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Mendocino County Today: Monday, September 22, 2014

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BLACK SUNDAY. The Giants are swept by the Padres, losing 8-2 Sunday afternoon in San Diego. The 49ers play one-half a winning game against the Cardinals, lose the second half badly, a grim fact some people blame on three bad calls by the refs. And they were bad calls. The Niner vibe seems off. They've lost poise. The cameras pick up guys bitching to each other on the sidelines. The play calling remains positively weird. Kaep has been fined 12 grand for calling a defensive back the N Word. Which seems beyond strange given that the N Word is commonly thrown back and forth among black players during games, and Kaepernick himself is black. It's as if pro football is suddenly being run by Miss Manners. The refs got seriously in the way of play Sunday.

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ALL THE TALK in Sacramento about protecting the vulnerable elderly, and a mere eight months after our state reps vowed to make changes in the state licensing of assisted-living homes, the assisted living associations got all reform stymied. The big talk about reform began when immobilized old people were found abandoned at a home in Castro Valley whose proprietors had simply disappeared.

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LAKE MENDOCINO is down to about 25 percent of capacity, presenting a distressing mud hole-like visual which keeps visitors away. Mendocino County’s Russian River Flood Control and Water Conservation Improvement District to the rescue! Well, not exactly, but the agency partially controls releases from the lake and has gotten an agreement to save some of the water that's left for November releases to help the few fish left in the Russian River survive the drought. In the meantime, releases from Lake Mendocino have been cut back, a fact you can see for yourself where the reduced Russian no longer rushes alongside Highway 101 between Hopland and Cloverdale.

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MEDIA STORIES on inland water issues are, to say the least, a confusing mishmash of acronyms and dubious figures. Look at it this way: Because of the drought, the Eel River is down to a trickle. The Eel River is partially stored at Lake Pillsbury, which is in Lake County. Lake Pillsbury’s releases are also controlled by an array of agencies. Those releases are partially diverted through a ridge above Potter Valley, with the diverted waters flowing through a mile-long tunnel into Potter Valley and down to Lake Mendo and on into the upper Russian River. The drought has pretty much dried up the whole show, which is precarious to begin with because it was designed in its early 20th century beginnings to electrify tiny Ukiah, not supply water for a now very large 21st century population of people and vineyards from Potter Valley to Healdsburg.

GIVEN THE PRECARIOUSNESS of the supply, what is needed is a basic re-think of somehow stabilizing water supplies up and down the Russian River. Supervisor Pinches has been the only elected official in the four counties directly affected — Lake, Humboldt, Mendo, and Sonoma — to consistently try to make this happen. Pinches has also been plugging away to expand and create water storage systems. Now that he's leaving office, it is unlikely there will even be a voice for sensible water policy, especially with the neo-draw on the Russian by wine interests who don't play well with others.

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WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL is an insipid fantasia about De LaSalle High, a tiny Catholic school located in Concord, California, 20 miles east of Oakland. The plot is based on fact—De La Salle’s 151-game winning streak—and centers on the team’s saintly head coach, Bob Ladouceur, who not only runs his boys through drills in the blistering heat but schools them in scripture. Ladouceur is played by Jim Caviezel, most famous for bleeding profusely in Mel Gibson’s BDSM epic, The Passion of the Christ. We are meant to see Coach Lad as a gentle shepherd, full of lessons about humility and brotherhood. Naturally, the whole team kneels in prayer before the big game, reciting the Lord’s Prayer. Then they go out and deliver big, bone-crushing hits unto their enemies, just like Jesus taught them. All of these hits are lovingly choreographed, eerily amplified, and filmed with a barely suppressed eroticism—soft-core porn for the nostalgic jock in all of us.

IT WILL NOT COME as a shock to anyone with a functioning frontal lobe that When the Game Stands Tall was released by Sony’s faith-based imprint, Affirm Films. The film is clearly aimed at those viewers who have somehow convinced themselves that the Gospel of Jesus Christ involves exhorting young boys to play a violent game. As it is written in the Book of Matthew, But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

THIS WOULD certainly help explain why star running back Chris Ryan (Alexander Ludwig) insists on staying in a big game, even though he’s had his nose bloodied and, mostly like, his cerebellum scrambled. “The only way I’m going out of this game is on a stretcher,” he snarls. Or on a cross, presumably.

(— on-line review)

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Down, wanton, down! Have you no shame

That at the whisper of Love's name,

Or Beauty's, presto! up you raise

Your angry head and stand at gaze?

