Opinion Piece by Samuel Strait – April 17, 2017 – It has been a few days since I noticed a letter to the CCTimes by Nicki Reddwood, of Brookings, Oregon “For Eileen Cooper and Joe Gillespie (And everybody else as well)”. I realized it at the time that it would be difficult to convince Mrs Reddwood that clearly her friend Eileen Cooper was other than the idealized poster child for the environment that she would have us all believe. Mrs. Reddwood seems to see only what she wishes to see in a person and is extremely resistant to any other scenario. I started to respond to her letter, then realized that this would be a way to expose the pure intolerance that activists such as Eileen Cooper are want to visit on anyone who disagrees with her sometimes rather peculiar version of events, An example of this intolerance is never more obvious than when Mrs. Reddwood in her letter refers to those that disagree with Eileen as “rednecks”. Not the best way for a person to be credible when asking the question, “Can we all come together?”
The kind of person Eileen Cooper, in her private persona may well be the kind of person described by Ms. Reddwood, but her public persona is another kind of individual entirely. Having spent time at various public meetings, I have personally witnessed many of the sides of that very public face. While I do not find her performances offensive or threatening, there is a certain indecisiveness, incoherence and a mile of rather odd logic contained in her utterances. I can also understand that she has certain issues with self confidence and could easily view reactions to her lobbying as “bullying”, yet hardly vicious bullying as Ms. Reddwood characterizes. It is fairly easy for intolerant and insecure individuals to resent any opposition to their viewpoint and spin out labels such as hate, vicious bulling , name calling, and threatening behavior to account for the reaction to her extreme positions on the environment. Let me be clear, I am not saying it did not happen, but a person should remember that it takes at least two people in conflict for any sort of characterization of events to occur. In mature adults, the obvious method of preventing such behavior is to step back and examine YOUR part in the disagreement.
Over the years Eileen has been routinely associated with what has become identified as a vile organization by many, known as “The Friends of Del Norte”. Eileen and her organization FODN, in a rather extreme sense of environmental justification have regularly put the environment in front of sound policy which would benefit many of the citizens of this County. When packed meetings and demands for extraordinary concessions for real or imaginary environmental concerns fail, the group invariably resorts to the legal system, lawsuits and injunctions, many of which are costly to the taxpayer and frivolous in nature. It is said that fully sixty percent of the funding for any proposed infrastructure project to be undertaken in this County is lost due to the activities of Eileen, Joe and the Friends of Del Norte. This is the nature of the progressive activist in Del Norte County and Nation wide. If it doesn’t goes the way WE want it to go then any means necessary, including coercion is on the table. There is no tolerance for individuals in Eileen public face for anyone who defies her notion of the way things ought to be.
This by no means is meant as a message for her to stop what she is doing TO this County and its citizens. It is meant as a mechanism to understand that while MS. Reddwood may wish for us to believe Eileen Cooper, Joe Gillespie and others are candidates for deification, there is a very public persona of each individual that has taken a very laudable endeavor, protection of the environment in Del Norte County, and twisted it into a very ugly enterprise. In doing so they have created such a backlash to their behavior by a growing number of local citizens that their voices no longer carry the weight they once had. In a reaction to that loss of power over Del Norte County becoming a place for all walks of life, not just the environmentally sensitive, Eileen and her group have resorted more and more to the courts to coerce their brand of the environment on us all. The result is a general stagnation in the County for many of its residents, the loss of many of our best and brightest young people, and the prevention of a greater number of the County’s citizens from realizing a comfortable and secure way of life. But, this is lost on Eileen’s public persona as she continues to occupy time at many public meetings in order to promote HER version of Del Norte County.
