Updated: Patron saint of economic protectionism gives back

Beneficent Bill

At some point you'd think it would be cheaper for the hardware heir to just lower his prices and compete for business like everyone else.

That Bill Pierson is quite a guy.

He’s a successful businessman, a world traveler, photographer, arts patron–and, it turns out, a generous commissioner of wetland delineation reports.

Well, just one wetland delineation report, actually. But it’s a good ‘un, in part because the owner of Pierson Building Center is not the owner of the wetlands he unselfishly paid to delineate.

Those are located on a 38-acre site identified in the report as the Balloon Tract.

To Pierson’s credit, the fact that the property was and is the proposed site of the Marina Center development which would be anchored by a rival building supply store in no way deterred his outpouring of philanthropy.

By all accounts, Pierson simply wanted to make sure the city of Eureka and the California Coastal Commission were aware that portions of the property could be undevelopable due to the presence of wetlands.

Undoubtedly it was the same altruistic impulse that caused him to instruct his attorney to forward the report to those agencies, unsolicited and without reference to the fact that it was funded by a man with an overriding economic interest in obstructing the project.

Pierson’s high-mindedness was further demonstrated in his choice of environmental consultants–Zentner and Zentner, a firm that could probably use a little help given that its 15 minutes of fame were spent trying to explain away several stunningly flagrant violations of environmental law.

A U.S. Department of Justice brief summarized the 2001 case as follows:

John Zentner, an environmental consultant in Emeryville, California, and his corporation, Zentner & Zentner, were prosecuted under the Endangered Species Act for unlawfully taking threatened California Red-legged frogs at the site of a new housing project in Concord, California. Zentner and his company collected over 50 protected frogs and 500 tadpoles from the sole pond at the site, shrunk the pond by more than half in order to facilitate the development, and relocated the frogs into the remainder of the pond, which was no longer capable of sustaining them. The defendants failed to notify wildlife authorities of the existence of the frogs at the site despite the demonstrated concern of officials that the species were probably present.

But in John Zentner, Pierson found a man as charitable as himself. After the four federal convictions, Zentner generously donated $75,000 in fines and 200 hours of court-ordered community service. The three years of probation, however, were just for him.

UPDATE: Greg Pierson confirms that neither he nor his father, Hank, is involved in any of his brother Bill’s dealings. In fact, he said, “Those who take the time to find facts would know that Hank and I tend to contribute to candidates that run against those supported by Bill. It is funny how a family can be so politically diverse.”

His complete comments are here and here. Thanks for the clarity, friend!!

83 Responses

  1. Gee, who’da thunk?

  2. Fascinating. And people are trying to convince us that it’s Arkley who’s bullying everyone over the Marina Center?

  3. Only one word comes to mind.


  4. I find it hard to believe Arkley gave Bill Pierson of all people permission to roam around that particular piece of private property. So did Bill and/or his consultants pull a Pete Nichols and sneak onto the property?

  5. Where is the document above from? I don’t see it on any of the links.

  6. Now THAT is funny.

  7. Uh, Pierson Investments is not the same branch of the family. Bill has the building center and is a liberal Democrat. The developer is his brother Hank. Their politics and business interests are not the same. You may be slammin’ the wrong brother, brother.

  8. Looks to me that the study and report was done in 2006. Wasn’t Union Pacific still the owners of the Balloon Tract?

  9. We know for a fact that we are not, brother. And if you have any doubts, do us a favor and ask Bill.

  10. It had just changed hands.

  11. Starts on page 29 of the first link.

  12. Oh it’s Bill alright. The topic comes up in related litigation. He certainly didn’t deny it there.

  13. Here comes the Carol and Greg diversion scheme. No it was before Arkley bought it! No it was Hank not Bill! (Don’t try denying that was you, Carol or Greg. I’ve heard that tactic from you before.)

    I guess giving shitloads of money to Democratic candidates has its advantages.

  14. Oh who gives a fuck what Carol and Greg think. This is proof that the real conspiracy is coming from Pierson and his purchased prog candidates.

  15. You wouldn’t expect them to be happy about that, would you? Just wait to see what lies the others come up with.

  16. I think it was my brother’s cousin’s sister-in-law’s uncle, Preston Pierson, III, from Detroit.

    Carol if that was you, please understand that we’ve been quiet for far too long, but it would be a mistake to think we’re stupid.

  17. Fuck Bill Pierson and fuck his company.

    I’ll smile the day that place closes down. Lucky for the employees who can find work at Home Depot.

