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Letters (July 28, 2022)

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TO: Philo Postmaster Eric Barker

Dear Postmaster Barker,

We were appalled to see that mailboxes in the Philo Post Office were recently broken into, one immediately adjacent to one of ours.

We have two boxes accommodating both personal and business mail. It is imperative that these boxes be protected. We are certain that other patrons must feel the same.

This is, obviously, a very serious situation. We hope that you are doing everything possible to put measures into place that will eliminate this threat. Would cameras help?

Philo is a small rural area 40 minutes of winding road to the nearest larger town, in a huge County. Being rural, most boxholders live miles from the Post Office. It is a burden to pick up mail every day, especially with the current gas prices. We have very limited telephone and web services which makes the postal service crucial to many.

We hope you can expedite solutions. Thanking you in advance for your attention to this most important matter.

Yours truly,

Beverly and Marvin Dutra

PO Boxes 577 & 570

Philo CA 95466

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Voila! Just like that I found a few sweet blackberries on my walk this Sunday morning, ushering in a season hopefully better than the last. And it was just Friday morning that I got the sweet news that the permit application for hundreds of glamping event participants including amplified music on a parcel of land just across the street from my Ray’s Road residence had been withdrawn. I offer out my thanks and deep appreciation (if there is any difference between the two) to all entities involved with both events. May human nature and Mother Nature find a righteous peace in the tumultuous prospects for the future - though Doris Day spoke to me as a budding teenager the reality quite well decades ago in her rendition of Que Sera, Sera – Whatever will be will be. The future’s not ours to see. Que, sera, sera. What will be will be. I might add – We will see, we will see. Or at least the ones of us a bit younger than I.

On a maybe a not so distant track, back in those budding teenage years of mine I had been for a few years traveling between San Rafael and Alderpoint in Humboldt County on the Northwestern Pacific Railroad, in those days powered by steam, and I loved the sounds, smells and experience. One time, arranged by my brother-in-law who was General Manager of the L&W Lumber Company, I even got to ride out to a fire in one of the many tunnels along the route on a walkway on the engine that placed me right above the cowcatcher as we chugged along. A couple years older and by then with diesel engines I found myself playing hobo and hopping freight trains just for the fun of it and traveling up into Oregon and back getting off and on wherever I was moved. Of course doing so always left some time to explore the new environs while waiting for another train to stop that was going in the direction that I wanted. Yes, I did love the railroad. Then as some of my generation found God I, was reborn as a full blooded Wannabe Native American Indian and I began to see trains as just one of the very first monster machines used to conquer, rape and destroy the beautiful and peaceful West both environmentally and socially. Just expressing here my anti- capitalist sentiments on the Skunk Train encroachments now being proposed for parts of our fair land that for thousands of years were far better tended and loved by the Indigenous population than those of us now so full of the often degenerate entrepreneurial spirit.

David Severn


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It is unconscionable for Adventist to not tell everyone affected about the negotiations and the possible consequences. When were they going to tell us?

It is unconscionable for them to end acceptance of insurance, basically on the same day the negotiations fail. This provides no time to seek other insurance. And what if it is not the right time to switch providers?

Imagine a scenario wherein a person is fully insured and on July 19th has a major medical emergency requiring immediate and expensive care. So they go to Adventist only to learn that their insurance is no good. So all of a sudden they will be saddled with impressive medical bills, which until they went to the emergency room they had every reason to assume would be covered by insurance.

In addition to the fact that Adventist obviously did not take reasonable steps to inform everyone that had used their services in the past and were covered by Anthem Blue Cross, I note that both my wife and I have been to several Adventist medical services in the last month and in none of them was there any information/warning proffered relative to this issue. If I had not seen this on the Announce list, I would have no clue this was happening.

Ken Davis


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In early June, gazing downstream from the newer Guerneville Bridge toward the old, you could see more of the riverbed than the Russian River, which appeared as a thin stream running through the landscape. It was sad.

At the time, river flows were at 46 cubic feet per second. The two summer dams had not been installed, which would help a little, but it still seemed like there would be more wading than swimming this summer because of very low flows.

Sonoma Water has asked the state Water Resources Control Board to declare a “critical dry year,” which means the lower river, as measured at Hacienda Bridge, could go down to 25 cubic feet per second. (During a year of normal rainfall, 125 cfs would be the lowest flow allowed.) The purpose of lower flows is to better manage upstream reservoir levels in Lake Mendocino and Lake Sonoma, which were also lower than usual for this time of year, a result of no rain from January through March.

While no one has said this, and probably no one knows for sure, many doubt that water released from Lake Mendocino during a drought makes it downstream approximately 70 miles to Hacienda Bridge, where lower river flow measurements occur. To base lower river flows on conditions so far upstream, as proposed, is unrealistic.

