North Coast Journal Weekly link to homepageIn the News

July 10, 2003

State arts council zapped

Huge grant for diabetes research

Recall will miss November

Wide-eyed in China
by Andrew Edwards

Airport manager dies

Crash kills two

Economic numbers down

Penalties for protesters

Plea for cash

Firefighters receive grans

Media group wins prize

Nix on burn barrels

State arts council zapped


Last week the Humboldt Arts Council announced drastic program cuts due in part to loss of funding -- $28,670 -- from the California Arts Council.

It turns out that's just the tip of the iceberg. There are a total of 31 grants to individuals and organizations throughout the county being lost due to the demise of the CAC. Total funding to the county from the state agency for 2002-03 was $234,041.

"We're just one piece of that puzzle," said Sally Arnot, president of the Humboldt Arts Council board.

Among the other Humboldt County arts programs facing cuts: Dell'Arte, CenterArts, the Eureka Chamber Music Series, the Humboldt Folklife Society, the Mateel Community Center, North Coast Repertory Theater, Redwood Coast Writer's Center, the Art Academy, programs supporting traditional folk arts in the Native American community and over a dozen artists-in-residence who work in local schools, in shelters or with organizations for at-risk youth.

"The California Arts Council doesn't have a huge budget, but its grants, while small, provide incredible leverage for important on-the-ground programs," said Libby Maynard, executive director of the Ink People Center for the Arts.

According to Maynard, approval by one of the CAC's peer review panels is "kind of like having the Good Housekeeping seal of approval. It shows you have achieved a level of excellence in the state by beating out the other organizations applying for funding."

With a CAC grant in hand, arts organizations qualify for matching funds from foundations. The Ink People receive "organizational support" from the CAC -- money that can be applied directly to overhead -- something that Maynard says is "like gold" since it is so rare in the funding world.

"Funding for the artists-in-residence program goes directly to the artists. We sponsor Duane Flatmo [for the Rural Burl Mural Bureau] and Joyce Radke [for the Persephone Project Healing Through Art] but their funding comes straight from the CAC."

Flatmo is looking for other funding to replace his $11,826 CAC grant to teach at-risk youth how to paint murals.

"People look at the arts and think they are frills, but they're not," said Maynard. "They are the basic training ground for how to think, how to learn. The arts teach you critical thinking, how to work with others, how to collaborate. When California begins to recover from its present troubles, it is creative workers, who now make up 50 percent of the U.S. workforce, who will lead the recovery. Knowledge workers are trained in creativity. That training comes through the arts."

According to Darby Kernan, a spokesperson for Sen. Wesley Chesbro, chairman of the Senate's budget committee, funding for the California Arts Council is almost certain to be cut this year.

Originally founded in 1975 during Gov. Jerry Brown's administration, the CAC became a target of former Gov. Pete Wilson and other Republican legislators. This time the cuts are proposed by Democrats.

Kernan said cutting the council's budget will save the state about $20.3 million. "The proposed [Democratic] budget, which eliminates the Arts Council and several other important programs, has $11 billion worth of cuts -- real cuts -- and a temporary half cent sales tax to pay for $10 billion of the deficit."

Kernan pointed to the difficult choices facing the Legislature: Cuts are proposed that could delay the start of kindergarten, and there are cuts to programs for the aged, blind and disabled.

Kernan said Chesbro's office has received "tons of calls and letters" regarding the CAC cuts, along with calls about cuts to funding for cancer research and cuts to MediCal reimbursement providers who are "already on the brink of collapse."

"It's not something that the senator is happy about whatsoever, but with all of the serious health and education issues we are facing, it's hard to protect [the Arts Council] right now," she said.

Legislators are not eliminating the statute that created the California Arts Council, so in future years it could be refunded.

Arnot has her own ideas about what to do in the meantime. "Wouldn't it be nice if the county could pick up the slack with some of the Headwaters fund?" she said. "These are vital programs for our community, programs that support children."

