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Letters (Sept. 21, 2016)

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Back in the days when the Philo radio station began its day with the NPR news program, a lady came in each morning to open the door and put the station on in the air. Usually she came in 30-45 minutes early, played classical music until her shift began. Her name was Loretta Houck.

A reader


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To The Editor,

If you want election results early, there is something you can do. After 18 years working as a poll worker in Mendocino County elections where federal, state and local candidates appear on the ballot, I think I know a thing or two about how our local elections work. In July, I attended a refresher session that was put on by the County Elections Clerk/Registrar of Voters. So I’m pretty sure that what I say in this letter is correct.

Ballots are processed as they come in. Before Election Day, all mail-in ballots received in the Elections Office are prepared for scanning. They are not scanned until the polls close at 8 PM on Election Day. Those mail-in ballots are the basis of the early election results report. The scanners are not connected to the Internet, making them hack proof.

It’s within the power of voters to get earlier election results. It’s easy: just mail in your ballot, take it to the Elections Office, or drop it in the special ballot box that is in front of 501 Low Gap in UKIAH, in view of the Registrar’s office window. If you hand in your ballot at a polling place, it will wait to be counted with the ballots that are filled out at the polling places.

Janie Sheppard


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We now know that between 2011-15, 5,300 Wells Fargo employees opened 2 million unneeded accounts for customers, ordered credit cards without customers’ permission and forged client signatures. No one was charged for criminal acts and no one will face jail time.

He admits that if business is good, you don’t have to stretch like this, clearly implying that unethical and illegal actions are acceptable when profits are down. And a corporate governance expert leaves accountability with the Wells Fargo board, forgiving John Stumpf by adding otherwise, he has been a successful CEO.

It is a sad commentary on our society when corporate crime is not only condoned, but an accepted industry practice. Is white-collar crime acceptable if everybody does it? Is it acceptable if there is no accountability and no consequences?

Keith Weber

San Mateo

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Letter to the Editor

Calling All Locavores (and their friends).

A Locavore is a person whose diet consists only or principally of locally grown or produced food. We actually have two coastal people, Sarah Bodnar and Gowan Batiste, who spent a year literally eating only locally grown food. What a concept! How local can you go? October is C’mon Home To Eat month in the Anderson Valley Foodshed... a Foodshed being analagous to a Watershed.

October is also harvest month, giving us an abundance of healthy, locally grown produce. This year the organization called the Anderson Valley Foodshed is beginning an exciting new program. Locals can pick up tickets at the Saturday morning Farmer’s Market at the Boonville Hotel Parking Lot that will give them 10% off a dinner purchased at a local restaurant that is serving local food.

The restaurants will each choose one night in October dedicated to a locally grown dinner. Some of our restaurants provide way more that one night per month of local food, but this pilot program will spotlight one night per restaurant. Pick up your tickets at the Farmer’s Market on Saturday. And while you’re at it get your shopping done for the week!

Mary Pat Palmer


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Though not a subscriber I am nevertheless a regular reader of the AVA and I comment as follows from that perspective.

The front page pieces often touch on issues that I am grateful to you for illuminating. Two articles from recent issues come to mind: industrially lobbied zoning decisions in Sonoma County to convert water conserving forest land to water guzzling vineyards; and forest management practices much closer to home on Timberland owned by Mendocino Redwood Company. These were informative and worth the reading.

But for all their relevance, the lead articles are commonly poorly organized, prolix and predictable in orientation. They meander like sluggish streams with no discernible current. And they are long, very, very long.

So I find considerable irony in learning that you wish to restrict Steve Sparks' weekly report on the high school soccer team to 500 words. Is there a double standard in play here? Seems like it from out here in reader world.

What I like best in the AVA is news that pertains directly to the doings of the local population: for example, the high school football players, reporting about whom is not subject to any word limitation of which I am aware; the lady volleyball players; and the young gentleman who play soccer. I usually turn first to Valley People and then to Turkey Vulture. I appreciate what I learn there about local doings.

All this to say that I request respectfully that there be no word limitation imposed on soccer reporting. Please let Coach Sparks express himself as fully as you allow your byline article authors to do.

