From the failed savings and loan bailout racket to the stately giant
redwood trees of Humboldt County, California, the story of the predator
corporation Maxxam -- Pacific Lumber someday may make a movie on
corporate arrogance and abuse. The storyline has taken a bizarre twist
today, some years after Maxxam bought out a family-owned lumber company
and accelerated, to great opposition, the cutting of these ancient trees.
It seems that a newly elected county district attorney, Paul
Gallegos, is irritating the lumber giant for bringing a suit charging
Pacific Lumber with filing a false timber harvest plan in order to
obtain a global logging permit for their property. The company, he
charges, had information about the environmental impact of their logging
proposal that they were legally obliged to give to the Californian
authorities but did not.
Richard Wilson of the California Department of Forestry publically
declared that if he knew about this withholding of material information
at the time he signed off on the permit, he would have rejected the
The owners of Pacific Lumber decided to rid themselves of this
prosecution for fraud by starting a recall of the elected Paul
Gallegos. So they backed a commercial signature gathering firm which is
charging $8 a signature to place this recall on the ballot. It is
remarkable what this artificial legal entity, called a corporation, can
get away with. Imagine a real person charged with fraud trying to
recall the prosecutor.
Well, Pacific Lumber, using fear tactics of mass layoffs, may not get
away with this camouflaged campaign charging the D.A. with being soft on
crime, when he is prosecuting corporate crime. Mr. Gallegos says the
polls show he is ahead by 60 to 40. Why so close? The signature
gatherers and the propaganda campaign are deceiving people that the
petition is about anti-rape legislation or to repeal vehicle license
taxes. Over 90% of the money for this recall campaign comes from
Known for playing hardball, Pacific
Lumber is scaring its hundreds of workers into complaining about the
lawsuit and its impact on their jobs. Of course if the workers owned
the company, they would realize that a genuine sustainable yield would
keep their jobs for a much longer time for themselves and their children.
The recall election is on March 2, 2004. The question in the minds
of many in the County is whether the judge will decide this long overdue
case before or after that date. Mr. Gallegos is demanding restitution
at a level of $230 million for the value of those logged trees and the
resultant environmental damage that would not have occurred had the
company told the necessary truth to the state forestry officials.
In an interview with the Corporate Crime Reporter, Gallegos said that
this is not a "liberal versus conservative issue." It is about "who
owns local government. Historically, the feeling has been that it has
been owned by a select few. We stand for the idea that it belongs to
the people in this community."
He added that Humboldt was a "remote, historically isolated
community." So much so that Pacific Lumber owns one town -- Scotia --
down to every house and the shopping center, he said.
Company towns are not new in our country. They range from the paper
mill towns of Maine to the copper-mine towns of Montana and Arizona to
the textile company dominated towns in North and South Carolina.
But Pacific Lumber, as a corporate defendant, is pushing the envelope
by trying to recall its prosecutor.
For further information, contact Friends of Paul Gallegos, P.O. Box
135, Eureka, California, 95501. Phone: (707) 444-6220. E-mail: