A car rolled by, and from a window a man with a bullhorn bellowed, "MLPA! Taking Our Tribal Rights Away! MLPA! Taking our tribal rights away!" A sign held by Yurok Tribal member Sammy Gensaw and Yurok employee Beorn Zepp -- here on his day off -- said the same thing. Gensaw, 16, has lived at the mouth of the Klamath River, in Requa, his whole life. He said he was worried about his tribe's ancestral gathering rights being taken away through the MLPA process -- which is creating marine protected areas up and down the coast, in some cases closing off areas from all kinds of resource extraction. Said Gensaw:
We've taken care of these lands for thousands of years, and the resource has always been abundant. But now it's our fault that it's depleted?
Gensaw gathers mussels, seaweed and a tiny little black creature with a spine that clings to the rocks.
You scrape them off the rocks, boil them in a big pot, peel the backbone off, and you eat them. They're awesome.
Gensaw and the other tribal protesters -- Yurok, Hoopa, Karuk and some from other regional tribes in Mendocino and Del Norte counties -- were calling themselves the Coastal Justice Coalition. It's an offshoot of the Klamath Justice Coalition, which has protested against everything from the Klamath dams to the Six Rivers National Forest's fire management.
On another corner, Hoopa Tribe member Laura Peters, held a sign that said, "Don't mussel us out!" Said Peters:
We're here to help preserve our natural resources -- our mussels, our eel, our salmon," she said. "We go down to the ocean to fish every season. My brother goes down there for three to four days and nights just to eel. And my niece, she gathers spruce root.
Her 19-year-old niece, Audrey Peters, stood nearby. She said the MLPA won't impact the gathering of spruce roots, which are used to make bowls. But other federal entities have closed off areas her tribe's always collected the roots, and other material, in. The MLPA, she said, is just another example of such intereference with tribal traditional activities.
The man with the bullhorn, now out of his truck and on the sidewalk, began to shout:
You are lame, Fish and Game! You are lame, Fish and Game!
Another log truck, its forks empty, passed by, laying on the horn, and Laura Peters followed it with her eyes:
That guy knows how it is, because his industry has gone away too. Everything is connected to something.
At 1 p.m., the protesters filed into the Red Lion and walked down the hall into the meeting room. The SAT members were in their seats up front. The audience section filled up with the protesters. Molli White, a Karuk and member of the Klamath Justice Coalition, laid a large white posterboard on a side table and began felt-penning in black and red the words "MLPA" inside a large slashed-out circle. Said White:
We're here to support the native right to gather -- something we've been doing since time immemorial. I brought my kids here today because it's their future this is affecting.
With the sound of White's pen squeaking loudly in the background, the SAT members began to introduce themselves one by one. After those formal introductions, a woman in the audience stood up and said her name and tribal affiliation. And one by one, nearly everyone followed suit.
And then the meeting commenced.
Outside in the hall, meanwhile, Stephen Kullmann was just arriving. Kullmann is the Wiyot Tribe's environmental director, although he's not Wiyot. He was here to represent the tribe, he said. And the Wiyot Tribe, like some others, was upset that no Wiyot had been appointed to be on the MLPA Regional Stakeholder Group for the North Coast. And, despite discussions between the tribe and MLPA folks, he said there had been insufficient give and take between the SAT and the tribes in determining what, if any, impacts could be attributed to tribal traditional gathering. Said Kullmann:
Once again, Western Science is going to dictate to the tribes what the environmental impacts of their traditional activities are. It seems like tribes are being punished all over again. There've been impacts to fisheries, but not by the tribes. And there've been proposals that would impact traditional gathering areas, that would be in MPAs.
And yet, Kullmann said, if the tribes ask for these gathering grounds to be excluded, Fish and Game responds that the State of California doesn't have the authority to grant "special" rights.
But the tribes are saying, it's not "special" rights. It's existing rights.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll released today shows that support for this November's Proposition 19, which would legalize marijuana in the state, is slightly trailing but within the survey's margin of error -- 48 percent for, 50 percent against, with a 4 percent margin.
Today's Times-Standard alerts us to the fact that the latest edition of California Department of Justice's crime statistics for the year 2009 have just been released. That, plus a similar release from the FBI, tells us that it's time to update the chart we published back at the beginning of May, in response to one of incumbent District Attorney Paul Gallegos' campaign planks -- that the crime rate has fallen to new lows under his watch, and that he and his office deserve the credit for the drop.
The evidence for the claim was pretty thin back then, but given the customary level of hurlyburly and hype in any political campaign, we judged this particular piece of hokum in bounds. Today's news, though, is egg on the face. Following a dramatic uptick last year, the violent crime rate in Humboldt County as of 2009 was higher than when Gallegos took office. The rates in California and the nation at large, meanwhile, continued to fall.
So you can expect this particular plank to vanish from Gallegos campaign literature as we move into the November runoff. Again, all's fair in love and politics.
What doesn't seem quite so seemly is Gallegos sloughing off last year's big bump to the Times-Standard's Matt Drange.
”Humboldt County got hit hard last year -- there was a lot of stress,” said Gallegos, who added that the economy was a key issue. “You tend to see that stress reflected in the courts.”
Yellow flag! You don't get to claim sole credit for lowering crime rates if, when they rise, you say that it's all someone or something else's fault. You do the crime, you do the time (as it were).
"[T]his is Reagan country and (applause), YEAH! And perhaps it was destiny that the man who went to California's Eureka College would become so woven within and inter-linked to the Golden State.''
