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The TRUTH as I Know It by Keith Rhinehart

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The TRUTH as I Know It by Keith Rhinehart

am am Keith Rhinehart, the “perennial” candidate for 1st District County Supervisor, according to the Press Democrat. I was raised here since 4th grade, on Channel Drive (remember Channel Drive? It used to be Montgomery Drive!), and Los Alamos Road, where my family “hobby” farm is located on 20 hilly acres of East County, southwest of Mt. Hood Regional Park.

My family, mainly my father, “Chuck” Rhinehart, has fought for our environment and open space in the Valley of the Moon, and for access to Coastal beaches since the early 1960’s. The first fight was against the PG&E towers you see across the Valley, providing electricity from the Geysers to Oakmont. (Don’t get me started on Sonoma Clean Power – by that time, we already HAD “clean power” in Oakmont, straight from the ground!) 

The next big one was access to the beaches at Sea Ranch. Remember that one? It continues today, as developer interests try to overwhelm the California Coastal Commission authority. The commission grew out of a little idea my father and his friends had. My father, Charles H. Rhinehart, who gets little or no credit (like many others) for his years of work, research, writing and making legislative proposals in the shadow of the “great father of local Environmentalism” Bill Kortum, is the man who named the movement. That’s right – “Chuck” Rhinehart named “C.O.A.A.S.T,” the forerunner of proposition 20 that created the body now known as the California Coastal Commission.

So, at Vesta’s generous invitation, here I am. What shall we talk about? How about purpose? OK, the purpose of “The Truth” is to begin a County-wide dialog on the facts available to us. We could apply this study to many subjects, like the County Pension crisis; the relationships between our candidates/elected officials and their funding and endorsement sources; how County Planning Commission members are selected and their role in funding elections; term limits for County Supervisors; Sanford Weill’s role in our local homelessness crisis; even our local Justice system and the killing of Andy Lopez. (Never forget).

So I will be depending on you to bring me interesting County issues that you would like to discuss – whom you would like me to interview, what we need to talk about in our County. Now, since I am a crusty old retiree from Big Business and Education, I’ll just be out front with you and say I am not going to engage in discussions about fluoridation and vaccinations. That ship has left the runway, as far as I am concerned. I am a “baby-boomer,” born in the 50’s, and many lives in my generation were saved by Polio and Smallpox vaccines, and many cavities and tooth decay avoided by using “Crest, with Fluoride” and other dental advances. So don’t even bother to write me about that stuff. 

I am willing to talk about GMO’s in an intelligent manner, but I already have a couple fully-formed opinions about them. There are several arguments, not just one, in the GMO debate. Here’s how I parse them out:

1) GMO’s themselves are harmful for us to consume, or not.

2) Monsanto’s commercial patents extend too far into the property rights of farmers who do NOT purchase seeds from them. Windblown fertilization or seed spread should NOT be blamed on adjacent farmers and Monsanto should NOT be able to sue under patent laws.

3) More spraying of pesticides, or stronger concentrations of them, will not stop the march of Evolution – the more we try to destroy nature and her creatures, the quicker and stronger she will adapt, and then return to our crops and lives in a much hardier form. Spraying and “seed spread” MUST be contained, somehow, to reduce impact on neighboring farms, schools and residents.

4) Label non-GMO’s vs. label GMO’s only – a very weird argument, IMO

5) If nicotinoids destroy the natural, bee-borne (Bee Burns?) pollinating process, they should be as restricted as spray pesticides. They cannot be allowed to be windblown to organic or non-GMO crops.

So I just don’t see it as one argument, with one initiative on our November ballot that will fix everything. Initiative law in general is a meat cleaver – are you going to prepare your gourmet guests’ heirloom vegetable plates with a meat cleaver alone? I think not. It takes many small tools, specifically designed for each job, to do the job properly, which is why we need to fix the corrupt “pay for play” election system in our County and State, so our legislators will make law that is good for the People, not the moneyed special interests that pour cash into their campaigns. Did I mention that my 10.7% share of the 1st District Supervisorial primary cost just 10 cents per vote? It CAN be done. Just stay tuned as the election years roll on…

While I’m rambling on about the local GMO initiative, how about the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, a state initiative? I am strongly in favor of legalizing recreational pot for responsible adults 21 and older, mainly because the failed “War on Drugs” has decimated so many American lives, and alcohol is NOT a choice for millions of Americans who, like myself, have “had enough for today, thanks.” Alcoholism in Sonoma County is 17% higher than the California average, no small credit going to our Countywide “embrace” of wine, craft beers and spirits and the economic boom it has created, not just for Agriculture, but for Tourism in Sonoma County. But the problem is the AUMA initiative was approved with no protections for the small cannabis farmers that got their start on the medical cannabis side of the crop. I feel we owe these local pioneers some debt of gratitude for bringing us to this point, for showing us the medical benefit of marijuana to alleviate symptoms and discomfort from some of the worst diseases known to civilization. So, leaving it wide open for Phillip Morris or RJ Reynolds to completely corporatize the recreational pot business was completely irresponsible, and I am hoping for County and Municipal ordinances that will protect our small pot farms and enable them to compete in this brave, new recreational pot economy. And I will work for that, for my constituencies and the general good of the County, but make no mistake about my position – after all the ruined lives, not by addiction, but by felony convictions and imprisonment due to disgraced, dishonest Richard Nixon and spokesperson Nancy Reagan, I urge you to vote to legalize recreational pot in November!

Enough for this month -- Peace. I’m outta here. Send your questions, thoughts and ideas to me at: Thank you.