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Letters (February 10, 2021)

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INSIDE THE POST OFFICE

Dear AVA,

Long time no write. My subscription expiring provides me a good excuse. It will be 16 years for me with the Postal Service in April and isn't our Postmaster General some piece of work! Between the insane pre-funding of retiree benefits 25 years in advance unlike any other federal agency and the deliberate dismantling of processing machines, it's a miracle the Postal Service did as well as it did during the election. Thanks to Darryl Issa and W. for passing the pre-funding law.

In our facility (San Francisco Processing and Distribution Center) some of the machines that were taken apart were added on to existing machines to make them 50% longer. The bottom line is that the computerized sort plans that end up sorting letters for carriers in the order they deliver them have been condensed. This causes trays to fill up faster. This also allows them to run more mail. 

San Mateo, for instance, has four zip codes. Previously it was run on two machines with two people staffing each machine. Now on the larger machines they can run San Mateo on one machine. Twice as much work for the two people on the longer machine is a setup for Worker's Compensation and disability cases. I have worked on the longer machines and it is hell. Trays are filling up left and right. If the stackers that hold the mail before I put it in a tray fill up, an alarm goes off which affects how your performance is viewed by management.

I am asking everyone who supports the Postal Service and does not want it privatized to lean on our representatives to have our president fill the vacancies on the Postal Service Board of Governors and fire an obvious political appointment. Unlike our token secretary of war (it's not defense people!) Who “only” has $500,000 in Raytheon stock, which is a war contractor, our Postmaster General has $25 million invested in our two main competitors, UPS and FedEx. Dejoy has to go — why hasn't he been fired already?

And don't get me started on the 611 children still in concentration camps, longing to be reunited with their families. If you are a parent and this doesn't make you angry, well I'm sorry for your children because you have no heart. Don't give me “they deserve it.” We as a nation have done this hideous violation of human rights and decency whereas before Chump we didn't do this to families. Leave the immigration debate for another day because we have families to rebuild from our foul actions. Got humanity?

I am not optimistic about my fellow Americans. Cute Bernie Sanders memes instead of advocating for the many things that need to be changed. Fawning over token appointments instead of demanding Medicare for All. On and on. It doesn't look good for us to ever bring the war budget home. Why is this still the third rail of American politics? Does anyone think someone wants to invade us?

The money is there in Daddy Warbucks’ pocket to pay the landlords and tenants, to institute Medicare for all, and rebuild America with enough change left over to turn our armed forces into those rebuilders. Make them all into Seabees (construction battalions) and expand the Corps of Engineers to aid in rebuilding this country's infrastructure. I can dream, can't I?

Let's save small businesses, the engine of our consumerist economy while were at it! That we can't be helped by our own government when millions don't know how they are going to pay for food and shelter, while they scheme to play Star Trek in space sickens me.

Unlike most people in America I like to read from histories. I came across a quote from Buenaventura Durruti, a Spanish anarchist who died in defense of Madrid:

“We are not afraid of ruins, we are going to inherit the earth. The bourgeoisie may blast and ruin their world before they leave the stage of history. But we carry a new world in our hearts.”

I pray that may come to pass, but the destructive capability of the ruling class has multiplied since the 1930s. What or who can stop this madness? Will the New World in our hearts be enough? End of Sermon.

Personally, I've been diminished by losing my friend of 50 years, my lover for 17 years and my wife of over seven years, Melissa McChesney Jackson. One person who was so many things to me. We met in high school and although we had a moment together, we remained friends. In college we were an item for two years or so. She took me to the Santa Cruz Poetry Festival to see two of my poetic heroes, Ken Kesey and Bob Kaufman read. I took her to the Paramount Theater to see Bob Marley. In October 2019 we finally went to our beloved Jamaica and spent 12 days in paradise.

Melissa had a hard life. Abused by her mother, bullied by her peers, she sought solace in drugs as I did when I was younger. We were beatniks turned hippies turned punk rockers. She survived meth use, being a junkie, and hepatitis C. She dealt every day with PTSD, having been kidnapped and was this close to dying when she was 19. We met again in 2004 when attending my oldest friend Tom Edminster's birthday party. Sparks flew between us, a blaze was kindled. I will miss her until I see her on the other side. She died instantly of an apparent cardiac arrest, falling into my arms one last time. The date was January 11, 2021, a day that symbolizes many things to me. That day in 1987 my only child Paloma was born. In 2001 my divorce became final that day and was that ever a twist of the knife. A day that will delight and haunt me forever. Damn it! Joy and suffering are supposed to alternate in this life, not coalesce on one date. What's done is done, and I am powerless.

