Monday, November 16, 2009

Show us where the money comes from...

Paykeeper Pete Nichols knows how to use free media to spread his lies message. During Gallegos' election, he and his wife put out the meme that Humboldt County's CAST team was just like big city Los Angeles' team. Remember the letters and quotes of the lovely, missing in action Kay Rackauckus? His willingness to twist the truth there ought to tell you everything you need to know about the man. But he uses free My Word's, free airtime on radio stations to spread his propaganda. He uses it to paint a nice benevolent facade for his predatory litigious org. It works in other areas.

More and more, as scrutiny is applied to him and his activities, the truth is coming out. Today's response to Sneaky Pete's My Word is very interesting...

Humboldt Baykeeper should come clean about the Marina Center
For many years, Humboldt Baykeeper has been saying that the Balloon Track should be cleaned up. But now that the cleanup is about to happen, Baykeeper is demanding that the Balloon Track should not be cleaned up until more unspecified work is done at some unspecified time in the future. Why has Baykeeper suddenly changed its tune?

Last week in this column, Baykeeper wrote that it wanted to “clear the air” about its opposition to the cleanup. We think that's a step in the right direction, but Baykeeper has not gone far enough.

Baykeeper may have given the impression that it opposes the cleanup because of the goodness of its heart, but Internal Revenue Service records show that some unidentified people have paid Humboldt Baykeeper nearly $2 million over the past few years, and that Baykeeper has paid lawyers and experts hundreds of thousands of dollars. This big money did not come from member dues, which in 2008 were only $16,000 -- not enough to pay even the salary of Pete Nichols.

Humboldt Baykeeper and its parent organization, known as Ecological Rights Foundation, should come clean. The public is entitled to know who is paying for Baykeeper's fight, and whether those people just happen to be wealthy businesses who don't want any competition from the Marina Center.

Baykeeper argues that “Security National is attempting to slip through a sham cleanup.” But when Baykeeper is pressed about what is wrong with the cleanup, the group has only vague responses.

The main objection, according to Baykeeper, is that the property has not been “fully characterized.” But the proposed cleanup is an interim cleanup, which is a cleanup done before all relevant data has been collected and before decisions have been made on final cleanup plans. Interim cleanups are performed when there is an obvious issue that can be resolved without waiting until the end of a long process. Here, dioxin has been found in ditch sediments. CUE VI will have those ditch sediments excavated, removed from the property, and properly disposed of. How can anyone object to that?

Someone may wonder how CUE VI knows when to stop digging. In this kind of excavation, the contractor starts by digging out a reasonable amount. In this case, the initial excavation areas were identified in the consultant's proposal to the Regional Water Quality Control Board, and were approved.

When the initial excavation is complete, the consultant takes samples from the excavated area, has those analyzed by a laboratory, and submits the results to the Regional Board for discussion on whether more dirt should be excavated. The excavation is complete only when the confirmation samples are satisfactory to the Regional Board.

Baykeeper sometimes takes credit for the cleanup of the Simpson Mill site at the foot of Del Norte Street. That site was used for penta treatment, and penta contains dioxin. The levels of dioxin at that site were many, many thousands of times higher than those at the Balloon Track, which was never used for penta treatment.

Baykeeper likes to talk about how many samples were taken at the Simpson site. But it does not talk about the levels of dioxin at the two sites. At the Balloon Track, CUE VI will be excavating soils with relatively low levels of dioxin. At the Simpson site, soils containing higher levels of dioxins will be capped and left in place with Baykeeper's blessing.

In the end, what counts is the quality of the cleanup. The cleanup of the Balloon Track goes beyond what is required by regulatory agencies and what has been accomplished at other sites.

If the cleanup plan is so bad, why hasn't Baykeeper brought in one of its experts to explain what is wrong with it? Baykeeper has hired many experts for the Balloon Track litigation. Not one of these experts has appeared before the City Council, and not one of these experts submitted any report about the cleanup to the Regional Board. This lack of technical expertise may explain why Baykeeper's arguments are so vague.

Baykeeper had an opportunity to convince the Regional Board that the cleanup was inadequate, but the only technical objections Baykeeper made to the proposed cleanup were in a letter from Baykeeper's lawyer.

Not surprisingly, the Regional Board was not persuaded by any of Baykeeper's objections. In mid-October, the Regional Board concluded that the cleanup should be implemented as proposed.

Humboldt Baykeeper should therefore come clean about what is really going on. Like anyone else, it is entitled to have its opinion about whether the Marina Center is good for the community. But if it is opposing cleanup because opponents of the Marina Center will do anything to delay that project, and if Baykeeper is receiving large amounts of money from project opponents, Baykeeper should not be hiding that information. The public has a right to know.

Randy Gans is a vice president of Security National Properties.

The implication that Pierson is also helping fund "Paykeeper" is certainly there. Wonder if it is merely a donation, or if there is a contractual arrangement. 'Bout time we did find out.

Gans throws down on Nichols in today’s Times-Standard The Mirror

$16,000 in member donations sure doesn't pay for the fancy boat (Boston Whaler), the nice Old Town storefront office, the line of T-shirts, the nice signage, and all the concerts and fundraisers, much less Sneaky-Pete's salary, at least one attorney on staff, the scientific tests, and all that.

