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Letters (October 7, 2021)

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WHO’S ANNEXING WHO? & WHO PAYS?

TO: Mendocino County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) 200 South School Street, Ukiah, California 95482 

RE: Ukiah Valley Fire Protection District Annexation Proposal 

LAFCo Commissioners: 

I wanted to reach out regarding the Ukiah Valley Fire Protection District’s annexation proposal coming before your board, and to share my concerns regarding this proposal, which appears to be advancing with little public awareness and even less understanding on the implications to taxpayers should this proposal be adopted. 

The primary concern is the annexation’s tax consequence for property owners in Ukiah. As you know, the annexation will subject all properties in the city to parcel taxes that were not approved by Ukiah voters. By current estimates, Ukiah property owners bear a new tax burden of $850,000 to $1 million each year. Yet, by the agencies’ own reporting, city residents will not enjoy any appreciable improvement in the service they receive. That consequence of annexation has not been publicized to Ukiah residents and property owners. To the contrary, we have heard that the city officials have actively worked to prevent public publication, analysis, and discussion of the annexation’s tax consequences. Indeed, describing the annexation as a “Zero Property Tax Sharing Agreement,” it appears public officials are attempting to hide the real tax consequences of the annexation. 

Moreover, supporting documentation suggests that the annexation would allow the fire district to meet its revenue obligations to the City of Ukiah after years of falling short (with taxpayers presumably left filling the gap), rebuild reserve funds, and use remaining resources to hire personnel, or perhaps more specifically, EMT/paramedic personnel. Medstar is particularly concerned by this posturing amidst ongoing discussions of fire looking to take over ambulance services at some point in the future, and this proposal, if approved, could be an initial cash infusion to help move that broader effort forward at a later date. 

This proposal, if approved, may be the first phase in a broader effort by the fire district to upend our business after more than 80 continuous years in operation (see enclosures with more information), including nearly a decade as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, a designation that was made possible through the assistance and advocacy of the offices of Senator Dianne Feinstein and Congressman Mike Thompson. 

Before this proposal is approved, we ask for honesty, transparency, clarity, specificity and certainty with a proposal of this magnitude and so many unanswered questions to both us as a business and the public as taxpaying citizens…Put simply, we believe it is ill-advised to push something of this scale through with so many unanswered questions and a community who has been largely left in the dark regarding these plans. If the newly expanded District uses its expansion and newfound funding—provided by the taxpayers of Ukiah—to deprive Medstar of its contractual and statutory rights to provide emergency ambulance services—Medstar will have no choice but to protect itself and the community it serves through judicial enforcement of its legal rights. 

Medstar’s attorneys are in the process of submitting a public-record request to help shed light on the District’s plans and their impacts on the taxpayers, residents of Ukiah, and Medstar. In the meantime, Medstar implores the Commission to take a closer look at these concerns before taking final action on the proposed annexation. 

We deserve and expect a more inclusive, open and transparent process. 

Kind Regards, 

Leonard Winter, President and Chief Executive Officer
Medstar Ambulance of Mendocino County, Inc. dba Ukiah Ambulance

Ukiah 

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HOW ABOUT YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD?

Editor: 

Regarding tiny houses as the cure for homelessness, I saw a letter from a person in Kentfield suggesting the building of 32,000 tiny cabins for homeless folks in San Francisco on “remote city-owned or leased land.” 

Excellent thought, and I would like to see them housed, too!

But perhaps there is a lot more “remote” property in Kentfield than in seven-mile-by-seven-mile San Francisco. We don't have a great deal of remote space here for 32,000 cabins. But building them in remote areas of Kentfield might be a great idea.

Larry Schorr

San Francisco

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NINER QBs

Editor,

Do you remember the niners quarterback Steve DeBerg? Good looking curly blonde haired athlete who looked like a pro quarterback but could not win games to save himself. Bill Walsh quote I’ll never forget: “He plays just good enough to get you beat.” The difference between Garrapolo and Rodgers in throwing the long ball is telling. Is that why Bellichick unloaded him to the niners? He looks like a pro quarterback and he played well when he was healthy, but he may be another DeBerg. Kaepernick could throw the long ball AND run. Anyway, Walsh replaced DeBerg with Montana and the rest is history.

Speaking of old niner quarterbacks do you remember the short career of George Mira? He was out of U of Miami. His problem was he threw the ball so hard no one could catch it. In college he had this little receiver who had these huge hands with long fingers who caught everything Mira threw at him. They should have drafted him when they drafted Mira, but I guess Mira should have stuck with baseball…

Dave Smith

Ukiah

Ed note: I remember DeBerg and every other Niner quarterback all the way back to Frankie Albert. Kaepernick's banning should get NFL owners charged with criminal conspiracy, but in the present context of very late capitalism it's just one more uncharged crime. Jimmy G's days are numbered. The new guy can throw downfield and run. Go, Niners!

