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Letters (March 23, 2023)

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Caltrans is surveying in town to create 3D imaging of the Boonville corridor. The Caltrans’ project name is the Boonville CAPM (0K000): a paving project all along Highway 128 in Mendocino County. Caltrans uses the concept of “Complete Streets” – following a description taken from Caltrans website. A “complete street” provides mobility for people of all ages and abilities, particularly those who are walking, biking, using assistive mobility devices, and riding transit. Complete streets offer several benefits, including enhancing safety and creating more sustainable transportation options to decrease dependence on driving and improving public health by encouraging active transportation like walking and biking.

Alexis Kelso of the Caltrans Advanced Planning Department also attached an illustration of what a “parking protected bikeway” looks like. “The goal is to slow traffic by having parked vehicles closer to the traveled way (which creates a visual friction) and for cycling to be more comfortable by being farther away from moving vehicles. I want to emphasize that these plans are very preliminary and are a point for starting conversation with the Boonville community on what the sidewalks, bikeways, and parking should look like through town.”

Alexis continues, “Of course, the timing of all this as it relates to the water/sewer project needs to be discussed further, which I’ve let the Advanced Planning team know.”

Alexis would like to set up a community meeting at some point to get feedback. We developed a Boonville Beautification Committee last spring when studying installing benches. It was finally decided that the Clean California grant funding the benches was better used for the Skatepark at the Community Park by the Clinic and consider benches and other beautification features when the actual sidewalks go in. But the Beautification Committee (residents from throughout AV and very welcoming to anyone who would like to get involved) will start meeting again to consider the Caltrans plans. 

Caltrans would also like to know if there are eating establishments in Boonville that would like Parklets. 

Developing plans now will save a great deal of time later as it takes years to do design and funding. We need to coordinate our infrastructure projects with Caltrans as the trenching and installation [for the planned municipal water and septic systemsd] is in Caltrans easements. PG&E is also aware that we are planning installation of water and sewer. We are hoping that undergrounding will all occur in the ‘tear it up and then put it back together’ stage.

Valerie Hanelt, Chair

AV Community Services District Board

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I wanted to give a public THANK YOU to the crews from PG&E and AT&T who responded quickly to the multitude of downed trees on Mountain View Road outside of Boonville after the big snowfall of February 2023. It was impressive how the Faulkner Park area went from a disaster area with broken poles, wires down, and trees everywhere to near normalcy in a few days. Another big THANK YOU to WT and his County crew who were up there that first weekend trying to get local traffic in and out. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, I want to acknowledge all the locals who chipped away at the obstacles mother nature g]had given n us. There was an element of comradery which reminded me of how lucky I am to live in this community.

Jeff Pugh


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Here is the entirety of Supervisor Williams post [re: possible road tax],

“Mendocino County road crews are spread thin. They currently are working 12-hour days to clear down trees on Usal Rd in the Whale Gulch school area to make the road wide enough to allow emergency vehicles and parents access to the school.

Fort Bragg crews assisted with snow removal in the Bell Springs and Spy Rock area on 1960s dozers.

Boonville and Point Arena crews continue to open roads and will be starting on Fish Rock Rd with assistance from CAL Fire inmate crews next Monday.

With the heavy rains and strong winds forecast for tomorrow, crews will once again be busy opening culverts and dealing with down trees. Potholes, while a nuisance (and in my view, a safety hazard) remedy will have to wait until crews have a chance to come up for air.

Our current Department of Transportation situation is not sustainable. It’s time to fund the basic services that the public expects. Fire, roads, and law enforcement. Every county resident uses a county road to get to work, school, medical appointments and other life necessities each day and expects maintenance on their road.

With the reduced crew size the department cannot provide the services the public expects. Crews will make every effort to fill the worst of the worst potholes as soon as possible.

The needed course correction can only come through the leadership of county Supervisors. The annual budget process is approaching. I hope you’ll be part of the conversation and guide us in balancing competing priorities.”

It appears to me that the Supervisor [Williams] is asking the community to get involved in the budget process and help prioritize where you want your tax dollars spent,( fire, road and law enforcement) no mention of adding taxes. I’m sure the Supervisor is aware he cannot just add a tax without a vote from the taxpayers.

