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The would be bane of Arkleyville Larry Glass is a carpetbagger, and apparently legally so. So says Hank Sims.

So I ask, what’s wrong with being a carpetbagger? Is political affinity strictly defined according to geography? I’ve voted for two carpetbaggers since I moved here (Carol Ruth Silver and Michaela Alioto – two figures of SF political fame). Neither of them won. But Hillary Clinton won.

And apparently he’s willing to live in the westside, which if you believe various posters around here and Gallegos detractors, it’s pretty much like living in the post-apocalyptic down under policed only by Mad Max. You’d think they’d admire the commitment. After all, it’s not like having run a business in the neighborhood for 30 years holds any value.

His opponent Mary Beth Wolford agrees (kudos to her character):

One of his opponents — Tish Wilburn — says, in her typically snarky style, that if elected she would change the laws so that you have to live in the city for six months before running for elected office in Eureka. “He’s a carpetbagger!” she shouted, gleefully. But Glass’ main competition, incumbent First Ward Councilmember Mary Beth Wolford, was more magnanimous. “I think every candidate needs to meet the requirements stated in our elections procedures, and he has,” she said last week. “He’s moved into the Old Town area, and he’s registered to vote.”

And of course he also happens to be a mammal, which I think is a requirement.

By the way, I got a personal mention in the second half of Sims’ column for an earlier post. Who is the mysterious owner of balloontractwatch.com?

I’ve added two blogs to my local blog link list: Arkleywatch and Humboldt Nation. Please let me know if I’m missing anybody, and I would especially like to list more Mendocino County blogs. I’ll also count Trinity and Del Norte bloggers as “local.”

Update: Found another anti-Arkley blog, this one called “Arkley’s Propaganda.” Belongs to somebody named Sean Ryan.

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Captain Buhne is picking on my good friend Andy again. I’ve only skimmed the ER piece, but I do have to correct Andy on one point. His Golda Meir quote is wrong, but very often quoted that way. The end of the sentence should read “us” not “the Jews.” It might seem like a fine point, but the “us” could very well mean Israelis rather than Jews in particular. The statement seems much stronger when you use “the Jews.” If you google the subject, you will find it quoted in various ways with nobody attributing anything specific. But I was assured by a Zionist friend that it was “us,” and she admitted that the change to “the Jews” was deliberate manipulation on the part of her compatriots in the cause.

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What’s with all the screaming and carrying on about an editorial comment by Keith Olberman? I don’t have time to read up on the matter at the moment, so any brief explanation would be helpful.

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Are the Rhode Island Republicans nuts? Looks like the GOP may do the Democrats job for them. Not that Democrats haven’t done the same on numerous occasions.

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If the Times-Standard goes down under the heels of the Eureka Reporter, it will be because of editions like today’s. I mean, look at these headlines. With the dubious exception of the meth ring bust, can you get any more boring?

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Heraldo reports that the Moore killing inquest may very well be televised. And one of the commenters there is whining because s/he feels that coroner Frank Jager has “caved in” to political pressure from “loco solutions.” I’m starting to think that some of you local political old guard defenders are losing it. If you want to know why you’re losing elections, this is part of the explanation.

As posted last week, Tom Hanson and I will focus on some of more anti-intellectual moments in American politics, which has led to the demise of politicians in both parties who came across as too scholarly and intellectually aloof. We’ll focus on both history and modern trends. I’ve been accused of picking on the left too much lately, so we’ll pick on the right tonight – as well as the left. In fact, until recently I would say that the right has been producing more intellectual raw material in terms of political thought, although it seems to have degenerated as the Ann Coulters and Michael Hannity’s replace the William Buckleys and Thomas Sowells at the helm of right wing rhetoric. On the other hand, the embracing of emotional appeals to the detriment of critical thinking and reason is also rampant on the left, even when it is right, which is one of the reasons I’m not particularly enamored with most of the programming on Air America nor Pacifica Radio of late. And often, the peace movement in particular has degenerated into borderline anti-semitism (beyond merely criticism of Israel and Zionism) as well as off-the-wall conspiracy theories.

We’re going to be taking a different approach tonight. Tom and I are going to take up the first half sans callers in order to set the subject, so we don’t trail off onto specific topics and lose focus on the topic at hand. I may actually cut callers off who insist on focusing on their pet issues to the detriment of the discussion. I’ll play it by ear.

Calls will be welcome from 7:30 to 8:00, at 923-3911 or 1-800-KMUDRAD. The show is at 7:00 p.m. at 91.1 and of course you can listen in online at KMUD.ORG.


