Letters to the Editor
by AVA News Service, July 13, 2010
SOMETHING SHE SAID?
What I don't understand about the “Scourging of Helen Thomas” is why no one mentions freedom of speech. Isn't this still America? What have we come to when a much respected and loved journalist is forced to retire because of something she said? America should be ashamed.
TOO TALL & FRIENDS
My name is Robert William Hendy, otherwise known as Too Tall, due to my being 6’-9”. I have been a resident of Mendocino County since 2001 and consider myself a Mendonian. I am currently serving a five-year prison term for selling drugs. I am housed at San Quentin in the same section as the infamous Kenny Rogers from Westport and Juan Fernandez known by some as Rico. Thanks to them receiving your paper, I am able to keep up with the AVA. I have been a huge fan since the first time I laid eyes on it. It truly is the last newspaper. I'm hoping to join Mr. Radcliffe and train as a firefighter so I can give back to the community for my wrongs. I understand you guys are a small company and times are hard right now, but it would be a gift to receive your paper weekly. Keep up the remarkable work. Thank you very much!
Robert William HandyG-52952
San Quentin State Prison
San Quentin, CA 94974
PS. I know nothing is free but all I can offer is to pay you when I am released or do some work for you. I was once a preprint handler for the Everett Daily Herald in Washington State.
CALLING LES MILLER
I would surely like to receive your publication. I am indigent at this time so I would understand if this is not possible. It took me over a year to find your address. Finally. Thank you. Whatever you decide.
Ed note: Mr. Miller did not provide an address with his request.
When you look life in the eyes tell me what do you see? Is it an image that you like of you that is to be?
Our thoughts are always different, our smiles are never the same. The wind may blow to the east, is tsunami to blame?
The love my mother gave is all that she could give. But now to make room for another life I can no longer live.
It seems life is just a game that we all will play. We will lie, cheat, and steal, but this game we must lose one day.
Death takes its toll. I don't care how slick you may be. Now look life in the eyes once again and that is you and me.
Jonah Raskin's 10 Food Rules (with apologies to Michael Paulin):
1. Put food in your mouth — not in your ear, or nose.
2. When eating soup, use a spoon, not a fork or knife.
3. Don't eat in the same place you poop.
4. Don't eat when you're asleep, but when you're awake.
5. Remember that while books may provide food for thought they’re not the edible food you need to survive.
6. Store food that parishes in the fridge, not in the oven.
7. Have breakfast in the morning, lunch at noon or early afternoon, and dinner in the evening.
8. If you have a drink with dinner put it in a glass, not on a plate.
9. If it moves, eat it.
10. Never break Raskin's Food Rules.
Sonoma State University
Mill Creek? Mill Creek!? Jesus Christ, Bruce!
As an avid enthusiast of the AVA, I (and I'm sure I am not alone) am appalled and chagrined each week at the number of errata found therein.
These egregious lapses in proper spelling, punctuation and sometimes grammar reflect poorly upon what is otherwise a shining example of contemporary reportage and impeccable veracity.
So I herewith tender my services as an intern proofreader for a period of six months, at the expiration of which, if my performance is deemed acceptable, I agreed to continue in that capacity for the current minimum wage +$1.
If you are amenable, then you need merely martial your not inconsiderable resources to effectuate my release from this place. I shall report for duty forthwith.
D.M. Bullock, faithful subscriber
PS. Do you have a dental plan?
HOW TO SAVE DEPUTIES
To The Board of Supervisors:
As you struggle to find ways to further reduce our county expenditures in these difficult times, I recommend you very seriously consider cutting salaries starting at the top tier. This is always unpopular, since most of the decision makers are those making the highest salaries (the BOS excepted) and it is as difficult to cut one's own salary as it is to cut one's own wrist. Nevertheless, it is far less dangerous for top management to live on a little less than it is for the entire county to live with fewer public safety officers and inadequate care for our mentally disabled. The County Sheriff has now been asked by the CEO to find a means to trim the salaries of our Deputy Sheriffs and perhaps to reduce his staff of safety officers as well.
