June 24, 2004
MEDINA LOYA NABBED IN MEXICAN
BROTHEL: On Saturday, Mexican police
arrested Francisco Medina Loya, the Del Norte County man who
shot at police from three local law enforcement agencies while
eluding arrest in May, the Sheriff's Office reported Tuesday.
A customer at a house of ill repute in Michoacán, Mexico,
reported Medina to the local police after seeing a gun tucked
into his waistband. When police came to arrest him, Medina opened
fire on them; two officers were wounded in the exchange. He was
finally apprehended when he ran out of ammunition. Medina is
wanted on 17 counts of attempted murder in California, but he
probably won't be extradited to face them -- Mexican officials
believe he's responsible for 13 first-degree murders there. Medina
was reportedly arrested along with a senior member of one of
Mexico's drug cartels, who had accompanied him to the brothel.
RANCHERIA FUNDS DEPUTIES: The Blue Lake Rancheria announced Tuesday that it would fund two deputy sheriff's positions over the next two years. Sheriff Gary Philp said that the rancheria -- a sovereign tribal government -- had heard about the Sheriff's Office's budget woes a few months ago and approached him to ask how they could help. But Tuesday's announcement caught him by surprise, and he couldn't be more delighted. "We're just as happy as can be that they made this offer," he said. Philp said that there were no strings attached to the offer, but he made the decision to place the two new deputies in the northern part of the county, where the rancheria is based. "I felt it only fair," he said.
STOEN CLEARED: Kim Kerr, Humboldt County's General Services Director, announced last week that an independent investigation into Assistant District Attorney Tim Stoen's alleged sexual harassment of a co-worker had been completed, and that Stoen had not violated the county's sexual harassment policy. Reached at his office, Stoen said on Tuesday that he was glad to be vindicated. "When you attack somebody for this kind of thing, it's really miserable," he said. "It hasn't been a happy 30 days for me."
INN ACTIVITY: The hedges are trimmed and the sprinklers are on, but nobody's home. Mark Carter, owner of Carter House Inns and Restaurant 301, said he is helping spruce up the Eureka Inn for absentee Inn owner Ray Park, chairman of the Cleveland-based Park Corp. "We're painting it, re-roofing and cleaning it up -- getting it ready for sale or operation," Carter said Monday. The hotelier said he is not involved in any plan to operate the Inn "... at this time. I'm just helping out a family friend." Park financed John and Deborah Biord's purchase of the Inn in 1995 and was a close friend of the late Joe Carter, father of Mark Carter and Deborah Biord. Park, who held the second deed of trust on the Inn, bought the historic property at a foreclosure sale in February. At the time he said his intention was to resell the property as soon as possible.
SALES TAX HIKE ON BALLOT: The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on Tuesday to ask voters for a countywide 1 percent sales tax increase. The measure, which will appear on the November ballot, is designed to provide some $12.7 million in additional revenue for local government -- around $6.8 million for the county and $5.9 million to local cities. County Administrative Officer Loretta Nickolaus told the board that the prospect of a tax hike was "painful," but that recent moves by state government made it necessary, if local citizens wished to see services like law enforcement, parks and libraries preserved. But McKinleyville gadfly David Elsebusch, citing what he called "profligate" spending, disagreed: "If this goes forward, I will spend a lot of my time and energy to defeat it," he said.
SUPREME COURT TO HEAR PL CASE: The California Supreme Court agreed last week to hear the Pacific Lumber Co.'s argument that the state water quality control boards have no right to regulate logging operations. Last March, an appellate court ruled that the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board could order the company to monitor water quality downstream of its operations in the Elk River watershed; PALCO insisted that all environmental regulation should be performed by the California Department of Forestry.
AMERICORPS IS BACK -- PROBABLY: After being shut down last August due to federal budget cutbacks, Humboldt County's Straight Up Americorps, a program that mentors at-risk youth, may reopen this year. The Redwood Community Action Agency received an over-the-phone confirmation from a state agency last week that Straight Up will be funded once again for its public service work, but the RCAA is still waiting by the fax machine this week for the official document, an official said.
