Letters to the Editor

by Letters to the Editor, January 13, 2011

YOUTH WANTS TO KNOW

Anybody?

How many laws does it take to make and maintain a civil society? The law library of congress says our laws are uncountable. Now, I don't believe that, but perhaps uncountable is knowledge enough for wisdom.

What can law do? And when does it become like trying to clip ones nails with a hammer? And, what can/must each of us, and only each of us, know/do to support and have a civil society and a free and creative life?

How can (who) best support honest, needed laws, to accomplish what they must? Do we have a legislature with enough integrity to write laws with enough integrity to apply equally: to individuals, families, labor groups, cultural groups, marketers and leaders?

Has the dysfunction of the team rivalry approach to government become obvious enough yet? Are not the vast majority of these uncountable laws the very and only possible result of such contests? And please don't tout bi-partisanship. When two fiercely rival football teams form a bi-partisan huddle and decide to restore the cleated field, fire their fans and managers and give the game back to the children they stole it from, I'll withdraw my opinion. Let's stop our rooting and booing and instead insist that government do what we pay it for, which is to do what it can and must (only what it can and must), and to do it well and humbly with fear and trembling before the Creator.

The American citizenry elected legislators to represent OUR best interest with regard to the state, money and civil law. Our best interest necessarily includes the best interest of our children, the creation and the creatures we share it with. If these legislators still wish to engage in contests of will and pride for their parties and non-taxpayer funders, let them do it on their own; this nation is in great need of genuine representation and governance. Let the parties themselves pay for the games; American taxpayers can no longer afford to indulge and fund these sports. If there remains sufficient popular interest, a few struggling cities might gain some revenue by renting out their arenas and stadia during the off seasons. Regardless, the city on the hill requires a level of respect that must not shelter such spectacles.

Heather Leigh

Albion

PS. How much of our taxpayer funded budget goes to pay how many current and how many retired legislators? Not surprisingly, difficult to track down this data. Maybe someone with a computer would be so patriotic. I got as far as Morgan Cullen, N.C.L.S. policy associate, with two phone numbers that didn't pan out.

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TRAVEL FRAUD OK’D

Editor,

I attended the Anderson/Smith hearing with several other current and former Mendocino County Grand Jury members. The question is not about Kendall Smith's overall performance as a supervisor. It is not about whether she claimed reimbursement for miles she did not travel and costs she did not incur. She has openly admitted that on many occasions she submitted mileage claims for reimbursement when she was staying with friends and incurred no expense either for mileage or lodging. According to testimony documented in the several Grand Jury reports, this was not common practice by any other supervisor. That she did so is a matter of public record. One other supervisor [John Pinches-Ed] collected mileage reimbursement to pay the actual cost of maintaining an accommodation closer to Ukiah. When asked to do so, he promptly refunded the money he received for these claims. Another individual [David Colfax-Ed] took advantage of lax accounting requirements to claim large amounts of weekend travel for undocumented purposes that had no apparent connection to supervisorial duties. This matter remains unresolved. The simple question in Kendall Smith's case is whether either her conscience or her friends and political allies are willing to hold her accountable for her false claims. The answer to that question appears to be no.

I have seen little discussion of the systemic failure that made it possible for Ms. Smith to collect tax dollars for untraveled miles. This could not have occurred had supervisors been required to properly document the allowed government-related purpose of their mileage claims and to provide receipts for allowable expenses (as is required of any other county employee). This should have included providing receipts for overnight lodging for which reimbursement was made up to the equivalent cost of round trip travel. Unfortunately, the current Clerk of the Board demanded no such documentation and the Auditor's office failed to correct the situation. While most of our supervisors have produced proper documentation for their travel, this left the door open for false claims.

