The HumCo Democrat Narrative – Chapter I: “The Clique”

The previous attempt at an information inoculation did not prevent the fever unfortunately, so let’s discuss what is going on.

I’m not an expert on the bylaws.  I did not have a vote on any of this as an Associate Member so this is not necessarily negligent.  The technical argument here is about the bylaws – whether or not Associate Members are held to the same rules as Members.  If in a court that’s what we would be discussing, however, this is of course only the court of public opinion, which is arguably more important on something like this.  Why?  Because these narratives affect the public’s impression of people who take the time to become involved in civics.

What’s going on.  A tiny minority to include Richard Marks and … that’s about it that I’ve seen who have put their name behind this controversy are carefully building a narrative about what the Humboldt County Democratic Central Committee (HCDCC) has done in removing Melinda Ciarabellini.  What is true and the heart of this narrative is Melinda Ciarabellini, a lifelong Democrat was removed from her position as Associate Member.

That in itself is hard.  Especially for Democrats as we do strive to be inclusive.  How can a party vote in good conscience to remove a someone, especially an upstanding citizen and genuinely good person like Melinda?   The following are NOT the reasons Councilwoman Ciarabellini was removed; her activity or voting pattern on the Eureka Council, any political disagreements some of the Members had with her, etc..  Melinda was voted to be removed by a majority of the voting Members present because Melinda endorsed a candidate running against a HCDCC-endorsed candidate.

Obviously in our community – in Humboldt and in California especially, we don’t appreciate stories of good people being excluded from this or that club.  It seems unfair, inappropriate, judgemental, authoritarian.  That’s the context for the narrative.  The actors of course have been well established.  You have the low key, soft spoken, good union member (and person) and often “progressive” Richard Marks as the protagonist protecting his friends and political allies.  You have his friends and allies who have been slighted as the victims of the (OK, I’m going to use their language for a bit, bear with me) bullies who have been gagged and then purged by the authoritarian, extreme clique of radicals at the heart of the HCDCC.

That in a nutshell is the narrative.  Is it what happened?  No.  Is there truth in it?  Yes.  How much is subjective and is the reason the narrative has held  up for so many years.

In the end, the HCDCC “clique” narrative is no different that the distracting dramatic  soap-opera quality stories that we are all familiar with at the national level that ultimately leave us with a highly ineffectual federal government.

I think removing Melinda was the right decision.  We do need to be able to elect Democrats that act like Democrats.  We can’t do that except by a vote of the majority.  The lesson of all this?  Get involved.  Help us to define what is a Democrat, and, I have to say, what is a Republican.

I’d also make a plea to the Republicans to pick up the slack.  It’s a huge problem to have only one effective party.  You are going to have to work on your messaging and policy.  My suggestion?  As Julie Timmons suggested, look to Eisenhower for answers.  Eisenhower was not about destroying the middle class or national reaction to the depression, FDR , and WW II helped us create.

“But Jon?  Partisanship is not a thing at the local level – quit it!”

We can’t ignore it either.  In fact, to do so would be unproductive.  Partisanship for partisanship sake is undesirable, but partisanship to help “motivate, organize, and elect” for policy is critically important.  Environmental, working family, and tribal/ethnic /religious/ racial minority-rights organizations are not going to be able to effect change on their own.  Not when reservoirs of money exist to advocate for other interests.  There is an inherent need for an organization dedicated to educating the electorate on their vision of civics and then getting out the vote – i.e. the political “machinery”.  Humboldt Baykeeper, the Eureka’s Teacher’s Association, etc., cannot do it on their own.

What the narrative has allowed is a HCDCC frozen in time and thus ineffectual at having any real influence on policy.  Unfortunately a lack of public policy is what many conservatives desire as it basically allows the Chamber of Commerce to have primacy.

And right now, narratives such as this one promoted by Richard Marks and a few other anons are critical to the Democrat’s recent ineffectiveness in influencing local public policy despite incredibly large electorate mandates for liberal/democratic value/policies at the national level.


21 thoughts on “The HumCo Democrat Narrative – Chapter I: “The Clique”

    1. Thanks Julie. One answer might be to continue to speak honestly like you did. That’s a great start and I appreciated your comments, even though we differ slightly. The next step would be agree to drop the loaded and slanted language that mostly (but not all ) stems from the unaccountable anons.

      Here’s a comment from Richard’s post on this .

