Friday, 27 January 2023

Opinion



YREKA, Calif. — The assumption that the 1971 Free Roaming Wild Horse and Burro Protection Act is protecting American wild horses today is incorrect.

It's a fact that over the past 50+ years since the 1971 Act was passed, socioeconomic impacts on land management policies driven by consumerism have resulted in the highly-flawed, inhumane management of wild horses witnessed today.

Like flies to any dying or dead animal, the ineffective and failing wild horse management program was quickly surrounded by money-motivated people and wild horse nonprofit organizations who proffer numerous costly Band-Aids, which arguably benefit them far more than the wild horses.

Instead of learning from mistakes and implementing a genuine management solution that is most beneficial for wild horses, the Band-Aids that are promoted are highly flawed and conflict with the highest and best interests of the so-called 'protected' wild horses.

Core flaw in wild horse management today

The core flaw in wild horse management program today is that managers are keeping wild horses in areas commingled with livestock, where for the past 200-years, apex predators have been eliminated with great prejudice to reduce losses of livestock.

During the 1800s many wild horses were dislocated from their natural habitats and into other regions via livestock traders.

When the 1971 Act was passed, many areas that had been used for livestock production for two centuries and largely devoid of apex predators became Herd Areas and Herd Management Areas, or HMAs.

The result is that the wild horses contained in these now HMAs are virtually living in the absence of their co-evolved natural predators, which over the millenniums had regulated wild horse populations and engaged in a process known as “natural selection” that preserved the genetic vigor of the species.

The result is that wild horse populations go unchecked and their genetics suffer from a lack of natural selection, both of which are bad for the sustainable conservation of wild horses.

It's critical to understand that the process of Natural Selection works perfectly and weeds-out weak genetics. Natural selection works on many levels. For instance, having a large selection (diverse genetic representation) of bachelor stallions competing for breeding rights helps assure that the best genetics are represented in the competition and then carried forward by the champion who becomes a band stallion.

There is also a recently discovered more subtle form of competition representing another facet of Natural Selection, which occurs within harems (mares) of family bands for the position of 'lead mare'.

During 8-years living-among and studying free roaming wild horses in an ecologically balanced wilderness, I’ve discovered and recorded that the offspring of a lead mare has a survival advantage over the offspring of lesser mares in the band harem. This is because the band stallion and harem will stick with the lead mare, and the lead mare will wait as long as it takes for her new foal to gain its strength to travel with the band.

On the other hand, an omega mare who has a new foal that requires time to stand and be ready to travel with the family band may be faced with a difficult decision. If the lead mare moves the band before the omega mare's foal is ready to travel, the omega mare will have to decide to stay behind with her foal, or abandon the foal and leave with the band. Either way, the omega mare's foal has a lower rate of survival without the protection of the band and its stallion.

Examining flawed Band-Aids being applied to failed management

1) Roundups and subsequent warehousing of captured wild horses into off-range feedlots are argued as one manner of managing wild horse populations in areas devoid of apex predators. These methods are very costly (>$150-M/year) for taxpayers (lots of personnel, equipment, aircraft, feeding horses hay, etc.), and they are brutal, inhumane and ecologically inappropriate given that such actions do not correct the core problem.

Roundups also result in ecological damage to landscapes due to stampedes, where dozens of wild horses running for their very lives from helicopters trample the landscape, injuring and killing some flora and fauna. During helicopter roundups, wild horses are run for miles and beyond their natural ability, adversely impacting the health of horses. Pregnant mares spontaneously abort foals on-the-run, and new foals run their soft new hoofs off and go lame and fall behind, ending up being eaten alive by coyotes; and,

2) So called 'contraception' (costing tens of $-millions annually) is a nice sounding term for what is actually 'chemical sterilization' of mares using chemicals commonly known as “PZP” and “GonaCon,” along with the castration of stallions. PZP and Gonacon are known to adversely impact the social structure and hierarchy of the harem, where lead mares that sterilized can lose their status in the band,

One program known as “Veterans For Mustangs” and the bill by the same name (H.R.7631 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) proposes to have military veterans using high-powered gas-operated rifles to shoot heavy darts/projectiles containing chemical sterilization compounds into wild horses, making a complete mockery of the intent of the 1971 Act, by stalking and shooting wild horses (aka: harassment), making American wild horses into a carnival shooting gallery.

The wild horse nonprofit known as American Wild Horse Campaign also engages in this ludicrous and dangerous activity. Studies show horses shot in this manner can suffer from bleeding, hematoma, broken bones,and death.

“Fertility control in free‐roaming wildlife populations has been associated with changes in immigration (Ramsey 2005; Merrill, Cooch & Curtis 2006), decreased group fidelity (Nuñez et al. 2009; Madosky et al. 2010), increased survival (Caughley, Pech & Grice 1992; Kirkpatrick & Turner 2007; Williams et al. 2007), altered reproductive behavior (Nuñez, Adelman & Rubenstein 2010; Ransom, Cade & Hobbs 2010) and shifted phenology (Ransom, Hobbs & Bruemmer 2013)” ~ Ecological feedbacks can reduce population‐level efficacy of wildlife fertility control.

