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Sins Of Commission in West Hollywood International Film Festival

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

Sins Of Commission in West Hollywood International Film Festival

It’s official, SINS is in.

I would like to publicly say thank you to Martin Deluca the Director / Producer of the West Hollywood International Film Festival for having the courage to screen controversial films from around the world like ours.

Embrace the controversy! Revel in the process of Free Speech. This is Democracy! Use it or loose it as the saying goes.

Whether you agree with SINS OF COMMISSION or not is irrelevant to me as a filmmaker.

What is relevant to me, as a filmmaker, is that Americans are not stopped from being able to choose what to read, or watch.

KNBC reporter Cary Berglund asked the California Coastal Commission’s lawyer [Christina Bull Arndt] in the Attorney General’s Office, (because that’s who defends the Triple C -to the tune of $2 Billion a year…is that right?) why they want a copy of the film.

The assistant A.G said that it is “discovery”, and that the commission is casting a “wide net for information.”

I know how tough things are in California financially right now so rather than burden the state with more costs, I’d like to offer to buy a ticket for Attorney General Edmund Brown Jr. Unfortunately, sir, you would have to provide your own transportation.  I know, with the recent gas tax hike it is kind of expensive but it maybe more cost effective in the long run.. Can you cover your own parking?

Governor Schwarzenegger has a place in Malibu, maybe you can crash there and save the people the cost of a hotel. Come to think of it, I’ll spring for two tickets - Arnie can go too…call it a guys night out kind of thing.

For more information about the festival, SINS OF COMMISSION, and the other fabulous controversial films from around the world please visit the film festival Site

California Coastal Commission prepares to burn folks out of Malibu

Saturday, May 30th, 2009

This video does a lot to address the dangers of fire safety with regards to the SANTA MONICA MOUNTAINS CONSERVANCY’s push for overnight camping (with complicity of CALIFORNIA COASTAL COMMISSION) in an extremely dangerous part of Malibu the Los Angeles County Fire Department calls a CLASS 4 HAZARDOUS FIRE ZONE.

Just in time for fire season!

Sound like a good idea to you?

We didn’t think so …

BUT the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy thinks so, AND is going to do everything they can to convince California it is just a case of “those” pesky Malibu residents wanting to keep people out of Malibu instead of truthfully saying California families want to save their homes and save you, me, and the rest of California Billions of Dollars we don’t have fighting fires that we ought not be fighting.

We love marshmallow roasts- just not in Category 4 Fire Hazard zones.

So we think it’s a good idea to put you on notice:

If the California Coastal Commission and Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy allow overnight camping in Ramierez Canyon and there is a fire and lives and/or property is lost… we have one heck of a case for gross negligence.

Who else can we name?

Did you know the AG spent nearly $2 billion dollars of OUR MONEY defending the California Coastal Commission in litigation in 2008… Heck yeah, that’s a lot of Marshmallows.

That number is just an estimate.

SINS OF COMMISSION has been looking for the actual number. The California Coastal Commission’s website conveniently doesn’t show their litigation costs. It is buried somewhere deep somewhere else. It is not listed on the governor’s budget site either.

Why?

Because if the real numbers are known, people all over California would pissed off, and would want to roast more than marshmallows.

Video courtesy of  http://www.safecanyons.com. Fire footage is from the Corral Fire in 2007.


The Edge of Reality

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

THE EDGE BUYS LAND IN MALIBU

When I first read “The Edge of Destruction” by CRAIG STEPHENS in LA WEEKLY, the first thing that hit me was the provocative headline.  Mr. Stephens knows how to sell a story. He knows if the headline read: Malibu Welcomes The Edge or The Edge Brings Much Needed Jobs To Community or The Edge Contributes Handsomely To Property Taxes In Malibu - no one would notice.

But Mr. Stephen’s headline identifies a huge problem in Coastal California and the rest of America. One that I call DA-IS-NA-ID. Do As I Say, Not As I Do.

The other thing I noticed is that the people complaining already live there, and obviously built something themselves or moved into a house someone else built.

