- Fish in the River
- 3rd District Candidates
- Palace Hotel Unsafe
- Burke's Best Books
- Twain for President
- Sweeney's College Gang
- Amazon Drones
- Black on Tea Party
- Urine Trouble
- Fracking Nuclear Waste
- Police Report
THE NAVARRO RIVER is looking pretty good, water is clear but not that high considering it's the middle of February. Most encouraging, though, was the sight of a school of good-size steelhead moving upstream near Philo on Sunday afternoon.
TOM WOODHOUSE of Willits has kicked off his campaign for 3rd District supervisor.
The candidate makes his way as a real estate salesman, and is one of several persons running for the open seat, incumbent John Pinches having announced his retirement.
Willits City councilman, Holly Madrigal, is the presumed frontrunner; she narrowly lost to Pinches last time around and is the only woman in the race.
YEP, CAL-OSHA has issued a stop-work order for the Palace Hotel, claiming the building is unsafe although the City of Ukiah has allowed work to proceed with debris removal. The structure has been unoccupied for years and has seen a series of owners come and go, among them several straight-up crooks who looted the building of its remaining marketable valuables. There's some question if the present owner, Ms. Eladia Laines of Marin, has the money to finance the extensive rehab work the building needs if it is to ever again be economically viable.
With the wedding announcement sent yesterday, I almost forgot my 10 best books...
- Mendocino Papers. Bruce Anderson
- Behind the Green Curtain, AVA stories
- Mendo Noir, AVA stories
- Pig Hunt, the movie, Robert Mailer Anderson. Still waiting for the paperback edition
- Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Dee Brown
- The Wolf At Twilight, Kent Nerburn
- In The Land of the Grasshopper Song, Elliot and Reed
- The Spirituality of Imperfection, Kurtz and Ketcham
- Life on the Mississippi, Mark Twain
- The Crash of 2016, Hartman
— Randy Burke, Gualala
MARK TWAIN CELEBRATES PRESIDENT'S DAY
Campaign Promises 1879: I have pretty much made up my mind to run for president. What the country wants is a candidate who cannot be injured by investigation of his past history, so that the enemies of the party will be unable to rake up anything against him that nobody ever heard of before. If you know the worst about a candidate to begin with, every attempt to spring things on him will be checkmated. Now I am going to enter the field with an open record. I am going to own up in advance to all the wickedness I have done, and if any congressional committee is disposed to prowl around my biography in the hope of discovering any dark and deadly deed that I have secreted, why—let it prowl. In the first place, I admit that I treed a rheumatic grandfather of mine in the winter of 1850. He was old and inexpert in climbing trees, but with the heartless brutality that is characteristic of me, I ran him out of the front door in his nightshirt at the point of a shotgun and caused him to bowl up a maple tree, where he remained all night, while I emptied shot into his legs. I did this because he snored. I will do it again if I ever have another grandfather. I am as inhuman now as I was in 1850. I candidly acknowledge that I ran away at the Battle of Gettysburg. My friends have tried to smooth over this fact by asserting that I did so for the purpose of imitating Washington, who went into the woods at Valley Forge for the purpose of saying his prayers. It was a miserable subterfuge. I struck out in a straight line for the Tropic of Cancer, because I was scared. I wanted my country saved, but I preferred to have somebody else save it. I entertain that preference yet.
MIKE SWEENEY is paid upwards of $100,000 a year as manager of the Mendocino Solid Waste Management Authority, meaning he's boss of the county's trash removal processes. Sweeney is also one of Mendocino County's more interesting citizens, having emerged from a youth as a member of a murderous, Stanford-based political cult led by an English professor called H. Bruce Franklin, to become a well-paid garbage bureaucrat. Many of us led sketchy lives in the frenetic 1960s as part of the general estrangement unleashed by the Vietnam War. Few of us, however, killed people or planted bombs in public places like Sweeney and his crew did.
And most of us drifted back into the system we'd spent our youths opposing to fight it from within, a kind of internal exile we might call it. Sweeney, however, continued to be linked to violent events only tangentially tied to political protest. By 1980 he was divorced from his first wife, Cynthia Denenholz, also a former Stanford radical, and married to Judi Bari. Denenholz, in a typical 60's re-entry trajectory, remarried a Santa Rosa attorney named Paul Jamond and became a family court magistrate with the Sonoma County Superior Court.
In 1980, Bari and Sweeney were widely suspected of blowing up an airplane hangar near their West Santa Rosa neighborhood. They were leading opposition to development of the site. A young man asleep in the hangar was nearly killed. (A more complete account of the airport episode can be found on our website in a long letter from Bob Williams, who managed the airport property.)
Estranged from Bari by 1990, Sweeney magically eluded prime suspect status when Bari was blown up and nearly killed by a car bomb that same year. Weakened by her injuries, Bari died in 1997, the same year journalist Steve Talbot announced on This Week In California, a KQED television news show, that Bari had told him that Sweeney had tried to kill her.
