Monday, April 27, 2015


April 26, 2015 at 10:42pm 

By Trisha Springstead

The Arnesens

" The Double Edged Sword "

"When love beckons to you, follow him, Though his ways are hard and steep. And when his wings enfold you yield to him, Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you."  
Khalil Gabran


My Double Edged Trip to Plaquemines Parish, began at night while driving from Mississippi on two lanes of highway. Etched across the skies in the dark forever in my minds eye, were the lights of megalithic refineries. It was an auditory hauntingly quiet, drive into a place that I had never been, but visually my eyes were overwhelmed with the colorful lights. As far as the eye could see, alongside intensely, brightly lit huge cruise ships, glaring glimpses of Refineries, Oil barges. tugs, and trawlers, which became the landscape of the background of the towns, that constitute the parish called, “Plaquemines."

The strange illusion was that in reality, the people of Plaquemines Parish (part of ground zero for the BP Disaster and the Spraying of Toxic Corexit) had to coexist peacefully with refineries, open coal pits, oil companies, orphan wells and pollution. My co-pilot was Theresa Graff, our trip was probably one of the most bittersweet (joyous and tearful) that I have been on since the Blowout of the Deepwater Horizon Disaster in 2010.

Theresa and I checked into a Motel in the Dead of Night. Many of the people staying in our designated place, woke up at 3 to 4 am. in order to begin their day working in the refineries. We were told not to speak of the BP Blowout nor allude to why we were there. A double edged sword, the oil went everywhere, it happened, but we dare not speak of it with the oil field workers or the owners of marinas or hotels. Along with oil field workers, guests in our hotel were wealthy anglers visiting with beautiful sport fishing boats, which approximately, only four percent of the people in the US can even afford to own.

Theresa Graff, Kindra Arnesen, Trisha Springstead

The light of day changed my whole perspective of Bures and Venice, Louisiana. The sun was bright when we drove to the Southern home with the beautifully painted wrapped porch and the inviting oaks that became the backdrop for the beauty that I found in Louisiana. The wind blew comfortably, Kindra was the consummate welcoming friend who for the rest of my life I will know. She and I held together a bond for almost 5 years never really speaking of it and keeping it to ourselves looking out for each other on facebook and in phone calls and emails to one another over the years. Just the look in her eyes finally brought me physically to tears and I could not believe that I was finally meeting my Sister (not related by birth) and my friend. Having Theresa there was a treasure, her humor and compassion was an added component to that sisterhood.

Marriages have fallen apart all along the Gulf Region. Due to the stress, cancers, funerals, illnesses, devastation and the sheer loss that couples and families have had to endure, many prior secure marriages failed. Living in a toxic environment creates elements of anger, frustration, depression and anxiety along with the symptoms of brain fog, lesions, rashes, eyesight damages, cancers and the host of illnesses are likened to First Gulf War Syndrome. Many can not survive the day to day stresses much less the bleak future that they have to face.

Life was good for most of the residents of the Plaquemines Parish and the commercial fishermen but since the Gulf Disaster their everyday joys, celebrations, surrounded by music, love and community have been taken away. Every day in Louisiana I saw people try to enjoy every moment they could but there was always that deep dark stain in the back of so many minds that BP, Transocean, Halliburton and Bill Gates majority owner of Nalco aka Corexit took AWAY.

I can not begin my series of articles on the illnesses to come, until I speak of Kindra and David Arnesen and what they have endured. These “accidental” activists did not want the spotlight they wanted their lives back. They wanted justice, not just for their family but for every family that suffered similar fates all along the Gulf.

The Arnesen family lived for 2 years with reporters in their home and a consistent barrage of spotlight into their everyday lives. They did not receive any compensation for their “advocacy,” at one time in the midst of their nightmare a famous talk show host offered to buy them a new home. Kindra, being the woman that she is said “NO.” That was a first according to the reporter.

She and David gave generously of their time, boat, gas and money and the lives of their children in order to show the world what BP and the Corporate Dynasties did to their community. They did this only to help others that were suffering, and for all of the communities that were impacted by the largest maritime disaster in the history of the United States of America. They wanted their piece of heaven cleaned up and they wanted the US to stop spraying those dispersants.

