Except for having the presence of mind to reject an endorsement from former mayor, Alan Galbraith, (a very good move on his part) Lester Hardy largely escaped our attention during this election.

We didn’t even share the scathing review of Lester Hardy and his past performance as a member of the St. Helena City by former St. Helena Postmaster, Peter Mennen:

“I’m looking at a copy of a letter I wrote to Mayor Otty Hayne in May 1990 decrying the terrible downstream damage being done by irresponsible hillside vineyard development. It reads, in part:

“I am sending a copy of this letter to Council Member Lester Hardy for his special consideration. I supported Mr. Hardy in his effort to become a member of city government. He presented himself as a concerned person and used his affiliation with the 20/20 Ag Lands Initiative to appear concerned with the quality of our rural environment. But he has made statements recently which appear to be completely out of touch with his constituents regarding protecting our fragile hillsides. For example, he was quoted in a recent Napa Register article as basically saying he’d never met a vineyard he didn’t like and that he was against restrictions on vineyard development in the hillside watershed area. I certainly would not have supported Mr. Hardy if I had understood his real views on this vital issue. I do not think he would have been elected if others knew his bias toward watershed destruction.”

“In the 30 years since I wrote that letter, the enormity of damage to our watersheds and the situation of our reservoirs that’s been caused by uncontrolled runoff and eroding topsoil from hillside vineyards during winter storms is painfully obvious. For example, Bell Canyon Reservoir lost a quarter of its capacity awhile back when the Viader family scraped a hillside clean for grapes and a huge chunk of their property collapsed and washed into the canyon that winter. As a result, the city is struggling to find enough water to maintain our quality of life, and I suspect the town’s water shortage problems are even worse than we’ve been told. And now once again Lester Hardy can hardly wait to champion the “rights” of “individuals”: AKA his rich vineyard buddies in the hills, who want him to help get rid of existing environmental restrictions and give them a permanent green light to carry out the worst kind of destructive behavior, and good luck to all the “non-individuals” like you and me down below. His supporters praise Mr. Hardy’s civic involvements and good for him, but from what I can see, they’re nothing but a chameleon’s self-serving camouflage.
“The truth is: I’m fond of skunks and raised three orphaned babies when I was a boy, but let’s be blunt – no matter how many times you dunk a skunk in cologne, it is what it is.”
But now that Lester Hardy has shown his alignment with the “Napa County Farm Bureau Fund to Protect Napa Valley Agriculture,” (the Farm Bureau PAC) by accepting their endorsement and support, we feel duty bound to bring the readers up-to speed on what this might mean for our community going forward.
Make no mistake.  This is not the Farm Bureau that “supports actual farmers and helps 4-H kids and Future Farmers of America.”  This is a Political Action Committee, doing the bidding, primarily, of two (Yes, “two”) individuals with, what some might consider, significant undue influence in Napa County already, Chuck Wagner and Daryl Sattui.
The Farm Bureau PAC launched in 2019 with monetary contributions in the amount of $60,000:
From public records available at Napa County’s Public Access Portal: https://www.southtechhosting.com/NapaCounty/CampaignDocsWebRetrieval/ Search, “Napa County Farm Bureau Fund to Protect Napa Valley Agriculture”

Of that initial $60,000, $25,000 came from Daryl Sattui and $25,000 came from Caymus Vineyards, owned by Charles Wagner:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caymus (Chuck Wagner)  made an additional, generous, contribution to the PAC of $20,000 in May of 2020:

FYI: V. Sattui Winery also donated $2,500 directly to Peter White’s mayoral campaign and “Charles” Wagner donated $10,000.

So far, the Farm Bureau’s PAC has spent $1,100, each, in support of Lester Hardy, Eric Hall, and Peter White’s campaigns, as well.  So while it looks all well and good and people are want to believe that the PAC actually represents our agrarian heritage (which would be a noble cause if that’s what it was really doing), that is not necessarily the case.

On top of that, besides whose interests the Napa County Farm Bureau Fund to “Protect” Napa Valley Agriculture may actually be protecting, it’s worth noting “how” they plan on “protecting” it.

For that you need to look no further than Ryan Klobas, CEO of the Napa Valley Farm Bureau, and his vigorous denial of the climate crisis and its impacts on the Napa Valley during KQED’s Forum on the Road: “Land Use Battles Continue as Napa County Passes Controversial Tree, Water Ordinance,” hosted by Mina Kim, Apr 26, 2019.

Forum on the Road: Land Use Battles Continue as Napa County Passes Controversial Tree, Water Ordinance

 

Support of vineyard intrusion in the watershed, deforestation of our hillsides, and ignoring the water crisis?   We expected as much from Peter White and Eric Hall.  But Lester Hardy?  You’ve now shown your true colors, as well.

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