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Letters (Sep. 20, 2017)

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I live on the adjoining property to Maggy Hawk Vineyard (which is actually owned by Kendall Jackson) near Floodgate and they have been using propane noise cannons as a bird deterrent for a while but today was the worst I've heard. I have been subjected to it in years past.

There were two very loud bangs timed to go off every minute or so starting around 8am and going until around 3pm. That is 7 hours of what can be described as gunshots. If you break that down into each individual cannon shooting once a minute for 7 hours you get a combined total of around 800 shots. Does that sound like something a respectful, good neighbor would do? What is more ridiculous is that it doesn't work as a bird deterrent!

I called the only number I could find for Maggy Hawk Vineyards but it was a salesperson in Calistoga. He said he'd "pass word along" but it sounded like an empty promise. So I emailed the general information email address I found on their website. No reply yet. I have video of these pops and have taken to Instagram (only after my failed attempt at contacting them). I will lodge a noise complaint with the county but other than that I don't know what else to do. Someone I talked to mentioned sending an email to the AVA and Cc'ing Mark Scaramella but couldn't find his contact info. So here I am. Not sure what you can do with this but thought I'd give it a shot.

Thank you,

Beau Wiley


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Dear Dan Hamburg,

You are my supervisor.

I am, in supervisor McCowen’s words, a former “scofflaw” in the short-term rental “game.” In the spirit of repentance I have paid my Temporary Occupancy Taxes and applied for a business license with my fee wavered because I am an Army veteran of our grand crusade in South East Asia. Sadly, my application for a business license has been rejected, because the county has informed me that I must also obtain a Use Permit due to the fact that I live on a shared road.

Mr. Hamburg, according to Supervisor McCowen, the reason for requiring a use permit for short-term rentals is to preserve existing housing stock and protect the public’s health and safety. Supervisor Hamburg, the first premise is flawed, false and unproven minus any or all hard data. The second premise is unjust and punitive.

When it comes to public safety use permits are not required for cannabis capitalists that conduct their business along shared roads, a situation that as you well know over the years has resulted in gunfire, death and grave public harm. Why do I need a use permit for people to enjoy a peaceful sleep on my property while a cannabis capitalist does not?

Mr. Hamburg, I would appreciate a cogent answer.


Michael Koepf


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Agenda Item 5f on the Mendocino County Board of Supervisor meeting for Sept 12, 2017 was a total disregard for the rule of law, I would hope that this kind of action will stop.

I take exception to County Counsel letter to the Board of Supervisors September 12, 2017 which says the County should pay the Construction Training Contractor even though much of the work was never officially authorized.

Deputy County Counsel Blanton missed the fact that NO CONTRACT existed in any form.

Also attached is a memo from Supervisor McCowen which I feel is on point.

“9/12/2017 John McCowen-Memo

Date: September 12, 2017-09-13

To: Board of Supervisors

From: Supervisor John McCowen:

Re: Agenda Item 5(f) Northern California Construction Training Inc.

On June 20, 2017, the Board considered this issue and referred it back to staff to determine what work had been done after the expiration of the original contract and if there were legal grounds to deny the requsted payment amount. Despite Board direction, the Agenda Summary for this item does not address the issue of grounds for denial.

Section 25. Entire Agreement, of the original contract, reads in pertinent part: “This Agreement may not be modified except by a written document signed by both parties.”

Section 27. Modification of Agreement, of the original contract, reads in pertinent part: “No supplement, amendment or modification of this Agreement shall be binding unless it is in writing and signed by authorized representatives of both parties.”

By the plain terms of the contract, upon expiration of the original contract, there was no legal authority to incur additional charges. Further, there is no County policy that would allow any employee at any level to authorize additional charges beyond the original contract amount. Aside from the very questionable performance of the contractor, which provides grounds for denial of some or all of the unauthorized charges, the terms of the contract provide ample grounds for denial of these charges.

If the Board of Supervisors authorizes payment in full of the requested amount, it is tantamount to reaffirming that no contract with the County means what it says it means and no staff member is bound by approved County policy.

Unauthorized payments requested in the last few weeks will total over $300,000.”

Lee Howard


ED NOTE: The consent calendar for September 12 which Mr. Howard refers to also included that $175k that the County is giving to MCOE to do what the local school districts are already doing: notifying low income students and families that they may qualify for food assistance and they should apply. Even though, as Mr. Howard notes, Supervisor McCowen pointedly objected to giving NCCT over $300k for shoddy or unauthorized work, the Board approved the consent calendar unanimously without even discussing the NCCT payment. That brings the total wastage for just those two items to almost $500k. Compare that, say, with 2015’s $250k “community benefit fund” that the Supervisors required small local groups to beg for in teensy little amounts with multipage applications and tedious judgments imposed as to which one was more desirable — and they were all decent proposals about half of which went without. Here, on the other hand, we see twice that amount of money being approved on the consent calendar four two blatant wastes of money. Doubly outrageous about these blithe consent calendar expenditures is that the Supervisors will occasionally defend them with some irrelevant cliché like “hungry children can’t learn.” Neither, it seems, can well-fed supervisors. We sure miss Johnny Pinches, the only supervisor in years with a functioning bullshit detector. 

