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LETTERS to Sonoma County Gazette READERS - April 2016


LETTERS to Sonoma County Gazette READERS - April 2016

Our readers let us know what's on their minds.....Please send LETTERS to


In the March 2016 letters section, we printed a memo from Sonoma West Medical Center CEO Ray Hino criticizing a news story printed in Sonoma West Times & News. Subsequently, Mr. Hino agreed that the story was largely accurate, except for misstating the number of SWMC employees, and that the memo was intended to be an internal document reassuring employees that SWMC was not fearful of bankruptcy. Sonoma West Times & News issued a correction and also stated that the headline for the story, which referred to a potential bankruptcy, was misleading.

We apologize for any problems this caused Sonoma West Publishers and Sonoma West Medical Center and Foundation.

Vesta Copestakes, publisher


Can I sign up for your free online distribution of the Sonoma  County Gazette.....please?!

Lloma Alameda

It’s ALL FREE - the paper - the website - you want it - it’s yours...simple as that - Just one thing - the Gazette is PAID FOR by our avertisers, so if you enjoy the Gazette, please do business with the people who support our paper...our ADVERTISERS... THANK YOU!

Count Blessings 

Thank you for a moving article about the homeless in Healdsburg, Vesta. I appreciate the time and effort you put into both visiting and to shining a light on the “invisible” who live with us. 

Ann Carranza


I came across this page of your website – Lend a Hand – VOLUNTEER and noticed that you are linking to Santa Rosa Catholic Charities Rural Food Program among other resources for the homeless. I wanted to thank you for these efforts – this is a mission I am deeply involved in as well. 

I wanted to suggest an addition to your page. Homeless individuals face unique challenges with mental health, addiction and recovery.

While there are many addiction resources available, none of them are comprehensive and specifically tailored to homeless individuals. After research across the resources available on the web, the American Addiction Center (AAC) team noticed the absence of a centralized resource designed to help understand the basics of mental health, alcohol use and addiction among the homeless and to offer guidance on navigating support systems. They decided to fill this gap of knowledge.

The result is this page:

This page summarizes available governmental, organizational and other resources and makes them easily accessible to those searching for assistance. It include dozens citations of the latest research studies and external resources for homeless individuals seeking mental health and addiction help. 

We hope that the quality of this page and the importance of the subject matter merits inclusion on your page alongside the other resources you have provided – or elsewhere on your website.

Ashley Knowles

This is very enlightening – thank you. The page you referred to is for VOLUNTEER Opportunities and is looking for people to help with our Rural Food Program – BUT – we also have Resources for Living where I have posted your information under SAFE Haven programs. 

Your site has information on HUDs programs and more – THANK YOU – there is much valuable information here. So we now have a LINK on our website under Resources for Living: 

Evaluating an Individual’s Treatment Needs - Addiction Among The Homeless Population

Federal Housing Resources Guide: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development publishes this guide to publicly supported housing opportunities and federal funding programs for Americans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. 

Housing First: Pathways to HousingThe “Housing First” model was developed to address the need for safe, supportive shelter among homeless people with chronic mental illness and substance use disorders. Unlike other housing models, Housing First takes the approach that homeless people who are actively abusing substances or who have serious mental illness should be provided with a place to live in order to benefit from treatment.

Mental Health America (MHA): This community-based nonprofit organization has branches across the country that provide support, advocacy, and assistance for people with mental illness. Resources on affordable housing, homelessness, and affordable mental health treatment are available on their website or through local MHA groups.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), “Securing Housing”: NAMI offers a number of informational resources for people seeking help with homelessness, substance abuse, and psychiatric disorders. This guide provides advice on the types of housing available, how to find financial support for housing, and what to look for in a transitional or permanent dwelling.

National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH): This national network of organizations, volunteers, and policymakers provides advocacy, outreach, and support for homeless Americans. Homeless individuals are actively engaged in NCH efforts to improve their lives and ensure affordable, secure housing.

Department of Veterans Affairs: Mental Health Services for Veterans:

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers mental health services for homeless veterans, including a 24-hour telephone helpline, the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans: 1-877-424-3838. 


Elena Ferrante  Book Review

As a retired English teacher of about forty years, I have had some experience with books, readers, and writers.  When an attack on a book critic becomes an insult with Common Core ramblings, we are in the area of ridiculous.

Granted Elena Ferrante has been praised highly.  I looked forward to reading her books and I was disappointed.  Characters usually use dialogue to move the action forward and to wrestle with solving the plot.  Ms. Ferrante uses an abundance of narration which leads to slow progress and boredom as the reader is not invited into the story.

