You Fine-Haired Sons of Bitches
By Bruce Anderson - Anderson Valley Advertiser, January 31, 1990.
The legendary Black Bart, bandit and dandy, applied that phrase to his enemies in law enforcement, the sleek, snake-tongues of the last century who could steal with pens instead of shotguns. If old Bart were around today, he might just as appropriately use it to describe some of the panelists and one of the moderators at the first Justice William O. Douglas Society's Public Forum on timber two Monday's ago at Mendocino College. There they were, slick and confident: Congressman Bosco, Shep Tucker of Louisiana-Pacific and Wayne Miller and Pete Passof, big timber's old faithfuls, standing like bookends at either end of the ten-person panel. Miller is fine-haired for sure, a smug and pompous man with the instincts of a Romanian secret policeman. At the slightest hint of an irreverent or disrespectful comment directed at either L-P's Tucker or our irritable Congressman, Miller was quick to rule the questioner out of order. Miller is always introduced as the Chairman of the Mendocino County Forest Advisory Committee. His real function, and apparent mission in life, is to see to it that the timber giants get away with their plunder of the Redwood Empire. I first saw him a year ago when he presided over a dinner of timber stooges and assorted fat cats where Bosco, the guest speaker, delivered his famous coming out for plunder speech, a cowardly and demagogic attack on environmentalists to an audience that lapped it up. That affair, following a bended-knee introduction of the Congressman, Miller sat smiling at Bosco's harangue, a large, confident smile plastered on his smooth, pink face. He permitted no questions after Bosco's speech, not that there would have been many. Why ask questions when you know all the answers? The audience of wealthy timber owners and timber company executives chuckled to themselves all the way out into the parking lot. "Good old Doug," one cartoon capitalist laughed to another, "I always knew he was with us." Mendocino County's ruling class think even the area's neutered democrats are closet Bolsheviks. But they've known for: some time they have nothing to fear from Bosco.
Few of the three hundred or so people present at the Monday night Forum seemed to know that Miller is the main man for the area's Timber Association. Wherever timber is discussed, expect to see the local industry's ideological cop, Wayne Miller, either in charge of the discussion or in position to throttle it. On the other end of the unwieldy panel was another old industry drumbeater, Pete Passof, from the Mendocino County Agriculture Office, University of California. Northern California's pseudo-academic community has been a big help to the timber corporations. Need a fancy-sounding justification for desertification in the form of clearcuts? Give the boys in the college Forestry Departments a ring. They'll think of something.
The sponsors of the evening were the newly formed Douglas Society, "dedicated to facilitating public debate on issues before they become realities." Unfortunately, the Society's first topic was an issue that became a reality about five years ago, when the dominant corporations in Mendocino County decided to make 'as much money as fast as possible with no regard for the future of the timber resource of the area.
The Douglas Society's Montana Podva, a Willits attorney, might consider serving as moderator himself for future events, as he frequently intervened with humor and grace to rescue Miller from an unruly speaker from the floor. The Douglas Society is an idea whose time has come. There has never been a venue in this County where ideological disputants could argue under civilized auspices. Conservatives are understandably reluctant to appear at public events, because whenever they do they are subject to verbal abuse and unpleasant confrontations. On this particular evening, Judi Bari of Earth First!, a gifted disrupter, was fairly restrained, limiting herself to speaking when the rules of the evening said she could." Actually," she said the next day, "I was tired. One of my kids was sick so I was up all night the day before. I wanted to be much more disruptive than I was. It was a very wimpy panel." Bari makes the point that ordinarily the right-wing doesn't permit our side to be heard, so we're forced into disruption to be heard at all. Miller and a handful of female purple hairs in the audience seemed to be the only people unhappy with what turned out to be the vigor of the discussion. Bari's definition of wimp is overbroad. These panels are a real opportunity for the liberal-left to make its case. I'm happy the event wasn't ruined by the usual left posturing that's wrecked so many other local political gatherings.