  18. Bill has never denied commissioning the study. Why would he? He’s an environmentalist with legitimate concerns about a contaminated piece of property. You don’t have to try to turn this into something cloak and dagger.

  19. I would commission lots of studies if I had his money.

  20. I would worry less about competition if I had his money.

  21. Okay everyone. Calm down and don’t be mean to our girlfriend. She’ll revoke our special privileges.

  22. Desperate times for Mr. Gans and Co.

  23. Desperate times there Randy?

  24. but Greg and Carol are sooooo smart !

    ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

  25. That’s not Randy and you’re repeating yourself. But don’t worry, friend. Every dog has his day. It just turns out that this one isn’t yours. Hugs!

  26. This is the best ever. What a hoot! Thank you, thank you, thank you bugs.

  27. And is repeated on the next eight pages in case the next argument is that this was some kind of typo.

  28. Everyone agrees there should be a thorough analysis of the Marina Center proposal, but for Christ’s sake it should be an impartial analysis. With all the dirty tricks Bill has been playing lately I don’t trust the process.

  29. That’s the best firm Pierson could come up with to provide an analysis of the property? This whole thing stinks worse than a trash-strewn brownfield that’s been used as a poo-hole for 20 years.

  30. Not Bill…. That’s hysterical. Have you ever met Hank? If so, you’d know what a bullshit ploy that was. It was Bill beginning to end.

  31. HANK Pierson Investments:


    Scroll Down to his name, you’ll see.

  32. There was only one firm Pierson could go to for a tens-of-thousands-of-dollars study that required specific results. Are we to believe that no local engineering outfit could do this work? This is totally on par in scope and scale with Pierson’s incredibly generous donations that funded the VAST majority of Adkins, Clark and Glass’ war chests in recent elections. Bill can’t afford to leave things up to chance anymore in the face of serious competition.

    As supposedly such an advocate of wetlands and feel-good environmental crap, it would be interesting to know what great lengths Pierson has gone to protect wetlands on or near his own reclaimed marsh property?

  33. Nothing but fucking liberal scum. Thank you Arkley and Gans for putting this asshole out of business.

  34. Carol, this isn’t about Hank’s donations to conservative candidates, but rather his brother Bill’s blatant and obvious attempts to hire a questionable firm to conduct a study aimed at limiting or preventing the development by a potential competitor. What exactly is it you’re trying to show with links to Bill’s brother’s political contributions?

  35. How come Heraldo didnt print this?

  36. Pierson Investments, the name written on the receipt in the post, has been owned by Greg Pierson, Hank’s son and Bill’s nephew, since 1999. Still, it’s wrong to hire a firm that took too many pollywogs off a property hundreds of miles away! Shame on all of them!

  37. That’s funny Mr. Jones. Very funny.

  38. If Bill was such an ardent environmentalist, why did he wait until after Arkley bought the property and announced his intention to build the Marina Center to fund the wetlands study by Zenter and Zenter? SN conducted a wetlands study and the Marina Center proposal has a very substantial set aside for wetlands.

  39. Hank and Greg Pierson would have no part in comissioning a study on someone else’s property. They are respectful and decent people.

    Bill Pierson is the on the other hand does not want competition and clearly would be motivated to do such a thing.

    This is disgusting and underhanded way to keep his own little empire going. Can you imagine the back room deals that he probably has with Neely and Glass? Shame on Bill Pierson, I guess greed has no shame.

  40. Back room deals? How about Bill Pierson’s frequent and front-room lunch dealings in Eureka with California Coastal Commission Executive Director Peter Douglas. Let’s see, what could those two possibly be talking about? Could it be a possible waterfront project that will likely go before the Coastal Commission for approval?

  41. So I called Pierson Investment to give him a piece of my mind, and was referred to Greg Pierson. What gives?

  42. Good work! The sad part? Competition would be good for Pierson. More choices wold encourage people to stay in the area, do more big shopping in the area – and, be thinking about remodeling/building, which necessitates trips to ALL of the available sources. Home Depot is nice, but it doesn’t carry everything, or more specifically, those unusual items you might want.

    Honestly, does no one remember Pay’NPak used to be here – and Pierson’s not only survived but thrived. Pay’NPak did not.

    This whole thing – The Pierson and “Paykeeper” thing is so stupid. Let’s not be pretending either one is an ardent environmentalist – it’s about money, pure and simple.

