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Letters (August 24, 2023)

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Last Monday I was able to observe Mendocino County Code Enforcement follow through on an investigation of a personal cannabis garden. The garden had been located using satellite surveillance. 

The land owners had medical recommendations to use cannabis. They met the setbacks of 100 feet from the property line and 200 feet from another residence. The Code Enforcement officer verified these facts, came to the conclusion that the property owners were in compliance and closed the investigation.

The process was quick and professional. I can't say that every action taken by Code Enforcement has gone as well but, what I witnessed today did.

Cannabis is, and will continue to be a hot button issue. People have the right to enjoy their property. Some people do not enjoy the smell of cannabis. The required setbacks seem reasonable to allow those who are offended by cannabis the ability to enjoy their own property. 

Those who want to consume cannabis for medicinal and/or recreational uses should have the right to produce their own as long as it is done in a way that protects their neighbors rights.

Being part of a community means have consideration for others. This depends on communication and sometimes, compromise. Regulation and Code Enforcement are a poor substitute for being good neighbors. 

I liked being able to see enforcement in action. Sometimes with controversial issues, the truth is obscured by personal emotions. Hopefully, the situation continues to evolve where people's differing viewpoints can be heard and result in respectful dialogue. The more we can communicate, the stronger our community will be.

Adam Gaska

Redwood Valley

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I went to the emergency room last week. I started out the morning vomiting at 4 am followed by regular diarrhea all day.

My body was aching so much that I couldn't sit still. My family had left the house and by 1:30 I felt like I had trouble breathing. I first suspected that I had a bad reaction to the coconut milk ice cream (homemade) that I had last night. That suspicion waned as the day went on.

I started to get worried so I called a gentleman I love and respect dearly. I told him my synopsis and said I was having trouble breathing and that I might need a ride to the hospital. He asked if I could hold on because he was waiting for a package.

I then called my good friend and neighbor and he came over promptly and assisted as I called 911. Just as I hung up with 911 I saw a call come in that said Restricted on the caller ID. I assumed it was emergency personnel and answered. It turned out to be another neighbor of mine. He asked how I was doing. I said bad and that I was probably going to the hospital. He expressed his condolences and asked if I could recommend a good plumber. I handed the phone to my neighbor who was assisting me.

The wonderful emergency personnel arrived quickly. Many thanks to Chief Avila and the wonderful EMT who remembered that I briefly volunteered years ago for the department. I was then loaded into the ambulance.

I went bumbling down the road being cared for by another wonderful paramedic. Then I saw my wife trailing in her car. I started to get choked up about my kids and family. I then saw a line of cars piling up behind the ambulance (our pace was not exactly rapid) and the driver pulled over at Floodgate.

He came around back and opened the doors to tell the paramedic that my wife called and that I probably had an allergic reaction to the coconut ice cream. We proceeded on. I re-thought my need for the ambulance.

All my vitals were decent, so I elected to be dropped off in Boonville and get a ride over the hill with my wife.

Made it to Adventist ER in Ukiah. It was a relatively short wait. Adventist staff were wonderful. They said it was probably dehydration from working in the sun all day on Sunday plus possibly a rotovirus that's been going around.

Exited the ER after a couple of hours. Wife went to Costco as I sat in the car. Made it home to hug the kids and say thank you to my wonderful mother-in-law for watching the kiddos in my time of need.

As I walked the dogs this evening I thought life is precious and hilarious. I then told myself not to drink out of the public water trough as I typically do on my evening walks.

Take care everyone.

Kirk Vodopals


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Dear AVA,

Enclosed is my check to renew my print and online subscription. It may look like I have overpaid the renewal for in-state but that is intentional as I remember reading an AVA item sometime back regarding the cost of mailing the paper being pretty high. You have not raised the rates yet, but I don't mind paying more as the content is more than worth it. You can count the extra as a donation if that works better for you.

I thought hard about just going the online route but found it's just too much to give up an actual print newspaper in our era of rapidly disappearing news in print. I so look forward to fishing the AVA out of my mailbox and spending a morning or evening or both going through it, out on the porch of course (weather permitting). Actual reporting on local events and well-written stories and letters to the editor that are not limited to 150 words and the off the hook off the record are not to be missed. 

I will wrap this up by mentioning that I will be attending the Mendocino County Fair next month mostly because all the stories covering it last year made it something that should not be missed. So I'm not.

