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Mendocino County Today: Friday, Oct 31, 2014

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I understand that nurse Cindy Arbanovella is back at work, and that Dr. Logan McGhan and the Board are continuing discussions. Reportedly the Board will today [Thursday] also continue discussion of clinic business scheduled for the October regular meeting, which was not addressed at the meeting on the 28th. I have seen no announcement or agenda for this meeting but heard that it would not be open to the public. Normally such business would include approval of previous minutes; financial reports; other committee reports; and a review of old and new business, including grant proposal status, and any upcoming HRSA reporting requirements, or other calendar obligations, for starters.

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On Friday, October 17, 2014 at approximately 6pm, officers of the Fort Bragg Police Department were dispatched to the area of the Beachcomber Motel for the report of a hit and run collision involving a vehicle versus pedestrian. The initial report was that the pedestrian was injured, and the suspect vehicle had fled the scene. Witnesses described the suspect vehicle as a white pick-up truck with a utility bed or tool boxes on the back. The vehicle was reported as fleeing northbound on SR-1 being driven by a white male adult. An Oregon license plate with the number 601GQR was provided. A Be On the Look Out was broadcasted to surrounding law enforcement agencies, and the vehicle was stopped by a California State Parks ranger at approximately mile marker 68.50 on N. Highway 1.

Upon arrival at scene, Fort Bragg Police Department officers located an unconscious adult female lying on the ground, while witnesses and responding firefighters were performing CPR on the female. A second victim located was a seven month old male infant. The adult female victim was declared deceased by responding medics, and the infant child was air-lifted to Oakland Children’s Hospital for treatment. The driver of the suspect vehicle was identified by one of the witnesses on scene, and Michael Bitney was subsequently arrested for vehicular manslaughter.

Releasing Officer: Sergeant Brandon A. Lee
Report Number: FA1401384 / FG1401384
Date/Time Incident: October 17, 2014 / 6:00pm.
Location of Incident: 1111 N. Main Street (Beachcomber Motel), Fort Bragg
Crime or Incident: 192(c)(1) PC – Vehicular Manslaughter, 20001(b)(2) CVC – Hit and Run Collision Causing Death
Victim: Karen Zuehlsdorf, 45 years old, Oakland, CA
Suspect: Michael Bitney, 56 years old, Fort Mohave, AZ

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Karen Elizabeth Zuehlsdorf (Snyder) was unexpectedly taken from us at the young age of 45, at the Beachcomber Motel in Fort Bragg, California, where she was struck by a truck driven by a man who drove into the motel room where she was caring for her 7-month-old nephew. She, her husband, Daniel Richard Zuehlsdorf ("Danny"), and their two children, Summer, 16, and Tanner, 9, lived together in Lafayette, California, their home for the last nine years.

Karen, the eldest of four children of Stephen M. and Judith ("Judy") Hopkins Snyder, was born in Ithaca, New York (where her father was attending Cornell Law School) in 1969. After the Snyders moved to California in 1972, and except for brief times residing in San Francisco and Chicago, Karen lived and grew up in Berkeley, California.

Karen attended the College of Alameda after graduating from Presentation High School in Berkeley in 1987, Oxford Elementary School and the local North Berkeley Catholic parish school, School of the Madeleine.

Karen and her high school sweetheart, Danny, met in 1986 and were married in Berkeley in 1997. They lived briefly in El Cerrito but eventually returned to Berkeley and lived there until they moved to Lafayette in 2005.

Karen loved her work that contributed to the support of her family and enjoyed life as a homemaker. She was a very social person with a cheerful personality who enjoyed life with a close network of friends, especially those from Presentation. She was comfortable planning trips for not only her nuclear family, but the extended Snyder and Hopkins families as well. Karen appreciated the simpler things in life and enjoyed traveling, walking around the Lafayette Reservoir, "movie night" with close friends, or curling up with a good book in the family's cabin in Bear Valley, California.

Karen was an avid reader and dedicated family caregiver and historian. As a teenager, Karen convinced a group of adult women, including her mother, Judy, to join together in a book club that continues to meet regularly to this day. She was involved in caring for both of her grandmothers until their deaths in the 1990's. From early adulthood to today, Karen accepted primary responsibility for personal care of her uncle, Joseph Snyder, a 68-year-old disabled Vietnam Veteran who resides near the Menlo Park VA hospital. Karen saw her Uncle Joe at least weekly and ensured that he was cared for and included in all family events.

