STORY | PREVIEW
| THE HUM | CALENDAR
Feb. 17, 2005
The Fair Political Practices Commission
last week let it be known that it had concluded its investigation
of Supervisor Roger Rodoni and that no charges would be filed
against him. The commission received complaints about Rodoni
nearly two years ago, when the supervisor joined a 4-1 board
majority denying District Attorney Paul Gallegos' request to
hire help in his fraud suit against the Pacific Lumber Co. Rodoni
has leased a 9,000-acre southern Humboldt ranch from the company
for more than 30 years -- at the time of the vote, he was paying
$350 per month for the lease. Rodoni did not return the Journal's
calls or provide a copy of a letter the FPPC sent him; according
to the Times-Standard, the letter stated that FPPC staff
found that there was "insufficient evidence" that Rodoni
received a discounted rate on the lease.
MURDERED MEN IDENTIFIED:
The remains of two slain men whose
bodies were left in Southern Humboldt have been positively identified.
A body discovered last month in Honeydew was identified through
dental records as Rex Donald Shinn, of Loleta, according to the
Humboldt County Sheriff's Office. Autopsy results confirm that
Shinn, 32, died of a gunshot wound. The Sheriff's Office says
that they know who killed the man, who was reported missing in
July 2003. Sheriff's detectives are continuing an investigation
into Shinn's murder. Anyone with information should contact Detective
Rich Schlesiger at 445-7251. In another unsolved homicide, a
recent DNA comparison has identified Robert John Tobaka, 53,
of Eureka almost one year after his body was discovered in the
woods near Pepperwood. The cause of the man's death was not released
by the Sheriff's Office; an investigation continues.
AUGUST TRIAL DELAYED AGAIN: Last week Humboldt County Superior Court Judge
John Feeney reset the date of the trial of Fortuna City Councilmember
Debi August, who stands accused of malfeasance conflict of interest.
The trial had been previously scheduled to start next week; Feeney
ordered it rescheduled to May 22, in order to consider a request
by August's attorneys to be allowed to access previously confidential
testimony to the Humboldt County Grand Jury. At the same time,
Feeney denied a motion that would have barred Assistant District
Attorney Tim Stoen from prosecuting the case. In May 2004, the
Humboldt County Grand Jury filed a formal accusation against
August, charging that she abused her office by seeking special
dispensation for a developer she was representing as a real estate
FLUORIDE WEBSITE LAUNCHED:
A coalition of medical and dental
professionals and community organizations last week announced
the launch of a new organization -- the North Coast Fluoride
Information Network -- dedicated to combating Arcata's fledgling
anti-fluoridation movement. At a press conference at Potawot
Health Village, Dr. Steven Schonfeld, a Eureka dentist, said
opponents of fluoridation, while well-intentioned, proved that
"you don't have to be an ultra-right-wing lunatic to believe
in conspiracy theories." Dr. Ann Lindsay, the county's director
of public health, directed interested citizens to the group's
new Web site -- www.fluorideinfo.org -- for objective, "thoroughly
researched" scientific studies on the benefits of fluoridation.
Another group, Arcata Citizens for Safe Drinking Water, is sponsoring
an initiative that would ban the city from adding fluoride to
Arcata's drinking water.
KEEP CALIFORNIA CLEAN
AND SAFE: State Sen. Wesley Chesbro
(D-Arcata) introduced a bill last week to devote $3 billion to
protecting the state's scenic wonders. The California Clean Water,
Clean Air, Safe Neighborhood Parks, and Coastal Protection Act
of 2006 (SB153) calls for the state to ante up bond money for
environmental protection. The bonds would help local governments
maintain public parks, protect beaches, forests, rivers and wildlife,
and preserve historic buildings. The bill will be presented to
the Senate Natural Resources Committee next month. According
to a press release from Chesbro's office, SB153 is a follow up
to Propositions 40 and 50 billion-dollar environmental protection
measures that passed in 2002 and are now beginning to run out
of funding. Assemblymember Patty Berg or Eureka was a coauthor
POOL IMPROVEMENTS: One project that benefited from Prop. 40 funds
is the Arcata Community Pool renovation, which is nearing completion.
