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Letters to the Editor


To whoever accused me of being “severely neglected”—

My name is Filly and I am the equine equivalent of a 95-97-year-old woman. I know you have this beautiful image in your head of what a horse should look like: smooth muscles rippling under a glossy coat perhaps. Just strike that from your mind! Unfortunately, I am never going to look like that again.

I am a skinny, bony old lady with wrinkles, a sway­back, stringy muscles and some gray hairs. But if you had taken the time to look me in the eye you would have seen the light in them that has nothing to do with pain and neglect. Maybe you did look but just couldn't see.

I am still enjoying myself. I have a roof in winter and 75 acres of freedom and grazing during the dry season. My humans keep an eye on me to make sure I have all four legs under me and am not in pain. I am wormed and have all I can eat. Despite my arthritis, I am still quite mobile. Being skinny helps with that. I can even still manage a short canter on occasion.

I wish the general public was more aware of what a normal appearance is for a truly old horse. There once was a time when people had “horse sense,” and it was synonymous with “common sense.” That seems to be in short supply now. Having this unrealistic expectation of equine beauty for all horses is unfair. I don't look like the horses on the cover of Horse Illustrated with their young, muscular physiques, glowing coats and lush manes and tails.

If it offends your fine sensibilities to find me in your viewshed, look somewhere else. I don't go into your human rest homes and complain about your 95-year-old great-grandmother, so don't come into my pasture and complain about me. I am enjoying what little time I have left to me. My human would like me to live out my days and die a peaceful, natural death if possible. As long as I have a happy expression in my eye, she says she's not going to bump me off. My fear is that if people make too much of a stink about having to look at me, she may have to put me down.

So, please, I know you probably meant well, but give an old lady a break. You could have asked anyone who works and lives at Ferrington Vineyards about me and they could have told you I'm just ancient. I don't want to be rushed into my grave. I may be getting senile, but I am not stupid.

Severely Old at Ferrington Vineyard

Fille (via Colleen Kobler)


PS. Oh yes, the Animal Control officer said I look pretty good for my age.




This morning when I took the early MTA bus and we stopped at the Aquatic Center in Fort Bragg. Do you know what the bus driver said when there wasn't one dog at the dog park?

Dog gone.

Diana Vance





I send you my respect. I hope this letter finds you in the best of health and spirits. I enjoy reading your one and only newspaper, the AVA. I've never come across a newspaper as entertaining as yours. I get so into it that I read it from the first word to the last word of the last page. Every Thursday I look forward to having it in my hands and once I do it makes my time go by much faster.

For this reason I would like to ask you if you may send me a subscription please.

As you know they hit me with four years which means I will be here for another little while. It's no biggie though.

I did the crime. Now I have to do the time. I was immature, young and dumb with negative surroundings and now I've learned that the people I hang out with will determine my future lifestyle! My loved ones will sur­round me at all times once I’m released. But that's if I make it out of this dangerous situation I put myself in.

It's true I received a life sentence but my attorney, Berry Robinson, brought up a good point that sending me to prison was like sentencing me to death. You know and I know that's the honest truth! But it is what it is and I will just take it one day at a time.

I look forward to receiving your paper. If you publish this letter please send me a copy of the paper where it was published. Thank you.


Johan Espinoza

San Quentin State Prison

San Quentin, CA 94974



To the Great People of the Ukiah Valley and Mendocino County as a whole:

The Mendocino County jail's medical staff was men­tioned in the Ukiah Daily Journal recently as having no compassion or sensitivity towards the inmate population. True. What is also true and to some might seem a crime is Sheriff Allman’s recently revamped classification system in his Corrections division. With the help of Captain Pierce, Sergeant Studer and correctional officers Leon and Ziad, there are now high, medium and low security codes. The lower the code the more privileges you get. The highs get nothing, not even with good behavior. Privileges consist of more dayroom, TV and how much you can spend on commissary. The lower your code the more you get.

