KJAJ – How ego gets in the way of progress

He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really
cooperating with it.
– Martin Luther King

Scott Cooper wanted to add three board members to KJAJ, all
of whom were connected to AYA. Given Travis Hayer now worked for AYA the KJAJ
board was already comprised of 30% AYA representatives. This was a huge concern
to me because boards are not supposed to discuss or predetermine decisions
outside of board meetings. Additionally, the makeup of the board can impact our
ability to raise funds through grants. Scott was suggesting 67% of the KJAJ
board would consist of his friends and employees from AYA. Of course, I was
adamantly opposed and further saw no benefit to the station or to anyone other
than Scott and Travis for even considering such a proposal.

Now I won’t bore everyone with the gory details but Darlene Elliott,
a secretary at AYA and Octavia Shafer an AYA board member were added to the KJAJ
board. One of the major concerns is that there would obviously be times when we
may have difficulty maintaining a quorum if members are forced to recuse
themselves owing to conflicts of interest. In violation of the bylaws, Travis
was able to install himself as president at the November 2017 board meeting but
by raising a ruckus I was able to show this was invalid and force a new
election in December.

One of the first signs that I was right to be concerned about the AYA connection came when I nominated Geno Landrum to be the president and Knute Nemeth enthusiastically seconded the nomination. Darlene grabbed Knute’s arm and warned him “to be careful” before realizing that she had revealed her bias and she glanced my way to see if I had noticed. Again, I think only because I had made so much noise about conflicts of interest both Darlene and Octavia recused themselves, (if I hadn’t been present, I suspect they would have voted), Travis lost, and Geno was named president. Travis was clearly stunned.

Scott did not vote during this election because minutes
earlier he had resigned, thankfully. Now this next bit reveals Scott’s lack of
character, how little he actually cared about KJAJ and how one strong personality
can permeate the culture of a whole organization.

Upon arriving at the station for the board meeting I noted that several chairs had been setup in the “gallery” for guests. This was somewhat uncharacteristic and soon several young men whom I had never met before and Scott’s girlfriend took seats. Scott had planned a show and to further bolster my concerns about AYA folks saturating the KJAJ board, all the AYA people and only the AYA people knew what was coming. The rest of us had been kept out of the loop.

Scott proceeded to read his “official resignation letter”
and then proceeded to play to his assembled audience and try to eviscerate my
character. He had actually prepared a power point presentation listing many of
our disagreements most of which I have already mentioned and even included the
quote from MLK’s Birmingham Jail letter copied above. (Yes, he objected to me texting
him that quote).

He was, he said, not used to being accused of things and when I pointed out that he stood by quietly while Travis accused Pattie and me he cut me off and said he was sick of me bringing up Pattie and that I was behaving just like a Republican… Go figure. His behavior did not become any more rational and any time I attempted to defend myself he shouted me down and said that he just couldn’t be associated with me and that was why he was leaving the board. Then, further illustrating his low character quoted a twelve-year-old rumor started by a musician/metalworker that I consider to be a conman, (at least he conned me out of money), and made other baseless accusations.

Scott had determined that Pattie and mostly me were of no use to him and therefore it was perfectly acceptable to publicly humiliate anyone for daring to disagree with him. This says way more about him than it does about me. Now, I don’t know who this audience was but I have wondered if he invited some of his students to observe so that he could show them how you deal with uppity board members but I have never seen a professional board behave like this and he gave no concern for how it upset the non AYA members of the board or how it reflected on the organization as a whole. After the meeting, Knute was so upset by the whole display he gave me a big hug.

As an aside, prior to this meeting I had finally decided to
stop paying the KJAJ bills and when Travis texted me shut off notices, I
suggested he turn to Scott who had promised to help with bills but had so far
not done so. This may also have precipitated his desire to leave the board.

Despite being on the board for three plus years, Travis
never raised any issues regarding finances until after all the money was spent
and the station was broadcasting. It should also be noted that unlike other
board members, Travis refused to contribute any funds to run the station even refusing
to pay the required $25 annual fee ($2.08/month) that all board members pay.
(Regrettably, Knute Nemeth agreed to pay Travis’ fee for him). While all the
board members volunteer their time, Travis was of the opinion that his
volunteer time was worth more than everyone else’s and therefore he shouldn’t
have to pay.

As I have demonstrated earlier it is arithmetically impossible for anyone to have stolen funds from the station because it spent 32% more money in verified capital purchases and expenses than it received in grants or donations but that didn’t stop Travis from making accusations against both Pattie and me. What was more appalling to me was that the board did not reprimand his behavior and I was very vocal in an email reminding everyone that they were effectively complicit in this insult by timidly maintaining their silence.

After resigning Scott sat down in the audience and Travis
began to grill me on matters that had already been settled multiple times. Scott’s
girlfriend kept staring at me as if in disbelief that I was still in the room
and hadn’t run out in shame. In my mind I was thinking that if my significant
other had behaved like Scott, I would have left the vicinity long ago and
terminated the relationship.

Scott’s departure was meaningless really because 1) he didn’t
deliver on his promises and 2) he had already installed his friends on the
board.

Despite this amazing performance I tried to stick with the board and build the station. Travis persisted with his relentless bullying, harassment and accusations. Darlene Elliott claimed to have a background in human resources but she never stepped in to stop his behavior and along with Octavia sat quietly during Scott’s theatrical display. This email exchange is just an example of what I was subjected to by Travis and the behavior the rest of the board tolerated. To summarize, Travis infected my server with a virus and rather than apologizing accused me of being destructive when I chose a solution of changing the theme. This is particularly ironic given he has now allowed the KJAJ domain to lapse.

Throughout I made numerous suggestions about raising funds, automating the station so that we could provide 168 hours a week of fresh programming and getting out into the community like a community radio station is supposed to but the board was frozen and incapable of acting.

Travis refused any help upgrading the station and locked everyone out of the computer. He claimed he couldn’t automate the station because our computer was too old yet when I offered to buy the station a new computer to solve this problem all I heard were “crickets”.

Finally, I gave up and resigned from the board because unless the board will act no one person can do anything. The AYA side of the board pretty much stopped any forward progress deferring to the limitations and whims of Travis.

