Letters to the Editor
by AVA News Service, January 19, 2011
BETTER LATE THAN NEVER
Ban Handguns Now!
There is no rational explanation for America's lack of tight control over concealed weapons. Those who intentionally misinterpret the Second Amendment to allow hand guns to be routinely carried by any nut with a grievance should feel responsibility for the slaughter in Tuscon. The 2^nd Amendment referred to the necessity for a well-regulated militia to provide security back in a time (1791) when we had no standing army, no public arsenal of weapons, and minimal local law enforcement. The second phrase of that one-sentence amendment to our Constitution emphasizes the fact that it was the ordinary citizens who would form such a militia and would bring their own rifles when necessity required they so assemble. It does not mention hand guns, it does not restrict the right of citizens to have guns for hunting or for uses beyond those of a well-regulated militia.
Yet, the National Rifle Association has re-interpreted and expanded the simple and direct statement of the 2^nd Amendment so as to allow for concealed weapons, for the suspension of licensing laws, for 30-cartridge clips on Glock Pistols, for the private ownership of semi-automatic M-14 type weapons that have no use beyond the battlefield, for carrying loaded guns in our national parks, and now in Arizona for carrying of concealed weapons even into school rooms! The result of this idiocy is that in a single year 9,484 US citizens were killed with guns. In Canada, where the NRA does not have much swat, only 200 were killed, while in Germany the figure was 194, in Spain: 60, and in England: 39
We have more than 235 million guns in the United States. The figure has tripled in just 40 years. It is time to come to our senses, control our irrational insecurities, and ban the use of hand guns.
As previously mentioned in our last letter, the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors has acknowledged having financial difficulties for several years now. Even though our Association had a contractual agreement with the county as to wages, when the Board suggested we take Mandatory Time Off (MTO) during the first part of the last fiscal year, we agreed. Our Association voluntarily agreed to nine days of MTO which is equivalent to a 3.5% pay reduction. We were not the only association to voluntarily agree to help the County even though we were under contract with them.
During the second part of the fiscal year, again the Board suggested we agree to take more MTO. Our Association is required to maintain the County's Juvenile Hall 24 hours a day, seven days a week and the law requires a minimum level of staffing. Due to MTO in order to maintain those requirements, overtime shifts had to be used. If it was the Board's intention to save money by reducing payroll than we would have had to structurally realign how the juvenile hall is staffed. Merely taking MTO as suggested by the board actually causes more money to be spent on payroll due to overtime. With this knowledge, and having already agreed to MTO without seeing any improvement in our financial situation or sacrifices by the entirety of the Board of Supervisors, our Association voted not to take MTO in the second round. Instead of understanding the decision and appreciating our commitment to fiscal responsibility, the Board holds it against us erroneously believing we did not wish to cooperate. This should come as no surprise as the Board continues to be shortsighted when it comes to finances.
When it came time to negotiate new contracts this year numerous associations requested MTO instead of just taking straight pay cuts between 20 and 30% as requested. The Board has declined every association's offer demanding pay cuts. The explanation given to us by the hired negotiator: “The board thought MTO was ineffective, they view it as a short-term solution and they do not want services to the county to decrease.” We find this logic interesting. Is not a one-year contract considered short-term? We would like to reserve our comments for a separate letter about how the board continually settles for short-term solutions versus striving for long-term sustainability.
For those associations that bargain with the Board and received permanent 10% pay cuts with a one-year contract: do you not foresee yourselves in the same position next year? The only difference next year when you start your negotiations is you will be doing so at 10% less than you started with this year. We find this quote particularly insightful: “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.” Hopefully less and less of you reading this will remain silent.
As for MTO being ineffective, the Board did not have this opinion last year when they requested it two separate times. Like with most things preparation and planning are necessary for effectiveness. Again, something that was lacking on the implementation of MTO previously. Our Association has been coming up with numerous ways for juvenile hall to take MTO without incurring overtime costs to the county. Talk of extending shifts as well as taking deductions from each paycheck as Sonoma County currently does has taken place. Employees would essentially be taking a pay cut which the board adamantly demands. The big difference would be in employee morale. Many employees cannot afford to lose 10-20% of their pay while working the same amount of hours. If the Board allowed the pay cuts to be taken as MTO many employees could pick up part-time jobs to help offset the wage reductions. This would be more of an equitable solution. Instead, the Board wants the same job performance and their employees to work the same amount of hours for 10-20% less. If an employee spent more than they budgeted for on Christmas presents could they expect the board to give them a 10-20% raise? No, and the Board should not expect the same in return.
