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Oct. 21, 2004

The Weekly Wrap


Congressional candidates spar
over war, jobs, logging

Wide divergence of views
in Assembly race


 T H E  W E E K L Y  W R A P

VOTER REGISTRATION SOARS: According to Lindsey McWilliams, county elections manager, voter registration in Humboldt County appears headed for an all-time high. Registration closed Monday, but cards continue to pour in through the mail, and as of Tuesday total registration was 83,000 and growing, up from 79,000 in the March primary. The deluge of new registrants means extra work for McWilliams and his crew, but as a citizen he couldn't be more pleased. "I think this means we're going to have a large turnout," he said. Another record: More than 22,000 voters -- over 25 percent -- have requested absentee ballots this time around. That figure is likely to increase, as the deadline for absentee ballot requests through the mail is this Monday.

CHILD CARE BIG BIZ IN HUMCO: The local child care industry supports 562 jobs and generates revenues of $22.5 million per year. That's the startling conclusion of a recent study undertaken by the National Economic Development and Law Center and local groups including the Workforce Investment Board and First Five Humboldt. The study's 51-page final report will be released at noon Friday at a special event at Eureka's Wharfinger Building.

GOP PANS SALES TAX HIKE: The Republican Party of Humboldt County has come out strongly against Measure L, the initiative on the Nov. 2 ballot that would increase sales tax in the county by 1 percent. "Measure L, if passed, is a job-killer that will further damage our already fragile economy," said party chairman Mike Harvey, adding that a sales tax increase will drive business elsewhere. Meanwhile, a multitude of county employees and elected officials both Republican and Democrat, including Supervisor John Woolley and library head Carolyn Stacey, have urged passage of the measure, calling it the only way to preserve services in a time of budget crisis.

ST. VINNY'S RUNNING LOW: The St. Vincent de Paul Free Dining Facility announced last week that it faces a food crisis. The facility, which serves an average of 400 free meals a day, has not received as many food donations from local farmers, gardeners, ranchers and hunters as it has in previous years. What's worse, even stocks of basic carbohydrates like noodles and rice are close to being depleted. St. Vinny's asks the public to drop off donations at the dining facility at 35 West Third St., Eureka, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. Call Mark Campbell, facility manager, at 445-9588 if you need the charity to pick up your donation.

CHIME IN: Would you like to have a say in the way health and wellness are taught in the public schools? The Humboldt County Office of Education is inviting the general public to preview and comment on new instructional materials -- books, posters, audio cassettes and CDs -- that may be used for health education beginning in fall 2005. The materials are available in the Learning Display Resource Center at the Office of Education, 901 Myrtle Ave, Eureka, between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Public comment on the material must be received by the State Board of Education before Nov. 9.

MISSING HIKER FOUND ALIVE: An out-of-town hiker who was lost in the Trinity Alps found his way out of the wilderness and to a home in Denny on Tuesday while a volunteer rescue posse combed snow-covered woods looking for him. Daniel Miguel Peralta, 24, visiting Arcata from Boston, left his friends last Monday for a solo hiking trip, saying that he would camp overnight either in the King Range area or the Trinity Alps. His friends reported him missing to the Arcata Police Department three days later on Oct. 14. Peralta's car was discovered on Monday at the Grizzly Camp trailhead near the Trinity Alps Wilderness area on the Humboldt County line. Humboldt County Sheriff's Emergency Services workers and the Trinity Sheriff's Department began a ground search that night with the help of police dogs. An aerial search was impossible because of high winds and snow. The Sheriff's department said that Peralta became lost on his first day hiking the Horse Ridge Trail, and it wasn't until Monday evening that he figured out his location. The next morning he walked to a residence and called his friends, who notified the police and picked the man up.

DON'T FLOAT THAT CHECK: New regulations in the banking industry will make checks clear faster than in previous years, so the county is advising taxpayers to have their money in the bank when it comes time to pay property taxes. The new system, named Check 21, processes checks through digital imaging, according to the Humboldt County Tax Collector's office. The first property tax installment is due Dec. 10. Those not receiving their bill by Nov. 15 should contact the tax collector's office at 445-7608.

MISSING WOMAN NOT MURDERED: A missing woman whom friends feared had been murdered by a serial killer is still officially missing but the rumors of her death are untrue, police said. Earlier this month, friends of Alice Sherman, 52, told Eureka Police that they had not seen the woman since Aug. 20. An EPD investigation revealed that Sherman, who was known to frequent Old Town, was arrested in Merced on Aug. 26. In a press release this week EPD said that the woman's disappearance is no longer considered suspicious, and that she left Eureka on her own accord. To clear Sherman from the missing persons list, EPD still needs to contact her. Sherman is described as Native American, 5'3", 160 pounds with dyed red hair. Anyone who has had contact with Sherman as of Aug. 27 should contact EPD Detective Ron Harpham at 441-4315.

