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Letters (May 4, 2016)

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Dear Editor,

Wildflower Show/Goat Fest — OOHS and AWES abound!

According to overwhelming visitor’s comments, this year’s Wildflower Show was the best ever! The plentiful rains gave us an abundance of beautiful flowers while the Goat Fest, provided a great family oriented celebration of all things goat, offering lots of fun and tasty birria too. The addition of the Mariachi Band made for an especially festive celebration.

We would like to thank everyone who made the 2016, Wildflower Show such a success. The Sanhedrin Chapter of the California Native Plant Society returned this year and had many books and posters to offer and was kept busy with many visitors questions.

Thank you to Anderson Valley High School’s instructors Nat Corey-Moran and Nadia Berrigan whose students produced stunning photos and beautiful art work on display at the show. An invasive plant table with specimens, pictures and information regarding the damage these plants cause to native species provided a necessary counterpoint.

Another component for the show was a Lyme disease exhibit presented by Sue Davies. Many brochures and even live ticks (in a covered jar), were available offering  extensive information about preventive measures and dangers associated with Lyme.

The Navarro River Resource Center had a table with brochures and information provided by Linda MacElwee.

This year we had a bounty of raffle prizes and we wish to thank the following for their generous  donations: Praetiel and Herr, Barbara Scott,  Alice Bonner, Sanhedrin Chapter of CNPS, Christine Clark, Sue Davies, Sonny Pettijohn, Sue and Wally Hopkins, Cherry Green, Beverly Dutra, The Puzzle People, Val Muchowski, Pot Shop, Robyn Harper, Mary Pat Palmer, North Star Nursery, Gowan’s Oak Tree, AV Farm Supply, Farmhouse Mercantile, Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, Goodness Grows, Valerie Hanelt, Elizabeth Dusenberry, Diaspora Seeds, Fiddlers Green, Fish Rock Farm Girls, The Rock Stop, Patrick Ford, Robin Lindsey, Mary Darling, Dawn Johansen, Linda Filer-Wiley, Lydia Mosk Jancula, Miriam Martinez, Ellen Fontaine, Nancy Wood, and Victoria Center.

A big thank you to Shirley Hulbert, and company for the delicious food served in the tea room.

We wish to thank the following people who helped our club members with collections, identification, the raffle, plant donations, set- up or cleanup: Linda MacElwee, Jade Paget-Seekins, Sheryl Green, Lynn Halpern,  Ken Montgomery, Wally Hopkins, Keith Gamble, Hans Hickenlooper, Kristy Hotchkiss, Scott Hulbert, Bill Harper,  Sarah McCarter, Taunia Green, Andy Balestracci, Rick Bonner, Anita Soost, Janet Boon, Sean Sing, Ray Langevin, Bob Sowers, Kathy Bailey, Melanie Holloway and Bailey.

Our wildflower collectors this year benefited from updated and much improved collection route books courtesy of our own Nancy Wood. The AV Museum provided Grandma Stubblefield’s story about the special rose we have populating our valley.

Thank you to Jody and the Fairgrounds staff for all their help. Thanks to Robert Rosen, the Anderson Valley Brewery and the AV Methodist Church for allowing us to place our banners, advertising our event, on their respective fences.

We are extending a warm invitation to community members to join us in next year’s wildflower adventure. We would love additional collectors, and those interested in identifying plants. Contributors of new ideas will help improve and make the show even better! If interested please contact Robyn Harper at 895-2609.

Anderson Valley Unity Club Garden Section

Robyn Harper

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The Bay Area Lyme Foundation is doing free tick testing. The tick can be one you find on yourself, pet, or from out in the yard, etc. This program is for research only but they will let you know within 10 days or so if the tick is positive (testing is by PCR which is a sensitive way to test).

