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Mendocino County Today: Thursday, September 4, 2014

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THE BOARD OF SUPES is sticking to its non-response to the Grand Jury report on the obvious conflict of interest with Ortner and its former employee, Tom Pinizzotto, who appears to have steered the contract for adult mental health services to his former employer, Ortner. In addition to the flat out denial the Supes also agreed to send a “memorandum” to the Grand Jury, apparently authored by Supervisor McCowen, chastizing the GJ for even dreaming that the emperor has no clothes. The Supes memo does not deny that there was an appearance of a conflict of interest, something anyone with a white cane could readily discern, but focused on the lack of evidence of an actual conflict of interest. As if there’s a difference.

AN HHSA (Health & Human Services Agency) INSIDER offers another perspective: “The real conflict was in favor of Redwood Children's Services (RCS) who has successfully contracted for children's mental health services for at least a dozen years. RCS is run by Camille Schrader who went through the foster child system herself. Despite her success with RCS she was reluctant to bid on the adult mental health services so she brought in Ortner to make a joint bid. The way the bid was structured it wasn't a choice between Ortner and Optum (the other bidder), but between Ortner+RCS and Optum. There was no way to pick RCS without picking Ortner. And there was no way all the caring professionals, most of them fastened to the children like leeches, were going to stand by and let RCS go down the tubes.

"REMEMBER MENDO FUTURES? All the local poverty pimps met for months under the guidance of Carol Mordhorst to draft a response to the RFP before the RFP ever came out. All the usual suspects were at the table and all were heavily invested in hanging onto their individual slices of the poverty pimp pie. RCS and Ortner were assuring everyone that they would continue to subcontract with them once they won the contract. There was no such assurance with Optum. The real conflict wasn't Pinizzotto and Ortner, but the cadre of local poverty pimps rallying around RCS. Anyone on the interview panel who voted to dump RCS and go with Optum would have been run out of town.”

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MENDO AND MARIN counties have each agreed to take as many as 15 Sonoma County jail inmates for $100 a day per inmate. Sonoma County can't handle the numbers of state prison people coming back to the SoCo jail under the Governor's realignment program. The Sonoma County Jail is already teeming with SoCo miscreants. If the two counties took the max of 15 they could each take in $547,000 a year.

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SEVENTEEN FAKE CELLPHONE TOWERS were discovered across the US last week, according to a report in Popular Science. Rather than offering you cellphone service, the towers appear to be connecting to nearby phones, bypassing their encryption, and either tapping calls or reading texts. Les Goldsmith, CEO of ESD America, used ESD's CryptoPhone 500 to detect 17 bogus cellphone towers. ESD is a leading American defense and law enforcement technology provider based in Las Vegas. With most phones, these fake communication towers are undetectable. But not for the CryptoPhone 500, a customized Android device that is disguised as a Samsung Galaxy S III but has highly advanced encryption. Goldsmith told Popular Science: “Interceptor use in the US is much higher than people had anticipated. One of our customers took a road trip from Florida to North Carolina and he found eight different interceptors on that trip. We even found one at South Point Casino in Las Vegas.” The towers were found in July, but the report implied that there may have been more out there. Although it is unclear who owns the towers, ESD found that several of them were located near US military bases. “Whose interceptor is it? Who are they, that's listening to calls around military bases? Is it just the US military, or are foreign governments doing it? The point is: we don't really know whose they are,” Goldsmith said to Popular Science. It's probably not the NSA — that agency can tap all it wants without the need for bogus towers, VentureBeat reported: Not the NSA, cloud security firm SilverSky CTO/SVP Andrew Jaquith told us. “The NSA doesn’t need a fake tower,” he said. “They can just go to the carrier” to tap your line. ComputerWorld points out that the fake towers give themselves away by crushing down the performance of your phone from 4G to 2G while the intercept is taking place. So if you see your phone operating on a slow download signal while you're near a military base ... maybe make that call from somewhere else. In an amazing coincidence, police departments in a handful of US cities have been operating "Stingray" or "Hailstorm" towers, which — you guessed it — conduct surveillance on mobile phone activity. They do that by jamming mobile phone signals, forcing phones to drop down from 4G and 3G network bands to the older, more insecure 2G band.

