Letters To The Editor

Don't reward bad behavior

Letter to the Editor by Beth Mattei, May 26, 2018



I refuse to reward the bad behavior of the No on Measure C campaign.

The No on C folks were sued over false and misleading statements they tried to pass off as true in their original voter pamphlet guide arguments. The Napa County Superior Court ratified an agreement in which the No on C side would remove or replace five objectively false and misleading statements in their official ballot arguments and agree to pay their opponent's (the Yes on C folks') attorney's fees.

Yet the No on C folks spun that court decision in the most insidious ways.

In addition, No on C billboards and signs have made dubious claims like Measure C will “increase traffic” that even Dave Whitmer, a No on C spokesman, said at a public event was a “pretty weak argument.”

No on C are the ones who mislead the voters at public forums with comments like the Napa County Land Trust "does not endorse Measure C" when a more accurate statement is that the Land Trust is remaining neutral. This should not be viewed as a reluctance to endorse Measure C, but simply, the Land Trust’s historical policy of neutrality on such issues.

The Napa Land Trust has also directed the two people who are using their past affiliation with the Land Trust in No on C ads, flyers, and endorsers' lists to stop using that affiliation when listing their names. Let's see if they comply.

No on C printed a woman’s name as an endorser on their splashy newspaper ads without, as she said in a recent Letter to the Editor, her permission.

And finally, if you received a "COPS Voter Guide" in the mail that looks like a major public safety organization endorsing a No on C position, think again. COPS Voter Guide is a "pay to pay mailer" that rakes in millions of dollars by selling ads under the guise of "endorsements". Appearance in that guide was paid for and authorized by the No on C campaign. COPS Guide Inc. has no members.

You have to ask yourself why the No on C folks have resorted to these shady tactics? And can you trust anything they say?

Meanwhile, the Yes on C campaign has been honest throughout and has not resorted to intentionally misleading the voters. I am voting Yes on C for a number of reasons but among them are that I trust the intentions, integrity, and behavior of the Yes on C campaign. I hope you will vote "Yes" and support Measure C too.

Beth Mattei


Measure C critics trot out same old arguments

Letter to the Editor by Kathryn J. Winter, May 27 2018



The arguments against Measure C are the same anti-regulation opinions I heard 20 years ago while serving on the Napa County Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors.

As with all land-use battles, the moneyed interests that have fought proposed rules in Napa County are at it again trying to kill Measure C. Many writers of the No on C letters who now tout the benefits of the Conservation Regulations fought against them tooth and nail.

The calls for more science, new task forces, less regulation, trust in the “stewards of the land,” and my favorite – the possibility of lawsuits - ring hollow to me. They are simply delaying tactics.

I support Measure C for conservation, canopy protection, clean water, consistent water supply, and logical continuation of regulations that protect our precious, finite resources, oak woodlands and wildlife corridors. Please vote yes on C.

Kathryn J. Winter


Hey, I found some leadership

Letter to the Editor by Tim Ervin, May 25, 2018



On May 9, St. Helena City Council did something that other government leaders have been afraid to do: lead.

They focused on the short- and long-term interests of citizens and came to the clear conclusion: they need to take a stand on protecting the sources of water for their community. They endorsed Measure C that protects the watershed from deforestation. Deforestation has a number of harms, including damaging the quantity and quality of water that St. Helena and the rest of the valley depends on.

What did it take to make this decision? They looked at facts and science and considered the impact of deforestation on their town’s water supply. That part is straightforward.

The other part is that they ignored the big money campaigning to defeat the measure that protects watershed. They took the risk of big money being poured into their elections to defeat leaders who keep the interest of citizens in mind. They had the courage to vote in spite of the million-dollar disinformation campaign that uses fear, uncertainty, and doubt to confuse voters.

At the same time, the city of Napa and the Napa County Board of Supervisors ducked the opportunity to lead. They followed the money from deep pocket donors who have only their personal financial interests in mind. They backed off from taking a clear leadership stand.

I have a suggestion for Napa City Council and the Board of Supervisors. Have some courage to lead for the benefit of residents of your jurisdictions and not just represent the influence of big vineyard developers and mega corporations.

Be like St. Helena.

Tim Ervin


The last tree falls in the forest

Letter to the Editor by Richard Bruns, May 24, 2018


Not yet addressed in the Measure C controversy, and depending on the actual oak subspecies (if I have the designation correct), oaks can live anywhere from 100 to 1,500 years.

I do not know the specific variety of the groves of the magnificent oak canopies that provide protection against erosion on our beautiful valley hillsides and hilltops.

