- Ripeness is All
- Frost-Fan Hearing
- Hare Creek Vote
- Editor Churn
- Killed-Tree Ban
- Water Concerns
- Bob Reeds
- Catch of the Day
- They Rule
- Bad Writing
- Water Needs
- Police Work
- Drug Therapy
- Remembering Poogy
- Foodshed News
- Darker Matter
- Three-day Notice
- Huff Puffs
- Nestlé Shutdown
SPINNING DEFEAT AS VICTORY
Fort Bragg Mayor Dave Turner did not attend Thursday's hearing in the Ukiah Superior Courtroom of Judge Richard Henderson. Whatever Turner knows about the judge's ruling he got from his $200 an hour, plus travel, San Francisco attorney. Yo, Turner! You really didn't “prevail” as you triumphantly announced in your press release this morning. And the citizens trying to prevent your destructive placement of a halfway house in the center of town, whom your attorney has now threatened with “sanctions,” simply had the whole show put over until their next appearance when they are likely to get the injunction against the project that they seek.
THE MAYOR is not only incorrect in his interpretation of what happened, having simply passed along the attorney's self-serving and misleading version of events, the pious Turner makes this patronizing statement at the conclusion of the City's incorrect press release: “Although I am pleased to have prevailed in court, I am saddened that a group calling themselves 'Concerned Citizens of Fort Bragg' would waste our taxpayers money and Court time on a frivolous action that the Court pointed out several times was premature.”
NOW CLASS, compare and contrast Turner's version of events with those of attorney Rod Jones representing Concerned Citizens. The Mayor goes first:
“On Thursday, March 26, the City of Fort Bragg prevailed in Mendocino County Superior Court at a hearing on the petition by the ‘Concerned Citizens of Fort Bragg” (CCFB) for a Temporary Restraining Order asking the court to stop the City from proceeding with disbursement of Community Development Block Grant funds to the Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center for acquisition of the Old Coast Hotel property. In denying CCFB’s request, the Court noted that the Petitioners had not given any indication that they would prevail on the merits of any of the claims in their underlying writ petition and complaint against the City which was filed on March 13. The Court also noted that there was no threat of imminent harm and, consequently, the petition for a Temporary Restraining Order was denied. The Court also set a preliminary injunction hearing for April 24 and moved the hearing date on the City’s demurrer to the CCFB writ petition and complaint to that same day. Mayor Dave Turner stated, ‘Although I am pleased to have prevailed in court, I am saddened that a group calling themselves “Concerned Citizens of Fort Bragg” would waste our taxpayers money and Court time on a frivolous action that the Court pointed out several times was premature’.”
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THE CITY OF FORT BRAGG then turned around yesterday and paid their SF attorney to seek sanctions against Jones and his clients for daring to oppose the City’s attempt to ramrod the Coast Hotel project through without opposition. Fort Bragg’s attorney, Samantha Zutler, filed a motion on behalf of Mayor Turner and his 3-2 City Council majority which conveniently ignores the extensive explanation Jones provided in his declaration about why he filed for the TRO. Legally, this is a legitimate matter for the court to decide and if anyone was outtaline it was Ms. Zutler who tried to threaten Jones into not filing. As Jones notes, the City effectively committed to the Coast Hotel when they approved the “forgivable loan” (i.e. grant/gift) for it so they could meet some kind of Community Block Grant deadline for this year or next. If they couldn’t find a way to spend the Grant this year, they’d lose it and the only building that was willing to come in for less than the grant amount was the Coast Hotel, which magically dropped their price just in time for the deal to be made in January.
Now the City wants to pretend that they have not “acted” on the proposal?
* * *
MS. ZUTLER’S MOTION:
Pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure Section 128.7(c)(1), the City is serving you with the attached Supplemental Declaration in Support of Its Motion for Sanctions based on the filing of the TRO application. As was stated in our prior email, if you do not withdraw your TRO application immediately, we will file the Motion for Sanctions with the court on April 16, 2015, or as soon thereafter as practical. Thank you. Kind regards,
101 Howard Street, Suite 400 | San Francisco, CA 94105-6125
415.655.8103 / 415.655.8100 | fax
Supplemental Declaration of Samantha Zutler in support of City of Fort Bragg's motion for sanctions.
I Samantha Zutler declare as follows:
I am an attorney at law duly licensed and authorized to practice before all the courts of the state of California. I am a partner with the law firm of Burke Williams and Sorensen LLP, counsel for respondent/defendant city of Fort Bragg (City) in this pending action. I make the following declaration based upon my own personal knowledge and if called upon I could and would testify competently thereto.
Attached as Exhibit A. is a true and correct copy of a letter I sent to Rodney Richard Jones, attorney for petitioner, on March 13, 2015. In the letter I advised Mr. Jones that if he sought a temporary restraining order against the city before the action was ripe that "the city would seek all available sanctions."
I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of California the foregoing is true and correct.
Dear Mr. Jones:
I write to respond to your March 4, 2015 letter to the Fort Bragg City Council regarding the Council's approval of CDBG funding for the purchase and rehabilitation of the Old Coast Hotel by Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center at its January 12, 2015 meeting.
Shortly after your letter was forwarded to me, I left you a voicemail with my contact information, explaining that I would provide a response from the city by Monday, March 16, and invited you to call me with any questions. You did not do so. Instead, you apparently sent another e-mail on Tuesday, March 10. I did not receive your e-mail until Thursday, when you sent another e-mail, saying you had met your obligation to meet and confer, received no response, and would be filing a temporary restraining order next week. I called you immediately upon receiving your e-mail on Thursday and e-mailed you. The city is not "advancing the clock quickly," as you state in your March 10 e-mail. The City Council has taken no action on the project since the January 12 City Council meeting. Your claim of urgency is particularly baffling given that the April 13 meeting is the first time the project will be on the agenda since January 12, meaning that the Council has not officially considered the project since January 12, and will not take further action on the project until at least April 13.
You are in essence, seeking to prevent the city from considering approval of the loan agreement at the April 13 meeting. There is no legal basis for using the judicial system to restrain a governmental agency from acting on a loan agreement that it has not yet been approved. [sic]. An action for a TRO is thus not yet ripe. Such an action may be ripe if the council approves the agreement at the April 13 City Council meeting. If you seek a TRO at this point, before the action is ripe, the city will seek all available sanctions.
As I indicated in my e-mail to you this morning (March 13, 2015), I am not available next week to appear on a TRO. My earliest availability is Friday, March 20. Again, given that there is no urgency on this matter, the action is not yet ripe, and the City's unavailability for hearing, the City will seek all available sanctions if you move forward with a hearing date next week.
In your March 4 letter, you requested that the City reconsider its decision to approve funding for this project and receive further public comment. Some of the arguments you raise are based on public opposition to the project due to client privacy concerns and a general sentiment that the Old Coast Hotel is an inappropriate location for the project. While the City acknowledges those concerns, the purpose of this letter is to respond to the legal issues you raise in your letter.
