Letters to the Editor
by AVA News Service, December 17, 2010
FIRST THINGS FIRST
Letter to the Editor,
If you value Deputy Sheriff patrols and service write or call the Board of Supervisors (501 Low Gap Road, Room 1090, Ukiah, CA 95482; 463-4221; email@example.com ) and ask them to remove money from other budget categories in other departments to fund the Sheriff.
The Board reduced few line items prior to approval of the 2010/11 budget. They allowed the Sheriff to be underfunded and now claim that he is “the problem.” Staff only reviewed three categories, all else was negotiated by department heads and the CEO, I assume. The following ten budget categories (out of 52) total $12,490,498 and show quite a bit about the CEO and Board’s badly misplaced budget priorities. Their priorities are not those of the general public. Many people are horrified by the amount of money that is spent on internal County operations. It appears as though weaknesses in policy and procedures do not allow the tough questions to be asked.
Clothing and Personal Items: $97,296
Office expense: $1,663,383
Paper supplies: $47,700.
Fed Ex/UPS: $29,600
Education & Training: $514,524
Professional & Special Services: $7,110,173
Transportation & Travel: $1,556,557
Transportation & Travel
(Out of County): $518,386
Half the fiscal year is gone so there should be, at a minimum, $6,245,249 to cut. You would think something could be found to keep the public mandate for safety operating. After all, a lot of us feel that the Sheriff’s operations are the highest publicly mandated use of general funds.
I favor denying all out-of-country travel and reducing in-county travel for everyone. Some reduction in travel has been instituted, but not for those who have entrenched habits and are “entitled.” If all travel were held to the amount actually spent by May 31, 2010, we would have $789,674, less 22 days of June expenses. Are they again over-budgeting and could this money be applied to the Sheriff’s strained budget?
Curtail to an emergency level all education and training. Requests for this budget category were up by $96,096 for this fiscal year. Where was the leadership for frugality? With fewer hires there should not be much need for any training. Department heads should train and/or make use of on-line materials in-house. No more traveling elsewhere in the state (in individual cars!). Hold this budget category in abeyance for one to two years and keep deputies on patrol.
Supervisor Colfax said to me that “the budget was too difficult and too complex to understand.” Scary. How nice it would be if each Supervisor, having reviewed the budget, would present a list of recommended cuts and get them removed or reduced. It is time to clearly evaluate where reductions can be made — and they can, if mindsets and business as usual perceptions are changed and if non-essential categories and items are reduced. They must make priority-based decisions.
The board repeatedly stresses that they are in “full support of the Sheriff” but that sentiment turns into an empty platitude when they cut his staff without cutting other areas of the budget or departments, or capping or rolling back all salaries that are over $100k. A good example might be the question about why the County Counsel’s office still has six attorneys and why the proposed budget indicates that Ms. Nadel’s department was receiving more money than she even requested?
There are a lot of places to look for money.
With Mendocino’s supervisors getting attention in the AVA, this item from a newspaper on the east side of the Sierra Nevada might be of interest.
Sounds like AT&T still has some work to do on their Alltel purchase.
Sierra Wave, Monday, 13 December 2010 18:05
The major switch from Alltel to AT&T for Inyo-Mono cell phone customers turned into a painful experience for some. Service in Benton and Hammil simply died in places. Others in Mammoth Lakes and Inyo complained about a sudden drop in service too. Mono Supervisor Hap Hazard went to work to do what citizens found impossible.
Hazard made it his mission to actually talk to someone in authority at AT&T. Several citizens reported to Sierra Wave their futile efforts to contact someone who cared or who would discuss issues beyond a prepared script.
Supervisor Hazard received citizen complaints and emailed back that he would try to do something about it. His latest email includes an AT&T response from what Hazard said was their "legal staff, management, technical people, and engineers."
Open Letter to Amazon.com
To Customer Service and CEO Jeff Bezos,
I’m disgusted by Amazon’s cowardice and servility in abruptly terminating its hosting of the Wikileaks website, in the face of threats from Senator Joe Lieberman and other Congressional right-wingers.
I want no further association with any company that encourages legislative and executive officials to aspire to China’s control of information and deterrence of whistle-blowing.
For the last several years, I’ve been spending over $100 a month on new and used books from Amazon. That’s over.
