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Letters to the Editor


To the Editor:

On January 28th at about 2:15pm I was taking a shower. About 15 minutes later there was a loud pounding at my front door. I heard some yelling from men. I said, “wait just a minute.”

As I came down the hall, into the front room there were four men in my house yelling at me to sit down and shut up or they would handcuff me and throw me in jail.

I asked one officer for a warrant. He said, “It's on the way.” Another officer added by saying he would tear up my house. I asked to see the warrant again. They said again for the second time, “It's on its way.” I asked again, “Where is the warrant?” And the officer pointed at his badge and said, “This is all I need.” I reached to see his badge number because I can't see without my glasses. He slapped my hand away and hit my left shoulder above my heart. Then I fell back into the chair. I asked the other officers if they saw the officer hit me on my shoulder. They all said, “No. I didn't see anything.”

I felt pain in my left shoulder. I then explained that I have a dissection of the aortic valve. I then asked for an ambulance. The officer said, “You want an ambulance? You call one.” I said, “I can't see without my glasses.” Then the officer finally called an ambulance for me.

When fire/rescue got there they checked my pulse and heart rate and told me I needed to go to the emergency room. The ambulance arrived and also agreed with going to the emergency room.

I refused to go because the Major Crimes Task Force was still in my house and had already threatened to trash my house. I waited until they left to take my blood pressure medication to bring it down at about 7pm.

I called the Sheriff's Department about 7:30pm to file a complaint but they told me I would have to file it with the commander of the Task Force because the Task Force is under the State of California. When I called to complain about the task force he said I should see a lawyer.

My husband took my blood pressure at 10pm. It was 177/102. The medication did not help to bring it down so we went to the emergency room at 10:20pm. A doctor at the emergency room increased my medication from 20mg to 40mg and advised me to see my doctor. I left the emergency room at 1am.

I swear on my children's life and will take a lie detector test to show that I'm telling the truth of all the events that took place in my home.

I will be seeking an attorney for damages of stress, mistreatment, putting my life at risk because of my heart condition, fear of being alone not knowing if the task force can come again at any time, also treating me like a common criminal, embarrassment, and finally, no warrant was ever served.

I would please like a response in the matter concerning all the events, being treated as if I was a criminal by our so called “to protect and serve, Mendocino County Task Force.”

Jenilu E. Diaz

Redwood Valley



Dear AVA,

I am trying to locate Steve and Wendy Black. They used to live in Rancho Navarro. Anybody who knows how to get ahold of Steve and Wendy Black please contact me at 895-2804.


Brian Blumberg





“Until fairly recently, the coastal region of islands, marshes, blessed rivers and oak shaded roads has seen relatively little change. But now change is widespread often overwhelming and sometimes devastating.” — the National Trust For Historic Preservation

Yours, save the trees and plant more please.

Diana Vance


PS. Liebenstraum is German for living space.



It’s been six weeks since the laser transurethral prostate “procedure” (TURP) that I wrote about last week. I’ve quit complaining. Now I piss like a champ and only get up once a night. I’ve forgiven the cocky young urologist prick who reamed me with a green light laser and put me in so much penile pain, which I'm now free of.

There has been one side affect that the doctor didn't tell me about before the surgery but my wife's not complaining. The juice from my prostate more often than not shoots into my bladder instead of exiting the other end of the urethra. It eventually comes out when I take a piss, and the first time it was a surprise. Just thought I'd let you old guys know the rest of the story re: TURP.


John Wester

San Diego




On Politicking and Campaigns

A recent ListServ kerfuffle over “low-road” campaign tactics calls for a reminder that campaigns have a purpose and elections have consequences.

The upcoming (June 8th) election isn’t “Reality TV.” The campaigns currently underway aren’t for our entertainment. They’re not popularity contests. If we write them off as political sideshows, we do so at our peril.

At their best, campaigns stimulate discussion. They allow voters and candidates to know one another and explore key issues before Election Day. With government in turmoil at all levels, this is no time to take the process lightly.

Elections are our chance to choose leaders with the ability and courage to effectively manage scarce resources and enact policies that will enhance our community's economy while protecting the environment. Campaigns allow us to assess which candidates possess essential problem-solving, analytic and communication skills. Who will see the big picture and thoroughly study issues of local importance? Which contenders are committed to the public good rather than political or personal interests? Who will listen respectfully and focus differing viewpoints on common ground? Who will collaborate effectively with other local, state and federal officials and with the private sector, on which job recovery depends.

Before you check out of the electoral process, please consider the choice before us. We can inform ourselves, elect the best local government possible and then stay engaged to move our county forward. Or, we can allow the process to become further politicized and ego-driven, fall for the snappiest sound bytes, and accept a continued slide into the politics-dominated abyss.

Wendy Roberts,

Candidate for Fifth District Supervisor





I sometimes hear because I am not praising the military that I am not supporting the troops. My supporting the troops is writing to bring them all home — now! I was against getting involved in this war even before we invaded Iraq. Especially when I see a policeman or fireman getting killed there and hundreds of police or firemen honoring them with great publicity.

When one of our dead servicemen return, the government doesn’t want the press to photograph and publicize this carnage. Let me explain why I do not have great admiration for the Army generals who I am sure are the main reason for prolonging this war.

