The Napa High Cross Country family came together in early December at the Hampton Inn & Suites to celebrate an amazing season. Four varsity athletes earned VVAL First Team honors, meaning they finished in the top eight at the league championships.
For the first time in five years, an athlete qualified to run in the CIF State Championships. The future is bright for the team with the JV Boys placing first and the JV Girls placing third at the VVAL Championships.
Due to the program’s positive culture, our team has grown into the largest in the league, with more than 50 athletes. This culture is due to our three extraordinary coaches who have created a supportive environment for the athletes. Thank you Derek Moore, Eileen Smith and Mike McGrath for making our 2019 season so magical. I am sure I speak for all our families that your time and effort are much appreciated.
I would also like to thank the Hampton Inn & Suites for hosting our season banquet, along with Filippi’s Pizza Grotto for helping us feed the athletes and their families. During the season, Athletic Feat and The Napa Running Company supported our team through donations and fundraising opportunities. We are so fortunate to have businesses like this in our community who are generously supporting our student-athletes.
The juxtaposition of stories on the front page of the Jan. 9 Register had me thinking about a two-birds-with-one-stone approach to a couple of the most vexing problems facing the local cities and county. One story addressed climate change (“Napa County leaders wonder if climate change issues are resonating with the public“) while another addressed the housing shortage (“Justin-Siena proposes employee housing on Napa high school property“). There lies a potential, albeit partial, solution to both problems. The cities and county should impose an employee-housing requirement on new or modified winery, vineyard and hospitality projects that require city or county approval. The county should initiate the 10-year rollback of all Williamson Act property tax breaks for vineyards and wineries that fail to initiate worker housing projects. This would mean wineries, vineyards, hotels and resorts would have to provide significant housing stock as a condition of approval or continuation of their property-tax benefit that costs county taxpayers $6 million per year.
Most everyone agrees that hospitality and viticulture do not create jobs that pay well enough for employees holding them to live in-county. In its October 2019 housing presentation, the City of Napa reported “Renters in Napa County need to earn $46.90 per hour—nearly 4 times the state minimum wage to afford the median asking rent of $2,439.”
According to the city, this is nearly triple the average hourly pay for restaurant service, retail and agriculture workers. It is almost double median teacher salaries. The city has identified 355 new low- and moderate-income housing units that need to be built by 2023. Fewer than half that number of permits have been issued. So, people working these jobs must come from out of the county, by car because the public transportation system is woefully inadequate.
According to the latest draft of the county’s Climate Action Plan, now 12 years in the making, on-road transportation accounted for 26% of the county’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2014 and will not realize significant reductions, percentage-wise, through 2050. They will “replace building energy as the largest emissions sector in the future, accounting for 23 percent of emissions through 2050.”
The draft action plan does not inventory winery and vineyard emissions separately, a failure pointed out by the 2017-2018 Grand Jury.
Yet what are our leaders doing but approving more and more winery, vineyard and hospitality projects without regard to employee housing needs and greenhouse gas emissions created by these projects? Currently, viticulture and wine production do little more than make token efforts toward housing. The current action plan is without a single mandate directed at the industry. The Auction Napa Valley and other industry contributions are tokenism. The $180 million that the Napa Valley Vintners claim since 1981 seems like a lot but compared to the wine industry income, but it’s not much. In 2018 alone, gross income from grape growing exceeded $1 billion, up from $750 million in 2017. And these grants support only those who already live here.
Senator Bill Dodd carried legislation that limits vintner and grape grower taxation toward worker housing to a maximum $15 per acre. This amounts to less than $700,000 annually, not half enough to operate the 180-bed, seasonal male farm worker facilities run by the county. No facilities exist for women or families. The county does not even know how many farm workers there are. The last survey dates to 2012. Hospitality does even less. Seemingly, the Wine Train and Marriott hotels are the only ones thinking about on-site employee housing.
On-site worker housing is an answer. In a 2017 visit to the Bordeaux region of France, we observed that the leading winery chateaux provide on-site housing for their workers. I hope supervisors who recently visited the region observed this. Chateau Pontet-Canet provided an outstanding housing example. Its owners have a Napa venture—Pym-Rae on Mt. Veeder. Why couldn’t they show the way here, too?
Our signature wine industry is created and maintained on the backs of its under-served workers. The Justin-Siena model is one to be embraced across the county. It could be done. Do city and county leaders have the political fortitude to take meaningful steps to create affordable housing and climate protection? Sadly, current plans suggest they do not.
The quote, "Service is the rent we pay to live on earth", is attributed to Rep. Shirley Chisholm and holds a special meaning as we remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. this week.
For many years, Napa has held a remembrance service of his life. In the last few years, it has grown to include an entire day for us to pay back not just our Mother Earth but also to pay forward the advantages some of us have in living in this generous community.
We are fortunate that so many nonprofit organizations provide an opportunity to "give" by having informational tables and sign-ups that showcase all the wonderful programs that help make our neighbor's lives happier and easier.
The hope is also that once a volunteer realizes the joy of giving, he or she finds out how easy it is to continue a way to serve throughout the year.
