On April 20, 2010, on the same day that a BP oil rig had exploded and was burning uncontrollably in the Gulf, I went to a “Marine Life Protection Act Initiative” public meeting in Fort Bragg, California.
The so-called public process was being led by an oil industry executive and other special interests, intent on denying food access to certain residents of the North Coast. The MLPAI’s “I-Team” started out by telling those present that it was going to bar public & press recording, and was denying the legally required public comment period during the two-day meeting.
After being told that no one could record or speak, I left the meeting, went back to my truck, got my digital audio recorder, turned it on in the breast pocket of my jacket, and returned to the meeting.
Waiting for an appropriate break, I stood up and made my objections known for the record with the following statement: (Soundcloud file may take a while to upload – my speech begins at 1:48/4:23)
After making this statement, I left for the rest of the day.
I returned the following morning to photograph how the “Regional Stakeholders Group” had been divided against their will, into two “Gem” groups. Twice I was told to stop recording. I again left the building.
When I finally returned later that afternoon to ask a question, after being recognized during an open question period near the close of the two-day public meeting, I was unlawfully arrested by Fish and Game Warden Eric Bloom, at the order of MLPAI executive director Ken Wiseman.
In the following days, after a flurry of in house spin-control, the MLPAI “I-Team” soon changed their highly illegal policy of no recording, and no public comment at their public meetings.
For the next round of “North Coast Regional Stakeholders Group” meetings in Crescent City, California the following May, recording was allowed, and a public comment period was provided.
We are currently suing the MLPAI and its “I-Team” for the civil rights violations of the unlawful arrest.
The corrupt, privately funded “Initiative” has regressed into defending their past illegal policies and actions, wasting tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees with the Attorney General’s Office, at taxpayer expense, trying defend the indefensible – instead of coming clean with an apology.