Robert Earl Burton founded The Fellowship of Friends in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1970.

Burton modeled his own group after that of Alex Horn, loosely borrowing from the Fourth Way teachings of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky. In recent years, the Fellowship has cast its net more broadly, embracing any spiritual tradition that includes (or can be interpreted to include) the notion of "presence."

The Fellowship of Friends exhibits the hallmarks of a "doomsday religious cult," wherein Burton exercises absolute authority, and demands loyalty and obedience. He warns that his is the only path to consciousness and eternal life. Invoking his gift of prophecy, he has over the years prepared his flock for great calamities (e.g. a depression in 1984, the fall of California in 1998, nuclear holocaust in 2006, and an ominous, yet unspecified new threat late in 2018.) While non-believers shall perish, through the direct intervention and guidance from 44 angels (including his divine father, Leonardo da Vinci) Burton and his followers will be spared, founding a new, and more perfect civilization.

Many regard Robert Earl Burton a narcissist and sociopath, surrounded by a largely greed- and power-driven inner circle. The following pages offer abundant evidence supporting that conclusion.

This archive draws
on official Fellowship publications and websites,
news archives, court documents, cult education and awareness forums, the (former) Fellowship Wikipedia page, the long-running Fellowship of Friends - Living Presence Discussion, the Internet Archive, the (former) Fellowship of Friends wiki project, and the editor's own 13-year experience in the Fellowship.

Presented in a reverse chronology, the Fellowship's history may be navigated via the "Blog Archive" located in the sidebar below.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Robert Burton's political hitman

Nick Spaulding, Fellowship of Friends political hitman
Nick Spaulding
[ed. - Nick Spaulding is the Fellowship of Friends' paid (in cash or in kind) political assassin, whose task it is to attack any opponent in local government who stands in the way of the Fellowship's (and Tom Richards' - see below) development plans. Fellowship members pride themselves on their "non-expression of negative emotions" yet, when it comes to getting what the Fellowship wants, Spaulding follows Robert Burton's directive once given Abraham Goldman, the cult's former lawyer: "Go for the jugular." Spaulding's list of political targets is long, and he has recently focused on Hal Stocker, Mary Jane Griego, John Nicoletti, Wendy Hartman, Jenny Cavaliere, Angil Morris-Jones, and Kevin Mallen.]

From the eTerritorial Dispatch, May 9, 2016:

Just what is this "clustering" business that Nick Spaulding, Tom Richards, and Randy Fletcher are trying to ram-rod through on us in the foothills?

In short, they want the county to change the land-use ordinance, to be able to put in a lot more houses, mainly big subdivisions, back in the boonies, off the main roads, which would increase the population dramatically

And this new night-mare would include a huge swath of land from south of Collins Lake to the northern borders of Yuba County.

All this would greatly worsen a very precarious fire situation as well as make worse our lack of water, bad roads and bad traffic, and crime. The area would be less rural and less beautiful!

Nick Spaulding claims to know it all on the clustering subject, but he has little regard for the facts. He is one big snow job ! But what is he getting out of it? He has been a stalwart member of the Fellowship of Friends for 25 years or more . But the President of the Fellowship , Mr. Greg Holman, claims "Spaulding is not on our payroll".

Again, what is Mr. Spaulding getting out of this long-term and heart-rending crusade??? He, himself, owns no land in Yuba County and seems to be in no position to buy subdivision land and/or be a developer.

On the other hand, the Fellowship owns 700 acres on Dixon Hill Road, which could, with a little work, qualify as a "cluster" project. Mr. Holman has stated in public the Fellowship has no plans for such a project. This not surprising, since there is no enabling ordinance as yet. But the Fellowship probably could imagine selling off the 700 acres at a greatly increased cost...if the Spaulding crusade pans out.

Come and learn more and have your say, at another Town Hall meeting at the Ponderosa Community Hall on Ponderosa Road in Brownsville,. on Wednesday, May 11, at 6:30.PM

Hal Stocker

Challenge, Ca.

