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Democracy is Not a Spectator Sport

Dan Fortson Interviews Dave Chism and Bob Cramer - The Public Outlaw Show on November 27, 1997, KMUD 91.1 FM Southern Humboldt County, 88.3 FM Northern Humboldt County, and 88.9 FM Mendocino County

Dan Fortson: Good evening everyone. This is Dan Fortson, and we're gonna have a talk show here. I've a couple of guests in the studio with me; Dave Chism, former union representative, Dave, welcome.[1]

Dave Chism: Hi, how are you doing?

Dan Fortson: Just fine, and Bob Cramer, member of Taxpayers for Headwaters and outspoken advocate, welcome Bob.

Bob Cramer: Thank you.

Dan Fortson: Why don't we start off with a little bit of introductions. Dave you want to tell us something about yourself?

Dave Chism: Well, I'm a local boy

Dan Fortson: Okay

Dave Chism: --grew up in Trinidad, in that area. I went to work in the timber industry at the paper mill at Simpson. A lot of the members of my family have worked for various companies around here. I think we've worked for pretty much all of them. LP and Simpson primarily. I was pretty active in union politics out there and trying to build some working relationship with the environmental community. So it was kind of an interesting place to be in, especially when the mill went down, there was a lot of animosity about that.

Dan Fortson: And Bob, what have you been up to lately?

Bob Cramer: Well, I'm a native Californian, I've been living up here for five years. I came up here to go to school after I lost my job because of a corporate takeover and because I'm a Vietnam veteran, a disabled veteran. The V.A. offered to send me up to go to school here on vocational rehabilitation. My major was Environmental Science, and I had a little problem with [Calculus] II. So I decided to get into Environmental Ethics, and while I was in environmental ethics I started learning about what was actually going on up here. Of course, because of the lack of news about what was going on, I really didn't have any Idea. But when I found about what was going on in the Headwaters, I joined the protesters last September 15th [1996]. I noticed that all of the people that were at the [MAXXAM property] line who were waiting to cross over [to be arrested] were all about my age, which is 53 right now, by the way, and I was kind of stunned! It looked like members of the community were all around me. And we started talking.

So anyway, after that action a few of us formed Taxpayers for Headwaters. Because we felt that the people who were representing environmentalism in this area were not just Earth First! And EPIC and Trees [Foundation], but also people up in Eureka, Fortuna, and the other areas who were business people and professionals and regular taxpaying citizens, if you will, who are very concerned about overharvesting of our natural resources. Because we can see into the future a little bit. It doesn't take much to extrapolate what happens when you overharvest and not only that, there is a great History of overharvesting and how it has devastated other areas of the country. And we just didn't want to see it happen to this area. So we formed Taxpayers for Headwaters and now were about 800 members strong. And we've been involved in doing a lot of things. We've gone before the [Humboldt] County Board of Supervisors. We've talked to law enforcement, we've been to several hearings, senate hearing, natural resources hearings. We've called for grand jury investigations, we've just really been involved in the situation and basically that's what my background is and why I'm here today.

Dan Fortson: Well good. One of the reasons were having the show today of course is in response to all of the mud slinging and hand grenade launching going on in the news media these days. And it's sad when these sort of sensational stories take place, it seems that the only people who the mainstream media asks for comments from are bureaucrats and politicians who are, of course, notorious hand grenade launchers and so what I hope to accomplish with this show is sort of hear from people in the community who are affected by the timber industry and get some stability and common sense instead of all the accusations and counteraccusations and all that.

Let's see, where to start--I'd like to start with a historical perspective. Most people may know I'm a historian amateur historian. I like to read about history because, it provides an interesting context on current events and how what is happening today is sort of a continuation of what really has been happening for over a century now. This is a book that used to be in the Humboldt County Library. Unfortunately, it seems books at the county library that are critical of the status quo and the powers that be seem to be stolen on a regular occasion. So I had to go to UC Berkeley to find this book. It is a doctoral thesis by Daniel Cornford. It's called "Lumber, Labor, and Community in Humboldt County, 1850-1920." Upon reading this book, it becomes obvious that what the environmental protesters and to a lesser extent, the dissenting labor force is dealing with, really has been going on for over a century and--this is my personal view--that the extent to which this issue is an "us versus them", the "us" is all of us in Humboldt County and the "them" is a small minority of absentee owners and corporate takeover artists and politicians who are supportive of them and that sort of thing.