All the best,

Barbara Payne

Meadow Vista

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We’ve been buying a forty-pound box of Gravenstein apples for many years, to make applesauce and apple pies to freeze. In the Western U.S. there are no better apples for this purpose. When we moved to the Bay Area in 1960, there were hundreds of acres of Gravenstein apple orchards near Sebastopol. For many years we would drive up from Los Altos to buy a box. Then some years ago we moved to Napa. That has made our annual trek to buy apples much easier.

Gradually the apple trees began to disappear and wine grapes took over the landscape. Now the landscape is covered with rows of grapevines. Presently there are just a few Gravenstein apple growers left in the area. These growers still have the wonderful apples, but can’t find pickers to take them from the trees and put them in boxes.

Money is handed out to those who are having a difficulty in their lives. Those that are physically fit could form a pool of workers that could do seasonal jobs to earn that money.

California is overflowing with wine grapes and wine. For many in the business it is a status symbol to own vineyards and a winery. Many of these could be turned back to producing crops, such as apples and wheat to feed our country. Currently the Midwest is finding that the weather is making it much more difficult to produce a reliable wheat crop.

Richard B. Cady


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To the Editor,

I hope I never have to live without your paper-paper. Kramer is a jerk. Whatever happened to our own Flynn Washburne, one of my favorite contributors over the years? Any news of him?

And finally, I bow down three times to Mr. Scaramella for his coverage of the Board of Supervisors.

S.K. Dodge


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Dear AVA Editor,

Being a dutiful citizen I had to go to the DMV for a glitch saying I had no insurance. In fact it was the vin was the same, the License plate numbers-letters had changed. Anyway this female told me as a boss I had to go on line to clear this up. My registration information was locked up. Sigh. So I called this 1(800)777-1333 and this automated voice male AI gave me nothing but grief, then after (IT) the AI said it’s spinning its wheels, gave me a call back. Finally results! A real person says to email the old insurance policy and the new one to right away. My best bro who has a computer said this is not a (valid) email address. So, since I never drove away from the DMV parking lot I walked back in and said it’s not helping and said why. A smirky lady said sweetie just use the last (5) numbers of the liscence plate as a pin, no dice, then with my gut in knots still waiting for a second call back I overheard the other lady tell another customer it’s the last (5) of the vin (no dice) after almost 4.5 hours of this not being resolved I get this man on my call back (Fred) who upon hearing my crisis transfers me to his supervisor who fills out the correct page to the VIP staff office. Now I’m on hold for 24 hours to get a confirmation number. I hope your Monday was better.

Sincerely yours,

Greg Crawford 

Fort Bragg

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Dear Bru- er, Editor,

Thanks, I think- for printing my blurb (‘Doom Overload’).

‘Killed Without Dying’ was a great piece on an unfortunate experience.

The Robert Pardini picture/obit: What a gorgeous freakin’ man!

The family name is also, circuitously, represented in North Coast Wine History. My Esposa came to the City and MendoNoma in 1962 and recalls all wine back then, Italian- American and in large containers!

RE: Online comment #3. I was born in 1965 and every week I looked forward to a new Brady Bunch, my would-be family! The last time I watched I was shocked by how short the skirts were, even on Jan (the good girl). Even to a homo like me, that as an adult would be… distracting, to say the least. Straight guys didn’t stand a chance. 

David Svehla

San Francisco

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To the Editor:

It is immoral to continue using the dishonored name Fort Bragg for our fair city. Why not embrace wokeness and proudly virtue-signal with a new benign name tha tit was always immoral for the City of Fort Bragg to remember and honor in its name a despised traitor to the United States?

In the Seminole Wars from which Braxton Bragg emerged a hero commanding U.S. forces, less than 2000 Seminole warriors used hit-and-run guerilla tactics and knowledge of their land to evade and frustrate a combined U.S. Army and Marine force that grew to over 30,000 seeking to displace the Seminoles. American commanders eventually changed strategy and focused on seeking out and destroying hidden Seminole villages and crops, putting increasing pressure on resisters to surrender or starve with their families. (Wikipedia)

Long before the city of Fort Bragg was legally created and his name officially attached in 1885, Braxton Bragg had become a traitor to the United States. He led attacks on U.S. forces and sought to overthrow the U.S. Constitution by military force. After the Civil War, Bragg was despised as a weak and failed Confederate general who had mistreated his men.

