Saturday, February 25, 2017

That Dam Breitbart Story

Posted By on Sat, Feb 25, 2017 at 11:39 AM

Irongate Dam on the upper Klamath River. - FILE
  • File
  • Irongate Dam on the upper Klamath River.
If you read a Breitbart News story earlier this month about the Klamath River, you’d be excused for thinking those of us who live along the river are doomed to die in watery graves as soon as the largest dam removal project in U.S. history is complete.

You’d also be very wrong, both for taking a Breitbart story at face value and for thinking dam removal will have any substantial impact on flooding along the Klamath River.

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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Humboldt County Fair Board Responds to Enterprise Settlement

Posted By on Thu, Feb 23, 2017 at 3:32 PM

Humboldt County Fair Association General Manager Richard Conway issued a statement today in response to questions about a legal settlement the association paid to the Ferndale Enterprise, covered in this week's Journal.

In his statement, Conway blames the HCFA's failure last April to provide Titus with a document requested under the California Public Records Act on an "oversight" made because the association had already sent a "multitude" of other documents. Conway says once the error was realized, the association immediately provided Titus with the documents. He accuses Titus of intending to "inflict hardship upon the fair" by suing the HCFA despite having received the documents in question.

Titus and her lawyer, Paul Nicholas Boylan, dispute this interpretation of events. Titus says she asked for the fair's 2015 Statement of Operations twice before stating that she would "seek judicial remedy."

"The moment they were served with the suit they turned over the documents," says Titus.

Conway also says multiple good faith offers were made by the fair before settling the dispute, which ended with the association paying out $68,000 from its own general fund this month to Boylan and the association's own lawyers.

"Each time the Enterprise’s attorney raised the settlement amount," reads Conway's statement.

Boylan says this statement is "completely untrue."

"If HCFA provided prompt access to public records — which the law requires them to do — then they would have paid nothing to me or their defense attorney," he wrote in an email to the Journal. "The reason my fees went up is because they refused to settle on the terms Ms. Titus demanded — the exact same terms they eventually accepted."

The terms he's referring to is the agreement on behalf of the fair to comply with CPRA guidelines, which mandate public entities turn over public documents within a certain time period. The fair association's status as a public entity has been a matter of courtroom debate. Because it manages public property and uses public funds, Titus argues, it should be subject to public disclosure laws. The Tituses reached a $150,000 settlement with the association in a First Amendment and wrongful termination suit in January of 2016 after alleging the board had fired Titus's husband Stuart because he refused to suppress his wife's coverage of the fair board.

Conway alleges that Titus is incapable of covering the HCFA objectively.

"There is a huge conflict of interest by Mrs. Titus (as a publisher of a community paper) during her four year campaign to destabilize the fair as retribution [for] her husband’s non-renewal as general manager," he says in his statement.

Titus calls the accusation "laughable."

"Reporting on the finances of the fair, especially when they decide to go underground is more important than ever," she says, referring to the HCFA's decision to restructure as a nonprofit in 2015, a move that shielded it from allowing the media into its board meetings.

Titus has expressed concern about the fair's future revenues, especially in light of its recent decision to move the fair to Labor Day weekend, when school will be in session.

But in his press release, Conway says the fair's revenue is robust and will not be impacted by the settlement.

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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Journal News Editor Wins Freedom of Information Award

Posted By on Sat, Feb 11, 2017 at 10:51 AM

  • Thadeus Greenson

The Society of Professional Journalists Northern California officially announced yesterday that Thadeus Greenson, the Journal's news editor, won a James Madison Freedom of Information Award. It's an award Caroline Titus of the Ferndale Enterprise took home in 2016, and the Journal's then staff writer and editor Hank Sims and Emily Gurnon won in 2005.

Greenson is being recognized for his "years long battle with the city of Eureka over the release of police camera footage of an arrest." (That arrest by then Eureka Police Sgt. Adam Laird and the departmental drama that followed it are, coincidentally, the subject of next week's cover story on stands Wednesday.) The end result of Greenson and the Journal's pursuit of the video, in Humboldt County Superior Court and then in the California First District Court of Appeals, was a state precedent-setting opinion that kept the city — and any others in California — from treating police camera footage as confidential officer personnel records.

Particularly in our current climate, with heightened awareness of police misconduct and the potential abuses of power, that ruling in favor of transparency is a win for journalists throughout the state, the public and those police departments working toward trust in the communities they protect. We could not be more proud of Greenson's work on this story and in every issue of the Journal.

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Monday, January 23, 2017

The Eureka Women's March through an Indigenous Lens

Posted By on Mon, Jan 23, 2017 at 4:16 PM

A still from WIlbur's film. - MATIKA WILBUR
  • Matika Wilbur
  • A still from WIlbur's film.

