North Coast Journal Weekly link to homepageIn the News

Nov. 4, 2004

The Weekly Wrap

[drawing of ballot box]

Kerrigan exuberant
Bohn supporters 'shocked' at landslide loss

Machi keeps his Arcata City Council seat
Groves takes a solid second

Gettin' out the vote, reaction from candidates
Plus: Dave Silverbrand and Mike Thompson unscripted

H  U  M  B  O  L  D  T    P  E  O  P  L  E :

Stuck on stones
Big Lagoon couple share longtime hobby at Gem and Mineral show


 T H E  W E E K L Y  W R A P

A local dairy manufacturer is poised to become one of the largest ice cream makers in the nation. Humboldt Creamery, a Fortuna-based dairy cooperative, celebrated its 75th anniversary over the weekend and announced the company's plans to expand. On Monday, the creamery purchased the licenses to Arctic Ice Cream and WestFarm Food's Darigold brand ice cream, and will operate a plant in Los Angeles making ice cream bars and sandwiches. Humboldt Creamery CEO Rich Ghilarducci said that 50 more jobs will be added to the creamery's local roster, up from 120 employees, and that sales are expected to increase from $71 million to $120 million annually. In keeping with the health conscious times, the creamery will release a seven-flavor line of organic ice cream, available in January. Milk for the ice cream and other dairy products, including butter and powdered milk, is supplied by 62 dairy members in Humboldt and Del Norte counties. Creamery spokeswoman Michelle Stevenson said that new packaging for the ice cream will emphasize Humboldt County's location and dairy culture.

A group calling itself Eureka Coalition for Jobs funded a last-minute burst of TV ads and mailers attacking City Councilman Chris Kerrigan, who was running for re-election. Accompanied by ominous music, the ad said that Kerrigan "promised to fight for good-paying jobs, but where are they? Our economy is shrinking, and major employers are slipping away. Wages are falling. No more empty promises. We want jobs." Kerrigan's opponent in the Ward 4 race, Rex Bohn, immediately distanced himself from the ad campaign, saying he was not behind it and had no idea who was. Why didn't the group file a campaign finance form identifying contributors? It may not have had to. According to the Fair Political Practices Commission in Sacramento, the group would qualify as an "independent expenditure committee" if it spent $1,000 or more to oppose a single candidate or ballot measure. But it gets more complicated: The ad in question must be one that "expressly advocates" the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate or measure, or "unambiguously urges a particular result in an election" Kerrigan campaign advisor Richard Salzman said he believes that under the courts' interpretation of the Fair Political Practices Act the anti-Kerrigan ads would not, unfortunately, require disclosure of the funders. "Nobody with this kind of money is gonna hire an incompetent lawyer," Salzman said. The backers "know how to walk just half a step behind the line."

A man wearing a Halloween costume on Sunday allegedly tried to rape a student, Humboldt State University Police reported. The student, a campus resident, was jogging alone on the track at Redwood Bowl at 2 a.m. when a man wearing a paper-like, white ghost costume attempted to rape her. The victim fought the attacker, who ran from the scene. The incident was immediately reported to UPD, which searched the campus with a police dog, but found no one. The man is described as white, slender, 5'10, with dirty blonde hair. A composite drawing of the attacker can be seen on the university's Web site at Anyone with information is urged to contact the UPD anonymously at 826-3456 or

Members of the Sheriff's Drug Enforcement Unit busted up two marijuana grow operations off Gibson Creek Road near Whitethorn Sunday. The unit came to the area to serve a warrant on one residence -- they seized 482 plants from three separate indoor gardens, along with $3,000 in cash, but could not find anyone to arrest. Afterwards, according to a press release, they went door-to-door down the road to ask neighbors who lived at the site. While doing so, they came across another indoor grow containing 724 plants. The building at the second location was hidden from plain sight by thick vegetative canopy. Deputies arrested Michael Elder, 50, on suspicion of cultivation and possession of marijuana for sale.