When David Arnesen first went out on to the water, after the Gulf Massacre, every person on that boat and the vessels around him were vomiting and sick. There are days where he wakes up not feeling well and I noted that many of the residents of Plaquemines symptoms become more acute at sundown. Sun-downers syndrome is a very real phenomenon in hospitals and with many Chemically Toxic people that includes people with Alzheimer's and episodes of confusion.

They weathered Katrina, walking the perimeter of their slice of heaven home that they rebuilt, I was astounded by the magnitude of the work that they did. Kindra talked, “If you look up to that window (she pointed to the second story window of her home) below the window is how far up that water came." She went on to add, "We rebuilt a brick home that was practically gutted to what it is now. We rebuilt our lives then after Katrina, fishing was great and we were able to move forward to live our lives once again. We learned how to evacuate, the people of my town and David knew how to evacuate, why did they not evacuate this place after the BP Disaster?”

With solemnity and reverence to two human beings and their family I was able to look into Kindra and David's blue sparkling eyes. Sitting alone with David one morning in the Arnesen's comfortable den, adorned with photos of their children and their lives, I listened. David's eyes welled up with tears that traveled down his bronze, strong cheek bones when he spoke of the future, “I don't know if I am going to see my children grow up. They tried to take away everything, including my health. Every day my throat gets sore when the prevailing winds blow out of the southwest, my eyes burn. I wake up nauseated some days.”

“I have been doing this (commercial fishing) for 35 years of my life my father was a commercial fishermen well into his 80's I always thought it would be my work for my entire life and there is nothing else that I want to do.” When I asked him about the workforce programs that are being offered (and other fishermen) the resounding question was “If BP made it so good and if everything is okay why are we offered Workforce programs? What is it that the States know that they are not admitting?” David was forthcoming when he spoke of his thoughts in regard to the red tape and the ridiculous rules that were placed on commercial fishermen. His statements were corroborated by others in my journey along the Gulf.

Kindras' sparkling, beautiful blue eyes welled up at times when she spoke of her love for her family, her Parish and her husband. “At night I reach over to see if he is still breathing, David still has discharge coming from his ears and his breathing is not good he is suffering from Chemical Toxicity, some days are good and others are not good at all.” We were in a restaurant the day of our departure, when she began reading a statement that she sent to Bridge the Gulf for a quote, she couldn't finish reading it and I took the text, finished reading it out loud while she, Theresa and I cried. On our trip to a local graveyard Kindra showed us dates and plots and empty graves that were never recovered. “We have a reverence for our dead here, when I am attending at least a funeral a month here…then someone is not looking at the reality of what we are going through.”

The stark reality is that this reporter who loves her Gulf of Mexico, saw a whole lot of early, young deaths in the obituaries and on those grave markers.

Kindra has learned to live with being chemically toxic herself. She looks after her community as much as she can and will be the first to talk to a friend and hold them and a sick child. I watched how she greeted people in her community. She knew their names no matter their color or social standing and Theresa and I in turn I accepted and treated like one of the family. In my trip I was honored to talk to other commercial fishermen and women and residents of Bures and Venice that were chemically ill, I was honored to have them share their stories that will be forthcoming in future articles.

Kindra Arnesen and Trisha Springstead

I only had to spend time with them to see the love that permeates their lives. When I see them together and watch them look at their family I can feel nothing but love for them and respect. The story of how Kindra and David met was a heart rendering story. As she told Theresa and I her story in her mix of Southern Cajun dialect and her passion with words, I was mesmerized. The pride that she feels for her husband and family touched off a tinge of bittersweet envy in that I have not seen that lifelong love with a mate. The words that are expressed by David and Kindra are palpable and in the softness of the moment you can truly feel their words.

The unfortunate fact is that due to work that David and Kindra have done for their community and for the love of their Gulf have left them isolated from some local people, that they have known their whole lives. They have been outcasted by people that they knew, loved and trusted. One thing is that anyone who outcasted them lost some real friends. Kindra and David who would have loved them and accepted unconditionally, if they would not have turned their backs on them. The double edged sword is as Kindra stated, “the loss of connections from over the years has taken it’s toll on our friendships and family.” To this day Kindra shakes her in disbelief at that. It is difficult to see the people that she loved every day, only to be talked over her and be ignored.

