Jedediah Biagi, Candidate for District 2 Supervisor, Speaks Out on the Medical Marijuana Ordinance

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by Mr. Biagi are strictly his own, and do not represent those of Sierra Voices. His op-ed is printed here as a service to Nevada County voters.

By Jedediah Biagi

Looking at where we are right now in our country – with our freedom, liberty, and right to local self-governance at threat or already seriously impinged, it’s hard to see all the small things that have brought us here.

One of those small things happened at the last Nevada County Supervisors meeting, exemplifying how our right to self governance can be attacked and stripped by an innocent thing called a nuisance ordinance.

Not respecting the Constitution of the United States, the State of California, and opposition from a landslide super-majority of local citizens, four of the Supervisors voted to pass an ordinance giving a deputy, fire code or building code enforcer the right to enter your property any day of the week, day or night without a warrant (oh, but they ‘promise’ the ordinance won’t be used that way).  If you thought you had private property rights or the right to use your property as you see fit, think again.

If you believe in the right to not self-incriminate, then it should make you upset to be required to get a notarized letter stipulating an arrangement of permission to exercise a California State given right, even if it’s contrary to Federal Law.

Input from the citizens’ focus group was either ignored or ratcheted back as to become unworkable or illegal. Examples being:  decreasing the suggested allowable grow size over 500% to a restrictive average of 150sq ft per parcel or less, well below the state’s legally defined minimal allowances.  When the suggestion of using grow bags was put forward to help restrict size of plants in residential areas the suggested size was 60 – 80 gallons, the county came back with 25 gallons, a size not even available on the market or if it was, not big enough to suit the needs of patients.  Not only that, but using the process of an urgency ordinance took away our constitutional right of the citizenry to petition our grievance through signature gathering.  This end-run around of our inalienable rights in the drafting and then passing of this ordinance cannot be ignored.

If you believe in the second, fourth, fifth, and tenth amendments you should be appalled at this blatant disregard for your rights.

The Federal Government has been conducting raids in neighboring counties against small organic farmers including raw milk co-ops and raw food co-ops, if you were wondering where our sheriff stood on the constitution and the tenth amendment – now you know, all small farmers should be on their toes right now because the sheriff sees no immediate threat from an overreaching federal government.

As we slide down the path of an all controlling Federal Government with things like the Patriot Act, NDAA, or planned FEMA camps, that path is being greased by hundreds of invasive nuisance ordinances like this one that grant far over reaching powers to government agencies beyond the definition of the nuisance.

I am running as a write-in candidate for Nevada County Supervisor District 2 (South County).  I believe in the right to local self governance and creating buffers of protection from outside forces that wish to strip that right. I would like to create a public County Bank, and institute a foreclosure moratorium.  I’ll be hanging out at local restaurants for lunch or dinner in the next couple of weeks, if you want to meet me check out my calendar online or if you have a group of people who would like to meet me, set up an appointment.  My website is www.biagiforsupervisor.com .


Jedediah Biagi is a write-in candidate for Nevada County District 2 Supervisor.

Baby Goat “Vanilla,” Born Lame in Both Front Legs

This is a baby goat (named “Vanilla”) born about two weeks ago, born lame in both front legs, on the farm of a friend of ours. If our friend hadn’t checked on the progress of mama goat’s labor at about 3 AM, Vanilla might not have made it through the night, being unable to get right up and walk and nurse within minutes of her birth, like her sibling.

Our friend has now rigged her up with splints, hinged at the knee. It is too soon to tell whether she will grow out of her infirmity, so her fate is quite uncertain.

In the meantime, as you can see from the short video below, she has the spunk and energy and the the soaring ambition of the healthiest of goats: much to our surprise, she tried hopping as we were taking this video!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A06PS5d6Rag

“Gold Mine Stock? Fool Me Once … “

By Ralph Silberstein

If Emgold Mining Co. fails to pay the City of Grass Valley the required deposit of about $440,000 by September of 2012, the City will consider the Idaho-Maryland Mine project application withdrawn.