A wound care facility, the first of its kind on the North Coast, has opened in Arcata. The Center for Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine at Mad River Community Hospital opened last week for the treatment of people with chronic wounds, like burns, pressure ulcers, and bone infections. The nearest facility of its kind is 200 miles away, in Chico. Patients can receive hyperbaric oxygen therapy, a treatment in which the patient lies in an oxygen chamber for two hours, five days a week, for up to six weeks, speeding the wound's healing process. Christopher Smith, the center's program director, said that so far, the wound care program has admitted 40 patients, some of whom will begin hyperbaric treatment in one to two weeks.

A Eureka woman who was missing for months has been located. Alice Sherman, 52, who was not seen since late August, was found 400 miles away in Merced by police there on Oct. 27. Eureka police said that the Merced Police Department had contact with Sherman and removed her name the missing persons database.

A mussel quarantine ended on Oct. 31, opening up shellfish gathering to sport harvesters, the county public health department announced. From May through October, mussel collecting is banned due to the danger of paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP), caused by microorganisms that thrive in warm water. Commercial harvesting is permitted during the quarantine months, but the catch is monitored for toxin levels, Vector Control Officer Brent Whitener said. For more information on PSP and shellfish, call the Shellfish Information Line at 1-800-553-4133.

The Fortuna Planning Commission will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 9, to take questions and comments on the proposed Major Retail Ordinance, which would require design review and a conditional use permit for any new retail development over 80,000 square feet. The meeting will take place in the Fortuna Council Chambers, 621 11th St., Fortuna, 725-7600.

In an Oct. 28 story about the Arcata City Council race, candidate Fhyre Phoenix was listed as having a master's degree in Human Service Administration. Though Phoenix did not list on his questionnaire the school from which the degree was earned, he provided the information after deadline. He earned the degree in 1990 from Springfield College in Springfield, Mass.

Kerrigan exuberant
Bohn supporters 'shocked' at landslide loss


When the first vote returns came in a little after 8 p.m. Tuesday, Chris Kerrigan couldn't know that he had a small lead. He was sitting in council chambers with the rest of the Eureka City Council, taking a look at a first draft of some revisions to the city's architectural design standards he has been championing over the last few months.

[photo of Kerrigan watches Mayor La Vallee speak] Victorious Eureka City Council candidate Chris Kerrigan (left) prepares to thank hhis supporters while Mayor peter La Vallee stokes up the crowd at the Lost Coast Brewery.

But just over an hour later the 25-year-old was standing on a chair upstairs at the Lost Coast Brewery, ready to deliver his victory speech to a screaming crowd of about 75 of the people who contributed to what he called "the best grassroots campaign that Eureka has ever seen."

"We countered the big money, and we did it with manpower and good old grassroots democracy," he said.

Though an unknown number of absentee ballots remained to be counted, Kerrigan had racked up a convincing 59-41 percent victory at the polls.

Kerrigan said that when he went door to door in his campaign, talking with citizens, he found consistent support for the main issues of his campaign -- good jobs, smart growth and community design standards.

"Tonight, almost 60 percent of Eureka embraced that message, and we are going to continue to go forward and work for those goals," he said.

Kerrigan went on to thank challenger Rex Bohn for what he called a "spirited campaign."

His supporters, though, were clearly more interested in celebrating their candidate's strong success in what was assumed by many to be a close race.

[Rex Bohn talking with the McCarthys] Eureka City Council candidate Rex Bohn, left, chats with backers Willie (center) and Royal McCarthy at OH's Town House Tuesday night after election results came in.

Charlene Cutler-Ploss, a member of Eureka's Design Review Committee who went door-to-door to advocate for Kerrigan, said that she was proud that voters rejected a challenger who she thought was put forward and propped up by special interests -- the county's developers.

"We feel phenomenal," she said. "It reaffirms my belief in the electorate and in the best man winning. It shows that I'm not the only one in Eureka who feels that my vote cannot be bought."

Mayor Peter La Vallee, a strong Kerrigan supporter, said that though he was disturbed at the rising costs of running a City Council campaign in Eureka -- in the end, the two candidates raised and spent over $100,000 -- he, too, was overjoyed at the election's result.