Anyway, Cornford documents a long history of dissent in this county and I was fascinated to learn some of this stuff. For example, in the 1880 presidential election, the Greenback Labor Party, which was a pro-labor party, ran a candidate for president. In California, he got 2% of the popular vote and in Humboldt County, he got 25%. [Cornford] documents various dissenters and labor leaders and people speaking for the common individuals against the timber barons and corporate big shots who were buying up land left and right and running things for themselves and it's quite fascinating to learn.

A couple of things I want to point out are that a lot of these labor movements were started by people that came out of the utopian communities of the first half of the 19th Century. Well all remember in high school history that from 1800 to 1850 there were these various communities, mostly in the Midwest. They lived communally, they had shared values, and they had a really strong sense of conscience and a belief that conscience and justice should guide our lives and intentions. And people came out of these communities and some settled in Humboldt County, most notably W.J. Sweazey and another guy named [George] Speed [an IWW member], and another guy named Cronin.

And they were all out of these kind of communities and the reason I bring this up is, in a sense, they were the hippies of the late 19th Century. So I think there is a parallel there--that these people ended up starting the Labor movement, which then shaped politics in the county.

Dave, you and I are going to go into the 1935 incident in a bit Ill put that off for now. But I want to talk about the late 19th Century. Because there was also a predecessor to the MAXXAM Corporation. It was called the California Redwood Company, and it was incorporated in 1883, over a century before anyone had heard of Charles Hurwitz and MAXXAM in this county. This company, although it was incorporated in California, was essentially a front for a group of foreign capitalists. Their agenda--and they made no secret of it--was to buy up all the timberland, and all the mills, and the docks, and the facilities in the county, and control the redwood market from abroad. The way they did this--I'm sure we've all heard about the land frauds of the 19th Century--they would approach people on the street, and they would ask them to go into the land office and file a claim, with the Idea that the company would buy the land from them once the patent went through. And they were able to buy land at a few dollars an acre by doing this.

Well there was one man, and his name was Charles Keller. He's sort of the hero of Cornford's thesis here. He was a butcher by trade and what happened was that so many men came into his shop day after day saying, I just got twenty bucks for filling out this paper that he reached something was going on. He got them to swear affidavits which he sent to Washington DC and because he persisted he did manage to get a response. They sent out some agents it turns out that the first three agents were bought off by the California Redwood Company and in fact, Keller himself was offered $60,000 in hush money, which, in the 1880s you could retire on. But he wouldn't be bought, and the fourth agent who came out wouldn't be bought and these two individuals proceeded to start an investigation.[2]

I want to read just a little bit from the report, which they filed. These two individuals against a giant--you could say a transnational--company, and they filled this report and Ill read the quote here and this from the General Land Office Report of 1886. This is speaking of people who were filling those claims and the people who were speaking out against them:

A new agent was appointed, who reached his field of operations about the first of January last and entered upon the discharge of his duties. The agents of the company soon discovered his presence and business and attempted to defeat the investigation. Some of the witnesses were spirited out of the country; others were threatened and intimidated; spies were employed to watch and follow the agent and report the names of all persons who conversed with or called upon him; and on occasion two persons who were about to enter the agents room at his hotel for the purpose of conferring with him in reference to the entries, were knocked down and dragged away.[3]

So this sort of intimidation tactics by the controlling interests has a long history. Now that was an 1886 report. There are earlier ones, there are later ones. This is one that just happened to be one that fit into a sound bite that I could pull out.

Dave Chism: I was just going to say that from my own experience that intimidation is nothing new. When I was involved in both union and environmental politics I used to routinely get death threats and bomb threats, not to mention pressure applied on me by company stooges at the mill. If you were outspoken at all even in a strong union environment you are always facing some form of intimidation--it's just kind of a given. And tactics really haven't changed they've just become a little more sophisticated. You look at the collusion between the timber companies and, say, Congressman Riggs (R-Windsor) and the local police department. Incidents like that have occurred for the last hundred years. It's no different from them turning the National Guard loose on strikers and that's happened on several occasions throughout the course of labor history.

I really believe that they've shown their hand with this pepper spray incident. It's quite obvious if they could use even more strict and abusive forms of violence they would, but people wouldn't really tolerate it. It's kind of a good litmus test to see where the politicians are at and how they responded to this use of force that just occurred.

Dan Fortson: That's an excellent point. I agree with that and it supports my thesis, that were really fighting the big boys and the tactics and the names may change but the song remains the same. And as Dave has pointed out, this is traditional. It's almost a staple of labor history. That labor unions were not tolerated. Dave, maybe well go into that; Red-baiting, accusations, blacklisting, you want to talk about that?