I have completed an analysis of the salaries of the top tier of our county government: those 142 employees making more than $75,000 in direct salary, not including overtime. If we were to reduce all their salaries to no more than $75,000, the savings per year would be $2,483,167.66 based upon the end of 2009 salary data provided by the Department of Human Resources. That's a big savings. Why don't we talk about it?
Some 20 years ago, it was thought that our small rural county would not attract high quality employees unless we paid salaries at or near the levels offered in more affluent counties to the south. Thus many salary grades were adjusted upwards. We would be hard-pressed to prove that this actually got us better quality personnel. Regardless of their qualifications, we can no longer afford the luxury of such high priced help. As an example, we have one employee in the Mental Health Department whose salary is the same as a Pentagon Four Star General — a whopping $215,000 per year! Managing mental health in Mendocino may be taxing but it is not equivalent to running a war in Afghanistan with 90,000 pairs of boots on the ground. The costs of housing is falling and many economists now predict no recovery for ten or more years. We can live on less and be just as happy, just as secure. The days of wine and roses are over.
It will not be easy to convince your fellow leaders in County Government to take this pay cut. But I must remind you that the vast majority of people who enjoy life in this wonderful place make but a small fraction of these high salaries. The median income for a household in Mendocino County was $35,996, in 2009. The per capita income (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Per_capita_income) for the county was $19,443. A maximum salary of $75,000 for county employees who are now above that level will still leave them with more than twice the income of the majority of our families!
So, I ask you, members of the Board, to stop looking for ways to make the lower income sheriff's deputies (most of whom are below the $75,000 level) and other employees bear most of the burden while our department heads, supervisors, and their associated paper shufflers continue to live most comfortably.
James F. Houle
The Anderson Valley Land Trust is hosting a one-day Adventure Seminar on Saturday August 14, 2010 from 9.30am to 4.00pm. The Adventure includes visits to Chestnut Ridge Ranch, an off-the-grid pioneering commercial chestnut orchard and edible garden; Blue Meadow Farm, a local Anderson Valley grower of great to look at/great to eat organic vegetables, and Handley Cellars a multiple award winning solar/organic winery. Organic agriculture, landscape management and conservation practices will be discussed by the property owners and there will be an opportunity to taste Handley’s incredible wines at 4pm.
The Adventure Seminar will be a unique opportunity to go behind the scenes of some of the most interesting agricultural endeavors being nurtured in Anderson Valley’s spectacular hillsides and Valley floor. Lunch is included and will be prepared with locally grown produce and served by the Boonville Hotel’s Table 128, under the expert guidance of the hotel’s own renowned chef, Johnny Schmitt.
The Adventure Seminar will be an educational experience and participation in the event is by reservation only and is limited to 40 people only. The cost is $100 per person (including lunch) and all proceeds benefit the Anderson Valley Land Trust. For reservations call 707.895.3150 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
AVLT is a non-governmental, non-profit organization founded in 1991. AVLT provides local expertise to help landowners conserve their land so properties can be protected, managed and used to preserve their unique conservation values. More information at: www.andersonvalleylandtrust.org.
HEALTH INSPECTOR SCAM
There are media reports of a fraud scheme targeting food facilities extending throughout California and North America. A number of restaurants in Sonoma County have recently received telephone calls from a person claiming to be a health inspector introducing a new procedure for arranging health inspections.
Riverside County has also reported restaurants getting telephone calls from people claiming to be a health inspector requesting the business owner to follow a procedure to get a special code to confirm an upcoming inspection. In Sonoma County the scheme was reported to be part of a larger fraud involving setting up “verified” accounts with a national on-line auction service. In Mendocino County there is one known attempt using the fake health inspector scam.
Food facility owners/operators need to be aware of this scam and can protect themselves by understanding the Mendocino County Division of Environmental Health typically does not schedule inspections, and does not issue or provide special codes. If contacted by someone claiming to be a health inspector, do not give out business or personal information over the phone to someone you do not know.
For further information please contact Mendocino County Environmental Health Division at 707-463-4466.
Environmental Health Manager
AV CLINIC COMES THROUGH
I want to share this tale of speedy relief from considerable suffering with my fellow AV locals.
