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Letters (March 31, 2021)

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We are fortunate to live in a valley with the Anderson Valley Fire/Emergency Services Department and the Anderson Valley Health Center whose personnel were responsible for getting free covid vaccine shots into so many of us.

Their competent, professional and practical execution of vaccinations has made all of us much safer. The shots cost nothing. How much of your medical treatment is free?

Both of these entities always need money for equipment and supplies. How about a small donation to honor the time, energy and care they donated to us? $5, $10, $20 or more from individuals or families? How about businesses, wineries and the school district and local stores whose employees were vaccinated coming up with a small donation? When we have small donations from many people we are supporting our “sense of community.” Your other alternative would be to add a bit more to your regular yearly donation with a note of thanks explaining why.

Let's respect ourselves by respecting them. Cicero said, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.”

Beverly Dutra


Anderson Valley Fire / EMS Department, PO Box 398, Boonville, CA 95415

Anderson Valley Health Center, PO Box 338, Boonville, CA 95415

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To the Editor:

This is no precise simile, but I’ll make it anyway: the arm wrestling to bend back Lee at Gettysburg took three days; Shiloh took two; Antietam — the bloodiest single day battle in American history — was a single day. Sherman’s scorching of the southern earth on his way to the sea — Atlanta to Savannah — took two months.

Hitler’s last major offensive in WW2, what Churchill called “the greatest American battle” in the Ardennes Forest of Belgium — the Battle of the Bulge — lasted six brutal weeks.

Our front line workers have now been battling covid for a year.

William Walls


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Dear Planning Commissioners and Members of the Board of Supervisors,

I have been a rancher in Mendocino County for over sixty years. My wife Susan and I raised our three children in Round Valley, and now my granddaughter teaches school in Round Valley. During these six decades I have worked hard to contribute to the economic prosperity and environmental protection of this Valley and this County. I am sickened by what cannabis is doing to both.

I am well acquainted with how a Board of Supervisors can be lured by promises of riches from outside investors and large scale development. I was here when politicians from southern California promised lakeside development around the largest reservoir in the State; how Mendocino County could be part of a state-wide water project that would bring money, development and recognition to these quiet, rural hills and valleys. The Supervisors sitting in Ukiah at the time welcomed the attention and the prospect of money, jobs, and development. The Board was blind to the devastating community and environmental consequences, and ultimately the high costs of forcing the Eel River to flow to the south that would fall on the local people of the County. The citizens of Round Valley and the County fought back and ultimately convinced the Governor, Ronald Reagan, to cancel the project.

Fast on the heals of stopping the Dos Rios dam project came the proposal to build a vacation community of 30,000 residents in the hills surrounding Round Valley to the south. The “MY Ranch” developers came from outside the County with briefcases full of fancy brochures and promises of a booming economy based on thousands of vacationers driving in and out of Round Valley. Once again the Board of Supervisors was drawn by the lure of outside money shoring up the County’s economy, but were blind to the environmental constraints and costs of that kind of development in the County. Where would the water come from? Who would maintain the roads, provide the services, haul away the trash, police this new city of part-timers? Once again the people of Mendocino County wrested the decision from a shortsighted Board. “My Ranch” was soundly defeated in nearly every precinct in the County in a county-wide referendum.

I could point to similar examples in the timber industry in which small local logging companies succumbed to the lure of big outside corporations and sold their lands to the G-P’s and L-P’s of the timber world. Once in control these outside corporations sucked the timber out of the County at an unsustainable rate, leaving the County with a generational gap in inventory and in good paying local jobs. The story is always the same — the lure of riches today and a willing blindness to the costs of tomorrow.

The issue before the Commission today is the same grab for money. This Board appears willing to trade the County’s good looks and figure, her water and open space, her quiet neighborly communities for a booming cannabis marketplace, while the gold rush lasts, and turn a blind eye to the consequences.

In 2016, the voters of the County wisely and soundly said NO to Measure AF, the ballot measure that would have done just what this new ordinance is proposing — open almost every area of the County to cannabis cultivation and its associated development, and let the State determine how or even whether to limit the size of operations. Like “My Ranch,” this ballot Measure went down to defeat in every supervisorial district. 

In 2017, the Board, with citizen input, crafted a Cannabis ordinance that didn’t allow expansion into the County’s remote, water scarce rangelands, capped cultivation area size at 1/4 acre, and gave existing local growers a chance to get permitted first before opening the door to new growers. This was in keeping with this new relationship between the residents of our rural, close-knit communities and an emerging legal cannabis industry. This ordinance kept it local, small, and manageable.

