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LETTERS to Sonoma County Gazette READERS - February 2017


LETTERS to Sonoma County Gazette READERS
February 2017

Thank You Sonoma County Gazette

I’m writing with a simple and heartfelt THANK YOU to Vesta Copestakes and everyone who creates, works for or any in any way supports the Sonoma County Gazette. 

It can be too easy to take even meaningful things for granted and I want to let you know how very much I value and appreciate the amazing community resource the Gazette truly is! Each month the Gazette generously provides opportunities for community education on important and timely issues, information about organizations and services, loads of community event listings and other ways to connect and engage. 

You reach out and give voice to people throughout Sonoma County as well as the many smaller local communities and diverse interests in our community. I realize how much I value and look forward to the new issue every month and wanted to send along this message of appreciation and gratitude. Thank you! Thank you!

Juliana Balistreri, Rohnert Park


Can We Choose NOT to Treat an Illness? 

Thank you Kira!  Honestly...I didn’t know I could do this until you wrote about it.  I feel very strongly that I do not want to be a burden to my family.  I also do not want to suffer through the end stages of dementia or a disease that is a death sentence.  I believe that being able to choose NOT to be treated for treatable illnesses is a loving, wonderful plan that leads to shortened suffering.  I will want some pain meds to stay as comfortable as possible but otherwise I will be letting nature take it’s course!!  Thank you!

Kim Mattis


Destructive Impact of Methamphetamine

Vesta, in reading the January issue of the Gazette I was surprised not to see mention of the destructive attack the night of December 19th at Cardinal Newman High School. I know the paper is not a daily, but on review it would perhaps have been a good chance to show how destructive methamphetamine can be in our society, leading a 23 year old resident of Guerneville, with no connection to our school, to cause significant damage in a short time before being stopped by firefighters and Sheriff’s deputies. 

While we have fixed most things, the statue will take time, he is the most broken thing in this tale and needs care and support. I also noticed that Larkfield, Mark West, Wikiup seems to be a less covered spot so wondered if it falls into the sphere of one of your regular writers. Supervisor Gore is our rep, but his shorter comments may have been written before, and there was more on Carillo’s term ending. 

Graham Rutherford, Santa Rosa

Thanks for your input Graham,

The Gazette does not have reporters - we have readers who keep us informed of ways in which we can make our community a better place to live. The Press Democrat does a very good job of reporting news, both positive and negative. So the Gazette needs to fulfill a different function in people’s lives. Many years ago I wrote about the destructive influence of meth on our children, and any time someone wants to write on this subject, I welcome the article. I hate to see people give their brains and their lives to destructive drugs, alcohol, tobacco and anything addictive that takes control of their behavior. I will never understand losing control to a substance.

As to the community of Larkfield/Wikiup - if someone comes forward to write a column, I’d welcome it. It’s a large community and could use some local recognition. James Gore writes when he has time, and Lynda Hopkins will be taking over the Our County column, so will be covering supervisors issues. But it takes a person immersed in his/her local community to write our town columns. Not easy to find. If you know someone capable of making this commitment - please send him/her my way!

Thanks for reading and please - if you want to write in this subject - feel free. The Gazette is written by readers. ~ Vesta

Greetings Vesta and Happy Birthday Louise Hallberg!

Thanks for your optimistic update on our current state of affairs.

I tend to live in the world of unintended consequences.…

…have been trying to make sense of my ‘time served’ in Americorps (1998 vintage), numerous Community Involvement projects (SRJC) and other venues along the way...

While recovery of those memories that have been slammed by the whimsy of Mother Nature (living downstream in our coastal desert/tropical rain forest terrain) is a daunting process, I have learned to listen deeply for the simple voice of my father to come through all the noise. It doesn’t matter so much what you call IT...climate change is a fact of life.

I have been on a mission to revive and cherish those bright spots that I have overlooked. “Where ever you go, there you are.”