Last week a great big filling fell out of my mouth and it felt like I had a huge hole in my head. It was hard to do anything but feel the hole with my tongue and worry. I called our local medical clinic and they gave me an appointment for the very next morning. Dr. Phan Tath did a speedy and pain free job of replacing the filling and I was good to go — no fuss no muss. His assistant Gina, an intern from the Ukiah based ROP program, was also personable and professional. I drove home and stepped out of my car directly onto a board with a long nail sticking straight up which went right through the girly thin red flats I was wearing and into my foot about half an inch. Unpleasant. I walked into the house and called the AV Clinic for the second time in two days. They told me to come back they would give me a tetanus shot right away. Dr. Apfel did the job along with efficiently checking in with me while I was there on my other ongoing medical stuff.
Am I satisfied client/patient of the AV Medical Clinic? You bet I am! You just can't beat total on-demand service like that. I didn't even have to drive over the hill. I am in awe and grateful. Thank you AV Health Clinic. I love you truly.
I am flabbergasted by Judge LaCasse's ruling in the Boaz case where teacher Boaz was called a racist in a public letter by Ukiah Unified's hit man, Bryan Barrett, for using the word “niggardly” during union negotiations. LaCasse in ruling against Boaz in his suit said the word “racist” was not harmful to Boaz as it is is exhausted as a term of abuse. LaCasse must be from a galaxy far, far away. He needs to get out of his cloistered courtroom and out into the real world where calling someone a racist can earn yourself a punch in the nose. Racist is a vitriolic, provocative word and the use of the word in the letter by hitman Barrett and endorsed by his fellow misfit educators was a scurrilous attack upon Mr. Boaz's character.
I don't believe for a second hitman Barrett and the Ukiah educator crowd didn't know niggardly has nothing to do with the “N” word. Nobody is that stupid. Niggardly has nothing to due with race and is probably of Scandanavian origin and was first used by Geoffrey Chaucer. Now I suppose there will be an effort to ban “Canterbury Tales” and other works of Chaucer from the shelves of libaries in Ukiah schools.
The sorry thing about all of this saga is Barrett and his crowd are in charge of educatiing the children in their district. They ceratainly set a fine example.
POINT OF ORDER, CHAIRPERSON
Letter to the Editor
To the guy next to me on Main St. in Mendocino on July 4th:
I got to the intersection of Main and Kasten around 11:45am because I thought the parade would start at noon. I went to my favorite spot, the northeast corner of the intersection, right near Gallery Books and across the street from Out of This World. There was a small folding police-barrier right behind me, and next to me, to the east, lots of portable chairs. There was no one standing or sitting in the street behind me. The intersection was almost empty. The portable nylon folding chair right next to me, the last in the row, was green. It was empty.
The day was gorgeous, the vibes sublime. After a while I figured out that the parade was starting later than usual, but I was perfectly content to stand in my prime spot, which I did, for over an hour, as the crowd gathered. A fireman came and took away the police barrier I stood in front of, leaving a space. Some people arrived and set up their chairs behind me in that space. They were cheerful, plainly understanding perfectly well that I'd been there for a while. Then came the honk of the fire truck: the parade had begun!
A petulant voice came from my left: “Are you going to stand there the whole time?” It was you, the owner of the green chair. Young, probably not yet 30, and appearing to be perfectly able-bodied, as was your girlfriend, one chair to the east of you. You radiated wounded entitlement. You obviously believed that I had no right to be standing where I was standing. “Yes, I am,” I said, something irrevocable moving into place at the sound of your voice and your choice of words. I politely said that I'd been there for a long time, that I'd chosen this spot so as not to block anyone's view. “And what about this lady behind you?” you said, indicating the pleasant woman who'd arrived and set up her chair after the police barrier had been moved. “You might have consulted me earlier,” I said. “I'd think you'd move out of common decency,” you said, prissily and huffily. Fun-wrecking adrenaline ran through my veins. I said: “Oh, relax, will you?” I directed my attention back to the parade, stood my ground, and tuned you out. You retreated to your chair. That was that.
