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Letters (May 14, 2014)

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My name is Wendy Read and I am the one who organized the community meeting last Wednesday to address the use of the nocturnal frost monsters now employed by some of the grape growers in Anderson Valley. If you live near one, you know what I mean. If you don’t, it’s difficult to impress upon you the devastating noise and vibration that roars through my home and dozens of others when these monsters are active in the wee hours of the night.

It is well documented that the loss of sleep causes a myriad of both physical and mental health problems, both for individuals and the valley as a whole. In fact, enforced lack of sleep is literally torture. I am a healer with a family practice here, and I have over a dozen clients, challenged by cancer, suffering from Lyme Disease, bouncing back and forth from anxiety attacks to severe bouts of depression that are in danger from these frost monsters. Uninterrupted sleep is essential for their survival.

Comments heard from vineyard owners/managers at the community meeting:

“You do not have the right to expect a good night’s sleep in your home.”

“What? Do you expect me to give up my income for your night’s sleep?”

“My sons (two under ten toeheads dragged to the meeting that night) get straight As in school, therefore the wind machines cannot be a problem.”

“I’m going to give a donation to the health center.”

Not one grower admitted there was a problem, let alone offered to correct the problem, even though one after the other, residents found the courage to stand up to the macho crew of them and state their difficulties. Some were raging mad, others near tears as they described the effects of these “helicopters” hovering over their homes for hours all night and many nights in a row.

Society has known for eons that one party keeping another party up all night is a social hazard and that is why we have public nuisance laws.

Definition of a Public Nuisance: “Anything which is injurious to health, indecent or offensive to the senses, or an obstruction to the free use of property, so as to interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property. A public nuisance is one which affects at the same time an entire community or neighborhood, or any considerable number of persons, although the extent of the annoyance or damage inflicted upon individuals may be unequal.”

There are clearly better solutions as most grape growers in the valley are not using this 1950s technology and would never insult their neighbors to such a degree.

How to SHUT THEM DOWN! Here are some options for action:

1. Call 911 — and report a public nuisance when the fans are running. They will take your number and a deputy will call you back within about half an hour (hey, you’re up anyway!) and take the complaint. (Although one misinformed deputy told me “ if I send someone out there to tell them to shut these things down, they will just claim they have the “right to farm.” I had to inform him that these are not covered under the California State Right to Farm Ordinance because that only applies to agricultural activity that “has been in operation more than three years if it was not a nuisance at the time it began.”

2. Fill out and fax or mail in the General Nuisance Complaint Form found on the County’s website under the Planning Department

860 North Bush Street, Ukiah, CA 95482 Fax: (707) 463-5709

3. Join those of us working on direct action. We have a physical direct action group (petitions, picketing, legal challenges, etc.) and a cyber direct action group and want to hear your ideas. We will meet again on Wed the 21st. Email me for time and venue if you want to come.

These monsters are demonstrably illegal, immoral and a cruel example of the vineyard industry’s disrespect for valley residents. Help protect your neighbors who are too ill or elderly to defend themselves. Let’s protect “real farmers” right to grow local food and medicine. They cannot work dawn to dusk daily without sleeping at night.

Wendy Read


PS. May 11th, 3:30am — It’s Mother’s Day for Christ’s sakes — and yet those monsters rage on!

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The Third District Supervisors candidate forum at the Willits Little Lake Grange last Wednesday evening sponsored by AAUW (American Association of University Women) and others was a Jolly Holly affair.

The standing room only crowd witnessed the standard prescreened question-and-answer session that was polite and informative, but hardly inspired.

As expected my submittal was deep-sixed because it would be embarrassing to AAUW-anointed candidate Holly Madrigal who works for the biggest pot grow supplier in Northern California — Spare Time Supply.

My question was: "The use of rodenticide in pot gardens has become a controversial issue in Humboldt County since the poison bioaccumulates and kills non-targeted wildlife including endangered spotted owl and Pacific fisher. The Humboldt County supervisors voted unanimously to encourage local pot grow suppliers to voluntarily stop selling the poison. As supervisor, would you support a similar resolution in Mendocino County? Would you support an ordinance completely banning the sale of rodenticide countywide?”

