Saturday, May 20, 2017

Arcata Moves Forward With Sanctuary City Status

Posted By on Sat, May 20, 2017 at 11:56 AM

The Arcata City Council took the first steps toward becoming a sanctuary city this week in a reversal of position from one month ago when a divided board stopped just short of the declaration.

After the 4-1 vote on May 16, Councilmember Michael Winkler stated he supported the body of the ordinance but cast his dissenting vote due to fears the specific wording of sanctuary city would “put a weapon in Trump’s hands.”

He emphasized that he was adamantly opposed to the “fascist (President Donald) Trump regime and all its immigration policies and many other policies.”

“I don’t want to give them the power to punish us and the people of Arcata,” Winkler said.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

$5M Awarded for Last Chance Grade Studies

Posted By on Wed, May 17, 2017 at 4:03 PM

A tractor trailer passes one of the retaining walls on the grade. - PHOTO BY MARK MCKENNA
  • Photo by Mark McKenna
  • A tractor trailer passes one of the retaining walls on the grade.
The California Transportation Commission has allocated $5 million to fund the environmental and geotechnical studies needed to build an alternative route around Last Chance Grade, the long-failing portion of U.S. Highway 101 just south of Crescent City.

The offices of Congressman Jared Huffman and state Sen. Mike McGuire announced the development today, the first step in what is expected to be a lengthy planning and construction process that currently has an estimated completion date of 2039.

“I thank the California Transportation Commission for recognizing the importance of finding a long-term and durable solution for Last Chance Grade and for providing the much-needed support to move this process forward,” Huffman states in the release.

The 3-mile stretch of highway, which has shifted 50 feet since 1937, has been plagued by landslides since the first wagon road was cut there more than 120 years ago.

“Due in part to the support of the community, lawmakers, and stakeholder groups, Caltrans is now a step closer in the development of a long-term solution at Last Chance Grade,” Caltrans District 1 Director Matt Brady states in the announcement from Huffman’s office.

There are currently six proposed alternative routes for the vital link between Crescent City and points south, with price tags ranging from $300 million to $1 billion. Each one comes with its own set of major obstacles, including old growth redwoods, challenging terrain and sites of cultural significance to local tribes.

Read previous North Coast Journal coverage of the challenges facing the project here and here.

Read the full release from Congressman Jared Huffman's office below:
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) today announced that the California Transportation Commission (CTC) has awarded $5 million in funding for Last Chance Grade, the slide-prone stretch of U.S. Highway 101 between Klamath and Crescent City.

“Resolving the issues at Last Chance Grade is vital both for my constituents’ safety and to keep California’s far North Coast connected to the greater region,” said Rep. Huffman. “I thank the California Transportation Commission for recognizing the importance of finding a long-term and durable solution for Last Chance Grade and for providing the much-needed support to move this process forward.”

“Due in part to the support of the community, lawmakers, and stakeholder groups, Caltrans is now a step closer in the development of a long-term solution at Last Chance Grade,” said Caltrans District 1 Director, Matt Brady. “While this amount is not enough to complete all of the studies required, it is positive movement towards developing a project that meets everyone’s needs.”

Earlier this month, Rep. Huffman was joined by Assemblyman Jim Wood and Senator Mike McGuire in sending a letter to the CTC supporting Caltrans’ request for funding.

This letter was accompanied by dozens of additional support letters from local governments, tribes, environmental groups, landowners, businesses and transportation interests who rely on the integrity of this stretch of the highway.

The funding will allow Caltrans to begin conducting the necessary environmental and geotechnical investigations of potential alignments of the highway around Last Chance Grade. This is a critical step to protecting the safety and economy of Del Norte County and the people and commerce that travel U.S. Highway 101.

Read the release from state Sen. Mike McGuire's office below:
Sacramento, CA – The California Transportation Commission voted today to approve $5 million for initial environmental work related to the permanent solution for Last Chance Grade. Senator McGuire, Assemblymember Wood and Congressman Huffman have been fighting for these funds for the past many months.

“Advancing a permanent solution – moving the Last Chance Grade off of the coast and constructing an inland route – is a top priority to all of us,” Senator McGuire said. “This has been a team effort with Congressman Huffman, Assemblymember Wood and Caltrans to advance these funds which will kick off the process to evaluate alternative proposed routes for Last Chance Grade and we are excited that after decades of work, we are finally taking steps to make a permanent fix.”

Assemblymember Wood, Senator McGuire and Congressman Huffman have been working closely with Del Norte County Supervisors, Crescent City leaders and state transportation officials, and earlier this year hosted on-site meetings at the Last Chance Grade after portions of the highway collapsed, closing and damaging the road.

