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Sonoma County Gazette

LETTERS from Gazette Readers - July 2020

Jul 1, 2020


Law Enforcement - Public Health Order - Vacation Rentals, Point Reyes Seaashire - Proposed Gas Station - Low Flow on the Russian River - Fluoride in our Water - these are all topics on the minds of Gazette readers this month.

Please send LETTERS & OPINIONS Your opinions on our editorial are important to us. You cal also Log In to COMMENT on articles on our online edition.THANK YOU for being an active participant in our community!


In these times especially I would like to thank the one person who has the balls to protect the very citizens he promised to protect when he gave his oath to protect the constitution of the United States & that is SHERIFF MARK ESSICK. Thank you on behalf of us people who back you on your decision.... you’re truly a person that loves the American people by sticking to your promise to defend the American constitution.....kudos good sir & GOD bless you.

- Brandon Thompson

Enforcement of Sonoma County Public Health Order

I disagree. Not with your statement of your authority but with the notion that we as Sonoma County citizens shouldn’t argue about rules and orders that are deeply affecting our lives. These rules and orders are being applied capriciously from county to county--different interpretations, same science. Health is one consideration but not the only one. Economic viability is as great. Your journey is different. You continue to be paid, your health insurance is being covered. We are not journeying together.

- Mary LeVesque

This decision by the DA is necessary and appropriate.

- Kathleen Finigan

I completely agree with Mary (above)! We are not journeying together in this! Further, this violation of our constitutional rights needs to end! We need to get back to our lives! When I left but I half a percent of people have contracted this virus and even less than that have passed away, and the information provided does not clearly indicate but what people have actually died from is the virus and not other health issues, it’s ludicrous to think that the other 99.5% of us should have to hide from our lives! You said the district attorney is the one who can file charges, yet it is the police department and Sheriff’s Department that have to bring us in and I resent your further need to scare the public with that information”

- Candace Taylor

I stand with Sonoma County’s courageous Sheriff. Unequal enforcement of the law, allowing demonstrations, but making it a crime to drive to the beach, has no place in a free society. We don’t need bigger government, we need a citizenry United behind the Constitution. End the power grab by our overlords.

- Carl Voss

Jill Ravitch is correct, the sheriff’s duty is to enforce law. When law or policy does not reflect the will of the people we have the responsibility to seek change. It takes effort that inconveniences us. It taxes us. But when that effort results in change it means something. It means the design of the constitution is still relevant. Do we as a county really want to see law “enforcement” selectively determine what laws and ordinances get enforced? Can you imagine a time or situation where such “courage” on the part of an enforcement officer would result in harm or injustice? I love the beach too, but shouldn’t our focus now be upon uniting to find solutions for business owners AND public safety?”

- Lindsey Dixon

Vacation Rentals - Rock & a Hard Place

Your article on about rental housing (Vacation Rentals - Rock and a Hard Place, June, 2020) was just excellent and struck the tone we need to incorporate into the Local Coastal Plan Draft. We are reading in the current LCP Draft that another 3800 residents are expected to occupy permanent housing on the coast by the end of this year. At the same time, we heard that the coastal population is dropping.

All of this is crucial to pin down with regard to the Land Use Element of the LCP, which currently is all about commercial and tourism growth and services.

And thanks for giving Richard Retecki the chance to showcase the coast in the Gazette (The Sonoma County Coastal Trail, June 2020). Someone should write an article about HIM and his work over all these years on behalf of Sonoma County.

- Laura Morgan

Vesta, you do not get to make up “facts” regarding this subject. Regarding “compromise”, it appears you have exchanged your integrity in the sale of your newspaper to Sonoma Media Investments. It’s widely believed that the PD is biased against non-hotel, motel, or jail lodging because it goes against their interests, so we can see how the platform/paper you put your heart into would include total capitulation to their POV on this subject, since you were on the fence before.

It’s easy to buy in to Supervisor Hopkin’s hysteria on this, too.

Win your integrity back by insisting only facts be used, or if you dare, publish somebody who would like to present a fact-based analysis.”

- Eric Fraser

ERIC - I am on a Vacation Rental Committee of the Lower Russian River Municipal Advisory Council. We have been tasked with helping our area, and therefore our county, with finding a compromise solution to losing affordable housing to an increase in Vacation Rentals, particularly in the 1st and 5th Districts.

