August 14, 2003
by HANK SIMS
If all goes according to plan, Humboldt County -- and Eureka residents especially -- will have a new source of news in the next couple of weeks.
Eureka businessman Rob Arkley is financing the Eureka Reporter, an all-Eureka, all-the-time web site that Arkley says will eventually make its way into newsprint.
The Reporter is starting out with a staff of three journalists, all veterans of the Humboldt County news scene. The managing editor will be Glenn Simmons, most recently of KINS Radio. He has previously worked for the Times-Standard, the Humboldt Beacon and the Arcata Union, among other publications.
Wendy Butler, known for her arts coverage on KHSU and in other outlets, and Christine Benson, formerly of the Humboldt Beacon, are the staff writers.
Simmons said last week that the Reporter would have an intense focus on the greater Eureka area, including coverage of local government, politics and youth sports.
The Reporter's slogan is "Real News by Real People."
"We are local people writing the news," said Simmons. "It's not wired news, it's not canned news, it's just local news."
Arkley is the founder of Security National Servicing Corp., a financial services business. With his wife, former City Councilmember Cherie Arkley, he is well known for his charitable contributions to the city of Eureka and for his forays into the downtown Eureka real estate market.
Monied potentates with a hankering to get into the news business are the stuff of legend. In the early 20th century, Gen. Harrison Gray Otis and his progeny -- great boosters of the tiny town of Los Angeles -- used their Los Angeles Times to transform the burg into the megalopolis of the West Coast. The most famous fictional example, Charles Foster Kane in Orson Welles' film, Citizen Kane, was based on William Randolph Hearst, owner of the San Francisco Examiner and numerous other "yellow" journals.
But Arkley insists that Simmons -- who he said was "well known for covering both sides of a story" -- would have a free hand and complete editorial independence.
"[The paper] is simply not related to our other businesses," Arkley said.
On Tuesday, Times-Standard Managing Editor Charles Winkler said that he looked forward to seeing the Eureka Reporter, and said that competition keeps everyone sharp.
"We certainly wish Mr. Arkley luck," he said. "It should be exciting."
The Eureka Reporter will be found at www.eurekareporter.com.
by HANK SIMS
Humboldt County rolled out the welcome mat for Sen. Barbara Boxer earlier this week -- and if the local citizenry were enthused about her visit, the weather seemed positively ecstatic.
After a day touring Crescent City, Boxer came down Highway 101 for a fund-raising event at the Eureka Inn Monday night, followed the next morning by a cruise of Humboldt Bay under brilliant sunshine with the U.S. Coast Guard and a visit to Eureka's Alice Birney Elementary School.
Left to right: Peter La Valle, mayor of Eureka; unnamed Boxer aide; Sen. Barbara Boxer; David Hull, executive director of the Humboldt Bay Harbor District. Aboard a Coast Guard research vessel in Humboldt Bay.
To her supporters at the fund-raiser, the senator came bearing gifts. Most of the attendees were members of the environmental activist community, and they wanted to hear Boxer speak on the "California Wild Heritage Wilderness Act of 2003," a bill she introduced earlier this month.
When she stepped up to address a crowd of about 150 in the Eureka Inn's PALCO Room, however, the senator's first message was an unequivocal recommendation to California voters on the issue that is overshadowing all others.
"No on the recall, yes on (Lt. Gov. Cruz) Bustamante!" she said.
Unlike most of the state's other high-ranking Democrats, Boxer said that she had always favored putting a member of the party on the ballot in case the effort to recall Gov. Gray Davis -- which she consideres a waste of both time and money -- were to succeed.
"I always said we needed to have a backup," she said. "Now we have a strategy. We have a wonderful man who will make history if this recall goes through."
The bulk of her talk, though, was dedicated to the environment, and her new wilderness bill, introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Mike Thompson, was topic number one.
The bill would add 2.5 million acres of public lands in 81 different California locations to the list of federally designated "wilderness areas." These areas would then be exempted from new logging and mining operations and the construction of new roads. They would also be off-limits to all motorized equipment, including vehicles.
Boxer said she expected the bill to meet stiff resistance from Republicans, but she promised to "work very hard to push this through." She urged supporters of the bill not to lose hope -- a similar bill that focused on the Central Coast area succeeded last year, despite Republican opposition.
Some activists came from as far away as Trinity County and southern Oregon to "support and thank" the senator.
David Rose, a member of the South Fork Trinity Land Conservancy and a resident of Mad River, said that the event was more than a chance to express his gratitude for Boxer's work on wilderness issues -- it was also a great forum for meeting other activists and seeking support for his group.