-- Fox News Personality Sarah Palin, addressing a crowd at CSU Stanislaus
College of the Redwoods, which must get this every once in a while, helpfully disambiguates the matter on its Twitter feed.
College of the Redwoods Trustee George Truett this week sent a letter to District Attorney Paul Gallegos -- and matching ones to the DAs of Del Norte and Mendocino counties -- accusing CR professors of breaking the law. Truett alleges that the Academic Senate, the governing body that represents CR faculty, violated the Brown Act by holding "one or more illegal secret meetings" earlier this year.
Truett says the professors voted outside their regularly scheduled, publicly noticed meetings to endorse a CR budget proposal that limits enrollment. Truett objects not only to the alleged secrecy of the vote but to the vote itself. In a letter sent to the Journal offices along with copies of his letter to Gallegos, Truett suggests that the Academic Senate acted selfishly at the expense of students.
"Yes, these are tough fiscal times," Truett writes, "but should students be cut first?"
This is the latest riposte in the nasty academic sword fight that has been raging between faculty and staff on the one side and President Jeff Marsee and the CR Board of Trustees on the other. (Even students have gotten into the fray.) Faculty and staff have accused Marsee of tyranny and the Board of being asleep at the wheel. Marsee and the Board have countered that faculty leadership has grandiose notions about the extent of their governing powers. Meanwhile, the school has been ordered by its sanctioning body, the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, to get these roles and responsibilities straight by October, or its accreditation might be in jeopardy.
Calls to Gallegos and Academic Senate Co-president David Holper were not immediately returned Thursday afternoon.
At their last meeting, the Humboldt County Planning Commission set a condition for approval of the Reggae Rising permit for this year -- Tom Dimmick must pay off a slew of agencies he owed money to, or the party's over. (See previous blog post for details.)
When I tuned in the meeting tonight on TV, the discussion was almost over. I came in just in time to see Dimmick return to the podium clutching a handful of checks made out to the Sheriff's Dept., the CHP and others.
His apparent success at rounding up the money did not convince Commissioner Ralph Faust. When the chairman asked, "What's the pleasure of the commission on this matter?" Faust put forward a motion to "adopt the resolution circulated by staff ... to cancel the Reggae Rising event because of failure to comply with the conditions of approval and mitigation measures."
Faust pointed out that some of the public agencies had said "unequivocally" that they would not sign off on the event. (Based on that and a planning staff report the Times Standard basically rang the death knell for the festival in today's paper.) Faust said he regretted that, "This has the potential of a significant economic impact upon the county," particularly the southern part of the county, but...
But he still wanted it canceled. He went on to say he was not impressed by Dimmick's "grandstanding" at tonight's meeting.
Commissioner Bruce Emad, identifying himself as a longtime supporter of the festival, said he agreed with Faust. He too thought Reggae Rising should be cancelled for this year.
"When I say 'Yes,' I give him a license to go one more year and defraud a whole bunch of merchants and people who put their heart and soul into this thing," said Emad.
Dimmick's only hope was a motion to continue the item -- and that's what he got from Commissioner Dennis Mayo, who noted, "I want to see him pay the money with the checks he brought tonight."
(We could not see it on camera, but that's apparently what was happening during the commission discussion.)
Mayo added that another condition for approval was that "everything will be done" by the commission's July 1 meeting. Commissioner Jeffrey Smith seconded Mayo's motion. A vote was taken. It passed.
Reggae Rising got another reprieve: Dimmick was given another two weeks -- until July 1 -- to get his ducks in a row.
In the end, the chairman called Dimmick back to the podium to tell him, "You have an enormous task in front of you... . I expect you plan to be busy as a beaver."
Dimmick assured him he's already been as "busy as a beaver" and will stay busy in the weeks ahead.
Reggae Rising is scheduled for August 6-8. Tune in July 1 for the next episode of the RR Planning Commission saga.
Whole Foods is pulling the fermented tea known as kombucha off its shelves, according to the Associated Press. And it's not because the yeasty bacterial tendrils swimming about in this beverage, to which some attribute magical properties, make it look like a Snapple that's been sneezed into all day. No, apparently the fermentation process can produce alcohol, and any beverage that's more than .5 percent hooch must carry a government warning.
The booze component might help explain some rumored side effects, like lowered anxiety and cure for insomnia, but it doesn't account for supposed healing effects the drink has on sweaty feet, balding, diarrhea and AIDS. Jury's still out on that stuff.
Humboldt County's outgoing flight destinations continue to dwindle. After Aug. 22, Horizon Air will no longer offer its daily flights from the Arcata-Eureka Airport (ACV) to Seattle via Redding, according to a press release issued today. This news comes barely four months after Delta Air Lines abandoned ACV entirely, eliminating Denver as a direct-flight option for North Coasters.
When reached by the Journal, Horizon VP of Marketing and Communications Dan Russo refused to give out hard numbers on passenger data, saying only that the northbound flights "weren't doing as well as we'd hoped." Until last year, Horizon's northbound route went to Portland (again, via Redding), but the company switched that destination to Seattle, hoping the larger city would prove a more popular destination, Russo said. "But we didn't see the results that we wanted," he added.
Horizon still offers two daily flights to L.A., one direct and one through Redding. Customers who already bought tickets on the cancelled flights will either be "reaccommodated" on other flights or given a full refund, the release promises. "It's unfortunate when schedule frequency is reduced or service discontinued, and we regret any inconvenience these changes will cause," Russo said.
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