Letters (June 14, 2017)

by AVA News Service, June 14, 2017

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Dear Editor,

In the June 7th article Promo Scam-A-Rama, Mark lumps the Arts Council in with Visit Mendocino and the lodging and wine organizations. I just want to say that the Arts Council gets very little of the promo money. The Get Arts In the Schools program is one of the things the Arts Council does. It helps local artists become eligible for small grants to teach what they do in the classroom. This money is not leaving the county for advertising but stays here to benefit local children and artists. Nobody is raking it in at the Arts Council, they only have a staff of two part time positions and there are never enough hours budgeted to cover the time they put in.


Judith Edwards


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To the Editor:

On Memorial Day, I was driving through the Laytonville area on my way to Santa Rosa. As I passed a turnout on Hwy 101, I noticed a CHP and sheriff car. A very short distance south, I observed approximately four CHP and four sheriff’s cars in another turnout. A short distance later, two more. Soon after, a CHP and sheriff passed me going Code 3 northbound.

Based on the amount of police, I assumed that an officer involved shooting, multiple homicide or other major event had taken place. Imagine my surprise the next day when I discovered that the crime was a “pot burglary.” Not an armed pot robbery mind you but pot missing from a shed. Yes, the victim of the theft said he saw four men, one of whom allegedly had an “assault rifle,” but essentially the crime was a minor burglary of pot and nobody was seen or discovered by police.

For that, the CHP pulled all the north county units off Memorial Day traffic enforcement as well as all sheriff’s units in a large area.

Is this the vision for Mendocino County? Leaving law abiding people vulnerable because a pot grower got ripped off? The next time your shed is burglarized and your mower stolen, see if every cop in the county responds.

Ken Good

Gig Harbor, Washington (formerly Ukiah)

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Dear Editor:

Many thanks for the heads-up information about the hemlock growing around Mendo. I'd not seen it in Ukiah, but the article was timely, as i am staying over near Manchester, on the bluffs over the ocean. The private path to the beach is somewhat jungly. This morning, the hubby and i found several hemlock plants that just the previous day i thought were either queen annes lace or a wild parsnip. I am now especially vigilant with the dogs, as they love to munch on the salad they find on the lane to the ocean.

Gudrun Shearn


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Regarding your recent critique of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat:

The Wine industry is responsible for a lot less crime than the marijuana industry that the AVA writes about constantly.

Readers in the Santa Rosa area like the front page just the way it is. When you add it all up the PD is not a bad paper and you’re lucky to have it.

Pretty good coverage of local, state, nation and world given their circulation of 54,000. Scale of 10 —give them an 8.

PD knows that Sonoma is one of five most liberal counties and this is reflected in what they reprint from other publications. Give them an 8.

Reorganization was a plus — got the crap off page 2. Jump to page 2 from page 1 stories is a good idea.

The worst crime a newspaper can commit is withholding information they don't want the reader to have. They all do it. California Newspaper Publishers Association — giving awards to themselves.

And how much does it cost to have your picture in "life tribute"?

Ralph Bostrom


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There must be a reason. Whatever it is, I have only one further complaint. 166,000-plus women now now living in the United States have been through FGM. "Not living in the US," as it was published, that would be a very low number. They're in the millions, mostly from countries in a band across North Africa and the Middle East, including Iraq.

Scott Croghan


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What happened to the Democratic Party reform movement?  What happened to the Sandernista rebels?  What happened to Elizabeth Warren?

The anal liberal democratic establishment is still in control of a party that's six feet under and they don't even know it, because their heads are up where the sun don't shine.


Don Morris


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To the Editor:

I am writing after experiencing a recent, local child endangerment that should be a serious lesson to young parents. I had just parked next to a new Toyota SUV, when I looked up and saw a beautiful, sleepy baby, approximately 10 months old sitting in his car seat, right next to an open window. The other windows were all open, the motor was going and, I assumed, the air conditioning was going.

The sleepy child was so cute that when I walked past the car, I looked and realized that there was no one else in the car except the child. I called a nearby lady to come over and witness what I was seeing, as I wanted to be sure I was not missing a sleeping adult, or... We both agreed that the child was alone, and the absent driver/parent must be inside the hardware store.

The lady stayed and guarded the child and I went into the store to have them call “911.” There were two managers who came over, and we agreed to call the authorities. Just then, a woman ran out the other door holding two bags of bread, saying “I’m coming!” The four of us called to her and said we had called the authorities for leaving the child and that it was illegal for her to leave a baby alone.

What really prompted this letter was the casual, haughty reply that “I was only gone for 53 seconds!” She sped off. We agreed that she would probably do this again if she needed to “just do a quick purchase!” Thank Heaven we guarded her child; it could have been another “Pier 39 type” child snatching. We have all read about not letting our animals stay in a hot car; but this was beyond belief!