      S. Remings said…
      “Hypocrisy, unethical, bullying, shame, unaccountable, lawless…”

      Are you people serious?

      Add “gag” and “purge” to that list from this blog’s comment section.

      I believe the problem, if there even is one, may be a great deal smaller than the anons would like us to think it is. If we continue to be fair, respectful, PROACTIVE (like Virginia and Matthew have been), we will continue to have a functioning HCDCC. Now, whether it can be effective to those with small ‘d’ democratic values, or big “D” California Democratic Party values, that remains to be seen.

      Congressman Huffman’s endorsement of Supervisors Bass and Sundberg is not auspicious, but that just means we have to work harder to find the answers.

      My hope? It won’t happen, but someone takes the Republicans back from Rush, Glenn, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. Their insincere and poisonous rhetoric can’t win and local conservatives know this. Of course no one will do this, so we are stuck with a local R party that seems to consist of a website and….I’m not sure what they do during election season.

      They are lost to Fox News, the gun lobby, the coal industry, the immigrant fear mongers, the plutarch’s, etc. and their problem has become ours because their moderate wing is tired of losing so they’ve decided to join us and our own conservatives and back-to-the-land libertarians are happy to have their company.

      In the absence of ever talking about actual policies, I think that is a narrative that better encoumpases reality than the ones the anons are trying to sell.

      UPDATE: I’ll collect some fun language on this here (assuming I remember this – I’m noticing that I’m leaving half-ideas all over this blog. SORRY!

      Anyway – here is Joe Blow “Democratically voted out means the anarchist mob forced them out. Your so-called Democracy is nothing more than a vicious mob plundering and looting at will.”

  1. I am a new HCDCC Associate Member and was at the meeting. It was hard to see the divisions that were apparent in the close votes and some of the undercurrents, but i suspect this is not unknown throughout the history of political parties. My opinion as a newbie is that the votes were taken and i would hope that those who did not see the result they wanted would act constructively rather than destructively so we could all go forward and give our energies to the issues in our platform.

  2. Big Tent Dem says:

    ” The next step would be agree to drop the loaded and slanted language…”

    This is just too funny coming from the guy who constantly refers to Virginia Bass as “ultra-conservative.”

    Hypocrisy, “Liberal Jon” is thy name.

    1. This is obviously a very important topic to you and I don’t want to be evasive.

      I have a couple of points on this here is the first,

      1) If I ever said Virginia was “ultra-conservative” I was wrong. Her land use policy is ultra-conservative. I’d like you to show me 2 examples of your point, if I did it once, that was a mistake and I apologize. 2, then I was wrong and I’d apologize for being wrong and making a pattern of it. I’d be much more careful going forward. If my use of u.c. to SVB was constant, it shouldn’t be hared for you to dig up 2 uses.

      HOWEVER, ultra-conservative should not be an epithet. Just like ultra-liberal isn’t. Thanks why I chose the name “liberal”, to take a stand against Rush’s effective multi-decade campaign to tarnish the name. I wouldn’t be comfortable with ultra-liberal and would argue against that characterization.

      The second point later…it has to do with when are appropriate times to use loaded language.

      oops, tried to post this this am. Oh well, better late than never

  3. Anonymous says:

    Her land use policy is Ultra conservative? Bullshit. Middle of the road, at best. There isn’t an ultra conservative policy in that plan. You are so far off base, it is incredible. You spout this bullshit and sadly, don’t even know what you are talking about. When it gets to specifics, you claim ignorance. Must be a nice spot to sit, rattling off platitudes and assumptions based on what you think something means without understanding the actual definitions. Case in point, infill. You used Furtado as an example of somebody who benefits from sprawl. When I point out he only does infill, you say we need a new definition then. This means you are dishonest in that you don’t support a project because of who is doing it (a non democrat!) even if it fits your ideological model , or stupid in that you don’t know what the fuck you are talking about. I think it is probably the latter.

  4. “Ultra conservative” works fine and here is why…. Supervisor Bass represents a district basically at sea level. I would argue that from a conservative ideology that believes that governing at the local level – to begin at the individual level and move up to local, state and national spheres – that ideology should be taking the lead at doing something about the scientific consensus that climate change exists and it is man made and it stems from the greenhouse gas phenomena. This reality is not a consideration in Supervisor Bass’ leadership. Her entire platform at her announcement bottled down to one issue was continuing to think of the Planning “and Building” Department as a Service Department.

