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Letters (May 18, 2016)

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Dear Editor,

My wife was recently accosted by a transient man in Mendocino while dropping off our daughter at the Rainbow School next to the Presbyterian Church. Long story short, we ended up contacting the school and the authorities regarding the issue (verbal threats). I wanted to first state that the mental health issues in this area is obviously still a serious problem (not just in Ukiah and Fort Bragg) and that I hope that we make some headway in this County to deal with it in an appropriate manner and not just place the burden on law enforcement.

Thanks to Tim Stoen for hearing our concerns. I also wanted to thank Georgia Collin and her staff at Rainbow School for taking this issue seriously. I dropped my daughter off this morning and was very pleased to see Pastor Matthew Davis sitting out in front of the Presbyterian Church with a Mendocino County Sheriff (thanks Karl!) keeping an eye on things.

But where is State Parks? They own the land on the bluffs where many of the transients hang out all day intoxicated. State Parks has lots of law enforcement. I would hope they could bring something to the table to help deal with this situation.


Kirk Vodopals

from the Deep End, Navarro

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I read Mike Koepf's story about the death of "A Good Man" in the May 11 edition. It had special interest for me because Charles Keating was a Navy Seal killed in Syria. And like him I was a Navy Seal before the Seals existed.

The Navy Seals became a part of the United States Navy in the late 1950s. Before then we were called Frogmen. I was a Frogman. I was sent to Vietnam as a military advisor in 1956. My mission was to survey about 500 miles of beaches on the east coast of Vietnam up to the 17th parallel near Hue. The mission was a preparation for the war that began in 1964.

The only reason I was not killed and Charles Keating was killed is that I was lucky and he was not. Neither of us should have been where we were.

I feel resentful for the disregard for life that exists in the United States military. I think they refer to loss of life as "collateral damage" — a fancy phrase for "tough shit."

What I feel most resentful about today is that fine young men are dying in a war that has not been declared. They think they are fighting "to protect our country." When in fact they are fighting to protect our corporate interests. Our country is not threatened. But our economic interests are. The sons of the wealthy are not dying, poor young men are.

President Eisenhower warned us about the "military-industrial complex" when he left office in 1960. The Congress is not willing to stand up and demand an accounting for the loss of American men.

If I sound angry it is because I am. I am lucky to be alive and feel it is my duty to stand up for those who are vulnerable and naive. Being a "good man" does not ensure protection against a bad man's weapons.

May Charles Keating rest in peace. I am writing this to make sure that he did not die in vain.

Ashley Jones


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First of all, I'm not against medical marijuana or the eventual legalization of recreational use of such drug. What I am against is the lax zoning ordinances that have permitted the cultivation of large crops growing in close proximity to my property. I live in a large rural area of Fortuna that is zoned for agriculture. When I think of agriculture, I imagine hay, cattle and the type of foods that will be sold at our local farmers market.

What the state and Humboldt County have done is allow a product that is essentially a drug to be grown in agricultural areas. It is by no means tolerable for residents living close to the city. We have citizen rights and when a growing operation appears on your neighbor's property it violates those citizen rights and jeopardizes our public safety. In addition to butchering the aesthetics of your neighborhood, it will no doubt bring on other problems, some of which include decimating property values, odors, enticement of the criminal element and increased traffic, just to mention a few. Marijuana grow sites have no place within our city and rural residential neighborhoods.

Let's get it right, California!

Timothy Meade


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Killing tan oaks may make it easier for timber companies to extract more valuable trees but is that reason enough to continue the practice of using the herbicide imazapyr during a time of drought?

It is not only tan oaks that are killed by this herbicide. Imazapyr is used to control many deciduous trees including madrone. It is absorbed rapidly and accumulates in the meristem or active growth region of the plant. Imazapyr is an ingredient of Roundup GroundClear. A related herbicide called imazapic is an ingredient in Roundup Extended Control. Both chemicals are non-selective, long-lasting, and very effective. They are, however, water-soluble, and depending on soil type and moisture they can move into other parts of the landscape. Some desirable landscape plants including ash, linden, and cherry trees are especially sensitive to them and can be damaged.

After years of herbicide use is a forest healthy enough to withstand sudden oak death, a disease that has killed millions of trees, including tanoaks, coast live oak, California bay laurels and many other forest species in coastal areas of central and northern California and Oregon? And what about the fauna and the rest of the interconnected ecology of the forest?

According to the research of David Rizzo, Professor of Plant Pathology at UC Davis, when sprayed tan oaks that are left standing are ablaze they carry flames high into tree canopies scorching the crowns of adjacent redwood trees. This compounded with the release of toxic fumes is a recipe for disaster. Measure V safeguards residents from this dangerous industrial practice and will require all timber companies to “leave no dead standing trees.”

