Government

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Eureka Visitor's Center to Close During Bid Process

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

eureka.jpg
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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Monday, April 24, 2017

Science!

Posted By on Mon, Apr 24, 2017 at 11:31 AM

The March for Science made its way through Arcata with a rising sea of signs. - PHOTO BY MARK LARSON
  • Photo by Mark Larson
  • The March for Science made its way through Arcata with a rising sea of signs.

Local scientists, students of all ages and other advocates for science-based decision making joined more than 600 other March for Science events in cities around the U.S. to both celebrate Earth Day on Saturday and protest the Trump administration's policies and positions with regard to climate change and other issue.

The largely non-partisan Humboldt March for Science in Arcata, following a science expo and rally at the D Street Neighborhood Center, attracted an estimated crowd of 2,000 or more. The march from the Center to the Arcata Plaza and back was filled with creative signs with quotes that ranged from Aldo Leopold to Dr.Seuss. Others were filled with optimism ("Make America Think Again"), science advocacy and humor.
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Monday, April 17, 2017

UPDATE: Eureka Postpones Vote on Temporary Shut Down of Visitor's Center

Posted By on Mon, Apr 17, 2017 at 1:43 PM

eureka.jpg
UPDATE: A city council vote on whether to temporarily shut down the Eureka Visitor’s Center has been postponed until May 2 to allow Mayor Frank Jager and City Manager Greg Sparks to attend the meeting.

Previous:
The Eureka City Council on Tuesday will consider temporarily shutting down the visitor’s center after the Greater Eureka Chamber of Commerce’s $110,000 service contract runs out at the end of June.

A staff report for the consent agenda item recommends rejecting the chamber’s proposed rate of $13,500 a month to keep the doors open while the city goes through an open bid process for the center’s operation, noting “the budget savings will be helpful going into next year.”

In an email to the Journal, City Manager Greg Sparks says he would prefer not to have a gap in service but “we believe that visitors receive information in many different ways about Eureka and Humboldt County and do not believe this gap will have a significant impact on visitor spending.”

Proposals to take over what for decades has been the chamber’s role are due in June. The city is requiring that the center — which serves an average of 10,000 walk-ins and 26,000 website visitors a year — be up and running by January of 2018.

The chamber also produces 40,000 Eureka Visitor Guide copies annually as a part of its contract with the city.

Chamber Executive Director Don Smullin says the business organization is still considering whether to submit a proposal as members weigh the chamber’s priorities in the wake of an increasingly bumpy relationship with the city.

He says the chamber has been spending about $40,000 a year to subsidize the center’s expenses after the city reduced funding levels in recent years, citing budget constraints.

Sparks also terminated the city’s long-term contract with the chamber to provide visitor services, which resulted in the current one-year agreement that expires in June.

“This has been an ongoing thing for four years now,” Smullin says. “It’s very frustrating.”

Sparks states there were questions about what kind of return on investment the city was receiving and the decision was made last year to put the contract out to a competitive bid.

The center currently operates out of the chamber’s Broadway office, which is owned by the city. The chamber’s 75-year lease on the building runs out in 2032.

“We thought there may be a more cost-effective way of providing services,” Sparks wrote.

Read the council agenda item here.

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Friday, April 14, 2017

Brett Watson Selected as New Arcata Councilmember

Posted By on Fri, Apr 14, 2017 at 4:46 PM

Brett Watson - COURTESY OF THE CITY OF ARCATA
  • Courtesy of the city of Arcata
  • Brett Watson
Small business owner Brett Watson will join the Arcata City Council on April 19 after being unanimously selected by the other councilmembers following last night's candidate forum.

He will serve out the remainder of Mark Wheetley’s term, which ends in December of 2018. After 12 years of public service, Wheetley stepped down in March to take over as Fortuna’s city manager.

Watson was one of seven hopefuls who applied to be appointed to the seat.

“I’m truly honored to get this opportunity to serve the city of Arcata,” he says in a city press release. “I think Arcata is a great place and I’m really looking forward to helping the community in any way that I can."

Read the full press release below:

Brett Watson will be sworn-in as the Arcata City Council’s fifth member on Wednesday, April 19 at the beginning of a regularly scheduled City Council meeting at 6 p.m. The Council voted unanimously to appoint Watson at a special candidate forum meeting at City Hall last night.

The appointment followed three hours of questions and answers directed by the Council to six candidates. The well-attended public forum was the first Facebook Live event produced by a Humboldt County municipality. Forum video could also be seen live on the City website, www.cityofarcata.org, and on Access Humboldt/Suddenlink Cable Channel 10. Members of the public submitted questions at City Hall and through Facebook.

Questions and answers were followed by public comment from community members supporting the different candidates and Council discussion.

Brett Watson’s term on the Council expires in December 2018. Vice mayor Sofia Pereira’s term also expires at the same time.

“We are excited to have Brett Watson join the Council,” says Mayor Susan Ornelas. “He has demonstrated interest in the workings of the City and a strong community spirit since he moved to Arcata seven years ago. It will be good to have five Council members again.”

“I’m truly honored to get this opportunity to serve the City of Arcata,” says Watson. “I think Arcata is a great place and I’m really looking forward to helping the community in any way that I can."

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Employee Calls Police After Alleged Dispute with Public Defender

Posted By on Wed, Apr 12, 2017 at 3:08 PM

Public Defender staff gathered with now retired Public Defender Kevin Robinson (center).
  • Public Defender staff gathered with now retired Public Defender Kevin Robinson (center).
One of Humboldt County Public Defender David Marcus’ employees filed a report with the Eureka Police Department yesterday alleging that he verbally assaulted her in the office after learning that office employees had sent a letter to the Board of Supervisors alleging he is unfit for the position.

EPD Capt. Brian Stephens said officer Abraham Jansen and the employee both agreed that, even if proven, the allegations didn’t rise to a criminal level. Nonetheless, Stephens said Jansen took the report at the employee’s request to document the incident in the event that Marcus engages in similar conduct in the future.

The employee contacted EPD at about 3:35 p.m. yesterday and reported that the altercation took place at about 9:20 that morning.

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