Letters To The Editor

by AVA News Service, December 12, 2012



Quash The Federal Grand Jury Subpoena —

The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office was issued a federal grand jury Subpoena on 10/23/12 for medical cannabis patient records and finances associated with its 9.31 cultivation ordinance and the provision for a 99-plant exemption for collectives/cooperatives.

The US Attorney is asking for “any and all records of inspections, applications, communications, to include emails, with 9.31 permit applicants, permit holders and inspections...” as well as “any and all records for zip tie provisions to include financial account numbers for funds received through the Mendocino County Medical Marijuana Cultivation Regulation” program. This applies to the Board of Supervisors and Third Party Inspectors. If the documents requested are produced, the 11/8/12 in-person hearing in US District Court is waived. They're mainly after the paperwork.

The Board met in closed session Tuesday Dec 4 to deal with the dilemma of how to respond to the federal subpoena to hand over confidential patient records — to challenge or to cave. They issued a vague statement that they plan to seek outside counsel, i.e., cannabis specialists, about their chances of winning a challenge.

Some months ago, the Feds threatened the county with a lawsuit, if county officials continued to implement the federally illegal 99-plant program. In light of County Counsel's advice, the Supes voted at the time to avoid the lawsuit by discontinuing the 99 plant exemption part of the program. The rest of the 9.31 ordinance remained in tact — a 25 plant-per-parcel limit for qualified patients across the board, regardless of location or number of residents on the parcel.

The Supes' original decision to scrap the 99 plant program was made in haste, under the gun and before the election. It occurred in the midst of an intimidating invasive atmosphere of federal threats of lawsuits against the county for implementing its own chosen medical marijuana program and threats against landowners to seize their property if they continued to rent to dispensaries, despite being legal entities under state law. In the interim, Washington and Colorado legalized small amounts last month. Public sentiment is decidedly shifting in favor of states' rights and ending prohibition of cannabis.

Mendo Supervisors will now make a new decision about whether to resist the federal subpoena, fight it on principle in federal court or turn over private patient information, thus undermining public confidence in doctor-patient confidentiality and the medical marijuana program itself.

There's a powerful 2007 Oregon precedent, a total victory in federal court, that is relevant for a Mendocino County challenge. The Chief Judge of the Oregon District Court granted the motion to quash the subpoena, to the benefit of patients and the state of Oregon.

“Absent a further showing of necessity and relevance, compliance with the grand jury subpoena would impact significant state and medical privacy interests and is unreasonable. The state of Oregon's motion to quash subpoena to testify before the grand jury is granted.” 9/4/2007 US District Court Chief Robert Whaley, E. Oregon precedent protecting confidentiality

Grand jury subpoenas are not a new tactic employed by the Feds. A similar federal grand jury subpoena was successfully challenged in 2007 by the state of Oregon taking the side of 17 medical cannabis patients, refusing to release their medical records. Patients were accused of hiding marijuana sales behind medical marijuana laws. A federal judge in the Eastern District of Oregon ruled that physician-patient confidentiality and the integrity of the state's Medical Marijuana Program trumped federal law. It was argued by ACLU lawyers, including Alison Holcolm, campaign director of Washington's winning I-502. Since 18 states have now chosen to make marijuana for medical purposes no longer a crime, the Fed's purpose is to send a chilling message to medical states that their records are vulnerable.

A 2000 Colorado case based on Ballot Measure 20's own language also escaped subpoena compliance. “Any person who makes public or releases any confidential record without written authorization of the marijuana registry patient is (committing) a class 1 misdemeanor.”

There was also a pending case against the Michigan Dept of Community Health. Patients there are protected by HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), as well as by statute.

“The Court can quash if compliance would be unreasonable...The public has a right to everyman's evidence except for those persons protected by a constitutional, common law or statutory privilege...or if it's irrelevant, abusive or harrassing, overly vague or excessively broad.”

