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Mendocino County Today: Thursday, June 12, 2014

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THE YOUNG MAN killed at Scharffenberger Winery, Philo, by a falling tree limb on Saturday morning May 17th, has been identified as Jose Luis Gonzalez-Che, aka Jose Ismael Che Noh. He was 29 and made his home in Fort Bragg.

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COUNTY CEO Carmel Angelo included a $45,000 remodeling project in the 2014-15 county budget last week to finance some remodeling to house a dog grooming vocational program for female inmates at Sheriff Allman's jail in Ukiah.

Allman: As we know AB 109 has forced an increase in inmates. We have found that we have an equal increase in male and female inmates. While our male population has many opportunities for vocational training, not as many as I would love for them to, female opportunities are limited to say the least. We have been working on this for about a year to hopefully have some type of pet grooming station which is away from the main animal care building which will allow inmates to not only be trained for pet grooming and washing and bathing and so forth, but also be certified in the grooming vocation. This would be through an official vocational training program through the Sheriff's office through an educational program. I was not part of the figuring out of the money part of this request. I was simply told by them what we needed, a shelter with restrooms, hot water, cold water, electricity, places where we could heat lunches and so forth. [Slide: "$45,000 increase in Net County Cost to remodel the hazmat facility adjacent to the animal shelter to house a jail program which will provide dog grooming skills training to inmates."] This would be for several things — everything I've talked about as well as increase the adoptability of our animals down in the animal shelter and allow us to get them on the Internet and increase the foot traffic to our shelter so we can get more spayed and neutered animals out on the street to reduce the overall number of loose animals that we have.

Board Chair John Pinches: This morning we had a presentation on the expenditures of the AB 109 program. Why wasn't this included in that budget? It would seem to be something that would be in there because it is a form of rehabilitation of inmates. It seems like it should be in that budget, not just a general fund expense. I don't think this is a priority when we have limited general fund dollars. I don't see this as a priority.

Allman: This will be real improvement to a building the county owns down there.

Pinches: I'm not saying it's a bad thing to do. I'm just saying in my list of priorities, the County training people to do dog grooming is not really a high priority of mine.

Allman: It is for me. It is for me because I don't think it's fair that I'm allowing male inmates to work on the roads, to do the cooking, to do the gardening, and right now the only vocation we have for females, and I know it sounds sexist, is our laundry facility. [Ed note: Females can’t do cooking and gardening?] I have been working on this for 12 months to see if there's something else that we can offer our female inmates to say we don't want you to come back to our facility. If you can be trained as a dog groomer and be certified and start your own business on the outside and never come back and we as taxpayers and I as sheriff you as a citizen of this county will all win on that. So that's where I’m coming from. As far as where the initial funding comes from, tomato-tomato, to me it is a priority, to you it may not be.

Pinches: I'm not saying it's a bad thing. I'm just saying it's not top priority.

Allman: If the Community Corrections Program says they would like to fund it then by all means.

Supervisor Carre Brown: This is for a facility upgrade?

Allman: It is.

Brown: That is basically what it is?

Allman: It’s real estate the county owns that’s improving a building that will always be there for the county.

Health and Human Services Director Stacy Cryer: I think one of the issues was that Community Corrections Program money, I don't believe -— I think we looked into that and we could not use it for the capital improvement piece. We can use it for the program, but not for the actual building, that's my recollection.

Supervisor John McCowen: The county did receive the property back with significant improvements having already been made to it by the Mendocino Solid Waste Management Authority which we are a part of through the joint powers. I really support the idea that we are giving inmates who are interested in doing it the opportunity to learn vocational skills. That's the best way I can think of to keep them from reoffending and going back to jail. There is a cost associated with that. This does appear to be the upfront one-time cost to remodel the facility. If one person a year one winds up getting a productive job and not going back through the system repeatedly it will pay for itself several times over every year.

Pinches: So don't ever give me a hard time for helping senior citizens in Anderson Valley again.

Pinches: Let's move on here. Everyone seems to be—

McCowen: It's like Supervisor Hamburg said, there is no shortage of need.

Pinches: I guess I'm the only person on this board who doesn't own a poodle.

