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August 21, 2003

Arnold's empty proposition
The Terminator's school money is nowhere to be found

Blacked out in Cleveland
That a Journal reporter was in Ohio when the
lights went out last week is coincidental. We think.

State may sue over Trinidad trail pact

The stink is back

Big wheel lost, found

Impeach Bush?

Union -- again

More support for DA

SoHum man still missing

Fighting for survival

Mixed bag

Ready for cell towers?


Arnold's empty proposition
The Terminator's school money is nowhere to be found


Where's Arnold? Or, rather, where's the education money he promised?

That's what local school officials like Maureen McGarry, coordinator of Arcata's Arts in the Afternoon after-school program, are wondering.

Since its opening in the fall of 2000, the Arts in the Afternoon room in the Arcata Community Center has been a place for teenagers from all around northern Humboldt to learn technique and struggle with the muse after the school day ends.

This year, though, it has been a struggle to find the funds to keep the program going. The state's mid-year budget cuts hit the program hard -- a $5,000 personal donation from State Sen. Wesley Chesbro in April pretty much saved the day -- but this year, McGarry is scrambling to find money for art supplies, snacks and HSU work-study assistants.

"What used to come from grants is now going to come from booths at the fair and the like -- all those old, traditional ways of fund-raising," she says. "We're back in bake-sale mode."

After Chesbro's check came, McGarry, thinking about the coming school year, remembered last year's Proposition 49. Arnold Schwarzenegger, star of Kindergarten Cop and a current Republican front-runner in the bid to replace Gov. Gray Davis, was the public face of the initiative -- hadn't he promised that it would provide for programs exactly like hers?

But after digging around a bit, McGarry made a surprising discovery. There were no Proposition 49 funds to apply for. And it looked like there wouldn't be any in the foreseeable future, either.

Proposition 49 -- the "After School Education and Safety Program Act" -- is Schwarzenegger's biggest and arguably only claim to fame in the political arena. Besides loaning his star-powered visage to the pro-49 campaign, he appeared in countless venues to stump for it and donated $1 million to help it succeed. The act was approved by a healthy margin in last November's election.

The act promised to earmark up to $550 million of the state's budget for after-school programs. But there were two little-known restrictions in the text of the bill: The program would not commence until the 2004-05 school year, and would not commence at all until the state's budget had grown by at least $1.5 million over the previous year.

Bruce Cain, director of the Institute for Governmental Studies at U.C. Berkeley, said that tying expenditures to increases in the state budget was a mark of fiscal responsibility -- a good sign for a prospective governor.

"I think that speaks well of Arnold," he said. "His commitment [to after-school programs] is real. The point is that a commitment to child programs has to be balanced with a commitment to poor people's health services, to hiring K-12 teachers. The reality is that there are a lot of very important things that are not being funded right now."

But McGarry, who's sending out fundraising letters in a desperate bid to raise $10,000, is still more than a bit galled by the good press Schwarzenegger has been receiving for his work on Prop. 49.

"It's just smoke and mirrors, and yet he gets credit for it," she said. "It's not serving any more kids than when we voted on it."

Blacked out in Cleveland
That a Journal reporter was in Ohio when the
lights went out last week is coincidental. We think.


Last week I went to Cleveland for a vacation. Yes, as in Ohio. No, I do not have relatives there. My girlfriend Kris and her family invited me to join them there -- they live in Rhode Island, so the Midwest was a halfway point, sort of. It was a lovely time, thank you very much, although a bit darker than I expected.

After an afternoon of jet skiing on Lake Erie on Thursday, we went back to the hotel we were all staying at to get ready for our last evening out -- dinner and a WNBA game.

As I showered the lights gave a strained buzzing noise and dimmed. I looked toward the ceiling and noticed the layer of steam that had accumulated -- evidence of the length of my immersion, which neared 20 minutes. One final rinse and I cut off the water. A9s I toweled off the lights flickered once more before going black.

"What did I do?" I thought. Perhaps it was guilt talking. Every unreasonable possibility flooded my head: My shower had lasted so long that the excess of water vapor seeped into an electrical circuit, blowing a fuse and cutting off power to the bathroom. Maybe the staff at the Ritz Carlton was monitoring the water usage in room 924 and decided to flip the switch to teach the water-waster a lesson.

I stepped out of the bathroom into the sun-drenched hotel room -- it was around 4:10 p.m. Kris was sitting on the bed with a perplexed look on her face, squinting at the remote control, pushing its buttons and pointing it at the television.

We checked her parents' room -- lights out there too. This is bad, I thought.