But La Vallee had some choice words for whoever was behind the anonymous group calling themselves the Eureka Coalition for Jobs, which had put out a flurry of last-minute anti-Kerrigan ads and mailers. The mayor said that by choosing to hide their identities, backers of the ads demonstrated that they lacked the courage of their convictions.

"To the guys who did that ad, the Eureka Coalition for So-and-So?" he shouted. "Grow some balls."

It was early in the evening when a crowd of Rex Bohn's supporters at OH's Town House heard the news that their guy had been defeated -- badly. They weren't happy.

"Well, I guess Arcata runs Eureka now," said Janeth Mariante, Bohn's campaign treasurer. "This really, really sucks."

Bohn himself stepped up to the microphone at 9 p.m., delivering some of his characteristic humor. "I want to thank everybody for coming to the Virginia Bass-Jackson re-election party," he said laughing, referring to the Eureka City Councilwoman and OH's Town House owner who ran unopposed in Ward 2.

"It's been a fun ride," Bohn, 50, continued. "The voters have spoken, but that does not mean we cannot make Eureka a better place. We ran a good, clean campaign. We ran it on issues and ideas, and I'm proud of what we did."

Supervisor Roger Rodoni, in his trademark cowboy hat, shouted out, "Run again. I did!" to applause from the crowd.

Many of those at the restaurant, decorated with red and blue balloons, said they were surprised that the election was so decisive.

"I'm shocked. This is stunning," said Bohn supporter Jeff Lang. "This election broke right down party lines. People don't necessarily look on who the best candidate was. They look at what party they are. To me, man, that is the biggest atrocity of this vote."

Marian Brady, who volunteered on Bohn's campaign, agreed with Lang that the "go-clean" approach may have backfired. "We went too nice," Brady said, referring to Bohn's commitment to avoid negative campaigning. Lang said Bohn "had a folder full of dirt" on Kerrigan that he never used. He did not elaborate.

Others at the gathering included Bohn's campaign manager, Chris Crawford, Councilwoman Virginia Bass-Jackson, and Eureka City Manager David Tyson, who rebuffed a reporter with "I'm off the clock."

Sporting a "Proud to be a Bohn-Head" hat, Royal McCarthy, who said he had gotten to know Bohn through Ducks Unlimited, said he was "stunned" at the vote. "I had no idea that it would go this way, really," McCarthy said.

Bohn told the Journal that his plans for the future were uncertain. "I want to make sure that the promises made to the city of Eureka are followed through. We need to find some real jobs for our kids. I had a lot of support from the young people because they wanted to stay here. I'm not gonna stop trying to do that."

Would he make another try at politics? "Never say never," Bohn said.

Machi keeps his Arcata City Council seat
Groves takes a solid second


[Groves, Pitino and Machi pose for camera]The champagne and wine bottles sat empty on the table in the room above the Arcata Plaza that 26-year-old Harmony Groves rented for her victory party election night. The candidate, who came in a solid second in the race, was exuberant, profusely thanking the volunteers who helped her before and after taking calls from a couple of local radio stations, where she again praised the volunteers.

[photo at right: The three presumed winners in the Arcata City council race celebrate at Sacred Grounds Cafe. From left, Harmoy Groves, paul Pitino and Michael Machi.]

The first problem she wants to tackle now that she's elected? She points to the conflict between the homeless people and businesses on the plaza, a delicate subject that she feels needs to be addressed with balance.

"Each side needs to be heard, and each side needs to be given credibility and needs to find a solution that works for them," said the candidate, whose double-meaning campaign slogan was "Harmony for Arcata."

One of her volunteers, former council member Elizabeth Conner, who recently resigned her position, let Groves know it was time to head off to congratulate the incumbent, Michael Machi, 54, who took first in the race with more than 20 percent of the vote.

Across town at Sacred Grounds coffeehouse, where the chairs were already up on the table in preparation for closing, Machi and his supporters were wrapping up their gathering. After handshakes, hugs and a pose for a group photo with Paul Pitino, 58, the apparent winner of the third council seat, Machi gave Groves and Pitino an official council pin, then went back to cleaning up the leftovers from the party. The bicycle-riding Groves took off in Conner's car heading for Patty Berg's victory party in Eureka.

