Letters (Nov 25, 2015)

by AVA News Service, November 25, 2015

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Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Richard Henderson issued a ruling on October 21 setting aside the County's approval of a vested right to mine Harris Quarry sought by Northern Aggregates. The court found that the County did not have enough evidence before it to grant Northern Aggregates a "vested right" and ruled on behalf of Keep the Code, a nonprofit community group based in Willits which had filed a lawsuit against the County.

If Northern Aggregates had secured a "vested right" for the Harris Quarry they would have been: exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), requirements which were signed into law in 1970 by Governor Reagan to protect the environment and the public; able to operate without a county use permit thereby circumventing extraction limits; able to ignore the environmental protections identified in the environmental impact report for their project; and able to significantly reduce oversight of their operations by the county and state agencies.

In order to prove any "vested right," Northern Aggregates needed to show that the Harris Quarry was mined commercially between 1936 and 1976. The Church of the Golden Rule, former owners of the Quarry, stated that they did not operate a commercial quarry during this time period. The Court observed that "the historical pattern does not indicate the existence of any commercial quarrying and aggregate activities occurring at the Harris Quarry from 1936-1976," and, "the record is absolutely devoid of any evidence that the church operated the quarry as a commercial venture or expended any money in connection with quarrying activities and/or rock crushing and screening."

In particular, the court focused on the fact that the aerial photos presented to the court did not show an expansion of the quarry's footprint for decades.

Despite the lack of supporting evidence, the County, with a 5-0 vote by the Supervisors, granted vested rights to Northern Aggregates. If the County Counsel had provided a fair, impartial and lawful recommendation, this court case, a big waste of taxpayer time and money, would not have occurred. We urge the County to not waste more money on an indisputable appeal.

Because the judge ruled in favor of Keep the Code, Northern Aggregates will now have to abide by all of the environmental laws that exist today. Should the County's efforts to fast-track the proposed asphalt plant at Harris Quarry have succeeded, they would have likely given us the same disaster scenario currently being played out with the Grist Creek asphalt plant, the Eel River, and the surrounding Cherry Creek neighborhood. This community can ill afford two asphalt plant disasters.

The Board of Supervisors has repeatedly demonstrated a serious lack of concern for the health of the public at large when it champions business interests by ignoring Mendocino County policies, protocols and long-term environmental guidelines in order to support making a quick buck.

Keep the Code urges the Board to return to its long adopted policies such as the precautionary principle, designed to enhance and protect the quality of life for all citizens in this County.

Sheila Jenkins, For Keep the Code


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Dear Editor,

I am out of paper and down to my last envelope. I sit here waiting to come home. I wasn't even sure I would receive any more AVAs after I wrote on October 27. But, thank you for sending me the Advertiser on my birthday. But I had also received word from the Attorney General and the Court of Appeal ordering my release on that day. So why am I still in prison?

As of November 5th my case was returned to Mendocino County Superior Court for issuance of an amended abstract of judgment and transmittal of that amended abstract to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. I don't get it. The same court that messed up my case gets another chance to mess it up again.

This sucks because Mendocino County has the worst Court Clerk's office in the state. Did you know that yes, our clerk's office takes five to seven weeks after someone's court date to do their paperwork? All other counties take one to three weeks tops. It took me five weeks to get to prison after my sentencing.

Then I see in the Advertiser that Judge David Nelson is retiring. Wait, that's my judge. No wonder my paperwork is not getting done. What about Linda Thompson's office? First, after I took a three-year maximum term, Linda Thompson's office got me four years and four months and totally overlooked the three-year deal. So my case was overturned. My appeals attorney spoke to Linda Thompson on November 12. Linda Thompson assured him that she was doing whatever she can to have the Superior Court promptly issue the amended extract reflecting my new sentence. She said she understands that time is very important in my case. The court of appeals has granted an issuance of remitter in my case, meaning it should be handled right away because I am past my release date. But my paperwork could be done in the time it took Christopher Ruhl, Court Executive Officer, to write to the Advertiser about Judge Nelson's retirement, and Linda Thompson can't seem to get five minutes of work done in 18 days.

