- Cold Weather
- Fort Bragg Rallies
- Police State-thinking
- MEC Haze
- Geysers Road Collision
- Catch of the Day
- Role Models
- Know Your Rights
- Public Opinion
- Corporate Blackmail
- Missing People
- Bypass Protesters
- HumCo 2015
HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK for Northwest California
Colder air will begin to sweep across the area tonight. By late tonight temperatures will drop well into the 20s across inland areas and to near freezing in coastal locations.
Easterly winds will become very gusty across the mountains Tuesday through Wednesday with the strongest winds occurring Tuesday night. Wind gusts exceeding 50 mph may be possible which could result in downed trees and power outages. Winds may gust up to 30 mph on the valley floors with higher gusts possible in valleys parallel to the wind.
The coldest air of the season will impact northwest California Monday through Thursday nights with lows in the teens and 20s across the interior and near freezing at the coast. The coldest temperatures are expected to be Thursday morning.
--National Weather Service (4am, Dec 29, 2014)
THE FORT BRAGG I CAN'T BREATHE controversy is shaping up as FB's biggest media circus ever, much bigger than the Bassler affair. Prediction: When the tourney starts Tuesday, we'll see media trucks, national tv, some furriner correspondents — the full media-frenzy monte — parked outside the Fort Bragg gym. Wear your Sunday best, Fort Bragg, you're going big time! If you're more or less presentable, you might get a reality show out of it.
MENDOCINO COAST CHRISTMAS CONTROVERSY CONTINUES — MSP JUST RECEIVED INFO ON RALLY IN FORT BRAGG, 10:15 AM
This just came over the transom @ 5:03 pm Sunday Night:
“Members of the Mendocino Girls Basketball team and their allies are calling for a rally at Fort Bragg High School this Monday morning, December 29 at 10:15 AM. Their invitation to the tournament was withdrawn because in other games they had worn t-shirts reading ‘I Can’t Breathe.’ They are distressed that their right to free speech is being stifled, and they are calling on members of the community to show support in a rally coinciding with the beginning of the tournament.
Jin Jackson, Co-Captain of the team, commented, ‘We believe that we have the right to peacefully show our support for the important issues of racial profiling and police brutality, and that we shouldn’t be denied participation in the basketball tournament simply because we are speaking our minds. Even in a small community like ours where, thankfully, these problems are rare, I believe we should do our part to raise awareness of these issues and try to help find solutions to the problems.’
Students on the team have been looking forward to the tournament all year, but when they were told that wearing these warm-up t-shirts would not be allowed because it might lead to violence, they refused to be censored.
Said Naomi Baker, ‘This was a silent protest. In no way whatsoever were we trying to provoke violence. Many schools as well as professional athletic organizations have brought about awareness by wearing these shirts. We were simply expressing our opinions.’
The teams purchased the shirts on their own, with money donated by a community member who supported their decision, without input from coaches or parents. As Co-Captain Kiera Poehlmann said, ‘I am confident in my teammates and trusted we were all educated enough to form our own opinions about this highly discussed topic. I had engaged in conversations about the Garner incident with teammates both in classes, and on our own time. I was proud to be on a team that wanted to make a stand for what we believe in, and I am even prouder to be on a team that is fighting for what we know to be right, even when basketball got unjustly taken away from us.’
While they are surprised by the national spotlight that has been trained on their small communities, the teammates are proud to be contributing to an important conversation.
They also emphasize that their protest is about racism and police brutality, not opposition to police as a whole. As their open letter said, ‘We appreciate police officers and their difficult and sometimes dangerous job, but at the same time we condemn police brutality that does exist in our country and feel even small communities like ours should promote awareness of such crucial matters.’
The tournament organizers told the Mendocino teams that they were disinvited from the tourney because they had previously worn ‘I Can't Breathe’ t-shirts during their warm-up. The organizers later explained, ‘We simply do not have the resources to protect those involved should the situation become aggressive or physical.’
A group from the girls and boys teams sent an open letter explaining the motive behind their jerseys: ‘We, the players, wanted to express our support for the people who face prejudices, racism, and police brutality daily in our country and convey our concern about these injustices to the public.”
