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March 17, 2005

The Weekly Wrap

Cockburn calls for optimism
despite war, political floundering

Trouble at Muddy Waters
Northtown coffeehouse shifts gears
in response to noise complaints


The Weekly Wrap

YOU-REEK-A: It's a blast from the past, a glorious opportunity for old-timers to show youngsters and newcomers how things were in the good old days. Yes, Eureka stinks again. Lawrence Odle, director of the North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District, said Tuesday that his office received a large number complaints last week, after Evergreen Pulp began operations at the old Stockton Pacific pulp mill in Samoa, which Evergreen's parent company -- the Hong Kong-based Lee & Man -- acquired in late January. And if the company gets its way, there could be more stench on the way. Evergreen has asked the district to relax its regulations on the mill until the end of December. According to Odle, the company would like to be able to pump an additional 18 tons of particulate matter, above and beyond what is currently permitted, into the air around Humboldt Bay between now and then. The Air Quality District's hearing board will hold a public meeting on the issue at 10 a.m. Wednesday, March 23, in the Eureka City Council Chambers, 5th and K streets.

WHEETLEY WINS IN ARCATA: Mark Wheetley, 46, a planner with the state Department of Fish and Game, is the newest member of the Arcata City Council, having won in a landslide with 49.9 percent of the vote among six candidates. His closest challenger, energy research engineer Michael Winkler, garnered 30 percent of the vote in the special election, which was held to replace Councilmember Elizabeth Conner, who resigned mid-way through her term. Wheetley will take his seat as soon as the election is certified by the county, no more than 30 days since the March 8 contest. Wheetley said that he has stacked his campaign signs in his garage, awaiting his re-election drive -- just 18 months away.

MULTIPLE ASSISTANCE CENTER TO OPEN: The county's new homeless shelter and services facility, the Multiple Assistance Center, opens its doors with a two-day celebration this weekend. On Friday, a who's-who collection of notables from local, state and federal government will descend on the MAC's recently completed building at 139 Y St., Eureka, for a tour and ribbon-cutting. On Saturday, the public is invited to tour the facilities between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. After months of construction delays, Simone Taylor of the Redwood Community Action Agency was ecstatic Monday: "It's finally happening!" Taylor said that the MAC would begin accepting its first occupants in the next few weeks. The center is a joint project of RCAA, the county of Humboldt and the city of Eureka.

ARCATA ENDEAVOR INSPECTED: A team composed of employees of the city of Arcata and the county health department conducted two spot inspections at the Arcata Endeavor -- the city's homeless services center -- in the last month. With tensions over the city's homeless population running high, some Endeavor employees feel that the organization is being targeted. The Endeavor's lease of a city building near the Arcata Plaza comes up for renewal in June, and at least one employee fears that someone in the city seeks to give the organization a bad name in advance of the new lease. City Manager Dan Hauser said Tuesday that yearly inspections of the facility were part of the city's contract with the Endeavor, and that county health came along this time because it had received some complaints about food safety in the kitchen. The health department did record several violations, he said. But Hauser said that a second, follow-up inspection showed that all the health violations noted on the first visit had been remedied.

TEEN ANGER SPURS CRASH: A Eureka woman suffered moderate injuries, including a possible broken arm, after her 16-year-old daughter attempted to interfere with the family's car Monday afternoon, the California Highway Patrol said. Kjersti Mary Peters, 35, was driving a 1983 Cadillac Cimarron northbound at 65 mph on Highway 101 south of Big Lagoon Park toward central Oregon shortly before 5 p.m., the CHP said. Her daughter, who did not want to go to Oregon, reached over from the front passenger's seat, turned off the ignition, and pulled the emergency brake -- putting the car into a rear-wheel locked skid, the CHP said. Peters then overreacted, and, in cop-language, "added steering input," causing her to lose control of the car, which then overturned and hit a stand of trees, officials said. Peters was taken to a hospital for treatment, and arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. Her son Lucas peters, 12, was treated for minor injuries. Police were considering filing charges against the 16-year-old girl, whom they did not identify, on suspicion of interfering with a driver.

