- Promotional Infighting
- Catch of the Day
- OMG Questions
- PD Arrives
- KZYX Shortcomings
- Laura's Law
- Nation Raping
- Rabies Vaccination
- Nader Radio
- Odets' Knife
- Boondoggle Awards
THE MENDOCINO COUNTY LODGING ASSOCIATION (MCLA), one of the several overlapping and conflicting organizations involved in the promotion and marketing of Mendocino County which I wrote about a couple of weeks ago [https://www.theava.com/archives/36722] met in Boonville Wednesday afternoon, hosted by the Boonville Hotel’s co-partner Marcos Magdaleno who is a recently elected member of the 17-member (!) MCLA board. Magdaleno invited me to attend, adding, “Why not? It’s a public meeting.”
BEYOND MAGDALENO, only one other on the Board seemed to have even the slightest recognition that there’s a newspaper in Boonville, much less the AVA. I detected no hostility or suspicion. Board Chair John Dixon thought I wrote for the Ukiah Daily Journal.
(According to Mr. Dixon’s profile at the Mendocino Community Foundation’s website: “John has been a resident of Mendocino County since July of 2007 when he purchased the 10-room Glendeven Inn in Little River. John received a BA from CSU Long Beach and an MBA from The Peter F. Drucker School of Management at the Claremont Colleges. John’s career has included project management with philanthropist and businessman Dr. Robert Gumbiner, and real estate and entrepreneurial projects of his own. He is a musician and served as Board Treasurer and Membership President of a 200 person $2M non-profit choral group. He conceived and executed a TEDxMendocino event in the village of Mendocino bringing leaders in Technology, Entertainment and Design from all over the state to our county.)
THE MOST INTERESTING ITEM on the agenda, to me anyway, was a discussion about whether to “re-affirm” or “re-appoint” MCLA Board President John Dixon to the Visit Mendocino County (VMC) Board, which is made up of members from the other sister organizations. There’s MCLA, VMC, and the Mendocino County Promotional Alliance (MCPA), each of which have their own boards, but apparently VMC is made up of members of the other boards. Then there’s the Board of Supervisors who have to formally approve (usually rubberstamp) certain aspects of their operation since several hundred thousand dollars of matching County tax money goes to MCLA which is then combined with the MCLA’s money (which they get by adding a 1% fee on top of room rentals), and then in turn that combined pot goes to VMC under a subcontract, allegedly for advertising and public relations to attract tourists to visit their lodging facilities. Then there’s the ten-person staff of VMC, many of which are also connected to one or another member of MCLA or MCPA or the VMC Board.
AS OF TUESDAY, there’s now yet another group, a newly appointed “Ad Hoc Committee” made up of another collection of the same people plus Supervisors John McCowen and Dan Gjerde and a couple of County staffers which is supposed to go over the contract provisions of the arrangement between the County and MCLA having to do with the 1% (or maybe .5% or 2%, depending on what happens with the ad hoc) to see if… well, I’m not sure what they’re going to do. But you can be sure it will be contentious in the uniquely passive-aggressive way these people operate. Snarky emails go back and forth. Silly parliamentary maneuvering and meeting scheduling is plotted. Insincere smiles are aimed in various directions. Some valid points are made along the way. You know, standard operating procedures for the Mendo Nice People.
WHERE WAS I? Oh, yes, the re-affirming or re-appointing.
IT SEEMS that earlier in the week Mr. Dixon went to a regular meeting of the VMC board in Fort Bragg (and excuse me if these alphabet soup terms get confusing, but this is what they call themselves), and was told that at the previous meeting Mr. Dixon had off-handedly mentioned that he was there as a “guest.” Upon arrival at this week’s meeting in Fort Bragg then, Mr. Dixon was handed a tedious letter written by a paid attorney for the VMC Board telling Mr. Dixon that by saying that he was a “guest” at the earlier meeting that was equivalent to Mr. Dixon resigning from the VMC Board.
LET’S BACK UP A MOMENT to note that there are several newly elected members of the MCLA Board. With those new members, the MCLA Board recently voted to rescind their contract with VMC, which is the subcontractor/vendor to MCLA which actually hires their large staff and does whatever “promotion” is done. MCLA is the recipient of over $1 million dollars in fees collected from Lodging operators in the County combined with a 50% match from the County which comes out of the County’s General Fund (or out of the Bed Tax, if you’re a believer in the whole bogus promotional subsidy idea).
