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Welcome to the Sonoma County Gazette ARCHIVE of PAST EDITIONS. Our NEW WEBSITE is up and running, so GazExtra is serving as your path to archived articles. Thanks for being part of our Sonoma County community...stay in touch...e-mail me - VESTA

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sonoma County Energy Policy and Community Choice

Board Approves Energy Policy 
and Community Choice 
Aggregation Program Feasibility Study

The Sonoma County Water Agency Board of Directors today approved funding for the development of a feasibility study to develop a Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program in Sonoma County. The action came at the same time the Board approved and authorized the Water Agency to implement its new Energy Policy.

In 2002, the California Legislature enacted legislation permitting the creation of CCA programs. Under the legislation, a city, county, or Joint Powers Agency (two or more cities and counties) may implement a CCA program. Once formed, residents within the CCA service area can opt out of the CCA and continue to receive power from the utility (e.g., PG&E). Those that do not opt out will have their power supplied by the CCA entity. The utility continues to provide and bill CCA customers for power transmission and other services (e.g., meter reading, billing, etc.). Only the electricity generation portion of electricity service is provided by the CCA entity. A similar program, Marin Clean Energy, is operating in Marin County.

The Water Agency’s CCA feasibility study will examine whether such a program provides Sonoma County residents with renewable, locally-produced power at a reasonable and stable cost. The study will be coordinated by a steering committee composed of the Water Agency, the Regional Climate Protection Authority, the Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District, the County’s Auditor and General Services departments, city representatives and community stakeholders.

“The financial impact and economics involved in implementing such a program could be significant. The ability to invest power revenues locally while creating green jobs for County residents is attractive and this study will be looking at these opportunities,” said Water Agency Board Chair and Supervisor Efren Carrillo.

Implementing a CCA in Sonoma County could have multiple benefits, including increased local control over power generation and rates, a substantial reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, local economic benefits, and the opportunity to increase local energy efficiency and conservation efforts, as well as potential integration of carbon sequestration programs.

“The County has been a trail blazer through numerous sustainable energy initiatives in the past, and thanks to the Water Agency’s hard work, this feasibility study lays the foundation for a bright future. This Energy Policy will allow us to reinvest into our local economy while doing the right thing for the environment,” said Water Agency Director and Supervisor Mike McGuire.

The Water Agency has a unique interest in energy matters, arising from three factors. First, the Water Agency is a large consumer of electrical energy. Second, the Water Agency is a producer of electricity. Third, the Water Agency has been a leader in climate change mitigation activities, and is pursuing and has pursued numerous renewable energy projects.

The Water Agency currently operates 4.4 MW of renewable solar and hydropower facilities, and has up to 22.4 MW in renewable energy projects in development. The County of Sonoma operates two solar systems totaling 820 kW and a 1.4 MW fuel cell. An additional 5-6 MW is generated through capture of methane gas at the County’s landfill.

In 2005 the Water Agency’s Board authorized the General Manager/Chief Engineer to finalize an Energy Policy. The 2005 Policy established guidelines for Water Agency employees in the purchase of materials, design and construction of projects, and the operation and maintenance of Water Agency facilities. Since 2005 there have been many changes and new challenges. The new Energy Policy provides the Water Agency with direction in two general areas:

1. Carbon Free Water – For several years, the Water Agency has been pursuing a goal of achieving a net carbon neutral power supply for all its operations. This program has been titled Carbon Free Water by 2015 and includes the following programs:

a. Develop Renewable Energy Sources
– The Water Agency continues to develop renewable energy projects to supply offset its energy demands rather than meeting these demands with conventional carbon based sources.

b. Water Conservation
– The Water Agency is a regional leader in water conservation. Because water conservation reduces the amount of water the Water Agency must pump and deliver, the conservation of water has a direct impact on its energy use. The Water Agency will continue to promote water conservation.

c.  System Efficiency – The Water Agency continues to reduce its energy use by implementing efficiencies in its water transmission system.

2.  Projects of Regional Benefit – The new policy directs the Water Agency to seek opportunities for broader regional benefits in terms of energy efficiency, greenhouse gas reduction, and development of local renewable energy sources. Under the new policy, the Water Agency will increase its efforts to seek collaborations and partnerships with other agencies and stakeholders in developing regional community initiatives.

The Agency will implement the Energy Policy in coordination with Strategy Seven of its 2010 Water Supply Strategies Action Plan, under which the Water Agency will take advantage of the synergies between water and energy.

To learn more about the Water Agency’s Energy Policy and CCA feasibility study, visit

Sonoma County Water Agency provides water supply, flood protection and sanitation services for portions of Sonoma and Marin counties. Visit us on the Web at

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Monday, March 21, 2011

American & Japanese Red Cross Partner to help

Red Cross works closely with others 
to deal with Japan disasters

Following the devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters in Japan, the American Red Cross has made an initial contribution of $10 million to the Japanese Red Cross Society to assist efforts to provide medical care and relief assistance. “Our hearts go out to the people of Japan and all of the survivors of the earthquake and tsunami, in Japan and California,” said Tim Miller, CEO of American Red Cross in Sonoma, Mendocino and Lake Counties. “We are grateful that local donors have been so generous and that we are able to contribute to the fundraising effort that enables the Red Cross to help so many.”

American Red Cross and Japanese Red Cross have a history of mutual support. The Japanese Red Cross sent support to the American Red Cross after September 11 and Hurricane Katrina. The American Red Cross aided the Japanese during the Kobe earthquake in 1995.

The Japanese Red Cross is a highly experienced disaster relief organization with 2 million volunteers. These local volunteers in Japan are distributing relief items, hot meals and deployed nearly 171 medical teams, as well as 2,400 nurses trained to provide emotional support and counseling for those affect by the disasters. Evacuations from the exclusion zone around the nuclear power plant are also being supported by the Japanese Red Cross.

According to the federal government, Hawaii, Alaska, the U.S. Territories and the U.S. west coast are not expected to experience any harmful levels of radioactivity. Public health officials for the state of California and counties are updating information frequently (links to their sites are available at the local Red Cross web site, The American Red Cross works in close coordination with local and federal government agencies to be ready to respond to the large-scale needs created by catastrophic events

Those trying to contact U.S. citizens living in or traveling in Japan should contact the U.S. Department of State, Office of Overseas Citizens Services, at 1-888-407-4747 or (202) 647-5225. People in Japan and other countries in the Pacific can register at (or to inform their family and friends that they are safe and provide their current contact details. People in the U.S. looking for loved ones can check the ICRC list for information. They can also register the names of family members and friends, encouraging them to get in touch. As of March 16, the Red Cross family linking site, available in six languages, had logged more than 4,500 inquiries of people looking for loved ones or others letting them know they are safe.

Currently, all American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces staff stationed at military installations in the Far East are preparing for noncombatant evacuation operations in Japan to support military operations involving registration of evacuees, escort duty, and assisting in military sheltering operations.

