Comment Archives: stories: News: News: Last 7 Days

Re: “Sanity on Trial

Wow, how did this story escape my radar! Now long retired, I feel like it reads to the core of my early professional roles in the mental health field. First as a psychiatric technician then as a psychiatric social worker at Atascadero State Hospital. Later my career included a stint with CONREP delivering outpatient treatment to and supervision of released patients in the community. I have written numerous reports to judges, voiced my clinical opinion on numerous occasions regarding a clients readiness to re-enter society, testified in courts throughout the state, and even made risk assessments and decisions in part based on review of thousands of individual rap sheets while working for the State of California.

The story as printed seems extremely factual to the process although I must admit it has been several decades since I worked in the mental health field and have not kept current on the most recent changes in law. Some of my earliest occasions to visit Eureka in the late 1980s came about in my role of interviewing prisoners in the HC Jail prior to writing CONREP evaluations to the Superior Court re: those inmates suitability for community treatment.

Heres what I learned then and what I believe now. First, people with mental health issues can clear their mind of symptoms obvious to others in society by taking prescribed psychotropic medication. The extra-pyramidal symptoms associated with taking them leave most almost universally loathe to continuing them when not supervised. Second, when supervised to ensure they do take psychotropic medication their psychotic symptomology abates. When they feel better, they rarely attribute their improvement to the medication. Rather, they see their improvement as evidence they are symptom free and dont require medication any longer. The fallacy in that thinking is they fail to realize/connect to the fact that the only reason they can think more clearly is because of the medication, not some divine healing that has miraculously occurred.

Rap sheets are notoriously incomplete and renown to have omissions of arrest and/or convictions on them. I have also read past studies regarding reliability of certain groups of individuals to make an accurate prediction as to whether persons with a history of mental illness will re-offend. The ones I remember showed that a group of citizens picked at random off the street could predict recidivism with as much accuracy as could a clinical treatment team consisting of therapists, doctors, psychiatrists, and psychologists. That would be the same clinical treatment team that would have working knowledge of all facets of the patients history and background as well as benefit of prolonged observation of behaviors in the inpatient setting.

One of the most trusted and seemingly recovered (from symptoms of psychosis and effects of a personality disorder) patients I knew and observed over a course of treatment bludgeoned to death a non-clinician maintenance supervisor with a hammer at Atascadero more than twenty-five years ago. It is the only staff murder on record at that institution over the past 40 years that Im aware of. (More than one patient has been killed, however.) Assaults against staff members holding many different job titles are rampant there to the point of being a daily occurrence. More than 1,000 men in that maximum-security level institution are treated under constant 24-hour supervision by staff of multiple disciplines working three shifts around the clock to ensure order and a therapeutic milieu. Many patients, ironically, are there as transfers from the Department of Corrections because, in addition to their criminality, they are psychotic too. In others words, Corrections is sent by the courts those who are bad (only). The Department of Mental Health gets them when they are both bad and become mad.

It is in this surreal, crowded, male only, maximally secure imitation of civilized society that patients under constant supervision and monitored medication compliance are evaluated for their suitability to be released to the community. My sincere belief born from years of clinical experience / exposure to patients within both in and outpatient treatment settings is that the most accurate predictor of future behavior comes from ones history of same.

Posted by Phil Braun on 01/22/2017 at 8:20 PM

Re: “Six Years and Counting

I am a neighbor and when I look at this house I cry. If he is unable to control what happens in his property or do appropriate repairs, he should give it up.

Posted by Emily Rowe on 01/22/2017 at 3:42 PM

Re: “Six Years and Counting

Home is where the heart is. The street is not a home. Like it or not Floyd has a purpose and these people would otherwise have nowhere without him. He keeps these lovelies out of your backyard. You ought to give him a metal. Unlike so called do gooders looking to get their grubby paws on the payee percentage. Yes you can eat but you gotta beg Jesus first.

Posted by Amasiauxor on 01/21/2017 at 4:43 PM

Re: “Six Years and Counting

It's long overdue, the court taking action against the squires!

Posted by Christine Dorsett Santos on 01/21/2017 at 5:11 AM

Re: “Battle for Boomer Jack

Anyone know how I might contact Lincoln Kilian?

The email I have for him from his book's website just doesn't work anymore:


Posted by Lanny Cotler on 01/20/2017 at 5:13 PM

Re: “Nurses, Stat

At the most basic level, this is a story about American economics and capitalists.

