Government

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Eureka Mayor Slams County, Legal Cannabis

Posted By on Sat, Oct 21, 2017 at 12:46 PM

jager.jpg
The Eureka City Council unanimously approved several hot-button issues on Tuesday night despite an unprecedented amount of pushback from Mayor Frank Jager and a smatter of spirited public comment.

The first item to be pulled from the consent calendar for discussion, and the least  controversial, was the official swearing-in of Police Chief Steve Watson. City Manager Greg Sparks, speaking about the decision to choose the former captain as Eureka’s top cop job, said it can be “difficult to recruit people into Humboldt County.” Of the 10 candidates for the position, Watson was the most qualified, according to Sparks.

“We decided to end the recruitment process when it became clear that Chief Watson was our best candidate,” said Sparks.

The council voted unanimously to accept Sparks’ recommendation and stood to applaud after Jager swore Watson in. After taking the oath of office, Watson said the appointment was “very humbling.”


Continue reading »

  • Pin It
  • Favorite
  • Email

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday, October 20, 2017

Hearing Set in Public Defender Case Amid Settlement Offer, Allegations of Delay Tactics

Posted By on Fri, Oct 20, 2017 at 2:28 PM

Humboldt County Public Defender David Marcus in his sparsely decorated Eureka office. - PHOTO BY MARK MCKENNA
  • Photo by Mark McKenna
  • Humboldt County Public Defender David Marcus in his sparsely decorated Eureka office.
The Humboldt County Superior Court has set a hearing next month to determine whether embattled Public Defender David Marcus meets the minimum state qualifications to hold his job. But Patrik Griego, the attorney who brought the lawsuit challenging Marcus’ hire, is worried the county is engaging in a pattern of “gamesmanship” intended to delay the lawsuit until it becomes moot.

On Sept. 22, visiting Judge Marjorie Carter denied a county request to dismiss the lawsuit, which alleges Marcus didn’t meet the minimum state qualification for the position requiring any candidate to have been a “practicing attorney in all the courts of the state for at least the year preceding” his or her hire.

Marcus, whom the board of supervisors hired Feb. 8, was living in Florida at the time of his hire and had been primarily working as an insurance adjuster for the year prior. During a deposition in the case, Marcus testified that during that year he also worked as a contract attorney for the Walnut Creek law firm Cella, Lange and Cella, which is owned by his good friend, but conceded he didn’t appear in court or author any legal pleadings during that span. He also also testified that he had no contract with the law firm and no records of his hours worked.

Continue reading »

  • Pin It
  • Favorite
  • Email

Tags: , , , , , ,

Monday, October 16, 2017

Potential Pot Farm Becomes Equine Therapy Center

Posted By on Mon, Oct 16, 2017 at 2:14 PM

FILE
  • File
Savanah McCarty, founder of the nonprofit Wild Souls Ranch, is preparing to move six horses, one pony and a whole lot of tack from Loleta to Fortuna. The nonprofit, which helps provide at-risk youth with equine-assisted growth and learning opportunities, is working out the terms of a donated piece of property just off of Hillside Drive. The property, in the 2800 block of Nelson Lane, was a source of concern for neighbors in the mostly residential area when, last spring, a cannabis entrepreneur applied for a permit to create a 55,000-square-foot cannabis farm and processing facility.

Because the area was "an island" within Fortuna's sphere of influence, technically county land zoned for agricultural use, it met the standards for the county's cannabis cultivation ordinance. But Hillside residents concerned about odor, road traffic and crime, flooded public meetings to voice their opposition and eventually formed a neighborhood association to challenge the permit. In May, the Nelson-Hillside Association filed a civil complaint against the county in Humboldt County Superior Court. (The Times Standard's Will Houston reported on the association and its lawsuit.)

Continue reading »

  • Pin It
  • Favorite
  • Email

Tags: , , , , ,

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Eureka Council to Ponder True Ward Map, Watson's Hiring and Another Chinn Village Tuesday

Posted By on Sat, Oct 14, 2017 at 10:36 AM

New, true wards? - CITY OF EUREKA
  • CITY OF EUREKA
  • New, true wards?
On Tuesday the Eureka City Council will decide whether to approve new ward boundaries under the city’s True Ward system and whether to move forward with a new transitional housing project spearheaded by Betty Chinn.

