Ten years after: grim and getting worse

Ten years ago, in January 2010, the Supreme Court released its disastrous Citizens United decision. The court, either through remarkable naivety or sheer malevolence, essentially married the terrible idea that “money is speech” to the terrible idea that “corporations are people.”

The ruling put a for sale sign on our democracy, opening up a flood of corporate, special interest, and even foreign money into our politics.

Through Citizens United and related decisions, the Court made a bad situation worse. We saw the proliferation of super PACs, which can accept and spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections, and the rise of dark money, which is undisclosed political spending that can come from any special interest, including foreign countries.

In the 10 years since the decision, there’s been $4.5 billion in political spending by outside interest groups, compared to $750 million spent in the 20 years prior to the case.

From 2000-2008, there were only 15 federal races where outside spending exceeded candidate spending. In the same amount of time following Citizens United, this occurred in 126 races. Now, almost half of all outside spending is dark money that has no or limited disclosure of its donors.

That money isn’t coming from the farmers suffering through Donald Trump’s trade war or the fast-food workers fighting for a living wage. It’s coming from the wealthiest donors, people often with very different priorities than the majority of Americans. In fact, a full one-fifth of all super PAC donations in the past 10 years have come from just 11 people.

This has led to an unresponsive and dysfunctional government. With so many politicians in the pockets of their big donors, it’s been even harder to make progress on issues like gun safety, health care costs, or climate change.

Not to mention, we’re left with the most corrupt president in American history, who’s embroiled in a series of scandals that threaten our prosperity, safety, and security.

To name just a few of these scandals: Trump urged a foreign country to investigate his political opponents. His lawyer’s “associates” funneled money into Trump’s super PAC through a sham corporation. The National Rifle Association spent tens of millions of dollars in unreported “dark” money to elect him while allegedly serving as a Russian asset.

Trump and his accomplices should be held accountable, through congressional impeachment, the judicial process, or both. But we also need meaningful anti-corruption reforms.

Thanks to a class of reformers elected in 2018, we’ve already begun that process. Last year, the House of Representatives passed the For the People Act (H.R. 1).

H.R. 1 would strengthen ethics rules and enforcement; reduce the influence of big money while empowering individual, small-dollar donors; and, along with a bill to restore the Voting Rights Act, protect every American’s right to vote. It also calls for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.

Sadly, this bill is being blocked by Mitch McConnell in the Senate.

These reforms are all popular with the American people. We can unrig the system and restore that faith by fighting for these priorities, and by pressuring elected officials to act. Join groups like End Citizens United or Let America Vote to push back against our rigged system and put people ahead of corporate special interests.

Together, we can restore trust in government, prevent corruption, strengthen our national security, and ensure Washington truly works for the people.

 

 

from Times-Standard by Tiffany Muller
Tiffany Muller is the president of End Citizens United. Follow her at @Tiffany_Muller. 

 

Time to confront Arcata’s evil neighbor Sun Valley Floral Farms

The man with the power to stop this – Sun Valley CEO and President Lane DeVries

Don’t be fooled by the expanse of pretty irises growing between Foster Avenue and Bay School Road in the Arcata Bottom.

Earlier this year, Sun Valley Floral Farms sprayed that field with the carcinogen glyphosate (aka Roundup) without adequately informing neighbors, the three nearby schools, or anyone in the densely populated Greenview/Windsong neighborhood of Arcata, all of which were downwind of the spraying.

In 2015 the World Health Organization declared glyphosate a “probable carcinogen.” Later the state of California added glyphosate to its list of chemicals that cause cancer. Since then Monsanto and its parent company Bayer, which produces glyphosate, have suffered several high-profile court losses to victims of glyphosate who contracted non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other cancers. By now managers of any company that uses glyphosate should well know that in doing so they risk giving workers and neighbors cancer. (A new study shows when combined with other risk factors Glyphosate dramatically increases the risk of breast cancer)*TE

The Arcata Bottom tract is new to Sun Valley’s floral production. It was formerly used to feed cattle, with no chemicals needed. Yet over summer Sun Valley was at it again, spraying the same field with yet another carcinogen: chlorothalonil.

