story by Jim Hight
On a hill overlooking Freshwater Creek,
an old swaybacked horse grazes in a small square of fenced pasture.A quarter-mile
down the valley, a brown and white steer munches on tufts of short grass.
In the near future, both animals will die. The horse will most likely go from natural causes or by lethal injection paid for by a caring owner. The steer will succumb to a quick but deadly head wound delivered by a slaughterhouse worker.
Horse lovers who sponsored Proposition 6 believe these distinct ways of death should be enforced by law. "Horses have evolved to be pleasure, recreational and sporting animals," say the proponents in their ballot argument. "Horses are not food animals. Existing laws protect our dogs and cats from slaughter. ... Horses deserve this protection as well."
Many North Coast horse owners share this sentiment. "If a horse has been your companion, you put it to sleep humanely," said one local Prop. 6 backer.
But for people whose business revolves around livestock, selling older horses for meat is a long-standing practice. "I have sold horses through the auction ... as `killer' horses," said Gary Markegard, livestock and natural resource advisor for the University of California Cooperative Extension Service in Eureka. "That means they go to a processing plant where they're made into meat for human consumption."
Slaughtering horses for human food is illegal in California, but slaughterhouses in Oregon, Nebraska and Texas buy California horses to kill, butcher and pack. More than two million horses have gone this route since 1986, according to Prop. 6 backers. The horse meat is generally exported to Canada and Europe.
Prop. 6 would make it a felony "to sell, buy, give away, hold or accept any horse with the intent of killing, or having another kill, that horse" for human consumption. The law would also apply to mules and burros.
"What are we going to do with the cripples, the backyarder who doesn't take care of his horse until it gets so old it's got to go?" asked Mike Mora of Humboldt Auction Yard in Fortuna. "Are we going to have landfills full of them spreading disease, or are we going to vote no and keep shipping them to canners for dog food or human consumption?"
According to a stable owner who asked to remain anonymous, the law would protect horse owners against horse meat buyers who don't let on that the aging family steed is actually headed to somebody's dinner plate. "It's the lower priced horses they go after. You've got to be careful. They see a horse free or cheap and then it's like `bye-bye," said the stable owner.
Some equine enthusiasts are more ambivalent about the horse meat business. "If my mule was close to dying, would I sell it for meat? No," said Dick Wild of Northern California Backcountry Horsemen. "But do we want a whole new regulatory system? Do we want another felony on the books?" he asked, imagining this jailhouse conversation: "`Hey, Joe. What are you in for?'
`I sold my horse to a butcher.' "
City Garbage still in game
Just when it appeared the county's trash problems were solved, albeit temporarily, City Garbage Co. of Eureka has stepped back into the fray, offering to lower its rates for Humboldt County and area cities if the entities agree to long-term contracts.
That announcement, made last week, threatens to undermine the Humboldt County Waste Management Authority's agreement with ECDC Environmental, which plans to truck the county's waste to Oregon.
In a news release, waste management authority General Manager Gerald Kindsfather wrote, "City Garbage Co. of Eureka holds all the cards. It can close the current transfer station operation at any time, it can raise rates at any time and it is unwilling to provide any assurances not to do so. ... Don't be fooled by the financially driven acts of City Garbage."
City Garbage has also lowered rates for self-haulers. It's able to do so, Kindsfather said, because the company no longer has to pay into a fund for closure of the Cummings Road Landfill, which is near capacity.
In choosing ECDC, the authority rejected other suitors, including City Garbage Co., which offered a bid after ECDC had been chosen.
Meanwhile, a temporary 2-year transfer station in Arcata is expected to be completed in mid-December. City Garbage, which has sued the authority, Arcata, the state and other entities to halt opening of the facility, is accepting garbage in the interim.
Pacific Lumber cited again
Alleged timber harvest violations by a Scotia-based logging company will likely mean another citation for Pacific Lumber Co., but that isn't expected to threaten PL's timber operator's license.
Rounds Logging Co. of Scotia is suspected of having clearcut a wildlife protection zone along 500 feet of Freshwater Creek in September. It was PL workers who discovered the violations and reported them.
Pacific Lumber saw its license suspended last year after 272 violations were filed against the company. It's now operating with a provisional permit, which could be pulled if three more complaints are filed. But not every citation equals a complaint, according to the state Department of Forestry.
Meanwhile, two men have taken up residency in Freshwater trees to protest what residents say is excessive logging in the area.
