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Untasty Pudding

If you attend enough Council, Board, or Committee meetings and witness enough members of the public going off the deep end of this issue or that, then you might just develop an ounce of compassionate sympathy for the Board, Committee, or Council members who, by regulation, must sit there placidly, forbidden to react or respond.

Fort Bragg has seen some over-the-top speakers of the (arch) conservative ilk at the last two City Council meetings, pontificating against the “others” who make up the homeless and mentally ill portion of the populace. There's another variety of meeting-goer who never dares to step to the speaker's podium, but usually sits far enough back in the room that they can make crude remarks loud enough to be mildly disruptive while being heard by like-minded pals nearby; however, those simple-minded, fearmongerers don't have any edge on their Mendo-lib brethren and sisteren.

The proof of that un-tasty pudding was on display at the January 28 meeting of the Fort Bragg Planning Commission. More than a hundred souls packed the John Diederich Center on Dana Street at 6pm. Another dozen or so could be seen just outside the open doors. The purpose of the meeting: to adopt or deny a mitigated negative declaration for a 29,500 square feet shopping center just west of the intersection of Highways 1 and 20 and just north of Hare Creek (within the Coastal Zone) and whether to approve or deny permits for said shopping center. The centerpiece of the development: a Grocery Outlet store. Before the hearing started, Commissioner Stan Miklose (an owner of Down Home Foods at 115 South Franklin St.) recused himself because of financial conflicts.

Next, Fort Bragg's Community Development Director, Marie Jones, gave a 50-minute synopsis of the plan and mitigations the City has requested of the applicants (the property is owned by the Patton family who settled in Fort Bragg more than a century ago). Fifty minutes sounds long and here's where we get into the paradoxical contradictions of those you might label liberals of the Mendocino Coast (at least half the audience was made up of non-Fort Bragg residents). Many sat through Jones' explanation listening closely, perhaps even gaining the beginnings of an inkling of how much work goes into creating the documents necessary for the hearing. Others got restless, muttering snarky rejoinders to their closest neighbors, waiting for any slip of Marie Jones' tongue to grumble their displeasure — tiny mispronunciations stoked their restiveness as they awaited their turn to carry figurative torches and pitchforks of self-righteous liberal indignation to the speaker's podium.

But when the time came for public input, the muttering, grumbling snarky types were much like their cranky conservative counterparts two nights earlier at the City Council meeting. Most of those who had been disruptive enough for Planning Commission Chair Derek Hoyle to mildly admonish failed to rise to the podium. As usual, the grumblers pretty much always sit on their thumbs and gutlessly continue to mutter cheap, crude asides.

Most of those who took to the podium made valid points in a sane manner. Those points included questioning why Fort Bragg needs another large store, particularly a non-union outfit like Grocery Outlet. Doubts were raised about the location itself, one of the first Fort Bragg sites locals and tourists see as they drive west on Highway 20. This writer agrees that one of the last things anyone needs to see in the rolling fields west of the Highway One and 20 intersection is another shopping center.

Several speakers demanded that a full Environmental Impact Report (EIR) be completed before the plan goes any further. Several others cautioned against traffic problems that the shopping center might create. Dale Moyer implored the Planning Commissioners not to “pave over paradise,” and all was groovy, baby…

Except for a few lapses in fact like one speaker chastising Grocery Outlet for only selling processed and GMO laden food while ignoring a recent news item that details how Grocery Outlet is expanding its natural, organic, specialty, and health food items. The reason, of course, is monetary. Those healthier products have been flying off the shelves.

This is what I despise about my fellow liberals: slipshod, slippery slope references in the public square. What's worse, most coastal liberals will listen to a half truth, nod agreement, or sing hosannahs just as fast as any Fox News worshipper in Ogallala, Nebraska. Even more aggravating are the most pompous libs, who, at whatever age, act like immature babies when they can't bully someone to their way of thinking.

Case in point, one Cal Winslow. After he spread his more than three minutes of “I-have-a-degree-from-Berkeley” wisdom some of the trained lib-labs offered applause, though Chairman Hoyle had cautioned against it from the onset of the meeting. When Hoyle reminded the crowd once again, in a relatively genteel manner, that applause could prove intimidating to those with opposing views, Mr. Winslow was clearly heard snarling, in a tone unsuitable for addressing a biting dog, “F**k Off!”

And there it is, the mantra of the BABY Boomers, the battle cry of Sixties refugees when they don't get everything exactly their way: F**K Off!

I am reminded of the “wave speech” at the end of Chapter Eight in Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: “We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave.… So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark — that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.”

