Friday, September 10, 2010

Butterflies and Minor Aggravations

[Edited 9/11/10]

- Four Baker City Butterflies
- Milo Pope/Steve Brocato Incident: Articles and Followup

- My response to the local media
- Jason Bland on Milo's Dilemma
- Gary Dielman gives A Summary of the Events of August 24, 2010
- Note to Deb from Beverly Calder

Four Baker City Butterflies

Recently, both of our local papers had articles concerning a pretty decent outbreak, or transitory and occasional population increase, in a butterfly, the pine white. It commonly feeds on ponderosa and other pines, but may also feed on other conifers, like Douglas or red fir and the true firs, like the white, grand, and sub-alpine firs found in our local mountains.

Bugs could pose problem for pines
Written by Lisa Britton September 01, 2010 10:45 am

In my view, Bob Parker did a great job describing the periodic effects on local forests from these periodic outbreaks. I would only add, that while these butterflies and other insects may periodically kill a large percentage of trees over thousands of acres, there is little evidence to indicate that the events are unnatural or any cause for much concern.

One study about insect outbreaks, INSECTS AND ROADLESS FORESTS; A Scientific Review of Causes, Consequences and Management Alternatives, had some findings that are relevant to insect outbreaks in general, including those of the pine white butterfly.

First important finding was that “Insect outbreaks and fires have been part of the ecology of these forests for millennia.” More importantly, in my mind was this summary of that finding:

“Green and familiar forests will eventually return following insect outbreaks in most locations.
Forests have continued to develop following past insect outbreaks. Although the current outbreaks are very large and may even be unprecedented in extent and severity in recent history, there is no evidence that affected forests cannot regenerate following these disturbances. The forests that are now losing many trees to insect attack will not look the same in our lifetimes, but healthy trees and familiar forest structures will eventually return in most locations. Although beetle [or other insect] affected forests may look different to the human eye, they are still functioning ecosystems that provide food and shelter for animals and water for fish and people.”

It is the last sentence that appears the most important to me. Disturbance, whether caused from fire, insect outbreaks, or whatever, if it is not too extreme, pervasive, or unnatural, is a normal part of forest ecosystems. My favorite example of disturbance that is extreme, pervasive, or unnatural, is that which occurs in many of our forest riparian areas from cattle grazing. There are actually many species of plants, animals, and microscopic life that are dependent on disturbance, including the occasional massive disturbance by insects. A forest isn’t always a forest in the sense of what we often think a forest is, it also normally includes the brushlands, grasslands and snags that occur after fire or other disturbance. Many species, from certain woodpeckers and other birds, to various bugs, butterflies, and etc., depend on the conditions provided by disturbance; the plants and other forms of life that are able to grow and flourish due to the change from shaded forest to sunny open grass or brush-covered slopes. Please don’t take these earlier successional stages, or the species that depend upon them, for granted. They add to what is a glorious, or at least a certainly interesting, diversity, if you take the time to look. A normally functioning forest depends on these changes. The forest is not a simple commodity for human exploitation. If you love your forest, embrace (oh god, not that word, got your arms out?), how about know and enjoy, all that it is, and must be.

Well, anyway, Four Baker City Butterflies.

So back in August, I photographed a few of the pine whites passing through my good friend’s front yard, after previously seeing them in my own. I had intended to write an article on them, but both the Courier and the Herald did an admirable job of doing that before I got ‘round to it. Not much to add other than what is written above, but here are two photos of a male and female pine white butterfly.

The first is of a female pine white (Neophasia menapia):
female pine white
This one, sipping nectar from oregano flowers, has apparently had a run in with a bird or other predator, as witnessed by the missing section of the hind wing. The lower hind wing of the female normally has the orange markings seen above on the wing margins.