From eTerritorial Dispatch, September 12, 2016:
“Heads Up” Yuba Supervisors-Elect

12 September 2016

Heads Up Yuba Supervisors-Elect Doug Lofton and Mike Leahy. You blew past Griego and Nicoletti by massive 15% and 19% margins, with Stocker crushed by Randy Fletcher’s 19% margin just 18 months earlier. And planning veteran, Wendy Hartman?

However, Stocker, Griego, and Nicoletti also politicized the staff infrastructure. Please remodel and replace it with transparent public servants. Neither County Counsel nor Planning, deserve any benefit of the doubt. Why?

Stocker, even in defeat, continues (with staff?) to push his political vendettas. Consider his recent printed praise supporting CDSA & Planning Director, Kevin Mallen: Mallen is a “long-term very dedicated, talented and resourceful leader, whom the county is lucky to have.”

Meanwhile, Mallen’s credibility was cut to shreds when Stocker’s own big-gun San Francisco lawyers, unleashed a 20 page legal opinion (warning?) letter calling Mallen’s Development Code Recommendations to the Planning Commission “flatly inconsistent with the General Plan policies” and failing “to comply with State Planning and Zoning Law .”

Stocker’s lawyers further disqualified Mallen and Staff by saying their recommendation “violates the California Environmental Quality Act, and the CEQA Guidelines and Regulations Code. . . rendering it insufficient as an environmental review document.”

Next, Morris-Jones’ Deputy John Vacek, is sent before the Planning Commission, persuaded(?) by Stocker’s lawyers, and advises Planning Commissioners he is summarily removing Mallen’s Recommendation from the agenda due to these issues of inadequacy. Morris-Jones gave no defense of Mallen or Staff, nor could Vacek even support his own action saying, “I really don’t want to make admissions on the record that may be held against us later...” Mallen offered no defense either.

Un-electeds Morris-Jones and Mallen pull down around $213,000 each, and Vacek $172,000! How does a poorly informed, 20-page scare letter from San Francisco stop $598,000 in salaried Yuba staff in their tracks? Answer: Stocker chose the same law firm that beat Morris-Jones, her staff, and the County on the Magnolia Ranch issue. However, it appears Stocker cherry-picked which “facts” he used to brief them by not mentioning that Staff was putting back ordinance wording that Staff had removed without due process.

Truthfully? Staff’s report is correct and their Development Code recommendations are in compliance with the General Plan, CEQA, and the EIR. It is Stocker, his lawyers, and Morris-Jones’ Office of County Counsel who cannot (or refuse to?) read the General Plan and are wrong.

Morris-Jones’ actions with Stocker, Griego, and others suggest favoritism, potentially unethical and possibly criminal misconduct.

The Grand Jury voted “no confidence” in her management of Yuba’s $864,801 legal talent pool.

Mallen and Hartman’s actions in 2011, 2012, 2015 and now, deserve review regarding the public trust. More heads could roll.

"An abuse of discretion is established only if the [governing body] has not proceeded in a manner required by law, its decision is not supported by findings, or the findings are not supported by substantial evidence." (Sequoyah Hills Homeowners Assn. v. City of Oakland (1993) 23 Cal.App.4th 704, 717, 29 Cal.Rptr.2d 182.)

Stocker/Griego’s deceptive Measure T in 2012 was radical liberalism pretending to protect farm lands while stripping farmers of their property rights long protected by previous General Plans and Ordinance Codes.

Morris-Jones “helped” Stocker craft Measure T, according to Stocker’s own public statements. This crafting work seems clearly illegal. Staff time can only be directed by the Board as a whole, and they had already refused to codify “T” in its Resolution form.

But what about radical Measure T’s CEQA and EIR adequacy, and General Plan compliance? Did Supervisors require an impact study back then in 2012, as allowed by law and demanded by opponents?

