Mendocino County Today: October 5, 2013
by AVA News Service, October 4, 2013
THE 11-ACRE SITE on West Perkins, Ukiah, that the North Coast Railroad Authority hopes to sell to the state for a new Mendocino County courthouse, is being cleansed of its contaminated soil. The long abandoned Ukiah Railroad Depot, a graceful old structure dating back to the early part of the 20th century when civic beauty still mattered to Americans, has been surrounded for years by desolate, trash-strewn open space opposite the Adventist's equivalently desolate industrial medical complex.
It now will become neo-desolate, 11 acres of raw earth. Mike Haskins of L.D. Giacomini Enterprises (and a graduate of Anderson Valley High School) is supervising the clean-up. Haskins told the Ukiah Daily Journal's Justine Frederickson that the work is being paid for out of redevelopment funds routed through the City of Ukiah. Three adjacent parcels fronting Leslie Street but privately owned will also be cleared off for what's on course to becoming
The Mother of All Boondoggles, a new glass and steel courthouse designed for the exclusive use of Mendocino County's over-large and over-indulged judicial contingent, nine of them for a population of about 90,000 people, the largest ratio of judges to population in the state, maybe in the country. The existing Courthouse is perfectly serviceable; it houses a number of related County services. The new courthouse will house only the nine pashas, and we can be sure it will be a major eyesore in a town already synonymous with eyesores.
ASSOCIATED PRESS is reporting that the brother of a Los Angeles Dodgers fan who was killed in a San Francisco brawl that police say was sparked by the long-running Dodgers-Giants rivalry is pushing back against claims that the stabbing was in self-defense. Robert Preece Jr. told KGO Television Thursday that it was he who swung an aluminum beach chair to protect his brother. Preece's brother, Jonathan Denver, was fatally stabbed on Sept. 25 after attending the Dodgers-Giants game with Preece, their father and two others to celebrate their father's 49th birthday. Denver, an apprentice plumber, lived in Fort Bragg. Police have said Denver's group, many wearing Dodgers garb, got into a shouting match over the Dodgers with the suspect, 21-year-old Michael Montgomery, and a group of people he was with — at least one of whom was wearing a Giants cap — a few blocks from the stadium. Montgomery's father, Marty, has said his son was jumped during the fight and stabbed Denver in self-defense after Denver and others yelled “Giants suck.” The father told the Lodi News-Sentinel that his son said Denver hit him over the head with a chair during the fight. Preece disputed the contention that Montgomery acted in self-defense, according to KGO-TV. “I want the kid that took my brother from me so soon to be behind bars,” Preece told the station. Montgomery was arrested, but later released. He has not been charged. Prosecutors said police needed to interview independent witnesses to the fight. “Somebody took my brother too soon, a little too soon, and it wasn't worth it,” Preece said. The stabbing was the latest incident over the years stemming from one of the most passionate rivalries in sports. Two years ago, Giants fan Bryan Stow suffered permanent brain damage when he was attacked in Los Angeles.
CLAY ROMERO, 53, of Willits, a machinist by trade, has announced he will run for the 3rd District Supe's seat being vacated by Johnny Pinches. Romero is a registered Republican and, based on some Facebook postings regarding the Willits Bypass protests, seemingly not an inclusive, big tent kind of guy. Romero also has some 'splainin' to do about his October 10th, 2008 arrest “on suspicion of inflicting cruel or inhuman punishment upon a child resulting in visible injury.”
He's also a regular on a Facebook page where rightwing chest thumpers rant about “boycotting” the Willits Library because librarian Donna Kerr allows Save Little Lake Valley to meet in the public meeting room where they conspire to commit criminal acts. From their prose it's unlikely any of these characters has spent much time in any library, but the public rooms of a public library are public. Duh. And if these boys have evidence of criminal conspiracies they should present it to DA David Eyster, certainly no fan of the ongoing protests. Then there's the Smithsonian-quality hippie bashing and lots of snide remarks about Indian artifacts. Pinches, always a gentleman, never, ever dealt in this stuff. I doubt Romero will get his endorsement.
