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Letters (Jan. 16, 2019)

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To Flynn Washburne: We forgive you, we support you, we stand behind you, we love you!

A long-time reader


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I was in the doctor’s office catching up on the December 26, 2018 issue of the mighty AVA. The paper was folded in half on page 2 and the letter to the editor began, "Mr. Arnold from Fort Bragg is a stupid SOB," and I knew without having to look any further that that letter’s author was Jerry Philbrick of Comptche. I turned the page and sure enough there it was: "God Bless Donald Trump!" 

Lower on Page 3 of the Letters to the Editor section was a letter from DJ Sister Yasmin complaining that someone was blocking her phone calls. I’ve subscribed to the AVA for damn near close to two decades and every time the words are "DJ Sister Yasmin" are printed it’ her whining that someone is ignoring her phone calls. Damn, girl, get over it! Move on! 

And while we're at it, can I plead to the Absolute God Above to just God Bless Donald Trump and get over that too?

Page 4 in the Valley People section brought a wave of sadness as the downfall of the printed word was discussed. It's true. When people see me reading a newspaper they always feel the need to interrupt my reading by giving me their unsolicited opinions on why someone would still read a newspaper. I've begun to read in hiding just so I don't have to hear it. Do I interrupt you while you stare at your phone and make some pithy comment? I applaud your efforts Bruce Anderson and Mark Scaramella.

Still waiting for the doctor (lots of pretty girls rolling in files of something as we all wait endlessly. Pharmacy reps?) and now thoroughly depressed, I decided to cheer myself up by imagining Jerry Philbrick and DJ Sister Yasmin falling in love, getting married and having a baby! Donald Trump would be Jerry's best man and every attendee’s cellphone would be confiscated prior to entering the chapel and DJ sister Yasmin's phone number would be unblocked on every single phone so she could now freely call everyone! Soon enough baby is on the way. Then the doctor's assistant broke my reverie finally pulling me in for the doc to tell me I'll probably live in chronic pain for the rest of my life because I, you know, work for a living, bringing me full circle to your Eugene Debs quote on Page 6 about Debs’ opposition to men who do nothing who are paid millions while those of us who work with our hands and backs receive mockery and a pittance.

I just finished reading Bram Stoker's Dracula and with Dr. Van Helsing’s help out heroes learned that garlic and a little golden crucifix kept the nasty Count and his undead underlings away. 

So let me try my own crucifix on Jerry Philbrick of Comptche in hopes of keeping him from calling me an SOB in your paper: RALPH COON OF LOS ANGELES SAYS FOR GOD TO BLESS DONALD TRUMP! Seriously God, stop whatever it is you're doing and BLESS DONALD TRUMP RIGHT NOW!

There, that should keep Jerry safely at bay.

Kind regards, 

Ralph Coon

Los Angeles

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The sun is shining. Early spring. We are moving from Mendo to Albion. In a ditch we spot a raving hippie. Without a second thought we scoop him up (before the cops will). He turns out to be one Neel Miller. Neel was an ex-Marine turned violent antiwar protester and future IWW and Earth First militant, ex-football star and actor. He proved to be a valuable fellow worker and critical friend. Neel was installed at a campsite close to Tami and Captain Fathom.

Neel and Fathom proceeded to Canyon, a town just east of Berkeley where the now late and great Barry Smith dwells. Smith was a student of Bucky Fuller who invented the geodesic dome. We bought many sheets of the very best marine grade quality plywood, miscellaneous hardware, tools and perhaps an extra hand or two. Off we went to the bus landing. Tammi-Diane who now proved to be an excellent carpenter, builder and fish cook is a great help in assembling the dome and creating a room for Raven, a bedroom for us, and great nautical feasts.

Somehow, perhaps using the "labor self-help program" Neel acquired an Alaskan portable mill and an old Mac chainsaw to drive it. With Fathom’s feeble assistance he made redwood slabs out of the fallen redwoods left on the ground from previous logging operations around Albion nation. The slabs made a handsome deck for the dome. Tami-Diane made plastic windows. Fathom killed fish. Raven started a kindergarten at the Whale school at Table Mountain with our own Bo Landers. Helen Jacobs was her teacher. Life goes on. Bo wanted to form an artist community. He was a fine builder. He, along with Ron Facer and perhaps others built an excellent sauna and hot shower. He fixed up the main house which during the 30s had been the Albion primary school. The main house served as both Bo and Margie's family apartment and next a main dining room where we shared food and tall tales. Bo recruited an interesting group of worker artists to build his community.

