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Letters (Oct. 26, 2016)

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Emil Rossi was one of the first old timers I got to know in Anderson Valley when I moved here in the late 1970s. I regularly went to the Rossi Hardware store for building supplies. His simple old style store appealed to me. Time slowed down a little inside those walls. As part of the small talk I made there it became my habit to ask Emil every fall what his predictions were for the coming rainy season, and he always told me what kind of winter to expect. In so far as I remember he was always right.

For a short while, after I got to know him and his sons better, I was allowed as an honorary member of the Rossi family band, The 8-Balls, playing guitar along with Emil on accordion, sons Nick and Chris on horns and bass; Dick Sand on drums, and Al White on trumpet. There were bins of old sheet music in their practice room, and I started to pick up on some of the old standards I’d overlooked in my more rock and roll-saturated youth.

Emil’s musical sense of fun and silliness could be infectious; ask anyone who’s seen his rendition of “The Sheik Of Araby.” For years, the highlight of the County Fair Parade for me was hearing the 8-Balls rolling up the highway on the back of a flatbed truck, wailing away like it was Mardi Gras on a song like “When The Saints Go Marching In.” I always raised my beer in salute as they passed. Emil likely had a bottle of Wild Turkey handy under his music stand.

Sometime in the early eighties Emil was charged by Fish and Game with illegally dumping old cars along the banks of Anderson Creek on his Boonville property. Back then trials were held in the Veterans Hall at the south end of town. I was called and seated on the jury, my first and only exposure to old fashioned small town justice. Everyone knew Emil. Likewise, everyone knew Eric Labowitz, the presiding judge. A recent influx of people into the valley back then, of which I was one, generally held strong opinions regarding right and wrong in environmental matters, and it was clear that my peers expected a conviction. The other jurors were roughly split between old timers and newcomers, and I don’t remember much about them except for Sean Donovan, newcomer and future founder of KZYX who, naturally, became jury foreman for the case.

Fish and Game presented their case against Emil. Emil defended himself in style, opinionated but prepared. The jury was escorted down to the creek that afternoon to view the cars. Emil had anchored them to the bank of the creek to stabilize it from eroding and swallowing some of his land. As he had testified, he had removed all oil and other toxic parts of the cars before dragging and lashing them into place with heavy cable.

After a day of testimony and a break for dinner, the jury retired to deliberate. Sean was elected foreman and the discussion began. Almost immediately there was a general agreement that Emil was guilty. I can’t recall now by what technicality I thought that Fish and Game had failed to make their case, but I strongly believed the charge against him was not adequately addressed in their testimony. I sensed that the rest of the jury wanted to convict him merely because it thought he shouldn’t have done what he had done. The moral outrage was thick, with spoken agreement along the lines that “man, it’s just wrong to dump cars in the creek.” I insisted that, regardless, he couldn’t be convicted of the actual charge against him.

That raised the ire of Sean Donovan who argued strongly (and persuasively, to the rest of the jury) for Emil’s guilt. I stood my ground against falsely convicting him, to Sean’s amazement and annoyance. Votes were taken, more discussion, more voting. Deadlock. Judge Labowitz was called in late at night to give advice on how we might proceed. More discussions and votes. Eventually, some hours past midnight, we declared ourselves to be a hung jury. By then I had persuaded a couple of women to vote with me not to convict.

So Emil went free. Many years later I moved to the property along Anderson Creek where I now live. This was after a particularly wet winter in 2001, when Anderson Creek had experienced severe flooding that had scoured the creekbed and left it unusually exposed. One of my first discoveries there was a couple of largely intact car bodies deeply embedded in the sand and gravel. Enough years had passed that I didn’t even make the connection at first. Emil’s homestead is just a few hundred yards upstream.

But the cars have been no problem, and even seemed to help hold sand and gravel around them over the years, until now there is hardly any sign of them except occasionally some curious piece of rusted metal I will find, and bring up to hang on a post or somewhere, after a storm.

Farewell Emil.

Brian Wood


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Like so many others here, my husband and I came to know Mr. Rossi and his sons when we built our home in Boonville. In what seemed like endless trips to the store for pieces of pipe, paint, screws, nuts and bolts, and all manner of things. One of of the things that always impressed us is how helpful Emil, Nick and Chris have always been in solving all sorts of problems — a really clogged drain, a faulty switch, a garden pest and just about anything else you can think of. A real local resource.

