Press "Enter" to skip to content

Letters (Sep 10, 2014)

* * *


Dear Editor,

The fund-raising for the STEM program has reached and exceeded its goal of $32,000. There are now $31,750 in a separate School District account which will be paid to Sonoma State University in due course in consideration for ten additional lab stations with related equipment for the STEM program at Anderson Valley High School. There is also an amount, still growing, in the separate account for the High School principal’s discretionary fund which will continue to grow as several donations, promised but not yet received, come in during the next two to three weeks.

As of this writing, 47 individuals and entities have contributed to the STEM project. George Lee and I have each heard from neighbors and acquaintances in the larger Anderson Valley community about their enthusiasm for science teaching and hence for the curriculum which the STEM money will support. Among these supporters, whom we gladly acknowledge, is the Editor of this newspaper. Such encouragement has sustained George and me as we have gone about soliciting contributions.

The two of us are grateful for the many good words we have heard expressing the heartening and positive appreciation of what Anderson Valley High School means to many here and and gratitude for the commitment of the new principal, Michelle Hutchins, to improve the school in every way she can. George and I are deeply grateful for the monetary gifts which donors have made with such generosity. Securing the money was, after all, the basic idea.

Anyone still wishing to make a donation may do so by writing a check payable to AVUSD for STEM and mailing the check to AVHS STEM Project, Anderson Valley Unified School District, Attn: Sheila Leighton, PO BOX 457, Boonville, CA 95415. Such donations will be put into the High School principal’s discretionary fund.

Working on raising funds for the STEM project has given George and me direct experience of how much goodwill and generosity pervade the Anderson Valley community. The opportunity to have helped realize a significant part of the STEM Project has been gratifying and brought home to each of us how consistently, reliably, graciously and generously our fellow citizens respond to each other’s and to community needs.

With profound thanks to all who have contributed to the STEM project,

George Lee & Bill Sterling


* * *


Dear Editor:

“The enemy of my enemy is my friend” is an old adage that is apropos to the situation with ISIS. As Biden blows hot air and Obama dithers and daddles, ISIS gets stronger by the day. It is quite apparent airstrikes alone will not defeat ISIS and boots on the ground are needed. The US except perhaps for some special forces is not going to provide any boots nor are any of our allies. The militias fighting Assad are not up to the job. That leaves people who we do not like and with whom do not want to have any dealings.

Too bad about what we want or do not want. The only people who can put effective boots on the ground are Assad and the Syrian Army, Hezbollah, the Iraqi shiite militias and Iran. Obama has to quit acting like a spoilt kid and start forging support agreements with the “bad people” if we want to defeat ISIS.

In peace,

Jim Updegraff


* * *



It is disingenuous for the Board of the Anderson Valley Health Center to suggest in their recent letter to the AVA that the public is misinformed in their analysis of the Board’s intentions when they go on in the letter to lay out misinformation concerning the terms of their “current plans” for Doctor Apfel.

At the Board’s recent open meeting, Doctor Apfel made it clear that if the Board would not meet further with him on the terms of his continued employment, he would be forced to alternative plans (leaving). He stated the Board had previously refused to meet with him in closed session on the employment issue and in the open session again refused to address the subject or set it up for closed session. While the Board’s letter states, “We want Dr. Apfel to continue to serve his patients at the Health Center,” their refusal to negotiate the terms of his modified service agreement appears to say otherwise.

I am surprised that you, the Board, would lay the issue of being uninformed on the public who attended your last Board meeting. The public comments were essentially all questions greeted by silence on the part of the Board. If we had it wrong why didn’t you speak up then?

Daniel Myers


* * *


Greetings AVA Staff,

We had two wake up calls regarding the importance of wired phones. Americans oppressed by higher cost, more gizmos and wages that stalled many years ago look to wireless phone technology to save bucks. AT&T and other big wired companies are helping this along with fixed plans that require updates for discounts and high cost long distance when we all know they are doing what every other carrier is doing, satelliting or internet link. Wire phone connections are dropping like flies.

