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December 1, 2005

The Weekly Wrap

A river o' irony

9 Questions for Hazel Juell

The Weekly Wrap

TICKERTAPE: The Humboldt County Sheriff Search and Rescue Posse found Michael Patrick Berry, 51, of Shelter Cove, last Tuesday lying dead in a thick forest near Shelter Cove Road, a gun in his hand. Berry had crashed his vehicle Nov. 10, and although witnesses were said to have seen him at the crash site, waving a gun around and shouting about money, he was gone by the time the CHP arrived, the Sheriff's office reports. Someone filed a missing person's report Nov. 14, and the posse later found him not far from where his car had crashed. The coroner ruled it a suicide.... It's the quintessential identity-theft nightmare: A woman posing as "Terri Linderman" has been passing false checks made in Linderman's name, says the Eureka Police Department. The fake checks, printed by an unknown person, have been drawing on accounts at Morgan Stanley and Coast Central Credit Union, but those outfits haven't been issuing said checks. The fakester using the bad checks is also using a driver's license in Linderman's name. Tipsters can call Suzie Owsley, 441-4321, at the Eureka P.D.... Willfully tinkering with a stream containing protected coho salmon has earned two local men hefty fines in excess of $9,000 from the federal NOAA Fisheries Service and the California Department of Fish and Game, according to a news release. Mike Sargent, of Fieldbrook, and Don Wallace, of McKinleyville, were caught by officials on July 9, 2004, mucking around in Lindsay Creek on Wallace's Fieldbrook property with a backhoe. They had no permit. Their illegally constructed water diversion ditch stranded several juvenile coho salmon, a threatened species.... A 40-year-old bicyclist ran a stop sign and nailed the side of a car late Sunday afternoon, after the car had stopped at the stop sign then proceeded into the intersection of 11th and 7th streets, says the Arcata Police Department. The cyclist (not wearing a helmet) ended up at the hospital. The driver was unhurt but the car was dented. In the wee hours of Monday, police caught Nha Vang, 21, of Eureka, in the act of burglarizing Arcata Auto. He was booked and charged with various offenses, including probation violation.

HUMBOLDT FAME: We love it when the North Coast gets noticed. Even when the attention is for something bad it validates our existence here in Humboldt County and acknowledges that yes, California really does extend north of San Francisco. Good news first: Fire & Light, that awesomely eco-groovy Arcata glass shop that makes all the beautifully rustic, brilliantly-colored glassware out of recycled bottles got some big press in Time magazine. In Time's Nov. 21 issue, as part of its web shopping gift guide, Fire & Light tumblers and the website appear on page 131, with other presents appropriate for the environmentalist in your life, like a clock made of recycled detergent bottles. Then there was the strange media flurry in Ohio about the William McKinley statue holding court in the Arcata Plaza. Apparently, Arcata's like-hate affair with the statue has mild Ohio raising a mild eyebrow and wondering aloud mildly, in the voice of librarian Janet Metzger at the McKinley Presidential Library & Museum in Canton, Ohio, why we gotta be so bent about "mild-mannered" McKinley? Well, they're just standing by their native son, and that's why the Akron Beacon Journal, The Repository in Canton (a story re-run by the Times-Standard), and a gaggle of Ohio broadcasters ran the story.

PULP HEARING: It's time for more Evergreen Pulp fun before the North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District Hearing Board Dec. 5 at 9:30 a.m. in the Eureka City Council Chambers. The board will be considering several items, including a petition filed by the air pollution control officer seeking an order of abatement against Evergreen in order to establish a monitoring program for emissions from the pulp mill. The other items concern the mill's smelt dissolver and a variance asked for by Evergreen to allow it to keep operating while it fixes problems with its lime kiln.

TRICKY ENDEAVOR: Arcata Endeavor, the organization that helps low-income and homeless people by providing showers, lockers, food, employment help and other services, is casting about for a new home for its new Arcata Service Center -- possibly somewhere in the South G Street or Samoa Boulevard area. And that means lots of other folks are casting wary glances and evil eyes toward Endeavor's endeavor. South G neighbors gather at the Marsh Commons, corner of H and South G, on Sunday at 6:30. Then there's a city-sponsored meeting to talk about all this on Dec. 6 at 6:30 p.m. in the Arcata Community Center's senior room, room 321.

LAST SHOT: The Humboldt County Public Health Branch is offering another round of flu shots on Dec. 5: 1-4 p.m. at the Blue Lake Community Center and 9-11:30 a.m. at Redwood Acres Arts and Crafts building. The shot is only for people 60 and older, or people aged 9 to 60 with a serious medical condition and a prescription in hand. A $7 donation is requested, or the county can bill Medicare. Info: 476-4945.


