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Letters to the Editor: 04/01/2018

Letters to the Editor April 1, 2018

Jack London – fact vs. fiction

Dear Editor,

In a recent March 1, 2018, Kenwood Press article, “Charmian London and Harry Houdini?” by Sarah Phelps there is a statement that says a historical novel consists of “…taking facts from history and spinning them with a little fictional fancy – The Secret Life of Mrs. London centers on a love triangle between Charmian, Jack London, and Harry Houdini…” Since there was no such triangle, the spinning of fictional fancy did not come from fact and would have to be considered pure fiction. Charmian did have a short affair with Houdini, but this was in 1918. Since Jack had died in 1916, the triangle would need to have involved Jack’s ghost, which could have added an extra dimensional spin to the book.

In the article Phelps says that, “Jack was an alcoholic, prone to depression, a pathological socializer, and yet the most prolific author of his time, writing more than 20 books in his short lifetime.” I think it would have helped the reader to have the label, “pathological socializer” defined, instead of leaving the reader to ponder its meaning. To correct a significant error, London wrote over 50 books, not 20, and 50 were published. Also, London wrote his manuscripts in longhand and did not dictate them to Charmian as the book’s author, Rebecca Rosenberg, was quoted.

In summation, the book offers a lot of “spin” to some events which are already based on fiction. There will be readers who believe this fiction, even though the book has been labeled as a biographical novel. It would have helped readers avoid confusion if the author had included this label on the front cover.

Lou Leal, Park Historian
Jack London State Historic Park

Proof of transparency

Dear Editor,

In order to proceed with timely review of the last, almost four years of meandering and squabbling over whether to remodel, tear down, build a new building, etc. etc. etc.; the current OVA Board of Directors, considered all information gathered over that four years and voted to give the community what it had overwhelming asked for all along – a remodel and upgrade of the Berger Center on its current footprint.

Given that during those years, leadership threw away any findings that did not support or were in conflict with what they wanted to hear. Current comments [directed at the current board] like, “the community didn’t have ANY input,” “the Board voted without consideration of the current committees work,” “we should revisit the whole question again,” are without merit.

And yet, the current Board’s decision has been under constant attack, both personally and “officially,” including “threats” which are, in my opinion, unprintable.

That said, and in order to proceed with the direction voted upon based on overwhelming community desires, I requested available dates, within the three weeks prior to the OVA elections, to hold a Town Hall meeting for a historical review of the last four years of committees, boards, surveys, focus groups, space utilization report, architectural drawings and other documents, leading to the remodel decision.

The event coordinator provided four dates, within that three-week window, and it was decided to go with a date that would both allow notification of the community, but still fall within the purview of the Board which made the decision to remodel. It was quite simply just a decision of availability and responsibility.

However, when those who had legitimate religious concerns brought those things to the attention of the organizers, I called a number of Catholic churches, Jewish synagogues, Orthodox friends, and gathered relevant information. Of course, the rational conclusion was that “reasonable accommodations” needed to be made.

In a number of discussions with those who voiced concerns, including Oakmont residents both religious and secular, religious authorities, business, leaders, the OVA general manager and myself, it was determined that a “reasonable accommodation” would be to video tape the Town Hall meeting for viewing by all who were not able to attend for “any” reason, thus expanding the ADA definition.

This was met with understanding and agreement by those who expressed concerns. Amazing what reasonable people can accomplish when they desire to find a solution.

Karen Oswald

Cannabis grows in violation

Dear Editor,

The owners of two proposed cannabis grows in Bennett Valley are violating environmental or planning laws while the county allows them to continue to grow their lucrative crops. California Fish and Wildlife has determined that a grower on Matanzas Creek Lane has polluted and diverted a stream channel. Not long ago, the county district attorney pursued a criminal trial against my neighbor for merely clearing streamside brush. A grower on Eagle Ridge has built five huge greenhouses on the ridgeline without a permit. Under the Bennett Valley Area Plan, any development requires preconstruction design review, cannot have a significant adverse effect on adjacent property, must avoid ridgelines, and cannot be commercial. When my family built our home in Bennett Valley the design review procedures delayed us a year. Why won’t the county shut down these business operations until they comply with the law? In reporting on the recent home invasions in Petaluma, CBS News stated “Sonoma County embraces marijuana cultivation with open arms.” The county has gone way too far in protecting marijuana scofflaws. Is the problem a lack of legal authority to enforce the law, or does the county lack the will to do so?

Craig S. Harrison
Bennett Valley

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