Thursday, July 19, 2012

VIDEO: Inside the Pelican Rescue

Posted By on Thu, Jul 19, 2012 at 9:27 AM

As a supplement to his story on the ongoing brown pelican crisis, Scottie Lee Meyers, the Journal's brand-spankin'-new intern, shot and edited the YouTube video below, in which Lucinda Adamson, an intern for Bird Ally X, offers a tour of the emergency response efforts underway at the Humboldt Wildlife Care Center. Hooray for interns!

Also, if you're up to the task, Bird Ally X is looking for volunteers and donations for the work they're doing. More info on their Facebook page.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Bipartisan Bill Would Protect Medical Marijuana Patients From Feds

Posted By on Wed, Jul 18, 2012 at 4:23 PM

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What do Lynne Woolsey, Ron Paul and Barney Frank have in common? Okay, yes, they're all U.S. Congress members (for a few more months, anyway). But more to the point, they're part of a bipartisan group of lawmakers co-sponsoring a bill that would give valid medical marijuana patients extra cover from federal prosecution. 

[Update 4:35 p.m.: As if we didn't have enough local relevance, the feds (including the Department of Homeland Security) have been conducting a series of raids across the county today.]

The Truth In Trials Act would allow medical marijuana patients to use compliance with state laws as an "affirmative defense" in court:

Any person facing prosecution or a proceeding for any marijuana-related offense under any Federal law shall have the right to introduce evidence demonstrating that the marijuana-related activities for which the person stands accused were performed in compliance with State law regarding the medical use of marijuana, or that the property which is subject to a proceeding was possessed in compliance with State law regarding the medical use of marijuana.

The bill reads like a declaration of states' rights at a time when federal prosecutors are Hulk-smashing dispensaries left and right, sparking criticism from state and local officials, industry groups, journalists and likely voters.

Northern California U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag has been perhaps the most defiantly aggressive pot prosecutor, going after some of the most reputable dispensaries in the state and penning implied threats of prosecutions to local officials.

When Haag's office busted Oakland's Harborside Health Center earlier this month, it wasn't because the dispensary had broken any laws -- she just thought it was just too big. She justified her office's asset forfeiture proceeding with this statement, which explains:

The larger the operation, the greater the likelihood that there will be abuse of the state's medical marijuana laws, and marijuana in the hands of individuals who do not have a demonstrated medical need.

Haag has threatened to seize the Oakland property where the dispensary operates, along with its sister shop in San Jose. The Truth In Trials Act would make such actions more difficult. It has a provision that reads:

Any property seized in connection with a prosecution or proceeding to which this section applies ... shall be returned to the owner not later than 10 days after the court finds the defense is valid, minus such material necessarily destroyed for testing purposes.

The bill, introduced yesterday, is sponsored by Rep. Sam Farr, a Democrat whose 17th Congressional District includes Salinas and Santa Cruz.

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Monday, July 16, 2012

Bust O' The Day: 609 Plants Seized in Occupant-less Benbow House

Posted By on Mon, Jul 16, 2012 at 3:44 PM

Release from the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office:

On 07-16-2012, at approximately 11:30 a.m., the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Community Response Unit (C.R.U.) served a search warrant on a residence in the 6100 block of Benbow Drive, Benbow, after receiving information there was a marijuana grow in the residence. When deputies served the Humboldt County Superior Court Search Warrant they located and seized 609 growing marijuana plants ranging in height from 2’ to 3’ tall. The deputies also located scales, packaging material and paperwork indicative of sales of marijuana. No one was located in the residence, and it appeared the residence was not being lived in. It appeared it was only being used to cultivate marijuana.
 
The investigation into who is responsible for the residence and cultivation is ongoing.

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Sorry, Wee Marty

Posted By on Mon, Jul 16, 2012 at 3:10 PM

Wildlife biologist Ric Schlexer, with the U.S. Forest Service office in Arcata, called today to correct an outlandish mistake we propagated in a previous post about the wee Humboldt marten.

