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Letters (July 8, 2015)

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Dear Jay,

The Port Ludlow clearcut has been termed unlawful by David Alvarez, Jefferson County (WA) Chief Civil Deputy Prosecutor. The illegal timber harvest took place due to, let’s be polite, a failure of communication between the State Department of Natural Resources that initially granted the harvest plan, and the Jefferson County Zoning Department which specifically forbids such activity within the boundaries of the community of Port Ludlow, also known more definitively as the Port Ludlow Master Planned Resort. Bottom line here is Jefferson County is willing to forego litigation involving substantial fines if the developer agrees to implement and undertake remedial measures including replanting mature native trees, an operation equivalent to the net proceeds obtained from the illegal harvest.

Moving on to municipal bonds which you seem to believe benefit only the rich, on the contrary they provide the state, counties and municipalities with a relatively inexpensive method of financing and improving their infrastructure for the benefit of all residents, and no, these bonds are not repaid by taxes. If a municipality requires a new sewer system it’s not necessarily paid for by taxes but by citizens on a use and pay revenue stream. Schools are funded by ad valorem property taxes paid by community residents. Further, municipal bonds offer smaller communities a low interest method of financing their special needs such as a new fire truck for example. Your reference to “Kids ‘N Dogs Funds” suggests to me your experience has been mainly with mutual funds. Most knowledgeable investors (the rich and the not so rich at all) prefer municipal bonds because they have a stated maturity date unlike mutual funds that can languish in perpetuity.

Kind Regards,

Don Silva

Port Ludlow, Washington

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Last week the Ukiah Daily Journal reported that Mendocino County Health and Human Services Agency has delayed its implementation of Laura’s Law, which was scheduled to begin July 1, citing more time was needed to put the program in place. Over the weekend my family learned that my severely mentally ill cousin had been released from Mendocino County Jail again and is currently homeless in downtown Ukiah. Apparently he is off his medication and is making threats about killing several of my family members and himself. His parents have contacted Ukiah Police Department, Willits Police Department, and Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office and notified them of his threats. Now we are extremely frightened about what may happen before he is locked up again. We are concerned that he may follow up on his threats and actually harm one of us or himself because of the pain he suffers when he is off his medications. For over a year we have been waiting for Laura’s Law to take effect in Mendocino County in hopes that he would get the help he so badly is in need of. Now they have put implementation of the program off until January 2016. My cousin is known to use drugs and alcohol when he is living on the streets and un-medicated. Because of his alcohol and drug use Ortner Management Group (OMG) wants nothing to do with him and refuses to treat him. I expect to see him in the news soon because of all this; he is one of the AVA’s frequent flyers. Hopefully law enforcement will be able to arrest him without violence, we do not want to see him or anyone else harmed. It is so unfortunate that my family’s lives and well being appear to mean nothing to the Health and Human Services Agency that has continuously resisted this program from the start. We are asking everyone to please help us put pressure on the County to start this program immediately.

James Marmon MSW


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Ain’t it fun, growing old and having time, and perspective, to write to old friends? Recently here in Wisconsin I wanted to open a new friend’s eyes to the possibility of home-schooling for a teenage son flunking out of high school who wanted to do nothing but compose electronic music using high-powered software. I recommended the Colfaxes’ book on homeschooling and then, seeing listed their other book I’d never read, “Hard Times in Paradise,” I checked it out of the library and read it for the first time. What memories it brought back!

Turns out the Colfaxes and I came to Anderson Valley within months of each other, in 1973, and lived similar lifestyles, off the grid, with no phone, no electric lights, and a home-made water-delivery system. Our families were both sort of hippie back-to-the-landers in a non-hippie way. But we, and others figuring how to eke out a living, belonged to the bulk-food-buying co-op. I remember the sticky, messy job of trying to somehow ladle out five gallons of honey into one-quart containers for the members! I think maybe we never ordered bulk honey again! But my kids still talk about the 20 pounds of green spaghetti I ordered that had weevils in it but I made them eat it anyhow!