Jack Lynch (now deceased) a dropout business executive, office manager and drunk. Alan Jacobs, Dobie, Pal Joey, Smiling Bob Bugs, Music Makers Jim Noyes (now gone), Alan Toffer (also dead), Tommy Rainbow, David Alba, Patterson Kelsey, all deceased.

We can't really remember when they all arrived and at whose invitation. We remember our old pal from UC Berkeley, Ben Finkelstein, who could fix any rolling stock and make fine wood products. Gary Moraga, a current leader of the "family," author of “Mendocino Rust” along with Beth Bosk. Gary, a Vietnam veteran and IWW Earth first man. A guy who made great photos, gardens, milled wood and remains top of the class.

Michael Green (now gone) excelled at marketing flowers. Bo’s girlfriend Sam fell in love and married Neel Miller. Neel and Sam Miller produced many children including the college football star Theron Miller, an NFL type powerhouse who later became a coach of the Mendocino footballers and a father and grandfather of present Millers.

The beautiful Carol Ann Darlene O'Brien, husband OB, Jerry the pirate, beautiful Betty, Michael Brother and his fabulous mate Bella. A future Mendocino building inspector Ed Petrowski (now alas also departed). The most able Fred Abelman and divine Bobbi. So many of the fabulous characters passed through Bo’s. Several years down the line, maybe around 1973 or so, Bo broke up with Margie. The "family" could not be controlled. He left leaving the community to take over the land payment, taxes and upkeep. Eventually, after a messy court settlement, sale of land to Bill Shandell who selectively logged and resold to the community. We became Spring Grove and have lived on happy and not so happy to this day, January, 2019.

More details, observations, characters and events to follow.

Alan Captain Fathom Graham


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President Donald Trump reveals a very limited comprehension of one of the most salient features of the western United States. Mountain range extensions of the Rockies and Sierra extend into the great ranges in Mexico.

To build a border-hugging wall from El Paso, Texas, construction must begin at 3,740 feet elevation. Once the continental divide has been overcome, the border traverses mostly mountainous terrain rather than flat sandy desert.

Arizona border towns Douglas, 4,006 feet, and Nogales, 3,829 feet, are situated where passage is possible, and that is why they are established ports of entry and already fenced locally. Even in California, the Tecate border town that is 45 miles from the Pacific Ocean is situated in hilly, boulder-strewn terrain.

And a wall east from El Paso to the Gulf of Mexico along the north bank of the Rio Grande would cede our shared river possession to Mexico.

The continuous wall that Trump champions is untenable. There can be a rational debate about improving border security but not without guidance from topographers and civil engineers.

Robert Ostling

Santa Rosa

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Letter to the editor

To the Editor,

On Tuesday, January 8th, I attended the swearing in ceremony for my new 3rd District Supervisor, John Haschak, at the County seat in Ukiah. After the swearing in ceremony and a brief reception, the reconstituted Board with two new members got right down to work. 

From the get-go, I could see a huge change in the way the Board is going to be doing business from now on. 

The first act of freshman Supervisor Haschak was to pull out for discussion several major expenditure items well over $100,000 each that were on the “consent agenda” that is meant for items of little consequence or controversy. 

At that point, 2nd District Supervisor and long time incumbent, John McCowen, chimed in to thank Haschak for doing so, saying how much past Boards had tried to be more open about County expenditures. 

Give me a break McCowen; if you cared so much about open government, why have you and your manipulative CEO, Carmel Angelo, been sweeping all these big ticket items under the “consent agenda” rug for all these years? Could it be that you wanted to hide your profligate spending from the annoying public? 

A little later in the proceedings, the matter of setting the Supervisor rotation for the Board Chair came up. The choice was to either keep the current rotation that is out of numerical sequence, or get the rotation back on a numerical sequence schedule (District 1,2,3,4,5). Personally, I don’t care how they do it, but I was astonished at McCowen’s remarks. He argued for getting back to a numerical sequence because he thinks that keeping track of a non-numerical sequence is too complicated for County staff. 

In other words, McCowen thinks County employees are so stupid they are incapable of keeping track of a non sequential Board Chair rotation schedule. This is classic McCowen, treating everyone as if they are his intellectual inferior. 

I’ve got news for you Supervisor McCowen: your days as monarch of Mendocino County are over. 