(MSP NOTE: Another individual, a Fort Bragg High alumnus 2008, has called for a rally at 5:00pm Monday at Fort Bragg High School. Jasper N Henderson wrote: “Meet on the front steps of Fort Bragg High School, 300 Dana Street at 5PM Monday and, and we'll march to the tournament entrance. Bring t-shirts, signs, banners, and candles.”
AS OF SUNDAY MORNING, not a word about the controversy on the Fort Bragg Advocate's website, but comprehensive front pager by Bill Swindell of the Press Democrat Sunday.
DEPT. OF SODDEN THOUGHTS: Those New York cops who turn their backs on the mayor ought to be warned that if they persist they'll be fired. They seem to think they're an end in themselves, a special category of citizen. Back turning on civil authority by policemen working in a democratic context is definitely police state-thinking.
KAREN RIFKIN'S hazy story on the Mendocino Environment Center in a Ukiah Daily Journal of last week has her history wrong, and if there's a better place than Mendocino County to get history wrong, I haven't heard of it. Wrong history about the MEC and Redwood Summer is a kind of specialty of local history re-writers.
THE MEC WAS FOUNDED in 1987 by five people: John McCowen (who owns the building housing the MEC); Lang Russell, a uniquely catatonic fellow who never seemed to me quite all there; Patricia Lawrence who, I believe, still lives on the Mendocino Coast; and Gary and Betty Ball who bounced in with Earth First's Judi Bari and bounced out when Bari died in 1997.
THE MEC was not founded "in 1999 by 9 individuals" as Rifkin has it and the "height of Redwood Summer" was not 1996 as Rifkin also has it but 1990.
IF THE TRUE history of the Mendocino Environment Center is ever written it'll be a "blast," so to speak, but it is unlikely to be told because, well, if you would like to catch up on the true history of the Redwood Summer period you can find it at
ON DECEMBER 27, 2014 at approximately 8:55am Ukiah California Highway Patrol responded to a vehicle collision on southbound US Highway 101 North of Geysers Road. Driver #1 Xiam Zuo, age 30, of Kirkland, Washington, driving a 2004 Honda was traveling northbound in the #1 lane and swerved for an object ahead. Zuo lost control of his vehicle and crossed over the center median and into the southbound lanes, directly into the path of vehicle #2 driven by Donald Shields, 74, of Nice, in a 1998 Buick. The two vehicles collided, resulting in fatal injury to Mr. Shields’ passenger, Wanda Shields, 67, of Nice. The driver of the Buick, Mr. Shields, sustained major injuries and was transported by air support to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital to be treated for his injuries. The right front passenger of the Honda, Jiapeng Lu, 33, of Kirkland, Washington, suffered major injuries and was transported by ambulance to Ukiah Valley Medical Center. The Lu's child, Cavan Lu, seven months, did not sustain any injuries. The collision is still under investigation. Seatbelts were believed to be in use at the time of this collision. It does not appear that alcohol was a contributing factor in this collision.
— CHP Press Release
(Geysers Road is near where the Russian River crosses beneath Highway 101 between Cloverdale and Hopland, near the Sonoma-Mendocino County line.)
CATCH OF THE DAY, Dec 28, 2014
LUIS CARDENAS, Woodland/Laytonville. Drunk in public.
MICHAEL DONAHE, Ukiah. Drunk in public. (Frequent flyer.)
SERGIO LUNA-GONZALEZ, Ukiah. (No offense specified.)
MASON MCGEE, Ukiah. Drunk in public. (Frequent flyer.)
SHALER MUNNERLYN, Fort Bragg. Domestic battery.
JOSE PEREDIA, Calpella. False ID, ex-felon with firearm, short-barreled rifle/shotgun, fugitive from justice, resisting arrest, probation revocation.
JULIAN RAMIREZ, Ukiah. Driving without a license.
TAMMY RAMOS, Redwood Valley. Probation revocation.
WAYNE SCOTT, Barrington, New Hampshire/Hopland. DUI.
JUSTIN THORNHILL, Ukiah. Driving without a license, failure to appear.