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A READER WRITES: I just read Bill Allen's original piece promoting his extraterrestrial presentation (and all the follow up folderol) which he added the postscript: “The concept of a ‘tin foil hat,’ or helmet, for protection against mind interference originated in an early 20th century science fiction story. It gradually became associated with various paranoid beliefs about mind control by spies, nefarious government agencies, and paranormal entities. When and why it was linked to mystical UFO enthusiasts is unclear — and patently illogical, for why would anyone wear a brain shield if they hope to receive messages from beings in the phantasmatic zones of space?”

So Mr. Allen is saying that no self-respecting UFOlogist would want to protect his brain from the very “mind control” messages from outer space he wants to receive. Therefore, the accusation that they wear tin foil hats is “illogical.”

Hmmm. I think Mr. Allen is putting up a straw hat, er man, and is misrepresenting those of us who apply the term “Tin Foil Hat.” Personally, I would never lump the UFO nuts in with the Arthur Firstenbergists who think that their brains are being fried by very low levels of electropollution, which Mr. Allen seems to want to be distinguished from. As far as the UFO nuts are concerned, if they wear tin foil hats it's the kind that look like old fashioned tv rabbit ears — sort of an old-fashioned colander with antennae sticking up to better focus the incoming alien messages which can then be marinated in ethyl alcohol, turned upside down onto a pizza pan and half-baked into nutty AVA articles.

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EEL RIVER RECOVERY PROJECT LEADER Patrick Higgins has assembled a dramatic collection of aerial photos of the enormous Eel River Watershed in the drought of 2014.

And a video:

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FROM A COUPLE OF VALLEYS OVER by Jonathan Middlebrook

Jim Armstrong writes, from one valley over: “How to think about the Grand Jury? — I have watched them for forty plus years and known dozens of grand jurors. Every time a [Grand Jury] is to be seated, press releases go out about civic duty and such, trying to shame folks into applying. Then the presiding judge gives them a pep talk and blathers on about how important their work is to be. Invariably, the jurors take their work seriously and spend much time and energy trying to produce a meaningful product. Then, just as inevitably, it is ignored and denied. I think of Lucy, Charlie Brown and their fall football ritual. Or letters to Santa, the kind we used to send by throwing in the fireplace.”

Isis (not ISIS/ISIL) asks, “If this is the tip of the iceberg, what’s in the ice?”

Innuendation — “‘It makes me wonder what the grand jury is up to in some of these areas,’ said 5th District Supervisor Dan Hamburg, during the reading of the responses regarding the County Free Library.” — By e-mail (thank you!), Supervisor Hamburg (9/2) clarified: “I don’t remember saying anything about hidden agendas. I did say that there was a yawning gap…between the GJ’s findings/recommendations and the County’s response.” For sure, on that last point! & OK, to “Don’t remember saying…” That’s the problem with innuendo: it precisely does not say. So it’s really poor taste for an Overling to insinuate that our Grand Jury is up to anything other than doing its job of reporting on problem areas in County governance. Does Supervisor Hamburg have a fact or two he’s willing to share, supporting his innuendo?

Until he does I’m going with Citizen Don Howard, who describes the GJ as “19 volunteer citizens whose sole purpose is to look out for the rights and protection of all others in the county by reviewing and investigating the operations of the local governments.”

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ON AUGUST 30, 2014 at approximately 3:20pm, David Pomilia, age 10 of Ukiah, was driving a 2012 Polaris ATV westbound on a private dirt driveway at 9131 West Road in Redwood Valley. For reasons not determined at this time, Pomilia's ATV traveled in a northerly direction and struck a wire fence on the north side of the driveway. After striking the fence, the ATV overturned and ejected Pomilia. The ATV came to rest on top of Pomilia. Pomilia was transported by ambulance to the Ukiah Valley Medical Center where he later succumbed to his injuries. There was no evidence found to indicate he was wearing a helmet at the time of the collision. This collision is still under investigation. (CHP Press Release)

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To the Editor:

Over the last few months, the 2014-2015 Grand Jury has watched as a number of reports issued by the 2013-2014 Grand jury have attracted considerable comment from County Officials, the Press and the Public. Most of the comments from the County Officials have been critical of the manner in which the reports were written, the tone of the language used in the reports, the presentation of the issues in the reports and the alleged truthfulness of the facts and conclusions contained in those reports.