Poor bombard-captain, sworn to reach

The ravelin and effect a breach--

Indifferent what you storm or why,

So be that in the breach you die!

Love may be blind, but Love at least

Knows what is man and what mere beast;

Or Beauty wayward, but requires

More delicacy from her squires.

Tell me, my witless, whose one boast

Could be your staunchness at the post,

When were you made a man of parts

To think fine and profess the arts?

Will many-gifted Beauty come

Bowing to your bald rule of thumb,

Or Love swear loyalty to your crown?

Be gone, have done! Down, wanton, down!

— Robert Graves

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1745: I repeat my former Advice: that in all your Amours you should prefer old Women to young ones. You call this a Paradox, and demand my Reasons? They are these:

  1. Because as they have more Knowledge of the World and their Minds are better stor’d with Observations, their Conversation is more improving and more lastingly agreeable.
  2. Because when Women cease to be handsome, they study to be good. To maintain their Influence over Men, they supply the Diminution of Beauty by an Augmentation of Utility. They learn to do a 1,000 Services small and great, and are the most tender and useful of all Friends when you are sick. Thus they continue amiable. And hence there is hardly such a thing to be found as an old Woman who is not a good Woman.
  3. Because there is no hazard of Children, which irregularly produc’d may be attended with much Inconvenience.
  4. Because thro’ more Experience, they are more prudent and discreet in conducting an Intrigue to prevent Suspicion. The Commerce with them is therefore safer with regard to your Reputation.

(— Ben Franklin)

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Esteemed Editor:

Please print this note of great thanks to the AVAS crew salvaging me from the broken wrist and torn hand farm accident five weeks ago.

Within half an hour of my emergency phone call a crack crew and equipment arrived at my door and delivered me to the Ukiah Emergency Room door an hour and a half later. The team included Judy and Garth Long, Art Hatcher, Kyle Clark, Roy Laird, Keevan Lynch, Sarah McCarter, Andres Avila, Angela DeWitt, Del Beuerlein.

A Reminder to us all: The Anderson Valley Ambulance Service, along with the Fire Department, is there for us all, 24 hours a day, they are skilled, but they are volunteers dependent on our local informal tax system called contributions, to perform their craft and keep their schedule commitment. As the year end arrives remember with a check the AVAS's value to the whole community.

Brad Wiley, Navarro

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Hello Friends,

I am not taking any endorsements in my race for a seat on the Fort Bragg City Council. I want to represent you the people, not any specific group who has an agenda they will expect me to uphold. I will not be beholden to anybody except the citizens of Fort Bragg. I will not take any money from any large corporations for this exact same reason. I do not believe corporations are people and I was disappointed in the McCutcheon Supreme Court decision. All my donations are from individuals and all but two of them have been $99 or less. Do not rely on others to tell you how to vote or what I stand for. Please do me the courtesy of approaching me yourself! I am a lifelong Democrat and not ashamed to say so. There seems to be a polarization forming in our city and I believe I am the best candidate to bring us all together. Isn't it exciting to have a hard fought election again in Fort Bragg?

Jessie mentioned in her email to you all that it is a shame only a small percentage of the voters get to vote. Had I not entered this election NONE of you would have been able to vote because there would not have been an election.

3 candidates + 3 seats = 0 election.

Go to my Facebook page, Lindy Peters for Fort Bragg, CA. City Council. If you have a group of people who would like me to make an appearance, please let me know. Let me address your questions. Let me explain my positions. Let me define my candidacy. Don't depend on others to do this for you. That is all I ask. And no matter who you support, please vote on November 4th!

Lindy Peters, Candidate, Fort Bragg City Council

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Hi Bruce,

Thanks for mentioning the death of Steve Neuroth. In Off the Record, Sept 10th you reported that he was found dead in his cell at the County Jail. Steve worked for me as a laborer 20 years ago and was well known in Ukiah. He also had friends and family in the Laytonville area. Steve came around to various contractors' job sites and often got to make a bit of money doing clean up and other chores. Steve loved music and I believe played some guitar himself. Steve was a gentle soul trying to make his way as best he could.


I was in contact with Steve just prior to his death as he came by my job site looking for a little work. He was in good spirits and, while he looked a bit thin, he appeared healthy. I last saw him on the Thursday before he died, standing at the bus stop on State Street by Safeway.