I had the fun of chatting amiably, within your earshot, with the folks behind me, squeezing to the side to maximize their view. I also had the fun of being greeted by lots of friends in the parade, right there where you could see it happen. You oozed exasperation, exaggerating the effort it took to lean forward with your camera and such, but you kept your trap shut.
Here's the thing: The street is not an amphitheater. Some of us choose to stand, some of us choose to sit. You chose to sit. You seemed to believe that staking out your spot with a chair entitled you to special privileges: not merely an unobstructed view directly in front of you, but a full 180-degree view. I, standing next to you (NOT in front of you), was depriving you. As I said, you were anything but disabled or elderly. Yet you brayed with self-pity. You took quite a risk with your complaint. I was a total stranger. You had no idea how I'd react. The business could easily have erupted into an ugly squabble or even a shoving match. But it didn't, because I didn't let it. When you come next year, be advised: A chair does not entitle you, like some little Caesar, to command others around you. No one buys a ticket. The Mendocino parade is pure fun. Leave your whiny me-first ways at home.
BAD WASTE MANAGEMENT
As an alternative to plumes of noxious smoke, littered landscapes and the practice of dumping their refuse down “sweet chutes” into the sea, Mendocino County voters long ago assigned to our government responsibility for ensuring appropriate solid-waste management.
Recently, this internal operation has been hammered both by legally mandated increased recycling and by the slowdown in construction. With the volume of waste shrinking, revenue has also declined to the extent that the county has faced annual shortfalls of $250-750K in its waste management operation.
Unable to continue such heavy subsidies of waste management from our rapidly vanishing general fund, the County explored the options and called for bids. Over many months, it then negotiated a contract with Solid Waste of Willits (the only bidder) to manage the six transfer stations and continue curbside service. After much public discussion, the Board voted to approve the final contract, with Colfax and Smith dissenting. This lengthy process has now been scuttled by the City of Fort Bragg after an end run by Supervisor Smith, supported by 5th District Supervisor Candidate Hamburg who is busily fueling latent Inland vs. Coast rivalry by contending that the contract advantaged inland areas at the expense of the coast.
As previously reported this contract would have saved the County taxpayers about $500K, protected jobs and prevented the need for sharply reduced transfer station hours, including those in Boonville and at coastal sites. It would also have provided for costly upgrades on the South Coast and tied any future rate increases to specific operating costs. In short, it benefited all County stakeholders, including the City of Fort Bragg, by relieving it of a substantial annual payment.
The County policy of charging the same rates at all transfer stations does mean that the heavily used Caspar site would continue to subsidize coastal and inland stations. However, rather than casting this as “unfair,” environmentally conscious coastal users of this high-volume facility recognize that the policy exists to encourage proper refuse disposal. Without it, costs could double for users of the Boonville, Albion and Potter Valley sites, encouraging dangerous and unsightly illegal dumping.
No contract is perfect, but the opposition voiced by Supervisor Smith and would-be Supervisor Hamburg, stems largely from their inflexible ideological objection to any outsourcing of public functions to the private sector. Their political maneuvering has now derailed a Board action that would have saved jobs and services, stabilized solid waste management for more than a decade and left time and many hundreds of thousands of dollars available for critical uses such as retaining our endangered resident deputies.
Apart from the question that has been raised of whether Supervisor Smith committed an ethical violation, one must ask whether the behavior of any of these individuals reflects the fiscal responsibility that is so sorely needed and the ability to participate effectively in the crucial business of collaborative public leadership.
Candidate for Fifth District Supervisor
Stop Local Privitizing Scams.
Reference: Food and Water Watch, Gartner Group.
Corporate privateers are milking our current economic turmoil for all its worth. They are approaching cash-starved states, counties, cities, and towns with offers of money in exchange for their public services.
Criminal justice services (including the operation and management of prisons and jails), police protection and health care services to mentally disabled citizens are services now being massively provided throughout the country by private vendors. The lure of lucrative contracts and high profits continue to attract private industry to go after water, waste-water treatment, garbage and recycling systems, education, fire control, road maintenance, parks, transportation, etc.
We have frightened our elected officials of even contemplating tax increases because of anti-democratic propaganda that “government is the problem” and private enterprise is more efficient.
