Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Ancient Study Returns from the Dead [Updated]

Posted By on Tue, Dec 18, 2012 at 4:16 PM

UPDATE: On Tuesday the board voted to support the resolution 3-2, with Supervisors Lovelace and Clendenen opposing.

Public comment was almost unanimously in support of the resolution, though Harbor Commissioner Richard Marks said he had "some issues" with it and wished it had been brought to the harbor district first.

Lovelace and Clendenen said they were uncomfortable getting ahead of the harbor district, and Lovelace suggested waiting for the results of the Prosperity 2012 process.

Lovelace also expressed concern about the language of the resolution, which, as mentioned below, appears to commit the board to at least two year-long planning processes.

Supervisor Bass asked County Counsel Wendy Chaitin to weigh in on the matter. Chaitin said that, yes, the board would be committing to the processes outlined in the resolution but that, since no other jurisdiction is likely to call them out should they fail to follow through, the commitment doesn't matter much. "You're only committing that to yourselves," Chaitin said.

No mention was made of any commitment to their constituents.

Original post:

Tuesday afternoon, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors will consider a resolution that at first glance looks like a simple declaration of "Yay jobs! Let's go get us some!"

But the document (pdf here) would appear to commit the county to a variety of ambitious economic development projects based on some dubious claims made in an economic report from 1997, back when Bill Clinton was president, Titanic ruled the box office and The Spice Girls were tearing up the charts.

The resolution, which was prepared by an amorphous citizens committee called the Humboldt Bay Harbor Working Group, is nearly identical to one that's been making the rounds of local city councils, with vocal support from east-west rail advocates. It is being brought to the board by First District Supervisor Rex Bohn and Fourth District Supervisor Virginia Bass.

As we reported back in August, the document cites figures from a 15- (now almost 16-) year-old report by the late U.C. Berkeley economist Dr. John Quigley, who had been hired by the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District to analyze the financial impact of a variety of port development projects. These included deepening the harbor, which has since been completed. At the time the report was written, the north-south rail line through the Eel River Canyon was still up and running.

Even when the report was released in January 1997, Quigley's rosy projections of our harbor's economic potential were deemed by many to be unrealistic. (See this 1997 Journal story or this 1998 memo to business leaders written by Gregg Foster, then with the Humboldt Area Foundation.) In the years since, the Harbor District has updated its economic strategy several times, including a 2007 strategic plan that relied on more current data and analysis.

The Quigley report is so old that the harbor district doesn't even keep it around anymore.

The Journal sent an email to each supervisor this morning asking for comment on the resolution.

Second District Supervisor Clif Clendenen said he wanted to check with the harbor district -- the designated lead agency for all things port-related -- to make sure the resolution dovetails with its efforts, but he had yet to do so.

Third District Supervisor Mark Lovelace said, "I am concerned about the use of old and un-verifiable data, but I'm also concerned about bypassing both the Harbor District and our ongoing Prosperity 2012 process, and committing the County to two separate year-long planning processes without any defined scope, budget or staffing."

The processes Lovelace refers to are laid out in the resolution's six action items, which follow a long string of WHEREASes. The first process would commit the county to "developing within one year a cohesive and coordinated marketing plan ... to attract maritime-oriented businesses to Humboldt Bay." 

The second process would have the county work with the harbor district to "create a one-year planning process" to boost port activity by 2025.

Port marketing and development are already within the purview of the harbor district.

The resolution also asks the board to commit to supporting -- and promoting -- a rail connection to the national rail system, deep-draft container shipping, an offshore fishing reef, a marine highway and more.

We have yet to hear from Supervisors Bohn, Bass or Fifth District Supervisor Ryan Sundberg.

We also sent an email to Susana Munzell, the Humboldt Bay Harbor Working Group's citizen leader, asking why her group is relying on the Quigley report rather than a more recent analysis. We'll update you if she responds.

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Pedreros to be Hospitalized

Posted By on Tue, Dec 18, 2012 at 3:08 PM

Claudia Pedreros will be sent to a state mental hospital next month, her attorney said Tuesday, after being found not guilty by reason of insanity on Monday in the death of her daughter. Pedreros was accused of drowning the 2½ -year-old girl in the Trinity River in 2011. (See “Robert's Vow,” in the North Coast Journal in June 2011.)

