Excerpt from NASA’s Last Stand:
EnviroReporter.com has also obtained information showing that the VCCHB’s decision was improperly arrived at because Stephen Schafer should have recused himself. A June 28 email from the San Buenaventura Conservancy to the Ventura County Cultural Heritage Board implored the board to approve NASA’s plan, without revealing that it was sent by one of its own board members – its co-founder and president Stephen Schafer.
“We support the nomination of the entire Burro Flats Cultural District to the National Register of Historic Places,” read the email signed by the San Buenventura Conservancy Board of Directors. “We oppose restricting the recommendation to require the nomination “not interfere or otherwise impede remediation efforts.” The entire site is a pristine landscape in terms of archaeological sites and cultural features that have not been destroyed through adverse industrial, commercial or development impacts.”
The San Buenaventura Conservancy letter was sent from Schafer’s wife Sherry to him, which was then forwarded to the VCCHB, not bothering to hide their email addresses (the VCCHB staff later redacted them). Schafer admitted that he was on the board, but claimed to having an “open mind” which was clearly not the case.
“I am sort of concerned that there is some cultural [sighs audibly] sort of blind spot in our very Caucasian board that are not easy for us to necessarily get around from the basic comments that I’m hearing, and that is while my notes here state that, in quotes, the site is a pristine site,” Schafer said. “It is pristine from the standpoint of the indigenous people.”
“Is it contaminated? Yes. Does it have radioactivity? Yes,” Schafer supposed. “Our construct is making us say, ‘Hey, it’s not pristine,’ but I believe it is pristine! And I believe it can be pristine and radioactive at the same time!”
Stephen Schafer’s White Mansplaining was so offensive and riddled with falsehoods that it deserves to be documented. Schafer’s comments were as aggressively stupid as any this reporter has heard in 22 years covering SSFL.
Stephen Schafer White Mansplaining
(Selected quotes at the Ventura County’s Cultural Heritage Board June 29, 2020)
“I am sort of concerned that there is some cultural [sigh] sort of blind spot in our very Caucasian board that are not easy for us to necessarily get around from the basic comments that I’m hearing. And that is while my notes here state that, in quotes, the site is a pristine site. It is pristine from the standpoint of the indigenous people.”
“And that’s what I’m worried about, is that the people who are saying that this shouldn’t be on the National register until after the cleanup I think are missing the idea that after the cleanup it’s not going to be eligible for the National Register. Because it’s going to be wiped off the face of the earth from the standpoint of the indigenous peoples. They are looking at this as every sacred oak tree, every sacred acorn, every sacred lizard, bush, rock and feature of the landscape which is pristine! Is it contaminated? Yes. Does it have radioactivity? Yes.”
“There are no plans about how this is going to be cleaned up! But I will tell you that remediation of a site that is not deemed historic means complete and utter removal!”
“I believe the property does meet the criteria as it sits right now, but that criteria is such that you need to look at it from our understanding as Caucasians in that, you know. It’s like the Great (Pyramid), or Notre Dame, or the Acropolis, or the Washington National Cathedral. This is a Native American temple. This is their church. Now, if the Acropolis is suddenly radioactive, it’s not any less historic. Not any less significant.”
“Our construct is making us say, “Hey, it’s not pristine,” but I believe it is pristine! And I believe it can be pristine and radioactive at the same time!”
“So I’m going to change my perspective after understanding the staff report before this meeting based on [Chumash representative] Sam Cohen’s comments that we don’t want to burn down this church in order to clean it up.”
“I think this board of supervisors should be charged to also talk about how this is not good for health, safety, and well being. That’s their charge. Our charge is this: Does this have integrity and significance? And I believe it does.”
“There’s a couple of other comments. There were a whole bunch of comments about how the fact that the place is- basically, I’m going to say poisoned, but I’m going to lump in everything that includes radioactivity and toxicity in water, groundwater, and the ground–it’s poisoned, and that was an omission of the current condition of the national register nomination. Those current conditions are not required. What we’re talking about in a nomination, and nominations generally do not have the current conditions in them. They basically just say: does it have integrity? Is it significant? Why is it significant? Let’s talk about a thousand years ago. Let’s talk about a hundred years ago. We’re not talking about what happened in the last 70 years. That has no relevance to this historic archaeological district.”
“[W]e’re not taking into account the fact that we’re not Native Americans and maybe integrity looks a little bit different from a different standpoint.”
“All of those are public meetings, and all of those have the ability for the public to speak. I came to tears today listening to some of these comments, so they are all relevant. I know I’m going to be called the bad guy for basically pointing out that it’s not in our purview, and I will make and support anything outside and secondarily to this site meets criteria, to emphasize that it needs to be cleaned up, that it’s toxic and poisonous and radioactive, and that everything that NASA and Boeing and the DOE have done up until this point is wrong. But those are two different things. From a cultural heritage standpoint, it’s historic, it’s significant and has historic integrity. Now if NASA has integrity, from what I heard today? No, but that’s a different kind of integrity.”
“[A]ll of those comments that came out of the public comments, I don’t know that they are actually true. This nomination doesn’t contemplate what’s ever going to happen with this site! If it’s going to be fenced forever, or if it’s going to be public.”
“This is Steve Schafer. I’m not comfortable with it because it makes a statement that the site doesn’t have integrity, which means it’s not protected at all. Which means that all of these concepts about mitigation and protection and monitoring don’t actually happen. So I won’t be supporting that. My problem with Miguel’s- I would second Miguel’s except that it was too specific as to the site and doesn’t take into account that maybe there’s a rock that we haven’t found yet. Maybe there’s a cultural deposit that’s three inches underground that’s only going to be found and we’ve now said that the district is only composed of these 117 sites and so I think that’s near-sided and assumes that we know everything.”
“I know that there are people disappointed today and the decision here but it is outside of our purview into cleanup. Even if we believe that cleanup is absolutely necessary. So that’s why I’m voting the way I’m voting.”