Mendocino County Today: Wednesday, June 15, 2016
by AVA News Service, June 15, 2016
NARCISSISM'S VERY CYNOSURE…
Wow, I was just told of your recent pieces concerning my marriage to county supervisor Dan Hamburg!
Your source must be someone very close to Dan, to judge from the detailed information provided. My husband’s response when you asked for comment was also telling. I’m no fan of euphemisms, but I might have been comforted by a generic “Please respect our privacy as my wife and I get through a difficult time, for her sake if not for mine.” Instead, he offered only a correction of his married lover’s name, thereby confirming her role in his life and displaying his solicitude for her. As for me, I have neither been spoken for nor had a voice in the matter, so why not respond to your story about my life? Regarding several of the points in your article, I would offer comments about begging, foot surgery, insurance, love and dashed hope, as well as a literary observation.
As you wrote, there was a very dark day last October, in the tenth month of our marriage, when my husband came home with his absolutely shocking announcement of divorce with no discussion, and I did beg, but not for my surgery. It was to give us not a second, third or fourth chance, but a first chance! I begged him to give me more than one single hour to talk and to work on any issue he wanted and — especially — to get counseling. The answer to all of it was no. I also of course begged him to tell me why and the answer to this was “I don’t know.”
At that moment, my first surgery had already happened, and was wildly successful: I kept up with all my physical work and my foot now contains three really large titanium bolts. My cast had just come off that week and I was back on my feet (and bike). The next surgery, on the other side, was already planned for this year. You wrote that my husband “uses public money to fix his estranged wife’s feet.” The reality is more mundane. Similar to employees across the country, the supervisors have health insurance, paid half by the employer — the county — and half by the individual for him or herself. The employee pays extra to include a spouse in the plan, as is the case for us. This was pretty wonderful for me who, as a self-employed artist, never before had access to an employee benefits package. I was also grateful that my flat feet, which had stayed strong for so long, chose this newly insured year to go south. Now I could start walking, even dancing again.
But in one day, the comfortable life I was wrapped in blew away. The months following were isolated and tearful, but also introspective and healing. I had waited a long time to remarry and took the commitment seriously, so this reversal was huge for me, yet even in the saddest times, I knew the good outweighed the bad. No one can steal history, and I will always have the experience of our many candlelight dinners, cooking together and slow dancing to our wedding play list, champagne corks popped into the oak forest, dreaming up interesting topics of conversation, lying under the starry night sky, our massive work effort together on Dan’s castle cottage, asking questions about items on his agenda (yes I do enjoy that!), picking fruit so I could make frozen smoothies for us on hot Ukiah afternoons… ETC.
All of that outweighs the harsh and fast end. Dan and I are working together through this period with love, if not courage, and no one needs to feel awkward around either of us. Plus I have the great outfit I made for our wedding, which will certainly not go to waste. Please indulge me, AVA, since you have shown prior interest in my clothes (May 7, 2014). Allow me to mention that should anyone throw a formal party, I have a French blue and ivory tailcoat, sheer under-dress, black and white lace bodice, ivory mini skirt, and historic 18th-century shoes.
So yes, the experience of our love outweighs the more recent story of Dan’s descent, which — although it shredded our marriage — is not mine to tell.
Finally, in your May 6 edition you say:
"On the other hand, who can begrudge the abandoned Ms. Sinnott, a nice lady fallen into narcissism's very cynosure?"
I can't let a sentence like that pass by without praise. It is not often that I am led to the dictionary, but I was, and it was worth it! A sentence both apt and brilliant, though really, narcissism’s very cynosure — the brightest star and center of attention even among a whole group of stars of their own shows — that might be a certain presidential candidate we see nightly on the news. I’ve been telling friends that I’m doing well. I have too much to do (books to write, pictures to paint) to mope. I think Dan was lucky to get me as a wife, and — when you think of the public crying and screaming that could occur – he was lucky to get me as an ex-wife. This chapter in life has produced reflection and personal growth, and will translate through art into beauty. Plus, with your phrase you have provided me a chapter heading.
And I certainly do intend to land on my new feet.
MENDOSPORTSPLUS EXPRESSES PERFECTLY EVERYONE'S FRUSTRATION
Wow. Mendo Voting Process. What A Joke!!
County 800 Number 'Disconnected, No Longer In Service.'
As we previously posted, the MSP household received their Mendocino County ballots in May and filled them out — one was sent down to St Mary's College, then picked up on graduation day, May 21st. Ballots were mailed out 29 days prior to election day.
But we didn't send ONE of them right away.
We held it until election day Tuesday (June 7) then went to the Elk Post office @ 11:00 am, watched as the clerk "date stamped" it and it was picked up @ approximately 2:00 pm.
We went to the county election website and checked to see if the ballot was received Wednesday night (nope) and again @ 9:30 am Thursday — nope. Then Thursday night @ 9:30 pm (no) and 7:00 am Friday — as well as repeatedly Saturday, Sunday & Monday. No dice.
No matter how many times we went to the county webpage to fill out the form to see if County Clerk/Recorder had received it — it kept coming back "The preceding entry was not found."
So, a bit worried, we called the 800 number listed on the county webpage @ 11:07 am today (800 992-5441) and put in extension 4371 as instructed and got the following message — it was "disconnected" and "no longer in service" !!
So we called the 707-234-6819 number and got a pleasant feminine voice that said, "County Clerk Record, can you hold?"
We wanted to say "What choice did we have?" but held our tongue.
After a short wait listening to MUZAK, we gave the clerk our name and she informed us our ballot had been received JUNE 7! The same day we mailed it.
We asked why the 800 number was disconnected — and why the website kept showing they had not received our ballot? She was unaware of the bad 800 number and said even she had to fill in her name "two or three times" on the county website before finding out her ballot was received.
Talk about dysfunctional…
So, here's an idea — don't post ANY results on election night. They are useless anyway.
The Wednesday June 8 early morning stats led the Fort Bragg Advocate to post an embarrassing, long-winded, editorial tirade on the "low voter turnout" when actually Fort Bragg had more than a 69% turnout.
We are constantly reminded by the County Clerk, "Per State law, we have 30 days to complete the canvass. The Statement of Vote, which breaks down results by precinct, will be available at that time."
And they'll take ALL of the time allotted to them — the public be damned!
On June 8 @ 2:24 am, the County released SOME misleading election results from 11,320 ballots or 24.19% of registered voters counted.
In actuality, this was the amount that remained to be reviewed, processed & counted:
15,567 Vote-By-Mail ballots to process and 958 Provisional ballots.
