Sustainability runs amok in my town, part 3

Readers may recall my first and second entry on my town’s “sustainability task force” a couple of years ago. It has gotten so bad here that I made it an April Fools Joke in 2010.

This editorial in the Chico Enterprise Record pretty much sums up the whole green movement problem; they’re blind as mole rats when it comes to self examination. I used to be on this sustainability committee, but got booted off because the majority (university types) voted to move the meetings to middle of the work day, when people that aren’t on the state dole actually have to be at work to run their own businesses. That ploy effectively weeded out all the local businessmen, including me and two others on the committee.

Now, with nobody watching but pal reviewers, they’ve crossed a line, and been called on it for wholesale conflict of interest while remaining clueless as to why.

Editorial: Grant doesn’t pass sniff test

Chico Enterprise-Record
Posted: 12/08/2011 12:13:22 AM PST

Our view: The city should be more careful about how it throws around grant money. No special favors should be handed out.

A sustainability committee hand-picked by the Chico City Council decided to apply for a $400,000 grant from PG&E, then gave $70,000 of that grant to two members of the committee in exchange for work.

What’s the big deal, wondered one of the beneficiaries. What’s the big deal, wondered one reader in a letter to the editor.

Where to begin?

The money was awarded without the work going out to bid. That lack of accountability is galling. Only members of the Sustainability Task Force are qualified to do the work?

The ethical questions don’t end there. Honesty is doing the right thing when nobody is watching. Well the truth is, not many people keep an eye on the Sustainability Task Force, and they did something that other commissions — and the council itself — would never get away with.

We were bothered by the quote from city employee Linda Herman, who told reporter Katy Sweeny, “It just kills me when people take a really good project and turn it into something nasty.”

It sounds as if she is saying, “We’re doing good things here, so don’t question us.”

The controversy started when a City Council member wrote about the issue. Mark Sorensen, who writes an informative blog at, said a citizen asked him about the PG&E grant and why Sustainability Task Force members benefited from it.

Sorensen looked into it. The grant was supposed to be spent to make homes more energy efficient. Task force member Jon Stallman, a former Butte College employee, received $60,250 to administer the program. Task force member Scott McNall, a former Chico State University administrator, will get $10,000 to manage students who are evaluating residents’ energy use.

Sorensen wrote, in part: “On the question of conflict, my gut-level value system rings full-scale alarm — as does 24-plus years of nonprofit board experience where we would simply never direct agency business to a board member, even if there was an advantage to the agency. It just looked too much like self-dealing …”

He can see that. We can see that. Most other people see that, too. The folks who received the benefit, not surprisingly, apparently do not.

At least Herman allowed, yes, the work probably should have gone out to bid.


Full story here.

Scott McNall

I really have to laugh at CSUC’s Scott McNall, who recently said of the climate change issue:

“There are certain people who benefit from denying that climate change is real,” said Scott McNall, executive director of the Institute for Sustainable Development at Chico State. “If you’re selling oil or gas, you’re not really interested in trying to conserve energy. There’s a financial interest in denying climate change is real, but we’ve known that for a long time.”

The flip side is that there are certain people who benefit from hawking climate change alarmism, now with some grant cash to monitor residents energy use, Scott McNall is clearly one of them. He can be certain that if one of his students come snooping around my home or business asking questions about my energy use they’ll be immediately asked to leave with an admonition of “it’s none of your damn business“. Besides, why the hell do we need this intrusion since we were all forced to install Smartmeters that log our energy use last year?

And people wonder why California is in trouble. Problem is, people like McNall think taxpayers and business owners are cows that never run dry. Not just here, but worldwide we need to yank the teats out of their mouths and wean them.


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This sounds a lot like that CA town last year where the city officials were padding their own accounts with taxpayer money. I think a couple of them got some jail time.


Ends justify means…ends justify means…ad nauseum!

Well, they obviously took the Penn State Climate Ethics course and scored A+ on all subjects.


