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Letters (July 29, 2015)

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Bruce, your job application to the Ukiah Daily Journal will be received with interest. You'll start by carrying coffee to the various desks and will learn how a newspaper works. And sorry old boy, but you'll have to give up the leisurely mornings in your dressing gown, collecting gossip on the phone.

Gordon Black


Ed Reply: Hmmm. Your latest non-sequiter arrived here at midnight, Gordy, two to three hours after honest working people are deep in dreamland. Yes, yes, I know you're a man of leisure and can hit the sherry any time of day you feel the need, but it isn't a good idea to write for publication when you're under the influence. PS. Sherry, right? It would have to be. PPS. Thanks for the heads up on my likely responsibilities at the Journal, and wish me luck.

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When I ran for city council against Scott Dietz and Doug Hammerstrom I never could figure out why they were running. Now it is four years later, I still have no idea. At the time of the election they did not seem to be overly interested in any kind of an issue. Scott made the point that he understood budgets, having worked for the bus company in a financial capacity somehow.

This year, when the city presented their budget to the city council, he didn't show up. Probably he read it privately, but I must say that the rest of the city council that sat through that five hour meeting, at least from the looks on them, did not understand one word of what is admittedly a highly unintelligible, deceptive, abstruse and misleading document. But probably Scott whizzed right through it at home in the comfort of his armchair, although I have not heard that he made any subsequent comments.

Both Scott and Doug are also on the public safety committee, which usually does not do very much, but recently was confronted with an odd fish. Body cameras on cops suddenly became an issue. The police in Fort Bragg, it turns out, favor body cameras, and were applying for a grant to get them for free and needed a policy statement by the City. The police had a seminar which was meticulously prepared, very informative, and well attended but the members of our city council who are the safety committee, did not show up for that either.

It might also be noted in passing that neither Scott nor Doug did anything at all during the last four years. Except of course vote reliably for the agenda of City management. They do vote, and always for the city manager, but they themselves do not propose, design, discuss, or even apparently read. They have held no public meetings, they did not issue any statements, they were interviewed in no articles, made no speeches, went to no meetings, other than Doug going to the Elks or wherever it is that he is the grand leader of. But publicly, as far as I know these two did not propose a program, push for a policy or even have an idea. They speak as little as possible. If they have had an idea, please, I would like to know it.

But in 2012 they were running in an election and so they had to say something, so what they both said was how great it was that the city council got along so good. That they were harmonious. You can be sure they said that the excellent job that we are doing for you is the result of us feeling like we can all get along and don't have any resentments or disagreements or anything at all unpleasant, saying that as they cast sidelong glances at my surly self glowering beside them.

The principle of harmony in government is a very important political idea in Fort Bragg. For quite a few election cycles prior to 2012 (I think four) no one ran for the city council. They were forced to reappoint themselves. (They loved it). There were two views on this. In the opinion of many the city council was regressive, wicked, pointless and irrelevant, when they were not unconsciously destructive, they were predictably misinformed, gratuitously belligerent or else condescending. Things were so bad that to participate was pointless.

The remainder of the City (a distinct minority) held that the city council was so wonderfully efficient that no debate or dissent was even possible. They knew each other, they liked each other, Disagreement was caddish and not professional. Because they got along so well no one else needed to run. Indeed it would have been the height of bad manners, a lack of confidence, and unforgivable insensitivity to the sublime harmonies of the universe and Fort Bragg.

This idea of love and harmony is still very strong. Dave Turner, our mayor, is the leader of this faction, ideologically. He has fought a recall election bitterly, with the objective, he says, of promoting love. Most politicians that were elected with a margin of less than a fraction of a whole number would not find the concept of an election as utterly abhorrent as Dave finds it to be. For him, as he puts it, to hold an election is to undermine democracy. There is a principle in any democracy unknown to Dave Turner that statesmen who claim to represent their people ought not, on principle, fear elections. Indeed on principle they celebrate elections and participate willingly in the discourse and debate and disclosure that an election means. To hold so tightly to power, obtained so marginally is quite simply dishonorable. The ancient statesmen of democracy are cringing in their graves.

But if Dave is the ideological powerhouse behind the I love Fort Bragg, no tampering with secret government idea, then Scott and Doug were its principal spokesmen in 2012. Harmony and good feeling was their platform entire.

