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LETTERS to Sonoma County Gazette READERS - November 2015


LETTERS to Sonoma County Gazette READERS - November 2015

Rules of the Road for Bicyles

Within the body of Debra Newby’s recent “Barrister Bits” column, she responded to a readers question about the legality of using a cell phone while riding a bicycle. While framing her response in the context of bicycles subject to the same laws as motor vehicles, she commented, “Do most bicyclists honor the rules of the road? Yes, in my opinion.”

I assume her opinion is based on her experiences with bicyclists on the road, but that opinion is absolutely the opposite I have formed from my encounters. From my direct and consistent experience, most bicyclists either don’t know that they are subject to motor vehicle laws, or simply do not care. When I encounter bicyclists, either solo or in groups, I am extra cautious, as it has been my experience that one or more of them will blithely do as they please in most traffic situations. I rarely find a cyclist who actually stops at a stop sign, turns from the proper lane, or for that matter, bothers to signal when they intend to turn.

Here are just a few of my more amazing encounters over the last few months. I have had cyclists (1) stop abreast of me on the right, at the stop light at Mueller & 116, and then, when the light first turned green, dash ahead and turn left directly in front of me, and another (2) race through a right turn –against the light at Occidental & 116 - merge on my right as I traveled south on 116, then sprint ahead, swerve in front of me completely across the highway to gain access to the bike path on the opposite side of 116, and yet another (3) while riding north on 116, approach a red light at Occidental & 116, slow but not stop, make a right turn, travel thirty feet, turn left across traffic, head back to the intersection, turn right and continue to travel north.

Of course there a cyclists who obey the law, I do see them every now and then, but very rarely. I’m happy to share the road, but both cyclists and drivers would be a great deal safer if the cyclists acknowledged the motor vehicle laws by following them, not by ignoring them.

On the bright side, I have seen an increase in the number of cyclists who are wearing bright fluorescent clothes and using flashing lights, even in daylight. I applaud those choices; they help me share the road with them more safely.

Steve Tierra, Graton


Lyme Disease

Thank you for your article on Lyme disease that appeared in the Gazette on Oct. 3, 2015.

The Stanford study you mention actually found a density of 6 nymphal ticks per 30 meters of trail, not 100 meters. That equates to about a tick every 16 ft. of trail. That is quite high. The Press Democrat article misquoted the study, which is where I presume you got your information. Also, in Annadel they found 5/41 nymphal ticks positive for Borrelia. That is 12%. One in eight. They were looking for both Borrelia burgdorferi and Borrelia miyamotoi. They did not look for any of the other nine tick-borne diseases. So in Annadel, they found a nymphal tick infected with Borrelia about every 130 ft. of trail. No one has figured out how many ticks are infected when considering all the possible pathogens that are currently known.

The Sonoma County Health Dept. does indeed test ticks for Borrelia, but only B. burgdorferi and those tested are mostly adult ticks. In California, it is the nymphal ticks that are more highly infected. Furthermore, their test is an IFA test that is only positive if there are approximately 100,000 spirochetes ( the Lyme disease pathogen) in the tick. I got this information from Mr. Michael Ferris, Lab Director. Salkeld’s study used a PCR test which is far more sensitive.

Sonoma County has told me they plan to ”continue counting 8-10 cases per year”, suggesting that the case counting process is flawed (to put it kindly).

Someone with a bull’s eye rash is CDC positive and needs no confirmatory lab test. That patient should be treated without delay. People who contract Borreliosis due to B. miyamotoi do not, apparently, get a bull’s eye rash and do not test positive on the currently available tests, which even the CDC says are insensitive. I hope you do not require a positive test result before treating patients who show clinical signs of borreliosis. Many of the diseases are transmitted in far less time even than the 24 hours you allow, and few people can actually pinpoint how long a tick was attached. Indeed, many people don’t ever see the tiny, poppy seed sized nymphal tick that bit them, so if they find one tick you might want to assume that they were exposed to unobserved ticks as well, and your “24 hr” window of safety is not useful. 