Following the second Grand Jury investigation of this matter, the Supervisors adopted the current policy. It allows each supervisor to choose between either receiving a very generous taxable travel stipend (with no expense reports required) OR submitting detailed expense claims with receipts and proper documentation of the work-related purpose and cost of travel. Each District has been allocated a fixed stipend based on its size. For example, a couple of years ago, the stipends for the 4th and 5th District were more than $800/month. The stipend for the much smaller 2nd District was commensurately less. I don't know what the allowances are now, but in view of financial realities and cutbacks that are being made in the number of regular meetings, I do think that the policy should be revisited. I see no excuse for any county employee ever to be reimbursed for travel without documenting the job-related purpose and providing receipts.

A significant part of the Grand Jury's responsibility is to shed light on systems failures of local government and behavior by local officials that is not consistent with established policies and/or with the public good. It strikes me that this function has been served and that this would be a good time to move forward with a careful assessment of how we can fairly compensate our elected officials for job-related travel incurred in the course of serving constituents in Districts that vary greatly in size and distance to the County Seat.

Wendy Roberts

Mendocino

PS. With all due respect, the brouhaha is not about the small amount of money. It is about whether public officials should be allowed to misuse taxpayer money. "All the supes" did not do or get what Smith did. She did not act in good faith. She did not tell the truth. When caught, she led the crusade to change the travel policy to make it even more generous and completely eliminate any element of accountability. The fact that her constituents apparently don't care is a sad testimony. I have no problem with reimbursing our elected officials for county-related travel. I simply believe that they should be required to document the purpose of the travel and provide applicable receipts. Since their expense claims are public documents, this would not only protect public funds from the potential of abuse, it would also create a written record of their public service.

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PETTY AMBITION & SMALL CLAIMS

Editor,

What seemed like a minor skirmish at the inaugural session of the Board of Supervisors on January 4th proves once again that petty ambition is a major motivation at Low Gap House. While Dan Hamburg, newly elected 5th District Supe, was obviously next in line to be Chairperson of the Board in 2012 by any reading of the Board's own rules of succession, two Supervisors sided with John McCowen’s whining request to ascend to the Chair out of turn but before his four-year term is over. “I will have served four years without once being Chairman,” he sobbed. The Chairman's job is not worth, to paraphrase “Cactus Jack” (Vice President under FDR) Garner, “a bucket of warm spit,” but it's obviously a draught thirsted for by our “Jack” McCowen. Dan Hamburg accepted the defeat and the unfairness of it with equanimity but with a wry smile, realizing that such pettiness will likely persist.

At the same time, a few blocks down State Street in Small Claims Court, authority and responsibility were successfully avoided for the fifth time in the infamous case of “Queen Kendall” Smith's absconding with $3,087 in illicitly-acquired expense account money. Judge Behnke was sure he didn't have jurisdiction. After the Grand Jury several years in a row embarrassed our former District Attorney Lintott about this petty theft, she finally pushed it over to Auditor Meredith Ford and told her to dock the Queen's paycheck. Good Bureaucrat Ford shuffled it off to County Counsel Jeanine Nadel for an opinion. Nadel decided to kick the can all the way down to Santa Rosa but the Sonoma County Counsel opined that what was really needed was a court order. Small Claims Plaintiff Bruce Anderson (infamous editor of the AVA) can now throw this very rotten fish on the lap of our newly-inducted District Attorney Eyster and see whether he will scoop it up and dispose of it in a suitable manner. If that doesn't get it off the table, I can only suggest we call upon our Garbage Impresario, Mike “King of Trash” Sweeny. He has dodged smelly issues successfully over a long career.

Jim Houle

Redwood Valley

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WHY PRISON?

Editor, readers and fellow taxpayers:

Tax dollars at work or am I just another statistic?

My name is Francis Seymour. I am 47 years old and I am facing drug-related charges, controlled substance, methamphetamine. As I sit here in Club Mendocino — the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office's jail on Low Gap Road, I fear for the inevitable — going to prison and becoming another number or statistic in our California Department of Corrections. Good old prison.

The question I pose myself and I now ask you is: “Are your tax dollars at work?” The answer should not be surprising — no they are not.

You see, I am an addict. I realize this and have now come to the conclusion that I need help. Where do I get help? I have sent letters off to some to drug programs such as Primary Purpose, Hilltop, Jerico and Litton Springs, just to mention a few. As I await a bed I will be sentenced on January 4 or 6.

