Friday, July 1, 2016

Did the Marinwood CSD break the Law?

How many Willow Flycatchers died during the illegal removal of habitat on June 17. 2016?
The unfortunate and hasty removal of blackberry bushes in Marinwood Park has many residents upset.  The bushes have been treasured for decades by local families for gathering tasty berries each summer.   It is also the home of the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher which is under the protection of the Endangered Species Act.  It actively nests from May to September and is also protected under the Migratory Bird Treat Act.
1000 square feet of bushes were removed in Marinwood Park. The bush line extended to the nature sign post.

Aside from the admission that removal of the bushes was "too extreme",  Marinwood CSD manager Eric Driekosen has denied the request for the restoration of the damage,  create policy to prevent re-occurrence or train staff in the proper management of nature areas within the park.  In a letter received yesterday, he told me that "the matter is resolved".

Several Federal laws appear to have been broken. Park and Open space care is one of the key functions of the Marinwood CSD.   If you care about keeping our nature areas beautiful and a healthy environment for all species, please write today.


Information about the Migratory Bird  Treaty Act and the Southwest Willow Flycatcher.

Almost all birds, including their nests and eggs native to the United States are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). Protection is not limited to only individual birds or species that migrate. In this fact sheet, “bird” refers to any bird species protected by the MBTA. A list of protected species is published in the Code of Federal Regulations at 50 CFR 10.13. You can view the list at:
4. Do I need a federal permit to destroy bird nest? A permit is not needed to destroy inactive bird nests, provided the nest is destroyed and not kept. An inactive bird nest is one without eggs or chicks present. The Nest Destruction Migratory Bird Permit Memorandum (MBPM-2; April 15, 2003) provides additional guidance on nest destruction ( 
A permit is required to destroy an active bird nest (one with eggs or chicks present). A permit is also required to disturb or destroy nests of bald eagles or golden eagles and federally threatened or endangered species. A list of threatened or endangered species can be found at 

Willow Flycatchers nest from May to September in thick bushes along water banks.  A huge patch (800sf+ ) of blackberries along Miller Creek in Marinwood Park were removed June 17th without permits.  The Willow Flycatcher is protected under the Endangered Species Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.  

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published today a final rule designating 737 miles of waters within the 100-year floodplain in California [Editor's Note: This includes most areas within 100 feet of Miller Creek], Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and New Mexico as critical habitat for an endangered migratory bird, the southwestern willow flycatcher. The designation identifies the stream- and lake-edge habitats that are believed essential to help recover the species.
Impacts associated for all flycatcher conservation efforts in the proposed designated areas, not just those exclusively associated with habitat designation, are estimated to range from $29.2 million to $39.5 million annually, and include costs associated with the listing of the species under the Endangered Species Act for the designated areas.
The final designation is a 53 percent reduction in river miles and a 68 percent reduction in acreage from a proposal prepared last year. A list of exclusions follows.
"While a few areas were excluded because they were not essential habitats, most of the areas are already protected under some form of agreements," said Larry Bell, acting Deputy Regional Director of the Services Southwest Region. "We do not add the designation to those places where we are assured the birds habitat is being enhanced by positive conservation measures."
Many areas identified as eligible for designation were excluded from final critical habitat designation as they are already protected by conservation management plans. There are over sixteen conservation plans already established to provide protections and assurances that the conservation measures for the species will be implemented and effective.
"Information supplied by individuals and groups during the comment period was essential in evaluating and finalizing critical habitat areas," said Bell.
Critical habitat was designated along the streams, rivers, wetlands and reservoirs. The 5 ¾-inch flycatcher builds nests in the dense vegetation lining wet areas in the arid Southwest. It breeds and rears its chicks in late spring through the summer in the United States. The flycatcher migrates to Mexico, Central and possibly northern South America for winter.
Critical habitat is a term in the Endangered Species Act. It identifies geographic areas that contain features essential for the conservation of a threatened or endangered species and that may require special management considerations or protection. The designation of critical habitat does not affect land ownership or establish a refuge, wilderness, reserve, preserve, or other conservation area. It does not allow government or public access to private lands.
The critical habitat designation includes locations that support ten or more flycatcher territories or which provide opportunities for nesting birds to access other flycatcher populations. Dispersing to other territories ensures that birds can expand into other locales and maintain genetic flow among territories, providing overall population stability. The locations designation also provides migration stopover habitats and habitat for non-breeding and dispersing southwestern willow flycatchers.
The flycatcher was added to the endangered species list in 1995 as its populations declined due to habitat loss resulting from river and water management practices; agricultural, residential and urban development; recreation; and livestock and wild, hoofed animals overgrazing in breeding habitat; as well as the threat of the expanded range of the cowbird, which parasitizes songbird nests.

