Friday, December 9, 2016

EPD Chief: Officers Fired More Than 40 Shots in Tuesday's Pursuit

Posted By on Fri, Dec 9, 2016 at 5:16 PM

Officers secured the scene before clearing medical personnel to respond to help Clayton Lee Lasinski, who was shot by police after allegedly brandishing a firearm at officers. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • Officers secured the scene before clearing medical personnel to respond to help Clayton Lee Lasinski, who was shot by police after allegedly brandishing a firearm at officers.
Amid the chaotic foot pursuit in downtown Eureka Tuesday evening that ended with 26-year-old Clayton Lee Lasinski shot once in the chest, officers fired more than 40 shots, Eureka Police Chief Andrew Mills confirmed to the Journal.

Lasinski remains hospitalized, but is expected to survive. No officers were injured in the incident, and Mills also confirmed this afternoon that he doesn’t believe Lasinski ever fired his .45 caliber pistol during the incident that took place shortly before 5 p.m.

“I do not believe he fired any rounds — I believe he didn’t know how to manipulate the gun,” Mills said, explaining that the gun taken from Lasinski at the end of the incident had a full clip, an empty chamber and its hammer cocked back, which Mills believes indicates Lasinski didn’t realize he had to pull a round into the gun’s chamber in order to fire and was “dry firing” the weapon at officers.

The incident began after a California Highway Patrol officer attempted to pull Lasinski’s Dodge pickup truck over after he allegedly rolled through a stop sign when turning westbound on Fourth Street in Eureka. Lasinski then allegedly pulled the truck into the parking lot of the Best Western, where he bailed on foot — leaving two female passengers in the car — and fled the scene.

The CHP officer asked EPD to assist in canvassing the area for Lasinski, saying he was possibly armed with an unknown weapon. A few moments later, the officer called dispatch to report that Lasinski was in possession of a handgun, according to a Best Western employee who said the suspect had pointed the gun at him while fleeing the property.

The red Mazda allegedly stolen from Sole Savers and abandoned about a block away. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • The red Mazda allegedly stolen from Sole Savers and abandoned about a block away.
An EPD officer finally spotted Lasinski near Seventh Street and pursued the suspect on foot. Lasinski allegedly ran into the parking lot of Sole Savers auto dealership, where he found a red Mazda 3 idling in a loading bay with its passenger door open. Lasinski got into the Mazda as the officer approached, according to a witness interviewed by the Journal, and the officer opened fire into the driver's side door area of the vehicle. A moment later, the witness said, the Mazda peeled out and fled the scene. On Wednesday, numerous bullet holes were visible in a white equipment shed in the loading bay behind where the Mazda had been idling the night before.

Additional shots were fired as the Mazda left the Sole Savers parking lot, according to the witness. The vehicle came to a stop a block away, in the intersection of Sixth and B streets, where additional shots were fired. Lasinski then fled down B Street toward Fifth Street, stopping at one point, according to a witness, to turn and point his pistol at pursuing officers, and drew more police fire. Ultimately, officers pursued Lasinski onto Fifth Street, where he stopped about halfway down the block between B and C streets, leaning against a black Volkswagen Jetta. Officers staged nearby with weapons drawn, but waited as Lasinski appeared to bleed out and collapse to the ground. At that point, they moved in, pulled a firearm from Lasinski’s hand and called for medical to come and assist him. According to witness accounts and video of the incident, officers did not attempt to provide first aid as they waited for paramedics staged nearby to move in and care for Lasinski.

Several sources not authorized to speak publicly about the multi-agency investigation into the officer involved shooting told the Journal that the preliminary investigation indicates officers fired a total of 44 rounds during the pursuit. Mills said he couldn’t confirm that number, but said he could confirm that “more than 40” shots were fired during the incident.

Meanwhile, the investigation is ongoing. Mills said the four officers who fired their weapons were scheduled to be interviewed this afternoon and will remain on administrative duty until cleared to return to the field. Their names have not yet been released to the public.

