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Mendocino County Today: Thursday, Feb 26, 2015

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AV PANTHERS VARSITY B-BALLERS WON Wednesday's home playoff game against Tomales by a score of 65-60. This game was part of the 2015 CIF North Coast Boys Basketball Playoff Brackets - Division 6. The Panthers next playoff game is in Oakland against St. Elizabeth on Saturday, Feb 28, at 7pm.

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NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE outlook for northwest California: “A storm system will bring rain and snow to the area Thursday night through Saturday. Initially snow levels will be around 6,000 feet and they will drop to 3,500 to 4,000 feet by Saturday evening. Snow amounts will generally be light. Saturday there is a slight chance for thunderstorms as well.”

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Anderson Valley migrant workers were unpaid by Glenn County contractor

A Glenn County man will pay more than $163,000 to 59 migrant workers that he initially failed to pay wages to for three weeks during last fall’s grape harvest in Mendocino County, the US Department of Labor has found.

The payment will include $99,953 in back wages owed under the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, and $63,274 in back wages and damages due under the Fair Labor Standards Act, labor investigators said in a news release.

Manuel Quezada, of Orland, was cited by the department’s Wage and Hour Division for several related violations in August and September of 2014, including not paying employees at least biweekly or semimonthly, not providing wage statements to workers and not disclosing employment conditions to workers. Quezada was also found to be in violation of minimum wage provisions.

The Department of Labor said the violations allegedly took place at the Roederer Estate in Philo, where Quezada had provided work crew services for the past 10 years.

Roederer owns 660 acres primarily throughout Anderson Valley. The vineyard produces and ships products under the Roederer Estate, Anderson Valley, Scharffenberger Cellars and Domaine Anderson labels. Retail customers include Total Wine and Costco.

As a result of Quezada’s violations, Roederer has agreed to sign an enhanced compliance agreement requiring stringent reviews of its farm labor contractors’ practices, the Department of Labor said.

“This case strikes a fair balance between rectifying Mr. Quezada’s violations and his and the winery’s willingness to step up to the plate to correct violations now and in the future,” said Susana Blanco, director of the department’s Wage and Hour Division in San Francisco. “The workers will now get the money they rightfully earned for some very physical, tough work. The agreement we reached will also help workers be better informed of their basic labor rights.”

Most agricultural employers, agricultural associations and farm labor contractors are subject to the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Protection Act, which establishes employment standards related to wages, housing, transportation, disclosures and record keeping, according to the Department of Labor. Under the MSPA, each person or organization owning or controlling a facility or property used for housing migrant workers must comply with federal and state safety and health standards, the Department of Labor said. The MSPA also requires farm labor contractors to register with the department.

Further, the Fair Labor Standards Act requires that covered, nonexempt employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, as well as one and one-half times their regular rates for every hour worked beyond 40 per week. The law also requires employers to maintain accurate records of employees’ wages, hours and other conditions of employment.

The FLSA provides that employers who violate the law are generally liable to employees for their back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages, which are paid directly to the affected employees, the Department of Labor said.

(Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal)


THE BACK STORY: In the fall of 1998, Roederer's harvest crew of mostly Anderson Valley men, conducted a strike. The grapes were ready, the crew was in the fields and prepared to begin a few weeks of backbreaking work when Roederer, apparently on the orders of the mother company in France, suddenly informed their harvest crew of some one hundred hands that their pay would be calculated in a way that meant less money for all of them. The workers refused to harvest Roederer's grapes and summoned the United Farm Workers to represent them. The company tried to bus in strikebreakers from Colusa and Glenn counties but those workers refused to cross the Anderson Valley workers’ picket line.

A hurry-up vote was called by the workers on whether or not to be represented by the UFW. The dramatic showdown tally was held in the vineyard, the grapes ripening on the vine. The workers, with a delegation of sleek Roederer lawyers looking on, went with the UFW. Emergency meetings of alarmed County vineyard and winery owners were hastily convened to devise methods to keep the union out of their fields.

Roederer soon hired the slimy San Francisco union-busting firm of Littler-Mendelsohn whose sole instruction was to get the UFW out of Anderson Valley and keep them out of all Mendocino County. Roederer, working through in-house snitches hired by Littler-Mendelsohn, soon expelled union supporters from its single-worker housing and, although they denied it, placed a number of men on a Do Not Hire list. The union lasted about a year. Its supporters lost their seasonal work and, as we now see confirmed, the company has used dubious labor contractors in the years since who bus in workers from the Central Valley. And steal their pay and the pay of local people who work for Roederer.

