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Mendocino County Today: Wednesday, September 24, 2014

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LARUE KOBRIN has died. A long-time resident of Fort Bragg perhaps best known for her many years as an instructor at the College of the Redwoods, LaRue was universally admired for her compassion and intelligence as she helped many persons with sound, practical advice on their personal difficulties. Married for many years to Fort Bragg fisherman, Frank Bender, LaRue died in her sleep at her home at 3am this morning with Frank by her side.

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IN RESPONSE to KC Meadows' scathing Sunday editorial in the Ukiah Daily Journal that County Schools chief, Paul Tichinin, does not need to make two lame duck jaunts on the public's dime, and that the overall County Schools travel budget is a travesty, County Schools has responded to KC this way: “KC, The total Travel and Conferences budget for MCOE for 14-15 is $228,421. See page 25 of the MCOE Budget book, which is posted on our website. General Admin’s portion of that total is $81,328 for 14-15. General Admin includes the Board of Education, and 40+ employees of the following departments: Human Resources, Superintendent, IT – Computer, Business Services, Maintenance and Operations, Psychs and Nurses. See page 51 of the MCOE budget book for detail. If you have further questions please don’t hesitate to call. Victoria Gulick Confidential Administrative Assistant Mendocino County Office of Education…”

MCOE IS CLAIMING that all of the County's “educators” are free to draw on an annual $147,093 while Tichinin and his Talmage heavy hitters draw a mere $81,328.

I WROTE to the put-upon Ms. Gulick (she has to front for these thieves) to ask her if I could get a breakdown, by name, of the people traveling on the edu-dime. I assume Tichinin apportions most of it with some going to his pals at the individual school districts of Mendocino County. But unless we know who spent how much going where, these overall budget numbers remain opaque. The real point is, these people are taking money that should go to classrooms. I'm waiting for Ms. Gulick's reply, which I doubt will be forthcoming.

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A READER WRITES: “At the last election, in June, I didn't receive any election material in the mail. Not even a ballot. As I had voted in the prior election, in person, to exchange my spoiled mail-in ballot for another ballot, I knew I was up to date. I called the Clerk's office just last Friday. After being passed from one worker to another worker, I was informed, ‘Oh, that was when we had problems, a lot of people got purged.’ She reinstated my registration with no further explanation or apology. Several other people I know got dumped with no notice or explanation. You guys ever hear about a purge in Mendocino County? How many folks got dumped? Why?”

NOPE, and we looked into it this very day with Elections, an office we've always found to be transparent. The pleasant woman who answered the phone confirmed there was no “purge” of voters that she was aware of, and there had been no complaints from voters they'd been lost in the system. This one must have been a one-off experience. In addition, if a voter’s name is for some reason not on the precinct list the voter can always submit a provisional ballot in case there’s an individual glitch such as an address change, a mail delivery problem, an error, etc.

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PROTESTERS BLOCKED trucks at the north end of the Willits Bypass this morning. The CHP showed up an hour later to warn the blockaders that they'd be arrested if they continued to stop work on the project. Caltrans claims that protests have cost $12 million in delays, and also claims the Bypass is 40% complete.

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“Education and Qualifications: I have lived here in Fort Bragg for the last 20 years and in Mendocino County for almost 40 years. Over these years I have been an educational leader as a teacher, principal and superintendent and in these roles I have consistently brought diverse groups of people together, established a clear vision and helped manage the inevitable process of change so that the future showed positive growth, while still retaining all that was most important from the past. I have learned that we can create the future of our dreams by becoming the agents of change rather than its victim. It is apparent to me that the City and the community of Fort Bragg stand at an important crossroad and the decisions we make as a City, and as a community, over the next 5 to 10 years will absolutely define our future into the next century. I believe that my veteran perspective, along with the skills I have honed in my work with school communities, including: effective listening, community building, organization and change management will be important additions to the Fort Bragg City Council. I am willing to take on this work for you with heart and dedication. Thank you for your support!” (Mark Iacuaniello, candidate for Fort Bragg City Council)

ED NOTE: I count 31 errors, not counting the conceptual ones, in this communication. Versions of this character run the public schools of Mendocino County. And now he's running for the Fort Bragg City Council, having been selected by the sitting Council, which is, I must say, a damning indictment of their intellectual functioning. We hope Fort Bragg voters reject Iacuaniello's candidacy.

