We have a bit of housekeeping to do before we get into the nitty-gritty of this week’s column. I mentioned that I could identify some regular letter writers by their styles and added a joke that some might have found belittled for them. Occupational hazard, I guess.
I want to make it clear that I very much appreciate the three people mentioned – even when I disagree with them. I admire their passion and fire, and I’m grateful that they take the time to write down their opinions to share. I learned from each of them and I hope you will too.
I don’t apologize for the joke – it’s not something I would do. I apologize for any hurt feelings or if I have given the impression that I am not grateful to anyone who takes the time to write to the editor. It saddens me when there are no letters in front of this column on Saturdays and my editor has to run a syndicated column instead of local stuff.
Keep up the good work everyone and if you’ve never written for the journal, give it a try.
OK, enough of that – it’s election season and we need to make the most of every column inch. You’ve probably already received your sample ballot in the mail, so start browsing.
Do your research on the candidates – don’t just vote for the guy in the cowboy hat for Congress because he has an R next to his name. Learn more about Max Steiner, veteran and super smart guy. Here is his website, where you can read his position on the issues, maxsteinerforcongress.com/issues. You might find you still prefer $5 million welfare queen LaMalfa, but honestly ask yourself: what has he done for you? Already?
And by the way, what have your local elected officials done for you? If you’re Bart Fleharty or Casey Safreno, the answer is plentiful. Last week, we featured Bart and Casey, agent and carpet bagger, respectively.
If you recall, Bart is a lawyer specializing in real estate and environmental law. He is the District 3 appointed member of the Groundwater Sustainability Commission – appointed by District 3 Supe Dennis Garton – even though Bart lives in District 1.
I wrote to Justin Jenson, director of the Groundwater Sustainability Agency, and he sent me back the bylaws, which state that “a member shall be a resident, owner or user of groundwater within the supervisory district of the Tehama County 3”. However, the Articles of Association also state the following – “the criteria are neither exclusive nor mandatory, and the Board may deviate from these criteria on the recommendation of the Commission for cause”.
In other words, statutes are not really laws. Rather, they are suggestions. And even though Fleharty can’t own property or use groundwater in District 3, Dennis Garton still nominated him to represent his constituents, as Garton’s opponent Pati Nolen pointed out during the candidate night in Paskenta on Tuesday. There was an audible gasp from the audience. As far as I know, Fleharty may have written the statutes himself. Justin didn’t know who wrote them, but I appreciate his responsiveness to my endless questions.
So why would Garton appoint Fleharty when there are plenty of qualified people in his district? This could be due to his long relationship with District 4 Supervisor Bob Williams. Bob Williams’ family, not Bob himself, sold about 1,700 acres of grassland in Henleyville — sort of between Flournoy and Rancho Tehama — to 2DSD LLC just over a year ago for $5 million. dollars, which Bob could inherit at least in part. 2DSD LLC is headquartered at Casey Safreno’s $13.5 million Woodside home. Safreno has obtained at least 8 agricultural well permits on the Henleyville property. Fleharty was the agent for that sale and there’s a big “Re-Elect Bob Williams” sign on the door, as I learned watching Williams opponent Matt Hansen’s excellent video series, “Behind the sign”. Check out Episode 5 “A Thirst for Profit” to see it for yourself on hansen4tehama.com.
If you remember last week Safreno is a former Merrill Lynch executive who left for Lehman Brothers 5 years before they became the biggest US bankrupt in history due to their shenanigans during the loan crisis subprime mortgages. Safreno also owns about 400 acres already planted with walnuts where Flores ends in Rawson Road, just up the street from Williams’ home. They are listed as owned by West Flores LLC, manager Casey Safreno, as well as Bob Williams re-election panels.
There is clearly a connection between Williams, Fleharty and Safreno. Fleharty is even listed as one of Williams’ top $500 campaign donors, but he is not one of Garton’s top donors. If he contributed anything to the man who nominated him to this powerful commission seat, it was less than $100 – the threshold for having to submit the donor’s name and profession. I hope Garton doesn’t give a damn about that.
Incidentally, I found these three properties and all other information about Safreno within an hour on Google and a few land sites. It’s a public record. I doubt these are the only properties owned by Safreno in Tehama County. He also drilled a bunch of agricultural wells on his properties in Oregon. He’s a thirsty guy.
He is not the only one. Some of you may have understood that I take issue with local family nut farms. Not true. What I am squarely against are the carpet baggers who transport our water to other places and spend the profits where they live.
They have no investment in our community. Oh, they spend a little locally to keep their pet dogs in places of authority. Like the authority to deny any form of water monitoring or a moratorium on agricultural wells to protect drinking water from their own damn neighbors.
It’s time to clean up, folks. Vote Nolen and Hansen for supervisor.
Liz Merry was half of Merry Standish Comedy for 30 years and is a former business owner from downtown Red Bluff. She now has a home business and is locked up and loaded in Manton. She can be reached at [email protected].