Huge grant for diabetes research


Diabetes is on the rise, and America's health care system -- as technologically advanced as it is -- cannot contain one of the world's fastest-growing diseases.

The problem is that many of the estimated 17 million diabetics in the United States do not receive the basic treatment they need in the beginning stages of the metabolic disease, paving the way to worsened health, more radical treatment and pricier medical bills.

The Humboldt-Del Norte Foundation for Medical Care and the Independent Practice Association (IPA) have a plan to buoy the sinking health of diabetics by getting back to the basics. The effort, named the Diabetes Project, will take place over the next two years and puts Humboldt on the map as the only county in California to be involved in an undertaking of its kind.

With a grant totaling close to $500,000, funded mainly from the California Health Care Foundation, the IPA is leading Humboldt in a study to remedy the big problems of diabetes with simple answers. The money will be used to establish a system where 1,000 diabetics in Humboldt receive comprehensive health care and education, and their doctors will have a database to maintain the patients' charts.

It sounds easy enough. But as Martin Love, CEO of the IPA pointed out, many physicians have difficulties maintaining patient records over the long term. Worse yet, when a patient visits multiple doctors for a variety of problems, as do many diabetics, the charts never meet, leaving the patient with a fragmented medical history.

A portion of the grant goes toward setting up a new web-based registry, a cohesive medical file with which the doctor can better follow the course of a patient's illness. The database will be maintained by the IPA and can be accessed by all of the doctors involved in the project, which Love maintains is close to 100 percent of the physicians in Humboldt. In addition, the patient is given a progress summary after each visit.

"A large part of our goal is patient empowerment," said Alan Glaseroff, chief medical officer of the IPA. "Self-management is key for diabetics and we can help to facilitate it."

Glaseroff offered an analogy.

"When you bring your Honda down to the shop to get a tune-up, they give you a print-out that tells you exactly what they did to your car and when you should come back for your next service," Glaseroff said. "Now imagine that everyone was given something similar after each medical visit. That has never existed before in health care."

As the IPA works from the ground up on the Diabetes Project, the revamped filing system provides a foundation for more enhanced medical care to come while saving costs.

"You'd be amazed at the amount of charts that are misplaced," Love said. "This country has the best and most complex medical equipment in the world, meanwhile it costs the average office $9 to $15 just to find a chart."

According to the American Diabetes Association, one in every 10 dollars, or $134 billion, spent on health care in America goes toward care for diabetics. That cost could be greatly diminished, Glaseroff noted, if the disease were treated and maintained at the first signs of the illness, and not when patients are suffering from blindness, kidney failure and cardiovascular disease.

With approximately 10,000 diabetics in Humboldt and participation from county doctors, the IPA is confident that the project's benefits will be far-reaching. Included in the care of diabetics is a regimented diet and exercise plan, medication, blood sugar testing and insulin shots.

When the project ends in September 2004, the IPA will begin work on an article for publication in a medical journal, chronicling the improvements made by patients. Glaseroff said that the patient care system will not end with the project's completion, however. The IPA intends to continue the database and enhanced doctor-patient relationship in Humboldt, making it a model for other areas of California.

For additional information on diabetes in Humboldt County, including its relationship to diet, children and the Native American populations, see the
April 1, 1999 Journal cover story, "The Bitter Legacy of Diabetes"

Recall will miss November

Leaders of the effort to recall Gov. Gray Davis claim they have enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot, but backers of the effort to recall Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos say they won't be ready for November -- though they are confident they have plenty of signatures to force a later vote.

Rick Brazeau, of MTC Associates, said Tuesday there are 1,330 petitions in circulation with a potential of 20 signatures each -- which could total 26,600.

The current count is uncertain because there are still hundreds of petitions making the rounds, Brazeau said. "By next Tuesday or Wednesday we'll sit down and get a better sense of where we are," he said. "We've already got thousands and thousands and thousands" of signatures and should have no problem meeting the county requirement of 11,138 to qualify for election.