I assure Linda Thompson that I do believe that this was the best you can do and I am to blame for thinking you could get a simple abstract of judgment faxed to the Records Department under the three-week time allotment. I mean, you are the attorney who turned my three year sentence into four years and four months in the first place. All my hope is lost when it comes to Linda Thompson's office. So I will be home whenever the Clerk of Courts in Judge David Nelson's office and Linda Thompson do their jobs.

God help me.

James Gator Lawson


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Dear Editor,

Thank you to all of you who came to either to The Philo Grange or the Elk Community Center this past weekend, to join us for the Dutch film (and film maker) “The Growing Garden” and the slideshow/talk about the Syrian refugee crisis. This was a fundraiser. Thanks to each of you who contributed. This money will go straight to food, water, medical supplies, diapers, and now hypothermia blankets, as the refugees are continuing to cross the 7 km strait between Turkey and Lesbos, Greece in perilous waters.

An excerpt from a poem called “Home” by Somali-British writer Warren Shere says it all:

No one leaves home

Unless home is the mouth of a shark.

You only run for the border

When you see the whole city Running as well. 

You have to understand

That no one puts

their children on a boat

Unless the water is safer

Than the land.

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Thank you to those who have contributed. Thank you to all of the people who are volunteering their time on this Greek Island of Lesbos; meeting those children and their families, as they come in the boats, with food, blankets, and such kindness (At this time 7,000 people are landing every day). If you would still like to donate (any amount is good) go to website: timothyjaysmith.com

and there are a few options of ways to donate.

Or, send a check to me: Kira Brennan PO box 104 Elk, Ca. 95432

Call or email for info: kibrenn@yahoo.com phone:877-3479.

This Money goes directly to volunteer organizer and accountant Tim Smith, and will be used specifically for food, water, etc. as the refugees come in.

Kira Brennan


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So-called "conservatives" in the West are demanding that "Syria be bombed back into the Stone Age." But most of the Mideast is already in the Stone Age.

Instead, I propose a United Nations-sponsored "Marshall Plan" for Mideastern countries, similar to the one conceived by US Gen. George Marshall to help Europe including West Germany recover from the devastation of WW II AND to counteract the communism of the USSR.

The wealthy nations, especially the USA, Russia and Saudi Arabia, should contribute the most money and resources especially since they are the ones profiting most from the misfortune of the people of the Mideast. They are also the ones manipulating the testosterone-fueled young Muslims determined to win the Olympics of death and destruction. (Hey, what else have these youths to look forward to beside martyrdom?)

We all know war has ALWAYS been good business for a fortunate few. But isn't it about time to give peace a chance on Wall Street and other centers of global finance? The alternative is to watch the proliferation of billionaires in the world while the rest of us live in fear. And worry, my friends, is a PRAYER for something we DON'T want.

Tom Cahill

Malay, France (formerly of Fort Bragg)

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Dear Editor:

The new Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, has taken action to ban hundreds of tankers carrying diluted bitumen extracted from oil sands in Alberta which would be sent by the proposed Enbridge oil pipeline to a liquefied natural gas (LNG) ship terminal. The terminal would be located on the north coast of British Columbia and referred to as the Northern Gateway project. The project is strongly supported by the British Columbia government and was also supported by former Prime Minister Harper.

I would offer some comments from my letter of May 29th to the AVA on some of the background. The plan was for the LNG terminal to be on the land of the Lax-kw'alaams First Nation located near Prince Rupert. This community is centered around salmon which they fish for every year and they are fearful of environmental damage to the salmon. They never have signed any treaties and therefore have to be consulted and accommodated when projects cross their land. So far they have refused the offers submitted to them.

The ban was a moratorium to block the project from continuing and makes official a non-binding motion the House of Commons passed in 2010.

It should be noted former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau over 40 years ago worked to pass an original ban involving the coastal waters north of Vancouver Island. The project was approved in 2014 upon review by the National Energy Board, contingent upon 209 conditions. This approval is being contested in the courts by First Nations and environmental groups. It is very difficult to forecast if the moratorium can be sustained, but it appeara as long as Justin Trudeau continues as Prime Minister the environment will be the winner.