But it wasn’t until I read the Voices of the Valley books that I discovered that Emil and I shared an interesting experience. We had both crossed the Atlantic on the Queen Elizabeth. He sailed over in WWII, as my father had, as a soldier. I went to visit my grandmother in England in 1957, crossing on the QE. We talked several times about the ship and both found our experiences, while under different circumstances, deeply memorable. It truly is a small world.

Thanks for the memories, Emil.

Glynnis Jones


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NO on AF

Measure AF could have a huge impact on Mendocino County. Consider the issue of hoop houses, which I assume are greenhouse type grow houses. On page 42 of the 60 page initiative (which you can download from, it says in reference to hoop house total area: "On parcels greater than ten (10) acres size, there is no restriction of square footage area."

In other words, hoop houses could be installed as huge structures or, more likely, as an unlimited number of small plastic covered structures — acre after acre. What an eyesore that would be.

Paul Soderman


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Your recent editorial comments regarding the Ukiah animal shelter and the completely preventable parvovirus outbreak are incorrect. Two animals died unnecessarily because disease control protocols at the Ukiah animal shelter were either not followed properly or are flawed and inadequate.

One brief visit to the shelter does not make you an expert on shelter management or qualifies you to evaluate Mary Jane Montana's managerial Expertise.

Monika Fuchs


ED REPLY: Of course one Shelter visit does not an authority make, and thank you my friend and neighbor here in the Fall splendor of the unparalleled Anderson Valley for pursuing the conversation. But I really don't understand this constant carping about the Shelter staff. They are clearly doing the best they can in straitened budgetary circumstances. It's not as if they're deliberately careless, or careless at all, and it's not as if they don't want a full-time vet, and it's not as if they're not trying to do what's best for the animals. Right here I should fess up, I guess. I think No Kill animal shelters are impossible. I think dogs and cats not adopted within a reasonable period of time should be put down. I don't think it's fair to require taxpayers to fund an orphanage for dogs and cats. I think the public should vote on the No Kill policy. So, I watched Tuesday's Supes meeting. (Me and an average of 8 people all day, but 15 people tuned in for the Shelter discussion.) I saw the usual people making versions of the same complaints, one by a young mom whose two-legged, human-type child appeared to be in dire need of basic obedience training herself. Speakers lamented the death of Seth, an anthropomorphized pitbull and victim of parvo, but apparently Romeo, another pitbull, had been saved. I think I met Seth, and I'm sorry he died in jail, so to speak, but it seemed to me obvious that the Shelter was literally full of animals that are not going to be adopted because there is always going to be a surplus of abandoned animals in relation to the human population of any community. This society is no longer able or willing to take care of its human strays, for crying in a bucket, let alone surplus dogs and cats. Shelter critics spoke of a lack of transparency. What does that mean? Your complaints aren't being heard? One lady said the Shelter management is “corrupt”? How? They're getting paid to transmit dog diseases? During the presentation by the Shelter's besieged temporary director, Ms. Montana, she said they were trying to get a vet at the Shelter, mentioning the possibility of a retired, part-time person; that they had taken all necessary and prudent steps to contain the parvo outbreak; that she wished the Ukiah shelter had an iso observation area for newly arrived animals. The most telling thing Ms. M said — telling to me anyway — that of the 1073 (!) dogs admitted over the past year, less than five, had died, and some of those had arrived sick. I think that's a very impressive statistic, and evidence that the Shelter does a darn good job given its built-in limitations. Ms. M also mentioned that she was working on at least trying to get reduced-rate vaccinations for people who can't afford present prices. Regarding Ms. Edwards, the shunned volunteer, I think she deserves another shot. I have no idea what she did or said to get herself removed as a volunteer, but she clearly loves working with animals and I don't see any reason for not giving her a chance to redeem herself. If there is a reason she should remain in leper limbo, let us all hear it. She says she doesn't know herself the reason for her banishment. And if it's true that she isn't being allowed by the County to do any kind of volunteer work, that's not only unfair but beyond cruel. I think the Shelter is doing fine. I'm going to have another look, but I'm not going there to play Gotcha.