There are several scams and frauds in the form of email and text messaging for donations on behalf of the American Red Cross for Japan, New Zealand and Haiti; the purchase of American Red Cross first aid supplies that are to be shipped abroad; and the impersonation of the British Red Cross.
Red Cross is asking the local media and the public to be aware of these scams, which may:
● Direct individuals to phony or fake websites;
● Request donations of monies through money transfer companies, such as Western Union;
● Offer “employment” for individuals to collect monies on behalf of the American Red Cross for a percentage
● Attempt to buy American Red Cross first aid kits, etc. from chapters to be shipped overseas (South Africa, India, Japan, etc.), but first the chapter must pay “a shipper” via Western Union, with cash or use of a credit card. The “buyer” of American Red Cross first aid kits will supply the chapter with either stolen or unauthorized credit cards to send money to the “shipper;” and/or state there is an appeal from the “British Red Cross” and request individuals to send monies to an email address, Western Union or via other transfer companies

Individuals can assist the Red Cross response effort, both internationally and locally, by making a financial donation in a variety of ways:
● All of Redwood Credit Union’s branches are now accepting donations from members and the public to assist the Red Cross response effort in Japan; along Friedman Brothers who has donation cans available in Santa Rosa and Ukiah stores and G &  G Markets, with donation cans located in Santa Rosa and Petaluma stores.
● secure online sites: or
● by phone: (707) 577-7600
● by texting REDCROSS to 90999; this enables donors to make a $10 donation to help those affected by the earthquake in Japan and tsunami throughout the Pacific.
● by U.S. mail to: American Red Cross, Sonoma, Mendocino, &  Lake Counties, 5297 Aero Drive, Santa Rosa, CA 95403.

American Red Cross is a neutral, humanitarian organization that provides relief to victims of disasters and prepares people to prevent and respond to emergencies. Like all Red Cross chapters, local chapters are self-sustaining and funded by local contributions. All assistance to disaster victims and to members of the armed forces provided by the Chapter is free and made possible by voluntary donations of time and money by the American people.

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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Love & Taxes - IRS Refunds for Registers Couples

New Mandatory Federal tax Filing Requirements 
for RegIstered Domestic Partners 
and Same Sex married Couples
March 28th WEBINAR
6 to 7:30 PM PDT

This could be a financial windfall for you - make sure you sign up - space is limited

ALSO: consult your CPA when filing taxes for 2010 - this is a MANDATORY Filing requirement!
State Board of Ewualization member betty T. Yee, in cooperation with Ewuality California (EQCA) and the national center for lesbian Rights (NCLR), invotes yyou to attend a Webinar on MOnday, march 28th, discussing the mandatory tax filing requirements for register domestiv partners and same sex married couples.


The recent acknowledgment by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in a June 2010 Chief Counsel Advice, and subsequent directives clarify that community property rights are extended to same sex married couples, as well as Registered Domestiv partners.

The IRS is requiring legally related same sex couples to split their community property income on 2010 federal returns, and allowing those who may benefit, to amen 2007, 2008 and 2009 tax returns.

Join Steve Sims and Pat Kusiak from the Franchise Tax Board (FTB); Chris Kollaja, CPA; Karen Stogdill, EA; and Deb L. Kinney, sq. for an informative seminar to understand the new IRS rules and requirements. Learn what you need to know to file tax returns correctly.

Reserve your Webinar seat now at:;jsessionid=abcyRX5bUz8Umd2Cbdv7s?id=305442394
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

System Requirements:
PC-based attendees: Windows 7, Vista XP, or 2003 Server
MAC-based attendees: Max OS X 1-.4.11 (Tiger) or newer

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Friday, March 18, 2011

WARNING! Potassium Iodine Health Risks!

Japan Tragedy: 
Health Information for California

The recent tragedy in Japan has sparked concern among some that unsafe levels of radiation may affect Californians. I want to emphasize that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the California Department of Public Health and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have all stated that there is no risk expected to California or its residents as a result of the situation in Japan.

The California Department of Public Health and CalEMA are actively monitoring the situation in Japan and are ready to take all steps necessary to protect Californians should risks develop.

Please note: CalEMA is urging Californians not to take potassium iodide pills as a precautionary measure at this time. The pills can present a danger to people with allergies to iodine, shellfish, or who have thyroid problems. If taken inappropriately, potassium iodide can also have serious side effects including abnormal heart rhythms, nausea, vomiting, electrolyte abnormalities, and bleeding.

Click Here for more Emergency Information and Resources

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

LETTERS response to “Don’t Blame Public Employees”

While visiting a friend in Forestville recently, I read the front page article in your March 3 edition by Martin J. Bennett entitled “Don’t Blame Public Employees”, and discovered it was almost identical to a piece that appeared a couple of months earlier in my local on-line newspaper, Voice of San Diego. Mr. Bennett, a junior college history professor, instead of dealing directly with the central question of whether public sector pay and benefits are out of line with the private sector, trots out a series of allegations to get people fired up. He claims that The Economist magazine, to which I subscribe, is part of a misleading corporate campaign to scapegoat public employees. This is ridiculous. The Economist is a British publication and is far and away the best and most objective weekly news magazine. It’s bias is, if anything, slightly liberal.

The author then proceeds to blame the housing meltdown, Wall Street, oil companies, Proposition 13, wealthy people and a “too low” top State income tax rate of only 9.3%, while claiming that an article entitled “The Truth about Public Employees”, written by two Berkeley professors, proves that public employees are not overcompensated compared to the private sector.

I’ve read this study, because it was cited in the Voice of San Diego story. It contains a huge fallacy, that pay scales should somehow be based not merely on the work people perform but primarily on their education and their age. I live in San Diego, which was perhaps the first city to discover it was in deep trouble as a result of foolish commitments made to public employee unions. The President of one of our unions is a trash truck driver. She happens to be a college graduate. Should she be paid more than other drivers because of her degree? Most people would consider this a ridiculous question, but it’s at the heart of the Berkeley professors’ claims that public sector compensation is not out of line. Their study is garbage.

I’m a retired human resources director from the private sector, so I read articles like this one very carefully to check their validity. This one flunks. E.g., Prof. Bennett cites average pensions for CalPERS retirees of only $25,000 a year, without mentioning comparable figures for private sector retirees, which are far lower. The reason this figure seems rather modest is that it includes all retirees, many in their 70’s and even 80’s, and you will find that public sector retirees in recent years have opened up a huge gap. I’ll explain why in a moment, but first let me cite some history.

Public sector organizations used to compare pay and benefits with private sector firms, but stopped doing so over 30 years ago when they realized they had passed private firms in many aspects of compensation. They now look strictly at other public entities, typically other cities and counties, and search for “leaders” to justify pay and benefit increases. And why not? The people paying the bill, the general taxpayers, are completely shut out of the process because, it is claimed, these are sensitive “personnel” issues.

About 15 years ago when tax receipts in California, as a result of the high tech boom, swelled dramatically, major increases in retirement benefits were granted. In San Diego, these occurred in 1996 and again in 2002, and instead of improving the benefits only for future service, increases were given for past service as well, thus instantly creating huge unfunded liabilities that have come home to roost and are simply unsustainable. San Diego’s situation is not an aberration, it’s more or less typical among larger cities and many small cities as well.

No one is “blaming” public employees. They do what most people would do, take advantage of any chance they get to maximize their financial situation. But the public sector is different. The unions have huge political clout, and often make the difference in elections, thus in effect selecting their bosses, the politicians who approve proposed pay and benefit increases negotiated by managers who know they’ll get the same deal or better. It’s no accident that the majority of unionized workers are now in the public sector. It’s basically a monopoly; there’s no competition except the occasional pressure for “out sourcing”, which is more talked about than actually accomplished.

Here’s the typical California city package for you to compare to your own situation: Automatic “step” increases within each job classification, plus (until the last couple of years) an additional general increase granted to everyone; paid vacation and sick leave time 4-6 weeks a year plus 10-12 paid holidays; paid overtime, usually at premium rates, even for supervisors and middle managers, engineers and other professionals exempt from statutory overtime pay requirements; Civil Service protection, as well as union representation against arbitrary discipline, favoritism, etc. The stories you’ve heard, e.g., about the near impossibility of firing incompetent teachers are, unfortunately, true. The “due process” is endless.

