Dave Smith: Willits Bypass Letter Exchange…

Letters to the Editor Exchange



I would like to make one simple request of my friends in the anti-Willits bypass community; would you guys please get a life?  I mean, the deal is done; contracts have been let, ground has been broken, millions of dollars worth of equipment has been assembled to carry out the democratically expressed will of the people of California. Whatever shortcomings there may be in our democratic process, it is, in the end, the government under which we live; if you find it intolerable, try moving to Somalia or Iraq, where you can enjoy complete freedom from government (and of course everyone else there can enjoy the freedom to rob, rape etc. with impunity).  After reading Will Parish’s unctuous, messianic article in the AVA, regarding his tree-sit style occupation of a critical piece of heavy equipment, I, like a lot of other folks here in the county, am really starting to get annoyed with the endless, pointless, obstruction of this project; I mean, there were probably routes and designs that I would have preferred to see built, but that ship has sailed! The time for input, over the last several decades, has long since come to a close; all the related regulatory agencies that we have created in California, which must all sign off on any highway project before it can commence, have finally done so.  We must face the fact that IT WILL BE BUILT; the only conceivable effect that further protest of the work that is underway can have is to drive up the total project cost to California taxpayers, along with taking scarce resources away from places where they are sorely needed. Perhaps worst of all, for our close knit Mendocino County community, is the divisiveness, the “us vs. them” dynamic that it perpetuates here in our beloved Mendo home.  Please, let us allow the contractors to make a living, and hopefully, before too long, there will finally be an end to the perpetual traffic jam that has existed in Willits for at least the 40 years or so that I have lived in this county.

Sincerely, John Arteaga, Ukiah, Ca


Regarding John Arteaga’s letter (The AVA, August 30, Online) protesting the Willits Bypass protestors. Arteaga first tells them to “get a life” and then proceeds to roll out some of the same hackneyed, retread arguments that have been used down through the decades against those working for social, environmental, and political change. His points can be summed up as 1. let democracy work, 2. love it or leave it, 3. the ship has sailed, 4. it’s a done deal, 5. it’s divisive, 6. we need the jobs.

Let me remind the writer that nonviolent direct action and civil disobedience have been a vital part of democracy even before Ghandi, Martin Luther King and Cesar Chavez. The underground railroad, women’s sufferage, labor movements, liberation movements, anti-nukes, civil rights, farmworkers organizing, anti-war, environmental protection… have all, with varying successes and failures, been a living part of democracies. It’s the way democracy works.

Nonviolence asks its practioners to sacrifice their own time and their own bodies to encourage progress rather than blowing up things and killing people… by sitting in trees, jail cells, politicians’ offices, and courtrooms; by chaining themselves to equipment; by braving wind, rain and cold; by accepting beatings and shootings; and by suffering harassment by passersby and letter writers. That is how they “get a life.”

In our most recent local past, nonviolent protestors tried to save our forests for long term sustainability, warning that the jobs created by raping the forests would soon be gone, and any chance of living-wage, sustainable, long-term jobs would be lost in the process. They were right. We lost the trees and the jobs. So arguing for short-term jobs building massive cement structures for our rapidly obsolescing, car-centric, nature-killing, climate-changing economy rings hollow.

I am honored to live in a community with neighbors like Will Parrish and Sara Grusky who care enough about our future to go beyond verbal, written, and marching protests and accept being extremely uncomfortable. Yes, it can be divisive, and no, it’s not a done deal.

Dave Smith, Redwood Valley


Stupid by design and proud of it is the creed. No point engaging people who have contempt for logical discourse. Soon enough they will be on the wrong side of things. I try to practice anticipatory compassion for these people. In short order they will need it. There will be little room for blowhards when decent survival means cooperating with everyone to the maximum extent.


Anticipatory compassion is a wonderful phrase, Herb. Its a shame that the Roman Catholic Church no longer sells indulgences over the altar. “Buy ten years of time off your Purgatory sentence and stash it away for that day when you wanted to do something really bad”. I’m afraid that people like John Artega would be unwilling to pay for your anticipatory compassion.

I guess I should have expanded the comment to explain that some people will only respond positively to compassionate regard once they are tamed by learning from experiences they did not want or anticipate. For the time being the horribly dysfunctional division of power in the society promotes their mental illness much as the aggression of a small dog is aided by being on the other side of a stout fence. The fence is coming down soon and the blowhards are likely to suffer unpleasant surprises.

The mentally healthy thing to do is to regard all beings compassionately (starting with ourselves necessarily), the wise thing is to keep evidence of ones compassion to ones self until it is safe to express it. Expressing compassion with a mentally ill person with aggressive tendencies is likely to be perceived as condescending at best, assaultive at worst. Hence anticipatory compassion with a neutral current stance.


I keep meeting locals who don’t have a clue what Caltrans is building in Little Lake Valley. These folks still think it is the solution to Wilits traffic issues which it is not. Caltrans says it isn’t and you better believe it. A rare truth from them. If built it will create 2 new stops for those going into Willits from the north and south. Less than 1/3 of the traffic currently entering Willits will use it. There is no Highway 20 connection to the freeway. Caltrans is building a concrete monstrosity that will forever destroy the character and beauty of Little Lake Valley. Where an on grade 2 lane bypass would have sufficed, a swath for 4 lanes has been cut. It will destroy wetlands and aerable land, and is a ridiculous waste of taxpayer money. if built as currently planned, it will be a monument to shortsighted, dinosaur in a duck pond thinking.

By the way, Mr. Arteaga, Caltrans lied about the necessity of building 4 lanes to MCOG, the county supervisors, and locals to move the project forward the way they wanted to. Local officials may have weakly supported it but their support is based on Caltrans lies.

Interesting how often, as one grows older, the antiestablishment and outlaw tendencies of youth are righteously put aside in favor of falling in line with the officially sanctioned program-du-jour. A case study in intellectual ossification.

    It is no shame to be beaten down. The shame is in exploiting the beaten. To live with an unrealistic understanding of ones place at or near the bottom of society (the vast majority of us now) creates cognitive dissonance and, analogous to the Stockholm syndrome, to resolve it people come to identify with their oppressors. Pedagogy of the Oppressed, written by educator Paulo Freire, is the only source I know of that courageously confronts this conundrum of slaves invested in their slave system.

    Under this mental pain of cognitive dissonance, it is little wonder that so many adults close their minds to reality and set to mouthing the litany of praise for their oppressors. This one is an easy one. The bosses say we need to sacrifice the quality of our lives so that they can build another road to essentially nowhere.


Stop the Damned Caltrans Willits By Pass and learn to slow down…