What I love about Napa is the "small-town feeling" that is still noticeable in the various neighborhoods. Living in the ABC Streets, and needing help after surgery, I truly appreciated my neighbors that came by with food, walked my dog, ran errands, etc.
After more than 40 years of living here, I continue to be amazed at how friendly people are and how conversations can start at the post office or at the produce section at Lucky or just admiring a beautiful garden (not mine).
When I was in eighth grade, I memorized the following quote that my mother gave me but sadly I don't know the author: "Count that day lost, whose low descending sun; Views from above, no worthy action done."
A reminder that the bi-monthly Peace Vigil will take place on the four corners of Soscol and Third Street from 2-4 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 26.
All are welcome to join us, but better than standing with us is to just use any opportunity to make someone's day a little brighter and lighter.
I am writing to thank Napa residents for sharing the true meaning of Christmas with children in need this past holiday season.
Because of the generosity of donors in Napa and across the United States, Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan’s Purse, collected more than 8.9 million shoebox gifts in 2019. Combined with those collected from partnering countries in 2019, the ministry is now sending 10,569,405 shoebox gifts to children worldwide.
Through shoeboxes—packed with fun toys, school supplies and hygiene items—Napa volunteers brought joy to children in need around the world. Each gift-filled shoebox is a tangible expression of God’s love, and it is often the first gift these children have ever received. Thanks to the generosity of donors, Operation Christmas Child has collected and delivered more than 178 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in more than 160 countries and territories since 1993.
It’s not too late for people to make a difference. Though drop-off locations serving Napa are closed until Nov. 16 – 23, 2020, information about year-round volunteer opportunities can also be found at samaritanspurse.org/occ or by calling (714) 432-2950.
Thank you again to everyone who participated in this global project—many who do so year after year. These simple gifts, packed with love, send a message to children worldwide that they are loved and not forgotten.
Doris Gentry is the most balanced political person I know. She sits down with people on the far left, then with people on the far right.
She helps each person with sidewalk problems, homeless concerns, as well as a multitude of other issues. She is a balanced vote for Napa. She cares, sometimes too much. She is the voice we need for Napa.
And shame on you, Mary Luros, for agreeing by saying you also think this is not “fair.”
Each of you have endorsed Scott. There is no way this city will forget your double standards. You are doing this only to protect the person you endorsed. We all see this disgusting favoritism.
We can expect Scott to not want to play nice in the sandbox. He had his turn as vice mayor. He was vice mayor all of 2019, and was openly running for mayor. He openly and publicly used his title everywhere he was introduced as vice mayor. He was vice mayor, and all of Napa knew it.
But now you want to deny Doris Gentry the right to be vice mayor? It’s her turn now. All but Scott agreed to make Doris Vice Mayor. Scott had his turn.
Jill, where is fair? You said you want to be fair. This is back-stabbing, not “fair.” You hypocrites.
Doris is currently vice mayor and in November she will be mayor.
This is why I will be voting for Doris Gentry, and in passing, may I suggest you do so also?
In 2017, my wife and I, and seven of our neighbors, joined more than 500 other families in Napa County who lost our homes in the Atlas Fire. As you can imagine, the last two years haven’t been easy. Between the difficulty in finding enough workers, last year’s winter rains, new code upgrades, and so many of us needing building permits, it’s been trying, to say the least.
The one bright spot in all of this has been the continuing support and encouragement we received from Alfredo Pedroza, our district supervisor on the Board of Supervisors. He has continued to reach out to us since the beginning, and has repeatedly done so to stay in touch.
Alfredo began immediately by helping us through the process of obtaining a building permit. When we’ve run into rebuilding problems, Alfredo worked to get us back on track. He met with us, put meetings together, and helped us find solutions to a number of issues. Alfredo committed right from the start to getting our families back home as quickly as possible.
There was really only one stand-out candidate at the Social Justice Forum held this month at the Napa County Library that addressed issues such as campaign finance limits, sustainable ground water, community banks, healthcare delivery, land-use impacts on climate change, and more. The stand-out candidate was Amber Manfree, who is running against the incumbent, Alfredo Pedroza, in District 4.
Pedroza applied typical political spin to all of his responses, which, in several cases, failed to address the actual question asked. For example, he diverted a question about climate change and land use to one all about traffic.
Manfree, a geographer and watershed specialist, was the only candidate in the room who brought the conversation back to land use and its impacts on climate change and to express how important public policy is in climate mitigation, as opposed to what kind of car you drive or can afford to purchase. For that welcome answer, she received spontaneous applause from the audience.
But the real slippery slope was Pedroza’s response to a question about campaign contribution limits. When asked if he would voluntarily place any limits on contributions, he said he would limit individual contributions to $5,000.
So, does that mean he will be refunding people like Craig Hall (Hall Wines and Walt Ranch), who, as of June 30, 2019, had already donated $10,000 to Pedroza’s campaign, even though, at the time, Pedroza didn’t even have a challenger? (That does make one wonder what Hall was expecting for his $10,000 and what Pedroza needed it for.)
Pedroza also didn’t say if he would lump donations from V. Sattui Winery and Castello Di Amarosa together as a single donation from Dario Sattui. Another slippery slope.
Does the self-imposed $5,000 limit also mean Pedroza will refuse any additional donations from Luna Vineyards ($5,500), Krupp Brothers LLC, Peter Read of Read Investments, Betty Woolls of Woolls Ranch Winery, Silver Oak Cellars, Charles Wagner of Caymus Vineyards, and James Dyke of Mira Winery who each, as of June 30, 2019, had already donated $5,000 to Pedroza’s campaign?
What about those who might be double-dipping? Those who contribute as individuals but might also contribute indirectly via a Political Action Committee, or PAC?
It also raises the question: how many of the people, the residents, who actually live in District 4 have a spare $5,000 to donate to his campaign? And if they can’t or don’t, will he actually listen to their concerns when making important policy decisions that may impact their lives in a negative way and take action that supports them?
And will he refuse to take donations from individuals who don’t even live in Napa County full-time?
But in the end, it is a total Nothing-Burger.
As of June 30, 2019, long before anyone even knew there would be a challenger, Pedroza’s campaign war chest already had a cash balance of $235,903. He could refuse any and all additional contributions and he would still have plenty of money at his disposal to mount an extremely well-funded campaign against any challenger. And where did all that money come from?
This is not how democracy is supposed to work.
So, when you cast your vote in the coming election you should ask yourself who you want representing you. An incumbent with a massive war chest full of campaign contributions from very wealthy people attempting to influence his decisions?
Or would you rather be represented by a candidate who is not under the pervasive influence of hundreds of thousands dollars in campaign contributions and who is committed to representing the people who actually live and work in District 4?
If so, vote for Amber Manfree in the coming election.
Elaine de Man
Editor's Note: This item has been modified to reflect the fact that Pedroza has faced a contested election before and to correct wording in several spots.
I attended the Sacramento Prep Music Academy’s Beatles White Album, Live in Concert recently at the nearly sold-out Lincoln Theatre. The concert was excellent, but my mind suddenly wandered as I wondered what John Lennon would have had to say about the self-proclaimed “workingman’s hero” currently occupying the White House.
It likely would have been harsh and dripping in ridicule. The two celebrities were near the same age when they both adopted New York City as home. There, their paths diverged tragically, as the politically conscious musician-activist was senselessly shot and killed, while the draft-dodging businessman/TV actor went on to become an unlikely president.
The fates are fickle, but history will have the final word about who is the more influential figure.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal.” – From “Declaration of Sentiments,” Seneca Falls, New York.
In 1848, Elizabeth Cady Stanton along with her friend and neighbor, Lucretia Mott conceived of and convened the first women’s rights convention focused on the social, civil and religious rights of women -- a meeting that is believed to have been the launch pad for the women’s suffrage movement. This year marks the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote.
The Equal Rights Amendment was submitted to Congress in 1921,1923 and 1943. Thirty years later, in 1972, Congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment. Forty years later, on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020, Virginia became the final 38th state needed to ratify the amendment.
We embrace those women who, for the past 172 years, have stayed the course. We are united. We are strong. We persevere.
As the Scouts District Commissioner for the Silverado District, I have been reviewing the Scouting Program for 2019.
Scouting is a youth program, with Cub Scouts ages kindgergarten-5th grade, and Scouts 6th grade through 17 years of age. There is also Sea Scouting, Venture Crews and Explorer Posts for youth starting at 14 years old to 21 years old. Today I was looking at Scouts and what have the results been for our Eagle Scouts in Napa County.
Only 3 to 4 percent of the young men or young women who join the Scout program will earn their Eagle rank. This includes making each rank from Scout to Eagle, completing 21 merit badges, some required some optional, and an approved project.
The Eagle project must be approved by the benefiting agency, the troop scoutmaster, the troop committee and the district advancement chair. The project includes all the hours for these steps, along with planning the project, including raising any funds needed via donations or gifts. The scout’s parents are not allowed to fund the project, this is not their project, but a learning experience for the scouts.
They must recruit the help needed to complete the project, schedule the workdays, plan what is to be done each day and by whom, oversee the work as a project manager and is not allowed to do the work him/herself. Each projected listed below represents from 100 to 200 hours of planning, recruiting, and completing each project.
Please join me in congratulating the Scouts below and there work in improving our community with their Eagle Scout project in 2019:
Jan. 2 -- Ryan Purcell, Troop 159 City of Napa, Alston Park Bird Boxes.
Feb. 6 -- George Conwell, Troop 1, Bothe State Park, Food Lockers.
Feb. 20 -- Jason Stoddard, Troop 159, City of Napa, Bike Kiosk.
June 26 -- Oskar Hurst, Troop 516, City of Napa, Century Park Port-a-Potty Screens.
July 24 -- Ben Martin, Troop 2, City of Napa, Oxbow Preserve Park Kiosk.
Aug. 7 -- Nicholas Novak, Troop 1, VFW Post 199, St. Helena Cemetery Mapping.
