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Letters (March 24, 2022)

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Water, a precious commodity, is already being rationed to people who live, work and play in northern Sonoma County. They are on the west side of the river, in Cloverdale. On the east side of the river, thousands of acres of vineyards are irrigated by sprinklers, many hours per day, while local homeowners’ wells run dry. Maybe some sensible regulation of aquifers should also be considered. Maybe vineyards aren’t meant to be irrigated in the hills that feed our aquifers. The old immigrants knew dry farming of grapes was possible, and it still is.

Terry Hampton


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I have been wracking my brain to recall a question I put before the authorities in a final public hearing about our 2008 County General Plan "Update" that resulted in then Supervisor Robey to say "it's just not that big a deal," when I protested their casual treatment of water management. I had at that point been a volunteer for our little water district here in Upper Lake for two years, and produced the precedent-setting content of its LAFCo Municipal Service Review to protect our groundwater recharge area, and I challenged some aspect of confounding misstatements presented for "public comment." I'm sure it's somewhere in my spiral bound notebooks, which I should find, but in the meantime, here are some thoughts I began a couple of days ago in reply to your recollection of a thwarted inquiry about the Mendocino 2008 General Plan's lack of substance regarding critical water resources.

Beginning in 2006, the elaborate preparations (including special advisory committees for handling controversial issues, such as the minimum size of a parcel that could be separated from ag-zoned large land holdings) conducted by the out-of-county consulting firm and a special water rights attorney for the creation of our very own Water Resources element (at a rate of $350/hour, including drive time from his distant home) attempted to exclude local tribes through a sleight of hand -- "forgetting" about SB 18, until one of the tribe's council members stepped up to challenge that elision, and ignoring the fact that the four tribes with riparian rights to the waters of Clear Lake could establish more stringent water quality standards than the state has chosen to accept -- were focused on the primary engine of what seems to be the raison d'etre of county government, generating revenues to pay itself to keep generating revenues (that is, collecting fees, assessments, and taxes).

There were then (and are now) restrictions on developing tax-generating construction projects requiring further demands on the limited capacities of already impaired groundwater supplies or Clear Lake's presumed abundance, partly due to the extreme degree of treatment needed to convert the lake's chemical and physical constituents into "legal" water (the preferred description of the general manager at the treatment plant with the worst levels of surface water pollution from its source intake point in the Lower Arm of the lake). 

[A number of large development projects in the southern district of the county, not dependent on Clear Lake, were ambitiously launched in the aftermath of the Valley Fire (2015), but sit halfway completed and apparently not moving "forward" any time soon. The state Attorney General challenged a major use permit issued to the Jeff Bezos equivalent in China, for construction of a 24-square-mile city east of Middletown, over water and wildfire protection issues; subsequent reflection on the state's wildfire vulnerability and extenuated "climate change" impacts have altered the course of such planning efforts. Now we're back to extreme water shortages in both our counties, even while Lake County is busy hustling legal marijuana "cultivation" (but not "agriculture") for its money-hungry top dogs.]

In addition, treatment plant capacity limits that were reached decades ago demand that any land use expansion be supported by their equal increase in throughput and sensitivity -- projects that entail millions of dollars of up-front investment before a single shovel of dirt can be turned. Most importantly, conservation and protection of the sources of most of the lake's annual "recharge" -- the high elevation forests ringing the Clear Lake basin -- was not addressed until the evidence of massive tree mortality across our two counties (and into northern Napa) was documented by UC's forestry advisor and CalFire, just recently.

That your Board of Supervisors thinks (?) that creation of a faux water "agency" to wrangle the bovines free-ranging throughout your non-governmental operations will do anything beneficial except keep passing the buck is not terribly surprising, but handing it off to the biggest culprits hogging the majority of what little water there is (under Supervisor McGourty's direction!) suggests that there are no responsible parties at the helm with the intelligence of a gastropod.

The least they could do is create a General Plan update that mimics ours -- full of goals, and policies, and promises, even while they ignore the state's requirements for implementing USEPA water quality protection programs and likewise dismissed the obligation to provide health and safety services for wildfire prevention -- with its dreamy water resources section that cost us a bundle and is less effective than a meme.


Your friend in Upper Lake.

Betsy Cawn

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On March 9, The Press Democrat published the amount of money Sonoma County and the city of Santa Rosa spent on homelessness services over two fiscal years (“Agency on homeless crisis hits reshuffle”). That number is $92.4 million. If there are, as reported, 2,700 homeless people in the area, that equates to $1,426 per individual for each month during that 24-month period.

If you factor in that half of the 2,700 don’t want to go indoors and abide by the rules, the number balloons to $2,853 per month per individual for people who wanted help. Where is this money going? What have we, the citizens, received in return?

