Saving the ancient redwoods is an honorable cause, tree-sitters engender a certain degree of grudging respect for their youthful idealism. At least in the beginning. Now, just as the hippies became the establishment they had so despised, so these guys have now become everything they once railed against. There is now corruption and deception, and powerful forces at play. And the idealistic youth became the cannon fodder.
The best way to save the redwoods is to buy the property, and control its fate. That was the beauty of the Headwaters Agreement. Though there were many compromises, there was final agreement.
Lawsuits against the timber companies are a staple story here, it seemed there was another one every other week, and no one paid much attention (including me). Everyone knew what it is about, trying to find the chink in the armor, trying to find the one little thing that can bring logging to a screeching halt.
Apparently Tim Stoen's case was a major achievement for the environmental movement because it is the first time the suit comes from within the court system, filed by the DA's office.
Gallegos' PR machine claimed the gallant young surfer had "discovered" evidence of fraud within his first couple of months in office - and filed the lawsuit because 'no one is above the law.'
Truth was, that lawsuit had been sitting in a box for years, apparently because it had been determined that there wasn't enough there - and because the very agencies needed to pursue the case were honor bound to defend PL under the terms of the Headwaters agreement. The statute of limitations was about to run out.
As the State agencies tried to explain to Stoen why his case had no merit and why they would not be helping him, they found they became the enemy. (See North Coast Journal article, the Lawsuit that never was)
During the Recall campaign, which eventually took place, e-mails were leaked from the D.A.'s office that revealed that Ken Miller, a long-standing PL critic had been in the office drafting or helping draft the suit.
The circumstances surrounding the filing of the case are interesting... Stoen launched a curious "public relations" campaign, trying to sell the merits of his case, in essence try his case in public, taking his dog-and-pony show to the Bar Association, the Rotary Clubs, the City Councils, and various small community groups... This all occurred following the announcement of his intent to file the case, but the case had actually not been filed, and it had yet even had a chance to pass demurrer.
Why was he doing this? Why was Salzman so intent on protecting this case?
When he chose to ask the Board Of Supervisors for funds to cover the costs of hiring Cotchett's Bay Area Firm to help prosecute the case, he was turned down. The media jumped to the conclusion that the Board was pressured (by Palco) to deny him. Since everyone hates Palco, the story was believable. The easy rhetoric wins the day.
But it was not true.
In fact, the pressure being exerted on the Board appeared to be coming from Stoen.
What happened to Paul Gallegos in the 9 months between when he won the election and when he took office?
Who convinced him to take up this lawsuit as his first order of business?
And why was this case such a big deal?