This next one is of the smaller male which is normally without any hint of orange in the lower wing margin.
male pine white

White butterflies, like the pine white, which is a species seen in areas of the western mountains, belong to the family referred to as Pieridae, which includes the whites and the sulfur butterflies. The sulfurs are of course yellow, with various markings. I’m sure you are familiar with at least one or more of these, which can often be seen in or near alfalfa fields. One white butterfly, which could conceivably be confused with the pine white is so common in the vegetable garden, that all gardeners know it. Many find it a bit of an aggravation, as it will lay eggs which hatch into larvae, or “worms” to feed on your favorite members of the cabbage family, including, cabbage, broccoli, collards, and the like. These vegetables are actually all members of the same species of plant, Brassica oleracea, which has been manipulated in various ways over several centuries, through human cultivation and selection, into plants with different characteristics useful for the dining room table. Some use a biological control such as Bacillus thuringiensis (BT) to keep the butterfly larvae at bay, and although I have some BT in my refrigerator, there it sits, because I don’t use it. While cabbage whites do cause some damage, they are more an annoyance than a serious pest, at least for me. If I find them in my heads of broccoli, I just wash them out before cooking, or pick their limp bodies out of the water afterwards. ;-) Haven’t checked them out as a culinary delight as yet, but one never knows what the future may bring.

The photo below, of a cabbage white butterfly (Pieris rapae), is not a great photo, as they are not always welcoming to a human presence, and as common as they are, I simply could not get close enough for a photo with my “close-up’ camera. They are often on my broccoli plants, and this one was feeding from the flowers of a neglected head.

cabbage white butterfly (Pieris rapae)

Here is a good photo of a cabbage white, and a very good source for assisting you in local butterfly identification, in case you are interested:
Butterflies and Moths of North America

This next photo is of one of our local hairstreaks that happened to be visiting the same oregano flowers on the day that the pine whites were visiting.
Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus)

There are about 75 species of these interesting butterflies in North America, and about 2,000 species worldwide. Their family, Lycaeninae, also includes butterflies like the commonly encountered blues and coppers. The gray hairtreak inhabits most of the sometimes United States. The hair-like “tails” and wing streaking give rise to their common name, and their simple beauty makes any encounter a pleasant occasion. Some think the “tails” and markings serve as an attraction to predators, like birds, so you will often find them missing a tail or portion of the hind wing. Another photo of them I have is from Pritchard Creek, in the county, north east of Durkee, but you might encounter them anywhere in Baker County. They have a good many host plants and you can find one account here: They are easily confused with the California hairstreak, which can also occur here.

Here is a more colorful specimen from Pritchard Creek;
Gray Hairstreak 2 (Strymon melinus)

The fourth butterfly, one of a few swallowtails you might find in your garden during spring and summer, is the Western Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio rutulus).

Western Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio rutulus).

These butterflies from the swallowtail family (the Papilionidae), of which there are about 30 species in North America, often visit my large ornamental delphiniums, as the one above has. They can be found, as the name implies, in most of the western states and portions of south western Canada. Two-tailed swallowtails also drop by. The western also comes in a black form, but I only see the yellow form here. It is difficult sometimes to distinguish them from the two-tailed, but the latter has a much longer lower tail. Larvae feed on plants of several families, including many in the large rose and willow families.

Pope/Brocato Incident: Part Three
There are a few contributions by other observers and participants below:

My response to the local media:

Well (please don't ever start a sentence with well!), there have been a few mentions of an uncomfortable subject in the local press recently,

First the Herald article on page 2 of the Wednesday, September 8th edition, which I can't find on their website (it's not likely there, at least at this time; even though most, if not all, the other articles about Milo Pope and Steve Brocato, are there).

The article states that "according to police reports" Jason and I were there "that evening and watching who came and went." That might be true, but it wasn't in the police report. It did say we "were there to photograph the meeting.," and to "to photograph a meeting between Bryan, Watkins, Brocato, and Pope." Splitting hairs perhaps, but what the Herald reported is not what was stated in the police report. As I stated in my first blog on this subject, which is not in the police report, "I only wanted a few photos to document that Milo Pope and and friends were there when he was supposed to be at a Council meeting."

The most important things in the police report, that Steve Brocato was named as a suspect, the only suspect, and that Officer Plaza told Bland "he could file a harassment report if he wanted," were not included in the Herald article. No surprise there?

