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Letters (March 9, 2023)

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Last Thursday, needing to drive home on 253 from Ukiah, it was 4:30pm, getting dark and the clouds on the hills were roiling. We wanted to get home to Philo before the heavy snow closed the road (not driving a four-wheeler).

As we got further up into the hills the snow was, in fact, starting to get thicker. Old people’s blood pressure goes up. One of us in the car began a mental review of what resources were in the car. It got darker, snow got heavier, and then we came around one of the summit areas…

There were three huge Caltrans working vehicles and two medium sized ones, appropriately spaced and ready to go. Our heroes! Wyant’s local crew was on the job. Guys who knew the trickeries and treacheries of 253. Guys who were willing to work in the cold and the dark in a dangerous situation. Guys “Riding for the Brand.”

We hope you share our appreciation and gratitude for their work. It is hard to say enough thank yous. It is a comfort to know that such men are here and willing to work so competently and confidently. We are lucky to have them.

And then there was Highway 128… 

Thank you Big Time, Wyant’s crew.

Beverly & Marvin Dutra


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Dear Editor,

Regarding Brad Wiley’s article (At Susan’s Grave) this week in the AVA; The AVCSD has no authority or control over the Anderson Valley cemeteries. The Cemetery District has a Board to manage the cemeteries and they have a phone number posted at all cemeteries for inquiries.

Thank you, 

Val Hanelt

Chair, AVCSD

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Good afternoon city and county leaders. 

Let me start by thanking all of you for everything you do for your communities. | would like to share some of the Fort Bragg success and ask you to consider implementing a similar approach to your community.

Going back to 2016, the city of Fort Bragg was in a similar situation as most of you are in now. Perhaps we were worse off than others but collectively as a county, | believe we were all in trouble and struggling to get ahead. The issue and plan | am referring to is our approach to addressing the homeless, transient, mental health and substance abuse situation wreaking havoc on our downtown neighborhoods and our economy.

l am sure you are all aware of Robert Marbut and his assessment of our communities and the plan he provided to help us deal with this issue. The City of Fort Bragg took this valuable tool seriously and started implementing his guidelines into our policies. Although his approach was deemed severe by some, or tough love if you will, | am here to tell you it works and the best time to get started is yesterday. But today is not too late.

Attached you will find a power point by our Police Chief Neil Cervenka. The Chief has been a strategic partner in this endeavor and has taken the existing plan and made it his own. In order to succeed, this cannot be done alone and will take buy-in from all of your colleagues. You will notice in the presentation the number of homeless arrests has gone down considerably, but our overall arrests have doubled. When we started on this endeavor, our police department was committing 75% of their time to this demographic. Now that a Care Response Unit (CRU) has taken over an intermediary role, our police can focus on crimes and criminals, thus making our city safer. | could go on for days about the success we are having, but | will let you make your own assessments.

l am reaching out to all of you today because, although we are having success here in Fort Bragg, we will eventually reach a plateau in which we will essentially be working against our neighboring communities in Ukiah, Willits and the unincorporated County. As long as the issues in neighboring communities go unreconciled, we will never be able to fully solve our problems. The problems from other communities will continue to bleed over into our communities until we are all on the same page and sharing a similar approach. Neither | nor the City of Fort Bragg are naive enough to believe we will completely solve homelessness. However, we do aspire to achieve a manageable state where we are no longer chasing our tail. We are close. Imagine the good we can do if in all our communities homelessness is reduced to a manageable state and we can direct more help to those on the verge of being homeless.

Please reach out to either Chief Neil Cervenka or me with any questions or concerns. Together we can and should make a difference, but alone we are left to fight individual battles.


Bernie Norvell, Mayor 

Fort Bragg

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ED NOTE: According to Chief Cervenka’s presentation Fort Bragg’s Care Response Unit began as a crisis unit for the homeless and now includes mental health follow-up with connection to services such as addiction services, life mentors and placements in the Extreme Weather Shelter.

The CRU co-responds with police officers for homeless related calls and is staffed by two full-time women with backgrounds in education and behavioral sciences. “They are NOT social workers,” adds Cervenka. “They are committed to service and trained in crisis care.

From July to December 2021 there were 157 people arrested for homlessness related reasons which was 53% of total arrests. In the same period for the following year when the CRU was up and running there were 74 people arrested for similar reasons (18% of total arrests).

The CRU has handled 485 cases with 140 individuals served. Ten homeless individuals have been reconnected with family/friends. 22 with vehicles were simply provided with fuel to get home. Three were placed in in-patient rehab with eight more being assisted with rehab. 

The City’s “Extreme Weather Shelter” program covered 37 nights from November to this last January with 317 total room-days provided for 82 individuals. In that period there were less than 10 events requiring Police Officer involvement including check-in. Seven individuals from the Extreme Weather Shelter were moved to stable housing.