FEDERICO TRUJILLO, Clearlake Oaks/Ukiah. Attempt to commit (unspecified) crimes, probation revocation.
SCOTTY WILLIS, Ukiah. Illegal camping, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)
JONATHAN YOUNG, Willits. False ID, resisting arrest, probation revocation.
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
This is a public service announcement
Know your rights all three of them
You have the right not to be killed
Murder is a crime
Unless it was done
By a policeman or aristocrat
Know your rights
And Number Two
You have the right to food money
Providing of course you don't mind a little
And if you cross your fingers
Know your rights
These are your rights
Know these rights
You have the right to free speech
As long as you're not
Dumb enough to actually try it
Know your rights
These are your rights
All three of 'em
And it has been suggested in some quarters
That this is not enough!
Get off the streets
Get off the streets
You don't have a home to go to
Finally then I will read you your rights
You have the right to remain silent
You are warned that anything you say
Can and will be taken down
And used as evidence against you
Listen to this
— Joe Strummer, Mick Jones
REACTIONS TO PEARL HARBOR
The tipping point for public opinion came on January 24, 1942, when the Roberts Commission, which had been appointed by FDR to investigate the Pearl Harbor attack, reported that Nagumo's strike force had been aided by Hawaii-based espionage agents, including American citizens of Japanese ancestry. The commission provided no evidence to substantiate the charge, but the remark was sufficient to unleash a torrent of anti-Japanese reaction. The Los Angeles Times which as recently as January 23 had advised moderation, called on January 28 for the relocation of all Japanese living in the State whether they were citizens or not. Politicians jumped on the bandwagon. By the end of January the entire California congressional delegation, as well as Democratic governor Culbert L. Olsen and Republican attorney general Earl Warren, was clamoring for removal of the Japanese.
In his autobiography Warren confessed he had been wrong. "I have since deeply regretted the removal order and my own testimony advocating it. Whenever I thought of the innocent little children who were torn from home, school friends, and congenial surroundings I was conscience-stricken. It was wrong to act so impulsively . . . even though we had a good motive."
The Roberts Commission was created by Executive Order on December 18, 1941. It was composed of Supreme Court justice Owen Roberts as chairman, plus two retired admirals, Joseph M. Reeves and William H. Standley (a former CNO), and two generals, Frank R. McCoy (ret.) and Joseph T. McNarney. The commission took testimony from 127 witnesses, including Admiral Kimmel and General Short. It reported to FDR on January 23, 1942, and the entire report was made public the next day. The principal finding was that Kimmel and Short were guilty of dereliction of duty.
The judgment of the Joint Congressional Committee on the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack is scathing with respect to Admiral Kimmel and General Short. After months of hearings and detailed field investigations, the committee concluded:
"The commanders in Hawaii were clearly and unmistakably warned of war with Japan. They were given orders and possessed information that the entire Pacific area was fraught with danger. They failed to carry out these orders and to discharge their basic and ultimate responsibilities. They failed to defend the fortress they commanded -- their citadel was taken by surprise. Aside from any responsibilities that may appear to rest in Washington, the ultimate and direct responsibility for failure to engage the Japanese on the morning of December 7 with every weapon at their disposal rests essentially and properly with the Army and Navy commands in Hawaii whose duty it was to meet the enemy against which they had been warned."
