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September 15, 2005

The Weekly Wrap

Hit the books
Local teacher launches Fantasy Football math text

Trinidad police investigate Salzman

Humboldt's Katrina deployment

The Weekly Wrap


ADD WATER, STIR: North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board officials and Pacific Lumber Co. each lobbed fresh ammo last week in advance of the board's public hearing in Humboldt County this week on proposed watershed-wide waste discharge requirements (permits) for timber harvest plans in the Elk River and Freshwater Creek watersheds. Palco says the reduced harvest suggested in the proposed permits will create a financial loss, and again blamed recent layoffs at its subsidiary, Scopac, on the decisions made by the regional and state water boards. Palco has sought to put off the hearing, first by asking for a three-month delay. That was denied, so on Friday Palco filed for a restraining order in Humboldt County Superior Court. Before that, on Sept. 7, Palco issued a news release accusing the water boards of overstepping their authority and ignoring the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act, which requires a look at economic considerations, among other things, when weighing timber harvest plans. "Disturbingly, the staff's proposed WWDRs do not contain any economic analysis of the impact that such an extreme harvest limitation would have on Scopac, other landowners, Palco, other timber industry operators or the community at large." Meanwhile, the regional board last week released its manifesto on those economic considerations. The regional board, echoing the state water board, says the permits will "not directly reduce the long-term income of the discharger because the same number of trees will be available for cutting at a future date, and the available board feet left standing will increase as the trees grow over time." The regional board blames the company's financial woes on "the debt the company has chosen to incur and reincur on the Scotia Pacific subsidiary, and the decision to frontload the liquidation of standing timber assets at a rate that was expressly designed to be high in the early years, dropping off over time as the standing timber assets were depleted ." Palco, wrote the board, "consciously chose a boom and bust strategy ." The board says harvest reduction could have widespread positive impacts, such as reducing the costs of fixing landslides, dredging sediment from the bay, healing destroyed fisheries, abating flooding and replacing water supplies for agricultural and domestic use. A hearing was held Tuesday afternoon on Palco's restraining order request; at press time, Judge Bruce Watson had not yet made a decision.

FDIC APPEALS FINE: The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. is appealing the $72 million in sanctions and legal costs that U.S. District Court Judge Lynn N. Hughes, in Texas, levied against it in August for its role in its case against Charles Hurwitz and Maxxam Inc., of which Pacific Lumber Co. is a subsidiary. The FDIC sued Hurwitz and Maxxam 10 years ago to regain costs incurred when the FDIC bailed out one of Hurwitz' failed savings and loans, which the FDIC alleged Hurwitz mismanaged.

The Office of Thrift Supervision sued along the same lines, and that case settled. Along the way, conservationists had proposed that, if the feds won their case against Hurwitz and Maxxam, they take some of Hurwitz' acres of redwood forest as payment. Though the FDIC backed out of the case in 2002, the "debt-for-nature" scheme, and the years spent in court, rankled Hurwitz enough that he sought his own reparation. Judge Hughes, fervently likening the federal government to "Goliath" and calling it a "corrupt agency" populated by "corrupt individuals" ordered the FDIC to pay Hurwitz $72 million. In its appeal last week to that decision, the FDIC said the judge's opinion lacked factual support.

TRIBAL HOLD 'EM: Last week, just as the Big Lagoon Rancheria announced that it had successfully negotiated a compact with Gov. Schwarzenegger to build a casino in Barstow, the specter of a potential future obstacle loomed. The Big Lagoon Rancheria, an 18-member family in Humboldt County, and the Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians (near San Diego), which also had its compact signed by the governor, plan to build two conjoined casino/hotels off-reservation in the desert town of Barstow, which has been courting Indian gaming as an economic infusion. It's an unusual deal, in many ways, and controversial. Next, their compacts must be ratified by the Legislature. But that prospect just got dicier, with last week's failure by two other tribes to get their compacts ratified. The 5,000-member Yurok Tribe, whose lands lie along the Klamath and Trinity rivers, and the 3,200-member Quechan tribe of Imperial County had negotiated compacts with the governor to build relatively small casinos for the Yurok, the first casino on their reservation, for the Quechan the third. The compacts were protested by several big gambling tribes in Southern California who feared the new, more restrictive compacts could tighten the noose around their own operations someday. The Legislature decided to put off considering the compacts until next year's session.

