Tuesday, February 21, 2017

White nationalist Richard Spencer attempts to troll Libertarian conference and is promptly rejected

White nationalist Richard Spencer attempts to troll Libertarian conference and is promptly rejected

 
Richard Spencer, who leads a movement that mixes racism, white nationalism and populism, raises his fist as he speaks Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016, in College Station, Texas. Texas A&M officials say they didn't schedule the speech by Spencer, who was invited to speak by a former student who reserved campus space available to the public. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
According to Reason’s Robby Soave, white nationalist and alt-right leader Richard Spencer attempted to crash a Libertarian gathering in Washington D.C., but after a heated argument with one of its famous attendees, Spencer was escorted out.
The incident happened Saturday night during 10th annual International Students for Liberty Conference at the the Marriott Wardman in Woodley Park where the event was being held. Spencer reportedly attempted to host an “unscheduled and unwanted conversation” at the bar of the hotel regarding his pro-white nationalist views with attendees.
According to economist and author Steve Horowitz, the group “Hoppe Caucus” — a group of “alt-right libertarians” named after philosopher Hans-Hermann Hoppe — intended to bring Spencer to the hotel at the same time as the ISL conference as an intentional troll, even including a sign that said “Richard Spencer ISFLC 17.”
Soave gives more details of Spencer’s time at the hotel, and his inevitable departure.
Eventually, Jeffrey Tucker—an influential libertarian thinker—confronted Spencer and made clear to the alt-right provocateur that he “did not belong” at ISFLC. Some shouting ensued, and hotel staff intervened. Shortly thereafter, Spencer left.
It’s not completely clear whether Spencer departed of his own accord: he seems to think he was forced to leave, while others say he asked security to see him out safely, even though he was in no danger. But it hardly matters: the Marriott Wardman hotel is private property, and should enjoy the absolute right to evict irksome and unwelcome guests from its premises.
Horowitz says that when conference attendees heard Spencer was at the bar, and number went to confront him. At first there was an attempt at rational discussion, but as the crowd grew in size, and the shouting match between Spencer and Tucker grew heated, the hotel staff saw fit to kick everyone out of the bar. Spencer reportedly asked to be escorted out for his own safety, though Horowitz denies that Spencer was ever in any danger.
You can watch video of the exchange between Spencer and Tucker below:

One common theme many of the Libertarians discussing this incident share is that Spencer, and the alt-right are not welcome amongst the Libertarians. As the Libertarians of SFL demonstrated, and Soave writes into words, “the incident should make abundantly clear that the alt-right’s racism is incompatible with the principles of a free society. Libertarianism is an individualist philosophy that considers all people deserving of equal rights. In contrast, Spencer is a tribalist and collectivist whose personal commitment to identity politics vastly exceeds the left’s.”
As well, the SFL President Wolf von Laer said in a statement that his organization did not invite Spencer, and that they “reject his hateful message and we wholeheartedly oppose his obsolete ideology.”

Monday, February 20, 2017

Flush this attempt to hike taxes down the drain


Flush this attempt to hike taxes down the drain



Feb. 9, 2017

Updated Feb. 12, 2017 10:29 a.m.

By ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER EDITORIAL BOARD

Rainwater spills over a clogged storm drain Tuesday, Jan 5, 2016, in San Leandro, Calif.AP PHOTO/BEN MARGOT


California voters have said emphatically, and repeatedly, that they want to vote on tax increases, but some lawmakers just don’t want to hear it.

A new bill by state Sen. Robert Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, could lead to significantly higher property tax bills without voter approval. Senate Bill 231 would accomplish this by changing the legal definition of “sewer service” to include stormwater, allowing local governments to charge property owners for the construction and operation of stormwater management projects.

Under Proposition 218, passed by voters in 1996, citizens have the right to vote on taxes, fees and assessments, with three exceptions: trash, water and sewer service.

A 2002 state appeals court ruling said stormwater was not included in these exceptions. Consequently, taxes, fees and assessments for stormwater projects must be approved by two-thirds of voters.

Sen. Hertzberg thinks the court got it wrong, so SB231 would simply redefine “sewer” and “sewer service” to include stormwater and storm drains.

