This week’s NorthCoast Journal and Lost Coast Outpost gave the public a bit of light on the inner workings of the General Plan Update through public records requests. Bravo and about freaking time. What’s sad is that this shocking information has been out there for quite a while, and none of our local news sources have really looked into it, until now. The reason they have actually done real journalism recently is simple; the public got involved and has voiced serious concerns over the corruption and collusion from big money and the Board of Supervisors.
The NCJ documents an exchange of emails between Marian Brady and Virginia Bass. Surprisingly, these emails show the varying lengths of influence that money is able to buy. When the email touched on changing the GPU to allow uncontrolled development of open spaces and resource land, Bass chided Brady for “sadly giving up (her) governance ability to others.” Bass went on to further state the limits of what big time donors actually buy with donations (in her mind); “Financial supporters are wonderful and necessary but sometimes they don’t realize that what they gain by their support is access, an open ear and open communication…”.
So the Brady bunch sold their soul to Arkley and those who shared Arkleys interest (uncontrolled development) because of the campaign donations to their perspective campaigns, along with Measure N (the re-zoning of the balloon tract). Obviously, the city of Eureka has been bought and paid for. Thankfully Bass had her morals, and was sticking by GPU language protecting resource lands and open spaces from being converted into residential areas.
But then came the payoff………..access. Before the important vote, Randy Gans (Arkley’s Henchman) texted Bass and asked for a coffee date to discuss this provision, making it clear that it was about how his (Arkley’s) interest might be effected by such restrictive language. He texted, “One wrong word here and one comma there and we will have a new version of the coastal act to live by in Humboldt County”. Obviously, the Coastal Act and other environmental protections are not in their interests.
Bass got the point, loud and clear. Whereas before she was lambasting Brady for selling her soul, Bass now saw that her backers were pulling in a favor. From the NCJ:
“A couple of days later, Bass texted back, asking if she could skip the coffee meeting. “If it helps to know, I’ve spent the last several days talking to about 16 people most of them I’m sure you know including Lee et cetera who probably are talking about the same concerns. I happen to agree on item 4 …” Bass wrote back. About a week later, the board voted 4-1, with Lovelace dissenting, to again lop off the “restrictive language” discouraging the conversion of resource land and open spaces. The vast majority of e-mails the supervisors received from the general public on the issue had been in support of the Sept. 23 revisions.”
Money talks. It buys influence not only nationally, but right here in Humboldt. Bass, it seems, at least tried to appear to be above the influence (in the beginning). But when push came to shove, she did the exact thing she criticized Marian Brady for. Bass wrote to Brady before her change of mind, “It doesn’t mean that someone gives up their soul and promises to do everything they (big donors) want. I am not that person nor will I ever be.” Really Virginia, it seems that you just sold that soul.