MAD RIVER HOSPITAL SIGNS CONTRACT: After a summer of hardball with Blue Cross, Mad River Community Hospital finally signed a four-year contract with the giant insurance carrier this month. Still, hospital officials said that they were not offered reimbursement rates as high as they hoped for. Through June and much of July, MRCH publicly complained over the hospital's Blue Cross reimbursement rates, which they said paled in comparison to the rates given to its competitor, St. Joseph Hospital. Negotiation details were not made public.

TAXPAYERS' DEAL: The Humboldt Taxpayers' League lawsuit against would-be boardwalk developers Dolores Vellutini and Glenn Goldan got a little stranger last week when Eureka resident Sue Brandenburg was named as the new plaintiff in the case. Though she was not at a special meeting held by the Eureka City Council, HTL Vice-president Jerry Partain spoke on Brandenburg's behalf, saying that, "laws are set in place, not only to protect the individual, but also to protect the public at large." OK. The watchdog organization claims the proposed waterfront developments of Vellutini and Goldan conflicted with their ties to the Eureka Redevelopment Agency. The league withdrew the lawsuit in June after a majority of the HTL loudly opposed it. Partain said that the league will lend its support to Brandenburg.

PLANE CRASH: The remains of a Thousand Oaks couple were found by foresters Sept. 2, 28 years after their airplane crashed into a redwood forest near Stafford. The couple, Norman and Beverly Wascher, took off from Murray Field airport in Eureka after visiting their daughter, who was attending Humboldt State University. The plane was not discovered until 1996, and the wreckage of their single-engine Rockwell Commander remains there, on Pacific Lumber land, nose down in the earth. The recently found remains were discovered some 300-400 yards away. Humboldt County Coroner Frank Jager said that since the couple's dental records have not been found, as their dentist is no longer in business, the Waschers have yet to be positively identified, though their identity seems conclusive. A money clip, inscribed with the name of Norman Wascher's employer, the Shale Lumber Co., was found in the pants pocket still clad to the skeletal remains. Coins in the pocket were dated before 1977. About one month after the accident, in July 1977, Northwestern Pacific Railroad crews reported to the Humboldt County sheriff that buzzards were flying above a ridge overlooking the town of Stafford. Police investigated but found no evidence of the plane crash.

OLDDIE BUT GOODIE: Marion Kofford, 93, the oldest student at Humboldt State and possibly in the world, has been getting crazy attention for her academic endeavors. A story about Kofford, written by the HSU communications department, ran on the front page of the Times-Standard on Sept. 8, and has since been picked up by the Associated Press. Excerpts from the article ran in the Washington Post, San Jose Mercury News and myriad other publications, radio and television stations. One write-up mistakenly referred to Kofford as a man: "At 93, Calif. man goes back to college." On one news station's website, the story was filed under the "Strange and Unusual" section, which also ran segments on elephant polo matches and a gator in a gutter. Kofford, who attended UC Berkeley when she was 17, has enrolled in the Over 60 program at HSU since the 1980s. Over 60 Coordinator Rhonda Geldin described Kofford as optimistic and said that she is always the first person to do her homework. So, that might not be as exciting as elephant polo, but it's still pretty awesome.

CORRECTION: In last week's guide to Arts Arcata!, the artist who produced a ceramic plate pictured alongside the listings of events was misidentified. The plate was created by Amber Riordan. In addition, a production error cut off several of the exhibitions scheduled for that night. The Journal regrets the errors.


Hit the books
Local teacher launches Fantasy Football math text


Math class. The thought of it alone can incite sweat glands, kick-start nausea or just evoke boredom for some students. The feeling is something that Dan Flockhart knows well. As a middle school math teacher in San Mateo for 11 years, Flockhart who now lives in Fortuna and teaches at College of the Redwoods has observed some bad attitudes toward the subject.

