As Accountable As the Wind

The Noyo News has learned that MLPAI “Principal Planner” Evan Fox was also a private contractor, and not a government employee.

These revelations – that staff and officers were independent operators, hired and paid for with private money – are a major shock to many of the North Coast public, who were under the false impression that the Marine Life Protection Act “Initiative” was a legitimate governmental agency.

Kelly Sayce, the “MLPA Initiative Outreach and Education Coordinator” was working for “Strategic Earth” a private consulting firm.  Ben Gettleman and Eric Poncelet, who worked under the title: “MLPA Initiative Facilitation Team” were actually employed by Kearns and West, a sophisticated public relations, management and lobbying firm, with offices in San Francisco, Sacramento  and Washington D.C.  (See also:  K&W – The Manufacture of Consent).  Ken Wiseman, the “MLPAI Executive Director,” said he was paid by the private Resources Legacy Fund Foundation, after handing out business cards from the California Natural Resources Agency.  Satie Arame, the “MLPA Initiative Science and Planning Advisor” was also hired by the Foundation, but in her case the money was indirectly transfered through huge corporate contributions to the University of California in Santa Barbara, who signed her paychecks.  It was only recently revealed that Mr. Evan Fox was also a private contractor.

Business cards handed out by staff at all public meetings and open houses gave the mistaken impression that the MLPAI was part of the California Natural Resources Agency.  The so-called “Initiative” maintains a website under the official government banner of the California Department of Fish and Game.  At the beginning of the “process” few, if anyone, from the general public knew that the MLPAI staff was in reality a collection of private contractors, paid for by the”Foundation,” with tens of millions in private corporate contributions.

One of the general business cards handed out by staff at all official MLPAI public events


Local citizens believed MLPAI to be a legitimate governmental agency, with legitimate authority and accountability.  The public was told that an official government process was taking place, to impose a legitimate interpretation of state law. They were wrong.

The so-called “Initiative” had a fixed set of goals, justified by cookie-cutter science, all carried out with a carefully devised agenda to achieve strategized outcomes.  The MLPAI was “facilitated” by highly paid private contractors, whose purpose was to attain, as much as possible, their own set of predetermined goals.

But the North Coast community gave this privately funded political steamroller a very good run for its money, by insisting on sticking together with one unified proposal, against the wishes of Kearns & West and other “Initiative” facilitators.  Large tracts of ocean in relatively remote areas of the North, and North Central Coast are what ended up on the chopping block.  But things are not always as they seem with the MLPAI, as you will learn in future posts.

Meanwhile, now that the financiers of MLPAI have gotten their way, the private contractors associated with this boondoggle are evaporating fast.  Staff phone numbers are being disconnected, and calls are not returned.

According to MLPAI Program Manager Melissa Miller-Henson, former employees “no longer under contract to the MLPA Initiative…are not authorized to answer questions about the MLPA Initiative.”

If the “Initiative” has its way, “the most open and transparent process ever seen,” will soon be as transparent, and just about as accountable, as the wind.

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