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Monday, February 1, 2010

LETTERS on Sonoma County Issues

Gazette readers tell us what is on their minds and how they hope their opinions will influence our decisions and actions. Thank you readers! Please send LETTERS to and VESTA Publishing, 6490 Front St #300, Forestville, CA 95426

Hi Vesta,
This is Amie, from the former Natural Connections store in Occidental. I’m loving the GAZETTE more and more, and would like to suggest a new regular feature (of course I have my own motives, as you’ll see below). You know how newspapers show photos of homeless dogs and cats needing adoption? Well, I’m thinking it would be great if you could run a similar feature for local people looking for local part-time work.

I’m 65, and my lovely part-time job at Natural Connections disappeared when Lorraine retired and closed the store at the end of last March. Since then, I’ve been looking for a similar part-time job in a similar retail setting, with no luck. I’ve spread the word, advertised on WaccoBB and other online jobsites, taken my resume into every store on Main St. in Sebastopol and Forestville (several have said “We’d hire you in a minute if we were hiring,” but then somebody’s best friend or relative gets the next job), but no luck.

I don’t need a big career; I don’t want to stock shelves at J.C. Penney for minimum wage; I just need a nice little part-time paying job selling things or helping people out in one of the many ways my past experience has taught me.

I would love to give Gazette readers a chance to hire local, experienced and job-worthy people like me.

Thanks again for all you do.
Amie Hill if you'd like to offer Amy a job!

Bohemian Grove Logging
As many now know, the plan to log valuable stands of timber at the Bohemian Grove property in Monte Rio, California was signed off for approval by CALFIRE on December 29, 2009. This development, characterized by Judge Bill Newsom as a “thinly disquised plan...” to log “one of the last two great stands of old-growth” has disappointed more than a few, both Russian River residents and many of the environmentally conscious community.

So what’s next? With such approvals, there’s a thirty day window to file appeal via legal means. Who better to tell the story than John Hooper, organic farmer and past member of the Bohemian Club. John knows the Bohemian Club property and its trees far better than many, and as an owner of forestry stands himself, he has a strong sense of how forests can best be managed.
A wealth of information, including professional testimonials, forestry reports, and forestry management statistics relevant to the Bohemian Grove NTMP is available for review at

Shoppers from all over Sonoma County are extolling the benefit of having a Wal*Mart SuperCenter selling groceries in Rohnert Park. The benefit is simple: low prices. The trade-offs are much more complex -- and far outweigh the benefits. Low price comes at a high cost.
There are many reasons to be concerned with the presence of a Wal*Mart in our community, especially an even larger one than exists now. Wal*Mart is a mega-corporation that is fully capable of destroying a local economy, that pays its employees poverty-level wages, that actually encourages its employees to apply for food stamps and other taxpayer-supported programs for the poor, that puts pressure on its third-world suppliers, that is viciously anti-union, etc. I think we must educate our community about it. Sure they have low prices, and lower-income shoppers probably like having a Wal*Mart nearby. But we must consider how Wal*Mart achieves its low prices, and the potentially disastrous consequences of a SuperCenter in our community.

In Cotati/Rohnert Park, a Wal*Mart SuperCenter will undoubtedly mean driving some local markets out of business (e.g., Pacific Market, Oliver’s Market), and bringing the attendant blight to the shopping centers which they anchor. Across the nation, on the average two grocery stores fold in a community for every Wal*Mart SuperCenter that goes in. Shopping centers that these grocery stores anchored tend to enter decline, and urban blight increases. The SuperCenter, of course, does create jobs, although they are predominantly “junk jobs”. The net effect on the community is a decided negative. There is no net gain in jobs, and the quality of available jobs decreases. Wal*Mart workers are among the “working poor”, who receive subsidies from taxpayers because they don’t get paid a living wage. There is no enhancement of tax revenues to the local jurisdiction since groceries are not subject to sales tax in California. Finally there is the issue of Third World sweatshops where goods sold in Wal*Marts are manufactured. There is an ethical issue about supporting the exploitation of low-wage workers in other countries.
Rick Luttmann, Rohnert Park

Letter to the editor
The humanitarian tragedy in Haiti is perhaps one of the worst disasters in human recorded history that even a fully developed rich nation such as the United States would have trouble dealing with. Haiti as the poorest nation in the western hemisphere is in a much greater tragic situation. A lack of first rate hospitals, trained medical professionals and even no military have made the earthquake disaster even worse. The situation in Haiti should be a lesson for all nations of how important disaster readiness and preparedness is to their national security.

