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Letters (December 29, 2022)

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To the Editor of the Independent Coast Observer,

I was appalled at the comic [in a recent Independent Coast Observer] depicting Herschel Walker. It looks blatantly racist even though cartoonist Mr. Fagan may depict other politicians in a similarly deprecating way. I think the Independent Coast Observer needs to use discretion in this area. It is disturbing that Mr. Fagan may not have enough checks and balances given his position at the Independent Coast Observer.

Please refrain from using racially suggestive material. I am sure this community leans toward racial equality, inclusion, acknowledgment, and celebration of diversity. And knowledge of spelling has nothing to do with intelligence or ability to perform as an elected servant of the people of the United States.


Ronna Frost

Point Arena

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I deeply apologize to anyone who might have been offended by my cartoon last week depicting Herschel Walker.

My intent was definitely not racist. It was to portray Walker as ignorant and incompetent, something for which he has been repeatedly criticized. By the time this letter is published it is my fervent hope that his African-American opponent, the Reverend Raphael Warnock (to whose campaign I have made substantial monetary donations) will have been reelected senator from Georgia.

Had the candidate been Caucasian, I would have done the same cartoon. Cartoonists should not be held to a double standard of depicting white candidates in a "deprecating" way, but not African-Americans. My caricatures of other politicians have certainly been unkind, and I have had Donald Trump misspell a number of words while in other cartoons I have shown several African Americans in a positive light including Kamala Harris, Ketanji Brown Jackson, George Floyd and Martin Luther King.

Again my apologies to those who might have been offended. I am a strong believer in racial equality and harmony and have fought for it all my adult life. My cartoons are intended to provoke, not offend.

Drew Fagan


ED NOTE: IS THIS CARICATURE of Herschel Walker racist? 

The placid waters of the Independent Coast Observer were roiled a couple of weeks ago when Ronna Frost of Point Arena wrote in to the paper to denounce Drew Fagan's depiction of Walker, a public figure caricatured similarly and much more harshly in all kinds of media here and abroad. I don't have a BIPOC ethicist handy to weigh in, but I'm going to say Mr. Fagan's drawing of Walker is not racist. If he'd drawn a generic black person with the same caption we'd have a case for racism because it would be saying that all black people are stupid. Herschel Walker isn't stupid either, but he was clearly not prepared for the job as he proved by saying all kinds of dumb things as he campaigned. He was shoved forward by cynical white fascists as a well-known sports figure to run against a black incumbent senator, obviously a racist move by career racists in the Republican Party, people like the odious Lindsay Graham. Clarence Thomas, often caricatured as a primitive reactionary was, like Walker, put forward as a Supreme Court Justice by white Republican racists because they correctly thought that liverish “liberals” of the Biden type would also support Thomas out of fear they would be denounced as racists. Biden, as we know, voted to seat Thomas, humiliating Anita Hill, a black woman, in the process. I see this denunciation of Mr. Fagan by Ms. Frost as, in its own way, as racist as the drawing she condemns because it assumes that certain public people, because of their race, should not be criticized which, of course, also assumes different categories of people, a racist notion. I was sorry to see Mr. Fagan apologize to Ms. Frost's wrongheaded bullying.

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With the increasing Unionization of American workers Santa’s reindeer and elves have caught the bug as well and decided organize with the Teamsters, Carpenters, Decorators etc and Christmas is on hold this year until all parties involved sit down and hash out a contract to ratify. For Christ’s sake, they’re not giving the elves bathroom breaks and they are starting them in the iPhone factories at the tender age of 8. They’re working 14 hour days, 7 days a week with no vacation or sick pay. They are forced to spend all of their shekels at the company store. This must be addressed! They started to strike before Christmas until Scrooge McBiden stepped in to put an end to these demands for equality in the name of Americans getting all of their “Carrots,” I mean Chinese consumer goods for Christmas.