    I”m sorry, but ultra conservative is an entirely accurate description. This is buttressed on her consistent vote moving the GPU from a B, B- to a C, D+ on the A = more regional plan-er-ific to D = more property-rights a-focused.

    She voted “yea” on a set of Guiding Principles that was written, as far as we know, by two Supervisors and then despite a huge public reaction was not substantially changed. When they did begin to take it back, something I even gave kudos for at the time, the next meeting, after hearing from, again, who knows who, they withdrew the language they created together by consensus and under the scrutiny of an unhappy public, and replaced it with realtor-approved language.

    To top it all off, and if this was not part of a larger strategy then my name is mud, the newly rewritten Guiding Principles were used by the Planning Commission and advocates for developers like HBE’s PAC to argue that the GPU as a whole is now inconsistent and it must be taken back to the PC to gut the Open Space Chapter to meet the gutting the Guiding Principles. The exact GP that Supervisor Bass voted and worked to create, despite her constituencies outcry and despite her district’s best interest being at sea level. (Not to mention the economic, cultural, etc benefits of increased focus on infill to her district)

    I stand by ” ultra conservative” as an apt description for Supervisor Bass’ land use policy direction.

    Re: ” This means you are dishonest in that you don’t support a project because of who is doing it (a non democrat!)” please see my response just before this one on the “recent comments” list or the 2/20 a.m. comment in the previous thread. I’m not afraid to support a non-Democrat or criticize a Democrat (Virginia Bass is one, btw) and you can call what Furtado is doing “infill” and it fits, I’m sure, the legal definition, it’s just not what we need to be doing in the few precious centrally located “clean slates” we have left. We need higher density and mixed use.

    What would a ultra-conservative policy look like to you btw? Remember, the GPU she was handed was probably, what a B, B-? and she is doing her best with her votes and appointments to move it to a C, C- on any contentious issue. You may be right, as an executive, maybe she would have decreed that “this GPU shall be middle of the road”, but her actions and words are moving a hard fought GPU document as far to the right (pro-property side) as it can go. How far? So far that some of the language she initially voted for in the Guiding Principles “honored landowners”! That’s a problem. Not because we can’t honor landowners, but b/c we honor all residents. (and I’d wish we’d honor the ecosystem values that we get one chance to protect – but that would be ultra-liberal, right?).

  5. Anonymous says:

    Sea level? What are they going to do about that in a general plan?
    Who are you to decide what Furtado needs to do with his property? That land has been planned and zoned that way for 20 years. If nobody wanted his houses, they wouldn’t sell, so not only is this type of housing needed, it is actually desired. Why would he put mixed use in right now, so we can have some more vacant office space and retail?

    They were given an “A” plan, by the way. If you want to see an ultra conservative plan, they should start with “d” and then cut all the restrictions to development. Even d was not friendly to development, just less horrible. A truly right wing plan would remove all building restrictions in ag and timberlands, make street widths, parking, curbs, gutters, sidewalks optional, privatize the planning department, etc. Nobody wants that or is even suggesting it, but the left went just as far the other way with the update and when somebody wants to bring it to the middle, where most of our citizens are, you cry “ultra conservative!”.

  6. “Sea level? What are they going to do about that in a general plan?”

    This is such a great question. It’s kinda one of the things I created this blog to explore. I’d argue there isn’t a single legislative action up or down our governments that could have as great effect on our action on climate change as a general plan. At least not if we agree we want local agencies and people to have self-determination.

    OK, Think since we agree no one is suggesting your “A truly right wing plan”, it is off the spectrum as potentially “ultra conservative”, I would call that example “imaginary”. I think your example of right wing might be right wing circa … never. A private Planning Department??!!

    And for the record, I don’t “cry” it, I say it and I’ve backed it up. Gotta go – have a good morning. Always nice to chat with another morning person – even if we fundamentally disagree.

    1. Big Tent Dem says:

      “I’d argue there isn’t a single legislative action up or down our governments that could have as great effect on our action on climate change as a general plan.”

      Laughable. I can think of half a dozen just off the top of my head: Carbon tax, increased emission standards on power plants and other “point sources,” increased fuel efficiency and emission standards on motor vehicles and other “non-point sources,” stopping deforestation, increasing renewable energy research, increasing renewable energy implementation. And of course there’s the factor that dwarfs all other factors, and if not addressed, will swamp all other efforts, no matter how you try to “squeeze the balloon” planning-wise: Population growth.


