Letters to the Editor

by AVA News Service, December 23, 2010

ONLY FOUR SCOOPS

To the Editor:

On a rainy Friday afternoon (12.17.10) while on a short trip to the Yorkville area I observed a Mendocino County road maintenance crew sitting in a red Ford crew-cab pickup (License# 006562) parked on the side of Mountain House Road. Inside sat four county work­ers. It was about 11:45am. I thought to myself, well, it’s close to lunch-time, maybe they are parked for the lunch break. Returning at 1:25pm, I find the same county pickup and crew just leaving the spot they had been parked. I followed them back to Hopland, noticing that they had about a half of a wheelbarrow load of asphalt cold-patch in back of their truck.

At this point I was a little curious about what four county workers in one-truck containing about ten shovel-fulls of asphalt patch would actually be accomplishing on a wet day like this. They drove from Mountain House Road, crossing Highway 101, then east on Highway 175 to Old River Road. They headed north past the Fetzer Vineyards bottling plant, passing many large potholes along the way. They finally stopped at one minor looking pothole that was filled with rainwater. All four workers got out of the truck to shovel four scoops of asphalt patch into the pothole. They then re-entered the truck and the driver proceeded to drive the pickup back and forth a few times over the pothole patch to compact the material. They then drove about a quarter mile further up the road (again passing many deserving pothole candidates) to repeat this operation, but this time, only the driver and one of the other workers got out of the truck, leaving the two other workers to enjoy the heater and radio inside. As I a sat parked in my car watching this waste of tax­payer money unfold before me, another passenger car drove past, striking the newly filled pothole, blowing every bit of the new cold-patch out of the wet hole and onto the road. All this in about ten minutes.

As most basically educated people know, oil and water do not mix. To repair a pothole correctly, it must be dry. The hole must be cleaned of any lose material. A heated tacking agent is sprayed over the repair surface, then hot-asphalt applied and vibro-plated into position. That is how a pothole is fixed. All of these operations can be efficiently carried out by one-truck and two workers only.

I do not blame the four-county workers driving around in that red county pickup truck with the ten shovel-loads of coldpatch. I blame the people they report to in the county Transportation Department. These are the people that need to answer for the flawed manage­ment style that seems to permeate not just the Transpor­tation Department, but other departments within the county as well. Why is this? Is it the union’s fault with their work rules that fail common expectations of effi­ciency? Is it management’s fault due to their collective dementia as to the value of money? I am starting to think that they are in a secret pack to defraud the public equally.

Remember the sales tax increase they asked for in November? The 200 million dollars in unfunded pension liabilities that these two groups say the taxpayers of Mendocino County now owe them? These people who send a pickup full of workers to fill potholes in the rain? These witless people are running our County? And we, the citizens are now on the hook for their failed decision making, and that we better “pay-up, or else!” Or else what? They need to answer this simple question.

Regarding other concerns, I am against laying-off Sheriff’s patrol deputies as currently being discussed. But I am afraid that there could be the equivalent red pickup trucks driving around inside the Sheriff’s office also. I believe Sheriff Allman more than I believe the other department heads or the Board of Supervisors. But I know that a job that would be accomplished by one-person in the private sector is usually done by two-peo­ple in the public sector (and at twice the cost per person), and public employees constantly complain that they are over-worked. If all of our tax money is going to salaries and dept-service, then what are we getting in return? Poorly-filled potholes?

The road we are on doesn’t look very good. It cannot be sustained. So why wait? Start the new paradigm with a bankruptcy filing. Fire everyone. Appoint a Marshall-Plan type iconoclast and pay that person several million dollars to re-create an efficiency-based, pro-taxpayer lean government service-providing machine. And do it in six-months, with most of the services (including pothole filling) to be provided by private subcontractors whose compensation is based on performance and quality, not the dusty work rules and pay grades of the past. What about the pensioners that will get pennies on their pen­sion fund dollars? They can join the rest of us.

David Roderick

Hopland

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TEEN TOXICS

Editor,

Buried deep in a recent San Francisco Chronicle arti­cle entitled “Teens' increased pot use worries research­ers” is some really great news: alcohol consumption among teens is down.

Reduced alcohol consumption among American high-school kids means fewer teen drunk-driving inci­dents.

