Letters + Opinion » Buhne Tribune

GMO Spider-Corn:

You'll have to pry it from my green, webbed fingers


  • Drew Hyland

Say what you will about 3rd District Humboldt County Supervisor Mark Lovelace but the guy is driven to combat climate change.

Lovelace warmed up to voters in the early 2000s by accomplishing community forest preservation in the Arcata area. Meanwhile, during his 2008 campaign for supervisor, Lovelace practically exhaust-ed himself addressing the combustible issues surrounding global warming.

These days, he probably feels like a melting glacier. That's because records reveal that Lovelace traveled out-of-county on official business to a higher degree than any of his peers on the board during the 2012-2013 fiscal year, racking up expense bills to the tune of $4,500. After such a hurricane of journeys, he must be as tuckered as a polar bear fleeing the melting permafrost. We hope that all Lovelace's travels will accomplish the ongoing emission of crucial climate change data in a veritable flood of information.

We would hate to see him get gassed out. Fortunately, it seems a board-level cap-and-trade may be in the works, as 1st District Supervisor Rex Bohn is on track to claim the Supes' 2013-2014 "King Carbon" crown.

Can I Get an Order of Frog-Fries with That?

Wouldn't it be depressing if a new law mandated labeling of everything in the grocery store that contains genetically modified frankenfoods?

If State Sen. Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa) gets her way, children throughout the Golden State will be robbed of the Christmas-morning-like joy of chomping into a suspiciously crunchy bowl of flakes while silently wondering: Will this spider-gene-enhanced cereal transform me into a web-slinging superhero? Sen. Evans is pushing the killjoy GMO labeling proposal even though voters wisely defeated a nearly identical measure at the ballot box in 2012 — rescuing that certain magic feeling we get from consuming, with blind ignorance, potatoes that share a genetic legacy with Kermit the Frog.

This is because existing labeling requirements allow food manufacturers to keep GMO use a secret surprise known only to them — no different, really, than "surprising" a loved one with a lovely bouquet of flowers, or a box of bio-engineered, test tube chocolates.

Thankfully, Big Ag is going scorched earth on the measure (officially, "Senate Bill 1381: Food Labeling: Genetically Engineered Food"), and a recent committee hearing saw the bill struggle in the face of a well-funded opposition of the wing-tipped, pin-striped variety.

Dollison: the WikiLeak Dossier

If campaigns for public office are really just popularity contests in disguise, hardscrabble Humboldt County district attorney candidate Allan Dollison holds an intriguing — if potentially troublesome — advantage over his more monied opponents.

While none of the four candidates for the office is so illustrious as to command his or her own Wikipedia page — the gold standard of Web notoriety — Mr. Dollison's WikiLeaks trove serves as a provocative substitute. Diplomatic cables published to the site disclose that a then-Army Capt. Dollison organized and led Afghani judges and tribal officials in a conference focused on patching together a functioning justice system in the beleaguered nation. An impressive credential, no doubt.

Somewhat awkwardly, however, the cables imply that Dollison endorsed Afghanistan's long-standing regime of Old World justice — in which tribal elders dispense Solomonistic sentences — as an agreeable adjunct to formal courts of law.

Exactly how a Dollison administration might apply village-elder-style dispute resolution to Humboldt is unknown. But should Dollison win the election, Murl Harpham's retirement may prove short-lived.

Medicare's Big-data Dump

Those white lab coats must have felt uncomfortably warm last week when Medicare suddenly disclosed payment figures for the nation's 800,000 MDs — including a couple hundred physicians here in the Fog Belt.

Medicare's payment figures to docs — long enshrouded in legislative red tape — were reluctantly released by the agency under a little-publicized provision of Obamacare. Medicare has long provided taxpayer-funded health insurance to the elderly but, under Obamacare, ongoing funding of the program mandates that payments to individual physicians be publicly disclosed.

Medicare's top recipients in the Eureka area were surgeon Michael Palmer and oncologist Uma Suryadevara — each of whom collected a paltry $1.3 million in 2012. Most HumCo docs fell into the five-figure, or low-six-figure range. Nationally, Medicare's data-dump triggered an eruption of click-baiting headlines over the alleged "millionaire's club," led by one Florida doctor who received $21 million in payments in a single year.

Sweating the GPU? Not so Much

If the county's General Plan Update is something you've been getting up to speed on, you need to get real: The General Plan doesn't actually regulate anything important. Don't believe me?

Then explain how it is that — although the following land uses receive not a single mention in the existing General Plan — cell phone towers, check-cashing establishments and medical marijuana mega-grows have so proliferated the landscape in the 30 years since the plan was adopted.

In practice, the county General Plan is a vague, watered-down carte blanche for wildcatters, though it's disingenuously advertised as a blueprint, or master plan, for county land use and development.

A casual glance at SoHum on Google Earth tells us all we need to know about the "high" level of mastery involved.

Ryan Hurley is a Eureka-based attorney. Follow him if you dare: @BuhneTribune.

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