I know from Steve's earlier interview columns that he does not waste words. The AVA will not suffer if you allow him full freedom of speech during the four months or so during which soccer is played. There are many people hereabout for whom futbol is fully as important as football.

Sincerely yours,

Bill Sterling


ED REPLY: Unchain the Brit? We're discussing how many more words to grant him pending close examination of his green card. As the discussion stands here in the editorial offices of Boonville's beloved weekly, we're stuck in the wilds ranging from 50 to a hundred, but expect a reasonable compromise soon, assuming his credentials are in order.

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Candidate Heads For Tall Grass Tail Between Legs.

by Rex Gressett

Paul Katzeff is paying for this to run in the stinking little Advocate, since my blacklisting continues despite my candidacy. (He will try, we will see). I have learned so much and seen so much and the other candidates Bernie and Will know things that I did not know, I just hope I can make sense out of it all I am going to try.

One more vote for Bernie and Will.

As I ride around Fort Bragg on the moped, I am seeing more and more evidence of the strong support in the community for the candidacies of Bernie Novell, and Will Lee. Nothing could make me more happy.

As a few people know I also am going to be on the ballot in November.

When I decided to run it was because the nomination process for city council is conducted in great privacy. None of us knew when we filled out the forms and took the oath to run for the city council who else would be running.

However even if I had heard that Will or Bernie was running I am embarrassed to say I did not know them.

I knew Scott Menzies was running and had as we all do, a pretty good idea of what Scott stands for. He has never many any secrete of his unqualified support for each and every policy of the city manager and the mayor without exception. He supports their conduct of the affairs of the city, and tells us his personal rule is not to question anything that they might want him to say. He expects the citizens of the city to follow his example.

He is forcefully in favor of the subordination of the elected City Council to the professionals at City Hall. He supports the Byzantine regulations that have made us into a ghost town not for any clear reason but out of a strong belief that authority ought not be questioned. Now he wants be that authority.

I felt that I had to run. Early in the process I had significant support promised to me.

But as the people of the city woke up to who it was that had stepped forward to run for this crucial office I began to hear about Will and about Bernie. My own support dried up. My feelings were distinctly hurt so I went to see these candidates for city council. The people were right. These were men with deep roots in the community. These were men very aware of every issue that concerned me. These guys were quite obviously and without question the leaders that we have been looking for. Honest, able, and courageously willing to assert the right of the elected representatives of the people to direct our professional managers, indignant that there were those that wanted it the other way around.

I trust them explicitly. And I have confirmed that they have excellent information and a thorough understanding of the situation. Better than my own.

Let us rejoice that the people of the city have declined to let a hardened group of manipulators at city hall and their willing supporters on the city council continue unopposed.

Of course I am very sorry to be on the ballot. Do not waste the vote, I am not concerned with gestures.

It was my fault for not knowing enough about Fort Bragg and the great talent that we have here, and for jumping to the conclusion that it was my responsibility to save the city.

The city has saved me, it has given me a home and friends and a life that I love. I want nothing other than the very best for our town. Nothing personal can matter and it dose not. I hope that in the future I can bring something to the discussion but for now, all of my efforts will be directed toward electing Bernie Novell and Will Lee.

Rex Gressett

Fort Bragg

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Dear AVA,

The majority of American citizens would not agree with the statement that the United States is a police state. But the majority of those same citizens doesn't know and doesn't want to know any of the hard facts. Such as: there are an estimated 2.2 million people sitting in jail and prison on any given day. And that is not counting the 8 million people who are under some other form of state control like probation, parole, etc. That's about one out of every 23 adults. It's doubtful that most people know that there are an estimated one in four adults who have criminal records. These are all current numbers and are for the most part news even to me who has a vested interest in this information.

I am one of those "sorry bastards." Besides the insane number of convicted people there are tens of millions of people who've never spent a day in jail or even been arrested who have been adversely affected and had their minds formed (and deformed) by America's lock 'em up policy. I'm talking about the families of prisoners. Millions of children are growing up with a parent in prison. In some cases for their whole childhood. Or even their whole lives. My youngest son was one year old when I went to prison for protecting his mother. He will be 18 this year.

With just 5% of the world's population, the United States is home to 25% of the world's prisoners and almost a third of all the women in jails and prisons worldwide!

Time for prison reform is now! And the only reason that it is on the table is money. So much is being spent on locking people up and the impact is hurting everything else. There are millions of dollars wasted on California's concentration camps that could be used for the people rather than against them. The only people the current system helps is prison guard unions, law enforcement groups and the private corrections industry and they all stand in the way of prison reform, rehabilitation and any cuts to the prison population. They want longer sentences, life terms for all and no rehabilitation. That's the only way for them to have "job security." Stopping recidivism is not in their best interest. They want the transition from prison to the streets to be impossible. They do not want you to make it or to have any help reentering society. No educational, vocational, housing or economic help. Why would they? They need you to fail! I know this sounds very cynical, but it's no exaggeration.

The incarceration rate in the United States is the highest in the world. Higher than the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany ever were. The cost of running the police state is starting to take its toll and there is talk of cutting prison costs. In fact this is really the only reason there is talk of prison reform and of reducing the prison population. The only way to cut all the spending on "corrections" is to shut down prisons and lay off guards. Long prison sentences for relatively minor crimes just creates bigger problems. Turning petty criminals into hardened convicts is not good for public safety. What can a man do upon release when the deck is stacked against him? Re-entry is important but you can't just focus on the soon to be released. What's needed is to reduce the number of people who are sent to prison in the first place. Prison should be reserved for people who continue to pose a serious threat to the public, not for property crimes, drug possession, etc. We need to repeal mandatory minimum sentences and habitual offender laws including the Three Strikes nightmare. And as to the newly paroled — condemning people with criminal records to second-class citizenship needs to end so that reentry is possible. Ex-prisoners should be able to vote, serve on juries, and be able to access public benefits like student loans etc. Employment and licensing restrictions should only be inflicted on people who have very specific records where there is a real public safety concern like keeping sex offenders from working around children, service jobs, etc.

There are so many people serving long prison sentences even though they no longer pose a serious to society. Until there is some serious prison reform I will be convinced the United States is a police state. Don't waste your time trying to change my mind. This is a truth that cannot be denied. I sincerely hope you don't become a victim of this so-called "land of the free."

Scott Pinkerton


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An Open Letter To Kenny & Alison through Jim Shields, Editor of the Mendocino County Observer:

(The charge for the man who killed Kenny with one blow, while Kenny's thumbs were reportedly locked into his belt loops, has been reduced by the Mendocino County DA from murder to aggravated assault according to the Mendocino County Observer.)

September 8, 2016, Dear Jim,

Thank you for listening carefully and respectfully to Alison and printing her side of the story of her son Kenny’s death. I hope that it will help justice to prevail in a world today where those with fewer resources must fight to get what is supposedly for all.

I am deeply saddened by Kenny’s death and the pain, anger, and numbness that Alison is going through. You are a journalism hero of mine in many ways, Jim.

I’ve known Alison and Kenny well since Kenny was 7 years old, and I knew them by sight before that when I saw single mother and artist/author, Alison, pedaling her only child, Kenny, on her bicycle down Highway 101 and along the streets of Laytonville. She wore a French beret, sometimes a cape, and had an infectious laugh which softened what I think of her usually stern and wary look, something I, too, wear on occasion. There is a lot to be wary of in this world, if one thinks about it. But it didn’t stop either of them from being engaged in life and thoughtful and kind to others.

I got to know both Kenny and his mother when he joined my 3rd-8th grade class at Spy Rock School and remained with us until graduating from 8th grade when I moved North and he went on to and graduated from Laytonville High School, shepherded by good friend Joanie and other friendly and caring high school teachers.

We stayed in touch after that, but with large gaps between meeting or writing.

Kenny was exceptionally caring toward others, in a quiet, sometimes unobservable way, but often hard on himself when things didn’t go the way he expected or wanted. He was a competent mechanic by the time he was 10 and he had a sense of humor that kept me laughing, often at difficult times.

“Why are you late?” I’d ask. He was 11 years old. “I couldn’t get the damn battery to start in our truck so had to push it uphill for a mile, through 4 feet of snow,” he replied. ( This was true, but exaggerated.)

We used to have soup days on Friday when the kids made soup and bread at school and we ate it for winter lunches on the last school day of the week. On one of those soup days, no one would volunteer to chop the onions and I was ready to do it myself when Kenny said, “Oh well, Lu, I might as well do it. I need a good cry today! He wasn’t kidding and he found an acceptable way to have that cry he sometimes needed!

One day he showed up without his homework. I asked him where it was and he said, “We ran out of newspapers this morning and it was very cold so I used it to start the fire.” He was a charming rascal at times, but I believed him, mostly!

I, along with Spy Rock parents who were some of the most dedicated and supportive I’ve ever known in my 50 plus years in educational settings, took the students to Washington D.C. for a week. On a visit to the Smithsonian, where I’d carefully paired the students and asked parents to chaperone small groups, I’d personally taken Kenny under my wing as I knew his proclivity to explore and absorb information he found interesting, sometimes oblivious to the needs of others, myself included. I lost him on the 5th floor, if my memory serves me, and searched frantically for ½ hour before finding him, pencil in hand, keenly observing a World War I or II display, sketching and writing. He looked not at all perturbed. I had traveled up and down the escalators from 5th to 1st floor and back, twice, maybe 3 times before I spotted him. I rushed over to tell him I was so worried that he was lost and I couldn’t find him and that I hoped he wasn’t upset about being lost.

“I’m not lost, Lu,” he said. I knew I could find you. This exhibit fascinates me! Thank you for bringing me here.”

And then there were the many falls before finally learning to ski on the trip we took to Truckee at Tahoe, thanks to Stacia’s and Michael’s hospitality. The grin on his face, in his yellow bib overalls, loaned to him by Ashlee, when he finally made it down the hill without a fall, I will remember forever! It is my favorite picture, next to my most recent great grandboy!

You are very much loved, Kenny. And Alison, thank you for sharing him so freely with us all when he was little, and teaching him to share himself when he was bigger!

Big tears are dropping on my keyboard, without the aid of onions.

One of Kenny’s many teachers,

Lu Pilgrim


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To the Editor:

The big battle at the ballot in November is between two local cannabis measures -- the Mendocino Heritage Initiative (AF) sponsored by the cannabis community, and the Cannabis Tax Initiative (AI), presented by the Mendocino Board of Supervisors. They are competing initiatives with clear conflicts. Whichever gets the most votes will prevail in its entirety, leaving the rival with nothing. “In the event that this measure receives a greater number of affirmative votes, the provisions of this measure shall prevail in their entirety and the conflicting provisions of the other initiative or ordinance shall be null and void.” Cannabis Tax Initiative, Section 7.

The Heritage Initiative Committee turned in over 4,000 voter signatures to gain ballot status, believing the voters would approve reasonable regulations. They reached out to supervisors, Ag & other stakeholders, hoping for either a mutually agreed upon regulatory ordinance to be passed by the BOS or BOS support to the Heritage Initiative as sensible regulation to replace prohibition, leaving them the ability to make changes after passage (unlike Prop 215).

But instead of cooperating with local growers, the BOS threw a nasty curve for a strike. They placed their own rival Cannabis Tax Initiative on the same ballot for the express purpose of defeating

Heritage. Adversarial in nature, they have made clear they do not view the cannabis community as friends to be welcomed back into society after being prohibited & criminalized since 1937. They prefer that cannabis growers be criminalized in entirely new tax-related ways.

There are major differences. The BOS initiative has a tax ceiling of 10 percent with an allowance of 2.5 percent every year to raise revenue for the General Fund, compared to Heritage, with a ceiling of 2.5 percent for medical, 5 percent for recreational.

Only Heritage includes:

1) an Appellations Project honoring and protecting cannabis achievements and strains based on geographical location.

2) an ongoing Cannabis Advisory Commission to help guide the regulatory process, with an economic impact report due after one year in operation.

3) A shift to cannabis as an agricultural crop with cultivation regulated through Dept of Food and Ag.