But I am not alone, with my friends and my family and those of my faith supporting me. I will seek love and companionship like Melissa always told me to do when she's gone. Her health was fragile for years and we knew it was inevitable (as it is for us all).

They say God never gives us more than we can carry. I didn't know I was that strong.

In closing, I pray that you and yours are well and aloha to all my Valley friends. A Luta Continua! (The struggle continues.)

One love, one heart.

Mark Jackson

Hercules

ED NOTE: Mr. Jackson once was a resident of Navarro in the Anderson Valley.

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BLAHUT THE CONTRITE?

Back in September of 2019 Michael Blahut complained that the AVA had not “asked me one time what my side of the story is.” The original story was our report of the court case involving an incident which brought Mr. Blahut to court: "Mr. Nice Guy Goes Away." We simply informed Mr. Blahut that we’d be happy to report his version of events and that he needn’t wait to be asked. Last week, more than a year later, Mr. Blahut finally replied...

Ed Note

It has obviously taken me sometime to reconstruct the events that happened on that day.

I ordered a cheeseburger and a soda for $2 and change then I passed out. While asleep my foot must have pushed both pedals. I woke up when the air bag went off and my car was in a pole. Then I exited my vehicle and was standing still outside my car. Doug ran up to me and put both hands around my neck. I thought this guy must be crazy and that I should not hit him because I would get into more trouble. I looked around and saw several video cameras in the area, so I felt good about spraying Doug in the face as I ran away. I kept a can of bear mace in my driver’s door. I did not even see the second man who must have walked into the cloud. All video camera footage was erased and unavailable according to my first lawyer Peterson. The woman who was working the drive-thru that day that was going to tell the same story as I disappeared before the trial.

As I left the scene in my 2 strap Birkenstock Arizona sandals (hard to run in those), I stopped when I saw the first police officer. He ordered me to the ground and as I was crouching down another officer that I did not see pounced on my back creating all the injuries I sustained that day. Doug and the Mc D’s manager never pushed me to the ground. I imagine they were told to say that they injured me to get attention away from who really did.

Then I was taken to the hospital and strapped to a gurney and a needle forced into my arm to get my blood alcohol content.

I never contested the DUI. I was offered a deal at the beginning which included only one felony use of pepper spray and did not include the Great Bodily Injury charge. I refused the deal on principal because I did not want to admit to something I did not do and have it on my record. That is when they added the most serious charge of Great Bodily Injury which involves permanent bodily deformation. As the judge said later, the jury does not know the penalties or differences between the hundreds of different law codes.

The appellate court in San Francisco overturned two of the three felonies that I was convicted of. We took the final charge and case to the California Supreme Court in Sacramento, but they did not want to hear it.

I am sincerely sorry for the events that happened that day. I have nothing personal against the family as I have never seen them before that day. I created a wrong and I will do whatever it takes to make things right.

Michael Blahut

Ukiah

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DUPED ON PROP 19

Editor: 

I am a Sonoma County Realtor. A representative from the California Association of Realtors came to a Petaluma chapter meeting last year asking for help getting Proposition 19 on the ballot, saying it would allow wildfire victims, the elderly and disabled people to keep their property tax rate while moving anywhere in the state when selling, never mentioning family transfers would be affected. I took the petitions, had 27 people sign and mailed them to Sacramento. 

Proposition 19 made it on the ballot, and to my surprise, not only did it cover the property tax transfer, it removed familial property tax transfers. The family home can only transfer with the current tax rate if their child moves into the home. Otherwise, the family home and income property is readjusted to the current tax value and rate. 

I saved print ads and nowhere in any of those does it mention familial transfers of property being eliminated. The video ad I saved shows the privileged with champagne and their mansion and says stop taking money away from our schools by the trust fund elite. It is on record that the California Association of Realtors spent more than $27 million supporting Proposition 19, and even as a Realtor, I was duped by them. 

