Letters To The Editor
by AVA News Service, May 5, 2011
COVELO OPEN PIT MINE
Letter to the Editor
On April 21, 2011 over fifty Round Valley residents made the trek down to Ukiah to appear at 9am to speak before the Planning Commission against the Planning Department Staff recommendation that the Grist Creek Open Pit Mining Project proceed without an EIR (Environmental Impact Report).
They patiently waited for over two hours to be heard, and then proceeded to provide hours of public testimony before the Commissioners, citing their concerns that the impacts of this project had not been thoroughly addressed in the materials supplied in Mr. Hurt’s application, and that too many issues of importance to The Round Valley community had been glossed over with inadequate “mitigations” or completely ignored.
Despite this effort, and the submission of thirty letters of concern and a petition with over 100 signatures requesting an EIR, the Planning Commissioners chose to violate CEQA guidelines, and voted not to require a full, complete and objective EIR prior to the permitting process.
An appeal to the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors has been filed by the Stewards of the Grist Creek Watershed, Friends of Grist Creek and Friends of the Eel River to challenge this decision and remind the Board of Supervisors of their obligation under CEQA to require an Environmental Impact Report, whenever there is significant community concern.
Areas of insufficiency and concern include:
• Impact of 20 years of 4.5 trucks per hour loaded with 80,000 pounds of gravel on the stability of the roadbed of the Covelo Road. This is our only all-weather access in and out of the valley, and is already under constant repair from the weight of the traffic it currently bears. A complete evaluation needs to be done by a qualified road engineer, as well as a traffic study.
• Impact of increased dust levels on surrounding neighbors and general air quality in Round Valley. Will increased silica in the air cause deadly lung disease, as it has in other areas? The “Dust-Off” mitigation currently proposed does not take into account the constant re-grading of service roads that will be required due to the weight of the trucks and heavy equipment using those roads, nor the dust created by heavy equipment and trucks operating in the open mining pit itself. A thorough study needs to be done by a qualified Air Quality expert, identifying all particulates produced by the operation and their impacts on air quality in the surrounding area, along with an assessment by Pulmonary Experts as to the impacts these increased particulate loads will have on the health and well-being of those forced to breathe that air, over the next 20 years.
• Impact of increased noise levels in an area zoned Agricultural Preserve. A noise study needs to be done by a qualified sound engineer, duplicating the cacophony created when all equipment is operational — mining equipment, hauling equipment, generators, rock crushing equipment, screening equipment, sand screw, etc — measuring noise levels that residents will have to endure at adjacent and nearby homes for the next 20 years, six days a week.
• Impact on local aquifer and water quality. These pits will ultimately hold over 600 acre feet of water — that’s enough to supply 2,400 households with water for one year, over twice the number of households (all with private wells) on the valley floor. Will this diversion of water cause our household wells to run dry? Will it cause Grist Creek to run underground, losing valuable surface water necessary for fish migration to spawning grounds? Will the storage of CalTrans road spoils on the site over the next 20 years ultimately pollute our entire aquifer? A thorough study by a qualified hydrologist needs to be completed to address these concerns and others raised by our local Water District Board.
• Impact on surrounding Agricultural Preserve parcels protected under the Williamson Act. Will 40 truck trips/day and noise and dust created by the rock crushing facility have an economic impact on neighboring cow/calf operations and horse breeding facilities? What about wildlife? Should these parcels used for an industrial scale mining operation and an industrial scale rock crushing plant continue to enjoy Williamson Act tax breaks, when they are so obviously out of place within a true Agricultural Preserve?
If you agree that these potential impacts are of concern, there are two ways you can help support the efforts of the citizens and friends of Round Valley at this time: 1) Check out the available information at our website <www.gristcreek.com> and sign the petition to the Board of Supervisors at the link you find there 2) After you’re done, if you’d like to contribute to our efforts you can use the Paypal link on our website and donate to Stewards of Grist Creek Watershed.
Please also direct your friends to our website and continue to stay updated on the Appeal Process as it unfolds....
With sincere thanks,
Richard Roper & The Stewards of the Grist Creek Watershed
AND THE MOON WEEPS
(In Memory of Fritz Kuny)
Every time I think of You,
My heart remembers the boy I knew.
Twinkling eyes and youthful Grin
Looking for another heart to Win.
You held my hand when we were Young,
And all the happy songs have been Sung.
