It’s instructive to watch Ryan Sundberg attempt to distance himself from Mercer-Fraser’s destructive proposal to build a hash-oil lab right on the banks of the lower Mad River, just upstream of Humboldt County’s primary domestic water supply. In a nervously executed retort, Sundberg tried to assure voters that “At no time did I support the Mercer Fraser permit application.”
Except for when he did. In an April 17, 2018 letter to the county, Mercer-Fraser’s own Sacramento attorneys reveal that they had lobbied the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District “on multiple occasions … with the assistance of Supervisor Ryan Sundberg” to support the Mad River industrial hash lab.
Recently Blue Lake resident and former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Biologist Scott Frazer revealed that, prior to the public outcry over the hash lab, Sundberg had told him that “he was having conversations with both the Water District and Mercer-Fraser to seek changes that would allow the project to move forward. … Ryan’s actions were clearly facilitating the cannabis refinery proposal.”
This is not just a political sleight of hand on Sundberg’s part. It is outright dishonesty. Such maneuvering illustrates Sundberg’s shady relationships with powerful financial interests in support of destructive projects — not just hash labs, but outside corporate real estate developers as well — at the expense of the majority of Humboldt County residents. Simply put, we can’t trust that what Sundberg says is the truth.
On the other side of the integrity spectrum is candidate Steve Madrone, whom I’ve known for thirty years as one of the most honest, hard-working natural resource managers in the county. Madrone is truly a man of the people, always has been. He spearheaded efforts to create a “whole watershed” approach to the eventual expansion and restoration of Redwood National Park, then went on to build what is now a successful restoration economy out of the ashes of forestlands previously devastated by Sundberg’s ideological brethren at major corporations.
If Fifth District voters want smart growth that favors safe families, intelligently thought out communities, an economy that aims for ongoing solidity, and ecologically robust watersheds, rather than business-as-usual development of tract homes, strip malls, clear-cuts, and yes, giant riverside hash labs, they will vote for Steve Madrone.