INTERESTING new facts about the odd death of Patrick Guzman, 70, have been revealed by Tony Reed of the Fort Bragg Advocate. Reed ought to get a finder's fee from the Sheriff's office for not only locating the stuff that led to the discovery of Guzman's remains, but Reed has now added some telling new details about Guzman's death. (The Sheriff's Department work on the case borders on grossly negligent.) Guzman was found a week after he died, his death occurring on Labor Day. Reed, poking around on the bluffs nearly a week later where Guzman's car was found running with no sign of Guzman, spotted items, including a gun, belonging to the dead man on the rocks below. Guzman's body was not visible from the bluffs. It had wedged in boulders between the bluffs and the ocean. Investigators had not looked for his remains from below the bluffs until Reed alerted them of his finds. Guzman had suffered a large caliber bullet wound to his side from the odd gun he was known to possess, which fires a mix of high velocity bullets and shotgun rounds. Reporter Reed has now learned that Guzman's daughter, Tracy Guzman, believes her father was murdered because she found that her father's home in Fort Bragg had been robbed of three guns, a computer and printer, and welding equipment on or about the day of his death. Ms. Guzman also said it was she who drove her father's Cadillac back to Fort Bragg a week after her father's remains were found on the bluffs north of Westport. The vehicle, it seems, had sat there unsecured since Guzman's death. Sheriff's Capt. Greg Van Patten said Tuesday that the investigation into the cause of death remains open, and that he is waiting for the results of blood-alcohol and toxicology tests to come back from the state's Department of Justice lab. Van Patten has said no evidence of another person was found in or near the dead man's car.
BAY AREA HUNTER MISSING FOR 10 DAYS - LAST SEEN IN MENDOCINO NATIONAL FOREST
My uncle, Gene Penaflor, was last seen at Mendocino National Forest on Tuesday 9.24.13. Please read email below from his son — details of events leading to Gene Penaflor's disappearance.
He's a 72 year old Filipino man. He and his hunting buddy (HB) have been visiting this hunting spot in the Mendocino National Forest for years. 10 county rescue teams, search/rescue teams/dogs, helicopters have not found any clues/traces of him or personal effects. He's a survivalist and in good shape so his family is baffled why he hasn't found his way back home and/or hasn't left any traces of his whereabouts.
Search/Rescue stopped searching last Saturday due to rain. They have not resumed their search due to federal cutbacks and lack of available experienced volunteers. Lots of experienced volunteers who are familiar with this rugged, thick terrain helped in the search last week. For any information or leads, contact the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department at (707) 463-4411 or Jeremy Penaflor, Gene’s son, at (415) 533-0000.
http://220.127.116.11/balitangamerica/avid-filipino-hunter-goes-missing-in-california-forest/ - TV News Video - The Filipino Channel
Please visit my Facebook Page, Da Lopez Shot, to view the Missing Person's Report and photos of Gene Penaflor. Best regards, Dyna Lopez, Niece of Gene Penaflor
Email From His Son, Jeremy Penaflor
Hello, my name is Jeremy Penaflor.
My father, Gene Penaflor (72 years old), has been missing since Tuesday, September 24th, 2013. He left Monday morning, September 23rd, on a deer hunting trip with his hunting partner in the Mendocino National Forest. They were supposed to meet at noon for lunch after their morning hunt but he never showed up. After filing the missing persons report after the mandatory 24-hour period, the Lake County sheriffs department began a search for him Wednesday late afternoon until nightfall. There were 10-11 counties (including Lake, Monterey, Siskiyou, San Mateo counties) that participated in the search operation, along with helicopters and four canine units. The Bay Area Mountain Rescue, we were informed were one of the best, also was included in the search. The search continued through Saturday at 5 pm and was suspended because there was anticipated rain and would compromise the search teams if they continued. After 3 1/2 days of searching and combing the areas, there were no clues to be found. At the end of the search, they informed us they did their best but unfortunately there were no leads. They told us that the case is not closed; the search would continue after the rains stop, but the resources would not be as much as these past 4 days. We refuse to believe that after all the work and fine-combing the areas with the amount of volunteers, search teams, helicopters and canine units, that my father or any leads on his whereabouts cannot be found. Gene is an avid hunter and has been hunting for 30 years. He is a man who is capable of survival skills and extremely knowledgeable about the wilderness. He had a rifle with him when he went hunting, according to his hunting partner for 10 years, Ben. The signal for help was three quick successive shots. Ben never heard those shots and it was unlikely and out of character for Gene to be late for lunch, since they have been hunting in this particular area for at least 7 years.
Even in good health, my father is 72 years old and could not have strayed too far. Why can't they find him? We want this case to be broadcasted on the news because of the details I have included in this email. Mendocino and Lake County have posted the news about my missing father on the Facebook website, but it's limited to Facebook and those counties. There were many likes on it, but that doesn't get us closer to finding my father. We see so many missing person reports on the news; we would like to extend our resources to help find my dad. As much as we saw that the search operation was doing their best, our goal of finding him was not met. Please help us get the news out to the Bay Area to help my dad. Gene is a Bay Area resident, having lived in San Francisco, specifically the Bernal Heights neighborhood, for 30 years. He has two sons, Gale (lives in Emeryville, CA) and myself, Jeremy (live in Daly City, CA). He is in good health and has no medical conditions.