Now this new system places child molesters and rap­ists at a very low code and they are afforded the maxi­mum privileges the jail as to offer. Not only does this system cater to sexual predators, but it coddles the drop­out gang members who still are committing crimes who can't be in the general population. Wouldn't you think these criminal types would be of the highest code since their crimes are against the most important element of society — the women and children of Mendocino County?


A Concerned Citizen

951 Low Gap Road, Ukiah



Dear Bruce,

How did we get into the mess we are in socially, finan­cially, environmentally and politically? There is no easy answer to that, but if we look deep enough and his­torically enough, we can get a glimpse of some causative factors.

Western civilization has been dominating nature for hundreds of years, with a Biblical sanction to do so, rather than living in harmony with nature. The Protestant Reformation ushered in the extreme individualism that is evidenced in all Protestant religious groups, in its derivative economic system we call capitalism, and in the greed mode that has sanctified profit to replace cleanliness as being next to God.

Primitive and tribal societies skewed the spectrum far over to the societal end of the tension between the group need and the individual need. What we have done is to flip it over to the other extreme end of the spectrum, deifying the individual as against the societal need. The result of that is Ayn Rand and her philosophy.

In one of his brilliant political essays David Michael Green points out that the individual must yield some of his/her powers to the social group called the family; the family must yield some to the city, the city to the state, and the state to the national government. There are many among us in America who no longer want to do that, as we evidence a demand for more state’s rights and less Federal power.

He goes on to point out that nations are not willing, at all, to surrender some of their sovereignty to an interna­tional organization that would have the power to prevent wars, to prevent environmental degradation, to prevent the neurotic and sometimes psychotic acting-out of religious fanaticism, and to enforce economic change that would prevent starvation in the developing world.

That goes a little bit of the way to explaining why the United States has refused to sign the accords and agree­ments that would do at least some of it. The religiously driven individualism creeps upward, and manifests itself in non-benign nationalism and extreme selfishness.

Egoism and egotism seem to rule the day these days. The opposite of that would be to expand the notion of ‘us’. Until and unless we are able to evolve to the point where everyone on the planet is seen as ‘us’ there will always be ‘us’ and ‘them’. In reality, that’s all there is, just us. But reality has way of being distorted by extreme individualism. This brings us back to despair, because the century we are now in does not show any desire to avoid the wars and environmental disasters of the past century. As I see it, mankind is on the brink of collective mass catastrophe, the warning bells are sounding, the tipping points are tipping, the oil spills are spilling, and change is mandated by reality and resisted and avoided by all of us humans.

Lee Simon

Far 'n Away Farm, Virginia




Soozie Boobies bugged J. Biro about his spraying weed killer every spring for a fire clearance. Biro knew fire clearances from several forest fires in the Green­horns and understood that there is bare dirt and there is everything else. A half-cup of 41% RoundUp in 10 gal­lons of water, times two hours application time, at the proper point in the season, which is February or so when the grass is up a few inches, would result in mostly bare dirt until the following season's rains. That's a few bucks and a coupla hours. But, Soozie bugged J. Biro so when he finally used the gallon of glyphosate that had lasted for years, he let things grow.

And it rained and rained, and after it rained it still rained enough often enough to keep everything growing like hell into summer. J. Biro bought gas and expensive mix oil. He cleaned up the weed whacker. He had to get out early to whack the massive thistle fields before they flowered. He whacked and whacked for hours, then had to clean up everything and himself for more hours. And it rained more, and more stuff came up, and the thistles sprouted new stalks, and J. Biro bought gas and expen­sive mix oil and whacked and whacked and all was as a pool table. But it rained and even rained more and more stuff came up and J. Biro bought gas and expensive mix oil and whacked and whacked.