Anyone who has ever served on a non-profit board knows that unless otherwise specified in the bylaws, no one board member has any greater authority than any other. Being named president or treasurer brings additional responsibility but does not imbue you with super powers or crown you a monarch. The reason I bring this up is because I am pretty sure Travis doesn’t understand this.

Going against board wishes an anonymous complaint was submitted to the Oregon Department of Justice requesting that I be investigated for malfeasance. (We can guess who that was). Anonymous submitted bank statements which included reimbursements to me as well as deposits from me. Anonymous did not, however, include the breakdown available in Act 1 that I provided to the board on multiple occasions. Frank Najar, the investigator, unlike some of the board does understand simple arithmetic and quickly ascertained after seeing the breakdown no malfeasance had occurred. He did not argue when I pointed out that I was not only a board member but also a benefactor.

Naturally, because we are not dealing with quality people, I received no apology from Travis, Darlene or the board for all the false allegations leveled against both Pattie and me.

Not long after I resigned they ran Geno off as well and installed Travis as president. He finally got what he wanted and now KJAJ is all but dead.

IF you think they couldn’t possibly go any lower you’d be wrong. While there was a time when I may have considered donating the funds I advanced to keep the station afloat I was no longer of that mind. The board in keeping with their general lack of professionalism ignored my requests for repayment until I finally had my lawyer contact them. The response was totally in keeping with their poor character as you will see.

From: Travis Hayer
Sent: Monday, April 22, 2019 7:23 PM
To: Nancy Shelton
Cc: Julia Manela
Subject: Re: Funds Owed to Mary Geddry
Ms. Manela,
Thank you for your correspondence.
We are unaware of any loan arrangement between Coos Community Radio and its former treasurer, Mary Geddry.  Further, her insufficient accounting practices during her term as treasurer prevent us from determining the source of the funds in question.  As a result, we regret that we are unable to honor the demand for payment.
In addition, we have been reluctant to contact Ms. Geddry because of the abusive and harassing nature of her past contributions to our dialogue.  It is for that reason that we request no further contact in any form directly from Ms. Geddry.  We very much appreciate your efforts, and we would agree to remain in contact with you regarding this matter, should the need arise.
Travis Hayer, President
Coos Community Radio

This decision to refuse to repay me was not a board sanctioned decision, this was a unilateral decision to cut off one’s nose to spite their own face. After even the Department of Justice has told the board there is no evidence of any malfeasance and after all the crap they have put me through Travis and no doubt Darlene want to stick it to me one more time by tossing in an insult and then trying to steal my money even if it bankrupts the station. This is who is leading this organization now and the rest of the board if they really give a damn about KJAJ better stand up and pay attention.

Cut off nose to spite face

This is the end of Act 3. As my lawyer explained all I have to do is show my bank and credit card records to the court and petition for legal fees to be added. Stay tuned… (pun intended)




KJAJ – Community radio gone bad

As I mentioned earlier it is my opinion board members Scott Cooper
and Travis Hayer ultimately destroyed the organization, but I should first
acknowledge that during the crunch time it was Scott who got permission for us to
erect the tower.  Then Travis took the
reins and worked with the volunteers to erect the tower, connect all the
equipment and get the station on the air. He didn’t exactly keep to his
original budget, such as it was, but we prevailed.

Instead of rejoicing, however, Travis decided to revisit and
question every decision made up to this point and suddenly decided that I was
the enemy of the station rather than a fellow board member and benefactor. I
will elaborate on Travis’ relentless harassment later on but should mention here
that Scott hired Travis to work for AYA prior to the station going live.

Let’s begin with Scott and why I believe he triggered the
downfall of KJAJ. Anyone who has met Scott knows he presents as very amiable, helpful,
enthusiastic and very self-assured. Scott joined the KJAJ board in 2017 and as
I mentioned, had indicated that he would write grants to support our proposed youth-oriented
work.

By the time Scott joined the board we had been paying
utilities for the station for almost two years, maintained our annual state and
federal reporting and fees to keep the organization current, paid insurance and
mailbox fees and had purchased and installed all the equipment and the costs of
erecting the tower. We had exhausted all the grant funds plus spent an
additional $5,000. The extra funds came from Pattie and me.

To be clear, what follows is in no way meant to be a
criticism of AYA. To the best of my knowledge the organization fulfills its
mission for the students it serves. It is with certain individuals within the
organization that I have taken issue.

Almost immediately Scott and I found cause to disagree. As I
have previously mentioned our understanding with AYA was the use of a house on
the AYA property which included a kitchen, bathroom, living room and two of the
three bedrooms in exchange for working with and developing programs with AYA
students. Pattie and I were of the understanding that a lease had been executed
so when Scott decided to reverse the arrangement and limit KJAJ to only one
room and therefore our opportunity to expand I asked to see the lease to which
he replied there was no lease. He explained that he had delivered the lease, but
no one signed it. Curious, but easily solved by getting all parties to sign. When
I pressed him as to who hadn’t signed, AYA or KJAJ, he deflected saying that
AYA had been on the verge of bankruptcy when it offered KJAJ the space, (news
to us), but now it wasn’t. Make of that what you will be it was clear if KJAJ
was to expand into a viable community resource we would have to look for a new
location.

The next item of contention came when I learned after
complaining that the electrical bills had doubled that Scott had setup an
aquaculture program in a garage which ran large pumps off of our meter. Why he
didn’t bother to ask or advise the KJAJ board of this I don’t know but since I
was paying these bills out of my own pocket, I was obviously annoyed.

 Throughout the course
of KJAJ’s existence Pattie and I pressured the board to assist with fundraising
and I personally sent multiple emails to the board suggesting fundraising plans.

At one of the first board meetings Scott attended as a board
member I began my typical entreaty that we needed money. Scott felt that we
first needed to establish how the previous money had been spent. While I don’t
see why one should preclude the other, I agreed to complete my reconstruction
of the three plus years finances prior to my taking over the treasurer duties.
Scott meanwhile agreed to cover the station’s expenses during the interim. We
estimated $300 per month to which Scott said, “no problem.”

Despite the fact that the organization had changed bank accounts three times during its existence I was able to provide the breakdown seen, (available on Act 1), by the next meeting. Despite his promise Scott did not help pay the bills nor did he write any grants and Travis was still sending me text images of shut off notices for our water and electric bills expecting me to pay them.