CHARLES ‘CHARLIE’ DELFINO, 46, Cloverdale High School's athletic director, has been arrested on two counts of misdemeanor child molestation on allegations of inappropriate conduct with two 15-year-old girls. Delfino has pleaded not guilty and is out of custody on bail. He remains on unpaid leave from his job at Cloverdale High School.
SUPERVISOR HAMBURG WRITES: “Since you called SB 740 dead (5/22, ‘Mendo Broadband Denied’) and it has now been signed by the governor, are you going to eat a little crow? Onward to the CPUC!”
I HAD JUST TAKEN a nicely roasted crow off the hibachi when, my chopsticks poised over his unappetizing carcass, The Major reminded me that we never called Broadband dead; we're all for it and commend Supervisor Hamburg's efforts on behalf of rural counties to get it for us, but what we said was in our scintillating edition of May 22nd, at the tail end of the Supe's report, was this:
“Mendo Broadband Denied
Supervisor Hamburg last Tuesday told his Board colleagues about a Friday, May 17 meeting in Fort Bragg to discuss internet broadband service in the county. ‘The focus will be broadband planning in the city of Fort Bragg. And of course Fort Bragg is on that fiber-optic so-called Route 1 Corridor project which I've mentioned several times before. That's the one that goes from Branscomb to Westport and down to Bodega Bay and back over to Petaluma, which is actually part of that Golden Bear Broadband application which is currently before the PUC. We are getting a lot of pushback from the big telecoms — Verizon, Frontier, AT&T, Comcast. Essentially, there is a lot of maneuvering going on in Sacramento around broadband. Included in that is this bill by Senator Padilla, AB-740, which this board has supported, but now the big telecoms are coming down against AB-740. … Basically the big telecoms don't want money to be allocated to organizations like ours who are trying to bring broadband to the rural communities; they don't want the competition. They are very happy to not serve these areas until they're damn well ready to serve them. They are calling our Golden Bear project — they say we are getting into areas where private operators or themselves as private corporations should be able to operate. The only hole in that argument is that they are not serving these areas. Unless you are on a major core highway like Highway 5 or Highway 101 you do not have service in Northern California and that situation exists in Mendocino County. And it exists in all these 16 or 17 counties that are part of the Golden Bear Broadband network. So it's kind of a battle royal that's going on in Sacramento right now over AB-740 and also over our application to the CPUC. We are lobbying hard. … The telecom lobbyists in Sacramento are trying to squelch our efforts. But we have some good political support on our side and we are fighting the battle.’ But later in the week, news out of Sacramento reported that funding for Padilla’s broadband infrastructure bill (via the California Public Utillities Commission) had been cut by $100 million, and the bill was amended to substantially restrict the definition of ‘underserved’ to include language that would limit funding to areas where no big telecom company had applied for a permit which isn’t very many areas in California.”
MEMO FROM KZYX MANAGER JOHN COATE TO KZYX BOARD
Re: FY 2013 Preliminary Audit
The audit visit has been completed and our informal income statement shows last year as having made a profit of $124,743. That number will come down some after Frank the auditor adjusts for equipment depreciation. But it won't come down as much as the $23K of previous years because we bought about $14K worth of capital equipment in FY2013. So the depreciation will be more around $9-10K. This mean we will show a final profit of more than $110K. As you know just about all of that was spent paying old debts and so we are again feeling the pinch of a lousy balance sheet, which will or will not be rectified by a good pledge drive this month. But the fact is - and facts matter - we took a failing organization and made it solvent.
Going in to this Board meeting, I hope that this record is a strong argument that this organization is, and has been, responsibly managed.
I say that because the AVA for one claims that we are not competent or responsible and that this is still a failing organization. And I am the main cause f that failure. He needs us to fail to support his general narrative and if facts get in the way he casts them aside. And let's remember that he, who pays Sheila to come to the meetings, twice told his readers in print that I was out of the country and in the Sept 11 issue advised “Tweekers” to figure out where I live because “you will know what to do.”
As for Doug and his committee, these items seem not to come into play at all. They never get mentioned. I guess they think this work is easy, or that if we just let the ultra-left political pepole have their way, even more money will flow into our coffers. All we have to do is get rid of me, Mary and NPR and then install Christina and Sheila as the local news people, join forces with KMEC, allow the listeners to vote on programming or have a committee make the decisions, and stage more open lines type programs so that Sister Yasmine and Jeff Wright and the other regular callers can even further express the true will of the people while bashing what would by then be the former KZYX management.