Videographer and photographer Matika Wilbur created a short film documenting this Saturday's march. Wilbur, who is Tulalip and Swinomish, is visiting the Karuk and Hupa Nations as part of her year-long project in which she visits all 105 tribes of California. More information is available at

Wilbur sent the Journal this statement:

"I've had the opportunity to stand in solidarity all over the county with indigenous women from Standing Rock to Chicago to D.C. to the desert warmth of Phoenix and I'm proud to be an era that rejects hatred and instead seeks justice - to be in Eureka among strong indigenous communities who are willing to stand up for the Earth, for equality and who came out on January 21st to show this new administration that our indigenous people will not go quietly into the wind - that treaty rights need to be upheld, sovereignty respected, and justice restored. At the end of the march the indigenous women gathered on the lawn, held hands in a circle and prayed for our communities to come together in a good way. We are seeing a new generation of Peace Makers."

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Thursday, December 22, 2016

Is This Criminal Assault?

Posted By on Thu, Dec 22, 2016 at 4:40 PM

It’s been almost four years since the Eureka Police Department and the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office held a rare joint press conference on April 17, 2013 to announce they’d arrest an EPD sergeant on suspicion of assaulting a 14-year-old during an arrest.

Four months earlier, shortly before midnight on Dec. 6, 2012, EPD received a report of a gang fight near Twenty-Thirty Park on Summer Street. The first officer on scene reported no fight but saw a male and a female walking, and noted the male — later identified as a 5-foot-6-inch, 130-pound 14-year-old — was carrying a golf club.

The boy — who later told police he had been drunk at the time, having drank two Four Lokos (a caffeinated malt liquor beverage) — fled when he saw the officer and a foot pursuit ensued. At some point, former EPD Sgt. Adam Laird joined the fray as backup as the kid fled through a backyard and ultimately wound up on California Street. There, the juvenile abruptly stopped running — later telling investigators he didn’t want police to shoot him — and gave up. He was then pushed to the ground by officers.

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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Caroline Titus Wins Free Speech Award

Posted By on Thu, Dec 1, 2016 at 12:24 PM

Enterprise Publisher and Editor Caroline Titus. - RYAN BURNS/JOURNAL FILE PHOTO
  • Ryan Burns/Journal file photo
  • Enterprise Publisher and Editor Caroline Titus.
Caroline Titus is one of two reporters being honored by the First Amendment Coalition this evening during the California Press Foundation's annual meeting in San Francisco.

Titus will receive the Coalition's Free Speech and Open Government Award as an acknowledgement of her 18-month battle with the Humboldt County Fair Association over disclosure of its financial records. The long court battle, which began not long after her husband, Stuart Titus, was let go from the fair board in 2012, was covered by Titus in The Ferndale Enterprise. The Tituses filed a successful First Amendment and wrongful termination suit, alleging that the Fair Board had fired Stuart Titus because he refused to suppress his wife's coverage of the fair board.The Tituses settled their suit for $150,000 in January of 2016, after an intense back-and-forth that included an attempt by the fair association to subpoena her gynecological records.

Reached yesterday by phone, Titus said she was "extremely proud" to be receiving the award, but in the meantime, "the beat goes on." She was putting the latest issue of the Enterprise to bed even as she prepared her acceptance speech.

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Friday, November 25, 2016

Three Years On, The Edge Tries to Stay Sharp

Posted By on Fri, Nov 25, 2016 at 9:00 AM

Volunteers retain their anonymity while reading copy for the Edge in 2013. - LINDA STANSBERRY
  • Linda Stansberry
  • Volunteers retain their anonymity while reading copy for the Edge in 2013.
Humboldt County's only newspaper exclusively focused on coverage from and about the region's homeless is still plugging along, three years after its debut in October 2013. Some things have changed ― such as the original staff and funding sources. Some big plans have not come to pass, like the street vendor program originally scheduled to begin in 2016. But The Humboldt Edge continues to print stories from people whose voices otherwise might not be heard – people on “the edge” of poverty and homelessness.

In the Edge’s September/October issue, a volunteer interviewed Stacy Cobine, who was part of the lawsuit against the city after the eviction of the Palco Marsh. Cobine, a dollmaker, spoke candidly about addiction, health problems and her attempts to stabilize as she bounced from the marsh to the Multiple Assistance Center to a rented room. An Edge volunteer who goes only by “Blu,” a disabled woman who regularly visits the camps to talk to people and encourages them to share their stories, conducted the interview.

“We are so grateful for her going out there and getting stories,” says Katrina Martin, the Edge’s editor. “She’s the first volunteer we’ve had that actually goes out and interviews people.”

