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Letters (December 15, 2022)

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I have lived in Cloverdale all of my 73 years. I found out a few months back that my family left upstate New York in 1811. After a few stops they arrived and settled in Anderson Valley, Yorkville and Cloverdale in 1855.

I have so much history here and in Anderson Valley. My great-great grandmother is Grandma Stubblefield as in the book that was written about in your paper recently, Grandma Stubblefield's Rose.

Your paper is old school because you tell it like it is.

It has brought back a lot of memories too. We had a paper in Cloverdale back in the 60s and 70s which Bill Sandlin ran. He was just like you and told it like it was.

So many memories you have brought up. I remember a story about Cloverdale's Blind Man. He was an umpire in our men's softball league. There is nothing soft about a softball. He would call a ball a strike, or a strike the ball. 

Every town had a Blind Man. We also had Mario who would drink a little and not very well. So he spoke like he was from another world.

We also had Johnny Pumphandle. He was like our town marshal and he would sit for hours watching the traffic on Highway 101 through town.

Then we had Charlie Ricard, aka. Fastpitch. He was like double-jointed and when he pitched the ball that would take what seemed like hours to get to the plate.

All of our guys were Cloverdale’s answer to Pepper, a locally famous tart-tongued lady who was ubiquitous in Santa Rosa. If you ever ran into her you were toast. 

It brought back a lot when things were so nice and in the slow lane. Not anymore now.

Going northwest on Highway 128 from Cloverdale there is a water trough built from 1910-1917 for the horses which traveled the road both with riders and horsecarts. There was another spring near the west camping club. We used to go out there and get gallons of drinking water. Both of them were wonderful, so cold and good. Now it's all for forgotten.

Back in the late 60s we played Boonville in football every year. It was right after the Apple Fair. You were probably told that we never lost to Boonville. But we managed to lose all four years of football when I played. The issue for us was that just after the Apple Fair and all the cows and horses, there was shit left on the Fairgrounds playing field. Our coach would make us all take our clothes off after the game, and I mean all of it. It was so bad that all our clothes ended up under the bus for the trip home. But it did no good. It still stunk. So we lost all four of those years in the “Shit Bowl."

Thank you for all you do. Have a good 2023.

Gary Murray


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In June 2020 just after Covid started I was contacted by Robert Pinoli, President of Mendocino Railways also known as the Skunk Train, who offered me $450,000 to $500,000 for my property in Willits. I looked for a property to replace it and was unable to find a property in Willits with two parcels so that I could build four houses for rental income. I explained this to Robert and offered to sell him my project for $1.5 million, to which he replied the property was not worth that much.

I was then contacted by Mike Hart (CEO of parent company Sierra Pacific Railroad Company) and when I refused his offer he indicated to me that he would get the property appraised at $350,000 and take it through Eminent Domain. They were able to get it appraised at exactly $350,000 and filed the action against my property on December 22, 2020. 

Fast forward to April 2022 we finally got the site plan I originally requested in 2020 and that they were using for the previous two years and found out that they actually wanted to take my property and turn it into a campgrounds with a passenger loading station for the excursion train. 

When my lawyer informed them that it would be illegal to take my property through eminent domain and turn it into a private campgrounds they quickly switched their story and days before our trial started came up with a new map with the idea of a transloading facility on my property. Mendocino Railways claims they are a public utility and a freight train moving goods between Willits and Fort Bragg. Robert Pinoli also stated under oath that their freight cars can hold four semi trucks of cargo/freight and can be loaded in half an hour.

I could’ve started this fund raising two and a half years ago but chose not to because I assumed Mendocino Railways would come to me with a reasonable offer which I would have accepted and I did not want to take money from people and then turn around and take an offer. 

Now that is not the case. This case will set precedents and needs a judgment. The problem I have now is that the judgment will not be made for another six months and I have borrowed more money than they originally offered me for the property. I’ve exhausted all of my resources short of selling my equipment. 

In Early 2020 with a FICO credit score rating of 815 I was prepared and in the process to build four houses on my property in Willits, three of which I would rent and one to live in. Now the money for that is long gone fighting this ridiculous court case with the Skunk Train/Mendocino Railways. They were prepared to pay $5 million for the campgrounds adjacent to my property which months prior to sold for $3.2 million just so they could cut off two acres and resell the campground; the two acres would be for the rail bikes parking and depot from my knowledge and statements under oath in court. 