Bernie Norvell, Mayor

Fort Bragg

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Mark Scaramella Replies:

Reminder: Measure AJ was passed by a wide majority back in 2016. It was an “Advisory Measure” which accompanied Measure AI to help sell the County’s Pot permit/tax program which imposed the Cannabis Business Tax. Voters were told that if Mendocino County adopted the accompanying Cannabis Business Tax Measure the County “should use a majority of that revenue for funding enforcement of marijuana regulations, enhanced mental health services, repair of county roads, and increase fire and emergency medical services.”

Guess how much of those pot tax revenues (calculated by the County to be over $20 million in the last six years) were allocated to mental health services, county roads or fire and emergency services. (Hint: $0.)

The one time Supervisor Haschak suggested honoring the will of the voters, Williams quickly shot it down by suggesting that the County pretend that business as usual amounted to compliance, His colleagues, including Haschack, quickly agreed.

Now Williams wants to ask the voters to pass another road tax? Maybe the Board should honor that advisory vote first. 

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Bringing back the cannabis black market in Mendocino County.

Back to the good old days!

I guess the letter to the editor I wrote and you published back when Phase 3 was being considered entitled Impoverishing the Residents of Mendocino was prescient.

Sherif Kendall will be a busy man!

Best regards

Bill Claus


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This past month I paid $106 for natural gas and $65 for electricity. This is in Laramie, Wyoming, where the average daily high and low temperature are 33 and 14 degrees. My 1,000-square-foot, 1879-built house leaks air like a sieve, and my undersized furnace works almost nonstop. Santa Rosa’s average high and low are 60 and 39 for the same time frame. A friend’s 1,200-square-foot home in Montgomery Village is $550 for gas and electricity.

I’ve been contemplating a move back to Northern California but have put those plans on hold as I compare what my cost of living would be, even in Lake County, compared to staying put and snowbirding. Energy cost is a major concern as I live on a relatively comfortable fixed income.

PG&E is owned by shareholders and is traded on the New York Stock Exchange. There is a layer in the corporation that sucks money away from service provision and infrastructure maintenance because it is privately held. That is just crazy. Everyone who uses gas and electricity provided by PG&E needs to be a shareholder and the endless search to maximize profits ended.

Jeffrey J. Olson

Laramie, Wyoming

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The Social Security Act passed overwhelmingly despite furious opposition from the then-weakened Republican Party. My father opened the first Social Security office in northwest Iowa in 1937. He ran that district for 37 years with only a short break for World War II service.

One thing was as consistent as snow in Iowa: Republican and conservative opposition to Social Security. In the beginning, among his tasks was driving to small towns to introduce the program. His car was egged; he was heckled. Later, Paul Harvey announced on his syndicated radio and newspaper forums that Social Security was bankrupt, and soon you’d not get your check.

Recently, more of the same, veiled in free market rhetoric (George W. Bush’s private savings plan and most recently Sen. Rick Scott’s “sunset” plan for the legislation).

Americans over 55 have an average $89,000 in retirement savings. Only 31% have pensions. My father always said that the people who should be most grateful for Social Security are the young. Without it, their aged, broke parents would be sleeping on their couches, as before.

Mark Swedlund


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Friends and colleagues,

The documentary film I've been researching, producing and directing for the past three years debuts two weeks from today.

It's called The Movement and the “Madman” and will air on Tuesday, March 28, at 9pm (8pm Central) on the PBS series ‘American Experience.’

Here's the :30 sec. teaser:

Best wishes,

Stephen Talbot, Producer & Director, The Movement and the "Madman"

P.S. My great thanks to Editor Stephanie Mechura and Executive Producer Robert Levering, as well as archival researcher Blanche Chase and music composer Osei Essed. Mixed at Skywalker Sound. Online at ZAP Zoetrope Aubry Productions.

Generously supported by the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation.

As well as the Berkeley Film Foundation. And a long list of donors.

from American Experience:

The Movement and the ‘Madman’ shows how two antiwar protests in the fall of 1969, the largest the country had ever seen, pressured President Nixon to cancel what he called his ‘madman’ plans for a massive escalation of the U.S. war in Vietnam, including a threat to use nuclear weapons. At the time, protestors had no idea how influential they could be and how many lives they may have saved.

Told through remarkable archival footage and firsthand accounts from movement leaders, Nixon administration officials, historians, and others, the film explores how the leaders of the antiwar movement mobilized disparate groups from coast to coast to create two massive protests that changed history.