Jim Webb has crept up in the polls to within the margin of error, and Allen is still trying to fend off the tag of racism after his “macaca” slur, thrown at a native born Virginian (unlike Allen who was born in California) of east Indian descent. The surfacing of the above photo (lifted from Kos) won’t help.

Council of Conservative Citizens is a white supremacist organization that avoids some of the harsher KKK language, ensconced in respectable code words and phrases so that some of the allegedly mainstream conservative leaders have been photographed with them and even spoken at their events, including Senator Trent Lott; Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour; Mississippi state senators Gary Jackson and Dean Kirby; and former governors Guy Hunt of Alabama and Kirk Fordice of Mississippi. Here is the ADL page on them.

Senator Allen in a moment of vivid irony today:

You can tell a lot about people by the folks they stand with…”

Tell us about it George.

I’d previously said that I didn’t think this race was going to be competitive. Just changed my mind.

Update: The Nation’s all over the story.

This is a clever ad that gets your attention, brings Schwarzenegger’s pro-war stance into light, and emphasizes Schwarzenegger’s fear of debating Angelides. Angelides’ only real hope is to clobber Schwarzenegger in a debate, and he’ll probably only get one chance. Schwarzenegger is probably pushing for the weenie format where the questions are provided ahead of time, and Angelides needs some ammunition in those negotiations. Angelides is also invoking Truman with “gluttons of privilege” imagery, just in time for Labor Day. But note the LA Times headline, which just about says it all.

Angelides should also hammer hard on the governor’s anticipated veto of the universal health care bill. The problem is that Angelides himself opposes it. It’s that very gutless centrism that brought Davis down. And deals like this will help Schwartzenegger secure even some of the bleeding heart vote.

Angelides is down big in the most recent poll, and Kos has already thrown in the towel.

On another subject, the same pollster has Proposition 86, the cigarette tax, winning big.

Meanwhile, another California Republican incumbent is ducking debates. Can an issue be made of it with voters?

Photo from SJ Mercury.

Update: Hmmmm. Not good. Even libertarians like Fred are going to vote for Schwarzenegger, and he likes his party’s candidate.

I’ve got some posts on the backburner (including one about Gallegos and the dog torturers), but not a lot of time right now. But I have a few short thoughts for discussion.

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I was in court yesterday morning. There were three criminal trials in progress, almost capacity – not in terms of the available judges but in terms of the available jurors in any given week (or so this is what I’m told when we can’t get our cases out). We have one designated civil judge (J. Michael Brown). Every party in a lawsuit has the right to exclude one judge from handling the trial under Civil Code section 170.6. When a party exercises that right, the case competes with the criminal cases for those courtrooms, and criminal cases have priority. There is almost never an available courtroom for those cases. The point is, if Gallegos and his people are pleading all those cases out, why can’t I get my civil cases tried in a timely manner?

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A gentleman named Carl Johnson wrote a very brief letter to counter some of the accolades for Tim McKay, published in the ER yesterday. My first response was that it was unnecessary to criticize McKay now that he’s dead, but I thought about it. Mr. Johnson doesn’t attack McKay’s character, only what he perceives to be the impact of McKay’s deeds. It doesn’t attack his intent, nor his character. Secondly, he did wait awhile to submit the letter, so that he wouldn’t be aggravating fresh wounds, and the letter is more in response to the avalanche of praise than a comment on McKay himself.

Of course, Mr. Johnson is wrong in his conclusions, but I hope the responses to his letter aren’t reflective of my initial gut reaction. I don’t think Johnson means any disrespect.

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I heard on the KMUD’s news rebroadcast yesterday morning that the bill that would have prohibited local regulation of GMO’s was abandoned for the year, thanks in large part due to some parliamentary maneuvers by our own Wes Chesbro. I caught the story at the tail end, so I don’t know the details.

On the downside, the salmon relief bill was also blocked. Retaliation maybe?

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Oh, one of the reasons I don’t like Tuesday morning court appearances in Eureka is that Los Bagels is closed on that day. I don’t get my cup of Heart of Darkness! So I have to settle for breakfast at the Cafe Waterfront (great waffles!), now that Carl’s omelets is closed. It was empty when I got there and it looked close from the road due to construction right outside it’s door on F Street. But if you look more closely you’ll see that the corner door has been opened. The restaurant is in fact open for business, which they’re obviously losing at the moment.

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More later.