Finally everything was permanently whacked until winter! Biro put away the machinery and began the per­sonal decontamination process. Stepping into his bath­room, he noticed that the big four-foot sliding glass panel was lying as 50 pounds of crystal kitty litter on his floor. The weed whacker, as it is wont, whacked a pebble at high velocity into J. Biro's glass door and destroyed it. Fortunately his junk collection contained some three-foot panels, plus plywood to cover the gap. And now he has to hope he can find a cheap piece of glass at the recy­cling yard. Retail, this stuff is expensive!

But the moral of the story is that next year J. Biro is returning to RoundUp.

J. Biro

Santa Rosa

PS. Morton Gomberg suffers a Hell similar to J. Biro. Gemma Payne decided the front lawn needed testoster­one and scattered her seed everywhere thereupon. And up came the grass, thicker than ever. And down fell the rains, thicker than ever. And more up came the grass. When it was time to be mowed, much too early in the season, the aging Morton Gomberg was just barely equal to the challenge. But a mere week later, the grass was thicker than ever. For the first time in his life, Morton is considering either hiring a gardener or insisting that Gemma Payne mow the lawns.

As to RoundUp, Morton wisely sprayed it on unwanted weeds in the driveway and around the pool. Yes, it's poison and Morton feels as Soozie does about poisons. But, Bliss! No jobs needing done that would have been engendered by NOT using RoundUp.

Gemma also bought plant Viagra, some sort of enhancement tablets that causes all plants to grow vigor­ously, i.e., all plants except the day lilies that she bought on the TV shopping channel. But our leafy vegetables have never been more leafy. I hope the plants prove to be equally fruity.




Lest readers not understand anything else about the protest against police checkpoints in Sonoma County they should understand that I support law enforcement efforts to get drunken drivers off our roads.

My problem is with our police taking advantage of the poorest people of our community by implementing an impound policy that is contrary to current law.

I have reviewed several hundred pages of documents, including Department of Motor Vehicles statistics and reports received from Sonoma County police officials and obtained from other sources. I have had discussions with community members, including Santa Rosa Police Chief Tom Schwedhelm and Petaluma Police Sgt. Ken Savano, and conducted several hours of legal research. I’ve also observed Sonoma County law enforcement checkpoints for more than a year.

The claims put forward by the police, that 30-day impounds (1) comply with constitutional protections against unreasonable seizures, (2) are necessary to deter unsafe drivers and (3) are a fair penalty for those who break the law, are not persuasive. I am confident that our protest against the 30-day impounds of cars driven by non-drunken drivers is not only appropriate but neces­sary.

With others from the Committee for Immigrant Rights, I have discussed with Schwedhelm the fact that police have a choice. They can choose to follow the law and stop 30-day impounds of non-drunken drivers’ cars, and there will be no protest. However, they choose to impound cars from hard-working individuals and fami­lies.

I have on various occasions seen officers in Santa Rosa impound cars of families with small children and leave them on the side of the road with all their belong­ings in freezing temperatures, putting the children at risk of getting sick.

I saw an officer direct a person, who was driving home from work when his car was impounded, to walk down a dark winding road in Petaluma — in front of the outlet stores.

Through discussions with community members, I heard about a father who was forced to carry his disabled adult daughter down a busy road when his specially modified minivan was impounded.

All these people were placed in danger by police who are sworn to protect them. These stories represent why I am protesting our local police department impound poli­cies.

There are several alternatives to impounding cars for 30 days for non-drunken drivers. A few of these alterna­tives (which other counties have chosen to implement) include:

• Citing the driver and giving him or her an opportu­nity to make a phone call to a licensed driver to pick up the car within 30 minutes.

• Allowing the car to remain parked where it is, if the location is safe place, and having the driver sign a waiver allowing the car to be towed at the expense of the driver.

• Allowing the vehicle to be stored until a licensed driver can pick up the vehicle.

The thing some critics cannot fathom is why anyone would advocate for those who are easy targets, the poor and undocumented. I would like to tell these people that before they rush to judgment, they should think for a moment or more about their true motives for criticizing my objection to our impound policies.

