Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Butte County Democrat's (and Environmentalist's) Big Mistake....

All three Democratic city council candidates that endorsed Measure B lost.

It was not much of a surprise to me that the Democrats lost the Senate. They sort of deserved to lose as they scrambled to run away from their President; one candidate from Kentucky wouldn't even admit to voting for Obama. Not that Obama is any great bastion of Progressiveness---however, there was no reason for the beating the Dems took last night. They should have flaunted health care, jobs, the debt going down and raised a platform of things to vote for that would move this country forward. They did neither. So they lost. Deservingly. Timid fearful little rodents that they are.

You have to give the people a reason to vote. The Democrats didn't do that.

Locally, the Democrats did even worse. In a county that should be purple, the Dems lost handedly. The turnout was low, only 40 percent, in a county that has 80 percent turnout in Presidential years and 60 percent in Midterm years.

In the Chico city council race that I spent the last two posts ranting about the horrid tactics of the Democrats---the three who backed the pro-Cannabis Industry lost. The Liberals lost the Chico city council. All three conservatives won. Why?

The liberal city council mishandled scads of money. There were budget problems. They did some good things, like a plastic bag ban, but for the most part, they didn't manage the city well.

And then it came down to tactics. The Chico Democrats endorsed Measure B (a cannabis ordinance written by the pot growers) which turned out to be a hugely unattractive Measure. The Conservative Chico ER, the Paradise Post, The Oroville MR, and the liberal Chico News and Review, uniting the entire political spectrum, all endorsed a No vote on Measure B. The Democrats were stupid to endorse this Measure and to take the money from the Pot Growers. Measure B lost 68% to 32%. That's 36 points. A wipeout.

Measure A, which severely limits the size of Cannabis gardens and essentially eliminates a commercial Cannabis Industry in Butte County, won 61 percent to 37 percent. It comes down to people being sick of the social and environmental costs of pot growing. Drifters galore come here for the bud and trimming jobs. They come here to get rich. They come here to get high. And they are everywhere. Every street corner has a beggar with a dog, usually a youngish male, looking for money to do god only knows what. The Democrats didn't have a solution to the problem. In fact, they endorsed what causes the problem: an of control Cannabis Industry that has no regulations and no license required to grow the stuff.

This was all part of a little noticed backlash against the Cannabis Industry in the rural areas of California. Shasta county voted to do away with outdoor grows; Nevada County voted down a Measure put forth by the pot growers to liberalize their laws; Lake County voted down two ordinances written by the Cannabis Industry. The rural people have spoken. The way we are going about this Cannabis thing is not working.

Eighteen years after legalizing medical marijuana this should have been a cake walk for the industry. They should have won the hearts and minds of rural people by now. They haven't.

California picked the wrong model. When anybody can grow commercially without getting a license to do so, the criminal element quickly moves in to make a buck. That's what we've experienced all through out rural California. Until we license the production, distribution and sale of Cannabis, we will not solve the social and ecological costs of Cannabis production.

The Foothills have spoken. The Democrats should listen.

So what should the local Democrats do now? Give back the money they received from the Cannabis Industry. Apologize to the voters for not listening to their concerns. Start talking about the social and the environmental costs of cannabis production in Butte County. But mostly, they need to get the ideas out of their heads that regulation of the Cannabis Industry is prohibition. REGULATION IS NOT PROHIBITION.

And what of the Prius driving Enviros? The Butte Environmental Council (BEC) was pathetic around the whole debate. They were too timid to engage in it. The biggest threat to Butte County's watershed and wildlife is the current method of production of cannabis. Yet they said and did nothing. I went to the BEC dinner where Joni received an award and not a word was spoken about this problem. The blinders were on. And I'm fairly certain that writing this won't make me popular with either the Enviros or the Democrats.

And so, this time around, the Conservative voter turned out to be the best Environmentalist. We should give them an award at the next BEC dinner. The Butte County Voter was the Environmentalist of the year! And the Chico Conservation Voter? They turned out to be the worst enemy of the environment.