The steering wheel is a source of deadly temptation for a teen on alcohol, and the result is too often fatal.

Conversely, most pot smokers would rather not drive while high on marijuana because the concentration required while driving is a buzz-kill — driving while high is not fun.

Also, if a teen drinks too much alcohol, the result can be death, whereas if a teen smokes too much pot, the result is deep sleep.

I'm not condoning the use of any drug among our youth, but I'd take an increase in marijuana use over an increase in alcohol use any day of the week.

Ken Crews

San Francisco

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HEROES

To the Editor

Julian Assange and Army Pfc. Bradley Manning are not criminals. They are heroes. The criminals are some past and present public officials in Washington D. C. and abroad misrepresenting the people of the United States.

Dan Sweeton

Lebanon, Tennessee


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DICTATING CORRUPTION

Editor,

Will Parrish (‘The Murder of Mark West Creek: Booze, a Banker, & The Bailout,’ AVA, 12/1/2010) opened up a topic that has a five-year plus history that is very complex and full of both large issues and small details. It is inevitable that some small details would get mixed up, like my address being on “Wappo Lane” rather than on St. Helena Road where it actually is.

However, Parrish hit the bull’s eye in pointing out that Sonoma County officials, from the Board of Super­visors down through the working levels of Permit and Resource Management Department, are nothing more than facilitators for the alcohol industry.

I am a former public employee myself, having worked for approximately 12 years for the Engineering Geology Section of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works. From that public employment and from the decades of private industry experience that followed it I can state with certainty that the corruption in Sonoma County is unlike anything I have ever seen, and I have seen a lot. For example, in Los Angeles County alone there are 88 cities and I have submitted reports to many of them.

One need only to attend a Board of Zoning Adjust­ments public hearing to see what I mean. The meetings begin with the County Planner speaking for 30 to 60 minutes about how great the project being considered is. Then the developer and/or his/her representative(s) are given unlimited time to extoll the virtues of the project.

Once the public part of the meeting begins, each mem­ber of the public who wishes to speak is strictly limited to three minutes. Once all the members of the public who wish to speak have done so, the developer and/or his/her representative(s) are given unlimited time to rebut the public testimony. No time, zero, is provided to the public for rebuttal of County and/or developer statements .

The whole process is a Kangaroo Court, a complete sham, and a perversion of the concepts of neutrality by public employees and of public participation. There is no doubt in my mind, based on over 41 years of participa­tion in land use decision making issues, that these cor­rupt practices are dictated by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors.

Ray Waldbaum

Santa Rosa

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I’M OLD

Editor,

I'm old.

Sometimes someone says “Sir.”

It's slightly jarring.

I never was an officer or a gentleman.

But not as jarring as you calling me “buddy.”

(After talking to a union official today.)

Fred Gardner

Alameda

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TARRY MINERALITY

Dear Editor:

Wine sales, the sale of wine paraphernalia and wine tasting is big business in California. It's an industry that contributes significantly to the income of the simple “farmers” in this state.

I have a friend who is a self-professed wine snob. He spends quite a lot of his time buying wine, buying wine paraphernalia and attending wine tastings. He's enthusi­astic and his enthusiasm is contagious. For a while I suc­cumbed to his passion.

I'm now a recovering wine taster.

First off, wine “tasting” is a misnomer. The human palate can distinguish but for tastes: sweet, sour, salt and bitter. All flavors can be described as a combination of these four basic tastes.

(These limitations of our tasting system are very appar­ent when we have a cold.)

Our sense of smell is more discriminating. Humans can distinguish between 10,000 different odors. Thus, a competent wine taster is mostly a wine sniffer.

Nobody is more highly regarded in this field than Rob­ert Parker. One of the most comprehensive articles I've ever read on the subject of wine tasting is about him. The article is from the Atlantic Magazine, December 2000. The name is telling: “The Million-Dollar Nose.”

Wine descriptions are full of fine words. I suspect English majors are employed to write these descriptions using such prose as, “Rich on the nose with some grainy minerality,” “fully ripe succulent fruit,” “tarry, but with lots of strawberry,” “a certain raspberry sort of fruit,” “a raisiny tonic wine” and “with a hint of tobacco.” (Nobody ever mentions the tastes of grape. Odd.)