Answer: Unbelievably, Morris-Jones, told Supervisors at a July 17, 2012 meeting, “I did inquire of the Planning Department. . .and the impact study is pretty much the EIR. And Planning is of the opinion, and that’s Kevin Mallen and Wendy Hartman, that that study has already been completed as part of the [2030 General Plan] Environmental Impact Report (EIR)...

If you do want that study, and I’m not advising you one way or another. . .because it has already been done.” (Referring to the 2030 Gen. Plan EIR)

So, Morris-Jones had no problem giving Stocker/Griego’s “T” her legal OK. “T” was a departure from the General Plan so radical that it qualified as a controversial “amendment.” She stated no new EIR would be needed, no CEQA review, and she saw no problem with General Plan consistency either. To Morris-Jones in 2012, all of this seemed self-evident.

But in 2016, Morris-Jones’ office seems paralyzed, and unable to OK staff’s list of revisions to the Development Code that is not at amendment levels, but is actually, a correction that brings policy oversights and exclusions from the Code into compliance with General Plan Directive Action NR3.1, and therefore does NOT require additional CEQA or EIR reviews.

Smoking Gun: In 2011, staff, under Board questioning, admitted changes were made without Board approval, creating zoning consistency charts that specifically ignored Directive NR3.1, and incorrectly removed existing ordinance codes protecting grazing land rights.

Isn’t orchestrated subversion of due process abusive, unethical? Even illegal?

“An abuse of discretion is established only if the [governing body] has not proceeded in a manner required by law, its decision is not supported by findings, or the findings are not supported by substantial evidence."

And. . . Rule 3-110 Failing to Act Competently:

(A) A member shall not intentionally, recklessly, or repeatedly fail to perform legal services with competence.

Nick Spaulding

Oregon House

From Territorial Dispatch, September 16, 2016:
Stocker Not Happy with Spaulding

06 September 2016

Spaulding's last letter to the Territorial Dispatch , (8/10/16) , was typical:..a mish-mash of pseudo-legal verbiage designed to snow the reader into believing he, Spaulding, is some sort of supreme authority on most anything, deserving of awe and admiration.

On the contrary, I submit he is just your common con-man , who is working for The Fellowship of Friends (FOF), where he has been a devoted member for some 25 years.

Spaulding's efforts, for the last few years, have been to get Yuba County to loosen zoning in Oregon House, allowing smaller parcels, near the Fellowship center, to make some 700 acres of Fellowship land more valuable for a subdivision. (The land in question has been outside the Community Boundary for many years and thus" sacred, " to most local residents as open be kept "natural." Also, these lands have been protected many years by the Yuba County General Plan, according to the wishes of the public)

Remember, a couple of years ago, Tom Richards, of lower Oregon House, carried on a crusade to get his 6,000 acre ranch re-zoned from 20 and 40-acre parcels to 5-acre parcels (and smaller), for development. This was No Good with the county, of course. There-upon, he set about to get anybody with the county fired if he/she opposed his plans. (Remember the signs on Hi-way 20 , inscribed "FIRE WENDY HARTMAN. Wendy was the Planning Director..and, in time, she was fired.

What do you know? Spaulding and Richards play the same game: If county employees get in their way, get 'em fired.

Spaulding is brazen, as usual. He now writes about firing two Yuba County department heads (Territorial Dispatch, Aug. 10, '16): Angil Morse-Jones, County Counsel, and Kevin Mallen, Director of Community Development. They get in his way!

In his usual murky manner, Spaulding writes that County Counsel is in trouble with the Grand Jury, which is so much malarkey. I researched the last two years of Grand Jury records and found nothing, only that Deputy Counsel turned up at a meeting when he didn't have to. For that, Spaulding would have County Counsel fired!?

And if Mallen is fired, as Spaulding wishes, Yuba County would lose a long-term very dedicated, talented and resourceful leader, whom the county is lucky to have.

When the library needed updating, Mallen was picked to do it ,although it was not down his alley, and he did a bang-up job.

It was Mallen who recognized the potential of Sycamore Ranch, some 6 years ago, when it became available, and he recommended the county buy it. Through grants, Mallen and his helpers have put in improvements making the park very attractive to visitors and a real jewel among Yuba County's beauties.