The state of Oregon and private clinic THCFoundation had the burden of proving unreasonableness. They argued that privacy interests of its citizens trump the government's interest in its criminal investigation. They called the subpoena “an unwarranted invasion of physician-patient relationship and privilege", arguing that the Oregon Public Records Act protects health information from disclosure without authorization of the individual. “Moreover individuals could be deterred from participation if it were possible for the federal government to obtain this type of information.”

On the question of federal supremacy, the eastern Oregon federal district court aimed for a balance between conflicting interests. “The state of Oregon is sovereign. While subject to the supremacy clause, the state has an important interest in the integrity of its authorized medical programs and in keeping its contract to preserve confidentiality of citizens' records. The states' sovereignty can be trumped by a federal subpoena...(but) more is needed to be shown as to relevance and necessity. There is an obvious tension between the state's authorization of the production and use of marijuana as a medicine and the Federal authority to make such activity a crime The point at which that tension should be broken by the compelled production of records to a federal grand jury has not been reached..The (THCF) clinic's concern that compliance can negatively affect the patient-physician relationship is significant.”

The County of Mendocino is like the state of Oregon, which went to bat for its patients and won. If Mendocino battles for its patients, their right to privacy and the integrity of its own programs, momentum and federal on-point precedent will help the county prevail in court and quash the invasive subpoena.

Ironies abound in the current situation. The Prop 215 growers who paid approximately $9000 to be part of the 99 plant program and let sheriff's deputies onto their property without a warrant during multiple inspections, were under the understanding that law enforcement was their partner and would protect their right to grow legal medicine under strict state law regulations, notwithstanding the unpredictability of the Feds. But under the circumstances, short of a successful challenge, those patients and their collectives are more vulnerable, their records are less protected, than tens of thousands of Prop 215 patients who have nothing more than a doctor's approval for their medicine.

There is another disconcerting issue to consider. Apparently, the Sheriff's program kept two years of medical records, not just one, i.e. the current year under cultivation contract. That could be especially damaging, since under federal law, 99 plants two years in a row, counted consecutively, takes the grower over the 100 plant threshold, the point at which a 5-year mandatory minimum prison sentence kicks in.

Regardless of widespread misgivings about the 9.31 nuisance law as applied to patients and loss of constitutional rights, we can all agree — the importance of doctor-patient privacy requires Supervisors to find a way to resist the Federal demand for medical marijuana patients' records and associated financial terms. Ask the court to quash the subpoena .

Pebbles Trippet





When an automobile is totaled it's usually purchased by a junkyard and parted out. The junkyard owner sells the undamaged parts. It's a slow, but profitable process.

Moving up the food chain are buyers of houses. They frequently purchase the most poorly maintained home in a good neighborhood, kick out the renters, paint and repair as necessary and resell at a profit.

At the higher end of this food chain are equity investors who buy whole companies. They usually purchase troubled firms. They make money by closing unprofitable subsidiaries and laying off expensive staff (like R&D.). This frequently increases the company's (short-term) profitability, driving up the stock price. Investors then borrow against this apparent improvement, pay themselves fat bonuses, sell their holdings at a profit and declare bankruptcy.

A common thread in all these enterprises: They contribute nothing to America's prosperity. They invent nothing, they build nothing. These are not entrepreneurs. They start no new and job producing corporations.

They are the bottom feeders of society. Like vultures, they perform a useful service. This ability to exploit the misfortunes of others may qualify them to be the CEO of Bain Capital, but not President of the United States.

Merry Christmas,

Bart Boyer

San Diego




When asked on his deathbed by his priest if he would forgive his enemies, the Spanish General Roman Maria Narvalz (1800-1868) growled: “I do not have to forgive my enemies. I have had them all shot.”

Marshall Curatolo

Walden Pond Books




Editor & Fellow AVAers,

Charles Burch said, “The rich must live more simply that the poor may simply live.” We are over consumers at war. And what is American life except bipolar shopping at the shopping center? A recent Harris Survey revealed 75% of American people polled are “willing to go without meat one day each week in order to send more food to nations whose citizens are starving.”

