Saturday, October 29, 2016

An Open Letter to the Butte County Democratic Central Committee regarding Measure L

Dear Junta,

"All politics is local" goes the old expression. And nothing could be more local, or harmful, than the explosion of the Cannabis Industry in Butte County. We've been fighting about cannabis policy for the past four years, with ballot initiatives showing up four times now in as many years. Most of us are sick of it, but the Extremists in the Inland Cannabis Growers Association keep tilting at windmills, believing that just "one more vote" will persuade the voters to abandon their prior positions and take a hit of the bong.

Somehow the leaders in the Democratic Central Committee have managed to back the losing horse in these races. I forgave you for your misguided backing of the Industry's Measure B in 2014. I understand that many of us old Liberal/Leftists who live in the urban areas have a certain nostalgia for getting high. It brings us back to our youth, when we were rebels, arguing against the system as we waged peace while getting stoned prior to having to actually work to make a living.

The voters soundly rejected the Cannabis Industry's Measure B and, instead, overwhelmingly approved Measure A--which intends to end the commercial Cannabis Industry in Butte County.

Why do you think the voters did that? Because they love the Jackboot of Government on the Potsmoker's neck? Because we are all just Sheeple, who spend our time going to church, praising Jesus, while cleaning our guns and roaming about town with Trump bumper stickers on our F-150's?

Or maybe the voters don't approve of what the Cannabis Industry has done to Butte County? Maybe they care about a permissive substance abuse culture that leads to mental illness and decreased lifetime incomes for our youth? Maybe they care about our youth?

Maybe they care about our wildlife? Have you visited rural Butte County lately? Have you seen what has happened over the last decade? Save the Whales! for sure. Fight Fracking! Absolutely. But you can't let the Pot Industry divert our streams, slaughter our wildlife, and destroy habitat.

I don't think the voters care for yet another greedy industry that poisons the earth and puts our youth at risk.

Many of us in the Democratic Party expressed to you, our leaders, that we didn't like your endorsement of the Cannabis Industry. So what did you do? With no debate, you endorsed the Inland Cannabis Association's Measure L that will usher in a new age of exploitation in Butte County, if passed.

Again, this was done with no debate. And with no input from the rank and file Democrats, like me.

The No on Measure L people are easy to find. The guy who heads up the No campaign is a Democrat. BSANE, which has pointed out the excesses of the Cannabis Industry, was created by FOUR DEMOCRATS! I know. I was there. And yet, I've heard it said that BSANE endorses the militarization of the police. Rubbish. BSANE is a simple website, heroically run by a guy who has voted for Democrats his whole life.

It seems that the Central Committee has become a Junta. What is it with your love of substance abuse?  When you don't listen to anybody but the Extremists in the Inland Cannabis Farmers' Association, you have ceased to honorably represent your constituents. You have stifled debate. And your endorsement, if passed, will change the culture of rural Butte County forever.

Please, this is not about prohibition. This is about an out of control, greedy industry that you seem to love being in bed with. Shame.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Silent Summer 2016

My bird feeders are always busy. I always have Lesser Goldfinches* and House Finches at the feeder. You generally will see Titmice, Towhees and Nuthatches. In the summer, a few Black Headed Grosbeaks hang out---once I managed to catch some Evening Grosbeaks. I don't think there is a more beautiful bird around here other than the painfully beautiful Evening Grosbeaks.  In the early mornings, the Mourning Doves would feed on the ground.

In addition, there are three Squirrels who love to steal the sunflower seed that I serve the birds. They tease the dogs, an endless game between Squirrel and Canine.

For the last month, I have only seen a couple of the Black Headed Grosbeaks. Every other bird has been AWOL. In all the years I have lived here, I have always had at least Goldfinches and House Finches at the feeder. Not this year.

Why? Where have they gone?

One friend said they will disappear when it is hot. But this summer hasn't been very hot and every other year the birds were here even when the weather was scorchingly hot.

I miss them. This place isn't the same without them.

My trail camera broke, and I just got a new one. So far, nothing has wandered past its lens other than a jackrabbit.

So why the Silent Summer? Where are the birds? Where are the Squirrels?

I'm going to call Fish and Wildlife and ask them.

I have a theory though.

I am surrounded by Pot Growers. The number one problem they have been having is mites, which can consume the flowering parts of the plant, the part that gets you high, and cut the yield substantially. Most of the growers around me are kids in their 20's. My theory is that one or more of these growers have been using a miticide like Avid, which is very toxic to fish and birds. Avid is illegal to use on food crops---it is for ornamentals, but it is the "go to" miticide to deal with the mite that kills cannabis plants. If inhaled, Avid is carcinogenic. (don't put that in your pipe and smoke it).

I think one or more of the growers have been using large amounts of Avid, or something similar, on their plants and somehow it has gotten into the food chain. Hence the disappearance of Squirrels and my beloved winged friends.

* I understand it is customary to not use the upper case letter for wildlife unless there is a qualifier before it: Steller's jay as opposed to sparrows. It is my custom to always capitalize the names of wildlife: they deserve it.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016


I guess that Stellar Jay that appeared all those years ago wasn't strong enough. Note to self: Use your head while following your heart. This is gonna hurt.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

5 Days on the Trail...

The plan was to spend 12 days on the trail. Turned out to be 5. Lack of preparation, being out of shape, altitude and, for the youngster amongst us, an unstable detox from electronics.