As the Journal went to press early Wednesday morning, Pitino held the third place slot, but only by a hair -- just 107 votes separated him from Rob Amerman, and in fifth place was Jim Sorter, only seven votes behind Amerman.

Describing his mood as "cautiously optimistic," Pitino said, "At this point it's only forecasting. I'll go to sleep on it. It's not like waiting to know if you've won the lottery. [Being a City Council member] is a semi-thankless, pseudo-volunteer job. It's the truth. If you're not ready for it, it can get kind of ugly."

Pitino figured the key to his victory was a tactic that Machi also cited: weeks of door-to-door campaigning, talking to the voters directly about their problems and what they want to see for the future of the city.

Pitino's plan once he's in office? "Working on my list; a public bathroom downtown is No. 1. We'll see if we can do something concrete together," he said, pointing out the pun that a tired reporter missed.

Amerman, who was drowning his sorrows across town at Humboldt Brews, was resigned to the fact that he had lost, saying dejectedly, "The people have spoken," and no, he wasn't planning on running for Conner's seat in the next election coming in spring. But the truth is the fat lady hasn't had her solo.

According to County Elections Manager Lindsey McWilliams, 23,664 absentee ballots were sent out and 15,659 had been received back as of Monday night. Historically 85 percent of absentee ballots come back. There's no saying how many are from Arcata voters, and with the race for the "show" position so close, another outcome is still possible.

Staff writer Helen Sanderson contributed to this story.


Oct. 28, 2004: IN THE NEWS: Arcata City Council Candidates

Gettin' out the vote, reaction from candidates
Plus: Dave Silverbrand and Mike Thompson unscripted


Mid-afternoon on Tuesday found County Elections Manager Lindsey McWilliams seated at his desk behind a mountain of paperwork. He said that he was still fielding calls and e-mails from voters around the country and the world -- one absentee voter, a Peace Corps volunteer, had sent in a ballot from distant Nepal. The interest level in this election was the highest he had ever seen, he said.

"At the moment, I don't have the right adjective for this election," he said. "There's nothing like it."

In fact, by the end of the evening, elections officials put voter turnout at an unusually high 70 percent.

McWilliams said that despite heavy turnout, the snafus inevitable to the election process had so far been "relatively manageable." A couple of voting machines went on the blink and had to be replaced. An eager reporter from a competing news agency was asked to refrain from collaring voters at the entrance of one polling station. After receiving complaints from voters, one of the "ballot watchers" fielded by the local chapter of the Republican Party was told to refrain from recording interactions with polling officials with audio equipment.

Perhaps most significantly, McWilliams expected that elections workers would have to work through a record number of absentee and provisional ballots thought the rest of the week. Depending on the margin on election night, this could mean that the final outcome of some local races wouldn't be known for a few days.

"There's going to be a lot of mopping up after this election," McWilliams said.


Throughout the day, volunteers at the local headquarters of the Republican Party and the Democratic Party concentrated their efforts on get-out-the-vote activity. Though their campaigns were no doubt somewhat less intense than those undertaken by their colleagues in Florida and Ohio, they nevertheless involved the coordination of a great number of poll-runners and van-drivers.

The Friends of Chris Kerrigan were working out of the Democrats' offices on Fifth Street in Eureka, where they were working closely with party volunteers. Andrea Davis, Kerrigan's campaign manager, said that she had 20 people calling known Kerrigan supporters, asking them if they had voted and offering them rides to their polling place.

Kerrigan poll-runners were making the rounds of each of the city's precincts, checking to see which of their supporters hadn't yet made it to the polls.

"It's kind of old-fashioned," she said. "There's nothing technologically advanced about it at this point."

Patrick Riggs, chair of the local Democratic Central Committee, said that the party was doing much the same type of work as the Kerrigan campaign, but throughout the county.

