STORY | CALENDAR
August 28, 2003
recall you haven't heard about
LOLETA -- The recall election
people are talking about in these parts has nothing to do with
the governor or the District Attorney.
The Bear River Band of the Rohnerville
Rancheria will vote soon on a recall of two members of its tribal
council -- a dispute involving two half-sisters who live just
down the street from each other on the 60-acre parcel these Native
Americans call home.
The tribal council was expected
to hold a meeting Wednesday so that the recall petition could
be handed over to a representative of the League of Women Voters,
which has been asked to handle the election.
Brenda Bowie, the recall's main
proponent, alleges that her half-sister, Aileen Meyer, and Meyer's
fellow tribal council member, Margaret Thomas, Bowie's niece,
have overstepped their power by abolishing committees and changing
the tribal enrollment procedures.
"It's disbanding the entire
way the tribe runs its operations," Bowie said.
On the flip side, Meyer denies
any power-grabbing and maintains that Bowie started the recall
after the tribal council decided she made too much money to stay
in her low-rent tribal house -- one of 19 homes on the tribe's
land off Singley Road in Loleta.
"That's what sparked it
off," Meyer said. "In 1997, the tribe got a grant from
HUD [the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development].
That grant specifically stated it was for low-income people to
receive that housing."
Bowie was allowed to move in
temporarily at $250 a month, at a time when she was in transition
between homes, even though her Caltrans job put her above the
income limit. (Her rent has since been doubled.)
The trouble is, she never left.
The council determined that
Bowie could buy the three-bedroom house if she wanted (but not
the land, held in trust by the tribe). However, they said the
sale would require a vote of all 237 members of the tribe, most
of whom are scattered outside the Loleta property. Bowie opposes
such a vote.
Meanwhile, HUD has told the
tribe it must resolve the status of Bowie's house soon, Meyer
said. She said future grants, like one slated for development
of a 33-unit apartment complex in Fortuna, depend on it.
"If we lose that money,
those apartments will not be built," she said.
Complicating matters is a dispute
over a casino that the tribe hoped to build. Construction actually
started on a site, but stalled after the project hit a legal
snag involving the title of the property. The tribe was left
with a $3 million debt to investors.
According to Meyer, the debt
is the fault of the previous administration -- which includes
Bowie, who served as tribal chairperson.
Bowie said she had nothing to
do with the casino -- and, in fact, resigned from her position
when the project started.
Now, Bowie said, Meyer has alienated
tribal members by notifying them that it is their responsibility
to pay back the $3 million -- at a cost of about $8,000 a piece.
"The money was mismanaged
completely, and now look at us," Bowie said.
For tribal members, the whole
thing reeks of corruption.
"There's some crazy things
going on up here," said Leslie Bowie Sr., 37, a nephew of
Brenda Bowie and Meyer. "We started a pad out there [for
the casino], then the backers backed out for some reason. How
hard is it to get an investor in here? There's some bad business
going on somewhere. Somebody getting paid off."
Like Californians who cringe
at the attention the governor's recall has brought to the "fruit
and nut" state, tribal members -- including Meyer and Bowie
-- expressed regret that outsiders had heard about their internal
"The whole future depends
on the tribe doing their economic development," Meyer said.
"The things that come out in the papers make it look bad,
that the tribal council can't run the business. You should keep
your dirty laundry at home."
The man who would be governor
Darin Price is Humboldt's
only candidate in the Davis recall
the carnival that has become the effort to recall Gov. Gray Davis,
Darin Price is, at best, a minor sideshow, someone whose name
recognition is anemic even on his home turf, Humboldt County.
Still, the 40-year-old, Birkenstock-wearing
Humboldt State chemistry instructor has the confidence of a heavyweight
contender and no fear of getting in the recall ring with former
Mr. Universe Arnold Schwarzenegger.
"Arnold would be foolish
to debate me. I would terminate him. I would out-speak him on
every issue there is," Price said.
The only Humboldt candidate
in the recall race, and one of just two from the Natural Law
Party, Price said he simply couldn't resist the temptation to
run for California's highest elected office.
"I had this compulsion
that ate at me for a week before I decided to do it," he
explained. "It was just calling at me and I couldn't fight
it. In my life I go with my intuition, I follow my heart and
Price is running even though
he is opposed to the recall. "I think Davis is doing a horrific
job but I don't think that he has done anything criminal to deserve
"The state made the decision
to elect Davis," he went on. "When you decide to put
a dirty sock in your mouth you need to live with the foul taste."
So why is Price in the race?
"I'm running because [the
recall] was going to happen anyway and the North Coast needs
representation," Price said. "I think that it's important
to get someone in Sacramento who can make changes and do a better
job, and I can do both those things."
OK, so much for motivation.
Now what about the issues?
Following the mantra of the
Natural Law Party, which is partially based in the practice of
Transcendental Meditation and has 43,000 members in California,
Price advocates organic agriculture, preventative health care
and renewable energy among other "progressive" causes.
Control over North Coast water
is a big issue for Price. In particular, he doesn't like the
fact that water from the North Coast is diverted to Central Valley
irrigators. "Sacramento is hot, it's like a desert. [You
see] huge fields flooded with water to grow rice in the central
valley. That's just plain wrong; it's not the right crop for
that area. It's just not cost efficient to take water from one
watershed and put it into another.
"They could switch crops,
go to organic farming and the water would never have to be diverted
to another place. It's just another example of a lose-lose-lose
situation that could be win-win-win."
While Price shares many of his
viewpoints with Natural Law members -- a party he describes as
a mixture of Republicans, Greens and a sprinkling of Libertarian
-- he insists that he is not a mouthpiece for the party.
While he is well within the
party's platform on abortion -- he's pro-choice -- he's beyond
the pale when it comes to the death penalty, which he supports.
Above all, Price says he is
qualified to tackle California's budget mess. Why? Because he
has served on a finance committee at HSU. And because he is,
by nature, thrifty.
"If you have a leader like
me, who is a truly frugal person, who uses creativity and comes
up with new ideas, you can make changes," Price said.
"Truly frugal" is
evidenced by his 1990 Geo Metro, which, he brags, gets 35 miles
to the gallon.
His plan of action regarding
the state budget is to not spend one penny unless a penny is
taken from another program -- the $99 billion that taxpayers
shell out for government programs is enough, he said. With that
tack, he argued, the $12 billion budget shortfall foreseen for
next year could be easily balanced if no new funds are spent.
As the Oct. 7 vote approaches,
Price seems likely to remain hopeful.
"If every voter chooses
who they think is the best candidate, if they read the entire
voter's pamphlet and can see beyond choice A or B, then there's
no telling what will happen."
The owner of the Eureka Inn,
John Edward Biord, has been charged with misappropriating over
$117,000 in transient taxes collected at the hotel and owed to
the city of Eureka.
The felony violations allegedly
took place between Jan. 1, 2002, and June 30, 2003.
Assistant District Attorney
Tim Stoen, head of the office's White Collar Fraud and Economic
Crimes Unit, said that owners of hotels hold transient tax receipts
in trust for local government, but otherwise may not touch them.
"Under the law, the transient
tax is a debt owed by a guest directly to the city or county,"
Stoen said. "Once this trust money is used by an innkeeper
for his own purpose, a crime has been committed."
The investigation that led to
the charges against Biord was conducted jointly by the DA's office
and the Eureka Police Department.
Biord will be arraigned in Humboldt
County Superior Court on Sept. 10. If convicted, he could face
up to five years in prison.
The family of Carole and Juli
Sund, two of the three tourists killed by Cary Stayner at Yosemite
National Park, will receive $1 million in a settlement reached
last week with Stayner's employer.