County elections offical Lindsey McWilliams said unlike the Davis recall effort, all the Gallegos signatures must be turned in at the same time. The elections division then has 30 days to verify signatures and report to the Board of Supervisors. By law, if there are enough valid signatures, the supervisors have to schedule an election "not less than 88 days, nor more than 120 days" from when they receive the report.

McWilliams said according to his calculations, the deadline was July 9 in order to try for the November ballot. Brazeau said he thought the date was July 3.

"We'd hoped we could make it, but I wasn't holding my breath," he said.

There have been reports of telephone opinion polls being conducted in recent weeks regarding Gallegos' performance, however Brazeau said it's not related to the recall effort.

"Nope. We've never done a poll," he said.

Brazeau was former District Attorney Terry Farmer's campaign manager. Farmer, a 20-year incumbent, was unseated by Gallegos last year.


Wide-eyed in China

story and photos by ANDREW EDWARDS

Crowd with umbrellasCHENGDU, Sichuan Province -- A strained and, to my ears, caterwauling Cantonese chorus of "We Shall Overcome" boomed out across the somber, black-clad, umbrella-clutching multitudes in Victoria Park in Hong Kong last Tuesday. I clung to it as a shred of familiarity as I stood sweating, unable to move.

"Tomorrow, don't go down there," my friend Cindy, a native to this uber-capitalist city state of 7.3 million, had said Monday night, pointing toward the western end of Hong Kong island. The multi-hued lights glistened off the wake-churned harbor, in Willie Nelson's words, "like 10 million jewels in the sky."

"Why not?" I asked. We were at dinner in a restaurant on the Peak, the highest point on the island, with an incomparable view of the entire city.

"There's going to be a protest down there, tens of thousands of people," she said, "Article 23, you know what I'm talking about?"

I'd actually been reading about it in the local papers ever since I'd arrived in the city.

Article 23 is sort of the local version of the Patriot Act. It's a "national security measure" pushed by the central government in Beijing to help fight domestic "terrorism."

As a "Special Administrative Region" of China, Hong Kong was promised 50 years of the freedoms it enjoyed under 99 years of benignly oligarchic British rule when it was handed back over to China on the midnight of June 30, 1997. These freedoms include freedom of speech, press and assembly as well as freedom from unlawful search and seizures.

But the new law would allow police raids without a warrant as well as ban any groups that Beijing concluded were threats to national security. This is the same government, mind you, that brought you the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989, and recently banned the Falun Gong movement, not to mention killing more than 50 of the group's imprisoned leaders.

These things have been par for course in post-9/11 representative democracies these days, but in Hong Kong, where all of the meaningful political leaders are appointed by the architects of the sprawling socialist state just over the border, the whole thing seems a bit more sinister. After all, in theory, in the United States, if we don't like the alterations to our basic rights that our government has made on our behalf, we can just kick the leaders out in the next election cycle.

There is no similar option in Hong Kong, so they have to make their feelings known in the street. Most of the people I talked to said that they felt they had to fight for their freedoms now, on the "give `em an inch and they'll take a mile" premise, or eventually they'd have nothing left.

I had to see it for myself.

"That's just the kind of thing I'm traveling to see," I told Cindy.

So the next day, an unseasonably warm one even for semitropical Hong Kong, I made my way down the mountain from my hostel home and into the city to the huge park. It sits just west of the city center, on the ocean, surrounded by 50-story high-rise apartments framed by the jungle slopes that dominate the center of the island.

At first it seemed like nothing was going to happen. I walked the park, stopped to listen to an impassioned speech in Cantonese delivered by an white-bearded man surrounded by a sea of umbrellas.

And then, the march arrived.

It had started at the old city hall, maybe a kilometer away. A huge solemn thing, broken by the occasional shrill chant, it broke upon the park like a dark tidal sea, sweeping in through every conceivable entrance toward the large open field at the park's center.

With the heat, the smell, bodies packed so tight I couldn't move, and waves of speeches and songs breaking over us, I began to feel I was drowning in what was a largely incomprehensible political fervor. It was frightening.

