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Usual Suspects 

Supervisors select temporary replacement for county administrator

By Greg Cahill

COUNTY supervisors and staff mourned the death this week of Sonoma County Administrator Tom Schopflin, who shot himself Saturday at his Santa Rosa home.

On Monday, Supervisor Tim Smith, a close friend, disclosed that Schopflin had battled alcoholism and depression.

The Board of Supervisors met in a special session earlier that day and selected Deputy Administrator Mike Chrystal, 57, to take over Shopflin's responsibilities temporarily.

Schopflin, 50, had served in his post since 1985. He was a respected public official who operated outside the limelight while supervising the county's $680 million budget and 3,700 employees.

Friends and colleagues were stunned to learn of Shopflin's death, describing him as being in good spirits the day before at a weekly Empire Breakfast Club gathering.

At about 6:15 p.m. on Saturday, Schopflin went to a back bedroom and shot himself with a .38 caliber handgun. His wife, Sondra, reportedly was working on an upholstery project at the time, and one of his two teenage sons was working on a truck.

Supervisors postponed their regular public hearing on Tuesday morning and bumped agenda items to next week, convening instead an often emotional special meeting that permitted friends and co-workers to pay tribute to Schopflin.

Funeral services were tentatively scheduled for Thursday, April 6, at the First Presbyterian Church in Santa Rosa.

Activist Must Pay Hurwitz $110,000

IN A BIZARRE TWIST, a federal appeals court last week ordered longtime North Coast environmentalist Bob Martel to pay the owner of Pacific Lumber Co. $110,000 in legal fees after agreeing that a lawsuit Martel filed had been frivolous.

Martel and an army of activists have sought to link Charles Hurwitz's takeover of Pacific Lumber to a failed 1988 Texas savings and loan that resulted in a $1.6 billion taxpayer bailout. The allegation is at the heart of a so-called debt-for-nature swap in which environmentalists propose that Hurwitz and Maxxam, Pacific Lumber's parent company, turn over timberland to the public in exchange for the S&L payment.

A 12-year-old claim by the federal Office of Thrift Supervision is pending against Hurwitz and Maxxam.

Martel had claimed that Hurwitz defrauded the federal government by allegedly hiding his role in the failed S&L so that taxpayers would have to pay the bailout.

A trial court dismissed the original lawsuit, ruling that Martel knew there was no legal basis for it.

Last week, the three-judge panel found Martel guilty of "regurgitating politicized half-truths" in his lawsuit.

Martel has said he will not pay Hurwitz. "I have nothing. I practice poverty," he said in a published report.

"You can't get blood out of a stone."

Diocese Denies Logging Linked to Sex Scandal Debt

CATHOLIC CHURCH officials have denied a claim by local activists that a plan to log 62 acres of redwoods in Occidental is connected to a move to repay $16 million in debt incurred after sex scandal payments sparked a fiscal crisis in the Diocese of Santa Rosa.

The land, adjacent to ecologically sensitive fish spawning grounds on Salmon Creek, is owned by the San Francisco diocese, officials say, and has no connection to the Santa Rosa diocese.

The plan calls for loggers to thin 30 percent of the trees at the Catholic Youth Organization's McGucken Center, a summer camp and environmental program serving 7,000 children each year. The area is an important habitat for threatened salmon and steelhead species.

Local environmentalists say any logging on the property will promote erosion and damage the creek.

Public comments on the plan, which still must be approved by state forestry officials, are being accepted until Tuesday, April 11.

From the April 6-12, 2000 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.

© Metro Publishing Inc.

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