The Double Edged Sword is that people who loved their lives in the impact zones and who lived there all of their lives, must co exist with the oil companies, refineries and polluters. I too, after spending time outdoors had burning eyes and a sore throat but I was at least able to get out of that region and come home. The Double Edged Sword is that these people are chemically toxic and have no physicians but for a few in the whole of Louisiana and practically none all over the Gulf to care for them. They are diagnosed as drug seekers, fakers or people who are just out to cash in on a windfall.

It has been estimated that thousands will go out of the Impact zones in a box often at a young age.

That sword needs to be sharpened and its fine blades must pierce the truth so that anyone who needs help and anyone who was impacted needs recompense and the needs are great. They also need clinics filled with compassionate health care providers. Finally and lastly these people need to be made whole that is the least we can do for these people.

Photos by Theresa Graff and Trisha Springstead with love to all the People of the Gulf.

Trisha Springstead, RN, MBS has worked in many areas of medicine and research and has worked with the people impacted by the Gulf Oil Spill and continues to fight to expose and help those suffering with illnesses in the Gulf. It has been proven that oil mixed with Corexit and industrial solvents, PAH's, impact the effects of the toxicity oil on humans, animals. The devastation to our ecosystem and environment have been highly explored and documented. The work of many before her has taught Trisha so very much, including her integrative health consultant, Dr. Wilma Subra, Dr. Riki Ott, Dr. Michael Robicheaux, MaryLee Orr, Dr. Paul Sammarco, Dr. Ira. Leifer , Dr. Linda Hooper-Bui. Dahr Jamail, and all of the people who suffer from exposure to these dangerous chemicals and the bacterial organisms.
This article contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. The information is not advice, and should not be treated as such. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition you should seek immediate medical attention.


Author: Janet Phelan
First appeared:

Column: Society
“We had better share our bewilderments. By hiding them from each other we should not hide them from ourselves.”  C.S. Lewis

The darkness now enveloping the state of California is not a result of a power failure. Rather, it is the result of too much power, concentrated in the hands of those who do not respect or honor those who have delegated authority to them.

This darkness is palpable, though it is not physical. This darkness is the result of attempts by those in power to illegally obscure their activities from the populace. Make no mistake, this darkness is obscuring crimes of murder as well as crimes against property.

The perpetrators of this darkness are acting in concert. On one hand, we have members of the California Department of Justice ignoring their responsibilities under the California Public Records Act. In another agency, also located in the capitol of California, Sacramento, we have other individuals  Julia Ansel, head of the Professional Fiduciaries Bureau (PFB) located in the Department of Consumer Affairs and also Russ Heimerich, spokesperson for the PFB, also illegally obscuring access to related information.

Professional Fiduciaries Bureau, you say. Sounds like a fairly minor issue, right?

In fact, the office is a misnomer. The PFB was established by an act of the California legislature in 2006, and, after Governor Schwarzenegger repeatedly vetoed funding for the nascent agency,  opened its doors for the business of licensing and overseeing professional conservators in 2008. Conservators (in some states called “guardians”) are far more than bean counters. They hold the power of life and death over their wards.

Conservators are generally appointed by court proceedings when there are allegations that a person may be lacking capacity. Upon appointment, the conservator acts in the stead of her ward, making the financial and personal decisions for the alleged incapacitated person (AIP), such as selling his property, making his medical and social decisions. Translated this means that the conservators decide whether or not the ward will get medical care, and whether he will be permitted to see family and friends.

The abuse potential, without oversight, is enormous. Some older people — and conservatorships generally impact the elderly or disabled — have large nest eggs. Suddenly, with the smiting of a gavel, all this hard earned money will be unavailable to the AIP — and only accessible by the guardian. The temptation quotient here for embezzlement and fraud is considerable.

What we are seeing nation wide in the US is the  manifestation of this abuse potential. From Florida to California and all stops in between, reports are flooding in that conservators are stealing the money of their vulnerable wards and in many cases, when the money runs out, the ward is sent to an early grave. Her are a couple of sites to peruse on this issue — stopguardianabuse and aaapg.

So when the California legislature, in response to a series of articles published in 2005 in the Los Angeles Times set up the Professional Fiduciaries Bureau as an oversight mechanism for conservators, Californians breathed a huge sigh of relief.