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ARTESA VINEYARDS AND WINERY, the big Napa-based arm of Spanish wine giant Grupo Codorniu has withdrawn its plans to convert more than 300 acres of timber just south of the County line near Annapolis and has put the property up for sale for $1.5 million. Friends of the Gualala River (FOGR) and other groups in the area had spearheaded substantial opposition to the project and had been given support by a Sonoma County Judge who agreed with FOGR that the EIR for the converstion was badly flawed and required major revision. The decision was hailed by environmentalists, who last year persuaded a Sonoma County judge to rule that the vineyard project's environmental studies were flawed.

“For us and the forest, it's great news,” Friends of the Gualala River President Chris Poehlmann said of the winery's decision.

An Artesa spokesman claimed to the Press Democrat that the decision had nothing to do with their court loss, saying only that they put the property up for sale because “Sonoma County is no longer part of our growth strategy.”

Artesa had proposed to clearcut 154 acres of second- and third-growth redwood and fir trees and former orchard land to grow premium chardonnay and pinot noir grapes.

“The Artesa conversion was even more important in some ways than [the much larger] Preservation Ranch as a precedent,” said FOGR member Peter Baye. “Artesa’s vineyard deforestation plan actually was unique: it alone ran the full gauntlet of the regulatory process and courts. Preservation Ranch, despite its more prominent coverage and deep-pockets CalPERS financing, had an aborted regulatory history: it politically imploded (with a modest amount of assistance!) before its draft EIR even made it out the gate. That was a blessing for all Sonoma County residents who didn’t want a long, drawn-out political and legal battle to hang over the fate of the largest single forestland ownership ever proposed for a jigsaw puzzle of agriculture, roads, reservoirs, and mansions.

“Though the Artesa project was only a few hundred acres in size, its approval represented a huge risk for a project-by-project, piecemeal of vineyard project development with a settled CEQA formula. It represented a back door for the same kind of forest and watershed loss as the mega-vineyard Preservation Ranch project, but in the form of “death by a thousand vineyard clear-cuts” one by one, in relatively low-cost second-growth timberland. If Artesa had succeeded in obtaining quick, painless, uncontroversial approval of its Environmental Impact Report and permits, it would have established attractive formula for copycat vineyard entrepreneurs who paint themselves Green and laud themselves as ‘sustainable,’ while converting coastal Sonoma County forestlands and grasslands into more thirsty vineyards with reservoirs above steelhead spawning streams.”

Artesa has argued that its proposed vineyard was on land “zoned for agricultural use” and that the judge misunderstood its report.

 “Should someone else move forward on developing the property, the judge’s decision will easily be overturned by a more knowledgeable court,” the Artesa spokesperson said, in an obvious move to keep the price of the property as high as they can make it now that they’ve lost their court case and whoever might buy it would have to spend a lot more to even think about more vineyards.

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WE EXIST IN THE WORLD, we live with others, we live in history and we will have to defend our memory, our desires, and our presence on this earth for the sake of the continuity of life. Xenephobia obstructs and assassinates life. Cultures influence one another. Cultures perish when they exist in isolation, and they prosper in communication. As citizens, as men, and as women from both worlds -- the global and the local -- it is incumbent upon us to challenge prejudices, to broaden our own limits, to increase our capacity for giving and receiving, and to open our minds to all that we perceive as foreign. If the locality is weak the globality won't work. For this concept to come to life we must embrace the cultures of the Other so that the Other may embrace our own. Let us remember that history is not over. We live in a continually incomplete history. The lesson of our unfinished humanity is that when we exclude we are made poorer, and when we include we are made richer. Will we have time to discover, to touch, count the number of our brothers and sisters that we can say we have embraced and counted among us? Because none of us will ever be able to find the humanity within us unless we are able to find it first in others.

— Carlos Fuentes. Xenophobia. ‘This I Believe.’

