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Letters (March 16, 2023)

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On the way to Berkeley to hear Strauss’s Alpine Symphony with 150 musicians on stage in the Vienna Philharmonic Tuesday night and those gazillion horns and busy percussionists. This was programmed after the first all-string piece of Schoenberg’s ‘Transfigured Night.’ I love the late romantics and the Alpine Symphony is one of my most beloved pieces. I listen to it on CD a lot when I’m working in the studio. It’s expensive to put on and rare to hear. Strauss really brings you right into the experience of climbing a mountain in the Alps with thunderstorm and all. The audience seemed to be as enthralled as I was. But after three enthusiastic curtain calls we were forced to sit through an encore “mit schlag” a waltz probably by the other Strauss. So the fabulous Alpine landscape we’d been traveling through was deleted in an instant. I believe we may have been clapping not just for the charm of the fabulous string section, which was featured in the Schoenberg, but Strauss’s achievement. Do they take us Californians for the dumb bunnies they must think we are?

Virginia Sharkey


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This divisiveness needs to stop. The strong-arm tactics of “name changers” to manipulate and control need to stop. Contrary to their inference that the essay contest is tied in with Fort Bragg schools, the School District announced emphatically that it has no connection to the contest. Now, there is talk of boycotting businesses on Redwood Avenue. This is unacceptable. It needs to stop.

Our personal lives are “tossed salads” of experiences and perspectives. This country is a conglomerate of millions of those unique lives: grief and celebration, trauma and healing.

Plot Twist: Focus and celebrate the small community of Fort Bragg’s historically diverse cultural legacies: Pomo and Coastal Yuki, and the immigrants searching for better lives for their families including Italian, Finn, Chinese, Portuguese, Croatian, and Latinx.

Julie Parker

Fort Bragg

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Laytonville Healthy Start really stepped up for Mendo and Humbolt residents when Highway 101 was shut and emergency disaster relief from the county failed to respond. 

I’m sure a lot of people would like to see some funding go to that program to help at least make the community service whole again, even if we can’t compensate the volunteers themselves somehow, beyond recognition of their completely selfless efforts. Ted Williams: Is the county's emergency disaster equipment (like the locked trailer at Healthy Start Laytonville) tied to the state's disaster declaration? Or does authorization lay within the county officials? I know you aren’t the northern county Supe. You are however (imo) the most responsive representative in decades and this event struck me as a big stumble for our emergency response.

Elika Freeman


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Supervisor Ted Williams: The county does not open warming centers, only evacuation centers. The trailer has supplies for declared evacuations. Nonprofits run warming centers and are supposed to be able to maintain for 72 hours. Protocol allows local fire departments to request evacuation from the County's Office of Emergency Services. This did not happen. Rather, at 8:30pm, a request came, with roads already closed, not from the fire department, to open the container for warming supplies. Office of Emergency Services, Department of Transportation and Mendocino County Sheriff's Office are spread thin in equipment and personnel. By all means, if people are trapped and need out, that's a top priority and local government will act. Requests for food and supply delivery likely cannot be met with available resources. With coordination between local and state, during the current snow storm, CalFire has been distributing hay by helicopter.

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Marianne McGee: I am so shocked by Ted’s bureaucratic bs reply regarding the absolute emergency that occurred in Laytonville !!

If he and his family were stuck in a town without many resources , would he want to stay in his car overnight? And there was a trailer on the property with resources that county didn’t allow to be opened?

Thankfully people made sacrifices to help these stranded people!! They deserve access to those resources in the future without following bureaucratic bs to access in an emergency!

Ted, maybe you should request Caltrans to air drop cots, blankets and food into Laytonville ! After all, you referenced them dropping hay!!

Yet another disappointment!