In the Fukushima disaster it was wired pay phones that saved day. Tokyo pay phones kept communication going. Payphones? Buckey Walters? What’s that? Wired phones require so little power to operate, often running on back up batteries with an occasional generator charge. When the main fiber optic line went down between the Coast and inland, it solely took down the internet as wired lines still redundantly picked up the duty. Those of us on wired phones maintained the clear connection that wired systems afford. Those with internet phones and cell phones that are dependent on fiber optics had no communication. That is pretty serious stuff. Bad enough in power outages that remote phones do not work, but no phones for emergencies? Imagine if the post office had finally died, another important redundant communication system with no email.

Here is the looming problem, AT&T and others would love to nix their wired systems because they cost to maintain many miles which they have been ignoring. President Clinton signed a deal with Newt Gingrich that allowed the wired companies to stop attending to their lines. There solution is wireless. It should be cables that replace old lines that are chewed up by squirrels or shot out with buck shot by users who know what squirrels can do.

As a point of history, rural phone lines came from the work of an unexpected resource: unified, nonpinko, farmers in the Grange. The Grange, a fraternal farmers union, has maintained a focus on decentralized everything because it means local jobs and local money. They believe firmly in decentralized local banks and had some Grange banks, one in San Francisco.

Wired phones should be cheap and available to all for a nominal cost if nothing else as for 911 and emergency calls. What can you do? Get one wired phone (~$25 with little use.) It will keep the big Phone companies wired and maintain the crucial redundancy we need to maintain continuous communication.

Oh, remember cell phones are causing brain, breast, testicular cancers and heart issues. Keep the phone off your body and away from you head. Cell based breast cancer is rising in very young woman, landmarked where the phone is stored in the woman’s bra. Get a special RF impenetrable wallet ( or leave it in your purse or knapsack. America is feeling the impact of these dangerous devices that simple need precautious use.

Greg Krouse


PS. I agree with various writers. Dr. Apfel has been a key component of our health clinic and a way beyond the call generous caregiver. He deserves much more. I don't understand this board but I feel he deserves to remain director and now needs an apology.

PSS. Any news on pothole heaven between Boonville and Philo on the “State Highway” that Caltrans is supposed to be maintaining? I am already amazed that they had that crew tearing up the last paving job on the south end. Who is organizing this stuff in Eureka, a two year old? Even our County puts in culverts before paving and then does the whole job. What's Up, Orange directors?

* * *


Letter to the Editor

When someone is feeling suicidal on a Friday night in Fort Bragg, there is no Crisis Residential Treatment Center (CRTC) to provide the supportive connection and medical treatment the person needs. Privatization of mental health services means going to the ER and waiting for an Ortner non-medical person to drive from Ukiah to Fort Bragg to decide if you can get medical help.

The County Mental Health office is closed on Friday. If one went there during business hours, a receptionist would say “Call this 800 number for appointments for Intake and Assessment and then they may give you an appointment with a doctor.” Before privatization, you could walk in and see a medical provider 3 days/week, or a Crisis Worker (CW) 4 days/week during business hours. These local CWs would respond to the ER when called.

The Mendocino Coast Clinic does not provide crisis services but if you are a patient with MediCal or Medicare/Partnership Healthplan, you can make an appointment with a medical provider.

If you have private insurance or cash, there are two doctors in Mendocino who can help pre-crisis.

When someone is feeling suicidal, the will to die and the will to live may both be there and so a heart connection with someone who can help is critically important and superior to an 800 number with a stranger at the other end.

We need three supervisors to vote for 24/7 CRTCs in Fort Bragg and Ukiah, and to tell County Mental Health to get this done NOW.

Sonya Nesch


* * *



The last three years according to our government we have had no productivity gains. Why? Because government continually takes more and more out of the economy. The facts are that most big businesses have been making more profit by being more efficient like they always have. We continually hear of businesses laying big amounts of their workers off in a just so-so economy, which means they are producing more with less workers — in essence that means that products and services should be getting cheaper as they did in the not-too-distant past. But alas, the government intrudes in all kinds of ways — more taxes, more fees, more regulations, more subsidies.