As it turns out, the PFB has been delinquent in executing its mandate to protect the public and has instead morphed into yet another layer of protection for corrupt conservators

The recent failure to adhere to a series of public records act requests highlights the protective and illegal nature of the functioning of the PFB. And this time, they are protecting a licensed fiduciary who appears to have used her position to commit numerous crimes, resulting in her self-enrichment. The case of Lawrence Yetzer, a disabled man in Southern California, highlights the methods used by Conservator Melodie Scott

In January, a request was tendered to Julia Ansel, PFB Chief, requesting the numbers of complaints on file concerning two conservators — Melodie Scott and Frumeh Labow. Scott is again  in licensing hearings in Sacramento for lying on her yearly filings to the PFB. This is the second such go round with Scott and the PFB. In their initial limp-wristed  effort to deny her a license, the PFB decided to ignore all consumer complaints on file about Scott and solely focus on her dishonesty on her paperwork. At that juncture, there were known to be at least five complaints on file with the PFB concerning Scott.

Recently, the PFB was also provided information that Frumeh Labow also may have lied on her reports to the PFB.

Julia Ansel denied the public records act request and responded with false information about the law. On February 5, 2015, Ansel wrote “The Public Records Act (commencing with section 6250 of the Government Code) requires the Professional Fiduciaries Bureau (Bureau) to disclose, upon request, non-exempted records in its possession. Pursuant to subdivision (f) of Government Code section 6254, complaints and investigations are exempt from disclosure.” 

Ansel was subsequently advised that according to 6254 (f) 2, the numbers of complaints are indeed discloseable. At that juncture, Ansel fell silent, as did PFB public relations spokesperson, Russ Heimerich.

The California DOJ is also refusing to comply with the CPRA. A similar request for the numbers of complaints received on Melodie Scott met first with a refusal and misstatements concerning Government Code 6250 by Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Rita Lane, then with a whopper of a lie from DAG Jonathan Cooper. This would be the very same DAG Cooper who was found to be facilitating Scott’s case when she was first in contested licensing hearings back in 2009.  

Just so Cooper’s actions are made abundantly clear, DAG Cooper was representing the agency which was pursuing the goal of denying Scott a professional fiduciaries license. His smoke- filled back- room efforts to get her licensed might be seen as grounds for dismissal.

Nope, not in our present Alice in Wonderland State of California. Cooper is still ensconced in his Sacramento office at the Department of Justice, ferociously protecting predators from culpability.

In his response to the CPRA, Cooper first tried to fly that there was only one complaint on file concerning Melodie Scott. When I supplied him with the names of two other individuals whose reports had been  confirmed,  Cooper then changed his story. On March 25, 2015, he wrote: “This office maintains records by complainant name, not by subject name, so a search for complaints regarding Ms. Scott is not feasible.”

This is frankly not believable. The idea that the DOJ is compiling a criminal file on an individual by the names of those who have made complaints is not something I would want to honor with anything but a disrespectful snort.

Cooper then urged me to file my requests with the public records division. Multiple requests were subsequently filed concerning Melodie Scott with that division. The ten day time period for reply has elapsed on all requests and no response has been tendered.

Calls to the DOJ Press Office have not been responded to, nor have calls to the Executive offices of both the DOJ and the PFB. It appears that neither agency has any intention of responding to these requests. The fact that the refusal to reply constitutes a violation of law does not seem to faze either agency.

The plot then thickened, as the San Bernardino County DA has admitted to receiving many complaints about Melodie Scott. According to ADA Mark Vos, all these complaints were subsequently forwarded to….the California DOJ.

In correspondence dated April 10, 2015, Vos wrote: “ …the office got many complaints against Melodie Scott. Our office’s own investigators looked into it and referred the reports to Cal. DOJ. As a result, our prosecutor thinks that Ms. Scott lost her license for a time.

Wrong again. At a cost to the taxpayers of over $80,000, Scott’s professional fiduciary license was granted to her in 2010

While we are groping around in the dark in California, trying to get the lights back on, a couple of salient questions have emerged here. I would like to know if the Department of Justice for the Great State of California is simply (and illegally) hiding these complaint  records from public oversight or if they have gone a step further, and have (illegally) deleted them from their files.

I would also like to know at what juncture the Department of Justice dedicated itself to protecting predators, rather than protecting the public from those who would prey on the most vulnerable members of the community.

Maybe when (and if) the lights go back on someone might be able to answer these questions.