And then have you been in the Valley long enough to remember the Free Clothing Exchange? All of us with kids loved this community idea! As our kids outgrew their clothes, we took clothes and kids to the Exchange in one of the Fairgrounds buildings, where we left the outgrown clothes and tried on and took home the castoffs of our friends and neighbors. It was a wonderful idea, except that just a pile of cast-off clothes became too much of a mess for someone or other, and I guess the use of the building came to an end.

And then I had the additional similarity to that of the Colfaxes. David got blackballed by academia for political activism during the Vietnam War, I got accidentally blackballed by the AVUSD, so couldn’t make a living in the country, as I had always assumed I could. So I eventually had to give up and go back to the Bay Area for well-paid employment.

Now, here in Wisconsin in retirement, I googled all the tourist possibilities listed in that recent Wall Street Journal double page spread! It is a voyeuristic experience, looking at properties where an address is given, (or enough description that you can figure it out on Google Maps). You get a satellite image that goes down to 50 feet magnification, so you can clearly identify your own car in your own yard, if you’re looking at your own property. Looking at other Valley properties is a real eye-opener as to how the Valley population has changed over the past 42 years. No wonder the run-down remains of Tony Delaqua’s homestead on Peachland Road was cheap to buy back in 1970 by comparison with what it is worth today, even though it was not cheap for our two families to agree to go together to make it affordable, and spend the next20 years paying off the mortgage.

Then I checked Thomas Pikety’s book “Capital in the Twenty First Century” out of the library and skimmed over all the economist graphs but started reading when he got interesting, like pointing out that once you have wealth, it keeps on growing without your doing any further work, giving as the example Bill Gates’ net worth multiplying by 10 or 20 times in the 20 years between 1990 and 2010 without his creating any second Microsoft.

Also interesting was Pikety’s warning that our governments, in France, and England, and the US (and others) need to use taxation to stop the trend creating thesuper rich and leaving the rest of society further and further behind.

I’m delighted to read in the AVA and occasionally elsewhere, such as newsletters of the AV Historical Society, and the AV Land Trust, and about the Senior Housing, and Health Center, and Education Foundation and Ambulance news in the AVA, how many of these newcomers to the Valley are volunteering their time and talents to community organizations. But for more sense of where the Valley was before the recent influx of money and the new industries of wine-making and tourism, I suggest they not only attend the AV Historical Society events, but read the Colfaxes’ book for a first-person account of what it was like then so they can appreciate how different it is now.

From becoming-an-old-geezer like you, your old friend geezerette

Briana Burns

Black Earth, Wisconsin

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Dear Editor:

Generally the death penalty is referred to as capital punishment or execution. I would suggest more appropriate terms would be — State Sanctioned Killing or Revenge Killing. Our country purports to be a Christian nation but unlike most other Christian countries we still have the death penalty. I would ask this question of those Christians who support the death penalty: If you profess to be a Christian and you walk in the steps of Jesus how can you justify your support for State Sanctioned Killings (aka Revenge Killings)?

In peace and love,

Jim Updegraff


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More Teeth Required For The Medical Board Of California In The Effort To Control The Methadone/Opiate Prescription Epidemic And Protect The Public Health—

Imagine a Boeing 737 crashing, killing all on board, every day for eight months. The number of dead would equal the yearly death rate in the US from prescription opiate use. The Center for Disease Control has documented over 37,000 deaths per year from narcotic prescriptions. They call this an epidemic.

One way to control the epidemic at its source is to more broadly empower the Medical Board. Presently The Board is only allowed to investigate a physician for overprescribing dangerous drugs if someone files an official complaint form and sends it to The Medical Board. An investigation ensues which may take two years. This is followed by an accusation from the Attorney General. The case may take another year to come to court. During this entire period the physician is able to continue overprescribing without restraint, thus gravely endangering the Public Health.

This threat to Public Health can be reduced in part by allowing the Medical Board to monitor the CURES computer system that records all prescriptions for narcotics every month state wide. Any prescription for the equivalent of over 90 mg of Morphine Sulfate per day should trigger an alert, constituting an immediate threat to Public Health. The involved physician should immediately be investigated, and educated. If the prescribing behavior does not rapidly improve then discipline and restrictions must be placed on the ability to prescribe dangerous drugs. These restrictions may be changed at the court hearing where the physician is granted due process.

Delay means more addiction, and deaths.

