Monday, September 29, 2008

Fire at Spear and Alliance

Posted By on Mon, Sep 29, 2008 at 10:05 PM

Citizen journalist Anna Bernard sent us this brief story with photos this afternoon.

The normally quiet Vassaides neighborhood at the north end of Alliance Road in Arcata was the staging area for a fire at the corner of Alliance and Spear.  Arcata fire fighters and Arcata police began arriving at the scene shortly before 2 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 29.

 Arcata Vassaides neighborhood used as staging area for blaze.

Arcata's Vassaides neighborhood used as staging area for blaze.

 Arcata Police officer David Brown directs volunteers at the scene of the fire.

Arcata Police officer David Brown directs volunteers at the scene of the fire.

The building on the southeast corner is currently a gift shop called The Emerald.  The building is about 100 years old and was once used for cold storage for hunters.  Smoke billowed from the rooftop as fire fighters struggled to gain entry to the attic area.

 Firefighters used a chain saw to get to the flames.

Firefighters used a chain saw to get to the flames.

Determined to access the fire, they used a chain saw to cut a huge hole into the upper façade of the building.  Over an hour later, the firefighter had the upper hand on the burning building and by 4 p.m. the activity was slowing down.

Thr old Arcata building sustained serious damage.

The old Arcata building sustained serious damage.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

SPJ on the Hans Peters Story

Posted By on Fri, Sep 26, 2008 at 5:22 PM

The Quill, the magazine of the Society of Professional Journalists, this month took notice of a story that appeared in the Journal earlier in the year.

In "News Gems," a regular Quill feature, the magazine commended "Nobody's Fault," the story of the short, tragic life of Hoopa youth James Lee "Hans" Peters. The story was researched and written by the Spring 2008 Investigative Reporting class at Humboldt State, which is taught by Journal contributor Marcy Burstiner.

The other stories noticed in "News Gems" this month are from outlets like the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the St. Petersburg Times and the Omaha Word-Herald. Pretty big-league company for a pack of students, but their work on the Peters story was truly exceptional. Congratulations to them.

Here's what the Quill had to say:

"Nobody's Fault" by students at Humboldt State University is a powerful investigation into the death of James Lee Peters, 25, a mentally ill and mentally disabled man who committed suicide in a California jail cell. Part of what makes this story impressive is that the students completed it despite receiving no cooperation from the mental health workers who were responsible for Peters, the jailers who incarcerated him or his family, friends and lawyers. Undaunted, the students combed through court records, district attorney files and birth, death, and autopsy reports to piece together the details of Peters' troubling life and death.

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Sked for the Hoedown

Posted By on Fri, Sep 26, 2008 at 5:00 PM

We're going to be streaming audio and video from the Humboldt Hoedown over at the mothership -- -- all day tomorrow. This is going to be a truly awesome show, made more awesome still by the fact that the broadband connection is supposed to be superfat and ultrareliable.

If you're going to be home doing chores or whatever, just plug the computer into the stereo and let 'er rip. This is some seriously top-notch music. Here's a schedule, just in case you want to catch your favorite bands:

Main Stage

11:00 - gates open

11:20 - Way Out West

12:30 - Absynth Quintet

1:45 - Huckleberry Flint

3:00 - Tempest

4:35 - Laura Love & Harpers Ferry

6:10 - David Lindley

7:45 - The Devil Makes 3

9:30 - Sam Bush Band

Meadow Stage

11:50 - Trainwreckt

1:05 - SoHum Girls

2:20 - Darryl Cherney & The Patriot Act

3:45 - Maureen Catalina

5:30 - The Bucky Walters

7:05 - The Absynth Quintet

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Artist of the Year

Posted By on Fri, Sep 26, 2008 at 1:24 PM

Linda Wise with "Caribou" sculpture made of welded junk metal & drift wood

Linda Wise with sculpture titled "Caribou"

Artist of the Year -- in Eureka anyway -- and that's the judgment of the city's Art and Culture Commission . Did you know Eureka had such a thing? Not sure what else they do, but they've chosen artist/trash picker Linda Wise for recognition.

