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Comment Archives: stories: News & Features: Features: Last 30 Days

Re: “Crop Circles

Bohemian - I expect a higher standard from journalism than I read in this article. The article claims the USDA’s organic standards are “far below” those used in Marin County. The article later claims there are local organic certifications that are beyond the USDA standards. Marin Organic Certified Agriculture program (MOCA) is accredited by the USDA. Organic certification bodies operating under that label in this country and internationally are certifying to the same standards, it is the law.
I am offended by the implication that the entirety of China as a nation is incapable of upholding a standard. The National Organic Program (NOP) reviewed the performance of Chinese certifiers in 2010. Anyone can dial it up on the WWW and read the assessment on their performance. This is the power and the importance of the USDA Organic Program. We can all observe and steward the process of upholding the organic standards; this is something we don’t get in conventional food systems. The Organic movement asked the federal government to oversee organics. In the Organic Food Production Act of 1990, Congress gave the USDA the responsibility of oversight.
The article references a time when 15 years ago farmers said USDA organic was not good enough. A bigger picture is needed to understand this historical reference. The USDA issued a first draft of organic standards that infuriated the organic community because they included allowances for sewage sludge, GMOs and irradiation. The USDA received a flood of comments from the entire community of organic constituents, insisting on the exclusion of the aforementioned methods. The USDA redrafted the standards. This is the power of organics.
We get to know everything that goes on with organic food from seed to table. The article states that the “organic label certifies the method of farming; it is not a verification of the final product”. I’m totally confused by that statement. When a product is labeled organic, a consumer can understand every input or processing allowed in the farming or manufacturing. A farmer’s organic system plan and a manufacturer’s processing and inputs must comply with the organic system. That’s why we have certifiers. I find the transparency of the organic system far superior to what I cannot know in the conventional food system. When the National Organic Standard Board reviews materials allowed in organic systems, I can make a comment to them directly at the meeting. Organics is self auditing, correcting and interactive with constituents. Which food system do you want to support?

3 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by mind33ee on 03/26/2015 at 2:15 PM

Re: “The Anchor-Outs

People on boats are subject to maritime law. Whenever someone on a boat claims their civil rights have been violated, it's important to ask how? Usually, the complaint is they've experienced 'a boarding', and in some cases a search of the boat. Law enforcement agents, whether a sheriff, port police officer or Coast Guardsman are authorized by law to board, inspect or search boats. These police powers derive from laws meant to control smuggling, the transport of illegal drugs, illegal immigrants and more.

There is plenty of controversy surrounding the subject of anchorage 'rights'. As long as a boat is not anchored in a channel impeding the flow of traffic, or anchored where warnings indicate doing so is prohibited due to underground pipes, cables or other obstructions, it is considered to be in the right. But, unfortunately law enforcement agents, municiple and State governments have in recent years begun to dilute what we perceive as our right to anchor. For example, although anchoring in the Oakland Alameda estuary does not impede traffic because there simply isn't any. But, this fact has not prevented law enforcement officers from telling you to haul anchor "because you can't anchor here." If you refuse, it will most likely lead to a boarding and search. There are all sorts of deficiencies - like expired flares, worn life vests, oil in the bilge, drug posession, an outstanding traffic warrant you forgot about and more - that can lead at minimum ciitations and even arrest. So, trying to assert your perceived right can create more trouble for you than it's worth. State and municipal governments, whether legally entitled or not are passing ordinances meant to control anchoring in waters adjacent to or within it's physical jurisdiction. Challenging these laws is expensive, time consuming and may prove fruitless if the federal government gives away it's authority over navigable waterways. Politics is playing an increasing significant role, and what kinds of changes may be in store with a Republican majority in the House of Representatives, and possibility the next President will be Republican, are unknown.

Having said all of this, the root cause of building momentum to exert control over anchorages is there are a increasing numbers of boats in various stages of disrepair, whether occupied or not. The worst case is the 'derelict', abandoned and threatening to sink. It is a simple fact that people taking refuge on boats do not usually have the financial means to 'fix up' a boat already in disrepair when obtained. So, they continue to deteriorate. Mr. Kiffer says "If you show up in Sausalito, with or without a boat, you won't be in need for long. You'll get a bunk or a whole boat! A foothold." A boat? Richardson Bay is heavily populated by so-called 'dollar boats'. Right, boats purchased for one dollar because control over them was assumed at some point by a marina or law enforcement agency because they were recovered by the marina or agency after dragging, or warnings mailed to owners of an apparently abandoned boat went unanswered. These boats are usually small, unsuited for living aboard and in many cases poorly maintained. Many of them drag or sink in winter storms, placing a burden upon the Richardson Bay Regional Agency for the cost of salvage and in some cases destruction.

Finally. I am not going to impugne the character of members of the 'anchor outs' by broadly classifying them into groups. I will say however, I have observed anarchical, anti-establishment, anti-government, in your face, "I'll kill anyone who gets in my way" attitudes that do not serve their best interests and garner effective support from anyone. In his post above, Mr. Kiffer serves as a good example of this. Some in Sausalito apparently believe their special needs and disadvantages places "anchor outs" in a special class of people who's responsibilities as citizens are waived and they are entitled to special dispensations and protection from the authorities. Perhaps. But at what cost to others who depend upon effective governance to protect, mediate, and resolve disputes between those who are affected in one way or another by the situation in Richardson Bay? Do people who own boats in Richardson Bay have a right to take possession of a public waterway - like squatters anywhere else - to the detriment of all other boaters who have equal right to use the same? What difference does it make that a hand full of "anchor outs" are creative? Allegedly artists and at least one film maker? I've read a novel penned by an anchor out, and by my estimation he's a pretty good writer. But there is a world full of artists, writers, film makers and very creative people who take their responsibilities as citizens seriously, obey local and State laws, and actually work to make a living. How many of the 'creative' anchor outs endeavour to work for a living with their art, films and what have you? And, if they are not able to earn "a living wage" by virtue of their creativity what effort are they making to support themselves by securing a job? There is not much incentive to find a job when you can rely on local charity to clothe and feed you.