If you like raspberry or strawberry flavors, buy the fruit or juice. If you're craving the tobacco flavor, take up chewing. If you like a mineral taste, touch a stainless fork to a filling. Tar? Who wants the taste of tar in their wine anyway? The flavors most often mentioned by tast­ers are available in your supermarket. You can buy juices that are bottled, frozen or fresh squeezed. And the differ­ence between bottled and fresh juices is much greater than the difference between cheap and expensive wine — and a whole lot less expensive.

We in California are fortunate. Good wine is readily available and inexpensive. Plus, most of us can't distin­guish (blind tasting) between a $6 and a $60 bottle (except at the register). In fact, most of us can't even reliably distinguish between Coke and 7-Up. (Try it. 10 blind tastings. Flipping a coin gets you five out of 10. See if you can do better.)

We should buy and use wine as they do in Europe — as a beverage. To heck with the sniffing, sucking, gur­gling, spitting and the misty-eyed reverence for this sim­ple substance.

Merry Christmas to all of you at the AVA,

Bart Boyer

San Diego

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THE OTHER WEEDS

Editor,

Weeds. The 21st century is plagued with weeds. Weeds in 2010 have done more damage to the United States of America rangelands than wildfires and grazing combined. And if left unchecked they will diminish California landscapes beyond asphalt spreaders and chainsaws. A plague is an epidemic of high mortality. Therefore, to protect our plants we must first learn to identify California's noxious weeds. Pick up a weed pamphlet at your local feedstore. Then when you dis­cover these evil creatures where you hike, where you bike, or where you park, let the owner know as this action may save the countryside from unnecessary destruction and you will help preserve nature. Better yet, purchase some new bugs now on the market which have been bred to attack specific plants. The solution to this weed epidemic shall be organic — a mold, a fungus, or an insect shall consume the noxious seed pods. Olé.

Diana Vance

Mendocino

PS. Farina bangs her 'I don't like noxious weeds but no insecticide' dish on our weed ridden coast.

PPS. “The General's reward is not a bigger tent, but command,” Napoleon said. Suburban vegetational armed addition. Unfortunate Oedipina, with toes pointed in opposite directions. Our business practices destroy life on Earth. The rate and the extent of environmental deg­radation is in excess of safe, clean or wholesome. Song­birds, frogs, fireflies disappear. Business is predatory. Capitalism does not honor life. Vassal serfs believed a bad lord is better than no lord. Corporate atheism, “Doing the right thing.” Corporate, burdensome, intru­sive America. Life without sex is pedestrian, Fumo, ergo sum. We don't see the statistics but read about what they said in a magazine: nod ink in the ink wells. Never, not ever. A small bust of Lenin stood on the shelf. “I sup­pose you believe Americans are dropping potato bugs from airplanes.” She was destined to fall, a September Apple, into the hands of whoever reached for her. Oh, the intolerable hurt we feel when criticized by someone we respect. “They offer us the whole lake, but they give us a mud puddle.” Catherine ruled Russia. Potemkin ruled Catherine. Potemkin's moods swung from bound­less enthusiasm to despair. “My Peacock, my Cossack, my golden pheasant, my lion, incapable of faithlessness.” Power and poetry are the two things that most fascinate women. Potemkin worked to get Mozart to Moscow but Mozart died, 1756-91. Catherine fell on her way to the toilet into a coma. Three days later she died, uttering a terrible scream. Alexander was a master of the “smile of the eyes.” He corresponded with Thomas Jefferson about the constitutional structure of the United States. People idolized Alexander and called him “the Blessed.” Mos­cow burned itself rather than nourish the French. Napo­leon watched the conflagration from atop the Ivan Bell Tower in the Kremlin and wrote, “Such tactics have no precedent in the history of civilization — to burn one's own cities — a demon inspires these people. What sav­age determination. What a people!” 40,000 men returned from the greatest military catastrophe in history. 36,000 French dead in the Bistra “Quickly” River. On March 31, 1814, the Russians liberated Paris to wild cheering crowds. Proverbs: the past is not a bad witness. The devil is always dressed in the latest fashion. The truth has seven sides. We don't live uphill, but downhill. If you don't oil your wheels you won't get there. From honest toil you do not build mansions. The devil works quick. God's work is slow. Russians plant birch trees by the dead. The English are concerned with honor but have no religion. California has brown hills.