But wait, it gets better. “Normal retirement” is at age 55, and if you are a police officer or firefighter, age 50. You get a defined benefit pension equal to 1.5 or 2% per year of service times your single highest year’s pay, up to 3% for cops and firefighters. And, of course, you get annual cost-of-living increases to your pension. There is often, in addition, a 401(k) type savings plan to which the city matches the employee contribution. Medical benefits are for life. The employee contributes, sometimes paying up to 25% of the cost. You decide whether that’s a better deal than you have.

Many people wonder why police and fire personnel get a far more generous package, both earlier retirement ages and a much richer benefit. The rationalizations are two: cops and firefighters, because of the nature of their jobs, have a shorter life expectancy after retirement, and since they “put their lives on the line daily” they are much more likely than other occupations to suffer serious injury or even death before retirement. Sounds plausible, but neither claim stands scrutiny.

Now, just like you, I respect and appreciate the work these public safety employees perform, and there certainly are risks and stresses in these occupations. But remember, these people chose these jobs, knowing exactly what they entailed before they applied.

Here are two facts that may surprise you. CalPERS, the largest state public pension system, keeps lots of statistics. Their numbers show that the post-retirement life expectancy of police officers, highway patrol officers, firefighters and other public safety personnel is identical to other public employees. And, if you go on the internet and examine the lists of jobs with the highest occupational fatality rates, they show that commercial fishermen, roofers, loggers, farmers, pilots, truck and taxi drivers have higher fatality rates on the job than police officers or fire fighters. When openings in public safety jobs occur, there are always lots of applicants, because they pay very well, have lots of opportunities for overtime and you can retire very young with a nice pension and generous health care. Many go on to lucrative second careers.

The public has only recently begun to focus on just how generous pay and benefits for public employees at almost every level have become in the last 15 years or so. The information is not readily available, because public agencies have many tools to hide or obfuscate it, and every incentive to do so. Ironically, federal employment is, in most respects, much less lucrative than at state, county and city levels. But the simple fact is that, blame whoever you want, the situation is unsustainable financially and simply must be corrected.

William Bradshaw
San Diego, CA

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The Great Russian River Race Fun-Raiser

Benefit for Clean River Recreation
Saturday, May 7, 2011 • Healdsburg

Deep in the heart of Sonoma, the Russian River winds its way through breath-taking scenery from Lake Mendocino to the Pacific Ocean. This spring, the heat is being turned-up with the launch of the Great Russian River Race.

Who Benefits

A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Sonoma County Regional Parks to contribute to the installation of the Healdsburg Veterans Memorial Dam. This dam has served as the community “swimming pool” on the River for over 100 years.

A portion will also go to Russian Riverkeeper’s Clean Campus Clean Creeks program. The program teaches area high school students about urban runoff pollution and helps them become part of the solution by building pollution reducing rain gardens on their campus.

Join Us For The Festivities!

Not Racing? Everyone is welcome to cheer on the racers at the finish line. Please join us for the River Race Party, which will offer great food, beverages and live music on the banks of the river.

The Russian River has a rich history in hosting river events, dating back to 1908. In this tradition, Russian Riverkeeper, River's Edge and Sonoma County Regional Parks Department will host the inaugural Great Russian River Race.

What's Happening

On May 7th, the Great Russian River Race will attract some of the world’s top canoeing and kayaking athletes, local adventurers, social paddlers and corporate teams to race in two separate events.

Advanced and expert paddlers will compete in a class II, 15-mile Bridge-to-Bridge Race from the Alexander Valley Bridge. Intermediate and corporate team paddlers will do battle over the 5-mile Rio Lindo Race, starting north of Healdsburg.

The respective races will finish at the Healdsburg Memorial Bridge, welcomed by the River Race Party. Over $5,000 in cash and prizes will be awarded to the winners at the Race Cup Ceremony.

Who Should Enter

The emphasis of the Great Russian River Race is on adventure, competition and fun. Competitors and spectators will have the opportunity to participate in a world class sporting event, while enjoying the surroundings of one of the most beautiful wine regions in the world.

Athletes may use their own kayaks, canoes and surfskis or rent from River’s Edge Kayak and Canoe, the professional outfitter that will manage the river operations, safety and logistics.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Hands for Japan - SSU Students reach Out to Help

Devastation in Japan Prompts 
Grassroots Fundraising Campaign

While the world watches the devastation in Japan unfold, a group of students from the Sonoma State American Language Institute are taking action.

Fusao Yoshimoto is a student organizer for "Hands for Japan," the grassroots student fundraising group that has so far collected nearly $500 for the victims of last week's 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami.

"As Japanese students and Sonoma county residents, we want to support the people who are presently suffering in Japan," reads the group's Facebook page.

The campaign began over the weekend, as students looked for a way to help the thousands--if not millions--of people impacted by last week's catastrophe.

"We are trying to raise $10,000 to donate to the Red Cross Japan," reads the group's mission statement.

They are also educating people on other ways to donate, such as texting to various organizations to auto-donate a small amount of money.

Various campus groups are now becoming involved with "Hands for Japan," including the community service group JUMP and members of the student leadership.

"We're just overwhelmed by the support from everyone right now," says student Kendall Shelffo, a volunteer at the American Language Institute. Currently, "Hands for Japan" is accepting cash or personal checks, and is working with the on-campus branch of US Bank.

"We will be responsible for your donations, and we will keep it securely in our bnk account," the group assures. "We will send 100% of your donations to Red Cross."
Yoshimoto adds that the group will continue to collect donations for as long as it takes.

For more information, or to donate to Hands for Japan, visit their Facebook page at or email

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Red Cross Responds to Disasters in Japan

Red Cross responding to aftermath of disasters in Japan

Authorities estimate at least 370,000 people have been evacuated or displaced from their homes in Japan, following the devastating earthquake and tsunami on March 11. Many of them have evacuated to the 2,000 shelters operated by the government and supported by the Japanese Red Cross. Local Red Cross volunteers in Japan have handed out more than 46,000 blankets so far and nearly 28,000 more have been sent to the affected area for further distribution.

A disaster expert from the American Red Cross arrived today in Toyko to serve on a seven-person, international team focused on providing high-level support and advice to the Japanese Red Cross following last week’s earthquake and tsunami. Within days, she will conduct assessments from some of the hardest hit areas in the north.

Given widespread damage and enormous humanitarian needs, the Japanese Red Cross indicated that it would accept financial support from the American Red Cross for its role providing first aid, emotional support and relief items to those displaced.

The Japanese Red Cross is a highly experienced disaster relief organization with two million volunteers nationwide. It has deployed 95 medical teams, made up of more than 700 people, including doctors and nurses, to aid in the recovery effort.

In California, communities are beginning recovery from tsunamis in Crescent City and Santa Cruz, where docks and boats were destroyed in minutes. At the peak of the tsunami, nearly 350 people in Crescent City were evacuated to Red Cross shelters.


Individuals can assist the Red Cross response effort, both internationally and locally, by making a financial donation in a variety of ways:

· All of Redwood Credit Union’s branches are now accepting donations from members and the public to assist the Red Cross response effort in Japan.

· secure online sites: or

· by phone: (707) 577-7600

· by texting REDCROSS to 90999; this enables donors to make a $10 donation to help those affected by the earthquake in Japan and tsunami throughout the Pacific.

· by U.S. mail to: American Red Cross, Sonoma, Mendocino, & Lake Counties, 5297 Aero Drive, Santa Rosa, CA 95403.

Red Cross encourages residents to take this opportunity to check their own disaster preparedness. Important suggestions include:

· Immediately after an earthquake, shut off gas if there is a leak or fire.

· Strap down large furniture.

· Make a preparedness plan and rehearse it with family members.

· A U.S. government publication, “Putting Down Roots in Earthquake Country,” provides extensive advice.