ANGELIDES ANNOUNCES CANDIDACY: State Treasurer Phil Angelides announced his candidacy for governor of California this week, and included in his 19-city tour was an appearance in Humboldt County at 8 a.m. Thursday, March 17, at the Eureka Women's Club, 1531 J St. The 51-year-old native of Sacramento, who has snagged the endorsements of U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), believes that "people can both do well and do right at the same time," meaning business success and social responsibility can and should co-exist, said Angelides' spokesman, Dan Newman. Angelides vowed to lead California on the "high road to prosperity -- where we have the most livable cities, the cleanest environment and the best-educated workers -- so we can compete for and win the high-wage jobs of the future," and criticized Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for his "massive deficit borrowing" and cuts to education. Before being elected state treasurer in 1998, Angelides worked elsewhere in state government and formed his own business, which planned and built the "environmentally sustainable" community of Laguna West near Sacramento, according to his Web site.

LUNSFORD GUILTY: On Friday, Douglas Lunsford was convicted of the 2002 murder of his former son-in-law Nathan Dannemiller in Eureka, the District Attorney's Office said. The decision came after two days of jury deliberations following a six-week trial. Lunsford was convicted of first degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. His wife, Marcella Lunsford, and her son Charles Lunsford, also stand accused of conspiring to kill Dannemiller, who was the husband of Chastity Dannemiller, Marcella's daughter. Douglas Lunsford is scheduled to be sentenced on April 7, one week before Marcella Lunsford's April 14 trial confirmation hearing. Last year, Charles Lunsford was found incompetent to stand trial. District Attorney Paul Gallegos prosecuted the case and will handle Marcella Lunsford's trial as well.

MARCH TO LAUNCH AMBASSADOR: The organizers of the Peace March, scheduled for Saturday, March 19, in Eureka, have announced that they will send an "ambassador" to Washington, D.C., to meet with officials and discuss peace and the ongoing war in Iraq. Different people will rotate through the position for two weeks at a time, said Communities of Peace member Ellen Taylor, and the first person will be symbolically "launched" from the waterfront on the day of the march. See "Calendar" for march details.

ATTACK DOG OWNER SNIFFED OUT: The owner of a dog that severely bit a 2-year-old girl last week was arrested by Eureka Police days after the owner left the scene of the mauling. Melanie Dawn Engebretson, 25, of Bayside was helping a landlord clean the residence where the attack took place in the 3200 block of Albee Street, in Eureka, according to the Eureka Police Department. The child was walking down the back porch steps when she lost her footing and grabbed a hold of the chow and wolf-hybrid mix that was not chained up, EPD Animal Control Officer Maia Levin said. The dog then severely bit the toddler in the face and around the lips. Engebretson, who was known only by her first name at the time, told the child's family that she would get the dog's rabies paperwork and come back later. She never returned. Over the weekend police received a tip that led them to Engebretson's mother's Bayside home. She was arrested there on Monday on an unrelated warrant for a probation violation regarding drunk driving charges, according to police. Detective Curt Honeycutt said that Engebretson who lied about her name when police arrived said that she fled the scene because she was scared her dog would be euthanized. The dog is currently being held at the Humboldt County Animal Shelter in McKinleyville. A hearing will be held to decide whether or not the dog should be killed. Engebretson was taken to the Humboldt County Jail, police said. The child was hospitalized and has undergone surgery, and must have more reconstructive treatment for her wounds, according to police.

