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Letters (July 20, 2023)

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COUNTY OFFERS ‘SLAP IN THE FACE’ to employees; strike vote underway

SEIU 1021 Mendocino County Chapter

Update: The Official News Source for Negotiations / July 13, 2023

Dear Mendocino County coworkers,

We met with the County again this morning [Thursday, July 13] for negotiations. The County finally provided a written response to our proposals. But most of the team said it felt like “a slap in the face.” The County proposed 0% this year, 1% July 2024 and 3% July 2025. They refused to move longevity pay up to what other bargaining units at the County are getting. They want employees to pay for the 12.26% increase In health insurance January 1st. They will not increase the paltry on-call rates [for CPS, largely]. They reject our proposals to improve the pension. And they are refusing to add extra steps to the 21 classifications that had steps deleted in the last contract because they were so low. With the projected increases in the employee health plan costs and increases next July in employee pension costs, this will still be a pay cut even before you consider inflation.

We recognize the County is experiencing financial and leadership challenges, but we have repeatedly explained to them how they can be financially prudent while still supporting their employees. In fact, not supporting their employees will put the County in an even deeper hole. The County has rainy day funds for a crisis [probably a reference to the $28 million general fund reserve]. We are in a crisis. It is time to tap those funds. The County has acknowledged that they have failed to collect millions in revenue that is due to the County. This is money that should and can be providing staff with a living wage and affordable benefits.

The Board is just not hearing us or recognizing the seriousness of this situation. You should be receiving your Strike Vote ballots in the mail this week. Make sure to fill them out and mail them back or bring them to the BBQ. in Ukiah on Thursday, July 20. The Negotiating Committee is recommending that members vote VES to authorize a strike. 

We will be counting ballots at the Union Hall on Friday, July 28. Until the Board of Supervisors takes us frontline workers seriously and listens to our recommendations, the County will continue to drift and flounder.

Mark your calendars for the next Board of Supervisors meeting: Tuesday, July 25 at 9am, before the supervisors take a month off for their “summer recess.”

Our next negotiating session with the County is set for Thursday, July 27. Remember to wear purple!

For the Union,

Julie Beardsley, Ryan Bushnell, Leif Farr, Jacqueline Otis, Tracy Wright and Patrick Hickey, Mendocino County Chapter Negotiating Committee. “Stronger together.”

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I sit here on a Sunday morning having breakfast outside at the Redwood Drive -in downtown Boonville. It's a beautiful summer morning. I am looking across the street at what used to be The Summit House, a family home here on Main Street. The house was sold about a year ago. We all wondered who had bought it and how it would go. (Well I did anyway) the new owner quickly ripped out every living bush and tree, gutted the house, putting plywood where windows used to be. Then the new owner erected a 8 ft Grey metal fence around the property. The effect was abnoxious and offensive! Right downtown! 

So apparently code was violated, so our new owner took down half the fence and posted a sign. ATTENTION! THE OWNER OF THIS PROPERTY IS ARMED. 

Well Howdy-Do neighbor! We are glad you are here!

NOT! I'm sure Disco Ranch has to let their customers know they need not fear for their safety. OR DO THEY?

Lisa Nunes


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I had wanted to comment on the Great Redwood Trail update but Kerri Vau did well enough. I am glad Ted Williams expressed that the State needs to further fund the maintenance but was disappointed that he doesn’t feel the County really has a role. The BOS should be advocating for our communities which include defending us against bad state policies. Kerri is exactly right that they should be on record voicing our concerns.

I do see the possibility of opportunity. I would like rail from Willits to Cloverdale to be restored or at least the option to remain open. If they are able to railbank, they will pull up the rail and that will be the death of any chance of rail service returning. The rail company then becomes the partner the State is looking for to maintain it. Then we can have a trail for human scale transit — i.e., walking, biking, etc — in the areas where there is higher density and the rail connects people and services like the grocery store. I am thinking Redwood Valley from Laughlin Way to Calpella to Lake Mendocino Drive to Ukiah and even to Hopland. I would also like to see some of the funds go to bigger projects that would include a community development plan being developed to do an EIR/CEQA to codify some of the amenities, the “lemonade stands” they keep touting as economic opportunities. Ask people what they want, what they can live with in terms of impact. Do a needs assessment of our roads and everything else. Lay it out what people can do and how they can get permitted so they don’t have to go through a major land use permit process. Then we have some shovel ready projects to get more State and Federal support to enable some economic development. I would like to see Hopland from 175/101 to Old River Road/101 developed this way. People park across from the gas station where the taco truck usually is. Make a nice loop down the rail line south to Old River Road and back up Old River Road. Get money to improve Old River Road and expand the shoulder so people can safely walk, bike, push a stroller without getting run over. Maybe some people would want to make a weekend out of it and could do some Air BNB, glamping tent farm stays, buy some local wines, eat at restaurants, etc.