Los Angeles California is said by scientists to have a 99% chance of a major earthquake involving the San Andreas Fault in Southern California in future years. In a matter of a few years Los Angeles could be seeing a “Haiti” type of natural disaster. Lessons learned should be studied by our nations disaster experts and changes should be made to prepare the United States for such events otherwise such disasters will be similiar to Bosnia, Haiti and 9/11 style of mass disasters.
Kevin Beck
Henderson, Nevada


Geyser Soup,
The recent news that Santa Rosa no longer will dump any waste water into the Russian River was greeted with a major sigh of relief! Zero river discharge at last!! It will all get sucked up by the geysers, boiled and turned into “free” electricity. Couldn’t get any “greener” than that!

Well except for the chlorine. Why not skip that awful, chemical and dump the waste water untreated into the blessed bowel of mother earth? The electricity will not “taste” any different! One caveat: suppose there ever were some kind of major eruption? Would our whole county then get “fertilized” in a boiling shower of you know what?
Earl T. Hemming

Dear Vesta,
In the “Dear Readers” column of the January 7th issue, you say the following: “But like many businesses, you either grow or die. Stagnation leads to death no matter what the living entity.” This is a widely held belief that bears closer examination. If every business has to continually expand in order to be successful, then eventually all the expanding businesses will entirely fill the available markets, and there will be no further room for expansion. What then? Clearly this is a self-limiting strategy.

Other than expanding into new markets, businesses grow by swallowing other businesses. Again if we follow this out to its conclusion, we will end up with one single business supplying everything to everyone. In some major industries we are very close to that right now. Of course, these extremes will never be reached, but it must be clear that the idea of constant growth as a long -term plan is unsustainable.

Neither is it true that living organisms grow constantly or die. Stagnation , or as I would rather call it, a steady state, does not hasten death, and neither does unconstrained growth delay death, in any living organism. In fact the only organism I can think of that does pursue this policy is a cancer cell, which will eventually kill its host.

Even if it were in fact true for living beings, a business is not a living being except in a very general metaphorical sense. In this context there is one very salient difference; living beings have a built-in aging process which leads inevitably to death. Businesses do not. A business can survive as long as it shows a sufficient surplus after its expenses, whether it is expanding or not. The parallel case is not true of a living organism. No matter how healthy a life it lives, or how well it is fed, it will eventually age and die.

It seems to me that a small business could be very successful if it provided a useful service for its customers and paid its staff and owners an income that enabled them to live comfortably, year after year at the same level. It is true that they may have to adopt new technology, but this does not necessarily imply overall growth. What puts pressure on small businesses is the presence in the market of large companies with deep pockets which are determined to expand at all costs. But their expansion is not driven by the needs of the business, it is the result of greed on the part of their owners.

Please note that I am not saying that growth is never a good business strategy; it may be necessary for other reasons, but it is not a necessity for the survival of the business.
This is but one of a whole plethora of common sayings that slide easily off the tongue and are used to guide our actions, that are simply not true, or are true only in a very limited way. They serve the interests, or justify the actions, of those who have power in the current way society is structured, and wish to maintain and consolidate that power. Those of us who feel that the distribution of wealth and power in our society has reached a very dangerous imbalance, would do well to examine the way in which our everyday language works to support the system and constrain our ability to conceive of other ways of doing things.
Patrick Brinton

Hi Vesta
I just wanted to commend you on a BEAUTIFUL issue. We love soup at our house and that picture and the colors were so pretty and the article rocked. We are saving the article and going to investigate some of these soups too. Good work girlfriend

Medical Marijuana Dispensary in Cotati
The city of Cotati maybe soon permitting a medical marijuana dispensary on Redwood Dr. Given a choice of business philosophies and ethics, what would be best for Cotati?

One of the two potential dispensaries is Starbuds Group which manages marijuana dispensaries while establishing an educational scholarship trust with 100% of its profits. They pay living wages to all levels of employees, pay local, State and Federal taxes, and document vendor income with 1099’s. They offer 100%* transparent records of all business transactions to the public and authorities. Products are tested for pollutants, THC content, CBR content, mold contamination, and harvest quality. Public safety is managed by camera placement in multiple areas and security personnel. They serve only verified medical cannabis patients who follow State and local laws. The Award-winning owner is Mark Gustely and currently is a California State Contractor, license #932953 and prior #810762, in good standing, and is complying with all local and State regulation, laws and the Attorney General Jerry Browns recommendations.