— Jean Edward Smith, FDR
HELLS ANGEL BOBBY MEETS THE MOB
(Big Lou) let go of Bobby's hand and stared him dead in the eye. "You Bobby, right?" "Yeah." "Good, good. Now listen here, Hells Angel Bobby, sit the fuck down." The goons stepped forward menacingly. Bobby was so shocked he promptly sat. He must've been battling some strong urges to pound the old guy into the carpet--no one talks to a Hells Angel like that and gets away with it. Lou stabbed a thick index finger at the air in front of Bobby and said, "Now listen good, Bobby, 'cause I only say things once. I don't give a midnight fuck about the Hells Angels. I care about you about as much as I care about fucking pussycats. You do what you do, I do what I do. Thing is, my gang is bigger than yours, badder than yours, and meaner than yours. And sure as shit, my gang is smarter than yours, 'cause we don't walk around town with no fucking logo on our back that says 'Wiseguy,' You, I can see you coming a mile down the street. Me, you don't know if I'm standing next to you at Mickey D's. You capeesh?" He pointed at me. "Anything happens to this guy here while he's doing this Hells Angel thing, you answer to me. He makes money for me. He carries money for me. I trust him to take more money across the country than you'll see in ten years. He wants to ride bikes, do this motorcycle club bullshit thing, that's his thing. But if that shit overlaps with my life, fucks me outta so much as a quarter--if he gets hurt or can't come to work for me when I call, well....the Hells Angels are gonna be disappointed, I'll tell you what. I'll start burning down houses with doors locked from the outside. Or maybe I go easy on your guys and one day they find you lying on the floor, all blue and gray, having had a little accident with a dry cleaning bag. I'm saying it to you, all right? Now, you're a smart man, Hells Angel Bobby."
Jay Dobyns, No Angel
THE PRICE WE PAY…
I recently experienced an interesting confrontation with the giant media monopoloy, Comcast. My PC was no longer connecting with the service. When support could not repair the problem remotely, it was suggested I should have a technical expert come by and check the problem. There was no suggestion I would be charged even though the problem was considered potentially a Comcast one. It was on my next bill.
When I checked at the Comcast service office in San Rafael I was told, unless I had purchased the prevention program at a cost of $399, I would be charged no matter if it was a problem with my PC or was a Comcast problem.
This is tantamount to corporate blackmail and illustrates the complete lack of concern for its customers. My location is an irreversible dead zone for satellite coverage, holding customers such as myself hostage to pure greed.
This message was also sent to the FCC.
Alfred Auger, Fairfax
MENDOCINO COUNTY, THE DARK SIDE.
Where have all the missing persons gone?
The following roster of missing persons has been compiled by Linda Williams of the Willits News. We have provided information on those cases we have specific knowledge of.
November 1999: Tony Joseph Griffani, 38, left a Ukiah residence to go to Gualala and was never seen again. His car was found in January 2000 near Willits. In 2003, a human skull was located near where the pickup was found. His disappearance is considered suspicious.
December 2003: Michael Ray Larsen, 49, of Fort Bragg, was reported missing. In July 2009, a skeleton was found on South Harbor Drive by people clearing brush on the hillside. The remains were identified as Larsen within a few weeks. There was no evidence of foul play.
May 2004: Chad Richard Kirkendall, 23, of Caspar, was reported missing following a crash.
December 2004: Kathryn Rebecca LaMadrid, 40, was last seen walking across the old Noyo River Bridge.
May 2005: Donald Cavanaugh, 63, of Illinois, was reported missing. His vehicle was subsequently found in Westport. James Denoyer remains the only suspect in his uncle’s disappearance. Denoyer is presently a resident of Lake County.
May 2006: David Neily was reported missing although he had not been heard from since April. Police located his vehicles in Westport in July 2006. Mr. Neily was a long time resident of Albion. His disappearance is also linked to Denoyer. Both Cavenaugh and Neily worked for Denoyer at his “ranch” near Westport. Both their vehicles were found on Denoyer’s property. Denoyer was tried on animal cruelty charges when ill-cared for horses were found on his Westport property. The animal cruelty prosecution was botched by Mendocino County and Denoyer was acquitted. Denoyer presently lives in Lake County.
November 2005: Thomas Thurston, 19, was last seen in Ukiah on November 5 when he left to go on a camping trip on north Cow Mountain.
March 2007: George Cameron Hettrick, 57, of Philo. Human remains was found in a ranch in Philo in January 2008 and his remains were identified in February 2008. Hettrick, suffering from dementia, wandered away from his care home at the Holmes Ranch, Philo. He died from a combination of exposure and AIDS.
October 2010: Eric Christopher Grant was last seen working for Mendocino Redwood Company on October 27 near Navarro Ridge Road. His company vehicle was found at the overlook off Highway One. Neither he nor his remains have been found.
October 2012: The skeletal remains of an unidentified man, 25 to 45 years old, and between 5 ft. 11 and 6 ft. 5 inches tall was located on the shore of the Eel River north of Leggett.
