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Letters to the Editor



The federal DEA raid 7/7/10 of Joy Greenfield's col­lective, “Light the Way,” magnifies the critical juncture where medical marijuana legalization in the states chal­lenges federal prohibition.

Greenfield, 69, aka “grandma grower,” moved to Covelo California from Colorado to grow her own can­nabis in order to save her deteriorating eyesight and help others unable to grow for themselves in the process.

She was the first patient-grower applicant to be approved by the Mendocino County Sheriff's zip-tie pro­gram for a 99-plant exemption from 9.31, the local nui­sance ordinance with a limit of 25 plants per parcel.

Shortly before the DEA raid, a sheriff's helicopter hov­ered over Joy's Covelo property. Frightened and alarmed, she arranged to meet with Lt Rusty Noe of COMMET. “I thought you guys were supposed to pro­tect me,” she told him.

Noe explained: that was not Sheriff's deputies in the plane; the Sheriff merely leased the helicopter to the Feds. He told her “not to worry”; her application was approved. This raises the question of county-federal complicity.

The following week, DEA agents raided the Covelo property when Joy wasn't present and seized her entire garden, without regard to it being legal under the county program, scoffing: “We don't care about Allman's ordi­nance.”

Supervisor John McCowen, author of Mendocino County’s marijuana code (Section 9.31), said he was “appalled by the mistreatment.”

Sheriff Allman went on local KZYX radio, stating he would pay her back for the zip-ties she purchased at $25 each.

Meanwhile the dispensing end of Greenfield's collec­tive association, Light the Way, in San Diego, managed by family members, was not raided, despite that City's hostility to all dispensaries.

Light the Way pays sales tax under an approved busi­ness license which lists Willits as the official address, thus connecting the Covelo farm with the San Diego dis­pensing collective. That suggests the Collective is above-board, attempting to comply with local and state law, and further suggests the Covelo raid was not based on any­thing that happened in San Diego. The record was sealed, hiding the source of the complaint.

A DEA agent asked Joy about other grow sites. “I told him there weren't any,” she replied.

In early July, the DEA again contacted Joy, this time offering to return her $7,500 cash and computer, no longer evidence of any “crime.” They added they were looking for someone else, Jake Anderson, whom they raided on July 23, 2010.

No charges have been filed against her since she did nothing wrong under Obama's Holder Memo to leave medical patients alone if they are in “clear and unambi­guous compliance” with state law.

It was all apparently a big mistake. Or the DEA's plan was to wreck Mendocino County's 99-plant limit, fearing an entrenched medical marijuana program taking hold in a producer county, setting the standard for the state.

The DEA raid added a new level of mistrust to exist­ing widespread skepticism about Sheriff Allman’s zip-tie program. It regulates medical cannabis cultivation by reducing patients' constitutional rights under administra­tive law by not requiring a search warrant for law enforcement to enter growers' property or corroborating evidence of violations and by removing the right to a jury trial and by negating presumption of innocence.

The ordinance adds civil regulation of medical canna­bis to the Sheriff's criminal arrest powers, allowing carte blanche deputy discretion through warrantless entry and blurring of lines between civil and criminal.

Two Mendocino lawsuits have been filed challenging 9.31's constitutionality.

Pebbles Trippet





My husband has been a California math teacher for 32+ years both in the Los Angeles area and small North­ern California schools. Using test scores to “grade” teachers would only be effective if you gave “life” scores to parents (ones you can find and hold in a classroom) to evaluate the quality of their support of their children.

My husband must compete with rampant underage sex and drug use and try to cut the technology cord loose during classroom hours. Those children whose parents would care what a teacher's score is already have stu­dents who are excelling no matter who the teacher is because they have support and guidance at home.

The problem for teachers today is there are so few of those students in their classroom. It is a war zone in there, folks. He and his fellow teachers use the phrase “back to the trenches.” They mean it.

So lower class sizes. Hire aides. Pay them the highest salaries you can muster. Pay for all their classroom sup­plies.

Mary O'Meara

Upper Lake



Dear Editor,

Congratulations on exposing (well, sort of) Supervisor Smith, although the projected full-length nude I requested didn't come out (or something), so you went conventional. But that's okay since I have my memories. The tattoo “Semper Fi” just below the navel would have been worth it, but if you can live with the cover-up, so can I. I'm sure Supervisor Smith would agree — if it didn't cost anything. Get her to tell you the one about Jim Jones and the enema bag sometime. It's a pip!

Love your shoes


Ignacio Hephalumpe

Bellingham, Washington (formerly San Narcisco)

PS. God's notion of progress is old people.



Dear Editor:

I need some help. You have a stable of knowledgeable subscribers. And you have some really bright and knowledgeable contributors.

Nuclear weapons were invented in the mid-1940s by the United States and since proliferated to Russia, England, France and China. More recently India, Pakistan and probably North Korea have joined the club.

South Africa once had nuclear weapons, but decided to abandon its program.

Interestingly, Israel is believed to have nuclear weapons as well. They refuse to confirm or deny the existence of such an arsenal. But several sources report a stockpile of as many as 200.

Acquisition of nuclear weapons technology and labor intensive. Raw materials are expensive and difficult to acquire. Processing these materials is time-consuming and messy. Testing is necessary and requires a substantial, uninhabited site.

