Letters To The Editor
by AVA News Service, July 31, 2013
Edward Snowden, who deserves a medal for exposing NSA's big brother surveillance on American citizens, is discovering the life of a whistleblower can be a very unpleasant life. In particular, the Obama Administration in charging Snowden under the Espionage Act of 1917, an odious law that was used by Woodrow Wilson to punish dissenters who were opposed to the US getting involved in WWI. It has seldom been used since that time until President Obama starting using it to punish whistleblowers who have the audacity to report on his unconstitutional actions. It is interesting to note 70% of the NSA's budget goes to private contractors. It is a tremendous cash cow for them for engaging in immoral actions. The NSA claims all this information has resulted in stopping over 50 terrorist actions. One would have to believe in the tooth fairy to believe what the NSA claims. Just look at NSA Administrator Clapper who earlier this year lied to a Congressional Committee. If the head person is a liar why would you believe any claims by the agency?
I do think all the information Snowden had is in the hands of the Guardian newspaper who are publishing occasional articles after first notifying the US government who seems to be unable to offer a definite response as to why it should not be published. Also, journalist Glenn Greenwald is to publish a book in March about Snowden and his exposure of the US massive public surveillance. It is claimed there will new information about the extent of cooperation by private industry.
James G. Updegraff
UNABLE TO CONTINUE
The Caspar Children's Garden (CCG) is much in need of a new home for its preschool program. I sincerely hope that a suitable location is found. However, as president of the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens (MCBG) board of directors, I am concerned about Skip Taube's characterization of discussions that CCG initiated with the Gardens about the possibility of leasing the Parrish Family Farmhouse for this purpose.
Because of the age and condition of the Farmhouse, it was made clear from the outset that CCG would have to be responsible for demonstrating that this old and largely unimproved house could and would provide a safe and wholesome environment for regular use by young children. It was understood that this would require various tests and inspections, fencing and likely other modifications. Despite prolonged discussions with a series of CCG representatives, including Mr. Taube, the MCBG Board and our Director regretfully concluded that since we could not ensure the children's well-being, it would be unacceptable to lease the property for use as a preschool. While disappointing, the decision was neither abrupt nor driven by a “loss of interest.” It resulted from a thoughtful process driven by a clear focus on the health and safety of the children.
Wendy Roberts, President
Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens
IT’S A JUNGLE OUT THERE
The Sinking of Scranton article that appeared in the last AVA inspired me to send in my poem on the subject that I wrote in 1992.
* * *
Living In The Jungle
by Ed Oberweiser
The true powers are never seen
behind shaded windows in limousines
and remote estates and gathering places
where light won’t define significant faces.
Governments fail and our dreams die
and Ghandis fall while Hitlers rise.
Their lieutenants and governors we know so well
and daily consign them all to hell.
Never constructing two and two,
consciousness sinks back into the slough.
Divide and conquer works so well,
keeping us confused and under their spell.
Women against men and black against white,
we're all diverted from the real fight-
from those who use us and throw us in the ditch.
We must free ourselves from the blood-sucking rich.
They sell weapons to both sides in all the wars,
and lie to the people about what they're dying for.
It's not for freedom or human rights,
that against each other we always fight.
It all comes down to the rich, wanting more, more
That's who all the wars are for.
STAND YOUR GROUND, LADIES
Stand your ground: not just for men.
With rape and sexual assault so much in the news, with little likelihood that men are going to become more highly evolved any time soon, if I were a woman I might well apply for a permit to carry a concealed weapon and support stand your ground.
THE CARILLO LOOK
Sonoma County Supervisor, Efren Carrillo, is getting a bum rap. Gals can wear slinky lingerie in public and it's called a fashion statement. But a guy going for an evening stroll in his skivvies is tagged as a pervert.
I predict that the “Carrillo Look" will become a male fashion statement.
You write in Mendocino County Today on-line, “…$402,714/78 = $5163 per dislocated worker. However, all the money goes to the [sic] Workforce Investment Board (WIB) Counselors for their ‘services’.”