Sept. 11 -- Carl John Meissenhalter, Troop 83, St. John’s Lutheran Church, Repairs to Bell Tower.
Oct. 30 -- Nicholas Ryan Young, Troop 159, Silverado Highlands HOA, Atlas Fire Memorial.
Nov. 13 -- Stephen Michael Kastner, Troop 159, City of Napa, Alston Park Picnic Tables.
Dec. 11 -- Kyle Dwayne Miller, Troop 516, City of Napa, Fuller Park Rose Garden Fence.
Dec. 18 -- Michael William McDowell, Troop 516, City of Napa, Fuller Park Kiosks.
If anyone would want more information on Scouting, please have them contact me via email at John.F.Hagan@comcast.net or via phone at (707) 328-1353.
Over the years, I have followed the reports our supervisors have filed from their taxpayer-funded trips to the Wine Capitals of the World, all of which I have visited myself.
On their trip to Oporto, if the Supervisors failed to visit the adjoining Douro Valley where Port is made, they certainly overflew it for 10 solid minutes. Where once forests thrived are now vineyard-denuded mountains and valleys as far as the eye can see where an occasional tree stands as a commemorative sculpture.
Yet our Supervisors’ policy of replacing our forests with vineyards, wineries and visitor centers continues unabated.
In her new capacity as board chairperson Diane Dillon vouched to make climate change a priority. It remains to be seen how our carbon sequestering forests will fare under her leadership.
On their trip to Adelaide in South Australia, the Clair Valley and the adjoining Barossa, they must have noticed the scarcity of restaurants in the wine country outside the cities where fewer than a handful of wineries serve nominal food. Tourism is at a minimum, yet the wine business is healthy thanks to its export model. Driving around is a pleasure.
Supervisor Ramos commented that: “South Australia takes a proactive approach to agricultural biodiversity while Napa County tends to be more reactive.” Excellent observation but where is the policy when we know that restoring a degraded biodiversity is a lost cause?
In Rioja and the adjoining Ribera del Duero, the most prestigious wine regions in Spain, even the most coveted wineries have no restaurants. Supervisor Pedroza commented: “They were puzzled when they were told that Napa County does not allow restaurants and weddings at wineries.” Yes, they may have a wedding or two, but we all know that self-restraint needs no regulation, it is excess that does. Yet, we accommodate it.
As a result, one can drive from village to village, town to town at 40 miles per hour any time of the day. Exports, distribution, off-site direct sales - the difficult money - rather than the destructive easy money tourism is the model we continue to promote.
Following their most recent trip to Bordeaux, they must have realized that restaurants in the actual wine country are few and far between and food-serving wineries a rarity. This is in 284,000 acres, six times larger than the Napa Valley with 17 times the number of wineries, the overwhelming majority of which are and remain tiny. They average 33 acres per winery vs. 90, though even this number is deceptive because our small wineries are snapped up by conglomerates once the supervisors increase their size for the asking -- so elegantly legitimized them as “bringing their violations into compliance.” Yet, despite three times its winery density, driving around the Bordeaux wine country is a breeze.
If oblivious to this, the supervisors must have noticed the different approach to tourism. With rare exceptions, especially at the most coveted chateau, visits are by appointment only – no popping in, closed on weekends – most practically made through a highly structured small vehicle tour industry. Such reception results in a 60- to 90-minute personalized experience, which promotes long-term loyalty to the region and the brand.
Jean-Michel Cazes, owner of Lynch Bages winery and lifelong Bordeaux ambassador likes to say: “When you visit, I am not looking to sell you wine, I want to sell you Lynch Bages.” Compare that to our overcrowded tasting rooms where visitors “hit” one winery after another. Long- term thinking vs. short-term, measure vs. excess resulting in the internationally recognized disease, incurable once it has taken over its host: “Napafication.”
When on another visit, one supervisor visited the Canadian Oil Sands, he characterized them merely as “controversial.” This for what National Geographic has termed: “The most destructive oil operation in the world with toxic waste to fill 500,000 Olympic swimming pools.”
To their credit, the Canadians have instituted sophisticated carbon monitoring and sequestering devices. Yet, it took citizens’ lawsuits, not supervisor action, to compel Syar Industries to install more effective pollutant monitoring and capturing devices for its mining operation in Napa.
As helpful then-Ag Commissioner Whitmer’s relationship from such a trip was in fighting the European grapevine moth sooner than later, this was not policy. I am not advocating eliminating the program, the $17,500 cost is too small to argue about, but after visiting Spain, Oporto, Adelaide, Bordeaux or the Oil Sands and perhaps others in the future, there is much to learn to adopt or to avoid.
It is a shame to waste these valuable insights if they fail to affect policies at home.
I am a life-long Napa resident. I have never been involved with, or have any desire to be into, politics. That being said I want to let you know that I do not know Mayor Jill Techel or Scott Sedgley. I do know Doris Gentry and I would like to make a couple comments about her.