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ON JUNE 11, 2014 at about five minutes after midnight, Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Correctional staff assigned to work Building One of the Mendocino County Adult Detention Facility entered the cell of an unresponsive male inmate. Deputies found him unconscious and not breathing. Jail medical staff was present and evaluated the man. No pulse or respirations were detected, and life-saving measures were started. Emergency services were summoned and ultimately transported the man to an area hospital where he was pronounced dead. The 55-year-old inmate was the sole occupant of the cell. He was arrested on June 10, 2014 for being under the influence of a controlled substance by Willits Police Department. The District Attorney's Office will conduct a thorough death investigation pursuant to standard policy and procedure. The inmate's name will be released after notification is made to his next of kin. (Sheriff’s Press Release)

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ON JUNE 10, 2014 at approximately 6:10pm driver Gabriela Gallegos, 22, of Redwood Valley was traveling in her 1984 Datsun 300zx northbound on Highway 101 north of Pomo under crossing. Jerry Weinhold Jr., 49, of Potter Valley was driving a 1989 Toyota 4runner with a passenger (Swan Johnson, 67, of Lucerne) seated in the front right passenger seat. Weinhold was traveling northbound on US-101, ahead of Gallegos, in the #2 lane. Multiple witness stated that prior to the collision the 1984 Datsun was traveling northbound on Highway 101 recklessly. Gallegos passed a vehicle that was traveling in the number one lane, merged into the #1 lane and then attempted to pass the 1989 Toyota. The two vehicles sideswiped which caused the two vehicles to lose control and the Toyota traveled sideways, subsequently the Toyota rolled over. The Datsun traveled across the center median and came to rest in a drainage ditch. Weinhold and Johnson were transported to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. Gallegos did not suffer from any injuries as a result of this collision. This collision is still under investigation however alcohol does not appear to be a factor. (CHP Press Release)

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MENDOCINO COAST TRANSITION TOWNS announces a new event entitled “Overcoming Our Colonized Minds — Throwing Off Mass Media/Corporate Brainwashing,” that will take place on Sunday, June 22, 2014, at 4:30PM. The event is free and will be held at the Community Center of Mendocino, 998 School St., in Mendocino. We will discuss what’s really going on, including how we can step outside the current “American myth” (in which we have been taught we are free, but are actually enslaved). We’ll discuss how our minds have been colonized through excessive competition, consumerism, economic incentives, mind control, fear-based propaganda, and unnecessary survival struggle. For additional information, contact Charles Cresson Wood at 707 937 5572.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, June 11, 2014

Bowers, Cruz, Custer, Dickerson, LaForge, North, Williams, Wolf
Bowers, Cruz, Custer, Dickerson, LaForge, North, Williams, Wolf

DAVID BOWERS, Fort Bragg. Drug charges, revocation of probation.

JOSE CRUZ, Ukiah. Drug charges.

SARAH CUSTER, Fort Bragg. Drug paraphenalia.

RICK DICKERSON, Lucerne. Violation of a court order.

ASHLEY LAFORGE, Willits. Vehicle theft.

MICHAEL NORTH, Fort Bragg. Drunk in public.

LYDELL WILLIAMS, Ukiah. Violation of community supervision.

DAVID WOLF, Fort Bragg. Assault with a deadly weapon other than a firearm.

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BURGLARY -- Caller in the 400 block of Cypress Street reported at 6:43 p.m. Saturday that credit cards and a computer were stolen from a house that may have been left open, and one of the cards had been used at Walmart. An officer responded and took a report.

DOG BITE -- An officer responded to the 700 block of South Orchard Avenue at 10:27 p.m. Saturday and took a report of a dog bite.

DRUNK IN PUBLIC -- An officer responded to Safeway on South State Street at 11:50 p.m. Saturday for a report of a drunken man and arrested Daniel A. Delucia, 28, of Ukiah, on suspicion of possession of meth, drug paraphernalia and metal knuckles as well as being under the influence of a controlled substance.

ASSAULT -- Caller at Ukiah High School on Low Gap Road reported at 12:47 a.m. Sunday that his daughter had just been assaulted. An officer responded and arrested a 19-year-old Calpella man for being drunk in public.

PROWLING -- An officer responded to the 700 block of South Dora Street at 2:28 a.m. Sunday for a report of a suspicious person and arrested a 20-year-old man and a 19-year-old man for prowling.

