Pro “Dams on the Eel” Fennell trying to pull a fast one at tomorrow’s Supervisors meeting

Image result for Potter Valley Project

The Potter Valley Project

Last week, PG&E finally publicly announced its intent to auction the Eel River dams/Potter Valley Project this Fall.

Also last week, Friends of the Eel River learned through a series of Public Records Act requests that Humboldt County Supervisor Estelle Fennell and her fellow Eel Russian River Commissioners (county supervisors from Sonoma and Mendocino counties) have held a series of at least five secret meetings with PG&E over the last year to put together a plan to keep the Eel River dams in place. They are planning to move the dams out of federal licensing so as to avoid having to provide additional protection for fisheries (passage over 138’ Scott Dam being the main issue here). Under what’s called a “non-power license,” they’d keep operating the project primarily as a water transfer project, but they’d keep the hydropower running as well. They think they’d even get state Renewable Power credit for running these infamous fish-killing dams.

Supervisor Fennell is asking the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors to move TOMORROW to appoint her and Supervisor Bohn to an ad hoc committee that would continue to meet in secret to push this secret plan to avoid protecting Eel River salmon and steelhead. Please, if you can, make time to attend tomorrow’s Board meeting to speak against this move.

As a policy minimum, Humboldt County should be pushing for a solution that would remove Scott Dam and restore fish access to the Eel River headwaters. But at the most fundamental level, we deserve the opportunity to discuss and debate the positions our elected representatives are taking on our behalf. Democracy cannot function when leaders make policy in secret.

We would suggest speakers ask for a full public discussion of the potential options and Humboldt County’s official position on the Eel River dams / Potter Valley Project. We would urge you to request that the Board delay a vote on this proposed ad hoc committee pending such a discussion of costs, benefits, and risks to Humboldt County’s waters and fisheries. Of course, we’d strongly prefer that Humboldt County not be represented by anti-environmentalists like Fennell and Bohn, but that’s probably not a point we’re going to win. We can at minimum demand a transparent process.

The meeting begins at 9am at the usual location in the Supervisors Chambers in the Humboldt County Courthouse. The item is near the end of the agenda, but since they don’t always follow it, we recommend being there by 9:15.

Action Alert from 

Stephanie Tidwell, Executive Director




The Sundberg and Pruitt nexu$

Our very own 5th District Supervisor Ryan Sundberg was reappointed by the Trump administration to the Scott Pruitt run Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Local Government Advisory Committee.

“It is an honor to give direct input to the federal government to protect our environment through the lens of a rural county,”  Sundberg said with a straight face. We’re very sure Ryan’s right at home advising one of the most corrupt political appointees ever Scott Pruitt. No doubt they share the same views on exploiting the Environment for fun and profit

Guest post: Richard Salzman asks, “HAD ENOUGH?”

After reading Daniel Mintz’s article in April 22nd edition of Mad River Union (Madrone: Sundberg swayed by MJ money) I really don’t understand what all the fuss is about regarding Ryan Sundberg’s dependence on big money donations from the mega-grows and other “industrial” cannabis players?

Accusing Sundberg of a conflict of interest seems beyond redundant! Why even bring this issue up, unless it’s being done rhetorically? Ryan Sundberg has been working on behalf of his deep-pocket donors since the day he was first elected. Hell, who do you think recruited him to run in the first place!?

Sure, back when he first ran it may have been mostly the land speculators, realtors and those in the building trades (which, not coincidentally, is the historical purview of Mercer Fraser). Now it includes the legal marijuana industry’s fat cats: mega-growers, suppliers, distributors, industrial extractors, and a whole new crop–no pun intended–of land (and permit-acquiring) speculators. But Sundberg’s been working for them, against the interest of the average citizen from day one.

Nothing demonstrated this more vividly than his appointment of Ben Shepherd to the Planning Commission, which voted 3-2 in favor of letting Mercer-Fraser set up a cannabis extraction plant next to the Mad River. Shepherd pushed back against those who opposed the idea of an extraction venture, which would employ toxicants in its process, being established so close to the source of drinking water for the majority of county residents. Shepherd’s view was that a sewage treatment plant already existed along the river, so why not this.

This, coupled with Sundberg’s work and votes on the General Plan Update, demonstrate he’s more interested in deep pockets than your pockets. He and his fellow majority on the current Board of Supervisors voted for a “plan” that allowed for less housing overall and less environmental protection, but for greater sprawl into areas previously zoned for agriculture or timber so as to now allow for McMansions and ever more river- and groundwater-depleting mega grows. You know, the stuff his donors are doing and want to do more of.