Bari, soon after the 1990 bombing, had petitioned the FBI for partial immunity from prosecution, certainly an indication that she knew who was responsible for the attempt on her life, if that's what it was.
The following article is from PaloAltoHistory.com. It describes Professor Franklin's revolutionary band and the psycho-social-political gestalt that formed Mendocino County's lead garbage bureaucrat.
VENCEREMOS: ARMING FOR A FIGHT
The late 1960s and early 1970s were a time of awkward cultural juxtaposition, both in the nation at large and here in Palo Alto. Today, pop culture sometimes simplifies those years as a time when the whole society turned into LCD-dropping, free-love-making hippies. But in reality, most Americans — especially outside big cities — were living a life a lot closer to the 1950s. While the counterculture certainly had a large influence on mainstream life, most Americans were still living according to the rules of the “silent majority.”
In a small university town like Palo Alto, the juxtaposition could be even stranger. While hometown locals might be marching in the May Fete Parade on Saturday morning, campus radicals would be clashing with police on Saturday night — all on the same street. It was a time when two countries existed side-by-side, sometimes engaging in a cultural civil war, sometimes pretending the other didn’t exist.
One example of this odd Palo Alto political juxtaposition was Venceremos, the Communist radical group headquartered in and around Palo Alto in those years. Founded in 1966 by Aaron Manganiello, the originally Latino left-wing protest organization was named for Che Guevera’s battle cry, “We will prevail!” By 1970, Venceremos had evolved into a multicultural Maoist/Communist revolutionary brigade that was a mainstay at any mid-Peninsula protest in those years. Under the leadership of Stanford Professor and Melville scholar H. Bruce Franklin (fired in 1972 for leading a student takeover of the university’s computer lab), Venceremos took an active role in community issues and demonstrations.
And these guys weren’t fooling around. Venceremos believed that “an unarmed people are subject to slavery at any time” and held vast amounts of weaponry to back it up. They had secret stashes of rifles, grenades, pipe bombs, and other explosives and they urged members to stay armed at all times — advice that was apparently followed. With their rifle logo and violent rhetoric, Venceremos startled the local population and caught the eye of federal law enforcement. Many believed they were one of the largest revolutionary groups in the country and a 1972 House Internal Security Committee Report called the group “a potential threat to the United States.”
Venceremos’ ultimate stated goal was the overthrow of the government. On their way to armed insurrection, their platform called for (among many other things): “The firing of…profit-motivated murderers, like David Packard and Richard Nixon,” “an end to the Fascist court system and fascist judges,” and “an education which exposes the lies and oppression created by the corrupt court system and teaches us the true history of oppressed people.” Venceremos were also enemies of the police and were convinced that “the best pigs are always dead pigs.” Pretty radical stuff.
But Venceremos stressed actions over rhetoric. In 1970, they opened a revolutionary community college in a Redwood City storefront that lasted until it ran out of money two years later. They were actively involved in an anti-drug campaign on the streets of Palo Alto in the summer of ’71 and later with the Palo Alto Drug Collective. They often showed up at City Council and School Board meetings in Palo Alto with a verbal aggressiveness never before seen in the city’s politics. At an August 1971 meeting, for instance, Jeffrey Youdelman shouted down school board members as “racist, fascist pigs.”
Venecermos members Sue Flores, Eleanor Kaplan, Gerry Foote and Mort Newman of Chester Street as photographed in their newsletter, Pamoja.
They also tried to win elections. In May of ’71, Venceremos ran Jean Hobson for City Council; she only garnered 798 votes, some 7,000 short of victory. Undaunted, Youdelman ran as a candidate in 1973, but he fared no better. Venceremos member Doug Garrett also ran for Palo Alto School Board and Joan Dolly ran in the 1972 Menlo Park City Council elections.
Venceremos was also part of the ever-present street protest scene that marked Palo Alto counterculture life in the late 1960s and early ‘70s.
Every Saturday night at 7pm, Venceremos held a rally with speakers and bands at Lytton Plaza, which was dubbed “The People’s Plaza.” This often led to clashes with police as the hour grew late and the music got louder.
The beginning of the end for Venceremos came in 1972, when a number of its members were involved in a headline-grabbing murder. The incident centered around a Venceremos recruit and prison inmate named Ronald Beaty. A habitual stick-up artist and con, Beaty was serving time for armed robbery and kidnapping at Chino Prison. He apparently had romantic ties to Jean Hobson —the former Venceremos candidate for Palo Alto City Council — that would lead to an attempt by the organization to help him escape.
Ronald Beaty became the star witness for the prosecution. Some Venceremos members later were a part of the SLA which famously kidnapped Patty Hearst.