Therefore, there is some irony in their current situation. Both Doug and Scott are running again in 2016. But now their vote to gut the Old Coast Hotel for the purpose of creating a banal institutional monument to dependency and failure has been contested by the people of the city. A ballot initiative has been successfully circulated which negates their irresponsible and deeply unconsidered vote. Now the ballot initiative passed by the people and highly popular with them will be before the city council for an up or down vote, and if voted down will go on the ballot, or to special election

The esteemed councilmen find that they will have to vote a second time against an initiative that has been demonstrated to be very popular with almost everyone. And which was, by the way, achieved by the people at great emotional cost to them. The two councilmen get to vote against it twice. Or they can go along with the people and screw the city which got the money for the project and set the whole deal up and probably violated a half a dozen laws doing it and certainly the Brown act.

I hope that the principle of harmony, with which they attempted to replace the principle of integrity, will be of assistance to them in their decision.

Rex Gressett

Fort Bragg

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Recently you quoted Mr. Franklin Graham as he expressed his disgust and umbrage at the fact that in certain areas of China people are putting dog meat on their dinner plates. We all know that across the globe many cultures eat a lot of things at which we North Americans turn up our collective noses. Bushmen and women in Africa even eat our cousins, the great apes. Does Mr. Graham propose boycotting all things African as well? Does Mr. Graham's admirable compassion extend to our bovine, ovine, procine and avian friends? Must an animal be as "cute" as a cock-a-poo to be able to live its life without becoming an item on the menu? There are alternatives!

Ever yours,

D. Bullock, loyal subscriber


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Can you spare some change? I don't usually ask for money but since the good people of the state don't mind wasting so much on the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation I figured what the hell? You might as well send me $1 million.

First, let's get it right. There is no Rehabilitation or Correction. That's a joke. But this is not news. I mean, we've known that the money for rehabilitation programs was taken away over 10 years ago. So we should pay CDCR officers $75 an hour to sit around and swat flies. And corrections — yes sir, I've learned to pick locks, fight harder for meaningless reasons, make weapons out of nothingness. I know I will get it right this time.

Yeah, four terms and over 20 parole violations later I finally realized I'm living the American dream in a broken system. And I'm living proof that there needs to be a big change.

Yes, this is James Gator Lawson. I'm an inmate at Soledad State prison until January 2015 and then I will return to Fort Bragg where I live. Until then I walk these halls and laugh and shake my head every day from the stupidness the people of the state pay for. So I speak out in hope for a change.

A man promised change not long ago and we made him president. I don't believe he has used the word change since he stepped into office eight years ago. Maybe I will run for president — Gator for president!. I mean my criminal record is way better than the American government and that's without me bringing up all the mass murders, white slavery and drug profiteering that our government has its hands in daily. They make me look like a saint. My question is: We all know these things and we all see them but we don't do anything to change them.

Whoops — there's that word again. So everyone has a story and here is just one of many. This week's story takes the cake for stupid waste of your money.

Since I am locked up I write a lot of appeals, 602s, grievances. It's a lot of paperwork but it's fun because I call it chasing their tails. These CDCR officers sell you on how hard their job is, when mostly they are errand boys and paperchasers. When inmates write grievances the staff screens them out for any and every reason they can, so your simple appeal turns into harassment until you give up. That's the game they play.

But I like games. I'm good at that. My appeal had to do with my classification committee making me go to school for nine months where they get money from the state to school inmates who do not have a GED. I have a GED and they have it on record. So the game has begun.

My appeal was returned to me stating that I needed to attach a classification committee chronological history to the 602, even though they have all the info in front of them on their computer. I sent a CDCR-22 form (inmate request) asking for this classification chronology. Two weeks later my request came back stating that I should see my counselor during open line. I wrote my request again stating that it was a simple request and I did not wish to see anyone. I would just like anything you wish to say to me about this. I would like it in writing so I can prove what a joke you stand for.

Three weeks later for a total of five weeks in the process the Corrections Counselor called me to her office. As I walked in I asked her if she could write down everything she said or if she could record it. (The looks I get are priceless.) These people have no understanding. They hate me I am sure. I love myself however.

She slid the chronology across the desk and said, Here's your chronology. I need you to sign off this appeal.

I said, okay where do I sign?

She said, Right here, Mr. Lawson. Please write out why you are withdrawing your appeal.

And I said, Okay, and I wrote down that I was withdrawing the appeal to stop the harassment that has been going on for five weeks, and I signed it.

She wasn't happy and told me, "That's not a reason."

