Four days is too long to wait for us to cut and paste an effing My Word

But what the hell, you know? It was a Super Bowl weekend–one of the few times each year we’re allowed to drank early, often and with impunity. So get over it. Oh and while you’re at it, enjoy this My Word from the Saturday Times-Standard.

20 years is too long to wait for action on Balloon Track

My name is Gary Bird. I am a citizen and taxpayer of Humboldt County. I grew up in Eureka; water-skiing, crabbing and fishing on Humboldt Bay. If you frequent the bay, you’ve probably seen me walking my white and brown dog or fishing in my Boston whaler. I continue to enjoy Humboldt Bay, however I am extremely frustrated by the fact that for the last 20 years the Balloon Track has remained contaminated. The question that troubles me is why has it taken so long to make any progress cleaning up this site?

I’ve talked to Peter Nichols (Baykeeper), Bonnie Neely (4th district county supervisor), Randy Gans (CUE VI), Sidnie Olson (Eureka city planner), Carolyn Woodhouse (Regional Water Control Board), and other interested parties. I met with and reviewed financial statements regarding the Baykeeper, and other involved environmental groups. I’ve also reviewed reports from the California Regional Water Quality Control Board and local politicians campaign contributions. Despite my efforts the issue of why it has taken so long to clean the Balloon Track remained unanswered. So, I decided to do my own investigating, using a method that seems, at times, forgotten. I used common sense.

I walked the Balloon Track to see what I could see. Not knowing the scientific names, I will describe my observations as lots of mud puddles, a drainage ditch to the bay and lots of overgrown brush. Added to this is garbage, junk railroad cars, and a few bums. The one important thing I could not see, but I’m sure is there, is contaminants. That is the one issue all parties agree on.

Returning home, I made some phone calls and determined that the regulatory agency responsible for overseeing the environmental investigation and clean up at the Balloon Track, or any similar contaminated area, is the California Regional Water Quality Control Board. These folks, revealed that they have been involved in investigation and overseeing clean-up plans at the Balloon Track since 1988 (that’s right 1988). They described themselves as the experts in environment cleanup, stating “That’s what we do up and down the state.” They describe the current cleanup plan as satisfactory and appropriate.

So there we have it! The Balloon Track is contaminated but cleanable.

But wait! The environmental folks don’t like the plan for clean-up. So, I read their appeal in the Coastal Commission office. Man did that make it sound complicated. They took issue with the clean-up report and basically requested that the clean-up plan return to square one. But what could be their motive? That’s where the financial report (Prop. 65) comes in. Wow! Do they make a good living. More confusion.

Interestingly, staff from the California Regional Water Quality Board commented that the Baykeeper suggested cleanup alternatives (refer to Coastal Commission appeal) is an option but in their opinion it is a complete “overkill.”

Next stop 4th District County Supervisor Bonnie Neely’s Office, at 9:30 a.m. on Dec. 22, 2009. After careful consideration, I decided to use my common sense approach again (Since Neely and I are Eureka High School classmates, I was sure we could have a meaningful conversation). That thought ended when Supervisor Neely met me with her attorney in tow. The three of us adjourned to a conference room where I was basically schooled by a savvy politician and her attorney.

Nothing of substance was discussed. However, I do recall Supervisor Neely suggesting that she was satisfied with the Balloon Track process and progress and that any and all future development around the bay could expect the same sort of care and concern by her office. Ouch! Departing the meeting I wished Supervisor Neely a speedy retirement (perhaps we could go fishing together someday?).

So what did I learn? Well, to begin with after more than 20 years the Balloon Track continues to be contaminated. Despite having a plan to clean-up the tract, approved by city and state officials, the project has once again been delayed by bureaucratic review. This time by the California Coastal Commission, one wonders what will be next?

Regarding the environmental groups who oppose the cleanup efforts, the one clear motive that stands out is the issue of money, as reflected in the Proposition 65 settlement summary. If nothing else the reader should review the Prop. 65 settlement summary. That public information might provide an understanding of some of the environmental groups motivation.

Bonnie Neely’s refusal to provide leadership in this matter is most disappointing. Her attitude toward development on the bay ought to scare the hell out of all taxpayers. It would appear that her large campaign contributors have a major influence on her decisions regarding the bay. Ms. Neely’s role as chairperson on the California Coastal Commission and as Humboldt County’s 4th District supervisor seems to be a serious conflict of interest.

