Holy crap! Wal-Mart may have been coy about moving into the Bayshore Mall, but its grand opening is gonna be off the chain! Get ready for a week-long explosion of orgiastic consumer pageantry the likes of which Eureka has never seen.
According to an apparently genuine invitation sent to the Journal and other local media outlets, the festivities will include dancing mascots, local luminaries and supplications before our nation's most revered non-corporate authorities -- God, the military and Old Glory.
Also on the 13th, Eureka High School's Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps will conduct a color guard flag ceremony; Wal-Mart grunts associates will sing "The Star Spangled Banner"; and corporate mascots including Chester Cheetah, Bimbo Bear and whatever Pepsi's mascot is will dance to "Let's Get It Started" by the Black Eyed Peas.
Still not excited? Well how about some Native American flute variations? A Wal-Mart employee has that covered for the June 10 "Welcome and Evening Preview Night." No? Well how do free, reusable shopping bags grab you? That's right: The first 300 customers on Saturday, June 16 get 'em! You read that right!
Maybe you'll be enticed by the presence of Eureka Mayor Frank Jager, Chamber of Commerce President J Warren Hockaday and Market Manager Chad Smith!
Still not convinced? Two words: Cupcake walk! The Wal-Mart tent will be set up on Saturday, June 16 featuring said walk, along with samples of smoothies and hot dogs, a "Prize Cube" for gift cards, an electronics department game tournament and Kellogg's face painting (whatever that means).
Our dark days are coming to an end, North Coast. Let's party!
(In case you think we're joking, here's a photo of the itenarary that came with the invitation.)
'Cuz now you're not. Press release from the Humboldt County Sheriffs Office:
On 05-30-2012, approximately 3:00 p.m. the Humboldt County Sheriffs Office Community Response Unit (C.R.U.) , served a Humboldt County Superior Court Search Warrant in the 1200 block of Landis Court, McKinleyville. The C.R.U. was acting on a tip they received on the Sheriff’s Office Tip Line. When the warrant was served deputies located fifty-six, three to four foot tall growing marijuana plants inside the residence, along with eighteen pounds of dried marijuana. The entire residence had been converted to a marijuana grow, and no one was living in the home. An expired out of area medical 215 card was posted in the residence. The Humboldt County Building Department and Pacific Gas & Electric were notified and responded to the scene. The electrical meter was removed from the home.
The investigation into the responsible parties is continuing.
Today, a group of California legal and advocacy groups including the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a federal class action lawsuit on behalf of prisoners at Pelican Bay State Prison. The suit alleges that prolonged confinement in so-called secure housing units (known as "the SHU," pictured above) amounts to torture, and that, in denying SHU inmates meaningful review for placement in the SHU, the government is violating their right to due process.
Last year, SHU inmates at Pelican Bay launched a hunger strike to protest their extreme confinement, which keeps them locked inside tiny cells for 23 hours or more per day. Some prisoners have been housed in these conditions for more than 20 years. The hunger strike eventually spread to thousands of inmates in prisons around the state and beyond. (See the Journal's Sep. 29, 2011 cover story, "Caged.")
The full complaint, which can be read here, alleges that "California's uniquely harsh regime of prolonged solitary confinement at Pelican Bay is inhumane and debilitating." The conditions have predictably caused psychological deterioration, the complaint continues. "Indeed, the prolonged conditions of brutal confinement and isolation at Pelican Bay cross over from having any valid penological purpose into a system rightly condemned as torture by the international community."
A press release from the Center for Constitutional Rights is posted below.
May 31, 2012, Oakland - Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of prisoners at Pelican Bay State Prison who have spent between 10 and 28 years in solitary confinement. The legal action is part of a larger movement to reform inhumane conditions in California prisons' Security Housing Units (SHU), a movement dramatized by a 2011 hunger strike by thousands of SHU prisoners; the named plaintiffs include hunger strikers, among them several of the principal negotiators for the hunger strike. The class action suit, which is being jointly filed by CCR and several advocate and legal organizations in California, alleges that prolonged solitary confinement violates Eight Amendment prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment, and that the absence of meaningful review for SHU placement violates the prisoners' right to due process.
"The prolonged conditions of brutal confinement and isolation such as those at Pelican Bay have rightly been condemned as torture by the international community," said CCR President Jules Lobel. "These conditions strip prisoners of their basic humanity and cross the line between human treatment and barbarity." Advocates hope that the suit will strike a blow against the increasingly routine use of solitary confinement in American prisons.