On October 6, 1972, two unarmed prison guards were taking Beaty to a court appearance in San Bernardino when they were ambushed. According to police and Beaty, who would become the prosecution’s star witness, the government car was forced off a remote highway road near Chino. Four Venceremos members jumped out of two vehicles to set Beaty free. As they prepared to flee the scene, 23-year-old Venceremos member Robert Seabok shot both guards at point blank range, killing 24-year-old Jesus Sanchez and wounding his partner George Fitzgerald. Venceremos members Hobson, Seabok, Andrea Holman Burt and Benton Burt were named as the other ambushers. Both Hobson and Seabok were Palo Altans and neighbors, residing at 656 and 666 Channing Street.
Hobson and Beaty, possessing a trunkload of weapons, were arrested two months later on the Bay Bridge by San Francisco police without incident. Now wanted for murder on top of past convictions, prosecuting lawyers convinced Beaty to sing. He named the four members who helped him escape, fingered Robert Seabok as the gunman, and described how other members of Venceremos helped hide him in a rural San Mateo County mountain cabin for close to a month. Beaty pleaded guilty for his involvement in Sanchez’ death and received a life sentence.
All four Venceremos members would eventually be found guilty in subsequent trials. Jean Hobson, 19 year-old Andrea Holman Burt and 31 year-old Douglas Burt were all found guilty of second degree murder in 1973 and 1974, while Seabok got life imprisonment and a first degree murder conviction.
Following legal difficulties related to the incident at Chino, Venceremos began to come apart at the seams. Arguments erupted between various factions in the organization and members began to pull out and join other groups. Venceremos founder Aaron Manganiello also blamed a dope addict in the group’s central committee for stealing thousands of dollars from the treasury. By September of 1973, Venceremos had officially disbanded.
Many ex-Venceremos members went on to other organizations, including the Symbionese Liberation Army group that assassinated Oakland superintendent Dr. Marcus Foster at a School Board meeting in November 1973 and then kidnapped newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst in February of 1974. While the SLA never operated in Palo Alto, law enforcement saw substantial links between the two groups.
Today Venceremos has either been forgotten by Palo Altans or is remembered as part of the city’s wacky early '70s counterculture. But at their height in 1971 and ’72, when they were leading weekly rallies, advocating violent action and shouting down School Board members, Venceremos had more than a few Palo Altans spooked.
AMAZON EMPLOYS OR SUBCONTRACTS TENS OF THOUSANDS OF WAREHOUSE WORKERS, with seasonal variation, often building its fulfillment centers in areas with high unemployment and low wages. Accounts from inside the centers described the work of picking, boxing, and shipping books and dog food and beard trimmers as a high-tech version of the dehumanized factory floor satirized in Chaplin's "Modern Times." Pickers holding computerized handsets are perpetually timed and measured as they fast walk up to eleven miles per shift around a one-million square-foot warehouse, expected to collect orders in as little as 33 seconds. After watching footage taken by an undercover BBC reporter, a stress experts said, "The evidence shows increased risk of mental illness and physical illness." The company says that its warehouse jobs are "similar to jobs in many other industries."
Last September, lawyers brought a class action lawsuit against Amazon on behalf of a warehouse worker in Pennsylvania named Neil Heimbach for unpaid wages: employees at the fulfillment center outside Allentown must wait in line to pass through metal detectors and submit their belongings to be searched when they leave for lunch and at the end of their shifts. The process takes 10-20 minutes each time. Theft is a common concern in Amazon warehouses — no doubt the knock-on effects of the absence of bonds between the company and the ever shifting roster of low-paid employees.
None of Amazon's US workers belong to unions because the customer would suffer. A company executive told the New York Times that Amazon considers unions to be obstacles that would impede its ability to improve customer service. In 2011 the Allentown Morning Call published an investigative series with accounts of multiple ambulances being parked outside a warehouse during a heat wave to ferry overcome workers to emergency rooms. Afterward, Amazon installed air-conditioners although their arrival coincided with the expansion of grocery services. In any case, Amazon's warehouse jobs are gradually being taken over by robots. Jeff Bezos recently predicted to a gobsmacked Charlie Rose that in five years packages will be delivered by small drones. Then Amazon will have eliminated the human factor from shopping and we will finally be all alone with our purchases.
— George Packer
I DON’T KNOW if the Democrats or Republicans really know how to deal with the economy at all. It's amazing that this new party, the Tea Party, believes that it does. I waited my entire life for there to be a legitimate third party. I've been totally intolerant for quite some time of both Democrats and Republicans. But now the third-party shows up and this is what I got? Be careful what you wish for! I was attracted to them at first because they're a lot like me. They're angry. If anybody knows anger it's moi. And, they are crazy. I'm crazy! And we are angry and crazy for exactly the same reasons. The Democrats make us angry, and the Republicans make us crazy. Or switch it around if you wish. Whatever makes you laugh. It's extraordinary that they have convinced a group of people to bust out of their double-wides dressed as Ben Franklin holding a kite in one hand and a key in the other screaming, “DON'T TAX THE RICH!” If our leaders can convince a group of people who barely have a pot to piss in that the rich shouldn't be taxed, THAT is leadership!
