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Letters to the Editor


Editor & Reed Whittemore,

“I hear the loved survivors tell

How naught from death could save,

Till every sound appears a knell

And every spot a grave.”

Wrote Abraham Lincon, at 37.

Then, decades later, William Faulkner wrote, “The past is never dead, it isn’t even past.”

I bow my head, United States of America, to each citizen in Iraq — alive and dead — and to each Haitian.


Diana Vance


Dear Bruce,

I am not a betting man, but if I had to wager I would bet against mankind making it out of this century. I wish this were not so, but I fear that it is.

The main indicator is the over-population of the planet. There are already food and fresh water shortages for tens of millions of people and it is just the start. When you add in the soon-to-be-coming-to-your-neighborhood effects of global warming it gets even darker.

Then a thinking person has to factor in the gross imbalance between the “developed” world and the “developing” world in virtually every category. Add to all of this the influence of religion and its fundamental hatred of the 18th Century Enlightenment.

If all of that were not enough let’s assume that America really is the leader of the world (a questionable assumption at best), which, if true, signals that the world is being led toward more and more conservatism not progressivism. If we look at these; war, famine, disease, and illiteracy, the only one that we could make a bit of a claim for is the reduction of communicable disease, and even that claim is suspect from a global point of reference.

In short, it all boils down to population, and the planet is not doing a damn thing about that. The religions dismiss over-population as a problem for mankind (God will provide) sic. The opposition of the Catholic Church to birth control in any form; the propagation of the world’s poor like bunnies; the over-reliance on technology as the savior; the desire of those who really run the world to keep the poor poor; the dumbing-down of the literate peoples; the control of the media by an oligarchy of the powerful; the control of the global economy by those who worship at the altar of profit; the incredible amount of waste of resources via over-consumption and via war; the need for war in the psyche of most people; put all of this together and it is impossible to be optimistic about the future of mankind.

The political process, be it local, national or international is no longer capable of solving the problems. Osama’s election gave us a shot of optimism, but the needle was full of water, not medicine and didn’t last. The United Nations could do it but won’t; the wealthy nations could do it, but won’t. The human spirit has been co-opted by ideology driven organized religion in the name of power.

So, what’s the answer? There is no answer, because, as yet, we are not asking the right question. Until and unless mankind asks the question, “How do we control population growth and reduce the finite numbers of people on earth?” there’s not much hope left, only audacity.

Lee Simon
Far ‘n Away Farm, Virginia




Sweet little William / from his mirror

licked the mercury / right off.

Thnking in his / childhood error

it would cure / the whooping / cough.

Later at the funeral / his mother did remark

to Mrs. Brown

“Twas a chilly day / for Willy when

the mercury / went down.”




Open Letter to City Council and Willits News,

A tempest is brewing over what appears to be a lovely landscaped area on City-owned property on Redwood Avenue. This spot is a point of interest in the very popular WHAT walks. It has served as a demonstration project for water conservation. The array of fruit trees could soon provide food to donate to the Food Bank and Daily Bread. Many people have donated time and materials to improve and maintain this community garden.

What a delightful asset for our town!

And yet three of our five City Council members (Stranske, Burton , and Hanson) have voted, contrary to their own staff’s recommendation, to bulldoze the garden. This needless destruction could occur momentarily.

After talking with several Council members, we understand the concern that City-owned lands not be usurped for private use or without permission. We believe, however, that these concerns are moot in this case at this time. Regardless of any historic disputes, the question now should be “Is keeping this as a City water conservation park in the public interest?” Or is there a compelling reason to destroy the beneficial improvements? If at any point the landscaping becomes a liability, the City could always exercise its option to have it removed. Until then, what is gained by eliminating this lovely and productive little gem in our neighborhood?

We urge the City Council, working with community members, to find a solution that would keep the park as a benefit for our town.


Madge Strong & Tom DeMarchi




Hellooo there baby.