To erase the fear and lack of interest many students felt toward that four-lettered field of study, he shook up his curriculum by regularly using the `F' word: "football." Fantasy Football, that is.

Now, years after his retirement from the classroom, he has written a supplemental resource guide, Fantasy Football and Mathematics, for teachers and parents of students grades 5-12. The book was launched two weeks ago and, according to Flockhart, has been selling fast.

Fantasy Football, played by an estimated 13 million people, is a game where fans draft their own team, composed of pro players, and compete against a pool of other teams. For the 17-week season participants keep track of the points their players accrue in the actual games.

Flockhart's students instantly liked the idea. Instead of the traditional "drill and kill" practice-problem approach where teachers lord over the students, the Fantasy Football method gave the kids independence in the classroom.

"They have control and power over their own team, no one can tell them what to do and they love that," he said.

Using box scores from the newspaper, students keep track of their players' points, make graphs, find the mode, median and range of the stats and check the calculations of their peers to make sure everyone is getting their math, and thus their scores, correct.

For fifth graders, the game introduces them to the concepts of algebra for the first time; for older students in remedial classes, it gives them a fresh way to look at math. Flockhart recalled the turnaround of a few boys who often caused trouble and were not "into" school.

"When we started this [exercise], they already knew box scores and they knew all the players," he said. "So the other students started asking them how to read scores and who to pick for their team. They became the leaders of the group. It was a beautiful thing to see. They started doing better in all their other classes."

Originally Flockhart, 48, was concerned that girls would be marginalized from the activity, though it was never the case in his classes. Female students' teams often won, he said. At the end of the football season, he would take the top three winners and the bottom three losers out for ice cream.

One girl's father thanked Flockhart for the Fantasy Football instruction, saying that football was a way for them to bond.

When Flockhart went back to school in 2000, to get a master's degree in education at Humboldt State, he decided that creating a teacher's resource book using Fantasy Football would be part of his thesis.

HSU professors, often inclined to focus on social justice issues, inspired Flockhart to create a textbook that did not carry on the tradition of teaching math from a white privileged viewpoint.

"[Textbook writers] have no idea about the experience of urban youth," he said. "Math books have examples of `daddy building a play structure in the back yard for Sally and Jimmy.' Those things just don't apply to kids in urban areas.

"Adolescents are into sports, video games, pop culture. In urban areas, if you mention [Minnesota Vikings Quarterback] Duante Culpepper, they know who he is, they wear his jerseys, the sneakers. Those things motivate students."

According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, 83 percent of eighth graders in major urban areas are not proficient in mathematics.

Rather than pitching the book locally, where test scores are comparatively high, Flockhart has concentrated on marketing the book to bigger cities. And while he declined to disclose how many books have been sold, citing competition concerns, he said that he might have to hire someone to keep up with the demand. So far, his wife has been helping mail the 170-page text from their Fortuna home.

"I know it's corny, but every time we send off a book I like thinking about how many students this might help," he said. "It gives me such a good feeling."


Trinidad police investigate Salzman


Following the Journal's exposure of his pseudonymous letter-to-the-editor campaign, the Trinidad Police Department began actively conducting a criminal investigation of local political consultant Richard Salzman last week.

Trinidad Police Chief Ken Thrailkill said that he could not comment on the investigation while it was still in progress, but he did confirm that he was looking into the case.

The Eureka Reporter, a newspaper owned by area businessman Rob Arkley, reported on Sunday that the police action was sparked after the paper's editor, Glenn Franco Simmons, asked Thrailkill to investigate. As the Reporter has noted, submitting a letter to a newspaper under another person's name is a punishable crime in California.

Salzman, who lives in Trinidad, submitted at least two letters using the name of a supporter, Fortuna resident Dick Wyatt, and numerous others under a pseudonym, "R. Trent Williams." The letters were printed in a number of local papers, including the Journal.