To his credit, Tom Woodhouse, answering another question, strongly criticized the environmental and cultural atrocities committed by the pot industry and pledged to do something about it when elected. I think he will honor that pledge.

All the candidates had interesting and informative things to say, but talk is cheap. Jolly Holly’s shameless pandering was embarrassing — as she chirped her endorsements from Democratic Party bigwigs and talked about her interviews on NPR and testimony in Sacramento during the "water crisis."

To me Woodhouse is the best candidate because he is an independent, thoughtful listener and committed to working with people to develop creative solutions to complex problems. I know it sounds woo-woo, but I think he'll do just that when elected. Also, he's not a career politician and won't be a rubberstamp for county CEO Carmel Angelo's agenda.

I've known Tom for nearly 40 years, worked on his house, and spent many, many, many grueling hours with him hauling, sorting and boxing books for the Willits Friends of the Library annual book sale.

He's a humble "can do" kind of guy who will cut through the crap to get things done.

While all the other candidates talked about various programs and services, Tom — like Pinches — said, "There is no money, county revenue has flattened."

Jolly Holly, on the other hand, was bubbly optimistic that a golden age is upon us and pot will "soon" be legalized and taxed and "happy days are here again" blah blah blah. She also thinks the environmental, cultural atrocites will stop after pot legalization.

Fat chance! There will be more pot grown and even more pot atrocities. The "legal" wine industry is hardly benign.

Departing from the forum in a positive mood, my reverie was shaken by the sinking feeling that the candidates were politely waving to each other as they circle the drain in the vast swirling cesspool of reality.


Don Morris


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Kate Lee & Company — aka Mendocino Beacon and Fort Bragg Advocate — are at it again. Feeding at the public trough. An editorial in her faux Chamber of Commerce Newsletter was visibly miffed at the low turnout of a recent public meeting to save our bankrupt hospital. The event was supposedly titled ‘New Directions in Healthcare’ sponsored by Mendocino Coast District Hospital. I’d never heard of any such meeting. So I Googled it. Guess what? It never happened. No surprise. Kate Lee’s paymasters tried sneaking a ‘public meeting’ through on two days notice back in January. But word got out on the local List Serve, so the house was packed. With opinions the Chamber of Commerce didn’t want to hear. Solidarity! You’d never see that in Kate Lee’s fish wrap. Instead, you’ll hear a nonstop PR campaign for another parcel tax initiative. Paid for by local taxpayers. Complete with fake public meetings. Administered by the Mendocino Coast Chamber of Commerce. In complete darkness. Courtesy of Kate Lee. Another surprise is a so-called survey for that initiative. The results have already been decided. The outcome will appear on November’s ballot. Pumped up six figures in advertising dollars from you and me. Once again, the local hospital will be on the pass line. With your money. Thanks to Kate Lee. People on the Mendocino Coast got by without a hospital district for more than a century. Air ambulance memberships from Reach and CalStar are more affordable than ever at about $40 a year. Now the best health care on earth is only thirty minutes away. You won’t see that in Kate Lee’s pork barrel newsletters. According to the Mendocino County Clerk, Katherine Elizabet Lee arrived in Mendocino County in the year of our Lord, nineteen hundred and eighty-four. Not registered as a Democrat or a Republican, but as something else. Right. Within 15 years, she was running all the local newspapers. Check. As the once robust public forum went silent, the local Chamber of Commerce boomed. I’m not suggesting a connection here. But it’s curious how the upsurge in Kate Lee’s career path coincides with a decline in Mendocino’s public forum. Cause and effect. Uh-huh. Oddly enough, Kate Lee’s arrival matches precisely with the granddaddy of all pork barrels, the Mendocino Coast Hospital Foundation. A membership organization to support the local hospital? Or the local Chamber of Commerce? Think Winesong! I’ll drink to that!


Scott M. Peterson


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Open Letter to the Board of Supervisors*

Prosecute Caltrans Under The Rico Act For Internal Corruption.

