Letters to the Editor 8/05/2009
by Letters to the Editor, August 5, 2009
ADVOCATE GIVES LAW BREAKER A PASS
The editor of the Fort Bragg Advocate News just told me she could not publish the below letter because it would open her up to liability regarding a former public official (out of office for three or four months) even though she published a piece two weeks ago about the decision of the Fair Political Practices Commission against him and a defense of him last week. This is a sad day for journalism in Mendocino when the Fort Bragg Advocate-News refuses to publish the truth about public officials who get away with breaking the law without getting fined.
This is not the end of the road to get the word out. If the Advocate News will not publish it, there are outlets with more guts that will. There is nothing in here that is libelous. Everything in here is true and is documented.
Maybe the AVA will print it. They have my permission to do so. As does the Press Democrat and the San Fran Chron.
Watchdog Nips Caspar South — Too Late
The Fair Political Practices Commission is California's political watch dog.
Its finding against the Caspar South sewer board leader, Dave Berry, illustrates how underfunding results in long delayed decisions which invite violation of the conflict of interest law statewide.
Mr. Lock “hoped” in the pages of the Advocate News that the FPPC's failure to impose a fine when closing the case means Berry's conflcit wasn't so bad. Who wants a septic field next to them?
That the agency never considered Mr. Locke's hope brings to mind John Adams' words: “Facts are stubborn things. Whatever may be our wishes, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”
The Berry case was decided solely on the law which says you cannot participate in a governmental decision if your property is within 500 feet of a proposed purchase. No investigation of any facts was made except to look at a map.
The FPPC neither investigated nor determined these facts:
• Berry's ocean view preserved; septic fields don't stink.
• He pursued purchase without assessing if the old field was ok.
• Ten other properties don't keep an ocean view through the purchase.
Thirty five months passed before the FPPC decided the Berry case without a fine. Why?
Less than ten people get fines yearly, because the FPPC's budget is around $7 million; it has seven enforcement lawyers; and it has over 700 cases piled up. Obviously, it fines less than 1% of the cases like this it reviews.
Still headlines read:
• George Soros, $8,000 fine after five years: late reporting $350,000.
• Bustamonte, $263,000 fine: illegally taking $3.8 million casino money.
• Jerry Brown appoints Bustamonte campaign director, Ms Montgomery, to FPPC Board of Directors June, 2009. The FPPC may yet reopen the Berry case if it properly considers:
• Berry did not recuse himself when asked not to participate
• Berry worked in Sacramento for the State as a Phd toxicologist.
• Rate payers plunked down $24,000 on a downpayment on false facts — the money has not yet, to my knowledge, been refunded after an engineer subsequently determined the existing septic field was working just fine and a new field was not needed.
• Berry bared the engineer from communicating with residents about the “study” which cost about $ 48,000 and was wasteful, because other professionals told Berry the investigation was unnecessary
These facts — and others too numerous to mention here — showing Berry brazenly pursued purchase, when purchase was unnecessary, justify a fine.
The FPPC is not authorized to investigate frauds alleged, but both the DA and a court have authority to consider multiple frauds in the complaint and whether the facts justify a fine in the Berry Case.
In a time of red ink, the best way to prevent wasting dollars is to unleash the watchdog. If the Legislature funded the FPPC properly, neither the courts nor DA would be burdened.
When the decision came down in the Berry case, he was already out of office. If officials know the case will be decided after they are long gone, law breaking is encouraged. If nothing is the price of breaking the law, law breakers will not hesitate.
In California today, unpunished violations of the conflict law occur too often. Waste and corruption are related to few violators being fined and decisions taking one to five years.
As PJ O'Rourke says, “Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to a teenaged boy.” The FPPC should catch those officials who are just as reckless.
But how can a watchdog do that without teeth?
NO SOUND ALIKES
Your proofreader managed to make my last letter even more confusing than it was. In a reference to James Branch Cabel's “Jurgen,” I mentioned Koshchei, who made things as they are. Your team somehow made this over to “Coach Toshi” (who, if memory serves) was an early advocate of bisexual showers at your high school. I can see how you may wish to twit pretentious literary allusions, but can you please keep your pet local perverts off my joke? And read “Jurgen,” you’re in it.
