For years we've been hearing that omega-3 fatty acids are good for our increasingly fatty asses. That's still true, so far as we can tell. (Well, they're for heart health, technically.) But when delivered via certain over-the-counter supplements, these beneficial fish oils may be accompanied by some nasty toxins, according to a lawsuit filed earlier this month by the Mateel Environmental Justice Foundation of Eureka.
In the local group's lab tests, 10 varieties of the pills contained polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, which are known carcinogens. The manufacturers insist the pills are safe and that California's Prop. 65 warning label requirements are unnecessarily strict.
Genuine health risk or tasty bait for grandstanding lawyers? The Chron has the latest story .
[H/t Highboldtage ]
In this week's Journal we write about the absconding of Dr. Fran Day from her medical practice in Eureka. She left without giving proper written notice to all of her patients and, apparently, she took their medical records with her.
While it may or may not be related to her disappearance, Dr. Day has been the subject of a couple of criminal complaints in recent months, one of which is still in play in Humboldt County Superior Court. The charges in that case allege Day impeded three ambulance workers as they attempted to take a patient to the hospital.
Meantime, the District Attorney's office is interested in speaking with former patients of Dr. Day's who were prescribed drugs and suffered overdoses, said Deputy D.A. Ben Mainzer this morning. Mainzer asks that such patients contact D.A. Investigator Jack Bernstein at the D.A.'s office, 445-7411.
After the press release of a couple weeks ago, you may have assumed this was a done deal already. It wasn't. Not until last night when CR's Board of Trustees took President Jeff Marsee's advice to abandon controversial plans to acquire Jefferson Elementary School on Eureka's West Side (see "Schoolyard Scrap," Feb. 18, 2010). And ooh-eee does Marsee sound bitter. Click "more" to read his comments, issued today in a press release.
The College of the Redwoods went into the west Eureka community with honest and honorable intentions. Rather than being welcomed and encouraged to invest more than $2 million in scarce resources to use the Jefferson School as an expanded downtown annex, CR was treated as an intruder and deal ‘spoiler.' After CR was threatened with potential legal and regulatory obstacles it became apparent that we could not be successful there at this time. CR just has too many important projects and too few funds to waste time and resources fighting unnecessary community battles.
He went on to wish "all the participating parties the best of luck" doing whatever they're gonna do with the site.
The SF Chron reports that Arcata author Lierre Keith, a former vegan turned anti-vegan , was pied with some sort of chili-pepper creme concoction while giving a speech in the Bay Area last weekend. Vegan anarchists claimed responsibility.
Roll the tape:
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Keith talks about the traumatic event here:
Interested in being Humboldt County's next tax man?
On the very last possible day to file for this race, longtime Humboldt County Treasurer/Tax Collector sent out a press release saying that he would not file for reelection. Instead, Strawn said, he would be supporting his assistant, John Bartholomew.
"[Bartholomew]'s knowledge of investments from his many years in the financial industry has been a great asset to protect the public's money while earning interest," Strawn wrote. "Few have his high level of ethics and desire to help their fellow citizens."
Potential challengers have until the end of the business day to file. The other races closing today include Fifth District Supervisor, Sheriff and Assessor.
UPDATE: Actually, the date on this here fax seems to read March 12.
When I talked with Raj Patel , a couple of years ago about the politics of food scarcity ( Why Does Food Cost More? ), I had no idea he would be proclaimed Maitreya , the Messiah for followers of a New Age cult known as Share International . But there he was on the Colbert Report last night denying his Messiah-hood (as predicted).
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|I Can't Believe It's Not Buddha - Raj Patel|
Learn more about how it came to pass in this New York Times piece .
And give a listen to the words of the Messiah on The Value of Nothing :
Yesterday the Times-Standard continued its tradition of leaving real estate market analysis to those who have a vested interest in said market. (See remarkably similar examples of T-S -published Realtor Pollyannaism here and here .) This time around, Coldwell Banker Cutten Realty agent Jill MacDonald set about answering this recurring query: "Is the real estate market picking up?"
"Yes," she concludes , "here locally our market has picked up." MacDonald offers no evidence for her assertion, perhaps because it's scant at best. The most recent data, in fact, shows that while home sales have indeed picked up a bit since May, the overall trend has been in the other direction. Sales declined more than 8 percent from the previous month and nearly 20 percent from a year ago. (See chart below.)
MacDonald also claims, "In typical North Coast fashion, we are isolated from huge economic changes both positive and negative," an assertion that has been debunked almost as often as it's been repeated. Look below at how our unemployment rate mirrors state and national trends. (Data from HSU Economics Dept.)
