- Mendocino County
- Anderson Valley
by AVA News Service, July 11, 2014
CORPS LIFTS PERMIT SUSPENSION ON WILLITS BYPASS PROJECT
EUREKA — After Caltrans committed to accelerate work on the extensive mitigation for the bypass project and develop a plan to add additional mitigation to compensate for delays in beginning the mitigation work, today the US Army Corps of Engineers lifted the permit suspension for the Willits Bypass Project. The Willits Bypass Project will relieve congestion, reduce delays, and improve safety for both traffic and pedestrians along U.S. Highway 101 through Willits in Mendocino County. This $210 million project, now under construction, is primarily funded ($136 million) by Proposition 1B, a 2006 voter-approved transportation bond. For the latest information about the Willits Bypass Project, please visit willitsbypass.wordpress.com. (— Phil Frisbie, Caltrans spokesperson)
* * *
WASHINGTON-Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) released the following statement today following a conference call he convened with Caltrans and the United States Army Corps of Engineers regarding the Willits Bypass:
“The Willits Bypass is a project of great regional significance. My predecessor, Representative Mike Thompson, worked tirelessly to advance this project to address Highway 101 traffic problems and improve the quality of life and economy for the Willits community. Over the course of many years, a lengthy and deliberative public process helped develop and refine the project, culminating in the granting of all necessary state and federal permits, the securing of public funding, and the awarding of construction contracts in 2012.
Construction was getting underway when I took office in January of 2013, and today tens of millions of dollars have been spent and a significant amount of Phase 1 construction is finished. While I was not part of the process that led to the approval and building of this project, I respect the process and decisions that predate my time as Congressman for Mendocino County and am committed to the successful completion of this work. A Willits Bypass is going to happen. My interest is in getting it over the finish line in the most timely and cost-effective way possible.
Critical to that goal is resolving Caltrans' non-compliance with environmental mitigation requirements in its Clean Water Act permit from the United States Corps of Engineers. No one disputes that Caltrans is bound by those permit requirements including additional mitigation actions to address the loss of wetlands due to project delays; nor is there any question that Caltrans has not fully complied with those requirements. That's why the Army Corps temporarily suspended the permit on June 20, 2014. And that's why for the past three weeks, Caltrans and the Army Corps have been exchanging letters about what specific mitigation actions Caltrans must take, and the timeframe for those actions, so that the permit can be reinstated.
In the meantime, some work on the project has been halted, construction crews have been idled, and substantial additional costs are being incurred with each passing day. Clearly, this impasse must be resolved quickly. The stakes are too high for pointing fingers, scapegoating or endlessly exchanging letters between agencies. The situation requires leadership and problem solving by everyone involved.
Toward that end, my staff and I have been in almost daily contact with both agencies over the past three weeks urging resolution of the permit compliance problem. I have personally met with and had multiple phone calls with officials from both agencies, and today I convened an emergency conference call that included the key leaders from both agencies as well as my predecessor and colleague, Representative Thompson.
I'm pleased to report that there was significant progress today, in large part because the agencies are now talking directly to each other instead of just exchanging letters. Based on statements made to me and Congressman Thompson in our phone conference, I believe the two agencies are working diligently and in good faith toward a resolution within the next 24-48 hours that should enable the reinstatement of the Army Corps permit and the resumption of work on the project, while ensuring full compliance by Caltrans with its Clean Water Act obligations.
I appreciate the responsiveness of both the Army Corps and Caltrans in working with me and Congressman Thompson, and more importantly with each other, in the spirit of urgency this situation demands. Continued hard work and commitment from both agencies will be needed going forward to ensure that Phase 1 of the project is completed without additional delays, disruptions or costs to the taxpayers.”
PROMPT ACTION by a small army of firefighters confined the Shimmins Ridge fire off 101 north of Willits to 28 steep acres. The cause of the Wednesday blaze has not been determined but was declared fully contained by 3am Thursday.
88 firefighters on the ground, four air tankers, five fire engines and one helicopter kept the stubborn flames from spreading.
