North Coast Journal WeeklyIn the News

February 15, 2001

Rollin' rollin' rollin'

Back from Iraq

Eureka homes on HGTV

Radio regs rankle DJs

Flap over Flatmo beer label

News show plug pulled

Certain gun locks recalled

Your taxes really at work

Chesbro appointments, grades

Rollin' rollin' rollin'

The first freight train in two years ran Tuesday on the Northwestern Pacific line from Lombard in Napa County to Schellville in Sonoma.

It was the first section of rail line, 40 miles in length, to reopen following the November 1998 shutdown ordered by the Federal Railroad Authority due to unsafe track conditions.

Bob Jehn, chairman of the North Coast Railroad Authority, told the North Coast Leadership Roundtable Tuesday he expects the line to Windsor will be open in about a month and Willits by summer.

"The board is developing a strategy to get the (Eel River) canyon open by the end of the year -- with or without FEMA," Jehn said. "We are committed to reopening the entire line (to Humboldt Bay). That is the foundation for a realistic transportation corridor."

The Federal Emergency Management Authority has been withholding $8 million in disaster relief funds from the railroad pending environmental review.

The railroad authority board, which oversees the only publicly owned freight rail line in California, is hoping to complete an "environmental assessment" and avoid a full-blown environment impact report on the Eel River canyon route.

The state has allocated $60 million to the repair and reconstruction of the line. Jehn reported that $2.8 million has been received and dispersed to creditors of the financially troubled line. The next payment of $6.2 million is due within weeks.

Jehn said that even with the entire $60 million in state funds, the board estimates it is still "about $30 million short of complete rehabilitation" on the line. And he made it clear the board is looking to the federal government for help.

Larry Henderson, a Eureka planning consultant and member of the leadership roundtable, said a railroad support coalition of civic organization is being formed to push for full funding to reopen and maintain the line. Among those organizations already on record supporting the railroad are the Humboldt County Taxpayers League, Friends of Humboldt, Citizens for Port Development, the Sierra Club and the League of Women Voters.

Back from Iraq

Arcata's globe-trotting peace activist Edilith Eckart recently returned from the Ramsey Clark-Iraq Sanctions Challenge No. 4.

The embargo-defying mission to Baghdad and Basrah included a delivery of $4 million worth of medicines and hospital supplies crossing the U.S. no-_y zone in an Iraq Airlines Boeing 747.

Eckart's personal agenda included inspecting the repaired Labbani water purification plant south of Basrah that was repaired by members of Veterans for Peace. The organization sent a work party there in October to help supply uncontaminated water to the Abul Khaseeb Valley which was getting its water from a polluted river. Eckart also visited the Ameriyah Bomb Shelter which was devasted 10 years ago by two bombs that killed hundreds of women and children.

"This time I brought with me very personal letters from local Friends (Quakers) stating how sorry they were that the children of the neighborhood had been killed," said Eckart in an e-mail report. "I connected with a woman. She had lost her mother and niece in the bombing. She was in tears as she read the letters.

"The schoolrooms still had no supplies. Graphite in pencils is a prohibited import, since the UN committee classifies it as a weapon material. The children had a slate blackboard in the front of the classroom and each child had a small piece of chalk on the desk. A local Arcata person donated colored chalk boxes, which I presented to the classroom," Eckart said.

Veteran for Peace will send another work party March 12 to initiate repair of three more water plants. Arcata Chapter 56 and Garberville Chapter 22 have been handling the financing and arranging for the plant worktrips. Donations may be made to Veterans for Peace Iraq Water Project P.O. Box 532, Bayside 95524.

Eureka homes on HGTV

When the "Old Homes Restored" television crew came to town in January it promised a quick turnaround on the segments shot in Eureka. The Home and Garden Television (HGTV) programs featuring Eureka homes and artisans began airing this week. (See the Journal Jan. 25 cover story, "Restoring Architectural Heritage.")

"Old Homes Restored" is shown two times on Tuesdays and again the following Sunday afternoon on HGTV, cable channel 29. Episode 207, with a section on Mary Beth Wolford's Old Town French apartment, airs Sunday, Feb. 18 at 3 p.m.