As such, the idea of those in this community “coming together” rests largely on the fragile, insecure, and intolerant shoulders of Eileen and the Friends Del Norte to become more circumspect just as you, Mrs. Reddwood, have demanded from those “rednecks” that you seem to find in such disfavor. I realized that Mrs. Reddwood will find it extremely difficult to come to terms with the concept that every thing that Eileen has been involved in is not necessarily beneficial to the population at large. As a result more and more of her activities are beginning to be viewed with contempt. I do not believe that Eileen has the strength of character to realize that protecting the environment is not the end all, for people would like to live in the County as well. No place on earth are you going to find the idealized place that exists in Eileen’s mind. Obsessive and compulsive, with a little dash of psychosis comes to mind when I listen to Eileen recently in public meetings. Keep in mind that many of us have this indelible picture of a rental on Movie Lane that was spewing raw sewage into a nearby stream. So much for that image of perfection…..
11 thoughts on “Friends of Del Norte questionable”
I found this in my files from December 31, 2002
Dear Mr. Tyson,
I am writing to you from Milwaukee Wisconsin. Although the eastern portion of our state is lined with continuous coastline we have no wetland ecosystem that compares with Humboldt Bay. Industrial development along the shores of Lake Michigan over the years has caused severe contamination and pollution of our Great Lake. Eating a fish from Lake Michigan increases the chances of developing cancer dramatically. Each year the Department of Natural Resources stocks the lake with salmon. Each fall the salmon swim upstream in the Milwaukee River to spawn. The only problem is that the Milwaukee River is so polluted that the eggs never hatch.
One of Eureka’s greatest assets is Humboldt Bay and the natural ecosystems that it supports. Considering that a larger and currently functioning Syncrolift facility already exists in Crescent City approximately 120 miles to the north, common sense dictates that 20 million dollars of taxpayer monies could be more wisely spent, perhaps on developing infrastructure and attractions for tourism which holds a more realistic result. If I want to see toxic chemicals, solvents, PCBs etc. spilling into water I can go to our industrial lakefront. If I want to see Old Growth Forest, breathtaking Sea Coastline and Tide pools and restored Victorian Homes I will go to northern California.
As our cities and suburbs spill out on to our farmlands and uncontrolled urban sprawl fragments or wipes out our forests, wetlands and prairies, places that have natural beauty such as in northern California become more desirable and special. Please don’t spoil Humboldt Bay for some perceived short term gain but preserve it for the enjoyment and enrichment of current and future generations.
As an environmental activist for over 20 years I recognize this “softsoap” attack on Ms. Cooper. It is meant to appeal to “flawed, lazy and uninformed thinkers”. The mere fact that you are attacking Ms. Cooper shows that she is extremely effective. Marginalizing, trivializing, demonizing and yes patronizing the environmental protection advocate is also part of the process. I know this pro “economic development” argument chapter and verse. First they only want to do one project promising, even in writing in a “comprehensive plan”, that they won’t encroach in the environmental area again. Then 5 or 10 years later the ruling body (Alders, council members etc.) propose more development conveniently pretending that the comprehensive plan doesn’t exist. When someone brings a copy of the plan to their attention they just vote to alter and amend (text amendment) the plan so they can develop their project anyway. The ruling bodies drag the process out for months and years to exacerbate the public until they give up and say “You can’t fight City hall”. We’ll guess what ? you can fight City hall, and WIN for the protection of the environment for current and future generations. If you want economic development so badly why don’t you move to a more populated area or are you afraid of being a “small fish in a big pond” ?
Jim Maurer, Milwaukee Wisconsin
I find it interesting that someone from Milwaukie, Wisconsin can comment on something that he has no specific personal knowledge about Ms.Cooper, her activities, the area where she conducts those activities, the nature of those activities, or anything that remotely allows an informed assessment of Ms. Cooper other than pure speculation.