Of the ten panelists, only three were big timber whores: Shep Tucker from L-P, Allen Overfield, a forester from Georgia-Pacific and, of course, Congressman Bosco, whose roll-me-over-and-do-it again promiscuity has never been limited to the timber corporations. Bosco will do it with anybody whose got the money. The other panelists included Supervisor Jim Eddie Who always brings a stabilizing commonsense and integrity to inflammatory discussions; Kathy Bailey of Philo, representing the Forest Forever Initiative; Hans Burkhardt, an environmental idealist whose knowledge of timber issues and commitment to sensible forest practices led to the formation of the Mendocino County Forest Advisory Committee; John Teie, California Department of Forestry; and Linda Bailey, a water-resources attorney. A healthy percentage of environmentalists will argue that Don Nelson and Jim Little of Harwood belong over with Tucker and Bosco in their perceived fundamental allegiance to the big boys of the business. But both men are a long way from party liners, as their comments on the evening made clear.
Ten people on one panel is about six too many. Three people on a public panel seating Bosco and Tucker would be too many. The pair is widely perceived as the source of the timber problem in Mendocino County; if not the source, certainly not the solution. They got most of the attention.
In the royal style of today's career office holders, Bosco seldom makes public appearances. He is of course readily available to the rich and the powerful he serves so faithfully. His father-in-law, Victor Guynup, is a Eureka log exporter. 90% of all the raw logs shipped overseas are shipped from facilities owned by Guynup. The old man is frequently heard boasting about his son-in-law, the Congressman. Bosco's Annual Congressional financial statement lists a business partnership between the Congressman and the Northcoast's primary log exporter Tucker, L-P's public relations man, is frightening,, He's a sleek, young, articulate, very bright guy who obviously has never had a doubt or a second thought about the righteousness of what he does to earn a living. Tucker may be a psychopath. He lies well and enthusiastically. He doesn't get rattled. Tucker is very good at his job. Bosco, by way of contrast, gets mad real fast - petulant even - when challenged.
No sooner had the large audience finished reciting the pledge of allegiance, the only real extortion of the evening, than Judi Bari was on her feet complaining about the unrepresentative composition of the panel. Podva, the Douglas Society organizer, said, "We would be glad to organize a second forum with you on it. I am myself a contributor to Earth First! I understand what you are saying." Podva introduced an infant he was holding as his son, "Forest." Podva hoped out loud, "I want a forest for him to enjoy. when he grows up." Bari seemed mollified by Podva's answer, as Tucker, in response to the first question of the evening, led things off for the bad guys with the preposterous statement, "L-P is learning to protect water quality, but if the interference from environmentalists with private landholders continues, we will be forced to subdivide more and more of our land." Tuckers claim that the giant timber company was "learning" after years in the business brought audible derision.
Bosco announced he was one-fifth of a five-party closed-door meeting in Sacramento scheduled for some time soon with Assemblyman Hauser, Senator Keene and Harry Merlo, president of L-P, and Charles Hurwitz, the Houston take-over artist presently looting the Pacific Lumber Company of Scotia. "Well make life miserable for them if they hurt this area. We can cut off their access to timber on federal land," Bosco promised. He went on to say he expected a "reasonable" consensus of agreement between the politicians and the timber barons. A Willits man cynically predicted a post-election announcement from the Congressman that a "reasonable" agreement had been reached to log the Ukiah City Park in return for a ten-minute moratorium on the accelerated cut in the Mendocino National Forest. L-P's Tucker said his company's move to Mexico was being made to take advantage of the warm weather south of the border, perfect for drying all those exported 2x4's and 2x6's that used to be finished off in America by American workers at wages that at least paid the rent. "Labor costs are a key concern too," Tucker conceded, as if peon wages were simply one of many reasons for L-P's Mexico move. "Mexico has labor unions and Mexico has environmental protection laws," Tucker, always earnest, his Boy Scout's face leaning forward to emphasize his pure hearted respect for the devastated land to the south. "I know," Tucker admitted, "I'm about as popular with you people as the skipper of the Valdez."
"Not quite that popular," came a spirited correction from the audience to much laughter.