Roger Levy, 44, joined tree-sitter Nathan Madsen this week after helping Madsen build a perch in his tree. Neither man is associated with Earth First! or any other environmental organization.
A cook at Daybreak Cafe in Arcata, Levy quit his job in order to do the tree sit. "He has never been an activist before, except in a quieter way by living on the land," a friend wrote.
Levy owns 160 acres adjoining the Mad River, where he farms organically.
Madsen, 25, a laborer at Mad River Brewing Co. in Blue Lake, and Levy were working on a roof in the area Oct. 13 when they realized all but two of the big trees were gone. It is those two trees they are now occupying.
PL, which owns the trees, has said it has no immediate plans to remove the trespassers.
Serra to try pepper case
Counterculture attorney Tony Serra of San Francisco will represent nine protesters in the second round of the pepper spray civil rights trial.
Now expected to be heard in January, the case resulting from a lawsuit filed against the Humboldt County Sheriff's and Eureka Police departments by nonviolent demonstrators who were swabbed with pepper spray ended in a hung jury in August.
Mark Harris, an Arcata attorney who launched the civil rights lawsuit, was co-counsel with Serra in the county's criminal case against the protesters, in which they were charged with trespassing and resisting arrest.
"Tony is a very high-profile lawyer who brings a lot of drama and intensity to the case," said Harris.
Serra's often controversial 25-year practice as a criminal defense lawyer has included the defense of the late Black Panther Huey Newton, the Symbionese Liberation Army's Russell Little, Ellie Nesler, charged with the in-court murder of the man accused of molesting her son, Bear Lincoln, charged with shooting a sheriff's deputy on the Round Valley Indian Reservation in Mendocino County, and Chol Soo Lee, depicted in the Hollywood movie True Believer.
A pricey Eureka Council seat
In the race for a seat on the Eureka City Council, candidate Cherie Arkley has raised more than $30,000, most of which came from her own company.
It's an amount that dwarfs her two opponents' campaign funds and comes to more than double the total raised by the nine other candidates for council and mayor.
Arkley received $28,279 from National Security Partners, a Baton Rouge, La.,-based company in which she is a partner. Her other large contributors include: David and Laura Dun ($500), Chris and Kay Johnson ($250) and Kurt Kramer ($290). She received $300 from members of the Emmerson family, owners of Sierra Pacific Industries.
Arkley is running for the 5th Ward seat. (Under Eureka's unusual city charter, council elections are city-wide, but candidates run for the ward in which they live.) Her two opponents are builder Jeff Smith and attorney John Cumming. Smith raised $6,046, including $2,000 from Bill Pierson, $500 from Roger and Joan Smith and $200 from Guynup Logging.
Cumming raised $4,431, which included a $250 donation from Friends of Mike Thompson and $100 from one-time 4th District supervisor candidate Richard Marks. Both Cumming and Smith lent their campaigns $1,000.
By comparison, the campaigns for the 1st and 3rd ward seats are low-budget affairs. In the 3rd Ward, incumbent Jack McKellar raised nothing and challenger Nancy Abrams filed the "short form," indicating receipts of less than $1,000.
First Ward appointed incumbent Maxine Hunter-Meeks raised $1,070, including $200 from Harvey Harper. Lee Brown brought in $1,227 with a $200 gift from public health doctor Gena Pennington and a $600 loan from himself. Patricia "Tish" Wilburn filed the short form showing less than $1,000 in contributions.
Campaign spending in the race for mayor is also minimal, despite the candidacy of flamboyant entrepreneur T. Great Razooly. Razooly's campaign has received less than $1,000 and incumbent Nancy Flemming has received $150.
In Arcata, three candidates are running for two council seats. Incumbent Jim Test's campaign report showed $45 in contributions. Candidates Bradley J. Freeman and Robert A. Noble both filed the short form for candidates receiving less than $1,000.
In a Sept. 21 election debate on KEET TV Channel 13, 5th District Supervisorial Candidate Sara Senger said the county took about $900,000 from the Mental Health Department, as well as the Health Department. This transfer of funds, she said, would cripple the departments' ability to raise money for needed programs but would not threaten services like Healthy Moms.
In the Oct. 15 issue of the Journal , an election article erroneously suggested that Assemblywoman Virginia Strom-Martin had altered her opinion over the last couple years to support "three strikes" legislation. Strom-Martin has, in fact, supported "three strikes" since 1996 when a state Supreme Court ruling gave judges discretion on third-strike sentencing for non-violent offenders.
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