Roederer, for those of you unfamiliar with the company, is the oldest family-owned wine concern in the world. It has been spectacularly successful for generations. Roederer's latest scandal in its imperial outpost here in the Anderson Valley inevitably conjures the memorable observation of France's greatest writer, H. Balzac: “Behind every great fortune there is a crime.”

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Criminal defense attorney predicts battle between hyper regulation and free market principles

by Jane Futcher

Cannabis cultivators should position themselves for huge changes in the marijuana industry when legalization passes in November 2016.

That was the emphatic message from two dozen panelists at the Ganjier Spring Kick Off at the Mateel Community Center in Redway, Sat,, Feb. 21.

Five to six hundred people packed two tents and the community center itself for a day of classes and demonstrations. Wonderland Nursery and the Kitchen at Chautauqua produced the event.

In tents outside, live music added to the party atmosphere as seed sellers, dispensaries and cultivation suppliers demonstrated tools, offered samples and sold their wares.

Inside, workshops were wide ranging: water rights; regulations and criminal defense strategies; vegetative stage plant testing; getting legal and financial papers in order; soil testing; finding the right medical dose; best organic farming practices; the future for women in cannabis, and the future of small farming communities in healing the land. For a complete list of the day’s panels and speakers, visit

The goal of the event was to give growers tools and information for the 2015 season and prepare for likely legalization of recreational marijuana in 2016, according to executive organizer Allison Edrington, who was happy with the crowd turnout.

“I was surprised that at 11 o'clock in the morning we had standing room only for a panel on water rights and knowing about how to protect your water and do that legally— on a Saturday!” Edrington said.

The water rights workshop included presentations by watershed consultant Hollie Hall, water rights attorney Matt Clifford from Trout Unlimited, and Connor McIntee, an environmental scientist from California’s Environmental Protection Agency.

The state’s complicated and contradictory water regulations can make it hard for farmers to be in compliance with state law, particularly related to riparian water use, Clifford told the group. He and the other panelists agreed that the trend in state water regulation is to require farmers to store rain water in rigid plastic tanks or off-creek ponds over the winter so they can use that water in summer instead of diverting from creeks when they are low.

McIntee, who runs a new, year-long CEPA program on the impact of cannabis growing on water use on the state’s north coast, said his agency has created a soon-to-be-issued water use emergency permit for small domestic use that should make it easier for mom-and-pop growers to get permits.

One of the day’s most eloquent speakers was Humboldt County criminal defense attorney Mel Pearlston, who said the “war on drugs” is winding down.

“The focus is no longer growers in the hills playing tag with the cops, and it’s no longer dispensaries in cities playing musical chairs,” Pearlston said. “Today there is a global war against the war on drugs. The players in this war are sovereign nations, whose citizens have bled and died by the hundreds of thousands.”

Pearlston, who also helps farmers write collective and cooperative agreements, said greedy politicians and oligarchs see cannabis as their next meal ticket. Small growers must be ready.

“The fact is that you should be considering today if you intend to stay in this industry,” Pearlston said. “California is the global tipping point in the war against the war on drugs. Sooner than you think, legalization is coming. It’s coming statewide, it’s coming locally, it’s coming globally. And that will result in another battle, a battle between hyper regulation and free market principles. So the question today is, given these inevitable trends, what can we do today? Where are we going? What’s the next step?”

Pearlston urged growers to read state Proposition 215 and comply with it. “Be very very careful around the edges of what you think compliance is,” he said. That’s because, he said, collective transactions, for-profit business models, extractions and environmental impacts are going to be carefully scrutinized.

“Be as Proposition 215-compliant as you can because at the least it’s going to give you a defense if you get busted, and at best it’s going to give you a seat at the table if regulation is coming down.”

Pearlston offered some practical business advice and “cautionary statements and predictions” to growers:

“Be competitive. Be an entrepreneur. Cooperate with your friends and neighbors in branding and marketing. This isn’t anything new. We’ve been branding pot in Humboldt County for 40 years, thank you very much. We’ve done very, very well at it.”