While the Herald did truthfully say that the police report stated that I said that "Brocato came outside and saw the flash of his camera," I do not recall telling the police that, because I don't use, did not use, and never have used, the flash on my camera for any photos with a long lens, or in fact with any lens, on that particular camera. I did say something about my thinking that he probably saw me, or at least somebody, taking photos from across the street. If I did say anything about a flash from my camera, I would have quickly corrected it, or been talking about the flash from Andrew Bryan's camera as he was taking pictures of us. When they all came out as I was leaving with my camera and photos, they saw me attempt to take a few more. That is when Milo and company came across the street to give me a bad time. I guess the point here is that they didn't need to see the flash from a camera, because we were in plain sight, either when there was still the light of dusk, or under street illumination.

Of course there is no mention of AWOL Councilor Pope urinating under the tree even when he had a bathroom inside the law office to use for that purpose.

The Courier, in their "Attempt to Think" editorial column, backtracked only slightly from their position of a week earlier, where they stated that "spying on [Milo] and hid friends with a camera is a bit over the top. . .," by saying "we appreciate their disclosure of [some] information" but then dragged in an accusation the editor had used previously in a communication to another, that my report on Milo's whereabouts and behavior "was a little too much like tabloid style reporting or our tastes--." Perhaps, in fact, it was really a little too much like actual investigative reporting on our elected officials for their tastes.

Here are three more contributions on this subject:

Milo Pope missed the August 24th City Council meetings where the new City Manager was hired and introduced to the public.
By Jason Bland

On that same evening, Stephen J. Brocato almost hit me in the face, and then called the police on me. As bad as it was, this isn't about Brocato's temper and willingness to get physical -- most who've dealt with him are already aware of his strange, and often aggressive behavior. I don't believe his lawsuit has any merit, and after this incident and other documented incidents, hopefully the court will eventually agree that Brocato can't "blow the whistle" on his own bad behavior. Read the City Charter: City Council needed no reason whatsoever for terminating Brocato. The Charter allows the public to elect councilors, but not much else. The City Council need not take a public poll before terminating a city manager. Milo Pope, because he is Brocato's buddy, seems to keep putting these facts aside. But again, to me at this point, Steve Brocato is merely a nuisance, like a pesky fly. The real story is Milo Pope's behavior and complicity in this incident

In my opinion, Pope is openly subverting the city's political process and more importantly, its progress. His close association with Brocato (as documented drinking buddies) also makes me wonder whether Pope is living up to his professional and ethical responsibilities. Have Pope and Brocato discussed the lawsuit? Would you believe them if they denied discussing it at all? Shouldn't Pope wait until the lawsuit is over, or step down from City Council, before socializing with Brocato? I'm told by many that Pope once was a respectable attorney and judge in this town, but I've yet to meet that man. The only Milo Pope I know is the one I've seen urinating on Baker City -- both figuratively and literally. On August 24th, when I asked him why he wouldn't step down from council, he replied, laughing, "I'm having too much fun!"

For Baker City to finally begin a real and meaningful healing process, Pope must resign or be recalled. The city can't afford two more years of his nonsense. We need to truly move forward.

Chris and I were there that night to show the citizens of our community how subversive Pope and his friends really are. We did what the newspapers in town won't, that is, document and report on the whereabouts and actions of a city councilor who is supposed to be at city hall and living up to his oath of office. All of those attending Pope's party should have known that Pope was derelict in his duties that night. To me, those who attended the party clearly demonstrated that they only care about the city when they get to run it.

Again, if Milo Pope had attended the council meetings instead of privately drinking with his friends, including a plaintiff against the city, I wouldn't have received phone calls alerting me about his party. Moreover I wouldn't have to respectfully ask that the citizens of Baker City put public pressure on Pope to resign.

A Summary of the Events of August 24, 2010.
by Gary Dielman

The events I'm about to describe happened on Tuesday evening about three weeks ago. The newspapers have yet to print anything but the most rudimentary description of this story. A story so bizarre, that it's hard to believe.

But you just can't make these things up!

This summary is based on two police reports, recording of a 911 call, and interviews of two of the victims. For the reader's convenience, at the end of this summary I've included the State statutes and City ordinances I refer to. The underlining is mine.

In the evening of August 24, former Baker City manager Steve Brocato called 911 Emergency Dispatch. He told the dispatcher that Jason Bland, whom he referred to as "a freak," was trying to start a fight with him (Brocato), and with former city councilor Andrew Bryan, and with present city councilor and former circuit court judge Milo Pope. (It should be noted here that while he was city manager Brocato sat on the Baker County 911 Emergency Dispatch Oversight Board.) The dispatcher then dispatches two Baker City police officers to the scene of the incident in the area of Ace Hardware and Pope's law office (formerly Higgins Clinic).