Included on the city’s consent calendar (items to be passed in one motion without discussion) are a change to the salary system for the city’s police chief, a renewal of the city’s partnership with Betty’s Blue Angel Village and the formal appointment of Police Chief Steve Watson.

Watson, whose annual salary as a captain in 2016 was $121,203, according to TransparentCalifornia.com, will be entering the position with a base salary of $135,713 and a standard at-will employment agreement. A new resolution, scheduled to be approved by the council along with his appointment, would institute a five step salary range for his position, with a 5-percent differential between steps, capping the chief’s salary at $149,625. Watson’s predecessor, Andrew Mills, earned $157,302 in 2016. The rationale for the change in salary classification, according to the language of the resolution, is that the police chief’s position is currently “the only city manager appointed at-will position without a five step range.”

Gary Bird, the city’s personnel director, emailed the Journal to clarify that while Watson’s salary is currently capped at $149K, the council has at times “authorized changes in compensation and benefits” and thus it might be subject to some loosening in the future. Watson’s position is classified as “unrepresented,” meaning he won’t be represented in collective bargaining by his agency’s union.



Continue reading »

  • Pin It
  • Favorite
  • Email

Tags: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

UPDATED: No Report Out of Closed Door Evaluation of Public Defender

Posted By on Tue, Oct 10, 2017 at 5:08 PM

Humboldt County Public Defender David Marcus in his sparsely decorated Eureka office. - PHOTO BY MARK MCKENNA
  • Photo by Mark McKenna
  • Humboldt County Public Defender David Marcus in his sparsely decorated Eureka office.
UPDATE:
The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors announced no final actions when reconvening out of closed session today.

PREVIOUSLY (Oct. 8):
The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors will meet in closed session Tuesday to review the job performance of embattled Public Defender David Marcus.

The closed-session review comes eight months into Marcus’ tenure and about two weeks after a visiting Humboldt County Superior Court judge denied a county request to dismiss a lawsuit alleging Marcus doesn’t meet minimum state qualifications for his job. It also comes as staffing issues in the office have bubbled into public view, with the departure of four experienced attorneys in an eight-week period, which prompted a four-month continuance in a high-profile murder case. (One of the exiting attorneys, Heidi Holmquist, was highly critical of Marcus on her way out the door.)

It’s unclear exactly why Marcus is up for review this week. He underwent a closed session performance evaluation back in April, when the board emerged with a statement of support for him. At the time, county spokesman Sean Quincey said department head reviews typically occur annually in the fall but that sometimes the board will opt to do them early in a new employee’s tenure to “outline goals and objectives” soon after the hiring process. (This is apparently the case with the county’s new human resources director, Lisa DeMatteo, who’s also being evaluated Tuesday after a couple months on the job.)

We’ll update this post with any reports out of closed session on Tuesday. In the meantime, find more on Marcus’ background here and more on the lawsuit and conditions in the office here.

  • Pin It
  • Favorite
  • Email

Tags: , , , , ,

Friday, October 6, 2017

Eureka Welcomes Recreational Pot, Embraces Ward Recommendations

Posted By on Fri, Oct 6, 2017 at 10:57 AM

Eureka development director Rob Holmlund - STILL FROM MEETING VIDEO
  • Still from meeting video
  • Eureka development director Rob Holmlund
After a lengthy presentation by Eureka Development Services Director Rob Holmlund, a series of clarifying questions by the councilmembers and a largely positive round of public comment, the Eureka City Council approved a broad set of staff recommendations that essentially welcome recreational marijuana businesses within city limits.

The decision came in advance of the implementation of state laws around adult recreational use of marijuana, due to take effect in January. Other cities, including Fortuna, have proactively restricted commercial cannabis sales and distribution to a degree more stringent than state law permits. Eureka's approach toward the industry appears to be on the laxer end of the spectrum, with commercial cannabis testing labs, manufacturing facilities, dispensaries and indoor grows all on the table.

Continue reading »

  • Pin It
  • Favorite
  • Email

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Eureka City Council Set to Expand Boundaries, Redraw Wards, Fight Mold

Posted By on Sun, Oct 1, 2017 at 9:08 AM

The current Eureka City Council. - COURTESY OF THE CITY OF EUREKA
  • Courtesy of the city of Eureka
  • The current Eureka City Council.
On Tuesday, the Eureka City Council will tackle several topics that could have long-lasting impacts on the city. First, the ward redistricting ad hoc committee, which has been meeting for two months to discuss where the lines for the city's five wards should fall, will present its findings. With two current city councilmembers (Natalie Arroyo and Kim Bergel, wards 5 and 3 respectively) up for re-election, and another terming out (Marian Brady, Ward 1) in 2018, the district boundaries for these three wards could tip the balance of future council decisions, especially now that the city has switched to a true ward voting system.