I have contacted Customer Service to ask Amazon to terminate immediately my membership in Amazon Prime and my Amazon credit card and account, to delete my contact and credit information from their files and to send me no more notices.
I understand that many other regular customers feel as I do and are responding the same way. Good: the broader and more immediate the boycott, the better.
I hope that these others encourage their contact lists to do likewise and to let Amazon know exactly why they’re shifting their business.
I’ve asked friends today to suggest alternatives. I’ve removed all links to Amazon from my site, and I’ll be exploring service from Powell’s Books, IndieBound, Biblio and others.
So far Amazon has spared itself the further embarrassment of trying to explain its action openly. This would be a good time for Amazon insiders who know and perhaps can document the political pressures that were brought to bear—and the details of the hasty kowtowing by their bosses—to leak that information.
They can send it to Wikileaks (now on servers outside the US), to mainstream journalists or bloggers, or perhaps to a site like antiwar.com, which has now appropriately ended its book-purchasing association with Amazon and called a boycott.
Yours (no longer),
OUTSIDE THE BAG
Let us pause and have a laugh
At those who spoke on our behalf
Their secret words at which we peek
Were brought to use by Wikileak
Who has amongst its strongest backers
The world’s most successful hackers
Who found their marks and came down hard
On PayPal, Visa and the Card
Now they’re nervous at the top
They’ve found free speech is hard to stop
The fixers don’t know how to gag
A cat that isn’t in their bag.
To Mitch Sprague, Manager, Mendocino Community Network,
I know you have received a lot of flack for your decision to shut down thelistserves and now have postponed the shutdown.
You may want to consider the following as you decide what to do:
We have received over 700 emails in the last 3 to 4 days from the listserve.
Most of those emails are simple chit chat between some subscribers who apparently have little else to do.
We have missed community announcements (the reason we subscribe to the listserve) because they have been lost in the over 700 chatty emails.
While we have set our email program on our iMac to filter listserve messages to a separate folder, the email client on our iPad cannot do that so we have to delete delete delete etc.
There is a relative small number of folks who are abusing the listserve with these chatty on and on discussions.
You may want to rethink the entire listserve concept.
1. Most of the traffic coming from the listserve belongs on a blog, not on a shared community bulletin board.
2. Restrict continuing listserve traffic to announcements, for sale stuff, requests for help (possibly help wanted), etc. Create a definition of what is appropriate for the listserve.
3. Do not allow the continued abuse of this valuable community bulletin board by those who just want to have a running conversation. They are destroying the usefulness of the listserve by their actions. Either encourage or sponsor a Mendocino community blog to serve those who want to have running discussions.
4. Change all the names. Delete the name listserve. Don't use the listserve title because using it would confuse those thinking it was what it was, not what you want it to be. Create two new places to go, a “Community Bulletin Board” and create or sponsor a “Mendocino Community Blog.”
The concept of a Community Bulletin Board is useful, needed and appreciated. I thought the original listserve was basically a Bulletin Board. It has become apparent there are a lot of individuals who also want a place to have an open ongoing community discussion. That is well and good. MCN can facilitate that by sponsoring a blog for that purpose. The two needs are not necessarily compatible.
The bulletin board announcements get lost in the mass of chit chat.
Think about it.
SEMPER FI, MENDO FOREST
‘Send in the Marines’—
December 7, 2010, A Day That Will Life In Infamy — Sheriff Tom Allman deserves a lot of credit for assembling a multicounty, multiagency law enforcement coalition to deal with the drug cartels which have invaded and occupied the Mendocino national Forest. But, in my opinion, it's too little, too late.
The situation has escalated to the point where it can't be handled by law enforcement alone, but will require a military solution.
We're told that installing strategic checkpoints to interrupt pot supply convoys is a “step in the right direction.” But what we really need is a multi-booted stomp in the right direction: boots on the ground.
Manning checkpoints starting in March will only impede the small time doofus growers since the well organized cartels have their supplies hauled in and then stockpiled much earlier than that.
The most outrageous aspect of the forest occupation by foreign nationals is the acquiescence of the US Forest Service itself which euphemistically refers to the cartelians as “displaced foreign travelers.”
The Forest Supervisor during his annual report to the Mendocino County Supervisors, after questioning by Third District Supervisor John pinches, admitted that they had lost control of their land base. But he didn't think it was “an emergency.”