ANYWAY, the newly constituted MCLA board apparently thinks they’re not getting their promotional money’s worth out of their VMC contract and they want to cancel it and maybe put that promotional work out to bid. This expression of doubt in the VMC contract has caused a whole new level of animosity to arise, and that’s where we come back to the question of re-affirming or re-appointing Mr. Dixon.
WHEN MR. DIXON was told that he had effectively resigned by the VMC attorney, Dixon balked, saying, “No I didn’t. I did no such thing.” But the attorney, citing some obscure sections of the VMC and MCLA bylaws combined with even more obscure sections of the California Corporations Code, said, “No, you resigned, Mr. Dixon.” The attorney said that Dixon had to go back to his MCLA board and have them re-appoint Dixon back to the VMC board. This mini-dispute about Dixon’s status further lead to a lack of a quorum at the VMC Board which meant that that meeting was effectively canceled.
THIS EXTREMELY petty legalistic tactic by the VMC Board would, of course, never have happened if the MCLA Board had not expressed doubt about the effectiveness or high cost of the VMC promotional activities.
AND THAT simple, entirely unnecessary act, of what to do about Dixon’s appointment took over half an hour of Wednesday’s meeting of the MCLA board in Boonville. Some MCLA Board members thought that they shouldn’t have to “re-appoint” Dixon because he never really resigned, so they should only “re-affirm” Dixon as a VMC Board member. Others thought they should just do what the VMC lawyer said. Others thought that maybe they should “re-affirm” all five MCLA appointments to the VMC Board because that way there’d be no concession to the VMC lawyer bogus claim. In the end the MCLA board went ahead and reappointed Dixon, trying to avoid any more argument on the point.
MEANWHILE, MR DIXON, having received a letter from Mendocino County Counsel Doug Losak saying that if MCLA rescinded their contract with VMC, MCLA would be “in breach” of MCLA’s contract with the County since the County had to approve all such changes. Whereupon Mr. Dixon went over and talked to Mr. Losak and concluded that he [Dixon] and the MCLA Board would postpone the rescinding of the VMC contract for a couple of months so that they don’t have to deal with a show cause letter from Losak to MCLA which would require MCLA to come up with an alternative promotional arrangement in 30 days or be officially declared “in breach” which would put an end to about $300k in County money going to MCLA. By postponing the VMC contract cancellation, MCLA now has more time to reconsider their difficult arrangement with VMC.
WHAT HAD ACTUALLY HAPPENED was a very chickenshit, petty and vindictive retaliation from the VMC Board/President toward the MCLA Board for daring to question the operations and expenditures of the very top heavy VMC organization which spends most of the $1 million (or more if the recently proposed changes go through) on themselves, not actual promotion. The MCLA Board simply thinks that VMC (or whoever ends up doing the promotional stuff) should spend a lot more money on actual promotion and a lot less on themselves (and be accountable and transparent along the way). And for that, they have to suffer through these passive-aggressive maneuvers by the non-MCLA members of VMC which create more tension on top of what is a fragile coalition to begin with.
THE AD HOC COMMITTEE headed up by McCowen and Gjerde which was approved by the County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday is supposed to meet a couple of times between now and sometime in December to review the arrangement and come up with some recommended changes to the contract between the County and MCLA and VMC and the MCPA. And you can be sure that whatever McCowen and Gjerde et al come up with it will not be the end of the consternation, and in all likelihood VMC won’t like it.
IN OTHER WORDS: Just another waste of time and money (including hundreds of thousand of taxpayer dollars), Mendo-style. (— Mark Scaramella)
CATCH OF THE DAY, November 12, 2014
JANE BERTSCH, Willits. Criminal threats to commit crimes resulting in death or great bodily injury.
JOSE CARRILLO-GARCIA, Ukiah. Pot cultivation, processing.
AMBER DILLON, Ukiah. Burglary, obtaining someone else’s ID, probation revocation.
JONATAN ESQUIVEL, Ukiah. Pot cultivation, processing.
DIEGO GARCIA-MONTIEL, Piercy. Pot cultivation, processing.
FRANCISCO GONZALEZ, Ukiah. Metal knuckles, county parole violation.
MISTY HAWKINS, Possession of meth and drug paraphernalia, probation revocation.