In peace and love,

Jim Updegraff


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Letter To The Editor

If you were here during the summer of 2008 you probably remember the Mendocino Lightning Complex Fires. Late in the afternoon of June 20 (summer solstice) dry thunderstorms struck, and during the following four weeks more than 125 wildfires burned throughout Mendocino County. By the time it was over nearly 55,000 Mendocino County acres had burned. Thousands of firefighters were engaged in the effort: forty seven injured, one dead (Robert Roland, an Anderson Valley volunteer).

Mendocino County's largest private landowner, the Mendocino Redwood Company (MRC), owns ten percent of the county. Given this fact, one would expect about ten percent of that burned acreage to belong to MRC. Instead, MRC hosted an astounding 42% (23,196 acres) of those fires, and more than a quarter of their burned acreage (6,000+ acres) were in Hack & Squirt zones. That means more than 10% of the total Mendocino Lightning Complex Fires took place in MRC poisoned forests.

Even though MRC owns a lot of Mendocino County (219,997 acres) they have only one habitable structure on all that land, so MRC ends up paying the same State Responsibility Area (SRA) Fire Prevention Fee as the rest of us single-structure homeowners. When first assessed in 2012, that fee was $115.

Calfire reports the cost of fighting the Mendocino Lightning Complex Fires at $48.5 million. Since 42% of that event took place on MRC property, their fair share of that cost would be a little over $20 million. At the rate of $115 per year, it will take MRC (and the multi-billionaire Fisher Family of San Francisco, who own the company) more than 175,000 years to pay us back. The SRA fee structure obviously needs some serious rethinking.

Meanwhile, the proposed initiative "Shall the People of Mendocino County Declare Intentionally Killed and Left Standing Trees a Public Nuisance" can help address this inequity. It says: trees "intentionally killed and left standing...are a public nuisance and the party responsible shall be liable for any resulting damage." If such an ordinance had been in place in 2008, it could have helped recover some of those costs.

Mike Kalantarian


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When the US invaded Iraq in 2003, we destroyed much of the country, destabilized the region, and an estimated 150,000 of its citizens have been killed. If a super power would invade the US, there would be push-back. ISIS is the major push-back from our invasion of Iraq. The ensuing chaos has resulted in millions of refugees. Our actions caused this exodus but apparently we are not willing to step up and help these people. Instead, the mostly GOP is saying, in effect, "our bad" and these refugees are some other countries' problem. We seem to want to embrace the policies of the early 1940s when we sent all the Japanese Americans to internment camps. The United States of America is obligated to accept our share of these refugees since we caused this unfortunate situation in the first place.

Dick Rydelius


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Letter to the Editor


Re: James Kunstler Stoned By Dopes! (mental clusterfucks and verbal batshit)

To Tom Quinn and Rhonda Frederick:

First of all, calling James Kunstler a "neocon" pretty much negates your six paragraphs. And furthermore, batshit and clusterfuck need no critique for anyone not trying to hang the messenger.

Obviously a good writer using slang doesn't lower that writer’s craft any more than an illiterate using common language elevates their speech. In what way are batshit or clusterfuck vulgar I wonder?

JHK's reference to HBO had nothing to do with blacks opting out of society. He was actually talking about how pop culture uses black English in an atmosphere of violence and criminality. Just an observable fact.

How does stating obvious facts about language use in a racially diverse society become "fatuous racial stereotyping"? JHK's article can fit any race you want, also obvious. Because he was focusing on black culture there's a problem? Most likely his concern is motivated by a virtue called empathy.

Such distinctions get lost when the GRAND LIBERALS begin their emotional posturing as poor me victims or self righteous saviors. Insecurity is a killer of truth, knowledge, and wisdom.

You clearly suffer from a vast lack of knowledge about where JHK is coming from if you think he doesn't understand the underlying reasons for people opting out. Reasons that anyone can see affect all too many regardless of color.

How sad when a wise person who's pointing out ways to improve our dysfunctional society is attacked in some second hand cowardly way for daring to breach these difficult topics. The real crux of the attack is clearly JHK's having the nerve to even bring these troubled waters up for discussion. The issues he addresses will be talked about and hopefully the frightened, offended, and reactionary noise makers will be able to calm down enough to learn something new. Wishful thinking, no doubt.

This attack reminds me of paranoid Jews calling Noam Chomsky anti-Semitic for correctly pointing out that Israel and the US are to blame for no peace in the Middle East conflict. Inconvenient truths that trouble fundamentalist Zionist types. Even a much needed peace can be unthinkable when the reasons for its absence are too demanding to even bring up in polite company.