Four of the five members of the Board of Supervisors, or to more correct, Lessorvisors, voted to permit Caltrans to destroy the wetlands north of Willits for a gargantuan freeway bypass with no Highway 20 on/off ramps. Instead of a scaled down plan or better yet the Railroad Avenue development, Caltrans chooses to fill in an important segment of the Pacific Flyway, a stopover for migratory song birds, some of whom fly as far as Central America and even South America. So far, Caltrans has clearcut the Black Oak and Oregon Ash woodlands which provided shelter and summer nesting for yellow warblers, red-tailed hawks, and many other wild birds. The primary reason for the disappearance of our featherd friends if habitat destruction. Habitat destruction: Caltrans is demonstrating its expertise, with this wanton wildlife murder. You four supervisors, lessorvisors, who voted for the wicked money business of Caltrans, have any of you three read the excellent series of articles by reporter Will Parrish, published in the Anderson Valley Advertiser documenting the multiple lied, fraud, and deceit Caltrans has practiced to attain its goal - a megaconstruction for private cars and trucks which will become increasingly expensive to operate, when what we need to create is a local economy, public transportation, and safe, off-road bicycle trails. Have you, John McCowen, Dan Gjerde, John Pinches, Carre Brown, done your homework? Have you viewed the excellent video by Julia Dakin documenting Caltrans falsified traffic statistics? Have you bothered to research the issues? IF not, you four are intellectually lazy, unworthy of your position. If you have done your homework and still vote to permit Caltrans to continue its destructive swath, then you are as corrupt as Caltrans is. Do you three comprehend the probably consequences of filling in this march and northern Willits water table, headwater of the last remaining Coho Salmon stream in California during the most server drought in California recorded history, while climate scientists predict more drought years ahead? How can you four be so stupid? Only Dan Hamburg voted to stop this war on wildlife, war on sanity, war on honesty and clear-headed decision making. Kudos to Will Parrish, Lucy Neely, Amanda Senseman, Ellen Drell, Sara Grusky, the brave tree sitters, the young people who locked themselves at a stoplight to the frameworks of the big rigs loaded with tainted mill soil to slow down the Caltrans operation — strange that no police ever ticketed the giant trucks which sped thru Willits at 50mph and more. Is this the new police state? Now that you have acquiesced to the clearcutting of the oak and ash woodlands of the Willits section of the Pacific Flyways, nesting and rest stop for the migratory birds, water source for once abundant fisheries, former tule elk habitat, then you can dine on your money. Shame on you four — John McCowen, Dan Gjerde, John Pinches, Carre Brown.

Shame on your obeisance to corruption.


Dorotheya M. Dorman

Redwood Valley

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It seems we are doing something right. In our 12th year on the Adopt-A-Highway litter pick-up program, the Medical Marijuana Patients Union team went out on Easter to do our duty for the larger community. We like to put in time on holidays: Mother's Day, New Year's, Christmas, Veterans Day, Hallowe'en, we've been there, done that since 2002.

It was announced for Cal-Trans at the national convention that we are the first Adopt-A-Highway sponsor in the country with the word marijuana on our highway sign. That was when we covered the town of Elk on Highway One.

But our sign was repeatedly stolen, probably by pro-pot pranksters who put it on their wall for show and tell at our expense. After replacing it four times — CalTrans & the Patients Union split the difference — it was becoming too much trouble for the expense. So we decided to move to 128 in Anderson Valley which is more up our alley.

On Easter morning, we branched out from Philo on 128 going east and ended at the AV Grange. One of our workers found a great groundscore — a giant yellow diamond-shaped sign of a fire truck in the gutter, dug it out and brought it back to Philo, where I was tying up our seven bags of trash.

We asked the Philo Store folks if we should leave the sign with the trash.

They said, "No, it will only get stolen. Leave it with us. We'll get it to the fire department."

Perfect. We placed the fire truck sign against the building outside the store and up pulls a limo. The driver waves and yells. “That's the fire department's sign. Thanks for bringing it back.”