It’s all a despicable, greed-driven lie.
Public utilities and social services are the most efficient because they are more accountable, transparent and responsive to the public. Research has proven again and again that privatization does not enhance efficiency. Many communities end up paying much more, if not through their bills, then through the degradation of their services, infrastructure, and environment.
According to a recent Gartner Group poll, the benefits of outsourcing have consistently failed to meet the expectations of government and private sector officials.
From Fairbanks, Alaska, to North Brunswick, N.J., residents have felt the sting of perpetual rate hikes after privatizing their public services. An analysis of 20 states shows that these experiences are not just anecdotal; they are demonstrative. For example, compared to municipalities, private utilities charge as much as 80 percent more for water and 100 percent more for sewer service. Tell that to someone close to losing their home. High financing costs, taxes, profit requirements and an assortment of other factors make privatization an expensive and irresponsible alternative to reliable public management. Using shoddy construction materials, deferring maintenance, backlogging service requests and massive downsizing of the workforce are common tactics of profit-driven corporations.
Key Research Findings:
• Private utilities charge higher rates than municipalities
• Privatization does not increase the efficiency of public systems
• Privatization has many hidden expenses• Corporations drive up costs and shoot down service quality
• The public can do it better and cheaper
When we turn over public control, citizens are defenseless against rate hikes, poor customer service, and degradation of infrastructure.
Municipalities have better options to reduce costs and stabilize rates. Public purchases of privately owned systems in Felton, Calif., and Fort Wayne, Ind., have saved many families hundreds of dollars a year on their water bills. From Houston, Texas, to Fairfield-Suisun, Calif., cities are finding that the public can provide better, cheaper, faster service.
When we have local public officials, backed by private “business councils,” advocate the privatizing of public services, they should be turned out of office at the next election so that public servants who genuinely care about their communities’ long-term financial health can be elected.
Those who scream the loudest about passing our debts to future generations, are first in line with their hands out to profit from higher rates that will only mean higher long-term costs to those same children and grandchildren. The hypocrisy is staggering.
We need a Mendocino County citizen’s ballot initiative to force voter approval of all city and county privitization schemes so that our democratic control remains with us citizens and not have it handed willy-nilly over to top-down, profit-driven privateers who report to their share-holders, not to local citizens.
If we do not act democratically, by ballot initiative, to stop this tragic giveaway of public assets to private interests, more and more floundering public officials will collude with corporate profiteers to hatch privatization schemes in attempts to ease budgetary woes.
The Piver Skunk Train Gang, on behalf of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, would like to thank the Navarro and Greenwood wineries for their kind donations. We would also like to thank the Anderson Valley Advertiser for their free advertisement. We were able to raise $21,000.
Vern & Betty Piver
Protest MLPA Ocean Privatization — Rally in Support of Public Access in Fort Bragg July 21!
I urge Everybody who cares about defending environmental justice, tribal gathering rights and public fishing access and stopping Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative ocean privatization campaign to attend this demonstration in Fort Bragg on July 21 at noon. The MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force, overseen by oil industry, marina development, real estate and other corporate interests, will be meeting in Fort Bragg on July 21 and 22.
Time To Make Our Voices Heard.
MLPA Means Less Public Access!
Tribes, Norcal Fishermen, Seafood Providers, Divers, Anglers, Elected Officials, Coastal Businesses — Rally In Support Of Public Access & Sustainable Local Fishing. Protest Ocean Privatization.
Wednesday, July 21st. Noon. Main Street, Fort Bragg CA (Exact location to be determined) For more info: Call Mike Carpenter, (707) 937-4362
ANOTHER STUPID RULE
According to news accounts of the possible censure of Supervisor Smith for speaking to the Fort Bragg City Council after the vote to privatize the county’s trash hauling and transfer stations, “The [Board] policy states that board members must abide by and uphold final majority decisions of the board.”
For instance, say the Board voted 4-1 to oppose the US war in Afghanistan with Supervisor John Pinches dissenting. Would that mean that Pinches could never speak in favor of the war? I doubt that. That is, of course, an extreme example but a pertinent one.