LIBRARY SHUTDOWNS: The Humboldt County Public Library last week announced its new, limited schedule in the wake of the county's reduced budget. All branches will close their doors from July 3 through July 12, the first of a series of weeklong, systemwide closures scheduled to happen every three months. When the library reopens on July 13, hours will be reduced across the board at all branch locations.
ARMS! ARCATA: Arcatans who may have wished to demonstrate their town spirit through their choice in firearms have had, in the past, very few options. That is no longer the case. Investment Arms Inc., a Colorado-based company, is now selling a "City of Arcata Special Edition Custom Ruger 10/22" rifle for $677.43, including shipping and handling. The rifle comes festooned with engraved slogans, such as "Home to the Giant Redwood" and "American by Birth... Patriot by Choice." Locals may be forgiven for thinking that someone in Colorado is having some fun at their expense -- that's not the case at all, says Investment Arms project manager Justin Daley. "Our intention is to commemorate the history of the town," he said. "The rifle is a traditional American symbol." He said that the company does extensive demographic research before producing special edition rifles for towns, and that Eureka and Fortuna models will also be available soon. Act now: The company will sell only 26 city of Arcata Rugers on a first-come, first served basis.
GOATS MAIMED IN SHIVELY: An attacker mutilated goats belonging to the 12- and 13-year old daughters of Jason Hubbard, a Shively resident, late last month. The 4-H animals, two nanny goats and a pygmy goat, were assaulted on two different occasions and almost killed, Hubbard said. A ranch hand arrived in time to save the goats, which were hung from a tree and a fence on Hubbard's property. Following the hanging, when the family was out of town, someone slashed the ears and teats of the three goats, severing the teat of the pygmy goat completely. Due to the maiming, the goats can no longer compete in 4-H competitions. Police are investigating.
LIFEJACKETS ON LOAN: It only takes an instant for a child, or even an adult, to slip into deep, fast-moving water in a river and drown without making a sound. The county, working with local businesses, has begun a lifejacket loan program to reduce the number of drowning fatalities. So far this year, five people have died in Humboldt County waters, although officials say that most drownings occur in the summer months. Tsunami Surf & Sport in Shelter Cove and Garberville, K'ima:w Medical Center in Hoopa, the Tsewenaldin Inn in Hoopa and Bob's Shopping Center in Willow Creek will loan lifejackets for the day or weekend at no cost.
CORRECTION: In last week's edition, the Journal gave an incorrect date for the public ceremony marking the transfer of a portion of Indian Island from the city of Eureka to the Wiyot Tribe. The ceremony will be held Friday, June 25, at Eureka's Adorni Center, between 3 and 5 p.m. The Journal regrets the error.
by HANK SIMS
The effort to write a new general plan for Humboldt County has been underway for four years, and there's at least a year's worth of work left to be done.
However, the broad outlines of the new plan, which will serve as a blueprint for development in most of the unincorporated areas of the county over the next 20 years, will be decided in the next few weeks, and interest groups -- from development advocates to environmentalists -- are marshaling their arguments.
Earlier this month, the county's Community Development Services Department released a report that presented four "sketch plans" -- broad-stroke options showing alternative visions for the county's future, ranging from strict protection of agricultural land and open space to easier subdivision of such areas. The Board of Supervisors is expected to pick one of these options in late July or early August. County planning staff will then spend the next year fleshing out the selected plan.
Martha Spencer, a senior planner with the county's Economic Development Department, said last week that in this "crucial" time, she hopes to hear feedback on the different options available to the county.
"We're trying to get as many people involved as we can," Spencer said. "We really want public participation."
To that end, Spencer and her colleagues began hitting the road earlier this week, bringing a presentation on the sketch plan report to the public in community forums in the greater Arcata and Garberville areas. Over the next week, the same presentation will be given in other areas of the county. Finally, feedback from the forums will be given to a joint meeting of the Board of Supervisors and the county's Planning Commission next Thursday, July 1.