The use of chemicals to control wild horse populations (wildlife) disintermediates evolutionary Natural Selection and leads to genetic erosion and social disruptions in wild horses (equids). Furthermore, using chemicals (PZP & GonaCon) is 'Selective Breeding' and leads to genetic decline.

In addition to the social breakdown of family bands, genetic erosion and selective breeding that are all part of using PZP on free-roaming native species American wild horses, we also find evidence of the following:

"Even on a large animal struck correctly, the dart (contraceptive PZP and GonaCon darts) can cause hemorrhage and hematoma. Misplaced shots can break bones or even kill the animal” (Thomas and Marburger 1964).

Muzzle report can cause problems in darting either captive or free-ranging animals. In captive situations, the noise can be more disturbing to animals than getting struck with a dart. Disturbed animals are then more difficult to approach, or the entire group of animals may run away.

3) Farming-out wild horses at taxpayer expense as so-called adoptable or trainable horses, also costs American taxpayers, since the BLM pays $1,000 for each horse adopted.

As most wild horse advocates know, the 1971 act was passed to ostensibly protect wild horses. Yet few parts of the 1971 Act are being observed and followed by the Bureau of Land Management today.

Even the core intentions of the 1971 Act that are cited in its preamble are disrespected and ignored in the management of wild horses today by the very agency charged with protecting wild horses, the BLM. This is clearly the result of political pressures brought to bear on law and policymakers by the trillion-dollar corporations who provide campaign donations to politicians on both-sides of the aisle.

The key sentence in the preamble to the 1971 Act states:

"It is the policy of Congress that wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding harassment, or death …"

The reality of life for wild horses in America today under the 1971 Act is quite different from what any outsider looking in would believe having read the 1971 Act.

The reality today, over 50 years since the passing of the 1971 Act, is that the BLM does everything to wild horses that was originally prohibited under the 1971 Act.

The BLM regularly and aggressively captures, brands and separates family members from each other, where stallions, mares and juveniles are sent into separate holding corrals even as family members scream for each other, causing tremendous emotional hardship for wild horse families. After segregating horses by sex and age, they are genetically molested where stallions are castrated and mares are chemically sterilized. This inhumanity transcends the prohibited 'harassment' cited in the 1971 Act.


Naturalist William E. Simpson II is greeted by a wild mountain stallion in the Soda Mountain Wilderness area. Courtesy image.

It's a horrifically brutal and inhumane scene that is repeated annually dozens of times each year in America over the past 40-years.

The protests of wild horse advocates and wild horse nonprofits, in court and in the media, have yielded no change in the behavior of the BLM.

That's simply because the public servants at Government agencies are like soldiers carrying-out the orders that are handed down from their superiors, who are essentially controlled by elected politicians who in turn are arguably beholden and influenced by campaign contributions from huge corporations.

A very simple example of the foregoing is relevant to the current SAFE ACT (H.R. 3355) that is languishing in the U.S. Senate.

The lawyers who drafted the Safe Act made sure there was a loophole for a major corporation (Nestle) who owns the second largest pet food company in Mexico Purina (conveniently located just-over the U.S. border in Mexico). In order to remain profitable, Purina requires a constant source of horse meat from America and elsewhere.

A review of the last draft of the SAFE Act showed that shipments of American horses for “human consumption” outside the U.S. would be prohibited if the SAFE ACT passed. However, there is an arguable loophole; shipments of American horses for “animal products” is not cited as being prohibited in the draft bill.

Since the installment of Deb Haaland as the head of the Department of Interior ('DOI'), which oversees the BLM, the brutal process of rounding-up wild horse families in holocaust fashion has increased.

Wild Horses captured by the BLM and the United States Forest Service ('USFS') are then genetically molested where stallions are castrated and mares are sterilized using chemicals commonly known as PZP and Gonacon. These chemicals are known 'genetic poisons' and end the natural life-cycles and genetic lines of wild horses.

No DNA (genetic) testing is performed by the BLM or USFS prior to ending gene-lines of processed wild horses using castration or chemical sterilization.

This practice is a form of selective breeding and as science proves, ensures a loss of genetic diversity, resulting in genetic decline in wild horse herds, and ultimately lead to bottlenecking and possible extinction of wild horse gene-lines, which contain the most robust equine genetics.

At some point soon, domestic horse breeders will need to breed-back to these robust genetic lines to reinvigorate domestic horse breeds, many of which are suffering from congenital defects and genetic diseases related to inbreeding over centuries.

Following this initial horror show, wild horses are then processed for allocation into so-called programs that are extremely costly to American taxpayers, and further punish wild horses emotionally.

The BLM sells its Adoption Incentive Program, or AIP, as a success and solution for getting rid of wild horses they have rounded up. However, combination of the AIP and other wild horse processing programs (prisoner programs, etc.) only places a small percentage of all the wild horses (about 5-7%) rounded-up into the hands of adopters or trainers who are paid $1,000 (tax-dollars) by the BLM for each horse adopted.

