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Coast Parks & Rec Update

Recently these pages described the resignation of John Huff from the Mendocino Coast Recreation & Park District (MCRPD) and his decision a few days later to run for the same seat in this November's election. The previous AVA piece also highlighted a portion of the minutes of the June 17th MCRPD meeting when the district's board received a report from a meeting two days prior with the State Parks Department. Part of that report states that State Parks believed MCRPD “had inappropriate conduct with the relationship between MCRPD and CRA [California Recreation Alliance]. They [State Parks] will not accept grant matches from CRA.”

The minutes from the June 17 meeting also describe MCRPD Board member Barbara Burkey stating that the problem is bigger than the relationship with CRA. She cited Katherine Tobias of State Parks asking that the board members involved in the bidding process step down from MCRPD's board. The minutes conclude this with, “The appearance of impropriety is unacceptable.”

Further perusal of those minutes, along with other sourcing, has made it clear that the three members of MCRPD requested to leave the board are John Huff, Kirk Marshall, and Bob Bushansky. The June 17 minutes reflect Marshall responding by saying he didn't feel he had done anything wrong. Quoting the minutes, which paraphrase Marshall's expression, “He [Marshall] has done everything in good faith, and he believes all along the State has been trying to run the clock out, so they do not have to release the funds. He feels the three board members have been marked tainted without being officially accused, tried, and convicted and that is not right.”

Mr. Marshall's term of office is up at the end of this year. According to county clerk records, he has not filed for re-election. MCRPD Board member Bob Bushansky is not up for re-election. The June 17th minutes reflect a statement by Bushansky to the effect that no one has made money from the grant.

Bushansky hosts a KZYX radio show, has been a member of that public radio station's board, and made himself available to Bay Area radio as some sort of expert on the name change question surrounding the City of Fort Bragg. Bushansky's name appeared prominently in a cover letter attached to a petition asking for a name change for the coast's largest municipality. That cover letter not only grossly misspelled the name of 4th District Supervisor Dan Gjerde, it couldn't even get right the name of  the man who dubbed the locale Fort Bragg. Bushanky's letter claimed the U.S. Army officer's name was Lt. Bishop when the real figure was Horatio Gates Gibson.

Bushansky is essentially an arrogant tool for a sort of knee-jerk coastal “liberalism” that thinks it is the one and only shining path to true progressive enlightenment. In furtherance of such, Bushansky is not beneath dirty tricks that one used to associate with right wing politicos like Lee Atwater and Karl Rove. The 2014 Fort Bragg City Council election race brings back memories of Bushansky playing the conniver. Readers interested in the lengthy details, check out AVA articles from mid October, 2014.  

The problem for the three board members stems from a grant that would provide about $2.5 million for a fence to be built around MCRPD's property off Highway 20, a few miles east of Fort Bragg. The grant writer was Sarah Bradley Huff, wife of board member John Huff. Already, readers may see a red flag warning. Given the benefit of the doubt, one might say that in rural areas these overlaps can happen. Mrs. Huff is also executive director of a group called California Recreation Alliance (CRA). Reportedly, one of the other members of CRA is also an operator of the company MCRPD has seemingly awarded the bid for construction of the $2.5 million fence project. Each one of those sentences throws off more conflict of interest red flags. There was no recusal of Mr. Huff when it came time to vote on the project. Apparently, Huff, Marshall, and Bushansky voted in favor of awarding the $2.5 million contract to the company that has a key player who also participates in the California Recreation Alliance with Mrs. Huff, who is a grant writer for MCRPD.

State Parks reaction to all this appears to have been to cut off MCRPD from any more grants. The problem has escalated to the point that State Parks called for Huff, Marshall, and Bushansky to step down from the MCRPD board. Huff initially did so then a few days later announced he would run for a board seat again in the November election. Four other candidates are vying with him for two long term posts on the board. Marshall has tacitly acceded to the demand by not running for re-election, but has not stepped down as of this writing. Bushansky is not up for re-election and the odds of his ego allowing him to step down? Well, figure that for yourself.

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