On the state and federal level, he said, “regulation will bring enormous sums in enforcement dollars until the black market is eliminated. And the black market’s not going to be eliminated until hyper-regulation and free-market principles find some type of a balance a very long time down the road. The state water cops are here now. They carry a very big stick, They come with Draconian financial penalties. Listen to advice you’re getting from water-panel members about how to protect yourselves.”

Edible makers must learn about product liability and insurance. “This is an issue that’s going to be a mine field for California regulators once they get a hold of it. On the federal level, when Judge Cole [U.S Deputy Attorney General James Michael Cole] retired, last October he told the cameras in no uncertain terms that California is in the government’s cross hairs. If the state

does not regulate medical marijuana this fall, the government is going to come here and show us how they want things to be done. In the next 18 to 24 months, start to look for an increase in while collar crime enforcement courtesy of the new role of cannabis.”

There will be continuing and more aggressive IRS scrutiny of 280E deductions [trafficking controlled substances]. “If you are deducting the cost of sales in your business, be careful. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, find out. This is an experience that the other states in the country that have already legalized recreational and medical cannabis are learning the hard way.”

“The Security and Exchange Commission regulates how you finance your business. Understand that equity investment in a 215 business is not an option for you and that for ancillary businesses all investment solicitation is strictly controlled by federal law. . . Stuff like money laundering and plain old tax evasion is strictly controlled by state and federal law.”

“You better get your act together. You have the resources in our community. You are very lucky to have them, to be able to navigate the regulatory process that we are going to be coming up against. Look beyond next harvest. This is a long term trend and it’s time for you to position yourself now to take advantage of it.”

Most folks attending the Ganjier Spring Kick Off seemed to enjoy the event.

On her way out, Erin Carney of Laytonville said she learned a lot from the panels. “Even the stuff that I’ve heard before. It sinks in a little better each time. I need a lot of repetition.”

Sky White of Piercy said he particularly liked the presentations on reading soil reports by the owners of Dirty Business Soil and Consulting and on vegetative-stage plant testing from chemist Samantha Miller of Pure Analytics Laboratory in Santa Rosa.

“All in all it was worth the fifty bucks,” White said.

(Jane Futcher writes frequently on cannabis issues. Her book Women Gone Wild is a memoir about moving to northern Mendocino County.)


The Mateel Community Center in Redway was packed Saturday at the Ganjier Spring Kick Off event. Panel topics included: water rights, local ordinances, plant and soil analysis, organic farming and medical cannabis.


The Emerald Triangle Cannabis Ordinances panel at the Ganjier Spring Kick Off featured four criminal defense attorneys and a civil litigator. Left to right: Ukiah attorney Keith Faulder; Petrolia attorney Mel Pearlston; Eureka attorney Benjamin Okin; Eureka civil attorney Lori S. Varaich; conference organizer Luke Bruner. Not pictured: attorney Kathleen Bryson, Eureka.

(Photos by Jane Futcher)

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ON TUESDAY, February 24, 2015, at about 4:52pm Ukiah CHP Dispatch received a call of a possible traffic collision with involved parties arguing on the right shoulder of Highway 101 southbound, south of Pieta Creek bridge. As officers responded additional information was obtained indicating that a physical altercation was occurring at the scene. Prior to CHP arrival both parties had left the scene. One party was later contacted on the right shoulder of Highway 101 southbound south of Geysers Road who through investigation was determined to have been the victim and had been assaulted.


The victim who suffered from injuries sustained from an attack with a metal object was identified as Leonard J. Devilbiss, 39 of Santa Rosa. CHP officers conducted further investigation which led them to contact the other party, Brandan Parry Magill, 37, of Healdsburg on Old Redwood Highway north of where Highway 128 heads east just north of Cloverdale. Brandon Magill was determined to have been the suspect. Through the investigation CHP patrol officers learned that there had been no vehicle collision. Devilbiss was transported by Reach Helicopter to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital for treatment of his injuries. Brandon Magill was arrested and booked into the Mendocino County jail for assault with a deadly weapon. The incident remains under investigation. (CHP Press Release)

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I’ve often wondered, why it is that when some outfit like ISIS pulls off some outrageous murderous stunt, that the first instinct of our high intelligentsia is to berate Christians? You know, like Obama just did in his speech.

