Government

Monday, January 23, 2017

Canine Cop Calls it a Career

Posted By on Mon, Jan 23, 2017 at 1:16 PM

Sgt. Ron Sligh with Zari. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • Sgt. Ron Sligh with Zari.
Zari, the Arcata Police patrol dog, has retired after eight and a half years of service.

During his career with APD, Zari, a German shepherd who joined the force in 2008, was present for more than 1,000 arrests and assisted in many high-risk situations. In 2013, he located a double murder suspect hiding in the bushes and, that same year, also helped search for homicide suspects in the Samoa Dunes and Petrolia.

The patrol dog was born in the Czech Republic and imported to the United States to train at a company called Witmer Tyson. Most of the company’s dogs are born and trained in Germany or the Czech Republic. Zari is retiring because of old age and APD said it is no longer practical for him to serve.

Matthew O’Donovan, an Arcata Police officer and handler for the retired patrol dog Baron, started a GoFund me page in order to fundraise for another canine. The fundraising goal is $15,000, which will pay for the dog and its training, as well as supplies, including a knife and bullet proof vest.

“The K-9 unit plays a vital role in the department,” the charity page states.

Ginger Campbell, nicknamed by the Arcata Police department as the “fairy dog mother,” helped raise money for Zari, who cost about $20,000 to train and get prepared. In order to fundraise for the dog, Campbell reached out to local newspapers and asked the community for help.

“When I said I would fundraise for another dog,” Campbell said, “I just figured it would be $4,000 or $5,000 but when It was about $20,000, I had to do a lot more.”

When she had close to enough money to afford the dog, APD scrounged up enough money to fill the void.

According to an APD press release, Zari took part in many canine demonstrations at schools and community groups. Campbell thinks this is important because the dog helped bridge gaps between law enforcement and local youth.

Campbell didn’t just raise money to get the dogs, she also had to raise money to pay for bullet and knife proof vests. She said these are important because the dogs will go to any means to protect their police officer.

“Their main job is to protect the police officer,” Campbell said. “They will die for their police officer.”

Zari will live out his retirement in the care of his handler, APD. Sgt. Ron Sligh, and his family.

Arcata Police Service Canine, “Zari” is retiring after eight and a half years of dedicated service to the community. Zari, the K9 partner of Sergeant Ron Sligh, is retiring due to normal age related ailments that make it no longer practical for him to serve. Zari began his service to the City of Arcata in June of 2008 and his official last day was January 13th, 2017. Zari is a sable colored German Shepherd that was born on March 23rd, 2007 in the Czech Republic. He was imported to the United States by the Witmer-Tyson Kennels of Menlo Park, California in June 2008.
Sgt Sligh and Zari attended the basic patrol handler’s course in Newark, California, which culminated in the Police Officers Standard’s in Training (POST) certification. Since attending the basic handlers course, Sgt Sligh and Zari have attended thousands of hours of maintenance training and certified annually to POST Standards.
During Zari’s career he has responded to numerous high risk incidents in the City of Arcata and all over Humboldt County. As part of mutual aid requests from almost all law enforcement agencies in the county, Zari has been a regional asset.  Some of the more notable incidents that Zari has been involved in are; in 2009 he assisted in the apprehension of a home invasion robbery suspect that attempted to flee the scene. Also in 2009, Zari came to the aid of Sgt Sligh in arresting a suspect that was violently resisting arrest and who had assaulted Sgt Sligh. Again in 2009, Sgt Sligh and Zari responded to assist the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team in searching a vehicle that had crashed during a high speed pursuit, near Willow Creek. The suspects in the vehicle had committed an armed robbery and had been shooting at pursuing officers during the pursuit.
In 2013, Zari located a double homicide suspect who was hiding in the bushes. Zari and Sgt Sligh assisted the Humboldt County Sheriff’s SWAT Team in the apprehension of two homicide suspects in the Samoa Dunes. Zari was part of the muti-agency response to search for a homicide suspect in Petrolia. Zari assisted in the apprehension of another homicide suspect. Zari was called in by Humboldt County District Attorney Investigators to search a residence where a vehicular manslaughter suspect was hiding. Zari located the suspect hiding under a bed.
Zari was present on over a thousand arrests during his career. On the vast majority of those arrests the suspects were taken into custody without resisting or attempting to flee. Within in the last month, Sgt Sligh and Zari were able to arrest a felony warrant suspect, who has a history of fleeing, without incident.
Zari and Sgt Sligh conducted many K9 demonstrations over the years for schools and community groups.  Zari has enjoyed interacting with the department’s staff and made a special friendship with Police Services Assistant Bev Bence in the department’s front office.
Zari will be able to enjoy his retirement in the care of the Sligh Family.