Her trial had both a guilt phase and a sanity phase, and both concluded Monday, said attorney Russ Clanton. A jury found her guilty of involuntary manslaughter and child abuse then concluded she was insane at the time of those crimes. Times-Standard coverage of the verdict is here.

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It's Totally Snowing in Humboldt

Posted By on Tue, Dec 18, 2012 at 12:55 PM


Humboldtian Amy Barnes chronicled some real, legit snow outside her window in Fieldbrook Tuesday afternoon.

So there.


Dottie Simmons sent us this picture from a bit farther inland in Dinsmore. Uh, this is what snow looks like when it sticks, coastal dwellers.

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Mumps! (Update)

Posted By on Tue, Dec 18, 2012 at 10:37 AM

UPDATE: There are no confirmed cases of mumps in Humboldt County.

While saying he could not speak about any specific cases, public health nurse Eric Gordon, with the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services, says that locally, from 2003 through the present, the county has had only one confirmed case of mumps reported -- and that was in 2005.

Original post:

A Trinity Valley Elementary School student -- who had been immunized -- is battling the mumps. That's rare, reports the Two Rivers Tribune , which has the story in this week's edition:

This is the first reported case of the Mumps in the United States since 2009 where the person who contracted the virus was vaccinated and hadn't been outside of the U.S.


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Monday, December 17, 2012

Just in Time for Last Minute Shoppers

Posted By on Mon, Dec 17, 2012 at 9:21 PM

The New York Times comes out with a scathing indictment of Walmart bribery in Mexico:

"The Times’s examination reveals that Wal-Mart de Mexico was not the reluctant victim of a corrupt culture that insisted on bribes as the cost of doing business. Nor did it pay bribes merely to speed up routine approvals. Rather, Wal-Mart de Mexico was an aggressive and creative corrupter, offering large payoffs to get what the law otherwise prohibited. It used bribes to subvert democratic governance — public votes, open debates, transparent procedures. It used bribes to circumvent regulatory safeguards that protect Mexican citizens from unsafe construction. It used bribes to outflank rivals."

One hell of a read.


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Hoopa Cash

Posted By on Mon, Dec 17, 2012 at 6:04 PM

The post office and banks in the Hoopa Valley were inundated today as Hoopa Valley tribal members lined up to get their mail and then deposit their fresh-cut $10,000 checks. Outside the post office, the Hoopa Tribal Police posted a guard to keep things orderly.

The checks are part of a $49.2 million settlement reached this April between the Hoopa Valley Tribe and the United States. The tribe is one of 41 tribes who sued the federal government in 2006, accusing the Department of the Interior and the Department of the Treasury of mismanaging natural resources and revenues, in some cases going back as far as 100 years. Ryan Jackson, a tribal council member, says the Hoopa Valley Tribe claimed mismanagement of its timber and timber sales revenues going back to 1931.

"It wasn't sold for an amount that was fair market value, at times," Jackson said. "Revenues were not invested properly, and in some cases revenues were stolen."

The total settlement among all of the suing tribes was $1 billion.

The Hoopa Valley Tribe's been divided on how to divvy up its $49.2 million portion. Some wanted it distributed equally among members. Others wanted some of it invested in tribal programs, especially for youth and elders, and the rest of it distributed equally among members. Those who wanted it all distributed circulated a petition and gained more than 50 percent of the voting membership in signatures. On Nov. 15, the tribal council voted 6-1 against full distribution and to distribute 65 percent ($32 million) of the settlement to its members. Jackson was the dissenting vote.

"We had a petition signed by more than 50 percent of the voting members for full distribution, and I took that as a clear sign of the will of the people," he said.

In a guest editorial in the local newspaper in September, the Two Rivers Tribune, the tribe's vice chairman, Byron Nelson, Jr., complained that some tribal members were "willing to discard tribalism for individual gain for less money than the price of a new car."

"This settlement money will be the last windfall the tribe will see in a great while," he wrote. "With the drastic decline in the value of our timber and the expected cutbacks in federal funding, tough times are surely ahead. Now is the time to shore up programs that support the most vulnerable."