They look like mostly black oak from the valley floor, but whichever they are, and however old they are, they are in a very real sense the last of their kind.

That is, it is highly unlikely that any tree anywhere on the planet will be allowed to grow to their own full genetic maturity. And why? Because humans will cut them down for housing.

Or they will cut them down because they block their view of the rising moon or the setting sun or of the neighbor’s swimming pool or for room to expand.

Their redwood party deck or finally build that long-coveted tennis court. But they will be cut down and the magnificence of those giant round oaken canopies will be as rare as old growth redwoods; as rare as the black rhinoceros, the spotted owl, the African elephant or the African Baobab Tree.

Or the Saint Helena Gumwood. Once these grand oaks are cut, that’s it.

Remember the Zen koan: “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around, does it still make a sound?”

If the last tree in the forest falls silently, will those who cut it cry out?

Will those who take those trees answer the children's questions, where have the trees all gone? And why have the wells all gone dry?”

Richard Bruns


Two reasons for Yes on C

Letter to the Editor by Scott Sedgley, May 24, 2018




If you are a voter living in the city of Napa and you haven't yet found a reason to Vote Yes on Measure C, here are two: Lake Hennessey and Milliken Reservoir. These reservoirs are our locally grown and locally distributed household water. The continued strip mining of the watershed above them in order to plant wine grapes is destroying their quality.

That is the science I believe. Please vote Yes on Measure C to protect our local water source.

Scott Sedgley

Napa City Council

Cio Perez takes a strong stand

Letter to the Editor by Daniel Digardi, May 25, 2018


When we vote for our elected officials, we do so with the expectation that they will make decisions in the best interest of the public.

In Napa County we have one important issue which will do a great deal toward determining the proper level of water usage for years to come. Of course, I am referring to Measure C .

For 16 years, Diane Dillon as the District 3 Supervisor has had ample time to study and understand this issue. But she has been unable to publicly state where she stands on this.

Her opponent, Cio Perez, has had a lifetime of concern and understanding of water usage in Napa Valley. Besides being a third-generation farmer in St. Helena, after studying at Stanford, he went on to earn his degree in Viticulture & Enology at U. C. Davis.

I don’t know anyone who has a better understanding of agriculture/water issues than Cio. With a measure as controversial as Measure C, the easy thing to do would be to not take a position. Cio won’t do that. He strongly supports Measure C.

The voters in District 3 have a unique opportunity to elect a person who would be the only farmer on the Board of Supervisors. Someone who is not afraid of publicly stating his position on the issues at hand. Sixteen years is plenty of time for anyone to hold the same seat.

Please vote for Cio Perez for District 3 supervisor.

Daniel Digardi


Heads or tails?

Letter to the Editor by John Tully, May 25, 2018


A group of environment-friendly board members of the Napa Valley Vintners worked with Measure C authors and were satisfied with the finished document crafted by the same law firm that supplied the language for Measures J and P. Bulletproof.

Then the not-so-friendly branch of the Napa Valley Vintners, the ones Tom Wolfe would have a field day with, showed up. Arrogant as peacocks, complaining as jays, they undid the good work of their fellow members and instigated a campaign against Measure C that makes them look ridiculous.

Just look at their posters: it wouldn't be surprising to learn that Measure C will also cause male pattern baldness or erectile dysfunction. In a pasture studded with cow patties, they’ve stepped in every one. They even got caught peddling a barrow of untruths. The legal cost for that outing was $54,000.

"Bamboozle" is an interesting word. It means to trick, confuse, dupe, deceive. That’s what these Masters of the Universe, to use Tom Wolfe’s phrase, are trying to do to us, the electorate. Vote Yes on Measure C and accomplish what those environment-friendly vintners set out to do. Choose heads, not tails.

John Tully


We pay a price for our success

Letter to the Editor by Sally Kimsey, May 25, 2018



Does the number 347,460 mean anything to you? Probably not; but maybe it should. That is the number of visitors to wineries permits allowed by the county, just in the last year (according to a tally of 2017 approvals by former Supervisor Ginny Simms).

So, we all pay a price for the success of our leading industry, but we get their big help with taxes, jobs and good money, green vineyard spaces, some beautiful buildings, and our pride in our home.

There is one new set of facts: our climate in the years ahead will be more droughts, more heavy storms. And that brings us to the conservation and sharing of the one resource that none of us can live without: water.

Napa Valley water comes from the oak woodlands and forest that surround us in our hills. This watershed is the real source of all of our water in our streams, river, reservoirs and groundwater. About 70 percent of our water goes to agriculture, and we share happily. However, every home, especially the city residents, needs every drop that is left, and we realize that the times are changing.