Considered not buying consumer goods from companies that manufacture military weapons. One afternoon in Manila a little boy came running up to me, begging me for a penny with his outstretched hand; without a shirt on you could see his ribs would soon break through his skin. “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed.” “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink. You will make him burn with shame, and God will reward you.” “He will settle disputes among great nations. They will hammer their swords into plows and their spears into pruning knives. Nations will never again go to war.” And millions of humans shall not die of famine in the 2020s as the pundits predict.

Diana Vance

Deadtree without Berries, Mendocino



Dear Editor,

“Zero Population Growth” (Todd Walton, October 24, 20 12th AVA) is not enough. What we need is negative PG. At the top of my list of mental defectives who shouldn't be allowed to breed are those who are against birth control and anybody who was idiot enough to stand in line overnight in front of a big-box store to get a flatscreen television on Black Friday. But now that we really need him, where's my dad to help me complete the list?

Keep your elbows sharp,

Howard Belkamp Jr. (Bill Brundage)

Kurtistown, Hawaii



Esteemed Editor,

It was a dark and stormy night, steady rain falling, and Town Hall in the stark brightness and electric atmosphere was crackling.

Tim Stoen greets you at the door. David Eyster, all big and warm, chats amiably.

Chief Mayberry and Chief Gonzales are grand, noble men, glad to shake hands.

The room rapidly fills, all seats taken, standing room only, when Judge Henderson commences to outline budgetary matters, then graciously tells us, stubbed toe and all, that the Ten Mile Justice Court shall remain open. Loud applause and cheers.

Seven honorable judges seated in front of us, attentive and reassuring in their silence.

Beloved Sheriff Tom reminds us of the outlying courts of yesteryear and the excitement of the present is palpable.

It seems we have many Santas to bless us and much to be thankful for.

Hugs and kisses,

Banjo Bob





After reading last week's AVA I am puzzled to see two cases so much alike yet so different. I can hear the district attorney making his final statement to the jury that the law states that in the commission of a crime someone sustained an injury then that person or persons committing a crime shall also be charged with a crime.

I met a young boy 18 years old in Florida who is doing life because he and a friend tried to enter someone's house and the person in the home at the residence shot and killed the boy's friend and the boy was charged with murder like here in Mendocino County in the Shinn case where the father got 20 years and his son is going to court facing seven years when the homeowner shot and killed their robbery partner and left him laying in their yard dying or dead while the homeowner moved their marijuana to a friend's house.

So why is the Cummings property robbery any different? In the alleged victim statement to the Sheriff, Tonya Scheurich admitted she went into the Cummings house and that even after being warned by Lawson not to take any items from the Cummings house she still went about collecting and piling up items. She said this took her all day and she eventually moved the property into her motorhome. For pity, she stated that she felt uneasy about being at the location. Hello Tonya, you just robbed the Cummings house. I don't think anyone would feel easy about being there. So she went on to say that she then went into town in an effort to find someone who would help her move her motorhome and the stolen items off the property. Hello Sheriff, she just admitted to conspiracy. Then she stated that she returned to the property with three people to help her move her RV. In her statement these were friends named Little Richie, Rachel Sutherland and Andy Jacobsen. Yes, believe it. My codefendant, Rachel Sutherland, was brought out there because she believed that she was only helping a friend to move her things. Only then Tonya stated how she went about the garage collecting property taking them to her RV. Hello Sheriff, that's a burglary because I lived in there. Rachel realized that Tonya was not being truthful and told Little Richie and they wanted no part in it. They went to leave and Tonya became loud and violent at Richie and Rachel. Then Tonya says that Lawson struck her with a gun or part of one or a metal bar several times. Tonya, it's tough to lie when you can't make up your mind which lie to use. Then you say in your statement that I grabbed, pulled forcing her into the house and that she was covered in blood. But my clothes are here at the jail with not a stain of blood. Red flag again. And he says he was hit with a rock. Maybe Andy and Tonya should be in jail because that's about as good a lie as Mendocino County Sheriff's detectives have ever heard in this case. This case has so many red flags that if they were sticking out of Deputy James Elmore or Sergeant JD Comer's head they would look like, I would say, clowns. But they do that themselves.

