Wednesday, September 25, 2013

UPDATE: Canceled! Eureka Looks to Ban Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Posted By on Wed, Sep 25, 2013 at 4:57 PM

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 UPDATE: Scratch all that. Eureka City Councilmember Linda Atkins just called to let us know that the meeting is indeed canceled, as had been rumored and (we were told) debunked earlier today.

What the heck is going on? "Hiccups and miscommunications and things," Atkins said. Criminy. Who's running this city?

Original post:

With less than two days' notice, the City of Eureka looks poised to ban all medical marijuana operations within its borders. Yesterday afternoon, city staff sent out an agenda for a special meeting of the city council, scheduled for tomorrow at 5 p.m. The sole purpose of the meeting is to pass, without reading, an ordinance that would "disallow Medical Cannabis Cooperatives and Collectives and Mobile Medical Cannabis Dispensaries" within city limits. 

Three years ago, a city council with a decidedly different makeup adopted a medical cannabis ordinance, which was then modified in May 2011. That ordinance allowed up to four dispensaries in city limits. But the current council has been kicking the bong down the road, in part due to federal crackdowns and threatening letters from Melinda Haag, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California. Almost a year ago the council unanimously passed an "interim urgency ordinance" extending a moratorium on all dispensaries, ostensibly to study zoning issues. 

Eureka Councilmember Linda Atkins seemed a bit dumbfounded by the development. She posted the following message on her Facebook page earlier today:

We spent many months drafting and refining an ordinance that would allow people to purchase medical cannabis from legal sources in our town. Now, even after the California Supreme Court ruled that cities have the right to regulate medical cannabis and the DOJ has specifically mentioned local ordinances regulating medical cannabis as being a step in the right direction in keeping criminals from profiting from the sale of medical cannabis, the City of Eureka has a ban on a Special Meeting Agenda.

How does this happen? We had not one negative testimony from the public during our consideration of the ordinance. Please come and let your Council know how you feel about this.

The whole affair seems a bit disorganized. Less than an hour ago Atkins said via Facebook that the meeting had been cancelled. Contacted by the Journal, the city's executive assistant, Suzanne Ziemer, said she'd heard the same thing but needed to look into it. She called back later to say that the meeting is indeed still on but explained that the text of the proposed ordinance is still being hammered out. It won't be available until tomorrow morning. 

What's the rush? Atkins said that the city's moratorium is scheduled to expire in November. "But that's November," she said, clearly baffled.
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HSU President Rollin Richmond To Retire After This School Year

Posted By on Wed, Sep 25, 2013 at 9:31 AM

FILE PHOTO
  • File Photo
He sent the announcement out via email this morning.

Dear Campus Community:

I write to inform you that I have decided to retire at the end of this academic year. I have enjoyed my years serving you and believe that we have made real progress at the university over my years of leadership, despite the state's economic struggles.

Over the last eleven years, together we have made substantial improvements in our curricula, shared governance and physical facilities. All of these changes have resulted in better experiences for our students, faculty and staff. Our service to our community is widely recognized as a most important contribution.

Formal announcement of my retirement will be made at the CSU Board of Trustees later today and a public announcement will be issued shortly after. In coming weeks, the Chancellor and Board of Trustees will share information about the process for selecting a new president.

I believe this university presents a unique opportunity for individuals interested in academic administration. I am confident that our Trustees and Chancellor will be able to attract a new President who will appreciate the successful initiatives created by our students, staff and faculty and be anxious to help you mold the next century for Humboldt State University.

Sincerely,

Rollin C. Richmond
President

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Times-Standard Announces New Publisher

Posted By on Tue, Sep 24, 2013 at 5:31 PM

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Eureka's "paper of record" has a new publisher. On Oct. 1, Paula Patton will make the jump from Marysville, where she published the daily newspaper The Appeal-Democrat and three weekly newspapers serving the Central Valley north of Sacramento.

Read the full announcement here.
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Supes Rejigger Guiding Principles Again

Posted By on Tue, Sep 24, 2013 at 10:06 AM

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At last night's general plan update hearing, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors once again tinkered with the language of the update's guiding principles, largely by blending the original language with new versions drafted in June by 2nd District Supervisor Estelle Fennell. Seven more principles remain to be discussed, and those seven contain some of Fennell's more dramatic revisions. Those remaining principles are scheduled for discussion at the board's next GPU meeting on Oct. 7.

As reported by the Times-Standard, here are the new versions of the five principles discussed last night, with both the original versions and Fennell's versions for comparison:

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Monday, September 23, 2013

Another Courthouse Evacuation

Posted By on Mon, Sep 23, 2013 at 2:00 PM

A firefighter climbs onto the courthouse roof. - LINDA STANSBERRY
  • Linda Stansberry
  • A firefighter climbs onto the courthouse roof.
The Humboldt County Courthouse was evacuated this afternoon when smoke and haze filled the basement. A courthouse employee told Journal freelancer Linda Stansberry that the Sheriff's Office smelled smoke and pulled the fire alarm around 1:15 p.m. 

The courthouse was evacuated less than a month ago when an elevator shaft filled with smoke.

More photos after the jump.

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Friday, September 20, 2013

2,000 Plants Nabbed in SoHum Bust

Posted By on Fri, Sep 20, 2013 at 4:05 PM

HUMBOLDT COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
  • Humboldt County Sheriff's Office
Another week, another stream-threatening, tree-razing, trash-burning grow busted. This one, a couple miles east of South Fork High School, yielded more than 2,000 plants and no arrests.