Of the outstanding ballots left to count, the approximate breakdown were:
1st Supervisorial District – 2,800 ballots
; 2nd Supervisorial District – 2,615
; 3rd Supervisorial District – 2,494 ballots
; 4th Supervisorial District – 4,456 ballots (of which 1,582 are for the City
of Fort Bragg)
; 5th Supervisorial District – 4,160 ballots.
So, a close Superior Court Judge race as well as "Measure U" in Fort Bragg — which was behind by 56 votes — are still in limbo.
Only in Mendocino County…
ABOUT A WEEK AGO, a young man, 24, was driving wild and fast, headed west on the Ukiah-Boonville Road. That's 16 miles of twists and turns, including a couple of precipitous hairpins. He was late for work at a local restaurant, or would be late if he didn't step on it. So he stepped on it all the way over the hill from Ukiah when, about six miles from Boonville he lost control of his car and over the side he plunged.
The report we saw said he'd tumbled fifty feet off the pavement, but it was more like 30, although he'd bounced off an embankment and a couple of trees and big rocks on his way down. It must have seemed like an endlessly long fall to the kid. He may even have entered the White Tunnel with smiling strangers beckoning to him at the Uh Oh I'm Dead end.
The car was absolutely crushed, and the kid would have been crushed too except he was drunk and miraculously placed in such a way that he was somehow protected from death. God looks after drunks and children, they say, and this guy was really drunk and not all that removed from childhood, so drunk he would read 2.7 on the Loop-O Meter.
So there he was way down in Soda Creek and not visible from the road. And he was upside down in the wreckage. And drunk, very drunk. Somehow though, he managed to extract himself from what should have been his steel coffin and started to climb out to the road. In the wrong direction. South towards Yorkville. Sober, it would have taken him a couple of days to get somewhere that wasn't one ridge after another of seldom-trod forest, several more streams, open meadow. Maybe an armed trespass grow. That's all there is back there.
At the top of the first ridge out, very, very drunk and with a big gash in his head, our hero re-oriented himself and struggled back to the Boonville-Ukiah Road where he was soon tended to by the angels from the Anderson Valley Ambulance and much less sympathetic officers of California Highway Patrol.
Major head trauma, an arduous hike in the wrong direction and he still blew a 2.7! And he was on his way TO work, not FROM work. It's not unknown for restaurant staffers to down a few after-hours belts, but you've got to be reasonably sober during work. We have to wonder if the kid had shown up for work at 2.7 what his employers would have done. 2.7 is staggering drunk for even experienced juicers. One assumes that you can't have a guy dropping dishes, bumping into tables and peering down the dresses of attractive customers.
The kid's vehicle was towed to Starr Automotive in Philo. Starr is a discreet tow service whose stories, if they ever told them, would make wonderful reading. Locals marveled that the young man had survived. His crushed car was briefly a sort of visual cautionary tale.
A few days later the boy's father turned up with two young people in tow. They were the drunk's younger brother and sister. Dad wanted them to see their brother's car, and if that sight didn't teach them not to drink and drive, nothing will.
LACK OF TRANSPARENCY ON WILLITS REMCO DEAL
by Linda Williams
Transparency in the conduct of the people’s business is a cornerstone of American government. Last month’s action by the Willits City Council shows the city has little commitment to this cornerstone, acting in secret to benefit one of its own.
This major decision about developing the Remco site was too important to have been handled this badly. A large segment of this community now believes “the fix was in.”
Last year Willits Environmental Remediation Trust, which owns the Remco site, decided to drop the Skunk Train from consideration and to sell to developers Mayor Bruce Burton and Ed Mitchell. The reason for this shift provided to the public differs from the information shared by the Skunk Train.
The council knew the “Skunk Train was out” and chose to keep it secret.
When “Presentation, Discussion and Possible Action to Approve a Proposed Plan to Use and Develop the Former Main Remco Hydraulics Site (Tentative)” appeared on May 6 as an agenda topic for the May 11 council meeting, it was reasonable to believe there would be some type of planning process, involving the community, in this major decision.
The details about an agenda topic are normally available when the agenda is posted on May 6 but this time, despite a personal visit and emails to the city manager, the backup information on this topic was not available until 1:48 p.m. on May 10.
That was when we learned the city staff was recommending the council immediately approve the property sale by WERT to Burton-Mitchell, and agree WERT would never have to dismantle the building and foundation. This included a letter from WERT counsel saying it “will not enter into a contract with the Skunk Train for the sale of the trust owned property.”
This information was not available on the city’s website.
There are some, including members of the Willits medical community, who believe for safety concerns that the Remco foundation and structure should be completely removed from the area before any new development is allowed.
But this rush to approve the development never provided them with an opportunity to weigh in and potentially refute or offer a counter view to the WERT “leave it standing” plan, saving Pepsi-Americas at least $1.5 million for the cleanup and potentially leaving the building as an eyesore for future generations to enjoy.
The city could have brought this issue forward for public comment and discussion at any time during the past year, especially after learning there was only one development proposal. But it chose to act in secrecy.
The decision by this council and administration to keep the public in the dark undermines the public’s trust and casts the decision — which should have been a very positive move forward for our community, into question.
The public has a right to expect its government to conduct its business in the open, except in Willits.
(Linda Williams is Editor of the Willits News. Courtesy, The Willits News)
A READER WRITES: “For minor stupid reasons I delayed putting the 2016 registration sticker on my car. (I think it was weather, but not sure.) When I remembered to do it, the registration envelope/sticker were nowhere to be found. So I went on line and found a way to order a replacement for $20 through the DMV’s website. A couple of weeks later, the replacement arrived. Again I delayed and again when I went to put it on I could not find the damn thing. Thinking the DMV might see me as some kind of license/registration scammer if I ordered another replacement, I decided to let it go and hope no cops would notice my missing current sticker. Within a few months I’d have next year’s sticker and maybe I could skate until then. I went out of my way to avoid state highways for several months hoping to avoid the CHP officers who are sticklers for stickers. Then last week driving on a county road I found myself being followed by a Deputy Sheriff. Soon enough he hit his lights and pulled me over.
“Your tags are VERY expired, sir,” the courteous deputy observed as he approached my driver’s window.
“I know. I lost it. And I lost the replacement,” I said sheepishly. “I was hoping to skate until next year.”
“I have to check just to make sure you’re not an escaped felon out of New York State,” the deputy sort-of joked. “You’re not an escaped felon from New York, are you?”
“Not New York, no,” I smilingly replied.
The deputy smiled and took my driver’s license and went back to his patrol car for the usual extended suspense-filled time lapse, after which I expected to get a lecture, a fine, and a fix-it ticket.
