Monday, June 10, 2013

Harbor Commissioner Aaron Newman Arrested for Alleged Perjury

Posted By on Mon, Jun 10, 2013 at 4:17 PM

click to enlarge Aaron.jpg

Aaron Newman, a Humboldt Bay Harbor District commissioner, prominent commercial fisherman and lifelong local, was arrested on Saturday by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for allegedly falsifying applications for the taking of wildlife.

As first reported by the Lost Coast Outpost, Newman was booked into the Humboldt County jail on felony perjury charges.

The longtime president (and current vice-president) of the Humboldt Fishermen's Marketing Association, Newman was a member of the Marine Life Protection Act stakeholder group here on the North Coast. In an applying for that position (to the very agency that arrested him), Newman wrote, "In addition to operating my own commercial fishing vessel since 1997, I have been a recreational fisherman and diver since I was old enough to hold a fishing rod."

Calls to Newman were not immediately returned.

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Friday, June 7, 2013

Time to Hang Up the Old Dredge?

Posted By on Fri, Jun 7, 2013 at 3:34 PM

click to enlarge Suction dredge on the Salmon River, 2007. - PHOTO BY HEIDI WALTERS.
  • Photo by Heidi Walters.
  • Suction dredge on the Salmon River, 2007.

It looks like gold mining in California’s rivers is about to get a little harder.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife is asking the state to close a loophole in a 2009 ban on suction dredge mining.
Fish lovers and gold bugs have been at odds for years. The moratorium, scheduled until 2016, was issued to give the state enough time to figure out new regulations and how it would pay to enforce them.

But the moratorium contained some ambiguous language, including the definition of a suction dredge as a hose, a motor and a sluice box. Undeterred, clever miners realized they could simply take off the sluice box and voilà! — it’s no longer a dredge. Instead of being sorted aboard the dredge, all that gravel, and the bits of gold mixed in, is pumped onto the bank or another container for sorting. The technique is clearly diagrammed on at least one gold advocate’s website.

If Fish and Wildlife’s proposed changes go through, the language defining a dredge will be removed — making it clear that sucking gravel from the river bed ain’t OK. Manual techniques — gold panning, for example — are allowed.

The changes are a response to a March petition from the Karuk Tribe and other environmental groups and will be subject to a five-day public comment period sometime after June 17.

Click through to read press releases from Fish and Wildlife and the Karuk Tribe.

Continue reading »

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Nurses and St. Joe's near accord on contract

Posted By on Fri, Jun 7, 2013 at 3:16 PM

After months of negotiations punctuated by heavy picketing, nurses at three St. Joseph Health System hospitals – in Eureka, Petaluma and Apple Valley -- have tentatively settled on a new collective bargaining agreement.

In Eureka, one of the nurses' main complaints was that reductions in support staff had resulted in other nurses feeling overworked and tired. They were asking for their support staff to be restored, and a news release from the California Nurses Association indicates this, and some other demands, could be met if the new contract sticks:

"Nurses won improved RN-to-patient safe staffing ratio language, successfully fought off substantial increases to their healthcare premiums, and secured removal of a punitive “wellness” program (a study just released yesterday documented that wellness programs fail to provide promised savings while penalizing employees who may have chronic health problems)."

Dr. David O’Brien, interim president of St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka, said in a statement that St. Joe's looks "forward to the contract being ratified by our nurses in the coming weeks."

Contract negotiations continue, meanwhile, at another St. Joseph hospital, Santa Rosa Memorial, where nurses are represented by their local staff nurses association, says the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.

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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Arcata Council Says OK to Oyster Fest Fences and Fees

Posted By on Wed, Jun 5, 2013 at 8:35 PM

click to enlarge Oyster Fest's fencing plan.
  • Oyster Fest's fencing plan.

It’s a go. The Arcata City Council gave the thumbs up tonight for fencing around the Arcata Plaza for this month’s Oyster Festival, which will cost $10 for adults to enter. Mayor Shane Brinton was the only councilmember to vote against the fence, saying blocking off and charging to enter the plaza was “inappropriate.”

“I say it with no ill will, but this is our downtown commons,” Brinton said.

It’s not just the plaza’s inner sanctum that will be fenced off. The six-foot cyclone fences will extend to the edges of many of the plaza’s surrounding buildings, meaning only paying festivalgoers will be able to access the businesses (see the picture above). This is with the apparent blessing of the business owners. Those who disagreed with the plan were excluded from the fenced-off zone.