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MISSING INDIAN GIRLS, YOUNG WOMEN MOSTLY

Dear Editor,

Yesterday, September 27, there was a disturbing interview on the PBS NewsHour TV of an Indian leader concerned about missing young Indian young women. MS Abigail Echo Hawk is the Director of the Urban Indian Health Institute and an advocate for missing young Indian women. According to her, 171 young Indian women are now missing in one western state, Wyoming. Doubtlessly there are many more in other states, including here in California, who go missing each year and are never found alive. . 

Relating the usual way in which Native American or Indian advocates are responded to when they report missing Indian youth: “When was she last seen? Is she a sex worker?” This is a typical response by a white only criminal justice system in America. More info can be found at www.ihs.gov

When will it change for the better?

Frank Baumgardner

Santa Rosa

PS. For most of us it’s a good idea to be cautious about spending our money. We like to be able to try something on or take a test-drive if we are spending much cash on a new anything, whether it be a new shirt or suit or new car, or, especially, bigger things-like a house or international trip. 

The current struggle in Congress between moderate and progressive Democrats is like buying something big. The infrastructure bill ($1.5T) and the “Build Back Better” bill ($3.5T), on one level, seem like the difference between buying a Ford or buying a Ferrari. With any luck, the Ford will get you from point “A” to point “B;” while the Ferrari might win you the Gran Prix. 

The first bill has been needed to repair roads, bridges, and rails for over 30 years. The other might make a big difference in the climate crisis as well as helping seniors and others lower their bills for medications.

The problem here is predicting the future. With the first bill we will not have more taxes; the second raises taxes.

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SHOTS, HISTORY OF

Editor,

My father served 20 years in the U.S. Air Force, so I moved around a lot as a child. In 1960, my mom, brother and I were preparing to join my dad in Okinawa. Before we could go, we had to be immunized against cholera, typhus and typhoid. Each of these required a series of three shots. I was also due for my normal boosters. The last of these was given on my sixth birthday. It was a birthday present of sorts, knowing that I would not have to get any more shots for a while. It was not fun, but I understood, even at that age, that these shots protected me from getting a bad disease.

 Prior to the COVID vaccine mandate for military personnel, there were 17 different types of vaccines that service members could be required to accept. COVID becomes the 18th. Should be a no-brainer. Yet Tucker Carlson’s latest conspiracy theory is that this vaccine mandate is Joe Biden’s way of “purging” the military of “those who love Trump.” Really? How did we descend to this level of craziness? Unfortunately, there are those who will actually believe this nonsense.

Myrtle Rochioli

Healdsburg

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GET VAXXED OR PAY

To the Editor:

We are currently in the middle of the worst Covid-19 surge in the last 18 months, and hospitals are approaching their bed and ICU capacity. The situation is so dire; a person with a life-threatening heart attack is in danger of not getting the care needed. The medical staff members are having to make the hard decision on who gets the care they desperately need.

If the hospital capacity gets much worse, one of the decision points may have to be whether or not the Covid-19 patient has been vaccinated, and not be based on first come, first served. It’s a very difficult call, but if the Covid-19 patient had elected to be vaccinated, the likelihood of them being in the hospital or in ICU would be remote.

On 9/12/21, I wrote the following to our Public Health organization: “I have supported Dr. Coren and his decision to be firm with the non-vaxxers by announcing the Covid-19 vaccination mandate. Now, I understand from the UDJ he has relaxed the mandate in favor of using personal choice about vaccinations.

I am disappointed because this is not the time to pander to a few hurt feelings. These folks are largely responsible for the increased cases and occupying the hospital beds. Also, the anti-vaxxers, which represent nearly 13 percent of our County population are putting the other 87 percent at risk from the threat of a new, more aggressive, variant.

Make the difficult decision an let’s wrap up this pandemic as quickly as possible. Follow through with the vaccine mandate you announced earlier, and we will be able to move on with our lives!”

And further, it has been reported that in a recent BOS meeting, our Fifth District Supervisor, Ted Williams, introduced the idea that unvaccinated employees should have to pay $200 a month to offset the cost of Covid-19 testing. I couldn’t agree more. Yes, it is their body, but if anyone refuses to get vaccinated, they should pay for the testing. It is my tax dollars that are paying for their reluctance, and I prefer they be used to support responsible causes needed by the 87 percent.

John Moon

Ukiah

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