My point is that I don't see how our court system is benefiting my needs as an addict. Please allow me to explain. Ms. Kitty Houston, the prosecutor, has had a hard on for me and is not budging from sending me to prison. If this happens then the system has failed me.

We have Drug Court which is funded in part by tax dollars. We also have drug rehab programs which are state and federally funded by our tax dollars. Why send me to prison where I will have access to all sorts of drugs when I can benefit from drug court and/or a drug rehab program such as Jerico?

Like I said, I am 47 years old. In a way, I have come to the realization that I am not getting any younger. I am still at an age in my life that I can make a difference by making a 180-degree turn and make the best of my life and start a new life by becoming drug-free and living a normal life.

If I am sent to prison my chances of getting a second chance in life are like an ice cube in hell. I don't want to be another number in the California Department of Corrections. I want to better myself and recover and salvage what's left in my life.

Drug Court and drug rehab programs were designed for our court system to use these kinds of programs and facilities in lieu of prison. It's time to give people the benefit of the doubt and allow us the opportunity to change our lives around.

I need help — prison is not the answer.

Francis Seymour

Ukiah

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NO END IN SIGHT

Editor,

Like the rest of the world, China has taken a hit during the recent economic downtown. Percentagewise, it’s not as bad as here. But, like the US, the Chinese government is responding with an economic stimulus package.

China’s package is aimed at domestic infrastructure. They’re investing in a state of the art high-speed rail system. They’re spending $100 billion a year. And they plan to continue spending this sum for ten years.

By the end of the decade China will have a modern rail system that connects all major and most minor commercial centers. The system will link the nation, much like our interstate highway system.

We too are spending about $100 billion a year — on wars in the Middle East. These wars have been going on for most of the past decade. And Congress just passed a funding bill to continue them for another year.

Price: $160 billion. And there’s no end in sight.

By 2020 China will have spent about $1 trillion. For its trillion, China will have a modern high-speed rail system.

For our $1 trillion (and counting), the citizens of the United states will have: nothing.

Bart Boyer

San Diego

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POT SPIES

Dear Editor,

Current position of possible satellite spy surveillance drone seen tonight Saturday January 8, 2011, was from visual observation, above Hwy 20 at west Lake County line, or further south over Cow Mountain. It was moved yesterday.

For the three days previous, at least observing from high on Mid Mountain east of Potter Valley, it appeared to be about 20 or 40 miles north of today's location, in the area of Horse Mountain in the National Forest east of central Potter Valley, or further east of Horse Mountain. All distance guess-estimates have not been triangulated.

Now that this observed drone phenomenon is being specifically looked for in the night time sky, recollection is that it's been seen for months. The visual signature is steady night time light source with flashing green red blue and white, positioned stationary at an unknown elevation, at perhaps more or less 5 to 30 miles (unknown distance a guess) above ground level, believed to be surveillance drone.

Every couple of days it is moved to a new location or sometimes it is left in one place for a week. Occasionally at night you can watch it move in the sky, to where it's being repositioned to another stationary location. It is not a satellite which would be a constant white light.

It's been seen moving back and forth on the Mendocino Lake County line, and not much west of the Lake County line. It also does not stray as far north as the Eel River west of Lake Pillsbury.

It must high up to not be buffeted by windy air currents at the earth's surface, but there is a lot unknown as to what is really going on, since I'm not really current on the science, but it appears to be surveillance suspicious. That's my opinion, and I'm sticking to it until I get another explanation beyond full court press, but not one of green cheese and flying saucers.

Eric Sunswheat

Potter Valley

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IMPASSE

Dear Editor:

What distinguishes the majority of the people from the few is their inability to act according to their beliefs. Those of us writing this letter believe it is time for the majority of county employees and the populace of Mendocino County as a whole to understand what a few in this county are doing. When we write “a few,” we are referring to the Board of Supervisors.