In truth, Doug and his group are just yet another iteration of the same battle over KZYX programming that has gone on since the year this station began. They are the same people who tried to physically take over the station in the early 90s, they are the same people who screamed at us in Fort Bragg in 2009. They are the people who vote for King Collins (who was only elected to the Board the one time he was unopposed). They are the ones who say we aren't "transparent" because, from what I can tell, we haven't allowed them to force us to get rid of NPR.
In short, despite whatever the argument du jour may be (this year it is not following regulations and policies), at its heart the motivation is political. Despite our still heavily left-leaning public affair programming, we still as a station do not take the correct side in most political debates so that the listeners can always hear "the truth."
As for the mission statement, "programming and operational philosophy...controlled by the membership" means things like a professional staff with volunteer programmers, a mixture of music and talk, national and local programs. And sure the membership, via the Board does control that. But it also says that we are "open to all" and we "reflect the rich diversity of the county" and we seek to "foster communication among all groups in the county." We on this staff take that very seriously and we strive for a station that doesn't take sides and does not favor any given faction. In my view, Doug and his group are most unhappy with the fact that we do this and do not favor a slant that gives even more air time to their side of an argument.
As for the PAC and the programming policy, that was created specifically to help Mary resist the pressure to change the programming in order to better satisfy this same group of people and their friends who now claim that it is being used for a purpose opposite of its reason for existing in the first place. This is a crazy rewriting of history. Ask anyone who was there for all of this: Johanna, Kathy Bailey, Diane and many others who have fought this same battle again and again for years. Doug is totally and dangerously wrong on this point.
Meanwhile, no complaints about music, none about the physical infrastructure. It's all a political battle. And one they have never won.
Do not cave in to this.
* * *
ED NOTE: The AVA is not affiliated with the present group of disgruntled KZYX members. There's always at least one disgruntled group going, and there has been since the station's bogus founding more than 20 years ago as the paid project of a guy who took the money and ran. KMUD was founded by the Southern Humboldt community and is structured in a way that makes KMUD accountable to its listeners. KZYX is structured in a way that management cannot be held accountable. With the exception of Nicole Sawaya, the sole intelligent person ever to occupy the manager's chair, KZYX has been dominated by the inept and the cringing. All we've ever wanted here at the AVA is local news or, at a minimum, local people talking about local matters with local listeners allowed to call in to comment. We have our own music collection, and we depend on print publications for our information about the big stuff that happens over the mountains and far away. The station, then, is irrelevant to us, as it is to most Mendo people. Local news and discussion would make it relevant. McKenty hosted a twice monthly call-in opportunity and now he's gone, apparently because some nut called in and dropped the F-Bomb on-air. Is there someone out there who doesn't understand that that kind of thing happens, that whoever happened to be on air would also be at a loss to prevent it, that the F-Bomb is not station policy? I think it's obvious that McKenty was fired because he is sympathetic to the dissidents. Could management be that petty, that vindictive? Evidently. Incidentally, we pay Ms. Tracy a miserly stipend that covers about half her commute between the Coast and wherever board meetings are held. If she suddenly lost all sense of reality and began describing management as, say, bracingly, excitingly intelligent, we would continue to run her reports in our beloved community newspaper. In fact, though, the station is not intelligently run as its childishly paranoid style consistently demonstrates. If its board of directors thinks Mendocino County is pleased with the institution they allegedly oversee, they're fooling themselves. Do any of you board members ever listen to KMUD? Any of the city stations? Do you have any idea how awful, how boring you are by comparison? There's no excuse for KZYX being as bad as it is. The constant fear, the secrecy, the nutty defensiveness, the utter lack of humor, well, anyway, daddy's here to help. What is it, little ones? What do you fear? Don't be scared. Daddy's always here.
I was a dream before I became this wonder
you see dancing with a dark partner, light
on my feet. Why not. I am the flash, or thunder,
or both. Why not. I was a dream. Am a dream,
laughter in a dream. Inside a cold unfolding night
a wave of love comes after, then a lovely scream.
Why not. I could turn, toss,and have done. Or hey,
I could choose a simple thought that builds to last.
I was a dream. I could fall into all dreams, or pray.
My constant inner inquisitor visits me: Let's review
your blunders. Oh no, no, no, I say. Not so fast.
I was a dream, why not. So let us all be true.
— Lawrence Bullock
CALTRANS' DESECRATION OF YAMI
By Will Parrish
Native people in the greater California North Coast region tended to cluster in foothills along streams and creeks that flowed into river-cut valleys. These areas collectively supported what many scholars consider the largest concentration of Native people anywhere on the North American continent.