My recent post on what I consider to be the dark side of SoHum culture, due largely to the effects of the marijuana industry, didn’t generate many comments from industry apologists. I have been treated with some off-the-record conversation however, and most of it’s been fairly nuanced and positive. Nobody who’s spoken to me disagrees with my overall concern, though they’ve challenged me on what they feel are some of my misconceptions, which I’ll discuss another time.

The conversations have moved into other areas in which the Mateel experiment has not panned out as the early pioneers had hoped. I received the following piece from a long time Mateel resident and cultural participant, and the person has allowed me to post it on the condition of anonymity. I was going to edit it down a bit, but there’s some very thoughtful material in here and I’m not sure what I’d eliminate.

It’s kind of an old story heard everywhere about reality setting in on a counter-culture on some precarious foundations from the beginning. On the other hand, the counter-culture created some enduring institutions that continue to make a positive difference. The revolution may not have made good on all of its promises, but hey, the old hippies aren’t all dead yet anyway.

Connecting with our ecological roots: What’s stopping us?

The reading and class presentation regarding the evolving discipline of Ecopsychology struck a deep chord in my personal experience. Yes, human beings evolved in a context of relationship to and integration with the environment. We were not separate from the natural world; we were a part of it. Yes, we are psychologically attuned to the lifestyle of early humans. Small groups of related families living a nomadic or semi-nomadic existence in a seemingly infinite world of relationships between humans, plants, animals and natural geographic realities and climatic events. We evolved to experience periods of intense physical activity and challenge, and periods of rest, reflection, and relaxation. The activities of our lives were responses to seasonal variations in climate. We were keen observers of natural history. Our survival depended on fine tuned perceptions of patterns in natural cycles and in the behavioral characteristics of various species of plants and animals. It makes immediate, personal, common sense that we humans are psychologically whole when we intimately experience the environment in which we evolved. Yes, our intellectual and physical dissociation from ecologically based prehistoric tribal/clan lifestyles does seem connected to pathological behaviors on individual and cultural levels.

Why have we ensconced ourselves in our built world? We live, to a large extent, both mentally and physically, within “manmade” constructs. The environment still exists and the resurgence of interest in “wilderness” experience underscores our desire to reconnect to a more primal relationship with “wild” (undomesticated?) nature. What is stopping us?

Childhood relationship to nature: adventure and privacy

Two and half blocks from the house that I lived in from age 8 to age 17 was a dirt road leading to the city water supply. For a half mile on either side of Six Mile Creek, extending several miles up the creek and including three dams, there was no development. You could ride your bike to “Second Dam” in five or ten minutes. In two minutes, (it was downhill) you were in the woods. In places the creek had cut deep gorges through the upstate New York shale. I knew this watershed well, but not as an ecosystem. We fished, swam, and challenged ourselves to climb the cliffs, jump the cliffs into the reservoir 20-50 feet below, and walk the slippery foot wide edge of Second Dam from one side to the other, water on one side, 30 foot drop to rocks on the other. I remember my uncertainty the first time I swam from one side of the reservoir to the other and the feel of the patch of “seaweed” that reached up to my chest and legs 100 yards out in the middle. We walked across it’s frozen surface in the winter, hearts in our throats as we heard the unmistakable sound of ice cracking and we lay quickly on the ice spreading our weight to keep from breaking through. In the creek above Second Dam we slid down waterfalls to the pools below. We got caught in territorial rock throwing contests with the boys from South Hill. When we got older we went there to drink beer and indulge in other frowned upon, illicit activities. We went there with our girlfriends and skinny-dipped in the dark.

In my teenage experience with the restrictive atmospheres of school, family and church, this watershed represented a kind of freedom. Not so much freedom to behave as I wanted (we were teenage boys, constrained by an ill defined behavioral code of our own interpretation) but, freedom from the strictures and structures of the social roles and expectations we faced every day. As a rebellious son of a Presbyterian minister, I suppose the puritanical characterization of the forest as a place of darkness, danger and evil had a certain appeal. My comfort there helped to promote a serious questioning of the theological paradigm I was raised in.

I don’t mean to idealize this experience. In our noisy ways we saw few animals, we had little sense of responsibility for this watershed. Although there were still trout and smelt in the lake the watershed drained into, and there were bass and sunfish in the reservoir, the fishing in the creek was generally lousy. You could see 12-18 inch golden carp swimming near the surface (discarded and overgrown pet goldfish) in the first reservoir. This was not an undisturbed habitat.