Dr. Nayvin Gordon


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To the Editor of the Ukiah Daily Journal:

Thank you for your spot-on June 5, 2015, editorial (Change Needed Fast) highlighting the recent Grand Jury report about Child and Family Services and encouraging active response from the county.

We understand well the need for the county to be fiscally responsible and there is no question that the County is in a stronger financial position today than at the peak of the recession. But at what cost?

What is the purpose of a County government if not to serve all of its population? The Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) is comprised of Mental Health, Public Health and Social Services. There have been and continue to be parts of that agency that struggle, but these organizations used to be innovative and creative. In many cases they employed what were regarded as “best practices” within and outside of our State. Sadly, these days are over.

As close observers of the collapse in quality, we can attest that the County’s top management seemed obsessed with reducing the County workforce and related retirement fund liability at any cost. We experienced or observed a variety of strategies: 10% pay cuts, failure to negotiate in good faith with employee bargaining units, layoffs, hiring freezes, elimination or privatization of services, unrealistic and unmanageable workloads, unnecessary bureaucratization and a culture of disempowerment and intimidation.

In the name of keeping staff low, the County has made it its policy not to pursue grant dollars to augment existing funding sources and provide additional services to its population.

We are part of the wave of employees who chose to voluntarily leave county employment. Choosing to leave was a less than optimal financial decision for each of us. However, the loss of some measure of future financial security was a small price to pay for our peace of mind. We no longer wished to work within an atmosphere that was no longer supportive of either clients or staff. We hope that our names and respected positions in this community will encourage the Board of Supervisors to look closely at the strategies to manage HHSA as well as other County Departments.

Signed (in alphabetical order),

Elaine Boults, B.S. Administrative Services Mgr II,

9.5 years County service

Linda Helland, MPH, CPH, Sr Program Mgr, 14 years

Leslie Kirkpatrick, BA, CS SAC, AODP, Program Director, Supervisor, Sr. Program Mgr, Administrator, 17 years, 7 months

MaryLou Leonard, MPA, Deputy Director,

Sr Program Mgr, Adult & Aging Services, 7 yrs

Kathleen Stone, B.A. Sr Program Mgr, 7 years, (homeless services grants administration)

Cass Taaning, BS, Sr.

Program Specialist, Public Health, 8 years

Ed note: The recent Mendocino Grand Jury report on Family and Children's Services (incorrectly called Child and Family Services by the letter signers) convincingly documents that the current system of children’s services is near collapse and that children are needlessly placed at increased risk of abuse and neglect because of that. The County certainly needs to take immediate steps to increase the education, experience and training level of its child social workers to keep it from getting any worse. But the helping professionals who signed this letter display a bit of an opportunistic flair. Only one of them, for instance, actually worked in children's services, the subject of the Grand Jury report. And all of them, by their own statements, could be considered disgruntled former employees, so it is no surprise they are critical of their former employer. Two, in fact, were being investigated for mismanagement of grant funds when they chose to resign. And all of them seem to reminisce about a golden era when the rest of the state looked to Mendo for creative and innovative leadership, a time few other observers recall. County line staff, the ones doing the real helping work, are underpaid, which is at least partly a function of our poor rural economy on top of the harsh pay cuts the County imposed after the recession which hit line staff particularly hard. Those line workers are often underappreciated — a function of the County’s top heavy and dysfunctional bureaucratic admin structure that promotes people more on friendship and personal loyalty than competency. For this reason, line staff are often unwilling to accept promotions, preferring instead to focus on doing their jobs and providing what help they can to their clients. It is unlikely that increasing pay alone will do much to solve the problems in child welfare (or HHSA) unless something is also done to fix a culture that discourages competent employees from taking promotions. The letter signers became Senior Program Managers during the mythical golden era that only they remember. Which was also before Social Services, Mental Health, and Public Health were merged to become the Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA). We’re not the only ones with criticisms of how that merger was structured, but it brought an unwelcome level of accountability, in particular to Public Health, which has always enjoyed a fairly loose island culture accountable to no one. Not surprisingly, three of the signers are veterans of that Public Health culture who fought the merger and who kept fighting it, even during the implementation stage. In fact, the County has always lagged well behind anything like an optimum level and quality of service, especially in Mental Health, which, for several large reasons, had been declining for decades before it was privatized two years ago. The County needs to hold Ortner Management Group financially and professionally accountable, but we’re cautiously optimistic that their level of mental health services seems to be on the upswing. We agree with the letter signers and the Grand Jury that the County system is overly bureaucratic with a top down management style that discourages competent people from management ranks and stifles creativity and innovation. But this is not new; it has existed before, it existed when these letter signers were County employees, and it will continue to exist as long as Official Mendocino County promotes grant writers, nuzzlebums, and experts in bureaucratic blather to management positions. 