I think State Senator Mike McGuire put it best when he said of Sundberg, “…he’s constantly fighting for the people he works for.” The only part that was not made clear in that statement is that Ryan Sundberg works for “those who brung ‘em,”–i.e., his well-heeled donors. Whether he’s “car-pooling” in their private planes, or just cashing their checks, one thing is clear–minor concerns like clean drinking water for the citizens of the Fifth District is NOT the priority. Maximizing the return on capital, that very much is. No question why big money and industry will vote for him. If one of them is your employer, you may be hoodwinked into believing what’s good for the boss is good for the worker. But for everybody else, why would you if you have another choice?

So where the hell was Ryan Sundberg last night?

A forum was hosted Thursday night at the Eureka Labor Temple for candidates in the race for the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors. From left, 4th District incumbent Virginia Bass, 4th District challenger Dani Burkhart, 4th District challenger Mary Ann Lyons and 5th District challenger Steve Madrone. Fifth District incumbent Ryan Sundberg was missing. Hunter Cresswell — The Times-Standard

Last night Nine community groups teamed up to host a community forum for all five candidates running for a Board of Supervisors seat in the upcoming election on June 5th.

The Humboldt Del Norte Central Labor Council, North Coast People’s Alliance, Cooperation Humboldt, Health Care for All Humboldt, Northcoast Environmental Center, Centro del Pueblo, Move to Amend, Affordable Homeless Housing Alternatives, and True North sponsored the event at the Labor Temple last night.

Each group posed questions relevant to their missions to each of the five invited candidates – incumbent Virginia Bass and challengers Mary Ann Lyons and Dani Burkhart in District 4, and in District 5, incumbent Ryan Sundberg(missing) and challenger Steve Madrone. The forum was moderated by Central Labor Council Secretary John Frahm, and was live-streamed on Facebook and was recorded to air soon on Access Humboldt. Sundberg was a no-show

Not only did Sundberg blow off this Community Forum but he also refused to answer a Supervisors questionnaire from the Northcoast Environmental Center that was published in their newspaper the “Eco News”. This comes on the heels of Sundberg receiving the lowest score on “The California Coastal Commission Conservation Report Card”

Here are some thoughts from a KMUD lister about last night’s forum:

Where in the hell was Ryan Sundberg tonight? All of the other supervisor candidates from both districts showed up to the Labor Temple forum/debate, except for Sundberg who was nowhere to be found!

Sundberg apparently thinks he’s too rich and “fiscally CONSERVATIVE” to be bothered with questions from voters who have to work for a living. The only reasonable explanation for Ryan Sundberg’s political self-immolation is that he wants out of office & would rather go back to selling insurance! Maybe Sundberg was arrogant to realize this isn’t 2010 or 2014 (both Republican years), and that 2018 was going to be a bad year at the polls for corrupt conservatives like Sundberg, then wouldn’t one of his liberal/progressive friends and/or family members have clued him in to the unavoidable BLUE WAVE on the way that is sure to wash away right-wing scum like Sundberg?

Or does Ryan Sundberg have no liberals/progressives that he listens to? Maybe that’s part of Sundberg’s problem…

Clearly, based on Sundberg’s conspicuous absence from the candidates forum tonight broadcast live on KMUD, and Sundberg continuing to hide from the North Coast Journal, etc. like a frightened little wimp, Ryan Sundberg doesn’t have enough respect for non-Republicans to answer their legitimate, routine questions (like every other candidate), so why would we be surprised if Sundberg wouldn’t take any advice from non-Republicans? 

Ryan Sundberg Is A Coward



Mercer-Fraser backing down? Think again

Image result for mercer fraser eureka ca

photo/graphic from Humboldt Baykeeper


First, let’s start with Ken Miller’s Letter to the editor in this morning’s Times-Standard then followed by our take;

Ryan Sundberg takes credit for putting out fires that he helped set: Mercer-Fraser’s withdrawal of their permit for a marijuana refinery on the Mad River, after the Water District’s appeal to the Board of Supervisors.

This Board of Supervisors changed the floodplain’s land use designation in the General Plan Update, 20 months after Mercer-Fraser applied for this project, leading to wasted time, energy and money.

In January, Ben Shepherd and the Planning Commission approved the project despite Humboldt Bay Water District’s objections and a public concerned for our water supply.

The Planning Commission approved a similar permit for another Mercer-Fraser cannabis refinery in the 100-year flood zone near Big Rock on the Trinity River close to an elementary school.