I wonder if they were subject to the same kind of scrutiny and contempt they so freely demonstrate for The Edge. Their home affected the environment too. So what is the underlying issue? An Archery Range?

Had a lot of fun at Malibu Mountain Archery Range. Put a bunch of holes in the paper targets. Liked to see all the Boy Scouts out there camping on a weekend. All the kids learning how to use a bow and arrow, cook, camp out and hike. Glad someone is exposing the no good x&%!@ that would throw out a charity

There is plenty of land already preserved in the State of California. Out of California’s 99,882.700 Acres 42,288,380 is already owned by the state or the feds for a total of 42. 36% 

That’s a lot of acres of public land available for archery, not to mention the Archery club could potentially find a better spot somewhere else in the huge, already well preserved, Santa Monica Mountains. (Source: www.nrcm.org/documents/publiclandownership.pdf).  What is the real issue with The Edge’s new home? What It really boils down to is old-fashioned American prejudice.

 DA-IS-NA-ID

I read down the list of comments. One after another, people just grumble, spout and spew, but one thing is for certain…they are pissed! So pissed,  they threaten not to buy the latest U2 album. 

Reminds me of frothing folk who burned their John Lennon records way back when for saying ” the Beatles were bigger than Jesus.”  The times, they have have sure changed.

People now refuse to buy a record because someone wants to build home in their neighborhood.

This has nothing to do with whether these projects/Obama are good or bad, it has to do with U2’s hypocrisy. So am I stunned to find out that they don’t live up to the same environmental standards that they demand from the little guy? Nope! We are supposed walk to work; they ride in private his and her jets

How did Obama get into this? Is he moving in too? Please tell me which U2 record is calling people e to walk to work? Also please tell me whose environmental standards are we supposed to live up to? Yours? 

Are we all now socialist workers of the world?

Have we hung up our American individuality to don identical black burkas and lock step to work? Are we now supposed to look over our shoulders or peer out from behind dark curtains to see what the other is doing, rather than pay attention to ourselves? 

In the 1950’s we had a RED SCARE in this country. Many of you probably remember Senator Joe McCarthy. Many people were accused of being UN-AMERICAN and black listed.

The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) investigated communist organizations. The HUAC came into being because they wanted to prove that a lot of actors and writers were communists.

Is this where we are going? Are we witnessing the beginning of a GREEN SCARE?  Someone not living like us, doing something different from us?  

A few folks raised the issue why that land wasn’t purchased by others - or even the conservancy? Good question.

I am sorely confused. Was land purchased by David Evans, or not? If he has the money to buy a swath, why shouldn’t he? He worked hard; he earned it. If he wants to build a house for every member of his family, why can’t he? 

Other people even had the gall to mention the biggest bugaboo of all …property rights. Two words that are as evil as a rapist, baby killer, or mass- murderer judging by one fellow’s comments:

Have property rights? Yes, and within the law you can be be immoral, teach your kids to be racists and never deal with ethics or fairness. You may be as greedy and uncaring as the law allows. You may do what you want with your property and never consider your neighbors, your community, your city or the planet. Under the law in other countries you can torture and kill your wife.

Whew…I guess in his world, wife killing and property rights go hand in hand. But this fellow did say the magic words “Under the law in other countries…” Let’s read them again, shall we, Under the law in other countries…

What the respondent seems to have forgotten is that we are in AMERICA, and under American law, The Edge has constitutional rights - just like him, or any of the other folk who wrote in. But why talk about the constitution, say you, that’s a right-wing issue, isn’t it?  Says who - and since when?

Constitutional rights and Environmental protection are not mutually exclusive of each other. Both need great care and our due diligence to insure we have freedom and an healthy environment for future generations. So what is the solution?

Here is a novel concept: Why not welcome The Edge into the community and thank him for the bread he will be putting on the tables of the many who will be employed building whatever he builds.

The Scarlet Letter, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, set in 17th-century Puritan Boston, and tells the story of Hester Prynne, who gives birth after committing adultery, and struggles to create a new life of repentance and dignity.