PPPS: Editor, columnist that you are, you neglected the 'e' in Westminster Abbey in my ‘Aphoristic Intent’ letter on December 8. If I were editor I would have called Todd Walton’s ‘Happiness’ article, ‘Aphoristic Cement.’ In this article Todd says he's 61, born on October 17. As my birthday is this Friday, December 17, Todd is three years and two months ahead of me. Wehe. “So dark the con of man” is an acronym for “Madonna of the rocks.”

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OBAMA-BREAKS FOR PARIS

Editor,

Tax Cuts for the Rich—

The debate over tax cuts for the rich showed who's really on our side. Republicans held hostage the middle class and unemployed in order to get a millionaire tax bailout for their rich friends.

The Bush tax breaks have been on the books for eight years, and since then we've seen nothing but job losses. Tax breaks for the rich don't create jobs or help the economy.

The deal has not one but two millionaire bailouts. The deal will slash the estate tax, also known as the “Paris Hilton tax.” This second bailout will give a gigan­tic tax giveaway to a few thousand of the richest families in the country and add hundreds of billions to the national debt.

In addition to cutting income taxes for the rich, the bill threatens Social Security by lowering the payroll tax, which funds Social Security. Republicans have been coming after Social Security for years, and this cut is the biggest threat to the program in decades.

We want to thank our Representative Thompson for voting against this terrible decision.

Dan Mandelbaum & Benna Kolinsky

Boonville

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A FEW MORE MONTHS

To: Kathleen Stone, Mendocino County Health and Human Services Agency, Social Services Branch, 747 South State Street, Ukiah, CA 95482

Ms Stone:

I am wondering why clients are continuing to be exited from the Buddy Eller Center (BEC) Homeless Shelter for reason those clients have exhausted their limit of a six-month stay? I realize the importance of main­taining the BEC as an Emergency Shelter for purposes of securing future funding from the Federal Emergency Shelter Grant. However, due to the fact the BEC did not receive said grant for the current funding year, is there any way possible that clients might have their stay at the BEC extended — at least throughout the winter months?

Thank you,

James Melvin Pike, Junior

Ukiah


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LEAKAGE

Dear Editor:

The interesting factor in the WikiLeaks affair is that a lowly 23 year old PFC could access and copy 250,000 confidential diplomatic cables with no one the wiser. Apparently, no one was aware of the security breach until the PFC was ratted out by an internet confidant. All the huffing and puffing by the U S Attorney General to find grounds to prosecute Assange is just a bunch of CYA to cover up the incompetence of the military and other government agencies involved in this fiasco. The U S won't be able to extradite Assange. Even if the UK or Sweden were agreeable to extradition he can appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. Given its backlog of cases it would be some time before his case would be heard. Plus when one considers the human rights viola­tions by the Bush Administration I doubt if the Court would have much sympathy for the US case.

In peace,

James G. Updegraff

Sacramento

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PEACEFUL DEATH

Dear Editor,

Merry December and Happy New Year. Interesting news earlier revealed that the state of Oklahoma exe­cuted a convicted convict by using Pentobarbital which seems to have aroused many of the righteous. Here we have yet another example of stupidity.

Pentobarbital is actually the best drug that could be used to end a life. It is used to euthanize non-human animals all the time. Humans used to use various forms of this drug even in operating rooms. The popular name for it is Nembutal.

Nembutal is not an analgesic but it does put one to sleep for a while, or forever. 6mg taken orally will end a human life in a half hour or more — very peacefully. Taken in an IV form it is nearly instantaneous -- no pain whatsoever.

States, including our own California, are stupid when objecting to capital punishment because of a lack of means. Nembutal is not unlike barbiturates which used to be used recreationally until too many erroneous over­doses made this so unpopular that those drugs were removed from the market as Nembutal has been.

Nembutal should be used for state euthanasia of crimi­nals and also made available, as in Oregon, as a means for self-deliverance when those who are suffering no longer want to be kept in painful captivity by a soci­ety governed by irrational legislation, religion and propaganda.

Nembutal is the most peaceful means for that final exit of those who suffer or those who are guilty.

The bottom line is that we all will die sooner or later. No reason to make a mess of it when the time comes by making it complicated. Dying is not rocket science.

