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August 11, 2005

The Weekly Wrap

Communist blasts developer
Early heat in the race for NoHum school board

Thief pries innocence from county fair


The Weekly Wrap

S AND M VICTORY: Conservation groups fighting for recovery of the "look before you log" rules in the Northwest Forest Plan -- rules the Bush administration threw out last year -- won a procedural victory last week in federal court. On Aug. 1, U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman, in Seattle, ruled that the Departments of Agriculture and the Interior violated NEPA when they eliminated the "Survey and Manage" standards from the National Forest Plan. The standards require federal land agencies, before they can log old-growth trees in late-successional reserves, to survey for "rare and uncommon" species -- in particular ones "that are not good at dispersing, and that depend on mature forests," said Scott Greacen of the Environmental Protection Information Center. "And when they find them, they have to buffer them." The rules were considered added protection for several hundred species in late-successional old growth reserves which already were degraded by previous logging, said Greacen. The Bush administration, when it tossed the rules, directed agencies to rely on state information instead when deciding where to log. Judge Pechman wrote: "Defendants failed to provide a thorough analysis of their assumption that the late-successional reserves would adequately protect species that the Survey and Manage standard was introduced to protect, particularly in light of their previous positions in earlier environmental impact statements." Later, she added: " the Agencies have an obligation under NEPA to disclose and explain on what basis they deemed the standard necessary before but assume it is not now." Greacen said under the survey and manage rules, new species have been discovered, including the Scott Bar Salamander (Plethodon asupak), recently identified in the Siskiyou Mountains. He said the judge's ruling isn't an injunction, and another decision is pending which could decide whether the agencies must do a new environmental impact statement. Until then, EPIC and other groups hope the current ruling will stall timber sales where survey and manage rules would have applied.

FORTUNA COUNCIL APPOINTMENT: Following last week's death of Fortuna Mayor Tom Cooke, the Fortuna City Council has decided to appoint a new member to the vacated seat rather than hold a special election. Applications are available at the City Hall and are due Friday Aug. 12, by 4 p.m. The council is scheduled to interview candidates on Wed., Aug. 16, at 6 p.m. The open seat must be filled by Aug. 30, 30 days after it was vacated. In April of 2006 a general election will be held for three council positions currently filled by Dean Glaser, Debi August and Odell Shelton.

GIAUQUE BROTHER PUSHES FOR RESOLUTION: It's now been two years since Chris Giauque, a medical marijuana activist from southern Humboldt, disappeared after a late-night trip to the Spy Rock Road area in northern Mendocino County. Giauque's Toyota pick-up was found on the Avenue of the Giants shortly after he went missing. No trace of Giauque himself was ever found. To mark the anniversary, Giauque's brother Clint, a resident of Arcata, has launched a public campaign in the belief that it will help break open the case. According to Clint Giauque, his brother was involved in a large-scale "illegal marijuana business"; he believes that people involved in his brother's disappearance were involved in his murder. Clint Giauque said Monday that he has mailed a letter with these and other allegations to 2,000 residents of the southern Humboldt area, as well as to law enforcement officials and local attorneys. On Monday, Humboldt County Sheriff's Office Spokesperson Brenda Gainey said that her department was still working the case. "It's an open investigation," she said. "We're working closely with the Mendocino County sheriff's department. Unfortunately, whatever witnesses there may be in the community may be hesitant to contact law enforcement."

SAVE YOUR ENERGY: First, stop driving so much. Second, get yourself some southern exposure. Third -- well, there are lots of good ideas in the Redwood Coast Energy Authority's draft "energy element," released last Friday as part of the county's general plan update. Maureen Hart, the authority's program manager, said the energy document looks at the county's and residents' long-term approach to energy use. "It looks at any way that energy is used in the county," she said. "It looks at transportation, at land-use planning, at how houses are built, at renewable energy, and at energy efficiency." For example, she said the document recommends that all new houses be designed with southern exposures and with solar panels in mind, whether they're installed right away or later. It's called "no regrets" building, she said. The document also recommends that communities grow with walkability in mind, where houses are built near shopping and schools in order to eliminate long commutes and excess driving. "We want people to start addressing energy in every aspect of their lives," Hart said. "We want to be proactive and make good public policy, especially in light of ever-increasing energy costs." To see the draft plan, go to Public comments on the plan will be accepted for 45 days from Aug. 5. A public comment meeting will be held from 6-8:30 p.m. Sept. 8 at the Redwood Coast Energy Resource Center, 517 5th St., Eureka.