OFFICIAL FATAL INCIDENT REPORT for the Andy Lopez killing:
LEON EDMUND KOWALSKI, Jr., 73, of Fort Bragg, died of natural causes on Thursday, July 3, 2014. He was known in the community as "Ed Kowas" from KMFB/KPMO and KZYX Radio, where he produced and delivered the news via radio and TV for over two decades including hosting the popular "Coast Talk" and "On the Record" radio shows. He received a law degree from Valparaiso University in 1965, and practiced law in Indiana and Michigan from 1966 to 1986, where he specialized in Chapter 11 reorganization to save family farms from bankruptcy. From 1979 to 1983, he also served as Probate Judge in Lake County, Michigan. He moved to Mendocino, California, in 1987 and began his second career in news and broadcasting as a radio talk show host for KMFB/KPMO radio and live news reporter for Mendocino TV, focusing on hotly debated political and environmental issues. He attended church daily, both at St. Anthony's Church in Mendocino and Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Fort Bragg. He volunteered weekly at Sherwood Oaks Health Center and washed dishes at a local soup kitchen. He is survived by three children and seven grandchildren located in North Carolina and Michigan. Services will be held privately. Donations may be offered to Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Fort Bragg.
THE US CLIMATE PREDICTION CENTER says the Pacific Ocean's surface temperatures will warm, a phenomena known as El Niño that can affect worldwide rainfall. But the El Niño that’s in the forecast will likely be only “weak to moderate,” the report says.
While strong El Niños have been associated with rain in California, lesser El Niños haven’t correlated with wet years.
The chance of an El Niño developing, according to the report, is about 70 percent by the end of summer and 80 percent by fall or early winter.
The projected strength of the El Niño was downgraded because ocean temperatures near the International Date Line have not continued to rise since earlier this year when temperatures there were well above average, the report says.
While rainfall in Northern California isn’t likely to get a bump with the El Niño, moderate events have correlated with wetter years in Southern California. Strong events are linked to above-average rainfall statewide.
San Francisco saw its most rain — 47.2 inches — during the El Niño year of 1997-98.
California is wrestling with three years of below-average rainfall, and Sierra snowmelt remains historically sparse. That’s left water supplies in many places at near-record lows.
Several communities have begun restricting municipal water use, and water deliveries to California farmers have been curtailed.
ON TUESDAY, the California State Water Resources Control Board proposed several regulations on urban outdoor water usage in response to the state’s ongoing drought. The regulations would impose a fine of up to $500 on Californians who: allow water to run off onto adjacent property when they water their lawns and gardens, wash their cars with a hose that does not have a shutoff nozzle, use water to rinse off sidewalks, or use a fountain that does not recirculate its water.
Last January, Gov. Jerry Brown called for a voluntary reduction of water usage by 20%. Instead, a state water board study found that only 5% less water was used. From what we can tell, the proposed regulations are a tepid step unlikely to make any more of a dent in Brown’s 20% target. The regulations apply only to urban areas, whereas agriculture accounts for about 80% of the state’s water usage. Furthermore, it prohibits people from overwatering their lawn or attempting to water the sidewalk, but not much else. As the water board chairwoman, Felicia Marcus, acknowledged, “Is this enough? No.” Still, Marcus maintained that “this is enough for a start.” After three years of drought, one wonders why the State Board is only now offering “a start,” and a meager one at that. In fairness, the board says that it will consider more stringent regulations in the future. Still, the pace of action in the face of severe drought is clearly not exactly blistering.
The proposed regulations have received national attention, becoming the subject of a write-up in The Washington Post, an asinine commentary in Forbes, and an editorial in The New York Times. The national media has predictably reiterated the California-is-overregulated cliché. An excerpt accompanying The Washington Post’s article says, “State water regulators are considering fines … for things like irrigating lawns and car washing.” Contrary to this inaccuracy, Californians are not about to have their summertime chores converted into fineable offenses. The Detroit Free Press likewise tells the sad story of a blue-collar man who “inadvertently let[s] a fine mist from a leaky hose soak the front lawn of a Southern California home,” then realizes that this kind of thing is going to get him a hefty fine that will be “the difference between me making my house payment or not,” he laments. One imagines specially outfitted drones hovering the California sky, searching relentlessly for errant mists from guilty gardeners. This kind of fear-mongering deserves at least some of the blame for the state’s feeble response to the drought.