Wild horses that are funneled into adoption and training programs are wild sentient beings, few of which will submit to any training program.

Wild horses adopted are made to submit to the demands of human trainers. Surprisingly, so-called horse 'trainers' fail to understand the wild nature and spirit of wild horses, as opposed to domestic horse breeds, which have been bred for the past 6,000 to serve the utility of humankind and are well-suited to training. This failure by people and trainers to understand wild horses and their behavioral ecology leads to a majority of wild horses placed in programs resisting training and ending-up at slaughter auctions for meat in the pet food industry, a horrific ending for innocent wild horses.

The big question: Is there a better solution to the current wild horse management debacle?

Answer: Absolutely!

There is a plan that provides a more humane, natural and cost-effective management paradigm for wild horses.

That plan is called the “Natural Wildfire Abatement and Forest Protection Plan,” also known as the “Wild Horse Fire Brigade.”

Wild Horse Fire Brigade is a cost-effective solution for humanely managing wild horses naturally without keeping them on degraded ecologically collapsed landscapes that are being intensively used for commercial enterprises, including oil, gas, mineral and livestock production.

Keeping wild horses in areas where they are deemed to be in conflict with the interests of $Trillion/year corporations guarantees that wild horses will remain in a constant state of conflict with consumer-driven demands for public land use, resulting in the highly flawed and costly management concepts previously cited.

What many people (including some wild horse advocates) fail to realize is that there are 115-million acres of designated critical wilderness where motorized vehicles and livestock production are prohibited due to law, and costly logistics.

Using just 20-million acres of this vast water and forage-rich wilderness area, up to 100,000 wild horses could be redistributed (rewilded/relocated) as family bands, at the rate of 1-horse per 200-acres; away from conflicts, ending the plight of wild horses.

This plan provides wild horses with habitat that is consistent with what they had enjoyed prior to the arrival of the Europeans in North America. Wild horses are completely at-home in the deep wilderness and have survived in such habitats for 1.7-million years in North America.

And via reestablishing wild horses into economically and ecologically appropriate wilderness areas, these keystone herbivores can once again rebalance ecosystems, and manage the now overabundant grass and brush wildfire fuels. This natural symbiotic wildfire grazing reduces fuel loading and results in normalizing the wildfire regime, devolving super-fueled superhot catastrophic wildfires back into the normal wildfire expected on the landscape that burns low, slow and cooler as a result of less fuel. This in turn saves forests, wildlife and watersheds from catastrophically hot wildfires.

LEARN MORE:

More about the many benefits of the Wild Horse Fire Brigade plan here:
https://www.wildhorsefirebrigade.org/_files/ugd/b50928_b546b19ef08441349993b0d3fd8111eb.pdf

ReWilding Europe's wildfire-focused journal 'GrazeLIFE' published an abstract of the Study that supports the Wild Horse Fire Brigade plan online at:
https://grazelife.com/blog/wild-horse-fire-brigade-lessons-in-rebalancing-north-american-ecosystems-by-rewilding-equids/

NPR national radio has also published a story (with audio) online at:
https://www.npr.org/2022/10/30/1131042723/preventing-wildfire-with-the-wild-horse-fire-brigade

Rewilding and relocating wild horses into economically and ecologically appropriate wilderness areas reduces the frequency, size and intensity of wildfires at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFrLJ2vashU

William E. Simpson II is an ethologist living among and studying free-roaming native species American wild horses. He is the award-winning producer of the micro-documentary film “Wild Horses.” He is the author of a new study about the behavioral ecology of wild horses, two published books and more than 150 published articles on subjects related to wild horses, wildlife, wildfire and public land (forest) management.

Winter is a time for slowing down. We have moved from fall, of leaves falling and releasing and letting go, to receive the time of winter, the most Yin time of year. A time of rest, stillness, and replenishment. It is the time for the seed underground, storing up and conserving energy, growing strong roots that will support our growth in the coming spring.

Each winter is a time of replenishment, to restore our resources and potential energy. We restore our trust in ourselves, our deepest wisdom, that uplifts us to realize anything is possible if we simply follow our true nature.

This winter how will you acknowledge this essential season? How will you replenish yourself?

In Chinese Medicine the winter season is the water element.

Water is about our ability to flow and overcome obstacles. To understand the attributes of water in ourselves we can think of the many ways water presents itself in nature. Think about how our energy can resemble a mighty river or a trickling stream, the waves of the ocean, a frozen lake, or a gentle rain.

Water is transformative. When we take the time to be quiet and internal, and “be,” we allow an internal transformative process to occur. As the most yin of all the seasons and the elements, it is a time for stepping back from our relationships to the outside world and instead, turn inward, to reconnect with ourselves.

Each element has its own gifts in body, mind and spirit.

The body/physical gift of water element is rest, solitude, re-balancing, and replenishment. When we have enough reserves, we have enough strength, drive and ambition. We manage our physical energy by not overdoing it or we can become tired and exhausted.