While legitimate business people in Old Town struggle to afford the rent, these bloodsucking incestuous activist groups rake in the big bucks.

Sneaky Paykeeper Pete's My Word: ◼ Clearing the air
It is time to clear the air of the confusion around the environmental community's apparent lack of desire to see Eureka's Balloon Track property cleaned up. Let me be clear, Humboldt Baykeeper, and other environmental groups, want nothing more than to have the Balloon Track cleaned up to the fullest extent for the health of our bay and community. Period. In fact, Humboldt Baykeeper has worked longer and put more time into getting that property truly cleaned up than anyone else.

At the heart of the issue is the Supplemental Remedial Action Plan (SIRAP) put forth by Security National (CUE VI) -- a plan which will not accomplish the goal of clean-up of the Balloon Track. Security National is attempting to slip through a sham cleanup for the Balloon Track, skirting applicable environmental laws, such as the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the California Coastal Act, and the city of Eureka appears to be assisting them in this attempt. It is highly unlikely that these actions will pass muster with the California Coastal Commission, which will be the next governmental body to weigh in on this matter.

The city of Eureka has had many opportunities over the past 20 years to take on Union Pacific over the contamination at the Balloon Track, but the city never had the intestinal fortitude to follow through with any action. Nearly four years ago, Humboldt Baykeeper alone stood-up and took on Union Pacific with a lawsuit, enforcing federal environmental laws, to force them to clean-up the Balloon Track so it could be redeveloped and utilized by the community as it is zoned, for “public use.”

Security National has since purchased the property, inheriting the lawsuit along with it, and now has essentially legally and financially shielded Union Pacific from any liability for clean-up. It is important to note that the decision to purchase this property was made knowing full well that the property is contaminated, and Security National is now a responsible party for the cleanup. Humboldt Baykeeper has every intention of holding Security National, as well as Union Pacific, responsible for a full characterization and clean-up of the property.

It has always been the contention of Humboldt Baykeeper that Security National can build whatever they like on the Balloon Track site as long it is fully characterized and cleaned up, and as long as they comply with all provisions of the law. What Security National cannot do is sidestep the law and public process to ram through piecemeal actions on their way to an inadequate cleanup in an effort to achieve their end goal.

The greenwashing of their project with pleas to “just let us get started” to cleanup the property is a transparent tactic. Humboldt Baykeeper has been asking Security National to do just that for years and we would step aside tomorrow if Security National would really do the right thing for the environment: fully characterize and cleanup the Balloon Track. It is truly that easy.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a cloud of influence that hangs darkly over the city of Eureka. I find it disturbing that the city has agreed to a generous “indemnification” agreement with Security National for any legal liability regarding the Marina Center project. This essentially hands the keys to the city of Eureka over to Security National regarding all things Marina Center.

This is unfortunate. The city of Eureka as lead agency for this project is charged by state law with requiring that environmental review of the project meets all of the requirements of CEQA. If Councilman Leonard, and others, truly believes that the FEIR they certified to under CEQA is one of the best he has ever seen, then why not be bold enough to defend it? Isn't that why they are elected in the first place?

Instead, Mr. Leonard and the council voted to certify what they know is an inadequate FEIR and then pleaded with environmental groups to “cease fire” on lawsuits for six months. If Mr. Leonard had as much of a grasp on CEQA as he proclaims, he would know that an individual or organization has only 30 days to legally challenge a project under CEQA.

If the City Council truly wanted a 6-month cease fire, they should have recirculated the FEIR and repaired the major flaws in the document as was repeatedly recommended by Baykeeper and others. The city had plenty of time to consider the ramifications of their action and will most certainly be informed by the courts that their environmental review of the Marina Center is woefully inadequate and incomplete.

Humboldt Baykeeper will continue to demand full characterization and cleanup of the Balloon Track. We have every intention of completing what we started four years ago for the health of the bay and the community. I am more than happy to talk with anyone about our actions and Humboldt Baykeeper's work to cleanup the property. I can be reached at 268-0664.
Pete Nichols is the executive director of Baykeeper.


  1. How do you feel about the lawsuits against the county brought on by Humboldt Economic Land Plan and Humboldt Sunshine?

  2. I am ok with them. They seem well based. Not every lawsuit is bad, but there is a shit load of difference between a lawsuit mill like paykeeper and individual suits based upon violations of individuals rights.

    I know you can't see the difference, so I won't beat a dead horse about it.

  3. What about you Rose?

  4. Rose loves any lawsuit that follows the local conservative agenda

  5. Rose said...
    I've told you a hundred times before. I am not a fan of lawsuits.

    I do think there is a difference between the initial "Surfrider" suit in Humboldt County, where the guy actually was dealing with a real issue, and it shouldn't have taken a lawsuit to get action on that one. Patty Cleary had some good points in the beginning.

    But once a person like Patty Cleary gets hooked up with the predatory lawsuit factory, something changes.

    There were once good people in the environmental movement. Not these new age liars and con men, the predatory litigious orgs.


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