THE FOLLOWING is an assessment of Iacuaniello's performance as Superintendent of the Point Arena schools back in 2010 on Iacuaniello’s retirement:

Dear Editor,

Mark Iacuaniello was “let go” in Mendocino and Laytonville prior to appointment (by Paul Tichinin) as superintendent in Point Arena. What is Iacuaniello’s legacy? You judge:

  1. Elementary School: In State/Federal Program Improvement when arrived and continues to be. However, three new buildings were constructed.
  2. High School: Failed to meet State guidelines, past 3 years. Built an all purpose facility.
  3. Hired non-credentialed employees, elementary & high school. When discovered by board, employee was given another title, “para educator” with Iacuaniello as “teacher of record”. Yet, Iacuaniello was never in the classroom.
  4. 2003 Gualala School Bond: 70% of voters passed $3.9 school bond, K-5 school. 2009, Iacuaniello built new buildings in Point Arena. $2,266,378.00 bond funds remain which the board will decide in August what to do with but only to the tune of $1.79M. Unlawful, as a district employee, to serve on Bond Oversight Committee, Iacuaniello served as both secretary & president.
  5. Brown Act Violations: No transparency, i.e., non-agendized meeting held in the home of a district employee. Agendas posted only at district office but in order for a taxpayer in Stewart’s Point to view the agenda they must drive an hour one way to see it.
  6. Last year our district received $7,437,402.56 in funds/grants to educate approximately 413 students – or $18,008 per student. Yet, our students are still unable to meet state/federal benchmarks.
  7. Incurred many lawsuits against the district. Yet, Iacuaniello seems only fixated on the terminated principal, Matthew Murray.

Murray had stellar evaluations by Iacuaniello but was fired (with numerous Brown Act Violations). Although Murray was able to lead the elementary school out of Program Improvement. (It fell back in the year after Murray left.)

Iacuaniello informed the board, “either he goes or I go.” Perhaps it was due to Murray’s “large contingent of the community” behind him and Iacuaniello’s insecurities as a true leader.

Seems the most important legacy Iacuaniello will leave behind our small school district is new buildings. We all know buildings do not educate our children, teachers along with a good leader does. But guess what, that leader got fired


Suzanne L. Rush, Manchester (Independent Coast Observer, August, 2010)

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A READER HELPS MAKE OUR POINT about inland water regulation, that point being that there are so many agencies involved that the public nods off during the first paragraph of any story about how it all works: “The RRFC&WCID (and congratulations on stating the full correct name — Janet Pauli would be so proud of you!) technically does not “partially control releases” which are controlled by the Sonoma County Water Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers based on flow regimes approved by NOAA and the State Water Resources Control Board. RRFC does coordinate and provide information that is factored into the releases. This may seem like a distinction without a difference, except RRFC lacks the ability to release a single drop. And another part of the hydro-geography is that the headwaters of Lake Pillsbury are in Mendocino County, so Mendocino is the county of origin for at least a portion of the water diverted through the Potter Valley tunnel. It is also worth noting that the original and still the primary reason for being of ‘The Friends of the Eel River’ is to remove Scott Dam and Cape Horn Dam which impound Lake Pillsbury and Van Arsdale reservoir, without which there would be even less water to send down the ‘main stem’ Eel River (which would more accurately be called the ‘East Branch’). Johnny Pinches has been the foremost proponent of increased water storage (or trying to wrestle away a bigger share of Lake Mendocino) but has not been a proponent of raising Coyote Valley Dam. He has correctly identified raising Scout Lake dam, but he claims that both Willits and Redwood Valley said they were not interested. One complication is that Scout Lake is in the Eel River watershed (with every drop originating in Mendocino County) and we know how simple those cross basin transfers can be…”

WHAT IS NEEDED is a water czar, centralized authority with the power to override the many competing public agencies and the many self-interested water districts. Additionally, all the persons and businesses with riparian access to the Russian River should be metered and monitored.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, September 23, 2014

Cole, Cortez, Harlan, Horgan, Ro.Horn, Ru.Horn, Horre
Cole, Cortez, Harlan, Horgan, Ro.Horn, Ru.Horn, Horre

ZACHERY COLE, Fort Bragg. Drunk in public, probation revocation.