In 2009 Mercer-Fraser settled a fraud lawsuit for $1.3 million, after bidding for federal contracts as a small local company by concealing its affiliation with Contri Construction of Reno, Nevada, a $50 million firm, which owns 55 percent of Mercer-Fraser.

The Mendocino Air Quality District fined Grist Creek Aggregates, and Mercer-Fraser $173,000 for air pollution, declaring the plant a “public nuisance … an unpermitted crumb rubber mixing plant … a pattern of ongoing refusal to address air quality and compliance concerns …. ” Mercer-Fraser has applied to the Planning Commission for a similar permit to operate an asphalt plant near Big Lagoon.

Mercer’s lawyers imply that this permit can be resubmitted again. Maybe after the election? My hunch is that this story is not over.

Here’s how we see it:

Does anybody really believe that Mercer-Fraser is really not going to proceed with their chemical cannabis extraction business on the Mad River near Blue Lake? And what about the required zoning change needed for their longtime illegitimate gravel extraction business at that site? No way they are giving up, not by any stretch of the imagination. This project was just creating too much heat for their preferred candidates Virginia and Ryan.

So after trying to trick and/or bully the Water District into a bad deal failed, it has become too risky politically to continue to push this forward. Their legal counsel has advised them that it’s safer to wait till after their political rubber stamps are safely and securely in office for another four years before trying to move this forward.

This is not Mercer-Fraser only foray into the cannabis business don’t forget their two grows on the Van Duzen River near Dinsmore and the other chemical extraction plant proposed for the Trinity River near Willow Creek

What connection does Rex Bohn have with all this?

The corruption is so blatant in this county


We’re still waiting for the deal (?) Supervisor Sundberg; Updated

Update from LoCo:
Mercer-Fraser Withdraws Controversial Plans for Glendale Cannabis Extraction Plant and Rezone Request
Mercer-Fraser has abandoned plans to build a 5,000 square-foot marijuana manufacturing facility on a 13.5 acre parcel along the Mad River between Glendale Dr. and West End Rd. | Image courtesy County of Humboldt.
In a surprise announcement Wednesday morning, Fifth District Supervisor Ryan Sundberg tells the Outpost that Mercer-Fraser Co. has withdrawn plans for a controversial cannabis extraction facility along the banks of the Mad River, near Glendale, as well as a request to rezone the property heavy industrial.
Humboldt County Planning and Building Director John Ford confirms that the county received a letter from Mercer-Fraser’s attorney Tuesday night withdrawing both the proposed plans for a cannabis extraction facility and the request to have the property rezoned from agricultural to heavy industrial.
The project, which was narrowly approved by the Humboldt County Planning Commission earlier this year, has drawn a great deal of public scrutiny as well as an official appeal from the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District (HBMWD), whose leadership has argued that heavy industrial use on the property threatens to “adversely affect the domestic drinking water supply for nearly two thirds of the population of Humboldt County.”
Reached by phone this morning, HBMWD General Manager John Friedenbach said he had not heard of Mercer-Fraser’s plans to abandon the project.
“I’m surprised,” he said before quickly adding, “I reserve final judgment pending seeing that in writing.” Friedenbach added that if it proves to be true, “obviously the district is very glad to hear that.”
Sundberg recently has been alluding to an agreement that would please everybody, though earlier this week Mercer-Fraser President Justin Zabel said he couldn’t discuss what was in the works.
“We’re working on a good solution right now,” Zabel said on Monday. “So I guess stay tuned.”
He went on to say that he felt the project has been largely misunderstood, especially the request to rezone the property heavy industrial, which he said was a natural extension of changes made to the the underlying land use designation during the county’s general plan update.
Mercer-Fraser has operated a gravel yard and concrete batch plant on the premises for years.
“People talk about how the public should know what’s going on; this general plan [update] was going on for 10 years,” Zabel said, noting that Mercer-Fraser and other property owners in the Glendale region filed rezone requests as part of the open public process.
Zabel added that the company had no plans to operate the proposed cannabis extraction facility itself; rather, it was building it to lease. The proposal proved controversial largely because of plans to use volatile solvents, including butane, propane and carbon dioxide, in the extraction process.
HBMWD staff said heavy industrial activity near their Ranney Collectors (pump houses) threatened to contaminate the drinking water for up to two-thirds of the population of Humboldt County. These pump houses draw water up from the aquifer through the sands and gravel of the riverbed, providing filtered drinking water to residents of Eureka, Arcata, McKinleyville, Blue Lake, Manila and other communities in the north bay region.
Mercer-Fraser’s property sits within the Mad River’s 100-year flood zone, though Zabel said the company had agreed to build the cannabis extraction facility two feet above that designated elevation and had gone above and beyond state regulations in designing a septic disposal system.
“I am very happy to have this issue come to a successful conclusion,” Sundberg said. “It took a little more time because Mercer-Fraser wanted to look into withdrawing both the permit and the rezone. I want to thank them for working with me through the issues and their responsiveness to the community.”