After a few minutes the deputy returned with my license and handed it back to me, saying, “You’re all paid up. That’s it. You can go.”
“What about a replacement sticker”? I asked.
“If another officer notices it’s expired, they’ll probably pull you over too,” he said. “Have a nice day.”
Compared to several bad experiences with insurance agents, AT&T, the County, and my landlord, I must say that our local deputies are the most courteous and efficient collection agents I’ve dealt with.”
CATCH OF THE DAY, June 14, 2016
Arriaga, Franks, Gomez
MARIC ARRIAGA, Ukiah. Failue to appear, probation revocation.
SCOTT FRANKS, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
SALVADOR GOMEZ, Elk. DUI, probation revocation.
Kaaihue, Martin, Olea, Ramirez
JANIE KAAIHUE, Ukiah. Drunk in public. (Frequent Flyer)
BRYAN MARTIN, Ukiah. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, failure to appear, probation revocation.
JORGE OLEA, Ukiah. Honey oil extraction.
LORENZO RAMIREZ, Willits. DUI.
Schmid, Schoenahl, Stidham
NICHOLAS SCHMID, Ukiah. Domestic battery.
ROGER SCHOENAHL, Ukiah. Probation revocation. (Frequent Flyer)
NEVIA STIDHAM, Ukiah. Drunk in public.
WHITEWATER IN A NUTSHELL: Bill Clinton was elected governor of Arkansas in 1978. The Clintons and the McDougals immediately bought land in the Ozarks for $203,000 with mostly borrowed funds and called it Whitewater. The Clintons got 50% interest with no cash down. The 203-acre plot known as Whitewater was 50 miles from the nearest grocery store. The Washington Post later reported that many of the lot purchasers, most of them retirees from farther south, “put up houses or cabins, others slept in vans or tents, hoping to be able to live off the land the way the Clintons marketed it.” More than half of the purchasers would lose their plots thanks to the sleazy form of high interest financing used which, among other provisions, declared them in default if they were just one day late on the payments. The Clintons would then sell the repossessed lots to the next victim. They made huge amounts of money off of the people they claimed to be political champions of. All of it legal, as certified legal by Special Prosecutor Ken Starr. All of it defended by them and their liberal supporters as a perfectly legitimate way to make money and, “Oh poor us, the Republicans are persecuting us for a legal arrangement.” Is anyone surprised that they became friends with all the big Wall Street wheeler-dealers? Whitewater is emblematic of the Clintons and the Wall Street model of ripping off ordinary people by making low-down dirty schemes perfectly legal and unpunishable by any legal means. (Obama too, but at least he didn’t have anything to do with Whitewater.) And Hillary calls Trump a fraud?
WHY ARE LAWMAKERS SO AFRAID TO LEGALIZE MARIJUANA?
by Jesse Ventura
There are many legal activities we can partake in that aren’t exactly healthy decisions, but our government has no say in how frequently we do them or if we’re doing them to excess.
For instance, as Americans, we can buy and consume as much alcohol as we want, we can smoke as many cigarettes as we want, and we can eat as much fast food as we want. As an American citizen, you have the right to literally drink, smoke, and eat yourself to death, but when it comes to consuming marijuana, that’s off the table, even though it is impossible to die from smoking pot to excess.
Here’s the way I see cannabis legalization: Every person on the planet should be allowed the freedom to use his or her judgment when it comes to what’s best for his or her life and well-being, as long as it doesn’t infringe on anyone else’s rights. If you want to go into cardiac arrest from eating five Big Macs three times a day, then that’s your prerogative. If you want to use marijuana to alleviate a migraine headache, be my guest.
Today, there are a couple dozen states (+D.C.) that have legalized medical marijuana in some way. Ohio just joined that list last month. And on election day (which is Tuesday, Nov. 8), medical marijuana and recreational marijuana will be on the ballot in several states. However, even if your state has legalized medical and recreational marijuana, there are still huge restrictions on every aspect of “legalization.”
Take Colorado for instance. If you’re a Colorado resident, you can buy up to 1 ounce of marijuana at one time, but if you’re visiting from another state, you can only purchase up to one-quarter of an ounce at a time. Name one other legal substance that is regulated in this manner. If I can buy as many cigarettes as I want, then why, in a state like Colorado where marijuana is legal, can I not empty my bank account in a retail marijuana shop if that’s what I want to do?
Think about alcohol for a minute. It’s completely legal to buy as much of it as you want. If you drink too much, it can cause liver damage, addiction, even death. According to the CDC, in 2014 alone, more Americans died from alcohol-induced causes (30,722) than from overdoses of prescription painkillers and heroin combined (28,647). So, there were more alcohol related deaths in 2014 than heroin related deaths (and we keep hearing that there’s a national heroin epidemic in this country), yet I am not limited to the amount of alcohol I can purchase.
If it’s such a deadly substance, then shouldn’t it be regulated more? Could you imagine if the government did such a thing? Let’s limit the amount of beer to a six-pack per person per day and see how much rioting there’d be in the streets! Look, if a substance is legal to purchase, then I should be allowed to purchase as much of it as I so desire. To me, that’s the definition of a legal substance.
Ohio’s recent “legalization” of medical marijuana is by far the most pathetic I’ve seen thus far. Ohio’s House Bill 523 (which was passed on May 26), only legalizes non-smokeable marijuana. And, when it comes to drug tests at work, medical marijuana patients have no protection. They can be fired for violating a “drug-free workplace policy” if marijuana is found in their systems during a drug screening (which also would make them ineligible for unemployment benefits).
Hypothetically, as an approved medical marijuana patient in Ohio, I can take a medication that can drastically help my condition and then lose my job, or I can go on suffering and keep my job and therefore be able to support my family. See how House Bill 523 doesn’t actually legalize anything?
Lawmakers estimate it will take anywhere between two months and two years to set up and implement all the asinine rules associated with this bill. So when the media reported that Ohio legalized marijuana, that means Ohio residents won’t actually be able to get medical marijuana cards or legally ingest it until possibly two years from now!
I’d like to know what lawmakers are so afraid of when it comes to actually legalizing marijuana. What are the side effects of this medication? Patients feel better. It helps people manage chronic pain without addiction or death. We just lost Prince, one of the greatest musical icons of my home state of Minnesota, due to prescription pill overdose. If his doctor prescribed him marijuana, I believe he would still be with us today. And as a “recreational” substance, name me one person who smokes weed and then wakes up the next day not remembering committing violent or aggressive acts, which is so typically associated with alcohol use.
