Trees or trails?

That appears the be the question Caltrans is asking with its latest project proposal, which would widen four bridges along the Avenue of the Giants to accommodate non-motorized traffic.

According to the Times-Standard report, Caltrans acknowledges the project could have a variety of environmental impacts. And they’re not kidding.

Construction of the bridges would occur in habitat for protected marbled murrelets and northern spotted owls, and would not be stopped during nesting season in order to complete construction during dry weather, the notice reads. The project would involve working in the root zone of redwoods, or placing paving over roots.

Additionally, Caltrans would divert four tributaries of the South Fork of the Eeel River “for one to two seasons,” with obvious impacts to habitat and salmon.

Now, we’re not ones to go teary-eyed at the thought of a tree or two getting its feelings hurt. Nor do we think for a minute that the disingenuous hoopla over the Richardson Grove project has shit to do with the environment. It is instead a transparent attempt to continue to obstruct business development in Humboldt County. Period. There’s more environmental damage right now on the Northcoast Environmental Center’s property in Arcata than the Richardson Grove project would ever cause.

But the Avenue bridges project sounds like it could have very real impacts, and we hope the review process is both thorough and transparent.

On that score, sadly, Caltrans may not be getting off to the best start. John Driscoll notes,

The initial study was not attached to the notice, and an e-mail to the project manager was not returned by deadline. Caltrans spokesman Phil Frisbee said that more information on the project will be made available on the Caltrans website on the day of the February meeting.

Yeah. Not cool, Caltrans. Get your story straight on this, or your bridges project won’t have a spotted owl’s chance in hell.

Still no conflict?

He may be dishonest, but he sure is ugly.

So if it’s not a conflict if Eureka City Councilman Larry Glass has a years-long personal vendetta against a developer whose project he’s reviewing,

and not a conflict if Larry founded and fronted a group that exists solely to oppose the project,

and not a conflict if Larry distributed T-shirts and bumper stickers ridiculing the developer and his family,

and not a conflict if Larry personally funded a campaign aimed at undermining support for the development,

and not a conflict if Larry tried (and failed) to pursue criminal charges against the developer,

and not a conflict if Larry’s city council campaign was funded by the man who stands to lose the most if the development is approved,

then probably it’s also not a conflict if Larry serves as a director of an organization that is engaged in litigation against the city he represents, even if that litigation is aimed at reversing a decision of the city council on which Larry sits.

Sounds kind of slutty to us, but it must be legit.

After all, everyone knows how ethical politicians are.

California Native Plant Society
Jen Kalt (Secretary) jkalt@asis.com

Redwood Region Audubon Society
C.J. Ralph theralphs@humboldt1.com

Sierra Club North Group, Redwood Chapter
Felice Pace unofelice@gmail.com

Humboldt Baykeeper
Pete Nichols (President) pete@humboldtbaykeeper.org

Friends of Del Norte
Eileen Cooper upsprout@yahoo.com

Safe Alternatives For Our Forest Environment
Larry Glass lglass@foggy.net

Environmental Protection Information Center
Scott Greacen scott@wildcalifornia.org

At-Large:
Jim Clark (Vice President) dancebirds@sbcglobal.net
Martin Swett (Treasurer) mswett@pacific.net
Bob Morris (Trinity County Representive) bob.morris@wildblu.net

Prog groups claim ‘irreparable harm’ if Balloon Track cleanup goes forward

From left, Peter, Ralph and Larry. Jennifer, far right, is bitching the boys some vittles.

The Times-Standard reports today that papers filed in court seeking to force the city of Eureka to withdraw its Environmental Impact Report allege “irreparable harm” will come to residents, fish and wildlife if the Marina Center property is cleaned up.

The petition was filed by the Northcoast Environmental Center, Humboldt Paykeeper, the Environmental Protection Information Center and the Ecological Rights Foundation, collectively known as the Four Jackasses of the Environmental Apocalypse.

The hyperbolic filing didn’t mention what villainy might befall the world were the NEC to clean up  its own contaminated property. Fortunately for all of us, we’re in no danger of finding out any time soon.

Photo straight janked from here.

Wait. Who’s on first?

A Marina Center story in Saturday’s Times-Standard elicited this response regarding another local item on the California Coastal Commission’s December agenda. The agenda itself is here and the staff report on the item in question is here. Enjoy!

Notwithstanding the controversy regarding the Balloon Track, you may not be aware of a more egregious abuse of power by the Coastal Commission. If you look at the Commission’s Dec. 10 agenda you will note that there is also an appeal filed on the Eureka City Council’s action to approve a coastal development permit for Robert Colburn to construct an industrial warehouse on Washington Street. The site is industrial and has been for decades; it has an existing warehouse and the property owner just wants to build another warehouse behind the existing one of about the same size (congrats to the property owner if he can afford to grow his business in these hard economic times). The City’s approval of the coastal development permit was appealed by two Coastal Commissioners. There were no appeals filed by local persons or groups (no, not even Baykeeper, EPIC or NEC), there was no controversy and no press.

