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Letters (Jan 1, 2014)

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Dear Bruce,

Most AVA detractors reject your journal because they claim you are mean spirited. I always challenge that view and remind them that honest muckrakers aren’t supposed to be in it to make friends or protect a comfy elite. However, while I point out to skeptics that your news coverage and “Off the Record” columns are of great value to our communities, logical consistency is not your strong point. To this effect:

Ukiah City and Mendocino County fiscal decision making. For a year or so while fawning all over County officials for their budgetary actions you’ve been blasting our City Council. Yes, repeatedly claiming our Council is “running up deficits” year in and out, you say we’re “hopelessly out of touch with reality” (10/9/13). Yet while City staff has been reduced during the recession, Ukiah City employees have managed to defend domestic tranquility, provide excellent fire, electric, water, sewer service, maintain our museum and beautiful parks, even to open a new river park — all this while Ukiah retains one of the largest financial reserves among more than 400 cities in our state. This fact you ignore as you repeatedly employ the “deficit” boogieman. The City of Ukiah’s reserve at the end of the current fiscal year will be roughly 25% of its general fund, this at a time when most cities carry less than a 10% reserve. Of course, the City has dipped into its reserve several years running for the sole purpose of limiting recession induced service and staff reductions.

I ask, What else is this reserve (i.e., this rainy day fund) for if not to defend vital services and hard working staff providing that service? Like a libertarian Republican or Tea Party spokesfolk you rip the City of Ukiah for using its rainy day fund judiciously for the community, for supporting non-draconian pay cuts, and for realizing that radical austerity budgets only hurt the local economy. I realize, in retort, you will argue the City is bureaucratically top heavy. I am withholding judgment on that as we await the outcome on Costco and tax sharing. Then too, let’s note that in addition to the Costco effort, top administrative staff have also brought us the refurbished rail station, renovated lap pool at Todd Grove Park, a new Anton stadium, 30 units of low income housing at Clara and Orchard, a 37-acre open space acquisition in Gibson Creek canyon, and funding for our new Russian River Park. Yes, too, they’ve been charged with dismantling our RDA under endless, idiotic mandates from an absurdly costly, red tape infested, bureaucratic expansion of the State Department of Finance (eating up savings the anti RDAers sought in the first place).

Meanwhile you print column inch after inch to applaud austerity by County officials, unable to suppress in every issue your ridicule of the County’s public employees and their union. We’ll come back to this, but you’ve developed an Orwellian view that leftism and fiscal conservatism go hand in hand. Oxymoronish, unless you consider a leftist one who supports anti-worker austerity budgets while championing abortion rights, gay marriage, marijuana; and Edward Snowden.

Ukiah’s Palace Hotel. — In this year’s April 10 AVA you ridicule Mary Ann Landis for being in “full Pollyanna mode” as she made positive statements supporting the restoration efforts of owner Eladia Laines, especially for debris removal. In that piece you conclude “Which seems to overlook the obvious, which to many many people, is that ‘the debris’ includes the entire building.”

But, Bruce, six months later (10/9/13) you tell us that “the Marin realtor has indeed made some headway in the way of interior cleanup, and her overall plan of condos, restaurants, and shops, if realized, would be a boon to central Ukiah and a major aesthetic step forward for Mendocino County. Hands off Eladia!”

Who’s the Pollyanna now?

Steve Scalmanini Appointment. — On July 17, 2013 you wrote that “the city council thinks they are better qualified than the public to decide who should sit with them. They sure don’t want to sit with anyone who will utter a discouraging word about the slo mo dismantling of city services and finances that is currently underway.” Disregarding your illogical points that we “slo mo” degrade city services but “run up deficits for five years in a row” to avoid degrading those services, let’s get back to your slam that “it is predictable that the Council will choose to fill the vacancy by appointment.” Not only was this condescending prediction wrong (we voted 3 to 1 to hold an election) but in the Dec. 25 AVA you simply dismiss that July 17 inaccurate remark about appointment with glowing praise for just such: “in other words, an excellent appointment.” While appointee Scalmanini has never propounded to me his position on the ideological spectrum, we hold (oops), I hold it is impossible to be — as you claim he is — a leftist and a fiscal conservative simultaneously. Can you name one significant local community goal — including your calls for homeless work farms, public service mental health services, and repaved roads — that can be achieved without new spending? Doubt it.

Regardless of your ongoing inconsistencies, Bruce, expect me to re-up when my sub runs out.