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About two months ago, on Saturday night, Jan. 21 at 10:22PM Huu Can Tran, 72, entered the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, CA. He pulled the trigger of a hand-held semi-automatic pistol with a magazine containing 40 additional rounds. Within 4 minutes over twenty persons died; same number were wounded. The first-responding police officers reported seeing “carnage.” It was a scene of bloody chaos which has almost become so common the public is unfazed that another terrible scene of mass shooting has taken place.

This was at a place of comfort, joy and relaxation where mostly Asian-American citizens learned how to dance and to reunite with others; just seeking a place to have fun and perhaps to learn a different set of steps. A place to relax and to get away from the daily grind, or of family or business obligations.

Today President Joe Biden is registering some real condolences to widows, widowers, and other still-greiving California resident family members who suffer forever from this unexpected tragedy. Nobody needs to pack a murderous weapon with forty rounds.

Frank H. Baumgardner, III

Santa Rosa

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File under “FUBAR (F--ked/Fouled Up Beyond All Repair/Recognition) at the MCD (Mendocino Cannabis Department).”

Huge accounting error ($3.2 million) and budget overage (more than $662,000).

Adding insult to injury, the accounting error was not voluntarily disclosed to the County CEO. Local cannabis attorney Hannah Nelson only heard about it in testimony given in Sacramento.

These accounting errors and budget overages are in addition to the gross mismanagement of the permit process (county approval rate of 1.4 % compared to 49% statewide). 

Listen to the story at KZYX (6 min. 28 sec.)

KZYX - Homepage

Nothing except excuses by MCD Director, Kristin Nevedal. The Board needs to terminate her.

John Sakowicz


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John Sakowicz,

After reading the report on this fiasco, I am flabbergasted that the head of the Cannabis Dept. still has her job. She made an error to the tune of $3.2 million, blew a hole in the County's budget and kept quiet about it. Grade school level work but the Supervisors will still give her an A because, you know, nice-guy collaboration and all that.

What else stood out in the reporting is that the BOS, whose focus makes me think of ADHD, kept redirecting staff to new tasks, apparently none of which are revenue generating. Here is the relevant conversation that includes the only honest Supervisor on that underperforming Board:

“So there's a number of things that we could not have planned for in this budget because we don't have a crystal ball and we didn't know it would be the will of this Board to ask us to take on additional tasks that would push back revenue-generating tasks,” she concluded. “Well, it seems like it's the Board's fault, then,” Haschak replied.

Uh, yeah.

John Redding


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Mendocino County Supervisor Ted Williams fired this email into a crowd of unsuspecting people:

"Our current Department of Transportation situation is not sustainable. It’s time to fund the basic services that the public expects. Fire, roads, and law enforcement. Every county resident uses a county road to get to work, school, medical appointments and other life necessities each day and expects maintenance on their road."

Sounds like he is grooming us for another tax hike.

Recall that trusting voters waaaay back in November approved the continuation of an expiring sales tax added to support libraries and fire districts. And that the County balanced its budget last year by redirecting Covid relief money, all $16 million of it, from small businesses for whom it was intended, into the General Fund.

Not good enough says Ted! If you want the County to provide you with basic services for which you are already paying, he says we need to cough up some more money. Of course, they will be super careful with this money once they get their books in order.

Just like tech firms are looking for a bailout to cover their losses when SVB went belly up, Mr. Williams is looking for you to bail out the County to compensate for their ongoing financial mismanagement.

John Redding


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The malignant need for leaders. One thing that really bugs me besides all the politically correct crap is the way people call their representatives and officials “leaders,” like they do in China. You know, like Mao Zedong is the Great Leader. 

People who need leaders are followers. It’s too bad Americans now seem to need “leaders” not representatives. This is of course what happened in Germany with the great leader Adolf Hitler. 

People degenerate to need leaders because they are sick with weakness. Leaders like Jim Jones, Charles Manson, Hitler, Idi Amin, David Koresh and countless others. These leaders go insane with the power that weak, empty people give to them. 

It is sad to see this pattern taking root in America, a land that used to value freedom. This weakness won’t allow justice. that is why serial killers and child killers who sit in jail watching tv, costing us $10,000 per day, won’t be property executed. What idiots. We’re trying to use drugs for executions. There are many proper forms of execution: electric chair, firing squad, hanging, etc. The families should have the option of pulling the switch. But with the death grip of weakness on this state, justice won’t happen. California resembles a giant People’s Temple.