Judi Allewelt

Petaluma

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PATENT ASSISTANCE, PLEASE

Editor,

My name is James A. Lee Jr., proud owner of a United States patent titled: The Bucket Handle Retainer. For all you readers who take interest, Google The Bucket Handle Retainer. My invention was invented off Boonville Road on Robinson Creek Road. I was building two cabins for my customer. He knows how to write patents. He actually wrote my patent. At this time I am looking for investors up to 40%. The tentative sale of my patent is still in the process to a friend of mine for the price of $3 million. He wants to keep me involved with the marketing and distribution. My son and I googled The Bucket Handle Retainer after I received the patent in the mail. The results were utterly amazing. I also made the front page of the Ukiah Daily Journal in 2016. We were in the talking stages with Leaktite Corp., a large manufacturer of 5 gallon buckets. Leaktite supplies their products to Home Depot, Ace Hardware, True Value hardware, Rainbow Ag, Friedman Home Improvement Centers and many other businesses coast to coast. 

I would really like to retain ownership of my patent. It took me three years to obtain it. My product is inexpensive, helpful, reusable, a back saver, and made from recycled plastic. Kelly Moore paints based in San Carlos California has 149 stores nationwide, mostly in California. Kelly Moore paints in Ukiah on Gobbi St. is where I met Jeff, their buyer, and demonstrated my product with the Kelly-Moore 5 gallon bucket. Jeff as well as the store’s staff were very impressed with The Bucket Handle Retainer. Jeff stated that when I obtain the patent he would want my product in every store. 

Now that I have the patent, my son e-mailed Kelly Moore paints over the holidays. We have not heard back as yet. Anyone interested in investing please call Aiden Lee or text him at 707/510-9896. You can also e-mail him at lee17@i.cloud.com. My other son Ryan Lee can be contacted at 707-367-7858 or you contact him at the same number.

You can also respond by mail to the owner/inventor: James A Lee Jr., 705 North State St. #613, Ukiah, CA 95482-3797.

Please help us make my patent a household and business must. Buckets are everywhere -- restaurants, orchards, dairy farms, etc.

For example, Home Depot sells 500,000 buckets a week nationwide. The possibilities are endless. My patent is good for 18 more years, so the investor, big or small, will be receiving an extra income for many years to come. I have many other ideas that are helpful and could become patents. I also have three youtube videos. All parties interested in investing in The Bucket Handle Retainer, please contact me at the above address or electronically.

James A. Lee Jr.

Ukiah

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WHY I WRITE

Editor,

I've been a subscriber to the AVA for almost 20 years now and a regular letter to the editor writer for several years.

In the mid-and late 90s into the early 2000s I used to regularly write letters to the Coastal Post, a monthly alternative newspaper out of Bolinas. That paper went out of print in about 2006.

My motivation for writing letters to alternative papers for the last 26 years is primarily to express things that I feel are not safe to share with other Americans. Very few of my letters over the years have been political. In most of my letters I object to things about Americans and life in the society that bother me. I certainly do not consider myself anywhere near radical in my views. As a matter of fact I consider most of my complaints to be reasonable, angry but not anything extreme.

At this point after averaging writing at least one letter a month over the past year and a half or so, I feel perhaps I said about all I have to say. I've been grateful to have papers like the AVA and Coastal Post to share my complaints about the society with readers. 

But the rewards seem to be waning for me. I've never received payment for anything I've written in my life and other than one reply in the letters section by an AVA columnist a few months ago to one of my letters about one of her articles, I've never had a letter replying to any of my letters in the AVA. 

It's interesting to me that the extremist letter writer from Comptche gets letters printed in response to him but I've never received one. I think that's very representative of America in 2021, that letters with a harsh, judgemental, reactionary tone like the guy from Comptche gets responses but never my letters which I would classify as sober and reasonable.

Keith Bramstedt

San Anselmo

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WE'RE NUMBER… LAST

Editor,

California: Dead last.

California ranks 50th among the states in percentage of delivered COVID-19 vaccines that have been injected. Dead last. West Virginia ranks first. Growing up in California, West Virginia was belittled in schoolyard humor. Now hillbillies can snicker at California’s pretensions of superiority.

The late state historian Kevin Starr described in “Golden Dreams” how the California of my youth created a utopian world-class multiversity, constructed an interconnected freeway and road system that was the envy of the world and built the most ambitious water storage and distribution system in history.

Today, California can’t figure out how to inject patients with vaccines during a ghastly pandemic. Millions of doses sit unused in cold storage. In Sonoma County, I’m stymied trying to get my 96-year-old mother vaccinated.