The two officers arrive, interview people, and then write up their reports.

From those reports it's clear to me that Brocato called 911 when there was no emergency; doing so is a class A misdemeanor. The police reports also show, I believe, that Brocato made a false report to Emergency Dispatch, a class C misdemeanor, because it was not Bland who was trying to start a fight, it was Brocato himself, who got in Bland's face, hurled insults at him, and, in what was apparently an attempt to start a fight, knocked Bland's hat off his head. Bland was furious and gave back verbally as good as he got but restrained himself from lashing out physically against Brocato's provocations.

By getting in Bland's face and knocking Bland's hat off, Brocato committed, in my opinion, the crimes of Harassment and Disorderly Conduct, both class B misdemeanors.

There's more to the story. Before the police arrive and before Brocato's 911 call, Pope gave Chris Christie, who was there on his bicycle, a piece of his mind, by straddling the front tire of Christie's bicycle, and calling him, among other things, a "creep." In doing so, Pope committed, in my opinion, the crime of Disorderly Conduct by engaging in threatening behavior--Christie was fearful that Pope was going to grab his cameras--and by obstructing vehicular/pedestrian traffic on a public way.

But that's not all Pope did that evening. Even before the above events occurred, Christie photographed Pope urinating beside a tree outside his building.

So, what was this fracas all about? (I'm not referring to Pope's urinating in public. I have no idea what that was about, since the former doctor's office has a toilet and probably more than one.)

It all began when shortly before that night's city council meeting was to start, Pope called City Hall to say that something had come up and he would not be at the meeting. Well, it so happened that a couple of citizens at Ace Hardware noticed that City Councilor Pope was at his law office, when he was supposed to be at the city council meeting to, among other things, welcome newly hired City Manager Mike Kee. Instead Pope was having beer and pizza with several people formerly associated with City Hall, one of whom was Brocato. (Brocato is presently suing Baker City for firing him from his job as city manager.) Also present, besides Pope and Brocato, were former city councilor Andrew Bryan, former mayor Jeff Petry, and former assistant city manager Jennifer Watkins.

This news eventually made it to Bland and Christie, who both went separately to Ace Hardware, from which vantage point they watched the building to confirm the rumor that city councilor Pope was AWOL from the city council meeting. Besides taking a photo of Pope urinating, Christie took photos to show that Pope's car was there. When they discovered that Christie was the person taking photos, most of those present charged across the street to confront him, apparently angry that they were being surveilled. That's when Pope straddled Christie's front tire. Bland, who was sitting in his car on the north side of Washington St. got out of his car to go to Christie's aid, who was being detained and verbally accosted by Pope. Brocato then came across the street and got in Bland's face. And what happened next has been summarized above.

One more thing. Brocato's address on the police reports is 1655 1st Street. That's the address of City Hall! Now why would he give City Hall as his residence? Where does he actually sleep at night?

166.065 Harassment.
(1) A person commits the crime of harassment if the person intentionally:

(a) Harasses or annoys another person by:

(A) Subjecting such other person to offensive physical contact; or

(B) Publicly insulting such other person by abusive words or gestures in a manner intended and likely to provoke a violent response;

Harassment is a Class B misdemeanor.

166.025 Disorderly Conduct in the second degree
(1) A person commits the crime of disorderly conduct in the second degree if, with intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof, the person:
(a) Engages in fighting or in violent, tumultuous or threatening behavior;
(b) Makes unreasonable noise;
(c) Disturbs any lawful assembly of persons without lawful authority;
(d) Obstructs vehicular or pedestrian traffic on a public way;
(e) Congregates with other persons in a public place and refuses to comply with a lawful order of the police to disperse;
(f) Initiates or circulates a report, knowing it to be false, concerning an alleged or impending fire, explosion, crime, catastrophe or other emergency; or
(g) Creates a hazardous or physically offensive condition by any act which the person is not licensed or privileged to do.
(2) Disorderly conduct in the second degree is a Class B misdemeanor.162.375 Initiating a false report.
(1) A person commits the crime of initiating a false report if the person knowingly initiates a false alarm or report which is transmitted to a fire department, law enforcement agency or other organization that deals with emergencies involving danger to life or property.
(2) Initiating a false report is a class C misdemeanor.