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Like you, I’m happy at the idea of slowing down traffic through Boonville. But I am surprised that roundabouts were approved by the county without first being reported in local media, and with no public input (that I know of). From the sound of it, the access road to my small neighborhood might be part of a roundabout at Lambert Lane that presumably would include the Boonville Hotel parking access, and Farrer Ln. across the street. It seems it might also have some inpact on the Buckhorn and the ice cream store. Whenever I have to use one of the roundabouts that have appeared in the county in recent years I curse to myself and clench my fingers on the steering wheel. I don’t like them. Another concern is the mention of street lighting associated with the roundabouts. How much new lighting will there be, and will it be shielded to prevent light pollution in surrounding neighborhoods? It doesn’t take much in the way of low clouds or fog to reflect light from existing downtown street lights already.

Brian Wood


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Gasoline costs about $1 more even after accounting for California’s taxes and summer blend. Natural gas costs about 25% more than a few months back. Gasoline prices in Petaluma are 25 cents to 50 cents higher than other Bay Area cities.

California gas price have for years had about a 60-cent mystery price difference compared to other states. The state has supposedly been investigating with each price spike to no avail.

Commodity oil prices have been at midrange for months, well below highs. Natural gas prices are down on the commodities market. Gasoline in Butte County was selling recently for $3.85 a gallon vs. $5.05 in Petaluma. No, it’s not the cost to rent station property alone.

What’s wrong with this picture at the federal, state and local level?

Monopolies, price fixing and collusion. Big oil, utilities and local dealers fund our politicians for reelection and pay lobbyist to ensure their voices are heard.

We keep electing these same politicians. It’s on us, sadly.

David Lehman


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The billboard in Berkeley that recently stated:


Which I found to be an odd statement being that the leading pro-Israel Zionist Scholar in the West by the name of Bernard Lewis has clearly stated as much that criticism of the State of Israel IS NOT ANTI-SEMITISM and to conflate it as such is anti-intellectual and serves no purpose. I am paraphrasing of course. Now that was in a book of his from 20 or more years ago so these rightwing politics shift of course and clearly a ‘purpose’ for ridiculous statements has been found.

As has been reported, some monkey wrenchers changed the first billboard to read



The new billboard just went up 30 minutes ago stating,


I literally put my hand on my face. Who do they let write this stuff?

The Jews, who by my witness possess some of the sharpest minds, wits and intellects that history has produced clearly have some dullards in their mix.

I find it fascinating that in 2023 late capitalist left coast we find this rigorous ‘debate’ being had on a Billboard. Absolutely fascinating!!! I just genuinely wish the right wingers chose some more intelligent things to say.

Nate Collins


PS. RE; Arabs, Bedouins, Nomads…. Once I saw the term “NOMAD” I saw just another of the million striking parallels between Arabs and Jews or Muslims and Jews. They are nearly an identical people in so many regards right down to reading the Jewish Talmud and the Sunnah of the Prophet which have many identical concepts and teachings that are peppered throughout both traditions. The parallels and similarities are fascinating and striking when you dig a little. Calling Mohammed a Jewish Prophet who was rejected by the Jews and proceeded to make a mass amount of non-jews follow a very Jewish like tradition is not a stretch of the imagination.

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It is truly horrifying to read about the pair of individuals who were arrested in Lakeport with possession of large amounts fentanyl, methamphetamine and tear gas (“Police: Pair had enough fentanyl to kill 18,000,” March 1).

One suspect, James Biocca Jr., had six prior felony convictions. In fact, he had been arrested as recently as three weeks earlier in possession of tremendous amounts of fentanyl and meth. For his February arrest, he spent one night in jail and was released on bond the next day. It’s awfully hard to not feel cynical when there seems to be no effort to keep such dangerous individuals off the street.

We have giant billboards on Highway 101 warning the public about the dangers associated with fentanyl in Sonoma County. Yet this is how we handle individuals who we know are trying to sell it.

Laurie Trainor

Santa Rosa

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To the Editor:

Police seem to be in the news a lot, nationally and locally. Seem to have a problem with police attitude. I’ve been told that part of the problem is their training, which seems more military than community/civilian oriented. No female officers have been accused of sexual abuse.

And why is our DA so silent? Goodness knows we hear nothing from his office. I remember Norm Vroman and how transparent his office was. Why are policemen not being charged and punished? Let’s ask the DA.