Furthermore, if you are trying to base your speculation on an environmental assessment made by someone comparing the shoreline of Lake Michigan with Humboldt Bay and the area around Eureka, there is no comparison, as each is uniquely different. Del Norte and Humboldt Bay are also very different and hardly comparable. What you do not know as evidenced in your posts hardly makes you a reliable person to talk about the points made in the piece. Your claim of “twenty years as an environmental activist” actually makes your comments less credible and clearly bias based solely on a shared experience with Ms. Cooper. Unfortunately this is not an uncommon problem when trying to inject some sort of rational thinking when discussing environmental issues with activists such as Ms. Cooper. They may not go full religious, preachy, pyschotic, like Ms. Cooper invariably resorts to, but it quickly becomes impossible to have a rational conversation with people who start out attacking the messenger, making assumptions, then moving right into labels, all the while talking about process and motivation of which you have absolutely no first hand knowledge. I do not know you. I absolutely know Ms. Cooper and how she conducts her version of activism. It should appall most people who claim to “being beneficial to the environment”. She, unfortunately, does not represent that group and likely never will understand why her activities are very rarely beneficial to the environment.
impressed w/ your latest dissertation long & needing fact checking as usual ~but people who spend so much time alone, as you obviously do, writing keister reviews that mask themselves as pseudo literate to low info~low eds who feel challenged & charged & cozy by in pixel print trash talk from a KFUG~ DJ. A star! From afare! a poet! Straight! don’t you know it! Facts~ what are they! Bulls only need hay!
Once again, I am amused.
Lin, it is refreshing to see that you are impressed with my writing skills. I, on the other hand, have given you some time to reflex on your comments, and alas, have concluded that you have neither found any false statements or anything of substance to add to the discussion. It must be truly embarrassing for you to be up staged by a “KFUG DJ” where your response to the exposure of one of your icons is hurling disappointingly unimaginative abuse. Sorry that I have given you cause for a very bad day.
I have found that listening to people plus extensive reading is often a cure for many of the misconceptions that can be found in the broader world. If you read a post no matter how much you disagree with it, there are often little bits of information that just might further a person’s education. On the contrary, if you approach things with a closed mind, you become lost to the world of continuing to improve on your cumulative knowledge. A person might just find that pearl of wisdom within something you disagree with, just as often as that which you agree.
I hope you are in a more agreeable mind set when you respond to one of my posts in the future and perhaps an informative dialog will result. Your post disparaging my intent and character says more about you than this humble “KFUG DJ”. Looking forward to our next “pixel print” discussion and hope you are better prepared to defend your position, in this case, what ever that might have been.
Sam, Stop blowing smoke! I couldn’t care less what you think of Eileen Cooper. Deal with the issues!
I am amused.
And, to continue that thought, I guess you must be a modern day Rip Van Winkle, asleep for the past twenty five years or so. Let me see if I can get to the issues.
1. Been in opposition to nearly every major effort and many minor efforts to establish some sort of viable economy in the County.
2. Been in opposition to every effort to establish a safe and reliable road network into the County.
3. Been in opposition to all efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act which has allowed Sutter Health to rack up astronomical profits both locally and system wide.
4. Has been either directly involved in regulations or opposition to both farming in the Smith River Delta and our Commercial fishing efforts.
5. Was involved in the Dam removal process on the Klamath River, which ultimately could result in the contamination of the entire lower Klamath by releasing nearly 100 years of the accumulated build up of contaminants behind the dams.
6. Has been heavily supportive of the largely dysfunctional Solid Waste Authority, you might know of them as the JPA who “lost $30,000” under the sterling leadership of Kevin Hendrick.
7. Has promoted a recycling program in the County that is unrealistic for this area, remember “Zero Waste”, and currently supports what has become a curb side recycling program that is so expensive that our contracted recycler couldn’t continue with the contract and remain in business.
8. Were largely responsible for not having a lengthened runway at the airport, and now a new air terminal that indebted the County to the tune of $2.8.
9. Belongs to a group that is so extreme with regard to the environment that they have become its enemy rather than its savior. The little boy who cries wolf too often!
10. Has been directly responsible for costing the County and private citizens millions of dollars in various legal activities in order to promote real growth.
Need I go on, or have you remained awake long enough to get the picture?