Alicia Roman, attorney

Member of the Committee for Immigrant Rights.

Santa Rosa




Thanks again for the AVA’s heads-up, in depth reporting of the upscale Sanderson Gang’s pot and wel­fare scam operating out of marvy Mendo Village.

High Times will, no doubt, do a cover story featuring Mom and Pop Sanderson posed as a stoner version of the Grant Wood painting, “American Gothic” — the bon­afide poster kids for the mellow mom and pop pot racket.

The whole sordid case brings up many other unan­swered questions: How were the Sandersons able to live an upscale, in-your-face lifestyle and so easily scam the Mendo County Welfare Department? What did the artists know and when did they know it? Who were the New York contacts? Why the media blackout? Other than the AVA’s extensive coverage and the Ukiah Daily Jour­nal’s initial write-up of the bust in October 2008, the “local” corporate press totally avoided the story.

Will the multi-agency big ecstasy lab bust “west of Willits” disappear down the same rat-hole to avoid embarrassing some well-connected people?

Bet on it.


Don Morris




Dear Editor,

My good friend and former colleague Don Cruiser and I have different opinions on the California Marine Life Protection Act of 1999. I previously stated the rea­sons I support the MLPA in the Mendocino Beacon. In response to Don’s article in last week’s paper, the MLPA, as created by the legislature, was never intended to be exclusively a fisheries management tool. It is a whole eco-system approach to marine conservation that addresses all aspects of marine ecology through methods based upon the most readily available science.

Similar to land-based conservation such as wilder­ness areas, conservation easements, and open space pre­serves, ocean conservation places a few carefully selected, biologically important marine areas off-limits to certain activities. It is certainly not an effort to close all access to fishing and/or recreation on an entire coast­line.

Today we are witnessing several on-going ocean trage­dies. These horrific scenarios make me believe that more not less ocean protection is necessary. That is why I am serving as a regional stakeholder for the North Coast in the MLPA process.

As we work to address both community concerns and meet the science requirements of the MLPA, I have attempted to bring local knowledge into this process. It is my hope that together we can find the solution that has benefits for both humans and aquatic ecosystems.

William Lemos




Dear Editor,

Mark Hunter, Prisoner Number 80840, writes, The warden was too busy to read your letter, An Open Letter to the Warden of the Salinas Valley Prison, so the Assistant Warden called me instead. He said he would place my name on a waiting list for GED classes.

Mark wrote that he was wrong about the number of books allowed each inmate at Salinas Valley Prison. He is permitted to keep ten books in his cell at one time. In addition, he commented that the library at that prison is pretty good.

In today's mail a four-page letter from Ralph Nader's organization, Public Citizen, asks readers, “How many corporate executives have ever been sentenced to prison for environmental crimes: 11 BP workers dead, oiled and dying pelicans up and down the ruined coastline, oil moving towards the Atlantic Eastern shore beaches. The Answer. None. Public Citizen recommends prison for the CEO of BP.

Scanning the Press Democrat today, I read about a young lady who with her friends had spent some time wine tasting. When she, as the designated driver, ran her car across the center meridan to crash head-on into the oncoming vehicle, she caused the death of two older women. This young woman is facing 20 years in prison. Comparably speaking, how much prison time does the CEO of BP deserve for a world's record disaster caused by his and his associates' criminal disregard of basic safety, intentionally ignoring the many warnings from BP's contractors about shoddy and unsafe practices.


Dorotheya M Dorman

Redwood Valley



Dear Editor,

Hey, what's up? It's Too Tall & Friends. Thanks for sending me the paper! The timing was perfect. I am no longer housed in the same unit as Rico and Mr. Rogers, but, now I'm in the same unit as Aaron Vargas. We are on separate sides so it's hard to get the paper from him. We had a chance to socialize on the yard and he seemed to be doing well under his circumstances.

