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March 5, 2004

The Weekly Wrap

E L E C T I O N  R E S U L T S

Jubilation at the brewery
Hundreds celebrate the DA's easy victory

Dikeman's hollow victory
Crowd thins after news of recall's defeat



BODY RECOVERED: The body of Keith Murphy, manager of Murphy's Market in Trinidad, was recovered shortly after 11 a.m. Sunday about three-quarters of a mile north of the Big Lagoon boat ramp, the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office reported. Murphy, 40, was piloting a boat that capsized there a week earlier. His step-son, Tyler Butler-Smith, 20, managed to save Murphy's 3-year-old daughter, Kaitlyn, after Murphy handed her off to the younger man.

LNG UPDATE: The Eureka City Council is expected to vote March 16 on an "exclusive right to negotiate" with Calpine, the San Jose company that wants to install a liquefied natural gas terminal in Humboldt Bay. Meanwhile, other companies are moving forward with similar plans: The Associated Press reported Monday that McMoRan Exploration Co. has submitted an application to build an LNG terminal in the Gulf of Mexico about 37 miles east of Venice, La., and Repsol YPF SA announced last month that it will invest about $350 million to build an LNG plant on the Pacific Coast of Mexico, in the state of Michoacan, Bloomberg reported. Also, U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham traveled to Los Angeles last week to meet with energy industry leaders and to "discuss the importance of developing natural gas import capability on the West Coast through the development of LNG terminals." In case you were wondering how the Bush Administration stands on the issue.

TAKE NOTES, LOSE YOUR JOB: A College of the Redwoods student is looking for work after being fired from his three-year position as a chef and bartender at the Scotia Inn. His transgression? Taking notes for a journalism class during a Gallegos recall fund-raiser. Bryan Holley said he took out a notebook during a lull in his duties as speakers took the mike, not intending to write anything for publication. A few moments later, PL President Robert Manne approached him and demanded to know why he was writing things down, Holley said. Manne took the notebook; Holley was dismissed a few minutes later, and two days later, he was told not to come back. Rob Flanigan, spokesman for the recall campaign, told the Times-Standard that Holley was a Gallegos operative, a charge Holley strenuously denied. Pacific Lumber would not comment on the firing. "We don't really have anything to say," said spokesperson Erin Dunn. "It's between the Scotia Inn and the bartender."

SUPES CHOOSE MEDICAL POT BOARD: The Board of Supervisors chose a panel Tuesday of local law enforcement, education and health care workers, as well as medical marijuana users, to serve as the county's new medical marijuana task force. The group will be charged with reporting back to the Supes within 90 days with recommendations on the county's proposed medical pot ordinance. Members include Humboldt County Chief Probation Officer Bill Burke, HSU vice-president Steven Butler, Linda Marcuz-Kehl of Hospice of Humboldt, John Sapper of the county's Office of Education, physician Ken Miller and medical marijuana patient Bobby Harris.

NEW MAYOR, COUNCILMAN IN FERNDALE: The Ferndale City Council voted last week to appoint Councilmember Elizabeth Anderson as mayor to serve out the term of Frank Taubitz, who died suddenly on Feb. 4. The council also appointed Ken Mierzwa, a project manager with global engineering firm Earth Tech, to fill Anderson's seat on the council.

HSU WOMEN ARRESTED AFTER FIGHT: Two HSU students were arrested last Friday after they allegedly attacked an Arcata police officer. At about 2:13 a.m. on Feb. 27, police were called to break up a fight involving six to seven people in the 2500 block of Alliance Road and allegedly found several women in a verbal dispute. While trying to intervene, Officer Ben Whetstine was punched in the face by Natalie Dawley, 22, of Arcata, who initially identified herself as Natasha Davis, police said. As Whetstine was restraining Dawley, Katya Amina, 23, of Arcata, jumped on his back and began assaulting him, according to police. Both suspects were booked into Humboldt County Jail. Whetstine was treated for scratches and lacerations at Mad River Community Hospital.

REDWAY LOGGER FINED: The California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) has upheld a civil penalty of $41,500 against John Douglas Hale of Redway for illegal logging activity on his property in May 2000. Hale was charged with harvesting timber without an approved timber harvest plan and using heavy equipment in a watercourse and lake protection zone, among other things.

