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LETTERS June 2020

Jun 3, 2020


First from out publisher,

Dear Readers,

I’m supposed to light-heartedly send you on joy rides to SAFELY get you out of your Shelter-in-Place restless mind, yet all I can think of is the stress our country is going through because of the actions of people who don’t have the welfare of others top-of-mind.

Do Unto Others as you would have them Do Unto You!!

It doesn’t get any more simple than that. It’s called the Golden Rule. 

My heart HURTS for every injustice one person inflicts on another. 

How beautiful life would be if every person lived by the Golden Rule. 

STOP…think before you act. 

STOP…think before hurtful words leave your mouth.

Signs along the roadside that say Spread KINDNESS, not COVID-19. YES! 

Over the weekend I am going to press people are demonstrating for what we have been demonstrating for as long as I can remember. JUSTICE.

If you go back into history you see these demonstrations over and over. I do  not feel hopeless that change cannot come for humanity. I have seen immense change over my lifetime. 

Even watching the space launch, I see black scientists working side-by-side with people of all colors. That was not possible when I was a child.

Watching law enforcement leaders speak at press conferences, I see leaders of color calmly enforcing the laws they pledged to honor while anger and hatred hits the streets. These leaders represent people who are victims of injustice. Their job is to calmly lead us through and out of this mess. 

I am reading a marvellous book... Life on Two levels, an autobiography by Josephine Duveneck that I found on a stack of free books. Josephine was born into white privilege yet, even at an early age, she knew the cloak her family wanted her to wear did not fit. She chose to help people who fell victim to injustice. Decade after decade she volunteered her time, energy, and intelligence to finding ways to feed, clothe, educate, and empower people who were literally caged within the structures of society. 

She was their key through the gate, working with other like-minded individuals who cared with their hearts, minds, and energy. She helped people climb out of being victims into becoming powerful leaders.

There are many Josephines working quietly to help others. They don’t want a spotlight shined on them. They want the light on the people they are helping so they can see their way to a better future. 

We all need Josephines who help build a better world. 

People with empathy, compassion, and motivation. 

My optimism allows me to see light come from this darkness. 

Another level of awareness to effect change. Please.... 


County Sheriff defies public health order

So, County Sheriff Mark Essick gets to decide which regulations (laws) and directives he wants to enforce or not. This is precisely what his very public defiance (Facebook posting) of County Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase’s public health order is. All Sheriff’s Essick’s protestations about being “bullied” and not a part of these public health decisions is pure nonsense and egoic lame excuses. 

Since when do police get to decide which laws they’ll enforce? Does the public have this option and if not, why not? Is that the new legal system, as voiced and demonstrated by Donald Trump time and again? Where is Essick going in this power-play with elected county officials? Is he looking for some kind of national recognition by the MAGA crowd? Is he auditioning for Trump? 

If the Sheriff can decide what he’ll do or not do in this regard, or any law or regulation he happens not to like, then the County of Sonoma and the public have no control, restraint or accountability over those who police them.  

That is in essence a police state. Essick should go.

— Will Shonbrun, Sonoma,

Enforcement of Public Health Order

We have all been doing a delicate dance on the head of a pin as we watch the impact of COVID-19 on our community – both with regard to infection as well as the impact on our economy.

Unlike the fires and power outages, there seems to be no clear signal that will allow us to resume our lives. We are adjusting to new protocols as we continue to wait and slowly explore safe opportunities. 

On Monday, June 1st, the Superior Court will open all criminal courtrooms, bringing hundreds of involved parties to a courthouse which has been all but empty these last few months. While anxiety is high, extensive preparations have been made, and every possible tool in the toolbox is being utilized to ensure citizens have safe access to justice.

To add to the confusion and fear, our Sheriff has now said he will no longer enforce the Public Health Order. Yes, it is difficult to enforce and at times may seem arbitrary. That said, the Sheriff and I both know our role is not to make policy but to enforce the rules. We can play an effective role in developing policy, but at the end of the day, our primary responsibility lies with the enforcement of those rules.

Because the Sheriff’s position is at odds with other law enforcement agencies and creates unnecessary inconsistent messages throughout the county, I feel compelled to remind the public that ultimately the decision to file criminal charges lies with the office of the District Attorney. I am trained in law not science, and will rely upon the experts to navigate a safe path forward for us through this time. Thus, I will work with other law enforcement and community leaders to educate, and where necessary, enforce the orders issued by our Public Health Officer. 

I am hopeful we can continue this journey in a reasonable and responsible manner, watching out for each other while putting the smallest number of people at risk.  We are tired, scared and worried, but we are resilient and we must be vigilant. Rather than arguing about rules and orders, let’s keep the focus on saving lives.

— Jill Ravitch, 

Sonoma County District Attorney

Returning to NORMAL

During a recent zoom gathering, my granddaughter Katie suddenly said, “I wish things would return to normal.” After the meeting I reflected on what was normal before the pandemic.  

$730 billion dollars allocated to defense, a big portion going to upgrading our nuclear arsenal.  Anyone know of a bomb that can be dropped to stop the virus, I don’t.

