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Jan 3, 2018


Immigrant Stories

Christopher Kerosky of Immigrant Stories needs to get his facts straight. My son-in-law, a college educated Englishman, who has never broken any of the U.S. Visa rules, has been waiting for over 7 months for a Green Card. We are nearing the end of the process, but will probably be waiting another month or two. Definitely not an easy 6 months!

Perhaps he could have applied from here, but he chose to return to England for the wait because he can only stay 3 months on a Visa to the U.S. I doubt that if he broke our immigration laws he would be getting a Green Card any time soon.

Did Mr. Kerosky just make up his facts?

Christine Philpitt


Dear Ms. Philpitt,

I have represented many thousands of immigrants through the green card process over 25 years, so I can assure you that I did not just “make facts up”. The truth is that persons from the UK and most of Europe do not need a visa to come here (unlike Mexican citizens). When they marry a US citizen, these Europeans are almost always eligible to process for a green card without leaving the country and without a pardon – even if they stayed here illegally and worked here illegally for many years. That’s not true for most Mexican citizens – even those who were brought here as children (not of their own volition).

This green card process for Europeans has taken approximately 6 months for the last 25 years, although it is now taking a few months longer under the Trump Administration. Your son-in-law apparently chose a slightly longer process through the Consulate.

Unlike most Europeans, these young people from Mexico with DACA must apply for an additional discretionary waiver and if denied, are barred from the country for 10 years. They must leave the country and process abroad, even if they get the waiver. Most people would say that’s unfair and that was one of the elements of anti-Mexican bias in the immigration law that was the subject of my article.

The immigration system is broken and it’s important that our society have a fact-based conversation about how to fix it. Even if we disagree about a solution, having a constructive and respectful dialogue about how to do so is preferable.

Christopher Kerosky

Reading the Gazette

Dear  Vesta,

I found, as usual, several articles of particular interest - the opinion column by Robert Sterler, was unique in its idea for housing homeless people - it would give people a sense of contributing to their own sense of worth and build community as well. Although we have been pouring funds toward this problem for years, it has grown worse! 

Then the personal account by Gail Adams of her attendance at the Cannabis Advisory Board meeting which again stressed what my experience has shown - the concerns of ordinary citizens again is ignored by the powers that be. 

And yet another most lovely column “Joy” by Dr. Trapani. I wish I was still able to have pets - he would most certainly be the one to care for them! 

And I haven’t even gotten to more of my favorites, like The Night Sky.

But, also, there are the usual rants about climate change and our overuse of fossil fuels, etc. etc. But the article that got my antenna twitching was the one touting the“young supervisors.” The so-called sea change came in 1976 when Eric Koenigshofer was elected 5th district supervisor by a slim majority and from then on the “old order” was superseded. Let’s see - that means 41 years ago, these young wonders would institute new methods of governing. 

I have been a county resident long enough to know that nothing much has changed for the better - there is more regulation (less individual freedom and responsibility) more things decided by committee (less accountability) and much less civility and courteous behavior. The income gap has worsened, self-reliance has worsened, and as government plays a major role in people’s lives, our ability to make choices has worsened.

But, heck, it’s THE SEASON to rejoice - time to love your fellow man, and put angst aside. So let’s try at least to be kind to each other!


Barbara Cuneo, Santa Rosa

Here we go… take two… Housing Crisis!

Who considers their “home”, in which houses and protects their family as an “accessory” in their life???

What does good ole Merriam-Webster, the American unofficial authority of English language has to say about “accessory units”

Calling them “Accessory” Dwelling Units… is a contradiction to our current housing “crisis”… 

And by considering “affordable housing” as “accessory” to those in need… prior to the fires makes the County and Cities involved an “Accessory to Crime”… Keeping children, women, men and pets without a warm safe place to call “HOME”…

-I AM –Clay InThePottersHands

Wood Smoke

I know wood heat is close to your heart. Burning wood for heat is a practice you regularly promote and defend.

We all seek out facts and perceived rational explanations for what we want to believe.

• Natural gas produces 1% of the particulate emissions that wood does. 28 pounds per million BTUs for wood vs .28 pounds per million BTUs for gas.

  If you don’t live in a forest wood must be acquired from somewhere, using up more energy.

• Trees take a long time to grow; forests all over the globe are being cleared; unfortunate people in the 3rd world travel farther and farther from home to gather the remaining trees and bushes.

• Along with the unpleasantness of smoke on our fellow citizens, burning wood unleashes a number of toxins.

• Saying if everybody burned in the best way things would be good is like saying if everyone drove a Prius everything would be fine. Not gonna happen.

I believe we do not change people’s minds. However, I direct your attention to these two short articles:

Thomas Johnson, Guerneville

A Renewable Heat Source

Trees grow every day - they need tree services to trim the excess. I would not recommend that people burn wood for heat if they cannot source it from a renewable source such as from tree services. Cutting down forests for heat would be counter-productive, as would sourcing wood that needed to be trucked long-distances.

Trees clean our air and provide oxygen, etc. and they are beautiful. They grow and can be used/consumed within a short distance of where they grow.

• Trees use water, but they also generate water because they transpire moisture they pull from the earth and “breathe” it into the air where it creates clouds, which rain upon the earth and the cycle continues.