As for the vineyard regs, I don’t see what they are going to accomplish except make it cost more to farm. The farm plan and instituting Best Management Practices is fine. That’s basically what the Fish Friendly Program does. It works. But measuring NTU/turbidity is ridiculous. It’s not a measurement used to determine water quality for salmonids. The machine to measure it is $5,000-$20,000. That doesn’t include the time collecting samples and entering them into the GeoTracker database. This requirement isn’t part of any of the other Water Discharge Requirements for other regions in the state.

Adam Gaska, Candidate for 1st District Supervisor

Redwood Valley

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I’m reading right now, The Major’s report on Supervisor Williams proposing to balance County Budget, by slashing staffing levels in already depleted, bare bones departments. I may be the last person in the County who remembers or even cares how candidate Williams glammed the voters with his razzle dazzle talk in 2018 when we were both candidates for the 5th District seat. At that time the Supervisors had just voted themselves a hefty pay raise that provoked a lot of resentment against them and a lot of pressure on us as candidates to vow that we wouldn’t take it. To which Williams breezily stated “I don’t need it.” Williams, it is widely assumed, had well-positioned investments when tech started taking off and he made a LOT of money.

When he and I were both with the Albion Little River Fire Protection District he would often be away for periods of time as he worked on Verifone pay machines. 

All this is to point out that Williams is obviously a well- heeled man, and has through his tech savvy investments, and his tech nerdiness positioned himself as “not needing” a pay raise, then moved to cutting from the County payroll actual working people, which will hurt County residents; with no indication that he is willing to share anyone’s pain. 

Beware this man.

Chris Skyhawk

Fort Bragg

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You brought up the name of Moira Johnston. I worked for she and her husband in the 1970’s . They had bought an older piece of property on Anderson Valley way. It had a typical older house and some acreage that extended to the west. They hired Anthony Lucchetti from Hopland to plant a small acreage. That portion was some of the really new grapes in the valley. Unfortunately, the state cut the property right in half Leaving the house on one side and the vineyard on the other. Don went on to purchase the Rickard property now known as the Ferrington ranch. Don hired me to develop this property into vineyard .It had a small acreage of existing vines. Split between red and white. Don’s money soon ran out and I moved on to another project. I remember that Don and Moria divorced after having two children. Moira’s name later appeared in a Napa paper and I tried to contract her to get some history for an article. Her current husband did not take my call lightly and told me to never again try to contact her again. Moira’s close friend married a well-known vineyard owner and went on a honeymoon in Europe and fell off a cliff and died.

I have lost contact with both Moira and Don. The remains of Dons and Moira’s original vineyard can still be seen to the west from the new highway. It has not been cared for in years. They may still own the house.

Bob Dempel

Santa Rosa

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Even our current organic conventional AG models are polluting our waterways with excess elements like nitrate, phosphorus and potassium. Our desire to simplify the management of a dynamic living system has caused financial ruin to our farmers and is having a devastating effects on our land. We are experiencing a paradigm shift as the previous system is collapsing. These are exciting times.

David King


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To me, Ted Williams is a prime example of someone — one — who pulled himself up “by his bootstraps”. Self made man. I stand in awe and admiration of his accomplishments in his field of computer programming. If he’s made a lot of money doing so, it has been through his own personal efforts, dedication, intelligence and abilities. So be it.

Ted’s fault — it seems to me — is his blase approach to problem solving for the County. Pithy platitudes are no substitute for concrete policy proposals. Ted’s detachment from the everyday woes of County employees is a reflection of his colleagues’ detachment: I know of no County Supervisor rolling up their sleeves and getting knee-deep in this County’s problems. Of which there are many. It’s like they are all and each merely posturing. Collectively and individually. A Shame.

The County employees are absolutely right to strike. Their plight has been given short shrift by the Supervisors and CEO. There are many of us who have supported a County employee strike — for decades now — as the only way to truly capture the Supervisors’, CEO’s and the public’s attention. Go For It. Strike!

