Whether online, in a newspaper, or on the radio in the past week, you’ve probably heard the news about the California Coastal Commission’s firing of Executive Director Charles Lester. On Wednesday, February 10, after a marathon hearing that lasted into the night, Coastal Commissioners voted 7-5 to terminate Dr. Lester.
Lester was a staunch protector of the coast and strong voice for the Coastal Act. While this was a huge disappointment for not only me, but Committee for Green Foothills, coastal advocates across the state, and the entire California coast, the outpouring of public support for Lester was inspiring.
In support of Lester, the Coastal Commission received 25,000 letters. 1,000 people attended the meeting. In just a few days, 10,000 people signed petitions. 253 people spoke at the meeting (only 1 in opposition to Lester). 150 commission staff members (95% of CCC staff) signed onto a letter in support of Lester. There were 50 articles published in major newspapers.
I have to admit, with this glaring spotlight on the issue, I was shocked and dismayed at the outcome. Hopefully this ham-handed disaster, as aptly described by the Sacramento Bee, will result in renewed commitment to coastal protection.