What a rip off of taxpayer money
Personally, I think a person out of work, and down on their luck, would be better off if the WIB cut each person a check for $5,163.
The WIB sounds like a jobs program alright. It’s a jobs program for the people who work at the WIB.
The same is probably true for the West Company, which gets a big slug of money from the federal Block Grant Program. Their last audit report shows a budget of $450,507.
Then, there’s FIRST 5. Mendocino. Their budget is $1,588,151.
Who is FIRST 5? What is FIRST 5?
The FIRST 5 Mendocino mission statement says, “FIRST 5 promotes, supports and improves the health and development of children, prenatal to five years of age.”
Funded by the passage of Prop 10 in 1998, FIRST 5 Mendocino, “… distributes this tobacco-tax revenue to benefit Mendocino County children, prenatal through the age of five, and their families.”
FIRST 5 Mendocino continues, “We distribute this revenue by awarding grants and funding other initiatives to address the following focus areas: Parent Education and Support Services, Child Care and Early Childhood Development, Health and Wellness, and Policy and Advocacy for Children and Family Issues.”
The FIRST 5 annual report finally states, “Each year we also give away hundreds of free smoke alarms, free children’s books, and free children’s art supplies, as well as free DVDs on nutrition, safety, quality child care, health, discipline, and early learning.”
Guess what, friends?
It virtually impossible to figure out from the FIRST 5 Mendocino annual report exactly how much FIIRST 5 Mendocino awards in grants — hard cash grants — each year to real child services agencies, like the Anderson Valley Resource Center.
My guess it’s something in the neighborhood of $400,000-$500,000.
So where does the cash go?
The other $1 million, more or less?
Some cash goes to administration…salaries.
The FIRST 5 Mendocino annual reports states that $158,815 was spent for something called “administrative evaluation.” (Is that budget line item the total for administrative costs? I really don’t think so.)
The rest of the $1,88,151 goes to soft services.
Soft services…advocacy, case management, help in applying for welfare and Food Stamps, and instruction in subjects like breast feeding, nutrition and fitness, and something called “imagination library,” or “control your remote”,” and something else called “rise and shine..”
My question is: Wouldn’t poor women and their children be better served simply by cutting them a check, or giving them rental assistance, or a daycare voucher.?
Think about it…$1,588,151.
So whether you’re talking about the Workforce Investment Board, or the West Company, or FIRST 5 Mendocino, you’ve got to wonder: Are we getting our money’s worth?
Also: What are the performance metrics to objectively measure the cost-effectiveness of these programs?
Or isn’t it true that these three agencies are “grant writing machines” and “jobs programs” for the people who work in those three agencies.
BAIT & SWTICH
To the Editor,
We are all tired of the controversy. At some point, the bypass will be done or not, and hopefully we will still be neighbors who care about each other and our community. I, for one, am not ready to call it "done." It's only five months into five years of construction (if it is on schedule). Much more expense, irreversible changes and serious unknown risks still lie ahead.
The proposed four-lane freeway is unnecessary. Population and traffic volumes have not increased for over 20 years. Caltrans projections of growth and local use of the bypass are faulty, and their claim that the Federal Highway Administration requires a four lane freeway is outright false.
Of course we all agree we need to relieve the congestion in town, but there are much less expensive, less damaging ways to do that! Potential alternatives — from restriping Main Street to a Baechtel-Railroad Avenue connection, to developing a limited access two-lane parkway route — should have been pursued before undertaking a four-lane freeway bypass. (I would be happy to provide more details on these options to anyone interested.)
Bypass critics argued for two-lane alternatives repeatedly for decades and Caltrans summarily rejected them. Now Caltrans is building only two lanes, but with most of the impacts of an I-5 footprint. A six-mile stretch of freeway is not needed, not in the best interests of our community, and not worth the huge price tag and environmental damage it entails. Spending $210 million-plus for just Phase I so that motorists can save a few minutes bypassing Willits is an obscene waste.
Finally, global climate change warrants rethinking the freeway solution. Construction alone will produce 80-90 years worth of the greenhouse gas emissions Caltrans claims would be saved annually by the completed bypass.