You claim that the city did not provide adequate public notice for the public hearing held on January 12, 2015, for the project, and that the City has not met the citizen participation requirements of the CDBG regulations. This assertion is incorrect. The city has gone above and beyond noticing requirements under state and federal law. As you know, (citation) requires two public hearings to be held for CDBG program. However, the requirement for two public hearings applies when the entirety of the CDBG application process is at issue. Once CDBG has awarded funds to the City, based on the City's application, City Council decisions regarding expenditure of those funds are no longer subject to CDBG hearing requirements. Thus, the City Council's decision on January 12 which involve funds that had already been approved by CDBG for a specific project was not subject to CDBG public hearing requirements. There was thus no requirement for a public hearing to be held on January 12 at all.
(Citation) governs decisions regarding specific projects using CDBG funds. (Citation) requires only "reasonable advance notice of an opportunity to comment on proposed activities." This means that the only requirement for the January 12 agenda item was that the public be given reasonable advance notice. You are correct that the City made a mistake in the original notice of hearing (it was not required to have), but that mistake was corrected seven days before the meeting. The corrective notice was widely distributed to the media, posted on all city posting boards and the city's website and sent electronically to individuals who had signed up for certain alerts from the city.
You are not correct in claiming that the agenda included the incorrect address. The agenda which was the only notice required for this item included the correct address and was posted using City's regular posting procedures.
The most powerful evidence that the public received adequate notice is the fact that the hearing -- which the city held, despite the fact that it had no legal obligation to do so -- lasted approximately three hours and included comments from numerous community members. Given the number of people who spoke at the meeting (for and against the project), is no evidence the community members were confused about the location of the project.
You also question whether transitional housing is an allowed use in the central business district (CBD). Again, the project is properly zoned. The project is a mixed-use development that includes five transitional housing units. "Transitional housing" is a different type of use than an "emergency/transitional shelter." Transitional housing provides longer-term housing to facilitate moving people from homelessness to permanent housing by providing them a residence and supportive services. Emergency shelters provide short-term shelter to the homeless and disaster victims.
Government code requires that local governments treat transitional housing as a residential use of property and only subject transitional housing to the regulations that apply to housing of the same type in the same zone. The CBD zoning district allows mixed-use developments, provided that the residential units are located on second or upper floors. The project complies with this zoning standard. The project will be subject to all other zoning standards applicable to mixed-use developments within the CBD. There is currently a moratorium on in lieu parking fees in the CBD.
You also question what other properties were investigated before the City and the Hospitality Center decided on the purchase of the Old Coast Hotel for the project, and why those properties were rejected as suitable sites. Hospitality Center conducted an extensive search before settling on the 101 North Franklin Street property. We suggest you contact Hospitality Center if you seek details of that search.
Finally, your understanding that CDBG rules or guidelines allow the City to defer receipt of the allocated funds for a period of three years without penalty is in error. All CDBG money must be expended within the applicable grant expenditure period. Further, due to the CDBG "50% expenditure rule," failure by the City to expend these project funds by March 31, 2016 will preclude the City from applying for CDBG funds in the 2016 CDBG grant cycle.
There is no merit to any of the legal arguments you raised in your March 4 letter. There was nothing improper or unlawful about the Council's decision on January 12 and the agenda item was properly noticed. There are thus no legal grounds for filing a TRO, particularly at this point in time when issues are not yet ripe for adjudication. You and your clients are welcome to comment on the loan agreement which will be considered at the April 13 City Council meeting.
Sincerely, Samantha Zutler
* * *
ATTORNEY JONES HAD ADDRESSED THIS QUESTION in his application for the TRO, which Ms. Zutler conveniently ignores.
Except from Jones Declaration in support of TRO application:
“V. The Issues Are Ripe For Adjudication. The claims and issues presented exist in present time. The City has shown absolutely no inclination to address, let alone cure, these issues. Instead, City wants to march forward without further reflection. As indicated in the Application for TRO, two of the three council members who voted in favor of the project have clearly expressed their absolute intention to remain steadfast and approve the final resolution. Yet it would take one who voted in the majority to reconsider and that is not in the cards. So it is appropriate now to stay further action pending a full injunction hearing. That would simply entail the City postponing its April 12 vote to April 26 or later, in order to accommodate a briefing schedule. Rather than respond in any fashion on the merits, it is expected that the City will attempt to demur to the petition/complaint, with a fallback position that the matter is not ripe for adjudication until after the “I’s” are dotted and the “T’s” crossed. But that is an inaccurate interpretation of the ripeness doctrine. As recently as 10 days ago, the First District had occasion to address this doctrine in People v. Johnson (3-13-15; No. A136573) ___ Cal.App.4th ___. At page 17 of the slip opinion it said this: "The ripeness requirement . . . prevents courts from issuing purely advisory opinions. It is rooted in the fundamental concept that the proper role of the judiciary does not extend to the resolution of abstract differences of legal opinion . . . [and] is primarily bottomed on the recognition that judicial decision-making is best conducted in the context of an actual set of facts so that the issues will be framed with sufficient definiteness to enable the court to make a decree finally disposing of the controversy." (Pacific Legal Foundation v. California Coastal Com. (1982) 33 Cal.3d 158, 170.) The ripeness doctrine, however, should not prevent courts from adjudicating matters where: (1) the dispute is concrete and appropriate for immediate resolution and (2) delayed resolution would present a hardship to the parties. (Id. at pp. 170-173.) Further, the court is not even being asked to fully adjudicate the controversy, as plaintiff is quite prepared to lock horns with respondents in a regular, noticed hearing. Plaintiffs are seeking only to restrain City and State from rendering this issue moot by way of some backdoor arrangement that expeditiously provides funds to the escrow account. Certainly, there now exists an “actual controversy” that has been fully articulated. “A controversy is ‘ripe’ when it has reached, but has not passed, the point that the facts have sufficiently congealed to permit an intelligent and useful decision to be made.” [Citation.] But “ripeness is not a static state” [citation], and a case that presents a true controversy at its inception becomes moot “‘if before decision it has, through act of the parties or other cause, occurring after the commencement of the action, lost that essential character’” [citation].’” (Wilson & Wilson v. City Council of Redwood City (2011) 191 Cal.App.4th 1559, 1573),” as cited in Fairview Valley Fire, Inc. v. California Dept. of Forestry (1-9-2015; D065971) __ Cal.App.4th __, at slip opn., p. 13. In a closely analogous situation, the First District discussed ripeness in Powell v. County of Humboldt (2014) 222 Cal.App.4th 1424. The Powells challenged the constitutionality of a county general plan requirement that they provide an aircraft overflight easement as a condition for obtaining a building permit to make minor alterations to their residence as an unlawful taking of property. “With respect to the related issue of ripeness, we believe the correspondence between the Powells' counsel and the County sufficiently established a final, definitive decision by the County that no permit would be issued without the easement. [fn.] No more was required to satisfy the ripeness requirement. (County of Alameda v. Superior Court (2005) 133 Cal.App.4th 558, 567; Toigo v. Town of Ross (1998) 70 Cal.App.4th 309, 325).” (222 Cal.App.4th at pp. 1434-1435.) Here, too, the City has had a number of opportunities to backpedal and fix or redo its approach but adamantly refuses to do so. It is time for judicial review.