There has also been expressed concern by the Press and the Public about why the Grand Jury does not provide responses to comments made by the public and public officials regarding the reports. There is no provision in the law that allows the Grand Jury to make such responses. The purpose of this letter is to inform the public about the roles and responsibilities of the Grand Jury and the procedures that we are required to follow.

In Mendocino County, the Grand Jury is selected each year from volunteers who file an application with the Superior Court to serve on the Grand Jury. These volunteers are carefully interviewed and have background checks to insure that they are qualified to serve and bring an open mind to the process. The selection process helps to inform the Judiciary as to the fitness for duty of those who are willing to give generously of their time and abilities to fulfill the constitutionally mandated duties of a Grand Juror.

Once the selection process is concluded, the Supervising Judge instructs the Jurors as to their duties and responsibilities in the charge read to the Jurors after the oath of office is given. In part, the charge requires the Juror not to discuss anything they may hear, see or determine while serving their one term as a Juror with anyone - forever. The only way any information may leave the Grand Jury is through the report process.

In Mendocino County, the size of the jury is 19 people. No topic is selected for investigation and no report is approved for issuance without the concurrence of at least 12 of those Jurors. The Jurors come from all walks of life. Many have had professional careers in fields ranging from law, taxes, and corporate positions at the highest level to construction, farming, ranching and homemakers. What ties them together is a desire to shine a light on the decision making and financial process in our local governments. This light is intended to allow the public to know, without the filters of self-serving statements from our local public servants, what our local officials are doing with public monies and the public’s trust.

In short, the Grand Jury is the public’s watchdog.

State law governs the manner in which the various reports are written and what retention of records is required or allowed. While each Grand Jury is an independent entity intended to exist for only a single year, each Grand Jury is permitted to pass on the next Grand Jury any pertinent documents that were collected in an investigation, suggested topics for the next year and the responsibility to collect and publish the responses to the reports issued by the outgoing Grand Jury. What may not be passed on to the next Jury is any evidence of testimony heard or even the identities of those persons interviewed. This is in order to protect the identities of witnesses and guarantee the confidentiality of the Grand Jury process.

This guarantee of confidentiality is the basis of what makes the Grand Jury an effective watchdog. The knowledge that a person may report misuse of funds, violations of law and abuse of position without fear of retribution from those who have done any of these things means that the Public gets to know what their elective and appointed officials are doing. All this is to insure the efficient and orderly working of government to the benefit of the public that places their trust in those self/same officials.

Each fact printed in a report from any Grand Jury is carefully vetted to make sure that the fact is indeed aer might use two sources to establish a fact, a Grand Jury must use a minimum of three sources to start to consider a statement as a fact. In practice, the Grand Jury will interview many more than three people to establish whether the statements made in the interview of any one person is a fact. Most facts are also supported by documents that may be obtained by a simple request for the document or by subpoena when necessary.

Interviews are not conducted with just one level of employee within any government department or division. Most levels are included in the interview process, from the top level official in the department to those working at the front line of the department. This is done to make sure that what is being told to the Grand Jury is not just the grousing of a disenchanted individual, but is what is actually being done in the department.

Each report contains the facts that the Grand Jury used in reaching the determinations listed in the Findings and Recommendations. When those facts are disputed by the responding parties, the only way the Grand Jury can establish the veracity of the prior Grand Jury’s report is to repeat the investigation. This has been done on occasion in previous Grand Juries with the result being a determination by the subsequent Grand Jury as to the complete truthfulness of the prior Grand Jury.

This vindication was not the result of the same Jurors saying we did the job right, but unrelated Jurors saying, the facts as stated were properly established and are true. This is the backbone of all Grand Jury work. The process is followed to prevent the issuance of a report based on innuendo and falsehoods.

It should be noted that each report goes through a considerable review process before it is published. This process includes multiple reviews by the Jurors of what is in the report and how the facts, findings and recommendations are expressed. Then before a report is sent for independent review, an exit interview is held with the concerned department head to make sure that if a fact has changed from when the investigation was started and the report written, that change is reflected in the report.

When the independent review is conducted, the proposed final report is carefully and thoroughly examined as to whether all facts expressed were properly triangulated or supported by adequate documentation. Everything is double and triple checked. Once the report clears this review, it is placed before the Full Panel of Jurors for discussion and a vote.

