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Letters (Apr 27, 2016)

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Thank you Anderson Valley Lion’s Club!!  The Anderson Valley Fire Department received a very generous donation of $3000 from the AV Lions Club for the replacement of nine Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) to be spread throughout the Valley. These AEDs are used by emergency responders during cardiac emergencies and are an essential tool for providing medical service.  THe AV Fire Departmet was faced with the challenge of replacing our 20 year old AEDs because the replacement parts were no longer being manufactured. The AV Lions Club donation comes with much appreciation as they cut one-fifth of the cost out of our unexpected purchase. Now, eight new AEDs with increased features and updated technologies will be distributed on fire engines throughout the fire district from Navarro to Yorkville and one additional AED will be on the AV ambulance.

Andres C Avila, Fire Chief

Anderson Valley Fire Department, Boonville

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Once again, it came and went, the annual 4/20 feast of stoner self-indulgence on Hippie Hill. Disorderly crowds, snarled traffic, trash and cloud upon cloud of secondhand dope smoke. Has it dawned on anybody that what goes on during this spectacle would, by Bay Area standards, be decried as worse than antisocial if it involved anything other than the current recreational intoxicant of choice?

Traffic is such a nightmare that cars are loathed on San Francisco streets as if they were the work of Satan. Residential fireplaces are, in the hands of the Air Resources Board, rapidly facing extinction. Local governments are tying themselves in knots to come up with ever more intrusive ways to restrict even the most private tobacco use.

Yet there seem to be very few in our timid political class willing to murmur more than the faintest peep of censure about the 4/20 celebration. The truth is pretty hard to escape. A large percentage of 4/20 participants weren't smoking marijuana for medical purposes. They were publicly indulging in a huge outdoor recreational smoke-out in a place where any other form of smoking is prohibited and punishable. Yes, the public smoking of marijuana is becoming more common and more widely accepted every day. And, like many people, I don't particularly care one way or another what another adult wants to drag into his or her lungs, so long as I'm not on the hook to pay for the consequences. But it's time to stop the stupid sophistry that lionizes pot and demonizes tobacco.

Joe DiPietro


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I don't know why you are so adverse to acknowledging some things. But straining my memory I googled "By 2020 we will own the weather" and came up with this official military report published in 1996.

If you don't want to open it here is the executive summary:

Executive Summary

In 2025, US aerospace forces can “own the weather” by capitalizing on emerging technologies and focusing development of those technologies to war-fighting applications. Such a capability offers the war fighter tools to shape the battlespace in ways never before possible. It provides opportunities to impact operations across the full spectrum of conflict and is pertinent to all possible futures. The purpose of this paper is to outline a strategy for the use of a future weather-modification system to achieve military objectives rather than to provide a detailed technical road map. A high-risk, high-reward endeavor, weather-modification offers a dilemma not unlike the splitting of the atom. While some segments of society will always be reluctant to examine controversial issues such as weather-modification, the tremendous military capabilities that could result from this field are ignored at our own peril. From enhancing friendly operations or disrupting those of the enemy via small-scale tailoring of natural weather patterns to complete dominance of global communications and counterspace control, weather-modification offers the war fighter a wide-range of possible options to defeat or coerce an adversary. Some of the potential capabilities a weather-modification system could provide to a war-fighting commander in chief (CINC) are listed in table 1. Technology advancements in five major areas are necessary for an integrated weather-modification capability: (1) advanced nonlinear modeling techniques, (2) computational capability, (3) information gathering and transmission, (4) a global sensor array, and (5) weather intervention techniques. Some intervention tools exist today and others may be developed and refined in the future.

David Severn


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To the Editor:

Back in 1998, the Fisher family, billionaire owners of Gap and Banana Republic stores, bought 235,000 acres of heavily logged Mendocino and Sonoma County “timberland” from Louisiana Pacific, making them the largest private landowners in Mendocino County. Despite heavily publicized promises to log responsibly and sustainably, Mendocino Redwood Company (MRC) and their Humboldt division (HRC), continued clear cutting at pretty much the same destructive rate as LP had been doing, four to six percent of standing inventory per year. This is well over twice the maximum rate recommended by the late Dr. Hans Burkhardt, author of Maximizing Forest Productivity, and member of the Mendocino County Forestry Advisory Committee. Dr. Burkhardt said a rate of no more than one to two percent was necessary in order to have sustainable timber production – and he had decades of research data to back it up.