This project was sold on false pretenses. I and other protesters are simply asking Caltrans to respect our environment, tax dollars, community and common sense by modifying their unnecessary overbuilt design. I hope it is not too late to do what makes sense!
Madge Strong, Councilperson
SPORTS TALK PART III
To the Editor:
Paul McCarthy over here on the coast at MendocinoSportsPlus (MSP). First of all, even the most casual viewer of MSP would have to be mentally unbalanced to think we “represent” the Mendocino Unified School District in any of our posts. Any more than we “represent” the Coast Guard when we report maritime traffic, Caltrans or Calfire when we report on road conditions/wild land fires, PG&E when we report power outages or the CHP/Mendocino Sheriff's office when we run their press releases. But, knowing this county from living here going on 19 years, we have, for everyone to see, the following disclaimer just so there can't be the slightest confusion:
“…this site is not affiliated in any way, shape or form with the Mendocino Unified School District (MUSD) and MSP's commentary/opinion should never be construed as having ANY connection with that of the MUSD.” I find it difficult to make the point any clearer than that. MSP was started a year and a half ago. Its success rests upon the fact we're a fresh alternative news/sports diet to the weekly steaming bowl of boredom served up by the Mendocino Beacon. While I do most of the “heavy lifting” here, and some times dish out my opinion, MSP is a collaborative enterprise. Emailers & non-public Facebook “messages” frequently point us in interesting directions. For example MSP announced what cold homicide case was going to be announced as “solved” by the sheriff's office — a full day before the press conference. But for sports, I'm the “boots on the ground” and I don't think anyone in this county could come close to matching my attendance at every sport in the North Coast League III (both home & away) since MSP's inception. I don't have to shape my commentary, or butt-kiss athletic directors, principals & superintendents to keep my job.
With that said, it was somewhat distressing and I'm highly & rightfully incensed to see a coach I greatly admire, Jim Young, continue to pass along the outright lie MSP called the Point Arena team “pussies.” Particularly when I emailed him the post in question last December when he first brought it up.
What MSP wrote was it was “demoting” the “Pirates” to “Pussycats” for forfeiting a varsity game to Mendocino. Big difference — and it takes quite a bit of the sting away from the statement. As I told coach Young in the email, MSP has banned “people from the site for using the word 'pussy' in the way you infer I did” and added “ other teams in the league are used to Mendo's 'sensitivity' and play on it like a piano…” So, for the record, it was substituting “Pussycats” for “Pirates” — an alliterative goof.
Now on to other matters, Coach Young states I have no connection “whatsoever” with Mendocino sports. Huh? I've been a proud member of “Club Cardinal” (which supports all Mendo high school sports teams) for the past six years and remain so even though my son graduated. My devotion to the football team, of which my son was a member, will never wane and while I don't see Coach Young's name on any championship plaque in the Mendo high school trophy case, he can view mine.
And I didn't just accuse Laytonville of running up football scores — I declared it. Rushing for two-point conversions while leading 74-0 (eventually beating hapless Round Valley 86-12) is the height of poor sportsmanship — and don't forget the 72-0 pasting they delivered to Anderson Valley or the 55-0 defeat of Point Arena. Hall of Fame coach (Chautauqua, NY) Young then goes on to say I attacked Anderson Valley AD Robert Pinoli twice!
Believe me, coach Young would know if I attacked him as I would have used something similar to what AA Cohen used describing railroad baron Charles Crocker: (he's a) “living, breathing, waddling monument of the triumph of vulgarity, viciousness and dishonesty” or my favorite Charles Adams quote: he's a “ill-mannered bully, and by all odds the most covertly and dangerously corrupt man I ever had the opportunity and occasion carefully to observe in public life.” So, no, I never attacked him. AD Pinoli arbitrarily (and illegally) started a running clock before half time in the Mendocino-AV game last fall. It can only be started after the third quarter unless the coaches are consulted. The Mendo coaches, of course, would have agreed but they were never asked.