At 8000 square miles, Israel is not a very large nation. It has no good uninhabited test sites. (Kern County, California, is bigger.)

Israel has a Jewish population of less than 5.4 million people. (That's only 30% of the population of Metropolitan Los Angeles!) And 10% of those are ultra-Orthodox Jews and thus pretty much useless for anything except making motors for tricycles.

So, how did a little jerkwater country like Israel get to be a nuclear power? I've read of no messy plutonium reactors, no mine waste sites, no cascade or centrifuge enrichment plants and no radioactive casks full of dangerous waste and no controversy about where to store same.

And no bomb testing has been necessary.

They seem to have become a nuclear power rather effortlessly. Maybe they had a little help. But who would just give Israel nuclear weapons -- nuclear weapons that required no testing? Who?

Perhaps Al could shed some light?


Bart Boyer

San Diego



Dear Editor,

Hello. How are you? I'm okay — having a hard time falling into any kind of routine. Seems like a difficult thing to do in San Quentin. The prison was built in 1826, the oldest one in America. It's like a giant castle, a concrete fortress with the most evil dark energy I've ever felt. The noise is unbearable. The block I'm in holds 500 inmates. It is five tiers high with 50 cells on each tier. The cells are the smallest I've ever seen. They cram two men in each cell. I can touch both walls in the cell with each of my hands at the same time. That's how small they are. The cockroaches and mice, and 200 years of snot the inmates have spit on the walls have collected into a thick layer of mucus that looks like a layer of paint. They do not give you much of anything, even a t-shirt is hard to come by. You are issued a pair of pants and shirt upon coming in. No boxers, no socks. You have to wheel and deal for that from other inmates. You get one sheet and one wool blanket. There is no laundry service. What you want cleaned you wash in your tiny sink and hang to dry. There is no other prison on earth like San Quentin that’s for sure.

Every day is a true stress test. So I try to pace myself. Books are hard to come by. I spend most of my time laying on my bunk, toilet paper balls stuffed in my ears, trying to block some of the noise out. My only sense of relief comes from knowing time will pass and I am nine months short. My cellie is a weird-ass dude, so I do not talk much to him. Besides, there isn't much to say. So I block him out the same way I do the noise. I think a lot. I think of what I need to do to beat the system and stay free this time. I also have some good memories that I escape to sometimes to pass time. Things we did when us kids were little, time spent with my kids, Jerry and Dorothy. And adventures I have been on around the country during my travels.

Time passes. Sometimes slow, sometimes fast. But it passes. Nine more months. So for now I face myself and try not to let San Quentin [bleep] with my head. About 200 feet from my cell is the state of California's Death Row which houses 628 men waiting to die. Some of them are the most famous inmates in the world. Charles Manson, the Night Stalker, etc. For me, Death Row is a reminder that things could be much worse than they are.

Disease runs rampant here. Staph infection being the worst (and MRSA). A large percent of dudes have MRSA. No way San Quentin can prevent it. Showers are every three days — pipes sticking out of a brick wall shoot out cold water. 15-20 dudes crammed under each water pipe pushing and shoving in an attempt to get wet. I went one time and never went back. I birdbath once a day in my little sink. The food is the worst I've ever had. Always some form of noodle type of goo. A thick steak occupies some of my daydreams at least once a day. I remind myself that time passes, sometimes slow, sometimes fast, but it passes. Nine more months to go. So I stay focused and keep my game face on, never allowing any of San Quentin yuck to splash on me. Thank you for every paper I'm lucky enough to receive. To be able to escape once a week is a treasure I do not take for granted.

My best regards from the gutter,

Alan Crow

San Quentin



Dear Editor,

People complain that they should not pay for education because they don't have any children. Pay now or pay later!

There is escalating crime by the young. They join gangs. Why shouldn't they when no one seems to care?

Teachers make less than prison guards because the students are not as dangerous — yet. They're learning that violence gets people's attention. It even sells newspapers.

Children are the future and they need our help.

Best wishes,

Hillary Beckington

Little River

PS. I don’t know if you saw the headline in the Depressed Democrat about the Mendocino pot killings. The word here, by informed sources, is that they want to declare a state of emergency because of the cartels.

If you want to end this, we need to legalize pot. For that matter they should end the drug war and get rid of all of them.

But at least legalize cannabis and industrial hemp. Get rid of the crime and save the economy!



Dear AVA editor —

Why did the homosexuals abandon the court?

Before Prop 8, homosexuals allegedly acquired the right to marry. Then, Prop 8 came along. Instead of remaining with the courts, homosexuals chose to participate in Prop 8. Prop 8 was the means in which all participants would settle the question of marriage. Yes vote, or no vote. If the homosexuals had the most no votes regarding Prop 8 they would have won fair and square. Like Governor Schwarzenegger stated after the voting was over, “the people of California have voted.” That meant following all who chose to participate. If the homosexuals felt that Prop 8 was unjust they should have remained in the courts. To run back to the courts crying foul about something you chose to participate in, looking to win, yet lost, is wrong. The federal judge who claimed that Prop 8, the vote of “all the people,” was unconstitutional is wrong. In America, voting is a civil right a United States citizen upon his or her own free will can participate in fair and square.

Bernard Hill





I just got your August 4th issue, as I’m in prison. (Lest anyone thinks that means I’m ignorant, I also have a degree in history, and a father who once worked at the White House, an energy expert under Carter).