  43. Bill Pierson isn’t a snake for funding a study to squash a competitor. That’s how cutthroat businesses operate in order to prevent having to compete.

    Pierson is a snake for pretending and perpetuating that it’s all being done for some environmental cause.

    And speaking of snakes, I think i detect the faint stench of Paykeeper Pete Nichols’ essential oils all over this one too.

  44. Again Carol, feel perfectly free to ask Bill if he funded the study or not. He did, and he’ll probably tell you that. He has some strange business practices, but no one’s accusing him of being a liar.

  45. No work involved, Rose. These documents are posted on the city’s website. All we did was read them. Well–you know. That and wax sarcastic.

  46. BILL PIERSON FUNDED THE STUDY. It is a matter of confirmed fact. Lie, lie, lie, misdirect, misdirect, misdirect. Nothing will change that fact, and it seems the way of confirming this for yourself is clearly defined. ASK BILL. The study HE COMMISSIONED is part of a legal matter with a voluminous amount of supporting documentation. There’s no getting out of this one, Carol, so you might as well give it up.

  47. Good crap! I think that’s the name of my adopted black brother Smacky Pants Pierson’s company. So you know when I say brother I mean brother. Or brotha. Either way. But I’m sure it’s him.

    P.S. Who’s Bill?

  48. Something tells me Greg Pierson is involved as well. His businesses name is all over these documents. The whole family has there hands over this one folks!

  49. Bill personally commissioned the report. When we don’t know for certain, we don’t argue the point. Here you will see that we are arguing the point.

    We’re sure.

  50. Carol and Greg and all the anons you’re pretending to be–you’re spouting nonsense. It doesn’t take a couple of independent insurance agents to read the writing on the wall, or on the wetlands study Bill bought and paid for.

  51. Hopefully the Marina Center puts Piersons out of business, ending the gravy train to local prog campaigns. We can silence these guys if their funding dries up.

    Thank you Rob Arkley!

  52. I think John Zetner spoke at one of Larry Glass’s anti Marina Center events. Wonder who paid for that or maybe it was part of the deal.

  53. You’re sueing these guys, right Security National? Please put Piersons under for good!

  54. Maybe it’s the Graphics Dept.’s fault.

  55. Carol’s earlier comment was directed at the (phony?) receipt shown in the post as issued to “Pierson Investments”. Last I heard that was Greg/Hank, not Bill. The whole piece seems like a bit of a stretch to me anyway.

    Union Pacific should clean up whatever mess was left by the railroad, protecting the environment and allowing more potential uses for the property. Seems to me that would benefit everyone, starting with the current owner. I have no problem with competition for Pierson’s, but I doubt if Home Depot would have had my 3/4″ float valve last week. Piersons, Nilsen’s and Shafer’s didn’t have it either. Wyckoff’s in Fortuna – no problem!

    The Balloon Track isn’t just an environmental challenge. A US Senate report identifies the property as a liquefaction hazard. It’s in a tsunami hazard zone on a congested curve in US Hwy 101. Maybe there is a better location for this project, that’s my opinion.



    WASHINGTON – The Justice Department announced that environmental consultant John Zentner, 46, of Orinda, Calif., and the business he operates, Zentner & Zentner, of Emeryville, Calif., pled guilty today to criminal charges under the Endangered Species Act for illegally taking threatened California red-legged frogs at a new housing project in Concord, Calif.

    John Zentner pled guilty to a single charge, and Zentner & Zentner pled guilty to three, for collecting, relocating and ultimately harming California red-legged frogs without first notifying federal or state wildlife authorities or obtaining the required “taking” permit under the Endangered Species Act.

    Federal Magistrate Judge Wayne D. Brazil in Oakland sentenced the company to a $65,000 fine, as jointly recommended in a plea agreement filed with the court. John Zentner has agreed to pay a $10,000 fine and he also faces a potential jail term under a separate plea agreement. Sentencing for Mr. Zentner is scheduled for Feburary 15, 2001 before Judge Brazil.

    This case is one of the few criminal prosecutions to date under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) that involves the “taking” of a protected species, or modifying its habitat in a way that significantly impairs essential behavior patterns (breeding, feeding and sheltering) so as to result in death or injury to the species.

    The California red-legged frog, found only in California, is said to have inspired Mark Twain’s The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County. The species was placed on the ESA list in 1996 due to its dwindling numbers, resulting mainly from the development of the wetlands habitat in which it thrives.