A river o' irony


Call it a strange familial convergence, this river tale with salmon and Buffett family members swimming through it. Or maybe just an ironic coincidence.

On Tuesday morning, Leaf Hillman, vice chairman of the Karuk Tribal Council, was in Ashland in the midst of yet another Klamath settlement negotiation meeting with Klamath River Basin stakeholders -- everyone from reservoir-fed dirt farmers to subsistence tribal fisher folk to power purveyors -- to see if they could agree on how to operate the dams and make everyone happy. The six dams on the Klamath River operated by PacifiCorp are up for re-licensing by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, after 50 years of providing power and water for agriculture in the upper basin while cutting off some salmon from traditional spawning beds and altering river flows. As PacifiCorp embarked on its traditional re-licensing bid through FERC, river users in the basins began a parallel process to try to reach an alternative solution to a simple re-licensing.

"All the stakeholders are here," Hillman said Tuesday morning. "The irrigators, the tribes, PacifiCorp. So we're sitting in smoke-filled rooms, having caucuses amongst different groups. And if we can come to an agreement, then we can present the alternative to FERC. Things are getting very interesting now. There's a lot of jockeying for position."

One position the Karuk Tribe has taken in the past is to have four of the dams decommissioned and fish passage restored to the upper river and its tributaries. Under a traditional FERC re-licensing, that probably isn't likely to happen, he said. "FERC has never in its history required the decommissioning of a dam," he said. "We think there's probably more to be gained in the settlement process. And we think we can arrive at a settlement that'll work economically for the company. We know that PacifiCorp is in the business to make money, and we're not trying to break the company. At the same time, we need to make some changes in the system that will benefit the fish." One real sticking point for the tribe has been that PacifiCorp has refused to share certain data, such as hourly flow data, said Hillman. "That information is essential for us to be able to come to an informed decision." So they continue to wrangle.

Which brings us back to the weird familial convergence. Back in the spring, MidAmerican Energy, owned by billionaire investor Warren Buffett and his Berkshire Hathaway Inc., made a move to buy PacifiCorp. The purchase is still in the works, and may not even happen. But back then, in a May 25 press release, the Karuk Tribe expressed dismay at the sudden prospect of a new dam owner to have to dicker with all over again. In the news release Hillman noted: "Right now, we don't know if Mr. Buffett cares about salmon or Native Tribes, but we plan to find out soon. We are also asking ScottishPower [owner of PacifiCorp] shareholders to do everything they can to block the sale of the company until the Klamath issue is resolved. At the same time, we need to let investors in Berkshire know what they're getting into."

It doesn't sound as if the Karuk Tribe's had much luck capturing Buffett's attention. But in the meantime, Hillman's leadership in the fight to save the Klamath River salmon and maybe even topple a few dams has landed him with an award funded by Buffett's sons Peter and Howard and their respective wives Jennifer and Devon. And on Tuesday afternoon -- following the Klamath stakeholders' negotiation session -- Hillman was going to make his way to Portland, Ore., for the 2005 Buffett Award for Indigenous Leadership ceremony.

The award is sponsored by Ecotrust, a nonprofit environmental organization based in Portland that promotes "a conservation economy throughout the Salmon Nation" from Alaska to California, said Elizabeth Woody, director of the Indigenous Leadership Program. The main Buffett Award went to W. Ron Allen, of the Jamestown S'Kallam Tribe, this year, who received $25,000. Hillman and three other finalists were awarded $2,500.

And the Buffett Award has nothing to do with the elder Buffett, said Woody, annoyed even by the question of any possible connection. Son Howard is a photographer and wildlife conservationist known for his work to save the cheetah. He also served on the board of Ecotrust. Peter is a musician who, with his wife Jennifer, has a musical production called Spirit. "He's worked with Native musicians for years," said Woody, adding: "Warren Buffett is transitory, whereas the Native people are going to be there forever. Leaf Hillman is way more important than Warren Buffett. And Peter and Howard are very special people -- they get it."

Hillman, who is being recognized for his 25 years of working on the salmon issue and for his environmental and cultural contributions, says he's honored by the recognition. But the irony of the situation hasn't escaped him. "I do believe there's a bit of irony that their father is in the process of purchasing PacifiCorp," he said. And if daddy Buffett's business comes up at the awards ceremony, he said, he won't be shy in talking about it.



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