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Letters (May 20, 2015)

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To the Editor:

Earlier this month members of the Mendocino County Deputy Sheriffs Association agreed to a contract with the County of Mendocino. The agreement includes employee assumption of their portion of future contributions to the retirement system and a 4 percent salary reinstatement credited against a 10 percent reduction imposed by the County five years ago. Loss of the employer retirement subsidy will mean that most employees will not see a penny of the 6 percent “reinstatement” referenced in your article and some, myself included, will actually experience a small reduction in salary. While welcome, the modest 4 percent salary reinstatement will result in our members making less in three years than they were paid nearly ten years earlier. This simple fact is not likely to improve morale or help us address serious recruitment and retention issues. Given the training and experience our members possess and the risks we take, the deputies and staff of the Sheriff’s Office deserve better.

Craig Walker, President,

Mendocino County Deputy Sheriffs Association

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Dear Editor:

On the May 13th Point Arena Board Meeting Agenda under 8.4 it states: Discussion with possible action consideration to approve the Board response to the Grand Jury Report (the Grand Jury Report is included in the Board packet and, the draft Board response will be distributed at the meeting as a hand out).

I happen to stop by the district today (thinking it was Thursday) and wanted to see a copy of the hand out which should, of course, been part of the Board Packet. A Board draft response to the Grand Jury falls under Brown Act Law 54954.2 which means the board should have had this 72 hours prior the the Board Meeting and would also mean this information available to the public 72 hours in advance, if the Board is to be transparent.

A "handout" does not have to be made public 72 hours prior to the meeting and can be presented at the Board Meeting under 54957.5. However, again, I do not believe that a Board draft response to the Grand Jury qualifies this to fall under this Brown Act Law.

Even prior to the response to the Mendocino County Grand Jury this Board is breaking Brown Act Laws!! If this Board had any type of integrity they all should resign immediately or the Superintendent of Mendocino County Office of Education should ask for their resignations!


Suzanne L. Rush, Manchester

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Dear Editor:

Prime Minister Netanyahu had to go with a coalition of five political parties with 61 seats in the 120 member Knesset. A particular troublesome problem was the inclusion of the ultra right "Jewish Home" party and the appointment of its leader, Ayelet Shaked, as Prime Minister. She has been accused of advocating genocide of the Palestinians. As Justice Minister she plays an important part in legislation and appointment of judges and supervision of the judiciary. One can be sure that will be legislation that counters the idea that Israel is an democracy.

This appointment was followed by an announcement that the Vatican is executing a treaty to recognize the State of Palestine. One of the responses was vandalism of a Catholic monastery in Jerusalem by Israelis. Adding to concerns of Israel is the likely action by France to take steps to request the Security Council to approve the State of Palestine as a member state of the United Nations. The United States which the running dog for Israel in the United Nations is trying to persuade France stop its efforts. The United States clearly does not want to exercise its veto.

Finally, adding to the concerns of Israel a aid ship has left Sweden and is to be the first ship in Flotilla III to Gaza. The plan is for other aid ships from other countries to break the illegal blockade of Gaza which is conducted by Israel and Egypt. If Turkey decides to participate in this effort it could could well sent naval and special forces to assist in breaking the blockade. Israel clearly has critical problems but maintaining an apartheid state is difficult.

In peace and love,

Jim Updegraff


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Dear Editor,

The recent article on the County proposal for a Pygmy Forest Preserve perpetuates some misinformation that the Sierra Club is trying to bring to the attention of the public. While the Preserve is in itself a very good idea, and a long time coming, it will not solve the main objection to the proposed Transfer Station site.

The main objection to the proposed site is that undisturbed pygmy forest and bishop pine forest would have to be bulldozed, while within a half mile there are two other sites that are viable and already cleared. There is simply no compelling reason to destroy another site when two good ones are available that offer the same benefits of shorter mileage and less pollution emission.

One site, the Leisure Time RV Park, already is cleared, has power, septic, fencing, and roadways, and is large enough to be separated from neighbors. It has good access to the highway and the owner is a willing seller. Yet this obviously suitable parcel was eliminated before the Draft EIR was even written. In fact, no alternative parcel was even evaluated, given that the old Caspar Transfer Station was eliminated early as being in a neighborhood and south of Hwy 20.

The second parcel, the Regional Park, has an already cleared area of reasonable size and is in City ownership. Although we do not recommend this parcel, it still should have been evaluated in the DEIR. Why were these obvious contenders not included?

We believe that the misconception that the preferred Jackson Demonstration State Forest site would come to the County/City JPA for FREE is the problem. This idea has been repeated in every statement by the County Solid Waste Authority, but does not hold up to examination. The “special authorization” by the Legislature, mentioned in support, does in fact only state that the transfers MAY be made if certain conditions are met. One condition is that the properties be appraised for Fair Market Value and that “(j) The entity acquiring title to the property shall reimburse the state for the difference in the appraised value of the assets that are to be exchanged, if the state is found to be receiving less value, and for reasonable administrative costs incurred to complete the transfer of title.” We understand that there are yet no approved appraisals, so the question of a free swap is still unanswered. In addition, the trees on the State Park land are protected from harvest. These trees become harvestable as part of JDSF timber stock, so is the appraisal for protected trees or timber? The Sierra Club cannot support selling off State Park land or trees for a Transfer Station.