    Zentner & Zentner was hired as an environmental consultant to help obtain project-related permits and perform ecological monitoring services on a new six -acre residential development known as the Holly Creek Estates. The company also was hired to ensure compliance with federal and state rules for preserving wetlands and protecting animal species.

    John Zentner admitted that he was contacted by both the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (“USFWS”) and the California Department of Fish and Game (“CDFG”) about their concerns that the development site provided habitat for the California red-legged frog, and that the species had been found on the adjoining property.

    Based upon Zentner & Zentner’s inadequate survey for frogs at the site, John Zentner on several occasions in 1998 reported to those agencies his belief that no such frogs inhabited the site. He also reported the same to the Army Corps of Engineers which, due to the presence of wetlands at the site, also had to approve activities potentially detrimental to the frogs.

    John Zentner admitted that in January 1999, after learning from Zentner & Zentner employees that they had just seen several California red-legged frogs on site — and several months before the groundbreaking was to occur — he failed to report this information to the federal and state agencies. Nonetheless, based upon the existence of the frog on the adjoining property, the USFWS recommended a plan for mitigating harmful impacts on the frogs that the agency believed might inhabit the Holly Creek site. The agency suggested steps such as setting aside sensitive habitat, developing adequate buffer zones around sensitive habitat, and planning to place undeveloped land into a conservation easement to protect those areas from future development.

    However, Zentner & Zentner did not seek permission to capture or relocate the frogs, and therefore no permit authorizing a take of the frogs was issued.

    On May 25, 1999, John Zentner, with the assistance of Zentner & Zentner employees, relocated as many as six to eight California red-legged frogs from the watercourse running through the Holly Creek Estates site to the one pond on the site.

    On July 27 and July 28, 1999, at John Zentner’s direction, more than 50 California red-legged frogs and more than 500 tadpoles were collected by Zentner & Zentner employees and relocated from one portion of the pond that was to be filled in to another portion that was to be preserved.

    Neither John Zentner nor anyone else associated with this project had applied to the USFWS for a permit to collect, relocate or take the frogs. On July 29, 1999, most of the pond in which the frogs had been found was filled in at the direction of the developer. Because Zentner first collected and relocated the frogs and tadpoles to the now-smaller pond — within 15 feet of the new homes — the pond was incapable of sustaining them and many died.

    “Deliberately modifying the habitat of threatened or endangered species in a way that upsets their essential life functions harms biological diversity and degrades our environment,” said Assistant Attorney General Lois Schiffer. “Had the Fish and Wildlife Service been notified of the existence of the frogs, as required, the development of this site would have been allowed even as measures safeguarding the frogs were undertaken.”

    Individuals convicted of taking a “threatened species” under this provision of the Endangered Species Act are punishable by a statutory maximum sentence of up to six months of imprisonment and a $25,000 fine, while the taking of an “endangered species” is subject to a statutory maximum sentence of up to one year imprisonment and a $100,000 fine (or a $200,000 fine for businesses).

  57. What’s a bit of a stretch about pointing out that Bill Pierson (because it was Bill Pierson) commissioned a study on the property of a company that intends to compete with Bill Pierson? That doesn’t even make sense. And as to whether it is a “phony” document, we provide a link to the document on the city of Eureka’s website. So that would be no.

    There may be a better place for the project. That’s not for us to decide. But there is no getting around the fact that Bill Pierson funded a study on this piece of property. And that is what this post is about.

  58. One other word: Slime.

  59. I wonder if Greg would think the story unimportant if roles were reversed and it was Mr. Arkley using a crooked consultant to harrass Mr. Pierson. That sort of thing does seem to attract gobs of attention around here.

  60. All I know is Piersons funds campaigns like Glass, Atkins, & Neely, and they are all responsible for ruining Eureka. Home Depot will wipe out Piersons and there money train straight to the warchests of these assholes.
    Screw them all!!

  61. Totally, Greg. We blame them for everything, and we’re usually right.

  62. You are right about that one anon! I was at lunch with Gans last year and he told me of the Arkley lawsuit. He said this was their chance to ruin Pierson and the rest of the Progs. They really hate Pierson and have the money to make it happen. They really pissed off the wrong guy when he commissioned that report!

  63. I don’t think there was a wetlands report until this one was done. Why didn’t the City pay for this? There was all of the leftover funds that didn’t go to the study that was terminated by the City Council. We all know why Arkley isn’t going to pay for one, but it’s definitely in the best interest of the city, no doubt-

  64. Arkley did pay for one, dumbfuck. You might want to think twice about whatever else you think “we all know.”


  65. This is not about putting another businessman out of work. Pierson has the same right as everyone else to compete for business in this city. He just doesn’t want to compete.