Doris is an exceptional hard worker with a desire to help all people. Doris takes the time to listen to many people and goes out of her way that they may be heard where it counts. Doris has helped countless kids in the foster care system.
Doris’s connections with many nonprofit communities help her to obtain resources to help in all areas of need. Doris has the ability to use these resources instead of tax dollars.
I vote for Doris Gentry because she has a vision for the citizens of Napa from the top to the bottom.
Women have been aiming to receive gender equality and social justice for decades. Nonetheless, despite the accomplishments, there is still much more to be accomplished for our future generations. With the support and advocacy of all, our future generations will obtain the opportunity for social equality.
As a female, mother, and resident of Napa, I was pleased to read the Throwback Thursday article on Jan. 16 regarding the Women’s March Napa Valley (facebook.com/NapaValleyRegister).
The Women’s March Napa Valley is an incredible movement that promotes unity, social equality, and social justice for children and families in the community. Furthermore, after reading this article, my family and I were inspired to participate in this year's march and become a voice for every girl and woman in the world.
I spoke at the school board last week asking them to not approve this calendar but to get input from all the teachers, staff and parents. I asked them to do what we have done in the past when making major changes to the school year, which was to put out three different calendars: the traditional calendar, the one proposed and a third calendar. All stakeholders were to rank their first and second choices.
The 2020-2021 school calendar Fall Semester is 80 days while the Spring Semester is 100 days with a potential additional three days. American Government and Economics are semester courses.
The Fall Semester being more than a month shorter means students learn less. Government and Economics are mandated by the state. Students have to pass in order to graduate. I already have textbooks that are over 10 years old. The students were in first grade when these books were published.
Now students will learn less about American Government and Economics during Fall semester.
I sat and listened to school board members acknowledge how this calendar is a "stop gap." What does that mean? You do not want to take the time to have the stakeholders provide input? Why? Why couldn't our elected officials wait until February after all the stakeholders have given their input to adopt a calendar?
Why was the 2020-2021 calendar sent out the first day of finals have to be approved four days after we come back from Winter Break?
Why is it impossible to wait until February to get stakeholder input?
We deserve better from our elected officials. Our students deserve better.
Last week, we observed a group of nine solemn individuals marching from one side of the Capitol to the other to deliver Articles of Impeachment to the U.S. Senate.
The seven newly appointed House of Representative Managers were led by Cheryl L. Johnson, Clerk of the House, and Paul D. Irving, the House Sergeant at Arms. Ms. Johnson carried the relatively slim folders in a manner as if they were atop a commemorative silver tray reserved for such an occasion. I imagined it would be stored in a china cabinet outside Nancy Pelosi’s office.
My fertile imagination further wondered if any of the managers thought that this tray might figuratively carry the President’s head back to the House following a successful trial and guilty verdict in the Senate.
I either have your attention to continue reading or you are writhing in disgust; or both.
At this point in time, Democrats are of the opinion that the next few weeks will be a defining moment for more than Mr. Trump. They see it as a make-or-break contest for the viability of the Constitution, the Founding Fathers' intent behind Separation of Powers, and the great American experiment in Democracy.
It appears that Republicans view it as an exercise in looking as senatorial as possible while doing everything possible to preserve their seats. Their plan is to divert olfactory attention from the stench emanating from their cowardice, while keeping enough of Trump’s supporters on their side to ensure re-election.
I understand from legal experts that you can’t have a trial of any sort without some witnesses that testify, and written documents relevant to the question at hand. Further, that the two previous presidential impeachments that went to trial contained both. At this time, Senate Majority Leader McConnell and the White House believe that both are unnecessary. This is labeled a blatant cover-up plan by the opposition.
It will take all Democrats to stand firm on the issue, and for at least four Republicans to stand with them for witnesses and associated documents to be allowed.
It will be interesting to see if anything extraordinary happened while the Senators are in their respective states over the long weekend; perhaps a handful of Republican senatorial epiphanies will make Tuesday truly consequential.
Why? Because the mayor and council gave Doris the position of vice mayor. The mayor thinks Doris has used her title too much on social media? Because it’s an election year the Mayor thinks Doris shouldn’t use the title because Doris is running for Mayor?
This could possibly help Doris too much in her effort to be elected mayor. Is Jill Techel more concerned about the other council member running for mayor?
The point is, election or not, is Doris vice mayor or not? If she is the vice mayor, she has a right to the title -- election coming up or not.
Ms. Techel’s disregard for “fair” treatment is absolutely embarrassing. It appears that she feels she may change the rules and ignore that Ms. Gentry holds that title, simply because she disagrees politically with her. She, like many these days, can’t seem to follow the guidelines set out if they do not coincide with their own views.
I find it to be arrogant and weak behavior by Ms. Techel. We as citizens of Napa deserve so much more than her one-sided and preferential treatment of her own.
Enough already. Doris Gentry deserves the same treatment and guidelines as every other person in the Napa city government.
On Nov. 11,1918, a so-called “All Quiet on the Western Front” trenches began with the 11 a.m. Armistice. Some 2000 miles away, the Battle of Tulgas in North Russia occurred, pitting invading American, British, and Canadian soldiers against Red Bolshevik troops in frozen snows near the Arctic Circle.