Port Townsend (formerly San Narcisco)
COPS’ COP RETIRES
I would like to take this opportunity to announce my retirement from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department and Law Enforcement. The 25 years that I served this community as a corrections deputy, deputy sheriff, detective, sergeant, lieutenant, captain and interim sheriff seemed to go by fast.
I enjoyed my career and I am looking forward to a new chapter in my life.
I want to thank my family, friends and coworkers for all their support over the years. The success that I enjoyed, I owe to them. I also want to thank the community for allowing me to serve them.
A FINE RHYME
Dear Name Withheld,
Good rhyme on 7/29.
DEMS FOR DEATH
Recently Rep. Mike Thompson parroted the Obama healthcare plan line to the local chain papers. He neglected to include the names in Congress with allegiance to the healthcare industry. Let’s examine that.
The LA Times reported on July 22: “Executives from health insurers, drug makers, doctors and other players in the healthcare debate met secretly with President Obama in the White House. Included were the following: Billy Tauzin, president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, Karen Ignagni, president of America’s Health Insurance Plans; William Weldon, chairman and CEO of Johnson & Johnson, and J. James Rohack, president of the AMA. PhRMA, representing the nation’s drug companies, said it had taken part in two meetings with senior White House officials, including Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel, as well as CEOs of some major drug companies. Both meetings were closed to the public. Tauzin said most of the ‘real negotiations’ took place with the Senate Finance Committee.”
Billings (Montana) Gazette, July 31: The Senate Finance Committee includes several well known members of Congress with monetary links to the healthcare insurance sectors: Max Baucus (D-MT): $14.8 million; Charles Grassley (R-Iowa): $9.8 million; Ted Kennedy (D-Mass): $16.5 million; John Tester (D-MT): $6.3 million. And Rep. D. Rehberg (R-MT): $3.1 million.
And President Obama: $245 million.
From Single Payer Action: Dr. David Himmelstein, founder of Physicians for a National Health Plan, stated that Dr. Howard Dean (former head of the Democratic National Committee): “is a liar.” Dean is currently promoting Obama’s healthcare reform. Himmelstein continues: “Dean is portraying Obamacare as something it is not. It isn’t single payer as Dean has said it is. It doesn’t give Americans the option to opt into a single payer system.” … “The average American should best think of it as Medicare,” said Dr. Dean to Democracy Now. Himmelstein says the Obama plan would mandate people buying from competing private plans, and one denuded public plan. The private health insurance companies would cherry pick the young and healthy, while sick older patients would opt into the public plan making healthcare unsustainable. “The upcoming congressional vote on the Obama healthcare plan has little significance because it does not represent fundamental reform,” said Himmelstein.
From Yahoo.com Finance, June 12: A few senators with healthcare ties: Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT), whose wife is a paid member of the boards of Javelin Pharmaceuticals, Cardiome Pharma, Brookdale Senior Living and Pear Tree Pharmaceuticals. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va), honorary chairman of Alliance for Health Reform, representatives include United Health insurance company; AFL-CIO labor union; AARP; Cigna Corp. and United Health fund, NY. Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) disclosed $250k-$500k from Bristol-Myers Squibb stock, $15k each from Merck, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Agilent Technologies. Senator Kyl (R-AZ): $50k from Amgen. Kyl’s retirement account holds stock in the following: Wyeth, Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, and AstraZeneca, Tenet Healthcare, CVS, Genentech and MetLife.
As much as I’d like to see enactment of Single Payer Healthcare, I don’t have much hope. Perhaps “our” congressman, Mr. Thompson, will now tell us why he has not met with advocates Single Payer. Let’s hear from him.
There is a snowballing trend toward court victories for medical cannabis collectives in Mendocino County. From Sutherlin (2007), a 4-person collective acquitted at trial, to Sutherland (2009), a four-person collective with charges dismissed at prelim, Senate Bill 420's protective clause is actually protecting patients, as intended, for those who do it right and follow the law.
The purpose of SB420 is:
“to enhance access for patients and caregivers to medical marijuana through collective cooperative cultivation projects.”