HIT AND RUN UPDATE: A second car may have been involved in a fatal hit and run accident that occurred last week in Eureka. Ronda Lea Didier, 43, of Eureka was killed Oct. 8 after she was struck in the southbound bike lane on Broadway near McCullens Avenue in Eureka by a gray-blue Ford pickup truck hauling a teardrop-style travel trailer. A second vehicle, described as `50s-style car, possibly a Cadillac with a sun visor on the windshield, was following the truck as it left the scene of the collision. The truck, which was traveling approximately 50 to 55 miles per hour when it hit Didier, was damaged on the right front fender. Anyone with information should call the EPD at 441-4300.

CRASH CLAIMS SIX-YEAR-OLD: A six-year-old girl was killed Tuesday morning when a car driven by her mother, 43-year-old Eureka resident Deann Hash, ran off the road and into a log while driving on Greenwood Heights Road. Following the crash, Hash was taken into custody on suspicion of driving under the influence. Another daughter, age 8, suffered moderate injuries.


In a story Oct. 14, "JPR chooses news," it was incorrectly reported that "The most vocal critics, from a group calling themselves Friends of the BBC, voiced opposition to JPR's purchase of KZPN with passion that crossed over into rudeness, including irrational outbursts, accusations and outright threats, with one `Friends' associate invoking Earth First! while implying that he was considering sabotaging the station's transmission tower."

In fact, the speaker was not a member of the Friends of BBC and representatives of the Friends group who spoke made no threats.

There was only one threat expressed that evening, which many in the audience took to be in jest. (Others did not.) Reporter Bob Doran incorrectly assumed the speaker was a member of the Friends of BBC because he wore a Friends' button, available at the door to all attendees, as he made the following comment:

"For the last 10 years, Monica has created us. We're zealots. We're religious. We're evangelic. And now these guys come from out of town and are going to import this new thing. They're going to take it away from you. I think if these guys were halfway smart, just a little bit smart, you'd say, `Hey, maybe these guys would call in money.' I would give you if you would just, just give me half an olive branch right now, say, `You know what? You guys made sense tonight. I think if I gave you an hour you guys would give me 15 grand a year.' But here we here we got the standoff. You're flippin,' we're flippin' and -- no, you're not gonna get a penny from me. I wanna find the antenna. I'm looking for your antenna. I'm Earth First! BBC, man! "

In addition, in the Journal story, the name of attorney Jamie Flower was misspelled. [The online version has been corrected.] The Journal regrets the errors.

Congressional candidates spar
over war, jobs, logging


[Ken Anton]   [Patty Berg]   [Ray Tyrone]
L to R: Ken Anton, Libertarian; Patty Berg, Democrat; Ray Tyrone, Republican

At the end of her first two-year term as state Assembly member, Democrat Patty Berg faces two challengers in the Nov. 2 election for District 1, which stretches from the Oregon border to Bodega Bay.

The three candidates offer widely varying positions on issues ranging from the state budget to health care to environmentalism.

Vying for Berg's seat are Republican Ray Tyrone, 40, a contractor from Cloverdale; and Libertarian Ken Anton, 36, who works as an environmental geology consultant in Elk (Mendocino County).

Tyrone describes himself as a father of five who was raised with "old-fashioned" family values and said he believes California doesn't have a budget problem, but a spending problem.

"The root of the problem is our out-of-control Legislature and Ms. Berg's friends in the Assembly," he said during a televised debate earlier this month. The state's inability to rein in its own budget has resulted in the financial crisis counties now struggle with, he said.

He also said the biggest obstacle facing our natural resources-based economy is "radical environmentalism."

"We perhaps weren't far enough to the left at one point," Tyrone said, but "it's important that we find that critical balance between radical environmentalism and jobs." The timber industry has become overregulated, which has led to California importing a growing amount of its timber, he said. At the same time, he said the state needs to foster production and use of alternative building materials.

Tyrone said he would work to reduce class sizes and put trade schools in high schools across the state so that students who weren't destined for college could develop marketable skills.

Anton, who serves as an appointed member of the Elk Community Services District board, called health care a "personal responsibility" and said he would address the state's budget situation by rooting out government waste. He also said that industry is overregulated and called himself a "strong supporter" of private property rights.

In recent weeks, Anton has railed against Berg for expending taxpayer dollars and timber resources on campaign mailers.

"The cover of the mailing included a beautiful picture of what appears to be all of the trees that were killed to make the junk political advertisement," Anton said.

On social issues, Anton is more liberal than conservative. He said he broke from the Republican party in college, partly because he disagreed with its stand on abortion. Anton is pro-choice.

Anton said he is "very uncomfortable" with the Republicans' blurring of church-state lines, and that he supports gay rights. "I've thought for a long time that gays and lesbians have been treated very unfairly," he said.

Berg, 62, has focused her legislative efforts on health care, aging and the environment. Among the nine successful bills she authored this term are a bill that gives the cash-strapped Trinity Hospital in Weaverville a new lease on life by transferring administration of it to the Trinity Public Utility District for the next three years, and one that encourages judges to require that those convicted of elder abuse go into counseling as part of their probation.

Berg's familiarity with seniors' issues predates her election to the Assembly in 2002. She was the founding executive director of the Area Agency on Aging in Eureka for 19 years.