Tom Madden


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The latest act of violence at a school is a tragedy and should have never happened. I doubt that we will ever get to the cause of it. Break it down a bit. The 15-year-old stabber had a knife. He was probably told at freshman orientation that weapons aren’t allowed on school grounds. So, that’s on him. Two older assailants going into a classroom to beat on him; that’s on them. What caused them to do that? Did that precipitate the fatal response? Did the 15-year-old fear for his life and consider the knife attack his only recourse? 

Several years ago, the Santa Rosa school district removed school resource officers from the schools. You could probably say that the stabbing is on them. Maybe.

Some will lionize the teen who died or his partner. Some will see the 15-year-old as right to defend himself. In my eyes, no one is right, no one is a hero. All I see are three who made some very bad decisions. One paid for his by being killed. The others will have to live with their decisions for the rest of their lives. How sad.

Ronald Crowley


ED NOTE: So, by this logic, the 15-year-old simply should have accepted his beating by two larger boys. Great school management at Montgomery where kids carry weapons to defend themselves against bullies, and bullies feel free to bust in on a class in session to attack another student. If the national educational system was capable of reform, breaking factory schools into much smaller edu-units would be a priority.

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Protest songs; lack thereof

I am just now reading your OTR discussing the current lack of protest songs as compared to the 60’s and 70’s; while I agree with much of your analysis (active Vietnam war ongoing military draft etc.) I would if I be allowed, I’d add a couple of other thoughts; ; to make myself sound more lofty; knowledgeable and official; Lets call this the “Skyhawk Analysis”: the predatory; war mongering corporate state has simply learned how to better disguise itself, while continuing to inflict their profitable planetary predations; by embracing identity politics; Getting Obama into office was a stroke of pure evil genius; he and his evil sidekick Hillary Clinton HRC; actually accelerated the Bush wars; but since they had embraced identity politics critics were just wrote off as racist or sexist and Obama tried to accelerate the Free Trade; Neo liberal policies; that would have decimated what remained of the working class; the people that were in HRC’s rhetoric nothing but a “basket of deplorables.” Hell we even watched as the entire national Dem. Party pivoted to framing G.Bush, Colin Powell; Condy Rice; etc. as “honorable Republicans"

While America was patting itself on its collective back believing in how far it had come with race relations. Yet, if the Obama Trans Pacific Partnership a.k.a. the TPP had gone through the corporate state would have been given the keys to everything; one reason we should be glad that the horrific cartoonish character Donald Trump was elected; since he trashed that agreement as soon as he took office; since then the substitution of identity politics for real ones continues unabated, for ex. We aren’t supposed to criticize the indolence and incompetence of Mayor Pete because he’s gay; the same with VP Harris; she’s s bi racial woman; they got a two-fer on that one; and any logical analysis of Biden’s mental incompetence is met with accusations of being an ableist; since he has always struggled to overcome his stuttering; their ability to divert our attention is endless; And while I do embrace the concept of gender Fluidity; while everyone is trying to figure out what pronoun to use for themselves, many people don’t notice the hand in their pockets taking their money and sending it to Big Pharma; Weapons Manufacturers and Big oil.

And I would also include a critique of Big Tech in all this, that has ensnared our young generation with endless technological distractions; Social media in the place of real time human interaction; and I believe this is particularly harmful to our young men; just at the age biology has designed them to face real, actual challenges to mature into men; they can now sit in their living rooms being challenged by video games; and who needs to face the challenge of relating to a real girl ; when every fantasy girl you could ever imagine is just a keyboard click away?

And corporate media everything from Fox, MSDNC, and Corporate News Nonsense, is designed to give every demographic a media silo, from which to feel morally and intellectually superior to “other” groups

Yes we are in poor shape; I could say more. But I won’t: I sincerely hope the “Skyhawk Analysis” does not provoke anyone to excessive despair; it’s just that I do believe we can only fight the enemy, if they are recognized as such; and this clever predatory enemy has done a magnificent job of hiding itself; I also do not believe we should succumb to self-blame; rather forgiveness and compassion in the face of the position we find ourselves in; I will close this rambling screed with the words of the late great poet Gil Scott Heron; who put his poems to music with Jazz and Blues; his poem “Winter in America” is prescient here;

It's winter in America

And all of the healers have been killed or betrayed, yeah

But the people know, the people know

It's winter, Lord knows

It's winter in America

And ain't nobody fighting

’Cause nobody knows what to save

Save your soul

From winter in America

Chris Skyhawk

Fort Bragg

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To the Editor

My medical practice was swallowed up by Adventist Health six years ago. This “work of art” now hangs in the waiting room. 


