>:>:>Update on OAK GROVE in Berkeley & Community Tree-Sit Day!
>:>:>Upcoming events: Presentation on Pacific Lumber Possibilities,
>Stomp the Stumps party
>:>:>:>:>POSSIBILITIES ABOUND AROUND PACIFIC LUMBER BANKRUPTCY
When Pacific Lumber filed for bankruptcy on January 18, it didn't surprise many people. In fact, forest and community activists had begun meeting to strategize for expected changes more than a year and a half ago after PL had been rather loudly and pointedly threatening bankruptcy to pressure regulatory agencies to give them more logging capability. A lot has happened since Jan. 18.
On the positive side, there are some indications that state officials will resist PL's manipulative moves to make even the bankruptcy work for those at the top of the corporation. PL's initial posturing with regards to tossing provisions of the Headwaters Deal Habitat Conservation Plan overboard have been rebuffed by comments from agency and elected officials, and the California Attorney General's office announced they want to move the bankruptcy proceedings, appropriately, to a California court. The only reason it is currently in a Texas court is because Maxxam "created" a bogus company--Scotia Development LLC--in June 2006 in order to have an office in Corpus Christi, Texas. The offices of this "company" occupy 344 square feet
in an office building with an answering machine. Hurwitz's
shenanigans continue to the end.
On the negative side, PL and its subsidiaries Scotia Pacific and Britt Lumber's over 500 employees of are owed wages and benefits that will now only be paid on the approval of the bankruptcy court, and those employees have an underfunded pension fund. Severance checks for the 90 workers laid off just before Christmas 2006 are on hold. A large percentage of PL employees have 30 or 40 years of service to the company, and the fate of the company owned town where many of the employees and laid-off employees live is also uncertain. PL owns their homes, a good deal until 4 weeks ago. The assets (timber base) are depleted, the streams are trashed from upstream clearcuts, and a large number of residents face regular flooding and landslides that have ruined crops and homes, with no relief in sight. Finally, the company is burdened by about $714 million in debt, thanks to refinancing that sent dividends to Maxxam in Houston but kept boosting the debt burden back up to a figure close to the purchase debt incurred in 1985 when Maxxam took over Pacific Lumber. It was a $27 million interest payment due on January 20 that PL was unable to make that finally brought the house of cards tumbling down.
The principal light at the end of the tunnel is the likely emergence of a company that will be Hurwitz-free and Maxxam-free. That is not guaranteed in bankruptcy proceedings, but it is inconceivable that the creditors and bondholders who will sit at the table overseen by the bankruptcy court could want management decisions to continue to be made by the corporate raider who took the company and the north coast economy down this path for the past 2 decades. But the outcome will be determined by debates, discussions and negotiations over the
next year and a half or longer, as the court-facilitated corporate reorganization takes place. It is reorganization, not a shut-down, that is triggered by Chapter 11 corporate bankruptcy.
COME TO OUR BACH AGITATE-EDUCATE-ACTIVATE SESSION AT THE ECOLOGY CENTER ON FEB. 27 TO LEARN AND DISCUSS MORE. Details below.
>:>:>:>:>:>COMMUNITY INVITED TO CLIMB A TREE
A COMMUNITY TREE SIT-IN will take place tomorrow, Thurs., Feb. 15 to help make an important statement in support of the Oak Grove tree-sit in Berkeley. (For background on the efforts to save this grove of heritage oaks in Berkeley, and the tree-sit going on there since Dec. 2, see www.saveoaks.com). The UC authorities came to the grove today to issue an ultimatum to the tree-sitters and their support people that contradicted their assurances yesterday that they did not plan to remove the tree-sitters.
The grove is located on Piedmont Avenue in Berkeley, just north of the International House and Bancroft Way. The rotational tree-sit vigil will go on from 9 am Thursday to 9 am Friday. If you would like to participate, contact Matthew at 510-841-4061 or 510-684-7233 so he can schedule you.
>:>:>:>:>:>UPCOMING EVENTS--MARK YOUR CALENDARS !!
We will share the Watershed Council's powerpoint presentation on Pacific Lumber's situation and discuss community response to the bankruptcy and what it means to the forests and the community. We will also have an update on the Oak Grove under threat in Berkeley. Lots of news and pictures to share! This will be more fun than a meeting!
LOCATION: Ecology Center, 2530 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, 1 block south of Dwight Way. AC Transit line 72. About 15 blocks from BART.
>:>FRIDAY, MARCH 16 <>the STUMPS **
benefit dance party at Ashkenaz is coming up on St. Patrick's Day eve! We have a stellar line up that includes WORKINGMAN'S ED, the FUNKY NIXONS and the GARY GATES BAND ! Wow! We will, as always, be bustling with videos and info and t-shirt tables in the back ACTION room. Doors at 8, music starts 8:30.
We need roadies and volunteers!