The mind/emotional gift of water is courage, faith, trust, and the renewed sense of our essence and the 'blueprint' for our lives. What happens if we become out of balance? We can feel anxiety, fear, and stress from not being able to live our fullest lives.

The spirit gift of water is the will, to persevere and adapt, to nurture our intuition, tap into our creative, internal energy, to manifest who we are. The water element grants us the capacity to more deeply discover the essence of our true self, and to grow ‘roots’ that anchor us in who we are.

Keys to staying balanced in the winter season.

Allow yourself to be quiet and listen to your deepest self-essence.

Stay warm, reduce outward activity to conserve energy in the colder, darker months.

Take a quiet walk outside in the fresh air, listen to relaxing music, read books or listen to books on tape.

Take time for extra self-care: get a massage, take a soothing bath, or a hot foot soak. Get an acupuncture treatment to stay balanced!

The winter season is an especially good time to discover more about yourself through reflection, paying attention to your dreams, and begin the practice of meditation.

Do more moderate exercise like Chi Gong, Tai Chi, Yoga and Pilates.

Daily vitamins can help to keep your immune system strong: try taking multi- vitamins and multi-minerals, B vitamins, Vitamin C, and Vitamin D.

Drink lots of warm herbal teas, like chamomile, ginger tea, Bengal Spice, and Good Earth tea. Eat warm foods, like soups, plenty of steamed vegetables, and complex carbohydrates.Have meals with whole grains, squashes, beans, peas, and dark leafy greens like swiss chard, kale, and bok choy.

Avoid too many cold foods and drinks. Although it is hard over the holidays, try to have less sugar and dairy, as they can deplete your immune system.

Drink plenty of good quality water. Drink half your body weight in ounces. For instance, if you weigh 150 lbs, you need to drink a minimum of 75 ounces of water per day.

Stay warm, cover the back of your neck to protect against the cold wind, as energetically this can cause colds and flus. Also cover your low back area, to protect your kidneys, and your reserves of energy.

This is the wisdom of water: the effortless response to its environment, adapting to change, yielding yet persevering, the courage to stay the course, and staying rooted to one’s essence.

Find the quiet contentment that comes with resting and waiting in the hibernation as you replenish your reserves.

Spring always follows winter. We don’t know what that will look like, yet if we have followed nature’s way and allowed ourselves to be immersed in Winter’s gift of rest and replenishment, we will emerge in Spring with replenished energy, more vibrant, rooted with a clear vision, and a deeper sense of how we want to manifest our life.

Wendy Weiss has been practicing Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine for thirty years. She can be reached for more information on Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine at 707-277-0891.

I would like to bring to the community’s attention a current large-scale cannabis processing permit application up for review with the Lake County Planning Department and expected to go to the Lake County Planning Commission later this month.

The UP 21-29 Adobe Creek Processing Facility, owned by 2CW Productions Inc., is seeking approval for a commercial cannabis processing operation located at 4820 Loasa Road, Kelseyville CA on APN 008-038-50.

The proposed operation would utilize the properties existing facilities along with 10 modular frozen harvest storage units totaling a whopping 124,279 square foot commercial cannabis processing compound.

This facility will be 495 feet from the property line shared with the Kelseyville Unified School District where classroom instruction to our community day school students occurs.

This facility will be 495 feet from the property line shared with the Kelseyville Unified School District where baseball, softball, basketball, tennis and racquet ball fields/courts exist.

This facility will be 495 feet from where any given day you will find children and adults playing, practicing, exercising and congregating.

This facility will be 495 feet from the property line shared where Pop Warner youth football and cheerleading practices occur.

This facility will be 495 feet from the property line where Kelseyville Unified hosts high school baseball games and tennis matches.

This facility will be 495 feet away from where Kelseyville Little League hosts softball games and baseball games.

This facility will be 528 feet away from the American Legion Hall where community members host barbecues, weddings, baby showers, dances and celebrations of all sorts.

This facility will be 26 feet (directly across the street ) from a large residential area where Gaddy Ln., Connie Ln, Gunn St., Willow Ave, Park Ave, Hobbs St. and 2ndSt are all located.

This facility will be 26 feet (directly across the street) from Kelseyville's First Baptist Church.

This facility will be 1,584 feet away from Main Street, Kelseyville.

If you are wondering how far 495 feet is, it's less than two football fields.

Current county ordinance prohibits cultivation or sales of cannabis within 1,000 feet of public use land, religious places of worship or school sites. However, this proposed project falls in a “gray area” where no ordinances currently exist.

I implore you to consider, if a cannabis cultivation or cannabis sale site cannot operate at this location, why should a processing facility be permitted to?

This facility will be in the heart of downtown Kelseyville. Is this the optics we want for our small-town community? Do you think a large-scale cannabis facility belongs downtown in ANY town in Lake County?

I don't care where you are from, if an ounce of you has hesitation about a large-scale processing facility in the heart of your community, I urge you to write your concerns in an email to Andrew Amelung at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

For questions about this application please call the Lake County Planning Department at 707-263-2221.

Allison Panella is a concerned parent and coach of Kelseyville, California. She also is a member of the Kelseyville Unified School District Board of Trustees.

