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Letters (Jun 3, 2015)

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Dear Editor,

There has been for many years talk, on and off, of bringing a water and or septic system to various parts of the Anderson Valley. Some twenty years ago, I was told, if there is no water or septic, and the property is zoned for 1 acre and not 10 or 20, etc, only one residence is allowed (one per 40,000 sq ft). With water, a subdivision may be granted for 3-4 residences (one per 12,000 sq, ft) and with water and septic it's 5-6 (one per 6000 sq. ft). The Planning Department would not automatically grant a request for a subdivision but the possibility of a dramatic change in density should be considered, and a change in property values.

A second issue to consider is the cost of maintenance. Even a leach field doesn't last forever.

At some point, an increase in density results in the need for an enlarged system. In some areas where zoning changes to permit increased density were not forthcoming, granny apartments were added on, some illegally, and some homes had rooms informally turned into rentals for tourists to bring an increase in revenue to the property owner. This put enough stress on the water/septic system to leave little option but to enlarge the water/septic system, at more cost per parcel.

Lastly, any of you remember the kind of funky, artist town Mendocino was before its system was upgraded? Who can afford to live there now?

Because California is in a drought, there is a greater push for water coming from all directions, farm, business, residential, North, South. Next year could be an El Nino year with lots of rain, but the drought will be back. In the last 40 years there has been a dramatic increase in the population density of the Anderson Valley. If there is not enough water, and the septic systems are too close to the wells, maybe a redistribution in density is the direction to go.


Nancy Mayer


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The following is a response to the editorial printed on the opinion page of the May 14, 2015 issue of the Fort Bragg Advocate News:

As previously stated by many residents and merchants of the City of Fort Bragg, the proposal to use the Old Coast Hotel for mental health services and transitional housing is not in the best interests of either the citizens and merchants of the City of Fort Bragg or the City itself. A major concern is the manner in which a majority of the governing board of our city decided to go forward with the project. Virtually every opponent to the project believes that the process was not transparent and was not done with sufficient input from the residents and citizens who will bear the brunt of an ill-conceived project.

No one is seriously objecting to humanitarian efforts to help those unfortunate enough to be caught in the cycle of poverty, substance abuse, homelessness and mental illness. We simply feel that the objectives can be fulfilled at another location such that the adverse impact on citizens and merchant will be minimized.

Unfortunately, Mayor Dave Turner has taken the position that he knows what is best for the City of Fort Bragg, its residents and merchants. While it is true that our form of government is a republic and most decisions are made by our elected representatives, those representatives do not operate in a vacuum. It is the responsibility of the citizenry to voice their opinion on the issues of the day. It is the obligation of their elected representatives to listen and to consider the opinions of their constituents. If little or no opinions are expressed, we impliedly consent that our elected representatives will act in our best interest. But when the people stand up and express their opinions, we expect our elected representatives to seriously consider that as an important factor in coming to their decisions. We do not believe that occurred in this case. Nor do we believe that it occurs own a consistent basis. We believe that Mayor Turner, for one, had already made up his mind well in advance of notice to the public that the proposal was being considered. Mayor Turner, following the City Council meeting of January 26, 2015, already had a written statement justifying his decision to ignore the overwhelming opposition to the project. Unfortunately, there is only one method that law abiding citizens have to rein in a rogue politician. That method is through the use of the ballot, either by recall or regularly scheduled elecitons.

It is indeed unfortunate that the recall petition of Mayor Turner will result in the expenditure of taxpayer funds. However, a strong argument can be made that the majority of our city council did not seem concerned about the expenditure of perhaps 2-3 times that amount to purchase and install movable window blinds in one or more government buildings, particularly Town Hall where most meetings are held in the evening. This is a waste of our tax dollars. Have our government officials become too lazy to manually adjust the blinds? This is just one example of our city government's willingness to raid public money while our infrastructure crumbles. That money could have been better spent repairing some of the pot holes around town, particularly in our ill-maintained alleys.

