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Letters (Aug 10, 2016)

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Hello AVA,

Blake Morrison's short item, ‘Dad’ last week caused me to be again humbled by the remembrance of mine, Jack Witherell. He was the most loving and accessible father I could imagine having and a man of complete integrity. He was born in Fort Bragg in 1931 and raised on the bluff above Indian Creek in Philo. His first work was pulling green chain at the mill. He moved to Santa Rosa after graduating from San Jose State. Here is a picture of him from around 1963 with my sister Tracy.


Every time I look across the valley at Greenwood Ridge I miss his presence in my life.


Ralph Witherell


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Flynn Washburne is always amazing, but "Hellward in a Handbasket" should be required reading for anyone trying to hold on to his sanity in these parlous times. Right on, man!

Also, would you believe at our local beverage place, we actually got some Anderson Valley Brewing Co beer, here in rural upstate NY? It almost restores some of our diminishing supply of faith in the process.

Keep up the good work, gang.

Best from Jim Lowe here in

Elizaville, New York

PS. Had the AV Brewing beer last night, Summer Solstice variety, really tasty. Now I'm semi-fluent in Spanish, French and Welsh, but not Boontling. What does "bahl hornin" on the can mean?

Ed note: It means “Good Drinking”

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Letter To the Editor,

Naomi Klein defines crony capitalism as "politicians handing over public wealth to private players in exchange for political support." I suppose it could be taken as a sign of the meaninglessness of our political process in its current corrupted state that our two dominant political parties are presenting us with presidential candidates representing each side of the transaction this election cycle.

Our unimaginative (or captured) media keep telling me that I must choose in November between Clinton and Trump. Fortunately, to the best of my knowledge, they've not yet acquired the constitutional authority to set the parameters of my choices. When the Democrat party machine made their decision to run the candidate of their own choosing at the top of the slate, rather than submit to the expressed preference of the majority of their party members, they were clearly telling me that they didn't need, want, or expect my vote in the general election. The organization seems to have a greater fear of the perils of reform than they do of losing the Oval Office for a term or two. I will accommodate their rejection of my support by casting my ballot in November for Jill Stein.

And to those digging in at the "lesser evil" camp—

Yes, I'm aware that my vote could help to put Donald Trump in the White House. Trump, in his inane public proclamations, has shown himself to be profoundly ignorant of both the obligations and limitations of the office he seeks, as well as lacking an eighth grade level civics class understanding of either the constitutional powers of Congress or of the fundamental process by which legislation is produced. I believe that his likely impotence in implementing any portion of his rather incoherent agenda makes him a much less dangerous option than a seasoned political player committed to a neo-liberal agenda that includes the Trans-Pacific Partnership, unrestrained support of the financial interests of heavy hitter donors from Wall Street and the resource extraction industries, and a willingness, if not eagerness, to engage in any military adventure which extends the reach of the empire she serves.

So, you see, I can have it all. I can vote for Jill Stein, a candidate that I believe shares my values and will work to promote policies that lead toward both social/economic justice and responsible environmental stewardship, and at the same time settle for what I consider to be the lesser evil.

Michael DeLang

Coal Creek Canyon, Colorado

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Your brother Marc has asked me to write to you. I've been writing to Marc for most of 20 years since he first arrived at my land with an older man who had been my caretaker. Marc at age 19 was a skinny young man who had abused himself with too much alcohol, some drugs and a junk food diet. But he liked it here and begged to stay. I agreed on the condition that he abstain from all drugs including pharmaceuticals, that he eat with me following a strict vegetarian diet. He could enjoy a glass of wine occasionally at dinner, but no other drinking. Moderate marijuana use was acceptable as I consider it a beneficial herb used with restraint. It has helped many people here cure their alcoholism.

I knew my program would work but I never imagined how successful it would be. Marc had been so weak from self abuse that he couldn't walk the last uphill mile to my land without resting at least five times. His legs hurt. A year later he would walk here 5 1/2 miles from the bus stop with a 40 pound bag of dog food for his little dog Bingo on his head -- nonstop.

He had grown strong and healthy. There were a couple of instances where Marc had become hostile but we worked it out. Much later I discovered that a man named Detlef had secretly given him some drugs. Then everything would be okay until a year after he had been there some fake friends gave him some drug concoction. They all decided they wanted to look at a VCR but had no player. So they went to the community center, by then closed, to get a VCR player. Marc broke the window to climb in. However, a neighbor heard glass break and called the police. Marc, hiding under a parked van, was arrested. I went to court for him, met with his conscientious and sympathetic public defender to request a sentence of community service and restitution for the broken window pane. Twice I went to court for him, twice the district attorney claimed not to have completed his paperwork so the hearing was delayed. When I asked for the next court date, I was told in two or three days. Instead the hearing was held the next morning with no witnesses present on Marc’s behalf. The judge, with typical legal cruelty, ignored his lawyer’s plea for clemency, sentencing him to 2.5 years in prison. His attorney, Jan Cole Wilson, told me that she cried all night at the judge's cruelty. The prison sentence, especially harsh for a first offense, ruined the health program Marc had followed with such excellent results.