The cost could be considerable. Under federal and state law, state regulators require cities in California to comply with a special permit to discharge stormwater through storm drain systems. The MS4 permit, as it’s known, mandates stormwater capture and the reduction of pollutants.

A California Supreme Court ruling last year indicated that parts of this permit may be a state mandate, meaning the state would have to pay for it, unless local agencies have the means to pay for it themselves.

By changing the definition of “sewer,” Hertzberg’s bill would give them the means: higher taxes with no need for voter approval.

The cost of stormwater permit compliance for cities in L.A. County alone has been estimated at $20 billion. Property tax bills could rise by hundreds or thousands of dollars to pay for it.

This is Hertzberg’s second attempt to pass a bill redefining “sewer” to get around the requirements of Proposition 218. Last August, SB1298 was on the verge of passing when it was derailed by a surge of opposition from taxpayers and many local government officials.

It doesn’t smell any better now. Californians have the right to vote on taxes. There should be no confusion about the meaning of that.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Fable: PRIDE GOETH BEFORE A FALL

PRIDE GOETH BEFORE A FALL

[160] IN a certain village there lived ten cloth merchants, who always went about together. Once upon a time they had travelled far afield, and were returning home with a great deal of money which they had obtained by selling their wares. Now there happened to be a dense forest near their village, and this they reached early one morning. In it there lived three notorious robbers, of whose existence the traders had never heard, and while they were still in the middle of it the robbers stood before them, with swords and cudgels in their hands, and ordered them to lay down all they had. The traders had no weapons with them, and so, though they were many more in number, they had to submit themselves to the robbers, who took away everything from them, even the very clothes they wore, and gave to each only a small loin-cloth a span in breadth and a cubit in length.
The idea that they had conquered ten men and plundered all their property, now took possession of the robbers' minds. They seated themselves like three monarchs before the men they had plundered, and ordered them to dance to them before returning home. The merchants now [161] mourned their fate. They had lost all they had, except their loin-cloth, and still the robbers were not satisfied, but ordered them to dance.
There was, among the ten merchants, one who was very clever. He pondered over the calamity that had come upon him and his friends, the dance they would have to perform, and the magnificent manner in which the three robbers had seated themselves on the grass. At the same time he observed that these last had placed their weapons on the ground, in the assurance of having thoroughly cowed the traders, who were now commencing to dance. So he took the lead in the dance, and, as a song is always sung by the leader on such occasions, to which the rest keep time with hands and feet, he thus began to sing:
"We are enty men,
They are erith men:
If each erith man,
Surround eno men
Eno man remains.
Tâ, tai, tôm, tadingana."
The robbers were all uneducated, and thought that the leader was merely singing a song as usual. So it was in one sense; for the leader commenced from a distance, and had sung the song over twice before he and his companions commenced to approach the robbers. They had understood his [162] meaning, because they had been trained in trade.
When two traders discuss the price of an article in the presence of a purchaser, they use a riddling sort of language.
"What is the price of this cloth?" one trader will ask another.
"Enty rupees," another will reply, meaning "ten rupees."
Thus, there is no possibility of the purchaser knowing what is meant unless he be acquainted with trade language. By the rules of this secret language erith means "three," enty means "ten," and eno means "one." So the leader by his song meant to hint to his fellow-traders that they were ten men, the robbers only three, that if three pounced upon each of the robbers, nine of them could hold them down, while the remaining one bound the robbers' hands and feet.
The three thieves, glorying in their [163] victory, and little understanding the meaning of the song and the intentions of the dancers, were proudly seated chewing betel and tobacco. Meanwhile the song was sung a third time. Tâ tai tôm  had left the lips of the singer; and, before tadingana  was out of them, the traders separated into parties of three, and each party pounced upon a thief. The remaining one—the leader himself—tore up into long narrow strips a large piece of cloth, six cubits long, and tied the hands and feet of the robbers. These were entirely humbled now, and rolled on the ground like three bags of rice!
The ten traders now took back all their property, and armed themselves with the swords and cudgels of their enemies; and when they reached their village, they often amused their friends and relatives by relating their adventure.