SHOTS FIRED -- Caller in the 600 block of Live Oak Avenue reported at 4:11 a.m. Sunday hearing six shots fired in the area. An officer responded and contacted a group of juveniles in the golf course with milk jugs and told them to go home.

DOG BITE -- An officer responded to the 300 block of Washington Avenue at 7:28 a.m. Sunday and took a report of a dog bite. The dog was transported to the shelter.

STOLEN VEHICLE -- Caller in the 1700 block of Lockwood Drive reported at 10:31 a.m. Sunday that a car had been stolen. An officer responded and took a report.

VAN WINDOW BROKEN -- Caller in the 600 block of Kings Court reported at 11:21 a.m. Sunday that a van's window had been broken but nothing appeared to be missing. At 7:53 a.m. Monday, another caller reported that medical supplies had been stolen from the van. An officer took a report.

HOSE IN NEIGHBOR'S YARD -- Caller on Irvington Drive reported at 5:06 p.m. Sunday that when she returned from out of town she found her hose in her neighbor's back yard and her water running. An officer determined it was a civil matter.

911 HANGUP -- A 911 call was placed and hung up from the 300 block of Jones Street at 9:46 p.m. Sunday. When reached by a dispatcher, the caller reported not having a problem.

DEATH -- An officer responded to the 1100 block of South Dora Street at 3:51 a.m. Monday and took a report for a death.

DOG BITE -- An officer responded to the 1300 block of Laurel Avenue at 8:59 a.m. Monday and took a report for a dog bite.

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The Hump is back! After an absence from the arrest logs for six months, legendary Ukiah street drunk, Travis Humphrey, is back in the news:

The Hump, six months ago; The Hump now
The Hump, six months ago; The Hump now

On May 30th at about 7:55 PM Ukiah Police responded to the Wal Martparking lot, at 1155 Airport Park Boulevard, for a disorderly group. As officers approached the group, who were seating on the ground, 24 year old Travis Joseph Humphrey abruptly got up and walked quickly towards the officers in an aggressive manner. Humphrey refused commands to stop and one of the officers had to physically stop Humphrey from colliding with the officer. Humphrey was intoxicated and refused repeated commands from officers, and physically resisted being taken into custody. Humphrey was arrested for public intoxication and for resisting arrest. Another member of the group, 23 year old Jacob Warren Hopkins, was found to be on probation with terms not to drink and to stay away from Wal Mart. Hopkins had been drinking and was arrested for violating probation.

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THE GOVERNMENT'S former chief prosecutor at the American prison at Guantánamo Bay, retired Air Force Colonel Morris Davis, has punctured the “hardest of the hard-core” narrative the Obama Administration and other defenders of Guantanamo constantly put out: "We had screened all of the detainees and we had focused on about 75 that had the potential to be charged with a crime. When I saw the names [of those traded] … [I] wasn’t familiar with any of these names.… If we could have proven that they had done something wrong that we could prosecute them for I’m confident we would have done it, and we didn’t."

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WE MUST BE SLOW and delicate;

the policeman's stare with some esteem,

remember this is not a shadow play 
of doves and geese

but this is now 
the time to write it down, record the words—

I mean we should have left some pride 
of youth

and not forget the destiny of men 
who say goodbye

to the wives and homes 
they've read about

at breakfast in a restaurant:

'My love.'—without regret or bitterness

obtain the measure of the stride we make,

the latest song has chosen a theme of love

delivering us from all evil—destroy. . . ?

why no. . . this too is fanciful. . .

funny how 
hard it is to be slow and delicate in this,

this thing of framing words to mark this grave

I mean nothing short of blood in every street 
on earth

can fitly voice the loss of these.

— Kenneth Patchen

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Dear Lost Coast Outpost:

I am writing to you from the federal prison where I am currently doing time on a five-year sentence I received growing marijuana in Humboldt County’s very own sparkly corner of the Emerald Triangle. You have actively covered my legal story since federal agents first stormed our tranquil coastal community back in July of 2012 to arrest my brother Sean. I could not speak with you during the course of the investigation for obvious reasons, but now that the case has been adjudicated I see no reason not to be perfectly candid.