— Lewis Black
I TRIED TO CATCH SOME FOG. I MIST.
When chemists die, they barium.
Jokes about German sausage are the wurst.
A soldier who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now a seasoned veteran.
I know a guy who's addicted to brake fluid. He says he can stop any time.
How does Moses make his tea? Hebrews it.
I stayed up all night to see where the sun went. Then it dawned on me.
This girl said she recognized me from the vegetarian club, but I'd never met herbivore.
I'm reading a book about anti-gravity. I can't put it down.
I did a theatrical performance about puns. It was a play on words.
They told me I had type A blood, but it was a type-o.
This dyslexic man walks into a bra.
I didn't like my beard at first. Then it grew on me.
A cross-eyed teacher lost her job because she couldn't control her pupils?
When you get a bladder infection, urine trouble.
What does a clock do when it's hungry? It goes back four seconds.
I wondered why the ball was getting bigger. Then it hit me!
Broken pencils are pointless.
What do you call a dinosaur with an extensive vocabulary? A thesaurus.
England has no kidney bank, but it does have a liverpool.
I used to be a banker, but then I lost interest.
I dropped out of communism class because of lousy marx.
All the toilets in London police stations have been stolen. Police say they have nothing to go on.
I took the job at a bakery because I kneaded dough.
Velcro — what a rip off!
A cartoonist has been found dead in his home. Details are sketchy.
FRACKING NUCLEAR WASTE — SAY WHAT?
by Amy MacPherson
Ontario residents have been kept in the dark, but Canada’s most populous province is about to become an unlikely and international battleground. After all, how many times does the Great White North threaten the drinking water of more than 40 million people, including their neighbours in America?
Legislators from south of the border have already taken issue with plans for a deep geologic repository. Less than a mile from the shores of Lake Huron, Bruce Power intends to store 200,000 cubic meters of nuclear waste within the natural rock formation. Senators and congressmen shared their dissent with the Canadian government, but the fed responded by sending police to the homes of eco protesters, in what some would call an act of intimidation.
It will take at least 300 years for the nuclear waste to decay, to a point that radioactive catastrophes are not a threat to human populations. This Kincardine, Ontario location was also chosen for its low seismic activity, reducing the likelihood of water and soil contamination by earthquake.
This much we’ve always known, due to the federal environment assessment that required public consultation. The Harper government has since levied time restrictions to speed the process along, but this is one project that was too big and too perilous to keep from the radar at all.
Seemingly unrelated, the controversy over fracking and in-situ technologies to harvest oil has been raging around the world. Ohio experts claim it causes earthquakes. Texans say it releases benzene and hydrogen sulfide in the air, causing everything from cancer to nosebleeds and skin rashes. British scientists say it causes radioactive contamination. Researchers at Duke University say it makes water flammable in Pennsylvania and New York, where investigators cite enough contamination to blow up homes with families in them. In Canada, the Idle No More movement continuously defends First Nations from plans to frack their tribal territory and there’s still the argument of numerous toxic chemicals used in the extraction process.
The topic of hydraulic fracturing is so polarizing that countless provinces, states and cities have sought a moratorium. The mayor of New York City added his voice to the opposition, with strong reservations about the impact to water safety. By contrast and north of this shared water source, scientists from Canada were abruptly silenced by the federal government and environmental laws were gutted, so there is no mechanism or freedom to complain above the forty-ninth parallel any longer.
This much we also knew, but how could it possibly relate to a nuclear waste dump?
Critics warned that sweeping changes to de-monitor water, curtail public input and failure to assess smaller power projects would have a grave and lasting impact on the Canadian ecosystem. They denounced newly legislated secrecy and threw their hands in the air when the government conducted a good old-fashioned, scientific book burning. They went so far as to accuse the Harper administration of oppressing Canadians for the sake of Alberta oil profits, meant to benefit the Prime Minister’s friends at a cost to every other industry in the country. With few studies or consultations required anymore, the public wouldn’t be privy to projects that conflict with each other either.
It was a Nostradamus moment that wouldn’t take a thousand years to come true. It’s just that our first example arises in Ontario, further east than they predicted when pitted against bitumen, LNG or coastal pipelines as the likely candidates. When people think about oil, they don’t naturally imagine the Great Lakes region as an epicenter for this development.
No one can blame residents for being remiss, when information became inaccessible to the public and for that matter to Americans who are impacted by Canadian activity. Former Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty claimed there would be no fracking until the province studied evidence to determine if the practice was safe. The new premier has never commented and no elected officials have alluded to anything different.
With all this government subterfuge from provincial and federal levels, the only way to learn about energy projects is through private company investor reports and knowing which ones to research now.
Bruce Power, meet Dundee Energy Limited. The former is an Ontario nuclear giant and the latter has the largest stake in Ontario oil. The two may operate side by side, but you’d never know from asking any level of government including municipal managers. These companies also favour the same rock formation, but for very different reasons.