Episode 208 includes three segments shot in Eureka -- the restoration of the Zanone/Kuhnel Queen Anne house, the Gunther Island fisherman's cottage home of Mark Staniland and Mayor Nancy Flemming and an "In the Details" short on Allen Van Etten's work with antique lighting. It airs Tuesday, Feb. 20, at 4:30 and 11:30 p.m. with a repeat 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 25.

Episode 209, runs Tuesday, Feb. 27, and Sunday, March 4, with a "Problem Solver" segment on earthquake restoration at the Zanone/Kuhnel House. Episode 210 airs March 6 and 11 with a visit to the Blue Ox Millworks.

For more information visit the Eureka Heritage Society website at

Radio regs rankle DJs

When KHSU DJ Sista Soul was a child, she loved her shortwave radio because she could listen to people from around the world and enjoy the full diversity of radio. She said she sees the same potential in Internet radio, calling it "a marvelous idea."

"But when they mess with my show and tell me what I can do, it's like telling an artist, `You can't use that color on your canvas.'"

KHSU, the National Public Radio affiliate at Humboldt State University, has initiated plans to go online, sending out its programming to anyone with an Internet connection. But there's a hitch: The U.S. Copyright Office has issued rules about what can be played on the Internet that would seriously mess with radio programming like Sista Soul's. The new regulations only apply to Internet radio, but if KHSU and other Humboldt stations want to broadcast over the web, they will apply.

At the heart of the new regulations are rules stipulating how much music from a single copyrighted source can be played per three-hour period -- no more than three cuts from a single album or four cuts by the same artist can be played over that period. There are other new rules as well, prohibiting playing more than two consecutive songs from the same album or making public a list of what you will be playing.

The rules would play hell with shows like hers, Sista Soul said. She likes to feature artists, focusing on one performer for a large part of her show.

"Part of my educational process is to show the breadth of someone's work. If I only had the opportunity to play four songs by that artist, my hands are tied."

That's why she and at least one other programmer are refusing to sign agreements circulated by the management of KHSU that state they will abide by the rules. Sista Soul and fellow DJ Jean Wellington, who have a combined 33 years of experience broadcasting for the station, have both said they simply will not sign anything they don't agree with.

Terry Green, KHSU's station manager, said he doesn't agree with the regulations either. But getting onto the Internet is of vital importance to the station because it "directly corresponds with KHSU's mission.

"Humboldt alumni who live elsewhere want to have a connection to the community," and an Internet broadcast could provide that link. In addition, the novelty of Internet broadcasting makes it a perfect fit for a university radio station.

"It's part of what we do. We turn stuff like this on and see what happens."

The station's best chance to fight the regulations is to appeal to its congressional representatives and have the law changed, Green said. In the meantime, KHSU does not have a firm policy about what will happen to people who refuse to sign the agreement.

One other radio station in the area knows exactly what it is going to do: nothing.

Randy Joe Blount, KHUM general manager, said his station's strategy is to "ignore the rules." If forced, the station might take the copyright office to court, Blount said, because "the government has decided to go into a place it doesn't belong."

The issue is of special importance to KHUM because they enjoyed great success on the Internet, claiming around 10,000 listening sessions per month.

They've gained that listenership by providing a unique product, Blount said, and they're not about to let someone else tell them what they can do.

"The government is trying to mandate radio into providing an inferior product and not serve the needs of listeners."

Flap over Flatmo beer label

[photo of beer bottle]Imagine you're in the grocery store and want to buy a six-pack of beer. You're browsing past Steelhead and Bud when something unusual catches your eye: A bottle of stout with Jesus on the label.

That's what Rama Rawal, a Eureka resident of Indian descent, feels like when she sees the Lost Coast Brewery's Indica Pale Ale, which features the Hindu deity Ganesh with a beer in his hand. Rawal isn't a practicing Hindu, but she does place great importance on her cultural heritage, and she said the label has offended her, her family and friends.

