Government

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Huffman to Town Hall Set for Monday in Crescent City

Posted By on Sat, Apr 8, 2017 at 8:13 AM

Huffman shares a laugh with his constituents during a town hall in Arcata. - BEAU SAUNDERS
  • Beau Saunders
  • Huffman shares a laugh with his constituents during a town hall in Arcata.
Congressman Jared Huffman will host another stop in his town hall series on Monday, this time in Crescent City, where he will take questions and talk about his priorities for representing the North Coast region in Congress.

According to his office, interested constituents are being asked to RSVP by visiting this Eventbrite website. A similar Arcata event held in February was moved to a larger venue when a resounding number of residents signed up over a 48-hour period.


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Friday, April 7, 2017

Huffman: Trump Should Have Sought Congress' Approval for Air Strike

Posted By on Fri, Apr 7, 2017 at 4:43 PM

Huffman - FILE
  • File
  • Huffman
North Coast Congressman Jared Huffman issued a statement this afternoon blasting President Donald Trump's "erratic, inconsistent and unilateral actions" and his decision to launch airstrikes on Syria last night.

In response to a chemical weapons attack reportedly launched by the Syrian government that killed more than 80 people on Tuesday, Trump authorized the firing of 59 missiles at the Syrian air base from which the chemical weapons attack was reportedly launched. According to the Syrian government, the missile strike killed 15 people.

In the lengthy statement, Huffman makes plain that he is appalled by the "atrocities" committed by Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad but argues Trump should have come to Congress for approval before taking unilateral military action. Further, Huffman argues the air strike has left the world confused as to where the United States actually stands. "Because within a matter of days, our President has careened from signaling a quasi-isolationist 'America First' policy that turns a blind eye to moral and humanitarian issues, to launching a military attack on Syria for humanitarian violations when our national security was not at risk," Huffman states.

In closing, Huffman asks congressional leaders to immediately reconvene the House and the Senate for a debate and vote on whether to authorize military force. See Huffman's full statement copied below.

Rep. Huffman Statement on U.S. Airstrikes in Syria
Rep. Huffman: “President Trump’s erratic, inconsistent, and unilateral actions underscore the importance of getting congressional authorization before using military force.”

Washington, D.C.- In response to the United States airstrikes in Syria, and the horrific use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime that prompted this action, Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) released the following statement:

“Like most Americans, I am appalled by atrocities Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad has been committing against his own people, including his recent use of banned chemical weapons which killed dozens of innocent men, women, and children. The United States should lead the world in holding the Assad regime, and its Russian enablers, accountable for war crimes through established international channels. However, I do not support President Trump’s decision last night to unilaterally launch missile attacks on Syria without congressional approval.

Congress’ approval of using military force is not only required by the Constitution; it is necessary to ensure that the President’s proposed military actions are appropriate, legitimate, and narrowly focused to prevent drawing us into a military quagmire or escalating the sectarian conflict in Syria into a broader regional war.

While many in Congress and the media will praise last night’s missile strikes as a show of strength and resolve, I see it differently. Launching a missile attack may be good for ratings in the short-term, but it is no substitute for a coherent policy and strategic vision. President Trump’s actions leave us with far more questions than answers about our role in Syria. Our friends and foes alike are confused as to where the U.S. actually stands. Because within a matter of days, our President has careened from signaling a quasi-isolationist “America First” policy that turns a blind eye to moral and humanitarian issues, to launching a military attack on Syria for humanitarian violations when our national security was not at risk.

I call upon Speaker Ryan and Senate Majority Leader McConnell to immediately reconvene the Congress to debate and vote on whether military force should be authorized, and if so, how to pay for it. Deciding to go to war is Congress’ most solemn responsibility. It should never be taken lightly and never abdicated, especially now, with the impulsive and erratic leadership we are seeing from our Commander in Chief.”

In the past, Rep. Huffman has also called on President Obama to consult Congress before the use of military force.

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Thursday, April 6, 2017

Arcata Affirms Commitment to All Residents, Stops Short of 'Sanctuary City'

Posted By on Thu, Apr 6, 2017 at 5:08 PM

arcata.jpg
The Arcata City Council last night threw its support behind a California bill that would bar the use of state and local law enforcement resources for federal immigration enforcement, but stopped short of taking on the designation of “sanctuary city” — for now.

After hearing from a steady stream of speakers overwhelmingly in favor of the stance, the board split 2-2 — with councilmembers Paul Pitino and Sofia Pereira in favor and Mayor Susan Ornelas and Councilmember Michael Winkler voicing concerns. The council agreed to bring back the item when a replacement for Mark Wheetley — who recently stepped down to become Fortuna’s city manager — was seated to break the tie.

The sanctuary city issue is now likely to be a hot topic when the seven candidates vying to fill the remainder of Wheetley’s term are interviewed next week. An appointment is expected by the end of the month.

