Letters to the Editor

by Letters to the Editor, April 22, 2010

POGOISM AGAIN?

Dear Bruce,

In the past few issues you have printed three of my letters, all of which have expressed a very pessimistic view of the future of both America and the world. I feel strongly that all of us must stop living in hope and prepare for what is coming, and it’s not going to be pretty.

In India there are 1.7 billion people, 17% of man­kind, living on only 2.4% of earth’s land. In the world, the UN calculates, 36 million people die of hunger and malnutrition every year. That’s one person every sec­ond, mostly children and women.

The real issue is population, and it is not being dis­cussed as a make-or-break issue, if it is discussed at all in a political manner. Every minute 157 people are added to the world’s population, every day 227,000 are added who need water, food, and fuel. Of those 157 only 4 are in developed nations (27 are born and 23 die); 154 of them are in developing nations (237 born, 83 die).

The UN predicts that the in 2050 the world will have 9.1 billion people, up from the present 6.7 billion. But, if women have just half a child more, on average in 2045, then it will be 10.5 billion in 2050. If they have half a child less, on average in 2045, it will be 8 billion in 2050.

There is some good news in all of this. Globally fer­tility in 1950 was 4.92 kids per woman; today it is 2.56 per woman. That’s amazing, but the good news is cancelled by the high rate of consumption, which is also something few people are talking about or willing to do anything about. (Since 2005 in 18 or the 24 most highly developed nations women, on average, are having morechildren not fewer). The developing nations want to get in the game of high consumption, they do not want to continue to be left out of the game. They are as bought into, as much if not more than we are, the worship of growth in GNP, which means more consumption. The developed world sees the problem as being too much fertility in the devel­oping nations; the developing nations see the problem as the overconsumption in the developed world. What a paradox.

1983 was the last year that the world population was at the level at which the planet could support it. Since then world population has exploded and global resources have decreased even further. To halt popu­lation growth we need to lower global fertility rates to about 2 kids per person.

Since 1983 we have been using up the land and natu­ral resources on our planet faster than they can be replenished. While it’s true that the Green Revolu­tion has enabled us to feed billions more people with advanced agricultural methods and seeds and prod­ucts, it is not a panacea. The Green Revolution uses chemical fertilizers which are not unlimited in amount; nor are the natural resources it takes to pro­duce them. The Green Revolution has polluted our land, water, and air in a disastrous manner. The soil is over-saturated with nitrogen, and in some places crop yields are actually going down. What is also happening is that the earth is running out of topsoil due to mechanized agriculture, runoff and erosion. We are eroding the topsoil 10 times faster than it can be replenished. It gets worse when one realizes that the fertile prairies in our own Midwest, in Northern China, and in northern Europe are already plowed to capacity and shrinking. Worldwide; crop yields are predicted to decline 20% in the next 80 years.

When you add in global warming, which is happen­ing, irrespective of the argument about what is causing it, it gets worse. Above 86 degrees Fahrenheit photosynthesis declines, so then crop yields do too.

The carbon footprint tells a sad tale. The average American woman with two kids has a carbon foot­print that equals that of 136 Bangladeshi moms and their 337 kids. An average American child born today will add six times more CO2 than that child’s mother will add. Even if the American mother gets a fuel effi­cient car, recycles, uses “green” appliances and light­bulbs, good windows, and so on, the carbon legacy of her one American child will be 20 times greater than the mother’s. At current rates an American child has a carbon legacy 55 times that of a child born in India. The population of the U.S. is projected to grow by 86 million by 2050. This means that if we maintain our current consumption rates the American carbon leg­acy of those 86 million additional Americans will be equal to the carbon legacy of 4.7 billion Indians.

So, given all of that, what is to be done? Educate the women, since 2/3 of the world’s illiterate people are female. Where they are, the illiterate people, is where there is the most civil war, foreign wars, caste systems, and unreasoning religious fanaticism. Edu­cated women have children later in their lives and have fewer children. This produces population control that is peaceful, voluntary, and efficient.

Of course we want people everywhere to live bet­ter, to have more wealth due to economic and social development. But that’s the paradox. The best way to end population growth is to end poverty. But the fast­est way to run out of resources is to increase wealth and thereby increase consumption. How do we move from family planning to civilization planning?

There are a number of ways in which the popula­tion problem can be solved. Nature can do it for us, via famines, disease epidemics, and lack of fresh, potable water. Or, religions can stop urging people to have large families by not using effective birth control for whom “God will provide”. Or, totalitarian popula­tion control laws can be implemented and draconi­cally enforced. Or, war, genocidal or atomic, can reduce global population. Or, the world’s people can wake up and smell the coming disaster and change their beliefs about family and community and educate women and men to use effective birth control meth­ods and family planning. Or, people in the developed world can drastically curtail their consumption and people in the developing world can stop wanting a better standard of living.

One or more of those are going to happen, one way or the other. On which are you going to place your bet?

Lee Simon

Far ‘n Away Farm, Virginia

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CART ETIQUETTE

Editor,

I just returned home from Walmart. I was parked just to the left of a cart return area. To my immediate right was a shopping cart, probably ten steps from the return area. Since there was no handicapped parking around there, I can only assume that the inconsider­ate person who left it there was fully able to traverse the necessary ten steps to return it.

I do not understand why people feel it their right to take up a parking space with a cart. One day I even returned to my car to find one left behind it. It is so rare to see people actually return carts that I make it a point to thank anyone I see doing it. I once almost said something to a lady who was walking away from a cart. She had a guilty look on her face, but her hus­band looked like he might beat me up. So I didn’t. Maybe if more people said something it would stop. Not likely.

Karen Seydel

Ukiah

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HEALTHCARE DENIED

To whom it may concern:

When does the milking of the taxpayers stop? Even though there’s a budget deficit and California's economy is in meltdown they are simply warehousing prisoner in all these prison facilities. After sitting in reception for four months in Wasco State prison warehousing I was transferred to this California Training Facility in South Soledad. I am classified as a student with an 11th grade level. But since California is supposed to be moving towards an economic recov­ery they are supposed to be releasing non-violent low-risk inmates to save billions a year. Instead they have closed down vocational and educational classes and training. They have fired teachers and instructors and pastors and priests. Now we inmates are milking the taxpayers for all they have left until the election sea­son. We have no training or educational classes to learn from, only a television and an empty yard.

As populations continue to rise in California state prisons, healthcare has also deteriorated. Over­crowded is an understatement. It's literally standing room only. Inmates have no chance to receive ade­quate medical attention at Soledad or any other Department of Corrections institution.

Doctors are overwhelmed with prisoners on a daily basis. Even though the feds are overseeing the medical department in the Department of Corrections, the Department of Corrections continues to pile on the prisoners, making it impossible to receive primary care. By the time you write a grievance and get any response you are forced to live with the medical issue whether it be pain or discomfort.

Constitutional rights are being violated on a daily basis. Weeks and months pass by before any remedies after a grievance is submitted. It's like they are pun­ishing prisoners who merely exercise their rights to submit a complaint. Is there any agency that can help? Most agencies require that all remedies be exhausted before they step in. But these remedies take from 3-6 months. The Department of Corrections knows this — that's why they are able to continue to violate the rights of prisoners who fall into the category of patients with “non-life-threatening conditions.”

But non-life-threatening conditions can turn into life-threatening conditions if left untreated for months at a time and sometimes cause long-term effects.

The feds need to step in as soon as possible. All prisoners whose constitutional rights have been vio­lated should be compensated. This prisoner abuse must stop.

I recently noticed a friend of mine had a very large lump on his hand due to a brown recluse spider bite. I asked him, “What happened?” He told me he filled out an emergency medical request form and informed medical staff of the type of spider and the location.

No one responded to even look at it until 19 days had passed. I asked him if they were going to treat it and he said, “Yes, they did.” They had given him a couple of Band-Aids and a small packet of ointment. This morning I saw him again. They had to amputate three of his fingers because the poison from the spider bite had caused such severe damage over such a pro­longed period of time. If they had responded sooner he would not have lost his fingers.

A recent law came out of the California court sys­tem called “the Plata case” which entitled inmates in the Department of Corrections to fair and prompt medical attention as well as other treatments. But for the most part, the staff are still negligent and when they are confronted with that particular case law they say “due to budget cutbacks we are short of staff!”

They claim any reason to blame the budget so that their own salaries can be protected. A lot could have been done to save my friend’s fingers, but when I see the attitudes of the medical staff and the way they treat inmates in a nonprofessional matter, it is obvi­ous they are unloading their aggressions and animosi­ties on the inmates needing medical attention.

Jose Fort

Ghost Town Soledead

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POT & PUNISHMENT

Editor,

As California toys with the idea of legalizing Mari­juana as a recreational drug, Nevada continues to treat smokers as dangerous felons, subject to harsh penal­ties and imprisonment. Special drug squads raid the homes of citizens harmlessly puffing a joint before dinner for simple possession of over an ounce of the devil weed, handcuffing any and all adults and sending kids off to foster care. Often they also charge the house itself with possession and confiscate the mis­creant’s home. The sheriff gets credit for another drug bust without having to risk life and limb against the violent amphetamine users who pose a real threat to the community.

Nevada law enforcement spokesmen often claim that the state does not lock up simple possession cases but that is a bookkeeper trick to avoid the basic question of justice.

Coerced by the District Attorney to plead to the least charge or face enhancing charges of sales and the cost of a trial, defendants are offered several appar­ently appealing options for supervised probation that can be ended within a year if various conditions are successfully completed. Thus the DA adds to his list of victories in the greater “war on drugs,” and the divi­sion of Parole and Probation gets yet another client to be managed.

Once on probation and registered as a felon, the probationer finds that his rights are forfeit, including the right to vote, bear arms and drink alcohol, none of which are even remotely involved with his crime. Random searches of his home for drugs, beer, sharp knives or drug paraphernalia are a regular event, along with a dollar a day supervision fee to the state. In addition the pot felon cannot drive due to the residual traces of THC in his system for weeks after smoking. Forbidden to drive on pain of immediate jailing for probation violation he is then required to find verifi­able employment.

Medical marijuana, as permitted by the Nevada Department of Agriculture offers no defense, due to the “one ounce law,” passed by an angry legislature following the referendum vote to provide medicinal pot. Even if you grow the prescribed seven plants allowed, possession of over an ounce will get you arrested.

At this writing a 69 year old woman with no crimi­nal past other than having let her medical marijuana permit expire is being held in isolation in Carson City after her probation officer violated her for simply applying to get her permit renewed at the recommen­dation of her primary doctor and her court ordered counselor. She suffers from the after effects of four spinal surgeries 20 years past and Osteo-Arthritis, for which she has had multiple pain prescriptions for over two decades. She is on Oxygen therapy and seldom leaves her home due to her near invalid condition. But she is a threat to the community according to her jail­ers, and must be punished for her crimes.

The Nevada laws on Marijuana are cruel and unusual punishment for a minor social offense. There is a campaign to change the laws, but the Legislature, busy trying to make the state finances add up to something besides bankruptcy, are unlikely to do any­thing meaningful in reform of drug law during their short session next year, so this injustice continues, at great cost and suffering.

Meanwhile,, next door in the golden state, they are preparing for a party, and Nevadans are not invited.

Travis T. Hipp

Sparks, Nevada

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YOUTH & TAXES

Editor:

Let me start with this: nobody want to lose their job or take any kind of cut in their income. We’re all greedy. But we in the private world have no choice. This last year of recession has essentially hit everyone in the private sector in California and our Valley and with the huge government debts everywhere it looks like a long time experience.

I have been here in business since World War II and to my knowledge this is the first time no one has logged in our area. In other words, anyone associated with timber is really hurting.

We have many businesses that have closed all over our Valley and those that are surviving have all taken a beating. Even our grape economy which has been the main source of our economic well being is facing financial problems.

Prudent business people should always upkeep the infrastructure and put aside money every year for when there are additions needed no matter what they receive in revenue. They should also be held account­able for any failures.

But I’m not in government, including education. I can remember when we first started in business. The sales tax was 2% which meant if a hammer cost $2, 4¢ would be added. If that same hammer is now worth $10, the sales tax at 2% would add 20¢ but instead it’s at 8.25%. That’s 82.5¢. As I can recall the rise was always 1/4% and many were temporary that is tempo­rarily permanent. All the other taxes have gone up at the same despicable rate.

When the war with Iraq was starting a group of school faculty led a group of students to protest against the war. It was just the faculty. I would have joined them as I was just as much against the war. But when they indoctrinate children, it’s pretty low as kids are easily swayed. It’s like priests taking advantage of children or like Hitler’s youth organizations turning in their parents because their parents were against killing Jews. It does happen in other places. hen they become adults and can think for themselves, then protest.

Since employee compensation is almost always 70% to 90% of this school district’s costs, I want to see in this paper or have it shown to me a simple total of the total amount the district gets and the compen­sation paid to top personnel and the average pay to others. And the benefits. The taxpayers have a right to know since you are asking them to pay more taxes.

Emil Rossi

Boonville

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SCHOOL BONDS

Dear Editor,

I’d like to explain why I am strongly in favor of Measure A, the AVUSD school bond on the upcom­ing ballot, June 8. I have a varied background in edu­cation from Contra Costa County: parent volunteer, school board member, regional business-education program director, education foundation founder, and career/college advisor at a large continuation high school. Locally, I’ve been volunteering in Elizabeth Wyant’s first grade classroom since November and have met several local educators.

My husband, Ric, and I have owned our property in Boonville for over ten years, and we’ve been full-time residents since June 2009. We have found the beauty of Anderson Valley to be all we expected, but the warm welcome we’ve received from everyone we’ve met and the extraordinary can-do attitude of the community have been big surprises. We love our new home.

This is my take on the proposed bond, and it’s why I have volunteered to serve on the committee to pass the bond:

The Anderson Valley schools are first rate. I’ve described the district as a “diamond” to many of my Bay Area friends. Compared to schools I worked with in the past I have found morale to be very high, ingenuity and creativity to be encouraged, and friend­liness to ‘outsiders’ to be heartwarming. I am amazed at the rate of successful college attendance by AVHS grads and by the number and amount of scholarships that encourage these students.

The facilities are in dire need of repair. Infrastruc­ture such as plumbing, heating and roofing are literally falling apart. Electrical systems are antiquated and dangerously overtaxed.

School bonds are the best means California school districts have to improve their local schools. Yes, it’s ludicrous that local voters have to tax themselves to in order to provide that which state taxes should pro­vide, but you know what? That’s what we have come to. More than 30 years ago, just prior to the passage of Prop 13, the state took over local fiscal control of schools ‘in order to make funding more equitable.’ Since that time California schools have gone from the best in the nation to one of the worst states in nearly every measure available. Funding cuts have been required frequently over the years, and guess what was cut first? Not teachers, not supplies, not programs — maintenance! That’s why schools all over the state have gone into disrepair.

No one likes taxes, but property taxes are equita­ble. Public schools are everyone’s business. I believe they are the backbone of our country. The reality is that good schools mean high property values; every­one wins.

The proposed bond won’t cost individuals an arm and a leg. The tax rate, $60 per $100,000 assessed value, is just over .5%. Ric and I have a new home on a large parcel, and we’ll have to pay about $275 per year for 30 years so that local children have safe schools with up-to-date amenities. I think that’s a bargain. Long time residents can expect to pay much less; check out your tax bills to figure out your cost. Truly, I can’t think of a better investment for our community. And we know exactly where the money will go. In my opinion the school district has done a very thorough job using architects, structural engineers, financial planners and others to decide what’s necessary to bring the facili­ties up to date. On top of that many of the improve­ments will save operating costs over the long term–solar energy, improved insulation and such.

I have seen first-hand what the passage of school bonds can do to a community. In Martinez, where we lived for 35 years, the passage of two school bonds, one for the high school and, later, another for all other school sites, literally changed the image of the town. Before the schools were fixed the town was known as “that refinery town where the students are roughnecks.” Afterwards visitors couldn’t believe that a small town in the Bay Area could create such out­standing facilities, and the image of the students changed as well. Our daughters were junior high/high school students at the time, so we heard all about it! The voters overwhelmingly — by 75% approval each time — voted to tax themselves for the benefit of the school, the students, and the community.

Suck it up! Yes, taxes hurt. Yes, the economy couldn’t be worse, BUT: be glad you aren’t a teacher, a school staff member, or a student in this economy and in this state! They work incredibly hard under terrible physical and mandated conditions in today’s world of public education. Be proud that Anderson Valley has dynamic, creative people who do the best they can for the children who appear in their classrooms. And yes, even the administrators work their butts off. If you don’t believe me, go see for yourself. Go stand in their shoes for a day. You’ll be welcome.

Please vote YES on Measure A.

Alice Bonner

Boonville

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FORTUNE COOKIE BALANCE

Editor,

I was shocked to read in your paper the politically-motivated rants against my neighbor, Wendy Roberts, who is running a strong race to serve as our Fifth Dis­trict Supervisor. Apart from the clear factual errors, some of these statements reflect a deliberate distor­tion of Wendy’s character, values, and principles as I have come to know them through our work together on the Mendocino Historical Review Board (MHRB).

Wendy is committed to both environmental and historic preservation. What distinguishes her from more radical members of our community is her sense of fairness and balance, and her recognition that without a healthy economy our rural lifestyles may become unsustainable.

Wendy doesn’t just talk about “balance,” she exem­plifies it as a certified nature educator and Mas­ter Gardener who also holds a Masters Degree in Business Administration. She doesn’t just say that she will listen to everyone, she embraces opportunities to do so, whether the topic is sustainable local food pro­duction, privatization of county waste management services, branding of Emerald Triangle Cannabis, or the egregious absence of mental health services and lack of support for our rural health clinics. If we want a supervisor who will truly hear and represent the interests of our district’s diverse constituents, it is hard to imagine a more qualified and committed can­didate than Wendy Roberts.

Wendy’s positions on land use decisions also stem from her sense of balance. Wendy understands that while property ownership is one foundation of our legal and economic system, the rights that attend property ownership are not absolute. The community may and should prohibit uses of property that unrea­sonably interfere with community or public rights.

The California Coastal Commission, the Local Coastal Plan, and the Mendocino Town Plan impose unusually comprehensive limitations on an owner's right to control the use of his or her property. Owners of coastal property must attend to the restrictions imposed on land use, in some cases, through appeal to the Coastal Commission. Community rights and pri­vate property rights co-exist in the coastal zone. They are almost always in tension, sometimes in conflict. The critical task is to find balance between the two, respecting both principles.

Some of those who serve on our local and county boards, and some members of the public, seem on occasion to wholly ignore private property rights, focusing exclusively on presumed community rights. Wendy is one of the few who has had the courage to take the position that we should limit our control over what owners do based on the grounds set out in the state certified planning documents but that our interpretation of these documents should be limited by appreciation for owners' fundamental right to decide the use their property, excepting only signifi­cant environmental detriment to our coastal resources.

The Mendocino coast has been well protected by the Coastal Commission. Huge expanses are now pre­served as open space and agricultural preserves. This is as it should be. Preserving the coast and the off shore environment, protecting the whales, and preventing off shore drilling are all matters of on-going impor­tance. But, with the steady hemorrhaging of jobs and the loss of federal and state revenue, the sustainability of our rural lifestyles is at risk today.

To address this risk, Wendy is campaigning on the need for balance between enhancing our community’s economy and protecting the environment. She is committed to hearing diverse viewpoints on how this may be achieved. Rather than asking why she is talk­ing with business people, we should be urging others to do likewise. It is going to take all of us — govern­ment, businesses, and concerned citizens — to bal­ance these principles, and balance we must in the interests of environmental preservation, economic sustainability, responsible governance, and civic har­mony.

I urge the voters of our district not to be misled by the distorted characterizations that have appeared about Wendy in this paper. If we continue to elect individuals who practice this low form of politics, we can expect to remain divided, broke, jobless, and in debt.

This time, we have a clear choice. Let’s take it.

Michael St. John

MHRB Chair, 2009-2010

Mendocino

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SAVE THE LAST DANCE

Editor:

In 1999 I was 59 and looking for something to do on a Saturday night when I ran across a listing in the Ukiah Daily Journal for an “Over 40s Dance” at the Ukiah Senior Center. I went only to discover that I was (along with one or two other people) by far the youngest participant. I love to dance and I had so much fun that I became a regular.

Now, at 69, I am still among the youngest of the dancers. The crowd has dwindled and I would guess that this venue’s time is marked.

It would be a shame to see this institution disap­pear and I am writing to encourage younger folks who like to dance (I know you’re out there) to come to Bartlett Hall on Saturday nights for a good time. The fee is nominal, the music is live and the bands are ver­satile, playing tunes from the 40s through at least the 80s. Swing, rock, country, ballroom, salsa… you name it. You can find it being played and danced here.

By younger I mean under 65, under 50, under 40, and so on. These dances are listed every week in the Ukiah Daily Journal and I hope I have inspired all you dancers (I know you’re out there) to come and have fun on a Saturday night.

Oh yeah, also there are pot luck refreshments and coffee provided. Bring a friend, bring a treat (or not) and come dancing.

These days I only go when I can combine reasons for a trip to Ukiah. I cannot justify the time and cost of coming all the way from Fort Bragg. But who knows? Maybe I’ll see you there.

Peter Sears

Fort Bragg

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BAD BEDFELLOWS

Dear Editor:

On Tax Day there was quite a bit of activity around the State Capitol. A bunch of Tea Party folks having a rally, a small number of Coffee Party folks having a counter demonstration and the Veterans for Peace with their demonstration calling for a reduction in military spending. All that was missing was Sarah Palin, my favorite airhead, spewing her inanities to the cheering yahoos. I must confess, I have come to the conclusion there is no air in her brain cavity, just a total vacuum.

The Tea Party, although it is more of a rabble than a party, seems to be a mixture of racists, bellicose government haters, gun crazies, paranoids, and various types of looney-tunes. The Republicans will be mak­ing a big mistake if they get in bed with this rabble. They sure are not representative of mainstream America.

In peace,

James Updegraff

Sacramento

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TAKE THIS, HUGH!

Open Letter to ““Hugh Everett III”:

This is a response to your letter in the AVA (4/14-10) under the fictitious name regarding Dan Ham­burg, candidate for Fifth District Supervisor.

Oh my, I am not surprised that you were not forth­coming enough to sign your real name because you either have absolutely no idea what you are talk­ing about or you are simply in the habit of spreading untruths — or both! Whichever scenario it is, you are a fool.

I remember my dad working very hard through the weekend coming home to see to the needs of your home and family. I remember “chore day” on Sundays that instilled in me a respect for taking care of, and appreciating the things I have. In those days, it wasn’t much.

I often wore hand-me-downs. The car my parents drove proudly (a ’65 Ford Falcon wagon) was, to me, so old and ugly that I made them drop me off down the street from school! My parents saw to it that we sat down each night for a family dinner, but we often ate leftovers — soup became chili became spaghetti.

Mr. Everett, please search for the facts if you are clueless. The truth is available. And please search your heart if you are just a liar because the things you are saying reveal more about your character than my father’s.

Liz Hamburg

Fifth District

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LOCAL MENTAL HEALTH

Letter to the Editor:

“One in four adults experiences a diagnosable men­tal disorder in any given year, including our returning troops. One out of every five community hospital stays involves a primary or secondary diagno­sis of mental illness.” (NAMI.org) Our jail is part psy­chiatric ward. “We have no money for mental health services” is about all anyone in our local government says. The Jail has a $14 million dollar budget and the County has a choice about how to use the millions of dollars of Realignment Money from the State. This Realignment Money could be spent in a wiser way. When someone becomes a “danger to self or others,” it costs around $1,000 for a medical clearance from a local hospital, and $5,000 for a 72 hour stay at an out-of-county hospital. Wouldn’t it be wiser to help someone in early stage crisis and save many thousands of dollars a year? A voluntary visit, perhaps one or two nights at a local Crisis Hostel with access to medical treatment (a Doctor or Nurse Practitioner already working that day, or a Telemedicine Doctor could prescribe or adjust medicine), a Peer Counselor could provide support to the person, and a Family Advocate could provide support to the family. Most expensive hospitalizations could be avoided with early interven­tion support.

What is it about this that they don’t understand? Will the CEO and BOS ever take the initiative and do what’s cost effective and right?

Sonya Nesch

Sonya Nesch, author of

‘Advocating for Someone with a Mental Illness’

White Trillium Press PO Box 309 Comptche, CA 95427

ms notes: A version of this we’ve long advocated is the Mental Health Crisis Van which was mentioned in the County’s Proposition 63 planning at first a few years ago, but soon dropped after the “helping pro­fessionals” tried to subcontract it out, but got no bid­ders. Pathetic.

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HARD-HITTING PREVENTION

Editor,

The Mendocino County Fire Safe Council is gear­ing up for our third annual “Wildfire Preparedness Expo,” an almost all-day event which I know many residents of Anderson Valley will want to attend. It will happen Saturday, May 1st, 10 to 4pm.

After having the event the last two years in Ukiah, we’ve wised up, and this year it will be in Boonville at the Fairgrounds!

The content of the Expo will not be typical fire pre­vention stuff. It will be harder-hitting, more prac­tical info for people living on or off the grid in remote locations, plus the results of recent research which, if heeded, would make a huge difference in how wild­fires are treated and fought. I’m especially happy that we’ll be talking about getting back to the controlled burns that used to happen often and need to happen again, for the sake of our environment which needs frequent, low-intensity fires to thrive.

Please contact me or Chief Colin Wilson (895-2020) if you have any questions.

Thanks!

Julie Rogers

Executive Director, Fire Safe Council

firesafe@pacific.net, (707) 462-3662

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A SAD CENTENNIAL

Editor,

Samuel Langhorne Clemens dearly loved his wife and three daughters. A daughter died, then the wife, and with another daughter married and on the way to Europe, he was left with his youngest. Jean Clemens was a fireball of a girl and she loved her father and ran the ranch. Her sudden death from an epileptic fit while alone in her bath finally broke the old man's heart.

Clemens intended his tearful diary of these three days of life to be the final chapter in The Autobiogra­phy of Mark Twain. Chapter 79 could be a short film, black and white, seeing him wandering around his home over Christmas, looking in empty decorated rooms or out the windows to the fields or penning his thoughts at his desk; and color as he remembers happy times, but always returning to the bleak winter, her pale corpse waiting for the undertaker, the sunset in the tree line, the thunder and lightning and blowing snow, her dog pacing loyal and fretful by her coffin, “He knows!” Clemens words are the script. “Miss Jean is dead! Possibly I know now what the soldier feels when a bullet crashes through his heart.”

Jean Clemens died on December 24, 1909. Stricken and bereft, her father followed on April 21, 1910, one hundred years ago today.

Jay Williamson

Santa Rosa

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BUSTING BELKAMP

Dear Editor,

You can always count on Howard Belkamp to do what he does best: “busting” people for their “bull­shit,” to use his own words. It is “What's your name?” (AVA, 4/7/10) is no exception. Here he singles out for his derision for jackanapes and fools who have taken on “new identities with made-up names” in the after­math of the “60s phenomenon.” The weird characters he describes, their ridiculous new names, his wry commentary — what's not to laugh at?

He mentions a guy named “Path” he knew on the Big Island. I know the same guy (real name Robert), and the last time I saw him was just about the same time another guy I know named Jeff Costello was taking on a new identity with a made-up name, namely “Howard Belkamp”! Now that's to laugh that!

Viva la, comédie humaine

Bill Brundage

Kurtistown, Hawaii

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THE DAY OF THE ‘EDUCATOR’

Dear Editor,

Up for 'discussion with action' on the April 15th agenda for the Point Arena School Board Meeting was the following: Approval of the Declaration of Need for Fully Qualified Educators for 2009-2010. Evi­dently, we have educators who are teaching at the school who have been unable to pass the Cross-cul­tural, Language, and Academic Development Test in order to 'fully' qualify them to teach (which they have been doing for the entire year) the last 2-1/2 months of the school year without a declaration to do so.

The Board, on the same night, went to an item on the agenda to declare May 13th as “Day of the Educa­tor” (notice it did not say educators). Now I ask you this, since our elementary school is in Program Improvement and our high school has not met state goals for the two years, is this something an ‘Educator’ or anyone else for that matter should be celebrating or even giving recognition to? This is as much of an oxymoron statement as it was to give Iacuaniello (superintendent of Point Arena) the award for schoolmaster/superintendent of the year from Men­docino County!

Don’t get me wrong, I believe we do have some true educators in Point Arena and I would love to celebrate their particular achievements. However, to group them into a day of recognition with those edu­cators unable to pass a test but able to continue to teach on an “emergency basis” and the other educa­tors who fall short of educating our children, it's just plain ridiculous. Again, I ask you where could a person go to get such entertainment? Unfortunately, it is at the expense of our children. Someone really needs to do a reality show on the education within the small towns of California! It would be a hit.

Respectfully,

Susan Rush

Manchester

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ME & YOU & DAN

Editor,

I’m voting for Dan Hamburg for fifth district Supervisor of Mendocino County.

It’s a pleasure to endorse a candidate that I have personally worked with on major issues.

We worked together on measure G, an attempt to bring sanity to the marijuana situation in Mendocino County. Measure G was the seed of the current statewide effort toward legalization. Dan would, I expect, continue the spirit of G.

We worked together on Measure H, trying to keep genetically modified stuff out of local foods. Dan wants to promote local food production now, accom­plishing that same end.

We like the Ukiah Natural Foods approach to foods, too. We’ve both served on their Board.

We were together in a major lawsuit (which we won) that opposed Wal-Mart’s attempt to limit free speech at their Ukiah store. That suit created a precedent that applies statewide.

We worked together to promote the values of the Green Party of Mendocino County.

Dan and I seemed to agree in thought and deed on so many major issues in the past, it’s an easy decision for me to vote for Dan — his basic values have never changed.

You may consider doing the same.

Bruce Hering, aka Bruce Bread

Boonville

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MTA’S $20 MILLION BARN

Editor,

I was blown away the other day by a letter to the editor about MTA's grandiose architectural plans for their Plant Road facility. Have those in charge of this almost totally public-subsidy-funded enterprise lost all touch with reality?!

While I am not as dismissive as Tommy Wayne Kramer was in his recent article about the usefulness of this transit agency, tasked as it is with in the near-impossible job of providing usable transportation options in such a far-flung and widely distributed population as we have here in Mendocino County, the thought of dipping into three quarters of million bucks, the bulk of its vehicle replacement budget, to hire some brilliant Santa Rosa architectural firm to daydream about a $20 million Versailles on Plant Road (scenically nestled between the garbage transfer station and the sewage treatment plant) strikes me as one of the most egregiously foolish expenditures of public funds that I have ever heard of!

Does someone have a good friend at that architec­tural firm? Does Ukiah Valley not possess the archi­tectural design genius required to build some office space for a marginal public agency and a vehicle main­tenance shed? Couldn't just about any competent con­tractor in Mendocino County come up with an idea or two worthy of consideration? I'll bet that if the pro­ject were put out to a competition, we would see a number of fine conceptual plans submitted for free by local outfits hoping to get the job.

As far as the idea of a half acre of solar panels for some notional utility in all-electric buses, that seems pretty far-fetched. Barring some incredible break­through in battery technology, all-electric vehicles, I think most tech-literate people agree, are useful only for fairly short range commuting. While hybrid buses may have lots of promise, the hard work of hauling people around our mountainous county will, for the foreseeable future, always involve fuel consumption of one kind or another.

Wouldn't it make a hell of a lot more sense for MTA to acquire a transit hub property, such as the rotting hulk of Fiords, where they could interface with Greyhound etc.? Oh, I remember, they already tried that, and their effort at eminent domain attach­ment (probably the most reasonable example of that type of action I had ever heard of) was turned back by a foolish court, socking them with ruinous legal fees for the owners of that blot on Ukiah's face to the world; still rotting away a decade later, it is still the sight one is greeted with when one takes the main off ramp into our homely little burg.

Is there any way to rescind this spectacularly fool­ish squandering of public funds?! or at least fire who­ever made such a foolish decision?

Sincerely,

John Arteaga

Ukiah

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BLACK’S WAY BEHIND

Editor,

(I sent the message below to the Ukiah Daily Jour­nal but thought that your publication might also be interested.)

I am a County worker who has been directly affected by the actions of Mr. Deshield and Ms. Black in the County’s Transportation Department. I highly recommend that you read and investigate the com­ments related to the “Board of Supervisors: 25 County layoffs to come to the board” article on your website. Because of the retaliation that would occur from the Transportation Director and Deputy Director-Admin, I am unable and unwilling at this time to reveal my identity. The comment regarding Ms. Black's office is 100% true as you can see from the attached picture.

About the only thing that is different currently is that one of her in-boxes is now relatively empty due to her assigning an extra help person to go through it for her. That alone is a huge waste of taxpayer's money. Ms. Black is incompetent in her current posi­tion and due to her lack of abilities, she takes it out on her staff. The only thing that any of her staff knows for sure that she does is approve accounts pay­able invoices, payroll, cash receipts, and take these same items down to the admin center over on Low Gap.

If you're not aware, the Transportation Depart­ment is located on Lake Mendocino Drive. Again, why are we paying her close to $80,000 per year to run errands? The reception desk falls under her reign and has been a revolving door since Andrea left two years ago. The staff that followed her, Julie, Barbara, Angie, and Gayle all were gone without passing proba­tion, with the exception of Angie, who transferred to the DA's office.

The current receptionist may last only because she meets the requirements of sucking up to Ms. Black and spying on other employees. Ms. Black is so far behind in her work that there are items in her in-box from 2006-2007, the same time as she took over the position. Ms. Black is the epitome of government waste and abuse but is allowed to continue her blatant abuse of county resources, money, and power. Her reputation is well known throughout any county department that has had the unfortunate experience of having to deal with her and her power hungry, “I'm right, you're wrong” attitude. The Grand Jury should be made aware, if they aren't already, of the abuse and waste that goes on in that department. Mr. Dashiell is extremely proud to spout off his rule of “it's always easier to ask for forgiveness later than permission first” to the entire DOT staff. What kind of an exam­ple of leadership is that? My understanding is that the BOS doesn't give a damn about what happens in DOT as long as the roads in their districts look good. What a sorry state of affairs that staff that work so hard to do their jobs and do them damn well, are beaten down by management regularly. It's no wonder that morale is at an all time low, not that management, Ms. Black especially, can see that or would ever admit it. She has spent the past three years blaming her staff for all the problems in her department but staff has changed and I believe it is time for Ms. Black to look in the mirror to see where the problem truly lies.

Name Withheld

Ukiah

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CRAIG’S LIST FOR CRAIG

Editor,

Frankly, I feel as though I am dealing with the Twi­light Zone in regard to receiving housing coopera­tion in order to participate in the WB/IMF days of dissent April 23-25 in Washington D.C. Seriously, if you want to understand the difference from A16 2000 and now, it's simple: at A16 there was full cooperation on the Left so that the assemblage could be large in size. In present time, I have received nothing in the way of cooperation, if I show up from Oakland, CA. If I fly in, where do I go after arriving at the airport? I've posted several messages on the DC Indy Media Center, plus requested housing from everyone I know in the District, including St. Stephens church, and also answered ridiculous accusations from the DC IMC censor that I am a cop/federal agent, and criti­cism from some jackass who is spreading a rumor that I “take more than I give” when I am in DC (a thor­oughly insane criticism, in lieu of my four times since 1991 doing service work at Olive Branch House/Zacchaeus Kitchen unpaid, of-course). I am wondering if the Self Described Anarchist Collective is going to have a functional housing board before April 23rd. Lastly, Red Emma's anarchist infoshop in Baltimore suggested that I contact craigslist. Is there anything else that anybody needs to know in terms of why A16 2000 is lookin' real good at the moment in retrospect? Heck, I'm willing to stay on in the district and participate beyond the spring WB/IMF meetings. Does anybody on the east coast care? Email me at craigstehr@hushmail.com

Craig Stehr

Berkeley

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HIPPIE REPUBS FOR POT

Greetings,

The honest Republicans of Fort Bragg are once again bringing the Worldwide Marijuana March to Fort Bragg. This is the fifth time that local Republi­cans have been the primary activists involved in bringing the Worldwide Marijuana March to Fort Bragg. (Some hippie guy who isn't a Republican (yet) is organizing the Ukiah event.)

In Fort Bragg we are rallying on May 7 at Town Hall, Main and Laurel streets, noon to four-ish. In Ukiah we are rallying on May 8 at the courthouse on State Street, noon to three or four-ish, and then marching to a local park.

Bring drum circle rhythm instruments, signs and placards. Dress up, dress down or come as you are. Remember to carpool. We are doing this to support big oil!

Bruce Davis, Honest Republicans

Fort Bragg

TEXANS FOR TALIBAN

Dear Editor:

So the Tex-ass textbook police have discarded Thomas Jefferson in favor of Newt Gingrich. His textbook is straight from the Taliban textbook.

Ronald Del Raine

Florence, Colorado

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ON THE BUS

Editor,

We don't find the MTA irrelevant at all. It costs us nearly $10 to drive to Ukiah and back in our truck to get large supplies. Olivia takes the bus on many a Saturday, and saves us time and money. Plus, for the past two summers, a whole group of AV teens took the MTA home every day after summer camp at SPACE in Ukiah. We all had to car pool to get them there in the morning, as the bus couldn't get them there early enough. I was really grateful we didn't have to do another drive in the afternoon!

I wonder why the heck they need a new headquar­ters building? Now does seem a rather inappropriate time for such a thing.

Nancy MacLeod

Philo

PS. We really enjoy reading the interviews with our local residents! (And thanks again for the fabulous articles on Richard Blum's nefarious activities and the UC system.)

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AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION

Dear AVA Readers,

Would you like to know more about how to pro­tect your home from wildfire? Like to hear, and see, why homes ignite and burn? The Mendocino County Fire Safe Council is holding their annual Wildfire Preparedness Expo right here in Boonville Saturday May 1st at the Fairgrounds.

There will be presentation from several Mendo­cino County Home Owners Groups that have started local Fire Safe Councils on their subdivisions. These groups addressed several aspects of wildfire prepared­ness ranging from putting up road signs and addresses to developing community water supplies and hydrant systems for fire protection.

Dr. Steve Quarles from the UC Berkley Fire Lab will put on a live fire demonstration of how various decking and siding materials burn when exposed to fire.

CAL FIRE will be there to provide information on the requirements for developing and maintain defen­sible space around homes and other building.

The event starts at 10AM with indoor lectures. After lunch there will be several outdoor presenta­tions on various subjects and several vendors will be there to with tools and equipment you may be inter­ested in.

There is no charge for the Expo and lunch will be provided for a small donation.

Colin Wilson, Mendocino County Fire Safe Council

Vice President & AV Fire Chief

Boonville

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