I called the Anderson Valley Fire Dept. to follow thru, making sure it got home safe. I explained to the woman who answered the phone that we'd found the Fire Truck sign mounted on a wooden stick that had broken and fallen, and that the Philo Store was holding onto it for safe keeping.

She verified that she knows some Fire Department people who also drive a limo for the winery, so that may have been one of those drivers.

She asked my name. I told her Pebbles Trippet.

“Oh, yes, I read your column in the AVA. My husband, Turkey Vulture, writes for them.”

Here's a good example of how the AVA gets around. It's what her family and I immediately had in common — Turkey Vulture and Pebbles, it's almost absurd.

The thing that appeals to me about this litter pick up thing is our good neighbor message: We are all one community and we are meant to take care of it together.

Pebbles Trippet


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Dear Editor,

You've managed to make yourself look like a numbskull, crude taskmaster and old school censor all wrapped into one. You ridiculed the Medical Marijuana Patients Union litter pickup (although you've told me yourself you support it) by calling Chris Diaz pious, based on a joke the photographer made by referring to the Rev, the Rabbi, and me with no title. Instead of printing my article with facts the community would like to know, you censored it out and replaced it with the photo of four of us at the MMPU sign, belittling us as though we'd done something wrong.

If you don't print my litter pickup letter, I'll take it to the MCN ListServe, like last time, and make people aware that you're still a mean old coot who'll do anything for a put-down. Does it even matter that you hurt good people?

Please print the letter but delete the PS. You were hoping to lure me in with my original mistake about changes in the paper. But I caught my error so that took away what you were hoping to ridicule me for and went for the pious Rev thing instead. Who looks pious?

Pebbles Trippet


ED NOTE: We didn't print the gd letter because we didn't get the gd letter, Pebs, only the photo. The medical marijuana patient's union is innately funny, in my opinion, and a bunch of stoners calling themselves reverends and rabbis is also amusing. I think all of you take yourselves wayyyyyy to seriously. The listserve is a good place for you.

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Ranochak Wrong re Duties of County Recorder.

The current Mendocino County Recorder, Susan Ranochak, appears to be incorrect in her interpretation of the law concerning the duty of the Recorder to protect the public and the public records."If the recorder is presented with a document and it's recordable under California law ... she's presented with the fee, she's presented with documented transfer tax, she's got very little authority to reject that document," Ranochak said. "In addition, the recorder shall not determine the legality of a document. There is no authority to require an affidavit of identity in California." — Ukiah Daily Journal, May 8, 2014, reporting on the candidates’ forum of May 6. Ms. Ranochak is relying on California Government Code section 27201(a), which states that “The county recorder shall not refuse to record any instrument, paper, or notice … on the basis of its lack of legal sufficiency.”

But she is ignoring the very next paragraph of the Code, section 27201(b), which states that “Each instrument, paper, or notice shall contain an original signature or signatures, except as otherwise provided by law, or be a certified copy of the original.”

The signing requirements are detailed in sections 27280-296 of the Government Code. In 1984, the California Attorney General issued an opinion stating that section 27201(a) “has not obviated [nullified] the need for a document to comply with the requirements of Government Code sections 27280-27296.”

The opinion distinguished between the substantive legality and the procedural legality of a document.

It is the recorder’s duty to make sure that all procedural safeguards are followed before recording a document. For example, section 27287 describes the requirement for an acknowledged (notarized) signature: “[B]efore an instrument can be recorded its execution shall be acknowledged by the person executing it, or if executed by a corporation, by its president or secretary or other person executing it on behalf of the corporation.” As most folks know, the problem with many foreclosures has been the “robo-signing” of documents by those not authorized to do so, and the lack of authentication of signatures.