  1. I think everyone is reeling and your comments don't surprise or distress me but they help me to understand some things better. I stayed away from educating myself on the MJ issues of the two ballot measures. I voted no on both on them because neither made sense. I didn't help with the voter turn out and didn't help any of the candidates I cared for beyond minimal checks.. Being this far outside has never been part of my life before but I've seen my share of defeats and know this crushed and anxious feeling that is out there now. I think MJ is pretty far from what is important in regards to our collective future. What I'm seeing is the whole structure toppling... but what do I know? I appreciate you Allan. Love, Chris

  2. If Allan were to do some actual research instead of pretending to be Edward Abbey (a good researcher in his own right) he would have found that BEC led the efforts to improve the grading ordinance, limit the use of exploratory wells, and increase streamside setbacks. When marijuana is legalized in two years, these code changes will still be in force, protecting Butte County’s watershed and wildlife. By then, however, I assume Allan will be off to South America to pretend his is Che Guevara on a motorcycle.

    1. I am disappointed to see this level of discourse on something we should all agree on: unnecssary destruction of the environment is not acceptable. Over the years, I have been shocked at the constant assault on the habitats in Butte County from the commercial cultivation of cannabis. I applaud the work addressing the illegal grading, and the need for wells that are appropriate. But I am also amazed at the naive way many people describe these grows. "organic" "sustainable". Yes, there are some folks who do that. But it is certainly not the bulk of the grows we find. They are destroying everything they touch for a couple of years of profit back east. They will default on the properties, just as they did in the Gillliland cases, and we will be left with hazmats, and defaults. I have seen the chemicals, the middens of garbage, the poaching of bears and deer, and the poisoning of rodents who think weed is good, or loose dirt is fun to dig. I have seen the fertilizers and the impact they have in the creeks. (what is left of them via drought and theft by pot growers) I suggest a physical tour with the SEU unit to get a reality check on what is happening. The BHO labs will be in operation up there, but hey....what's a few thousand butane cans sitting around in our foothills gonna hurt? You can see what the REAL story is. And if you have seen the real story, Mr. Stemen, and still write as you did here, you are a traitor to your movement. And your comments about Alan should be beneath you.

  3. Oh give me a break, Mark. BEC has said nothing regarding the widespread destruction of the foothills over the last six months. BEC was quoted last spring as being quite concerned about grading, but I have not heard anything mentioned about the wholesale introduction of an industry into sensitive habitat over the last five years. BEC did not join the debate around Measure A or B--if even to help voters sort out what concerns were valid and which were hyperbole. Some said the enviro claims were just a scam led by Larry Wahl. When I chatted with a BEC employee about maybe mentioning the problem of cannabis growth in the foothills in their display, she just said: "the foothills are zoned for agriculture; what can we do?" So maybe BEC got some zoning changes but they certainly have done nothing to challenge the widespread and inappropriate production of cannabis in the foothills. But BEC is going to lead a campaign to save 25 trees in Chico but has ignored the introduction of a whole new industry into sensitive habitat right at their door. I think your anger is rather telling about the inadequate response of the enviro community to the issue.

    1. See, I told you writing this wouldn't make me popular with the Democratic or
      Environmental community.

    2. Allan, Sometimes we have to look at who we consider our friends or social circle and reevaluate. It can be disappointing. But then you find out you have new ones. Stick to your truth.

  4. Allan,

    You shouldn’t believe what you don’t read on the internet. BEC works behind the scenes with staff and policy makers because we know that is where we can effect lasting changes. Like I said, in two years your A & B efforts will be voided by legalization, while the codes BEC helped improve will remain. As for the 25 trees, that was a public manifestation of two years of trench work to produce an urban forest management plan. Trees come and go, but the plan will protect the forest for thirty years.
    So you won’t hear about BEC’s real work on your digital playground. I, however, have heard plenty from you and your NSANE posse, in letters to the ER, and even more so in the comment section. I am pretty disgusted with you and your derisive generalizations and grotesque characterizations of folks in Chico. You even included one in this blog.
    There is an old proverb, “Choose your enemies carefully, for you will become like them.” You like to deride Merkel and crew, but I have bad news for you -- you have become just like them. Truly sane people had no desire to get involved in your little mean spirited holy war. Feel free to keep spreading your hate. Just realize we see it for what it is, and it is not environmentalism.