Let’s hold the feet of all timber companies to the fire and insist on safe forest practices before an irreversible catastrophic fire happens.

Vote Yes on V.

Jenny Burnstad


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If you happened to see the USA Today story today - maybe in other newsprint sources - on the great “Panama Papers” caper, the former NFL player Leonard Gotshalk of Oregon, who was mentioned as having been under SEC investigation for securities fraud, is the same Leonard Gotshalk from Lakeport I mentioned in that piece you ran about the 1966-67 Panther varsity basketball team. Len’s NFL career only lasted a few years and he then became a fairly successful cattle rancher and real estate investor in Lake County. Unfortunately, he had several run-ins with the law on such mundane things as real estate fraud, forgery, money conversion (a civil word for theft), etc. Seems like he did some time, at the least got stuck with some fines and restitution orders, and then wound up in Oregon, where as I recall he got himself into the same kind of jam. Anyway, it just caught my eye while I was glancing at the front page of the paper this morning at the grocery store and thought I’d pass it along. As for the best AV teams, not having seen a high school game since March 2003, my assessment of this year’s squad was obviously based only on what I read in the AVA! Richie was one I’d forgotten about on the pure shooter’s list - the Boonville Bomber. Waiting for the W’s to close out Portland tomorrow night…

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Leonard Gotshalk, a former NFL football player with ties to Southern Oregon, also appears in the Panama Papers. Like Wiederhorn, Gotschalk has a checkered legal history. He was indicted in May 2010 on charges he participated "in a scheme that used kickbacks and other tactics to inflate the prices of tech-company stocks," according to a report from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

That same month, the new database shows, Gotschalk created a British Virgin Islands shell company called Irishmyst Consultants Limited. Records indicate Mossack Fonseca recorded a $3,055 wire transfer from Gotshalk at the time.

Norman Clow

Spring, Texas

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Dear Congressman Jared Huffman:

I just wrote to Vice President Joe Biden at his White House email address and copied him on this link (below) from Sen. Lincoln Chafee back in 2015. Hillary Clinton is not Presidential material. She has serious character deficits. I asked Joe to declare his interest in running with Bernie Sanders as Bernie's candidate for Vice President before the FBI indicts Clinton.

We must unite against the GOP, if we are to win in November.

Thank you.

John Sakowicz


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There’s new hope at the Mendocino Art Center. For the first time in years, adult supervision has arrived. With new board members Debra Lennox, Janis Porter and Donna Worster. All of whom seem genuinely concerned about restoring MAC to its once vibrant state. Childish board members John Cornacchia, Patrick “Rick” Keller and Dale Moyer are — as usual — oblivious to public concern. Whenever a member of the public spoke out at last week’s board meeting, Spanky and Our Gang jumped down their throats. You can see it on the video. Kudos to Derek Hoyle and Channel D Productions for recording that meeting.

Scott M. Peterson


PS: You can see more nonprofit nonsense at my weakly video comic strip, Mendopia.

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Dear Editor:

The role of the Evangelical vote in elections has been important. However, as the US continues the trend towards becoming more secular it probably will affect the weight of the Evangelical vote. In assessing the role of religion I find the Pew Research Center on Religion and the General Social Survey (GSS) provides the best information.

For this letter I will be using the reports of GSS which has been gathering data on various social issues including religion since 1972. The last study on religion was in 2014 with findings released in 2015. I would assume the trends displayed in that report continue to the present. The figures show that there has been a steady decease since 1990 in a preference for no religion up to 21% in 2014 from 8% in 1990. Praying and attending religious services are also less frequent than they were 20 years ago. Most demographic groups are less religious. Women are generally more religious than men with 18% of women compared to 25% of men with no religious preference. Among 18-24 year olds, 33% prefer no religion compared to people 75 years or older where it was only 5% who had no preference. Education has a difference with “no preference” increasing from 15% for high school dropouts to 23% for those with some college.

As would be expected the South is the most religious part of the country with 15% having no religious preference while the Pacific Coast region was the highest “no preference” region at 30%. What I have discussed is only a very small part of the report but it supports the overall findings that the country is becoming more secular.

As a sidebar, the answers depend on the way the question is asked. A few years a Pew Research Center on Religion in a survey asked "Do you believe in a God?” A very high percentage in the 90s answered “yes.” Then the survey asked, “Do you believe there is a God?” A very high percentage in the the 90s answered yes. Then they were asked, “Do you believe in a personal God (who hears and answers your prayers)?” And there was a very significant drop in the percentage who believed in a personal God.

