Press "Enter" to skip to content

Letters (Oct 15, 2014)

* * *


Dear Editor,

I would like to address an article recently written in the AVA by Will Parris [sic] addressing some work of mine referenced in his article. Mr. Parris suggests my referenced article somehow ignores the continuing issues affecting water quality in Clear Lake. Mr. Parris seems to be mixing terminology not recognizing the difference between true alga (green, red,etc) and cyanobacteria. The County of Lake has in fact taken great strides to address sediment entry into Clear Lake. So much so, that since the early 1970s the lake’s water clarity has increased, the result of dramatic reductions in true alga populations, consequently resulting in a “new” dominant, species of cyanobacteria, Lyngbya. This species has long been present in the lake but was never recorded as a dominant, “nuisance” species. Though phosphorous plays a significant part in this organism’s life-cycle, water clarity also seems to be a major contributing factor.

The bloom that Mr. Parris references was Lyngbya and was never recorded as a dominant species until very recently. In any event I invite your readers to review the aforementioned article as well as other information on my web page addressing Clear Lake.


Gregory A. Giusti

U.C. ANR Cooperative Extension

Director — Lake/Mendocino Counties

Will Parrish Replies: Mr. Giusti takes issue with my dredging up of his assertion that Clear Lake's “nuisance algae” problem had been “finally abated,” which he made the year before the current cyanobacteria problem became Lake County's biggest nuisance (politically, as well as environmentally). Mr. Giusti is correct that I failed in my piece to distinguish between algae and cyanobacteria (a distinction that the California Department of Public Health fails to clarify). Cyanobacteria coexists with harmless algae, while sometimes “outcompeting” it for sources of its own nutrients.  I referenced the part of Mr. Giusti's essay in question because it reflects the prevailing thinking among the county's braintrust, whose party line is that increasing clarity proves the lake is getting better, and that is because of all the work that has been done. Mr. Giusti repeats that claim here. Actually, the volume of sediment that continues to wash into the lake (from new hillside vineyards, existing agriculture, previously logged areas of the Mendocino National Forest, squatted pot grows in the national forest, off-road vehicles on Cow Mountain, roads, etc.) is fairly staggering. As I'll explore more next week, the County of Lake and the State of California do little to address most of the biggest sources of that problem because doing so would require going up against powerful interests, most notably the agribusiness sector; most notable among that sector, the grape-based alcohol segment. My piece last week showed that the  general problem is increasingly common throughout the world due to a combination of climate change, agricultural run-off, and wetlands destruction, and that the problem can become more intractable the longer that it goes without being solved (“eutrophic” vs. “hypereutrophic” water bodies).

* * *



Thank you for renewing my gratis subscription. It's really appreciated. Your tales of the city remind me of all I'm missing.

While I'm putting pen to paper I want to mention for whom the bell tolls. It seems not to toll for the elderly or the medically frail.

Off the computer I recently read an article by Paige St. John, "Medical paroles started July 1, 2014." Where? Not here in Vacaville, that's for sure! The elderly with 25 years inside would be getting a hearing by now. Starting October, 2014? No one here has heard anything!

Paige St. John said there were 88 prisoners who met the criteria for elderly parole. Believe me, there are that many in the chow hall here every night!

The rumor going around now is that there are 8,000 inmates with over there maximums in. Most could be released today and would never be in prison again.

The overcrowding still exists with all the problems it causes. But don't release lifers because they're like money in the bank. They cause no trouble and only live for a chance at parole.

That's me for this one, until next time. Respect for all that counts. Big Brian, Whitey and Dave in olefollie.


Bill Keller


* * *



My name is Josh Cole. I'm currently in the Mendocino jail doing a 16 with half term. My release date is January 8, 2015. Recently all over the news and in the papers I've been reading about and hearing about police abusing their power. CHP officer beats a woman in the street. New York police officer chokes to death a man selling cigarettes. Ferguson police officer shoots unarmed man, and so on.

Well, I wrote a "poem" called "No Tears." It's about bad cops, not good cops, bad cops. Let's be real. You've got good cops, bad cops, good guys, bad guys, etc. I sent it to be Ukiah newspaper. It didn't make it.

I was rolled up from medium custody and put in the hole, Max 3, the highest lockdown there is! Why? I don't talk about harming anyone nor does it say I want to. I received no write ups, just thrown in the hole. This is wrong. I write poems. I've written 32 songs and poems since May 2014. I write poems. It's how I release what's inside that I can't get out to others. Please print this so people will know what happened to me and that I believe was unfair. I believe in my heart that my civil rights have been violated. And I need your help to know if they were. When did writing poetry become a crime?

Josh Cole


PS. Please print with this please read my poem with its letter so that people can judge it thank you.

Ed note: No poem was enclosed with this letter.