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Saturday, January 21, 2017

Largest March in Eureka History

Posted By on Sat, Jan 21, 2017 at 4:44 PM

Marchers turn onto Third Street. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • Marchers turn onto Third Street.

UPDATE: Organizers report that the official tally for Saturday's march was between 7,000 and 8,000 people, which is roughly six percent of Humboldt County's total population.

Previously:

Thousands of people turned out to Eureka's waterfront this afternoon in what event organizer Nancy Stephenson has said was the largest march in the city's history. The Eureka Women's March, held in solidarity with other Women's Marches around the world, began at Fisherman's Plaza at First and C. Due to start at 1 p.m., by noon the plaza had already filled, and Old Town sidewalks were packed with hundreds protesters waving signs, many wearing the signature pink "pussy ear" knit caps that have become a symbol of protest against President Donald Trump's admission to grabbing women's genitals without their consent.

The signs in the crowd reflected a diverse spectrum of concerns regarding Trump's platform. Many reiterated their solidarity with women and advocated for reproductive rights. Others expressed their support for LGBTQ, immigrant and environmental rights.

"Hey, ho, the pussy-grabber must go," chanted one contingent.

"Donald Trump eats pizza with a fork," read another sign.

Protesters found creative ways to resist the elements. - LINDA STANSBERRY
  • Linda Stansberry
  • Protesters found creative ways to resist the elements.
Peggy and Rachel Grossman, a mother and daughter, waited in a line that spilled out the door of Ramone's Cafe before the march, holding umbrellas and protest signs. Rachel, a College of the Redwoods student who voted for the first time in this election, said she came out to support other women and to be with her mother.

"We're standing in solidarity and supporting women," said Peggy Grossman. "We are standing up for other minority groups as well."

"It's important to show that there are people who have respect and kindness," added their friend Lu Hicks.

A driving rain sent some people under tents at the plaza, but it had ceased by the time the speakers began. A diverse group of men and women spoke briefly about their concerns for the administration, calling for unity and offering suggestions on how to organize under the new administration.

Cheryl Seidner of the Wiyot Tribe led the crowd in a moment of silence and prayer.

Dr. Wendy Ring encouraged people to take action and ask their local governments to become sanctuary cities and to implement strong climate action plans.

Terry Uyeki, one of the march's organizers, recalled her grandparents' experiences in Japanese internment camps and called for attendees to stand in solidarity with Muslims and immigrants.

Songs performed by Joanne Rand and the Arcata Interfaith Gospel Choir earned loud applause, as did a poem read by Sue Lee Mossman, inviting people to "come walk in the rain with me."

A large crowd at Fisherman's Plaza. - LINDA STANSBERRY
  • Linda Stansberry
  • A large crowd at Fisherman's Plaza.

The crowd was so large that, once the march began it bottlenecked as people followed a marching band along the waterfront. A large section of the crowd split off and went down First street, where they reunited and filled F Street, turning north on Third, turning around to return to the plaza. The mood was largely positive and the crowd was filled with families, couples and dogs.