In the post, "Bite You in the Face" -- about the Center for Biological Diversity's Endangered Species Act-related lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service -- we repeated something the Center said in its news release: that Martes americana humboldtensis bites porcupines in the face. It ain't so, says Schlexer:

"The fisher bites porcupines in the face," he said. "Martens have never been known to do that. A porcupine is three or four times the size of an adult marten."

The two species are in the same family -- Mustelidae, which also includes weasels, otters, wolverines and badgers. And while fishers and martens might seem quite similar -- as opposed to otters and badgers, say -- the fisher weighs between eight and 13 pounds while the Humboldt marten weighs between 1.2 and 3.4 pounds, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Now, you tell us, who's gonna be more likely to take on a 15- to 20-pound lunker of a porcupine?

It's possible the Center for Biological Diversity news release writer confused the critter with its big bro the Pacific fisher, over whose lack-of-protection status the Center also has sued.

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Friday, July 13, 2012

Fastest Route Between Eureka and Arcata Finally Determined!

Posted By on Fri, Jul 13, 2012 at 1:48 PM

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Are you sitting down? Because we just put the squash on an age-old Humboldt County debate: What is the fastest way to get to Arcata from Eureka?
 
The safety corridor takes it. No contest. Samoa Boulevard is slower. Though at times Highway 101’s 50 miles-per-hour speed limit can feel constricting (my station wagon putters in protest, its four mighty cylinders begging for more gas) that straight safety stretch is definitely the quicker option, says highway patrol Officer Chase Adams. “Both time-wise and in mileage.”
 
Measured from the highway patrol station at the southern edge of Arcata to the Pachanga Mexicana restaurant in Eureka, where Highway 101 meets Highway 255, the safety corridor route is 7.4 miles and takes 10 minutes to drive, according to the Google machine. The back route, through Manila, is 9.3 miles long, and takes 16 minutes. The speed limit there is a heart-pounding sweat-palming 55 miles per hour.
 
The speed gap is likely to close in the future, making the safety corridor comparatively even quicker. During a conversation in March, 3rd District County Supervisor Mark Lovelace said that CalTrans is working on a plan to lower the speed limit through Manila. It’s unclear when the slow-down will occur. Anyway, that’ll be sweet for all those people with the “I drive 45 in Manila” signs and bumper stickers, and any other supporters of public safety.
 
As for which way is the pleasanter drive –  “It’s completely objective,” Officer Adams says. “It depends whether you like dunes or eucalyptus trees.”
 
Populace, now informed: Go forth and commute.

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Betsy Lambert Out at KIEM Channel 3

Posted By on Thu, Jul 12, 2012 at 3:51 PM

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Betsy Lambert, the controversial, viral-video-producing news director for KIEM "News Channel 3," has been shown the door. From her Facebook page:

To all my loyal viewers and supporters. I no longer work for KIEM. My contract ran out and the general manager decided to not renew. I want to thank all of you for your support and love. My husband and I have fallen in love with the North Coast and we plan on staying. We will continue to stay involved with baseball, community events and fundraisers. Again, we cant thank you all enough from the bottom of our hearts for making us feel so welcome here. -Betsy

Previous News Channel 3 bits:

How I was banned from the KIEM News Channel 3 Facebook page

The Poop Scoop

"Who Pooped And Peed On the Bank (Ode to Betsy Lambert)"

Gawker: Reporter's Quest to Find Out 'Who Pooped on the Bank?' Ends on Awkward Note

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Committee to Study Something

Posted By on Wed, Jul 11, 2012 at 5:35 PM

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At the end of six hours of testimony with nary a break for lunch Wednesday, the North Coast Railroad Authority board voted 6-0 to form a committee to study -- something -- just not what the Humboldt County Supervisors and State Assemblyman Wes Chesbro had requested.

The “ask” from Humboldt leaders was to form a committee to study railbanking as an option to protect and maintain the deteriorating railroad right-of-way, between Arcata and Eureka. The 1983 federal railbanking law allows a line that is out of service to be used as a trail in the interim, until rail service is restored.

It has been 15 years since a train has run on any tracks on the North Coast. The line has seen no maintenance and is rapidly deteriorating, as evidenced in a slide show and report from the Humboldt County Public Works Department.