It Came from Beneath the Sea!

Nigel Farage on the Centralization of Power- A lesson for the Bay Area

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Offensive Speech at the Marinwood CSD. Why it is Important.

For people following the melodrama at the Marinwood CSD, you may have heard that I spoke against after a censorship rule adopted at the March 2016 meeting. The rule requires public commentary BEFORE the Marinwood CSD board discusses it.  So the citizens must GUESS about the item that will be discussed and the pro and con arguments provided to the public.   It is a bizzaro, Orweillian view of the Marinwood CSD to assert this interpretation of their responsibility to allow public commentary at public meetings. It is effective censorship.

To make my point about the importance of free speech in democracy, I pointed out how speech is protected-even the patently offensive during my commentary.   It caused a panic and the board called the police to have me removed for "creating a disturbance".  The police came and did not remove me as I was well within my right to attend the meeting, make comments and record the business of government.  see video HERE

I have the entire event on tape and plan to release it later.  

In the meantime the above is a great video about the Freedom of Speech and the Right to Offend that makes the point much more eloquently than me.

That SMART whistle EVERY 15 minutes EACH MORNING beginning a 5:15 AM!

You may have heard the SMART whistle several times a day in the last week while they test the tracks. Get used to it. I could hear it from several miles away.  Soon it will be heard every 15 minutes during commute times beginning at 5:15 AM.   

The SMART Train caused a traffic jam in downtown San Rafael that led to a long line of cars stretching to the 101 Freeway  on Wednesday.  Who says that SMART won't change our lives?


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Endangered Species Nesting site destroyed in Marinwood Park

When Marinwood CSD removed a huge 20-30' swath of blackberries in Marinwood Park on June 17, 2016, they also destroyed the nesting location for the Willow Flycatcher, an Endangered Species that makes its home in the dense brush.  The explanation was that the blackberries were a nuisance despite being a favorite neighborhood spot to forage for blackberries for over forty years,    If you are outraged about this as I am, please send an email to