I strongly object to the letter from the guy in New York City listing ten bad things done by the Israeli Army. Anyone who takes time for the research could easily list 1,000 worse things done by cops or soldiers in any Arab or Muslim country (Turkey, Pakistan, etc.), or by police in the Untied States.

As America’s government giving Israel money means having to listen to insults, I’m for no US aid to Israel. It’s not a poor country. They got by 25 years without US aid (through three major wars) and Nixon started US aid in October of 1973 only to thwart Russia when Egypt and Syria got huge Russian aid, then invaded. The US does nothing just to be nice. So I say no US aid to Israel, and America can shut up and stop telling other people how to live in their own countries.


Michael Bear Carson

Mule Creek




As a close family friend of the Hamburgs, I had first-hand experience with Calvin Walker and his relationship with the Hamburgs and frankly, my primary thoughts are that Dan and Carrie should be sainted for the amount of time, energy, effort, and love that they put into helping Calvin. He was welcomed at the breakfast table, he was present at birthday parties, he was taken under a family wing that any down-and-out human could only pray to have gracefully spread above them.

I am deeply saddened by Calvin's lawsuit that has literally bitten the hand that fed him. I find myself struggling to hold on to my belief that one should always help those in need because I am appalled that Calvin would attack his benefactors this way even though I recognize that Calvin is acting out of desperation.

What I am less able to stomach is the fact that Calvin is being used as a political pawn. Calvin is looking for money, but his “anonymous benefactor” is looking for blood. Is there any question who the “anonymous benefactor” is or at least who he or she is associated with? Is this the kind sleazy, secretive maneuvering we want to see in our local government?

Erica Cooperrider





“The door's shutting seems so muffled

For a clanging piece of tin

But the handle's on the outside,

You only can get in.

My hands are red from banging

And I think I'm about to cry

Because refrigerator heaven

Is such an awful place to die”

— The Freeze, “Refrigerator Heaven”

* * *

They cleared thick jackpine off twisting lower ridges, abandoned pastures from farm days. Mayapples and Jacks-in-the-Pulpit vanished under asphalt as great basement holes erupted in clearings on the slope edges. We'd jump into pits where drain manifolds were unbuilt and crawl down lengths of pipe to the next pit, a dim circle way off in tight darkness. Scary fun for a five-year old! Horror fantasies of entombment pumped our little adrenals.

The last farm got a last crop of corn, then went to pasture while they built a firehouse. Our first grade class had the great luck of a field trip to the firehouse immediately after they had snuffed a conflagration in their own living space. There were warped lockers and stinky air and they let us slide down the pole to get rid of us, too chagrined to play hero for the kids that day.

Below the firehouse the brush was thicker with old dumps towards a little valley.

A half-buried refrigerator leaned out of the ground, its door yawning invitingly. All the scare in the news about kids dying in abandoned refrigerators, we had heard loud and clear. To walk up and play with the thing took some forethought. Finally someone took the door off, and new horrors registered, like tire-mashed animals.

J. Biro

Santa Rosa




Remarks I made at this month's Retirement Board meeting. The Retirement Board oversees the Mendocino County Employee Retirement Association (MCERA).

Retirement Board Meeting, Public Expression, 18 August, 2010

At the July meeting of the Retirement Board, this board decided to completely write off the unauthorized, and possibly illegal, $9.6 million diversions from county contributions that should have gone into the Pension Fund...diversions that were later covered up through a fraudulent accounting practice generally known as “capitalization of expenses,” and specifically known as “improper earnings recoginition.”

You decided to completely write off the $9.6 million. All of it. One hundred per cent. One hundred per cent gone. Disappeared. Like a rabbit in a magician's top hat. Woosh. Like it never happened.

I've got to tell you a lot of people in Mendocino County think something about your decision really stinks.

Here's what Section 31587 of the California Government Code — part of the 1937 County Employees Retirement Act under which MCERA is organized — says:

“The (retirement) board shall apply the contributions of the county or district to its obligations under the system in the order and amounts as follows:

First, in an amount equal during each fiscal year to the liability accruing to the county or district because of service rendered during such year and on account of service and disability pensions, in an amount determined by the actuarial valuation as interpreted by the actuary.”

In 2004 through 2006, the Retirement Board didn't do that. Many of you weren't in this room then — but some were. This is what the law says — and it isn't what was done.

Each year's contribution has to be made in full, because the whole theory of the Pension Fund is that the yearly contributions will be made on time in full, and then earn the target rate of return so there will be enough money to pay the pensions in the future. If the yearly contribution is diverted and used for some other purpose — like paying Retiree Healthcare — then it can't be invested, and therefore can't earn its target returns.

And that directly leads to unfunded pensions that the citizens of Mendocino have to pay — even though we already paid our taxes in the year the funds were diverted. That means we — the people — are having to pay for those pensions twice. I repeat: Twice.

That's what it looks like to many of us — $6 million of County contributions in 2004 through 2006 were diverted to healthcare, were not invested, and as a result the Pension fund went further into deficit, and now, we ordinary citizens who will never get the kind of retirement benefits most of you will get, have to pay those pensions twice. In fact more than twice because the truth is pension deficits keep on growing until they are eliminated.