Karen's uncle, Kent Hopkins, died in 1988 in Fremont, California and her mother, Judy, died in 2007 in Berkeley, California. Karen is survived by her husband and two children; her brother, Jason, and his wife, Kylie, and three children (Jaden, 12, Jaeger, 9, and Francis, 2) of Modesto, California; her younger sister, Anna Snyder, and her boyfriend, David Brutocao-Kemp, and their 7-month-old son, Cole, of Oakland; her younger brother, Nathaniel, of Lafayette; her father, Stephen and stepmother, Faye, also of Lafayette; her uncle, Joseph Snyder, of Menlo Park; her "spare" grandmom, Jan Hopkins, of Carmel Valley, California; and uncle, Gerry Hopkins and his wife, Nancy, of Carmel, California, and Nancy's daughter, Sarah Soell; her aunt, Susan Wingfield, of Phoenix and Susan's daughters, Morgan and Cameron; and her cousin, Gael Meraud of Monterey, and Gael's daughter, Charlotte, of Edinburgh, Scotland.

Our loss is overwhelming and our grief enormous. But her spirit inspires us and lives on in this family in the most profound manner possible, since Karen's final living moments were spent sacrificing her own life protecting and saving the life of her 7-month-old nephew, Cole. If this truly was her appointed time, Karen would not have had it any other way.

The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital at:

The family thanks Chapel by the Sea in Fort Bragg for their kindness and assistance in making final arrangements for Karen.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, November 1, 2014 at 11 a.m. at St. Mary Magdalen Church, 2005 Berryman St., Berkeley, CA 94709.

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THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE, Eureka office, is predicting a winter storm system to move across Mendocino County and the Northwest California region the next few days. A hazardous weather outlook was released by the NWS Wednesday morning which said to expect cooler temperatures for the duration of the weekend into early next week, and that rain is also anticipated. “In elevations of 4,000 to 5,000 feet, light snow accumulations are anticipated by late Friday afternoon,” NWS said. “Additionally, the stronger showers or storms will have the potential to produce small hail and isolated lightning that could impact any location in the region into Friday night.”

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A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO, we referred to Visit Mendocino County and its sister organizations — the Mendocino County Lodging Association and the Mendcoino County Promotional Alliance — as a "scam-a-rama." Wendy Roberts of Mendocino was so unhappy with that characterization she drove to Boonville Tuesday to tell us how wrong we were. And are.

ALTHOUGH ALWAYS PLEASED to see Wendy, the very picture of graciousness, we weren't convinced.

MENDO LODGING BUSINESSES tax themselves 1% of room rents over and above the 10% bed tax collected by the County. This one percent is handed to the Mendocino County Lodging Association along with a 50% match out of County funds. MCLA then contracts with Visit Mendocino to promote Mendo's lodging/tourism industry.

ROBERTS is convinced the advertising generated by VMC brings much more tourist business to the County than the County spends out of its general fund to VMC, although she concedes there's no way of proving it.

PROMOTION OF MENDO'S multiple delights is not the sole province of VMC. Us taxpayers also fund the Mendocino County Promotional Alliance (MCPA). It also gets some of the 10% bed tax. No one really knows which part of the three-headed VMC-MCLA-MCPA beast is really in charge of which purse strings. But all three groups compete to install as many of their friends as possible into jobs unlikely to be confused with coal mining in 9-5 difficulty.

OUR PROMOTERS travel all over the state and nation telling other travel "professionals" that Mendocino County is where it's at.

BUT THERE HAS ALWAYS been tension among the players in this somewhat forced and oddly configured promotional ménage-a-trois. Two years ago an effort to double the 1% fee (and the County match) was defeated by dissident lodging owners who raised numerous questions about a lack of transparency and the way VMC was operated. VMC of course resisted.

(A FEW YEARS ago the Grand Jury asked to see the Promotional Alliance’s books, but even though they were 95% funded by tax dollars, Judge Richard Henderson managed to reason that the Promotional Alliance was a “private business.”) So their books remain secret.

VMC has again succeeded in increasing the fees collected and the County match by creating a three-tiered arrangement where the bigger B&Bs pay a higher percentage. VMC also cut MCLA out of the decision making loop. But a recent change in leadership on the MCLA Board threatens to upset the apple cart. The new MCLA Board recently voted to sever the contract with VMC effective October 15. The thought of being cut off from the public trough has sent shock waves through the ranks of the VMC staff. It is too early to tell just how this particular drama will play out, but it promises to instantly renew the very bitter and very public infighting that MCLA and MCPA were famous for a dozen or so years ago.