Duh! The Forest Supervisor is required by law to preserve and protect the public trust resources. By his statement he has betrayed the public trust and should be fired.
I'm told that during the pot-strike coalition meeting at the Hampton Inn on December 2 in Ukiah the Forest Supervisor was the only one to resist the idea of checkpoints and at the very least he demanded that private property inholders on the Forest be allowed to transport pot growing supplies onto their land.
It is my understanding that gated private inholdings are used as drop-off and distribution points for pot growing supplies.
The Mendocino National Forest is dead and the corpse rots from the top down.
Let's bring it back to life. Send in the Marines!
PS. The pot powwow story in the “award-winning” Willits News (December 8, 2010) didn't mention anything about checkpoints and interrupting pot growing supply convoys. I wonder why?
PPS. If law enforcement wants to be effective they should launch some sting operations at local distributors of pot growing supplies.
Dear Peter Lippman,
Adulation of energy and explosives! On the front page of the AVA yet! The AVA is nothing if not eclectic.
Thank you for your letter and gentle correction (AVA, 10/6/2010). The California Institute of Technology, CIT (rarely), Caltech (usually)! How could I screw that up? Shame!
Summarily rejected by Caltech, I was ultimately accepted by Stanford and a then-brand-new college, Harvey Mudd, in Claremont. I was a member of the Founding Class. And between campus pranks and shenanigans and all-night hearts games, I managed to flunk out not once, but twice. I believe that record still stands. In retrospect, I should have gone to Stanford. But speaking of pranks and practical jokes, I'm sure Caltech holds the world record. A book should be written on the subject — and I believe it has been.
I have always admired and enjoyed Richard Feynman and I was actually introduced to Linus Pauling. It was after one of his lectures on sickle cell anemia and, considering that he must have had to endure a dozen such introductions every day, he was surprisingly gracious. He smiled and asked if I was intending to come to Caltech. To this day I never take a vitamin C tablet but what I think of Dr. Pauling.
Reflecting on the matter, I think the cryogenics lecture/demo must have utilized liquid air (as opposed to liquid nitrogen). A part of the demonstration that I didn't mention in my bit of techno-nostalgia that involved charcoal and liquid air and a lit match. The reaction was rapid and highly exothermic. And in the hands of someone less knowledgeable it could have been dangerous. If left standing in an open Dewar (container), liquid air tends to enrich itself in oxygen due to the difference in boiling point of nitrogen (-320F) and oxygen (-293F, as I recall). And, although I never had a chance to try it, I have it on good authority that a mixture of LOX (liquid oxygen) and charcoal is detonable. (In terms of residue, that wouldn't give the bomb squad much to go on, would it?)
Thanks again for your kind and informative feedback.
Ode to an Icon(oclast)
Though I think Diana Vance has some iffy synapses — opinions she's never without.
Now she may be “the bomb” or as old as my mom. This I surely would like to find out.
Unlike lots of ladies, she's got a Mercedes, but seems more inclined to park it.
And go for a hike or hop on her bike when venturing out to the market.
If I ever parole and get out of this hole I think I might just take the chance.
To move up to Mendo and all my time spendo in wooing the fair Diana Vance.
B.M. Bullock, Loyal Subscriber
My last six-day vacation at Tom Allman's poor man's health spa.
This is what we got: six days of quiet rest, reunion with old pals (that includes the staff and the inmates), perfect TV selections, sports and history channel, a few poor TV movies.
I read the AVA through the “saprones.” 24/7 excellent health care including all the painkillers and “happy pills” I desire. Winking at CO Wagner and C. Simmons. Also I have a “crush” on Sergeant Honey (another college grad-underachiever). Took six showers for one half hour each, unlimited hot water, soap, shampoo and beauty cream supplied by the public. Three nourishing and tasty feasts a day and no dishes to wash. No pots to clean. Always clean clothes. Free laundry done by our own slave sisters in green.
Not one hostile word or vib was directed at Mr. Kruse.
If Kruse was thought to be guilty by his cellmates you can be sure he would be in solitary instead of being out in the general population of A-tank. The most dangerous number in the deck.
Two fun filled drives with other non-criminals: two flower vendors selling flowers for three dollars apiece to a cop, an attractive pair of young college girls who drove on suspended licenses in the Old Pirate himself.