Except will Mercer-Fraser bring this back in the near future after the election?


Mercer-Fraser’s Justin Zabel

Sundberg and Zabel continue to delay appeal hearing over Mercer-Fraser “hash lab” on the Mad

Mercer-Fraser’s Justin Zabel in cahoots with Ryan Sundberg continue to tease a resolution of the standoff with the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District over the potential threat to the water supply for two-thirds of Humboldt County water users. The Examiner asks; How can there be this great resolution if HBMWD isn’t aware of said resolution.

It seems to us that Ryan is just trying to kick the can down the road past the contested election for his 5th district seat.

From Tuesday's times-standard:

 Decision on pot facility expected

Sundberg “I think everybody will be happy’ with the resolution”

The Mercer-Fraser Company is expected to make an announcement Tuesday about its controversial proposal to build a cannabis manufacturing facility in Glendale upriver from a local drinking water supply pump that provides water to two-thirds of county residents, according to 5th District Humboldt County Supervisor and Board Chairman Ryan Sundberg.

Sundberg said he has been working with the company and the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District — which supplies water to about 88,000 residents — in an attempt to resolve the water district’s concerns with the project.

“I think everybody will be happy with this. Nothing has changed,” Sundberg told the Times-Standard on Monday afternoon.

Mercer-Fraser CEO Justin Zabel said in an email to the Times-Standard on Monday evening a recent meeting with the county planning department and the water district was “very productive.” “We were finally able to have another meeting to meet and confer with county planning last week to discuss the entire application, rather than just the special permit application pursuant to our previous meetings and discussions with the water district and others,” Zabel wrote. “The meeting was very productive which will allow us to address the concerns shortly.”

The district and its seven municipal customers have expressed concern that the facility and a proposed zoning change at the property could potentially allow industrial contaminants to make their way into the groundwater or drinking water. The company has stated local and state regulations require safe containment of any chemicals used at the facility and that any future industrial uses at the property would have to be approved through a publicly vetted permitting process. The project has been on hold as the water district and Mercer-Fraser staff discuss potential resolutions. Last week, the water district’s General Manager John Friedenbach said that they had reached a verbal agreement on March 19, but that Mercer-Fraser has since changed its stance and the resolution talks had fallen through. As to whether Mercer-Fraser had agreed to pull the project entirely or modify it, Friedenbach declined comment both last week and again Monday. Sundberg also deferred comment to Mercer-Fraser.

Sundberg said he was disappointed in Friedenbach’s statements last week because nothing has changed about the agreement struck in March.

Mercer-Fraser staff met with county Planning and Building Director John Ford on April 9 to discuss more options, Sundberg said.

“They wanted to look at more options than just removing one permit,” Sundberg said. As to Tuesday’s expected announcement, Friedenbach said, “We’ll just wait and see what the announcement contains.”

The water district was also contacted by Mercer- Fraser’s attorney last week informing them the district’s hired counsel at Pioneer Law Group in Sacramento had a conflict of interest. The law firm had represented Mercer-Fraser more than 10 years ago but did not inform the water district, according to Friedenbach.

The district had retained the Sacramento law firm rather than its normal Eureka firm Mitchell, Brisso, Delaney, and Vrieze because the firm had previously represented Mercer- Fraser Company.

Friedenbach said that the water district’s board of directors voted Thursday to retain the Sacramento- based Thomas Law Group to replace Pioneer Law Group.

The latest news on Trumps crime family and their contacts with GRU – Russian Military intelligence

Former Trump campaign aide was in contact with a person who the FBI believed had ties to Russian intelligence during the run-up to the 2016 election, according to new court documents filed Wednesday by special counsel Robert Mueller.

The contact, identified in court documents as “Person A,” and Gates were “directly communicating” in September and October prior to the election, prosecutors asserted in court documents.

Gates has since pleaded guilty to conspiracy and lying to the FBI and has promised to assist Mueller’s continuing probe into Russia’s interference in the election.

The contacts were disclosed in court documents filed in a related case involving the sentencing of a Dutch attorney who pleaded guilty last month to lying to the FBI about his work for Gates and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Prosecutors claim that the attorney, Alex Van Der Zwaan, knew about the person’s ties to Russian intelligence.

Outstanding question: Was Manafort working directly for the Russian Government on assignment to the Trump campaign?