“It’s unacceptable that it has taken decades to get Del Norte County residents a safe and reliable highway, and it’s our top priority to get this permanent solution moving,” Senator McGuire said.

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Monday, May 15, 2017

DA: Officers 'Acted Lawfully' in Fatal McKinleyville Standoff Shooting

Posted By on Mon, May 15, 2017 at 3:44 PM

Sheriff Mike Downey recounts the events of the standoff  at a press conference. - LINDA STANSBERRY
  • Linda Stansberry
  • Sheriff Mike Downey recounts the events of the standoff at a press conference.
District Attorney Maggie Fleming found officers “acted lawfully” when they fatally shot a McKinleyville man after a lengthy standoff at an apartment complex in August.

David Alan Fulton, 59, who had a history of mental health issues, was killed about 2 a.m. after emerging from his flame-engulfed apartment and firing rounds at SWAT team members, some 17 hours after law enforcement was first called to the scene.

The standoff saw the evacuation of surrounding neighborhoods and a backup SWAT team dispatched from Mendocino County. Crisis negotiators were unable to talk Fulton into surrendering. While the DA's release did not name the officers involved, the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office in August identified Humboldt County deputy James Mowrey as the officer who exchanged gunfire with Fulton shortly after 9 a.m. on Aug. 17.

The office identified those involved with the fatal encounter as Lt. Jason Caudillo, Sgt. Joseph Comer, deputy Ze Manuel Lima and deputy Corey Bender, all from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, and Ukiah police officer Jason Chapman.

“Unfortunately, the peaceful end to the incident well-sought by law enforcement was prevented by Mr.
Fulton’s violent actions,” the District Attorney’s Office press release states. “District Attorney Maggie
Fleming contacted Mr. Fulton’s mother, expressed her deep regret for her loss and notified her of this decision.”

Read the full release below:
District Attorney Maggie Fleming has concluded her review of the fatal officer-involved shooting in McKinleyville on August 18, 2016.
On Wednesday, August 17, 2016, at about 9 a.m., the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) Communications Center received a 911 call from the area of 1770 Sutter Road, Redwood Creek Apartments, McKinleyville. The caller reported multiple gunshots within the apartment complex. Responding HCSO deputies learned that a disgruntled tenant, David Fulton, had fired a rifle across the interior parking lot at the manager’s office. Mr. Fulton was known to on-site management to have “long term mental health issues” and had telephoned numerous threats to them that morning. As HCSO deputies arrived, Mr. Fulton fired additional gunshots. One of the deputies returned fire. Mr. Fulton was not hit but retreated back inside his upstairs apartment. He remained there despite directions to exit the building from the law enforcement officers who surrounded the building. The officers learned Mr. Fulton’s female companion was also inside the apartment.

The HCSO set up a command post near the scene and secured a perimeter with the assistance of other agencies. HCSO Captain Thompson requested the assistance of the Humboldt County SWAT team. An additional SWAT team from Mendocino County was also summoned. SWAT team members began evacuating neighbors around 11 a.m. Crisis negotiators and Humboldt County mental health personnel were also on scene by 11 a.m.
Mental health personnel assisted and advised the crisis negotiation team who used a public address system to make numerous attempts to coax Mr. Fulton into coming out of his apartment and surrendering. He could be heard shouting unintelligibly, but he refused to come out. At about 1 a.m. – nearly 14 hours after law enforcement were called to the scene - Mr. Fulton fired additional shots. SWAT personnel used a light/sound distraction device to break out the front window. About 20 minutes later, Mr. Fulton’s female companion emerged from the apartment unharmed. Mr. Fulton fired more shots and the surrounding officers saw a fire growing inside the apartment. At about 2 a.m. Mr. Fulton emerged from the apartment as it became engulfed in flames, firing his rifle at the SWAT team members, striking their vehicle. They returned fire, killing him.

The Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) investigated the fatal shooting and the events leading up to it. (The CIRT team is composed of law enforcement personnel from other county law enforcement agencies and investigators from the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office.) In this case they were assisted by forensic scientists from the California Department of Justice and Humboldt County Fire/Arson Investigators. CIRT investigators conducted extensive recorded interviews of participants and observers of the incident and supervised the collection of physical evidence. Although the exact cause of the fire could not be determined the light/sound distraction device, electrical and natural gas appliances were all eliminated as causing the fire. The autopsy on Mr. Fulton revealed injuries from the fire and gunshot wounds consistent with the reports of the witnesses. Toxicological analyses showed he had taken two different prescription psychotropic drugs prior to the incident.