RAMON HERRERA, Ukiah. Pot cultivation, processing.
JOSE OCHOA, Laytonville. Domestic battery, probation revocation.
RICHARD SALAZAR, Ukiah. Assault with deadly weapon (not firearm), carjacking by force or fear, false imprisonment with violence, criminal threats to cause death or great bodily injury, vehicle theft, elder abuse.
WILLIAM WILLIAMS JR, Willits. Burglary/Shoplifting, probation revocation.
RODRIGO ZUNIGA, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
MARK BISHOP, former County Psychiatric Nurse, writes: “The Mental Health Board is set to meet this week and my guess is Ortner Management Group will send their “trick ponies” to the show in an attempt to deflect, dodge or otherwise de-value the TRUTH. A suggestion for the Board would be to get the information from the horses while they are present and ask any OMG attendee some very basic and forthright questions regarding delivery of care in Mendocino County.
“Several questions should be asked of OMG. 1) How many clients was OMG given from the COUNTY when the transfer was initiated? Of those clients turned over to OMG, how many are currently being served by OMG or ICMS and how? What happened to the remaining clients? 2) What is the OMG process of placing a 5150 (involuntary psychiatric hold)?
“During my time as the ICMS Director, we were emphatically told by Ortner’s Todd Harris that NO placement would be made by the ICMS unless a call or fax went to OMG Corporate Placement Officer, Jessica Riley. It was further explained to me that she had “no capacity” to influence the Crisis staff decisions on placement, BUT ALL completed 5150 hospitalization packets were sent to her no matter the time of day. Without fail, Mrs. John Riley would receive the packet and instruct us to do nothing more regarding placement of the client. The very first consideration given to ANY 5150 client by RN Riley was to be sent to NORTH VALLEY BEHAVIORAL HEALTH (Ortner’s operation in Yuba City). It seemed as though consideration and placement in other facilities was only given if Jessica Riley was unable to get the client placed at North Valley. So, the next question could be to ask what affiliation does OMG and namely the Rileys have to North Valley Behavioral Health Psychiatric Facility? Why are no other facilities entertained until North Valley is? Do OMG or the Rileys profit in any way from placement in that facility? Finally, the word on the street is that OMG has consumed the CONTRACT money and made an emergent appeal for special monies last week that was granted. If that is true, Tom Pinizzotto, Tom Ortner and the OMG cast of clowns need to be shown legal ropes. It is time to hide in the BRIGHT LIGHT, OMG!”
FOUR YEARS LATER, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT BOLDLY ROLLS.... (And they bury it by not even putting it on their main website page or main news page.)
600-WORD LEGAL/POLICY ANALYSIS of KZYX In response to requests from local media for a shorter version - Voila! 600 words, not counting signature line. There are online links for those who want more.
Also some identifying information: My name is Dennis O'Brien. I am a resident of the Fifth District of Mendocino County and a retired attorney who specialized in helping nonprofits. A decade ago I filed suit for members of the Humane Society for Inland Mendocino County when they said no one else could/would help them, forcing a free and fair election and resulting in a sweeping victory for the challengers. Also helped the Mendocino Environmental Center get their FCC license for KMEC 105.1 FM in 2005. Membership nonprofits are are living beings that do wonderful work, but they've got to follow the rules or they lose their magic. Thank you all for your interest and willingness to distribute information that is important to our county's residents. — Dennis O'Brien
* * *
Legal/Policy Analysis of Mendocino County Public Broadcasting (KZYX&Z)
In March 2006, the Board of Directors of MCPB/KZYX transferred all hiring/firing authority to the General Manager. In 2009, the current GM used that authority to eliminate the News Director position, along with the five most popular NPR shows, without public discussion. The current Board now forbids any Director from overseeing any work of the GM or Staff, even though such oversight is each Director’s responsibility.
The Program Director and Staff are thus one more step removed from the Members and the Community. The Board no longer responds to questions, and has declared it will not intervene in Management/Staff decisions. Written requests for information have also been ignored.
In response to public outcry at such lack of transparency and accountability, the Board reconstituted the Community Advisory Board. However, the CAB failed to hold public meetings, opting instead for a technically flawed telephone conference that limited participation. It issued a report based on a faulty survey that said everything was fine. The report/survey are available at http://kzyx.org/index.php/about-us/station-business/community-advisory-board.