"Why was the judge so hard-nosed?" I have asked myself many times. It was many years until I found an answer to that question. I think because it is routine for judges to think that when a young person has been sent to juvenile hall that young person is incorrigible and needs to be punished severely. Thus the pipeline from juvenile hall to prison is carelessly established. Marc was definitely a victim of that simplistic, bureaucratic thinking. Thanks to prison enablers like Marc’s judge, the United States has the highest rate of imprisonment of any country in the world.

I don't think Marc needs to be in prison, nor do I think he is even a criminal. He has spent only 3-plus years of freedom since the age of 12. Imprisonment has left its imprint on his thinking and his response to stressful and oppressive situations. The prison with its point systems and ghastly parole violation systems has created a self perpetuating system, guaranteeing jobs for prison guards to wardens, lawyers, courts and judges -- an utterly unjust and corrupt system. The wealthy, no matter how dishonest their dealings, are never or hardly ever held accountable -- just like this outrage of police killing of black people. Not one police officer has been held accountable, guilty, no matter how unjustified killings. What a mess.

This is a story I've long been meaning to write. It just poured out in this letter to you whom I've never met. I would like to find a civil rights lawyer to help Marc to free Marc from that inhospitable violent dungeon system.

Recommended reading: Burning Down the House

Dorothea Dorman

Redwood Valley

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I truly am remorseful for my actions at the Macallum House on Father's Day. My wish for the owner is that he understand that I seek only their forgiveness.

Respectfully and sincerely,

Eros Nelson, wife, mom, grandmother

PS. After 19 years in recovery for the past three or four years my behaviors, drinking, driving, disrespecting (being totally selfish) I've gotten out of hand. Karmically, a couple of months in the can we just love the cosmos ordered. I know that being released on probation in August is the right thing for all parties involved. I can step out on the right track, doing 12 step recovery, being active and helpful in our church (Grace community, Pastor Greg Escher), being a sober and demure wife. Assisting the community in general and form a happier environment for our children and grandchildren. And finally making amends to those I have harmed.

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To Whom it may concern:

Thank you for renewing my free subscription.

You may remember a story about a woman being stabbed in New York and screaming for half an hour and no one came to help her.

About that time I came out from visiting a lady in the hospital in San Francisco and heard a blood chilling scream and caught eye with a man looking as I was to see where the scream was coming from. He started downhill on his side. I started down on my side and about a half block down the hill was a guy with a buck knife pressed against a woman's neck and three guys telling him he wasn't going anywhere and to put down the knife. By this time I was behind him and just then he made a step to get between the two cars. Which he gave me the chance to loop one arm around his neck and grab the hand holding the knife. I banged the knife against my knee and knock the knife out of his hand.

The woman ran off. I nodded at the fellow that had picked up the knife and still had the guy backed up against the parked cars. I left and felt pretty good all in all about the "Frisco" boys — one scream and at least five men were there to help. I don't know if the guy got arrested or not or if they gave him back his knife because the last thing I heard was, "No you won't get your knife back, that was a felony you were doing."

What changed? Has the world just gone crazy? Drive-by shootings, home invasions, I hate to say it, but maybe a guy is better off in the pen, at least it's something to think about. Smile — see, even a bad guy could find himself in a spot to help out and be a good guy. “Watch out he's got a knife" only sealed the fellow’s fate and I take my hat off to the guy who squawked off the guy with a knife.

I can't remember the name of the hospital “computer slowing down” but on the hill across from 17th and Market where I believe I saw the Zodiac — another story for another time.

William Keller


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Dear Editor,

Been a long time coming but I finally wrote about this ongoing bullshit. My name is Eric Lincoln. I am a registered tribal member of the Covelo Round Valley Indian Reservation. I had been here when the tribal cop show first started out here in Covelo. Back then it started out with a guy by the name of Linden Duke. A local hillbilly with his cowboy boots and his trademark black cowboy hat. His stint as a tribal cop didn't last very long. On of his busy days I'm sure he must have rescued at least a few cats from the perils of the dangerous treetops.