One fall day, I was 18 and in the woods with six male friends, we had been climbing the waterfalls, and we came crashing and sliding down a steep slope littered with leaves recently fallen from the 30 or 40 foot tall canopy of hardwood trees. No doubt there were mushrooms, ferns, herbs, and saplings that I failed to notice. You could definitely see the path we had followed down the hillside. At the bottom of the slope was a friend of my family’s, an ardent conservationist and biology professor from the university. He lit into us with an fierce lecture on the different life forms we had so cavalierly trashed and disturbed on our way down the slope and the potential for erosion we left behind. This man was a conservation biologist and the source of most of what I knew about the woods in upstate New York. Our families camped and fished together on the Beaverkill river every year. He could answer almost every question we asked about the fish, trees, berries, fungus, insects and the strange, interesting growths we found on trees and bushes. I was chagrined, my friends were merely indignant, or so they behaved.

Later on in college in southern Ohio, as I watched the built world apparently melt before my eyes, during a brief but intense period of experimentation with psychedelics, I often retreated to the safety of the woods. The concurrence of patterns generated in the psychedelic experience with organic patterns of growth and decay in the nearby forest reinforced a growing affinity with the processes of the natural world.

In the context of the Ecopsychology readings I see this relationship with the local creeks and forests as a response to the alienation from nature experienced as a teenager in suburban upstate New York. I see the risk taking activities as both an unconscious and conscious drive to experience the ontological challenges common to young men in hunter-gatherer societies which I was prone genetically and psychologically, to emulate.

Early adulthood: Back to the land

I dropped out of college 1972 for a variety of reasons (lack of financial support and an unwillingness to commit to debt to pursue an uncertain career or educational path, among other reasons) and I hitchhiked to California for the second time. I gravitated to southern Humboldt County around the same time a number of counter-cultural refugees from college campuses and the street scenes in Haight-Ashbury and on Telegraph avenue began to establish a presence in the recently harvested (50’s and 60’s) forest lands around Garberville. I was in the woods again.

I was part of the back-to-the-land “movement”. We shared a distrust of the “system” that functioned through relatively rigid patriarchal hierarchies limiting creative initiative. This system produced the Vietnam war, cities shrouded in smog, rivers so polluted they burned, ghettos, segregation, race riots, poverty in the midst of plenty, repressive and tortuous economic and military relationships with “developing” countries, and a large middle class living a hollow Leave-it-to-Beaver lifestyle: seemingly devoid of meaning, jingoistic, damaging to the environment, and emotionally phony. We would not be plastic people, we would be real.

We were hippies. We didn’t believe the stories our culture told to explain the realities of our lives and the actions of our leaders. We came to the forest, because we didn’t fit, or didn’t want to fit, into the society we knew. Or perhaps, we came to search for a collective relationship to the natural world which would heal the damage we held inside ourselves and, we hoped, heal the culture we came from. We were arrogant enough to believe that we could show the way, wherever we were going.

We aimed to be “self-sufficient” and to divorce ourselves from the “military industrial complex”. Ideologically and culturally, if not in fact, we rejected consumerism, professional careerism, and technology in general. We wore beads, leather, sandals, long hair, shells, feathers, buck knives, leather pouches, and amulets. The appropriation of the trappings of tribal culture was no accident. Many of us wanted to live by the old ways, which we did not know.

And, we smoked marijuana. Rightly or wrongly, many of us felt that marijuana was a “mind expanding” drug, that it had opened our minds to a keener or deeper aesthetic and spiritual appreciation of music, relationships, art, sex, and the beauty inherent our natural surroundings. Marijuana was credited with improving the capacity to perceive connections between apparently disparate concepts and phenomena. And, perhaps, it did break down the ability to maintain rigid, logical boundaries between conceptual categories and disciplines, and enable one to perceive the world more directly. Sometimes to the detriment of whatever project you might be working on. Of course many people also used marijuana as an escape from responsibility, as a way to avoid facing unpleasant personal realities, as a pleasant way to relieve stress, and as a defense against intimacy in relationships.

We had lots of ideas, and even more opinions, but most of us knew almost nothing about what we were doing. Just being there was an act of faith and vision, or disgust and desperation, depending on what opportunities or constraints we left behind. We were primarily suburban and urban refugees with little, if any, experience in farm or homestead skills. We bought cheap land and built cabins from found, natural and recycled sources. At the time, we called it “scrounging” materials. We planted gardens and fruit trees, used kerosene lights, heated our cabins with wood, got our windows from U-Needa-Window used windows and doors in Berkeley, ran gravity fed cold water through plastic waterpipe to our scrounged sinks, and stopped wearing our watches. We had no electricity, no stereo, and no radio reception: we made our own music. We became aware of the phases of the moon and celebrated when the moon was full. We swam naked and often, we worked outside, we ate when we were hungry, and slept when we were tired. We could tell time by the position of the sun. We spent naked days camped at the beach eating surf fish, mussels, and abalone.