But the biggest difference is in the BOS’ attempt to recriminalize cannabis farmers with a new criminal misdemeanor for tax violations. The BOS Cannabis Tax Initiative, Section 6.32.270 spells it out in no uncertain terms:

Violation Deemed Misdemeanor

Any person violating any of the provisions of this Chapter shall be deemed guilty of a Misdemeanor and shall be punishable therefore. The BOS has created a new cannabis crime for tax infractions for which they are trying to get voter approval. As we are exiting prohibition in the state, we are facing recrim in the county with tax ‘violations deemed misdemeanors’, if the Cannabis Tax Initiative passes. “Shall be deemed guilty” is worse than in criminal court where your guilt must be proven, not deemed. Here guilt & punishment are ‘deemed’, not proven, without so much as a trial or presumption of innocence. While the rest of the world is exiting prohibition, shedding criminal misdemeanors, Mendo County is attempting to adopt new misdemeanors for ‘any’ violation of the Tax Chapter.

This is a mean-spirited prohibitionist move to hold the cannabis community back from equal opportunity and equal protection as regulations unfold & previously outlawed growers come forward in good faith. They are understandably reluctant & want to make sure they aren’t being given blankets with smallpox, pretending its for protection.

Anyone can be late or mistaken while dealing with complicated tax provisions. The BOS wants to pass their Cannabis Tax Initiative as a trick bag to catch & criminally punish newly legal growers for minor tax violations with voters as conduits for increasing prohibition. We can’t let them do that.

Vote Yes on AF (AgFarms), Mendocino Heritage Initiative.

Vote No on AI, Cannabis Tax Initiative.

Ralf Laguna, Pebbles Trippet, Paula Deeter, Mendocino Medical Marijuana Advisory Board/MMMAB

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Some Positive Insights on Measure AF.

The voters of Mendocino County have the opportunity to make their voices heard on the issue of cannabis regulation in the November election. For citizens to make a clear choice, some misconceptions need to be addressed.

It has been claimed that the Heritage Act was written by and for cultivators and there has been little community input. Opposition voices suggest that Measure AF only reflects the narrow interests of a few people, rather than the long, civic process to gather many points of view that actually took place.

Starting over two years ago many elements of the community came together to claim a seat at the table for the creation of laws and ordinances regulating the cannabis industry.

Numerous public meetings were held at the various Granges, at Harwood Hall, at Healing Harvest Farms and elsewhere in Boonville and on the Coast. These meetings included farmers, nursery owners, dispensary owners, edible, tincture and concentrate manufacturers, distributors and transporters as well as stakeholders from the general agricultural, wine, tourism, real estate communities, as well as the legal arena. These meetings were open to the public for anyone interested.

Within county and state government, there were many meetings with the Farm Bureau, various County Supervisors, as well as County Council, County CEO, the Sheriff, the Ag Commissioner, State Water Resource Board and State Water Discharge agents, Board of Equalization officers, and even the Black Tail Deer Association. Members of the pro-Measure AF community have written letters to the Board, to newspapers and appeared at public Board meetings. We have been interviewed on numerous radio and televisions programs and have established a presence on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and other websites.

After years of work collecting feedback for the content of our Initiative, a team of people wrote the language, had it checked by legal experts, ran it by County Counsel, and then gathered over 4,000 signatures from citizens who want to vote on this issue. With a Yes on Measure AF, community involvement is guaranteed. The other option is to allow only four (4) Supervisors (one recused himself) to make the decision for us. Four people who seem to be against protecting the very industry which brings in more than half of Mendocino county’s annual revenue.

These same Supervisors have had since January 2015 to craft a comprehensive cannabis regulation ordinance. So far they have come up with the same old 9.31 program, only even more restrictive. This, while surrounding counties are increasing cultivation limits in their regions. In our county, however, new proposed ordinances, do not include any mention of the seven noncultivating categories of the cannabis industry identified by State Law.

The Board was presented with copies of the Heritage Act in April as part of our outreach for dialogue and as a blue print for going forward. They never responded. In American politics it is standard practice for an industry to work with legislative bodies, submitting legislative drafts, lobbying and making campaign contributions. Who better than industry experts to consult in writing regulation? What industry ever asks for regulation, as we are doing?

But let’s talk about what Measure AF will do.

It will bring all aspects of the cannabis industry into compliance with all the State designated

Types of cannabis enterprise.

Measure AF assigns each Type of activity to its appropriate Zone.

