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July 24, 2003

Sam Swanlund, longtime photographer, is dead at 72

Cherney says he won't be a millionaire
But life should get easier for Earth First! Activist

Heck's Angels
Bikers at last weekend's Redwood Run festival
were surprisingly well behaved

Journalism flap
At a time when the integrity of journalists is under fire,
a controversy involving the Arcata Eye surfaces

Change of leadership at KHSU

Sam Swanlund, longtime photographer, is dead at 72


Sam Swanlund working on handcoloring a photo of the Carson MansionHumboldt County photographer and businessman Sam Swanlund died July 18 at his home on Pigeon Point Road, the apparent victim of a heart attack. He was 72.

Swanlund, who ran a photo shop in Eureka for years, was known for colorizing black-and-white historical photographs through detailed painting.

Born in Eureka in 1931, Swanlund lived in Humboldt County his entire life apart from a couple of years as a student at the University of California at Santa Barbara, and a stint with the U.S. Army as a cryptographer during the Korean War. He loved to travel, however, and Mexico was a favorite destination; he undertook a solo journey there in his late teens and returned frequently with his wife, the former Wanda Wilson.

In 1958 he took over Swanlund Camera, a photo finishing and photographic supply store founded by his father, Oscar Swanlund. He ran the business for 31 years, selling it in 1989.

Not willing to sit idle in retirement, Sam went back to work shooting photos and doing public relations for Louisiana Pacific Lumber Co. He taught photography classes at College of the Redwoods and through Eureka Adult Education and Humboldt State University Extended Education. He also kept busy doing work for the Seventh Day Adventist Church and offering "community comment" on KINS radio every other Wednesday.

Sam Swanlund looking out on view of bayHis other passion was work he saw as his "legacy to the community," oversized historic photographs showing Humboldt County early in the 20th century that he hand-colored in meticulous detail. (See NCJ cover story, "Working on his legacy," Sept. 12, 2002.)

Swanlund is survived by his wife, Wanda, of Eureka; and five children, Richard Swanlund, of Fortuna; Brenda Hayes, of Grants Pass, Ore.; Daron Wilson, of Lincoln City, Ore.; Sandi Curran, of Grants Pass, Ore.; and Scott Swanlund, stationed with the U.S. Air Force in Aviano, Italy; 11 grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

A memorial service is scheduled for noon on July 25, at the Seventh Day Adventist Church, 4251 F St., Eureka. The family requests that donations in Swanlund's name be made to the Humboldt Area Foundation, or to the Humboldt Bay Adventist Christian School. Both are located in Bayside.

Cherney says he won't be a millionaire
But life should get easier for Earth First activist


Cherney singing and playing guitarThere's money on the horizon -- about $1.5 million -- but until it arrives Darryl Cherney's life is not likely to change.

The 47-year-old Earth First activist known for his leadership during logging protests on the North Coast in the late 1980s and early 1990s says he still lives the life of a struggling environmentalist. He called his dwelling outside Garberville a "shack" and said he recently had to borrow money from his parents.

"I'm not going to be a millionaire and I'm certainly not one now," Cherney said after the Oakland City Council unanimously voted last week to pay $2 million to Cherney and the heirs of Judi Bari.

The settlement offer, which has yet to be approved by the court, comes almost a year after a jury determined that the city of Oakland and the FBI violated Cherney and Bari's civil rights when they accused them of illegally transporting an explosive device after a bomb went off in Bari's car in 1990.

The blast shattered the pelvis of Bari, who was driving with Cherney through Oakland at the time. Cherney was unhurt. Bari died of cancer in 1997.

The federal government has also tentatively agreed to pay $2 million, bringing the total proposed settlement to $4 million. That's $400,000 less than the jury award, which called for giving Bari's heirs $2.9 million and Cherney $1.5 million.

Cherney said he was skeptical that the federal government would actually pay up. "I'm not counting any FBI chickens before they hatch," Cherney said. "I've been dealing with them for 13 years now, so I'll believe it when the check clears."

