- Paris Under Attack
- Second Coming
- Mutual Murder
- County Pensions
- Hendy Update
- HHSA Presentation
- Yesterday's Catch
- California's Future
- Bridge Demolition
- Sheriff Radio
- Oaky Invitation
- Arcata Attack
- Time Clock
- Nixon Siege
- Solar Decision
- Planning Agenda
- Big Oil
- Grist Investigation
- Coast Campus
- Hillary's Record
- Senior Gamers
PARIS UNDER ATTACK!
France was rocked by multiple, near simultaneous attacks on entertainment sites around Paris on Friday evening and initial reports on French media said at least 60 people were killed and hostages were being held in a concert hall in the capital.
The apparently coordinated gun and bomb attacks came as the country, a founder member of the US-led coalition waging air strikes against Islamic State fighters in Syria and Iraq, was on high alert for terrorist attacks ahead of a global climate conference that opens later this month.
Western security sources said they suspected an Islamist militant group was behind the carnage.
At least two explosions were heard near the Stade de France national stadium where a France-Germany friendly football match was being played, attended by President Francois Hollande. The match continued until the end but panic broke out in the crowd as rumours of the attack spread, and spectators were held in the stadium and assembled spontaneously on the pitch.
There were reports of possibly as many as four shootings in central Paris, one of which turned into a hostage taking at a popular rock music venue, witnesses said.
TF1 television said up to 35 people were dead near the football stadium, including two suspected suicide bombers in the attack in the neighborhood of Saint Denis, north of central Paris.
Police helicopters circled the stadium as Hollande was rushed back to the interior ministry to deal with the situation. The president's office said he had called an emergency cabinet meeting for 2300 GMT to manage the crisis.
Police confirmed there had been shootings and explosions at the stadium, but not the number of casualties.
In central Paris, shooting erupted in mid-evening outside a Cambodian restaurant in the capital's 10th district and the Bataclan music hall, where bystanders were evacuated as elite police commandos took up position.
Several witnesses told television stations that up to 60 hostages were being held inside the popular concert venue.
"There are lots of people here. I don’t know what’s happening, a sobbing witness who gave her name only as Anna told BFM TV outside the Bataclan hall. "It’s horrible. There’s a body over there. It’s horrible."
Elsewhere, police cordoned off a wide area around the Petit Cambodge restaurant where witnesses said gunmen armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles had fired at diners through the plate-glass windows, causing multiple casualties.
"I was on my way to my sister's when I heard shots being fired. Then I saw three people dead on the ground, I know they were dead because they were being wrapped up in plastic bags," student Fabien Baron told Reuters.
There were also reports of shootings in rue de Charonne in the 11th district and at the central Les Halles shopping centre.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the Paris attacks, which came within days of attacks claimed by Islamic State militants on a Shi'ite Muslim district of southern Beirut in Lebanon, and a Russian tourist aircraft which crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.
Earlier on Friday, the United States and Britain said they had launched an attack in the Syrian town of Rakka on a British Islamic State militant known as "Jihadi John" but it was not certain whether he had been killed.
(With reporting by Paris Newsroom; Paul Taylor; James Dalgleish. Courtesy, Reuters)
* * *
SHOTS RANG OUT Friday night at Bataclan, a music venue in Paris where Eagles of Death Metal* were playing, with several people dying and more than 100 people taken hostage as a result of the terrorist attack, according to ITV News.
Fifteen people have died at the club, according to The Associated Press, and hostage taking is underway. The New York Times reported that a witness told French television that someone shouted "Allahu Akbar," "God is greatest," as the shooting occurred. Police are ordering bystanders off the streets around the venue.
Reports state that the band members, which include singer Jesse Hughes and Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme, are safe. The wife of drummer Julian Dorio told The Washington Post that he and other band members are OK. "We are just holding our breath and saying prayers for everyone," Emily Dorio said. "[Julian] called to say that he loved me and he was safe. Everyone on stage was able to get off."
A Twitter user reported, though, that the group was onstage during the shooting. Rolling Stone has reached out to the group's reps for more information.
French group Red Lemons posted to Facebook (via BrooklynVegan) that the members of Eagles of Death Metal were safe and not hostages. They added, "Mikel Ross, Eric McFadden, we were with your mates Jesse, [Hughes' partner] Tuesday [Cross], the other musicians outside, they're safe too, they took a cab."
A friend of opening band White Miles posted on that group's Facebook page that the group was OK. "Just heard from the band and they're safe," Ben Gazey wrote.
The shootout was one of multiple attacks that occurred in the city that night. The Times reported that another one occurred at the city's sports stadium, where France's soccer team was playing Germany, prompting the evacuation of President François Hollande. Another took place in a restaurant in the same general area.
President Hollande has subsequently declared a state of emergency in France and has ordered the borders closed, according to The Telegraph. "France must be strong in the face of terrorism," he said. "Terrorist attacks are taking place in Paris. It's a horror, We have mobilized all possible forces." Obama has pledged his support to France.
Police officers have the AP that as many as 26 people had been killed in total as a result of the shootings and explosions. In addition to those dead at the concert, 11 were killed in a restaurant in the neighboring arrondissement. The Times is reporting a more conservative number of deaths, stating as many as 18.
The wave of violence is France's deadliest terrorist attack in decades
The Times said the French media reported that people had been seen carrying Kalashnikov rifles. It also underscored that the attacks took place near the former headquarters of Charlie Hebdo, the satirical publication that saw 12 of its employees murdered in January by Islamist gunmen for its depiction of Muhammed.
* * *
Update 1: Eagles of Death Metal have issued a statement on Facebook. "We are still currently trying to determine the safety and whereabouts of all our band and crew," they wrote. "Our thoughts are with all of the people involved in this tragic situation."
Update 2: The hostage situation in Bataclan is over, according to The New York Times, following a raid by French police. Authorities killed two of the captors, who attacked police with hand grenades.
Update 3: Police are reporting that around 118 people have died following the attack on Bataclan, according to The Guardian. At least 40 died in separate attacks.