An hour after the Women's March ended a separate splinter protest by a local anarchist group blocked traffic at Fourth and H Streets. Four arrests were made.

Protesters stand their ground. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • Protesters stand their ground.

Editor's Note: This post was updated to correct the names of Dr. Wendy Ring and Sue Lee Mossman, as well as to reflect an accurate number of arrests.
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Applicants Line up For Ulansey's Planning Commission Seat

Posted By on Sat, Jan 21, 2017 at 10:39 AM

Lee Ulansey addresses Humboldt County Supervisors. - HUMBOLDT COUNTY VIDEO
  • Humboldt County Video
  • Lee Ulansey addresses Humboldt County Supervisors.
So far, at least 16 candidates have turned in paperwork to be considered Tuesday for an at-large position on the Humboldt County Planning Commission after the supervisors decided to explore their options rather than simply reappoint current seat holder Lee Ulansey.

Some of the applications date back to 2010, while 11 others were turned in after the Jan. 17 meeting when First District Supervisor Rex Bohn brought forward Ulansey’s appointment.

That prompted an extended discussion about protocols the board adopted back in 2011 — which include the option of a prolonged selection process for commission and committee members with a public discussion on how an empty seat would be filled and candidate interviews.


Continue reading »

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Friday, January 20, 2017

Silent People in Black Protest on Arcata Plaza

Posted By and on Fri, Jan 20, 2017 at 2:32 PM

MARK LARSON
  • Mark Larson
Several dozen protesters joined the People in Black Inaugural Day Vigil on the Arcata Plaza this morning. They held signs or simply expressed their First Amendment rights with their silent presence as they gathered at the same time as the inauguration. Their goal was to share their concerns about and objections to the incoming administration.

Another, noisier, protest was held in front of the Humboldt County Courthouse in Eureka, with protesters making speeches and knocking down a symbolic wall.

Slideshow
People in Black Vigil on Arcata Plaza
New Slideshow New Slideshow New Slideshow New Slideshow New Slideshow New Slideshow New Slideshow New Slideshow

People in Black Vigil on Arcata Plaza

Mark Larson attended a silent Inauguration Day vigil on the Arcata Plaza.



By Mark Larson

Click to View 12 slides


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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

UPDATE: Eureka Council Passes Human Rights Resolution

Posted By on Wed, Jan 18, 2017 at 2:32 PM

Kim Bergel - CITY OF EUREKA
  • City of Eureka
  • Kim Bergel
UPDATED:

The Eureka City Council passed a broadly worded resolution last night that delineated the city’s goals and attitudes towards minority groups, women, immigrants and the environment. The Human Rights, Inclusiveness, Environmental Sustainability, Affordable Health Care, and Religious Freedom Resolution, which was brought to the council by City Councilmember Kim Bergel on Dec. 13, only generated a single public comment, in which a member of the public asked that its language be changed to be more inclusive.

Debate between the councilmembers was also brief, with Bergel saying that the resolution “sets an intention for how we will move forward.”

The language in the resolution was augmented at the suggestion of Councilmembers Heidi Messner and Natalie Arroyo, with the words “men and women” changed to “people,” “man” changed to “human” and “girls” changed to “youth.” The phrase LGBTQ was amended to LGBTQIA to include the intersex and asexual population. Bergel acknowledged that the resolution, seen by some as a referendum on the Trump platform, was not strictly enforceable but “a goal, not a plan.”

Messner raised the initial concerns about the language of the resolution, calling it “outdated,” and Arroyo added she thought it important to make the resolution as inclusive as possible.

“I wasn’t sure it was necessary,” she said, referring to the resolution. “But today I saw a Nazi flag flying in a nearby community … and I came to the meeting believing it was very necessary.”

Marian Brady, the lone dissenting vote after Austin Allison seconded the motion, said she felt the resolution used “fluffy language” to obscure its point and that future generations wouldn’t understand the intent.