To put it mildly, Scott turned out to be all hat and no
cattle…

Now to Travis. Travis and I got along fine in the beginning,
but I detected a marked change in his demeanor after he began working with
Scott at AYA. One day at a board meeting Travis was particularly cold and instead
of pulling me aside and saying he had some concerns he decided to ambush me. He
announced to the board that I had made capital purchases he did not approve of
and that I shouldn’t be treasurer. He was accusing me of malfeasance.
Curiously, the only person who came to my defense was Geno Landrum, but it
should also be noted that I was not the treasurer when these items were
acquired but they were purchased with board approval. Rather than bore everyone
with the details suffice it to say that Travis offered up no apology and I
still retain the audio of his persistent bullying harassment and accusations at
every board meeting.

Even though I had provided the board with copies of the
expenses paid and capital purchases were all in the studio or on the roof,
Travis was convinced I had misappropriated funds. Anyone capable of simple math
calculations could see this is impossible but he was relentless. His behavior
was so awful that he triggered my PTSD. Even though intellectually I know that
bullies like Travis don’t have the guts to take action, I was so disturbed that
I invested in security cameras around my home, just in case.

Even worse than Travis’ treatment of me was how he blocked the station from progressing. At some point, I don’t know when this happened, he was appointed or self-appointed station manager and refused to let anyone help him or to automate the station so we could improve our programming.

So why would the board allow one person to so control or
limit the station? The answer to that lies with Scott Cooper and his maneuvering
to load the board with AYA staff and board members who apparently trust Travis’
judgment and goals of mediocrity. Over my strong objections and in my opinion
in violation of our conflict of interest policy Scott pushed to add Darlene
Elliott, AYA secretary and Octavia Shafer, AYA board member “because we need
money”. In so doing and including both Scott and Travis 66% of the board would
be associated with the landlord, AYA and two of them direct employees of Scott.
Scott claimed that the adoption of the conflict of interest policy had not been
documented in the previous minutes and therefore didn’t apply.

Adding these individuals to the board did not provide any funding
save for the small $25 annual fee that Travis refused to pay. Again, Scott
talks a good game but doesn’t deliver.

Coming up in Act 3 – Scott reveals his true character and the plan to install Travis as president.




Rise and fall of a community radio station

Act One – The Beginning

If you are unaware of Coos Community Radio which operates at 98.1 FM, you aren’t alone. Sadly, with the exception of Democracy Now and Economic Update, (both programs I brought to the station), and thanks to its current management Travis Hayer and Darlene Elliott, you also aren’t missing anything.

In 2013 the FCC opened a window for the single largest expansion
of community radio stations in the history of the agency.  Non-profit or publicly owned organizations were
invited to apply without fee for a low-power FM (LPFM) radio license. After
some encouragement from a fellow activist operating a full power station in
Florence, I applied for three licenses in Coos County. Happily, all three
applications were approved and received what is called a “construction permit”.
Each had a maximum of three years to build and begin operating a station. Winter
Lakes High School in Coquille, Bandon Community Radio and Coos Community Radio in
Coos Bay/North Bend all went live and received their full-fledged broadcast
licenses.

Now a little LPFM station may not seem like a big deal but keep in mind that KBOO which now has multiple translators operating at a combined 28000W covering the entire northern half of Oregon offering diverse national and local programming beyond began life as a 30W LPFM. KJAJ, on the other hand is still looping 24 hours of programming first aired three years ago via Windows Media Player seven days a week, let its domain expire on June 3, 2019, is apparently delinquent filing required state and federal reports and is refusing to repay me more than $4K forcing me sue the station which will likely force it into bankruptcy.

KJAJ began broadcasting in February 2017, mere days before the
construction permit was set to expire. The path to licensing was a circuitous one
and like all new organizations not without hiccups but could not have been
accomplished without the help of my fellow founder Patricia Gouveia. The start
of the construction period coincided with another project Pattie and are were
involved in, the effort to establish a right to a sustainable energy future ordinance
in Coos County. Pattie, in fact, did all the heavy lifting in the beginning for
KJAJ while I focused on the campaign.  She
setup the bylaws, code of ethics, conflict of interest policy and paid the
bills and much more. She also wrote and obtained two grants totaling $11,700 to
fund capital equipment purchases. Without Pattie, KJAJ would not exist.

Using her contacts from the time she worked at ORCCA, Pattie
further secured a location for a station.  Alternative Youth Activities, Inc offered an
unused house on their property. This would facilitate one of our goals to work
with youth which was a feature of one of the grants we submitted. Our only
requirement was to cover the monthly electrical and water and allow AYA to use
one room in the building. We were excited because this would allow us physical
space to grow as the station became more involved with the community. We paid
the utilities for about 20 months before we actually began broadcasting. In
addition to the grants, Pattie and I also provided in excess of $4K to cover
operational expenses to keep the station afloat until it was generating
revenue.

Initially we planned to use a remote tower location but as
time was running short and suitable towers were few and far between AYA’s new executive
director, Scott Cooper, agreed to allow us to erect a 36’ tower on site. We
considered this a temporary solution until a better tower location providing us
with better coverage was found but happily KJAJ was borne and Coos Community
Radio received its full-fledged broadcasting license.

As with many small organizations we struggled
organizationally and please note that when I use the term “we” I mean the KJAJ board.
 Board members and volunteers who have
been there almost from the beginning include Knute Nemeth and Geno Landrum,
(there were others in the early days who had to drop out for various personal
reasons or because they moved, time constraints, etc).. Small start-up
organizations require a working board meaning people willing to do the hard
work of raising funds, filing state and federal documents and doing the day-to-day
upkeep and maintenance, public outreach, etc…

At one point I invited Travis Hayer to be on the board
because he had actual experience operating a station having worked for
Bi-Coastal Media and we eventually invited Scott Cooper to the board as I
thought it would be reasonable to have a representative of our landlord and
largest in-kind contributor, AYA. Scott Cooper also indicated he would help with
grant writing taking some of the burden off of Pattie. These two choices would
ultimately prove fatal to the organization.