An injury to one is an injury to all! We need a modern day Christmas Rebellion ala Sam Sharpe!

Nathan Duffy


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Vines grow here. You don’t have to go to a Tarzan movie. In my quest for firewood, I have become intimate with vines. To the point: They have untied my boots. They have scratched, lacerated, punctured, punctuated and ripped my skin (which doesn’t count, my skin being past its “remove by” date), they have removed the little pad that cushions your glasses at the bridge of your nose, they removed my watch, which was my son’s. Thank heaven it fetched up inside the snuggy wrist-sleeve of my coat. They have tripped me up and laid me low time without number. They have stopped my borrowed 4WD V8 pickup truck cold, and it remains now in a little swale in the woods, which, in times of significant rain, becomes, like the streams of the southwest that are dry washes 99.9 percent of the time except in times of significant amount of rain, when they earn their highway names of Roaring Rapids and Flashing Flood, Droownyouquik and Get The Hell Outra Here. The truck sits there now, waiting for me to have another go at extrication—hard, punishing work I’m way too old for, but there’s not that much that makes you feel able than doing foolish things and surviving, (When you have ADD).

So scuse me. Nissan awaits. I hope you saw ‘The White Lotus’ last night. HBO rules!

Mitch Clogg


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Green String Farms in Petaluma has announced that it is going out of business. This has shocked many locals who depend on its produce. But the reasons behind its failure are the same reasons many farmers struggle — lack of labor and water. Add to this the increased cost of fertilizer and fuel, among other increased costs, and you have a scenario that many other farmers face while trying to stay in business.

We just reached 8 billion people on this planet. Just 12 years ago it was 7 billion. Climate change and drought have fallowed many acres in the western United States. The Mississippi River is at its lowest flow in history. The war in Ukraine has destroyed the breadbasket of Europe. Green String Farms is just another example of farmers and agriculture failing because of climate change.

It’s time for people to realize that food doesn’t simply come from a grocery store. Water doesn’t simply come from turning on a tap. We need to support farmers — all farmers. We need to act on climate change by reducing our consumption of fossil fuels. We are linked to the environment in more ways than we realize.

Bob Johnson

Lower Lake

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After a summer and fall of public comments to the California Public Utilities Commission without much response or action, last week the CPUC issued a draft resolution to be voted on at their Jan 12th, 2023 meeting that would approve bringing fiber broadband to Comptche within two years time. Apparently the staff at CPUC did not want to grant AT&T relief from the fines it has incurred. However, President Reynolds and members of the Commission were impressed by Comptche’s outreach efforts and the arguments we put forward to use the funds from the fine relief to modernize our telecommunications network. 

To all the citizens of Comptche that came forward to make their voices heard, thank you. You’ve earned this. We here at the Comptche Broadband Committee will be monitoring the vote closely and will do our best to ensure fiber comes to Comptche. 

All will be able to view the proceedings. This link here details on how to connect up:

Jim Gagnon

Comptche Broadband Committee 

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The best Pronoun(s) EVER were explicated in Marge Piercy's novel “Woman on the Edge of Time” in which the protagonist (an Hispanic abused wife in the City) is propelled into an alternate future where everyone is addressed as PERSON. It totally works and I don't understand why everyone didn't adopt this answer to the gender issues (and the age issue as well). A Person is that Person from the moment of birth to the moment of death.

It works for everything....singular, plural, possessive, first person and every other category covered. For example: Per's, Person's, Persons, Persons'.

Allison Martin

Fort Bragg

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To the Editor:

To Jim Shields’s fine article about Mendocino County’s previously undisclosed $6.1 million budget deficit…I told you so.

There was nothing but an incestuous love fest when Carmel “Boss” Angel retired in March. Angelo’s last Board of Supervisors meeting was attended by all the usual political insiders, and it was an orgy of mutual back-slapping and self-congratulations.

Not a critical word. Not a single truth.