165.570 Improper use of emergency reporting system
(1) A person commits the crime of improper use of an emergency reporting system if the person knowingly:
(a) Calls a 9-1-1 emergency reporting system or the School Safety Hotline for a purpose other than to report a situation that the person reasonably believes requires prompt service in order to preserve human life or property;
(3) Improper use of an emergency reporting system is a Class A misdemeanor.

Baker City Ordinance 130.04 INDECENT EXPOSURE.
No person shall willfully and indecently expose his or her person in any public place or any place
in which other persons might be offended thereby or make any exhibition of himself or herself to
public view in such a manner as to be offensive or designed to excite vicious or lewd thoughts.
(Ord. 2976, passed 1-8-1988) Penalty, see 130.99

Baker City Ordinance 130.045 PUBLIC URINATION.
It shall be unlawful for any person to urinate or defecate in or upon any street, alley, public
place, or in any place open to public view
(Ord. 2976, passed 1-8-1988) Penalty, see 130.99)

Note to Deb from Beverly Calder


Your reporter left a message on my cell minutes before your deadline last week, I didn't check it until the next time I used my cell which was days later. I work in a retail store, with expansive hours and published numbers - I don't carry my cell at work but I would argue that there isn't a more reachable council member than myself.

What I would've shared with her was the fact that 2 citizens - neither named Jason or Chris- had called to tell me that there was a gathering at Pope's office around 6pm just before our meetings. It would seem that many people in the community were aware (after all, ACE Hardware is one of the busiest places in downtown) of something that our local media wasn't aware of. That hardly constitutes spying in my book.

I arrived at City Hall where we were scheduled to discuss the contract for Mike Kee and then officially hiring him and welcoming him to his first council meeting. I wondered if Milo Pope would show up smelling of "good cheer", something that a majority of councilors are very aware of, but still assuming he would show up. Just minutes before the exec session began, Becky Fitzpatrick approached the Mayor to say that Milo Pope had just called and "something had come up, and he'd be "a little late."

We all know that he never made it to either meeting.
We all know that your story didn't include the above information, but did include his excuse of "fellowshipping".

As much crap- and I can't think of another more appropriate word- as Milo has put us all through, I don't find it the least bit odd that someone would find it interesting enough to take a photograph of an elected city official skipping a meeting in the company of someone currently suing the city. I also don't think that citizens keeping tabs on their elected officials qualifies as spying - without citizen watchdogs, you would rarely have a story. As it turned out, you reported the excuses brought to you by someone (clearly with personal self interest) to tell his side first.

Your paper should have REPORTED what happened before you printed a flimsy alibi for someone.

If you are so interested in spying, why didn't you weigh in when former CM Brocato had S. Regan conduct her secret surveillance on all council members properties? That was a clear breach of protocol if not spying.

Why didn't you weigh in on the fact that some councilors, Milo Pope in fact, were observed with code violations and were not cited? Not a benefit afforded the general population of Baker City, for certain.

Why didn't you weigh in on the fact that Milo Pope then filed a lengthy, and costly, complaint to the State Ethics commission on the basis that I had a conflict of interest (in his opinion) for participating in discussions about the Property Maintenance revision when I wasn't in violation of any of the ordinances?

That complaint was thrown out by the Ethics Board and one member commented that he couldn't believe an elected official would go that far for retribution. They had asked why Milo Pope would file a complaint against only me, when 5 members of council, including himself, didn't claim potential conflicts (there were 5 members of council with actual or potential violations in Brocato's surveillance document) and I had to state that it may have been related to the fact that I was 'one of four members that voted to remove the CM.'

How far can an elected official go in Baker City?

When it appears that both newspapers quote him far more often than the members of council that have opened their packets, studied the information and actually spoken with their constituents, it would appear that some elected officials get special treatment and can go very, very far without anyone from the press "spying" (or reporting) on their service, or lack thereof.

Beverly Calder

See also Richard Harris' Letter to the Editor Here:

A lot more to Pope-Brocato story

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