I called AD Pinoli on it, notified the league and wrote about it. That's NOT an attack. Those are facts. If AD Pinoli, who is supposed to be the “acting” commissioner of the NCL III, was correct why did he apologize for his faux pas after the game?
Ditto questioning “possible” illegal practices. The high school principal, it turns out, has to ok practices before the official start date. AV didn't have an on site principal, I believe, when the soccer practices started. Was the new principal asked? Can't tell you — thus our questioning of how they were “getting away” with it.
And since when was coach Young appointed “Chief Apologist” for the Mendo school district? That's a knee-slapper. Laytonville High School does look like the sheriff's lock-up at Low Gap Road — just add a couple strands of concertina wire and it'd be a clone when viewed from Branscomb Road. There was much “give-and-go” at MSP with Laytonville sports fans over my unflattering description (were they trying to keep people in or out?), but it was eventually revealed the architect's specialty WAS designing minimum security facilities. I helpfully suggested they plant climbing ivy or vines to soften the harshness of the chain-link surrounding the lock-up, I mean campus.
And I'd like to know if coach Young has such a “thick skin from multiple years in youth sports” (his words) why is he running around Mendocino County apologizing for my opinions? Coach Young goes on about the MUSD high school administration being on “the receiving end of abuse” from MSP. How in the wide, wide world of sports can we be perceived as “representing” the MUSD if we're attacking it all the time? You can't have it both ways coach.
MSP is an independent voice of social media on the coast. As I explained to the coach: “The only thing I represent is my own self-interest.” The Press Democrat has referred to me (charitably) as a “Mendocino sports historian,” but I'll be the first to admit I have a lot to learn. Like who was the Mendocino high school athletic director that allowed an ineligible player play on (two) sports teams that cost the high school the 2006 football championship and the forfeit of their season? So, in conclusion, everyone but an idiot knows MSP isn't the voice of the Mendocino school district, MSP called Point Arena Pussycats not Pussies and MSP will continue to “call 'em the way we see 'em” regardless (and despite) apologies that are unnecessary, unneeded and unwanted.
SIC SILVER ON CALTRANS
Last week you wrote about the man who Save Our Little Lake Valley and the Willits Environmental Center need: Jack Silver of your favorite bogus "non"-profit Riverwatch. Jack Silver needs to sue Caltrans for its numerous violations of the Clean Water Act, including the intention of the law itself -- to protect all existing wetlands. Imagine Jack Silver helping himself and the determined activists opposing Caltrans to some of that megamoney. Surely he has the bona fides to accomplish some real good — for a change.
The current prosecution of AVA investigative reporter Will Parrish exemplifies the utter corruption of the United States legal and political system where what is righteous and honorable is prosecuted, while what is evil and destructive is rewarded. The United States has become its own nemesis -- a demeritocracy. Kudos to Will. We are all rooting for you.
Do any people in public office think for themselves anymore or have all honest souls abandoned ship? A few years ago the national Audubon Society magazine devoted a full issue to the top scientists who had left government for reasons of conscience or had been forced out of high-level positions in what's left of our regulatory agencies -- supposedly the guardians of the public trust. The result has been a corporate takeover of the public trust.
Suppose our elected district Attorney David Eyster refused to prosecute Will Parrish for his crane/marsh drain high platform protest — with Mr. Eyster informing himself fully on the reasons this bypass plan is destructive. Suppose thoughtful members of the California Highway Patrol refused to arrest protesters of conscience. Suppose local officials, both municipal and countywide, understood why the bypass as planned is unnecessarily harmful. Does anyone in public office bother to research, to inform themselves beyond ideological thinking? Who are these officials serving? Are there any ethics left in public service or is it public disservice?
What law can protect Will Parrish from outrageously punitive statutes requiring compulsory imprisonment such as the two-year federal prison sentence that Tim DeChristopher endured? The scapegoat laws passed by the current crop of lawmakers (hold your nose) are designed to thwart all conscientious dissent. Tim DeChristopher is the college economics student who doubted the Bureau of Land Management's illegal auction, a new giveaway of pristine land adjoining two of Utah's national parks to oil and gas drillers. See for yourself the newly released documentary, "Bidder 70," chronicling Tim DeChristopher's legal struggles. See gageproductions.com / Bidder70film.com (970) 728-4908.