Some people just want to party, some want help, and some cannot be helped. I am all for helping people who want to be helped. However, it seems that all the community received in return is more people camped out on sidewalks and more trash, with no end in sight.

Santa Rosa used to be a fine city. Now it looks like a war zone. I don’t know what the answer is, but throwing more money at this is not going to solve the problem.

R. Michael Abazia

Santa Rosa

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Senate Bill 396 is an unprecedented attack on landowner rights and the environment. If voted into law, this bill would allow Pacific Gas and Electric Co. to demolish green trees at any distance outside their rights of way along 25,000 miles of power lines in “high threat fire districts” without review by any qualified expert, without a procedure for the homeowner to appeal and with no compensation for damages.

This bill legalizes a taking of private property and negates the limits of utility easements on private and public right of ways. PG&E has long ignored obvious solutions to the fire threat from their obsolete dangerous electrical equipment. Insulation of overhead cables is the solution being implemented by the Southern California Edison power company.

Modern circuit protection relays are an equally effective way to stop wildfire ignitions. Instead, PG&E seems to want the ability to destroy tall, green trees at any distance from their circuits. The result could be abandoned wood debris on private lands near fire-igniting fragile bare wires, rusting transformers and expulsion fuses.

SB 396 is authored by state Sen. Brian Dahle, a major recipient of PG&E campaign contributions. Dahle wants to be your next governor.

To add further insult, this bill specifically removes a homeowner’s ability to appeal PG&E’s tree demolition plans to the California Office of Energy Infrastructure Safety. Those who don’t like what PG&E is doing to their property should have at least $50,000 to file a private lawsuit.

Also, don’t hold your breath for undergrounding. I think that’s mere public relations. Even if done, putting power lines underground would take many years and will address less than half of the circuit miles involved.

Kevin Collins

San Rafael

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The price of oil is very near that magical tipping point where its value will entice the very needy or unscrupulous to begin siphoning gasoline from one tank to another. It happened back in the late 1970s under Jimmy Carter. Note the prevalence of copper theft when the price spiked or the theft of catalytic converters for their valuable metals. So, just a heads up prior to the inevitable upcoming news items about this phenomenon. If you park on the street overnight, your tank may be pretty light in the morning.

Nathaniel Roberts


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We all don’t have to learn to drive less. Only the poor and the middle class will need to learn to drive less. The rich will always have their private jets and limos. Government employees and politicians will have government-provided limos and credit cards. 

Those who govern us and dictate to us have provided for themselves. Those who endorse this class warfare by refusing to explore our resources should be the first to turn in their cars. Those who are so concerned about global warming in this country, and not rest of the world. These are the same people who will gladly buy oil from a country that bombs women and children. Those of us who will not fall for this false concept will have more gas and less people on the road. 

As a disabled Vietnam vet, I'm glad I have more behind me and less ahead of me. I feel sorry for my grandchildren, who will have to pay for all this good feeling stuff and learn to live with less. 

Dave Del Bonta

Santa Rosa

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Let's peek at the District Attorney's evidence against me.

District Attorney David Eyster has me charged with attempted murder. The evidence he has is pathetic. However, the hobbit Judge Keith Faulder bound me over for trial after my pretrial at $300,000 bail. (I think it was originally $500,000!) Of course, Faulder has been obsessed with locking me up for over 20 years. Eyster is just obsessed with railroading anybody to prison at huge taxpayer expense.

Anyway, here's a bit of prosecutor Eyster's evidence at the pretrial held way back in June of 2020. They have been stalling my right to speedy trial ever since. Eyster only has a photo in exhibit of a weapon he contends I used. It is a photo of a stick, maybe a bit over 2 feet long, that a Ukiah police officer referred to as a dowel. I only caught a glimpse of the photo and it looks to me like a Miracle "scrub brush" handle. How can you attempt to murder somebody with something of that length and weight? Would you have to deliver 1000 blows? I'm 67 years old, I would have a heart attack first. This alleged victim is a notorious woman beater, drug dealer and sneak thief named William Barry. 

He had no strangle wounds on his neck, nor did I have any assault wounds on my fists. Barry on the other hand had photos of his hands taken. They look very swollen as it he had been beating on something or somebody. Barry is about 55 years old and robbed me once in July of 2003, and attempted to do it again in August of 2003.

After his failed attempt he told Ukiah police officer Peter Hoyle that I had hit him with a beer bottle and I was arrested. This Barry villain has been stalking me ever since and he gets police protection from the Ukiah police as he is a known street informant.