THEIR DIFFERENCES were temporarily pushed into the background based on a tenuous agreement of how to share the spoils — up to $550,000 of public money next year, up from about $360,000 this year — thrown their way every year by the Board of Supes. But that agreement is fast unraveling. Will MCPA be able to vote MCLA off the island? Will the entire fiasco finally collapse of its own infighting?

This week it got worse when Interim County Counsel Doug Losak ruled that VMC’s contract with the County required MCLA to contract out the promotional work to VMC, and if they didn’t bring VMC back the County would cut off their funding.

IN RESPONSE TO OUR REMARKS, several members of MCLA, including Wendy Roberts, have complained to us that we were outtaline because the entire arrangement is good for the County because VMC and MCLA and MCPA make money for the County. To prove her point that the three-headed promo-monster was good for the County's economy, Ms. Roberts gave us a full color sales brochure entitled “Visit Mendocino County 2013-2014 Annual Report.”

THE TECHNICOLOR BEGGING BOWL extended for more County tax money has been going on for years, going back to the early 90s when the public dollars for private enterprise was cooked up. Every year since, the Mendocino County Promotional Alliance (MCPA) and/or whatever other organizations they are affiliated with or whatever they call themselves produce slick presentations and "promotional" materials to wow the Board of Supervisors and the more credulous segments of Official Mendocino County that they are worth the hundreds of thousands of dollars the county gives them each year to "sell" Mendocino County to the outside world.

THE THEORY is that the more selling they do, the more revenue they get, the more revenue the County gets, the more money they get from the County, the more tourism flocks to Mendocino County, spending more money, generating more sales taxes and bed taxes, and then more money comes pouring in to County coffers, and more money goes back to them for more selling and so on in a glorious revenue spiral that no one in their right mind could oppose!

Remember, there are three primary (and frequently at odds) organizations involved: Visit Mendocino County (VMC), Mendocino County Lodging Association (MCLA), and the Promotional Alliance (MCPA).

In the technicolor 2013-14 annual report-brochure, VMC President Scott Schneider is pictured with President Obama in an article titled "What an incredible year it has been!" "From being featured multiple times in Sunset magazine and named in the New York Times as the #3 place to visit in 2014 to getting a national monument, visitors are discovering the amazing destination we call home. … And it's working. I continuously hear how much business is booming. We are back to pre-recession levels of visitation and economic impact and it is only going to get better from here on out."

Schneider declares that VMC has become "more efficient, effective and successful," but provides no examples of bigger bangs for ever more public bucks. In fact, Visit Mendocino County alone has nine full-time staffers who earn professional level salaries: There's President Schneider, a Director of Sales, an Operations Manager, a Director of Interactive Media, Communications Coordinator, Events and Partner Relations Manager, Administrative Assistant, Sales assistant, and a Public Relations Subcontractor called Koli-Cinch.

ACCORDING TO SCHNEIDER, Koli-Cinch "placed 310 Mendocino County stories in print, broadcast and Internet media resulting in $17 million in comparable advertising value and an audience reach of almost 387 million consumer impressions" (a fancy term for internet page views). These outlandish numbers are so unimaginably huge that you have assume that whoever cites them thinks we're all idiots.

VMC also "promoted and attended the Drag Queens on Ice event at Union Square in San Francisco in December 2013." “Promoted” isn't defined, and why would anybody claim credit for "attending" this goofy event? They even claim credit for the Point Arena Stornetta public lands acquisition which has become, according to the New York Times, "the #3 spot on their 52 places to go in 2014." Which is magically claimed by VMC as another of their promotional triumphs.

Other "accomplishments" include “recruiting 37 members of the media to attend Mendo events.” At what cost, we don’t know, but it probably involved lots of very old wine, expensive food and high end lodging, but then we weren't invited. And we go cheap!

OUR VMC BUSY BEES also generated press releases, recruited "two groups of high-profile members of the media" (Names!) to serve on a judging panel at a wine and cheese festival, "participated" in one of their own events, "coordinated a highly successful [sic] media deskside tour" and organized a broadcast of the Mushroom Wine and Beer Festival at the Skunk Train depot in Fort Bragg.