So wouldn’t any city prefer a business that pays its taxes, builds in safety, pays living wages and returns the profits to the community? We’re asking that the City of Cotati to fully research their options when choosing the ONE business who will be licensed to operate a medical marijuana dispensary within city limits.

*Patients names encrypted to protect privacy.
Mark Gustely, owner, Starbuds Group,

Hello Vesta,
Below is a letter to all readers of the Sonoma Co. Gazette which deals with a timely issue facing Sonoma Co. (and the State of California) now.

I would very much appreciate if this could make it into the coming edition of the paper so that more people can be alerted to this situation. It has received hardly any media attention that I am aware of and most people do not even know that a wireless device will soon be installed on their homes whether they like it, or agree with it, or not. There are major public health concerns to this as well as financial and ‘security’ ones (wireless devices are easily interfered with by other types of signals for one thing). Thank you very much!
Christina Sophia, Graton

Dear Readers,
Do you know about “Smart” meters & are they really smart?

Or is this clever marketing of the new wireless meter that PG&E wants to put on every house & business just to convince us to accept this change without any question and without any public hearings? I’m all for appropriate technology which enhances the lives of the majority. But the wireless meters will not provide this enhancement and in fact may endanger our health, safety & bottom line. For one thing, these are/will be vulnerable to hacking, not to mention the fact that wireless devices can be easily interfered with by a variety of other frequencies.

There is already a class action lawsuit filed against PG&E concerning the meter’s accuracy, & public complaints about this (people say their energy bill greatly increased while their usage did not change). This is occurring in places like Bakersfield where they already have the meters installed. Sonoma County is slated for installation next month though very few people know anything about it. Did you see anything on your bill about this coming change? I didn’t. Those of us who are aware of it are not only concerned about the possible financial effects from likely inaccuracy of these wireless meters but the far reaching public health ramifications which may manifest over time with exposure to additional electromagnetic-radio frequencies 24/7.

And the negative effects are not only on humans. There is plenty of documentation for this as I explain below.

I must say that those of us who are concerned and taking action toward a moratorium on the new meters till safety is satisfactorily demonstrated, are also interested in promoting wiser energy usage, but this does not appear to be the wise way and will simply bring upon us more big brother type control. The meters, in combination with newer appliances will allow PG&E in the future (or “the powers that be” -whoever they may be) to SHUT OFF YOUR POWER or appliances when THEY DEEM NECESSARY without your knowledge or consent!

We are going in the wrong direction here by INCREASING our wireless exposure while in Europe they’re busy getting rid of it! Why? Here’s a few of the health related facts: Wireless “smart” meters will emit millions of new electromagnetic RF signals every day. Exposure to electro smog is documented to have major biological effects on living tissue, including wildlife such as birds & bees. Exponential increase in the use of wireless technologies poses serious health concerns as the Bio initiative Report - recognized by the European Parliament - demonstrates many negative health effects including cancers. The Utility Reform Network in S.F. & State Senator Florez are calling for a moratorium on these meters again, slated for installation in Sonoma County in February.

Lampposts, buildings, & telephone poles will host the wireless repeater infrastructure to serve the new wireless meters, which will be installed in or on every home & business. These will add yet another layer of radio frequencies (RF) to our homes and environment and will emit RF signals throughout the day and night. In light of the lack of FCC safety standards for chronic long term exposure to RF and in light of the call for the precautionary principle for wireless technology from global scientists, environmental agencies, advocacy groups and doctors, we call upon concerned citizens to take swift and massive action in order to bring the following requests to the County Supervisors and City of Sebastopol early next month in the form of a petition.

Please educate yourself on this issue which concerns all of us and help us support
a moratorium delaying the installation of the meters in Sonoma county by signing the petition at:

In the petition we are asking for:
1) a thorough investigation of the PG&E wireless meter proposal and potential health risks of them through public hearings.

2) PG&E to be required to submit a characterization study of the smart meter system planned for Sonoma county & Sebastopol.

3) The Smart Meter health and safety study PG&E commissioned to be made available to the public.

4) Customers to be able to “opt out” of the program and finally,

5) to place a 6 to 9 month moratorium on all new wireless installations to allow time for a thorough scientific review.

Thank you very much for your support!