The deposit is for independent consultants to begin preparation of a revised Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) on the proposed mine and ceramics factory. A total of $3-4 million and about   two years will be needed to finance and execute the DEIR, additional studies, another round of public hearings, and a Final EIR before obtaining a permit.

Emgold may be unable to rise to the occasion. The annual financial report for 2011 shows a loss of $2,338,060, or $0.06 per share, pushing the accumulated deficit to over $50 million. Emgold has no sources of regular revenue and is predictably out of operating capital again. This has been going on for years.

Penny stock junior mining companies such as Emgold are notoriously risky investments in general, but the Idaho-Maryland Mine project is increasingly unlikely to succeed. Working against the efforts to raise funds is the huge added risk of the ceramics factory, which should scare off investors. Fusing tailings into tiles to dispose of mine waste may seem like a good idea, but it has never been done on a commercial scale, and the tile market for this product is not promising. Furthermore, Emgold has no expertise in ceramics and the plan calls for selling 480,000 sq. ft. of tile per day; unbelievable, especially in today’s market. Add to that the obstacles of getting the Grass Valley General Plan modified, annexation approval, significant air pollution in the face of new strict carbon emissions regulations for California, and a variety of local issues such as threats to local wells and property values.

Note that, if a permit is obtained, the costs to de-water the old mine and build the mining and ceramics factory facilities will likely exceed $200 million. This will easily consume all the profits from the “measured gold reserves”.  (As per NI 43-101 report, 212,000 oz.)

To date, in an effort to promote the project, Emgold has made a number of questionable statements:

  • The revised project documents, as submitted to the City of Grass Valley, estimate the maximum number of long term jobs at 500, but in public statements Emgold is now claiming 600 jobs. It was 400  last year.
  • Promotional pieces about the Idaho-Maryland Mine repeatedly claim the project is in the “advanced stage of permitting”, when in fact they have not even submitted deposits needed to restart the DEIR process.
  • A constant claim of “community support” from a 2006 poll fails to mention that the support was conditioned upon addressing all environmental concerns, upon which it fails. Now that the project description has been made public, there is strong opposition to the mine.

In an effort to raise yet more funds, Emgold has now employed Vanguard Shareholder Solutions Inc. to disseminate news and public information to investors, at a cost of $8500/month and stock options.

As the marketing of the Idaho-Maryland Mine project becomes more expert, it becomes even more important to do one’s own research and carefully scrutinize the merits of any investment before committing funds. Buyer beware!


Ralph Silberstein: President of CLAIM-GV (Citizens Looking at Impacts of Mining), Grass Valley City resident, software engineer, served 2 years on the Grass Valley Planning Commission, former Building Contractor.

Chauncey Poston on Disclosure Law, and the Idaho-Maryland Mine

We attended a workshop at the Miner’s Foundry last weekend that included an interesting presentation by local realtor (and longtime citizen activist) Chauncey Poston, on the subject of “disclosure law.”

During the question period, I asked him whether, in his view, the current application by Emgold Corporation to re-open the Idaho-Maryland Mine would be considered an important fact to disclose to potential buyers of property in Nevada County.

He replied that he has been disclosing that fact to prospective buyers for at least the last six years.

A day or so later, in response to a follow-up question I sent him via email (asking whether he believed his local colleagues in the real estate business are following the same practice) he sent me this clarification:

Don:

The answer to your question is “I would hope so.” The subject of the mine re-opening is common knowledge to any person with a heart beat living in western Nevada county. Using the excuse “I didn’t know” would be indefensible. You simply can not get around that conclusion. Any Realtor listing or selling property in the area around the mine would be foolish not to discuss the mine with sellers, convincing them to disclose, and informing buyers (disclose) of the possibility of the mine re-opening. In a perfect world, the mine would be a topic of discussion between the buyer and his agent upon first visiting the property. In the end, disclosure of the mine would come from three entities: the seller, the listing agent, and the buyers agent.