But tim gives and then it takes Away.
Youth is gone and twilight is here to Stay.
Blue skies have turned to Gray,
And all the robins have flown Away.
The lonesome dove mourns,
the passing of the Day.
The sun sleeps
AND THE MOON WEEPS
CUT THEM, NOT US
There is a lot of news these days about government workers retiring with incomes over $100,000 a year. This is disturbing to me on several levels, not least of which is a mythology created for those who work in the private sector that “most” government employees, especially those of us who work for Mendocino County, have this as an outlook for retirement. When you retire from the County here the amount you get is based on a computation involving length of service, your three highest years' salary (which includes your retirement contributions) plus whatever extra you've been able to put aside on your own. The majority of us don't come close to taking home half that amount of money in our peak earning years, let alone when we retire.
I have worked for the County of Mendocino for more than 19 years. I have a “medium” level supervisory position. I take home $1500 every two weeks (less than $40,000 a year). Everyone I supervise makes less money than I do. Most of my coworkers now have two or three jobs (including me) to make up for the 10% furloughs we've had in the last few years. Yes, we have already been contributing to the County's deficit reduction for awhile now. A 10% cut for most of us means $2500-$4000 to trim in living expenses. And, as we all know, just because your income goes down, your rent or mortgage doesn't get lowered. The cost of feeding your family is still rising. Also, medical costs go up for everyone. Even if you have insurance, you still have to pay the premium, deductible and co-pays.
My point is this: don't believe that the sensational government retirement and salary stories are the stories of the front-line workers here in the county. We are struggling and prioritizing just like private workers and our salaries have already been cut several times. Sometimes our “advantages” are propagandized by leaders who are trying to permanently lower our wages or break the back of hard-won fair labor practices. Do you want to know why so many people are misinformed and believe that all local government workers have cushy jobs and too many benefits? It's because it serves the political agendas of leaders who want to distract and manipulate us with “facts.” If we are fighting each other we can't keep track of what they're doing (or not doing, like paying their fair share of taxes or spending our tax money responsibly).
SEIU union level employees are the lowest level of all the county workers. We are the ones who actually deliver services to people who need them. We make the smallest salaries and we are the ones most often hit with furloughs when the county needs to compensate for poor budget decisions from the past. When they knock on our door we can honestly say, “I gave at the office.”
We have lost 38% of our staff since 2008 (worth way more than the wage reductions the County continues to demand, which tells you what they are really after), our bosses are overworked and overloaded and yet we continue to provide the best service we can because we care. We know what happens when people don't get enough to eat or vulnerable children can't get vaccinated against deadly viruses. We applied for and accepted our jobs because we care about our community and the services we provide to the public. We have “absorbed” additional job duties when our workforce is reduced. We have given from our kitchen tables to help. The real question people should be asking is what is the agenda and who is prioritizing how we want our county government to look? Why isn't the public involved in setting the priorities? The way things are going everyone loses, our clients, the taxpayers, small community businesses, and the workers.
Valerie Lawe Cannon
At Sunday afternoon's memorial for the late Richard Johnson, I was honored to present the Richard Johnson Memorial Flower — a deep red arum with a black pistel along with its white cousin the caladarum. The Richard Johnson red arum, distinct from its more demure white relative, emits an odor. Its Latin name is dremunculus vulgaris, commonly known as the dragon flower, dragon arum or stick flower. So here's to the dremunculus vulgaris.
The afternoon's stories about Richard ranged from the outrageous accounts of the One True Green to stories about his generosity and dedication to the Hispanic community to stories about him and his four newspapers, his “wives” as he called them. I remembered the excellent series of investigative reports he wrote on the pollution of the Willits water table by Remco with hexavalent chromium and the resultant endemic sickness.
So drink to the late Richard Johnson, celebrate with dremunculus vulgaris, the Richard Johnson Memorial flower!
Later that afternoon, Lessor, er, Super-visor Dan Hamburg showed up sitting near me, petting a slightly larger than rat-sized dog. I confronted him with the question, “How can you ask for more money (than a 43% raise the supervisors gave themselves two years ago) in these times when you are laying off so many line workers?”