It is the duty of the County Recorder to protect both individuals and our system of government and economics by requiring that banks and other mortgage holders comply with the legal requirements of signing and recording. The highest court in California has agreed since the days the state was founded: “County Recorder should refuse to receive for record improper and defective acknowledgement.” —Fogarty v. Findley, 1 Labatt 1 (1857) This principle was confirmed a century later: “Acknowledgement certified by notary is prerequisite to recordation of underlying instrument.” — Kirsch v. Barnes, 153 F Supp 260 (DC Cal, 1957) These are the very abuses that have highlighted the wave of foreclosures that hit homeowners and their families since the financial crisis hit. Requiring banks and others to follow the law will provide the protection and the time that are necessary for many homeowners to deal with the underlying “legal insufficiencies” and save their homes. A County Recorder who chooses to actively enforce the law concerning foreclosures, rather than just doing the minimum, would not only be fulfilling her sworn duties, she would be protecting those whom she is dedicated to serve.

Dennis O'Brien


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By now people all over the state have received their firefighting bill for $117. As I recall our so truthful Governor Jerry Brown said when he was running for his present office “No new taxes without a vote of the people to pass them. So now it’s fees, assessments, surcharges and I am sure they will think of other terms like they use to circumvent the laws on the books.

Now they are calling a traffic violation “bail” instead of a fine, only they forgot to tell the dictionary people of the new meaning of fines and bail.

There is a constant increase of whatever they want to call them. But it’s more taxes from federal, state or local government, but never a tax reduction.

Mr. Kirk Wilder says this is an elective board giving the impression that this board has been elected to their position which is not the truth. Our community Services District’s last election was in 1995 which I think is the time I was recalled for opposing the benefit assessment that was passed just over 50% and I might add was illegal. The Howard Jarvis law says any tax that is for a special anything has to pass by 2/3 and an election in Rohnert Park was overthrown because it passed with less than 2/3. Why didn’t I fight this? Because I would not resign. But I was tickled pink to get off the board while I was fighting against the Benefit Assessment. I had all kind of people say, Go to it, Emil; we’re behind you. The only trouble was they were way behind with not even a murmur at meetings or anyplace. People feel ashamed to be against any government project even if they don’t believe in it which is a very sad thing. It’s intimidation and is leading us on our way to complete socialism.

Since 1995 we have had a great growth in the Grape business which is a good thing for the economy it has produced for the valley. We would be a very depressed economy without the Grape business as the logging business and the farm business are a fraction of what they were. With this great growth in the Grape business, property values have multiplied immensely with our CSD receiving scads of money and they have spent it just as fast. If a government really needs more stuff or real estate, fine. But to just add because they have extra money is dumb.

When we build any big department it has to be maintained and something sooner or later will reduce that revenue. As an example if it is found out that the benefit assessment was illegal and the money has to be returned or something happens to the Grape business or other loss of revenue. Meanwhile we have built a big bureaucracy which has to be at least maintained. Of course no one is ever held accountable in government.

Emil Rossi


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Thank you Wendy Read for organizing last week’s meeting and for your letter this morning. How appalling it is to read such statements from Anderson Valley vintners:

“You do not have the right to expect a good night’s sleep in your home.”

“What? Do you expect me to give up my income for your night’s sleep?”

And the stupid comment about how, because their two kiddies are getting straight A’s; therefore it follows the wind machines are no problem.

And the lame donation of money to the heath center? that’s supposed to make us feel better? Unbelievable!

Imagine the level of inhumanity that a person would have to sink to to even think, let alone declare publicly such statements that clearly reflect a TOTAL disregard for the rights of their own neighbors. Obviously AV vintners think they can do whatever they want, screw everyone else.

For those few of you out there that can still afford an occasional bottle of (overpriced) AV wine, boycott it all!

