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LETTERS from Sonoma County Gazette Readers - February 2015


LETTERS from Sonoma County Gazette Readers - February 2015

Affordable Housing

In light of recently published articles regarding housing in Sonoma County, I feel compelled to write.

As we all know, Sonoma County is a very expensive place to live. We have hundreds of thousands of acres of vineyards, innumerable restaurants and cafes, satisfying the insatiable palates of tourists and locals alike. The vast numbers of people who are employed in these venues, if luck would have it, will be paid minimum wage; with many positions relying primarily on tips. We have many non profits and small businesses that on average pay their employees only slightly more than minimum wage.

Given the general rule of thumb, 30 percent of our income goes to rent. So, how can this possibly work?

The most recent rental post that got my attention was for a studio apartment. We all know what that means-small, one room, one person...and the rent is $1150. I hear about yurts for $1200 that do not even have a kitchen, just a hot plate. Or a cottage for $1500 without an adequate heating system, (a rustic, tiny wood stove, that cannot contain or maintain heat).

This is outrageous.

A person who might make $1600 a month would have to put 3/4 of their salary into rent. With very little left over, if any, after paying for the essentials. And, for anyone looking for a suitable tenant who would want to rent to someone of such limited means?

Why are we witness to exorbitant housing costs and minimal rental units? Sonoma County has a serious lack of rental units and people are taking advantage of that fact.

If you have a unit on your property this is understandably a part or an addition to your income. Consider extending yourself to someone who does not have the means that you do. Whether it be their choice to live a minimalist lifestyle or this is their lot in life, these rents are an abomination. I am not putting sole responsibility on private landowners... Apartment complexes, multi family housing companies and corporations share this responsibility.

People who want to stay in Sonoma County, for some 30 year residents, are being faced with rent increases of $300 in a year! People are living in substandard conditions forcing 12 people in a one bedroom apartment just to make rent. People are being displaced. A great number of people are leaving California every day for more affordable housing.

There are some great organizations providing housing for seniors, the disabled, people at risk, etc. buts it's not enough. What about the working poor? We need affordable housing. We need people to step up. We need you to understand the state of housing and make whatever accommodations you can.

So, I am asking you be fair, righteous...even charitable. Extend yourself. It may not fill your pockets, though it will indeed fill your heart.

Jude Mariah


Another Use for Sonoma Development Center?

Susan/Scott (for Marc Levine) - 

Sorry to sound like a broken record (or is the expression now 'low-battery I-Pod'?) but in preserving the lands and facility at Sonoma Development Center, the county and the state might take a lesson from -- of all backward places -- Kentucky.

Rather than closing/selling SDC and dumping its residents into virtually non-existent 'community living' where everyone knows they'll receive far worse care, the charter of SDC and its talented staff could and should be expanded to serve, in residential or walk-in capacities, other types of severe physical and mental disabilities now woefully underserved, including their incidence in the homeless population.  

For example, in addition to its current residents, SDC might be repurposed to also serve as a residential placement for special education students who, because of severe autism, emotional disturbance and other mental disabilities, cannot be appropriately educated in the general education setting.  

In my law practice I've represented such students and their parents trying to secure their educational rights under Federal and State law.  Finding an appropriate in-state placement for them can be a costly challenge for their school districts, who have a legal obligation to educate them even if it means doing so in facilities where they can be supervised round the clock.  Often the challenge does not stop at graduation; many require services and safe places to live as adults as they try to navigate the world of employment and so-called normal people.

Closing SDC and selling it to developers in order to save money and monetize it for the state would most assuredly prove a classic and irreversible case of 'penny wise and pound foolish.'   Indeed, those who advocate that course were undoubtedly the inspiration for the old joke: "There are three kinds of people in the world -- those who are good at math and those who aren't."  

SDC can and will save the state, county and local government entities infinitely more money in health care costs if it is kept open and its charter expanded.  I hope you will keep working to that end.  Please let me know if and how I might help. 

Bob Edwards


Forestville Faux Pas

Hi Vesta,

We communicated about roundabouts and about mid-winter light annoyances. I believe I have something to talk about that may be more important. And I’m not aware this has been talked about in the paper before.

I moved here five years ago. And – yes – I love it here. But I noticed that the 2 acres I can call my own in paradise are visited by golf balls. 

They appear in a rate of three, four, or five times a year. Some folks told me I shouldn’t worry about them. The two acres I own, one acre is actually forest, and I don’t visit it much. So the 3, 4, or 5 golf balls I see a year are found in the one acre I love. I find them where I ike to go check out ‘my’ nature.