Two thousand years ago, Emperor Nero fiddled while imperial Rome burned. Today, Gov. Gavin Newsom schmoozes with high and mighty lobbyists at the world’s most expensive restaurants and seems more interested in savoring his privileged life than governing. My home state embarrasses me.

Craig S. Harrison

Santa Rosa

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A PIECE OF HISTORY

Dear AVA,

Once in the 1960s Martin Luther King was the invited speaker of the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. He was invited to the luncheon by an Alameda businessman.

After his speech there was polite applause and soon there were two people left in the room: Dr. King and me. I went up to the podium and shook his hand. He gave me his signature on some sort of card used for questions to the speaker. That card rests today on a little bookcase next to my bed. I see it every night as I turn off my light. It says, "Best wishes, Martin Luther King." (In pencil)

Ashley Jones

Alameda

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IT’S DANGEROUS IN HERE

Editor,

This as Gerald Crandall Simpson writing it to say I feel violated and racially discriminated against by inmates, staff, members, and correctional deputies.

THey took me from C-Mod 3 to C-Mod 10 and then covered my window and door with plastic sheets and put my friend in the hospital. He is now dead. He will be missed. I hope I will continue on for a lot longer. I am a 51-year-old Native American Indian and I had negative results on my covid-19 test until January 7 and January 9. I was put in the same cell as Ransome Anderson and was exposed that way against my will. I had no say in where they put me in C-Mod and it is still that way now.

I am fighting to keep away from infected people and inmates. Ransome Anderson was in my cell room for one month when he got sick and went to the hospital where he later passed away from cancer, or so they are saying. But we were in quarantine at that time. He got sick and put me in a plastic window and door covered room with three other inmates who were all positive for the Covid-19 virus. I was the only one not sick in my cell at the time. Everyone else was with symptoms of the coronavirus and could have the coronavirus. I got tested on January 7 and was positive and again on January 9 was positive. They kept me in with three other infected people until I caught the virus myself.

I am now in A-tank with five other inmates and myself. We are over the virus but we keep our masks on when out of the room and our cell so we all don't give or get the virus again.

As for Ransome Anderson, he will be missed and was liked by a lot of inmates in here. He was a great guy with a lot to say and will be missed by me. He is my relative from Covelo. His passing has opened my eyes to the covid-19 virus and how dangerous and serious it is and how easily we can pass away in here and no one cares.

Here is a little about the food we get: three meals a day — cold cereal breakfast, lunch is called “hot” but it's cold when we eat it. Dinner is two sandwiches with milk and an orange. That's our meals here and has been the whole time I've been here. We wash in our own sinks our cells for 14 days with no showers. We have never left our cells once while we were on quarantine for 14 days. The whole C-Mod was locked down and we were the only ones with the virus.

Gerald Simpson

Mendocino County Jail

951 Low Gap Road, Ukiah, CA 95482

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WHY THE BLM FLAG?

To the Editor:

Dear Ms. Boesel (who complained about a Black Lives Matter flag in Ukiah),

This letter is in response to your letter to the Editor of Jan. 13, 2021 regarding the Black Lives Matter flag and your call for the insertion of the American flag on the flagpole. The Black Lives Matter flag is not in any way related to the Redwood Children’s Services building. It is flying on a flagpole owned by me, and it is associated with the building I own, directly across from Redwood Children’s Services.

The only “political agenda” this flag comes with is the support of racial equality, and the end to racial injustice. Perhaps you’re not familiar with the concept.

You may be interested to know that:

The Flag Code requires that the US flag be flown on federal institutions, including public schools. It does not require you to fly the US flag if you are a private citizen.

For private citizens, the Flag Code serves as a guide to be followed on a purely voluntary basis to insure proper respect for the flag. The Supreme Court has ruled that politically motivated violations of the Flag Code are protected by the First Amendment.

4 U.S. Code § 8 Respect for flag:

(i) The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discarded. Advertising signs should not be fastened to a staff or halyard from which the flag is flown.

Because it is not a governmentally recognized flag, the Black Lives Matter flag could be construed as an advertising sign or flag. As such, if we were required to follow the flag code, we would be prohibited from flying the American flag with it. However, we are not a federal institution, so we are not required to fly the American flag and are acting in conformance with the code by not including it with non-recognized flags on the pole.