At a press conference Wednesday, Mills said he understands "that each officer is personally accountable for every round that they discharge and where that round ends up. And I will report back to the community once we've completed that investigation as to our actions last night."

Mills said today that investigators have been working hard to figure out where every round discharged by EPD officers was fired, as well as where they ended up. The investigation remains ongoing.

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Thursday, December 8, 2016

Wake-up Call: 6.5 Quake a Reminder to Prepare

Posted By on Thu, Dec 8, 2016 at 3:42 PM

This morning's earthquake recorded at HSU. - FACEBOOK
  • Facebook
  • This morning's earthquake recorded at HSU.
Today’s magnitude-6.5 quake centered 100 miles off the coast of Ferndale has already produced a trio of aftershocks and more are likely to follow in the weeks to come, earthquake experts note.

The 6:50 a.m. quake was caused by an east-west strike slip on the Mendocino fault, which runs along the boundary of the Pacific and Gorda plates, according to Humboldt State University geology professor Lori Dengler.

It’s the North Coast’s hotbed of seismic activity, she said in an email to the Journal, and produced a magnitude-7 earthquake in September of 1994 that was located about 26 miles east of today’s epicenter.

Because this fault is moving in a horizontal direction, these quakes don’t pose a tsunami threat and are unlikely to trigger submarine landslides, which can also cause tsunamis.

Originally listed as a magnitude-6.8 by the USGS, today’s quake was later revised to a 6.5. The aftershocks have so far included a magnitude-2.4 at 8:24 a.m. on shore near Petrolia, a 5.2 at 8:32 a.m. located 107 miles west of Cape Mendocino and a 4.7 situated 36 miles west of Petrolia at 8:33 a.m.

“There is always a small chance that today’s quake could trigger activity on the Mendocino fault closer to the coast,” Dengler said, adding that that segment ruptured in 1994 so most of the accumulated strain may have been released. “There is also a small chance it could trigger fault slip in adjacent areas of the Gorda plate producing a quake similar to the February 1995 magnitude 6.6.”

Dengler notes that Gorda quakes located far offshore will be felt but are unlikely to cause damage.
Hundreds of people from Oregon, Humboldt, Del Norte and Mendocino reported feeling the quake, with most describing weak to light shaking.

This morning’s quake is yet another reminder that the North Coast is an earthquake prone area (recent activity includes a 4.6 on Tuesday near Crescent City and a 4.3 on Monday near Rio Dell) and the best defense is preparation. For more information, visit the Living on Shaky Ground website.

Free copies of the earthquake preparedness magazine “Living on Shaky Ground: How to Prepare for Earthquakes and Tsunamis in Northern California” can also be requested by leaving a message at 826-6019.

For up-to-date tsunami information, Dengler said to forget apps and sign up for text messages from the most direct source: the National Tsunami Warning Centers. In the U.S., send a text message to 40404 with 'follow NWS_NTWC' for NTWC messages, and 'follow NWS_PTWC' for PTWC messages. To stop receiving NTWC text messages, you can text 'stop NWS_NTWC' to 40404.

Dengler also notes that the Cascadia subduction zone “poses our largest magnitude earthquake threat.”

“Today’s quake is not likely to have made a significant difference to the long-term strain accumulation that will eventually be released by an earthquake in the magnitude 8 to 9 range,” she said. “That being said, that earthquake will come – maybe this afternoon and maybe 200 years from now. The only thing that is certain is that we are one day closer today than we were yesterday.”

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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Man Shot by EPD Expected to Survive

Posted By on Wed, Dec 7, 2016 at 5:22 PM

EPD Captain Steve Watson, right, and Sgt. Gary Whitmer talk during the investigation of an officer involved shooting that took place near EPD headquarters around 5 p.m. Tuesday. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • EPD Captain Steve Watson, right, and Sgt. Gary Whitmer talk during the investigation of an officer involved shooting that took place near EPD headquarters around 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Clayton Lee Lasinski, the 26-year-old suspect shot by Eureka police officers Tuesday evening, remains hospitalized but is expected to survive, Eureka Police Chief Andrew Mills said at a press conference this afternoon.