Igenex Lab probably gets more positive test results because they also test for a California strain of B. burgdorferi, not just the New York strain that all other labs test for. We are 3,000 miles away and have different strains and species. What you test for does make a difference.

A single dose of doxycycline is not very effective. Two doses of time-release doxy is better and a 10% azithromycin cream applied topically is apparently more effective than either. Perhaps you could review the most current information.

Our west coast ticks are not called deer ticks. “Deer tick” is a common name for Ixodes scapularis. Our ticks are Ixodes pacificus. Guy Kovner of the Press Democrat made the same mistake. 

Once again, thank you for even bothering to treat patients with Borreliosis- many medical providers won’t do even that much in this County. Unfortunately, most of them have been misinformed and cannot recognize most of the tick-borne illnesses that occur here.

Karen Miller, Healdsburg
Target Lyme, (707)843-0197

Thank you for your response on the article on Lyme. Your understanding of the science is much more nuanced than mine-- I am working from the current medical recommendations, some evolution through local experience and reading some of the alternative Lyme literature, and then the PD article added onto this. It seems that the prevalence of disease is much more common than conventional thinking would suggest, more congruent with the data you have. Hopefully, clinical practice catches up in the near future.

Thanks for your input.

Dr. Gary Pace


Dear Editor,

I have Lyme. I live in south Texas . I never saw the tic but I did get tested and I did get bulls eye rash. I thought only people living way up north would get it. I had flu-like symptoms for 2 weeks, lost 20lbs, ankle feet and hands got very swollen. 

I was diagnosed with Lyme 3/19. No doctor here knew how to treat it. My primary doctors gave me doxy for two weeks but wouldn’t give me anymore

and he wouldn’t give anything for my joint pain or swelling. It was so bad I couldn’t walk. 

I was seeing a nurse practioner also. Her husband’s niece came out with Lyme and they told me about her doctor in Marble Falls, Texas. She is a Lyme-literate doctor and thinks she can help me with my Lymes. 

Irma Garcia, South Texas


I just saw the Mulchstock articles in the October issue and just wanted to say thank you so much. You went above and beyond printing that spread for us. I really appreciate it! We’re in outreach mania as we look for 250 volunteers, but your help is huge!

Kellen Watson, Program Coordinator,Daily Acts

Grateful for Trash Pickers

We would like to thank all of the volunteers who showed up on tje cleanup days this year. And a special thank you goes out to those who have organized the cleanups here in Sonoma County.

More cleanups were organized this year than ever. We have pulled an incredible amount of plastic out of our environment and we have saved an untold amount of needless suffering and deaths of our sea creatures. Don’t forget the next cleanup is 11/07/15

Keary and Sally Sorenson
Volunteer coordinators of marine debris
Sonoma Coast State Park

End Wood Burning

Laboratory results of wood burning appliances are nothing like real-world emissions. Wood stoves also deteriorate and become less effective with use and over time. When two or more new wood stoves or pellet stoves are used in a neighbourhood or community, that toxic pollution is multiplied.  

For the same reasons that make cigarette smoking bans essential, wood burning must be banned in residential areas, where no amount of wood smoke is acceptable. 

Programs that condone the continued purchase and installation of wood burning devices fail to place public health and environmental protection above the financial interests of the wood burning industry - as represented by the Hearth, Patio, and Barbecue Association, which for far too long has placed profit above people. Many people have continue to suffer greatly from toxic emissions of EPA certified stoves and other wood burning appliances in their neighbourhoods.

The wood burning industry’s business interests should not come before clean air and public health protection - which depends upon residential wood burning bans.

It is time to stop condoning the burning of wood in any urban area, where cleaner and healthier alternatives to wood burning are available. In addition to clean burning natural gas, propane, electricity, solar panels and heat pumps are available - and wood burning appliances should not be condoned in any way, by any government department or health organization, for residential use.

The continued use and installation of new wood burning appliances are in no way an answer to the problem of wood smoke pollution. They create smoke pollution, and they are part of the problem. 

Please promote an end to all residential wood burning, both indoor and outdoor, in order to help preserve and protect the highest standard of clean air attainable, for better public health.