Don Amador. Courtesy photo of the Post Wildfire OHV Recovery Alliance.

In 2001, I wrote an op-ed entitled, “I Have a [Trail] Dream.”

My dream back then was that someday all trail users would respect each other's personal choice of recreational activity and work in a collaborative manner on important trail stewardship projects, travel planning and forest health efforts.

Shortly after that missive was written, a number of stakeholder meetings were convened by the California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation, or OHMVR, Division in an effort to bring diverse outdoor recreation interests together. The theme for those meetings was based on the new concept of collaboration.

OHMVR Division’s collaborative process was a strategy to bring OHV groups, conservation organizations, and the non-motorized trail community together to discuss how they can work together to provide high-quality outdoor recreation opportunities for the public while protecting cultural and natural resources.

Embracing that collaborative spirit, OHV worked with conservation groups and Congressman Mike Thompson in 2005 on a final version of the legislation that became the North Coast Wilderness Bill (HR233).

After a lot of hard work by both sides, the bill recognized OHV and mountain-bike use as legitimate recreational activities on federal lands and also codified OHV use in statute on designated routes.

Collaboration between conservation groups and OHV continued in a process that led to the 2016 Dedication Ceremony of the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument held at a popular BLM recreation site just a few miles east of Clearlake, California.

The dedication event was unique because OHV recreation was featured as a key partner in development of the plan to enhance both conservation efforts and existing/ future non-motorized and motorized recreational opportunities within the Monument boundary.

Another stellar example of collaboration is being carried out by the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship in their Connected Communities Project where their vision is to partner with the Forest Service, local communities, and other motorized and non-motorized trail groups to connect 15 mountain communities via a 600-mile route.

As the country celebrates Martin Luther King Day this year, I believe the outdoor recreation and conservation groups should continue to participate in solution-oriented collaborative efforts where finding common ground is the goal so our public lands can be enjoyed by current and future generations.

Don Amador has been in the trail advocacy and recreation management profession for 30 years. Amador is president of Quiet Warrior Racing/Consulting. Don served as a chairman and member on the California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission from 1994-2000. He has won numerous awards including being a 2016 Inductee into the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame and the 2018 Friend of the AMA Award. Amador currently serves as the government affairs lead for AMA District 36 in Northern California. He writes on recreation and conservation issues from his office near Cottonwood, California.

Merriam-Webster has declared that the word of 2022 is “gaslighting,” and that’s incredibly appropriate considering what Tom Jordan, tribal administrator of the Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians, is trying to pull on the town of Lucerne and the county at large.

With one fell swoop, this self-appointed expert on everything — in partnership with a rogue Lake County Office of Education staffer, Ana Santana — managed to hornswaggle the state into giving the tribe millions of dollars for a project Jordan doesn’t have the least clue how to carry out — turning the Lucerne Hotel into a gigantic homeless shelter, the biggest in the county, in the midst of a town that has one of the county’s smallest, poorest populations.

Why the state gave him money is anyone’s guess, other than he was using the tribe’s name to convince them at a time when Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration is throwing money at the homeless situation with little emphasis on accountability or positive outcomes.

There are many issues with Jordan’s scheme, but perhaps most disgusting is Jordan’s arrogant dismissal of community concerns or any community input on the idea, which will need vast cooperation and financing to get off the ground, much less to survive.

Hinting that some imaginary entitlements exist he has already suggested he will fight the zoning and planning processes that such a project would necessarily require. He has yet to entertain a pre-planning meeting with the county, though he’s already been told that there are zoning issues.

But is this about a homeless youth housing facility, or as some of Lake County News’ readers are already suggesting, something else entirely — such as a gambit to force a casino or some other undesirable use into our community?

“Oh, gosh, our shelter failed,” I can imagine Jordan saying, patting his forehead with a hanky. “Now, we’ll spend those millions to turn it into a secondary casino to the $700 million casino we want to build in Vallejo.”

Or is it a plan for this Lakeport-area tribe to move its government offices into the building, part of Jordan’s ultimate vanity project in controlling the last of Lake County’s great resorts?

It’s anyone’s guess. And I suspect we’ll be waiting a long time for Tom Jordan — who it must be stressed is not a tribal member — to tell us the truth.

The description of the project sounds like a 19th century workhouse, something Charles Dickens would have written about warming the stone-cold heart of Ebenezer Scrooge as he walked past it in a dreary, coal-clouded London winter.

People who I know and trust, who are housing advocates who have reviewed the plan, call it poorly thought out, with the potential to become an unmitigated disaster for Lucerne and its residents.

Until Lake County News contacted them, the Lake County Office of Education, the plan's “primary partner” who was supposed to run the shelter, knew nothing about it. Nor did dozens of other “secondary” partners also were named in that grant.

All of those who we have contacted so far didn’t know about the plan, and certainly didn’t give it any support, while others read their names in disbelief. Some reached out to tell us “no, not us” or in one case, “Holy Toledo!”