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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Arcata Considers Sanctuary City Status

Posted By on Wed, Apr 5, 2017 at 3:32 PM

CITY OF ARCATA
  • City of Arcata
Officially labeling Arcata a “sanctuary city” or leaving out the phrase but reaffirming by resolution the city's commitment to “safeguarding the civil rights, safety and dignity” of all its residents — regardless of legal status — are among the options before the council at tonight’s meeting.

Former Councilmember Dave Meserve urged the council back in January to add “sanctuary city” to the wording of a unanimously-passed resolution that reiterated Arcata’s values of inclusion, respect and environmental responsibility, among others.

At the time, council members stated they thought there needed to be more community discussion given the weight of the term, especially after President Donald Trump signed what some say is a constitutionally-questionable executive order to withhold federal funding from cities, counties and states with sanctuary policies.

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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Large-Scale Drug Treatment Coming to the MAC?

Posted By on Tue, Apr 4, 2017 at 3:11 PM

A sign welcoming visitors to the MAC. - LINDA STANSBERRY
  • Linda Stansberry
  • A sign welcoming visitors to the MAC.
At long last, a large-scale alcohol and drug treatment facility complete with medical detox services may be coming to Humboldt County.

The Eureka City Council is slated tonight to receive a report on a proposal to add drug and alcohol treatment services to its Multiple Assistance Center, which currently serves as a homeless intake center for single adults through a program run by the Redwood Community Action Agency with funding from the county Department of Health and Human Services.

The proposal is in its infancy, but tonight city staff will brief the council on plans to transition part of the center into a Substance Use Disorder Treatment Program. “The facility is proposed to contain approximately 10 individuals in detox and up to 40 individuals in the treatment program who could transition into the existing transitional housing component for a maximum of two years,” the staff report states.


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Saturday, April 1, 2017

Almost 50 Guns Surrendered in Eureka Buy Back

Posted By on Sat, Apr 1, 2017 at 10:42 AM

Firearms seized at the scene of a methamphetamine bust last year. - COURTESY OF EPD
  • Courtesy of EPD
  • Firearms seized at the scene of a methamphetamine bust last year.
The Eureka Police Department took almost 50 guns off the streets last weekend in a two-day buy back program that gave people a chance to surrender their firearms, no questions asked.

Capt. Steve Watson said a total of 48 guns — 26 handguns, 12 shotguns and 10 rifles — were turned in during the event, which EPD is thinking about replicating in the future. Watson said he’ll be briefing the Eureka City Council on the program at Tuesday’s meeting.

The proactive approach to getting guns off Eureka’s streets comes as EPD is encountering firearms at a staggering rate. As a Journal cover story last year revealed, EPD was seizing about six guns per 1,000 city residents, a rate dwarfing those of more violent cities like Chicago, Oakland or Baltimore.

Last weekend’s buy-back program — which saw the department hand out more than $1,500 in gift cards to a couple of dozen people in exchange for their firearms — was designed to combat that, and help get guns off the street. No public funds were spent in the buy back, Watson said, as the gift cards were made possible by a $1,000 donation from Redwood Capital Bank, $500 from the Southwest Rotary of Eureka and a few hundred dollars from the Eureka Neighborhood Watch group.

The buy-back also came on the heels of EPD’s Project Safe Eureka Expo, a two-day event designed to promote gun safety and security at the Bayshore Mall. As also reported on our “Strapped” cover story last year, Eureka sees a very high rate of firearm thefts, which EPD Chief Andy Mills believes contributes greatly to the high rates at which his officers encounter guns in the hands of people who can’t legally possess them.

For more on the buy back, tune in to Tuesday’s Eureka City Council meeting, which will conclude with Watson’s presentation.



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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Deputy Public Defenders Tell Supes New Boss is 'Unqualified'

Posted By on Tue, Mar 28, 2017 at 9:29 AM

Public Defender staff gathered with now retired Public Defender Kevin Robinson (center).
  • Public Defender staff gathered with now retired Public Defender Kevin Robinson (center).
In an unprecedented move, all nine Humboldt County deputy public defenders sent a letter to the Board of Supervisors on Friday urging it to reconsider the recent hiring of their boss, Public Defender David Marcus.

“We, the undersigned, write this letter to express our belief that David Marcus is not qualified for the position of Humboldt County Public Defender,” the letter states, going on to contend that Marcus’ lack of experience and expertise “not only jeopardizes the rights of our clients to the effective assistance of counsel, but puts staff at risk of unhealthy and unethical work conditions.”

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Monday, March 27, 2017

Seven Apply to Fill Wheetley's Council Seat

Posted By on Mon, Mar 27, 2017 at 1:23 PM

Wheetley - CITY OF ARCATA
  • City of Arcata
  • Wheetley
Seven hopefuls met Friday's deadline to apply for the Arcata City Council seat left vacant when longtime member Mark Wheetley stepped down earlier this month to become Fortuna's city manager.

The council voted March 1 to move forward with the application process recommended by staff to fill the remainder of Wheetley’s term, which runs through 2018.

Those up for consideration include three Arcata planning commissioners — Jason Akana, Robin Baker and Judith Mayer — as well as educator Michael J. Hart, Minor Theatre owner Joshua Neff, former councilmember Alexandra Stillman and small business owner Brett Watson.

