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Letters (March 29, 2017)

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To Anderson Valley Fire Chief Andres Avila and crew,

What an amazing crew you lead! After my call to emergency I was so surprised at the speed of the response. First you came, then Tina arrived and Mary and Tyler and then Peter and Martha and everyone was working so smoothly together that all I could think about was the hours that all had invested in learning what to do. It was like nothing I had ever witnessed.

When Clay came with the helicopter crew Tina told me that the "A-Team" had arrived. I am quite sure I already had the A Team assembled in my living room. I am grateful that they were there to share their expertise and strength and thankful to all of you and to Colin and Sarah and all of the others who I did not see or hear of.

I have read a great deal of letters in the Anderson Valley Advertiser over the years thanking the fire department and the ambulance staff for their inestimable help. But really, until one sees it in their own home there is no earthly way it can be truly appreciated. Thank you all so very much.

Jan Walker


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The Ukiah Police might want to see what Eureka PD has done to enable their officers to deal more effectively with the homeless problem up there. For one thing, EPD has a POP unit, following the guidelines of the Problem Oriented Policing study. This enables officers to meet transients, run criminal background checks, and find those with outstanding warrants, unregistered sex offenders etc. Using POP guidelines, officers can be effective without violating any civil rights laws, protecting the PD from litigation. Body cams help too. Background checks bolster public safety, including the safety of non-criminal homeless.
In Fort Bragg, police are reluctant to drive a homeless violator over the hills to jail in Ukiah, but a night in jail might be a deterrent to a return to this town.
Instead of armies of social workers, we could put the funds into reviving mental institutions and rehab facilities for chronic drunks and addicts. Most importantly, we can revive the system of motivation and rewards, by reining in all the freebies, including free meals , for those able-bodied transients. No work, no freebies.
With proper training in POP protocol, police can be more effective and efficent.
The Eureka police chief stated his dept had documented, presumably with back ground checks, that 87% of their transients were criminals. They have had success housing and helping the 13% who want to become productive members of society.

Alice Chouteau, Fort Bragg

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To the Editor:

Nice piece in “Mendocino County Today” (March 27) in the AVA regarding Thomas Pynchon. Thank you.

Check out this site for all things Pynchon:

As a footnote, I have often thought that the bizarre, internal politics of KZYX would make a great subject for Thomas Pynchon.

Think about it.

…KZYX, also known as Mendocino County Public Broadcasting, is the final stop in the long, unhappy lives of a lot of dysfunctional, marginalized, old hippies

…self-important, self-satisfied, self-absorbed old hippies fighting among themselves over a public radio station nobody listens to because the old hippies — you guessed it — mainly just talk to themselves, and to themselves alone, while on-air at KZYX

…and they fight among themselves they do, in the most beautiful of places, with stunning coastlines and old growth redwoods forests

… a place, Mendocino County, that, weirdly, Jim Jones, Leonard Lake, Wesley Shermantine, Robert Durst, Charles Ng, and Richard Allen Davis also once called their home, not just the old hippies


…why old hippies and serial killers co-habituating side by side?

…why find them both here at home in beautiful Mendocino County?

…because Mendocino County is a great big place, and remote, and nobody asks any questions, and it’s a good place to hide

…nobody brings critical thinking or reasonable inquiry to any aspect of their lives, or anybody else’s lives, here in Mendocino County, and everybody, it seems, has spun false narratives about themselves that go unchallenged in the purple haze of drugs and amnesia, while, in the background, KZYX airs yet more “essential” Grateful Dead bootlegs.

If this isn’t Pynchon country, I don’t know what is.

John Sakowicz


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Dear AV Community,

I have been attending the AV School Board meetings for the past year as a parent observer, trying to get a sense of how our public education system works. Two things that I have learned are that the state loves acronyms and that a school board cannot truly serve the needs of their community without the participation of that community.

It is the job of the board to listen to teachers, parents, community members, administrators, and advisors and to make decisions based on their input. When groups show up to present their concerns, I have seen the board listen respectfully, engage in dialogue, and make decisions balancing the needs presented. It is a massive undertaking to be on the school board and I am grateful that we have such a committed group of board members- many of whom have children in the schools currently.

