Letters (May 10, 2017)
by AVA News Service, May 10, 2017
After consulting with my family and medical professionals, I have decided to resign my seat on the Anderson Valley Unified School District Governing Board effective at the end of the last regular Board meeting for the 2016-2017 school year (currently scheduled for June 29, 2017). On Monday, I will notify our district and our county’s Superintendent of Schools of my effective resignation date. Education Code 5093 dictates that a special election consolidated with this year’s general election will ultimately fill my vacated seat.
I encourage community members interested in service on the Governing Board to contact Board President Richard Browning (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Superintendent Michelle Hutchins (email@example.com).
I’m truly sorry. I tried, but I won’t do this anymore.
AV Unified School District Board
COMMUNITY POSTER PROJECT
The Anderson Valley Progressive Action Committee’s Community Poster Project is off to an exciting start. After the running of the Boontling Classic last Sunday, families gathered at the Elementary School for the Day of the Child, and about 30 children created posters on the themes of neighborly love and support. The project is now open to artists of all ages. We encourage everyone to consider illustrating one of the following phrases:
We Are One Community / Somos una comunidad
We Build Bridges, not Walls / Construimos puentes, no paredes
We Are All Immigrants / Todos somos immigrantes
We love our neighbors, no matter from where they come
Amamos a nuestros vecinos, sin importer de donde son
There is no CommUNITY without UNITY
No hay ComUNIDAD sin UNIDAD
Or a phrase of your choice.
Preprinted poster paper is available at the Mosswood Market, and at the Chamber of Commerce kiosk next to Boontberry. Student deadline is June 2. Adult deadline is June 23. Posters will be displayed at Lauren’s beginning June 5. Completed posters may be returned to the C of C kiosk or to the Mosswood; or to Steve Wood’s office behind All That Good Stuff.
Further information: 895-2500
ANDERSON VALLEY GRANGE'S MENU OF CHOICES
The good people of the Anderson Valley Grange (AVG) are about to vote on whether to stay Guild or go Grange.
If that line seems confusing, it is accurate nonetheless, and explains why the choice is such a struggle. But perhaps there is a third option.
I was invited to a meeting at AVG this past Sunday to explain my personal views as a Guild member. To summarize: I believe the Grange has wandered into a terrible error by (1) giving too much authority to its chief executive, and (2) by assuming final claim in its By-laws to local properties of Granges such as AVG. Thus, a National or State Grange President may now revoke a Grange charter and take its property.
These twin, terrible powers are being wielded. In 2012, National Grange revoked the charter of California State Grange, then filed suit in California Superior Court to seize it’s real property and other assets. Since 2016, a newly chartered California State Grange has sent revocation letters to over a half dozen local chapters, demanding they relinquish their properties. One of the most recent victims of this abuse is the chapter in Ft. Bragg.
Anderson Valley Grange has two protections against this anti-democratic, authoritarian assault on rights.
First, AVG remains in relationship to the revoked California State Grange, now named California Guild, which claims several dozen chapters throughout the state that are working to protect their common interests.
Second, AVG has its own corporate identity under California law, established in 1954. Under that law, AVG's property is secure.
The corporate ownership of a Grange property was tested in 1980 in the state of Virginia. In Virginia State Grange, Inc. et al vs. Great Falls Grange No. 738, Inc., a Fairfax County judge found that the local “shareholders” retained ownership. Ultimately the Fairfax County Park Authority purchased the Grange hall and its acreage and reopened it for community use. A Grange chapter still meets there. If AVG members are concerned for the longterm community use their hall, they should keep this model in mind.
However, a corporate identity only shields when the corporate officers follow their own By-laws. At the end of last Sunday’s plenary session I learned that the good-hearted leadership of Anderson Valley Grange have undertaken a voting process that is illegal under their By-laws, and therefore under corporate law.
Article X of AVG’s By-laws reads:
All propositions for amending or repealing these By-laws, or any part of them, shall be presented in writing at a regular meeting, and shall lie over until the next regular meeting, when they may be adopted by a two-thirds vote of all members present.
To count as a real game-changer, this vote must meet this two-meeting, members-only minimum criteria. Instead, AVG is conducting a mail-in vote that includes people who are not current members — and thus courting legal action by any number of interested parties. It would be far better for AVG to consider this effort a poll than a binding vote.
How frustrating! The call to the comfort and strength of fraternity is heard in the heart. No one joined the Grange to dispute democratic and property rights, or to act in lockstep with By-laws. Yet here we are.
On reflection, there is a third option for Anderson Valley Grange members where fraternal love and corporate law can live in equilibrium — not perfectly, but with the least amount of risk. It’s the option I rejected last Sunday, but I’ve changed my mind.
