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Open Up And Say, 'Opportunist': The San Francisco Mime Troupe performs at San Lorenzo Park on Oct. 1 and 2 at 3pm.


Confessions of a Dangerous Mime Troupe

For those who like their slapstick theater laced with leftist acidity, the San Francisco Mime Troupe's annual performance in San Lorenzo Park (Oct. 1-2 at 3pm) usually hits the spot. They set up their compact, functional stage, deliver an afternoon of hilarity at the expense of Republicans, plead for donations and leave.

Not so with this year's show, Doing Good. Gone will be the mistaken identities, love triangles and flip-flopping trap-door covered stage. Yup, if it's slapstick you want, pig out on some Jerry Lewis beforehand. Instead, the Troupe has translated a book, called Confessions of an Economic Hitman, by John Perkins, into a story about an idealistic young couple, James and Molly, who decide to join the Peace Corps in 1968. We see James cycle through corruption and redemption through the eyes of Molly, who never loses sight of the hardships her husband's work creates. Without spoiling too much, we can reveal what happens at the end of Perkins' story.

"When 9/11 struck, I had a change of heart," says Perkins. "I knew the story had to be told because what happened at 9/11 is a direct result of what the economic hit men are doing, and the only way that we're going to feel secure about ourselves again and that we're going to feel good about ourselves is if we use these systems we've put into place to create positive change around the world."

Sentinel Embeds With Lockheed

Nüz has been called a lot of things in our time, but this September was a first in terms of being deemed too big for our own good.

To be fair, those weren't the exact words Lockheed Martin's communications director Chip Manor used in telling us that Nüz's request to accompany Citizens Concerned About Lockheed Martin (CCALM) on their first-ever visit inside Lockheed Martin's Bonny Doon facility had been denied.

What Manor actually told us was that "the meeting was always intended to be a very small group"--and that only a Sentinel reporter was going to be allowed to attend.

Nüz did try to convince the Sunnyvale-based Manor that denying us access would only feed the paranoia that already exists around Lockheed Martin's secrecy-shrouded ops atop the Santa Cruz Mountains, but Manor remained unswayed.

All of which left us having to rely on the debriefing session that CCALM organized the day after their Sept. 14 Lockheed Martin visit, a debriefing that was based solely on CCALM's list of questions and meeting notes, since Lockheed also refused to let the group tape the meeting--a privilege only accorded the Sentinel reporter.

Also at the CCALM debriefing was the Santa Cruz Weapons Inspection Team (SCWIT), which has been holding monthly vigils outside Lockheed's Bonny Doon plant and voicing concerns about the role of the world's largest weapons manufacturer (yup, that would be Lockheed Martin) in nuclear- and space-based weapons program development nationwide--two activities that may explain why SCWIT was also denied access to the Sept. 14 meeting.

As CCALM's Lynda Marin explained, "Lockheed Martin said they had a problem with the Santa Cruz Weapons Inspection Team, so we came with our questions all environmentally directed."

All of which left Marin feeling frustrated when Lockheed only sent technical and PR reps to the Sept. 14 meeting, reps who thus were unable to address many of CCALM's environmental concerns. That said, CCALM felt the visit wasn't as bad as it could have been. For one thing, the group got insights into the interior design of the Bonny Doon facility, which according to CCALMer Lisa Bunin, is still heavily rooted in the 1950s.

"It was like Atomic Café meets the company town; everything was dull brown. There was fake wood paneling and lots of formica," Bunin recalls. And then there was the fact that the meeting did open up a dialogue, something CCALM has been working toward for over a year.

"We pushed a long time for this, and they decided to respect our request and make a presentation," said Marin.

Still, to date the meeting has not succeeded in calming CCALM's concerns about what happened at the site in the past.

"What happened between 1957 and 1983 was not addressed," said Marin, explaining that when Lockheed opened its 4,000-acre Bonny Doon facility in 1957, it wasn't required to report what chemicals were used and how they were disposed of at the site--a situation that continued for 27 years and spanned the facility's era of peak activity, when there were some 700 employees at the plant.

"So, did they lose their formula for detonators?" joked Bunin at the CCALM debriefing session. "For Lockheed to claim they didn't keep any disposal records before they had to seems absurd on the face of it. But if you use it as a digging-in point, then you can argue that we need test wells all over the place."