On Tuesday morning, Boxer met with local elected officials and members of their staffs at the Coast Guard headquarters in Samoa. Supervisor Bonnie Neely made a quick presentation arguing for federal funding to rebuild the Buckhorn grade on Highway 299 so that it can accommodate larger trucks.
Boxer was impressed, and immediately assigned the project to one of her aides. "You have made a very brilliant case for this," she said. "Trade is so crucial. It's the backbone of the California economy."
After the meeting, it was all aboard Coast Guard Lifeboat #47217 for a cruise across the bay to the Adorni Center. Neely was among those who made the trip across with the senator. Seas were flat, and the sun poured 70 degrees of happiness down onto the party.
"I think her response today was wonderful," Neely said. "I think she could see that we're not on an equal footing with other areas of California."
Up in the boat's cabin, Eureka Mayor Peter La Vallee, Eureka City Manager Dave Tyson and David Hull, executive director of the Humboldt Bay Harbor District, pointed out to the senator new developments along the Eureka waterfront.
Boxer remarked how pleasant it had been to walk along the boardwalk early that morning, then echoed a sentiment she had made the previous night -- something to the effect that it had been too long since she was last in the county, and that she was so pleased to see the changes that had taken place.
If there are any Humboldt County residents who wish to replace Gov. Gray Davis with a local person, they now have an official candidate.
McKinleyville resident Darin Price, a chemistry lecturer at Humboldt State University, will be among the more than 150 California residents whose names will appear on the Oct. 7 recall ballot.
"Recalls need to be reserved for extreme circumstances," Price, a member of the Natural Law Party, said on Monday. "However, there is going to be a recall, and I think that our issues -- timber, fisheries -- need to be represented."
Price said that he has a "lot of experience with numbers," and cited his years spent on HSU's finance committee as one of his principal qualifications for office. He also noted that he has been a teacher for the last 15 years, and that he served in student government when he attended HSU as an undergraduate.
The candidate has a web site -- www.priceforgov.com -- for people who are interested in learning more about his platform.
Rumors that Arcata resident Doug Thron, who ran for state assembly on the Green Party ticket in 2002, would also run proved to be unfounded.
Thron said that he had taken out papers for the race only as an emergency measure, in case Peter Camejo, last year's Green Party candidate for the office, decided not to run. Camejo eventually decided that he would seek to replace Davis in October.
"I would never run against Peter," Thron said.
The Eureka Police Department announced last week that it had arrested three individuals for the 2002 murder of Eureka resident Nathan Dannemiller -- his former in-laws.
Douglas and Marcella Lunsford, his ex-wife's parents, and Charles Lunsford, her brother, were arrested in Bradford, Tenn., on Aug. 6 -- exactly one year after the crime -- by a team of Humboldt County law enforcement officials. The Lunsfords were charged with murder and conspiracy, with the additional aggravating charges of lying in wait and murder of a witness.
Dannemiller was shot to death outside his Del Norte Street apartment on the morning of Aug. 6, 2002. At the time, he was involved in a custody dispute with Chastity Dannemiller over their two children.
In October 2001, Douglas Lunsford was charged with an earlier attempt on Dannemiller's life in Trinity County. The jury in that trial could not reach a verdict, however, and Lunsford was not convicted.
Humboldt County Deputy District Attorney Andrew Isaac said that his office would be seeking a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole for the Lunsfords.
The Arcata City Council has thrown its weight behind two new hiking and biking trail routes that would be located along railroad tracks.
At its regular meeting on Wednesday, the council approved two letters to the North Coast Railroad Authority in support of trails along the authority's right-of-way.
In the first case, the council asked the NCRA to "rail bank" its right-of-way between Arcata and Korbel, a stretch commonly called the Arcata & Mad River, or "Annie and Mary," Railroad. According to City Manager Dan Hauser, the "rail bank" option would allow work on the "Annie and Mary Trail" to begin, with the NCRA maintaining its rights to someday reopen rail service between the towns.
In the second, the council asked the NCRA to support the city's own "rails and trails" plan, in which hiking and biking paths would be placed alongside tracks within the city limits.
The NCRA has not yet responded to the city's requests.
In an effort to avoid last year's massive fish kill on the Klamath River, the Trinity Management Council has filed plans to supplement the Klamath's fall flow with 50,000 acre-feet of water from the Trinity River, if needed.
The additional water from the Trinity was provided by Judge Oliver Wanger, a federal district court judge based in Fresno, who is currently hearing a lawsuit over the allocation of Trinity River water.