FEDERAL TRANSPO MONEY: Two North Coast projects near and dear to many a heart on the North Coast got a bit of a boost in the federal transportation bill passed by Congress late last month. Under the bill, $5.6 million in federal funds will be allocated for improvements to the Buckhorn Grade section of Highway 299, a twisty stretch of road between Weaverville and Redding, improvements to which has been at the top of many local officials' to-do lists for some time. More money will still have to be found -- the total cost of fixing the Buckhorn stretch is estimated to be some 20 times the amount appropriated by Congress.

The indefatigable boosters of the North Coast Railroad Authority had their own reasons to cheer. The transportation bill forgave a $12 million federal loan that was used for a public buyout of the railroad right-of-way nine years ago, as well as a cool $8.6 in million new grants.

CORRECTION: The Journal's July 14 cover story, "The Good Ground," Mischaracterized the Cutten-based North Coast Learning Academy. It is, in fact, non-sectarian. The Journal regrets the error. [The online version has been corrected.]


Thief pries innocence from county fair


[dolls in car]When "Suzie" -- an "original Raikes" doll, carved by Robert Raikes of Mt. Shasta, with a silly smile on her face -- and her fellow wooden companions arrived at Belotti Hall at the county fairgrounds in Ferndale last Friday morning, it looked as if they were about to embark on a big adventure. There they were, Felix the Cat, Pinocchio, a German nutcracker soldier with a broken sword, and Suzie, side by side in a box in the backseat of Nancy Akana's car, looking expectant. Akana was adding them to a friend's wooden dolls and toys exhibit at the fair -- the adventure was supposed to be the fair and all the people eyeballing them. Who knew that, by Saturday morning, one of them would be missing?

Yes, a day that had begun so well took a bad turn sometime in the late hours of Friday night or perhaps early Saturday morning, when somebody broke into Belotti Hall at the county fairgrounds in Ferndale and plundered the Home Arts and Collections exhibits. Suzie and another doll were stolen, along with some ornaments, a toll-painted little writing desk, a food basket with teas, a burl pen, a knitted hat, bookmark and scarf, and a deer horn pen and pencil set. Two of the fair workers' substantial personal stashes of CDs were also stolen, and one exhibitor's photographs were cut down from a booth but not taken. None of the alcohol exhibits were pilfered.

The theft was the first of its sort in the 109-year history of the Humboldt County Fair, according to Sally Dolfini, superintendent of the Home Arts exhibits. "It's very weird," said Dolfini, whose nearly 100 personal CDs were stolen. Her assistant lost more than 100 CDs.

[Below left: "Suzie"]

[photo of wooden doll]Friday was the first "intake" day, and many exhibitors had spent the day bringing in their colorful jams, jellies and handcrafted items, and arranging their collections in display cases.

Dolfini said everyone had left the hall by about 7 p.m. Friday. She returned at about 10:30 p.m. to retrieve her "Topsy and Eva" doll that she had brought in earlier for a doll exhibitor to appraise. It wasn't an entry, though. "I thought, I'd better go get it," she said. So she did, and "everything seemed fine" in the hall. But Saturday morning, the thefts were discovered and it looked as if "someone had somehow popped a side door, with a crowbar or something," Dolfini said.

The fair's night security guard wasn't scheduled to start until Saturday night. But from now on a guard will be posted from the first day of intake on and, before closing each night, two people will "check every nook and cranny before locking up," said Exhibit Superintendent Susan Combes. "We've never had a break-in," she said. "We're all just stunned. It's unthinkable here in Ferndale."

The Ferndale Police Department is investigating the thefts. Police Chief Lonnie Lawson said Tuesday the collective worth of the items stolen is about $7,000. He asked that anyone with information on these items call the police department at 786-4025.

Some of the items stolen over the weekend contain value that goes beyond a simple price tag. One of the dolls, whose owner didn't want to be identified, was a personal gift in memory of a close friend who died. Others were one-of-a-kind handcrafted pieces. But, said Akana, she and other exhibitors "decided to leave everything else" at the exhibit hall. After all, the night guard's on duty now. And the fair must go on.

On Friday morning, before the theft, expectant happiness reigned at the fairgrounds. There was Akana, unloading her dolls from the back seat. And there, too, was Lucianne Miller, scoping out the room where the Humboldt Handweavers and Spinners Guild members will demonstrate their skills during the fair. There was Roy Forcier and his daughter Rebecca, arranging wife and mom Elizabeth's collection of antique porcelain "head vases" in a glass case. The collection, said Roy, is his "fault." "I was in an antique store one day and saw that one" -- he points to a vase head with red hair and a black hat. "I think she looks like Lucille Ball, so I bought it for [Elizabeth]." And the vases multiplied.

