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Sept. 2, 2004
T H E
W E E K L Y W R A P
GMO CROP: A sign on the edge of dairy rancher John Mason's
silage crop proudly announces the variety of seed that produced
that stand of tall, dark green plants in the Arcata Bottom --
Hytest HT7060, a variety of Roundup Ready genetically modified
corn. The corn is different from conventional corn in that it
can be sprayed with Roundup, an herbicide, without harm to the
corn. "I've got some good-looking corn this year,"
Mason said Monday evening. "We've grown corn for probably
20 years. This is probably the second-best crop we've had."
Once processed into silage, the corn will be fed to the 100-head
herd of dairy cattle that Mason runs in the Bottom. This year's
bumper crop has made a believer out of him -- and he says that
GMO is the more environmentally friendly option, too. "My
knowledge is that the non-Roundup Ready seeds -- you can spray
them too, but you have to use a 2-4-D base," which is a
considerably stronger poison, Mason said. "Quite a few people
use Roundup around their house. Not too many people use 2-4-D
around their house anymore." He said he sells his milk to
the Rumiano Cheese Company in Del Norte County. Genetically modified
agriculture is, of course, one of the hottest political debates
in the county at the moment, with an initiative that would ban
the practice set for the Nov. 2 ballot. Martha Devine, one of
the proponents of the initiative, said the news that GMO corn
was being grown on the outskirts of eco-friendly Arcata was likely
to cause a stir. "I think the citizens of Arcata would be
shocked," she said. "People have asked me before, `They're
not growing that in Arcata, are they?'" Devine said that
there are too many unanswered questions about genetically modified
organisms for the technology to be considered safe. But as the
Journal went to press, backers of the initiative were
wrestling over apparently unconstitutional flaws in its language
-- which may cause some or all of them to withdraw their support
before the November election.
AUGUST CASE UPDATE: Assistant District Attorney Tim Stoen filed a new
document Tuesday in the case against Fortuna City Councilmember
and real estate broker Debi August, who has been accused by the
Grand Jury of conflict of interest in representing a developer
before the City Council. In the memorandum, Stoen argued that
the defense "minimized" in its latest filing the testimony
of City Planner Liz Shorey, saying that Shorey testified she
had several meetings with August as the agent for the developer,
but that Shorey "did not feel that it was a big issue"
On the contrary, Stoen wrote, August wrote an e-mail to Shorey,
submitted to the Grand Jury, in which she admitted that if the
Carmen Smith subdivision is completed she will be selling the
parcels and therefore has a conflict. August also wrote an e-mail
last summer to City Manager Duane Rigge, saying that she told
Smith that her son could sell the parcels and then she would
not have a future conflict. Shorey also sent August a San
Francisco Chronicle story on a similar situation because
she wanted August to "determine if she was doing the right
thing," Stoen wrote. And Shorey sent a follow-up e-mail
to August suggesting that there could be an appearance of a conflict,
and that she would like to run it by the city attorney, Stoen
wrote. August's attorney, William Bragg, said there was nothing
wrong with what August did, since she recused herself when the
City Council voted on the development and was straight with Shorey
and other city officials on her role as agent. "[Shorey]
always knew and always treated Debi August as being an agent
of the developer; she knew that Debi was not acting as a City
Council person," Bragg said. The next hearing in the case
is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 3.
ARCATA FIRE ASSESSMENT
owners served by the Arcata Fire Protection District have rejected
that agency's plea for additional funding, while a similar measure
by the Humboldt Fire District No. 1 has succeeded. "We are
grateful and deeply honored that the public response was favorable
to this," said Chief Dave Gibbs. Chief Dave White of Arcata
said that with the failure of Arcata's benefit assessment measure,
which would have increased the tax on businesses and residents
based on the size and value of their lots, the district is looking
at a $230,000 deficit in the upcoming year. The district will
eat into its reserve funds for the time being, White said, but
will have to cut services sometime in the next couple of months.
The district will likely lay off three firefighters and take
additional measures as needed.
CASINO ROYALE: The Blue Lake
Rancheria is teaming up with a Mendocino County branch of the
Pomo Tribe on plans to build a new 100,000-square-foot casino
near the Sonoma County town of Cloverdale, the Santa Rosa
Press-Democrat reported last week. The facility would be
nearly twice the size of the Blue Lake Casino, and would house
1,500 slot machines. Under the terms of the deal, the rancheria
would manage the new casino, the Press-Democrat said.
DA TURMOIL: Two prosecutors
have resigned from the District Attorney's office, and a DA investigator
has gone on leave after filing a civil suit against the county,
DA Paul Gallegos, Assistant DA Tim Stoen, Personnel Director
Rick Haeg and chief DA investigator James Dawson. Rob Wade, a
veteran prosecutor with more than 18 years of experience in the
office, will start a new job in Napa County on Sept. 27, and
Ed Borg, one of the more recent hires, will move to a position
in Lake County next week. Neither could be reached for comment.
