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Letters (May 5, 2022)

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To the Editor:

Here are the reasons I am voting for Michelle Hutchins as County School Superintendent — and I encourage you to do the same.

In several meetings, when asked questions from the floor, Superintendent Hutchins' answers reveal a mastery of the education code, other pertinent rules, and a broad understanding of equity and learning issues. She has long term goals for a variety of educational choices. Those goals put students first.

She has instituted positive, effective changes in the County Education Office as well as delivering help to all districts. The major change has been the fairness and balance now protecting smaller districts in the county.

Michelle Hutchins has built strong relationships with our Senate and Assembly representatives as well as with top state educational leaders. These relationships will help bring our state tax dollars back to all of our school districts.

Most important to me, is the quality of Michelle Hutchins' character. She has not attacked her opponent with innuendo, false or misconstrued facts or slurs at competency. Exemplifying ethical behavior, she has run what is known as a "clean campaign." That modeling is what we want our youth to see and I want it to rebuild the confidence that many of us have lost in the school system.

Michelle Hutchins' states values, her accomplishments and actual work plans for the future. She is open and does not follow a canned recipe. She does not seek teacher or staff endorsement because it would be inappropriate. She would never pressure teachers to vote for her. 

California has the lowest literacy rate of any state — a distressing fact. Michelle Hutchins has remedies to bring us out of that position, helping districts to find the individual improvements that each needs. Her ideas about increasing opportunities for expansion of vocational programs are essential.

Should a candidate, supported by the "old guard" — that got us where we are today — hide behind a banner of "change," especially unspecified change? It has been disappointing to see the repetition of slanderous incorrect facts from the opponent. These repeated false facts become a form of bullying. Bullying goes hand-in-hand with vindictiveness and other mean-spirited behavior. Such stuff becomes blatant propaganda. It is not a leadership model that we want for our youth -- or our teachers.

Michelle Hutchins and her staff (to whom she is always giving credit) have already made appropriate forward thinking changes. She has brought credibility to the position. She has been and will be good continuing as County Superintendent.

I heartily recommend voting YES for Michelle Hutchins as our County School Superintendent.

Beverly Dutra


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I am a graduate of Hastings College of the Law who has become interested in the swirl now happening inside the California Legislature regarding whether the Legislature should rename the school because in 1859 Hastings had been complicit in the indiscriminate killing of Yuki and other Indians in the Eden and Round Valleys by Walter Jarboe and the men he directed who called themselves the Eel River Rangers. 

To that end and through the never-ending wonders of google, this morning “The Genocidal Namesake of the Hastings School of Law,” the article you wrote in 2017 for the Anderson Valley Advertiser, came to my attention. 

About that article I have two questions: 

1. You report that H.L. Hall was known as “Texan Boy” Hall, was 6' 9” and weighed 280 pounds. Am I correct that your source for that is the article the Napa Reporter published in 1859, which you cite in your article? I ask because I have read the statements the investigative committee of the California Legislature acquired in 1860 and that are located in the Indian War Papers and none of the individuals who contributed statements made any mention of Hall's nickname or his height/weight. 

2. You report that Walter Jarboe was appointed as Ukiah's first law enforcement office. What was your source for that? And was Jarboe given that appointment before his tenure as the captain of the Eel River Rangers? Or after? And if the latter, for how long did he serve?

Also, do you know whether Jarboe lived out his days in Ukiah? I ask because, if he did, there might be an obituary. (It appears that the Ukiah Daily Journal began publishing in 1890. If in 1859 Jarboe was in his late twenties/early thirties and if - who knows? - he lived into his sixties, then the Journal may have reported on his death. In any case, thanks for your attention to these out-of-the-blue and most esoteric queries; which I much appreciate. 


Don Mitchell


ED REPLY: Dear Mr. Mitchell:

I wish I could be more precise about the Texan Boy ref, but my sources not being immediately retrievable, I will look and hopefully let you know.

As for Jarboe, he's mentioned often but only in vague sources as in his post-state assassin role when he settled in Ukiah where he was the town's first lawman. I assume he died there.

There is much about the history of the period contained in the essential “Genocide and Vendetta.”

I've taken the liberty of posting your letter on the off chance it might scare up the information you seek.

Bruce Anderson

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I encourage everyone to watch the documentary movie “Kiss the Ground” and share it with others. You will probably be amazed by some of the info in this movie, both good and sad. I was blind to just how much of US land can no longer use carbon in the way nature intended it to. The movie suggests a proven means of stopping global warming and saving our food and agriculture, and thereby our health and the health of the planet. 

Available through the library and many sites online (see 

It's time to put pressure on our government to educate and HELP farmers to convert to regenerative methods, instead of the counterproductive “no grow” or one crop incentives our taxes are currently paying for. 

Sara Fowler

Navarro and beyond

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Dear Editor:

I was an English teacher in Anderson Valley with over twenty years’ experience when Michelle Hutchins became the principal of my high school. Michelle brought an impressive knowledge of curriculum, a strong background in classroom technology, and administrative experiences in diverse school settings. Her ideas were fresh and exciting. In what could have been the twilight of my career, I found myself re-energized in the classroom. Her leadership directly benefited our students.

Michelle Hutchins now serves as Mendocino County’s Superintendent of Schools. She is seeking re-election.

Michelle once taught me that teaching is a craft, that a teacher continually evaluates and refines her skills. The profession is dynamic. The teacher is always learning. I believe Michelle follows this credo herself. As a school administrator, she continually pushes herself to her personal best.

The strengths Michelle demonstrated as principal, combined with her several years of experience as superintendent, make her the best candidate for the position. She is strong at assessing the capacities of the professionals on her team. She directs programs and services where students — and schools — needs are. She has kept her commitment to decentralize MCOE’s services, demonstrating that she also values the students in the smallest and most remote areas of our county. In her position, Michelle is also the bridge between local schools and state and local government.

Visit Michelle’s website to see her many endorsements from state and local leaders, as well as from the trustees on MCOE’s governing board.

I encourage you to re-elect Michelle Hutchins in June’s election. I am excited to see what else she accomplishes for our community’s students in the future.



Kimberly Campbell 

English Teacher 1991-2021, retired


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I am writing in regard to an April 22 Press Democrat article headlined “SMART seeks significant ridership boost next year.”

In the report, it surprisingly states that Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit leaders estimate that 58% of revenue will come from sales taxes, 24% from state grants and 14% from federal grants. That totals 96% of total revenues coming from subsidies, not fares. That is disappointing.

If SMART achieves its goals next year, 3% to 4% of its revenues will come from ridership. Taxpayers should think about how troubling that is.

I strongly suspect that even with SMART’s spin about retaining its reduced fares, it is still missing the essential key point. Have officials considered that, just maybe, even the reduced rates may not be affordable to a large segment of potential ridership? It is likely that SMART’s regular ridership (as lean as it is) would fall in the high-income range. Who else could afford it?

Given that SMART is 96% subsidized, wants to increase ridership and is not realistically affordable to all, SMART should dramatically reduce its fares if it truly wants to serve its community. I have seen way too many empty trains pass by as I waited at the rail crossings.

Ron McRobbie

San Rafael

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I can't remember his name, but some years ago, this man wrote in every week commenting on that week’s AVA; I fear his "disease" was infectious. What inspired me to write this week was reading "Hope For The Palace" by Mike Geniella; it reminded me of my experience many years ago with the Caspar Inn.

When I looked at the building, it was a TOTAL wreck. The roof was leaking, the pier and post foundation had failed years before, the floors sagged, one walked outside and down a breezeway to the men's, the ten rooms upstairs were heated by a small unvented propane heater in the hallway, the septic system was a joke, the entire electrical system was a hazard with circuits blowing constantly and I could go on (and on). I do recognize that it was a "functioning" business. I had been buying and repairing/remodeling, houses then reselling or renting them for a few years. Leaving the actual operation of a bar, restaurant, sometimes music venue and rooming house to one side, the physical issues, like Ms. Shankar's reported attitude toward the Palace Hotel, I believed the Inn could be transformed into a functional building housing a viable business.

This will probably sound unbelievable given the current functioning of Mendocino County government, but not having anywhere near enough money, or access to it and knowing that I considered the building, restaurant and bar to be inoperable in their current condition, I went to Planning and Building and told them that I was thinking about buying the Caspar Inn (which had been on the market for some time), but that it was in serious need of repair and upgrades to make it "sano," safe and decent. Then I said that since I wanted to do everything that needed to be done "by the book" that there was a problem. If I applied for a permit to fix something, and they required me to bring the building up to code, I wouldn't buy it, but I wanted to start with a proper foundation, upgrading the septic, knocking out some internal walls, and redoing the downstairs electrical and plumbing. And that I had not gotten any estimates (implying licensed contractors), so I didn't know if I had or could raise enough money to do the minimum that I needed to do before I could open the doors and welcome people without shame. The planner hesitated, then asked me to give him a couple of minutes and disappeared into the back room. 

He came back with the head coastal building inspector and they told me okay under one condition, anything you touch is brought up to code. I believe such a scenario would be 100% impossible today. During that and for the next few years, whenever a contractor went into the Building Department to pull a permit, whether for rewiring the upstairs, building a water storage tank or redoing the bathrooms, it was “pay the money, walk out with the permit.” When the building inspectors came, they looked at the work covered by the permit and went no further; no looking around the corners; they were helpful and cooperative. I can remember once the inspector said something like 'if you ever decide to do something about that, it's easier and cheaper if you....' As I said, I can't imagine this scenario happening today.

Ms. Shankar will have to deal with not only the county, but the city of Ukiah. I admire her "can do" attitude and wish her the best of luck. I also appreciated Anne Fashauer's article and hope she doesn't have the experience that I did a few years ago when the listing had an abbreviated inspection period. I put in a full price offer with a longer, but less than 30 day inspection period which was counter-offered. I smelled a rat; when my agent dug deeper and found an undisclosed pest (termite) report from a year before for upwards of $50,000 and that a second report had been ordered that was due before my inspection period ended, but after theirs, I withdrew my offer . So I would add to Anne's advice, if you are feeling pressure from the seller or the seller's agent, back off.

Peter Lit 


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I have never been much for human interest stories. They’re, well, too human for my liking. I’ve always preferred writing about some corporate or government wrongdoing and maybe some amazing tech I’ve recently seen. But in this case, I am compelled to climb down into the human trenches and expose myself.

1971, I was 19 years old. I refused to go to Vietnam. As I was classified as 1A, I was certain to become cannon fodder at worst and return with irreparable physical and emotional damage at best. I had already watched a few friends who returned from Nam starting to deteriorate from Agent Orange exposure.

So in the early fall of 1971, my next older brother and I loaded up my 1952 brush painted red Ford pickup truck and hit the road for Montreal from Capitola, Ca., just south of Santa Cruz. My oldest brother was in Montreal already and had made arrangements for a place for us to stay upon our arrival. There was a lot that went on in the relatively short time I was in Montreal and it is certainly worthy of more stories. However, for the purposes of this writing I will get to the point, and that is, I met someone special. One thing led to another as things can and she became pregnant.

Reasons. There are so many reasons that I have told myself over the years as to why I left when she was in the early stages of pregnancy. As time went on the truth faded from memory and I was left with the reasons I wanted to remember to cover the pain of what I had done. Or hadn’t done in this case, which was to step up to the plate and be there for someone who was to now be alone instead of a shared experience of bringing life into the world. The pregnancy wasn’t an accident. It was planned, or as planned as anything can be by a 19 year old and a 20 year old.

So, fast forward to early April, 2022. I get home and Eileen tells me there has been a phone call from a woman in Canada that may be related to me. In Eileen’s notes there were a lot of references to Montreal and the early 70s. I decided to call the number and see what was up. 

Before very long I knew who I was talking to and as Calli O'Brien was relaying different facts she had found and about DNA tests that were positive on both my father’s side and my mother’s side, I just told her that what she had found would make her my daughter. I also told her that I had expected her. I found myself wanting to naturally include her in my/our lives. I mean, she had been on this quest to find me for most of her life. Real clues only came after her mother’s death last year because her mother refused to share any information about me at all. Ironically, as it turned out, I didn’t even have her real name and couldn’t have found her again if I wanted to.