‘Task force member Jon Stallman, a former Butte College employee, received $60,250 to administer the program. ‘ good money for little work and if its a total failure no doubt it will be blamed on ‘deniers’ not on their own inabilities.

charles nelson

You’ve heard of ‘trickle down’ economics?
well the same goes for Global Warming
At the top you’ve got million dollar earners like hansen…
and at the bottom…characters like your chum above…
parroting the warmist articles of faith; and still making a dollar out of the hoax…
You would have to agree Anthony, that the lure of the actual dollar is
very strong…and a man might say almost anything to get his hands on them.

Bloke down the pub

Wherever money changes hands, there will be someone who thinks that some of it should be going to them instead.

WOW! These people have to be exposed, and doubly exposed!!! But it’s not a Chico only problem..
It’s happening everywhere!

John Marshall

Point well put.
A little like the BBC, a bit of a hobby horse, who receive a tax, called a licence fee but still a tax, from ALL viewers regardless of whether BBC programs are viewed or not. (this is because the ‘FEE’ is for operating a TV not a pay per view fee). This does make them think that they can run rough shod over everyone who complains about any program content, bias or just plain lying. In fact they do run rough shod over complainants with constantly run platitudes about using the best material etc. etc. etc.. The current ‘fee’ is £135 a year, or $211.82. Runs into several Billions per year.
Like the EPA in the States they need reorganization or shutting down.

It may already be too late in the West … But watch China and the rest send this lot packing. Or to labour camps …

Best you can do is keep making this public and hopefully enough citizens in Chico will be outraged.

Gaelan Clark

Does the City Council get paid? What are their hours for work? Does the clown getting $60k spend time on the project that should be being spent on City Council work?
If “yes” to 1 and 3 then serious problems other than just “conflict of interest”.

Dave L.

You may wish to read up on California laws governing non-profit corporations if this group falls under this umbrella. There are prohibitions concerning board members and beneficial financial transactions.


The problem I have with many stories like this is there can really only be two answers, Incompetence or collusion.
And with them moving the meeting times flashes up a big red warning sign to collusion.
I’d check the signatores.

Who’s John Galt?
Amazing how life imitates art.

Bill in Vigo

Come on election day. It is reorganization time. Our EPA and various other local and national watch keepers have run amuck. It is time to cut off the money pipeline rather than the oil pipeline. Just sayin,

In the Lexicon of Sustainability, ‘grant’ = ‘graft’.


So, if oil and gas companies have a vested interest in denying climate change, why aren’t they present in Durban to influence the process?
I would guess they are there, through a number of the associations for renewable energy etc. on that list. This would imply (1) that some of those associations are in the pocket of Big Oil, and (2) that Big Oil has figured out how to make money playing the game, rather than fighting it.

chris y

“Problem is, people like McNall think taxpayers and business owners are cows that never run dry.”
How true. This was well-phrased by W^3, comment #82 at Air Vent 7/12/11-
“Certain ideological types treat TAXPAYERS as some kind of an INEXHAUSTIBLE resource to be exploited, in exactly the way [that we now rightly condemn as shortsighted, greedy and stupid] the lumber barons of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries treated trees, as inexhaustible and limitless.”

Alix James

The view up here in Ontario isn’t much better:
and this is from a very left-wing source. Even they can’t quite get enough lipstick on the pig. Note: McKitrick is quoted, so at least SOMEONE is paying attention up here.


Want to stop global warming/destruction of the planet/etc…? Turn off the money flow! /sarc

Anthea Collins

The ends don’t always justify the means. Bad and stupid means produce bad and stupid ends. On the other hand, perhaps that is deliberate.

jack morrow

This is just 1 peanut compared to what our congress does. Only term limits will help stop most of it. Term limits-one of very few things our founders messed-up on.

Alan the Brit

Arre you serious? They cannot see there is a conflict of interest at all? If it was done at local authoriy level there would be a hue & cry about it all over the shop!
John Marshall says:
December 9, 2011 at 5:01 am
You forgot to mention that since Tony & his cronies got in in 1997, the Auntie Beeb has had unlimited entitlement to up the licence fee on a regular basis!