Proposed Winery In Sebastopol
The Best Family Investment Group LLC would like to become my new neighbor. They want to move in across the narrow country lane from my home of the past 20 years and build a winery complex that would include a building that is nearly a football field long, 1/2 football field wide, and 4 1/2 stories tall. Further ingratiating themselves to me they intend to host parties with up to 150 guests, 17 times a year and serve 100 guests daily in a separate 5,000 square foot wine tasting room. If that’s not enough to have me quivering in anticipation of their arrival, they are even going to truck in enough grapes to crank out 26,500 cases of wine AND they’ll have operations going 24/7 for several months of the year. What more can I possible hope for? I can’t wait till they’re in so we can have each other over for tea, borrow a cup of sugar, you know, just do the kinds of things that good neighbors do for each other. I hope my tears of joy don’t get the welcome cake soggy when my new neighbors rip out the apple orchard that has been growing here in the scenic corridor since 1925. Good riddance to those pesky old apple trees. Welcome to my new neighbors, the kind that most people only get to dream about.

Just think of it, a wine bottling plant right next door operating all night along. How lucky can one get?

What must I do to become the recipient of all this good fortune?

I must hope and pray that on March 2nd the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors will vote to amend the General Plan twice, rezone 2 parcels and throw in some special policy voodoo so my special neighbors can build a winery complex on an undersized lot outside my bedroom window. Oh, I almost forgot, I also need the Board of Supervisors to accept the MND instead of requiring an Environmental Impact Report. I certainly wouldn’t want to delay move-in day just to do a silly study to see if this project could in some remote way have a potentially significant impact on the environment and surrounding area. If this precedent is set any resident of Sonoma County can look forward to the day when they too can have a neighbor like this.

Seriously folks, this project does not belong here. This project does not fit here. This project is not wanted here. Creating an island of Diverse Agriculture land-use with no buffer to the surrounding residential properties would create an area of conflicting land use which is the exact opposite of the goal of our General Plan and zoning laws.

Can you say: Square Peg, Round Hole!

Contact your Board of Supervisors. Tell them to VOTE NO. Attend the Public Hearing on March 2, 2010 @ 2:10 p.m. 575 Administration Drive Santa Rosa.

Eileen & Thomas Morabito

Dear Vesta
A word of praise and thanks is in order to Dr. Gonzales and the staff of Palm Drive Hospital.
On Saturday January 9, after an overzealous start to my New Year’s exercise regime, I went to
the Emergency Department with chest pains. I showed the receptionist my Medicare card, and she walked me back to see the nurse. In a very short time, I had an EKG, a portable chest x-ray, and lab work and then began to wait for the results to be read by Dr. Gonzales. I remember only a nurse named Mark, but all the other workers and technicians were attentive, friendly, and professional. One by one each test came through as normal and I went home after two hours with instructions for a diagnosis of chest strain.

We are lucky in West County to have such an excellent hospital to serve our community.
Cecile Lusby

Target Center Sues Petaluma
Regarding The Brown Act violation that never happened and other allegations by Target Corporation:

I guess these big guys don’t care a shred for a thing called the Petaluma General Plan, the document we worked on together defining the directions and land uses we intend for our largely independently-minded and pro-SMART Code town. No mention of that in their letter to Mayor Torliatt - or any discussion from them that I’ve heard. And yet it is our painstakingly prepared plan for land use for our city. 7 years of planning went into creating a General Plan that suits our whole town.

That Petaluma has vision was acknowledged by Green Belt Alliance a few years ago when they voted us to be the most environmentally sound city in the Bay Area after introduction of our Petaluma Central Specific Plan. We had a plan then and we didn’t just lose it all because a major corporation is having a tantrum.

After years of personally submitting comments to our newest General Plan, speaking at council and being active in Petaluma Independent Business Alliance and the Petaluma Community Coalition to help create better land use policy, I am not surprised but nevertheless appalled that Target could #1 tell our town how it should use the shopping center - we should, according the them, behave exactly like other “guests” in other towns. A big assumption that people here wouldn’t want to bicycle or bus it to the center. But worse, they are out and out accusing our council members of a violation of the Brown Act by holding a meeting of 4 council members.
This meeting never took place according to Vice Mayor Glass - and I’ve had reason to believe his word for years now.

Several friends have argued that Regency was polite and put up money so we should do whatever they want. I still hold development is a privilege, not a right - and we shouldn’t just cave into Target’s demand that we skim over our process and policy so they get the development they want. This is the center of our city we are talking about and we deserve the time and care needed to get to a good project that has at least a chance of serving the needs of the “guests” who would use it. And then there is that other question, the one gnawing at me: since neither Target nor Regency gave us more than scanty economic data, we don’t have even a foggy idea of which existing Petaluma businesses, downtown or otherwise, will go out of existence due to this project. We don’t know the true costs of this project and Regency and Target are making no attempt to help us get there that isn’t legislated.