Aside from smoke when burned, trees have few negative consequences as a heat source - BUT - smoke from improperly burned wood is a health hazard similar to diesel fuel emissions and smoke of any kind. Smoke is particulate matter that harms lungs.

Petroleum products: propane, natural gas, oil, and coal all rely upon natural resources that were produced a very long time ago. They are not renewable and the product consumes energy while being transported long distances from its source to where it is used.

Solar panels require natural resources that come from the earth and the process of turning the resources into solar energy panels has many toxic consequences. And those natural resources and products have to be transported from where they are produced to where they are used.

Wind generators use metals that were created ions ago in the earth. They also take a lot of energy to produce and that energy has to be generated in order for the energy from the wind turbines to be produced. The turbines consume energy while being transported long distances from where they are manufactured to where they are planted in the ground. That energy has to be transmitted from its source to where it is used. Wind farms exist where winds are strong.

Every energy resource has its assets and liabilities - mining - water use - air pollution - energy consumed to create and transport it.

Only solar and wind are clean when they are producing energy.

In that context can you see why I prefer therenewable energy source for heat?

BUT - it HAS to be burned clean. I am as offended by smoke as you are - whether it;s wood burning smoke, cigarette smoke, or burning cannabis leaves. It’s all smoke.

Just like driving a clean vehicle (electric and water-fueled) vs. a dirty one (petroleum fueled), we can CHOOSE which energy source we consume. We have choices in this country - pretty wonderful! ~Vesta

Response to 12/17 Graton Column

I was alerted by someone that some (nastiness) was written about me in theGraton Columnof this month (December). I was somewhat shocked to read what was written. 

Jennifer Butler writes that she asked me monthly for years to clean up “the mess” when Bambu’ was under construction. I remember it very well how ONE DAY she came up to me while I was working in the gardens and blasted me yelling at me about my old truck always being parked there and the mess. 

I apologized to her and tried to talk to her about it but she refused to talk to me and only screamed at me. I remember being so upset I started crying. I remember a neighbor walking by soon after and telling me not to let it bother me and to pay no mind to her. I remember it very well. 

Why Jennifer Butler has a need to write about this and to say nasty things about me I do not understand. I truly apologized then and can apologize again now for things taking a long long time to be finished on my small budget. I did the best I could at the time to create something of beauty that the entire community could enjoy. 

To read the last little dig in the paragraph about hoping that a new restaurant could come in that would CARE about the neighbor’s experience is just complete nastiness.

Thank you to all of you who supported me especially when I lost my restaurant when the new owner bought it to take it over and make his own restaurant. I tried. I feel grateful for what I was able to do with the building and the property when I leased it. 

I put my heart and soul and most of my inheritance into it. I feel grateful for the support and love I had with the neighbors. 

Thank you.  Life is short. There are good things to write about. Must we do it by putting someone down? I feel sad and disappointed for this. 

Jessica Barrilleaux, Proprietress of Bambu’ Tea House

Jessica what you say is simply untrue. I don’t have the same experience as you and I don’t want to embarrass you further by giving my version in the public paper.

Regardless your good intentions, every day for years and years, you had a mess. In spite of your efforts to bring a space that the community could enjoy, you didn’t notice or care that your space was filthy. I know it’s tempting to be the victim, but what about me and the other neighbors who had to see this lack of consideration and respect everyday?

Horse trailer, garbage bags, piles of lumber, etc.  And it’s not just you, Jessica, but what about the owners of the property.... Why didn’t they feel inclined to keep it clean as a leasing requirement?

I worked extremely hard to be a homeowner in Sonoma County. Not easy for ANYONE, especially an only parent. I pay over $7,000. a year in property taxes. Every penny I earn at my 60-plus hours a week job goes into this house built over 100 years ago.

But you don’t think I have the right to be upset when, for over 8 years, I drive home to see a mess? I wouldn’t make a mess in anyone’s neighborhood and not expect them to be upset.

If you are really confused about it, you are welcome to contact me directly rather than make false public statements.

~ Jennifer Butler, Feeling Graton

Thank you so much for listing “Holiday on Florence” in your holiday shopping guide! We had visitors tell us they found us in the Gazette listing. Your paper is a local treasure!

The Uniform Statutory Form Power of Attorney: How Useful is It?

I just read this article on your website. One key issue that you did not address at all is that MANY banks will literally not follow a Durable Power of Attorney!

I have had massive problems dealing with my aunt’s accounts, especially at Bank of America. First, it took BofA weeks to review and approve the DPOA and even then they simply would not allow me to do things specifically called out in the DPOA. I should be able to do ANYTHING (listed in the DPOA) exactly as my aunt does, but BOFA says it is not their company policy to let me.

Whereas it is my understanding that the California Statutory Form Power of Attorney says that they MUST allow me to do things exactly as if my aunt was doing them and specifies legal penalties if they fail to do so.

Also, as the Statutory Form POA is a standard form so all legal departments will have already reviewed, so they should be able to VERY quickly approve its use as they don’t have to read through a long, custom POA document.

I do not doubt that a custom DPOA may be better in many circumstances.

I am just pointing out that the Statutory form has its own distinct advantages.

I am not a lawyer, though I have been in business for 40+ years and negotiated many, many legal contracts.

I was simply appalled by BofA’s complete disregard of the DPOA language.

Thank you, Bryan Diehl


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