For those of you unaware, the county has been struggling financially for several years. The Board has let the situation get to a point where it has become so severe they are taking multiple approaches hoping to find a solution. They have reduced overall department budgets, laid employees off, placed a measure on the last ballot that would have raised taxes, and lastly there is an ongoing attempt to force employee associations into wage concession bargaining. Between the seven different associations the county has offered one-year contracts with permanent wage reductions between 20 and 30%. Three of the associations settled for 10% wage reductions, one has been imposed on at 10%, two are in the impasse process at 15% and 20% respectfully, and one is still in the negotiations process. We will give you a brief description of the impasse procedure in this county.

The Board of Supervisors has hired an individual to handle their side of the negotiations with each association. This middleman brings notes from each meeting with the Association back to the Board who discuss our proposal. When another meeting can be arranged between the middleman and an association an answer is given and then the process is repeated. If the Board becomes unhappy with the progress of the negotiations they can declare impasse. At this point the board tells the association what their last and best final offer is.

Our association was offered a one-year contract and a 15% pay cut. We had offered the County numerous proposals, one of which was an 8% wage reduction this year followed by a 7% wage reduction in year two and in the third year, a return to wages as they were in 2010. The county adamantly denied entertaining a multiyear contract. Their hired negotiator made a comment, “You could offer the board a 10% wage reduction this year, followed by a 10% reduction next year and they still would not agree to your proposal.”

This lack of good faith bargaining is not conducive to inspiring cooperation.

After rejecting a three-year contract with a total of 15% in agreed-upon wage reductions, the county declared impasse. At this point our association gets to meet with a state mediator who hears both sides and then gives an opinion which is non-binding. This means the Board of Supervisors does not have to listen and may impose whatever pay cut they deem necessary. This process is a complete fallacy to an equitable bargaining process and would be laughable if it was not for the fact this is a reality. In our department alone, four different associations are represented. One is still negotiating, two have settled for a 10% pay cut, and the largest group is faced with a 15% pay cut. This inequity allows the highest-paid employees to take the smallest pay cut.

Another intriguing comment made by the hired negotiator was, “The county does not care about employee retention.” Perhaps this was intended as a joke, but with this type of pay cut and overall inequities the Board is creating, it seems they really do not care about their employees or who remains to work for this county. As for employee morale — what morale?

To further this topic, let's use an analogy we believe adequately helps describe this situation. If your children or spouse were unable to balance a checkbook, would you throw more money at them hoping they would learn? No. Depending on your patience level you would teach them how to balance the checkbook by only spending as much as they have or you would take the checkbook away from them entirely. This Board of Supervisors has continually shown they are incapable of balancing a checkbook yet they want more and more money from their employees in hopes of making it balance.

When is enough enough?

For those who think this is not just a Mendocino County problem, perhaps you should take a look at Lake County. They have less revenue than this county and yet they are not facing a “budget crisis.” Perhaps our Board of Supervisors can take a field trip to learn how to do their jobs instead of just cutting everything and expecting the same amount of services to be provided.

This board has been running the County with the mentality that “might makes right.” Thomas Jefferson once said, “a government big enough to supply everything you need is big enough to take everything you have.” Perhaps not this year, or during this round of negotiations, but if the Board continues to treat employee associations as they have done thus far during negotiations, they will find hundreds of united employees are far stronger than five members of the Board of Supervisors. Hopefully the voting population of Mendocino County will take heed of another Jefferson quote, “We in America do not have a government by a majority. We have government by the majority of those who participate.” We can send these people a message they can understand loud and clear and it will happen when they are not re-elected. My association was unwilling to acquiesce to the Board's bullying and I can say one last thing on this matter for now: on matters of style, swim with the current, on matters of principle, stand like a rock.

Matt Finnegan, Teamsters Local 856

Staff Attorney and Mendocino County Public Employees Association Representative, representing Mendocino County Probation Officers and Correctional Counselors

Ukiah

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WHAT THEY FOUND

Editor,

Year to date statistics on airport screening from the Department of Homeland Security’s TSA airport screening.

