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LETTERS to Sonoma County Gazette readers from Gazette readers


LETTERS to Sonoma County Gazette readers
from Gazette readers

LETTERS to the Editor can be sent to any time - either in response to an article in the Gazette - or as an opinion for the OpEd section. Thanks for participating in our community!



CORRECTION - Forestville column November 2014: Wendi Gianni-Flowers BENEFIT dinner was hosted by her friends who want to help Wendi lay for her long stay in the hospital stay and recovery after her recent motorcycle accident. The Forestville Chamber of Commerce did NOT host this event. The Chamber donated money collected for the Emergency Assistance Fund which has helped many Forestvillians over they years who are facing financial hardship after an emergency.

“Meeting a Funding Challenge”

Thank you for your informative and supportive November 2014 article about the revenue and funding challenges faced by the Bodega Bay Fire Protection District and the proactive avenues the Board of Directors and firefighters are pursuing to close this gap. I have been a Volunteer Firefighter/EMT with the District for over ten years and can certainly speak to the accuracy of your article.

Just an example - In the 24-hour period between last Saturday evening and Sunday evening, Bodega Bay firefighters responded to seven calls - two rescues, three medical aids, one traffic accident, and one hazardous condition. One call involved a District resident.

Ray Hill, Bodega Bay

Russian River Food Pantry

Dear Vesta, 

This year we celebrate the 13th annual Parade of Lights in Guerneville and D&G Equity Management and Russian River Vacation Homes are celebrating by collecting funds for the Russian River Food Pantry. What started out as a simple gesture: making sandwiches, hot chocolate, cider and cookies for people setting up for the parade, has grown into a holiday party with appetizers, pork sliders and vegetarian chili. Parade participants are still the main focus, but the community is invited to join us for finger-warming cups of hot cider and chocolate and snacks starting at 6 pm on December 6th.

Instead of declining grateful tips and payment we’re putting out donation jars. 100% of the donated funds will go to the Russian River Food Pantry, which was established in 1986 and provides food to Lower Russian River area residents on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of the month, from 10 am to 12 pm. For more information about the food pantry, call (707) 869-2514.  

Donation jars will remain in the D&G Equity Management and Russian River Vacation Homes offices at 14080 Mill Street (corner of 4th and Mill Streets in Guerneville) throughout the holiday season. The public is welcome to stop by after 6 pm on December 6th for the holiday celebration (or during business hours through January 2nd) to make a contribution. Questions may be directed to Thank you, Vesta, for continuing to support the Russian River community and helping us to do the same!

Megan Perkins, Guerneville

Who Won -  Plastic Bag Ban

I have to say reading the article, I support the mission of the Beach Watch group, but to engage a public in a dialogue of what they are doing by alluding or comparing their work to “Nazism” still brings a sort of - what are you talking about to compare this?  

Really, this is how you want to describe what you are by what you aren’t - a Nazi?

Why grab a headline with the first word NAZI as oppose to just say what you want to say -  you are radical or extremist or just a person who really cares about the earth and protecting other species for  what humans are doing.

But to keep alluding to Nazism or Brown shirts is a real insensitive and degradation to millions of peoples who were affected by a uncompassionate hateful and inhumane society that existed in a nationalist government 80 years ago.  

Just say you are radical - you have already swayed your perspective and identified that you are really committed to a cause - but saying you are not a Nazi is just an insensitive use of a word for a ‘gotcha attention headline statement.

You are probably much smarter and more sensitive than what you wrote in a headline. 

Looking for a language of change for us all to better understand each other.

Moses Goldberg,  Sebastopol


That was in reference to a Letter to the Editor in the previous issue and if I had realized that before going to press I would have edited that part out. A letter writer called all bag ban supporters Nazis and Brown Shirts.  That enraged Keary and Sally enough to write this article - which has very valuable information in it and has inspired several readers to call me with comments such as  “I thought the bag ban was some corporate money-grab - now I see the benefit!”

