Friday, September 28, 2007

some corrections.

There are some false assumptions going around. (some of them activley encouraged)

1: The dtsc did not order us to dispose/destroy everything within a year.

This is demonstrably untrue as can be determined by anyone reading the report. (jpg's of the report can be found down the page) Not only does the dtsc demand destruction/disposal they required that we provide a plan for such within 30 days of the receipt of this violation determination.)

This is a quote from the dtsc finding. "
Compliance Action: ACCRC shall develop an inventory for all items set aside for possible use by Aftermath Technologies and for donation/development of a museum, etc. The inventory shall be submitted to Asha Arora C/o DTSC, 700 Heinz Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94710 within 30 days of receipt of this report. In addition, ACCRC shall ensure that those universal wastes are not accumulated onsite for longer than one year."

Now I submit that this is indeed a destruct order. No amount of rovian parsing will change that. In addition as the fines for non-compliance exceeded our assests on hand it was a "do this or die" situation.

So as it stands now, the state still impairs re-use and encourages destruction. (we will end up with additional paperwork and handling requirements while destruction is funded by a consumer funded subsidy) but is no longer threatening to close us down for reuse. (the term "threat" may be incorrect I do not believe that this was malicious or even intentional but the effect is the same)

So rather than run off and say that all is well. The thruth is that all is not well, The laws involving electronic waste in california are at best of dubious environmental and social value and those that try to follow a higher path are penalised.

So the state is now merely impairing re-use no longer effectivly banning it. While this is an improvement it is not a "solution".


Blogger dasht said...

I wish ACCRC was more transparent with regard to who is on their board and who is giving legal advice.

The state's interest here seems to be about the accumulation of waste: it is to be limited, carefully controlled, and accounted for to the satisfaction of an already very busy state bureaucracy. You're taking in things that donors have declared to be waste. You're entitled, if you satisfy a burden of proof, to accumulate some of that for more than a year but, generally, the state wants positive proof that a dangerous cess pool isn't accumulating. Having failed at that burden of the proof the state made the simples assumption: improperly handled waste. And here we are. Indignancy and cries for public outrage are no substitute for what should be a simple proof and/or simple refinement to handling.

This all seems so very basic to what ACCRC is reputed to do that it's shocking to see it in such a state. Who the heck is advising you and what are they thinking?


12:53 PM  
Anonymous Sellam Ismail said...

First, I'm sorry I didn't join the melee sooner but I've been tied up with a heavier than normal workload these past couple weeks.

For the record, I've known James for at least 7-8 years now, and consider him not only a great friend, but one of the most impressive people I know.

I've watched the ACCRC continue to evolve from the time I first started coming around back in the late 1990s through to their current operation, which is one of the larger computer recycling operations in the SF Bay Area, and certainly one of the largest non-profit operations, if not the largest. I am amazed at what James has been able to accomplish, let alone the accomplishment of just surviving for so long. His collection of awards and accolades speaks for itself.

I read the discussions over at Dale's blog and was quite thrown aback by some of the useless and dumb attacks on James and his operation. But then I remembered this is the internet, where even the most stupid amongst us is allowed to pontificate on subjects of which they know nothing, and realized all of these comments were borne out of that type of ignorance. Just based on the information available that's been published about this public policy debacle, it would not be apparent to the casual reader just how tight a ship James runs, and just how much time and effort he puts into trying to comply with rules and regulations of the State of California and the US (in fact the same rules and regulations that he himself in part helped to draft, by the way!)

Furthermore, anyone having the impression that James is just some lowly junk collector is extraordinarily misinformed. Aside from the fact that he is one of the most highly intelligent people I know (and I know a lot of highly intelligent people) if not conventionally educated, and can truthfully boast about converting a car to run on hydrogen (and generating the hydrogen that it runs on) along with an assortment of other amazing projects that one normally hears about coming from academic and commercial research centers, he does all that while giving away around a thousand computers a year to people and organizations all over the world, and has quite literally touched and improved the lives of millions of people because of his selfless efforts. He does all this through a self-funded non-profit that he grew from nothing. And he employs ex-junkies and ex-cons whom he imbues with new and useful skills and training who help him do all this. All this while staying in step with ever-changing and expanding environmental rules and regulations that Fortune 500 companies have to hire entire staffs to keep up with.

