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Letters (February 2, 2023)

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The video footage from Memphis, Tennessee released last night showed the brutal attack and suffering of Tyre Nichols. Our hearts go out to Mr. Nichols’ family, as they unnecessarily have endure the death of their father, son, brother, nephew and friend. We mourn with you.

The video was gut-wrenching and disgusting. It caused anger in the law enforcement community. The officers involved brought shame upon their badges and the law enforcement profession as a whole. They betrayed their oaths, their department, their community, and their country.

The now former officers were dealt with swiftly, in a manner we have been striving for. They were immediately fired and rightfully arrested on the charge of murder soon after. The investigation is ongoing and more will face justice for their actions – or inactions – during this incident.

Every day, law enforcement professionals across the nation work to prevent these types of attacks. It shakes us to our core people in uniform, sworn to protect, would horrifically beat a community member, causing their death. It cannot and will not be tolerated.

As we look to answer the question of how this could’ve happened, I will say the despicable acts inflicted on Mr. Nichols do not represent the values, principles, and training at Fort Bragg Police Department. Moreover, we publicly condemn their actions and commit ourselves to public service and safety.

Neil J. Cervenka, Chief of Police

Concern, Compassion, Courage

Fort Bragg

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Another dance hall, another party, another 10 dead. The inane conversations continue: Motive? Where’d he buy the gun? The illegal magazine? Was it a hate crime? More flowers against the fence, more “our prayers are with you.” What is it we are pretending not to know?

It is that our electoral system is organized around money — getting it, sharing it, spending it to stay in office. It’s the Gordian knot binding so many problems: The influence of wealthy lobbyists on public policy; the inordinate time legislators dedicate to fundraising, the Citizen’s United decision.

The National Rifle Association is the lobbyist for the armaments industry. They camouflage themselves as hunters, marksmen and collectors, while doing everything in their power to increase sales of military-style weapons, silencers, bump stocks and extra-capacity magazines, all swelling the bottom line for weapons manufacturers. We pretend we don’t know this — year after year, body after body — three weeks into 2023 and already 36 mass shootings. Legislator after legislator sent to Washington to be bought or forced by money to do its bidding to remain in office.

Not knowing, discussing or acting to weaken the power of money in our elections is pretending to be stupid. How long will we bear the consequences?

Peter Coyote


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Michael, our dog Radar and I, walked to Cooks Beach. We knew the waves were too high and too vicious to do our standard 40-plus minute walk on the sand. As always, we first went to the overlook.

We saw a family standing on an enormous log. Both children enjoyed leaving the log as if to dare the waves. Without thinking I yelled at the parents, “Get your kids away from the water!” Of course, they were unable to hear me.

I planned to walk down to plead my case with them, but up came the sleeper wave: The log moved out from under them. The children were submerged, and the father was hit up to his shoulder, the mother up to her neck.

I hysterically called 911 and Michael shortly followed. The children’s heads came bouncing up. Then it looked like all four scrambled to safe ground.

We both ended up speaking to a 911 dispatcher, both telling the same story. Each dispatcher asked if the family was injured, and we both said we would have to walk down the path to find out. Michael and Radar walked past me and found the intact family first. I couldn't stop crying, and the mother came up, hugged me and apologized for the fright.

The older, 9-year-old boy in a wetsuit was smiling and bragging that he was able to swim. I believe he had the adventure of his life, especially because he said he was hit over his head by the log.

The wonderful fire and rescue people, as always, arrived in good time and offered to examine everybody, but the adults just wanted to get back to their rental house and into warm clothes.

Alice Combs 


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Yesterday there were two mass shootings in California, one near Los Angeles in Monterey Park, a small city made up of about 65% Asian-American sitizens, and, later in the day, at the small rural northern Californian community, Half Moon Bay. At least two are fighting for their lives in hospitals, while eithteen are now dead (“Shooting suspect dead,”).

The Half Moon Bay trigger-man is in police custody. How is it that the blood of all these mass shooting victims never extends to the halls of the US Congress? Anyone with elven half a brain knows national politica, especially when it comes to the control of either hduse of Congress, is controlled by money: the Almighty Dollar.

Asian-Americans have been especially hard hit and unfairly labeled by American right wing media companies such as FOX News spokesmen and not only the ex-President Trump, the nation’s most politically divisive politician in history.

Anyone who happens to read this letter, please contact your congressman or woman today. Ask for a national ban on weapons of war, assault guns. The next victims may be friends of yours.

Frank H. Baumgardner

Santa Rosa

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Calling all folks with gloves and trucks. Citizen action is needed to clean up the trash being dumped on rural roads. Once a place is targeted with old cars, refrigerators and unwanted furniture, it invites more dumping. Maybe folks don’t know that residential trash service offers pick up for big things like couches. We can’t wait for the county to clean up these areas; it’s up to us. Let’s clean up Sonoma County. Put trash bags in your car, and the next time you are out take some trash home.

Coleen McCharen


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To the Editor:

Recently I wrote a letter encouraging the community to seek Hospice care well before the final days of life. We can do so much more if we are involved sooner.

However, the Board of Directors of Hospice of Ukiah received a letter complaining that I didn’t refer people to Adventist Hospice as an alternative. I apologize that I didn’t mention the fact that I did exactly that. The response I received was that Adventist Hospice wasn’t taking patients at that time. Whether they were oversubscribed or, like us, had lost staff and had others out with illness, we do not know. Our waiting list is a result of a great community need coupled with these problems.