A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend upon the support of Paul.
-G.B. Shaw

Alex the skeptic

Anthony; your >>”they’re blind as mole rats when it comes to self examination. I used to be on this sustainability committee, but got booted off because the majority (university types) voted to move the meetings to middle of the work day, when people that aren’t on the state dole actually have to be at work to run their own businesses. That ploy effectively weeded out all the local businessmen, including me and two others on the committee.
Now, with nobody watching but pal reviewers, they’ve crossed a line, and been called on it for wholesale conflict of interest while remaining clueless as to why.”
It is my not so humblr opinion that most of those scientists sitting in comfy chairs paid by our taxes would not stand a chance of success if they had to try their hand in private industry, paid for what they actually manage to do. The real scientists are hard working chaps employed by private firms, doing real research, discovering cures, medicines, procedures, cutting-edge technology in all branches of science.
Tax-financed scientists have not produced one single KW of power by fusion (ITER), after sixty years of trying. Most probably, a few scientists and engineers, working privately, mostly self-finaced will shortly tell us that we can produce power cheaply, abundantly and on demand by means of low energy nuclear reactions. (note that information was supplied following a FOIA request without any problems whatsoever)


Sustainability is the catchword the socialists love. It allows them to invade your home while pretending to be representing the people. The only people they are representing is themselves and their lust for power or money or both.
It allows a small committee to seize control over vast areas without the areas knowledge or consent. It allows them to bring in little rules and regulations without debate or inspection that they say must be obeyed. They offer no sound reason other then it is sustainable.
This sustainability of a the key word in Agenda 21 from the United Nations. They know they cannot convince people nation or state wide, so they work through small organisations such as this to bring in their socialist objectives.


The main problem with people like those on the Chico Sustainability Committee is that they (like many environmentalists no doubt do) view themselves as morally superior to everyone else due to the ends that they are (supposedly) pursuing. It’s called arrogance and elitism. They fancy themselves the self-annointed high priests of a high and holy quasi-religion and its cause(s). They are therefore supposed to be above and beyond question. Anyone who is foolish enough to question them are heretics and deserve excommunication from human society. They are just one or two levels beneath God. And (for the most part) the media treats them that way by not questioning anything that they say and do.
The problem with that status is that it leaves the door open to corruption, deceiving of the public, bad decision-making, misallocation of resources, etc. It’s like a dictator in a police state who is above the law and can do whatever he wants (i.e, Hitler, Saddam, Stalin, etc.). History has shown us why we should view such people with much suspicion and scepticism. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Environmental protection and sustainability should be approached from the perspective of technological advancement and leaving the arrogant, elitist mindsets behind us.

Chico is in the PRC, right?

Scott Covert

In California a number of lawmakers refused the free car benefit on the last election cycle.
Shannon Grove was asked to go pick out her car and told the staffer she didn’t need one. The staffer replied “But they’re free”. [facepalm]
This attitude permeates government.

Jenn Oates

Hey, now…I want to get me some o’ that there free no-accountability gubmint money, especially an amount that isn’t too far from my annual salary. Where do I sign up? Do I have to check my ethics at the door?


My county is pretty much in the same fix. Our council only listens to the crazies. The latest was to ban plastic bags, even biodegradable, in favor of nonreuseable paper bags that take up to 20 times the volume in the land fill.Anything to inconvenience the public at large seems to be the logic.
And then there is crony capitalism.The recycling contracts are all let out to political allies. We pay huge sums for mandatory recycling. However the dirty secret is that everything except aluminum ends up in the landfill. The rest does not have enough market value to justify shipping cost.


I found this blog posting from 2008 interesting. Even mentions the Sustainability Task Force at the end.
I also noted on the left side of the page a link to David Fenton’s (founder Fenton Communications) photos that were on display in some museum someplace.


Sustainability is the catchword the socialists love.

Yeah, until you show them that socialism is unsustainable. When the benefit derived from something becomes disconnected from the effort put into it, it becomes abused to death. The whole “tragedy of the commons” thing.


