Monday, February 27, 2017

Timeline Proposed for Filling Arcata Council Seat

Posted By on Mon, Feb 27, 2017 at 2:13 PM

  • City of Arcata
  • Wheetley
The nearly two years remaining in Arcata Councilmember Mark Wheetley’s term are set to be filled by appointment in April as he prepares for his last meeting before moving on to serve as Fortuna’s new city manager.

The council is scheduled Wednesday to approve opening up an application process, running until March 24, from those interested in saddling up to the dais until December of 2018, when Wheetley's term expires. Wheetley’s seat officially becomes open the next day.

Hopefuls must live and be registered to vote in Arcata, submit at least 20 valid signatures from registered Arcata voters (a list of 30 is recommended) and hand in a maximum 250-word candidate statement explaining their qualifications. (For a full listing of rules and requirements, view the agenda packet.)

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Discontinuing a Trail in Arcata's Community Forest

Posted By on Mon, Feb 27, 2017 at 11:44 AM

Tim Canning relocates a fern during trail maintenance day in Arcata Community Forest. - BEAU SAUNDERS
  • Beau Saunders
  • Tim Canning relocates a fern during trail maintenance day in Arcata Community Forest.
Early Saturday morning, volunteers gathered in Arcata Community Forest for a trail building work day.

Organized through a partnership between the city of Arcata and the Humboldt Trails Council, 25 volunteers spent the morning working on a section of Trail 4, which was recently rerouted to avoid a steep and slippery section of trail.

Dennis Houghton, parks facilities natural resources supervisor for the city, was directing the transplanting of more than 30 ferns, aided by Rees Huges, a volunteer coordinator of the Arcata Community Forest Trail Stewards (and sometimes Journal contributor).

“When we first started four years ago, we had seven or eight people showing up, and now we have a 25 person core group, which has been really good,” Houghton said. “Bottom line is each and every event is open to all, and we encourage people to come and help out. We’ve been partnering with [Humboldt State University], Arcata High School, and the local Boy Scout and Girl Scout Clubs, all helping make this forest accessible and safe to enjoy.”

By the end of the day, more than 100 yards of old trail had been filled with ferns, fallen logs, branches and forest duff and was clearly no longer a path for the bikers, hikers and equestrians who use the forest. David Guyer, a volunteer at the event, said, “I’ve recently moved back to the area after 20 years, and it’s one of the highlights of my week to come out make a good effort. Replanting ferns today was really fantastic.”

The Arcata Community Forest Trail Stewards meet at 9 a.m. on the fourth Saturday of every month (excluding December), and welcome volunteers to come help out.
(Left to right) Gary Friedrichsen, John Sullivan, George Nickerson and Orleen Smukler pass limbs down the slope to mix in with replanted ferns. - BEAU SAUNDERS
  • Beau Saunders
  • (Left to right) Gary Friedrichsen, John Sullivan, George Nickerson and Orleen Smukler pass limbs down the slope to mix in with replanted ferns.
City of Arcata Parks, Facilities and Natural Resources Supervisor Dennis Houghton. - BEAU SAUNDERS
  • Beau Saunders
  • City of Arcata Parks, Facilities and Natural Resources Supervisor Dennis Houghton.
Arcata Community Forest Trail Stewards Coordinator Rees Hughes. - BEAU SAUNDERS
  • Beau Saunders
  • Arcata Community Forest Trail Stewards Coordinator Rees Hughes.
Dennis Houghton directs Naomi Winger, John Cortenbach, Rees Hughes, Alex Orozio, Zachary Matthews, Dan Calderwood and Joshua Sears as they move a fallen tree to block access to the discontinued trail. - BEAU SAUNDERS
  • Beau Saunders
  • Dennis Houghton directs Naomi Winger, John Cortenbach, Rees Hughes, Alex Orozio, Zachary Matthews, Dan Calderwood and Joshua Sears as they move a fallen tree to block access to the discontinued trail.
Volunteers pose for a group photo. - BEAU SAUNDERS
  • Beau Saunders
  • Volunteers pose for a group photo.