The Journal has now uncovered convincing evidence that seems to indicate that Salzman has more recently used a third pseudonym, "R. Johnson," to correspond with local newspapers and at least one private party.

Looking over suspicious e-mails again last week, the Journal noted that at least one "R. Johnson" letter was signed with the same Eureka phone number that the "R. Trent Williams" letters provided. That number, which had been registered to a now-deceased woman named Patrice Sanderson, is no longer in service.

The address given in the "R. Johnson" letters is the home of 93-year-old Eureka resident Ruth Johnson.

Likewise, the Journal spoke last Wednesday with the owner of the residence provided to this newspaper in the "R. Trent Williams" letters. The home, which is located in the greater Eureka area, belongs to Robert Williams, a retired Humboldt County Sheriff's Office captain.

"I did not authorize him to use my address in a newspaper or magazine in writing letters to anyone," Williams said.

Also last Wednesday, Wyatt related how it came to be that Salzman came to use his name in at least two letters to the editor. He said that Salzman called him at home shortly after the two ran into each other at a Mike Thompson fundraiser this summer. According to Wyatt, Salzman asked if he could submit a letter using his name. Wyatt reportedly assented, after which Salzman called back and read the letter in question to Wyatt over the phone before sending it in.

But Wyatt said that he had not authorized a second letter that appeared under his name, one that was sharply critical of Fortuna City Councilmember Debi August. Wyatt said that after seeing the letter for the first time in a local newspaper, he personally apologized to August and sought an explanation from Salzman.

"I said, `Richard, I wish you'd read me the letter,'" Wyatt recalled. "Don't send any more letters to anyone under my name. He said OK. He said, `Don't worry about it, it will all blow over.' Well, it hasn't."

The Reporter's complaint to the Trinidad Police Department has occasioned some suspicion that the newspaper's owner, Rob Arkley, is making good on a promise delivered last year. In a widely circulated e-mail that was eventually printed in the Times-Standard, Arkley a Republican who sided with Salzman during the election of and recall attempt against District Attorney Paul Gallegos renounced his affiliation with the left-wing Salzman and vowed to "take it to" him.

"Richard, I see the devious way that you fight and I will take it to you in the future," read the e-mail, in part. "You, not I, are going to be the topic in the future. On Talk Shop, you will be famous. On Channel 3, the same. Poor rich radical from the city who wants to tell us all what to do. ... This will be fun. Get ready. You have had your run. Now, it is my turn."

Simmons said Tuesday that he had not consulted with Arkley before contacting the police, though he had spoken with Reporter Publisher Judi Pollace. He said that his concern was not to perpetuate a political vendetta, but to protect the integrity of his newspaper.

"We've been fooled quite a few times," Simmons said. "I'm still trying to find out how many letters were sent in by R. Trent Williams, but it's quite a few."

Salzman has been a prominent figure in a number of recent political causes, from acting as Gallegos' campaign manager during the turbulent recall campaign to supporting the efforts of environmental groups during the ongoing update of the county's general plan. He is the founder of the Alliance for Ethical Business.


Humboldt's Katrina deployment


Late Friday afternoon, the echoey American Red Cross building on 11th and E streets in Eureka rang with a few giddy last voices. Most of the volunteers had gone home for the day to return early Saturday and the remaining staff and volunteers were getting ready to leave as well, and their loosening tensions released laughter and chatter like birds returning to the roost at sundown. It was day 13 of fielding hundreds of phone calls, collecting monetary donations more than $80,000 in checks alone had walked in the door as of Friday and training volunteers to be deployed south to help the survivors of Hurricane Katrina and the ensuing flood.

Meanwhile, across the bay in Arcata at the corner of I and 7th streets, a former Eureka School District bus settled into the parking lot next to Humboldt Hydroponics. Over the next couple of days, she'd be swathed in a fresh new coat of bright blue paint and stenciled with a new name in yellow: Pastors for Peace. There'd be a slogan added later, something about helping hurricane victims ignored by the feds. And there'd be boxes and boxes of donated practical essentials packed inside.