The goal of the ruling document, state water board Decision 1610, is to protect human health, salmonid fish and recreation, while preventing unnecessary loss of water needed for beneficial uses. Yet the river is officially designated as impaired for sediments, high temperatures, pathogens and mercury — and those constituents would cause far more harm if concentrated into very low stream flows. You cannot adequately protect human health, and probably not environmental health, at those exceedingly stingy flow levels.

Sonoma County lost 6,400 people since March 2020. Santa Rosa’s planning department website indicates 5,941 new housing units have been approved or are in process since last year. Where will the water come from to serve these units, especially since demand hardening is setting in with many people already conserving as much as they can?

New buildings containing low-flow devices will still use a lot of water, and additional conservation is impossible for some. Even wastewater reuse will be limited because there is less sewage available during drought periods.

What will we do then?

Brenda Adelman, Chair, Russian River Watershed Protection Committee. 

Rio Nido

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Rarely does life pick someone from being prosecuted randomly by a “corrupt system.” 99% of the time the allegations brought against a defendant are true. While sometimes the defendant may not be guilty of all the allegations, there is usually some truth to the charge or charges. As a convict, I know this belief is contrary to what most convicts believe. Let me be clear that I speak solely on my personal experience in the criminal system in Mendocino County going back as far as 1986 when I served my first prison term. I have had my share of dump truck public defenders and district attorneys who trumped up my charges. And my share of dirty ass parole officers. I chuckle as I recall a scene in the film “Liar Liar” with Jim Carrey as an attorney who cannot tell a lie in spite of trying his best to do so.

Carrey is at his office when the phone rings. It is one of his clients, a low-level drug offender calling from the jail holding cell. He is frantic as he screams to his attorney: “I need some legal advice!” Carrey, as his attorney, replies: “You want some legal advice? Stop breaking the law!” It's funny because it's the best advice I've ever had heard a lawyer give. People who play by the rules, stay in their lane and contribute to the world they live in rarely if ever in their lives will even have a single conversation with a police officer.

Admittedly, I have been an outlaw since the age of 12. I made my choices and rolled with the punches. Never have I had the impulse to write a letter to the AVA professing my innocence or crying about the injustice of a corrupt legal system. Mainly because I am not a victim. Nor do I want to represent myself as a victim in a public forum. And because I know people just do not care. 

There are far too many legitimate injustices bestowed upon people in this world for them to care about a criminal crying foul. Most people are disgusted by the irony of a person who has never shown any regard for their victims “rights” and then in turn demands that their rights be honored on a silver platter!

Of course, I mean no offense to those inmates who air their feelings in the Advertiser. I respect everyone's feelings and opinions. Again, I speak only for myself when I say it just ain't my style! I will keep my commentary light and positive. The world has far too many crybabies as it is. So please allow me to leave the readers and my community with the following: If by chance you are one of those whose toes I stepped on, please forgive my behavior. I will work harder at staying out of your way.

All my best/With love,

Alan Sonny Crow

Mendocino County Jail, Ukiah

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Dear AVA,

In the July 25 on-line edition there is a comment from “Robbie Wyre, Covelo” regarding some very large issues related to the current push in Mendocino County for groundwater regulation, specifically of well-operators selling (or intending to sell) their water “commercially,” and the County’s very unclear-to-me efforts to create local regulation of that enterprise model.

Mr. or Ms. Wyre seems to have a firm grasp on the recent history of state mandates about which I would like a bit more information (yes, I’ll google all that, but…) about lawsuits and potential subordination of county authority to state authority if — if something, whatever that is, and about which I have considerable doubt as to the capacity of the county to develop the necessary local management capacity, given the explanations of Mr. Shields and my peripheral view of local bickering via the AVA.

In particular, there are references to (1) a lawsuit “the Coast Keepers Alliance brought against Sonoma County this time last year”; “…the next obvious step [being] a lawsuit in Mendo County if we don’t get our act together and pass groundwater protection and controls based on science and not sidestep the equal requirements for hydrologic study for all commercial wells pre-existing and/or new”; and “what happend in Siskiyou county” viz. “the same kind of law case they did in 2018 that has set the precedent for the case in Sonoma County.”

Lake County elected officials have discussed the possible need to rework or update the local “Groundwater Management” ordinance (part of our “Municipal Codes”) which, shockingly, does almost nothing to protect the groundwater basins from over-drafting hazards, very common in the recent years of (official) drought and expanding “commercial” cannabis operations — among the many possible causes of neighboring wells “drying up.”  