Now they claim to need 20 acres to build their “transloading facility” to ship freight between Fort Bragg and Willits (32 Miles by roadway 40 miles by train if they could even get through since the tunnel has been collapsed for many years) and claim that my property (21 flat acres) is only worth $350,000 versus $5 million for the campground which has less usable land (37 acres mostly hillside) 

I don’t want to stop the excursion trains from operating. I’m trying to stop the owners from their illegal and abusive use of power that they do not legally have but it cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight them and this has been happening countrywide with excursion trains over the last 30+ years and as far as I know this case will set precedents for the future and possibly the past. 

These fraudulent actions have no statute of limitations. Up until this case I had no interest in suing anyone nor have I. 

I have done a deep dive into this phenomenon over the past two and a half years and plan to spend much of my future time so that the fraud done to others in the past is rectified and that there is precedence for the future so other families do not have to go through what my family has gone through. Thank you all for your time and consideration. Please share this with friends and family.

Thank You, 

John Meyer 

1605 Fort Bragg Road

Willits, CA 95490;

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My daughter and her two children (teenage girl and teenage boy) have lived in Fort Bragg for 7 years now. During this time my daughter has always worked and has been a valuable member of our town. In 2017, while working 2 jobs,she left her abusive husband. Because of a lack of housing at that time, she took the kids and lived in a tent (it was summer). By the beginning of Fall, she found a place through property management. On the 1st of November, her little place was sold and she was given a 60 day notice to vacate. 

She knows what it's like to be homeless with children, It's TERRIBLE!!!!!! Now it's cold and rainy, Christmas and Birthday time. School ties have been established. She is feeling desperate. She does not know I am writing this - she finds it demeaning and mortifying to beg. I am begging for her. Anyone out there have any ideas at all for a 2 or 3 bedroom dwelling? She is responsible, kind and will always take care of other people's property. 

All leads are greatly appreciated 

Ruth Martin <

Fort Bragg

P.S. Her job, her friends, her children's school & friends are all in Fort Bragg. She would like to stay close.

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My application for unemployment has been approved. The basis for the approval was my former employer's (Adventist Health Mendocino Coast) unwillingness to deal with my complaint to them of a “hostile work environment” at the medical clinic. I pondered then, as I ponder now about the Adventist Health Mission statement… “Living God's love by inspiring wholeness and hope” … ?

Rosemary Mangino

Fort Bragg

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I want to be respectful of nonbinary people who wish to be referred to with nonbinary pronouns. I have found it impossible, however, to use the pronouns that have for centuries been plural in the English language to sometimes be intended to refer to singular individuals. Rarely does the context provide immediate understanding.

It did not take a long time for Ms. to be adopted and come into common usage to refer to females who do not wish to be identified as married or unmarried.

Therefore, I propose the following as new words to solve the conundrum of nonbinary pronouns: In place of he/she, we could use “zhe.” Pronunciation of the zh would be like the “s” in Frasier. For her/him, it could be “zhrm.” When anyone sees or hears the “zh” in a word or sound they would immediately know a nonbinary, singular pronoun is intended.

I don’t know the process to make a change or addition to the lexicon, but I dearly hope the process can begin to establish unique words, these suggested or any others, that will be unique, singular, nonbinary pronouns.

Pamela Tennant


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Dear AVA,

Most district attorneys are crooked and dirty and no better than those they are putting in prison as I have written about in prior letters.

However, now I am condemning California's odious Three Strikes law because it is unjust.

I am in prison with a man named to William Milton who is in prison with only one strike doing a life sentence. He was prosecuted 23 years ago at which time the District Attorney used two prior convictions out of Illinois to strike him out. Melvin has been arguing these are not strikes. At trial the District Attorney asked that the court sentence Milton under California's Three Strikes law and the court agreed. Judges are district attorneys in black robes. The judge sentenced Milton to 25 years to life.

Over the last 10 years the United States Supreme Court has been clarifying how states can enhance someone's sentence above the statutory maximum like California's Three Strikes law. It is because of these court rulings, Milton filed in the California appellate court arguing that his out-of-state convictions are not strikes in California. The California appeals court agreed, that Milton only had one strike because the out-of-state convictions did not classify as strikes under California law. Notwithstanding, they refused to overturn his sentence because his sentence was too old. Milton appealed to the California Supreme Court and they granted review. A decision was rendered in August, 2022. In that decision it was determined that Milton's two out-of-state convictions didn't qualify as strikes under California law. They also ruled that the US Supreme Court cases Milton was relying on were not retroactive, and determined that even though he only had one strike, he still had to serve his life sentence. 

I ask the voting public to please explain how this works? See in re Milton (2022) 13 Cal 5th 893.

What the California Supreme Court is doing is overriding the United States Supreme Court. There are several federal appellate courts which have said that Mathis and Descamps are retroactive. The fourth, sixth, seventh and ninth circuit courts said they are in fact retroactive because they "alter the range of conduct that the law punishes" and not "only the procedure used to obtain a conviction."

Prior to the US Supreme Court decision in Gallardo, a defendant could have his sentence increased due to prior conduct extraneous to a prior conviction. Now, however, in accordance with the Sixth amendment and the due process principles set forth in Taylor, Apprendi, Descamps, and Mathis, prior extraneous conduct cannot support an increased sentence in a subsequent case. If Milton wins in the United States Supreme Court there are a lot of people who will be able to be resentenced. 

There are old men who have been in prison for the past 20-28 years for minor crimes that you, the people, are being forced to pay to keep them in prison.

Just think of the money this will save you. You will be able to start paying teachers more. Maybe then they will be able to pay their rent or maybe even pay for a house. Start paying teachers what they pay these corrections officers. That's $80,000-$100,000 a year. It's a better investment, that's for sure.

I asked you people, did you vote for Proposition 57 several years ago? It was intended to help relieve the overcrowding. It passed with about 63% of the vote. Notwithstanding the guards union, the district attorney's union, the California Department of Corrections, Sheriffs Association, and the California Supreme Court which all decided that you, the voting public, were nothing more than a bunch of idiots who didn't know what you were voting for. So they took it upon themselves to throw out your votes and canceled them.

The last thing the Department of Corrections wants to do is release people out of prison. They are getting $113,000 a year to keep us in small cages. And the older we get the less trouble we cause them so why would they want to turn us loose? That's free money for them. Besides, who cares if your kids don't get an education when they have a bed for them right here in one of these small cages.

It's time for you, the voting public, to take a stand against this mammoth machine called the California Department of Corrections and take back some of your tax dollars so you can start paying your teachers to educate your kids.

I thank you in advance for your time!

Charles V. Statler AT 7102


PS. Merry Christmas and Happy new year!

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Robert Reich, political economist, friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Labor, can't get permission from NPR corporate donors so that he can speak to the largest radio audience in the country. Climate change: forget any meaningful progress as long as the Republicans take their orders from the fossil fuel corporados. The answer is to build up a solid majority of Democrats in government starting with 18-year-olds. Establish Young Democrat clubs in most counties. Harrison is doing the opposite of what is needed. Just like the Democratic clubs in this county. Invite every member of Ukiah high school to a Democratic Club organizing meeting.

Ralph Bostrom


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As you all know, it's a cold one tonight and it's gonna get colder. We are in our homes with our wood heat or propane, forced air, whatever warms your house. Your probably snuggling on the couch with a blanket and furbaby or significant other or maybe tucked under the covers on your bed watching a movie. 

Well, imagine this... you have none of that, no house, no heat, no blanket, not even a jacket and you are sleeping outside. I work at the homeless shelter in Ukiah and we are in need of jackets, gloves, scarves, hats, sweatpants and sweatshirts, and most of all blankets. We are able to shelter up to 55 people, but there are 100s in Mendocino County that have nothing and sleep outside.

We also have furbaby guests that need collars, leashes, and furbaby sweaters.

Also hygiene products, bed sheets, and pillows are needed.

If you have any of these items that you have been thinking about discarding, please pm me and I will gladly pick up any donations in the Anderson Valley and Ukiah area.

(Again, we have an on-line message without contact information. This is becoming more and more common in the social media age. For further information, readers interested in following up might try contacting the people at the Homeless Resource Center in Ukiah (Buildling Bridges) at 234-3270.)

Alexis Ann Duckett Lyon


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Hello everyone. 