We have a program that has been drastically cut and Trump budget chief holds firm on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cuts amid the corona virus outbreak. 

To me it’s obvious. because of the cuts we were not prepared and as a result,  we do not have   enough ventilators, masks or protective gear for our nurses and doctors who have use  garbages bag for protection.  What would our world be like if they all got the virus.

We fear words like social democracy which supports the idea of, “We the People,” being the highest priority  Many believe, “We are the greatest country in the world, we are number one.”  That’s interesting, sounds like a self-fulfilling prophecy.  We are number one; we have the highest amount of new cases and new deaths

Our priorities need to be revaluated NOW. 

— Elaine B. Holtz, Santa Rosa

Eviction Ban Demystified: Resources for Landlords & Tenants 

I appreciate the author’s knowledge and the effort to give both tenants and landlords information about the new housing regulations related to COVID-19. There is however, some additional information that may be helpful. 

The past few months have brought great uncertainty to all of us. Legal Aid’s clients represent the most vulnerable in our community. We represent seniors, people of color, people with disabilities, and low-income families. Many of these members of our community were living on a month-to-month basis before the public health crisis. 

Now faced with sudden unemployment or unexpected medical bills, these populations are the most vulnerable to housing insecurity and even homelessness. 

Here are some key facts that tenants should keep in mind during this unprecedented time: 

• Tenants are protected from eviction until 90 days after the Governor lifts the State of Emergency. Tenants are still required to pay rent during this time, but they cannot be evicted for failure to do so. 

• Even though you cannot be evicted right now because that requires a court process that has been temporarily suspended, your landlord can still give you a notice to pay rent or to terminate your tenancy for a lawful reason. The landlord can use this notice to start the eviction process 90 days after the State of Emergency is lifted. However, if you receive a notice, you do not need to move now. 

• If you cannot pay rent because you are affected by COVID-19, you should gather documentation like a pay stub or medical bill to show to your landlord. This may be helpful in the future. •

 Tenants are not required to enter into a payment plan with their landlord to halt rent payments under the current laws.

 If you have any questions about these laws or your rights, please contact Legal Aid: Call Legal Aid’s Housing Hotline: (707) 843-4432, Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm. 

Visit Legal Aid of Sonoma County’s website here: Also, the newly-formed Sonoma County Tenants Union is actively organizing tenants. 

If you want to join the movement or are in need of support, contact SCTU by email at or by phone at (707) 387-1984. 

— Shelley Clark , 

Housing Policy Attorney

Ronit Rubinoff, Executive Director, 

Legal Aid of Sonoma County

Neighborhoods are for Neighbors - NOT Vacation Rentals

Sorry you decided to move to a well known vacation destination that has been a vacation destination for 100+ years. Things don’t need to change just because you decided to move there.

— Matt Hartley

Status of Police Oversight Measure - Incident in Graton

In these troubling times when we have a U.S. President who thinks he’s King, we must be vigilant about protecting our democratic rights as guaranteed by the Constitution. We desperately need to have a strengthened IOLERO that can robustly and independently investigate the Sheriff’s Office with subpoena power. The tragic Ward murder and this new flagrant use of excessive force in the Graton case amplify why we must demand our rights to vote on the Evelyn Cheatham Effective IOLERO Ordinance on November’s ballot. Write and call your Supervisors to demand your rights!

— Kathleen Finigan

Continued illegal PDHCD spending

leased the $30K legal opinion it sought to legitimize its plans to spend Measure W money AFTER the hospital was sold?  There can really be only one reason. This body Why has the ‘District’ never released the $30K legal opinion it sought to legitimize its plans to spend Measure W money AFTER the hospital was sold?  There can really be only one reason. This body has been bleeding taxpayers for over 16 years, mismanaging the hospital and then its botched sale,  spreading Measure W money around liberally to pet projects (a $15K skate park monitor....really???) when it should have been cutting taxpayer losses and winding its wasteful self down. 

The notion that there exists a $500K ‘surplus’ for these self congratulatory big spenders to blow on more ‘projects’ is a disgrace. If there is indeed any unused Measure W generated money floating around, we all know that there will be unanticipated post-dissolution expenses because everything the District has done in 16 years has been a fiscal disaster. Any ‘surplus’ should be used to pay down the $20+MM in debt and/or held for the ugly surprises we know will crop up as the County completes the dissolution of this rathole. 

Thousands of taxpayers in the County are looking to our officials to expose this last ditch scam by the ‘district’ and demand that no further spending occur.  Taxpayers are, not surprisingly, becoming completely cynical and distrustful of how government spends and wastes money. You can thank the ‘district’ board members when angry voters turn down most future tax measures.

— Nancy Hair

Narrated by Samuel L Jackson, I Am Not Your Negro (2016) uses James Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript to tell the horrific history of racism in America. Following the lives of three slain civil rights leaders, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr, Baldwin’s words still resonate today. Since the beginning, race has defined America, and racism permeates its politics to this day. 