As I mentioned earlier, the minimum vote for approval of a report is 12 of 19 Jurors. In practice, if a report receives only 12 of 19 votes to publish, the report is placed back on the table for further consideration. In my experience, a report seldom is approved with less than 13 of 19 Jurors. Every care is taken to make sure that what the Grand Jury is reporting is accurate, up-to-date and may be trusted by the Public as to the truthfulness of the final product.

Following the vote of the Full Panel, the reports are forwarded to County Counsel and the Supervising Judge for their review as to legal sufficiency and whether the Grand Jury has libeled anyone in the reports. If they have a concern or question about a report, the issue is brought back before the Full Panel for consideration of the comment from either party. A response is generated and supplied to both County Counsel and the Supervising Judge. If a change is warranted in a report, the Full Panel will again consider the report with the changes and the corrected report is again sent to County Counsel and the Supervising Judge. Generally the report is approved or consented by the Supervising Judge and the Grand Jury sends a copy of the report to those individuals, boards or councils who are required to respond.

After 48 hours, the reports are posted on the Grand Jury website for the public to review at

As you can see from the process described, no report goes out without being checked for accuracy, that the analysis of the law is appropriate and the conclusions reached are warranted.

The process requires the Grand Jury to use only the facts obtained in the investigations as the basis for its reports. There is no advantage to the Grand Jury to provide anything other than the facts.

The 2013-2014 Grand Jury devoted thousands of volunteer hours to determine and verify the facts involving the Mendocino County government and agencies before publishing its reports. The Grand Jury investigations were conducted fairly and honestly, and there was no benefit to the citizens who devoted their time and energy to preparing the reports. I urge the community to consider this when weighing some of the responses to those reports made by our government agencies and public officials.


Finley Williams, Foreperson, Mendocino County Grand Jury

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CATCH OF THE DAY, September 3, 2014

Brockway, Brogie, Foster, Hopkins, Jordan, Kidd
Brockway, Brogie, Foster, Hopkins, Jordan, Kidd

CHRISTOPHER BROCKWAY, Fort Bragg. DUI, Under the influence of controlled substance, possession of smoking/injecting device, evading, county parole violation.

BRANDY BROGIE, Fort Bragg. Drunk in public. (Frequent flyer.)

BRANDYN FOSTER, Kingston, New York/Redwood Valley. Pot possession for sale, conspiracy related to pot.

JACOB HOPKINS, Ukiah. Probation revocation.

THOMAS JORDAN, Las Vegas/Redwood Valley. Pot possession for sale, conspiracy related to pot.

JARED KIDD, Ukiah. Drunk in public.

Litzen, S.Mihalcean, T.Mihalcean, Moen, Rivera-Diaz, Wildberger
Litzen, S.Mihalcean, T.Mihalcean, Moen, Rivera-Diaz, Wildberger

KEVIN LITZIN, Ukiah. Probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)

SEAN MIHALCEAN, Ukiah. Drunk in public.

TROY MIHALCEAN, Ukiah. Drunk in public.

ANDREW MOEN, Willits. Drunk in public.

JOSE RIVERA-DIAZ, Ukiah. Under the influence of controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, probation revocation.

VICKY WILDBERGER, Sacramento/Ukiah. Drunk in public.