· A full 16-week plan is available online at
Additional resources include the online Red Cross store ( and the Red Cross store in Santa Rosa, located on 5297 Aero Drive, both of which offer first aid kits, emergency radios, emergency preparedness kits and much more.

American Red Cross is a neutral, humanitarian organization that provides relief to victims of disasters, and prepares people to prevent and respond to emergencies. Like all Red Cross chapters, local chapters are self-sustaining and funded by local contributions. All assistance to disaster victims and to members of the armed forces provided by the Chapter is free and made possible by voluntary donations of time and money by the American people.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Returning to a LEGAL Tax System - OPINION

Pat Palmer of Sebastopol on Celebrating tax opinion...

'Tis the tax season, so this is a timely topic, especially after reading stories of tight money from so many in this county. Instead of complaining, let's consider remedies. One solution that most of us can employ: get a raise in pay. No, your business isn't going to give you more, but you can take more home: by not volunteering to donate up to half of your pay to the IRS.

Note to "tax protesters": the "income" tax law is indeed constitutional, as written. It is an excise tax, like sales tax -which is voluntary, (you don't have to choose to buy stuff).

Just what is being taxed? Not earnings. According to the IRS code: "the exercise of Federal privilege" is being taxed, and it is measured by "gross income" or "wages" (revenue accumulated via the privilege). What Federal privilege are you exercising today? Earning a living? Existing? (there's no law preventing us from giving up our rights.) This "privilege" is defined in law, and most of us don't fall into that category.

What is unconstitutional is the way the IRS collects money: This excise tax is  fraudulently enforced as a mandatory, direct tax on earnings—and extorted by threat of imprisonment. Looks like criminal behavior to me! Racketeering defined: “Organized conspiracy to defraud or extort.” This accurately describes the “income” tax scheme which relieves its victims of up to half of their money every payday.

After 60 years of trial-and-error legal challenges to the "new" personal withholding tax (started in WWII, as the voluntary, and temporary "Victory Tax"), resulting in losses and jail time for well-meaning but legally ignorant tax-justice advocates, the IRS Code was finally cracked in 2002. The only safe, legal way to un-volunteer from this racket was uncovered by legal scholar Peter Eric Hendrickson. You can prove it to yourself by studying his website at and reading his book: Cracking the Code: The Fascinating Truth About Taxation in America (12th edition). This is the result of his reading the entire 3.5-million-word, deliberately obfuscated statutes, regulations and legal precedents for the "income" tax, as far back as 1862.

After satisfying yourself as to the veracity of my words, you might be more comfortable acting on my proposed solution; in a nutshell: to start with, demand that your payer ("employer" means US Gov't) stop all “voluntary” withholding from your paycheck and then enjoy an instant pay raise of 30 percent or more. At the end of the year, you file your 1040 and 540 affidavits of self-assessment of the status of your compensation: as non-privileged (non-taxable), if applicable. Then you MUST rebut your payer's false allegations of “wages” paid, via the W-2 and/or 1099 forms. You do this by using "corrected 1099 information returns" and/or substitute W-2's: form 4852 for U.S. and form 3525 for California.

Lastly, if your payer had unlawfully refused to stop withholding, then you can claim a full refund of all of your weekly tax deposits -right on the U.S. and California tax returns. Enjoy the bigger check! You are now helping to stimulate the economy, like thousands of folks before you.

I can’t imagine why a payer would not want to stop withholding. >From a balance-sheet perspective: thousands of dollars per year, per worker could be saved in payer’s contributions. Only fear of the racketeers would stop them, unless they could find honest lawyers who would choose to apply the law.

I can hear the liberals moan about how their social programs (and for the conservatives -their military adventures) would lose funding if we fail to volunteer our compliance with the “income” tax scheme. Poppycock! Have you ever looked at the reverse of your tax payment check? It was cashed by a private bank called Federal Reserve, not the U.S. Treasury. Your donations never see a government program—those are paid for by loans. All income tax receipts pay the interest on the so-called "national debt".

The definition of "federal privilege" needs to clarified in order to make sure all the loopholes are closed, so that all who use it will pay for it.

Only the innocent are benefited by my proposed solution. This excise tax on federally privileged activities will finally be properly paid by all federal employees, contractors and beneficiaries of federally-created monopoly advantage, such as medical doctors, lawyers, bankers, pro sports team owners, etc. Also include corporations that possess federal concessions such as oil, mining, utilities, broadcasting, drugs, banks, etc. And don't forget international business: U.S. corporations that rely on federal political pressure, military and intelligence activities to acquire and protect their foreign assets. These infamous non-payers are definitely “federally privileged.”

As you can see, returning to a legal tax system accomplishes fiscal relief for the private worker while the fat cats who use lobbying to get government corporate welfare will be properly charged for their advantages. As Moses declared, “Let my people go!” Make the legally liable taxpayers pay their fair share, and release the non-liable. Let us (private earners) seize our rights by grassroots action, because rights are not going to be given from on-high.  Vote with your wallet and your public servants will cease to be your masters.

Pat Palmer, Sebastopol

For more information on the Law & Logic behind this opinion - please visit

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Volunteers Mentors Needed for Neglected Children

Sonoma County CASA 
Seeks Volunteer Mentors
For Neglected Children

Every day in Sonoma County, children are removed from their homes because they have been abused, neglected, or abandoned. Through no fault of their own, these children are made dependents of the Juvenile Court and enter a world where an overburdened legal system sometimes cannot hear their voices.

These youth need a CASA advocate to provide consistent and personal support as they go through months and sometimes years of legal procedures. All too often, the children are moved from one temporary placement to another, never knowing what it is to have the comfort of a permanent home. The CASA volunteer provides human contact that the youth need and the adult experience and savvy the court needs to make better decisions for them. Juvenile court officials have identified an additional 42 youth who need advocates and CASA is appealing to Sonoma County residents to volunteer. CASA advocates are asked to spend a minimum of 10-12 hours a month on their case.

Executive Director, Millie Gilson, states that there are approximately 142 volunteers, and hopes to recruit another 20 with the next training.

The training, which takes place over three and a half days begins Thursday, April 21st from 10:00-1:00, then runs from Tuesday, April 26th, through Thursday, April 28th from 8:30-5:00. Classes are held at CASA’s office at the Los Guilicos complex near Oakmont in Santa Rosa. 

For more information, contact Gilson at (707) 565-6375.

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St. Pitty's Day at Sonoma County Animal Shelter

Sonoma County Animal Shelter offers One Day
$25 Pit Bull Adoption Special

Sonoma County Animal Care and Control is hoping that our homeless Pit Bulls catch some 
“Luck of the Irish” this St. Pitty’s Day!

Join us at Sonoma County Animal Shelter for a Pit Bull adoption event this Thursday, March 17, 2011, from noon through 4:30pm.

If you are considering adopting, you may bring your dog to St. Pitty’s Day so we can host meet-and-greets.

Pit Bulls are energetic, highly-trainable and friendly dogs that love attention. They tend to be highly affectionate and make great family pets. In fact, some Pit Bulls are excellent with children. They were bred to have a high tolerance for pain, so they can endure the antics of kids. They also have the capacity to play for hours.

Sonoma County Animal Care and Control is open Tuesday through Saturday, noon-5:30 p.m. Adoptions can be processed until 4:30 p.m. daily. Their mission is to protect the health and safety of people and animals, investigate and prosecute animal cruelty, abuse and neglect cases, educate the public about responsible domestic animal ownership, reduce pet overpopulation through spay/neuter programs, provide a safe environment for animals in need and place adoptable animals into caring homes. Sonoma County Animal Care and Control enforces local, state, and federal laws pertaining to animals, and operates a full service animal shelter serving more than 5,000 animals annually. 