Mr. Hamburg replied that Mark Scaramella (AVA, April 20, 2011) just likes to run him down. I responded, “If that's true, why don't you write a rebuttal to the paper?” With a hangdog demeanor, Dan Hamburg muttered something about the AVA just arguing back. I also asked Mr. Hamburg if he had read about the Belgian government national and local policies of no layoffs! Cutbacks began at the top of the heap. That way the economy still functions, only slower. He had never heard of that policy.
Tuesday morning, past deadline, I called the AVA and spoke to editor Bruce Anderson asking him for the source of the paper's statement regarding Dan Hamburg. Mr. Anderson told me that he and Mark Scaramella watched Dan Hamburg's hardship job description and request for a salary raise on the video record of the Board of Supervisors meeting.
So who is a liar? Who is the truth teller?
If you readers harbor any doubts about this one, look at the KMEC video evidence of this is meeting yourself.
Shame on the liar!
Dorothea M. Dorman
Greenland launches more icebergs than any other northern hemisphere glacier. The iceberg that sank the Titanic calved here. Shrimp trawlers were big business until 12 years ago when warming waters caused a mysterious decline in shrimp. 80% of Greenland lies buried beneath an ice sheet two miles thick; and where some people have never touched a tree, Greenland is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world. Its vast ice sheet holds 7% of the world's fresh water which shrinks 70 cubic miles each year. If all of Greenland's ice melts, sea level will rise 24 feet, inundating coastlines around the planet. This Arctic meltdown has begun to open up access to oil, gas and mineral resources that could give Greenland financial and political independence its people crave. Bright painted clapboard homes, built with wood imported from Europe, freckle the bare granite hills that rise like an amphitheater over the harbor. Cabbage, potatoes and turnips grow on Greenland's 50 farms to reduce the country's utter reliance on imported food. And while Greenland has an abundance of metals to be mined which would sustain the economy devastated by the collapse of cod fishing, the major obstacle is the ore laced with uranium and Greenland's government has a complete ban on uranium mining.
“Environmentalists around the world advised us not to exploit the oil reserves, but with the decline from our fisheries, how else can we make Greenland greener?”
“The weather is tough here,” as is human survival.”
Deadtree by the cemetery, Mendocino
PS. The woman psychologist has funny eyes, the pupils keep changing size. I can tell when she is interested. I can tell when she thinks I'm selfish and a manipulator. She and the head of the clinic sat around for a half hour Tuesday afternoon while I talked about how I play Pink Floyd's ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ over and over again in a dark basement wearing dark headphones, but that was last year. This year my car got wrecked, my pearls ripped off, my lover sick of sex. And me, loving the way he played guitar, went insane for at least three days. The woman psychologist has a spider plant and a yellow watering can. Daffodils for memorial day.
PPS. There is a metal wind that blows
a tree that grows without its leaves,
a moonlight night without the moon,
a cat that serenades me.
There is a clock that cannot count
and rain that dries the riverbed,
a slivered sun that silver bled
And blast a hole into the head of time.
Of time we poets long to speak
and meek and mild pretend to seek
the wild that runs through
our primitive repressed selves.
Oh, you are like bread to me,
all wheat and edible
as roses that thistle out
along the withered fence.
— with her head bowed toward Arlington National Cemetery.
FRESH EVIDENCE, PLEASE
In reply to a letter from your concerned readers who wrote that matters involving animal cruelty should be prosecuted, I agree. Under the right evidentiary and legal circumstances, animal cruelty should be prosecuted. However, because of legal issues, the case in question remains under review in my office. While I support freedom of speech, I will note that the letter in question is simply wrong in at least one of its claims — that I have refused to act. Time and attention is indeed being given to the review of this matter. But, again, no final charge/no charge decision has been reached.
Beyond that, I believe that the voters elected me in part to make sure that all charging decisions are done by the book and are not improperly influenced by public opinion polls, petitions, or by whim and fancy. To that end, if any of the 19 individuals who signed the letter have firsthand knowledge that can assist the prosecution, I invite them to contact investigator Devries so that he may arrange for the taking of their sworn statement(s). I would be particularly interested in knowing whether any of the signatories have first-hand knowledge relating to the alleged animal cruelty of one or more cats, cruelty that presently appears to have occurred some time in 2006. I may have forgotten to mention that the California Legislature has determined that the statute of limitations is three years for the prosecution of felony animal cruelty. If the current factual analysis continues to hold up that the alleged animal cruelty occurred in 2006, formal charges should have been filed prior to the end of 2009 by the former District Attorney or be legally barred forever.