I've watched over the years as James has modified his operation to comply with this regulation or that, in all cases pro-actively. James is not the kind of guy who lags. If there is a part of his operation that is deficient, he hones in on it and dogs it until it is corrected. I have witnessed this personally on many occasions. I'm the kind of guy that pooh-poohs such concern over silly government regulations and sometimes question James as to why he goes through the trouble he does to keep up. Well, now I know why. But James doesn't do this just to keep the various government agencies off his back. That's part of it. But the bigger reason is because James is a RESPONSIBLE CITIZEN. He is one of the most responsible recyclers I know. My business takes me to a lot of various recycling operations throughout the bay area, and James' is probably the one that is the most organized and the most compliant with the regulations. The ones that are equally clean and compliant are the ones that got hit by the DTSC over and over again for being sloppy and stupid. As far as I know, this is the first time someone from the DTSC has tried to slap James, and as someone in the know I can say with assurity that it was misguided and over-zealous. The fault here is with the DTSC and their inability to adequately articulate an area of the regulations that they irresponsibly left gray.

Before all the regulations came about in the 2000 timeframe, I used to be able to go grab a monitor or computer off a pile for some project and just walk away with it. If I did that now I would get my ass kicked (almost literally) by James or one of his staff. If I want to do that now I have to fill out the paperwork, as per regulations. I'm what you would consider one of the more priveleged visitors to the ACCRC, and even I don't get a pass. Nobody does. It's either by the letter of the regulation or not at all. This happened as recently as last week, when I had to pass up a piece of hardware I could've really used because it was part of a pile of stuff that had been logged and was on its way to the shredder. I din't want to bother anyone with the paperwork that would've needed to be processed in order to divert what I wanted, so I just let it go. So a perfectly good product that I could've put back into use will instead have energy and resources unnecessarily expended to convert it into raw materials, and yet more energy and resources expended to turn it into a new product that will probably be poorly manufactured and will end up back in the recycling stream in a tenth of the time that the original product lasted. But I digress...

As far as some people wondering how a multi-million dollar non-profit operation has so little funds on hand, all I can say is you've obviously never run a non-profit. Sure, I know some non-profits (that shall remain nameless) where the directors pay themselves six-figure salaries. I don't know what James pays himself, but it is obviously very little, because as far as I can tell James is poor as fuck. He's got what comes through the door of his operation that he quite rightfully re-purposes for his business and personal needs, and that's it. He wears old clothes, drives an old-assed car, and his equipment is constantly breaking down because what money they do get goes right back into the operation so he can re-direct more computers from the shredder and into the hands of people who need them, including tens of thousands of students throughout SF Bay Area schools, to which he has donated countless computers that he and his staff worked to refurbish.

Lastly, I would like to say that this Thomas Lord guy (dasht, above) is an obnoxious prick. It seems fairly apparent that you don't have the first idea of how the ACCRC is run and what they really do there. Yet I see you are the most vocal and prolific spewer of nonsense both on this blog and Dale's. Instead of being useful, you choose instead to be a naysaying troll, seemingly just for the sake of being a naysaying troll. Then you try to get all sincere and offer to donate $20 (you'd offer more but you're poor, fine, whatever) and you then proceed to continue trashing James when it becomes apparent that your superficial gesture of goodwill was taken for what it was. And now you continue the audacity by coming to his blog and posting the above drivel, as if you're someone who has some sort of stake in this, when all you are is a stupid troll with apparently no life and an irrational desire to have yourself heard when in fact you have nothing useful to contribute to the discussion. Here's a suggestion for you: instead of annoying people with your uninformed comments, why don't you put your energy into founding a non-profit organization that does something good for society? Or is posting petty comments to the blog of someone who has done this the best you have to offer? Get a life. Seriously. Go out and do something productive with yourself.

Here's to James: responsible citizen, steward of the environment, helper of people, changer of lives, inventor, philosopher...and a good friend.

Sellam Ismail

11:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vote for James!

1:38 PM  
Blogger dasht said...

Hey, Sellam,

If look with care you'll see that there were just a few people in these discussions who resorted to name calling and ad hominem attacks -- all of who were taking ACCRC's "side", one of whom is the "executive director" or somesuch. And now there's you. What if this had been a zoning board meeting? or a hearing resulting from the DTSC issues? Do you think that kind of attitude towards the neighbors of ACCRC is going to help? Do you actually care about the ACCRC mission?

And, if you look with care, you'll see that per James, ACCRC's recent position with respect to DTSC is almost exactly what I suggested it should be on Dale's blog, only to be rewarded by James lashing out at me. Frankly, I suspect I did a service by letting James flail at me in public -- it probably helped him not f. up the DTSC meeting in multiple ways.