Back in 2004 and 2006, Mendocino County Treasurer and MCERA Administrator, Tim Knudsen, with a wink and a nod from then-Mendocino County Auditor, Dennis Huey, said that your Actuary, Buck Consultants, “advised” him that doing business this way was fine — until they said it wasn't fine.

Well, we the people have our doubts. This whole thing makes no sense. All the money has to go into the Pension Fund each year on time, or the entire funding scheme collapses.

So here's the deal. You need to show us the specific authority for why the Retirement Board did this in 2004 and 2006. Where is it written in the law that this is OK? We don't see it, and we need you to show us where the law says this is OK.

And then, there's another thing.

After the diversions, MCERA set up this receivable account called “Actuarial Value of Unrecorded Earnings.” MCERA not only said they “paid back” the County with this account — but they took another $3.6 million out of the Pension Fund, and added that to this “receivable.”

We, the people, think this receivable is ” gift-wrapped air.”.. what is not an asset, but what is, in fact, a receivable “gift wrapped” to look like an asset.

The $9.6 million diversion was never an asset. It was always a receiveable. It was a claim against whay you called Excess Earnings sometime in the future, if and when those earnings may have occurred.

Excess Earnings?

You've got to be kidding me. The $9.6 million in diversions were never an “asset” or “earnings.” If you claimed your future, unrealized earnings as an asset on a personal loan application, you'd be in big trouble. That's what this looks like — a “faked” asset.

And now you're writing off a “faked” asset. Isn't that right?

So — again — show us the authority MCERA used to create this account. Where is it written in law or Generally Accepted Accounting Principles that such an “asset” is real?

You need to show us here in this room today — and all the people of Mendocino County — what legal authority allowed MCERA to do the things they did. Not just tell us that authority exists — SHOW US.

If you can't, then you know what? Then, it probably doesn't exist.

Now — think long and hard about the implications of that.

Those of you were weren't here then — or who were here but didn't really understand what was going on — you need to take this very, very seriously as we procede in writing off this fictious asset, and probably proceed down the road toward a taxpayer lawsuit, or worse, a criminal complaint.

Tomorrow, the New York Times will report that the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), a federal agency, has settled fraud charges against the State of New Jersey for claiming it had properly funded public workers' pensions when it had not.

Many more of these cases may soon be filed. Quoting from the New York Times article, “The SEC announced in January it had a special unit looking into public pension disclosures.”

Continuing with the article, “The SEC said its action was meant to dissuade other governments and their advisors from hiding bad fiscal news in a fog of numbers.”

“Hopefully, our action will send a message to other states and local governments, ” said Elaine C. Greenberg, chief of the SEC's municipal securities and public pension unit, when interviewed for the New York Time story.

And so, today, I advise you, members of the Retirement Board, it would be a serious error in judgement to think that because we live at the edge of the world, here in Mendocino County, that we are immune from charges of criminal fraud.

We are closer to Washington, DC, and the SEC, than you may think.

And we are closer to Sacramento, and the California Attorney General Office, than you may think.

And we may soon have a new District Attorney, right here in Mendocino County, that may take an interest in the deceptions of this Board's past administrator and his advisors.

Thank you.

John Sakowicz





I was quite disappointed to miss the conclusion of last Tuesday’s garbage discussion, but I only had an hour before needing to return to my day job. I did have some comments that I wanted to read into the record but did not get a chance, so I thought I would pass them on for your consideration.

* * *

August 17, 2010

To the Board of Supervisors:

I have a number of issues with the agreement before you today. I remain skeptical of privatization in general because history has shown that it tends to create higher prices and decreased services.

I do not have a problem with Jerry Ward (owner of Solid Waste of Willits, SWOW), he has proven himself to be a conscientious business owner and community partner. In 2007 as chair of the Willits Planning Commision, we unanimously approved SWOW's MRF (Material Recovery Facility) and permitted them to receive municipal waste from outside the franchise service area. This was done despite some complaints from nearby Willits Redwood Company and others about odor and truck traffic. I applaud SWOW for providing jobs in this economy.

However in terms of negotiations I have to agree with Mike A'dair of the Willits News who said “the County has been caught with its pants down and its shoes untied.” We have laid off staff prior to an agreement being signed! The Board of Supervisors majority is showing tunnel vision, with focus on what is good for “the county government” and not necessarily what is good for “county residents.”

In terms of liability — Supervisor Pinches mentioned today “a million dollar injury” as a good reason to give up the county transfer stations, but the Board should know that it can not absolve itself of liability relating to pollution or contamination. So even if SWOW takes over the county transfer stations, we will not be scott-free.

The way this process has gone down has been disappointing.

Holly Madrigal





Referring to the front page article in the Ukiah Daily Journal on August 19, “Businessmen suggest Brush Street for courthouse,” I smell a rat.

Quote: “Two Ukiah businessmen are suggesting a location for the new Mendocino County Courthouse they say would significantly reduce downtown congestion…”

Well, one man's “congestion” is another man's vital traffic where his business was positioned years ago to take advantage of “location, location, location” as the Real Estate brokers continuously crow.

Our core downtown is a vital part of this community, and much of its survival as a downtown depends on the courthouse. Moving it a couple of blocks away would help maintain our downtown businesses. Moving it to property on Brush Street will help kill the downtown.