Back in 1943 when I had reached the tender age of 18, I got this letter from the president of the United States saying, “Greetings,” and then some words to the effect that he wanted me to enter the Armed Forces to settle his squabble with Adolph and Japan’s Tojo. Then he said, Incidentally, if you don’t join you go to jail.

Having never been in jail and the free soul that I am, I agreed to be drafted. Once in the Army I found there is a great similarity to being in jail. They told me when to go to bed and when to get up, what to wear and what not to wear, eat what’s on the menu, or nothing. They drastically limited what I could say.

I first went into anti-aircraft artillery. Big guns to shoot down bombers. On D-Day my outfit was in Boston Harbor ready to ship out when the news came of the Allies landing and everything was put on hold. A week later we were to ship out again. In the physical they found a hernia and I went to the hospital. After the hospital I was sent to Camp Stewart in Georgia.

When the Germans attacked in the Battle of the Bulge with huge loses to our military, they needed more cannon fodder, bad. Since the German and Japanese bombers were pretty well wiped out they turned all us anti-aircraft soldiers into infantry. They put me and other soldiers on an airplane and flew us home for a three-day furlough. Then on a train to New York and gave me a sea voyage on the most glamorous ship afloat, the Queen Elizabeth — me and 15,000 other guys. Four days later after turning every six minutes to avoid submarines, so they said, and two more days, I was on the front lines with the 7th Armored Division.

I was a private in the Army who was nothing, and a 1st Class Private rank is a smidgen above nothing which I was, as they bestow this rank on a soldier after a year if he doesn’t’ completely screw up. I was handed a machine gun which I knew nothing about with another soldier who had survived the onslaught at the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge who also knew nothing about a machine gun. But one would have to be pretty dense not to figure you where to put the ammunition in, how to pull the trigger and don’t stand in front of it.

Some time after we crossed the Rhine River my squad (about 12 guys) was crossing a valley. The other gunner, Lyle, and I were put on an open hill where we could see the whole valley. The rest of the squad jumped into a drainage ditch. I could see the German bunker and I started firing at them. Then they started firing at me and Lyle. Fortunately they kept firing above us. If one had hit below us the shrapnel would preclude this letter from happening. It was like a couple of cowboys in a gun duel. The only thing that wasn’t fair was they had a wall in front of them.

After a time they quit firing and the squad got up and ran out. When we came down from the hill a tanker who had been watching with binoculars told us we had knocked out the German 20mm and he was recommending us for a medal. I don’t think we knocked out anything. They had a pretty good wall in front of them, but we certainly saved a lot of casualties.

Now I am not a hero. What else could we do with our squad in the ditch and the 20mm shooting down at them from another hill? I always said I would rather be a live coward than a dead hero. That’s the last I heard of about that.

When I got home my mother had this letter from California Governor Earl Warren saying he had received a letter from the 7th Armored Division General about the 7th and especially of my record. I presumed it was a form letter until some years later I read where General Marshall, the highest General over the war, gave all the other generals a scolding because all of the medals were coming home with officers. Long ago I had surmised that my medal had journeyed home with some officer.

So I wrote for my service record. The Army has two records of a soldier, a medical record and another record that tells everything he had done and where he has been. The medical records I got. They said that they did not have the service records and that they were probably burned up in a big fire in the St. Louis records building in the 1970s.

This raised my suspicions, not just for me but for all the other possible thousands of cases of fraud. General Marshall would not have said anything of it were only a few. He would have dealt with it individually. I am sure there were some officers close by when we were in action but in three and a half months I never saw one.

General Marshall had a conscience which is rare in Generals. Remember, he started the Marshall plan to reconstruct Europe.

I sent Senator Feinstein a letter with a copy of Governor Warren’s letter and got my Bronze Star which has never really gone over big in the way I got it.

When I was with the Army of Occupation for a short time after the war before being shipped home I was stationed in Salzburg, Austria. Salzburg is a beautiful resort city and although being in the middle of the war, it suffered no damage. At this time the General in charge had his residence in a castle in the middle of Salzburg with his guests. There was very little Army routine. I thought, What a nice guy this General was. We had been through hell during the war and he was treating us good for our service.

We had simple duties with an apartment in town. We seldom saw any officers. We just looked at the bulletin board and did whatever duty for that day. Many years after I got out of the Army, I read in a newspaper where they were going after this General who after the war had looted trains that were returning plunder that Hitler had taken from Eastern Europe. Salzburg was the main stop before the Russian zone. Austria was split up as was Germany into the Allies’ zone and the Russian zone. I read this one article and that was it. How this became public, I don’t know. But it was quickly covered up.

Oh yeah, what a nice guy this General was.

Then there was the frozen feet of mine and thousands of other infantry guys which they acknowledged 40 years later.

There are many shabby things the Army did and does, but this present war is the ultimate pits. Besides the destruction of human lives, it’s helping to bankrupt the Country. If a General can’t win a war with the greatest arsenal in the world, he should be fired and another put in immediately. We have a habit of praising Generals who are miserable failures. Again, one of my favorite words, “accountability.”

The way to win this war is to get out.