I am very interested in the autopsy results as in my contacts with him he never appeared under the influence of drugs or alcohol or of being severely depressed. So when the newspaper reported he was picked up for being under the influence, something didn’t seem right.

Thank you again for keeping the circumstances of Steve’s death at least on the table.

Please keep asking the question. There are a lot of us who want to know what happened.

Hugh McAvoy, Ukiah

ED NOTE: We want to get the DA's report on Mr. Neuroth's death. The last time we checked it still hadn't been finalized.

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Local communities against broadband giants.

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I was delighted to see a couple of recent letters to the editor written by Richard Shoemaker and well known local architect Bob Axt, pointing out the imminent threat to life and limb that is posed by the decrepit hulk of the old Palace Hotel. As I have observed in previous letters on the subject, the unreinforced brick structure, looming several stories over the public sidewalk, is likely to collapse like a house of cards in any significant seismic event, a potential catastrophe the likelihood of which was recently underscored by the serious temblor in Napa, which did so much damage there.

Just as I had predicted in a letter shortly after the City Council handed down its set of deadlines to the Palace's owner, Ms. Laines, of course she did not meet any of them. It has been self-evident for years that the rebuilding of the Palace in its present form is simply WAY outside of the realm of economic feasibility; whether the project is headed by the hapless Ms. Laines or anyone else, such as a publicly appointed receiver, there is simply no conceivable enterprise that could take place there (other than, say, the new courthouse or some other money-is-no-object public project) that could pay the note on even half of the cost of its restoration. Why, oh why, does the City Council refuse to acknowledge this obvious fact? How many years of foot dragging and 'dog ate my homework'-type excuses will it take before the Council realizes that sooner or later it is going to have to hug this tar baby of a project; it's easy to understand why the city Council prefers to engage in wishful thinking with regard to this matter, as the Palace, by the time it is properly dismantled, is strictly a liability, rather than an asset.

Make no mistake though; eventually this disaster waiting to happen MUST be torn down. I suppose that if the Council is able to cajole the clueless owner of the structure into purging it of its asbestos content before it falls into public ownership, bravo; it will save the taxpayers the cost of that part of the eventual demolition, but it will simply be more rearrangement of the deck chairs on the Titanic. We will have to wait and see how long the city Council's patience will last with the owner's perpetual tardiness.

It's not as if the building is some kind of architectural treasure; just look at the beautiful bases of the cast-iron columns visible through holes in the front wall. Some brilliant remodeling designer, sometime during the building's history, came up with the idea of burying those beautiful pieces of artwork behind a completely nondescript wall. Sure hope I can buy them from whoever eventually tears the building down; they are the nicest thing about the whole building, finally visible, if only a small part, because there are gaping holes in the front wall.

The city Council, in its wisdom, has seen fit to eliminate a number of prime downtown parking spaces to make room for sidewalk dining; the footprint of the Palace could provide much-needed parking for the downtown, until such time as someone with the resources and a realistic plan for a 'higher and better' use for the property comes along. Right now all the building does is drag down the nearby property values and make our whole town look crumbling and crummy.


John Arteaga, Ukiah

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To the Editor:

I would like to Thank Mr. Finley Williams for his response letter to the editor, and also express my appreciation to all 19 members of the Mendocino County Grand Jury. I have worked for the Mendocino County Office of Education for over 20 years and their report brought out the issues at hand. I was personally affected by the decisions that were made by upper management. I believe there could have been a different approach and timing to the way things were done. I feel that the Grand Jury did not receive the respect and recognition that they so deserve. I would hope that the general public knows that their reports should be taken seriously. I can remember the time when Jack Ward, former Superintendent of MCOE came under fire with a Grand Jury Report which ultimately led to his demise and prosecution. A perfect example of the importance of the Grand Jury.

My colleagues and I at MCOE are now focusing on the change and hopes of the future.

In closing I would like to sum up with this quote from Abraham Lincoln that speaks to the questionable leadership identified by the Grand Jury Report.

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power" ~Abraham Lincoln.

Julie Simental, Redwood Valley

ED NOTE: In fact, it took years of newspaper agitation reinforced by then-trustees Colfax and Lipmanson to finally get Ward prosecuted and packed off to jail.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, Sep 21, 2014

Barton, Bengivenni, Bittner, Dethlefsen, Hayes, Henley
Barton, Bengivenni, Bittner, Dethlefsen, Hayes, Henley

JANELL BARTON, Ukiah. Court order violation, offenses while on bail.

JOSEPH BENGIVENNI, Lucerne. DUI (alcohol & drugs), invalid license.