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ms notes: We’d like to think that Mayor Norvell’s optimistic appeal to Mendo’s other City and County leaders to adopt the obviously effective Fort Bragg Model will succeed. But given their history and their steadfast resistance to the Marbut report, we are not convinced that they’ll even read Norvell’s letter or Chief Cervenka’s statistics, much less adopt any of it. Of course, The Sheriff’s Crisis Respone Unit could be a good place to start, even though that obviously helpful program took Mendo more than fur years to implement since the time it was first funded by the Measure B Committee. So far we don’t see any evidence that the Continuum of Care bunch has any interest in building on it and none of their wordy reports praising themselves ever mention it. 

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Dear AVA,

Enclosed is my remittance for two more years of the mighty AVA, the little paper with a sling and a stone to topple the corporate Goliaths. As my memory seems to be beginning to fade, I was spurred into action by the red stamp reminding me time's up.

When I read sometime back about Mike Montana's passing, I remembered his kindness towards my family when we lived on the "Rancho" (Navarro) through the 90s. Mike and Lee would have us over to watch 49er games, as we had no TV. Often Fritz Ohm and David Meek would join us to cheer our team on. Mike also kept our cars in service for a modest fee. May his memory be a blessing.

Our proxy war with Russia and Ukraine has once again brought out the threat of nuclear war, reminding us all of the insanity of using weapons that can destroy life on Earth permanently.

I was 10 when I saw a movie at the Pacifica Library called 'The War Game,' a BBC documentary on what would happen if an Hiroshima sized bomb fell on England's Midlands. The effects were described starting 100 km (60 miles) from Ground Zero, moving in 10 km intervals toward Ground Zero. When they got to the part where people's eyes were melting down their face, I had to walk out, sickened knowing something so evil was on this earth.

That the nuclear "club" is large and growing and is run by mentally unstable "leaders" highlights exactly why nuclear weapons should be abolished.

Being a victim of childhood violence, I naturally became a pacifist, knowing in my bones that violence solves nothing besides determining who is a criminal.

I opted out of the death machine at age 17, declining to register for the draft in 1973 when the war was winding down. I read a pamphlet put out by The Resistance (an anti-draft group) that said only 1% of non-registrants faced prosecution, which seemed like the easy way out. And there was no computerized cross referencing like today, where when you renew your driver's license you must prove you are registered with the Selective Service.

After years of marching against wars and missiles and bombs we are no closer to my goal of a nuclear free world. Of course all my anti-nuclear, anti-war and anti-corporate posts on FascistBook never get any likes because I must make people uncomfortable. 

Ukraine is a good war because they're white. Yemen will be ignored despite thousands of extremely malnourished children on the edge of death.

The political party that represents most of America does not exist and may not be born until this ever-so slow dissolution of terminal stage capitalism gives up the ghost.

Meanwhile, an ignorant electorate can't figure out both parties are one party, like the mayor of Halloween Town in the movie The Nightmare Before Christmas: Smiley Face on one side of his head and a frowning face on the other. Adam Schiff (less) is only a leftist to the fascists on the right and the deluded. Guess what? What's good for General Dynamics and Raytheon and Boeing is not good for the country.

On the brighter side, I'm happy that the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival has survived, bringing many of my favorite artists to Boont. My days off have changed at work to Saturday and Sunday nights off so I'll be able to do Sunday at the Fair to see my favorites — the sheepdog trials, the parade and the rodeo finals.

Two years have passed since my second wife and childhood friend Melissa died in my arms and I am as lost as the day she left. The first year was total paralysis, last year somewhat less. Living without my partner and best friend hurts, and I can see why many long-time couples pass away in short order once one of them "flies west" as the aviators say.

I need to follow your exercise regime more closely as nothing (almost) would make me more happy than to see that corporate harlot Babylon The Great fall and crash. I've got a feeling it will take a while.

One love and aloha to my Vallley friends.

A luta continua! The struggle continues!

Mark Jackson


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We who live in California are overtaxed as we all know. Gas taxes, sales taxes, you think of it and it’s taxed! What we need is a federal tax deduction for living here, like a child tax credit. We should get one for just being Californians. Let’s see our senators get that going. Good God, give us a break.

James Barrett


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Social Security stops taxing income at $160,200 a year. No one pays Social Security taxes above that amount, no matter how much they earn.

Republicans held the majority in the House and Senate on multiple occasions, including from 2016-2018 when there was also a Republican president. They did nothing to solve the Social Security/Medicare insolvency debacle, which both parties have known about for decades, and worse, they passed a $1 trillion tax cut benefiting large corporations and billionaires who historically have never paid their fair share of taxes. Stop blaming Joe Biden. The solution George Fowler claims Republicans are offering is to end both programs, either by sunsetting them or privatizing them.