I don’t get it these guys. Is Obama trying to be a moral beacon? Is he trying to show his greatly evolved and nuanced understanding of the great events of our age? Or is he just pulling rank, talking down to us, putting us yokels in our place?

You don’t need to tell us that the Western, Christian world doesn’t have clean hands. We know. Not that anybody has a sniff about history. Because we don’t. But for many decades now the notion of our extra-special un-clean-ness has been the bread and butter of our great intellectuals.

Not only have careers been built on it, they take great pleasure in telling us how evil we are and all the bad stuff our ancestors did. You can see the glee on their faces.

Even when it’s others that are doing the evil, the discussion comes back to us and our past, even stuff that’s centuries gone. Somehow it’s all about us.

You can’t miss it. Even if you’re a non-reading, non-news watching teen bubble-head obsessed with hair and nails, you know. Just like everyone (even those who don’t WANT to know) KNOWS about the Kardashians. Like the Kardashians it’s inescapable.

The mess in the Middle East is a typical case. Ooh, those evil Brits and French, drawing all those straight line borders. See, all the mayhem is all their damn fault. Not only them but the US.

Not once have I ever heard or seen the finger of blame pointed at imperial powers like the Turks.

The Turks fucked about in the area for centuries so you’d think it logical that some analysis be done as to the possible deleterious effect of Turkish misrule. You know, on such minor matters as stifling the economic and intellectual and cultural and national development of peoples in the area. And, even if any analysis HAS been done, have you ever heard it discussed? In public? I haven’t.

No, it’s much more fashionable to blame the West, not to mention easier. It’s even OK if it’s just plain stupid. See, “stupid” doesn’t matter. Not when the good regard of fellow faculty members and a university administration is at stake. And especially an academic career. Whatever stupid stuff has to be said will be said.

And so Obama gets up on the stage, stands up straight and tall, looking mournful and pensive. And, with a carefully measured tone and his trademark cadence, let’s us have it.

And all the great and the supposedly wise (at least in their own estimation) nod.

Next to starting a war, it’s a great way to change the subject.

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Like a bird on the wire,

like a drunk in a midnight choir

I have tried in my way to be free.


Like a worm on a hook,

like a knight from some old fashioned book

I have saved all my ribbons for thee.

If I, if I have been unkind,

I hope that you can just let it go by.

If I, if I have been untrue

I hope you know it was never to you.


Like a baby, stillborn,

like a beast with his horn

I have torn everyone who reached out for me.

But I swear by this song

and by all that I have done wrong

I will make it all up to thee.


I saw a beggar leaning on his wooden crutch,

he said to me, "You must not ask for so much."

And a pretty woman leaning in her darkened door,

she cried to me, "Hey, why not ask for more?"

Oh like a bird on the wire,

like a drunk in a midnight choir

I have tried in my way to be free.


— Leonard Cohen

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AFTER SPATE OF RAIL CRASHES, SMART seeks insight into safety challenges

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CATCH OF THE DAY, Feb 25, 2015

Adams, Alarcon, Bartolomei
Adams, Alarcon, Bartolomei

MARANDA ADAMS, Ukiah. Domestic battery, court order violation, under influence of controlled substance.

ANTONIO ALARCON, Eureka/Ukiah. Meth sales, possession for sale, child endangerment, failure to appear.

DENISE BARTOLOMEI, Willits. Meth sale.

Blackwell, Jacqaues, Kelly, Magill
Blackwell, Jacqaues, Kelly, Magill

ERIN BLACKWELL, Ukiah. Drunk in public. (Frequent flyer.)

JOSHUA JACQAUES, Garberville/Willits. DUI.

BRUCE KELLY, Fort Bragg. No evidence of vehicle registration, forgery of vehicle registration.

BRANDAN MAGILL, Healdsburg/Ukiah. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun.

Martinez, McCoy, Pardini
Martinez, McCoy, Pardini

BIANCA MARTINEZ, Eureka/Ukiah. Meth sales, child endangerment.

JODY MCCOY, Ukiah. Possession of controlled subtance, vandalism, failure to appear, probtion revocation.

WENDY PARDINI, Fort Bragg/Redwood Valley. Possession of meth, failure to appear, probation revocation.

Patten, Sumrell, Toscano, Tyler
Patten, Sumrell, Toscano, Tyler

THOMAS PATTEN, Albion. DUI, DUI-Drugs, driving without a license, failure to appear, probation revocation.