Since the Attorney General released 2008 Guidelines on how to be legal under this clause, there is increasing preference for joining with others in collective membership associations, organized for the common good as an alternative to individual profit.
By forfeiting the profit mode, collectives gain extra legal protections to sell and distribute medicine to the membership within a closed-loop cycle. “The cycle should be a closed-circuit of marijuana cultivation and consumption with no purchases or sales to or from non-members.” There are no limits on the number of patients able to join a collective association.
This approach is fast becoming the norm for how to organize cultivation of medical cannabis. Guidelines on local implementation of state law are invalid without inclusion of collectives and cooperatives.
• Sutherlin (2007) 4-person medical cannabis collective. Jury trial acquittal. Defense attorney: Ed Denson
• Laura Hamburg (2008) 4-person family collective. Dismissal of all charges due to illegal search and seizure based on 'intentional omission of material fact'. Defense attorney: Keith Faulder.
• Luke Strauss & Joe Maligno (April 3, 2009). Collective membership association with two Redwood Valley patients growing 400 pounds for West Hollywood Center for Compassionate Healing, a storefront dispensary providing medicine to 1000+ patients. Hung jury 7-5 in favor of acquittal, based on the conclusion of the majority of jurors that defendants were following the Attorney General Guidelines on Collectives under state law. Charges were not refiled. This watershed case shows a Mendo jury will not convict based on quantity alone, without also knowing how many patients are being provided the medicine. Defense attorneys: E.D. Lerman & David Nick.
David and Cara Lampach (April 30 2009) Collective membership organization growing 50 pounds in Willits for storefront dispensary, Harborside Collective, in Oakland. After two offers of rejected plea bargains, all charges were dismissed by DA the same day. Defense attorney: Ann Cole-Wilson.
Shelton Sutherland (July 24 '09). 4-person patient collective. All considered in compliance with state and local law. Dismissed at prelim based on illegal search and seizure due to medical purposes being withheld from the judge in requesting a criminal warrant. Defense attorneys: Tony Serra and Omar Figueroa.
* * *
The public is invited to a MMMAB/Patients Union pot luck dinner and brainstorming session to discuss plans and perspectives for dealing with:
a) coming BOS nuisance legislation.
b) confiscations and prosecutions during the current growing season.
c) how to form collective cooperative membership associations in compliance with AG Guidelines.
Mendocino Medical Marijuana Advisory Board
Letter to the Editor
As an 89-year-old native San Franciscan who now lives in Bologna, Italy, I would like to offer a comparison between health care in the United States and Italy. My experience convinces me of the need for a strong governmental health care program as put forth by President Obama.
In 1966, I was a professor of economic history at Cornell University when I was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to teach in Bologna for a year. On the first day of my first week in Italy, while attending a professors’ meeting in Rome, my wife and I were hit by a car that ran a red light. We were hospitalized for several days, returned to Bologna for further care, and that was that. Cost: $0.00.
When I returned to teach in Bologna in the 1980s, after continuing my teaching career at UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz and San Jose State, I was again struck by a car and hospitalized. Cost: $0.00.
During my subsequent life in Italy, where I moved after my wife died and where I married my present Italian wife, I have been hospitalized several times — thankfully, not for any more confrontations with Italian drivers. Cost: $0.00.
As I aged, I did have to pay for always more medications. The costs were at least as high as in the United States, the equivalent of $200-$300 monthly. But that changed a few years ago (while continuing my US citizenship and taxes) when I became an official resident of Bologna. I now have a little health card and a family doctor, who sends me to specialists when needed. My privileges are the same as the Italians. Cost: $0.00.
When I present pharmacists with my many prescriptions, they are filled. Cost: $0.00.
Meanwhile, as a US citizen, I continue to pay what economists refer to as “health taxes” — health insurance premiums, Medicare and Medicaid taxes, etc. In the United States, we pay the world’s highest health taxes, and much of the money is squandered. The wealthy get tax breaks, and HMOs and drug companies pocket billions in profits at the taxpayers’ expense.
Americans have long been told that we have the “best health care system in the world” and taught to fear “socialized medicine” for its alleged absence of choice in personal physicians, long waiting lists for surgeries, etc. From my experience, such charges are absurd, ridiculous, and deceitful.