In addition to the time constraints set by the FCC we were
also under other time pressures. Our foundation grant of $9,000 was meant to be
spent within one year and to be used for capital expenditures, not for operating
costs.  Because we had so much difficulty
solving the tower problem it took us nearly two years to spend it. We had
planned to reapply for more funds but until we spent the first grant this would
not have been appropriate and so we opted to make some purchases that we hoped
would be useful to the station in an effort to meet the original deadline or risk
having to return the money
. This was freely discussed at a board meeting
unfortunately, the only people who showed up were Pattie and me and Geno
Landrum who at the time was a volunteer and not yet on the board. We bought
some Barix boxes, a small FM transmitter, a microphone and some odds and ends
knowing we could always sell these assets if necessary. Even then we still hadn’t
spent enough money to justify reapplying and we were even more concerned
because of the lack of input from the rest of the board. After Pattie and I
held a yard sale, (mostly organized by Pattie), with no help from the rest of
the board, Pattie decided she was done and understandably decided to resign.

This was a critical time for KJAJ because it still did not
have its broadcast license and time was running out. At my request Pattie
stayed on as the “paper” president temporarily while I took over the chores of president
and treasurer and was added as a signor on the account. Included in the
treasurer duties was tracing back over the previous three years to determine
how the money was spent. The board was provided with the breakdown below. In
summary, we raised $11,700 in grant funds and by the time we went on the air
had spent in excess of $15,500 in verified capital purchases and operating
expenses. As mentioned previously, the difference between what we received in
grants and what the station spent, almost $5,000 by the time I too gave up on
KJAJ, came from Pattie and me.

MRG 9000
Williams 2700
Total Grants 11700
TX 300 3295
tx 100 1695
Barix 715
Mic 79
EAS 2395
Tower 840
Cabling 149
MegaSeg 199
Engineering 547
Total 9914
Organization
501 C3 850
Dept of Justice 320
1170
Net Funds 616

Operating Expenses
Utilities 2860
Insurance 950
Accounting/QB 408
Miscellaneous 219
Total 4437

Shortfall = $3,821

Since I did not have a debit card for our bank, I used my
own bank and credit cards to make the purchases or pay the utilities, etc. This
was made clear up front to the attending board and I further made it clear that
I would reimburse myself for these purchases and expenses.

In addition to paying the bills and making the equipment
purchases I prepared and filed the required state and federal reports and
hosted the station website, KJAJ.org on my own server. All of this was because
I firmly believed the station could be a valuable community asset to help
counter the conservative commercial radio that permeates the area.

Pattie and I are deeply disappointed after all our hard work to see the state of the station now. What a waste of our time and effort. Stay tuned for Act Two to learn how Scott Cooper took power from the station without asking, (I was paying for it), how he decided to change the lease terms we had previously agreed upon and helped stack the board with AYA sycophants including Darlene Elliott and Octavia Shafer. Learn how he tried to publicly shame me in front of his friends and girlfriend for having had the audacity to privately disagree with him via email. Then read how KJAJ is trying to steal my money.




We wont stop Jordan Cove unless…

Hope
is a longing for a future condition over which you have no agency. It means you
are essentially powerless.
– Derrick Jensen

In the 56 years since the
publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent
Spring
one thing remains constant to this day. Our existing system of law
continues to legalize our own poisoning and self-destruction. Neither nature
nor mankind can escape toxic trespass by industrial pollution and the
relentless production of more as driven by commerce and obey the law at the
same time.

As Carson explains rather than
protecting us regulatory agencies like the US Food and Drug Administration
protect industry by setting acceptable limits of poison and, “…  to establish tolerances is to authorize
contamination of public food supplies with poisonous chemicals in order that
the farmer and the processor may enjoy the benefit of cheaper production…”

To put it simply, the system we
have today in the United States makes sustainability illegal.

We are told and effectively
conditioned to accept that there are safe amounts of arsenic in rice and
mercury in fish. We are to accept carcinogenic particulate matter in our air
supply as a normal condition of modern life. In Oregon, aerial spraying of
toxic herbicides and pesticides is legalized and liberally applied in order to
benefit the timber industry.  Instead of
being appalled that these chemicals make their way into our drinking water
supply damaging both our health and the natural creatures with which we share
the planet, we tolerate this sort of collateral damage as if it is to be
expected in a technologically advanced society.

When a community tries to
democratically enact zero tolerance laws in order to protect itself to a higher
standard than state and federal rules, they are challenged for violating the “rights”
of a corporation to engage in commerce and the legal authority to pollute your
neighborhood. Thus, when we try to assert otherwise, we find that sustainability
literally breaks the law.

We go about our lives hoping
things will get better. We hope we can elect the right officials, empower the
next messiah who will lead us to health and prosperity and save the planet. We
hope someone will invent the technology to fix everything we have broken. We
hope we will not become one of the unfortunate yet inevitable statistics to be
stricken by industrial induced and government sanctioned disease.

We hope because we believe
ourselves to be helpless.

More than five decades ago
Carson understood that in today’s society nature, a complex community of living
breathing families of fauna and flora and microbes and fungi working in
symbiotic relationships to give us clean air and fresh water, is treated like
property. Not unlike human slaves, nature is treated as a resource to be used,
abused and extracted at will where whole ecosystems can be destroyed to benefit
the cause of commerce.

Despite the formation of the
EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and the enactment of the National
Environmental Policy Act each year in the US alone, 4 billion pounds of toxic
chemicals, including 72 million pounds of known carcinogens are released into
the atmosphere from 20,000 industrial polluters. More than 2 trillion pounds of
antibiotic, hormone and chemical laced livestock waste is dumped into waterways
and spread across fields. Six million people suffer health issues because of our
use of fossil-fuels and more than 700 synthetic chemicals are found in the
human body that shouldn’t be there. Forty percent of our waterways fail to meet
the minimal requirements of federal and state clean water laws and barely
support aquatic life.

A recent United Nations report warns that without radical reductions in our use of
fossil-fuels we have barely twenty years before an extinction level event
brought on by climate catastrophe. Clearly, our current methods of
environmental activism and legislative efforts have failed, yet conventional environmentalists
and legislators continue to be complicit in our demise.

He
who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.