Nuclear proponents believe the shale is strong enough to store radioactive waste, while oil competitors have chosen the area due to rich deposits and the porous nature of the same rock, making it a perfect specimen for fracking. It’s hard to see how both could be correct, but everyone drinking water along the Great Lakes is in the crosshairs of this corporate aggression.
From Neil Young to Yoko Ono, concerned stars have raised alarm bells regarding each of these topics, but no one thought to consider the impact of running these operations together. Fracking beside nuclear waste is a new concept for sure. The consequence of either practice is still a new frontier and combining them won’t be studied in Canada, nor will anyone be informed to care.
This situation is complicated by a few key players. Nuclear behemoth Bruce Power is technically owned by TransCanada Corp, that is better known for the KeystoneXL oil pipeline and tribulations visiting the White House. It’s also owned by Cameco, recently accused of tax evasion related to uranium sales. This partnership is completed by the retirement funds of municipal employees and the Power Workers Union, otherwise known as an affiliate of the left-wing labour movement and CUPE. As these strange bedfellows negotiate long term destruction of the environment for short term gain, the public is none the wiser because every brand of elected official appears to have taken a vow of silence.
In the case of Dundee Energy, it’s a subsidiary of the Dundee Corporation and federal Labour Minister Kellie Leitch was implicated in an alleged conflict of interest with this very consortium. While sitting on a board of directors for Dundee (REIT), Leitch was also debating legislation that impacted her environmentally averse tenants. In addition to meeting the needs of numerous oil clients under the Dundee real estate umbrella, this MP’s company position included an asset-based relationship with the National Energy Board (pgs 20-26).
The National Energy Board is Canada’s environmental regulator and the body that oversees public consultation in a situation like the Bruce Power nuclear waste dump. It no longer needs to conduct environmental hearings related to Dundee’s oil pursuits, as a result of the Labour Minister and Conservative government’s plight to de-monitor water and “streamline” approvals.
It’s now come to light that Leitch’s business associate was buying considerable land for oil extraction, with an eye for the riding she continues to represent. Dundee Energy also purchased junior speculators with rights to harvest oil in Ontario, around the same time she was named a trustee to the sister company with shared executives.
For context, the Labour Minister’s family established the Fort McMurray oil sands town in Alberta, before her career was transferred to Ontario where the process may be repeating. This time brings us to Collingwood, Ontario and begins with thousands of acres around Blue Mountain that the oil industry took an interest in.
This location boasts a farming heartland and world class ski resort, with waterside tourism in the summer. It’s unlikely Intrawest realizes the surrounding property is on the fracking horizon. It doesn’t bode well for stable snow formations if earthquakes are indeed caused by fracking. Yacht owners may pull their boats from oil-slicked waters and tourism around the protected Niagara Escarpment Biosphere may soon resemble the tar sands on this deregulated trajectory. The groundwaters sustaining agriculture in the bins at your local grocery store may also become poisonous if the experience of early adopters is any indication.
To manage a complex and conflicting set of developments, here’s a recap to give clarity that illuminates who might have known what.
1857 – 1863: Canada’s first shale gas operation was founded in Collingwood, Ontario. It originally supplied the market in Toronto. This enterprise eventually failed due to competition from Lambton County and this local history would be forgotten, until the present day when it’s repeated.
April 2008: Bruce Power begins drilling boreholes to test Collingwood, Blue Mountain, Georgian Bay and Manitoulin shales, in preparation for the nuclear waste deep geologic repository. A layout of the project is included, depicting the proximity to Lake Huron and a railway passing directly above the proposed radioactive location.
September 2008: Mooncor begins aggressive acquisition of Ontario shale oil assets. They have access to 23,000 acres with the ability to develop Collingwood and Blue Mountain formations.
November 2008: The Ontario Petroleum Institute holds an annual conference. Sponsors include Talisman and Torque Energy, as well as Enbridge, Haliburton and the US Energy Development Corp. Exhibitors include the Government of Newfoundland and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. The latter presents “Shale Gas Opportunities in Ontario” during the session dedicated to fracking. The Ontario Power Generation also speaks about the Bruce Power waste site. That seminar is sandwiched between the effect of petrochemicals and how to fight back against eco protesters.
February 2009: A Calgary based oil and gas consultant is hired to conduct seismic testing for the Ontario Bruce Power nuclear site. Data is borrowed from a nearby Texaco well and Shell oil pipeline. Many gas wells are noted in the area and previous studies failed to indicate a seismic fault line. With newer technology however, faults were discovered around the nuclear site and this information will be submitted to the National Energy Board.
May 2009: The federal government finalizes a process of environmental review for the proposed Bruce Power nuclear waste site.