For more information, visit or call 707-565-7100.

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Friends of Shollengerber Park Volunteers Support Applauded

Huge Volunteer Effort 
Scans 70,000 Pages to Prepare the Administrative Record 
for Dutra Challenge Lawsuit

Thirty volunteers from Friends of Shollenberger, Moms for Clean Air, Petaluma Tomorrow, The River Council and other individuals worked in teams of 4-5, morning and afternoon shifts, for two weeks at the County Offices to help prepare the Administrative Record for the Dutra legal challenge. The official record includes all reports, responses, comments, e-mails, meeting records and minutes, gathered from the original application for the project in 2004 through the final decision by the Supervisors on Dec. 14, 2010. All of your letters, e-mails, and signed petitions were there in boxes. It was inspiring to see how many of you took the time to thoughtfully weigh in against the Dutra proposal.

We also transcribed tapes of the entire supervisors’ meetings on Dutra (Oct. 12, 2010 and Dec. 14, 2010 (where the public was prohibited from commenting.) This is the foundation for our Brown Act (public meeting) claims, newly added to the lawsuit.

Any evidence must be part of the Administrative record or it cannot be considered in a CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) challenge. The record will be digitized, indexed, organized, and submitted to County Counsel for confirmation of accuracy and completeness.

We are grateful to the tireless and dedicated volunteers who scanned the record. Hiring the County to do this task would have cost upwards of $50K, or hiring a private scanning service, upwards of 10K. Instead fellow citizens took time off from work and family to do the job.

Please donate to show your support of these volunteers, the health of our community, and the right to protect the environment via CEQA. If each of you sent in $30 today, one dollar for each scanning volunteer, we could easily meet this month’s funding needs.

The legal challenge can stop the asphalt factory at this location: no sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic entering and exiting town, no holding your breath and rolling up your windows against noxious fumes, no avoiding Shollenberger Park with its blighted view of asphalt storage silos and toxic “blue smoke” from hot asphalt filled trucks.

You can help shape the future of Petaluma by DONATING.

Go to and clicking our Friends/PayPal Donate logo, making a tax-deductible on-line donation. OR write checks, also tax-deductible, made out to the O.W.L. Foundation, note: Friends of Shollenberger.

Mail the check to
Friends of Shollenberger, PO Box 2114, Petaluma, CA 94953.

Check out our new LOGO on our website, the Black Necked Stilt
Send in your ideas on how to build momentum to

Thanks to all of you,
Joan Cooper for Friends of Shollenberger

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Monday, March 14, 2011

SAVE Public Broadcasting - Two Good Deeds

Marketers: Save Public Media 
– and Build Your Brand, Too!
By Michael E. Dortch

So are you underwriting any podcasts or programs on your local public media outlet yet? If not, you're missing some great opportunities to do well while doing good.

My wife works for Community Action Partnership of Sonoma County, one of the many charitable agencies facing possibly significant cuts in federal funding. (President Obama specifically mentioned the Community Action Partnership network, started by President Lyndon Johnson as part of his "war on poverty, as one of the programs it would pain Obama to cut.) The Sonoma County CAP agency hosts the local edition of the annual LunaFest fund- and consciousness-raising festival of short films by, for and about women. Funds are shared between the Breast Cancer Fund and local charities chosen by the local hosts. For LunaFest Wine Country, the local beneficiary in 2010 was Sonoma County's Sloan House Women's Shelter.

At around the same time pre-event publicity was gearing up for the 2010 edition of LunaFest Wine Country, KRCB-FM, my local public radio station, was having a pledge drive. The team there had previously come up with an "Activist" membership level – $200 for a year, payable monthly via credit or debit card. It buys you membership and attendant goodies, AND a professionally recorded and produced public service announcement, broadcast 10 times during morning and evening drive time.

But all of the announcements I'd heard ended with wording along the lines of "This announcement is brought to you by a KRCB listener." So I asked if I could have an announcement about LunaFest Wine Country recorded, produced and broadcast, ending with something like "This announcement is brought to you by KRCB member"

And the fine folks at KRCB-FM said "Yes." And they did it. And LunaFest Wine Country pre-event ticket sales were better than they'd been in years. And I got some great local publicity that I'm in the process of turning into business and additional charitable opportunities. And all in all, it was probably the best money I have ever spent and perhaps will ever spend on marketing myself, given the combination of business publicity and good will.

Right now, even as I type this, public media funding from the federal government is in danger of being completely eliminated. If your local stations are anything like mine, which basically run on shoestring budgets, this could mean a sudden reduction in funding of anywhere between 25 and more than 45 percent, according to published reports.

Are you working?
Imagine if your income were suddenly reduced by 25 percent to 45 percent. If you're paid weekly, this would mean between one and two out of every four paychecks, gone. You'd probably have to make some pretty serious budget cuts and some pretty hard choices. That's what public radio and television stations across the country are contemplating right now.

(Even if your local stations are pretty flush, their abilities to produce local content could take a serious hit. As could their incentive to produce investigative programming that questions or challenges the federal government and/or corporations that are or could become major donors. And besides, I think you might appreciate living in a country governed by people who see real value in helping to fund the sharing of culture, fact-based news reporting and local events and organizations. But maybe that's just me.)

Anyway, there's a local public radio or television station near you right now, trying to deliver value to its constituents while fighting for funding every day. And the people who consume the content those stations deliver are likely customers or prospects you're already pursuing…or should be. And public media underwriting opportunities are numerous, affordable, locally targeted and highly appreciated.

So tune into your local public media outlet(s) if you don't already. Find a podcast to sponsor, or a program to underwrite (and/or to appear upon). Take out an ad in the station's program guide, in print or online. Your brand will benefit, and you'll feel better. (And if you need more specific guidance or advice to pursue these opportunities, I know a guy who'd be glad to offer you a complementary initial consultation...)

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Tick-bite Prevention Video Contest

Lyme Disease  needs a little Creative HELP!
Public Service announcement Video Contest
$350 award

The California Department of Public Health and the DEET Education Program are excited to announce the launch of our Tick-bite Prevention Video Public Service Announcement (PSA) Contest! The purpose of the contest is to create short video public service announcements to help people understand how to prevent tick-bites.

The contest is open to California residents only. There are two age and award categories for the Video PSA:
1) 17 and younger
2) 18 and older

The first place winner in both categories will receive $350 and an award certificate. The winning videos may be featured on broadcast TV and/or radio and on government and partner websites and will remain available on YouTube. The winners may be invited to press events and/or asked to appear in future contest promotional videos. Other awards certificates will be issued for winners receiving second or third place or honorable mention.

Complete contest rules and entry forms can be found at: Entries are being accepted through April 1, 2011.

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Environmentalists Defeat Bohemian Grove Logging Plan

Victory for the Forest & Watershed

Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Rene Chouteau ruled today that the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CALFIRE) violated the California Environmental Quality Act  (CEQA) when it approved the Bohemian Club’s 100-year logging plan for the Bohemian Grove.

The ruling in the case, Sierra Club v CALFIRE, is a win for environmentalists who for years waged a David and Goliath-style battle in an effort to scale back logging at the Bohemian Club’s 2,700-acre Bohemian Grove near Monte Rio, 75 miles north of San Francisco.

“The ruling is significant because it requires CALFIRE to consider reasonable alternatives that are less damaging to the environment,” said Paul Carroll, the Sierra Club attorney who successfully argued the case.

Environmentalists had opposed the Bohemian Club’s Non-industrial Timber Management Plan (NTMP) , which sought CALFIRE’s approval to log up to nearly two million board feet per year, including some old growth, at the Bohemian Grove. The Sierra Club’s lawsuit maintained that the Bohemian Club initially overstated the amount of timber that could be sustainably harvested, in violation of CEQA.