In the course of their duties, law enforcement officers may use deadly force in response to deadly force used or threatened against them. District Attorney Fleming’s review of the investigative reports on this case leads her to conclude the officers acted lawfully. Unfortunately, the peaceful end to the incident well-sought by law enforcement was prevented by Mr. Fulton’s violent actions. District Attorney Maggie Fleming contacted Mr. Fulton’s mother, expressed her deep regret for her loss and notified her of this decision.

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Sunday, May 14, 2017

UPDATED: More Parks for Eureka?

Posted By on Sun, May 14, 2017 at 8:20 AM

Harvey II, member of the Eureka-Kamisu Sister City Association, poses with the redwoods planted by Kamisu officials. - HOLLY HARVEY
  • Holly Harvey
  • Harvey II, member of the Eureka-Kamisu Sister City Association, poses with the redwoods planted by Kamisu officials.


Miles Slattery reached out to the Journal to clarify on a couple of points, first emphasizing that turning the landscaped areas into parks would not increase his staff’s workload. He also said there has been a miscommunication between the Kamisu City representatives and the Sister City Association.

“We were originally told they wanted to provide 100 trees by members of the Association,” said Slattery in an email. “However in discussion with Kamisu City representatives, this is not the case. We originally proposed around 40 trees to their representative. They felt that was too big of a project. After many back and forth emails discussing various options, they committed to a minimum of five trees depending on what the proposed pocket park will accommodate. We are working to see how many trees the proposed area will accommodate and will be working with them on securing the trees. They are planning on a late January early February 2018 visit to Eureka to plant the trees.”


Next Tuesday the Eureka City Council will vote on whether to create two more parks in the city — "pocket" parks designed to occupy existing landscaped areas. The tiny parks, one at Fourth and Q streets, and the other at Broadway and Fairfield, would serve a spectrum of needs.

The Fourth and Q streets location would become a small cherry blossom orchard, honoring Eureka's sister city, Kamisu, Japan. Kamisu, which has its own small redwood forest in honor of Eureka, offered to donate the 100 trees several years ago but, according to the Eureka-Kamisu Sister City Association, no appropriate location had been found. The 4,000 square foot triangle at Broadway and Fairfield Street would rechristened Coast Guard Park, commemorating Eureka's status as a Coast Guard City.

According to the language in the agenda item, "Eureka is one of only 21 cities designated by Congress as Coast Guard Cities, and the first of only three cities in California to receive the distinction."

Eureka Parks and Recreation Director Miles Slattery has said in the past that the current parks budget is inadequate to properly maintain existing properties, which include 600 acres of space spread across 13 parks, nine playgrounds and six ball fields, as well as all landscaped areas around city properties. So why would adding cherry trees and a sign honoring the Coast Guard be a boon rather than a burden for Parks and Rec?

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Sunday, May 7, 2017

Eureka Visitor's Center to Close During Bid Process

Posted By on Sun, May 7, 2017 at 9:43 AM

After more than 40 years, the Eureka Visitor’s Center on Broadway is slated to close at the end of next month while the city completes a competitive bid process for the service during peak tourist season.

Eureka councilmembers voted 4-1 last week — with Councilmember Marian Brady dissenting — not to extend funding after the Greater Eureka Chamber of Commerce’s $110,000 annual contract ends June 30.

The city voiced its intention last year to take the bid route — with bids due in June with the selection process expected in August. Any selected operator is required to have the center up and running by January of 2018.

The chamber had submitted a $13,500 per month proposal to keep the doors open in the interim, which equates to $81,000 to cover the anticipated six-month gap — a roughly $4,000 a month more than the current agreement.

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Thursday, May 4, 2017

Huffman, Humboldt Residents, Decry House Passage of 'TrumpCare'

Posted By on Thu, May 4, 2017 at 3:30 PM

John and Micha Denizio - THAD GREENSON
  • Thad Greenson
  • John and Micha Denizio
Shortly after H.R. 1628 passed by a narrow margin in the House of Representatives, Rep. Jared Huffman's office fired off a press release denouncing the passage of "TrumpCare" as a "disaster." The bill, which includes an amendment that may remove coverage for patients with pre-existing conditions, can still be altered significantly in the Senate. Huffman isn't having it.

“At its core, TrumpCare is a massive tax break for the wealthiest of Americans," said Huffman, "with the Republican Congress playing the role of a ‘reverse Robin Hood’: robbing health care from millions of Americans in order to hand out $600 billion in tax breaks to our country’s richest people and largest corporations."

California Secretary of Treasury John Chiang also released a statement about the bill, saying, “In less than 24 hours, Congress has left 7.5 million Californians careening toward an impoverished retirement and four million Californians at risk of losing their healthcare."