The kindly judge freed us all with a gentle slap on our collective wrists and away we went. Shopping, smoking, and winking. If my health starts to slip we hope for midwinter repeat.
Alan Graham/Captain fathom
GRAPE RUSH RESISTANCE
To Will Parrish,
A quick note.
We have been reading with great pleasure, and of course alarm, your series on Sonoma County corporate wine. I say alarm as you are laying out a detailed picture as to how pervasive, entrenched, and dauntingly powerful these players are. Our Friends of the Gualala River has been at the forefront of the resistance to these grape rush developers and their plans to convert forestland to vineyards.
Please visit if you have not already our site www.gualalariver.org . Many of the names in your pieces will pop up with any searching on the site regarding vineyards and wineries. We hope that you will be addressing in the following articles or have future plans to focus on the Preservation Ranch project. It would be the largest forestland conversion project in the history of California and is promising to be the mother of all environmental battles to be played out in our north coast forests. Please contact us if we can be of any assistance in researching “Phantasy Ranch” and the effort to greenwash its impacts.
Friends of the Gualala River
Eating fruits and vegetables, or even being near where they are grown, has just gotten more dangerous. By approving methyl iodide for use in California ("Methyl iodide gains state OK," Dec. 2, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger 's Department of Pesticide Regulation has ignored its responsibility to protect public health.
The department has replaced one toxic, ozone-depleting pesticide with a cancer-causing one and is allowing corporate pressure from the multibillion-dollar Arysta LifeScience Corp. to trump all science.
The science is clear: There is no way to use this chemical safely in the fields, no matter what conditions the department puts on its use, said Anne Katten, pesticide and worker-safety specialist at California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation.
Will Arysta and DPR be there to help when the state's rural residents get cancer or lose their babies? Approving methyl iodide will leave California communities with a toxic legacy in our water and in our bodies. We can't afford to delay action on the chemical. It is essential that the Legislature and Governor-elect Jerry Brown review and rescind this dangerous action and ban methyl iodide from use in California.
The rich create jobs only when they spend their money or invest it or bank it and the bank lends it.
In today's economy, the rich are not spending it, and they are not investing it. They are banking it, but the banks are not lending it. However, when the government taxes the rich, it spends the money, which creates jobs.
I suggest the writer take a look at the American economy from 1945 to 1960 under Democratic and liberal Republican administrations when the highest tax rates were at 90%.
It was described as a boom economy. And while the middle class expanded and prospered, the high tax rates seemed not to dampen entrepreneurial incentive much at all.
THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS NOW
Dear Mr. Anderson,
I can imagine that you may thnk it odd that I, a pagan, enjoy, have always enjoyed, Christmas. Why? It could be that I have always sensed that most humans, certainly those who come from an agriculturally organized form of subsistence, have for thousands of years lived with an inner sense of the cycle of the seasons and with that of the rythm of plowing and planting, waiting for the crop to grow and mature, and the rush of harvest and the preservation of the year's bounty. Finally, there come the dark months, months spent indoors. The latter time provided the chance for reflection and relaxation. It was above all else time to be with ones family and l oved ones. Such an annual cycle necessitates periods of toil and rest, anxiousness and satisfaction, overcoming life's challenges and uncertainties, and rejoicing in accomplishments of one's own labor and that of each loved one. Formal schooling, visiting one's relatives in summer, the time to marry, and even the time to go to war were proscribed by the time of year, its ebb and flow with the seasons of birth, grows, and harvest. In a food based economy, these things hold true even today. Regrettably, I see only stray wisps of it as I drive back and forth between Santa Rosa and Navarro. It is there n the refurbished creche put out by the rancher south of Hopland. It is in the sign for the Christmas farm on 128. It is in the smell and feel of late harvested pears on sale at Gowans. It is to be seen in the bright, cheerful lights strung with care by Dave at the Navarro store. Alas, with each passing year, such signs are the fewer. As isolate islands of sentiment, they show us all that the desire to hold on to a spirit, call it the hope for joy and fulfillment of one's own spirit, remains true at Christmas time. Does it really matter all that much whether one believes in the stories of Christman, so long as the spirit of it remains strong?
