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Letters (July 7, 2022)

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An Open Letter To The Citizens Of Mendocino County

I want to thank you for electing me your sheriff on Tuesday, June 7, 2022.

I was appointed in January 2020 to succeed Sheriff Tom Allman, and I am honored to have won your vote of confidence for a four-year term. 

With your help, my goal during this term is to rebuild safer communities by restoring patrol levels across the county to meet public safety needs. County residents are typically industrious, caring people who want what is best for their families, friends, and communities. So, do I.

I grew up in Mendocino County. I remain here for the simple reason this is my home, as it was my father’s and his father before. I cannot go anywhere in the county that does not remind me of a time when I lived or worked there. I plan to live here for the remainder of my life. It gives me a personal stake in ensuring that the crime related issues which are currently plaguing us are faced.

Public safety is and will remain my top priority as Sheriff over the next four years.

We know that current low law enforcement staffing numbers across the United Sates are affecting the ability to serve the public everywhere. In rural counties, the hiring and retention of employees is always an issue. Covid pandemic related shutdowns, recent legislation and government spending priorities have hampered law enforcement efforts. 

Yes, emerging technologies are helping but we need qualified and trained personnel to use the innovations in investigating crimes and maintaining public safety. 

A high priority for me will be keeping sheriff personnel in the outlying areas of our sprawling county which are often affected most by crime. We must have professionally trained deputies on patrol, and in our Corrections Division.

During my new term, I intend to work collaboratively with other agencies and tribal governments, and I pledge to focus my attention on these relationships. In Mendocino County, tribal governments are a key resource to serving all of our residents. I will continue to improve relationships with tribal leaders who do so much for our rural communities.

Behavioral Health issues are in the forefront and during the past year, I have worked closely with mental health agencies. Our department organized a team led by Capt. Greg VanPatten to implement a “dual response” model where Behavioral Health workers are partnering with patrol deputies to serve individuals in crisis. The team has grown to three crisis workers who are now serving throughout the county. As a result, we are reducing the number of persons falling into crisis by meeting them halfway. This pre-emptive intervention or “upstream” approach has show and is showing positive outcomes. Service providers and local hospitals are benefiting, and our deputies are able to spend more time on the streets.

As your elected Sheriff, I pledge to take these steps:

• I will continue to move forward with plans to construct a new jail facility. A new jail will better serve the incarcerated population, while allowing improved in-custody programs. To that end, I have created a new position within the Corrections Division – a ‘Restorative Justice Coordinator.’ The goal is to partner with several service providers to provide training and education programs for incarcerated individuals. The goal is to help change behaviors, and to empower individuals to find better options in their lives upon release.

• I will continue to work with the Mendocino County Probation Office to ensure inmates are in direct contact with probation officers prior to their release. I believe if we start people in the right direction, it will be easier for them to create a healthy, productive life on the outside.

• I am collaborating with the Sheriffs of Lake, Humboldt, Trinity, and Butte counties, we have formed the “Northern California Coalition to Safeguard Communities.” Our priorities are combating illegal cannabis cultivation, environmental crimes, and human trafficking. Our coalition allows us to provide support and accept funding from charitable organizations to assist us in being more aggressive with these issues.

• I am also working with allied law enforcement agencies locally and across the state so the voices of Northern Californians can be heard. Unless state and federal authorities hear us, we will continue to suffer from “one size fits all” programs which do not work in our rural communities.

• No doubt we are struggling with substantial quality-of-life issues, which include substance abuse and homelessness. Many of these issues are outside of law enforcements abilities, but the relentless rise in drug addiction and behavioral health issues force us to demand legislators and local lawmakers hear our concerns. These difficult issues are no longer sustainable, and we have to change our approach across the board.

• I am currently training a sheriff’s services technician to work in our local schools. We want to implement programs dealing with gang resistance, drug use, and community empowerment. I know that empowerment through education in the schools, in law enforcement training, and in public venues works to help stabilize public safety.

In conclusion, in a small department we can only do so much on our own. Many of the goals I have set can only be met with community support, and the partnerships we build. 

It is one of the many reasons I love working in Mendocino County. The outpouring of support from residents and community advocates is both overwhelming, and humbling. 

I thank you, and I look forward to being your Sheriff for the next four years.

Sheriff Matt Kendall


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“Michelle has made great progress in her first term in office to address Mendocino County schools historically low student achievement scores. She brought the county into compliance with state regulations and built working relationships with state officials to ensure our rural county educational needs are met at the state level.” 

—Val Muchowski, Philo

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Greetings all.

Your friendship, support and generosity through these last four years of my service as Superintendent of Schools, and specifically over these last few challenging months, has meant the world to me. There are not adequate words to express my appreciation.