Dave Chism: Well it's still alive and well in Humboldt County. I can tell you from my own experience, I've been called a communist by representatives of Simpson Timber Company. They used to routinely refer to the Arcata Plaza as the Red Square and we all had a good chuckle over that one. I was actually involved in an FBI investigation of Simpson Paper Company when they sewered--did some illegal dumping--at the mill when they were closing it, and the FBI agent told me, "Look, do you ever plan to work in the timber industry again?", and I said, "no.", and he said, "well, that's good, because you can pretty much forget it." And that came from the FBI--and I don't really put much stock in what they have to say, but I took that point seriously.

Dan Fortson: Let's talk a little bit about--well it's a known fact that these sorts of tactics are pretty traditional throughout the labor movement, but it seems the timber industry has always been sort of a roughneck industry. Sort of a manly world, big bulging biceps, swinging axes, and things like that. Let's talk a little bit about that; this is not a textile industry.[4]

Dave Chism: Well, working in the woods is a very aggressive occupation. You know it takes an aggressive person to run a chainsaw all day long, so it's natural that this would spill over into their politics. I kinda look at it like the timber industry has basically had their way for so long on the north coast now that they're starting to get some organized opposition. They don't really know what to do. They're resorting back to the old tactics, but they don't really have that base of support. They're not really behind the Redwood Curtain anymore and they can't isolate us. There's national support for the protection of Headwaters. They're trying to devise new tactics, but it stems from the old--you know divide and conquer. The classic divide and conquer is they have us basically groveling now with the police department and to some lesser degree the employees of these timber companies, meanwhile they sit back and reap these huge profits. There's nothing really new about that.

Dan Fortson: OK. I wanted to give people a little bit of inspiration here. In this story of the 1880s it has a happy ending. Although Keller was intimidated and he was eventually blacklisted and run out of the county, his shop was boycotted and he eventually had to close it and move to Tulare County. But the investigations continued and the company, the California Redwood Company, not only did not succeed in taking over the county and the county's economy, it went belly-up and many of the principals were indicted. Although none were convicted they did shut down the operation.

So we can thank these two individuals: Charles Keller and the unnamed fourth land agent for their persistence and unwillingness to be intimidated, because I think it's clear that if wed had this MAXXAM type company on the horizon in the 1880s we wouldn't be here talking about this today. The whole area would have been clearcut years ago. So that's a bit of historical perspective. There are more, I can go on about history all day, but Dave, I'd like to talk to you about the 1935 incident. Let's go into that some.

Dave Chism: Yeah. That's the Holmes-Eureka. Every local labor person knows the basic story of it. The vigilantes and the police department basically turned their guns on what were otherwise peaceful strikers and shot several of them, and I believe they killed, what, two?

Dan Fortson: Killed three people.

Dave Chism: Three people and injured several others. I guess they were just a little more blunt in those days. I'm sure the desire is still there.

Dan Fortson: Right. One of the parallels between that and the current incident is just prior to that event when there was talk of a strike in the 35 timber season, a man by the name of Joe Roush visited the county. He was a tear gas salesman and he met with the local law enforcement officers as well as the Timber Barons, and it turns out the law enforcement was a little shy to make huge purchases of tear gas, but the timber barons were more than happy to buy huge amounts of tear gas and give to the law enforcement. So this guy, Joe Roush wrote back to his boss saying, "I've hit the motherlode. These people are eager for our tear gas to use to shut down these strikers." So armed with this new tear gas, they descended on the Holmes-Eureka Mill which is now the site of the Bayshore Mall and another interesting story is that the way the strike was broken up. One of the first things that happened is that a Eureka Patrol Car was driven into the crowd, something we've seen--Bob you've seen that out at Fisher Road. You've seen vehicles driven into crowds.

Bob Cramer: Yeah

Dan Fortson: We saw that in Eureka as well, and this one was unique in that the chief of the Eureka Police Department--a guy by the name of Littlefield--was riding on the running-board, firing his revolver in the air shouting, "who's gonna stop me, who's gonna stop me?" This is the mentality of people were dealing with.

Bob Cramer: Tell me about it!

Dan Fortson: We haven't seen Arnie Milsap doing it--firing his revolver in the air, but this is the same Idea.

Dave Chism: --Still alive and well--

Bob Cramer: --He probably does that at home.

Dan Fortson: Another little anecdote I'd like to share on that. There was a dedication of a plaque in 1995 down at the Bayshore Mall and there was a group of people gathered there.