James Larson

A Timberwolf who loves the town but not the ugliness of its name nor some of the rhetoric of its name defenders.

Fort Bragg

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Braxton Bragg was a United States (USA) soldier who helped the United States win the Mexican-American War. On winning the war, Mexico ceded (turned over), Texas, Utah, parts of Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon and California. One of the largest land sales since the Louisiana Purchase.

Bragg’s win in this war was pivotal to the United States and the U. S. acquisition of the current lands in the western United States. For these efforts Bragg was honored and commended throughout the United States and celebrated for his victory.

At the time, Bragg was a United States soldier who worked for the United States of America government. Afterwords he decided to change his affiliations and he became a confederate soldier.

General Sherman, of the Union Army, who Bragg knew, made his “March to the sea” killing and murdering thousands of innocent babies, children, men and women and also black African American men, women, children, and babies and Native American Indians.

Sherman’s “March” was extremely brutal and atrocious. He slaughtered thousands of innocent people and destroyed their lands and businesses.

It’s no surprise that Bragg would soon change his military affiliation.

He became a confederate soldier.

The town of Fort Bragg was named by an associate who had fought with Bragg during the Mexican-American War. If Bragg was such a hated man, why would one of his closest associates name a town after him in his honor?

“Bragg Bashing” has become a tool that the woke group CON is using to gain their political leverage.

Bragg was never celebrated in the town of Fort Bragg. Bragg never set foot in the town not even once. The people of the area adopted the Fort Bragg name and went about making it a prosperous logging and fishing town embracing people and cultures from around the world into the towns population.

Bragg was still a United States soldier (USA) at the time the town of Fort Bragg was named.

Bragg later passed away as a civilian in Galveston Texas.

His achievements and use of artillery helped win the Mexican-American War saving the military from a long and drawn out war where more lives would have been lost. He spared the lives of those soldiers. As a result of winning this war, Mexico ceded an enormous amount of territory to the United States, including the state of California.

The CON members live on stolen Native indigenous lands. It’s a hypocrisy! The CON (changeourname) feel that they can argue a history that occurred over 160 years ago and they in fact live to this day on the stolen lands of these indigenous peoples.

Instead CON could be taking this time helping the homeless and disenfranchised people of Fort Bragg and helping the town grow its economy by creating jobs and industry and focusing efforts on the well being of the town and its people not tearing people down.

I wish you the best in this ‘debate.’ I believe that this is another platform that CON wants so that they can spin their political agenda and get attention from both the press and the few people that will listen to their indoctrination via their incessant propaganda ministering.

John S. Lushenko

Fort Bragg

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To the Editor:

I thought it would take twenty years to unstuff my ears from all of the Trump trial talk, but the (Redwood Empire) Fair did it in a day, in under an hour.

I got there early — well, early in the day is still late at the fair, late anywhere when you’re talking the care and feeding of living creatures, some weighing a thousand pounds.

Kids in uniforms were greeters stationed from the parking lot gate all the way back to the pens. The kids said good morning, smiled, looked every passer-by in the eye. Even if they were forcing the smiles and repeating the same thing, the same greeting to every visitor, they were communicating. FFA, Future Farmers of America, and the 4-H, have that as part of their programs, communicating. Giving talks. Answering questions. Looking people and life in the eye.

I have a friend who likes goats so I was semi-wandering toward the goats. The goats were over there toward the steers, past the swine, past the chickens, past the ducks, past the 28-pound turkeys.

I saw a young woman named Stephanie with her father washing her steer in a car wash, cinder-block enclosure. The animal’s brown hide was like a big-screen TV between the girl and her father.

I got talking to Amanda from Covelo whose son had a winning steer. While we talked, Amanda put up with my emotional outbursts, my choking up at this and that good thing going on around me. I couldn’t set my eyes down anywhere without seeing something simple and good. Hard work and honest effort do that to me. They are like things on stage and screen, moments of highlights when you are supposed to cry and I do.

I felt simple and stupid. But what are you going to do? This world of 4-H and FFA and animals and daily chores and kids knowing they have a place and they need to be in it, and maybe everybody else will get on over into theirs. For me, moments of observed and unquestioned good in this world are hard to take.

Because… whatever you see at the fair, is only the wording on the marquee: what you don’t see is what you know took place, as secretly as what went on in those caves where they find the cave-dwellers’ bones: that an 18-year-old or a 14-year-old or a 8-year-old or a 5-year-old was up at 6 a.m. and fed their steer or goat or chicken or rabbit.