Most Puritans were a strict, unfeeling, and unforgiving lot. Hester was scorned by women who felt  she deserved a larger punishment than she actually received.

Instead of only being made to stand on the scaffold and wear the scarlet letter on her chest, they suggest that she have it branded on her forehead or even be put to death.

 

It is to the credit of human nature, that, except where its selfishness is brought into play, it loves more readily than it hates.  Hatred, by a gradual and quiet process, will even be transformed to love, unless the change be impeded by a continually new irritation of the original feeling of hostility.  ~Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter, Chapter XIII

Shall we do the same to The Edge?

California Coastal Commission to allow overnight camping in Extreme Fire Hazard Zones?

Saturday, February 14th, 2009

Roasting Marshmallows

Roasting Marshmallows sure is fun!

The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy is proposing to install new overnight campgrounds in three of this area’s most delicate canyons: Ramirez, Escondido and Corral.

These three canyons are in areas classified by the state as “Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones.”

(Source: WestsideToday.com, February 13, 2009)

Is anyone else alarmed or thinking, “Gee, this sounds like is a really, really bad idea?” Just so supporters of the CCC or the SMMC can roast marshmallows? Wow.

SINS OF COMMISSION provides exclusive information that delves into policies like this and discovered agencies like the California Coastal Commission actually perpetuate these wild fires because they refuse fuel modification in public land under their charge. Then when a really big, catastrophic fire blows through, they rock on their heels and whistle.

Wind's really kicking in... pass me another marshmallow!

This is not about Saving the Coast, Beach Access or people’s rights to hike on trails, the worthiness of trails or public vs. private property, Republicans v. Democrats, Liberals v. Conservatives, Left v. Right. etc.  It is about public safety - meaning all of us -plain and simple.

Are our collective memories short or what?

The Corral fire, the most destructive fire in the city of Malibu in nearly 15 years burned 4,700 acres consumed 49 homes and forced the evacuation of thousands of residents. About 1,750 firefighters, at least 45 fire engines, numerous hand crews, 23 water-dropping helicopters and two fixed-wing planes battled the blaze.

(Source LA Times November 27, 2007)

I sure hope someone, Governor Schwarzenegger, in charge of protecting public safety, Governor Schwarzenegger, is reading this blog in Sacramento, Governor Schwarzenegger, and people in Australia too.

Yes, of course, every lobbyist and politician loves eco-dollars and wants to be seen as a friend of the environment, but what will you say to a fire fighter’s widow… especially when a fire could have been prevented?

Last year’s Corral Canyon fire and the recent fire in Montecito destroyed hundreds of homes and threatened thousand of lives.  And, these fires had two things in common: They were caused by people who did not completely extinguish their fires; and the millions of dollars spent to fight the fires were paid for by the taxpayers.

(Source: WestsideToday.com, February 13, 2009)

The Malibu City Council decided that allowing camping and intensive public uses in high fire areas created too great a risk to visitors and neighbors.

That decision has been opposed by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.

Is it any surprise our tax base is disappearing? Hey, where is everyone going? Last one out of the state, please close the door.

Can folks in Australia roast marshmallows in the middle of their hazardous flammable brush zones? If you can, please you guys… don’t.

Feeling burnt?

Help us spread the word.

SINS OF COMMISSION needs your help. We desperately need funds to finish the film. Please donate now though our fiscal sponsor, The International Documentary Association, a 501 c3 non profit organization, and receive a tax deduction from Uncle Sam or at least an I.O.U.

California Coastal Commission - Time for Change - Part 1

Saturday, January 3rd, 2009

Something happening here…what it is ain’t exactly clear…

-Crosby, Stills and Nash

Current California lobbyist registration laws exempt lobbyists who try to sway the California Coastal Commission’s land-use decisions.

Don’t the people deserve to know who is influencing the California Coastal Commission? 

HISTORY

The California Coast is the symbol of our state and personifies the bond WE, the people, have with our land and all nature.  Arguably, it is our most precious natural asset and touches the lives of millions of Californians and people from around the world.

