Garth Vs Goliath: Mateel Community Center Board Outlines Its Next Steps

Garth vs Goliath sysco

The Sysco Goliath vs Garth

Press release from the Mateel Community Center:

“Greetings all, the Mateel Community Center would like to report that we have tightened our belt and made large cuts to our monthly/annual operating costs. We are making progress by creating a business plan with a bare bones budget to move us into a space where our creditors can be paid. Part of this strategy may require taking a loan against the building to resolve the most pressing debt – this is an option we are exploring, and would require a vote from the membership.

In spite of this forward progress we have made, we received a blow in the form of a lien that will be filed on behalf of the Sysco corporation. This lien is being filed against not only the Mateel, but its president, Garth Epling. As a signer of goods, Garth signed a lease contract in 2014. Included in this contract was a promissory note that enables this corporate goliath to hold an individual personally liable for Mateel debt.

Our efforts up to this point to negotiate a reasonable payment plan with Sysco have been flatly denied. This will negatively affect the Mateel but worst of all, a pillar of our community, lifelong volunteer and overall great guy is now on the hook personally for $40,198.77 of Mateel debt (assets and accounts at risk). This lien is one of the large stumbling blocks we face in securing financing as banks will not lend on property that has been encumbered by a lien. For now, we have cobbled together emergency funds to stave off the lien and avoid even more costly legal fees, but we are starting a crowd-based donation fund to pay these lenders back. All money collected will be used to help Garth keep his assets.

You may make donations at:
Or donate at the Southern Humboldt Community Credit union.
Garth Vs Goliath account # 13597-54

Earlier Chapters:



  • My two cents, Garth shouldn’t be liable but it does seem the writing is on the wall for the Mateel. It seems it has been for some time now. Just because you want things to stay the same doesn’t mean they will, ask almost anyone else in sohum.

    • Mike, I agree. The Mateel was built as a vision of folks who wanted a community center 40 years ago. Times, and people change. This is not the same world we once envisioned.

      • We have lost the community to put in the center many have past on and some have gotten split off not much left now the kids might try to step up but you left them in a hard place the names haven’t changed and most are not innocent communities are built from the bottom up it’s not an easy thing like a damn you got to secure your foundation and they might be better than you think if you get the water boiling well the magic happen

  • How much has Garth’s business billed the Mateel for over the years? Maybe he could give it back

  • Why are the hippy, eat organic, be green type supplying their festival’s food by Sysco?? Hypocrites as usual

  • Know your exposure

    I’m sorry why the cutsey assignment of fairy tale roles in this real life financial disaster?? As much as Garth and even the Mateel may feel cornered and victimized Sysco is not Goliath in this scenario and Garth/MCC only wish it were so.

    In the story of Goliath and David Goliath symbolized a large force, and an unequal battle. This was fair open market retail/wholesale relationship. Equal participants in the contract , delivery and receipt of goods.

    A blow? No a lien is the consequences of an unpaid balance on goods /services rendered!! Why does Sysco owe anyone unlimited time (or payment plans?) on their product?? They don’t. Sysco is not a 9′ tall giant symbolic of pagenism hell-bent on mayhem and murder challenged by garth and the Mateel as diminutive faithful to the God of Israel, David.

    It’s just one business trying to stay in business.

    Learn more here: I know, wikepedia, don’t judge.

    Final note. And how does Justin sleep thru all this ? Probably a few folks not sleeping well. 🙁

    One thing i’d be curious to know is how big that receiving doc was and how deeply this indefinite liability was concealed.

    • Well said . Garth and the Mateel aren’t victims of anything . God , grow up .

    • THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! I couldn’t believe this when I read it. Made me so angry!!! Are we to teach our children that they can do business by ripping off creditors?! Garth essentially signed a promissory note. Stop running your business like some skanky black market marijuana operation and you won’t have these problems!!!

      • Just to be clear, the note Garth signed was in 2014. The debt was incurred in 2017.

        • When was the note due? Do you have a copy of the note, agreement, contract?

        • Adulting is hard!

          And how deeply was that liability buried? Acting as an agent and signing docs for ANY legal entity is a significant responsibility and can’t be taken lightly. Those receiving papers and the concealed -or well spelled out – long term liability needed to be read and revised, or signed off by someone insulated in some way. Maybe an independent bookkeeper, or accts payable person would know what to look for and possibly have bonding/insurance to protect them. Very tough lesson.

        • Liberal hypocrisy

          Just to be clearer the Mateel owes many other organisation’s money as well. Maybe you should spotlight that problem too.