I’m a purist. If a substance is legal, it should be legal. Yes, let’s tax it, let’s make money off of it, but let’s not regulate it to the point where people live in fear of having too much of this “legal” substance on them at a given moment. When people buy cigarettes, they don’t worry if they have too many packs in the trunk of their car, yet there is not one medical benefit of smoking cigarettes. It’s common knowledge that cigarettes slowly kill you. So addictive substances that kill people: perfectly legal. A medical substance that has proven time and time again to have practically zero side effects and can actually help people: not fully legalized, and many Americans risk going to jail if they use it.
On Election Day, I’m voting for people who will actually legalize this incredible plant. We don’t know what’s in our future or what’s in our children’s futures. Our loved ones could be diagnosed with cancer, Huntington’s, ALS, epilepsy, glaucoma, Crohn’s disease, PTSD, Parkinson’s, fibromyalgia or any number of illnesses that cannabis treats. It’s in all of our best interests to make cannabis legal for every American.
(Jesse Ventura, the former governor of Minnesota and the author of “Jesse Ventura’s Marijuana Manifesto” (Sept. 6 2016). He was a Navy SEAL and is a Vietnam veteran. He was also a professional wrestler from 1975 to 1986 under the ring name Jesse “The Body” Ventura. Follow him on Twitter @GovJVentura.)
AN IMAGINARY PHONECALL: NRA CALLING
(A fantasy by an anonymous writer who used to be a member of the NRA)
Phone rings: Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrng.
“Hullo. Who's calling please?”
“Good afternoon Sir, my name is Mr. Jackson and I'm calling on behalf of The National Rifle Association. Is this Mr. B?”
“Is this some kind of sick joke? Mr. B was murdered In an Orlando nightclub a few days ago by some gun-wielding lunatic.”
“(Caller gasps and stammers) I'm terribly sorry sir, I…, I had no idea. I'm terribly sorry...
“This is the third such phone call the family has received in recent days. We've contacted the FBI. If they get in touch with you, you can explain your sense of humor to them.”
MARCO ON WHERE THE BEES WENT
On 6/14/2016 2:35 PM, BC wrote: Why are 2.5M dead bees touring the country?
* * *
Bernie (BC McDonald), I read that a great deal of the trouble with bees turned out to be not pesticides nor rock music nor cell phones but beekeepers themselves, who all the while they've been complaining about those other things, were buying and shipping queens that were not tested properly for bee diseases and mites, trying to save a few dollars and in the process broadcasting their own bee doom. And why are the Salmon in the Albion near extinction? That's a good question. Why do you think they are?
IF ONLY YOUR BODY COULD SPEAK TO YOUR MIND
by Ralph Nader
For thousands of years humans have defended themselves from harm by others. But many have proceeded to regularly harm themselves. They have actively searched for substances to ingest, inhale, inject and apply which may give them some immediate relief but damage or destroy their lives over time.
Why do these humans so beat up on their own bodies? Obviously, they know that damaging behaviors have serious consequences, both immediately and in the long run. Why have health care professionals had such a hard time convincing people “to do no harm” to themselves? The persistence of partial self-immolation is unremitting.
What’s different about recent centuries from prior millennia is that addiction, masochism, slow-motion suicide have become big business. Now there are huge profits to be made in seducing, tempting or deceiving people at all ages to spend money to harm themselves.
The addictive industries — like tobacco, legal and illegal drugs, gambling, and excessive alcohol — are marketed with remarkably proficient psychological expertise ranging from the overt to the more subtle subliminal persuasions.
These vendors like to start with their victims (a.k.a. consumers) when they are young. The tobacco industry has known this for generations. Hook ‘em when they’re 10 or 12 and you’ll have them for life. So has the junk fast food business that has perfected ways to turn young tongues against young brains.
As former FDA Commissioner, Dr. David Kessler, has written, including about himself, junk food has clear biologically addictive impacts that drive cravings for more of the same. Obesity levels worldwide are hitting 13% and skyrocketing, reaching over 30% of adults in the U.S. or triple the level of 40 years ago.
The injurious consequences of marketing self-harm are the widely known diseases and traumas we read about — heart trouble, diabetes, cancer, lung and liver diseases and more. Those are the inventories for another big business that diagnoses and treats with varying degrees of competence tens of millions of patients. The side effects of many treatments — hospital induced infections, bad medicines and surgeries — create more business for more treatments.
There is, of course, a wellness industry as well, though it doesn’t come close to the trillions of dollars of the addictive industries and their profitable collateral damage. Preventative health care — good diets, exercise, smoking cessation, drinking alcohol in moderation, adequate rest — is growing in acceptance. Pollution prevention, safer products and services are also beneficial.
Somehow the pro-health forces always seem to be confronted with new hazards coming on fast. The highly addictive opioid epidemic — for supposed pain relief — is now taking almost as many lives as those lost on the highways — over 30,000 last year. The New York Times reports fentanyl, the pain reliever that took the life of Prince, is 30 times more powerful than heroin. Self-medication is getting easier and rising casualties mark this trend.
So does anyone have any ideas? With all the apps, websites and blogs, is there any effective answer to the question of countering self-harm that has plagued Humankind forever? Would it be focused family upbringing? Sure. But obviously that leaves out many people who do not have that good fortune.
Oh, if only the vulnerable livers, kidneys, hearts, intestines, stomachs, cardiovascular systems, lungs, teeth, ears and eyes could directly speak and admonish the recklessness of self-destructive practices coming from the brain!
(Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!)
WHICH OF OUR POLITICAL LEADERS have the courage to lead the revolt against gun apathy? Some political figures, like presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, have sought to turn the discussion to foreign policy, and the need to combat ISIS. Fighting the terrorist group is a good idea in its own right, just as providing better mental health services — another common promise politicians make to evade questions about guns — would make sense anyway. But neither will cure America of the gun violence that reaches into churches, movie theaters, schools, offices, and now nightclubs. There is no shortcut: If we want fewer gun victims, we need fewer guns.
— Boston Globe Editorial
Photo by Annie Kalantarian
IMPORTANT RETIREMENT BOARD MEETING
One of the most important meetings of Retirement Board that controls Mendocino County’s Pension Fund will be next Wednesday. Reform Our County Coalition needs a strong turnout of concerned citizens at this meeting to oppose two major actions the Retirement Board proposes to take.
Retirement Board Meeting
625-B Kings Court, Ukiah, 8:30 AM
There are two important items on the agenda – unfortunately one is at the beginning of the meeting and the other at the end.