Not surprisingly, one area where indigenous people chose to make their home is the northern portion of Little Lake Valley (aka, the Willits Valley), a veritable inland delta where five creeks that emerge out of the surrounding mountains converge to form Outlet Creek, which then flows into the mainstem Eel River.
The village located in this uniquely abundant area, named Yami, is etched on a map drawn by Samuel Barrett, UC Berkeley's eminent anthropologist and ethnographer of the early 20th century. Barrett's 1908 dissertation, the Ethnogeography of The Pomo and Neighboring Indians, remains the standard scholarly reference on Native people in this region prior to the invasion of Europeans — still utilized by scholars and policymakers alike. According to Barrett, roughly 5,000 people lived in Little Lake Valley.
In other words, about as many were there as currently live there according to the US government's Census counters (and Barrett, it should be noted, is regarded by many scholars to have vastly underestimated Native populations)
Since April, the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) has been draining and filling much of this area, in preparation for constructing the northern interchange of its six-mile Highway 101 freeway bypass around Willits. In the face of persistent questioning from representatives of Little Lake Valley's Pomo's representatives and descendants in the Sherwood Valley Rancheria regarding whether known archeological deposits associated with Yami were in the Willits Bypass construction swath, Big Orange's personnel maintained at every turn that it was not.
CalTrans' personnel were mistaken, or else they were lying.
On September 13th, Sherwood Valley Chairman Mike Fitzgerral opened his e-mail on his desktop computer in his office at the Sherwood Valley Rancheria, which is located on a 50-acre parcel on a bench in the foothills just west of Willits, and discovered a message from CalTrans Environmental Branch Chief Kendall Schinke of Big Orange's Marysville office. Following a paragraph consisting of bland formalities, Schinke went on to inform Fitzgerral that CalTrans had just gotten around to mapping the “existing [Pomo] cultural resource[s]” on the Willits Bypass route. After completing this map, Scihnke notes, “CT realized that CA-MEN-3571 was indeed located not only within the APE, but inside of the Area of Direct Impact (ADI).”
In other words, CalTrans' contractors have scraped several inches of top soil off of the site associated with Yami, installed roughly 1,500 wick drains there, and now piled three feet of fill on top of it. Fitzgerral was flabbergasted.
“We don't know how much damage was done to that site,” Fitzgerral says. “And we'll probably never know.”
Following this revelation, both the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and the California State Historic Preservation Office sent strongly-worded letters to Caltrans, with the latter admonishing Big Orange for violating a programmatic agreement (“PA”) it had previously signed with the Office concerning its handling of cultural resources in the Willits Bypass construction process.
State Historic Preservation Officer Carol Roland-Nawi's letter, sent on September 19th, states that “the violations of the PA and unfortunate results are of great concern to me. Consultation efforts shall continue to address these problems if Caltrans wishes to continue working under the PA for this project.” Both agencies also recommend that CalTrans re-open consultations with the Tribe under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA).
The Act requires that agencies that receive federal funding to develop infrastructure follow a set process for consulting with Native people. Although only a small portion of the Willits Bypass is funded by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Caltrans is required to abide this process as the lead agency overseeing the project.
Fitzgerral, who has been the tribal chairman since May 2005, has engaged in frustrated consultations with Caltrans officials for much of the year. Far from coming from some sort of avant garde posture, Fitzgerral and other tribal representatives have largely attempted to compel Big Orange to abide by the NHPA and the National Environmental Policy Act. Yet, tribal representatives maintain that only when they exert a great deal of pressure do CalTrans officials agree to meet with them. And, although the two parties have been meeting regularly since late-April, CalTrans has only completed one item on a list of roughly fifteen action items the tribe has presented them.
As these difficulties started to emerge, tribal officials hired anthropologist and archeologist Lee Clauss to assist them in dealing with Big Orange. Clauss is a community college instructor in Fullerton, who has worked for more than 15 years with First Nations people throughout the country to help protect their sacred sites and cultural legacies, including the White Mountain Apache, the Eastern Band of Cherokee, and others.
“I've reviewed and commented on behalf of tribal communities as part of more than 3,000 projects,” Clauss tells me. “Those run the gamut from the east coast to the west coast and include nearly every federal agency you can think of. And I've never encountered an agency that is as arrogant, as apathetic, as recalcitrant.”
Little Lake Valley Archeology
If you were to take a cursory look at the archeological and ethnographic literature concerning Little Lake Valley, you might conclude it was an area that was sparsely inhabited prior to the arrival of Euroamericans. The area is so well known for being marshy – the Central Pomo people referred to the valley by the evocatively intimate name Mto’m-kai, which closely translates to “Valley of Water Splashing the Toes” — so a common conceit of modern local residents is that it was mostly uninhabitable.