Carl Flach

Alameda

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DELIVER THE GOODS

To Craig Louis Stehr,

Are you “Sane for a Day” (re: Your Ltr to Ed, Nov. 11, 2010), or not? Then… what are you still doing in Oakland? I thought you were DC-bound long ago. I don’t know. Maybe being sane for a day is what kept you from being able to make that move. Conspiratorialists seem to be valued more than protesters. Maybe if, by tale, you were to conspiratorialize the actions of the DC Indy Media Center, the IMF, the World Bank… you might start to be appreciated more. There is always mutual aid for those who say it like (that) is. (That is, they will pay you to make other people think you are crazy.) I’m just saying, dude…

Stay sane. Stay awake. Grunts and gripes and dislikes are one thing. To protest is to say a lot more, and to be a protester without anything real(ly) to say is to be appre­ciated by your (own) self.

We want the goods, we want the “inside” story. We want to hear what you’re protesting about. California is a state of the union (Washington being the union). But, California is also a major entity and world player. Alameda County is a hot bed of conspiratorial pokes which primarily arise from the legal battles and ruliness so totalitarianly meted out in special interest lots. It appears then that as this area is your current venue you would be focusing your campaign attentions on those immediate influences around you which rival anything DC has going. Let’s see what you got.

Kenneth Johnson AVA Reader

Represa

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CHECKING OUT

Hi Kids,

Cooney here, just checking in as ever. You guys put out one heckuva paper. I'm referring to the December 1 edition with Will Parrish's always excellent writing. I live in Marin County right next door to Sebastopol and I had no idea of the serious assault on the countryside by Big Grape. The Russian River in danger? Thanks for the info about more crooked politicians bent over a wine barrel just like Big Grape likes ’em.

Your cartoon on page 4, I'd like to see more of his/her work. And of course I can't say enough good stuff about Dan O'Neill and Odd Bodkins. I recall him from the San Francisco Chronicle days with Norton The Motorcycle. The old M&M saloon.

I get out soon and for the very first time I don't think I got one comin'. Instead, I'll be checking out a meeting and from there I want to find a spot where I can get involved with the sort of people who read the AVA and I want to do something about some of the stuff I see the corporate bastards putting over on the just folks.

I guess we'll just have to wait and see about that, but that's what I propose.

Thanks much,

P. Cooney

Soledad


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BAH HUMBUG, SQUARED

Mr. Anderson:

As idiot neighbors light up their lawns with images from the American pantheon ranging from Rudolph, Frosty, the Seven Dwarves, and Santa, to the Blessed Whore and her Holy Bastard, I recall these words:

“It was a very different world in ancient times. God filled the ancient skies and demons lurked in a shadowy underworld, their awesome activities controlling human affairs. It was an age of superstition which Webster defines as a belief resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, or a false conception of causation.

“It was an age in which miracles were viewed as com­mon occurrences rather than breaches of the natural law because in those days there was no natural law to breach. Science had not yet come into its own and placed boundaries on human imaginings. And it was in this miliéu that the coming of a man of God, Christ, was announced, and in time, accepted.

“Of course, Christ had followed a long succession of man gods in the world, many of whom were said to have performed prodigies, and who shared with Christ the tra­dition of a virgin birth, a divine nature, a resurrection, and an ascension. And so it appears that the miracles surrounding Christ, including his divine nature, were very likely modeled on the miracles of more ancient cultures and are therefore mythical.” — Tom Flynn

Perhaps the last word on the ascension of Jesus belongs to Joseph Campbell who in a lecture once noted that had Jesus ascended at the speed of light he would not have cleared our galaxy by the year 2000.

I hate the December holidays. Christmas springs from the fiction written by the authors of the gospels of Mark and Matthew, Chanukah is a pathetic attempt by Jews to invent a holiday to compete with Christmas, and Kwanza began as a skit on Saturday Night Live.

Here's what the Encyclopedia Britannica offers about the origin of Christmas:

“The reason Christmas came to be celebrated on December 25 remains uncertain, but most probably the reason is that early Christians wished the day to coincide with the pagan Roman festival marking the “birthday of the unconquered sun” (natalis solis invicti), this festival celebrated the winter solstice when the days begin to lengthen and the sun begins to climb higher in the sky.”