This here’s the king. The King of rock and roll. I was a readin the AVA about all these Elvis sightings. Trust me man, Ah have neva been anywhere near Boonville or whatever the name of that town is. I uh uh uh um uh um (starting to sound like a superviser now) I ah am safe and hidden away in the hills of Tennessee at this ah moment. So I'd just like ya to know that the REAL Elvis is still cool, alive and rockin away.

Thank ya, thank ya ver' much,

Elvis Presley

PS. Whats all this about a “blue”? Think I'll write a song about it.




Nothing is more clichéd than a fascist right-winger saying “libs turn to calling 'nazi' when losing the argument.” You know the holes in this as well as I do:

The myopic assumption that “we” are liberals. I quote John Stephens: “The ignorant should be on trial for lack of vision.”

The cult-speak: “We objectivists…” The selection of what is objective being completely subjective. And of course, the suggestion of Rand as God.

Best of all maybe, the assumption that she/he was “winning” an “argument.” This consciousness based in conflict, contention, winning, is at the core of everything wrong with US foreign and domestic policy. It is also a fair clue to the dark side of the human race in general. Think Dick Cheney as Santa Claus.

Jeff Costello



Dear Editor,

Oh dear, where to begin. The candidate profile you refer to (“Off the Record” 2/18) was three minutes culled from a 45 minute interview. I had no editorial oversight and the questions I was responding to were not aired, so the context was not always clear. Not to mention your additional editing to remove meaningful content. It’s truly unfortunate that the brand of journalism the AVA now employs when describing local politics and politicians is one of ridicule (“uh”), half truths (I’ve met the executive director of West Company once and the EDFC executive director a couple of times) and no truth (the Mendocino Transit Authority is not “spending most of the Authority’s reserves as the local share of an enor¬mously wasteful $22 million office complex and fuel¬ing station”). The public would be better served by using your considerable talent to factually report and thoughtfully editorialize on the issues and statements rather than doing a hack job. You’re m! erely reinforcing the tendency in today’s world that being nasty and a bully is somehow a virtue and a right. You’ve skewered me in the past and I expect that you’ll do it in the future, but I don’t take it personally. Being a public person is not for the faint of heart. If your readers would like to see the video for themselves they can see it at It’s at the end of the UVTV News 2-10-10 section. Your readers, and you, might also want to see where I stand on various 5th District and County issues such as the budget, environment, water, jobs, medical marijuana, planning and services by visiting my website:

Your comment regarding the Mendocino Transit Authority project also needs some elaboration. The Alternative Fuel and Infrastructure Project (complete documentation can be found at is indeed a $22 million dollar facility. The local match for this project is approximately $220,000. Using a small portion of our reserves to build a modern maintenance facility to service our existing fleet and on into the future as we convert to hybrid and electric vehicles, seems to the MTA to be a good deal. Included in this LEED standard modernization will be a solar array that will offset the energy costs for our facilities in Ukiah, Fort Bragg, Willits and Point Arena. Eventually it will also provide solar energy for recharging the batteries of our electric fleet. Service to those who are transit dependent, environmentally responsible, an enhancement to the economy and fiscally responsible. That’s the MTA!

Jim Mastin
Candidate for 5th District Supervisor

PS. An additional note: Joe Louis Wildman maintains that I’m not a narcoleptic, merely a carrier!



To the Editor of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Your calculated hit on Greg Sarris (Casino Foe Questions Sarris’ Heritage 2/18/2010) is outrageous. You have informed your readers many times over the years about Greg’s compelling story of being adopted as a baby and growing up in Sonoma County with white parents, only to discover his Indian roots much later in life. For you to give credence to people like Marilee Montgomery and Cheryl Schmit who have an obvious ax to grind is disappointing to say the least. Your reporter Clark Mason has been on this story for years and has often had difficulty in hiding his own bias in what is supposed to be balanced reporting. Columnist Chris Smith however has a little more leeway in not hiding his perspective and has taken several cheap shots at the casino over the years including one just last week. Does anyone over there understand the concept of sovereignty?