In short, we have allowed ourselves to be robbed, with substantial dangers to our health. President Obama needs our active political support if health is to take the place of thievery.
BOOZE FOR POOCHES
Letter to the Editor
Animal Rescue of Anderson Valley would like to extend thanks to Anderson Valley Brewing Company for their generous donation to our rescue center. AV Brewing Company donated over $65,000 to local non-profits this year after the Beerfest. We are so lucky to have support like that in this community. AVBC also made donations to the PTA, The Senior Center, The Lions Club, The Education Foundation, The Volunteer Firefighters, and many others. Without the help we get from donations like this, AVAR would not be able to spay, neuter, nurse, and find homes for nearly as many cats and dogs. Animals and people in the valley are very grateful for this contribution.
Thank you, Anderson Valley Brewing Company.
Animal Rescue of Anderson Valley
‘Accused of Hypocrisy’
In a democracy, one should always appreciate opinions that engage the debate, are well articulated and offered with passion, even when in opposition to one's own. And I do. In the July 30th issue of the UDJ, I am taken to task by a letter writer for being “hypocritical” for opposing the Masonite Monster Mall while at the same time being “in favor of the City of Ukiah spending redevelopment money to purchase the remaining acres of land out near the airport” for retail development. This, he wrote, had him “rolling on the floor in laughter.” Thereafter he went on at great length, taking up two full columns, describing my positions and how wrong all my letters to the editor are.
However, he misinterpreted a letter that simply pointed out that the argument for the Monster Mall so we could have a Costco was a false argument and took that to mean that I supported having another Big Box store.
Not true. He can get up off the floor now.
He failed to include letter(s) of mine that could have saved him all that effort. For example, in response to the UDJ supporting the purchase of that land, I wrote “This seems like nothing but dumb growth based on dumb oil… which is destroying nature and community.”
Back on May 15th, another writer had already accused anti-mall folks for hypocrisy, and I wrote in response: “Citizens oppose bad projects for many different reasons. Some of us oppose any big-box or chain store to save our local economy and downtown merchants; others oppose the Monster Mall at the Masonite site to save our best industrial land for good-paying jobs; and still others oppose it because there is land already set aside for retail stores in town.”
And finally, in early May I wrote: “Personally, I do not support any more big box stores in our area for all the reasons I’ve stated [in other letters]. But, please. Can we put the Costco canard to rest?”
There used to be a weekly letter writer in the Anderson Valley Advertiser named B.J. Rowland who always closed with: “Pay Attention!”
THE DEADLY SIX
Dear Editor & readers;
There are six senators who are out to kill health care reform? Of course, that's not how they'd phrase it. Sens. Baucus, Bingaman, Conrad, Enzi, Grassley and Snowe say they're striving for “bi-partisan compromise.” But what they're actually doing is working to make sure reform won't include a public option or mandatory employer-based insurance — two key policies needed for effective reform.
Why would they oppose real reform, “Medicare for all”? Because our corrupt “democracy” allows these six to take huge amounts of money from the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries — more than $3 million between them!
These six senators, who represent only 2.74% of Americans between them, are writing bad policy, and they're doing it while they take money from the very companies who stand to benefit the most.
I just signed a petition to tell the “Gang of 6” to give back every dime of their dirty insurance money. You can do so, too, at: http://CredoAction.com/campaign/Gang_of_6
And, then, help fight for real democracy by getting corporate money out of our elections.
IT TAKES A VINTAGE
This summer two Valley business entities have made a major contribution to the health of our community.
The recent Pinot Noir Festival once again included an Auction, with all of the proceeds, after auction expenses, donated to the Anderson Valley Health Center and the Anderson Valley Education Foundation, for a total contribution of $16,000. Volunteers from these two organizations participated in organizing and running the Auction, but it is the Winegrowers Association's continuing annual contribution to the financial health of Valley non-profits that should be highlighted and recognized.
The annual Beer Festival also draws on people from community non-profit organizations to work the event as volunteers. With tasks ranging from serving dinner to the vendors at the end of the day to manning the gates throughout the afternoon, they join with the Anderson Valley Brewing Company to create a smooth running and successful event. Notably, all of the profits from the Beer Festival are donated to community organizations.
