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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: California | Central Valley | North Bay / Marin | North Coast | Environment & Forest Defense | Government & Elections
The MLPA Initiative: So “Transparent” – They Don’t Exist!
Due to the secretive nature of private funding for the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) “Initiative,” it is difficult to keep track of just who works for whom – much less where, and how much money is being spent. The MLPAI claims to keep its own books, without any legitimate public or governmental oversight, as noted by State Assemblyman Wes Chesbro, at recent Committee hearings in Sacramento.
The MLPAI: So “Transparent” – They Don’t Exist!
Posted on May 12, 2011 by David Gurney
We have filed a lawsuit against the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) “Initiative” for violations of the Bagley-Keene Open Meetings Act during two-day public meetings in April 2010. The response of the private/public “Initiative?”
“The MLPA Initiative is not an organization, agency, or association of any kind which may be sued in a court of law.”
This despite the MLPAI website, listing staff and officers as follows:
Satie Airame, Science and Planning Advisor
Evan W. Fox, Principal Planner
Melissa Miller-Henson, Program Manager
Kelly Sayce, Outreach and Education Coordinator
Ken Wiseman, Executive Director
The MLPA Initiative’s Program Manager Melissa Miller-Henson refused to be legally served with our complaint, and has officially filed a “Motion to Quash” our lawsuit, on the grounds the so-called Initiative is: “not a formal organization or a State agency, it is not incorporated, it has no officers, and it has no members or associates.”
In asserting there are no “officers, members or associates,” the MLPA "Initiative" Program Manager also denies the existence of their organization, as well as any accountability under the law.
Due to the secretive nature of private funding for the “Initiative,” it is difficult to keep track of just who works for whom – much less where, and how much money is being spent. The MLPAI claims to keep its own books, without any legitimate public or governmental oversight, as noted by State Assemblyman Wes Chesbro, at recent Committee hearings in Sacramento.
The Executive Director of the MLPAI, Ken Wiseman, has claimed that he is on the payroll of the the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation – a secretive amalgamation of billion dollar private foundations who led the Initiative. At the same time, Program Manager Melissa Miller-Henson claims to be working for California Natural Resources Agency.
Ken Wiseman has also at various times also handed out business cards indicating his employment by the CNRA.
Asking the staff who they’re working for, and how much they’re being paid can be a bit confusing, even for them. The Foundations, backed up with billions of dollars of corporate cash from the Hewlett-Packard and Intel fortunes, let the money flow freely, and gave generous perks of fancy hotel rooms, expensive meals and private airplane flights for funded staff members.
Science and Planning Advisor Satie Airame says she was financed by the Foundations. Her actual paycheck was funneled through the University of California system. Grants were written by MLPAI staff members to finance the University on behalf of the MLPAI, with private Foundation money.
Kelly Sayce, the so-called “Outreach and Education Coordinator” for the MLPAI, actually was working as a private contractor – the consulting firm “Strategic Earth.” This private firm, ostensibly engaged in outreach and education for a state agency, determining important state laws and public policy, was also apparently paid directly with private funding from the RLFF. (Resources Legacy Fund Foundation)
The following California Dept. of Fish and Game Staff members, according to the MLPAI website, are working directly for the “Initiative”:
Susan Ashcraft, MPA Project Supervisor
Becky Ota, Marine Habitat Conservation Program Manager
Jordan Traverso, Deputy Director of Communications
Stephen P. Wertz, Senior Marine Biologist Supervisor
Though one might reasonably assume these Fish & Game MLPAI officials were paid for with taxpayer dollars, in this corrupt, precedent setting operation, in which private money is being used to blur the line of illegal influence on state agencies and public policy, operatives who post their names as staff are actually working as state employees for an “Initiative” that is directly funded with private money.
This unaccountable mix of private money and taxpayer dollars, that claims to be “open and transparent,” is now so transparent, that when it comes to accountability under the law, they don’t even exist!
The MLPAI’s ludicrous ”Motion to Quash” our lawsuit will be heard at 9:30 A.M. on May 20, 2011 - in Mendocino County Superior Court in Ukiah, California.