My apologies for leaving that part in and confusing people who had not read the original letters from our readers in the October edition (repeated below), which inspired Keary and Sally’s article: ~ Vesta

Thanks for making the trip for the grocery store a nightmare and my life harder. I can barely walk. I am so upset with this unnecessary inconvenience that I could scream at you. But that is what makes your world go round. That is making peoples life’s harder. It must make you all feel real powerful knowing that you have made the average person’s life more like life in the early 1900’s. Why should the world progress when we can all go back to the bad old days.  People us plastic bags because they are easy to use. But we can’t have that no life must be miserable. Dam Nazis!

Michael Quinlan

I am not against recycling but to fine 10 cents. When are they going to start wearing their brown shirts? What is happening to freedom of choice? A lady can have the choice to kill a unborn child but we are not free to use a paper bag with out a charge. What will be the next thing on the list, it will not stop hear. This is going to keep on going. Put a stop to it.

Steve Witt


Who Won …  Plastic Bags 

This should have been a pretty easy article to write.  You simply answer these three questions:

1.  What percentage of plastic waste comes from the kind of bags at issue?

2.  What kind of litter reduction might we expect as a result of the ban?

3.  Are there any important side-effects from the ban that we should consider?

Short and sweet.  I don’t see any of that in the article.  

Instead, I see a photograph of a dead bird that appears not to have eaten any plastic bags.

I also see references to velellas, which apparently supports the following proposition: Animals cannot be expected to distinguish between vellalas and plastic, so the presence of vellalas makes blue plastic more appetizing to birds -- “instant food,” according to the article (or something).  But I can’t find anything in the article, or on the Internet, indicating that velellas are eaten by birds (or by anything), so the whole argument that blue-translucent bags are dangerous, although perhaps true, is entirely unsupported.

There’s stuff about Nazis, and global warming, and ad hominem arguments against the people who oppose the policy.

I’m sympathetic to environmental causes, but I’d like to see them supported by reasons that are strong enough to persuade opponents.

Do you think it makes the world better to print incoherent or illogical ramblings?  I do not.  I think instead your publication is giving citizen journalism a bad name.

Shelly Albaum

Perhaps, but just because Keary and Sally are not journalistically articulate does not mean there is no value in what they wrote. There are many people who have valuable information because they are deely involved in activites that others can learn from. What people know from personal experience  can enlighten others t impact change. Several people called me, but did not write letters, to thank me for what they learned from Keary and Sally’s article. One event ld me he now picks up lastivc everywhere he walks because some bird ro critter might consider it food. How lovely to have changed the way this man sees his world. ~ Vesta


Merry Christmas Sonoma County ... we DID it!

In just two months since the plastic bag ban has taken effect, there is a definable lack of single-use plastic bags along roads. Because we own EverClean North, a water damage/mold repair and carpet cleaning company, we drive across county lines constantly and now you can tell you are in Sonoma County by the LACK of plastic bags along roads.

In more than a decade of plastic collecting to clean creeks, rivers and beaches, we have seen how these bags end up in natural environments:

- people discard them as thrown litter

- in parking lots where people pull their purchased items out of the bag and it gets picked up by wind.

- items tossed in the beds of pickup trucks in a bag that gets separated from its contents - and the most prominent - is the plastic bag recycling process itself.

When garbage cans are collected by mechanical trucks they are tipped upside down into the open hopper of the trucks. Light objects catch the wind and never make it into the truck. AND, the backs of these trucks are open, so as they pick up speed the light objects fly out the back.  Loose bags, plastic sheeting, Styrofoam all fly into the air then get caught in grass , ditches, branches of trees, etc.

When people use trash bags with drawstring closures that have more weight instead of the “free” bags they got at grocery stores, trash stays more contained. 

Sally and I monitor Salmon Creek Beach for marine debris on a regular basis. We expect to see less plastic bags caught in washed up trash. Plastic bags are often tied, but birds peck them open to get as the trash inside.  

For almost 9 years we have been studying debris-killed birds on our beaches. 100% of the un-scavenged birds have plastic in their stomachs. We see what colors of plastic they eat and why.  We are trained and licensed for this work and take detailed notes of what we find.