As for Chris Skyhawk, he should never forget — and forever remind himself of — the fact that he scuttled his own campaign for Supervisor in 2018 by his own actions. He knows what they were. So do others. Ad hominem attacks — EG: Beware this man — against Supervisor Williams do Hawk no credit nor service. Nor does trying to bust Williams’ for having a successful independent career.

I’ll continue supporting Ted Williams until the 5th District political landscape provides a better alternative.

In the meanwhile…

Lee Edmundson


(Ed note: Edmundson was Williams' campaign manager when he first ran for office in 2020.)

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The Santa Rosa Press Democrat printed the Declaration of Independence. I applaud this. I point out the famous words written by Thomas Jefferson: “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

These words have in many ways become the foundation of our democracy. In the 247 years since these words were written, our country has abolished slavery, given women the right to vote and fought for civil rights and the right to vote for all our citizens. Today we are witnessing, with the Supreme Court’s recent decisions, a degradation of the principles set forth in the Declaration of Independence. 


― Do women have the unalienable right to choose what is best for their health and well-being?

― Do same-sex couples have the same unalienable rights as heterosexual couples?

― Do underprivileged children have the same unalienable right to a good education that more privileged children have?

The country is divided and polarized over our liberties. The 2024 election is critical. Will we continue to support and live the words of the Declaration of Independence?

Bob Johnson


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On July 7, the U.S. announced it had officially destroyed the last of its chemical weapons. The U.S. was the last nation to do so under the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1997, which, among other things, required destruction of all such weapons.

It was also confirmed on July 7 that the U.S. will send cluster munitions to Ukraine to help in its fight against Russia. This is contrary to the goals of the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, which includes prohibition of their use. Although 123 nations have committed to these goals, the United States, Russia and Ukraine have not. The U.S. justification is that Ukraine has run out of ammunition and needs these weapons for defensive purposes.

I’m not certain why the Biden administration decided to announce both these actions on the same day. I find it ironic. But perhaps they thought the good and bad news would somehow balance each other out.

I think the wiser decision would have been to delay the Ukraine announcement. This would have allowed a few days of positive news from the weapons elimination before announcing the bad. Then again, that might have appeared cynical.

Sherman Schapiro


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Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino offer local examples of a nationwide problem concerning aging and failing infrastructure at outdoor recreation facilities.

Visitation to parks has exploded since the pandemic, but facilities managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Lake Sonoma face particular degradation due to exclusionary authorities who could have helped with funding repairs — like the plumbing and electrical upgrades required at Liberty Glen.

A coalition of outdoor recreation industry and nonprofit partners, including the Corps Foundation, is supporting legislation to include the Corps of Engineers in fee retention authority that has benefited the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management for years.

The bipartisan LAKES Act, for Lake Access Keeping Economies Strong, would allow the Corps of Engineers to retain up to 80% of recreation use fees. These funds could be reinvested to projects where the fees were collected, giving local project managers the flexibility to repair infrastructure and complete maintenance with funds already paid by the visiting public.

Find out more at Isn’t it time that your recreation fees stayed local and helped maintain the facilities you enjoy?

Nancy Rogers, Board member, the Corps Foundation


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Dear Editor,

This matter of 'truth', the objective reality underlying any particular news story, is, I think, the most important thing going on in politics.

Basically Trump and the MAGA folks seem to be making the claim that it's OK to lie, that it's a constitutional right in fact, to lie. It's a matter of free speech.

And I agree.

Except for news organizations.

If you are a licensed news organization, you should be held to a strict standard of authenticity under threat of fines and loss of license just like the food industry and car seats for toddlers.

This might actually be a place where AI could be well used as an 'impartial' arbitrator that could turn the tide and reign in large scale misinformation campaigns. It would constantly track and rate ALL news stories for authenticity (and only authenticity).

Its results, its ratings if you will, would, by law, be posted live on all licensed news programs and included with all printed news.

Douglas George


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I read a local article describing record worldwide temperatures reached July 3. A few hours later I read online about Republican efforts in Congress to cut funding for “a boondoggle of climate change spending” calling the efforts “wasteful.”

The two sides of the climate debate consist of, on one side, virtually the entire worldwide scientific community, including more than 190 major scientific organizations, and on the other side, a relatively small group of activists and organizations with various connections to the fossil fuel industry and right-wing politics.

Manufactured doubt about climate science predominantly comes from the same groups that worked to manufacture doubt about the connection between tobacco use and health. That’s not a coincidence. Yet the facts are simply not on their side. Looking at the funding available to deniers from the fossil fuel industry, the outsized influence of their claims can be understood. Meanwhile temperatures climb.

Jim Housman


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