On that day, the first U.S. casualties on Russia’s soil were seven killed and 14 wounded. Politically pressured by Britain and France, on July 17, 1918 President Woodrow Wilson had ordered American troops to be dispatched to Russia to, “guard military supplies,” protect the lost “Czechoslovak Legion,” and “render aid to the Russians in their self-defense.”
However, for and against “which” Russians, President Wilson’s directive tragically had not clarified.
Shunned by the West as a pariah, the Red revolutionary government in Petrograd unilaterally bailed out of the Great War by arranging a giveaway peace of one-third of both its population and territory to Imperial Germany on March 3, 1918, at Brest Litovsk.
A vast ongoing civil war between Bolshevik Reds and pro-Tsarist Whites across the breadth and length of Russia had erupted. Alexander Kerensky’s provisional democratic government, from March-November 1917 was overthrown by Vladimir lllyitch Lenin.
Sidelined from the Paris Peace Conference, a temporarily ignored Bolshevik Russia was seemingly left to its self-determination.
Ultimately, however, about 140,000 Allied, U.S., and Chinese troops were sent to war-torn Russia from 1918-1922 as an “Intervention.”
French, British, Canadians, Italians, Greeks, Serbs, Czechs, Slovaks, Hungarians, and Japanese all composed the Allied alliance. America and China were “Associates.” (Japan’s imperial Siberian army intended to annex Siberia to its empire as its buffer against possible Bolshevik aggression.)
Two separate American troop expeditions landed in key Russian ports, one at Archangel on Sept. 4, 1918, and the other at Vladivostok commencing on Aug. 15,1918.
Depicting an impending “super-Cannae” by the surrounding White armies about to annihilate the Bolshevik pocket—roughly centered on Moscow —the strategic map of Russia, was illusory.
Skillfully led by ardent Comrade General Leon Trotsky on a fluid, trenchless front, by Oct. 25,1922 the Reds were victorious.
Commanded by U.S. Lieutenant-Colonel George Ste
wart, the North Russian AEF element, the 339th Infantry Regiment, was largely composed of Michigan automobile workers (500 were Wisconsinites), nicknamed “Detroit’s Own” by the mayor. U.S. planners felt they would be acclimated to the cold, thus their deployment to Russia.
Upon landing, the 339th was immediately ordered to march into battle against the Bolsheviks by ranking commander, British Major Gen. Frederick Poole. To his men’s disgust, Stewart remained in Archangel, whose supplies were earlier seized by the Bolsheviks.
Although outnumbered by the “Bolos,” the Americans’ sobriquet for the Red troops, the doughboys were very tenacious defenders. An attached U.S. engineer unit eagerly constructed hundreds of heavy log blockhouses so stout they could withstand everything except a direct hit from the Bolos’ big field artillery.
It was harder for a U.S. presence to inspire White Army soldiers into combat against the Reds. White gunners were cajoled by doughboys to man their support artillery. Disheartening was the dour local villagers’ indifference about rallying to the North Russia, American and Allied effort to liberate them.
Typically beheld was “a cluster of dirty huts, dominated by a serene white steeple church in the terrible grasp of devastating Arctic cold [under] grief-laden skies.”
Religion rather than democracy was the “opium” of the peasants.
Presently, the “northern horror,” a despair of their mission’s utter purposelessness, seized upon the U.S. interventionist troops’ spirits. Ignorant of the November 1918 Armistice, they had not been apprised of it until late January 1919. (Ordered to defeat the Reds, Allied troops felt some purpose.}
Depression, frostbite, malnutrition, lice, pneumonia, and mutiny soared, as U.S. morale plummeted with the thermometer — which, recorded, in the range of 40 to 60 below zero. Perhaps the nearly sunless cold’s capability to instantly coagulate external combat bleeds, preventing massive hemorrhages, was a partial consolation.
Bitter Russian-American immigrants in the U.S., who protested the Intervention by distributing pro-Bolshevik leaflets were incarcerated in the Tombs “dungeon” on Manhattan Island for being in violation of the Sedition Act of May 1918. President Wilson had admonished America, its most dangerous traitor was the “hyphenate.” Ever on the defensive, not receiving reinforcements or adequate supplies, Detroit’s Own were in a “semi-paralytic” limbo.
Rising to voice dissent for its sons — isolated in a distant undeclared overseas war — the Wolverine State spoke up. Assailed by a, 110,000-signatures petition to bring home the 339th, U.S. Secretary of War Newton Baker (himself not enthusiastic to U.S. intervention in Russia), went to Detroit and reassured they would return.
On Feb. 17, 1919, he authorized the withdrawal.
Embellished as the “Polar Bears,” of the original 5,500, 4,500 returned to Hoboken port by late June 1919-after Archangel and Murmansk became thawed-out and ice-free, in time to celebrate July Fourth on Belle Isle with thankful family and friends.