        OK, I’m back. CO2. What do we do about it.

        1) Carbon Tax – yes
        2) Point Sources – no
        3) Re-forestation – yes
        4) Renewable Research – yes
        5) Renewable implementation – yes
        6) Population regulation – yes and no

        I think we’ve been working on 3,4, and 5 as much as our conservative friends would allow us too, and agreed, we need more. #1) will not happen, at least until we start winning the political debate nationwide instead of just in California.

        #1) May be the most effective but think about what it would mean. It would basically mean a tax on natural gas, coal, and petroleum. To most people that would mean increased cost on gasoline, energy bills and inflated costs of most goods and services. Good luck with that first of all. But second of all, how would we as a society deal with that? By smart growth! By going back to the future, planning communities that were closer together reducing our transportation costs.

        Therefore, I still think this below stands….

        “I’d argue there isn’t a single legislative action up or down our governments that could have as great effect on our action on climate change as a general plan. At least not if we agree we want local agencies and people to have self-determination.”

        A national carbon tax would of course have much greater effect nationally and thus for climate change globally, but all that is going to do is repeat the same thing that we could be doing here, now, with our GPU. Continuing to empower our communities to approach planning and building with professional expertise guided by our elected officials.

        The balance of the free-market and public oversight has been fairly effective in minimizing the per-use (ie efficiency) of our electricity use as a society. Demand increases as we get new gadgets, but the free market is effective in minimizing waste. Same can be said for residential and business energy usage. What the free market cannot effectively regulated mostly due to a very powerful and interested lobby groups is transportation costs. By slight tweaks in planning we could significantly bite into that section of the chart. The amazing thing is if we did, it’s arguable we could also maintain or increase our standard of living. In other words, I believe, and I’ve seen first hand now, that private concerns our hampering our broader public concerns to plan for growth.

        Other thoughts –

        6) good luck with population control. We have to be proactive on that, not regulatory or reactionary. It’s an issue, you are absolutely right, but it’s one that can be best solved in a democratic society by education and a very light touch legislatively.

        2) “point sources” (ie power plants, factories, etc) NO! Large scale sequestration is a fantasy and won of the most ridiculous and expensive ideas, if put into context. What we are asking our society to do is find a way, which is possible but costly, to capture and store carbon dioxide underground instead of taking necessary behavioral changes. Maybe someday in the future we might want to use that tactic too, but it is really chemically and physically a ridiculous band-aid from this observer’s point of view. It would be much more feasible to start thinking about how to store radioactive waste in greater quantities which would eliminate fossil fuel point sources.

        1. Big Tent Dem says:

          Nuclear power is not an even remotely viable solution to climate change. The expense of replacing fossil fuels with nuclear power would be astronomical, and that’s even before factoring in the multiple-hundreds-of-thousand-of-years legacy of radioactive waste*, the devastating impacts of uranium mining, and of course the inevitable increase in Chernobyl, Three Mile Islands, and Fukushima type events that would result from a world teeming with tens of thousands of new nuclear power plants. On the bright side (sarcasm) it’s a terrorist’s wet dream.

          Get back to me when they figure out how to split (or fuse) atoms in a way that doesn’t create a toxic legacy for thousands of years, and in a way that is guaranteed to be meltdown-free. And I don’t mean just no meltdowns as long as nothing goes wrong, as long as here is no human error, unforeseen natural disasters, or equipment failures. Because we all know that there will always be human error, unforeseen natural disasters, and equipment failures.

          I mean a design where it is literally impossible, given the laws of physics, for a meltdown to occur. I read that such designs may be possible, at least theoretically, and I have no problem with putting somecresources toward research in that direction IF there seems to be some real chance of feasibility within the next 50-75 years (if not, we’d better focus our resources on conservation, efficiency, wind, solar, and other technologies that already work, are improving every year, and could be ramped up while there’s still time to make a difference).

          In the meantime, no way. Wasting trillions on a bunch of radiation-spewing accidents-waiting-to-happen does not move us toward sustainability, it moves us away — just in a different, and possibly even worse direction than the already plenty bad enough direction we’re heading in now.

          *(“Thanks a lot great, great, great….10 to the tenth power…great, great, great Grandpa, we sure do love still having to babysit all that the nuclear waste you produced 100,000 years ago so that you could watch TV on your phone and browse pictures of cats doing cute things”)

          1. I don’t disagree with you on fission, and no it will not replace coal et. al. as an energy source. But it shouldn’t be banned either. At least out of hand.