Chief Milsap, the current Eureka PD Chief was speaking and he was going on about how things were different. Earth First! Activist Alicia Littletree, in what I see now is a prophetic statement, asked him as he was saying, "things are different.", and she asked him, "what about pepper spray?" Now this was 1995. It stumbled him. He didn't quite know how to respond and I see now see it as a prophecy because now we see Eureka PD is involved in this and even though they are denying their involvement we know that from the incident in October 1997, they were eager to use pepper spray if they could. So I think there are a lot of parallels between the 1935 Holmes-Eureka strike and the current pepper spray activities and such like that. Other parallels--as Dave mentioned--have gone on. Right after that event happened in 1935--folks you can go research this in the library. You can get the newspapers from May of 1935. You'll see a plethora of articles downgrading the union members as communists and saying they're instigators and they don't believe in god and they don't love their children and all the things that we hear today to try and demonize them and dehumanize them. I believe there also was a roadblock on US 101, because people were so concerned that outside agitators were coming in from the north to fan the flames of discontent, that they put up a roadblock and tried to Identify--I don't know, do agitators carry badges? How do you Identify one? I don't know.

Dave Chism: We certainly sure still hear that don't we? That all these people are from outside the area and Earth First! Doesn't have any local support. That rhetoric is alive and well. We hear that quite often from our congressman no less.

Bob Cramer: Well, what's an agitator?

Dave Chism: Anybody that cares I guess that has an opinion different than theirs is an agitator.

Bob Cramer: And what's outside?

Dave Chism: You know, hey! Frank Riggs, I live here!

Dan Fortson: As though Charlie Hurwitz is not an outsider or John Campbell.

Bob Cramer: Isn't he from Australia?

Dan Fortson: John Campbell is from Australia, yes.

Bob Cramer: And Hurwitz is from Texas?

Dan Fortson: Yes.

Dave Chism: Oh, we can spread it around too. Look, Louisiana-Pacific (L-P) just said that all of their facilities are for sale. They've basically cut everything down and now it's time to leave. Simpson was a few years ahead of them. I look at the timber industry as a whole. Naturally there's something desirable about saving Headwaters Forest, but basically throughout the county they've had their way for one-hundred years. They've cut. They've run. A worker is no more than a piece of equipment [to them] and when they don't have anything more for them to do, just get rid of them. That philosophy has dominated the timber industry for a hundred years. Nobody [from the company] did anything for me when I lost my job. I survived. If there's some P-L workers or any other timber industry workers listening out there, you will survive. It's difficult to make that transition, but don't think it's the end of the world. [The companies] want you to think it's the end of the world; it makes you a lot more easily manipulated.

Dan Fortson: So that's something that is difficult to address, but I think we need to address it as a community, the way the businesses treat their people. They're almost like pawns. [Their] purpose is to make profit for [the big boss], and the whole reason Humboldt County is on the map is it's a gambling casino for [the big boss] to make [their] ventures and see if [they] can make a billion dollars. That's something that affects all of us in the community and I think in a sense we all need to stand together on that regardless of what side of which fence were on, because were all affected by it aren't we?

Dave Chism: Yes. I think that a prime example of the responsibility of the community that I feels been neglected by the timber industry is cleaning up these two pulp mill sites. They're basically hazardous waste sites. The community as a whole is gonna have to inherit that. We don't have the money or resources to deal with the, yet there they'll sit. Where's their sense--they profess all these--Frank Riggs says he's concerned about our community and our way of life--well excuse me! Our community and our way of life are suffering right now at the hands of the timber companies and he's not stepped forward with any legislation that says, "hey, let's have some real viable retraining programs, let's clean up some of these sites." What he's doing is sitting back and red-baiting is what he's doing. He's trying to keep the feverish intensity at an all time high. That's kind of a disgusting role for a congressman.

Dan Fortson: Yeah. One can look at Mendocino County as well, when L-P was closing mills right and left, where was mister Jobs First!? When all of these people were being put out of work? I didn't hear from Riggs when that was going on.

Bob Cramer: Yeah, I'd like to address the Mendocino County thing and go back a little bit in history also. The people of the state of California have recognized the value of their natural resources for quite a long time. Back in 1973, the Forest Practices Act was passed by the legislature. In that act it stated that the intent of the act was to insure that the sustainable production of high quality timber products was achieved.

Now, anybody can go into Webster's Dictionary and find out what sustainable production means. And it's under sustained yield and it means you wont cut anymore that you can grow in the same period of time. What happened was in Mendocino County--and [The Timber Companies] fought this for a long time--[The state] did some studies to find out what is sustainable yield, what exactly does sustainable production mean? And of course we all know that means in perpetuity, because if it's not in perpetuity, then were putting an endpoint on our local economy. So in perpetuity means were going to be able to live here and have sustainable jobs forever for us and our grandchildren. The studies that were done in Mendocino County , while the county was being decimated were very scientific and they proved that the way you can ascertain what sustainable production is, is by using what they call a percent of inventory, and they figured that cutting no more than 2% of inventory each year on a property wide basis was sustainable production. Now it's my understanding that the Pacific Lumber Company, before the MAXXAM takeover was doing just that in compliance with the laws of the state of California. When MAXXAM was taking over, Charles Hurwitz was taken before a board of inquiry and asked if they doubled the production or increased the production.