In this case, I watched it happen. My presence was coincidental, as spraying occurred with no public notice. On the afternoon of July 30 a Sun Valley operator sprayed chlorothalonil onto the company’s new field. It was chilling to watch the day’s predictable northwest breeze wafting the chemical across Bay School Road right into neighbors’ homes and yards, and presumably into Arcata.

The next day a large troupe of agricultural workers tarried in this very field, presumably absorbing the toxic impacts of a long-lasting chemical like chlorothalonil. (I learned that the chemical was chlorothalonil by contacting the Humboldt County Agricultural Commissioner’s office.)

The state and federal governments list chlorothalonil as a probable human carcinogen and reproductive toxin. Chlorothalonil can contaminate the air traveling beyond the field and has been found in residential neighborhoods in many areas where it is applied. It is a potential groundwater contaminant, is persistent in soils, and is acutely toxic to fish, crabs, and frogs.

In 2016 (the last year for which statistics are available) Sun Valley used 1,152 pounds of chlorothalonil in Humboldt County. Now that the company is cultivating a new field its use of chlorothalonil has undoubtedly risen.

Also in 2016, Sun Valley applied 1,621 pounds of captan—a mutagen and carcinogen that can cause respiratory damage and is highly toxic to fish—and 171 pounds of thiophanate-methyl. Thiophanate-methyl is a possible human carcinogen and suspected endocrine disruptor.

(The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences defines endocrine disruptors as “chemicals that may interfere with the body’s endocrine system and produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in both humans and wildlife.”) Other dangerous and toxic chemicals used by Sun Valley include diuron (birth defects, groundwater contamination, destruction of aquatic invertebrates) and the infamous 2,4-D (developmental and reproductive toxin, a possible human carcinogen, potential groundwater contaminant).

It’s bad enough that Sun Valley uses these poisons for non-food crops that could easily be produced without them. It’s infuriating that the company would waltz onto a brand new field, formerly free of toxics, and blithely contaminate it as well. Sun Valley might blandly state that “we adhere and comply with state and federal laws” in applying the chemicals, but this may not even be true.

The company has no legal right to contaminate the waters and wildlife of California, which are owned by the people, and Sun Valley certainly has no legal right to poison its workers and its neighbors. Without extensive and expensive monitoring there is no way to adequately ascertain the extent of such contamination.

Companies like Sun Valley count on this difficult process, and deferent county and state officials, to protect their “right” to do whatever they want, no matter the human and environmental costs.

The County of Humboldt and the City of Arcata, and its residents, need to step up and object to Sun Valley’s contamination. There is no reason these irises cannot be grown organically, except that it might cost a penny or two more on the dollar.

So instead, Sun Valley management, including company CEO and President Lane DeVries, has opted to impose these costs onto the lives of workers, neighbors, and the environment.

Greg King Mad River Union Oct 2, 2019

Natalynne DeLapp former ED at EPIC has now become a true corporate shill…..sad

Natalynne DeLapp (center)

From: Natalynne DeLapp

To: Bohn, Rex

Subject: Fwd: Travel to Humboldt – Next Week

Date: Monday, April 01, 2019 10:34:53 AM

Rex,

We need to come up with a list of all the various organizations, groups, needs, etc that Terra-Gen can contribute to now and into the future. Who needs a fire truck?

Natalynne

———- Forwarded message ———

From: Natalynne DeLapp

Date: Mon, Apr 1, 2019 at 10:30 AM

Subject: Re: Travel to Humboldt – Next Week

To: Nathan Vajdos

Cc: Kevin Martin, Erec DeVost (Erec.DeVost@stantec.com)