This year the Festival generated $66,000, distributed to the non-profits to support their work in our community. Ken Allen's generosity in making this yearly contribution to the well being of the Anderson Valley must be applauded, and is certainly appreciated by those of us who are involved.
Someone said, “it takes a village…” True enough, but it takes individuals and organizations that give back to the village to sustain it's well being. The Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association and Ken Allen are to be thanked for their continuing major contribution to that well being in the Anderson Valley.
Anderson Valley Education Foundation
Anderson Valley Brewing Company (AVBC) dispersed proceeds from the 13th Annual Legendary Boonville Beer festival, through its non-profit the Bahl Hornin’ Foundation. $66,500 was donated to help support local non-profits.
The founder and president of AVBC, Dr. Kenneth Allen’s 13 year commitment to support the rural Mendocino County community has resulted in donations totaling $442,630 to their neighbors since 2003, through the Legendary Boonville Beer Festival held each May.
This year the funds went to the Anderson Valley Lions Club, Parent Teachers Association, Elderhome, Education Foundation, Boosters, Animal Rescue, Senior Center, Historical Society, Fire Department, Volunteer Firefighters Assoc, Ambulance, the local Sheriff’s K-9, Kimmies, Acorn School, Navarro River Resource Center, the Land Trust & the Fairgrounds.
Many of the grateful recipients made note that their non-profit would not be in existence without the generosity of Anderson Valley Brewing Company.
The Legendary Boonville Beer Festival began in 1997, the inaugural event was such a success that the next year AVBC decided to invite other breweries and charge admission to raise profits for their community. AVBC invites breweries from all over the west to showcase their wares in a pleasant, festive, outdoor setting. The 13th Annual Legendary Boonville Beer Festival featured nearly 80 breweries and record attendance with 5,800 supporters despite rain and the overall economy.
Debi Paslay. Administrative Assistant
Anderson Valley Brewing Company
You have received this with your allotted love and forbearance from the desk of George Starr Humphrey, Personable Emissary of The Great Humph in one of her better moments.
For those who love the ambiguity, as well as the idiosyncrasies of English: Please do not attempt to understand the following without the assistance of a seasoned, bi-polar punster.
1. Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things.
2. One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor.
3. Atheism is a non-prophet organization.
4. If man evolved from monkeys and apes, why do we still have monkeys and apes?
5. The main reason that Santa is so jolly is because he knows where all the bad girls live.
6. I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman, “where's the self-help section?” She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose.
7. What if there were no hypothetical questions?
8. If a deaf child signs swear words, does his mother wash his hands with soap?
9. If someone with multiple personalities threatens to kill himself, is it considered a hostage situation?
10. Is there another word for synonym?
11. Where do forest rangers go to “get away from it all”?
12. What do you do when you see an endangered animal eating an endangered plant?
13. If a parsley farmer is successfully sued, can they garnish his wages?
14. Would a fly without wings be called a walk?
15. Why do they lock petrol station bathrooms? Are they afraid someone will clean them?
16. If a turtle doesn't have a shell, is he homeless or naked?
17. Can vegetarians eat animal crackers?
18. If the police arrest a mime, do they tell him he has the right to remain silent?
19. Why do they put Braille on the drive-through bank machines?
20. How do they get deer to cross the road only at those yellow road signs?
21. What was the best thing before sliced bread?
22. One nice thing about egotists: they don't talk about other people.
23. Does the little mermaid wear an algebra?
24. Do infants enjoy infancy as much as adults enjoy adultery?
25. How is it possible to have a civil war?
26. If one synchronized swimmer drowns, do the rest drown too?
27. If you ate both pasta and antipasto, would you still be hungry?
28. If you try to fail, and succeed, which have you done?
29. Whose cruel idea was it for the word 'lisp' to have 's' in it?
30. Why are hemorrhoids called “hemorrhoids” instead of “assteroids”?
31. Why is it called tourist season if we can't shoot at them?
32. Why is there an expiration date on sour cream?
33. If you spin an oriental person in a circle three times, do they become disoriented?
34. Can an atheist get insurance against acts of God?