It has been an honor to serve as the Superintendent of Schools and to lead the work of the Mendocino County Office of Education, work that I will forever remember with great pride. The outcome of the election, while personally disappointing, does not deter my focus from the students of Mendocino County and meeting their needs during a time that continues to challenge our families and our school communities.

It is now time to look forward. We must continue to do all that we can as communities to support our children and our schools. While my tenure as Superintendent of Schools Mendocino County will be coming to a close, a new chapter will begin for me. I remain as committed as ever to being a source of service and support. And I am forever grateful for you all.

With deep appreciation,

Michelle Hutchins, County Superintendent of Schools

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The Anderson Valley Advertiser (AVA) newspaper has been a Mendocino County icon since 1984 when Bruce Anderson bought the Boonville weekly and turned it into a snarling attack dog against political hacks large and small. As publisher and editor, Anderson boasts, “Since then [the paper] has consistently published … some of the most imaginative and well-written articles and stories found in the American press. Because of the quality of output, and its independent nature, this small-town weekly has earned a national circulation as the last of the old fashioned newspapers, unbeholden to advertisers, or even its readers. You haven’t read another paper like it because there isn’t one.”

Over these nearly four decades, the AVA has produced some good investigative reporting and uncovered the misdeeds of a few corrupt county officials. I can still remember many years ago when Anderson exposed a shady County Superintendent of Schools who was summarily dismissed for misappropriating county funds. More often than not though, the people Anderson chooses to skewer are just regular folks trying to go about their business. For example, one of his favorite targets for ridicule over the years has been the county’s environmental community, what he derisively calls the “lib labs.”

At some point, the AVA took on CounterPunch writer Mark Scaramella as its Managing Editor who now covers the county government beat in his weekly column “County Notes.” Like his boss, Scaramella is a mixed bag, some good reporting and some not so good. His relentless coverage of former county CEO Carmel Angelo for her multiple conflicts of interest, I suspect may have contributed to her recent departure. But when Scaramella writes about the county’s Third supervisorial district where I live, it becomes abundantly clear he knows little about this part of the county on which he pontificates with pretentious authority.

The most redeeming aspect of the AVA is its liberal “letters to the editor” policy, even to the extent of publishing letters critical of the paper… or so I thought. My recent experience sending two letters critical of Anderson’s and Scaramella’s coverage of the county’s new wildlife management program never saw the light of day in the AVA. In a brief email exchange in which I challenged them to publish my most recent letter where I called into question the credibility of their primary source of information, former USDA Wildlife Services trapper Chris Brennan, I received this unsigned email reply:

On 6/20/2022 4:55 PM, wrote: “No, Jon. Your letter is wayyyy too hot. It could get us all killed. Sheesh.”

What does this even mean? I replied to them asking, “… do you actually believe Brennan is so psycho that he would go on a mass killing spree if you published my letter?” 

To this question I received no answer, and thus ended our brief email exchange.

The AVA may be unbeholden to its advertisers and readers, but in this true confessions, its editors appear to be deathly afraid of their own sources. How pathetic is that? Turns out, the AVA’s two snarling attack dogs are actually just a pair of cowering bitches.

Incidentally, Mendocino County Observer editor, Jim Shields, who carries Anderson’s and Scaramella’s columns, published both of my “wayyyy too hot” letters (3/9/2022 and 6/23/2022 editions). Let’s hope it doesn’t get us all killed. Sheesh.

Jon Spitz


MARK SCARAMELLA REPLIES: I’ll cop to occasionally pontificating with pretentious authority, although it doesn’t seem to have bothered you until I quoted what Dead Dog told the Supervisors recently. Also, I don’t write about the Third District — mainly because you’re in it. If you have a gripe about my coverage of County affairs, other than Dead Dog, though, let’s hear it. PS. I am not a “CounterPunch writer.” I have submitted a few articles to them. But I’ve been covering local affairs for the AVA long before any of those CounterPunch contributions. PPS. The editor's “kill” reference was intended ironically, always dangerous in this County's irony-challenged sectors.

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To the Editor:

Jon you are defiantly not connecting the dots because if you did view my public comment to the Board of Supervisors June 7 (6:57 into the video). I clearly state that there is no need for the new Mendocino wildlife non lethal program because two of the three components you talk about are being done for free. 

You have three components to your new program, 1. To have a non-lethal technical assistant hotline that citizens can call in for advice and information on how to deal with wildlife conflict. 2. To set up a website for technical assistance. 3. To set up a wildlife exclusion service to plug holes under private homes so skunks and raccoons can’t get under them.

Jon, two of these components are being done for free by two government agencies and a private citizen.

1. California Department of Fish and Wildlife, wildlife conflict biologist 707-298-4958 and their website:

2. USDA Wildlife services, Derek Millsap 530-708-0369. Their website is: www.aphis/ourfocus/wildlifedamage/

3. Chris Brennan Licensed Trapper, free non-lethal technical assistance. 707-272-5442

All of that is being done for free; it does not cost the Mendocino County taxpayers a dime.