Down the street at Republican headquarters, Kay Peake, treasurer of the local party, was a one-woman show, coordinating her poll-runners and fielding queries from citizens over the phone. Peake said that her phone-bank volunteers would start calling Republicans who had not yet turned out at around 4:30. At mid-afternoon, only two citizens had been signed up for rides to the polls.

Peake said that the "poll watchers" that the party announced it would be stationing in local polling places last week were at their stations. Most of them were planted at precincts in Fortuna and Rio Dell, she said.

"They're watching for abnormal behavior," she said, adding that they had not come up with anything worth reporting yet.


Humboldt State University students gathered in the quad Tuesday in an Election Day festival called Gettin' Funky with the Vote. Senator Wes Chesbro and HSU President addressed a crowd of young voters, various musicians -- from drummers to freestyle rappers -- and dancers performed, and students spoke during an open mic session.

Claudia Torres, 24, an HSU art student who is not yet a resident of the United States and therefore cannot vote, nevertheless implored other students to do their civic duty today.

"Young people keep getting short-changed," Torres told the Journal. "We need to be involved now so there will be better decisions made over the next four years."

HSU supplied free shuttle service to Arcata polling places throughout the day, and the election festival was capped off with an evening of music and refreshments at The Depot.


Eureka's own presidential candidate, David Cobb [at left in photo below] of the Green Party, returned home Tuesday night to celebrate his victory at his home, which also doubles as the headquarters of Democracy Unlimited. Victory? Absolutely, Cobb said. Even though election officials across the country had tallied up only around 75,000 votes nationwide late last night, Cobb said that he had achieved every goal of his campaign -- to increase Green Party registration, to get Green candidates elected to local office and to raise awareness of the party through media coverage of his campaign. And he wasn't finished yet. "This campaign might not be over for me," he said. "If the reports come in from places like Ohio, and it looks like this election was stolen, I will be going to those places and urging people to get out on the streets and prevent another coup d'etat in this country."

[David Cobb and Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap]

Cobb's partner, Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap [at right in photo above] , did better at the polls -- by the end of the evening, she was clinging to a 78-vote lead in her race to represent a portion of Eureka on the board of the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District, with unknown numbers of absentee and provisional ballots yet to be counted. "I'm optimistic, and I'm guarded, and no matter what happens I think this shows there needs to be a change in philosophy on the board," she said. There was a strange result in the McKinleyville-area race for the water board -- fisheries biologist Randy Turner, who had dropped out of the race some time ago, absolutely creamed his two competitors, taking in nearly 50 percent of the vote.


Viewers glued to Dan Rather & Co.'s national election coverage were treated to a few minutes of unscripted TV magic late Tuesday night, as local CBS affiliate KVIQ cut to what was supposed to be anchor Dave Silverbrand's exclusive in-studio interview with Rep. Mike Thompson. Only one problem -- it appeared that no one bothered to tell Silverbrand and Thompson that they were on the air. So in place of a hard-hitting look at how the national elections were shaping up, stunned KVIQ viewers were treated to several minutes of endearing small talk between newsman and politician. Silverbrand seemed eager to tell Thompson about his second job, as an instructor at College of the Redwoods:

Silverbrand: It's Introduction to Mass Communication. It's a journalism class, yeah. But we showed parts of Bowling for Columbine and parts of Fahrenheit 9/11 and just you know, some of the rhetorical devices they used. Very interesting.

Thompson: You ought to have me come talk to your class sometime.

Silverbrand: Oh, I'd love to! I really would. I'll talk to Liz about that.

Thompson: Talk to Liz, yeah! Next time I'm up here. What days do you teach?

Silverbrand: It's Mondays and Wednesdays, in the morning. Yeah, I'll talk to Liz about that. It would really be a thrill. Yeah, it's a really smart class.

This exchange was followed by a long moment of silence.


H  U  M  B  O  L  D  T    P  E  O  P  L  E :

Stuck on stones
Big Lagoon couple share longtime hobby at Gem and Mineral show

story & photos by STILSON SNOW

Pat Bunselmeier [photo below left] can't remember a time she didn't love rocks.