The proposed regulations are in fact a low floor for water conservation, and one which many local governments have already gone far beyond, including Mendocino County. They prohibit a few stupid ways to waste a precious and scarce resource. The fines, though onerous if actually doled out, are unlikely to impact almost anyone. Enforcement of the regulations has not yet been settled. Marcus did not specify who would enforce the regulations, saying that local officials could do it, or maybe the state could perform the duty instead, or perhaps both. Or perhaps people will only be given warnings, Marcus suggested Wednesday. “We're trying to take the lightest touch we can to get the point across,” said Marcus. No one likes bureaucracy or overregulation, and it is not a bad idea for government to take a light touch. But sometimes, points need to be made more quickly and forcefully than the lightest touch allows. It seems to us that this drought is one of those times. (Charles Gibson)
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And—which is more—you'll be a Man my son!
— Rudyard Kipling
THEY ASKED ME what I learned in prison. I ain't learned nothing but one thing. I know damn well I ain't coming back. Because you know why? Prison is full of a bunch of whining, sorry, crybaby-ass men who made a bad decision, and now they don't want to live up to it, don't want to accept responsibility for it.
— Nate Newton, former NFL football player busted for transportation of marijuana
BOONVILLE AS INSPIRATION: Allan Pollack, the talented composer and conductor based in Mendocino, will premier his "A Summer Evening at the Boonville Fair" the first night of this year's Mendocino Music Festival, Saturday, July 12th.
…A PERILOUS AND UNSPOKEN ACCORD in American politics has grown up while no one was looking, which unites the liberal left and the authoritarian right. They agree in their unquestioning support of a government without checks or oversight; and it is the Obama presidency that has cemented the agreement. The state apparatus which supports wars and the weapons industry for Republicans yields welfare and expanded entitlements for Democrats. The Democrats take to the wars indifferently but are willing to accept them for what they get in return. The Republicans hate the entitlements and all that goes by the name of welfare, but they cannot escape the charge of hypocrisy when they vote for ever-enlarging military entitlements.
— David Bromwich, The World's Most Important Spectator
THE BOONVILLE FARMERS' MARKET is happening every Saturday morning at the Boonville Hotel, 10-12:30. The first Saturday of each month you will find the AV Foodshed information table. On that same day the Rural Living Skills mini-workshops will take place, if someone local comes forward or is recruited to share their skill. Please contact Valerie Adair if you would like to share a simple or not-so-simple skill. She can be reached at 367-2143 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
ON JULY 8, 2014 deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff Marijuana Eradication Team, assisted by the Agents from the Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force, served a search warrant in the 20000 Block of Mountain View Road, Boonville [almost 1500 feet this side (Boonville side) of Faulkner Park]. Located at the property were 200 marijuana plants, scales, a 12 gauge shotgun and Ryan Doran, 30, of Boonville. Doran was arrested and booked into the Mendocino County Jail for Cultivation of marijuana, Possession marijuana for sale, and Committing felony while armed. Doran was released after posting $50,000 bail. (Sheriff’s Press Release)
* * *
ON JULY 7, 2014, deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff Marijuana Eradication Team assisted by Deputies from the Mendocino Sheriff's Office Detective Unit, Agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, Agents from the Mendocino County Major Crimes Task Force, Officers from the Mendocino County Probation Department and a Warden from California Fish and Wildlife conducted a series of raids, including the service of 8 search warrant, in the area of Black Hawk Drive and Walker Lake Road, Willits. A total of 2,382 marijuana plants were eradicated along with the seizure of approx. 200 pounds of processed marijuana and one firearm. Jose Licea, 40 of Willits, Dennis Quinliven, 35, of Willits, Immanuel Nemethy, 32, of Willits and William Healy 36, of Willits, were arrested and booked into Mendocino County jail on the charges of cultivation and cultivation for sale. Darrel Owens who is currently on formal probation in Mendocino County was arrested and booked into Mendocino County jail on the charges of Cultivation of marijuana, Possession of marijuana for sale, Maintaining place to grow marijuana, Ex-felon with firearm, Ex-felon with ammunition, and Violation of probation. Additional suspects have been identified and more arrests are expected. (Sheriff’s Press Release)
ON JULY 8, 2014 at approximately 7:20 P.M., Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies conducted a traffic stop on Highway 101 near Highway 162 of a vehicle being driven by Joseph Yadon, 46, of Willits. During the contact with Yadon Deputies were informed by Mendocino County Dispatch that Yadon was wanted for an outstanding misdemeanor arrest warrant. As Deputies arrested Yadon on the warrant, in plain view on the driver's side floor of the vehicle were a used methamphetamine pipe and a small bag containing approximately 0.63 grams of methamphetamine. It was also learned by Deputies that Yadon's driver's license was suspended. Yadon was arrested and transported to the Mendocino County Jail where he was booked for Possession of a Controlled Substance, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Violation of Probation, and Driving on a Suspended Driver's License, with bail set at $10,000.00.