To discuss the issue, Dr Richard Johnson, lecturer in US politics and international relations at Lancaster University, joins the podcast. Richard’s work examines the US’s increasingly racially polarised politics. Richard draws parallels between contemporary America and the end of the post-Civil War Reconstruction. 

Richard believes we are living in the twilight of the ‘second reconstruction’ – an era that began with the civil rights movement. Are there signs that a ‘third reconstruction’ is dawning? 

Despite the election of Barack Obama in 2008 – the US’s first black president – the 2010s were a decade of increasing racial polarisation. 

But with white, working-class voters searching for an anti-establishment voice, could there be a glimmer of hope?

— Mannie Onc

The Peace & Justice Center is in trouble. 

Our revenue source is hosting events at the Center and holding fund raisers. It has dried up. We have had to lay off our one paid employee, our Executive Director. The Peace Press is now on line and even if there was no social distancing, we couldn’t print it now ‘cause we don’t have the money. We need your help.

The Board of Directors is 1) sending out the appeals letter to members, 2) contacting folks we know who care about the Center and don’t want to see it end who may or may not be members and 3) putting together an on-line poetry reading with Dennis Bernstein and Redwood Cafe.

One member has suggested that we end the Peace Press. This person’s plan is to replace it with an online only entity called The Activists Hub. The focus wold be on local, actionable events with no opinion pieces and very little on education or world events. Local activist groups would join, much like NBOP, so they could use this forum to reach people. The proposer of this idea stated that it would reach young people as they do not read books or newsletter unless they are on line. Not everyone agrees with this move. It would save us money and reduce opportunities for activism. This is the time to tell Board members; myself, Attila, Audrianna, Susan Chunco and Linda or Shekeyna what you think

To help go to and you’ll find a donate button. Please help if you can. From this site you can also go to the link for the Peace Press. Please help if you can. Your Peace & Justice Center needs you. yours in peace through justice 

— Rebel Fagin


3:17-cv-02162-EMC - Food & Water Watch, Inc. et al v. Environmental Protection Agency et al

A bench trial before Judge Edward M. Chen will be held in U.S. Federal Court in San Francisco, beginning on June 8, 2020 at 8:30 AM.

TRIAL DATES are set for June 8, 2020, June 9, 2020, June 10, 2020, June 12, 2020, June 15, 2020, June 16, 2020, June 17, 2020, and June 19, 2020. Trial days will last from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The Court may determine that certain full trial days may be necessary as the trial progresses. Thursdays are dark. There will be a total of up to eight trial days, including June 8; the length of trial is subject to further modification by the Court.


Due to COVID-19, the entire trial will be streamed live on Zoom. This means you can watch or listen from any computer or mobile device with internet.

We recommend downloading Zoom for your device prior to Monday morning. You can do that by visiting the Zoom Download Center at

If you cannot, or would prefer not to download Zoom, you can also listen to the trial using your phone as you would a typical conference call.


Here is the direct Zoom link to watch the trial on Monday: 

Meeting ID: 160 727 5798
Password: 670801

If you choose not to use Zoom, here is the Northern California phone number for audio only: +1 669 900 6833  US (San Jose)

Find a number for another location:

NOTE: If, for any reason, you need to find the link elsewhere, FAN will be posting the link on its Homepage - - also the link can be found on Judge Chen's daily docket page under Food & Water Watch, Inc et al v. Environmental Protection Agency et al.: 

Submitted by Carol Goodwin Blick, Editor,

Relying on the citizen petition provisions of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), a lawsuit in federal court challenges the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) re. community water fluoridation, a practice endorsed by the U.S. Public Health Service 70 years ago, and affecting 200 million Americans on public water systems today. Demonstrating neurotoxic risk is central to the plaintiffs’ case under TSCA.

Plaintiffs include the Fluoride Action Network (FAN), Moms Against Fluoridation, the consumer advocacy group Food and Water Watch, and several individuals representing themselves and/or their children.

On 5/8/2020 the court denied an EPA request to exclude the testimony of 3 international experts, clearing them to testify on the neurotoxic risks of community water fluoridation in a federal court trial in San Francisco beginning 6/8/2020. Those 3 experts on neurotoxicity are Dr. Philippe Grandjean of Harvard and the U. of Southern Denmark, Dr. Howard Hu of the U. of Washington, and Dr. Bruce Lanphear of Simon Fraser U. in British Columbia.

In a separate ruling, the court restricted testimony to the toxic risks under TSCA. EPA’s defense cannot include the purported oral health benefits of fluoridation.

The hearing laid the final groundwork for a remote access trial beginning 6/8/2020, originally set to run for two weeks, now compressed to 12 hours for each side to help deal with a backlog from the recent COVID-19-related closing of federal courts.

Information on public access to the trial will not be available before the Sonoma County Gazette’s June print edition pub. date. Live-streaming is not planned, and the court’s decision on audio recording is pending. There will be a limited number of cell phone access “listening stations” for members of the public.

Information on schedule and public access is also posted homepage of 

— Carol Goodwin Blick, editor, 



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