Some of the notable organizations and agencies in that group include Lake County Probation, Lake Family Resource Center, Woodland Community College, Lake County Tribal Health and the Lake County Gleaners.

On Thursday afternoon, the Red Cross, a national level organization, contacted us to say they also had nothing to do with it.

We expect to hear from more of these “partners” before we’re done checking.

You could wonder whether the grant application’s audacious claims of unicorn partnerships, and the fact that they are categorically false, is burning bridges, not building them.

And how could any plan succeed without substantial input from the Lucerne school superintendent, the Northshore Fire chief, the sheriff and a host of other officials, much less the community? As disrespectful as that is on a government to government basis, contemplate the real world consequences for the neighborhood.

This is a clear case of planning to ask for forgiveness, not permission, or simply using the tribe’s name, and the Sword of Damocles that is a threat of being called a racist, over the head of anyone who questions it.

Already, Jordan’s fawning, sycophantic supporters appear to be starting a campaign of character assassination of anyone challenging their plan. I’d love to back up a dump truck full of his nonsense into their neighborhood. Their stupidity won’t get far.

This, it must be emphasized, is not about a tribe. This is about two bureaucrats who rubbed their heads together and sparked a nightmare. It’s a bad idea, no matter who is suggesting it. And it's unconscionable for the state of California to throw money at it when it’s clearly based on fiction, upon fiction, upon fiction.

Does this have something to do with Jordan’s involvement with the local Democratic party? Is this why a Democratic governor’s administration doesn’t question it?

More troubling still, our county legislators — Mike McGuire and Cecilia Aguiar-Curry — have remained silent when we’ve asked them about this thorny situation. They’ve stepped up when the county was in peril before, why do they stay silent now when Lucerne needs them?

Perhaps most shocking, we’re now getting word that many of Scotts Valley’s 300-plus tribal members had no idea about this plan or what is being done in their name.

That tribe reportedly has just seven homeless youth that would even qualify for such housing as the grant would cover. Now, they’re supposed to be responsible for running a 75,000 square foot historic building for dozens of individuals who aren’t members of their tribe? Yet, it’s our understanding that tribes currently have the ability already to house homeless youth. So what gives?

Our attempt to get a comment from the tribal chair, listed online by the Bureau of Indian Affairs as Shawn Davis — the tribe’s own website doesn’t list council members, and mostly likely for this very reason — was unsuccessful, so that leaves Jordan to speak for the tribe. And that’s probably why the tribe at large isn’t getting the message. Or wasn’t, until the article came out.

Despite all of this, the California Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency indicated it intends to go through with giving Scotts Valley the $5.2 million, without so much as a lead agency to run this project.

There’s that old saying about the dog that catches the car. In this case, Tom Jordan and Ana Santana caught the car.

The entire situation is outrageous. But then, anyone who is familiar with Tom Jordan’s history of bluster and bamboozlement shouldn’t be surprised.

Case in point, the sudden and complete destruction of the Lake County Community Action Agency in 2011, an agency whose board he chaired.

That year, the agency board discovered an estimated $100,000 in unpaid payroll taxes, which precipitated a financial crisis that closed the agency’s many important services, caused layoffs and ultimately resulted in its equipment and furniture being auctioned off in October 2011.

No one, including Jordan and other board members — tasked with oversight of the agency — could give clear answers of just how it all happened, but in hindsight, it’s become clearer.

The Lake County Community Action Agency was like the victim on Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express” — many people were responsible for its death. But unlike that victim, the agency didn’t deserve its fate.

Those two stories also have in common that no one took the fall for the final act.

Jordan went on to be the executive director of the Lake County First 5 Commission. When he left that job, his daughter, Sorhna Li Jordan — who ran unsuccessfully in 2014 for county assessor-recorder — took over his job at First 5. Within months, however, she was terminated by the county Health Services director.

She now works as Scotts Valley’s chief financial officer, according to the grant documents, and will have a role in oversight, despite her statement to me that it wasn’t her project.

And in November, Scotts Valley environmental director and chief operations officer, Terre Logsdon, was hired as the county’s new grant-funded climate resiliency officer. One wonders what behind-the-scenes lobbying for Scotts Valley is taking place by Logsdon, now ensconced in the County Administrative Office.

The Lucerne Area Town Hall asked Jordan for information, but he didn’t respond until after the town hall finally issued its agenda earlier this week, which included a discussion of the plan and a proposed resolution condemning it.

Andrew Beath of the Malibu-based Earthways Foundation, a pal of former Supervisor Denise Rushing’s, purchased the Lucerne Hotel from the county as part of its predetermined sale process — one that we have long had evidence didn’t follow proper county procedure — in order for Rushing and her other buddies to carry out some wackadoodle plan about a permaculture college.

I wouldn’t think a real permaculture college would rip out native plants and otherwise destroy the landscape, but what do I know? It’s not like Rushing stuck around to actually see the results of her goofy ideas. She was at least consistent in that aspect.

Beath is now refusing to let the Lucerne Area Town Hall at the building, which it has done for months, because he claims they don’t know the whole story of the sale. Uh huh.

