Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Publisher: Court docs unsealed

Posted By on Wed, Apr 9, 2014 at 2:00 PM

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Curiosity. It's a critical trait for a reporter.

In January Gary Lee Bullock was sitting in jail charged with the horrific crime of breaking into the rectory of St. Bernard's Parish on New Year's Day and murdering Father Eric Freed. Digging through court records, News Editor Thadeus Greenson learned that Bullock had been deemed "ineligible" by the court back in 2012 for a plea bargain agreement that was the result of a previous brush with the law. Why was he ineligible?

"There was reference to a probation report (under seal by the court)," Greenson said. "I read the law. ... I'm no lawyer, but it seemed to me it should be a public document."

Three months later, Bullock's old probation report — along with similar reports for Bodhi Tree and Vincent Earnest Sanchez, two more men awaiting trial for unrelated high-profile crimes — have been unsealed.

Why are these reports important? As Humboldt County Chief Probation Officer Bill Damiano says, crimes don't happen in a vacuum. The reports add layers of context to the current charges facing each of the defendants, offer insight into their lives and raise critical questions about their paths through the criminal justice system.

Greenson's story is on the cover of this week's North Coast Journal, on newsstands now, and available digitally. Meanwhile, the Humboldt County Superior Court is reviewing its policies governing the probation documents and is expected to announce some changes this week. Check back to see how this story develops.
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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

And one more

Posted By on Tue, Apr 1, 2014 at 10:46 AM

We’ve learned that Ryan Burns is up for a prestigious Mirror Award — and a $5,000 prize if he wins — for a story he wrote while still with the Journal, “Ferndale Gothic.”

The Mirror Awards are presented by Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and recognize the best reporting by media on the media. Burns’ piece, which examined the relationship between the small town of Ferndale and its newspaper editor and her husband, the mayor, is one of three finalists in the in-depth/enterprise category.

Burns says he feels honored to be nominated, but notes that his story is up against “the most talked-about story of 2013 — Deadspin's piece about Manti Te'o's fake dead girlfriend.”

Te'o schmeo. We’re banking on Burns to win!

The winners will be announced June 4 at the 2014 Mirror Awards ceremony in New York City.
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Monday, March 31, 2014

Update: Journal Snags TEN Awards

Posted By on Mon, Mar 31, 2014 at 12:17 PM

Second Update, final results: Make that FIVE FIRSTS, one second (in the photo essay contest), plus the four blue ribbon honorable mentions.
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Update: The CNPA folks just shipped along four more awards announcements for the Journal. These ones are our Blue Ribbon Finalists, which means they were among the top four finalists in their categories. And the BRFs are ...

BEST GRAPHIC ILLUSTRATION: "Trinity River: Flow v. Water Rights Claims," by Miles Eggleston and Holly Harvey, which places the Trinity River in the context of the larger California water picture, for the story "Water's for Fighting."

BEST ENTERPRISE REPORTING: "Water's for Fighting," an epic dissection by Grant Scott-Goforth of California's use and over-allocation of its water resources, and how the Trinity River fits in.

BEST COVERAGE OF BUSINESS NEWS: "Ferndale Gothic," the rollicking tale by Ryan Burns about Ferndale's power couple Caroline Titus, editor of the Ferndale Enterprise, and her husband, Stuart Titus, the town's mayor and ousted fair manager.

BEST COVERAGE OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT: "HumCPR Rising," by Ryan Burns, about the secrecy-bound advocacy group's rise to power in county government.

click to enlarge NORTH COAST JOURNAL GRAPHIC - Map of the federal Central Valley Project; Trinity River flow v. water rights claims - BY HOLLY HARVEY AND MILES EGGLESTON
  • By Holly Harvey and Miles Eggleston
  • NORTH COAST JOURNAL GRAPHIC - Map of the federal Central Valley Project; Trinity River flow v. water rights claims


Journal staff writers and photographers won a total of six awards from the California Newspaper Publishers Association’s 2013 Better Newspapers Contest. Notice came via email Thursday. Each award is either a first of second place finish, to be announced at the BNC awards show May 2 in San Jose.

And the winners are …

BEST WRITING: “Dead and Disconnected” by Heidi Walters, the troubling tale of the coroner’s search to identify a man found dead in a homeless camp.

AGRICULTURAL REPORTING: “Subdividing Humboldt” by Grant Scott-Goforth, an examination of embattled landowner Bob McKee’s influence on southern Humboldt. 

BEST FEATURE STORY: “Main and Loleta” by Heidi Walters, a profile of the tiny town embroiled in a dispute between the meat market owners and the folks who own significant Main Street real estate. 

BEST SPORTS STORY: “Fish On” by Heidi Walters, about the fishing frenzy down at the mouth of Klamath last fall during a record salmon run.

PHOTO ESSAY: “Ruins” by Grant Scott Goforth, a gleaming capture of the beauty inhabiting Humboldt’s forgotten, falling-down, derelict structures.

