Nov. 27, 2003
THE WEEKLY WRAP
LESS RED INK: The Ink People Center for the Arts, still reeling from a budget crisis that almost closed its doors in October, received some good news last week. It seems that the California Arts Council, despite being "de-funded" in this year's state budget, still has a little bit of money left. And they want the Ink People to have some of it.
The CAC's Multicultural Arts Development division has identified the Humboldt County arts organization as one of just six in the state that, "Should receive some assistance to maintain diverse artistic and cultural expressions." What are they offering? A $9,000 operations grant.
"We were looking to provide further support for organizations that were serving as hubs or umbrellas, groups who had taken a larger role and were stretching their budgets helping others in these difficult times," said Lucero Arellano, a manager of the CAC's Multicultural Arts Development department in Sacramento, adding, "In the case of the Ink People, they have a track record of supporting [a wide variety of] groups."
"We see these grants as a way to provide funding at a critical time, to help these organizations keep their doors open until the next funding cycle," Arellano added.
According to Ink People Executive Director Libby Maynard, the money is coming at a crucial time. "We are so down to the bone that if we cut any more we're going to be cutting off bone." She said the organization needs $50,000 just to get out of the hole.
Maynard explained that even though the CAC's budget for next year was cut from $18 million to $1 million, federal money still comes from the National Endowment for the Arts, around $900,000. That money must be matched by the state, and the CAC is in a hurry to allot the funds.
"They're worried that [Gov.] Schwarzenegger will appoint a new director who will put a freeze on everything," said Maynard.
"With the new administration and budget problems, we do not know what will happen to our budget, whether it will increase, remain the same or maybe even get worse -- if that's possible," said Arellano.
SAFE HARBOR: The good ship Madaket was liberated from federal custody last week, after the Humboldt Bay Maritime Museum, the cruiser's owner, and creditor Stanwood A. Murphy reached a financial settlement. According to a press release, the museum gave Murphy around $50,000 -- provided by an anonymous benefactor -- with a promise to repay the remaining $50,000 over the next 10 years. Next on the list for the museum, presumably, is to pay off its back taxes to the county -- it owes at least $1,500 in unpaid property taxes on the floating landmark and has been in arrears since 1999. Madaket supporters will be holding a crab and oyster feed benefit at Eureka's Wharfinger Building on Sunday, Dec. 7., at 2:30 p.m.
KEEP YOUR SCHOOL BOARD OFF MY BODY: In a meeting last week, the Eureka City School Board voted against a proposed plan for a family planning services program for students. At the heart of the debate is not sex education, but students' access to contraceptives -- birth control pills and condoms -- on the Eureka High campus. Both the school board and a vocal group of parents are unconvinced that the availability of contraceptives is healthy, maintaining that those who want condoms can get them off-campus. Also, concerns were voiced that the distribution of contraceptives would perpetuate the message that sex is acceptable for young, unmarried people. Open Door Community Health Centers, which provides health care at the Eureka High teen clinic, cited growing rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases as their top concern in providing the services to students, which would include STD and pregnancy testing. The board and the ODHC are working on a redrafted version of the program and will meet next week for discussions. Under California law, minors do not need parental consent to receive sex health check-ups or contraceptives from a physician.
PALCO TURMOIL: First Pacific Lumber lost spokesman Jim Branham to Sacramento. Then it shocked many by unceremoniously firing long-time public relations pro Mary Bullwinkel last week after she gave nearly 15 years of service to the company. Reached at her Fortuna home, Bullwinkel was diplomatic, saying that the company was simply going in a "different direction." She said she would miss working with all the friends she had made at PL over the years, but that she wasn't going anywhere and that the job-hunt would begin soon. "I'm looking at this as a positive opportunity for me to grow," Bullwinkel said. "I'm sure there's something out there for me." The company didn't offer to throw her a going-away party -- instead, Bullwinkel and her friends had a private get-together at Fortuna's Eel River Brewing Company on Saturday.
MANNE'S WORLD, CHAPTER TWO: Well, loyalty is a two-way street -- PL CEO Robert Manne may want to ask himself why some employees are so eager to share his letters to them with the press. In the latest, dated Nov. 17, Manne wonders if local media outlets have "wrongfully breached the trust of their readers" by airing his thoughts. And, of course, he continues to denounce those nefarious "elements of the media" that so absurdly attempt to "link the recall of the District Attorney to the PALCO lawsuit." On the contrary: "They continue to hide or overlook the fact that a dishonest, elitist, leftist group has captivated our new DA and is attempting to make mainstream an extremist element that both unfairly targets our company and is bad for the economy of the county." Ah. There is some meat in the letter, though: Manne notes that production is way up at several of PL's mills, but that the company is going to miss its earnings goals, and will go into the winter with a very small log deck -- only 25 million board-feet, which Manne calls "on the low end of acceptable." Manne notes that in the future his letters will also be released on audiocassette -- good news for sight-impaired employees or, as the leader may imagine, workers who just can't get enough of his voice.