Nevertheless, if there are any percipient witnesses out there who may be able to help “freshen” the evidence, they may contact investigator Devries at 463-4211.
C. David Eyster, District Attorney
JUMPING TO WAR
Why jump to military solutions to various problems worldwide vis-a-vis Vietnam, where an election was held with United Nations oversight but disregarded by Eisenhower who was fresh from World War II and riding high in popularity? No negotiations — B-52s and eventually Agent Orange.
Iraq, we had him by the balls but the big oil boys, Cheney championing Exxon-Mobil, et al., just couldn't wait. Remember that jive about the oil paying for the war? It was bullshit, totally! We are still paying for that debacle — now Libya and maybe Syria. Mercy!
To make a long story short, the pen is mightier than the sword. Unfortunately, we don't have billions to finance peaceful means of settling differences but we seem to have plenty of hawks eager to sacrifice your sons and daughters while theirs pile deferments to study at Ivy League schools with a few exceptions.
Such is the crap of war. Thanks for your endurance,
Head in the Clouds
Memo Of The Week
Low income residents of Michigan received the below in the past month. Also included it is the legislative agenda. All the while giving tax breaks to corporations. Fascism is alive and well in Michigan! You do great work!
Attached: State of Michigan, Department of Human Services, Lansing. Rick Snyder, Governor; Maura D. Corrigan, director.
March 2011 — Because you are receiving food assistance, you are eligible to receive a $1 low income home energy assistance program benefit. This is a federally funded program that helps low income families pay for heating costs. If you are active food assistance [sic] during the month of February, this $1 benefit will be added to your bridge card on a cash account each March the state has funds available. You can withdraw the cash through a store point of sale machine at checkout. Issuing this $1 benefit allows the Department of Human Services to use the highest possible heat and utility deduction when determining your food assistance. The $1 payment must be used to pay energy bills or for weatherization costs.
Note: Department of Human Services (DHS) will not discriminate against any individual or group because of race, religion, age, national origin, color, height, weight, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, political beliefs, or disability. If you need help with reading, writing, hearing, etc., under the Americans with Disabilities Act, you are invited to make your needs known to a DHS office in your area. This institution is an equal opportunity provider.
* * *
Anti-Labor Michigan laws, as of March 11, 2011: eliminate earned income tax credit for low income workers; reject extension of health benefits to adults and their dependents living with but not related to classified employees; prohibit paying union officials for conducting unit in business; freeze wages, no steps; pass health-care costs onto public workers; prohibit collective bargaining terms in government contracts and contracts supported through government grants and tax subsidies and abatements; prohibit collective bargaining terms in government contracts and contracts supported through government grants and tax subsidies and maintenance; remove contractual rights and consolidations; taxpayer-funded equipment and facilities cannot be used for union or political activities; requires public employees to pay no less than 20% of the cost of health care plan; health benefits of public employees and officers — allow Legislature to regulate; force privatization of noninstructional workers in public school districts; membership of boards of trustees in certain police and fire retirement systems, make a prohibited subject of bargaining; repeal police and fire arbitration; repeal prevailing wage act; remove prevailing wage on public construction projects: remove prevailing wage on school projects; repeal sunset on 3% public worker contributions to pension; suspend teaching certificate for two years if person engages or participates in strike activity; create right to work zones; require public employers to pay no more than 75% of the cost of family health care plan, 80% if single; repeal prevailing wage on state projects; teacher tenure based on evaluation of teacher effectiveness, provides for and allows for additional probationary period; create school district services consolidation commission to make recommendations for orders on consolidation of school services; create health care plan for all public workers, eliminate collective-bargaining; mandate a 5% pay reduction for all public workers; repeal Michigan's health and safety act; definition of public employee clarified regarding recognition of union based on receipt of government subsidy or enter local agreement; resolution to call on the governor to work to impose an immediate hiring freeze within state government; resolution to call on Governor to work to impose an immediate freeze on all state employee compensation including wages for a period of three years; right to work zones; government cannot mandate participation in health care plans; remove cap on charter schools; definition of public employee, clarify regarding recognition of union based on receipt of government subsidy or interlocal agreement; prohibit promulgation of rules for ergonomics in the workplace; require emergency financial manager provision to improve, modify, reject or terminate a public employee collective bargaining agreement; give emergency financial manager power to terminate collective bargaining agreements, override approval of collective bargaining agreements, remove elected officials from office and ban them from running for office for six years, dissolve political structures such as councils, commissions and school boards, force consolidation of services in schools, townships, cities and counties.