Meanwhile, Christine Cook, an investigator in the DA's office
and a former sheriff's deputy, has filed suit against the county
alleging discrimination based on her sex and ethnic origin (she
is of Mexican descent). Her attorney, John F. Shields Jr. of
Santa Rosa, said that Cook complained to Gallegos, Stoen and
Haeg about her treatment by her supervisor, chief investigator
James Dawson -- who allegedly referred to her as a "typical
Mexican" who needed something to get motivated in the morning,
according to the complaint -- but that nothing was done. "It
reached a point where she finally said, `Enough is enough,'"
Shields said. Gallegos did not return calls seeking comment.
EUREKA TEEN MISSING: A 15-year-old
girl from Eureka was reported missing by her family on Saturday.
Josephine West, whose nickname is "Josie," is described
as Native American, 5'1, 125 pounds with long black hair. Eureka
Police said she was recently in contact with people over the
Internet and might be out of the area. Anyone with information
is urged to call the Eureka Police Department at 441-4300.
HURRICANE KATE'S SOLD: One of Old
Town Eureka's trendiest restaurants will soon change hands. Hurricane
Kate's owner Barbara Zoellner agreed to sell the 4-year-old establishment
to Abruzzi Catering employees Elizabeth Adams and Matthew Yadley.
Zoellner, who was asking $200,000 for the restaurant, did not
disclose how much she agreed to sell for, but said that the sale
is in escrow and the change in ownership will not be official
for close to two months. Kate Chadwick, the former co-owner of
the restaurant who created most of the "world fusion"
menu, relocated to Hawaii in February of last year.
RED AND GREEN: Local Republican
poobah Mike Harvey is now in New York, adding his voice to the
chorus of Bush supporters currently partying it up in Madison
Square Garden. Harvey said last week that he was the first Humboldt
County delegate to be sent to a Republican national convention
in some time -- honors usually go to colleagues in Sonoma or
Mendocino counties, down on the south end of the 1st Congressional
District. "I feel honored to be selected. I feel I have
a responsibility to promote the re-election of Bush," Harvey
said last week, deadening for a moment the trademark glint in
his eye to signal that he was being "serious." Madison
Square Garden is like unto a watermelon this week -- Republican
red on the inside, Green outside -- and Humboldt County has been
well represented in both camps. "Dapper Dave" Meserve,
the Fox News Channel's favorite Arcata City Council member, chanted
down Babylon with hundreds of thousands on the streets of Manhattan,
while Green presidential candidate David Cobb of Eureka debated
the Libertarian Party's guy, Michael Badnarik, in a church near
FREE STUFF: A new Internet
group for county residents, called "Humboldt Freecycle,"
is designed to help reduce waste by connecting people who want
to give away items with those who can use them. Members have
posted e-mails offering such things as computer peripherals,
appliances, even a 550-gallon diesel tank. To join, send an e-mail
message to Humboldtfirstname.lastname@example.org.
SPEECH THERAPY DEGREE
RETURNS: Since Humboldt State University
discontinued its speech pathology program 12 years ago, area
elementary schools have seen a pronounced decline in speech therapy
services available to kids, according to HSU Child Development
Professor Aimee Langlois. That's why Langlois has pushed to bring
back the undergraduate program, though the classes won't actually
take place here. By way of distance learning, students will be
able to take classes at California State University at Fresno
by observing lectures in real time on television monitors in
HSU classrooms beginning in the fall of 2005. Students interested
in speech pathology should contact Langlois ASAP at email@example.com
FOREST CAUTIONS : Six
Rivers National Forest officials are advising visitors to camp
with caution this Labor Day weekend. Recently increased flows
on the Trinity River means the water is colder, higher and has
faster currents than just a week ago -- good for fish but dangerous
for people, especially children. Also, the forest service reported
an increase in abandoned campfires this week, a double no-no
considering that campfires have been restricted to paying campgrounds
since July 23 -- just days before the Sims Fire began, which
burned 4,000 acres in parts of Humboldt and Trinity counties.
An added note of caution to hikers: The forest service warns
those who trek deep into the woods to steer clear of marijuana
cultivation camps. Officials recommend that anyone who happens
upon such a garden -- some of which are surrounded by barbed
wire or rigged with booby traps -- should leave the area immediately
and report the discovery to Six Rivers Law Enforcement Patrol
Captain Diane Welton at 441-3623.