– Martin Luther King

Environmental regulatory
agencies, by legislative mandate, allow industry to legally damage a waterway
in favor of a pipeline or agree to mitigate damage in one location if another,
less profitable, location receives some upgrades. Despite the clear devastation
caused by regulating destruction the idea of abolishing harmful corporate activities
doesn’t even remotely enter the brain of the system.

Most environmental activism
operates under the same false premise as the industry they are opposing.  That is that nature, the environment, whole
ecosystems are mere property of the state or corporations rather than living
breathing entities entitled to the same rights to thrive and evolve we assume
for ourselves. Participating in environmental regulatory hearings is no
different than negotiating for fewer lashes for slaves. Instead of changing our
relationship with nature it perpetuates our abuse of it and cooperates with the
very force hell bent on capitalizing off the suffering of nature.

Empirically and statistically there was never any reason
to expect any substantive change in this new Draft EIS for the Jordan Cove LNG
project. Despite acknowledging that significant damage will be done by the
project and associated pipeline the draft states “a majority of impacts would be less than significant due to the
implementation of proposed and recommended impact avoidance, minimization, and
mitigation measures… we recommend that these measures be attached as conditions
to any authorizations issued by the Commission.”

There you
have it in a nutshell, buried at the end of the report, Pembina, the latest
owner of Jordan Cove Energy Partners is almost assured their FERC permit in
spite of the tens of thousands of comments filed opposing the project. Sure, all
those conditions may reduce the damage, but it will not stop it and our steady march
toward climate Armageddon will continue.

This spring Toledo, Ohio passed the Lake Erie Bill
of Rights (LEBOR) which enables anyone to file a suit on behalf of the
ecosystem to stop harmful agricultural and industrial practices that violate those
rights. In 2017, Lincoln County Oregon passed a similar bill of rights to
protect the Siletz watershed from aerial spraying. Instantly corporate backed interests
filed suit challenging these democratically enacted laws effectively saying
they can’t do business without poisoning our watersheds and they have a constitutional
right to pollute. These cases will play out in the courts but since May of 2017
all aerial spraying of toxic chemicals has stopped in Lincoln County.

There is no question that community rights work is
hard and far less convenient than throwing all one’s eggs into one basket and composing
and submitting comments from the comfort of a home office. Like any investment
in the future, (stopping Jordan Cove is definitely an investment), diversity is
important and adding community rights to your activism repertoire will force
the industry out of its comfort zone. Pembina was so terrified of the Coos
County Right to a Sustainable Energy Future Ordinance that would have stopped
Jordan Cove on the grounds it violates the rights of the ecosystems, it spent almost
a $1 million dollars to defeat it in 2017. To stop Jordan Cove we must pass a
Coos Bay Estuary Bill of Rights much like LEBOR.

Community rights is the embodiment
of protest. Community rights is the direct assertion of one’s right to protect oneself,
the right to self-determine against those who attempt to falsely legitimize
harm and destruction. If ever there was a time to stop cooperating, now is that
time. Until our legal system recognizes our community rights and the right of
nature to thrive, flourish and naturally evolve nothing will change and
certainly not in time to make a difference. And that recognition only comes
when we demand such recognition, when we change the system such that
sustainability becomes legal.

To stop Jordan Cove support your local community rights chapter or contribute to Coos Commons Protection Council at https://cooscommons.org/donate If you don’t have a local chapter consider starting one by visiting https://orcrn.org




How are we going to stop Jordan Cove?

Given a FERC Final Order regarding Jordan Cove is expected in November 2019 it is good that Wim DeVriend has reminded us that local citizens who don’t stand to lose their property to eminent domain enabled a foreign corporation to interfere in a local election that would have protected landowners who are threatened by the project. Unfortunately, DeVriend misspoke about the Coos County Right to a Sustainable Energy Future ordinance ballot measure from the May 2017 ballot as providing “civil liberties for trees”. This is a false reading of what establishing a legal framework to protect the rights of nature would accomplish.  The truth is, both in the failure of current environmental law and much more critically for our very survival, is that by acknowledging ecosystems having the right to thrive and flourish and naturally evolve its really a necessary and common sense recognition of our symbiotic relationship with nature.

 

DeVriend is right, leaders of the local anti-LNG group opposed the ordinance, but these same people also spread a rumor that I was personally “bought off” by Jordan Cove LNG so I wouldn’t hold their opinion in too high esteem.

While many opponents of the LNG terminal have thrown all their eggs into the regulatory basket, including the local group here in Coos County, many communities across the country are thinking out of the box in order to stop harmful, non-sustainable development like Jordan Cove. Just up the coast from Coos Lincoln County has successfully stopped poisonous aerial spraying of pesticides by industrial timber since their community bill of rights ordinance passed in May 2017. The foundation they and others have worked from is that aerial spraying or fracking or LNG terminals are really issues having to do with fundamental rights that is the rights to a healthy environment, rights to clean air and water, and the right for the community itself to be the primary decision maker on such corporate proposals like LNG terminals instead of being treated as a door mat to corporate raiders. The shorthand here is that community rights not only matter but that they are superior to that of the corporate state itself who is looking to undermine those very rights of the community, nature included.

 

FERC is in the business of granting permits, not denying them and the agency is funded by the very industry it is supposed to be regulating. Statistical evidence says Jordan Cove will receive its long-fought permit next year. The question then becomes what are we willing to do to stop this albatross when all else has failed?




Jordan Cove wants us to trust them

Betsy Spomer claims in a recent op-ed to want to earn our trust through “vigorous public discussion” and to demonstrate that her company, Jordan Cove Energy Partners, is a “responsible corporate neighbor”.  This is an incongruous statement from the CEO of a company that just a few short months ago spent almost $700K, almost twenty times more than any local political campaign in Coos County history, specifically to thwart public discourse. Through the artfully named “Save Coos Jobs” campaign literature and media advertising the company even threatened Coos County with lawsuits if voters did not cast their ballots in the best interests of Jordan Cove.