Bosco pointed out that Canadian competition has forced major American timber companies to protect themselves by over cutting and by exploiting unprotected Mexican labor. Bosco sees corporate predation as perfectly logical. "Why the Santa Rosa Press Democrat itself and its parent company, The New York Times, buys most of their newsprint from Canada. The New York Times owns pulp mills in Canada," the Congressman said. Mike Koepf of Fort Bragg, a two-time opponent of Bosco in past democratic Congressional primaries, asked the Congressman why L-P couldn't set up a wood-drying operation in the California desert where it's as hot as Mexico. Bosco wasn't able to reply. He moved to answer Koepf's second question which asked the Congressman if he recalled an '86 campaign promise to introduce restrictive legislation against Pacific Lumber if the company, under the rapacious leadership of Charles Hurwitz, began to wreck the company by over cutting. Bosco admitted Pacific Lumber, as L-P and G-P, had dangerously accelerated the Northcoast harvest. "It is time to begin to pressure Pacific," Bosco said. But he went on to claim that the previous owners of Pacific Lumber, the Murphy family, had not only radically underestimated the extent and value of their holdings, they had also brought misfortune on themselves when they exposed their business to the wolves by listing themselves as a public company and began raising money on Wall Street. Enter Hurwitz. Goodbye worker's pension fund, goodbye trees, goodbye jobs. But Bosco blithely said that all had worked out fairly well, because more people are employed in the Redwood Empire than ever before, ignoring the point that speaker after speaker made: the over cut underway provides short-term work, but over the long haul it will be a catastrophe for the area. Bosco said no prob. "I do believe local over cuts are occurring, but by this time next year new light industries will be settling here," the Congressman predicted. I imagined for a wild moment a Mendocino Cargo Cult waiting vainly for years at the Sonoma County line for light industry to appear.
Bosco, as usual when confronted by hostile questioners and sarcastic remarks, began to get angry. The man has no humor. He' isn't able to jokingly deflect criticism. In his isolated arrogance he doesn't often hear from real people. Whenever he does, he doesn't like it. Walter Smith, an independent logger from Willits, told Bosco, "Don't blame it on the Canadians. L-P and G-P were over cutting long before the Canadians." David Drell, also of Willits, asked Bosco why the Forest Service continues to use the ominously poisonous 2,4-D on federal timber lands. Bosco said the stuff was kept well away from population centers and water supplies. There is much documentation to the contrary, as Drell can undoubtedly provide.
Jim Eddie, the County supervisor representing a good hunk of the area most intensely logged, observed that the arrangement for L-P to set up shop in Mexico was hardly reciprocal. "American trucks can't even go into Mexico," Eddie complained. The supervisor also spoke to the difficulty of assigning responsibility for devastating economic events such as those occurring here recently. "There is a big problem identifying stockholders in these days of junk bonds. It's impossible to tell who's in charge," Eddie lamented. The evening's host, attorney Podva, broke in to put things into an ominous perspective. "A hundred years ago there were lumber mills in Marin. There haven't been lumber mills in Marin for a century. There is one mill left in all of Sonoma County. We know from what happened down there what is going to happen to us unless something is done. We have human locusts devouring Mendocino County trees."
The officious Wayne Miller, grey locks flowing behind him like some trailer park version of General Custer, announced in the sweet tones of a medieval footman that the Congressman "had to get back to Washington at the break, so better hurry up those questions to' him." Being this wonderful, busy guy, the corporate bagman, our Congressman. As Bosco gracelessly took the evening's flak up front, his reptilian aide, Nick Tibbitts, worked the rich people in the room. The local kulaks, many of them registered Democrats (who needs to be a Republican when we've got Bosco and Hauser? is the kulaks right-on reasoning) were out in significant numbers. Many of them own small timber tracts. They vote. They give money to Bosco. Needless to say, Bosco is their kind of guy - greedy, acquisitive, fundamentally corrupt. The both of them, Bosco and Tibbitts, are so obviously false, such blatant ass-nuzzlers, it's surprising to watch them in action without expecting some sort of visible nausea to settle over the crowd like mustard gas. But small fry like the' local ruling class will take tribute from whomever it's offered. Tibbitts was hustling up and down the aisles with personal greetings for each and every one of them. The rest of us got nervous glances.
For pure, self-serving hypocrisy, the passionate speech of Richard Wilson of Covelo, speaking from the audience, was the night's winner. Wilson suggested that timber revenues from the cut in the Mendocino National Forest be diverted from roads and schools back into timberlands, including his. Wilson is a wealthy welfare rancher who enjoys sweetheart arrangements with the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management to graze his cows in both the Yolly Bolly (a Wilderness Area!) and the Mendocino National Forest. For the rare few of you who've visited the Yolly Bolly, hiking way in only to find cows and cow pies all over everything that's left after the cows have trampled the vegetation to dust, I want you to know those cows are probably Wilson's. Let me suggest you take a gun with you if you ever hike into the Yolly Bolly. Try some campfire steak courtesy of this Wilson character. Almost as distressing is the destruction of the Mendocino National Forest where logging roads, over cuts and pure industrial ravage make a tame Winnebago campground like Philo's Hendy Woods look as wild as the heart of Borneo. Wilson concluded his begging spiel with the sarcasm,` "Do you think, Congressman, Congress is smart enough to enact positive incentives for timber holders?"