The wave rolled back some more when the Fort Bragg Planning Commission finally considered the question of adopting the “Mitigated Negative Declaration” on the Hare Creek Shopping Center. They voted 3-1 (Commissioner Teresa Rodriguez the lone dissenter) in favor of the project. A majority of the crowd began chanting E-I-R over and over for perhaps thirty seconds. Perhaps not exactly what Mario Savio envisioned, but he might have smiled in bemusement.

Meanwhile David Gurney — If you don't know Dave Gurney, you've missed some great demonstrations of modern Mendocino Coast liberalism run amok whenever Dave's emotions get the better of him — paced the back of the hall shouting, “Shame on You! Shame on You!” I think it safe to bet an acre or two that his comments were directed at the three Planning Commissioners who dared vote in a manner not befitting the mind of David Gurney.

To complete the ironic wave rolling back on the old Sixties and Seventies Libs, as the Commissioners took up discussion on whether to approve or deny the permits for the Hare Creek Shopping Center, and while Commissioner Sage Statham verbalized doubts about part of the permitting process, little Davy Gurney shouted out that Commissioner Statham was in violation of a conflict of interest. If he hadn't been yelling, Gurney might have noticed which way Statham was leaning.

“There's a conflict of interest,” Gurney hollered. “Sage Stratham [sic] wants an office out there. That's a conflict of interest.”

Chair Hoyle said, “David Gurney, could you please be quiet,” then proceeded with the vote. Commissioner Rodriguez: No; Commissioner Hammon: Aye; Commissioner Statham: No.

And with that, before Hoyle cast a second, “Aye,” the permits were denied because a 2-2 count shoots down a project that needs a majority vote. I couldn't see Gurney's face, but let's hope there was a brief moment of embarrassment, if not awareness.

Members of the Patton family stated that they would appeal to the Fort Bragg City Council, so this issue is far from over. Here's hoping that by the time of that City Council meeting some of the angry old libs learn how to behave in public. 


  1. cswan February 4, 2015


    While I was unable to attend the meeting,
    I did view the video of the proceedings

    I found the comment made ~1hr:40min in
    to be the “tipping point”.

    It was the revelation of a letter
    received on 1-20-15
    from a State Agency
    recommending denial of the permit
    (that was not included in the Staff Report?)

    It’s a long movie…

    especially streamed at – one – word – at – a time,
    (Yet streams fluidly,
    go figure . . .)

    I also found the discussion
    between staff and commissioners
    beginning at ~3hr:13min,
    especially the part where Marie Jones
    politely requests that, if it is the
    commissioners’ intention to deny the permits
    that they not prolong the ultimate outcome
    by requiring further staffwork and an EIR,
    “If your intent is to simply deny the permits anyway…
    [puhleez don’t make more work for us,
    as we have many other issues to be addressing,] etc etc”
    I believe is how she put it.

    . . . and after a long day of earthquake shocks
    the revelation of a letter
    received on 1-20-15
    from a State Agency
    recommending denial of the permit
    based on water availability issues
    (that was not included in the Staff Report?)
    would, I guess, make anyone in the room a tad DIZZY.
    Even the commissioners, who had a rough go of it
    just making their motions?

    But the bottom line is:
    There is not enough water available
    to provide the ~ Two (2) Million gallons/year
    that this project would require.
    No matter how many (further) staff hours
    are spent doing a COMPLETE and up-to-date EIR,
    addressing all the cited cumulative impacts of the plan,
    no matter how many consultants are HIRED,
    no matter how many LAWYERS the Pattons retain….
    There still will not be enough water.
    (“it doesn’t just fall from the sky”:
    is a statement that has taken on a whole new meaning.)
    no permits.
    For anyone, whether they were for or against
    this project, to turn it into WW3 at this juncture
    and battle at straw men would be capricious.
    The City of Fort Bragg is in a water crisis
    and has far more serious issues to consider
    than frivolous permit appeal(s).

    Please, Mr. Patton
    allow the permit denial to stand,
    and invest in helping the city of your birth,
    by retrofitting your many already existing buildings
    water-saving/recycling technologies,
    rather than blackmailing the city for 5 Million dollars
    for 2 acres of (waterless) property.
    the amount of revenue your family has generated from its
    investment in land holdings . . . losing a few acres could
    surely be written off as “part of the cost of doing business”, no?
    And that building would be beautiful say, North of Fort Bragg,
    or in Cleone?

    P.S. The “folks from out of town” who have chimed in on this issue may live outside the city limits? Many teach in the schools/own businesses/sing, dance and serve to attract visitors to Fort Bragg.

