Scoop: Pot-stirring CABPRO facing major strife of its own — just as election season heats up

logoThe 22-year-old California Association of Business, Property & Resource Owners relishes stirring the pot in our community with its extreme right-wing politics. Now CABPRO is facing its own major internal strife, complete with a lawsuit, Sierra Foothills Report has learned.

The political and legal imbroglio comes just as the election season is heating up. CABPRO has long been active in local politics, with endorsements and monetary contributions. It has been influential in the past, going back to NH2020, and local like-minded candidates are counting on its support again this year. The elections are in June.

“I’m sure you’ve all heard rumors of the recent unpleasantness at CABPRO, for which we are deeply sorry,” reads a letter recently sent to the membership by board members Kirk Pharis, Kim Janousek and Melinda Monaghan.

“In late October, the Board of Directors removed Chuck Shea from his volunteer position as Executive Director,” the letter alleges. “CABPRO’s attorney has advised us not to discuss details. But please understand, the decision was not made lightly, and there were major issues between the Board and Mr. Shea relative to the forward movement of our organization.

Shea on Friday denied the version outlined in the letter, citing legal action against the three directors. In “CABPRO v. Monighan, Janousek, Flores and Pharis,” it alleges:

“Defendants Melinda Monighan, Kim Janousek, and D. Kirk Pharis resigned as members of plaintiff’s board of directors on September 1, 2013, which resignations were accepted.

“Upon their resignation, Dick and Tina Marshall remained as plaintiff’s directors. They appointed Thom Forsythe as a director to fill the one required vacancy on the board under plaintiff’s bylaws.

“Defendants Monighan, Janousek and Pharis took it upon themselves to attempt to retract their resignations. These same defendants in concert with defendant Donna Flores have seized plaintiff’s books, records, accounts, computers, computer programs, website, and e-mail program and refuse to return that property.

“Defendants’ seizure of plaintiff’s property renders it impossible for plaintiff to conduct its affairs.

“Additionally, defendants Monighan, Janousek and Pharis are posting false information on plaintiff’s website and communicating false information to plaintiff’s members.”

CABPRO’s offices are located at Robinson Enterprises in Nevada City.

“Please know, we are making every attempt to resolve this dispute without being forced to spend CABPRO finances defending the organization in litigation,” Pharis, Janousek and Monaghan said in their letter sent to members.

The letter went on to say its general membership meetings are starting back up in February. (A new CABPRO newsletter said the meeting is February 18, at 5:30 p.m., at Penny’s Diner in the Fowler Center in Grass Valley).

“If you are interested in joining the CABPRO Board of Directors, or helping out as volunteers, please let us know,” they added.

In the new newsletter, Melinda Monaghan continued voicing CABPRO’s high-pitched rhetoric in an “editor’s letter”: “We need to elect people who are not satisfied with government grants in place of vibrant economies, we need to return the States to the forefront of government, we need to stand up and shout ‘NO!'”

Other authors in the February newsletter include JoAnn Rebane, spouse of hard-right blogger George Rebane, and Jean Gerard, whose mean-spirited opinion article in The Union about the Boardwalk touched off a polarizing discussion. In the end, the Boardwalk was retained, at least for a year.

“If you or anyone you know will be affected by (Mountain Yellow Legged Frog and Yosemite Toad) land grab, please notify us here at CABPRO. The Pacific Legal Foundation has made an offer to represent an owner or group of owners that may be facing the debilitating consequences of a potential designation,” Gerard wrote.

The local hard-right blogosphere includes Rebane, Todd Juvinall, a founder of CABPRO, and Russ Steele, a former CABPRO advisory board member. But none of them have written about the dispute, though the letter has been circulating for weeks. Self-censorship? You can decide for yourself.

The letter is here: letter

The court filing is here: court filings

The case # is here:
Case Type:CIVIL – LIMITED Case Status:OPEN File Date:02/05/2014 Case Judge: Next Event: 06/02/2014

A CABPRO member survey is here: membersurvey

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

30 thoughts on “Scoop: Pot-stirring CABPRO facing major strife of its own — just as election season heats up”

  1. I find this whole thing rather humorous. I kind of had a feeling that Mr. Shea was out of step with the original mission of CABPRO with his focus on “food freedom” and nascent alliance with some local food advocates of the more libertarian persuasion who were willing to align with anyone who shared some of their values. It just goes to show you that sometimes strange bedfellows really are strange, unpredictable, and often unwelcome when one wakes up in the morning.