Your third component of having a wildlife exclusion technician? In Mendocino County we call them handymen. Anyone can fix a hole under their house. People can call me and I can give them advice on how to do their own exclusion work. This isn’t Sonoma or Marin County.

Supervisor Ted Williams said, “I don’t feel it’s the job of the county government to plug holes in somebody’s house any more than it is to do their laundry” — Board of Supervisors’ budget hearing, June 7th

Jon maybe you don’t realize it, but the county is going broke. The last thing this county needs to do is spend any money on a program that is already being done. Spend this money on the libraries, the county roads and the Sheriff’s department. Not a pipe dream WOKE program. 

Jon what makes you a wildlife expert? It’s obvious by driving past your land on Dos Rios Road that you know nothing about land management. Your property is full of 15 foot dead and dying manzanita and brush, very low value for wildlife habitat. A fire waiting to happen. 

I invite you to come to my ranch Jon, I will give you a tour. For 42 years I have been thinning, limbing and burning to maintain a healthy forest. My pastures are well managed and rotationally grazed. I have no yellow star thistle on my 140 acre ranch. I also lease another 2900 acres of land and maintain 20+ miles of fence line for my cattle.

By the way Jon, what do you actually do for a living? Rumor is you are a trustafarian, nobody seems to know what it is that you do. 

Jon, I talked to the one contractor that is supposedly going to be doing the technical assistance hotline, Tracy. She informed me she had no actual ag experience and she was going to be urban only. 

Jon, you state in your opinion that I have no expertise in wildlife conflict. I have been raising livestock for over 40 years. I’ve had hundreds of hours of training through the USDA wildlife services research lab. I’ve gone to thousands of wildlife conflict cases, property damage and livestock depredation calls. I have done so much non-lethal technical assistance work that I won an award from the USDA, the only one in the state to get it. 

And Jon, yes, I am a trapper and still trap today as a private trapper since retiring from the USDA. I have caught over ten thousand animals in my lifetime. Coyotes, mountain lions, bears, wild hogs, varmints, etc. I think I know a little something about wildlife. 

My advice to you is to stick to writing about your favorite subjects, marxism, the green new deal and socialism. And tend to your own land, it needs a lot of work. Have Project Coyote fund your exclusion pipe dream and not the Mendocino county taxpayers. 


Chris Brennen 

Licensed Trapper And Rancher


BRUCE McEWEN: Jon Spitz doesn’t seem to warm to stories about kindly old trappers; but, then, neither do I. The first Government trapper I knew was in my youth, a pal of my Uncle Jay, and I liked him well enough until he told me about the time he broke his dog of chasing rabbits: He hung the creature by its hind legs from a tree branch and whipped it with his bridle reins until it quit yelping and howling with pain. After that I could never stand the son of a bitch. (And that imprecation refers to a low, immoral scoundrel — not the whelp of a female dog.) The next government trapper I knew made money on the side from gathering up all the free puppies people were giving away and selling them to cosmetic laboratories. Then I met “Dead Dog,” of whom I’d been told by other Laytonville residents who agree with Mr. Spitz. Dead Dog came to see me because his wife had run off with a pot pharmer and he was furious about how this would influence his kids, which he wanted raised in the Horatio Alger and Norman Rockwell School of nostalgia for an American Golden Age that really never was… But, anyway, as I was saying, anybody who has ever seen an animal in a trap, and could still go and set one, well, that individual should never have the word “kindly” as in “kindly old trapper” applied to him.

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Today was a huge milestone for our newest project in the valley! 38 cats and kittens were spayed and neutered. We have been working on this site for the last few weeks with Coast Cat Project. So far, we have pulled 30 kittens and 39 adults. The majority of those adults will be released back once they have recovered from surgery. The rest of the cats and kittens are with fosters.

Thank you Dr. Burns, Mendocino County Care-A-Van & team. Thank you Julie and Anderson Valley Animal Rescue. Thank you to Jill and Steve who have been the overnight caregivers for all these kitties! Thank you Coast Cat Project. And thank you to everyone else who has made this possible!

So many more kittens remain and we still have more adults to TNR. But we made a huge dent today and that is truly amazing.

Jill Derwinski


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Thank you to the Mendocino County voters for re-electing me so I may continue to serve as your District Attorney. 

I am deeply humbled by your support, and I will continue to work with state and local law enforcement partners, the Board of Supervisors, and the courts to promote public safety during these challenging times. 

My constitutional mandate and legal goals will continue to be focused on: 

(1) sponsoring and participating in programs to improve the administration of justice; 

(2) continuing to insist on ethical behavior and professionalism from my deputy prosecutors and in-house peace officers; and 

(3) continuing to see that the unique power and authority inherent in the role of county prosecutor is properly applied to carry out the law in a fair, evenhanded and compassionate manner.