Whatever final amounts are agreed on -- in addition to the fact that the court has yet to approve anything, the various sides are still negotiating -- half of the money reserved for Bari's estate will go to her two daughters. The other half will go to the Redwood Justice Fund, a legal fund to help activists.

Cherney, meantime, expects that much of his money will be used to pay debts. "Once [the money] comes in, a large portion of it will go toward my lawyers and income tax," Cherney said, who estimated that he'd probably end up with no more than $500,000.

Cherney, who has lived in Southern Humboldt for the past 17 years, said he plans to use the money to publish a book on the history of the campaign to save the Headwaters Forest, produce his four music albums, complete a film about the 1990 bombing, donate to a number of non-profits and possibly purchase property in Humboldt County.

In addition, Cherney says that the money will help his commitment to activist work. With the extra cash, the need for fund raising will be minimized, freeing up more time to devote to environmental activism.

"Let's put it this way," Cherney said. "I won't be retiring any time soon."

Heck's Angels
Bikers at last weekend's Redwood Run festival were surprisingly well behaved

story and photos by MATT CRAWFORD

The main drag in Garberville was packed with motorcycles last Friday, shiny machines manufactured by Harley-Davidson. It was about 6 p.m. but the air was still hot and filled with the endless drone of bikes cruising up and down, loaded with supplies for the weekend's main event.

It was day one of the Redwood Run and as I attempted to gather my own supplies for the two-day party on the Eel River, I tried hard to avoid any collisions with bikers weaving through the streets. I could visualize the headlines in Sunday's paper:

Journalist beaten by motorcyclist
after collision at biker rally

After all, bikers don't have the greatest reputation for constructive conflict resolution. The hellish motorcycle riot that erupted at a run in Laughlin, Nev., last year didn't ease my paranoia, nor did my recollection of Hunter S. Thompson's book, Hell's Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga. And of course there's the infamous 1969 Altamont concert, where Hell's Angels enforced security by beating people with the fat end of pool cues (and in the process killed a black man).

Crowd of bikers on Eel River, with outhouses in foregroundNo wonder that for decades, bikers (especially male Harley-Davidson riders) have been typecast as rowdy characters that live life with reckless abandon. Many of the riders have a fetish for leather, chains and bikes that bark at ear-splitting levels. They like tattoos, beer and they don't take no shit from no one. At least, that's what I'd heard.

Since the Redwood Run is strictly limited to bikers who drive Harley-Davidson bikes and other American-made motorcycles, it seemed like a good opportunity to get a glimpse of the people who ride these icons of our culture.

For 26 years, motorcycle enthusiasts from around the country have flocked to the Eel River to hang out at the Run. This year, a crowd of nearly 5,000 people listened to live music from Joan Jett and the Doobie Brothers, among others, and participated in "biker games" that have become a mainstay of the event. While there were no major races, there was a loudest bike contest, not to mention a hot-dog eating competition. A free steak dinner, a wet T-shirt contest (for the guys) and wet shorts contest (for the girls) provided extra bonuses for attendees.

On average, the crowd appeared a little rougher than your typical weekend music festival. However, after establishing a site at a campground near Piercy and meeting some of the revelers, my perspective began to change.

Biker and passenger participating in hotdog eating contestImmediately after I exited my vehicle I was greeted with offers of beer and other goodies from my neighbors. Somewhat surprised, I declined and opted for a drink out of my cooler.

Glad for some protection from the late afternoon sun, I grabbed a piece of shade under a canopy supplied by Wayne, an aging biker from Coos Bay, Ore., and his two female companions, Maureen and Sharon. Wayne was soft-spoken but with a hard-edge, probably from spending years on the road. He had a taste for red wine, cognac and big, expensive Harleys.

His gold and chrome Sportster cost $30,000 and he had four other show bikes back at home. When he talked you could tell he had a love for the machines, even if the automotive jargon that spewed out of his mouth was incomprehensible. And it was clear that Wayne both rode and camped in style. He was well stocked with alcohol, steaks and a full-size barbecue.