The Bohemian Grove, the Bohemian Club’s elite enclave on the Russian River, contains magnificent redwoods and Douglas fir, some more than 1,000 years old.  Coastal old-growth redwoods remain on only 4 to 5 percent of their original range— a 450-mile band along the Pacific coast from Big Sur, California to southern Oregon.

The Bohemian Club’s NTMP drew hundreds of public comments, more than any other in the history of California’s 1972 Forest Practices Act. In this ruling, Judge Chouteau questioned how CALFIRE could consider clear cutting as potentially feasible, but reject the public’s request for less damaging alternatives.

“This ruling affirms that public participation in the permitting process is essential to protecting the state’s remaining old growth,” said John Hooper, a long time forest activist and former Bohemian Club member whose objections to the logging plan led to the lawsuit.

In 2001, while a member of the Bohemian Club, Hooper hiked the outlying acres of the Bohemian Grove. He came upon large old-growth redwoods and Douglas fir that had been tagged for harvest. He learned that the Bohemian Club, citing the need for fire prevention, had applied for a permit (NTMP) to harvest 1.13 to 1.8 million board feet per year. A 2001 internal report by the Bohemian Grove’s then-forester had concluded that the Grove could only sustain a maximum cut of 500,000 board feet in a year without damaging the forest.

The Bohemian Club had logged 11 million board feet between 1984 and 2005, including old growth trees. At least nine old-growth stands were still intact, but Hooper found that these hadn’t been disclosed in the Bohemian Club’s NTMP.  State regulations require landowners to divulge “special and unique” resources on their property so that logging plans can be accurately evaluated. CALFIRE requires that NTMP timber harvest goals be sustainable.

Hooper, a fourth-generation member of the Bohemian Club, went to the Bohemian Club’s Board with his concerns. He was rebuffed. Eventually shunned by the Bohemian Club for his opposition to its logging regime, Hooper resigned his membership in 2004. He and a small group of North Coast activists protested the Bohemian Club’s logging plan to CALFIRE.

Scientists from UCLA and UC-Davis disputed the Bohemian Club’s sustainability and fire safety claims. The California Department of Fish and Game also criticized the plan.

"From start to finish, this was clearly a logging project, not a project to reduce the fire hazard,” said Philip Rundel, Distinguished Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UCLA. “The harvest rates and cutting schedules were totally inconsistent with the plan’s claims of restoring natural forest conditions.”

As a result of the criticism, the Bohemians scaled back their NTMP. The Bohemian Club resubmitted its NTMP  in 2009, but offered no “feasible alternatives” to the proposed logging, as CEQA requires. CALFIRE approved the plan anyway, just two days before stronger regulations protecting Russian River salmon and steelhead took effect.

Concerned about the challenge to the integrity of CEQA, the Sierra Club filed suit in January 2010. In today’s ruling, the Court ordered CALFIRE to rescind its permit to the Bohemian Club and start over.

“Now that the court has rejected the Bohemian Club's NTMP, we’ll be working closely with CALFIRE and the Bohemian Club to come up with a new timber management plan,” said Jay Halcomb, chair of the Sierra Club’s Redwood Chapter. “In a way, our work is just beginning. We hope it will proceed in a more constructive manner than in the past. Restoring old-growth stocks will help California combat climate change.”

The Bohemian Club is synonymous with power, wealth and influence. Founded in San Francisco in 1872 by a group of journalists, artists and musicians, the Club soon began to accept government leaders, bankers, and industrialists as permanent members. Members pay $25,000 or more to join the exclusive, male-only Club in addition to annual dues that entitle them to participate in "encampments" held each summer at the Bohemian Grove.

The Bohemian Club is estimated to have 2,500 members. David Rockefeller, George H.W. Bush, Henry Kissinger, Donald Rumsfeld, George Schulz, the Koch brothers, members of the Bechtel family, and Clint Eastwood, are among the more illustrious members. Local Bohemians include musicians Steve Miller as well as Mickey Hart and Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead.

“Today’s victory shows that no matter how influential a group may be, it is not exempt from the law,”
said Rick Coates, executive director of Forest Unlimited in Cazadero and a veteran of many redwood battles.

For more information:

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

LEETERS: Collpapse of the Housing Market Events

Dear Vesta,

The author of subject article had written, " was big business and the wealthy who gamed the deregulated financial system to make huge profits. Their speculation in the home mortage markets triggered the Great Recession..". But the collapse of the housing market need to rescue several banks was caused primarily by other events.

The four fundamental events that let to the housing bust of 2008, which spread to the financial markets and beyond are:

EVENT 1: In 1997 Congress passed the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) to address alleged discrimination by banks in making loans to poor people and minorities. The Act required banks to meet credit needs of communities in which they are chartered. In 1989, Congress amended the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act requiring banks to collect racial data on mortgage applications. The Boston Federal Reserve Bank alleged systemic discrimination in loan making. Although the Boston Fed Reserve allegation was disproven by a University of Texas study and other studies, it became the standard on which government policy was based.

In 1995 the Clinton administration Treasury Department issued regulations tracking loans by neighborhoods, income groups, and races to rate the performance of banks. These ratings were used by regulators to determine whether the government would approve bank mergers, acquisitions, and new branches. Racial data collected and these regulations encouraged ACORN and other groups to file petitions with regulators to slow banks from conducting business and to extort huge pools of money for the purpose of ACORN home lending. Government, together with ACORN, forced banks to abandon traditional lending standards and to make “subprime” loans to people without sufficient incomes necessary to repay the loans. These became known as CRA-eligible loans; one estimate puts their total at $4.5 trillion.

EVENT 2: In 1992 the Department of Housing and Urban Development pressured Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to purchase, or “securitize” large bundles of CRA loans for the purpose of diversifying risk and making even more money available to banks to make further risky loans. Congress also passed the Federal Housing Enterprise Financial Safety and Soundness Act, mandating that Fred and Fan purchase 45 percent of all loans from people of low and moderate incomes, creating a secondary market for these loans. In 1995 the Treasury Department established the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund, which provided banks with tax dollars to encourage even more risky loans. But this was not enough. Top Congressional Democrats, including Rep Barney Frank, Sen. Chris Dodd, and Sen. Charles Schumer, among others, repeatedly ignored warnings of pending disaster, insisting that they were overstated and opposed efforts to force Fred and Fan to comply with usual business and oversight practices. Top executives, including Franklin Raines and Jamie Garelick, resisted reform while they were cooking the books in order to reward themselves tens of millions of dollars in bonuses. Franklin Raines earned $90 million by inflating reported loan amounts.

EVENT 3: Fed and Fan reinvented the “derivative” for application to the subprime mortgage market to redistribute these risky loans to unsuspecting investors and thus further increase the market for these loans. The derivative would turn the subprime market into a ticking time bomb that would magnify the housing bust by orders of magnitude. A derivative is a contract where one party sells the RISK associated with the mortgage to another party in exchange for payments to that company based on the value of the mortgage. It was both a betting system and a form of insurance. The bet set the value. So long as the bet was covered, the mortgage was secured. Derivatives were a way to capitalize in an exponential manor on appreciating real-estate prices. But if derivatives ever collapsed, and since mark to market rules were resisted by government, the actual price of properties would fall out of proportion to what would have been the case had derivatives not existed. As bets on the underlying derivatives declined, banks were forced to devalue assets accordingly, placing banks in jeopardy of failing. Hedge funds, financial institutions and insurance companies, including American International Group (AIG) invested heavily in derivatives.