After Linden did his duty in Covelo (I don't know if he quit or was fired), he decided to give Laytonville a shot at his skills as a tribal cop. That job over there didn't seem to last much longer. Maybe there weren't enough cats stuck in tops of trees over there.

So nowadays Linden Duke is working at Keith’s market here in Covelo. Something of a security guard or something.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not singling Linden himself out as his regards his duties as a tribal cop. Because as you will read further there are other wannabes who are just as lame and get paid for it too.

Okay, next was William Vanderheiden. I don't know if the last name is the correct spelling, but people know what I'm talking about. Will used to be a real cop (for the county). Again I don't know what the hell he did in Ukiah to get him in the position to end up being a tribal cop.

But Will must have been taking tips from Shannon Barney, who used to be resident cop here and who is now the county "coroner"! to cover up his mistakes.

William V. was following Shannon Barney's footsteps in terms of having sex with the wives of Covelo men while the guy’s at work.

One marriage eventually broke up over William’s extramarital escapades. At one point Will V. brandished his County pistol in the home of one of his paramours while her small children were in the same house!

William V. presumably had been sent to the nut house to undergo a psych evaluation. But lo and behold he's back on the streets of Ukiah doing his civil duty.

All I can say is that Tom Allman sure knows how to pick ‘em. I mean, what the hell does Tom Allman do? Send the psycho cops to Covelo? And if they make the grade he takes them back under his protective wing?

Last but certainly not least is the current so-called "tribal cop." First of all, correct me if I'm wrong, tribal members of any Indian community on the reservation are supposed to have the right to vote as to who they want to hold the position of a tribal cop! (I might be wrong about that.)

Because as it stands I can honestly say that I have not witnessed a single thing that these current tribal cops have done to benefit the Round Valley Indian community. So what are they getting paid for besides riding around in their black tribal cars trying to convey a sense of importance when in all actuality they are not doing shit.

The only thing these losers love about their jobs is pulling up people’s weed crops! I'm not the only Indian community member who feels the Covelo tribal cop idea was a waste of time and money. Let them go to work at Keith’s Market along with Linden Duke. They will be helping us a lot more by bagging our groceries than what they are doing now.


Eric Lincoln


PS. I am willing to swear in a court of law to the validity of the content of this letter.

PPS. Tom: let me know if you need help trimming this year.

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Many Republicans seem to be surprised and distressed to see their party taken over by Donald Trump. They can blame themselves for the base they built.

The GOP has solicited, indulged, and pandered to people who want to believe that President Obama is a Kenyan-born Muslim; that Planned Parenthood makes money selling baby parts; that the universe is 6,000 years old; that 'happy holidays' insults their faith; that the world's scientific community is conspiring in a climate change hoax; that a same-sex marriage threatens heterosexual marriages; that Fox News is the only unbiased, trustworthy news source; that Obama has taken our freedom and will soon try to take our guns. We can thank this coalition of angry, fact-averse voters for Donald Trump.

They have been told so often that government doesn't work that they see no danger in electing a man who is unfit to govern, just because he gives voice to their anger. These are the kind of voters who can ignore Trump's entire business history and believe that he will now be the champion of the middle class. And how do you explain Trump's parallels with fascism to people who have been drawing Hitler mustaches on Obama's picture?

Michael McCord


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Laws are changing.

It's been awhile since I was sentenced in your archaic system in Mendocino County. My case is in the Federal Court of Appeals and there are a couple of major issues coming up that will bring me back to Mendoland for re-sentencing and possibly a new trial.

According to the feds, it's illegal for the State of California to use prior strikes taken under a plea agreement on a plea bargain. Both of my prior strikes fall under that. And my first strike was before November 1994: it's no longer a strike. In all three of my strikes no one was physically hurt. I truly regret the incident involving Deputy Brewster and I still insist I did not try to kill him. If that had been the case I would have shot him at the initial stop. Regardless of Chris Skaggs statement, that's not what happened.

I am hopeful and remain positive and, worst-case scenario, lifers got their family visits back, so —


Walter K. Miller

High Desert State Prison

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Aug. 1st 2016

RE: Outlet Creek Asphalt Plant UNPAID fines and penalties totaling $173,225 and new permit negotiations with MCAQMD

Dear Mendocino County BOS, I am a resident of the Cherry Creek Subdivision located adjacent to the Longvale asphalt plant on Outlet Creek. At your July 19, 2016 BOS meeting, myself and multiple neighboring property owners addressed you during the Public Comment portion of the meeting; pleading with you as the de-facto Directors of the Mendocino Air Quality District NOT to issue new permits allowing more asphalt production on Outlet Creek, and requesting that existing Air Quality violation penalties totaling $173,225.00 not be waived, negotiated downward or ignored.