“Gates told him ‘Person A’ was a former Russian intelligence officer with the GRU (the intelligence arm of the Russian military),” the court documents state.

Pardon talk for crime family members


The New York Times reported that President Trump’s former lead attorney, John Dowd, last summer engaged in discussions about possible pardons for Manafort and former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn as Mueller’s prosecutors were building criminal cases against the two.

Manafort was indicted along with Gates on conspiracy and money laundering charges in Washington, D.C. He faces related bank fraud charges in an Alexandria, Va., federal court. Both cases were brought by Mueller’s prosecutors and Manafort has pleaded not guilty.

Flynn, meanwhile, pleaded guilty in December to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in the weeks before Trump took office. And he is also cooperating with Mueller’s continuing investigation.

Dowd, who resigned as Trump’s lead attorney last week, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said pardons had not been discussed, referring to deputy White House counsel Ty Cobb’s statement: “I have only been asked about pardons by the press.”

Jay Sekulow, the president’s current lead attorney, said he did not take part in any such discussions.

“Never during the course of my representation of the president have I had any discussions of pardons of any individuals involved in this inquiry,” Sekulow said in a statement.

Rob Kelner, Flynn’s attorney, declined comment Wednesday. Reginald Brown, who represented Manafort last summer, was traveling Wednesday and not immediately available for comment.

Last July, when initial reports surfaced that the president and advisers were exploring Trump’s authority to grant pardons, Dowd flatly denied the account then reported by the Washington Post.

At the time, the report indicated that president and advisers were specifically researching Trump’s authority to pardon members of his family, and possibly himself, related to the Russia inquiry.

original story from –

The United States is Disgraced and Humiliated on the world stage…….again

Still not “our” President

In a fundraising speech Wednesday, Trump admitted once and for all that he just makes stuff up.

Trump who has racked up more than 2,000 false and misleading claims since being named the winner by the Electoral College. Trump insisted to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that the United States runs a trade deficit with Canada — despite having “no idea” whether that was the case. (Surprise! It’s not.)

“I said, ‘Wrong, Justin, you do.’ I didn’t even know,” Trump said. “I had no idea. I just said, ‘You’re wrong.’ You know why? Because we’re so stupid.”

None of this is hugely surprising. Trump utters way too many falsehoods for it to be a coincidence. And we’ve seen over and over again — particularly most recently in meetings with lawmakers about guns and immigration — that Trump simply doesn’t do his homework beforehand. He generally doesn’t seem to have even a cursory understanding of what Congress is up to or about the underlying policies.

But the fact that Trump would make up this particular fact is especially remarkable and ominous.

The first reason is that this is perhaps the one issue Trump has focused on for decades: trade. It would be more understandable for him to make things up on guns and immigration, but trade is supposedly the issue on which Trump has been entirely consistent for many years. The idea that other countries are taking advantage of the United States was a talking point long before he became a politician.

Trump for years has talked about how the North American Free Trade Agreement is such a bad deal. And he threatened Canada with new steel and aluminum tariffs before he decided to exempt them, for now, as long as the NAFTA negotiations go his way.  Yet he didn’t even know that the United States runs a trade surplus with Canada!? If he doesn’t have that basic a level of background knowledge on an issue he apparently cares deeply about, what does he study?

The second reason is that it was a rather pointless invention. Trudeau knows the truth: He has been involved in policymaking for years and knows these things because it’s very important to his job as a world leader. Why Trump would feel the need to make something up that is of such consequence to Trudeau doesn’t even make sense for strategic reasons. It’s not as if Trump was going to pull one over on the prime minister and have the Canadians suddenly cave on NAFTA negotiations.

The final part of this is what it says about Trump’s brand of diplomacy. This isn’t the first time we’ve got a glimpse behind the curtain. Early in his presidency, The Washington Post obtained transcripts of his calls with the leaders of Australia and Mexico. Trump’s call with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull turned contentious after Trump became enraged by an agreement the Obama administration made with Australia to take some refugees. Trump didn’t seem to have any understanding of the agreement of Australia’s policy of not accepting refugees who arrive by boat.

What happens if Trump takes this approach — or the one from the meetings on guns and immigration — to his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un? Can a guy who can’t be bothered to understand the basics before talking to foreign leaders and lawmakers do the kind of homework required for very sensitive and complicated negotiations involving nuclear programs? And what if he doesn’t even try? What if he decides to wing it, as he did with Trudeau?

Thus far, Trump has shown no signs that he thinks that style isn’t working. And apparently, it’s still very much a part of his international diplomacy.

edited from –