The big problem, as I see it, is to determine just how wide a swath from the mine location should disclosure be important. Impacts from the mine could be far reaching. An example, wells up on Banner Mountain have the potential of going dry if the water table in corrupted. Traffic and noise have the potential of causing disturbance far away from the mine site. Just how far do we need to go with disclosure? That is the million dollar question.

Only a full and brutally honest EIR will come close to answering those questions as well as the hundred more questions uncovered by an adequate EIR.

Sincerely,

Chauncey.”

My reply to Chauncey included these remarks:

I see your point about the million dollar question. Even hydrologists who’ve studied the first DEIR admit that they can’t predict with any certainty how widespread the impact of dewatering on wells might be.

I believe that local citizens generally don’t fully appreciate how massive this project would be: the underground extent of IMM goes from directly under the Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, under Brunswick Basin and all the way out to the Y intersection of Brusnwick and 174. It encompasses almost as many square acres underground as does the entire incorporated city limits of Grass Valley.

Grass Valley Police Investigating Another Suspicious Death

I just received this alert from the Grass Valley Police Department:

Advisory: GRASS VALLEY POLICE INVESTIGATING ANOTHER SUSPICIOUS DEATH

GRASS VALLEY, CA – The Grass Valley Police Department is investigating a report of a body found in Memorial Park earlier this morning.

Police Dispatch received a call shortly after 7:00am today advising of a body found in Memorial Park located on the city’s southeast side.

Preliminary investigation confirmed the finding of an unclothed body of a Caucasian female, approximately 45 to 55 years of age, having been discovered near a pair of dumpster located in the general parking lot.

The Grass Valley Police have requested the assistance of the California Department of Justice in processing the scene. Additionally, the Nevada County District Attorney’s Office and Special Investigators are assisting with the investigation.

Anyone who may have information regarding this incident or other crime in the city is encouraged to contact the Grass Valley Police Department at 530.477.4600.

##
Contact Information:
Captain Rex Marks
Case#12-001207
530-477-4600
Rmarks@gvpd.net

UPDATE (4:11 PM): Police have positively identified the body found this morning as that of LEANN JANE SHUFFIELD: 49 Yrs, of Grass Valley.

An autopsy is planned with the Nevada County Coroner’s Office to determine the cause of death. The circumstances leading up to Ms. Shuffield’s death remains under investigation at this time.

“We Are Star Dust”

Another offering in John Boswell’s beautiful “Symphony of Science” series.

He labels this one, “We Are Star Dust,” which is not a metaphor, or … not just a metaphor. It’s also a plain scientific fact. Boswell is working on both sides of our brains with these science/music videos.

His work reminds us that if anything is sacred, everything is.

See the whole set in this series here: http://sierravoices.com/tag/symphony_of_science/

You Probably Don’t “Have Time” for this Maurice Sendak Interview

Terry Gross of NPR’s “Fresh Air” interviewed Maurice Sendak four times over several decades, the first time in the mid-1980s and most recently several months ago. Her show yesterday was a compilation of all those interviews, a full hour dedicated to Sendak.

Radio is not so fashionable these days, and most of us don’t “have time” to listen to interviews, but I have to say this is the finest work Terry Gross has ever done. You get a real sense of Sendak’s tortured and in the end joyful and completely realized life as an artist and as a human being.

In one of the interviews, Sendak explains to Gross why he stopped doing book signings for children, and why he stopped visiting kids in their classrooms: he realized that he had become one of those frightening and problematic adults that many of his monsters were meant to depict!

One little boy who had been standing in line with his copy of “Where The Wild Things Are” — upon being pushed forward by his father for Sendak’s signature — defiantly and bravely screamed “Don’t crap-up my book!!!”

Sendak loved this kid, and took the father aside to plead mercy for him.

In the course of these four interviews over the years, he developed a trust in Terry Gross and clearly a fondness for her. In the last interview several months ago, Sendak — who had always been obsessed with death (in a good Buddhist way, it seems to me, although he was actually a secular jew and a dedicated atheist) — in the last interview he told Terry “I’ll cry my way to the grave,” and a little later, “I’m not afraid of death” and a little after that “I’ll probably die before you, which is good because I won’t have to cry over you.”