As any scientist can tell you, golf balls do not come down at the exact same speed at which they were swung, but they can nevertheless harm, injure and maybe even kill a person. Long story short: I would like it if you did a story on Forestville’s Faux Pas (I read the plural is the same as the singular, as in: Forestville Bad).

I tried to make fun of what was going on here. I even turned the golf balls I found into a nesting site, grabbing some weeds, making a circle that looked like a nest, and putting some of the golf balls in it.

Vesta, I also heard about some folks discharging their guns into the air at midnight on New Year’s eve.

It means my personal outdoor experience is actually worse on New Year’s Eve. Can we please educate folks about the potential of their lame behaviors?

It doesn’t happen much, but here are the names of people in the United States who would have remained alive if not for avoidable behaviors:

January 1, 2015: A 43-year old man, Javier Suarez Rivera, was struck in his head and killed while watching fireworks with his family in SE Houston.

July 4, 2013: A 7-year old boy, Brendon Mackey, was struck in the top of his head and killed while walking with his father shortly before 9 p.m. amid a large crowd prior to the fireworks display over the Swift Creek Reservoir.

July 4, 2012: A 34-year woman, Michelle Packard, was struck in the head and killed while watching the fireworks with her family. The police believe the shot could have come from a mile away.

January 1, 2010: A four-year-old boy, Marquel Peters, was struck by a bullet and killed inside his church The Church of God of Prophecy in Decatur, GA. It is presumed the bullet may have penetrated the roof of the church around 12:20AM.

December 28, 2005: A 23-year-old U.S. Army private on leave after basic training fired a 9mm pistol into the air in celebration with friends, according to police, and one of the bullets came through a fifth-floor apartment window in the New York City borough of Queens, striking a 28-year-old mother of two in the eye. Her husband found her lifeless body moments later. The shooter had been drinking the night before and turned himself in to police the next morning when he heard the news. He was charged with second-degree manslaughter and weapons-related crimes, and was later found guilty and sentenced to 4 to 12 years in prison.

June 14, 1999: Arizona, A fourteen year-old girl, Shannon Smith, was struck on the top of her head by a bullet and killed while in the backyard of her home. This incident resulted in Arizona enacting "Shannon's Law" in 2000, that made the discharge of a firearm into the air illegal.

December 31, 1994: Amy Silberman, a tourist from Boston, was killed by a falling bullet from celebratory firing while walking on the Riverwalk in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana. The Police Department there has been striving to educate the public on the danger since then, frequently making arrests for firing into the air.

I got this information from

Yes, I heard first hand that folks were discharging their guns at New Year’s Eve right here in Forestville.

I do not want to be an alarmist. But I do believe our paper should educate people about behaviors they would not engage in if they understood their actual (potential) outcome. Discharging your fire arm during whichever event, or swinging a golf ball for the heck of it, is a deliberate act of (potentially) hurting someone, including death.

Vesta, will you educate us in our paper to the point of our understanding how some behavior is really lame? 

Fredrick Schermer

P.S. Some of my neighbors are still celebrating Christmas (yes, even at 4:00 AM) with full Xmas lights on. Clearly, they were not told that Jan 6th (when the three kings visited baby Jesus) it the latest date to keep the X-lights on.

Thank you, Vesta. I know I am a new person to town (5 years here), but bad behavior is not based on acceptable established culture; it is based on ignoring common sense. 


Rio Nido Speeders

Dear Vesta,

Thank you for all the local and county wide work you do with the Gazette. My gripe is not about dirty politics, fluoride in the water or drunken wine tourists. After years of work, we in Rio Nido got signage to slow down the traffic on River Road thru the "Rio Nido bend-in-the-road". I appreciate all the work the committees, Supervisor Carrillo and others put into getting that signage. It seems that all the money spent would have been better served by flushing it down the drain and into the Russian River! It is very dangerous to pull onto River Road at the Canyon 2 entrance going east in the mornings; I don't know if it is any better at the Canyon 7/Rio Nido Road entrance. So many drivers, many of whom have a cell phone plastered to their heads, plow thru the 25 miles-per-hour speed zone like it was their own personal race track/freeway. The bend in the road and oblivious speedsters make for a deadly combination as you are trying to get up onto River Road from a steep on-ramp. Can we not get some enforcement of the speed zone? A few expensive tickets might teach locals, who are so "Very Ecologically Minded" to slow down, conserve energy and save lives! (including animals).