* * *
CONCERNED CITIZENS OF FORT BRAGG (CCFB) also addressed the question of “ripeness.”
Excerpt From CCFB Press Release Last Night:
It was at the Council’s January 12, 2015 meeting when it approved a resolution “approving use” of $1.2 million in federal and state funds for purchase of the Old Coast Hotel by the Mendocino Coast Hospitality House. While technically a “loan” to the nonprofit MCHH, the City intends to excuse the debt and let the organization keep the building outright. At the hearing, however, City Attorney Samantha Zutler claimed that the City “has taken no action ‘approving’ this project,” despite the January resolution’s wording to the effect that the City “does hereby approve use of funding” of the 2015 Community Development Block Grant “for a project located at 101 North Franklin Street.” Staking out this position, she argued that CCFB has come to court prematurely in that the dispute does not meet legal “ripeness” standards. She also argued that there is no proof that members of CCFB are taxpayers in the City and thus have no “standing” to challenge any of the Council’s actions.
MENDOCINO COUNTY LAWSUIT TAKES AIM AT NOISE FROM WIND MACHINES USED TO COMBAT FROST
by Glenda Anderson
The giant fans towering over Anderson Valley vineyards have stood mostly still and silent for years, with farmers preferring sprinkler systems to protect their grape crops from freezing temperatures in late winter and early spring.
But as the drought has dragged on, Wine Country growers seeking to conserve precious water supplies and comply with new state regulations have increased their reliance on fans to battle frost, triggering complaints from neighbors over the noise they generate.
A lawsuit filed in Mendocino County Superior Court is escalating the fight, taking aim at the fans as an unchecked nuisance and posing a new dilemma for growers navigating an increasingly complex landscape of state and local laws and neighborhood concerns.
The lawsuit, filed by Mark Scaramella, a valley resident and managing editor of the iconoclastic Anderson Valley Advertiser newspaper, claims the fans near his home regularly violate the county’s noise ordinance, which is supposed to limit the noise that carries to his home to 40 decibels at night, when fans are typically deployed.
When his three closest farm neighbors fire up their five fans, Scaramella said, it is much louder — like having five helicopters hovering over his home, he said.
“It’s not just a noise. The sound rattles your windows. It just runs right through you. It’s awful,” he said.
His lawsuit calls on the county to apply its noise ordinance to fans, something that is not currently being done because farming practices are considered exempt. In a court hearing next month, Scaramella’s attorney, Rod Jones, plans to seek an injunction suspending and revoking permits for fans that exceed accepted noise levels. Those fans should be replaced with ones designed to be quieter, Scaramella said.
The lawsuit names as defendants Mendocino County’s elected supervisors, the agricultural commissioner, the planning director and Scaramella’s nearest farming neighbors — Pennyroyal Farms, Foursight Wines and V. Sattui Winery.
Growers across Mendocino County have taken notice of the suit, which they said could amount to a broad challenge to their ability to protect their crops.
“It’s really about the right to farm. Anyone in agriculture could be affected,” said Devon Jones, executive director of the Mendocino County Farm Bureau.
Farmers prefer not to use the wind machines, which are less effective at protecting against frost than spraying the crops with water, a practice that encases vines in an ice shield that offers a better buffer against sustained colder temperatures.
The fans work by mixing in warmer layers of air, increasing the overall ambient temperature. Farmers say they have increased their dependence on fans in response to the drought both because it was necessary to conserve water supplies and because it was the right thing to do.
“We were proud of the fact we could be saving millions of gallons of water,” said Deborah Cahn, an owner of Pennyroyal Farms, which grows grapes in addition to raising sheep and goats to produce cheese. She estimated the farm has saved 3 million gallons of water in the past few years by using fans instead of water for frost protection.
Across much of Mendocino and Sonoma counties, the fans also are a key frost-protection alternative for growers now governed by new state regulations devised to limit impacts on imperiled fish species in the Russian River and its tributaries.
Federal and state officials say sharp springtime drawdowns in the river for frost protection have stranded and killed endangered coho salmon and threatened steelhead trout. Farming groups and grape growers have disputed that science, but they lost a prolonged court battle last year that sought to invalidate the state move.
As a result, the use of fans is once more on the rise after decades of decline, said Glenn McGourty, a farm adviser with the UC Davis Cooperative Extension.
At up to $34,000 each, the fans represent a significant investment for growers, who have much on the line in late winter and early spring, when early growth on vines can be damaged by frost. The fans are ubiquitous across Wine Country, especially in valley-floor vineyards where cold air can settle.
Mendocino County officials said that while they permit fans, they do not keep track of their numbers.
Scaramella estimated that about 80 fans were standing in Anderson Valley last year when he last counted. Five are located 200 to 600 yards from his home, where he has lived since 2007, he said. He has lived in Anderson Valley since 1990, he said, adding that last year was the first time the fans were a problem.
His lawsuit, filed this month, was triggered by what he said was a surge in fan use last spring. His brother, dying of cancer at the time, was brought to tears because the noise prevented him from sleeping, Scaramella said.
County officials say the farmers are allowed to use the fans under state “right to farm” regulations aimed at protecting agricultural operations from nuisance lawsuits filed by people who move into rural areas, then complain about those operations.
Scaramella contends the farm-protection laws don’t apply to fans not previously used or those purchased or rented in the past three years — his understanding of the window he has to oppose new farming activity under state laws.
“They didn’t pre-exist me,” Scaramella said.
Farmers defend their use of the fans but also say they are sensitive to the noise complaints and are taking measures to address the concerns.
The Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association posted an apology for the noise on its website and has created frost protection guidelines aimed at minimizing use of the machines. They include limits on how cold it must be before fans are turned on — 35 degrees — and when they should be shut off. The association also runs an email notification system to let residents know when there’s an impending freeze that could trigger the fans, which typically run from the middle of the night until morning.
Cahn, the Pennyroyal Farms owner, said she hasn’t turned on her fans so far this year — there have been few if any frost threats — and used them only 13 times in the past three years.
Fan use peaked last year when water supplies were critically low, said Jones, the Farm Bureau executive. This year, due to a strong pair of storms in December and February, most farmers’ irrigation ponds are full, allowing them to use sprinklers for protection and reducing the need for fans, she said.
Some farmers who rented fans in 2014 have not done so this year because they have enough water, said Michael Fay, who is on the board of the Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association.
But the noise issue is still rippling throughout Anderson Valley, where more than two dozen people attended a community meeting last spring to complain about the disturbance, Fay said.
Fan use could continue to rise with increased restrictions on water use and persistent drought conditions that some say may be the new normal.
“For everybody who thinks climate change isn’t happening, all you have to do is look out the window,” said McGourty, the farm adviser.
Farmers generally are coming to the conclusion that anything they can do to conserve water is smart, he said.
That includes research at UC Davis, where scientists are looking for alternatives to both water and fans for frost protection, McGourty said. They include spraying copper onto vines to prevent the growth of frost-catalyzing bacteria, like the ones used to make artificial snow. Absent those bacteria, plants can be exposed to colder temperatures — down to 26 degrees — without freezing, McGourty said.
But that’s a future remedy, and Scaramella wants relief now.
