go to Caspar. The Caspafari never ask questions. Never. They always produce cash. And I mean always.

LeValley raised enough money there to hire a law­yer and keep himself out of the local papers. For a while anyway. Until a handful of locals started asking questions. The Mother Lode of answers came from the California State Department of Justice. With something unknown to the Caspafari: The Internet.

When local troublemakers started shooting their mouths off about Forsell and LeValley on the local List Serve, DiMauro sent the Editor of our award-winning weekly newspaper, Kate Lee to the rescue. “Do your homework,” Lee commanded. Some readers did. According to Google, DiMauro somehow missed the front-page news of LeValley’s initial arrest in the dai­lies. But she didn’t miss a thing on the local List Serve.

That’s when the Unclean took it up a notch. Google “ripoff” and “Pacific Seabird Group” when you get a chance. Then try “Mad River Biologists.” And “Men­docino Beacon.” Next “Mendocino Coast Hospital Foundation.” Finally “Mendocino Art Center.” What you’ll find are lots of local news stories that DiMauro missed. All of them are about dead or dying Mendopian charities. About those who profit by killing them. And their bootlicking accomplices.

The Caspafarians are unfazed. Every fundraiser starts with a lecture. Right? Doug Forsell is scheduled to give one there on January 20. That’s the day before LeValley has been ordered to appear in Federal Court on a plea deal over his role in the Yurok Embezzlement Scandal. Forsell’s appearance is hosted by the Mendo­cino Coast Audubon Society. Look for it in the Mendo­cino Beacon.

Gourmet boot leather will be served. Yum!


Brook Smalle

Fort Bragg



To Southwest, American and Alaska Airlines:

Hello Marketing Department:

I would like to express my opinion about the conten­tious issue of allowing passengers to chit-chat on their cellphones while in flight.

I am adamantly opposed, unequivocally opposed, to allowing this.

There was a time when people smoking on board was an issue. Smokers sat in the front half of the plane, the non-smokers in the rear. The fumes of course made their way to the rear seats. Now it is verboten to smoke anywhere on the plane. And I don’t think it has cut into your sales one bit. Right? People just adapted.

Now the issue is cellphones. I, for one, do not relish the experience of being trapped at 30,000 feet with a chatterbox next to me, yakking away for 5,000 miles. It amounts to auditory rape. I cannot escape. I am trapped. And if you vote on the side of those who feel the need to chatter away, then I will no longer fly your airlines. One of the perks has been quiet. If people want to watch their movies, or play computer games, that was fine, and NON-INTRUSIVE. But to be stuck next to a person who chatters away for three or four hours will be intolerable for me and I will no longer use your airlines.

What is wrong with QUIET? We need more of it.

Please let me know what you think and what you intend to do about this issue.


Thanks a lot.

Louise Mariana




Dear Editor,

I want to extend heartfelt thanks to Roger Scom­megna and Family, the Signal Ridge Tasting Room, the Madrones in Philo, and everybody locally and beyond who helped make our fundraiser for Equip Manyatta such a success during Thanksgiving Weekend.

In just three days, we raised enough money to fund the Manyatta Youth Resource Center’s budget for over 2 months. I am headed back to Kenya this week and the money we raised will help our already successful pro­grams carry on.

A truly special thank you goes out to Roger Scom­megna and Kendra McEwen for making this event a reality. What started as a generous thought between friends bloomed into a remarkable all-weekend event. Also a big thank you to Cindy Hollinger, Rose Flani­gan, and my Mom for their help in making the weekend a success.

The incredible success of this event has given me hope that we might be able to host others in the future. If you are interested in partnering in an event or just want to learn more, email For updates, our latest photos, and current information about the project go to and search for Manyatta.

Thank you all so much and I look forward to my return to Anderson Valley next year!


Keevan Labowitz




Letter to the Editor

There were at least three gaffes in my piece in the Nov. 27 AVA, “Autumn 1963.” Jill Abramson is the executive editor of the New York Times, not the man­aging editor. Milton Glaser's last name is spelled with an s not a z. And the restaurant reviews that Glaser and Scientific American's art director Jerome Snyder were writing in the mid-1960s were first published in a paperback book called “The Underground Gourmet” that came out in '66. When New York Magazine was founded in 1968, the two worldly artists wrote a res­taurant review column with the same name.

“The Underground Gourmet” was so popular that in the 1970s Simon & Schuster franchised the concept, bringing out city-by-city editions (“The San Francisco .Underground Gourmet,” etc.)…. Clay Felker, the pub­lisher of New York Magazine, then launched a glossy called “MS,” anointing Gloria Steinem as the leader of the women's liberation movement. Which came as news to the women I was running with at the time… It was Milton Glaser who did that famous poster of Dylan with the colors flowering from his cranium… Jerry Snyder, who'd been the original art director of Sports Illustrated and who lived for his Sunday morning touch football game in Central Park, died of a heart attack at age 60 while going out for a pass.

Can I still trust my memory? “Criticism and self-criticism, comrades,” the old lefties used to say, but of course they only meant the former.


Fred Gardner


PS. He's 68, he has suffered a stroke, but his mind is still light on its feet.




Dear District Attorney Eyster:

Re: Violation of Public Records Act 6253(b) and Government

Your Chief Investigator, Tim Kiely, contacted me this week to inform me you have “a year to file a mis­demeanor case.”

There are a number of reasons I would urge you to move this blatant violation of the Brown Act and Public Records Act / complaint up on the stack of many items needing your attention:

• If a year would pass, the document requested would no longer exist. The public has a right to this document.

• The body of elected officials (board trustees) who took an oath to uphold and abide by the laws they serve under will continue to ignore the sworn oath they vol­untarily took.