Meanwhile, programmers who have questioned policies were reprimanded or lost their shows. The more the Community pleads with the Board for openness, the more the Board digs in and protects Management, resulting in sharply divided elections whose legitimacy is questioned, public name-calling, and legal challenges to the station’s license.
MCPB is a nonprofit membership corporation chartered under California law. It is a licensee of the Federal Communications Commission. And it is a grantee of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. It is thus subject to three sets of laws/regulations, along with its own bylaws. For example:
“California Corporations Code Section 5210: . . . The activities and affairs of the corporation shall be managed and all corporate powers shall be exercised under the ultimate direction of the board.”
The Board cannot abdicate its responsibility to set policy, oversee operations, and interact with Members. The current Board’s policy of no oversight or interaction increases the perception of no transparency or accountability, causing frustration and tension within the Membership and Community.
The CPB requires a Community Advisory Board. The CAB must be independent, meet at regular intervals, and reflect the diverse needs and interests of the community. It must review the Station’s programming goals, the impact of significant policy decisions, and advise if the educational and cultural needs of the community are being met. It has failed to do so.
Full regulations are available at http://www.cpb.org/stations/certification/cert3.html.
Proposed Changes, Possible Bylaw Amendments
- Respond to Member questions at meetings, as time allows.
- Allow Directors/Member to inspect and copy any and all records of MCPB/KZYX, other than confidential personnel records.
- No Programmer shall be disciplined for expressing an opinion concerning MCPB/KZYX.
- No restrictions on communications between and among the Directors, the Management, and the Staff, except for confidential personnel matters.
- Restore all hiring/firing authority to the Board of Directors.
- Hire full-time News Director.
- Reconstitute/expand CAB to guarantee independence and reflect the diversity of the community.
- Use surveys that measure the favorability of each specific proposal.
Please go to Facebook, KZYX Members for Change, for full list and expanded Code/Bylaw sections.
A membership nonprofit that operates a community radio station with taxpayer money must be open and accessible. Otherwise, it defeats the efforts of generations who have worked to make the airwaves a resource for the people. And it will fail. Only by making essential changes can MCPB/KZYX achieve its best destiny, to be a shining city on the hill for a county, and a nation, that so desperately needs one.
Dennis O’Brien Ukiah, California
(Mr. O’Brien is a retired attorney who has helped many local nonprofits)
COUNTY TO EXPERIMENT WITH LAURA’S LAW PILOT PROGRAM
This morning's cup of coffee I used to wash down my daily helping of DemocracyNow! The later part of the netcast was this Lt. General. Daniel Bolger, who's new book, 'How We Lost The War,' about Afghanistan, Iraq, and others seems like a must-read. His on-screen delivery, being a guest of Ms. Goodman's, might be familiar to those of us who've survived time in the US military; the guy's the kind of pressed, starched, unblinking, straight-talking sort they like putting on recruiting posters. General Bolger's main points in his book boil down to the novel assertion that the US military is not designed to fight this kind of war, nor are its designers inclined to see the errors of their ways at the drawingboard. (And these designers keep cashing their checks from US, and sending US to kill and/or perish for 'em?!)
The General stopped short of calling G.W. Bush a flatout war criminal (too much starch, I guess), even with Ms. Goodman's prompting, but he does seem to have experienced something of an epiphany in his 35 year career. He notes that he's been thus outspoken for some time before retiring, which I find refreshing and a little heartening.
I've long known there is a “constitutional” element in the Pentagon, I've just wondered where the Hell they are. After repeatedly making the point that the particular problems in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere are really (REALLY) only solvable by the residents of those places (Big Ass Revelation along the lines of self-determination), the General and Amy amicably signed off. Neither of them noted that the real (REAL) reason for those conflicts was OIL — the oilfields of Iraq and its neighbors, and the Afghani route of the pipeline bringing petro from Watdafrackistan.
They have time constraints, but still, I thought it a conspicuous omission.
As if this wasn't yummy and nourishing enough, and with a compulsive interest in surviving this overpowered nuthouse of a “nation,” I went to wikipedia to look up the Boxer Rebellion. Hoo, Lordy! These bastards have not learned anything in more than a hundred years except there's a KILLING to be made in the mass-killing racket. If you've not checked this out, try it. It includes a link to an item on the Boxer Rebellion (and the Phillipines) by Mark Twain, called “To the Person Sitting In Darkness.” It's probably a bit long to include in your paper or webedition, but I thought you'd like to see it if you haven't — classic, armor-piercing Twain.