James Marmon adds: Regarding HHSA Collapse.
In defense of the two ladies who were being investigated for mismanagement of grant funds when they chose to resign, they were never charged or convicted of anything. HHSA has a practice of placing employees on Paid Administrative Leave for long periods of time in hopes that they will grow tired of the treatment and resign. While on administrative leave you are not to leave your house for any reason unless you get prior approval from the Agency or Human Resources. They send people to your home to check on you and if you are not at your “assigned work station” you could be terminated. I know this from experience after being placed on 3 months paid administrative leave in 2010. One morning when I showed up to work I was met at my desk by security and escorted out of the building. I was never told exactly why I was placed on Administrative Leave except that I was under investigation. When I was finally ordered to report back to work, I received a letter stating that they had concluded in the investigation that I had been rude and sarcastic to co-workers and management. I was never told of any specifics or incidents, just that I had been rude and sarcastic. I received no discipline, but was transferred from the Ukiah Office to Willits. In 2008, they sat me in a corner cubicle for 2 months with no assignments. I sat there being paid to do nothing. It was humiliating to watch my co-workers struggle with high caseloads and deadlines while I sat and twiddled my thumbs. When HHSA wants to get rid of someone, they make life hard on them. They attempt to embarrass and ostracize them. I don’t blame these ladies for resigning, and I don’t believe the rumors about why they were being investigated. They were forced out.

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Dear AVA:

I was reading your June 10th paper and two letters on page 3 jumped out at me because I can relate to both of them. It was deja vu.

The first one was "Why me, not him III?" At the very end of the story in the second to last paragraph: "The $1,000,000 question: Where in the United States or the State of California Constitution does it state that if you prove you are the victim of an accident or crime you must go to jail and serve time?" It looks as if that rule of law applies in both Mendocino and Lake County alike. I arrived at this conclusion because I find myself in a similar situation. I was the victim of a ripoff. Yet still I was the one who was prosecuted and sentenced to 27 years and eight months because the coward thieves were afraid I would kill them after I figured out they were the ones who ripped me off for 140 pounds of pot valued at $240,000. That's before taxes.

Let me clear the water and be a little more clairvoyant about what transpired in my case. I was hired by some people I've known for the past 40 years to grow municipal [sic - medical?] marijuana for two cannabis clubs down in Southern California. I was given a 38-foot motorhome to live in on 270 acres in Upper Lake way back out in the mountains. When we harvested we hired a gal who had worked for me in the past to help manicure. Sherri Reece. We paid her $200 a pound and she was cleaning two pounds a day. I was giving Sherri four $100 bills every day when she left. She was working six days a week for five weeks. There were only three people who knew where the pot was being stored and two of us were sitting across from each other on Thanksgiving Day. When I got home someone had pushed their way through my gate and drove a quarter mile into the property right to the hidden truck. They had to have had four-foot bolt cutters to cut the two stainless steel American locks.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this out. After I was ripped off Sherri quit coming to work. She wouldn't answer her phone nor the text messages I sent her. She was never at home when I went there even though her car was there. It was as if she had vanished into thin air. When I did finally run across Sherri I guess I scared her and her boyfriend Doug Trimmer whom I never did see so bad they went on the Internet ten days later saying I had kidnapped her, carjacked her, and robbed her. She proclaimed she didn't know me nor did she know where I lived. The problem with that is in 2011 Sherri was dating my roommate and was staying with him at my house three to four nights a week. In October of 2011 I had hired Sherri to clean some pot for me because she was out of work and needed the money.