We went out into the hotel hallway and entered a different world -- with no windows, everything was pitch black. Two attendants carrying candles emerged out of the darkness dressed in formal service attire; they were looking to help disoriented guests find their rooms. I asked if the power was out throughout the entire hotel and they informed us that the electricity was down in all of Cleveland.

I forgave myself for the long shower -- how could that have caused a citywide power outage? We began to worry about the rest of the family that was not in the hotel room -- Kris' mother and sisters.

Is there anyone trapped in the elevator? Yes, the attendants said. The fire department is coming to get them out. Before I could ask any more questions, they hurried away into the darkness.

Five minutes later, back in our hotel room, Kris' mother called. She was with her daughters in the lobby and they had the scoop. Most of New England, New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan and parts of Canada were without power, nothing terrorist-related as far as anyone knew.

We consulted the floor plan posted on the inside of our hotel room door, and, with that mental picture in our heads, we felt our way down the hall until we located the stairway entrance. The stairwell was dimly lit with emergency lights -- one bulb for every other floor.

Down nine flights we went to the candle-lit lobby where we met up with the rest of the family. People were milling around, chatting with staff about the potential causes of the blackout. Nobody seemed nervous or angry, but mildly confused and a bit excited, as if the blackout had made them giddy. Like the rest of the patrons, we were invited to the hotel bar and restaurant for drinks, but we decided to venture outside in hopes that a nearby restaurant was still serving dinner -- perhaps a place with an outdoor grill or wood-fired oven.

It was around 5 p.m. by the time we hit the streets. The weather was hot, humid and generally oppressive. Wearing a lightweight tank top and capris, I still felt sticky all over. It was the kind of heat that is only escapable by good old-fashioned air conditioning -- the remnants of which were gradually dissipating into the August evening.

As we walked away from the hotel a fire truck came screaming around the corner, most likely headed to aid those still stuck in the elevator.

I grabbed a free weekly newspaper in hopes of finding a dining guide that could lead us to some outdoor eats. The streets were semi-chaotic. With no traffic lights it was a virtual free-for-all for both pedestrians and cars. After a little while, though, an order began to develop. Drivers waited their turn, waved on opposing traffic and stopped for pedestrians. It was as if all of the automatic behavior that prevails in normal circumstances had been suspended. People used their common sense and, although scary at times, it worked.

There was a general feeling of unity in the street -- for once, everyone recognized that they had something in common. Cars parked along the roadside and pedestrians poked their heads in the open windows to listen to the latest news.

When I first realized that the whole city was out I imagined urban mayhem -- looting and riots and broken glass. But instead people were helpful and happy.

We had no luck in finding an operational restaurant. So it was back to the hotel, where we were served complimentary drinks and sushi. The people there were remarkably festive. How many times do the lights go out across the entire Northeast? And how often is the booze free? (The computerized cash registers weren't working, of course, and we speculated that the hotel wanted to keep people happy to reduce the chances of panic). The crowd grew louder as the restaurant grew darker. Toasts were made from the 40-something business crowd that packed the bar; the power failure, it seemed, was a cause for celebration.

Kris' mother talked about the power outage of 1977, which like the Blackout of 2003 affected much of the East Coast. Apparently a baby boom happened nine months after the '77 blackout. It makes perfect sense. Without electricity people are forced to, well, communicate; no television, no computers, no harsh fluorescent, no Internet. Just candlelight, conversation and baby-making.

After the lights went out last week, there was finger-pointing. My first impulse was to blame myself. America's first impulse was to blame Canada, and over the past week, the blame has been rerouted to and settled upon northern Ohio. Which, in case you don't know your geography, is right where Cleveland is. It seems somebody plugging in a hair dryer could have triggered the blackout -- or perhaps somebody's overly long shower.

But I'm innocent until proven guilty. Meantime, I'm left with vivid memories and a positive example of human behavior under stress -- not bad for one hot summer evening with no lights.

State may sue over Trinidad trail pact


Trail head with barricade and warning signTrindad's Wagner Street Trail was barricaded and closed to the public on Saturday, following a landmark settlement agreement in the 10-year legal dispute between the city and resident John Frame.

If two state agencies have any say about it, though, those barricades may not stay there forever.

The Coastal Conservancy, a state agency, and the California Coastal Commission said on Monday that they were discussing the issue with the state attorney general's office. Depending on those talks, the state could decide to bring legal action to scuttle the agreement.

The Coastal Conservancy holds a "public access" easement on the length of trail that the city has closed -- and Sam Schuchat, executive officer, said that the city had no right to bargain it away.

"We're pretty pissed off at what happened last week," he said, noting that the Conservancy hadn't received advance notice that city was seeking to settle the dispute.