Measure C is the answer for both our industry and our residents, because it limits the cutting of our watershed. Clear-cutting for crops is a very bad idea in our watershed.

Protect our water, our existing vineyards, and our environment.

Please vote Yes on Measure C.

Sally Kimsey

Pope Valley

Mother Nature has the last word

Letter to the Editor by Jaqueline Skoda, May 25, 2018



Ever since I first started reading about Measure C, I have seen this "795 acres" number, and have wondered where it came from. It seems like an oddly specific number.

Now that I am seeing the opposition to Measure C cite this "795 acres" number in their ongoing campaign of deception, fear, uncertainty, and doubt in an attempt to further confuse and bamboozle the voters, I decided to better understand where this "795 acres" number comes from.

I know that those wishing to protect our woodlands would prefer that no more acres of oak woodlands be removed. An argument can be made that 795 acres is too much. The natural water supply is now in balance; groundwater is being recharged at the same rate that it is being mined by vineyards. Weather projections are for drier climate and more wildly varied temperatures and rainfall. This means we face the prospect of less recharging of the aquifer.

At the same time, more vineyards are being planted, whether in the oak woodlands or not. Vineyards consume water; they deplete the aquifer. Less water being stored and more consumed. The balance is already at risk.

So how much watershed woodlands should be allowed to be cut? None. The data shows we are at the crossroads. Decreasing the supply by any additional deforestation pushes us to the tipping point where we take more and more of less and less supply.

So, why did the authors of the initiative limit future deforestation to 795 acres instead of 0? After looking further into the history of the drafting of Measure C, and the genesis of this "795 acres" number, I now understand where that number comes from. It was a compromise with the Napa Valley Vintners.

They, together with the initiative's drafters, jointly looked at the rate of deforestation, and, in accordance with the General Plan, agreed that the same rate of deforestation could continue to 2030 before we need to stop.

The number was arrived at arithmetically and established that vineyard developers would not accelerate deforestation. It established agreement that there is a limit to the damage that can be done to the environment before we have caused irreparable damage to our natural water supply.

The "795 acres" of additional deforestation was the price paid to get the Vintners to join in sponsorship of this initiative. By the way, there are thousands of plantable acres that are not covered by the initiative; it is not an absolute limit on vineyard expansion, just in the watershed woodlands.

So, those people opposing Measure C, who desperately want there to be absolutely no limits on the number of acres they can clear cut for future vineyards, cynically claim that the "795 acres" allowed under Measure C is way too much. They are using the compromise agreed to by them as a weapon against the measure they initially helped to draft.

They want no limits on deforestation, and yet they continue to claim that they are the true environmentalists. The hypocrisy is now public.

Who was not in the negotiations? Mother Nature. Mother nature didn't agree to keep supplying the same quality and quantity of water even while forests are being scraped off the surface of the earth. No, Mother Nature didn't agree to anything. She is responding to climate change and will respond to deforestation. She will respond to your children and to your children's children.

Vote Yes on Measure C, because you don't negotiate with Mother Nature. She has the last word.

Jacqueline Skoda


Measure C is a sensible solution

Letter to the Editor by Linda Brown, May 25, 2018



When it comes to solving complex issues, reasonable people can disagree. This has certainly been the case on the question of how to best protect and preserve our watershed and woodlands, while simultaneously supporting our county’s agricultural-based economy. There is no perfect answer.

That said, I believe Measure C represents a real step in the right direction. Here are three reasons why:

Water – In light of our changing climate, we are faced with the prospect of prolonged drought and challenges to our available fresh water. Measure C will help reduce pressure on our limited water supplies.

Woodlands – Our oak woodlands support an amazing diversity of wildlife, including biological “hot spots” with unique species of flora and fauna. Moreover, our trees sequester carbon dioxide, reinforce hillsides from soil erosion, support riparian zones, and provide other important ecoservices. Measure C sets reasonable limits on tree removal associated with development, and increases the ratio of replanting required when trees are removed.

Compromise - Measure C is the much-improved successor of a similar initiative attempted last year. It was developed with an eye toward compromise – and I mean that in the best sense of the word. It is straightforward, but does not overreach.

Indeed, I believe the Napa wine industry will benefit from its provisions over the long run. (No doubt that is what some of the leaders of the wine industry thought, too, when they helped to write Measure C.)

I urge the sensible voters of Napa County to vote Yes on Measure C.

Linda Brown