I am writing to encourage community members, parents in particular, to attend board meetings. It is actually quite an interesting process to observe. It is one way to advocate for the youth of Anderson Valley. The decisions made directly affect the students now and in the future. I am often the only parent in attendance. Granted the meetings can be up to three hours long. You don't have to stay for the whole thing and there is a lot of hand sewing, knitting, crocheting or the like that you can get done in three hours.

If you are going to go to a board meeting I would suggest bringing a thermos of tea, a small lap blanket should you get cold, and some sort of handwork to pass the time, open ears, and an open heart. I certainly appreciate the opportunity to voice my opinions on the issues raised and by keeping my hands busy I find that I listen more patiently and indeed look forward to the monthly meetings. Anyone want to join me?

Now is quite an exciting time to participate in board meetings. The board is hosting a strategic planning process that is open to the community in order to help shape the vision and direction of our schools. How can we best give our students a foundation for an interesting and engaged life? What inspires you about other schools whether they are in California or throughout the world? How can our Anderson Valley schools lead the way in education that inspires families? These are a few of the questions that I have. I urge everyone to consider sharing your ideas at the Grange.

Thank you,

Saoirse Byrne


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Thanks for the two linear yards of KZYX coverage in the last issue, adding to the miles over the years of howling from the Pit on that subject. At least it returns the AVA to its traditional heft of 12 pages instead of the apologetic 10. The problem is, in all the bitter ranting, there’s never a smile. I’ll not be voting Sakowicz back to the Board. His plan for release of the membership email list would only amplify the noise.

Gordon Black


ED NOTE: Gee, I dunno. The mere mention never fails to put me on the floor. However, some of us laugh less as we age, and you're what, 106? Double your helpings of carrot salad and see if that helps.

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I see you have once again printed the fake news that the Willits Justice Center is vacant. If you will call the Willits Police Department at 707-459-6122, they will verify that their offices are in that “vacant” building. While you are at this new (for you) exercise of fact checking, you could ask the following questions:

1. Does the roof leak?

2. Is the building moldy or dilapidated?

Once you have verified that the answers to these questions refute the falsehoods you have been repeating in the AVA, how about quitting your lies? From reading your rag, I realize you won’t admit error by printing a retraction, but how about shutting up?


George J. Dorner


ED NOTE: You're right. The Willits PD is housed in the county's ugliest building which, you may recall, was built as a courthouse, a badly needed, hurry-up courthouse, not a police station. I'm happy the roof isn't leaking. An error, a partial one at that, isn't a lie, George, but suit yourself.

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Actually, I was on the Grand Jury that investigated the building of that justice center. I recall the basis for the Federal block grant to pay for that structure was the need for the two holding cells — which I believe have never been used.

And you know the justice center is not vacant, why have you claimed the opposite repeatedly? One mention, or even two, might have been an inadvertent mistake, but the repetitions smack of deliberate untruth.


George Dorner


ED NOTE: Good lord. Why would I "lie" about something like this? The building has been vacant as a courthouse, correct? That was the subject of my complaint. The thing was erected as a courthouse then abandoned as a courthouse. Sheesh!

PS. A Willits reader notes: “I’m happy the roof isn’t leaking. An error, a partial one at that, isn’t a lie, George, but suit yourself.”

That may or may not be true, but I tell you what is for sure leaking: the walls —.and have been for decades, they weep. Ask anyone who’s worked on the thing, the roof is and has always been a mess, similar to what rumor has it that the new Adventist Health Hospital is experiencing. (more to come). Low bids, no accountability equals bad work. George sounds like an angry, old, you know what… Smoke a joint or drink a beer, drive a truck in second gear, dude…

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Dear Cap’n Rainbow & the Variety Show staff,

Please make your variety show available on a Sunday afternoon, matinee? So that the rest of Mendorama can attend?

Thank you, and much obliged.