MRC and HRC also continued the questionable practice of poisoning non-commercial varieties such as tan oaks and leaving swathes of standing, dead trees in the forest. This is generally done through a process called hack-and-squirt, where they hack through the inner bark every few inches around the trunk of the tree and squirt in poison. LP used to use Garlon. MRC has transitioned to imazapyr, which may be marginally less toxic to aquatic life. Whatever the toxicity level, the most crucial problem with poisoning trees and leaving them is increased fire danger. Fires can cost millions of dollars – so you have to wonder why the county allows a practice that can potentially bankrupt us. Last summer’s fire season was exceptionally bad. We had fires both north and south of us and Mendocino County lay under a pall of acrid smoke for weeks at a time. Huge portions of neighboring Lake County were devastated, making 3,000 Lake County residents homeless. The Valley Fire burned more than 76,000 acres. It destroyed 1,280 single-family residences and 27 multifamily buildings. It left behind mountains of toxic ash, which endangered health and slowed the rebuilding process. Ten percent of businesses in Lake County were either damaged or destroyed. All in all, the fire cost hundreds of millions of dollars. And this was after the Rocky and Jerusalem fires, to the north and east of the Valley Fire, had already incinerated nearly 100,000 acres in late July and August.

Forestland Steward – a joint project of CAL FIRE, the USDA Forest Service, and others, to provide information on the stewardship of private forestlands in California – put out a Summer 2015 edition of Forestland Steward News, titled “Fire Behavior: What’s Going On? ” In that issue they blame both drought and increased fuel load for the fact that wildfires are burning more intensively, more frequently, and over larger areas. There’s not much we can do about the drought. The increased fuel load, on the other hand, is partially caused by man and partly by nature, the result of a hundred years of fire suppression, as well as the result of trees killed by disease and insects. But it is also the result of poisoning trees and leaving them standing for up to a decade. Standing dead trees are what they call fuel ladders, and one of the recommendations Forestland Steward makes for fire protection is to “remove fuel ladders that would lead a fire into the crowns of trees,” – one of the most dangerous situations for fire fighters. “When trees die,” the newsletter says, “they add to the already excessive fuel loads in the forest. Dead trees ignite faster and burn hotter than living trees. They torch quickly, with fire moving into the crown where it can jump to nearby trees. ... In overcrowded conditions, there are nearly always trees or fuel ladders nearby to spread the fire.”

As things stand now, MRC can’t be held responsible if these trees fuel a forest fire. It is a potential cost of hundreds of millions of dollars to Mendocino County, but MRC would be completely off the hook. The county can’t afford such an expense, but the Fisher family are billionaires. They are doing their best to avoid this liability. The Fishers have cranked up their public relations department, (which has so far done a pretty good job “greenwashing” their questionable, logging behavior). Locally, they have launched a high powered publicity campaign to convince us that hack-and-squirt is a harmless process. They call it a “treatment,” avoiding the real issue of fire danger from dead standing trees. They have been buying half-page newspaper ads with condescending headlines reading, “Dear Colleagues, Friends and Neighbors in Mendocino County.” In addition, MRC has turned their lawyers loose on the problem, claiming the County has no jurisdiction over either herbicides or timber harvesting. That may be true, but the Supervisors do have responsibility to protect their constituents from a public nuisance. If the Supervisors declare these dangerous practices a public nuisance and a fire breaks out, then MRC has to bear at least a portion of the financial burden. That is why they are fighting so hard against it. Obviously, a tree killed by poison is just as dangerous as a tree killed by insects, drought or disease. Intentionally killing large swathes of trees by hack-and-squirt is sheer stupidity. It is a danger. It is a problem. It is a public nuisance. And it’s time the Board of Supervisors called it what it is.