In the motion they passed, NCRA directors agreed “to support formation of a Humboldt Bay Rail Corridor Committee to evaluate creation of trails, restoration of the rail prism [the rail bed] and restoration of rail service consistent with NCRA trail policy” as long as someone else pays their expenses to attend any meetings.

That sounded at first like a win for trail proponents, but the catch is the “consistent with NCRA trail policy” clause. Director John McCowen pointed out repeatedly that the NCRA has only a policy on rails-with-trails –- trails alongside a rail line. It has no “rail-to-trails” policy, which would allow removal of the existing line to create a bicycle and pedestrian trail along the bay.

A rail-with-trail project between Arcata and Eureka would cost more than $31 million vs. $4 million for a trail, according to a 2007 feasibility study.

Director Hal Wagenet said any use of the word “railbanking” would be “a non-starter” for him, so the committee’s name was changed.

The rail operator, John Williams of Northwestern Pacific Railroad Co., attended the meeting. He admitted he has no current plans to restore rail service to the north end of the line and suggested Humboldt County come up with its own plan. In a previous letter, he said he opposes railbanking and he opposes any committee.

The NCRA board meets in Novato next month.

In the meantime, the Bay Trail Advocates have some very cool buttons to pass out and an active website: www.baytrailplan.org.

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No Crime Here, Jury Says

Posted By on Wed, Jul 11, 2012 at 11:28 AM

In the first trial test of a new law, a Humboldt County jury decided this morning that the three people who lit candles outside the county courthouse after 9:30 p.m. did nothing illegal.

The verdict comes despite the county's attempt to ban most people from being on courthouse grounds between 9:30 p.m. and 6 a.m.

"I think it will send a message," said Deputy Public Defender Casey Russo. "This decision shows that it will be very difficult to prosecute these cases."

Russo said one of the jurors told him after the verdict that the jury relied heavily on one particular instruction from the judge. The judge had explained that if the people holding the candlelight vigil truly believed they were exercising their First Amendment rights of free speech and assembly, then they would not have the mental state required to commit a crime in this case.

Russo said he hopes county supervisors will revise the law, which was written during the Occupy Eureka protests.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

HCSO Seeks Missing Eureka Teen

Posted By on Tue, Jul 10, 2012 at 4:23 PM

UPDATE 7/12 9:00 a.m. She came home. Press release from the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office:

Missing juvenile Donnaya Bell, 16 years safely returned home to her residence on her own on 07-11-12. She was a voluntary missing juvenile.

Original post. Press Release from the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office:

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On 07-10-2012, approximately 9:30 a.m. the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a missing juvenile. The grandmother of the juvenile reported she last saw her granddaughter, Donnayah Brichae Bell nickname of “Naya” , 16 years old, on Saturday,  7-7-2012, approximately 7:00 p.m. when she left her Roanne Avenue, Eureka residence for Arts Alive in Eureka. The grandmother, who is her legal guardian has not seen Donnayah since, however she did receive a text from her cell phone on 7-9-2012, about 7:30 p.m. stating she was fine. Donnayah has medical issues which she needs medication for.

Donnaya Bell is further described as, dark skinned, 5-7 tall, 140 lbs, brown eyes, long black hair with a lip piercing, braces and was last seen wearing blue jeans, a black leather jacket or hoodie.

Anyone with information for the Sheriffs Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriffs Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriffs Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.

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Shell Out

Posted By on Tue, Jul 10, 2012 at 3:23 PM

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Well, looks like that pretty ridge view is safe from those nasty turbines now.

This from Shell:

Shell exits Bear River Ridge Wind Project

We would like to inform you that Shell WindEnergy Inc. has decided to exit the Bear River Wind Project due to unfavorable market conditions and issues pertaining to the transportation logistics. This means that we will stop all development activities related to the project including - community consultation, project and transmission design, EIR/EIS permitting, transportation and environmental studies.

Wind is an important renewable energy resource and a valuable part of a sustainable energy portfolio. Shell continues to operate our existing wind assets and look for opportunities to grow our wind portfolio.

The project development team would like to express our deep thanks to all of the families, community leaders and individuals who have supported the proposed project over the years.

Best Regards,

Shell WindEnergy Inc.

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