“The problem I find with this whole resolution it that it’s full of innuendo,” said Brady. “It’s talking about all the ugliness but none of the positive stuff. It’s full of innuendo. We know who we’re talking about. Just say Trump. What’s the point of this?”

Bergel replied that she and Brady would have to “agree to disagree” and the point of the resolution was about treating people with respect.

“I think if you read history you’ll be able to figure it out,” said Bergel, responding to Brady’s suggestion that its importance and meaning wouldn’t be clear in the future.

The council did vote unanimously to extend the city’s parklet program, following a presentation by community development director Rob Holmlund on its parking impacts and community response.

“It’s a great way to make our city more appealing,” said Allison.


Previously:


Tuesday the Eureka City Council will consider adopting a strongly worded resolution that delineates city attitudes toward the rights of immigrants, women, the LGBTQ community, people of color, people of all faiths and the environment.

While never mentioning President-elect Donald Trump by name, the resolution, as proposed by Councilmember Kim Bergel on Dec. 13, seems a clear referendum on his campaign and agenda. Other cities, including San Francisco and Arcata, have passed resolutions or made proclamations since Trump's election declaring implicit opposition to his policies, but this would be a historically unprecedented decision for the city of Eureka.

The resolution, titled the "Human Rights, Inclusiveness, Environmental Sustainability, Affordable Health Care, and Religious Freedom Resolution," was moved to the agenda in December by council consensus.

The resolution, copied in its entirety below, says the city will support women "on women’s rights, whether in healthcare, the workplace, or any other area threatened by a man who treats women as obstacles to be demeaned or objects to be assaulted." It declares opposition to conversion therapy. It says "climate change is real." It says "affordable, universal healthcare should be a continuing priority."

The Journal could not reach Bergel for comment, but we did reach out to the city for clarification on another item, which she also brought up on Dec. 13.

"One and a half years ago we had talked about giving the island back to the tribe, and I was hoping we could have an update on that," she said, referencing the proposed return of 60 acres of Indian Island to the Wiyot Tribe, which tribal chairs requested in 2015. The city resolved last April to return the land, but no apparent further action has been taken. City Clerk Pam Powell said the matter will be discussed in a future meeting, but not next week.

Among other items to be discussed on Jan. 17 are an extension of the city parklets program, rezoning of a parcel near the Eureka Mall, and a presentation by the Parks and Recreation Department on the opening of the Waterfront Trail.

The proposed resolution:


RESOLUTION NO. 2017 - RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL IN SUPPORT OF HUMAN RIGHTS, INCLUSIVENESS, ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY, AFFORDABLE HEALTHCARE, AND RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

WHEREAS, in light of the current climate in our country and the negativity and hate that is being fostered;

and WHEREAS, Eureka will not turn our back on the men and women from other countries who bring such richness to our city. We will continue to build bridges, not walls;

and WHEREAS, we will never back down on women’s rights, whether in healthcare, the workplace, or any other area threatened by a man who treats women as obstacles to be demeaned or objects to be assaulted. And just as important, we will ensure our young girls grow up with role models who show them they can be or do anything;

and WHEREAS, that there will be no conversion therapy, no withdrawal of rights in Eureka. And to all the LGBTQ people in our city and all over the country who feel scared, bullied, or alone: You matter. You are seen; you are loved,

WHEREAS, that we still believe in this nation’s founding principle of religious freedom. We do not ban people for their faith. And the only lists we keep are on invitations to come pray together;

and WHEREAS, the Eureka Police Department is committed to building trust between police and communities of color so all citizens feel safe in their neighborhoods;

and WHEREAS, our residents are committed to environmental sustainability, and that climate change is real, and that clean power, zero waste, and other measures to protect future generations are a priority;

and WHEREAS, affordable, universal healthcare should be a continuing priority for the State of California and the United States.