All the Congress people passing measures to give things to their district usually produces nothing with the unwritten rule by Congressmen: if I passed yours you have got to pass mine no matter whether you like or dislike the perks. It may seem that those who receive the perks, grant subsidies, etc., are getting these benefits, are getting them free or low-cost. But the facts are that practically everyone's standard of living is going down. Things that were free or low-cost are no longer free and cheap. The biggest culprit is campaign contributions which double every presidential election. The Supreme Court calls them freedom of speech. The Supreme Court judges are all lawyers and only a lawyer could interpret campaign contributions as freedom of speech. Anyone else will tell you it's plain extortion — the prisons are full of people who have committed extortion. Of course there are no politicians.

Emil Rossi


* * *


Dear Editor,

Foremost, allow me to extend my honorable respectful salutations to the Editor and to the community. I hope all is going well with you and your families, our families being the most important and dearest thing to all of us. My name is Michael France. I'm a loyal, caring brother, son, uncle, devoted loving father and talented artist. Captain Van Patten of the Mendocino County Sheriff's office decided it would be okay to release false information about me, very false information, to the Ukiah Daily Journal in early April of this year. It was concerning the April Fools' Day stabbing incident on Laws Avenue or on State Street in Ukiah, or behind the store or behind the fire station, all with imaginary people. As the police reports in my hand state, there's more stories than I care to count. But I assure you all of them are false, and I give you a 200% guarantee that the Mendocino County sheriffs office knew it was all completely false and that I am innocent of the charges. The newspaper article made front-page headlines and is a very damaging article and that's why the Sheriffs Office released the information to assassinate my character in the public's eye and to create the witchhunt or kangaroo court.

The article destroyed my life, I've lost my job, my best friend killed himself which I could have stopped. It almost gave my grandmother and Grandfather a heart attack (both have bad hearts) and my children don't have their father in their life. It also scared the beautiful amazing woman in my life away. This angel just gave birth to my son last weekend. I couldn't be by her side because of this nonsense. Ashley, if you are reading this I'm sorry for everything and I love you no matter what. I spent my whole life looking for you. I hope you can find it in your heart to come back into my life as my best friend and partner.

I did not commit the crime I'm being charged with. And when all is said and done and the dust settles I hope someone will exonerate the slander on my name. The only thing I'm guilty of is being a bad boyfriend. I've been here in jail for six months almost, slammed down in disciplinary isolation and administrative segregation from day one. I am fed lies about my housing every time I ask and every time I ask it's a new story! It's quite obvious that the Sheriff's office intends to break me with these psychological warfare games. But I'm unbreakable. I've been in a lot worse places. My first preliminary hearing is on September 30 which is very soon. So if you end up coming to my trial I wouldn't ask you to be there unless I was absolutely innocent. I wouldn't waste your time. I would just work out a deal. But there will be no deals! All I ask for is fairness from my peers because I know the District Attorney will not play fair. If they had done their jobs I wouldn't be here. That goes for you detectives Tweedledee and Tweedledum (Gray and Espinoza). With that said ladies and gentlemen I'm going to give you all my respects and wish the best for you all.


Michael Ray France

Mendocino County Jail

* * *



To the Sonoma County District Attorney, Coddingtown Mobile Estates and Occupy Santa Rosa, et al.:

Inexplicable circumstances — fire reporting.

On August 16 of 2014 at approximately 11:30am a small personal shopping cart used for laundry with wash and semi dry clothing etc. burst into flames in front of my trailer home.

The flames were large, very hot, orange in color and without much smoke. No noxious fumes were detected. Some of the laundry, partly dried in the laundry room yard and one machine cycle (jackets, jeans and bathroom mats), boxer shorts and T-shirts, folded and in mesh laundry bags on the card. The bleaching detergent had been removed from the cart. I was returning to the cart to bring the rest inside.

My next-door neighbor saw flames and got a hose and assisted while I was getting my own hose.

The fire was hot and very difficult to put out. Large flames all at once.