THOSE ADORABLE SEAL PUPS: March is the start of pupping season for the county's harbor seals, which means that it's not too uncommon these days for beachgoers to come across an adorable, big-eyed seal puppy looking lost, lonely and abandoned on the shore. What to do? "Don't pick it up, don't carry it around, don't pour water on it, don't put it into the water," says Tristen Joy, the North Coast Marine Mammal Center's Humboldt County rescue coordinator. The pups' incomparable cuteness often inspires unwise actions such as these, Joy says; in fact, it is almost certain that the mommy seal is simply out fishing and will return to her precious forthwith. Joy recommends that people instead take a quick, loving gander and then give the pup some space. State law requires people to stay 50 feet away from the little fellows. The same goes for molting adult elephant seals, which are also beginning to appear on local beaches about now. And any time you see a seal or any other marine mammal on a Humboldt County beach, please let Joy know. Her number is 839-1664.

STILL WORKING ON THE RAILROAD: There's been a rash of good news for the North Coast Railroad Authority, the little state agency that thinks it can. Rep. Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena) announced last week that the House of Representatives has reintroduced the Transportation Equity Act, a bill that includes forgiveness of $12 million in NCRA debt to the federal government and throws in another $8.6 million in grants for good measure. The Senate scotched the bill last year, but in a press release Thompson promised to keep up the fight. Not wishing to be outdone, state Sen. Wes Chesbro (D-Arcata) introduced a bill that would free up some $5.5 million held in trust for the authority so that it may fund environmental studies. It's been 15 years since the state Legislature bought the old, decrepit Humboldt County-Bay Area Northwestern Pacific line and created the NCRA to run it, and around eight years since any trains have made it to Humboldt County.

EUREKA REPORTER RAMPS UP PRODUCTION: The Eureka newspaper war is one step closer to going thermonuclear this week, as the Eureka Reporter moves to a thrice-weekly publishing schedule. "It's very exciting," said Publisher Judi Pollace, late of the Times-Standard's sister paper in Clear Lake, of her new paper's ongoing transition to a daily paper. The Reporter will publish on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Local developer and business magnate Rob Arkley, who has long expressed dissatisfaction with the Times-Standard's coverage, founded the Reporter a year and half ago, and his company, Security National, continues to own it. Monday found Times-Standard Editor Charles Winkler in a generous mood, vis à vis the competition. "Good luck, and the more the merrier," he said.

POTAWOT VILLAGE HONORED: Congratulations to United Indian Health Services, which was named as a winner of the American Psychiatric Foundation's second annual Awards for Advancing Minority Mental Health last week. Steve Rubloff, the APF's executive director, said Tuesday that competition for the award was very tough this year, but UIHS stood out. "Their work is exemplary," he said. "We feel honored and privileged to recognize an organization that is doing very innovative work, especially with young people." Tene Kremling, a supervisor in UIHS' Potawot Heath Village Child and Family Services department, said that the award recognized innovative youth peer programs, some of which deal with mental health and substance abuse issues. UIHS will receive a $5,000 check from the foundation at a ceremony in May.

Cockburn calls for optimism despite war, political floundering


IN JUST TWO HOURS FRIDAY, ALEXANDER COCKBURN, progressive political columnist and all around rabble-rouser, described Democrats as the enemy of social change and Greens as a joke.

An older crowd of more than 50 people filled the Westhaven Center for the Arts nearly to capacity on March 11 to hear Cockburn's lecture, "The Shape of Things to Come." The lecture, part of the center's series, "West Coast Authors Explore Current Affairs," addressed the downfalls of the left, the anti-war movement, the homogeny of the press and why politics has become the practice of ignoring the big issues.

Above all, the self-proclaimed optimist emphasized a positive political outlook.

"Pessimism is all very well, but you can't run just on pessimism," Cockburn said. "However, it has to be said that the horizon doesn't look too good."

Cockburn has been called one of the foremost reporters and commentators of the left, a warrior freethinker and the most gifted polemicist now writing in English. He co-founded the nationally recognized muckraking newsletter, CounterPunch, writes a bi-weekly column for The Nation magazine and has authored an armful of books.