"My art points out that there is value in everything," says Wise (in the following press release). "When I look in the trash, I see animals popping out at me..." I saw a raccoon coming out of a dumpster in the alley behind my house a while back, but I don't think that's what Linda meant. You'll see when you read the quote in context:

The Eureka Art and Culture Commission will award Linda Wise the first "Eureka Artist of the Year" Recognition Award at the Eureka City Council Meeting on October 7. This award will be presented each year to an artist who has contributed to the betterment of life in Eureka through creative endeavors.

The City of Eureka is joining art leaders and supporters across the country in celebrating October as National Arts and Humanities Month. It is an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the positive impact the arts bring to our schools and communities.

Wise was chosen because of her accomplishments as an artist, her work with children and art, her contributions to the community through public art, and her support of various community organizations such as Planned Parenthood and the Humboldt Arts Council.

Wise is known for her sculptures made of found objects. "My art points out that there is value in everything," says Wise. "When I look in the trash, I see animals popping out at me. Well, that looks like a nose. Hey, that would make a good finger."

As the Environmental Compliance & Safety Manager for the local garbage company, Wise is in a unique position to collect what other people throw away and make it into something else.

Wise does not have children herself but enjoys giving children experiences that are positive, passing on to them some of the things that have enriched her life. At the Dia de los Muertos at the Morris Graves Children’s night, for example, she created an opportunity for children to learn about the culture of Mexico and honor people they had loved and lost. "It is touching," says Wise, "to help children express themselves without the restrictions adults often put on them."

Wise’s childhood was enriched by the opportunity to take art classes outside of school. "My fear is that if children do not have the opportunity to experience art in this way," says Wise, "then we as a culture are going to deteriorate."

One of her public art achievements was decorating two trash bins in Opera Alley in Old Town Eureka, each with an opera theme, hoping to make it a more enjoyable walk through the alley. Those bins have not since been sprayed with graffiti.

With a Bachelors Degree in Fisheries Biology and a Masters Degree in Waste Water, Wise believes that art led her to science. "There is a very natural connection between art and science, looking at detail, being creative, and learning how to express yourself and describe nature."

The Eureka Art And Culture Commission acts in an advisory capacity to the City Council and the City Manager for all matters pertaining to art, literature, music, and other cultural activities. Its current focus is to promote art in public places and create a registry of artists interested in public art commissions. More information can be found at .

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Heidi Walters at the Gunderson Trial

Posted By on Wed, Sep 24, 2008 at 12:30 PM

Our Heidi Walters was at the Humboldt County Courthouse this morning to hear the verdict in the case against former Blue Lake Police Chief Dave Gunderson. She spoke with Jennifer Savage at KSLG and Mike Dronkers at KHUM, which stations sent us this audio of her report:

audio player

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Bomb threat at HSU

Posted By on Tue, Sep 23, 2008 at 11:45 PM

Once again -- what, the last time was just in May? -- the threat of a suspected pipe bomb had Humboldt State University all bound up and tense earlier this evening as men and women huddled in bright vests near the danger zone and others -- campus security and campus housing staff hastily stuffed into yet more bright vests -- re-routed passersby.

This time the scene of the s.p.b. was in the library parking lot, where around half past 4 p.m. somebody had found something in front of the parked cars that looked awfully like a pipe bomb and called the campus police to report it, said HSU P.R. guy Frank Whitlatch. He was dealing with the small pack of reporters who had either heard of the threat on the scanner or sniffed it out (big tip, if you were passing by that way: much of L.K. Wood blocked by fire engines and police cars, with ambulances arriving all-a-siren).

I arrived on the scene after 6 p.m., too late to witness the guy in the big green suit who witnesses said was sent to take a gander at the thing. But I got there just in time to hear the Incident Commander, in this case HSU Police Chief Tom Dewey, announce loudly to onlookers and emergency personnel: "There may be a small banging noise."

Another official yelled, "Fire in the hole!"

And then there was a small banging noise, followed by the wan honking of a car alarm. Child's play.

Or was it? Whitlatch said the team from the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office had just fired a "small, disintegrating projectile" at the s.p.b., and he'd maybe know within a half hour or so what the verdict was: a fake or the real deal?

So, people waited, and watched. Mostly, they were people whose cars were parked where the device was found. One of them, John Moor, who teaches at Alice Birney Elementary School in Eureka, had just gotten out of meeting of the Elementary Education Partnership Council. He'd parked in the lot at 4, gone to the meeting, and when he got out the lot was taped off.