PAUL BITTNER, Potter Valley. Assault with deadly weapon (not firearm).

LILA DETHLEFSEN, Ukiah. Drunk in public.

HELEN HAYES, Martinez. DUI with priors, assault on cop.

CHARLES HENLEY, Ukiah. Drunk in public. (Frequent flyer.)

Hicks, Hoffman, Johnson, Knapp, Lamalfa
Hicks, Hoffman, Johnson, Knapp, Lamalfa

JASON HICKS, Ukiah. Violation of court order.

MARGARET HOFFMAN, Willits. Child endangerment.

EDWARD JOHNSON, Ukiah. Drunk in public, resisting arrest,

VERNON KNAPP, SR., Willits. Probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)

KATELYN LAMALFA, Ukiah. DUI causing injury, hit & run causing injury or death.

Lopez, Manuel, Moddrelle, Orion, Prescott, Wonderling
Lopez, Manuel, Moddrelle, Orion, Prescott, Wonderling

RYAN LOPEZ, Ukiah. Drunk in public.

LAMAR MANUEL, Ukiah. Parole violation.

STACEY MODDRELLE, Ukiah. Drunk in public. (Frequent flyer.)

CHRISTY ORION, Whitethorn. Embezzlement.

DUSTIN PRESCOTT, Fort Bragg. Possession of meth, possession of more than an ounce of pot, driving on invalid license.

MONA WONDERLING, Clearlake. Burglary/shoplifting.

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by Emily Hobelmann

Lately, when I stand out on my balcony at night, I can see a great glowing structure on a nearby hilltop. I assume it’s a greenhouse, and its glow reminds me of the Houweling’s tomato nursery greenhouse down south in Camarillo, a pretty active agricultural area on the coast in Ventura County, near Pt. Mugu.

The Houweling’s greenhouse is glass, and it’s way big. Massive. Damn, does that greenhouse light up at night and squelch any hope of stargazing in the neighborhood. The glowing structure that I can see from my home in Humboldt — if it is in fact a greenhouse — is child’s play compared to Houweling’s “125 acres under greenhouse glass.” (Quote from the Houweling’s “History and Heritage” page.)

No joke, that greenhouse is huge. They grow hydro tomatoes with sunlight plus supplemental lighting at night. This Houweling’s webpage has a couple of photos from inside and outside the greenhouse; check ‘em out for perspective.

The Houweling’s greenhouse is all sealed off from the elements — weather and pests — so apparently they don’t have to get so crazy with the pesticides and herbicides. At least that’s the message coming across on their website. The tomatoes are not organic — they only use pesticides as a “last resort.” Also, they don’t grow GMO and they are responsible with their water use. Good to know.

(I don’t think the neighboring farms have “last resort” pesticide policies though — the planes and helicopters flying around the agricultural fields of Ventura County aren’t from CAMP or law enforcement. They are pesticide- and herbicide-dropping aircraft, spraying the strawberries and the lima beans and the celery, spraying the shit out of everything. There are pesticide-spraying tractors and people too. Lots of spraying.)

The Houweling’s greenhouse is big, trippy agriculture. I’ve seen workers in those sterile suit outfits going into the massive greenhouse to tend the hydro tomatoes. It’s weird, in my opinion. And yeah, at night, that Ultra-Clima greenhouse glows unnaturally, big, bright and orange. The intensity of the beaming orange greenhouse light rivals the intensity of the lights of the refineries off the 405 freeway in Torrance and Carson.

Regardless of whether or not you think the Houweling’s greenhouse qualifies as a monstrosity, tomato farming is legal and there is a public website with content that describes Houweling’s practices and history. Sometimes they open their facility to the public too. The Houweling’s company presents its methods as revolutionary and sustainable, which is debatable. At least there is at least some degree of transparency.


But in the case of last week’s big five-greenhouse bust in Salmon Creek, there was never any transparency about the farming practices at this site. The farmer or organization doesn’t have a website with information about their methods, and they probably didn’t have neat logo stickers that they affixed to bags of processed pounds. Now that law enforcement rousted the place, community members can get some idea about the farming practices from the photographs and the scant law enforcement PR. However, the end user of cannabis from that site probably has no idea.

The other day, a bonafide Humboldt county person told me that he just saw a cannabis plant growing outdoors for the first time. I was surprised, but upon further reflection, I realized that this is pretty standard with agriculture. Many people are unfamiliar with produce sources — like maybe someone doesn’t know what a peanut plant looks like, or that the blueberries in their fruit salad came from Argentina.