Another problem with the swap is that the Caspar landfill and transfer station are toxic sites. The State Department of General Services has a policy of not accepting any property with toxicity issues. This has yet to be addressed, although inquiries have been made. The local State Parks staff has indicated that they will not accept even an easement without considerable funding for remediation and rehabilitation. So it appears that there really is no such thing as a free lunch.

These and other issues must be addressed in a transparent manner. Appraisals and agreements must be completed before the EIR can be certified, not just bland assurances. The new EIR must evaluate the viable alternatives, and an economic study must explain how a 7,000 person population is going to pay for a $5 million plant in 20 years.

Thank you,

Rixanne Wehren

Chair, Coastal Committee

Mendocino Group, Sierra Club

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It's always amusing to read things like Denis Rouse's account of how he, a bond-holder, and his friend Don, a bond-trader, are “horrified by the sight of a butt-ugly 22-acre clear cut of 200 year old pine trees.” As pieces of paper or computer cloud bits, bonds are inherently worthless. It is what they represent that provides Denis and Don with income. Sometimes they represent ex-forests on the way to becoming stacks of lumber. It is clear that bond-holders and bond-traders are interested in Return On Investment alone, and the gory details are irrelevant.

Yours, Jay Williamson, Santa Rosa

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How is it that in the early 1930s, engineers (without the use of computers) were able to design and build the western span of the Bay Bridge in just a few years? Using foundation-laying techniques that had never been used, in the same salty bay we have today, using the best concrete and metal of the times. Years ago, our fathers brought forth in this bay a new bridge, a bridge that has weathered several earthquakes (most notably in 1989), been struck by a ship in a heavy fog, and stands strong and tall despite the same salty water, ocean tides and rain that have so bedeviled the pathetic new eastern span. It's devolution, baby!

Steve McLin, Walnut Creek

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To the editor,

I am writing this letter to ask you for a complimentary subscription to your newspaper. While I was in the county jail we had someone who was getting a subscription. You may even recognize my name. I have wrote a letter called "Why me, not him?" I believe you coined that title for the first letter I sent you from Lake County Jail. I am working on Part 3 of that letter. I am sure you and your readers will be asking that same question: How the hell did this happen?


Eric von Reneger

San Quentin

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Dear Editor,

Put Flynn Washburne on the payroll. Or maybe give him two free subscriptions.


Stewart Bowen

Suisun Valley

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Dear AVA,

This story is called Flowers Grow From Shit. It's my life story — how I came from the darkness of hell and still became a compassionate human being from the beginning as I remember it until the present day.

My first memory was living in a two-story house in Humboldt County in a town called Hydesville. I remember hearing the smacking sounds of my father hitting my mother and screaming at her as I hid behind the curtains of the living room window. I prayed to my grandma because I had no concept of God. When she was around my father did not hurt me or my mother. I was 2, almost 3 years old. I remember having childhood post traumatic stress disorder. I lay in my bedroom on my bed with my eyes open and hallucinated very vividly. I could hear and see my hallucinations. Although I knew I was just lying on my bed, I saw myself in a large semi-dark room with big blue square tiles on the floor. There were also large potted plants in the corners. In this hallucination, my dad was chasing me in circles trying to hurt or kill me. There were no doors, nowhere to go! His screams filled my head and pierced my ears as if they were really happening. The whole while I was actually lying in my bed on my side with my eyes wide open forming tears. After me and my mom, dad and little brother moved from Hydesville, we moved to my grandma's house in Rio Del. (I didn't mention my brother in Hydesville because somehow I don't remember him, but I know he was around.)

So at my grandma's life was a little better. I used to beg my mom to stop drinking because I would see her fall and hurt herself a lot, and my dad would hit her more when she drank. Then my parents got an apartment in Fortuna, behind Safeway. I remember that was when my sister Darci was born. My dad continued to hurt his family to the point to where my mom left and ended up with a boyfriend. My dad somehow convinced her to get back with him. We then moved to Rio Dell. This time we lived on Elko Street with my grandpa who is no longer with us, and my grandma who is also gone (both on my mom's side — the first grandma I mentioned was my dad's mom). This is when my baby sister Staci was born. After a while we moved to #4 Paint Street in Rio Dell where my parents rented a two bedroom house with four kids, me being the oldest. We had a large backyard and access to an even larger fruit orchard next door. The four of us kids slept on two bunk beds in one room and my parents had their own room. There were pros and cons at this point, although the worst times as well as the best were here in this house. Christmas for my family was usually the good time of the year. My parents bought all of us usually what we wanted and my grandma (my dad's mom) outdid herself for us four kids every year. Literally by Christmas morning we could barely see the tip of the Christmas tree through the immense pile of presents. When I got to the third grade, one day after school two Child Protective Services people came and took me and all three of my siblings to foster care following an incident where my dad was coming down off drugs and threw a stick and hit my sister Darci in the head with it. It busted open her forehand and she was bleeding. I remember it well. CPS put me, my brother Justin, and Darci in a group home in Eureka and my baby sister went to a separate home by herself.  Being the oldest kid, I asked the CPS lady if I could go be with my little sister. They said yes. Staci was living at a woman's house by the name of Denise Moore. When I got there Staci was a wreck. She cried every day, all day, which made me cry a lot. She missed her mom. So did I. Denise hated this. One day she wanted me to wear a sweater that I didn't like, so I declined. She then decided to turn me over to her sister Cindy Moore who was also a foster parent. Cindy Moore was huge and obese. She had other foster children as well who served as her slaves. Every four or five days she would feed me one slice of bread with peanut butter on it. I slept on a bed that my feet would hang off of because I was too big for it. I had only my jeans-jacket, no blanket, no pillow. From the time I woke up to the time I went to bed I had to sit with my nose pressed against the wall in Cindy Moore's room as I starved. One day when she was sleeping I tried to burn her house down. She threatened to kill me, but ended up calling CPS and I ended up at my Aunt Jenny's house which was a huge relief.