The decision to recall Mayor Turner is not based solely on one issue. Any citizen who had the unfortunate experience dealing with the monumental red tape and hurdles placed by the bureaucracy of city government knows that this process is a minefield of regulatory entanglements. However, in this case, every aspect of the project was fast tracked in such a way as to avoid oversight and approval. No other citizens would be given such carte blance treatment at the expense of the residents and merchants.

The issue of whether to approve or reject a project of this scope is one that has engendered a great amount of public concern. In spite of that fact, the city's attorney expressed her opinion that the City Council did not need approval of the residents of Fort Bragg to go forth with the project. The citizens are the ones who pay her fees for such representation, yet get no consideration for what is in their best interest or the best interest of the City of Fort Bragg. One can't help but wonder whether a local attorney hired to advise the board would have taken such a myopic position.

In closing, we do not particularly care whether the Fort Bragg Advocate News is convinced that our position on the issue of the Old Coast Hotel project or the recall of Mayor Turner is appropriate. Fortunately, the ultimate decision to recall Mayor Turner will be in the hands of the voters.


Judy Valadao, Marissa Colombi, Annette Reynolds

Fort Bragg

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Re: A Specific or Two

Dear Mark Scaramella,

I assume it was you who wrote the Ed Reply to my letter printed in the May 27 Letters to the Editor, primarily because I don't think Bruce attends all the county Board of Supervisors and Fort Bragg City Council meetings.

You'd like a "specific or two"? Recall the brouhaha raised at the City Council meeting over (former) Police Chief Scott Mayberry's name having been removed from the door at the Poilce Department? Remember the buckets of vitriol spewed in the chamber on that — and a subsequent — occasion? Aimed at the Council members and towards the City Manager especially?

I do remember those incidents. After reading about the first one, I drove to the Fort Bragg Police Department to see first hand what all the fuss was about. Approaching the glass front door entrance, on the left-hand side of the glass wall, in gold letters (like the kind of signage one sees at high-end lawyers and investment offices), I read, "Fort Bragg Police Department" and, underneath this in a slightly smaller gold font, "Scott Mayberry, Chief."

Imagine my surprise. Where was the "disrespect" so many at the City Council meeting had so vehemently alluded to? I went inside and spoke to the clerk. I asked her if their was another sign I'd missed. She excused herself and, upon returning, invited me to follow her down the hallway, where she pointed out a small, engraved plastic 2 inch by 6 inch plaque with the name of the (then) Acting Chief. She explained that the Acting Chief had served in that capacity before and so when he resumed the position he brought in his old name plaque and replaced Chief Mayberry's small plastic name plaque by the door. "He also had one for the desk and replaced that one, too." she offered.

That was all there was to it, dear Editor. Later that day, I went on-line and viewed the video of the City Council meeting where the Council and City Manager had been so passionately castigated for their gross disrespect. Sorry, Editor, the two pieces simply did not match.

Another specific? What I've read — in your paper and in the Advocate News — amounts to little more than the Fort Bragg City Council and the city staff simply doing their jobs. Before I became — in your words — an, "infallible, muy cool, hustling, arrogant active Democrat without any visible ability" — I was a pre-law college student with an emphasis in political science, where I learned that a responsible government — at any level — hires qualified, competent personnel to carry out the policies and programs they (the Council) have determined to be in the best interests of the general public they serve. In order to accomplish this, staff has to make decisions and submit recommendations to the governing Board, which then makes a decision. It seems to me that this is precisely what has occurred — even in the case of the old Coast Hotel, which, while perhaps not popular with some, was clearly made in a public meeting and which certainly does not rise to an impeachable offense.

As for my reference to the Koch Brothers' interest in all this, it is no secret Koch Industries owns Georgia Pacific. The disposition of the old mill property — which I recall comprises about a third of the land in the City of Fort Bragg — represents a huge potential financial windfall for them, but, more importantly, could (and should) serve as the basis for the revitalization of Fort Bragg and its economy.

As such, the very last thing the Koch interests want is a government that has the spine and ability to bend the Koch interests towards those which benefit the city as a whole, which is exactly what the Fort Bragg City Council has done thus far and will continue in the future — maybe. The vital elements necessary to accomplish this adaptive re-use of the GP land are 1) a local government with vision and spine and, 2) a City staff with the knowledge and expertise to carry that vision out.