Meanwhile, Jordan suddenly asked to be on the town hall’s agenda in January — expected to be well after the close of escrow, which we have been told closes at the end of this month. Community members attending that meeting should be sure to take with them a shovel to dig through the load of hogwash he’ll try to feed them.

District 3 Supervisor Eddie Crandell, who is becoming mostly known for his consistent failure districtwide to respond to community concerns — such as the potential for catastrophic levee failure in Upper Lake — has refused to respond to questions about the Lucerne Hotel plan for weeks.

Or, I should say, he was refusing until Wednesday night, when based on the town hall bylaws he appears to have overstepped himself and sent out a notice canceling the town hall’s Thursday meeting and saying the town hall won’t meet again until January. Again, after the reported close of escrow.

Nice of him to so willingly carry water for Jordan. So rarely does Crandell show initiative on any other matter.

Crandell is now letting County Counsel Anita Grant cover his behind for his actions. Grant claims he didn’t overstep himself, which is a classic case of an attorney saying the sky is black when it’s blue. The bylaws are very clear, that the town hall chair has the authority for setting meeting times, locations and dates, while the district supervisor has no official role in bylaws Crandell himself voted to approve on Oct. 18.

But we have to remember, Grant protects the supervisors and the county, not the community. She’s the one making sure the foxes can get in and out of the hen house without getting pecked by angry chickens.

The town hall attempted to meet on Thursday night. About 20 people, of all ages, showed up to stand on the steps in front of the building to discuss their concerns. However, only two board members showed up to the meeting, meaning no quorum was present and so business couldn’t be conducted.

It looked like Beath, Jordan and Crandell got their way.

But, not yet.

The town hall is now working to secure another meeting location going forward and plans to hold an emergency meeting to put its concerns on record before escrow closes.

Jordan’s plan fits nicely with what appears to be the county of Lake’s plan to turn the entire Northshore into a sacrifice zone.

The Board of Supervisors, led by the nose by then-County Administrative Officer Carol Huchingson, took the Lucerne Hotel away from the community in a way that hasn’t been seen in any other community, making it difficult for community groups to take possession of it without millions of dollars at their fingertips. It was based on greed, to make sure she got her big, fat retirement.

It’s scandalous. I cannot imagine such a thing happening in other communities, like Clearlake, Kelseyville, Lakeport or Middletown.

Yet it happened here. And unincorporated communities need to beware, because if it’s happening here, it can happen anywhere.

As I personally informed the Lake County Board of Education at its Wednesday meeting, Jordan and Santana’s grant looks like a badly mashed up eighth grade term paper, with plenty of aspirations but no understanding of real world consequences. They clearly needed to have a “partner” like LCOE to pick up the tab on the millions of dollars they don’t have to pull this off.

In addition, Santana, who committed LCOE to operating this shelter, needs to be thoroughly investigated with a view toward termination. We have many questions regarding her possible use of government time for personal ends, and have served the Board of Education with a public records act request to ascertain what was going on.

The Board of Education also needs to understand that if it doesn’t take action to condemn this matter soon, it will be too late, escrow will have closed, they will look complicit and liable through their own inaction.

“Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented,” said Elie Wiesel, who as a boy was held as a prisoner at Buchenwald concentration camp, liberated in April 1945 by men including my grandfather, who recounted for me in vivid detail that day and the price paid to keep our governments free and responsive to the people.

Lake County cannot afford any more of Tom Jordan’s wildly inappropriate, unstudied, damaging and egotistical projects.

He’s an embarrassment to the community and the tribe. He needs to go.

The community of Lucerne’s plea to the Scotts Valley tribe is this: Don’t do this. Don’t let Jordan do this in your name.

If you want to partner on a plan for economic development and use of the building for a hotel, conference center and restaurant — which the county of Lake itself has said is the highest and best use — there could be success on all sides.

What is being proposed on your behalf, in your name, will bring destruction to us and infamy to us all. There is no good ending to this story as Jordan and Santana have written it.

You have the power to write a different ending, to do the right thing, to build meaningful partnerships.

The question is: Will you?

Elizabeth Larson is the editor and publisher of Lake County News, and a proud resident of Lucerne, California.

Kelseyville Unified School District Superintendent Dr. David S. McQueen. Courtesy photo.

KELSEYVILLE, Calif. — In October, Paulene Raffaelli, our bus driver on route No. 1, was headed back to the bus barn after dropping off her last student when she came across a brush fire next to the road.

Nobody was around and the fire was freely burning not far from the base of Mount Konocti.

Paulene immediately sprang into action. She stopped her bus and grabbed the fire extinguisher that each bus is required to carry. She was able to get the fire out with the extinguisher, and then another motorist stopped and used water they had on hand to douse the area.

Honestly, they may have just stopped the next big fire here in Lake County.

Paulene is a great example of the awesome people working at Kelseyville Unified and throughout Lake County schools. She represents one of the many employees who make up our “classified” staff — those who support students without using a teaching credential.

Our teachers get a lot of well-deserved credit for their amazing contributions, and I’ll keep throwing plenty of kudos their way.