Hey Nathan and team,

You’re coming here on April 9 & 10 (?) Have you already set appointments with the Wiyot, or do you want me to do that? My suggestion for Terra-Gen is to assess “how much padding does the company have to reinvest in ‘good neighbor’ projects and community re-investment this year, and into the future?” There are a lot of worthy projects and needs that Humboldt has from environmental, to cultural, employment, mental health, social, public safety, etc. Just as our community members have a culture of philanthropy with how we contribute our hard-earned dollars to our non-profits (KMUD and KHSU radio stations, hospitals, volunteer fire departments, schools, as well as supporting local political candidates, etc)–Terra-Gen ought to have a plan for how it is going to give back to the community beyond property tax dollars now and into the future. I understand the pie/pool of money/resources is only so big, and that Terra-Gen has finite resources (you’re not Santa Claus or Daddy Warbucks) and folks need to adjust their expectations of what the company is able to do. I believe it is your best interests to maximize your return on investment, while at the same time creating the greatest good, for the greatest number of people. The specifics of who and what gets what moving forward is going to be key. The Zanzis, Chang, Fae, Rio Dell, Wiyot, enviros, etc. (KCJ- The first three are landowners near the project)

What is going to be the “sugar that helps the medicine go down?”

This is directly linked to the Unions and some of the progressive “solutions” to “problems” and when they think the “only way to make sure the community is benefited is through Labor Agreements, or Community Benefits Agreements.” When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Being a good neighbor voluntarily and in advance, prior to being forced (with legally binding contracts, or bullied with extortion) is one of those solutions. I personally do not believe paying a small number of people more money to build a project, for a short period of time (aka labor contract) is good for the greatest number of people. I would sooner see Terra-Gen invest monies in economic development, educational opportunities, mental health/addiction services, and environmental restoration.

The county just held its “Budget Roadshow” where members of the public tell the county what their priorities are so the county can allocate resources according to the will of the people–that is a “road map” to the political will of the people–labor contracts were not a part of that discussion. Given my background in fundraising and development, non-profits, and election campaigning, I am uniquely sensitive to the financial needs (scare resources) of the community, and have worked for a decade, “Encouraging a Culture of Philanthropy.” I wrote the below Op-Ed back in 2013. I believe it still holds true, and is relevant to the discussion.

Natalynne

 

Source FOIA request

US tax laws prop up frauds like “#Brokeahontas” while screwing over everyday taxpayers.

Bill Maher called Trump a “reverse billionaire” and said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) should call him “Brokeahontas.”

How the US tax laws prop up frauds like “#Brokeahontas” Donald Trump — while screwing over everyday taxpayers.

US Taxpayers have given “Brokeahontas.” more money than his daddy ever did

The New York Times disclosure that Donald Trump was able “to avoid paying income taxes” for years, while he racked up $1.17 billion in losses, tells you all you need to know about the American system of taxation that rewards risk, debt and speculation because it so completely insulates the greediest among us from the real world consequences of all three.
We know that our tax system taxes wages we earn at a much higher rate than the profits the rich earn off their investments. But it’s more perverse than that because it actually incentivizes the most predatory traits of vulture capitalism.

Getting Paid to be the fool

To be sure, over the years the plume of red ink coming out of the Trump corporate octopus has proven toxic for an army of small business owners and investors.
In Atlantic City, corporate entities tied to Trump filed for bankruptcy four times since 1990, allowing the companies to shed hundreds of millions of dollars in debt, but leaving a long list of businesses that did not get paid. The losers included small businesses and tradespeople.
Back in October 2015 when interviewed Trump for CBS MoneyWatch he was nonchalant about the human carnage of his Atlantic City serial bankruptcies. “That’s part of the process,” he said. “I wanted to use the bankruptcy law to my own advantage. Should I have used it to somebody else’s advantage? These people may have gotten clipped at the end, but they made a lot of money along the way with me.”