[Photo of kid with tractor collection]Also unpacking a carful of things to show off were Shelly Frias and her dad, Darrell Pifer. Frias said they were entering "everything," including doll hats made by her mom, Dale, who happened to be inside putting labels on pretty pink, green and ruby red jars of jellies people had brought in to be judged. "It's exciting," said Frias, grinning. "Your things get put in, and another person's get put in, and you get ideas. You don't have to be intimidated by it all."

Farther back in the hall, 16-year-old Ronald Vevoda [photo at right] and his mom, Kris, carefully lined up in a case his 150-plus miniature tractors and assorted implements. Ronald, who also entered six dairy cows in the fair, has been collecting tractors since he was 8 -- most are replicas of real tractors, modern or old. "He can also drive all the tractors," said Ronald's mom, "and he knows who owns what tractor in the neighborhood, and who's borrowed someone's tractor." Ronald, who's been working on the Vevoda family's dairy farm in Ferndale since he was little, wants to take on the farming side of the operation when he's older. "The farming, it's the thing that's always interested me," Ronald said as he laid a row of tiny Johnny Poppers in the case next to a line of Waterloo Boys. "It's about getting something done -- a sense of accomplishment. You know you're going to help somebody else, that you're going to feed something." His mom added, "It's just a really good clean life."

Which, thievery aside, is really what the county fair is about -- the good life of farming, putting up preserves, clothing and feeding folks -- especially this year with its dairy theme, somewhat cornily dubbed Udder Madness. Oh, and don't forget the horse races.

The fair opens Thursday and runs through Aug. 21. Check out the schedule at

Communist blasts developer
Early heat in the race for NoHum school board


[Shane Brinton singing and playing guitar]The deadline to declare one's candidacy in the upcoming Nov. 8 election for local school boards isn't until this Friday, but the vitriol is already beginning to flow in one local race.

On Aug. 2, one of the candidates running for the board of the Northern Humboldt Union High School District -- 18-year-old Shane Brinton, a self-proclaimed communist -- blasted candidate Dan Johnson, CEO of Danco Builders, in a fundraising e-mail to Michael Moore, director of the controversial film Fahrenheit 9/11.

[Photo at right: Shane Brinton plays with his band "Comrade" at a "Bands Against Bush" benefit concert this year.]

"As you well know, Bushites, religious nutcases and corporate scoundrels have been working hard to take over local school boards across the country," Brinton wrote Moore. "The same thing is happening here in Humboldt County. In fact, one of the right-wingers that's running is the biggest and most hated developer in the county. And he builds crappy buildings!"

Brinton told Moore that he would not normally be "begging" the film director for money, but that he had only a short time to raise funds as the political action committee he is associated with -- Local Solutions -- only recently gave formal approval of his candidacy.

"Up until this point, there were concerns that I may not be a viable candidate because I am `too young' and an open Marxist," he wrote. "However, it got down to the wire and they've decided to give me the thumbs-up."

Informed of his opponent's name-calling Tuesday, Johnson was unruffled.

"He's got his point of view," he said. "I really wouldn't have much to say -- good luck, I guess."

Johnson said that incumbent and fellow developer Mark Rynearson's decision not to seek reelection to the board prompted him to enter the race. He said he believed that his business experience would be of use to the district.

"It's one of the most acclaimed school districts in the state, and I'd like to keep that going," Johnson said.

Brinton could not be reached for comment, as he is currently in Caracas, Venezuela, attending the 16th Annual World Festival of Youth and Students. However, his mother, Susan Brinton, said Tuesday that Moore had not yet responded to the e-mail and it appeared that no donations were forthcoming from that quarter.

Susan Brinton said that her son has always been very well read, and took a great interest in politics. He has contributed to People's Weekly World, a communist newspaper, and until recently played in a local band, Comrade. He is a member of the Young Communist League, the youth arm of the Communist Party USA.

Nevertheless, the candidate's mother said, her son is a registered Democrat, and the more radical elements of his political philosophy are not that surprising to many, in this day and age.

"He and I had a discussion about it," she said. "It seems like others his age don't have the same knee-jerk reaction that we older people have."

In his letter to Moore, Brinton listed sex education, military recruiting on campus and "administrators' lack of interest in the needs of teachers" as the issues he is most concerned about.

In addition to Brinton and Johnson, four other residents had signed up to run for the three open seats: Incumbent Sarie Toste of McKinleyville, Timothy Lorenzo of Arcata, Don Avant of McKinleyville and Rebecca Bair Kurwitz of McKinleyville. Rynearson and Gary Hendrickson of Arcata will not seek reelection.

The Northern Humboldt Union High School District includes several local schools in the north part of the county, including Arcata High, McKinleyville High, Tsurai High and Six Rivers Charter School.



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