Congestion? Take a trip to the Bay Area. That's congestion!

In Ukiah, other than some mild backups in the morning and late afternoon when businesses are opening and closing, there is no congestion to speak of. The noon lunch rush is what we small downtown businesses live on. That's called livelihood, not congestion.

No, it's obvious this is about a property owner's self-interest against the community's interest in having a vital downtown, and downtown business owners' self-interests, not about congestion.

And, oh yeah, these two guys, Mayfield and Selzer, pushed the Masonite Mall by talking about how much new business would be brought to downtown Ukiah. Now they're concerned about congestion? Phony balony!

Keep the courthouse near downtown, and brush-off any suggestions that Brush Street might be a better choice.

Dave Smith





Just wanted to take this opportunity to thank the AVA for the Nutmeg editorial. Excellent tongue in cheek coverage.

Justice was served. Angela Hooper deserved to keep the animal. Shih Tzu are a gentle, beautiful, royal Chinese breed and should be with owners who love them. There is no doubt Hooper adores “his royal highness.”

There are four human actions in this world detestable to me: animal cruelty, liars, thieves, rats — two and four legged varieties. Pick any one of the four, and there’s Wallis Williams standing tall. I did not respond to her supercilious rantings about me in court. My comment on her vitriolic remarks to the AVA is limited to advice: Don’t throw spitballs at a battleship.

Aeryn Richmonde


PS. Two more points: 1. Gino may have signed that letter but did not write it. He is almost monosyllabic.

2. He was never in my house after August 1, 2006, when I finally got her another place. Williams supposedly paid me some mythical time in September or October 2006. The month moves around depending in which court she's whining and what document she altered.

Williams has two fatal flaws. She can't tell the same story twice in the same way, and she cannot stand to be ignored.



Letter to Editor

I have known Wallie for some time and was shocked at the cruel expose in the AVA concerning her and her dog Nutmeg.

I have been friends of Angela Hooper’s son Matt for many years and many prison sentences. Matt’s mother Angela always watches his dog until his return, sometimes for years. Angela of all people should know how important it is to return from prison to a loving pet. Wallie was looking forward to her Nutmeg being returned to her, and she wrote to me how much it meant to her to know Nutmeg and Gino were meeting her at the gate together. Small hopes and plans sustain us through the darkest times.

I saw Wallie the day after my release this May after two years and ten months at VSPW. Before Wallie’s house that day, I stopped off and picked up my dog Buddy. Buddy's caretaker was sad to see him go, but Buddy is my dog, as Nutmeg is Wallie’s, and I had no problem claiming him. Later that day I fully expected to meet Nutmeg at Wallie’s house and all I can say is shame on Angela for stealing him. Her son Matt cannot be proud of her.

Anita Murphy


Memo Of The Week

To: Mendocino County Auditor:

Re: Administration of the Benefit Assessment —

In our annual Benefit Assessment parcel review for the current year we discovered that some of the changes we submitted to your office for inclusion in last year’s tax bills had been omitted resulting in a revenue loss to us of $828. We then checked the preceding year and found that the changes submitted for that year had also been dropped without inclusion in the tax bills resulting in a revenue loss of $804 in 08/09 and a similar amount carried forward in 09/10. The cumulative revenue loss to us is $2,436. This amount reflects only the actual lost revenue and does not include the cost to discover and document the errors.

We believe that similar errors have occurred in the past and are greatly concerned that your office’s failure to correctly implement and maintain our records has resulted in a significant loss to us in spite of the fact that we have followed the required procedures. We are further concerned that without corrective action on your part we will continue to lose revenue in future years.

We were charged $2691.59 in fiscal year 08/09 and $2745.62 in fiscal year 09/10 for administration of our benefit assessment. Given this fact, we feel it is reasonable to request that you reimburse us for our documented losses of $2436 since you failed to provide the service we that pay for. It would be acceptable to us for you to compensate us by either sending us a check for the amount requested or deducting it from the administrative fees charged to us in coming years. We further request that you review your procedures to determine why this error occurred and take prompt action to ensure that it is not repeated.

The question also arises that if these errors are intrinsic in your procedures or software other districts may also have been receiving a similar loss in revenue.

Please advise us of your intended corrective action.


Diane Paget, board chair; Andrea LaCampagne, director; Kathleen McKenna, director; Kirk Wilder, director; Valerie Hanelt, director





How profound is the Edgar Degas quote last week, “Painting is not very difficult when you don't know how…”

Most artwork is just random scribble — all of it including the crap that made Picasso famous. The majority of “artists” think that they can make a lifetime career of what they learned in kindergarten. And some do make a few bucks by learning to describe what their garbage is supposed to mean to the prospective buyers who don't have a clue of what they are viewing.

The exceptions are rare.

Carl Flach




Dear Editor,

Why won't the court judges order the return of Wallis Williams' dog Nutmeg to her?

In a series of letter accounts published in the AVA, Wallis reviews and analyzes how she was set up and wrongfully sentenced to four years in Chowchilla Womens's Prison. If you have not already read these letters, you can find them on the AVA blog site. Upon her release from prison, Wallis requested that the self-appointed dog sitter and supposed “friend” Angela Hooper return her now four year old Shih Tzu dog, Nutmeg. Angela Hooper, owner of the Ukiah 711 bar, refused to return Wallis's pet.