In addition to that ineffective level of local “management,” Lake County also grants authority for owners of land zoned “agriculture” to develop groundwater supplies without any method of calculating whether that development will harm the preexisting domestic or other agriculture wells in the same basin, in its largely unknown process of approving “grading permits” — despite the maintenance of a notional CEQA Initial Study review process whereby the County’s Department of Water Resources’ Engineer would consider the impact of a newly permitted, water-extraction-dependent land use project on an established quantification of the particular ground water basin’s “safe yield.”  

The County Department of Water Resources claims to have the authority to act as the sole groundwater sustainability agency, in its role as coordinator of the state’s required groundwater basin management planning process for the state’s declared “moderately impaired” basin in Big Valley (Kelseyville).  A major dispute over the “ownership” and management authority for extracting critical water supplies for the City of Lakeport from the as-yet-unquantified Scotts Valley groundwater basin creates the necessity for local management (and development of a groundwater sustainability agency) oversight of that basin — not yet determined by the state as contiguous with the Big Valley groundwater basin, but potentially so.  

In all the palaver I’ve read about the disputes over ownership and sales of Mendocino groundwater, I’ve yet to learn what legal structure at the county level would serve to both protect fragile groundwater supplies and prevent the endless pissing contests about agriculture’s pre-eminent powers to do what they want with shared natural resources that are critical for all organic life.

There are several other references in Mr./Ms. Wyre’s comments that I will also attempt to access and grasp, especially the 2018 “Environmental Law Foundation v. State Water Resources Control Board” case. But if you or Mr. Shields or anyone else can elucidate the gist of this issue, I would be most appreciative. The results of your skirmishes and socio-political outcomes could be of vast importance to us (non-competing homeowners) — not that we will be adequately informed by the county government, of course.

Respectfully yours,

Betsy Cawn

Upper Lake

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A dear friend died recently and got me thinking about death and the details of death. We know we are going to die, but we don’t know where, when or how, but it will happen to all of us. Some will die quickly from a heart attack or accident, but most of us will linger for a while.

This letter is to the grandparents, parents and adult children. There is no right time to do your preplanning, but it should happen today or next week at the latest. If you own real estate or have an estate of $100,000 or more, a living trust, will and advanced directive for health are imperative. (No, I am not an attorney).

Having our affairs in order is a blessing to our family. If you are sick or have a stroke, you need to have your wishes about your care in writing. A trust will help organize your financials. Don’t waste your hard-earned money on probate lawyers and courts when you can give your estate in months instead of years for a fraction of the probate and attorney fees.

Gordon Freedman

Santa Rosa

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For about seven years Mr. Flynn Washbunre was a constant contributor to the AVA in the form of self-deprecating, often hilarioius, always entertaining personal stories. Given his impulse for drug use and bank robberies, it is my sincere hope that this has not once again caused his demise. It would appear that Mr. Washburne has fallen completey off the map. Perhaps the esteemed edditor can update us on the status of Mr. Washburne.


Alan Crow

Mendocino County Jail


ED REPLY: We heard from Flynn recently when he wrote in to object to something Larry Livermore said about Flynn being a little heavy on his thesaurus. I believe he's in Denver where, I think, he's originally from. We miss his contributions, too. I'd encouraged Flynn to write up his adventures with Ukiah's defendant community when he functioned as night manager at one of Ukiah's white powder motels.

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To the Editor:

In Mark Scaramella’s excellent piece, “Grand Jury Aims at Measure B Again. Misses Badly”, the people of Mendocino County should also note that the grand jury report was released by none other than Kathy Wylie, perennial foreman of the county grand jury. As foreman, Ms. Wylie also served as chief apologist and sycophant for recently retired Carmel “Boss” Angelo. Investigations were killed or derailed by Wylie. Reports were watered down, or sugar coated, by Wylie.

This is same Kathy Wylie who set up false Facebook pages purporting to be the official pages for each of the county’s five supervisor districts. She was the administrator for each of those pages.

In truth, the county’s five districts do not have official pages.

I reported this deception to the Hon. Jeanine B. Nadel, the judge who oversees the grand jury –and who also owes her judgeship to Carmel Angelo — and, not surprisingly, heard nothing.

Then I reported the deception to Facebook and the pages were removed. Ms. Wylie had been using the pages to disseminate false news, conduct false voter polls, and to anonymously attack her many critics. As administrator for those pages, Ms. Wylie also silenced critics by blocking them from her pages or censoring their content.

Ultimately, a few alternative district pages were created by honest, well-meaning citizens. These are true community pages. No one is censored. No one is blocked. These pages celebrate free speech.

So, who is Kathy Wylie?

