Monday, March 24, 2008

SN Announces Layoffs

Posted By on Mon, Mar 24, 2008 at 3:17 PM

This just in from Security National VP Brian Morrissey:

Eureka -- Security National Servicing Corporation today (March 24) announced the layoff of 21 employees in their Eureka headquarters and a total of 31 employees companywide, due to a slow down in the mortgage loan servicing business.

"We are saddened to let go some very talented staff", said Brian Morrissey, Sr. Vice-President. "This difficult decision was necessary due to economic conditions not in our control and are designed to help SN Servicing weather these turbulent economic times. When mortgage lending activities pick back up, we hope to be able to expand our staff."

Security National is the flagship firm of Eureka businessman, philanthropist and political figure Rob Arkley. There's been much speculation that the firm has fallen on hard times of late, what with the implosion of the U.S. real estate market and the associated credit crunch, but since SNSC is a closely held firm hard numbers are difficult to come by.

In the last few months, the belt has been tightened at Arkley's newspaper, the Eureka Reporter. The paper has downgraded to a five-days-per-week printing schedule, decreased the size of its staff and moved to lower-quality newsprint.

We're expecting a call-back from Morrissey, and we'll update this post when we get it.

UPDATE: Morrissey said this afternoon that were all from the servicing side of the business -- buying and selling real estate-backed debt -- and were at least somewhat expected.

"About a year ago as we saw the market starting to get really turbulent, we started to cut back on our purchase of loans," he said. "And as loans go through their natural cycle -- being paid off, or foreclosed -- those loans go down. And as a result of that, we have less work to do."

In other words, Morrissey said that the company wasn't caught holding sheafs of nonperforming paper in quite the same way that others in its sector have been lately. He said that company certainly has suffered from the economic climate of late, but that it was prepared. "If it's a game of musical chairs -- we sat down early," he said.

There's been a credit crisis among major financial institutions lately -- no one wants to loan money, especially when the loans are backed by shaky mortgages that could go pop at any time. Morrissey admitted that this had hampered business of late, but said that the company is well positioned to hop back into gear once the crisis passes.

"When the economy improves, we expect to add back staff," he said. "And we're hoping to hire some of the people that we just let go. They're good people."

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Willie in SoHum

Posted By on Mon, Mar 24, 2008 at 2:09 PM

It's official: Country music icon Willie Nelson is coming to Humboldt County for a Labor Day weekend show on August 31, produced by People Productions. Willie's website lists the show as taking place at the Benbow State Recreation Area , and the park is reserved, but if all goes according to plan the show will take place on the Dimmick Ranch, site of Reggae Rising earlier in August.

According to Howard Phun of People Productions, adding the Nelson concert to the existing Dimmick use permit will be proposed at a coming meeting of the Humboldt County Planning Commission.

Chances are the change in the permit will not come easy. It's likely that there will be resistance to the request since the Mateel Community Center is already disputing Dimmick's permit as part of the ongoing legal battle over Reggae on the River.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Phil Crandall's Finest

Posted By on Fri, Mar 21, 2008 at 10:59 AM

There's been some clamoring of late for the Journal to publish its letters online. Folks, it's coming. Trust me, it's coming.

In the meantime, we'll give you a taste of how it'll work by posting a letter we received about this week's issue. Enjoy!


In Hank Sims' "Town Dandy" column of March 20, the self-righteous Sims cast aspersions against Humboldt County's Department of Health and Human Services.

With his inane comments, comparing DHHS to a totalitarian communist North Korean regime, Hank Sims betrays his "poor understanding of the law." For your review, Hank, I have enclosed information regarding the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 -- otherwise known by its acronym, HIPAA.

I am not an official spokesperson for DHHS, but as a long-time employee I feel that it is my duty to set the record straight. Privacy regarding health care is a major concern for our clients, and they most definitely do not want government employees giving out their personal information to "journalists" like yourself, Mr. Sims.

The real question I would like to see answered in the pages of the North Coast Journal is -- why is conservative Frank Jager and his County Coroner's Office so ready and willing to provide your publication with information? It couldn't possibly have anything to do with Mr. Jager's impending run for the Eureka City Council and his desire to get on your good side, could it, Hank?

Jake Pickering, Eureka

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EPA Reverses Prior Decision, Declares Klamath River Impaired by Toxic Algae

Posted By on Fri, Mar 21, 2008 at 10:57 AM


In a press release sent out this morning, the Klamath Riverkeepers claim to have won a "major concession" today from the Environmental Protection Agency. In a reversal of their prior decision, the EPA has now designated the Klamath River as impaired by toxic algae.

The blue green algae, Microcystis aeruginosa, blooms in reservoirs created by PacifiCorp's dams and exceeds international safety standards for algal toxin by as much as 4,000 fold, according to Regina Chichizola of the Klamath Riverkeepers.

PacifiCorp is presently in negotiations with the Klamath Settlement Group about the potential removal of four hydroelectric dams on the river, and the Oregon power utlility is also in the final steps of a federally mandated relicensing process with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). In order to relicense their dams, PacifiCorp will need to get a clean water certification from the states of California and Oregon, but the EPA's decision could make that difficult.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Should Thompson Change His Superdelegate Vote?

Posted By on Thu, Mar 20, 2008 at 1:06 PM

The Napa Valley Register is asking its readers to chime in on whether Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, should endorse Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama with his superdelegate vote (right now, he's pledged it to Clinton). However, the February primaries indicate that the First District favors Obama over Clinton. (For an idea of the how things went down locally check out our recent post, "Geographic Analysis of Humboldt County's Hillary Smackdown.")

Here's what blogger XMAN had to say:

" Superdelegates will sometimes over-ride the popular tides if they think the opposing candidate is more electable. If Candidate Clinton is to be the nominee, it may strictly be by virtue of the superdelegates input. The choice of the Democratic candidate will probably go to the wire this time around. Right now Candidate Obama is countering some bumps in the road. It isn't over till it's over. "

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Blog Fans: Help Is Here

Posted By on Tue, Mar 18, 2008 at 12:01 PM

Despite what you may have thought, the problem with the Humboldt County blogosphere isn't that it's too stupid. On the contrary, the problem is that it's not stupid enough. Every day, all around the world, the bar for brainlessness is set a little bit higher, and as usual Humboldt County is behind the curve. We have our pioneers, most notably the great Suzy Blah Blah, but we should all try harder to follow their example.

Fortunately, there is now a simple online tool to help us all dumb up our discourse. It's called The Unintelligencer, and it will automatically translate ordinary writing into five levels of stupidity, depending on your needs. Take, for example, a recent post by Ecoshift, one of the county's most backwardly smart bloggers:

After reading The Journal’s recent cover story "Codes, Damned Codes" on the county’s heavy handed code enforcement activities in McKinleyville I wondered if there could possibly be a more confrontational way to go about "protecting" renters and future home owners from sub standard building and land use practices. I imagined that some would view the effort as protecting property values for the neighborhood and therefore at least somewhat justified.

Set at level "unintelligible," The Unintelligencer renders this passage in an Internet-ready format:
after reading thee journal’s resent cover stry "codes, damned codes" on tehz county’s heavy handed code enforcement activites ins mckinleyville i wondered iffn thar cud possibly b moar confrontational wae 2 goa abowt "protecting" renters + fuchur home pwners form sub standard building an land uize practices. i imagined dat som wud wiew the effort az protecting property values foar the neighborhood en therefore @ least somewhat justified.

Good news: The Unintelligencer will automatically parse feeds for you, so you can pick up a Humboldt County blogfeed in machine-unintelligenced format. Try it out!

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Do The Test

Posted By on Mon, Mar 17, 2008 at 8:34 PM

Here's this week's coolest thing. It was sponsored by London's transport system, and it's meant to raise driver awareness of bicyclists.

It's like something Green Wheels might do if Green Wheels had a budget.

[vodpod id=ExternalVideo.487013&w=425&h=350&fv=%26rel%3D0%26border%3D0%26] from posted with vodpod

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Urine Trouble Now ...

Posted By on Mon, Mar 17, 2008 at 5:33 PM

The Associated Press reported that a Crescent City woman is facing three years in prison after allegedly trying to steal back her own urine sample. Krystal Evans and a friend intercepted a DHL van and tried to reclaim her bodily fluid, but they were caught yellow handed. Anyway, it's a good thing that Evans wasn't after a stool sample or she'd really be in deep shit.

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

'Happiness' Is Runner-Up

Posted By on Sat, Mar 15, 2008 at 12:09 PM

We'd heard that Jessica Knapp from North Coast Prep was chosen to go to Sacramento for the California Poetry Out Loud state finals, a contest that involves reciting other people's poems. She didn't win, but she did make it to the tie-breaking third round, as noted in this press release:

Sacramento - Placer County student Roshawnda Bettencourt of Oakmont High School took first place in this year's highly competitive California Poetry Out Loud state finals... This year marks the third time the California Arts Council has produced the Poetry Out Loud competition, a contest that encourages high school students to learn about poetry through memorization, performance, and competition of classical poetry. The program was started by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Poetry Foundation, and is fulfilled in the states by the state arts agencies. Local arts agencies and school districts implement the program on the county level.

"I was astounded at the savvy choice of poems that each competitor chose, and of the emotional maturity and poise these students exhibited today," said California Arts Council Vice Chair Malissa Feruzzi Shriver, a judge in 2008 state finals for California Poetry Out Loud. "Not only were these pieces performed well, but the students understood them deeply, on a truly profound and emotional level. They were all so fantastic it was almost impossible to be a judge."

Five students of the 20 competing made it to a tie-breaking third round of the competition when the judges decided the scores were too close to determine a clear winner and runner-up. They were, in no particular order: Jessica Knapp of North Coast Preparatory and Performing Arts Academy (Humboldt County), Spencer Klavan of Laguna Blanca High School (Santa Barbara County), Annie Griffin of St Monica High School (Los Angeles County), Malachia Hoover of Tamalpais High School (Marin County), and Cecily Stevens of Salesian High School (Contra Costa County).

(See the full list of the 20 competitors, their counties, high schools and their poetry choices.)

"We think of poetry as being text, but it really lives in the heart," said California Poet Laureate Al Young, also a judge in the 2008 California Poetry Out Loud competition. "Language moves us because it is very close to music."

The national initiative is part of an attempt to bring literary arts to students--a critical need in U.S. schools, according to a 2004 NEA report Reading at Risk that found a dramatic decline in literary reading, especially among younger readers. The Poetry Out Loud program seeks to foster the next generation of literary readers by capitalizing on the latest trends in poetry, recitation and performance.
Note: photo above by Steve Hellon. Can anybody tell which one is Jessica?

What did Jessica Knapp read?
1st Poem: Happiness by Jane Kenyon
2nd Poem: Sonnet CXVI: Let Me Not to the Marriage of True Minds by William Shakespeare
3rd Poem: Fever 103 by Sylvia Plath


There’s just no accounting for happiness,
or the way it turns up like a prodigal
who comes back to the dust at your feet
having squandered a fortune far away.

And how can you not forgive?
You make a feast in honor of what
was lost, and take from its place the finest
garment, which you saved for an occasion
you could not imagine, and you weep night and day
to know that you were not abandoned,
that happiness saved its most extreme form
for you alone.

No, happiness is the uncle you never
knew about, who flies a single-engine plane
onto the grassy landing strip, hitchhikes
into town, and inquires at every door
until he finds you asleep midafternoon
as you so often are during the unmerciful
hours of your despair.

It comes to the monk in his cell.
It comes to the woman sweeping the street
with a birch broom, to the child
whose mother has passed out from drink.
It comes to the lover, to the dog chewing
a sock, to the pusher, to the basket maker,
and to the clerk stacking cans of carrots
in the night.
It even comes to the boulder
in the perpetual shade of pine barrens,
to rain falling on the open sea,
to the wineglass, weary of holding wine

Jane Kenyon

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Friday, March 14, 2008

Pulp Mills, the Chinese and a Pinch of Xenophobia

Posted By on Fri, Mar 14, 2008 at 2:33 PM


David Hillman , an independent pulp and paper consultant, wonders if the sale of American pulp mills to foreign investors -- mostly Chinese -- is good or bad. The analysis is published on-line by the Gerson Lehrman Group (GLG), which, according their website, manages the world’s leading network of experts.
The major implication is that major North American assets are coming under the complete control of Asian (mostly Chinese) companies and there is no secret that 100% of these mills' production will be going straight back to China. Current global customers of these mills are already scrambling to find alternative suppliers - and, in a tight market, this is not easy! Will the new Chinese owners be willing to keep the mills updated with new technology and environmental regulations or will they be run into the ground until they literally fall apart ? How many more market pulp mills will China seek to purchase to feed their enormous appetite - estimated this year to be 8.5 million mt of virgin market pulp? Several mills have reported huge losses for 2007 with little remaining cash reserves. Will the Chinese pounce on these mills like hungry vultures - buying them at greatly distressed prices and far below their replacement costs? [Go to the article]
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