From Marin County Parks

Perching Birds

Willow Flycatcher  Empidonax traillii

Family: Tyrant Flycatchers, Tyrannidae
Audio: Martyn Stewart, ©

Description  ADULT Has olive-gray upperparts (Alder's upperparts are usually subtly greener). Has faint pale eyering (on average, less distinct than Alder) and pinkish orange lower mandible. Wings are dark with pale fringes to inner flight feathers and two white wing bars; tail is dark (wings and tail slightly longer in Alder). Underparts are pale with pale olive wash on chest. JUVENILE Similar to adult, but with buffy wing bars.
Dimensions  Length: 6" (15 cm)
Endangered Status  The Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, a subspecies of the Willow Flycatcher, is on the U.S. Endangered Species List. It is classified as endangered in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, and Utah. Destruction of the dense streamside thickets that it nests in has dealt a serious blow to this species. Another problem has been nest parasitism by cowbirds, which lay their own eggs in the flycatchers' nests, to the detriment of the flycatchers' own broods. Predators, especially those that feed on eggs, have also contributed to this small bird's decline.
Habitat  Fairly common summer visitor (mainly May-Aug) to damp woodlands and often associated with its namesake tree. Winters in Central and South America.
Observation Tips  Best identified with certainty using voice; fortunately, like Alder, sometimes sings on migration as well as on breeding grounds.
Range  Great Lakes, Northwest, California, Southeast, Florida, Mid-Atlantic, New England, Texas, Southwest, Rocky Mountains, Plains, Western Canada
Voice  Song is a harsh, buzzing fzz'Byew; call is a sharp whuit.
Discussion  Widespread woodland flycatcher. Best separated from Alder using voice. Occurs as several subspecies: eastern birds (described in detail below) are almost identical to Alder; western ones (outside range covered by this book) are subtly browner and darker. Feeding habits similar to those of Alder: engages in aerial sorties after flying insects from perches near top of trees; also hovers and gleans insects from foliage. Sexes are similar.
Migration Info  This unassuming flycatcher slips into the United States in late spring and passes back into Mexico well before winter, after a short (70- to 90-day) breeding season. The bulk of the western population moves north along the Pacific coast of Mexico, then fans out across the western United States. Eastern populations move north and east after crossing western Texas. Although this bird spends most of its life in migration or on its wintering grounds in South America, the major threat to this species is loss of breeding habitat in the United States. The Southwestern subspecies (now on the U.S. Endangered Species List) is threatened by loss of habitat due to water diversion practices, livestock overgrazing, and non-native plants that degrade critical breeding habitat.

Brexit is about stepping away from Globalism and towards Individualism.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Marinwood Nature Path MEETING TONIGHT

A huge swath of blackberry bushes was bulldozed on June 17.   The bush line used to extend to the nature signposts seen in the above photos. The blackberry bushes were the home of many species of animals including
the Willow Flycatcher, a bird on the Endangered Species List.   

Last week, the parks maintenance staff butchered  a mature growth of blackberry bushes and fruit trees in the park that have been popular spots to gather seasonal fruit for over forty years.  

The problem is there is no consistent care plan policy.  It was supposed to be treated as a nature preserve, not like a construction site.

Are you willing to help ceate a new nature preserve with handicap access?  Here are two documents to guide us.   Handicap access    Nature Preserve.

The Parks and Rec commission meets tonight at the Marinwood Community Center at 7:30 pm.

BREXIT THE MOVIE - A lesson in the failures of Central Government like Plan Bay Area.

BREXIT THE MOVIE is a feature-length documentary film to inspire as many people as possible to vote to LEAVE the EU in the June 23rd referendum.

While Brexit is off topic, I think it provides a good warning about perils of " regional government" controlled by unaccountable bureaucrats like the coming San Francisco Regional Goverment of ABAG/MTC.

Once upon a time, local democracy

Monday, June 27, 2016

Brexit: It wasn't about economics. It was about culture.

Steve Hemminger, MTC Commissioner defends Regional Government

Another very important video. He gets paid over 360k and travels first class worldwide on the taxpayer dime. His business failures are epic. The Bay Bridge Fiasco and massive cost overruns at the new MTC headquarters should have had him fired many times over.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Homeless Shelter is being pushed for North San Rafael

Homeless services advocates seek support for North San Rafael center

This vacant building at 67 Mark Drive in San Rafael is being considered as a year-round emergency shelter for homeless.
This vacant building at 67 Mark Drive in San Rafael is being considered as a year-round emergency shelter for homeless. Alan Dep — Marin Independent Journal