Measure AF defines cannabis cultivation as an Agricultural Crop, thus moving it out of the nuisance category in the county code. This means that cultivation will be confined to zones of the county where Row and Field Crops are currently permitted, subject to numerous inspections and restrictions. It will be predicated on first obtaining permits from various county agencies tasked with protecting the environment in state law. The old 9.31 law had no Zoning restrictions.

It assigns the county Agriculture Commission the authority to inspect farms, which is exactly what their job is, and what they are trained to do. This will free up the Sheriff’s Department to what it is best at, protecting public safety. Other agencies such as Planning and Building, and Health and Human Services will be inspecting manufacturing facilities, dispensaries, etc. In fact there will be many more state and county agencies monitoring the industry than the understaffed and overworked Sheriff’s Department.

Measure AF states that, once passed, the Act can be amended by the Board of Supervisors. It is not written in stone. Measure AF establishes a Cannabis Advisory Commission to assist the Board of Supervisors in further creating sensible, equitable cannabis policy for the county and in tracking the economic impact of the evolving cannabis industry.

Measure AF protects the small grower, the economic backbone of the county, with a Micro Business category that the state is also creating. State law declares that the number of one acre (208 feet x 208 feet) grow sites will be limited, with which the county permit process concurs.

Measure AF allows for fines, and an appeal process for anyone caught in a code violation, just like any other legal business activity. Measure AF restricts manufacturing with solvents to industrial areas, where it should be, and dispensaries are confined to commercial areas. This all makes common sense. State agencies are currently drafting specific regulations for these activities.

Measure AF establishes the same setbacks as state law, but these limits can be changed by a majority vote of the Board.

Measure AF creates a 2.5% tax on gross receipts from all types of cannabis enterprise.

Remember that before now, the cannabis industry has not been regulated at all. The way to protect the environment is to regulate the industry through the agencies already given that job.

Measure AF will do just that.


Swami Chaitanya

Chairman, Mendocino Cannabis Policy Council

President, Mendocino Cannabis Industry Association


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Doggonit, I prefer the beaches to be free from the slobbering, barking, yelping, drooling, “man’s best friend” Rover disturbing my moment of peace.

It’s bad enough that I have to contend with these beasts at the mall, in the cafes, at the parks, in the department store and at the auto mall! Or as I am returning to my car in a parking lot and I spill my hot coffee on my lap as some schmuck has left Fluffy in the back seat with the windows rolled up and they go crazy when someone gets near, hoping they are to be set free or protecting vehicle?

Maybe their subliminal realization that millions of “nondomesticated” animals are raised to be tortured throughout their lives and slaughtered to fulfill the desire of carnivores creates this need for “dog owner” loyalty and love for these “domesticated” creatures.

Or maybe it is the power and control that one can maintain?

“I love my animals better than my kids…” Yes, I have heard this statement on many occasions or some form of it.

Then there is the repulsiveness and disdain they feel when [they acquire] knowledge that other countries dine on a variety of animals considered by their standards as domestic, while diving into their New York Strip … and their obnoxious “Masters” that accompany them as their “fashion” statement where oftentimes “bigger seems to be better!?”

I.E., Two Great Danes at the patio at Marin Country Mart at a popular brewpub—as I take a sip from my lovely glass of 3 Flowers and dangle my left hand, I jumped three stories at the surprise licking that I received from one of these monsters and when I turned around and saw these two behemoths!

Why do they need to take these horses to a mall?! WTF?! Best in show? Keep them on your ranch or estate and out of my space! Take them to a farm or some “pet zoo” but please keep them away from the mall, the cafes, the department stores … not everyone is a “dog lover,” and if your pooch “likes me,” please keep him outta my crotch unless he is indeed a “service dog!”

Bow wow wow yippie yi yippy ye yo kie yay.



One Comment

  1. Jeff Costello September 21, 2016

    Re legal pot: Prepare for a massive population surge,including many many opportunists who will make the wine growers look innocent by comparison. I spent the 80’s on the Big Island of Hawaii, living among a population of mostly marijuana growers. With few exceptions, they were a bunch of greedy bastards and the only thing that kept them sort of in check was that it was illegal. Legality opens the doors to gross mass production, and you can be sure the corporate types are wringing their greasy hands in anticipation. It also opens the door doors to potential buyers who have been afraid of breaking the law. They’re coming. Time to expand Rt 128 to four lanes.

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