I wonder if the folks eating Houweling’s greenhouse tomatoes understand the scale of the greenhouse that the tomato was grown in. Do you know how your tomato was grown? Is it from Mexico? Is it from California? Is it from the Southern Humboldt Community Park farm?

Tomatoes and cannabis — both big ag, yet less transparency with the cannabis. Where does your weed come from? Did you grow it? Did your friend grow it? Did you buy it from a dispensary or from dude in Redwood Park? And where did that supplier get it? Did your weed come from that giant Salmon Creek grow? Do you care?

Last weekend at the Golden Tarp Awards, plaques were presented to the cultivators of the top 16 strains in the competition. But during the awards ceremony, only a handful of cultivators actually came out of the crowd for their awards. No farmer’s face to place with the grand prize winner of that competition, just mysteriousness. And that’s the way of the weed.


Check this out: On Sept. 18, Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers arrested a guy for having 651 pounds of weed in his Tahoe. Where did all that weed come from? Dep from Humboldt? Just curious. Not seeing a “Grown in Humboldt” logo on those packages…


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“THE PROBLEM was you had to keep choosing between one evil or another, and no matter what you chose, they sliced a little bit more off you, until there was nothing left. At the age of 25 most people were finished. A whole god-damned nation of assholes driving automobiles, eating, having babies, doing everything in the worst way possible, like voting for the presidential candidates who reminded them most of themselves. I had no interests. I had no interest in anything. I had no idea how I was going to escape. At least the others had some taste for life. They seemed to understand something that I didn't understand. Maybe I was lacking. It was possible. I often felt inferior. I just wanted to get away from them. But there was no place to go.”

Charles Bukowski

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Big Oil money defeated bill to ban drilling in marine protected area!

by Dan Bacher

There will be a number of climate marches today around the world, including a huge one in New York. There are also events in Oakland, Sacramento and Davis. Unfortunately, I fear that at many events in California, the chosen speakers won't be talking about one of the biggest environmental issues in the state — the fact that the oil industry is the most powerful corporate lobby in Sacramento and the Western States Petroleum Association is the most powerful lobbying organization. I am one of the few journalists taking on Big Oil and the biggest environmental conflict of interest story of the past decade, the chairing of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast by the President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA). Until more anti- fracking and environmental activists in California are willing to challenge Big Oil and challenge the corporate "environmental" groups and state officials that allowed a big oil lobbyist and other corporate operatives to oversee the creation of fake "marine protected areas" in California, we will have a very hard time banning fracking and stopping the oil industry from constantly sabotaging our environmental laws protecting the air, water and land. I have a presentation that I've made on the power of the oil industry at a number of events — and I know that some people get uncomfortable when I expose Big Oil's collaboration with state officials and some corporate "environmental" NGOs. I wish more people would have the courage to really challenge Big Oil and the state officials that are controlled by WSPA, Chevron and other oil companies. I'm also concerned that many activists have still never heard of the Western States Petroleum Association or its President, Catherine Reheis-Boyd — nor know that the alleged "marine protected areas" created in California don't protect the ocean from fracking, oil drilling, pollution, corporate aquaculture, military testing and all human impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering. If you haven't already read this article, please read it and share it with others! It needs to get spread far and wide! Thanks! — Dan

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Only in a Big Oil state like California would an oil industry lobbyist chair a task force to create so-called “marine protected areas” – and then strongly oppose a bill to ban oil drilling in a "marine protected area."

Only in a Big Oil state like California would a Legislator have to author a bill to ban offshore oil drilling in a "marine protected area."

And only in a Big Oil state like California would the Legislature vote against a bill to stop oil drilling in a "marine protected area."

That's right — State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson’s bill to ban offshore oil drilling from an area of state waters in the Santa Barbara Channel known as Tranquillon Ridge stalled on the Assembly Floor on the evening of August 26, effectively killing the bill for the year, due to massive opposition by the oil industry.

The bill, SB 1096, would have protected the Vandenburg State Marine Reserve, created under the privately funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative, and the rest of the Tranquillon Ridge from offshore oil drilling plans.

The vote was 29-36, according to Senator Jackson’s office.