Cheers, Rick Weddle, Hawaii
RABIES VACCINATION CLINIC IN UKIAH
Mendocino County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) Animal Care Services is sponsoring a Rabies Vaccine Clinic on Saturday, November 22, 2014 from 10 am to noon. The clinic will be located in Ukiah at the HHSA Animal Care Services Shelter at 298 Plant Road. Rabies vaccines are required by law for all dogs over the age of 4 months and recommended for all cats. The cost of the vaccine will be $6.00. Dogs must be on a leash and cats in carriers. For more information regarding this event please call 463-4654.
Supporting Independent Voices
by Ralph Nader
America has a media problem.
Much of commercial radio consists of music and advertisements for corporate products. Network and cable news are increasingly hyper-focused on political gaffes, irrelevant scandals, sensationalism and gossip. There are very few serious, compelling programs in the mainstream media that aim to educate and enlighten audiences about issues that deeply affect millions of Americans.
With this in mind, we have launched a weekly radio show and podcast. Along with my co-hosts Stephen Skrovan and David Feldman — two talented comedic minds based out of Los Angeles — we aim to discuss the vital issues that challenge the corporate state and which are so often overlooked by mainstream news and talk radio. The show, known as the “Ralph Nader Radio Hour”, airs on several Pacifica radio stations and is also available online. We all make the show each week as volunteers.
Of course there are hundreds, if not thousands, of cable news channels, radio stations, podcasts and the like which discuss politics and current events. Unfortunately, too few truly delve into serious matters that affect millions of people in their own communities. Our program covers a wide range of these subjects such as corporate crime, Wall Street excess, citizen activism, American imperialism, unreported movements and authors, the two-party duopoly and more. Our goal is to be informative, engaging, and even funny — there’s no reason why discussing serious matters always has to be tedious, for in humor there is truth.
We hope that by reaching a new listening audience, we can bring light to matters that are given such disturbingly limited, if any, coverage by the large news outlets that reach the most people, and thus do not find their way into the grander public discourse. We also believe that our country has far more problems than it deserves and far more solutions than it applies. Therefore while it is important to expose problems, it is equally important to showcase their solutions, such as David Bollier’s work on our immense commonwealth that is owned by the people but mostly controlled by corporations. (See his new paperback, Think Like a Commoner.)
Once upon a time, television network talk shows like Phil Donahue, and even lighter fare hosted by Mike Douglas and Merv Griffin, found some time in their schedules to inform audiences about subjects like dangerous consumer products, unsafe medicines and critical worker and environmental issues. Now, these topics are practically taboo. And forget about local television or radio covering many issues related to your own community. Too infrequent here as well.
As a whole, this degradation of the media has fueled public cynicism far more than public enlightenment. The consequences are direr than most realize. Without media coverage, the civic community cannot expand it ranks, spread word of its accomplishments and be recognized and respected by decision-makers in government. Important press releases, reports, and testimonies on key issues are routinely ignored or marginalized.
The great progress made in the past by citizen activists in the peace, consumer, environmental and civil right movements was dependent on civic leaders being able to spread their message to America via the news media. Now, global companies have concentrated their influence over the two major political parties, the federal government, the economy and our culture itself. Except for smaller, independent media like Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now, these small but powerful voices of progress have been shut out of the public discourse.
Even traditionally progressive outlets like PBS and NPR fail to give adequate airtime to many top progressive leaders, scholars, experts, writers and commentators. Names that come to mind are Harvey Wasserman, Jim Hightower, Ed Mierzwinski, Rob Richie, Patrick Burns, Robert Weissman, Phineas Baxandall, David Morris, Wenonah Hauter, Jamie Love, Amory Lovins, Margaret Flowers, Greg LeRoy, Gayle McLaughlin, Michael Gecan, Russell Mokhiber, David Halperin, Harvey Rosenfield, Sid Wolfe, Winona LaDuke and Chris Hedges . Unfortunately, many Americans have not heard of these warriors for justice who work tirelessly for our society. I recommend you to research a bit about every one of them — our country would be far better off if these experts were given as much airtime as the warmongers, the corporate apologists and the partisan talking-heads.