Where I live, along the Russian River, after flood waters recede, too many properties are purchased by outside investors and turned into vacation rentals, which removes them from the local housing market.

In an area where tourism is a huge part of the local economy, losing affordable rentals means that the people who serve tourists cannot afford to live where they work.

Finding a compromise that will serve both our need for affordable housing and our need to support our local economy is what we seek.

If you “attended” the June 23rd ZOOM Board of Supervisors meeting, you heard the broad spectrum of comments from the public on this issue. Rental housing is in its own conflict, and also in conflict with vacation rentals.

The Board, and the LRRMAC, have gone back to do more research to find a solution that will attempt to ease the issue for the foreseeable future. It will be re-visited in August. I

f you would like to have your perspective be part of our attempts to find a solution, please participate. We’re hoping to find a compromise that the entire board can endorse that will apply county-wide. It’s a challenge. Whenever people try to find a center place, they offend others at both ends of the spectrum.

Rock and a Hard Place ~ Vesta

We are all part of this dance.

Fabulous article Ms. Tummillo (Senior Momentum, May, 2020), and yes, you will be around to see the world change...I hope it is for the better.

- Linda Halfpop

Point Reyes Seashore

I take exception to Leslie Curchack’s rather hysterical and inflammatory article about Point Reyes.(All Fired Up - Point Reyes National Seashore, June, 2020) 

No, Johnes disease has NOT been found in cattle.  It’s been found in the elk population. This disease is NOT transferable to humans as Curchack erroneously claims.  Also found in the elk population is Brucellosis. This is transmittable to humans but extremely rare. Both of these diseases can be transmitted to cattle but the elk are segregated.

For historical perspective, the elk were eliminated in 1850’s but reintroduced in 1978. Dairy farming along with rye, potatoes and poultry began in 1865. The milk and cream were extolled for their high butter content.

Since 1992 measures have been undertaken by the Marin Conservation District and local ranches to mitigate runoff and cattle waste into the watershed fencing off streams and creating hard bed crossings for cattle.  In the past 19 years coliform bacteria has been reduced 95% in Olema Creek a major tributary of Tomales Bay.  Similar efforts on Stemple Creek are showing corresponding results.

Ms. Curchack claims 5000 cattle produce “a lot of poop”.  Well if you take 5000 cows on 28000 acres that’s a density of one cow per 50 acres. Hardly a Central Valley feedlot.

I might remind people that 95% of Marin Co. dairy ranches are organic spearheaded by the Straus family years ago. In fact, the Straus ranch is completely powered by cow poop using a methane digestor - this includes tractors and trucks. 

The cattle are not the enemy.  In fact, studies of fallow land in Marin Co. show a marked decrease in diversity, from wildflowers to butterflies.  I urge people to take a wholistic view of Point Reyes seashore.  It’s held as a paragon in the US and the world for the amazing biodiversity it encompasses.

- Peter J Prunuske

I WAS Homeless…

My name is Lisa Kagan an I am a previous homeless person. I became homeless due to health issues, waiting on SSI, after a family member stole my inheritance.

I moved to Guerneville in 2002. Yes, I am an alcoholic who is in recovery. I’m Going to list some of the reasons why this recovery happened.

People in the community trusted me. They knew I wanted to get better. This help was provided when I was in active addiction. When I say community, I mean downtown business owners, longterm residents, individuals who have clout in our community.

Now on to real truths… being homeless takes your soul, your self-worth, any desire to change doesn’t happen. How many doors closing in your face can one take?

I’m writing this to provide another view of what really goes on. This information is true and current.

I am housed due to West county Community Services. I have been in my home exactly 1 year. My life is radically different. I come from a upper-class history. Being on the streets was a conflict, one that left me hopeless. Having somewhere to sleep at night, to wash my hands without fear, to have a supporting situation with access for help is imperative.

I can say this with conviction. There are many homeless who would grasp the anchor and would not sink any further. Housing does affect positive change.

I know most of the homeless community who are the people who pick up garbage with Chris Brokate who has done tremendous work in organizing trash pick up.

My information is from a personal experience. I hope this letter changes one person’s negative view of a great solution for homeless people.

Lynda Hopkins - thank you for the support you give us. God bless everyone, stay safe and healthy.