He pointed to a lack of sound political leadership as a frustration and a barrier for progressive voters. "Political leadership is as bad and as feeble as in the 32 years I've been in this country," said the native of Ireland. "And now is when we need it -- someone pointing the way."

Taking an occasional sip of red wine, Cockburn stressed that the Democratic Party mishandled the presidential election, leading to an overall weakening of the left. "How did the Democrats blow it?" he asked the audience. "How did they manage it?" He said John Kerry's indecisive stance on the Iraq war was a key factor in losing progressive voters, and criticized the party for its steady drift to the right, saying the party is now almost wholly controlled by Washington strategists.

Cockburn, 63, was born and raised in Ireland and graduated with honors from Oxford University in 1963. He has lived in Petrolia for nearly 15 years and occasionally writes about issues of social justice and the environment affecting Mendocino, Humboldt and surrounding counties. Cockburn and co-editor Jeffrey St. Clair launched CounterPunch about 10 years ago. Its Web site,, now receives 250,000 page views a day. The newsletter is also available in print.

Emphasizing the unpopularity of the war and of President Bush, Cockburn dismissed the idea that a majority of Americans just aren't interested in progressive, systematic change. "I think in many ways the country is profoundly radical," he said. "It's not that people don't want radical ideas, it's not that people aren't receptive to radical ideas." Cockburn pointed again to a lack of effective political representation and organizing in the left.

If Cockburn is pessimistic about one thing, it is the Green Party. "I'm fairly gloomy about the long-term perspectives of Greens," he said. "The Green Party is just a joke at the moment. There's no national presence at all," he added in a later phone conversation. "I think they're pretty impossible."

Still, Cockburn advocated building bridges among progressives, despite setbacks and differences of opinion. For instance, he said, Greens should recognize that they have much in common with Libertarians on social issues. "The left is much too wary of coalition building," he said.

Cockburn said stronger leftist coalitions could build a larger, cohesive anti-war movement. "The anti-war movement seems to have died on the vine," he said, adding that he does not foresee U.S. troops leaving Iraq anytime soon. "They're holding on by their fingernails," he said. "But the fact of the matter is they're not going to [leave]. The war will drag on, and it will be here when we come around to the next electoral contest."

Cockburn said current politicians neglect the issues that most Americans are concerned about, "Most of our politics are agreements, essentially, of what not to talk about," he said. "We can't talk about the drug war, we can't talk about NAFTA or the role of the Federal Reserve. We can't talk about the imbalance between rich and poor countries or military spending," he added.

He also called for responsibility in the mainstream press, saying it has become so uniform in disseminating Bush's dominant line that Americans cannot count on media to keep the government in check. "Newspapers, by and large, have stopped covering their beats," Cockburn said. "The mainstream press, overall, is in very bad shape."

In closing, Cockburn again encouraged political optimism. "Things can change and things can be done," he said. "People, in essence, have creative ideas and you have to hope that something good will come of that."

Cockburn travels extensively and speaks locally once or twice a year. The Westhaven Center for the Arts lecture series will continue April 22 with Derrick Jensen, Crescent City resident and author of The Culture of Make Believe.

Cat Sieh is a journalism student at Humboldt State University.

Trouble at Muddy Waters
Northtown coffeehouse shifts gears in response to noise complaints


The subject line on the e-mail shouted in capital letters, "MUDDY MUSIC SHUT DOWN!!" The coffeehouse's music booker, Brian Loose, wrote to explain that "all music has been put on hold" until an agreement could be reached with the Arcata Police Department regarding sound levels.

That agreement was reached Monday, but the story began several weeks ago.

Loose's announcement came after the Northtown establishment received a letter from the police denying a request for a dance permit for March, which followed on the heels of a written warning from the state Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) officer threatening a loss of the establishment's liquor license if they were not in compliance with city laws. The heart of the trouble: a series of noise complaints.