His case is set for an April 10 hearing in Mendocino County Superior Court. The county is seeking to have the case dismissed.
(Courtesy, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.)
DEB'S FOOT IN MOUTH
The article on the front page of the FB Advocate:
* * *
According to Debra Lennox, a photo I submitted had "obviously been manipulated to exaggerate the filtered view in the distance. There is no way that the naked eye can see this view as represented.”
It's amusing that the architect for the Hare Creek Mall would accuse me of "manipulating" a photograph of the "filtered" ocean view that her shopping center would have blocked. I will state unequivocally that the photo she mentions was not altered in any way, other than to have the copy-shop print the color photograph in black and white, in order to save costs. What's seen in my photo is what the camera saw, period. Even if I knew how to manipulate photographs in ways she seems to imagine, I would never consider turning in such a photo as evidence on the public record in matter of civic importance. Such allegations made by Lennox are extremely serious.
On the other hand, the heavily doctored images of the "Hare Creek Center" - turned by Lennox and used by the Community Development Department to promote the project with a poorly prepared Mitigated Negative Declaration - are an extremely bad job of Photoshop indeed. The background photos were lifted from Google Maps, and the masked-in renderings of the Lennox-designed buildings were hopefully a lot uglier than the mall would have been in real life.
As for "There is no way that the naked eye can see this view as represented." - Lennox (and your reporter) should should perhaps get away from their computer screens and out of their cars, to perhaps find the view in question. I'd be more than happy to take her or anyone else to the spot.
In the meantime, Ms. Lennox ought to be more careful about slandering members of the observant public with false allegations of photo manipulation.
— David Gurney
* * *
WELL FOLKS, TONIGHT WE MADE A DIFFERENCE. The appeal for requiring an EIR had a positive outcome. As a bonus the permit denial was also upheld. There is a City Council that actually listens to the facts and makes informed decisions. It was a unanimous vote on both counts.
Last Night The Fort Bragg City Council, after hearing sound evidence, voted unanimously to require a new and complete EIR for the Hare Creek property and upheld the Planning Commission’s decision to deny the permit package. Also they asked the developers to present a new less intrusive design before considering the project again. It was a full house and the audience was well behaved.
To everyone that helped on this project, whether financially, materially or just keeping us in your prayers, THANK YOU,THANK YOU, THANK YOU !!! The citizens had a voice.
FORMER ADVOCATE EDITOR BACK IN FLORIDA; NOW EDITOR IN CHIEF AT FLORIDA ‘ACT NEWS’ NEWSPAPER
Well that certainly didn't take long.
After being lured from Florida to California last November to be editor at the Mendocino Beacon/Advocate News, Suzette Cook, a plucky, hardworking photojournalist dug in and instantly injected some life to the moribund coast newspapers. Her reward? She recevied the “bum's rush” out of town before her three-month probationary period expired.
The coast newspaper’s loss is Florida's gain. Ms. Cook doesn't know how lucky she is to escape the dysfunctional newspapers.
Cook is at the helm of a newspaper located in Alachua, Florida (population 9,059, part of the Gainesville, Florida Metropolitan Area).
Wikipedia said: “The newspaper 'Alachua County Today' has its headquarters in Alachua city. The paper serves all of the communities within Alachua County, but it focuses on smaller municipalities outside of Gainesville.”
Here's the link to the newspaper’s website:
The Advocate issued this terse statement about Ms. Cook’s “departure” on February 11: “Suzette Cook has decided to pursue other endeavors and has stepped down as Editor of The Mendocino Beacon and Fort Bragg Advocate News. We appreciate all she's done during her time here and wish her well on her journey!”
No one bought the “pursue other endeavors” baloney. Why didn't they just say they pushed her out the door?
Why didn't she last here?
It could be because of things like these comments people left on the Advocate’s website upon hearing of her departure:
"Too bad. She brought a great and positive energy to both the paper and this site." … "Bummer! She had vision, and community!" … "She is a fantastic human, will be missed!"
Last November, Advocate Publisher Sharon DiMauro (who has to GO herself if the newspaper is to get back where it once was as the newspaper of record) wrote in Editor & Publisher: "We cast a wide net, looking for just the right person for the job," said DiMauro, who is celebrating her 33rd anniversary with the papers this month. "We looked for, and are pleased to have found, someone who has lived and worked in Mendocino County and is familiar with the issues and challenges faced by our diverse communities."
She should have added: "And then we'll get rid of her after she moves here from Florida and does a fantastic job."
Although they didn't trumpet the news, new Advocate Sports Editor Chris Calder was listed as the "editor" on the paper's masthead last week. Last year, Calder replaced newspaper veteran Amy Johnston who joined the exodus of the paper’s "award winning" staff over the past couple years.
This was the greeting Cook received upon relocating to the coast last November:
That's when the above photo appeared in the Advocate in their story: “Newspapers welcome new editor.”
(Courtesy, Mendocino Sports Plus)
FIRE SAFE FOREST ORDINANCE CONTEMPLATES BANNING INTENTIONALLY KILLED TREES LEFT STANDING
Concerned about Community and Firefighter safety, the Albion Little River Fire District Board of Directors has been evaluating avenues for addressing a known public nuisance and fire hazard. Brought forward by the THP Committee, comprised of Board members Chris Skyhawk and Scott Roat and Fire Chief Ted Williams, an ordinance has been drafted which would levy potential fines on land owners within the District who intentionally kill trees then leave them standing.
Because over half of the forty-four square mile District is composed of forest lands, this presents a significant threat to property owners. The breadth of this threat is self-evident from aerial photographs posted at DeadForest.org, which show dead standing timber in nearby forest lands. The killing of trees with little commercial value is often accomplished with herbicides. Through the years Timber Companies have repeatedly stated this is the cheapest method available to them. As a whole, Mendocino County has tens of thousands of acres of these dead standing trees.
“Our District residents came to us and expressed legitimate fears about the increased potential fire hazard and the danger it presents to their lives and property”, said Roat.
“We are a rural District. Many people could find themselves trapped by roads that have only one way in and out. It is our duty as a Fire District to protect our neighbors, their lives and property.”
“Dead trees can act as a fire ladder,” said Chief Williams. “Standing dead timber are known as widow-makers and are prone to falling. This presents a danger to the Firefighters who are operating in their vicinity.” “Although Cal Fire has ultimate responsibility for fighting wildland fires,” continues Williams, “our volunteers are frequently the first on the scene. These men and women already know the risks involved in their service to our community. I worry about practices that knowingly add to that risk level. Part of my job is to assess fire risk and, when I see it, suggest remedy. Studies show that herbicide-treated lands increase fuel loads.”
“This is a difficult issue for our Board to face,” said Skyhawk. “The state has, to this point, not provided study, direction or regulation. We are in the midst of a multi-year drought. I am concerned about practices that may be economically favorable to a private interest but potentially dangerous to the public interest.”
The situation creates a dilemma for the Board. Cal-Fire Chief David Shew says, “From my education and experience, a forest with dead standing timber can pose additional and different risks versus a healthy forest.” Yet to date, the State has not taken action on this issue. Some on the Board have suggested engaging a consultant to provide a third-party independent analysis.