[Pat Bunselmeier holding a rock]Her husband, Dale [photo below right] , 70, agrees. "I don't think I ever met a child who wasn't interested in rocks," Pat, 68, says with a laugh. "We just never grew out of it."

Pat is chairperson of the Humboldt Gem and Mineral Society's upcoming 50th Anniversary Gem and Mineral Show. This year also marks Pat and Dale's 50th wedding anniversary, but their love affair with rocks goes back even further. Each had a rock collection when they met during Pat's junior year in high school in Beaver, a small town in Lassen County. "Even before we were married we would go out and pick up pretty rocks. We always had beach agates." Their Big Lagoon home is festooned with polished stones, ancient fossils and agates.

Pat is particularly fond of copper-related rocks, such as malachite, azurite, and turquoise, and many examples adorn the house. A lustrous wood table supports an impressive array of malachite artifacts sculpted from the almost iridescent dark green stone, richly veined with black. Some are egg shaped; others are much more intricately carved, all showing an artist's sense of the topology of veins and color.

But Pat's favorites are petrified wood and the rose-colored rhodochrosite. In her side yard is a small forest of different sized and shaped pieces of almost lifelike petrified wood. Rhodochrosite is a pink mineral with swirls and petal-like shapes of white and some darker colors. Pat shows me a small obelisk of this. The attraction is apparent.

This is the second time Pat has been chairperson of the show. She is also a past president of the Humboldt Gem and Mineral Society, which puts on the exhibition.

[Dale Bunselmeier]"We worked really hard [Pat was a teacher and administrator and Dale had a career with Pepsi] and we decided we were going to play just as hard in retirement. We had a list of seven things that we both liked to do and rocks were right at the top." Their first meeting of the Gem and Mineral Society was all it took. They haven't gotten to number two on the list yet.

The Humboldt Gem and Mineral Society, which has about 120 members, holds monthly meetings on the fourth Friday at the Arcata Masonic Lodge in Bayside at 7:30 p.m. Members have been working all year to fill the 38 display cases for the show. Some use the club's permanent work facility at another location in Arcata, where the group has equipment to cut and polish stones.

Pat taught school for 32 years, and education is never far from her mind. She notes that between 1,200 and 1,500 schoolchildren will come to the show on Friday. "We'll have games for the kids for 50 cents, and every kid will win a rock. We have a magnificent carving in serpentine, of a dragon, St. George's dragon. You'll want to look at the state of California case. It has gold, it has serpentine, it has the saber tooth tiger fossil. It also has the state gem, benitoite, which is only found [in the Diablo Range] in San Benito County."

The Bunselmeiers go all over the country looking for rocks, from Arizona in the winter to Wyoming and Montana in the spring. "We did a petrified wood hunt in Wyoming," Pat says. "There's an area called the Blue Mountains where there are limb casts; pieces of petrified wood will be covered over with an agate outer casing that's bright blue. It's just spectacular."

But it isn't all about rocks. "A side benefit of rock hunting is that you get out and walk and climb," Pat says. "You see things that a person just driving through an area doesn't see." They have tales of encountering Gila monsters, wild burros and horses, and other animals.

[Photo of Geode]

At the show a flint knapper will shape arrowheads, a sculptor will be at work and Pat will demonstrate the jewelry-making technique of wire wrapping. A popular attraction will be the geode-cutting booth. "Geodes can be a cavity of crystals, or solid agate in there with a kind of `picture' in it," Pat explains [above photo]. The purchaser of an ordinary looking rock will watch as it's cut and be the first to see the magic inside. The discovery entrances adults and children alike.

What keeps the Bunselmeiers interested? "Art is beautiful and paintings are beautiful, but when you pick up a rock, this is something God has made, and it's natural," muses Pat. Her interest has become a way of life. Dale nods. "You think they're ugly rocks and then you get inside of them and that's where the beauty is."

The 50th Anniversary Gem and Mineral Show will be held at Redwood Acres this weekend, Nov. 5, 6 and 7. Hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $1.50 for adults, 50 cents for kids 6-12.

[photo of clam and sanddollar fossils]


Stilson Snow of Eureka enjoys living and writing in Humboldt County.



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