Terrorist Plots Discovered: 0

Transvestites: 133

Hernias: 1,485

Hemorrhoid Cases: 3,172

Enlarged Prostates: 8,249

Breast Implants: 59,350

Natural Blondes: 3

Bob Rosenow

San Francisco

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ODE TO A LOUSE SPOUSE

Editor,

Tom, a friend, would read my rhymes

And say I’m quite the jingle-ist.

You couldn’t guess how many times

Family, friends or not dismissed

The feeling I’d for writing rhyme—

All considered wasted time.

This is my reason for rhyme:

I was in an 11th grade honors English class in San Diego. Our teacher gave us an assignment to write a rhyme — it was due in a week. The night before the due date I pulled out an anthology of poetry from my parent’s small library. I read a “translation” of Robert Burns’ Ode to a Louse. His rhyme was inspired by an experience he had in church sitting behind a lady in the pew ahead. During the preacher’s sermon, Burns watched a louse crawl out of the lady’s hair and down her neck. In my poem, due the next morning, I followed Burns line for line and turned his rhyme into something I called “Ode to a Spouse.” Basically, it made fun of my father from my mother’s point of view — I never heard his, he was a quiet man.

This assignment was supposed to be typed, although she’d let you get away with handwriting because everyone didn’t have a typewriter back in ‘58. My dad had one in his office which was right off my parent’s bedroom. But by the time I’d finished writing the rhyme it was 1am and the rhyme was due that day.

I didn’t know how to type. This was back when white-out didn’t exist. I went through several sheets of paper trying to get my rhyme written out without errors before my mother came storming through the office door mad as hell because of the noise the tentative snaps my hunt and pecks were making. She asked the usual question, Why did you wait until the last day? And with a sigh of exasperation she asked, Where is it? I’ll type it for you.

My mother had been a secretary for years and could type 60 words a minute on the old manual uprights nobody uses any more. After the two minutes it took my mom to type the rhyme I’d written, Ode to a Spouse (perfectly), she went to bed chuckling.

My teacher, Alice Coleman, gave me an “A” for the rhyme and tacked it on the classroom bulletin board for the class to see. I felt guilty. I thought I had plagiarized Robert Burns — I had only changed his words and followed his rhythm and rhyme scheme.

My English teacher was an advisor to the college SAT boards — on the verbal side. She was acquainted with another SAT board member who taught English at the college I was going to the following year. Before I graduated from Mission Bay she wrote to tell the professor I was coming. His name was Fred Stocking. I was put in his freshman English class. I got a C- for his course. I’m sure he’d give me C- for my doggerel still.

Maybe Alice and I had something going on at some unconscious level to explain the A- she gave me for her honors English class. My book reports weren’t bad but they were on books that you couldn’t consider literature. I admit I had a crush on her.

After Fred Stocking’s class my freshman year in college I decided to major in history where I earned C’s and C+’s. Stocking died a few years ago at the age of 94. I’ve no idea where Alice Coleman is or if she’s even still alive.

John Wester

San Diego

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EXPERTS v. BOEHNER

Editor,

Boehner pulls a boner?

When confronted with budget office director Douglas Elmendorf’s estimate that the repeal of President Barack Obama’s landmark health care overhaul would increase the deficit by $230 billion from 2012 to 2021, the newly installed House Speaker, Boehner, R-Ohio, stated, “The budget experts are entitled to their opinion.” Boehner, calls the budget office director an expert, then has the temerity to discount the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis as an opinion. The Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate jointly appoint the CBO Director. The CBO is funded by the legislative branch to provide Congress objective, nonpartisan, and timely analyses to aid in economic and budgetary decisions. So, Boehner essentially hires and pays for the analysis then has the audacity to offer his opinion, sans analysis, “I do not believe that repealing the job-killing health care law will increase the deficit.” Get back to us Boehner when you have some facts to back up your rhetoric.

David Tompkins

Kneeland, California

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TRIVIAL PURSUIT

Dear Turkey Vulture,

We were sitting around here at the Two Dot Lounge having a toke and a coke watching Rachael Maddow's coverage of the recent rain of red-wing blackbirds dropping from the sky in Arkansas. Ms. Maddow reported on an earlier rain of chunks of meat which peppered the ground several years back and was a similar astonishment especially when it was indeed verified that they were hunks of meat and even showed samples of them in a jar collected at the time. One person who tasted them reported they were quite unsavory but indeed meat.