The ordinance has been submitted to County Counsel for review. Depending on legal advice and public comments, the ordinance may be revised before being brought to a vote before the full Board.
“Among Board members there is broad concern for the safety of our District residents and the volunteers who serve them”, said Skyhawk. “We await advice from County Counsel as we continue to gather input from Board members, first responders, residents, and stakeholders”. The Albion Little River Fire Protection District is located in Mendocino County, Ca. Resources: Ordinance:
Aerial Overview of Dead Standing Timber:
(Albion-Little River Fire District Press Release)
THE OVERALL WATER situation for inland Mendocino County is bleaker this year than it was last year at this time. As a knowledgeable water watcher puts it: "Part of the prob, a big part, is that Mendo is the little dog in the pack. Sonoma County Water Agency (and the Sonoma BOS sits as their governing board) will not support dialing back the water release from Lake Mendocino before Memorial Day. They do not want complaints from the Russian River resort operators, canoe rental businesses, and overall business community who rely in part on summer recreational river users. They have the water rights and the money. Meanwhile, here in Mendo, households in Redwood Valley will be threatened with their tap running dry."
Robert Andrew ‘Bob’ Reeds was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1927 and died in San Rafael, California on December 26, 2014. He remembered his early Boy Scout rowing and camping experiences in great detail and with enjoyment. As a teen, Bob and family moved to Southern California for his father's health. Once settled, he attended Hollywood High School and worked summers in Yosemite National Park where he learned to love the exploration of the high country wilderness. When he later attended Stanford University, he continued to work in Yosemite during vacations, renewing and strengthening his life-long interest in hiking, exploration, and the challenge of climbing.
After graduation from Stanford in 1952, Bob set out on his own to work his way around the world. He found passage and sailed from port to port on a series of freighters; taking jobs where he could find them. On return, after a year of discovery and adventure, he and a Yosemite friend wrote a successfully produced screenplay featuring an up-and-coming Clint Eastwood. He next formed a friendship with a co-worker at the company in which he was employed and, together, they quit their jobs and formed a partnership and an advertising agency. Bob ran the firm of Reeds and Farris for 30 years, then retired to devote the rest of his life to what he loved…the challenge and test of his endurance as he climbed the peaks of Peru, Japan, and, of course, the United States…and the study of nature and man's role in its care. The final years of his life, spent in the Anderson Valley, were among his happiest and most fulfilling.
Bob's children, Susan Taylor, of Seattle, Jim Reeds of San Rafael, and Jean Cook of Boston, recall the love of life their father radiated, their many and varied camping experiences with him and his great capacity for living life with exuberance and intensity. They and his wife, Betty, treasure their memories of him as “a parade after whom none can follow.”
CATCH OF THE DAY, March 27, 2015
HECTOR ALVARADO, Santa Rosa/Ukiah. Possession of controlled substance and paraphernalia.
KEVIN BETTS, Willits. Under influence of controlled substance, probation revocation.
JUSTIN DEXTER, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.
WESLEY DIXON, Ukiah. Burglary, loitering, possession of burglary tools.
TYLER GEORGE, Oakland/Ukiah. Pot possession for sale, cultivation, processing, sale, transport, furnish.
NICHOLAS LANZIT, Willits. Domestic assault, destruction of wireless equipment to prevent call for help, possession of meth, violation of court order.
LATISHA MCCLOUD, Stewart’s Point/Ukiah. Burglary, failure to appear, probation revocation.
RONALD POWELL, Ukiah. Grand theft, reckless driving.
ZACHARIA ROZEK, Fort Bragg. Drunk in public. (Frequent flyer.)
CARL SWANSON, Gualala. Probation revocation.
JEDIDIAH TODD, Potter Valley. Probation revocation.
SHANE WALBURN, Laytonville. Domestic assault.
STATEMENT OF THE OBVIOUS
With the first $5 billion presidential campaign contest coming around corner, an “electoral extravaganza” (Chomsky) very possibly pitting two dynastic families (the Clintons and the Bushes have together have held the White House for 20 of the last 26 years) against one another in an ever more openly oligarchic New Gilded Age, now seems as good a time as ever to embrace a different, genuinely popular type of politics from the bottom up. The top-down method has failed miserably and not incidentally threatens to wipe out life on Earth in the not so distant future.
— Paul Street. His latest book is They Rule: The 1% v. Democracy (Paradigm, 2014)
BY ANY DEFINITION
This California is by definition a desert. Any place with less than 20 inches of annual rainfall is a desert. Per the Census Bureau, the population is growing at 500,000 per year. This means showers, toilet flushes, cooking and other water needs for millions of new residents. Low-flow toilets and no more lawns is not going to generate enough water to solve the problem.
Money doesn't seem to be a problem; we are building a train that goes nowhere, costing billions of dollars. Maybe we could put that money to a more productive use. How about increasing reservoir capacity, new dams or desalinization plants?
Keith De Filippis, San Jose
FROM THE INSIDE
I was a San Francisco police officer for 32 years. I worked patrol, vehicle and foot beat the entire time. I have seen, heard and done many things that most people couldn't even imagine. I have testified in court justifying a decision I made in a split second to people who had weeks and months to judge my actions. I have been through natural disasters, mass murder scenes, major-injury traffic accidents, and many other incidents that non-police officers would run from.
I have seen and done these things, and yet I don't profess to know all there is to know about police work. Each and every incident is different. None can be treated like the last. I say all this because I am tired of watching and listening to the many people out there who have decided that they know better than the police how an incident should have been handled. None of the people i've heard express their opinion was a police officer. How is it that anyone who hasn't done it knows how to do it better? I've done it and I don't know how to do it better.
Rod Lee, Vallejo
MORE HARM THAN GOOD
The prevalence of prescribing psychiatric medications, especially anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs, has exploded in the United States in the last 20 years. I have been a consumer of psych meds for the past 21 years, taking them for depression and anxiety, always assuming that I'd be worse off without them and admittedly feeling a sense of superiority to those who medicated their emotional pain with alcohol or recreational drugs.
Now I'm not so sure.
Dr. Peter Breggin of upstate New York, in private practice since 1968, has a long history of challenging the “psychopharmaceutical complex,” as he calls it, having testified in support of consumers and their families suing pharmaceutical companies and having written numerous books and articles highlighting the dangers of taking psychiatric drugs. Breggin asserts that psych meds do more harm than good, and that simply put, they merely blunt emotions. He advocates therapy and social support instead of psych meds, and he doesn't feel that emotional and psychological issues are something to be treated medically.
My depression has a lot to do with learning to suppress my emotions in a dysfunctional family, and now to be exposed to the idea that I've spent 20 years taking drugs that further suppress my emotions is highly disturbing! If psych meds are nothing more than fancy anesthetics, then there's seemingly little difference between relying on psych meds and relying on alcohol or recreational drugs.
Note: Dr. Breggin asserts that withdrawing from psychiatric drugs is a difficult and potentially dangerous process and should be done with professional help. To check out Dr. Breggin's books, go to www.breggin.com.