This reminds me of the TV ad I saw yesterday, from a Detroit station. It went something like this:
“Some charities take a lot of the money you donate for administration fees. With our charity, ALL of the money benefits people in Michigan.”
Sure it does. It benefits all the people who work for that charity, right? I mean, if my charity gets a million and $800,000 of it is “administration fees”, well, it benefits someone close to home, right? Yet another example of weasel words… they are being “technically” honest, but the reality of what they are saying is hidden by what you, the listener, THINK they are saying.
And yeah, I realize it’s different, but this is the same type of dishonesty… it’s happening right in front of our faces and very few people ever really see it. The scary part is that most of the people doing this are completely oblivious to the fact that they might be doing something wrong, or unethical, or that anyone else should have a say.

Doug in Seattle

This occurs throughout the country. We have a county board in my area where the same thing occurred and they too had great difficulty understanding that this was a conflict. Even the county employees in charge of keeping things legal didn’t see a problem.
Activists apparently sincerely believe they are uniquely qualified to provide the kind of studies that benefit activists. Sounds like NGOs and the IPCC, but at a local level.

Unemployment Rate October 2011 Month/Month Year/Year
National 9.0% -0.1 -0.7
California 11.7% -0.2 -0.8
Chico 13.6% -0.2 -0.5

Dale Thompson

It’s a shake down. This is what it is, and $70,000 is a drop in the ocean compared to what is coming.

J Broadbent

Compensation for Spruiking the Gospel.
I noticed this characteristic of the Environmentalist ‘Greenie’ when attending Water management groups in Australia. The greenies, well meaning though unqualified by life experience or learning, furrow browed and government hand-out dependent, would raise the question of compensation for their attendance at meetings as a matter of first importance. Was there any funding?
I also noticed the Greenpeace crowd were good at selecting exotic destinations for fully funded workshops, no tele-conferencing to save resources there. A characteristic carried through to the IPCC, no doubt.


Yes, “It’s all about gov’t grants”, my truly Mom and Pop firewood retailer, Jesse and Melanie, just told me when they delivered my last 2 cords. [I’ve been recovering amazingly successfully from some back surgery, but couldn’t cut my own wood the past two winters, 6-8 cords/winter. Ha ha, I’d been transporting it all for several years prior in my 1990 GMC 1500 Suburban Clunker with nearly 300,000 miles on it now. Still runs perfectly and is my only vehicle.]
A while back one of Jesse’s competitors, “Smith”, got a big grant to supply biomass for heating one local School and probably sold the whole system to them, which isn’t working very well. Smith now has a whole wood processing Plant, but simply abandoned some harvesting work involving good sized Forest Service slash. So Jesse tried to take the wood over by getting the right permissions and documentation, so that now he “owns” the slash. But then the Forest Service wouldn’t allow him to get the slash off “its” land, which he often does anyway in the normal course of his business.
So after telling Jesse what he had to do to own the slash – he had to get permission from a local grant-supplied NGO “Resource Council”, which actually went perfectly well – the Forest Service then told Jesse he wasn’t supposed to make “profit”, then “not too much profit” off the slash! Obviously, they were protecting “Smith” and their own corrupt Statism. Then they told Jesse they were just going to burn the wood in place since Smith wasn’t utilizing it!
It’s not over yet, but Jesse is sarcastically thinking that he should join his son in law, who already has two degrees and thinks grants are where all money comes from, and learn how to write grant applications at a Higher University.