The larger scene was nothing like what I had expected. With the exception of the continuous roar of Harleys, the abundance of leather and denim clothing and the absence of reggae music, the campground had a vibe very similar to Reggae on the River, held just a few miles north of the Run every August.

Food and drink were shared openly and there were even a couple of folks sporting dreadlocks.

Perhaps I was in the wrong area. Maybe the chunky brown stuff that my neighbor claimed was "the best hash in Humboldt County" had sedated the bunch. Either way, if there was any action, it was going on somewhere else.

Down in The Pit, the center of the festival, the scene was a bit rowdier. Grizzled men in leather, heavily made-up biker babes and weekend warriors in shorts and sandals strolled around while the Gregg Rolie Band performed. Harleys with elaborate parts and paint jobs were everywhere.

At the edge of one of the few camping areas in The Pit, there was a large area with several tents, a couple of benches, a couch and a stereo system with a strobe light. Several of the bikers in the camp were members of the Daly City Hells Angels. If there was going to be any trouble, this could be the spot.

Fortunately, things remained relatively calm, and by the next day I was ready to find out what the Daly City club was all about.

Easy Rider replica motorcycleIt was early evening when I approached a large biker with a buzz cut. He was sporting a black, sleeveless jacket with a "Hells Angels" patch spanning his shoulder blades. Below it an Angels "Deathhead" (a skull with wings that is trademarked by the club) was sewed above the words "Daly City."

I introduced myself and asked the biker an admittedly dumb question: Was he with the Hells Angels?

He nodded.

"I'm writing an article about the Run, can I ask you a few questions?"

He shook his head with disapproval. I got the point and strolled down the road.

Ten minutes later, I was returning to the stage when I encountered another Angel, who appeared to be in his mid-20s. He was wearing an identical jacket and his response was the same.

"Naw, I got nothing to say," he replied.

Apparently the Daly City Angelss don't like the media or anyone else who gets too curious about the club's business. That's made clear in the club's website: "It's a private club and any private club doesn't discuss things such as number of members, who the members are, etc.," the website states.

Regardless of why the Hell's Angels I approached wouldn't talk, I wasn't willing to hang around their encampment to find out how they dealt with unwanted visitors. Nonetheless, after two days of not seeing a single fight or yelling match with the Angels or any other audience members, it appeared that everyone I encountered at the Run was there for the same reason -- to let loose and have a good time.

Perhaps a middle-aged biker who was waiting in line for the shuttle to The Pit said it best: "It's hard not to have fun at the Redwood Run."

The former special projects editor at The Lumberjack, Matt Crawford is a freelance writer and a part-time dishwasher. His work appears regularly in local newspapers.

Photos: top, Bikers parked along the Eel River. Middle, Bikers participate in the hot dog eating contest. Last, Easy Rider replica motorcycle.

Journalism flap
At a time when the integrity of journalists is under fire,
a controversy involving the Arcata Eye surfaces


It's a murky tale, but a few things are clear.

A $1,000 check arrived at the offices of the Arcata Eye made out to freelance reporter Hank Sims. Its purpose was to fund an investigation into a potential conflict of interest involving Humboldt County Supervisor Roger Rodoni. Sims, by all accounts, tore up the check; he knew that accepting third-party payment was a no-no as it smacked of buying journalism. He went ahead and did the piece, and then received a modest payment from the Eye.

End of story? Not quite.

Daniel Mintz, who until recently wrote for the Eye, was disturbed when he learned about the episode.

He felt that the article Sims wrote, which revealed that Rodoni pays his landlord, the Pacific Lumber Co., a mere $350 a month in rent for a three-bedroom home on a 9,000-acre ranch, was fair and accurate.

But he thought another investigative story was needed about how the check came to arrive at the Eye in the first place. Why? Because a prominent Rodoni critic, Arcata Mayor Bob Ornelas, acted as a middle-man between the check writer, a Eureka woman named Linda Wright, and the newspaper.

"I was bothered by Ornelas' undue editorial influence," Mintz said last week.