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ON SEPTEMBER 2, 2014, at approximately 7:45pm, Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies saw Christopher Brockway, 25, of Fort Bragg driving on Babcock Lane, nearing Highway 20 in the 32000 block. The deputies recognized Brockway from previous contacts and were aware that he was the suspect in a recent burglary, as well as being on "Post Release Community Supervision", with a term being that he must submit to search by law enforcement officers. When Brockway saw the deputies he accelerated and did not stop at the 'stop' sign at the intersection of Babcock Lane and Highway 20, and turned westbound on Highway 20, directly in the path of an oncoming vehicle. The oncoming vehicle managed to avoid colliding with Brockway, who continued westbound on Highway 20 at speeds in excess of 70 miles per hour. The deputies activated their vehicle's emergency lights and siren and pursued Brockway. When Brockway reached the intersection of Highway 20 and Highway 1 he drove southbound, driving against traffic flow in a lane designated for traffic to turn eastbound onto Highway 20. Brockway continued southbound on Highway 1 to the 'roundabout' at the intersection of Highway 1 and Simpson Lane where he again travelled against traffic flow in the 'roundabout' and continued eastbound on Simpson Lane, nearly colliding with a vehicle in the 'roundabout' who was in the process of turning eastbound on Simpson Lane as well. The deputies pursued Brockway eastbound on Simpson Lane with Brockway driving at speeds in excess of 70 miles per hour. In the area of the 30000 block of Simpson Lane Brockway lost control of the vehicle and spun out of control and off of the roadway. Brockway was injured in the collision and was arrested and taken into custody without incident by Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies. A pipe used for smoking methamphetamine was located in the vehicle and this was also seized. The California Highway Patrol was called to investigate the collision and also to investigate a possible violation of driving while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs by Brockway. Brockway was subsequently lodged at the Mendocino County Jail for attempting to evade arrest in vehicle by driving against traffic, violation of post release Community Supervision, and possession of a device for ingesting controlled substance and held on $35,000 bail.

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ON SEPTEMBER 1, 2014 at about 8:43 PM, Deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office responded to a residence in the 27000 block of Poppy Drive in Willits for a reported male subject threatening others with a knife. Deputies arrived on scene and spoke with a 67-year-old female adult, who was the mother of Armando Ruiz De Guevara. Deputies learned Ruiz De Guevara had taken an approximately 8-inch kitchen knife and attempted to injure himself with the knife. The female tried to prevent this from occurring but then feared for her own safety and attempted to flee. Outside the residence, Ruiz De Guevara grabbed his mother, throwing her to the ground and proceeded to drag her several feet as she lay on the ground screaming for help. Family members came outside and had to wrestle Ruiz De Guevara away from his mother, prompting him to flee the scene on foot. With the assistance of the Willits Police Department, Ruiz De Guevara was located in the area and taken into custody. After being arrested, Ruiz De Guevara kicked at Deputies causing minor injuries. Ruiz De Guevara was transported to the Mendocino County Jail, where he was booked on charges of kidnapping, elder abuse, and resisting arrest, and held on $50,000 bail.

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Upcoming Events At Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens

• Fall Plant Sale — Fall is the perfect time to purchase plants and get your garden established for maximum spring and summer bloom. The Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens' annual Fall Plant Sale runs from Saturday, September 20 through Sunday, September 28 from 9am to 5pm daily. 10% off plants for non-members; 20% off for members, and a special sale table with plants up to 50% off! Nursery on the Plaza at Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, 18220 North Highway 1, Fort Bragg. More information at 707-964-4352 ext. 12 or

• Pollinator Gardens Workshop — Gardener Kate Frey leads this workshop at Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens on plants that encourage pollinators to visit your garden and why pollinators are important. Saturday, September 27, 10am to 12noon, Gardens Meeting Room at Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, 18220 North Highway 1, Fort Bragg. Learn more at or 707-964-4352 ext. 10.

• Growing, Processing, and Eating Quinoa (and other grains) — MCBG Gardener Jaime Jensen leads this hands-on workshop using the Gardens' own organically grown quinoa. Learn the benefits and processes involved in growing this - and other grains - in your own backyard. Saturday, November 1, 10am to 2pm, Gardens Meeting Room at Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, 18220 North Highway 1, Fort Bragg. Learn more at or phone 707-964-4352 ext. 10.

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by Dan Bacher

Only in a Big Oil state like California would a Legislator have to author a bill to ban offshore oil drilling in a "marine protected area." And only in a Big Oil state like California would the Legislature vote against a bill to stop oil drilling in a “marine protected area."

That's right - State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson’s bill to ban offshore oil drilling from an area of state waters in the Santa Barbara Channel known as Tranquillon Ridge stalled on the Assembly Floor on the evening of August 26, effectively killing the bill for the year, due to massive opposition by the oil industry.

The bill, SB 1096, would have protected the Vandenburg State Marine Reserve, created under the privately funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative, and the rest of the Tranquillon Ridge from offshore oil drilling plans.

The vote was 29-36, according to Senator Jackson’s office.