Thanks again. I hope to keep receiving your paper in the future. Larry in Soledad: don't let the voices get to you. Just keep writing those awesome poems!

To all the real Mendonians I send mine! Keep up the good work!


Robert Hendy

San Quentin

PS. Any Mendonians who would like to write or be a penpal would be greatly appreciated. They are few and far between. What's up, Fort Bragg?




I like Scotch Whisky. Since it is nearly impossible to make myself, I buy it, taxes and all.When I smoked cigarettes, it was nearly impossible to grow and process the tobacco myself, so I bought them, taxes and all.I can make fair wine, but it is much easier and tastier to buy it, taxes and all. Top notch marijuana is so easy to grow and process, any further steps toward decriminalization will almost certainly finish off any industry, taxes and all. As other states follow California (as they have with medical marijuana), watching the ensuing dance of the feds will be highly entertaining.

Name Withheld

Mendocino County




The Press Democrat rightly raised the proliferation of wine tasting rooms and the implications for public safety, specifically DUIs (“Outing with friends ends in tragedy,” Tuesday).

Coincidentally, alongside was another, seemingly unrelated story about how Oakland “could usher in the era of Big Pot” by way of approving marijuana factory farms (“Oakland could go for pot in a big way”).

There are other stories, many of which extol the bene­fits of legalizing marijuana and what a great business it would become, solving all our deficit prob­lems, etc. I have questions:

If marijuana is approved for normal use in addition to medical use, what is to prevent a proliferation of mari­juana tasting rooms?

Could we have people driving from one marijuana farm tasting room to others so as to sample and select the best, the most aromatic, the more exquisite weed? If so, what will be the DUI standard for pot in case people get high?

Do we need more police and police training? Do they need special tests and equipment separate from that for alcohol-related offenses? Do we need more judges and lawyers?

Also, will it be OK for wineries to also sell pot? How about casinos? Can you get cancer from smoking pot like cigarettes?

Am I asking a lot of dumb questions, or are they an examples of the law of unintended consequences?

Robert Aherne

Rohnert Park




My family has been in the grape industry for many years. Back in the day, wineries had tasting rooms, but not to the extreme that you see now.

I have lived my life in the Geyserville area and have driven into Geyserville on a daily basis. Since the influx of tasting rooms, I try to avoid the area on Saturdays and Sundays. When I do go to town, I see people walking the streets sipping from one or two glasses at a time. Some of these people are well on the way to being intoxicated. Nothing is being done to control this.

If a bartender serves a person who is intoxicated, the bartender is liable if that person enters a vehicle and causes an accident. Yet tasting rooms are not monitoring. Last Sunday’s accident is a good example. Two people are dead, and three others are injured.

Tasting rooms need to be better monitored, and when people are openly drinking on the streets or showing signs of intoxication, they need to be arrested and held until sober.

The wine industry needs to be paying for more law enforcement in the areas of these tasting rooms to ensure the safety of the citizens.

Janet Perotti





Jim Young laughed over lunch at Boont Berry the other day saying, “Even if it’s not true, you’ve got to admit Bruce is funny. He got you good this week in Valley People.”

Not having read the paper yet I didn’t know what he was talking about but I quickly rectified that as there was an issue on the next table. I laughed myself when I read it but it is true that I do rather appreciate that old aban­doned building a short block south of the firehouse in downtown Boonville.

It’s got character. Something sadly missing in much of the Napa-Sonoma-Mendocino wine/tourist complex. Character, in my opinion, is akin to beauty. It is pleasing to look at and pleasant to have around. Old people have character. Maybe they’re not much use any more, practi­cally speaking, but their wrinkles, clacky false teeth and shaking hands hold a history that can help fill a room, even a community, with stories and memories that pro­ject a sense of propriety and well being, even belonging. An old person doesn’t have to actually speak a memory it just kind of oozes out from their being.