Thank You,

Jay Clements & Gary Cross, Rio Nido


Question for Matt Banchero, The Tree Guy

Hi Matt,

I don't want to cut off my redwood in my back yard, but PG&E is pushing me to do so because of their lines, they even offer to do it for me at no cost, however, I don't believe is a danger to my or our neighbors houses. They have been cutting only in one side the branches that are over the lines but now they are saying that it is a tree that will constantly give them problems, meaning they have to keep coming to prune it, but I think that if that's what they have to do, so be it but I don't want to agree to its removal.

However, I have to wonder if they have made it unbalanced by cutting only one side of it. Will you please recommend to me what should I do?

Elisa Cyrus


Responses to "Rethinking Fluoride" (Jan 2015)

That is an excellent summary of why we should not be fluoridating, and instead be looking at all the ways to reduce fluoride intake from other sources. I no longer buy California wine because of the fluoride residues from cryolite and I try to avoid US grown produce because of what is allowed in food storage facilities.

Let me add that fluoridation is of particular harm to formula-fed infants due to their high fluid intake per bodyweight, and that this subgroup also tends to the lower side of the economic scale.

One of the unfortunate side effects of the debate about fluoridation is that it distracts from the things that are really important in preventing decay.

David Green


In addition to the informed comments by Mariene, there's one little fact about the supposed 'community benefits' of fluoridation that you probably never thought about. There's a nasty little scam behind this practice that always sneaks in through the back door whenever fluoridation is being sold to us, the gullible public. 

Fluoride proponents proclaim its alleged economic benefits to everyone - even, remarkably, for the toothless. They are especially keen to emphasize its value to the 'underprivileged'. But have you ever taken a closer look at those reassuring 'cost-benefit analyses' that they publish to support these claims? Accounting scams, it seems, are not confined to bankers and the finance industry! 

Using some 'best case' data from official sources here in England, I found that the supposed savings to the State in avoided dental costs through fluoridation, even if they exist at all, are at best minimal. It may save the average small town around a few thousand pounds a year. But what is never, ever, mentioned are the long term costs to the people themselves of treating just one of the adverse effects - dental fluorosis.

If these staggering hidden costs were to be included in the 'cost-benefit analyses', the whole scam would collapse around their heads. The advocates of community fluoridation would be facing liability suits that would send them racing for cover. 

If you get dental fluorosis you face a very nasty choice. Either you ignore it, and put up with serious social and employment disadvantages. Or you pay for a lifetime’s expensive treatment, to hide the disfiguring condition. The commonest treatment, veneers, will set you back as much as US$50,000 over the years. Here in the UK, that's how much a University education costs. So for many thousands of kids it's the choice between keeping their mouth shut in public and getting a good education, or looking good but expecting to be living on welfare. And for the 'disadvantaged' - the poorer members of our communities - that's a selective disadvantage, not a benefit.

So who really does gain from fluoridation? Not the public - let's face it, the claimed positive effects are a sham. The ones who gain are the dentists themselves, the very people cheerfully recommending this practice to us. After all, they would, wouldn't they? They are the folk with the rigidly enforced monopoly on providing 'cosmetic' dental treatment for the very 'cosmetic' disease that their professional recommendation inflicts on the population. With the continued universal increase in fluoride overdose you have to admire the ingenuity of the profession in looking after its own, even if it's our teeth that suffer the consequences!

Doug Cross


Dear Vesta,

Thank you so much for publishing Marlene Lily's article regarding fluoridation in our water and for Jim Reeve's letter explaining that fluoride is a waste.

I would like to suggest that every one reading your paper take a moment to call or email their board of supervisor and tell them that fluoride is toxic and not an effective method for preventing tooth decay and should not be including in the drinking water. Only one percent of water is used for drinking so that means toxic fluoride is filling our sewer lines, then our streams, rivers and oceans. Surely, fragile river and ocean ecosystems deserve to be free from another man made chemical that is a byproduct of the nuclear power industry. European countries have banned fluoride for the health of their people and the health of their nations. Furthermore, twenty five studies show that fluoride reduces children's IQ.

For more information please visit:

Thank you,

Heather Hendrickson


Wonderful letter, Marlene!  

Since you correctly stated that Baby Bottle Tooth Decay is a major cause of tooth decay in economically disadvantaged children I would like to back your letter up with references showing just how worthless water fluoridation is for BBTD.

Two ideas that are very successful: dental sealants applied to the surfaces of permanent-teeth molars where about 90% of tooth decay occurs, and, mobile dental units that visit elementary schools and offer dental cleanings and free toothbrushes. 