Michael Turner, MD

Fort Bragg

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To the Editor:

Have you ever made 1,000 phone calls to get an appointment for anything? And still not gotten an appointment? I have.

HEAP is the Home Energy Assistance Program that redirects funds from PG&E to low-income residents to help them with their energy bills. It's a great program that has helped me out tremendously for 20 years.

But to get the benefits you have to spend hours in a torture chamber. You see, the way you get the benefits is after the first of the year, to get the lump sum payment for the new year, you have to call them on a Monday morning starting at 9 o'clock, competing with other low-income people all calling at the same time, to get one of the appointments that are available for that week.

However, there are too many people using this system and it has broken down. So far this year, every Monday morning, I've awakened early and started making the calls at 9:00. Its always busy so I hit redial... over and over again, stopping only for pee breaks or when my phone battery dies, ending up making over 100 redials until at around 10:45 the call goes through to their answering machine which means they have filled all of the appointments for that week. I'm out of luck for that week.

It's now been ten weeks or so that I have done this for 2023 benefits. It could be that I've made over 2,000 attempts, and still I have no appointment. The weeks go by and I worry that my PG&E bills will go unpaid while waiting for the benefits, so each week that goes by another dread grows in me: that a month or two from now I still won't have an appointment, my bills will be overdue, and my electricity will be shut off.

There is nobody you can call to talk to in person until your call gets through and someone sets up your appointment.

Didn't any of these people ever read Kafka?

Why in the 21st century can't we go to a web site, fill in a form and get an appointment, even months away? I would certainly prefer to go to a web site and get an appointment for two or three months later, than to futilely call week-after-week for months and still be left hanging!

Until covid, those appointments would be for a half-hour meeting in Eureka, requiring a 130-mile round trip drive from Garberville. And it's the same meeting every year, showing the same video on ways you can save money by being energy efficient in your household (how about being energy efficient by not making us SoHum residents drive 130 miles in our cars and trucks!)

The information I provide them has been EXACTLY the same every single year (I live in the same place and my income is from my disability checks). So why do I even need an appointment for anything? Why can't I just go to an online portal where I can confirm the information is the same as the previous year (or make corrections... I did get a new phone number two years ago) and click a button that says apply for 2023 benefits?

I think this process violates the Americans with Disabilities act. For ten weeks, on ten Monday mornings, I have had to go through a process that aggravates my disability (PTSD) by triggering a PTSD attack that lasts all day and leaves me hanging for another week. This is how I’ve had to spend twenty hours of my year so far, in a state of aggravated, mindless numbing hitting redial.

I've complained to the folks at HEAP about this on many occasions over the last two decades. Today I called my state senator's office (Mike McGuire), so we'll see if he can do anything...

Fortunately for some SoHum residents, once a year (usually too late in the year for me to take advantage of it), the HEAP folks drive down here one morning to the Healy Senior Center in Redway where folks just have to show up (no appointments necessary), wait in line for a half hour or so, and they are seen and their applications are accepted.

Andy Caffrey 


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Normally I would not take issue with something said about me. Especially by a mental case such as Patrick Redmill, But in this particularly scenario this is my issue. 

In the 2/8/23 issue Redmill wrote that I had multiple warrants for “elder abuse.” I am in state prison, surrounded by people who want to kill those who have multiple warrants for elder abuse. 

Redmill’s false statements can and will place my life in jeopardy as people tend to believe what is printed in the AVA.

In fact I have no such warrants for my arrest.

No offense, but I seriously doubt you w8ill give this letter a second thought. I will still send it in hope that I can appeal to your compassionate side and you see the danger in my situation.

Redmill also falsely stated that I do not have State 4 liver disease. Again, people believe what they read in the AVA and the last thing I want or need is for my community to think I was lying when I wrote I was stage 4 given the possible ramifications of Redmill’s false statements and the danger it places me in. I ask the following:

Call my investigator Justin Cozad at 707 234-2952 at the Mendocino County Public Defender’s office, Confirm with him that I do not have multiple warrants for elder abuse and in fact do have State 4.

Tell him the cod word “Old School" which will enable him to answer your questions.

A 60 second phone call my seem like drama to you but it could potentially save my life!

a clarification publication in the letters section would be appreciated more than you know.

Alan Crow

CMF Vacaville

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