Jens Sund of Eureka filed a
wrongful death suit in 1999, several months after the murders,
against the Cedar Lodge, the motel where the Sunds were staying
with their friend, Silvina Pelosso of Argentina.
Zach Zwerdling, attorney for
the Sunds, said his client was "very relieved" with
the ending of the case.
"This has been a very difficult,
emotional experience for him, just keeping the case alive and
having to rehear the facts," Zwerdling said of Jens Sund.
The suit alleged that the Cedar
Lodge was negligent in allowing Stayner, a seasonal employee,
to have access to a master key on the day of the killings --
even though he had been laid off that morning, Zwerdling said.
Though Stayner was let into
the room by Carole Sund, and did not use the key to enter, he
confessed that he entered other rooms as part of a ruse, Zwerdling
"He pretended he was talking
to people in adjacent rooms, to lull Mrs. Sund into a sense of
security that he was who he said he was. That was really the
most important factual issue we had," he said.
The money will go to Jens Sund
and the couple's three remaining children, who are now 18, 17
and 15. Juli Sund was 15 when she was killed.
Zwerdling said they would probably
use the funds for college and counseling.
The Pelosso family reportedly
rejected another settlement offer for a much smaller amount.
Stayner was convicted last year
of the three murders, for which he received the death penalty.
He also received a life sentence for the Yosemite killing of
park nature guide Joie Armstrong, 26.
On a swing though the region
Tuesday, Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Napa) thanked the Humboldt County
Board of Supervisors for supporting his efforts in the fight
over Klamath River water issues.
"We would have gotten nowhere
without a strong cadre of allies throughout the state,"
he told the board. "Your good work is to be commended."
Thompson said good progress
was being made to avoid a repeat of last year's tragic fish kill
on the Klamath, in which over 30,000 salmon died due to low flows
on the river.
The congressman told the board
that tensions over the issue -- which pits inland farmers with
coastal fishing interests -- are not as acute in Washington,
D.C., as people are led to believe.
"It's sometimes portrayed
as the nasty, rotten environmentalists versus the good, God-fearing
farmers," Thompson said. "But no one on the Hill actually
A recent Wall Street Journal
article on the Klamath water fight, which described how the Bush
administration played a large role in last year's water allocation
negotiations, effectively showed how the final allocation of
water was based more on politics than science, Thompson said.
Meanwhile, the Bureau of Reclamation
last week said that it would release an additional 33,000 acre-feet
of Trinity River water into the Klamath-Trinity river system
this fall in an attempt to prevent another fish kill.
The Humboldt County Sheriff's
Department has issued an arrest warrant for area resident Blake
Edward Chase following a double attempted homicide and carjacking
episode in Southern Humboldt on Aug. 21.
According to the two victims
-- one of whom was Michael Osborne, 24, of Fresno -- they had
been relaxing near the river in Dyerville when they fell into
conversation with a man who called himself "Blake."
When the two got into their
car to leave, the man later identified as Chase jumped into the
back seat of their car, pulled out a gun and opened fire. The
second victim escaped injury, but Osborne was shot in the neck.
"Chase" then drove off in the victims' vehicle.
The two hitchhiked to the Redcrest
Store, where they notified authorities. Osborne was later treated
for his wounds and released from the hospital the next day.
The suspect, is described as
20 years of age, 6 feet, 3 inches tall, 240 pounds, with a shaved
head and a stubble beard. He was last seen wearing a black baseball
cap, a blue basketball jersey, blue polo shorts and black Nike
The stolen car is a white, four-door
2003 Hyundai Sonata, California license plate number 5CBA044.
Chase was described by the Sheriff's
Department as armed and dangerous. Anyone with information should
contact the department immediately at 445-7251.
The family of missing marijuana
activist Chris Giauque has issued a public plea for people in
the Spy Rock Road area of northern Mendocino County to come forward
with any information about the missing man.
Giauque, a Southern Humboldt
resident, was last seen in the Spy Rock area, where he had driven
to meet a friend on Aug. 9.