Emil Rossi





It's always nice when your opponents work in overdrive to prove your point as you did in regard to the great overuse of “Nazi” by libs when they are losing the argument.

Willits is not a people but a town and it may well be a failed town at that. We have many failed cities in the USA including DC, Oakland, Richmond (CA & VA), St. Louis, Detroit, Newark, New Orleans, Cleveland, East St. Louis, Gary, Indiana, ad nauseum and they all have one basic common denominator. Do I have to spell it out for you ? There are many failed states in Africa and that means failed people. In Asia the Kurds are a failed people, ergo the Pakistanis, Afghanis, etc.

I agree that your tribe has a serious alcohol problem but we Objectivists champion your right to drink. Rand's first US vote was for FDR in 1932 for his anti-Prohibition stand and also as a protest against the six years of Republican statism that she witnessed since coming here in 1926.

Yes, the Scots-Irish (Scotch is a drink) have many faults but they are not a failed people in the absolute sense the Haitians are. We Jews have our faults. Our occupation of Palestine could be more benevolent. Though compared to any Arab state Israel is like advanced libertarianism.

We are overrepresented in the high IQ ranks and among the Objectivists.

Ooops, got off the track here, I was supposed to be talking about our faults, not virtues. Our main fault is that we live like Episcopalians but vote like Puerto Ricans.

By the way, Atlas Shrugged has been translated into Hebrew and is a best seller in Israel. Maybe there is a God after all and her name is Ayn Rand. Actually Rand was the first normal person and that's what her heroes are, not “supermen.”

George Gilder's “The Israel Test” demonstrates that Israel is now on an Objectivist like path and repudiating its earlier tribal statism-collectivism. Bibi is going to translate deregulation into Hebrew. Rahm Emanuel is an admirer of Rand and he is an incredible success story. Rahm was right to label libs pushing for socialized medicine as effing retards, Palin took offense because she is a retard herself. Actually she is Dan Quayle in drag. In 2004 Leonard Peikoff endorsed Kerry and in 2006 urged all Objectivists to vote the straight Demo ticket. I'm only voting for Meg because she is a pro-choice RINO (Republican In Name Only.)

What better books do you guys read, Barbara Cartland ? No book has ever sold in the billions, not even the Unholy Bible.

Lots more of you? Hmmm. How many votes did P&F or the Greens get ever? The electoral years 1966-2004 don't tell us of a leftist surge and neither does 2009-2010 to date. Thank god Rahm picked so many Blue Doggers in 06 or otherwise we'd have a GOP rout for sure this year and we don't need those Fundie nuts back in. Europe is a total failure with double digit unemployment rates decades before they came here. The New Deal was a total failure too. Read John T. Flynn, Jim Powell, Amity Shlaes and others. Greece is just the tip of the iceberg for the failed welfare police states of Europe.

You know that a 15 year old woman who looks 17 is not a child and you also know that she wasn't raped. You also know that as a senior you are protected under California's homestead law from having your home seized in a libel suit. You are probably judgment proof anyway and you are lucky that as an Objectivist-libertarian I oppose all libel and slander laws. As Justice Black said No law means no law in regard to the First, so you are free to libel people as rapists, advocates of rape and murderers without fear of consequences. I could get one of my nasty fellow loinsmen lawyers on you but I'm content to let your Goyisher persona stew in its own juices. Tell Doug Roycroft that if he could translate his rant into coherence I'll respond.

Al Blue


PS. Ayn Rand refuted the whole premise of FDR's 1944 Economic Bill Of Rights in “Man's Rights,” in The Virtue Of Selfishness. No one has any right to goods or services produced by others because such a right would make the producers slaves to the needs of the recipients. So there is no right to food, shelter, education, housing, medical care or anything else that is not free in nature. You only have the right to produce it yourself or to negotiate with the producers. I spent some time in Scandinavia years ago and the tax bite ranged from 50-90%. Since the Social Dummycrats have been ousted in several elections and the rates lowered though still high. There was much admiration in Scandinaviafor the Nazis as Hitler was regarded as a progressive for his Keynesian economics, public works spending, social welfare programs, anti-smoking campaigns, gun control and general high state regulation of all business. Sounds familiar, eh ? Which is why you old lefties use the “Nazi” smear on Rand because it fits you all too well. By the way, the leftist Berkeley Daily Planet is ceasing print publication this month. I suggested in a letter that they just published this week that they emulate the tactics of The Other Big Bruce of the SFBG and try to use the state to shut down their opponents. So much for your leftist tide, Mr. Editor.

Ed note: We're pulling the plug this week on Al Blue's evil opinions, but we'll give him the last word. No point in free space for the fascisti when they have whole galaxies of cyber-space all to themselves.



Dear Editor:

Sarah Palin, Queen of the airheads, never ceases to amaze. She spoke recently to a cheering crowd of neanderthals aka Tea Party. Although it is the same old tired speech, she apparently needs a prompter for the key phrases (?). However, she solves the problem by writing crib notes on the palms of her hands just like some school kid. I often have wondered why she attended so many colleges.