CATCH OF THE DAY, July 10, 2014
KRISTINE AMMERMAN, Ukiah. Drunk In Public, Probation revoked.
GARY BARLETT, Point Arena, Criminal threats to cause death or great bodily injury.
DAVID BURLESON, Ukiah. Failure to register as a sexually violent predator.
HERMINIA CEJA-ORTIZ, Ukiah. Domestic assault, failure to appear.
CARLOS DELAOSSA III, Cutler Bay, Florida. Sale/Transportation of marijuana.
LORI DOW, Fort Bragg. Failure to appear, probation revoked.
WILLIAM HEALY, Willits. Marijuana cultivation & possession.
ANDREW HOLM, Lucerne. Contempt of Court.
JEFFREY JONES, Ukiah. Under the influence of Meth.
DAVID KROLL, Drunk in public.
JOSE MARTINEZ, Ukiah. Marijuana cultivation/possession.
ARIA NAVAB-TEHRANI, Ukiah. Marijuana cultivation/possession. Production of honey oil.
DARRELL OWENS, Willits. Ex-felon with firearm, marijuana cultivation/production/sale, parole violation.
BOBBY ROSTON, Nice. Under influence of meth. Parole violation.
MAYA SHERPA, Ukiah. Domestic assault.
MICHAEL SOAVE, Sacramento. Marijuana sale/transportation.
JEFFERY STOKES, Upper Lake. Giving false ID to police.
RICHARD SUPER, Willits. Drunk in public.
SEAN WILSON, Willits. Probation violation.
JOSEPH YADON, Willits. Possession/under influence of meth. Drug paraphernalia, driving without a license, probation revoked.
TRUE WIT should break a wise man's heart. It should strike at the exact point of weakness and it should scar. It should rest on a pillar of truth and not on a gelatin base, and the truth is not so shameful that it cannot be recorded.
— Dawn Powell
ANTHRAX, GHOSTS & DOMINOES IN PRISON
by Suza Lambert Bowser
Revenge is an airborne disease in prison, one that seeps beneath the skin and pervades the atmosphere like a deadly fog. An inmate’s honor, once impugned, seems to require action, and the most common method for redeeming one’s “face” is an act of revenge. This response can involve mild name-calling, bullying, a few dirty tricks, or more intense actions like “narking” on an enemy to Internal Affairs or, even worse, committing an act of violence.
One such act of violence occurred the other day when two women attacked each other during “gym.” Only half a dozen of the fifty or sixty women who attend gym actually exercise or play volleyball. Most congregate to exchange information or gossip; the rest come to meet their “boos.” No visceral sex acts can occur under the watchful scrutiny of the guards, but jealous passions often ignite quickly as they did with Medea and Juno, who clashed with Titanic fury.
Although the odds seemed to favor Juno at 6’1’’ and 230 pounds, the shorter, wiry Medea was equally fierce. She flattened Juno with a full-on body slam. Juno was prepared, however, and struck back with a shank made from a pen, which she used to slice Medea’s head open, all the while screeching with ear-piercing glee at the satisfying gouts of blood. They were, of course, immediately handcuffed and carted off, one to Health Care Segregation and the other to the regular segregation unit.
Being stuck in jail inside a prison proved too much for Juno. She threatened to kill herself with two sharpened screws from a light fixture. When the CO offered to enter her room and restrain her, she refused his aid and countered by smearing herself with her own excrement, shouting, “Come and get me now, motherfucker!”
