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Letters (Jan 21, 2015)

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Good Afternoon kzyx supporters,

The recent response of the Board of Directors to a request to conduct a membership mailing limiting what may and may not be placed on the mailed envelope is, to my mind, a violation of the First Amendment.

Any attempt to subdue the minority voice must be countered.

While kzyxtalk has enabled a conversation among those who took the time to sign onto the list.serv, it hasn't reached out to the general public.

Therefore today I've anchored to launch our many concerns.

We're now in need of some volunteers to design the website so it can be interactive and allow open conversation between anyone who wishes to express their opinion.

Let's keep the Freedom of Speech open and free.

Norman de Vall


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My brother-in-law, Bob Stone, shuffled off his mortal coil this past Saturday. He was a fine and gentle man; and in his memory, I would like to offer this passage from my favorite book of his, A Flag for Sunrise:

"He had been elected to awareness, and while awareness had its satisfactions, it was not easy to watch all the world's deluded wandering across the battlefield of a long-ago lost war. One had to close the heart to pity--if one could. The truth was a fine thing, but it had to be its own reward."

Dick Whetstone

Fort Bragg

Ed note: Stone was the only writer whose work made me put down whatever else I was reading to read him. If you're unfamiliar with him, start with Dog Soldiers and Damascus Gate, two great books. Stone's Prime Green: Remembering the Sixties is, by far, the best thing written about America's great pivot into chaos. The following is an excerpt from an interview with Stone by the Paris Review:

[On Writing] It’s goddamn hard. Nobody really cares whether you do it or not. You have to make yourself do it. I’m very lazy and I suffer as a result. Of course, when it’s going well there’s nothing in the world like it. But it’s also very lonely. If you do something you’re really pleased with, you’re in the crazy position of being exhilarated all by yourself. I remember finishing one section of Dog Soldiers—the end of Hicks’s walk—in the basement of a college library, working at night, while the rest of the place was closed down, and I staggered out in tears, talking to myself, and ran into a security guard. It’s hard to come down from a high in your work—it’s one of the reasons writers drink. The exhilaration of your work turns into the daily depression of the aftermath. But if you heal that with a lot of Scotch you’re not fit for duty the next day. When I was younger I was able to use hangovers, but now I have to go to bed early.

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Dear Editor:

The GOP's action in rolling back the President's easing of deportation laws regardless of whatever action the Senate takes is a death wish for the GOP's chances in the 2016 Presidential election. The Republicans need to significantly increase its share of Latino voters and this action will ensure the election of a Democrat. Elections are decided by electoral votes and if the GOP which already has lost the African-Americans, Asian/Pacific Islanders and the single women's votes their voters might as well stay home. Elections are won in the six largest states all of which have large minority voters. The only exception is Texas but even in Texas there is a shift towards the Democratic party. Red states like Nebraska, the Dakotas, Montana and Wyoming which have only 3 electoral votes don't amount to a can of beans. In looking at the actions of the GOP one can only say 'stupid is as stupid does'

Jim Updegraff


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‘Not A Real Protest’

I read “BART protest to rally for dropping charges” (SF Chronicle, Jan. 14), here we go again. A BART station shut down, a disruptive throng fouling up the commute, purportedly in the name of a cause. There is certainly some truth in the idea that a certain amount of civil disobedience can shake the public out of its torpor and effectuate worthy change. But lets get real: this is the Bay Area.

This sort of stuff happens all the time, and with the rigidity of a kabuki play and the predictability of the sunrise. It’s getting to the point that the only reaction from a growing number of average citizens has become a jaded “Who cares, will you please get lost?” More and more, it is becoming apparent that a large number of the people who show up in these mobs aren’t interested in the cause, but the choreography. They’re not protesters, they’re street clowns.

Joe DiPietro


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Dear Editor,

North Korea and the United States are engaged in an escalating thermonuclear weapons confrontation, which could escalate into an apocalyptic nuclear war in a hot second, either by accident or intention. That's why US military commanders should take the advice of many analysts, including the editorial writers of The New York Times, and test North Korean intentions in their recent offer to suspend nuclear weapons testing if the US will call off its annual military exercises with South Korea.

The Times editorial on Jan.15 noted that North Korea now is believed to be able to make a dozen massive thermonuclear weapons, and probably has missiles which could put these weapons into high-altitude orbit over the US. North Korea believes it needs a credible nuclear threat to defend its tiny nation against the United States. The two nations are formally at war, and North Korea has threatened nuclear attack against the United States several times.

We and our living environment are all hostages in this pointless and outdated military confrontation. North Korea knows that thermonuclear weapons are the great equalizer. Actual nuclear war would be a catastrophically unfavorable field of battle for the United States, which has a well-known strategy of "full spectrum dominance" of every field of battle in the world.

North Korea is a threat to the US only if the US, with sanctions and aggressive military moves, makes it one. It's time for "full spectrum de-escalation" of conflict with North Korea.