Phil Baldwin


PS. My ten best books: Plato’s Republic; A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving; In Dubious Battle, John Steinbeck; Sirens of Titan, Kurt Vonnegut; The Plague, Albert Camus; Less Than Words Can Say, Richard Mitchell; Masters of Rome series, Colleen McCullough; The Cider House Rules, John Irving; Birds Without Wings, Louis de Bernieres; Good Morning Miss Dove, Frances Gray Patton.

Ed. Note: We appreciate the magnanimous sentiment to re-up your subscription despite our perceived faults. And now that you are retired from full time teaching, we admire your fine-toothed combing of back issues for evidence of inconsistency. You take issue with our alleged "fawning all over County officials for their budgetary actions" while "blasting" and "ripping" the City Council for theirs, but you ignore the simple fact that the two organizations have been on radically different trajectories the last few years. Both organizations were hit by the financial collapse, but the County reserve was zero, leaving no choice but to adopt austerity measures, including administrative restructuring and pay cuts to bring expenses in line with revenues.  Meanwhile, the City, with its bountiful reserves, was able to build a dining platform for a private restaurant and pay a consultant to come up with a silly slogan. You don't have to read the AVA to find criticism of these, and numerous other City fiscal decisions. We appreciate that you are withholding judgment on the issue of the City being bureaucratically top heavy, but what does Costco have to do with it? Are you saying the extra administrators (perhaps the assistant to the Assistant City Manager) somehow landed Costco? Or are you saying once the Costco sales tax revenue starts rolling in it won't matter? Your remark that it is impossible to simultaneously be a leftist and a fiscal conservative staggers the imagination and kind of sounds like a true leftist must support paying for the bloated administrative staff or risk being charged with the crime of anti-worker austerity.)

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If you are a PG&E customer, your most recent bill probably has a few of those thin white corporate valentines they often include. This month we got two: the EMF one, reminding us that using a blow dryer is akin to suicide; and a second circular about "Rate Reform."

Take a close look at that second one. It's a double reverse Robin Hood proposal: that is, take from the frugal, give to the profligate and take from the poor, give to the rich. PG&E wants to lower the cost of electricity to those who consume large amounts of power and raise the price on those who use little. But they don't stop there, the meaner part of this proposal is aimed at low-income customers who participate in the CARE (California Alternate Rates for Energy) program. PG&E wants to jack up the price of their electricity, substantially, regardless of use.

This "Rate Reform" is wrongheaded on all counts, penalizing customers who conserve energy and can least afford it, while rewarding those who least deserve it. We should be doing just the opposite, encouraging people to use less electricity in their daily lives, not more. Oppose this proposal. Oppose!

Mike Kalantarian


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Cut the CIA. …and people wonder why the world hates us? One reason, and a solid one, is the CIA! Check it: 1. Bay of Pigs. Began under Eisenhower and the CIA; quashed by JFK. 2. Ditto Vietnam. Began under Eisenhower and the CIA, JFK had plans to stop it when he was killed. Hmmm — who killed JFK? 3. Drones in Pakistan. Thoroughly pissing off our friends in the nuclear state. 4. Drone in Ecuador to take out Colombian rebel leader driven out of Colombia. Riling Ecuador no end. Why oh why don’t they like us, Daddy? Mystery to the son. Hand me that glock, will you?

Peace on earth, The Geezer


PS. Don’t forget the crap they’re doing in Venezuela as well.

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Here is to a special New Year. It would be nice to think we all could walk through a worm hole into a place were representatives represent us instead of anyone with money, war is history (how many centuries of idiocy do we need to figure this out,) food is safe and the Major does not have to wear the tin hat I loaned him. Somehow I think that Worm hole requires the involvement of everyone in a real grass root movement. We have the potential with the internet to do radical things, but we all have to be involved. So in 2014 look about and see the truth, find your voice which is stronger than you think and demand no less than a world that respects all living things. Look for the truth amongst friends and in alternative media that is not purchased.

For me one small chunk is the growing Grange movement, once the populist movement, where everyman and woman made a difference. I am hoping you readers will come and be part of that too. This year the AV Solar Grange will advertise its Convention resolution month to allow those with viable concerns to share them at the local Grange so we can take them to the Grange convention. You don't have to be a Granger to share your ideas.

The Grange has always been about community and the strengthened voice of all; demanding appropriate change. If you think that voice is not so strong then look around at the rural electricity and phones we take for granted that came from Grange leverage. A bigger voice then you imagined.