From the clerical staff to the deputy prosecutors to the DA investigators to the victim/witness advocates, we all understand and appreciate our respective roles and our commitment to seek to enhance the fundamental right of the people of Mendocino County to a safe and just community. We will all continue to strive to provide help to and guide victims of crime through our local legal system.

I also want to extend a special “thank you” to all those who are currently in the office and those from the past who have been members of the DA team during my extended tenure in office. 

An awful lot of work needs to get done in the office every day -- whether in or out of the courtrooms -- and that significant workflow held true through the dark days of the pandemic when we were committed to keeping the coastal and inland offices open to the public. It is the strong effort day in and day out of these DA team members that help me do my job and achieve the right outcomes. 

Congratulations to Sheriff Matt Kendall for his election to the constitutional office of Mendocino County Sheriff. Congratulations also to Fort Bragg Police Chief John Naulty on his retirement from exemplary public service. And congratulations to all others – elected or otherwise – who stepped up, put their name on the ballot, and asked the voters to consider their differing plans to make Mendocino County a better place to live, raise a family, and work. Win or lose, being a candidate for public office is no easy task.

Thank you all again for your faith and confidence in my management and legal skills. I especially appreciate the many kind notes and congratulatory comments I have received. I wish my parents were still around to witness this result; there is no doubt they would be very proud.

C. David Eyster, District Attorney


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Dear friends and readers and work crews and politicians who live, breathe, work and decide the matters relevant to Mendocino and nearby counties.

I was born in California in the early 1980s. As a young girl we moved away but one summer my family and I traveled over 1000 miles for a vacation that led us through this area. What I saw during the brief drive was so magical that it touched my soul for life. So much in fact that at age 26, with the opportunity to finally return to my roots, I packed up my apartment in another state and rode down with my cat to reside permanently in Mendocino County.

Fast forward to now and as we are all very aware we are experiencing an extended drought. I cannot in good conscience remain silent another second about the absolute tragedy going on right in front of our eyes. I have held my tongue until I was chomping at the bit, cussing guys out in the privacy of my car, crying in solitude and with friends present. But enough is enough!

When will this beautiful area be warm and dry enough reason to realize that the threat — no, the "potential threat," being thwarted by this so-called "fire suppression action" of PG&E and CalFire (most of whom by the way get proceeds from the 140,000 board feet already being cut (I looked it up. It took some doing to find) be stopped? It is literally stupid to think that clearing out most trees and virtually every shred of underbrush to create "defensible space" on state park lands, and private ones as well, will somehow prevent an uncertainty in the first place and not just create an even larger and worse wildfire if the wind blows. Because, hey, now it has become a barren windtunnel!

All one has to do is Google whether deforestation causes drought to see for yourselves the facts of this debate and to see that it does indeed matter. I have also learned through independent research, lengthy discussions with people with fire science experience and forest science degrees as well as personal observation that it just doesn't work! Some of these contract timber guys are even being paid to come from as far away as the East Coast, housed in expensive hotels all the way to California!

No wonder it's costing PG&E millions of dollars! And so we fall.

But no. Oh no. That's not enough! They leave piles of debris, bark mulch and erosion in their wake. No shade left, animals displaced in places so special to me that I cry. They are ruining God's country. So I am now compelled to stay these facts:

• We are in a symbiotic relationship with the trees. They clean our expelled carbon dioxide and turn it back into oxygen for us to breathe. 98% of our breathable air comes from trees. We need each other — period.

• Trees provide homes for thousands of different animal species, shade when it's hot, and shelter when it's raining. Do we want a homeless animal population on our doorsteps?

• On the Hawaiian island of Lihua, a man named Aubrey Robinson planted over 80,000 trees on the island during his lifetime increasing annual rainfall by 20% proving that they bring the rain.

• Brush and ground cover in forests allows mushroom growth which renews soils to a healthy state from rotten leaves of the previous year and keeps the soil wetter for a longer time into the year so that it can hold more water and also soaks it up instead of allowing it to run off. Soil also erodes without groundcover. That's why Caltrans puts boulders on the hills they strip.

• Deforestation causes a rise in temperatures due to lack of shade and lack of moisture content in soil directly adding to the drought.

• It looks very stupid and ugly.

• PG&E fires were caused by equipment failure at transistor boxes, not by trees falling on lines and that doesn't mention the arsonists.

• Countless plants and animals are being cut from their lifelines which rely on vegetation surrounding the trees for habitat.

Do we want to live in a desert? Devoid of plants and animals without sufficient water to meet our basic consumption rate? Don't we miss our lakes? Will we continue harming soil health and moisture absorption levels, cutting our necks by cutting off our resources and access to water, creating a higher likelihood of burning in the potential fires that might happen? Well? Coupled with all the chippings and bark they leave behind as well? To me this situation appears "primed" for fire.