Ms. McCurdy takes an unpopular stand when she questions the writings of Elena Ferrante, but that doesn’t give anyone the right to make snide and snotty comments to make a point.

MJS Devereux, Santa Rosa, CA


 No Manners for YOU!

 I believe The Seinfeld Show created a societal atmosphere allowing for the rise of Donald Trump. While, at first bite, this seems unpalatable, consider the character traits turned into euphemism by Jerry’s sidekicks. There are too many to mention but let’s start with George. George said and did things, and convinced Jerry to go along like in the rye bread episode, no American citizen could mimic without becoming social outcasts. Forever.

Along comes Trump and we think of George and his big mouth and his big ideas. Idiotic ideas. One down.

 Next we have Kraemer, who shatters one of mankind’s most treasured truism, the emperor has no clothes. Although Trump’s followers can’t see this truth as of yet, the reason may be Kraemer parading around one of the remarkably ugly bodies known to science. But he was funny and funny always gets you off.

And Elaine. Little Elaine with the morals of a trumpet. Elaine made it with everyone, even Jerry, and she always seemed to drag the lot of them into sordid affairs.

All these taboos of American good manners were shattered by Jerry and his group of writers but none were more important to set the ball rolling for the Trump golden presidential carriage than their coup de gras.

The Soup Nazi.

Jim Kelly, Sebastopol


 Glyphosates - Roundup

I saw in the Argus Courier that the Petaluma Grange had a forum on  glyphosates.  I wish I could have attended, but unfortunately I had a commitment to teach that night. 

I would like to keep informed as I believe I lost my otherwise very healthy husband to RoundUp.  He used it unprotected for 22 years, then passed very quickly from pancreatic cancer.  I myself feared the material, preferring to weed by finger.  We worked our business side by side for decades and ate the same vegan food, and I remain very healthy today. 

Thank the Grange for holding this forum.

Nancy Chien-Eriksen


 Coastal Commissioners 

Please bring this letter to the attention of whoever is in charge of making up the deficit of $34,000 that is reportedly driving the California Coastal Commission to impose fees along our Sonoma County coast.

I’m not rich but I did earn a good retirement from Kaiser and am ready to tap my earnings in order to buy some time for the state to look at more socially-inclusive and autonomous Sonoma County actions on this issue.

I have tried to e-mail the Coastal Commissioners but they do not give out their e-mail addresses.

They are holding a meeting in Santa Rosa on April 13-15 and I would like for them not to have to worry about this agenda item.

Laura Morgan, MD, Occidental

Yes, the Sonoma County Meeting is slated for April 13. You can also MAIL your letter to:

Nancy Cave 
California Coastal Commission 
45 Fremont Street Suite 2000
San Francisco, CA 94105
or EMAIL it to her at:

Here’s what I sent in:

Dear Nancy Cave and the Coastal Commission,

I have an idea that I think could raise money to maintain our most popular beaches while benefitting local artists and artisans along the California Coast. 

Instead of IRON RANGERS, use that location for a Portable Merchant Trailer.

The trailer would be a small store on wheels so it does not have to remain at the beach entrance every day and night. It can be brought home at night and during days when selling goods would be difficult because of bad weather or poor beach attendance. Small trailers that can be pulled behind a pickup truck would suffice.

The trailer would sell items where a percentage of sales would go to maintain the staff of the trailer and the trailer itself, the artists who supply the goods to be sold - and the State Beach it is supporting. This would function i the same way a Visitors Center functions but be small and portable. It could be set up next to restrooms just as easily as at the entrance to a beach park.

ITEMS SOLD could be:

• post cards and greeting cards of images created by local photographers and artists of our beautiful coast, critters, etc.

• Jewelry that features coast, beach, sea life themes

• stuffed animals of coastal critters

• wind mobiles of coastal critters

• books on sea life, coastal restoration, etc. with educational content

• maps and guides to beach access, trails, etc.

• binoculars and other ways to see distant sea life

• puzzles and games of coastal images

• kites and wind toys

• souvenirs

The trailer would take up about the same about of space as an iron ranger

Because it would be staffed and removed at night it would not be subject to vandalism

It would allow beach access to EVERYONE yet people who have money and desire to purchase the goods would be paying the fees to keep the park maintained.

I doubt anyone would have objections to this way of raising money. It would provide one or more local jobs, support local artists and promote coastal environmental awareness. I think this could be a win/win for everyone.

In Sonoma County this could probably be run by the Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods who already run two Visitors Centers and a mobile educational truck.

Please consider this option for supporting our FREE Beaches.

Vesta Copestakes, Forestville, Sonoma County beach lover


 Leftover Opiates? 