Sin boldly, by doing nothing. Wait and see — perhaps in a year or two the Grange vs. Guild lawsuits will have a decisive conclusion, and so will AVG.
In the meantime, let AVG members work out their vision for Anderson Valley. Build confidence in each other. Be the community you want to live in.
UKIAH’S POOR OVERWORKED & OVERPAID CITY MANAGER
To The Editor,
I cannot believe that the Ukiah City Council actually approved, unanimously no less, the City Manager’s request for a Deputy City Manager because the “current workload is too much for one person.”
Oh, give me a break! The Journal stated that City Manager Sage Sangiacomo’s salary with benefits is well over $200,000 and the new deputy’s salary will be $202,000 with benefits. These salaries put these two on the same level as the City Manager and Deputy City Manager of Santa Rosa. The Santa Rosa City Manager makes $225,612 with benefits and his deputy makes $204,340 with benefits. The big difference being that Santa Rosa has a population of 172,066 while Ukiah has a population of a whopping 16,075.
In my opinion, poor old Sage must really have a lousy work ethic if he can’t handle the workload here by himself. I would also like to say that I had high hopes that this City Council would be a vast improvement over the previous ones but I’m beginning to think that they are actually worse. They seem to care not a whit about how much citizens’ money they spend or what they spend it on. With this council in power I’m afraid that whatever the future holds for the Palace Hotel it’s going to be paid for by the taxpayers of Ukiah.
WHY ON EARTH…?
To the Editor:
It is shocking that the Board of the Redwood Empire Fairgrounds would approve the painting over of the historic Fine Arts Building murals. When these murals were originally painted in 1978, it was huge community event. When they were restored in 1995, it was, once again, a huge community event.
These murals were not inexpensive to create. The initial cost was more than $10,000. The final cost of restoration was more than $5,000. And these are 1978 and 1995 dollars.
For 39 years these murals have been an integral part of this community. And contrary to what the Fairgrounds says, it is not too late to save them. Even if painted over, the new paint can be easily removed using modern technology. The recent concrete patches can also be removed and proper repairs made. There is this thing called “art restoration”.
These murals deserve to be preserved. And the community needs to demand it. It was the community that came together and raised the money for the restoration in 1995. We absolutely can do it again.
I urge the Fairgrounds to stop any and all work that is happening on the murals, reach out the community, and allow us to once again save these pieces of our heritage. And please put in policies so this never happens again.
ED NOTE: Mr. French rightly complains that this mural is being painted over. Why? In an otherwise bleak collection of unadorned buildings at the Ukiah Fairgrounds, this mural and the others in the Fine Arts building are things of beauty. What possible reason can there be for destroying art in, of all places, the Fine Arts Building? The one reprinted here was rendered by the late Michael Miller, Ed Cassell, and Kathy Shearn circa 1974-75.
STOEN/FOREST CASE GOES TO SUPREME COURT
Knowing that you have followed various elements of the Robert Forest case, we though you would want to see the press release below, which links to the Accusation filed with the California Supreme Court. Please feel free to reach out directly to either indicated media contact. If you can’t reach them for any reason, contact me and I’ll chase them down for you.
Jonathan Bernstein, President
Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc.
* * *
Accusation Filed in California Supreme Court Against Mendocino County Deputy District Attorney Tim Stoen
Elk, CA —May 3, 2017 -- On April 7, 2017, Robert Forest, a private citizen and small business owner from Elk, CA, filed an Accusation in the California Supreme Court against Mendocino County Deputy District Attorney Tim Stoen. The Accusation alleges that DDA Tim Stoen engaged in unethical and illegal conduct in his handling of a criminal prosecution which occurred in 2006-2008. The allegations made against DDA Stoen in the Accusation range from the destruction of material evidence to the intimidation of a witness. While the Complaint that Mr. Forest initially filed with the California State Bar contained 11 allegations against DDA Stoen, the Accusation focuses on 6 of the 11 allegations including the following:
1. intentionally destroying and/or allowing evidence to be destroyed including the recordings of 911 calls that were made by percipient witnesses to law enforcement;
2. failing to disclose and/or concealing the existence of material evidence including the existence and identity of percipient witnesses and that the alleged “victim” suffered from a serious mental illness (schizophrenia);
3. intentionally overcharging the case as a felony in an effort to obtain an improper psychological advance over the defendant for the purpose of coercing a guilty plea to a misdemeanor;
4. putting improper pressure upon and/or intimidating a material witness;
5. abusing his subpoena power by subpoenaing an 11-year-old child to testify at trial against her father even though she had absolutely no knowledge of the incident that was the subject matter of the criminal prosecution; and,
6. refusing to follow the orders of his superiors in the District Attorney’s Office to reduce the criminal charges from a felony to a misdemeanor. The Accusation requests the California Supreme Court to impose discipline against Mr. Stoen including the revocation of his license to practice law in the State of California.