It’s time to make the ultrawealthy and corporations pay their fair share of taxes. No matter how many times Republicans say it, there is no such thing as trickle down. Corporate profits go straight to CEOs and shareholders, not the employees who make businesses function and thrive. Hardworking, taxpaying citizens should be guaranteed the Social Security and Medicare benefits they’ve earned and are entitled to. If that means taxing billionaires, so be it.

Laura Gross


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Bret Stephens’ Feb. 23 column in the Press Democrat on the effectiveness of wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID brings to mind the line attributed to Mark Twain: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.” (“Pandemic mask mandates accomplished nothing.”).

The vigor with which Stephens embraces the Cochrane report that masks were ineffective suggests that he is not a big fan of masks. But I would refer readers to a report by the International Fact Checking Network that finds the Cochrane conclusion “misleading” and notes that “a growing body of evidence … suggests that consistent mask wearing can effectively reduce the spread of respiratory viruses.”

A collection of poorly designed studies (i.e., the Chochrane report) does not result in a high-quality conclusion. Stephens needs to do his homework a bit better or quit passing on his biases as fact.

Dr. Richard Evans


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As a member of the Mendocino Coast Health Care District Board of Directors, I voted to affiliate the District with Adventist Health. We all had high hopes that health care would improve under their management. I cannot say that it has. 

I think we can all agree that the doctors, nurses, PAs, and other providers are all qualified and provide good care. They are not the problem, except in a few cases that people have told me about. 

Problems abound instead in non-medical areas. 

The new software system is unreliable as I can attest personally. If you get a referral, make sure you get a written copy because digital copies are prone to disappear as I and others have learned the hard way.

Another problem is scheduling and rescheduling appointments. The last straw for me was learning my annual checkup would be four months after I called. At which time I would ask for a referral for a colonoscopy that would perhaps be four months out as well. A problem not limited to just me.

And I strongly disapprove of how appointments are rescheduled. If you arrive to your appointment and discover the provider is out sick or on personal leave or whatever, you go to back of the line, another multi month wait. Any company with good customer service would make that person a priority even if it means working weekends. This makes the whole system unreliable.

So, I have made the decision to seek healthcare elsewhere. Just as many already do. I am interested in suggestions on where to go. And I don't need to hear from people who don't very much like me. They already told me where to go! lol

John Redding


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The feel-good story of the week has the Sonoma County Winegrowers and Sonoma County Grape Growers Foundation rewarding vineyard workers for their hard work. Certainly, they are folks deserving of such honors. But maybe The Press Democrat could dig a little deeper.

Did the vineyard employee of the year make enough to buy a house in Sonoma County? Send his kids to college? Can he and his partner afford to retire here or anywhere? How are his co-workers fairing economically? Do they have protection from smoke during wildfires?

The wine culture of the North Bay is a wonderful thing, but can it withstand the light of day? Are we afraid to look under the rug?

Michael Gillogly

Santa Rosa

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Re: Tommy Wayne Kramer’s ‘Death By Bureaucracy’

Thank you for the succinct piece. In addition to the hateful Mendo Lib Government, there’s the grower/seller malfeasance: Shortly into the ‘Pandemic,’ my Mendo Growers of some years sold a whole bunch of fire-tainted weed, overbred as well. The last smash stash I got from them was ‘Donkey Butter:’ So superb I wrote a song about it! 


David Svehla

San Francisco

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As a retired school principal, let me share that one of my worst nightmares tragically occurred at Montgomery High on Wednesday (Santa Rosa Press Democrat, ‘16-year-old slain in classroom stabbing,’ Thursday). And while many will opine that the school should have had better security, the school should have had better discipline, the school should employ more counselors, we must understand that preventive measures must be shared by all of us.

When parents ensure their children leave for school from a loving home; when parents are in touch with their kids’ successes and concerns — academic and otherwise; when neighbors know one another and who’s child belongs to whom; when communities join hands to model communication, cooperation, connection and consequence; then, in concert with the efforts of educators, we can better expect each of our kids to return home each day.

But the schools cannot do it on their own.

Sorrowfully, from here in Cloverdale, I’m pulling for the folks at Montgomery and the surrounding community.

Dave Delgado


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To The Editor,

The California Communist Manifesto.

1. There shall be no private property except for elite party members.

2. Firearms will not be allowed except for approved police organizations. 

3. Taxation will always expand through new, newer and higher taxes.

4. The growth of the party through government roles, taxes, fees, fines etc. shall not be infringed.

5. The old economy will be replaced by government jobs financed by inflation, taxes, fees and fines, paid for by the old economy.

6. The finances of elite party members will not be questioned

7. New courthouse and prisons will be the symbols of unity and shall be given priority.

8 There shall be no negative press regarding the government of the party.

9. All workers will belong to a party-approved union.

10. All water is the property of the state.

11. All administration at public school will be party members; employees who do not adhere to party ethics will be expunged.

Please copy this Democratic Manifesto and place it in a public place. Ignorance is no excuse to break the law.

‘Comrade’ Tom Madden


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