To her credit, MacDonald follows her Pollyannalysis with some solid advice to prospective home buyers and sellers. This is clearly her area of expertise and a valuable service to T-S readers. They should probably assign the big picture stuff to someone else, though.
Due to a couple of errors, the day for the Chris Chandler/Paul Benoit show at Old Town Coffee was listed incorrectly in the Hum and in Music and More. The show is on Monday, March 15.
Here's a song by the two of them:
First, the good news: Building permits and help wanted ads have both been trending upward for the past three months while unemployment insurance claims have been going down, according to the latest issue of the Humboldt Economic Index. These three categories are considered the best indicators of where our local economy is headed (i.e. the right direction). Also, lumber manufacturing increased last month by a whopping 22.5 percent over the previous month.
In fact, after two and a half years of fairly rapid declines, the Humboldt County economy has rebounded nicely since last October. Huzzah.
But look a little closer and it's not all gravy.
We said the three-month trends are good, and they are. But last month in particular...not so good. Building permits declined 29 percent; help wanted ads fell 8 percent.
Month-to-month fluctuations can be just that -- fluctuations. Or they could be signs that we have yet to hit bottom.
Consider the housing market: The median-priced Humboldt County home in January (the most recent month available) was $246,200, according to the Humboldt Association of Realtors. That's the lowest it's been since May 2004. It was also the fourth straight month of declines. Affordability (a measure of how close the typical family is to qualifying for a mortgage on a typical home) stands at 27 percent. That's way better than its mid-bubble nadir of 10 percent but still well below pre-bubble levels, which hovered in the 40s.
(Curious side note: The most expensive homes sold were in McKinleyville, which posted a median price of $337,500 compared to Arcata's $262,500, Eureka's $245,600 and Fortuna's freakishly low $144,250. Humboldt County Association of Realtors bookkeeper Staci Bishop had to quadruple-check that last figure, and she said it likely was just a fluke: Only four homes were listed there last month. Musta been doozies.)
Retail sales and hospitality also declined significantly. HSU Economics Professor Erick Eschker concludes, "despite aggressive government measures, sustained high unemployment, record foreclosures and weak sales continue."
Update: In January, Humboldt County's jobless rate jumped 1.3 percent from the previous month, landing at 12.7 percent, according to information released Wednesday by the North Coast Region of the state's Employment Development Division. That number is still slightly below California's rate of 13.2 percent.
If you've been following the story of College of the Redwoods' plans for the Jefferson School campus, you know the whole thing has not gone over well in the community or with the city of Eureka who had eyes for the property. Now it looks like CR has cold feet.
Here's a press release from Director of Communications and Marketing Paul DeMark:
CR may withdraw offer to buy Jefferson School
College of the Redwoods President Jeff Marsee announced today that he will recommend to the CR Board of Trustees that they withdraw their offer to buy the former Jefferson Elementary School from Eureka City Schools.
CR made an offer to buy the Jefferson site from Eureka City Schools in January. The Eureka City School Board accepted CR's offer. Marsee emphasized that even after CR's proposal to buy Jefferson from Eureka City Schools was approved, it was never an exclusive offer. Eureka City Schools accepted CR's request to have a 90-day review period during which CR could assess the structural conditions of the building and understand the concerns of neighbors and community members.
It was understood by CR and Eureka City Schools that other entities could also bid on the property during that 90-day review period. In the end, Eureka City Schools would make the final decision based on the best bid.
"We believe that the Jefferson School site would have provided a financially feasible opportunity to house our new career technical education programs and move the variety of training offerings now hosted at our Eureka Downtown Instructional Site to a location inside the City of Eureka," Marsee said. "We believed that CR's proposed investment of more than $2 million to purchase and renovate the Jefferson School was a strong commitment to the neighborhood and would have had many profound benefits for the Eureka community at large."
The college, Marsee said, does not consider other currently empty commercial properties in Eureka to be potential instructional sites due to the cost to renovate them and bring them up to required California building code requirements.
"We made our offer to purchase Jefferson School with high aspirations to increase educational access for Eureka residents and the North Coast community," Marsee said. "However, during our 90-day review period, it became clear to us in discussions with Jefferson neighbors and community members that there were dynamics involved with the property that we were not aware of when we submitted our offer.
"We want to thank everyone who shared their thoughts and opinions regarding our proposal for Jefferson School. We appreciate the overwhelming community support expressed for CR. We are encouraged by the plans the City of Eureka is in the process of developing with the Jefferson School neighborhood and wish everyone success with the project."
Edit: *Critical Race Gender & Sexuality Studies* :)
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