Ayes included Ammiano, Bloom, Bonta, Buchanan, Campos, Chau, Chesbro, Dababneh, Dickinson, Fong, Garcia, Gatto, Gomez, Gordon, Levine, Lowenthal, Mullin, Muratsuchi, Nazarian, Pan, John A. Pérez, V. Manuel Pérez, Rendon, Skinner, Stone, Ting, Wieckowski, Williams, Yamada and Atkins.

Noes included Achadjian, Allen, Bigelow, Bocanegra, Bonilla, Chávez, Conway, Cooley, Dahle, Donnelly, Fox, Frazier, Beth Gaines, Gonzalez, Gorell, Gray, Grove, Hagman, Harkey, Jones, Linder, Logue, Maienschein, Mansoor, Medina, Melendez, Nestande, Olsen, Patterson, Perea, Quirk-Silva, Ridley-Thomas, Salas, Wagner, Waldron and Wilk.

No Votes were recorded by Alejo, Bradford, Brown, Ian Calderon, Daly, Eggman, Hall, Roger Hernández, Holden, Jones-Sawyer, Quirk, Rodriguez and Weber.

“I’m disappointed in what happened tonight, but remain committed to protecting this area of our Santa Barbara coastline from the impacts of new offshore oil drilling for the long haul,” said Jackson (D-Santa Barbara). “I will continue to pursue avenues to protect Tranquillon Ridge, which inspires us with its beauty and biological diversity, and helps drive our local economy with tourism and hospitality jobs and thousands of visitors to our area.”

“I’m proud to be a co-author of SB 1096, because I believe that protecting our sensitive coastal habitat is of the utmost importance to our economy and our environment,” said Assemblymember Das Williams (D-Carpinteria). “I will continue to work with Senator Jackson to fight for those protections.”

The failure of the bill sheds the spotlight on two glaring loopholes in the implementation of California environmental law – one in the California Coastal Sanctuary Act and the other in the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative’s creation of “marine protected areas”

In 1994, declaring that “offshore oil and gas production in certain areas of state waters poses an unacceptably high risk of damage and disruption to the marine environment of the state,” the California Legislature banned any new offshore oil and gas leases when it passed the California Coastal Sanctuary Act.

But a loophole in state law left Tranquillon Ridge, which extends into state and federal waters, with reserves that are currently being tapped in federal waters from Platform Irene, uniquely vulnerable to offshore drilling. Senate Bill 1096 would have repealed this loophole, found in Public Resources Code 6244, according to a statement from Jackson’s Office.

“'Even the slightest chance of an oil spill in a Marine Protected Area far outweighs any potential benefit to the state,” Jackson said. (

The second loophole is in the privately funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative that created the Vandenberg State Marine Reserve and other “marine protected areas” in California waters.

Fishermen, Tribal leaders and grassroots environmentalists have repeatedly criticized the controversial MLPA Initiative for creating questionable "marine protected areas" that fail to protect the ocean from oil drilling, fracking, pollution, military testing, corporate aquaculture and all human impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering.

In one of the most overt conflicts of interest in recent California history, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association, chaired the MLPA Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create alleged "marine protected areas" in Southern California. Reheis-Boyd, who is leading the campaign to expand fracking and offshore oil drilling in California, also served on the task forces to create "marine protected areas" on the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast.

The Coastal Justice Coalition, a group of members of the Yurok, Hoopa Valley, Karuk and other Tribes who agree that the State of California has no right to regulate tribal gathering, exposed this loophole in the MLPA Initiative when they stated, "Protected areas would allow for deep water drilling yet would ban tribal gathering," in a news release issued in June 2010. (

While MLPA Initiative officials let the oil industry, corporate polluters and ocean industrialists off the hook in their strange concept of "marine protection, oil drilling would have been banned in one state marine protected area, the Vanderberg State Marine Reserve, if Jackson’s bill had passed.

Oil companies have made numerous attempts over the years to tap into Tranquillon Ridge’s offshore reserves from state waters. Since 2003, an oil development proposal has been pursued by Sunset and Exxon to drill into Tranquillon Ridge reserves from an onshore location at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

“Slant drilling from onshore into offshore waters raises significant concerns about possible oil spills, impacts on marine life, air and water pollution, and contributions to global climate change,” according to Jackson’s Office.