On Tuesday, Coastal Conservancy Project Manager Sue Corbaley was surprised to learn that the barricades had, in fact, been erected, and said that she was immediately going to consult with the conservancy's attorney.

California Coastal Commission District Director Bob Merrill said he believed that the closure of the trail was a change in use, and should require a coastal development permit.

Trinidad Mayor Dean Heyenga, who voted against the settlement agreement, said on Monday that the city was now legally bound by it, and that any state challenge over the public access easement will have to be litigated.

"That sounds like an issue that will have to be resolved in court," he said. "Until the Coastal Conservancy and the Coastal Commission do something about it, we are going to enforce the agreement as it was signed.

"The city is now committed to holding up its end of the bargain."

The settlement agreement gives Frame almost everything he was seeking from the city. Not only has the trail been closed, the agreement mandates that the city deed the land the trail passes through to him.

That ownership of the property was the subject of a previous lawsuit between the city and Frame, with both sides claiming it as their own. Opinions differ about what the judge in that case actually determined, but Frame, in any case, had let members of the community know that he had been planning to file another lawsuit over it later this month. Not long afterward, an agreement was reached.

On Tuesday, Frame said that he hadn't gotten everything he wanted during the negotiations -- he said that he would have liked to maintain the right to sue the city for past damages to his property, which he alleges were caused by the city's failure to prevent the bluff on which his house is built from slipping near the trail.

In addition, Frame has agreed to indemnify the city -- meaning he will pay the legal costs of any potential lawsuit brought by the state.

Frame said that geotechnical studies he had commissioned showed that damage to the bluff was threatening the site of the ancient village of Tsurai, which lies beneath the trail. According to the settlement agreement, this was a prime factor in the city's decision to settle.

He added that he hoped the settlement would allow the town to turn toward more positive projects -- such as the construction of a library -- and said that he hoped that the Conservancy, which is charged with protecting the Tsurai site, would agree.

"I really believe it's in the best interests of everyone to put this behind us," he said. "And I hope that the state, when it considers its responsibilities, will reach a similar conclusion."

At a special meeting of the Trinidad City Council Monday night, it was announced that a negotiating team composed of Councilmembers Chi-Wei Lin and Terry Marlow would try to reach a similar settlement with the Tsurai Ancestral Society, which had joined Frame's suit against the city.

The stink is back

In case you haven't noticed, a familiar acrid odor -- Eureka's perfume -- has been floating in the air lately.

An official with the Humboldt County environmental health division said Tuesday that the county has received some complaints from the public over the past week or two. Lawrence Odle, director of the North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District, said his shop has also received some calls -- enough to trigger an investigation of what no one disputes is the source: the financially troubled pulp mill on the Samoa Peninsula.

"The complaints appear to be valid. We are in the early stages of reviewing operations out there, and we will identify options and seek a resolution," Odle said.

Odle said the district, a three-county regional authority charged with enforcing the federal Clean Air Act, will primarily be looking at whether the recent emissions constitute a violation of the mill's air quality permit.

Alan Lindgren, a spokesman with Stockton Pacific Enterprises, Inc., the mill's new owners, said that the precise cause of the noisome emissions is unclear. But he said it likely has to do with a series of recent equipment shutdowns made necessary by a shortage of wood chips the mill uses to make paper.

"We're working to identify the source of the problem," Lindgren said.

Stockton Pacific is a newly formed holding group made up largely of former managers with the previous owner, Samoa-Pacific Cellulose. The new concern made a successful $5 million bid for the mill and its equipment at a public auction last Friday -- the first step in relieving the mill's massive $80 million debt. The timing could be fortuitous, as a long-term slump in the worldwide pulp market appears to be coming to an end.

For years the pulp mill, along with another mill no longer in operation, emitted odorous emissions across Eureka. A multi-million upgrade completed about two years ago eliminated the problem.

Big wheel lost, found

The California Lottery big spin wheel -- actually a medium-sized replica of the giant wheel seen on TV -- was a no-show Sunday on the final day of the Humboldt County Fair.

A half dozen lottery officials were on hand for the traveling promotion, which was to pick two winners for an all-expense-paid trip to the state fair in Sacramento, but they were unaware that the wheel was missing until late Saturday night.

"At the last minute literally, they were making up a game to pick the winners," said Barbara Powers, lottery manager of events, by telephone from Sacramento.

At breakfast Sunday, lottery officials came up with a card game, which eventually yielded the winners, Glenn Furber and Ron Johnson, both of Eureka. Each won $500 and 75 Lotto tickets, plus the trip to Sacramento Sept. 1, where they will spin the giant wheel. The top prize on that wheel will be $10,000 and a new all-terrain vehicle.

