Thursday, April 1, 2010

Ernie Branscomb and Publican Justification

OR: Everything Is About Something Different

When I first moved back to Humboldt County and started up my blog here, I first became interested in what was going in Southern Humboldt. There were three primary bloggers, not necessarily in this order of preference, but: 1) Ernie Branscomb – Because I knew the name and family and there was some history. I had some trouble placing him until I found out he is younger than I am. While he may know me, I certainly had no interest in him back then. Probably because he hasn't changed one whit in over 50 years.

2) Redheaded Blackbelt – Kym Kemp, because she lives up Salmon Creek and seemed to be more broadminded and accommodating than most.

3) SoHum Parlance II – Eric Kirk. He seemed knowledgeable and served a good counter-point to Ernie's word-worrisome litany.

I remember the first time I commented on his blog, I asked him if “he had just crawled out from under a rock"? Ernie, as a would-be local historian manages to put his rather biased point of view on what he says is supposed to have happened in the Eel River Valley. His blog caption says, in part: “Dedicated to remembering how it was “back then”, and Tales about the Eel River Valley, and the wisdom of the people that live there.”

Be assured, I'm not saying that what Ernie says, per se, is not true. Nor am I saying that his perspective is not true. If nothing else, Ernie is, most of the time, rather informative. But then again, neither am I saying that he is HONEST in everything he says, either.

His latest litany that caught my attention was: “Anna Hamilton, Friend Of Us” where he really struggles with the truth.  Here he struggles with his longtime part as an independent businessman concerned about the viability of his local community and how he perceives it's degeneration caused by the influx of criminal “hippie” pot or marijuana growers taking over Southern Humboldt. This wasn't the first time he's broached that subject and how he moralized his part in it and why he had to do business with these criminals.

Regardless of how Ernie and all his supporters, including all the longtime local and not so local businesses and business people, that would like to justify decades of amoral conduct and behavior, not to mention the serious social consequences of their acts in support of their perceived success, reality has caught up with Southern Humboldt. That's not my observation, that's Ernie's.

That leads to something Ernie said that stuck with me for several weeks; something I never knew and if I did, had put it on a shelf somewhere. This is what he said:

The flood gates opened, and there was no stopping it. The loggers and ranchers tried spraying to get rid of the “hippie weed” that they grew here. Out of that futile attempt, the environmental movement took over the north coast. The “Back to the landers” claimed all kinds of rashes and birth defects caused by the spraying. Some claims were real, and some were bald face lies that worked just as well, because nobody questioned the thought that “chemicals had to be bad”. (Emphasis mine)
My family had property in Southern Humboldt when this so-called “weed” spraying took place. Fortunately, during the years when this spraying took place everyone was gone. I say “fortunately” because most all the neighbor's suffered severe health problems afterwords. What we were told, however, is that the spraying was to knock down the hardwood so that the confer money trees could grow. If it actually was as Ernie says, then the crimes of Vietnam were brought right back to the North Coast all justified by lies. When you consider the long term residual effects of contaminated vegetation, soil and water on everyone's health, making money off of pot may have come with a rather expensive price tag.

As an old logger, spraying timberland to overcome the supposedly negative effects of timber harvesting seemed justifiable. Justifiable, that is, until reports of serious health maladies and other environmental disasters and loss started cropping up. To use herbicide spray on land to attack pot growers like some North Vietnamese insurgency in unconscionable. We're not talking about someone “ being overrun by a crowd of long-haired militant people bent on “taking back the land for the people.” We're talking about our own families and children; yours and my American born neighbors. When you consider that “hippie loving” Judge all these hypocrite do-gooders tried to get rid of with the police sabotaging him and the community as well, everyone, including Ernie Branscomb, might just consider the fact that it took a judge like Charles Thomas to stop defoliant herbicide spraying. Someone that actually cared about all the people and the actual community he was responsible for protecting. Branscomb and his ilk made sure such a judge never made back to Southern Humboldt.

So, all you folks inhabiting Southern Humboldt, chafe and squirm all you want, you brought all of this upon yourselves. Ernie would like everyone to think, as he tries to split hairs, that there are “bad apple” pot growers just like there are “bad apple” politicians, judges, cops and local business people. As far as this Report is concerned, everyone that did business with these criminals is complicit in their crimes. They are in fact, collaborators and enabler's and deserve the same sanctions.

Now to his honesty, he says:

After the “Back to the Landers” became established, and became ingrained, they started openly growing marijuana, to the point that they were walking all over the local people, I personally had a grower tell me, as a merchant, that I should “just plain kiss his ass, because if it weren’t for people like him, I would just plain dry up and blow away”. I always thought that was particularly unfair, because he, and people like him, drove the local people that we used to depend on out of here, and killed all of our local industry, making local merchants almost completely dependant (sic) on them. (Emphasis mine)
The pot growers most certainly did NOT kill the local industry. That nonsensical re-write is Ernie Branscomb trying to justify why he supported and enabled that criminal element while trying to come off in the community as a law abiding citizen supporting by-the-book law enforcement and good moral and social values. Local industry WAS timber with some ranching. Most of the timberland was owned by timber companies and ranchers; NOT loggers per se. When the timberland was devoid of timber THE local industry and the people that supported that industry either left or found another way to support themselves. The ranchers explicitly satisfied their need by subdividing and selling their logged off property to all the so-called “hippies” from Southern California. Most of them after selling their homes only had enough money to buy the land and build some sort of home, but had no way of supporting themselves. Then you had the returning Vietnam Veterans finding themselves in a similar situation. Most all were familiar with marijuana and thought to advantage themselves of that burgeoning market in Southern CA and elsewhere.

Brancomb has had ample opportunity to repudiate his part in decades of double-dealing in Southern Humboldt. None exists here; only his vain attempt to justify and excuse, i.e., lots of “squirming”. Then there's his description of what was done to “try to stem the tide.” Nothing he talks about doing required any sacrifice from him or any of his fellow local business people. The one thing that was required of each and everyone one of them, that would have given the local police and judicial enforcement a chance to do their job, local “hippie loving judge” aside, was NOT done. What they tried to do was sit on the fence and whine about “squirming.” They are all responsible for the decades of fomenting the amoral criminal society that has spawned in their current reality. Legalizing pot won't do anything about that. But, then true to Ernie's nature, and many others of his ilk, what do they worry about? The positive social effects of legalizing pot?

Here is a link to Kym Kemp's latest on this issue that I considered when writing this commentary:
Grieving the Change

Here is her latest April 1 posting: The Future of Cannabis in Northern California–Mendo’s Marijuana Organizers Hold their own WAP Meeting

A quick scan of Eric's latest on SoHum Parlance II didn't produce anything he's had to say.

Here are a couple of links of herbicide spraying and their effects:

Long term effects:

[Picture Source and link]


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