A sym­bol of sac­ri­fice

Times-Herald (Vallejo) - - OPINION - In Flan­ders fields the pop­pies blow Be­tween the crosses, row on row, That mark our place; and in it — Robert McCon­nell/Vallejo Mem­ber, Vallejo City Coun­cil — Bene­dict Archer/Vallejo — Joseph Feller/Chair of the Solano Group Sierra Club

Make no mis­take about it, war is not some­thing any­one should ever have to ex­pe­ri­ence. As a com­bat vet­eran, it is safe for me to say that, loudly and clearly. There are many memories that con­tinue to haunt a com­bat sol­dier of war. The re­main­ing part of their lives af­ter a war will never be the same.

It is with heart­felt grat­i­tude that I salute my fel­low com­bat vet­er­ans who have ex­pe­ri­enced the hor­rors of war, and other vet­er­ans who have sup­ported this coun­try in and out of com­bat for many decades. It is with deep emo­tion that I salute each and ev­ery one of you who un­der­stand the mil­i­tary’s ef­forts to keep us all safe here at home in these United States.

In Viet­nam we were told by our Army com­man­ders not to be­come too close to our com­rades, as it would be likely that many of us would not re­turn to fight the next day. So we gave one another nick­names. I most re­mem­ber “Doc” be­cause he was our Medic from the Cen­tral Val­ley here in Cal­i­for­nia. Doc kept us safe. Doc was our hero who died one night in front of us while sav­ing a mem­ber of our pla­toon. All I ever knew about Doc was that his par­ents owned a hobby shop store some­where in the Cen­tral Val­ley. I never knew his real name.

For those of you who bought pop­pies from us vet­er­ans as we stood in front of stores this past Vet­er­ans Day, we grate­fully thank you. We thank you for re­mem­ber­ing who we are as vet­er­ans, and what we stand for; be­cause you all know that we stand for you, our fel­low Amer­i­cans. We have stood ready to de­fend you, each and ev­ery one of you, at any and all cost. We are ready to give the ul­ti­mate sac­ri­fice for you, as so many of my fel­low vet­er­ans have done. Our grat­i­tude is es­pe­cially im­por­tant at this the time of Thanks­giv­ing.

And with that I leave you with the fa­mous poem writ­ten and de­liv­ered by Colonel John McCrae in his im­mor­tal words ded­i­cated to the mem­ory of the men and women who served, fought and died in France dur­ing World War 1, the war that was sup­posed to be the war to end all wars. The red poppy flow­ers he wrote about in this poem have be­come the true sym­bol of all who have given their lives in our na­tion’s war.

For those of you who stopped to visit us vet­er­ans, and give us a por­tion of your pre­cious time this past Vet­er­ans Day, we thank you, and thank you also for wear­ing your red poppy proudly.

In Flan­ders Fields

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sun­set glow.

Loved, and were loved, and now we lie

In Flan­ders fields.

Take up our quar­rel with the foe

To you from fall­ing hands we throw

The torch be yours to hold high

If you break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though pop­pies grow

In Flan­ders fields. their rul­ings, go be­yond the role of the ju­di­cial branch of govern­ment, in ef­fect pro­mul­gat­ing law.

Trump has dam­aged our coun­try and the pres­i­dency in many ways, but the dam­age can be fixed. The dam­age caused by court-pro­mul­gated law that in­vades what is prop­erly the states’ purview or is blind to the fun­da­men­tal truth that the fam­ily, not the in­di­vid­ual, is the ba­sic, bedrock unit of so­ci­ety would be more dam­ag­ing than any­thing Trump has done and much harder to fix.

Pre­serve de­serves bet­ter

The Sierra Club wishes to ex­press its dis­ap­point­ment and cha­grin at the be­hav­ior of the Vallejo City Coun­cil and staff in re­gards to the op­er­a­tion of the Mare Is­land Shore­line Her­itage Pre­serve.

In April 2019, the city sprayed the pre­serve with harm­ful chem­i­cals as “weed abate­ment.” They did this with­out no­tice to the op­er­a­tors of the Pre­serve nor any an­nounce­ments to the ci­ti­zens of Vallejo who were ac­tively us­ing the Pre­serve.

In May, 2019 and with only 72 hours no­tice to the ci­ti­zens of Vallejo, the coun­cil voted to en­ter a process to find a new op­er­a­tor for the Pre­serve. Al­though there was no cit­i­zen in­volve­ment, re­cent re­leases of doc­u­ments from the city has shown that city staff has kept the Nimitz Group in­volved for over a year in that process.