Keith Bramstedt, San Anselmo
A SAD DAY IN MENDOCINO COAST HISTORY
Clyde Lucas Killed By Landmine 46 Years Ago
by Paul McCarthy
It was 46 years ago today that war took the life of Mendocino resident Clyde Austin “Poogy” Lucas. Lucas, a 1966 graduate of Mendocino High School, was killed by an explosive device March 26, 1969 in Phu Yen Province in Viet Nam. He was only 21 years old.
This hero, and his ultimate sacrifice for his country and this community, remain largely unknown except by his classmates.
MSP had to lead a three-year, one-man effort to get his name BACK on the Mendocino High School football scoreboard after it had been removed when the new one was erected. The old scoreboard was dedicated in his memory, but when the new one went up the sign was just cast aside.
Try as you might, you wouldn't have been able to find anything around the high school, or in town, commemorating his sacrifice until last Fall when the MUSD finally put his name back on the scoreboard. If there is something else dedicated to his sacrifice in Mendocino, it’s well hidden.
Someone said a little triangle patch of ground at Main & Lansing Streets might be dedicated to him - but it turned out to be dedicated to the memory of 15-year-old Michael James Hill (May 9, 1951 - Jan. 16, 1966) who drowned in Mendocino Bay and whose body was never recovered - and now someone has stolen HIS marker from triangle.
As far as I can tell, the only acknowledgement of Lucas existence can be found four places:
1.) The small plot of land he occupies in the Hillcrest Cemetery, close by the high school he graduated from.
2.) By a flag pole (on a plaque) in the Noyo Harbor Mooring Basin that acknowledges his ultimate sacrifice and that of John Hollister, age 20 and another MHS grad, who made the ultimate sacrifice for his country in Viet Nam on June 27, 1970.
3.) On Panel 28 W, Line 049 on the Viet Nam Veterans Wall in Washington, DC.
4.) Veterans Hall in Fort Bragg
From all accounts, Lucas was a great guy and a fine athlete. He lived on Ukiah Street with his father and sister. Many classmates commented about him on a Mendocino High School Reunion page. Mary (Rodrigues) Miller wrote two years ago: ”‘Poogy’ was my classmate from first grade through twelfth. I will never forget the crazy Halloween water balloon fights in front of his house. I always went home soaking wet with eggs smashed on my head. You were one of the good ones - we lost you way too young.”
Carolyn (Simpson) Schaller wrote: “You were more like a big brother to me than our next door neighbor when we were growing up on Ukiah Street. You have been missed so much over the years.”
Clyde Lucas was a Specialist 5, a construction surveyor, with the U S Army, A Company, 84th Engineering Brigade, 937th Engineering Group. The province he died in, Phu Yen, is remarkably similiar to this coast - although approximately 7,850 due west: rural coast line leading to winding, twisting roads through coastal hills covered at times in mist & fog.
And, as it turned out, a perfect place to plant land mines, which the Viet Cong did with regularity on the few roads in the province. The Viet Cong controlled the majority of the rice crop in the province, and, after the US imported 600 tons of rice to the inhabitants in 1969, then started an operation to guard the rice crop, the Viet Cong retaliated with series after series of land mines - which don’t distinguish between combatants & non-combatants
In one incident, the Viet Cong blew a bridge in the province, and when a civilian bus went to turn around, it hit another mine which resulted in 54 deaths (4 children) and 18 wounded. The crater was nine feet wide.
Clyde Lucas was a “ground casualty” who was killed from “hostile action, died outright” from an “explosive device.”
Walt Jackson wrote (about Lucas) on April 8th, 2010: “It has been a long time since SFC Donovan sent us to Oakland during Spring Break in 1966 to take our exams and physicals for the Army. I was lucky and now have grandchildren and have a good life for which I am grateful...”
Benay Nielson wrote on July 11th, 2010: “Clyde was a nice guy who left us much too soon. We were lucky to have him for our classmate."
And as long as MSP is around, we will honor his memory and never forget his sacrifice.
PHOTO--MSP spearheaded a "one man" effort to get Clyde Lucas's name back on the football scoreboard after decades of absence. The Mendo School District finally came around last Fall to our way of thinking (after three years of MSP badgering them) and did the right thing. Ditto, (finally) a sign denoting Tim Selders Memorial Football Field - another MHS student almost lost to the mists of time (and neglect).
(Courtesy, Mendocino Sports Plus.)
The Boonville Spring Market on Saturday Mar 28 in front of the Boonville General Store, 10-12:30, rain or shine, will include:
Yorkville Olive Ranch - I will be at the market on Saturday with both the 375 ml and 750 ml bottles of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Natural Products of Boonville - I am going to try to be at the market with mushrooms, but this weekend is a bit of an overload so I may focus on some time critical work and miss a weekend.
Petit Teton will be at market with eggs, some greens, their large selection of canned goods, and meats: pork (sausage, chops, bacon, shoulder and leg cuts), beef (stew meat, steaks, liver, hamburger), and whole stewing chickens.
Bramble Olive Oil (new vendor last week) - We are planning on being at the market tomorrow. We have about 300 olive trees on the Nash ranch. We have 11 varieties but the predominant varieties are lecino, pendolino and arbequina. The oldest trees have been in the ground for 12 years and the youngest trees for 3 years. The olive oil is classified as a North Coast blend. The 2014 harvest started at 8 am on November 8th and they were pressed at 7 pm on the 8th at Olivino in Hopland.
GunterHaven (operating out of the their greenhouse at the base of Nash Mill) will be at market with early spring starts - greens and possibly Mediterranean herbs - and info about more starts to be coming soon.
Plus more - come on down with an instrument. We love music.
* * *
The AV Foodshed April Calendar and Newsletter will be out soon with more local food information. If you have anything to include, please reply with your info ready to copy and paste, ASAP. We prefer to not have to edit. Thanks. (For those who have already sent info in - it is ready to go.)
In ancient times, hundreds of years before the dawn of history
Lived this strange race of people, the druids
No one knows who they were, or what they were doing
But the legacy remains here into the living rock of Stonehenge
Stonehenge, where the demons dwell
Where the banshees live, and they do live well
Stonehenge, where a man is a man
And the children dance to the pipes of pan
Stonehenge, 'tis a magic place
Where the moon doth rise with a dragon's face
Stonehenge, where the virgins lie
And the prayer of devils fill the midnight sky
And you my love, won't you take my hand?
We'll go back in time to that mystic land
Where the dew drops cry and the cats meow
I will take you there, I will show you how
And oh, how they danced
The little children of Stonehenge
Beneath the haunted moon for fear
That day break might come too soon
And where were they now
The little people of Stonehenge
And what would they say to us
If we were here tonight
— Spinal Tap
THREE DAY NOTICE GIVEN TO HIV/AIDS PATIENT
To: Erica Mackie <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Dear Ms. Erica Mackie,
I am given to understand that you are in charge of the district which includes Santa Rosa's Vista Sonoma Senior Apartments now managed by your company FPI. When addressing you, I am not sure if I properly cased the spelling of your last name but if I didn't get it right I mean no disrespect and would correct in future correspondence. I, as you are probably already aware, am a tenant at Vista Sonoma Senior Apartments for over 13 years. I have grave concerns about how Vista Sonoma is being run by your company.