Like the blackbirds, the wonder was why? And what the Hell?

One theory was that they were from your cousins the Turkey Buzzards which flew around the area and had a habit of regurgitating pieces of meat when excited. Many of the Two Dotters were wondering if any such occurrence happened like this in Anderson Valley since so many old buzzards live there and fly high all over.

Anyway, the consensus is that you would be the one to ask — a Trivial Pursuit, so to speak. If you could enlighten us a bit concerning this we would all be eternally grateful.

Thank you,

D.G. Carsey

Secretary of the Two Dot GP

Boonville

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FREAK TO FREAK

Letter to the Editor,

Dave Smith is a freak

“Round em up” an earnest response!

This is a subject that I know well so much so that I wish it were not true. Allow me to give you some history about myself, not as to boast but to shed some light on this subject. I sat in the lap of luxury, to tell you how much will serve no purpose and you would not believe me anyhow! And I have walked the shoes of plight as the homeless.

Life is about choices, I shall use a zipper as an example. When I make the right choices I come up and things come together and when I make the wrong choices things go down and come apart.

But life also has circumstances that are beyond my control yet by the choices that I make I can turn a bad situation into good. I am responsible for my own happiness and future. Example being my new lady has class, and due to the fact that I had run amok I can use some refinement. So what do I do? I either can either be bombastic and tell her of my great past and how great I am. Or I can ask her, What is it that I can do to be more attractive to you? And further more don't talk about and do it!

I am no longer homeless due to this very method of thinking. I listened and did what I was told. And now my bills are all paid I have a modest home in a modest neighborhood and own a modest car. That will do 180mph!

Now people have said that I am abusing the system. This is not true. I am crippled and for the moment need assistance. Past and mostly present injuries have taken me off my feet. Circumstances, my friends, far from a choice of mine. I would be glad talk about it on open forum if an agency would like to challenge me on this one, but I am using wise choices.

Yesterday I was in a wheelchair; today I use a cane and tomorrow I will have swagger. I have taken the tarnish off the silver bowl and I now need to polish it to a gleam. I tried to relate with those in plight so much so that with great intent I would misspell words as to catch the target audience. (Come on we have spell checker). And would joke about it!

I have had to cut ties with my old drinking/drugging buddies, who wish to live on the tracks, and their response is “You forget where you came from!” I tell them “No I didn't, that is why you have to go!” People are strange this way instead of working their way up they would rather pull you down. I have offered many to help them out right down to filling the paperwork out for them and not one of them took me up on this offer. By the way the offer is over. I will not be bothered anymore to be dragged down! Play the victim and cry on another person's shoulder.

And even those who are doing well would like to keep another down. It is called “Oneupmanship.”

I will not let this happen for I have a choice and a free will! I have been clean from street drugs now for eight years. With the drinking at a standstill! And opportunities are coming my way and I must say great opportunities. I have plans to better myself and to become successful once more as I was in the past, and what is better yet I have people who wish to help me and have plans as well for me.

Getting back to Mr. Smith and his suggestion. In San Francisco they have such a van operated by Salvation Army which picks up the derelicts and takes them to a dry dock, called ASANOM.

And when the day comes that they shall make the choice to better their life the van will no longer be needed!

Trent Foster

Ukiah

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LA ROSA BLANCA

Dear Editor,

Seasons Greetings to all at the Bunker!

Re: AVA Off the Record, 11/24/2010: The quote by Bill Hurd does sound like it came from The Death Ship by B. Traven. But I question the AVA’s erudite staff’s opinion that the quote comes from The White Rose. The locations in The White Rose, also by B. Traven, are San Francisco and Vera Cruz, Mexico.