Sendak, a very very sweet man. RIP.

Listen to the compilation of the Terry Gross interviews with Maurice Sendak here if you … “have time:”

CLICK FOR MAURICE SENDAK INTERVIEW

Background on the Foreclosure Crisis In Nevada County

By the Foreclosure Defense Group of Occupy Nevada County

The Foreclosure Defense Group of Occupy Nevada County is made up of community members concerned about the high rate of foreclosures in our community. We are learning how to search county records for fraudulent assignments, and our research has revealed many improprieties by banks and loan servicers. We have witnessed many foreclosure auctions held on the steps of the Nevada City Courthouse, and have demonstrated against the seizure of homes by the very banks that caused the foreclosure crisis in the first place. We started a Foreclosure and Eviction Support and Empowerment Group, which meets Wednesdays at the Nevada City United Methodist Church. Community members who are going through foreclosure are now searching us out and we are trying to support them.

According to Realty Trac, over 5,000 homes in Nevada County have been foreclosed since 2008. There are currently 877 Nevada County homes listed for foreclosure.

In addition to the tragedy of personal loss, the foreclosure crisis has devastated Nevada County as a whole. Foreclosures provoke further decline in home prices, resulting in dramatic decreases in property tax revenue and drastic cuts to county jobs and services. Foreclosed homes cause neighborhood blight, crime, and public safety issues.

Estimated costs of the foreclosure crisis to Nevada County, including loss in home values, property tax loss, costs to local government, along with the methods of calculating these costs, can be found at the following website: http://dig.abclocal.go.com/kgo/PDF/Home-Wreckers-Report.pdf

Over the last two years incontrovertible evidence has emerged around the country that the loan servicers of the five largest banks have filed and recorded millions of fraudulent documents to illegally foreclose on homeowners. In February, 2012, San Francisco County Recorder Phil Ting announced that an audit of foreclosure documents in his office revealed that 99% of the sampled foreclosures had “suspicious activities” and 84% had “at least one clear violation of the law.” Most of these foreclosures contained more than one class of violation and some had up to six. In almost all cases these violations were related to chain of assignment issues, largely resulting from mortgage securitization, and the inability of foreclosure servicing agencies to demonstrate legal standing to foreclose.

In Nevada County the percentage of foreclosures has been much higher than in San Francisco County (5000 foreclosures in much-smaller Nevada County compared to 12,000 in San Francisco County). A thorough audit by the Nevada County Clerk-Recorder’s office would almost certainly reveal a similar proportion of suspicious activities and violations of law.

One problem for California counties, including Nevada County, is that banks are using the MERS (Mortgage Electronic Registry System) to transfer and assign mortgages. MERS is like a opaque “black box” that allows banks to obscure the chain of title on individual properties and avoid County recording fees. This has deprived the Nevada County Clerk Recorder’s Office of needed funds and has resulted in a significant reduction of staff. The system makes it very difficult for homeowners (and others) to track the various assignments and to uncover who is the legitimate owner of the loan (to whom they should be making payments). Audits of the MERS system have revealed widespread fraud. While banks require home buyers to be transparent, fill out mounds of paperwork, and pay recording fees, MERS enables the banks themselves to avoid doing so.

In short, there is little or no oversight of the foreclosure process, particularly in non-judicial foreclosure states like California. Our counties and homeowners are suffering the consequences.

There needs to be a state-wide and nation-wide solution to this problem. California Attorney General Kamala Harris is calling for a “Homeowner Bill of Rights,” comprised of a series of bills designed to protect homeowners from abusive mortgage practices and to help devastated communities recover from the foreclosure crisis. Among the other provisions in Harris’ bills are requirements that lenders prove to homeowners that they have a right to foreclose on a property before doing so ((http://www.smdailyjournal.com/article_preview.php?id=232815)). The legislation she supports is currently stalled in committee due to heavy lobbying by banking interests ((http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/17/kamala-harris-homeowners-bill-of-rights-setback_n_1433159.html)).