I will cut out with this question: Are we too stupid and dumb or greedy to look at the facts, all of the facts, and therefore change our eminent future, a future free from breathing, cleared of plants, and trees, and us, to stop this ridiculousness? Can we therefore change our climate back to a good one before it's too late?

Back to when we had more water, few fires and more trees in less mismanagement of our most precious resources?


Tree Hugging Hippie Named ‘Mo’


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I am announcing my services as a professional mourner. Whenever there is a murder using a weapon which is designed to kill people such as an AK automatic gun/AR 15, I am ready to start the mourning from our Willits headquarters. We will wail, sob, and shriek for three days or until radio, print and TV attention has been diverted away from the incident toward something else such as "scantily clad female impersonator found dead in bedroom of Texas Senator." Of course, the hiring of a professional mourner is to direct attention away from the slaying by AK 47. I am compensated by the “Friends of the Second Amendment” organization.

When you decide to put a speed bump in downtown Boonville, put a sign outside town which reads "really huge speedbump just ahead" in English and Spanish. 

If your candidate lost the Superintendent of Schools race remember I asked all schools in the county to broadcast a summary of Press Democrat news at all grades seven and above at 1 PM each school day. Doing that would have ensured a win. 

In 1946 after the United Nations was founded there was an effort (mainly by college students) to set up a world government authorized to handle problems such as Russia/Ukraine. It was opposed by the usual suspects.

All right, you pro-abortion agitators, it's time to put your money where your mouth is. I don't have a dog in this fight.

Richard Blum has accumulated a vast fortune. His old woman, Dianne Feinstein, grabbed a bunch of his money to contribute to sisterly causes. She gave "Sisters Nonviolent Coordination Committee (SNIC) $200,000 due to an error — three too many zeroes, the amount was $200,000,000. Never mind, SNIC needed the money to assist girls who wanted abortions but lived in a state where abortion was illegal. 

One such girl we will call Winefred. She had always been told to keep her knees together. One day there was a knock on the door. It was the youth pastor from the Seventh-day Adventist church who invited Winifred to a seven night adventure meeting. It was on the sixth night when it happened. The youth pastor showed up with a sixpack of Coor's. Winifred had never tasted beer before. She liked it! Winifred was overweight and a little bit cross. Midway through the second can of Coor's her knees began to separate when she remembered what the girls in high school always said: "Get a lot when you're young." It was after the third can that it happened. Her knees never came together again and the youth pastor was transferred to a church in Las Vegas where his talent for finding new members was better appreciated.

A month later Sisters Nonviolent Coordinating Committee sprung into action. Where is the daddy? He's over in Las Vegas proselytizing and impregnating. Well, we'll have to get you an appointment at the nearest clinic which is in Atlantic City. SNIC flew Winifred to Atlantic City first class, put her up in a first-class hotel, and taxied her to the clinic and paid for the show and three pills at $700. SNIC was ready to fly Winifred back to Podunk. No, no, said Winifred. I want to stay right here where the clinic is handy in case I have to use it again.

Just watch: if Beto O'Rourke beats Abbot there will be a surge to get him on the presidential ticket in 2024 as another Obama. I don't want to waste my time with people unless they are smarter than I am. That shouldn't be too difficult to do. They are ubiquitous. One reason I read the Press Democrat is that occasionally they will pull an excellent piece from the Times or the Post, usually from the left. They receive good letters to the editor from intelligent people, often women. The PD is trying to attract conservative readers so they are printing right wing columnists, three from the Times and the Post regularly. They have been eliminating liberal columnists they used to carry. They miss a lot of news stories that are on MSNBC and CNN. I think this is deliberate. It's a good idea to listen to Tom Hartmann programs on KZYX. Hartmann is very knowledgeable, way to the left, he thinks fascism will begin in November. He has a good filter to stop the nuts who call in. Many of the people who call in are quite intelligent and have something to say that it is worth listening to. 

I found a 2019 book on Daedalus called 'Journalism' by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. He said journalism is the best job in the world. Most of the pieces were sent from Europe where he was a correspondent for different agencies. I also found a book named 'Midnight in Siberia' by David Greene about a trip on the Trans-Siberian Railroad with stops where he has details and conversations with local people. Paul Thoreau made two trips on the railroad in two different books but the coverage was limited. 

I usually have two or three books going at one time because I am curious about what is going to happen next and I pause to read a story or two by Checkov. I am on my third Checkov book now. He is about the only Russian author I read. 

I could live on Irish short stories. William Trevor is dead. He lived in England but wrote about Ireland. I also like Indian writers very much. Did you notice that French expatriates are able to vote in French elections? They don't have to reside in any particular place. They can be hippies or bums, men trying to get away from toxic women. 