~ Lisa Kagan

Proposed Gas Station, Car Wash, RV Storage & Food Mart

I would like to provide my opinion on the proposed gas station at Llano Rd and Hwy 12.(ONLINE June 21, 2020 article)

This is not the time to build more gas stations with the country, indeed the world, dealing with the fallout from climate change caused in great part by fossil fuels. We need to start thinking about eliminating gas stations rather than building more.

In addition, there are many gas stations already within a short distance and no need for another. This also goes against the County’s own policies on climate change, including the Climate Emergency Resolution approved in September 2019. So why the hypocrisy at a time when we need to start to REVERSE our course on climate change?

The above-ground storage poses a threat to the surrounding area should anything happen to the tanks and this is adjacent to the Joe Rodota Trail, which many people use to try to get away from the cars and trucks that we are constantly surrounded by. Any issue with the storage could cause irreparable harm to an area that is supposed to be a bit of an oasis to Sebastopol residents.

We already have the Chevron station/mini-mart that is within the Laguna area (and less than a mile away) and we all saw that underwater during the flooding. Do we really need another? I

n addition, the Laguna is a critical habitat for the tiger salamander which is already losing some it’s home in the area. We need to start considering not only the increased threat to the environment, but to the animals that we share this planet with. Please do not approve another unnecessary, pollution-generating gas station in our beautiful city.

- Kim Krattiger

Low Flow on the Russian River

On June 8th, SCWA submitted a Temporary Urgency Change Petition (TUCP) to the State Water Board. This Petition requested permission to lower minimum flows in the lower river to as low as 40 cubic feet per second (cfs). Under D1610, we should be in a Dry Year which would set minimum flows at Hacienda at 85 cfs. (In Normal rain years the minimum flow would be 125 cfs.) The TUCP does not discuss any impacts to the lower river that would result from this request. Because flows are already very low and will probably go much lower, we would allow that the very lowest they should be able to go is 70 cfs, and even that is questionable.

This flow level provides ankle-deep water to recreate in at most beaches. Right now (mid-June) the river is around 88 cfs, an extraordinarily low level for this time of year.

SCWA has plenty of water in Lake Sonoma. They claim they have to hold on to it for possible drought in future years. They also claim that the Biological Opinion (BO) forces them to keep flows at around 80 cfs in Dry Creek. Yet there have been MANY times when flows occurred over 100 cfs. I don’t know what enforcement by NMFS is provided on those flows. I’ve been criticizing SCWA for years for treating the lower river like an orphan (in regards to the impacts of their water policies) while assuring that their customers have enough.

In the meantime, not only has growth been rampant in SR and RP, but I just read there are plans for two 5 story apartment buildings on Santa Rosa Ave. It is concerning that very low flows are likely to concentrate bacteria and toxins and potentially cause serious health issues for vacationers and their pets (wildlife as well) throughout the lower river. it will similarly invite huge problems with algal growth, including possible cyanobacteria (toxic algae), which also involves a host of health concerns.

And in light of coronavirus, who knows what health impacts could ensue?

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! At a minimum, we need 70 cfs flows.

- Brenda Adelman, Russian River Watershed Protection Committee

PS: While contractors have been fairly good about conservation, there is plenty of room for improvement. They claim their per person use is 107 gal. per day, but I believe there is room for improvement here, even though state standards are lower.

People can contact me at for more information.

Fluoride in Our Water

Judgement ON HOLD in TSCA EPA Water Fluridatioon Case UPDATE:

After final arguments concluded on Thursday June 18th, Judge Edward M. Chen (the Court) made a surprise proposal that he defer judgement, while EPA and the plaintiffs discuss a solution that will satisfy both.

The Court appeared convinced by the science indicating that fluoride poses an unacceptable neurotoxic risk to the 200 million in the U.S. (about 2/3s of the total population) who currently receive artificially fluoridated tapwater, with the greatest risk to perinatal infants and children.

What is missing for EPA is a formal EPA-standard risk assessment of fluoride. However, although EPA has protocols for determining unacceptable risk of neurotoxins, and for determining a safe dose, if any, below which the risk is acceptable, EPA has not applied these protocols to fluoride. EPA began its evaluation of fluoride only well after the lawsuit was filed, and that evaluation is far from complete.

