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Letters (June 2, 2022)

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Since my notice in the AVA paper of a planned gathering to discuss an administrative permit request #AP_2021-0010 for events of up to 500 guests and 500 cars on Ray’s Rd. in Philo would not hit the streets until the very Thursday 26 date of that gathering I asked my daughter Glad to put it on social media. As a somewhat strict non-user of social media I will admit to my own hypocrisy by doing so but at least ten people did show up and others got in touch to say they wanted to be kept informed.

Apparently there has been some challenge online to me by the applicant and “the numbers” I presented in a previously published article that was in the AVA May 18 edition. The truth is that every thing I said was clearly stated on public records on file at the Mendocino Planning Dept and provided to me on request.

So to verify “the numbers” prior to our Thursday evening May 26 meeting I went back to the Planning Dept. that morning to learn that subsequent and probably in response to the 18th public revelation the permit applicant had made changes to the request that required moving the Planning Dept. hearing date from the stated June 9 to July 14. Unfortunately the Planner working on the Permit Request had not yet had time to enter these changes into the public record so we do not know what “the numbers” will be other than the date of the hearing.

We do have, though, an idea what those numbers might be. It was disclosed that back in September of 2021 when Administrative Permit AP_2021-0010 was introduced to the Anderson Valley Community Service District (CSD) for their approval of 1,000 guests which they conditionally gave based on the applicant’s verbal statement that the numbers would be 10 to 200 guests and 100 cars, not a thousand. So it might seem that the applicant will at least try now to fully honor her own commitment. Or as it was pointed out to me at that more recent visit to the Planning Dept., the Mendocino County General Plan states “Gatherings of one hundred (100) to one thousand (1,000) persons shall be required to obtain an administrative permit.”  Which indicates that up to 99 persons would require no permit at all and avoid any public outcry —  or at least until we of the Rays Road neighborhood experience how that might play out.

Our group meeting lasted a surprising two hours of congenial discussion and ended with just about everyone agreeing that even 200 people and 100 cars would be too much. Stay tuned.

David Severn


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I would like to introduce myself as a long time Valley resident. 

I arrived in Anderson Valley, in 1948, celebrated my first birthday at the sawmill camp across from what is now AV High School. At that time it was a vineyard. My parents were migrant workers, from Arkansas, we had worked the fruit harvesting in Sacramento Valley and the In the State of Washington. Those were different times as well. Some people accepted us, others didn’t. We spoke with heavy accents. Being different and new was not a good thing. So we were fortunate because many southerners found their way here. We started our own community, as, following us, the alternate lifestyle folks came — another big uproar. Then the Mexican folks. With every wave of change, there’s been an uproar. I consider it a blessing in disguise, a blending of cultures. We’re at a time that we can prepare to keep the Valley alive and well. Logging will soon be a memory, and the pot gardens are not as profitable. So we need to embrace our new economy by moving forward to the tourism trade. I’m so happy the Ranch is going to be a beautiful place for people to enjoy. In the early years here, I never felt this was my home; I was a transplant, I don’t feel that way now. 

Approximately two and a half years ago I sold the Ranch to Mary Zeeble. I was so happy with her vision for the Ranch, and her refurbishing the units and providing lots of rentals to folks in what had been empty spaces for so long, (excited) that it wasn’t going to be sub-divided, or marijuana. Weddings at the Ranch made me very happy. Jerry & I were married at the Ranch in 1992. One of my grandchildren had his wedding here as well. I sold the Ranch, by the way, I never wanted to, but financially I had no choice. My Insurance quadrupled, and taxes, general upkeep, failing health… forced me to sell. I love this place, but gossip, and misconceptions, run amuck. I love the renters at the Ranch, they’re sweet people, who have been very kind to me. It blesses me daily to see our little community alive like a busy beehive. Mary has a creative energy. I trust she’s going to make this a thriving beautiful place 

Barbara Blattner


ED NOTE: Before Barbara owned the property, which abuts the old Philo Mill to the east, Barbara's late husband, Jerry Blattner, and Jim Dean, presided over Unicorn Youth Services, a truly excellent home and rehab center for troubled teenage boys. Prior to that wholesome incarnation of the property, mass murderers Leonard Lake and Charles Ng rented the main house until… One day in '83 (I think), a big, black helicopter landed on the highway in central Philo, disgorging an armed FBI swat unit who jogged the short distance down Ray's Road and took up assault positions on the house where Lake and Ng were living along with a large cache of weapons and ammo Ng had somehow stolen from a Marine armory in Hawaii and gotten it all the way to Philo. The two killers surrendered peacefully. Deputy Squires said later that if they'd chosen to shoot it out, that given the guns and ammo they had, they could have held off the feds for some time. It wasn't much after that the two degenerates' kidnap, rape and kill factory was discovered in Calaveras County. Lake, incidentally, also managed the old Philo motel with his then-wife Cricket, the latter fired from her job at AV Jr. High for trying to lure 12 and 13-year-old girls, my daughter among them, to the motel's hot tub for photo shoots with Lake who, also at the time, functioned as a volunteer firefighter and recording secretary with the Anderson Valley Volunteer Fire Department. 

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Hey everyone,

So, I’m sure most of you know by now I’m officially registered as a write-in candidate for Sheriff of Mendocino County. A special thanks to all of you who took time out of your day to meet with me and sign my Petition. Because of you I was able to exceed the amount of votes I needed to get registered.

Now there is a lot to do and a very short amount of time to do it, since voting ends on June 7th. Since I registered last minute and not when I initially was able to (which I take full responsibility for) my way of campaigning will differ from the norm and be a little unorthodox. However, even if it is last minute, I am still going to put 110% effort into this election. 

Since yesterday I have been getting a TON of messages, calls and emails from people in the Community asking me terrific questions pertaining to my plans for Mendocino County and the Sheriff’s Office, if I’m elected. 

Also, I realize a lot of you have no clue who I am, my background (especially in law enforcement), why I’m running and what my plans are going forward. That being said I decided the best way to address all of these things, given the current time situation, is to do a YouTube video. 

I will be covering my background, plans for the County and Sheriff’s Office (if elected), as well as my plans for the remainder of this election period. I would like to answer as many of your questions as possible in the video. So, if you have a question you would like addressed, please let me know. 

You can comment on this post, send me a direct message, or send it to my personal e-mail, which is Don’t forget the “s” in the middle. Your names will be kept confidential. 

Thank you very much for all the continued support. I look forward to addressing your questions and concerns with 100% transparency.

Trent James


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To the Editor-

I would like to provide another side to this topic of Trent James candidacy for Mendocino County Sheriff. 

To be clear, I am not endorsing anyone for the position of Sheriff in Mendocino County as I do not live there anymore. You are free to vote for whom you think is best suited for the position. However, since Trent James has made himself a public figure, I will offer a bit of insight into how he has operated. You can say what you will about the rumors you’ve heard about me, there really is nothing new that can be said that has not already been said of me. There are those who are going to fall into the anti-police crowd who have bought into his anti-police message. This is for the undecided who may view this with an open mind and consideration.

I have watched a few of his videos and his attention seeking is filled with anti-police sentiment. I ask you why he never said a word of this while he was employed if it was so obvious and he was so concerned, not a peep.

Trent worked in Covelo and later was appointed as a resident Deputy for a couple of years. What he does not say is that he got burned out dealing with the people and problems there and demanded to be transferred out, which was granted. In his defense, having worked this and other resident posts, Covelo is by far the most stressful position of the Patrol positions in the County. He continued to rotate into Covelo from the Willits substation and, by and large, did a good job relating to the citizens there. He voiced to me numerous times how trying it was to provide good services there and how it was frustrating.

After a break from the Resident Post position in Covelo, and with continuous attempts by the Sheriffs to recruit and fill this post without success, Trent offered to move back but seemed to make demands on how he would do so. One of his demands was more bonus money for working Covelo.

NOTE: For many years the county has paid a bonus for working the Covelo post which later included some of the other resident posts. These bonuses are a negotiated item between the Deputy Sheriff’s Association and the Board of Supervisors, which a Sheriff has input on but cannot directly authorize.