However, I think Ukiah police have finally figured out that nearly all his information is false. It still it keeps him out of jail and more of a burden on taxpayers. Taxpayers pay police to keep the peace, not having to listen to perjurers all day!

As for this dowel, scrub brush weapon, nobody knows where it disappeared to! They had a photo of it, but no physical weapon in exhibits. Also, three Ukiah police officers told three different stories of where this dowel was found. My statement to them that night is the same as today: William Barry has been following me around for 20 years! I was arrested at my homeless camp, not his. Barry's original statement to the Ukiah police was: "I'll get revenge on Giusti. I'll get Giusti on my own." Sounds like a stocking type of terrorist threat to me. Later he told police a very tall tale and I attacked him with a baseball bat and tire iron. Neither was found on me, nor in my property, nor anywhere at the "crime scene."

Summation: Barry and Eyster are liars and will have to answer to God.

A couple more little tidbits of Eyster's weak evidence: he is allegedly threatening to present at trial a letter I wrote to Deputy District Attorney Kitty Houston in 2003 and a probation report on me done in 2004. Eyster is evidently going to try to twist the documents into evidence of motive for murder. He can't. How could anything written by me to authorities 18 years ago did locate me in an attempted murder alleged to have happened in March of 2020? If my letter to Ms. Houston was illegal, why wasn't I charged with a terrorist threat?

Eyster should crawl back into his oyster.

Sincerely David Youngcault River Crow Scout Giusti

Mendocino County Jail


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Dear Editor,

With the horrible ongoing Russian attempted takeover of Ukraine now nearly a month long, several observations are clear. The Kremlin, led by President Vladimir Putin, is blindly pursuing a ruinous course. Somewhat like the South in our Civil War, Russia is stuck in a suicidal mindset of mistaken myths and beliefs.

President Putin rose to power driven-in part at least by his own mind equating himself to Adolph Hitler, Josef Stalin — even, according to some, Peter the Great. Coming up through the ranks of his nation’s secret service, the KGB, simultaneously, the USSR fell apart. As Putin replaced others as President, his fear of a possible attack by NATO rose. Long forgotten by Moscow and Putin’s Kremlin is NATO’s founders’ concept that Russia might develop its industries into being a partner nation, not an adversary.

Now, like the Confederacy did in 1861 at the start of the Civil War, Russia is fooled. It will be a long-lasting war of attrition on both sides in which they fight a series of pointless and costly battles. Before Russia wins any sort of victory, it stands to lose far more than it can ever gain.

Frank H. Baumgardner

Santa Rosa

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Attorneys for Applicants and MCA Present Legal Objection to Denial Threat Letters

On Feb 28, attorney and Senior Policy Advisor to MCA Hannah Nelson submitted a letter to the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors calling out Improper Tactics by the Mendocino Cannabis Program in their Vegetation Modification letters sent out to a reported 35 applicants. In it, Hannah raised several serious concerns with the way the program was being rolled out, specifically the level of evidence requested that is not included in the Ordinance, the shifting of the burden of proof to the applicant, and the very short time period applicants had to respond to information for which they had not been asked in several years of operating.

After these concerns were raised by Hannah and many members of the licensed cannabis community, the Mendocino Cannabis Department held a weekly meeting on March 4 where it was made clear in no uncertain terms that not only were they prepared to deny applicants’ permits based on their inability to meet the unreasonable demands, but that no ‘after-the-fact’ documentation, even from ‘licensed professionals’ would be accepted as ‘credible evidence’ that no violations had occurred.

In public comments from MCD it has been expressed that Department staff is currently reviewing responses to the letters to determine what steps to take. It is our firm opinion that the Vegetation Modification Letter program should be halted immediately, and that MCD should work with stakeholders to both determine how alleged tree removal is addressed and to ensure that applicants have access to a fair appeal process if they are proposed for denial. To this end MCA has joined with the Attorneys of Unnamed Applicants who have received these Vegetation Modification letters, including Hannah, to draft the document linked below which was sent Monday to Director Kristin Nevedal of the Mendocino Cannabis Department, as well as the Board of Supervisors and County Counsel. The letter explains various objections to MCD’s letters and proposes a collaborative approach to addressing those objections.

It is the sincere hope of the co-signers of this letter that MCD and the County will agree to our recommendations. If, however, MCD and the County continue on this course of action, a more involved response will be required. We are prepared to do what it takes to stand up with, and for, our community. The immediate threat levied by these letters has led to the need for immediate action. 

Click the link to read the letter:

We will keep you posted as this situation develops, but know that we’ve got your back 100%. #strongertogether #wearecaliforniacannabis

Michael Katz, Mendocino Cannabis Alliance

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