He said, "yes, we doubled the production in order to service the debt." He was also asked if that debt had existed before the takeover, and he said, "no", [he] had brought the debt with him. So what is happening here is a sustainable production has doubled. Get a clue! When you double the cut, you are no longer sustainably producing! So it's my contention that they are breaking the law now and I've asked Frank Riggs and I've asked the other senators to do an investigation. They're gonna leave us high and dry just here just like they have in Mendocino County, just like they have in other places. Like Champion Paper did in--I believe it was Montana or Colorado. The history is there to back that up.

Dan Fortson: Have you gotten any response from any of the people you've asked to do an investigation?

Bob Cramer: Not yet. Usually what happens in this kind of a case is I have to ask for responses several times, and then I have to take it public. But we have a real problem with getting publicity here. We spent an hour yesterday doing a press interview, we had a press conference yesterday for an hour. I watched channel six. They gave about 20 seconds devoted to it. They gave about a minute and a half to David Silverbrandler on how to change a tire!

None of the issues were really brought fourth and we had some really good speakers from the community to express their concern over what's happening here about how were being divided and the threats of violence in this community. Channel 3 did a little bit about it, not very much, but none of the real meat of what was being said was actually given to the public in that particular medium. I'm very disappointed with our press in this county, KMUD not withstanding, thank god for KMUD and people powered radio because it's the only way dissenting opinions can be aired.

[announcement break]

Dan Fortson: OK, welcome back. So, Bob Cramer, we were just talking about history and that's something that you've been doing research on. It's been studied in Mendocino [County]. Lets go into that a bit. I know you've been trying to get that implemented here in Humboldt County.

Bob Cramer: Right, well basically what I've been doing is looking at Timber Harvest Plans (THPs) that are being filed by MAXXAM, and [their subsidy] Scotia Pacific (ScoPac). I've been responding to those THPs, because if you look at one of those THPs, this is basically what has to be approved by the State of California with their regulatory industry, The California Department of Forestry. They have to approve every THP that meets certain criteria that meets the rules and the regulations and the intent and the laws that were implemented in 1973.

So, while I was reviewing these THPs I noticed a pattern. ScoPac would say, "well, were going to clearcut this area; it's on a known rotational slide; it's on an unstable slope in an unstable area, but there will be mitigation and there should be no adverse environmental impact."

This kind of thing would go on throughout it. I noticed on the Timber Harvest Plans they would file. What they would do is file a THP on, say, about maybe 300 acres of land, but they're only allowed to clearcut 20 acre patches or 25 acres patches, unless they asked for a variance. But I noticed in these THPs They'd have three, four, five, six, sometimes even nine in the case of Stroms Creek. Patches, that were really close together!

Dan Fortson: So they'd end up with a checkerboard approach.

Bob Cramer: Right! As though they were all clearcut, and the only thing that was left in between is what has to be left in between which is the watercourse protection. And of course, that's not very well protected either, because they're even allowed to go into the class one, two, three, [and] four water courses, and do some "selective logging" in there. So, what happens is after a THP has been approved, and has been implemented, you see this huge 200-300 acre clearcut with little patches of trees still hanging around some of the watercourses. I started to ask myself, well what in the world is going on? I would write to the California Department of Forestry (CDF) four page letters. Sometimes, as a matter of fact, most of them were four page letters, because I went through every point in the THP and said, "I cant see how you can say this isn't going to create any environmental impact, when these other THPs that have been filed and these clearcuts have created mud-slides that are obvious. I have pictures of them, it's been well documented. The streams are being silted up, the Coho is disappearing, the Marbled Murrelet habitat is disappearing, the Spotted Owls--Spotted Owls! Oh, they'd say there's more Spotted Owls in there then there ever has been. Well sure! They're going in there now--they've got people that actually go out with mice to feed the Spotted Owls, and they're putting up Spotted Owl Houses!

Dan Fortson: (facetiously) Another government housing project!

Bob Cramer: Exactly! As a matter of fact, in one of my letters to the CDF, I said "it seems like what MAXXAM-Pacific Lumber is creating here is a bunch of owl ghettos as they clearcut the rest of the land." And I started noticing that these owl sites were all getting closer and closer and closer together. Of course, I asked what is the impact on the owls if their habitat gets moved closer and closer together. Well they referred me to the department of Fish and Game; the Department of Fish and Game referred me to some kind of rules and regulations--it's such a game! It's obvious what's going on out there. And then I read the report by Burkhardt, et. al. about Mendocino (County) and the 2% of inventory (provision), and how that is the only way you can cut sustainably.