The Board's demands would be more understandable if the employees of Mendocino County were making more money than the surrounding counties. That however is not the case. In fact, a comparison done with our Association found the exact opposite and the Board agreed that we were underpaid. We were given wage adjustments in 2007 to make our Association more comparable to surrounding counties. Now they want to take that back and drop us to levels significantly lower than our neighbors. Even with this knowledge our Association was willing to offer the board a total of 15% in straight pay cuts over the next two years. In the third year of the contract all we asked for was our wages to be returned to what they were in 2010. This would allow the Board time to straighten out its finances and by agreeing the board would be telling us they have faith in themselves that in two years time this “budget crisis” will be resolved.
Abraham Lincoln once said, “If you forfeit the confidence of your fellow citizens you can never regain their respect and esteem. It is true you may fool all of the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all the time; but you can't fool all the people all the time.”
We are tired of being treated like fools and vow not to allow mismanagement and poor decision-making to continue to be rewarded with silence and reelection.
Matt Finnegan, Teamsters local 856
Staff Attorney and MCPE a representative
WALT WINCHELL, McCARTHYITE
In re the article “Gossip Writer” in the January 5th AVA to balance the portrayal of Walter Winchell it should be noted that Winchell favored Senator Joe McCarthy. Among many other outrageous positions Winchell took, he blasted the national maritime union as being run by communists. He labeled the great artist Josephine Baker as a red after she questioned the racist policies of the Stork Club (his second home). As a result she could not get her passport renewed.
Winchell saw communists everywhere and was a lap dog for J. Edgar Hoover. He was obsessed with anti-communist hysteria of that era. The movie “The Sweet Smell of Success” with Burt Lancaster in 1957 is worth checking out.
Cliffside Park, New Jersey
DON’T LEGALIZE TORTURE
Concerning Robert Hal Brame's “Exigent Circumstances” article in the December 29 AVA: I've read your well-crafted AVA articles. I believe you're a decent lad although mistaken in this instance. Generally, torture doesn't work, contrary to the claims of the brain bleaching idiot box shows such as 24 Hours (or is it 48?) which is eagerly devoured as an instruction manual by the military's wannabe supersleuths. In real life, can the intelligence agencies document one “ticking bomb” scenario averted by torture? (For verification of the fact that “military intelligence” is an oxymoron, read Tim Weiner's “Legacy of Ashes,” et al, referring to what the CIA left Lyndon B. Johnson.)
Yes, Robert, you could beat that creep for five or fifty minutes and he probably tell you something. But would it be true? If he disposed of her body as fish food, it probably will never be found. Okay, let's say, against all odds, he truthfully confesses and is executed. This example, if legalized, would open the floodgates of untrammeled further tortures and false confessions. Is it better to torture nine innocents to get one guilty? Or 99 to get one? Gitmo was (is?) full of goatherds, cooks and flunkies who confessed to being high level terrorists.
Let's say that Aruba specimen is executed. Then it won't be long before another sicko does the same thing. Then another, as has been happening for hundreds of years. Our pundits will then indignantly report this shocking event. But never ever delve into why it occurred. This taboo topic is so beyond the barriers of not only political correctness that even the most adventuresome scholars best not venture into this realm lest the wrath of all the world's organized religions descend upon him or her. In my unpublished essay, “Umar's Sexless God,” I broached this forbidden topic, citing a couple of iconoclastic scholars.
Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (KSM), who implemented the 9/11 massacre, we've been told, also confessed after 80 or so waterboardings. Yes, he said, I did it, I also cut off Daniel Pearl's head, I also planned JFK's assassination and ... (fill in the blanks). (Now, he thinks, you can waste untold hours investigating details.)
An article appeared about a year ago in a popular magazine detailing how an experienced Israeli interrogator using tried-and-true psychological ploys located a leading Al Qaeda operative. Other veteran interrogators, not of the Rambo strike, agree with him.
Recently, another Tex-Ass con was released after serving 30 years when the DEA prove his innocence. He was the 20th or so falsely convicted from Dallas: but only because Dallas — unlike the highest death penalty city of Houston — preserved evidence of past crimes.
In the “hole” in Marion, Illinois, in the early 70s I read proposed legislation sponsored by Ted Kennedy (?) and some mossback reactionary Southern senator. This despotic legal recodification would have made the Nazis proud. In the end the ACLU and others defeated it. I have a list of dozens of class-action lawsuits filed by the ACLU, many of which helped advance the legal rights of prisoners. Additionally, attorneys from the National Lawyers Guild (whom J. Edgar Hoover labeled Communists — a great recommendation) in the Chicago People's Law Office helped me in my 24-year-old case involving 28 months in Marion's “hole” for ridiculous false, framed up, fraudulent charges. Later, I sent the ACLU $5 and became a member.