General plans are often called "constitutions for development" -- they determine where future building will take place and show how public services, such as public safety, utilities and transportation infrastructure, will provide for growth.
In Humboldt County, perhaps the biggest dilemma facing planners is balancing population growth and housing affordability with protection of the area's natural resources and scenic beauty. Each of the four sketch plans presented in the county's report proposes a different solution to the problem.
One of them, called the "Expanded Growth Pattern" plan, calls for more building and subdivisions on the outskirts of existing communities. The idea of the plan is to expand the type of "auto-oriented" development, in the words of the plan, that has proved itself popular in the market in part because it provides homeowners with larger homes and yards.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the "Focused Growth Pattern" plan favors increasing the density of housing units within existing communities, a process often referred to as "infill." The plan gives the highest level of protection to scenic areas and open space, and provides the easiest solution to the problem of extending water, sewage and other services to new homes.
A third sketch plan -- "Mixed Growth Patterns" -- combines elements of the previous two. The fourth option presented is simply to continue using the current general plan, which provides for the fewest building opportunities.
Diane Ryerson, political co-chair of the local Sierra Club chapter, said that her organization is most concerned about preventing sprawling subdivisions, with homes on one- to two- acre lots taking over space formerly occupied by forests and farms.
"That kind of development has a cost, in the long run, to all of us," she said. "Do we want to see our forested hillside remain forested, or do we want to see them covered up with houses?"
Bob Higgons, an advocate for the Northern California Association of Homebuilders, said that his first priority is for the plan to address the county's housing crisis, which has seen home prices nearly double over the last four years. He said the county needs to insure that there will be an ample future stock of both "infill" and suburban housing if the crisis is to be reversed.
"It's not a matter of one or the other -- we would promote that the county consider both," Higgons said. "We definitely support the idea of infill, but in order to have a choice of types of housing we also support the idea of some expansion beyond city limits."
Higgons is also a member of a new group called HELP ("Humboldt Economic and Land Plan"), a coalition of business leaders and members of local utility districts. HELP, which announced its formation at Tuesday's meeting of the Board of Supervisors, advocates a greater emphasis on economic development in the general plan and wants to see more land opened up for new housing. The group has released a 40-page critique of current county planning, which will soon be posted on its Web site, www.helphumboldt.com. The coalition also plans to hold its own community workshops in the upcoming weeks.
The sketch plan report can be found at the county's general plan Web site, www.planupdate.org. The remaining community forums will be held at the River Lodge in Fortuna tonight (June 24), at the County Agricultural Center in Eureka on Monday, at Trinity Valley Elementary in Willow Creek on Tuesday and at Trinidad City Hall on Wednesday. All workshops begin at 6:30 p.m.
The joint Board of Supervisors/Planning Commission meeting begins at 6 p.m. on Thursday, July 1. It will be held in the supervisors' chamber in the County Courthouse.
by JUDY HODGSON
DAUGHTER OF NORWEGIAN immigrants, teacher, biologist, World War II radar technician, civil rights activist, Veteran for Peace, citizen diplomat, peacenik, Woman in Black, mother, dumpling of a grandmother -- all terms describing Edith Eckart of Arcata, who died last week at the age of 84.
As I wrote in my publisher's column in August 1992 [see Journal cover below], reporters often don't know what to do with people like "Edilith," the name her grandson called her and the one she took as a pen name when she wrote a column for the old Arcata Union. Edilith was nice, an irrepressible optimist. She believed in the goodness of mankind. Reporters tend to be cynics. What's her angle? Why is she doing this? What's in it for her?
I first came to know her when I was editor of the Union in the 1980s. She was always after me to do stories about things that were important. Like world peace. I would hear, "Edilith is on the phone. She wants you to do a story," and I would roll my eyes.