We thought you'd like to know how Douglas Roycroft is doing these days in his long recouperating process. You may know that Doug sustained severe injuries in December in a single vehicle accident on Highway 128.
He is home, healing from a broken pelvis and 7 broken ribs. Plans are underway for a Benefit Dance on Saturday, June 11 at Caspar Community Center featuring the Boonville Big Band,the Mendonesians,and Doug Himself.
We hope to see you there but meanwhile, please consider donations to the Douglas Roycroft Benefit Account at any branch of the Savings Bank of Mendocino County.
To volunteer for June 11, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org .
Lynn Kiesewetter & Linda Leitner
for Friends of Douglas Roycroft
Monday, May 2, 2011 — According to our Supervisor, Dan Hamburg, “The whole board looks forward to spending a day in Anderson Valley, especially during this beautiful time of year. It’s a great chance for us to hear from folks without their having to make the trek to Ukiah.”
Anderson Valley's hoped for opportunity to engage the Board in discussion on topics of local concern was nixed by County Counsel Jeanine Nadel. The present carefully constructed agenda allows time for you (three minutes per person BUT no more than ten minutes on any one subject) to address those of your issues not on the Agenda at 10:10 in the morning. If you want to speak, write down your message, time it so you will be able to include the important points, and when you are finished, present the written copy to the Clerk of the Board for inclusion in the minutes. Do not expect a response at this meeting from the Board.
Items not on the agenda are: the Sheriff's budget; the retention of two resident deputies in Anderson Valley; and public safety priorities generally; any water related issues (limits on development, public health and safety, restoration and protection of the Navarro). Fire Chief Colin Wilson will be speaking for the Community Coalition on the importance of public safety issues here.
All agricultural issues are lumped together with the report from the Mendocino County Fair, Jim Brown, and maybe Morgan Baynam, speaking, at 11:00.
Items ON the agenda, (but in odd places, and also unknown if public comment, and more importantly response from the Supervisors to public comment, will be allowed by the watchful Ms. Nadel) are: possibly housing in AV; and completion of the General Plan.
All housing issues may be addressed in a sidewise fashion by the discussion (if any) under the consent calendar item for revision of the housing rehabilitation program grant standards. Did you know that some $600,000 may be available for rehabilitation of housing? And was also previously available? Do you know anyone in AV whose house was rehabilitated under this program? Or what the standards are?
A related item is hidden in the report from Planning Director Nash Gonzalez (1:30pm) in which he claims he is in the process of preparing the annual Housing Element Implementation status report, and that he has met with the AV Housing Association to discuss possible affordable housing and farm worker housing sites in the Valley.
For those of you who have been involved in the development of the General Plan, and who have wondered when the necessary implementation of the plan will be completed by the revisions of the Zoning and Land Division Codes, Director Gonzalez will be reporting on that too. Whether there will be anything other than his written report, or whether you may question him or the supervisors about it is unknown. Briefly, he says code revision will not occur until after the completion of the Ukiah Area planning document, and he has scheduled it to begin this coming summer, some two years after approval of the General Plan. There is still no indication of what public input will be allowed in the process of revision, but bring your written questions, and if they cut the comment or refuse comment, turn in your written remarks.
And since the Supervisors have apparently dismantled the system of open committee meetings (which previously enabled public discussion of the details of proposed changes to policy and regulations before they came to the Board for final decision) you can bet that whatever action takes place on this all important Code revision will take place among carefully selected "stakeholder" groups, and unless you keep your eyes on the ball, the results may not even approximate what you thought you heard in the previous three years of General Plan public meeting discussions.
Also on the Agenda, and very interesting, is a public trip to Sarah Cahn-Bennett's new Goat Cheese Factory south of the fairgrounds on Highway 128, just after lunch which is at noon at the fairgrounds.
So, you all come and make Supervisor Hamburg's day, and let him hear from you!
WHAT'S TRUMP HIDING?
Have you noticed that Donald Trump doesn't wear an American flag lapel pin? Why does he hate America? And he hasn't visited our troops in Iraq or Afghanistan. Why doesn't he support the defense of freedom? And worse yet, he hasn't released his tax returns. He must be hiding something from us.