The comments below were read into the record and also emailed to each of you, with a reply requested. To date no replies have been received.

BACKGROUND: During your March 15th 2015 meeting, on recommendation from 3rd District Supervisor Woodhouse, the 5 of you voted unanimously to fast track approval of asphalt production on Outlet Creek, citing “original jurisdiction” under Resolution 15-054, thus bypassing the County's Design Review process. My community's concerns over air pollution, noise impacts, and degradation of the Outlet Creek watershed, which were presented to you in written form and in person prior to, during, and after your March 2015 meeting, were ignored.

At that meeting, the project's owner stated in his proposal that his new rubberized asphalt plant would be, quote, "more efficient" than the old non-operating plant that had been rusting on the site, unused, for a decade.

What my community actually experienced while the plant was in operation last year was not a “more efficient” operation, but instead was a facility operated in violation of the Air Quality permit issued by the Mendocino Co Air Quality Management District. The Outlet Creek Canyon was filled with dust and choking air pollution and the unabated, uncontrolled smoke and acrid odor of burning rubber, trapped by the narrow canyon and weather inversions that form there. According to an October 14, 2015 investigation by the California Air Resources Board, during this period, the facility was in willful violation of multiple statutes of the California Health and Safety Code. Despite assurances from you, our Board of Supervisors, public health was not protected. You have all been provided a copy of the CARB report which was submitted to the Clerk of the Board on 7/19/16. Also submitted was photographic documentation and public testimony on multiple air pollution episodes caused by the asphalt plant emissions, provided to you by multiple neighbors who live and breathe above the asphalt plant to the north and south along Covelo road.

Over $173,000 in fines and penalties were levied against Grist Creek Aggregates and Mercer Fraser for violating your Air District's regulations, the CA Health and Safety Code, and multiple permit conditions in the facility’s Authority to Construct permit. To date none of these fines have been paid by the offending facility, and they were in fact allowed to complete their contracts without fixing their poorly maintained and operated facility. Last Thursday, on July 14th, the facility operators began new negotiations with your Air Pollution Control Officer, Mr. Scaglione, seeking new permits for another paving project, AND simultaneously I am told by Mr. Scaglione, seeking a reduction of penalties still on the books.

I am writing to ask three things of you as the Directors of the Mendocino County Air Quality Management District; 1.

Please direct your Air Pollution Control Officer, Mr. Scaglione, to uphold the laws protecting your constituents from illegal environmental pollution and to collect the full dollar amount in fines and penalties that have been assessed against Grist Creek Aggregates and Mercer Fraser in the amount of $173,225. Allowing these penalties to be negotiated away on promises of future good behavior from the asphalt plant operators is a slap in the face to the constituents your represent. 2.

Before considering ANY new permits for this facility, and as a condition to be met before the MCAQMD accepts new permit applications, require the facility to hire an appropriately designed meteorological study (weather study), vetted and approved by the California Air Resources Board, to fully characterize the formation, duration and extent of summer and fall weather inversions in the Outlet Creek Canyon. (These inversion patterns have been documented by both CARB and the MCAQMD to trap asphalt plant emissions in the breathing zone of families living on both sides of Covelo road.) 3.

Once the inversion patterns have been fully characterized, do not allow the facility to produce asphalt during these periods.

I’d like to emphasize that the seasonal inversion issue is the exact mechanism and justification used by the Air District for its wintertime open burning ban; when inversions form, they trap air pollution in valleys, resulting in poor air quality, public nuisances, and unhealthy breathing conditions for the public.

It is within your authority as the Directors of the County Air Quality District to require these three actions of your Air Pollution Control Officer, who serves at your pleasure.

Please do not use the excuse of ongoing litigation to delay taking action to protect the public from further harm originating with the previous approvals and permitting of this facility. Lives have been disrupted and damaged; property values and public health have been harmed. This facility is in a bad location and its ongoing operation, due to the topography of the canyon which traps noise and pollution, is a virtual guarantee of ongoing public nuisance complaints which will continue to cost the county money and resources.

The lives of the families in my community depend on their right to a clean livable environment and the peaceful enjoyment of their homes and properties. Our welfare depends on your leadership and we are keenly watching how decisions are made by you, our County leaders and regulators. We are not going away, there is too much at stake.

Your response would be greatly appreciated.

Glen Colwell, PH: 707-836-6595

Ambient Air Monitoring Program Manager (Retired 2014), Bay Area Air Quality Management District - San Francisco CA


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