"It's just an annoyance," he said. "Whoever did it, whatever they were trying to accomplish, it's just been an inconvenience for us. I don't see a lot of people scared, so, if that's what they were trying to accomplish, it didn't work."

Debbie Prevost sat on a planter, watching the scene. She's a retired elementary teacher who now trains student teachers part-time for HSU, and she had been at the same education meeting as Moor. Her car also was trapped in the lot by the bomb threat.

"So, I'm just stuck here," she said. "I can't go home."

Student Tony Snow, sitting nearby on another planter, joked, "It's a common complaint, 'There's nothing to do here.' What are you talking about? There's excitement everywhere." A moment passed, then he said, "If something actually blows up, don't quote me on that. That would be terrible."

Prevost said she lives in Fortuna, and she was worrying about her husband.

"I'm kinda feeling bummed, my poor husband's at home and he just had knee surgery, so he can't get around well to fix himself dinner," she said. Then added: "I remember in the '60s, I worked at a high school when I was in college, and kids would call in saying there was a bomb. I can remember evacuating three times."

Barbara Nowak, a social work prof. who'd been in a faculty senate meeting when she heard there was a bomb threat, sat on another planter, hunched and miserable looking.

"I'm frozen solid," she said. "I'm parked right in the middle of that parking lot."

Was she worried?

"Only for my poor dog that's been sitting at home since 7 a.m. this morning, and I didn't go home midday like I usually do," Nowak said. "So, he's probably sitting on the couch with his legs crossed."

An older gent in a classic professery tweed jacket walked up from the edge of the taped-off perimeter saying, "Guess it's the real deal!"

The swarm of onlookers grew and shrank, grew and shrank, with the core of people waiting to get to their cars hanging in there. They watched as members of various local enforcement scoured the lot or stood around talking.

"Are they wanding all the cars?" a waiting woman asked an official type. "I just got back from living in a foreign country where they have regular bomb threats."

Finally, Whitlatch got the verdict from the incident commander, and relayed it to us: "It was not explosive," he said. In other words, a fake. "But, it does appear it was deliberately constructed to look like a pipe bomb, and that it was deliberately placed there."

All of the other cars were checked, just to be safe. And there will, naturally, be an investigation.

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Promise to vote and get a free song

Posted By on Tue, Sep 23, 2008 at 6:01 PM

My friend Russ forwarded an e-mail he received today from the band Wilco. They're offering a free song download in exchange for a simple promise -- that you will vote on Nov. 4. They don't say who you should vote for, but I have my suspicions about who the guys in the band support.

Here's the skinny:

Greetings all,

Such tumultuous times. And in the spirit of giveaways that seem to be sweeping the nation, we've got something free for you. No it's not a pile of cash (sorry) but rather an audio postcard of sorts from a summer's night in Oregon with our friends the Fleet Foxes & a lovely Bob Dylan tune. All we ask is you go to and  click the "I pledge to vote in the 2008 Election" button. If you can spare it, we also encourage you to consider a donation to Feeding America .

Happy listening (and please feel free to pass this offer along to friends, family members, etc.).

The Wilco HQ Distribution Dept. - Wilco World

backstage at a Wilco concert

backstage at a Wilco concert

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Guv signs budget - finally

Posted By on Tue, Sep 23, 2008 at 12:53 PM

After an 85 day delay and many compromises Governor Schwarzenegger has signed a budget and California can resume business. Here's the official announcement from Da Schwarz' office:

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today signed the 2008-09 state budget, concluding a very difficult budget year and delivering a real win for Californians with a proposal to achieve meaningful budget reform. It addresses California's $15.2 billion budget shortfall with a combination of cuts and increased revenues. It fully funds education's Proposition 98 guarantee and does not borrow funding from voter-approved local government or transportation funds. The historic budget reform package includes a strong rainy-day fund aimed at helping smooth out the unpredictable highs and lows in revenues that plague our state and create massive deficits.

"While California is certain to face a difficult budget situation again next year, this budget does not take money out of people's paychecks or borrow from voter-approved local government or transportation funds, and it includes real budget reform with teeth," Governor Schwarzenegger said. "These budget reforms, when approved by voters, will finally put California's budget on a path toward long-term fiscal stability."

Throughout California's history, numerous attempts have been made to reform our state's broken budget system. When the Governor was elected, he committed to finally end California's feast and famine budget cycle. In 2004, the Governor worked with the legislature to pass Proposition 58, which took the first step toward budget reform. In 2005, the Governor attempted the next step in budget reform with Proposition 76, and while it was defeated, the Governor remained committed to reform.

Today, the Governor delivered on his commitment with reforms to address two major flaws in the state budget system-wildly volatile revenues and over spending. In fact, had these reforms been in place over the past decade, this year's budget problem would have been approximately $10 billion smaller and California would have benefited from $8 billion in additional funding available for infrastructure and other one-time purposes. The proposal will now go before voters on the next statewide election ballot.

Over the weekend, the Governor used his veto pen to make an additional $510 million in General Fund reductions, reflecting the Governor's determination to reduce spending to the maximum extent possible. The state also captured $340 million in savings due to the delay in enacting the budget and the effect of the Governor's executive order.
The rest of the Governor's official statement is here.

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Fed Judge Issues Injunction against Measure T

Posted By on Tue, Sep 23, 2008 at 10:01 AM

This just in from Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, Humboldt Coalition for Community Rights:

SAN FRANCISCO – Federal Court judge Susan Illston ruled against the people of Humboldt County in yesterday’s hearing on Measure T, the local law passed in 2006 by citizen’s initiative. Measure T bans non-local corporate contributions in local elections.

The Pacific Legal Foundation sought a preliminary injunction against Measure T, arguing that the law violates the First Amendment rights of corporations. The judge granted the injunction, allowing corporate money back into local elections.

The proponents of the Measure were disappointed by the ruling, but unfazed. "The court is wrong - and this isn’t the first time," said Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, spokesperson for the Humboldt Coalition for Community Rights (HCCR). "Measure T follows in the footsteps of the suffragists, the abolitionists and Civil Rights activists who fought against Supreme Court decisions that upheld unjust laws. The majority of Humboldt citizens believe corporations have too much power in our society, especially in elections. Our democracy is deteriorating. We have an obligation to stand up for what’s right, even if the courts are not currently with us."

"This ruling proves how undemocratic it is to allow a corporation to claim to be a person with constitutional rights," said Megan Wade Antieau of Democracy Unlimited, an organizer of the event. "Apparently the judge believes upholding corporate influence in elections is more important than the rights of the people of Humboldt County."

"We don’t need to depend on the courts to tell us the difference between right and wrong. We have candidates running for office in November who should respect the will of the voters," said Wade Antieau.

Democracy Unlimited, one of the member organizations of HCCR, is holding a community meeting this Wednesday (Sept. 24) to invite residents to get involved in defending Measure T.

The meeting will be at the Labor Temple in Eureka (840 E Street) from 6:30pm to 9:30pm. Light dinner will be served. Carpooling is available from Arcata. For more information contact Democracy Unlimited: 269-0984.

Download Judge Illston's Ruling here.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Live Blogging from Blogger's Picnic!

Posted By on Sun, Sep 21, 2008 at 12:44 PM

We're down here in Rio Dell at the Blogger's Picnic , and since the city is famously wireless , we've managed to find a hot spot for live blogging.

Heraldo showed up in full chef regalia and has fired up his very cool grill to cook up some gourmet dogs:

Heraldos hemi-powered grill

Heraldo's hemi-powered grill

Meanwhile Carson Park Ranger is giving a lesson on bocce technique, which Carol is recording for an audio upload that should follow soon.

Bocce lessons

Bocce lessons

And over on the Rio Dell bocce court, EkoVox and his ladyfriend (who brought along a ladyfriend of her own) are beginning what may prove to be a cut throat tournament.

the tourney begins

the tourney begins

We'll try to bring you updates as the festivities continue (after we eat some dogs).

Update (noonish): A fair number of bloggers have gravitated to the elaborate Rio Dell miniature golf course:



That's the Town Dandy lower right, offering pointers to some young golfer/bloggers.

Update 2 (12:30): Uh oh, Anonymous and company just showed up - uninvited. This could get ugly.

Three anonymous trolls have arrived.

Three anonymous trolls have arrived.

Update (1:15): Things are inded getting ugly. It might be time to go before the police come. (Does Rio Dell have police?)



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