I said, "Sure it is."

She said, You can't write that.

And I said, But it's my reason.

She told me I had to put something else. So I rewrote that I am withdrawing the 602 to make it easier on everyone.

I thought she would pull her hair out. Once again she said, That's not a reason.

I said, It's my reason and it's the only one I got.

After a few minutes she realized I was not feeling sorry for her so she said, Okay — I'll just have to answer your appeal and send it back to you in the mail. (Wow, that's some threat.)

I told her, Okay, I'll just wait for it and then I'll throw it away. I smiled and added, See, you didn't have to make this hard for a lousy chronology. All tolled, it took five weeks, a postage stamp and about two hours of state official's time at $75 an hour.

I do this two or three times a week. I am just one man and there are thousands of things to file paperwork over. If I was paying for this like you are I think I would ask that Corrections staff get tested for common sense.

Thanks to the AVA. We here love your paper and offer this reminder to the readership: things are not always as they say they are. So get involved, know who you are putting in office and know their views and what they believe in. Also, know when they make untruthful promises like Change. Don't make the same mistakes twice. We have enough Correctional staff doing nothing and getting paid more than you make in your lifetime and laughing in your face about it.

I look forward to receiving your paper. I miss the Manbeater of the Week feature that used to be published. I would say, Get it together ladies. But I don't think they need my help. Maybe this is part of the change I'm asking for. Don't you want some change?

James Gator Lawson


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As I ride my motor scooter around the Financial District and SoMa each day, I can easily look into the cars around me, and I see many, many what I call “app” drivers. The streets seem to be filled with them, and they drive very aggressively and sometimes rudely to pick up customers.

While I appreciate that these Uber and other drivers can make good money and they serve a purpose, they are also clogging the streets and probably luring people off public transportation. Not to mention they are unfair competition to highly regulated taxis also trying to make a living. Frankly, I am of two minds about this situation, but perhaps there needs to be some limits and regulations on these companies. They have built sizable companies so quickly, they can now afford lots of lawyers, but might does not make right.

Bill Schwartz

San Francisco

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To the Editor UDJ:

Isn’t time to stop narrow minded thinking and start bringing sustainable business to our areas? Visions have to be seen beforehand in order to transition smoothly to a new era. Tourists will come back if they feel safe. The nickname “Emerald Triangle” will soon go away with legalization and corporate take over of drug grows. And if anyone here whom ever has worked in Napa or San Francisco knows, there is the entire world from the Jersey Shores to France, all are yearning to see and experience Northern California. Car rental trips can connect our town with a few choice new attractions that entice entire family in fun. Our downtown charm can’t be seen until you go further than State Street. The lakes and redwoods are our gold, the whale watching our treasure and the wildlife our gems. Add a dynamic kid experience that attracts from afar. It has to be large and really noticeable. We technically are a four corner junction of highways. East we have lakes and state capital, west we have gorgeous coast, south lies Napa and San Francisco, North the Redwoods. Ever seen Golden Gate Park empty? Academy of Science, Tea Gardens, MOMA all together is like honey to bees. Let’s get a new triangle of culture and teaching with some wow factor.

Catherine A. Lair


Ed Note: Ukiah already has a Wow Factor. Every time I have to go there I say, "Wow! Get me outtahere and back to Boonville." A half-dead town that pays its city manager a quarter mil a year isn't likely to have much left over for much in the way of publicly-sustained culture. And there are a multitude of other factors, beginning with the withdrawal of the traditionally civic minded, such as the owner of the local bank, the owners of major businesses, the upper echelons of our overpaid and over-numerous cadre of judges, the latter poised to destroy what's left of a coherent downtown by building a new courthouse for themselves far from the present downtown, and, finally, the capture, by cash and carry "liberals," of the civic levers everywhere in Mendocino County, grabbing every public dollar for themselves. Only two attractive towns remain in the county — Fort Bragg and Point Arena. Mendocino? Long gone over to gew gaws and ice cream cones.

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Dear Editor,

To our Supervisors and Councilmen,

re: the recent hearing on the Central Coast Transfer Station

After listening to the indignant denouncement of the CA Dept of Fish and Wildlife and the CA State Parks by each of the Supervisors and Councilmen, we would submit a few observations.

