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Bob Clark: Perry Mason, where are you when we need you?

Do you remember the Perry Mason TV series? Perry was a lawyer who always got the bad guy to admit their guilt in the end. Enjoy this wickedly-funny read where long-time Grass Valley resident Bob Clark imagines a courtroom showdown between Perry and Rise Gold CEO Ben Mossman.

Read in The Union.


If you’re old enough or watch old TV shows, then you know that Perry Mason was a TV defense lawyer played by Aaron Burr that ran from 1957 to 1966. Perry was amazing! He never lost a case. In fact his cases never even got to the jury because at some point he would get some witness on the stand or often even a spectator in the courtroom to jump up and admit that they had lied and that they were the guilty party. And, he always did it within an hour (including commercials).

Oh Perry, where are you when we need you?

If we had Perry, I know the first witness we would want him to call would be Ben Mossman, CEO of Rise Gold Corp. Imagine a conversation that went like this:

Perry: “How many full time employees does Rise Gold have?”

Mossman: “Well, it’s just me.”

Perry: “Mr. Mossman could you tell us about the gold mines Rise Gold has ever opened or operated?”

Mossman: “Actually, we’ve never opened or operated a mine.”

Perry: “In fact, isn’t it true that Rise has no business income at all and according to your SEC filings is dependent on selling more stock to even continue to operate?”

Mossman: “Yes, but when we get the approval we can get a lot of money to open the mine and we’ll hire a bunch of people and provide locals hundreds of jobs.”

Perry: “The mine closed in the mid-1950s. Are there a bunch of experienced miners in the area to recruit from?”

Mossman: “Well, no, but we’ll train them all and pay them an average of $94,000 per year.”

Perry: “That’s twice the Nevada County average, about $20,000 per year more than other mines are paying, and you’re going to pay trainees that much?”

Mossman: “Well, maybe not initially.”

Perry: “Are there any guarantees that locals will get these jobs or that you’ll pay them that much?”

Mossman: “Sometimes things change. Besides, we have to claim some kind of benefit to the area.”

Perry: “Your outside expert produced a report saying that not only will you hire 300 workers, but that they will have 80% of their pretax income that they’ll spend in Grass Valley, creating another 300 jobs. Will the dollars they pay PG&E for utilities stay in the community? Will the money they spend for gasoline be given to the community or the oil companies? Will the money they spend on a new car down the hill because the county doesn’t even have a new car dealership, or the money they spend at a big box store, or at a mall, or buy online stay in the community?”

Mossman: “OK, so the numbers are inflated a bit.”

Perry: “In fact isn’t it true that none of the reports you have provided from outside experts would ever be submitted if they identified even one problem that you won’t claim can be easily mitigated?”

Mossman: “We’re not stupid. That could sink the project. We aren’t going to pay anyone who won’t say what we want them to say.”

Perry: “Some top-producing Grass Valley Realtors, the professionals who do the local real estate transactions, were surveyed. Those surveyed agreed 100% that if the mine reopens local property values will decline, in some cases by as much as $100,000 or more. Does Rise Gold plan on reimbursing the owners for the losses the mine causes?”

Mossman: “You’ve got to be kidding. That could be tens of millions of dollars! The county refuses to even consider it as part of the evaluation, so why should we?”

At this point Perry is supposed to get him to say, “All right, it’s all a lie. We might drain wells, damage property values, destroy the environment, the air, the noise, the traffic, the very reasons those people love the community, but we’ll be filthy rich. Screw them all. We’re betting the county supervisors will approve it anyway.”

Unfortunately, we don’t have Perry Mason. It all depends on us, the local residents, to stand up and say “Not here! Stop the mine!”

You don’t have to be Perry Mason to know when someone isn’t telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. This isn’t just an hour of entertainment. It is something that can change our lives for the worse forever.

Bob Clark has been a Grass Valley resident for over 20 years.


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