So, CalTrans was entering into this relative breech when it began its archeological studies in preparation for constructing the Willits Bypass. The agency's 2006 Environmental Impact Statement marked its first – and, to date, only – public release of its archeological findings. It mentions only two historically relevant sites, one of which is a Pomo archeological site and one of which is the Northern Pacific Railroad.
But CalTrans conducted a series of archeological investigations, as required under both the National Historic Preservation Act and the National Environmental Policy Act, in the subsequent years. In 2011 and 2012, for example, Caltrans' contractors discovered seven additional archeological sites, including MEN-3571, the site that this article described as being in the Yami village complex, in an area near the railroad tracks. Caltrans determined two of these sites as being outside of the so-called Area of Potential Effects (APE). Its personnel also recommended that two of these sites were not historically significant enough to warrant protection.
The State Historic Preservation Office disagreed with this conclusion, with Carol Roland-Nawi's September 19th letter stating, “There is the real potential the Valley may become an archaeological district as more information emerges. Until site boundaries and components are known for these two sites, it is impossible to determine their contribution to an archaeological district, if any.”
CalTrans failed to transmit any of the documents summarizing this archeological research to Sherwood Valley at the time. Clauss notes that the tribe is “very appreciative” of the sub-surface investigations CalTrans conducted in 2011, but she says tribal officials see these investigations as inadequate given that they were consigned to only a few specific areas. For example, CalTrans did not study the area where wick drains have been installed based on the far-fetched idea that there would be little impact to any archeological deposits there.
“Somehow, they didn't see wick draining as a deep ground disturbance,” Clauss says.
Sherwood Valley Chairman Mike Fitzgerral's first public difficulty with Caltrans took place in March. At the time, initial construction of the Bypass was being stymied by protesters. The Warbler's tree sit was going strong. With the political winds surrounding the project seemingly shifting, State Senator Noreen Evans took the opportunity to send a letter to CalTrans outlining a number of “concerns” she had about the project.
CalTrans Director Malcolm Dougherty wrote a response dated March 20th, which featured a number of misrepresentations. One of those was his claim that, in essence, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) was requiring that the Willits Bypass be a four-lane freeway (there is no such requirement). He also claimed Sherwood Valley Rancheria as a supporter of the Bypass.
Fitzgerral contacted CalTrans and asked for a public retraction. When this retraction failed to materialize, he got in touch with the Santa Rosa Press Democrat and informed reporter Melody Karpinski that, to the contrary, he is opposed to the bypass as currently designed.
Fitzgerral takes issue with the idea that a four-lane freeway is necessary to handle Willits' minimal traffic problem, noting that a two-lane road through Baechtel Ave. and the railroad corridor would be more than sufficient and far simpler to build. “Do they really think 10 years from now when you actually find out only 5,000 or 6,000 cars a day run on that bypass, that you're going to be able to justify putting in two more lanes?” he asks rhetorically.
He also decries the damage the freeway has no doubt done to the valley's fisheries, which had been rebounding before Bypass construction commenced. “We finally get the salmon back in these creeks, and now they're out there just pounding away. I don't think salmon are gonna come back anymore. They're probably done.”
Fitzgerral says he was unaware that Bypass construction was even taking place until he drove past the area where the Southern Interchange is being built and noticed the construction equipment had moved in. He dialed up CalTrans District 1 Director Charlie Fielder and insisted on having a meeting, which Fielder agreed to. The first meeting took place on April 26th.
At the time, CalTrans had no cultural monitors in the field to document potential archeological sites. There had been no meaningful consultations between the Tribe and Caltrans, as required by the National Historic Preservation Act. The tribe had not been involved in creating any agreement regarding how archeological findings were to be handled. With all those things in mind, Fitzgerral asked that CalTrans call off further construction activities until the two parties could attend to these fundamental issues. Fielder said that was impossible.
“The tribe was actively concerned about the lack of consultation under Section 106, they were concerned about the fact they had not been provided with a number of archeological studies,” Lee Clauss says. “After finally receiving the archeological reports, we began to be concerned about whether appropriate monitoring was being offered. We began to be concerned about complete lack of ethnographic information about each of the construction locations. We began to be concerned, based on reading CalTrans' own material, that areas CalTrans said were outside the APE were actually in the APEs.”
Clauss continues, “So, we were consistently saying, 'You need to stop work, you need to stop work, and we don't mean forever, we mean until we get these things resolved.' Caltrans outright refused to stop work for any amount of time.”
