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August 12, 2004

The Weekly Wrap

Activists stage downtown protest

Democracy thrives, suffers in city elections

Palco's Manne rallies Humboldt GOP


 T H E  W E E K L Y  W R A P

NADER MISSES BALLOT, GOES AFTER COBB: California supporters of Ralph Nader missed Friday's deadline to put the independent presidential candidate's name on the state's November ballot. But they are not going quietly into the night -- instead, they are shooting for an emergency convention of the state Green Party, where they'll ask the party to list Nader in place of Eureka resident and Green Party national candidate David Cobb. "It's a hard thing, and it's an unfortunate situation all the way around," said Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, Cobb's housemate and fellow Democracy Unlimited activist. "I can't really separate out the fact that I'm David's partner, but as a Green this just doesn't smell right." The state Green Party has until Aug. 26 to change their endorsement. Nader campaign organizers needed 153,000 signatures to put their man on the November ballot; they turned in only around 83,000. In Humboldt County -- a traditional Nader stronghold -- only 640 voters signed petitions for the candidate. In contrast, 7,100 locals -- over 12 percent of the electorate -- voted for Nader in 2000. Nader's running-mate, Peter Camejo, got 3,263 local votes as a replacement candidate in last year's gubernatorial recall election.

WEST NILE HITS HUMCO: A dead raven found by a McKinleyville resident in late July tested positive for the West Nile virus last week -- the first time that the mosquito-borne disease has ever been found in the county. West Nile is showing up in all corners of the state this year; so far, it's killed two Southern California people -- one 58, the other 75 -- and shown up in over 40 horses, half of which either died naturally or were euthanized. The discovery of the dead bird locally was just the first step in the county's battle with the disease. "Human and horse cases tend to develop four to five weeks later," said Brent Whitener, county vector control specialist. Horses may be immunized for West Nile, but there is no vaccination for humans. Elderly and immune-deficient people are at greatest risk of developing severe cases of the disease. For more information on how to protect yourself from the disease, visit or call the county's Environmental Health hotline at 445-6215. County health officials ask residents to report dead crows, ravens, magpies and jays at the state's West Nile web site,, and to avoid handling dead birds.

LUMBER COMPANY SETTLES SUIT: On Monday, Eel River Sawmills settled a lawsuit brought by the Self-Insurers' Security Fund, an institution that guaranteed the company's workers' compensation. The company allegedly began defaulting on payments to injured workers in 2002, forcing the fund to take up the slack. In the settlement agreement, Eel River agreed to pay the fund $19 million, which will reimburse those payments and replenish the company's security deposit against future injuries.

WATER RATES BURBLE UP: Fieldbrook residents got eye-popping 33 percent increase in their water rates last month, just the latest community to be hit. "We're all getting hammered," said McKinleyville Community Services District General Manager Tom Marking. As of July, Fieldbrook and McKinleyville districts received a 28 percent hike in rate costs from the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District. The reasons for rate hikes are many, including less money coming from the state due to the budget deficit, the closure of one pulp mill five years ago and a contract renegotiation with the remaining mill. (Both were the water district's largest customers.) The state's power crisis led to large increases in the district's energy costs for pumping, and last year the district's new state-mandated $10.2 million turbidity facility came on-line. All the district's water users share these increasing costs and the loss of revenue from the mill closure. Carol Rische, general manager of HBMWD, said some of the district's seven municipalities had increased rates slowly in anticipation of rising water costs while others are just getting around to it. "Blue Lake started years ago. Arcata, McKinleyville and Eureka all raised rates last year," she said.

PEPPER SPRAY TRIAL SET TO BEGIN: Eight logging protesters whose eyes were swabbed with pepper spray by police in 1997 will soon have their case heard by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals after years of legal battles with the county and the City of Eureka. The trial is set to begin Sept. 7 in San Francisco, and the plaintiffs are seeking funds to cover court costs. The group is represented by the legal team that won Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney's case against the FBI and City of Oakland after the Earth First! activists were wrongly accused of transporting an explosive device in 1990. For more information, see

MAD RIVER HATCHERY STILL STRUGGLING: It turns out that the new state budget, announced last week, doesn't hold out as much promise for the Mad River Fish Hatchery as had previously been thought. A line in the 2004-05 budget pledges $4 million for "continued operation of state fish hatcheries," but only if money is left over after funding several other projects. It now looks as if money won't trickle down far enough this year. "I had a feeling when I first heard the news that it was too good to be true," said Jim Childs, secretary of the Friends of the Mad River Fish Hatchery. The group, which is spearheading efforts to keep the hatchery open, still has to raise $75,000 (or at least a "good chunk" of that) by December if the hatchery is to raise fish next year. Childs said that the Friends desperately need volunteers to serve on its fund-raising committee. If you can help, call 822-8565.

WOMAN DIES AT REGGAE: A volunteer helping to set up last weekend's Reggae on the River festival was found dead in her tent Thursday morning. Sally Lynn Weber, 40, was a resident of the Placer County town of Lincoln at the time of her death, but she had formerly lived in southern Humboldt. The Humboldt County coroner's office was uncertain as to the cause of her death as the Journal went to press.