These ghastly laws (hold your nose) can be defeated legally by jury nullification law. The doctrine of jury nullification establishes the juror and the jury's conscience with the highest status in the legal system, higher than all of man's laws, higher than either judges or jury instructions.
Our legal system is now so far out of whack with common sense that the president of the United States himself has stated that the murdered young man, Travon Martin, could have been his own son. Unjust law, unjustly administered was used to absolve the killer for his actions.
Will Parrish's courageous principled drain/crane sit deserves the adherence two conscience of equally principled jurors. It is time to set things right.
Dorotheya M. Dorman
CALTRANS AS USUAL
To the Editor:
I and three other protesters (Ellen Drell, Madge Strong and Julia Frech) met with Malcolm Dougherty, Director of the California Department of Transportation, on Tuesday morning, July 9, armed with a PowerPoint presentation. We clung to a glimmer of hope that Dougherty was a visionary leader with the courage to move Calltrans into the 21st century, building environmentally and fiscally responsible projects based on projected need, not on goals to dreamed up half a century ago or on redistributing a huge chunk of public money to the construction industry. We quickly learned that Dougherty is no visionary and that he has no intention of moving Caltrans past 1960, let alone into the 21st century.
During the meeting it became even clearer that the freeway bypass has nothing to do with traffic volume; it will operate at no more than 15% of its capacity during peak hours over the next 20 years. This fact was not contested by Dougherty or District 1 Director Charlie Fielder who was also present at the meeting. Neither was he the slightest bit fazed by the resulting waste of money and massive environmental destruction.
If nothing else, the Willits bypass is a case study of how the people of California are at the mercy of an out-of-control state agency willing to use whatever means necessary to implement their agenda: duping local politicians and regulatory agencies into thinking that a freeway is actually needed; threatening to build a freeway or go home; blatantly disregarding local concerns; rigging the environmental review process to ensure only freeway alternatives would be considered; and fabricating lies that federal funding could not be secured for smaller, cheaper and less impacting solutions.
Perhaps the most revealing part of the meeting was that Dougherty saw nothing wrong with this. In fact he held it up as model of good business practice to used to sell hundreds of other highway projects in California on unsuspecting citizens. Apparently, Caltrans is accountable to no one.
A SHOCKING DAY
Another exciting day of sitting on my ass and listening mostly to BS. Now we are into the best part of the day. It's late afternoon and we are sipping bourbon and branch water with my "cohorts" Sam and Lyndon. Feeling relaxed and getting a little buzz whenever a messenger knocks and enters. He tells me my appearance is requested post-haste at the Big House.
I'm let in and ushered through the family room where a quiet and gloom of the assembled gives me an immediate case of butterflies.
He gives me a hug and tells me, "The president is dead." I barely can catch my breath -- it feels like a whole wagon of hay has landed on me.
The words finally come, "Eleanor, what can I do for you?"
No Harry, what can we do for you? You're the one in trouble now.
PS. As a tiny tot I was listening to Tom Mix when the program stopped for the announcement that President Roosevelt had died at Warm Springs. My grandmother (my favorite relative) had just come in the apartment and I blurted out the news. She came over and slapped me and told me, "Never say such a terrible thing again."
GREAT WORK, JODY!
Has anyone else noticed how great the Mendocino County Fairgrounds in Boonville is looking these days? It’s reminiscent of the days when Bill West was in charge of Maintenance. When I asked what or who was responsible for this long-awaited turnaround, I was informed that the person responsible was the new temporary maintenance worker, Jody Johnson. I would like to congratulate Jody for her great work in giving the Fairgrounds a much needed makeover.
I suppose it’s too much to ask that we might have Jody in charge full time, but we can always hope.
Once again, Jody, Great work. You’ve made us proud of our Fairgrounds again.