Did you know that Willits has the world's largest collection of tattooed women? It seems like every other female is well illustrated. At least they don't wear pantsuits.

If Republicans win control of Congress in November you are not going to like what follows. Democrats seem to let nature take its course. The DNC which does more harm than good should put out a list of those congressional districts which are most in danger of falling to Republicans so that delegations of provocatively dressed women can be sent in to typical male venues where voting is usually nonexistent and say, "I've come to talk to you about your erection, er, election." Here are 10 points to consider in the election, five of which we will now discuss and five more later after we know each other a little better. Women should be knowledgeable about the NFL and autoracing. A delegation of Humboldt's finest might swing three districts depending on waist, bust and butt measurements.

Ralph Bostrom


PS. Noah Feldman says that Lou Dobbs (not Fred C. Dobbs) is the "tyranny of the majority." (PD, 6/25/22)

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I was raised Catholic and went to Catholic schools. However, I have always believed separation of church and state to be of paramount importance. The Catholic Church’s involvement in government was a constant concern among many, maybe most, U.S. citizens (particularly during Al Smith’s presidential run in 1928 and, for my contemporaries, JFK’s run in 1960). At the time I didn’t think that concern was justified. Unfortunately, now I do.

All of the Supreme Court justices who voted to nullify Roe v. Wade are Catholics, with Neil Gorsuch, who was raised Catholic, apparently now attending the Episcopal Church. These justices disregarded precedent even though Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett stated under oath their belief in stare decisis, and hence Roe v. Wade was settled law.

The court currently consists of six Catholics, two Protestants and one Jew, which is not at all reflective of the population. It appears that all but one Catholic (Sonia Sotomayor) believe their religious beliefs take precedence over U.S. law. It’s like we are now being held captive to the church’s canon law instead of U.S. law.

This country was never intended to be a theocracy. It’s precisely what the founders tried to save us from — so we could worship (or not) as we each saw fit.

Janet Collins


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Dear Readers,

It is now official. Rather than risk a 21-year sentence if I lost at trial, I accepted eight years. As strange as this sounds, I am not disappointed! Nor am I going to subject you all to a rambling letter proclaiming my innocence.

Au contraire. I'm actually grateful for the eight year sentence. Crazy, right? Not really when you consider I was conducting myself like a pirate, feasting on everything I could get my hands on. Believe me, it could have and should have been much worse. Due to an absurdly liberal credit system I will only serve a fraction of my sentence. My “therapeutic respite” will be spent in one of California's health spas where I will spend my time in a cell viewing a flatscreen TV. A phone will provide me with Netflix, music videos, and social media platforms. Every evening this will be coupled with a fat Mendo joint before I call it a day. “Another one down; another closer to home.” I will wake up to a shot of coffee and some soft rock music before going to the kitchen and gorging myself on a variety of foods of my choice cooked on the grill provided to me by the prison. After “work” I will stroll relaxing laps around the track as I listen to my rock and country music. Then back to the unit for a hot shower and my evening cell routine. Watched some TV. Face time my family, smoke a joint, call it a day. Another one down, another one closer to home. 

It's mostly the readers I feel sorry for. You are the ones who must stay behind and suffer. You'll get up every morning and report to a job you hate, where you're underpaid and underappreciated. Most likely surrounded by coworkers who gossip about you behind your back. You'll navigate your way home through a community governed by mildly retarded city council members. A dirty ass police department in a town where people defecate on your sidewalks and pitch tents in your front yard. 

Yes, I must confess I am thankful for the time away. I knew being a pirate would one day lead to me “walking the plank.” But I do it with a smile on my face and a full heart. God bless, I'll be back soon.


Alan Sonny Crow

Mendocino County Jail, Ukiah

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The whole thing stinks from start to finish. Who made Judi Bari Judi Bari?

The whole save the trees crap and the bombing make no sense.

The letters and the FBI case and settlement are also very fishy.

Sweeney is obviously the culprit and should have been more rigorously questioned and interrogated.

Alas, the 'forest people', Robbing's Little Hoods mythologized the whole thing and made any real knowledge impossible.

And that includes Talbot who jumped the gun. 

I know he has since said that perhaps he did not do an unbiased job, but it is too late now and the files have been destroyed.

What began in Sonoma County with 25 volumes of transcripts that Brandt Hawley and Sweeney cobbled into god knows how much money for the transcripts were the key to the appeal-- they would have held up the appeal for years. They knew that when they made us their promises.

How much did they get?

Obviously enough to buy land in Mendocino.

And then turn into freedom fighters for foresters?

Makes no sense.

but thank Denny Bernstein, that fuck hole, for giving the microphone to Darryl and the gang and turn Bari into Che Guevarra.

Such are myths made.

and yes, in her book, the woman from Berkeley shows that they collaborated on the fire bombing of the airport.