            Nuclear might be one tool, renewables another toward eating away at the primacy of fossil fuels. We could look at France, Germany and the Netherlands to see what kind of percentages are possible if we start to think about energy production rationally.

            However, this misses the point, we can change our energy sources to try to reduce CO2 emissions, but what we really need to do, the thing that is screaming at us from a common-sense perspective is development with the first law of thermodynamics in mind.. The conservation of energy.

            What we need to do is to begin allowing for real choice in development alternatives. We need to cluster again because as you sound like you are aware, finding the energy to fuel our Sherman-Tank-sized pickup trucks is not going to be easy to find. We need to start thinking now about how we want our communities to look and how we can in the public sector use statutes to help us move in the direction of wisdom rather continue the pattern of exploitation.

            1. Anonymous says:

              yet when pg&e proposes wave energy studies offshore, it it blocked. when shell energy proposes wind turbines, it is blocked. you enviros need to get on the same page.

              1. Again, don’t disagree. I strongly support both of those. I am very wary of NIMBYism, we DO have to make hard decisions, but they should always be made with social justice in mind too.

                That “same page” is probably one of the many, many reasons why the GPU meetings can only sustainably be populated by those on the Chamber of Commerce side of the ledger for lack of a better grouping term right now.

    2. Anonymous says:

      NOPE, not imaginary:

      Originally created with just four government employees, the city’s successful launch was facilitated by a $32 million contract with CH2M-Hill OMI, an international firm that oversees and manages day-to-day municipal operations. The contract value was just above half what the city traditionally was charged through taxes by Fulton County. The city maintains ownership of assets and maintains budget control by setting priorities and service levels. Meanwhile the contractor is responsible for staffing and all operations and services. According to Sandy Springs Mayor Eva Galambos, the city’s relationship with the contractor “has been exemplary. We are thrilled with the way the contractors are performing. The speed with which public works problems are addressed is remarkable. All the public works, all the community development, all the administrative stuff, the finance department, everything is done by CH2M-Hill,” Galambos said. “The only services the city pays to its own employees are for public safety and the court to handle ordinance violations.” – See more at:

  7. Not A Native says:

    The trend nationally and in CA is more voters register independent. There are many Richard Marks’ with narratives that dissuade voters from being loyal to a political party but encourage loyalty to a brand of product or retail store. The pleasures of being a consumer are more appealing than the responsibilities of being a citizen. In times past,people were told their condition was due to “God’s will” which was unquestionably correct. Now, people are told their condition is due to the “Free Market”, which is unquestionably correct. Both of those myths are perpetuated to maintain the political power of the segment of society that has managed to personally accumulate disproportionate wealth.

    1. Agreed! Myths and narratives and stories is how we perceive the world. It’s how we all do it to one extent or another. I don’t know if he would agree, but the most recent replaying of Joseph Campbell on Moyers’ show a couple of years ago may have been the time it finally dawned on me that almost everything about politics is about establishing a narrative. Framing the problem or story then establishing the good guy and bad guy. The tragedy is that there are narratives, but there also DOES exist a reality. The question is, imagining a Venn Diagram, how much of reality will be overlapped by the narratives we choose to govern ourselves by.

  8. Anonymous says:

    “If nobody wanted his houses, they wouldn’t sell,”

    It must be a truly painful burden to rewrite the economic collapse of 2008!

    The development industry has been free to build its most profitable big home subdivisions miles from downtown for decades, and they control local governments to keep it that way, this is why Humboldt County has chronic shortages in affordable housing, adding tremendously to the horrible statistics associated with poverty.

    Multiply that across this nation and you have tens of millions of people easily tricked and trapped into big-house loans they can’t afford. Despite the fraud, the financiers were bailed out in the 1980’s and again in 2008!

    What a gig! Corrupt to the core! They’ve tasted public subsidies, and hunger for more.

    When I was a kid, “conservatives” were the folks that touted the adage, “your freedoms end where mine begin”.

    It is not conservative to pave the way to the next housing bubble by failing to regulate against it, failing to get affordable housing built, and passing the costs onto U.S. citizens and families across the globe.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Examples please. Where are these multitudes of big home subdivisions miles from downtowns? They were tricked, or greedy? How hard is it to understand how much your house payment is?

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