According to a press release from the nonprofit Justice in Aging, the bill is also expected to have an outsized impact on older Californians, potentially raising increasing the annual cost of coverage for those in the 50-64 age group by as much as $12,900 and slashing Medicaid funding.

Only two people, John and Micha Denizio, showed up to a last-minute protest at the Humboldt County Courthouse at around 1:30 this afternoon, but another protest has been planned for 5 p.m. today, this one in response to an executive order signed by President Donald Trump that would allow religious groups to openly support political causes and candidates. The "Religious Liberty" Bill also has provisions that will exempt religious groups from having to pay for contraception for employees and staff.

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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Dozens Gather for May Day Protest in Fortuna (with Video)

Posted By on Tue, May 2, 2017 at 3:30 PM

Leila Roberts spoke to the crowd about supporting documented and undocumented immigrants in our community. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • Leila Roberts spoke to the crowd about supporting documented and undocumented immigrants in our community.
Around 35 demonstrators gathered in front of the Fortuna City Hall on Monday to show support for a proposed sanctuary ordinance being considered by the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors. Those in attendance also mentioned that May 1 is International Workers Day and made mentions of the demonstrations taking place around the globe today.

Renee Saucedo, of the community group Centro del Pueblo, organized the gathering and made the opening remarks to the crowd. She noted that, several years ago, May Day was adopted by the undocumented community. “It’s a day where we march and where we speak out,” said Saucedo. “No human being is illegal.”

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Sunday, April 30, 2017

Eureka Council Code Outlines How to do Unto Others, Each Other

Posted By on Sun, Apr 30, 2017 at 8:56 AM

The current Eureka City Council. - COURTESY OF THE CITY OF EUREKA
  • Courtesy of the city of Eureka
  • The current Eureka City Council.
Eureka councilmembers would be expected to use their words wisely — but not in support of a candidate running for council or in off-the-record conversations with journalists — under an ethics and conduct code under consideration at Tuesday’s meeting.

Adopted from the city of Sunnyvale, the 20-page document outlines how Eureka’s elected and appointed officials are expected to act with the public, the media, staff and each other — apparently the result of councilmembers raising the subject during a strategic visioning session.

The council has seen some fiery discussions erupt at the dais over the last year or so, especially when weighing such contentious items as homeless encampments and human rights resolutions.

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Saturday, April 29, 2017

State Lawmakers Look to Protect Coast from Trump Orders

Posted By on Sat, Apr 29, 2017 at 7:51 AM

Trinidad Head - DREW HYLAND
  • Drew Hyland
  • Trinidad Head

California’s iconic coast and offshore waters came under new threat not once, but twice this week as President Donald Trump signed executive orders aimed at undoing both land and ocean protections along the state’s coastline.

On Wednesday, Trump directed the Secretary of the Interior to review all or part of 24 monuments created by presidential proclamation since 1996 that make up 100,000 acres or more. North Coast residents wondering if the three Humboldt locations — Trinidad Head, Lighthouse Ranch and the Lost Coast Headlands — added by President Barack Obama to the California Coastal National Monument (CCNM) back in January would be affected don’t have a clear answer. While the CCNM isn’t expansive enough to be on the initial list, a second part of the order calls for review, "where the Secretary determines that the designation or expansion was made without adequate public outreach and coordination with relevant stakeholders.” So, while not immediately on the chopping block, California’s protected coastal lands aren’t exactly off it, either.

A similar announcement Friday morning that Trump signed an executive order opening the door to expanded offshore oil and gas drilling in federal waters off the California coast prompted even more immediate pushback from state leaders, lawmakers and coastal advocates. The move wasn’t unexpected — Just a few days ago North Coast Congressman Jared Huffman was asked about the possibility at a town hall meeting in Mendocino.

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Friday, April 28, 2017

'Heart' of Palco Marsh Case Allowed to Proceed

Posted By on Fri, Apr 28, 2017 at 9:44 AM

A camp in the PalCo Marsh. - FILE
  • File
  • A camp in the PalCo Marsh.
A federal judge dismissed portions of a lawsuit claiming that Eureka’s ordinances against camping and the storage of personal items in public spaces violate the Constitutional rights of homeless individuals but is allowing an amended complaint to be filed.

U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White also found the civil suit filed against the city by attorney Peter Martin could proceed on the Eighth Amendment claim that outlawing public camping without providing adequate shelters amounts to cruel and unusual punishment by making homelessness itself a crime.

Martin’s law partner Shelley Mack says a decision is still being made on whether to refile on the issues the judge left the door open to — allegations that the city's ordinance violate due process rights, protection against unreasonable search and seizure and the right to privacy.

“The Eighth Amendment claim is really the heart of the case and that is the claim that we are really focusing on,” she says.

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