LOW-INTEREST HOME REPAIR LOANS: Homeowners in Blue Lake, Fortuna and Rio Dell may qualify for low-interest loans through the Redwood Community Action Agency. The loans are available for structural and mechanical repairs to preserve the home and protect the occupants on areas such as roofs, foundations, siding, porches and all mechanical systems. Loans to improve accessibility and energy efficiency, and to address lead paint problems, may also be available. For income eligibility and other details, call 269-2034.

Jubilation at the brewery
Hundreds celebrate the DA's easy victory


[Paul Gallegos in Lost Coast Brewery with supporters]A campaign volunteer's wolf whistle silenced the crowd shortly after 9 p.m. Tuesday night. After quiet descended, Steve Schectman started pounding the balustrade upstairs at the Lost Coast Brewery, and suddenly it was official: DA Paul Gallegos had defeated the recall, and defeated it badly.

The hundreds of Gallegos supporters who had packed the brewery erupted in a deafening cheer as Gallegos gave a short speech thanking the people who had volunteered to work to defeat the effort to remove him from office.

"What we learned here, I hope, is if we work and sacrifice for democracy, it will work and sacrifice for us," Gallegos said.

The bulk of the DA's victory speech consisted of a recitation of Mahatma Gandhi's "Seven Sins." The crowd again exploded with cheers when he got to the fourth -- "commerce without morality." That was taken by all present as a reference to the Pacific Lumber Co., which had carried the finances of the recall effort almost entirely.

"It is truly our victory, not mine," he said in closing. "So, thanks."

With only 1,500 to 2,000 absentee and provisional votes left to be counted, the recall -- Measure F on the ballot -- was trailing by some 11,000 votes after the final tallies Tuesday night. It was an ignoble end for an effort that had dominated the local political scene since it was launched just weeks after Gallegos filed fraud charges against PL in February of last year. At the end of Tuesday, 30,716 Humboldt County citizens had voted against the recall, with 19,464 in favor.

But if Gallegos' stunning margin of victory was the most surprising result of the night, the county's turnout for Assistant District Attorney Tim Stoen's aborted run for U.S. Senate was a very close second. Stoen -- who is prosecuting the county's lawsuit against PL -- received 1,185 votes from fellow Humboldt County Republicans, despite having actively campaigned for the office only one day in December.

Stoen, who was among those celebrating at the Lost Coast Brewery Tuesday night, said that Gallegos' large victory meant that he could finally run the office without political distractions.

"It's not back to normal -- Paul has juice," Stoen said. "He owns that office for the first time, and by gosh we're going to make it the best office in the state."

Supervisor John Woolley -- a vocal and active Gallegos supporter -- was the only member of the Board of Supervisors to turn out for Tuesday night's party.

"It's always good to be with a winner," he said.

Woolley added that he took heart from the surprisingly large majority that voted against Measure F, as it showed that Humboldt County citizens would not be swayed by the economic interests of a private corporation.

"In terms of the widespread margin, not only does the recall not stand on its own merits, it shows that a majority of the people believe that a major corporation should not be able to have this much influence in the electoral process," he said.

Earlier in the day, Gallegos had gone on a last-minute campaign tour of the county, starting in Orick and working his way down to Eureka. He said that he had met with many local citizens and had encountered a variety of strong opinions about his tenure as DA.

"The fact is that people have been galvanized, one way or another," he said before learning of his victory.

The Friends of Paul Gallegos conducted a massive get-out-the-vote drive on election day, with designated "precinct captains" for each region of the county. Richard Salzman, who managed the effort, said that the campaign had identified 11,000 solid Gallegos supporters throughout the county in the run-up to the election, and the precinct captains made sure that they all got to the polls.

Jaime O'Donnell of Trinidad was the committee's campaign manager for the Scotia, Rio Dell, Carlotta, Bridgeville and Hydesville precincts. He said that the Friends of Paul had identified 60 Gallegos supporters in the Scotia area, and he made sure that every one of them got to the polls.

"Everywhere we went the poll workers were completely amazed," he said. "They said they'd never seen such a dedicated organization."

After the victory celebration, Gallegos returned to the Friends of Paul Gallegos headquarters to field telephone calls from out-of-town newspapers.