To avoid the threats and jeers from Angela's bar friends, Wallis took the issue to Small Claims Court. Whereupon Judge Behnke held a trial on June 6th, determining that although Wallis is the dog's rightful owner, he thinks that Angela, the dog sitter, is the best dog mother. Judge Behnke then allowed Angela to keep Nutmeg in her possession until July 8th.

Both the Small Claims telefone legal advisors the self help center in the court house, and the Civil lawyer she inquired to, advised Wallis that even judges are not above the law and must follow the dictates of the law. On August 11th in open court, Judge Behnke censured Angela Hooper for not returning Nutmeg to Wallis on the 8th, then contradicted his own order by rewarding Angela with two more days possession of Wallis's dog until the scheduled appeal by Angela.

Today, Friday the 13th, Judge Cindy Mayfield, a last minute substitute for the hearing originally scheduled with Judge LaCasse, presided. Ms. Mayfield decided to disregard Judge Behnke's order. Instead of hearing the defendant's Appeal, Judge Mayfield permitted a third party to claim ownership of Nutmeg. Enter the indoor pot grower, drug user, “for personal use only,” surprise plaintiff, Aeryn Richmond, now in a wheelchair. Aeron Richmond is the Shih Tzu dog breeder for whom Wallis originally worked as a “companion” for $800 per month. Aeryn was the only person permitted to present a case for ownership of Wallis's dog in a so-called Appeal for Angela Hooper, dogsitter, to steal, er, retain possession of Nutmeg.

Wallis was caught unprepared for this unexpected turn. A third party's claim for ownership of Wallis's dog WAS NOT THE SUBJECT OF THE HEARING. ANGELA HOOPER'S 'APPEAL' AS DOG SITTER TO ACQUIRE OWNERSHIP OF THE LITTLE SHIH TZU WAS THE CAUSE OF ACTION.

Before Judge Cindy Mayfield, Aeryn Richmond claimed that Wallis had stolen the dog from her, that all Wallis's paperwork was altered or forged including her receipt for the $1,000 payment for Nutmeg, Nutmeg's American Kennel Club registration, Wallis's bank statement listing the series of checks paid to her by Aeryn which had bounced, the copy of Aeryn's bank deposit of the one thousand dollar payment which Wallis had requested in a friendlier time. All of this would have been a difficult and enormously time consuming task to forge for a one thousand dollar puppy dog.

Why did Cindy Mayfield permit a third party plaintiff, not the defendant appellant to appear in court, without proper notice so that Wallis was totally unprepared to prove her a liar? WHY WAS A PLAINTIFF, NOT MENTIONED ON THE COURT DOCKET, ALLOWED TO CLAIM AND RECEIVE OWNERSHIP OF WALLIS'S DOG NUTMEG?

Why did Cindy Mayfield refuse Wallis to file Gino Jacomella's notarized statement of events and court testimony, especially since Gino was depicted by Aeryn in court as the man who kept Nutmeg abandoned and locked in a cold dark trailer for two months hiding him from neighbor Aeryn until Hooper arrived to save the day? Why did Cindy Mayfield refuse Wallis to file statements from two other friends who had offered to dogsit after Angela had taken the dog. Why did Cindy Mayfield refuse to let Wallis file other evidence of fraud and attempted illegal conversion of ownership?

The money judgment of 2008 was exactly that, a money judgment, revalidated three times in six months as exactly that, and revalidated again by Judge Behnke recently, as exactly what it is, a money only judgment, the dog is owned by Plaintiff who may or may not have paid for him twice. If it is within the law, Aeryn can 'attach' the dog later in lieu of payment of judgment I suppose, however it is odd she has waited four years to bring up the 'stolen' dog at all, judgment or no judgment.

Why have two court judges refused Wallis a fair hearing for the return of Nutmeg?

Something else is going on.

Cindy Mayfield announced in open court that she didn't care anything about this case, the supposed appeal, that she was concerned about the Small Claims judgement of 2008. In this case, Aeryn Richmonde sued Wallis for alleged property theft for which she presented no receipts, nor any evidence. Since Wallis was by this time safely tucked away in Chowchilla Womens' Prison unable to attend the Small Claims hearing, Aeryn “won” the case. Appealing twice by letter on grounds she could not appear in person to defend herself, Judge Basner finally refused altogether to even permit Gino Jacomella to speak on Wallis's behalf at all or introduce any paperwork beyond what is mentioned in the paragrph above. Receipts of dog purchase as well as a Statement of Harrassment filed against Aeryn Richmonde, a protective restraining order for her Nutmeg, and the list of items Wallis swears Aeryn invented to pad the small claims to maximum.

Why is Wallis being scapegoated?

Is it because she blew the whistle on her public defender Bert Schlosser's failure to defend her in an evidence free, witness free show trial of which Wallis could only hear parts because of a hearing deficiency from her childhood? Why was Wallis Williams sentenced and convicted for Aeryn Richmonde's activities? Why is she being punished again by the courts for Aeryn Richmondes activities?