These negotiations didn’t go well, as he was demanding an extra $20,000 to work there, but the Sheriff could not authorize this. It was outside the pay allowed under the DSA contract. This is apparently when Trent became disillusioned and command staff from the Willits Police Department started to recruit him. At one point he made an ultimatum to the Sheriff to move him to Covelo, with the extra money, or he would quit and go to WPD.

The Sheriff, unable to comply with the demands said no, so Trent, in true millennial fashion for not receiving his participation trophy, got mad, quit, and was hired by WPD.

All newly hired peace officers are placed on probationary status. As most police departments do, they are the primary agency for traffic enforcement in their jurisdiction. All new police officers are tasked with traffic enforcement. By his own admission, again in true millennial fashion, he deemed this assignment as beneath him. You would think he would have looked at the job duties prior to accepting the job.

What seems to be very clear, as there was no peep from him about any corruption, is that he became a disgruntled employee as he could not follow directions and perform the “menial tasks” of his position, and he was released on probation.

At that time did he mention corruption? Not a peep. He then requested to be re-hired at the Sheriff’s Office. After having proven himself a difficult employee, having an entitled mentality, his request was denied.

ONLY after being turned down for re-hire by the Sheriff’s Office did he become jilted. It was then he started lashing out in his videos. Trent was employed at the entry-level. He had zero access to personnel investigations. His implying “all these things are well documented” with reports on file is a lie. From personal experience, I can assure you they are not all documented. There are things he said of me that were never investigated even after I begged the department to do so. One of these was a rumor that I was involved in the illicit Marijuana business. I requested, in writing, that the Sheriff open an internal affairs case, to investigate me, to clear this issue up as it was completely false. I outlined in this request what would happen if there was no investigation and the rumor grew in the community, that it would damage trust, which is exactly what happened.

I say this only to point out that many of his statements about investigations and reports are false. The accusation is easy, peace officers are used to this. Some of the things in his videos were investigated. Some were from agencies outside the Sheriff’s Office. He has zero access to any of those files. As a command staff member within the Sheriff’s Office, I didn’t even have access to the IA files.

The Sheriff is prohibited from responding to many of his accusations. Under the Peace Officer Bill of Rights, personnel investigations are protected. If an officer has been disciplined it is not a matter of public knowledge. Criminal matters and charges are different. Criminal charges and prosecution are made at the DAs level.

Trent aspires to be Sheriff but doesn’t know any of this. He has absolutely no budget, command, or even supervisory experience. Aside from rumor-mongering in the parking lot with what I would guess are a few frustrated deputies, what are his qualifications? Why did he not bring up these “corruption” issues when he was employed if he was such a stand-up guy?

Is there room to improve law enforcement overall and or leadership in Mendocino County? Absolutely in every agency in the country, this should be the goal. For those of you with open minds, peace officers make mistakes. I am privy to many investigations and disciplines given out in Mendocino County to correct behavior or fire officers for serious violations. With very few exceptions the Law Enforcement Officers, in all agencies within Mendocino County, are professional, dedicated, and self-sacrificing. They are overworked, often berated, and understaffed. True to their profession they don’t throw fits when they don’t get their way. They suck it up, showing up to work day after day, trying to make a difference and they deserve your appreciation.

So vote for whom you think is best suited for the job. But be aware of the character of who you vote for. Being a disgruntled and entitled millennial does not qualify you for the position of Sheriff.

Retired Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Shannon Barney


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In 1991, I was a young deputy in Willits assigned to be a Field Training Officer (FTO) for new deputies. This was a very educational assignment, as it allowed me to help train academy graduates, as well as get to know them. In early 1991, I was assigned to train newly promoted Deputy Matt Kendall (promoted from the jail). We worked in the North County  as well as on the Coast. Matt was an energetic and smart young deputy, who listened and learned. Being raised in Covelo and having many family members on the Coast certainly made training him much easier than out of town new-hires.

I have watched Matt’s career for over 30+ years. As Undersheriff, he and I  discussed policies, large investigations and family life. I’ve witnessed a young deputy mature into a true and disciplined leader. Matt possesses ethics and he demonstrates leadership everyday. His role as a father, step-father and husband is a true example of a man who understands his responsibilities and his role.