    But it is not as though CABPRO does not have a history of serial deception.

    As I noted on these pages many years ago CABPRO billed itself as a ‘not for profit’ for many years, starting under the leadership of Mr. Juvinall, only to remove that designation from its web site under cover of night once it was pointed out that characterization was inaccurate and might lead to people claiming donations as tax deductible when they were in reality donations made to a private corporation. I wonder how many people over the years claimed deductions based on the misrepresentation of CABPRO as a nonprofit?

    CABPRO is a private corporation, not a benefit corporation, and it has always been a private corporation formed to represent the individual financial interests of its members. The deception happens every time they show up in public and pretend to be something else.

    1. Yes, I remember the “nonprofit” fiasco well — a real “window” into their operations. I also remember a CABPRO ED named Martin Light, who explored the social issues of “property rights,” including criticism of gay moms, once calling it a “slap in the face” to motherhood. (Jeff Ackerman told me that he too was uncomfortable with a profile of a gay mom running around Mother’s Day — a real “window” and education for me about this “community” newspaper’s mindset).

      BTW, I linked to the letter, court documents and case number of this “unpleasantness at CABPRO.” As it turns out, the lawyer representing the three CABPRO board members is the same one who represented Jeff Ackerman when he sued the grieving father, rather than simply apologize for an ill-conceived column.

      I figure adding these links will make it easier for The Union to chase down this latest CABPRO “unpleasantness” next week. The Fowler Center is a big advertiser, but I hope that won’t influence the decision-making. I wonder if Liz Kellar and Brian Hamilton will give credit to Sierra Foothills Report, as the Auburn Journal has in the past?

      Speaking of The Union, George Boardman’s new weekly column in The Union is being panned around the community. This blog’s mere mentions of Boardman rank higher than the column itself, which must be a real embarrassment. Several of the “electeds” and groups he’s written about wish he’d at least get his facts straight.

      George just doesn’t have the experience or intellectual chops to be a “smart aleck columnist,” though he’s a Jeff Ackerman “mini-me.” (He confused the Auburn and Folsom dams and was too insecure to admit it).

    1. I am sorry Judith but I am not sure what I should be ‘getting’. I don’t really see how what you posted has anything to do with the original post. Am I missing something?

      1. Steven,

        Have you ever wondered why NC is stuck with that ghastly bark cone at the entrance of the city?
        It’s not historical, even in the pre-contact sense, it’s an offense to the Nisenan, yet it hasn’t generated anything like the boardwalk controversy, not a peep.
        It represents a “land acquisition” for the Tsi-Akim Corp. ( which gives it powers over the county.
        I told the City Council as much and informed them that it was now impossible for them to remove.
        The deed holder is the Tsi-Akim Corp. a Plumas County entity.
        Why would Mr. Robinson of CABPRO give away a prominent piece of the city, sheer generosity?
        I suspect not.

      2. Steven,

        I am putting a puzzle together. I have been working on it for over a decade. Perhaps you can help me out here. Your company the Sierra Business Council has been involved with the Tsi Akim Corp. in the past, correct?
        To me that says that you and the SBC may be one of many suspects who have participated in the Tsi Akim’s long range plans to displace the Nevada City Rancheria, for the express purpose of taking control and bringing a large scale gaming facility to Nevada County. All without the knowledge of the general public.
        In the past, when I began to publicly question what I saw going on, the Tsi Akim’s attorney and board member Letty Litchfield issued a warning to the NCR, naming me in writing, and tried to have me silenced by threat of a defamation lawsuit. Members of the TAC harassed me on my home phone and in public places. So, I have been as discreet as possible for the sake of keeping the NCR safe.
        Now I believe that threat has passed. The TAC is back operating in Plumas county where it belongs and I am considering calling for an audit including of all individuals and businesses whose names have been linked with Tsi Akim Corp activities in Nevada County. It’s a long list, and a daunting one, given the power that some of these governmental and non-profit groups, businesses, and individuals wield in this county. My take on this matter is that some of those involved were unaware of the underlying motives of the TAC and did unintended damage while others were back room dealing opportunists looking to get rich on casino dollars.
        When I brought this story to Jeff Pelline’s attention he termed it a “cabal” that I have been facing, as a voice in the wilderness, if you will, and practically alone. Jeff has remained politically neutral in this matter, as he should, but as a journalist of considerable integrity he has continually shined a light on it in his blog. I thank him for that because the Union under Jeff Ackerman’s leadership suppressed the story and relentlessly promoted the TAC. for years. Why would our county’s most prominent newspaper do that do you suppose? Who and what was it serving?
        Steven, you seem like a well meaning citizen with the good of the county at the heart of what you do for the environment and the economy. But I don’t really know you, and if you are part of the cult of personalities that was ready to rewrite Nevada County history and destroy the Nisenan’s future for profit, then you have made a grave moral error with possible legal ramifications down the road.
        As for me, it’s probably time to retain a law firm of my own, one that specializes in Native American law and begin to get some real answers that will expose the truth for this community to see, once and for all.

      3. Wow, Judith, I honestly have no idea what you are talking about.

        I would welcome an opportunity to meet face to face and discuss this issue. I really appreciated the advice you gave me last year on how to properly honor all of the tribal entities and sovereign nations represented in the Sierra and took that advice to heart.

        Sierra Business Council does not now, nor have we ever had (to my knowledge), any direct business dealings with Tsi Akim Corp., we have not been involved with them on any specific projects, nor have we participated in nor know about any proposal to bring casino gaming to western Nevada County.

        I looked up the Tsi Akim Corp and it turns out that I do personally know a couple of the members of their board of directors, but neither of the people I know personally has ever mentioned any of the issues you brought up in your comments.

        I also know little to nothing about the Nevada City Rancheria. I know it was eliminated when all of California Rancherias were eliminated by the federal government in the early 60’s and is one of a few that has not been restored yet (which I learned from you).

        In addition I hope you know from my comments here that I would never condone the sort of harassment you describe here against anyone.

        Re: your comment, “But I don’t really know you, and if you are part of the cult of personalities that was ready to rewrite Nevada County history and destroy the Nisenan’s future for profit, then you have made a grave moral error with possible legal ramifications down the road.”

        I can assure I am part of no such effort.

      4. Oh, and to be even doubly clear: our database shows that we have never received any donations or contributions from the Tsi-Akim Corp., Nevada City Rancheria, or Taylorsville Rancheria.

      5. Thank you Steve,

        I have seen the TAC attach itself to a number of entities in order to create a consensus.
        I googled Sierra Business Council and Tsi Akim together and saw where you have been on the same bill for things like the Mining’s Toxic Legacy, etc.
        It’s a shadowy world, and I have a hard time knowing who to trust, but I believe you.
        Thanks for clearing that up.
        I gave my email address on this post.
        Feel free to contact me there and then we can talk by phone.
        I would like to get together with you in person, but I am scouting homes in Bend so it will have to wait until I come back in a few weeks.
        Meanwhile you can reach the NCR on their website.
        Get to know them, they need friends.

  2. Judith,
    I will ask this question a different way and maybe I will get a answer other than you don’t want to waste your time. Only when you make direct comments about Nisenan does the issue stir my curiousity. To my understanding Nisenan is specific and Maidu is a general term like Pueblo. Nisenan belong within the Maidu community. Is this correct?

    Your beef with the Maidu being celebrated as the local/ specific where it was actually the Nisenan were the local inhabitants. Is this correct?

  3. Ben,

    Thank you for the question.
    I have written about this at length.
    Let’s have a talk.
    Email me at mrscroul@pacbell,net and I will provide you with my phone number.

  4. Todd has now weighed in on my “scoop” on his blog. “It has come to my attention …” it begins. False pride is a real hoot. It is rampant around here. Glad he read the court documents. This story is on fire traffic-wise.


    Re: CABPRO, according to Todd: “We advertised ourselves as “non profit” as we never made a dime of it. Some loons from the left try and make that quip as some sort of legal problem. Too funny. We were formed as a membership organization because our members wanted anonymity. We see what the left does when they find out who members are. They cry, sue and boycott.”