Amanda’s son came over then, with a boy Amanda said was her “other boy.” Both boys were taller than Amanda. They both needed their ties tied. Three-quarters through each tying Amanda said to each boy, “you’re going to have to learn how to do this yourself some day.” Each boy looked to be thinking, “yeah, well, that’s not going to happen.”

In the auction, the community gave back and signaled with raised green cards that yes, indeed, they were buyers. Businesses in town got involved, and a 1,340 pound steer sold for $28,000. The auctioneer called it out. “How do you like that, young man? I just sold your steer for $22 a pound.”

A lamb went for $60 a pound. The 28-pound turkey, and a chicken, and three pen rabbits each pecked and scratched and nibbled at prices of $1,000.

I left about then, and thought about Maci, a young girl from Potter Valley who had run into some trouble with her animal. It had come to her with a skin condition, “water rot,” and the 10 days of pills hadn’t worked and after the last pill it died. The whole thing had Maci out about $5,000. Maci switched as soon as she could to raising a pig, and had still done well at the fair. But there is that 5K bill.

Life and death and early mornings in the stalls and pens of Mendocino County. On the farms and ranches as in the secret caves; as in all that good.

William Walls


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I've long appreciated all of your work, and I adore The AVA. You may remember me from more than a decade ago - I was behind the upstart experiment "Empire Report" news site in Sonoma County. I'm a long time subscriber, and I live now in West Sonoma County.

I'm writing to you in my capacity as a fellow non-violent human and as an outdoor trail advocate. It has come to my attention that you've published a letter from Mike Vandeman entitled: DOWN WITH MOUNTAIN BIKING! I know of Mike, and deal with him on a weekly basis in my capacity as a bicycle and trail advocate. I'd like to kindly ask that you unpublish his work from the web for several reasons:

1 - Mike has a long-standing and well documented history of violence towards anyone who rides a bike with knobby tires (of any age). If you're so inclined to research, I believe his recent case of "child molestation" in Alameda County is unresolved. I don't believe this charge was sexual in nature, rather was about a group of children who rode bikes in the urban neighborhood whom he repeatedly harassed. He also was charged with physically attacking a mountain biker on a trail some years ago.

2 - Mike does not live in Ukiah as he purports, but in Berkeley - hence he is writing about a trail issue related to Briones Park in East Bay Regional Parks (near Pleasanton).

3 - Mike's form of anti-bike, anti-trail advocacy isn't built on anything other than his word, yet he depends on the perceived credibility of “being published” - such as has just occurred with The AVA.

I fear that continuing to give him a megaphone is dangerous. I'd like to know that one of my favorite sources of relevant information wasn't hoodwinked by someone I am very familiar with the hoodwinky tactics of.

Thank you for your consideration, 

Jake Bayless 


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Arnold Schwarzenegger was correct when he said “water is our future.” Yes, protect and conserve water resources and the forests that are the source. Also in our future is disaster. Get used to it. Climate change assures disaster.

What you can do: Use fewer resources, drive slower, protect natural environments, and get rid of politicians who do not act to address issues surrounding climate and resource protection. This includes Gov. Gavin Newsom, who seeks free reign over the environment for his special projects. If big money runs everything, we are done.

Alan Levine

Santa Rosa

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Dear Editor,

What the media and Mr. D.J.Trump have done during the past ten years is truly incredible. Together they have apparently destroyed the Grand Old Party, a great American political party, a party born out of the decades-long, nineteenth century national struggle over the extension of slavery and the "peculiar institution." It was a party that started with the Pathfinder, John C. Fremont and then, perhaps our greatest president, Abraham Lincoln.

While many have criticized some Republican standard bearers, the GOP also brought us very good ones, the likes of Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight David Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan. Then we come to the not-so-greats like Richard M. Nixon, who had to resign due to the Watergate Scandal.

What has happened recently is amazing, terrible and something that must never happen again: a malevolent psychologically disturbed exiting chief executive, who has broken the law by attempting to abrogate the Constitution, D.J. Trump, or Chump attempted a coup..

Have Republican Party leaders so lost their nerve they will allow the Chump to forever destroy this great party? Is there no longer any hope for it?

Frank H. Baumgardner, III

Santa Rosa

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