We wanted community and we wanted isolation, privacy. While mostly young, white, and middle class we were not necessarily a homogenous group. We were college educated and high school dropouts. We were wealthy scions and unemployed laborers. We were draft dodgers and Vietnam veterans. We were pacifists and we were anti gun control. We were Buddhists, Christians, Pagans, Taoists and agnostics. We were apolitical and we were democratic, socialist, anarchist and libertarian. We believed in new age philosophies and we were cynics and skeptics. We believed in communal lifestyles and we were individualists (often in the same person).

Some of us arrived single and some as couples, but many couples did not last the first winter together. Summers could be idyllic, but winters were rainy, dark, and difficult. Wet or green firewood, frozen waterlines, small cabins, broken cars and washed out roads taxed the endurance, finances, and homesteading skills of us all. The concept of “cabin fever” took on substance as a kind of forced withdrawal from the constant social and technological stimulation of “civilized” behavior patterns. Single parent families and multiple family children were common. We needed each other and we knew it.

No one I know succeeded in being self-sufficient, I rarely hear the phrase today. There were certain technological products few of us managed to do without: roads, cars, chainsaws, propane stoves and plastic water pipe. Our efforts were financed in various ways including: savings, equity from previous homes in the city, low-paying jobs in the local economy, seasonal work, periodic spells of work in more populated areas, parental support, welfare, commodities, and food stamps. Rarely was anyone able to make it off the resources on their land.

And we grew older. We learned carpentry, gardening, auto mechanics, and road maintenance skills. We made jewelry, leather goods, pottery, hand-carved pipes, wooden boxes, spoons and ladles, macramé, and all manner of crafts. As our homesteads became livable our attention turned to building alternative institutions: a health center, schools and community centers. We learned about forest rhythms of growth and recovery on the cut-over lands we purchased. The scars from recent logging (stumps, skid trails, and silted up streams eating away at their banks), viewed from the perspective of the remaining stands of old growth, were graphic reminders of what had very recently been lost. Often the roads we drove in on were old haul roads and themselves the most vivid scars on the landscape. We felt this loss, and eventually this responsibility, and began the process of recovering what we thought had been.

Ironically, and quite naturally, one of the main flags of our rebellion was the instrument that co-opted our idealism. At the same time that we began this community building and restoration effort we discovered that marijuana grew quite well in this region. When we learned that pulling the male plants and leaving the females to flower without fertilization created a very tasty bud with a high THC content, the nature of the community’s relationship to marijuana began to change. This development was almost inevitable. Marijuana seeds, tossed into the compost or dropped outside the cabin sprouted easily. Planted in a vegetable garden “weed” out produced everything else, except, perhaps, zucchini. Cannabis is a hardy plant and even a poor gardener can reap a decent harvest. As the prices for high quality home grown began to rise, the entire socioeconomic foundation of our community changed radically.

If there was ever an opportunity to recreate community on a more holistic model and to integrate day to day community activities with an ecological awareness and progressive social commitment, this was it. It was a compelling and hopeful time. The community was potentially funded to set itself up for a sustainable and equitable future.

Access to capital provided by marijuana funded numerous visions, dreams, and ambitions. Cabins became beautiful hand crafted houses. Gardens flourished, tools, generators and well equipped craft shops began to emerge all through the hills. Artists of all kinds pursued their art, a successful travel agent appeared in town, dance classes and elaborate amateur plays and dance productions were presented. We organized arts and crafts fairs where we sold our hand thrown pots or hand woven rugs and we danced and we sang.

Benefit boogies thrived and raised money for various non-profit efforts. Community centers and alternative schools found the support and involvement necessary to experiment and thrive. A health center was founded, committed to alternative therapies, preventative medicine, and patient centered care. As the community became more involved in creating institutions we searched for non-hierarchical models of organization, we made decisions by consensus, we paid everyone equally, and we took our organizational memberships seriously.

Businesses started up offering alternative, environmentally responsible, power sources: photovoltaic panels, water wheels, and wind generators for electricity, and wood fired and solar hot water heaters, even a wood fired hot tub.

People committed time and energy to salmon rearing projects and stream restoration efforts. Watershed based organizations began to appear and efforts to protect remaining intact habitats began to bring our concerns to government regulatory and public land management agencies. We learned words like biodiversity and mitigation. We began to learn more and more about place, the forest we had come to live in.