I am proud to be an American citizen and proud of what the American flag represents — as you say, “ALL Americans,” which includes Black Americans. Further, I am a former law enforcement officer and support law enforcement. What I do not support is illegal behavior on the part of a few law enforcement officers that has led directly to the deaths of too many of our black citizens.

The research you quote to support your position, that the flag should be removed, was a perfect example of the attitude that continues to contribute to racial inequality in this country. You stated that “to be fair” you checked on the demographics of Ukiah, and that our small town’s population is only one percent black, while “whites” make up 74 percent and Latinos four percent. Your notion that, because the city’s demographics indicate a lower percentage of people of color, those people of color do not deserve equal representation — is one of the many reasons we need the Black Lives Matter movement.

Respectfully,

Caren Callahan, Esq., 

Ukiah

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ON THE OTHER HAND…

Dear Supervisors,

According to Item 9a) on the Tuesday, February 9, 2021 Agenda, you are to evaluate the performance of CEO Carmel Angelo in closed session.

No doubt CEO Angelo will provide you with whatever positives she believes deserve recognition. 

However, since most of you are relatively new to CEO Angelo’s tenure, please allow me to provide some negatives you should also consider.

First, there is too much senior staff turnover under CEO Angelo, the departure of several of whom have resulted in costly lawsuits. (Barbara Howe, Harinder Grewal, Meribeth Dermond, to name a few.) Other departures, while not leading to lawsuits, have deprived the County of continuity of senior management and their hard-won accumulated experience and expertise.

A review of the April 2019 Grand Jury report, “Who Runs Mendocino County?” which addressed the CEO shows that:

• There is still no “succession plan” in the event of the departure of the CEO;

• There are still no “time frames” established for formal board directives, much less tracking of progress on those directives;

• Although the CEO claimed that “substantive department updates” are provided to the Board, very few such updates have in fact been provided, and those few have not been comprehensive.

Although the definition is somewhat loose, the CEO continues to put “controversial” items on the consent calendar.

In fact, none of the Grand Jury findings and responses relating to the CEO have been addressed or improved upon.

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In addition:

The CEO has wrongly appropriated the agenda setting of the Elected Supervisors. Due to the ill-conceived idea that having the CEO also be the Clerk of the Board, the Board has lost control of its own agenda and must lobby (or more accurately beg) its own employee to put important items from ELECTED OFFICIALS on the agenda. For example, when was the last time the CEO offered viable alternatives to major Agenda Items? Over the last couple of years agendas have included numerous major pre-packaged items that give the ELECTED OFFICIALS almost no choice but to approve them as presented or risk service interruptions. Further, agenda items no longer show which budget account will be affected if the item is approved.

• There are still no monthly or bi-monthly budget reports for all departments in a manner similar to any properly run organization, although the CEO has claimed to be “working on that” in the past. In addition, Budget officer Darcie Antle has not provided budget reports for months and there has been no follow-up reporting about the “sobering” fact (as described by Ms. Antle last July) that a significant amount of covid expenses may not be reimburseable under federal guidelines.

• Although promised last fall in the CEO report, there is no coordinated county-wide vaccination plan, despite the CEO having months of foreknowledge that such an important plan would be essential to bringing the pandemic under some kind of control in Mendocino County, and despite the fact that the County is funding one and a half professional health officers.

• There is still no plan on how to spend the $21 million of PG&E settlement money. 

• Millions of dollars are being wasted on a low-priority Crisis Residential Treatment facility on Orchard Avenue, a project which is essentially a glorified $1 million four-bedroom house being built for over $5 million. (The most expensive four-bedroom house for sale in Ukiah is about $1 million; even if you added another $1 million, you’d still be well below the wasteful $5 million now being spent, money that should go directly to Mental Health facilities and services.)

• The multi-year Exclusive Operating Area (EOA) idea that the CEO said would provide sorely needed financial assistance to the County’s underfunded inland emergency services ended in a very predictable flop, leaving the troubled and ill-coordinated ambulance services basically on their own and without additional funding. And the CEO’s promise to attempt to explore ways to reduce the cost of the bloated and far-removed Coastal Valley EMS services has not been pursued.

I fully expect that the Board will dismiss this as just another irrelevant piece of public expression that can be ignored with the usual, “Thank you for your input.” However, such a dismissal will only demonstrate to the public that our Elected Officials do not have the requisite independence to exercise the authority over the County’s well-paid CEO and the related County matters that they were elected to “supervise.”

Mark Scaramella

Boonville, Fifth District

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