Perhaps, just perhaps, her school kid trick of crib notes on the palms didn't fly in schools of higher learning. I like lots of humor in my politics and I certainly hope the Republicans nominate her for president. Can you just imagine the Queen of the airheads on the campaign trail trying to deal with all the wieghty issues a president must face. Now that would be hilarious.

In peace,

James G. Updegraff





Fred Gardner, AVA February 10, 2010, ‘For Howard Zinn,’ writes: “They [meaning Howard Zinn and Fiorello LaGuardia] both spent their lives speaking for people whose voices hardly got heard.”

How apropos, thought I, because I remembered the story (told by Howard Zinn, himself, in his autobiography) about how he met his wife. A shy army buddy of Mr. Zinn's received last minute orders to deploy and asked Howard to do him a favor: Deliver a message to a woman he had recently met and become enamored of. Howard Sin (pun intended) seduced her and made her his wife.

Happy Belated Valentine's Day,

Susie de Castro

Fort Bragg




On February 8, 2009, I received a phone call telling me my nephew, Aaron Vargas, had been arrested for killing Darrell McNeill. Of course my first response was disbelief followed by shock and more disbelief. Not possible, not Aaron. Aaron is kind, gentle, and caring. Then of course came the “why”? If what I’m being told is true, then why? What could possibly make this kind, gentle, caring person kill?

It is now February 10, 2010 and that is one of the questions I’ve been thinking about for 367 days. As the story has unfolded the answers to some questions have been immensely devastating. I learned that Darrell was a pedophile. Pedophile is the wrong word, let me rephrase, Darrell raped children. Darrell pretended to be a good father to Aaron’s friend, Michael. Darrell pretended to be a nice neighbor. Darrell pretended to be an upstanding citizen, a “Big Brother,” a Boy Scout leader. Darrell pretended to care for children in order to prey upon them. Darrell, who cared so much for his “little brother,” was the cause of that “little brother’s” eventual suicide. Darrell began molesting — no, molesting is the wrong word — Darrell began raping Aaron when Aaron was eleven years old. Eleven. Take a moment to remember yourself at eleven. What were you like? What did you think? How did you feel? At eleven did you have much life experience? Aaron was eleven, Darrell was in his forties. Aaron was not Darrell’s first victim, nor was he his last.

Darrell was good at what he did.

After Aaron’s arrest many boys came forward in support of Aaron, telling of the abuse they’d endured by Darrell. In some instances it was the first time they’d ‘told’. In others it was not, they had told before, some had reported it to the police. These boys, I call them boys but they are now men in their thirties and forties, were brave enough to disclose and nothing was done. No investigation — Darrell wasn’t even approached let alone questioned. Nothing.

The days and weeks following Aaron’s arrest were days and weeks of our family continually asking ourselves, “how did we not know?” How was it possible that we had failed Aaron so miserably? The continual conversations with each of us saying, “I should have known.” Why didn’t we? Why didn’t we see it? Why didn’t we know? Seeing the pain and sadness in Aaron’s parents, in my parents, and knowing the heartbreak and despair we all felt at not doing our job, not protecting our loved one. These haunting questions led me to research child abuse and the things I learned broke my heart yet again. I learned that the abuser is most likely to be a trusted family friend or a family member. I learned one in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before the age of 18. That 70% of child abusers have between one and nine victims. That 20% have 10 to 40 victims. That an average serial abuser can have as many as 400 victims. That over 30% of victims never disclose the experience to ANYONE, and of those who do disclose, 75% do it accidentally. Is there comfort in knowing that our family is not alone in not knowing? No. None at all.

Learning these things and realizing the “stranger danger” that I taught my children would be of little use in most situations led to my panicked phone call to my son, who is away at Graduate school. Asking him point blank, “Have you ever been sexually abused?” A sigh of relief when he responded that he hadn’t, the surprise when he asked me the same question. Thinking yes, he is right, according to the statistics it needs to be a conversation that everyone has no matter parent or child. Then remembering that 30% never disclose leads me to ask again and again to ensure that his response was truthful.

Later it hit me, what if he had said yes? What if my daughter had said yes? What if the answer had been yes, and a friend or family member that I loved and trusted was named, what would I do? In that moment I knew. In that moment I realized that I could kill. Me, a person who has never intentionally killed anything, not even bugs. Me, the person who catches and releases any insects I find in my home. Me, the law-abiding, rational person I thought myself to be, realized that I could kill.

I don’t know exactly what happened the night of February 8, 2009. From what I do know Aaron didn’t go to Darrell’s with the intent of killing him. But if he had I now understand. I understand it is possible for a good person to kill.

In these last 367 days some questions have been answered, but many others have arisen. Why didn’t the police investigate? How is it possible that we as a society allow one in four girls and one in six boys to be sexually abused? How could the Deputy DA on Aaron’s case even utter the words describing the abuse testimony as “self-serving” and “irrelevant”? Why are there so many abusers in our society? How does a person become so messed up that they can rape children? Why does our justice system not work? Why is the DA so intent on sending Aaron to prison for 50-years-to-life, knowing Darrell’s family is supporting him? How do we stop all forms of child abuse? How do we protect every child?