Lasinski was shot once through the chest, Mills said. And Mills said that while it's clear Lasinski brandished a handgun at officers at multiple points during the pursuit yesterday,he's not sure if the suspect ever fired the weapon.

Mills said the officer involved shooting incident that gripped Eureka yesterday began with a simple traffic stop by a California Highway Patrol officer who saw Lasinski roll through a stop sign when turning onto Fourth Street. When the officer attempted to pull Lasinksi over, he allegedly turned into the Best Western at Fourth and Commercial streets, ditched his car and two female passengers in the parking lot and fled on foot.

Lasinski apparently believed he had an out-of-state warrant out for his arrest, which proved not to be the case, though Mills said it was “certainly the reason he was fleeing.”

Mills said a couple of Best Western employees attempted to detain Lasinski, but he told them he was “strapped,” pulled a handgun and ran off, jumping a fence en route toward Fourth Street. Mills said the CHP officer then put out an emergency call for assistance, reporting that an armed suspect had just fled the scene and offering Lasinski’s description. Calls came in to police dispatch reporting sightings of Lasinksi near Roy’s Auto Center on Fifth Street. An EPD officer then spotted him travelling easot on Seventh Street and pursued him on foot.

The red Mazda allegedly stolen from Sole Savers and abandoned about a block away. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • The red Mazda allegedly stolen from Sole Savers and abandoned about a block away.
Lasinksi then turned into the Sole Savers car lot at Seventh and A streets, where he jumped in a red Mazda that was left running on the lot, according to Mills. Here, shots were fired for the first time during the incident, the chief said. Lasinkski then allegedly fled in the Mazda, turning onto Sixth Street, where he drove against one-way traffic for less than a block before abandoning the car at the intersection of Sixth and B streets. Mills said it’s unclear whether the car died at that location or Lasinski simply decided his chances were better on foot.

A number of EPD officers then picked up a foot pursuit of Lasinski, Mills said, chasing him northbound on B Street until he turned west on Fifth Street. Shots were fired at several locations along this route, the chief said, though he didn't specify by whom.

Lasinski ultimately stopped his attempt to flee on Fifth street about halfway between A and B streets, where he leaned against a black Volkswagen. He stood there until he collapsed and was handcuffed by EPD officers after they pulled what Mills identified as a .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol from his hand. He was then loaded onto an ambulance and transported to a hospital where he underwent emergency surgery.

Officers secured the scene before clearing medical personnel to respond to help Clayton Lee Lasinski, who was shot by police after allegedly brandishing a firearm at officers. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • Officers secured the scene before clearing medical personnel to respond to help Clayton Lee Lasinski, who was shot by police after allegedly brandishing a firearm at officers.

No officers were injured during the incident.

Mills said it remains unclear if Lasinski fired his handgun during the exchange — which stretched through multiple crime scenes spread across more than four city blocks — though he brandished the gun at officers numerous times. When officers pulled the gun from Lasinski’s hand, Mills said it had a full clip with the hammer cocked back in firing position, which he took to mean he’d either fired his clip empty and reloaded, or the gun had malfunctioned and not fired at all.

A total of four EPD officers fired shots during the incident, Mills said, declining to identify the number of shots fired this early in the investigation. Witnesses interviewed by the Journal reported hearing anywhere from six shots to more than 20 during the incident, which lasted a little more than 10 minutes.

“I understand that each officer is personally accountable for every round that they discharge and where that round ends up,” Mills said. “And I will report back to the community once we’ve completed that investigation as to our actions last night.”

Mills said the four officers will remain on administrative duty until he clears them to return to the field.