What, then, has become, is becoming, of Christmas in this world of ours? It has come to mean, above all else, a daily accounting of the pace of retail sales. It must grow, else all is lost. It has come to mean the monthly statistics on productivity, which must ever improve regardless of seasonal adjustments or the laying off of workers. It comes to us by way of the hourly stock quotes, Capitalism's barometer of our collective health. To bring us this bounty of cold, hard numbers, we have the phalanxes of well-coiffed news readers and news mavens. They do, admittedly, sprinkle the news with occasional "feel good" stories, dripping with scripted phrasings and obligatory full-faced smiles. But do keep in mind, such stories come after the announcment of the Heisman Trophy winner, what's become of Bernie Madoff, and a hint at the magnitude of record bonuses on Wall Street.
Our foray into the shops of Fort Bragg, by all standards a small to medium venue, highlights how far from the sentiment of the season we have indeed come. In the stores, not one person gave out a "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays" or even the now vapid phrase "Have a Nice Day. Boredome is written on the faces of most of the shop employees. The waitress at the fish restaurant, a nice young woman, expressed concern with the cost of toys for her two children, to say nothing of her unspoken concern for keeping her job. The crabbers on the local radio station broadcast, their boats venturing out of harbor infrequently these days, complain of fish catch limits, ignoring evidence that their livelihood is threatened by dwinding fish stocks and bottom feeding crustaceans. The main streets of Fort Bragg, not unlike the posh main street of Palo Alto, amply shows the state of things in the many empty store fronts, one more sign of the fading away of even the pretence of a happy season.
Time was when the twelve days of Christmas, The Advent, was marked by the airwaves given over to carols, and stories of a mythic time when hope for the world was renewed. It was not essential that one believed in the canons of Christianity to feel the heightened sensations of emotional sentiment it engendered. It did deserve to be recognized and cherished. After all, Christmas (forgive me for not mentioning the many other equally significant such traditions) did mean sharing the bounty of the year, celebrating the end of old time and its travails and the hopeful beginnings of the new times to come. The sun itself would appear each day a little earlier and set a little later at the advance of each new day beyond December 21. To Celebrate, the house was put in order, old debts remitted, new cxlothes put on, and fresh resolves made. Ah, for this cycle of such things to come back into our lives, all our ives. To believe that we can, must, set aside the rash Capitalist dognatisms of our age and return to the sentiments of an earlier time. Perhaps that is why I still persist in putting even the faded and scratched ornament on the tree. Old yearnings with the littlest encouragement do abide.
I believe in a natural order of things, one tied to the seasons and not to economic forecasts, growth curves, productivity measures, and profit alone motives. Even if some wish to call it by another name, for any name can suffice, the sentiments and their emotional pull is what matters. Where is Dickens when we so need a new, or better, or even regenerated story for this time of year we choose to celebrate as Christmas?
NO $55, NO PEACE
This morning on my way to the Catholic Worker breakfast, I went by the Long Haul Infoshop and first of all tore down all of the notices on the outside bulletin board. Then, I posted a message which read: “Fuck you East Bay Food Not Bombs, and explained further that my complaint is due to EBFNB's refusing for eight years to reimburse me $55, which I gave to Acton Street house to temporarily cover EBFNB's utility obligation at the collective house they were cooking at, where I lived. I said eight years ago that I wanted my money back. Eight years later, which is right now, I want my money back to spend on myself. Now, if you desire peace at Christmastime, here's what I want you to do: come by 593 62nd Street (at Shattuck) in Oakland, and leave $55 for me, and then Y-O-U go to EBFNB and get your money back. Otherwise, it isn't possible for me to enjoy a happy holiday with you, because this is just too goddam insane, I'm having a lousy time with no money at the moment, fuck this shit! And that's my message to you.
Craig Louis Stehr,
593 62nd Street, Oakland, CA 94609-1246
PS. Please know that I am skipping the use of Pay Pal, Little Black Cart, The Direct Action Fund, and any other “support your local activist” charities. I didn't bother to cultivate a relationship with the leftist liberals to get in on the take. I'm too busy being about the real. Just send me money. Merry Christmas.
Mark Scaramella's article in the 12/8/2010 AVA was excellent. A couple of comments on what I heard as well.