Frank Roberson, spokesperson for Robert Forest,
David Kindopp, atty for R. Forest,
Regarding “Shocker: Californians back tax-funded school vouchers” (SF Chron, April 23): I will support vouchers on two conditions.
Frist, the school taking the voucher whether it’s religious or not is legally required to accept the voucher as 100% of tuition. If a parent uses a voucher, the school is legally blocked from accepting any other money from the parent. I will not have my tax dollars paying 25% of the tuition at a private school while wealthy parents pay the other 75%. If a parent does not use a voucher, the school can charge whatever it wants. If a voucher is used, the school’s max compensation is the voucher amount.
Second, any school taking tax dollars in a voucher must be subject to the same regulations and requirements as public schools.
On this basis, I think the voucher system can work fine and prove that lazy union teachers or lack of funding coupled with the requirement to take all kinds is the reason public education lags.
BETTER TO MARRY THAN TO BURN
In England Catholic Bishops urged to review celibacy rules In a recent issue of the Guardian there was an article about the shortage of priests in England and Wales and that the celibacy requirement is contributing to a shortage of priests. It should noted that celibacy is a matter of church discipline rather than doctrine, and Catholic priests were often married up until the 12th century. Catholic bishops in England and Wales are being called on for a national commission on the ordination of married men. The Movement for Married Clergy (MMaC) is renewing its call for a national commission of bishops, clergy and laity to discuss ways of solving the shortage of priests. In 2016, 25 men entered training for the diocesan priesthood as compared to more than 150 in 1985 plus there is a very advancing age profile towards retirement of serving priests. Cardinal Nichols, leader of the church in England and Wales has said he sees no reason for a change. In 2016, it was announced than a third of the 62 Catholic churches in north Wales would close by 2020 because of a shortage of priests under the retirement age. In Greater Manchester more than 20 churches would close and about 100 parishes would merge. Pope Francis has suggested a new openness to the idea of married priests. The next synod in October 2018 will discuss the decline in vocations. Celibacy may be discussed. It should be noted a shortage of priests is not a problem in many parts of the world. As a sidebar, I would offer a few comments, Europe is becoming much more secular and that affects the number of persons who attend Sunday worship. An increase in priests will not bring these people back to the church. Also, the shortage of priests could well be resolved by the ordination of women. Women played an important role in the life of Jesus and the early Christian churches and certainly would be a long overdue positive action in our world of today.
In peace and love,
Krukow talks too much? He's a corpse compared to the bubbly babbler Miller! Jeez Louise man, are you deaf?
ED NOTE: Miller's witty, though.
I read with interest Nayvin Gordon's letter proposing hate speech laws in the United States in the February 22 edition.
He proposes that "hate speech" leads to violence, therefore we need to criminalize it as dangerous, likening it to shouting fire in a crowded theater. He cites some dubious neuroscience and leaps to some unwarranted conclusions based on this. I seem to recall "Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech."
First, we should note that the "fire in a crowded theater" concept comes from a US Supreme Court decision penned by Oliver Wendell Holmes in Schenck v. United States which upheld the conviction of Charles Schenk for distributing an anti-conscription pamphlet during World War I. This decision was nullified in 1969, so the "fire in a crowded theater" concept has had no legal validity for nearly 50 years. Also of note is that Holmes also said, "Three generations of imbeciles are enough" in his decision in Buck v. Bell, which authorized the compulsory sterilization of Carrie Buck, her mother, and her daughter. A further 70,000 people in the United States were sterilized against their will in subsequent decades until 1974. These compulsory sterilization laws were the model on which Adolf Hitler based his "Law for the Prevention Of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring," the basis for the Holocaust. In the Nuremberg trials after World War II Nazi doctors cited Buck v. Bell in their defense.
Be careful who you get in bed with.
I encourage Nayvin to learn something about the history and philosophy of freedom of speech and why this is so important to maintaining human freedom as well as combating hate speech. Without freedom of speech we will be unable to hear and examine bad ideas and unable to refute them. If Nayvin is concerned about the harm that "hate speech" might cause, I would encourage him to consider the harm that would come from restricting speech.
So let me ask Nayvin some questions and try to walk him through this:
“Kill the niggers!”
“Kill the Jews!”
“Kill the queers!”