Raleigh Page-Russell


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The fatal stabbing at Montgomery High School is a tragedy for all involved and stems from systemic failures to come together and address school violence. The Press Democrat reports that 97 calls for police assistance were received from Montgomery High in 2022, and 945 calls from all other Santa Rosa schools.

Harley Rodgers, a Montgomery student, passionately questioned Santa Rosa Police Chief John Cregan as to why it took a death for officials to show up. Cregan diverted the question by blaming the Santa Rosa school board for voting to remove campus-based school resource officers.

Anna Trunnell, the Santa Rosa school superintendent, said violence prevention included “regular talks” about safety and “caring for each other on campus.” School resource officers and caring for each other cannot take the place of a countywide violence prevention protocol based on best practices and robust community involvement.

Such a plan needs school officials, teachers, the police, parents, counselors, local government and others to work together to address this scourge of violence. How many more school deaths will we allow before we take action?

Donna Gaetano

Santa Rosa

PS. speaking about the stabbing death at Montgomery High School, also asked this question: "Such a plan needs school officials, teachers, the police, parents, counselors, local government and others to work together to address this scourge of violence. How many more school deaths will we allow before we take action?" Well, replied an on-line commenter, the fault with this scourge of violence starts with the parents. Too many parents refuse to discipline their children when issues arise at school. The common response is that their perfect child is never to blame. Then retaliation, mental and physical assaults, psychological damage, etc. escalates. All because parents refuse to be accountable for their childrens' behaviors. We saw that with the parents of the 16 year olds, who publicly stated their children would never hurt anyone. Well, video footage and eye witness accounts show that is not true. Not to mention that the parents of the 16 year olds appear to have arrest records in Sonoma County as well. Where does the real blame fall for children acting out in violence? Squarely on the shoulders of incompetent parents.

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No doubt that our local economy is in shambles. It’s been one resource extraction or manipulation after another: otters, whales, fisheries, timber, grapes and weed. Luckily a lot of the natural beauty has been preserved or conserved (like a good jam) so that the tourists and big city money continues to flow through Mendoland.

I’m now seeing many of the mom-and-pop types going back to work at regular jobs. Mostly in our education sector, which is wonderfully in need of staff.

But many of the so-called “mom-and-pop” weed folks are not your average struggling local folks. They are transplant trust-funders from Argentina and Chicago who have multiple permits and Hannah Nelson in their back pockets. These are the same folks who probably already made it to the permit system finish line cuz they were able to grease the wheels.

It seemed to me that it was very convenient to blame our your problems on the critically inept Mendo County weed government officials when the price of black market ganja was still relatively high. Now that the price (black and white market) is setllung into a more realistic long-term value, then it’s just pathetic and sad to throw all the blame on Nevedal and her band of chronic document misplacers. It’s like all the Mendo liberals blaming their problems on Trump.

Kirk Vodopals


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Agreed, Kirk Vodopals. Ever since legalization in 2017, cannabis has been a joke. A sick joke. Nothing but smoke and mirrors. Con artists everywhere. Everyone pretending to be an “expert.” Every con artist pitching for investors. 

Also, carpetbaggers and scallywags from outside the Mendocino County, like the ones at Flow Kana, looking to make our local farmers into sharecroppers in a tenant farming system.

Unfortunately, the casualties are real. So many of Mendocino County's small farmers have gone out of business. Most were simply supporting their families. Even in the best of times, most weren't rich. Most were just subsistence farmers just scrapping by.

The Emerald Triangle is the “Appalachia of the West.” Our poverty statistics are shocking. One in two residents qualify for Food Stamps. One in four qualify for Medi-Cal.

Our fisheries are fished out. Our forests are clear-cut. We have no manufacturing. We have no tech. We have no research, no science. We have no pear orchards anymore, no walnuts either -- no agriculture -- except for wine.

We have no railroad. Our water is exported to Sonoma County.

You take away cannabis and we have nothing. Nothing except tourism, government employment, and healthcare.

And that, my friend, is not a diversified economy.

Tourism, government, and healthcare? Hell, we make nothing!

We just spend money we don't have!

John Sakowicz


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