So every letter I wrote to the CDF, I asked them if they'd address this issue. That it seems to me, especially after flying over MAXXAM's acquired holdings here, they were not sustainably harvesting. But that issue was never addressed by the CDF, and I know that other people have brought it before the Board of Forestry. And as a matter of fact, Mendocino County actually created their own Forestry Advisory Committee and they went to the board with the same concerns. Somehow they were end-runned--I forget exactly how--but it's like banging your head against a brick wall which is exactly what's intended. And I know there are many people in this county who've been fighting this issue for about twelve years. Meanwhile, while this fight is going on--and it's a good fight, I bless everybody that's doing it, and I think it should be kept up--MAXXAM [and] Charles Hurwitz [are] laughing all the way to the bank! Were up here involved in studies, and going before the board, and all of these meetings, and protests, and all of this is going on, and meanwhile John Campbell, the president of Pacific Lumber Company's own words, 65 million board feet a year has to go out of this county--and he said 65 million board feet of high quality timber products--just to service the debt. This is money that is going out of this county and it's nobody's fault in this county. This county is getting screwed.

Dan Fortson: Right.

Bob Cramer: And it's amazing to me that more people, especially the timber workers and the people who have their livelihoods tied up with the natural resources--I'm surprised they're not enraged! This man is breaking the law!

Dan Fortson: Yeah. One has to question, what has happened to democracy, when someone such as Bob Cramer does all this volunteer work, or Dave Chism--trying to get union representation, trying to get companies to follow the law and have workers safety standards that are meaningful--put together meaningful documents and proof and evidence, all usually on their own time. We've got thousands of volunteer activists on every angle in the county working on these sorts of things, bringing it to the various governing bodies who say, "that's very nice--now as we were saying, this is perfectly safe, legitimate company practice, and so just go home." What happens to democracy?

Bob Cramer: I don't know if I want to talk about that. I'm a Vietnam veteran; I was in Seal Team One, and I was wounded in Vietnam. Some of my very close comrades I watched die fighting for democracy and fighting for our constitutional rights. Since I came up here, and now that I have the time to see what's going on, I am more than appalled at our loss of democracy. The people calling the shots are people like Charles Hurwitz, who was arrogant enough to tell the workers [after he took over Pacific Lumber], "he who has the gold, rules." That statement always reminded me of a story in the Bible I was read as a child about Moses coming down off [Mount Sinai} and seeing the Israelites has built this golden calf that they would worship. And I look at my country and I look at who's getting away with what. I look at the powerlessness of the people--well, al least they feel like they're powerless--it seems to me that our "traditional Christian values" that the Republican right-wing people like to talk about are definitely, definitely being lost and our way of life is being lost. Our constitutional rights are being lost. I have seen our constitutional rights violated by the very people who have sworn to uphold the Constitution, i.e. our representatives and our law enforcement people. I've had my own constitutional rights violated by law enforcement. It makes me grieve for all those people who fought so hard and all those people who died to defend our Constitution. It also reminds me of a passage in our National Anthem, "In the land of the free and the home of the brave." And I'm here to tell everyone that's listening, that if you want to be free, you've got to be brave. You've got to stand up for what you know is right.

When I came back from Vietnam, I was baited by many people. "Well, you fought in Vietnam, what do you think about these protesters, these hippies protesting the war?"

I said, "Ill tell you what. That's what I was fighting for, their right to do that, and as a matter of fact, I think I might join them, because war sucks!"

And that's what's happening in this county. The outside agitators like Charles Hurwitz and John Campbell are coming in here, and while they're ripping off our natural resources, they're pitting us against each other with their propaganda Machine. And we need to get together my friends, and my fellow citizens of Humboldt County. We need to get together and talk about this.

Dan Fortson: That's well said. That's really the challenge before us now in 1997. Can we quit arguing about hairstyles and choices of vehicles and Birkenstocks versus boots, and can we come together as a county. It's a tall order, Dave Chism, do you think we can pull it off?