(Courtesy, Rolling Stone)
*Eagles of Death Metal is a Californian rock band from Palm Desert, California, formed in 1998 by Jesse Hughes and Josh Homme, who are the only permanent members of the band, though Homme rarely plays live shows because of commitments to other bands. There are also a wide range of other musicians that play under the Eagles of Death Metal moniker, both on the albums and in live shows, frequently under humorous aliases.
Despite their band name, Eagles of Death Metal are not a death metal band. Hughes stated that a friend was introducing Josh Homme to the death metal genre. When he played a song by the Polish band Vader and made a claim that the song was within the death metal genre, Homme then referred to Vader as "The Eagles of Death Metal." After hearing this phrase, he wondered what a cross between the Eagles and a death metal band would sound like. In a 2003 interview Homme described the sound of the band as a combination of "bluegrass slide guitar mixed with stripper drum beats and Canned Heat vocals." Hughes is known for his enthusiastic interaction with audiences at live performances.
The Eagles of Death Metal were on stage at Le Bataclan during the November 2015 Paris attacks. Press reports say that while the death toll inside the venue appears to be over 100, the band all made it safely out of the venue via a door in back of the stage. (Wikipedia)
THE SECOND COMING
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
LOCAL MATTERS seem trivial against the terrible events today in Paris, and excuse me, you sophisticates, for reprinting Yeats' prescient poem, but it continues to define the times.
TERRORISM works. It's an unending cycle of mutual murder until one side or the other wins. Since Isis's master plan is a global caliphate, we'll be fighting them for years and years.
THIS MESSAGE WAS CIRCULATED BEFORE THURSDAY'S MEET OF THE COUNTY RETIREMENT BOARD:
From: "John G Dickerson"
Subject: Retirement Board Thursday
Can you get some FB folk to the Retirement Board meeting Thursday? I’m convinced Ted Stephens needs support from a crowd of citizens some of whom will say they resent the debt that’s been imposed on the County and it’s got to stop – one way or another. I think some fireworks would happen at the beginning of the meeting if there are enough of us there from 8:30 to at least 9:30. Any who want to stay for the whole meeting (over about noon) would be icing on Ted’s cake.
As you probably know Ted’s patience with trying to change the Retirement Board is just about at an end. Can’t blame him. I understand it very well. But it would be a shame if Ted left that Board. Ted is definitely a burr under their saddle – and they need it! But – Ted needs support. It’s extremely tiring to be the only guy in a room wrestling with 9 to 12 others who don’t want to change anything substantial – who will continue the destructive culture of that group.
Here’s the spark that’s lit Ted’s fuse – I think you know about this but it bears repeating.
Ted’s been trying for the entire 5 years he’s been on that Board to have an agenda item to discuss the “Excess Earnings” policy – why it’s so bad and should be stricken from State Law – and actions should be taken so that fraud on the People will never happen here again. In the last two years he’s objected to several actions taken in closed session that haven’t been reported out adequately according to his understanding of the Brown Act. In five years he hasn’t been able to get Excess Earnings on the agenda – and has been similarly frustrated about stopping what he strongly feels is improper use of closed sessions.
And now - as you know the Retirement Administrator on his own decided to leave town the week of the scheduled October Retirement Board meeting to visit family. There was no urgency for him to do so – just wanted to go for a visit. Didn’t tell anyone before he left. Then said there was no reason to have a Board meeting because there wasn’t anything that needed to be talked about!
That’s the spark – nothing to talk about!!! After 5 years of trying to get an item on the agenda to talk about stopping the use of Excess Earnings that on its own created 25% of our County’s unfunded pension debt?
The County will release its June 2015 audit in the next couple of months. This is the first audit that has to conform to the new pension reporting rules. They are going to write off $160 million of Net Worth. In 2014 they reported the County had $80 million more assets than debt – this year they will report the opposite - $80 million more debt than assets.
We NEED to scream bloody murder from the ramparts about this. The County is about to be forced to put the hit that’s been imposed on the People behind their backs in black and white on paper. For many reasons this is a good time to push for reform – including stuff that’s happening in other counties and in Sacramento.
Most of our County’s debt was created in the Retirement Board’s meeting room! They need to start hearing – in no uncertain terms – that the public’s patience is coming to an end – one way or another.
A good man needs support.
John Dickerson, Ukiah
* * *
WE FOLLOW THE RETIREMENT FUND ISSUE as best we can. Asking around, we conclude, preliminarily, the following:
On June 16, 2010, the Board of Retirement adopted an "Interest Crediting and Undistributed Earnings Policy."
"Undistributed Earnings" is the sanitized re-phrasing of "excess earnings" which never, in point of fact, ever existed.
The adopted policy provided for the distribution of "undistributed [excess] earnings" in the following order:
1. Credit to County Advance Reserve and Retired Members COLA Reserve so as to reduce the Unfunded Accrued Actuarial Liability (UAAL) of the system until an actuarial funded ration of 100% exists;
2. Credit the balance to the Unallocated Fund Balance for any use consistent with the CERL [California Employees Retirement Law of 1937] and approved by the Board of Retirement.
The only flaw in the policy was that point #2 allowed for the diversion of undistributed (excess) earnings for any use consistent with the CERL (which would include retiree health insurance) but only after the retirement system is 100% funded. And no one believes the retirement system will be 100% funded for at least 20 years and then only if the Wall Street Ponzi does not go south and a series of other improbable assumptions all pan out. For all practical purposes, the adopted policy ruled out any diversion of so-called excess earnings for several decades into the foreseeable future.
Ted Stephens was appointed to the retirement board around the end of 2010, not long after the excess earnings policy was adopted.
The Board of Retirement revisited the "Interest Crediting and Undistributed Earnings Policy" on September 16, 2015 and amended point #2 to read: 2. Credit the balance to the Unallocated Fund Balance as a reserve against future economic downturns.
The revised policy means that in the unlikely event that the retirement system becomes 100% funded, excess earnings will not be spent for any purpose, but will be retained as a reserve against the inevitable collapse of the Wall Street Ponzi, assuming it has not already collapsed.
Ted Stephens made the motion to adopt the revised policy, which was approved on a 9-0 vote.