It is a mystery to me why anyone would want to impede the hard work entailed in getting a project off the ground aimed at creating LEGAL economic independence for a group of people who have historically been deprived of it. The issue is not when or how Greg came to know his history but what he has done with that information since he learned of his roots. Anyone who has read his writings (GRAND AVENUE-set in S.R. South Park) knows his dedication to creating a better world for Native people. I have great admiration for the work Greg has done and the goals that he and the tribe have set for self determination. What a shame that ignorant and small minded people have set out to undermine that work by any means necessary and that the Press Dem has enabled them in that effort.

Mary Moore
Camp Meeker



Dear Editor:

Lately, everytime I have the TV on up pops Meg Whitman extolling her qualifications and programs as a candidate for governor. She seems to think running a large business is the same as being the governor of a large state. Meg, you are talking apples and oranges. In the corporate world you have a compliant board of directors and you are surrounded by a bunch of toadies telling you that you walk on water. As governor you will have a legislature of 120 self-centered selfish ideologues each with their own agenda and convinced that they do a better job as governor. She needs to remember she proposes, and they dispose. If she is lucky she will have a 50% approval rating which means half the public thinks she is doing a lousy job.

So far she has proposed very little of substance. Says she will cut 40,000 state jobs. Such a drastic cut translates into a significant cut in services. No comment yet about what and where the service cuts will be made. Says she will cut spending and education will be a particular concern for her. Since education is such a large part of the budget, cuts in spending will result in cuts in the education budget. Incidentially, California among the states is near the bottom in expenditures per child. I wouldn't be surprised if Mississippi spends more per child than California. She also does not hold press conferences nor talk to reporters. At some point the reporters will take out their knives and start slicing and dicing her vapid proposals.

It will be interesting to see how far a $150 million war chest can carry such a shallow candidate.

In peace,

James G. Updegraff




Knifing The Middle Class To Save The Banksters—

We are currently spending $1.4 trillion dollars more each year than we are collecting in taxes. President Barack Obama announced February 18th the appointment of a special blue-ribbon panel to recommend ways to cut back on Medicare and other domestic spending and to trim Social Security benefits. He named former Senator Alan Simpson, a Republican, and former White House Chief of Staff, Erskine Bowles, a Democrat, as the co-chairmen. They have both long been committed to gutting the social nets that working people, safeguards built over many decades to make old age less of a burden for those not blessed with retirement funds or employer-funded health insurance. An 18 member panel, including 6 appointed by Obama, 6 appointed by Republican congressional leadership and 6 by Democratic leadership, will supposedly issue a report approved by at least 14 of their number this coming December. The goal will be to reduce the annual budget deficit from its current 12.4% of GDP to 3% by 2015: a not-inconsiderable task.

We are told by the banksters and many members of congress from both political parties that Social Security and Medicare are “unfunded liabilities”, a form of welfare we cannot afford. This is an outright lie — the social security money Obama wants to cut already belongs to the people. They paid it into the Federal Government trust fund over their entire working lives. Can he really take away that which does not belong to the government? Furthermore, the Social Security system is now healthy and self-funding. It is not in deficit and can continue to fund retirements for another 75 years if a modest adjustment in rates, amounting one half of 1% of GDP) is made in future. We are mislead on this issue by the sly deceptions of Wall Streeters and their paid political hacks in Washington. We can expect that this blue ribbon panel will again suggest privatizing Social Security and giving all these funds to the Wall Street Banksters to play with. As Paul Craig Roberts, former Secretary of the Treasury under Reagan said (Feb 17, 2010 Counterpunch): “After the latest crisis brought on by Wall Street's dishonesty and greed, trusting Wall Street to manage anyone's old age pension requires a leap of faith that no intelligent person can make... Having deprived the working population of homes, jobs, and health care, Wall Street is now after senior citizens' old age security”.