And, we thought we were really cool… funky, righteous, and cool. Being somewhat out of touch with the rest of the world, we, quite naturally, began to believe we were the counter cultural center of the known universe.

We grew older. We became established. Our family relationships, whether traditional, step-parent, or same sex, became more stable and nuclear. Our children grew older and many entered the public school system. We became well acquainted with our property lines. Fences, gates, and no trespassing signs began to appear. We no longer needed each other in the same ways. Some of us became quite well off. Those of us who did not grow weed benefited from the multiplier effect of the general prosperity. We built shops and additions, and bought new vehicles, tools, inverters, satellite dishes, stereos, TV’s, VCR’s, and all manner of consumer items. I don’t mean that we had no restraint, but we sought comfort and the security of some type of means of production. Because we had items of value, rip-offs began to occur. Some of us felt compelled to defend property with guns. Conscientious tracking and distrust of outsiders was endemic to the area. There were accidents and people were hurt and killed. In a very real way, we, as a community, lost our innocence.

This community was sandbagged by marijuana, the perfect vehicle to deconstruct our idealism. Because marijuana was already a part of our culture we had little inherent resistance to growing it. It was low-tech, natural, and organic and the production of marijuana was consistent with the parameters of our needs for economic support. We could stay where we were, work flexible hours, work outside, stay close to nature, earn a living, and remain apparently separate from mainstream American society. As it turned out the money itself and the access to status, respect, power and material well-being that it represented was enough to actuate and dramatize our own internal inconsistencies. And then intense, annual aerial community surveillance and repression of marijuana cultivation by local and federal law enforcement began.

Obstacles to our holistic eco-community building efforts presented themselves. Our buildings effort were literally and metaphorically red-tagged by the building inspector. Our stream and fish restoration projects were undermined by upstream logging. Watershed advocacy groups met with powerful opposition from large timber companies who appeared to have undue influence on government regulatory and management agencies. We saw that we could not remain isolated as a community even as we were becoming more distant from each other. We sought funding from government agencies and foundations for restoration efforts, for our health center, and various other non-profit activities. Our institutions, in the process of striving for competitive funding resources and coping with the responsibilities inherent in organizational growth and development, began to assume more traditional hierarchical structures as a part of our efforts to overcome financial and organizational obstacles to the realization of a (we thought) shared vision.

From my perspective, inherent dichotomies in the community began to express themselves at this time. In the face of obstacles and uncertainty, and given the opportunity, we began to act on the assumptions inherent in our childhood social contexts. When we had nothing or very little we recognized our common ground, and maintained a commitment to changing our relationships to each other and the environment. As our vision confronted the sources of power in our remote communities: private capital, corporate influence, local government , law enforcement, and state and federal government agencies, and as the stakes grew higher in terms of private property, career development/advancement, and organizational growth and influence, we displayed a tendency to revert to models familiar to our heterogeneous backgrounds. Those of us able to articulate issues in a language understood by businessman, foundations, scientists, courts, politicians and bureaucrats formulated strategies for moving our agendas forward and rose to leadership positions within our businesses, our organizations and our communities. Paradoxically and rationally, we began to recreate the business, social, and organizational models we intended to leave behind in order to further the development of our vision of equitable sustainability. Although significantly different from more mainstream efforts, our institutions no longer represented a paradigm shift. These models of our own creation now stand between us and a direct relationship to each other, and to nature, the sources of the sustenance we originally and instinctively sought in coming back to the land.

What stopped us?

We instinctively attempted to escape a downward spiral of participation in, and association with, increasingly pathological social behavior. We tried to heal ourselves through a commitment to creating a way of living that honored community and environmental integrity. Out of our alienation from and disenchantment with modern industrial society we reached for a connection to what was real and grounded: a direct relationship to a natural environment. Our efforts ran up against two powerful obstacles:

the political, social and economic clout of the dominate interests in our remote area, our own world views and ambitions which we inescapably and unconsciously brought with us.

Although, society as a whole is much more complex, the basic dynamics operating in this experience demonstrates the way that the “benefits” of technological prowess, and rational, dualistic, enlightenment appeal to our personal needs for comfort, security, status and respect. Our inability to develop the personal power to articulate effective, coherent alternatives capable of resisting the combination of temptation, coercion, and entrenched hegemony wielded by elite corporations and government representatives leaves our best intentions vulnerable to co-optation.