She finally got to me in 1988 when she convinced me to travel with her group of peaceniks to the former Soviet Union. I went mainly for selfish reasons, I confess. My mother's family was from Russia, and this was a chance for us to travel there together at a very exciting time. Any thoughts I might have had about changing the course of history working for world peace were quite minor.
Then I saw her in action, practicing face-to-face citizen diplomacy. We toured schools, we staged cultural events with music and dance. We made friends, one at a time. Her philosophy was, "If you make friends with people and learn about their lives and their children, you are less likely to shoot at each other -- or tolerate your government doing it in on your behalf." (There was certainly no need to ask her about what she thought of our current president.)
Edilith's activism began early. Born in Brooklyn, she was a teacher prior to World War II. After her service and the war ended, she moved with her family to New Orleans, where she joined a women's church group and fought for civil rights, specifically school integration. Her children recall threatening phone calls but she was dauntless. She also got involved in environmental causes, studying the issues well enough to be called as an expert witness in court cases.
Along the way she raised four children, and some of them moved to the North Coast, buying a parcel in the Trinity Alps called Five Waters Ranch. After visiting them a few summers, in 1978 she made her permanent move here and started her column, "Life begins at 60." (She was indeed 60.)
It was during that time she attended a workshop called "Warriors of the Heart" in Washington state led by peace activist Danaan Parry, founder of Earthstewards Network. She traveled to the Soviet Union with Parry in 1981, then went on to lead 15 trips behind the Iron Curtain. Later, when the Cold War was winding down, she turned her attention to the Middle East, visiting Israel and Palestine several times and standing silent vigil with the original Women in Black.
In 1995 she traveled to Japan for ceremonies marking the 50th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, bringing with her a chain of paper cranes made by Humboldt County children. Her dedication to causes also led her to be arrested for civil disobedience several times. She violated the U.S. travel ban and sanctions against providing aid to Iraq after the first Gulf War by providing direct aid. She helped deliver $4 million worth of medicines to Iraqi hospitals, traveling with the local chapter of Veterans for Peace. She returned twice in connection with the group's Iraq Water Project, an effort that has resulted in the building of a number of water treatment plants in rural Iraq.
Her last trip to Iraq included visits to childrens' hospitals, and when she became ill after the journey, she continued her activism at home via the Internet.
Like a good soldier, Edilith went down fighting last week. She had led an effort to stop a lot split across the street from her Arcata home that she felt would damage the riparian habitat. She succeeded in getting the plan scaled back, but the split was approved and she appealed. She had planned to appear in person before the Arcata City Council that night but had stopped by her home to take a nap before the meeting. She died in her sleep and the council denied her appeal.
Edilith is survived by her sister, Gunda Halloran, of Tucson, Ariz.; her four children, Roger Eckart, Bob Eckart, Mellie Corrielle and her husband Tom, all of Arcata, and Margie Kieselhort-Eckart and her husband Richard, of Trinidad; and eight grandchildren.
A celebration of her life will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 27, at the Arcata Community Center.
-- Staff writer Bob Doran contributed to this story.
Local tribal and environmental groups gathered Tuesday evening outside the Red Lion Inn in Eureka, where the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission held a meeting to hear public input about a re-licensing application from PacifiCorps, a hydroelectric power company. The license would extend PacifiCorps' use of six dams on the mid-Klamath River for the next 50 years. Fearing worsened conditions for the fish of the Klamath River, where there have been massive fish kills in recent years, demonstrators urged FERC to investigate environmental, economic and cultural impacts that the dams have on the river and demanded that some, if not all, of the dams be decommissioned. The commission has extended the public comment period on the re-licensing to July 22.
by CAT SIEH
As the largest big top circus in the world prepares to tour the North Coast, federal officials say they are conducting two investigations into alleged animal abuse, and local animal rights activists are pledging to protest the shows.
The treatment of Carson & Barnes' animals was under scrutiny long before the death of their prized 5-year-old elephant, Baby Jennie, two months ago. U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection reports document a long history of non-compliance with the federal Animal Welfare Act, and two USDA investigations of alleged violations remain open as the circus tours Fortuna, McKinleyville and Crescent City starting Monday.
