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NH 2020 debate shows some rhetoric never changes

In the wake of the recent election and the anti-planning signage controversy, folks have once again revived the references to those dreaded outside interests such as the Packard Foundation and the Sierra Business Council. Almost immediately after last week s series on property rights groups had run in The Union, a writer claimed that such an outfit as the SBC was way out of place in this article. Well, of course it might be seen by some that those reckless folks at the SBC are just outsiders and, likely, just some United Nations front. About the Packard Foundation, anyone can apply for a grant if they can write and that organization has no – as in “zero” – connection to industrial development. For a long while going back to the comparable controversy surrounding the adoption of Wild and Scenic status for the river, similar xenophobic charges swirled on these pages.

A reasoned response to these kinds of wild charges appeared last year. It’s one that I feel cannot be improved upon. (To be clear about one matter, the author is also my mate.) With the author s permission, I’m reproducing the letter here. The letter bears repeating.

“I’ve noticed several references to the Packard Foundation recently in The Union which seem to insinuate that there is something undesirable about receiving a grant from it. A recent letter claims, for instant, that four supervisors are representing groups such as the Packard Foundation which want their own interests first in our county.



“There is no possible way that our supervisors represent this foundation! Here are facts about The David and Lucille Packard Foundation:

“It was established by Mr. and Mrs. Packard in 1964 to provide grants to non-profit organizations in the following broad areas: science, children, families and communities, arts, population, conservation and organizational effectiveness. It does not accept proposals to benefit specific individuals or religious organizations.




“David Packard, who co-founded Hewlett-Packard in 1939, was deputy secretary of defense under Nixon and was one of the wealthiest persons in the U.S. However, most of his wealth, about $4 billion in HP stock went into his foundation. In the year 2000, the Packard Foundation awarded 1,350 grants, totaling $616,272,601, with a median award of $85,000. The foundations assets were approximately $9.8 billion as of Dec. 31. 2000. Most fortunate are the organizations receiving grants from this foundation.

“We have also read about the secret membership of SBC. This piqued my interest, and as a retired reference librarian I decided to research this (secret?) organization. An easy Internet search found its web site: http://www.sbcouncil.org which informs us that it s a non-profit organization of more than 500 businesses, agencies and individuals. Founded in 1994, it is based in Truckee. Its address, phone, e-mail address, etc., are all listed. Also on the web page are its board of directors with their names and affiliations (including such secret/subversive persons as the publisher of Sierra Heritage Magazine, the owner of Madrona Vineyards, the president of Placer Savings Bank, etc) The SBC staff is also listed with names and titles.

“(I have no association with either organization.)

“Incorrect and misleading information used in a way to disparage others has no place in published letters, and only shows the writer to be uninformed and irresponsible.”

Signed: Linda Post, Alta Sierra, and published Nov. 1, 2001.

Back to the tumult of the granting of Wild and Scenic status for our river, there was quite a mention of how outside interests were driving this effort. Relating the outside interests to more recent events, how is it that outside interests such as the Pacific Legal Foundation were invoked for anti-NH 2020 efforts? This comparison becomes more interesting when it s admitted that the PLF is well known as a politically conservative organization. Not to say that one is better than the other, but the Packard Foundation, for instance, is non-political.

Consider too, regarding W&S proceedings, that the specter of condemnation of private landholdings was often raised. We were told that if W&S went through, private lands would be condemned and confiscated. Then, as I recall, at no time was the issue about just compensation ; the subject clearly was eminent domain. How ironic that eminent domain pops up in the news again in relation to quite another matter.

Maybe Bedwell and friends could donate some of those used signs from another campaign to those beleaguered by NID condemnation possibilities.

Larry Shumaker, a resident of Alta Sierra, writes a monthly column.


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