A most pressing matter: on Friday March 6, 2015, Vista Sonoma Senior Apartment management gave a "Three Day Notice to Pay or Quit" signed by Jenifer Johnson to a tenant I believe to be perhaps 80 years of age who is resident in Building 1403 on the second floor. The managers and certain staff know this tenant to be hospitalized with HIV/AIDS and on occasion have made his medical conditions know to others. The "new" porter Cynthia Hyde personally told me about this tenant's medical diagnosis.
I actually saw the three day notice still posted on his apartment door on Sunday March 8. The 3 day notices to pay or quit as issued by current Vista Sonoma management for the past several years constitute financial elder abuse for those given to senior residents, possible federal Americans with Disabilities Act violations in many cases, and are replete with constructive fraud under California statute
Also the disclosure of HIV/AIDS status of any tenant is certainly questionable from a business ethics viewpoint and such disclosure might subject the person exposed to discriminatory actions by others. Such exposure of medical condition, might even rise to the level of constituting a Hate Crime. Not sure if said types of disclosure fall with in the scope of the federal requirements of HIPPA but it bears looking into.
And then the porter, a "new" Vista Sonoma employee and longtime close personal friend and confidante of the manager, Jenifer Johnson, told me that she Cynthia went over to the place where this man is under terminal care, wrote out his rent check, got him to sign it, and took it back to the office so Vista Sonoma would get what may indeed be his last month's rent. Ms. Hyde did not disclose to me whether or not the check was made out to include the alleged $50:00 late fee on top of the rent. Vista Sonoma's bank should be able to provide you with front and back copies of the tenant's check. Also the porter, Ms. Hyde, told me not only does she have the access to the resident's apartment as part of her job (probably a master key) but that she has the tenant's permission to take any of the possessions of his that she wants. The porter says she got the tenant to sign some sort of authorization to this effect.
This raises questions about Vista Sonoma management procedures. Should a Vista Sonoma employee (in actual fact an FPI Management employee) benefit directly and personally from the death or impending death of one of our seniors? Who was there to witness this alleged gifting. Was there a determination of the tenant's competency by a medical doctor, attorney, or were there any witnesses to this alleged gifting?
I am preparing complaints to go to the state of California covering several issues at Vista Sonoma including but not limited to discrimination, financial elder abuse, constructive fraud, quiet enjoyment, private nuisances, and violations of state and federal environmental law. I will be sending this correspondence to the state of California.
Sincerely, Irv Sutley, Glen Ellen, CA 95442-0174
It isn't often that we hear good news come out of Washington D.C. these days, but I'm pleased to report that we've been getting some important things done the past few weeks. Here's a quick update:
Bipartisan Bill Strengthens Medicare Access, Children's Health Program, and Rural Schools
Access to healthcare for millions of seniors has been at risk for years because of a flawed Medicare "Sustainable Growth Ratio" (SGR) formula prescribed by Congress in 1997 to save money by dramatically slashing reimbursements to health providers. Each time the draconian cuts approached, Congress has kicked the can down the road by passing a gimmicky temporary postponement.
I'm pleased to report that this week, Democrats and Republicans finally came together to fix the problem. We passed H.R. 2, a bill that permanently replaces the SGR and also reauthorizes the critical Children's Health Insurance Program. This so-called "Doc Fix" means healthcare providers will have the certainty of reasonable payment rates, and seniors need no longer worry about the widespread loss of access that would have resulted under the SGR. There's also good news for rural schools in H.R. 2: I worked with a bipartisan group of colleagues to ensure that the bill included a two-year reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools program, which provides approximately $5.7 million in vital annual support for public schools and roads in Trinity, Del Norte, Humboldt, and Mendocino Counties.
Earlier this month, after weeks of partisan posturing and GOP threats of a partial government shutdown, Speaker Boehner did the right thing by reaching across the aisle to forge a bipartisan deal that funds the Department of Homeland Security for the rest of the year. This week's Medicare/Children's Health legislation marks the second time in a month the House has eschewed the usual partisan dysfunction and found a good faith, bipartisan solution to a major problem. Let's hope this is the beginning of a trend!
North Coast Veterans Will Get Improved Access to the Health Care They Deserve
After months of pushing the Department of Veterans Affairs to reconsider an arbitrary rule that would have required veterans in remote parts of my district to travel long distances to VA clinics instead of being able to see a local physician, my office received great news this week! The VA announced it will make the common-sense change that I had recommended in a letter to VA Secretary Robert McDonald: calculating veterans' eligibility for the Veterans Choice Program based on whether they would have to drive further than 40 miles to a clinic instead of ignoring mountain ranges and calculating the distance "as the crow flies." With this change, up to 1,700 veterans in Humboldt, Trinity, Mendocino, and Sonoma counties will now be eligible to seek timely care from local, private medical providers instead of being forced to travel to a distant VA facility. On behalf of these veterans and their families, I thank Secretary McDonald for helping them get the health care they deserve.
Protecting the California Coast From Dangerous Oil Drilling
Earlier this month the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced the expansion of the Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries, which now will protect the entire Sonoma Coast and part of the Mendocino Coast.
This expansion is the culmination of a decades-long effort by environmental leaders, fishermen, the tourism industry, and all of those in the community who value these waters. And it wouldn't have happened without the determined leadership of my predecessor, Lynn Woolsey, who fought to make this happen in Congress and pushed federal agencies to get it done.
By expanding these two sanctuaries to more than double in size, we will protect a 350-mile band of ocean from drilling and other risky activities-and help protect endangered species from extinction. Expanding this network of marine sanctuaries is such a critical step in protecting marine life from further climate harm. These sanctuaries can reduce environmental stressors on sea life and help prevent extinction: climate change mitigation at its best.
Safeguarding this national treasure isn't just good for the environment; it will also boost the coastal economy. The ecotourism industry-one of the North Coast's biggest employers-and local fishermen will both benefit greatly from this action.
I thank NOAA for their work in protecting these waters and diverse sea life for generations to come, and I want to recognize all of the hard work that it took to bring this long campaign to a successful conclusion - from the North Coast to the White House.
I'm glad to report some good news out of Washington for a change, and hope for more positive developments in the coming weeks and months. In the meantime, I'll continue doing everything I can to make progress, even when the politics are challenging, and get things done for California's North Coast.
If you would like to stay up to date on my work in Congress, please subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here, "liking" me on Facebook, or following me on Twitter at @RepHuffman. As always, you can contact me via email or you can call one of my offices.
With Best Regards,
Member of Congress
ACTIVISTS 'SHUT DOWN' NESTLÉ WATER BOTTLING PLANT IN SACRAMENTO
by Dan Bacher
Environmental and human rights activists, holding plastic “torches” and “pitchforks,” formed human barricades at both entrances to the Nestlé Waters bottling plant in Sacramento at 5:00 a.m. on Friday March 20, effectively shutting down the company's operations for the day.
Members of the “Crunch Nestlé Alliance" shouted out a number of chants, including “”We got to fight for our right to water,” “Nestlé, Stop It, Water Not For Profit," and “Agua Para Quien? Para Nuestra Gente!”