Prior to Matt being selected to be our Sheriff, he and I discussed budgets, personnel and leadership. I would not have recommended him to be my replacement if I was aware of any flaws. As he did as a young deputy, he listened and learned. Since his appointment, Matt has excelled in budget preparation as well as leadership. Suffice it to say, I could not have recommended a better person to be our Sheriff-Coroner.

I voted for Matt because he has proven his ability to lead and improve the Sheriff’s office.  Please join me in supporting Matt Kendall as our Sheriff.

Tom Allman Mendocino County Sheriff-Coroner (ret)


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We’ve been following the recent articles by Terry Sites, and they just keep getting better and better.

The one about the Wildflower Show was really excellent. And that’s not just because I belong to the Unity Club. 

Terry’s writing is the kind of thing that helps build community, even though we don’t have much of it left. 


Beverly Dutra


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I recently traveled between the Vallejo area and the Mendocino coast. Usually when I travel in the spring on Highway 101 and adjoining routes my windshield needs to be cleaned at least once, more likely twice, due to the number of insects. This time I couldn’t help but note that my windshield was virtually clean. This is a silent alarm we should all be deeply concerned about.

Insects, bothersome though they may be at times, are food for many animals we are used to having around. Without insects, what do birds eat? I used to see 40 or more robins seeking insects on my property. Now I see one or two. What do fish eat? What do reptiles and amphibians eat? What do we eat?

Insects are pollinators of plants; that means food. Our planet’s hospitable environment is in trouble. Other concerns pale in comparison. We all need to be conscious of what we are doing every day and try to minimize our negative impact and protect our environment. When millions of people make changes, the impact can be significant.

Carol Knolle

Fort Bragg

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ED NOTE: More evidence, Ms. Knolle, of the looming apocalypse. The following is from an LRB book review called The Insect Crisis: The Fall of the Tiny Empires That Run the World…

“Insects don’t get a great deal of airtime in Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. The book that exposed the harmful effects of DDT on fish, birds, livestock and people had surprisingly little to say about the creatures the pesticide was intended to harm, except that they were starting to develop resistance – in other words, the case for spraying poison indiscriminately wasn’t compelling even on its own terms. ‘However rapidly technology may invent new uses for insecticides and new ways of applying them,’ Carson wrote, ‘it is likely to find the insects keeping a lap ahead.’

Sixty years on, that doesn’t seem like such a safe bet. Carson’s work led to the banning of DDT in agricultural settings around the world, but it was replaced by a new generation of pesticides, the most widely used of which, neonicotinoids, are hugely more toxic to insects. The first neonicotinoid came on the market in 1991. By the end of the decade, anecdotal evidence suggested that insect numbers were declining rapidly. People were making fewer stops on long car journeys to scrape bug spatter from their windscreens. They were seeing fewer ‘moth snowstorms’ in their headlights, fewer fireflies in their gardens after dark. These observations weren’t scientific, but they indicated, at least to some, that insect numbers were collapsing.

Almost a million species of insect have been identified – around 90 per cent of all known types of animal – but it’s thought there may be up to nine million more. The Smithsonian Institution puts the total number of individual insects at around ten quintillion, or ten million million million, almost 1.3 billion of them for every human. Ants alone outnumber us by something like a million to one, and if you squashed them all into a gigantic ant-ball, they would equal us in mass. Until very recently, the painstaking work required to monitor insect populations didn’t seem like the best use of entomologists’ time. It was often left to groups of amateurs, such as the Krefeld Entomological Society, which has been catching flying bugs in malaise traps since the late 1980s. When the society analyzed its data in 2016, it found that the total weight of its haul had fallen by 75 per cent over the previous 27 years. The account of these findings, published in the journal PLOS ONE, prompted much hand-wringing (as well as the unlovely coinages ‘insectinction’ and ‘insectageddon’). Critics pointed out that all the data came from Germany, and only from those parts of Germany where the researchers had expected to find large insect populations: perhaps local factors were to blame?