I want to inform your readers a little on how one gets busted by the feds, what the legal process is like and what life in federal prison is all about. I will not cover all that here now, but you can expect to hear from me again shortly, providing I don’t get thrown in the hole. Recently you published a statement of personal responsibility I crafted with the help and guidance of my outstanding attorney, William Osterhoudt, in an effort to appease the court. While I am not ashamed of anything I wrote, I would like to put that statement in greater context in order to shed light on the federal justice system.

The very first thing you need to know when dealing with the feds is that they have 98.5 percent conviction rate. That’s around double the conviction rate at the state level, so if you are indicted it’s serious business. The feds accomplish this amazing feat with leverage from lengthy mandatory minimum sentences, getting people to cooperate (rats) and from federal drug conspiracy laws, which allow testimonies from informants to be the only form of evidence necessary for a conviction. No setups, no wires, no phone taps, no scales, and no actual drugs needed. Just some one’s word against yours. Cute, isn’t it?

The stiff mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent offenders, which have existed since the late 1980s, are triggered by the amount of drugs charged in the conspiracy. What is particularly important to know is the quantity of drugs in the indictment is usually arbitrary. Prosecutors tend to settle on a quantity they know will invoke a certain MM, which they use for leverage. In my case, the magic number was 100 kilos of marijuana. That’s 220 pounds for any of you stoners out there not used to the metric scale, and it carries a MM of five years. Now, in my case there was never a 100 kilo bust or an alleged deal of that magnitude but that is the number, based on the testimony of the rats, the prosecutors wanted to prove was involved between all parties over a six-year span. If you divide this number equally among the eight people charged and the six-year period, it works out to be just over four pounds per person per year. That is the burden of evidence needed to satisfy the charge, and, furthermore, testimony from informants of events that happened many years ago is considered sufficient proof of guilt. No actual physical drugs are needed as evidence. In fact, indictments with no real drugs present are so common that they have developed their very own vernacular. Attorneys refer to this phenomenon as a drugless bust, and here in the joint it’s what we call ghost dope.

So how do the feds build a conspiracy case? The answer is surprisingly simple and sadistic.

Step 1: Bust someone somewhere with some drugs (in my case, someone with some weed) or simply get someone to confess to having done some thing illegal.

Step 2: Make threats to the wellbeing of that person, their friends and their family.

Step 3: Tell the person they have a way out … if they tell every bad thing they’ve ever seen or heard.

Step 4: Arrest the people named by the rats.

Step 5: Repeat the process and expand the case… Its wonderfully efficient!

I was never busted with any marijuana plants or any weed at all and no one was ever busted with weed that came from me. However, people who were in some kind of trouble were able simply to name me and others as marijuana growers in Humboldt County and thereby save their asses. That is all it took. I was only indicted after my good friend, my ex- and others ratted in order to secure their own freedom.

In their “cooperation” with the feds every informant invariably told stories that omitted details contributing to their own culpability and shifted blame to others. As a result, my brother, Sean McFarland, my brother in-law, Jaymar Adams, and I bore the brunt of the attack because out of all the people charged we were the only three that did not selfishly shift blame, implicate others, or “rat.” And if there’s one thing that pisses the feds off, it’s someone with backbone. It’s not that we didn’t know other people involved in growing and selling marijuana in Humboldt or elsewhere. In reality we’ve lived and worked in this county more than long enough to know a mountain of people involved in the industry, but the fact is we chose to take responsibility for our actions. We were each faced with the same choice. The feds made it clear to us, “we had a way out.” We could “get under the MM if we just cooperated with them.” My brothers and I took the steeper path. One with integrity. We accepted the weight of the situation and chose not to place the burden on anyone else. Instead we carried our load with honor. It was one of the easiest decisions I’ve ever made in my life.

My statement of personal responsibility that was recently posted in the LoCO was crafted in an effort to show the courts the inconsistencies of the informants’ testimonies and to simultaneously demonstrate my taking full responsibility for my actions. In addition to that submission, more than sixty character letters written on my behalf by family and members of our community were also given to the court. We hoped to soften the judge by helping her see the whole picture, but in the end the stiff mandatory minimums set forth by Congress proved to be an insurmountable hurdle. As a result my brothers and I each received a five-year prison sentence with four additional years of probation.