Anchor outs are referred to by some as a "community" posessing a unique culture. Where are the features that qualify disconnected individuals on boats as a community? There is a group of individuals who meet in Dumphy park, picnic together and plot how to respond to efforts by the authorities to address issues related to Richardson Bay. There is even a plan to start a "paper" to inform locals and attract support. But, over all participation by all anchor outs is limited to a handful of people. Hardly a community. A special interest group consisting of a small number of people engaged in lobbying to pursue their ends? Yes. Culture? Again, if any thing, the disparate interests, backgrounds and individualism characteristic of the anchor outs defies the suggestion there is commonality in the beliefs, customs, arts, etc., of the anchor outs. The Dumphy Park group? Hardly representative of the total number of anchor outs.

Posted by armido on 03/18/2015 at 10:47 AM

Re: “The Anchor-Outs

Since I've been doing so upwards of 24 years I know what it means to live aboard a small boat. But, unlike those who identify as Sausalito's 'anchor outs', I've remained on the move; completing the greater part of 2 global circumnavigations mostly alone. 'Cruisers' like myself and local sailors in the S.F. Bay area used to be able to find room to anchor in Sausalito, whether for a weekend or longer. No more, because the entire area - both sides of the main channel - are clogged with illegally moored boats that rarely if ever move. Illegal because permits for the moorings required by ordinance, have never been applied for or received. It is one thing to empathize for people down on their luck. Quite another to relieve them of responsibilities as citizens, which includes respecting and obeying federal, state, and local laws. You do not need to be well fed, employed or have a clean record to comply with the laws of the land. It is unfathomable to believe law enforcement officers should be expected to overlook violations of local ordinances and State laws simply because people on boats in Richardson Bay are somehow disadvantaged.

All I ask for is order and an open area free of illegally moored boats where I and others who wish to anchor can. Unfortunately, this is unlikely to occur without a comprehensive change in how the Bay is used and managed. Presently - whether abandoned, stored, unnoccupied or lived upon - roughly 200 boats are on moorings or 'permanently at anchor' (until they drag in a storm) in Richardson Bay. The effect is the remainder of the boating community that would like to use the bay, a public waterway, can't. There are three possible outcomes in the debate about Richardson Bay. 1.) Things will remain unchanged which is untenable for many reasons. 2.) The anchorage wil be closed, or 3.) RBRA will install, maintain and manage a mooring field in addition to defining a managed anchorage for anchoring only. In order to eliminate any possibility illegal, serrupticiously installed illegal moorings will appear in the anchorage boats must be required to re-anchor every 15 days or so, and harbour police provided to monitor and enforce this and compliance with permit requirements. All boaters wanting to use a port mooring or anchor in the newly designated anchorage must submit their boat for inspection by either the Coast Guard or RBRA if the plan on staying longer than 72 hours.

This isn't only about the people. It's about fair play, equal opportunity for all boaters to use Richardson Bay, resource management and good citizenship.

Bob L.
S/V Armido
Sausalito

Posted by armido on 03/17/2015 at 9:13 AM

Re: “Wild Meets Mild

A responsible article on a difficult subject with no simple answers. A refreshing change from the hyperbole reported by local newspapers as fact. At one extreme are those who want to evict the ranchers from the Park's pastoral zone and at the others those who want to evict the elk from the Park's pastoral zone. But some of us believe there is room in for both ranchers and elk, but it will take some work by the Park, willing collaboration by interested parties, and a tone down of the hyperbole.

Posted by Save Our Seashore on 03/12/2015 at 9:09 PM

Re: “Wild Meets Mild

Save the elk, the mission of a "National Park" trumps provincial interests. Elk long have been an emblem of what's wild, as the drought continues more and more hay must be imported to continue "farming", there is land designated for farming and some...very small on the scale in pecking order for National Park, I take exception with predators, poachers take numbers of elk every year, and cougar take calves, an old adults, on my own ranch caught 3 young men killing animals just to celebrate their new rifles...It is a miracle of sorts they are coming back...some, I gave up hunting years ago as could no longer pull the trigger, what will future generations find here? I hope they encounter elk as it never fails to straighten neck hair and lift your hat, the regal beauty and a connection to the primordial past...which is why we seek out National Parks...Save the Elk.

7 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by social glimpse on 03/12/2015 at 7:07 AM

Re: “Dirt Farmers

Nice article on the composting and cover cropping practices by Chateau Montelena.

One thing jumped out at me though that is worthy of another article - that further work needs to be done to prevent food waste in the first place.

Second, when food waste or food scraps are generated we need to make sure that what is perfectly edible and nutritious gets to hungry people first and then to compost or energy generation. The work of groups like Food Shift or ExtraFood.org needs to be front and center in this effort.

Finally, businesses in the waste management sector need to transform their models from making money off waste to making money by preventing waste.

Posted by Nick Papadopoulos on 02/25/2015 at 2:07 PM

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