This program is to go on for a year and is for anyone in the USA. To download a form to send with your tick go to

Sue Davies


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Letter to the Editor,

I have been watching with amazement the growing hysteria about transgenders in public bathrooms. It is not only a issue in the South but also here in Montana. Facebook is full of strident voices about stationing straight male guards in women's bathrooms to protect them from transgender predators. Are they confused or what? No woman has been attacked by a transgender woman in a public bathroom anywhere in the country. It never happens. It is not an issue. So now we have another Republican non-issue like the one about how Christians are being forced to say Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas. The Christians are being persecuted. No matter that for 70 years I have said Merry Christmas and no one has told me not to say it. So what then is the problem? I think it is another step in the demonization of Gay Americans. God forbid if some of my more butch looking friends were to go into the ladies room. They might get beat up by a redneck mistaking them for a transgender rapist. In my experience transgender women are very feminine. Certainly moreso than I am. I have been called Sir more than once in my life. This is all ignorance and prejudice against gays promoted by the Republican Christian right. They are fucking nuts! Gay people are not threats to the straight population. Children do not turn into radical femmes because there is a gay or transgender in their school. This a sort of mass insanity. And the Republicans are pandering to these people to get votes. Right now we are looking at a Trump presidency. And I am not at all sure that corporation hack Hillary can beat him. We are turning very quickly to fascism. I hear fascist crap coming out of the mouths of my good Christian neighbors here in Montana. My niece is putting together a militia to repel the Muslim invaders. Fucking nuts.

Dayla Hepting

Malta, Montana

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To the Great Crew at the Mighty AVA,

After the 101 closure two days in a row, I got to thinking— With the Willits Bypass opening in September, I wonder how long it will be before both lanes are closed at about the halfway point with major injuries? Let’s go all out and say a large tanker truck with a big fire, lots of smoke and a low hanging toxic cloud. I’m not a doom&gloomer, but I would bet $5 it’s before the end of the year. We should start a pool! I’ll pick New Year’s Eve.

Thanks for all your hard work.

A reader,

Casey Pryor


PS. I love reading, especially on Thursday afternoons when your fine publication arrives, like clockwork most of the time.

PPS. I might not should say this but thank K-GOD for KMUD. Is there really any hope for the X and the Z?

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Several weeks ago in the AVA I saw a Chris Hedges quote that really resonated with me. I googled him and he seemed interesting. Earlier this week I was on Amazon and they had recommended one of his books to me based on past browsing history. I was interested in one of his books listed and checked it out of the library the other day: "Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle," from 2009.

It's quite heavy, he doesn't mess around. I guess what I mostly got out of it was he warns of totalitarianism happening in the US, but not the traditional type based on fascist or communist governments like Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia. Ours is centered around the Corporate State and the private sector.

One chapter that really resonated with me was he was talking about elite universities (he studied at Harvard and has taught at Princeton and other elite institutions). He said these elite institutions just promote vocational training over any sort of liberal arts education and that students learn to placate and please authority (professors), basically to obey.

That was always my complaint about my peers at my affluent high school and a lot of peers at the colleges I went to, that they were just learning to obey, no critical thinking involved.

The first college I went to, Clark, was a little different because it was a liberal arts college, but certainly UC Santa Cruz and especially UC Davis just felt like diploma factories to me, training white collar drones.

Keith Bramstedt

San Anselmo

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Dear Editor,

The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) which has a current population of 50,000 located on the 24 inhabited of 34 atolls and islands in 1986 signed a Compact of Free Association  with the United States.

The Compact provides that while RMI is free  to conduct its own foreign affairs (it is a member of the United Nations) the United States has full authority and responsibility for security and defense of RMI. The Compact provides for continued use of the US Army missile range on Kwajalein atoll. The Compact provides RMI with an annual subsidy of approximately $70 million which represents a significant portion of its GNP. Marshallese citizens may work and study in the US without   a visa and join the US military. There are already colonies of thousands of Marshall Islanders in Springfield, Arkansas and Salem, Oregon.

Climate change is having a continuing profound affect on the low lying atolls and islands which have very limited sources of freshwater and must rely on rain during the months of November through February. The rains did not come in 2013 and the US provided drought relief.

The drought has continued and just recently President Obama declared the drought a disaster which will allow FEMA to provide emergency relief.

Equally critical is the rising sea level. The islands are 3-6 feet in elevation and the rising seas are beginning to flood the islands at high tide. Seawalls have not been effective against tidal flooding and it can only get worse. The time will come when the islands are not livable and the population will have to leave. In their case, since they do not have to have visas the majority can seek refuge in the US.

In peace and love,

Jim Updegraff


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Dear Readers:

Ukiah Animal Shelter Under Siege.