PS: The Board of Retirement has a well designed website that readily yields information so you can easily verify the above info. Dickerson and Stephens have served their purpose in sounding the alarm about mismanagement of the retirement system, but are incapable of shifting out of Chicken Little mode. Various reforms have been instituted, including replacing Tim Knudsen as retirement fund administrator, but the fact is, serious damage was done before the critics blew the whistle. The excess earnings problem was changed over five years ago before Stephens joined the board. He just voted in favor of an amendment to the policy that makes it even more unlikely that non-existent excess earnings can be diverted out of the retirement fund. And then complains that he can't even get the item on the agenda! The fact is, excess earnings have been discussed by the board several times over the last five years, but because the policy adopted in 2010 prevented any diversion of excess earnings unless the system was 100% funded, there was no urgency to further revise the policy. Stephens and Dickerson have been beating the drum for the last five years, insisting that the Board of Retirement must fix a problem that was fixed over five years ago.
KEEP IN MIND that, like Social Security, there’s nothing wrong with the pension system that couldn’t be fixed with a simple few adjustments targeting the biggest abusers. In the case of Social security that would mean lifting the cap on taxable earnings so that those earning more than $118,500 contribute their fair share. In the case of the County’s pension system, it means not allowing the pension calculations to be gamed by high-earning retirees: by capping the pension and not allowing late-career promotions and pay bumps to skew the pension amount. (Most pensioners deserve their modest pensions which they and their employer contributed to out of their paychecks.)
UPDATE ON THE HENDY WOODS WATER DISTRIBUTION PROJECT
I just wanted to give you an update on the status of Hendy Woods while the parks water distribution system is being replaced. As of the last construction meeting there will be ongoing drilling work taking place within the roadways which precludes vehicle access. For this reason the park is currently closed to vehicular access by the public while this work is occurring Monday - Friday. The public is still allowed to walk in and cycle in the park and will be directed around construction sites by the contractor. The contractor plans to have all roads open by the end of the day Friday and barring any emergencies and the park will be open for vehicular day use on the weekends. The local fire departments have been notified of the park's water system going offline during construction. As with any large construction project plans are subject to change, but this is the most up to date information available. Once we have vehicular access restored seven days a week I will let you know. Any questions or clarifications please let me know.
Loren M. Rex
Mendocino Sector Superintendent
California State Parks-Sonoma Mendocino Coast District
12301 North Hwy 1, Box 1 Mendocino, CA 95460
(707) 937-3118 (707) 937-2953 fax
MENDOCINO COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS BOARD AGENDA #5(d)
Acceptance of Presentation by Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA), Family and Children’s Services (FCS) as a Follow up to the Grand Jury Report and Response by the Board of Supervisors.
Summary: Family and Children’s Services will give a presentation as requested by the Board of Supervisors on August 4, 2015 during their discussion regarding the Grand Jury Report on Family and Children’s Services. The topics presented will include performance data, staffing, what is working and the development of new programs.
* * *
THE FULL PRESENTATION can be seen at:
FUNNY, they say the presentation will include “what is working” but they didn’t finish the cliché: “…and what is not.”
WE EXPECT SUPERVISOR WOODHOUSE will be thrilled with the presentation, lavishing praise on the ill-managed departmental spokespeople with statements like, “I know how hard your job is,” and “Please know that I appreciate all the work you do,” and maybe, “I'm very proud of all of you. … Thank you very much for all your work. I am very impressed.”
THE PRESENTATION is impressively vague, combining meaningless overly-detailed out-of-context random charts and childish bright yellow cartoons with feel-good slogans and generalities like these:
PARTICULARLY SAPPY, and an indication of the mentality of the County’s management staff presenters are, is the inclusion of this infantile graphic in the formal presentation which is somehow supposed to be a warm-fuzzy response to the Grand Jury’s report which was titled: “Children At Risk”:
THE COUNTY’S ORIGINAL GRAND JURY RESPONSE which Tuesday’s presentation is intended to somehow buttress was effectively deconstructed by former Mendocino County Social Worker James Marmon which, of course, the presentation doesn’t even acknowledge, much less address the Grand Jury’s original findings. His critique can be found at:
CATCH OF THE DAY, November 13, 2015
ALBERTO ACOSTA, Talmage. Failure to appear, resisting.
DELFINO CRUZ-SALAZAR, Ukiah. DUI-drugs.
KAYLA HARRINGTON, Belmont/Fort Bragg. DUI.
MICHAEL MUNOZ, Santa Rosa/Ukiah. Failure to appear.
RAFAEL PAZ, Willits. No license, community supervision violation.
ALVIN WILSON JR., San Francisco/Ukiah. DUI, probation revocation.
ON LINE COMMENT: CALIFORNIA!
In the next five years, Californians will begin to understand that there are only a few decades worth of groundwater left in California. The state has the highest poverty rate in the US, the public schools are ranked 49th, air quality is the worst in the country, and home ownership rates are 49th. Neither political party will address these problems, so crime will rise and property values will decline quite dramatically, especially in municipalities lacking senior water rights.
CALTRANS PLUS DYNAMITE — WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?
The once-delayed demolition of the largest remaining pier of the old Bay Bridge eastern span is now set for early Saturday, as officials look to avoid a monster traffic jam when the new bridge is shut down for up to a half hour, Caltrans said Thursday.
The six-second implosion is scheduled to happen between 6:45 and 7 a.m. to take advantage of slack tide, limited wildlife activity and light traffic. Officials at first were looking at a 1 p.m. demolition but worried that it could take a greater toll on wildlife and blanched at the idea of closing the Bay Bridge in both directions in the middle of the day — although there’s still a small chance the blast will happen then.
“We are working very closely with the (California Highway Patrol) to make sure there is as little inconvenience as possible to the traveling public,” said Leah Robinson-Leach, Caltrans’ spokeswoman for the bridge project.
Caltrans says it is confident that a wooden and steel mat placed atop the 80-by-140-foot concrete pier will keep debris from flying onto the new span when nearly 600 charges of dynamite — totaling 20,000 pounds — are detonated. But officials are taking no chances.
In addition to stopping Bay Bridge traffic 15 minutes before the implosion window opens, the CHP will close the bicycle and pedestrian path on the south side of the eastern span Friday night. BART will halt service through the Transbay Tube for a short time when the blast happens, and boats will be kept at least 1,500 feet away.