PHOTO ESSAY: “Making Wood Sing” photos and story by Bob Doran, a look at Humboldt’s many luthiers turning out banjos and mandolins, electric and acoustic guitars for all the world to pluck. 
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Monday, March 3, 2014

#Communityengagement #entrapment?

Posted By on Mon, Mar 3, 2014 at 2:12 PM

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Two government agencies dove into the Twitterverse this past week, one looking to gather public input 140 characters at a time and the other seeking to increase traffic safety by doling out messages commonly read on handheld portable devices.

First, the county of Humboldt, with a community meeting planned for Thursday to identify priorities as the Board of Supervisors preps for a round of potential cuts heading into next year, rolled out @HCBudget. The new Twitter handle is aimed at gathering addition input, as tweets @HCBudget received during the first 90 minutes of Thursday’s meeting will be recognized and entered into the record. The county is encouraging folks who can’t physically make it to the meeting to tweet in their comments and questions. Questions not answered during the meeting will garner a response afterward, and will be posted on the county website, a press release assured. Just don’t expect too much depth, as its difficult to break down the nexus of recurring expenditures versus ongoing revenue in 140 characters or less.

Not to be outdone by its county counterparts, the Eureka Police Department launched @Eureka_Police and “Operation Safe Tweets.” Recognizing that “driver education is an important part” of preventing avoidable collisions, the department announced this morning that it will begin tweeting the locations where it will be conducting radar and speed enforcement in the city. “Motorists should take great care in these areas to avoid committing traffic offenses,” the press release warns. “When the officers change enforcement spots, they will Tweet out their updated locations to give motorists the opportunity to voluntarily slow down, hang up their cell phones, buckle up and drive safely.”

The press release, however, does not warn motorists against checking their twitter feeds while driving, which we’re pretty sure is against the law. Entrapment, anyone?

Check out the full press releases from the county and EPD below.

The following is a press release from the county of Humboldt:

County to Take Budget Questions and Comments via Twitter

Get out your smartphone, tablet or computer, Humboldt. Submitting a comment or question about the County’s budget just became a lot easier.

For the first time ever, citizens will be able interact live, via Twitter, with County officials during the annual Community Budget Meeting. At this year’s meeting, which will be held Thursday, March 6, staff will present the County’s $300 million-plus budget, and tweets submitted to @HCBudget during the presentation will be read and answered on air, as time permits.

The Community Budget Meeting will be held at five locations around the county, broadcast live on Access Humboldt (Channel 10) and streamed through the County’s web site at The meeting is scheduled to run from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Citizens must send their tweets during the first 90 minutes of the meeting in order to have their comment recognized. Any questions not answered during the meeting will be answered afterwards and posted on the County’s web site.

“A goal of the Community Budget Meetings is to learn more about what Humboldt County citizens want from their local government, and what they want to know,” said County Administrative Officer Phillip Smith-Hanes. “We realize people have to work, watch children, or otherwise cannot attend the meetings in person. By opening up this meeting to Twitter, the public has another way to comment on the budget.”

As detailed in the mid-year budget report (video here), the County needs to reduce $2 million out of ongoing General Fund discretionary expenditures in the FY 2014-15 budget. Citizens are invited to share their ideas on how the County could accomplish that goal.

Prior to the Community Meeting, you can join our conversation on the budget via Twitter by using #AskHumCo. Meetings will be held at the following locations:

Scotia Elementary School Conference Room
South Fork High School Library
Pacific Union School Computer Lab
Humboldt County Office of Education Annex
Hoopa High School Cafeteria

The following is a press release from the Eureka Police Department:

EPD Launches Operation Safe Tweets

The goal of traffic enforcement is to correct the unsafe behavior of motorists that result in avoidable collisions. The Eureka Police Department recognizes that driver education is an important part of that correction process. Therefore, to educate the motoring public EPD’s Traffic Division announces a new program, “Operation Safe Tweets.” Starting this week, EPD Traffic officers will begin posting on Twitter and Facebook locations where they will be conducting radar/speed enforcement. Motorists should take great care in these areas to avoid committing traffic offenses. Errant motorists will be issued citations for violations that take place in the presence of Traffic officers. The aim is to educate motorists and change the behavior of those who choose to speed or commit other hazardous traffic-related offenses.

When the officers change enforcement spots, they will Tweet out their updated locations to give motorists the opportunity to voluntarily slow down, hang up their cell phones, buckle up, and drive safely. This does not, however, preclude other officers from conducting unannounced enforcement throughout the city.

Follow the Eureka Police Department on Twitter and Facebook for breaking news & information from (and about) EPD. Check out our Operation Safe Tweets alerts (#safetweets) for real-time updates about where our Traffic Unit is currently conducting enforcement.


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Monday, February 3, 2014

Humboldt's 'Swingin' Senior' Mecca

Posted By on Mon, Feb 3, 2014 at 10:45 PM

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Single Eureka elders rejoice, your city has been named one of the nation’s 13 best for swingin’ seniors!