My name is Warren G. Beck II. I am an inmate at Mendocino County Correctional facility. I am inmate #74145. I am writing to tell you all a little about what I'm going through. My story starts when I was 22. My daughter was born April 13, 2008. I briefly had a time when my child was in my care before her mother left me and took my child with her. Now after my daughter was taken away from me, I decided to do something better for myself. That's when I told myself that I was going to sober my life up. I went into drug and alcohol rehab classes. I started going to college for automotive mechanic. I even moved out to California to get my education for free. I finally got my chance to be part of my child's life when she turned nine years old. Again that was short-lived. It only lasted roughly a year before I again got arrested. My daughter then said she hated me and told me to leave and not come back. 

Needless to say I left again. This time with the thought that I was destroying her life and that she would be better off without me. But that sadly was not the case. My ex-fiance has been keeping in contact with me, updating me on our little girl Seriona's progress. The last time I saw her was she was an A-B student. But ever since I left she has regressed and become more introverted. She even started failing class more often. She is now a C-D student. Her mother and I both agree that my being gone has made a significantly large impact on her than we first believed. I have been in contact with her mother a lot more this year and she has been informing me that my daughter has been becoming more withdrawn, reclusive, and even violent towards her little brother. She has been displaying symptoms of anxiety and depression. Seriona has been having nightmares of losing her father for good, waking up, screaming for me, crying in her sleep and anytime she is alone. I was also appalled that the only thing she has been asking for for her birthday was for daddy to come home. I couldn't be happier to hear that. I have missed so much of her life. I don't want to miss any more. So I'm writing to beg readers for help to make her wish come true. I want to go back to Columbus, Ohio, to live with my daughter. I hope to make enough money to purchase a plane ticket home so I can make it to her 15th birthday party. I am begging readers to please donate to the chance I have to go back home, somewhere I have longed to find for so many years now.

My daughter's mother has even been talking about possibly giving things between us another shot. I really want to see if maybe things will be different between us this time. I believe that we can do better together. I have been dreaming of the day I can go home to my baby.

I am now begging you all to pull together and help send this brokenhearted father back to his family and finally make things whole and finally be able to change things for the better and make a great impact on my daughter's life.

Please help me to make her wish and my dream come true.

Thank you for reading.


A brokenhearted father

Warren G. Beck

Mendocino County Jail, Ukiah

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It seems that folks with solar panels are not paying their fair share for use of the power grid and the maintenance of the power grid. Just forget about what these folks were promised when making the decision to spend quite a bit of money to go solar. I’m just waiting for the next round of broken promises that will hit electric vehicle owners. They are not purchasing gasoline, so they are not paying fuel taxes for road maintenance. Just guessing new fees on registration are in their future.

Raleight Chaix


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As we shop this holiday season, how about we cut back a buck here, $10 there, then send the savings to Ukraine? There may be people on our gift lists who really don’t need much of anything, and surely there are survivors and refugees of Russia’s savagery who need everything. Any number of humanitarian agencies are struggling to assist beleaguered and suffering Ukrainian children, seniors and others who huddle amid the bombardment or the raw realities of displacement.

I chose UNICEF. No wrapping or bows required.

Chris Smith

Santa Rosa

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To the Editor:

I went to Building Bridges yesterday with a box of donations I had purchased. Hygiene kits, socks and little canvas bags with the reflectors stripe. The place is disgusting. People out front smoking pot. Only one washing machine works (there are several out of order), it smells bad and there are very young people at the front desk who seem to know nothing. A cat was walking all over the desk while I’m trying to talk. They couldn’t have cared less about the bags of socks I bought. One bag was small socks and they said we can’t accept socks for kids. Are you kidding me? A lady, with the cat, says if they fit a small woman we’ll take them. Well that’s the last time I donate there. Plowshares loves my donations. I’m greeted with a smile and gratitude.

City of Ukiah wants accolades on their homeless achievements. Has anyone ever actually been there? I think actual pictures of the place should be shown.

I feel you are the only one who can share this and bring the situation to light.

Vanessa Jordon


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To the Editor

Much hearty applause at news of your PEN Lifetime Achievement Award. You deserve it and you’ve deserved it since around 1990. I’m genuinely pleased.

You might have taken a shortcut and simply joined San Fran's Chronicle about 30 years ago and started racking up prizes from the beginning. Soon you’d have needed an extra wing on your house to stash all the plaques, trophies, certificates, watches and photographs of you and various celebrities, smiling.

You would have been better off, but journalism and the world would not.  Better for you to suffer and die broke than a single subscriber be deprived of a solitary guffaw at the expense of Doug Bosco, or that Mike Sweeney be able to sleep well for even one night. 