So I must say a golf course of 100 holes and if the district attorney can see beyond Tonya's BS to see a lie for what it is, a lie, and there is no evidence to support her statement, then surely you will see that Tonya came out to our property. We didn't go to town. This was all her doing. Ask yourself why this all happened. It will all come out that Tonya wouldn't take no for an answer and was willing to put her friends at risk of harm and criminal charges to get her way and really Tonya, all this so that you could get your revenge on Kathryn. Back to my question, why doesn't the law stand the same in our case as it did in the Shinn case? Is it because instead of doing crimes we were only trying to help people we believed to be friends? To Rachel Sutherland I am truly sorry that Tonya would build so much anger against you for not helping her break the law. My heart goes out to you and your kids as you sit in jail for Christmas when your soul is crimeless.

Love and respect,

James Gator Lawson, alleged Fort Bragg kidnapper





Thank you for printing Fred Gardner's eye-opener & brow-raiser (11/28/12) on the various crooks & perjurers & coverers-up in the CIA, the Pentagon, the NYTimes. I sport a “Turn off Fox — Bad News for America” bumper-sticker, so I turn to self-irony as I read that it is Fox News reporters (Jennifer Griffin & Adam Housley) who are the heroes of the piece. Gardner does nice work for Gloria Allred, also.

How come we all know the names Broadwell, Kelley, Khawam, Petraeus, Allen … but not the name of Ms. Khawam's shirt-stripping “FBI agent friend” who violated rules of professional conduct and the adulterers' rights to private tawdriness?

Jonathan Middlebrook

Redwood Valley




Warmest spiritual greetings. I am still in Washington D. awaiting a check which will pay for my leaving here. I am reluctantly willing to return to northern California. HOWEVER, I am also willing to stay active on the east coast, or possibly at an XL Keystone pipeline-tar sands point of intervention. I sent out a notice on Facebook last night to the Tar Sands Blockade groups from Canada to Texas saying that I am available. I do not need to be supported, but I do require basic housing (i.e., a roof and shower). I have sufficient money to maintain myself, and obviously do not need to be paid. If this interests you, or if you have suggestions in regard to my being active in Texas, go ahead and contact me. The worst case scenario is that I will fly back to California and enjoy the sunset at San Francisco's Ocean Beach.

Earth First!, we'll save the other planets later.

Craig Louis Stehr

4913 Tydfil Ct.,

Fairfax, VA 22030-5410



Dear Editor:

I would have to say the Tea Party stalwart Senator DeMint and the Heritage Foundation, a right wing think tank partially financed by the Koch brothers, certainly deserve each other. The Senate will benefit by his departure and the Heritage Foundation will move even further to the right. The Kochs and DeMint will not be happy until every progressive step of the last 150 years is reversed.

Then we have the greatest threat to the earth of climate change and global warming. The Koch brothers over the last 15 years have pumped about $61 million into efforts denying climate change science. Senator DimWit (oops, I meant to write DeMint) also is in denial on global warming.

I do wonder who reads or pays any attention to all the various right wing think tanks aside from those who read the Wall Street Journal or watch Fox News. Rupert Murdoch's fish wrapper regularly runs articles and op-eds by associates of not only Heritage Foundation but also other right wing think tanks, The same ones you see on Fox News. You know “fair and balanced news.”

In peace,

James G. Updegraff





Ask Not What Your Country Can Do for you.

Ask what you can do for your local Restaurateur.

Now is the time to come to the aid of one of our local restaurants! Bones rose from the ashes, as a phoenix, soon after Bones’ previous restaurant burned to the ground on it’s first anniversary at that location (that location now houses Shoreline Restaurant).

Mike and Mary Thomas, along with the staff at Bones, have been truly supportive of our local community both through making donations, sponsoring local events, and hiring local folks. Now it is time for us, as a community, to come out and support Bones and its 25+ staff. The staff represent about 100 people who live and spend in our community.