Please see the SafeMed Disposal program in Sonoma County.  Lots of great, free locations to get rid of unused medications!

The toilet, while recommended by the DEA is not recommended locally as our waste treatment systems are not designed to treat medications specifically.

James A. Hiller, Environmental Services Technician
City of Petaluma
(707) 656-4067


 SB 1250, the 911 Emergency Reliability & Public Safety Act

State Senator McGuire has requested support for SB 1250, the 911 Emergency Reliability and Public Safety Act .  Currently telecommunication carriers are required to report outages when they reach certain federal thresholds of disruption, which make sense in urban areas, but not in rural areas.  Sparse populations mean that outages, including loss of 911, go unreported for significant periods of time.    

SB 1250 specifically requires carriers to: inform the CPUC, county and state Offices of Emergency Service (OES) within 30 minutes of outages that last 30 minutes or longer in duration, or have the potential to affect 75,000 user minutes in rural areas of the state; provide the CPUC and Cal OES a secondary more detailed report within 120 minutes and; provide a detailed summary of the outage to the CPUC within 20 days, and what steps are being taken to avoid similar outages in the future.

This bill is an important step for Mendocino County, in our efforts to minimize the impacts of outages and hold the carriers to a higher degree of accountability. Please consider taking the time to write a letter which you can send via email to McGuire’s Legislative Director Matthew Montgomery:  Please cc Trish Steel at

See this link to view a copy of the Alliance’s support letter

See this website for information

The bill has a Senate hearing in the Energy, Utilities, and Commerce committee on April 5th.  A letter of support will have more impact if received before the hearing.

Diann Simmons
Broadband Alliance


Tragic Death  of Steven Mitchell

The death of the lawyer Steven Mitchell is a tragedy on so many levels.

We know that he had defended the police, and by extension the state, in two cases in which a child was murdered by the police. 

In both cases the evidence against the police was staggering, the families devastated, and the public outcry was loud and clear. 

Not that the agents of the state cared, but they did have to listen to keep that veneer of democracy polished.

For what reason we can never know for sure, but Steven did take his own life. It begs the question; could he no longer fulfill this awful function for the state?

To never acknowledge guilt, to never ask for forgiveness, to lie, these are the symptoms of a disease of the soul, the souls of the police whom Steven defended. Steven Mitchell probably believed he was doing his job to the best of his ability, and by the standards he lived within, I am sure he did. But in the end could he live with it?

The work of prosecution and defense in our justice system needs to find its moral compass again. The whole process must be ethical or none of it is. We know these stories of Jeremiah Chass, and Andy Lopez, the children who were murdered. The agony of the families continues.

We must find a way as a community to stop our police from becoming militarized to the point that they are now the enemy to be feared.

Nothing new by the way for black and brown sisters and brothers; every day of their lives they have felt the cold eye of the cops on their backs.

May his painful choice and our willingness to own a part in the pain of all involved, crack open the hearts of people here in Sonoma county. For this is our story, too. He was doing the work of justifying murder to maintain the pretense of justice in this county.

He gave himself back to the ocean, to mingle his salty tears with hers.

May he find peace, may we all.

Magick Altman, Sebastopol


I’m With Hillary

There are many, many Hillary supporters in Sonoma County. A local group is based in Sebastopol called West Sonoma County/Sebastopol for Hillary (

Our phone banks are nearly every week. There is no experience necessary and we train. No one is pushed to do it every time. 

I have grown to really love talking to people all over the country to listen to their distinct views. I never thought I knew enough to do this. But once I start talking to people about the values we share – healthcare, enough income to feel secure, the environment, women’s rights – the conversations turn out to actually be fun. 

If you are wanting to make a difference in the 2016 election, go to our Facebook page ( to see what we are doing.

Janet Zagoria, Forestville


 OPEN LETTER to Pacific Market

Congratulations on acquiring yet another store to expand offerings to your customers. I am concerned that your plans would eliminate Cheekos.  They have been here for 22 years - and have been successful!  Cheekos casual, friendly ambience, and great conversation, is  something that can not be replicated.

I would like to suggest that instead of eliminating Cheekos, you supplement it.  Offer what they do not.  Think of something that is not now offered in this part of town.  Print discount coupons that Cheekos might give their customers.  Create a pleasant outside area to stop and sit in a busy day of errands.  I delight in hearing sounds of music wafting in the air.  I appreciate that street musicians are allowed to play there.  Perhaps invite and encourage even more musicians.

I believe local people would commend you for honoring and working with a small, local, long-standing, successful business.

Paula Swanson, Sebastopol