From the publisher - Feb. 3, 2005 - North Coast Journal Weekly of Politics, People and Art, Humboldt County, Calif., USA "> North Coast Journal - Jan. 6, 2005: From the Publisher - Giving credit

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From the Publisher

Jan. 6, 2005


Giving credit


When I read the editorial in Sunday's Times-Standard, I was a little mystified. For some reason the opinion writer or writers for our local daily newspaper felt it necessary to chide the L.A. Times rather than congratulate the distinguished newspaper for a job well done. "[F]rankly, the L.A. Times knows as much about what makes this area tick as we know about the cracks in the Hollywood Walk of Stars," sniffed the T-S.

Really? Let's review.

On Jan. 25, the L.A. Times reported that Maxxam-owned Pacific Lumber Co. told the Schwarzenegger administration that "unless it is allowed to cut more trees, the firm may file for bankruptcy, which it says would likely terminate environmental safeguards promised as part of a $480-million Headwaters deal struck more than five years ago." [Emphasis added.]

The L.A. Times had obtained a copy of the presentation made to Schwarzenegger Cabinet secretary Terry Tamminen and Cal EPA general counsel Maureen Gorsen. In attendance were Maxaam CEO Charles Hurwitz from Houston headquarters, Palco President Robert Manne and two other Palco representatives, according to the article. It quotes Jeff Barrett, Pacific Lumber's director of science programs, as saying, "For now this life-and-death struggle comes down to this limited number of permits" the company wants to see approved ASAP.

While dire financial warnings have been coming from company officials for some time, this clearly was a specific heavy-handed attempt to pressure the state water board into approving more permits. Some may even go so far as to call it blackmail.

The T-S must have thought it was good reporting too, since the paper ran its own version the next day referencing the L.A. Times report.

The L.A. Times also ran an excellent editorial noting Palco's history of "hardball tactics" and urging the state to "hang tough" and "to take a magnifying glass to that [Palco] study" which claims that it could log even closer to streams without environmental damage.

Here is the kicker of the editorial that bears repeating:

"Something to watch: The undersecretary of the state Environmental Protection Agency, James Branham, is a former Pacific Lumber executive who, in a previous post in state government, helped broker the Headwaters deal. Californians may get to see up close how well or ill the revolving door of public service-private industry serves the public's purposes."

The Times-Standard called the editorial a "Lecture from La-La Land." We call it good journalism coupled with good leadership from its editorial writers.

[Access the complete editorial from L.A. Times]

Speaking of Palco and hardball tactics: Last week company officials came before the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors requesting an immediate letter of support to put additional pressure on the water board to act, an item not on the published agenda but added due to its "emergency" nature.

We'll give Supervisor Jill Geist only a half a gold star for voting against the letter itself after unwittingly falling for the "emergency" bluff. Supervisor Bonnie Neely voted for it twice, as did John Woolley and Jimmy Smith, calling it "innocuous." (The three get no star for their lack of adherence to the democratic process.)

We don't know what to give Supervisor Roger Rodoni. Probably a black mark for bringing this "emergency" item to the board's attention. (Rodoni's landlord is Pacific Lumber Co. and he is still the subject of an ongoing investigation by the Fair Political Practices Commission.) On the other hand -- for the first time ever -- Rodoni recused himself from voting on a matter involving his landlord, something this newspaper has been urging for about two years.

Maybe we'll erase his black mark for doing the right thing.

SEE the story in NEWS


A footnote from the publisher:

The North Coast Journal received news Monday that it has received a 2005 James Madison Award in the Community Media category from the Society of Professional Journalists, Northern California Chapter, Freedom of Information Committee.

According to the Feb. 1 press release:

"The Journal is recognized for its efforts to unseal grand jury transcripts from a high profile investigation of a Fortuna City Council member who was accused of covering up a conflict of interest regarding a real estate deal she personally represented. ["The Debi August files," Sept. 9, 2004.] Its investigation exposed a local political scandal. The Journal devoted considerable amounts of time, effort and money to open up records they knew were legally open to inspection -- no small burden for a community paper."

Such an award is always the result of a team effort, but I would like to personally congratulate Staff Writer Hank Sims and Editor Emily Gurnon for their efforts.

The award will be presented at a ceremony March 16 in San Francisco.



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