Linda R. Picton, WTP II,alias ANT Buddy - VISTA VET
Feminist Advocacy Group, an innocent project



Family Needs Help

Our precious daughter, Nina, has been courageously battling cancer for 6 years. The fight is getting tougher & tougher. Please pray for a miracle. Her husband Jon, is taking family leave time off work to care for her at a 15% decrease in pay. Their rent has increased $1000, they now pay $2400.(no rent control in Sonoma County) They are in desperate need of financial assistance. If you are willing & able, please send a donation to Jon Mikolasko at PO Box 6707, Santa Rosa, CA 95406. Please pass this on to anyone you think might be able to help. This is not an actual event~it is a personal request for donations. (GoFundMe takes a percentage off the top). THANK YOU SO MUCH.

George & Mary Gosiak


Trash Service Discrepancies

Thank you, Randy Tudor, for pointing out trash service discrepancies in our county. The Ratto Group is clearly all about profit, not service. When I lived in Forestville, my service was half the cost and double the amounts of allowed trash picked up—to say nothing of the fact that we have no green-bin service here at all (north of Occidental). And this year, we were hit with a 40% price increase. Then there was the county-wide removal of all but two recycling stations that took glass, aluminum and plastic. In a county that values clean air quality (yes, I burn because I have to) and “green” living practices, surely our representatives can find a better company for our waste-disposal needs.

Carolyn Sel

THANK YOU Forestville

I wanted to take this opportunity to thank the following businesses that participated in this winter’s Holiday Window Painting fundraiser for the Forestville Education Foundation, which raises money for the arts and other enrichment programs at Forestville School and Academy: Event sponsors Karol Scheiner, DDS and Paul Hobbs Winery, Bauer Associates, Carr’s Drive In, Forestville Pharmacy, Forestville Pizzeria, Ideal Hardware, Mark Sever, MSPT, Nightingale Breads, Sequoia Properties and Sunshine Coffee Roasters. These businesses and the many others that support vital programs for our children, demonstrate what a terrific community we have here in Forestville. With the support of these businesses, as well as family and staff volunteers from the school, we kicked off the holiday season in a true spirit of community and celebration. We hope everyone enjoyed the festive windows!  Thank you all for keeping this tradition alive and for supporting your local school!

Eleanor Gorman
Past President & Holiday Window Painting Coordinator
Forestvile Education Foundation

Homeless: Not Against the Law


On January 10th I filed a grievance with the City of Santa Rosa, The Mayor and City Council, charging that the current anti-camping ordnance directly violates the civil rights of the homeless THAT ARE COMMITTING NO OTHER violations OF ANY OTHER ORDNANCE’S .

The United States Department of Justice has stated in no uncertain terms that to harass, intimate or arrest displaced people ( homeless ) for doing nothing more than what is humanly needed to exist as such when there is a valid lack of affordable housing and shelter space (both present in Santa Rosa and Sonoma County) it is a direct violation of the 8th amendment protection from cruel and unusual punishment.

This has as well been a shared view of many recent court cases from Idaho to California as well as other states .

The issue is now effecting a vast range of our communities residents and there needs to be radical approaches in order to realistically impact this issue as a whole .

The current version of this ordnance is illegal on its face and in it’s stated application. It forces people (such as myself) to commit criminal behavior they would not otherwise do and in effect being a punitive unjust ordnance.

I have as well asked as a redress and relief that the City implement a self governing safe environment encampment as a pilot project ... And to simply provide a space ( the City owned lot at West Collage and Stoney Point ) 2 to 3 porta potties and a dumpster with service .... And per the current ordnance the City has the power to do this tomorrow ....

This is an avenue that needs to be utilized now.

Mikeal OToole / Founder Camp Michela / Santa Rosa Poverty Department / The Homeless Link

Optimism Issue 


What a wonderful issue.  It has already inspired me to get behind education, in a personal way.  I really enjoy your publication and read every issue. 

I only have one comment to make on Duane DeWitt’s column this time around.  He wrote about a tragic incident that happened to Alfred Lemay.  His comment, IHHO was “Kill a biker and go to jail”  In my humble opinion that was uncalled for.  We do not know all the details of this tragic incident and this sort of hyperbole just riles everybody up.  Otherwise his column was worth reading.

 Keep up the good journalism!