CORRECTION: The Journal misspelled Arcata City Councilmember Elizabeth Conner's name in a photo caption in its Nov. 13 issue. We regret the error.
by HANK SIMS
The first wave of economic development grants from the county's Headwaters Fund is on the brink of making its way into the local economy, after the Headwaters Fund Board finalized its recommendations to the Board of Supervisors Friday morning.
The board, which had a total pool of $300,000 to award this year, recommended that eight of the 27 grant applications the board received should be at least partially funded. The Board of Supervisors, which has final approval over the grants, is expected to hear the recommendations at its Dec. 16 meeting.
The proposals recommended by the board, the county commission that oversees disbursements from the Headwaters Fund, support a wide range of local economic activities, including tourism, light industry, shipping and aquaculture.
Karen Angel, the Humboldt Botanical Garden Foundation's executive director for garden development, said that she was delighted to hear that the board had recommended a grant of $40,000 to her organization.
"This is very good news for us," Angel said. "Although the $40,000 will not complete the funding we need, it brings us much closer to it."
The proposed grant will go toward the construction of a native plants center at the Botanical Gardens, which is currently under construction near College of the Redwoods' Eureka campus. The foundation hopes to open at least part of the gardens by 2005.
Angel said that although the foundation needed $100,000 for the native plants, the fact that it had already secured money to build a greenhouse and a "natural riparian area" assured her that the shortfall could be made up.
"It leaves $60,000 left to find, and with all the support we've received from the region, I think we'll be able to do that," she said.
The largest of the recommended grants -- for $55,000 -- is for a new College of the Redwoods teaching kitchen, which will be used to support the college's "Hospitality Institute of the North Coast" program. The kitchen will be built in Arcata's Foodworks complex.
The board recommended a $45,000 grant to the City of Eureka to assist with its efforts to develop a master plan for the long-vacant Balloon Track, a 30-acre site located in the industrial section of the Eureka waterfront.
"It's great news, and it's an important project for the community," said Eureka City Manager Dave Tyson.
Tyson said that the grant will be used to hire a consultant to look at the potential for development of the track, currently an abandoned railroad switchyard, and to try to develop a consensus about what should be built there.
The board recommended that the county give itself nearly a third of the available funds for three projects: a lobbying effort to find state and federal funds for the improvement of local highways, continued work on the "industry cluster" work plan and a program for providing matching capital to low-income entrepreneurs and first-time home buyers.
If the Board of Supervisors approves the recommendations, there will be a small balance of $1,600 available for "mini-grants" throughout 2004.
Among the projects that failed to meet the board's final cut were renovation of HSU's Telonicher Marine Laboratory, an expanded Web site for the Humboldt County Visitors and Convention Bureau and support for three Ink People Center for the Arts programs.
Ink People Executive Director Libby Maynard said that though the probable loss of funding would have severe impacts on a couple of the center's new programs, the news was not entirely unexpected.
"Some of the feedback I was getting was giving me a sinking feeling," she said.
Among the programs affected, according to Maynard, were a proposed Digital Technology Center, which would train residents to use state-of-the-art digital media, and "Earth Matters on Stage," a proposed drama festival exploring humanity's relationship with the environment.
"We thought [these programs] would have the potential of having a high impact in the next couple of years," she said, adding that the center would be seeking other sources of revenue. (See p. 6 for related story on the Ink People.)
Paul Ziegler, chair of the Headwaters Fund Board, said that board members -- a group that represented the diversity of the county, he said -- judged proposals based on their potential for economic development, as the fund required.
"Those proposals that more closely adhered to the fund's general guidelines were looked at more closely coming out of the chutes," he said.
Nevertheless, he said, the board recognized the merit of proposal like those put forth by the Ink People, and regretted that there simply wasn't enough money to go around.
"Even those applications that we're not making a recommendation for are extremely valuable projects," he said. "But obviously, we have a limited amount of funds that we're working with in the grant cycle."
The county established the Headwaters Fund in 1999, after it received $22 million in state and federal funds as part of the negotiations to buy Headwaters Forest. The fund is used to promote economic development and the creation of jobs.
The Headwaters Fund Board is currently accepting applications to fill a vacant seat. Details and application forms can be found at www.theheadwatersfund.org. The deadline for application is Dec. 19.
by EMILY GURNON
Now that the recall effort against District Attorney Paul Gallegos has been scheduled for the March 2 ballot, the next big question is, who's going to run against him?