LELAND CORTEZ, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.

BRETT HARLAN, Ukiah. Escape from jail, theft of vehicle, evasion of police officer, assault on police officer, possession of meth, probation revocation, violation of protective order.

JERROLD HORGAN, Chico. Drunk in public.

RONALD HORN, Gualala. Pot cultivation, processing, possession, sale.

RUENA HORN, Gualala. Pot cultivation, processing, possession, sale.

MARK HORRE, Gualala. Pot cultivation, processing, possession, sale.

Hutcheson, McCoey, Pkke, Rosales, Sifuentes-Jiminez, Tapia-Hernandez, Taylor
Hutcheson, McCoey, Pkke, Rosales, Sifuentes-Jiminez, Tapia-Hernandez, Taylor

CHRISTOPHER HUTCHESON, Point Arena. Pot cultivation, processing, possession, sale; probation revocation.

ROBERT MCCOEY, Ukiah. Driving on invalid license, probation revocation.

DARREL PIKE, Hopland. Probation revocation.

NORBERTO ROSALES, Covelo. Pot cultivation/processing.

JULIO SIFUENTES-JIMINEZ, Covelo. Pot cultivation/processing.

FIDEL TAPIA-HERNANDEZ, Ukiah. Under the influence of controlled substance, driving without a license.

DANIEL TAYLOR, Ukiah. Felony probation violation.

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ON TUESDAY, September 16, 2014 at approximately 7pm Deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office were dispatched to contact Mendocino County Jail staff regarding the escape of an inmate. When Deputies arrived Jail staff advised that on 09-16-2014 the inmate, Brett Edward Harlan, was taken to the Mendocino County Superior Court to petition for a temporary 4-hour release pass, so he could visit a sick relative. The pass was granted and Harlan was released, but he was ordered to return to the Mendocino County Jail on 09-16-2014 at 4:00 PM. Harlan subsequently did not return by the listed date/time to surrender himself to Mendocino County Jail staff and he is now considered an Escaped Inmate. Deputies contacted Harlan’s family members in an attempt to return him to the Mendocino County Jail. Deputies learned Harlan informed family members after his release that he would not go back to jail or surrender himself as had been previously ordered by the court. Deputies continued their searched for Harlan and followed up on leads but they could not locate him as hoped. Harlan is believed to be hiding in the areas of Willits or Redwood Valley and should be considered dangerous. Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Harlan is urged to call 9-1-1 or the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office dispatch center at 707-463-4086. Harlan is described as being a 56-year-old white male adult, standing 6-feet tall and weighing 220 pounds. Harlan has a shaved head and a tattoo of “Shirley' across the upper front chest area near the neck line. Harlan also has a tattoo on the right side of the neck below the ear, a tattoo on back of his head and has a prosthetic right leg. Harlan had been in custody in the Mendocino County Jail on the following charges from 09-04-2014 until his court ordered release on 09-16-2014: 10851(a) CVC – Theft of a motor vehicle 273.6(a) PC – Violation of a court order 2800.2(a) CVC – Evading a peace officer 245(c) PC – Assault on a peace officer 11377(a) HS – Possession of a controlled substance 1203.2 PC – Violation of probation

UPDATE: On 09-22-2014 at 07:53 PM an officer with the Ukiah Police Department located and arrested Brett Edward Harlan in the 300 block of East Gobbi Street in Ukiah, California. Harlan was returned to the Mendocino County Jail where he was booked on an additional open charge of Escape and he was to be held in lieu of $175,000.00 bail.