Stressing at multiple points throughout the press conference that this investigation is in its infancy — with the officers yet to be interviewed, camera footage yet to be reviewed and witnesses yet to be contacted — Mills said it will be thorough and objective. It is being conducted under the county’s Critical Incident Response Team protocol, which assigned EPD senior detective John Gordon and District Attorney investigator Marvin Kirkpatrick to lead the effort.

During the press conference, Mills was asked about what seems to be an escalating trend of crime and violence locally. “There seems to be a trend right now where people are willing to take on police, and that’s not acceptable in a civil society,” Mills said. "In order for Humboldt to become the city we want to be, there needs to be a culture of lawfulness.”

Mills asked anyone in the community who witnessed part of yesterday’s incident to contact the Eureka Police Department to report what they saw and aid the investigation.
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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

UPDATE: Officer Involved Shooting in Eureka

Posted By on Tue, Dec 6, 2016 at 5:48 PM

Officers have the street blocked off surrounding the shooting scene. - LINDA STANSBERRY
  • Linda Stansberry
  • Officers have the street blocked off surrounding the shooting scene.


EPD Chief Andrew Mills gave a statement to the press at around 7:40 p.m., saying that the incident originated with a call from the California Highway Patrol at around 4:43 p.m. asking EPD to assist with a suspect with a gun having “footbailed” from a car. EPD officers were in the middle of a shift change, ensuring that many were on hand to pursue the suspect, who was described by witnessess as a young male with dark hair, wearing camouflage pants.

Witnesses also called into dispatchers reporting an armed suspect. Mills said the suspect went over fences with officers in pursuit and there were shots fired. The pursuit went toward EPD headquarters, then to Fifth Street. At 4:52 p.m. the suspect apparently attempted to steal a vehicle and, when approached by officers, he again fled on foot, at which point he was shot. A firearm was recovered and held for evidence, Mills said.

Mills said the suspect is in surgery and his condition is unknown. Four officers were involved in the shooting.

“This was a hairy situation,” added Mills. “We are very thankful none of our officers or civilians were hurt.”

Mills did not take questions, saying there was not enough information at this time.


The officer-involved shooting currently under investigation by multiple agencies began with a foot pursuit near Roy’s Auto Center.

According to scanner traffic captured and posted by the Lost Coast Outpost, officers reported a suspect fleeing on foot near Roy’s and a pursuit ensued, which took the suspect and officers to the rear parking lot of the Eureka Police Department, where shots were fired, though it’s unclear by whom. The pursuit then continued toward Fifth Street, where more shots were fired, though it’s again unclear by whom.

Officers then reported the suspect was hiding behind a black vehicle on Fifth Street between A and B streets, and requested that an ambulance stage nearby. Another officer can be heard on the scanner then warning that civilians and a California Highway Patrol officer near Fifth and A streets were potentially standing in the “cross fire,” and asked that they be moved.

About a minute later, an officers tell dispatch they’re preparing to bring in the canine before another officer tells him to hold off, saying officers had the suspect “covered.” “Just hold the dog,” the officer said. “They have him covered. We will go up and detain him.”

A moment later, an officer responds that police “have a shield en route, if you can stand by just a minute.” The other officer responds, “He’s covered. I’m comfortable with this. Just hold the dog. Lower your weapons.”

About 40 seconds later, an officer asks dispatch to send the ambulance, staged at Sixth and B streets, to the scene, saying officers have “one detained.” The officer gives the “Code 4” call, indicating the situation is under control.

An officer then asks dispatch to conduct a roll call officer check to make sure all involved officers are accounted for.

An officer-involved shooting in Eureka late this afternoon sent an unidentified man to the hospital. His condition is unknown.

Details are scant at this point but EPD Capt. Steve Watson said no officers were physically injured in shooting, which occurred near the intersection of Fifth and B streets at around 5 p.m. EPD currently has the street closed to traffic and is calling in officers from allied agencies to assist with the investigation.