There's also Facebook activity, media outreach in the Bay Area, television and radio coverage, magazine mentions, 7000 new leads in a marketing database, trade shows, contacts, sales event participation, and "1200 room nights directly tracked to our efforts." These “directly tracked” room nights are typically based on highly biased and suspicious surveys filled out by the occasional wineyup at a local Inn or B&B.

There are festivals galore, most of which would occur with or without Visit Mendocino County, but never mind, VMC even managed to produce a wall calendar!

The big numbers just keep flowin’: "In 2012 visitors to Mendocino County generated $328 million in travel spending, a 4% gain over the previous year generating $20.6 million in state and local taxes," and "Tourism is Mendocino County's number one employer with close to 5000 people employed in the industry creating over $126 million in earnings." (This impressive collection of highly exaggerated numbers is supposedly from "Dean Runyon: California Travel Impacts by County, 1992-2012; 2013 Preliminary State & Regional Estimates." But he provides no source.)

We're supposed to believe that tourists spent $328 million in Mendocino County and paid for the employment of 5000 people. That's almost $66,000 per employee, but how many private sector people in broke-ass Mendo make this kind of money?

The entire collection of hype and outtayerass numbers comes to us in the grotesquely overproduced jive brochure that is typical of people whose job is "promotion,” i.e., self-promotion.

"Here's a quick look at some of the exciting things that Visit Mendocino County has planned for fiscal year 2014-15… The boards of VMC, MCLA and MCPA each approved the governance study conducted by HighBar Global Consulting which set out five specific recommendations for change. The newly appointed MCLA board has since reversed its approval."

So MCLA backed out. Bummer.

So why did Schneider & Co. bother writing that they all approved, only to have to take it back in the next sentence?

Also notice that there’s no mention of the “five specific recommendations.” The whole conglomerated promotional mess has been wracked by internal conflict and confusing, duplicative, secretive and self-contradictory processes that create the occasional disgruntled complaint, indignant resignation, demand for correction, or jumbled proposal for improvement and reorganization. But nothing much ever really changes as musical desks and titles bounce around all the while a few people draw bigger and bigger salaries for more and more of their friends and professional acquaintances to generate more and more promotional material.

As mentioned the promotional juggernaut recently re-organized themselves again in yet another attempt to sell themselves to the Board of Supervisors — and pull down another $190k from the County, bringing the County's contribution-match to $550k per year next year.

You'd think with all the money they say they're making, they could pay for their own marketing. But you'd be wrong: They say the more money the County pours down on them, the more money the County makes.

It turns out that there's an easy way to check whether the County coffers really benefit from all this promotion and millions and millions of “consumer impressions.”

Let’s simply look at the "Room Occupancy Tax" revenue line in the County budget for the last few years. If what the VMC-MCLA-MCPA people say is true, we should see increased bed tax revenues.

Unfortunately, the “room occupancy tax” line item that is supposed to be generated by all the tax-subsidized marketing is anything but impressive. In the few years before the 08-09 downturn in the economy, the bed tax revenue was running between $3.6 and $3.8 million per year. (Originally bed tax money was supposed to help cover county services associated with increased tourism: police, roads, emergency services, social services for low-end seasonal employees, etc. But in the 1990s, the tourism people convinced the county that there was a connection between government subsidized marketing and county revenues and off they went with the money.)

In 08-09 bed tax revenues were $3.7 million. In 09-10, $3.2 million. In 10-11 $3.2. In 2011-12 the got about $3.5 million in bed taxes, in 2012-13, the County got only $2.7 million, and in 2013-14 the County budgeted an optimistic $3.7 million and it remains to be seen how much of that budgeted $3.7 million in revenue will actually come in. But even if it did, it would still be basically flat, up here, down there. In spite of all the “promotion,” bed tax revenue has run more or less constant except for the downturn and the occasional off year. In other words, tourism dollars are mostly a reflection of the economy, not of “promotion.”

Here’s an idea: Let’s stop subsidizing them entirely for a year or two and see if the bed tax goes down noticeably. If it does, give them back their money; if not, give it to the cops and ambulance crews who need it and let the well-funded tourism “industry” do their own marketing.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, October 30, 2014

Cepeda, Covey, Delgado, Felix-Zavala
Cepeda, Covey, Delgado, Felix-Zavala

ALBERTO CEPEDA-VILLARREAL, Ukiah. Pot cultivation, processing, possession for sale; armed with firearm.

FORREST COVEY, Ukiah. Drunk in public.