The plan is to knock down the top 50 feet of the pier and entomb the debris at the base of the 225-foot-deep remainder of the pier. Other debris will be contained by a boom around the pier.
A flotilla of wildlife observers will be monitoring the area for last-minute interlopers, including diving birds and marine mammals, and officials may halt the implosion on short notice if one appears.
Scientists will be on the lookout in particular for two diving birds, the endangered least tern and the protected brown pelican. If either is diving within 500 feet of the pier, the implosion could be put off while monitors use laser pointers and air horns to try to shoo it away. Caltrans hopes harbor seals and sea lions will be deterred by a ring of noise-emitting buoys.
Engineers will await the target animal’s exit from the area, and Caltrans will try again. One possibility, they caution, is that the implosion will be put off until the next slack tide in the dreaded 1 p.m. window. The blast could also be postponed to Sunday.
(Courtesy, the San Francisco Chronicle)
A READER WRITES:
Dear AVA people,
Please forgive me for this awkward request, I have ZERO patience with the automated phone system at KZYX and hope that someone on duty yesterday would have heard what I did on the way to Santa Rosa, around 9 a.m.-ish?
It sounded like someone with high authority over the Mendocino County jail system — could even have been Sheriff Allman (I’ve never heard his voice, and I tuned in to the middle of the program). Unfortunately, I only had a few minutes of reception (between Hopland and Hwy 128), but the speaker was discussed in actual real language the impacts on jail populations from the existing “mental health care system” and the intractable population problem set that ends up incarcerated because there is no where else to “house” people in existential extremis, it seems.
Over the last year and more, I’ve attended to the many descriptions of the difficulties with Mendo County’s so-called mental health department problems (and thankfully had the great pleasure of conversing with one of your regular correspondents on this matter, Mr. Marmon).
We also have significant mental health “care” issues in Lake County, of course, but have no one in a position of responsibility and authority who is willing to speak as directly and clearly to the problems encountered by our law enforcement system as the speaker on that program.
If you happen to have any idea of what that was, please do let me know. The speaker’s intelligence and candor sparked a teeny bit of hope in my old hardened heart that there are people who can work on these problems thoughtfully and carefully, while not pandering to the pols and pussies in office (or sucking the administrative tit for life).
Joy to the last radical newspaper in America!
ED NOTE: It was indeed Sheriff Allman you heard. Our Sheriff takes an enlightened approach to Mendocino County's mentally ill as the County's police forces do ALL Mental Health's heavy lifting. KZYX sent Valerie Kim to the Ukiah Valley Medical Center where the event was held. You can listen to the entire recorded presentation by going to the KZYX digital archive. http://jukebox.kzyx.org/ for Thursday, November 12, 2015 9:00 am
OAKY JOE SEZ…
An open letter to cops: I would like to invite all law enforcement officers to contact me if they or their loved ones need medical marijuana. I've supplied medical marijuana to veterans for over 10 years. I know a lot of vets go into law enforcement when they're discharged from their service. I'm hoping that if law enforcement officers hear from the veterans themselves that medical marijuana indeed helps them, they they'll look more closely at medical marijuana. If someone you know is messed up, let me know. This is not a stupid joke. I was born at West Point, and I have very close ties to the military.
As always, I need an up-to-date recommendation from a doctor. PS. To any potential thieves, our new policy is to not have any cash on the premises. — Oaky Joe Munson, Sonoma
BAD NEWS FROM THE NORTH, as relayed by Hank Sims of the Lost Coast Outpost:
The following is an email that Humboldt State President Lisa Rossbacher just sent to the campus community:
On Friday night, November 6, two black women who are HSU students were assaulted in downtown Arcata. Two unidentified white men threw a glass bottle at them, hitting them and spraying both women with beer. From their truck, the men then proceeded to taunt, harass, and chase them. Both students ran and successfully evaded the assailants.
The students are clear that this was not only a physical assault, but a racially motivated one. And we know this is not the first time that an incident like this has happened on campus or in the community. Harassment based on race, gender, or other characteristics continues to be a serious problem.
Incidents such as these are both shocking and appalling. They undermine our shared commitment to create a safe environment for learning, teaching, and living for our entire University community. We are all affected by what happens in the community around campus.
I call upon all members of the University and the broader community to be part of the solution. We need to understand that such acts are traumatic, as they diminish the survivors’ sense of safety. Furthermore, these acts impact survivors’ ability to live, study, and work in our community.
These acts are also antithetical to the values we hold as an institution, including our shared commitment to supporting the dignity of all individuals, to valuing diversity, and to respecting differences.
Each of us can play a role in supporting members of our community who experience harm, including listening compassionately and bridging them to resources such as Counseling and Psychological Services, our Bias Education Initiative, the Dean of Students, the Centers for Academic Excellence, and other allies across campus.
I hope you will all play a role in making our University and the broader community safe, welcoming, respectful, and free of violence, prejudice, and oppression.
Sincerely, Lisa A. Rossbacher, Ph.D., President
FOR LOCAL HISTORIANS
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
(May 1970) Richard Nixon surrounded the White House with City Buses, as protection from angry anti-war demonstrators. He called Kissinger at 3:00 in the morning and said, “Henry, they are coming… they are going to get us.” Ah yes. I would say that is the perfect dynamic relationship between politicians and taxpayers.
NOVEMBER 19, 2015 REGULAR MEETING — REVISED AGENDA FOR PLANNING COMMISSION AND ALUC
Revisions are in the project requests.
Dept Analyst I
County of Mendocino
Planning & Building Services
Main Office: 860 N. Bush St, Ukiah, CA 95482
Coast Office: 120 W. Fir St, Fort Bragg, CA 95437
Phone: (707) 234-6650
BIG OIL LOBBYING MONEY TURNS CALIFORNIA THE WRONG KIND OF GREEN
By Dan Bacher
Western States Petroleum Association Spent Record $6.75 Million In 3 Months!
California has over the years acquired a largely undeserved reputation for being the nation’s “green” leader when in fact the state’s so-called “visionary” environmental policies have resulted in some of the most polluted rivers and air, most imperiled fish populations, most destructive public work projects and most racist and environmentally unjust treatment of Indigenous Peoples and people of color in the nation.