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by Jeff Costello

Not much to do in September except for the Sunday farmer's market. The town is comprised mostly of millionaires and what Bruce Anderson calls cancer-causing architecture. Sort of imitation Swiss/Austrian alpine with a nasty edge to it. In fact the whole “village” looks fake. A movie set where one might expect a James Bond movie scene to be made. Such artificial environments have popped up everywhere the moneyed people like to go. Big hotel complexes in Hawaii are set up so that guests never have to leave the property and be subjected to real everyday life. For anyone old enough to remember the British spy show “The Prisoner,” on TV in the 60's, Vail is reminiscent of the surreal village where the protagonist was confined.

There are NO poor people and the only working class people one sees - other than service staff - are out-of-town construction crews who stay at the one “cheap” motel. You can see all their equipment and trucks parked there because it's verboten to leave it on the job sites overnight lest it spoil the atmosphere for the rich wandering the village and its high-priced shops and restaurants. A huge mall set up to look like a charming European town, cobblestones and all. In such places I feel as if I'm undercover and have to watch out for the thought police. The cheap seats - Vail's concession to practical reality - are on the north side of I-70, which serves as Vail's version of “the tracks.” The gas stations and supermarkets are on that side, as well as the lower-grade condos.

Of around 100 vendors at the farmer's market, only three are selling fresh fruit and vegetables. The rest are arts, crafts, and specialty foods. Walking through there, you can almost smell the money. “Rich people are different because they have more money.” Indeed, and they carry themselves differently. The market is a fashion parade, a display of high-end purchases and entitled attitudes. The rest of us are mostly invisible to them, which is just as well. A huckster in a goofy outfit, a fox tail hanging on his backside, draws a crowd with card tricks - a court jester with a constant patter working the crowd for spare small bills. He knows they're carrying cash today because of the street market.

At its 8000 ft. elevation, Vail might have been spelled Vale, since the place is a valley with high peaks on the north and south. It was enough of a pass for the highway to be built. The south side is riddled with ski trails, but if you look way up near the peaks, you can see houses where the uber money lives, rather than in the multi-million dollar condos down in the village.

I've never been to Aspen, but I'd say Vail is Aspen without the reputed glitz and cocaine. Park Avenue as opposed to Broadway. The vibe is Gerald Ford instead of Hunter Thompson and George Clooney. Even the freeway is named after Ford, who famously liked to ski there.

Maybe he wasn't so uncoordinated after all.

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Letter to Editor

When I first heard our County Supervisors were privatizing Mental Health, I had a strong feeling it was bad news. Where did I gain this incredible superpower of premonition (you may ask): the public library (another valued benefit of the Commons).

As it happens, I had just read David Cay Johnston's book “The Fine Print: How Big Companies Use 'Plain English' to Rob You Blind.” In one chapter he tells the memorable story of a little town in California (Felton) that found it necessary to wrest control of their water utility back from private ownership. The six-year citizen effort came at great cost, but the people finally prevailed in the end.

It's a shame our supervisors were not more wary of this pitfall as they stepped into the privatization trap. How long and difficult it will be to regain control of our Mental Health Services remains to be seen. Recently, the means of this privatization process has come into serious question. Perhaps this is an opportunity to step back and reassess the entire decision. If the process was indeed tainted by self interest, it may actually be easier to unwind the damage at this point.

David Cay Johnston's book is a collection of cautionary tales, illuminating the many ills of predatory greed that befall us in these days of unrestrained corporate capitalism. I highly recommend many of Mr. Johnston's books to anyone even vaguely interested in tax and economic policy. His prose is much more enjoyable than the topics sound.

Mike Kalantarian

Beyond the Deep End (Navarro)

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A READER WRITES: “What you and all of these latter day crusaders for preserving the sanctity of mediocrity (that has characterized county delivery of adult mental health services for a quarter century) seem to be ignorant that children's mental health services was successfully privatized a dozen or more years ago and that the supposed good old days that you wish to return to never existed. The simple fact is that delivery of adult mental health services has improved with Ortner and is likely to continue to improve - something that was never achieved under the county run system despite decades of effort. And going with Optum would have meant throwing overboard Redwood Children's Services, the children's mental health provider. The alternative to privatization with Ortner/Redwood was not to stay with the failed County MH delivery system, but to dump Redwood and have Optum handle both adults and children. Optum would have brought in their own people and taken the profits outtahere. As it is, cadres of local poverty pimps are still getting a slice of the pie.”