Cathy Baiton 

Wineries and Water

Dear Vesta,

On October 12th, the Board of Supervisors planned a meeting to vote on whether Ken and Diane Wilson’s Hale Winery would be allowed to have a permit. That very day, the meeting was rescheduled for October 17th. Hale Winery would be a 25,000 case winery with twelve events a year. The Wilson’s own nine more wineries in Sonoma County. In an article that appeared in the Press Democrat on October 12th, Susan Gorin stated, “”This (referring to the Hale Winery) could be an indication of where the Board is going on new wineries, tasting rooms and events.”

We are in unprecedented territory regarding climate change. In spite of what some say about El Nino, no one knows if or when it will occur. On October 25th in the Press Democrat, Jan Null, a consulting meteorologist states, “El Nino hype is in full swing.” It’s predicted that the heaviest rainfall will be in Southern California and

much less  north of San Francisco. On August 13th, Supervisor Gorin began Mike McGuire’s town hall meeting by stating that “We shouldn’t put our hopes in an El Nino year.” 

California is in the fourth year of a severe drought and has had extreme and dangerous fires this summer. In Sonoma County rivers, streams and creeks are drying up. Fish are endangered. Twelve million trees died in California this summer due to lack of water. I have lived on a rural road in Occidental for twenty five years. This summer and fall, I’ve seen deer on the roads in broad daylight. Raccoons and opossums who normally shun people, drink water from a small bird bath on my deck. Animals are being killed at alarming rates on local roads in their search for water.

The ostentatious and unlimited growth of the wine industry in Sonoma County is tragic and for lack of a better word, disgusting.The continuation of the expansion of the wine industry will be catastrophic. I doubt that Ken and Diane Wilson and countless others care about the drought and its effects on residents, animals and the natural world. Where does the buck stop? 

Pamela Singer, Occidental

Politically Correct?

Ms. Tummillo makes a very strong point in her essay “politically correct – (Senior Mementum Oct. 2015) or just nonsense?” It is up to americans of caucasion european backgrounds to determine how their behavior should affect people who don’t fit that description.

It is important that everyone else understand that she doesn’t mean to be unkind, it is simply not important. She is socially sophisticated in a way that the rest of us just don’t get, and, really, we never will. It is so unfair that we might judge her unkindly. She makes such a clear point in her first paragraph. “Where is the line?. And, how important is it, really?” Exactly! Why should anyone from any historically marginalized group of citizens be allowed to choose what they find offensive:?

She is careful, as well, in choosing her references. Her parents, who appear to advise her against being observed as somehow insensitive (without telling her how there might be a social solution of which she could be a part) show up several times in the article. Their authority over, and contributions to, postive social change are not mentioned.

A second group to whom she turns for validation would appear to be three americans of caucasian european backgrounds (two of whom are no longer available to defend themselves) who she relies on to point out the absurdity of words being actually hurtful.. Well, yes, and if in the forty years since Lenny Bruce died the “N” word had stopped meaning what we think it means then by golly, there would be a point to be made.

Lenny Bruce and George Carlin were comedians. Their job was to shine the light on what doesn’t make sense. What doesn’t make sense to me is the idea that there are only two options here.

“I don’t mean to be hurtful!” No, of course not. But you can’t trouble yourself not to, either. If you can’t be bothered to think and care about how your speech or behavior might affect others around you, do not ask me to care if some people think badly of you. I’m afraid I can see their point.

I will leave you with exactly how a similar situation came up just this year. I have worked as a musician in bluegrass and country bands. One of my favorite songs was “Turkey in the Straw”, in part because of a silly last verse, in part because it is pure fun to play. 

This year my youngest daughter informed me that the song was racially charged. I looked everything up and sure enough, a set of hateful lyrics had been written to the tune and taken on tour through the early years of the last century.