"It's barbaric," said Kate Tour of Fortuna, a member of the national group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. About a dozen activists protested Carson & Barnes when it came to her town three years ago, and she said she plans to protest the circus June 28 in Rohner Park. "Even if I have to sit out there alone with a sign, I'm going to do it," Tour said.
Circus officials vehemently denied the animal abuse charges.
"We have never violated [the Animal Welfare Act] no matter what anyone says," said Carson & Barnes spokesperson Jennifer Johnson.
The Animal Welfare Act was passed in 1966, requiring that animals bred for commercial sale, used in research, transported commercially or exhibited to the public are provided minimum standards of care and treatment in the areas of housing, handling, sanitation, nutrition, water, veterinary care and protection from extreme weather and temperatures.
The USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is responsible for administering the Animal Welfare Act, and performs unannounced inspections of licensed circuses.
Some inspections from the 10 years prior to 2002 report the circus in full compliance, or with minor infractions. Reports of non-compliance include failure to provide shelter, inadequate trailer maintenance, insufficient ventilation and drainage, faulty fencing, failure to have a safety barrier between large animals and the public, unsanitary drinking receptacles and food storage, and numerous failures to provide adequate veterinary care, among others. The 2002 inspection reports are the most recent records available to the public.
One report notes that an elephant was shackled without a protective covering for its leg. Another report said nearly half of the circus's elephants had not received proper foot care.
"Of course we have been in non-compliance," Johnson said. "Most are minor housekeeping things like putting a lid on a food container."
A 1999 undercover PETA videotape has sparked further controversy. The six-minute film appears to show Tim Frisco, then Carson & Barnes' animal care director, using an elephant hook -- a long tool with a large hook on the end -- to punish elephants, cursing and beating them as he commands them to do tricks and encourages other apparent trainers to do the same. The film also shows elephants' hair being removed with a blowtorch. PETA elephant specialist Nicole Meyer said the footage was taken undercover at the circus's winter quarters in Hugo, Okla. A circus official confirmed that Frisco is employed with the circus and runs the winter facility.
Johnson said she would not comment on the tape until provided with an "uncut" version of it. "It was doctored," she said. "It was designed to be as inflammatory as possible."
"We did an investigation because it was troubling," said Alfrieda Wilkins, Carson & Barnes director of advance coordination. "We found that no abuse happened. It was not what it appeared to be." Circus officials did not deny that the video portrayed Carson & Barnes staff and animals.
A USDA investigation was launched soon after the video was released, and the circus paid the USDA a $400 settlement in which it admitted no fault, said a USDA representative. Unlike an inspection, the USDA periodically launches investigations to look for specific violations at circuses. Three subsequent investigations were closed with no violations found, but two remain open, the USDA said. Details of the investigations were not released by the agency.
Carson & Barnes travels with seven African and Asian elephants, along with 100 other exotic animals. In an April press release, the circus announced that one of their elephants, an Asian female calf Baby Jennie, had died from an elephant herpes virus that "kills by infecting cells that line blood vessels in the heart, liver and other organs." What the circus did not mention is that the virus is common in African elephants, causing relatively minor pink skin lesions that are similar to fever blisters on a human, according to American Zoo and Aquarium Association. However, Asian elephants like Baby Jennie do not have antibodies to fight the virus; for them, the disease is fatal.
"Carson & Barnes is being extremely irresponsible by co-mingling two species, knowing that [elephant herpes] can jump species from African to Asian," Meyer said.
Carson & Barnes continues to tour with both African and Asian elephants. Wilkins said all of the circus's elephants were recently tested for elephant herpes; the circus has not yet received their results, she said. PETA has asked the USDA to investigate Baby Jennie's death.
The circus is scheduled to perform at 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. on June 28 at Rohner Park, June 29 at Hiller and Central avenues in McKinleyville, and June 30 at the Del Norte County Fairgrounds.
© Copyright 2004, North Coast Journal, Inc.