6/23/2010 — Health and Human Services said in a memo that the Coast Animal Shelter will close because of a Mendocino County budget deficit of $11.6 million. April 6, 2010-The Press Democrat said the County deficit is $7.6. Yourpublicmoney.com said the County has a $130 million deficit that must be paid off over 30 years. About six months ago when checking on the Mendocino County deficit I found articles that said the County deficit was in the mid $60-million range, $60,000,000, because of unfunded liabilities and an Anderson Valley CSD board member verified that number for me. I also checked over the past several years the budgets for the various county departments and there were some significant increases. In particular 2005/2006 Health and Human Services budget was $14.6 million and in 2008/2009 the budget was $20.3 million a whopping 39% increase while the Sheriff's budget went up 7% from 2007 through 2009.
In the meeting with the Supervisors, and other County employees, a woman whose name I don't remember and a county official, said that a sergeant for the County of Mendocino makes $160,000 annually and Sheriff Allman disputed that saying a sergeant makes about $75,000. The woman said that was a base salary and the $160,000 annual wages included fringe benefits. No one in the meeting disputed the $160,000 figure. Sergeants wages start at $73,000+ and go to $83,000+ excluding fringe benefits according to the County’s website. I looked for the fringe benefits for County employees and the information was not available. I did some digging and found that at least two organizations have challenged city, county and state employee unions to produce benefit documents. Those organizations were the Sacramento Bee and the Howard Jarvis Tax organization. Both organizations won their challenge in court but the unions refused to turn over the documents and appealed the court order to the appellate court. According to Howard Jarvis and the Sacramento Bee other unions throughout the State have refused to turn over similar documents as well. Why not turn over the records? They are a public record?
What is the REAL County deficit? Does it include unfunded liabilities such as fringe benefits? How can a Mendocino County employee make more money in fringe benefits that their base wage except through total mismanagement?
If this is starting to worry your readers, the State of California's city, county and state employee unions have $500 billion, $500,000,000,000, in unfunded liabilities according to an extensive study by Stanford University. The unions dispute the number but have not provided any information on what the unfunded liabilities are, however, they do not dispute that there are unfunded liabilities.
Bureau of Labor Statistics states, as of 3/21/2010, that the average private sector employee makes $57,034 which includes the base wage and fringe benefits. The average government employee makes $110,280 which includes the base wage and fringe benefits. The base wage for a government employee is 45% higher than the private sector employee. The government employee fringe benefits are a whopping 70% higher than the private sector employee.
PS: Cut the fringe benefits of County employees to a reasonable percentage and you could put all the laid off employees and those that will be cut back on the payroll. So much for union brotherhood and look out for your fellow member. When the chips are down it is everyone for themselves and that includes leaving out the taxpayers who are picking up the check for the employees and their managers! Forget the funny money that Marijuana will bring to the County. Rome burns and you want to promote drugs to make the deficit pain go away. Wake up Mendocino County to the real problems.
GOLD PLATED CASE
Much thanks to Dorothy Schmidt for setting the record straight on the tarnished movie “Gold.”
It sounds like she's been raked over the coals by some real lowlifes.
I'm not a lawyer but from her account she appears to have a strong legal case against her former “partners.”
The story of Ronan O'Reilly's pirate radio broadcasting ship off the coast of England is documented in the very funny movie, “Pirate Radio” (2009) starring the great actor Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Joe Don Mooney
CAREFUL WHAT YOU ASK FOR
Dear Jim Littlejohn,
Regarding your Letter to the Editor in the 12/8 issue of the AVA— I was heartened to read your account of the recent trip you took with the conservative intellectuals on the Niew Amsterdam. I would appreciate it if you would go into more detail on some of the topics you mention. Generally, I find the conservative viewpoint to be elitist, self-serving and unjust, even more so if Karl Rove is involved. I really could use some hopeful news, and am sincere in this request.
SOMETHING SMART IN MENDO?
Smart Meters are coming to Mendocino County in January. These meters are designed to send periodic meter readings (several a minute) to the Utility and also to communicate with smart appliances via two wireless devices. Most folks are not aware they are coming and will find out about them via the 4-5 problems that is causing the uproar just South of us from Santa Cruz to Santa Rosa and also in San Diego. UCAN (www.UCAN.com ,) a people’s version of the Public Utilities Commission, is monitoring the complaints about Smart meters. To put it mildly it is an scathing rant as rate payers complain of ridiculously high rates post Smart Meter installation, and damage to personal electronic appliances. Recently PG&E sponsored poorly announced Smart Meter, Answer meetings in Willits and Ukiah to ‘calm’ concerned folks. Yet the poor notice and the lack of any explanation of the SM roll-out, left few interested in attending.