Regardless of where you stood on community rights Measure 6-162, the Coos County Right to a Sustainable Energy Future Ordinance, the Canadian owned company’s interference in our local democracy are not those of a responsible corporate neighbor. Heck, we Americans cannot even buy their stock. There is nothing trustworthy about a foreign special interest pretending to be a local grassroots effort and funding a covert campaign riddled with provably false statements. False claims were made about imposing vehicle checkpoints or denying fuel to neighboring counties, even though the ordinance specifically protected existing applications of fossil-fuels.  The Save Coos Jobs campaign did this all the while omitting any reference to Jordan Cove or LNG or the Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline when the measure would have specifically prohibited the use of eminent domain solely for the company’s gain.

Of course, Jordan Cove did have locals willing to assist in its grassroots deception like Barry Winters and Coos Bay Mayor Joe Benetti claiming to be in-charge-of the campaign even though it was run out of Portland by a company called Prospect PDX. By way of proof, Prospect PDX which was paid more than $212K, ran a similar albeit unsuccessful campaign against a community rights measure in Lincoln County. That measure to ban aerial spraying included a non-violent direct-action enforcement provision in the event a corporate actor attempts to violate the will of the people. Prospect spun that provision into a legalization of vigilantism which, while false, also somehow made it into the campaign here despite there being no such clause in Measure 6-162. The campaign was even able to employ a local farmer to participate in an ad spreading this falsehood.

According to OreStar, no member of the local campaign committee contributed a cent.  In fact, Benetti was paid $433.53 by the campaign to hold the election night dinner at his restaurant.

There is no denying there will be some local profiteers, if only short term, should Jordan Cove be built. Pro-gas advocates may sincerely believe that tethering the community to 19th century energy technology and shouldering the health costs associated with burning fossil-fuels will bring long term benefits to the county despite all the empirical evidence to the contrary. This may explain, though not excuse why local politicians like county commissioners Bob Main and Melissa Cribbins and John Sweet continue to carry water for Jordan Cove and not only ignore but defend this assault on our local elections.

Spomer works in an industry that is only profitable thanks to $5.3 trillion a year, a staggering 6.5% of global GDP, in taxpayer funded subsidies. According to a new study prepared by staff of the International Monetary Fund, not only do these fossil-fuel subsides damage the environment they discourage investments in renewable energy and are an inefficient means of supporting low-income households.

The human health costs of fossil fuels are estimated at $74.6 billion annually, yet the Save Coos Jobs campaign accused the measure backers of being “radical environmental extremists” for daring to want clean air and water.

Protection by the US military for overseas oil sources amounts to $1 per gallon of what we pay at the pump.

Clearly, this is not a sustainable industry and it’s no wonder the company would rather place its fortunes in FERC, where it is virtually guaranteed a permit to pollute our air and waterways, than in the voters of Coos County.

Renewable energy is now competitive with and even cheaper than fossil fuels and jobs in the renewable sector are growing at a pace twelve times greater than the US economy.

Behind her deceptively placid smile, Spomer is asking us to put faith in her antiquated, non-sustainable, taxpayer subsidized business model and trust in a company that was willing to deceive county voters, trod all over our local democracy and wants to forcibly take land from unwilling Americans all to enrich Canadian shareholders.

If you want to help permanently stop this boondoggle and ban the pipeline send an email to cooscommons@gmail.com




“A system cannot fail those it was never designed to protect”

One thing we learned from the recent election is Jordan Cove Energy Partners fears direct democracy. The No campaign that opposed Measure 6-162 to establish a community Bill of Rights spent almost $50 per NO vote, most of it from the Canadian firm, to convince Coos County to vote against our best interests and in the interests of the company.

 

Nevertheless, the Yes on 6-162 campaign was an astonishing success. At a fraction of the cost four thousand Coos County residents said yes. They said “yes” to local decision making power over our energy. “Yes” to energy for Coos County, not Coos County being sold to a Canadian fossil fuel company. “Yes” to prohibiting eminent domain for corporate gain and to energy projects that sell-out our future for a thin promise of short-term financial gain.

 

And thanks, in no small part to Jordan Cove’s unprecedented spending the measure garnered international attention and demonstrated in vivid detail that corporations, even foreign corporations have privileges and governmental protections that American citizens and whole communities do not, not the least of which is the right to be the decision makers where we live.

 

Most chillingly the campaign illuminated just how inured society has become to the unfairness of our present system. Opponents claimed the measure would prompt expensive lawsuits costing taxpayers money when in fact it would be the company bringing a lawsuit solely responsible for any costs.  

 

In all the campaign noise generated by the corporate opposition, our community never really got the chance to consider the fundamental question of 6-162, which is should we have the right to stand up for ourselves and protect our air, water and land and private property from clear threats such as the pipeline and Jordan Cove?

 

We have a system today where obedience to centralized authority is necessary for projects like Jordan Cove to exist. Jordan Cove, the federal government, and even certain activist groups want us to accept that we simply have no control and therefore cannot do anything about changing the course of events. This sense of learned helplessness disguised as democracy is deeply embedded in our society.

 

“A System Cannot Fail Those It Was Never Designed To Protect” ~W.E.B. Du Bois

 

There are some of us out there who have been working hard to get out from under the injustice of the system and exercised the important power of direct democracy. Like direct action, direct democracy is most often a path of last resort taken when all other avenues have been exhausted and our legislators and elected officials fail to protect our fundamental rights. Mayor Joe Benetti and Commissioner Melissa Cribbins didn’t speak out for landowners threatened by eminent domain or feign even the slightest interest in what the people of Coos County may really want, instead they rallied to the defense of Jordan Cove hiding behind a system of law that already sides against the average citizen. That’s partly why Measure 6-162 came to be.

 

Measure 6-162 may not be back in front of voters in Coos County again but the question of who decides what happens in our community, what the future of the place we call home looks like, will.  That question may very well be about deciding whether Jordan Cove, the pipeline, and the use of eminent domain for corporate gain is something we here in Coos County want and will allow and what we are willing to do about it.

 

Jordan Cove Energy Cove Energy Partners wasn’t just looking to buy a favorable ballot measure result, they were trying to send a clear message to everyone in the county and all the counties along the pipeline route not to bother trying to protect your private property. Thankfully, more challenges will face Jordan Cove not just here but along the entire length of the Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline.

 

The same corporate campaign group from Portland that was paid to mislead Coos County voters ran a similar campaign against a similar measure to ban aerial spraying in Lincoln County. They employed the same scare tactics and generically non-specific claims about not being “well written” but despite the rhetoric, as of this writing the Yes campaign is ahead by a paper thin 27 votes. Score one for democracy.