Subsequent studies, however, have confirmed the downward trend. Figures for the rate of decline vary wildly: the number of terrestrial insects may be falling by less than 1 per cent or by as much as 2.5 per cent a year. (Freshwater insects seem to be doing better, with their numbers increasing by a bit more than 1 per cent a year.) The extent of the overall decline hasn’t been settled either – there’s still no data from large parts of Africa, Asia or South America....”

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The incidence of these heinous acts is speeding up. The supermarket shooting murders of ten people in Buffalo was less than two weeks ago. Today another evil individual with a military style weapon killed 14 children and one teacher in Ulvale, Texas.

Do we value guns more than our fellow Americans? Maybe the question should, Do US senators always give up caring once they begin their terms of office? Shades of Parkland, Sandy Hook, El Paso, and Columbine.

The media needs to take note of today's new FBI directions (and it is something the purveyors of news should have done a long time ago: ): Stop giving out the NAMES of the sickos (sp?) pulling the triggers. Unless this happens soon, there will soon be many more shootings by copycat shooters.

Frank Baumgardner

Santa Rosa

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Rep. Mike Thompson has been in Congress for 24 years and never faced a competitive election. In the June 7 primary, we have a chance to change that. In this overwhelmingly Democratic district, Thompson has blown out his Republican opponent every election. He is a member of the conservative Blue Dog caucus, a voting bloc whose members include anti-abortion, anti-immigration representatives who worked with Joe Manchin to block President Joe Biden’s agenda last year. His values are out of step with the median 4th District voter.

We deserve a real choice in November. The best way to do that is to vote for progressive community organizer and business leader Andrew Engdahl in the primary. Because California has a top-two primary system, the first- and second-place candidates will move on to the general election regardless of their party affiliation. With so many Republican candidates running, there is a clear path for Engdahl to move on and make the general election Democrat vs. Democrat.

Ben Bartlett

Santa Rosa

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Some mysteries that have occurred to me.

Why do humans not make their own Vitamin C? Nature usually covers the fundamentals. Why is Vit C left out of the equation? Linus Pauling came along and due to his research recommended hourly Vitamin C for optimum health with no down side, since you can piss it out if it's more than needed?

Why do young men at puberty experience an avalanche of testosterone, so much so that studies show they think of sex every few seconds? Is it too much erotic pressure to assimilate given the corresponding immaturity and lack of responsibility? Might it account for some over-aggressiveness in men toward women as well as adolescent talk that has no positive purpose -- take a look at those boobs, etc.? Largely lacking sex education when it's most needed, in junior high and high school, about respectful relations, sexual and otherwise, and how No means No, etc. Is it hidden puritanism that prevents society from encouraging frank discussion among teens?

Pebbles Trippet


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Dear militia members:

Please regulate yourselves some more, particularly your young recruits who punch their grandma's in the face and take selfies with assault rifles. Please regulate these young males who tell us they are going to commit mass murder long before they commit their evil act. Please regulate the cops who show up and wait an hour for the real “good guys with guns” to actually do something (those cops might want to think about a career change). Please regulate your pro-gun governors who say this is a mental health issue but actively resist improving mental health care in their states. And, for those special gun nuts who are pro-life, maybe regulate guns owners as much as women's bodies.

I think it's time that the group who so vehemently stands against the tyrannical assaults on our liberties take a long hard look at how they can defend us from the unwanted negative side effects of such uniquely-American freedoms.

Kirk Vodopals


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It doesn’t take supernatural, sacred gifts of prophecy to realize this country is in deep trouble. Gun violence has replaced all other causes of death for children here. Nothing has underlined the existential threat we all are facing than the murders that took place Wednesday morning at Robb School in the town of Uvale, Texas. Nineteen slaughtered 3rd and 4th graders as well as two heroic teachers.The juvenile shooter was psychologically disturbed.

Furthemore if there had been twe shooters, the total of dead might have been at least forty-four or more. Do the lives of kids, like yourss and mine, matter? There were many children yesterday in India who lit candles in support of their dead brothers and sisters in Texas’s latest bloody massacre.

The ten GOP Senators-NRA lackeys-need to be voted out. It will take time, money, hard work and guts to organize to make gun control the most important issue this year.