(All this praise comes from a journalist who’s won prizes of his own. As recently as 1997 I was honored by the Ukiah Daily Journal and awarded the Employee of the Month parking spot.) 

Bruce, ya done good, and for a long time.


Tom Hine (aka TWK)


ED NOTE: Sez the real pro who can write rings around the mythical person described above, but I'll take it since it's aimed at someone with the same name as me.

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The debit card for my $700 state middle-class tax refund was issued by Monetary Network Customer Service, which is based in South Dakota. Because it charged fees for each transaction, I requested a check instead. My check was issued by a bank located in Alpharetta, Georgia. California bans state-funded travel to 23 states, including South Dakota and Georgia. I think banning travel to other states for policy differences is silly and invites retaliation by states that may respond with identical foolish behavior. But why forbid state and university employees from business travel to half the nation while Sacramento pays hefty fees to financial institutions in those same states to distribute 18 million refund payments totaling about $10 billion?

Craig S. Harrison

Santa Rosa

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(Addendum to 2022 Annual Crop Report)

Summary: Ag Department To Supervisors: Mendo has no idea how much pot is being grown, and that’s just on the permitted side. PS. More than five years after Mendo’s grossly failed pot permit program began, Mendo sent out 1300 surveys to “cannabis operators” in September (a little more than the number of permit applicants), and got back exactly two (2) of them. They don’t even mention the pot being grown without permits, an unknown amount of which is by permit applicants who have given up on getting cultivation permits.

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DATE: December 1, 2022
TO: Board of Supervisors
FROM: Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures 

SUBJECT: Cannabis Crop Report 

The Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures (AWM) has spent considerable time exploring ways to present the value of cannabis production for the county. In this effort we sent out crop report surveys, examined minimum tax as received by the County for permitted entities, and we worked collaboratively with the Mendocino Cannabis Department to understand how we might extrapolate a production value based on estimated yields based on permitted square footage for the different cultivation types. While we did prepare and distribute surveys to cultivators and nursery operators, participation in these surveys was extremely low (only 2 of over 1300 surveys were returned). Compounding this dilemma is the fact that we as a County do not have access to the State’s Track and Trace (METRC) data, which would allow us access to manifests indicating transfers of flower, trim, and nursery plants between licensees. This data is not available through public records act requests. 

We have approached this quandary by attempting to arrive at a production value based on the following assumptions: that legal growers cultivated the maximum permitted square foot canopy based on their permits/licenses, that each grower harvested the same yield per square foot based on industry averages per cultivation type, and by comparison of minimum tax assessment received by the county between 2020 and 2021 we could identify an increase or decrease from the previous year while taking into account price changes per pound for the different cultivation types. 

While this does allow us to prepare and present an estimated production value, inherent in this value are a number of assumptions. First, that the base amount of taxes collected is accurate and indicative of the number of permitted entities that actually cultivated. Second, entities that did grow, maximized their square footage, and had the maximum number of harvests based on their license type. And third, that the assumption of yield was equitable across all production types. Understanding that several licensees did not cultivate in 2021, and those that did may not yet have sold product into the supply chain for the 2021 crop year, this further compounds error in these assumptions of production. 

Due to the error inherent in this methodology and the lack of certainty, as well as the lack of participation in surveys, we do not feel at this time that presenting an estimated value of production is appropriate to include in the County’s Agricultural Crop Report, for which other crop production values are known and more accurately reported. There are potentially significant variations in value dependent on those unknown variables. 

Moving forward it will be imperative that we devise a method for collecting and presenting cannabis production values. The Agricultural Department has a growing and good relationship with the Cannabis Department, and we have worked closely with Director Kristin Nevedal to explore how to best present cannabis production values. Absent more active and transparent participation in the crop report surveys by permitted industry participants, we believe that an amendment to the county cannabis land use ordinance should include the requirement for all permitted cultivators, processors, and nursery operators to provide Track and Trace (METRC) data to the Cannabis Department or Agriculture Department for the purposes of more accurately reporting cannabis production value in the county’s crop report. If the county ultimately endeavors to holistically embrace cannabis as a viable industry in the county’s economy, then we must work towards accurately reporting its economic contributions to the County. This goes beyond Crop Report production values, but we feel that this recommendation will provide a foundation on which to build. 

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