Tragically, our CEO and Planning and Building Department staff saw things differently. They envisioned large new revenues from multimillion dollar companies coming into the County, and didn’t want to bother with the small-scale local growers. So, staff bluffed its way through meeting after meeting with a confused and inexperienced Board. In the manufactured chaos of lost applications, misrepresented rules and regulations, abandoned site inspections; faux fights with state agencies; legitimate applicants waiting for months, even years for direction from the staff, and near total failure to enforce either state or local regulations, some Board members, enabled by this manipulating staff, have now been drawn by the lure of well financed cannabis companies, owned and/or financed by outside investors, as a way to fill County coffers. And the Board is not just turning a blind eye to the long term consequences. They are blindly rushing headlong into approving this massive expansion of cannabis throughout the County using a temporary regulatory loophole that allows them to evade looking at the environmental consequences.

I urge you, as Planning Commissioners to tell the Board to table this ill-conceived proposed new ordinance and cease this tired grasping for easy money at the expense of the wishes of the majority of the citizens, the protection of the County’s open space and natural riches, and the culture of our integrated self reliant rural communities. I urge you to retain and enforce the existing ordinance. Bring integrity, trust, and care back to our communities.

As a young man raising my family in Covelo, agriculture meant animal husbandry, small scale agriculture, hands-on family enterprises. The kids were in 4-H, looked forward to the County Fairs, learned self-reliance and the importance of giving back to their community. Many small cannabis growers share these values. That’s why several of them risked exposure and considerable expense to apply for a County permit and state license. The people of Mendocino County are prepared to embrace this vision. It is your job as Commissioners to assure the peace and welfare of the citizens through appropriate zoning, and the Board’s job as representatives of the citizens, to fulfill this vision. It is not your job to fix the staff’s, or a cabal of a few supervisors’ short sighted economic schemes masquerading as “a new and improved cannabis ordinance.”

Richard Wilson

Buck Mountain Ranch, Covelo

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Chair Gjerde and Board Members, 

The Measure B report states “The County plans to own the building so it has control over provider costs, acceptance of clients and standards of care.” 

It's worth asking, when was this decision made and by whom? 

County Counsel has issued an opinion that the County may legally construct and co-locate facilities with another entity and control the equity interest of the County and operation of the facility through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the other entity. 

Co-location with a hospital facility will provide obvious economies of scale and is arguably the most cost effective and sustainable approach to development and operation of a Psychiatric Health Facility (PHF). 

However, if a vocal group of residents is given veto power over the location of a PHF it will never be built. NIMBYism related to a PHF is based on the stigmatization of behavioral health issues and ignorance of how such a facility will operate. 

I encourage the Board to make decisions on location of such a facility based on facts, functionality and sustainability, not unfounded fears. 


John McCowen 



Planning Commission Chair Pernell & Commissioners,

The 10% limitation is a reasonable compromise that allows the cannabis industry to provide legal opportunities for economic development in areas that desperately need it. A single commenter stated his company spends $2 million per month purchasing cannabis from out of the County. That is $24 million a year from one local company that could go to supporting local cultivators.

Is any other farmer limited to an acre of production? Or prohibited from cultivation in Rangeland?

Environmental concerns will be addressed by the Use Permit process which is not quick or easy. Standard conditions should include prohibitions on trucked water and strict limitations on hoop houses.

Enforcement is a separate issue that must be addressed by the Board of Supervisors. I urge you to adopt a statement to the Board recommending allocation of sufficient resources for Planning staff to process permits, Code Enforcement to respond to neighborhood nuisance complaints and the Sheriff's Office to shut down the outlaw growers who make no pretense of compliance. 

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Regarding your article by Marilyn Davin about school names in Mendocino County, published on Feb 24, 2021.

I met a Dana Gray a couple years ago, here in Inglenook.

As far as I know, she lives out Camp One Ten Mile River Rd. On the Gray ranch property.

I've no idea if there's any connection there, just wanted to let you know.

I too called the Dana Gray Elementary in Fort Bragg. The receptionist said she thought the name was given “Because the school is painted Gray.”

Thanks in advance for you attention to this matter.

Rob Somerton


Bernie Norvell replies: The Gray you met in Inglenook was Jay Gray, daughter of A.J. Gray. (The kid from Camp One.) Yes, a relative of Dana Gray.

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Governor Gavin Newsom’s Recall raises some issues for me. As a lifelong Democrat, I would not sign his recall petition, but I will vote for his recall unless he fixes the incompetence, if not corruption, at the Employment Development Department. Neither he nor his Democratic colleagues in the California legislature have probably ever received unemployment insurance.