The biggest-ever gusher of Big Oil lobbying money into the state in one quarter, July 1 to September 30, 2015, resulted in the gutting or the defeat of every bill that the oil industry opposed, exposing once and for all the “Big Lie” that California, the country’s third largest oil producing state, is the nation’s “green” leader.
The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), the largest and most powerful corporate lobbying group in Sacramento, set a new record for spending in one quarter when it spent an amazing $6,750,666.60 lobbying state officials in the third quarter of 2015 to lobby against Senate Bill 350, Senate Bill 32 and other environmental bills it opposed.
The latest lobbying expenditures contrast with the second quarter of 2015, when the group spent $1,398,403.48 and the first quarter, when the organization spent $1,141,037.53. (http://cal-access.sos.ca.gov/…)
The money the group spent lobbying from July 1 to September 30, along with the millions spent by Exxon and other oil companies, enabled the oil industry to gut or defeat every bill in the Legislature that didn’t meet its approval.
The total spent by the oil industry in the third quarter was an unprecedented $11 million to oppose Senate Bill 350, a climate change/renewable energy bill, noted Susan Frank of Clean Energy California. Because of the strong opposition to the bill by Big Oil and corporate Democrats that receive big donations from the oil industry, the bill’s sponsors removed a key provision mandating a 50 percent reduction in petroleum usage.
“In the first nine months of 2015, oil interests spent a total $17.7 million, putting the industry on pace to exceed its own $20 million spending record from 2014,” according to a new report by the American Lung Association in California that analyzes the new lobbying figures. “Spending in 2015 already exceeds the $10 million the industry spent in 2010, the year Prop 23 was on the ballot.” (http://www.cadelivers.org/…)
That $17.7 million included approximately $9.3 million from WSPA, $3.3 million from Chevron and $5.1 million from Exxon, Valero and other oil companies.
Sara Rose, the CEO of the California League of Conservation Voters, noted that the Western States Petroleum Association launched a “major, multimillion dollar campaign” to strip SB 350 of a provision to reduce petroleum use in California by 50% in the next 15 years, and to stop SB 32 (Pavley), which would have set greenhouse gas reduction limits to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. “Both SB 32 and the petroleum reduction provision of SB 350 passed the Senate, but failed to garner enough support in the Assembly,” explained Rose.
The rise of the “Oil Caucus”
Rose said one of the most important stories of this legislative session is the rise of the “Oil Caucus” – a group of Assembly members including Henry Perea, Adam Gray, and Jim Cooper – whose campaigns are “funded directly and indirectly by polluter money, and who worked publicly on behalf of industry priorities, often at the expense of their own constituents.”
With help from the “Oil Caucus,” the oil industry was successful at halting other important bills aimed at better regulating its practices, according to Rose. These included AB 356 (Williams), SB 248 (Pavley), and SB 484 (Allen), which would have reformed the state’s Underground Injection Control (UIC) program by requiring disclosure of chemicals used in well treatments or injections; ensuring that oil and gas projects do not contaminate aquifers containing water suitable for drinking and irrigation; requiring the State Water Board to review aquifer exemption applications; and/or requiring the shutdown of illegal injection wells if regulators fail to shut them down.
“The industry also notably stopped a bill to protect the coast from oil spills (SB 788, McGuire), despite the fact that California is still recovering from the May 2015 Refugio oil spill, one of the biggest spills in decades,” said Rose.
Ironically, the very same Big Oil lobbyist who led the campaign to defeat SB 788, Western States Petroleum Association President Catherine Reheis-Boyd, chaired the privately funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called “marine protected areas” in Southern California that were imperiled by the Refugio Oil Spill. Even more ironically, Reheis-Boyd is also the lobbyist for the Plains All American Pipeline corporation that is responsible for the oil spill that fouled over 9 miles of the Santa Barbara coast and injured and killed big numbers of marine mammals, birds, fish and other marine life!
“In light of these observations,” said Joey Racano of the Ocean Outfall Group, “isn’t it interesting how the Western States Petroleum Association brought us the 2015 Santa Barbara Oil Spill while defeating legislation that would protect Marine Protected Areas from the threat of oil, fracking and chemicals associated with it?”
WSPA exceeds lobbying expenditures for all of 2014
To understand the power of Big Oil in California, it’s essential to look at the spending by the oil industry this year in contrast with previous years. Last year the Western States Petroleum Association spent a record $8.9 million on lobbying, double what it spent in the previous year. In the first six months of 2015, the oil industry spent $6.2 million to lobby state officials, including $2,529,240 spent by the Western States Petroleum Association alone.
In the first three quarters of 2015, WSPA spent $9,290,106 total, a record for money spent in three quarters. That already exceeds the record $8.9 million the group spent last year.
When the figures for the fourth quarter are released in early 2016, the WSPA will undoubtedly set an outrageously high new record for money spent in one year to lobby legislators and other state officials.
In spite of the popular misconception that California is a “green” state, Big Oil has come to dominate environmental politics in California. WSPA and Big Oil wields its influence not just by spending its money on lobbying, but by dumping millions and millions of dollars into election campaigns, creating Astroturf groups and getting its officials and friends on state regulatory panels.
Big Oil spent a total of $266 million influencing California politics from 2005 to 2014, according to an analysis of California Secretary of State data by StopFoolingCA.org, an online and social media public education and awareness campaign that highlights oil companies’ efforts to “mislead and confuse Californians.” The industry spent $112 million of this money on lobbying and the other $154 million on political campaigns. (http://www.eastbayexpress.com/…)
When you add the money Big Oil has spent on lobbying to date in 2015, the total for oil lobbying in California from 2005 to 2015 comes to $130 million, according to the American Lung Association report.