La Rosa Blanca. I enclose a very rare film. I came across it at a public library in Ripon (San Joaquin County.) I delivered a copy to the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley when they were having a retrospective on Mexican films. They were not aware of — or did not have a copy of — this important and timely film. It stars the GREAT Mexican actor Ignacio Lopez Tarso. Camera work was by the equally great Gabriel Figueroa.

In a book titled Shattering the German Night: The Story of the White Rose, the location is Munich, and the heroic and tragic characters were students and teachers who organized a cell to protest against the war machine of Adolph Hitler. Their fight was short lived. The student leaders, a brother and sister, Hans Scholl and Sophie Scholl, were guillotined (she first) three hours after their trial ended. Others were executed later on.

According to Hans Scholl, the name for their group was taken from a book published in Berlin by an author who Hans Scholl thought was Spanish — B. Traven.

Today, at the University of Munich there is a plaza named after Hans and Sophie Scholl. An annual commemoration is held every February 22, the anniversary of the first executions.

Marshall Curatolo

Walden Pond Books

Oakland

PS. At one moment the film may seem to get jammed, but hang in there; it won’t affect the continuity.

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CANNABIS CARDS

Editor,

Sales never been my gig,

Until I tried to sell

A product not made for the prig

Though Queen Victoria might very well

Buy these cards were she alive--

Queen Victoria was on one, too.

Caricatures of people who thrive--

Portraits done by Dr. Doo

Extolling healing powers of weed

That’s sprouted from a cannabis seed.

John Wester

San Diego

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Memo Of The Week

Dear Citizens of the City of Point Arena,

Ten days after I was fired as Point Arena City Clerk in closed session by the current City Council, I packed up all City items from my home office — which I routinely used for City business in the evenings and weekends and actually used nearly as often as I used the City Hall office. I included the external hard drive with all City files on it and returned them all to City Hall. The inventory list I have of the returned items is date stamped as received by the City on October 23.

Mayor Sinnott acted in the capacity of Clerk/Administrator for approximately six weeks between my termination on October 13th and the new City Clerk’s appointment, and was acting as such on October 23 when I returned the box. I don’t know what Mayor Sinnott or others might have done with this hard drive, but to say I didn’t return it is not true. Of course, as the Mayor would know, the loss of this data could have been devastating and would have required reconstructing official City documents depending on individual Council members’ notes or collective memories of events, not the officially approved records.

In the last few weeks several people have told me that they had contacted City Hall with questions about past events only to be told that City staff couldn’t locate my electronic documents since 2006 and so were unable to assist the callers.

Some of these people followed up with me to ask if I really had withheld any City files when I was terminated. I was astonished — and horrified — to hear this untrue story and so I called the new City Clerk at City Hall to see if this was what callers were being told.

She told me that I had heard correctly, and she then followed up our telephone conversation with an email to me chastising me for my purported unprofessionalism. The last I heard, it’s illegal to besmirch the reputation of another through slander or libel; perhaps Ms. Alexander is only repeating what she has been told by Mayor Sinnott or other Council members. In fact, I have returned every single file to the City and Sinnott must know this to be true.

Because I was concerned that something could happen to this historical data during the transition I kept a backup of those documents. I have made new copies of all electronic files and this time will send them to the City on DVDs in a certified USPS package. In addition, I am demanding that City Staff and Council members immediately stop maligning my reputation and professionalism.

The perplexing thing to me is that during the nearly two and a half months since I‘ve been gone not one single Councilmember, staff person, or attorney has called me to ask about “missing” data. Wouldn’t any reasonable person have done that? It is incomprehensible to me that no one would have contacted me to ask, “Hey — Dudette — you got the files?” It was difficult enough to be fired by this Council. It seems they are still bent on ruining my reputation.

It angers me that City Hall “customers” have been put to this inconvenience without anyone from the Council even following up to try to figure this out. Your Council is doing it again — putting their personal agendas above their constituents’ needs.

Claudia Hillary

Point Arena

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CHUCK’S CHILLY

Letters to the Editor-

No Heat — Cruel Unusual Punishment.