“If ever there were proof positive of big oil's stranglehold on the State of California, this is it,” said Joey Racano, Director of the Ocean Outfall Group. “Even our best attempt at providing some protections for our future fisheries and ecology swatted aside by big oil money and corrupt politicians. Another thing this proves is the reality of the military/industrial complex. Big oil is the US military, and the US military is big oil.”

Ayes included Ammiano, Bloom, Bonta, Buchanan, Campos, Chau, Chesbro, Dababneh, Dickinson, Fong, Garcia, Gatto, Gomez, Gordon, Levine, Lowenthal, Mullin, Muratsuchi, Nazarian, Pan, John A. Pérez, V. Manuel Pérez, Rendon, Skinner, Stone, Ting, Wieckowski, Williams, Yamada and Atkins.

Noes included Achadjian, Allen, Bigelow, Bocanegra, Bonilla, Chávez, Conway, Cooley, Dahle, Donnelly, Fox, Frazier, Beth Gaines, Gonzalez, Gorell, Gray, Grove, Hagman, Harkey, Jones, Linder, Logue, Maienschein, Mansoor, Medina, Melendez, Nestande, Olsen, Patterson, Perea, Quirk-Silva, Ridley-Thomas, Salas, Wagner, Waldron and Wilk.

No Votes were recorded by Alejo, Bradford, Brown, Ian Calderon, Daly, Eggman, Hall, Roger Hernández, Holden, Jones-Sawyer, Quirk, Rodriguez and Weber.

“I’m disappointed in what happened tonight, but remain committed to protecting this area of our Santa Barbara coastline from the impacts of new offshore oil drilling for the long haul,” said Jackson (D-Santa Barbara). “I will continue to pursue avenues to protect Tranquillon Ridge, which inspires us with its beauty and biological diversity, and helps drive our local economy with tourism and hospitality jobs and thousands of visitors to our area.”

“I’m proud to be a co-author of SB 1096, because I believe that protecting our sensitive coastal habitat is of the utmost importance to our economy and our environment,” said Assemblymember Das Williams (D-Carpinteria). “I will continue to work with Senator Jackson to fight for those protections.”

Oil industry spent $63 million lobbying in Sacramento in 5-1/2 years

The defeat of the bill shows the enormous power of Big Oil in California. While there are many powerful industries based in California, ranging from the computer and high tech industry to corporate agribusiness, no industry has more influence over the state's environmental policies than Big Oil.

An ongoing analysis of reports filed with the California Secretary of State shows that the oil industry, the largest and most powerful corporate lobby in Sacramento, collectively spent over $63 million lobbying California policymakers between January 1, 2009 and June 30, 2014.

The Western States Petroleum Association, led by President Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the former chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative to create so-called "marine protected areas" in Southern California, topped the oil industry lobby spending with $26,969,861.

"The oil industry is spending over $1 million per month lobbying Sacramento, with the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) as the second overall leading spender so far in 2014 with almost $3 million spent in the past six months," according to Stop Fooling California (, an online and social media public education and awareness campaign that highlights oil companies efforts to mislead and confuse Californians. "Chevron, with $1.3 million spent so far in 2014, is also among the top five. If money speaks, Big Oil has the loudest voice in politics."

WSPA was California’s second overall leading lobbyist spender, with $1.5 million spent in the second quarter of 2014. This is the second largest quarter going back to January 2009.

WSPA is on pace to exceed the previous annual (2012) total in 2014. So far this session, WSPA has paid over $2 million to KP Public Affairs, the state’s highest paid lobbying firm, during the current (2013-14) legislative session, according to the group. WSPA spent $4,670,010 on lobbying in 2013 and $5,698,917 in 2012.

Chevron is the fifth overall spender in California through the second quarter of 2014, having spent $784,757 over the past quarter, an increase of nearly $300,000 over the prior quarter.

Yet these millions of dollars are just chump change to Big Oil, since the five big oil companies made over $93 billion in profits in 2013. This year their estimated profits to date are over $64 billion.( )

Loopholes in Coastal Sanctuary Act and MLPA Initiative allow oil drilling

The failure of the bill also sheds the spotlight on two glaring loopholes in the implementation of California environmental law – one in the California Coastal Sanctuary Act and the other in the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative’s creation of “marine protected areas”

In 1994, declaring that “offshore oil and gas production in certain areas of state waters poses an unacceptably high risk of damage and disruption to the marine environment of the state,” the California Legislature banned any new offshore oil and gas leases when it passed the California Coastal Sanctuary Act.

