Concerns about conflict of interest in Humboldt politics abound, and it seems a little rare that any elected or appointed official is completely free of suspicion.
Those that have been paying attention will remember the show down between the Harbor District and a bunch of rail-minded folks over perceived conflict of interest concerning Harbor Commissioner Greg Dale.
It’s particularly rare, however, for an official to have an instrumental connection to an ordinance or policy that greatly benefits them financially and to then go and brag to the press about how much money they made.
But that’s just what District 5 Planning Commissioner, and Ryan Sundberg appointee, Ben Shepherd did for the LoCO a couple weeks back.
In a piece called “GREEN RUSH!“, LoCO detailed a number of Humboldt notables who signed up for cannabis operation registration. It’s an entertaining read, as is pondering whether the LoCO made a sleazy move by publishing all those people’s names. (It is public record now folks!)
But THC’s favorite part of the article is where LoCO recounts their interview with Shepherd regarding the sale of his long-time home for the purpose of starting a real big pot grow. Here’s an excerpt (and we encourage you to read the whole article by following the above link, too!):
“Reached at his home Tuesday, Shepherd, a famously conservative voice in McKinleyville politics, told the Outpost that the operation registered to his longtime Dows Prairie home – nearly 15,000 square feet of indoor and mixed-light cultivation – actually belong to a man named Cody Stross. He said Stross was in the process of purchasing his land as he filed his cultivation paperwork with the county, and so Shepherd gave Stross his permission to use his name on the application.
The land, which he had lived on since 1972, has since sold, Shepherd said – and for “an excellent price.””
Umm, Shepherd’s not the sharpest tool – although he assuredly is a tool – but bragging about how much you profited from a marijuana ordinance that you helped to create as an appointed government official is a special kind of stupid.
Let it also be said that Shepherd is not only the star of a pretty dubious deal involving the approval of a large marijuana grow in his name but intended for someone else’s use (which is legal, for some reason), but he also has an opinion of himself on par with Donald Trump or Rob Arkley. It’s hard to find an ego as over-inflated as Monsieur Shepherd’s, and it’s been a pain watching him throw his pompousness around the McMAC and the Planning Commission.
The real question is, why the hell is Sundberg so buddy buddy with him? Sundberg already has his failings, and his bromance with a Planning Commissioner that turned an “excellent” profit off a land sale that is a direct result of an ordinance he helped create really isn’t a good look.
We heard from a few folks that Shepherd’s land sale is totally not legal, but we think that it actually (unbelievably!) might be. We’ll get back to you on that.
P.s. thanks to THC commenters and email-ers for pointing out we really needed to write about Shepherd’s drug land sale – the first couple of you who did so have a THC care package coming your way!