In peace and love,

Jim Updegraff


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To the Editor:

Have to laugh at the article in Sunday’s Ukiah Daily Journal. The City is considering allowing live music all up and down Dora Street (a residential area), and in other residential areas all over town without requiring a permit. This allows live music until 10pm. Has any thought been given as to how it will negatively impact people who want peace and quiet at home after a long work week? Most people go to a venue to listen to music, as a venue is generally isolated from neighborhoods. This works, and was an outgrowth of concerns raised when live music impinged on the rights of homeowners to enjoy the quietude of their home. Here’s where it gets amusing. If you want to have a Community Garden, there will be a “standard for noise.” Really? Rowdy bunch, those gardeners. What in heck is going on at City Hall, and with the City Council? Have they all lost their minds? It seems like each new decision made degrades our personal quality of life in the pursuit of them making money. Perhaps the new City slogan should be “will do anything for money.” The shoe fits.

L. Gail Dammuller


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Revenue enhancement—

The paragraphs in Off the Record about fines stirred up a memory of when I was on the Juvenile Justice and Deliquency Prevention Commission. Then-Sheriff Tuso has proposed a "Teen Party Ordinance" which basically said that if the sheriffs were called to a residence because of complaints and an unsupervised juvenile party was in progress and the juvenile who lived there was told to “cease and desist the disturbance” and, that, if the police left and were recalled, the parent or parents, ostensibly in control, could be charged the costs of enforcement. He wanted the Commission's blessing to take this to the Board of Supervisors. I opposed this since any, usually single, parent who had a child, apparently at least somewhat out of control, that was left alone while they were working would in no way benefit when their parent was "fined" for their actions. Quite the contrary in terms of delinquency prevention. Since most of the other commissioners were glad to go along with whatever the Sheriff asked, in part since they often worked for programs that had a relationship with law enforcement, I brought up, having consulted an attorney, the fact that there were, as I recall, 17 laws/regulations on the books that allowed law enforcement to break up the party. Sheriff Tuso responded, completely openly: This is not an enforcement issue; it is a revenue enhancement measure. The JJ&DPC voted overwhelmingly (as I recall, I was a minority of one) to support the Sheriff's efforts. This was only one of the Commission's actions that resulted in my resignation some time later.

Peter Lit


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Ahhh, isn’t it nice to see some of the recent constructive activities going on in our beloved Valley? It seems like after so many years of being kind of a backwater it’s a treat to see some nice architecture for a change.

I have been watching the progress of the new gas station and minimart being built up by the Coyote Valley casino. They were working on it throughout this rainy winter, and I was impressed to see how quickly it came together and opened for business; quite a handsome piece of commercial construction to see alongside the fairly scenic 101 corridor north of Ukiah.

I recently made it by there to fill up with their bargain priced fuel and take a look around the imposing structure; whoever designed and built it deserves major kudos for this relatively nice addition to the view from the highway. It is well worth the drive to stop and check it out; I especially liked the lustrous ground concrete floors, where the concrete was ground down into it enough to make the aggregate look like terrazzo. The bathrooms also have lovely tile work that is simple and elegant, and the entryway with its imaginative complexity of bolted-together timbers reminded me of Japanese pagoda construction. A worthy addition to Ukiah’s short list of decent-looking commercial structures.

Of course it is great to see the rapid progress being made on the new Chipotle restaurant at Perkins and Orchard. The work on the long abandoned lot seems to be moving along at a brisk pace, and it will be nice to see what the finished structure looks like, as the only other Chipotle that I have seen is the one in Santa Rosa, which is built into an existing mall structure, but nevertheless has created a very nice kind of postmodern ambience, with walls made of a beautiful plywood perforated by varied-size holes. The food there is really tasty too.

Now, it will sure be nice to see the In and Out Burger crews get to work sometime on the wretched old Fjord’s ruin that has blighted our town for decades (shouldn’t that junkyard fence and mysterious triangle of wheel stops have been condemned as a public nuisance many years ago?). How galling has it been all these years to have this eyesore presented to the traveling public as the face of Ukiah as they come off the main freeway off ramp into our humble little burg?

I’m sure that a solid majority of county residents are really looking forward to Costco’s arrival on the long-vacant lot between Friedman Brothers and the Mendocino Brewery. Unfortunately, here in the land of apparently unlimited frivolous litigation, some hack lawyer from the Central Valley has convinced the court system that he has standing to hang up this hugely popular project for many months so that he can pursue whatever kind of nonsensical lawsuit the justice system apparently permits him to. If I were the judge, I would slap him with a million dollars worth of frivolous litigation fines for his obstruction of the public will. The county has got to borrow a few million dollars to make the necessary improvements on the Talmage on the off ramps (not to mention probably rebuilding the entire crumbling Airport Park Boulevard), before Costco will even consider starting construction, but this expenditure would be quickly repaid by tax receipts from the store. I just heard today for the first time that even after that lawsuit is settled, there are others waiting in line. It’s so hard to do anything, no matter how popular and beneficial it may be to the local economy, in this litigious state, without being dragged through millions of dollars worth of court costs!