* * *


Dear Editor,

Did I miss something? Is Mike Sweeney dead?

Thank you.

Ralph Coon


* * *



For years I have been trying to understand why Caltrans leaves projects almost completed, going away and returning sometimes months later to paint stripes, for example, that are the completion. (For months the traffic light stopping traffic on the almost complete bridge across Greenwood Creek on Highway 1 serves to illustrate.) One thought was that the agency simply didn't regard public convenience as relevant or as the reaction of besieged bureaucrats intended to annoy the public that may interfere.

My latest theory has to do with bloated middle management: a manager is only permitted to have x-number of projects on his desk at any given time, so having several almost completed projects means not having to take on a new one. It might also require the department to hire someone new which increases the size of the Department.

Anyone have a better explanation?

Peter Lit


PS. Normally I skip Bruce McEwen's mean-spirited court reporting entirely. I don't like bullies and I consider it wrong to attack essentially defenseless people. But, while reading page 12 of the October 1st issue my eyes drifted to the bottom of column 3 and I was amazed and delighted to see Mr. McEwen exhibit understanding and compassion. One can only hope this is a trend. Of course, it is always “open season” on those who consciously choose to function in the public realm.

Ed Note: Bullying? Mean spirited? Dude! Please. McEwen merely reports what he sees and hears in our stumbling courts, and is the best at it that this County has ever seen. 

* * *


Dear Editor,

I’m voting for Holly Madrigal because she’s energetic, experienced and committed to a safe, prosperous and environmentally sound Mendocino County. Her many years on the Willits City Council give her the knowledge, countywide contacts and experience she needs to wade through government red tape and get things done.

I’m particularly happy that as a supervisor Holly promises to create a countywide water-use policy and plan that guarantees every citizen’s right to clean water. Her commitment to legalizing marijuana will help convert our underground, crime-ridden, black-market cannabis economy into a thriving, taxable industry providing healthy products and good jobs for many. I won’t miss this rare chance to vote for a candidate who has the vision, integrity, and conscience to make a great county even greater. Vote Holly!


Jane Futcher


* * *



Last week’s candidates’ forum for the Mendocino Coast District Hospital showed how out of touch our local physicians are. When asked if the candidates supported Proposition 46 – random drug testing for doctors – all three physicians said no. One stated the need for federal funds to keep the hospital open. None were in favor of program cuts. Ditto for outsourcing. Nobody mentioned the fact that MCDH is bankrupt.

According to a recent report from the Association of Healthcare Philanthropists, community hospitals the size of MCDH raise an average of $1.7 million a year to stay open. A big chunk of that comes from federal grants with strings attached: random drug testing. MCDH has never received a federal grant. According to a decade or so of financial statements, MCDH raises only a quarter million a year to service its $2 million wear-and-tear bill. Which is precisely why it’s broke.

Federal money doesn’t fall out of the sky, doctors. It comes from grant applications. They must be written and tended by professional grant writers. MCDH doesn’t have any. So it's got to be outsourced. The same applies to other forms of fundraising. The average community hospital does that at a cost of $.37 per dollar raised. MCDH’s eleven-year average is $.67. In 2011 it reached $.94. That’s the cost of keeping jobs local. It wasn’t always like this. In 2008, MCDH outsourced a professional fundraising firm. The result? A cost of $.26 per dollar raised. That’s the advantage of outsourcing.

All the polls say that Proposition 46 isn’t likely to pass in the upcoming election. That doesn’t change the fact that drug testing and outsourcing can save MCDH. But only if our local physicians can get in touch with reality.

Scott M. Peterson


* * *


Dear Editor,

Looking at the KZYX Facebook page, I noticed 29 published photos from the October 11th KZYX Birthday Bash.  Absent were photos of young people and families with children. Absent were Asians and blacks. There were no Native Americans represented at the party and very few Latinos.

A friend of a friend put it another way: "When I drove by a couple of times yesterday, on the sidewalk there seemed to be a high proportion of old, gray-haired, overweight, pigtailed hippie men and miscellaneous silly women in paisley harem pants."

Rich Culbertson
Rich Culbertson

This collection of photos and assorted observations reflects the demographic that is known as KZYX -- middle-aged, white, marginalized, and self-isolated people who want the general community to support “their” radio station and "their" programs, no matter how obscure those programs may be.  This demographic has been encouraged and perpetuated by the current Program Director.

Speaking as someone who worked for years at Nashville Public Radio, WPLN, the programs and programmers at KZYX would not be viable at any other public radio station elsewhere in the United States. As an aside, Nashville’s, WPLN regularly contributes stories of interest to KQED, a sister NPR station.  I have never heard a story generated by KZYX on any other NPR station.

Ask yourself:  How many of the current programs reflect your interests as a subscriber to the station?  What do you really want the station to be?