The Klamath and Trinity rivers meet at Weitchpec, located on the Yurok reservation. [This has been corrected from the original version, which misstated Weitchpec's location.]
Tim McKay, president of the Northcoast Environmental Center, called the process a "stop-gap measure," but one that should prevent the tragedy from recurring this year.
Meanwhile, it was widely reported last week that Karl Rove, President Bush's chief political strategist, played a personal role in last year's dispute over Klamath River water in which upstream irrigators received plenty while downstream users -- and endangered fish -- did not.
"My original reaction was, `Oh yeah, this is how they do things in the White House,'" McKay said. "It struck me that they would take the side of the haves in the water struggle."
The Coalition for the Klamath Basin, an umbrella group of which the NEC is a member, has requested that the federal government provide them with all documents that pertain to Rove's role in the dispute.
Last year, Michael Kelly, an Arcata resident and a National Marine Fisheries Service biologist, filed a complaint under the Federal Whistleblower's Protection Act after charging that he was pressured into endorsing a plan that gave inadequate protection to Klamath fisheries.
See CORRECTION on this news item
At its regular Tuesday meeting next week, the Eureka City Council will look at two proposals for the fishermen's work area at the foot of C Street.
One, which was narrowly endorsed last week by the city's Redevelopment Advisory Board, is a 33,000-square-foot, two-story building that would bring the old Lazio Seafood Restaurant back to the waterfront.
The project, by Eureka developers Greg Pierson and Larry DeBeni, includes a fishermen's work area, fresh fish market and cafe, and marine retail and gift shops on the lower level. The upper level would house the resurrected Lazio's and office space.
A second, more modest one-story project, by J.P. and Associates of Auburn, Calif., was not endorsed by the Redevelopment Advisory Board even though it won unanimous approval from the committee that ranked the projects.
That project more narrowly focuses on fish processing and a fresh fish market with little retail and no restaurant.
One committee member, speaking on background, said the city's plan for waterfront development attempts to separate the fish processing/work area from the retail establishments and restaurants that may be bothered by the smell. He also noted that from C Street east to F Street, there are currently three major projects under development that incorporate retail and restaurants.
Henry Cho, owner of the Eagle House, says the larger, two-story project would block his view.
Some downtown business owners asked the Arcata City Council last week to incorporate public toilets into a plan to "streetscape" the core of the city.
The council, in turn, referred the matter back to the merchants for design suggestions and ideas about what has become the critical issue: how to maintain the privies.
"That's the crux of it," said City Manager Dan Hauser in a telephone interview Tuesday.
Two public restrooms in the city's transit station just a block and a half off the Plaza were closed last year.
"We had to pay bonus pay to city workers to clean them because of fecal material," Hauser said. "They were being used as daytime sleeping quarters and party facilities for groups of people with common interests. There were a lot of smoking material and syringes [left behind]."
Hauser said the city earlier this year reached an agreement regarding toilets with the North Coast Growers Association that puts on the weekly farmers' market every Saturday through October.
The Arcata Endeavor, a nonprofit that runs the Arcata Service Center across from the ballpark, agreed to keep its restroom open during the market hours. In addition, the city rents a handicapped accessible portable toilet for $300 a month that is placed in the city lot behind F Street.
"It's only serviced on Friday before the market, so about Wednesday you wouldn't want to go in it," Hauser added.
Restrooms have been harder to find in recent years because many merchants have quit allowing public access. Due to requirements of the federal Americans With Disabilities Act, if a restroom is open to the public, it must meet all requirements for wheelchair accessibility. Many existing businesses do not.
Eureka and Ferndale have also struggled with how to provide public restroom facilities. Hauser said that Eureka has "major, major" problems keeping the restroom on the gazebo in Old Town clean and in working order.
Hauser said the toilet discussion last week did produce some interesting ideas, including a European-style facility with a full-time attendant and installing pay toilets with timers.
Any suggestions will be referred to the Arcata Mainstreet Design Committee, he said.
It appears that the city of Trinidad's long-running and costly legal dispute with resident John Frame has come to an end.
At a special meeting Monday night, the city council voted 3-2 to settle a lawsuit brought by Frame concerning the Wagner Street Trail, which wends along the city's steep bluffs down to the sea, by permanently closing a portion of the trail.
In settling, the city recognized scientific studies commissioned by Frame which concluded that continued use of the trail would likely result in serious geological damage to one of the bluffs. However, Frame's main reason for opposing the trail was that it passed through his property.
Frame was supported in the dispute by the Tsurai Ancestral Society, which represents descendants of the original residents of the Trinidad area.
© Copyright 2003, North Coast Journal, Inc.