November 2009: The Ontario Petroleum Institute holds an annual conference. Sponsors include Torque Energy, Talisman Energy and Enbridge. Shale gas opportunities are promoted in Ontario and the Minister of Natural Resources is a keynote speaker this year. Numerous reps from the Ontario government provide seminars as well as a report for oil companies, enticing hundreds of new explorations. The Collingwood and Blue Mountain deposits are given special attention, closest to the nuclear waste site. Health Canada is also an exhibitor.
March 2010: Central Ontario oil was predominantly owned by Mooncor and Talisman Energy. The Dundee Corporation purchases “the largest accumulation of oil and natural gas assets in Ontario” for $131 million from Talisman, to overtake their interest in the area.
June 2010: Simcoe and Bruce Counties experience an uncharacteristic earthquake. The area surrounding a proposed nuclear waste dump and fracking locale, shakes enough to startle half the province awake.
October 2010: The Ontario Petroleum Institute holds an annual conference. Sponsor information was withheld this year, but exhibitors include the Canadian Consulate General and various members of the Ontario government. Keynote speakers include disgraced Congressman Chris Lee (R-NY) and seminars are provided by the Ministry of Natural Resources, in addition to the Ministry of Northern Development. Dundee Energy updated their progress in purchasing Ontario shale assets, as the government updated its list of shale assets for promotion. Additional seminars were offered regarding hydraulic fracturing and the difficulty moving enough sand, water and chemicals to supply the fracking industry.
April 2011: The Bruce Power nuclear site tests for the presence of gas. It’s found in the Collingwood, Blue Mountain and Georgian Bay formations, among others. Upon detailed analysis, the highest concentration of oil is noted in the Collingwood shale samples (closest to the nuclear repository), while the highest gas concentrations can be found in the Blue Mountain companion. This study and many more were submitted to the National Energy Board.
April 2011: Mooncor creates spinoff company DRGN Resources to handle its Ontario shale oil and gas assets. The long term strategy includes overtaking smaller companies to become a major player in the province.
May 2011: Kellie Leitch is elected Member of Parliament for Simcoe-Grey, after accusations of being parachuted from out of town. This riding consists of Collingwood, Blue Mountain and much of Georgian Bay. She still works with Dundee REIT and will not resign the executive position until the end of the next quarter, representing both the public and a corporation at the same time.
June 2011: Dundee Energy Limited establishes 100 percent ownership of its Ontario oil assets, further retained by the Dundee conglomerate as the parent company. New horizontal wells are planned for extraction.
June 2011: Several fish begin dying in Lake Simcoe. It’s part of the same glacial movement that created the Great Lakes system and it’s a 30 minute drive from the shores of Lake Huron. A magnificent amount of oil and gas tests are occurring at the same time (from government, the fracking and nuclear industries), but this is not considered a possible culprit because the public is unaware.
August 2011: Dundee Energy purchases Torque Energy – a former sponsor of the Ontario Petroleum Institute and a remaining holdout competitor. Torque Energy includes oil assets in Ontario and the acquisition helps to pad Dundee’s dominant market share.
September 2011: Mooncor retains a small amount of stock in Torque Energy, now owned by the Dundee corporation (pg. 12). At the end of this month, Member of Parliament Kellie Leitch resigns from her position with Dundee’s real estate branch as well.
October 2011: The Ontario Petroleum Institute holds an annual conference. Sponsors include Dundee Energy, Torque Energy (under Dundee ownership) and Mooncor (with stock interest in Dundee). Keynote speakers include the Mayor of London and First Nations elders. Seminars are provided by the federal government’s Indian Oil and Gas Canada agency, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ontario Energy Board. Topics covered Aboriginal affairs and fracking, with a hydrofracturing demonstration to close the event.
October 2011: Six thousand dead birds and fish scatter the shores of Wasaga Beach. It’s the longest freshwater beach in the entire world and lines much of Georgian Bay, connecting to Collingwood at Lake Huron. Both shale formations were being tested for oil and gas reserves, but botulism is the suspected culprit with little explanation regarding changes to the lake’s chemistry. The area never saw a die-off like this before and experts were left to guess a reason.
November 2011: Mooncor engages the Dundee conglomerate for help to raise $5 million toward expansion.
November 2011: An executive lawyer for Bruce Power and the nuclear waste site is appointed to the Ontario Centre of Excellence, to guide the provincial economy. This centre is funded by the Ontario government and Bruce Power continues to be owned by the same curious partners.
May 2012: Thousands of dead fish appear on the shores of Lake Simcoe. The second time is worse than the first. The Ministry of Natural Resources waited a number of months before informing the public of a widespread infection and no detailed cause was ever given.
September 2012: The Ontario government promotes shale fuel extraction at a conference in the United States. Collingwood, Blue Mountain and Georgian Bay formations are the focus, with 31 percent oil saturation and 77 percent gas saturation to encourage deeper investment. One of the wells cited is adjacent to the Bruce Power nuclear waste site. (A similar situation between oil wells and nuclear generators occurs in the Pickering location on Lake Ontario.)