Anna Stephens


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When a body is heading toward the bottom, and is in denial, at some point you need to get out of the way. For six years I tried my hardest at intervention.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was the vested interest vote refusing to reconcile the differences between our actuary and our investment advisor. In my prior attempts to address this difference I had been promised that this would be the time for review. When review time was upon us they shut it down.

The actuary (Segal) suggested a rate of 7% with a 55% confidence. The investment advisor (Callan) suggested a rate of 6.4%, netting about 6% after expenses, with a 50% confidence. One percent on 6% is a material difference. A higher rate keeps contributions lower for employees.

Even Fitch, the bond and financial rating company, uses 6% as a rate of return assumption for public pensions.

Is the actuary a better forecaster? Well let’s look at their track record. As with the 7%, you can’t justify their rates historically either. From their prior projections we have about $1.20 in county debt (almost all from pension) for every $1.00 of county assets (the highest negative net worth of any county with a pension like ours). Due to past actuarial losses, the county has twice borrowed millions in bonds to put in the plan. We are still paying on the bonds and the plan is deeply underfunded again. The county alone pays about 50 cents in pension costs on every dollar of payroll. Even with these unbelievable county payments a new dollar never makes it to the plan. We have to use all the employee and employer contributions, and still sell plan assets, to pay retiree benefits each month. The actuary says our plan is about 70% funded; Stanford Public Policy Professor Joe Nation says about 40% funded.

Why would a majority of the board be so fervent to rubber stamp this track record? Is it blind faith in sorcerers? No, it is because 6 of the 9 directors are participants in the plan. The actuarial seers are all hired by Moral Hazard majorities and focused on the hand that feeds them. Whenever there is a low-balled number the taxpayers and users of county services must pay for any shortage; the employees pay nothing.

A Moral Hazard is where one group makes risky bets and pockets the winnings, but someone else must absorb the risk of any losses. By the laws of economics and human nature these usually end poorly. With a vested interest super majority board structure the track record of the plan shouldn’t be a surprise.

Why wouldn’t you play the slots if you could take the jackpot and someone else has to pay your casino tab? It takes unbelievable moral strength to overcome the laws of economics and human nature.

I would have expected the board to at least humor me on a rate reconciliation. They know I understand the markets and have made a major commitment to understand the complexities of these plans. By vocation I am a 30 years plus investment and financial professional with college degrees in related areas (Business, Economics and Master’s Degrees in Finance and Taxation). I have third and fourth generation clients, have managed individual and corporate retirement plans for over 30 years, and have never had a single complaint. I serve and have served on several corporate and not-for-profit boards. I say this not to blow my own horn, but to show my credentials. I imagine many would say I am as qualified as any on the retirement board and as qualified as any of our outside advisors. Why did a board majority refuse to study the rate differential? Because they can!

I also have discovered another very important point. It is pretty clear the top financial minds in our county really don’t understand how this plan works. The Moral Hazard aside, if the plan is too complicated for our county’s highest in financial aptitude to grasp, it is probably too complex for the citizens to guarantee.

It’s almost certain the pension plan will continue to impose more long-term debt at the 7% rate.

I now believe this plan will fail. It is not sustainable. Borrowing for an asset is okay, but it is a fool’s errand to borrow for yesterday’s operational expenses.

I have tried my best at reason. The longer it takes the worse it will be.

Ted Stephens

Yorkville/Santa Rosa

ED NOTE: A close observer of the County pension system commented: "Stephens fails to grasp that the assumed rate of return as recommended by the actuary and the projected rate of return as projected by the investment advisor are determined using different methodologies for different purposes. Stephens, who brings up the rate of return at almost every meeting, was told to wait for the comprehensive review that is done every three years. That is what he was told to wait for. He was never told that the actuarial assumed rate of return and projected return as determined by the investment adviser would be reconciled. 

THE RETIREMENT BOARD did lower the assumed rate of return recommended by the actuary, but not as much as Stephens wanted. Like almost every other public pension plan, there is a significant unfunded liability. That much is true. But the plan is not in failure and neither the plan nor the County are anywhere near bankruptcy. Every retiree will continue to get paid the full pension they earned, the County will continue to pay all its bills when they come due, and the County keeps improving its credit rating and adding to its reserves. Stephens was never able to reconcile the fundamental differences, which are dictated by state law, between public pension systems and private investments accounts. 

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The Honorable John Behnke says to David “Shyster,” “This man has rights like you and I.” But I never go before Honorable John Behnke again. I get the Mendo shakedown by Mayfield and Mormon and now Reimenschneider. I have been unlawfully detained for 1700 days. My kids have been taken, separated, and one has been prescribed psychotropic drugs against my wishes because he keeps going AWOL trying to go home. Now he's hospitalized and begging for a gun to end his life because he feels that he's been orphaned. Way to go fearless leaders with authority.

No warrant, trespassing, no Miranda rights read, unlawful agreement to contract — all allegations in conclusive. My children's mother was suffering from a mental illness which we are now treating. I asked for help from the community and I got my life destroyed, my rights completely and blatantly violated purposefully — just burtally stepped all over.