To dismantle this rigged system that rewards the rich and punishes everybody else we have to educate ourselves on its built-in features. It not just the rate of taxation, or the facility with which the wealthy can avoid taxation, but it’s also the behaviors that the tax system rewards.
James S. Henry an investigative economist-lawyer and a Global Justice Fellow at Yale University said,

“We had a lot of neo-conservative economists back in the 1980s and early 90s arguing that we should have lower taxes on capital than labor because that would encourage economic growth,” he said in a phone interview. “We basically went off on a binge during that whole period and I think Trump was on the scene making one bad investment after another.”
In commercial real estate, building owners benefit from a precept that buildings lose their value over time even though their actual cash value has grown, sometimes exponentially. That so-called ‘depreciation’ can be deducted from their taxes as well as the interest from the debt which moguls incur when they borrow, as they almost always do, to purchase multi-million-dollar properties.
They can further shelter their wealth and profits through forming trusts so they can pass along their fortune while greatly reducing, if not zeroing out, any possible tax liability.
“We have generous tax deductions and depreciation allowances and it is especially true in the case of the real estate industry where Trump is ensconced,” said Henry. “You have this combination of accelerated depreciation and interest deductibility which just encouraged everybody to go head over heels into highly leveraged real estate investments.”
He continued, “There’s a whole chapter to be written in the history of Trump and the role of the tax system in giving him a repeated rebirth.”

Brian Aryai, is the CEO of Icon Compliance Services and had a distinguished career as a Special Agent with the IRS. He says the Trump saga is emblematic of the“unfairness of the tax code, when as a business entity you can have massive losses year after year for tax purposes, while in reality, you are earning millions or billions.”
“Add to that shortcoming dwindling resources for enforcement, scarcity of audits, and you have a toxic formula for an extremely inequitable tax code,” Aryai wrote in an email. “We only have our legislators to blame for creating this mess, where the average worker on a W-2 wage pays a higher rate than the fat cats flying to their favorite vacation spots on private planes . . . . Finally, powerful and well-funded lobbying forces maintain the status quo and keep our legislators in check to prevent corrective action.”
But it is not just the Federal tax code that was made even more favorable for the Donald Trumps of the world by the GOP 2017 re-write.
Local governments control zoning which determines what can be built and where. That, in turn, determines the potential value of the real estate. The denser and more commercial the use usually the higher the value of the land.

Nowhere are the zoning stakes higher than in New York City where international capital sees real estate investments as one of the world’s safest investments.
James Parrott, the Director of Economic and Fiscal Policies at the New School’s Center for New York City Affairs says, even as the city struggles to build affordable housing, it makes developers like Donald Trump even wealthier overnight by “up-zoning” their real estate but the public gets no cut in the action.
“in most of the re-zonings the City does it involves up-zoning that permits a denser scale of development or permits commercial where manufacturing or residential had only been permitted before,” Parrott said. “That has the potential in most cases to tremendously increase the value of that land and all of that accrues to the developers.”
He continued, “So, New York City, especially in the last 15 years has had a lot of real estate development and rezoning and the city has tremendously, through its actions, bolstered the incomes of the billionaire real estate developers . . . . and Donald Trump benefited from that when he was active in that area but he certainly was not alone.”
“Why can’t you think of a mechanism that would allow the city to capture some of that appreciation in land value?” asked Parrott. “The city has not done that of course because the real estate investors write the rules.”

To get a sense of how the gears of this oppressive mill of injustice grind contrast how we treat the millions of Americans behind in their student loans with the likes of Donald Trump.
Americans can’t escape the indenture of their student loans because they can’t discharge them through bankruptcy. But that same bankruptcy code enabled Trump to repeatedly escape the consequences of his bad business bets and behavior.
There, in a nutshell, is what’s so upside down about this country. Our system uses student debt as social control for millions who tried to invest in themselves, but it extends carte blanche to a snake oil salesman like Donald Trump who was never been given a reason to learn impulse control.

from Raw Story and Bob Hennelly at Salon

This so called “Booming economy” benefits only the rich, the rest of us are out of luck

 

Americans are not happy, and for good reason: They continue to suffer financial stress caused by decades of flat income. And every time they make the slightest peep of complaint about a system rigged against them, the rich and powerful tell them to shut up because it is all their fault.

One percenters instruct them to work harder, pull themselves up by their bootstraps and stop bellyaching. Just get a second college degree, a second skill, a second job. Just send the spouse to work, downsize, take a staycation instead of a real vacation. Or don’t take one at all, just work harder and longer and better.

