letter from Casandra

Note from Bob: This showed up in my mailbox today sent by a Mateel board member who writes, “This is meant for his Reggae on the River blog. Let me know if you have any questions.” Thanks, – Garth Epling

I don’t know who Casandra is or what she coordinates, so I asked.

“Last year she coordinated the Mateel information booth @ ROR. She’s one of the well known local people of our so-hum community. I think she worked with Hospitality at Reggae for years as well.” – Garth

I should note that the point Casandra makes re: the conditional use permit for the event is her interpretation of what’s likely to be a key legal issue in the weeks and months to come. According to a recent report in the Redwood Times, Humboldt County Planning Commission’s designated Reggae point man, Michael Richardson, said that “the Conditional Use Permit for Reggae on the River is issued to the property owner and is an entitlement for the use of the property without taking into consideration the private contractual agreements between the property owner, applicant, and producer of the event.” Richardson also allegedly told the R.T. that “Dimmick can apply for the permit on his own and that minor changes in the permit, such as changing the name of the event, would not require a modification of the permit.”
A source on the Mateel side tells me that either Redwood Times reporter Mary Anderson got it wrong or Richardson overstated Dimmick’s control over the future of Reggae. As I’ve said in the past, at this point it looks like a judge will decide what happens next.

And now Casandra’s letter:

To the editor and community,
The following is my perspective and opinion to disclose my own concerns as a community member, volunteer and coordinator of Reggae on the River and employee of The Mateel Community Center. Despite the so called facts that have been circulated, and the emotional personal history, this is a business deal with contracts and agreements. When you step away from the gossip, take a look at the big picture it is easier to see what’s right from wrong.
The Mateel Community Center is a non-profit organization. The purpose of the Mateel Board of Directors is to protect the fiduciary community assets of the organization and determine its strategic direction and create policy. Mateel owns Reggae on the River. Reggae is the communities’ asset.
People Productions is a limited liability corporation. People’s was contracted to act in the best interest of the Mateel to produce the festival. There were numerous board members and staff people who have resigned due to this relationship, contract negotiations and citing treatment by People’s.
Industry standards are the production company foots the bill, and then pays the owner a contracted amount. The Mateel has always footed the bill to produce Reggae. Yet, the Mateel and the community have always been told it is the reverse. The Mateel never received all the funds that were contracted for in 2005 and 2006.
The conditional use permit is issued to the applicant who is the Mateel Community Center for the project Reggae on the River. There have always been several properties that are covered with the Conditional Use Permit, not just the Dimmick Ranch.
The contract was publicly terminated at the annual membership meeting. The public expressed the need for a “divorce”. The Mateel requested mediation to negotiate the terms of People’s termination. Peoples’ requested a one-day only mediation. A resolution was not reached at the mediation and the contract was terminated by both parties before the new year. After the Mateel researched other production companies they hired 2B1 multi media to put on Reggae 2007.
Boots Hughston of 2B1 multi media is willing to work with all the Reggae coordinators, non-profits, make the festival greener, safer and bring it back to its roots. There are many other music festivals put on by a variety of production companies in rural areas all over the world. If you are in doubt as to Boots Hughston capability of putting on Reggae check out their website http://www.2b1records.com.
These are the questions I have to ask myself as a concerned community member. Why and how did P.B. leave People’s? “No financial stake”? Only to represent the Dimmick Ranch and be hired as a private contractor to Reggae? Can you say conflict of interest? Is this acting in the best interests of the Mateel? Where did the money go? Why won’t they work with the Mateel? No one is perfect but, the Mateel has been very patient and compassionate and gave them every chance to work with the community. Did they have any intention of trying to make it work, or did they throw out every unsubstantial accusation and blame the Mateel for why it didn’t work? Who is Danny Scher? What is his history and involvement in the big picture? Is he the reason Peoples doesn’t need the Mateel to foot the bill any longer? Why does Dimmick not want to work with the Mateel? What were they promised? The Mateel did not put itself into this position, it was put their by a long term strategic hostile corporate takeover. This corporation draws its strategy directly from the Bush Administration releasing lies and going to war in the name of communities safety, when really it’s the dollar that’s the driving force. No MCC means more profits for PP.
Think critically about what you hear, who and why they are telling you? Ask questions! Telling 10% of the truth to drive people emotionally to act on your behalf is misleading to say the least. The rumor mill has generated and perpetuated many strategically released lies and accusations that the media says have been flying both directions. Personally I have only seen it flying in one direction. Some of you may think I have made some accusations in this letter but I am only asking people to think critically. The divide is not equal. I see it as the privileged few who have been on top of the Reggae payroll verses the rest of the community. The Mateel’s stance has been to take the high road, because we are a public organization responsible to this community. Do you want to see Reggae on the River privatized?
To clarify a few of the rumors that I have heard about the Mateel;
“Where did the reserve funds go?” The rainy day fund was used to keep the hall open for the two years that the Reggae money didn’t come in, to put a new roof on the hall and to help fund the big move to the new site (even though the investment in infrastructure was not contracted to be paid for by the Mateel). Originally, when the reserve funds were set aside they were designed to only last one year, this board and staff made it last two years and then some.
“Why put on the Hoedown and the Medieval Festival?” It is true that the Mateel invested money in two new diverse cultural festivals. The Mateel also invested money into Reggae the first years and for the Mateel the money was actually never received these last two years.
Recently two of our community elders came to the Mateel to look at the books- which are always open to the membership- after they chose to become lifetime members. The Mateel has requested transparency of the Reggae books and hired a professional to conduct an audit. An audit is a business tool that many businesses choose to have done regularly allowing for improvements and efficiency. Not having transparent books threatens the non-profit status of this community center.
It’s hard watching the founders of the Mateel who claim to be working for the community vengefully railroad the progress and put out of business the most important economic asset of this entire area. They’re attempting to steal the communities’ most precious asset in the name of the community. It’s not right.

Mateel Forever!
Casandra Taliaferro
Seely Creek

postscript from Bob: The “rumor mill” link to SoHum Parlance is included only as an indication of where the action is in the discussion re: Reggae. I’m not trying to criticize Eric, the dedicated blogger who maintains the site. While Casandra says she sees them, “flying in one direction,” rumors true and false from both sides have show up there and elsewhere in quantity.



  1. Thank you Casandra!

    You are absolutely right!!!! Hostile take overs, (forced bankruptcy?) slapp suits–how very corporate, greedy and selfish. How can these People even justify their deeds?
    Mateel Forever


  2. I am so happy to hear some real discussion, finally. Thank you Cassandra for you insight and willingness to speak. When I started looking into all this, on behalf of Piercy, I was amazed at how many people expressed serious fear about going public with their criticisms of ROTR. What does this mean I asked myself? Well, we certainly have seen. And recently, many have wondered whether this attempted coup has been long in the planning …


  3. Dear Anon 12:49,

    You write, “When I started looking into all this, on behalf of Piercy, I was amazed at how many people expressed serious fear about going public…”
    Are you too afraid of going public? Next time please sign your name…

    thanks, Bob


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