Unfortunately, in the federal justice system sentences like ours are the norm rather than the exception. Thousands of first-time nonviolent offenders have been subjected to incredibly lengthy prison terms dating back to the late eighties. I am doing time with many guys who are serving 10-, 15-, 20-, and even 25-30 year sentences for first time nonviolent offenses. It’s insanity, and it comes with an enormous cost. The financial cost is to the tune of many billions, but it is the human cost that is the most tragic. For every person incarcerated there is a family left behind. A family left to mourn the loss of a loved one who is still alive but is lost behind bars. Children grow up without parents. Husbands and wives are separated, and families often break under the pressure.

When the judge sentenced my brother and me, she teared up. It was very real and sincere human emotion and it was entirely clear she did not want to give us so much time, but her hands were tied. She said she was sentencing us to shortest period of incarceration she possible could under the current laws and even urged the people present in the court room to “Please write Congress about mandatory minimums.”

Well, folks, for the first time in more than 30 years, sentence reform is being seriously discussed in Congress, and there are a number of proposed bills that could alleviate some of the disparities within our criminal justice system. Perhaps one of the most notable is a bill called the Smarter Sentencing Act, on which the US Senate is preparing to vote on June 14 of this year. This bill, if passed, will do a number of things, including reducing MMs for certain nonviolent offenses. Under the proposed bill, 20-year MMs will become 10s, 10-year MMs will become fives, and five-year MMs will become twos. Information regarding this bill and how to contact your senators in support of sentence reform is available at Families Against Mandatory Minimums web site, The bill is not retroactive, so as it stands I will receive no direct benefit if it is passed, but everyone, myself included, can celebrate if Congress takes this giant step to righting our justice system. The senate had their hearing today, the deadline to write letters is July 7th and they make their final vote on July 18th about whether or not to make the lowering of drug guidelines retroactive.

Brett McFarland and Julia, in better days
Brett McFarland and Julia, in better days

I look forward to coming home, but for now I sleep in prison bunk 18 upper at Herlong Federal Prison Camp. My name is Brett Aaron McFarland, Federal Inmate ID number 12457-273. Here I live separated from from my wife, Julia, my work, and all the comforts of home. In spite of the adversity I feel strong, healthy and hopeful. My only great suffering comes from seeing my loved ones suffer and knowing the burden my wife now carries as she continues to manage our life in my absence. Recently she had to quit her job as a social worker with North Coast Family Services, doing home visits for Early Head Start, to be able to take care of our farm and run our family business. This journey is not easy, but my whole family is sticking together and I know we will only come out of it stronger. I pray no one reading this will ever have to face the full weight of “them Federali boys,” but if you ever do, I think you’ll get through it all right.

To my fellow farmers out there: Enjoy your summer, take pride in what you do and do it well. Best of wishes to all of you for a healthy and productive season … and if you see black, run like hell!

Brett McFarland

PS. Here’s the link to my song I Ain't That song:


* * *



You know, I'm getting awful sick of John Sakowicz's tiresome nattering; his ongoing jihad against KZYX, seems to consist entirely of a bunch of picayune technical complaints with our fine public radio station, but what it obviously is about must be his male ego/pissing contest with the station's general manager, John Coate, who has performed heroically in saving the station from the ruinous financial position than it was in when he arrived.

If he were just another unhinged crank voicing his displeasure with the station in any and all available venues, he could simply be ignored the way various other unbalanced obsessives have been over the years, but Mr. Sakowicz is able to do real damage to this precious, struggling cultural asset; requiring the station to waste scarce fiscal resources on lawyers defending the station from his pointless but damaging attacks.

What blows my mind, after all his criticism of the station's leadership, is that Mr. Sakowicz still has a program on the air! It says an awful lot about how open they are to criticism that they permit this destructive antagonist to stay on the station’s airwaves, even as he constantly bashes KZYX leadership for being not open to criticism!