Our group has formed an Eviction Response Team, to support foreclosed families or tenants of foreclosed homes on an emergency basis if their rights are not being observed or if they are being harassed. (Yes, it happens here.)

We have formed a Fraud Investigation Team, to explore the extent of fraudulent assignments and other mortgage-related documents in the County Clerk-Recorder’s office.

We have also been exploring the legality of the foreclosure auctions taking place on the steps of the County Courthouse. Their courthouse location implies that they are lawful and sanctioned by the County. These auctioneers will not even give their names. According to the California Secretary of State, some of the foreclosing companies they represent are not licensed to do business in the State of California.

“Let Us Have Our Day In Court” (Local Rally at Wells Fargo Bank)

Press Release from Foreclosure Defense Group of Occupy Nevada County

“Let Us Have Our Day In Court”
Rally at Wells Fargo Bank
Wednesday, May 9, 4 pm

The Foreclosure Defense Group of Occupy Nevada County will hold a rally at Wells Fargo Bank on Wednesday, May 9, to support a local family in their struggle to resist eviction until their federal case against Wells Fargo and US Bank for unlawful foreclosure is resolved.

Billi Vogan and Lee Traupel invested $100,000 to buy their Penn Valley home in 2004. They paid their conventional mortgage for 6 years, but in 2010 their income was reduced and they applied for a loan modification. Thus began a long and convoluted process that resulted in their home being foreclosed last November. The couple currently has a case pending in Federal Court against US Bank and Wells Fargo charging that this was an unlawful foreclosure. Wells Fargo lawyers sought to have the case dismissed, but the federal judge declined to dismiss and found ten of the causes against Wells Fargo to be valid.

In spite of this precedent-setting case, the couple is facing an Unlawful Detainer hearing before a local judge on May 14, after which they and their son could be evicted. Earth Justice Ministries, a local nonprofit, is working with the Occupy group to organize an Interfaith prayer vigil in front of the courthouse at 2 pm. on that day.

The Foreclosure Defense Group is calling on Wells Fargo to negotiate directly with Billi and Lee. They are asking Wells Fargo and US Bank to postpone their eviction and allow them to pay rent at fair-market-value until the federal case is decided. An online petition supporting the family can be signed here:

A video interview with Billi Vogan explaining their situation is below.

The rally will be held at the Wells Fargo branch at 707 Sutton Way on Wednesday, May 9, at 4 p.m. There will be signs, visual displays, speeches, and songs related to the foreclosure crisis. For more information, contact noforeclosures@earth-justice.org or call 265-5976.

Background information is attached. “Our Story” is by Billi Vogan. “Background on NC Foreclosures” is by Foreclosure Defense Group of Occupy Nevada County. This Press Release is also attached.

For more information:

Billi Vogan: 432-8764
Peter Galbraith [petergalb@gmail.com] 288-3600 (Foreclosure Defense Group)
Sharon Delgado [revsher@earth-justice.org] 265-5976


Billi Vogan and Lee Traupel’s Story
Penn Valley, California

We bought our home in 2004, saved for years and had $100,000 to invest in our first home. We got a conventional loan with Wells Fargo (WF) and never missed a payment for 6 years. In 2010 my husband’s consulting business slowed so much that we knew we needed to try and reduce our mortgage payments if possible. By this time we couldn’t qualify for a refinance and had heard that banks were modifying home loans for people in our situation.

When we spoke with WF loan consultants they said that as long as we were current with our mortgage there is no way we would be considered for a loan mod. So, feeling like we were jumping off a cliff, we decided to default on our loan. We gathered the many documents WF requested and faxed in our app. for a loan mod. Six months later, we were still faxing, sending hundreds of docs and being told that, “We don’t understand why you are being denied a loan mod., your numbers should make you qualified.”