COHO LISTING: The California Fish and Game Commission last week added the state's coho salmon population to its list of endangered or threatened species. The listing essentially mirrors the federal designation of coho under the Endangered Species Act, but will require developers and industrial interests to get incidental take permits from the Department of Fish and Game if their projects are found to further endanger the fish. "It brings the state to the table a little more in terms of management," said Dennis McEwan, senior biologist with the department. He added that he hoped the move would free up additional funding for a coho recovery plan.

SCAMBURGER: A Fortuna man came clean last week, confessing that his story about finding a hypodermic syringe in his McDonald's hamburger on July 27 was a lie. The man, whose name has not been released, told Fortuna Police Department detectives that he had perpetrated the hoax in an effort to bilk the fast-food behemoth of some quick dollars.

TRIBAL TOURS: The Yurok Tribe will launch a new business this weekend -- tourist excursions, with a focus on the history and ecology of Yurok country. The excursions, which begin at tribal headquarters in Klamath, will include talks with tribal leaders, a demonstration of traditional fishing techniques, a jet-boat tour of the Klamath estuary and a salmon bake. "This is an opportunity for community members to learn about the Yurok people from Yuroks themselves," said Geneva Wortman, deputy executive director of the tribe. Tickets for the tour are only $50 for this Saturday, a half-off special price in conjunction with this year's Klamath Salmon Festival (see Calendar for details). For more information or to book a space, call 482-1350.

SHELTER OPEN: The Sequoia Humane Society's animal shelter, now a no-kill adoption center, is accepting animals who need new homes. Animals will be admitted by appointment only; call 442-1782.

Activists stage downtown protest


[protester on top of logs in logging truck, holding sign "forests forever" and two men holding banner in foreground "Palco - cutting tomorrow's forests today"]Downtown Eureka was the scene of one of the largest and most contentious forest protests in recent memory last Wednesday.

The protest began at 11 a.m., with around 50 demonstrators in front of the county courthouse holding up signs decrying forest practices in the Mattole watershed. Naomi Wagner, a long-time forest activist, said that recent Pacific Lumber Co. logging activities near Rainbow Ridge sparked the protest.

The event also coincided with the end of "action camp" -- a training session at Grizzly Creek Campground where young activists from around the country learned the basics of non-violent resistance, according to Wagner.

"This place is known around the country as a locus of non-violent resistance to corporate greed," she said.

One of the action camp attendees stood nearby, holding up one corner of a banner. The young man, who gave his name as "Pluto," said that he had recently taken a leave of absence from his university studies in Virginia in order to focus on direct action. The local action camp seemed like a good opportunity, he said.

"Non-violence training was really the key -- learning about different methods of non-violence, different people who have used non-violence to help change happen in a positive way," he said.

At noon, the demonstration moved out into the Fifth Street, with the activists stopping two trucks hauling Douglas fir logs at a stoplight. Police arrived on the scene moments later, diverting northbound traffic to Seventh Street.

Two protesters -- both of them local residents -- mounted one of the trucks, hanging banners from the logs. It took almost an hour for the police, aided by the Eureka Fire Department, to haul the non-compliant protesters off the trucks and arrest them. Normal traffic was restored a few minutes later.

Palco's Manne rallies Humboldt GOP


[Robert Manne]Robert Manne, Pacific Lumber Co. CEO, told a group of North Coast Republicans last week that, contrary to media reports, the company practices sustainable harvesting and has recently been meeting its goals.

Manne, the 15th president of Palco, addressed the mostly middle-aged and older crowd of close to 50 Republicans while they ate dinner at the Angelina Inn in Fernbridge during a monthly Humboldt County Republican Central Committee meeting. Palco's president touched upon issues that he says are not talked about in the media or by the lumber company's adversaries.

"In 1999 when we signed our Habitat Conservation Plan, which you all read about ad nauseam in this county I know, we had 4.2 billion board feet of timber growing on our timber lands, 219,000 acres. Five years later after doing all the harvesting we've done we still have 4.2 billion board feet growing on our timber lands," Manne said. "We are operating sustainably. No matter what the opponents tell you, no matter what you read in the press."

While the figure for billions of board feet has remained steady, this is true in part because the giant old growth redwoods that were federally protected under the HCP are still considered among the board feet growing on Palco land. Semantics aside, the company received a sustainable forestry certification last year, which was re-approved this summer following an audit from Interforest, a Connecticut-based resource management firm.

Manne continued to talk optimistically about the company, mentioning that Palco's domestic and international markets are strong and so are prices for redwood and Douglas fir. In an additional bit of good enviro news, the president reported that Palco's aquatics team found 20,000 salmonids in the Freshwater Creek system, and that the company donated $10,000 to the Mad River Fish Hatchery as it faced closure.

As for politics, Manne pronounced his satisfaction with Gov. Schwarzenegger's California Performance Review (CPR) report, a recently released 2,500-page document recommending a drastic overhaul in state government to cut back spending.