But a loophole in state law left Tranquillon Ridge, which extends into state and federal waters, with reserves that are currently being tapped in federal waters from Platform Irene, uniquely vulnerable to offshore drilling. Senate Bill 1096 would have repealed this loophole, found in Public Resources Code 6244, according to a statement from Jackson’s Office.

“'Even the slightest chance of an oil spill in a Marine Protected Area far outweighs any potential benefit to the state,” Jackson said. ( )

The second loophole is in the privately funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative that created the Vandenberg State Marine Reserve and other “marine protected areas” in California waters.

Fishermen, Tribal leaders and grassroots environmentalists have repeatedly criticized the controversial MLPA Initiative for creating questionable "marine protected areas" that fail to protect the ocean from oil drilling, fracking, pollution, military testing, corporate aquaculture and all human impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering.

In one of the most overt conflicts of interest in recent California history, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association, chaired the MLPA Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create alleged "marine protected areas" in Southern California. Reheis-Boyd, who is leading the campaign to expand fracking and offshore oil drilling in California, also served on the task forces to create "marine protected areas" on the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast.

The Coastal Justice Coalition, a group of members of the Yurok, Hoopa Valley, Karuk and other Tribes who agree that the State of California has no right to regulate tribal gathering, exposed this loophole in the MLPA Initiative when they stated, "Protected areas would allow for deep water drilling yet would ban tribal gathering," in a news release issued in June 2010. ( )

While MLPA Initiative officials let the oil industry, corporate polluters and ocean industrialists off the hook in their strange concept of "marine protection, oil drilling would have been banned in one state marine protected area, the Vanderberg State Marine Reserve, if Jackson’s bill had passed.

Oil companies have made numerous attempts over the years to tap into Tranquillon Ridge’s offshore reserves from state waters. Since 2003, an oil development proposal has been pursued by Sunset and Exxon to drill into Tranquillon Ridge reserves from an onshore location at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

“Slant drilling from onshore into offshore waters raises significant concerns about possible oil spills, impacts on marine life, air and water pollution, and contributions to global climate change,” according to Jackson’s Office.

On September 28, 1997, a discharge of at least 163 barrels of crude oil occurred from a rupture in a 20-inch offshore pipeline emanating from Platform Irene off the Santa Barbara County coast near Vandenberg Air Force Base, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The spill resulted in the fouling of approximately 17 miles of coastline, and caused an impact to a variety of natural resources, including seabirds, sandy and gravel beach habitats, rocky intertidal shoreline habitats, and use of beaches for human recreation ( ).

Need for bill shows the failure of MLPA Initiative

Zeke Grader, Executive Director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA), praised Senator Jackson for sponsoring the bill — and said the necessity of having to sponsor a bill like this to protect a marine protected area from oil drilling bill "highlights what a failure the MLPA Initiative was.”

“If these are true marine protected areas, they why are we allowing drilling and other insults to the ocean in them?” asked Grader. “The whole MLPA Initiative was a phony process that provided an opportunity for Big Green and government bureaucrats to write press releases claiming these were ‘protected areas’ when in reality the fishermen and Tribes got screwed. We should have bans on oil drilling in all of the marine protected areas."

The time to ban offshore oil drilling, fracking, pollution, corporate aquaculture, military testing and other harmful activities to marine life in all "marine protected areas" created under the MLPA Initiative is long overdue. The oil industry's inordinate influence over the MLPA Initiative and other environmental processes, the Legislature and the Governor's Office is due to the enormous amount of money that the oil industry dumps into campaign contributions and lobbying in Sacramento every year.

A report released on April 1, 2014 by the ACCE Institute and Common Cause reveals that Big Oil has spent $143.3 million on political candidates and campaigns – nearly $10 million per year and more than any other corporate lobby – over the past fifteen years. ( )

But Big Oil exerts its influence not just by making campaign contributions, but also by lobbying legislators at the State Capitol. The oil industry spent $123.6 million to lobby elected officials in California from 1999 through 2013. This was an increase of over 400 percent since the 1999-2000 legislative session, when the industry spent $4.8 million. In 2013-2014 alone, the top lobbyist employer, Western States Petroleum Association, spent $4.7 million.