So, the next time Spaulding favors us with one of his pronouncements , just consider the source and have another beer.

Hal Stocker,

Challenge, Ca.

From eTerritorial Dispatch, October 3, 2016:
Water is the New Gold

03 October 2016

Water is the new gold in California and after attending the North Yuba Water District’s (NYWD) monthly meetings for about a year now, I realize that there is a power grab going on for our irrigation water.

The general manager, Jeff Maupin, and three of the five directors - Dale Skinner, John Jacobson, and Don Forguson - who are his minions (to borrow a word from Buck Weckman) have, in my opinion, wanted to get rid of irrigation customers for years even though this special district was formed in 1952 as an irrigation district first with domestic water customers and power generation added later. Mr. Maupin and his support team decided that an 8 million dollar pipeline was needed and irrigation customers’ rates were to increase by 600%. I assume they thought that would get rid of us – because they had other plans for our water. They were shocked that we – both irrigation and domestic customers - fought the rate hike and won even though they put-up blocks to make this feat as difficult as possible for us.

It appears that they let the ditch go into disrepair on purpose and even though there is enough water this year for us to have had a full season of irrigation water – they couldn’t and wouldn’t deliver it to us and water was shut-off in July.

At the June meeting my husband gave a presentation of a product – concrete canvas – that is used all over the world for lining ditches and canals. It can be laid down without turning the water off and could have fixed the worse leaks. At that meeting Directors Jenny Cavaliere and Loren Olsen asked Jeff Maupin to hike along the ditch with them and show them the locations of the worst leaks and he agreed. The representative for this product agreed to also come. Although Jeff Maupin agreed to do the tour at the meeting, he refused to follow through. It’s obvious to me – irrigation water running in our canals is not in his future plans.

If you’ve been to a meeting it’s obvious that siding with Jeff Maupin and his three directors are some members of the Fellowship of Friends (FoF) who I believe would like to change zoning laws and develop “cluster housing” in the area. This type of development would need WATER. They supported the $8,000,000 pipeline and did not support us in our effort to fight the fee hike.

Also on the same side is Supervisor Randy Fletcher who is supported by FoF and who had been spotted having lunch with Dale Skinner at a local café down the road from the District office. When Mr. Skinner was questioned about this private meeting, he replied that it was a free world and he could have lunch with anyone he wanted.

Director Jenny Cavaliere - supported by Loren Olsen – is the only director that asks questions at the monthly meetings and wants accountability for their irresponsible spending. If it wasn’t for Jenny’s questions we – the public – would have no knowledge of what is going on. In my view this is DECEIT.

Under the Brown Act the five directors – TOGETHER – are to discuss issues and give direction to the general manager. This is absolutely NOT what is happening. They are so very disrespectful to her and to scare her into keeping quiet they decided to spend another $22,000 of taxpayers’ money to hire an investigator to research 4 allegations they came-up with against her. The special meeting in August to report the results of the investigation was a joke. It really showed me the extent of the desire of Director Don Forguson to harass Jenny. He repeatedly asked the lawyer, who was reporting the investigator’s results, how the board could censor Jenny on one of the allegations that was already revealed as untrue. Finally the lawyer told him, “It was an unfounded allegation so I wouldn’t recommend any action on an unfounded allegation.”

I write about all these points to give the public a glimpse of how unethical these meetings are. They do whatever they want with complete disregard for transparency and honesty. This is why the November elections are so important to us. Three of the five directors’ seats are up for election. We need to win all three seats to have any say in what happens.

If you have a dog in this fight – then you know how you will vote. If you don’t and you can sympathize with us – then we’re asking for your help if you are either in District 1, 2, or 3.

We need : Alton Wright to win in District 1,

Terry Brown to win in District 2,

and Jenny Cavaliere to win in District 3

Margaret Kangas

Oregon House, Ca.