At the trial Sherri couldn't tell the same story twice. Although when she did answer the District Attorney she was so sure of herself that she went so far to tell the jury the reason she could remember things so vividly was that she had a photographic memory. However, when my attorney Mitchell Hauptman asked her some of the very same questions, Sherri couldn't remember anything. "I don't know. … I can't remember. … It's not real clear." Sherri told the jury I was driving her car and my car at the same time. Mitch asked Sherri who was driving her car and who was driving my car? He asked this question eight or ten different ways and always got the same answer. It was so confusing that Mitch put up a 2' x 3' piece of paper and labeled it: Your car/Charlie's car/your house/the property. Then he asked Sherri, "Who was driving your car, Sherri?"

Sherri: "Charlie was."

Mitch: "Who was driving Charlie's car?"

Cheery: "Charlie was."

Mitch: "When you got to your house who was driving your car?"

Sherri: "Charlie was."

Mitch: "And who was driving Charlie's car?"

Sherri: "Charlie was."

Mitch: "When you went out to the property who drove your car?"

Sherri: "Charlie was."

Mitch: "Then who drove Charlie's car?"

Sherri: "Charlie did."

Mitch: "So if I understand, what you're telling us here is that Charlie drove your car all the way up to the property. Is that correct?"

Sherri: "Yes, he did."

Mitch: "And when you got out to the property Charlie was driving his car, correct?"

Sherri: "Yes, correct."

Mitch asked the very same questions in an array of ways and always came up with the same answer. Charlie was driving both cars. And when we had no more questions for the jury wanted to know who was driving Sherri's car and who was driving Charlie's car?

This is where things became very muddled. When Sherri couldn't answer that question without saying Charlie was driving her car and Charlie was driving his car, the District Attorney stepped in and testified for her. "She's very nervous and confused. What she really means to say is, Charlie was driving her car and Rick was driving Charlie's car."

I was befuddled when the judge allowed the District Attorney to testify on Sherri's behalf giving credence to her fallacies yet failed to give me the opportunity to cross-examine him. Just another example of how crooked the system is in Lake County.

Which brings me to the next letter.

"In f-ing limine." I read this letter with a great deal of interest due to the fact of the name Jon Hopkins. Wasn't he the District Attorney-elect in Lake County in 2006? And if so wasn't he voted out of office due to the fact he tried a man for murder who was the pilot of a sailboat that was moored out in the Lake and run over by the Sheriff's Deputy Jeffrey Marcum? This deputy was in a 35-foot speedboat going so fast he cut right through the center of a sailboat knocking a woman off into the water causing her to drown. Is this the same Jon Hopkins? If it is, my question to Mendocino County would be, "What in the world are you thinking by putting Jon to work in the District Attorney's Office, if this is the same man, he lays down a very bright distinguishable line and persona of us against them. There is no other way to put it.

I have known Jon right at 15 years now and if this is the man, he will lie, cheat and coach his witnesses to lie even perjure themselves so he can score another win. It's not about the truth with prosecutors anymore especially those like John. It's all about winning no matter the cost and they don't care whose lives they ruin or destroy, man, woman or child, as long as they win. Jon is not looking for the truth. He is only interested in putting another feather in his cap. This is not what the founding fathers of this great nation intended when they drafted the bill of rights. The Fifth, Sixth and 14th amendments to the United States Constitution were put into place to ensure that we the people were afforded due process of law and a fair trial.

Notwithstanding: by giving prosecutors like Jon who are overzealous absolute immunity we have perverted the justice system and have knocked it off its axis.

Prosecutorial misconduct. Taking the justice out of criminal justice. Here's a quote from former US Attorney General Robert Jackson: "The prosecutor has more control of over life, liberty and reputation than any other person in America. Discretion is tremendous. While the prosecutor at his best is one of the most beneficent forces in our society, when he acts from malice or other base motives he is one of the worst."

Jon in my opinion and my personal experience with him fits squarely into the latter. I would call Jon a prick. But most women I know say that's the best part of a man and Jon doesn't fit into that category, so I'll keep calling him an asshole. And that's just my opinion.

Charles Vacle Statler

San Quentin

PS. I wish Eric and Michael both the best of luck in their appeals. It's an uphill battle fellas. Keep your heads up. PPS. If you want to see the lowest forms of human dregs all you have to do is stand at the gates of San Quentin during shift change.