Tom Fristoe


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An Open Letter to the Board of Supervisors:

The slogan, "It's all about the animals" certainly feels stale and disingenuous at this point in the never-ending campaign of a (small) group of people, annoyed that a contract proposal for shelter management was not awarded to Petaluma Animal Services.

Though the RFP is over, the process continues to be picked over and exploited as a tool to wedge the conversation away from the future--stuck in the unhappy past. The proponents of outsourcing the shelter have called the process first too long (when they believed no one was working on it properly,) too short (when they were unhappy with the results and demanded it go back to the administrators,) and now "completely flawed" and "set up for failure." During their appearances in front of the board these past months, not one speaker has given the smallest, positive credit to the shelter and its staff. Instead, the same people talk about personal problems, make opaque threats to the board and county, and give graphic accounts of feces, standing water and the horrid plight of "furbabies". The subject morphs as is necessary for them: the current battle cries are the Coast, First Amendment Rights violations, the shelter being at its "worst ever," and the waste of money spent on an interim manager and a guard---things put in place BECAUSE OF THE NEGATIVE ENVIRONMENT created by these same folks and their followers.

ENOUGH! What the board is not hearing are the many many voices of the "silent majority"--folks who, while not claiming the agency is perfect, want to see the shelter, and thus the animals in its care, succeed. And to that end, we are either at work on our computers creating photographs, updating our websites, creating graphics; or on the phone arranging transport to rescues; or at the shelter walking dog and petting cats. Moving forward can AND WILL be accomplished, even if the county and the shelter staff are continually bombarded by negativity by people who take zero responsibility for their actions over the past year. Those of us who would like to get on with the caring of the shelter's animals wait for the day when the shelter can TRULY move forward and improve. Those folks who, by their constant negativity and refusal to let that happen, have proven that the animals take second place to their personal agendas.

Kathy Shearn


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So, Kathy Shearn, I guess that means the Grand Jury also had a personal agenda and put the animals second when they found fault with Animal Care Services, as did the Sheriff  and Animal Control Officers. And since when is recognizing the Coast as part of Mendocino County a crime? Is your battle cry, “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others”? — George Orwell, “Animal Farm”

Ms. Shearn, you are not silent and you are not the majority!

Carol Lillis, Albion

(Which is part of Mendocino County)

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The Ukiah Animal Shelter

I just read Kathy Shearn's most recent letter to the editor and feel compelled to rebut most of what she says. I have no trouble believing that the Ukiah Animal Shelter is today a much better place then it was 12 years ago. But! There is much that could and needs to be improved at the shelter today and into the future.

Cats live in tiny cages the size of the average microwave oven with a litter box and their food/water bowls, leaving no room to move or stretch, and they frequently live like that for weeks and months. How is that not inhumane and abusive?

Dogs are kept in kennels with chain-link fenced doors and raw cement floors and a cot. Most of the dogs with no blankets and toys to provide a modicum of comfort and to break up the boredom of being locked up 23 hours a day. Because the dog kennels are open on top and partially on the sides, all the dogs are exposed to their neighbors all around. Many of the dogs bark, jump and whine excessively and there is no getting away from it.

We volunteers sadly witness how some dogs deteriorate over time because they cannot handle the high stress level they are exposed to 24 hours a day. Although kennel cleanliness has improved somewhat in the last two months, dogs sit, stand and sleep on wet floors and cots a lot of the time.

I saw a video of an animal shelter in Missouri where young school children come and read to the dogs, sitting in front of the each kennel. No self respecting parent in Mendocino county would consider letting their child sit on the floor in our shelter! Socialization, walks, exercise and play time are almost entirely up to the shelter volunteers.

The staff is very busy just keeping things moving and have no time to give attention to individual pets. Not all dogs get out every day, if there are not enough volunteers available to walk them. Supervised play groups are intermittent and there is no regular scheduled time for them. Some dogs are kept in quarantine under lock and key. This means they don't get out of their cage at all, some dogs are in quarantine for two and more weeks, even a whole month and more!