Please citizens GET INVOLVED. Investigate, ask questions, and hold your political leaders responsible. Elect leaders who are not beholding to special interests but rather are looking out for the vitality and well-being of our community. Learn more about the Coastal Commission, its seemingly limitless powers, and the environmental groups who use red herring tactics when their true motives appear to be financial. Go walk the Balloon Track and see what all of the hullabaloo is about.

We taxpayers deserve land and a bay that is not contaminated, and 20 years is too long to wait for action.

Gary E. Bird, a retired Humboldt County probation officer, resides in Myrtletown.
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16 Responses

  1. Let the Bonnie bashing begin!

    Gary’s son has been doing some great work over at Security National. Arkley and the Pacific Legal Foundation have been allies for years. It’s about time someone stood up to the CCC and their requirements for mud puddles.

  2. This should be required reading in every household in Humboldt County.

  3. Hmmm. Pg. 1 In 2008… Mateel Environmental Justice Foundation, $1,775,300.00, Attorney’s Fees and Costs…$1,060,000.00… if I am reading this right, they gave a shitload of money (other distribution) to ERF (Ecological Rights Foundation), that would be “Humboldt Paykeeper’s” predatory litigious parent… Pg. 26-31 from 2000-2008…, you got a calculator? Pg. 26 1/3/08…$10,000.00, 1/14/08…$20,000.00, 1/22/08…$15,000.00, 1/23/08…$15,000.00, 2/15/08…$20,000.00, 2/19/08…$20,000.00; Pg. 27 3/3/08…$20,000.00 (ERF and CATS), 3/3/08…$5,000.00, 3/3/08…$20,000.00, 3/26/08…$15,000.00…. and on and on and on it goes

    Pg. 2 from 2000-2008… $14,166,687.00…280 settlements… Attorney’s Fees and costs… $7,917,000.00

    AND The “Ecological Rights Foundation” themselves another 38 settlements,,, $950,000, 750.00, roughly half of that in lawyers fees and costs…

    That’s just in one document re: Prop 65. More money to CATS, ◼ KFPA ($35,000.00 and $15,000.00 Fifty grand? Is that a radio station?What’d the radio station do for that?)

  4. Let me get this straight Rob A employs approx. 450 people a majority here in Humboldt, so if you have a relative who works for him you lose all rights to an opinion wish that worked that way for all govt. and non profit employees.

  5. Check out Bonnie’s vote in the Sterling appeal to the Coastal Commission where she supported the Commissions requirement that the Sterings must dedicate all but 10,000 square feet of a over 140 acre parcel to an agricultural easement just to get a building permit. The PLF is suing on this one also. Just another reason Bonnie has to go! So now we know why she supports conditional use permits for everyone but the most urban areas of Humboldt to get a building permit. Just think of all of the demands that could be made to make families miserable.

  6. Right. They’ll say they are not stopping you from building – and will let you build a house if you meet certain requirements. Then, the game is to make it impossible for you to meet those requirements. They never actually tell the truth about it – it just sucks to be you, you couldn’t fulfill the requirements. And alot of the time anymore, one of the requirements is you giving over half your land, at minimum.

    You would think that property rights would be an issue we could all agree on.

    And in fact it is a VERY small group of control freaks who have completely taken hold.

    Politicians who support this are working AGAINST their own citizens, not for them.

  7. It’s interesting to see that the T-S yanked this My Word so quickly after it was published. What gives James?

  8. She also voted against the high school football in Malibu on Friday Nights.

    What a fraud the Coastal Commission is

  9. Their requirements for the Sterlings is to have them dedicate their land to “agriculture” for ever. That is 140 plus acres to get one house and they are not even directly on the coast.

  10. Remember all of this in June! If this is what we want, then vote for Bonnie, just think what she will do for us in the future!

  11. Black Ops PR Firm?

  12. It was a mistake, nothing more.

  13. James, you spew your propaganda and biased BS and then expect the public to believe anything you say. Forget it, you have fully earned your total loss of credibility. See if there are career oportunities for you in full time blogging or maybe that is really where you are already employed.

  14. Just like it was mistake to pull Virginia’s and Jeff’s recent my words within hours of publication?

    Uhhh, yeah, right.

  15. Anonymous Poster,
    You are commenting on a blog. Enjoy the irony. The right-wing kooks had a newspaper. It failed. Now there is one paper left. Get used to it.

  16. Faulk, what school did you get your degree from and what was your academic standing in that class. Tell us about your experience prior to working at the time standard. what makes you qualified to write shit at all.

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