They are clueless. I received help for a brief time in the late 1970s, and it saved my family’s life. Today, how many thousands of Californians are still futilely attempting to receive their unemployment benefits? On Nov. 29 of last year, The Chronicle’s editorial asked the governor to take personal responsibility for remedying a fundamental failure of his government. He ignored it. I would prefer to deal with a Republican governor who would be honest about his disdain for democracy than our current governor, who is, at best, incapable of helping those who need it most or, at worst, just another liberal hypocrite.

Tom Peck

San Francisco

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This is admittedly naive. Isn't America, champion of democracy, all about everybody having a vote? On an unrelated note: Do other musicians agree we could use a trombone player around here?

Tom Rickard

Fort Bragg

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Dear Editor,

All the furor about renaming civic sites misses the point. Growing up in the Bay Area, it was a point of pride to have schools named after Rosa Parks and Malcolm X. Changing Army Street to Cesar Chavez was a bold move. So was honoring Nelson Mandela with a parkway while he was still alive. Now I live in a city with a community college named after Medgar Evers. When I see his name on the sign, it warms my heart. 

There will always be plenty of buildings and boulevards named after old presidents. Renaming a handful of them is not denying history, just acknowledging more of it. 

Aaron Cometbus

New York City, New York

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My name is Walter ‘Kris’ Miller. I am serving a life sentence and currently housed at Lancaster State Prison in Los Angeles County, California. I am a Level 4 maximum-security inmate. It is a very cold and harsh environment. Men are men and the weak are preyed upon.

I say all that to say this. I cried the other day in a world where you just don't cry and if you do you don't let anyone see you.

I've lost many friends over the last eight years but Dave Bollinger passed away from a disease that just wouldn’t let go of him: Heroin. Dave has been a friend of mine for over 20 years. He has stuck with me through all the BS on the streets and also on prison yards. He was a solid friend, a good man and a voice of reason. He lost his mom. She was the bartender at the Water Trough for as long as I can remember. When he lost her he lost part of himself. They are together again and they are sorely missed. 

I love you brother. Your passing has reminded me that I am human.

Rest in peace, brother.

Kris ‘Ludicrous’ Miller


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How many people have to die in mass shootings before there is the political will to pass reasonable gun control legislation such as a renewed assault weapons ban?

Initial reports suggest that the Boulder, Colo., gunman used an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle. Similar weapons were used in the Aurora movie theater shooting, Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Orlando nightclub shooting, Las Vegas shooting, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, and Tree of Life synagogue shooting.

Experience shows that an assault weapons ban would save lives. The number of mass shootings with six or more fatalities fell 37 percent during the 10-year period beginning in 1994 when an assault weapons ban was in effect as compared with the preceding 10-year period. 

After the ban expired in 2004, the number of mass shootings with six or more fatalities rose 183 percent over the ensuing 10-year period.

Thoughts and prayers won’t stop the bloodshed and tears. But a well-crafted assault weapons ban would reduce the number and lethality of mass shootings.

Stephen A. Silver

San Francisco

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A while back, I forget the name of the woman, you ran an article about a woman who needed a liver donor. I don't know if I'm compatible. In addition, I'm in jail. I'm a healthy 31-year-old man and I would be willing to be a donor if they are able to figure out the logistics. I don't remember the woman's name but if I can help I would like to.


Andrew Martinez #380

Mendocino County Jail

951 Low Gap Road

Ukiah, CA 95482

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One out of three Willits residents are refusing the vax. We can't have that can we? Unvaxed people will not be allowed to attend church services indoors. They will not be allowed in stores where candy and coloring books are sold. No entry to places where condoms, dildos and girlie magazines are for sale. If the anti-vax wants to buy groceries they must he placed inside an aluminum box with a window so they can point to what they want to buy. For this service they will have to pay a 15% surcharge. Beer joints with six televisions will welcome anti-vaxxers, maskless patriots and seven varieties of bimbos who are looking for a good time. So as you can see, Willits has something for everyone.

I want to get into an important subject. For this I will need the support of the Editor. Just what exactly happened to the public bank? Who is holding it up? Who is being paid off to kill it? Of course the existing banks don't like the idea. Public banks exist all over the country. Hell, in North Dakota, a statewide public bank has been around since Buffalo Bill chased Sitting Bull across the state and caught up with him when Sitting Bull stopped to have a bowel movement. He just wanted Sitting Bull to join his show. I'm asking the Editor to look into this matter and tell us the status of the proposed public bank and how much county revenue is going to the existing banks who are experiencing hard times. Such a shame. Screw them banksters.