SHU prisoners spent 22 ½ to 24 hours every day in a cramped, concrete, windowless cell. They are denied telephone calls, contact visits, and vocational, recreational or educational programming. Food is often rotten and barely edible, and medical care is frequently withheld. More than 500 Pelican Bay SHU prisoners have been isolated under these conditions for over 10 years, more than 200 of them for over 15 years; and 78 have been isolated in the SHU for more than 20 years. Today's suit claims that prolonged confinement under these conditions has caused "harmful and predictable psychological deterioration" among SHU prisoners. Solitary confinement for as little as 15 days is now widely recognized to cause lasting psychological damage to human beings and is analyzed under international law as torture
Additionally, the suit alleges that SHU prisoners are denied any meaningful review of their SHU placement, rendering their isolation "effectively permanent." SHU assignment is an administrative act, condemning prisoners to a prison within a prison; it is not part of a person's court-ordered sentence for his or her crime. California, alone among all fifty states and most other jurisdictions in the world, imposes extremely prolonged solitary confinement based merely on a prisoner's alleged association with a prison gang. Gang affiliation is assessed without considering whether a prisoner has ever undertaken an act on behalf of a gang or whether he is - or ever was - actually involved in gang activity. Moreover, SHU assignments disproportionately affect Latinos. The percentage of Latino prisoners in the Pelican Bay SHU was 85% in 2011, far higher than their representation in the general prison population, which was 41%. The only way out of SHU isolation alive and sane is to "debrief," to inform on other prisoners, placing those who do so and their families in significant danger of retaliation and providing those who are unable to debrief effectively no way out of SHU isolation.
Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, California Prison Focus, Siegel & Yee, and the Law Offices of Charles Carbone are co-counsel on the case.
The case is Ruiz v. Brown, and it seeks to amend an earlier pro se lawsuit filed by Pelican Bay SHU prisoners Todd Ashker and Danny Troxell. The case is before Judge Claudia Wilken in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.
Getting money from people is fun. Filling out disclosure forms about those people is a pain.
It's also a legal necessity, meant to keep things transparent. Political candidates must submit donor disclosure forms, which list donors' names, addresses and occupations, every few months during the early months of the campaign, and as frequently as every 24 hours closer to election day. More than 900 people have donated $100 or more to the seven candidates for Humboldt County supervisor, and the candidates have filled in the blanks on all of them. Or wait -- make that, most of them.
First District County Supervisor candidate Rex Bohn's donor disclosure form for the January to March filing period is missing occupations for more than 60 donors, who collectively donated about $14,000 to his campaign. That violates California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) rules, which state that occupation must be noted. Furthermore, most of the donations without occupations date back two months or more, with some as old as nine months. According to the FPPC, donations that go unoccupied for more than 60 days must be returned.
Is that election fraud? Is this RexBohngate? The maximum fine for each violation is $5,000, and the candidate must give the money back, said FPPC spokesperson Tara Stock. Will Bohn soon be out $314,000?
Unlikely, says FPPC chief of enforcement Gary Winuk. "It isn't enforced too much." He said that in an investigation, the FPPC tries to determine whether the omission was intentional, whether it was an oversight, or whether it was due to a lack of political sophistication. "In general, if people admit their mistake and fix it, we just send them a warning," said Winuk.
Most investigations begin with a complaint from a political opponent, Winuk said. The FPPC has not received any complaints about the Bohn filings.
Bohn sounded surprised when asked about the missing occupations. "I saw them. ... I didn't see any blanks for the occupation," he said doubtfully. "Gimme some names."
"Harry's retired," Bohn said.
"Paul's an attorney," Bohn replied. "He and I went to St. Bernard's together."
"Owns Lima's Pharmacy," he said.
This continued for 20 or so names, with Bohn remembering every donor's place of employment.
What happened, said Bohn's financial guru John Fullerton, was that the volunteers tasked with filling out the donation forms didn't realize the importance of noting occupations. "I got all the reports on the morning that the report was due. And, it was also during tax season, and I'm a CPA," Fullerton said. He noticed the error, but figured that it would be better to get the forms in on time without the occupations than to turn them in late. Fullerton said he would consult with the FPPC to see what steps the Bohn campaign should take to make things right.
Over in the 3rd District, the occupation section of both the Brooks and Lovelace donor disclosure forms contained some oddities.