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To the Editor:

Among the negative and hysterical allegations aimed at the Ukiah Animal Shelter at Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting (the shelter is BROKEN, continues to FAIL OUR ANIMALS, no CHANGES have taken place in the past months, an absence of marketing and promotion, graphic accounts of feces) the most ridiculous and malicious was this statement by one speaker: that a dog's death was “the direct result of… INTERNAL CORRUPTION.”

Corruption? Whose? When? Where? How?

Them's fighting words, and to utter them at the Supes meeting, one had better have some proof. All the definitions I found held that corruption's end result has to do with private gain. Is someone in the Executive Office or the shelter getting paid off in extra kibble while they laze around making deals and ignoring the animals?

With the current frenzy usually known as the presidential election taking place it's easy to mimic the scolding and vilifying rhetoric of hysterics. But it doesn't really do a lot of good, or sway the minds of reasonable folks.

The sky is not falling at the shelter.

K. Shearn


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Re: Mr. Chaitanya (AKA Swami Select), spokesperson for the Heritage initiative ("Yes on AF").

On October 6, 2016, there was a meeting at Harwood Hall to discuss the AF Initiative.

At that meeting concerned citizens were allowed to directly ask questions to the pro-AF panel which included the Swami. I informed the Swami and the panel that I have lived on the Blue Rock Creek watershed for over 36 years. I am a downstream neighbor of the Swami's. We are about three miles apart.

On the Swami's property there is a large natural prairie where trees don't grow.

I have been on this property and at that natural prairie more times than I can count, both on foot and on horseback prior to the Swami purchasing the property.

On the Swami's website ( there is a photo of the Swami "creating the perfect hole" and "filling the hole." These photos can be found on the Swami's website under "journals." These photos show the Swami destroying a Native American archaeological site. The Swami and his excavator (also shown in the photos) are destroying Native American heritage so that they can grow more marijuana.

I know this natural prairie is an archaeological site because there are Native American artifacts all over the meadow. Furthermore, the soil there is extremely dark from thousands of years of Native Americans campfires.

When I confronted the Swami with this information the Swami stated that there was a previous timber harvest plan which stated that there were no archaeological sites in the forest. As the Swami must know, the harvest plans only look at area where timber will be harvested, not in an open meadow with no trees.

When we discussed this at the meeting the Swami became nervous and demanded that there it is an archaeological site on his prairie but that it is 100 yards (a mere 300 feet) from his large grow.

I stated to the Swami that I believed that the whole prairie is one big archaeological site and I asked him if he would allow the Cahto Indians to enter the property with an archaeologist to confirm that the Swami did or did not destroy a Native American archaeological site when he tore up the prairie to plant his marijuana.

I have spoken to members of the Cahto Tribe about this, including members of their administrative body. They were all very concerned. They told me that they would contact the Swami so that the they could determine whether or not the Swami destroyed a part of their heritage.

As the Swami knows under the California Environmental Quality Act Native American sites are protected. Mendocino Counties 9.31 marijuana cultivation program also requires protection of Native American sites through an environmental impact report.

The Heritage Initiative (Measure AF), which the Swami is a big proponent of, conveniently bypasses the California Environmental Quality Act which protects, among other things, Native American archaeological sites and endangered plant and animal species.

I am writing this letter so that the Swami will stick to his promise to let the Cahto Tribe access his land to inspect the archaeological site.

I urge the public to vote No on Measure AF as it does not provide any protection for Native American archaeological sites.

Chris Brennan, Cattle Rancher

Spy Rock/Laytonville

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To the Editor,

It appears that Charles Reynolds killed another grower, Kenneth Fisher, outside a bar in Laytonville over an unpaid debt of $5000. As a grower-broker myself who is owed a lot more than $5000 by a guy who didn't live up to his part of the deal, I know what it's like to want to kill someone. But even to hold on to that feeling for long will destroy you. Because if you go there, what you are left with? Charlie Reynolds.

Reynolds killed Fisher with one punch. How can you kill a strong young man with one punch? Either you hit him in just the right place or you hit him real hard. It looks like Charlie did both. I have no doubt about the intent behind that punch. He let go to his urge.

Then he calmly walked back to the bar leaving Fisher "out there sleeping." Apparently, Charles Reynolds cried when he was told that Fisher was dead. Quite a shock, huh Charlie? My guess is you were crying for yourself, not the man you killed.

