Excerpted from - this week's Town Dandy
Here in Humboldt County, bringing up the question of someone's personal finances is always awkward. But that shouldn't be the case when it comes to elected officials, or those who otherwise serve or seek to serve the public as policymakers. There are laws on the books - most notably the California Political Reform Act - that require a degree of openness. These are good laws. Locally, no one has taken more notice of them than Mark Lovelace, who as head of the Humboldt Watershed Council has filed complaints against two Humboldt County officials relating to their business interests with the Pacific Lumber Co. Planning Commissioner Chair Tom Herman and Fortuna Mayor John Campbell. The Fair Political Practices Commission has agreed to investigate both cases.
But what of Lovelace himself? How does he make a living? Now that he is standing for office the question is fair. For years there have been rumors that the non-profit organization for which he works is funded wholly or in large part by a single wealthy individual who is associated with any number of left-wing causes in Humboldt County.
Shouldn't Lovelace have to disclose that?
We won't name the individual because it turns out that the rumors in question are demonstrably false. The Humboldt Watershed Council files tax returns every year. Because it is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation those returns are public. Here's what they show.
The organization took in little money between 2000 and 2004. Donations ranged between $10,000 and $50,000 annually, with most years at the lower end of the scale. Then in 2005, it took in a massive donation, relatively speaking $121,000. The large surplus of funds allowed the Council to spend a great deal the next year, while the fight over the county general plan was raging particularly hot. The money was directed to the "Healthy Humboldt Coalition," a project of the Watershed Council, the Northcoast Environmental Center and the Sierra Club that advocates for "smart growth" style land use planning.
Where did that very large contribution come from? A call to Lovelace got the answer, and another trip to a database containing the IRS returns of nonprofit organizations confirmed it. The money was a grant from the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation, a Sacramento based charitable organization dedicated to conservation. The foundation awarded the Watershed Council $125,000 as part of its "Preserving Wild California Program" - "a five year, $150 million effort to protect wild lands and rivers across the state," according to its website.
Lovelace himself has drawn a relatively small salary from the Counci: $34,000 in 2006. "The salary would be more if the position had been fully funded, but I was paid for about three quarters of the scheduled time and probably worked time and half," he said Monday.
That supposed sugar daddy? Lovelace said he had indeed given money to the Watershed Council from time to time, just as many community members have, but the biggest part of the Council's budget has come from charitable grants.
As his economic disclosure statements to the County showed, Lovelace made a bit of money from his consulting business in 2007, but he largely gave that up in favor of advocacy work around the issues of forestry and land use planning, which "seemed so much more important and pressing."
"This is the stuff that intrigued me and sucked up my time," he said, "if I'd put more time into that consulting - there's good money when it's there, but i was drawn to other things." read the rest
M'Kay, does that answer all your questions? Not mine. But it's good reporting.
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