Humboldt County Fair officials were still scratching their heads Tuesday.

"I don't know if it got shipped to Ferndale, Wash., or what," said Fair Manager Stuart Titus.

Actually, the trucking company that was supposed to move the equipment from the Nevada County Fair in Grass Valley to Humboldt had a truck break down. A second trucking company was not aware that the equipment was needed Sunday, Powers said.

The truck finally arrived in Ferndale Monday after the fair closed and was ordered back to Sacramento.

Impeach Bush?

Dave Meserve is at it again.

The notoriously non-conforming Arcata City Council member is calling for the impeachment of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

The resolution, which was scheduled to be introduced at the regular council meeting this week, states that Bush and Cheney have failed to uphold their oath to "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution" by launching an unprovoked attack on Iraq, thus committing "high crimes and misdemeanors" which are grounds for impeachment

In particular, the resolution cites "lies" that Bush has told the public including that Iraq trained al-Qaeda members and possessed nuclear and biological weaponry.

Meserve on Tuesday said he was hopeful that the council would adopt the resolution, but that there might be some opposition given that impeaching Bush is hardly a mainstream cause. Of course, the Arcata council, which made headlines internationally for its stand against the Patriot Act (another Meserve initiative), is not shy when it comes to this sort of thing.

Meserve insisted that calling for Bush's impeachment is not radical. Sen. Bob Graham (D-Florida), who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, has expressed support for impeachment. Also, an effort called "Vote to Impeach" has reaped 270,000 signatures of support.

"If anything, this will get people to talk about [impeaching Bush]. Then maybe people will begin to ferret out the truth for themselves," Meserve said.

Union -- again

Workers at the North Coast Cooperative have voted once again to join the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 101, and both sides in the current contract negotiations expect to sign a new agreement by the end of the month.

Sound like déjà vu? The co-op workers voted a year ago to unionize. But a group decided this summer to circulate a petition for a new vote, said Carolyn Nelson, shop steward for the Arcata store.

"A lot of the employees who are currently with the co-op were not with the co-op when the union was initially voted in," she said. "I don't know if it was dissatisfaction with the union, or just this entity they were forced to join and they didn't know whether they wanted to be in it or not. I think they just wanted their voice to be heard."

So a new election was held Aug. 5, with the results favoring the union by 65 to 18 (with 38 eligible employees not voting).

What may have tipped the scales, Nelson said, was the firing shortly before the vote of John Frahm, manager of the Arcata store. (Other sources said Frahm spearheaded the union drive before being promoted to a non-union management position.)

"I think [the firing] might have had a little bit to do with it," Nelson said. "It made people a little more aware of what the union could provide them," in terms of job security.

Len Mayer, general manager for the co-op, said management is "very close" to having a new two-year contract the workers can vote on. The current contract expires Aug. 31.

More support for DA

As backers of the effort to recall District Attorney Paul Gallegos continue to gather signatures, another group has formed to support the DA.

The Friends of Paul Gallegos filed a statement of organization with the county elections office July 10, meaning they intend to raise or spend more than $1,000 in the campaign, said Lindsay McWilliams, elections chief.

A spokesman for the group, Patrick Riggs of Stafford, said its goal is simple: to keep Paul Gallegos as DA. "The words `equal justice for all' pretty much sum it up: Paul Gallegos is a DA who believes that all people have equal standing before the law, that crime should be prosecuted vigorously wherever it occurs and without regard for wealth or influence or position in the community."

The group plans to raise money to support the DA -- with media and public education campaigns -- should the recall drive produce enough signatures for an election, Riggs said.

Recall proponents have until Oct. 22 to turn in their signatures.

Meanwhile, a report filed with the county confirmed what recall opponents had charged for months: that many of the backers have timber industry ties. (The recall effort started after Gallegos filed suit against the Pacific Lumber Co. in late February.)

The Committee to Recall Paul Gallegos raised $26,621 and spent $8,695 in the first six months of the year, according to its financial disclosure statement. Of the total spent, at least 76 percent came from timber-related companies or individuals, including Craig E. Anthony, a Pacific Lumber vice president; Angelini Logging in Carlotta; Roger Coombs of Timber Incorporated in Fortuna; Ronald Borges of Bettendorf Trucking; Lewis Logging of Fortuna; Edward Gomes of Joe Costa Trucking; Hansen Wire Rope of Fortuna; Peterson Tractor Co. of San Leandro (which has a Eureka office); and Rasmussen Wood Products of Blue Lake.