Just whitewashing.

Except for me. I got my three minutes of public comments at the March meeting pointing out Angelo's failures after which Chair Ted Williams dismissed my comments as “unfounded lies.”

It gets worse.

Presently, it’s tough to make critical comments of the Board without getting your microphone shut off. There are new restrictions.

Also, try submitting written public comment. The new system is so difficult to use that I believe it was designed to thwart written public comment.

So, my question is this:

Does the Board really want a participatory democracy? Or are they more interested in silencing the truth, and collecting their salaries and pensions?

On the subject of pay packages, our County CEO, Darcie Antle, gets a total of something like $350,000 in combined salary and benefits. This is obscene is a county with a $6.1 million budget deficit. This is obscene with a county with hundreds of miles of unpaved roads. This is obscene in a county that is raising fees on all services and permits.

This is especially obscene is a county with so much widespread poverty. Half of our county residents are eligible for Food Stamps. A third are eligible for Medi-Cal.

John Sakowicz 


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$200 EACH


No one mentions or questions the appropriation of store carts by homeless and homed people. I went into Big Lots on Mendocino Avenue, and although the store wasn’t crowded, there were few shopping carts. I asked an employee who said they had just received a truckload but over half were gone in a week. The carts cost more than $200 each. People wheel them home and leave them for the next person to take home or to an encampment. There used to be penalties for theft, but shopping carts, unlike the 10-cent bags, are free?

Weedy TuhtanJoseph


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Camp One in Jackson State Forest is being logged. Many trees are still standing, and your action may help save them. Many of us local folks on the coast and inland camp along this stretch of the Noyo River have done so for many years. If you love to camp there to enjoy fishing and swimming under fine redwood trees, then you better contact the Jackson Demonstration State Forest and Cal Fire office at (707) 964-5674. This area is part of the Redtail Timber Harvest Plan. The road into Camp One is already closed. You may wish to contact Governor Newson and Wade Crowfoot, the California Secretary of Natural Resources. While you’re at it, tell them to consult with the local tribes before they fall one more tree.

Marc Komer


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To all who in this festive time of year have gone out of your way to put up holiday decorations, be it so much as a single bow on a light sconce, a wreath on a door or putting your Christmas tree where it can be seen from the street, thank you.

One of the joys my wife and I have, between Thanksgiving and Twelfth Night, is driving around in the evening looking at the decorations people have put up. Some stunningly elegant in a stark white simplicity, some elaborate computer-controlled extravaganzas complete with synchronized music on short-range FM channels.

Well done, everyone. Merry Christmas. Happy Hannukah.

Joe Lovell

Santa Rosa

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Leaving a restaurant in Railroad Square recently, a young man approached two couples near us and screamed obscenities at them. He punched one of the men, then went after the other couple. As we were trying to move toward our car, the man turned his attention to our group with aggressive actions and language.

As we tried to avoid him, he stole my hat and took off, with me in pursuit. Halfway down the block he ducked into a restaurant, coming out as I arrived. An altercation ensued until the restaurant manager and a good Samaritan stepped between us and the man took off down the street. My wife retrieved my hat from inside the toilet of the women’s restroom inside the restaurant.

It was apparent this man had mental or substance abuse issues. I do not understand where the millions of dollars allocated to people in need are going. This type of incident is the reason we no longer go to San Francisco to shop and eat. Is Santa Rosa going down the same rabbit hole as San Francisco? It appears so.

Gerald King

Santa Rosa

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I would say a really Big One is anything over 7.5. Anything over that you don’t even want to think about. This one at 6.4 was a real box shaker. Something fell off my dresser and the walls were rattling, most of the havoc being wrought came from the kitchen. I stepped in a moist pile of potted plant mix on my way there. Good thing I go to bed early cause it’s 2:34 am and today has started on the early side.