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the City Council of the City of Eureka, condemns all hate crimes and hate speech we will fight discrimination and recklessness in all its forms. We place the highest value on human rights. Further Resolved, that this resolution be forwarded to Senators Feinstein, Harris, and Representative Huffman to demonstrate our City’s commitment to fairness and inclusion.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Homeless Count Postponed

Posted By on Tue, Jan 10, 2017 at 3:47 PM

A camp in one of Humboldt County's greenbelts. - FILE
  • File
  • A camp in one of Humboldt County's greenbelts.
This year’s biennial Point-in-Time count will be postponed one month in order to recruit more volunteers to assist the homeless count.

The count, scheduled to take place at the end of January, will be pushed back to the early morning hours of Feb. 28.

Every year the Department of Housing and Urban Development requires communities to take count of people living in emergency shelter or transitional housing. The last count, conducted in 2015, found 1,319 people to be homeless in Humboldt County, up 265 from two years prior.

This year, volunteers will receive required training from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development in order to assist in the count. Volunteers will be asked to go to areas throughout the local communities where homeless people are known to be and take a headcount.

Sally Hewitt, senior program manager and co-chair of the Humboldt and Homeless Coalition, said pushing the date back will give organizers time to recruit more volunteers, including Humboldt State University and College of the Redwoods students.

“Participating in the count is also a great opportunity for students looking to volunteer and get some experience doing outreach to the homeless community,” Hewitt said in a press release.

The information gathered during the count will go to local planners and nonprofit agencies in order to receive grant funding. At the end of the year, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will award agencies a total of $822,933 in homeless assist funds for 2017.

The Arcata House Partnership will act as a volunteer hub in assisting this years Point-in-Count. Darlene Spoor, Executive Director of Arcata House Partnership, said the date was pushed back in order to create a better survey and help volunteers become better prepared.

For more information about the Point-in-Time homeless count, or if you are interesting in volunteering, contact Wendy Choate, secretary at the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services, at 441-5520.


See the full DHHS press release copied below:

Volunteers still needed for Point-in-Time count


This year’s Point-in-Time (PIT) homeless count has been postponed by one month as recruitment for volunteers continues. Originally scheduled for the end of January, the PIT count will now take place in the early-morning hours of Feb. 28.

“Pushing the date back gives us time to recruit more volunteers, including students from Humboldt State University and College of the Redwoods who have been very helpful with the counts in years past,” said Sally Hewitt, DHHS senior program manager and co-chair of the Humboldt Housing and Homeless Coalition (HHHC). “Participating in the count is also a great opportunity for students looking to volunteer and get some experience doing outreach to the homeless community.”

Volunteers attend training so they’re ready to assist in the biennial count, which is required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Information gathered during the count is used by local planners and nonprofit agencies in applications for grant funding.

At the end of the year, HUD awarded participating HHHC agencies a total of $822,933 in homeless assistance funds for use in 2017.
For more information about the PIT or to volunteer, contact DHHS Secretary Wendy Choate at 707-441-5520. Information is also available at the HHHC’s website humboldthousing.org.






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Saturday, January 7, 2017

Huffman to Skip Trump's Inauguration

Posted By on Sat, Jan 7, 2017 at 3:34 PM

Huffman
  • Huffman
The Huff has decided to sit this one out.

North Coast Congressman Jared Huffman announced on his Facebook page this afternoon that after much consideration, he’s going to break with precedent and spend inauguration day in his district volunteering.

“Ordinarily, on Inauguration Day, I would take my place above the west steps of the Capitol and join colleagues and dignitaries in honoring a great and solemn American tradition: the peaceful transfer of power which must always transcend partisan differences,” Huffman wrote. “However, there is nothing ordinary about this inauguration or the man that will be sworn-in as our next president. I do accept the election results and support the peaceful transfer of power, but it is abundantly clear to me that with Donald Trump as our president, the United States is entering a dark and very dangerous political chapter. … I will not sit passively and politely applaud as it begins."