April 2013: Genevieve Kathryn Alexander, 30, was reported missing in the Fort Bragg area. A pair of pants identified as Alexander’s was found at the beach.
May 2013: Erik Lamberg, 51, of Redondo Beach, was last seen in Laytonville on May 28. His car was found stuck in a ditch on June 1 on the Sherwood-Fort Bragg Road.
Sept. 2013: Skeletal remains were found along the Eel River near the Standish-Hickey State Park.
* * *
LINDA WILLIAMS NOTES: The list was primarily an on-line search through area media, and only includes missing people that did not result in either the person or their remains being located within a short time after going missing. It also includes cases where remains were found and never identified or identified months or years after the missing report was filed. The list does not include missing person’s reports filed in other jurisdictions where the last known location was in Mendocino or Humboldt counties.
BYPASS PROTESTERS BRAGGING & COMPLAINING
To the editor:
As usual, Willits Bypass protesters contradict themselves and each other. In her letter to the editor last week Naomi Wagner complained (again) that Caltrans alone is responsible for bypass construction delays and millions of dollars in cost overruns:
"Any 'cost overruns' were caused by Caltrans' cavalier approach to the law, callous disregard for the environment and disrespect for Native Americans, arrogant attitude towards the public and intransigent resistance to reasonable change."
(Naomi Wagner apportioning blame for Willits Bypass delays and cost overruns: Caltrans 100%, protesters 0).
But SOLLV is still bragging on their website about bypass protesters causing construction delays:
"Direct actions also slow the construction of the Bypass, putting stress on CalTrans and its contractors, who are under deadlines with the project. For example, not only did the occupation of the wick drain stitcher entirely immobilize the tower Will was on for 11 and a half days; it also put the other stitcher out of commission for at least one extra working day after he and another climber attach a truck rope traverse line between each of the machines. It is estimated that there are currently around 3,000 fewer wick drains in Little Lake Valley than there would be had it not been for the occupation. Taking into account their cumulative impact, delays like these can translate into far-reaching consequences political consequences, while helping buy time for the ecosystems that are at stake."
SOLLV goes on to proudly recap every illegal action to obstruct bypass construction to date: I guess bypass protesters want all the glory, such as it is, but none of the responsibility.
After cataloguing all the ways Caltrans has "messed up," Wagner urged the California Transportation Commission to deny Caltrans' request for an additional $64 million to cover cost overruns. Sadly for Wagner and other local environmental extremists, happily for the rest of us, the CTC unanimously approved Caltrans' request.
Also sadly for Wagner et al, bypass protesters' persistent complaints about the delays they themselves have caused contributed to the Army Corps of Engineers' insistence on an accelerated mitigation schedule, requiring Caltrans to use herbicides on 67 acres of mitigation lands to eradicate invasive non-native blackberry bushes in order to restore the mitigation lands to their original condition. Caltrans had planned to use entirely non-toxic methods of removal but that takes too long. http://willitsbypass.wordpress.com/.
Once again bypass protesters have made things worse instead of better. Once again bypass protesters have the nerve to complain about the consequences of their own actions. They seem oblivious to the laws of cause and effect. They seem oblivious to all the contradictions in their statements and actions. And they seem oblivious to all the silly, irresponsible claims they have made that have proven groundless (i.e., wick drains will create an underground dam and turn LLV into a desert, pile driving will turn fish brains to jelly and cause neurological problems for local children). Have bypass protesters ever once admitted they were wrong about anything? They brag and complain, contradicting themselves and each other continuously, apparently forgetting that the rest of us are listening.
Carry on Caltrans! Looking good out there!
Randi Covin, Brooktrails
CRIME WAS ON HUMCO RESIDENTS’ MINDS IN 2015
by Daniel Mintz
The county’s longstanding signature issues – marijuana, land use and economic transition – continued their trajectory throughout 2015.
But crime became particularly relevant, as a convergence of factors seemed to spur more of it. The staffing of the Sheriff’s Office was a foremost budget concern for residents who also recognized funding needs for prosecutors, probation services and homelessness reduction.