Marin agreed. "We'd like Lockheed to take responsibility for dropping test wells on its site--and on the land of any willing neighbors," she said. "And if any neighbors have already tested for perchlorate, we'd like to hear from them."

Rocket Science

For those of you not up on your rocket science, perchlorate and its salts are used in rockets, missiles, fireworks, matches, flares, pyrotechnics, ordnance and explosives--which is why Lockheed officials acknowledge that they've used it at their Bonny Doon plant.

According to the California Department of Health Science, perchlorate can interfere with the thyroid gland's uptake of iodide and can result in decreased production of thyroid hormones, which are needed for prenatal and postnatal growth and development, as well as for normal metabolism and mental function in adults.

At present, no state or federal drinking water standard exists for perchlorate, but the DHS considers that consumer notification and source removal is necessary, if the chemical is found at levels of 6 parts per billion (or 6 micrograms per liter) and above.

All of which explains why there was a huge outcry when the DHS found perchlorate at levels of up to 29 parts per billion in Riverside County drinking water wells and up to 325 ppb in San Bernadino County drinking water wells--contamination that apparently was in a plume associated with past ops of the Lockheed Propulsion Company in that area.

Reached by phone after the "debriefing session, Lockheed's Chip Manor said he'd do his best to find out whether the Bonny Doon facility has ever tested for perchlorate--and, if so, where the reports are.

Nüz also asked where Lockheed tested, how many samples were collected and how often, and perhaps most importantly, how low a concentration level it was able to see--since it's possible that the detection limits at the time of testing weren't as low as they are today. ...

Manor replied later that day in an email titled, "Perchlorates at Santa Cruz Facility," which contained the following background information:

  • There only is anecdotal suggestion, not documentation, that solid rocket motors containing perchlorates were ever tested at SCF [the Santa Cruz facility].
  • If such testing occurred, this would have been in the early 1960s, over 40 years ago, and the test quantities would have been infrequent.
  • Because of the minimal--if any--number of tests thought to have occurred, there has been no regulatory need to test for perchlorates on the property then or now.
  • Perchlorates are used to control "detonation" in an article containing propellant; those articles are chemically balanced to consume 100 percent of materials during the reaction.
  • Facilities that test solid rocket motors therefore do not have trace amounts of perchlorates--they are consumed during a test firing.
  • Perchlorate traces are more likely to be found at facilities that manufacture and load rocket motors or other devices containing propellants. SCF did not and does not manufacture or load rocket motors containing perchlorates, so no loose powders were handled.

    To sum it up, wrote Manor, "The bottom line is that we cannot say with certainty that any test articles containing perchlorates ever were in use at SCF. However, if they were, because of the minimal quantities and the rigid nature of our procedures, environmental testing for perchlorate trace elements at SCF is not warranted."

    Full Disclosure

    All of which got Nüz thinking that if, as Lockheed claims, perchlorate isn't a concern at the Bonny Doon facility, then no one should be afraid to test for it, n'est-ce pas? (Unless, of course, there's naturally occurring perchlorate in them there hills, in which case, testing would be akin to opening a can of worms.) Plus, perchlorate isn't the only issue here.

    In fact, the mystery that continues to surround it and other chemicals, even after a community meeting with Lockheed officials, underscores the importance of full disclosure about pollutant usage and monitoring at the Santa Cruz facility. Meanwhile, Marin says CCALM will continue to seek access to Lockheed's environmental and occupational health records, including any reports of off-site accidents involving Lockheed's trucks. In addition, CCALM is preparing a community health questionnaire, so it can map out any incidents of rare and unusual diseases.

    "We're in the process of drawing up questions that are reasonable and useful," says Marin, noting that CCALM hopes to post this list soon at www.ccalm.org.

    On top of it all, the Santa Cruz Weapons Inspection Team wants you to know that it is continuing to hold monthly vigils at the gates of Lockheed's Bonny Doon facility, with the next one on Oct. 13.

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  • From the September 28-October 5, 2005 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

    Copyright © 2005 Metro Publishing Inc. Maintained by Boulevards New Media.

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