DONALD SUMRELL, Ukiah. Criminal threats of death or great bodily harm.

ERNESTO TOSCANO, Fort Bragg. Domestic battery, probation revocation.

FIONA TYLER, Willits. Probation revocaiton.

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The region has long been near the bottom of state’s financial rankings, according to census data, but officials are hopeful efforts underway will improve economic outlook.

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GIRL SCOUTS TO HOLD ANNUAL CORNED BEEF AND CABBAGE DINNER on March 14th. Tickets go on sale, from 3/2/15 - 3/14/15. The annual event is a benefit for their travel scholarship fund, on March 14th at the Saturday Afternoon Club. The dinner is served family style from 5-8pm. Presale tickets available at DFM Auto Repair or Mendocino Book Company. Children 4 and under eat free, children 5-14 eat for only $6 and those 15 years of age and older eat for only $12. Ticket prices increase slightly at the door so be sure and purchase your tickets early. If you have any questions, would like to purchase tickets, or want to make a donation contact Katrina Cavender at 478-8995. —Katrina Cavender

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by Dan Bacher

The oil industry continued its long reign as the top spender on lobbying in California in 2014, according to data recently released by the California Secretary of State.

The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) led the list with $8.9 million spent on lobbying in 2014, nearly double what it spent in the previous year. WSPA spent $4.67 million in 2013.

The spending increase by WSPA was part of an overall spending rise by the oil industry, which spent a total of $38,653,186 on lobbying in 2014, a 129 percent increase from $17 million in 2013.

What has this to do with fishing and fish? Everything!

The WSPA and the oil lobby used their money to attack California’s laws protecting our air, land, rivers and oceans and the fish and wildlife that live in the. The WSPA President also oversaw the removal of anglers and tribal gatherers from huge areas of the ocean designated as no-take “marine reserves.”

The lobbying group defeated a bill to impose a moratorium on the environmentally destructive practice of fracking in California and spent millions trying to undermine California’s law to lower greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of WSPA and the former Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create questionable “marine protected areas” that banned or restricted fishing in large areas of Southern California marine waters, also successfully opposed 2014 legislation by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson to protect the Vandenberg State Marine Reserve and the Tranquillon Ridge from offshore oil drilling plans!

“The winners of the 2014 lobbying competition are in – and the winner is... BIG OIL!’" said Stop Fooling California, an online and social media public education and awareness campaign that highlights oil companies’ efforts to mislead and confuse Californians. “Congratulations, Western States Petroleum Association and Chevron! No one has spent more on evil in California than you!"

The association spent a total of 4,009,178 lobbying state officials in the third quarter of 2014, a new quarterly record by WSPA. (

During that quarter, the association paid $375,800 to KP Public Affairs, a prominent Sacramento lobbying and public relations firm that represents clients in health care, aerospace manufacturing and other industries. WSPA also paid $77,576 to Pillsbury Winthrup Shaw Pittman LLP.

WSPA spent $1,456,785 in the first quarter, $1,725,180 in the second quarter and $1,692,391 in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Along with KP Public Affairs and Pillsbury Winthrup Shaw Pittman LLP, the association hired two other firms, California Resource Strategies and Alcantar & Kahl, to lobby for Big Oil.

The Sacramento Bee pointed out that the "vast majority of the petroleum association’s spending on lobbying last year – about $7.2 million – was reported under a catch-all 'other' category that requires no detailed disclosure showing who benefited or how the money was spent." (

The San Ramon-based Chevron and its subsidiaries placed third on the list with $4,282,216 spent on lobbying in 2014, including $2,198,209 paid in the fourth quarter.

The California State Council of Service Employees placed second with $5.9 million, while the California Chamber of Commerce finished fourth on the list with $3.9 million and the California Hospital Association and California Association of Hospitals and Health Systems finished fifth with $3 million

The oil industry has spent over $70 million on lobbyists in California since January 2009, according to a 2014 report written by Will Barrett, the Senior Policy Analyst for the American Lung Association in California. (

The Western States Petroleum Association topped the oil industry spending with a total of $31,179,039 spent on lobbying since January 1, 2009 at the time of Barrett’s report. Chevron was second in lobbying expenses with a total of $15,542,565 spent during the same period.