We’ll update this post with additional information as we can get it.

This is the third officer involved shooting within Eureka city limits in the last 13 months, though it's the first involving an EPD officer since police shot and killed 22-year-old Thomas McClain on Sept. 17, 2014.
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Taxpayer Advocate Leo Sears Dies

Posted By on Tue, Dec 6, 2016 at 1:36 PM

Longtime taxpayer advocate Leo Sears, far right, pictured at a Coffee with a Captain event, has died. - FACEBOOK
  • Facebook
  • Longtime taxpayer advocate Leo Sears, far right, pictured at a Coffee with a Captain event, has died.
Longtime taxpayer advocate Leo Sears, known for his outspoken opinions, sometimes controversial criticisms of local government and a pair of high-profile lawsuits he helped file, has died.

Eureka Mayor Frank Jager described Sears as a person who “put himself out there for what he believed” and had the facts to back up his argument.

“Sometimes going over to his house or having lunch with him was like being taken to the woodshed,” Jager said of Sears’ propensity for taking elected officials to task if he disagreed with their decisions. “He really knew his stuff.”

Sears, whose Facebook pages states he was born in 1934, died sometime between Sunday night and Monday morning.

A Korean War veteran actively involved in an annual wreath laying ceremony on Humboldt Bay to honor the fallen, Sears was at the helm of the Humboldt Taxpayer’s League in 2005 when the group filed a lawsuit against two Eureka waterfront developers, alleging a conflict of interest because they served on a city advisory board.

While the case was eventually taken over by another city resident before ultimately being thrown out, the league’s decision and its aftermath marked one of the more contentious chapters in the city’s recent history.

More recently, in 2015, Sears filed an ongoing conflict of interest lawsuit alleging the Humboldt County Harbor, Conservation and Recreation District board’s decision to accept a loan from Coast Seafoods and then provide the company with a lease extension was a violation of state law because one of the board's member, Greg Dale, is employed by the company.

“In the form of an understatement, he spoke his mind,” said attorney Bill Bertain, who’s known Sears since 1979 and represented him in the harbor district lawsuit. “You didn’t always agree with Leo, but you listened to him.”

“He always believed in good and transparent government,” Bertain added.

A graduate of Eureka High School and Humboldt State University, Sears retired from his career as a senior auditor-appraiser with the county of Humboldt in 1996.

A frequent contributor to the Times-Standard opinion page, Sears served as a longtime member of Eureka’s Finance Advisory Committee and was well-known for voicing his views on how the city allocated its budget, especially when he disagreed. Over the years, he also volunteered with the Eureka Police Department.

“Leo voraciously fought to use taxpayer money for public safety and was willing to lay his skin on the line to do so,” Eureka Police Chief Andrew Mills said in an email to the Journal on Tuesday. “He will be missed.”

Jager said Sears, whom the mayor had appointed to several city commissions, was “heavily involved in the pulse of politics” and kept a file on just about every issue facing the city and county.

“I lost a friend. I lost someone who kept me on my toes,” Jager said. “He was a great person for this community. I wish we had more of them.”

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Monday, December 5, 2016

Huffman on DAPL: 'Justice and Environmental Protection Have Won'

Posted By on Mon, Dec 5, 2016 at 4:25 PM

  • Huffman
North Coast Congressman Jared Huffman issued a statement last night applauding the Obama Administration’s announcement that it will deny an easement needed for the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross Lake Oahe, forcing the project to abandon its controversial route and undergo an environmental review.

“Since July, tensions have escalated to a boiling point at the Dakota Access Pipeline, and I thank the Obama administration for this bold announcement today, to diffuse what may have otherwise been a tragic conflict,” Huffman said in the statement. “By denying the easement at Lake Oahe and by completing a full environmental review, the federal government is taking a necessary step to ensure our nation is not complicit in yet another grave injustice to Native Americans.”