Why would the Coastal Commission take issue with the City Council’s approval of the coastal development permit? Because the property is adjacent to the Clark Slough and the warehouse would not be 100 feet away from the slough. ONE HUNDRED FEET! Give me a break! Just exactly where is the industrial growth supposed to happen if it cannot be on existing industrial property in the industrial area of the city?

And, do you want to know the kicker? I can’t even explain it properly, but I’ll try… Because Phase 1 of Marina Center will improve the aquatic habitat of the slough, it must be protected from encroachment by this industrial development… but, hey, isn’t that the SAME Phase 1 project that the Coastal Commission appealed to itself because (among other things) it didn’t do enough to protect the wetlands??? The Colburn project had a biological analysis done by local qualified professionals that included conditions for protection of the Clark Slough and improvements to the existing surface drainage on the industrial property. But that wasn’t good enough. Colburn can’t build a warehouse because it is too close to the Clark Slough which will be improved by Phase 1 of Marina Center but Phase 1 isn’t good enough which means Clark Slough may never be improved which means that the basis for the appeal of the warehouse is bogus!

It’s brilliance!!

Who says government isn’t efficient?

Peter Douglas, Bill Pierson and the now-infamous nooner. Smile, friends!!

Within 24 hours of the filing of the last of three appeals challenging the city of Eureka’s approval of the Balloon Track interim cleanup plan, the California Coastal Commission published a surprisingly thorough 82-page legal and environmental analysis of the plan, along with the expected recommendation that the appeals be heard.

Weird, huh?

You don’t think maybe the commission got some kind of head start on that, do you?

Hmm?

Couldn’t be.

Even if one appellant was the commission’s lawyer for 20 years.

Or if the commission’s chair previously gave the appellant a job.

Or the appellant’s daughter is a commission staffer.

Or another appellant employs the first appellant.

Or two other appellants are current commissioners.

Or the commission’s executive director is a personal friend of the man whose business would be most affected by the Marina Center development.

No, those factors just make their achievement that much more impressive: It’s amazing they get anything done with that massive circle jerk they’ve got going.

Ralph Faust asks Coastal Commission to stop cleanup of Balloon Track–with meaningless updates

Fuck all y'all.

And he reportedly did so, unlike in this photo, with a completely straight face.

Not that any of this is funny in the usual sense of the word. None of those pull-my-finger or naughty limerick jokes for him, the old coot.

No, with this appeal Faust definitely employs the stodgier ironic form–on multiple levels and to breathtaking effect.

We begin with the obvious: Faust, who works as an environmental attorney, is asking the Coastal Commission to prevent the cleanup of a contaminated former railyard from which toxins flow persistently into Humboldt Bay.

Then there’s the Coastal Commission itself, which was Faust’s employer for more than 20 years. He rose to the rank of chief counsel before a brief but memorably disreputable stint as Humboldt’s interim county counsel.

Handing him that gig on a golden platter was none other than Bonnie Neely, who now chairs the same organization to which Faust is appealing.

Which brings us to Faust’s self-righteous statements to his fellow planning commissioners just one week ago about recusing himself from discussion of three Arkley projects. Faust insisted he had always treated Arkley right but was selflessly stepping back from the projects to save the county time and money.

What a guy! Six days later he appealed the Eureka City Council’s approval of the interim cleanup which, if successful, would grind Arkley’s Marina Center development to a halt.

Have we left anything out?

Maybe just this: Faust, the man who purports to save Eurekans from the horrors of a nontoxic waterfront, carpetbagged his angry inch up here from San Francisco fewer than three years ago. He does not live–and in fact he has never lived–in or even near the city of Eureka.

Awesome!!

Meaningless Update 1: Today’s Times-Standard contains a longer list of appellants in a story we would link to if we could find it online.
Meaningless Update 2: Bastards finally put the story up online this afternoon. Read your merry ass off here.

NEC, Baykeeper continue battle to undam cash flow

As an agreement that would remove four dams on the Klamath River inches closer, a bunch of folks with “Undam the Klamath” stickers on the bumpers of their Subarus and light trucks are scrambling to make sense of their own talking points.

They want the dams removed now, so they’re going to oppose agreements to remove them in the future.

They want fish populations restored now, so they’re going to oppose agreements to restore them in the future.

They want water flows restored now, so they’re going to oppose agreements to restore them in the future.

Currently we’re being asked to wait 11 years to put the North Coast’s most important watershed back together as part of a delicate and complex series of agreements. But as one longtime river advocate said in today’s Times-Standard, “The dams will stay in place for another 50 years if this all falls apart.”

Maybe falling apart is exactly what some progs are aiming for.

You may recall that when Paykeeper and the Northcoast Environmental Center were forced to choose between dam removal and suing someone, both immediately decided they could live with the dams.