          • I would like to look at that, too. I’ve been told that my local Salmon Creek Fire is owed money. But, at the moment, I’m overwhelmed with stories. Feel free to donate or tell advertisers about my great little site so I can afford to pay for more stories and afford to pay Kelley and the others more what they are worth.

            • The Mateel owe Piercy VFD about $9K ÷ Salmon Creek VFD came to help Piercy staff the event alomg with members of other local VFDs from humboldt and Northern Mendo. The Mateel has failed to Pay Pierxy VFD so therefore Piercy has no money with which to pay Joe and the crew for assisting. Without Piercy VFDs Chief the Mateel never would have gotten the permit from the California State fire marshals office at the last minute. Without Salmon Creek VFD and the members from other local VFDs throughout the region Piercy couldn’t have staffed the event and the Mateel would not have had that permit . Pay the Firefighters Mateel they are the backbone of our region. KYM you are awesome and for the many years I have been privileged to know you (long before the amazing) blog) you always have been.

              • Thank you for explaining!

                • I would add that MCC has not been proactive at all in meeting with Piercy VFD to figure out how to resolve this or even communicate much on hey we are working on it or ww have some kind of plan or ?????? The Fire community in our Bio region is small and our Local state fire Marshalls office representative who signed off on their use permit is just that LOCAl in fact he lives less than an hour from French’s Camp and has been in the local fire Service for decades… he isnt just a guy from Sacramento or Cal-Fire. I truly hope MCC makes the fires guys a priority. As well as the many local vendors and contractors.

              • Here is a WIN-WIN….!
                The Mateel could set up a method for local communities to donate money that would be DEDICATED TO PAY THE VFDs (neighbors) IN THEIR NEIGHBORHOOD.
                The effort could be done in as simple a way as holding casual meetings (maybe a potluck to make it more heartfelt) in each community where a debt is due, having pre-invited influential locals and those who CAN afford to make the donations (there ARE still growers making plenty money), which would be DEDICATED to pay off their VFD (or other entities) RIGHT THEN AND THERE (or within a few weeks, after community locals spread the word about the program/ opportunity). The Mateel Reps would apologize for the delay and would explain some changes in the system will help prevent acquiring such debts in the future. The VFD (or entity) would then sign off on the debt, all could shake hands and give hugs.
                Win-Win: The Mateel’s debt goes down; Local (sub-community/ watershed) community members take care of their own; Those who can afford to make donations will be more motivated to do so, since their money stays right there to support their neighbors.
                This same model could (likely to a limited degree) work by holding a meeting of local business communities, etc., to seek donations to pay off a/a few of ‘their own’ business(es).
                LET’S GET CREATIVE!
                We can do this! Make the Mateel whole!
                ‘You may call me a dreamer, but I’m not the only one….’

                • Sorry, but getting “CREATIVE” is what gets you in trouble. The Mateel needs to be open and transparent, or stop claiming you are a tax exempt public benefit and charitable organization. As a 501c3, it’s not the public’s responsibility to bale them out of debt. A community 501c3 represents its community, I guess the apple don’t fall to far from the tree…

                  Here is the last public federal tax return from the Mateel (2015). Why does the public need to bale them out of debt?


                  If you want to get “CREATIVE”, why are they paying out $612,138.00 in Salaries and compensation in 2015? Was any money used to improve the South Fork Eel River, NO, only to line someone’s pocket…

                • How can the Board President of a 501c3 post a GoFundMe account and ask for money to bail him out of personal liability and debt, that was directly attributed to the MCC & Reggae on the River?


  • Set up a go fund me page?

  • Stating the obvious

    Maybe he shouldn’t sell laugnitas at every venue , that’s the last beer available every time. That beer is horrible

  • Hey, people. Before running Sysco down as a corporate behemoth and deserving of taking a $30,000 hit, consider that it employs several people in Humboldt County, people just like you and me. These employees go to work every day and are paid on commission. When a customer stiffs Sysco, those earned commissions get taken away.

    The Mateel’s management and board had plenty of warning that the organization was financially on precarious ground, if they had cared to look and fulfill their fiduciary duties. Neglect and malfeasance are serious offenses in any organization, for-profit and not-for-profit, and board members who have breached their obligations are personally subject to criminal and civil penalties and lawsuits.

    Management and Board Members would be well advised to seek legal counsel. What they learn when speaking with their attorneys may very well be an impetus to increase their fund-raising efforts.