Natalis solis invicti — now that's a real Holy-day. It originated with the terror of primitive peoples that the sun would sink into the southern horizon and never be seen again. When it reversed its descent and its arc once again began to rise, they celebrated this “miracle.” Long live the solstice! Long live natalis solis invicti.

Screw Jesus, his virgin mama, and its flatulent, sadis­tic old man, Jehovah.

Already the supermarkets have begun to play carols and I must repress the urge to bring a shotgun with me when I go shopping to shoot out the speakers and off a few Christians.

Peace on earth, goodwill to men, and may the last king be hanged with the entrails of the last priest, as Diderot once wished.

Lewis Bedrock

Roselle, New Jersey

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GIMME SHELTER

Dear friends,

We need your monetary help to continue to meet the costs of providing housing for some 50 low and very low income residents of Anderson Valley in our two existing facilities and also to expand the services we offer for those with housing needs.

In 2009 the Anderson Valley Housing Association conducted a housing needs assessment in Anderson Valley covering 250 individuals who represent a cross-section of people who rent their homes in Anderson Valley. The survey substantiates and documents the need for more affordable housing should there have been any doubt. The survey results emphasize the need for:

more family housing, specifically two- and three-bed­room rental homes and/or apartments for very low to moderate income households; housing for new teachers in the coming decade as older faculty and staff retire; more clean, safe housing for the Valley's indispensable agricultural workforce including housing for unaccom­panied men; affordable housing for families with chil­dren under 18 years of age, for families in this group spend a disproportionate amount of their income on rent and consequently less on food and health care for the young.

The lack of affordable housing affects every resident and business in the Anderson Valley. Substandard rental housing imposes additional public health burdens on our already stressed public health facilities.

Our deepest thanks to those of you who helped us in the past. We hope that each recipient of this letter will support the cause of safe and clean affordable housing for all who need it. Donations are tax deductible. Please consider sending the AV Housing Association $50 or $100 or more commensurate with your own capacities.

Sincerely yours,

William W. Sterling, President,

Anderson Valley Housing Association

PO Box 341, Philo CA 95466

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ALL LAUGHING ASIDE

Dear Mr. Editor,

Having just read Luke Gutmann’s letter in all of its “Gangsta Glory” in the 12/8 AVA, I could not help but laugh out loud. This is the same so-called “gangsta” who snitched on four of us inmates in the County Jail for pos­sessing tobacco. All laughing aside, this individual rep­resents a disgusting element of our community that needs to be dealt with accordingly. This is a difficult thing to do when we have incompetent detectives and prosecutors setting them free. Perhaps we should put public defender Linda Thompson in the DA’s office, being as she is the only one who seems capable of sending people to prison.

Say a prayer for Mendocino County — we all need one.

Respectfully yours,

Alan ‘Sonny’ Crow

Avenal

PS. In typical parasitic fashion, Mr. Gangsta Gutmann brags about drinking coffee and watching his TV then goes on to ask for a free subscription to the AVA. What a lame!


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THE MONOPOLOCRATS

Editor,

Competition and Accountability—

It may be old hat as I have delved into these two sub­jects forever. But low and behold they have come home to roost. I again bring them up as our national debt has mushroomed from $6 trillion in 2001 to $8 trillion in 2006 to its present record of $14 trillion dollars and growing like crazy.

Again I use the world monopoly which has also mushroomed, particularly in the public sector and into many segments of our economy. Everyone says yes, open competition is the lifeblood of our country for everyone. But not for my job. It has to have security and protection against everything.

Let’s start at the top: political campaign contributions have about doubled every election. Politicians have made the laws that allow this to happen. They will say they are doing something about this bribery, but the fact is they dramatically increased every election and except for the last election due to the state of the economy incumbents got elected 90% of the time — a “monopoly.”

Then there are all the heads of corporations and their boards of directors who give lavishly to campaign cof­fers so that elections by their shareholders (the owners) are only advisory even when passed by huge majorities — thank to campaign contributions to politicians who make the rules. Imagine us telling people all over the world about democracy and destroying its most sacred thing: elections — a “monopoly.”

Then the medical profession, one of the largest givers of campaign contributions. Forty years ago if one went to a hospital without insurance, it didn’t bankrupt a person and medical insurance was affordable compared to your income. We outsource all kinds of things but apparently not doctors — a “monopoly.”