The annual budget deficit has soared under Bush 43: We had a $236 billion surplus in the final year of the Clinton administration, now our deficit has reached $1.4 trillion as Obama continues the policy of George W. Bush to throw trillions away on endless wars and costly and sophisticated armaments to defend our shores from primitively-armed bands of enemies such as the Taliban, the remnants of Al-Qaeda and assorted Somali pirates. The current deficit, is almost the same as that of Greece, whose government is about to go belly-up in default. This deep deficit is the result of (1) not only a bloated defense budget, but also (2) two costly foreign wars, (3) cutting tax rates on the wealthy from 70% to 35% under the Bushes, (4) fabricating enough tax loopholes to keep many large corporations from paying anything at all, (5) the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression, and (6) bailing out the banksters from their reckless gambling these past several years.

Expressed in terms of total national debt, we are currently faced with a $12.4 trillion total debt as of February 2010. It was only $3.2 trillion in Fiscal Year 2001 when Bush 43 took the reins and Cheney explained to him that deficits didn't matter. Obama's total proposed military budget is nearly $1 trillion including $880 billion for the Pentagon itself, plus secret (black) programs, military aid and bribes to Israel, Egypt and Pakistan, the costs of 225,000 mercenaries employed overseas by defense contractors like Blackwater, veterans' benefits, and intelligence services. Afghani and Iraqi wars alone will cost $200 to $250 billion this year.

The Political Cover Commission — Why is the President cutting the retirement benefits of working people now, when we are in the depths of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression? Will putting less money in the hands of our senior citizens help to stimulate the economy? As Shamus Cooke explains: “Obama is being left with the dirtiest of missions — to cut the deficit by gutting domestic programs. He refuses to do this alone and talks about “bipartisan cooperation” (Counterpunch 02/16/10 ). Thus we have all this jockeying around to establish a Congressional Blue Ribbon Panel that will provide everyone with political cover while they stick the knife into the middle class while leaving the fat cats untouched. The strategy requires of course that there are no fingerprints on the knife. Even the corporate-friendly Wall Street Journal has called it “The Political Cover Commission” although their real motivation is to warn Republicans of the political fallout from cutting entitlements. The WSJ would rather let the Democrats take all the blame.

James Houle
Redwood Valley

PS. Last Friday night at out regular Friday Night Peace Vigil, a man on a bicycle stopped and peered at my sign “JOBS NOT GUNS.” He asked “What do guns have to do with jobs? ” I responded by saying “If we did not spend so much on Guns we could put people to work in the US building solar energy units, repairing our crumbling infrastructure - thing like bridges and roads.” “But what about all the military people that would be out of a job?. Don't we need to defend ourselves” he remonstrated. “Do you think the Afghanis will attack us?” I asked. He took one last look at me and pedaled away. Any one who wants to listen in to the occasional honks of support and infrequent shouts of derision - we gather in front of the Court House in Ukiah from 5 to 6 pm on Fridays.




What da hell is goin’ over there in Boonland? I was mossyin’ back from da coast and came up out of da valley floor, headed for home. I got to that new bridge where da big rock is and this damn fool with a pompadour hairdo is standing in the highway, like he was some sort a singin’ fool. I like swayed all over the road, trying ta miss the damn fool and just as screeched by him he yelled out or maybe song out, “Since my baby left me.” He was strummin’ his f*&*in’ gitar like some sort of rockin roller dude. Crist al mighty, scared da crap out a me, & dats a lotta crap fer sure! Carryin' 290 big ones, 6 and half foot red head dude here.

Why do you guys let those nuts out at night? I’m damn lucky to be alive fer sure. Lucky I just got dem good shocks on the rig and had those foggy lights on. You better get da Lodge open again, keep those fools drunk and snoozing in da alleys. Thought the damn deer was a pain in da *&(&? You knowd who dat idot is, anyway? Looked like he was impersonatin’ the King but he was just a little twerp and had a funny skin tone, like he fell in a olive vat or sumthin'. Wonderin' if he's some Moonie or sumthin'