Eventually, I ran out of water in my backpack Nalgene bottle and fought my way free, emotionally and physically exhausted by the heat.

Andrew Edwards with cameraThe next day the front page of Hong Kong's South China Morning Post had a full color picture of the crowd and a banner headline proclaiming "500,000 March in Protest." A full-color magazine featuring pictures of the day's events hit the streets almost immediately. But strangely, or perhaps predictably, there was no mention of the massive event in China's mainland press.

"Article 23 Good for Hong Kong," the China Daily proclaimed, quoting a Communist Party official in a style that reminded me of how the U.S. media treats the dubious pronouncements of the Bush administration.

Several days later, in Chengdu, I watched a television account of the day's events, which had been timed to coincide with the sixth anniversary of Hong Kong's return to China. The cameras blindly followed the actions of smiling officials at the staged commemoration where the march started, when in front of them, behind the cameras, unmentioned crowds of placard-waving protesters went unseen.

Edwards (pictured) left the Journal staff last month to travel the world. Arts and Entertainment Editor Bob Doran saw an item in the New York Times about the protest and forwarded it to Edwards, who replied, "Did I know about it? I was there!"

Airport manager dies

Teresa Askew, interim manager of the Eureka/Arcata Airport, died July 3 of heart complications, just three days before what would have been her 47th birthday.

Although Askew had a heart condition, her death came as a surprise; co-workers said that she seemed to be in good health.

Askew stepped into the role as airport manager in April. Her position at the airport is currently being filled by airport staff members while a replacement is sought. She is survived by her 20-year-old son, Lucas Askew, who has been serving in the armed forces in Iraq, and her fiancé, Steve Jacobs of Fieldbrook. Services took place Wednesday in Crescent City.

Crash kills two

Two people died when two pick-up trucks collided Sunday evening -- one of a rash of recent accidents on Highway 101.

Shawn Doty, 20, of Carlotta, and his passenger Kenneth Pullen, 18, of Fortuna, were driving a Toyota about 9 p.m. the wrong way on southbound 101 near Scotia when they crashed head-on into a Ford Ranger, killing its driver, Michael Belmont, 43, of Shively, and passenger, Lisa Carlson, 37, of Loleta. Doty was reportedly under the influence of alcohol and is being charged with felony DUI, the CHP reported.

On July 3, a McKinleyville woman rear-ended a tractor carrying a trailer loaded with hay that was traveling at a very slow speed northbound near the Mad River Bridge. The driver of the tractor, John Perkins III, 42, of McKinleyville, was charged with driving under the influence; he was uninjured. The woman, Jessie Spallino, 25, was treated at Mad River Hospital for injuries.

In an attempt to avoid the accident, a Toyota Corolla stopped short and was hit from behind by a dump truck. The driver of the Toyota, Rebecca Browning, 22, of McKinleyville, was treated for injuries at Mad River Hospital.

A third accident occurred about 5:20 p.m. on July 2 when a big-rig collided with a car on southbound 101 near the Mad River Bridge. No injuries were reported, but the big-rig blocked southbound lanes for several hours.

Economic numbers down

Lumber manufacturing and home sales were down in May from the previous month, though home prices continued to skyrocket.

Lumber manufacturing, a measure reflecting both lumber production and employment, was off 7.2 percent in May, according to the Index of Economic Activity for Humboldt County, a report compiled by the economics department at Humboldt State.

Hotel/motel occupancy also slipped, by 2.3 percent, and unemployment was at 6.2 percent.

Home sales slowed in May from April's feverish pace, falling by 13.9 percent, but prices kept rising. The median price of a single-family home in Humboldt County shot up 12.4 percent in the month of May alone, to $213,500. That's $40,000 higher than in May 2002. The current statewide median sale price is $369,290.

The higher prices are bad news, of course, for Humboldt County residents who have not yet purchased a home. Only 33 percent of county residents can now afford the median-priced home -- down from close to half in 1999.