According to the city, a candidate forum is scheduled from 6 to 9 p.m. on April 13 in the Arcata City Council Chamber.

The council is tentatively scheduled to select Wheetley’s replacement at its April 19 meeting.
Each of the candidate's statements are available on the city’s website.

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Eureka Rotary, Volunteers Go Rogue, Clean up Problem House

Posted By on Wed, Mar 22, 2017 at 10:39 AM

Before the cleanup. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • Before the cleanup.
After a day's work. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • After a day's work.













What a difference a day, a backhoe and 10 volunteers can make.

A couple of weekends ago, the Rotary Club of Eureka organized a cleanup of a long troublesome property on the corner of Summer and Del Norte streets. The place was a mess. A junk car sat in the driveway, almost consumed by piles of trash and debris, including an old stove, furniture, clothes and even a few hypodermic syringes.

The place has been vacant, save for one tenant is in the process of being evicted and some squatters, and some neighbors have reportedly taken to dumping trash in its front and back yards. The property itself is a foreclosure owned by Nationstar Mortgage, a Texas company with a portfolio of more than $400 billion in properties.

The city of Eureka is currently fining Nationstar $1,000 a day for code violations on the property. The tab is up to almost $100,000, according to Deputy Public Works Director Brian Issa.

“We started fining them as soon as the bank took over (ownership),” Issa said. “It’s very difficult to get these big banks to do something and I don’t like to spend taxpayer money cleaning up their messes. That being the case, I prefer just to fine them to the hilt … I have to admit, I get a little bit of a warm fuzzy out of it.”

Issa said the place on Summer and Del Norte is emblematic of a larger issue, which is that at any given time, there seems to be some property in Eureka owned by a national bank that is left unattended and winds up being a magnet for squatters and illegal dumpers. The city can procure a warrant and send in a crew to clean these properties up, Issa said, but it’s an expensive process (around $10,000) that demands a lot of staff time.

And, generally, Issa said that because the properties are vacant and unattended, they don’t stay clean for very long. Plus, Issa said he has a philosophical problem with spending taxpayer dollars to clean up a bank’s mess. Instead, the city opts for the $1,000 per day fines, which add up quickly.

“If they’re not going to take care of problems that they have all the resources in the world to do,
we’re going to soak them a little bit,” Issa said. “We’re going to make it hurt.”

Ultimately, Issa said the money collected from these fines — typically more than $100,000 a year — goes to other targeted enforcement actions by the department that it believes will have a more lasting impact.

But Issa said he realizes these properties have an immediate impact on those who live around them, which he said makes the recent Rotary volunteer day so welcome. The volunteers were able to do something that would have been much more difficult — and expensive — for the city to take on.

“Technically, what they did is not legal,” Issa said. “Technically, they trespassed. We can’t do that. But kudos to them. They took on a neighborhood problem and addressed it.”

Rotary Club of Eureka President Matthew Owen said about 10 people turned out for the cleanup event, including his wife and Fourth District Supervisor Virginia Bass. He said the local McDonalds provided breakfast for the volunteers, Pierson Company donated a backhoe and operator for the effort, and Humboldt Recology donated a large Dumpster to haul away the trash.

When people stopped by while the crew was working to ask what they were doing or thank them, Owen said he tried to stress that this is something any neighborhood group can do. He also said he spent some time later that week knocking on doors in the area and encouraging people to take ownership of their neighborhoods and get involved.

He said he was disappointed to drive by a few days later only to see trash again accumulating on the property. For his part, Issa urged anyone with a problem house in their neighborhood to call the building department at 441-4155 or its inspection request line at 441-4043. And he said people shouldn’t delay, as these houses can “spiral out of control quickly.”

Other folks looking to get involved with cleaning up Eureka can participate in a citywide cleanup from noon to 1:30 p.m. on March 25. The group will be gathering in the McDonalds/Park City parking lot near the Bayshore Mall and dispersing from there. McDonalds will provide free lunch to those who participate.

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Saturday, March 18, 2017

Alleging Public Defender is Already Failing Clients, Attorney Asks to Fast Track Lawsuit

Posted By on Sat, Mar 18, 2017 at 3:40 PM

FILE
  • file
Eureka attorney Patrik Griego is asking a judge to expedite the process of determining whether newly hired Humboldt County Public Defender David Marcus meets minimum state qualifications to hold the post.

Griego, who filed a lawsuit earlier this month challenging the county’s controversial hiring of Marcus, is asking a Humboldt County Superior Court judge to allow him to serve subpoenas immediately, forgoing the 20-day waiting period usually required in similar cases. In a motion filed with the court Friday, Griego argues it’s imperative that the case be resolved quickly, alleging Marcus is already making mistakes that compromise his clients’ rights.

“He has appeared in court unprepared and has failed to secure continuances for clients based on a failure to follow court rules,” Griego writes in the motion, adding that “attorneys working for Mr. Marcus are gravely concerned about the well-being of the office and the indigent clients it serves.”

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