[ed. - Spaulding and the Fellowship have long pursued an expansion of the Oregon House community boundary so that landowners with property outside the current boundary may subdivide that land into 5-acre parcels rather than the current 20-acre minimum. A major force behind this effort is Tom Richards. The Fellowship and Richards have allied politically to affect this change.

From the Appeal-Democrat, May 28, 2009:

Developing a balance in foothills

By Ben van der Meer/Appeal-Democrat

Developing a balance in foothills
Tom Richards gives a tour of his 6,300-acre property near Oregon House
on Wednesday. Photo: David Bitton/Appeal-Democrat

Richards envisions developing part of his land by adding about 140 new homes, a community center and an assisted living center.

Thirty miles east of Marysville, rancher Tom Richards looks over his 6,300-acre property near Oregon House and envisions future development.

But hold on, Sierra Club acolytes and defenders of endangered foothill fauna. Richards, 65, doesn't think thousands or even hundreds of homes are a good fit for the area, and they're not what he wants either.

"If you develop this the wrong way, you're going to ruin it," he said. "The infrastructure would cost too much."

Instead, Richards, who's part of a group that itself the Oregon House Planning Committee, is hoping to have some say — and sway — over Yuba County's ongoing General Plan update.

Specifically, Richards said, he'd like to see the community boundary for Oregon House expanded to include much of his property. But fire protection, not development opportunity, is the primary motivation for that, he said.

An expanded boundary would ease the way for a single landowner, such as himself, to work directly with Cal Fire and other local, state and federal agencies on creating firebreaks and easements within the hilly area north of the Yuba River.

That would also allow new residential development, because homes can be built on 5-acre lots within a boundary, but only 10-to 20-acre lots outside of one.
Richards, though, said he doesn't foresee more than 140 new homes, and possibly half that, in the next 20 years in Oregon House, even with expanded boundaries. Market conditions and pressure from residents already there, he said, would limit what's built.

Other committee members include Rod Hiskins, the owner of a large equestrian training center near Richards' ranch, and Jenny Brown, a North Yuba Water District board member.

Richards said the group envisions making Oregon House a destination for tourism between the equestrian center, a new trail system along the Yuba River, and increased public access to Renaissance Vineyard and Winery, which is operated by the controversial Fellowship of Friends group.

"These people have a lot invested up here," Richards said, as he led visitors on a tour of a few homes already built on his property and about a dozen more, most of them 2,500 square feet or more, built nearby. "They want that property to be nice."

But the suggestions from the Oregon House Planning Committee have gotten a cool response from those involved with the county's General Plan update, which will be finalized later this year.

Kevin Malen, Yuba County's community development director, said the Yuba Fire Safety Council wrote in a draft letter it doesn't recommend an expanded community boundary in Oregon House for fire safety reasons.

And both Malen and Supervisor Hal Stocker, whose district includes Oregon House, said allowing for more homes in the foothills runs counter to what the state wants to see in a General Plan.

"The push is getting people close to where they work, and that's a real challenge in the foothills," Malen said.

Under AB 32, SB 375 and standing policy from such agencies as Caltrans and the Sacramento Council of Governments, Stocker said, a plan update that suggests more homes could be built in Oregon House, even if they won't be, is likely to draw a challenge.

"I don't think you'd get away with the vehicle miles traveled by residents from that far," he said.

The way around that, Richards countered, is to make Oregon House's future development self-sustaining.

In addition to increased tourism and recreation, he said, there could be senior housing, all of which would need workers.

That's an approach with more promise, said Malen, because it means using what's already in Oregon House in a smarter way.

Stocker said he was less convinced.

"That's what all developers say," he said of plans to make a community self-sustaining. "But they make the money on the houses."

Richards, who lost a race for supervisor against Stocker seven years ago, said he would not be surprised if Stocker opposed his suggestion.

He's more concerned, he said, the General Plan update include input from people who live and own land in the places it will govern.

"We think we're working on the right thing here," he said, "but sometimes it's hard to convince people that it's the right thing."

Contact Appeal-Democrat reporter Ben van der Meer at 749-4709 or

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