Sincerely & Gratefully yours,
REPORT FROM (WET) MYANMAR
I’m sitting in bad light, balancing my laptop on my damp longi, listening to the monsoon sweeping away the town which it will continue to do for the next few months. After four days in Sittwe this is the strongest impression. So, you say it’s raining. No, I mean really, really raining, RAINING, sweeping, pouring, pounding, cats and dogs, cows and pigs, buckets, big buckets, swamps, shipwrecks of rain. How can you fit that much water into the air and not be underwater?
Welcome to monsoon season in Sittwe, Myanmar. It thunders on the rusty tin roofs like a train coming right at you. The sound of water roiling, rushing, raving, spilling, tumbling — never stops. The drainage canal outside our house overflows several times a day, flooding the heap of garbage on its way to the street which soon becomes a river. Day or night for months, it doesn’t stop; it is constant and relentless. The driest anything gets is damp. I’ve only been here four days, my clothes are beginning to mold, I’m getting the picture. There is no way to stay dry, not maybe, not even, no way.
Wonderful to see and touch (but not in public) Yvonne again, and yes, she’s damp too. She and I share a house with three other women all working for the NGO whose regional office Yvonne heads.
Did I mention relentless? That is the workload she carries, and from what I’ve seen and heard most of the other NGOs are in the same situation. After I learn more I will write about the work, but trust me: it’s complicated. And, as my new friend and old hand in Myanmar, Francine says, “Nothing is as it seems.”
Apparently Yvonne and I are “married.” My name is Robert, and I’m jobless. Very few locals speak English, and Myanmar(ese) or the local Rakhine dialect has proven rather daunting. It’s a partly tonal language that has sounds my mouth doesn’t know how to make. We walk, er, correction, we wade to the market armed with umbrellas. The road is busy with people walking-wading, trishaws (funky bicycles with front and back facing sidecars), motor taxis (kind of a bigger tuk-tuk), motorbikes that constantly die in the water and get pushed to higher ground, three-wheeler tractors snorting along, the occasional cow or car, some ancient dumptrucks and lorries, rusted out, wired together and never seeming to run on all cylinders, lots of stray dogs… The jostling crowd juggling umbrellas guarantees that very little of you will be dry by the time we reach the market.
Doesn’t matter, you are going to get wet, some people don’t bother with the umbrella. It’s warm, embrace it baby!
Stay wet and wild,
Cap’n Rainbow & Yvonne
PS Mike, How can I get Outlook on this computer?
Hey Yous Guys,
I think Manning is a hero. Let's start a movement to cover his jail time. I'll do six months.
CENSORSHIP BEYOND WALGREENS
Letter to the Editor:
While your criticism of Walgreens for refusing to carry the "bomber" issue of the Rolling Stones Magazine is accurate and justified, it doesn't even scratch the surface of how insidious the problem is. In fact, one cannot buy a copy of that issue of the magazine ANYWHERE in the entire city of San Francisco! City Lights doesn't carry it, Green Apple doesn't carry it — it has been banned from distribution throughout SF. From now on, bookstores and magazine distribution centers should obtain a rubber stamp that reads “Approved by Homeland Security” before allowing a gullible public access to “unpatriotic” literature. I expect that there will be broad bipartisan support for such censorship from the charlatans who inhabit Congress.
DANGEROUS, DIRTY BUSINESS
Please tell me why a state such as California would even contemplate more fracking of the Earth’s crust? We already have a shortage of fresh water. It takes millions of gallons of fresh water loaded with toxic chemicals pumped into the drill site to release the natural gas. It is linked to multiple chronic illnesses and highly polluted air, land and water. Fracking is also linked to an increase in earthquakes, although the industry denies this.
Really, we want more earthquakes in California?
San Benito County, situated between very productive farmlands and the Monterrey Bay, is on the list for the fracking industry. Are we crazy? Do we really want to destroy that area? As a state known for its beauty, why would we promote this dirty, highly destructive business just to line a few fat-cat wallets? Governor Jerry Brown, please place a moratorium on this business. There is no upside.