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by Zack Anderson

Random thoughts while alternating between dry-heaves and sobs during Sunday’s 49er debacle in Arizona’s retractable-roof desert… The new Levi’s Stadium curse is alive and well, as for the second straight Sunday the 49ers blew a second half gasket, combining moronic, churlish penalties with lack of leadership, bad play-calling, and weak pass rush to fall to 1-2. Every loss hurts, but to lose twice in three weeks to NFC opponents not named the Seattle Seahawks is like walking through the hallway in 8th Grade and seeing the girl you have a crush on holding hands with your (former) best friend. You remember stumbling, red-faced, into the library and grabbing the first book you saw: a thesaurus. And the first three words your bleary eyes found were: galling; evil; gelatinous. The next three randomly selected words were: clammy, viscous, and pudding-like. R.C. Owens, the Inner Richmond turns its lonely eyes to you…

TIVO IS the greatest invention since the NSA/ISIS created the Dirty Bomb, a triple-reverse-flea flicker where both guards pull and the cheerleaders sway ever-so-slightly to satanic church hymns of meat-paste munchings and helmet-to-temple crunchings… Whether your sporting event involves NFL highlights or returning hostile fire, don’t you feel a heckuva lot more in control with your trusted digital recorder? As a friend likes to say, “What do we want? Time travel! When do we want it? It’s irrelevant!” But if Tivo makes you the master of time and space, why does watching the Niners make you feel like a slave?

Speaking OF COLD COCKED, I’ve been knocked unconscious at least twice while playing football… The first time I was a sophomore running back against Point Arena at the Fairgrounds. It was an off tackle to the right. I remember putting my left elbow up to receive the hand-off and the next thing I know I’m sitting on the bench wondering why there are 44 players on the field. Did the rules just change? I remember Deputy/Coach Squires asking if I was okay. I said yes, not wanting to let my coach and teammates down – but already I was wondering how I’d be able to escape 22 Pirate defenders, some of whom appeared to be floating and also turning into flames. Later G.P. Price told me he stood above my prone form and prayed that I wasn’t dead.

The Arizona crowd looks vaguely fascist, a rainbow coalition of imperial insouciance, sure, but goose-stepping cheaters all the same… And of course there are many Niner fans in the stadium, all with alcoholic smiles plastered to their faces and Patrick Willis jerseys clinging to their $15 bud lights… Quien es mas macho?

If COACH Harbaugh didn’t bitch about every call, maybe SF wouldn't have so many penalties called against us. Humans unfortunately are human. They are bound by human nature. Someone yelling at you non-stop is going to make a normal human want to shut you up. Throwing back-to-back 15-yard penalties is one way to reassert their will. (Note: Obama, Hillary and Sarah Palin are not human.)

Boldin’s idiotic headbutt in the red zone makes me want to cry… And blaming it on the refs only exacerbates the situation, Anquan. Did the refs cause Kaepernick to throw three interceptions and lose a fumble against the Bears?

Our defense is making Cardinals back-up QB Drew Stanton look like the second coming of Joe Montana. And here’s our intellectually challenged cornerback Chris Culliver giving up a big play down the sideline, then taunting the receiver, who smiles as the zebras tack on another 15 yards. A dead-ball taunting penalty? Look at the scoreboard, Culliver, you buffoon.

THE SEASON IS OVER. Wait, weren’t we 1-2 after three games last year? On the flip side, it’s hard to continue to care about a franchise run by trust-fund Todds who kidnapped the 49ers and moved them to Santa Clara, the butt end of the Bay. The only problem is that the Niners still call themselves the “San Francisco 49ers.” In reality they’re the Santa Clara Niners. And it shows. The once glorious football team based in Baghdad by the Bay is now a suburban strip mall with clogged freeway onramps, subtle gang violence and giant corndogs on a stick. Yum yum!