EVENT 4: The Federal Reserve Board slashed interest rates repeatedly starting in January 2001, from 6.5 percent until they reached a low in June 2003 of 1.0 percent. When the easy money policy became too inflationary for comfort, Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan (at the beginning) and Ben Bernanke (at the end) began to steadily raise the Fed rate back from 1.0 percent in June 2004 to 5.25 percent in June 2006. This artificial manipulation or the housing market contributed to destabilization of the economy.

Rod Hug
Santa Rosa

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Russian River Watershed Protection Committee UPDATES

River friends:

For many years RRWPC has been submitting comments to the State Water Board and the Regional Board expressing concerns about their Water Recycling Policy that allows "incidental runoff" by wastewater irrigators.   In the State's development of the Policy a few years ago, the legalization of incidental runoff caused the greatest controversy.  A committee representing many interests was appointed to negotiate the controversy, and they compromised by agreeing to establish a "blue ribbon" scientific panel to determine how to monitor the unregulated chemicals, including personal care products and pharmaceuticals, etc., also referred to as "chemicals of emerging concern" (CECs).

These chemicals have a strong potential for getting into the waterways through wastewater irrigation runoff.  (Tertiary treated wastewater does not remove all contaminants.)  it has been well documented that they can cause potential birth defects, cancer, endocrine disruption, etc. in humans and wildlife. The special committee did not even consider impacts on wildlife.

The recent preliminary findings of the scientific panel are that no additional monitoring of unregulated contaminants is necessary for urban irrigation projects. (Monitoring is only regulated for approximately 150 constituents. Many thousands are not regulated.)

We question their findings because they did not look at chemical compounds, but only a relatively few select individual constituents.  They did not look at synergistic or cumulative effects of multiple exposures of either the same chemical exposure or a range of chemicals.  They made no attempt to address impacts from most of the 80,000 chemicals currently being produced.

They did not look at impacts from bioaccumulation in soils, nor the potential for impacting groundwater quality.  (They assumed that wastewater would be applied in such a way so as to not seep into groundwater.) They considered, but did not fully address the impacts of these chemicals on infants and young people, elderly people and those with compromised immune systems.

We are extremely concerned that irrigation runoff will also carry other chemicals used to treat the soil and kill the bugs and weeds, such as soil amendments, pesticides and herbicides, off the site and into our impaired and highly utilized waterways.  This runoff might occur in the summer when flows are low, assimilation  poor, and human contact high, not to mention the prospect of further reductions in Russian River flow imminent as a result of proposed changes to Decision 1610.

To top things off, we have recently learned about a new and very serious issue. (See attachments) Thyroid cancer patients are often given a radio-active "cocktail" to destroy remaining thyroid cancer cells in their blood stream. In Europe patients having these cocktails remain in isolation in hospitals for several days while they are "radio active" and until the material fully leaves their system.  This was also done in the United States at least through the 1970's, if not longer.  It appears that the insurance companies lobbied to change this rule in the 1990's because of the high cost.

Patients normally remained in almost full isolation for about three days.  All body fluids, all water the patient came in contact with, including toilet and bath water, all food utensils and all materials in the room were placed into protected storage for about 50 years, the time it would take to de-contaminate the material.  Nothing left the room without being checked by a geiger counter and anything contaminated went into long term storage.  The attached letter goes into further detail. (RRWPC/Basin Plan Amend/2-15-11)  I can personally attest to this practice.

Currently, people are either sent home or go to hotels.  Their water waste is flushed into the sewer system.  We have never seen this issue addressed and it is not even addressed in the Markey letter to the Atomic Energy Commission included above.  Representative Markey was primarily concerned about the risk to public health by allowing people to reside in hotels and motels until the radiation wears off, thereby exposing large numbers of the public to excessive radiation.  As far as we know, nobody addressed the impacts to the environment from flushing radio-active waste.

In the meantime, the State authorized the Water Recycling Policy and our local Regional Water Board included the authorization of "low threat" discharges, including incidental runoff as part of their new Storm Water Permit.  They also authorized a Basin Plan Amendment that allowed for this practice to occur locally.  Throughout the process, we pleaded for better definition of how incidental runoff would be regulated.  We believe that it is far too vague.  In effect, this new policy allows summer discharge under certain circumstances into a waterway that is already highly impaired for nutrients, other conventional pollutants and who knows what else?

Dr. Dave Smith, Managing Director of the WateReuse California (and 25 year consultant to the City of Santa Rosa)  provided comments to support the Regional Board's approval of this policy and the amendment. He also played a lead role in setting up the committee and its agenda at the State level.  At Regional Board meetings on this issue, he was called on to speak after RRWPC comments were complete and he minimized, if not dismissed every one of our concerns to the Board.  Not one Regional Board member expressed any support for any of the concerns we raised.

Incidental runoff is very loosely defined in the new regulations and policy. In the Healdsburg permit it relies on self reporting by the irrigator (up to 1000 gallons on ag parcels in Healdsburg's NPDES permit).  Healdsburg worked hard and successfully to loosen up the new provisions, since vineyard owners were saying that they will not take the water if they have to follow all the regulations.

The Basin Plan Amendment is very vague and somewhat ambiguous about what will happen if a spill should occur.  Supposedly the irrigator is responsible to report runoff to the permit holder (for example, the City of Healdsburg), who then is responsible to report to the Regional Board.  This Policy does not apply to ag irrigation, but the ability to self-report up to 1000 gallons is a hint of how the policy will be defined.

We are particularly concerned that the Regional Board has been losing manpower who cannot be replaced and they will be relying on the dischargers to provide the critical resources needed to regulate these activities (and others as well).   The fox will be in charge of the chicken house and potential for abuse of this program, to the detriment of water quality, will be of great concern.

The Basin Plan Amendment waited for State Board approval for over a year.  They finally noticed a comment period that happened at almost the same time as the Estuary Project (Did someone plan it that way?).  We were unable to get notices out because we were afraid the public would get confused if we tried to cover two issues.  Comments were due two days after the due date for the Estuary Project.  We managed to get the attached letter in, but could not solicit other letters.  They acknowledged that they received our letter, but no one responded to our comments.

Now there is a State Board meeting on this on Amendment approval on March 15th. We don't know if we can attend and we think it is a slam dunk anyway.  The State is determined to spread this WASTEwater far and wide!  I hate to sound pessimistic, but I don't think we stand a chance on this one.  I just wanted to inform you of this issue.  We will continue to track this and ask your help by reporting to us ANY over-irrigation you see this summer time. (  Potable water is not supposed to be over-irrigated either.  Any wet spots on sidewalks and streets are not allowed.  Ponding on landscape is not allowed.  If you can take a picture, please do.  Also note the exact date, time, and location.  We will be watching!  If you want to pick a spot to watch on a regular basis, we will try to set that up.  We have found pictures of polluting activities to be enormously effective is getting them to stop the practice.  Please help us.

Finally, we have attached a series of definitions of the Precautionary Principle and references that supports the idea that polluting activities should not be allowed until they are proven fully safe, NOT allowed until they are proved fully unsafe, as it is done now!

We felt this was important material to spread around.  Please pass on to friends and other interested parties.

Brenda Adelman
Russian River Watershed Protection Committee

Definitions of Precautionary Principle on the Web:
• The precautionary principle states that if an action or policy has suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of a scientific consensus that harm would not ensue, the burden of proof falls on those who would advocate taking the action. ...

• Assumption of the worst case scenario with respect to actions whose outcomes are uncertain.

• The concept that precautionary action can be taken to mitigate a perceived risk. Action may be justified even if the probability of that risk occurring is small, because the outcome might be very adverse.

• The view that when science has not yet determined whether a new product or process is safe or unsafe, policy should prohibit or restrict its use until it is known to be safe. Applied to trade, this has been used as the basis for prohibiting imports of GMOs, for example.