During these 367 days Aaron’s sister, Mindy, has been tirelessly working on his behalf. She started a website called, which provides information on Aaron’s case and on recognizing and preventing child abuse. She’s contacted numerous media organizations trying to get the word out, and she has organized several fundraisers. She’s told me of the many, many people who’ve contacted her and shared their own stories of abuse and who write to Aaron. Tirelessly she is working to bring her brother home, to raise awareness, to protect every child. She is working hard to end the silence of child abuse, and I wonder, why aren’t we all?

Rhonda Wilson

Fort Bragg




It is with great pleasure and excitement that I announce my intention to run for another term to represent the diverse generations of men, women and children of the Third District of Mendocino County.

The near future brings financial challenges that are unprecedented.

I believe I am more experienced and qualified to meet these challenges.

I value all my constituents’ interests, questions, concerns, opinions and issues that effect Mendocino County, especially all the people who reside in Branscomb, Covelo, Laytonville, Willits and the vast outlying areas within the Third District.

My successes in identifying a water supply and moving it forward, creating taxpayer savings in garbage issues, my commitment of better roads, following the progress with the Willits Bypass and initiating the studies for a second Brooktrails Access Route are just a few of the projects that need close attention.

As my grandchildren are 6th generation in Mendocino County my interests and heart are totally invested in the future of this County.

Thank you to everyone for letting me serve as your Third District Supervisor and I would greatly appreciate your continued support and vote on June 8th 2010.


John Pinches





The Feb. 10 issue has some deja vu for me. First, there's the matter of “Al Blue” and the reaction. You may recall a series of columns I did on my jousts with obtuse right wing ideologues in an internet forum called ThirdAge Daily Vent. If not for that experience I'd have dismissed Al Blue as a cruel parody. But no, it really is that bad out there. Of course I am sheltered, having only a single republican as a personal acquaintance, and that is only because he married a dear old friend of mine. He came to my daughter's wedding, what can I say except that he and I do not discuss politics.

Jim Gibbons postulates that obesity in children is a form, or rather a symptom, of child abuse. This makes sense, and I would suggest that the American right-wing mentality is also such an indication. These people are first and foremost — let's face it — mean and selfish, they love guns and believe in wholesale punishment for vast segments of the population. It's the old “Hey, my father beat me and look how fine I turned out.” Yeah, look. The Al Blues of America dismiss the populations of whole countries as “lesser” or “failed.” The sin of Not Being American.

I came to realize that many if not most hard core right-wingers lack a real sense of identity and so invest their egos in, and Pledge Allegiance to the Flag of, the United States of America. So when you question anything about the country, they have no choice but to take it personally.

The other item of interest is John Wester's TURP story. I too am a TURP veteran, but I had the more primitive roto-rooter job. My story is a bit more grisly and I took a lot longer to heal, as well as having some very unpleasant peripheral procedures that Wester does not mention. My question, if any, is how many medical horror stories would fly in the AVA. The power-tool drill-out of my prostate was merely the first act.

Scant months later I was diagnosed with 4th stage cancer of the throat. My radiation experience (the maximum dose anyone ever gets, I was told) defies description almost as much as the nightmare of severe methamphetamine addiction. Maybe one of the nurses down in the Frankenstein Basement where they kept the science fiction death-ray machines (linear accelerators) put it best: near the end of the “treatment” (a lovely euphemism), when I had lost almost 20 of my 137 pounds, and was a walking cadaver with second-degree burn blisters all over my neck, this woman asked, “Have you ever played in rock bands?” I replied that I had and still do. She replied, “I thought so, you have the look.”

Jeff Costello

Mill Valley



Editor Blue:

OK now you've gone too far, “Al.” First you have Mr. Blue referring to my last name as “nazi”-sounding) — and then saying that “liberals” use the nazi smear just like Stalin! In the same letter! Too far over the line — nobody could be that dense, even an Ayn Rand fan. Better dial it back a bit if you want those letters to remain halfway believable.

Steve Heilig

(which, translated, means…

Oh, anyone can look it up if they care/can)

San Francisco




I thought you should know:

Recently I was in a local hangar down in San Jose, talking to some friends, I overheard a strange story.

It sounded apropos to your stories in Valley people about the missing icon.

It appears that a visitor had gotten permission to land his small plane at the AV airport in Boonville and was coming in for landing. Although line of site was clear, it was full moon night and there were lots of puffy storm clouds blowing quickly across the sky. It was crisp, but a little creepy evening. At least that is what the pilot buddy said. Everything was going normal, but just as the plane was coming to the strip about 20 feet off the ground, the pilot spotted a small man in a white aviation suit running across the runway trailing a guitar. The pilot aborted his landing and actually pulled up his Cessna and flew back to the city.

The experience thoroughly unnerved him and he decided it was some sort of omen of bad luck for this visit to Boonville. The guy telling the story said there was an odd detail about the white clothed man, he appeared to be black but not totally.

The story ended with gross chuckles, guffaws and back slapping as if it was a joke. The storyteller, bent a little at his audience misunderstanding his story, had one parting comment. My pilot friend who told me the story doesn't know how to tell a joke. He is a straight shooter, hardly laughs at a joke either. He works for the IRS.