Around 8:45 — 2016 Asset/Liability Study including Assumed Rate of Investment Profits – Callan Associates (Pension Fund’s Investment Advisors)
Probably around 10:30 – Proposed Fiscal Year Retirement Association Budget
Twenty one California counties have independent County Pension Funds instead of participating in CalPERS. Our County is the most damaged by unfunded pension debt of those 21. Mendocino County was just forced to tell us that unlike what they reported in their June 2014 audit – that they had $80 million more assets than debts – they actually owed $56 million more debt than the value of their assets. We are the most “upside down” of these 21 counties. We are very significantly “Balance Sheet Insolvent”.
No group is more responsible for imposing this debt on the People of our County than the independent Retirement Board that controls the Pension Fund. Two items on their agenda for their meetings this Wednesday show they are going to continue to impose more and more debt on the People –to whom they are not accountable.
Assumed Rate Of Return – once again their investment advisors will tell them they have a 50-50 chance of earning 6.6% returns on their investments over the next 10 years – and once again the Retirement Board will refuse to lower its assumed return from 7.25%. If the Pension Fund earns less than its assumed return the County has to make up the difference. We the People are GUARANTEEING they will earn 7.25%. But there’s a “dirty little secret”. We’re not guaranteeing they’ll earn that on the money they have to invest – about $425 million. We’re guaranteeing they will earn that much on the money THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO HAVE to be fully funded — $620 million!
They will review their interim financial statements through April – 10 months of their fiscal year (July through June). In those 10 months they’ve LOST $10 MILLION. But We the People are guaranteeing they’ll make $37 million. The Pension Fund has imposed another nearly $50 million of debt on the People. We’re going to have to pay 7.25% interest on that debt over the next 18 years ON TOP of the debt that already exists. That will push the total we have to pay to eliminate unfunded pension debt created to date to over $700 million!!! Every pension funding plan adopted by the Retirement Board assured us this debt wouldn’t exist!
The reason the retirement board maintains its assumed rate of return too high is so employees can pay less towards their future pensions than their fair share and the county will be able to pay higher salaries and benefits next year.
Six of the 9 Retirement Directors are County employees or retirees – including two elected officials.
There’s nothing stopping them from lowering the assumed rate of return. Their lack of responsible action is in fact a decision they will make.
Next Years Pension Fund Expense Budget – Over the past decade the Retirement Board has increased its administrative and investment management expenses an average of about 30% a year. Our County’s local tax income increased a total of 40% over that decade. The Pension Fund’s expenses increased 200% — five times faster. The Retirement Board’s proposed budget would increase the Pension Fund’s expenses another 30% for the next fiscal year. They’ll vote on that proposed agenda this Wednesday.
Every dime of Pension Fund expense increases our County’s debt. Employees and retirees don’t pay a dime.
The reason the Retirement Board increases its budget 30% year after year is employees and retirees don’t have to pay it – You the People pay it!
The Retirement Board Needs To See Accountability Starting To Be Imposed By The People — For decades the Retirement Board imposed hundreds of millions of debt on the People of Mendocino County and never heard a peep of objection. It isn’t going to be easy to solve the problems that created this debt and prevent the utter bankruptcy of our County. But it’s absolutely necessary for this Board to know that more and more people from across our County and the political spectrum are getting more and more angry about this irresponsible debt that’s been imposed on the next generation. They need to know they are being watched!
If you can – please attend even if you just sit there and stare them in the eye. Believe me – they aren’t used to having “normal” citizens in the room when they make these decisions – and it makes a huge difference.
On behalf of our ROCC (Reform Our County Coalition) Steering Committee – thanks for your concern about our County
John Dickerson, Ukiah
PS – you can get the background information about these items from the Retirement Board’s agenda package here …
They are agenda item 4, item 5, and item 7.
Here’s more information if you’d like it …
Most Damaged Of 21 Ca. Counties W/County Pension Funds
Keep this in mind as you read about these two very important agenda items on this week’s Retirement Board agenda.
Major reforms in how local and state governments report their pension finances were imposed this year. California counties had to conform to these new rules in their most recent audited annual statements for June 30, 2015. Governments had to list unfunded pensions owed to their Pension Fund as “bona fide” debt for the first time. They also had to “adjust” the value of their Net Assets (Net Worth) as of the end of the previous fiscal year (June 2014) to show what it would have been if the new rules had been in effect in the past.
For all practical purposes Mendocino County’s unfunded pension debt alone (Pension Bonds and the Net Pension Liability owed to the Pension Fund) completely wiped out the value of our County’s assets. But that’s not the only debt our County owes.
The second graph shows the adjusted Net Worth of these 21 counties as of June 2014 including other types of debt.
Our County originally reported in its 2014 audit it had $80 million more assets than debt. But when they were forced to report the very real debt they owed to the Pension Fund they had to tell us that – oops – they really owed $56 million more debt than the value of its assets. For every $1 of assets we owed $1.30.
How does it feel for us to be the most indebted California county of the 21counties with County Pension Funds because of the utter mismanagement of our County’s pensions?
There’s plenty of blame to go around – but no group is more responsible for this debt than the independent Retirement Board that controls our County’s Pension Fund. They are not accountable to the People of our County – but they made us the most indebted of these 21 counties!!!
And here’s a couple of ways they’re going to continue driving up deeper and deeper into the mud.
2016 Asset/Liability Study (Including Projected Return On Investment)
Callan Associates is the investment advisor for the Retirement Board. Unlike other advisors hired by the Board I’ve always found their analysis and advice to be quite good. Unfortunately the Retirement Board chose to not adopt one of their most important findings – their expected rate of return on investment for the next 10 years.
Callan reports they believe the Pension Fund’s expected return for the next 10 years is 6.6%. Their analysis is that there’s a 50% chance it could be higher and a 50% chance it could be lower. This 6.6% expected rate is the same they reported last year and I believe the year before.
However, the Retirement Board chose to follow the advice of their actuaries – Segal Consulting – and adopted the pension funding planningassumption that the Pension Fund will earn an average of 7.25%.
This will be a major discussion point at this upcoming meeting.
What Happens If The Pension Fund Earns Less Than Its Target?
Both the County and its employees pay an amount to the Pension Fund each year called the “Normal Contribution”. That’s how much the actuary says needs to be paid into the Fund so that – with investment profits – the part of future pension payments being earned that year will be paid.
But if a big deficit develops in the Pension Fund so that part of future pensions that have already been earned won’t be paid even if everything works according to plan in the future – then ONLY the County is obligated to pay extra to eliminate unfunded pensions. Employees and retirees have no such obligation.
Over the past 20 years the Retirement Board achieved only about 55% of their self-proclaimed funding requirements – the rest was imposed on the County – which really means We the People – as long-term interest bearing debt.