Thus, from the practical to the protest-minded, the local effort to aid hurricane and flood survivors escalated. And this is just a snippet of the tale of Humboldt-spun safety nets tossed south.

Red Cross

"It's been amazingly busy," said instructor Linda Nellist at the Red Cross chapter in Eureka Friday evening. "It's busier than it was after Sept. 11, and the reason is we are deploying more volunteers to help with the disaster and to open shelters. Because it's so big, we're deploying people with life experience teachers, people who've worked with youth groups and in hospitality services, people familiar with housing."

So far the chapter has deployed a dozen trained volunteers to the Southern states impacted by the hurricane, flooding and mass evacuation. The chapter has about 40 more volunteers waiting to go and yet another couple dozen about to finish training. Volunteers commit to a three-week deployment, said Nellist.

She said she would like to see the interest remain active for months to come or, really, forever, "because you never know when the next disaster will be." In addition to regular health and safety courses, Red Cross offers free disaster preparedness classes, after 18 hours of which, and a successful interview, you could be on your way to help hurricane survivors. The introductory class can be taken online. (See below for class schedules.)

Even if you don't take the classes, you can at least throw a map of the Humboldt Bay area tsunami flood zones in your car, and prepare a simple backpackful of emergency supplies in the event of a local disaster. You can pick up pamphlets at the Red Cross office, or get the information off its website.

Red Cross continues to accept money donations, as well. Nellist said that after 9/11 and an investigation into Red Cross' use of donations sent in response, the Red Cross now allows people to designate a state they want money sent to. "But we're hoping people will donate to the general disaster relief fund, which goes to whatever disaster we're working on at the time," she said.

The chapter also is helping at least eight families who've fled to Humboldt County from the disaster.

Pastors for Peace

By 5:30 p.m. Sunday, as Earl Thomas sang the blues on the Arcata Plaza, down on the corner a couple blocks away the bright blue Pastors for Peace bus was almost loaded up. One box contained everything from avocado butter hair treatment to bandages, razors and tissues. Another box was full of flashlight batteries. In the lot was Shannon Ryan, 23, Woody Sandberg, 26, and "some random guy" (said Ryan) painting orange frills on the bus' rear. Ryan called out to the guy to keep it simple. Monday morning, Ryan and Sandberg both licensed bus drivers would begin their long trek to Little Rock, Ark., where they would converge Thursday with up to 10 other Pastors for Peace buses from around the country. From there, the supplies they carried would be moved further, into the "places that are not getting a lot of media attention, the more rural communities," said Ryan.

Ryan organized the Arcata collection. "I knew this bus was sitting on someone's land, in Willow Creek," she said. Sandberg had bought it at an auction. " It's unusual for Pastors for Peace to do a domestic trip," said Ryan, who has twice driven a "friendship caravan" to deliver humanitarian aid to Cuba. "Usually [a caravan] is to protest cruel U.S. foreign policies. But they just thought because this was such a sad situation, they felt it was their duty to help their brothers and sisters out." She said this trip, too, was a protest of the way the U.S. government "is not taking care of its people."

Sandberg, who dropped out of this semester at HSU to drive south with Ryan, said he has nothing more important to do. "I was pretty, like, shocked by the story that was unfolding, the way people didn't seem to be getting helped right away."

-- -- --

TO DONATE TO RED CROSS , or for more information, call 443-4521 or go to Here is the Eureka Red Cross chapter's disaster preparedness class schedule:

Sept. 17 1 p.m.-4 p.m. Shelter operations
Sept. 19 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Disaster health services
Sept. 19 6 p.m.-9 p.m. Living on the faultline
Sept. 21 9 a.m.-noon Shelter operations
Sept. 22 1 p.m.-4 p.m. Shelter operations
Sept. 28 1 p.m.-4 p.m. Shelter operations
Sept. 29 9 a.m.-noon Shelter operations

The Pastors for Peace's Arcata bus has already left town and passed through Garberville, San Francisco and Davis, but you can still donate gas money. Go to



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