With the “Ralph Nader Radio Hour,” we want to provide a platform for many of these leading minds to share their expertise and wealth of knowledge. Once recent such guest was David Freeman, a profound energy expert, attorney and author, with serious renewable energy conversion proposals coming from decades of experience running giant utilities such as the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD). Other recent guests were slip and fall expert Russell Kendzior, the aforementioned David Bollier, and Bill Curry, former aide to President Bill Clinton and gubernatorial candidate in Connecticut. I think that you’ll find that these lively conversations are far more interesting, substantial and enlightening than anything you’ll hear on the cable news networks. Next week our guest will be Stephen Goldstein, author of The Dictionary of American Political Bullshit.
If there is an author or activist who you would like to hear interviewed, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the appropriate information.
All past episodes of the non-profit “Ralph Nader Radio Hour” are available to listen to, free of charge, here. I hope you’ll check them out and spread the word about what we are trying to accomplish.
And if you want your local radio station to carry the show, please contact them and let them know. After all, the only way to overcome the trivialities and distortion of the media and redefine what is considered important news is to demand treatment of the issues that matter to us most.
(Ralph Nader’s latest book is: Unstoppable: the Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State.)
A MOVIE TIP
Clifford Odets' "The Big Knife"
by Clancy Sigal
Turner Classics is showing Clifford Odets’ The Big Knife starring Jack Palance as a tormented Hollywood star. The conventional word on this movie, made from an Odets play, is that it’s over-emotional, over the top, embarrassingly overheated, miscast and poor office slammed by critics.
All true, except that the casting is wonderful: Palance is a revelation and Rod Steiger fabulously, stratospherically over the top as a Harry Cohn/LBMayer. The Big Knife is a perfect gem of an utterly watchable imperfect work.
Even more interesting if you see it as an expiation, and plea for forgiveness, by Odets who became – with Elia Kazan’s close cooperation – a HUAC informer for which he never forgave himself. Odets, a brilliant and fiery writer who transformed American theatre in the 1930s, was a complicated guy, like his Palance character.
By sheer coincidence, I helped set up chairs at an anti-HUAC meeting in NY where Odets gave a keynote speech urging his audience not to surrender to the witch hunters. We stood on those chairs and applauded like crazy.
My memory may be faulty here but not by much: the very next morning or a few days later he ratted out his old friends to the Committee.
Once you know this, The Big Knife becomes even more fascinating.
(Clancy Sigal is a screenwriter and novelist. His latest book is Hemingway Lives.)
NO APRIL FOOLING: GROUP NAMES BROWN'S TUNNEL PLAN PROJECT OF THE YEAR!
by Dan Bacher
No, this is not an April Fools' Day or Onion article. A group called "GG/LA Infrastructure" selected Governor Jerry Brown's Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build two massive tunnels under the Delta as the "Engineering Project of the Year" at the "North American Strategic Leadership Forum" in Washington D.C. on October 29, 2014.
Events where organizations bestow awards upon undeserving politicians, projects and organizations are nothing new. In recent years, big "environmental" NGOs have given environmental "leadership" awards to politicians such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown, two of the worst Governors for fish, water and the environment in California history, to curry favor with them.
Among the groups to give Schwarzenegger awards for his "green" leadership, in spite of his war on salmon, the Delta and the oceans, included the Hudson Riverkeeper at their annual "Fishermen's Banquet" in New York City in April 2010. (http://www.counterpunch.org/2010/03/22/shame-on-the-riverkeeper/)
Then the Monterey Bay Aquarium and an array of corporate "environmental" NGOs granted the very undeserving Governor Jerry Brown the "Ocean Champion" award in 2012. (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/04/05/18710843.php).
In October 2013, the Blue Green Alliance had planned to give Governor Jerry Brown the "Right Stuff" award in San Francisco, but he didn't show up because of the protest by environmental and Native American activists outside the hotel where the event was held. (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/10/18/18745051.php)
However, GG/LA Infrastructure and the North American Strategic Leadership Forum recently topped even these shamelessly pandering organizations in their attempt to greenwash anti-environmental politicians and projects by honoring the California Department of Water Resources' Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the peripheral tunnels.