Fortunately, Fort Bragg currently has both. Before serving as Fort Bragg's City Manager, she served as the city's Director of Planning. Before that, she was Mendocino County's Chief Coastal Planner. Before that, she was a county Planning Commissioner. Her knowledge, experience and expertise in coastal planning matters is unparallelled. As such, she is an obstacle to those — like the Koch Brothers and other real estate interests in the Fort Bragg area — who would follow a get-rich-fast approach to the future disposition of the development of this property.

If you cannot appreciate that the real fight is not about Dave Turner — with whom I do not always agree (the proposed Transfer Station being one) — but who has evinced over his years on the Council a genuine care and concern for the future of the City. The real fight is over who the City Manager is, whose knowledge and backbone is matched by her dedication to the welfare and genuine progress of the people and the city.

That's why I wish Roanne Withers were still here, so she could enlighten you to how grotesquely Fort Bragg was misgoverned during the bad-old-days. Believe me, the folks who are orchestrating Dave Turner's recall are after the City Manager's job. The "people" are being manipulated by the same interests that ruled prior to the clean-sweep City Council campaign Roanne organized.

As for your paper's swirling in other tangential issues, they only obfuscate and fail to elucidate the core issues in play here.

On a personal note, I know you spent your early career in the military. I spent my high school years in a southern military academy. So I appreciate we have an approximately similar background and, perhaps, training. Nevertheless, I'd like to clear up a few erroneous assumptions you've made — and continue to make — about me. Your characterization of my being an "active Mendo Democrat" translating to "not only infallible but muy cool" is not only a gratuitous slur but bone-headed wrong. I am a Democrat because, being fallible, I recognize that others are too. I've never been an "insider", more of an outlier; "hustler"? — Really? Specifically? "Arrogance"? I am the most humble person I know. "any visible ability"? Did you see the Coast mailer I crafted for Dan Hamburg's 2010 5th District Supervisor campaign? That was my baby. Did the job, eh? (And have you ever seen any of my theatre lighting designs?).

Finally, I don't drink white wine and am supporting Bernie Sanders for the Democratic Party Presidential nomination.

Go Figure.


Lee Edmundson, Mendocino

ED REPLY: It seems, Lee, you've forgotten the second part of Hem's dictum: Write drunk, edit sober.

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As the former owner of a successful business in Mendocino County, I never received so much as a thin dime of public subsidy from the County. Indeed, I had to pay many County fees just to open my doors. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining, this is the way it should be in a free market economy.

Yet, there is one industry in our County that seems to think that it is entitled to a public subsidy, and that is the ranching industry. Currently Mendocino County has a contract with the USDA Wildlife Service for $142,356.00 to kill wild animals that are just trying to earn a living in their natural habitats which have been overrun by ranchers and their livestock. In 2012 alone, 459 wild animals were killed including 126 coyotes, 25 bears, 6 bobcats and 5 mountain lions. In essence, for the benefit of a few private ranchers, the public is being fleeced to pay for the slaughter of wild animals that belong to the public trust.

This is wrong on both economic and ecologic grounds. There are much more effective and less costly – non-lethal – predator control methods that ranchers could use to protect their livestock, so in effect, most of these wild animals are being killed needlessly. The County's contract with Wildlife Services is coming up for renewal, and the ranchers – those icons of rugged individualism – are whining loudly, demanding the continuation of their public subsidy. I urge everyone who cares about wildlife to contact your County Supervisor and ask that they terminate the Wildlife Services contract (

Just say NO to killing our wildlife for welfare ranchers.


Jon Spitz


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Dear Editor and Fellow AVAers,

In his final years, Pascal suffered continual maladies during which he wrote, "Sickness is the natural state of Christians. One hour's pain is a better teacher than all the philosophers put together. I would wish 100 times that if a God sustains nature it would reveal him without ambiguity. The heart has its reasons which reason does not know. How shall we redeem this obscene slaughter called history except by believing that God will right all wrongs in the end? Belief is a wise wager, what harm will come to you if you gamble on its truth and it proves false?"