They were both accomplices and thus it is a lie by omission but of course it was not made in a court of law. 

You will be vilified for this until the truth one day comes out if it does.

The Feds could take DNA but they won't.

And we get older.

As to public opinion, they have no interest.

I wrote this close to ten years ago and think it is more true now than then.

Danny Weil

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Open letter to Supervisor Gjerde

A little more than one hundred years ago a group of very smart people built a diversion dam on the main stem of the Eel River, tunneled through the hill at the north end of Potter Valley and built a hydroelectric facility to supply power for Ukiah, and in doing so supplied water to the East Fork of the Russian River.

The small farmers in Potter Valley soon realized that the tailrace flow from the new powerhouse could be used to irrigate their pastures and orchards, so by 1925 an Irrigation District was established to deliver water to agriculture in the valley. The bulk of the water coming through the tunnel continues through Potter Valley and constitutes the majority of the water in the East Fork Russian River. By the 1950s it was obvious that this resource would be invaluable to the ways of life and cultures along the entire Russian River watershed, and therefore, Lake Mendocino was formed to provide reliable supplies of water for the region benefitting municipalities, agriculture, tourism, recreation and fisheries.

Mr. Gjerde: This is a project that should be celebrated as well as protected for its agricultural, environmental and recreational value, and not derided and chastised by a member of the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors.

But on June 5 of this year you sent a memo to your colleagues on the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors in which you trashed the Potter Valley Irrigation District for its conduct regarding water coming through the Potter Valley Project as released by Pacific Gas and Electric Company. I find your tone offensive, dismissive and unnecessarily combative as well the fact that you base your recriminations on faulty information and misunderstandings of the issues at hand.

You contend that the “agricultural interests” served by the PVID “pay virtually nothing for their irrigation water” and compare what the more than 200 customers of the PVID pay to what citizens of Ukiah, Fort Bragg and Willits pay for their water. These “agricultural interests” are mostly small farmers and your snide suggestion that they should be paying $150 per acre foot is insulting.

First of all the PVID supplies water by gravity flow from a system that has been developed, refined and paid for for almost 100 years. The delivery systems of Ukiah, Fort Bragg and Willits are relatively modern, are delivered under pressure and treated for use as potable, all of which involves expense, so comparing the systems is unrealistic.

Another piece of misinformation in your memo implies that all of the water coming through the Potter Valley Project is for the benefit of these greedy ag interests, not so. Over the years, of the water coming through the PG&E powerhouse, PVID has received a small percentage of the total, the balance flowing into the East Fork of the Russian River and thence to Lake Mendocino; and of the water entering the PVID system some 20 percent is used for delivery purposes and this also goes into Lake Mendocino.

Last week on June 15 during a discussion of the medical system in the county you remarked that when there is a problem in one part of Mendocino County it’s a problem for all of the county. I would hope that that attitude on your part would spill over to this water issue. I’m reminded of last summer when the coast was hurting for water, trucks left the inland valleys carrying needed water supplies to our neighbors on the coast.

This water issue is a countywide and regional one. Besides Potter Valley, Ukiah Valley, Hopland, Northern Sonoma County, Healdsburg, Santa Rosa and Marin County, one way or another, rely on this water. We’ve been abandoned by our radical enviro Woke Congressman Huffman who recently implored the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee to “expedite” retiring the Potter Valley Project without due process of confirming the reliability of water supply for the 750,000 Russian River ag, commercial, municipal and individual interests, thereby putting to lie his so-called “two basin solution.”

We in the Russian River Basin are alone at the moment, Regardless of the outcome the upcoming vote on added one-quarter or three-eighths tax, it is important to put aside narrow interests, the kind of narrow interests that caused Mendocino County to lose control of the water when Lake Mendocino was formed, and think of the good for the entire region, a good that is being attacked by smart, well funded and relentless forces who want to completely eliminate the PVP.

Guinness McFadden

Potter Valley

Ed note: The deal with SoCo for Lake Mendo water should have been re-negotiated a long time ago, but given that the diverted water flowing through Potter Valley and on into Lake Mendo rightly belongs to Lake and Humboldt counties' Eel River,  as God originally intended, sooooooo, narrowly considered the whole show is an artificial construct so tenuous that the next major quake will return everything as it was in the beginning, before the primitive, hand-dug, mile-long tunnel that presently diverts the Eel for the primary benefit of Sonoma County. In the mean time, and we indeed live in a meantime, with few people meaner than the Potter Valley free water gentry who seem to be headed for a long overdue karmic boot in their collective arse when the diversion ends, and what happened to Congressman Press Release’s two basin solution, the only sensible and practical way to proceed with the noble sons and daughters of the grape at last paying a fair price for their water?

George Hollister: Editor, there are times when you get way out there.

James Marmon: Duh!