With tax and fee revenues failing to meet rising expenses, residents supported a self-reliant remedy – they decided to tax themselves.
The $6 million solution
Hope for restoration of the county budget evaporated near the start of the year and $2 million in spending cuts were said to be needed. A five-year budget projection showed the county running into deficit.
County staff later reported that they were only able to find $1.4 million to cut and that further reductions would lead to layoffs. At the same time, residents of rural areas were becoming increasingly unnerved by the Sheriff’s Office’s lack of ability to respond to calls.
Heeding a recommendation from the McKinleyville Municipal Advisory Committee, Supervisor Ryan Sundberg proposed an approach that would become Measure Z, the county’s half-cent sales tax increase ballot measure.
The measure’s progress lurched at first – the County Administrative Office recommended that the measure be proposed for unincorporated areas only. Its staff told supervisors that putting the measure to a countywide vote could alienate cities, some of which had their own sales tax initiatives on the ballot.
But shortly before a deadline for advancing the measure, county staff discovered that state law wouldn’t allow the county-only approach. Measure Z headed for a countywide vote and skeptics doubted that residents of cities would support it.
Polling showed otherwise and was accurate -- the measure was approved.
There’s still some suspense, however. Now that the county has an additional $6 million a year of revenue, various public safety- and social services-related departments are highlighting their funding needs.
The county’s explanation of Measure Z named expansion of sheriff’s deputy patrols in rural areas as a primary goal. But there’s competition even within that category.
McKinleyville has been cited as the area most in need of additional deputies, while the most vocal demand has come from Southern Humboldt.
An advisory committee on Measure Z spending is in the process of being formed and the extra revenue will be accessible when the next fiscal year starts on July 1.
Crime has always been a concern but a variety of controversies over the last year has made it the most talked-about issue in the county.
Realignment – which redirects some felony offenders to county jail and probation systems instead of state prisons and parole – had been blamed for a rise property crimes in 2013 but the year’s shocking start eclipsed it with another jail-related issue.
The brutal New Year’s Day murder of Father Eric Freed, the pastor of Eureka’s St. Bernard’s Church, led to criticism of the Sheriff’s Office’s late night jail release policies.
Southern Humboldt resident Gary Bullock is accused of torturing and murdering Freed. After being brought to county jail on suspicion of being intoxicated, he was released several hours later, at 12: 45 a.m. He allegedly killed Freed several hours later.
A forum in Eureka in February included a panel of local public safety officials who explained the limitations of jail stay lengths for people who are held for intoxication. The Sheriff’s Office would amend some of its release protocols but ultimately, the community has had to accept that there’s limited leeway to hold individuals who’ve been detained for the maximum time allowed under law.
Meanwhile, realignment-related jail overcrowding has become less of an issue due to another development that some find startling – the passage of the Proposition 47 state ballot measure.
The new law reduces felony offenses, including personal use drug offenses and theft of property under $950 in value, to misdemeanors. It’s led to the release of scores of misdemeanor offenders from county jail.
The release of property thieves has been particularly troubling to the community. Board of Supervisors Chair Rex Bohn linked it to increased crime and summed up the situation by stating that police and deputies are dealing with “a crap storm out there.”
The Sheriff’s Office’s lack of deputies converged with the other issues in a seeming perfect storm of public safety dilemmas. With crime consciousness running high, Measure Z gained approval with hope that its revenues can lead to improved public safety.
‘The Year of Pot’
The Washington Post has called 2014 “The Year of Pot,” as recreational sales of it began in Colorado and Washington, four more states approved its medicinal use and Congress voted to stop funding medical marijuana raids.
In Humboldt, there were lesser strides. The year began with an extension of the county’s ban on additional medical marijuana dispensaries. County supervisors said they’d allow more dispensaries in a regulated environment but the year ended without regulations in place.
Instead, the county aimed for low-hanging fruit – regulating outdoor medical marijuana grows in small parcel, neighborhood settings. The process got off to a controversial start, as a draft ordinance recommended by the Planning Commission banned cultivation on parcels less than a half-acre in size.