On the subject of ridiculous legal proceedings, wasn’t that incredibly annoying when some clueless out-of-county judge dropped into Ukiah to render his decision on the decades-long Palace Hotel fiasco? As anyone who has been following the story is aware, the Palace Hotel is owned by a delusional old woman who believes that any day now eager investors are going to line up to shower millions of dollars on her to restore the Palace Hotel to its former glory. This belief of hers is unshakable; so much so that she neglected to pay her contractor the better part of a million dollars or so in anticipation of those investors knocking at her door. Obviously, decades on, her clinging to this belief despite never having a single soul interested in lending her so much as a dollar, demonstrates that she is apparently in need of psychiatric help, rather than arbitration.

So for this judge to counsel city to enter into arbitration with her means to me that he must be almost as delusional as her. What has the city been doing for all these years of futile negotiations with her? The occasional stories in the media about the situation do not help much either; every time I read that the city wishes to appoint a public receiver in order to, “take over the rehabilitation of the Palace Hotel,”

I can only laugh in frustration. Let us be clear: there will never be any “rehabilitation” of that structure. Anyone who knows anything about construction will tell you that the structure is way too far gone, and that the only sensible thing to do with it is to raze it completely and start over, even if you wish to end up with a building that looks exactly like the Palace does today on the exterior. How many more years or decades will it be until the struggling downtown Ukiah may finally be able to do something with all of that space right in the center of town?!

Oh well, you win some, you lose some. Ukiah will always be our town Ukiah, for better or for worse.

John Arteaga


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Dear Friends of MendoVito:

As you will by now know, Andrew will be returning to Europe to try a different approach to enabling people to build communities. However that does not mean that the vision for a village town in Mendocino County is over.

When I left in February it was clear to me that until we secured funding there was little more that I could do in Ukiah. Also, it was also a bit challenging for me to work through the dishonest hostility encountered after the November Hopland meeting. For the first half-year from April through October 2014 everything was falling into place so well. We found an approval process, we found land, and while there was skepticism that it could be done, it appeared folks were open to the idea and wanted to know more. There had been pressure from the beginning to call meetings, yet we found the one on one working well. It was my mistake to go along with the idea of the November meeting. It was not fatal, but it sure turned the whole vibe upside down. It was a bit mind blowing to encounter the likes of Wendal Nicholaus turning the vintners against it — including ones who previously had expressed strong support. Sure, it's just politics, and there will always be opponents, but I began to understand what one insightful person meant when he said there are a lot of seemingly solid people in the Hopland region who have a few screws loose. When I got home I took some time to detoxify as well as mend some fences (literally) since leaving our place for a year took its toll on the property as well as our bank account.

After I got home to New Zealand, Andrew had me read "Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World" by Peter Diamandis and he then asked me what the "takeaway" was. He intended that the takeaway was crowd funding, but for me it was to secure a super credibility. So before we go find funds we need to bring on board key influencers to give it that credibility. Basically, it's time to put the idea into the national and international dialogue without the pressure of a fur-fight in Hopland. My understanding is that a lot of the opposition as shown in the Nicholaus letter is actually quite weak and in fact I would be opposed to what Nicholas wrote about. Only thing is the proposal in his letter was not MendoVito, it was MendoVandal (the origin of the name Wendel is "Vandal"), a figment of his imagination.

So here is where I see we are:

The land is there and I expect the Bilbos will be farming it for the next 30 years. If a village town proposal comes back to them with the right money and a fully approved specific plan, I expect they will sell. I don't see any time pressure there.

The citizen sponsored land-use initiative process is still there. If funding can be put together to implement a proper consultation and engagement process. I expect it will get the signatures and the votes. Again, no time pressure.

The pressure is regional, national and global. Things are failing. People are getting more desperate (especially Americans, I have to say). They want new answers, better solutions — especially parents of young children and baby boomers.

We need to work with that timing, not fight it. Go with the flow. It flowed until November, then the tide turned. It will turn again, but when it does it will need village towns to have attained super credibility.

Andrew suggested to me when we spoke last week that it probably should not be branded MendoVito. Bring in funding with a new name with professionals taking control of the message so that people know precisely what is proposed and the silliness of opposition like the Susan Poor letters don't gain standing. I don't have a problem with people debating the facts — it will add 10,000 people to the county — but let's make sure we argue about a village town and not someone's MendoVandal dystopian nightmare as Nicholaus presented.

I'm not sure what to do about the momentum. I understand friends of MendoVito plan to have a booth at the Bioneers conference. People are still clicking "like" on the MendoVito webpage. So I look to you for guidance. It is your county, not mine. I'm here to support. Feel free to pick up the phone and call me. 707/320-1100 works as does 510/629-3000, both California numbers. Remember that when it is 5pm in California it is noon in New Zealand.

Thank you all for the great progress to date.

Claude Lewenz

New Zealand

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