In early-May, Fitzgerral and Clauss drove to Sacramento and met with CalTrans lawyers there. They demanded that Big Orange employ cultural monitors, including at least one monitor designated by Sherwood Valley Rancheria, to be assigned to the Bypass construction zone and look out for disturbances of cultural sites. One Sherwood Valley monitor and one CalTrans monitor started full-time later that month.
Soon thereafter, the tribe felt like two monitors were not nearly enough, especially in the summer months as the amount and magnitude and location of construction activities ballooned. Caltrans agreed to employ four additional monitors. Of the six monitors, Clauss says, four are typically doing work in the field. Since June, the monitors have discovered four sites in the project's construction path that constituted so-called Post-Review Discoveries: significant archeological deposits that caused construction to cease in those discrete areas.
Initially, CalTrans and its contractors initially neglected to mark off these sites with fencing or signs, which even led to one of the contractors parking construction equipment on one of them for a time. They erected signs and fences only last week, following the controversy over the desecration of CA-MEN-3571.
A statement from Sherwood Valley Rancheria concerning the negotiations during this time period reads as follows:
“Since May 2013, SVR has provided both verbal and written comments to Caltrans concerning what the Tribe considers to be oversights in the identification of cultural resources within the Project APE, as well as inaccuracies and inadequacies in CT's efforts to assess potential adverse effects to these resources,” a September 18th statement from the Tribe reads. “In particular, SVR noted great concern about four known archaeological sites and what appeared to the Tribe to be a substantial lack of project documentation proving that these sites were indeed outside of the APE and, thus, protected from disturbance associated with construction activities. CA-MEN-3571 was one of those four sites.
“SVR repeatedly requested that CT plot all known cultural resource locations onto existing project plans so as to avoid damaging the resources and to ensure responsible in-field monitoring of these locations during construction. SVR also called upon CT to place physical, protective buffers around seven known archaeological sites, including CA-MEN-3571, until clarifications about the location, nature, and significance of the sites could be made and reports about these sites could be properly reviewed and commented upon by the consulting parties for the Project. From May 2013 to September 2013, these appeals were summarily dismissed by Caltrans and requests for explanation went unanswered. To date, no comprehensive cultural resources map exists for the Willits Bypass Project nor have the full complement of protective measures for archaeological resources, as stipulated in and required by the Environmental Impact Report and Record of Decision for the Project, been implemented.”
Tribal representatives again tried to bring these concerns to CalTrans at a meeting that took place last Tuesday, September 24th. Even though the meeting took place against the backdrop of CA-MEN-3571's desecration, tribal representatives report that CalTrans is only making minor adjustments in its approach to working with the Tribe.
Clauss says, “Even as recently as this past Tuesday, even in the face of two neutral parties – the State Historic Preservation Office and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation – saying, 'We think you need to re-open your consultation with the Tribe under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and that we think you are in non-compliance with three or four other documents, even coming from those very esteemed bodies, Caltrans still said we have no intention of stopping our work and going back to square one with you.”
CalTrans' Response –
and Sherwood Valley's Response To It
So far, CalTrans has struck a repentant note in its public proclamations about the harm the construction activities may have wrought on MEN-3571. Agency officials say they are investigating the clerical error that gave them the impression the site was not actually in the Bypass construction zone. However, they would not offer tribal officials any information on what this investigation would consist of nor when it would be completed. They also claim they are investigating the damage that was done to the site, but they admitted this investigation would consist only of re-reading the roughly three pages of existing material they have published regarding the site.
“Caltrans is working closely with the Sherwood Valley Rancheria and other interested Tribes to honor, respect and protect their cultural resources and history,” CalTrans' public statement on the incident reads. “All sites in our project work area are mapped and fenced for protection from construction activities. Both Caltrans field staff and contractor personnel are aware of the importance of protecting cultural resources.”
However, the sites in the project work area were neither mapped nor “fenced for protection from construction activities” until roughly two weeks ago, in spite of tribal officials' repeated requests that this simple step be taken.
In addition, as Lee Clauss notes in regard to this statement, “I'm not sure how a community is supposed to feel honored and respected when your concerns fall on deaf ears, when your requests go unanswered, when your pleas for the creation of processes and documents that would actually do more to protect cultural processes are ignored by the agency. It's at a point where one tribal council member actually said at one of our recent meetings, ‘I believe you intend to complete the Bypass before you get any agreement documents done’.”
An email I sent to CalTrans spokesperson Phil Frisbie on Monday, September 30th had gone unanswered as of press time. We'll continue to cover this story here in the AVA.