Appalling Conflict of Interest
Six of the 9 people on the Retirement Board are either County employees or retirees – including 2 elected County officials. If the Retirement Board lowered the assumed return down to 6.6% County employees would immediately pay more towards their future pensions. The County would also pay more which – among other things – would force lower salaries and other benefits.
Retirees get their pensions no matter what the Pension Fund’s finances may be. So they don’t seem to have any risk if the Fund earns less – the County is on the hook to make it up.
$50 Million More Debt This Year Because Failure to Achieve Assumed Return
The Retirement Board receives a monthly financial statement (unaudited – interim). They will review the reports for the 10 months through April 30, 2016 (fiscal year is July through following June). It shows that in those 10 months the Pension Fund LOST $10.5 MILLION. If they had earned their assumed 7.25% they’d have a profit of roughly $26.5 Million. So far this year they are $37 MILLION BELOW THEIR TARGET RETURN based on the assets they have to invest.
But there’s a “dirty” little secret very few people understand – the County doesn’t guarantee the Pension Fund will earn its assumed return based on the assets it actually has to invest. The County guarantees the return they should get AS IF THEY WERE FULLY FUNDED. That is – if they had as much money they need today so that if all assumptions about the future come true all the pensions already earned in the past will be paid. They should have about $620 million today. So We the People are guaranteeing the Pension Fund will earn 7.25% of the $620 million they are supposed to have – not the $426 million they have to invest.
So – you and I and the rest of the People of Mendocino County are GUARANTEEING the PENSION FUND WILL EARN ABOUT $47 MILLION. That means that if the Pension Fund were to end up with today’s loss of $10.5 million at the end of this month — We the People will owe another $57 MILLION – and will have to pay 7.25% INTEREST on that debt.
The Retirement Board needs to hear from concerned citizens that the Board is purposefully imposing more and more debt on the people of our county by maintaining a “way-too-high” assumed rate of return – and that is wrong.
The Retirement Association’s operating budget for the fiscal year starting July 1 is on the agenda and will probably be passed. Every dime of expense increases the County’s Unfunded Pension Debt.
This shows the growth of their actual expenses from the fiscal years ending June 2005 through June 2015, with the Retirement Association’s projected actual for 2016 (based on actual results through April) and its proposed budget for the fiscal year starting July 1 that ends June 2017.
Investment Expenses are fees paid to investment managers, to the investment advisors (Callan) and to the actuaries (Segal). Administrative Expenses are the cost of the Retirement Association’s staff, office, computer systems, etc.
The Pension Fund’s expenses have grown about 30% a year since 2005.
From 2005 through 2015 the County’s local tax income grew a little more than 40%. The Pension Fund’s Expenses grew five times faster – over 200%.
The Retirement Administrator who works for the Retirement Board is proposing another 30% increase in expenses for 2017 over their projected actual expenses for 2016.
And – the Pension Fund is on track to impose another $50 million or more unfunded pension debt on the County by the end of this month. And they will also impose 7.25% interest on that debt.
The Retirement Board needs to hear from you that it’s purposefully imposing more and more debt on the people of our county by its incredible outlandish wasteful expenses – and that is wrong – and the People are getting damn tired of it.
GREENWASHING EXTINCTION 2016: THE CLEAR LINKS BETWEEN DELTA TUNNELS PLAN AND MLPA INITIATIVE
by Dan Bacher
One of the least discussed issues in California environmental politics – and one of the most crucial to understanding Jerry Brown’s Delta Tunnels plan — is the clear connection between the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative and the California WaterFix, formerly called the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP).
The privately-funded MLPA Initiative and the California WaterFix to build the peripheral tunnels at first may appear to be entirely different processes.
The MLPA Initiative, a process begun in 2004 under the Schwarzenegger administration, purported to create a network of "marine protected areas" along the California coast. The network was supposedly completed on December 19, 2012 with the imposition of widely-contested "marine protected areas" along the North Coast.
On the other hand, the Bay Delta Conservation Plan process began under the Bush and Schwarzenegger administrations to achieve the so-called "co-equal goals" of water supply reliability and Delta ecosystem restoration. In 2015, the state and federal governments divided the BDCP into two projects, the California WaterFix, the conveyance component and the California EcoRestore, the habitat “restoration” component.
But in spite of some superficial differences, the two processes are united by their leadership, funding, greenwashing goals, racism and denial of tribal rights, junk science and numerous conflicts of interest. When people educate themselves on the links between the two processes, I believe they can more effectively wage a successful campaign against the Delta Tunnels and to restore our imperiled salmon and San Francisco Bay-Delta fisheries.
Mike Carpenter, a sea urchin diver and organizer of a fundraiser for the California Fisheries Coalition in Albion on the Mendocino coast, made the vital connection between the MLPA Initiative and Schwarzenegger's campaign to build a peripheral canal back in 2009 when the battle against the creation of questionable "marine protected areas" on the North Coast was amping up.
Carpenter emphasized that the MLPA Initiative was just a "cover-up" for the Governor's plans to build a peripheral canal or tunnel around the California Delta, the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas, through the Delta Vision and Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) process. Carpenter's words have proven very prophetic, considering what has happened since that time.
How are the Delta Tunnels plan and MLPA process linked by leadership, funding, conflicts of interest, greenwashing goals, racism and denial of tribal rights, and junk science?
- Leadership: Phil Isenberg, a former Sacramento Mayor and Assemblyman, chaired the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force to create faux "marine protected areas" on the Central Coast from 2004 to 2007. Isenberg then went on to chair the Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force that advocated building a peripheral canal or tunnel.
After that process was finished, he went on to chair the Delta Stewardship Council created under the water policy/water bond legislative package of 2009. He recently retired from the Council.
Under his leadership, the Council released a Delta Plan that creates a clear path to the construction of the Delta Tunnels. The deeply-flawed plan has been contested in by 7 lawsuits from a diverse array of water contractors, agribusiness interests, urban water agencies, environmentalists, Indian Tribes and fishing groups.
Likewise, John Laird, former State Senator and the current Natural Resources Secretary, is the key cheerleader for both the MLPA Initiative and the Delta Tunnels. He oversaw the completion of the faux "marine protected areas" for both the South Coast in January 2012 and the North Coast on December 2012, in spite of overwhelming opposition by fishermen, Tribal leaders and grassroots environmentalists.
- Funding: The Resources Legacy Fund Foundation and David and Lucille Packard Foundation both funded the MLPA Initiative, along with giving millions of dollars to the "environmental" NGOs that supported both the MLPA and BDCP processes. (www.californiaprogressreport.com/...)