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by Wendy Brenner

Heavenly Father, in your infinite goodness you created the earth and blessed us with its clear, abundant waters and fertile lands yielding plenteous harvests of fruits and vegetables and grains, some of which happen to contain gluten. We praise you, Lord, for creating gluten, an important yet humble source of protein enjoyed for centuries by the peoples of many nations, the great majority of whom didn’t even know it existed until recently. God, you sent gluten into this world as you sent your own Son, to save us, not to torment us with vague and possibly imaginary physical symptoms. So please help certain people to remember, gracious Lord, even as they shun and revile gluten, that it is still a creation of your own Almighty hand, and that, being God, you probably knew what you were doing when you created it. Enlighten those of us in your flock, O Lord, who go about slandering gluten with great authority and volume, even though they never heard of gluten until last year. Gently remind the fearmongering gluten slanderers to study Wikipedia — which you also created, Lord, so that we might come to know your wisdom more instantaneously — for they might be surprised to learn that gluten was discovered in the seventh century by Buddhist monks who used it as a substitute for meat, thus sparing from slaughter many of your beloved cows, chickens, pigs, and sheep, all of whom might be totally extinct by now were it not for gluten. Also help us to be mindful, O merciful God, of how gluten itself must feel — for who are we to say that gluten does not have feelings? (We imagine gluten is appalled, to put it mildly.) As you yourself opined in Romans 14:3, “Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.” Gluten certainly takes no umbrage at the estimated one out of every 135 people who actually suffers from celiac disease or the euphemistically yet still hatefully named “gluten intolerance.” Gluten has been around long enough to know that you can’t please everyone. No, gluten has no problem with these people. Gluten will tell you who it has a problem with, Lord, and that’s the shameless opportunists who have turned “gluten-free” from a legitimate health mandate into a “lifestyle choice” for no reason other than their own personal gain, preying upon the fear and ignorance of the hitherto gluten-tolerant masses with websites such as (“on a mission to Make Gluten-Free Fabulous “for everyone, everywhere”) and the sudden proliferation of such glossy publications as Gluten-Free Living, Simply Gluten-Free, and Living Without Magazine (a self-defeating title if ever we’ve heard one, as presumably the publishers do not want readers to live without the magazine itself). Gluten knows perfectly well that Exodus 14:14 says, “The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent,” but gluten has been silent for centuries, God, and guess what: it’s not working. Therefore, gracious Lord, gluten would like you to know that it has recently met with an attorney regarding a potential defamation claim. And gluten will tell you something else right now, Lord: it was here long before these gluten haters were born, and it will be here long after they’re gone. Not unlike yourself, O Lord, gluten is here to stay.

[Wendy Brenner is the author of two story collections, "Phone Calls from the Dead" and "Large Animals in Everyday Life," which won the Flannery O'Connor Award. She teaches creative writing at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and is currently completing a book of essays titled "Misfits."]

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  1. Betsy Cawn September 24, 2014

    The headwaters of the Eel River — all of its branches — are in Lake County, not Mendocino County. That said, it’s true that a lack of “water master” function, one that can coordinate and organize the multiple agencies with responsibility for management of increasingly competing interests and purposes, would be very helpful. It would be most helpful if all the downstream users (in Mendocino and Sonoma Counties) would chip in to protect their source water supplies as a hydro-geologic region, with environmental “services” at the pinnacle of priorities for ensuring future health of the natural system that benefits hundreds of thousands of homes, millions of dollars invested in agricultural operations, and the irreplaceable ecosystem that mother nature so graciously created in the forest. “Eco” = home, “logy” = logic. The “common good” is more often about the benefit to people, at the expense of “wildlife” and “natural resources.” Teach your children well . . . .

  2. Sonya Nesch September 24, 2014

    LaRue Kobrin was a founding member in 1992 of Fort Bragg NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness). As my memory moves around those early meetings, I am the only one left, the others have moved away or moved on like LaRue. She was our Treasurer. Each semester LaRue would invite family members and mental health patients to speak to her psychology classes, always lively discussions. She touched many lives and always in the most positive way.

  3. Jim Armstrong September 24, 2014

    An earlier letter says: “The headwaters of the Eel River — all of its branches — are in Lake County, not Mendocino County.”
    I hope no reader here believes that.

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