Instead, Huffman has decided to spend Jan. 20 in his Second Congressional District doing yet-to-be specified “positive things,” including some volunteer efforts that constituents can join him in.

Huffman's decision has thus far proved popular with his constituents. Within a couple of hours, the post had garnered more than 160 comments, almost all of which were positive and supportive. Stay tuned to Huffman’s Facebook page to get more details as they’re announced and check out his full post copied below.

The full post from Huffman’s Facebook page:

I have struggled with the issue of whether to attend the Presidential Inauguration on January 20th and here is my decision.
Ordinarily, on Inauguration Day I would take my place above the west steps of the Capitol and join colleagues and dignitaries in honoring a great and solemn American tradition: the peaceful transfer of power which must always transcend partisan differences.
Ordinarily, I would do that without hesitation for any President, regardless of their politics or personality, as a show of respect for the institution and the will of the voters — and as a gesture of goodwill to foster reconciliation and collaboration as we put the election behind us and prepare to work with the new administration.
However, there is nothing ordinary about this inauguration or the man that will be sworn-in as our next President. I do accept the election results and support the peaceful transfer of power, but it is abundantly clear to me that with Donald Trump as our President, the United States is entering a dark and very dangerous political chapter. I will do everything I can to limit the damage and the duration of this chapter, and I believe we can get through it. But I will not sit passively and politely applaud as it begins.
As much as we all hope for the best, we should be clear-eyed about the warning signs of exactly who Donald Trump is and what he will attempt to do as our President. We know, or at least should know, what is coming. The question is, what to do about it?
I believe the antidote to Donald Trump is kindness, thoughtfulness, tolerance and inclusion — and the way to defeat his dark political agenda is not to sit around complaining and criticizing; it is through active citizenship, principled resistance and positive counteraction.
Toward that end, I'll be spending Inauguration Day here in my district doing positive things. I invite you to join me. I will announce my specific plans and agenda in a few days, including some volunteer activities that you can participate in if you wish. Stay tuned for the details, and thanks for reading all the way to the end of this long Facebook post!


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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Huffman Urges Obama to Ban New West Coast Drilling

Posted By on Wed, Jan 4, 2017 at 3:22 PM

Huffman
  • Huffman
North Coast Congressman Jared Huffman today brought back legislation that would ban new gas or  oil drilling leases off the West Coast in a move his office said would help permanently protect the environment, jobs and coastal economies.

Huffman was joined by 14 other lawmakers in reintroducing the West Coast Ocean Protection Act on the first day of the 115th Congress while Sen. Dianne Feinstein was joined by her colleagues from California, Oregon and Washington in doing the same in the Senate.

According to a release from Huffman's office, the legislation would "amend the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to prohibit new oil or natural gas leases in federal waters off the coast of the continental U.S., from Mexico to Canada."

"A true ‘America first’ energy policy keeps oil off our beaches and invests in home-grown renewable sources of power," Huffman states in the release. "I urge President Obama to take action now, while he still has the authority to do so, to permanently protect our oceans from oil and gas drilling.”

Read the full release from Huffman's office below:

Washington, D.C.- On the first day of the 115th Congress, Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) led 14 coastal lawmakers in reintroducing the West Coast Ocean Protection Act, a bill to permanently protect the California, Oregon, and Washington coasts from the dangers of offshore drilling, safeguarding the $44 billion coastal economies of the region that support nearly 650,000 jobs. The bill was introduced today in the United States Senate by Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), along with all six California, Oregon, and Washington Senators.

While President Obama recently used his authority under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to protect areas in the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans from oil and gas drilling, he has yet to protect key areas of the Pacific Ocean. The new legislation, H.R. 169, would amend the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to prohibit new oil or natural gas leases in federal waters off the coast of the continental U.S., from Mexico to Canada.