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Letter to the Editor,

Appealing a Programmer Termination

One of the biggest complaints I heard during John Coate's tenure as General Manager was the termination of programmers for no good reason. Whether that was done by John or by Mary Aigner, Program Director, there was no way to appeal those decisions. Now there is. The MCPB/KZYX Board of Directors has reactivated its committee system of governance. There are several standing committees with specific responsibilities which will be detailed in a separate post. This post will focus on the Personnel Committee. "This committee is responsible for reviewing and recommending personnel policies for the corporation, as well as establishing evaluation procedures for station staff. This committee will perform an annual evaluation of the General Manager. In addition, this committee will review staff employment contracts and benefit packages. The General Manager Hiring Committee will include at least one Board member from the Personnel Committee. The Personnel Committee will hear and recommend action on personnel grievances that are not resolved at staff level." - Board of Directors Policies and Procedures Manual (emphasis added)

At this time any person who believes that they were wrongfully terminated from programming at MCPB/KZYX should write to the Personnel Committee and formally request a hearing. Currently, the only board member named to the committee is Benj Thomas. His email address is (full board can be copied at Mr. Thomas was on the Ukiah city council for many years, and I expect he will do his best to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to fully address what happened.

Such a process is not only good for the station, but is of great benefit to the individual and the community. Although not as open as the Truth and Reconciliation commissions that some countries have used to address past wrongs, it will give each person an opportunity to be heard, and to share their story with others if they wish. Issues such as harassment, retaliation, and unsafe working conditions can be addressed, along with the general perception that current Program Director makes decisions that are arbitrary, capricious, and personally vindictive rather than in the best interests of the community. These concerns have been raised by many, but so far there has been no focused action or institutional response. Now that can happen. I encourage anyone who has been wronged, either by losing their program or being denied one, to bring the matter before the Personnel Committee. At the very least, it will require the organization to make a final decision on each case and to address its personnel policies, both of which can then be appealed further if people are still dissatisfied. Conversely, if people choose not to be heard by the Personnel Committee, then the likelihood of essential change, of either policy or the Program Director, is greatly diminished.

Dennis O'Brien


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The good news is that the city moved the “official” fireworks closer to Noyo beach so they were much more impressive this year.

The bad news is that less than a third of “the people” who used to go to Noyo beach on the 4th of July celebration showed up this year due to the illegal actions of the city claiming authority where they have none, below the mean high water mark. Two thirds of the people had their traditional 7/4 celebration rights violated illegally.

The bad news is that a beach that used to be full of campfires on the fourth of July had not one, because the city had prisoners come in to remove all the firewood. This is illegal. No one, including a governmental agency, can remove more than 50 pounds of driftwood at a time, and then only for personal use.

The bad news is that everyone who had fireworks to set off, who would have done it in the safest legalenvironment, on the beach, where a fire engine was standing by and emergency medical assistance was available, set off their fireworks in other places where no such assistance was available, greatly increasing the chance of a wildfire.

The sad news is that the chief of police went on air to say they are enforcing existing laws when their laws don’t apply, nor do county laws, below the mean high water mark.

Either the Chief of Police doesn’t know the state constitution and the limits of his authority, or he deliberately lied to justify the city actions, which are illegal. Either way, he does not have the qualifications to be a police chief and violated Federal law, illegally denying people their rights.

Fortunately some of the benefactors who used to set off their fireworks legally on the beach chartered boats this year to avoid the illegal police actions and the boat show was very good this year, rivaling the “official” fireworks. Thanks to you, patriotic folks!

Unfortunately, because the city moved the official fireworks closer to Noyo beach, the smoke from the patriots’ fireworks on the boats, who had been pushed offshore by the city’s illegal actions, obscured the official fireworks.

City Hall is illegally denying people their rights “under color of law”, which is a federal offense investigated by the FBI. They are destroying tradition and eroding our freedoms. They are creating a more dangerous situation by dispersing people who want to set off their fireworks legally and safely. Please file a complaint with the FBI. These “petty tyrants”, who have no respect for the law or the limits of their power, need to be humbled and put back in their place.

Capt. Cass Forrington

Fort Bragg

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