• The public has no power when their best interests are not being served by elected officials who violate laws.

• Why have laws when you have elected officials who believe no one will hold them accountable when the laws are violated?

I understand your job is to rectify wrongdoings com­mitted against the public and there are many wrongdoings that you must rectify but I am sure you understand when you have a board who believes they are above the law and can continue to do what they want and not be held accountable wrongdoings con­tinue to escalate.

You have the power to put an end to the myth that when public officials violate laws nothing will be done with just your signature. I am sure your investigators have already performed an excellent job in investigat­ing these blatant violations or they wouldn't have made it to your desk. Am I asking too much that the superin­tendent and the board of trustees be notified you are watching their actions and any violations to the law are taken seriously by the District Attorney of Mendocino County and the public you serve? Am I asking too much for the District Attorney of Mendocino County to inform them they have committed violations to the above laws which is a misdemeanor and will be held accountable for their actions and the laws they swore to uphold?



Suzanne L. Rush






An Epic Tragedy—

To Todd Walton and America at large, I read your col­umn weekly and enjoy it always. I really liked “Inside Moves” which as a non-jock goes to show it isn’t a sports thing so much as an all around human story with as it turns out a very meaningful social context that hap­pens to be basketball. I loaned it to a total jock young friend of mine and told him where he might be able to find you at the Mendo school to shoot some hoops. He loves b-ball. Hope this reissue sells hugely!

However, you really lost me with your “Celebrity Saviors.” The overpaid basketball player who is so overrated and apparently underpaid that he has to parade his gross consumption lifestyle to sell some undoubtedly shitty product and then lie that the sport is the all and everything, is not someone who’s going to sell his idiot million dollar car or forgo all the endorsements of the paymasters who’ve ruined pro sports. People get per­verted by fame and fortune; they don’t come back down except on rare occasions and under duress.

Why all the entrapments of conscious consumption if the game is really everything? This superstar ballplayer couldn’t find any hoops in our wasted country that needed new nets? He couldn’t find any sports programs to support instead of buying some dumbass overpriced stupid car?

The rich and famous are not going to save anyone or anything by wrapping themselves in some cashmere green flag. All this posturing and bragging one-upman­ship is really nauseating.

A “zero emissions” train? Not in this universe. Does this so-called zero emissions train require any of the following to construct: cement, plastic, metal alloys, synthetic textiles, coated wire, etc. etc.? Or to operate? You get the point. There’s no such thing as zero emis­sions. Even bullshit gives off methane!

Tesla cars are for the shallow fools who think rear­ranging the deck chairs on the Titanic will save it. All it does is ease guilt and in the case of the Tesla promote overpriced elitist garbage.

A lifestyle shift being led by the most overpaid self-indulgent people in society? All the drooling fans doing all the right things for all the wrong reasons? That isn’t going to happen any more than Exxon is going to go green.

Sorry Todd. I think your hope is a good thing. I’m just not wired that way.

The rich and famous, the wealthy and powerful, don’t stand a chance of overcoming their handicaps (with rare exceptions). What they do is lie and deceive and build private compounds for the final dark hour. And if they can do a greenwash to stay on their cutting edge all the better.

The celebrity/fan arrangement is a poor excuse for social interaction. The inflated egos and the little flat egos. Super bright stars and millions of gullible dimwits. A major coup for the public relations industry to keep all the fools distracted while the bastard plutocrats disman­tled America and shipped it off to slave labor states and special briefcase banks.

The entertainment culture which includes more actors, musicians, newscasters, and so called star athletes are for the most part nothing but the bought and paid for court jesters bathed in glitter and glamour. Their func­tion is to distract, to derail and to trivialize. And of course to show off all of their rewards. Even their foibles become valuable to the chronically shallow and empty.

The entertainment industry is also highly responsible for the political, financial and social decline of this country. Jesters and magicians entrancing and hypnotiz­ing while the pickpockets run amok.

Throw away your commercial TV connection. Boy­cott Hollywood with its endless reams of schlock. Stop being hoodwinked by the endless parade of mediocre celebrities that pollutes our society at every turn. Pull the plug on the star culture with its unwarranted legitimacy and its manufactured authority. “Everybody is a star.” — Sly Stone.

Enough already. Thanks again Todd for your excel­lent writing. I’m actually giving in finally at 59 to a computer and I am looking forward to stocking up your other published works and your music, especially. Hop­ing to find some encouragement as a musician who only just now is learning piano and notation.


To more rain / in peace,

Marvin Blake


PS. Maybe I’ve missed something. I’d like to be wrong about this rant.




A Poem About Trash

You may think of me with different views — that woman is picking up trash.

Yuck, what’s her problem? Doesn’t she have some­thing better to do?

Nasty and dirty as trash can be, it’s not like I’m eatin’ your shit.

Yet among all of us, I’ll tell you the truth, remember the truth hurts a bit.

Shame on you thoughtless people, even you goody-two shoes!

How much does it take to consider the ways of just cleaning up after yourselves?

Polluting our water, cig butts on the ground — (Field strip, soldier), gum wrappers (aluminum is toxic), alumi­num cans (worth $1.10/pound).

I’ve kept many flat tires, picked up all kinds of screws and nails.

But it never fails.

My next day is just like my last. It’s lazy. This crazy world spinning out of control

Where buyin’ and shoppin’ are number one loves.

Where’s our hearts and our souls?

Consumerism, it isn’t for me.

I find more on the ground, then I look up to see

My beautiful Anderson Valley.

And that ain’t no trash.


Arlene Guest



PS. Recycle, reduce, reuse. Stop buying products that hurt our planet. Buy American (Californian, if possible). Where’s my Great State? Jerry Brown?

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