This week, especially Thursday (December 13th), we are asking the community to come out in support of Bones Roadhouse by enjoying a meal, purchasing Gift Cards – think Holiday Season gifts – and/or pre-purchasing your holiday feasts. Oh, and don’t forget they carry some wonderful t-shirts and sweatshirts that are perfect for Holiday giving.

When you go to Bones, let them know you are part of the “Gift Card Mob” by purchasing your items with your credit card or cash.

On behalf of the entire Bones Restaurant Team, thank you in advance for your support!

Jeremy Crockett , Bob and Roxanne Claflin


PS. Please help us spread the word by emailing, texting, tweeting, etc. to your friends.



Dear Editor,

The excellent article by Steve Helig about the “pro-lifers” did not talk about why it is that the “pro-lifers” cannot be reasoned with, cannot accept facts and evidence, cannot let go of their self-righteousness.

First of all, it is not because they are all stupid. Perhaps many of them are, but not all, and probably not most of them. Also, it is not because they don’t care about people. Let’s assume that they are sincere in their beliefs, even though there is no evidence to support those beliefs.

So, then, what is the problem? Simply put, they are trapped in their own ideology. They are classic ideologues. They cannot let themselves think outside of the ideology, it is much too threatening; in fact, it scares the hell out of them to even let their minds venture to the edge of the box.

They do not want to decrease the number of abortions via planning of parenthood. They do not want to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies via contraception and sex education. No, they just want to be ‘right’. They want to bask in the glow of ‘doing God’s work’, even if it causes untold suffering and despair. After all, they say, who are we to second guess God?

The problem is that the entire edifice of their thinking is predicated upon a delusion. They continue to believe a dogmatic, authoritarian, power hungry set of ideas that history and science both put the lie to. And the more they hold to it the more it shows the level of doubts they have.

Ideology trumps truth. But they hold on to the delusion because they have to. Without it they would have to face the pain. And they can neither emotionally of intellectually afford to let go of it. Many of them would not make it through if they had to face the existential pain and deal with it, rather than deluding oneself that you can escape it.

Our task is not to ridicule them or try to change their minds That cannot happen. Period. If it ever does happen it will be because the impetus for the change came from within them, not from political pressure. No, our task is to talk to the youth, to keep them from becoming ideologues by teaching critical thinking skills. Many may already be indoctrinated, but youth is malleable.

I thank Steve for the insight to show the relationship of the two issues that are at opposite ends of the spectrum of birth to death. The mood I‘m in right now about all this, is to seriously consider laughing at the ideologues in public situations. If somebody over the age of twelve told you that Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy are really real, you would feel no compulsion to laugh; not the laughter of ridicule, but instead, the laughter of dismissing the absurd.

War doesn’t change them; suffering doesn’t change them; exploitation doesn’t change them. What say we try a little laughter. As they say, if the Germans had laughed at the early Hitler, we might never have had the Nazis.

Lee Simon

From the farm in Virginia




Here is veteran’s exemption 16102 in the California Business Code:

“16102 — VETERANS EXEMPTIONS — Every soldier, sailor or marine of the United States who has received an honorable discharge or a release from active duty under honorable conditions from such service may hawk, peddle and vend any goods, wares or merchandise owned by him, except spirituous, malt, vinous or other intoxicating liquor, without payment of any license, tax or fee whatsoever, whether municipal, county or State, and the board of supervisors shall issue to such soldier, sailor or marine, without cost, a license therefor.”

I and my father were both combat infantry veterans. You will note one word says “whatsoever,” meaning any and all, no exceptions, every tax or fee. Then there are the words municipal, county or state.

Mendocino County accepts this code 16102 and Rossi Hardware has been exempt from a Mendocino Business tax for about 25 years as are other veterans who are exempt. The Rossi family has been serving this community for 68 years.

About 25 years ago I came across this law and submitted it to the County and they accepted it. At the same time I claimed an exemption from a bedding tax we were paying. They sent their representative all the way from Sacramento to say it did not apply to the State and if I challenged it I would have to take it to court which would have cost bundles of time and money. I wrote to the American Legion as this law applies to many veterans in business but since it didn’t apply to the bigwigs in the American Legion, they didn’t even answer.