September 2012: Dundee Energy invests $13.7 million in Ontario assets. Another $3.4 million is spent to acquire maps with seismic data, needed to plan the next harvesting sites. Inland extraction has become a priority to increase production, that offsets lower gas prices affected by greater American penetration and the Canadian petro dollar. A rig is purchased to assist with new drilling, allowing expansion in the Toronto gas market. In the process, they reserve $3.3 million for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, in anticipation of future environmental costs.
October 2012: The Ontario Petroleum Institute holds an annual conference. The sponsor list is excluded again, but the Ministry of Natural Resources, Conservative MPP Bob Bailey and a National Post editor were mentioned as speakers. Embattled Liberal Energy Minister Chris Bentley was invited to give the keynote address and topics narrowly focused on pipelines, fracking and promoting Ontario’s shale assets for exploration.
November 2012: The Ontario government releases a comprehensive report (490 pages) meant to attract investment, reform applicable laws and assist corporations in negotiating with First Nations. Shale gas and oil in the Collingwood, Blue Mountain, Georgian Bay, Nottawasaga and Manitoulin areas is given special attention (pgs. 222-240), with specific mention of fuels (pgs. 275-286). Each is promoted as having the best potential for fracking related extraction. At least 360 samples were tested from wells and new boreholes in the years preceding, as part of the larger “shale gas assessment project” the public was never informed about. Groundwater mapping for Simcoe County is thoroughly noted (pgs. 295-306) and includes data from Lake Huron to Georgian Bay, Lake Simcoe, the Nottawasaga River, Newmarket Till and Oak Ridges Moraine. It is further identified as one of the most significant glacial aquifers, responsible for drinking water obtained from the Great Lakes and every connecting path from Canada to Chicago, Illinois.
November 2012: At the same time Ontario promoted shale extraction, Premier Dalton McGuinty informed the media there was no reason to worry about fracking in the province. He offered this reassurance despite public objection to Dundee Energy and Mooncor buying land for the same purpose. This message was supported by the Ministry of Natural Resources when they confirmed one new shale well was drilled, but denied any knowledge of plans to continue. All political parties responded as if the premise of fracking was hypothetical, but each shared a connection to this series of concrete developments. The Liberal government spent millions to encourage fracking extraction and accepted millions from interested companies. Elected Conservatives spoke at fracking events and/or occupied an executive table with the most aggressive corporation. The NDP also enjoys considerable input from the labour movement, as business partners with an oil giant involved in testing the area.
June 2013: Dundee Energy plans to invest $13.2 million in new Ontario wells and exploration to increase production. Another $2 million will be spent to map 314 kilometers of prospective shale opportunities. The corporation pays an extra $270,000 to the Ministry of Natural Resources in anticipation of future abandonment costs (pgs. 8, 28). This expansion is again reported to offset losses incurred by the American market and complication from the petro dollar (pgs. 10-13).
September 2013: Dundee’s rig is used in Lambton County, Ontario to fracture-stimulate a new well. Additional projects are planned for summer the next year.
October 2013: The Ontario Petroleum Institute holds an annual conference. This time it’s at the Windsor casino and sponsors are dwindling as companies are bought up, but Dundee Energy has attained the gold level. Seminars are provided by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Dundee itself, regarding radial jet drilling and its benefits to the fracking industry. This talk was followed by a presentation regarding the Blue Mountain shale formation and the majority of that day was dedicated to hydraulic fracturing topics. The smaller event was then closed by the Ontario Minister of Rural Affairs. It should be noted that a few days earlier, First Nations made international news with a government standoff against fracking. A Chief close to Bruce Power was also protesting the nuclear waste dump.
In other curious developments, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources defers to the oil industry as its spokesperson. Visiting the government internet page to learn about provincial resources not only misinforms about Ontario’s history (forgetting Collingwood as the first producer), but it also directs readers to the “Discovery Education Centre“ as the government’s source for facts.
It just so happens the Discovery Education Centre is owned by Discovery Drilling Funds. They were purchased by LongBow Energy Corp and this business is steeped in the Alberta oil sands. Head office is located in Calgary, Alberta and one of the key executives is a former Koch Petroleum manager (of Koch Industries fame). It’s unclear why a private group of five western oil companies is now speaking for the Government of Ontario.
Regarding competition between fracking and nuclear waste, the town of Walkerton, Ontario is located at the midpoint between them. Driving half an hour west, residents will arrive at Bruce Power and driving half an hour east, they’ll arrive at the heavily promoted Collingwood oil deposits. If they dare to drive south, they’ll arrive at Sarnia’s petrochemical industry and advanced plans for fracking in Lambton County as well.
This tiny hamlet was foisted to world news when the water supply was contaminated and more than 2,300 residents became severely ill. Several died. Criminal charges were laid. The Conservative government of the day was blamed for legislation that privatized the testing of water safety. Now the same families may serve as a test, to see what happens when government policy allows fracking beside nuclear waste, fourteen years later in a repeat performance.