On Wednesday, KZYX kicks off its Fall Pledge Drive. Before you pledge to KZYX this fall, ask how much of your pledge is earmarked for local news? Five minutes of news for a county as large as Mendocino? Ask how much of your pledge will go into the pockets of the staff who will not disclose their salaries and who will not produce job descriptions, performance evaluations, or work logs? Ask how much of your pledge is earmarked for broadcast equipment that is old and broken, and regularly fails?  How much is budgeted to archive shows and create podcasts? How much is budgeted for a Ukiah studio? KZYX is located in Philo which is not the county seat. Philo's population was 349 at the 2010 census.

Visit the station in person to see how your money isn't being used to maintain a clean, productive and professional office environment. The place is filthy and run down with contaminated faucet water that comes from a cesspool. Talk with the staff about what is important to you and see what kind of response you get.  It's still unclear to many folks what the current General Manager and Program Director actually do. They especially don't recruit and support good talent, while developing new programming that serves the many and not the few.  In other words, if you aren’t like-minded, you will not be a programmer.  The mindset of the Program Director is provincial, controlling, and unprofessional.

What IS clear is that, over the years, the GM and PD have purged good talent who have tried to bring a different point of view, including KC Meadows, Mitch Clogg, Marco McClean, Doug McKenty, Beth Bosk, Johanna Schultz, Sheila Dawn Tracy, King Collins, DJ Sister Yasmin and many others. Norman De Vall and John Sakowicz were most recently purged.

Before becoming a member, think on this fact: The KZYX budget is more than $650,000. The KMEC budget is $17,000. How is that $650,000 at KZYX spent? Too much goes to salaries without factual and documented accountability.  By the way, KMEC has a LONG list of underwriters of the station published on its website.  A list of underwriters is long absent from the KZYX website.

KMEC, 105.1 FM, is Ukiah's own community radio station. It's where Norman De Vall and John Sakowicz both have moved their shows until a change in management at KZYX occurs.

Please, before you give to KZYX, ask the GM where your dollars are going.  You deserve to know. Until you do know, support KMEC.

M Kathryn Massey, KZYX Members for Change


* * *



Speak for himself, Bruce! “Sako, unaware the mike was on, shouted the f-word out of exasperation for the show being repeatedly cut off.” Well, Bruce, the show was not cut off, neither once nor repeatedly. And the program host is the person responsible for the microphone. So who, but Sakowicz, should have been aware that the mic was on? You are confused, Bruce. Don't get exasperated. If you're over there yelling "FUCK!" in the AVA office, I'm happy to be distanced from your irrepressible compulsions.

Gordon Black


Ed reply: You've been doing this for years, Gordo, relaying whichever version of events whatever management “team” hands you. I know we all get old and pathetic, but most of us at least have enjoyed interludes of relative independence. Pardon me for asking, but how many sets of kneepads have you gone through over the years? BTW, did Donovan make it to the 25th? I hope for your sake he did. You must have been positively vibrating at the possibility. PS. I can't help but note your obvious excitement at writing the vulgarity in caps, and with an exclamation point yet. I'm worried about you old boy. I know you've always been prone to these Tourettes-like fits. I hear, though, the new Alzheimer's meds can do wonders. Please see a medical professional before you go off like this again. It really won't do.

* * *


Esteemed Editor:

Bill Seekins' article on the Albion Branch of the Northwest Pacific Railroad was a wonderful reconstruction of the Valley's industrial past.  It also brought back so many memories of walks and conversations up and down the gulches with the likes of Bill Witherell, Donald Pardini, Bob Glover, Alvy Price, Loren Bloyd, Samand Marguerite Avery, so many others from the Iteville community.The whole era was a remarkable achievement in ambitious industrial engineering supported by intelligence, experience, bravado and little formal education.Bill's account of the line from Albion over Keene Summit to Wendling (Navarro), Christine (Guntly Ranch), and up and over Mill Creek  has a few holes in it I'll try to fill in.I think I know about all the logging rail spurs off the mainline from Keen Summit to Mill Creek, but not when they were built.  Were they builit all at once or piecemeal as demand arose?  Bill's comment about Southern Pacific rail construction in Mexico in the 1920s could be a clue to answering the question.Between Wendling and Christine I think there were in fact three spurs but I can't attach a date to their installation.  One went up Fern Gulch at the south end of town.  The gulch starts east, then twists southerly and finishes on a flat at the north end of the Ingram Ranch, latterly called Horse Haven, now grapes.  It was said by Glover the rail hands used to stage flatcars at the end of the spur, load them, then use gravity and the handbrakes to roll the cars into the mill site.  Challenging, occasionally catastrophic, according to Glover.Then there was the Perry Gulch branch, straight to the west end of the Ranch half a mile back from the River.  There was a summer logging camp back there in 1927 and '28, according to Glover, Loren Bloyd, Alvy Price, Bill Witherell.  I know Perry Gulch,  my farm, formerly Colson/Guntly/Ingram, was logged then, as I can still see the stationary steam yarder skidding cable tracks heading off the hill down into Perry Gulch.The most ambitious spur, though, was the one into Floodgate Creek.  It went down Floodgate on Floodgate Ranch owned by the Sawyer Family to, I believe, within a quarter mile of the River, but also had a spur into an unnamed creek running north through Sawyer into Ingram Ranch flat, my place.  When I first settled here in 1971, I could still find on the 3 acre flat, among the enormous tree stumps  an occasional tie or railspike.  Crossing the property line south into Floodgate Ranch today, I can still find pieces of the graded rail right-of-way and an occasional bridge timber (I hope).  This spur enabled clear cutting Floodgate and Gschwend ranches, some of the southern Pacific land along the River along with Ingram.More spectacular though was the reverse track to the Floodgate spur.  After entering it, trains backed uphill east under the mainline trestle, another story, into Peat Pasture Gulch on Guntly Ranch near where Sharon Sullivan lives in the Holmes subdivision.  This spur transported logging from both Bacchi and Guntly ranches on up to at least Meyer Gulch, Glover told me, if not higher up.That's enough letter column space occupancy for today.  I'd like to write more about the rail/milltown culture between Navarro and Albion at another time and after reading a few more time's Bill's wonderful article and its sources.But, wait, one more fact.  I am sure Glover and others told me that the line up Mill Creek all the way to Camp Seven was an entirely separate system.  That is, it was  narrow gauged and the locomotives were small cog-driven devices called shays designed for steep terrain and tight curves.  Redwood trestle foundation pillars for this line still exist in lower Mill Creek.  I think I found some evidence of spur right-of-way in the creek's North Fork north of the Hayward Scott/Nash Mill site. Thanks again, Bill, for your article.

Brad Wiley



  1. mark October 16, 2014

    Re: Boycott KZYX Fund Drive

    Kudos to Kathryn Massey for saying it like it is not only at KZYX, but at the Bay Area ‘public’ radio venues that I’m familiar with.

  2. John Sakowicz October 21, 2014

    KMUD has a good business model. Participatory. Inclusive.

    KMEC, in Ukiah, has a good business model. All volunteer. No salaries. Very low expenses. A budget of only $17,000 compared with KZYX’s bloated budget of over $650,000.

    Since it founding 25 years ago, KZYX has sucked millions and millions of dollars from the public with almost no transparency or accountability.

    KZYX is a jobs program for the five people who work there — lazy, mostly stupid, otherwise unemployable people, which is why they desperately fight disclosure, fight participation in decision making, fight change, fight for their jobs.

    Specificallyy, here are just some of the things that are wrong about “your public radio station”::

    1. Secret salaries at KZYX — no public disclosure whatsoever.

    2. Misappropriated $10,000 escrowed for a Ukiah studio; it was spent on salaries — criminal

    3. Financial statements reported three different ways in the executive director’s report, the audit, and the station’s tax returns — totally wacky.

    4. GM John Coate’s raise of 10 per cent taken at precisely the time Mendocino County employees were getting a 10 per cent pay cut — shameful.

    5. Little to no budget allocated for aging, failing, Korean War-era broadcast towers and equipment — unacceptable.

    6. No job descriptions, performance evaluations, or work logs — unacceptable.

    7. Purges of station critics and even the merely curious — unethical and actionable in court.

    8. Dictatorial control over programming by Program Director Mary Aigner who has been at the station since its founding, 25 years ago — Aigner’s “entitlement” is not the public radio model.

    All of the above is factual, my friends. You would never run any business this way, much less a non-profit business — which is why the FCC and CPB are both taking citizen complaints seriously.

    If necessary, some of us are also willing to go to court to remove Coate and Aigner, and to save KZYX from itself. We want a truly public radio station back here in Mendocino County. We want our station back.

    Right now, KZYX is a broken radio.

    • Mitch Clogg October 22, 2014

      John, it’s too bad you have cut yourself off at the knees by being an unreliable witness, an unreliable observer, a liar, imposter and thief, both hither and yon, for a long, long time.

      I say this is too bad because your letter is clear and passionately fearless. I mostly agree.

      The trouble is, truth, to you, is a quality something has or doesn’t, depending on the intentions of the source. It is optional.

      Well, John, that’s not how it is. If you work in any public sector, including critic, observer, commentator, you’re expected to hold the truth inviolable. Your character does not permit you to do that. Your character impels you to do what is most expedient for you, whether true or false.

      Too bad, John. You’d be an asset to your community. Instead, you’re a threat.

Leave a Reply

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