In addition, the Court determined that EPA has been applying the wrong standard to fluoride, looking for causation of harm, instead risk of harm. Risk alone is the standard mandated by statute, and any evaluation done under EPA’s current standard will be legally flawed.

The Court would like the plaintiffs to submit a new petition, including studies not yet published when the petition was filed, and perhaps to do, and submit, the formal EPA-standard risk assessment EPA says it requires, but has not yet done. The Court expects EPA to reverse course (like turning a battleship on a dime), accept the new petition and the new risk assessment, and do the right thing re. Fluoride. Attorneys for both sides expressed strong reservations.

EPA’s U.S. Justice Department attorney Debra Carfora explained that, by law, EPA must respond to a petition within 90 days, and that it takes a minimum of 3 years for EPA’s risk assessment process so, of course, EPA rejected the first petition, and would reject a second, no matter how excellent, for the same reason. A reevaluation of fluoride, this time focused on risk, would take several years at very least.

Michael Connett, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, explained that this is a citizens’ suit, that it has taken almost four years and considerable effort and expense (even though the legal team is working pro bono, and plaintiffs’ expert witnesses testified from “a sense of civic duty” - Philippe Grandjean, MD, PhD) to get to this point, and it might not be possible to do it all over again. Connett pointed out that, more important, in the meantime millions of U.S. babies and children suffer continuing harm.

The Court has asked the two sides talk to each other, and come back and talk with him in July, then have a formal conference with documents in August (Ms. Carfora said EPA needed at least two months). The Court will postpone ruling on the case, as long as necessary, until alternatives have been exhausted.

Find more information in the online edition of this paper @ (In the Unites States 200 Million People Receive Artificially Fluoridated Water)

- Carol Goodwin Blick

Re-Name Fort Bragg

Fort Bragg is in desperate need of a name change ASAP! Sure, there will be some relatively minor expenses for residents from the municipal name change, but the cost of keeping the town’s current obnoxiously racist name will be far greater.

First of all, no self-respecting Californian could ever possibly justify or countenance any town or city in the Golden State being named after Confederate General Braxton Bragg, who was not only a traitor and a slaveowner but an especially intemperate and incompetent military commander as well. That name is nothing to brag about, Fort Bragg.

Secondly, why would any patriotic American want to set foot in a town named after an anti-American racist traitor to the republic, like Braxton Bragg? Thankfully, Mendocino County has other equally picturesque communities to visit and spend our money in as tourists.

Too bad, Fort Bragg, but you’re not getting another dime from me until you change your town’s name to non-Confederate, pro-American option, perhaps a much less militaristic direction if they prefer.

- Jacob Pickering, Arcata

Re-Imagining Law Enforcement

As police chiefs nationwide rush to the cameras to disavow the chokehold and ‘take a knee,’ one can’t help thinking it’s just a PR stunt to mollify public outrage over defenseless deaths at the hands of those sworn to Protect and Serve.  Constantly told to ‘move along, nothing to see here,’ cellphone cameras are now revealing to us all that there’s plenty to see: A horror show of police brutality and murder.  

More than a single tactic, what must be abolished is the dark institutional mindset that pervades law enforcement, brazenly displayed against peaceful protesters exercising their 1st amendment rights and with full knowledge the cameras were rolling.

Choking may be banned but sadism is limited only by an officer’s imagination and the public’s tolerance. Many — especially minorities, the poor, homeless, mentally ill, the powerless and vulnerable — are routinely harassed & brutalized by non-violence that seldom makes headlines: Issuing a costly ticket for no-harm-no-foul traffic offenses; threatening to toss a homeless person’s possessions into the creek; planting drugs to fabricate arrests with impossibly expensive bail; etc.  Such tactics can financially, emotionally and otherwise totally upend lives balanced on the thin edge of society and survival.  

It is Social Terrorism, and every cop knows it. 

It was on wide-screen display recently when our sheriff profanely declared he would not enforce the “f*%king health orders” of our County Health Officer.  Those orders, having full force of law, were issued to protect us all from a plague that has taken 120,000 + lives and counting.  With disregard for the well-being and peace of mind of all county residents, he exposed the imperious jack-booted mindset that — more than any knee or chokehold  — murdered George Floyd.  

The horror won’t stop until law enforcement is totally Re-Imagined, and mercilessly held accountable.   

~ bob edwards, Sonoma


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