It’s good for the soul. Its a place to recreate, relax, and still a great source of fresh air. It’s not only good for us, but the coast is home to all kinds of fish, birds, mammals, and a wide range of plants. The coast also drives our economy. Coastal visitors bring more than $2 billion a year to Los Angeles County.¹

Three decades ago, oil spills blackened California’s beaches. Uncontrolled development threatened public access to the coast. California voters acted to protect the coast to show the world our commitment to be good stewards of our coastal resources for future generations of Californians and all people everywhere. 

It seemed like a good idea back then to create the California Coastal Commission, a government entity that would protect the coast. It also seemed like a good idea to protect that group from the politics of politics by isolating it from the electoral process.

Only one of these concepts is still a good idea…can you guess which one?

Coastal California Today 

The health of the coast is at risk. Runoff and sewage degrades the water, harms marine ecosystems and closes the beaches the California Coastal Commission is supposed to protect.  

By what rights does the California Coastal Commission have the power to determine whether a house can be seen from a trail, or the open sea, or what color it is, or if people can plant a rose bush, when the coast - the natural resource they’ve actually been mandated to protect, isn’t doing so well? Isn’t that akin to rearranging the deck furniture on the Titanic? 

All Californians know beach access is important. The coastal commission likes to puff up its chest, pat itself on the back, and point to beach access or Beach Clean Up Day (a very good thing) with pride. But doesn’t it seem a little bit deceitful because what good is beach access or a clean beach if the water is too polluted to swim in?

Santa Monica Bay beaches exceed newly adopted bacteria standards. The beach at Santa Monica Pier was by far the most polluted in Santa Monica Bay and was the second most polluted beach in California this summer.²

Los Angeles County beaches received the lowest marks in the state, with nearly one in five beaches receiving F grades. Malibu’s famed Surfrider received a D. Long Beach had the most polluted beaches, according to the report. Nearly half its 25 monitored beaches received C to F. ¹

FOLLOW THE MONEY

TOM HAYDEN tried to reform the California Coastal Commission. Way back in 1988 he smelled a skunk. He authored AB 4122 in an attempt to prohibit Coastal Commission members from engaging in political fund-raising activities. It was defeated. (probably with money from the same organizations he was trying to save us from.)

Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed requiring that lobbyists’ private (ex parte) communications with members of the Coastal Commission be fully disclosed and posted on the Internet. Why? If federal election campaign contributions are public, why not California Coastal Commission lobbist contributions?

California State Sen. Denise Ducheny of San Diego introduced Senate Bill 1295 Februray 19, 2008. Currently, the California Coastal Act allows the commission to initiate an appeal of a coastal development permit with the action of any two members of the commission.

It just doesn’t seem right that the people who make the appeal also decide the appeal,”

-Sen. Denise Ducheny

(Source:  North County Times, March 13, 2008)

Predictably, SB 1295 was also defeated.

The California coast is way too important to be left to the whims of political appointees who are beholding to their patron and easily swayed by the green cash lobbyists so readily throw.

Feeling burnt? Help us get the message out.

Donate now through the International Documentary Association, our fiscal sponsor.

Footnotes:

1 http://articles.latimes.com/2008/sep/26/local/me-beaches26

2 http://www.healthebay.org/assets/pdfdocs/brc/summer/2007/report_print.pdf

Kathleen Kenny vs California Coastal Commission - SINS OF COMMISSION

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

A working class hero is something to be…

-John Lennon 

Kathleen Kenny

Kathleen Kenny - Courtesy of Kathleen Kenny Family © 2008 pchpfilm, inc.

When I interviewed Kathleen Kenny, she had less than a year to live. Kathleen was a brave woman… you could see she was a fighter.

Maybe it was the Irish in her. But there was something else too - an unwavering strength in her belief she was right.

I interviewed Kathleen a total of two times. In both interviews, she was  lucid, very focused and determined. She spoke softly but clearly, thanks, in large part, to a heavy morphine drip. We spoke about 90 minutes each day.

When we finished our work together, she looked up. The toll from her battle with cancer was evident, and asked me if I believed her story. I said that I did. She smiled, sighed with relief, and closed her eyes. 