Jackson said the tribe will hold a special election on Jan. 3 to determine the fate of the remaining 35 percent of the settlement: whether to divvy it, too, equally among tribal members, or to invest it in tribal programs.

Last Friday, the tribe cut the checks of $10,000 apiece to its 3,100 members. It mailed 2,217 of those checks to the adult members of the tribe, and today the checks arrived in their mailboxes. The rest -- the portion going to underage members -- will be deposited in an account set aside for minors, from which they receive a distribution when they reach adulthood.

And how do people plan to spend their ten thousand bucks?

"I think most people are going to pay bills," Jackson said. "I'll probably pay some of my bills. Or I'll save it or make improvements to my home."

It's possible local car dealers are hoping to hone in on some of the bounty, as well. Jackson said he'd noticed more car ads than usual, lately, in the tribal newspaper.

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Friday, December 14, 2012

John (Still) Says "Forgive"

Posted By on Fri, Dec 14, 2012 at 5:44 PM


A small plaque has appeared on the white wall of the Clarke Museum near where John Tutuska used to sit meditating in the sun. Tutuska, well-known and beloved by many in town, died in October, and Clarke Street Plaza overflowed with mourners several weeks after. One of his dying requests, says his friend Lynna Ridgeway, was that a plaque be placed on the wall with a saying he chose from "A Course in Miracles," a book whose guidance he followed and shared with others.

The Clarke Museum approved the request, Ridgeway used money from Tutuska's estate to produce the plaque, and on Dec. 7 the museum's incoming board president, Roy Sheppard, installed it.

Ridgeway says Tutuska chose a statement from the "Course" that "means that when an old grievance is forgiven it becomes a sacred experience enlightening the time and space around it." She adds:

"John loved his neighborhood so much that he often said there was nowhere better on earth to be. Perhaps his own heart became the holy spot on earth as he forgave his own ancient grievances while he sat in the sun and meditated on these teachings. He shared it then, and he wished to share something there at that spot that would encourage others to forgive."

Long-time Old Town frequenters likely will recall the sign Tutuska placed in his apartment window, above Ramone's, that simply said, "Forgive."

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Pain Doc Loses Her License

Posted By on Fri, Dec 14, 2012 at 4:32 PM


Effective at 5 p.m. today, former Eureka doctor Fran Day will not be allowed to practice medicine in the state of California.

The doctor's license already had been suspended for more than two years. Today the Medical Board of California officially revoked it, after Day, who specialized in pain treatment and psychiatry and practiced medicine since 1989, failed to respond or file a Notice of Defense to accusations filed with the medical board against her by several patients in October 2010.

Day's accusers said she "engaged in repeated acts of unprofessional conduct" and gross negligence, including prescribing lithium to a patient who had tried to commit suicide with a lithium overdose two weeks before; prescribing controlled substances to addicts; prescribing drugs without first conducting an examination and checking with the patients' other doctors and consulting medical records; and prescribing "excessive doses of controlled substances." Day also was accused of being "grossly negligent in her management" of a patient who had an overdose.

That latter patient, called "E.C." in the medical board's documents, also complained to the Humboldt County District Attorney's office, and the D.A. filed charges in April 2011 accusing Day of prescribing controlled substances to five patients, including E.C., known to be addicts; self-prescribing a controlled substance; and delaying or obstructing an emergency medical technician. (The Journal reported on this alleged incident back in March 2010, after Day had disappeared and taken with her all of her patients' medical records. The mother of the patient claimed Day clung to the ambulance as it tried to drive away. Day told us her side of the story in July 2010.)

In September 2011, Day pled no contest to four counts of felony prescribing to an addict. She was sentenced to four years probation, 90 days in custody and 500 community service hours. She also was ordered not to practice medicine.

The license-revoking decision issued by the medical board says that because Day has not appealed the court decision within the time allowed, the order that she not practice medicine is upheld.

You can read the entire decision by the medical board, including opinions from a medical expert on the various drugs Day prescribed for patients with conditions including bi-polar disorder, on the board's website.