It has come to my attention that due to the drama-politics-kid games at Corcoran State Prison’s Protective Housing Unit, certain so-called inmates housed in the PHU program — have taken it upon themselves to tell plant operations NOT to turn on the heaters for the cells in 4A4R-C Section, as one particular good friend of mine — Charles Manson — has to be subject to cold air in his cell, etc. as he is 76 years old.

So I encourage all concerned citizens to file a formal complaint with the California Department of Corrections, Office of Internal Affairs Unit (OIA) to have an inquiry/investigation started about why staff will not turn on the heaters in the PHU Program Unit and certain inmates dictate other inmates’ program in 4A4R-C-Section at CSP Corcoran.

Write to: California Department of Corrections, Office of Internal Affairs, PO Box 3009, Sacramento, CA 95812.

Name Withheld

Corcoran

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PROFESSOR BOFFO

Editor,

David Yearsley, invariably in peak form, exceeds himself with “Kristmas Kitch” (AVA, 12/29). I had to stop reading a dozen times to wipe away the tears of mirth. Memorable stuff!

My questions: Does Professor Yearsley’s employer know he is moonlighting for the AVA? Do they read any of his contributions? And what do his co-workers say about him in the Faculty Room?

With appreciation,

Stewart Bowen

Suisun Valley

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RE/MAX

Dear Editor!

I thoroughly enjoyed “The Best & Worst of Mendocino County 2010.”

Does the Re/Max Realty Group do business in Mendoland? They deserve the Unintended Truth In Advertising Award! Their logo is a red white and blue hot air balloon! Perfect!

Gary Durheim

Seaside, Oregon

TUSCON

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An open letter to listeners of Mainstream Media,

I am writing you because the events in Tucson are very disturbing. I grew up, as did most boys, playing games of power, mock violence, imitating the culture around me — westerns, science fiction, cop shows and the like. Just recently I enjoyed playing with my grand-nephews Jackson and Robert with Star Wars light sabers. This is not what disturbs me, however.

In any society, there are some insane people who will copy and adapt ideas surrounding them. During the congressional campaigns, Sarah Palin created a target list of 20 Democrats in Congress, placing a gun sight image over each of them. To most of us, this is as harmless as my playing light saber warfare with Jackson and Robert. Unfortunately, there are some who take it seriously. Rep. Giffords' opponent in the election joked about targeting Giffords and shooting an M-16 with him. There were death threats against Rep. Giffords in the past, and she expressed concern about it last year. I believe there is more incitement to violence in political campaigns than in the past, and it is this that troubles me. If we are going to allow people to carry concealed weapons, we need to strongly oppose violence in our language. I am concerned that many commentators are simplifying the problem by saying there was some crazy person and blaming that individual.  Imagine a society that sold love and compassion rather than violence. I suspect the crazy person would go around hugging strangers — a bit of a nuisance perhaps.

I write you because I know you may be hearing the points of view I used to believe: that guns are not the problem; rather it is criminals. I believe it is neither.  When I step back, I see that a violent culture creates criminals, as well as their enemies, and escalates the battle between them. Neither gun control nor incarcerating (or executing) the murderer will solve the problem; at best they may prevent a small percentage of recurrences. It is our cavalier attitude towards violence that is the problem, and I am as at fault as anyone whenever I use that kind of language. To most it is harmless dark humor, but to others it is deadly.  It certainly does not belong in politics or religion, where feelings run especially strongly.

I love all of you, and hope you are enjoying life beyond the recent tragedy.

Love,

Bill Taylor

Elk

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LET’S COUNT THE WAYS

Editor,

Bankers and lawyers, congressmen too.

Wear suits and ties, preferably blue.

As new ways they ponder

How taxes to squander

And innocent clients to screw.

Name Withheld

Mendocino

THANKS FROM THE BURGERS

Thank you Anderson Valley,

For the coming together, food and contributions for Tom Burger’s farewell.

We graciously appreciated Willie Roberts for his ministry and Bill Owens for the songs. (Hope your cold is gone.) And thanks for the stories you told of Tom.

You made a sorrowful day into a more humorous one.

Thank you so much

The Tom Burger Family

Yorkville

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