The Unbalanced Cost of PCE Spills


The Unbalanced Cost of PCE Spills


Written by Jeff Carnahan, L.P.G., Senior Project Manager, EnviroForensics.
As seen in the August 2011 issue of Cleaner & Launderer

As nearly all dry cleaners have become keenly aware, the use of tetrachloroethylene (PCE) in the textiles industry and the management of wastes resulting from its use have become as heavily regulated as nearly any other industrial chemical to date.  In fact, environmental concerns resulting from the current or historical use of PCE are practically as common as those arising from gasoline stations.  As discovered by an increasing number of dry cleaner owners or operators; however, the amount of time and money that is required to investigate and ultimately clean-up sites that have been impacted with PCE can be several times higher than at typical gas station sites.  Additionally, it seems that PCE releases are on every regulator’s radar these days.  This article discusses a few of the complicating factors about PCE releases that make them so unique. 
PCE is Heavier than Water
Part of the reason that PCE releases are so challenging to investigate and remediate pertains to the properties of the chemical itself.  The specific gravity of PCE solvent is 1.6230, which means that it is over 60% heavier than water under normal conditions.  This characteristic makes it possible to recover and reuse solvent from mixtures with water in gravity separators.  To demonstrate, let’s first look at the example of how petroleum releases behave in the subsurface. 
Petroleum products, including Stoddard solvent, are less dense than water.  A significant release of gasoline or petroleum solvent will typically travel downward through soils where a portion of the impacts will have a propensity to be caught up in the soil matrix.  Once a petroleum spill reaches the groundwater table it floats and migrates horizontally.  As a result, most petroleum releases are fairly shallow in nature and comparatively simple to reach for remediation purposes. 
Releases of chlorinated solvents, such as PCE, also travel downward.  Once the release comes into contact with groundwater, a fraction of the PCE will start dissolving until its solubility limit is reached.  The remaining portion will continue to travel downward until an obstruction is reached, such as a clay layer, where it may pool and act as a deeper source by continuously dissolving PCE into the water.  If multiple subsurface clay layers exist there may be multiple continuing sources of groundwater impacts.  As a result, releases of PCE can be deep and very complex in the subsurface.  Additionally, if not carefully designed and implemented by an environmental consultant experienced with PCE releases, clay layers may be penetrated by soil borings and pooled solvent may be remobilized into deeper aquifers; making conditions worse.
PCE is Resistant to Natural Breakdown
There are naturally occurring microbes in the subsurface that breakdown organic pollutants into less toxic or non-toxic substances through a process called biodegradation, or bioremediation.  These microbes may directly ingest the pollutant, breakdown it down chemically for use as energy (electron transfer), or give off enzymes that destroys its chemical bonds.  The ability of microbes to use (metabolize) the pollutants depends on the chemical characteristics of the subsurface, and what types of microbes are present.  In most microbes, including bacteria, the metabolic process requires the exchange of oxygen and carbon. 
The biodegradation of petroleum compounds is conducted largely by populations of microbes that thrive in an oxygen-rich subsurface environment.  Recall that most petroleum impacts are present in the upper most part of the groundwater table where oxygen from the atmosphere is more likely to result in high levels of dissolved oxygen.  Therefore, many petroleum releases are already in the process of naturally occurring biodegradation before they are even discovered.  In fact, studies have shown that most petroleum groundwater plumes don’t extend much beyond 400 feet from the source area.  A common and cost-effective remediation strategy in these situations involves simply monitoring the effects until cleanup objectives are reached, which is called Monitored Natural Attenuation.
Conversely to petroleum releases, the type of microbes responsible for the biodegradation of PCE and other chlorinated solvents thrive in a subsurface environment without oxygen (anaerobic conditions).  The most common anaerobic process for degrading PCE is an electron transfer process called reductive dechlorination.  In this process, hydrogen atoms present in the groundwater are substituted for chlorine atoms in the solvent molecule in order to release an electron during the microbes’ respiration process.  For this to occur, it is necessary for there to be an adequate supply of food to sustain the microbe population during the process. 
Using PCE as the primary contaminant during ongoing reductive dechlorination, each time a chlorine atom is plucked off of the parent molecule; PCE turns to trichloroethene (TCE), TCE to dichloroethene (DCE), DCE to vinyl chloride, and vinyl chloride to ethene.  The conditions present in the subsurface can be studied carefully and a remediation plan can be devised that takes advantage of this complicated, naturally occurring process to help achieve cleanup objectives where spills of PCE have occurred.  Many times, anaerobic conditions in the contaminated groundwater must be enhanced and a source of food for the microbes must be delivered to the subsurface to speed up the reductive dechlorination process.  This adds significant cost and time to remediation projects, as compared to the monitored natural attenuation of a petroleum plume.
PCE Vapors are Persistent and Mobile
Not only is PCE resistant to natural degradation when it is dissolved in groundwater, it also can remain in the subsurface in its vapor phase for a long period of time without breaking down.  As all dry cleaners know, the volatile nature of PCE means that it will evaporate from a liquid to a vapor easily; that is one of the characteristics that make it such a good cleaning solvent.  However, once PCE is released to the subsurface it also volatilizes and disperses through unsaturated soils.  If the vapors reached an occupied structure and migrate into the occupied space, vapor intrusion (VI) has occurred.  VI concerns are at the top of most every regulator’s list of concerns since PCE is considered a probable carcinogen, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is in the process of revising and finalizing its guidance on the issue.

The petroleum hydrocarbon compound Benzene is a major component of gasoline spills, is also very volatile and is a known carcinogen.  In the presence of oxygen, once again, benzene vapors have been shown to naturally degrade in the subsurface environment.  As a result, the occurrence of VI concerns resulting from releases of petroleum products is limited.  Since PCE vapors do not readily breakdown, they have been known to travel great distances from even minor solvent spills.  Many dry cleaners are located close to their customers in highly populated areas, and as a result the risk of VI to occur from a subsurface release is compounded.  The VI exposure pathway is an extremely complicated process, which requires a sophisticated and knowledgeable environmental professional to adequately investigate and address. 
Although the cost of investigating and addressing VI issues can greatly affect the total dollar amount of PCE remediation projects, the potential cost of third-party legal concerns related to off-site migration of PCE vapors are typically not even quantified. 
These are only a few of the reasons that releases of PCE from neighborhood dry cleaners are commonly so much more expensive to address than those from the typical corner gas station.  It is crucial that owners and operators of dry cleaning operations that have historically used or presently use PCE be aware of all potential funding sources; such as historical insurance policies, or even potentially redevelopment clean-up grants.  Only a few states actually have remediation trust funds established for cleaning up dry cleaner sites.  If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of having the financial responsibility for a release of PCE to the subsurface, be sure to consult with an environmental professional that fully understands the special issues related dry cleaner sites and can make smart, cost-effective decisions. 

Friday, February 17, 2017

What Globalism Really Is.


Brendan O'Neill: Identity Politics is fragile, needy, and intolerant

Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook is declaring War

Zuckerberg: My Facebook manifesto to re-boot globalisation

  • 16 February 2017
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  • From the sectionBusiness
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I

Media captionBBC Economics Editor Kamal Ahmed: Mark Zuckerberg says there are threats to "common understanding"

Mark Zuckerberg has revealed deep-seated concerns that the tide is turning against globalisation.
In an interview with the BBC, the Facebook founder said that fake news, polarised views and "filter bubbles" were damaging "common understanding".
He said people had been left behind by global growth, sparking demands to "withdraw" from the "connected world".
In a call to action, he said people must not "sit around and be upset", but act to build "social infrastructures".
"When I started Facebook, the mission of connecting the world was not controversial," he told me.
"It was as if it was a default assumption that people had; every year the world got more connected and that seems like the direction things were heading in.
"Now that vision is becoming more controversial."

Losing hope

He told the BBC: "There are people around the world that feel left behind by globalisation and the rapid changes that have happened, and there are movements as a result to withdraw from some of that global connection."