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TL;DR: Last Night at Roy's

Posted By on Mon, Feb 27, 2017 at 9:47 AM

The neon sign at Roy's, now dark. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • The neon sign at Roy's, now dark.
Busy week? We get it. Here are some highlights from this week's cover story, “Last Night at Roy's,” to get you caught up.

If you noticed the smell of garlic and the glow of neon missing from D Street in Old Town, it's because Roy's Club Italian Restaurant has finally closed, ending the Fanucchi family's 98-year run. For our cover story "Last Night at Roy's," we pulled up a barstool for the long goodbyes and soaked up the stories of gangsters and bootleggers as family, friends and patrons gathered for a last supper.

Here are five takeaways (and a bonus challenge) from our farewell to the speakeasy-turned-landmark.

1. Angelo Fanucchi came to Humboldt in 1906 to work in the lumber industry. Originally from Tassignano, a small town near the walled city of Lucca in the Tuscany region, he met up with and married Teresa, a young woman from his hometown, in Eureka.

2. In 1919, the Fanucchis bought the building at 218 D St. and turned the former sausage factory into a cigar shop with a speakeasy on the side, just in time to sell illegal hooch under Prohibition from 1920 to 1933. The family moved in upstairs and children Roy, Evo and Ida grew up with a view of Eureka's rough-and-tumble decades, when the town was rife with saloons and brothels. Ida remembers occasional raids and a tap that dispensed water if you turned it one way and whiskey (OK, diluted and colored grain alcohol, if we're being picky) if you turned it the other way.

3. Apparently Eureka was a good place for a gangster to lay low for a while. Ida Fanucchi says they knew some serious players were in town when they saw the big black Lincolns roll up. Two notorious characters who showed up were George Francis Barnes, the gangster and kidnapper better known as "Machine Gun Kelly," and Lester Joseph Gillis, aka "Baby Face Nelson," a member of John Dillinger's gang with bank robberies and dead FBI agents on his resume. Not knowing who they were at the time, Ida and Evo Fanucchi played baseball with them in an empty lot by what is now the Shanty.

4. Because they weren't citizens, the Fanucchis couldn't get a liquor license when they went legit after Prohibition's repeal. (Their status as enemy aliens later got them booted from the area near the waterfront for about six months during World War II.) Instead, their son Roy, who was American born, got the license and the place was named Roy's Club. Roy, who died in 1991, ran the kitchen as chef, turning out Humboldt's first pizzas and winning the attentions of legendary singer Billie Holiday during her semi-detox trips to Eureka.

5. Evo Fanucchi tended bar and ran the front of the house from the age of 21. He continued tending bar on Friday afternoons and regaling regulars with tales of local history until last week, at the age of 96. He and his wife, Catherine, who made all the pasta on the premises, are finally retiring. Also taking a break is Kathleen Cross, who started bussing tables at Roy's at the age of 19 and has been waiting tables for more than 30 years.

BONUS: This one didn't make it into the story. Over by the bar, Evo Fanucchi shared one of his greatest memories: meeting his favorite movie star, John Wayne, who he says was gracious and friendly. Fanucchi, along with fellow Navy Seabees, was filmed in uniform for The Fighting Seabees (1944), starring Wayne. He said you can see him in a shot sharing some plans. There's a Journal T-shirt in it for the first reader who sends us a screenshot.
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Sunday, February 26, 2017

HumBug: Beacon Islands on a Dreary Day

Posted By on Sun, Feb 26, 2017 at 3:00 PM

A tiny fly using its long mouth parts to gather nectar from a pussy willow. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • A tiny fly using its long mouth parts to gather nectar from a pussy willow.
It was sunny when I went to get my hiking boots but by the time I got dressed and out the door, it was 49 degrees and drizzling. I went anyway. The path down to the river was dark, the only sounds were the gentle “pok, pok” of water dripping from branches. The burning in my fingertips told me it was too cold for insects to be servicing the barely open Indian plum flowers. Down on the flood scrubbed river bar were scant traces of life.
A bumblebee on a pussy willow branch. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • A bumblebee on a pussy willow branch.