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To the Editor:

I am writing to defend my friend, Peter Keegan, against the rumors and hearsay that have been floating around for years since the death of my friend, Susan Keegan. I have been a close family friend of the Keegans since they moved to Ukiah. We were next door neighbors for years. We were partners on a land purchase; we took vacations together and did all the things one does with close friends. I know Peter and I know that he would never kill his wife. For years I and many others have been silent at Peter’s request. Now we will speak.

I’d like to correct two details that were printed in the UDJ cover story of Aug. 12, 2017. First, the report says that Susan’s “Family and friends” pressured the DA to arrest Peter. I am one of many, many friends of Susan who did not participate in this witch hunt. Peter and Susan’s two sons are certainly family and they did not participate in this witch hunt nor do they seek “justice.”

Secondly, at the end of the UDJ story it says that Peter’s two sons were with him for his court appearance, “in the audience.” Peter’s two sons were by his side, not sitting back in the audience. Some people might interpret that wording to mean that Peter’s sons were distancing themselves from their father; in fact, in Simon Keegan’s words, their support for their father is steadfast. Luke Keegan writes to his father’s accusers on Facebook, “ Your belief that this (prosecution) will bring us relief is, for lack of a better word, ignorant.”

A grand jury was called by the DA. Since 2010, the DA has been unable to find any evidence of Peter’s alleged guilt that could serve to initiate a preliminary hearing. A preliminary hearing before a judge determines whether there is enough evidence to require a trial. In a grand jury hearing, people are free to repeat and embellish all manner of accusation. Hearsay is permitted. There is no cross-examination of witnesses nor any defense of the accused. A judge is not present.

The people who say that Peter killed his wife have spread the rumor that Peter behaved “suspiciously;” for example, that he didn’t sit with Susan’s parents at the memorial service for Susan. That is a lie. I was sitting in the pew behind the family. Peter sat with Susan’s mother and father. In front of the grand jury there would be no one to refute this lie.

It is not surprising that Peter was indicted by this grand jury since hearsay and rumor were considered and voted on. The vote did not have to be unanimous; just 66 percent of jurors must agree to send it to trial. Indictment is not guilt, but a directive to send the case to a real court. A preliminary hearing, where a judge would determine if there is sufficient evidence to proceed, is not held. Hearsay appears to be the only basis for bringing Peter to a criminal court proceeding; otherwise DA Eyster would have brought this case to trial long ago.

There are many people in this community who support Peter’s innocence of this charge of second-degree murder. This charge is the result of the rare use, or abuse, of the grand jury. It is a sad thing to let rumors and hearsay and a small group of people use our justice system in such a misguided way, with no judge or defense.

Elaine Richard


ED NOTE: Keegan partisan Elaine Richard has it all wrong.  Neither hearsay nor rumor is sought from or admissible from witnesses testifying before a criminal grand jury considering an indictment. All necessary witnesses had to appear and testify because, again, the relaxed evidentiary rules allowing hearsay testimony through law enforcement witnesses at a preliminary hearing do not apply during a grand jury proceeding.  Finally, witnesses, including Keegan in this instance, were cross-examined … it just was done by the prosecutor. 

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To the Editor:

I tried to ignore the depth of ignorance displayed in some recent letters in the paper but they finally got the best of me. It’s no wonder this country appears to be adrift these days with no moral compass. The delusion that everyone successful finds themselves in the socio-economic situation they’re currently in due solely to their own superiority is utter nonsense. Denying the kaleidoscope of fortune, good and bad, that influences our lives profoundly is just plain dumb. Sadly, there are too many of us who, when looking into the image staring back at us from our bathroom mirrors, think they see God’s perfect specimen.

This grand delusion drives too many to a point of measuring everyone else against themselves. They see and marginalize other fellow human beings suffering from a variety of severe life crises as insufferable inconveniences measured by some metric assigning degrees of nuisance and guilt to the impact of their existence.

Fellow citizens without the luxury of even the simplest conveniences of a home do not choose to do so as some kind of European adventure. While the rest of us have rooms or garages packed with treasured trinkets of our so called normal lives, the homeless exist with one or two garbage bags of every tangible thing that comforts them.

It would be dishonest to deny the nuisance caused by people living on the streets and by their lack of access to facilities to decently take care of basic human needs; but it should be readily apparent to even the simplest minded of us that it must be a far greater nuisance to curl up in a ball in the open elements every night and clutch a bag containing all one has.

Common citizens aren’t expected to be social workers, medical technicians, or mental illness counselors; but, for heaven’s sake, those with even the most primitive human compassion should do all they can to support those who have the skills to help.

I strongly support the proposed shelter and Redwood Community Services’ strong statement against the status quo; and I vehemently oppose the fascist demand that the unfortunate among us get out of sight or get out of town. It’s the height of ironic stupidity that we would fight an opportunity to actually help the poorest among us get off the streets and reduce the human inconvenience of homelessness.

Don Crawford


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