Estately, an online real estate search site, released its list Monday, including Eureka as one of its prime destinations for retirees for whom “school districts no longer matter,” and who want somewhere to live that’s “fun and exciting, while also remaining clean, safe and relatively affordable.”

And just what, you might ask, warranted Eureka’s inclusion among the likes of Portland, San Francisco, Yuma, Ariz. and Cape Coral, Fla.? We’ll let the fine folks at Estately fill you in:

“Move to the largest West Coast city between San Francisco and Portland and you’ll be in good company; nearly half of the population is over the age of 55, with ladies outnumbering gents by several thousand. Hit up Eureka’s Bayshore Mall for all of your retail needs, and do your shopping at the region’s only Costco.”

Apparently, weather, crime rates, services and public transportation no longer sway the senior crowd. Check out Estately’s full list here.
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Friday, November 1, 2013

The Nation Examines Pot's Enviro Impacts via Humboldt County

Posted By on Fri, Nov 1, 2013 at 10:51 AM

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In the special marijuana-themed Nov. 18 issue of The Nation magazine, reporter Seth Zuckerman chronicles the environmental impacts of indoor and outdoor grow operations here in Humboldt County. Quoting locals such as Friends of The Eel River Executive Director Scott Graecen, HSU lecturer Tony Silvaggio and Arcata City Councilman Michael Winkler, Zuckerman describes the scope of damage being done here — from grading, erosion, poisons and fertilizers in outdoor grows to combustible houses and massive carbon footprints of indoor operations.

Zuckerman lays the blame not only on profit-hungry growers but also on the federal government, saying, "prohibition sabotages efforts to reduce the industry’s environmental damage."

Continue reading »

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Monday, October 7, 2013

Feeling OK

Posted By on Mon, Oct 7, 2013 at 1:51 PM

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Pop quiz: Sarah Palin, in a speech during the 2008 presidential campaign, famously accused candidate Barack Obama of "palling around with terrorists." Who were these terrorists she was referring to?

Bonus question: How did at least one of these said terrorists handle all of the attention, much of it threatening, that blossomed during the campaign?

Answer: Bill Ayers is one of them, of course, who has spent many a summer hiding in broad sunshine in our North Coast mountains, eating good food with family and friends, and writing.

Bonus answer: If you read Ayers' new book, Public Enemy: Confessions of an American Dissident, you'll get a thorough account of his feelings and thoughts on that whole affair and other moments in his life post-fugitive. Public Enemy is the sequel to Ayers' Fugitive Days: Memoirs of an Anti-War Activist, a chronicle of his and his wife, Bernardine Dohrn's, 10 years on the run following their involvement in the radical-left Weather Underground in the late 1960s and the 1970s.

Here's an inkling of the answer, however, which seems pretty reflective of Ayers' seemingly ever-upbeat personality. It's taken from an excerpt of his new book, published Sunday, Oct. 6, in Salon:

"These were different times with new responsibilities and unique demands, to be sure. But I had a good job and work to do that I thought was important, and I was deeply connected with a sturdy network of brilliant students and a huge community of agitators, activists, dissidents, and outcasts — lepers in a metaphorical sense, or at least folks who’d been forced out of the camp for 'having issues' — as well as organizers and engaged colleagues. I had a cast of heroes, sheroes, weirdoes, and queeroes in my life, I knew who my friends were, and I knew I wasn’t alone. So under the bus or tied to the railroad tracks, I was feeling OK — pretty great in fact. The best in the world, as my dad would have said."

Public Enemy goes on sale starting tomorrow, Oct. 8. Northtown Books in Arcata says it  will have copies. A news release from Ayers says, "Several Tea Party brothers have written to tell Bill they will take the book to the Annual Rush Limbaugh Book Burning Party — so extra copies are in order!" Ahem.

The North Coast Journal interviewed Ayers and Dohrn in Arcata in 2009. You can read that here.
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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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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Sympathy for the Leakers

Posted By on Thu, Sep 12, 2013 at 1:47 PM

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Hey, look! Greg King, longtime environmental activist and current executive director of the Siskiyou Land Conservancy, has a letter in the Mailbox section of this week's New Yorker magazine.

Continue reading »

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Arcata Eye, McKinleyville Press Forge New Media Empire

Posted By on Tue, Aug 20, 2013 at 7:32 PM

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A Mad River media mega-monopoly has formed. Via Facebook, the Arcata Eye announced it will join forces with Northern Humboldt's other hyper-local weekly newspaper the McKinleyville Press starting Oct. 2.

And the Mad River Union was born.

Arcata Eye publisher/editor/reporter Kevin Hoover announced in 2011 that the paper would cease publication in February, 2014, leading to a couple of years of rumors about who, if anyone, would fill the void.

Well, it seems Hoover and Jack Durham, who publishes the McKinleyville Press, struck an accord. The veteran newsmen worked together on the Arcata Union, the Eye's predecessor. (Journal Publisher Judy Hodgson and many other current and former Journalistas worked and wrote for the Union, as well.)

Read the full announcement of the Mad River Union here.
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