Around this time we heard about a WF loan modification workshop in Sacramento. Being publicized as an opportunity to meet face to face with loan specialists, we jumped on the chance and made an appt. We had all of our documents to substantiate our income and our explanation of hardship, thus allowing us to prove we should be able to get the loan mod we needed. After about 10 minutes the loan specialist said, “I have some bad news, your loan is an MBS, and these “investors” don’t participate in loan modifications, I’m sorry, there is not much we can do.” Why weren’t we told this at the beginning of our application process? Perhaps we would have never gotten so far behind in our payments had we known a loan mod was out of the question for us.

Because of our situation, I immediately knew what it meant to have an MBS loan. The Massachusetts Supreme Court had ruled in favor of a homeowner in January of 2011, US Bank National Trustee v. Ibanez, that the securitization of the loan that took place made it impossible to know who actually had clear title to the house in question. At that point I did more research and discovered our loan was the exact same as the parties for the Massachusetts now famous case, US Bank National and Wells Fargo. At this point we realized that our mortgage had been turned into a stock and it was unclear to us who we were actually supposed to be making mortgage payments to. There is a reason for laws regarding the transfer of title to protect homeowners. The banks in their rush to make money completely trampled the proper procedures for our real estate laws. Time to hire an attorney.

We found an attorney in LA, Deborah Gutierrez, of Proper Law, that specializes in such cases and is very passionate about the wrong doing that these banks have done, not just to homeowners, but their practices have greatly contributed to our whole financial meltdown. There are so many issues that have been discovered about the unscrupulous practices of banks to cover up their misdeeds. Robo signers, anyone? Robo signers are individuals that have no qualifications or correct documentation to sign what they attest to be signing. The reason for this is the banks don’t have the proper paperwork to foreclose, so they illegally falsify documents in order to foreclose on people. Our state is a non-judicial state, so the only way to defend your self from wrongful foreclosure is to file a case with the state or federal courts. We filed a lawsuit in March of 2011 in our Superior Court here in Nevada County and also asked for a Temporary Restraining Order to postpone the sale of our house, but the Nevada County Court allowed the foreclosure to go through without reviewing our lawsuit. US Bank National bought our home on the courthouse steps in July of 2011. Our attorney decided we had reason to file our suit in Federal Court, so we decided to file our lawsuit there in August of 2011.

We are now in Federal Court. Our case was heard in November of 2011 and the Federal Court judge ruled that there was cause to move the case forward, he did not dismiss our case as the WF and US Bank National attorneys assumed he would do. The legal council for WF and US Bank were quite surprised. Part of what our case is about is that there are laws and regulations governed by the NY Stock Exchange. Banks did not abide by those laws that govern these investments as stated in the Pooling and Servicing agreements that these MBS are in. I am told by Deborah Gutierrez that our case has made it into cases all over the country, so we are setting precedent in this case.

We are now facing an eviction hearing very soon here in our Superior Court. My husband and I are trying to defend ourselves, as our funds are exhausted and our attorney is only working on our Federal Case. It is very challenging to represent oneself in court without an attorney, and the banks are well aware of this. Most people in these financially challenging times don’t have money to hire an attorney. I am told these cases are “rubber stamped” and judges don’t usually rule in favor of the defendants. I am convinced that WF and Us Bank illegally foreclosed on our home because they did not follow the law when it came to assigning the deeds, as per their pooling and servicing agreement, and making sure the chain of title was correctly recorded among other illegal practices. What really is aggravating about all this is the way the banks want to make sure we have all our paperwork in perfect order during the loan mod process. In court we were recently fined to pay US Bank attorney fees regarding the eviction case, because we mistakenly did not send the attorneys all the documents they wanted for our upcoming hearing.

The other part of this that is distressing is that these issues are complex and I don’t think the courts understand that many of these cases are about much more than deadbeat home owners who don’t make their payments. There are many cases throughout our country in which homeowners are having success, but it is an uphill battle.

I would not recommend this battle to anyone, but I will never regret standing up for what I think is right. We feel that we will be forced out of our home shortly, but I know we will be ok. I have learned so much along the way and when I really think about our situation I would still rather be us than them.


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