Nurses are a valuable commodity just as any other group of well-educated professionals are. Among other things, they seek to maximize their return (income) on their investment (time and money expended earning a nursing education and experience). When they consider where to work and whom to work for, they look at the value proposition consisting of the area and employers. The reality about Humboldt County is that it has an exceedingly poor value proposition for nurses. As it stands, Humboldt County's primary value proposition is (for the time being at least) growing marijuana. Timber and fishing were once major parts of the value proposition but play a minor role today and one that appeals to very few workers. Stated another way: For what the great majority of nursing professionals are looking for, Humboldt County provides very little. Thus, few choose to live in the area excepting being a traveler for a few months. The same applies to physicians (and other professionals), very few of whom desire to live and work in Humboldt County. If Humboldt County were such a great value proposition for professionals of all types, the best and brightest would live and work in the county. They dont.

The capitalist leadership of Providence St. Joseph Health and Mad River Hospital also fully understand how return on investment works. So long as Humboldt State University's Nursing program was turning out RNs, the two local hospitals had a convenient gravy train of new graduates ready to fill open positions. This was made possible the way that capitalists most prefer it: The state government and students paid the cost of the education. Realize this: If the return on investment calculations favored Providence and Mad River creating and operating their own local nursing school, they would do so without delay. The financial reality however, is that the return on investment calculations favor paying traveling nurses. This is possible because public payers (i.e., the state and federal governments) and private payers (e.g., Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield of California) reimburse Providence and Mad River enough to make traveling nurses less costly than locally educating nurses.

Change Humboldt County's value proposition, change reimbursement arrangements, change community priorities, etc. and different outcomes are possible. The current Humboldt County value proposition, reimbursement arrangements, and community priorities are yielding exactly the outcomes cited in the article.

Posted by vkqw4721 on 01/20/2017 at 11:47 AM

Re: “Nurses, Stat

Let's do talk about wages - it's a very valid concern. I don't have data to address the question about wage variation between local employers. However, on a national level, CA nurses are the highest paid in the nation (
Within CA, it's very true that nurses in rural areas make less money than those in urban areas. In fact, the nurses in the northern counties (including Humboldt) are some of the lower paid statewide, with average salary in 2014 of $84,461, annually. Nurses in rural southern CA counties do a bit better, with average salaries around $85 - 89K annually. Nurses in the San Francisco bay area (the top wages in the U.S.) are paid substantially more, at about $100K / year. (all data from the CA Board of Nursing: This is a difference of closer to $7 - $8 / hour, not $15. It may still be significant in nurses selecting options for employment.

Sadly, though, I think the local problems are more complex. Just my 2c, but I suspect most nurses who choose to live and work in Humboldt county are not interested in re-locating to SFO or Sacramento for better wages.

I applaud the local academic institutions and health care employers for their attention to this important matter.

Thanks Thad, for the balanced and informative reporting.

pat farmer

Posted by pat farmer on 01/20/2017 at 11:06 AM

Re: “Six Years and Counting

I have had a few cases over the last several years where I helped tenants who were served with eviction notices by Mr. Squires. Based on all I have seen and experienced, the properties should be under a full receivership. While Mr. Squires is intelligent and can be nice, he is unfit to manage real property. I believe he does many shady and illegal things to get rid of tenants that resist his unlawful practices. I had one case where he gave an eviction notice to an old woman for wanting her heater repaired in Winter! Could you ever imagine being that hard-hearted? For the sake of the City, the receiver must have full control.

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Andrew Stunich on 01/20/2017 at 10:48 AM

Re: “Nurses, Stat

Let's talk about wages! Compare the wages (& benefits) just between the 2 area hospitals. Let alone to the rest of California. How many RNs do we loose if they can make $15 more per hour w/ better benefits & less stress?

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by LOSBOZOS on 01/19/2017 at 12:40 PM

Re: “Nurses, Stat

It is a shame that our public officials have done little to address the nursing shortage and for that matter an overall medical professional shortage in Humboldt County. It is only getting worse as more and more medical professionals are retiring or leaving the county. We need an innovative program to lure nurses and doctors and support personnel to our community. This is becoming, if not already, a public health crisis. The excuse that, "it's just as bad in other rural communities" is tiresome and a shirk of responsibility. Our public officials should prioritize public health and attend a seminar or two on the subject rather than sticking their heads in the sand.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by ladynacage on 01/19/2017 at 9:38 AM

Re: “Genocide and Extortion

Yerva Nelson can you please email me at
My great great grandmother was also Matilda and I'm trying to find some information thank you!

Posted by Kristian Coates Sr. on 01/17/2017 at 12:35 PM

Re: “The Death of Jeannie Newstrom

my company wanted CA HHSA DSS LIC 610E earlier today and was informed about an online platform that has lots of form templates . If others need to fill out CA HHSA DSS LIC 610E as well , here's a LIC 610E

Posted by Angel Javire on 01/17/2017 at 12:45 AM

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