Five non-profits donated a total of $20 million for the creation of "marine protected areas" under the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative. The Packard Foundation, the biggest contributor to the widely-criticized process, contributed $8.2 million to the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation to fund MLPA hearings.
The Packard Foundation also helped fund, along with the Stephen Bechtel Foundation, several PPIC reports advocating the construction of the Delta Tunnels as the "solution" to California's water problems and ecosystem restoration.
- Conflicts of Interest: The Blue Ribbon Task Forces to create “marine protected areas” under the MLPA Initiative were filled with individuals with numerous conflicts of interest, including a big oil lobbyist, a marina corporation executive and a coastal real estate developer.
Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the president of the Western States Petroleum Association and a relentless advocate for offshore oil drilling, fracking, the Keystone XL Pipeline and the weakening of environmental laws, chaired the South Coast MLPA Blue Ribbon Task that developed the MPAs that went into effect in Southern California waters on January 1, 2012. She also served on the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Forces for the North Coast, North Central Coast and Central Coast.
While Reheis-Boyd served on the task forces to "protect" the ocean, the same oil industry that the "marine guardian" represents was conducting environmentally destructive hydraulic fracturing (fracking) operations off the Southern California coast. Documents recently obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and media investigations by Associated Press and truthout.org reveal that the ocean has been fracked at least 203 times in the past 20 years, including the period from 2004 to 2012 that Reheis-Boyd served as a "marine guardian.”
In the case of the BDCP/California WaterFix, the proverbial fox was also in charge of the hen house. Governor Jerry Brown appointed Laura King Moon of Woodland, a lobbyist for the state’s water exporters, as chief deputy director of the California Department of Water Resources (DWR). (www.indybay.org/...)
Moon had been a project manager for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan since 2011 while “on loan” from the State Water Contractors, an association of 27 public agencies from Northern, Central and Southern California that purchase water under contract from the California State Water Project. Moon passed away from cancer last year.
DWR also hired Susan Ramos, Deputy General Manager of the Westlands Water District, "on loan" from the district to serve as "a liaison between all relevant parties" surrounding the Delta Habitat Conservation and Conveyance Program (DHCCP) and provide "technical and strategic assistance" to DWR. (www.indybay.org/...)
Documents obtained by this reporter under the California Public Records Act revealed that Ramos was hired in an "inter-jurisdictional personal exchange agreement" between the DWR and Westlands from November 15, 2009 through December 31, 2010. The contract was extended to run through December 31, 2011 and again to continue through December 31, 2012.
- Greenwashing Goals: Desperately needed actions to restore our ocean, bay and Delta waters have been substituted under the MLPA Initiative with the imposition of more fishing closures on some of the most heavily regulated ocean waters on the planet to further the Governor's "green" facade.
The alleged "marine reserves" created under the MLPA scam fail to protect the ocean from fracking, oil drilling, pollution, military testing, wind and wave energy projects and all human impacts on the ocean than fishing and gathering — at a time when the ocean is under assault by the oil industry, corporate polluters and ocean industrialists.
The greenwashing that occurred under this process become crystal clear during the Refugio Oil Spill of May 2015 when a badly corroded pipeline operated by the Plains All American Pipeline Company burst, fouling more than 9 miles of pristine coastline. (www.dailykos.com/...)
Not mentioned in the superficial coverage of the spill by the mainstream media and most of the “alternative media” is the alarming fact that Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the head of the same oil industry trade association that lobbies for the Plains All American Pipeline corporation, whose pipeline rupture caused the massive oil spill, is the very same person who chaired the panel that created the so-called "marine protected areas" that were fouled by the spill.
"Plains All American, the owner of the pipeline, is a member of the Western States Petroleum Association," proclaimed Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), in her blogpost responding to the spill last year.
In the case of the Delta Vision and BDCP/California Water Fix processes, the dire need to restore the Delta by decreasing water exports and retiring drainage impaired land on the San Joaquin Valley's west side has been substituted with plans to build twin tunnels and increase water exports to corporate agribusiness, developers and oil companies while taking Delta family farms out of production under the guise of “habitat restoration.”
Meanwhile, California’s fish populations are in a historic crisis. The population of Delta Smelt plummeted to a new low in the annual spring survey conducted by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) as the endangered fish moves closer to the abyss of extinction. The 2016 Spring Kodiak Trawl (SKT) index, a relative measure of abundance, is 1.8, a decrease from the 2015 index (13.8) and is the lowest index on record. Only thirteen adult Delta Smelt were collected at 8 stations contributing to the index in 2016.
Ironically, Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Allliance (CSPA) pointed out that the State Water Resources Board is now preparing for upcoming hearings on the petitions by the Department of Water Resources and Bureau of Reclamation to change their points of diversion in order to proceed with the construction of Governor Jerry Brown’s Delta Tunnels.
“This plan will deprive the Delta smelt of their habitat by exporting vast quantities of water from the Sacramento River,” said Jennings. “If the State Board approves the petition, it will only exacerbate things enormously for the Delta smelt and other fish species.”
The Delta Tunnels plan will not only hasten the extinction of Delta smelt, but it will also drive longfin smelt, winter-run Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, green sturgeon and other fish species closer and closer to extinction, according to Delta advocates and scientific experts. The California Water Fix will also imperil the salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers, since water from the Trinity, the largest tributary of the Klamath, is diverted to the Sacramento River watershed through a tunnel in the Trinity Mountains from Trinity Lake to Whiskeytown Reservoir.
- Racism and denial of tribal rights: Tribal and environmental justice communities in both processes have been excluded in a classic example of environmental racism.
The institutional racism of the MLPA process was demonstrated when the Yurok Tribe was banned from harvesting abalone, mussels and seaweed off their traditional areas off the False Klamath and Reading Rock as they have done for thousands of years under the "marine protected areas" that went into effect off the coast last December.
And in spite of direct action protests and outrage by Tribal members, fishermen and grassroots environmentalists over the flawed Initiative, the MLPA Initiative still fails to recognize tribal gathering rights in no take "State Marine Reserves," allowing tribal gathering only in "State Marine Conservation Areas" where some fishing and gathering is already allowed.
Likewise, the Bay Delta Conservation Plan/California WaterFix has been developed without the required consent from California Tribes including the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, as required under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. In fact, the first formal informational meeting for California Tribes on the BDCP was held on December 10, 2013, in Sacramento — the day after the EIR/EIS for the tunnel plan was released!
That is hardly "government-to-government" consultation, as required under state, federal and international law.