She also authored a successful bill that extends a state-run program providing telephone service to sparsely populated areas.

As for the state budget, California must bite the bullet, Berg said. "The time has come to really begin to look at a balanced approach, and that approach is going to have to include taxes." She said she favored a reform of the tax structure in which, among other things, the upper income brackets would be taxed more.

Berg is considered a strong favorite in the district, where 45 percent of the registered voters are Democrats, compared with 29 percent Republicans and less than 1 percent Libertarians.

Though he is a long-shot, Anton said his party nevertheless enjoys getting its message out.

"The Libertarian Party just loves to get out there and throw some ideas around, mess things up, make the race a little bit more interesting," he said.

Wide divergence of views
in Assembly race



[Lawrence Wiesner]   [Pamela Elizondo]   [Mike Thompson]
L to R: Lawrence Wiesner, Republican; Pamela Elizondo, Green Party; Mike Thompson, Democrat

War in Iraq, the environment, gay marriage and marijuana are some of the issues congressional candidates grappled over in Friday's KEET-TV debate, illustrating there are more differences than similarities among the three District 1 contenders.

Attempting to secure his fourth term in Congress, U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena) defended his record, criticized President Bush's decision to go to war with Iraq and cited flaws in the administration's energy bill, No Child Left Behind and the Patriot Act.

Republican challenger Lawrence Wiesner, 60, a Santa Rosa accountant and treasurer of the Sonoma County Republican Party, who has never held elected office, called the president's performance in Iraq "spectacular" and told viewers that, if elected, he will keep North Coast residents safe from terrorism.

The Green Party candidate from Laytonville Pamela Elizondo, 60, who lists her occupation as a mother and environmental healing advocate, sported a T-shirt with a multi-colored peace symbol and said that the world will be safer if people are put to work to "grow marijuana and hemp everywhere."

Both Elizondo and Wiesner have made prior unsuccessful bids to unseat Thompson; Wiesner lost in the 2000 Republican congressional primary and again in a 2002 Thompson landslide. Elizondo has come up very short in a string of attempts for state Senate, Assembly, and congressional seats beginning in 1986.

A conservative candidate like Wiesner -- whose views closely resemble President Bush's, including support of a constitutional amendment to outlaw same-sex marriage -- might be a hard sell in the Democrat-dominated District 1, which stretches 300 miles from the Oregon border to Santa Rosa. Forty-five percent of the district's registered voters are Democrats, 30 percent Republicans and 3 percent Greens.

While the candidates' views clashed on a variety of national issues, so did their ideas of what is best for the Northern California district. Atop Thompson's priority list to help the economy is the passage of the $375 billion Transportation Bill, which has been stalled in the Republican-controlled Congress.

"The fastest thing to do to create jobs not only in District 1 but across the country would be to pass the Transportation Bill in Congress," said Thompson, 53. "For every billion dollars spent, that creates 50,000 new jobs" in additional to improving roadways. Specifically, the bill includes funding for the reconstruction of Buckhorn Summit on Highway 299 between Redding and Weaverville, which is currently impassable by industrial big rigs.

Wiesner agreed that the transportation bill would bring more jobs to the country, but defended Bush, saying that it has not been approved because the president believes $375 billion for national transportation improvements is too much money.

A better way to improve the district's economy, Wiesner said, is to stop importing wood from other countries and log federal forests instead, citing that 80 percent of California's timber is imported.

"By harvesting that timber we put our people to work, not Canadians, New Zealanders, Siberians, or whatever. This is the best hope for this district," Wiesner said.

Elizondo, a four-wheeler enthusiast, said that on her drives along mountain ridges in Mendocino County, the hills look bare.

"Cutting trees is not the answer," Elizondo said, suggesting that more trees be planted on marijuana and hemp farms. The farms could put people to work as growers, and the plants could be converted to fuel, she said.

Environmental issues further highlighted differences among the candidates. Wiesner once more showed that his ideas run parallel with the president's, including support for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Thompson disagreed with his logic.

"We can't drill our way out of our fuel dependency problems," he said. "We own 3 percent of the world's oil reserves and we consume 25 percent; we import 61 percent of our oil from other countries. We've got to be looking at new ways, alternative ways of energy." He went on to tout achievements in alternative energy research at Humboldt State University and UC-Davis.

Elizondo said that "we should restore the earth, not destroy the earth."

And as for restoring the health of the Klamath River, where low flows in 2002 resulted in the death of 38,000 fish, Wiesner argued that more research is needed.

"The best thing that we can do for the Klamath River is not to do anything at all until we are well-founded in science as to what the problem really is," he said. "Once we are very sure that what we are proposing to do is the correct policy to follow, only then should we follow that policy."

Thompson had an opposite reaction. "We have to move quickly. The science is available. Unfortunately, blatant politics got in the way of exercising that science and has led to a stalemate," he said. `We need to make sure clean, quality water is coming down to the lower basin."

Thompson suggested lining some of the canals of the river and buying property from farmers looking to get out of the business.



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