1)     “Sippy cups are the worst invention in history. The problem is parents’ propensity to let toddlers bed down with the cups, filled with juice or milk.  The result is a sort of sleep-over party for mouth bacteria,” said pediatric dentist Dr. Barbara Hymer as she applied $5,000 worth of silver caps onto a 6-year-old with decayed upper teeth. Dr. Brad Smith, a Denver pediatric dentist estimates that his practice treats up to 300 cases a year of what dentists call Early Childhood Caries. Last year, Children’s Hospital did 2,100 dental surgeries, many of which stemmed from the condition, Smith said. The condition crosses economic boundaries, but Smith said it is especially pervasive among children in poor families. (Caries means cavities)

(Source:  Auge, K. Denver Post Medical Writer. Doctors donate services to restore little girl’s smile. The Denver Post, April 13, 2004. (Denver has been fluoridated since 1954.))

2) “Baby Bottle Tooth Decay (BBTD) is a severe form of early childhood caries caused by frequent or prolonged use of nursing bottles that contain liquids with natural or added sugars, e.g., milk, sugared water, fruit juices. The liquid pools around the upper front and back teeth, creating a perfect environment for bacteria to initiate tooth decay. Children with such an early onset of decay are more prone to developing dental caries in other teeth as they erupt.” 

(Source:  H. Pollick et al.  Neglected Epidemic. Selected Findings and Recommendations From the California Oral Health Needs Assessment of Children, 1993-94. Page 9.)

3) “Oral Disease is still a neglected epidemic in our country, despite improvements in oral health due to fluoridation, other forms of fluorides, and better access to dental care.  Consider the following: 50 percent of Head Start children have had baby bottle tooth decay.”

(Source:  Allukian, M. Symposium Oral Disease. Journal of Public Health Dentistry, Vol. 53, No 1, Winter 1993. (Bullet #5 of 8.))

4) Among 2,520 children, the largest proportion with a history of falling asleep sipping milk/sweet substance was among Latinos/Hispanics (72% among Head Start and 65% among non-HS) and HS Asians (56%). Regarding the 30% and 33% resultant decay rates respectively;  Our analysis did not appear to be affected by whether or not children lived in an area with fluoridated water.

(Source:  Shiboski CH et al. The Association of Early Childhood Caries and Race/Ethnicity Among California Preschool Children. J Pub Health Dent; Vol 63, No 1, Winter 2003.)

5) By either of the two criterion i.e., two of the four maxillary incisors or three of the four maxillary incisors, the rate for 5-year-olds was significantly higher than for 3-year-olds.  Children attending centers showed no significant differences based on fluoride status for the total sample or other variables. 

(Source: Barnes GP et al.  Ethnicity, Location, Age, and Fluoridation Factors in Baby Bottle Tooth Decay and Caries Prevalence of Head Start Children. Public Health Reports; 107: 167-73, 1992.)

6) The prevalence of BBTD in the 18 communities of Head Start children ranged from 17 to 85 percent with a mean of 53%.  The surveyed communities had a mixture of fluoridated and non fluoridated drinking water sources.  Regardless of water fluoridation, the prevalence of BBTD remained high at all of the sites surveyed.

(Source: Kelly M et al. The Prevalence of Baby Bottle Tooth Decay Among Two Native American Populations.  J Pub Health Dent; 47:94-97, 1987.)

7) Overall, 37 of the 125 children (29.6 percent) were found to have BBTD.  Compliance in putting fluoride drops in bottle once a day was identical between BBTD and non BBTD groups.

(Source: Weinstein P et al.  Mexican-American parents with children at risk for baby bottle tooth decay:  Pilot study at a migrant farmworkers clinic.  J Dent for Children; 376-83, Sept-Oct, 1992.)

8) “Data from Head Start surveys show the prevalence of baby bottle tooth decay is about three times the national average among poor urban children, even in communities with a fluoridated water supply.”

(Source: Von Burg MM et al.  Baby Bottle Tooth Decay:  A Concern for All Mothers.  Pediatric Nursing; 21:515-519, 1995.)

9) A survey was administered to parents of 139 children diagnosed with early childhood caries (ECC) in 5 pediatric dentistry practices in Canada. The factors providing the most caries risk are: (1) being left with a bottle while sleeping; (2) parents having problems brushing the child's teeth; (3) holding liquids in the mouth for prolonged times; and (4) ethnicity.

(Source:  Tiberia MJ, et al. Risk factors for early childhood caries in Canadian preschool children seeking care. Pediatr Dentistry 2007 May-Jun;29(3):201-8.)


Pit and Fissure Tooth Decay and Fluoridation

1) “Fluoride primarily protects the smooth surfaces of teeth, and sealants protect the pits and fissures (grooves), mainly on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth.  Although pit and fissure tooth surfaces only comprise about 15% of all permanent tooth surfaces, they were the site of 83% of tooth decay in U.S. children in 1986-87.”