Near the end of the trail, out in the open, something buzzed furiously around me three or four times then headed off. From the quick glimpse I got I knew it was a bumblebee. It headed for a big pussy-willow about 50 meters upstream. Against the subdued damp earth tones of the river bank, dark overcast sky and somber evergreens, the yellow green of their catkins stood in sharp contrast, beckoning nectar and pollen feeders.

A teensy wasp gets in on the pollinating. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • A teensy wasp gets in on the pollinating.

It was busy despite the cold. Insects were there in numbers. I started taking pictures and realized except for a couple of tiny bees they were all flies of one sort or another. Members of the order Diptera they are unique among the orders of insects in having only two wings instead of four. In my opinion it is the most diverse order. They fill the same niches as most of the other orders from parasites and hunters to, in this case, nectar feeders, which provide pollination services to a great many flowering plants. My college entomology professor did his thesis on pollinators of the wildflower Clarkia. To everyone's surprise, the majority of insects to visit the flowers he monitored were various species of flies. It may be true for willows as well.

A black fly pollinating on the same plant. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • A black fly pollinating on the same plant.

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Man Killed After Running into Traffic Near Garberville

Posted By on Sun, Feb 26, 2017 at 1:26 PM

A 32-year-old pedestrian was killed Saturday afternoon when he reportedly tried to run across U.S. Highway 101 near Garberville and was hit by a Subaru.

Shortly after 1 p.m., Travis Rothwell, of Garberville, ran from the east across U.S. 101 and directly in front of a northbound 2001 Subaru Outback driven by a 20-year-old from Arcata. Rothwell died at the scene.

“Alcohol and or drug impairment is under investigation as a factor in this collision,” the California Highway Patrol stated in a press release.

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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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Friday, February 24, 2017

County Elections Office Seeks Injunction Against Fart Joke

Posted By on Fri, Feb 24, 2017 at 2:55 PM

  • Author Illustration
Every year voters receive a small booklet of information that includes a list of candidates, descriptions of upcoming ballot measures and arguments for and against. Most of us give those arguments – 300 words each of pros, cons and one rebuttal apiece – little thought. But most of us aren’t Scotty McClure, a board trustee for the Southern Humboldt Unified School District, vocal Donald Trump supporter, anti-taxxer and civic enthusiast.

When the opportunity arose for residents in the Southern Humboldt Community Healthcare District to weigh in on Measure W – a special election measure that would create a $170 a year parcel tax within the district’s boundaries, McClure jumped at the opportunity. He labored over his con statement, grudgingly complying with requests it be edited for length. When given the opportunity to answer the pro-measure W’s rebuttal, he shot back with a succinct opinion that couldn't be edited for length: “Insert fart smell here.”

Those four simple words have made things fairly complicated for the Humboldt County Elections Office, which is required to get the voter pamphlet out no later than March 8 for the May 2 vote. The elections clerk, Kelly Sanders, objects to sending voters a packet with a fart joke. But the date to submit pro and con arguments has passed, and McClure’s was the only submission. McClure, currently vacationing in Arizona, is holding his ground.
“I could understand why if I were cutting somebody down, but I’m not,” said McClure, adding that “fart” is not a profanity.

Because McClure refuses to withdraw or amend his irreverent statement, Sanders has been forced to seek a court order to delete the offending words because state law doesn't give elections officials discretion to censor ballot arguments. Instead, the California Elections Code states that during the public examination period for elections material “any voter … or the elections official may seek a writ of mandate or an injunction requiring any material to be amended or deleted.” Deputy County Counsel Joel Ellinwood explained more clearly why the fart joke is going to court.

“It’s my client’s position that that is not consistent with the elections code as interpreted through case law,” said Ellinwood. “My client has no authority to independently interpret what should and should not be a valid argument. If there is a question about that, it has to be put before the judge.”

Ellinwood refers to the part of the state elections code that might prompt Judge Timothy Cissna, in front of whom the matter will be debated, to issue a writ of mandate or injunction, which refers to material that is “false, misleading or inconsistent.”

Reached by phone, Steve Chessin, president of Californians for Electoral Reform, said that at first blush the phrase, “insert fart smell here,” did not seem to be meet the criteria of being “false, misleading or inconsistent,” although he hastened to say this was only his personal opinion and he might revise it after reviewing the full pro-and-con rebuttals.
The Humboldt County Office of Elections sent us transcripts of the pro and con arguments (below).