“On the West Coast, our coastal communities, local economies, and fragile ocean ecosystems cannot afford another disastrous oil spill,” said Rep. Huffman. “Californians witnessed years of environmental and economic damage caused by the horrific 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill and we cannot allow Big Oil to perpetuate their negligent drilling spree in our precious and spectacular waters. The West Coast Ocean Protection Act would permanently protect our pristine coastlines for future generations and ensure their interests are put above the short-term profits of Big Oil. With his pick of the Exxon C.E.O as Secretary of State, as well as his personal financial stakes in the oil and gas industry, President-elect Trump proved his true priorities will lie with further lining the pockets of industry executives and not with the people who would be affected by an oil spill. A true ‘America first’ energy policy keeps oil off our beaches and invests in home-grown renewable sources of power. I urge President Obama to take action now, while he still has the authority to do so, to permanently protect our oceans from oil and gas drilling.”

Congressman Huffman has long been a leader in the fight against offshore drilling and to expand renewable energy and create clean energy jobs.

Huffman authored the Stop Arctic Ocean Drilling Act to prohibit new or renewed oil and gas leasing in the Arctic Ocean Planning Areas. That legislation would stop new leasing for the exploration, development, or production of oil, natural gas or any other minerals in the Arctic Ocean and not allow for any renewal of existing leases.

He is also the lead House sponsor of the Keep It In The Ground Act, which would reduce carbon emissions and our nation’s addiction to fossil fuels by permanently barring new fossil fuel leases on all federal public lands and in federal waters.

The West Coast Ocean Protection Act is cosponsored by Representatives Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Doris Matsui (D-CA), Derek Kilmer (D-CA), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Mike Thompson (D-CA), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Scott Peters (D-CA), John Garamendi (D-CA) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR).


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Friday, December 30, 2016

County Public Works Hoping for a Hail Mary with Gas Tax, Emergency Funding

Posted By on Fri, Dec 30, 2016 at 10:47 AM

A slip on Wilder Ridge, where the road has been reduced to one lane. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • A slip on Wilder Ridge, where the road has been reduced to one lane.

Still around $200 million in the hole for deferred maintenance on county roads and other infrastructure projects, the Humboldt County Department of Public Works is looking for alternate measures to fund road repair in 2017. Those measures include emergency funding from the state and the possible passage of a state transportation bill that could raise prices at the pump anywhere from 17 cents per gallon for gasoline and 30 cents per gallon for diesel.

"It's hard to convince people to pay any more for anything," acknowledged Tom Mattson, director of public works. "But that same bill will give Humboldt an additional $10 million. That would more than double my gas tax money."

The transportation reform and funding proposal, which was introduced by Sen. Jim Beall and Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D-Oakley) in August, is slated for discussion in Sacramento for early 2017. Along with the hefty hike in gas tax, consumers could see a $38 per year increase to their vehicle registration fees, according to information on the League of Cities' website.

In April, the California Board of Equalization voted to lower the state’s excise tax on gas purchases, which cut deep into the state's transportation fund and set back planned repairs. In November, Humboldt County taxpayers voted down local Measure U, a proposed 20-year, half-cent special sales tax that would have brought in an estimated $10 million per year to repair roads. Without that money, Mattson says a reform of the current gas tax is one of the only tools in the county's financial toolbox to fix those potholes and slip-outs. But consumers and local businesses are already dreading the potential pinch.

"It's going to be tough," says Ed Lewis of Lewis Logging, who said he dreaded trying to bid for jobs to local sawmills with the additional transportation costs. "The timber industry has been in a terrible way since '08; this is just another nail in our coffin. We have very few sawmills to sell our wood to. I’m in a bad spot."

The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors proclaimed a state of emergency in a special meeting on Dec. 21 after storms caused an estimated $2.89 million in damage to local roads. The proclamation might mean some additional funding from the state. Mattson said state representatives were in the field on Wednesday, examining a slip-out close to Honeydew and Shelter Cove.

The section of Wilder Ridge that might be fixed thanks to disaster funding has been sliding out for several years.