On the topic of frame ups, I was on the tier with you as I recall when you, after completing stage one and stage two with no “shots” (disciplinary reports), were assigned a cell with a locker which had a torn metal side. Uh-oh, that was sufficient proof of your guilt so it was back to the more punitive units to begin the several years long routine again.
During my 13+ years hoping for a transfer from the Bureau of Prisons maximum security lockdown prison, among my dozens of “shots” were: “not having an arch support in my shoe” (issued to me), “having an arch support in my shoe,” putting a “dummy” in my cell — twice — resulting in five more years, etc. Nevermind that two prisoners in the hacksaw proof one-man cells might be somewhat suspicious.
If you give the jackbooted thugs any repressive tool they will misuse it. When tasers were first introduced I could foresee what would happen. It did. In New York, a dangerous 17-year-old perp was caught smoking Mary-ha-ha weed and tortured.
At least 13 people have died in “restraint chairs” in jails and prisons.
In a Georgia “boot camp” recently, a youngster's aberrant behavior was corrected by the correctional officers use of the boot treatment. However, they booted him into a pine box with a tag on his toe.
I suggest that there's too many innocent victims in the gulag now without increasing the number by legalizing torture.
Ronald Del Raine
DON’T FIRE OUR COPS, DAN
Dear Supervisor Hamburg:
Realizing that in difficult times any cuts in budget are hard to make, many of ustax payers feel the right things are not cut.
Please consider the Sheriff's budget again. Public priorities have always been safety in the form of police, fire fighters and good road crews. We are genuinely concerned about the public safety of the whole county, but Anderson Valley in particular, as that is where we live, and some of the other communities, Ukiah and Fort Bragg in particular, are covered by other law enforcement.
We are not as young as we used to be and do not relish the possibilities that could occur when the criminal element knows where there are things they want and no one to restrict them. One does not like the idea of the drug culture booming in wide-open territory, either. But more than the drug culture are the drunk drivers who abound. At present there is no one to check them at all!
Please consider instead the elimination of the use of consultants and cancel any anticipated plans for workshops, etc. Recognizing these are not bad things, they are what can be cut in tough times! My husband was on an Alaska school board for 22 years and is fully cognizant of the good conventions and some gatherings can bring, but would never have sanctioned the loss of a teacher to implement this perk.
Thanking you for your thoughtful consideration, we remain,
James L. & Robin Lindsey
In a recent issue one of your contributors used the phrase “corporate feudalism.” That is an accurate term for what exists today. Most of us remember how medieval feudalism worked. The nobility, the kings and queens and dukes and counts and duchesses etc. lived off of the labors of the peasants, and ruled them. The ruling class always makes the rules. The nobles collected taxes and the peasants had to pay them, since the nobles owned the land on which they lived.
The nobles had maximum security arrangements in the form of palace guards and castle moats. All of this was done under the theory that they, the nobles, were entitled to the spoils of this system, derived from the ‘divine right of kings.’ God wanted them to rule, said they. The church supported it with no separation of church and state, and the uneducated peasants bought it.
Today the system is different, but the theory still holds. Today it is called the ‘divine right of capital.’ The undereducated workers are taught, and they buy it, that those with the money are entitled to whatever it is they want and/or need, simply because they are rich. The mortgage banker, CEO, inter-locking corporate board types are surrounded by private security guards and security systems to make sure that the workers do not try to change the system, and the state supports the status quo.
Since money is now god, the fusion is no longer between church and state but between corporations and state. In medieval times the myth was that God wants the nobility to live off of the peasants. Today the myth is that you, little worker, can someday be one of the super-rich, if you work hard and apply yourself diligently. In the meantime, God wants the super-rich to rule you. That myth is alive and well.
The percentage of people today, who in theory can move up the social class ladder is large, but the actual percentage of those who actually do so is extremely small. But, to perpetuate the myth, great amounts of media attention is given to those few who actually move up, and none to those who don’t.
In medieval times there was no way to move up, to change your social class position. In reality, it is the same today, but the myth is perpetuated by extolling the few who manage to pull it off. The barriers to upward mobility into the upper class are many, and strong, and self-perpetuating.