Knowing that plastic bags are only a small part of the birds’ diet, we don’t expect to see a drop in bird deaths related to plastic bag ingestion other than for Western Gulls who have the habit  of chasing plastic bags down the beach.

In all of the discussion of plastic bags I have not discussed entanglement in the handles of these bags. What we have seen is that birds will die in less than 3 minutes from the stress of being trapped. Just because Sonoma County banned plastic bags does not mean the problem will go away. These bags show up from other purchases and other places.

But right now we are proud of Sonoma County for our plastic bag ban. Collectively we have done what people have said would be impossible.  By banning the bag we are improving living conditions for every animal along our coast. Even if it’s only 1/10 of 1%, we have still made a difference. 

Thank you!

In closing I would like to repeat...Plastic is drastic, Styrene os Obscene...please do your part in keeping our environment clean...pick up plastic when you see it to save a critter’s life

Keary and Sally Sorensen



Wood Smoke

I thought your response to Suzanne Angioli regarding the obnoxious aspects of wood smoke was quite dismissive - perhaps because you yourself burn wood. To me, burning wood in the 21st century, however seemingly homespun, is adhering to a caveman technology.

According to the Environment and Human Health, Inc., a nonprofit composed of doctors, public health professionals and policy experts “committed to the reduction of environmental health risks to individuals,” the “components of wood smoke and cigarette smoke are similar,” with both partially made of carcinogens. 

Both wood smoke and cigarette smoke contain fine particulate matter, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, sulfur dioxide and “irritant” gases that can scar the lungs.

Again, according to the EEHI website, “Wood smoke. . . contains chemicals known or suspected to be carcinogens,” such as certain hydrocarbons and dioxin. Exposure to wood smoke can depress the immune system and damage the layer of cells in the lungs that protect and cleanse the airways. The particles in wood smoke are so minute they are not filtered out by the nose or upper respiratory system. Carcinogenic chemicals adhere to the particles that pass through human respiratory filtering systems to end up deep in the lungs.

And to bolster Ms. Angioli’s point regarding wood smoke creators keeping the smoke in their own homes, a University of Washington study indicated 50-70 percent of outdoor levels of wood smoke were entering homes that were not burning wood.

It may be tradition and it may harken to some ancient need within us, but as a home energy source, the burning of wood is outmoded.

Thomas Johnson, Guerneville 

Actually - wood is one of the few renewable resources for heat. Tree services are trimming trees every day and those limbs turn into clean heat when burned in an EPA certified wood stove. 

Perhaps you prefer solar cells that rely on natural resources mined in countries that could care less about the environment - but they only function in direct sun and therefore don’t work well for homes under the canopy of mature trees. 

Or fossil fuels pulled from the earth? Or wind towers built from mined metals? 

When you know that trees grow every day, filter our air, provide oxygen, and when trimmed for their health also provide us heat - it’s a rational choice - IF they are burned correctly. That’s a big IF because even people who heat with wood exclusively don’t always burn correctly. EPA Certified wood stoves go a long way toward making up for wood burning ignorance - but not all the way. Ignorance on how to start and maintain a wood fire is a huge part f the wood smoke problem. Fire needs AIR to burn clean. It’s like a carburetor in a car – or fuel injectors – the correct fuel-air mixture is what makes it burn clean.

Renewable resources are an important part of sustaining our environment. You can stand outside my house when I’m burning wood and you won’t see smoke. My wood stove recirculates air and re-burns until heat leaves clean – it’s very impressive.

I have an article this month on air quality issues…more on this to come. ~ Vesta


Keep our Air Clean!

Many of you have expressed concerns about our air quality. Last winter in particular was terrible in our area. The Monte Rio and Russian River Alliances have been working with our Air Quality District to ensure that this winter won’t be a repeat of last year. 

In the winter many of us use wood burning stoves for heat. To be in compliance, after start-up there should be no visible smoke emanating from your chimney. How do you get a hot clean fire that actually produces more heat for the money and less smoke? You need to buy dry seasoned wood, keep the wood dry, and have sufficient oxygen getting into the stove especially at start-up, so the fire is hot, versus smoldering. Our Air Quality board has been responsive to calls made. If you are experiencing poor air quality either from open burns or improperly operated wood stoves, call Air Quality at 707-433-5911, or email Working together we are making a difference in our air quality. 