Susie de Castro

Fort Bragg

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In response to your comments on the Russian revolution (AVA, March 8) I was reminded of an old VHS tape I used to rent at Figuerido’s in beautiful downtown Fort Bragg titled “From the Czar to Stalin,” which in those days was my short history of that age. According to the Brits who made it, the revolution was the Russians’ three years of freedom before the Bolsheviks took over and forced the Menshevik leader Kerensky to get out of town in a fast American car. He had planned to prosecute the war against Germany and form a democracy, but Lenin ultimately handed the best third of Russia’s territory over to Germany to get out of the war he had welcomed as the means to weaken the European states. The film also claims that the Bolsheviks allowed “the first Russian election, ever,” lost it, and then scrapped it, “the last Russian election, ever.” (The film was made long before the From Perestroika to Putin.)

I read Rosa Luxemburg’s opinion of Lenin back then as well, it was she who quoted Lenin’s glee at the start of the First World War which she deplored as the massacre of the working class by the rulers of Europe. Like “Red Emma” Goldman, Rosa didn’t see the Bolshevik state as the real revolution, but rather a tyranny. The Lubyanka was the forerunner to the KGB. But the Czar’s police state was the forerunner to the Lubyanka, so Stalin’s paranoid state actaully traces clear back to Ivan the Terrible.

Oppression tends to keep its effects even when it is overthrown. Sometimes even the same people take over. Napoleon was about to be guillotined by the French, but the next thing you know he’s in charge, and they’re in Spain butchering a land of peasants.

Humane treatment and conduct, legitimate terms, mutual benefit, everything civilization should provide for itself, is hard to sustain, or even make credible when the inherent circumstances of centuries of ignorance and cruelty are taken for common, or even God, by the people.

That’s the situation we’re back in, oddly enough, considering all we’ve learned and discovered. So much is considered to be the will of God or fate that just isn’t. It’s as if people want it to be that stupid, or it must be because they believe it. But since the same offenses are committed without religion, it must be offensive whatever else we want to call it.

Scott Croghan


PS. Wups. I was mistaken about the Lubyanka. That was the Cheka, not the Lubyanka. The Lubyanka was a huge building in Moscow, the former offices of the All-Russia Insurance Company. So if the Cheka hauled you into the Lubyanka, the first question they would as to what is, "Do you have any insurance?" If you answered, "If I say yes can I leave?" they would answer, "No. You are guilty as sin!" So you would say, "No, I'm not," and they would say, "Yes you are." "No I'm not." "Yes you are." Etc. etc.. I hope you will publish this addition to my last letter because I don't want anyone to know that I didn't know what I was talking about, a fault which I find rampant in others.

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Dear Editor:

In a recent issue of the New Yorker magazine there was interesting article by Jelanie Cobb about Article V of the Constitution provisions for amendments to the document. It was noted not only does the GOP control the Senate and the House but also 33 state legislatures. An amendment has to be approved by 2/3rds of each chamber and ratified 3/4ths of the states.

In 1995, the House approved an amendment that would required a balanced budget but it failed in the Senate. Now the amendment again in is being introduced by the GOP. Cobb thinks it is unlikely that t can pass Congress at this time.

Article V provides an alternative way to propose amendments which bypasses Congress. Two-thirds of the state legislatures can call for a constitutional convention. To do so the GOP needs to gain control of one more legislature which is an event that could well happen in next year's election.. It should be noted that 28 states have already adopted resolutions calling for a constitutional convention on a balanced budget amendment.

A concern if a constitutional convention is held that it might not limit the agenda to the balance budget amendment but expand to include such issues as bans on abortion and same sex marriage, and also ending birthright citizenship which is guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment.

Any action that might be taken by the convention does require the approval of 3/4ths of the states.

As a sidebar, I have several comments. A federal balanced budget amendment displays a woeful lack of an understanding of the budget process as how it works in good and bad times and in wars. While approval by 3/4ths of the states at this time would seem unlikely one needs to recognize the current ineptness of the Democratic party does note bode well for future elections.

In peace and love,

Jim Updegraff


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Dear Editor,

A housing development proposal has been submitted to the Mendocino County Planning Department for a zoning change of 26 acres in the Lovers Lane ag zone by a family of Bio-Dynamic grape farmers. Perhaps you have read about it in the newspapers.

This may be a fairly controversial project coming up, and I know you will be interested in watching it. I have written a letter outlining what I see as some significant issues which is attached.