Belatedly too, returned the bodies of 212 Polar Bears, shipped back home in stages, from 1919 to 1934, the United States having recognized Soviet Russia on Nov. 16, 1933.
Thirty remained where they died within the embrace of Mother Russia. At Russia’s opposite end, 5,000 miles east, U.S. Major Gen. William Graves led an American Expeditionary Force of one California and two Philippine regiments, to safeguard Vladivostok port for the succor of the Czech Legion.
They were also a deterrent to a large Japanese Imperial army of 70,000 — far in excess of the agreed-upon cap of 12,000 troops per Allied or Associate power in Eastern Siberia during 1918-1920.
(Japan claimed that a 2,000-member U.S. civilian support team, attached to the Siberian AEF, already “violated” this limit, providing it an excuse for its larger force.)
About 50,000 Czechs, Slovaks, and Hungarians were all members of the stranded Czech Legion — actually, a corps — whose name was derived from the French Foreign Legion, which had included Czech troops on the Western Front. They were stranded in Russia when the Soviets withdrew from the war.
Lenin’s government at first allowed the Czech Legion free passage from the defunct Eastern Front via the Trans-Siberian Railway. A clash between the Czechs and Magyars (i.e., Hungarians) while en route made the local commissars demand their disarmament for continued safe travel, which the indomitable Czechs refused to obey. Idyllic champion of a self-determined post-war Czechoslovakia in Eastern Europe, Wilson prioritized the Czechoslovak Legion’s deliverance.
The AEF guarded the Trans-Siberian Railway. Wisely, Graves did not get ensconced in the Entente-Japan-China military actions against the Bolshevik Reds — nor in the political intrigues of the Whites — in spite of much pressure upon him to help crush Bolshevism in its cradle. (To protect Chinese worker settlements in Siberia, China had sent 2,300 troops.)
American ambassador to Russia David Francis,appealed to Wilson to additionally send 100,000 U.S. troops to “bury the putrid corpse” of Bolshevism.
Cannily, a well-informed Wilson realized that escalated U.S. intervention in Russia would not be tolerated by an America now wanting renewed home prosperity, especially with the June 28, 1919 signing of the Versailles Treaty.
April 1,1920, saw the last Americans of the Siberian AEF depart, losing 189 men in nine months while saving the Czech Legion and Eastern Siberia.
I could not be more proud and excited to support my friend Doris Gentry’s campaign for mayor.
The fact is if you’ve lived in Napa for any length of time you probably already know Doris. You may know her from the 4th of July parade or from the annual chocolate and wine event she puts on to raise funds for the Napa County foster parent association.
Perhaps you know one of the 200 teen boys she has fostered in her home, or you may know her from the city council where if you’ve ever reached out to her you know that no problem or question is to big or to small to warrant her attention.
Doris is a thoughtful leader who takes the time to hear from all sides involved before making a decision. I have had the privilege to work with Doris on her campaigns as well as at various community events for years now and I can tell you that no one works harder for our community then Doris.
In closing, if you want an active community member who gets things done and truly cares about the whole Napa community then Doris is your choice for mayor in 2020.
I feel Doris Gentry was treated unfairly with Mayor Jill Techel and two other council members decided on voting out Doris to not be Vice Mayor, when all was good with Scott being Vice Mayor in 2018 ("Rare disagreement flares at Napa City Council annual planning retreat," Jan. 16). Very wrong to not agree for Doris to be Vice Mayor. Doris Gentry for Mayor 2020.
This is so embarrassing as a Napan to watch this partisan circus unfold.
The city council named Doris as vice mayor. Then they have a little meeting and decide to take the title away from her because they don’t like how she uses it?
This makes the crazy British Parliament look like sane people.
I cannot frankly believe how petty and childish this city council has become
As a Napan, I am outraged and embarrassed at their actions. If they think this move will detour voters from the upcoming mayoral election, boy do they have that wrong. They have learned nothing from the current news cycle.
As we see, the harder the Democrats try to remove Donald Trump from office the higher his approval rating goes. Apparently Napa city council doesn’t get the real news.
Just a quick note of gratitude to recognize the impact of the "Teacher Resource Center of the North Bay." The volunteers and businesses that support this program are helping teachers and students in different ways by providing school supplies, books, prizes, and so much more. I never know what I am going to find at the TRCNB. I always leave with a bag or two (or three or four) of goodies and my students are nothing short of thrilled to share in the bounty.
Wow, What a letter. I had to read it a dozen times over several days trying to decide if Mr. Hazeltine was serious or being sarcastic. You really had me going there, Mr. Hazeltine.
What led me to decide on sarcasm – rather than serious – was “If they [judges] are patriotic, they need little legal expertise.” And especially “Laws and regulations can be enacted in moments, needing only cursory editing of the tweet.”
Great letter. My only concern is that there may be some readers who will take you seriously and think these are fantastic ideas. Don’t encourage them. In future letters, please make your sarcasm a little easier to recognize. Thanks ever so much.
There is so much talk in the news these days about America’s health care system. It is a huge topic for the 2020 presidential race; specifically everyone’s talking about whether we should maintain our private health insurance system, trash it in favor of a government “Medicare for all” system, or use some sort of hybrid system incorporating both private and public health insurance options.