The Big Picture: Big Oil capture of the regulatory apparatus and media
The mainstream media has done a poor job to date covering the connections between fracking and other extreme oil extraction and Big Oil money and power in Sacramento. In fact, because of the neglect of this story by the LA Times and other media outlets, two of my investigative pieces exposing Big Oil’s dumping of fracking wastewater and oil industry money and power are cited in Project Censored’s #2 Story: “Oil Industry Illegally Dumps Fracking Wastewater,” in the “Censored 2016” book that has just been published:http://www.projectcensored.org/…
You won’t see mainstream media coverage either of how the Los Angeles Times and the California Resources Corporation, an Occidental Petroleum spinoff, recently teamed up to create “Powering California,” a Big Oil propaganda campaign website. (http://www.indybay.org/…)
Clean Energy California broke the story on their twitter page when they published an October 27 tweet from Western States Petroleum Association President Catherine Reheis-Boyd promoting the new site.
Reheis-Boyd tweeted, “Learn how California’s #energy industry is quietly elevating the middle class & improving our quality of life:http://poweringcalifornia.com/…
The Powering California website, produced by a supposedly “independent” department of the Los Angeles Times, proclaims: “California oil and natural gas mean growth. They mean jobs. And, Californians need ample, affordable and reliable energy to thrive – to power our homes, farms, businesses and schools, fuel our cars, and produce products that we need and use every day.”
Media Matters and the LA Weekly have written interesting articles on this collaborative effort between Big Oil and the Times, although both fall short of telling the bigger story – the capture of the regulatory apparatus and the corporate media in California by the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), the oil industry and other corporate interests for many years, something I have written article after article about.
Corporate media censors discussion of Big Oil lobbyist oversight of “marine protected areas”
Of course, you won’t see any mention either by the Los Angeles Times or other corporate media outlets of how the same Reheis-Boyd, the WSPA President, chaired the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create questionable “marine protected areas” in Southern California from 2009 to 2012 – and served on the task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast or North Coast from 2004 to 2012. She also served on a NOAA federal marine protected areas panel from 2003 to 2014.
No did the reporters and editors from these publications mention how Reheis-Boyd and other members of the task forces oversaw the creation of questionable “marine protected areas” that fail to protect the ocean from pollution, fracking, offshore oil drilling, military testing, corporate aquaculture and all human impacts on the ocean other than sustainable fishing and gathering.
Caleen Audrey Sisk, Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, said allowing a big oil industry lobbyist to serve on state and federal “marine protected area” panels is “outright WRONG.”
“How can this continue to be overlooked and allowed? Where is the public on these things?” asked Chief Sisk. “When will the public refuse to accept this outright WRONG? The Mega Corporations have loop holes to provide funding and personnel to government to run their billion dollar destructive project through. It is so sad the public has no recourse because they are held hostage and want the two bit jobs!”
The process was infested with institutional racism, numerous conflicts of interest, terminally flawed science and the violation of numerous state, federal and international laws, including the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. To this very day, the CDFW has refused to acknowledge the sovereign rights of the Yurok, Hoopa Valley, Karuk and other North Coast Tribes to gather seaweed and mussels in “State Marine Reserves” on the North Coast. (https://intercontinentalcry.org/…)
The greenwashing by state officials and MLPA Initiative advocates of a big oil lobbyist’s leadership role in what passes for “marine protection” in California is one of the most appalling political scandals of modern California politics, one that reveals the Big Lie behind the myth that California is a “green state.” It demonstrates the oily, toxic core of the body politic in the “Golden State.”
For more information about Big Oil money and power in California, go to:http://www.eastbayexpress.com/…
WET POEMS FOR A DRY PLANET, VII
waiting for a change in the weather,
waiting for something to happen today,
waiting for the skies to open,
waiting for a doorway to the
blue heaven above
hoping for the clouds to make up their minds,
wishing these days might be different,
wishing the wind would bring you closer,
waiting for the weather to change,
longing for days without end,
longing for nighttime to come,
longing for you to arrive from far away.
— Jonah Raskin
CA AIR RESOURCES BOARD INVESTIGATION REPORT ON GRIST CREEK AGGREGATES/MERCER FRASER ASPHALT PLANT VIOLATIONS
On June 2, 2015 an Authority to Construct (ATC) was issued by the Mendocino Air Quality Management District (MCAQMD) to Grist Creek Aggregates for 500,000 ton per year asphalt and rubberized asphalt facility. The facility was constructed and is being operated by Mercer-Fraser Company (Mercer-Fraser) starting on or about September 21, 2015.
Airborne emissions from typical asphalt production include dust from the aggregate, asphalt, and the surrounding facility; smoke from the oil, rubber, aggregate and the asphalt mixture; and the signature blue smoke that is typically associated with asphalt production.
Starting on September 25, 2015, staff at the California Air Resources Board Enforcement Division (ARB) began receiving numerous complaints about odors and smoke being emitted from the facility and drifting onto the properties of neighboring residents. Complainants asserted that the smoke and odors have been bothering, inconveniencing and in some cases causing adverse health effects to the residents. ARB staff first responded by contacting the Air Pollution Control Officer (APCO) at the MCAQMD and informing him of the complaints.
On October 13, 2015 and continuing the next day, two inspectors representing ARB were in the area surrounding the Grist Creek Facility, and performed on-site inspections of the operation and the asphalt production to equipment. The two inspectors witnessed the facility operations from a hill on Mendo Drive to the southeast of the facility, observing and documenting over 20 separate violations of facilities Authority to Construct Permit issued by the MCAQD.
On page eight of the report, ARB inspectors included the following comment; “General “housekeeping” at the facility was lax. ARB staff observed significant piles of dust and fine aggregates below the aggregate conveyors; ARB staff observed leaked pools of a black material that appeared to be asphaltic oil below the asphalt storage tank; ARB staff observed broken monitoring gauges. Lack of proper housekeeping, including equipment maintenance can be indicative of a facility not well run and at risk of increased emissions.”
The complete ARB Investigation report and cover letter are included via email attachment with this press release. Additional information on this report can be obtained from the California Air Resources Board.
The CARB Public Information Office can be reached at: (916) 322-2990 or California Air Resources Board
Public Information Office
P.O. Box 2815
Sacramento, CA 95812
E-mail Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
For additional information, updates or questions, please contact the following individuals; Glen Colwell or Lyn Talkovski with Friends of Outlet Creek:
Glen Colwell - Email; email@example.com - Cell PH: 707-836-6595
Lyn Talkovski - Email; firstname.lastname@example.org - Cell PH: 707-621-3214
SPRING FORWARD - Mendocino College celebrates the Coast Campus Spring Forward, an event to celebrate the Coast Campus and its students, will be held on Monday, November 16, from 4-6 pm at the campus.
