Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Railway Calls on Fort Bragg City Council to Stop Wasting Taxpayer Money on Frivolous Lawsuit

The following is a press release issued by the Mendocino Railway:

The Skunk Train [Image from their website]

Judge Clayton L. Brennan, of the Mendocino County Superior Court, announced on Thursday that he would allow the City of Fort Bragg to proceed with its lawsuit to end Mendocino Railway’s status as a public utility regulated primarily by federal and state law (rather than local law). The City hopes by its baseless lawsuit to wrest control over Mendocino Railway away from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (“DOT”) and to obtain that control for itself. Mendocino Railway has argued that the Superior Court has no jurisdiction to hear challenges against CPUC-regulation of public utilities.

“We are obviously disappointed by the Court’s ruling and have pursued an emergency request to the Court of Appeal to review Judge Brennan’s ruling,” said Robert Pinoli, president of Mendocino Railway. “Sadly, the City Council is determined to waste hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to pursue its relentless quest to destroy the railway and the visitor spending it generates for small businesses and workers in our community. We firmly believe that our community benefits when our City Council works together with local businesses to create jobs rather than engaging in senseless political battles that appear only to benefit our councilmembers’ private business interests.”

The City’s lawsuit is but one of a series of unjustly hostile actions carried out by Fort Bragg’s City Council. The City Council’s vindictive actions also include trying to sabotage Mendocino Railway’s efforts to obtain a $21 million Railway Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing Express (RIFF) loan intended to replace ties and rail and refurbish Tunnel #1, repairs that are essential to restoring the historical connection and the movement of freight and passengers between Fort Bragg and Willits. The City Council’s effort to sabotage this loan amounts to pure vindictiveness as the loan has no connection to any prospective mixed-use development project on the former millsite. In addition, the Fort Bragg City Council has also repeatedly defamed Mendocino Railway in an effort to reduce the number of visitors to the Skunk Train, one of the region’s top tourist attractions, which reduces visitor spending at local stores, restaurants and hotels, and other businesses even more so than it does at the Skunk Train.

“If Fort Bragg’s City Council manages to derail Mendocino Railway’s federal loan application, not only will Fort Bragg’s historic railroad connection to Willits remain closed, more than $20 million in materials and labor will not be invested into the local economy,” said Mr. Pinoli. “It’s hard to understand why any city council, anywhere, would do their best to deny their community a fully-functioning transportation network and local investment that would increase the movement of freight and passengers, and benefit so many residents dependent on tourism and visitor spending for jobs. When the City Council’s bizarre actions do not serve the public’s interest, one must question whether their actions benefit their personal business interests.”



  1. If the railway spent less money on PR to warp the narrative of its intentions, and work with the City, it wouldn’t be in court. Give em’ hell

    • Exactly…is interesting how Mr Pinoli leaves out any and all context of the incendiary action that Mendo Railway took to wreste control of the former Mill site, the largest coastal tract in FB, without working in good faith with the city.

      How much $ has FB spent working with numerous state and local agencies and LP over many years to develop plans and move the ball forward for common coastal and county interests? Lots…
      Then Mendo Railway comes in at the last hour and takes it by imminent domain.

      Mendo Railway wants us to see them as some panacea of common interests and goals but they haven’t played nice and sat back while FB prepped and planned for years around the Mill site, spending public funds, under the guise of public development benefits, and MR kept their mouths shut until they fkd us all straight in the face by taking 270acres by way of law usually reserved for railways who do significant levels of commercial and/or passenger traffic often across state lines.
      And all done without any public info or explanations of what they plan to do about the highly toxic issues and substances left at the mill site.

      Keep fluffing your feathers like a cock and strutting as if this is all FB’s fault Mr Pinoli, your obfuscation doesn’t inspire a sense of public goodwill towards MR.

      Mr Pinoli, a local, is participating in attempting to gaslight us all.
      Seems he may be more of a Corporate shill than a good ole local boy who cares much about any of us or FB.

      There could’ve been a solution brokered by MR & FB for the Mill site. And done for the benefit of all but MR is & has acted much more like corporate agents applying hostile takeover strategy and tactics….the public wishes be damned.

      And now…back to the circus

      • We were working with the City in good faith! We held off negotiations for a year while the City tried to make a deal. I think we had 17 coordination calls with the City Manager. We only entered when the now-former City Manager said it was okay on January 13, 2021. We completed the terms in just 3 weeks and then shared that info with her. We then spent months working with her and collaborating just like you say you seek. And then in May ’21 the City jumps over our bid. I don’t know whether they changed their mind or if they were trying the whole time and the City Manager misled us, but bottom line we were doing our darnedest to work with them.
        Regarding the clean up we have made endless statements that we are doing the remediation. The plan is being set forth by the DTSC and we will follow it, just like we did with the North Parcel and we did with a previous project.
        I absolutely think there could have been a solution with the City. Still hope so but it looks less & less likely as the City continues its attacks on our company. Meanwhile, they lose staff. The City Manager has gone, just like the City Attorney, Community Development Director, Finance Director and more. I believe their lack of experience knowing how to manage negotiations created this battle in May ’21.
        Christopher Hart, Mendocino Railway

  2. I always heard about Mendocino county’s freewheeling and illegal actions starting with the formation of a county way back when. Something s never change. Council members benefitting themselves at the cost of public good and advancement of the county. Same old crap same old families manipulating the system.

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MendoFever Staff
MendoFever Staff
Editor's Note: Whenever an article's byline reads "MendoFever Staff", the contents of that article were not composed by any of our reporters. Types of writing that will be attributed to "MendoFever Staff" include press releases, letters to the editor, op-eds, obituaries— essentially writing that is not produced by a reporter.

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