Soon after that my dad and mom got back together and we all as a family lived at the house on Painter Street again. My dad quit drugs but was still abusive. When my mom was at work he would beat us. He would sleep for a good portion of the day and when he woke up he would notice that there was food missing from the fridge like cheese and lunchmeat. Then he would flip out. He sent all four of us to our beds. Then he would beat us with a hard rubber thing from our lower back to our butts and down our legs leaving long blue and purple stripes that would raise up welts a half-inch to an inch off the skin and even bleed at times. He did this every hour on the hour until one of us admitted taking the food. Being the oldest and hating to see my younger siblings get hurt so badly I almost always took the blame. Then my dad would stop hurting them and take me to his garage where he lacerated me over and over with whatever he could find. I would jump and scream as he would occasionally get the backs of my hands which were trying to block the blows. All of this would happen only when my mom was not around. When I told my mom, she would drill him. So he would beat me for telling her. Soon I was too scared to tell her. So she thought he had stopped for a while even though he still hurt her. I saw him grab her by her hair, pull her from her seat at the kitchen table, drag her to the living room and slam her head against the wall. My brother would laugh about it so I would beat him for laughing. My brother would beat on my sisters when we were kids and I would protect them and beat on him for it. So it was violence and chaos for most of my life.

What happened next made things even worse. My next-door neighbors had a cat that had a litter of kittens. I was over at their house alone with the cats and out of the blue I started smothering them one by one until they were all dead. I remember feeling power, control, adrenaline, a rush that was unexplainable. All the hate and anger in my young soul was unleashed. Then there were dead bodies. I felt horrible and sad and I knew what I did was wrong. But I did it again and again and again. I eventually stopped purposely killing and would just beat and hit small animals over and over. I felt no love in my life and this was the direct result, to hurt innocent beings. I became addicted to abusing animals. I did it for years. In the moment it felt good, better than any feeling I had ever had. But nine times out of ten the animal would die from my abuse although I didn't mean for it to die. When faced with a dead body I felt like the world's biggest piece of crap. This made me feel suicidal. I felt bad for the animals I was abusing and I felt that if I killed myself it would save them. I was a monster.

It tore at my soul for so long I felt like I could not stop. So the only choice for me was to kill myself. The last time I did this I set the animal free. I told him I was sorry and then set it free. It never did it again. I thought to myself, How could I have been so wicked and evil? Like my father! I knew what beatings were like. How could I do this to another innocent being? That question traumatized me for years. I hated myself. How could I forgive myself? I did not deserve forgiveness. Is there no God? Why did not God stop me from hurting the innocent? Why did God not stop my father from hurting me? The darkness surrounded my life since as far back as I can remember. Yes my life is not all bad, but the bad things that happened traumatized me and scarred my mind and heart.

Today I have as an adult learned to forgive myself and move on. Although I do not believe in religion, I have a fundamental spiritual understanding between the forces of light and darkness! And love and hate. Flowers grow from shit. I came from hell! But through these dark experiences I was able to find the light. From hate I found my inner love, and unconditional love for all of life on the planet, from humans to insects, down to plants. We are all alive. We are all love and compassion! The bad experiences in our lives were meant as lessons from which we are to learn to grow and to become knowledgeable of love and compassion. To learn what not to do is just as important as learning what to do! Darkness exists for a reason. There is a lesson to be learned! There must be contrast to the light. Hate teaches us how and why we should love and of its importance. Acknowledge hate for what it is, use it for what it's worth, then move on to the light. It is a stepping stone only! A stepping stone to love, compassion and wholeness. Don't let it perpetuate in your life, let it transcend your life into a life of light, love and understanding. I hope and pray this for all of you out there suffering from your past darkness. Energy follows attention! Attend your energy to life, to positivity, to love. We are magnets; if we feel and think positive and love and light then positive love and light energy shall fall us. The same with hate and dark. I if we constantly focus on hate, despair, sadness, fear and regret, then those energies will also be pullled to us as we are energy magnets. Focus on life, learn from darkness!

I love all of you and I hope this message gets to those who need it most.

Yours Truly,

Michael Jay Overholt


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