Big Dan Cooley



Dear Editor

We were cruisin’ up past Cloverdale on Highway 128 with the kids, and I was feeling a bit ripe as the gal in the navigation seat. I don’t like those twisty turnies and I was feelin’ off, when Jeanie spoke up with a bit more whiny a demand. “Lookit that Ma, look it that, funny man in a white suit.” We were in that twisty part that descends from the big house with the pond in a tunnel of trees and I turned and sure enough there was a man wearing this white jump suit. He looked too tidy to be homeless and he had a guitar, but last time we were through a lot of homeless guys had guitars; especially in Mendocino. He was coming down a wash and just as we passed him he waved some sort of thing in his other hand. Johnny said it was a microphone. Well sometimes I wonder about Johnny. I had the window down and I heard him say something like “hey baby, gotta whole lot of lovin’ goin’ on.” I figured maybe the dramamine and the patch was doin’ something to me. I felt a bit strange then, passed my palm over my forehead. Both were clammy and shortly to my best luck dozed off to sleep. My husband Max pulled our car into the Navarro store. Max had put on the Barry love CD we got off the net and I got up to use the pottie with little Jeanie in tow and got us some ginger ale, which always makes us feel better. Jeanie is unfortunately a chip off my block in terms of the road dizzies.

I was talking to the store owner and remembered about this little guy in white. The owner's name I think was Daniel or David and he said he had seen the little man in white a week or so back and mentioned something about the Black Elvis. It was like a couple of gears locked into drive, a jolt of energy went through me and I knew it was him. “The Black Elvis,” I said to myself nodding my head. Daniel or whatever was nodding too and then he said to check out the AVA. I looked askance at him and said I didn’t know about any fraternal orders and he said no that the AVA was the Anderson Valley Advertiser. He gave me a complimentary paper and I read about a few of the Black Elvis sightings. I said to myself “Alice, that guy could a been the Black Elvis,” and I agreed with myself and decided to report it. Thank God for your paper and Daniel. My hubbie, Max was thinking I was going off the deep end because he didn't see Elvis. It's either true or there is some group hallucination going on. You folks have any UFO landing in your valley? Some guy at that Good Stuff store told me he had some meteorites.

Alice Freedmont
Chula Vista



First thing that we have to do

Is take the garbage out—

Recycle most, but bury too,

And see what we can sprout

Over rubbish that’s been left

— From losing wars and corporate theft.

* * *

I heard a story from a friend in Mendocino back in the 60s about Antonin Artaud, a French writer, poet and playwright who died in 1948.

Artaud was part of the Surrealist movement and believed in “automatic writing” — writing down what was “channeled” to you, and leave it at that, that is, don’t edit it.

My friend’s name was Jim McMillan and he told me that the Nazis, before or during the war, had used one of Artaud’s poems for propaganda. Artaud, who was a communist, went insane because of that and was put in an asylum.

Jim’s story was apocryphal but I believed it at the time.

The reason I bring it up is because Sarah Palin might like this rhyme I wrote. Hitler would have loved it. The Nazis hated big money and were keen on recycling — gold crowns, hair, fat, bones.

Stalinists would love the rhyme too, thinking, yep, take out the capitalist trash and shoot them between the eyes and let them push up daisies. Good for the environment.

Except Stalinists never read Stalin. After the Russian revolution, Stalin had asked pissed-off workers and peasants to be kindly to capitalists and land owners. Don’t worry, he said, workers have it all in their hands. But our capitalist brothers know how it all fits together and we don’t. We learn from them. If we don’t treat them right they’ll take their money and run. But oh, the workers were too pissed to listen.

Times are different these days. The only thing that workers don’t know regarding how the system works is how the capitalists make all their money. The capitalists say it’s because they have the big ideas and they work hard. Right. If the workers worked as hard as the capitalists, the entire planet would be starving to death, and not just the Third World.

John Wester
San Diego




A few years back I discovered Boonville, the terrific people that live and lived there and the language of Boontling. I fell in love with this region. My husband and I have visited three times so far, staying a week at a time.

We took dozens of pictures and became friends with the last two official boonters and also the folks at the historical society. I even have them on a DVD talking and laughing. I spoke at one of their meetings about the script. I seemed to be well received.

At one point we even thought about relocating there. We put our property up for sale but with the economy the way it is, nothing sold and the move never happened.