Image captionAnti-globalisation protests, such as this one in the Philippines, have broken out across the world.

Mr Zuckerberg's interview comes alongside the publication of a 5,500-word letterhe has written about the future of Facebook and the global economy.
In it Mr Zuckerberg quotes Abraham Lincoln who spoke of acting "in concert", and talks about "spiritual needs", civic engagement and says that many people have "lost hope for the future".
"For a couple of decades, may be longer, people have really sold this idea that as the world comes together everything is going to get better," he said.
"I think the reality is that over the long term that will be true, and there are pieces of infrastructure that we can build to make sure that a global community works for everyone.
"But I do think there are some ways in which this idea of globalisation didn't take into account some of the challenges it was going to create for people, and now I think some of what you see is a reaction to that.
"If people are asking the question, is the direction for humanity to come together more or not? I think that answer is clearly yes.
"But we have to make sure the global community works for everyone. It is not just automatically going to happen.
"All these different kinds of institutions, whether they are governments, or non-profits, or companies, need to do their part in building this infrastructure to empower people so that it creates opportunities for everyone, not just some people.
"If you are upset about the direction things are going in, I hope you don't just sit around and be upset, but you feel urgent about building the long term infrastructure that needs to get built," Mr Zuckerberg said.

Global challenges

I asked him whether he felt President Trump agreed with his view that "bringing people together" and "connecting the world" would lead to greater progress.
Mr Zuckerberg did not, famously, attend the round-table of technology leaders hosted by the new president.
"I don't think I am going to speak to that directly," he answered carefully. "You can talk to him, you can look at what he has said to get a sense of that.
"The thing that I will say is that a lot of folks will look at this through the lens of one or two events, and I really do think this is a broader trend.
"I have been talking about this for a long time, since before recent elections both across Europe and Asia and the US.
"A lot of today's biggest opportunities will come from bringing people together - whether that is spreading prosperity or freedom, or accelerating science, or promoting peace and understanding."

Image captionThe charitable foundation set up by Mr Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan is giving billions of dollars to charity.

Mr Zuckerberg said: "A lot of challenges we face today are also entirely global - fighting climate change or ending terrorism, or ending pandemics, or when a civil war in one country leads to a refugee crisis across different continents.
"These are inherently global things and require a different level of infrastructure than we've had historically."

Political ambitions?

Would you like to meet President Trump? I asked.
"I would like that not be the focus of this. I don't really have much comment on that. It somewhat detracts from the focus of what we are trying to do here."
There has been speculation that Mr Zuckerberg could be contemplating a political career, and even suggestions that he will run for US president in 2020 - rumours he has flatly denied.
I said the political tone of the manifesto would do little to dampen speculation about where he sees himself longer term.
Could he imagine himself going into politics? "I am not doing that now, it's not the plan," he said. "The thing I really care about is connecting the world."
Facebook has been attacked for not doing enough to tackle "fake news" - untrue stories which claimed, for example, that the Pope backed Mr Trump - which have appeared prominently on its news feeds.
In Germany, there has been controversy after a Green MP was quoted in a Facebook post defending an asylum seeker from Afghanistan who had raped and murdered a German student.
The MP, Renate Kuenast, had never said what was attributed to her by a right-wing extremist organisation.
Ms Kuenast said she found it hard to accept that "Zuckerberg earns billions, shows off with all his charitable donations, and at the same time allows Facebook to become a tool of extremists".
Mr Zuckerberg said he understood the importance of tackling fake news.

Freedom of opinion

"Accuracy of information is very important," he said in the 5,500-word letter, published on Thursday. "We know there is misinformation and even outright hoax content on Facebook.
"We've made progress fighting hoaxes the way we fight spam, but we have more work to do.
"We are proceeding carefully because there is not always a clear line between hoaxes, satire and opinion."
But Mr Zuckerberg added: "In a free society, it's important that people have the power to share their opinion, even if others think they're wrong.
"Our approach will focus less on banning misinformation, and more on surfacing additional perspectives and information, including that fact checkers dispute an item's accuracy."