Cia Byrnes, executive director of Ritter Center, stands at the nonprofit’s building in downtown San Rafael. Ritter Center might move with other programs for the homeless to a vacant building at 67 Mark Drive in San Rafael.
Cia Byrnes, executive director of Ritter Center, stands at the nonprofit’s building in downtown San Rafael. Ritter Center might move with other programs for the homeless to a vacant building at 67 Mark Drive in San Rafael.Alan Dep — Marin Independent Journal
Promoters of a plan to consolidate some of Marin’s homeless services are launching a public effort to gather support for a homeless multi-service center in North San Rafael.
“This offers the possibility of connecting people sleeping on floors with showers and other services that could get them to be housed,” said Cia Byrnes, executive director of the Ritter Center, a nonprofit that serves the poor.
The idea is to move the Ritter Center from its downtown San Rafael site to a vacant building in an industrial area south of Smith Ranch Road.
Under the proposal, the organization would not be the only one relocating to the 24,000-square-foot building at 67 Mark Drive.
St. Vincent de Paul Society would move some services to the site, excluding its dining room. The REST program, the county’s rotating emergency shelter program now operated by volunteers only during the winter, would also call the site home.
The goal is to establish a year-round emergency shelter there that would replace the REST program’s rotating shelter staged at churches and synagogues during cold months. See full article in the Marin IJ

Editor's Note:  A few years back, then CSD Board President Bruce Anderson  (currently the moderator for NextDoor/Lucas Valley) proposed that Marinwood Community Center become a "Temporary Homeless Shelter" if needed.  The board consisting of Cyane Dandridge, Leah Kleinman-Green, Tarey Reed, and Bill Hansel   approved unanimously.  Ir never was adopted because of the distance from downtown.  If the shelter comes to North San Rafael,  it is likely that a "temporary" homeless shelter may be located in our neighborhoods at Marinwood Plaza, Big Rock Deli or the Marinwood Community Center.  I believe these voluntary agreements are valid for ten years.  Lucas Valley Community Church at the corner of Lucas Valley Road and Las Gallinas also participates in homeless services.   

When ‘sustainability’ is code for bigger government

see Article in Washington Times:

DRIESSEN: When ‘sustainability’ is code for bigger government

More regulation won’t save the planet

Real sustainable development uses steadily improving technologies and practices to leave the world better than we found it. It conserves resources and is more efficient, it is responsible, it maintains profitability and keeps employees employed. It tunes up cars, keeps tires inflated and improves light sequencing to move traffic along, increase gas mileage and reduce pollution.

The public relations variety of sustainable development promotes corporate images and inspires flattering press releases, but it is often devoid of real substance.

Then there is the United Nations, environmental activist brand of sustainability. It says we may meet the needs of current generations only to the extent that doing so “will not compromise the ability of future generations to meet their needs.”

At first blush, this sounds logical, even ethical. In reality it is unworkable, inequitable and a pathway to more government control.

Indeed, we cannot talk about sustainability, President Obama’s science advisor John Holdren has said, without talking about politics, power and control.

“Sustainability” has thus become yet another justification for bigger government, in the battle over centralized power versus independent states and sovereign nations, statism versus individual rights and liberties, and the power and influence of activist nongovernmental organizations.

The outcome of this battle will determine who is to be master: those who must live with the consequences of their personal choices, or unaccountable politicians and bureaucrats who force people to live with the policies, regulations, decisions and consequences they impose on others.

No one predicted that a Wisconsin home would suddenly be lit with hydroelectric power in 1887, or that electricity would safeguard and enhance our lives in the numerous ways it does today. No one foresaw widespread natural gas use for electricity generation and home heating – or fiber optic cables replacing copper and mobile phones with more computing power than a 1990 desktop.

Today, the pace of technological change is mind-numbing. Yet under sustainability precepts, we are supposed to predict future technologies – and ensure that today’s development activities will somehow not compromise those technologies’ unpredictable energy and raw material requirements.

Sustainability dogma also demands that we base policies on knowing how many years energy and metal deposits will last, and determine whether using them will be sustainable.

The reality is, 3-D and HD seismic, deepwater drilling and production, hydraulic fracturing and other new technologies enable us to find and develop new deposits, and make existing deposits last decades longer. How long must those expanded reserves last, before using them won’t be sustainable? And who decides?

How can politicians, regulators and environmental activists decree that oil and gas are not sustainable – even as these technologies unlock a century of new deposits? What’s more, how can they then insist that corn ethanol is sustainable, even though this year’s U.S. ethanol quota requires 40 percent of our corn, cropland the size of Iowa, billions of gallons of water and enormous quantities of pesticides, fertilizers, tractor fuel and natural gas, to produce a fuel that drives up food prices and gets one-third less mileage per gallon than gasoline?