Ironically, while WSPA President Catherine Reheis-Boyd served on the task forces to "protect" the ocean, the same oil industry that the "marine guardian" represents was conducting environmentally destructive hydraulic fracturing (fracking) operations off the Southern California coast. Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and media investigations by Associated Press and reveal that the ocean has been fracked at least 203 times in the past 20 years, including the period from 2004 to 2012 that Reheis-Boyd served as a "marine guardian.” ( )

In addition to the oil industry spending exerting its enormous power through campaign contributions, lobbying legislators and serving on state and federal regulatory panels, the oil industry also has set up "Astroturf" groups, including the California Drivers Alliance and Fueling California, to fight against environmental regulations protecting our air, water, land, fish, wildlife and human health.

"The set up is basically this: some Californian (who is supposed to be your proxy) regurgitates Big Oil talking points that don't resemble reality, equating protecting Big Oil's profits with protecting the people," according to Stop Fooling California.

Bill Supporters and Opponents:

Supporters of the bill included the Environmental Defense Center (sponsor), Asian Pacific Environmental Network, AZUL, California Coastkeeper Alliance, California Coastal Protection Network, California League of Conservation Voters, California State Grange, Salud Carbajal, First District Supervisor, County of Santa Barbara, Carpinteria Valley Association, Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Race, Poverty and the Environment, Community Environmental Council, Citizens for Responsible Oil & Gas, Clean Water Action, Earthworks, Environment California, Environmental Working Group, Food and Water Watch, Get Oil Out!, Heal the Ocean, Cathy Murillo, Mayor Pro-Tem, City of Santa Barbara, Natural Resources Defense Council, Ocean Conservancy, San Diego 350.Org, Santa Barbara Audubon Society, Sierra Club California, Surfrider Foundation, WILDCOAST and 350 Santa Barbara.

Opponents included the California Chamber of Commerce, California Independent Petroleum Association, California Manufacturers & Technology Association, Coalition of Labor, Agriculture and Business, Concerned Taxpayers, I.N.C., Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association, Santa Barbara County Technology and Industry Association, Sunset Exploration and the Western States Petroleum Association.

Vandenberg SMR Background:

Vandenberg State Marine Reserve (SMR) is a marine protected area (MPA) located offshore of Vandenberg Air Force Base, near the city of Lompoc on the Central Coast. The MPA covers 32.84 square miles.

Vandenberg SMR is supposed to "protect" all marine life within its boundaries and fishing and take of all living marine resources is prohibited. However, the "marine reserve," like others established under the MLPA Initiative, doesn't ban oil drilling, fracking or pollution.

Vandenberg SMR was established in September 2007 in a controversial public-private partnership between the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. It was one of 29 marine protected areas adopted during the first phase of the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative.

* * *


Nirvana in California

The weather in San Francisco is a game of hide and seek

What with the fog rolling in and then travels eastward

To the central valley. Sunshine brightens up the city,

To change into a cloudy cooler afternoon, with a light mist.

Night time arrives punctually with bright stars and a

Huge moon over Oakland, while Berkeley residents stare up at

The rabbit and discuss its astrological significance.

Nobody in California can tell you for certain what will make

You happy for evermore, but millions are going for it!

The new digital gadgets became available this weekend, and the

Lines were blocks long. Maybe the digital wristwatch which

Does everything, along with the computer compatible glasses,

All linked to the portable personal tablet, which is aligned

To the home PC, which is accessible from the cellphone will

Finally and at last distract so completely that nobody will

Have any problems anymore. That is what the guarantee says.

— Craig Louis Stehr


  1. Jim Updegraff September 22, 2014

    RE: Palace Hotel. Perhaps the next eathquake will knock down this old dump – do the job the City Council appears totally incapable of dealing with a problem which has an easy solution.

  2. Lazarus September 22, 2014

    Reports from the Town Hall in Willits last night were not kind. Basically no control of speakers, One City Council candidate hogged the mic. shamelessly, moderator let it happen.
    Another pretty much said she is running on marijuana for all, another is running on no MaryJane for any…
    Woodhouse and Jolly Holly did managed to get out of the room relatively unscathed though… in spite of themselves.
    If folks are going to put on forums/debates they need to at a minimum model from what the AAUW and TWN has been doing for decades, like TWN or not their events are well attended and informative. This biased, bloviated, touchy feely crap has no cred. 54 people many with their won agendas showed up for 2 hours of total BS… the end nobody cares.
    Next up, the WEC’s attempt, no co sponsor, no reputable moderator and no one to the right of the far left will attend. These aging leftist are done….SOLLV, WEC, WELL, forget about it, Northbrook is waiting.

  3. Jim Updegraff September 22, 2014

    Add the city council of Willits to the list of elected amd wantabes who don’t have aclue as to what their job is.

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