Poor Juno probably would have been happier in the days when this prison was a mental hospital. Back then, Thorazine flowed like the River Lethe. (Hell, they’re still prescribing that ole zombie med today!) But now, all that remains of the original loony bin are the unhappy ghosts that roam the wings looking for lost lovers and revenge.
“Alice,” a young sprite that inhabits our unit, slips along the corridors at night only to appear suddenly beside our bunks gunning for the deadbeat dad of her orphaned children, a man she says she will murder in a variety of innovative ways.
“Sandra” is not as maternal; she’s after the son-of-a-bitch who threw her 290 lb. ass down the stairs breaking both of her sizable arms. Later, when her heart finally exploded from all the chocolate pudding she consumed, her spirit was consigned to our wing. At night, she whispers her eternal question: “Where the fuck is Ralph?”
Revenge takes many forms in a prison, where snubs or perceived offenses can kick off a rampage of vengeance. Take the case of the missing dominoes.
Decatur Prison is acoustically challenged. The white walls, the linoleum flooring, and the occasional floor-to-ceiling plate glass windows are highly reflective. Thus, dominoes, dumped on a stainless steel tabletop, can sound like a truckload of ice crashing onto a city pavement.
This incessant clacking must have pushed one inmate over the edge, because the game pieces mysteriously disappeared without a trace, leaving a strange, incomplete quiet on the unit and angering the die-hard domino players. The relative stillness was eerie except for the normal sounds of the icemaker that resembles a Las Vegas slot machine without any hope of a jackpot. And then there are the normal maniacal shrieks and howls of the other inmates, vocalizations reminiscent of this place’s earlier incarnation as a mental ward. The disappearing dominoes threw C-Wing into a tizzy, including Officer Pagan, who vowed shakedowns and worse, segregation, if they were not returned immediately.
Every prisoner possesses contraband, whether it’s an orange from the chow hall, nail polish cleverly concocted from floor wax, secret love letters (“kites”), or “straps” – sexy paraphernalia made from shampoo bottles. (Don’t ask.) No one wants a shakedown, so everyone was incredibly relieved when the missing dominoes turned up suddenly and mysteriously beside the utility sink.
Our collective sighs of relief quickly turned into sharp inhales of fear, however, when the entire prison went into emergency lockdown status. Scurrying to respective wings faster than the festering plagues of Olde London, we all whispered one fearful word: “Anthrax!”
“Anthrax!” we said, recalling the recent news reports of threats against Obama. “Anthrax!” we muttered, mulling over the image of revengeful envelopes stuffed with toxic white powder spilling in the mailroom.
Strangely, the threat of this lethally infectious pox leveled the playing field in our prison. No one, including staff, was allowed to leave, except for the lucky visitors in the Visiting Center, who threaded their way home through news vans and reporters, the FBI, the ATF, HAZMAT vehicles, the Decatur Fire Department, Illinois State Troopers, and the NSA. Safely at home, those visitors sat down to watch the drama unfold on TV with bags of chips and bottles of beer.
Inside the prison, we also watched the TV news with our own bags of chips (sans beer, however) while we mentally said goodbye to our children and grandbabies. “Anthrax!” I thought bitterly, picturing my body laid out on a slab, being dissected by strange men in space suits. Was this my penance for driving marijuana through Illinois? Was an Anthrax-induced agony the final price for my crime amid the soybeans and cornfields of Macon County?
I’m happy to report that I did not die – at least not as of this writing, and the Anthrax turned out to be nothing but harmless powder, a fact that was disappointing to some inmates who were hoping for something more titillating and practical – like cocaine. To date, no one knows why someone would send the white powder to Decatur Prison, but I’m putting my money on revenge, an emotion that seems to follow a predictable path in this neck of the woods.
As I lay me down to sleep on my unforgiving metal bunk bed, my roommates regale me with stories of “Carla,” the vengeful vamp of “C-Wing,” who died of heartache when her crankhead boyfriend killed himself and, far worse, totaled her beloved vintage GTO.
I drift off into an uneasy sleep, but not before I sense “Carla’s” ectoplasm leaking through the air vent to “tickle our noses as we lay asleep.” If you peek out the cell window at 2:00 am, you can see her gliding down the corridor as pale and white as Anthrax, wearing only a long black veil and looking for revenge.