Fred Shearing

San Jose




Your recent article about PTSD is a powerful piece. I know the cheerleaders for war domestically are always reminding you how tough they are by telling you they can put up with the horrors of war inflicted on others for our supposed benefit. Those questioning the need for and value of the destruction are seen as traitors not “supporting the troops” rather than someone engaged enough to try to make sure ours would not put in harm’s way needlessly and that others were not killed recklessly and without serious consideration of the consequences.

My friend's son was with Marines 1/5 for the fall of Baghdad. Upon his return, I asked him what his experience was like over there. The first words out of his mouth to me were, “We killed people for no reason.” His father later explained that he was ordered to “light up” a vehicle heading towards his checkpoint at speed. He did and was sent to examine the vehicle after they had disabled it. It was filled with women and children; dead, or wounded and screaming in anguish. He had to tend to the wounded that he had just shot up. He seems OK, but no one with any feelings can go through that and not be scarred. He would have made the Marines his career, but he learned that the political leadership that put them there was corrupt.

Bill Buttrey

Los Angeles




This is the first time I have written to the AVA. Although a lot of stories and articles have stimulated a response, it has not manifested into a response to write you. Good reading material though. My response I suppose is actually news, although I am wondering if I had one too many glasses of wine or perhaps, the impact of a moist night in a dark town where maybe bright lighters should not go.

It was a Thursday evening. I had a glass of pinot and listened to the jazz jam at Lauren's Restaurant. They were taking a break at 11pm, so I left and was strolling slowly down towards the Pic’n’Pay to get some juice for my morning. I have been house sitting at a friends; enjoying a little break in your splendid valley. As I passed the closed lodge, a colorful array of lights caught the corner of my eye, like the lights that sometimes come out of the AV Grange when a Latino party is underway. It was late, there was no one around and I thought it odd, although the lights were dull, but it drew my attention into the darkened dining area of the closed restaurant/bar.

There on the right was a small white jump suit clad man with a large black belt; holding a microphone and belting out some song that sounded like “Hound Dog.” He was about 4 foot tall and had tall white collars, black pompadour styled hair and was a strange darker hew of skin. Not quite black. I raised both of my fist to rub my eyes and peered again. It was the strangest thing, he was gyrating, but not smoothly but like Pinocchio, angular motions and then I realized it must be that statue you have been talking about.

The strangest part is that there appeared to be crowd that was raving opposite him, drinking bottles of Bud Lite, Coors and wearing baseball caps. I could smell beer in the air. I crept closer to the window cupped my hands to peer in more clearly and then the whole scene disappeared and I was peering into a black hole. I heard someone mumbling in Spanish near by, “Gringo loco..” and sort of started like I was just waking up from a trance. The blood had drained from my face and I was feeling light headed, but not drunk. I turned with a sheepish grin on my face, nodding foolishly to the Mexicanos.

As I moved towards the store, I wondered if I should report this to the Sheriff’s dept or the guy behind the counter of the Pick and Pay, but decided to just get the juice and go. I figured the Sheriff would think I was a crank and the Pick and Pay guy would just nod his head and note the hour, another crazy. When I left the two Mexicans cast a stare at me and mumbled something that I did not understand. Uncomfortably, I moved quickly across the street and down Lambert lane towards my friends home.

I had very odd dreams that night about the King and what he might be now; doing rap songs with his old tunes or hip hop versions in a glitzy casino and then as my mind left the casino and it was in Redwood valley. You know, I know that Anderson Valley has had lots of news worthy people in it, some well perhaps not model citizens that many would like to forget, but Elvis?

I feel relief sharing this. Perhaps it was the mix of good pinot, whinny steel guitar and a winter’s night. It was such a strange experience and I wondered if the Lodge had been vacated somehow to accommodate this lost icon…

I’m back in the city now. Thought you might want to know about this.


Roger Stein




To My Fellow Concerned Citizens:

Now is a the perfect opportunity to seize the initiative. The CEO system has failed us. The CEO arrangement tends to accumulate too much power in too few hands, leaving the Board of Supervisors disconnected from the mechanics of day to day governance. The costs of the CEO system are exorbitant when the past two CEOs, Ball and Mitchell immediately added additional staff at high salaries. They placed another layer of administration between Department heads and policy makers on the Board of Supervisors and made it more difficult for the Supervisors to determine what were the problems, where were departments under-performing, and finding out from the workers themselves how they felt changes, reforms and economies could best be made.

If the past is any guide to future performance, the BOS is likely to futz around for months before they recruit another CEO or decide to revert to the CAO structure that served the county for a much longer period. We recommend that a Citizens Panel be set up, independent of the Board of Supervisors, and selected by the citizens themselves to study all aspects of the question, hold public meetings to discuss their ideas and receive input, and prepare a report.within a few months recommending changes to the structure, if they determine they are necessary, and suggesting a procedure for finding a new Chief of Government, whether CEO or CAO.

We have many citizens qualified to serve on such a committee: Here are a few with much to offer:

Dave Smith — owner of Mulligan Books and former CEO of a most successful corporation; Mark Scaramella — a trained management specialist and journalist for the AVA; K.C. Meadows — Editor of the Ukiah Daily Journal; Dotty Coplen, Attends all BOS meetings and knows where the bodies are buried; Janie Sheppard — lawyer and local activist; Joe Louis Wildman — local political wonk; Cliff Paulin — attorney, environmentalist.