FEDS URGED TO HALT FRACKING OFF CALIFORNIA COAST
by Dan Bacher
A national environmental group on October 3 accused the federal government of violating a key national environmental law by allowing offshore fracking (hydraulic fracturing) in waters off California’s coast without analyzing the risks to human health and endangered marine species.
The Center for Biological Diversity filed a notice letter with two federal agencies in charge of regulating offshore oil development, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. The group plans legal action if the government fails to act (http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2013/fracking-10-03-2013.html)
A media investigation by the Associated Press and truthout.org recently revealed that oil companies are fracking in federal waters in the fish and wildlife-rich Santa Barbara Channel, where a 1969 oil spill polluted coastal waters and beaches with millions of gallons of oil. "Federal officials cannot even say how often fracking has happened in California’s offshore waters," a news release from the Center said.
The notice was filed in the wake of Governor Jerry Brown's signing of Senator Fran Pavley's Senate Bill 4, a controversial law that gives the green light to fracking in Monterey Shale deposits in Kern County and coastal areas. Over 100 environmental and consumer groups, including Food and Water Watch, the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN), the Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity, opposed the legislation.
Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association, led the charge to gut the already weak bill with oil industry-friendly amendments. Ironically, the same Reheis Boyd chaired the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create alleged "marine protected areas" in Southern California, as well as serving on the task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast. (http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/08/07/the-ocean-frackers)
“Oil companies are fracking California’s beautiful coastal waters with dangerous chemicals, and federal officials seem barely aware of the dangers,” said Miyoko Sakashita, an attorney and director of the Center’s oceans program. “We need an immediate halt to offshore fracking before chemical pollution or an oil spill poisons the whales and other wildlife that depend on California’s rich coastal waters.”
The Center’s notice letter seeks to compel the two federal agencies to suspend any operations involving hydraulic fracturing off California’s coast and conduct a full National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis of fracking pollution’s threats to environment and to wildlife in the area, renowned for hosting the world’s densest summer concentrations of blue whales.
"Despite the federal shutdown, the bureaus will continue many operations, including processing development plans and applications for drilling permits," according to Sakashita.
She said a Center legal team recently won a landmark lawsuit that halted fracking and drilling on thousands of acres of federally managed onshore public lands in California. A federal court ruled that the federal government violated NEPA by leasing onshore public lands for oil and gas development without adequately reviewing the risks of fracking, and offshore permit approvals suffer from the same legal deficiency.
"At least a dozen offshore oil wells in California state waters have also been fracked in the past three years, according to records uncovered by the Center. These records show that offshore fracking in California employs dangerous substances, including 2-Butoxyethanol, methanol and other cancer-causing chemicals," the Center disclosed.
“During offshore fracking, a significant amount of fracking fluid returns to the surface and is either discharged into the ocean or transported for onshore ground injection. At sea, these chemicals enter the marine ecosystem and threaten marine life and sensitive habitats,” the Center said.
One scientific study found that 25 percent of fracking chemicals could cause cancer and mutations. Another joint peer-reviewed study by the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released on August 28 also revealed that hydraulic fracturing fluids were the likely cause of the widespread death or distress of aquatic species in Kentucky's Acorn Fork, including endangered blackside dace, after spilling from nearby natural gas well sites. (http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp)
GIVE TODAY! A little straight talk 'tween us: One really weird aspect of living in postmodern America, is the reluctance of people here to take action in the face of that which does not serve them well. In addition to not responding to the global crisis of global climate destabilization, in lieu of the Greenland ice sheet melting, it is most curious why the American people and the United States government do not even recognize this most monumental and critical eco-situation. But then again, a small percentage of congresspersons just shut down the American government, and nobody is responding particularly, except one woman who attempted to drive through the White House barrier yesterday, and was shot dead as a result. This is really beginning to become surreal, isn't it? Right now I am in Garberville assisting my friend Andy Caffrey who is running for congress as a radical environmental candidate. Check out CaffreyForCongress.org for details, and of course send money to "Caffrey for Congress" at P.O. Box 324, Redway, CA 95560. Beyond this, my commitment to surround the Washington D.C. beltway, and the Capitol building, and the White House, performing spiritual rituals to counteract the bogus energy which is spewing out, poisoning the rest of this world, remains undeterred. Now that I am 64 years of age, I am asking you to cooperate with me so that I am able to do this. Whereas I have not gotten a fucking thing worth shit in recent memory form the American society, I'd like to be given cooperation so that I may return to Washington DC and do what I am spiritualy called to do.You are invited to participate with me, of course. I want you to give me whatever you can, and please forward this message out to D.C. contacts. Thank you very much, Craig Louis Stehr. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Blog: http://craiglstehr.blogspot.com