The legal profession is another big giver of campaign contributions. We have twice as many lawyers per 1000 population than any other country in the world. In addi­tion to campaign contributions they are the main makers of the laws as well; and the judges are ex-lawyers — a “monopoly.”

Government employee unions have become so power­ful that pay and benefits have gotten so far out of balance that it threatens the very existence of our finan­cial system to the detriment of everyone. Since we have to have government and government unions have no competition, they are the biggest “monopoly.”

Monopolies only bring higher prices and poorer serv­ice for everyone. Our laws say monopolies are illegal but since the government lets them exist and prosper we’ve got a big problem.

Emil Rossi

Boonville

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WORKER MYTHS

Editor:

Re: ‘Liability Slinging.’ Bryant Whittaker’s Letter (12/15/10)

First They (you decide who “They” are) destroyed the unions where workers had decently paid jobs, healthcare and pensions. Then They destroyed the rest of the pensions by asserting that all you needed was your 401(k) for a comfortable retirement. Then They tried to destroy Social Security by privatizing it. That failed, but They are back after it again. Now They are working to destroy the wages and benefits of public employees.

Having destroyed all of the above, Their argument is unbeatable: “Why should those overpaid bureaucrats get decent pay and benefits when you in the private sector cannot.” We humans are like crabs in a pot. We drag down those trying to climb out rather than cooperating to help everyone get out. Instead of demanding that yet one more category of worker be stripped of a living wage and decent benefits direct your anger at “Them.” Work toward a goal of everyone having a decent wage, and health care, and a livable pension.

As for the wage comparison numbers in Bryant Whit­taker's letter, see http://factcheck.org/2010/12/are-fed­eral-workers-overpaid/. Although he was talking mostly about Mendocino County his wage numbers seem to come from recent discussions about the pay of Federal employees. As usual, seemingly simple “truths” such as the wage comparisons in his letter are much more com­plicated than he presented.

When you read the Fact Check article you will find such things as:

• Federal civilian workers are more educated. 44% of Federal Employees have college degrees vs 19% in the private sector.

• The federal government has a higher proportion of white-collar jobs. Lower-skilled (and lower-paid) posi­tions have been contracted out to private industries in recent years, raising the average pay of federal civilian employees. Blue collar jobs were 21% of the Federal work force in 1985. Now it is only 10%.

• There is no real job-by-job study of the wages of Federal vs private sector workers.

• The Federal work force is older than the private sec­tor and so wages are higher.

There are fewer Federal workers now than in the late 1960s when the population was about one half of what it is now.

There is more. Read the Fact Check article. At least know the truth.

John Steiner

Manchester


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SEALS STADIUM MEMORIES

Editor,

I didn’t know about Dave Righetti’s dad, but thanks for the compliment. But I do have a Seals Stadium mem­ory. It was 1959 and I was on my way to college. My godfather got us seats in the front row between third and home. Giants versus the Cardinals, before they built Candlestick. Mays was thrown out at the plate. I can’t remember whether he was trying to score from first on a double or from second on a short single to the outfield. But I remember him rounding third, squealing with delight. The ball got there way before he did. Mays slid into the catching who screamed as he tagged him out: “Take that, you black bastard!” — 1959.

Mays, along with everything else, is a pretty good talker and storyteller. I remember two of his quips. After the famous catch in the 1954 World Series, a sports writer asked him to compare it to some of his other catches. To which Mays replied:

“I don’t compare ’em. I just catch ’em.”

The other remark I just happened to hear in a post-game interview with Lon Simmons was still doing then.

Simmons: “Willie, they say that now that you are a little older you don’t like that high hard one, a little bit inside.”

Mays: “Who do?”

Frank Bardacke

Watsonville

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HUNTING WITH CHARLEY

Dear Editor,

I'm reading Travels with Charley. His writing reminds me of the AVA’s — same wicked and self-deprecating sense of humor. Here is a passage about hunting and though hunting season is nearly over and the passage is a mite long for the AVA, thought you'd enjoy it.