“There is no precedent for the killing of an estuary of this size, so how could any study be trusted to protect the Delta for salmon and other fish?" asked Caleen Sisk, Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. "How can they even know what the effects will be? The end of salmon would also mean the end of Winnemem, so the BDCP is a threat to our very existence as indigenous people.”
This environmental injustice extends to non-English speakers in California impacted by both processes. MLPA Initiative officials failed to translate the process documents into Spanish and other languagues, in spite of the fact that coastal communities impacted by the creation of alleged “marine protected areas” included large numbers of non-English speakers.
Likewise, Restore the Delta (RTD) and environmental justice advocates charged the Brown Administration with violation of the civil rights of more than 600,000 non-English speakers in the Delta by its agencies' failure to provide for “meaningful access to and participation” in the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) public comment period.
"More than 600,000 Delta residents alone don't speak English, and are being shut out of the public comment process on this massive project that would affect them deeply," said Esperanza Vielma, executive director of Café Coop & Environmental Justice Representative, San Joaquin County/San Joaquin Valley Air Quality Board. "The Brown Administration is violating the civil rights of Limited English speaking Californians in its rush to build tunnels to serve the top 1% of industrial agriculture." (www.dailykos.com/...)
- Junk Science: Both the MLPA Initiative and BDCP/California Water Fix fiasco have relied on false assumptions and flawed data with little or no basis in natural science to advance their goals and objectives.
In the case of the MLPA Initiative, the Yurok Tribe said it attempted on numerous occasions to address the scientific inadequacies with the MLPA science developed under the Schwarzenegger administration by adding "more robust protocols" into the equation, but was denied every time.
The Northern California Tribal Chairman's Association, including the Chairs of the Elk Valley Rancheria, Hoopa Valley Tribe, Karuk Tribe, Smith River Rancheria, Trinidad Rancheria, and Yurok Tribe, documented in a letter how the science behind the MLPA Initiative developed by Schwarzenegger's Science Advisory Team is "incomplete and terminally flawed." (yubanet.com/...)
Frankie Joe Myers, Yurok Tribal member and Coastal Justice Coalition activist, exposed the refusal to incorporate Tribal science that underlies the "science" of the MLPA process on the day of the historic direct action protest by a coalition of over 50 Tribes and their allies in Fort Bragg in July 2010.
“The whole process is inherently flawed by institutionalized racism," said Myers. "It doesn't recognize Tribes as political entities, or Tribal biologists as legitimate scientists." (klamathjustice.blogspot.com/...)
To make things even worse, a federal judge in May 2014 sentenced Ron LeValley of Mad River Biologists, the former co-chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Science Advisory Team for the North Coast, to a 10 month federal prison sentence for his role in a conspiracy to embezzle over $852,000 in federal funds from the Yurok Tribe!
LeValley pleaded guilty to a single federal charge of conspiracy to commit embezzlement and theft from an Indian Tribal Organization (18U.S.C §§ 371 and 1163) in the complex scheme in collaboration with former Yurok Forestry Director Roland Raymond. According to court documents, LeValley submitted more than 75 false invoices between 2007 and 2010 in payment for “work” on northern spotted owl surveys that was never performed. The link to the indictment is available at: noyonews.net/....
The BDCP/California WaterFix “science” is also a sham. For example, on July 18, 2013 scientists from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Marine Fisheries Service exposed the hollowness of Secretary John Laird and other state officials that the BDCP is based on "science." This was done after the federal agencies had already made "red flag" comments stating that the completion of the tunnel plan could hasten the extinction of Sacramento River Chinook salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt and other fish species.
The federal scientists provided the California Department of Water Resources and the environmental consultants with 44 pages of comments highly critical of the Consultant Second Administrative Draft EIR/EISDraft, released on May 10, 2013. The agencies found, among other things, that the draft environmental documents were “biased,” “insufficient," "confusing," and "very subjective." (baydeltaconservationplan.com/...)
Then in August 2014 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a scathing 43-page comment letter slamming the Bay Delta Conservation Plan’s draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS).
The EPA diagnosis revealed that operating the proposed conveyance facilities “would contribute to increased and persistent violations of water quality standards in the Delta, set under the Clean Water Act,” and that the tunnels “would not protect beneficial uses for aquatic life, thereby violating the Clean Water Act." (www.dailykos.com/...)
Bob Wright, the lawyer for Friends of the River, summed up the complete lack of science that the BDCP/California Water Fix is based upon when he said, "The plan is to grab the water and in the process take it away from designated critical habitat for several already endangered and threatened species of fish including Sacramento River Winter-Run and Central Valley Spring-Run Chinook Salmon and drive them into extinction. That is against the law because federal agencies are prohibited from doing that by the Endangered Species Act," said Wright.
Unjust Implementation of MLPA Initiative Continues
The MLPA Initiative's unjust implementation continues to forge ahead, in spite of opposition by anglers, conservationists and public trust advocates. On April 13, the California Fish and Game Commission moved forward with a controversial final Marine Protected Area “Master Plan” that postpones environmental assessments from every 5 years, as originally promised, to every 10 years. (fishsniffer.com/...)
The three members of the commission at the time – President Eric Sklar, Vice President Jacque Hostler-Carmesin, and Member Anthony C. Williams – voted unanimously to approve the plan at its June meeting. Since the April meeting the Governor has appointed two new Commissioners, Russell Burns of Napa, and Peter Silva, of Chula Vista. It’s no surprise that both have worked for organizations backing the Delta Tunnels.
Burns is the business manager at Operating Engineers Local Union 3, a strong supporter of the California Water Fix, since 2006. Silva served as senior policy advisor at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, one of the key organizations pushing the Governor’s Delta Tunnels Plan, from 2005 to 2009
We can see that MLPA and BDCP/California WaterFix processes have much in common in terms of their leadership, funding, conflicts of interest, greenwashing goals, racism and denial of tribal rights, and junk science. I believe that people can more effectively oppose the Governor's Delta Tunnels Plan by understanding the dark links between the MLPA Initiative and BDCP.
The unjust implementation of questionable "marine protected areas" under the MLPA Initiative also provides a cautionary tale for activists fighting the California Water Fix — the fact that science, state, federal and international laws and the majority of people are on your side doesn't necessarily mean that you will prevail. The state and federal governments have a long history of implementing projects that don't make any scientific, legal or economic sense because powerful corporate interests effectively bought off and manipulated agency and elected officials to produce a pre-determined outcome.
It is vital that people fighting against the California WaterFix and for the restoration of salmon and other fish populations in California learn from both the successes and mistakes of MLPA Initiative opponents so they can more effectively wage a successful campaign to stop the construction of Governor Jerry Brown's Twin Tunnels.