Sensible, sincere presentations were made by Kathy Bailey of the Forest Initiative, Hans Burkhardt, of the Forest Advisory Committee and Louis Korn, who, in his quietly forceful, inimitable way, put the, looming death of the planet on the plate in front of us. "We don't have to kill trees to build things," Louis; began, ending with, "Mankind itself is now an endangered species." Burkhardt offered the efficient way around the linguistic debate on how to describe the rape of the forests. The industry likes to sit around; with well-meaning but naive environmentalists trying to come up with precise definitions of terms like "sustained yield." While the discussion goes on, so does the cut, the moves to Mexico, the log exports to the Far East. The industry approaches their critics like the Viet Cong, "fight and talk, talk and fight."
After the break and the Congressman's departure, Judi Bari of Earth First! was appointed by acclamation to replace the Congressman on the panel. That's right, Judi Bari, Earth Firsts Emma Goldman. She's a great public speaker with both the volume and the information to say what's on her mind without being distracted by the inevitable interruptions. Bari gets it out there loud and fast. She didn't waste much time replacing the Congressman. Jim Little of Laytonville's family-owned timber business, Harwood's, had just described the meetings his company had been having for months with Earth First! Little explained without trying (and maybe unintentionally) the large differences between a logging business truly committed to the long-term prosperity of their host community and the rape and run tactics of outside-controlled giants like L-P and GP. Little admitted that the Harwoods were trying to find a way to stay in the area without destroying the resource. "Maybe under capitalism the forests can't be preserved," Little said, startling the hell out of me among other people, "Maybe we need to find some other method, some solution." Little added, in a hasty, frightened footnote, "I am a capitalist and I'm opposed to public ownership," as he drifted into dangerous philosophical territory. "Capitalism" is seldom said right out loud. Mere mention of public ownership of resources gets people dialing 911 for the FBI.
Judi Bari broke through the fog. "Maybe the solution you're looking for is employee ownership." The level of audience attentiveness was suddenly ratcheted up a good 50%. The bland pieties were over now for sure. The purple hairs looked anxiously at each other, silently saying to themselves, "Here it comes." Bari went on to put it all in neat perspective.
"We're facing a desperate situation in this County. We're controlled by the giant corporations bent on destruction of the redwood ecosystem to feed the gluttony of a couple of millionaires, Merlo and Hurwitz. These people are corporate criminals whose attitudes toward the workers are as careless as their attitudes :towards the forests and the rivers. L-P poisoned Ukiah's water for years, then only got a slap on the wrist. They killed Fortunado Reyes at their Ukiah mill when he was crushed by a load of lumber after being ridiculed for using the emergency stop to clear the line. And this guy, Shep Tucker," Bari said, with a contemptuous gesture in the general direction of L-P's robotic pr man, "at the time of Fortunado's death said only 'Oh, well, it's dangerous to work in a mill. L-P was fined $1,200 for murder, which they appealed as being too high. What value does L-P put on a worker's life when $1,200 is too high? They're wiping out baby trees and killing workers. This isn't logging, it's liquidation. And these people don't care about jobs. They're using machines in the woods called feller-bunchers that replace woods workers. G-P clearcuts from Fort Bragg to Willits, making more money than they've ever made in history, then cut workers' pay 25%. G-P uses the millions they've ripped off from their workers to buy another conglomerate in a hostile takeover. They dump PCBs on their workers then lie about it. Bosco, G-P and L-P are telling us to look at economic alternatives after they've wrecked this area!"
The immoderate moderator, Wayne Miller, was literally hopping up and down on one foot to try to shut Bari up as she wrapped up her brilliant impromptu overview. Bari ran right over him. "I've got only two more sentences, then I'm finished. Two hundred years ago the divine right of kings was widely recognized as an excuse to do pretty much whatever the kings wanted. Now it's the divine right of corporations. It's time for us to get past divine rights for anybody. Things have a right to exist for themselves and not for the profit of L-P and G-P." Bari stopped talking to enthusiastic applause. The evening was ended. The Douglas Society had had their first dialogue, the corporate apologists learned there's real opposition in the area for the first time, and the rest of us got to see what some of our enemies looked like up close. Let's do it again soon.