Continue reading »

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Pot, Pot Everywhere ... Also a Hand Grenade

Posted By on Wed, Jun 5, 2013 at 3:28 PM

click to enlarge DSCN0264.JPG

The Humboldt County Sheriff's Office had a big day yesterday, as one big pot bust led to a money seizure and then another pot bust, topped off with a hand grenade.

It started at 8:40 a.m. in Carlotta, as the Sheriff's Office Community Response Team and the multi-agency Humboldt County Drug Task Force served a search warrant at 81 Fir Loop Court, according to a press release. There they found:

• About 53 pounds of bud packed in one-pound bags

• 72 pounds of dried marijuana

• 1,213 plants, ranging from one inch to four feet high

• 4 rifles

• $9,600 in cash

• A scale, packaging material “and other evidence indicating the marijuana was being sold”

click to enlarge DSCN0155.JPG

Two men were arrested (Gregory Aaron Stephens, 37, and Benjamin Robert Rose, 22) followed by a third when Allan Henry Costa, 23, drove up to the scene and "refused to comply with the officers' demands," the release states.

Stephens, you may recall, was one of four men arrested last September for a home invasion that involved kidnapping, child endangerment and bear pepper spray. He was eventually placed on probation.

But the day was just getting started.

Continue reading »

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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Richard Marks Appointed to NCRA Board

Posted By on Tue, Jun 4, 2013 at 3:16 PM

click to enlarge This is what the NCRA line looks like in Humboldt County.
  • This is what the NCRA line looks like in Humboldt County.

The tie-breaking vote fell to 5th District Supervisor Ryan Sundberg, much to his chagrin. At today's meeting, all five county supervisors commended the two high-quality candidates for the board of the North Coast Railroad Authority — Dan Hauser, a political veteran who served in the state Assembly, helped create the NCRA and spent two years as the agency’s executive director, and Richard Marks, a current Harbor District commissioner.

After public comment and much hand-wringing, 4th District Supervisor Virginia Bass moved to appoint Marks, and 3rd District Supervisor Mark Lovelace seconded the motion. Second District Supervisor Estelle Fennell indicated her preference for Hauser, and 1st District Supervisor Rex Bohn agreed, leaving Sundberg in the hot seat.

“I’m on the fence,” he said, more than once. Visibly uncomfortable, Sundberg looked left then right, mused a bit on his indecision and then finally said he’d support Marks. The motion to appoint Marks passed 3-2.

On its face this would seem to be something of a win for trail advocates, as Hauser has historically been more of a hard-line rail-resurrection type. Both men said they'd be open to the return of rail service to Humboldt Bay, though they also admitted that they don't have a specific plan to make that happen. This is not surprising considering no one else has such a plan either.

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Monday, June 3, 2013

More Banishments?

Posted By on Mon, Jun 3, 2013 at 3:54 PM

click to enlarge Arty Jones - SCOTTIE LEE MEYERS
  • Scottie Lee Meyers
  • Arty Jones

You may remember the plight -- or comeuppance, some would say -- of Arthur ("Arty") Pliny Jones, the convicted drug felon and Hoopa Valley Tribal member whom the tribe's council last year voted to banish from the reservation. In fact -- quick update -- Jones' banishment has not yet been enforced; he appealed the decision, and final arguments were made in a hearing before a three-judge tribal court panel last month, according to the Two Rivers Tribune. Now, said his daughter Leilani Pole by phone earlier today, they're just waiting for the court to hand down its order.

Meanwhile, according to another TRT report, tribal chairman Leonard ("Elrod") Masten is pushing for more banishments -– this time of all registered sex offenders living on the reservation who are not members of the tribe. Notes the TRT:

"A recent search of Megan’s Law shows that zip code 95546 (Hoopa) has 17 registered offenders. At least three of whom are residents of the Weitchpec and Pecwan areas, which share the same zip code. Six of whom are not Hoopa tribal members. The remaining eight registered offenders are Hoopa tribal members."

Under Title 5 of the tribe's tribal code, the council can exclude anyone from the reservation for a number of offenses, ranging from "repeated commission of a crime or breach of peace as defined by Tribal, State or Federal laws" to "unauthorized entry into Tribal or individual land for any purpose," to name a couple.

Masten, who was voted in as chairman in 2009, had promised in his campaign that he'd crack down on the unsavory elements in the Hoopa Valley. Now he seems to be ramping up that effort in the last days of his rule -- later this month, in their general election, tribal members will vote for their new chairman, either Danielle Vigil-Masten or Ryan Jackson.

"After the general election," said Pole, "I think [the banishments] will just get dropped." Enforcement would be difficult, she said. And where would the banishments stop? She speculated that, since her dad was voted off the reservation, there've been dozens of others busted for drugs and other crimes.

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