  66. Thank you Security National, er, Bugs

    My apologies-

  67. Liberal trash, give it up.

    Piersons will go out of business, and you losers won’t have your sugar daddy. So long Larry Glass. Don’t let the door hit you on your way out Bonnie Neely.

  68. I respect your opinion Humbug, but that’s not what Gans implied. They want Pierson’s to cease to exist. Ask Randy about his impromptu meeting with Baykeeper general Nichols. That’s another good one!

  69. Because everyone who disagrees with your reactionary politics must work for Security National. Remember that part about repeating yourself? Yeah. You’re doing it again. And it didn’t make any goddamn sense the first time.

  70. We sincerely hope that’s not the end game. Job loss is bad for everyone.

  71. What, I thought I was working for Arkley. And Palco. An I forget who else. Because you know, you can’t have an opinion unless you’re being paid, so the meme goes. Anyhow – I say again, good find.

    Very very interesting. non, on September 28th, 2009 at 1:34 pm
    What else, I wonder, has he paid for? And how do they find the little fakers to act as the plaintiff in the lawsuits? (NorhtCoast Journal story, I’ll have to find the link.)

  72. funnier than all hell humbug!

  73. Uh…wrong, Mr. Walmart. It’s only Bill.

  74. There seems to be some confusion about this whole situation. The blog shows the Zentner report listing “Pierson Investments.” That was an unfortunant error by Mr. Zentner. Years ago, when the family properties were all held under that name, Zentner did some work for Bill Pierson. He must have used that name out of habit. We still have many vendors doing that.

    Technically, Pierson Investments does not really exist anymore, though it is most closly associated with Sharon (my wife) and my construction business, Pierson Company (PICO)

    The Zentner report/study was not conducted on behalf of my father Hank Pierson or myself. We tend to have political leanings quite different than Bill does. While we would never want to see the Pierson Building Center and it’s employees suffer or go away, we do not lean toward protectionism. It makes for dynamic family get-togethers!

    By the way, the other “Greg” on the blog is not me.

  75. Carol? Greg Conners? Hello? Where are you?

    Thanks Greg Pierson for dispelling the myths. I too would hate to see Bill’s store fail. But I would love to see it compete.

  76. There is NO REASON for Pierson’s to fail. That’s what is so insane about all of this. Have to charge a little less on some items? Yeah. Maybe so. But fail? No. Too bad Bill wasn’t putting that money into making his place better. The selection and service is already good, make it stellar. The koi pond makes it a beloved place for many of us, and we would CONTINUE to shop there even as we also browsed and shopped at Home Depot.

    But most of the contractors I know don’t shop there, they go to the specialty supply houses even now, without a Home Depot – and they are not likely to go to Home Depot much either, if you ask them.

    I’m rather stunned at the extent of Pierson’s involvement here, funding the very people who kill off the businesses that allowed the people here to AFFORD to shop at his place.

    What a stupid, short-sighted, bone-headed, dumbass move. The Pot culture is going to be suffering a massive economic downturn as soon as it is legalized, and he is going to need all of the REGULAR working people if he wants to survive. If they survive. And that’s in question now.

    Report says regulations hurt state’s economy

  77. This will mark the end of Piersons

    Finish them Security National

  78. Mere talking points there Greg.

  79. When those Nazis, I mean Arkelys, get serious about a cleanup of that site, then ask for approval of the development of the site, not before.

  80. When you bums get serious about paying to cleanup a site no one has used except to shit on for 20 years, then you can tell SN what to do with it. Whiny bitch loser.

  81. Guess you missed the forum Wednesday night. The Arkleys ARE seeking approval for the clean-up not the development.

    So there you go again, spreading the Heraldo brand of misinformation without knowing what you are talking about.

    I think spending the last 3 years attempting to get the interim (not final) clean up started shows the Arkleys are pretty serious, don’t you? I’m not sure I would have the energy to go through all the hoops required by the State.

    You really should see a doctor about that jerking knee. I think it has hit you in the head so many times you have brain damage.

  82. I wonder if the facts will confuse him. Thanks for trying, bugs. Keep up the good work.

  83. what do you actually know about home depot, you act like they are the end all to end all. My wife worked at one and would never work there again, they treat there employees like dirt.

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