Dean of Students Debra Polak will speak and take questions at 5 pm. Come and check out the Spring courses.
Support our college!
HILLARY CLINTON’S FAKE TOUGH TALK ON WALL STREET
Clinton talks up her record on reining in the financial industry, but a look at her proposals and votes as a senator during the crisis years tells a different story.
by Jeff Gerth, ProPublica
During the Democratic debate last month, Hillary Clinton assured viewers she would be a president at least as tough on Wall Street as her main opponent for the nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders. She cited her history as “a progressive who likes to gets things done.” Sanders and others, she added, might be “missing the forest for the trees” by aiming at big banks alone and not the more risky shadow banking system.
Clinton also proudly recalled that while serving as U.S. senator from New York, she warned bankers early in the financial crisis about their dangerous practices.
“I went to Wall Street in December of 2007 — before the big crash that we had,” Clinton said. “I basically said, ‘Cut it out! Quit foreclosing on homes! Quit engaging in these kinds of speculative behaviors.’”
An examination of her remarks to Wall Street in December 2007 and Clinton’s actions as a senator—a period when she had the best opportunity to translate her words into deeds — presents a more mixed picture of her record on the banking industry.
Clinton steered a middle ground in a 28-minute address to business executives gathered at an office of the Nasdaq Stock Market in New York’s Times Square on Dec. 5, 2007. In the event, she presented a detailed analysis of the burgeoning dangers in the housing market and its threat to the economy. (ProPublica obtained a video of the speech, which hasn’t previously been posted.)
Clinton gave a shoutout to her “wonderful donors” in the audience and asked the bankers to voluntarily suspend foreclosures and freeze interest rates on adjustable subprime mortgages. She praised Wall Street for its role in creating the nation’s wealth, then added that “too many American families are not sharing” in that prosperity.
She said the brewing economic troubles weren’t mainly the fault of banks, “not by a long shot,” but added they needed to shoulder responsibility for their role. While there was plenty of blame to go around for the spate of reckless lending, and while Wall Street may not have created the foreclosure crisis, it “certainly had a hand in making it worse” and “needs to help us solve it.”
Finally, Clinton said, if the banks didn’t take the voluntary steps she proposed, “I will consider legislation to address the problem.”
The lenders did not adopt Clinton’s proposals. During 2007 and 2008, when the housing market collapsed and while she was also running for president, the Democrats controlled the Senate. Of the 140 bills Clinton introduced during that period, five were related to housing finance or foreclosures, according to congressional records. Only one of those five secured any co-sponsors. No Senate committee took action on any of them, and they died without any further discussion.
When a broad housing bill finally became law in 2008, Clinton was not among the more than a dozen senators credited by party leaders as playing a key role.
Clinton also introduced a bill in 2008 to curb compensation of corporate executives. It too died without any co-sponsors.
In dealing with Wall Street, Clinton faced the same challenge as any lawmaker representing New York, where the financial industry includes not only constituents but campaign donors. Wall Street executives were the largest donors to both her 2006 Senate re-election bid and her 2008 presidential campaign. Employees of just eight banking firms gave $2.67 million to those campaigns, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit research group.
Clinton in 2007 publicly decried a tax break for hedge-fund and private-equity executives — and continues to do so in her current campaign. But she didn’t sign on as a supporter of a Senate bill that would have curbed the break.
As a senator, Clinton also had a brush with the shadow-banking world that she now describes as a continuing threat to the financial system. When AIG, the giant insurance company and poster child for lightly regulated finance, began to implode in September 2008, Clinton reached out to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who was involved in talks to rescue the firm with government funds. Her little-noticed overture came on behalf of some wealthy investors who stood to lose millions and had hired two longtime associates of the Clintons to represent them.
Brian Fallon, a spokesman for the Clinton campaign, declined to comment for this story. The Clinton campaign has issued a fact sheet detailing her record with Wall Street as a senator.
‘Doesn’t Run Amok’
In Iowa last month, Clinton underscored the difference between fiery speeches and results when she told Democrats, “It’s not enough to just rail against Republicans or the billionaires.”
During the debate she had called for stronger regulatory oversight of the financial system and addressed the theme of income inequality that has powered the campaign of Sanders, who identifies himself a democratic socialist. “It’s our job to rein in the excesses of capitalism so it doesn’t run amok and doesn’t cause the kind of inequities that we’re seeing in our economic system,” she said.
Clinton’s campaign referenced her Senate record in a fact sheet issued a few days before the debate titled “Wall Street Should Work for Main Street.” It cited one bill, the executive compensation legislation that died. It also mentioned four press releases or speeches from 2007 and 2008 — including a March 15, 2007, talk in which she proposed a series of housing initiatives and her call later that year for higher taxes on hedge fund executives.
Clinton had already hit the tax break in her new campaign. In April, during her first official appearance as a presidential candidate, she told students in a classroom for auto technology at an Iowa community college: “There’s something wrong when hedge fund managers pay lower taxes than the nurses or the truckers that I saw on I-80 as I was driving here.”
Her aides then told reporters she was referring to the so-called carried-interest loophole, which taxes compensation earned by private equity partners and hedge fund managers at a lower rate than ordinary earned income.
What they didn’t say was that Clinton never signed on to the bipartisan June 2007 bill that would have curbed the break. Her rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, then-Sen. Barack Obama, became a co-sponsor on July 12. The next day Clinton gave a campaign speech criticizing the tax provision. Yet she still didn’t put her name to the legislation, according to records.
During Clinton’s first presidential campaign, her official campaign website gave short shrift to financial or housing matters. In April 2008, the section of the website called “Hillary on the Issues” listed 14 topics; none involved housing, mortgages, or Wall Street.
The bills she introduced dealt with some of the issues she raised in her speeches — including one aimed at making it easier for homeowners facing foreclosure to get their loans modified — but none of them advanced, records show. The only co-sponsor who joined any of them was fellow New York Sen. Charles Schumer, who signed on to a bill that would have helped veterans refinance their mortgages. That bill also died in committee without any action taken.