A host of locals have been at the scene of massive demonstrations in North Dakota, where protesters seeking to occupy the pipeline’s path have been forcefully removed by police wielding tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons in subfreezing temperatures. Read more about the protests, and local involvement in them, in our Nov. 10 cover story “We Travel in a Spiritual Way.”

Huffman has repeatedly joined other members of Congress in urging the Army Corps of Engineers and the Obama administration to intercede in the escalating conflict, and last week penned a letter to “demand accountability for (the) alarming treatment” of protesters.

Huffman dubbed this weekend’s news of the denied easement as a victory.

“Today, justice and environmental protection have won out over arrogance, greed and pollution,” he said in the statement. “We can all be proud that our government has listened, weighed the equities and the implications of this consequential decision, and has bravely done the right thing."

See the the full release from Huffman’s office copied below.

Rep. Huffman Applauds the Obama Administration’s Move to Deny Easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline

Washington, D.C.- Congressman Jared Huffman (D-CA) today applauded the Army Corps of Engineers’ announcement that they will deny the easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross Lake Oahe and will issue a full environmental impact statement on the effects of the pipeline. This announcement came at the urging of Congressman Huffman, who led a letter with Congressman Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) just weeks ago, asking the federal government to take this very step.

“Since July, tensions have escalated to a boiling point at the Dakota Access Pipeline, and I thank the Obama administration for this bold announcement today, to diffuse what may have otherwise been a tragic conflict,” said Rep. Huffman. “By denying the easement at Lake Oahe and by completing a full environmental review, the federal government is taking a necessary step to ensure our nation is not complicit in yet another grave injustice to Native Americans. Today, justice and environmental protection have won out over arrogance, greed and pollution. We can all be proud that our government has listened, weighed the equities and the implications of this consequential decision, and has bravely done the right thing."
Rep. Huffman has helped lead the effort in Congress in pushing for accountability and justice at the Dakota Access Pipeline site.
In his November 15th letter, on which he was joined by 22 lawmakers, Congressman Huffman called on President Obama to deny the easement for the pipeline to cross Lake Oahe. That letter also called for the Department of Justice to send observers to ensure water protectors and journalists' safety.
On November 28, he led another congressional letter with Rep. Grijalva, requesting an immediate meeting with White House and Department of Justice officials to demand accountability for alarming treatment of Water Protectors and peaceful demonstrators at the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota, and to denounce the closure of the Oceti Sakowin camp.

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Sunday, December 4, 2016

Yurok Tribe Blames Feds for Salmon Die-Off

Posted By on Sun, Dec 4, 2016 at 9:11 AM

Favorable ocean conditions and heavy rains have brought the Chinook Salmon back, but to a river choking of toxic algae. - FILE
  • FILE
  • Favorable ocean conditions and heavy rains have brought the Chinook Salmon back, but to a river choking of toxic algae.
SAN FRANCISCO — The federal government was hit with a second lawsuit this week claiming its bungled management of waterways allowed a deadly parasite to infect 91 percent of endangered juvenile coho salmon on the California-Oregon border.

The lawsuit from the 5,000-member Yurok Tribe comes four months after the 2,700-member Hoopa Valley Tribe in Humboldt County blamed the feds for causing lethal infections in threatened Chinook salmon.

“Defendants’ illegal operations of the Klamath Project threaten the health and viability of these species and, in turn, threaten the continued ability of the Yurok Tribe and its members to harvest fish for subsistence and commercial purposes, and conduct ceremonies for the fish and well-being of the Yurok people, and threaten the very identity of the Yurok Tribe and its people,” the Yurok say in their 45-page complaint.

The infections are blamed on low-flow conditions in the Klamath River and its streams. The water levels are controlled by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which oversees the Klamath Irrigation Project in Southern Oregon and Northern California.

The deadly parasite Ceratanova shasta, or C. shasta, flourishes in low-flow conditions that produce warm, slack water where host worms thrive and juvenile salmon tend to congregate. Signs of infected salmon include cell decay in intestinal tissue, severe inflammation and death.