Among the pool improvements are a new pool bottom lining and
an ultraviolet purification system, which limits chlorine use.
Dave Nakamura, director of Humboldt State's Center Activities,
which manages the Arcata Pool, said that $220,000 of Prop. 40
money was given to the public pool for repairs.
SUPPORT TROOPS WHO WON'T
FIGHT: The Arcata City Council
continues to thumb its nose at the Bush Administration with its
third formal resolution condemning the U.S-led war in Iraq. On
Wednesday evening, the council was scheduled to present the Resolution
Supporting Troops Who Refuse to Serve in Illegal Wars for public
input. Arcata's other anti-war resolutions, penned by the council's
prominent peacenik Dave Meserve, have blasted the Patriot Act
and called for the impeachment of Bush.
MAN CLUBBED ON PLAZA:
One man beat another with a golf
club following a Friday afternoon argument on the Arcata Plaza,
police said. Shanti Wyatts, 27, of Seattle was reportedly swinging
a golf club wildly on the plaza green when a 22-year-old homeless
Arcata man asked him to cool it. Wyatts then hit the homeless
mediator in the shin, ribs and face with his club and fled on
foot, police said. A plaza businessman who witnessed the scene
from his window called the cops, who caught up with Wyatts as
he walked northbound on F and 11th streets, according to police.
He was arrested by APD for assault with a deadly weapon. The
victim was treated for minor cuts and bruises at Mad River Hospital
ARCATA THEATRE GETS PERMIT: The long-closed Arcata Theatre cleared another
hurdle last week. Theater owners Brian and Lara Cox received
a crucial conditional use permit from the Arcata Planning Commission,
which endorsed their vision of transforming the historic structure
into a combination restaurant, pub and entertainment venue. The
Cox's floor plans can be viewed online at www.arcatatheatre.com.
DON'T FEED THE BIRDS: The Department of Fish and Game is asking North
Coast bird lovers to stop feeding their feathered friends for
at least one month to slow down the spread of an avian disease.
Small brown birds with yellow tinged wings and tails known as
pine siskins, which live mainly in the woods, are carrying a
bacterial disease called salmonellosis. According to a DFG press
release, it is rare or unlikely for humans to catch the disease
from birds, but other birds and pets can be infected by eating
the contaminated fecal matter of sick pine siskins, or by coming
in contact with eye mucous rubbed onto bird feeders. Reports
of dead siskins have been received from Grass Valley to Eureka,
the DFG said. Biologists urge residents to empty their bird feeders;
use gloves when handling feeders or dead birds; wash birdhouses
with bleach; use plastic or metal houses instead of wooden ones
(wood harbors disease longer); and to spread bird seed on the
ground rather than using feeders.
COUNCIL CANDIDATES TO
DEBATE: The six people running
for an empty seat on the Arcata City Council will debate the
issues at the Arcata Community Center Thursday night, from 7
to 9 p.m. The debate, which is sponsored by the Arcata Eye
and HSU's Department of Mass Communications, will be simulcast
on KHSU and cable Channel 12.
OLD GROWTH LAWSUIT FILED:
Three environmental organizations
have filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service.
The suit seeks to prevent a sale of around 750 acres of old-growth
forest -- mostly Douglas fir -- in the Klamath National Forest.
"The key problem is that they're cutting hundreds of acres
of old growth in an area that needs to be protected and restored,"
said Scott Greacen of the Environmental Protection Information
Center, one of the parties to the suit.
CORRECTION: In last week's
cover story, "Working the street," the name of
a drug used to help heroin addicts kick the habit was misspelled.
The drug is buphenorphine. [The online version has been corrected.]
team up for environmental journalism
10 YEARS, JAMES FAHN [photo
at right] worked as an environmental
reporter in Thailand, writing for an English-language paper and
hosting a television show on environmental issues at a time when
the country's economy -- and its exploitation of its natural
resources -- was booming. The passions of the nation's industrial
interests and its fledgling environmental movement were high,
and Fahn spent much of his time teasing out the truth beneath
"The environment is not
a black-and-white issue," he said. "That's what makes
it so interesting."