Since that time, the city banned camp­ing for no rea­son. Camp­ing is still avail­able at other city parks, which for­tu­nately are not op­er­ated by the city. They then en­gaged in a dam­ag­ing fire mit­i­ga­tion ef­fort, killing a liv­ing 80-yearold pep­per tree and de­stroy­ing the only known hon­ey­suckle plant on the Pre­serve. The city has not re­tained any bio di­ver­sity ex­pert or ar­borist to help deal with veg­e­ta­tion on the Pre­serve.

Next a fire broke out on Navy land. The fire then spread to the Pre­serve. Af­ter the fire was ex­tin­guished, the fire depart­ment of­fered to let the Mare Is­land Her­itage Trust vol­un­teers reen­ter the Pre­serve. They were over­ruled by city staff man­age­ment, who de­cided to keep the Pre­serve closed for an undis­closed length of time. The man­age­ment made the lu­di­crous ar­gu­ment of the dan­ger to users of the Pre­serve from “killer trees.”

The Nimitz Group has also acted poorly in re­gards to the Pre­serve. In June, 2019; the Group cut over four acres of grass on the Pre­serve. Staff was so sur­prised they came to vol­un­teers of the Trust and asked if they had mowed the prop­erty. Af­ter­wards, the Group put up a fence ban­ning ci­ti­zens of Vallejo from us­ing more than 20 acres of the Pre­serve ad­ja­cent to the Nimitz golf course. The Sierra Club con­tacted Coun­cilmem­ber Robert McCon­nell and the Mayor to stop this il­le­gal seizure of acreage from the Cit­i­zen’s Pre­serve. Coun­cilmem­ber McCon­nell’s ef­forts ended in the re­moval of the fence. At the time the vol­un­teers have been locked out of the Pre­serve, no re­me­di­a­tion ef­forts had been at­tempted by the Nimitz Group to re­pair their ill-ad­vised mow­ing and a se­ri­ous ero­sion prob­lem looms now that we are en­ter­ing the rainy sea­son.

In our pub­lic records re­quest, a city spokesper­son wrote a Times-Her­ald re­porter that only one pub­lic hear­ing was go­ing to be en­ter­tained by the city on se­lect­ing a new op­er­a­tor of the Pre­serve. At that meet­ing in early Septem­ber, the city had made no at­tempt to record the hear­ing and was go­ing to merely record items that they deemed im­por­tant on some butcher pa­per rest­ing on an easel.

The city didn’t even bother to open any bath­rooms in the build­ing of the hear­ing. The city also was go­ing to break the ci­ti­zens up into dif­fer­ent groups so that not all ci­ti­zens could hear what each other were say­ing. It was as horrible an ef­fort of sup­pres­sion of ci­ti­zens as I have ever seen. It also was not what the City Vol­un­teer Li­ai­son promised for the hear­ing. In fact, the record­ing on butcher pa­per by the city’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive was so poor, that a cit­i­zen took the marker from him to record the cit­i­zen’s con­cern.

Af­ter that ef­fort and the fire, the city staff man­age­ment has kicked the vol­un­teers who have run the Pre­serve for the last 12 years off the prop­erty and made hugely un­rea­son­able de­mands for the vol­un­teers to re­move Trust prop­erty from the Pre­serve. To add in­sult to in­jury, our cur­rent fire depart­ment won’t even mail these de­mands, but have texted cer­tain vol­un­teers to “swing by and pick up said let­ters.”

In two sep­a­rate meet­ings with the Mayor, the Sierra Club has re­quested that a process be de­fined for the op­er­a­tion of the Pre­serve. That process would in­clude ad­dress­ing all of the mov­ing parts of this com­pli­cated prop­erty. It should in­clude the his­tor­i­cal rem­nants in­clud­ing the 1852 Ge­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey marker, the artis­tic ef­forts of the Navy era, and the ar­bo­real and wildlife com­po­nent of the Pre­serve. We also want the process to re­view the Ci­ti­zens’ Mare Is­land Re­gional Park Task Force Plan that was sub­mit­ted in 2008.

Now, the city man­ager an­nounces that the Pre­serve will open in May. No hear­ings, no scope, no ex­perts on city staff to ad­dress any of the above items, no discussion of fire ef­forts or safety ef­forts that the city feels is so im­por­tant.

In spite of all of these bad acts, it is not too late to re­build the ci­ti­zens’ trust in the city. First, im­me­di­ately re­open the Pre­serve. Also, hold pub­lic hear­ings on the scope of the process of the man­age­ment of the Pre­serve. And stop the se­cret ne­go­ti­a­tions with out-oftown de­vel­op­ers to man­age the Pre­serve. Do not give the ci­ti­zens rea­son to sus­pect another land grab like the LNG project of the last decade.

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