Source: The Oral Health of California’s Children A NEGLECTED EPIDEMIC:  Selected

Findings and Recommendations from the California Oral Health Needs Assessment of Children, 1993-94.

2) “Because the surface-specific analysis was used, we learned that almost 90 percent of the remaining decay is found in the pits and fissures (chewing surfaces) of children’s teeth; those surfaces that are not as affected by the protective benefit of fluoride.”

Source: Letter, August 8, 2000, from Jeffrey P. Koplan, M.D., M.P.H. Director Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Atlanta GA to Congressman Kenneth Calvert, Chair, Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, Committee on Science, Wash DC.

3) “Nearly 90 percent of cavities in school children occur in the surfaces of teeth with vulnerable pits and grooves, where fluoride is least effective.”

Source: Facts From The National Institute of Dental Research.  Marshall Independent Marshall, Minnesota.  May 28, 1992.

4) “Let me begin by saying that fluorides are most effective in preventing decay on the smooth surfaces of teeth.  However, the chewing surfaces of posterior are not smooth.  They have crevices and pits and it is our experience that fluorides don’t really get access to these pitted areas.” 

Source: Hearings:  Subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations, House of Representatives.  March 1984.  Dr. Harald Loe, Director of the National Institute of Dental Research.

5) “Fluoridation and the use of other fluorides have been successful in decreasing the prevalence of dental caries on the smooth surfaces of teeth.  Unfortunately, these efforts have much less effect on dental caries that occur in the pits and fissures of teeth (particularly on the biting surfaces of teeth) where more than 85 percent of dental caries now occur.”

Source: Toward Improving the Oral Health of Americans. Public Health Reports. 108: 6, Nov ‘93

6) “The program focused on four caries-prevention techniques:  sealants, a plastic-like coating applied to the chewing surfaces of back teeth and to pits and fissures on the sides of teeth (these surfaces are most prone to decay and ones which fluorides cannot protect adequately)”.

Source: Dental study upsets the accepted wisdom.  Science News.  Vol. 125, No. 1. Jan.7, 1984.

7) “It is estimated that 84% of the caries experience in the 5 to 17 year-old population involves tooth surfaces with pits and fissures.  Although fluorides cannot be expected appreciably to reduce our incidence of caries on these surfaces, sealants can.”

Source: Preserving the perfect tooth. Editorial. J American Dental Assn Vol. 108.  March 1984.

8) “The type of caries now seen in British Columbia’s children of 13 years of age, is mostly the pit and fissure type.  Knudsen in 1940, suggested that 70 percent of the caries in children was in pits and fissures.  Recent reports indicate that today, 83 percent of all caries in North American children is of this type.  Pit and fissure cavities aren’t considered to be preventable by fluorides, they are prevented by sealants.”

Source: Fluoridation: Time For A New Base Line?  A.S. Gray, DDS, FRCD(C),  J Canadian Dental Asso. No. 10, 1987.

9) “Even though half of all kids are cavity-free today, 80% of the decay that does occur appears on the chewing surfaces of their back teeth, where fluoride isn’t as effective.”

Source: Dr. Stephen Moss, Chairman of pediatric dentistry at New York University.  Tooth Report, American Health March 1989.

10) “Although systemic and topical fluoride use has been shown to be highly effective in prevention of caries on smooth surfaces, enamel surfaces with pits and fissures receive minimal caries protection from either systemic or topical fluoride agents.”

Source: Pediatric Dentistry Infancy Through Adolescence, Third Edition, p. 485.  Sr Editor J R Pinkham, DDS MS (Head of Pediatric Dentistry, U of Iowa College of Dentistry) Published by WB   Saunders Co. 1999 ISBN 0-7216-8238-3.

11) “It has been recognized for years that fissured occlusal surfaces are the most vulnerable to caries.  With the continuing caries decline among children, caries is becoming a disease of the fissured surfaces as the rate of approximal caries development continues to decline faster than that of overall caries experience.  Occlusal surfaces are also those least protected by fluorides, so the case for sealant as a complementary procedure to fluoride is even stronger.  As of the early 1990s, at least 83% of all decayed or filled surfaces in the permanent teeth of 5-17-year-olds were in pit-and-fissure surfaces. 

Source: Dentistry, Dental Practice, and the Community 5th Edition.  Brian A Burt BDS MPH PhD and Stephen A Eklund DDS, MHSA, DrPH, WB Saunders Co. 1999  ISBN 0-7216-7309-0


Maureen Jones, Archivist 20 years

Citizens for Safe Drinking Water –