Blame for the delay was laid heavily on the agency staff, but the responsibility may also be laid to the office of Mr. Sweeney. DF&W has stated in each of their letters that their offers to meet have been ignored. Their comments to the DEIR have been ignored or dismissed with bland repeating of the DEIR statements. No attempt has been made to reconcile these interests prior to the hearing,  even though DF&W called the Solid Waste Management office immediately after the FEIR was released to reiterate the problems with the FEIR. DF&W has acted like a model agency and repeatedly responded in a timely manner, only to be ignored.

State Parks also have not been kept informed or consulted in the process. The swap lands have not been evaluated or analyzed in the EIR and the conservation easement has not been thoroughly discussed at the appropriate levels. One phone call to the local SP Supervisor from over five years ago is inadequate. The Sierra Club asked for a copy of an MOU about the State Parks conservation easement over a month ago, to which Mr. Sweeney replied “There is no MOU”. (memo June 23, 2015)

The FEIR fails in the absence of a true environmentally superior alternative (Leisure Time RV Park), the absence of evaluation of the impacts of trading 12 acres of protected forest, and the rehabilitation of the old Caspar Transfer Station site.

Please read the letters from DF&W, State Parks, CA Native Plant Society and Sierra Club and really listen to the concerns.  The transfer station should be sited on a property that is already bulldozed, not on a piece of undisturbed rare habitats.

Rixanne Wehren, Mary Walsh, Linda Perkins

Exec. Committee, Mendocino Group, Sierra Club

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…the BLOWBACK of business as usual.

Welcome to Nut House America! Where corporate monsters make Blockbuster billions off of glorified "gun violence" and politicians set the stage for resolving conflict by extreme violence globally.

Welcome to fear and loathing in the Land of the Free. Where society itself becomes the toxic fallout from all the twisted logic of war profiteers and popculture charletons peddling psycho schemes all the rage to keep the gullible fools distracted as the powers that be rewire their brains and rob them blind.

Invest in the hardware of Melt Down America and its obedient troops who will soon be everywhere in a futile attempt at containment of the worst chemical spill in American history. Which are the chemicals produced by fear, ignorance, and malnutrition now coursing through the derailed brains and bodies of millions of hapless, duped, TV brained timebomb zombie citizens.

And by all means, watch more idiotic, inane, and insulting shoot-up-everyone-and-blow-up-everything special effects orgy bullshit movies and make sure Jack and Jill are placed in front of it with their greedy little mouths full of poisoned food. Maybe you'll all get to be extras in the next Reality TV program coming to a movie theater in your town, and don't forget to wear your bulletproof vest and helmet!

Best of luck,

Marvin Blake



  1. Just Sayin August 4, 2015

    I don’t like the proposed new court house any more than you do. However, I want to call you out on the phrase you keep using: “far from the present down town”.


    • Mark Scaramella August 4, 2015

      OK, three LOOONNNNNNNGGGGG blocks. The real issue with the distance is that it puts the judges at a significant distance away from everybody else. They may like it, but making cops, staff, attorneys, defendants, witnesses, family members, victims, visitors, and everybody else — not to even mention current downtown businesses and their customers — trudge back and forth with papers and materials and the rest in all kinds of weather just for what you concede is a bad idea just so the judges can have their own new building would be just as bad if it were a block or a mile. It’s the separation, not the specific distance.

  2. Franklin Graham August 4, 2015

    As an anthropologist, I am well aware of the history of dogs being eaten for food, such as in Ancient Mexico. I am also well aware of the current practice of eating “bush meat” species. None of that makes me feel better. My point about China is that the conditions in which dogs are bred and treated before going to slaughter are deplorable. Maybe there is no “humane way” to treat any animal raised for meat. But wanton cruelty is not necessary. Yes, eating any meat is a compromise that all humans must face. We raise cattle and pigs, chickens and sheep, among other such species for the purpose of supplying protein to a hungry world. It is a compromise. Perhaps the distinction, and I only raise it as a thought, is that dogs have been “companions” to humans for at least 12,000 years. As such, they more than “earned” their keep as watch dogs, herders, protectors, and companions. They have indeed been “integrated” into our lives. So, I do feel it is unnecessary to develop a large scale production slaughter of them. We all make choices, and they are by definition compromises. In any event, we need limits, even if they are compromises in our quest for protein sources. Respectfully, Frank Graham

  3. Jim Updegraff August 4, 2015

    People in other counties eat horses – I recollect during WW 11 when I was a teenager there shops in the Bay Area that sold horse meat. Around the world if you are poor you probably eat what ever animals are available.

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