During our first phone conversation I don’t think it had sunk in yet as to the magnitude of what had just occurred. I could intellectualize it alright, but a silent switch had been flipped. By the time we had our first Zoom call and I could see how much she looks like me the emotional avalanche started. The only way I know how to explain it is, like a lot of the decisions I made during my life were based on the decision I made in Montreal in early 1972 when I decided to leave Calli’s mother. That fork in the road led to other forks in the road. Not all of the subsequent decisions were good ones. Many were decisions to leave and to hide instead of decisions to participate in life. Now, those decisions/forks are like cracks or fissures that were empty parts of my life that are in the process of filling up and making me more whole. 

Meeting Calli has been a profound experience. The experience is ongoing because she is part of me. I know her and want to know her at the same time. I guess this is something that fathers of daughters feel regularly, or so I am told.

I don’t want to leave out that I have two sons that are grown. Eric and Nicholas. This experience has brought me closer to one of them, and in time will bring me closer to the other, I’m sure.

This experience is helping me to acknowledge that I am a grandfather and have grandchildren that want to know me. And, as of today, I want to know them.

So at almost 70, I can say that life is full of surprises. Eileen, my wife, (who just said goodbye to the last of her immediate family last year), and I are looking forward to this amazing new chapter in our lives.

I cry a lot these days. And it’s not out of pain or misery. Joy has crept into my life, in a most unexpected, expected way. Emotional up-wellings have become part of my day.

Bruce Broderick

Fort Bragg

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During this time of severe drought, why aren’t more municipalities, agricultural operations and residents using rainwater catchment as a strategy to save and conserve water? Even urban residents can use smaller containers designed for small lots.

Our small rural homestead uses two 2,500-gallon tanks to catch rainwater, and they filled up after the first storms this past fall. We use this water to irrigate our flower and veggie gardens, and this captured water will last all summer, thus taking the strain off our well, which we use for household needs.

Instead of wringing our hands over the drought, rain catchment can make a huge difference. There is a lot of information to be found online about how to do it.

Padi Selwyn


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Several years ago, faced with my mother’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis, I found myself managing the complicated details of her life while still trying to live my own.

As a volunteer advocate for the Alzheimer’s Association, I have asked Rep. Jared Huffman to help reduce caregiver stress by co-sponsoring the Comprehensive Care for Alzheimer’s Act, (House Resolution 2517) which would ask Medicare and Medicaid to consider a dementia care management model of care. I think the components of the bill are proven to reduce costs, improve quality of life and streamline today’s complicated health care maze for families living with dementia.

I dealt with 24/7 vigilance (and the exhaustion that goes with it) while managing my mother’s entire life. I ran her household, balanced her checkbook, managed her will and trust, organized her social life and arranged her doctor’s appointments.

My experience differed from caring for children in many ways, the main one being that this adult person (my mom) had a rich full life of her own before diagnosis. She had relationships I knew nothing about, as well as ongoing projects and conversations no one else in the family was aware of. 

In addition to Alzheimer’s, my mom had celiac disease, which is an iron deficiency. She had frequent bouts with pneumonia and urinary-tract infections. I had to consider what course of action to take if any one of those things flared up. That meant I had to contact her various doctors myself, explain the symptoms and her behavior, then help them assess what to do next.

How wonderful it would have been to have a system in place that helped me coordinate those conversations and treatments.

I have personally spoken with Congressman Huffman about this idea and am hoping others will join me in asking him to cosponsor what would be a life-changing policy for so many families.

Erin Kane

San Rafael

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If the orange monster was still president, the current Ukraine situation would not be happening. When Putin saw Biden in person and felt the corrupt vibes something snapped and the world was there to be taken.

Chinese take note. I'm not a big fan of the orange monster. But what a huge improvement over decades of parasites and idiots. Someone in this paper pointed out that with these types of dictators it's a prison yard mentality and that is exactly right.

Biden is embarrassing every time he talks in public. Did people actually elect this corrupt basket case?

Will Putin use nukes in his own part of the world and breathe the fallout? Or is it just "bully talk"? Can the hamster talk tough to the cobra?

Did people really vote for this guy?

Orange monster has an abrasive personality and that's just what we need when dealing with the bad boys of the world.