JOSE DELGADO, Redwood Valley. Pot cultivation, processing, possession for sale; armed with firearm.

OMAR FELIX-ZAVALA, Redwood Valley. Pot cultivation, processing, possession for sale; armed with firearm.

Garcia, Iribe, Madueno, Magallon
Garcia, Iribe, Madueno, Magallon

SANTIAGO GARCIA, Ballico/Willits. Pot cultivation, processing, possession for sale; armed with firearm.

EZEQUIEL IRIBE, Ukiah/Willits. Pot cultivation, processing, possession for sale; armed with firearm.

JOSE MADUENO, Ukiah/Willits. Pot cultivation, processing, possession for sale; armed with firearm.

CRISTOBAL MAGALLON, Ukiah. Pot cultivation, processing, possession for sale; armed with firearm.

McCosker, Meza, Nill, River
McCosker, Meza, Nill, River

TIMOTHY MCCOSKER, Willits. Petty theft, probation revocation.

EDGAR MEZA, Ukiah. Pot cultivation, processing, possession for sale; armed with firearm, Probation revocation.

SID NILL, Willits. Resisting arrest.

FRANCES RIVER, Willits. Pot cultivation, possession for sale.

Rucker, Stone, Vickers, Warntjes
Rucker, Stone, Vickers, Warntjes

MATTHEW RUCKER, Leggett. Pot sales, transport, furnish, possession of meth, driving without a license. (Frequent flyer.)

ANDRIA STONE, Willits. Pot cultivation, possession for sale.

MICHAEL VICKERS, Fort Bragg. Domestic battery, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)


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DAVID STORNETTA’S grisly survival diet.

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WHILE A GENUINE LECTURER must obey the rules of mental decency and clothe his personal idiosyncrasies in collectively acceptable generalities, an authentic ignoramus remains quite indecently free to speak as he feels. This prospect cheers me, because I value freedom; and have never expected freedom to be anything less than decent.

— ee cummings

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The following press release was issued by the California Department of Fish & Wildlife Wednesday:

"After almost a year of court procedures, the last of 18 abalone poachers arrested in a 2013 sting has been sentenced. All 18 suspects were found guilty or pled no contest to the charges.

On Aug. 29, 2013, California wildlife officers simultaneously served 13 search/arrest warrants throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento on 18 suspected abalone poachers.

The last of the 18, Dung Tri Bui of San Leandro, was recently found guilty in Mendocino County Superior Court after a week long jury trial. Bui was convicted of three misdemeanor counts, including take of abalone for commercial use, conspiracy to take abalone for commercial purposes and take of abalone greater than the daily limit. He was sentenced to 36 months summary probation, $15,000 fine and a lifetime ban on fishing (including the take of abalone). Deputy District Attorney (DDA) Daniel Madow presented the case.

In total, $139,883 in fines and 11 fishing license revocations were handed out to the 18 subjects. All of the subjects received summary probation ranging from one to three years. All seized dive gear was ordered forfeited by the court.

Mendocino DDAs Heidi Larson and Tim Stoen and support staff also spent a tremendous amount of time on these cases along with numerous staff from the Sacramento District Attorney’s office.

'We had excellent support from the respective District Attorney’s offices for taking these crimes seriously and prosecuting the poachers to the full extent of the law,' said Asst. Chief Brian Naslund of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Law Enforcement Division. 'The gear forfeiture, fines and lifetime fishing license revocations for California’s worst poaching offenders will hopefully put them out of the poaching business permanently.'

The case was investigated by the CDFW Special Operations Unit, a specialized team of wildlife officers tasked with investigating illegal black market sales of California’s fish and wildlife resources.

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Prop. 1 War Chest Grows to $16.4 Million! 

by Dan Bacher

The debate over the pros and cons of Proposition 1, Jerry Brown's $7.5 billion water bond, is very important, but an even bigger issue in any environmental battle or process is the money behind the campaign.

The big corporate money behind the water bond largely determines who the bond will benefit - billionaires, corporate agribusiness, oil companies and the 1 percent, not the people, fish or wildlife of California.

Contributions to Governor Jerry Brown's Yes on Props 1 and 2 Committee have jumped to $13,880,528.43, according to the latest data posted on the California Secretary of State's website.

The contributions feature millions of dollars from billionaires, corporate agribusiness, Big Oil and the tobacco industry - corporate interests that all expect a big return for their "investment" in the corrupt "play to pay" politics that rule California today.