Peter Boudoures: Build more dams.

Jim Armstrong: Gee, you forgot to mention that the PV tunnel was dug by Chinese men. This is the first time in fifteen or twenty years you have failed to point this out. Now, I have to wonder if you have had a great epiphany on the whole thing. A little more info on what you have on God’s intentions would also be helpful.

Ed reply: As it happens, Jim, we do know what God intended for Potter Valley: No water in the summer. 

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To the Editor:

TWK was wrong when he said he was wrong. The downtown redo was beautiful when finished with the ambiance of the old fashioned lamp lights. A week later it was destroyed with two-foot gaudy yellow crosswalk signs. (Have you noticed the lamp lights since then? No?) Worst of all the signs are sexist, showing only men can cross, except at State and Magnolia.

Jon Telschow


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Pacific Gas and Electric Co. is devastating our forests with no corresponding benefits to us. After reading the enhanced vegetation management program details and doing the math after I checked out the recent report posted online by the Sierra Club, it seems to me that PG&E plans to eventually remove most tall trees within about 100 feet of distribution lines in forested areas.

The program defines most mature pines as weak, citing the likelihood that they have small imperfections or fungus on them. Most are marked as being subject to removal. I think this will leave long cleared areas along roads where many of the newly exposed trees on the edges will be blown down in storms.

In following the Sierra Club’s research, it is clear that PG&E’s own data shows this program is completely ineffective in reducing wildfire ignitions. The Sierra Club task force recommended that the California Public Utilities Commission require PG&E to stop widespread tree removals and instead switch to the policies being used by Southern California Edison with great success.

Edison is upgrading to triple-insulated distribution lines and adding computerized circuit breakers in areas with high fire danger. That program has been very successful and it is less expensive than the PG&E vegetation management program.

Please ask our county supervisors to demand that PG&E stop damaging our forests and instead adopt the Edison policies for hardening equipment.

Bob Johnston


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Letter to the Editor,

I have been processing as the Supreme Court continues to make one unbelievable decision after another and I'm just going to let my current thoughts spill out here. I feel like separation of church and state shouldn't be this hard, but here we are. The religious opinions of SC justices now determine what women can and can't do with their bodies and if children will be subjected to prayer in public school. If your Christian kid was in school and was told to participate in Jewish or Muslim prayer, how would you feel then? Not everyone in this country is a Christian and everyone should be allowed to live by their own set of personal morals without imposing them on others. I am so sick of this.

Being a Jewish woman I feel my choices and autonomy are taken away, and as a woman I feel I am more regulated than a gun. You want to make sure your kids are safe in school? How about allowing them to practice or not practice their own religion on their own time and I don't know... gun control? If any of this was really about caring about babies or children, several things would be different. The formula shortage would be of higher concern. The foster care system wouldn't be a terrible mess. It wouldn't cost an arm and a leg to adopt. Businesses would be required to give parental leave. Gun laws would change to keep kids and minorities safe. A couple years ago when I was considering going back to synagogue to connect with my local Jewish community, I then saw in the news there was a shooting at a synagogue that day. 

I haven't gone to a synagogue since out of fear. We now live in a country where in many states, a child who is raped, or a woman whose baby may be born with 0 quality of life or be stillborn, now have to carry to term. So many women who are raped or in poverty will have to give their babies to a foster system where there are already approximately 424,000 kids in foster care. Many of these children are never adopted because it is unaffordable and there are not enough willing families, and many of these children are also abused in their foster homes. A large percentage of these poor children are minorities or special needs. This country is only the land of the free if you're a straight white Christian man.

Rachael Duncan

Spanaway, Washington

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Dear Editor,

The 200-year tradition, the peaceful transfer of power in the United States, was very nearly overturned on January 6, 2021. It is clear by the testimonies of an Arizona Speaker of the Arizona House, Speaker Rusty Bowers and that of Shaye Moss, a former Georgia election worker and her mother, Ruby Farmer, how evil were the actions of former President D.J. Trump were. Droves of long time impartial election workers like MS Moss have been forced to resign.

The former president must be indicted for his crimes: sedition, inciting an armed insurrection and attempting a coup against the United States. Most recently the Supreme Court, for a long time an independent branch, has been politicized.

The Justice Department, by not indicting this former president, purveyor of lies and “the Big Lie” (the false claim the 2020 election was “stolen”) is itself guilty of evasion of its sacred duty to the Constitution of the United States.

Frank Baumgardner 

Santa Rosa

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Is this who we have become as a country? A place where a person gets threatened with the death of their children just for honoring their oath of office and upholding the law? A place where the vice president gets threatened with a public hanging (gallows constructed and waiting) for the same reasons? Is this us? All those countries that we look down on, countries with brutal dictators, must be having a good laugh as we become more and more like them. Is this us?

Richard Evans


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