The barrage of blaming has persuaded; workers believe they deserve censure. And that’s a big part of the reason they’re unhappy. If only, they think, they could work harder and longer and better, they would get ahead. They bear the shame. They don’t blame the system: the Supreme Court, the Congress, the president. And yet, it is the system, the American system, that has conspired to crush them.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, unemployment is low and the stock market is high. But skyrocketing stocks benefit only the top 10 percent of wealthy Americans who own 84 percent of stocks. And while more people are employed now than during the Great Recession, the vast majority of Americans haven’t had a real raise since 1979.

It’s bad out there for American workers. Last month, their ranking dropped for the third year running in the World Happiness Report, produced by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, a UN initiative.

These sad statistics reinforce those in a report released two years ago by two university professors. Reviewing data from the General Social Survey, administered routinely nationally, the professors found Americans’ assessment of their own happiness and family finances has, unambiguously, declined in recent years. But if Americans would just work harder, everything would be dandy, right?

No. Not right. Americans work really, really hard. A third of Americans work a side hustle, driving an Uber or selling crafts on Etsy. American workers take fewer vacation days. They get 14, but typically take only 10. The highest number of workers in five years report they don’t expect to take a vacation at all this year. And Americans work longer hours than their counterparts in other countries.

Americans labor 137 more hours per year than Japanese workers, 260 more than Brits, and 499 more than the French, according to the International Labor Organization.

And the longer hours aren’t because American workers are laggards on the job. They’re very productive. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates that the average American worker’s productivity has increased 400 percent since 1950.

If pay had kept pace with productivity, as it did in the three decades after the end of World War II, American workers would be making 400 percent more. But they’re not. Their wages have flatlined for four decades, adjusting for inflation.

That means stress. Forty percent of workers say they don’t have $400 for an unexpected expense. Twenty percent can’t pay all of their monthly bills. More than a quarter of adults skipped needed medical care last year because they couldn’t afford it. A quarter of adults have no retirement savings.

If only Americans would work harder. And longer. And better.

Despite right-wing attempts to pound that into Americans’ heads, it’s not the solution. Americans clearly are working harder and longer and better. The solution is to change the system, which is stacked against workers.

Workers are bearing on their backs tax breaks that benefited only the rich and corporations. They’re bearing overtime pay rules and minimum wage rates that haven’t been updated in more than a decade. They’re weighted down by U.S. Supreme Court decisions that hobbled unionization efforts and kneecapped workers’ rights to file class-action lawsuits. They’re struggling under U.S. Department of Labor rules defining them as independent contractors instead of staff members. They live in fear as corporations threaten to offshore their jobs—with the assistance of federal tax breaks.

Last year, the right-wing majority on the U.S. Supreme Court handed a win to corporatists trying to obliterate workers’ right to organize and collectively bargain for better wages and conditions. The court ruled that public sector workers who choose not to join unions don’t have to pay a small fee to cover the cost of services that federal law requires the unions provide to them. This bankrupts labor unions. And there’s no doubt that right-wingers are gunning for private sector unions next.

This kind of relentless attack on labor unions since 1945 has withered membership. As it shrank, wages for both union and nonunion workers did too.

Also last year, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations can deny workers access to class-action arbitration. This compels workers, whom corporations forced to sign agreements to arbitrate rather than litigate, into individual arbitration cases, for which each worker must hire his or her own lawyer. Then, just last week, the right-wing majority on the court further curtailed workers’ rights to class-action suits.

In a minority opinion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote that the court in recent years has routinely deployed the law to deny to employees and consumers “effective relief against powerful economic entities.”

No matter how hard Americans work, the right-wing majority on the Supreme Court has hobbled them in an already lopsided contest with gigantic corporations.

The administrative branch is no better. Just last week, the Trump Labor Department issued an advisory that workers for a gig-economy company are independent contractors, not employees. As a result, the workers, who clean homes after getting assignments on an app, will not qualify for federal minimum wage (low as it is) or overtime pay. Also, the corporation will not have to pay Social Security taxes for them. Though the decision was specific to one company, experts say it will affect the designation for other gig workers, such as drivers for Uber and Lyft.