One would think that as a physician and the owner of a small private solo medical practice that I would not be in favor of a universal health care plan for everyone, since it would essentially have doctors either being paid a salary or would not allow doctors to be paid more for “doing more”. (The way the private health insurance system works now, in most cases, is that doctors are paid for doing more procedures and seeing more patients, increasing their income based on volume.)
Well, I say Bring It On. The way the current health insurance system works is so ridiculous and unsustainable that without some major change to the system, I will not be in business much longer. The last six years of running a private practice has been a huge education — in exactly what is wrong with the entire world of private health insurance
An example of just what I go through on a daily basis (and my office staff — they are angels) happened last week. I am a local obstetrician and gynecologist. I place many contraceptive devices. I purchase IUDs and then place them inside a patient’s uterus in an office visit.
Before we ever place one, my staff calls the insurance company, gets an “approval code” with a reference number, where someone tells us what type of coverage a patient has for an IUD placement. We were told, “the patient is covered at 80%.”
So, math, right? We collect 20% of the cost of the device from the patient (One IUD costs me $1000, not kidding you.) and bill the insurance company for the other 80% after I have placed the device.
We received a letter back from the insurance company after the fact, that says “Patient’s deductible has not been met- Patient is responsible” — for the entire cost.
So we can either complain and appeal to the insurance company (which we did — after all, we have a reference number) or, we can bill the patient for the rest (which she may-or-may not pay, after all the device is already where it’s supposed to be -- I am not going to retrieve it.) So I may be “out” the rest of that money.
And this happens every day.
Of course, things like this happen more with some insurance companies than others-- but after years of fighting with them, I have decided I have to drop the one that is most difficult to work with, and pays me the least for my services; (sometimes less than what I pay for my devices.) I am so sorry to the patients that I take care of who have no choice but to be on this horrible health insurance plan, where I am totally not valued for the good care that I have been giving to their patients for the last six years.
Even universal health care has got to be better than this. I can honestly say that if nothing changes after the 2020 election regarding health care insurance coverage, and more companies pay less for services, I may have to start the slow process toward closing down my practice before it closes down on me.
I love a challenge so I'm taking up Fay Sady's challenges about my recent letter ("Show us the evidence," Jan. 10). She asked for evidence to several points in my letter, but actually listed only two.
First challenge. Listing the "countless organisations they, Christians, sponsor."
There isn't enough space to list them all but if you go online you'll find 77 listed on one site alone. Among the:, Christian Medical and Dental Associations, Convoy of Hope, Family Life Ministries , Lifesong for Orphans and ORPHANetwork. She mentions Forbes so I went to their 100 Largest Charities list. The Salvation Army, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Catholic Relief Services, Family Life, Young Life, Feed the Children and Covenant House are but a few.
But Forbes also lists Planned Parenthood as a " charitable " organization which makes me question the veracity of their list.
And that brings me to Sady's next challenge. But before I tackle that, I'd also like to mention the thousands of local churches in every country in this nation who support their community. Like my own church who sponsors "The Table" that gives free, cooked, sit down lunches five days a week And First Methodist Napa who sponsored Hope Mental Health Counseling Services. Plus nearly all hospitals, like Queen of the Valley, were started by Christian denominations.
Now on the the second challenge, Trump's tax cuts. She uses Forbes as her source who stated "they didn't work and the data prove it." I wonder it she knows that Forbes has been owned by the Hong Kong investment group, Integrated Whale Media Investments, since 2014 and many in the industry, and even the liberal Washington Post, questioned Forbes editorial content.
So I looked for another "expert" and found Alex Hendrie, director of Americans for Tax Reform. He points out that because more people are working, unemployment is the lowest in decades, it puts more money in more middle class pockets and that boosts the economy which in turn creates more jobs. Many large businesses like McDonald's and Visa and small ones like Oregon based Firebird Bronze and Pennsylvania based Guy Chemical are giving tuition assistance, bonuses, pay raises, 401 Ks and even health care to their employees.
The Child Tax Credit has been doubled, giving millions of families important tax relief and the standard deduction has been doubled to $24,000 for a family which has affected well over a 100 million taxpayers. Being retired, my wife and I are among them.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reports 1 in 5 youth lack basic financially literacy skills that could set them up for financial success as they move into adulthood. Research has shown financial literacy skills support an individual’s ability to budget, save, build credit and make sound financial decisions.
Our low socioeconomic youth could benefit tremendously from these financial education programs by gaining crucial skills to help break the cycle of poverty and put them on a path towards financial self-sufficiency.
I grew up in a low socioeconomic background and personally benefited from financial education classes as an adolescent. I gained crucial skills leading me to make sound financial decisions and become financially self-sufficient as an adult.
Now, as a Master of Social Work graduate student, I feel morally obligated to advocate for these programs and urge the community to support such efforts, particularly for our most vulnerable youth. Our youth are our future and we must invest in them to help build a healthier, stronger and more vibrant community.