Occupy Hendy Woods

by AVA News Service, November 3, 2011

Kathy Bailey, bless her all her days, argued for Hendy Woods at last week's meeting of the Board of Supervisors. Here, she responds to Supervisor Pinches' suggestion that the threat to close the state's parks might be a back door ploy to raise taxes. Bailey responded that she had been to Sacramento and spoken to the legislative staffers who are directly involved in the park closures.

“They tell me that the threat to close the parks is very real. This other issue about 'we must raise taxes or else,' could well be there. However, I know that the committee staffers feel that the threat to close these parks is very, very real and they say things like, 'Well, the politics of this is, you're cutting back funding for dying AIDS patients or home health care.' So it's really hard for them to say, 'Well, let's exempt the parks.' Each of these issues has a fiscal analysis. There are many other things that they are talking about doing that have very bad ramifications in the long run, fiscally. People have told me that the Hendy Woods argument is very compelling however, but we better work hard on Plan B because no matter how compelling we find the argument, you may need to find some private operators or nonprofits who can in fact operate Hendy Woods. We are certainly doing everything we can to identify people like that. But the problem is that that comes with a cost for somebody also. We don't have all these nonprofits sitting around in Anderson Valley that can just come forward. The question is, Can I identify a single nonprofit in Anderson Valley which has the wherewithal to actually use the new provisions which make it easier for nonprofits to take over state parks? I'm on the board of the Anderson Valley Land Trust. We have a 10-hour a week staffer and a volunteer board and — yikes! As a matter of fact, Anderson Valley had to fight just to keep a deputy sheriff. We had to raise a huge amount of money to rebuild our health center, and then within three months of our health center reopening the State pulled the money for that. We were eligible for stimulus money to rebuild in that building, but we were not eligible for stimulus money to help pay the mortgage with a third of the funding having been eliminated. It just keeps on going. The fairgrounds funding has been eliminated. We are really struggling in our community to keep our basic community resources intact. This Hendy Woods thing came around before we even realized that we had been granted — of 800 applicants nationwide, two were for health centers and one of them was ours in Anderson Valley. Two out of 800. Before we even realized that our Hail Mary pass for the Health Center had been successful this Hendy Woods park closure announcement came along. People in Anderson Valley are swimming as fast as they can. We will keep on going with what we can. But everything I hear is that closing Hendy Woods is a real threat and the last time I looked it was reported that the state was hundreds of millions of dollars behind on revenue projections.”

An indignant Hendy Woods maintenance man at Hendy Woods called last week: “You got some really bad information there about the water system at Hendy Woods State Park,” going on to say that they had recently invested some $40,000 to upgrade the water and the septic system both of which now require minimal maintenance. We informed the caller of what we had actually reported — “[Kathy] Bailey said that as far as she knows the water system at the Park is serviceable so long as it is regularly maintained, which is also the case with the park's septic system.” But all the caller could reply was, “Well, that’s not what I heard.”

By pure conicidence we spoke with former Hendy Woods Park maintenance man Joe Falanga; it was his agitation (at the risk of his job) that got the water system at Hendy upgraded. Falanga confirmed that, yes indeed, the state had, since Falanga's transfer to the Sierras, spent something like $40k to upgrade the water system. But now, having made the investment in the water and septic systems, the state plans to close down Hendy Woods and 69 other state parks. Falanga suggested that we check out a recent report circulating among State Parks employees that State Parks Deputy Director Manuel Lopez recently authorized large expenditures — around $600,000 — of accumulated vacation pay to retiring State Parks bigwigs.

Anyhoo, it's direct-action time. Occupy Hendy Woods kicks off Friday the 11th of November and continues through that Sunday. The event kicks off Friday at 3:00 pm at the front entrance, followed by a potluck dinner at 5:30 and an “Occupy Hendy Camp Out.” Saturday begins with Yoga, followed by teach-ins, lunch, more teach-ins, and dinner at 5:30 followed by entertainment and storytelling. Sunday wraps up with a General Assembly from 10-12 and community clean-up from 12-2.

A request: Can we please keep the hippie rituals to a minimum on the off chance regular people would like to participate?

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