A New Years toast to you all!

Greg Krouse


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A headline on the front page of the Dec. 22 Chronicle declared, “It was our dump.” Dumps are places where human refuse ends up. Pure garbage. Where we send the things we don't want to think about, the material we deem useless and offensive.

For half a century Candlestick Park has been a place of longing. Where people looked forward going to. “I got tickets. Candlestick. Giants-Dodgers.” It might have well been heaven.

Never did more pure joy emanate from a place than it did the moment and minutes after Dwight Clark made “The Catch.” And Clark himself calls it a dump. I'm shaking my head here writing this and I wonder if anybody has any heart anymore. Candlestick Park, whether cold and windy, was a destination of pure joy. And joy was what this park was really all about.

It is not, and never was a dump. The fans who went there and the players who played there are not garbage. Real fans join me in staring down the dynamiters. Let's save the beauty and joy of Candlestick Park.

Charles Birimisa


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Dearest Judge, I don't know what it is that keeps on occurring, but I'm getting tired of the courts just dismissing my case when it's time to go to trial. Frankly I'm tired of you guys playing games with my time here on earth just because I'm on parole. The police (in general) are just jealous of my carefree lifestyle and get upset when I don't want to be friends. But jail? If it's like that — I'm tired of going in and out. You might as well cash me out on a terminal sentence that exceeds my parole expiration date because I'm tired, sick and tired, of being messed with. You all need best friends and I'm not the one. Merry Christmas and see you in trial — or you could do us all a favor and, well, do yourself a favor. Amen. These police are something else down here. One second I'm walking down the road, the next I'm resisting arrest. They are all just jealous pigs who need a best friend and I'm not the one so they get their feelings hurt because of it. They just need to let go of the money (love of) and start to pray just to Jesus. Then maybe they will find a friend in themselves. I don't know why I'm in jail. But I sure do feel singled out. And no, I will never be friends with police. You have no idea what they are capable of or what they have put me through in my lifetime. I like to see the good side (or try to), but they have another side that society doesn't like to recognize. I didn't break the law! You can dismiss this nonsense at your earliest convenience -- hopefully not the day before trial. So, the system repeatedly puts me in jail for petty reasons. Then these public officials wonder if I need treatment or medication. [Bleep] no. You pigs need to get a life and quit bothering me. Your lives are so boring and unfulfilled that your days are structured by driving around arresting people for resisting arrest. Do you think you have sold my ass to the government quota enough times this year? I'm just curious as to how many days they are going to take from me this year. Hopefully they don't take very many. I have an idea. I'll just give them a reason so they don't have make some [bleep] up. [Bleep] going to court and playing their little game. That's exactly what I won't do. Let me off parole so I can go home! This is one [bleep]ed up community. They would rather sell a [bleep bleep] out (thanks) rather than help them just a little. No, you don't qualify for that position. You are not an uppity enough Negro. Okay, whatever you say. They just try to pull that okey-doke move. Pulleez -- because I wouldn't work for those punks anyway. I like their tactics though -- they are pathetic. They couldn't pay me that [bleep] bit of chump change to do those jobs and live like a lamb in one million years. They are mad because their lives are pathetic. Now they are just looking for reasons to say mine is out of control and all of that smutted jazz. Seems like they are willing to do anything to keep me off the streets nowadays. Good luck.

Robert Campbell


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Editor and Fellow AVAers,

The new year is another cog in the wheel.

Fog with blue behind it this afternoon. “Fields have eyes and woods have years.” Every honest grower has a golden thumb. “Walls have ears,” “Make a virtue of necessity.” “Haste makes waste.” In our ash lives fire. “To see is to be seen.” “If you hold a long spoon you shall eat with the devil.” A proper study of mankind is man. “All the glitters is not gold.” E duobus malis minimum eligendum (of two evils, the least should be chosen.” The fat is in the fire. “Look before you leap.” “Fast bind, fast find; a proverb never stale in a tricky mind. “Matches are made in heaven.” Strike. Lucky. Attention. When I was a little girl with little blond curls I thought, “When I grow up there won't be war anymore.” Life is best as a child. Turn the trees to timber. The price of lumber is drought mixed with wind. Cut the trees and feel the breeze. Save the trees and plant more, please. Trees are the air we breathe. From 1900 until 2000 America cut 9/10 of its forest for suburbia. Civilization is concrete and asphalt. “They paved paradise, put up a parking lot. Don't it always seem to go you don't know what you've got till it's gone — they cut all the trees, put them in a tree museum; charge all the people a dollar and a half just to see them.” Shall we live in stone? Is an apartment building a home? The whale is an indication, as is the TV and the toilet.