The next step, says Mattson, is to "meet and argue about what the proper repairs are going to be, then take it to the governor."

Public Works will also reapply for Measure Z funding. The department received $1.66 million from the special sales tax for the 2015-2016 fiscal year, an amount that is fully 16.6 percent of total deferred maintenance the county accrues each year, and a tiny portion of the total deferred maintenance on county roads. The county currently does have several bridge projects fully funded, including one in Honeydew and another near Holmes.


The same section of road a year prior, before it slid out. - PHOTO BY KATE TROWER
  • Photo by Kate Trower
  • The same section of road a year prior, before it slid out.

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Monday, December 19, 2016

McGuire Looks to Make 'Transparency Great Again'

Posted By on Mon, Dec 19, 2016 at 10:40 AM

Mike McGuire
  • Mike McGuire
As members of the Electoral College set about casting their votes today, two state senators — including the North Coast’s Mike McGuire — announced they would introduce legislation requiring presidential candidates to release their tax returns to appear on the California ballot.

The legislation, slated to be introduced in January, is the second to be proposed by a local representative in response to a Donald Trump presidency. While Trump was not mentioned by name, Congress Jared Huffman introduced the “One President at a Time Act” on Dec. 13 to “ensure that U.S. foreign policy is conducted only by the sitting president," according to a release from his office.

Saying transparency is a non-partisan issue and voters deserve full disclosure, McGuire said the tax return legislation is necessary to reveal a presidential candidate’s potential conflicts, noting “the world is a dangerous place.”

“This legislation will help make transparency great again,” McGuire said in a release.

Read the full release from senators Mike McGuire and Scott Wiener below:

Today California State Senators Scott Wiener and Mike McGuire announced that they will be co-authoring legislation to require that any future presidential or vice-presidential candidate must make their tax returns public to appear on the California ballot. The two Senators are offering the legislation in response to President-Elect Donald Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns to the American public, despite the fact that presidential candidates have been doing so voluntarily for decades. The bill will be modeled on similar legislation that has been proposed in New York by State Senator Brad Hoylman.
“Transparency is a non-partisan issue. Voters not only deserve full disclosure of their future leader’s tax returns, they should be entitled to them,” Senator McGuire said. “The world is a dangerous place and all potential conflicts of interest a future president may have, let alone dangerous ties a candidate may have with a foreign government, must be disclosed. This legislation will help make transparency great again.”

“The American people deserve honesty and transparency from their President. Unfortunately, we are getting lies and obfuscation from President-Elect Trump, especially in regards to how his business interests may impact his administration,” said Senator Wiener. “While the impetus for this legislation is the refusal of Donald Trump to partake in what has become standard practice among presidential candidates, this is also a larger, non-partisan issue. The American public deserves to know that the individual they are selecting to be president will have their best interests at the heart of every decision, not the best interests of any business venture or investment fund. Requiring that this basic financial information be made available to voters will help build critical public trust.”

Prior to Donald Trump’s refusal to release any tax returns, every president since Jimmy Carter has released at least one year of tax returns. During the 2016 Presidential election, Hillary Clinton (Democratic) and Jill Stein (Green) both released their tax returns. McGuire and Wiener plan to require that presidential and vice-presidential candidates release five years of tax returns in order to appear on the California ballot for future elections.

In New York, State Senator Brad Hoylman has introduced Senate Bill S8217, which has called the TRUMP Act – the Tax Returns Uniformly Made Public Act. New York’s S8217 requires that any presidential candidate must file five years of tax income returns no less than 50 days prior the general election in which they wish to run. If they do not file, they will not appear on the ballot.

American voters also agree that Presidential candidates should release their tax returns. In an August Quinnipiac University poll, 74% of all likely American voters responded and said they wanted then Candidate-Trump to release his tax returns. In that same poll, 62% of Republicans said they wanted Mr. Trump to release his tax returns.

Senators Wiener and McGuir
e will formally introduce the legislation in January.

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