Hello, my name is Linda Quinn.  I foster dogs lucky enough to have found their way to the Ukiah Animal Shelter.  If only all strays and discarded animals could be so lucky.  Volunteering at the shelter has renewed my faith in the innate kindness found in special people.  I see employees and volunteers working their hearts out to help the little Pilgrims who pass through our doors.  Honest, hardworking softies, who should all be saluted for the kindness and tears that go into their accomplishments.  It can be heartbreaking.  It can be rewarding.  It can be everything in between.  The one thing it isn't is easy.

Sadly, it has just come to my attention that we are, again, under attack by individuals who, for reasons known only unto themselves, won't stop bombarding our shelter with unfounded accusations, spiteful sniping, and nonstop harassment.  Its beginning to feel like being stalked.  Its strange and disconcerting, and to what end?  It certainly isn't about the well-being of the animals.  That has been made abundantly clear.

For too long now, we've been forced to work at getting our animals on their feet and into happy homes, while under siege.  I don't understand our attackers' obsession with destroying an organization that has done, and continues to do, such good work.  Maybe they're they're just angry/unhappy bullies, who need a sittin' duck.  I don't know what to think...except that there's nothing as vulnerable and fragile as lost animals, and that the nonstop vindictiveness we're having to endure has to stop.

Please help us.  We're nice people.  Who else would try so hard to do the right thing?

Sincerely, from the bottom of my heart,

Linda Quinn,

Proud Volunteer at the Ukiah Animal Shelter

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To the Editor:

First let me get off my chest a bit of family lore before I segue into the marijuana economy. This is a story with a Ukiah Valley historical twist that should be shared before it is lost: Background: I grew up in Mill Valley, in the 60’s and 70’s. Next door was a vacant lot and just beyond that lived a gay couple. Good neighbors. One of these two guys, Bob, really came through when my mother was terminally ill with cancer in 1970 and my dad needed help transporting her to San Francisco for radiation.

The bottom line: By the 80’s my dad had remarried. He and my stepmother told Bob that they had bought property near Ukiah where they planned to retire. Bob, a California Department of Highways (now Caltrans) engineer told them that Ukiah was the place where they really had fun with the numerous freeway interchange designs. Since there was very little traffic up that way they could try different things as it would really make little difference if they ended up being less than ideal. Bob and his partner Jack are gone now. I never got a chance to tell Bob that one of those on-ramps is so bad (North State Street, north bound) that I will never use it, having seen so many close calls and wrecks there. Often as I drive north and am following the advice of the signs that say “Through Traffic Use Left Lanes Next Three Miles” this story comes to mind.

In my dreams that ramp will get a total redo and I will feel good about using it again. Even though a recent article mentioned that funds for doing the work were not available due to the drop in gas tax revenues, I will continue to hope. When we were faced with the possibility of a shopping center on the Masonite property the only upside I could see was that at least the developer might be forced to fund improvements like that.

Ross Liberty’s purchase of the entire property has got it back on track for industrial use. Thanks Ross! One thing we should consider is this: In February Santa Rosa City Council voted to allow commercial marijuana cultivation in industrial areas. This is just the tip of an iceberg. Right now we are facing, or not facing, a major danger to our local economy: legalization of marijuana will deal a heavy blow to what is the biggest industry we have.

If we do not start moving, and quickly, to prepare our county for big changes, especially in regards to competition from other areas where marijuana has not been grown in the past our economy could be dealt a potentially crippling blow. Government needs to do all it can to work with the marijuana and related industries as well as service businesses so we can position ourselves to maintain Mendocino’s existing reputation in the marijuana economy in what will be an entirely new day. My worst nightmare is that we lose the marijuana money machine to other areas where production costs are lower and we end up like the Appalachian’s after the coal mines began to close.

Taking full advantage of legalization will entail much more than measures like allowing production in industrially zoned areas. Prices are likely to drop too and so we will need to exploit the marijuana industry in new ways to maintain and enhance its economic impact. Mendocino is a beautiful place and so marijuana tourism has great potential. If we can combine our proximity to the Bay Area and our existing tourist draws of the coast, parks and wineries with marijuana tourism based on our reputation as the premier marijuana growing region in the USA we are well positioned to see a very significant increase in tourism.

