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You Dropped the Bomb 

Two great big Earth-shattering pieces of news came down the pike last week, and for various reasons we’re not going to treat either one with any degree of completeness.

One: Dateline, Corpus Christi, Texas. The Pacific Lumber Co., which filed bankruptcy in January, submitted its long-awaited reorganization plan on Monday. In brief, how does the Scotia-based timber giant propose to get back on its feet? By subdividing 22,000 acres of its timber land into 160-acre “ranchette” parcels, and by convincing the government to buy another 6,600 acres of old-growth redwood. The land for sale would comprise a hefty swath of Pacific Lumber’s holdings in the northern part of the county, a continuous chunk of land between Fortuna and Kneeland.

The company seems to think that it can pocket big dollars on such a real estate play. It values the 6,600 acres of old growth at $400 million, which seems very, very high. Second, the company seems to think that it can pocket about $5.7 million per 160-acre ranchette, which seems batshit-insane. Right now, there’s a 3,800-acre ranch in Petrolia with Mattole River frontage listed for $3.8 million. There’s a 1,100-acre ranch near Ferndale with a home and ocean views listed for $4.5 million. Look for opponents of Palco’s parent corporation, Maxxam Corp., to challenge the company to explain how it’s going to get over $5 million each for over 130 little 160-acre parcels. And look for local government to start flipping out over the idea of little “trophy” ranchettes sprawling out over a big old stretch of timber land.

Second: The city of Novato just filed a comprehensively damning lawsuit against the defunct North Coast Railroad Authority, which asks the court to shut down all work being done on the southern end of the publicly owned railroad until such time as the authority files a comprehensive environmental impact report on its planned operations. It’s a major blow for those Humboldt County politicos who hold true to the dream of bringing rail and cargo shipping back to Eureka. More next week.

“Which cider you on?” Such is the slogan for the “Clif Clendenen for Supervisor” campaign, at least as proposed by an unusually clever blog-infesting anonymouse a few days ago. Clendenen, whose family has run Fortuna’s premier commercial apple orchard for the last 100 years or so, last week announced that come next year he would be challenging four-term Second District Supervisor and vinegar-pissing cowboy Roger Rodoni.

Or, rather, we assume that he’ll be challenging Rodoni. For the last couple of weeks, Rodoni himself has been on a hunting trip and out of the reach of modern telecommunications. (Clendenen’s timing demonstrates a remarkable degree of political savvy, for a neophyte; note that he waits until Roger and his guns are safely out of the county.)

Clendenen’s entry into the fray could be the first sign of a spicy Spring 2008 election down in the Schizophrenic Second, which takes in redneck-dominated Fortuna, Rio Dell and Scotia as well as the elderly, patchouli-reeking freaks in the hills around Garberville. Rodoni’s kept a firm grip on the place by a) staying true to his cowboy roots, and friendly with resource extraction industries, and b) promoting a libertarian, live-and-let-live attitude toward marijuana cultivation, which by itself wins him much of the hippie heart. For 12 years, this simple formula has proven uncrackable.

But now, with the Maxxam Corp. name equaling mud in the conservative Eel River Valley and beyond, some are thinking the equation has changed. Clendenen, a friendly, middle-of-the-road guy whose surname is just about synonymous with Fortuna, may have a shot, the thinking goes. But there’s an X factor in the equation — Estelle Fennell, the longtime news director at Redway public radio station KMUD, who just stepped down from her post last month. Fennell hasn’t made an announcement yet, but she’s certainly been toying with the idea.

Now comes word that some Second Districters are freaked by the idea of having two anti-Rodoni candidates in the mix at once. If possible, they’d prefer to get all Rodoni opponents rowing in the same direction from the start. To that end, a group of 20 or 30 SoHum anti-Rodonites who have been meeting regularly for a few months now recently invited both the pro-Clendenen and pro-Fennell forces to a powwow, to see if some sort of arrangement couldn’t be reached. This according to the person who was brought in to facilitate the group — Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap of the Eureka-based progressive electioneering coalition Local Solutions.

Sopoci-Belknap said that contrary to rumor, the group she has been facilitating didn’t try to push Fennell or Clendenen out of the race. No threats were made. It’s just that even though there will be a runoff election in 2008, so long as Rodoni garners less than half the vote, there’s obvious advantages to having a narrow field from the beginning.

“That’s just what this group has been feeling — that Roger is a long-time incumbent, and it would be better if everyone were united behind that candidate,” Sopoci-Belknap said. But she said members of her group had different opinions about which of the challengers to support, and neither Fennell nor Clendenen seemed inclined to step aside. But she said it’s no big deal: “No one is interested in this being a contentious thing.”

Steven Glazer, the big-city PR dude flacking for Eureka kazillionaire Rob Arkley, wrote to correct some info we published last week (“The Town Dandy,” Sept. 27). Turns out that we’d misheard him when he said that in the ’70s he had served as then-Gov. Jerry Brown’s “press secretary.” In fact, Glazer says, he served Brown in various capacities through the years, but he was never Brown’s press secretary. However, he was Gray Davis’ press secretary when Davis was in the Assembly, and he also served as head of communications for Jerry Brown’s sister Kathleen when she ran for governor in 1994. Also, though he was former State Supreme Court Justice Rose Bird’s spokesperson, he held that office in the mid-’80s, not the late ’70s.

Sorry for the errors, Steven. I guess that at some points during our interview my eyes sort of “glazed” over. Ha ha!

One thing’s a fact — as reported, Glazer is in fact the mayor of the Bay Area city of Orinda. We know for sure now because we’ve also heard from a couple of residents of that town who wrote in after reading last week’s column. Those fellow citizens wished to clear up a mystery that Glazer himself was reluctant to elaborate upon. That is: What is Glazer’s role in the proposed Marina Center development, the Home Depot-anchored project that the Arkleys propose to build on the Eureka waterfront?

When Glazer popped his head up week before last, he said that he would be acting as spokesperson in regards to the “Alleged Arkley Aggression at Avalon,” in which the titular character allegedly shoved Eureka City Councilmember Larry Glass, told Glass that he’d had him tailed, called him a liar and threatened to “destroy” him if he refused to support Marina Center (see “The Town Dandy,” Sept. 13). In the midst of delivering the Arkley perspective on this episode — that Mr. A was a family man, just trying to defend the honor of his young daughters — Glazer mentioned that he had also been working on Marina Center for the past year and a half or so. What had he done?

Well, one of the alert Orindans who wrote me couldn’t say for sure, but s/he wished to point me to the Sonoma County town of Cotati, circa 2003. That city had a big battle over whether or not to allow another big box outlet (Lowe’s, in this case) to come to town. The developer who wanted to bring Lowe’s in — Newman Development Group, out of New York — put a measure on the Cotati ballot that would change the town’s zoning to permit the development. Newman Development’s on-the-ground man for the campaign: Steven Glazer. He led the battle against a citizens’ group that had formed to oppose Lowe’s, and ended up winning the battle by a margin of 34 votes.

Our Orinda correspondent apparently isn’t a fan. “[I]f you study carefully how Glazer has worked — successfully — in Cotati and other communities to override local zoning,” s/he writes, “you will have a very good idea what he plans for Orinda.” Off my beat, dear reader, but thanks for writing.

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Hank Sims

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