Ellinwood is pushing for a March 6 court date, when McClure will be back from Arizona, which will put the county just under the wire to distribute the pamphlets by deadline.

“My client feels strongly about the integrity of the elections process,” said Ellinwood in a phone interview this morning. “She feels that profane expressions that don’t provide information for the voters don’t belong in official elections material.”

He added that it was “inappropriate” for taxpayers to fund for the distribution of “irrelevant or scatological material.”

McClure interprets the injunctive action, in which the board of supervisors will be named as the respondent and McClure will be listed as the party of interest, differently.

“The elections department does not have a right to censor me,” he said, adding that the close date has put a damper on his Southwestern vacation.

The outcome of the hearing, tentatively scheduled for March 6, may set local precedent for the fate of future fart jokes in election material.

Editor's Note: This article was updated to reflect new material sent to us by the elections office and to correct the description of the elections code, which is  a state, not a municipal code. The
Journal regrets the error.

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Huffman: 'I Know My Job is to Fight'

Posted By on Fri, Feb 24, 2017 at 1:11 PM

Huffman pledges to fight at his town hall in Arcata on Thursday. - BEAU SAUNDERS
  • Beau Saunders
  • Huffman pledges to fight at his town hall in Arcata on Thursday.

There were no shouting matches, angry jeers, seas of protest signs or calls for his ouster in 2018. Unlike the rancorous town halls some members of Congress are facing across the nation, North Coast Representative Jared Huffman’s meeting in Arcata was a rather friendly affair, often punctuated by bursts of applause, cheers and even laughter at his pithy jabs at the new administration.

“I’m very clear-eyed about what is going on in our county and I know my job is to fight,” Huffman said to loud cheers during in his introductory remarks, in which he called for a respectful and positive exchange of views.

He noted that one woman who was a supporter of President Donald Trump had contact his office to ask whether she would be safe attending the meeting, which drew a few chuckles from the crowd.

Huffman emphasized that “whether you are a Trump supporter or a resister, I want to have a conversation with you and have it be productive.”

More than 1,000 people turned out for the town hall, which had to be moved to a larger venue after Huffman's office received a flood of RSVPs. - BEAU SAUNDERS
  • Beau Saunders
  • More than 1,000 people turned out for the town hall, which had to be moved to a larger venue after Huffman's office received a flood of RSVPs.
That’s not to say there weren’t a few pointed questions from the mixed generational crowd of more than 1,000 that packed the bleachers of the Arcata High School gym, with the spillover of attendees finding a space to sit on the floor or lining up along the edges of the walls. This for a meeting called with about 48 hours' notice.

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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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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Defense Attorneys Urge Supes to Scrap Public Defender Hire, Start Over

Posted By on Tue, Feb 21, 2017 at 2:03 PM

  • Thinkstock
It’s very hard to say exactly what recently hired Public Defender David Marcus has been doing for the last five years since his controversial tenure leading Lassen County’s defense services for the indigent came to a close.

The resume Marcus submitted to the county indicates that, since leaving Lassen County in 2012, he has worked for the firm Cella Lange and Cella as a contract attorney, doing transactional real estate and property loss consulting. But that seems to raise more questions than it answers.

Google the firm’s name and you’ll find plenty of listings — on directory sites like — indicating the firm has a Walnut Creek address, but you’ll be hard pressed to find anything more. The firm has no website, and doesn’t seem to come up in any news stories or legal filings on the web. Google the firm’s name and Marcus’ together and you’ll get zero hits.

In an effort to find out more about the firm and Marcus, the Journal called it directly, twice, telling a receptionist we were hoping to speak with someone who’s worked with Marcus or supervised him. No one returned the call. We called back saying we simply wanted additional information about the firm — things like how many attorneys it employed, how many offices it has and what areas of law it specializes in — and the receptionist said there was no one there who could answer those questions. Pressed, he said the firm specializes in “civil law” before assuring someone would return the Journal’s call. No one did.

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