The Forum, which "draws more than 500 industry executives from all aspects of an infrastructure project lifecycle – including lenders and investors, law, design, engineering and construction firms, and owner operators – to focus on projects with business opportunities available within the next 3-18 months," chose the Bay Delta Conservation Plan as the "Engineering Project of the Year" in Washington D.C. (http://www.bus-ex.com/article/north-american-infrastructure-winners)
The group awards the "Engineering Project of the Year" to "that project which extends or demonstrates the region's technical engineering capacity, especially design and creative problem-solving. This includes designs that are either path-breaking in terms of basic engineering, or in terms of value for money, or some combination of the two."
It gets worse. The BDCP was also named a finalist for the categories of "Strategic Project of the Year” and “Green/New Project of the Year." (http://www.cg-la.com/media-enquiries/press-releases/59-press-releases/cg-la-announces-finalists-for-top-project-in-north-america-pr)
Water activist Jerry Cadagan commented, "To once again steal from humorist Dave Barry, 'We are not making this up!'"
It is interesting that the California Department of Water Resources applied for these awards, but did not publicize receiving them.
The forum features the following description for the BDCP:
Bay Delta Conservation Plan Tunnels
Subsector: Water Transmission
Value: US $25 billion
Project Sponsor: California Department of Water Resources
Project Presenter: Jim Macrae, Senior Project Manager, California Department of Water Resources
The Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) is a part of California's overall water management portfolio. It is being developed as a 50-year habitat conservation plan with the goals of restoring the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta ecosystem and securing California water supplies. The BDCP would secure California's water supply by building new water delivery infrastructure and operating the system to improve the ecological health of the Delta. The BDCP also would restore or protect approximately 150,000 acres of habitat to address the Delta's environmental challenges. (http://www.cg-la.com/forums/nalf6/projects#NI)
Lets get this right, folks - this forum selected Jerry Brown's Peripheral Tunnel Plan, one of the most environmentally destructive projects in California history, as "Engineering Project of the Year" for 2014 and listed the boondoggle as a finalist for the categories of "Strategic Project of the Year” and “Green/New Project of the Year?"
Apparently the leadership of the forum is not aware of the scathing criticisms of the project by an array of science panels, ranging from the National Academy of Sciences, to a panel of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service scientists, to the Delta Independent Science Board.
Nor was the group apparently aware of the state and federal government’s decision to delay the $67 billion proposed project until sometime in 2015, following the strongly-worded 43-page comment letter by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) slamming the Bay Delta Conservation Plan’s draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS).
Nor did the forum leadership apparently know that the scathing EPA comments came on top of some 4,500 pages of searing reviews by municipalities, counties and water agencies that would be adversely impacted by the project, almost 2,000 pages of highly critical comments by environmental and fishing organizations, hundreds of pages of harsh analyses by government agencies and stinging comments from many thousands of California citizens. This vast array of critical comments reveal that BDCP is "suffering from a congenital terminal illness," according to Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA).
The EPA diagnosis pointed out that operating the proposed conveyance facilities “would contribute to increased and persistent violations of water quality standards in the Delta, set under the Clean Water Act,” and that the tunnels “would not protect beneficial uses for aquatic life, thereby violating the Clean Water Act."
The letter noted that the EIR/EIS “assumes a 100 percent success rate for habitat restoration, which is not consistent with our experience, or supported by restoration ecology and conservation biology academic literature and scientific investigation” and detailed the likelihood that proposed habitat restoration would exacerbate the production and transport of methylmercury.
EPA also criticized the failure to analyze upstream/downstream impacts and observed that there is broad scientific agreement that “existing freshwater flow conditions in the San Francisco Estuary are insufficient to protect the aquatic ecosystem and multiple fish species, and that both increased freshwater flows and aquatic habitat restoration are needed to restore ecosystem processes in the Bay Delta and protect native and migratory fish populations.”
The agency identified serious inadequacies in the level of analysis, the restoration and adaptive management programs, finance plan, selection of alternatives and found numerous major flaws in the specific effects determinations and impact analyses.
Does that sound like a project that deserves "Engineering Project of the Year" award and warrants being listed as a finalist for "Strategic Project of the Year” and “Green/New Project of the Year?"
Only folks who live a parallel universe devoid of logic, science and common sense would give grant ANY award to a $67 billion project that will hasten the extinction of Central Valley Chinook salmon, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species, as well as imperil salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers.
EPA’s comments on the BDCP EIR/EIS and more information about the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance can be found at: http://www.calsport.org