Dave Chism: You know, I thought the county had actually mellowed out. The battles been raging. It's ebbed and it's flowed. I've personally probably been more active seven years ago, but this latest incident and then the rhetoric that followed--it's disgusting. And democracy is a precious thing, and it's easily taken away, because all of a sudden were not really thinking about peoples right to voice their opinion, were thinking about "this guy wants to take my job" or "I don't like the way that guy looks" and it's very superficial. We don't understand [that] because democracy is so precious how easily it's taken away from us. Not just by the moneyed interest, but by our own attitudes and our own outlook. Look at how just one incident has polarized this community--and I'm not saying that it shouldn't have, because it's a very egregious incident--but the point is that law enforcement is willing to throw your constitutional rights to the wind for the sake of serving some corporate interest and there's plenty of people who would go right along with it. They're robbing you of your right of democracy. Do you think Frank Riggs represents the majority of his constituents? I don't think he speaks for me, and I know he doesn't speak for my family, and yet he professes to be concerned about "God and Country" and to support our "Judeo-Christian beliefs". I heard him give that speech up at Humboldt State University (HSU) and it was disgusting. Do you think Jesus Christ would hold back somebody's head and spray pepper spray into their eyes? Of course not! There's nothing biblical about that! Meanwhile were groveling, they're ripping us off, and what's really disgusting is that our constitutional rights and our democratic way of life are really being robbed from us.

Dan Fortson: Right. Just to reiterate my thesis, that history repeats itself. I want to read again from Daniel Cornford's book. This was written about life in Humboldt County and the feelings of the people during the 1880s. He gives his evidence and various editorials and proofs of his statement here, then he sums it all up. He says, "The greatest danger to the Republic were that corporations and monopolies might conspire successfully to control the government for their own narrow, economic, self-interests." One has to ask is that about the 1880s or the 1990s or both or--

Bob Cramer: Abraham Lincoln said the same thing.

Dave Chism: And Thomas Jefferson. Yeah, you know he said, when things get so far awry as to arose the public--I guess you would say--ire, people can be relied upon to set them to rights, and I guess that's why were here. Were trying to set things right.

Dan Fortson: Yeah. So I guess we have to break the chain, because this has happened before. There are always going to be a few followers whenever anyone stands up and they get a lot of media attention, and they rant and rave and they make accusations.

It's interesting, in this incident of vandalism that happened in Eureka at Hunter Advertising how right away, according to Patty Dixon, it was an Earth First! job. No question about that it could have been anyone else, or why Earth First! would want to write--I think it was, "torture is good for business." That does not advance the Earth First! agenda, but nevertheless it was "an Earth First! job." So there's always going to be a few demagogues who are going to try to rattle everyone's cage and get us all fired up and whipped up into a frenzy to go fight somebody somewhere. I think it's really incumbent on us as citizens of the county, to rise above that. To really think independently and come to our own conclusions, and to realize that our neighbors are in this. That means were going to be fighting our neighbors and were going to be fighting each other and meanwhile--as Bob said--Hurwitz laughs all the way to the bank. So I hope that we can rise [above that], because we need to prove history wrong.

I want to go into a little bit about the future, because time marches on and events will develop. If we don't impact them, were going to be faced with this. There's an old Chinese proverb that says, "if you don't change your course, you're likely to wind up where you're headed. Both of you drove down here to the studio today. You drove past the town of Scotia. I would encourage everyone there--two things you have to do if you want to see the future of the Pacific Lumber Company. One is you need to drive past the town of Scotia, and about a mile south of town there, you'll see this intentionally planted forest of even age trees planted like corn on eleven foot centers. They're being harvested by a machine that comes down and plucks them our of the ground, lops them off, shaves their branches and bark off, and stacks them in one maneuver. It's not quite a feller-buncher, but it's probably one step removed. Dave Chism, one has to wonder, what's going to become of the skilled loggers and the skilled tree-fallers when the future of Pacific Lumber are these "pecker poles" and this sort of fiber farming? Oh, and I should mention, before I ask for your response is, the other thing you have to do is--if you can stomach it--go and find a copy of Pacific Lumbers sustained yield plan, which is somewhat of a joke, because after you see [the tree farms] just south of Scotia, you'll see in the sustained yield plan, that is their plan for the entire 196,000 acres. So Dave Chism, what is going to happen to the skilled logger when they're going to pecker poles and fiber farms?

Dave Chism: I guess they can throw away the chainsaw and get out the lawn mower!


Dan Fortson: There you go. There's a song in there somewhere.

Bob Cramer: Greg Brown has already written the song; it's called "Boom Town."

Dan Fortson: Oh yeah.

Dave Chism: You know, another issue, too, is the recent spill on [Humboldt] bay. That was for chip exports. Were basically becoming a--were going to be a very small, probably highly automated workforce here. The vast amount of profits wont be dumped back into the community. There'll be very few people employed; it wont be very labor intensive at all. So the bottom line is the labor pool will shrink, not to mention the quality of the forests--obviously an even aged forest is a lot more susceptible to disease than a natural forest. These managed forests are pretty disgusting if you've walked around in them. The point is there'll be a continued shrinking of the labor pool which equals--even to people not in the timber industry--less money circulating in the community; less people employed.