SCAM WATCH: About two
dozen Fortuna residents were victims of a phone scam last weekend,
Fortuna police reported. The caller, who sounded female, told
residents -- some of whom were phoned at 2 a.m. --
that they had an emergency call and asked if they would accept
a collect call from AT&T. Once they agreed, an automated
voice instructed them to provide a four-digit pin number for
their AT&T phone card, or their credit card and pin numbers.
Fortuna police said some people gave out the information but
were not sure whether the victims had yet been swindled of any
money. Police advised residents never to give out personal financial
information or social security numbers over the phone unless
they initiate the call. In another local scam, a nicely dressed
man who went door-to-door asking for money and offering back
rubs was arrested last week for an unrelated crime, Eureka police
reported. Mark Anthony Francisco, 44, of Eureka was taken into
custody Aug. 26 for failure to register as a drug registrant
after he moved from his previous residence in Eureka four months
ago. Francisco, who asked residents to donate to the "Francisco
Fund" and offered Swedish massages to women, faces up to
six months in jail and fines, police said.
SAVED BY A CAR SEAT? The Humboldt
County Childhood Injury Prevention Child Passenger Safety Program
is collecting local stories to educate families about the important
of child car seats. If you have a loved one who was saved or
protected from injury by a car seat or booster seat, or know
of another who has a story to tell, call the county Public Health
Branch at 445-6210.
No compromise on fish
Long-term solution eludes Klamath
It appears that there will be no Klamath fish kill
this year, thanks to cooler late summer temperatures and a last-minute
release of water down the Trinity River, but a long-term solution
to water issues on the river is still years away.
[Photo at right,
from left: Mike Orcutt, Fisheries specialist, Hoopa Tribe; Rod
McGinnis, Southwest Regional Administrator, NOAA Fisheries; Assemblymember
Patty Berg; and Congressman Mike Thompson.]
That appeared to be the conclusion
of a meeting convened and chaired by Rep. Mike Thompson at Eureka
City Hall Monday afternoon. About 150 people turned up to hear
presentations from a number of state, federal and tribal agencies
concerned with the health of the river.
Opening the meeting, Thompson
said he hoped that it would provide "good, honest discussion"
about the future of the river, whose problems had been addressed
by "piecemeal efforts" and "short-term fixes."
Assemblymember Patty Berg, who
left the meeting early due to an illness in the family, said
that a final solution to the tangle of interests on the river
"This sacred ecosystem
is on the verge of collapse," she said.
But while both Thompson and
Berg expressed hopes that collaboration between all interests
based on the river could be the basis for a solution to the problem,
some of the representatives drew a hard line. Troy Fletcher,
executive director of the Yurok Tribe, came out swinging at the
Bureau of Reclamations, which manages flows on the Klamath River,
and the federal agencies charged with safeguarding salmon runs
on the river.
"The federal government
has done a miserable job managing water in the Klamath Basin,"
he said. "We're not willing to compromise any more when
you're already killing our fish."
Fletcher also talked about an
upcoming lawsuit brought by the Yuroks and the Hoopa Valley Tribe
over the obligations of the government to meet their "tribal
trust" requirements to provide adequate fisheries resources
to the tribes. The suit, which will be heard in federal court
in Oakland, is set to go to trial this month.
"We will prove that the
federal government killed our fish in 2002," Fletcher said.
At the same time, those attending
heard from several representatives of the upstream farming community,
based in Klamath Falls, Ore., which depends on Klamath River
water to irrigate its crops.
John Eliott, a member of the
Klamath County Board of Commissioners, said that one long-term
solution to the water crisis would involve construction of additional
upstream reservoirs, which could release water at times of crisis.
He gave a presentation on plans to turn Long Lake, a shallow
body of water set in an enclosed valley near Klamath Falls, into
a Klamath storage facility capable of holding up to 500,000 acre-feet
"This isn't intended to
be agricultural water -- it's designed for the entire Klamath
system," he said. "[It's] not a silver bullet, but
it's a significant portion of a solution."
Dan Keppen, executive director
of the Klamath Water Users Association, noted that farmers upstream
had met and exceeded their obligations under the Bureau of Reclamation's
"water bank" program, in which farmers sell their water
rights back to the government for use downstream.
"We feel that we are doing
all we can to be part of a constructive solution to meet the
challenges we all face in this watershed," Keppen said.
"It's awfully difficult to see good people criticized for
trying, in their eyes, to do the right thing."
The Bureau of Reclamation's
Dave Sabo, manager of the Klamath Project, announced that there
would be two local hearings on the agency's upcoming Conservation
and Implementation Plan, the bureau's effort at striking a balance
between the needs of farmers, the fishing industry and tribes.
The hearings will be held Sept.
29 at Humboldt State University and Sept. 30 at Yurok Tribal
headquarters in Klamath.
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