 

The Yes on 6-162 campaign would have preferred a historic underdog victory like when heavily outnumbered American forces prevailed against the British at the Battle of Sullivan’s Island in 1776 or a miracle like the 1980 US Olympic victory on ice against the highly favored Russian hockey team. Regrettably, this battle, if not fairly, most squarely goes to the Canadians. Canadians, really!

 

 

 

 




Bob Main opposes giving power to the people

Commissioner Bob Main perfectly demonstrates some of the difficulties contained within a representative democracy. Main, as reported in The World report “Ballot tactics target LNG plan” says he will not defend, if necessary, a democratically enacted local ordinance, namely Measure 6-162. The Coos County Right to a Sustainable Energy Future Ordinance “doesn’t appear like it would pass a legal test” states Main. (Ironic that Main, who actively collected signatures to qualify a local ordinance supposedly to defend the 2nd Amendment and in direct defiance of perceived federal overreach is suddenly concerned about constitutionality.) The ordinance, according to Main, would be hard to defend.

“It may put the county in the position to defend it, which for me, and I can’t speak for the other two commissioners, but I would go ‘O.K. the plaintiff wins’,” said Main. “I mean I can’t defend this thing and I don’t want to spend a lot of money on it.”

Main has my contact information and could have discussed his concerns with me or my fellow petitioner, Pattie Gouveia. For that matter, he might have actually read the initiative before going on the radio or giving interviews. If he had read it he would have seen that under “Enforcement” any resident may enforce the rights and prohibitions through an action in any court possessing jurisdiction within Coos County with or without the County. In fact, should the County violate the ordinance, residents also called “plaintiffs” could bring suit for each violation against the commissioners or “defendants.”  So yeah, I would agree, “plaintiff wins.”

Main also claimed that the language in the ordinance is too broad.

“‘Non-sustainable energy systems,'” he said. “What does that mean? Like it’s wide open; I mean the sun is going to extinguish someday.”

Admittedly, the ordinance is a whopping four and a half pages but if Main had read the section “Definitions” he would see that “non-sustainable energy systems” are very clearly defined.

“Non-sustainable energy systems” means those systems that are controlled by state and federal energy policies, rather than community controlled energy policies; hydroelectric power and industrial scale wind power when it is not locally or municipally owned and operated; energy systems using fossil fuels, including but not limited to coal, natural gas, petroleum products, nuclear and radioactive materials and other fuel sources that are non-renewable, or which produce toxins and substances that cause injury to humans or natural communities and ecosystems, or that are in violation of resident’s right to a sustainable energy future. The phrase shall also include any energy system which violates the rights secured under this Ordinance or under other laws. The term shall not include the combustion of wood or wood products, propane, kerosene, heating oil, coal, or natural gas when those fuels is used solely to generate on-site heat or power and the energy produced is not commercially sold, transmitted, or distributed.

So between now and when the sun finally swallows our planet in its final death throes when it will not matter anyway, the ordinance secures our right to be decision makers in our own community.

All residents in Coos County possess a right to a sustainable energy future, and the people of Coos County have the right to adopt laws and policies to secure that right. That right shall include the authority to require the development, production, and use of sustainable energy.

To be clear, direct democracy is a tool for citizens specifically to work an end run around our elected representatives when legislators cower to corporate privilege and refuse to defend the rights of a community. Main’s pet 2nd amendment ordinance was enacted for precisely that purpose as is Measure 6-162. The latter actually empowers our commissioners to standup to state and federal preemption whereas Main’s ordinance probably does not.

Natural gas infrastructure

Also worth noting in the article is Jordan Cove spokesman, Michael Hinrichs’ confirmation that Veresen views Coos County as just another resource colony.

“We think that it would have negative consequences toward the resource industry in the county,” Hinrichs said. “It certainly goes against the spirit and intents of Jordan Cove.”




Time to exercise our self-governing authority

Oregon State Representative Cliff Bentz (R-Ontario) has introduced House Bill 2480 to literally take power away from the people of Oregon.

 

Introduced on behalf of a corporate lobbying firm and despite President Trump’s inaugural promise to give the power back to the people, HB 2480 would use state preemption to strip communities of their fundamental right to protect themselves from non-sustainable energy infrastructure. “A city, county or other local government may not enact any charter provision, ordinance, resolution or other provision related to regulating the expansion of infrastructure for the primary purpose of transporting or storing fossil fuels.”

 

This is hardly the first time our legislators have worked to supplant local control on behalf of corporations.  Senators Arnie Roblan and Jeff Kruse cosponsored the so-called Monsanto Protection Act that prohibits local communities from banning GMOs. The Farm and Forest Act, forces toxic pesticides on unwilling communities. State preemption prohibits local control over minimum wage, land annexation, housing, and gun control.

 

In a recent tweet about his contested travel ban, Trump indicated Americans should be guaranteed, “…the security and safety to which we are entitled.” Nevertheless, Trump’s recent executive order limiting already inadequate government protections prove, American citizens should not expect “security” from another Wall Street induced global financial crisis and are not, apparently, entitled to clean air and water.

 

Coos and Columbia counties have introduced citizen initiatives to do what state and federal legislators will not do, secure our right to a sustainable energy future. Measure 6-162, The Coos County Right to a Sustainable Energy Future Ordinance on the May 2017 ballot in Coos County will prohibit hydraulic and pneumatic fracturing, coal transportation and the proposed Jordan Cove LNG export terminal and the associated Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline.

 

The bill will preempt Portland’s ban on large fossil-fuel storage facilities and seeks to stop democratically enacted ordinances like Measure 6-162.

 

The natural gas industry contributes to Bentz’ campaign and HB 2480 effectively allows the fossil-fuel industry to do what it wants and violates a community’s local self-governing authority to protect its citizens. In a so-called representative democracy, it’s clear that all too often our legislators represent corporate interests and not the people who elected them.