I’m in custody at the Low Gap jail. Child Protective Services is mailing my court papers to my home address. I have a June 1 court hearing. The CPS report claims that I'm in jail for selling and using drugs and my children, Michael and William, are upset because they are told by caseworker Joan Ross that dad is in jail again. Well, if you can tell my kids this stuff then you know where I'm at. Why not send my court paperwork to me so I can respond? Even worse, why not transport me to the damn court hearing? This is how CPS is conducting itself. This is not legal and Mr. Eyster finds it funny. Well, it's not funny, Dave. It's unlawful and it's bullshit. How will you feel if my son commits suicide because he's doped up in order to cover your lies.

It's time for the Mendo shakedown to end, David Eyster.

Let's do the right thing. It's time for a judicial shakedown in Mendocino County. People have rights too. Especially little kids.

I have been advised to seek a civil attorney from out of town. Is there an attorney in Mendocino County who will fight for a man's rights and his children's rights? If so, I can be reached at the following address:

Paul Dan Hannah
951 Low Gap Road
Ukiah, CA 95482 (until August 1, 2017).

Or, Paul Dan Hannah
6852 Floyd Way
Nice CA 95464

It's time to be accountable Mr. Eyster.

Paul Hannah


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Colbert, Griffin and now Maher are under attack for breaking "civility rules." There are no civility rules. These are rightwing (and fuddy-duddy): attacks aimed at muting comedians and satirists — who are the leading edge of popular resistance to the fascism-rising state. They are the prime exponents of Free Speech, and satirists and comedians are not expected to be polite or civil. Bill Cosby was unfailingly polite and civil. Maher and Griffin have apologized. I'm sorry to see that. Maher's feigned indignation about house nigger vs field nigger is a reference to a very real distinction from the days of abject existence for African-Americans (slavery and post-slavery). If you worked in the boss's house, you lived better and longer, ate better, faced less physical threat and, in most cases, considered yourself superior to the field hands. That Maher used the taboo word should not cause a flap. Himself half-Jew, half-Catholic (and doubtless, like all of us) with some tincture of Native American and African, he already embodies many of America's wretched schisms. His type of comedy is called, among other things, Black Comedy and "Insult" Comedy. SCREW the "nigger" taboo. The word's a distortion of "negro," now considered belittling, in favor of "black," which was once considered blunt and hateful. Same word, different languages. These distinctions are themselves petty and absurd. Niggerniggerniggerniggernigger! Lenny Bruce, R.I.P., was way out in front of all this. DEFEND OUR DEFENDERS! Spread it around!

Mitch Clogg


ED REPLY: Excuse me Mitch, but if these people are our defenders, we're more hopelessly lost than I thought. Kathy Griffin is a new name to me. When I saw the photo of her holding up a replica severed head it took me a few seconds to recognize the head as Trump’s. I'm still wondering where the humor is. The alleged comedienne subsequently professed shock when her friends and colleagues, the usual appalling collection of media snakes and hustlers, immediately denounced her for her Trump visual, which wasn't shocking, wasn't funny, but merely a crude expression of contempt for a consensus contemptible man. Cutting edge humor? A ten-year-old might think so. And the snakes only distanced themselves for the sake of appearances, not out of any principle.

BILL MAHER responds to an invitation from a plump officeholder to do a turn at farm work. Maher replies that he's a "house nigger, not a field nigger." He sure is, at least in the sense that his loyalty to corporate Democrats has never been in doubt. Facing a tepid 'backlash' from his sponsors — loss of income — Maher apologized. I don't recall Lenny Bruce apologizing for anything, ever. Bruce was a true pioneer comic and a very brave man. He didn't throw around ethnic insults and obscenities for the hell of it, he did it to make the point that certain taboos were crazy, which, at the time, was real-deal courageous. He got arrested, he was often assaulted by audiences, he died broke. If he thought he was clearing the way for Maher and Colbert, he probably would have gotten into another line of work. Maher was also rightly criticized for this purely offensive, dramatically unfunny bit: "What do you make of Ivanka and her efforts to sort of humanize her father? We see all this misogyny at Fox News, we see it in Donald Trump himself. A lot of us thought: Ivanka is gonna be our saving grace. When he’s about to nuke Finland or something, she’s gonna walk into the bedroom and—‘Daddy, Daddy' mimicking Ivanka giving her father a handjob. ‘Don’t do it, Daddy’.” What kind of degraded idiot would find that riff amusing? Then there was Colbert with this side-splitter: "In fact, the only thing your mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin’s cock holster.” And liberals wonder why 40 million Americans voted for Trump? It would be interesting and undoubtedly hilarious some morning to substitute, without explanation, an hour of Lenny Bruce for All Things Considered on KZYX, and sit back and enjoy the reaction. He was banned and persecuted when he was alive, he’d be banned today.

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