It is more than a referendum on 26 acres. Other landowners within the Lovers Lane ag zone are waiting on this project to develop, so they may develop their own paradise, and with obvious pressure on the County to prohibit future farming on adjacent acreage it all but assures the entire Lovers Lane Ag land of being converted into single use, low-density, automobile dependent development housing.

Incremental development with no planning runs counter to County Planning principles. To make the findings based on the General Plan necessary to approve this development would be the peak of shortsighted perspective clouding the longer-term priorities and ethics of good community planning. It is inconsistent with the County General Plan, Ukiah Valley Area Plan and the City of Ukiah General Plan.

The project proposal can be seen at the County planning department website.



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To the Editor:

The purpose of this letter is to strongly endorse John Arteaga’s recommendation (John’s Corner, March 10, 2017) that the City Council proceed as soon as possible to stop the waste of money on a receivership and further studies of the Palace Hotel and get on with its inevitable demolition.

The basic reason for John’s conclusion is that the hotel can never be renovated and that all the money that has been and will be spent pursuing this option is wasted. John is a smart, honest, knowledgeable guy respecting these matters, has the city’s best interests at heart and has no economic interest that would influence his view. About twenty years of uneconomic use of this property verify his conclusions.

I don’t claim expertise that others should rely upon, but I own and have owned several old commercial or industrial buildings; and I’ve represented building owners for about 40 years. I have some confidence in my assessment of the economic and business prospects of buildings like the Palace Hotel. My guess is that there is at least $1 million dollars to be lost before that site can be cleared and put to use. That is, it will cost at least $1 million dollars more to clear the site and sell it than it will sell for even if demolition starts tomorrow. The city will probably bear this loss because the owner is an LLC with no assets. Maybe the eventual loss will be more, maybe it will be less. The critical point is that there will be a huge loss and all of the costs of a receivership and more studies will probably only add to the city’s loss.

I say “probably” because there is a legal theory that sometimes allows entities, such as the city in this situation, to look through, or past, the insolvent legal entity that owes them money; such as the LLC that owns the Palace, to reach the owners of the legal entity. It’s called “piercing the corporate (or LLC here) veil,” and is available when investors in a high risk project undertake that project by creating a limited liability entity, such as a corporation of LLC, but do not capitalize the entity adequately to cover the foreseeable and expected costs and risks entailed. If it hasn’t been done, the city should consider whether the theory has any application here to reach through the LLC and reach Mrs. Laines and the other owners, and whether those folks have enough assets to repay the effort if it is successful. (It makes no sense to spend money for a judgment against a person who can’t pay it.)

If, as is probably the case, the city can’t recover this loss, it should get on with bringing about the demolition and sale of the Palace as soon as possible and, as John Arteaga suggests, stop wasting time and money.

Jared G. Carter, Ukiah

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Letter to the Editor:

I foolishly signed a contract with a door-to-door salesperson in the spring of 2016. Added to my PG&E bill was SFE California's charge of $40.97 every month claiming this was to average my PG&E billing for the high winter cost of heating my mobile home in a senior park in Ukiah. As my gas usage increased with the cold weather my PG&E bill increased as usual plus the extra charge caused by the contract. My bill with PG&E included a gas procurement charge by the Core Transport Agency, SFE energy and was based on misrepresentation. I knew then I had been scammed.

These are the steps I've taken:

11/14/2016. PG&E states it was my choice to sign a contract, warning me to pay attention to public service announcements warning the public about misrepresentation.

11/15/2016. SFE Energy canceled three-year contract per customer’s request, waived cancellation fee (due to financial hardship).

11/18/16. The California Public Utilities Commission kindly said they could do nothing because the company is out of state.

11/19/2016. Better Business Bureau taking my complaint, ID number 11855368, directed me to seek the advice of an attorney or file a claim in small claims court.

Please note: In checking on who to contact with SFE California Inc. it is a Delaware corporation service company, the business, CSC lawyers incorporating service (process servers).

My concern is: I do nothing and another person may be misled by the sales pitch and suffer from a loss of faith and peace of mind as I have.

Thank you for your time. Please pass this information on.

Name withheld, Ukiah

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