And Tom, in your third paragraph you say that JHK says "blacks depart from accepted standard English usage in more formal settings such as school and work more than any other ethnic group." And that he offers no evidence for this contention. After going over his article many times I see that not only did he offer no evidence, he didn't even make or imply the "contention" you construed. You might want to read it again after you calm down enough to see better.

I bet you and Ms. Frederick want to know what color my skin is. Also my income bracket and what degrees I hold, if any. None of which has much to do with much of anything except to feed small minded divisiveness. I'll have to leave you in suspense with your little red book for comfort.

Good luck with your petty war against JHK who is actually someone who should be honored for all that he does in trying civilize and humanize this sick and vulgar society.

Best of luck,

Marvin Blake


PS. Notice that the scared little keepers of the hallowed ivory towers of knowledge will prove out his importance in discussing these important issues by not having the integrity to engage him face to face for a clearing of the air, their pet hysterias being far too coveted to humor…

PPS. And where would we be if he had said: the great problem facing white Americans is that they aren't taught proper English?

PPPS. Remember when Frank Zappa was attacked by Tipper Gore and the ax wielding rightwing Christian nut cases for the sin of using his art form to bring up with humor the issues of race, religion, war, sex, and human stupidity? I personally esteem James Kunstler in the same way I do Mr. Zappa for their uncompromising mental faculties when it comes to seeing and expressing what's going on in the world around them, with the balm of humor no less for those who aren't too far gone to laugh at themselves and the human condition.

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Job well done on the reporting of the county employee pension fund mess. Hopefully someone’s read it. You want John Dickerson to come up with solutions? I think JD is still in the "we need people to know we have a problem" phase. Unless there is a general recognition of the problem, there is no point in pursuing a solution. Solutions are also problematic, because from the view point of county and city governments with this problem, which is most, the solution is to wait for either bankruptcy or a central government bailout. These governments are lemmings, jointly running to the cliff, afraid to take the short term risk of separating from the group by dealing with their problem on their own, unless they are forced to.So what to do? First do what can be done. What can be done is to change the laws that facilitated this problem happening in the first place. Trying to change the laws after a crisis, is not likely going to have a good result. Also, what can be done, is to prevent making the situation unnecessarily worse. Making matters worse is what the pension board has been doing.A good question to ask in January is, what is the pension cost on the county right now? How much is pension bond interest? What percent of our discretionary budget goes to pay for pension interest, and what will it be in the future? What is the county doing to deal with this? If people knew the impact right now, it might help achieve JD's first goal, people need to recognize the problem.Thanks again for doing the work, talking to people who know (there are not very many), and making some intelligent conclusions.

George Hollister


2 Responses to Letters (Nov 25, 2015)

  1. Tom Quinn Reply

    November 26, 2015 at 1:06 pm

    Brief response to Marvin Blake. Here are two excerpts from Kunstler’s screed that go right to the issue that he states he couldn’t locate after several readings of it. That some folks don’t see the patronizing-and false-racist stereotype embodied therein goes to how smug and tone deaf too many, mostly well meaning, middle class people are, folks who really have little experience with American black culture beyond what have picked up in the mainstream media.

    “Now to the touchier question as to why this is. After all, other ethnic groups in America are eager to fully participate in the national life.”


    “Much of black America doesn’t want to play along with the speech, manners, rules, or laws of whatever remains of that common culture after its systematic disassembly by the professors, the deans, and their handmaidens in progressive politics — heedless of the damage to the basic social contract.”

  2. izzy Reply

    November 27, 2015 at 8:09 am

    As above, so below?

    A well-rounded lineup of local dysfunction chronicled this Thanksgiving week. We have all five Supes and the County Counsel failing in their due diligence on the Harris Quarry vested right issue; another hair-raising example of incompetence by the notorious Linda Thompson; more about MRC’s hack & squirt dead tree program, along with the ridiculously unequal assessment of Fire Prevention Fees and the associated cost of actually fighting these fires; and the ongoing and likely worsening problem with the county pension fund, a sinking ship that literally and figuratively seems to always be just out of sight.

    Did I miss anything?

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