    • 30k is one thing it is the 10k in intrest and late fees that has me upset. That is excessive, a modest rate sure but that works out to over 30 percent. That is bull crap.

    • From what can be seen of syscos earnings, I highly doubt 40 grand makes an inkling of difference if “stiffed”. Are you implying that if stiffed they will dock the 3 workers in our county that money? That makes them sound even worse. Please provide a link to whom from sysco made the deal and how much they will actually lose if this debts not paid.

      One of their ceo’s pulls in 15 million a year on the books. They are a horrid corporate conglomerate. They will not even work out a payment plan and your defending them???

  • Wow, that’s allot of big words. Lawyer much?

  • Bout time the Mateel board held an emergency yard sale or something, because begging the community to pay debts that were incurred by poor decisions is insulting to the community they are supposed to serve. In donations, membership, beer sales, and tickets , the mateel has had their share of my income since I got here ($15kish over 8 years, if you’re wondering) and the boards misuse of those funds, while concerning, are not my (Or your) responsibility. If the board wants to throw Garth under the bus and guilt trip their base instead of selling off assets to pay their debts, that’s between Garth and the Mateel board.

  • Why did Garth put his name on a document fixed to a mortgage on Real Estate ? Who drew up this contract and who told Garth it was a good idea to sign it ?
    And why did Sysco want a real person connected to this deal ? Something is very fishy around here. An LLC would of limited Garth financially to just the money he invested into the Mateel . Which I am sure is nothing 0 $. But Garth put his personal bank assets at risk. Again WHO was his Crazy Lawyer ?

  • Sell the MATEEL. There are people in this community that could flat out buy it (not all the business folks are crying the blues around here) and put into their real estate empire and have something else to brag about.

  • PAY YOUR BILLS! HOW BOUT THAT! You take millions from the public, whine, GREED! Stupid milleniels think this is a hippy feel good festival, when all it is a tweeker fest, looking for stupid youth. This is not what regae on the river started as.if you go, plan to be ripped off. No safe tents.

  • Maybe selling Reggae is a very good idea. Seems like it would be a betrayal to to the community to remortgage the center and have that go belly up. People are going to have a lot less $$ from now on, we will need a community center.

  • Pathetic. You recieved goods from a vendor, mismanaged funds and it’s the vendors fault? Signed in 2014? So the vendor should give a free “loan”. This lack of responsibility by even signing this deal shows the incompetence at the highest level in how MCC was run. Oh and can we please bail you out? WTFudge?? can we all get free tickets?

  • Save the river. Get rid of Reggae.

    • Exactly, Thank you.

      Did you know; during and after ROTR, the E Coli level increases to more than 3 times in the South Fork Eel than tested before ROTR? This can be confirmed from the Mateel’s own annual report to the Planning Department:

      • what about northern nights input from the week before your always so bent on the mateels input on the river but there is an equally sized festival that has no oversight from mendo county… they pull water directly out of the river during the show…and camp to the waters edge…wheres the state water control board… wheres the county inspection… where is the ed voice outcry….this point makes it seem as if your vendetta is directed toward the mateel only…mr voice

        • Thank you for your fallacy of relevance “koastdog”. Northern Nights oversight and mitigation comes from Mendocino County; to whom I have made many public comments and concerns known since they started. Northern Nights is not in the blogs as like the MCC is right now, where I can make comments and disclose the facts about them. Northern Nights does not have wastewater leachfields below the ordinary high water and floodplain of the South Fork Eel River and discharges 44,000 gallons of wastewater into the watershed every year from their event. If you read the water testing from ROTR I posted, you will note, the testing in the SF was conducted before Reggae (after NN) and is 3 times lower than during and after Reggae.

          Even if Northern Nights caused E Coli to be present in the river like Reggae, it don’t make it right, nor does your fallacy…

          I cannot apologize for being “bent” on saving the South Fork Eel from the degrading effects of human activities that adversely affect water quality and wildlife habitat, i.e. ESU, ESA and EFH. It took years and years of time and money to get Mercer Fraser’s asphalt batch plant, instream gravel extraction and processing operation in compliance and shut down.

          Are you on the Mateel Board or Staff? Maybe use a real name if you want answers. Thank you…

          BTW, Northern Nights was July 14 – 16 2017, almost 3 weeks before Reggae, not “the week before”

  • This attempt to try to turn the financial train wreck that is the Mateel into an Us vs the Man, David vs Goliath battle is embarrassing. Maybe in the heyday you could fool enough stoned, idealistic people into believing this, but not anymore.