Yurok tribe policy analyst Troy Fletcher points out that Klamath issues can’t be resolved in a courtroom, but when you keep your nonprofit and your lifestyle afloat through legal extortion, it doesn’t actually matter if the issues are resolved.

Revitalizing salmon runs? Irrelevant. Preventing dioxin from leeching into the bay? Who cares. As long as Sneaky Pete Nichols has someone to sue, it’s peace on earth and all that happy shit.

The tragical history of Dr. Faust

faust_tnRemember Faust? No, sillies. The other Faust. Goethe and Marlowe’s Faust, that German fellow with the awkward syntax who sold his soul to the devil in exchange for–well, something. We forget what. Knowledge. Power. An extra two inches. Does it matter?

The story itself is your standard-issue dog turns into a devil, offers to serve Faust on earth if he promises to return the favor in hell, and after the deal is inked in blood our protagonist commences the illicit banging of a hot chick who kills her mom so as to facilitate additional banging before getting predictably pregged and her brother dies defending her honor and she drowns her baby in the river, etc., etc.

Bo-ring, really, but the arrangement clearly turned out none too well for anyone, including Faust, who after that odd jumble of plot elements still had to follow through on the whole burning-in-hell end of things.

But the story has been notably cheerier for the other Faust–Ralph, whose narrative goes something like this: A lawyer of enormously so-so abilities is recruited by Bonnie Neely to Humboldt County where he is named Interim County Counsel and advises the board during the drafting of the General Plan Update, after which he is appointed by Mark Lovelace to represent the Third District on the Planning Commission while it considers and revises the General Plan Update, while at the same time providing legal counsel to the Northcoast Environmental Center, an organization which, on its own and as part of the Healthy Humboldt Coalition, actively lobbies both the Board and the Planning Commission to achieve its preferred outcome to–you guessed it–the General Plan Update.

That Mr. Faust as Interim County Counsel generously if improperly released dozens of GPU-related documents to Mark Lovelace–before the latter was elected, before he was even a candidate to be Faust’s future appointer–well that’s just another thread in the web.

But here’s one important difference between the two Fausts: No one’s suggesting ours sold his soul to anyone.

Honestly. Who would buy it?

He suits me not at all, our new-made Burgermeister!
Since he’s installed, his arrogance grows faster.
How has he helped the town, I say?
Things worsen,—what improvement names he?
Obedience, more than ever, claims he,
And more than ever we must pay!

-Goethe

Exclusive: Humboldt Mirror scores interview with former NEC director

Shove over, Barbara Walters. Former Northcoast Environmental Center director Greg King took a few minutes out of his humiliating retreat for a little Q and A with the Humboldt Mirror.

The man whose claim to fame was finding a forest that had never been lost and, more recently, running the NEC into its own contaminated ground will likely be remembered as a folk hero, a true eco-warrior, and a surprisingly crappy businessman.

Humboldt Mirror: So Greg. Man. Why don’t you start off by telling us how the NEC went broke.
Greg King: Well, I spent a lot of money and raised very little. I’m told that may have been a factor.

HM: Seems like that would do it.
GK: Yeah. We bought a house we couldn’t afford, and then dumped another boatload of money greening it out. Everything all solar and made out of carrots and shit. It was pretty cool, to tell you the truth, and it was like four bucks a month for the PG&E, before it got shut off. Also that whole cleanup thing on our property was way more expensive than you’d think, even skirting environmental regs the way we did. We ended up capping most of it, but don’t tell anyone because then we won’t be able to act all outraged when everyone else does it.

HM: You had some big shoes to fill.
GK: You have no idea. Every day it was Tim (McKay, longtime NEC director) did this, and oh, Tim did that, until finally I was like, ‘Yeah, well you know who else did all that? Fucking Jesus. Now shut the hell up.’

HM: Talk to us about the Klamath settlement.
GK: Yeah. Wow. We didn’t see that coming. By then money was already tight, because we had shifted toward a Baykeeper model, where instead of raising money by doing good things, you raise it by suing everyone. The advantage to that approach is that then you don’t actually have to do the good things. And in fact the fewer good things that happen, the more people there are to sue.

HM: But wasn’t doing good the point?
GK: The point of what?

HM: Of the NEC.
GK: Oh. Well, okay, sure, but clean rivers and healthy habitats don’t pay the bills. No one writes checks for species that don’t need saving and rivers that don’t need un-damming, you know?

HM: Right. So Greg, do you think maybe you weren’t the right person for the job?
GK: Maybe. It’s just too bad the organization didn’t need any trespassing or guitar playing, because I’m really good at both of those.

HM: What’s next for Greg King?
GK: Well I think my wife and daughter and I are going up to the Smith to unplug and get back in synch with nature.

HM: So you’re moving into a broken-down camper on the banks of the river?
GK: It centers us.

HM: Well thanks. I appreciate your candor.
GK: Yeah okay. Can I get that ten-spot now?

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