Also, the Labor Department has proposed a stingy increase in the overtime pay threshold—that is, the salary amount under which corporations must pay workers time and a half for overtime. The current threshold of $23,660 has not been raised since 2004. The Obama administration had proposed doubling it to $47,476. But now, the Trump Labor Department has cut that back to $35,308. That means 8.2 million workers who would have benefited from the larger salary cap now will not be eligible for mandatory overtime pay.

It doesn’t matter how hard they work; they aren’t going to get the time-and-a-half pay they deserve.

Just like the administration and the Supreme Court, right-wingers in Congress grovel before corporations and the rich. Look at the tax break they gave one percenters in 2017. Corporations got the biggest cut in history, their rate sledgehammered down from 35 percent to 21 percent. The rich reap by far the largest benefit from those tax cuts through 2027, according to an analysis by the Tax Policy Center. And by then, 53 percent of Americans—that is, workers, not rich people—will pay more than they did in 2017 because tax breaks for workers expire.

The White House Council of Economic Advisers predicted the corporate tax cut would put an extra $4,000 in every worker’s pocket. They swore that corporations would use some of their tax cut money to hand out raises and bonuses to workers. That never happened. Workers got a measly 6 percent of corporations’ tax savings. In the first quarter after the tax cut took effect, workers on average received a big fat extra $6.21in their paychecks, for an annual total of a whopping $233. Corporations spent their tax breaks on stock buybacks, a record $1 trillion worth, raising stock prices, which put more money in the pockets of rich CEOs and shareholders.

That’s continuing this year. Workers are never going to see that $4,000.

No wonder they’re unhappy. The system is working against them.

https://www.rawstory.com/2019/05/the-untold-story-of-trumps-booming-economy/?utm_source=push_notifications

LEO GERARD, INDEPENDENT MEDIA INSTITUTE – COMMENTARY

 

Caltrans proposes spending more than 50 million so you can drive fast between Eureka and Arcata

Here’s a view of heavy summer traffic and the eucalyptus trees before the were pruned to near death

 

On May 23, 2019, CalTrans hosted a public information meeting at the Wharfinger Building about the Highway 101 Safety Corridor Project between Eureka and Arcata.

Here a list of some of the many objections and concerns expressed:

  1. Opposition to CalTrans reducing local, public participation by bringing the Humboldt project to be decided at the San Diego meeting, in June, of California Coastal Commission (CCC). Two months later, the CCC will meet in Humboldt.

 

  1. Concern the mitigation portion of the project has no costs associated with it so the public cannot comment fully.

 

  1. Concern the proposed interchange will lead to an increased speed limit on the corridor.

 

  1. Concern the adverse impacts of both during the construction and after the closure of median crossings at the Bayside, Mid-City, California Redwood Company, and Bracut areas will increase traffic on and negatively impact residents adjacent to the Old Arcata Road/Myrtle Avenue and Samoa Boulevard/Highway 255 corridors. Not to mention the businesses located on the corridor.

 

  1. Concern the “improvements” will not adequately address the safety needs of non-motorized transit (bicyclists, pedestrians, and users of wheelchairs).

 

  1. Concern: The Indianola interchange/airport road half-signal cost has escalated to 34 million dollars. Think of all the county road improvements that won’t happen because of this boondoggle.

 

  1. Concern: The Indianola overpass will induce and facilitate growth all the way to Kneeland via Freshwater and Greenwood Heights.

 

  1. Concern: No serious consideration on traffic signals on the 101 corridor were ever seriously studied just rejected out of hand because there might be a rear end collision.

 

  1. Concern: Caltrans is using this project as an excuse to achieve their long-desired goal of clear-cutting the remaining eucalyptus trees along 101.

 

Also, no serious plan for climate change/sea level rise was revealed!

 

Note: Public input received before 5/31/19 will be included in the packet submitted to the California Coastal Commission. Public input received before 06/07/19 will be included in the addendum to the packet.