Many of Fahn's former colleagues
in newsrooms throughout the developing world don't have access
to the resources they need to report fairly and adequately on
environmental issues. Scientific knowledge may be hard to come
by, and is often difficult to interpret. There is little cross-cultural
communication -- it's sometimes hard for reporters to figure
out how a similar problem was solved halfway across the world.
Reporters and their readers must muddle through issues as best
Since September, when he was
hired as director of the Arcata-based Earth Journalism Network,
Fahn has been doing his best to change all that.
The Earth Journalism Network
is a joint project of Humboldt State University and Internews,
a local nonprofit organization that works to foster independent
media in developing and democratizing countries. The idea for
the network came out of talks between HSU President Rollin Richmond
and Internews President David Hoffman shortly after Richmond
came to the university.
The program is in its infancy,
and Fahn -- who spent a year as a environmental grant analyst
for the Ford Foundation -- has been devoting most of his efforts
to raising money. But Fahn and his colleagues are hoping that
the Earth Journalism Network will eventually become an international
association of reporters specializing in the environment and
sustainable development, centered in Humboldt County.
In its first stages, Fahn and
his colleague Gary Strieker -- the network's president and the
former lead environmental reporter for CNN International -- will
conduct workshops with environmental reporters in developing
countries. Strieker has already led one such workshop in Indonesia;
Fahn hopes to lead another in Mexico later this year.
Ultimately, the plan is to bring
some of the most promising workshop attendees to Humboldt State
for a two-week training session with professors from HSU's College
of Natural Resources and Sciences. The journalists would also
spend time touring the area, learning about local environmental
projects and controversies -- from old-growth logging to the
dispute over Klamath River water flow.
Fahn said he believed that foreign
reporters would likely find both halves of their Humboldt experience
-- scientific training and exposure to the sometimes contentious
debate over environmental issues -- applicable to their work
"I found, working in Southeast
Asia, views are so polarized that a lot of times it really helps
to understand the science and approach things in an analytical
way," he said.
So far, $150,000 of the Earth
Journalism Network's start-up funds have been donated by the
Eureka-based SN Servicing Corp. Rob Arkley, owner of the Eureka-based
company and also of the Eureka Reporter newspaper, said
Monday that he applauded the goal of training environmental journalists
in scientific principles.
tends to be very, very advocacy-based," he said. "EPIC
[the Environmental Protection Information Center of Garberville]
comes up with one set of numbers, other people come up with other
numbers. At some point, I want the science."
Arkley added that Humboldt State,
because of its academic strength in the natural sciences field,
stood to become a "pro-active, worldwide" leader in
the field of environmental journalism -- an outcome that would
benefit the region economically.
To date, the Earth Journalism
Network has also secured grants from the John S. and James L.
Knight Foundation and Rockefeller Financial Services.
Fahn said that if the current
round of fund-raising goes well, the first Earth Journalism Network
summer seminars at HSU could be held at HSU as early as 2006.
Richard Hansis, an HSU natural resources professor and a member
of the network's advisory board, said that he looked forward
to working with the top students from the in-country workshops.
"It would be the best and
brightest, in some ways," Hansis said. "It's always
fun to teach people like that."
HSU Public Affairs Director
Jane Rogers, another member of the network's advisory board,
said that the university is excited that the project is finally
getting under way, after nearly three years of talks. She said
that things would have moved more quickly had it not taken nearly
a year to find someone of Fahn's experience and stature to lead
the effort, but added that it was worth the wait.
`We're very excited about his
qualifications," she said. "He's just been dynamite."
For his part, Fahn said that
he thought the Earth Journalism Network was fortunate to have
Humboldt County as a home base. He said that he first heard of
Arcata while researching a story on wastewater. Reporting from
Thailand, he came across information on the Arcata Marsh, the
city's natural wastewater treatment facility that doubles as
a sanctuary for birds and other marsh-loving creatures. It struck
him as a brilliant solution to a problem that communities everywhere
Having finally visited the marsh,
he looked forward to showing it to other environmental reporters
from across the globe.
"To actually see one in
place, one that's been working for three decades now -- what
a great example," he said.
STORY | PREVIEW | THE
HUM | CALENDAR
Comments? Write a
© Copyright 2005, North Coast Journal,