Not a friendly way to behave, developers. I know you feel we try your patience, but you try our whole plan for our future - our General Plan that stipulates large new developments shall provide a net positive for the city. We just don’t know if this project will do that. December retail data for the nation shows a loss of over 6% from last year! That means a lot of retail stores - including chains - are closing their doors. People are changing their buying habits all over including buying online - and many huge chains are disappearing forever. Will we end in a few years with a ghost mall? Not likely - but it could happen. That and blight where stores now owned and operated by our neighbors. Where’s the happy ending? I’d really like to know.
Connie Madden

Those Who Serve, Deserve
I am a WW@ Navy veteran. I was discharged in 1946 from a naval hospital after returning from the Pacific. Since then, I have been receiving outstanding medical care from Veterans Administration Hospital in San Francisco for many years. I am an avid supporter of the VA and the thousands of veterans who have used their services.

The health care reform debate has polarized our country into at least two opposing factions, those who support the right of all Americans to receive basic health care, and those who are fearful of government run medical care. As someone who has received the benefit of government run health care, I can tell you there is no comparison about the quality of service I have received with the VA compared to private hospitalization. At the VA I receive all my medications for free, or a small Co-pay. I have had quadruple bypass surgery, and numerous operations at no cost to me and my family. I use the local VA clinic on a regular basis, and my vital signs are monitored daily at home using the latest in medical technology. Right now, we are deadlocked about what to do as a nation.

I have a possible solution to part of the problem of providing some of our citizens some form of health care. There are at least 47 million Americans with no health insurance. And many more millions that have inadequate insurance to cover the most basic of health care, many of whom are veterans. I propose that the VA open its doors to all veterans and their families to receive health care from the VA. We have thousands of citizens that have served their country since WW2, i.e… Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, etc. Why not let them buy into a Veteran Health Care Program? With funding from Congress, expand the facilities and services provided by the VA. Veterans could buy into a medical plan directly from the VA. This would provide revenue for expanding VA services. The cost would be affordable and many would be able to take advantage of it if they choose. From my own experience, at a local hospital, waiting for transfer to a VA hospital, I was billed for medications that I never received. When I reported it to medicare, the hospital changed the bill right away.

This country always talks about how much we appreciate the service and sacrifice of our military men and women. Well, lets do more than give them a parade once or twice a year. We can expand the GI Bill to allow our veterans access to the VA. Let’s honor their service with something meaningful like health care for them and their families.

Opponents of much needed health care reform in this country would find it difficult to argue that our veterans do not deserve this type of government run program. I am sure that many who have served, would greatly appreciate the option of have an inexpensive way to receive quality health care from the VA
Miguel Acuna

Senior Momentum Feedback
Although I don’t consider myself so ancient, I am generally the oldest person present, wherever I go. I have ample opportunity to be exposed to the abuses described by Zoe Tummillo in her column “Abuse a la Carte”. I have not experienced problems such as she describes. Rude treatment has been around for a long time, and is not necessarily related to the age of the recipient. It is rare that I am mistreated, and when it happens, I will respond appropriately.

In Guerneville, where I shop as much as possible, I have only praise for the merchants, in particular, Dada’s True Value Hardware, Safeway, Lark, and The Mercantile. Nobody talks down to me, patronizes me, or otherwise mistreats me. Safeway personnel are always helpful and pleasant, with one exception, that the Safeway Pharmacist, quite a few years ago, was so shockingly rude to me that I have not since then used the Safeway Pharmacy.

I am pleased with Lark and The Mercantile, where I find good and pleasant help when I need it. The young people at Dada’s Hardware are very pleasant, helpful, smiling, enjoying what they are doing. I enjoy shopping there. My remarks equally apply to Costco, Best Buy, CitiBank, and about anywhere I go. Occasional rudeness may occur, it is generic, not based on my age, fueled generally by the aggressive ignorance of the perpetrator
Richard Wayland

Dear Vesta,
Let me just say a public thanks to the great management and staff of Sprint in Sebastopol. For several years now, they have filled the printing and stationery needs of the Interchurch Pantry of Sebastopl at no cost to us. So this is a little shout out to our community to support a local business that walks the walk.
Cecile Lusby, secretary

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