Dorotheya M Dorman

Redwood Valley

Ed note: A friend of ours owns a pair of frou-frou pooches similar to the contested Nutmeg in general appearance and happy demeanor. He suggests that Nutmeg's competing owners should seat themselves in an otherwise empty room where the unsuspecting Nutmeg would enter several minutes later. Assuming the women vying for his affections haven't fallen to the floor in mutual combat, Nutmeg, yipping with pure delight, will leap into the arms of the person he loves best! That's how dog disputes are best settled, not in the kennels of courtrooms. Case in point: My late dog Roscoe and I were hiking deep in the hills east of Boonville one afternoon when we suddenly encountered Roscoe's previous owner, my nephew, with whom Roscoe, then known as Rothko, spent his formative years. Roscoe looked at me; Roscoe looked at my nephew. I walked on, thinking to spare myself the emotional trauma of being abandoned by an animal upon whom I'd lavished every indulgence and with whom I'd spent many happy hours trespassing the Ander­son Valley's endless ridges and dead end dope draws. We could see, nephew and I, that Roscoe was torn between us, but I'd only propelled myself a few steps forward when Roscoe bounded up to my side where, fixing me with his intimidating part-pit stare, he growled, “So long as you don't call me Rothko, I'm with you, bub.”



Dearest Bruce McEwen

Let me start by complimenting you on your artistic and humorous use of your pen. Sometimes, however, you just do not get the facts.

I met Ms. Williams in the last days of 2007. It was a difficult and trying time in both our lives. We had both made decisions which had led us to a place I never want to go again. But we paid for our mistakes.

Once upon a time when one completed a prison sentence, one was allowed to rerturn home to what was most important to them, preserved by family and friends. In Wallie’s case, she was looking forward to coming home to her man and her dog Nutmeg. I saw personally the relief in Wallie in early 2008 after she and Gino found a caring foster mother in Angela Hooper for Nutmeg just in case Wallie lost her case. Later, in our seperate state facilities, Wallie and I wrote. Never once did Wallie suggest anything other than Nutmeg and Gino, the two things she had in life left she loved, would be anywhere but the front gate of Chowchilla when she left. She told me she wrote Angela often thanking her.

Angela Hooper’s excuse for this mess is that she is uncaring, greedy and can say anything she wants because she is a bar owning local girl. Bruce McEwen, you have no excuse for writing second-hand gossip for one thing, nor have you the right to publicly pass judgment on Wallie’s feelings about her dog solely from speaking to her 15 minutes after her shock in hearing her pet being awarded not to Angela even, but to the very person who may have put her in prison the first time! You write that because Wallie comes from class, Wallie does not care 'enough' about her dog to be awarded him! Seems to me Wallie has tried to go the legal route by asking the courts to give her her precious dog back. A lesser person would have just snatched and grabbed him, and in fact maybe she should have done just that judging from the way she's beeen crucified by both the courts and you.

What in the world has happened to decent human moral ethics? Girl buys dog, girl loves dog for two years. Beyond her control girl loses dog , but arranges for temporary long term care. Caretaker attempts to change dog’s ownership one month, one keeping it secret. Caretaker declares to owner on her arrival back that she is keeping dog forever because she is attached to it. So is the owner, Bruce MCEwen, so is the owner.

Victoria Biddle

Fort Bragg



Letter to Bruce McEwen

My name is Gino Jacomella and you wrote some truely blasphemous things about myself and my girlfriend Wallis recently, your entire article was slanted and filled with lies and half truths you took as gospel from Angela.

I never gave Nutmeg to Angela Hooper to keep, not ever. Wallie and I made a verbal contract with Angela and I delivered the dog, bathed and groomed about one week after making arrangements with her. I never deserted Nutmeg, I visited him for his daily walks and phone call from Wallie, for one month after Wallie left her house. After handing him to Angela for caretaking, I saw him 5-6 times a week at Bar 711 walking him often, until her release. Ownership was never a question, Nutmeg was Wallie’s dog.

I am not a stalker, neither is Wallie, nor are any of the other people Angela has accused of stalking her bar from my Chase bank across the street, except for maybe the little black men in hats she may also see. I had legal guardianship of Nutmeg giving me the perfect right to remove Nutmeg from Angela’s care at any time I wished without the dramatics of stalking her. My fault was I trusted Angela as a friend and as a person to do the right thing. I now have proof she planned to steal him from the beginning, using our friendship to talk me out of him in the first place.

I understand Aeryn Richmonde has sold Nutmeg to Angela Hooper. I was there when Wallie paid Aeryn for Nutmeg in 2006, now she has sold him again it seems. At court last Monday Wallie was not allowed to speak or present evidence, not even my notorized statement let alone testimony. A woman known to be a liar was given the court floor almost exclusively to expound in anyway she chose, her intentions to confuse what was supposed to be a trial between Angela and Wallie.

Nutmeg is the sweet dog he is today because he spent his first two years with Wallie, and he will always be bonded to her no matter what you think Bruce. Beneath that beguiling smile you criticize Wallie for using as a tool, is a generous heart of pure gold that is broken at the moment, in disillusionment not only of the court system and Angela, but you yourself the AVA. For the two years of her incarceration Wallie felt comfort in knowing three things. The AVA was listening to her letters and publishing her scary accounts of an alien world. Nutmeg was safe until her return, and I remained a loyal friend.