"[CPR is Schwarzenegger's] report on how he's going to streamline government, how he's going to gut government, how he's going to remove all the overlapping regulations and make things more efficient.

"The California Department of Forestry as we know it is eliminated. The Board of Forestry is eliminated. The Air Pollution Board is eliminated," Manne said.

"All 10 Regional Water Control Boards are eliminated and replaced with exempt officers sitting somewhere in Sacramento. It calls for streamlined timber harvest plan reviews. It calls for incentives for forest products companies that are certified as sustainable or have habitat conservation plans like we do. It means 38,000 to 40,000 state employees will lose their jobs if it's enacted in its full form. It's a huge step forward," Manne said to loud applause.

He later added that CPR has little chance of being approved, but that it is still a step in the right direction.

As for the November election, Manne drummed up hoots and hollers from the audience when he asked if George W. Bush stood a chance for reelection. He noted that he and Bush have something in common.

"I could tell you that the way I get treated by our opponents here in Humboldt County [makes me] feel somewhat like George Bush," Manne said. "The angst and the anger and the vile nature of some of these comments and the personal threats that I get ... it's not fun sometimes."

Then Manne jumped topics to rail against the recent move of District Attorney Paul Gallegos and Assistant District Attorney Tim Stoen to have Judge Christopher Wilson disqualified from presiding over the county's fraud lawsuit against Palco, for what they say is Wilson's personal bias against Stoen.

"Our company spent $6 million last year on lawyers defending ourselves against frivolous law suits. I mean, look what's going on in the District Attorney's case. I read after Judge Wilson's ruling on the complaint that the District Attorney and Assistant District Attorney said `we've got 90 percent of what we wanted.' And now the District Attorney is filing for Wilson, saying that they want him removed? That doesn't make any sense to me."

Manne added that he felt sorry for Wilson and hopes that the case will be thrown out of court.

Following the meeting, Humboldt's Republican Central Committee Treasurer, Kay Peake, said that Manne's talk was informative and full of "talking points" for the committee to convey to voters while campaigning.

"What amazes me is how little we know as Republicans [about Palco]," Peake said. "As people who've worked for or had family that worked for [Palco], we should know these things. And if we don't know them, how in the world can we expect anybody else to know them in our community?"

Democracy thrives, suffers in city elections


In some places, it's an embarrassment of riches. In others, a drought.

Six of Humboldt County's seven incorporated cities will be holding city council elections this November, and the races for political office in each of the towns are beginning to take shape.

Arcata voters will have at least 10 candidates to choose from in filling three open seats. In Rio Dell, with two seats open, eight candidates have signed up, a surprisingly large turnout; in years past, the Rio Dell council has appointed new members because no citizens could be found to run for seats.

Such a situation appears possible this year in Blue Lake, where, at press time, only two candidates have filed in Blue Lake in a race where three seats are open. In Ferndale, businessman Jeff Farley has announced that he will challenge Mayor Elizabeth Anderson for her post, but there may not be much of a race for city council -- two candidates have thus far filed for two open seats.

The Aug. 6 deadline for candidates to file was extended in Arcata, Blue Lake and Ferndale, as incumbent councilmembers in each of those cities decided not to run for re-election. Because of the extension, a final, complete list of candidates was not available as the Journal went to press.

In Arcata, the council's two longest-serving members, Bob Ornelas and Connie Stewart, announced in June that they would be stepping down. Blue Lake Mayor Dave Nakamura and Councilmember Brian Julian are likewise retiring, as is Ferndale Councilmember Todd Sanborn.

The city of Fortuna held its elections in April.

 ARCATA*      Three seats open

GREG ALLEN, attorney
ROB AMERMAN, public radio employee
NICHOLAS BRAVO, university student
HARMONY GROVES, solar salesperson
MICHAEL MACHI, incumbent
MARK OWENS, business owner
PAUL PITINO, self-employed landscaper
JIM SORTER, retired school superintendent

BLUE LAKE*       Three seats open

ADELENE JONES, incumbent
MARVIN SAMUELS, office manager

EUREKA       Two seats open

Second Ward:
Fourth Ward:

     REX BOHN, operations manager
     CHRIS KERRIGAN, incumbent

FERNDALE*       Mayor plus two council members

     ELIZABETH ANDERSON, incumbent
     JEFF FARLEY, businessman
City Council

     KEN MIERZWA, appointed incumbent
     RACHEL HARRISON, businesswoman

RIO DELL       Two seats open

MARC BARSANTI, carpenter
ERNIE CANNADAY, retired/school
JACK HILL, retired millwright
CANE OTIS, electrician
JACK THOMPSON, appointed incumbent
SHARON L. WOLFF, data entry operator
STEVEN L. WOLFF, disabled homemaker

TRINIDAD       Two seats open

DEAN HEYENGA, incumbent
CHI-WEI LIN, incumbent

* = filing period closed Wednesday at 5 p.m.

by Hank Sims



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