SoHum man still missing

Chris Giauque, a medical marijuana activist from Southern Humboldt, was still missing as of press time late Tuesday -- and his family fears the worst.

Giauque was last seen on Aug. 9 in the Spy Rock Road area of Mendocino County, according to Humboldt County Sheriff's Department spokesperson Brenda Gainey. He had driven there from his home in Salmon Creek to meet a friend.

Gainey said that Giauque's wife reported him missing late the next day.

On Aug. 13, state park police found Giauque's truck parked on the Avenue of the Giants near Elk Creek. Gainey said that the truck showed no visible signs of a struggle, and that further forensic tests will be conducted later this week.

Giauque's brother Clint, a resident of Arcata, said on Monday that he had little hope that his brother Chris had simply wandered off, or was otherwise missing but unharmed.

"I suspect that someone killed my brother," he said. "I know someone killed my brother."

Clint Giauque expressed strong concerns that the Sheriff's Department was not investigating the case as actively as it should. He said he feared that his brother's clashes with the department over the issue of medical marijuana would weaken its desire to solve the case.

Chris Giauque, a medical marijuana patient, sued the county over an ounce of cannabis that the department confiscated from him in 1999. He was arrested near the Humboldt County Courthouse in early 2001, right before a planned public marijuana give-away.

Lt. Steve Knight, head of the sheriff's detective bureau, said that Giauque's activism "has not and will not" affect his detectives' investigation. He noted that detectives have been working on the case every day and have received assistance from other law enforcement agencies, including the FBI.

"We treat everyone as absolutely the same," Knight said.

Anyone with information should call the Sheriff's Dept. at 445-7251.

Fighting for survival

With the state budget deficit slicing its way through education, Sunset School of the Arts is scraping together funds at a grassroots level in order to save their arts program.

The north Arcata elementary school began an arts-themed curriculum close to 10 years ago with the aim of enriching a child's academic career.

With the risk of losing funding for their two arts specialists -- Christina Erst and Rudi Galindo -- a group of parents and local artist Alan Sanborn have begun a crusade to save the positions. Close to $8,000 has been raised thus far with promise of more funds coming in from an anonymous donor who will match what the group raises; $21,000 is needed to retain the two positions.

The school anticipates that enough money will be raised and the special arts instruction -- drama and visual arts -- will begin in early October.

Donations will be accepted and matched through December. If more than enough is raised, the excess funds will be carried over into next year's budget.

Mixed bag

Results from the first year school testing under the No Child Left Behind Act are in, and while Humboldt County students generally did better than their peers from around the state, the less-than-perfect percentage of students taking the California Standards Test is a cause for concern.

Of the 77 Humboldt County schools to be tested, 32 of them did not meet the required standards for participation in the test. The No Child Left Behind Act requires a 95 percent participation rate, even though parents are legally allowed to remove their children from the testing process.

Schools whose test scores do not meet federal standards or have an insufficient participation rate two years in a row will become subject to federal oversight and penalties.

Only three Humboldt County schools actually fell below proficiency standards. Students from McKinleyville Middle School and Fortuna Middle School met the required proficiency standards in both English and math, but certain "sub-groups" of the students did not -- meaning that both schools will be at risk of federal intervention next year. For student bodies as a whole, only Hoopa Elementary fell below proficiency standards in any subject.

Ready for cell towers?

From 18 to 30 new transmission sources -- primarily towers and poles -- will need to be built in Humboldt County in the next five to 10 years to keep pace with the growing use of cell phones, according to a draft ordinance put together by county staff.

The ordinance, made public by the Planning Department at a workshop on Monday, seeks to strike a balance between meeting the industry's needs and minimizing the visual impact of cell towers.

Under the ordinance, cell towers could be built no closer than 500 feet to residences and preschools. In addition, they would be restricted to commercial and industrial zones.

Some members of the public raised objections at Monday's meeting, arguing that radio frequency radiation poses a threat to their health even when the source is 500 feet away. They called for a 1,500-foot buffer.

But planning commissioners reiterated that the Telecommunications Act, enacted by Congress in 1996, does not allow municipalities to regulate tower siting on the basis of potential health effects.


A news item in last week's paper misstated the location of Weitchpec. The community is on the Yurok reservation. The same news item mischaracterized ongoing litigation regarding the Trinity River. At issue in the case is the validity of environmental documentation supporting a Clinton Administration decision that reduces the amount of Trinity water diverted to Central Valley irrigators. Additionally, while federal district court Judge Oliver Wanger retains jurisdiction over the case, he has already issued a ruling and the matter is now before a federal appellate court.



North Coast Journal Weekly

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