Sonora Pass starts at 9,600 feet. Just a month ago, it was very dangerous to hike here due to the snow on the shoots. Some snow remained for us, enough to give a sense of adventure. Yes, it was a little dangerous in places.

But that's what the trail is for. Danger! Adventure! The trail is the perfect antidote for all the absurdities of modern living. All those little and major crises: job, family, failure, success, stress---all problems recede when boot hits the trail. Worried about divorce? Hard to worry too much when you are hauling a 50 pound pack up a steep trail in altitude. Out of shape I am----at times reduced on the first climb to taking ten steps, stopping, resting, taking ten steps, stopping, resting, repeating the whole process for a few  hours.

"We can always hitch to town and spend our vacation driving", my son said as he watched me heave and breathe.

"No", I said, "This is what I live for".

And I do. No matter how out of shape. Or how much suffering is being endured. Of course, the trail is best enjoyed while in good physical conditioning. Been awhile since that's been the case with me.

We had planned to do eight to nine miles the first day. We settled for five when we found a really nice camp site. A pattern began then: First I'd lie on my pack for about an hour. Then I would set up my tent, get inside, and rest. It was five pm. Time for bed.

The altitude made me nauseous. No dinner. We tried to cook up one of those dehydrated meals but it was unpalatable and we flushed it down the stream. That started a five day pattern of no appetite.

Back to my tent. About six. My 30 year old son wasn't quite used to such hours. He is a computer programmer and spends more time in the unreal cyber world then the real world. The reality of breeze and sunlight, leaves and views takes a bit getting used to when you'd spent much of the last week chasing Pokémon.

He got used to seeing the stars though, something he doesn't get to experienced in the overly urbanized world of the megacities of the East Coast.

Ah, wilderness. Home on the PCT.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Butte County June Election Post Mortem

There are still some 11,000 votes to count so the numbers might change a little. But not much. The election is history. And although the cadaver is fresh, it is still worth looking at the numbers a bit.

First off, Bernie Sanders won Butte County. Of course, that makes sense since we have a University and our population is mostly white. Bernie won white counties; he lost Hispanic and African-American counties. I learned one thing: Don't suggest that that is the reason that he lost in a North Staters for Bernie Facebook page. It looks like the youth vote, that likes rallies and hacky sack games, didn't show up as much as expected and that Bernie didn't do well with Minority groups. Plus the nomination was called for Hillary the night before.

Local Berners, predictably, said it was all a conspiracy much like Florida in 2000. One guy mentioned that perhaps it was orchestrated by the same people. Really?  There were complaints that the No Party Preference people weren't given the Democratic ballot when asked. Some said that their Mail In ballot came with the wrong party (My spouse's ballot came with the Green Party choices). One of the Bernie Delegates, who will be going to Philadelphia, vows to change her party affiliation if Bernie isn't the nominee.


Do I think there was a conspiracy against Bernie by the Establishment? No. Not for a minute.

Jim Reed, Democrat candidate for Congress, took Butte County due to a split in the Republican vote where Joe Montes ran a great challenge against Doug LaMalfa. The Republicans around here argue with each other just as much as, if not more than, the Democrats do.

The Supervisor vote went pretty much according to plan, with Steve Lambert and Bill Connelly winning easily. Doug Teeter will have to be in a run-off against Big Mo Huffman (who is a Democrat). That could change as there are 11,000 votes to count, probably a couple thousand of them from the 5th District and third place finisher, Dianna Wright is only 112 votes behind Big Mo. Teeter had two challengers to his Right and one from his Left. He should win easily in November.

The abolition of Fracking in Butte County won with 71% of the vote. This is amazing as the Republican Party was opposed to it, although Joe Montes, a serious Republican candidate challenging Doug LaMalfa, was opposed to Fracking. It is quite evident that on this vote, people didn't vote much according to party line.

Joni got the Measure on the ballot single-handedly by taking on the Oil and Gas Companies in court. When the Measure passed, she only received one phone call of gratitude.

People obviously crossed party lines to vote Yes on the Cannabis Measures G and H. Both won easily, and to win with that margin, it is obvious that many Democrats crossed over to the dark side to vote for improved regulation of Cannabis. The Cannabis Taliban said that the voters "just didn't understand what they were voting for."  I think they did.

But the Cannabis Taliban True Believers will be back in November with yet another ballot measure. This time they want regulation and licensure in order to open the Butte County Wild Lands to more excessive pot grows. It is an ambitious ordinance that doesn't have a chance. Why? Because the majority in Butte County do not want a Commercial Cannabis Industry in our county. It is that simple.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

My Endorsements for the June 7 election:

1st District Supervisor: William Connelly.

It isn't so much that the careerist Connelly is good but, really, it is about just how bad his opponents are. Both Ron Stoker and Mark Warner give the impression that they have never set foot outside of Oroville. They both are uninformed and hopelessly naïve.
4th District Supervisor: Steve Lambert.