    1. Mark, you come across as an entrenched bureaucrat technically superior to all other forms of organizations. Allen’s recent blog posts describe exactly the environmental impact of commercial marijuana growers and the BC Democratic Party’s choice to endorse Measure B and the silence from an environmental group. Implying BSANE is, quote “NSANE” isn’t nice nor is it “actual research”. Butte County Safe Access not Excess is and educational site documenting ramifications of commercial marijuana growers in Butte County. Good research comes in many forms. Unfortunately, for some of us, the research is right out our front doors. Citizens once afraid to let their voices be heard took risks to write letters to the editor. Me being one of them. I’m a mom and have lived in the foothills for 20 years. It took only 3 years for the massive influx of profiteering growers to alter healthy communities and the ecosystems that surround them. Recreational legalization of marijuana in two years is another topic. In the meantime I’m proud of all the individuals that did their “good research like Edward Abbey” to protect Butte County. Having an ordinance in place to limit excess puts us ahead of the game. and BEC behind the scenes efforts are collective and good for BC.

    2. Resetting the clock on for profit marijuana growing is not hate, Mark. With 90% of the marijuana grown in Butte County being trafficked out for large profits, we were left with trying to make points on comment threads and present logical arguments about why the situation needed to be brought under control. You can categorize it anyway you like, but the truth is , you sound like Merkel. Proposition 215 was never intended to be abused in the way that many for profit growers are abusing it across the counties. Referring to our grass roots citizens group as NSANE is just the kind of thing we have become used to from for profit growers who supported Measure B. Those growers raped the foothills Mark, despite your efforts. Since you seem to simply want to engage in name calling, I don't have much else to say to you except that you represent your group poorly by your above comments.

  5. Gosh Mark, I'm not saying BEC hasn't done any good. And you could have written me a note at any time telling me what BEC was doing about the situation. I am a dues paying member. I'm sorry I don't meet your definition and CSU's definition of what an environmentalist is. Frankly, I think I was pretty brave to speak out about what is happening out here. Have you ever had a death threat Mark for your activism?

    As for legalization? Yes, I expect that to happen. My point is that unless we regulate the production, distribution and sale of cannabis, we will continue to see the environmental destruction of the cannabis grows in the wild areas of California. You can read my position here: We chose the wrong model for medical marijuana. If the Cannabis Industry writes the Initiative for 2016, I expect there will be no licensing of the production of pot. If that is the case, we can expect more rodenticides to be used and more wildlife hazing and poaching.

    The BSANE people worked hard to educate the public about an issue. They had little money. They were successful at describing a problem in our county and they came forward with a constructive solution.


  7. Mark,
    I am glad you work towards good grading practices. The photos of the hillside damage are shocking. In Nevada County they can't even grow pot on hillsides at all, and they defeated a measure S which would have allowed it.

    I have to take exception to some of your comments regarding BSANE, and about "legalization." First of all, BSANE did not write any measures. We supported YES on A and NO on B, and educated the public about the true scope of the neighborhood infestation problem, about which you and others seem to be almost willfully ignorant.You clearly have not been threatened by pot growers, had your house cased by armed thugs, had your cattle attacked by pit bulls, asthma attacks due to stinky pot,etc. Count yourself fortunate. But how about showing some consideration to the thousands who've been affected negatively?

    If you encountered a few snarky comments in the news threads from people on our side, ok, our bad. But when you have some gangster-looking "CEO at unemployed" obviously living on welfare AND trafficking pot, telling you "GTFO to Russia you commie," I guess one might snap back occasionally.

    Hate campaign? The only hate campaign I've seen is from pro-pot side. We've not wavered from calling well-documented thuggish behavior for what it is. We've consistently said medical use: fine, responsible recreational use: your business; black market trafficking" EVERYONE'S business and get out of town already.

    Like Allan said, many people have attempted to smear the messenger with labels and generalizations like: "bible thumper." I'm an agnostic, some of us are avowed atheists, and the only religious references I've ever seen in this entire debate are from pro-pot people saying (1) it's a gift from God in a worshipful voice and (2) trying to accuse us of being religious hypocrites, as a wild shot across the bow. You even used the phrase "your little mean spirited holy war."

    Calling us "pot-haters" - another false label calculated to smear us. Some of us have never touched the stuff. Many of us had our fun back in the day. Plenty of tokers voted YES on A because they get they are not blinded by ideological love for pot, and respect their neighbors and community above their selfish interests.