I have read Ukiah residents’ indignation at the spending of city funds on a hotel study. My feeling is that what is really needed is a broader study and a resulting plan, funded by both county and city governments, for all the towns and cities of Mendocino county, especially the inland areas, that helps us move quickly to take advantage of the tourism potential of marijuana legalization. We have a number of assets that can be retooled to take advantage of marijuana tourism. When thinking of a hotel in downtown Ukiah the Palace Hotel does come to mind. A significant uptick in tourism is just what could make the Palace a viable hotel again. The other big asset in downtown Ukiah that will need to be repurposed is the courthouse. I don’t agree with those who are against building a new courthouse. Funded by court fees, not income or property taxes, Mendocino, not some other county, will get a modern and much safer facility, our economy will receive a temporary boost during construction, the former rail yard will be cleaned up and repurposed and last but not least we will be left with an empty but solid building, the old courthouse, owned by state government, not an underfunded out of towner or a running in the red Postal Service. What about turning it into a center for all of the products we produce from foods, beer and wine, to crafts and art and last but not least marijuana that might appeal to tourists? I am thinking something like the Ferry Building in San Francisco.

Marijuana tourism can have a significant impact on the county north of Ukiah. Willits is a natural marijuana mecca. It could be time to change the wording on the arch over the highway to “Willits, Heart of the Emerald Triangle.” Besides appropriate shops along Main Street an expanded county museum that educates and entertains tourists on the history of marijuana in Mendocino could also be very popular with visitors. The Hotel Van could become Willits version of the Palace in Ukiah. Another type of lodging that is becoming an increasingly important part of the tourism industry is AirBNB and its like. Increased tourism would inevitably result in more demand for this type of lodging. It often flies under the radar resulting in a loss of occupancy taxes. Other areas have seen that this type of lodging has resulted in a loss of rental housing and we don’t want that to happen here. The small stock of rentals is already a problem. The county and the cities could look at existing zoning rules to see if changes can be made to encourage the construction of extra units specifically for this purpose on parcels where adverse impacts can be avoided or minimized. Visitors might be especially intrigued by the idea of a stay on properties with “old school” outdoor marijuana grows combined with rural charm and scenic beauty.

I started off relaying a bit of lore about our local transportation system. Focusing on transportation, marijuana tourism could also help us utilize another one of our “white elephants” : the North Western Pacific Rail line. What if we could end up with a “Pot Train” that ran from Cloverdale to Willits? In Cloverdale the completion of the Sonoma-Marin SMART rail system would allow a tourist in San Francisco to get on the Larkspur Ferry in SF to begin what could be a multi day journey that would end in Willits. There would be stops in Hopland and Ukiah, maybe Calpella and Redwood Valley, that would be within walking distance of downtown areas and in Willits passengers could even transfer to the Skunk and continue to the coast. Getting tourists out of their cars would have help control congestion, reduce air pollution, lessen climate change impacts and keep impaired drivers off the road and from generating bad publicity.

Another type of tourism could be developed along the difficult to repair and maintain for rail service portion of the NWP line north of Willits: do a “rails to trails” conversion of the balance of the line all the way to Eureka. What with the existing businesses along parts of the route, if lodging and food businesses were developed in the section that goes along the Eel River far from the 101 highway the result would be the most spectacular rail trail in the nation for cyclists and hikers. An Emerald Triangle Bike race could be an annual event that would help promote it. Bicycle rentals at appropriate locations would encourage day trips by casual cyclists. This trail could become a very serious magnet for tourists in both Mendocino and Humboldt.

I am sure what I have mentioned is just the beginning. The thing is that to avoid a real local economic downturn from the inevitable shake up in the marijuana industry we are going to have to make the best of it, not let it make the worse for it for our county. If we can plan, make some changes and seize the day I think some really good things could be coming our way.

Michael Toivonen, Redwood Valley

One Comment

  1. izzy May 6, 2016

    A ‘Pot Train’ from Cloverdale to Willits? Brilliant! Since the line will run right through the new courthouse, maybe keeping it all illegal at the misdemeanor level could generate a huge new industry shaking down the tourists. Let’s call it a Bud Tax.

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