Do you consider these to be examples of hate speech that should be criminalized? They certainly target minorities and openly incite violence against them. Should those who say such things be arrested and jailed? Yes or no, Nayvin?
How about these:
“Kill Whitey!” (chant at a Black Lives Matter protest)
“Kill all men!” (Popular slogan among feminists).
“What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want it? Now!" (Another popular BLM chant)
"I want to see a man beaten to a bloody pulp with a high-heel in his mouth, like an apple in the mouth of a pig." — Andrea Dworkin, feminist.
Again, each of these targets a specific minority and encourages violence against them. Should these be criminalized? Should those who say such things be arrested and jailed? Yes or no? Why?
Let's dial it back a notch:
"Black people are inferior. They have lower IQs and have a propensity to violence." (Racist beliefs.)
"Thoughtful white people know they are inferior to black people." — Malcolm X., 1963.
"To call a man an animal is to flatter him; he's a machine, a walking dildo." — Valerie Solanas, feminist.
"The Jews got a stranglehold on the Congress." — Lewis Farrakhan, black racist goofball.
"I feel that man-hating is an honorable and viable political act, that the oppressed have a right to class hatred against a class that is oppressing them." — Robin Morgan, Editor, Ms. magazine.
"I believe that women have a capacity for understanding and compassion which man structurally does not have, does not have it because he cannot have it. He's just incapable of it." — Barbara Jordan, former congresswoman.
Each of these targets a specific minority, calling them inferior or inciting hatred against them, yet none of them call for violence. Without the call for violence, should these also be criminalized? Should those who say such things be arrested and jailed? Yes or no? Why?
Okay, let's get uncomfortable here:
"And kill them (unbelievers) wherever you find them." -- Koran (2:191)
"They (unbelievers) should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned." -- Koran (5:33)
"I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them." -- Koran (8:12)
"So, when you meet those who disbelieve smite at their necks till when you have killed and wounded many of them, then bind a bond firmly (i.e., take them as captives)." -- Koran (47:3-4)
Again, each of these targets a specific group and encourages violence against them. These ideas have resulted in real violence throughout the world. The Pulse nightclub -- I rest my case. Should these be criminalized? Should those who say such things be arrested and jailed? Yes or no? Why?
Is the First Amendment protection of freedom of religion more important than freedom of speech? If we look at the numbers of deaths caused by Islam versus freedom of speech, Nayvin should be proposing shutting down mosques and banning the Koran. If "hate speech" trumps the First Amendment, can we ban Islam? Yes or no? Why?
I will be interested to hear how Nayvin deals with these. All are very simple examples and should pose no problems for Nayvin to explain to us which ones should or should not be criminalized and why.
I have no problem identifying all the quotes above as hateful and repellent. But would I criminalize them? Absolutely not! We need hate speech. How will we refute bad ideas if they are driven underground? I know it may be counterintuitive, but hate speech is essential to a free and egalitarian society. Allowing those with racist or sexist ideas to freely air them actually reduces hatred. The free exchange of ideas will ensure that good ideas will prevail.
Driving ideas underground gives them power. Bottling up such ideas can cause them to explode. "A riot is the language of the unheard." -- Martin Luther King. Accusing people of being racist or sexist, and wagging a finger at them will only increase polarization and hostility. When I speak with racista, feminists, Islamists, and others who expound ideologies of hatred I disagree with, I listen politely to them and actually find out what their ideas and concerns are. Then I can address their concerns, talk with them about factual inaccuracies, and perhaps they will listen to me in turn. A kind word turneth aside anger.
I've actually read quite a few racist writings, consequently I am familiar with their arguments and I can counter them with reasoned arguments of my own. I know very intelligent anti-racists who have been completely flummoxed by certain racist arguments because they have never been exposed to them. So they have no intellectual tools to refute them. One, after reading the Bell curve, worried that, "Gee, they make a pretty good case." (No they don't.) So they were snowed because they did not know the material. Will the racist books on my shelf which I use to understand their arguments and refute them become contraband? Yes or no? Why?
Nayvin mentioned the Ku Klux Klan. Where are they now? Good ideas won. The Klan has not had their freedom of speech limited, yet they are now just a tiny, irrelevant joke. We did not overcome the Klan by criminalizing their ideas or speech.
Nayvin mentions Canada, France, Germany, England and Australia as having enacted "hate speech" laws. These laws have been used in those countries to jail people who criticize government policies. And he forgot to mention China, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, Gaza, Turkey, Iran, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Singapore, and let's not forget ISIS. All of these have strong laws restricting what they consider harmful speech. Be careful what you wish for -- you might end up beheaded as in Saudi Arabia. If you get in bed with totalitarians, don't blame me if we don't respect you in the morning.