Mintz said he was also bothered by "a lack of editorial oversight" by Arcata Eye Editor Kevin Hoover. How did things get so far along that a check was actually made out to Sims and sent? Mintz wondered. When Hoover decided not to authorize the follow-up story Mintz was proposing -- since Sims had not taken the money he didn't see what the issue was -- Mintz quit in protest.

When word about all of this got out, Rodoni claimed that the Eye had done a "hit piece" on him, although he has yet to identify any inaccuracies in the story.

Neither Sims nor Hoover would identify Ornelas as the person who communicated the information that someone in the community was willing to pay $1,000 for a story on Rodoni. However, in an interview earlier this week, Ornelas himself said he had played that role.

He said Wright contacted him after Ornelas had publicly questioned the legality of Rodoni voting against District Attorney Paul Gallegos' request in March for outside legal assistance in his fraud lawsuit against the Pacific Lumber Co.

"She had been very offended" by Rodoni's conduct at a previous public meeting, Ornelas said, and "wanted to know how she could help out." How that desire got translated into an offer of money is not clear.

What is known is that Ornelas, who had unsuccessfully tried to persuade the Arcata City Council to pass a resolution condemning Rodoni, eventually approached Hoover and let it be known that funds were available.

Far from feeling he did anything wrong, Ornelas said that he was merely responding to the large number of his constituents who had complained to him about Rodoni. "I was just doing my job as a public servant," Ornelas said.

But, given the controversy that has erupted, Ornelas said that if he had to do it over again he would simply have urged Hoover to do a story and not mentioned anything about money.

As for Hoover, it is not clear whether he was initially amenable to Ornelas' overture, but he evidently didn't tell the mayor no. "I wasn't aware of all the wrinkles as I am now with regard to this sort of thing," Hoover said last week. "Most ethical things are simple. This one was quite complex."

There's some truth to that. While it's a somewhat controversial practice, third parties do at times fund investigative journalism. Maclyn McClary, a journalism professor at Humboldt State who teaches a news media ethics course, pointed to the Pew Charitable Trusts, a foundation that has shelled out a lot of money to encourage better community reporting by the media. "Some people object to that because they say newspapers ought to pay for investigative reporting," McClary said, "but some [of the stories Pew has funded] have shed some light on some important stories."

McClary said he didn't know enough of the details of this particular situation to make a judgment about whether anyone was guilty of any wrongdoing. But he said there was a need to "connect the dots."

"Who knew about [the offer of $1,000] and when did they know about it? And did it in any way effect the reporting?" McClary asked.

Change of leadership at KHSU


Terry Green, station manager of Humboldt State University's radio station, KHSU-FM, announced this week that he is leaving the position at the end of August to become the general manager at KUSP, a National Public Radio affiliate in Santa Cruz.

That development comes hard on the heels of HSU President Rollin Richmond's appointment earlier this month of Elizabeth Hans McCrone as the interim general manager for KHSU. Hans McCrone had previously been the university's director of community relations.

According to Hans McCrone, there are no plans to replace Green. "What it does is, it leaves open Terry's salary for a number of possibilities," she said. Hans McCrone declined to quantify Green's salary. She said she would be paid $77,500 a year in her new job.

McCrone said it is likely that she will absorb most of Green's responsibilities. "It will make my learning curve a bit steeper," she said. She emphasized that Green applied for the job at KUSP several months ago, before she was appointed to her position.

Green has been with KHSU for nine years. Initially hired as chief engineer, he became assistant station manager in 1996, and was appointed station manager by HSU's former director of development, John Sterns, in 1999. Green's tenure included a tumultuous period where the station suffered the after-effects of management by Sterns, who diverted KHSU funds and was convicted of embezzlement, falsifying records and forgery.

Green had to mend fences after Sterns prepared fraudulent financial statements for KHSU, signing the name John King, a non-existent San Francisco accountant to papers filed with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

"KHSU's ability to carry out [its] mission of serving the community is severely hobbled by our funding problems and the administrative wreckage around us," wrote Green in a letter to the court when Sterns was facing sentencing. The station had to lay off three of its seven full-time employees in the wake of the scandal.



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