* * *
BACKGROUND: ARCATA FILMMAKER ARRESTED ON CANNABIS CHARGES IN ILLINOIS – March 2, 2012
Friday, March 2, 2012
ILLINOIS – Filmmaker and actress Suza Lambert Bowser, a Sunny Brae resident, was arrested Thursday, Feb. 16 in La Salle County, Illinois on suspicion of possession of marijuana with intent to deliver, a felony.
Bowser, 60, was arrested by the La Salle County State’s Attorney’s Felony Enforcement unit – known as “SAFE” – which is dedicated to patrolling Interstate 80, which has been identified as a route used by drug transporters.
Bowser was reportedly carrying more than 11 pounds of cannabis. Also seized in the arrest was $26,000 and the motorhome she was driving. She was released the next day on $15,000 bond.
At a hearing yesterday, March 1, authorities added a second charge of marijuana trafficking. Bowser will now be allowed to leave Illinois, but she had to surrender her passport. She listed a residential address in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.
Both charges are “Class X” felonies under Illinois law. Conviction on a Class X felony means a mandatory six- to 30-year sentence, with no discretion allowed by the judge. Probation is not an option, unless the charge is downgraded by prosecutors.
Bowser is a multi-talented creative – a writer, actress, musician, moviemaker and a graphic artist who once penned an editorial cartoon for the Arcata Eye. Most recently, she wrote, produced and shot the independent film Flea in Arcata and environs.
Efforts to reach Bowser were unsuccessful.
(Courtesy, Kevin L. Hoover, Arcata Eye)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
"All About Money", with host, John Sakowicz, returns to KZYX tomorrow, Friday, July 11, at 9 a.m., Pacific Time, with a special edition show on the billions and billions of dollars of waste, fraud and corruption in Afghanistan and Iraq. Matthew Hoh and Peter van Buren are our guests.
Hoh is the highest-ranking U.S. official to publicly renounce U.S. policy in Afghanistan, and he was awarded The Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling in 2010. Van Buren, a 24-year veteran of the State Department, spent a year in Iraq as the Team Leader for two Provincial Reconstruction Teams.
Our broadcasts are heard live in the Counties of Mendocino, Lake, Humboldt, and Sonoma in northern California at 88.1, 90.7, and 91.5 FM.
We also stream live from the web at www.kzyx.org
Shows will be archived at KZYX or posted to the Public Radio Exchange.
MATTHEW HOH — Hoh, now a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy, served with the U.S. Marine Corps in Iraq and on U.S. Embassy teams in both Afghanistan and Iraq. He was subsequently appointed Senior Civilian Representative of the U.S. government for Zabul Province in Afghanistan. Five months into his year-long contract in 2009, Hoh resigned and became the highest-ranking U.S. official to publicly renounce U.S. policy in Afghanistan. Hoh was awarded The Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling in 2010. Hoh is the former Director of the Afghanistan Study Group, a network of foreign and public policy experts and professionals advocating for a change in US strategy in Afghanistan.
PETER VAN BUREN — Van Buren, a 24-year veteran of the State Department, spent a year in Iraq as a State Department Foreign Service Officer serving as Team Leader for two Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs).. Following his first book, “We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People”, the Department of State began proceedings against him. The book, published in 2011, called out the State Department for failing to address the root problems in Iraq, both the Sunni-Shia tribal/political/religious divides as well as the failed civil and municipal infrastructures that underlay widespread discontent with the Iraqi government.
PD EDITORIAL: IT'S TIME TO SHUCK THE LAST OYSTER
In the North Bay, protecting family farms is a popular cause. So is maintaining natural habitat and open space. The battle over Drakes Bay Oyster Co. is a product of a clash between those values.
Drakes Bay, a scenic inlet in Point Reyes National Seashore, has been home to an oyster farm for a half-century. For most of that time, it also has been designated as a wilderness area, where recreation is allowed but commercial activities, including aquaculture, are banned.
The federal government — the taxpayers — paid $80,000 to the previous owner in 1972. The government also entered into a 40-year lease, allowing the oyster farm to operate until Nov. 30, 2012, when the wilderness rules were to take effect. It was a generous deal, worth about $440,000 adjusted for inflation. But when the time came, the new owner balked.