They say you should have a plan which sounds like the Mike Tyson quote “everybody has a plan till they get punched in the mouth.” The power is out, my glasses and phone fell on the floor somewhere, my keys are in the kitchen but first I need a flashlight and meantime my dog is standing there looking at me for guidance. And the cat is not taking any orders right now.

I always believed in the stand in the doorway theory as an unlikely place for the building to collapse on you but if you’re that close to the outside why not just go out? But for that you need clothes on first.

By now all the shaking has stopped except for your insides. So we walked around and met the neighbors who were all out in their sweatpants and flashlights.

I text my wife to keep her informed and mention I’m on a deck chair on the deck. Why are you outside she asks? I was a little shy about going back in and she calls me a “drama queen.” To try to sleep after this is like trying to walk on sea legs.

So about 2 pm I thought what the hay I’ll cruise around a bit, see if anything is open while I charge up my phone and Eureka Natural is and they’re packed. So I got some hot food and coffee and feel a whole lot better and sit down to write and bam another aftershock.

There are some positives in a little shake up like this, the people act nicer to one another, also they say a quake like this let’s off some pressure pushing the Big One a little farther out and it wasn’t raining, windy or cold.

Power’s supposed to be back on by 10 which we desperately need to get back to feeling normal. No property damage that I can tell. Our poor friends to the south of here in Ferndale, Fortuna and Rio Dell probably not as lucky. It all depends how close you are to the fault line and they run all over this area.

I knew this Native American gal and her reaction to one of these was it’s all mother nature. Nothing to worry about. Another old friend Don who is about 100 and has lived here all his life said when talking about how everywhere has some downside to it like hurricanes, tornadoes and such, with an earthquake, ”there’s no preliminary hype and worry, 30 seconds and it’s over.”

Now I’m just going to pray a little bit.

Charlie Brannick


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Regarding the recent public realization that US Intelligence Agencies are married to big Tech.

We all know that the number one job of Intelligence Agencies is to spy, to conduct surveillance and to gather intelligence.

We also all know that the number two job of Intelligence Agencies is to disseminate and control information.

So it follows all logic that after we realized that big Tech and Social Media were the greatest modern tools to spy, conduct surveillance and gather intelligence that what would follow the happy marriage of Intelligence to big Tech would be the cynical effort control of ALL avenues of communication, what you say and what you hear. It’s a form of transparent blasphemy. It follows from what Kropotkin says in the Conquest of Bread. "It is because all that is necessary for production - the land, the mines, the highways, machinery, food, shelter, education, knowledge - all have been seized by the few in the course of that long story of robbery, enforced migration and wars, of ignorance and oppression, which has been the life of the human race before it had learned to subdue the forces of nature."

So beyond all the theft of nature and the means of production we have the theft of communication and thought. Its just a more pernicious invasion of the human soul. Invasive, pervasive and all controlling. A clear inheritance from Christian Theology as some would say. The attempt to play God. 

Nate Collins


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Any doubt of President Putin's and the Russian military's responsibility for the heinous way in which its war in and with Ukraine is being conducted? Today is the three hundredth day since Russia invaded its sovereign independent neighbor Ukraine (Feb. 24, 2022). While each side in this first large scale European war since the end of WWII in Europe (May 7, 1945) each side has lost an estimated 100,000 killed or wounded combatants on the battlefield. This is where equal comparisons end.

When he was forced to leave his vehicle in May during the battle of Kharkiv, Fedon, age 22, nearly died when he stepped on a Russian landmine. His shattered legs and the bleeding might have ended his life. He used two tourniquets he applied himself. Taken off the battlefield by Ukrainian medics quickly evacuated him to Landstuhl, the US base in Germany. After surgery he went into recovery in Maryland where he recently is using new carbon-fiber devices to walk. Probably to run again. He is determined to return to a Ukrainian Army unit the war against Russia is won. ("Washington Post," Dec. 15, 2022).

Frank H. Baumgardner, III

Santa Rosa

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