We work in tandem with the Medicare and Insurance Hospice and Palliative providers in our county. We take referrals from them and refer people to them when appropriate. We have maintained a friendly cooperation over the years. I apologize that this was not clear in my letter.

My single minded aim was to encourage people to seek Hospice care before the final days of life.

We can accept people with serious, ongoing, debilitating illness when a Medicare or other insurance funded Hospice may not be able to.

Since the letter writer did not provide a name or address, I hope this will help them to understand our wonderful and unique Hospice services.

Janet M. Denninger, Administrator

Hospice of Ukiah

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Sunday was game day and the hardest part for an avid sports fan was counting down the hours to kickoff, when I sat in my comfortable chair to watch the game with my nerf football nearby. Whenever we make a great play I bounce it up against the entertainment cabinet with a hippie whoop! Then try to catch it — yes I still have “good hands.”

It’s an anomaly: the 49ers have this great team but the worst, most inexperienced quarterback in the league, and odd because general manager John Lynch and “quarterback whisperer” Kyle Shanahan have built this amazing team through the draft, trades, and free agents but inexplicably dropped the ball with quarterbacks. (More drama and excitement will therefore ensue.)

I loved Jimmy G because he’s like me: not quite really good, inadequate for the task, an Everyman surrounded by skilled giants. I like Trey Lance because a running quarterback brings the added dimension of deception and excitement. I’m very pleasantly startled by the hero-for-the-moment Brock Purdy, an amazing story, the rookie that could, but really? A rookie taking his team to the Superbowl? Could it, would it happen? What a storyline!

There was nothing to do but wait, as the time would down five more hours, two more, fifteen minutes to game time. 

I haven’t had a drink in three months but if we win today I’m drinking a fucking beer, and another one on Superbowl Sunday. Why not?

Paul Modic


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To the Editor

Thank you for your recent testimony regarding the assassination of Martin Luther King. His leadership role in the civil rights movement, as you pointed out, was actually pretty well accepted and tolerated. King's erasure didn't become necessary until he crossed the line and began using his high profile speeches to describe the social costs of a corrupt and morally bankrupt system in which all policy, both domestic and foreign, is dictated solely by the needs and interests of capital. It was when he began challenging and calling for a dismantling of this system that the tolerance for his opinions ended, and with it his life. 

His history could provide a lesson for these whiny clowns today who like to portray themselves as the victims of some kind of “cancel culture.” So, you're no longer permitted to expose yourself on social media? Too bad. Some of your embarrassed sponsors have fled, taking their ad revenues with them? So sad. You may be a bit more pathetic than you once were, but silenced you are not. Dr. King was silenced. His words cost him his life. 

On a somewhat related note, if there's any more room on the tumbril, there's one more tired, inane phrase I'd like to toss onto the top of the heap before the cart is dispatched to the dump. I'd like to get rid of that favorite empty mantra of the pwogs, “speaking Truth to Power.” Those who wield power place no value on the truth. To them, it's a meaningless and worthless abstract, easily shed. If you think you're “speaking truth to power,” your time would probably be better spent teaching calculus to your goldfish. 

Michael DeLang

Coal Creek Canyon, Colorado

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I made it to this new joint. I've been here before back in 1998-99 and I wasn't thrilled. This time around it looks a little better if you can say that about any "joint." So far I'm out of solitary and everybody seems friendly. Maybe I won't have to worry about getting stabbed and going back to the hole.

I have about everything I need except TV and jogging shoes. I guess that will be a big project to order. I miss my sports fix. I was surprised that you too are what they called me years ago, a baseball enthusiast. I liked your photos of the baby bull, Orlando Zepeda. I guess he's still alive and goes by 'cha-cha' now. I almost cried when the Giants traded him and I met him later when he was with the Braves. Luke Easter was one of my favorite old-time first basemen too.

Did you ever google the Mendocino Beacon from 1965-70? You will see my column about Fort Bragg sports. I used my middle initial C. because my father, the Beacon's editor's name was David B. Giusti.

Being a child prodigy sports writer is about all I can write about!

I also liked your box score production of when you pitched. Somebody must have doubted you on that. "Thou shalt not bear false witness" is one of the Ten Commandments. I get real uptight when somebody calls me a liar. For that and for lying people still risk getting shot in Montana! It really irks me when Alan Crow lies to the paper. Alan claims he's all of a sudden dying of liver disease. That is so very unbelievable to me. Just before he wrote about that he had been for nearly one year my neighbor in lockdown in County jail. There was never any mention of liver disease. To my knowledge he never saw a doctor, nor even a nurse. And I know for sure he didn't get any meds. Alan Crow is what you and call a 3-D — pathetic, pathological, perpetual liar! As Christians we have to love him and pray for him.

David Giusti

San Luis Obispo

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U.S. debt is basically the foundation of the global financial system (that’s bigger than Kevin McCarthy’s congressional district). If the rest of the world comes to doubt its reliability, a major recession is likely, if not a shattering financial crisis. Is financial obstruction a course taught in business school? If so, the obstructionists all have MBAs (Meritless Business Advice).

Toby Cowan


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