  • Times have changed

    Hey Garth why Cysco?
    What ever happened to Mountain ⛰ people whole sale that use to deliver quality food 🥘 goods to the area Cysco is to corporate for the Mateel’s alternative lifestyle your going to give the Mateel a stomach cramp to its whole lifestyle.

  • Here is the Mateel 2014 Independent Auditor’s Report and Financial Statement (Pehling & Pehling, Truckee Ca):

    There’s a lot of interesting financial information, however, look at page 10; it seems the Arthur Family Trust not only makes $6000 per event, but they also received a portion of the gate, e.g. “per permitted ticket” until 2023.

    And, there is discussion about the reason for private individual bridge loans.

    Can’t wait to see 2015, 2016 etc…

  • I love the Mateel, but it seems at his point they are asking people to keep throwing money at a sinking ship. Garth should not be held personally accountable and the Mateel should do whatever to bail him out. After that, they need to take a hard look at a way to move forward without going into more debt. Let go of ROTR. Focus on smaller, more local events. It was fun while it lasted, but things are changing. Lease the Mateel out to other promoters. Pick one festival and make it successful. The abundance of cash Humboldt County has been used to will start drying up real soon.

  • If you want it and you buy it, you gotta pay for it.
    I learned that when I was 5 years old.
    It may seem unfair at the age of 5, but I found out that’s how the real world works.
    In a perfect world, everything would be free. We’re not there yet. Not even close.

  • A Loan WTF who would lend you anything ? Not a real bank . Not a credit union so who might this loan come from ?

  • I’m not eager to throw more money at the Mateel, but I understand Garth’s story. He thought he was signing a last-minute trailer contract on the hood of his truck, he didn’t read the thing, and now he personally is screwed. It’s much easier for me to help the Mateel by paying back Garth, so I have. I’d go blind and postal if I read every word of every contract I click or sign. I don’t think David v Goliath is so far off. The $30k plus $10k more just because is a couple days’ pay to the Sysco CEO, and ruinous to Garth. The corporation could write off the debt for less trouble than screwing it out of a collateral victim. But they do have a right to collect it, and Garth has a right to ask for help. I’m in.

  • As many people here want to call Sysco the evil “corporation”, let me remind you, the MCC is also a “corporation”, that hide behind the same corporate veil as Sysco! And, how come the MCC did not disclose this agreement between Garth and Sysco for the benefit of the MCC? Was Garth on the MCC Board when he sighed? This information was not disclosed on the MCC 2014 RRF-1 financial statement and where is this agreement in the 2014 State Audit? This agreement needs to be made public; not years after the fact…

  • Mateel is a wasteful org
    All about money.
    Cancel couple of those overpriced shows and pay the bill.
    It’s 40k. Not a big deal.

  • Family in the book keeping dept ?

  • Just got to love reading RHBB What an environment the utopian Dope smoking Commies have Created on the north coast, while looking down your collective noses on everyone, what a shithole you have created. Then go to the old play book, it’s the evil corporations fault. Keep burning it will only get better!

  • Wow, this is a deep. Garth is a good person and community should try to help him if they can. That is my positive push!

    Here is the vacuum pull.
    The Mateel is in a very murky slope and they need to act faster then they have in the last 3 years.
    There is the fact 40K is just the tip of the iceberg. As stated already in other posts, there is 500k of debt and it is not going to go away. The Board needs to find some help that has a background with helping non-profits in trouble. It appears that the current board does not have the needed skill sets to take action before the house of cards fails.

    There also is another knife that could make a cut in the future. Now that pot is legal, it is going have an impact by the price by going down, so there will be less community founds. There is also a changing of the guard from the old-timers of the area. Many have moved to the city and new people are coming with different views. What was the norms 20 years ago are not the same now.

    Then there are the new laws that might be enforced. Maybe not completely new, but being enforced now. Like underage smoking and smoking in public places as in the patio area of the Mateel. Remember how the Grotto bar (of many reincarnated names) was brought down the this last time? There is a greater chance law enforcement is gearing up to crack down. If this happens at a Mateel event, the whole allure of why the 15 to 20 year olds make a trek to a concert and events in Sohum may drop. Making worst, there will be less recourses for the Mateel to use that can bail them out should they get cited. Times are changing and will the Mateel needs to plan to change too.

    So my recommendations that might be already happening:

    1. Seek out help of a pro’bono professional consultant with a background in reorganization. is a good start or for some help finding a resource. If all else fails, use google and work it for a few days, not a few seconds.