Tasks they might undertake: 1. CAO versus CEO: the legal ramifications; 2. CAO vs CEO: the track record in the 58 counties of California; 3. What do management specialists have to say about the two alternative structures? 4. Which system is likely to encourage the best performance from employees? 5. Are our Supervisors capable of taking on the added burdens a CAO might entail? 6. Will we need smarter and better trained Supervisors under the CAO system? 7. Should the CAO focus first upon fiscal management?

Let’s organize and get this study started.

Jim Houle

Redwood Valley




Recently it has been brought to my attention that an email from Doug Copp, titled “Triangle of Life,” is making its rounds again on the Internet. This message originally distributed on July 14, 2000, remains the same. Its content has been reviewed by the US Geological Survey and the Federal Emergency Management Agency for concurrence.

“Drop, Cover, and Hold On” is CORRECT, accurate, and APPROPRIATE for use in the United States for Earthquake safety. Mr. Copp's assertions in his message that everyone is always crushed if they get under something is incorrect.

In July 14, 2000 (updated on August 25, 2004) we wrote in response to this original email:

The American Red Cross has become aware of a challenge to the earthquake safety advice “Drop, Cover, and Hold On.” This is according to information from Mr. Doug Copp, the Rescue Chief and Disaster Manager of American Rescue Team International (a private company not affiliated with the US Government or other agency.) He says that going underneath objects during an earthquake [as in children being told to get under their desks at school] is very dangerous, and fatal should the building collapse in a strong earthquake. He also states that “everyone who gets under a doorway when a building collapses is killed.” He further states that “if you are in bed when an earthquake happens, to roll out of bed next to it,” and he also says that “If an earthquake happens while you are watching television and you cannot easily escape by getting out the door or window, then lie down and curl up in the fetal position next to a sofa, or large chair.”

These recommendations are inaccurate for application in the United States and inconsistent with information developed through earthquake research. Mr. Copp based his statements on observations of damage to buildings after an earthquake in Turkey. It is like “apples and oranges” to compare building construction standards, techniques, engineering principles, and construction materials between Turkey and the United States.

We at the American Red Cross have studied the research on the topic of earthquake safety for many years. We have benefited from extensive research done by the California Office of Emergency Services, California Seismic Safety Commission, professional and academic research organizations, and emergency management agencies, who have also studied the recommendation to “drop, cover, and hold on!” during the shaking of an earthquake.

Personally, I have also benefited from those who preceded me in doing earthquake education in California since the Field Act was passed in 1933.

What the claims made by Mr. Copp of ARTI, Inc., do not seem to distinguish is that the recommendation to “drop, cover, and hold on!” is a US-based recommendation based on US Building Codes and construction standards. Much research in the United States has confirmed that “Drop, Cover, and Hold On!” has saved lives in the United States. Engineering researchers have demonstrated that very few buildings collapse or “pancake” in the US as they might do in other countries. Using a website to show one picture of one US building that had a partial collapse after a major quake in an area with thousands of buildings that did not collapse during the same quake is inappropriate and misleading.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which collects data on injuries and deaths from all reportable causes in the US, as well as data from three University-based studies performed after the Loma Prieta (September, 1989) and Northridge (January, 1994) earthquakes in California, the following data are indicated:

Loma Prieta: 63 deaths, approximately 3,700 people were injured. Most injuries happened as a result of the collapse of the Cypress Street section of I-880 in Oakland.

Northridge: 57 deaths, 1,500 serious injuries. Most injuries were from falls caused by people trying to get out of their homes, or serious cuts and broken bones when people ran, barefooted, over broken glass (the earthquake happened in the early morning on a federal holiday when many people were still in bed.)

There were millions of people in each of these earthquake-affected areas, and of those millions, many of them reported to have “dropped, covered, and held on” during the shaking of the earthquake. Therefore, we contend that “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” indeed SAVED lives, not killed people. Because the research continues to demonstrate that, in the US, “Drop, Cover, and Hold On!” works, the American Red Cross remains behind that recommendation. It is the simplest, it is reliable, and the easiest method to teach people, including children.

The American Red Cross has not recommended to use a doorway for earthquake protection for more than a decade. The problem is that many doorways are not built into the structural integrity of a building, and may not offer protection. Also, simply put, doorways are not suitable for more than one person at a time.

The Red Cross, remaining consistent with the information published in “Talking About Disaster: Guide for Standard Messages,” (visit states that if you are in bed when an earthquake happens, to remain there. Rolling out of bed may lead to being injured by debris on the floor next to the bed. If you have done a good job of earthquake mitigation (that is, removing pictures or mirrors that could fall on a bed; anchoring tall bedroom furniture to wall studs, and the like), then you are safer to stay in bed rather than roll out of it during the shaking of an earthquake.

Also, the Red Cross strongly advises not try to move (that is, escape) during the shaking of an earthquake. The more and the longer distance that someone tries to move, the more likely they are to become injured by falling or flying debris, or by tripping, falling, or getting cut by damaged floors, walls, and items in the path of escape.