Former DA Terry Farmer, who was defeated by Gallegos in a stunning upset in March 2002, told the Journal that he is not interested in getting his old job back and has paid scant attention to the recall.
"I really have not followed it, frankly," he said. "That's a subject for the citizens of Humboldt County to take care of. I am now living and working in Sacramento." Farmer, who left Humboldt to take a job in the Solano County DA's office, has worked for the last six months as chief counsel at the Board of Prison Terms in Sacramento, where he said he plans to stay "for the foreseeable future."
One of Farmer's former prosecutors, however, is considering running against Gallegos. Leading a "short list" of potential candidates, according to some insiders, is Jim Kucharek, the current head of the county's Child Support Services department, which is responsible for enforcing child support court orders and collecting and distributing support payments.
Kucharek, 52, said he would probably take the Thanksgiving holiday to make a decision about whether to run. The Arcata resident and registered Republican acknowledged that he is being not-so-gently pressured by the anti-Gallegos forces to challenge the DA.
"They know I share their concerns," Kucharek said.
Kucharek (pronounced Ka-HAIR-ek), a Michigan native, is a former cop. He started his career in the Air Force police (after failing a color test required to be an air traffic controller, his first choice), served a total of six years in two county sheriffs' departments in Michigan, and then came to California, where he worked as an evidence technician in Santa Monica. Earning a law degree from Southwestern University School of Law in Los Angeles, he did not initially plan to be a prosecutor, working instead at a large Los Angeles firm that handled employment and civil law.
Fourteen years ago, Kucharek moved with his wife, Karin, and son to Humboldt County, where he was a prosecutor under then-District Attorney Farmer. He initially handled misdemeanors, and then moved up to felonies, doing the larger cases on the "dope beat." He was transferred nine years ago to the child support division.
That division is no longer within the DA's office, having been made a separate agency last year under a change in state law -- a fact that plays no small part in Kucharek's suitability for a recall challenge. Like his former colleagues, the prosecutors in the DA's office, Kucharek knows the job, knows the "shop," as he calls it, and knows county government. Unlike them, he would not be running against his own boss.
"That puts me on a small list," he said.
As to his concerns about Gallegos, he summed them up as what he calls a lack of "common sense judgment and leadership." Specifically? "Tim Stoen [the assistant district attorney] concerns me greatly. There's a guy who, for a good part of the `70s, was the number two in an organization that ended up in a mass suicide of over 900 people. When the DA puts him in a public position like that, where's the judgment? You have to wonder."
Kucharek was referring to the fact that Stoen served as a close advisor to Jim Jones of the Peoples Temple church.
He also pointed to the fact that the police and sheriff's department unions took a vote of no confidence in Gallegos, and questioned why Gallegos was surfing on a Friday afternoon earlier this year after, some allege, he told co-workers he was sick.
"I look at the style. I don't know all the facts behind the surfing accident," which brought the incident to public view, he said. But Gallegos has responded to those charges with a "non-denial denial," Kucharek said. "Maybe that's not the kind of leadership we want the DA to have."
Recall supporters have attempted to saddle Gallegos with a "soft-on-crime" label, another charge that Kucharek said Gallegos has done a poor job answering. Finally, Kucharek said he worries about the difficult decisions that will have to be made with the state budget mess. "If the budget gets short, we've got to start laying off people, deciding which cases (to) prosecute. If you lay off the wrong people in that department, it's going to take years to rectify that."
He spoke of Stoen again -- and made a reference to the time-consuming fraud litigation against Pacific Lumber, which he questioned on the grounds of the DA's limited resources. "Can you afford an assistant who does something like three cases? Or are you going to do murder cases?"
Gallegos' supporters have pointed out that the charges against him began flying just three months into his term -- too brief a time to see any discernable pattern. Gallegos himself has defended his record and said he is comfortable with his decision to hire Stoen, whom he called a "very highly regarded, skilled, ethical, experienced prosecutor." Regarding the surfing, Gallegos told the Eureka Reporter that he works many long hours and that he would not have had to tell anyone he was going home sick, since he is the boss.
While Kucharek walks the talk of the recall supporters, the fact that he does it with reason and charm may be what really makes him a formidable opponent of Gallegos.
But then again, maybe not.
"I like what I do," he said, beginning the list of reasons why he may decide against running. "I like the people I work around. I've got a good shop." It's selfish, too, he said: His son, Devin, is a senior at Arcata High and probably won't be at home for much longer. "You want to maximize that time. It's going to take a lot of hours to make that place [the DA's office] run at least the way I think it ought to run. And I'm not a politician."
The deadline for candidates to enter the recall race is Dec. 18.
© Copyright 2003, North Coast Journal, Inc.