I think I’m beginning to put the pieces together.

Kathy Wylie, perennial foreman of the Mendocino County Grand Jury, may be the realtor fronting for the Skunk’s Train’s acquisition of the 320+ acre Georgia Pacific mill site for only $1.5 million. If she, in fact, represented either party in the Georgia Pacific-Skunk Train transaction, we have a smoking gun. Kathy Wylie should have made a full disclosure.

Here’s my working theory:

Carmel Angelo, perhaps advised by Mike Sweeney, who now lives in New Zealand, put the deal together.

Cathy Wylie brokered the Skunk Train deal as a realtor, then suppressed grand jury investigations into the deal.

Judge Jeanine Nadel rubberstamped all the necessary permits, easements, variances, and approvals, or otherwise gave backroom legal advice.

What do we know for sure?

What we know for sure is that Ms. Wylie is definitely pro-development and pro-tourism.

We also know there is the direct connection between Georgia Pacific stockholders (Koch Brothers) and Mendocino Railway.

From looking at the State of California corporate filings of all the known associated corporations to Sierra Railroad, the executives of those companies get shuffled around regularly. As an example, as of this year, Robert Pinoli is no longer CEO of Mendocino Railway…Mike Hart is the current CEO and Pinoli is only a director. But yet, his business address is the same as Sierra Railroad. This type of shuffling is continuous, so there is never a responsible party for accountability.

We also know it is more likely than not that Koch’s sold the millsite property to themselves using their corporate spiderweb…if for no other reason than to tangle things up in court for another 10 or 20 years.

We also know California Western Railway was sold in bankruptcy as stated and that sale can be overturned with the proper diligence. With Mendocino Railways lack of responsible action since the acquisition the properties, it would seem to be the clearest path forward to ending this takeover of our community. More research is needed though as well as finding an attorney or group of attorneys that would take it on.

And we know Sierra Northern Railway is a sister corporation to Mendocino Railway and an active participant in the takeover of our community. They have been used as a cover to purchase certain properties that are of value to Sierra Railroad and related entities…the most significant being a property out by Sherwood Road, directly over the collapsed tunnel that was purchased last year from Mendocino Land Trust.

As I said earlier, Mike Hart is now CEO of Mendocino Railway. Meanwhile, Chris Hart has moved his family to Fort Bragg to be closer to the action. He is heavily involved with Sierra Energy and the FastOx gasification process …the Mike Sweeney connection. Mike’s dream was to burn the Bay Areas’s trash right here in Mendocino County and FastOx is the next generation of waste gasification. FastOx gasification uses heat, steam and oxygen to break down waste at the molecular level. Organic materials turn into an energy-dense syngas. Inorganics melt into a non-leaching stone and metals. Waste turns into tar-free syngas suitable for conversion into high-value salable end products with no waste by-products created.

However, I’m not certain FastOx is something that Mendocino Railway really wants to bring to Fort Bragg. It may be more false news, more corporate misdirection. If we look at what Mendocino Railway is currently doing, it all revolves around the tourist industry. I don’t think burning trash and tourism can coexist. Buying up properties as they come up in estate sales and before they hit the market to turn them into expensive getaways seems more their speed. While at the same time keeping the millsite in perpetual court battles to avoid the necessary cleanup that Koch has left. California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) has already stated that they aren’t letting GP and Koch off the hook no matter who owns the property, so it is to Koch’s advantage to keep the legal battles going perpetually. Besides, with the $1.5 million acquisition, by Sierra, Koch gets to claim a $50 million loss on their taxes from the forced eminent domain proceeding. Both sides benefit from it. The 70 acres of Pudding Creek watershed has no toxic implications and Sierra is already moving forward to “carnivalize” that area.

Finally, we know Kathy Wylie is a snake. She needs close scrutiny and certainly shouldn’t be in charge of determining what cases come before the grand jury. Just the fact that she is a real estate broker puts her in conflict.

Here’s Ms. Wylie’s realtor license info:

Name: Katharine Dawn Wylie

License Number: 01058901

License Type: Real Estate Broker

License Status Licensed: Active

License Effective Date: 17 September 2016

Address: PO Box 441, Albion, California 95410-0441

John Sakowicz



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The July 18 headline in The Press Democrat — “Utter failure by police in Texas” — should have read “Utter failure of Americans to protect our children.” Yes, the police could have done more, but the real cause of these repeated school shootings is easy access to semi-automatic weapons. Republicans plus one Democrat should be ashamed for allowing these guns to be sold in our country. The shooting in Uvalde haunts me, the innocent children cowering in the classroom and their last moments filled with terror. Shame on all of us for not doing better to protect them.

Janet Horrall


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