Ulrich Elkmann

Jim Barker says:
December 9, 2011 at 4:46 am
Another possibly foreseeable problem.
Easily solved: disconnect all solar roofs from the net and pay the owners anyway – after all, they’re “farming/harvesting” solar energy – the true & tried EU way of running things is to pay farmers for NOT growing that, that & the other weed.
Another consequence of PV roofing is that if it catches fire, the chances are that the firemen will let your house burn down because hosing the panels runs a risk of deadly electrocution. Good for all: Makes their job easier & safer, gives work fo construction companies & teaches you to be more careful with those Christmas tree candles. (Somebody or other once talked about “the broken window fallacy” – but he didn’t get a Nobel for it, unlike, say, Paul Krugman,)

Regarding this ‘sustainability committee’ it sounds like the most sustainable thing to do would be to shut it down and spend the money in more effective ways instead…
Based on my experiences with local government et al – they usually have very little real concept of the value of the money they are spending and even less when they can work out a way to spend it on themselves…
I suggest you find a way of getting this committee either disbanded or its charter changed so that they have no choice but to meet in the evenings.


“Sustainable” is another word like “green,” which can only refer to a feeling.
I only drink “sustainable” beer.
It becomes “sustainable” when I pay money for it – I keep buying it, the brewery keeps making it. “Sustainable.”

Gail Combs

Ulf says:
December 9, 2011 at 6:27 am
So, if oil and gas companies have a vested interest in denying climate change, why aren’t they present in Durban to influence the process?
Because that is a BIG FAT LIE and has been from the get go. I go into some of the politics here:
“The Climatic Research Unit (CRU) was established in the School of Environmental Sciences (ENV) at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich in 1972.”
Funding for Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia includes:
British Petroleum (Oil, LNG)
Central Electricity Generating Board
Eastern Electricity
KFA Germany (Nuclear)
Irish Electricity Supply Board (LNG, Nuclear)
National Power
Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (Nuclear)
Shell (Oil, LNG)
Sultanate of Oman (LNG)
UK Nirex Ltd. (Nuclear)

Gail Combs

December 9, 2011 at 8:03 am
A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend upon the support of Paul.
-G.B. Shaw
That is a real interesting quote given that Shaw was a founding member of the Fabian society. (UK ex prime minister Tony Blair is a member)

The Real George Bernard Shaw
“Under Socialism, you would not be allowed to be poor. You would be forcibly fed, clothed, lodged, taught, and employed whether you liked it or not. If it were discovered that you had not character and industry enough to be worth all this trouble, you might possibly be executed in a kindly manner; but whilst you were permitted to live, you would have to live well.”
The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Socialism and Capitalism, 1928, pg. 470)
“The notion that persons should be safe from extermination as long as they do not commit willful murder, or levy war against the Crown, or kidnap, or throw vitriol, is not only to limit social responsibility unnecessarily, and to privilege the large range of intolerable misconduct that lies outside them, but to divert attention from the essential justification for extermination, which is always incorrigible social incompatibility and nothing else.”
“On the Rocks” (1933), Preface
“The moment we face it frankly we are driven to the conclusion that the community has a right to put a price on the right to live in it … If people are fit to live, let them live under decent human conditions. If they are not fit to live, kill them in a decent human way. Is it any wonder that some of us are driven to prescribe the lethal chamber as the solution for the hard cases which are at present made the excuse for dragging all the other cases down to their level, and the only solution that will create a sense of full social responsibility in modern populations?”
Prefaces (London: Constable and Co., 1934), p. 296.


Try living here in the “mother country”. We call them Quango’s and they are everywhere on a national scale (quite separate from the local versions). They are the way our “politicians” pay for favours without crassly passing around brown envelopes. A few million to “The carbon Trust” for a report backing current carbon policy. The CT passes on some to the authors and some to any supporting actors. HMG gets “grass roots” support for carbon policy and the CT board earn more per year than the PM. Even better they (The CT) get to sell themselves to private industry as having a tentacle into HMG policy (which they devised in the first place!). What’s not to like in this crooks paradise (if you are a crook)?
Here in the UK, if you prevented the unelected robbers from looting the taxpayer It would be like a national mini heart attack. Stocks would plummet, banks would fail…Europe would collapse … err…