 Moira Sornstein


Living with Redwoods


I was reading an article on your website by Matt Banchero about “Living with Redwoods” (3/1/16) which addressed trimming and pruning Redwoods.  I would like to trim a Redwood tree in our yard and have been told that they should not be pruned during the rainy season. There are already several branches that have broken off during the recent storms and I was hoping to do the pruning in the near future.  In your knowledge, is it unwise to prune / trim Redwood trees during the rainy season?

Mark Hesher

Hello Mark,

For Redwoods it makes no difference what season you prune them.  Trees that loose their leaves, fruit trees and oaks that get sudden oak death all have seasonal pruning windows, pines need to be pruned in the cold season so they don’t bleed but, Redwoods can be pruned any time.  

Matt Banchero 707-921-9217

Tracking Wild Animals on a Mountain Bike


Great, informative article. Can sense your love for both biking and tracking. Wonderful that you found a way to combine the two. 

Connie Manson

Strident and Gregious


There is much to enjoy in the January Gazette:  “The Family Pet”, “Night Sky”, and the article by Don McEnhill, but the views of many readers and correspondents have become more strident and egregious after the election.  

There seems little hope for any dialogue with the progressives - it’s either their way or no way.  They can’t seem to admit that Hilllary was such a flawed candidate that many chose what they saw as the lesser of  two evils.  

To be labeled racist, bigoted, anti this or that is to completely misunderstand the sentiment of those who chose Trump.  Many of us are  tired of political correctness so that sexual orientation, race and gender have become issues.  

What ever happened to the idea that all people be treated  equally and fairly.  Perhaps I am too naïve, but when I grew up  we had friends of all ethnicity.  We never thought of them as victims, but as equals.  Now,  we have to make amends to everyone  considered a victim.  That makes for a very polarized community, as evidenced by our present situation.

There are several bright spots:  topping the list, Vesta’s optimism and reference to the old adage, “To treat others as you wish to be treated.”  Lyndi Brown, the Penngrove correspondent, cites the Dalai Lama: “Choose to be optimistic, it feels better.”  Finally, Supervisor Gore, after the usual pathos about the election results and loss of government funding, has to admit “he has often found that thriving communities were self-reliant, whereas declining communities were government reliant..”  Isn’t that what community is all about?

Barbara Cuneo

Fluoride Free Water


Can you give a clearer explanation of what the paragraph below means. You say the CDA funded both campaigns, to keep fluoridation, but aren’t the two campaigns to aide removing fluoride? By swamping contributions, do you mean they paid more money? Why would that make any difference, if the overall campaign was to remove fluoride?

In the 2014 Measure M campaign to stop fluoridation, and the 2016 Measure T campaign to require safety-related information on Healdsburg’s fluoridation chemical, the California Dental Association (CDA), almost exclusively, funded both campaigns to keep fluoridation, swamping the many small local contributions for safe water.

Can you also tell me what the original wording of Measure T was and what the Council substituted. 


Roger, thank you for your thoughtful questions about recent Healdsburg water fluoridation ballot measures, as discussed in the January 2017 Sonoma County Gazette article, “Fluoride-Free Water Closer Than Ever.” Your questions, and the answers, are here. If there are other questions, please let me know; I’ll do my best to answer them.

Warm regards, Carol Goodwin Blick, Clean Water Sonoma-Marin

Q: “You say the CDA funded both campaigns to keep fluoridation, but aren’t the two campaigns to aid removing fluoride? Why would that make any difference, if the overall campaign was to remove fluoride?”

A:  There was no “overall campaign to remove fluoride” for two reasons: first, each of these ballot measures represents two campaigns, a campaign to vote YES, and a campaign to vote NO; and, second, only Ballot Measure P (2014) was specifically about keeping or stopping Healdsburg water fluoridation.

Healdsburg Ballot Measure T (2016) was not for or against water fluoridation. Instead,  Measure T required a YES vote to obtain safety-related information from the manufacturer of Healdsburg’s fluoridation chemical, including a statement that Healdsburg’s fluoridated water is safe for all consumers, with a fluoridation moratorium (suspension) until the information was provided. “Healdsburg for Yes on Measure T” campaigned for the measure. “NO on T - Save Our Smiles” campaigned against.