We want to develop community strategies for socially equitable, and ecologically effective, restoration and renewal. Such strategies must have the political and economic clout to counteract vested interests in our culture. This process is inherently and necessarily a personal healing process in which we confront powerful motivations integral to our own psychological and paradigmatic vested interests in the status quo which act to undermine our efforts.

To heal the personal distress, grief, and alienation we feel as members of an industrial society which is deconstructing the natural world, we want to create healthy community relationships to our immediate ecosystems. This is an inherently political process in which we encounter powerful external vested interests which act to subvert our efforts.

The power of external vested interests is a direct expression of our personal participation, which we cannot evade, in the paradigm we want to change. We cannot confront one without confronting the other. When we challenge them both, it is our highest expression of psychological health and wholeness.

As the Doonesbury comic strip character said in one of the panels about the Vietnam war, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

As we protested, humans, dressed as salmon, swam up the road to Fisher gate on Pacific Lumber property in an attempt to spawn, and were arrested. Then the highway patrol dove into the crowd looking for leaders and cameras. We drove home in our fossil fuel powered vehicle, past the old stumps, the old growth, and the second growth up the old logging road to our wood framed house. We ate some chicken raised in Petaluma, and watched a video made from petroleum by-products. The next day we gathered oyster mushrooms from the woods around our house and watched the mist, drifting through the valley, draped over the saddle in the ridge between our watershed and the next. We checked in on the Pacific salamander that lives under the plywood over by the garden. We mixed some of the acorn mush we made into a cookie recipe and had some ice cream made in Vermont. We went to bed early, the next day was work and school. A direct experience of relationship to nature is not a simple thing.

Chris Bowers over at MYDD has put together an House race forecast database, which will be updated on a regular basis. Bowers says:

“What I am not worried about is competition. The sheer amount of information I offer in this forecast easily surpasses anything publicly available anywhere in the nation.”

It’s impressive, but I don’t know that the “sheer amount of information” is all that astronomical, but he’s probably right that you won’t find all of this information in any single quick-reference source. I’m sure the professionals will be printing it out regularly. The chart contains the following:

The top 60 House races in the nation, grouped by competitiveness tier.

Meanwhile, Osama is stalking Ned Lamont.

  • The names of both the Democratic and Republican candidates in all 60 races.
  • The relative cash on hand in all 60 races
  • The partisan voting index for all 60 districts
  • The 2004 margin in all 60 districts
  • The latest poll, if any, from all 60 districts
  • Notifications as to whether each district is an open seat, held by a freshman, has a repeat challenger, or has been targeted for ad buys by the DCCC
  • Mini-commentary on each district

His projections are probably optimistic (for Democrats). Kos agrees with me:

“And for the record, I still don’t think we’ll win back either chamber. I’ve seen the GOP close the deal too many times before for me to get complacent and cocky. Nah. I think we’ll win 7-14 seats in the House, 3-5 in the Senate.”

The recent polling notwithstanding, I doubt that Virginia, Tennessee, and Nevada are really in play. Casey will probably beat Santorum in Pennsylvania. Brown is looking good in Ohio. And I’ve got a very good feeling about Montana because of an unusually strong Democrat in Tester. But I’d never bet on Missouri, and Chafee will probably pull it out Rhode Island if he wins his primary. One the up side, none of the previously indicated vulnerable Democrats look like they’re going down, not even Maria Cantwell. I say the Democrats pick up 3 (not including the Lamont win over Lieberman, which I believe is relatively certain current polls notwithstanding). I have no idea about the House, except that it appears that the Democrats will gain seats.

Oh, and Osama’s stalking Lamont (photo above from Lamont’s blog).

The whole Paul Hagen/CDAA thing is frustrating enough, but today Governor Schwarzenegger settled a suit filed by one of his alleged groping victims. The agreement? Everybody keeps quiet. Does the gag order protect her, hor him?

The suit was actually a slander suit based on allegations made by Schwarzenegger that she had forced herself onto him. Her account was, according to the L.A. Times:

Schwarzenegger had appeared on Richardson’s late-night show in December 2000 to promote his movie “The 6th Day.” Richardson said that after the taping, Schwarzenegger pulled her onto his knee and told her, “I want to know if your breasts are real,” and then groped her left breast.

According to the woman’s attorney the settlement seems to have made everybody happy.

The AVA’s Bruce Anderson once asked about one of the gag-stipulated settlements with the parents of an alleged victim: “How much money would you accept to allow Michael Jackson to rub your son’s balls?” So how much for a grope? Inquiring minds want to know.