The Sheriff's Office — joined by Cal Fire, Fish and Wildlife and the Drug Task Force — found unpermitted structures, filled in water courses, grading, illegal burn piles and unprotected diesel tanks over a stream. 
HUMBOLDT COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
  • Humboldt County Sheriff's Office

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Whopping Exotic Animal Parts Theft

Posted By on Fri, Sep 20, 2013 at 1:35 PM

GOOGLE MAPS
  • Google Maps
Was someone looking to expand their trophy room? The Sheriff's Office reports that someone broke into the Wildlife Museum in Willow Creek overnight and stole $750,000 worth of dead animal parts.

Among the stolen items: two three-foot ivory elephant tusks, a mounted elk head, a bear skin rug and a kangaroo rug. Apparently someone pried open back doors to the museum, setting off an audible alarm. Sheriff's deputies arrived at 5 a.m. There are no suspects at the moment.

The Sheriff's Office is asking for help:

Anyone with information for the Sheriff's 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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Supes to Take One Last Look at Guiding Principles

Posted By on Fri, Sep 20, 2013 at 10:45 AM

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On Monday evening, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors will revisit the highly contentious issue of guiding principles in the (on and on and) ongoing general plan update.

Back on June 6, as you may recall, the board voted 4-1 to swap out the existing list of 12 guiding principles, which had been developed through a long and robust public process, with a new set of 11 principles that had been written behind closed doors.

The new versions were put forth by 2nd District Supervisor Estelle Fennell, who worked for almost three years as executive director of the private property rights group HumCPR before being elected.

Her reworded principles featured weaker language about planned growth and environmental protections while suggesting the county should "honor landowners' right" to live where they please and "incentivize" production on resource lands.

The board majority — Fennell and 1st District Supervisor Rex Bohn in particular — argued that the original principles seemed to have been written by a staff that had an agenda, but 3rd District Supervisor Mark Lovelace urged both his fellow supervisors and the public to review the documented public input and key findings developed through a series of 27 public meetings held all over the county. ( Here's a big pdf file  of a 2004 staff report, if you'd care to do just that.)

Following public outcry over the sudden and dramatic switch, the board agreed to hold one more meeting before finalizing the principles. That meeting will happen Monday from 6 - 9 p.m. in the supervisors' chambers at the Humboldt County Courthouse. 

If you're looking for more background information or want to submit a comment, the county has a website devoted to the general plan update. And if you'd like to contact your supervisor, click here
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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Guest Opinion: NEC and Baykeeper Say 101 Plan 'Reasonably Balanced'

Posted By on Thu, Sep 19, 2013 at 3:30 PM

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Dan Ehresman of the Northcoast Environmental Center and Jessica Hall of Humboldt Baykeeper were just two of the numerous people who stood before the Coastal Commission last week and urged denial of a federal consistency determination. (The commission went the other way, with a few significant conditions applied.) This week the environmental leaders issued the following joint press release, which voices a nuanced opinion about the commission's actions and the future of the project:

On behalf of the Northcoast Environmental Center (NEC) and Humboldt Baykeeper, we are writing to reflect upon the Coastal Commission’s September 12 decision to conditionally approve Caltrans’ 101 Corridor project. First we would like to thank the many people whose efforts led to what we feel is a reasonably balanced outcome: from the many transportation and trail advocates, the various municipalities and County representatives, business owners, outspoken members of the public, and those who took a principled stance in the face of opposition.

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Update: Arkley Draws Big Crowd to Talk about Homelessness

Posted By on Wed, Sep 18, 2013 at 10:14 PM

PHOTO BY KACI POOR
  • Photo by Kaci Poor
Update: All charges against Elise Gerhart have been dismissed and her arrest record expunged based on a Nov. 4 order from Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Marilyn Miles that deemed Gerhart factually innocent in the case.

Update: Arrest records posted this morning by the Lost Coast Outpost show that the Eureka Police Department did in fact make four arrests at around 6 p.m. Wednesday night. Kimberly Lauren Starr, Stephanie Nicole Bartlett, Elise Alcyone Gerhart and Chad Alan Kemp were arrested on suspicion of crimes against the public peace. Gerhart and Kemp face the additional suspected arresting charges of assault and battery.

Previously: If Rob Arkley was looking to stir the pot when he proclaimed last week that the homeless have overrun Humboldt County and are living high on the hog thanks to all those public benefits available to them — well, mission accomplished.

Turns out a lot of people have something to say about that.

Hundreds packed into the Wharfinger Building on Wednesday evening to take part in the Eureka businessman’s community forum to address the homelessness “crisis.”

At 5:35 p.m., cars were still streaming toward the meeting site from both directions, and drivers lurched over a curb to park in a dirt lot beside the building’s jammed parking lot. On the front walkway, frustrated people jostled as police held them back, and one man briefly made a grab for the door before it closed. Several in the crowd shouted that they had RSVP’d, as requested, but the door monitors said that didn’t matter. The building was past capacity.

The Wharfinger Building holds 299 people in both the designated meeting room and on the adjoining deck, according to Alex Bippus, who said he was a Eureka city employee who helps run the site. Gradually, as people left, others were allowed in.

Arkley started off the meeting by outlining his own plans. First, he wants to form a committee — no, he said, he doesn’t have to be the chair — which will put a microscope on the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services. The committee, he said, will tear apart the department's budget, looking for the mandates, grants and obligations the county has to provide services to the homeless. And don’t worry Phillip Crandall, Arkley understands that being the department head is a big job — the committee will just be looking to help. It will do that, he said, by identifying — he didn't explain how — which programs are drawing the homeless to the area.

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