The city will also hold a public hearing on the potential annexation of four parcels currently held by California Redwood Co. The company, a subsidiary of Green Diamond Resource Co., itself a spin-off of the Simpson Timber Co., stopped processing redwood in 2014 and shut down its operations in Humboldt County in 2015. The currently unincorporated land, where the company once had its corporate offices, has been sitting vacant ever since. Boundary maps show a little bump of blue land next to U.S. Highway 101, facing the bay, surrounded by red, city-zoned land. Should the city annex the property, it would provide city services such as water, power and law enforcement.

According to Rob Holmlund, director of community development for the city, the reason the land wasn't incorporated into the city to begin with is an "old and complicated story that goes back to the 1950s."


Continue reading »

  • Pin It
  • Favorite
  • Email

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Monday, September 25, 2017

Eureka Names Watson Police Chief

Posted By on Mon, Sep 25, 2017 at 5:31 PM

Pending City Council approval, former Capt. Steve Watson has been named the city's next police chief. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • Pending City Council approval, former Capt. Steve Watson has been named the city's next police chief.

The city of Eureka announced this afternoon that it’s looking to drop the "interim" from interim Police Chief Steve Watson’s title.

In a press release, the city announced that City Manager Greg Sparks has offered Watson the position and the former captain has accepted. The hire will now go before the Eureka City Council on Oct. 17 for its approval.


Continue reading »

  • Pin It
  • Favorite
  • Email

Tags: , , , , ,

Friday, September 22, 2017

Judge Allows Public Defender Lawsuit to Proceed Amid Attorney Exodus

Posted By on Fri, Sep 22, 2017 at 11:38 AM

Humboldt County Public Defender David Marcus in his sparsely decorated Eureka office. - PHOTO BY MARK MCKENNA
  • Photo by Mark McKenna
  • Humboldt County Public Defender David Marcus in his sparsely decorated Eureka office.
A visiting Humboldt County Superior Court judge ruled this morning that a case challenging the hiring of controversial Public Defender David Marcus can continue, finding sufficient facts have been alleged to hold a hearing to determine whether he meets minimum state qualifications for the post.

The county of Humboldt had asked Judge Marjorie Carter to dismiss the case brought shortly after Marcus’ February hire, arguing that the suit was a “frivolous and baseless,” an “artificial legal controversy” brought by people “fuming about the merits of the political appointment.”

Carter’s ruling came as turmoil in Marcus’ office has bubbled into public view, amid an exodus of experienced attorneys from the office and the continuance of a high-profile murder case due to a resulting staffing crisis.

Continue reading »

  • Pin It
  • Favorite
  • Email

Tags: , , , , , ,

Monday, September 18, 2017

County Warns Employees Personal Info May Have Been Compromised

Posted By on Mon, Sep 18, 2017 at 5:39 PM

Humboldt County Courthouse - FILE
  • file
  • Humboldt County Courthouse
The county of Humboldt just sent a letter to all of its more than 2,000 employees, warning that their personal information — including driver's license numbers, social security numbers and bank routing information — may have been compromised.

According to the letter, it’s unclear how many county employees this affects.

In the letter, which is signed by Sheriff William Honsal and County Administrative Officer Amy Nilsen, the county states that the sheriff’s office received an anonymous tip that led to its serving a search warrant in Trinity County, where it recovered “several file boxes” of county documents, including payroll records.

Honsal told the Journal that the tip came via a Trinity County sheriff's deputy who had been approached by a resident there who said he'd recovered what appeared to be Humboldt County payroll records from a residence. The Trinity County Sheriff's Office then alerted Humboldt County on Sept. 7, and Honsal put an investigative team on it that readied a search warrant for the residence in question.

Continue reading »

  • Pin It
  • Favorite
  • Email

Tags: , , , , ,

Recent Comments

socialize

Facebook | Twitter

© 2017 North Coast Journal

Website powered by Foundation

humboldt