Dan Fortson: That's right. So I hope, if everyone doesn't want to be pumping gas and working in prisons, I hope we can all get involved and try to head this off.

Dave Chism: The best way to--you know there was a story that we heard, that MAXXAM--well it was P-L before that; the Murphy Family owned it--that they were an embarrassment both before and after the takeover. Prior to the takeover, they had a kind of serious, sustainable logging program, and there were several generations of families that were employed by that company. They were very paternal, and they really took care of their people. So they were an embarrassment to the Simpsons and the Louisiana Pacifics because of that, who were at that time engaged in cut and run. Then they became an embarrassment after the fact because Charles Hurwitz basically doubled the cutting and added a third again to the workforce. And those people that were hired on, they know that their job is not sustainable. How could you think that it was? So it's kind of a two-fold embarrassment, both before and after the takeover.

Dan Fortson: That's a good point, about what the actual rank and file workers feel. It's not fair for me to ask you to speak for other people, but it seems, amongst timber workers, you got the people--the counter demonstrators we see at our rallies--who tow the company line, and they get the sound bites on TV. And then you've got the ones who don't do that, and they know what's going on. Dave, you want to comment on any of that?

Dave Chism: I guess the best thing is to quote my next door neighbor. He worked for Simpson Timber Company. I said [to him], "Chuck, what's going on out in the woods?" He was a timber faller for 35 years; he's seen all of their property, and he said, "it looks like the Mojave Desert up there." And this is by no means anyone who's even a liberal; he's got a crew cut. So most of them know what's going on. They're in the woods every day. They probably know it better than we do, but it's easy to manipulate people when they don't think there's an alternative. We need to say, "hey, this is something that's better; this will keep you employed; it's sustainable." I guess that's the responsibility of the environmental community, to show these people whore gonna lost their jobs or probably lose their jobs that there's a better way, a sustainable way to do it.

Dan Fortson: Good point, and on that note, in the last few moments of the program here--time slipped away from us--I wanted to get into the Headwaters Forest Stewardship Plan which was put together by a group of volunteers and starving activists, really working hard to put together this 90 page document which, I think, is really a model of sustainable timber operations here on the north coast. If anyone hasn't seen this yet, it is highly recommended reading. You can get a hold of it by [contacting Trees Foundation]. It is very educational and it will give you an idea of what is possible. Their plan for the 60,000 acre Headwaters complex: put the critical habitat aside, protect the watercourses and then the interior is a combination of restoration and sustainable harvesting. In this document they show they can provide jobs and protect the environment, so there really is nothing--we don't have to fight each other. Were coming down to the end of the program here. Bob Cramer, any closing comments you'd like to make for us?

Bob Cramer: Just one. You brought up the Headwaters Stewardship Plan. It's an excellent plan; I support it wholeheartedly. Apparently someone else has seen it. In the letters to the editor [of the Eureka Times-Standard] somebody said, "well this plan is going to mean that you're harvesting less than Pacific Lumber ever did harvest. Well, that may be true in the short run, because there's a lot of restoration work that needs to be done. Anybody who's seen the Headwaters Forest knows that most of that area has been decimated already and needs to be restored in order to be put back into a sustainable production.

Dan Fortson: Yeah, good point. Dave Chism, any closing comments for us?

Dave Chism: Just that if there's any fellow timber workers out there listening. Hey, I got through it, you'll get through it. There's a better way to take care of this stuff that what's going on now. You don't have to serve your corporate masters.

Bob Cramer: Democracy is not a spectator sport; it is a participatory sport.

Dave Chism: Stand up and let your voice be heard.

Bob Cramer: That's right.

Dan Fortson: Well said, and happy Thanksgiving everyone.


[ 1 ] Dave Chism is the former Union VP at the Simpson Pulp Mill.

[ 2 ] Charles Keller was a member of the First International. Other notable members of this organization included Marx and Engels, Bakunin, and Lysander Spooner.

[ 3 ] This is in fact the full quote as it appeared in the GLO report for 1886; Dan Fortson read a somewhat shortened version of it.

[ 4 ] Actually, while many if not most timber workers have always fit this description, until the late 1940s a significant number of loggers were quite radical, while the more skilled mill workers tended to be more conservative. Many loggers were also immigrants, particularly from Scandanavian and Central-European nations. The diversity among the workforce strengthened the radical current that was later co-opted during the postwar boom.

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