Meanwhile, the Senate moved forward on other bills with wider support. They eventually led to a sweeping housing and mortgage law signed by President Bush in July 2008. That legislation was voted on three times in the Senate in 2008, in addition to a few procedural votes related to the bill. Clinton missed votes in February and April, when she was running for president, but also missed votes in late June, after she had dropped out of the contest. On July 26, when the bill passed, Clinton was there to vote in support.
The bill’s main sponsor, Sen. Christopher Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat, summarized the bill’s journey and, in a floor speech, praised 13 other senators for their help. Clinton’s name wasn’t among them.
At the debate last month, Clinton said her campaign plan for Wall Street oversight was tougher than the one proposed by Sanders, in part because it would go beyond making sure banks aren’t too big to fail. “We also have to worry about some of the other players — AIG, a big insurance company; Lehman Brothers, an investment bank. There’s this whole area called shadow banking. That’s where the experts tell me the next potential problem could come from,” she said.
Clinton didn’t need an expert to tell her about AIG.
On Sept. 18, 2008, as the government grappled with collapsing markets, Clinton took to the Senate floor. “After years of laissez-faire policies for the middle class, the Bush administration has acted on behalf of Wall Street, with the largest and most significant federal interventions in the history of our modern financial system,” she said. “The largest banks in the world could have closed-door meetings with the White House and the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department to discuss their bailout options, but millions of homeowners with mortgages worth more than their homes, or who are facing default and foreclosure, don’t have the same opportunity.”
A day before that speech, Clinton had quietly reached out to Paulson, Bush’s Treasury secretary, on behalf of some wealthy investors in AIG. The giant insurer had made bad bets on the mortgage market, couldn’t pay its debts, and faced imminent collapse. Shareholders were poised to lose billions if the company went bankrupt or was taken over by the government.
A review of Paulson’s calendars shows that he and Clinton talked on Sept. 17 and 20. In his book about the financial crisis, Paulson mentions just the first conversation, saying Clinton called on behalf of Mickey Kantor, a lawyer who represented a group interested in staving off AIG’s imminent collapse. The group’s investment banker, according to news accounts at the time, was Roger Altman. Kantor and Altman are longtime friends of Hillary Clinton and served as senior officials in her husband’s administration. Altman headed a secret energy task force for Clinton when she was in the Senate.
In Paulson’s account of his conversation with Clinton, Kantor represented a group of Middle East investors who were considering a bid for the insurer. Paulson quoted Clinton as saying the investors hoped to save the government from having to “do anything,” but Paulson said he told her any private solution would have to guarantee AIG’s billions of dollars in liabilities, a huge, if not impossible, hurdle.
But in an interview with ProPublica, Kantor said Paulson didn’t have it quite right in the book. Kantor said he was working on behalf of “major shareholders” in AIG, not Middle East investors. The shareholders he represented owned about 30 percent of AIG’s shares—one of them was Eli Broad, a Los Angeles billionaire, philanthropist, and friend of the Clintons. Kantor said he couldn’t remember whether he had sought Clinton’s help but said it was possible given their 40-year friendship. Kantor said he hoped to persuade Treasury his clients could raise enough money to “put the ship in order” but by the time Paulson and Clinton talked the Federal Reserve had concluded that a private rescue, at a cost of at least $75 billion, was not feasible.
With its stock in free fall, there was no private solution for AIG. The Treasury and the Fed feared that if AIG defaulted, the ripples might bring down the international banking system. By Sept. 22, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York was completing a rescue package that gave the government almost 80 percent of the company in return for a loan of $85 billion. As a result, private shareholders, including Kantor’s clients, lost most of the value of their stock holdings. The U.S. eventually earned a profit of almost $23 billion on its investment.
Paulson declined to comment, Altman did not return a phone call, and a spokesperson for Broad and his foundation didn’t respond to emails or phone calls.
The most important action Clinton took related to the financial crisis may have been her vote in favor of the $700 billion bank stabilization plan, essentially a bailout of Wall Street. After a short but tumultuous debate, the Senate approved the Bush administration’s plan, known as TARP, on Oct. 1, 2008. Nine Democratic senators, 15 Republicans, and one independent (Sanders) voted no.
Clinton told the Senate during the debate: “For two years, I and others have called for action as wave after wave of defaults and foreclosures crashed against communities and the broader economy.” She called for an end to the “culture of recklessness in our financial markets endorsed by an ideology of indifference in Washington.”
The next day Clinton spoke to a New York City radio host and expanded on her support for TARP.
“I think that the banks of New York and our other financial institutions are probably the biggest winners in this,” she said, “which is one of the reasons why, at the end, despite my serious questions about it, I supported it.”
For more coverage of politics and lobbying, read ProPublica’s previous reporting on how Congress explains its absences, the insurance lobby’s pivot to Democrats and an FDA fix that may cure the drug industry more than the patients.
(Courtesy, ProPublica and The Daily Beast)
WII-U GAMING FOR SENIORS
Fridays 10-11:30 am, beginning December 4th
Wii-U Gaming for Seniors is coming to the Ukiah Library beginning on Friday, December 4th, & will occur weekly on Fridays from 10-11:30am in our meeting room. Come challenge your friends & get fit with some Wii-U Bowling or Golf! The Ukiah Library is located at 105 N. Main Street in downtown Ukiah. For more information, please contact Melissa at the Ukiah Library: 467-6434 or email@example.com
IS THIS THING EVEN ON?: Tech Help with personal devices Saturdays 1-3 pm Beginning in December, librarians at the Mendocino County Library, Ukiah Branch will be available every Saturday afternoon from 1-3 pm to assist patrons with their electronic devices, e-readers, laptops, tablets and phones. Having difficulties with your new computer or personal device? Stop by the Ukiah Branch Library on Saturdays from 1-3 pm and we’ll help you troubleshoot your tech issues. Bring in your e-readers, phones, tablets, iPads or basic computer questions and we will help you understand how to work your device.
For more information, please contact Melissa at the Ukiah Library: 467-6434 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Melissa Eleftherion Carr