    A business membership organization is organized un Section 501 (C) (6) of the IRS code. CABPRO is not a business membership organization; it is registered with the Secretary of State as a private for profit corporation.

    I am the ‘loon’ Todd is referring too, but I never characterized this as a legal issue, I characterized it as an ethical issue. When you tell people you are a nonprofit they assume you are organized under 501 (C) (3) of the IRS code, thus they assume their donations are tax deductible. They are not. By not being honest CABPRO put and Todd put their donors at risk of committing tax fraud.

    Seems to me that Todd has what he would call “Clinton disease”, he is dissembling over the meaning of the word rather than addressing the core issue.

  6. CABPRO’s turnabout on its “nonprofit” status, thanks to a discussion on this blog, is well documented:

    And who can forget Todd’s failed attempt to revive CABPRO after Martin Light departed. Todd was a short timer himself that time around:

    Sure enough, on his blog Todd concedes to “sitting on the news” of the letter, noting he “chose to allow it to play out in private.” But until now, he had not read the court documents or learned that the suit was filed this week, because it was first reported here. I also provided links to all the documents, including the letter. By contrast the letter did not discuss any “details.” So yes it was a “scoop.”

    Meanwhile, not a peep from Rebane, whose wife wrote an article for CABPRO’s current newsletter. And the only commentary on Todd’s blog is “anonymous.” And what about Russ, CABPRO’s former board advisor? The silence is deafening. LOL.

    Here’s a photo of the whole group, posing with Dan Logue, at a CABPRO function at Penny’s Diner in happier days. Click for larger image:

  7. I read the blog of the dragon and as usual it is empty of any “signs of life or intelligence.” Only a prisoner of one’s own delusional and basically uneducated world would believingly compose the disorganized, anti-factual polemics filled with anger, hate and personal attacks that constantly ooze out of his venomous being. His final post, containing another fifth grade playground insult towards Jeff, illustrates his ignorance of the importance of editing. Or perhaps he has coined a new word.
    I have read his insults of oppositional opinions writers being morons — me, Ben, Steve, etc. — when it is clear to any neutral intelligence, that the dragon is not even close to being in the same intellectual class as are the targets of his venom. Yet, ignorance is bliss, so I expect the dragon to continue to exhale fire which doesn’t burn.

      1. Thanks, Annie. Debating issues with that cowboy hat crowd — wonder how many of them can actually ride a horse — transports me back to the summer of 1972; Red Square, Moscow, standing in a long line to view Lenin’s body ensconced in a rather unimpressive drab building nudged against the red brick of the Kremlin’s outer wall. Passing the time, I was discussing 20th century Russian history with our Intourist guide. She was totally convinced of the correctness of her arguments — typical of a believer educated in a totalitarian state — but she was wrong on virtually all the points she made concerning her own country’s history, particularly those concerning Stalin’s reign of error, and would concede no legitimacy to what I had to say. .(I had studied this period of history since reading The Long Walk, by Slovomir Rawicz in 1956 or 1957, at age nine or ten.) When I returned to finish college after my tour in Vietnam, I was allowed to structure my courses around 20th c Soviet history as much as was possible; I was then a history major.

        But our discussion was civil and pleasant until it had to end as we entered the tomb, silence imposed by four heavily armed Soviet KGB soldiers. (As an aside, I must say the body on display under glass had the same pale, zombie like complexion of a local dragon that roams these part, sputtering nonsense like the maddest of hatters.)

        This era continues to fascinate me — along with many areas of U.S. and world history — and have a number of books on the topic still to read sitting on bookshelves. Now, many of these books have Russian authors, or Ukrainian, a valuable source of varying perspectives.

        I’d like to share some reminiscences of my time in Sochi — if I’m up to it — and if I knew how to use the About section of this blog. Or perhaps, Sierra Voices.

      2. Why am I thinking of “drug store cowboys” with your comment Ed? (LOL) He’s nagged about me too but not lately. I appreciate your extensive knowledge and the fact you are willing to share that with us readers. I was employed at a business when CABPRO was started, in fact, a couple of early meetings were held there. To say the least, I wasn’t impressed from the beginning.