After reviewing Klamath Project plans, the defendant National Marine Fisheries Service issued a biological opinion in 2013 estimating that infection rates would not exceed 49 percent. But surveys found infection rates climbed to 81 percent in 2014 and 91 percent in 2015.

The tribe says those high infection rates should have triggered the requirement for the Bureau to review the project’s impact on an endangered species, but the government has refused to take that step.

After the Yurok, Karuk and Hoopa Valley Tribes, along with a coalition of fishermen and conservation groups, threatened to sue, the co-defendant Bureau of Reclamation formed a technical advisory team in July to recommend steps for reducing C. shasta infection rates.

On Nov. 9, the team created a guidance document urging the Bureau to provide regular flush flows at certain times of the year to flush out worms that host the parasites. The document also recommends reserving 50,000 acre-feet of water for emergency spring dilution and disruption flows each spring when certain conditions, such as high water temperatures and disease rates, require urgent action.

On Nov. 28, the technical staff and federal agencies commented on the guidance document, “largely agreeing with the need for additional flows to flush out polychaetes [host worms] and an emergency dilution flow regime,” according to the complaint.

But the Bureau did not commit to any mitigation measures, the tribe says, which violates the Endangered Species Act. They say failure to reinitiate formal consultation on the project’s impact on coho salmon also violates the Administrative Procedure Act and Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation Act.

Finally, they say, the National Marine Fisheries Service 2013 biological opinion that authorized the project was arbitrary and capricious in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act.

Klamath River at Hopkins Creek, close to Weitchpec. - FILE
  • File
  • Klamath River at Hopkins Creek, close to Weitchpec.
The Yurok seek an injunction compelling the Bureau to relaunch the formal consultation process and stop limiting disease-management flows and other operations “reasonably certain to take juvenile coho salmon.”

It also seeks an order invalidating provisions of the 2013 biological opinion.

Co-plaintiffs include the Pacific Coast Federation of  ishermen’s Associations, the Institute for Fisheries Resources and Klamath Riverkeeper.

They are represented by Kristen Boyles with Earthjustice in Seattle.

National Marine Fishers Service spokesman Jim Midbury declined comment.

Bureau of Reclamation spokesman Shane Hunt did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment Thursday.

This story was reprinted with with the permission of Courthouse News Service.
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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Sometimes Voters Just Sit a Race Out

Posted By on Sat, Dec 3, 2016 at 9:24 AM

  • File
While the latest round of Humboldt County election results didn't change any outcomes, the numbers do reveal some interesting tidbits about the races voters chose to sit out.

Humboldt County Registrar of Voters Kelly Sanders said in an email to the Journal on Friday that there are “approximately 5,000 ballots left to scan, which includes the provisional ballots.”

The final tally is slated to be certified Tuesday before being sent to the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors for approval on Dec. 13.

Voter turnout dipped a bit from 2012 with 67.22 percent of registered Humboldt County residents casting their ballots compared to 72.49 percent four years earlier despite one of the most contentious presidential elections in recent history.

Granted, this November’s ballot did pack a heavy punch for those who opted to weigh in on the state’s 17 ballot measures, including such hot-button topics as the death penalty and marijuana legalization, on top of a bevy of local options from city council races to school bonds to tax measures.

However, not all campaign contests are apparently considered equal in voters’ eyes, with several local council races — some contested and some not — bearing the brunt of what’s known as “under votes.”

And, there are a number of reasons why that might happen.

“An under vote occurs when a voter votes for fewer candidates than there are vacancies, or chooses not to vote in a contest,” Sanders said. “Sometimes under votes are used as part of a strategy to strengthen the chances of a particular candidate. Other reasons for an under vote might be that the voter didn’t feel informed about the candidates or contest, or they were dissatisfied with their choices.”

While most under voting occurred in races in which candidates were running unopposed for council seats, which was true in Ferndale, Fortuna and Trinidad as well as Eureka’s Ward 2 seat, there were still some double digit sit outs with challengers at hand.

The five-way Arcata City Council race for three seats saw 8,451 under votes, or 35.56 percent. That’s up from 18.81 percent in a two candidate race for a two-year seat and a 25.41 percent under vote in another five-person race for two four-year seats in 2014.

Back in 2012, the numbers were higher with the under votes at 47.27 percent, but the race had three candidates for three council seats.

Blue Lake, which went the write-in route after originally only receiving one qualified candidate for three open seats, had an under vote rate of 53.60 percent, which could be attributed in part to the fact that three of the four candidates didn’t appear on the ballot.

The under vote rate there was 31.92 percent in 2014, when three candidates ran for two seats, and 46.07 percent in 2012 with three candidates up for three seats.

College of the Redwoods political science professor Ryan Emenaker said part of the reason for the opt-out choices made in Arcata could be the student vote, which might be more focused on national rather than local elections.

Other reasons could include not voting in certain races “out of a sense of duty or lack of knowledge.”
“If someone has the option to vote for school board but they have no children in that local school district and they have never attended the local schools, they may choose not to vote in that race so that their vote does not dilute the votes of those who really care about the outcome,” Emenaker said in an email.

Where voters didn’t skimp on making their voices heard was the presidential race, with only 834 of the 55,771 Humboldt voters who cast ballots — or 1.5 percent — sitting that round out. Another was the question of whether to legalize recreational marijuana, which saw 1,228 voters sit on the sidelines. That didn’t surprise Emenaker.

“I also suspect that Prop. 64 on marijuana brought people out to the polls, but people that came to vote on that one issue may not have cared about (or known much about) other items on the ballot,” he wrote. “I remember hearing reports from poll workers in 2010, when California last voted on marijuana legalization, that many voters indicated to the poll workers that they only came to vote on legalization, and that they didn't realize there were other items (or did not care that there were other items) on the ballot.”

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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Ferndale Cowboy in National Rodeo Finals Tonight

Posted By on Thu, Dec 1, 2016 at 3:46 PM

  • Cinch Rodeo Promotional Material

Bill Bugenig, a Ferndale High School graduate and career rodeo cowboy, will compete in professional rodeo's "Superbowl" tonight, as he rides into the arena at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas for the 2016 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

Bugenig is a professional "bulldogger," or steer wrestler, and tonight he will be riding a gray horse named Two Guns as he bears down on a bovine that weighs anywhere from 350 to 650 pounds. Whether or not he takes home the buckle will depend on how fast and agile he is as he leans down from the horse to grasp the steer's horns, ultimately leaving the saddle to wrestle the steer to the ground. This process should be accomplished within three seconds. The sport is fast-paced, dangerous and physically demanding.

Bugenig, who played football, basketball and baseball for Ferndale High School as well as competing on the rodeo team, says he tried his hand at a number of different rodeo events but his larger size made bulldogging the best fit.

"I just kind of did the best at that as I got older," he told the Journal, adding that he has dealt with some injuries during his career, including surgery nine years ago on his pectoral muscle. At 35, Bugenig is also older than many of his competitors, whose ages skew toward mid-20s.

"There’s a lot of competition," he said. "There’s a whole new group of guys now, they’re younger and hungry. It’s a tough competition."

But Bugenig's experience seems to be serving him in good stead. This is his fourth time qualifying for the National Finals Rodeo. He shared an Average title with another cowboy at the NFR in 2010 and won both the 2014 Airdrie ProRodeo in Alberta, Canada and Big Sky ProRodeo Roundup in Great Falls, Montana.

Bugenig told the Journal he is excited for tonight and plans to be back on his Ferndale ranch in about 10 days. He doesn't have any big plans though.

"I'll probably just get back to work," he said.

The competition kicks off tonight at 6:45. Good luck, Bill!
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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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