How is our DA handling this case? Here's a man of the law who tried to slap reporter Will Parrish with $450,000 for chaining himself to a Caltrans stitcher in protest of the Willits Bypass, but lets this killer walk out of jail on $50,000 bail. You can see what side of the table Eyster sits on.

Name withheld


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Hillary is not one of my heroes. I have always voted Peace and Freedom, Green or Socialist. However, the Bernie inspired left, the youth movement, have a better chance of flourishing under Hillary. She no doubt is a greedhead and a pal of the bosses. Trump is all those things and an evil madman. I bet my grandchildren have a better chance with Hillary.

Allen "Captain Fathom" Graham


PS. I am the person who invented the Albion Nation in one of my Fables way back in the last century. I've been here a long time and I am privy to information. The information is in reference to our Mendocino marijuana crop. This is the worst or the best year in recent history. There is so much bud available that the price is down to $1200 a pound for the best bud and down to $800 a pound for the not so great bud, but still potent. And shake of course is like almost nothing. This means that almost everybody can smoke

Small growers are making a little bit less but they also have expanded somewhat. The big winners are the huge grows now that are probably owned by people outside the area — like the Mafia or individual greedheads or whoever. Nonetheless, marijuana will remain a very viable economic crop for the entire Mendocino area.

In reference to this coming election, all I can really say is, Heaven help us all! I don't have an e-mail address because I feel modern electronics are Orwellian and dangerous. My phone number, however, is 357-2994. I predict that Hildegard, or, Hillary will become our next president. What can I say? The only thing good I can say about her is when she was Secretary of State she didn't blow up the entire world.. That's about it. But I think she is better than Trump, Trump really freaks me out.

I'm out now, God bless you all.

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To the Editor:

I’ve been reading with interest the articles in the papers about the vandalism against the local Trump Headquarters. The signs on the front lawn of the headquarters managers’ home were even destroyed. How typical of local progressive hypocrites, they squawk like a mashed cat if anyone infringes on their First Amendment rights, but if anyone else’s rights get trod upon, they could care less.

David Anderson


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It makes no sense to legalize marijuana. Why would anyone vote to legalize an addictive drug that often leads to addiction to other addictive drugs?

Any tax benefits to localities would be outmatched by the human tragedies and other real financial costs of having another addictive drug legally available. Would you want your airline pilot, train operator or surgeon to be under the influence of a legalized drug?

Albert Boasberg

Daly City

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You MAY have your recommendations wrong on Props 65 and 67. These are devilishly tricky. The key to be sure the bags are banned (who cares where the money goes) is to be sure 67 passes. If 65 also passes it may kill the ban making the bags available again. Here is the clearest thing I have read on it.,_Dedication_of_Revenue_from_Disposable_Bag_Sales_to_Wildlife_Conservation_Fund_(2016)

John Steiner


ED NOTE: Yeah. You're right. I didn't read them closely enough. Thanks for helping an old man negotiate all this gol durn trickery.

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There’s a certain unreality to environmentalist concerns about Gov. Jerry Brown’s delta bypass tunnels. First, what’s left of the Sacramento River salmon runs will soon be killed by warmer water, caused by global warming — with or without the tunnels.

Second, 25 million people in Southern California are totally dependent on Sacramento River water for economic survival. With high sea levels spreading salt water higher up the delta, Brown’s tunnels are the only realistic answer. Desalinization is no answer — it’s energy intensive and just fuels more global warming. Smart agriculture in the Central Valley is worth saving. California needs the tunnels.

The Shasta Dam can and must be raised — the economic and environmental cost is minimal. It will increase water storage in Lake Shasta by 50 percent. We can save California’s future. Some local salmon will die, but Alaska’s salmon are expanding northerly as we dither.

Richard Covert

San Francisco

One Comment

  1. Joan Hansen November 14, 2016

    The Democratic aftermath or the recent election is embarrassing. Watching the riots on T.V. it is clear to me the young people I see are not reflecting their free right to rally and speak. I see spoiled entitled children acting out tantrums and destroying private property. Worst of all they are violent, beating anyone who does not agree with their political persuasion. This is not the America I am proud of and these demonstrations to the world are not the American way. We have always had the transfer of power peacefully transacted.What has happened to America and to the citizens that should support and respect the President elect no matter how they voted. It is sad.

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