"If I saw a beer with Jesus drinking on the label I just wouldn't buy the beer," said Duane Flatmo, the artist who designed the label. Flatmo said he is genuinely sorry if he has offended anyone -- when he was painting the picture, he went to the effort of asking several Hindus he knew if it would offend them and they said it would not.

Ganesh, a multiarmed creature with the head of an elephant, was chosen for the label because "it looked cool," said Flatmo.

But Rawal said the idea of using a god to sell something, especially beer, should have raised a red flag.

"I think he should have considered the fact he was taking something so sacred and putting it in front of billions of people."

Flatmo, who said he believes in God himself, said he respects her right to protest but never meant to offend.

"If Ganesh forgives people, I ask for his forgiveness."

News show plug pulled

If you tried to tune in the 5:30 evening news on ABC affiliate KAEF this week you found World News Tonight in its place. In the face of lackluster ratings, the local news department folded its tent Tuesday, Feb. 6.

Channel 23's news director Cheryl Broom and the show's technical director have moved to Redding to work for KAEF's sister station. The rest of the county's smallest TV news department is looking for other work.

In a call from Redding, Station Manager Bob Wise said KAEF is exploring a number of options for replacement programing.

"We wonder if there might be interest in news coming from the San Francisco area, or news from Chico/Redding or even news from Sacramento. We're hoping to get some viewer input on what they'd like to see."

The station's 11 p.m. news brief broadcast has been replaced with a Eureka weather forecast sent over from Redding.

Certain gun locks recalled

Gun owners who went to the trouble of putting a lock on their firearm might be in for a nasty surprise.

More than 400,000 of the devices have been recalled by the National Shooting Sports Foundation because, according to a foundation report, "under certain conditions they can open without the use of the key, giving unauthorized access to a firearm."

The locks in question were distributed by the foundation, sometimes through law enforcement agencies. They have a red cable and a black padlock and are imprinted with "PROJECT HOMESAFE" and "Made in China." To view the recalled lock, go to Call 1-800-726-6444 for more information.

Your taxes really at work

You probably won't be thinking about fresh vegetables when you fill out your California tax return this year -- but there's good reason to. On Line 57 of your return, you can volunteer to contribute funds to the Emergency Food Assistance Program, money that will be sent to food banks across California.

The money is important to food banks, said Cynthia Chason, executive director of Eureka's Food for People, Inc. While donations of non-perishables provide the bulk of the food they distribute, "we've found we don't always have enough fresh fruits and vegetables," Chason said. So far, the program has been worth $6,315, or "enough carrots and potatoes to last six months," Chason said.

"We have a lot of low-income families and individuals here," she said, and even a modest contribution can make a big difference.

Chesbro appointments, grades

State Sen. Wesley Chesbro had a pretty good week. First, he was given an A+ for his environmental voting record, and then he learned he's in line for a few key committee assignments.

The California League of Conservation Voters, the nation's largest and oldest environmental political action committee, grades the voting records of state senators once per legislative year. Chesbro received a perfect score for the second year in a row.

Searching for practical solutions helped him achieve the perfect rating, Chesbro said.

"Fewer of these bills were polarizing like environmental proposals in the past. They are instead reflective of the attempt to come up with economic and environmental solutions," Chesbro said in a telephone interview from Sacramento.

Avoiding polarizing issues can be tough sometimes. Senate Bill 717, which would have instituted two-year moratorium on clearcutting in California, would have required Chesbro to choose a side in the sometimes bitter fight over timber practices. The Senate adjourned before the bill could be considered, and Chesbro said it would be hard to say what he would have done.

"I am in favor of a less polarizing approach," he said.

Chesbro was named last week to the committee on Health and Human Services and the subcommittee on aging and long-term care. He said he has been told by Senate President Pro Tem John Burton (San Francisco) that he will be appointed chair of the budget subcommittee dealing with health care, veterans' affairs and labor.

"I'm going to be focusing on inadequate care, HMOs in rural areas, the needs of low-income seniors in rural areas and on rural health clinics," Chesbro said. The budget appointment will be especially important because "the natural order of things is that rural areas do not get their fair share" of state health care dollars.

"This gives me the opportunity to make sure rural areas get back their share of taxes sent to the state."


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