I'm aware of ACCRC's and Jame's good works but surely they are beside the point. ACCRC is granted privilege by the state to simply exist: they darn well better be doing good deeds. The question at hand is whether or not cocommitent responsibilities are being handled. So far, the state has asserted that they were not, and (after initial outrage) James has agreed.

The videos of unsafe production of large quantities of hydrogen and of burning plastics from the ACCRC waste stream in the open air may have geek appeal but are, frankly, not what I suspect the majority of Berkeley residents expect is going on in that district. How do you think my immediate neighbors would react if I started doing those things in our back yard (being sufficiently safe as to have only "small" explosions and to release only "small" amounts of burning plastics)?

A $500 bank account is long past the point at which a properly run NPO of that scale would have gone into crisis mode and modified operations. Basically, the same day that ACCRC was fiscally unprepared to cope with the DTSC challenge, any one of a huge number of forseeable, ordinary problems could have shown up with ACCRC completely unable to deal with them. I've worked for one of the best run charities in the nation (as independently rated), where the president takes $0, where the employees are unionized and equally paid (below market rates), and where frugality is at least as high a value as ACCRC and I can tell you that there's just no good excuse for that $500 number.

The lousy fiduciary exercises and the initially nonsensical readings of the law point squarely at the board -- the very same board that shuns transparency and has not stepped forward to join these discussions. In their oversight capacity, those are precisely the kinds of problems they are supposed to prevent.

I think ACCRC's NPO status is likely to be the next crisis, given the practices, attitudes, and culture I see so far.


2:36 PM  
Anonymous Sellam Ismail said...


Consider it this way: the name-calling was me being courteous. I've purposely come down to your level in order to adequately communicate with you in a manner that you would be able to understand. If you exhibited a level of maturity and intelligence above that of a ten year old then I would adapt my discourse appropriately.

As for the rest of your braying, I see no reason why I should encourage you to continue. It's readily evident you are speaking out of your ass, and you've already received way more attention than is warranted.

8:44 PM  
Blogger Stefan Lasiewski said...

Have you contacted the City of Berkeley about this?

The ACCRC's goals seem aligned with the Zero Waste Commission. Berkeley has been recommending the ACCRC for computer recycling for years now. They might be able to help negotiate a workable solution.

Mayor Bates is sending email talking about reducing our waste stream by 50%. I can now recycle pizza boxes and chicken bones in my greenwaste bin. It seems like they would be very interested to help a local place recycle all sorts of electronic waste.

5:06 PM  
Blogger dasht said...

Stefan: yup. A lot of people I know in Berkeley basically *rely* on ACCRC -- it's a gift to our community and an example to the world. As an example to the world it better damn well stand up to close scrutiny or else counterclaims that it's a buch of "counterculture" BS will hold weight. Hence the highly protective, critical attitude that might be mistaken for animosity.


11:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think my neighborhood's more concerned about the toxic waste coming from Pacific Steel than whatever comes out of ACCRC's pile. Unfortunately the ca-epa isn't.

12:37 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

A very bitter irony is that while dasht "factually" denigrates the great work ACCRC continues to do, less well-known in the blogosphere is the impending danger from REAL(!) HazMat less than 50miles from ACCRC.

The U.S. Navy Mothball Fleet at Suisun Bay.
- The SF Chronicle piece Time to get creative about mothball fleet
- KCBS 770AM-radio's Suisun Mothball Fleet Sparks Lawsuit
- The grassroots organization Arc Ecology's Project: The Mothball Fleet in Suisun Bay

- Flickr's photos of the Mothball fleet, Suisun Bay, California

As this particular comment is written, one of the largest oil spills in the Bay Area in decades -- if not in Bay Area history -- has occurred with the crash of the Costco Busan. The ruinous environmental impact of this oil spill will be felt for a VERY long time. Similarly, although by no means at one fell swoop, REAL AND MEASURABLE hazardous materials from Suisun Bay's Mothball fleet will poison the Sacramento River Delta and North end of the SF Bay Area for many years to come.

Main point here is that this mothball fleet environmental disaster-in-progress should be given WAY more legal discourse and discussion related to HazMat than the [probably] short-shrifted ACCRC.
Get off ACCRC's case!
The fact that the reverse appears to have actually occurred reveals the true nature of this travesty of justice :(

Like sellam ismail, this writer will be glad to continue putting in the good word for James and the ACCRC. AAMOF, this writer also supports the Berkeley Zero Waste Commission's exemplary role in fully promoting current and future recycling and renewal initiatives.
Also an FYI .... a fully registered and active voter ;)

8:18 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home