    It’s their DOLLARS that are spent on food, gas, gifts, entertainment, etc. in Fort Bragg on a weekly, if not daily basis; and their energy that stokes the engine of the Fort Bragg economy.

    Their dollars, 52 weeks a year, and those of their relatives, friends and neighbors,

    are essential to the Fort Bragg economy . . .

    Even in the dead of winter, when there are no “visitors”, except those of us who live in Mendocino County, enjoy spending our dollars “locally” when we shop for clothing, gifts, food and entertainment. . . . and/or have children, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews and friends that we enjoy visiting on our County’s scenic coast.

    So yes, this is an issue of concern for the entire county, and ALL of its residents . . . as for tens of thousands of years, humans have been catching their breath at that first glimpse of the ocean. If what they encounter instead is a dented can store, they may well choose to make a left hand turn, and head south to Mendocino . . . rather than take the right turn to enjoy all that the newly-remodeled :) Fort Bragg has to offer.

    • cswan February 6, 2015

      To clarify:

      I was able to view the recording of the hearing
      Unfortunately, the link I posted evaporated. (?)

      It does stream slowly, even w/a fast connection
      at wi-fi sites where YouTube, etc stream fluidly.
      (This said after trying at several sites around the county.)

      So patience is in order.

      Great theatre, and worth your time.
      Not quite as described by Msrs MaDonald & Gurney, imho.
      “The PROOF is in the Pudding”, as they say
      (and in the letters file, (link available on the website, or the City of Fort Bragg Planning Department website)
      should you not have 3.5 hrs
      to spend on slow streaming video.

      An appeal of the MND, if filed, should go
      directly to the California Coastal Commission
      —which would make them the “lead agency”
      to conduct a full and complete EIR.
      (Of course,
      such an appeal could be rescinded
      . . . if the property owner’s permit appeal
      is denied at the City Council level.)

      To file an appeal of the MND to the City Council
      would only send the project back to the City planners,
      rather than to the more objective CCC.


  2. David Gurney February 4, 2015

    Granny Malcolm must have forgot to read the sign: “Don’t Eat the Pudding”  because he sure lapped it up at the meeting he reports on.

    He also got his facts wrong.  There weren’t just a “dozen or so” people left out in the dark because of bad planning by the Planning Commission.  At least twenty-five people were turned away to go home and watch the hearing on their computers.  Another twenty waited outside the doors for most of the evening, trying to hear what was going on inside.  Among these were small children and the elderly, not that Old Macdonald could give a damn.

    And maybe he’s been attended so may boring meetings, that his glasses have fogged over to the point he can only perceive “over the top” speakers, and not the many who deliver as much articulate passion as you can manage in three minutes. When a meeting is run by a heavy-handed and humorless crack-pot like Chair Derek Hoyle – who jumped in on every speaker at the time limit, with an obnoxiously loud, beeping timer – it tends to make an impassioned crown even more unruly. Hoyle repeatedly admonished the crowd to “Please, Please, Please…Please….” – not politely clap when they liked a speaker, thus taking up more time than if he’d let the applause was run it’s course. Brandishing the gavel like a club, he repeatedly threatened his captive audience with clearing the room, and at one point tried to insist that no one was allowed laugh – eliciting more shock and snickers from the crowd. It was a mockery of civil democracy, lost on the likes of Macdonald and the Brucie-Boy news cult.

    If he’d done a bit of research or picked up the phone, he’d have known that the “Mitigated Negative Declaration” Marie Jones droned on for nearly and hour was a piece of such slipshod planning and negligence, that it’s a wonder no one was screaming for her immediate arrest. The rubber-stamp she was handing to the developers absolved them from doing any sort of environmental assessment on the project, a mis-placed and poorly designed shopping center that would have been and eyesore and environmental hazard.

    Apparently lost on the befuddled Malcolm Macdonald was the fact that that there were two items on the agenda, not one. The first for requiring an EIR, which the developers skated on, and the other for granting the permits, which thankfully the Commissioners did not grant on this horribly ugly and prominent strip mall on the headlands.

    And there most certainly was a potential conflict of interest, or at least a fiduciary relationship that was not disclosed and should have been, between Commissioner Statham and the applicants/developers. Mr. Statham’s family business “Sage’s Computer” is in the Boatyard Shopping Center, owned by the Pattons under whom the Sage business is a tenant.

    Yes, Old Malcolm certainly has tasted the Kool-Aid, to go along with his pudding, out there in the lib-lab vs. conservative war-zone of the mind, in the far-out Farrar Building of greater downtown Boonyville.

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