Chuck Ramsey, Monte Rio  



SOS Roads Analyses Sonoma County Gas Taxes

My question is what are they doing with the funds for the roads they get now. They’re certainly not repairing any roads in West County, which have the worst roads in Sonoma. I feel an audit is needed to see were the funds are going. Now they want another quarter of a cent tax increase for the roads. What the hell are they spending the money on for the roads now?

Timothy Ottsman



The Southeast Greenway Campaign received confirmation that we have been awarded the National Park Service’s “Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance” grant for the coming year. Congratulations to our Fundraising Team for submitting this grant application and for providing in-depth background on our project. 

RTCA staff contacted all of our community partners - the Sonoma Land Trust, the City of Santa Rosa, Regional Parks, Sonoma County Water Agency, and LandPaths to talk about the project. They must have given us high marks because these grants are competitive. 

This is a technical assistance grant that offers 400 hours of consulting help in the areas of partnership development, fundraising, public outreach, planning, meeting facilitation, organizational development, and capacity building! We look forward to working with the RCTA consultant in the year ahead!

Our all-volunteer campaign needs your help in raising $30,000 to meet the challenges ahead. In 2015 we will work to:

• Assist the City’s Planning Department with their analysis of the Greenway property to determine its value.

• Work with Caltrans and our Community Partners to craft a property transfer agreement.

• Develop a fundraising plan for acquisition, planning, operations, and maintenance.

• Build countywide support by reaching out to community groups, organizations, and neighborhoods.

• Sponsor community events that are both inspirational and fun!

We appreciate the support we have received to accomplish our goal. THANK YOU. 

If you’d like to stay tuned to our progress and donate to meet our financial goal, please visit our website or donate via check to:

Southeast Greenway Campaign
PO Box 9122
Santa Rosa, CA 95405
Your support is appreciated,
Linda Proulx
Thea Hensel

The Leadership Institute for Ecology and the Economy, a 501©3 public charity, is the fiscal sponsor of the Southeast Greenway Campaign. Contributions to the Southeast Greenway Campaign are fully tax-deductible as allowed by law. 


I am a 76 year old man who recently, October 23, 2014, tripped over a wheel stop in the parking lot of L’auberge casino in Lake Charles, LA.  I was parked in a handicapped parking space.  At around 8:30 P.M. as I turned to go between my vehicle and another vehicle I tripped over a wheel stop.  I fell violently on the concrete and broke the proximal end my right humerus bone, that is my right arm at the shoulder joint.  I am fortunate more damage was not done.  This accident occurred at night and the wheel stop is not painted.

Query:  I note your article was written in 2012.  Since the date of this article have you gotten more stories of people falling as a result of tripping over wheel stops?  If you know of any law suits relating to wheel stops, I would appreciate knowing of these law suits.  

Basically, I would like to know any information you have regarding the danger of wheel stops.  I would like to file a law suit to be compensated for the health costs and pain and suffering I am going through and will appreciate any assistance you can provide.

I am undergoing physical therapy and taking pain medication.  I have another doctors appointment Tuesday, Nov. 25.  I anticipate it will take another couple of months for my injuries to heal.  It is possible I may need a shoulder replacement.

Thanks for the article and any assistance you can provide.

With warm regards, Jim McInnis 

Yes - we keep getting letters and I post them on the article - and out legal columnists write about the subject as well in November & December 2012 – which you can find on our website under Barrister Bits My friend who suffered the fall that started this article finally got a settlement from her lawsuit but it took two years and she has had a long road back to recovery. ~ Vesta


The undeserved displaced vituperous rhetoric aimed at President Obama rather than at the  “shutdown the government pro-corporate anti 99% Republican controlled do nothing congress” might be more properly directed once the Sisyphus now generation registered voters, most of whom who do not show up at the polls, come to accept that historically politicians campaign in Poetry but govern in prose.

Dr. Gene M. Colombini