“If I were hungry, I would happily hunt anything that runs or crawls or flies, even relatives, and tear them down with my teeth. But it isn't hunger that drives mil­lions of armed American makes to forests and hills every autumn, as the high incidence of heart failure among the hunters will prove. Somehow the hunting process has to do with masculinity, but don't quite know how. I know there are any number of good and efficient hunters who know what they are doing; but many more are over­weight gentlemen, primed with whisky and armed with high-powered rifles. They shoot at anything that moves or looks as though it might, and their success in killing one another may well prevent a population explosion. If the casualties were limited to their own kind there would be no problem, but they slaughter of cows, pigs, farmers, dogs and highway signs makes autumn a dangerous sea­son in which to travel.” (Steinbeck, fall of 1961).

Regards,

John Wester

San Diego

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TIN FOIL HAT ALERT!

Hey AVA,

I am doing another radio show on Smart Meters on January 4th from 7-8pm on KZYX 90.7 and 91.5 FM or www.kzyx.org on line. I would call it an informational program with updates as to how people can protect themselves and get involved. I am interviewing the woman at the lead of the EMF Safety Network, Sandi Maurer and plan to have a very open show for callers to get info or connect. Maurer is very informed, very articulate, and a major shaker on this and other RF issues.

With PG&E (AKA Piggy, PG$E) breathing down our necks with the Smart Meter rollover, bulldoze through, etc. in Mendocino county, it is important for folks to act quickly. PG&E intends to begin in January with Wellington company running stealth interference with their meter. You must mark your gas and electric meters with a sign that says, “no smart meters!” and call PG&E to say the same. Wellington, appears to pay attention to the “no Smart meter” signs. We will have a printed stick on label available county wide fairly quickly, along with signs for yards and banners.

PG&E provides important services. Their crews and support staff are incredible but this corporate mandatory rollover of radiation on every house is beyond their bounds. Privacy, easement violations, damage to per­sonal equipment and health is not acceptable. I have heard that the Republican party of Sonoma is against this, as are the Eagles, Patriots and Tea Party folks. One of the head folks in Sonoma's conservative movement calls it PG&E's “Spymeter.” Apparently no one except the Utility heads want it. They need to turn up the routers in their office to fry some grey cells and send us their GPS movements, credit card numbers etc. We must have the right to know! I jest and digress.

Seriously, Mendocino county residents need to take action know because removing the privacy stealing, overcharging, health attacking, sort of Smart Meter will be next to impossible. Countywide a network of con­cerned citizens is prepping for this latest attack of cor­porate lunacy. If they say it is mandated, than one better understand that the utilities have lobbied the mandate from our Federal government. We could gain the same knowledge of use via phone modems and without Inter­net displays of our use patterns.

Americans have the right to refuse more intrusion into their lives and the nuisance of devices that will have them on PG&E's perpetual consumer line trying to get overcharges removed, personal device damage reports made and the Smart Meter irradiation device shut off, so they can sleep and live as before.

Concerned folks who want to get involved, get stick­ers or get more facts can contact me at toxictrespass@saber.net or 707-895-2667.

Greg Krouse

Philo

Refuse Smart Meters in Mendocino

PS. In a rush? One can get the stickers at www.refusesmartmeters.com.

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MOVE TO AMEND

Editor,

There’s a movement afoot — one you don’t want to miss. It’s a movement to take a stand against the Corpo­rate Takeover of America. That’s already happened, you know. It happened when corporations became ‘persons’ with all the rights of an individual and even more rights like individual members of a corporation cannot be sued in a corporate lawsuit. We’ve been living with this strange form of justice for a very long time now.

And come January 21st it will have been a year, since the Supreme Court ruling to remove all limits on how much money Corporations could spend to “buy the future” for their personal interests.

These invaders of what’s left of our Constitution are not so big in numbers, compared to all the rest of us, but they are all powerful and they are ruthless.

Now an army of patriots are joining forces all over the country – many thousands of people. We are com­mitted to Amending the Constitution that enabled Cor­porations to take control. Go to www.movetoamend.org and you’ll find that it’s happening right in your own backyard, right now.

On Wednesday, January 12th, there’s a local public meeting to prepare for the next Fort Bragg City Council Meeting. There, the case for salvaging our Constitution will be discussed and presented. The January 12th meeting at 7:00 pm will be at the City Library and everyone is encouraged to attend and contribute. City Council Meetings are always open to the public and attendance is encouraged.

Mavis Matthews

Mendocino

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