Kevin Lunny bought the oyster farm in 2004, and he was informed of the lease terms. But his business has been popular and successful, supplying many Northern California restaurants. He has tried in Congress, the executive branch and the courts to extend his lease, winning support from some Marin County residents as well as conservative activists and gastronomes.
So far, he has failed.
Lunny's most recent setback came last week when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to consider his bid to keep farming oysters in Drakes Bay while lower courts consider his challenge to an eviction order issued by then-Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.
Lunny, who also has a cattle ranch in the park, vowed to keep fighting “until the last oyster is shucked.”
That's his right, and his attorneys were in U.S. District Court on Monday to discuss the next steps in his litigation. At the same time, however, Lunny's attorneys said they've entered talks with the government.
It's not clear if those talks are intended to settle the lawsuit or simply to set a shutdown date for the Drakes Bay operation while litigation continues.
Given the court decisions and the federal law that authorized Salazar to decide on the oyster farm's future, we hope Lunny will begin looking for a new site, if not somewhere on Tomales Bay, where Hog Island and Tomales Bay oyster companies have thrived, then perhaps to the north in Humboldt Bay.
However he proceeds, it's fair to say the saga of Drakes Bay Oyster Co. tracks the history of Point Reyes National Seashore.
Clem Miller, a North Coast congressman, worked for several years to win congressional approval. He died in a plane crash four weeks after President John F. Kennedy signed the legislation in 1962. The bill was underfunded, and most of the land remained in private hands for a decade. Without Miller in Washington to seek additional funding, only the threat of housing, a country club and a shopping mall within the park's boundaries prompted Congress to appropriate money for land acquisition.
Beginning in the early 1970s, Miller's widow and a former aide worked on the wilderness issue, winning support from prominent ranchers who leased land within the park, Amy Meyer explained in “New Guardians for the Golden Gate,” a history of Point Reyes National Seashore and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
About half of the park ultimately was designated as wilderness, with a 40-year delay for Drakes Bay to accommodate the oyster farm. Salazar directed his staff to extend the leases for the ranches, which are outside the wilderness area, when he ordered Lunny to remove his oyster racks from the bay.
Lunny knew the clock was running when bought the business. But there may be other sites where he can keep serving his loyal customers while the long-promised wilderness is established at Drakes Bay.
* * *
MIKE KOEPF RESPONDS: The editors of the Press Democrat, who undoubtedly were in diapers or trying to learn the alphabet when Clem Miller was alive, have no idea who Clem Miller was. To link Clem Miller’s name with elite environmentalists that see the earth as their private church is an editorial deceit beyond all comparisons. Clem Miller was the last congressional representative in our region who clearly understood the unique relationship between his constituents and the natural world. He stood up for fishermen, those who toiled in the woods, small business people, and people who hardly had a dime until the Democratic Party evolved to what it is: an elite conglomeration between those who govern and the media; the filthy, digital rich; the encouraged diaspora from Latin American, and the indifferent and uninformed propagandized by newspapers such as this. Clem Miller would have championed the continued existence of the Drakes Bay Oyster Company, because he clearly understood that without the sea and earth we’d all have nothing to eat. Clem Miller would have been able to separate protecting the environment as an intolerant, driven cause verses a sustainable, benign benefit that brings sustenance and pleasure to us all.
SANE ONLY, PLEASE
I need a sane intelligent spiritual response to this email good morning, I need $300 to purchase a ticket to return to california. Please telephone Andy Caffrey at 707-923-2114 and request that he get his stoned mind to Ray's Supermarket in Garberville, Ca and wire me the $290 that I lent to him to secure a campaign office for his run for the U.S. Congress. I need to leave New Orleans now, where I have in-house assisted the anarchist rights organizer, "Bork", for the past seven months, and I need a ticket to return to California. Also, if we can find anybody who would welcome me to be inside upon my arrival, please give out my telephone message number which is (504) 302-9951, or you may invite me yourself to come to where you are. By the way, I am fully aware that this is all insane, and that's why I cultivated a legitimate, successful spiritual life amidst the stupidity of postmodern America's materialistic binge. I await anybody else who is sane to contact me as soon as possible, Craig Louis Stehr (504) 302-9951 CraigStehr@pamho.net. 333 Socrates Street, New Orleans, LA 70114