Everyone who obtains drinking water associated with the Great Lakes will also be affected, if any part of this experiment goes wrong. And despite Ontario denying plans to frack, taxpayers footed the bill to produce widespread tests for shale oil, in addition to yearly seminars designed to entice extraction.
These water tables come from one of the most important Precambrian aquifers. It supplies the local area and stretches deep into the United States. This underground water highway also supports Toronto and all the towns branching out along the way. The only thing that doesn’t appear to support 40 million North Americans, is politics north of the border and its friends in the energy industry. If all bureaucracies have skin in the game, who’s left to speak for the water?
POLICE LOG AS OF SUNDAY MORNING
The following were compiled from reports prepared by the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office:
DUI — Cynthia R. Jenkins, 60, of Laytonville, was arrested at 10:43 a.m. Wednesday on suspicion of driving under the influence and booked at the county jail under $15,000 bail. The California Highway Patrol arrested her.
DUI With Priors — Hermilo Bermudez Tinoco, 41, of Fort Bragg, was arrested at 2:25 p.m. Wednesday on suspicion of driving under the influence, driving with a blood-alcohol level greater than the legal limit, driving with a suspended license and having a fourth or subsequent DUI conviction within 10 years of other convictions, and booked at the county jail under $50,000 bail. The CHP arrested him.
Vehicle Theft, Drug Sales — Travis L. Schroeder, 44, of Laytonville, was arrested at 4:20 p.m. Wednesday on suspicion of vehicle theft and possessing a controlled substance for sale, and booked at the county jail under $15,000 bail. The MCSO arrested him.
Marijuana Sales — Robert A. Massarelli, 44, of Fort Bragg, was arrested at 7:34 p.m. Wednesday on suspicion of possessing marijuana for sale and cultivating marijuana, and booked at the county jail under $25,000 bail. The Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force arrested him.
Marijuana Sales — Shelly A. Azmi, 44, of Fort Bragg, was arrested at 8:52 p.m. Wednesday on suspicion of possessing marijuana for sale and cultivating marijuana, and booked at the county jail under $25,000 bail. The MMCTF arrested her.
DUI — Richard K. Johnson, 45, of Hopland, was arrested at 1:15 a.m. Thursday on suspicion of driving under the influence, resisting arrest and violating his probation terms, and booked at the county jail. The MCSO arrested him.
Assault With A Deadly Weapon — Walter R. McIlvain, 50, of Petaluma, was arrested at 7:50 a.m. Thursday on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon other than a gun and booked at the county jail under $30,000 bail. The MCSO arrested him.
Abuse — Kenneth F. Partridge, 45, of Fort Bragg, was arrested at 10 a.m. Thursday on suspicion of elder or dependent adult abuse, possessing drug paraphernalia and petty theft, and booked at the county jail under $10,000 bail. The MCSO arrested him.
DUI — Jamai E. Gayle, 30, of San Francisco, was arrested at 11:05 p.m. Thursday on suspicion of driving under the influence, driving with a blood-alcohol level greater than the legal limit and possessing marijuana hashish, and booked at the county jail under $5,000 bail. The CHP arrested him.
Domestic Violence — Timothy C. Hiatt, 48, of Willits, was arrested at 2:58 p.m. Thursday on suspicion of domestic assault and booked at the county jail under $25,000 bail. The Willits Police Department arrested him.
Marijuana Sales — Sara A. Hill, 29, of Willits, was arrested at 6:25 p.m. Thursday on suspicion of possessing marijuana for sale and booked at the county jail under $25,000 bail. The MCSO arrested him.
Drug Manufacture — Anthony J. Stillwell, 37, of Willits, was arrested at 6:30 p.m. Thursday on suspicion of manufacturing a controlled substance by chemical extraction and conspiracy, and booked at the county jail under $50,000 bail. The MCSO arrested him.
Marijuana Sales, Transport — Skye C. Hathaway, 25, of Ukiah, was arrested at 8:56 a.m. Friday on suspicion of possessing marijuana for sale, transporting marijuana for sale, driving with a suspended license and failing to appear in court, and booked at the county jail under $45,000 bail. The CHP arrested her.
Drug Manufacture — Kyle D. Huff, 26, of Bellevue, Ohio, was arrested at 10:53 a.m. Friday on suspicion of manufacturing a controlled substance by chemical extraction, and booked at the county jail under $50,000 bail. The MMCTF arrested him.
Drug Manufacture — Tyler M. Smith, 21, of Sylacuga, was arrested at 11:51 a.m. Friday on suspicion of manufacturing a controlled substance by chemical extraction, and booked at the county jail under $50,000 bail. The MMCTF arrested him.
Marijuana Sales — David A. Jeffreys, 46, of Laytonville, was arrested at 2:35 p.m. Friday on suspicion of possessing marijuana for sale and booked at the county jail under $75,000 bail. The MCSO arrested him.