Brooks listed a dozen or so donors' occupation as "none." Among them were George Schmidbauer, widely known as the founder of Schmidbauer Lumber Inc., and Jim Pell, who, like Brooks, is a former state assembly candidate. (Pell and Brooks were defeated by Wes Chesbro, in 2008 and 2010 respectively.)
Both Schmidbauer and Pell are retired. Why, then, list their occupation as "none"? Semantics, said Brooks. "When they're not working, if they don't have an occupation, that would be, "none," she said. "You either have a job or you don't."
She turned the subject to her opponent, Mark Lovelace. "Mark's report is riddled with errors," she said. Lovelace just wrote, "requested," for some donors' occupations, and at least one dated back to March 30 -- exactly 60 days ago. "Technically, he should return those contributions," Brooks said.
Lovelace, reached by phone at a conference in Sacramento, said that many of his donations came through his website, and didn't have personal information attached. "We've been trying to chase down the rest," Lovelace said. "It's not like there's any donations that are anonymous or anything like that," he continued. "In this community, I think the names are pretty clear."
... Of course you do.
This was just one of many debaucheries committed on the Rutabaga Queen's annual Madaket Booze Cruise that rowdily buzzes soaked and exhausted Kinetic Grand Championship racers as they slog their way through Humboldt Bay.
Kinetic Queens and Kops and their followers sucked down Bloody Marys and mimosas on a day when the '90s jams were as plentiful as the sunshine -- "Creep?" "Big Poppa?" "No Diggity?" oh, yeah!
Along with the end-of-the-world signaling weird rainbow thing in the sky -- seriously, what was that thing? -- the highlight of the day came when reigning Queen Sohotshe Burns was asked to pull a nail from the nose of performer Ballyhoo Betty. We present you with visual evidence of the feat.
(Click photos to biggify.)
UPDATE: We figured out that the "weird rainbow thing" was a "circumhorizontal arc." So there.
For the complete "like"able set of Rutabaga Queen Cruise photos, head on over to the North Coast Journal's Facebook page. For photos of 2012 Kinetic Sculpture Klass attempting the deadly Humboldt Bay waterkrossing, we're gonna get around to it here.
UPDATE: More on that aerial color explosion. YouTuber "HumboldtMike" posted a cool, time-lapsy video of it. Watch below:
Here it is, Humboldt. Your complete visual wrap to 2012's Kinetic Grand Championship participants! What a time we had.
Kongratulations go out to Melvin for earning the title 2012 Kinetic Grand Champion. Scroll to the way bottom for a komplete list of award winners, as well as some video. See y'all next year.
(Click photos to biggify.)
2012 KINETIC GRAND CHAMPION / ACE Award Winner
Spectator's Choice Award / 2nd Place Art
-WRATH OF THE FUNGUY-
-HOOK AND T LADDER-
3rd Place Art
1st Place Art / 2nd Place Pageantry / Racer's Choice
-JUNE'S NEW SHOE-
Klamath Falls Committee Choice / Port Townsend Committee's Choice
-UNDER THE RAINBOW-
ACE Award winner / Klamath Falls Committee Choice
ACE Award Winner / 1st Place Engineering / 1st Place Pageantry / 3rd Place Speed / Klamath Falls Committee Choice / Most Cited
ACE Award winner / Most Improved / 2nd Place Speed
ACE Award winner / Best Bribe / They Came From Out of Town
Golden Dinosaur / You Klever Rascal
-ART GOES HERE-
Second to Last
-BETTY'S PEACE CRANE-
Best Pit Crew
Lord Duca Tape Award
-HENRY FORD GOES FLYING-
Biggest Splash / Klamath Falls Committee Choice
-EL MANGO DEL FUEGO-
ACE Award winner
-VISUALIZE WHIRLED PEAS-
ACE Award winner / 1st Place Speed / 3rd Place Engineering
-FROS 'N' PEAS 2.0-
ACE Award winner / 2nd Place Engineering
-TWO HOT CHICKS-
3rd Place Pageantry
-BLACK FOREST GNOME-
ACE Award winner / Corvallis da Vinci Days Committee Choice
Golden Flipper / Racer's Choice / Port Townsend Committee's Choice / Teddy Bear Award
Goddess Jen-O Award
ACE Award winner / Klamath Falls Committee Choice
One for the Little Guy
-HOBART HEARS A WHO-
Klamath Falls Committee Choice
-RED ROCKET 53-
Racer Survey Award
-KINETIC PARANORMAL SOCIETY-
2012 Kinetic Grand Champion
ACE Awards: Melvin, Apocalyptic Cockroach, Black Forest Gnome, Beyond Thunderdome, Chain Monkey, Visualize Whirled Peas, Petal-Ocalypse, Fros 'N Peas 2.0, Under the Rainbow, El Mango Del Fuego.