• This principle establishes that a lack of information does not justify the absence of management measures. On the contrary, management measures should be established in order to maintain the conservation of the resources. ...

• Where significant environmental damage may occur, but the knowledge on the matter is incomplete, decisions made and measures implemented should err on the site of caution.

• where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.

• a moral principle used to guide decisionmaking and prevent harm: When there is an activity or product that could threaten human health or the environment, precaution should be taken, even before there is scientific proof that the activity or product is harmful. ...

• The obligation to take preventive action when a chemical is suspected of causing harm to human health and/or the environment in the absence of conclusive scientific evidence in order to ensure a high level of environmental protection and of human, animal and plant health.

• It is a fundamental component of the concept of ecologically sustainable development (ESD) and has been defined in Principle 15 of the Rio Declaration (1992) United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, Rio, 1992 (the "Rio Declaration"): Where there are threats of serious or ...

• The best environmental policy is to protect the environmental systems as a priority, in particular where the results of an action/procedure are unknown.

• Taking action now to avoid possible environmental damage when the scientific evidence for acting is inconclusive but the potential damage could be great.

• an approach to the management of risk when scientific knowledge is incomplete.

• The principle that when information about potential risks is incomplete, decisions about the future policies should be based on a preference for avoiding unnecessary environmental or health risks.

• The approach whereby any possible risk associated with the introduction of a new technology is avoided, until a full understanding of its impact on health, environment etc. is available. ...


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Rock n' Roll Sock Hop in Occidental

KOWS Sock Hop
March 19 at 7 pm

By Robert Feuer

When did you last attend a sock hop, or even hear of one? On March 19 at 7 pm, at the Occidental Center for the Arts, radio station KOWS will take you back to those early days of rock n’ roll when sock hops, dances usually held in high school gymnasiums, where shoes were removed to protect varnished floors, were all the rage.

The Passions will be playing those oldies but goodies from the mid-1950s to early 60s, dreamy ballads and rockin’ dance numbers, including group dances such as the Limbo and the Stroll. The band is led by two disc jockeys from KGGV in Guerneville; Jimmy the Rock on guitar, and Sister Glitz on saxophone and vocals. Watch for her forays into the crowd, blasting away on her horn. Remaining members are guitarist David Nestor, drummer David Whitehead and bassist, Roadkill. Between live sets, some of Sonoma County’s top deejays will be spinning rare tracks from that bygone era.

Teenage styles of those times are recommended attire for this party: poodle skirts, beehives, French rolls, petticoats, bobby sox, saddle shoes and sweetheart necklines for girls. Waterfall hairstyles, pegged pants, pointy boots and upturned collars for boys. Think Marlon Brando.

And, as if that isn’t enough, the event will also celebrate the full moon, the spring solstice and the return to Daylight Savings Time.

Yummy treats will be available at the dessert bar with soda, juice, tea and coffee to slack your thirst after a frenetic spin over the dance floor.

Gone are the days when rock n’ roll was a battleground between generations, when entrenched bastions of Puritanism and racism tried their best to pull the plug on a “new” musical style, based on compositions black people had been playing for years.

Radio was the front line of this cultural revolution; platters spun by late-night maestros catering to the impressionable minds of schoolkids, tuning in their transistor radios after their parent’s world went to sleep.

“What I like about early rock n’ roll is the feeling that grabs you, a simplicity. I like being able to hear each instrument,” says Sister Glitz. “Also the rawness; you can tell they were having fun with it.” Her radio career began at age four when, on a visit with her mother to a radio studio, the youngster tripped over a cord and unplugged the whole station.

KOWS radio in Occidental, which recently celebrated three years on the airwaves, is commercial-free and collectively operated. Volunteers produce their own shows, bringing their music and guests to the studio. The signal is available at 107.3 FM locally, or streaming at If you’re interested in becoming involved, whether on-air or off-air, contact the station at or 707-874-9090, or download an application at the website above.

The Occidental Center for the Arts, formerly Harmony School, is located at 4008 Bohemian Highway, on the north end of town. The admission price of $10 all goes to keeping radio alive in Occidental.

KOWS 107.3 Occidental is a community radio station for the Kindom of Occidental and West Sonoma county that is licensed to the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center.

KOWS website is located at:


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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Altenberg Trio performs in Occidental

Rare Chance to Hear Masterful
Altenberg Trio Visiting From Vienna
at the Redwood Arts Council concert in Occidental
8 PM on Saturday, April 2

… played it with insightful, precisely controlled fury…nothing short of stunning. 
~The Washington Post

Since its debut in 1994, the Altenberg Trio has given over 1000 performances and earned a reputation as one of the most daring and consistent ensembles of its kind. The trio appears on April 2nd at 8 P.M. in the Occidental Center for the Arts with a program of Haydn’s Trio in d minor, Chausson’s Trio, Opus 3, and Brahms’ Trio in B Major, Opus 8.

One of only two ensembles ever awarded the Robert Schumann Award of the City of Zwickau since 1964, the trio’s repertoire encompasses over 200 piano trios, among them works composed specifically for the trio. It is the Trio-in-Residence of the Vienna Conservatory, and the trio performs regularly at the International Brahms Festival in Austria and provides master classes in Europe and the U.S.

The Altenberg Trio takes pride in remaining faithful to the style and tradition of the “Viennese sound” so often admired in reviews. Violinist Amiram Ganz plays a violin by Goffredo Cappa (1686) and cellist Alexander Gebert plays a cello by Nicolas Vuillaume (1800-1871). The trio currently has 10 recordings on the Challenge label in repertoire ranging from German and French classics to American music.

Pianist Claus-Christian Schuster was born in Vienna in 1952. He studied in Vienna, at Indiana University in Bloomington, and at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory. From 1976 to 1986, Mr. Schuster taught at the Vienna Musikhochschule. He won awards at several international piano and chamber music competitions, performing as a soloist until 1984 when he founded the Vienna Schubert Trio, a regular guest at the most important music centers and renowned chamber music festivals. In 1994, he founded the Altenberg Trio Wien with his colleagues Amiram Ganz and Martin Hornstein.

Violinist Amiram Ganz was born in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1952. At the age of eleven he won the Jeunesses Musicales Competition and then continued his studies in the U.S. He then studied at the International Academy of Chamber Music in Rome, and between 1974 and 1979 at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory. He became first concertmaster of the Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg in 1980. In 1994, he became a founding member of the Altenberg Trio of Vienna. Mr. Ganz teaches at the Strasbourg Conservatory and as a member of the trio, leads seminars for music majors at the Vienna Conservatory.

Cellist Alexander Gebert was born in 1977 to a musical family in Warsaw. He studied cello at the Turku Conservatory in Finland and later at the Sibelius Academy. From 1995 to 1998, he received a Polish state scholarship to study at the Chopin Academy in Warsaw. After graduation, he continued his studies at the Paris Conservatory. Mr. Gebert won his first international contest at the age of 16 and additional prizes as his studies progressed. In 2000, he played with the Orchestre de la Susse Romande, with Heinrich Schiff conducting. He performs widely both as a soloist and chamber musician at many prestigious venues. In 2004 he was invited to join the Altenberg Trio Vienna.

The concert takes place in the new Occidental Center for the Arts, located at the west end of Occidental. The new home for the Redwood Arts features great acoustics and excellent sight lines to the stage. 

This outstanding concert takes place at 8 PM on Saturday, April 2. Tickets may be purchased through, at Handgoods in Occidental, and if available, at the concert. Prices are $25.00 for general admission, and $10.00 for full-time students with ID. Infants and very young children not recommended. For further information, visit or call 874-1124.

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