Mr. Lambert has been a leader on both the fracking issue and on the regulation of cannabis. He deserves re-election for his leadership.

5th District: Doug Teeter.

Doug can be a bit timid and tends to swerve towards the middle of the road. He avoids controversy and his recent conversion to the Republican Party doesn't help his reputation as being a non-partisan Independent. He should have remained an Independent. Yet Teeter has been a leader for the environmental protection of the rural areas of Butte County. Big Mo Huffman is running as a Democrat, and it would be nice to see a Democrat on the board. Unfortunately, Big Mo doesn't present a good enough of an argument as to why Teeter should be replaced. The same can be said for Dianna Wright and D.H. Grumbles.

4th District Assemblyman: Ed Ritchie.

Gallagher is just too much of the same lackluster leadership heading to Sacramento. This rural area could use a Democrat to voice our concerns.

1st District Assembly: Brian Dahle.

There is a reason why Dahle has no opposition: he is a well studied, and fair Assemblyman. Yes, he is wrong on more than a few issues, especially SB277, but on the whole, he expresses the needs of the 1st District better than anyone in recent memory.

Congress: Jim Reed.

Jim Reed is a bit of an oddball. But so is LaMalfa. Montes is putting forth a valiant effort against LaMalfa and we hope that he is successful in beating him. A third place finish for LaMalfa would be a fitting end for this Welfare Rancher.

Senate: Steve Stokes.

Steve endorsed Bernie Sanders. We need someone outside the Democratic Party establishment and a Progressive, to take Barbara Boxer's seat.

President: Bernie Sanders. 

We will support Hillary Clinton when she is chosen. But Bernie has established the Left Wing of the Democratic Party to be a real force for good. Hopefully, the Democratic Party will endorse his agenda in the coming years. Donald Trump is an unstable, dangerous person with nationalistic views that are frightening in its racism and xenophobia.

Measure E: Yes.

We need a fracking ban if, for anything, to be a precendent for the other counties in California and the nation. Butte county loves renewables, as you can tell by all the solar panels going up everywhere.

Measure G: Yes.

Cannabis is not an established crop. And the current Cannabis Industry is irresponsible and rude to neighbors, wildlife and the earth. We need to be able to complain about the negative sides of cannabis production.

Measure H: Yes.

The timely collection of fines will deter commercial production of cannabis in Butte County. We are all sick of the stench, the pit bulls, the substance abuse non-culture, and the real threat that cannabis abuse poses to our youth through the mental health effects (everything from amotivation to anxiety, to depression, to schizophrenia). Please vote Yes.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Some Notes on the June 7 Butte County Primary Election...Montes and Teeter

Joe Montes
                                                                     Doug Teeter

This primary election season has been much more interesting than normal here in Butte County, California. It should be noted that Democratic registration is way up. In fact, about 1,000 more mail-in ballots have been sent to Butte County Democrats than Republicans. Despite the hoopla regarding Donald Trump supposedly bringing in more Republican voters, so far it seems that Bernie Sanders has had more of an impact in Butte County.

The last time Butte County went blue was in 2008, which was a very special year. Might we see a repeat in November?

And there have been way more letters-to-the-editor in favor of Joe Montes over Doug LaMalfa. Democrat Jim Reed has been absent from the Opinion pages. Despite that, the increased registration of Democratic voters should assure Jim Reed a slot in the November election. Might Joe Montes be the new challenger? Or maybe we will all be surprised and it will be a Montes versus LaMalfa runoff in November. Stay tuned.

Neither the Chico ER nor the Paradise Post have made an endorsement. The CNR predictably endorsed Reed. This is a race that most of us thought would be pretty boring that has turned out to furnish some excitement, complete with the usual dirty tricks by LaMalfa.

The Republican Party seems split on the matter. Republican Chair, Mike Zuccollillo sent out a mailer where he endorsed Montes over LaMalfa. He also complained regarding the use of mailers by LaMalfa which implied that the Butte County Republican Party had endorsed him. This is all very interesting.

The other race that is interesting in Butte County is the 5th Supervisor District. The Incumbent, Doug Teeter, read the tea leaves and registered as a Republican. He used to be an Independent and, in fact, got the endorsement from the Paradise Democratic Club back in 2012. This year he has a couple of Republican challengers, the most aggressive from Dianna Wright who is a prolific letter writer and Republican Gadfly. The problem is that Dianna Wright might split the Republican vote that Teeter so desperately seeks, throwing the election to Big Mo Huffman.

Huffman is running as a Democrat and the Dems have actually done some work this year. They have opened an office in Paradise and they have been reinvigorated by a couple of rowdy locals. With the increased voter Registration of the Dems (almost even in Paradise in mail-in vote ballots sent), the BERNIE effect, along with Dianna Wright splitting the Republican Teeter vote, just might make Big MO' Huffman's election possible.

Of course, Doug Teeter has been a good supervisor. He has done his homework and he is especially interested in protecting (and providing access to) Butte County's wild lands. Losing Teeter would be a shame because he deserves re-election. He should have stuck it out as an Independent and given up aligning himself with Doug LaMalfa in a mailer.