Wallie respects your understanding of the courts of Ukiah and came looking for you at Forest Club to explain or enlighten for her exactly what happened in Dept E and if the proceedings that morning were even legal. We all saw saw the court trial go haywire and wanted some input. It cannot be wrong to want to fight for your family which is what Nutmeg is to Wallie. Wallie is wrong only in that she is not from Ukiah, I guess — and so naive and lacking in guile in fact that she wrote a will while inside (the judge has it), giving Nutmeg to Angela in case of her death. In view of all of this slander and greed Wallie has obviously since superceded that last will and testament at least, if not begun to understand human behavior better.

Jammin Gino Jacomella





A little retraction please—

My name is Wallis Williams. The article this week in the AVA was not a bit flattering. I will not go into detail now, I want to hit two important points.

The letter I wrote to the UDJ on Aug. 8th was merely meant to be helpful to other dog owners like myself who could find themselves dogless and no one to turn to.

I have never spoken to Sheriff Allman on the subject of dogs nor have I put in print anything saying I have. I meant well in my letter as I have suffered over the return of my dog and I wrote this letter in the anticipation of a successful trial on the 13th. I guess Miss Pacific Palisades was trying to be helpful to other dog owners. Sorry.

I spoke with UDJ on Wednesday afternoon after your article came out and they had not even read the letter yet, let alone 'deep six it.' Please retract that I ever spoke to Mr. Allman about my dog or that UDJ was appalled about it. Thanks.

Though I spoke of Aeryn Richmonde in a less than flattering way at Forest Club the 20 minutes after she won my dog in a sham court maneuver, I mentioned nothing about the Schlossers. You have either mixed up my statements with your short interview with Dorotheya Dorman or you are referring to the Wallis letters, “The Williams Case.” Whatever I may feel deep inside, I would never stand in a bar blasting a lawyer nor his wife with unsubstanciated theories. Please offer your own and my apologies to the Schlossers for those comments you credit to me which appeared in this dog article of the 18th. Thank you

Bruce McEwen, you used second hand gossip from a very vindictive and mean person, Angela Hooper, to pad your story with juicy tidbits. There has never been a question of previous record in any country whatsoever. My being defensive over “check interpol” is because I was sent to Chowchilla instead of a low security place because Aeryn Richmonde used her vivid immagination to keep her clear of her own case in this matter by inventing previous incarcerations. Interpol check were the the first words out of my counselor’s mouth. She told a mutual friend for example, I would spend 85 years in France for manslaughter if I either got bail or was released eventually from prison here.

Do I need this? I have a cleaner record than anyone in 7-11, and my word is provable on record. Interpol cleared me 1/9/09 but I still could not go to FireCamp because of mean little people talking in the background here in Ukiah. I did not get probation on a first offense because of mean little people. Do you have to parrot the same untruths just for shock value?

While we are at it, Ms. Richmonde did not pay me $200 a week to drive pot to Pacific Palisades. I was hired to drive her to Doctor's appointments and be a companion. Are you attempting to get me a new case? Who told you I did that? Angela Hooper I suppose, or was it Aeryn herself? For that kind of money my phone should be ringing off the hook with people wanting me to transport Mendo’s finest, shouldn't it?

There is so much more and I will try another time to straighten out the mess you made of what was left of my reputation. Right now I worry about the poor Schlossers and Sheriff Allman. Thank you.

Wallis Williams




Dear Wellspring Community,

Having recently celebrated our 30th Anniversary, it is with great sadness that we make this announcement.

As a board, we have made the decision to close Wellspring by November 15, 2010.

How can we say goodbye to this place and community that has meant so much to each of us? Wellspring holds treasured memories for all of us.

Over the last two years, as the board has undertaken a restructuring of Wellspring, our attention has been focused on creating a sustainable enterprise. A lot of hard work has gone into this process, and we have been so privileged to undertake this work with such a vibrant and capable staff.

There were a number of concerns and issues that we faced. One of Wellspring’s biggest challenges has always been making our budget work. In order to strengthen our financial situation, we raised our prices, reached out to revitalize and grow our community, and fundraised. We were honored to see our community rise to the occasion and support us in our Save Wellspring campaign on so many levels. All of these efforts helped, and you were the reason we were able to make as much progress as we did.

However, despite our best efforts, we are left in an untenable situation. Wellspring simply doesn’t have the resources to sustain itself in a long term and meaningful way. There was no single variable we could have altered, nor any one change we could have implemented that would have made it possible for us to stay open. Our decision is based on a complex series of factors, many of them financial, some of them stemming from issues that have been problematic for years. We made this decision as a board, with the input and support of our Founder, Executive Director and outside professionals.

We sincerely thank you for joining us in the experience of Wellspring. We offer our gratitude for the many ways in which all of you, new and old friends, have contributed to the blessings that well up from this precious place. There simply aren’t enough words to express just how much your presence and contributions have meant to us.

Fortunately we are able to continue into the fall. We look forward to our Annual Harvest Weekend, scheduled for September 17-19, and there is still time to sign up. We invite you to join us in this opportunity to reflect upon the bountiful gifts that Wellspring has offered over the years. We also have open space this fall for those of you who want to soak in the beauty of Wellspring one last time.


Wellspring Board of Directors


PS. We appreciate your patience as we work to get this message out. We will be updating our community as this process unfolds. If you have questions about this decision, please contact our board member Daphne Macneil, (707) 463-2878 or For questions about reservations, contact our Executive Director, Terry McMillan at Wellspring, (707) 895-3893 or

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