On September 28, 1997, a discharge of at least 163 barrels of crude oil occurred from a rupture in a 20-inch offshore pipeline emanating from Platform Irene off the Santa Barbara County coast near Vandenberg Air Force Base, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The spill resulted in the fouling of approximately 17 miles of coastline, and caused an impact to a variety of natural resources, including seabirds, sandy and gravel beach habitats, rocky intertidal shoreline habitats, and use of beaches for human recreation (

Zeke Grader, Executive Director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA), praised Senator Jackson for sponsoring the bill - and said the necessity of having to sponsor a bill like this to protect a marine protected area from oil drilling bill "highlights what a failure the MLPA Initiative was.”

“If these are true marine protected areas, they why are we allowing drilling and other insults to the ocean in them?” asked Grader. “The whole MLPA Initiative was a phony process that provided an opportunity for Big Green and government bureaucrats to write press releases claiming these were ‘protected areas’ when in reality the fishermen and Tribes got screwed. We should have bans on oil drilling in all of the marine protected areas."

The time to ban offshore oil drilling, fracking, pollution, corporate aquaculture, military testing and other harmful activities to marine life in all "marine protected areas" created under the MLPA Initiative is long overdue. The oil industry's inordinate influence over the MLPA Initiative and other environmental processes, the Legislature and the Governor's Office is due to the enormous amount of money that the oil industry dumps into campaign contributions and lobbying in Sacramento every year.

A report released on April 1, 2014 by the ACCE Institute and Common Cause reveals that Big Oil has spent $143.3 million on political candidates and campaigns – nearly $10 million per year and more than any other corporate lobby – over the past fifteen years. (

But Big Oil exerts its influence not just by making campaign contributions, but also by lobbying legislators at the State Capitol. The oil industry spent $123.6 million to lobby elected officials in California from 1999 through 2013. This was an increase of over 400 percent since the 1999-2000 legislative session, when the industry spent $4.8 million. In 2013-2014 alone, the top lobbyist employer, Western States Petroleum Association, spent $4.7 million.

Ironically, while WSPA President Catherine 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 obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and media investigations by Associated Press and 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.” (

Bill Supporters and Opponents:

Supporters of the bill included the Environmental Defense Center (sponsor), Asian Pacific Environmental Network, AZUL, California Coastkeeper Alliance, California Coastal Protection Network, California League of Conservation Voters, California State Grange, Salud Carbajal, First District Supervisor, County of Santa Barbara, Carpinteria Valley Association, Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Race, Poverty and the Environment, Community Environmental Council, Citizens for Responsible Oil & Gas, Clean Water Action, Earthworks, Environment California, Environmental Working Group, Food and Water Watch, Get Oil Out!, Heal the Ocean, Cathy Murillo, Mayor Pro-Tem, City of Santa Barbara, Natural Resources Defense Council, Ocean Conservancy, San Diego 350.Org, Santa Barbara Audubon Society, Sierra Club California, Surfrider Foundation, WILDCOAST and 350 Santa Barbara.

Opponents included the California Chamber of Commerce, California Independent Petroleum Association, California Manufacturers & Technology Association, Coalition of Labor, Agriculture and Business, Concerned Taxpayers, I.N.C., Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association, Santa Barbara County Technology and Industry Association, Sunset Exploration and the Western States Petroleum Association.

Vandenberg SMR Background:

Vandenberg State Marine Reserve (SMR) is a marine protected area (MPA) located offshore of Vandenberg Air Force Base, near the city of Lompoc on the Central Coast. The MPA covers 32.84 square miles.

Vandenberg SMR is supposed to "protect" all marine life within its boundaries and fishing and take of all living marine resources is prohibited. However, the "marine reserve," like others established under the MLPA Initiative, doesn't ban oil drilling, fracking or pollution.

Vandenberg SMR was established in September 2007 in a controversial public-private partnership between the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. It was one of 29 marine protected areas adopted during the first phase of the Marine Life Protection

One Comment

  1. Harvey Reading September 4, 2014

    Well, well, fake cell phone towers to snoop on calls, and ET. Whadda country. The snooping doesn’t surprise me, particularly if the authoritarian military is involved. But I gotta wonder though, why would people from other systems have the slightest interest in a backward place like the earth. At best, they might be teenagers who got lost while joyflying.

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