Catwoman slaps back at fiberglass company
Celeste Draisner, the woman who put on a cat costume and climbed up the smokestack of the just-completed $144 million Knauf fiberglass company in Shasta City only to be hit with a civil suit for $100,000, has scratched back. Draisner, whose climb was to protest the opening of what she and others believe to be an environmentally insensitive operation, has filed an anti-SLAPP motion in reaction to the suit against her. “SLAPP” stands for “Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation,” which Eric Berg, the Catwoman’s attorney, says “are clearly intended to chill freedom of speech and public demonstration.”

In fact, the anti-SLAPP law is included in the California Code of Civil Procedure. Knauf’s civil suit asked for $100,000 and attorneys’ fees from Draisner, who is currently enrolled in the Northern California School of Law. Berg contends that, by filing the civil action, Knauf was sending a message to any others who might want to protest the particulates the company produces and sends out from its smokestack.

Bill to protect free newspapers moves through the Legislature
A bill by Sen. Rico Oller, R-San Andreas, that would make it a crime to take more than 25 copies of a free paper—such as the one you are reading—without permission from the publisher has passed the Senate with no opposition and is headed to the Assembly. The bill, SB1437, would make the first violation an infraction with a penalty option of community service. A second theft would allow the judge to call it either an infraction or a misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of 10 days in jail, a $500 fine and community service. The crime may not be considered as a third-strike offense.

The bill now heads over to the Assembly, where it is expected to pass because no state representative wants to be seen as an advocate for censorship.

Boxer wilderness act picks up opposition
Opposition to the California Wild Heritage Wilderness Act of 2002 is beginning to coalesce two weeks after Sen. Barbara Boxer introduced the legislation that would put 2.5 million acres off limits to logging, mining and motorized and mechanical recreation. This week the BlueRibbon Coalition, a collection of off-road-vehicle recreation groups, sent out a press release that claims the act would “negatively affect recreation and prohibit wildfire management.”

“This bill will close many of our favorite roads and trails that outdoor receptionists have cared for and maintained for 20 years,” said BlueRibbon Western representative Don Amador. “I think it is unfair for us to be ‘rewarded’ for our stewardship and volunteer efforts with a closed sign.”

Amador said his organization is going to offer an alternative plan called the “Backcounty proposal.” BlueRibbon membership includes such clubs as the Warriors’ Society and the Southern Sierra Fat Tire Association, the American Motorcycle Association, the California Off-Road Vehicle Association and the California Association of Four-Wheel-Drive Clubs.

The bill is also going to meet resistance from Rep. George Radanovich, R Fresno, who chairs a House committee Boxer’s bill will have to pass through on its journey to become law. A spokesman for Radonovich said his boss "will consider Sen. Boxer’s bill in his committee when Sen. Boxer introduces legislation to open oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge." Adding, "Even then, Sen. Boxer’s bill has a 100-to-1 shot."