Dr. Dave

Perhaps someone here can provide me with a succinct description of what the hell “sustainability” is. It’s a cute and catchy buzzword, but what is really meant by it? I’ve heard wind and solar power described as both “renewable” and “sustainable.” The latter descriptor is laughable because everybody knows that wind turbines and solar panels cannot possibly produce sustained energy output. Wind turbines and PV panels wear out and must be replaced (usually within 20 years). They both require frequent maintenance and replacement. How is this sustainable? I believe it was Viv Forbes who wrote that wind and sunshine is “free”, but then again coal, gas and uranium are “free”. We just have to extract them and process them to turn them into electricity. How does this differ from solar or wind? Perhaps the sun will always shine and the wind will always blow (at times), but the means to extract this energy is expensive and has a finite lifespan. These gadgets consume finite resources to produce.
Other commenters have mentioned recycling. Good point! Recycling is only viable if the material being recycled is worth recycling. I used to be an obedient little recycler. Every two weeks I hauled a bin about the size of a laundry basket filled with glass bottles, steel and aluminum cans out to the curb. I cut up and bundled all cardboard boxes and tied up all newspaper in twine. Then the County passed an ordinance which mandated that ALL paper MUST be recycled. So I canceled my subscription to the local paper. Then Waste Management decided they would no longer pick up glass at the curbside for recycling. Their first BS rationale was ostensibly that glass presented too great a workplace risk for their workers. Now they use automated equipment to pick up and empty recycling bins so their workers are not even exposed. What they WON’T say is that the weight of glass wasn’t worth the fuel it required to recycle it.
So a couple years ago I explored this issue. Except for aluminum, (maybe) steel and (certainly) copper all the rest of the carefully sorted recyclable waste ends up in the landfill. There’s almost no viable market for this stuff. Theoretically glass can be recycled over and over and over again. The reality is that unless the recycled glass is virtually free, it’s cheaper to make new glass from scratch. The same is true for paper. There is stuff that can be made from recycled newsprint, but there isn’t much market for it. It is actually more expensive and more polluting to recycle paper than it is to make new paper from wood pulp specifically grown for this purpose. There is almost no market for all the plastic containers, old newspapers and glass bottles we dutifully segregate. It ends up in the landfill with the rest of the garbage. Almost every community receives federal, state or local subsidies to operate recycling programs. They get the money, but there is no responsibility to see that the recycled materials are actually recycled. Is this an example of sustainability?
We’ve been had by environmentalists. I’m 54 and I’ve been taught the virtues of recycling since I was in Junior High. Recycling is a great idea providing there’s a viable free market demand for what’s recycled. Mostly it is a “feel good” taxpayer funded gravy train for every town with a municipal landfill.
So what exactly is sustainability in a community? How is weatherizing homes render a community “sustainable?” Finally, why is the name Scott McNall familiar to me? Was he ever once a banished troll?


I remember my first reality-check regarding recycling/sustainability. It was in the school cafeteria. We were forced to separate our styrofoam plates and plastic spoons from the food waste in order for it to be recycled. This was monitored and failure to comply resulted in punishments and detentions.
However, I soon discovered that the recycle bin contents were simply being dumped into the same dumpsters along with the regular garbage. There was no recycling being done. I informed the school administration about the situation and was told that they “wanted” to recycle, but had been unable to find someone willing to accept the material. After that conversation, I never used the recycle bin again and more importantly (and tellingly), I was never given a punishment for failing to do so.
My friends quickly noticed my lack of punishment and I informed them of the reason. Word spread rapidly and soon few students were using the “recycling” bin. Shortly afterward, the bin disappeared without so much as a word from the administration.

Phil R

Dr. Dave says:
December 9, 2011 at 2:43 pm
“I’ve heard wind and solar power described as both “renewable” and “sustainable.” The latter descriptor is laughable because everybody knows that wind turbines and solar panels cannot possibly produce sustained energy output. Wind turbines and PV panels wear out and must be replaced (usually within 20 years).”
Heh, judging by the photos I’ve seen recently, a lot of them need to be replaced a lot sooner than that.


Ecotretas says:
“WOW! These people have to be exposed, and doubly exposed!!!”
No… exposure is not a solution to a problem such as this. PROSECUTION is.