He told me that "polarisation and sensationalism" also undermined "common understanding".
And he admitted that social media - which deals in short, often aggressive, messages - had been part of the problem.
"In some places [it] could over simplify important and complex topics and may push us to have over simplified opinions of them," Mr Zuckerberg said.
"And I think it is our responsibility to amplify the good effects and mitigate the negative ones so we can create a community that has a common understanding
"There is a lot of research that shows we have the best discourse when we connect as whole people rather than just opinions.
"If I get to know you on the values that we have in common or even the interests that we share it is a lot easier to have a debate about something that we disagree about productively than if we just meet and go head to head on something without understanding our common humanity."

'Setting an example'

Some may argue there is a question of legitimacy here, that no one voted for Mark Zuckerberg and question his right to outline - and attempt to execute - a vision of the world.
And what about those controversies over taxes paid, or privacy, or vast profits in an age when inequality is as much a factor behind the present dim view of many in the political and business establishment as any perceived failures of globalisation.
"There are a lot of areas that I know we need to improve and I appreciate the criticism and feedback and hope we can continue to do better on them," Mr Zuckerberg said, pointing out that he is donating 99% of his Facebook shares - worth £36bn ($45bn) - to the charitable foundation he runs with his wife, Priscilla Chan.
"Being a good corporate citizen is really important," he said. "We operate in a lot of different countries all around the world.
"We need to be help build those communities and that is what I am trying to do in my personal philanthropy - setting an example hopefully for other entrepreneurs who will build things in the future for how you should give back to the community and to the world.
"I care deeply about all of this, and it is a work in progress."

Editor's Note for Mark Zuckerberg:  "My Space"

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Pressure Mounts in Marinwood Plaza Toxic Waste Case As Water Board Looks For Answers

Pressure Mounts in Marinwood Plaza Toxic Waste Case As Water Board Looks For Answers  

Toxic Waste was discovered at Marinwood Plaza in 2009 (or earlier) and has not been cleaned up yet.

SUMMARY: In a Regional Water Board hearing last week, residents, their County Supervisor, and members of the Water Board took a property owner to task for missing deadlines, lack of a project manager, and failure to demolish the building as ordered by the state.
   
SAN RAFAEL, Calif. - February 13, 2017 - Residents of Marinwood, an unincorporated neighborhood in Northern Marin County, along with their county supervisor, Damon Connolly, testified in front of the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Board last Wednesday during the Regional Water Board Meeting and redirected a usually low-key status update to focus on several concerns related to the Marinwood Plaza PCE cleanup project. Issues they addressed included a missed February 1st deadline for soil excavation at the source and a failure to follow state ordered building demolition. Following testimony by “interested parties,” Members of the Water Board then voiced their own concerns about the handling of the project and asked the property owner’s representatives for details about cleanup.  

Following a status report presentation by the Water Board’s assigned staffer, a total of seven “interested parties” came forward to comment on the situation. Rene Silveira, representing her family’s farm, Silveira Ranch, was the first to come before the board, and in a quivering voice, delivered a heartfelt plea, saying, “As I stand here right now, PCE is continuing to migrate toward and onto our property...and that is a very troubling thought, especially since no remediation has yet been done on our property...It really does worry us to think that that we’re going to be waiting another year and a half, or more perhaps, before any actual remediation is conducted on our property.”  

Marin County Supervisor, Damon Connolly, also addressed the board with a calm but forceful message highlighting that the February 1st deadline for the completion of source area soil excavation and cleanup had lapsed. Referring to it as a “blown deadline given the ample time line for clean up is very disappointing, and in fact, inexcusable,” Supervisor Connolly made it very clear that he and his constituents are looking for enforcement action from the Water Board. Public backlash directed at the property owners continued from there with almost all speakers repeating a common refrain, requesting a full and proper cleanup and many of them demanding penalties.  
As soon as the comment section for the agenda item had wrapped up, Water Board members began questioning both the hydrogeology firm contracted by the property owner and Wells Fargo Real Estate Investment Manager, Tom Fitzsimons, about the matter. Board member Kissinger began by asking about the size of the excavation site and verification of the size and depth. Assigned Water Board staff member, Ralph Lambert, explained that his lack of “Level C” hazardous materials certification prevented him from fully inspecting the contamination site. From there, Mr Kissinger pressed on asking Mr Lambert for details about whether demolition of the building where the dry cleaner operated was required, to which Mr Lambert responded, “...it’s mentioned...but that was only a means to get to the soil, the important part is...the dirty soil.”    