Contributions to the committee from the period from October 1 to October 18 alone amount to $9,537,048.90. (

Expenditures during the period from January 1 through October 18 were $10,728,645.50, with $10,149,477.92 just from the period of October 1 to October 18.

But this isn’t the only committee funding the Yes on 1 campaign. When you consider the other committees backing Prop.1 listed on the Secretary of State’s website, the total amount of contributions jumps by another $2,541,257.91 to $16,421,785.91!

The “California Business Political Action Committee,” sponsored by the California Chamber of Commerce raised, $550,000 for Yes on 1 and 2 during the period from January 1 to October 18, 2014.

The “Wetlands Conservation Committee, Yes on Prop. 1,” sponsored by Ducks Unlimited, Audubon California and the Nature Committee, raised $215,000 from January 1 through October 18.

Other committees backing Prop. 1 include:

  • The “Conservation Action Fund”: $818,623.78
  • The Sac Valley Water & Rice For Prop. 1: $44,499.00
  • Think Long Committee, sponsored by the Nicolas Berggruen Institute Trust, Supporting Propositions 1 and 2: $250,000
  • Western Plant Health Association, Supporting Propositions 1 and 2: $100,000.
  • NRDC Action Fund Ballot Measures Committee - Yes on Prop. 1; $9,514.27
  • Environmental Coalition for Water and Wildlife Protection – Yes on Prop. 1: $102,000,
  • The Southern California District County Laborers PAC: $58,219.02
  • The California Water Association Political Issues Committee – Yes on Prop. 1: $100,000
  • Laborers Pacific Southwest Regional Organizing Coalition Issues PAC – Yes on Props 1 and 2: $293,401.84

Background: Big Oil, agribusiness, health care industry and billionaires lead Prop. 1 proponents

While the committees backing Prop. 1 have raised over $16.4 million to date, the Vote No on Prop. 1 campaign, has raised $89,100 and has spent $53,077.(,_Water_Bond_(2014))

The campaign for and against Proposition 1, the $7.5 billion water bond on the November 4 ballot, remains the classic David and Goliath battle of this election season in California.

Governor Jerry Brown, the Republican and Democratic Party establishment, corporate agribusiness interests, oil companies, construction unions, corporate "environmental" NGOs, prominent billionaires, the health care industry and big water agencies are backing the Yes on Prop. 1 campaign. In contrast, a grassroots coalition of fishing groups, environmentalists, consumer organizations, Indian Tribes, family farmers and Delta water agencies is campaigning to defeat Proposition 1.

The top 18 campaign contributors – those who donated $250,000 or more - have raised a total of $11,835,279 to date for the Yes on Prop. 1 and campaign, according to the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). (

Dignity Health, which contributed $250,000, is the latest corporate contributor to the Yes on Prop. 1 campaign. That donation followed the contribution of $250,000 to the campaign by Aera Energy LLC, a company jointly owned by affiliates of Shell and ExxonMobil.

The Bakersfield-based Aera Energy is one of California's largest oil and gas producers, accounting for nearly 25 percent of the state's production, according to the company’s website. (

Corporate agribusiness interests, the largest users of federal and state water project water exported through the Delta pumping facilities, have donated a total of $850,000 to the Yes on Prop. 1 campaign. The California Farm Bureau Federation contributed $250,000 and the Western Growers Service Association donated $250,000.

Stewart Resnick, the Beverly Hills agribusiness tycoon, owner of Paramount Farms and largest orchard fruit grower in the world, contributed $150,000 and the California Cotton Alliance contributed $200,000 to the Yes on Prop. 1 campaign.

Resnick and his wife, Lynda, have been instrumental in promoting campaigns to eviscerate Endangered Species Act protections for Central Valley Chinook salmon and Delta smelt populations and to build the fish-killing peripheral tunnels - and have made millions off reselling environmental water to the public.

The largest individual donor in the Yes on Prop. 1 campaign to date remains Sean Parker, who has contributed $1 million to the campaign. Parker is an entrepreneur and venture capitalist who cofounded the file-sharing computer service Napster and served as the first president of the social networking website Facebook. He also cofounded Plaxo, Causes, and Airtime.