Identifying potential “void areas” and planning on using them for earthquake protection is more difficult to teach, and hard to remember for people who are not educated in earthquake engineering principles. The Red Cross is not saying that identifying potential voids is wrong or inappropriate. What we are saying is that “Drop, Cover, and Hold On!” is NOT wrong — in the United States.

The American Red Cross, being a US-based organization, does not extend its recommendations to apply in other countries. What works here may not work elsewhere, so there is no dispute that the “void identification method” or the “Triangle of Life” may indeed be the best thing to teach in other countries where the risk of building collapse, even in moderate earthquakes, is great.


Rocky Lopes, PhD

Manager, Community Disaster Education

Preparedness Department

American Red Cross National Headquarters

Washington DC 202-303-8805




Fast Eddie eases in real slow

Talking a mile a minute--

Laughing, letting people know

He’s putting his life in it--

Building trust ‘til he can show

The world how far his word can go.

* * *

Eddie drove 18-wheelers for his father since he was 18, carrying produce from the Central Valley to states along the Canadian border. He’s 45, tattooed, 5’10, 220 pounds of muscle and respectful attitude. His father once had a fleet of 20 diesels, down to 6 these days and Eddie doesn’t work for him anymore. Eddie was wild, and his father didn’t help. He’d take Eddie to bars and show him how to fight--or sling, as Eddie calls it. Eventually Eddie got into all the trucker drugs--every which way--lost his trucking job and to support his habit turned to B&E and got caught for burglary. He did time in Corcoran State Prison. He said he was bench pressing close to 400 pounds before they took the weights away. He later served time in minimum security at Tehachapi for violating parole testing dirty for drugs. Next time would be his 3rd strike. He’s married to the daughter of my late mother-in-law’s best friend. He and his wife life with her mother a few blocks away and occasionally he walks over to smoke and rap. We couldn’t be more different and he does most of the talking. He loves our dogs and they love him, licks and hugs all around. If he could write, he’d have stories that would blow you away.

John Wester

San Diego




In response to Al Blue:

Consensual sex is not possible when indulged with a minor; why do you suppose there are laws protecting minor children? Age 15 does not constitute adulthood, nor can sex with a child be legally considered appropriate. Mr.  Smith was her teacher, who under California law is a mandated reporter (that is, one who must legally report suspected child abuse), not indulge in it.

This girl's teacher had an obligation to uphold the law, not exploit a kid. One would assume he would have had greater insight, perspective and impulse control than a child 23 years younger.

Tthat's my objective reasoning, not your wishful thinking, Al.

It's exactly your type of “thinking” which causes our children to be at risk to sexual predators. Until you get out of denial, I worry for all children.

Elizabeth Ryan

Fort Bragg



Dear Editor:

Time to answer questions

Thanks to Michael Anderson of the Farm Bureau, and also to Wendy Pollitz, Antonia Andrade and Ted Stephens for their recent columns in the Ukiah Daily Journal. “Mendocino County's debt still in shadow” and “County's debt a serious problem” paint a grim picture of the county’s finances.

Financial analyst John Dickerson’s latest “Your Public Money” email broadside is titled “Mendocino County Debt: Time to Act.”

I agree that it’s time to get answers. Officials who deny that Mendocino County's debt is a problem must explain why, in language “easily understandable by the public.” Dickerson says Mendocino County residents have more debt per person than any county in California. That needs some explaining, too.

Yes, let’s set up “a committee of qualified citizens along with appropriate staff and two Supervisors to determine the best way to solve this crisis and create a sustainable budget for the future,” and with meetings held in public. One of my platform planks in my campaign for Third District supervisor is: “Include public input on the current fiscal crisis: Mendocino County deserves a more democratic approach and participatory budgeting that fosters local buy-in for the difficult choices ahead.”

But will a committee be enough?

UDJ Sunday View columnist Mark Scaramella joins the Farm Bureau in a call for implementing what he describes as “basic management reporting and information systems” not in use in county government today, but Scaramella goes further to suggest a citizens audit of larger county departments, using what he calls “tiger teams” of “local retirees and volunteers to scrutinize each departmental budget and provide clear information and recommendations.” Citizen auditors charged with evaluating specific departments could be a good idea: who gets to choose the “tigers”? is one question, and will qualified citizens step forward? is another.

I’m attending Thursday’s meeting of the executive office’s Retirement Health Benefits Committee, and I hope other concerned citizens and candidates will join me.

Holly Madrigal, member Willits City Council

Candidate for 3rd District Supervisor


One Comment

  1. Rocky Lopes February 22, 2010

    While the information about the “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” earthquake safety advice reproduced here is consistent with what I wrote in October, 2004, it appears here as if I am writing to the “editor” very recently. I did not write to you and I find it inappropriate that you reproduced the October, 2004, information as if I wrote it recently, and also as if I am still employed by the American Red Cross. I left the Red Cross in November, 2004, to do other things.

    I suggest next time before you print “letters to the editor” that you check with the source to make sure it is he who is actually submitting it, and not someone else acting in my name. I never authorized anyone to re-release the October, 2004, information, even though it remains accurate in content, it implies that I am still with the Red Cross, when I am not.


    Rocky Lopes
    February 22, 2010

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