Last weekend, Giauque's brother
Clint, a resident of Arcata, drove to Spy Rock Road with about
10 of Chris's friends to introduce himself to the community and
ask for their assistance.
"I know Chris wouldn't
want a big law enforcement presence in the Spy Rock community,"
Clint Giauque said. "I'm hoping anyone with information
would offer it up so we could avoid having a bunch of officers
running around down there."
Brenda Gainey, spokesperson
for the Humboldt County Sheriff's Department, said on Monday
that department heads and detectives were meeting to discuss
what they had learned so far in the case.
Chris Giauque is 6 feet, 2 inches
tall, weighs approximately 150 pounds, has a full beard and mustache
and 4-foot dreadlocks. At the time of his disappearance, he was
driving a 1994 blue Toyota four-wheel-drive pickup.
Anyone with any information
is urged to call the Humboldt County Sheriff's Department, the
Mendocino County Sheriff's Department or -- in the event that
they may be uncomfortable talking to law enforcement -- Clint
Giauque. His number is 822-4415.
The Giauque family is offering
a reward of $50,000 for information that leads to the discovery
of Giauque's whereabouts.
Trinidad's Wagner Street Trail,
the subject of a long and costly dispute between the city and
resident John Frame, will remain closed for the time being.
On Tuesday, Judge J. Michael
Brown of the Humboldt County Superior Court denied an emergency
motion to reopen the trail brought by the state of California
In papers filed with the court,
Deputy Attorney General Christine Tiedemann -- who represents
the California Coastal Commission and the California State Coastal
Conservancy -- argued that the city made an "egregiously
illegal decision" when it decided to block public access
to the trail earlier this month.
The Coastal Conservancy owns
a public access easement on the land that the closed trail passes
through. State officials have charged that the City Council had
no right to unilaterally take that access away.
In addition, Tiedemann wrote
that the city violated the Brown Act when it declared the trail
a "public nuisance," given that no notice was given
to residents that such a declaration was imminent, and that calling
the trail a nuisance was merely a convenient fiction used by
the city to settle the Frame lawsuit.
"I don't want to be pejorative,
but it's a backroom deal without notice to the proper parties,"
A June 18 proclamation that
authorized Councilmember Chi-Wei Lin to pursue a settlement with
Frame said "the city does not have the financial resources
to take the case of Frame v. Trinidad and related actions to
trial." No mention was made of a public nuisance, which
Frame and now the city allege could come from geological collapse
of the hill on which the trail sits.
Brown denied the state's emergency
request on the grounds that leaving the trail closed while the
case is heard causes no irreparable damage to the state, but
said that the state's arguments were "interesting"
and may well prevail, eventually.
But after the hearing, Frame
attorney Bill Barnum disputed the idea that abatement of a public
nuisance required full notification as required by the Brown
Act. If a sewer main breaks, he said, the city is entitled to
enter private property and repair it with or without the owner's
"There are times when a
municipality is entitled to act summarily," Barnum said.
The city of Arcata will hold
a town forum Tuesday on whether the City Council should call
for the impeachment of President George Bush and Vice President
The meeting is scheduled for
7 p.m. in the Senior Dining Room of the Community Center.
The City Council discussed the
matter at its meeting last week, when Councilmember Dave Meserve
proposed it. Meserve said the president and vice president deserve
to be kicked out for "high crimes and misdemeanors"
involving the war on Iraq.
Meserve and Mayor Bob Ornelas
were outspoken in favor of the resolution.
The three other council members
-- Elizabeth Conner, Connie Stewart and Michael Machi -- agreed
to endorse a town meeting on the issue if it did not involve
the expenditure of city money or staff time.
The forum will be televised
on public access Channel 12, and viewers will have an opportunity
to call in with comments, Meserve said.
In last week's cover story ("Mistaking the Enemy,"
Aug. 21) and in an accompanying photo caption, Dr. Ted Humphry's
name was misspelled. [The online version has been corrected.]
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