From July 1 to September 30 alone, the oil industry spent an unprecedented $7.1 million lobbying elected officials in California “with a major focus on getting oil companies out of a major clean air regulation,” said Barrett.

From 2005 to 2014, the oil industry spent an astounding $266 million influencing the Governor, the Legislature and other California officials, according to Stop Fooling California

Big Oil also exerts its power and influence by spending many millions of dollars every election season on candidates and ballot measures. The industry spent $156 million on political campaigns during the same 10-year-period.

This included $75,665,793 from Chevron, $37,177,594 from Aera Energy, $17,100,680 from Occidental Petroleum, $6,472,155 from Valero and $5,872,096 from ConcocoPhillips.

In the November 2014 election, the oil industry dumped $7.6 million into defeating a measure calling for a fracking ban in Santa Barbara County and nearly $2 million into an unsuccessful campaign to defeat a measure banning fracking and other extreme oil extraction techniques in San Benito County. Chevron also spent $3 million (unsuccessfully) to elect “their” candidates to the Richmond City Council.

Aera Energy LLC, an oil and gas company jointly owned by affiliates of Shell and ExxonMobil, also contributed $250,000 to the Yes on Proposition 1 campaign, Governor Jerry Brown’s water grab for agribusiness, oil companies and Southern California water agencies.

Not only does Big Oil spend millions every year on lobbying and campaign contributions, but it funds "Astroturf" campaigns to eviscerate environmental laws. Leaked documents provided to Northwest Public Radio, Business Week and other media outlets last year exposed a campaign by the Western States Petroleum Association to fund and coordinate a network of “Astroturf” groups to oppose environmental laws and local campaigns against fracking in California, Washington and Oregon.

This network was revealed in a PowerPoint presentation from a Nov. 11 presentation to the Washington Research Council, given by Catherine Reheis-Boyd, WSPA President and “marine guardian.”

“The Powerpoint deck details a plan to throttle AB 32 (also known as the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006) and steps to thwart low carbon fuel standards (known as LCFS) in California, Oregon, and Washington State,” revealed Stop Fooling California.

The oil companies also further exert their power and influence by serving on state and federal regulatory panels. In one of the most overt conflicts of interest in recent California history, WSPA President Catherine Reheis-Boyd served as the Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act Blue Ribbon Task Force to create questionable "marine protected areas" in Southern California.

She also served on the task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast, as well as on a NOAA federal marine protected areas panel from 2003 to 2014.

The so-called "marine protected areas" created under the MLPA Initiative fail to protect the ocean from fracking, offshore oil drilling, pollution, military testing, corporate aquaculture and all human impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering.

Not only did these alleged "Yosemites of the Sea" fail to protect the ocean, but they violate the traditional fishing and gathering rights of the Yurok Tribe and other Indian Nations and are based on terminally flawed and incomplete science. Ron LeValley, the Co-Chair of the MLPA Initiative Science Advisory Team for the North Coast, is currently in federal prison for conspiracy to embezzle $852,000 from the Yurok Tribe.

The millions Chevron and other oil companies have spent on lobbying, campaign contributions and setting up “Astroturf” groups promoting their   agenda are just chump change to Big Oil. The five big oil companies – BP, Chevron, Conoco-Phillips, Exxon Mobil and Shell – made a combined total of $93 billion in 2013.

Even with sliding oil prices, the big five oil companies - BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, and Shell - made $16.4 billion in the last quarter of 2014 and $89.7 billion for the entire year, according to the Center for American Progress. (


  1. LouisBedrock February 26, 2015

    Response to On-line Comment of the Day:

    …The groundwork for this awful mess of political and religious horrors sweeping through the Middle East was laid – laid deeply – by the United States during 35 years (1979-2014) of overthrowing the secular governments of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. (Adding to the mess in the same period we should not forget the US endlessly bombing Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.) You cannot destroy modern, relatively developed and educated societies, ripping apart the social, political, economic and legal fabric, torturing thousands, killing millions, and expect civilization and human decency to survive.

    Particularly crucial in this groundwork was the US decision to essentially throw 400,000 Iraqis with military training, including a full officer corps, out onto the streets of its cities, jobless. It was a formula for creating an insurgency. Humiliated and embittered, some of those men would later join various resistance groups operating against the American military occupation. It’s safe to say that the majority of armored vehicles, weapons, ammunition, and explosives taking lives every minute in the Middle East are stamped “Made in USA”.