John Lewallen


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Letter to Editor

Regarding Bruce McEwen's piece (AVA, January 14, 2015) concerning legal maneuvers by District Attorney David Eyster as to Judge Clay Brennan, who usually presides in Ten Mile Court, Fort Bragg: While Mr. McEwen wrote quite critically of Judge Brennan regarding a recent day of court hearings in the Ukiah Courthouse, I offer an experience in counterpoint:

About 18 months ago, I was present in Ten Mile Courtroom when Judge Brennan presided in a sentencing hearing. The defendant was an older man who suffered from a mental disturbance and was on government disability. He had clearly experienced a hard life. He was a first-time offender for the crime at hand, and he had, as I recall, plead guilty to possessing internet pornography of underage females. This material had been found during a search of his home by a probation officer.

Judge Brennan spoke eloquently and at length about the ongoing damage to the underage victims in such circumstances. The defendant, in tears, spoke of his remorse and his intent to never engage in such activities again. Judge Brennan noted the possible penalties for this crime, weighing these possibilities against their impact on the defendant's apparently fragile and precarious social/economic circumstances. Judge Brennan noted finally that he did “not want to destroy your life” by imposing overly harsh penalties on the defendant that might throw him into an ongoing life crisis.

Though I don't recall the exact terms of the sentence, the terms set by the judge seemed to me justly stern while not onerous. Judge Brennan ended the hearing with a serious admonition that if the defendant ever came back to court on similar charges, a different approach would be in order.

This hearing of 15-20 minutes was, I felt, a model of considered and conscientious community-based justice. I left Ten Mile Courtroom that day impressed and moved by what I had observed in this matter. It seemed to me — I am a social worker by profession — that justice with a fair balance of measured discipline as well as compassion had been administered by Judge Brennan.

So I offer this experience to you and your readers as a contrast to Mr. McEwen's piece, which I thought contained rather mean-spirited commentary about Judge Brennan. Thanks for allowing me to provide this example of a judge who clearly in this instance honorably and fairly fulfilled his difficult role.

Chuck Dunbar

Fort Bragg

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Happy New Year.

As usual I hope this finds you all in high spirits and good health. First I want to thank you for the newspapers I received. I really enjoy the AVA and pass it along to others who are here from the same area.

As for me, I'm looking forward to 2015. I should be back in Mendocino County for a new trial based on juror misconduct. Juror #9 was asleep two days in a row and I guess that violates my constitutional right to a fair trial.

I received my earliest possible release date by institutional mail on Friday. It's in March! Of 2079! Can you believe that? People molest and harm children and sit in your county jail for six months and get probation, people get away with rape. Even 25 years for cold-blooded murder. But get high, run from the law and fire a gun out the window? Not taking away the seriousness of that or the stupidity, but everyone went home at the end of the day. No one was hurt or damaged. I got 183 years for killing a 2012 Crown Victoria and the guy driving the car got got all charges dismissed for his cooperation with the District Attorney. So he will be out in your community again in less than five years.

My life is far from perfect. As a matter of fact it kind of sucks. All of my "friends, homeboys" who "love my life" no longer exist. I have family who love me and care enough to write, send packages and money every month to make sure my basic needs are met. The good part is I no longer have to put up with the liars and the fake-ass "friends, homeboys" who never really cared — to be honest I probably never cared about them either. But the difference between us is, I can see still look at myself in the mirror and I still sleep pretty good at night. Chris Skaggs may have a release date. But I would rather be me any day.

As always,

Walter "Kris" Miller

High Desert State Prison


Ed note: A comparable offense in, say, England, would get the perp 15 years — max. Our Mendo judges, mostly "liberals," routinely dish out disproportionate sentences, not having the courage to be proportionate.

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To whom this may concern:

A few days ago I was reading the AVA in my cell and I couldn't help but notice the article pertaining to my case. First and foremost I would like to acknowledge that what was said about me are rumors and nothing more. I have an autopsy report and an awful lot of paper to confirm my statement. Freedom of speech I understand. But to be talked down upon by someone who has no idea what they are speaking on or about is way beyond my understanding.

I've been locked down for seven months now for a crime I did not commit. No matter what anyone says about me or my name I'm still going to be me and walk with my head held high. I am a Native who is spiritually connected to my creator. And he is the only one who can judge me. I know there's always going to be someone talking down upon my name. But no matter what I'm still going to be me. I ask you to please print this for it is the truth. I thank you for your time and hope to see this letter in the paper soon.

Jeremy 'Juice' Freeman


Ed note: Mr. Freeman apparently is the only suspect in the murder of Ms. Belle Rodriguez of Covelo. He remains in the County Jail awaiting trial.


  1. Jeff Costello January 21, 2015

    My condolences to Mr. Miller for his disproportionate prison time. However I would like to say that destruction of a Ford Crown Victoria is an unfortunate bit of vandalism. The now-discontinued Crown Vic has a long history of severe duty as cop cars and taxis, and surely must have been more well-built than other American cars. Every once in a while, despite insufficient funds I think about getting one for a cross-continent trip, air travel being more unpleasant than ever.

  2. Lew Rockwell January 27, 2015

    I’m not a Repub but Updegraf’s latest rant makes no sense. Blacks are only 12% of the US and decreasing percentage wise. Most Latins don’t vote. Women are not a monolithic bloc and who the hell won the last Congressional elections ? The GOP, big time.

    Abolish the electoral college and we will end the tyranny of six states controlling the Presidency.

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