The Board of Supervisors scrubbed the contentious provision from the ordinance, along with plant counts. The approved ordinance allows a 100-foot canopy on parcels up to an acre and 200-foot canopies for parcels up to five acres.
2015 will see the county advancing its next phase of regulation, for larger outdoor parcels. But what supervisors are doing seems mundane compared to what the local arm of a statewide political action committee is cooking up.
Last October, Cannabis Voice Humboldt named 2015 as the year that it will put a more comprehensive cultivation ordinance before voters. The ballot measure proposal shook up some sensibilities when it was unveiled.
Squarely dealing with the sheer demand for marijuana and its anticipated legalization, the group’s ordinance initially set a 10,000-foot canopy maximum. Later drafts set parcel-specific size ranges but environmentalists are still startled at what’s perceived to be an excess of permissiveness in the proposal.
The sense of alarm is based on what’s been happening in an unregulated environment. The impacts of sloppily-managed rural area grows have been widely reported on and there’s fear that legalization will intensify them.
Though the regulatory scenario is still uncertain, the profile of the substance itself has improved. Credibility of medical use is rising, statewide legalization is now considered inevitable and nationwide opinion is pressuring change at the federal level.
The Board of Supervisors continued to revamp the draft General Plan Update, policy by policy, line by excruciating line.
The draft update’s overhaul reflects the outcome of recent elections. Alterations have been aligned with lobbying by building and property investment interests and they’ve been clumsily executed at times.
The year began with an experiment of sorts. When supervisors took up the update’s controversial Conservation and Open Space Element, a majority of them decided to shuttle it to the Planning Commission for unspecified changes.
It was to be a troublesome move. When a majority of commissioners voted to strike mention of a countywide trails network from one of the element’s policies, scores of trail-loving residents objected.
There was also pushback against the commission majority’s decision to reduce the update’s streamside setbacks. The commission reversed the decision in a re-vote spurred by a technicality, however, and then ran up against a 45-day deadline for completing its review.
Supervisors decided against extending the review, acknowledging the whole thing as a mistake and a disappointment. It was a flat-face flop for a newly-seated version of the commission, which had already encountered criticism for being “stacked” with developers and members affiliated with the Humboldt Coalition for Property Rights.
After re-inserting mention of trails and eventually devising a compromise policy on stream setbacks, supervisors continued to crawl through the element. Decisions favoring billboard advocates and mining operators have had to be revisited and overall progress continues to be slow.
The faltering pace contrasts a schedule that was charted after a different version of the Planning Commission approved the draft update in the spring of 2012. Supervisors were to have completed their review in a few months.
More than two years later, wisecracks about the update being an everlasting phenomenon are even ventured by supervisors themselves.
New DA, Same Supes
The 2014 election season’s most riveting contest was between four viable candidates running for district attorney. To the surprise of many, incumbent DA Paul Gallegos decided not to seek re-election, citing family-related reasons.
It was also a surprise that the DA election didn’t need a November run-off, given the number and caliber of candidates.
Former County Prosecutor Maggie Fleming was the front-runner and gained more than 50 percent of the vote in the June primary. She out-campaigned three worthy opponents – Elan Firpo, Allan Dollison and Arnie Klein, all former county prosecutors.
Plea bargains, funding for prosecutors and dealing with crime trends were main election issues. Fleming said she’d promote the use of addiction and mental health treatment to reduce crime.
There were also two county supervisor elections, for districts four and five. Supervisors Virginia Bass and Ryan Sundberg aren’t favored by environmentalists but when it came time to put up candidates to oppose them, county liberals were slow on the draw.
There wouldn’t have been a candidate to run against Bass had former Eureka City Councilmember Chris Kerrigan not changed his plans to run for Eureka mayor. Deciding to challenge Bass at the eleventh hour, Kerrigan nevertheless mustered an effective campaign.
Bass won as most expected, although the margin was fairly slim.
The challenge to Sundberg’s incumbency was less dramatic. Former Southern Humboldt resident and Arcata pastor Sharon LaTour didn’t have a high profile in the fifth district and her campaign was of the caliber one would expect from a political newcomer.
Sundberg won with ease.