"The neighbors living in the surrounding area -- not all of them, but some of them -- have problems with the noise level, so I guess we'll have to change our [music] format or come up with some sort of plan to make them happy," said Loose, contacted at Muddy Waters Friday.

"It's a residential neighborhood," said Arcata Police Chief Randy Mendosa, who met on Friday and again on Monday with Muddy Waters' general manager Chris Nichols to discuss the issue. "The ABC license requires that any music there not extend beyond the premises. Any music they have there cannot be booming out into the street." According to Mendosa three or four neighbors have called "on quite a few occasions. It had become a problem, and we did not renew the dance permit."

"We can't afford to lose our ABC license," said Nichols, pointing out that the complaints are usually in connection with electric rock `n' roll shows and "DJ music with lots of bass," which "brings the police for sure."

Said one of the complaining neighbors, a teenager's mother who asked to remain anonymous, "I don't know what bands are there or who's playing music. All I know is my walls are thumping and bumping, and it goes on three nights a week `til midnight. They're interfering with my sleep and my daughter's sleep; the [other] neighbors feel the same way.

"I've called them [directly] numerous times asking them to turn it down. I get different responses like, 'Oh, we'll work on it,' then nothing happens, or `It's our last song,' and it goes on for another half hour. Or I get, `We don't have any control over it, it's the DJs,' or `We have a dance permit, so it's OK.'"

Arcata's municipal code requires that anyone providing music for dancing apply for a permit. "The way we use it is to give us an opportunity to meet with organizations and venues to try to work out events that don't cause problems like what we're talking about now," said Mendosa.

Mendosa noted that the police had been called to Muddy Waters repeatedly in recent weeks, including three times on March 5, when a group of DJs called Deep Groove Society was spinning a form of electronica known as "house music." The police were called again on March 8, when Moontribe played.

Joe Schoenfield from the Moontribe Collective, a group of DJs that originated in Los Angeles, has been playing music at Muddy Waters for what was known as "$2 Tuesdays" ($2 for admission; $2 for a pint of beer) since December, spinning what he calls "deep electronica."

"It's everything from breakbeat to tech house, house music, techno, downtempo, a full variety of deep cutting-edges styles," he explained.

"I supply the sound system people have been complaining about," he conceded. "I have a very large concert sound system; I only bring a small part of it on Tuesdays. It's presenting electronic music the only way it should be, on a full-range sound system. That's why people enjoy it; that's what we were pulling in so many people. We have an amazing following."

For the neighbor, calling the police was the only recourse. "I called over there many times when the music was loud and nobody would answer the phone. When I spoke with Chris, the manager, one of his comments was, `Maybe they can't hear the phone.' Well, duh."

After Loose and Nichols met with Mendosa on Monday to present a new music plan, Muddy Waters was once again awarded a dance permit.

The compromise agreement allows for acoustic music three nights a week. "We'll have jazz on Thursday nights and acoustic music Fridays and Saturdays," said Loose. "No more rock 'n' roll, no more DJs -- pretty much just acoustic-based folky kind of stuff, bluegrass and jazz. We're hoping there will be interest in this type of music. We're stoked that we will be able to have music. The worst case scenario was having nothing at all."

The coffeehouse management also promised to end the music every night by 11:30, and to provide more supervision so that patrons will not create problems outside. "We're in a neighborhood and we have to respect the neighbors," said Loose. "We have to find a balance."

Pete Ciotti, drummer for the rock band Nucleus, said that the police have never been called when he was playing music at Muddy Waters.

Ciotti was scheduled to perform at Muddy Waters with an electric trio this weekend. The show has been canceled and as of press time there is no replacement. On Monday, after hearing of the revised plans for music at the coffeehouse, basically excluding electric bands like Nucleus along with all DJ music, Ciotti began making plans for a musical protest march to be held this Friday, March 18, departing from Muddy Waters at noon and heading for city hall. "We're gonna make some noise," he said.



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