    And all of Washington’s horses, all of Washington’s men, cannot put this world back together again. The world now knows these places as “failed states”.

    Meanwhile, the United States bombs Syria daily, ostensibly because the US is at war with ISIS, but at the same time seriously damaging the oil capacity of the country (a third of the Syrian government’s budget), the government’s military capabilities, its infrastructure, even its granaries, taking countless innocent lives, destroying ancient sites; all making the recovery of an Assad-led Syria, or any Syria, highly unlikely. Washington is undoubtedly looking for ways to devastate Iran as well under the cover of fighting ISIS.

    Nothing good can be said about this whole beastly situation. All the options are awful. All the participants, on all sides, are very suspect, if not criminally insane. It may be the end of the world. To which I say … Good riddance. Nice try, humans; in fact, GREAT TRY … but good riddance. ISIS … Ebola … Climate Change … nuclear radiation … The Empire … Which one will do us in first? … Have a nice day. …

    William Blum
    THE ANTI-EMPIRE REPORT (#133, 16 October 2014)

    • Rick Weddle February 26, 2015

      Jolly good! You might think that, left to our own devices, we homo sapiens sapiens just haven’t proven ready for civilization, that all our ‘best efforts’ have mired us in this hopeless and terminal mess after all. I say, ‘maybe…maybe not.’ Our collective focus and dependence upon these celebrated devices has, however, obscured the underlying importance and power of what I’ll call the Intangibles. I refer to those faculties unique to our species (to all Humans) that aren’t pictured in ‘selfies,’ or available in bulk at Costco, or doled out by any government anywhere. What I’m saying is that there’s way more to this Human deal than our goddamned devices, and that’s a very Good Thing. Out in the territory where there’s wonder, curiosity, courage, Love, compassion, and so on, lies a geography far different than the supersonic tailspin we’re presented with by the military/industrial/media cults. This ain’t just some woo-woo wishful thinking kind of deal. Even the wheels at West Point have long known that the best equipment, arms, transportation, recruiting, training, food, medical facilities, and so on, avail a fighting force NOTHING without MORALE.

      Can Humans do better than this? Of course we can, and most of us do so as a matter of course, every day, and have for as long as we’ve been here. If we didn’t stop on the red and go on the green, our local intersections would look a lot like ‘our’ national policies in foreign relations, social equity, energies, economies, and so on. This example shows that we Humans ‘automatically’ know what’s ‘right’ just in order to get from A to B and back, and survive the trip. Here’s the deal: Our most salient device, and least recognized for what it really is, the Corpiration, has no idea what ‘right’ is, and doesn’t entertain such a thought, ever. That’s because the Terminal Device, the Corpiration, is structurally bereft of the intangible sense of ‘right and wrong,’ having displaced it with the sole ‘sense’ of what’s profitable. It is the measure and definition of our peril that this Unliving Organism has been allowed any control of ‘our’ governments. This Device, built and installed specifically and solely for Greed (the reviled Root of All Evil), has too largely been accepted by us as ‘natural,’ even welcomed into our Human community as a ‘person,’ when in fact its appearance in our midst inaugurated our present Age of Unnatural Selection.

      Maybe we still have time to examine these, our own Devices, and determine which are of some positive use, and which need to be shut off immediately?

      Wondering (there’s that pesky intangible, again)…

    • Bill Pilgrim February 26, 2015

      …Well argued. I might add that the commenter’s ‘historical equivalency’ is a cheap way of throwing off the mantle of responsibility for the very real destruction and chaos the US has wreaked, and continues to wreak, in the here and now. Using the commenters logic, we can blame a few corrupt African tribal chiefs in the late 19th century for the horrors of slavery in the South.
      “The Empire of Chaos” is the best moniker for the modern US I’ve seen so far.

      • Bill Pilgrim February 26, 2015

        …To counter extremism, the US must stop pushing people to the extreme!

        • Rick Weddle February 26, 2015

          Now there’s an idea who’s time has long since come, yet still appears as ‘novel,’ even incomprehensible among our very remote-controlled ‘leaders.’ Looks like those in positions to know that, in fact would. Maybe pushing Justice here and there could be thrown into the mix…

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