Editing do to my own attention deficit disorder – okay, he paid (presumably) for an alleged lie rather than an alleged grope. Sue me.

Matt Stoller has some interesting east-coast perspectives on California politics in general, including the settlement and the race.

Time to kick off my November election coverage, starting with one of the worst of the propositions – number 90. I will probably be fine tuning this and other posts on various initiatives and candidates, and I’ll post a comprehensive final version a week or two before the election. I also hope to have, as usual, Tim Redmond of the Bay Guardian to discuss the statewide measures on my October radio show.

Capitalizing on the negative public reaction to the recent eminent domain case decided by the Supreme Court decision, Proposition 90 is essentially intended to force governments to privatize more services while altering 900 years of common law upon which the security of public infrastructure is based. What most property owners don’t realize is that they don’t really own their property. They own a tenancy in it. The commonwealth owns all of the land within its jurisdiction. Accordingly, it can exercise “eminent domain” to seize land for the public benefit, the Constitution requiring compensation of fair market value of the property.

The case of Kelo v. New London involved the seizure of property in order to sell it to developers, the theory being that economic development is a “public use” that eludes the minimal 5th Amendment restrictions. The Supreme Court majority voiced reservations about the policy, but refused to null the seizure on the basis that the Connecticut local government had met Constitutional terms thus rendering the issue a state matter with no federal jurisdiction.

Since the decision various states have visited the question of reform at that level, specifically placing more restrictions on the purposes for which state or local governments may invoke their commonwealth rights to the land. Unfortunately, certain special interests have been pushing additional agendas into these reform proposals, and Proposition 90 is one of those “Trojan Horse” initiatives.

Currently, the law of “takings” requires that government compensate property owners when a new zoning, regulation, or statute is passed that deprives the property owner of the essential value of the property. This measure would reduce the standard to merely “substantial” value, and the measure doesn’t bother to define the term which will open government up to a floodgate of litigation. Thus every law that could possibly have any impact on property, from rent control ordinances to environmental regulations. Even residential zoning ordinances would be at issue, as well as limited growth, parcel size minimums, ag zoning, worker safety laws, unionization rights, and virtually any benefit from basic urban civil engineering. The measure provides an ill-defined exception for public health and safety, and you can bet that more than a few governments will be trying to expand the scope of that exception, which will lead to even more litigation.

The actual portion of the proposition that actually deals with eminent domain is problematic in it’s definitions, but less of an issue for me. “Public use” would be limited to seizures for purposes in which the government would either occupy the property itself, or lease it to a private entity that allows for public entry (such as a mall, baseball stadium, or university). It couldn’t be used for private housing, nor private industry, and that’s fine with me except that it does reduce a local government’s ability to comprehensively plan local development. On the downside, the measure also fails to provide an exception for areas that create a public nuisance without a showing that each and every parcel contains the source of that nuisance, thus hampering redevelopment projects. And it couldn’t be used to promote a new industrial or other local economic base in furtherance of a general plan. Personally, since general plans are often dictated by private monetary interests, I think this measure is going to backfire on some of the proponents – the proposal does thus incorporate some characteristics of karma.

And the measure places the burden of proof on government in any court battles, while depriving it the ability to recoup attorney fees.

And the measure also allows property owners to collect more than the value of the property itself, including presumably costs the property owner may have incurred in anticipation of his/her/its own uses, essentially requiring the government to put the owner back into the economic position it would have been but for the taking. Does this mean they’re entitled to speculative profits? More lawsuits, and enormous costs to the taxpayer.

The normally conservative San Diego Union-Tribune had this to say:

The initiative then veers into radical territory in two ways:

It declares the compensation for seized property must reflect the value of the project to be built on the site, meaning an astronomical increase in the compensation taxpayers must provide.

It requires that private property owners be fully compensated when any government regulation causes their property to lose value. Decisions on matters as mundane as traffic lights, parking meters and noise abatement could be argued as having negative effects on property value. The vagueness of the initiative suggests this is just what sponsors want – an atmosphere in which local officials contemplating basic questions of governance see legal peril and costly lawsuits at every turn.

Did the trial lawyers surreptitiously take over California’s eminent domain movement?

So, while we hope those appalled by eminent domain abuses continue lobbying the Legislature for reform – Sen. Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego, is a key player on the issue – we hope that this dismay doesn’t translate into support for Proposition 90. It is a radical overreach that would create vastly more problems than it would correct.

Plenty more here and here.

And for an account of the movement behind this proposition and similar proposals in other states, please read this High Country News article.

August 2006
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