When I talked to your reporter Alastair Bland, I asked him not to misrepresent my comments ("Coastal Conundrum," Aug. 26). I am disappointed to say that he has not only misrepresented my point of view, but seemingly had his mind made up about how the story would be written before he talked to me. This is the same criticism that I gave him about the Marine Life Protection Act process. Being an abalone diver himself and having one of his favorite places closed by the MLPA influenced the "spin" on his story and caused him to not offer factual, nonbiased reporting.
Two facts that were misrepresented in his story concerning my comments are when he inferred that "2XA would have prohibited abalone diving in the waters just steps away from [my] Sea Ranch vacation home." I do not own a Sea Ranch vacation home or any other home at Sea Ranch. In the very next paragraph, Alastair has a quotation that makes it sound like a quote from me. I did not give that quote, even though I did criticize the process by which the IPA was arrived at. I did not know the outcome "once Gustafson was gone." I did not know why she left or who would be appointed in her place. However, once Benninghoven was appointed, the outcome was more obvious to me.
Alastair also conveniently forgot to report that the actual area closed by the IPA (in the Salt Point-Stewarts Point-Sea Ranch area) only included the northern one mile of Salt Point State Park and that the other six to seven miles of closed area, at Stewarts Point, is all private property and therefore inaccessible by the public from the land. It is only access by boat or kayak, which excludes most divers. Sea Ranch, on the other hand, has six public access points and a public bluff-top trail.
Another glaring omission is the fact that people diving at Sea Ranch often bring their families, rent houses there and shop in our local stores, bringing in a tremendous amount of revenue to the local economy (likely much more than people diving at Salt Point Park). In fact, according to DFG records, there are more abalones taken from Sea Ranch than Salt Point State Park, indicating that Sea Ranch's usage is higher than that at Salt Point. Why would anyone prefer the closure of an area more heavily used compared to an area (mostly Stewarts Point) which is private property, and far less used, unless that person owned the property, had a boat or had his favorite diving spot at the north end of Salt Point Park?
This kind of biased reporting only serves to make me more skeptical of special interests—even newspapers.
Alastair Bland responds: I'm disappointed and concerned that you feel one of the quotes I attributed to you is inaccurate, but I quite vividly remember the statement, and it appears in my careful notes. I also must point out that the story as I wrote it was not an editorial reflecting my opinions but was, rather, told to me by almost a dozen other people. Among them, the majority gave a very negative opinion of Sea Ranch and its public diving access. You're absolutely right that I didn't talk about the six-mile Richardson property that the IPA closes, which 2XA would have left open and which offers no public access from the highway, but I felt that including another geographical concept in this story would have made the issue even more technical and confusing than it already may have been for the average reader. Lastly, when I referred to your vacation home, I didn't mean that you own the place, just that you vacation there.
This is in response to Michael Zebulon's verbose screed explaining why he and his fellow travelers are so apoplectic that they can't even talk about healthcare reform (Letters, Aug. 26). Resentment has been building since Inauguration Day, eh, Mike? It's called losing the election. Your party, the Party of Fear, lost. Imagine our dismay when the Party of Fear, led by a fraudulent president, pretended to have a mandate to take us into not one but two pointless wars at a cost of between $2 trillion and $3 trillion. I feel your pain. (Although it shouldn't come as too great a surprise that Obama is doing what he said he would do during the campaign.)
Why would we think the Republicans would be behind these ravers? Sending out fundraising letters saying that Republicans might be denied healthcare under the Obama plan or that Medicare recipients would lose their benefits is reasonable dialogue, no? In fact, this is healthcare for everyone, even people like you. When it passes, you might want to stop in and have that blood pressure checked.