Four members of the Fisher family, who own the controversial Gap stores and Mendocino Redwood Company, have collectively donated $1.5 million to the Yes. on Prop. 1 and Prop. 2 campaign. (

Doris F. Fisher contributed $499,000, John J. Fisher $351,000, Robert J. Fisher $400,000 and William S. Fisher $250,000. The Gap become notorious among labor and human rights advocates for employing sweatshop labor in the Third World to produce its clothes.

Tobacco giant Philip Morris also contributed $100,000 to Governor Brown’s ballot measure committee established to support Propositions 1 and 2. On October 20, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) called on the governor to return that money.

In contrast to the $13,212,726 in donations to the Prop. 1 and 2 campaigns listed on the FPPC website, the FPPC states, “No committee opposing this ballot measure raised enough money to reach the reporting threshold."

Folks like Stewart Resnick, the Fisher Family and other billionaires, the oil industry and corporate agribusiness interests aren't dumping millions into the Yes on Prop. 1 campaign for the common good or benefit of all Californians - they're doing it as a relatively small investment to advance their own greedy interests and to further privatize and plunder the public trust for their own personal profit.

Six simple reasons why you should vote no on Prop. 1: 

  • Prop. 1 will spend $2.7 billion for costly and inefficient dams and bill the public for the expense. 
  • Prop. 1 would support the Governor’s Twin Tunnels project, as indicated by his Stanford speech on October 20. Brown said that Proposition 1 would provide components missing from the State Water Project “enacted by my father.” These components, Brown ominously intoned, would “deal with the Delta.” 
  • Prop. 1 violates the public trust. The bond provides hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to purchase water allegedly for public trust purposes, to then divert it from the Delta as “abandoned” water for billionaires’ almond orchards. 
  • Prop. 1 ignores the bedrock realities of California’s water dilemma. Consumptive water right claims in California already exceed the amount of available water by 5.5 times. Proposition 1 does nothing to rectify this situation. Indeed, it ignores the one thing that must be done if we’re going to stabilize the state’s water policies: balance water rights claims to actual water supplies. 
  • Prop. 1 provides no strategies to mitigate the impacts of drought. The bond is thus a classic bait-and-switch: It implicitly promises drought solutions it does not deliver.
  • Prop. 1 underfunds recycling, conservation and other drought solutions that will provide local jobs and reduce reliance on imported water supplies. 

For more information, go to 


  1. Johnny Armstrong October 31, 2014

    Please expand on all the Hispanics busted for pot cultivation and firearm possession –their fate in court, their immigration status etc. What IS going on here?

    All your catch of the day stuff is interesting but ultimately depressing to read about. Perhaps you could balance this out with thumbnails of some nice people that are doing interesting things.

  2. Bill Pilgrim October 31, 2014

    RE: The Mendo PR troika. I like the idea of withholding their county funding for a year then measuring the difference (if any.) Meanwhile, those funds could immediately be allocated to road and bridge repair. (We have the second worst roads in the state.) Who the hell will want to drive here if it means returning home with a wracked suspension and warped front end?

  3. Rick Weddle October 31, 2014

    Oh, lawdy, the ee cummings deal about authentic ignoramuses (ignorami?) is too good. I’m guessing that an authentic one is different from an ersatz one, the latter being ignorant deliberately. A casual glance about, wherever you are in N. America, would give a panoramic view of big crowds of the fake kind. Sadly, for them as well as for all of us, the deliberate sort of ignoramus has no prospect whatever of emerging from his/her/its night-scape existence, being intentionally entrenched there. Dickens often noted ones who’d ‘taken leave of their senses’ in his words, clearly meaning what we might call ‘nutcases.’ In our lofty advanced culture, this habit of abandoning central parts of one’s Human sensibilities seems pandemic in scale. The lower classes seem bent on this self-numbing, often as a way of ‘getting along,’ while for a very few, it can be astronomically rewarding (Corpirate CEO’s, their ‘official’ judas-goat servants, etc.) Today’s stunning cartoon of the slave dude applying golden luster to his own manacles is a perfect and beautiful illustration of this mortally dangerous phenomenon.
    (And who is the artist who does these fine ‘toons? I can’t make out the signature…)
    Once again, I thank god and all her little helpers for the AVA.

      • Rick Weddle October 31, 2014

        Many thanks, again. I checked out this guy’s site, and he is a true monster of the best sort.

  4. mendoblather October 31, 2014

    Thanks for the detailed reporting on the VMC giveaway. With all the free social media out there today one wonders why we need to shovel half a million dollars to a group who isn’t accountable to the public it supposedly serves.

    Keep up the good work.

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