The old Ricard building does that for me. I can remember when it housed the first Anderson Valley Health Clinic started by Marc & Phranklin Apfel and Peggy McFadden along with other community members. I took my kids there to have them mended. Before that I can still picture buying dinner at the pizza parlor that had red and white checkered oilcloth on the tables and then dragging laundry down the gangway to the laundromat in the rear. Little Orphan Annie’s in the corner shop was a great place for used clothing. One evening while taking a whizz around back, Digger, who was living there then, came out and told me he would get his rifle and blow me away if I ever did that again. I laughed then at the thought of dying such a trivial death but he and I became friends with time. I smile when I think of Karen Otto­boni’s uncle Fred and his partner “aunt” Bill Spenard who owned the place for a while and how they were inspired to remodel with wood siding after watching a John Wayne movie.

Sitting idle is not a crime or an abomination, not for people, old or young, nor buildings. I daresay we would probably be a healthier people if we could only learn to relax.

Old, aging redwood is not ugly. Old buildings are pleasing to look at whether they’re of use or not. As for firetraps, at about a thousand to one, the buildings that burn are the ones with people living in them. Buildings just sitting unoccupied tend not to spontaneously com­bust.

Personally I think concrete, no matter what color you make it or how smooth and sexy it is shaped, is cold, hard and uninviting. I think vineyards of the sort that sits as a welcome mat to Boonville that enslave the magnifi­cent, tenacious vine in stunted, redundant, monotonous rows are an abomination of nature. I think every wine tasting facility, no matter how well maintained or archi­tecturally acceptable is painful to view given the degree to which they normalize to young and old alike the con­cept of drinking and driving.

I’m sorry, but the old Spenard building just ain’t ugly. It represents a time in the past when plastic and sterility wasn’t so fashionable. It’s a part of my life and a part of the history of Boonville and I’d rather see it pre­served with a plaque put up than have it torn down. Long live Glen Ricard.

David Severn





I finally found a writer who shares my feelings about the joyous yuletide season: “Alec Barr actively hated Christmas, its preparations and its aftermath. He loathed the falseness of forced gift giving, the down-to-grandma's- farm spuriousness of the family visits, the snowdrifts of unwanted cards, and rounds of overmerry parties which turned December twentieth to January sec­ond into a steady debauch you shared with people you would rather not see at all. Santa Claus entranced him not, nor did the people you met under Saint Nick's ho-ho-hearty aegis.” Robert Ruark, “The Honey Badger.”

What a writer Ruark was (he died of alcoholism at 49). His great novel “Uhuru” set when Kenya was shed­ding British colonialism, is really a great commentary on the whole human condition with Africa as a crucible. I once heard Ruark referred to as a poor man's Heming­way. What bullshit. He wrote circles around Papa with far fewer titles and much less acclaim. I assume you've read him but you've gotta get beyond “Something of Value” to discover his true greatness as a scribe. Any­way, couldn't resist sending the above as a potential filler.

Very Best,

Denis Rouse





The wireless age is upon us, yet as we have pro­gressed into many new technological ages, new problems associated with the new technology crop up. Many years of independent research is spotlighting some real con­cerns in terms of DNA damage, blood brain disruption, calcium uptake problems, cornea damage, sleep disor­ders, heart arrhythmia, seizures, and electrohypersensi­tivity.

The Toxic Trespass radio show looks at these sorts of toxic intrusions with the intention of exposing for avoid­ance. Greg Krouse, hosts will include an interview with one of the authors of “Health SOS: the dark side of the wireless revolution,” Camilla Rees. The other author is Dr. Magda Havas, Ph.D. The book not only defines the problem, but provides a unique Q&A to questions that may not be too obvious. Mr. Krouse has said that Health SOS is a must have book to move through the wireless age. The show will air Tuesday, August 3 from 7-8 PM PST on 90.7 and 91.5 FM or on the Internet at Ms. Rees is offering two free books to listeners during the show. There will be a call-in period and listeners can email queries to while the show airs.

Greg Krouse


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