Kathleen confided in me that no one she ever spoke with about the California Coastal Commission believed her story, and was afraid she would pass on without ever seeing a great injustice righted. Kathy asked me to tell her story, knowing full well it wouldn’t do her any good, but might empower others to stand up for their rights.

Kathleen’s Story

Political hacks say fighting city hall is like gambling in Las Vegas, the house always wins. It’s not always the truth. It is just what the house wants us to believe.  Conventional wisdom says we should always choose our battles wisely; but, what do we do when an unwise battles choose us?

In Kathleen’s words

Kathy in happier days - Courtesy Kathleen Kenny Family -©2008 pchpfilm, inc.

“We went to a public auction that was in Topanga Canyon, California and we ended up buying four lots up there, four small lots, from this auction at a very reasonable price with the idea of building a small home on each one of those lots.

There appeared to be a lot of difficulty in getting permits.

We would fill out the forms that were requested of us, go back the next time, they were lost. Been sent to various departments, the road department, to the Coastal Commission, Regional Planning, and we never could seem to get ahead.

Then we began to, as time went on, notice that others were building, and we would go over to them and ask, ‘we’re having trouble getting a permit, on this very small house,” by the way, that house was only 661 Square feet, are we doing something wrong?’

Kathleen Kenny - Courtesy of Kenny Family © 2008 pchpfilm, inc.

I wrote a letter, to the supervisors, and told them this story, in detail… over three years in trying to get a permit for a 660 square foot house, saw others around us building, who seemed to get their permits in thirty days, or less.

And I gave a whole history of my background. That I had come here as a young girl, on a bus, with nine dollars, had gone to school here, my dream was to have a home, so forth and so-on. 

 

And, little by little, people began saying, ‘You have to pay money…’

‘Just give the building department money, put money in a plain envelope when you go up there, bring your plans with you, just slide it across the counter, and at the same time, ask them if they could double check your plans to see if there was anything that you had done wrong, or bring out the fact that they have a lot of expertise, maybe they could help you,’ so forth and so-on. 

We came ultimately to learn that nobody got a permit in that area. Either from the Coastal Commission or the Building Department without working through an expediter, or paying money under the table

Kathleen Kenny & Art Starz

Kathleen Kenny & Art Starz - Courtesy of Kathleen Kenny Family © 2008 pchpfilm, inc

We jack hammered the foundation ourselves, poured the foundation, and, in fact, we came to the attention of the Los Angeles Times. And, they came out and wrote a front page story of the Real Estate section of the Sunday Times. The title of that article was, “Sweat Equity.” 

Sweat Equity

LA TIMES May 15, 1988

And they, in that article, they told that story, of what we had been through, and that I’d gone to school, so forth and so-on, and in the process they mentioned that it had cost us ($25,000.00) twenty-five thousand dollars to build this home.

It was absolutely a beautiful home.

That then began a flood of people who read that, had dreamed of having their own homes, who began going down to the building department, trying to get information, coming out to our property and asking us…

The next thing that we knew, is that Art [ Kathy's companion] and I were both arrested. 

  

 

They came the next day with, as I said, two sheriffs who stood guard holding rifles. You can see them opening up panty drawers, and lifting up my panties, out of the drawer, opening up the refrigerator. They also had cameras and  were taking pictures of everything.”


 

 

kath1edit.jpg

Kathleen Kenny - Courtesy of Kenny Family © 2008 pchpfilm, inc.

Epilogue

Kathleen Kenny stood against a fleet of government lawyers, a deputy attorney general, and all of the might, resources, and power of the state of California and did what no one else had done: She filed a RICO lawsuit (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) against the County of Los Angeles.

She did it by herself - pro per - without a lawyer, and she won.   

But, as Kathy tells it, a deputy district attorney took it upon himself, or maybe got instructions from on high, to order the presiding judge in her case to over turn her verdict.

Kathleen Kenny continued to fight this injustice up to her death.

Kathleen Kenny passed away February 16, 2007. 

Post mortem, $2.4 million dollars in fines still stands against her surviving companion, Art Starz.



 
 
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