There are 4-5 problems with SMs. They can cause anywhere from 100 to 500% increase in billing, damage personal electronic equipment including heaters, air conditioners, TVs and stereos, interrupt wireless devices and turn of GFI outlets. According to the National Institute of Health, wireless devices can interfere with bio-electric implants like indwelling brain electrodes for Parkinson’s disease, epileptic control, hearing devices, pacemakers and other heart control devices, insulin pumps and even metal joints and repairs. The meters are not labeled regarding this. Some folks are discovering heart palpitations, arrhythmia, tinnitus (ear ringing), sleep disorders and head aches post SM installation. One local Willits person had a SM repeater antenna place across from their home and is complaining of sleep problems and irritability in their young family. The family is seriously looking for a new house, but can not sell in this market! And not so obvious is the un-permitted documentation of patterns of power use habits, which will be posted on the net supposedly only for the rate users. These patterns allow one to know when a person wakes or is at home. The sites have been readily hacked in a test by concerned organizations. Furthermore the data can be sold to Smart Appliance manufacturers.
Last summer, State Senator Dean Florez responded to the over 40,000 complaints and demanded an investigation. PG&E paid for an expensive test of the equipment and did not do the investigation that Florez requested.
Meanwhile, the EMF health safety network submitted a demand for a moratorium in to the CPUC, which was recently heard. The demand was originally put on the quick consent calendar which means an instant decision, which would have been dismissal. After many calls by concerned citizens, the issue was move to a regular agenda item where citizens could complain. The CPUC dismissed it anyway. State Assemblyman Jared Huffman of Marin, put forth a bill to modify the Smart Grid Legislation that mandates Smart Meters using ‘Stimulus money.’ Assembly bill 37 allowing concerned citizens to opt out using a plugged in versions of the Smart meter with no moratorium until the bill passed. Concerned citizens are appreciative, but want it to be retroactive and to provide broader plugged in versions to protect sensitive or concern people because SM signal are not restrained to a single house nor is a person in an apartment or condominium protected. One impacted person was allowed to have her SM turned off for wireless signals, but still cannot go in that part of her house.
PG&E says you can call their 800 number to ask for a delay in installation, but is not advertising this. Concerned citizens are informing others to put a weather proof sign on their gas and electric meters saying no Smart meter. They should be bear the resident’s signature and that one take a photo and send it to PG&E and to themselves and not open it as proof of date. Be advised also that PG&E is not installing these meters themselves. They have been using a company called Wellington. Petitions against Smart meters are at the Willits and Mendocino Environmental Centers, Corners of the Mouth, Yorkville store and in stores in Anderson Valley.
One person defined the Smart Meter program clearly, ‘the first and largest mandatory radiation roll-out in history.’ I would add it is an illegal expansion of easement on private property, creating dangerous nuisances, and violations of private property. This process is mandated by the Federal government, signed on by State and supported by the CPUC, the commission that is supposed to be protecting us. One wonders who the government is protecting. The biggest argument in support is the FCC standard which is not relevant; accept that anyone wishing to stop complaints uses it as a gag to stop discussion of health issues. Even the EPA (2004) thinks the standard is inappropriate. Contact Assemblyman Wes Chesbro to support AB 37, State Senators Pat Wiggens, Noreen Evans (468-8914) to get similar process in State Senate. Also demand that the Smart Grid be modified by Congressmen Thompson (962-0933), and Senators Diane Feinstein (415 393-0707) and Barbara Boxer (415 403-0100.) Ask them to have the FCC redefine their wireless standards using relevant science.
If you do not want the hassle of calling PG&E and the CPUC after the Smart Meter is installed providing all of its quirky problems I recommend you get active and do all of the things mentioned in this letter. Once it is installed on your house, removal will be very difficult!
PS. PG&E is already advertising Smart thermostats which can be adjusted by PG&E on hot or cold days for a 4 degree shift. That would be three wifi devices in your home. Imagine if clothing makers discover you have turned down your thermostat?
PSS. The Grange Local food event was a blast. Lots of great food, communing, the chorus and Eight Voices sang a few great songs and a lot of kids did Christmas carols with Lynn. This follows a great Choral concert by the AV chorus and Eight Voices. Gee we are lucky to have such talent.