Frivolous California Assembly resolution targets foul-mouthed Senator

As California continues to plummet toward complete financial collapse, lawmakers in the State Assembly this month put aside a slew of important issues and devoted precious legislative time to pass a resolution that would make the first week of March “cuss-free” in the Golden State.

ACR 112, as it is known, will likely face fierce opposition from Humboldt County’s Senate representative Pat Wiggins, whose staunch defense of her First Amendment rights emboldened her to launch the infamous “bullshit” remark aimed at an African-American pastor from a Sacramento-area church during a televised committee hearing in 2008.

While Wiggins’ increasingly erratic behavior has attracted widespread media attention and concern in political circles over her “outbursts, odd displays of affection and apparent inability at times to focus or remember” that some say is evidence of her stunningly rapid mental decline, staffers have adamantly maintained that the senator is competent and fully capable of fulfilling her duties. Wiggins’ most recent outburst a little over a week ago was a screaming tirade at an empty water container that lasted for several minutes and ended with what witnesses said was her moving threateningly toward a fellow senator that caused security and staffers to intervene. Wiggins’ press aid David Miller acknowledged to the media that the 69-year-old senator has a medical condition she’s being treated for, but Miller has routinely downplayed her “irritable” behavior as a byproduct of a hearing problem.

The resolution, which was co-authored by Assemblyman Wes Chesbro (D-Arcata), could mark the latest move by Democratic leadership in Sacramento to distance themselves from Wiggins. Cal-Channel, which televises the legislature’s proceedings, already pulled the plug on televised hearings that Wiggins chairs.

According to the text of the “No Cussing” resolution, any profane outburst from Wiggins during the first week of March would encourage the Santa Rosa-based Democrat “place money in a jar…and donate collected funds to charity.” Perhaps Wiggins, who is paid more than $116,000 annually by taxpayers and may not actually know who she is or where she is at any given moment, should send any collected money to the state’s coffers to help chip away at the ballooning budget deficit.

WARNING: Graphic content. View at your own risk.

Our heartfelt thanks to an old friend for sending this gem along.

Yes–that’s a youthful Bonnie Neely, pre-nose-job, pre-dye-job, pre-shitty-job representing the residents of her district.

Don’t hate her because she’s beautiful.

This rare photo captures the very last moment the curtains matched the rug.

(Click on photo to enlarge.)

Wiggins Batshit Crazy Redux

This crazed look is only a byproduct of a hearing problem? Photo stolen from the Press Democrat.

Apparently California Sen. Pat Wiggins has moved slightly closer to being completely batshit crazy following an incident in Sacramento this week during a packed committee meeting.

The Press Democrat reported that she yelled repeatedly at a water container before charging at another senator. She had to be subdued by security.

According to the article, Wiggins aide David Miller downplayed the event as a byproduct of Wiggins’ unspecified “medical condition.”

Miller added that the condition “does not affect her ability to do her job as a senator. But it can make her irritable, and when she’s irritable, she lets it be known.”

The senator also has a well-documented hearing problem that her staff says can make it appear as if she is angry or disoriented when she is not.

Larry Glass wants to punt tough zoo decision to voters

According to the Times-Standard, Larry Glass has secured a spot at tomorrow’s City Council meeting to ask that the fate of the Sequoia Park Zoo’s city-subsidized funding be placed in the hands of voters on an upcoming ballot as the city grapples with the sticky situation of cutting $2.5 million in midyear budget adjustments.

How could we not see this one coming?

Here’s a little reminder of the things that Glass supports and opposes. We’re sure the zoo funding has nothing to do with his hatred for anything related to Rob Arkley, who has donated considerable money to the zoo over the years…

Proposition 65: How to exploit a good-intentioned law to divert money to shadowy, litigious environmental groups

Q: What do all of the above companies have in common ?

A: They were among the 39 corporations sued by Humboldt County’s Mateel Environmental Justice Foundation in 2008 for product warnings and reformulations under the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986.

Proposition 65, which was referenced in a recent T-S My Word, was passed by Californians in 1986 because of toxic chemical concerns related to cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm. The initiative, for all the right reasons, asked that businesses notify consumers and residents about significant levels of cancer causing compounds in products, their homes and….workplaces, or other bad stuff released into the air, ground or water.

Without a doubt, the world is a better place since Prop. 65 was passed and people are indeed safer thanks to some companies’ voluntary label warnings and products changes, as well as the court-mandated changes that came as a result of the numerous lawsuits brought by the government. But the law also opened the door for some of the biggest abuses by predatory and litigious “environmental” groups.

With a legal loophole on their side, 2008 was a spectacularly profitable year for the Mateel Environmental Justice Foundation. Never heard of the Mateel Environmental Justice Foundation? That’s not surprising. Mateel is a quiet little operation based out of Eureka that targets big businesses whose corporate headquarters are mostly far away from California in places like Maryland, Illinois and Ohio. According to California’s Attorney General’s Office, which tracks Prop. 65 lawsuits, Mateel settled 39 lawsuits in 2008 for over $1.7 million. Kudos to local lawyer William Verick for representing Mateel and raking in a hefty $1.06 million in attorney fees — roughly 60 percent of the total money awarded in the settlements.

But it’s not just warning labels, product reformulations and excessive attorneys fees that Mateel is after. Through Prop. 65 lawsuit settlements, Mateel also pilfered a shit load of additional dollars through “other distributions” that was handed over to other environmental groups, left-leaning radio stations and other interesting folks. How much? Well, just a paltry $619,850 in 2008.

So, just where did all that extra cash go from the Prop. 65 bonanza payouts?

Payout of "other distributions" from Mateel's Prop. 65 lawsuits in 2008.

So we know what CATs and the Environmental Protection Information Center does, but we’re fuzzy on what exactly the Ecological Rights Foundation does and why they are so cozy with Mateel to get so much cash from the lawsuits. But more on that later.

The academics Clifford Rechtschaffen and Patrick Williams at the Golden Gate University School of Law admit Proposition 65 is “quirky,” but paint a rather rosy picture in their paper published in 2005 titled “The Continued Success of Proposition 65 in Reducing Toxic Exposures:”

Nearly 20 years have passed since California residents overwhelmingly voted to enact Proposition 65, the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act…The statute remains as controversial—if not more so—than when it was first enacted. Media attention in recent years often focuses on some of the quirkier or more sensational enforcement actions—such as suits about acrylimide in bread products and French fries, or lead in chocolate—and on the statute’s perceived excesses—such as suits by profiteering lawyers that result in large fee recoveries relative to the penalties imposed. The less frequently told story, however, is one of continued success in removing toxic chemicals from consumer products and industrial activities.

So it also shouldn’t come as any surprise that the Golden Gate University’s Environmental Litigation Clinic was named as one of the recipients of more than $309,000 in “other distributions” from the 40 Prop. 65 lawsuits Mateel filed in 2004—a year before the paper was published. Go figure.

Quote of the day

Quoth Bonnie Neely in today’s Times-Standard:

“The Pacific Legal Foundation is a Sacramento special interest group funded by big oil and tobacco companies, and I don’t think anybody in Humboldt County trusts them to clean up a toxic site.”

Uh, yeah.

And Bonnie Neely is a washed-up Eureka politician funded by gambling and development interests, and after 24 years of her doing fuck nothing, we don’t think anybody in Humboldt County trusts her to clean up this toxic site.

Or to do anything else productive, for that matter.


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.