Frank H. Baumgardner 

Santa Rosa

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Imagine you are teaching your class and wearing your sidearm when a person wearing body armor and carrying a laser-guided AR-15 rifle enters your classroom. You have perhaps two seconds to draw your sidearm and get a head shot (body armor, remember?) before you are gunned down. A professional combat shooter might have a chance. A teacher, next to none. So those who tell you the answer to school shootings is to arm teachers are lying. 

Personal freedoms? I guess that includes the freedom to continue watching our children getting gunned down in their classrooms.

Richard Evans


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I’d like to comment about not-quite-departed TWK’s 5/22/22 column about deploring stereotypes (yes!) while spewing a few of his own (progressives, Nor Cal, and “those sensitive hearts” in Redwood Valley). Some fact-checking:

1. The site of the proposed Dollar General in 2016 was the East side of East Road, south of the Redwood Valley Market, NOT the NW corner of School and East Rd. That latter site did, indeed, become the future site of the said storage facility. The County General Plan had suggested that the latter site could best become something like mixed commercial/residential development. When it came down to it, the residents of Redwood Valley had no “say” whatsoever with what the landowner decided to build, as the storage facility conformed to the zoning. End of story. The community of Redwood Valley, as represented by the RV Municipal Advisory Council (RVMAC) formed in 2016, opposed the storage facility, hoping to see useful commercial and/or residential construction instead. Alas, by the time the RVMAC actually was notified by the County of the storage facility plans, ground was about to be broken.

2. If Mr. Kramer were at all familiar with the Dollar General business model, he would see that it is one designed to put all competitors out of business by offering loss leaders like beer, cigarettes, and cheap stuff from China. One means the model uses to keep prices down is to under-staff and underpay employees, leading to difficulties maintaining staffing, Fire code and OSHA violations, and labor problems, exacerbated by the pandemic. In Lake County, new Dollar Generals in recent years led to numerous closures of local and family-run businesses. Look around those neighborhoods now and you’ll notice patterns of closures that resemble the detritus left by Dollar Generals nation-wide. All the revenue, except the low pay for the few employees, goes out of our state and back to the the corporate offices in Tennessee.

Low prices are good, but the real costs to local communities incurred by stores using a model like Dollar General serve to cheapen our entire way of life. That’s one reason why some of us “sensitive hearts” prefer to look at the big picture, rather than some knee-jerk stereotype, when we assess the problems and challenges in American society, from racism to income inequality to Americans arming themselves to protect against other Americans. As one man said some years ago, can’t we all just get along?

Christine Boyd and Tom Schoeneman

Redwood Valley

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I would like to answer the question you posed in the last ava in the Off The Record section and say I would definitely miss the Willits hospital. I got a hip replacement there two years ago, it was a good experience all the way around, and I'll probably be back for the other hip some day.

Here in Southern Humboldt we have the choice of going up to Eureka or down to Willits for more complicated health issues/procedures and more of us are starting to choose Willits: it's a new facility, the people working there are nice, and the orthopedic department is nationally known—I've heard that bone doctors from around the country come for Doctor Bowen's work.

We're lucky to have the Willits option and though it's fifteen minutes further than Eureka it's worth it.

Paul Modic


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Dear 5th District voters....

Whoever you choose for the upcoming Supervisor race, I ask that you not base your vote on the vicious caricatures that are being constructed around John Redding, neither our Democracy, nor our local community, can function in a healthy manner under these conditions. It is my sincere hope and prayer, that as a community, we foster a politic that nutures unity, coherence and beauty, not one of toxic divisiveness; that  plays off the darker angels of our fears and prejudice and harms our local community.  

Thank you.

Chris Skyhawk, former 5th Ditsrict candidate (2018)

Fort Bragg


  1. Pat Kittle June 2, 2022

    Young Black males commit most of the gun crime.

    MSN, CNN, AVA, NPR, etc. aren’t about to tell you, and this comment will likely not tell you either, given that much of the factual information I present here is censored as well.

    (Yes, I realize “white racism” is the real reason for Black gun violence, as it is for all problems.)

    • Bruce Anderson June 2, 2022

      Please. Depends on how stats are calculated, but gun violence is an equal opportunity killer. Dumb sarcasm, too, George.

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