Also some 25 years ago I put two ponds on our properties with all the proper permits. Five years ago the state put a $100 per pond fee on each, each year, and then raised it to $150 last year. I have protested it each year as I use the ponds for my cattle business. For three different letters, I got three different answers. The first answer below was sent by an Eloise D. Morland, fee coordinator, Oct. 1, 2009:

“The ‘Revised Business License Ordinance” you enclosed with your original letter is a Mendocino County Ordinance. The State Water Board is a California State agency governed by the California Code of Regulations. These regulations supersede ordinances at the County level and contain no provisions exempting honorably discharged veterans from Water Rights fees. Therefore, the fees for your Water Rights are valid and cannot be cancelled or refunded for the reasons you have stated.”

The second answer to my second protest by Eloise Morland, Fee Coordinator, says, Water belongs to the state and veterans law 16102 of the California Business Code does not apply to this part of California law.

The third letter, this time by a Rob Rinker, Manger, Fee and Data Management Unit, April 2010, after some silly language, says, “There are no exemptions for honorably discharged veterans or anyone else.”

Think about it. In my business and thousands of other veterans in business, we have paid millions of dollars more than should have been paid under veterans exemption code 16102. If the state does not want this law, CHANGE IT! But the State or any government department can’t decide what laws they want to follow and those they don’t want to.

It reminds me of Adolph Hitler who said we have to close all Jewish businesses because they are cheating you. The people said OK. They are probably cheating us because the Government says so. Then he said you have to kill Jews because they are bad. At that the people objected, but then he said kill Jews or be killed. That’s the problem when government isn’t held accountable by following the laws. Power creeps up slowly but surely if not held responsible. The constitution’s main parts were to protect us from our own Government.

Emil Rossi





Just Say No!

Just because it’s illegal doesn’t make it wrong. After Pearl Harbor it was illegal to protect or help Japanese American citizens. In Nazi Germany it was illegal to hide or help Jews and other enemies of the Reich. So what?

Laws and lawmakers come and go. Who cares?

Human beings have been using drugs and fermented drink to alter consciousness for as long as we’ve been human.

So what? Get over it. Get real!

Trying to stamp out drug use is about as smart as trying to stomp out sex or war. Forget it. Save your breath. Spend the money on civilizing our vulgar society.

Pot is no different than alcohol or nicotine. Pharmaceuticals or sugar. Overdo it — pay a price. Start too young — pay a price.

Pick you poison. Who would you rather deal with? Someone alter by God or pot? Someone altered by greed or beer? Someone drunk on power or floating on nicotine?

Boycott Uncle Sam’s insane drug war. Make the bootlicking order-obeying chumps unwelcome in our communities. Stop selling them fuel, food and lodging. Don’t fix their flat tires or serve them drinks. Just say no to the rude invasion of our state and county. Resist and frustrated drug warriors wherever possible. Do not take money from these fools who are here to ruin our economy with their outdated oppressive lows!

To hell with Uncle Sam, the bully ogre. To hell with his minions, his bootlicking, ass-kissing drones and obedient slaves!

Just say no to Uncle and his republic rapers who want to ruin our local economies of fish and flower!

Monkeywrenchers Arise!

Is Cal-Fire some kind of front for an East German style law-and-order group or are they just putting on the garb of ugly lockdown stayout? Let’s build a new depot we don’t need and let’s absolutely make it hideously ugly and exclusive. Let’s prove once again that the society of emergency and danger is still largely populated by the little men-boys with big toy lust, not to mention overpaid bureaucrats and fires, the new enemy lobbyist.

Really. What is Cal-Fire housing in that ugly prison camp east of Boonville? What is so goddamned valuable or secret? Is the place not manned 24/7? Or maybe not, hence the terribly offensive fence!

Marvin Blake


One Response to Letters To The Editor

  1. wineguy Reply

    December 13, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    God Bless Emil Rossi! A patriot and loyal American. He stands up for his rights and refuses to be pushed around by phony bureaucrats or phony ‘rules’ to void his rights! Go Emil!

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