Baffled and buffeted, Pascal recognizes that his intellect is no match for the universe and that faith gives pardon to pain. "The grandeur of man is great in that he knows himself to be miserable. He knows that he is dying." And that because death begins with birth, he reads the AVA.


Diana Dead Tree with more timber Vance,


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Dear Skunktown Don:

I enjoyed reading your letter (5/13) regarding us Irish/Slav half-breeds. I trust you and the missus are doing well. My belated condolences for the Cal Trans freeway viaduct that, without warning, up and keeled over a while back. Makes me wonder what happened to the poor foreman who oversaw that particular fiasco. Maybe they promoted him to full bird Colonel: there’s cost and then there’s the plus.

To quote Aristotle, rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated. My heart’s fine and I’m about as healthy as a broke down old mule put out to salad bar pasture and brought in every night to keep me all safe and comfy. If ever I do need heart surgery, or hafta face some other kind of Major Medical Procedure, I’m gonna ask how much money it’ll cost my family to hopefully make me drop dead of a heart attack. Remember that old Tennessee Ernie song: “St. Peter don’t yaw call me ‘cause I can’t go, I owe ma soul to dah H…M…OOOOOO.”

On the bright side, there’s no evidence of a Celtic invasion—much less a conquest—of Ireland. But that doesn’t mean the Celts didn’t have an impact via trade and what they call “cultural diffusion.” Like, whether or not there were any real live Mexicans in Willets back in 1970, I know there were eateries serving burritos. And if a Mexican came up from Oaxaca and sampled the burritos, he’d likely be impressed: lotsa real beef, interesting flavors, nice texture and color. But was it a real burrito like he got back home? Fat chance.

What’s Mulligan stew or Hungarian goulash, cowboy pizza, Hawaiian chili dogs, kosher chop suey, Louisiana sushi, vegan BBQ? Reminds me: if So. Cal’s taco burgers weren’t invented in my beloved district of El Lay, we sure enough helped make taco burgers world famous. Why right here in little old backward Prineville at Taco Time (think Taco Bell for poor folk) they serve taco burgers. They ain’t on the menu but they keep X-Lg sesame seed hamburger buns in stock for when some customer comes in with a hankering for some authentic Western cuisine.

Maybe 20 years ago I drove up to Willets to fetch Buckhorn Bob out of Howard hospital. He was famished and we caught lunch at nearby a pizza joint. The waitress brought us a big-assed pie and—I was shocked and appalled—it had been carpet-bombed with cheddar cheese. While I’d never imagined I’d ever see such a thing, old Buckhorn he’d been raised up there on the Sacramento River north of Lake Shasta in a town called Dunsmuir and he liked Lumberjack pizzas and thought the cheddar cheese was normal. Cheddar cheese, bacon, hamburger, Jimmy Dean’s original pork sausage, chicken wings—what’s a pizza’s for anyway?

The Danube River is to the European Heartland what the Mississippi is to North America’s. Above the Danube all the rivers run north like a picket fence and they present a major obstacle to mounted barbarian hordes galloping in from the east and bent on plunder. Especially when the local barbarians are massed on the opposite riverbank, jumping up and down and hurling threats and insults at you, your momma and the horses you rode in on.

In 1970, after a couple months spent touring in a VW bus, my lover and I ran out of money in Germany’s Black Forest. Awaiting a wire transfer, we camped outside a city called Freiberg. If, after sampling some of that Black Forest beer, you get up to a ridgetop outside Freiberg and piss toward the west, you’ll be adding sustenance to the mighty Rhine River. Turn around and piss eastward and you’re helping to replenish the Danube, which is called “blue” because its lower reaches are so wide they look like a swath of sky. Best regards, pat

Bruce Patterson,

Prineville, Oregon.

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Dear Jay Williamson,

Earth to Jay, Santa Rosa:

The clearcut is clearly illegal on land, as I clearly wrote, granted to remain in perpetuity in its natural state by the developer of the community of Port Ludlow. Also, the “inherently worthless” bonds to which you refer finance roughly four trillion dollars of education and public services that would otherwise be paid for by taxpayers like you. The only gory detail here is a remedial reading problem. Thanks for your response.

Denis Rouse


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