 

It’s precisely because we live within a system, defended by our own state government, that denies local democratic rights in favor of corporate privilege that communities are turning to direct democracy to change the rules. The Oregon Constitution clearly states “ that all men, when they form a social compact are equal in right… and they have at all times a right to alter, reform, or abolish the government in such manner as they may think proper.—“

 

The hotly contested immigrant travel ban demonstrates that states don’t like giving up governing authority to the federal government any more than counties and municipalities like being preempted by the state. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled against reinstating the ban proving that states can govern independently of the federal government. Local communities also have a fundamental right to self-government.

 

More communities are flexing their self-governing authority. The City of Lafayette, Colorado, is considering an anti-fracking ordinance which aims to preempt the state’s authority in oil and gas development by legalizing non-violent direct action protests that would include sit-ins, strikes, workplace occupations or blockades.

To affirm communities’ right to self-government to reject corporate fossil fuel projects or address housing access, the Oregon Community Rights Network introduced a statewide citizen initiative to amend the Oregon Constitution to recognize community responsibility and authority to protect the health, welfare and safety of citizens. The Right of Local Community Self-Government, allows communities to be the decision makers over that of corporate-backed state preemption like HB 2480.

 

The one-size-fits-all centralized government continues to fail the planet and the working class. In this grand, multi-generations long representative democracy experiment, the poor have gotten poorer and the rich richer. There has been a consistent, widening inequality since the 1970’s such that today 20% now own 85% of the wealth.  In the four decades since we enacted NEPA and established the EPA our environment has continued to degrade and the doomsday clock has ticked forward to within 2.5 minutes to midnight.

 

Time to change the rules in our favor and decentralize the current power structure. As Pattie Gouveia, my co-sponsor on the YES on Measure 6-162 campaign in Coos County, stated, “The transportation, storage, and burning of fossil fuels is absolutely a local issue, whereby the local must be able to assert the greatest authority about what happens in the community. HB 2480 is just another example of the Oregon legislature advancing corporate interests by denying local democratic rights.”

 

Vote Yes on Measure 6-162 this May and support our right to be the decision makers about our energy future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




We need energy democracy in Coos County

President-elect Donald Trump and Secretary Hillary Clinton share some common views, not the least of which is their mutual support for the fossil-fuel industry. Emails obtained from the US State Department by The Intercept revealed how Clinton, who received twice as much in contributions from oil than Trump, during her tenure as Secretary of State worked to promote hydraulic fracturing, or ”fracking”, the highly controversial method of horizontal drilling for oil and gas, across the globe.

The whole point of mentioning this is that, in-light of Jordan Cove’s recent announcement to reapply with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and all the Sturm und Drang about the election results, opponents of the project would be in no better position to protect the environment and landowners even had Clinton won.

Unfortunately, affected landowners and environmental activists are no closer to permanently stopping Jordan Cove today than they were twelve years ago.

Trump and Clinton also agreed on something else. Along with their mutual admiration for fracking both concurred the communities affected should be able to say “no”.  Clinton told reporters in Colorado during the campaign, “I have long been in favor of states and cities within states making up their own minds whether or not they want to permit fracking.”

Trump claimed that “voters should have a say” on whether they want to prohibit fracking in their communities.

Trump’s right.  Democratizing local energy decisions, making up our “own minds” is at the heart of community rights efforts like Measure 6-162, the Coos County Right to a Sustainable Energy Future Ordinance set for the May 2017 ballot. The ordinance will legalize our right to be a sustainable economy. An economy not subject to or dependent upon boards of directors of foreign corporations unable or unwilling to transition beyond 19th century energy technology.

Consider that an October 2016 report produced by global banking executives, the Group of Thirty or G30, notes that the rise of affordable renewable energy along with increasingly stringent climate policies is making the oil industry obsolete. Another reason not to leave our future decision making in the hands of oil and gas executives is that the G30 report also concludes the industry is out of touch and more than half of the $2 trillion in long term debt incurred by the industry “…will never be repaid because the issuing firms comprehend neither how dramatically their industry has changed nor how these changes threaten to soon engulf them.”

The late University of San Francisco business professor, Oren Harari once remarked, “The electric light did not come from the continuous improvement of candles.”

The organization Trade Unions for Energy Democracy [TUED] states in a report entitled Resist, Reclaim, Restructure: Unions and the Struggle for Energy Democracy that the “business as usual” approach of the fossil-fuel industry does not benefit or protect energy workers and it “opposes the idea that the commodification of nature is key to solving the profound ecological crisis we face as a species. It regards the idea of putting a price on ‘natural resources’ in order to make capitalism green and sustainable as plainly false and deeply perverse.”

The clash in North Dakota between the Dakota Access Pipeline developers and the Standing Rock Sioux has demonstrated one thing very clearly.  Our current system of laws make saying NO to harmful, non-sustainable industrial practices that pollute air and water illegal and makes poisoning air and water perfectly legal. Protecting our own communities and homes is a crime.

Militarized police deployed to protect corporate interests from unarmed civilians trying to protect the land and water for future generations. Appalled by the unchecked use of rubber bullets, teargas canisters, percussion grenades and the use of water cannons on the Sioux in subfreezing temperatures, 4,000 US veterans arrived to act as human shields.  Combat veterans remarked that even in Iraq and Afghanistan there are “rules of engagement.” Organized in just three weeks, the Veteran Stand, as they called themselves, may be the largest unarmed militia in US history.

It is no coincidence that on December 4, the day of the veterans arrival to the Standing Rock camp, the Army Corps of Engineers, on a Sunday afternoon, issued a temporary stay blocking the company from drilling under the Missouri River pending further environmental review.

Indifferent to the tribe’s concerns, the company behind the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners, vows to drill anyway confident that the new administration and the law is on its side. In fact the company declares it has played by all the rules. Admirable, unless the rules are already stacked heavily on your side.

Remember, that our history is rife with citizens defying unjust laws, committing acts of civil disobedience and pushing to amend the government or revoke their consent to be governed. Thank goodness they did or there might still be no abolition or suffrage or freedom of speech or due process in this “democracy.”

TUED affirms what we in the community rights movement are fighting for across the country and here in Coos County.

“An energy transition can only occur if there is a decisive shift in power towards workers, communities and the public—energy democracy. A transfer of resources, capital and infrastructure from private hands to a democratically controlled public sector will need to occur in order to ensure that a truly sustainable energy system is developed in the decades ahead.”

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