 

Partly taken from a Facebook post by Ali O. Lee, Bayside

The current state of Cannabis on the northcoast as viewed by a prominent local citizen

Denver Harold Nelson is a neurosurgeon from Eureka California who has severed on many boards and commissions; he is a very active community member. Denver is a well-respected member of the community. It’s his standing and respect in the community that makes this editorial so interesting and we have to say, “pretty spot on.”

I moved to this area from Alaska over 40 years ago to practice neurosurgery. The natural beauty of this area, the exceptional opportunity for outdoor recreation and the people here made this an ideal place to raise a family. The excellent medical community needed a neurosurgeon.

I decided to invest in timberland for my retirement. My family and I enjoyed working and recreating on our timber lands. We planted thousands of trees, did pre-commercial and commercial thinning. We did not grow marijuana but I had neighbors and patients who did and educated me about marijuana. They were “back to the land” people who bought rural properties. Many of them grew marijuana for extra income; the price was $3,000 per pound, so they didn’t need to grow a lot of plants.

Some growers went to Afghanistan and other exotic areas around the world to get better strains of marijuana which they brought back to breed. The potency got much higher and Humboldt County became known for the marijuana that was grown here. The lawless off-the-grid rural areas allowed easier marijuana growth. Greed prompted many to come to this area to become part of the marijuana culture. The original mom-and-pop way of life was transformed to a lawless illegal generator of huge amounts of crime and cash. The cash trickled down to legitimate businesses and infiltrated the morals and income of most of the citizens of Humboldt County. Many students came to HSU to get the good dope.

When I was on the planning commission about 10 years ago, we received a presentation about the economic sectors of Humboldt County. Marijuana was not mentioned. By this time there were many people growing marijuana on a large scale. I pointed out that growing dope was $1 billion-a-year industry in Humboldt County but was told that since it was illegal, it was not part of Humboldt’s economic plan. The Planning Department and most Humboldt County citizens were not aware of the magnitude of marijuana production.

Marijuana has evolved from a recreational drug to a medicine. From a physician’s point of view, I was always concerned about the dose and the purity of marijuana that was produced. I suggested that HSU would be an ideal place to study these questions in a scientific manner. Unfortunately, HSU set up sociological studies of interrelationships of neighboring marijuana growers instead of studying the scientific aspects of marijuana.

Now mom-and-pop growers in the hills are second or third-generation families who wanted legalization. They got it and now are subject to the permits, bureaucracy and fees imposed by government regulators. The Water Board and Fish and Wildlife bureaucrats are busy imposing fines and chopping down marijuana plants because of the grower’s lack of permits. The County Planning Department and County Planning Commission along with the Board of Supervisors spend the majority of their time dealing with the intricacies of marijuana regulations. And, not to be outdone, four state marijuana bureaucracies have recently taken over half of the Times-Standard building.

And how are we doing? It appears to me that the marijuana- generated fees are needed to pay for the bureaucracy to collect it. Drive to Petrolia or Alderpoint and see how the roads are being improved with the marijuana proceeds. Some of my old marijuana growing friends have reverted to outlaw grows and sales because they can’t afford to grow legally.

The final straw for me was the recent publication in the Redheaded Blackbelt of the alleged scheme of Emanoel Borisov, age 28, Paul Brooks, age 34, and Evgeni Kopankovv to come to Humboldt County to steal $ 3 million in cash from Ivan Iliev at his alleged grow site. The FBI became aware of this plot when a private jet landed in Arcata with $2 million in cash which was seized by the FBI. The confusing plot is related to large marijuana grows and the foreign “agents” imported here because of the ease of growing at marijuana “farms “ that produce millions in cash. The marijuana industry has ruined our way of life. Let them be gone.

I did not come here 40 years ago to grow marijuana or amass huge volumes of cash. I came here because of the magnificent citizens and the natural beauty of the area; mountains, redwood trees, beautiful rivers filled with anadromous fish, splendid ocean and beaches and the world’s best grasslands for raising beef and dairy cattle. These attractions are still here and hopefully will remain after the departure of the criminal marijuana culture.

Denver Nelson resides in Eureka.

From the Times-Standard