No player I know had ever known about this, but it seemed to be an historically accurate fact. I could keep playing that song and try to justify doing that because I meant no harm, or I could let it go. The people who really ruined that song for everyone’s enjoyment were long dead but the story lived on and frankly, rather than have one stranger I will never meet walk across a fairground and hear that and think about those dead a-ho’s and what america meant back then and feel compromised as an american, I will just not play it. That’s all, I make a choice, and if I had to name it, I’ll say I want to be socially correct, not politically so, and no, no, no, it is not nonsense. I see this as a third choice.

I see, as well, that she makes free with a joke about southerners. Well, bless her heart.

Michaela Hamilton-Heiman



Local Coastal Protection

I read with interest the article by Supervisor Carrillo, and appreciate the attention given by the Gazette to this important Coastal issue. Supervisor Carrillo underplays the fact that the Coast is a special place and that the so-called protections offered by the General Plan are inadequate for the Coast.  In fact, they have proven to be inadequate for the inland areas of the County also; in the past seven years only two projects have been denied or scaled back (both in the last two years and only after huge outcry by neighbors).

There is an issue of lack of trust that has caused an upwelling of protest.  Five meetings were presented on the Coast to present the proposed Local Coastal Plan amendments, but in the first four of those meetings the proposed Agricultural element was never even mentioned.  Only after an outcry by residents did the PRMD present the Agriculture element at the Timber Cove meeting, quickly adding a few slides to their PowerPoint presentation to address this issue, which they had been silent on up to that point.  The Supervisor representing the Coastal region did not appear at any of those five meetings. Somehow I don’t feel he is in a “protection” mode when voting on proposed language in the Local Costal Plan (LCP) or when approving projects that skirt around the General Plan provisions by using the wording “agriculture promotion” as cover for allowing commercial kitchens and overnight accommodations in areas where restaurants and overnights are prohibited.

In addition, public commentary is often a meaningless concept to both the PRMD and Supervisors.  They listen and then do exactly what they intended in the first place.  Witness Ratna Ling industrial printing facility recently approved in the Coastal zone after huge public outcry (now there is a lawsuit having to be paid for by the neighbors), and places like the approved Paul Hobbs Winery next to a school yard where he has allowed application of toxic pesticides and ignored drift onto the school yard (again, after much public outcry).  

Is it any wonder that trust has been eroded concerning the County process in amending the Local Coastal Plan and scrutiny of project approval of new winery/event centers in inappropriate areas? Preserve Rural Sonoma County is an organization that has been at the forefront of the push back against the County’s lack of vigilance that has already created destructive cumulative negative impacts in areas like Dry Creek Valley and Valley of the Moon.  

We are not opposed to the many good players in the wine industry We support the vineyards and wineries built to scale in appropriate areas, who contribute much to our communities and who play by the rules.  

However, we want the PRMD to stop approving every project that comes their way, regardless of the negative cumulative impacts on neighborhoods, traffic and safety issues, and to start enforcing their own regulations of wineries holding events without permits.  

Now the County wants to have us believe that these same regulations will protect our Coast.  They are asking us to “trust” them in their process that has already shown itself to be inadequate on a number of fronts.  This is why residents are up in arms; trust will have to be earned all over again before the outcry quiets.

Respectfully submitted,

Reuben Weinzveg, Sebastopol
Preserve Rural Sonoma County, 




Palm Drive Health Care District

The Board of Directors of PDHCD made a mockery of an important Public Meeting with their deceit and duplicity on November 2, 2015.  They spent precious time on a poorly written and inaccurate Resolution (No. 15-12) opposing the detachment of the Guerneville, Forestville and Monte Rio school districts from the Palm Drive Healthcare District.  In the end, they unanimously passed a slightly edited version of the resolution.

Then, to add insult to injury, they removed Action item 8 from the agenda.  This was Resolution No. 15-14 informing Sonoma West Medical Center that they are out of compliance with the MSA requirement of financial reporting.  This Resolution should have been considered and discussed thoroughly.  Instead, the Board accepted a last minute single page summary from Sonoma West Medical Center, Inc. and thereby dismissed the resolution entirely from the agenda.

If anyone wants to see a Board of Directors operate with complete disdain for the public that they are supposed to serve, they need look no further than the Palm Drive Healthcare District Board of Directors.

Gary Harris, Forestville