How can they decree that wind energy is sustainable, despite the need to blanket wildlife habitats with turbines and transmission lines that kill millions of birds and bats every year — and duplicate their electricity generation with fossil fuel power plants that produce 80 percent of the electricity attributed to “renewable, sustainable” wind power?

How is it sustainable, ethical or “environmental justice” for the United States to use so many of the world’s oil, gas, rare earth and other resources – because we refuse to allow development of our own vast energy, metallic and other deposits?

How is it ethical to focus on the needs of future generations, even if it means compromising the needs of current generations – including the aspirations, health and welfare of Earth’s most impoverished people? How much longer must 1.4 billion people continue to live without electricity and its blessings, because eco-activists obsess about global warming and oppose coal, gas, nuclear and hydroelectric power plants?

How long must billions of people remain malnourished, because environmental activists and UN bureaucrats don’t like insecticides, high yield farming or biotechnology?

The fundamental problem with UN/activist/EPA “sustainability” is that it is infinitely elastic and malleable. Whatever these organizations support is sustainable; whatever they oppose is unsustainable.

Worst of all, this version of sustainable development gives unelected regulators increasing control over energy use, economic growth, wealth redistribution and people’s lives, living standards, health and well-being. It does so without the essential safeguards, checks and balances of robust science, independent courts, democracy, transparency, honesty and accountability. [editor's note: just like Plan Bay Area].

We should strive to conserve energy, water and other resources, when it makes economic, technological, ecological and ethical sense to do so. We should reduce air and water pollutants that actually endanger human health and welfare.

Yet we cannot afford to let “sustainable development” become yet another justification for ceding still more power to unelected, non-transparent, unaccountable overseers.

Paul Driessen is senior policy adviser for the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow and author of “Eco-Imperialism: Green Power, Black Death” (Merril Press, 2012).

MTC's Power Grab of ABAG

A pricey palace, huge losses in risky investments, a busted bridge — and now the agency responsible wants more power

Behind the power grab by the Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission
MTC Executive Director Steve Heminger wants to take over all regional planning
MTC Executive Director Steve Heminger wants to take over all regional planning
By Zelda Bronstein
OCTOBER 11, 2015 — It now looks as if the open power struggle between the Association of Bay Area Governments and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission will persist for at least a few more weeks.
At MTC’s standing-room-only meeting on September 23, Executive Director Steve Heminger laid out his controversial proposal for his agency to absorb ABAG’s land use planning staff—a shift whose implications for democratic governance and social justice in the Bay Area are vast and troubling. MTC commissioners paved the way for that shift on June 24, when they voted to fund ABAG’s planning staff for only the next six months instead of the customary full fiscal year.
No action could be taken on the 23rd, because the MTC chair, Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese, had placed consolidation on the agenda as an information item. MTC will act on Heminger’s proposal, detailed in a white paper dated September 18, at its October 28 meeting.
Opposition to both the truncated funding and the proposed consolidation has continued to mount.
Unionized ABAG workers aren't happy with the notion of being taken over by a non-union agency
Unionized ABAG workers aren’t happy with the notion of being taken over by a non-union agency
On September 17 the ABAG Executive Board voted to ask MTC to fund ABAG planning staff for the full FY 2015-16, to terminate the proposal for consolidation of the two agencies’ planning staffs, and to join ABAG in a discussion about a restructuring or merger.
On September 22 District 10 (Marin and southern Sonoma Counties) Assemblymember Marc Levine put out a scathing press release that assailed MTC as a publicly unresponsive and unaccountable board    READ MORE ON 48 Hills Online  HERE
Supervisor Steve Kinsey "listens intently" at a Supervisors Meeting.
Mr Kinsey is Marin's ONLY representative on the MTC.   A merger would concentrate all power in Marin in this one man who wants to urbanize Eastern/Southern Marin.