Q: “By swamping [the many small, mostly local contributions for safe water], do you mean [the California Dental Association] paid more money?” 

A: Yes. Here are the figures from the Healdsburg Campaign Contribution Disclosure Reports:

MEASURE P (2014) was sponsored by two Healdsburg residents; “The Committee for NO on Measure P” was supported by dozens of individual donations of money and services totaling just $16,484. On the other side,  “YES on P - Save Our Smiles” was entirely sponsored and funded by the California Dental Association (CDA), which contributed a total of $63,312 to keep Healdsburg water fluoridated.

MEASURE T (2016) was sponsored by three Healdsburg residents; the “Healdsburg for Yes on Measure T” campaign was funded by many donations in money and services, totaling $16,531. CDA was the sole sponsor of the “NO on  T - Save Our Smiles” campaign and, except for a $100 contribution from a single individual, CDA funded the entire campaign, donating $45,531 to defeat Measure T, preventing Healdsburg from requiring the safety-related information from the fluoridation chemical manufacturer.

Q: “Can you...tell me what the original wording of Measure T was and what the Council substituted.”

A: A: Three versions of Measure T, original, substitute, and final, follow brief background information about the State Election Code and changes to the 2014 ballot measure text.

According to the California State Election Code (section 9215), to qualify a measure for a municipal (city) ballot, signatures are gathered on an initiative petition. To qualify for the Healdsburg ballot, the initiative petition must be signed by 10% or more of registered voters living within the city limits, and the signatures verified by the County Registrar of Voters.

When an initiative petition has enough verified signatures, the City Clerk presents it to the City Council, which has two legal choices: 1)  it can adopt the measure, “without alteration,” or 2) it can place the measure on the ballot, “without alteration,” to allow the voters to decide.

In 2014 Healdsburg voters qualified the following for the ballot: “1. The induction of fluoridation chemicals into Healdsburg municipal water shall cease permanently on the passage of this measure by a majority of the City’s voters. 2. All City ordinances authorizing fluoridation, or in support or implementation of fluoridation of shall be repealed.” The voter-qualified language would have required a YES vote to stop Healdsburg water fluoridation.

Instead of adopting the measure as written, or placing it on the ballot without alteration as the State Election Code directs, in a unanimous vote, the Healdsburg City Council altered the voter-qualified language to: “Shall the City of Healdsburg continue to fluoridate its water?”and placed its version on the November 2014 ballot as Measure P. The new wording required a NO vote to stop water fluoridation, and YES to keep it. An argument might have been made that the City Council change violated the “without alteration” clause but, in 2014, the change went unchallenged.

In 2016, Healdsburg registered voters qualified the following for the ballot: “Shall the City of Healdsburg institute a moratorium on all municipal water fluoridation until such time as the manufacturer supplying the fluoridating chemical provides to the public 1) an accurate list of all contaminants and their amounts accompanying each batch sold to Healdsburg, 2) a detailed toxicological report on the fluoridating chemical, and 3) a written statement verifying the chemical’s safety for ingestion by all water consumers, once introduced into the water supply?”

The Healdsburg City Council rejected the qualified wording and, in a clearly illegal action, by a 4-1 vote, approved the following to replace it: “MEASURE: FLUORIDATION OF WATER SUPPLY Shall the City of Healdsburg stop fluoridating its water supply? YES NO” 

The City Council’s new wording was so completely unrelated to the intent of the original that initiative supporters filed suit to prevent the change. Even with an amicus curiae brief from the CDA in support of the City Council language, the judge ruled against it, and held the City of Healdsburg responsible for all court costs.

The court mandated the following, which appeared on the November 2016 Healdsburg ballot as Measure T: “Shall the City of Healdsburg institute a moratorium on water fluoridation in the city until such time as the manufacturer of the fluoridating chemical provides information regarding the identification of any contaminants in the fluoridating chemical batch, and a toxicological report and verification of safety for the fluoridating chemical?”

Dawna Gallagher-Stroeh, 
Executive Director of Clean Water Sonoma-Marin (501c4) and Clean Water Sonoma-Marin Charitable Trust,