Thom Hartmann was on Ralph Nader's program a couple of weeks ago. They were talking about the lack of lefty talk radio. I have an idea for Marques at the AVA. Forget about those tired and boring subjects like Measure B and compile a list of lefty radio programs, lefty Internet and lefty print. You can start right down the road at the PD. (This new editor Green is set to Gannettize the PD by the looks of his writings the other day.) AVA readers will thank Marques for this public service. The last time Marques performed a public service was when he covered the opening of the In-N-Out burger joint in Ukiah.

A prediction: the Democrats will have a tough time getting any legislation through the Senate. The Phila-buster means they will have to get 10 Republicans or more to join in.

My last prediction: In November I said Tampa Bay would win the Super Bowl. In as much as Thom Hartmann can read a list of all the many provisions of the relief bill along with their dollar amounts, why can't the print media do it? 

Not recommended book review: The widely popular “Hillbilly Elegy,” an autobiography of a boy through middle-age person living in the industrial city of Middletown, Ohio. On a scale of 10 I give it a six. Recommended reading: “Close Range” by Annie Proulx. Could it happen? 

Bob Bushanski? Mr. Editor, do you want to beat on my program next Friday? Quien sabe?

Driving around the Maritime provinces of Canada I noticed Saturday public yard sales in small towns. Usually in a supermarket parking lot. Driving around the Negro neighborhoods in Las Vegas on Sunday: the takeover of closed store parking lots for the sales of clothing and other items by residents. I suppose something like this got started in Willits, Ukiah and Fort Bragg. It would drive authority figures crazy, but nothing could be done about it. It would make a good story. Send it to the Times.

A guy named Ammon Hennessy from Indiana wrote a book entitled “Autobiography of a Catholic Anarchist.” Ammon lived the life of civil disobedience. He didn't believe in rules. I first met him in Seattle when he was flogging his book. He battled the IRS and the Selective Service, working in vegetable farms in Arizona and Southern California so he could avoid all taxes. I had a lot in common with him as I had played hide and seek with the Selective Service and the FBI in 1946 and again from 1948-1951 where I avoided going to jail by about an hour and a half by convincing a doctor that I hadn't had rheumatic fever just before I was supposed to get on a train for a military base in South Carolina. I was tipped off about rheumatic fever by an intern from Bellevue Hospital who I met at the White Horse Tavern in the Village who had worked for the Selective Service.

I had decided long before that that I was not going to learn how to kill people nor actually engage in killing them. The FBI caught up with me in New York in August of 1951 when I was shipping out for New York. I had to make the 10 o'clock call at the union hall which was located on West 17th Street. Then I would walk across town to the Bowery where the Catholic Worker was located in a beat up building. Ammon had a room there in exchange for routine duties. A bare room with a bed. By this time Ammon was in his 80s with only one tooth. The Catholic Worker was a collection place for used clothing and other stuff from various Catholic charities. (Alexander Cockburn New Ammon.) At 11 each morning people would start coming in looking for donated items. Ammon was in charge of handing out the stuff. Sometimes it got to be overwhelming so I would give him a hand until everything was passed out. One morning a bum came barefooted and asked for shoes. We gave him a pair of shoes. 45 minutes later he came in again and asked a pair of shoes. We gave him another pair of shoes. He had traded the first pair for a bottle of Sneaky Pete. I did not see Dorothy Day there. In the evenings Ammon liked to go over to the village, stand on the corner of Bleeker Street and watch the hippie girls.

Years ago most lefties read The Nation magazine when Alexander Cockburn came over from the Village Voice. He became their most popular writer. Christopher Hitchens was the second most popular. Cockburn had a column every other week and the next week there would be letters to the editor objecting to something Cockburn wrote. Disingenuous, shading the truth, never let the facts get in the way of a good story, etc. Cockburn liked to write about celebrities where he told stories that no one had ever heard of — a scoop. But always they were contradicted by the target.

Ralph Bostrom


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So we are lucky that a law firm in Kansas City, Missouri, is rescuing us unsuspecting North Bay residents from more recreational bike trails and biker commute options. Phew. Thank you Stewart, Wald and McCulley, and thanks to your partners, the almost local firm of Kershaw, Cook and Talley (Sacramento). We love your business model: scour historic and public records across the U.S. to find unsuspecting communities and/or local entities that want to repurpose old unused railroad tracks. Slam them with a lawsuit seeking damages and use up our precious legal resources to reap ill-gotten gains. Who needs more recreational resources or alternative commute options anyway when you can feed some hungry lawyers in Kansas City?

Karin and Rob Ricker

Santa Rosa

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