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Guarding Hoopa

Posted By on Fri, Dec 14, 2012 at 11:38 AM


The Hoopa Valley Tribe is forming a national guard, of sorts, to protect the land and tribal members from the human dangers that lurk in its woods, the Two Rivers Tribune reports. The new Hoopa Tribal Citizen Corps arose in response to "months of incidents caused by non-tribal members trespassing on tribal lands."

The Tribune story offers many examples of these scary run-ins, including this one:

On the evening of October 14 and early morning of October 15, four young men from Hoopa were on an outing in the woods eight or nine miles up Mill Creek Road when they stumbled across an illegal white plastic irrigation line that stretched as far as they could see.

Within minutes they were being hunted through the woods with gunshots ringing in the air. The ordeal lasted more than four hours.

They were eventually rescued after they texted a friend, who relayed the messages to Hoopa Tribal Police.

Go read the story.

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Marine Protected Areas to Go Active Next Week

Posted By on Thu, Dec 13, 2012 at 4:28 PM


The map above (click to enlarge) shows the location and dimensions of the new marine protected areas that will go into effect next Wednesday, Dec. 19. These "underwater parks" are the result of a long and at times contentious process, though stakeholders here on the north coast managed to reach consensus on where the protected areas should be located. (No other region in the state managed that feat.)

As with state parks, the marine protected areas are designed to preserve precious and sensitive ecosystems from human disturbance.

Here's a press release issued earlier today by Ocean Conservancy and the Natural Resources Defense Council:

On December 19, Californians will celebrate the grand opening of a series of underwater parks -- also called marine protected areas -- that aim to create a more sustainable future for the north coast region's coastal economy and environment. They complete a statewide network of havens that make California a national leader in ocean conservation.

"The ocean is at the heart of California's life, culture and economy," said Jennifer Savage, Ocean Conservancy's north coast program coordinator. "This milestone is important for all Californians and ocean users, as it safeguards these special coastal places and resources now and for generations to come."

The 19 underwater parks span from just south of Fort Bragg up to the Oregon border, covering approximately 137 square miles, or 13 percent of the region. They include Pyramid Point's rugged coastline; Point St. George Reef, home to the second largest nesting seabird colony south of Alaska; and waters at the mouth of waterways like Ten Mile River that are critical for salmon and steelhead populations.

The protected areas were created through the landmark Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) of 1999. ...

"It took over a decade -- and legions of citizens putting heart and soul into the effort -- to get to this point. The result is phenomenal: a necklace of protected underwater gems encompassing our whole coastline," said Karen Garrison of the Natural Resources Defense Council. "California finally has a system of Yosemites in the sea."  

The network protects an average of nearly 16 percent of California waters, an impressive accomplishment considering that only 1.6 percent of the world's oceans are afforded similar protections.

In the north coast, local fishermen, divers, tribes, business owners and conservationists put aside their differences and came together to design the marine protected areas and promote sustainable uses, from fishing and gathering to diving and kayaking. Traditional non-commercial tribal uses will continue with no additional restrictions in the 13 State Marine Conservation Areas, in which limited recreational and commercial fishing will also be allowed. 

"We thank the Creator, and are very pleased that North Coast residents stood in solidarity with the tribes," said Priscilla Hunter, chairwoman of the InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council. "With the new protections and our people's careful continued stewardship, future generations will be able to live our tribal traditions and enjoy the ocean's gifts."

The Sinkyone Council is a consortium of 10 federally recognized tribes based in Mendocino and Lake Counties that retain cultural and ancestral connections to the coast and marine waters of Mendocino and southern Humboldt. Along with more than 20 tribes, the Council was actively involved in the North Coast's MLPA process.

Many of the 19 new protected areas are located adjacent to public beaches and state parks, creating great opportunities for education, research, and recreation. They allow a wide range of recreational uses such as swimming, surfing, kayaking and wildlife viewing but are protected from some or all harvest of ocean life to allow ecosystems to thrive. 

Scientific studies show that well designed marine protected areas have a greater diversity of species, making them more resilient, and more and bigger fish and other sea creatures, relative to fished areas in similar habitat. Because big fish have more and healthier young, these areas can be engines of productivity.

For more information visit www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa or www.caloceans.org.


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