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Manne's tirade


It came as small surprise to us, and we expect to many members of the community, that the Pacific Lumber Co. had bankrolled a last-minute push for signatures to get the recall of District Attorney Paul Gallegos placed on the ballot next March.

According to CEO Robert Manne, the company provided "$40,000 in `in-kind' support of the signature gathering effort." The Oct. 24 letter, addressed to company employees, represents a switch. Previously PL, the target of a multi-million dollar fraud suit brought by Gallegos, had stated that it would not take a stand in the recall effort.

There is nothing illegal about this, although it sets a terrible precedent. What happens the next time a Humboldt County district attorney decides to take on one of the big guys? Answer: If Gallegos is recalled, the question likely won't arise as future DA's will be loathe to risk the wrath of any company, or any individual for that matter, with deep pockets. Ask Gray Davis -- getting booted out of office isn't fun.

We were more taken aback by Manne's incendiary rhetoric against those he obviously considers to be his enemies. Included in this axis of evil are the DA's office, the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, the Environmental Protection Information Center and residents of the Freshwater area. All, according to Manne, are lacking in "character" and "integrity."

"The only conclusion I can reach as to why they continue their attacks against us is that they lead empty lives and need to put blame on everything around them in order to negatively impact those that are happier than them," Manne wrote. "This gives them power with their constituents and importance in the eyes of their friends and other PALCO haters."

This kind of language is needless and potentially dangerous. Maybe Manne was so frustrated that he simply had to vent. Or perhaps he was deliberately trying to further divide the community by throwing fuel on the smoldering resentment that has been building for years between his company and its critics.

Either way, such a statement from the CEO of one of the county's most important economic players is unacceptable. Don't forget that it was an angry logger that felled the redwood which crushed activist David "Gypsy" Chain in 1998.

We call on Manne to publicly apologize, although we're not going to hold our breath. At the least, he should consider the example of his predecessor, John Campbell, the personable Aussie who led the company through the stormy `90s.

Campbell was far from perfect, and who knows what he said privately about his opponents. But if he had any contempt in him, at least he was smart enough not to show it.




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