Board members also quizzed Wells Fargo’s Tom Fitzsimons about his role in the property and why he was there representing the owners. New to the Water Board, Jayne Battey, joined in lamenting, “I would really have liked to see the owners here today.” Toward the end of the question and answer portion, board member, Steve Lefkovits, pointedly asked, “Who’s the project manager ultimately responsible for the time line?” When Mr Fitzsimons explained that it’s really the owners, Marinwood Plaza LLC, and presumably its president, Lee Hoytt, Mr Lefkovits persisted, asking: “Is there a specific person who’s overseeing all the work?”  

The presiding Vice-Chair, Jim McGrath, in an attempt to keep things on track interrupted and reminded everyone that the actual scope of the agenda item was to get a progress report on the remediation action plan addenda recently submitted by the property owner’s geology consultants  

But the tough questions kept coming as board member, Dr Newsha Ajami, struggled to understand the delays, stating: “...it troubles me me to see that you guys did not come to the conclusion a lot earlier to take on Plan B[internal only demolition] and you were still trying to demolish the whole building, which was obviously, it was a cost savings measure, but it wasn’t essential to what we wanted here. Why didn’t that decision come earlier?”  
But before Mr Fitzsimons could even answer, new board member, Jayne Battey, piled on, asking, “If you knew in October that you weren’t going to make February [the deadline], was there any effort to contact staff or the board to let us know that you were not going to be compliant? Mr Fitzsimons of Wells Fargo responded by explaining some of the history of getting bids and how future plans for the plaza, once sold, will almost certainly include full demolition of the structure without answering the question of whether they updated the Water Board in a timely manner of the changes. Board member Battey continued, returning to the topic of collecting bids for demolition, claiming, “I have a lot of experience in this area and it’s hard for me not to believe that people really did the best they can do.” Documents available from the Water Board’s website show that starting in November 2016, Wells Fargo was required to provide biweekly progress reports in writing. None of the biweekly reports submitted indicated anything about expected delays in meeting the February deadline.   

As the Marinwood Plaza portion of the meeting drew to a close, the Water Board’s Executive Officer, Bruce Wolfe, explained that the next steps will include revising its original cleanup order to bring it up to date with current developments. This revised cleanup order will be circulated for public comment and, barring any hurdles, be approved. In his testimony to the board, Mr Wolfe indicated that enforcement against the two violations is being considered. The Clean Up Marinwood Plaza Now Oversight Committee indicated they are in the process of submitting a formal written request to Mr Wolfe to press for adding enforcement and penalties to next month’s agenda.  

About The Marinwood Plaza Toxic Waste Spill  

Originally discovered in 2007, a case with the SF Bay Regional Water Board was opened in 2008 as a result of one or more PCE spills that occurred on the property by former dry cleaning businesses. California law holds the property owner responsible for any and all cleanup caused by such a chemical spill. The Marinwood Plaza owners were ordered by the Regional Water Board to supply an approved remediation plan by September 1st, 2016 and clean up the source of the PCE plume by February 1st, 2017. While a cleanup plan has been submitted, it was late adn hasn’t yet been approved. The source excavation cleanup is still incomplete. California Water Code Section 13350 allows the Regional Water Board to impose fines of up to $5,000 per violation day. Oversight committee members say they will be demanding the maximum fine allowed.    

Video recording of February Water Board Meeting 


The RWQCB February meeting agenda 
  
Original RWQCB cleanup order from Feb 2014

Letter from Marin County Supervisor to Regional Water Board 

Property Owner’s Request for Extension to 1 March

The RWQCB follow-up order from June 21st 2016 
   
The original RWQCB April 19th 2016 order is here:   

Clean Up Marinwood Plaza Now Oversight Committee info:
rgraham02@gmail.com