George W. Bush is a classic example. Here was a guy who had no talent, no intellect, and severe substance abuse problems, but the social class barriers protected him from homelessness, while they effectively keep the vast majority from moving up. Private prep schools, inherited wealth, private country clubs, etc. keep out all but those who will join in sustaining the barriers.
The underlying myth that supports the operative myth is that we are a classless society. The corporate controlled media refrain from even using the term social class. Everyone from the middle-lower class to the upper-middle class says that they are middle class, while they vote for those who are destroying the middle class.
Given that it takes so much money to run for office, those who win are most often rich people or married to rich people. They are bribed by the corporate rulers to do their bidding. If you doubt this you’ve been asleep for 50 years. Corporate feudalism is alive and well, thank you. It is just as closed a system as was medieval feudalism.
Well, you say, let’s change the system. First of all, the great majority of people do not even realize that the system is working against them; they blame themselves or an abstraction called ‘the economy,’ rather than those who rule. Secondly, the government supports the system, and has at its disposal vast tools of repression unknown in human history. Thirdly, in order to change a system you have to have something else to change it to that the masses of people think will work and will believe in, and that does not exist today. Fourth, the violent revolutions of the past have not produced advancement in human freedom. This is true even in the liberal democracies of Western Europe and the US. The choices are to vote for one lackey of the corporate rulers or a different lackey, and it doesn’t really matter which one wins anymore.
So each of us of a progressive bent must make a decision as to what is to be done. We are at an impasse. It takes decades, if not centuries, to change a ruling system. The population issue, the environmental issue, the consumerism issue, the breakdown of each of our major social systems, including education, the legal system, the economy, and the family, leaves us short on time to change the system before it destroys us all. Shall we continue to fight the good fight, or shall we turn on and drop out, or shall we listen to Jesus and forget it since it’s the next world that matters, or shall we listen to the Marxists who think it’s still 1917, or shall we listen to Buddha who advised us to be in the world but not of it, or shall we join a cult, or shall we try to get rich and join them, or shall we join the nihilists who say nothing matters, or shall we go into the alternative economy, or shall we…?
Far ‘n Away Farm, Virginia
Concerning the article by Robert Hal Brame in the December 29 AVA, “Exigent Circumstances.”
Robert, do you recall walking and talking one day with me and Charles when another man broke into our conversation with an inane remark prompting Charles to say, “You're an idiot!” Now you have earned those words with your idiotic advocation of legalized torture of suspects. You don't think the cops would misuse a power to torture, ala inquisition?
I sent your first story to the AVA because it was true and well written. Stick to writing from your experience, Rob, and quit trying to think, as you never have been any good at it.
Once you told me and Charles about odd “science facts” that you had heard on the radio the previous day. You blushed when we informed you that those were jokes, we listened to them also. I'd like to think that you can now tell science information from a joke and that your letter in the AVA was really satire. However, I know you and, even though I still like you, I must say, you're an idiot!
Freedom & health,
Bruceton Mills, West Virginia
CINDI GOT HER GUN
Greetings from a US paratrooper MP and retired Mendocino County deputy sheriff.
My name is Craig A. Keiser and I believe there is no such thing as retirement. Especially when it comes to looking out after my neighbors and their property. I established Neighborhood Watch programs throughout Mendocino County. I picked out those white and black color “burglar” signs you may see around.
I truly have some really scary stories, but nothing scares me like knowing where law enforcement in Mendocino County is at right now. Or rather, where they are not at right now.
I just read about a senior citizen in fear of having even less response from the law. So it's off to get a gun. If the mindset is, “I'll just figure out how to use it,” I'm scared to the point of making this commitment:
I will provide a free, one-on-one, handgun familiarity consultation to any senior citizen residing in Mendocino County.
Direction in forming and maintaining effective Neighborhood Watch programs will also be gladly provided.
I am a certified firearms instructor and police trainer (range master) in firearms, simulated firearms, and chemical weapons or mace.
I have had the privilege of providing basic instruction in the personal use of a firearm to the Honorable Cindy Mayfield, whom qualified not only to the degree of carrying a handgun but to the degree of carrying my own personal Glock 40. I also have the recommendation of District Attorney C. David Eyster.
For there to be any way I can help please write to: firstname.lastname@example.org and thank you in advance.
Craig A. Keiser
Kudos once again to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. He held a press conference in London with former Swiss banker Rudolph Elmer who had been the manager of the Cayman Islands branch of Swiss bank Julius Baer. Elmer is under indictment in Switzerland for violation of banking secrecy laws. Elmer gave Assange a CD containing a list of about 2,000 clients that he said may have evaded taxes. He sold the CD at the press conference. The list included about 40 politicians and pillars of society. He later told a London newspaper that the list included business people, politicians, people who have made their living in the arts and multinational conglomerates from both sides of the Atlantic. Assange said WikiLeaks would verify and release the information during the next two weeks.