Nayvin believes that speech may lead to violence, therefore it can be restricted in order to prevent harm. So in order to prevent harm we can remove a fundamental human freedom? If this is so, would they then support mandatory weight loss for fat people? Obesity causes far more deaths in the US than "hate speech," and the costs to our medical system and in lost productivity are enormous. If taking away freedom is okay to prevent harm, then what argument do you have against arresting fat folks and putting them in "diet and exercise camps" until they reach a weight which you deem healthy? Yes or no?
The freedom to overeat is nowhere mentioned in the Constitution, unlike the freedom of speech. So why not create "fat camps"? It's for their own good!
Alcohol use causes tens of thousands of deaths each year and contributes to interpersonal violence. Should we prohibit alcohol? Oh wait. We tried that, didn't we? And Prohibition increased alcohol related deaths and created huge organized crime syndicates which still plague us today. Cannabis? All of the harmful effects associated with cannabis -- crime, robbery, killings at grow sites, environmental degradation around large-scale illegal grows, associated gang crime -- all are the results of criminalization. Consider the massive violence caused by the narcocartels in Latin America, all entirely caused by prohibition.
Nayvin assumes his own views are correct and that his opinion on what is "hate speech" is what will be enforced. He should consider the possibility that others’ views might be enforced against him in turn. Beware -- the tools you create to fight your enemies may then be used against you. The United Nations has proposed criminalizing speech advocating drug decriminalization. There have been called in this country to criminalize "global warming denial," just as Holocaust denial is illegal in much of Europe. In New Zealand, there are calls for outlawing criticism of feminism. After the alar (pesticide) in apples scare there were attempts to criminalize "defaming food products." Some want to ban anti-vaccine speech, anti-GMO speech. Would you trust Trump to determine what ideas would be criminalized?
Many persons consider any criticism of Islam, its treatment of gays, women, and religious minorities, or its record on human rights, to be expressions of "Islamophobia," and therefore hate speech. The OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperration, 57 countries) is working through the United Nations to criminalize speech that criticizes Islam. Under this proposal, which would override the U.S. Constitution, any criticism of Islam, including factual statements, would be criminalized. Do you want to go there, Nayvin?
Nayvin, by proposing that hate speech be silenced, has therefore legitimized the violence that was committed by the thugs who rioted in Berkeley earlier this year. The thugs smashed windows, set fires and beat up "Nazis." You, Nayvin, have therefore participated in that crime by legitimizing it.
So let us now consider the basic argument -- speech that incites violence is "hate speech." What is a law? It is the threat of force -- if you do such and such, you will be fined or jailed. If you resist, armed men will come to your house and take you away at gunpoint and lock you in a cage. Ultimately, all law rests on violence. Therefore, Nayvin's letter is in fact hate speech directed at me -- he is inciting state violence against me if I express an opinion he does not approve of.
Please think through your ideas, and consider unintended consequences.
Nayvin states, "Brain activity in the emotional center is also strongly correlated with a person's commitment to social status, for example, strong belief in racial superiority and economic inequalities." Brain activity in the emotional center is also strongly correlated with other positive emotions so why the unjustified leap to racism? Perhaps he should consider the same effect working on him. His sentence, "Those who are committed to racist ideas of social superiority can also feel threatened during times of social unrest," can easily be changed to, "those who are committed to the latest ideas of social and moral superiority can also feel threatened during times of social unrest and instability, again activating emotional arousal in their primitive brain." Does Nayvin really believe he is immune, that his own concern with social standing and moral superiority does not affect him?
Nayvin adds, "Hate, fear and anger are a primitive brain response which cloud the mind's ability to see how much more alike we are than different." Exactly, Nathan. Your fear of current political changes has clouded your abilities to see how much you are like the racists you fear. Yours is just a different brand of bigotry, intolerance and authoritarianism.
You are either for freedom or you are the enemy of freedom...
Schoolmarmish moral busybodies have plagued humanity for ages. We need to stand up to them. Remember "freedom of the press"? Bruce Anderson, they will come for you next.
LEVINE'S RUSSIAN BILL
Assemblyman Marc Levine’s Assembly Bill 838 to have the state Board of Education consider developing curricula about Russian interference in the 2016 election brings nothing but shame on the Democratic Party.
Neither the FBI, the CIA nor the National Security Administration have provided any substantial proof that such activity took place.
Assemblyman Levine’s proposal is not a characteristic behavior of a dedicated elected official and only brings shame on all who voted for his election. Unfortunately, I am one.
Conrad R. Walas