If you were wondering whether Mendo’s recently approved “Climate Action Advisory Committee” is making any headway, you might find the following exchange at last Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting instructive.
The committee, still in the early stages of formation, in typical Mendo Big Think, is charged with making recommendations to the Board of Supervisors to reduce Mendo’s carbon footprint (or something like that) and generally making the world a better place. Meanwhile, the rest of humanity faces looming extinction.
Better hurry, Mendo!
Supervisor Ted Williams: “The Climate Action Advisory appointments [there were two applicants from Supervisor Dan Gjerde’s Fourth District]. These are Supervisor Gjerde’s and I fully support him making this decision and I support the individuals he has chosen. But I believe when we approved the resolution it referenced a document that had the intention of ensuring diversity. I'm not sure with this process how we are going to accomplish that other than I can look at the current appointments and try to balance it when I bring recommendations. Is that what we had in mind? I know there was some discussion. I went back and looked at the video and I don't think we are exactly following the guidance we provided.”
Board Chair Carre Brown: “I believe when we talked further about the committee that was my point. We needed to better define what we were doing and I was the only one voting no because that was not done.”
Supervisor John McCowen: “My recollection of the discussion is that we did talk about how we would ensure that the desired interest groups or specializations and diversity were achieved. I think one way to do that would be for us to consider all of the appointments in open session understanding that it is ultimately the supervisor's responsibility to decide on their three appointments which I am sure we would all honor. But discussing those all at once rather than bringing them forward in a piecemeal matter -- I think would be the best method to assure that we are meeting the interest groups and the diversity that we supported by adopting the resolution which incorporated by reference the document that was presented by the climate action startup group. We can certainly go forward with Supervisor Gjerde’s two appointments today but ideally we might bring the rest of them all back on the same agenda and I think that would be the best method for trying to achieve what Supervisor Williams indicated.”
Brown: “For the record, I'm opposed to what you're proposing.”
Gjerde: “I do appreciate the fact that Supervisor McCowen said he supports and Supervisor Williams said he supports the two appointments or nominees that I put forward. I think they are both very strong and will be positive additions to the committee. I'm currently seeking someone with a forestry background, a forestry manager who is actively sequestering carbon. [If all 15 members of the Advisory Committee could actively sequester carbon they might make a dent in the problem!]. The Redwood Forest Foundation is working with me to try to determine the right person. As you know they are sequestering carbon and I think that's an expertise and a partner that would be helpful for the committee.”
(Note to applicants: Be sure to mention that you actively sequester carbon in your application.)
Brown: “That potentially is going to be one of my appointments. I did find someone with a lot of expertise in that area [a professional carbon sequesterer?] that I think would really add to the committee. I have not brought my appointments forward because I do want to conduct interviews but there is an individual that I am strongly looking at that has that expertise area too.”
Multiply this inanity to include officials at all levels of government and, well, better re-think that 30-year mortgage.
There was no motion made, nor any vote taken. The two carbon sequesterers who Gjerde nominated were Fort Bragg city development Director Marie Jones, well known to readers of Rex Gressett’s Fort Bragg coverage, and Michael Potts, of Caspar, a hotbed of "big thinkers" who has absolutely zero record of interest in County affairs. Marie Jones was an outspoken and loyal defender of former Fort Bragg city manager Linda Ruffing and a critic of what she called "divisiveness" at the time that Ms. Ruffing, ahem, "retired."
Which is to say both will be carbon-stomping over the hill to Ukiah to reduce the county's carbon footprint, already invisible in the global imprints of the forces busily killing off the planet.
In his application, Potts wrote: “Climate change, whether anthropogenic or naturally cyclical, has been a deep concern of mine for more than 30 years. As a Board Member at Real Goods, and its Chief Technical Officer, I was asked to write a book, The New Independent Home, about ‘living under our own power,’ in other words, with a very small carbon footprint. Denis Hayes, founder of Earth Day, describes me as ‘a visionary with dirt under his fingernails’ and an expert on self-reliance. As a founding member of Caspar Community’s Board, I learned the importance of consensus, the best means to generate it, and the ability of small communities like mine [Caspar] to develop resilience. Resilience in the face of inevitable and possibly catastrophic change – the incidence of large firestorms is an example – requires a level of awareness and readiness that is at the center of my work.I am eager to help my County integrate this awareness, readiness, and resilience into its everyday life.”
Uh, applying a loose class angle glance to the wealthy little enclave of Caspar whose collective carbon footprint is at least twice the size of the Circle Trailer Park, Ukiah, resilience would be much easier to achieve.
Marie Jones, Fort Bragg: “I am the Community Development Director for the City of Fort Bragg. I have prepared a greenhouse gas inventory and a Climate Action Plan for the City of Fort Bragg. [Has Fort Bragg implemented any of these plans? You’d think she’d have mentioned it if they had.] I am also very knowledgeable about climate adaptation strategies and the impact of climate change on natural communities, sea level rise, sea acidification, agriculture, water availability, etc. I welcome the opportunity to serve on this board.”
As is every other reasonably informed global resident.
Diversity? Do the math. Two well-heeled Coasties should be offset by the first people likely to suffer the effects of climate change: five random residents of an inland trailer park, two indigenous citizens of Covelo, five Mexican immigrants (unpapered), and ten residents of Fort Bragg and Ukiah homeless shelters.
But seriously, the Climate Action Advisory Committee is shaping up as yet another collection of the usual suspects who will talk about good things and attempt to arrive at a "consensus" among people like themselves who can meet in the middle of a work day to talk nice thoughts and, like the many municipal advisory committees and the mental health advisory committee and the library advisory committee and the in-home services advisory committee and the health and human services advisory committee and the museum advisory committee and the resource advisory committee and the tourism advisory board and several others whose titles escape us at the moment, they will produce nothing — absolutely nothing — not even a single plausible recommendation. And even if they did, the board would say there’s no money in the budget or they are not of sufficient benefit, or are already doing something like it, not to mention the likely push back from the wine industry or the local timber industry or other farming activities if the committee managed to aim any recommendations at a Big Mendo Target.
We fondly recall Mendo’s grading ordinance advisory committee from a few years back, which was charged with achieving consensus before submitting their recommendations to the supervisors. Because some of the committee members were dead set against any kind of grading ordinance which might affect grape growers in Mendocino County, most of the pro-ordinance advisors resigned after a year or two of getting nowhere and the rest were unable to achieve consensus, thus there were no recommendations for the board and no grading ordinance to this day (except the state buildling code), leaving Mendo as the only northern California county not to have even a modest ag-related grading ordinance.
(Little Harvey Havoc, the tech mogul recently in the news for re-arranging a sizable area of Laytonville's topography to accommodate his grape vines, maintains a large-scale vineyard on precipitous slopes at Nararro, which would not be permitted in any other area of the state.)
In more than 30 years of following County affairs we have yet to see one single specific recommendation from an advisory committee that was implemented by the Supervisors. Not One. We will happily take any bets any reader would like to make at 10-1 odds that the Supervisors will never implement a single recommendation from this jive committee of carbon sequesterers, if they even make any, and we will even put a generous deadline on the bet of December 2020.