Penalties for protesters

Criminal cases involving those arrested in protests over Pacific Lumber's logging in Freshwater this spring have had a variety of outcomes -- from 10-day jail sentences to acquittal.

Naomi Wagner, 58, of Petrolia, was convicted July 1 of resisting arrest, but her attorney, Ed Denson, made a motion Tuesday for a new trial. Denson is alleging prosecutorial misconduct and judicial error in the case, because prosecutor Ed Borg failed to give the defense a videotape that he referred to when questioning Wagner on the stand, Wagner said.

The trial for Wagner's co-defendant, Amy Gershman, 28, resulted in a hung jury on charges of resisting arrest and of trespassing, and Wagner's jury was deadlocked on the trespassing charge. Gershman's trespassing charge will be reduced from a misdemeanor to an infraction, for which she will pay $27. The prosecution dropped the resisting arrest charge.

One protester's charges were dropped in mid-trial. Three others received 10-day jail sentences that were reduced to one day. Another, Jeanette Jungers, 50, of Eureka, accepted a plea bargain for a $500 fine and 20 hours of community service.

Others agreed to 40 hours of community service and probation.

Plea for cash

The DA's office and Humboldt County General Services Department each requested more money for their services from the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

While the board voted to reclassify some of the positions in the General Services Department, it did not take action on the DA's request for funding for a misdemeanor attorney for the county.

The DA's office, which was operating with 16 attorneys in March 2002, currently has 13 attorneys on staff. District Attorney Paul Gallegos noted that since that time, the caseload has increased by 23 percent, leaving his office overworked, with felony attorneys juggling the overflow of misdemeanor cases.

The supervisors argued that the county is fiscally strapped to the limit, but said they will continue to monitor the overburdened DA's office and possibly take action if the situation becomes more desperate.

Firefighters receive grants

Rep. Mike Thompson announced last week that two Humboldt fire departments have been awarded federal grant money to buy new equipment.

Beginnings Fire Department in Redway received $48,960 and Orleans Fire Department was given $16,978 from the 2003 Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, which is administered by the Department of Homeland Security.

"Our equipment was literally in tatters," Beginnings Fire Chief Tim Olsen said. "This grant allows us to protect our protectors."

The firefighters grant program is awarding $750 million to fire departments across the country.

Media group wins prize

A radio program produced by The Mainstream Media Project, an Arcata-based nonprofit public education group, was a surprise winner last month at the New York Festivals, the largest international competition for communications and media production.

The half-hour radio program, which featured an interview with a fourth-generation shrimp fisherwoman from south Texas named Diane Wilson, was awarded the Gold WorldMedal as the best work on environmental topics for 2003.

The program, one of an ongoing series called "A World of Possibilities," was produced by Chuck Rogers and hosted by Mark Sommer. In it, Wilson told of her ultimately triumphant struggle against a large polluting chemical company.

The competition made no distinctions between media of different sizes; small producers were judged side-by-side with media giants like the BBC, Deutsche Welle, National Public Radio and the American networks.

Nix on burn barrels

Burn barrel regulations are about to change.

The new state rules, which take effect in January and apply to all but the most rural residents, prohibit the use of residential burn barrels. People will still be allowed to burn brush and vegetation under certain conditions, officials said.

The changes were necessary because some residents burn materials that they are not supposed to burn. The biggest problem is plastics -- which spew cancer-causing dioxins into the air.

About 90 percent of all residents of Humboldt, Del Norte and Trinity counties will be subject to the new rules, which are being described in a series of public workshops presented by the North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District. The last two meetings are scheduled for the following dates: July 10, 6 p.m., at the Crescent Fire Protection District Meeting Hall, 255 Washington Blvd., Crescent City; July 11, 6 p.m., at the meeting rooms of the Trinity County Library, 211 No. Main St., Weaverville.

The local air quality board is scheduled to vote to implement the new law on July 18. That meeting will be held at 1:30 p.m. at the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors chambers, 825 Fifth St., Eureka.



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