"We're working on the principle that right makes might," he told one reporter.

Rob Flanigan, campaign manager of the Safety Yes, Recall Gallegos! Committee, did not return calls Tuesday evening.

Dikeman's hollow victory
Crowd thins after news of recall's defeat


Worth Dikeman and his supporters agreed on one thing Tuesday night: They accomplished their goal.

"We're all supporting you. We're all pulling for you," said Officer Rocky Harpham of the Eureka Police Department, who showed up in uniform at Dikeman's post-election gathering at the Carter Cottage, next door to the Carter House Bed and Breakfast. (Harpham was on duty; Dikeman joked that he was responding to reports of a rowdy party.)

The officer hadn't heard the latest results -- that the recall of District Attorney Paul Gallegos had failed.

"Well, we got more votes than the other two [candidates]," Dikeman replied. "That's what we set out to do."

Dikeman, a deputy district attorney who has worked in the office nearly 19 years, seemed unruffled by the news that he would not be the next DA. With 100 percent of the precincts reporting, the recall was firmly trounced, 61 percent to 39 percent. "We ran the sort of campaign I wanted to run, and we're very pleased with the results, pleased with the support," he said.

The veteran prosecutor placed first among the replacement candidates, winning 56 percent of the vote. Civil attorney Steve Schectman, who ran in support of Gallegos, came in second, with 24 percent, and former prosecutor Gloria Albin Sheets garnered just short of 13 percent.

Dikeman's wife, civil attorney Geri Anne Johnson, said that, while Dikeman is very competitive, he has a thick skin. He would not let the result faze him. "The only reason he entered that race was to keep Steve Schectman out of that office," she said. "And he succeeded in that." (Schectman, the first to jump in the ring as a replacement candidate, has no experience in criminal law, and prosecutors in the DA's office were reportedly dead-set against working for him.)

The party was attended by a dozens of law enforcement personnel, Dikeman family members and other supporters. Until shortly before 9:30, the cottage, about the size of a large living room, was packed. Then, the news filtered through the group that the recall was going down. The crowd thinned.

Dikeman -- who refused throughout the campaign to say how he would vote -- revealed Tuesday that he cast his ballot in favor of the recall. He cited the story of baseball legend Babe Ruth, who, when asked why he made more money than the president of the United States, said, "I had a better year."

And so did he, Dikeman said. "Paul hasn't had a good year. Once [the recall] qualified for the ballot, I had an open mind, but there were some things I saw that distressed me greatly."

The case of Pedro Martinez-Hernandez, the Ferndale child molester who made news as a supposed example of Gallegos' "soft-on-crime" stance, especially troubled him, Dikeman said. "It was his reaction when the Hernandez story broke. This may not be Paul entirely," since his campaign weighed in, but "certainly there was an effort to cover it up. Misinformation was released." He did not elaborate.

Fellow candidate Sheets made an appearance at Dikeman's event, after having dinner with supporters at Mazzotti's in Eureka. "I feel fine," she said. "I'm disappointed for the people. I think they missed a golden opportunity to set things straight." Dikeman greeted her warmly. "Nicely done," he said.

Dave Walker, a retired DA investigator and former sheriff's deputy who directed Dikeman's campaign, said the recall opponents obviously "struck a note there in the general population," with the Pacific Lumber issue. Dikeman's wife, Johnson, put it bluntly: "The PL thing stunk," she said.

But Walker said that Gallegos still has work to do.

"I've seen four or five district attorneys in 30 years," he said, "and I've never seen a situation like this, where the district attorney is at such odds with law enforcement."

Dave Parris, a senior detective with the Eureka Police Department, agreed. "If the DA doesn't have confidence in law enforcement, and law enforcement doesn't have confidence in the DA, it's not going to work," he said. Gallegos doesn't work well with the people around him. "That's his biggest flaw."

Both Parris and Walker said they were confident that there would be a Dikeman-Gallegos contest in 2006. But Dikeman, ever circumspect, wouldn't say.

In the meantime, he's planning to do what he's always done. On Wednesday, he said, he'd be getting up at around 4:30 a.m. to prepare for his caseload, which includes three preliminary hearings.

"This is a great job," he said.



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