    Calling us "Larry Wahl's cabal" - false. As if Larry has us in tow. We reached out to him, and he responded. Larry has been consistent and outspoken in his stance. Good for him. Some have been quietly supportive. Good for them. They all signed Measure A unanimously. Yet, BSANE is "blamed" for this legislation. The pot-growers and patients who attended the BOS meetings had just as much opportunity to provide input as us.

    Finally, you again cited the mantra "When marijuana is legalized in two years..." twice as if that is a reason to not take drastic, local regulatory action now. Legalization may or may not happen, but Butte County has to protect its land and its citizens. The only effective tool they have to regulate marijuana at this time is land-use ordinance. It is really disheartening to see so many so-called adults forgive or downplay blatant felony drug trafficking occurring on such a mass scale, by citing "But it's GOING to be legal anyway..." We are supposed to be a nation of laws. Respect the ones on the books, and if you don't like them work to change them. Selectively breaking them for your convenience is...criminal. Forgiving same because you want to change the law is...disingenuous.

    And I have news for you. Even if CA legalizes it in two years as you predict, counties still have the right to enact land-use ordinances to protect their unique geography and their towns and cities. It will always remain a local issue.

  8. Chris,

    BEC never said any of those things. We do not believe in demonizing people. We focus on the acts, not the actors.

    These foothill farmers are using standard industrial agriculture practices but for many the practices only become evil when it's pot they are farming. The opposition to an even stronger grading ordinance came from the Farm Bureau who didn't want anything limiting non-pot farmers from moving all the soil they wanted, anytime they wanted. I am waiting for someone to demand the rice farmers go back to Minnesota and stop using all of our water.

    I am sorry to hear you had death threats. Environmentalists like me have been them for years. It gets real fun when they involve your kids.

    Stay safe and be well,


    1. Sir, "the foothill farmers" are NOT using standard industrial practices. They don't do chemical licensing, or follow any of the regulations required of professinal agricultural practices. And, even if so, the old ordinance said growing was to be for Butte residents, and for Butte needs. THat is not the majority of the clear cutting or destruction going on. It is for national sales and profit. So, the BEC defends that as an organization?

  9. Mark, you did refer to "When marijuana is legalized in two years" twice, with the implication it renders the Measure A moot. It has been oft-repeated as a tactic to sway people against A and for B.You're doing it too. How many people including impressionable students have you influenced this way? You have a social obligation in your position and implying we don't need to respect today's laws because they might change someday is not responsible.

  10. And Mark, in the comments above, you did call us mean spirited, labelled our actions a holy war, referred to us as a little posse, and implied we were insane. So if BEC didn't say any of those things, then you said them as yourself. Not nice.

  11. Chris,

    I responded to Allan's comments for two reasons.

    He pissed me off. He, and others in BSANE, have been making sweeping generalizations and promoting degrading stereotypes about members of our community. To quote this blog:

    "Every street corner has a beggar with a dog, usually a youngish male, looking for money to do god only knows what."

    Yeah, and every black kid on the corner is selling crack. Who says this stuff? I know those kids on those corners. I feed them every Sunday night at street church. They have nothing to do with the foothill trade. Those comments offend me and I have been offended by them for months. So, that explains (but not excuse) my tone. No, I wasn't nice. I am sorry.

    The real reason I wrote was to clear up this fiction that BEC has been indifferent to the ecological damage occurring in the foothills with large-scale grading, exploitation of "exploratory wells" and harmful run-off into the creeks. We have been engaged for years in all of those issues. It is not nice (or accurate) to say we have been "pathetic on the issue."

    We recognize that legalization is going to bring a whole host of environmental issues. The criminal element will hopefully recede, but legal grows will likely expand leading to potentially even more grading, more well drilling and more chemicals in the foothills or elsewhere. I know BEC will continue to advocate for stronger environmental regulation and we welcome the help of others in this cause.



    1. It all depends upon how cannabis is legalized in California. Both Washington and Colorado require licensed growers. They learned from California's mistake. We should leave the small grows, like Measure A---but demand commercial licensure for grows that are for sale. If BEC is taking a leadership role regarding this, you would do us all a great service. Cannabis needs to be licensed from production to distribution to the retail sale end. Just like alcohol. And that has been my point all along. The current system is not working.

  12. Mark, it sounds very much to me like you support Andrew Merkel, and you supported Measure B. You turn a deaf ear to the plight of families in Butte County, and your comments are the same type often heard from Measure B supports. Including the nastiness.