It was not deemed prudent in view of the recent direct attempt on my life (reported to the District Attorney et al) to call for outside assistance and/or to make prior report (risk of imposters and phones are not secure) and until all responses are made in court proceedings (People versus Murphy dated August 11, 2014) were received.

Critical evidence was saved which can be provided by the fire department.

Only one other resident of the Park entered the laundry room while I was there to remove unattended wash and place it in the dryer and again to remove dried items.

Such types of incidents on the East Coast are associated with mob intimidation of witnesses. I'm an old soldier under "oath of soldier" to defend my country against all enemies foreign and domestic. I am not easily intimidated.

Harold Sweet

Santa Rosa

PS. It is for the district attorney to bring this to the notice of the court.

Update: here is a local item in the Sonoma County courts. Will they continue to cover (misprison) a manufactured charges operation based on fictional crimes? This is one reason the prisons are so full.

* * *



In the September 5th, Independent Coast Observer it stated, “Attorney David Eyster blasted a Grand Jury that charged his office should make changes in policy and operation of County's Animal Control Department.” Eyster stated that Animal Control was not even under his office's purview and he was disappointed with the … report, “as all citizens of Mendocino County should be.” Eyster said it seemed that witnesses may have provided incorrect information or there might be a “private agenda” behind allegations to the Grand Jury.

Why am I writing about this? Last year, not only as a “witness” but a participant in the violations, I presented a complaint (correct information) which was backed up with meeting minutes (written and audio) along with a letter denying public access of information discussed openly at a school board meeting. These were knowingly flagrant violations of the Public Records Act and Brown Act Law which is absolutely within the “purview” of our District Attorney's Office of Mendocino County.

I met with his chief investigator at the time, Tim Kiely, who told me I had organized my complaint so succinctly that it would take them no time at all to go over it. It took over fours hours to compile my complaint. I even went so far as to put the exact time on the audio version of the meeting where the violation occurred so they wouldn't have to listen to the whole board meeting.

Three weeks later Kiely stated that the complaint was on Eyster's desk for him to sign off on and he would see what he could do to move in up to the “top of the stack.” Two weeks following that Kiely informed me Eyster told him to let me know that he has a year to file a complaint on a misdemeanor case and he would get back to me.

I probably don't need to finish this letter because you must know by now what happened. I contacted the DA's office in June so I didn't miss the one year window and found out from the new chief investigator, Kevin Bailey, that my complaint cannot be found anywhere in the DA's office. No surprise to me. Nor would it be to other citizens of Mendocino County who should not only be “disappointed” (as Eyster said he was about the Grand Jury Animal Control complaint) but outraged at the blasé attitude Eyster seems to take on misdemeanor matters. Or, perhaps, District Attorney David Eyster, you have your own “private agenda” to see to.

Suzanne L. Rush


* * *



I have come to understand over the last few years that until my son Paullen realizes and admits to himself that he has a drinking problem that he will continue to at times step over a limit, do something stupid, and get arrested. My hopes, verging on prayers, are that no-one will ever get hurt when he does. So I guess it would be true to say that this morning it was with some relief that I read the booking log for the Mendocino County Jail; “Paullen O'Phelan Honore Severn-Walsh, DUI, DUI over .08, SUS/REVOK DL, PROBATION REVOKED.” There was no “Causing injury or great bodily harm” attachment. That isn't to suggest that I am not sad and in pain.

Being that this is his fourth or fifth DUI, the probation charge is a felony. He could be looking at years not months in jail but probably won't get that because there are far too many like him for the system to handle.

Of course both he and I have had all the good advice. The wisdom seems to be that it is his life, his decision and that nobody can do anything for him until he decides that he has a problem. I hear that, yet on my part I often introspect on how I've failed as a parent. But like my assessment of Robin Williams I feel that the problem is more universal, more systemic than simply individual shortcomings. I have been whining for years of the hypocrisy of our mantra “Don't drink and drive” while lining the Anderson Valley highway with 35 or so establishments handing out free booze to passing motorists.