Elmer apparently released this information as an act of his conscience. Unfortunately, he will soon find out that the life of a martyr can be very unpleasant. As for Assange, he is doing what every journalist should do — get to the truth and publish it.
RADIATION LOWERS INSULIN?
A recent Press Democrat article says PG&E’s Smart meters are okay? Hardly! Simultaneous to one study saying it needed more studies, Sage and Associates released a study that showed that the SM is beyond FCC standards or more powerful than a cell tower at 10 feet. And that is not including reflection gain and multiple meter synergy.
I wondered also why would there be so many willing to demonstrate, complain to the CPUC, supervisors etc., if they were great devices with no problems. By November 2009 there were 40,000 complaints that include gross overcharges which unresolved are just price gouging. Many of the complaints included damage to personal electronic devices including household furnaces, and interference with wireless devices, even fires. Then there’s the National Institute of Health’s warning about the impacts of wireless on bio-implants like brain, heart, insulin and hearing. That also included any metal device inside one’s body including joints and dentition. Heart surgery survivors are warned to stay away from wireless and microwave while PG&E wants to create an all-encompassing wireless grid. With the Sage report indicating that the meters violate FCC standards at 10 feet, this constitutes a taking of real property space in a person’s home (100 sq feet minimum for a PG&E substation.)The FCC standard is 100 times higher any European standard and is based on Thermal and not nonthermal impacts. One group resolution by concerned scientist to change the obsolete standards had 3000 signatures.
Smart meter electrical sensitivity victims are running in front of the SM roll out wave. These are new folks to join the 3-10% electro sensitive populace, part of US disabilities and documented in Sweden. Impacted people cannot live in traditional homes with the power on. They are very worried. That could be you. All caused by a bully monopoly rolling over ratepayers while CPUC edges them on!
Connecticut implemented a pilot study approach while our most environmentally conscious state allows a roll-out mandated by the California’s PUC. The PUC response lines could be linked to PG&E’s as they sound identical. Smart meters are untested on this level, undemocratic and a forced mandate that is impacting sensitive people. They won’t even save power or as the charge increases indicate, we are using more. There’s nothing safe or smart about PG&E dangerous roll-out. If you homeowners allow this you will seriously regret it. Refuse smart meters!
Stickers for power panels to refuse smart meters are available at most natural food stores, All that good Stuff and Jack’s in AV. Look there for petitions and flyers. Call 895-2667 for signs, locations etc. Also watch for forums on the topic in your area.
Call your supervisor now if you want a moratorium 961-2996 (coast), 463-4221(inland).
SYNCHRONIZE YOUR WATCHES
Ask the average person — who invented the wristwatch? And I’ll bet you get blank stares. It’s astonishing so little is known about the origin of this common device. One of the reasons — the history of wristwatches goes way back.
Probably the first wrist-worn, time keeping capability is attributable to Alexander the Great — the foremost general of ancient times. His success on the battlefield was legendary and partially attributable to his ability to coordinate military operations.
His secret for battlefield coordination was a mysterious light-sensitive chemical. He soaked narrow little bands of cloth in this substance. The night before a battle, each of his commanders tied one of these strips around his wrist.
As dawn approached, the men were ready. The attack signal came at dawn, via an instantaneous color shift in the cloth strips. All commanders saw the color shifts at the same moment. All attacked — simultaniously — overwhelming the opposition.
This is arguably the earliest reference to a very primitive (but effective) form of wristwatch.
For anyone interested in more information, I suggest a Google search. Try “Alexander’s Ragtime Band.”
LISTEN UP, DAN
Dear Supervisor Hamburg,
We, members of the Anderson Valley Unity Club, have invested years of effort to ensure that our community receives adequate police coverage from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department. Recently we spear-headed a campaign to provide a police dog for our second deputy; the community raised over $25,000 in this campaign which will cover purchase of the dog and training and supplies for the dog and his deputy.
We are angered by the recent and proposed cuts to the Sheriff’s Department by the County Supervisors. Public safety is elemental, a basic requirement for the existence and future of our fine way of life here in this rural county.
We demand that you lead the way within the Board of Supervisors and find other sources of funds to balance the County budget. Consideration should be given to cutting personal expenses of Supervisors for travel, mail, and conferences. In these difficult economic times we should protect our own, first and foremost.
The Anderson Valley Unity Club