Defense attorney James Brosnahan (center, bald) and Maxxam chief Charles Hurwitz (behind Brosnahan) leave the Oakland federal courthouse Monday, which turned out to be the last day of the trial. Photo: John Geluardi.
This just in from Oakland: Parties in the fraud suit against Charles Hurwitz , former owner of the Pacific Lumber Company, have reached a settlement after one week of trial. Journal freelancer John Geluardi reports that former CDF employees Chris Maranto and Richard Wilson have agreed to drop their whistleblower suit against the Texas financier in exchange for $4 million. Originally, the two had sought damages of up to $750 million for allegedly defrauding the federal government during the Headwaters Forest deal.
We'll have updates here as the day goes on, and this week's Journal will feature a cover story looking back at the trial.
Anything worthwhile in the partial 2008-09 Humboldt Grand Jury report released this morning?
A couple of things, maybe.
1. The GJ took a special look at the Assessor's Office this time around. It found: A) that the office isn't keeping up with scheduled employee personnel reviews; B). that some money might be saved by consolidating it with another county office, as happens elsewhere in the state; C). that there's a somewhat distateful practice of "grooming" certain staff members to run for Assessor, an elected position, when a vacancy arises at the top; and D). that the office could do a lot better with technology, including putting property records and other information up on the Web.
2. The GJ is skeptical of the county expense required to maintain the public animal shelter up by the Eureka/Arcata airport. Interesting nugget: All pet food at the shelter is donated by Science Diet, free of charge.
3. The Redway Solid Waste Transfer Station, located next to the Eel River Conservation Camp, isn't fenced on one side. Therefore it can be easily breached. Says the GJ:
Inmates from the Conservation Camp, as well as members of the general public, have been known to rummage through the station in search of alcohol or marijuana remnants. In the event of a personal injury to one of these trespassers, Humboldt County could be found liable.
Recommendation: Build a fence to wall off that unpleasant imagery from our minds.
Download the partial 2008-2009 Humboldt Grand Jury report (.pdf).
"We're in the first leg of a marathon," said Humboldt County Public Health Officer Dr. Ann Lindsay at a press conference on swine flu a few moments ago.
Good news first. There have been 8 cases cases of swine flu so far in California, Lindsay said -- she didn't include this late-breaking case in Sacto -- and epidemiologists have spent a massive amount of effort studying those cases. Their conclusion: This new flu doesn't seem to be any more virulent than your average strain. Only about 13 percent of the people who came into contact with the California infectees themselves came down sick. And everyone patient in the U.S. has recovered nicely, so far.
In fact, Lindsay insisted that there is no solid evidence that swine flu has actually killed anyone at all -- even in Mexico. She said that researchers there simply are not sure. There's no doubt that swine flu is spreading around quickly down there, but so are more common variants of the flu virus. It's not impossible that the disease has killed people, but it is true that most media reports on fatalities from the disease contained the word "suspected" in there somewhere.
But Lindsay said that Humboldt County is ramping up its monitoring, and health officials here are participating in daily conference calls with the California Department of Public Health. There have been no confirmed or suspected cases in Humboldt County to date. The county does have emergency measures at the ready, including the possibility of school closures and such, but we're a long way away from that. There are a couple of antiviral drugs that have some effectiveness in combating the swine flu, and the county maintains a stockpile of them for at-risk individuals in that becomes necessary.
Humboldthealthalert.org is your source for breaking Humboldt County swine flu info; the "health alerts" section currently contains a great deal of information, including tips on how to prevent the spread of the disease, if it comes to that.
KHUM deejay Larry Trask is on the road in Arcata, and I'll be his guest 'round about 3 p.m. today. That's 104.3/104.7 FM, or live on the Web at khum.com.
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