    2. Make a plan(s). Start with a 3 person committee and develop 3 direction the Mateel could go listing the pros and cons of each. This should include going under, filling bankruptcy, and building a business from today as the starting point. One important thing is to include are basic numbers and figurers with low balls on any “pie in the sky” thoughts like “the next Reggae” will be better. It should be “the trend is” the next reggae will bring in less then last year and a trending base line is…. In other words, be realistic. Present the outlines to the board for consideration asap.

    3. This one is a little late, but do more board training. If you are going to make it work, then invest the time for some training sessions from ro’bono professional consultants. 501C3 are not new, nor is the need to learn. Even if you do not get someone to lead the training, you will find other free training sessions on-line with past works of others. Again, seek it out.

    4. If the 3 items above seem too much for you, then maybe you should reconsider if you got what it takes to be a board member. Not everyone has the skills and some have some skills, but do not put them to work. A good board should have diversity that brings in different skill sets. The key is your not just a body to fill a quorum. You should have a drive to do the job. Even better, you should want to build a business.

    I which Garth and the rest of the board my best.
    Good luck!

    • This is a very constructive and cogent post! Thank you.

      • Seems like time to SELL the building, pay all the debts. Start fresh & clean. Move operations to an outfitted corner of the barn at Community Park! Go back to the old Pot Luck days when we didn’t have lotsa money…we had lots of time to picnic at the river and enjoy our beautiful trees, rivers &and mountains. That would be a step forward, not backward. Think about that. Our local musicians are greatly skilled and all of us like to dance to fun music. It doesn’t hafta be a high ticket band anymore. Live within your changing means and be peaceful&simple.

  • Nobrainnoheadache

    Not rocket science…. simple accounting figure it the $&@#! out! And I hope no one steps in to “bail” them out. Then next time it won’t happen…😃

  • This place is great!

    We teach the children well.

    -Business are the man because they want to be paid for their services

    -but wait, WE didn’t sell enough tickets to cover our bills.

    – I can’t belive this rich company won’t give us a break.

    -let’s donate so we can watch them do it again!!!

    -oh yeah, didn’t our coach just quit on his kids because he didn’t feel he was getting his way?

    Lessons learned,
    If you try and Fail, blame others.

  • I did an informal feasibility report for ROTR/RR about 10 years ago. It was quiet lengthy and quiet clear.

    Running a festival on any level where you gift tickets, camping and food to your volunteer staff is not effective. That is hundreds of staff, hundreds of thousands of dollars all lost before the event even starts.

    Staff kitchen at these events almost runs 24° a day. A camping pass is sold for $100+ the amount of these given away would cover the SYSCO debt BAM!

    Used to be the community was proud, folks “volunteered” but as time danced forward the staff levels rose, ticket sales ran stable, the cost to support the staff surpassed the events earning capacity.

    Not to mention T shirt/merchant sales that used to make a good profit imploded due to poor quality. The staff jackets and shirts on the other hand were lux, thick, differently colored and expensive to produce.

    Lots of meetings where about 75+ folks attend to really make the decisions and if someone wants their agenda bad enough it will happen.

    Oversight comitee needed to approve all events and manage, tight budget, solid timeframes, no freebies HEY the wheels just might not fall off. ❤💚💛

  • This is my problem with the Sysco bill: When the Mateel was deciding to end the Mateel Meal there was direct criticism of Babette for ‘compulsively’ hoarding food. She personally told me that an enormous amount of food was left over from Raggae and that she was desperately trying to store and then use as much left over food as possible. I can sympathize with that. I hate to see food wasted too. If all of this excess food was from Sysco, then the Mateel owes Babette a sincere apology. As stated before my $1,000 contribution to Mateel is contingent upon efforts to reestablish the Meal, an important component of the food safety net.

  • Anonymously maybe if spending other non profit $$

    Wait a minute. “Community Hospice” and “KMUD FAMILY” have both contributed generously to this effort?

    The communith contributes to kmud to support community radio and to hospice to further their work with the dying , not so that kmud or hospice can then supplement efforts to pay the debts of the MCC.

    Not gonna lie rubs me the wrong way.

  • Something I don’t understand; if the Mateel and Garth are asking the community and the general public to donate and give them money so they can provide services, programs and continue their mission as a public benefit, charitable and tax exempt non-profit membership organization in Southern Humboldt; then why did the State Attorney General’s office send the Mateel Board this letter, e.g. “Intent to Suspend Notice” on February 2nd 2018?

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