As annoying and counterproductive as I find Mr. Sakowicz's sniping at our county's essential listener supported cultural institution, I was absolutely floored by his recent letter to the editor; a screed against the recently rescued POW, Bowe Bergdahl. Before any inquiry is done into the circumstances under which he vanished five years ago, John S. is ready to jump aboard the right wing Republican knee-jerk response that would find fault with the second coming of Christ if Barack Obama had anything to do with it. It's as if he took part in one of Frank Luntz's weekly Republican propaganda talking point sessions, where the disingenuous, manipulative bumper sticker phrases of the week are generated, to be spouted mindlessly by all faithful Republicans across the land.

Given all of this, I really don't see why Mr. Sakowicz would ever want to darken the doorway of the KZYX studio, much less be welcome to. Though I have enjoyed his 'All about the Money' program in the past, at this point I would find it hard to take anything he has to say seriously.

Sincerely, John Arteaga, Ukiah

* * *



I have lived in Anderson Valley for 35 years. Like many others before and since, I settled here for the rural charm, a lively society, and a relatively simple way of life. Since then there have been many changes beyond my control. While local businesses may favor more wineries and the resulting tourism, many residents do not favor that and wish for simpler times. I recognize that some changes are inevitable and beyond my control, but I feel that the proposal for bike paths through the valley is something that citizens might speak out effectively against.

On its surface the plan seems wonderful; who wouldn’t favor being able to ride a bicycle anywhere in the valley in safe designated lanes? I would use them myself. But I do not want them here for several reasons:

First, and most importantly, the huge number of trees that will have to be removed in the valley will doom the shady beauty of highway 128. For better or worse Highway 128 is the established traffic corridor we all use, and the cuts and fills created to make the original highway have had generations to heal and support many hundreds of trees that shade and define the route. Making new cuts and fills along sections of the highway, and adding parking lots or “staging areas”, including public restrooms and related amenities, will alter the ecology and forever diminish its beauty.

Secondly, the towns in the valley will see substantial changes including designated parking, new sidewalks, widened shoulders, lane striping and new signage. Yorkville, Boonville, Philo and Navarro will all become more defined by the highway and the new changes, and lose more of the simple charm of real towns.

Thirdly, there is enough tourism here already. Planning for our valley shouldn’t be an open ended pursuit of more tourism. A tourist economy diminishes a place’s original importance and charm in exchange for economic benefit. A little bit of it might be okay. But a runaway tourist economy in this valley threatens to leach away its real essence and leave it with no soul. A formal bike path system installed here will almost certainly draw a large number of people to the area year round (coming, of course, in their cars) to enjoy the trails. One or more businesses will start up here renting bicycles and organizing tours.

As beautiful as the idea seems at first, when one considers the impacts to Anderson Valley and its residents it clearly is not worth it.

I hope the public comment deadline will be extended since many people seem unaware of it. Send your comments to:

Sincerely, Brian Wood, Boonville

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I read Will Parrish's article of edition June 4 on "the Politics of the World's Most Hydrologically Altered Landmass" three times:

Once to myself,

Once to my wife,

And Once to a glass of water

And all three of us agree that as a state, we are screwed.

Randy Burke, Gualala


  1. Bill Pilgrim June 12, 2014

    re: Bike Path: Mr. Wood raises valid concerns. However, it ought to be understood that the draft plan is just a proposal, a proposal that can be altered by negotiation and public input. What I find curious is his objection to altering landscapes in a narrow corridor beside an existing road. Where, then, is his concern for the ongoing decimation of thousands of acres of natural landscape for the purpose of grape monoculture? Which is worse – removing a few trees beside the road, or an entire hillside panorama devoid of native flora and covered with vineyards?

    • Bill Pilgrim June 12, 2014

      Give it a break, will you please? Tell you what: go buy a gun then execute the kid yourself when he gets back. Will that ease your jingoistic outrage?
      As to the kid not being “Army-material” (sic) is your memory so bad you cannot recall that during the early years of the Afghanistan and Iraq invasions the Army was so desperate for recruits (material) they were taking ANYONE, including gang members and semi-literates?

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