The original piece was meant to correct the rather idealized portrait of Eileen and her value to the people of this County contained in a letter by Nikki Reddwood and nothing more. As you and Mrs. Reddwood have chosen to make it more than it was intended to convey, this is just a small taste of what is out there.
I love blowing smoke. Your serve.
It is not very clear what you are actually arguing here in this blog. All I see in every other statement is an ad homimem attack against Eileen and an insinuation into my ways of thinking and reasoning. What are you actually arguing against? Or for? Are you saying that people should not protect nature? Are you saying that it is ok to wish someone death? Maybe you can be more specific. I never glorified anyone. What I stated in my letter was that it is unethical to wish caring people death. My letter was meant as a peace message and to encourage the community to come together and discuss things peacefully.
I could spend time walking you through my post, but as I said in the beginning of that post, I could be as clear as glass and you wouldn’t get it. Your letter clearly defines you and your assessment of Eileen Cooper. As such, I could walk 5,000 people in front of you which would give the same assessment of Eileen’s public persona and you would only hear what you wished to hear. If you think that every other sentence is an “ad hominem attack” on Eileen, you should for once in your life view her behavior at Board of Supervisor’s meetings where as a member of the audience she will unprompted, give her view from that audience of a speaker’s public comment with which she disagrees. It is neither nice, tolerant or respectful. I don’t think you will find many outside of your circle who will disagree.
I am not insinuating anything about the way you view Eileen, it is just what you chose to ignore what I wrote about. It is Eileen’s public behavior and her association with Friends of Del Norte that garner the displeasure that she receives. I don’t know how I can be any clearer. It really isn’t about protecting nature as you want to simplify it, but the extreme nature of her advocacy.
Most people who find Eileen’s name drawn into a conversation of which I have had or listened manysuch conversation, even those that are environmentally sensitive, have a difficult time defending her version of protecting nature. Quite frankly they most often characterize it as beyond extreme, not remotely normal. If you disagree with her version, it results in an almost verbal assault upon you.
In the past and up to the present time, her meddling with the hopes and dreams of private individuals in the County have resulted in their desires being crushed by the group that she has become a very visible spokesperson. As far as arguing for or against something, all I can say is you really do not know all the faces of your friend. Most of us know her from a VERY different perspective. If you are looking for some kind of magical moment where everyone in the community is able “to come together and discuss things peacefully”, that would require Eileen and the Friends of Del Norte to come to terms with the fact that most people in the community would like to see some form of reasonable behavior out of Eileen and Friends.
I really don’t have a dog in this fight, as I said in my post I am neither offended by her or threatened, but I do get around and do listen to what is said about your friends. My personal experiences of Eileen, mostly as a listener, are similar in nature to what I have described. I know you can’t wrap your mind around this, but much of Eileen’s problems are of her own making.
I once talked to a friend of mine who has a close relationship with Eileen. I can remember at the time saying to her that if you cry wolf when ever you perceive some sort of threat to nature, be it real or imagined, at some point the community stops listening to you. Then, where will you be if nature really needs protection. Eileen, and the Friends of Del Norte have cried WOLF! way too often to the point that some of the reaction to her and Friends is completely understandable.
You seem fixed on the notion that reaction to her advocacy has resulted in “death threats”. While most people would view such talk as beyond the pale, you should know that her activities have long ago reached that level of beyond the pale. This does not excuse anything as responsible adults should be able to come to some kind of resolution without resorting to killing one another. I think many have given up hope that Eileen and Friends will ever come to that table.
You have asked a lot of questions in your letter and in your response to my post. As such, I asked around today before responding to your reply to my post to see if I wasn’t as clear as you imply. Sorry to say that your response didn’t fair very well. Too many people have experienced the personality that Eileen displays in public and can say very little in her defense. I encourage you to respond, if you can some how come up with some thing more substantive, as we would all like to hear just why she hasn’t recognized that she has become a pariah in this County for many. I will leave it up to you to respond if you desire, but keep in mind that what I speak of is not taken lightly and comes from being in this community for many years.