Remember the parasites tried to impeach him three times unsuccessfully. You may ask yourself what is a parasite? A parasite is a person who attaches themselves to the government system of taxation and becomes rich and powerful through no work or risk or productivity, but rather simply by being a member of a group of other parasites. Our state and county government are good examples of parasites who mostly regulate for a living at huge expense to the people who actually work.

I can see the possibility of losing our country with parasites in charge. What happens when Putin attacks Poland?

We will deploy the transgender army. Oh, I can see Putin shaking in his boots.

Tom Madden


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Dear Editor,

Everyone is rightly tortured, along with the Ukrainian people, by the genocidal bombing and missile strikes of Putin’s Red Army, How long until Mr. Putin comes to his senses, or is replaced as Russia’s autocrat, and halts the meaningless slaughter of civilians? How much more money, arms, and volunteer soldiers will the West have to expend? At this point in time, nobody knows.

Recall Paul Simon’s hit song (from the late 70s or early 80s?), “Slip Slidin’ Away!” One line went something like this, “God has His plan, it’s unknown to mortal man “Slip Slidin Away," etc.

God still has a plan for Eastern Europe, Russia, Ukraine, NATO, and President Biden, too. But at this point-and probably for some time to come-we must pray for peace and a truce which is fair.

Frank Baumgardner

Santa Rosa

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This is a letter I read to the MCDH Board of Directors at their monthly board meeting this evening.

Dear MCDH Board of Directors and Representatives from Adventist Health,

My name is Katherine White and I am a retired RN living outside Manchester, California. I authored one of the two letters that were included in last month‘s board meeting. I declined to read my letter at the meeting because I thought that would be overkill. Unfortunately I was wrong. I am disappointed with the board’s apathetic response to our complaint about John Redding’s social media behavior. In referencing our notes, Mr. Redding agreed at July’s meeting to remove his board member status from his social media profile and to date he has not done that. Mr. Redding unfortunately continues to post on social media in an apparent attempt to goad the public. This month he posted a misleading article regarding suicide rates, young people and schools opening. Immediately people reacted in distress and immediately Mr Redding began firing back at community members. At least ten individuals weighed in with various degrees of exasperation.

I believe that your board has a role to assist with, and certainly not to hinder, the essential and consistent messaging that the public deserves during this immense healthcare challenge. I personally have no desire nor intent to scrutinize the MCDH Board. You were not on my radar until I encountered board member Redding on social media. But since I’m engaged I became curious. And that curiosity has led me to more questions and concerns. Let me share some of those with you.

I’ve observed that,

1. Board members receive no guidance in appropriate and inappropriate interactions with the community.

2. The board is currently making changes to their financial compensation related to health coverage. Such coverage seems redundant. Mr. Redding is apparently 69 and qualifies for Medicare. Amy McColley is apparently a full-time employee at Sutter Health and Sutter Health employment includes healthcare coverage. Karen Arnold is apparently a full-time Human Resources Manager at Mendocino Coast Clinics and employment at Mendocino Coast Clinics includes healthcare coverage. Jessica Grinberg appears to be an independent contractor and I’m unable to determine her access to coverage elsewhere.

I understand that the board is considering granting themselves a $600/month, $7200/year healthcare allowance for healthcare needs. At a time when 5 million citizens have lost health coverage and when many are financially vulnerable this expenditure appears frivolous and misguided.

3. Board Member Redding’s company UniGen Resources currently has a proposal that requires the board’s support. I read in your minutes that he “reassured” that board that he and his wife will receive no funds from the project. The public wants to know why this is not a direct conflict of interest and trusts that more due diligence is forthcoming.

4. I understand that the board is having support staff difficulties. Numerous requests were required for me to obtain board minutes. There are no archived meeting minutes nor agendas posted on the website for the entire year of 2020. Is 2020 not a very pivotal year for your organization? Isn’t this a major transition of leadership? Why is the Mendocino Coast District Hospital primary website nine months out of date?

I hope the Board and the Adventist Health Representatives in attendance recognize that public trust is important. Honesty and transparency are essential. Fiduciary malfeasance and conflict of interest concerns are troublesome. I hope that when the minutes of this meeting are released in a month’s time it will reflect sincere discussion about these concerns.

Katherine White

Fort Bragg

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