The protesters stayed until about 1 pm, but there were no arrests.
Representatives of the alliance said the company is draining up to 80 million gallons of water a year from Sacramento aquifers during a record drought. They claim Sacramento City Hall has made it possible through a "corporate welfare giveaway."
“This corporate welfare giveaway is an outrage and warrants a major investigation,” Coalition spokesperson Andy Conn said. “For more than five months we have requested data on Nestlé water use. City Hall has not complied with our request, or given any indication that it will. Sacramentans deserve to know how their money is being spent and what they’re getting for it. In this case, they’re getting ripped off.”
Lola Ellis of 99 Rise Sacramento, who spoke on the bullhorn at the protest, said, “Nestlé’s bottling of water in Sacramento is unsustainable in the current state of drought. We really don’t’ know how much water they are taking from the aquifer and that is a scary thing.”
“The water needs to be used for the local community. If there is not enough water for the local community, the Nestlé corporation should not be making a profit,” she emphasized.
The coalition protested what they call Nestlé's “virtually unlimited use of water” while Sacramentans (like other Californians) who use a mere 7 to 10 percent of total water used in the State of California, have had severe restrictions and limitations forced upon them.
The coalition is calling on Nestlé to pay rates commensurate with its enormous profit, or voluntarily close down.
“Nestlé pays only 65 cents for each 470 gallons it pumps out of the ground – the same rate as an average residential water user. But the company can turn the area's water around, and sell it back to Sacramento at mammoth profit,” according to a news release from the activists.
They said Sacramento officials have refused attempts to obtain details of Nestlé's water use. Coalition members have addressed the Sacramento City Council and requested that Nestle’ either pay a commercial rate under a two tier level, or pay a tax on its profit.
A call to the Sacramento City Department Utilities about the details of Nestle’s water use hadn’t been returned as of press time.
But according to Fox 40 News, “In 2014 Nestlé says it used 50 million gallons from the Sacramento Municipal Water Supply, which they say is a fraction of one percent of total water demand within the city of Sacramento.”
“Nestle can claim any amount of water they want, but we haven’t seen any documentation of the amount of water they’re using,” said Bob Saunders, also with the Crunch Nestlé Alliance. "We do know they’re allowed to take up to 80 million gallons per year.”
Mauro Oliveira, known as "Red Sun," showed up at the protest with his children, including Rise, Aren and Mahai'a, and connected the battle of local activists against Nestlé with the struggle of Indian Tribes, family farmers, grassroots environmental activists and fishermen to stop fracking, the Shasta Dam raise, and Governor Jerry Brown’s Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the twin tunnels, the most environmentally destructive public works project in California history.
“This whole idea of bottling water goes against Indigenous Peoples' concept of water is sacred," said Oliveira. "The 20,000-year-old water in aquifers belongs to the last generation on earth. We don’t have the right to tap into this water.”
“The Governor said we should conserve, but millions of gallons of fracking waste are being reinjected into the aquifer in California. The Governor talks out of both sides of his mouth. Polluting our water supplies is a violation of human rights," said Oliveira.
Raiding pristine water from a National Forest stream
The bottling plant in Sacramento is not the only one in California. A recent investigation in the Desert Sun found that Nestlé Waters North America has been pumping water from pristine streams of the San Bernardino National Forest with little to no oversight by the U.S. Forestry Service. (http://www.desertsun.com/story/news/2015/03/05/bottling-water-california-drought/24389417/)
“Nestle Waters North America holds a longstanding right to use this water from the national forest near San Bernardino,” according to the Sun. “But the U.S. Forest Service hasn't been keeping an eye on whether the taking of water is harming Strawberry Creek and the wildlife that depends on it. In fact, Nestle's permit to transport water across the national forest expired in 1988. It hasn't been reviewed since, and the Forest Service hasn't examined the ecological effects of drawing tens of millions of gallons each year from the springs.”
On its website, Nestlé claims that it is committed to “environmental stewardship.” (http://www.nestle-watersna.com/en/about-nestle-waters)
“36 years of experience promoting healthy hydration, Nestlé Waters North America has 15 leading U.S. and Canadian bottled water brands,” according to the company. “The company’s commitment to environmental stewardship, especially in the areas of water use, packaging and energy, as well as its dedication to partnering in the communities where it operates, have led Nestlé Waters to achieve the number one bottled drinking water position in the U.S.”
Activists disagree strongly with the company’s claims of commitment to "environmental stewardship." In October, the “Crunch Nestle” coalition released a "White Paper" highlighting predatory water profiteering actions taken by Nestle’ Water Bottling Company in various cities, counties, states and countries.
Most of those great “deals” yielded mega profits for Nestle’ at the expense of the public. Additionally, the environmental impact on many of those areas yielded “disastrous results,” the paper stated.
Nestlé is currently the leading supplier of the world’s bottled water, including such brands as Perrier and San Pellegrino, and has been criticized by activists for human rights violations throughout the world.
Nestlé Waters says it has 7,500 employees and 29 bottled water facilities across the U.S. and Canada, and annual revenues were $4.0 billion in 2012, up 6.8% from 2011.
For example, Food and Water Watch and other organizations blasted Nestlé’s "Human Rights Impact Assessment" in December 2013 as a "public relations stunt."
“The failure to examine Nestlé’s track record on the human right to water is not surprising given recent statements by its chair Peter Brabeck-Letmath challenging the human right to water,” said Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch. She noted that the company famously declared at the 2000 World Water Forum in the Netherlands that water should be defined as a need—not as a human right.
Watch Nestlé's CEO declare water “food that should be privatized, and not a human right”: http://http://www.globalresearch.ca/nestle-continues-stealing-worlds-water-during-drought/5438880
More recently Brabeck-Letmathe, after facing international criticism for his remarks, reversed course and now said he thinks that "water is a human right and that everyone, everywhere in the world, has the right to clean, safe water for drinking and sanitation." (http://www.nestle.com/aboutus/ask-nestle/answers/nestle-chairman-peter-brabeck-letmathe-believes-water-is-a-human-right?gclid=CPX_jpydycQCFQaTfgodFjAA0Q)
But activists continue to cite the company's bad human rights record, noting that Nestlé workers who have protested unjust labor conditions at the corporation’s facilities in Colombia have been assassinated by paramilitary death squads.
"In November 2013, Colombian trade unionist Oscar Lopez Trivino became the fifteenth Nestlé worker to be assassinated by a paramilitary organization while many of his fellow workers were in the midst of a hunger strike protesting the corporation’s refusal to hear their grievances," according to the groups.
Taking the water from aquifers throughout the world and the deaths of workers protesting Nestlé policies are not the only violation of human rights that activists charge the corporation with. Groups including the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) and Save the Children claim that the promotion of Nestle infant formula over breastfeeding has led to health problems and deaths among infants in less economically developed countries.
“They’re a despicable company with death built into their business plan,” summed up Conn.
For more information about the Crunch Nestlé Alliance, contact Andy Conn (530) 906-8077 camphgr55 (at) gmail.com or Bob Saunders (916) 370-8251