  8. George Rebane has weighed in in a similar vein. No signs of intelligence there, either — or credibility. Hard to imagine them in any meaningful role in our community. That’s what eats at them most. And yes, a double standard when it comes to “censorship.” Whenever they turn on the “nasty” button, you know you nailed them. LOL. For posterity’s sake, here’s a photo of Drew Bedwell swearing in Rebane as his (short-lived) planning commissioner:

  9. I think the best re-cap of the serial deception over the corporate status of CABPRO is in this string from

    The fascinating thing to me is that in the entire thread posted above their were five different explanations or references to explanations of CABPRO’s corporate status by the collective on-line ruminating tower of Rebane babble: 1) CABPRO is a 501c3 nonprofit, 2) CABPRO is a 501c4 nonprofit, 3) CABPRO is a business membership organization, which would be a 501c6 organization, 4) CABPRO is a ‘not for profit’ corporation (which does not exist unless it is registered as a C 3,4 or 6), and 5) CABPRO is a for profit corporation.

    The funny thing is that engaged in that conversation were two former board members of CABPRO (one would think a board member would know what their corporate status is), the founder (who should even in his addled state remember how he formed the corporation), an attorney (who comments on other peoples nonprofit status), and monitoring on the outside the then current Executive Director (who if he does not know what the corporate status was must have been one hell of an ED.)

    How hard is it for grown men to simply say, “I am sorry, upon review I have discovered that I was wrong, I apologize”.

    Apparently it is pretty hard because they are still pretending they knew their asses from a hole in the ground.

    If one can’t identify that hole in the ground how credible are they on any public policy issue that takes even a modicum of intelligence, research, and critical thinking?

  10. CABPRO embodies the nasty, intolerant, uncompromising political side of our community, and it has for years. It’s an open secret, even to most of the conservatives around here. CABPRO proved that it can’t even get along with a conservative BOS. The nastiness and extremism has embodied itself in the blogs of Rebane and Steele for years, and more recently, Juvinall, and a few others. When they can’t win an argument on merit, they turn nasty, trying to intimidate and bully people. They lie about people too. But the departure of ex-publisher Ackerman from The Union, and social media, has removed CABPRO’s “cover,” and the community has discovered what a toxic force CABPRO has been. They are now in an “echo chamber.”

  11. Now Barry Pruett is calling me a “radical liberal.” Of course he’s the same one who also said: “As we all know CABPRO is a corporation formed under 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code.” Which proved to be false. LOL.

    I encourage people to click on this link and read the comment beneath it:
    I found it pretty interesting. “One virtuous people and nation under God. We’ve already seen where we are going without moral unity.” “Virtuous,” “moral unity”? Isn’t that usually in the eyes of the beholder?

  12. Poor Todd is losing his intellectual marbles on his CABPRO blog posts in his “update.” Our son and his school-age buddies have more maturity. I guess we touched a nerve. LOL. At this point, I’ll have to have a sit down with “Pastor Ron” and find out what Todd is learning over at his church. Apparently Todd is not a good listener in church.

  13. Todd’s own blog reads: “Any topic any time. No profanity. Please use your real name and email address.”
    Yet on his own blog, there are posts from “anonymous,” and he uses profanities himself in the email thread. LOL.
    We’ve got to get “Pastor Ron’s” take on this. Do you think he condones it? I’m going to email him some of the nasty, hard-right blog posts. Some of the people are in his congregation.
    He’s an open-minded fellow too. I’m going to ask him to discuss this in person.
    I’ll let you know what he says.

  14. Todd now apparently sees himself as some kind of “Citizen of the Year.” He’s a real hoot. He still longs for Jeff Ackerman to return as his “knight in shining armor.” It ain’t going to happen, Todd. That was then, this is now. I do hear Todd’s brother is a good tiler and more liberal. And what would Todd do without friend “anonymous,” who is allowed to comment anonymously in violation of Todd’s own rules, just to carry on a dialogue? He’s too much of a coward to reveal his name, because revealing it would make him a laughingstock. A real personification of a “frenemy” (ie, no real friends), and he knows it.

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