Elaine Kalantarian


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Mary Aigner's dismissal of Norman de Vall, from his usual hosting of the candidates forum series at KZYX, if substantiated, is appalling — absolutely appalling. Mr. de Vall is our friend. Moreover, he is a former, highly respected, member of the Mendocino County Board of Supervisor. And, he is a KZYX radio show host emeritus, having hosted the station's most popular public affairs show for many years. His dismissal, if substantiated, is appalling, especially at a time when the station is trying to heal, and trying to build bridges back to the five people who filed an objection to the renewal of the station's FCC licenses, trying to build bridges back to the 105 members, programmers, and listeners who are the “KZYX Members for Change.” To replace a trusted household name, like Norman De Vall, with Michael Kisslinger or some other newcomer to the station, is a bad decision. To tell Mr. de Vall that anybody who is publicly critical of the station can expect their programmer privileges to be revoked — or words to that effect — as Ms. Aigner is alleged to have told Mr. de Vall, is grounds for Ms. Aigner's immediate termination.I hope Mary Aigner didn't say this to Mr. de Vall. Truly. Then there's the separate issue with David Steffen, KZYX's presumed "business development manager.” Steffen's niggly-piggly treatment of me, including threats at throwing me off the air, constitutes harassment of a member of staff toward a volunteer. It is equally appalling. And I will be filing a grievance. (If anyone wants to see Steffen's reprimand, let me know.) Steffen's threat was based on the accusation that I didn't read station ID, an FCC requirement, at the start of my last show. Steffen's claim was totally false, of course. He has since acknowledged his mistake.But Steffen isn't one to eat crow for long. In his rather windy and gassy reprimand, Steffen threatened to throw me off the air by further saying I didn't read the underwriting during my last show at the top of the hour. True, I didn't read the underwriting at the top of the hour. But I did read it at the half hour — every word of it.Why wait? Because my first guest was the director of the American Friends Service Committee, and he made it crystal clear to me before the show that he could only do the show if we did quick interview. He had very limited time. A scheduling conflict. The subject of the show was the new defense pact that Obama signed with the current Benigno Aquino government — something that almost certainly will inflame relations with China for both the U.S. and the Philippines. I waited until my first guest signed off to respectfully introduce my second and third guests — the two women who are the chair and vice chair respectively of the indigenous group of native Filipinos, many of them women, known as Banyan-Asia —and it was only then that I read the underwriting. The time was thirty-three minutes into my program.And that was that. So now, I guess I'm left with the larger question: Why isn't Steffen out there finding new underwriters — his real job — instead of listening to hour-long programs from the archives? Why is he there sitting in his office, maybe donut and coffee in hand, instead of out there in the county beating the bushes for new business? Factoid: Our underwriting revenues have fallen off in each of the last few years. For the record, before these last two dust-ups, I had recently spoken with KZYX General Manager, John Coate, on several occasions. I felt we had sincere, heart-to-heart talks. I told John Coate that my only motivation in filing my FCC complaint was that I wanted to fix what's wrong with the station. I wanted to fix the station, not destroy it. I wanted public radio back. KZYX is public radio, not the private clubhouse it often seems to be. I offered to write letters to the local newspapers urging listeners to support KZYX during Spring Pledge Drive. I offered to withdraw or modify my FCC complaint. I thought John Coate and I were in a good place. I thought the Board and I were in a good place. I thought my fellow brother and sister programmers — many of whom felt I betrayed the station by filing an FCC complant — and I were in a good place. Now this! The shabby treatment of Norman de Vall. And Steffen's niggly-piggly harassment of me. Why? Why now? As relationships were healing at KZYX? Why now? As KZYX is panhandling for loose change during Spring Pledge Drive?

John Sakowicz


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Dear Anderson Valley Community,

I am overwhelmed by the generosity of the community where we live.

I have now made over my goal to raise at least $1800 for Avon Breast Cancer Walk.

Just a footnote: Over three-fourths of this came from right here in AV and neighboring areas.

I look forward to to joining the walk in San Francisco July 12th and July 13th.

Thank you to all who donated and wish me well as I “practice” walking.


Lee (Leola) Montana, Participant #452302


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The Anderson Valley Health Center has once again been selected by the Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association to organize and be the beneficiary of the Silent Auction which is held during the Pinot Festival Grand Tasting.  This is a very important fundraiser for the AVHC and provides for a large part of our annual donated income.  For the past several years we have typically raised between $25,000 and $30,000 and have received over $100,000 in total.

Again this year we have received very generous donations from local artists, wineries and businesses.  We have also received many donations from outside of the valley.  We look forward to another successful event on May 17.

Ric Bonner

AV Health Center Board of Directors


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