Diana Vance

in Mendocino dances through Christmas.

Dancing in the rain, what's that?

Mom and dad side by side

at Arlington National Cemetery.

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I write to you from inside Mendocino County Jail. I work on the garden crew here as an inmate. The small garden supplements the kitchen with vegetables year-round. Most of the produce the kitchen uses for inmate meals comes in can form as a product of other nations. These nations include Mexico, Canada, Thailand, China, Spain and Vietnam. All the canned fruits and vegetables could be grown here in Mendocino County except for the pineapples. If the jail can't buy from local farms, they should at least buy from within California.

Export oriented monocultural production of food products creates vast growth in long-distance trade. This takes away from local small-scale food production as well as large-scale food production in our state. Also, long-distance trade from other industrial nations has greatly increased the fossil fuels used for transport. This impacts climate change.

If the jail were to expand the small garden to an off-site location with more acreage it would be possible to grow all the fruit and vegetables necessary for inmate meals. This expanded jail farm/orchard would enable more inmates to work and learn about farming techniques. Inevitably, the farm would produce an excess amount that could be donated or sold to refund the project.

If an off-site farm is not a feasible idea, the jail should at least buy produce from local farms and in California.

Joseph Agrillo

Mendocino County Jail, Ukiah

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As a mental health client in this community for several years I am almost fearful to attack what's left of the mental health services for adults here in Mendocino County since the transition on July 1, 2013. However, I'm equally concerned about the status quo.

I recently went to Ortner Management Group's walk-in center and was redirected to Manzanita Services almost immediately. A staff member at OMG who answered the doorbells to a locked door was unfriendly and unhelpful. When questioned about whether she would help me, she apologized and said they were in transition. This transition is getting to be a tired excuse for a lack of professional, humane services. Then another staff member came to take the place of the hostess. This person assured me that my problem getting a treatment authorization through MediCal and OMG to receive ongoing psychotherapy would be addressed immediately. I was instructed to stop worrying and stop crying. This person told me that I would be the recipient of follow-up within two days and the issue would be resolved. That was over a week ago and neither I nor my therapist have heard from them.

I journeyed to Manzanita Services, as agreed, where I waited over an hour to speak with somebody. The person I spoke with was very kind and understanding yet had no authority to help me obtain a treatment authorization for therapy.

The letter which my therapist and I received from OMG stated that they were committed to serving underserved mental health clients, yet on the same page cautioned practitioners to focus on short-term, crisis related therapy. The professionals in the field of psychology dedicated enough to serve the low income MediCal clients such as myself have had all the rules and procedures changed by OMG on MediCal billing but have received no extra time or training to accompany this transition. My therapist still doesn't know if they will be given a contract through OMG. In short, I may be losing the only support person I have left who helps me function. Since no client files were passed on to OMG or Manzanita Services, I could soon be in a position of starting from scratch or falling through the cracks.

H. McKee


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The Medical Marijuana Patients Union has been picking up other people's garbage on California highways for 10+ years. We presently have two sites, one on 128 from Philo to the outskirts of Boonville & the second on Highway 101 north of Cloverdale at the Sonoma/Mendo County line. SF lawyer David Nick was once driving to Ukiah for a marijuana case when he noticed the Medical Marijuana Patients Union sign at the county line for the first time and declared something like, “Holy shit, that's the first permanent sign in the country with the word marijuana on it.” He turned around, went back to Cloverdale some eight miles out of his way in order to get a photo of the special sign. David asked me, “How can I get one of those?” My answer: “Pick up litter!” To let you know — those of you who may be uninformed — we are not slackers; we are people engaged in our community & the world who use cannabis for our medical needs. We appreciate the rights and protections we gained from the voters 17 years ago. And we made a pact with them that we would always give back. Picking up miles of litter that is trashing California is the Medical Marijuana Patients Union's way of thanking the voters for their confidence & understanding that history had it wrong by making patients criminals. To combat any slacker tendencies, we have adopted a standard that our litter pick-up days are on holidays, whether it be Easter, Father's Day, Halloween or Xmas, we were there, doing that. It is a form of mild discipline, creating a structure to instill a custom over time.

Pebbles Trippet


PS. Pictured at the sign on Highway 128 west of Philo: (l to r) Pebbles, Terry, Nona, Chris.


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