Jon Spitz


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My first job in the Civil Service was testing sheep for radioactivity following the explosion in Chernobyl, which Mike Jay writes about (LRB, 6 December 2018). Because of the patterns of rainfall and the high landscape in the Lake District, the sheep there became radioactive from eating contaminated pasture. Their heads were painted red to show they were unfit to be sold as meat and as a result their market value plummeted. Devon farmers, forever alert to a bargain, bought thousands of the sheep at a knockdown price and transported them south to the lush fields of Devon in the hope that the levels of radioactivity would decline. My job was to go out and test these sheep with a scintillometer. First you had to take a background reading by pressing the probe against your own stomach. Then you tested each sheep in turn by holding the probe against its buttocks and noting the average of three readings. If the average fell below a certain level, the sheep was fit for human consumption and could be sold at market. The heads of these sheep were painted green. This was invariably the outcome after a few weeks of munching Devon grass, and the farmers who had gambled on buying radioactive sheep made a handsome profit, sometimes treating us to a celebratory lunch in a local pub. Not everyone suffered from the disaster in Chernobyl.

David Ford

Hornchurch, Greater London

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PG&E is not at fault for these recent fires. 

It's the environmentalists who have closed down almost everything in California — no trees, no logging, no grazing, no farming, no construction. They have crippled every industry in California. The fires are so hot because the environmentalists would not let the people in the agencies reduce the fuels. Jerry Brown is responsible for that. And his administration. Jerry Brown wouldn't let them clear out under the power lines. 

The environmentalists have been in control for the last 20 years because of our weakling presidents and stupid Jerry Brown for 16 years. And Schwarzenegger before him and his wife, the biggest environmentalist in the world. 

If we had a major earthquake, like 1906 or in the 30s, a lot of people will be in trouble. They don't know anything about history. It's scary to realize how dumb people are. The people who came to this country in the early days made a lot of sacrifices to make this a country. But liberal teachers are teaching our kids nothing about history; they just teach them to hate America. What will happen to people who are sick and need medicine? No power, no water, no food, looting, terrible road conditions, trees falling down, flooding, bridges out. There won't be any way to get around. It's not if, it's when.  

The liberal Democrats who disagree with the border wall are doing all they can to stop it. All they want is open borders. I hope they all roast in hell. I hope the silent majority turns on you bastards and grinds you into the dirt where you belong. 

The president should declare martial law and all the cities with a crime rate over 3% should be taken over. Get rid of the dope dealers and murderers once and for all. The president should just send in the troops and clean them up. And liberals who don't like it should be arrested and sent to a leper colony island as far away from the real people as possible. Especially Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. 

The men who talk about President Trump the way they do are not really men. They are eunuchs. They are born without testicles. Real men like President Trump and appreciate what he is doing! Before he's through everything will be the way it should be. So all you eunuchs out there who talk bad about President Trump should start wearing shawls so nobody can see who you are.  

God bless Donald Trump, MAGA.

Jerry Philbrick


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The lack of civility in modern public discourse will be hard to remedy in a world where texting and acronyms like “LOL” and “OMG” are commonly used. The key to getting us “to communicate as citizens rather than as propagandists” requires reflection and the ability to understand multiple viewpoints on critical issues.

Back in 1858, a series of debates on the issue of slavery was held between two Illinois senatorial candidates, Democrat Stephen A. Douglas and Republican Abraham Lincoln. The discourse between these two men helped to enlighten citizens about a highly contentions matter of that era. In 2009, Americans would greatly benefit from being able to view a new series of debates on a topic like immigration or gun control by two well-spoken, well-educated politicians with opposing views. Sadly, those types of leaders are in short supply these days, as is the attention span of too many citizens.

Henrik Lundquist


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Corporate mischief—

Despite record corporate profits, working Americans need help.

Wells Fargo became the poster child for corporate greed by creating false accounts, while PG&E lobbied to have ratepayers cover its losses.

Big Tobacco knew that nicotine was addictive and smoking caused cancer but lied to Congress. The Ford Pinto was “unsafe at any speed” because it could explode when rear-ended.

Exxon knew that fossil fuels cause climate change but hid the evidence, funded deniers and tried to lower mileage standards.

Three Mile Island, the Exxon Valdez, Love Canal and the Deepwater Horizon weren’t natural disasters.

Our for-profit health care costs twice as much as in other countries. We pay more for the same medicines, and Big Pharma flooded the market with opioids that are killing Americans.

Instead of investing, corporate America used its tax cuts to increase dividends and buy back stock.

After taxpayers bailed out General Motors, it decided to move production to Mexico and lay off 14,000 employees.

Tech giants and social media platforms sold our data and ignored threats to our political system and social fabric.

Based on this history, we need major reforms to rein in megacorporations and address income inequality, universal health care and climate change.

Tony White,

Santa Rosa

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