What our shelter needs is comprehensive management plan. A realistic budget with clear priorities on how the money is allocated, including deadlines to accomplish goals and clear and transparent accounting. Clearly defined job descriptions for each employee position, with regular performance reviews and the opportunity for continued education in up-to-date shelter practices.

The shelter does little outreach to the citizens of Mendocino County, or to other animal rescues and pet related community based businesses. Volunteers after the initial orientation are more or less on their own, figuring things out as we go along. There is currently no effective efforts made to reach out to the community to cultivate more loving foster homes and to attract more dedicated volunteers to the shelter. A joint staff and volunteer meeting much desired by many of the volunteers has not happened. There was one volunteer-only meeting recently that unfortunately was poorly advertised and therefore not very well attended.Communication between HHSA, shelter management and volunteers is non-existent. A core group of dedicated volunteers have been at every Board of Supervisor meeting, speaking out again and again for the animals. Volunteers have advocated for our homeless pets in front of the Standing Committee that is looking into the shelter management issues and have brought detailed dates and incidents to Supervisors McCowen and Woodhouse's attention. Yet, little has changed in the shelter's day to day operations.Volunteers have been barred from the shelter for speaking out in public about conditions at the Ukiah animal shelter.I could go on, but want to conclude by reaching out to all citizens of Mendocino County and implore you: To spay and neuter your pets! Do not buy or accept puppies from backyard breeders. License your dogs! It is the right and responsible thing to do! Make sure your dog wears a collar with contact information. Don't shop! Adopt a Mendo shelter pet! Become a shelter volunteer! We need more volunteers! Become a foster parent! You can foster a dog or cat for a day, an overnight, a week, a month or longer. You can foster to adopt, trying out the pet on a trial basis. Visit the Ukiah Animal Shelter on Plant Road and see for yourself! Our homeless pets need you!

Monika Fuchs


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Dear Editor,

I know it's been a while since our last correspondence. But I'm sure you and your avid readers can recall my name and my writing. I am a lightweight famous person since I was published in your book, 'Behind The Green Curtain: True Crime around Mendocino County: A Meth Makers Tale.' I would be eternally grateful for another copy of that original article which I once had but I either lost it or family members got my copy and undoubtedly kept it to reflect upon my felonious ways.

I'm going to be picking up where I left off with so much more to add to the collection/archives. I've got a couple of years of reflection ahead of me here at Helbush Road in Lake County, at least many trials, tribulations, battles and scrapes to touch on.

I've been busy while on hiatus. Bullets whistling by me and too many rovers scanned: Police corruption, fire department investigations and so much more smutting my name up with allegations.

The streets think they know me because they heard all the hype. I'm telling you now my ears ring steadily with every word that I have written.

Yes, I'm lightweight famous, but you all don't know me at all.

Signed, The Felonious One:

Ronald James Rhea #55985

4913 Helbush Drive, Lakeport, CA 95453

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Dear Editor:

This letter follows my letter published in AVA on February 20th and follows up on the affect of week monsoons on 330 million people. I commented briefly on a study with most of the work done by Chinese scientists on the affect on monsoons by the melting of Himalayan glaciers. Agence France-Presse in Delhi reports about 330 million people representing 1/4 of the population of India, spread over 10 states have been hit by drought after two consecutive years of weak monsoons. The drought has accompanied by increasing temperatures that are reaching new highs. There, of course, are expectations the monsoons will return to normal but that is a wan hope! Most unfortunately the world does not have the ability to feed 330 million starving people. Most over time will perish. What has happened here will be repeated in other third world countries. Despite all of the adverse effects of climate change there are still ignorant louts in the GOP who deny climate change. How stupid can one be?

In peace and love,

Jim Updegraff



  1. Jeff Costello April 27, 2016

    US aerospace forces owning the weather? We are way too exceptional for our own good or anyone else’s when the mechanisms of war are the first priority. Is this the meaning of life?

    • George Hollister May 1, 2016

      I will also only believe we “own the weather”, when I see it. The one thing we know for sure, there is more we don’t know about the weather than we know, and we know less about climate.

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