The Edge’s all-volunteer team also regularly tries to recruit contributors by handing out papers and pens.
“We encourage people to write,” says Dave Rosso, who regularly contributes to the paper although he is himself housed. “We tell them we will transcribe for them.”

But despite their best efforts and consistently offering places to meet and drop off submissions in three different Northern Humboldt cities, the paper has lately run thin on content written by homeless people. Instead it features interviews transcribed by volunteers and articles written by homeless advocates. The November/December issue features two articles by members of Affordable Homeless Housing Alternatives, Rosso’s memories of being a homeless 20-year-old in Munich, Germany and a thorough list of resources. It also has several poems written by people struggling with housing insecurity, and original art.

“It saddens my heart to see my fellow human beings treated like nothing,” reads one poem, by Megan Bauer. “They don’t know that not two months ago I was the one flying that sign for food and shelter.”

Many contributors participate in a writing group at the Multiple Assistance Center. But the challenge for Edge volunteers is, well, finding more volunteers.

“It’s hard to find one of us to recruit volunteers,” says Martin, gesturing to the five-person team that gathered for their most recent advisory board meeting at the Arcata House, adding that they had discussed bringing in social work students from Humboldt State University. Lack of volunteers has reduced the distribution of the paper and stalled efforts to create a vendor program.

“We even received a grant for a vendor program but we had a vendor coordinator who didn’t realize the time commitment and had to bow out,” says Martin. “We still have some funds from the grant to pay a small stipend to the vendor coordinator. We would like to move forward.”

The advisory board says its goals include getting the paper into the hands of policy makers and local officials, to educate the “haves” about the “have nots.”

The Edge originally had a small grant to jumpstart its efforts but it now scrapes by with donations and advertisements from local businesses. Although resources are tight, somehow it still manages to scrape together enough money to print 5,000 copies every two months.

“I am the one who does the bookkeeping and I am always amazed that we have donations,” says Martin. “You have a little faith in the universe, and things happen.”

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Arrest Video Can't be Kept Confidential, Appellate Court Rules

Posted By on Thu, Jul 21, 2016 at 2:58 PM

The dash camera in a Eureka Police Department patrol car. - THADEUS GREENSON
  • Thadeus Greenson
  • The dash camera in a Eureka Police Department patrol car.

A Eureka police video depicting the arrest of a 14-year-old suspect can’t be considered a confidential personnel record and must be released to the public, an appellate court has ruled.

The court’s unanimous decision upholds a May 21, 2015 ruling by Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Christopher Wilson, who granted a Journal petition seeking release of the video, finding the public’s interest in seeing the video outweighed any privacy concerns.

The city of Eureka, which objected to the video’s release, along with Humboldt County counsel, appealed Wilson’s ruling, arguing that he erred by not affording the video the protections granted to police officer personnel records. Because the Dec. 6, 2012 arrest led to a citizen complaint and was used as a part of an internal affairs investigation into one of the arresting officer’s conduct, the city argued the video was a part of the officer’s personnel file and should consequently be barred from release.

But in its 12-page ruling authored by Presiding Justice Barbara Jones, the court dismissed that argument, finding the video was not generated as a part of an internal affairs investigation or a record relating specifically to an officer’s advancement, appraisal or discipline.

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Friday, June 24, 2016

#Eureka24HR: A Day in the Life

Posted By on Fri, Jun 24, 2016 at 8:04 PM

Remember #Arcata24HR? It was the project undertaken by local photographer León Villagómez and brought to you in the pages of the Journal last year in which he spent 24 straight hours traversing Arcata and photographing its sights.

Well, Villagómez is at it again, this time wanting to capture all Eureka has to offer. He’ll begin his journey at midnight tonight, and continue snapping away throughout town until midnight tomorrow. You can follow along with Villagómez in real time on Instagram using the hashtag #Eureka24HR. We’ll also be curating his posts on this page (, where readers will be able to see #Eureka24HR as it unfolds. Just be sure to check back often, as Villagómez is planning on posting a handful of pictures an hour, that is until his likely collapse from exhaustion at 11:59 p.m. tomorrow.

Check out #Arcata24HR here, and you can find the write up we did on it here. And click here to follow along with #Eureka24HR.
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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Buzzkill: That's Not the World's Tallest Tree

Posted By on Thu, May 26, 2016 at 11:38 AM

  • Facebook
If you’ve logged on to Facebook in the last couple days, you’ve probably seen that photo to the right. It’s real, it’s beautiful and it’s in Humboldt County. It’s not, however, the tallest tree in the world.

For whatever reason, the picture has been circulating like crazy lately, and it seems to always be accompanied by a misleading or flat-out wrong caption. There could be a whole study of the virality of images and misinformation conducted about it, but, being stuffy, old truth-seekers, we just wanted to set the record straight.

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