The Mendocino economy is exceedingly top-heavy from intoxicants and every fundraiser for whatever good cause is always saturated with alcoholic donations — even the Ambulance Service. Hell, I still get a kick out of the fact that our first ever Anderson Valley High School Sober Graduation was funded by a wine tasting at the Boonville Hotel.

A few years back Anderson Valley Elementary School students were tasked to write letters of appreciation that read not just “Thank you for the money,” but, “Thank you for the Brewfest” to the promoter of our local annual celebration of conspicuous overconsumption who then had the gall to ask me as the then-editor of the local newspaper to publish some of them by way of self-promotion.

Alcohol is a drug. And like the plethora of other legal, prescriptive and illicit drugs it is used to self-medicate and treat discomforting symptoms. We live in a corporate capitalistic dominated system that is battering the populace and bringing us to our knees. Paullen, I believe, is the face of the future. Along with Robin Williams he is another canary in the birdcage. It makes me weep.

David Severn


* * *


Dear AVA and Community,

I have been following the correspondence about the Health Center and recently Dr. Mark Apfel. First I want to say that I am acquainted with quite a few of the board members and I believe that they are all well meaning and hard working on behalf of the Health Center. The unfortunate way that the affairs of our community health center have come together recently is a thicket that would be hard to cut through with a machete. One thing I do know for sure though is that no matter what happens Dr. Mark Apfel has earned a place that should be pretty much beyond reproach whether he is your favorite doctor or not. There are only a few people in any community who take on much more responsibility than the rest of us. Keith Squires in his career as our local Deputy, Colin Wilson in his career as our local Fire Chief and Dr. Mark Apfel in his career as our local doctor are three who have taken us on their shoulders. Mark, like the other two gentlemen mentioned, knows so much about us by caring for us in sickness. He has held our lives in his hands. For years people have buttonholed him at social gatherings asking for advice. He never shied away from coming out among us even so. He is always one of the most generous contributors to any local cause. He has lived his life among us. He knows us in our most vulnerable moments warts and all, literally. As a worker out in the community I am certain that I speak for many others. It would have been easier to punch a time clock and disappear at 5 or 6 o'clock to another neighborhood perhaps over the hill or on the coast but Dr. Apfel chose to stay here and keep us close. There is no substitute for that and there is not enough gratitude available to replay that kind of sacrifice — yes, sacrifice. The Health Center Board faces an unbelievably onerous task under the Federal obligations (kind of like trying to force 20 pounds of work into a 10 pound sack). Nevertheless Dr. Mark has paid so many dues that his input should pretty much serve as the gold standard for the AV Health Center. He has been there and done that so many times where it counts. Along with Keith Squires and Colin Wilson my hat is off to Mark Apfel.

Terry Ryder


* * *



Surprise Valley Surprise, Early ‘80's

Early sun glared in morning mist making brightness that left no shadows.  Even under the trees, the hidden places just more dim in the suffusing light.  Tatters of fog rose from wetland and pasture and hung magic in the air.

Going to work at Surprise Valley Ranch in Comptche, I surprised a great blue heron without meaning to, just driving along.  He should have heard me coming over the gravel road, and the car was not quiet at best, but somehow I sneaked up on him.  I came over a little rise with fence and cattleguard, and down the other side in the drifting fog was a pond to the left with cattails and lilypads.  And a heron who I guess was zeroed in on a frog or something.  He panicked and with a quick jump he hit the air, flapping hard to get away, directly down the road in front of the car.  The road then dove through more trees, so the heron was trapped in the tunnel, flying along almost like a hood ornament.  After fifty or seventy five yards the trees opened up again and he veered off.

People of the First Nations would regard this little visit with some awe; I know I did.  Cruising along ten feet behind a great blue heron going flat out to get elsewhere is something to behold.  His wingspan was wider than the car and he pulled ahead without me chasing at him.  When he banked away, still accelerating, I rattled on down the road, like I was the one going somewhere for something important, with the rumbling artifacts, the dust and noise to prove it, complete with smoke and mirrors.

Rick Weddle


Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *