Letters (Feb. 1, 2017)
by AVA News Service, February 1, 2017
While I was watching the inauguration of television personality Donald Trump today, for some reason I was reminded of a day in my past. I was about three or four years old.
This day sticks in my memory because my mom was working across the street at a polling place in someone's garage. This was 1950s Southern California suburbia.
Bored and cold, I wandered back home to find my dad had returned from work and was eating dinner by himself (which had never happened before). Not only that, to my simultaneous shock and horror he appeared to be eating a giant insect at the family table! It was bright red with big eyes and feelers and those giant wicked looking claws. It was of course a lobster. But I had never seen one.
When I asked what that thing was, he told me and said this was what wealthy people often ate and insisted I try it. I vociferously objected. This did not go well.
At any rate, at some point I overcame my fear and loathing of the display before me and asked my father who he was for in the race (President Eisenhower versus Adlai Stevenson).
My dad, a man of few words, said, "Ahh, they're all a bunch of plutocrats." End of story. Or is it?
BRING BACK THE INMATE CREW
To the Editor:
In the January 4 AVA there was a short letter published commenting on the sorry condition and kill policy of the Ukiah Animal Shelter. Following the letter was an Ed Note asking, "What ever happened to the inmate crews who used to help out?"
As an inmate worker at Mendocino County's most popular bed and breakfast, I'm happy to shed some light on what occurred.
I need to let you know that I'm in the men's jail and the shelter crew was staffed by the women's jail, so this story is second-hand. But it is true to the best of my knowledge.
Apparently, the ambitions of one of the inmates combined with a lack of oversight by the shelter's management led to a situation where said inmate’s boyfriend was traveling to the shelter for conjugal visits. When these animal lover transgressions were exposed, the entire program was shut down.
I've made numerous inquiries to the jail staff and inmate services resulting in absolutely no indication that the program will be reinstated. I also have not received replies to the letters I have written to Sheriff Tom Allman and the shelter management. (I wonder if anyone but the AVA even opens mail from random inmates?) I think it sucks that such a needed and mutually beneficial program should remain spoiled because of one bad apple.
I can't speak for the women's jail, but on the men's side there are less than 25 total positions available on the various work crews for the 48 inmates eligible to fill them. We currently have at least two inmates with shelter experience and several others who have expressed an interest in learning. The shelter needs the help and we need the jobs.
I understand that the shelter has recently hired head honcho Richard Molinari who boasts an impressive 20+ years of law enforcement experience. There's no doubt that he should be better equipped than his predecessor to responsibly utilize the inmate workforce.
Hopefully there are some readers out there in the free world who are willing to contact the powers that be in an effort to bring the inmate work crews back to the Ukiah Animal Shelter.
Shannon Barden A# 23422
951 Low Gap Road, Ukiah, CA 95482
WHERE DO I SIGN?
To the Editor:
I want to bring to your attention to a small matter that probably has a large impact on Mendocino’s lack of representation in state government.
I, like many rural residents, do not have a polling location, instead we have ‘vote by mail’ system. While I was filling out my vote ballot, and checking all the instructions to see that I had done everything properly, I kept seeing “sign your envelope”, — yet despite many searches, could not find the place to sign! Without the signature, my votes are automatically trashed. Finally I found it —and I realized that this was the first election that my efforts and votes would be counted.
Please, please, please: Bring this printing matter to the attention of the state or whomever it is tasked with overseeing how the ballot mailer is formatted. Either a note on the envelope flap saying “Signature location is under here” or some other obvious instruction is needed.
I am sure Mendocino and other rural counties in California are not represented due to the fact that the signature location is hidden. I am totally get why it is located in a concealed place —but please tell us in the instructions —where that place is.
THE TRANSITION TO TOTALITARIANISM
To the Editor
Capitalism maintains a very tenuous relationship with the classical principles of democracy. By its nature and structure, it is a zero-sum game, producing by design winners and losers. Unchecked, as it has been in the United States since the mid 1970s, it reaches a stage in which the ratio of losers to winners is no longer tenable. At this critical stage, the State must either reform and reorganize in order to rein in its unstable inequities, as we saw happen here in the 1930s with FDR's New Deal, or it must revert to totalitarian rule, as witnessed in certain European locales about the same time.
As we have now entered that critical stage again, and have seemed to tip to the right this time, it may be a good time to discuss how a totalitarian state operates and what constitutes its needs.
The totalitarian state values and rewards blind loyalty, but because it essentially represents the few controlling the many, it absolutely at a minimum requires acquiescence. Those who withhold acquiescence must be branded traitors and enemies of the State, thereby subject to State retaliation. In its extreme forms, this retaliation can manifest in corporal means, such as imprisonment, beatings, or even executions. These extremes, however tend to be as likely to incite stronger resistance as they are to quench it.
Much more efficient and effective are a State's attacks on the material well-being of those who refuse. When threatened by its enemies, the totalitarian State can and will freeze and then seize private assets. History tells us that, in fear of losing what we already have, in fear of losing our ability to provide for the basic needs of our children, most of us will fall into line and accept things as they are. Most of us will cling to what we have and hold on to our material security, at the expense of our humanity if necessary.
We have, of course, a boundless capacity for rationalization, so we won't frame it that way in our own minds. Later we will say that it was a matter of survival, that we did what we had to, that there was never a choice.
But that's not true. It may be a hard choice, but it remains a choice that each of us must make, first as individuals, then ultimately with mutual support and in solidarity.
Coal Creek Canyon, Colorado
SENTENCE REDUCTIONS AHEAD
Prop 57 passed. I am really happy to see that the people in California recognize that the prison system is broken and have voted to take the first step at fixing it.
I really don't know how much it will affect me, I am sure Al Kubanis did his very best in my defense. (Right, Al?)
But my dad and uncle have a lawyer who seems to believe he can get me back in court and since 136.1 is no longer a strike, it will take my second strike away and 36 to life on this case away. Oh yes, and my first strike happened before November of 1994 so that strike is also in question. The 68-year enhancement will go away. Should I give away my television? CD player? My Air Max Nikes?
Absolutely not, because I got some really bad news before Christmas on December 7. They did a sonogram on my liver. I've got stage for cirrhosis and there are some spots on my liver. They are worried it is cancer and they are doing a test on it, taking samples, vials of my blood. They are monitoring me like a lab monkey.
My mom died of the same thing at 41. I'll be 47 in March. Life can be confusing at times. But I guess it's how you look at it, right?
I can hear the cheers and the round of applause as I put the pen to paper. I've still got a couple good years left and I stay hopeful that I will see an old friend or two. I don't have much to say to them, but it will be nice to see them.
Walter ‘Kris’ Miller