Engineering (ACE only):
1. Apocalyptic Cockroach
2. Fros 'N Peas 2.0
3. Visualize Whirled Peas
Speed (ACE only):
1. Visualize Whirled Peas
3. Apocalyptic Cockroach
2. Roadkill Cafe
3. Hook Ant Ladder
1. Apocalyptic Cockroach
3. Two Hot Chicks
Mediocre Award: Hella Peno
6:32 Award: Penelope Picante
Best Bribe: Beyond Thunderdome
Best Campsite: Wrath of the Funguys
Jr. Award: Budget Cuts
Best Pit Crew: Betty's Peace Crane
Best Volunteer: Blue West
Biggest Splash: Kingfisher
Corvallis da Vinci Days Committee Choice: Black Forest Gnome
Goddess Jen-O Award: Quickly-Constructed Chameleon
Golden Dinosaur: Spruce Deuce
Golden Flipper: Velo Crab
Klamath Falls Committee Choice: June's New Shoe, Kingfisher, Apocalyptic Cockroach, Under the Rainbow, Chain Monkey, Hobart Hears a Who
Lord Duca Tape Award: Octopus' Garden
Most Improved: Petal-Ocalypse
One for the Little Guy: Love Dragon
Port Townsend Committee Choice: June's New Shoe / Velo Crab
Racers' Choice: Bigfoot / Velo Crab
Second to Last: Art Goes Here
Spectators' Choice: Roadkill Cafe
Teddy Bear Award: Velo Crab
They Came from Out of Town: Beyond Thunderdome
You Klever Rascal (best non-ACE engineering): Spruce Deuce
Racer Survey Award: Lucky Stars
Kinetic Kops Awards:
Special Agent: Duane Flatmo
Most Cited: June Moxon, Apocalyptic Cockroach
2012 Rutabadass Queen: Duane Flatmo
In what seems to be a stunning, unprecedented coup d'état, 2007 Rutabaga Queen Emma Breacain, who also serves as Treasurer on the board of directors for Kinetic Universe, will now serve as "this year's Rutabaga Queen," according to a report in this morning's Times-Standard. This last minute shift in the Kinetic power structure comes just one day before the annual Kinetic Grand Championship is set to "spin into gear."
[Queen Emma is shown here in a 2007 photo, perhaps plotting with the late Glorious Kinetic Founder Hobart Brown, who seems shocked by her proposal.]
Ironically, Queen Emma "The Emchantress" was part of the group of Kinetic royalty that elected and crowned 2012 Rutabaga Queen Wendy "Sohotshe" Burns last weekend at the official Rutabaga Ball. It is uncertain at what point this affront to democratic transfer of power took place. Asked for a comment via Facebook message this morning, Queen Emma has so far declined comment. The whereabouts of rightful Queen Burns are unknown.
Update: In a bold admission of guilt, Queen Emma noted to Queen Burns (on Facebook), "Hey, looks like I'm getting a second reign, compliments of the Times Standard!"
Her official comment to the Journal, began with an evi laugh. "I have been planning my triumphant return for so long," she admitted, adding, "Sorry, Sohotshe, age and treachery always trumps youth and skill!"
[The rightful Queen is shown below just after receiving her crown.]
This actually happened. Andy Caffrey, you win.
Jay Leno creates another Humboldt celeb. Which begs the question: What has Conan ever done for us?
Another state park treasure has been rescued from closure heap, and this one's close enough to home -- just a pretty jaunt down Highway 299 -- to warrant notice: the Joss House Historic Park, in Weaverville.
The nonprofit Weaverville Joss House Association has agreed to raise at least $47,000 every year, which will help the state keep the park open at least two days a week. They've raised the money for 2012, and a couple thousands have been donated already for the coming years (by Ass. Wes Chesbro and the Weaverville Lions Club).
A news release sent out by the association noted that State Assembly Speaker Pro-Tempore Fiona Ma's connections with "the Asian community across California" were key to raising the funds for this year.
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