But today, I’d like to talk about the employees behind the scenes who keep our schools running day in, day out, year in, year out, while the teachers work their magic in the classrooms.

Bus drivers and transportation

Many students start and end their school day with our bus drivers, who safely transport kids to school, rain or shine. Our drivers help set the tone for the day and without them, some kids wouldn’t get to school on time (or at all).

We also have other great employees in the Transportation Department. Our transportation secretary, Jessica Lorenzen, does an amazing job of keeping track of the bus passes and making sure everyone is transported to and from their correct locations. She helps keep the whole department rolling (no pun intended).

And our district mechanic, Gerald Sarver, keeps our buses and all district vehicles safe and maintained according to California Highway Patrol regulations. When called upon, he can also jump behind the wheel to drive a bus.

Skilled maintenance and groundskeepers

Those buses drop students off at well-maintained campuses thanks to our maintenance and grounds crew.

It’s hard to describe the variety and complexity of projects required to keep district facilities in good working order. Not only do our crew members take care of existing buildings and grounds through repairs and maintenance, they also perform alterations and new construction in accordance with local, state, and federal standards.

Thanks to the Maintenance Department, we can provide safe, efficient, and clean learning environments for students and staff.

Not only that — our crew makes sure indoor and outdoor athletic facilities and fields are in great shape, so the whole community can enjoy them.

We are lucky to have a skilled and hard-working team that takes such pride in their work.

Custodians

And who keeps those campuses and district facilities clean? That would be our custodians. Not to be gross, but have you ever thought about all the ways that hundreds of students could make a campus dirty?

Well, our day and night custodians can tell you. Yet, each morning when students and staff arrive, they are greeted with clean classrooms, gyms, cafeterias, restrooms, and offices.

Thanks to our custodians, we start each day with empty garbage cans, litter-free outdoor areas, and great-smelling disinfected surfaces, making all of our school sites and departments great places to work, teach, and learn.

Secretaries and clerks

Once the day is in full swing, it’s often up to our school secretaries to keep things running smoothly. I think they’d agree that “other duties as assigned” might be their main responsibility.

They complete all sorts of clerical tasks, but that’s just the start of it. They reassure sick kids while they’re waiting to be picked up, they smooth ruffled feathers when people arrive in a bad mood, they call parents when students forget their lunch or PE clothes, and they help their principal hold down the fort.

If you went to school at Kelseyville Elementary in the last couple of decades, you know Pat McGrath. She’s a fixture. Having a familiar face in the office year after year provides a stable, reliable environment and that’s good for everyone.

Aides (instructional, special needs, noon duty, language and more!)

Our aides work with students one-on-one and in small groups. Like secretaries, they also spend a lot of time on other duties as assigned, from providing extra support on difficult instructional concepts to helping students through the process of losing their first baby tooth.

Our special needs aides work with students with disabilities to support them and help them gain skills in all sorts of areas.

Campus monitors

When it comes to keeping kids safe and on track, our campus monitors are essential. They keep an eye out to prevent problems and address little issues so they don’t become big issues.

They report problems right away. Having an extra set of eyes on students is so helpful. Our administrators really appreciate the work they do.

Food service workers

When it comes to our most important need–basic health–our food service workers take care of business. They make sure students have healthy meals so they can concentrate on learning.

Our schools provide breakfast and lunch and our food service workers nourish students with more than just food–they nourish kids with kindness, putting smiles on student faces every day.

Nurses

Nurses also keep kids healthy. During the pandemic, our nurses went way beyond the call of duty. Now that things have mellowed a little, they’re able to focus on health and wellness overall.

This can mean everything from taking a student’s temperature to assessing whether a student should be referred to a physician for more follow-up.

Technology analysts

While the IT Department isn’t a health-related department, they do improve our mental health every day.

Have you ever had a computer problem at a crucial moment? Imagine having 30 little faces looking up at a screen that suddenly goes blank (if you’re over 50 years old, think of a chalkboard where everything is suddenly erased).

At Kelseyville Unified, our two-person technology team fields calls all day every day to keep everyone productive (and less stressed).

In October, the IT Department received 330 help tickets, with an average response time of five hours and an average ticket close time of two days. Of those 330 tickets, 165 were completed by our incredible network analyst, Josh Crook.

Library clerk

Information doesn’t just come in the form of technology — sometimes it comes in books! Our library clerks introduce students to all the wonderful resources available in our libraries, opening up whole new worlds of information.

Registration staff

And before students can appreciate any of the wonderful services above, they have to get registered to attend school in our district.

For the 2022-23 school year, our Welcome Center staff handled more than 330 new student enrollments, presenting each new Kelseyville Unified family with a friendly introduction to our district.

Without classified workers, schools would come unglued. I wish I could mention everyone by name. They all deserve to be recognized. They keep our district running and provide tremendous support to students and faculty.

If you get the chance, be sure to thank these unsung heroes. And if any of these jobs sound like a good fit for you, you can view local job openings at EdJoin.org.

Dr. David S. McQueen is superintendent of Kelseyville Unified School District.

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