What did happen was, I wrote a book that sells in the area called “English to Boontling.” It's being carried on and in some of the local book stores.

Having the heart of a writer, I believed the next best thing to being there was to write about it. I began a screenplay called “Boonville Redemption.” Well, I finished that and I'm currently looking for backers. We are actually having a stage reading of it in March here in Los Angeles.

In the meantime I still I wanted more of my characters, the area and the pioneer spirit. I began a blog that starts two generations before the screenplay. I am up to the 9th chapter now. I believe in keeping the Boontling language alive with a tad bit of flavor of the times by spinning the history of the area into the story.

I would like you to take a look at it. If you believe that this is something that your readers would enjoy and like to follow, please give it a little publicity. I would love their input and comments. I will complete the book online and then publish it. But for now... it's growing and at the same time keeping a historical and fun language alive. Boontling is alive and well in my blog.

The blog is on our website at:


Judy Belshe-Toernblom
Los Angeles


To the Editor,

How interesting to read in the AVA that the boring John McCowen and the insipid Mari Rodin and rumored to be an item. In order to appreciate this fact one needs to examine Mr. McCowen’s meteoric rise to power in Mendocino County. First, as a County Planning Commissioner (yawn), then as a Ukiah City Councilman (double-yawn), and presently as a Mendocino County Supervisor (triple yawn). But to attain the absolute utmost power by fulfilling almost every man’s boyhood fantasy of shtupping Wonder Woman? Priceless!

Thank you,

David Anderson



My name is Jan; I’m a Willits resident, active community member and avid AVA reader. I am 24 years old, disabled with severe chronic pain/possible inflammatory arthritis in my knees and back, and a medical marijuana user. Last month I was pulled over in Illinois heading eastbound on I-80 for the initial traffic crime of Driving East With Western Plates (stated reason: I crossed over the white line exiting the freeway, which I’m confident is completely untrue). After he wrote out a traffic warning with me next to him in his cruiser, he asked to search my vehicle. Knowing my supposed Constitutional rights, I of course vehemently refused, insisting that I have relatives and friends who have fought and died in wars (this is 100% true) ostensibly to protect our freedoms, one of which is privacy — the right to not be searched without probable cause; in this case probable cause entails the officer seeing or smelling marijuana — absolutely IMPOSSIBLE here. His stated reason for searching my vehicle, which should be on videotape, was the simple, illegal reason that “this is a heavily trafficked corridor.”

Sorry, bud. That just doesn’t cut it!

After the cops realized they’re in the wrong, they changed their tune to a whole new key, saying that my “chattiness” during the warning write-up caused the process to be delayed long enough for the drug-sniffing dog to arrive — even though the trooper never stopped writing the warning while I made small talk, thereby negating the “delay” accusation. And more importantly, the police report (riddled with unbelievably atrocious lies that go way beyond mere lapses of memory) itself admits that a full 13 minutes passed between the time I was detained and told my vehicle would be searched, and the drug dog arriving. Something tells me the two officers weren’t at the front of the unlocked RV, milling around out of sight waiting for the dog to get there. No, I would bet vital parts of my anatomy that they had already begun the search and found the substantial quantity of pot. The dog a mere excuse — a scapedog.

Anyway, having literally NO income (I was denied for Social Security Disability after being seen for about five minutes by one of their doctors, even though my rheumatologist of close to a year agrees I’m disabled — but that’s another story entirely), and having racked up tremendous debt, I am in dire need of funds to help cover my legal and travel expenses, as well as psychological support. For more and information on me and my case, and for info on donating, please visit the link below.

Thank you so much! Love and Rage,

Jan Austin Smith


Dear AV Friends & Neighbors,

The food that was donated by many, many people to the Sweetheart Dance was FABULOUS! There was something to satisfy everyone from teramusu to tamales.

We are writing this thank you letter in lieu of cards to save postage. Every penny helps the AV Health Center. And we greatly appreciate all of your help.


Ginger Valen & Judy Nelson, Food Committee

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