Friday, July 29, 2011

Redistricting Maps Approved: Thompson Out

Posted By on Fri, Jul 29, 2011 at 1:15 PM


The above map shows new congressional district boundaries, approved earlier today by the 14-person Citizen Redistricting Commission. The nonpartisan commission also redrew the borders for state senate, assembly and Board of Equalization districts (see the full maps here), but it's the Congressional map that's most newsworthy to us here on the North Coast.

Why? Because, as predicted, Congressman Mike Thompson's home of St. Helena has been excised from our district (along with Clearlake, Napa and Davis) in favor of hoity-toity Marin County (see the before and after maps here).

Reached moments ago, Thompson's communication director, Caroline Hogan, said the longtime First District representative is waiting for the Redistricting Commission's final vote on Aug. 15 before commenting on the maps. Even then the redistricting shuffle may not be final since residents can challenge the new boundaries in court or by referendum, which could drag on for months or years.

At the press conference announcing the vote today, a commission member confidently asserted that they'd followed the criteria set forth in the California Constitution, studiously ignoring political party affiliations and concerns, and that the commission is confident the maps "will prevail against any and all legal challenges."

As pointed out over on the Lost Coast Outpost, a state congressman doesn't actually have to live in the district he or she represents. Might Thompson choose his coastal friends over a now-landlocked Napa wine country? Seems unlikely, but for now he's not saying either way.

Humboldt County still falls within the district boundaries of State Senator Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa) and Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro (D-Arcata), though their respective political landscapes have shifted somewhat, with Evans' district picking up Marin and Del Norte counties and Chesbro's acquiring a hunk of Santa Rosa.

Today's Los Angeles Times has a good overview of the entire process, including a quote from Eureka fisherman David Bitts, who weighs in on the longstanding tug-o-war between fishermen and inland potato farmers over the water of the Klamath River. He urged the Redistricting Commission to keep the districts oriented north-south, rather than lumping us in with the Central Valley.

"However you slice it, the North Coast is going to be the tail of its congressional district just because of population," Bitts says. "I think, speaking for the tail of the dog, I'd rather be wagged by a breed that I at least recognize."

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Klamath River Gray Whales Photo Dump

Posted By on Wed, Jul 27, 2011 at 11:17 AM


This week's Journal stars the two photogenic whales who recently ventured into the Klamath River. But since cyberspace in unencumbered by space limitations, we thought we'd drop a whale-size load of images we've collected over the last couple week's on ya.

As always, right click/view image to biggify.

This first batch features mama/baby adorableness and the hoopla that surrounded it.

Photos by Andrew Goff except where noted.















This next batch features Sunday's efforts to drive mama from the river:













This next set comes from Ken Malcomson:





There is no shortage of whale video on YouTube. We think KHUM's succinct job tells it best.

This one's a little longer, but features whales up close going under the bridge.

Okay, one more from furthur down the river.

Oops! How did the now "iconic" RAINBOW WHALES image by Holly Harvey slip in here? Whatev.



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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

California Redwood Co. Adapts to International Market

Posted By on Tue, Jul 26, 2011 at 2:16 PM

More of Humboldt County's trees are bound for Asia -- or parts of them anyway. Unlike recent whole log shipments out of Humboldt Bay, the wood this time around will be milled locally, then trucked south and loaded onto container ships at the Port of Oakland.

The California Redwood Company has entered into an agreement to sell 23 million board feet of Douglas fir lumber to China. That volume of boards can't be shipped out of our local bay due to logistical issues, particularly infrastructure limitations, explained Carl Schoenhofer, California Redwood's vice president and general manager.

"First of all, the log ships that have gone out of [Humboldt Bay] handle about six million feet of logs," he said. "The containerized ships are much bigger. They hold like 26 million feet of lumber."

Schoenhofer said the company has recently figured out how to cut Douglas fir logs in varying sizes, some of which can be sold domestically while metric-sized cuts can be sold to customers in booming Asian markets like China, India and Japan. The thin-cut lumber will primarily be used as forming boards for concrete, which is the primary building material being used in the rapidly developing inland areas of China.

Schoenhofer said that with housing starts and the overall economy still slow, the domestic lumber market is simply not able to absorb the amount of lumber his company is selling to China. (California Redwood also has a "trial shipment" of one million board feet headed to India soon.) Like any other business, his relies on supply and demand.

"We look at what's the best return for us and how much volume can we ship," Schoenhofer said. "Right now, we're selling a mixture of domestic and foreign. That's giving us the highest return." Ideally company management would prefer to handle the entire process as locally as possible. "I would like to export out of Humboldt Bay and create more jobs here locally," he said. "It's just -- it's challenging." 

Short sea shipping could provide a partial solution by allowing smaller shipments of lumber and fiber to come in and out of Humboldt Bay, Schoenhofer said. For the time being, he added, anything that keeps local loggers, truckers, scalers and longshoremen employed is a good thing.

And right now the reality is this: "Asian countries in general have an insatiable appetite for fiber."


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Mike Thompson Fears No Beard

Posted By on Tue, Jul 26, 2011 at 12:13 PM

If you aren't Facebook friends with Congressman Mike Thompson, then you missed him hanging out with the San Francisco Giants this week.

Here he is showing bravery when faced Brian Wilson's imposing beard.



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No Big Deal, Just Plaza Bubbles

Posted By on Tue, Jul 26, 2011 at 9:17 AM


My path to Tomo was delayed for about half an hour Sunday night when the curiosity stemming from the giant bubbles floating over my head inflicted me with temporary sushi hunger amnesia.

The source? Crescent City resident Janice Morgan. She and a companion had driven to Fortuna for the Redwood AutoXpo and decided to stop by the Arcata Plaza on their way home to birth some captivating bigass bubbles.

"Everybody likes bubbles," she theorizes.


She'd seen a man in the U.K. in an online video whose passion for bubbling inspired her to take up the art. She crafted her own bubble making tool using crochet needles and yarn. "Sweatshirt strings work best," she confessed.

These days she bubbles in public often -- recently adding bubbles to the Crescent City Fourth of July Parade. On this night -- standing on the corner of the Plaza in front of the Jacoby Storehouse -- two youngsters were determined to burst every bubble she produced forcing the parents to establish popping regulations. "Don't pop the big ones," they pleaded. The kids almost complied.

So, if you're the kind of person that would lay in the grass for thirty minutes to witness the life and death of hundreds of amoebish floating soap spheres, scroll down kids. If you need the latest debt crises minutia, move along, newshound.














(Psst... you can right click/view image to make these bigger. Bigger bubbles, people!)

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Friday, July 22, 2011

Meat, Eureka!

Posted By on Fri, Jul 22, 2011 at 4:33 PM

Here at the Journal, we get oodles of announcements from various peeps about store openings, ribbon cuttings, and ground breakings. Hum ho.

But this one caught our eyes and moistened our food holes. After months of rumors, the highlight of Hwy. 36 is finally sticking its barbecue sauce stained shovel into Eurekan dirt.

Sorry, PETA! Shamus T Bones is coming! Bone Opp-a-Teet!

Thus, it is with great anticpation that we announce their ground breaking ceremony, Wednesday July 27 at 2 p.m. Their new location is a bit away from most nightlife -- off Broadway, tucked behind the Best Western Bayshore Inn -- but that's probably not going to hurt 'em that bad. Plus, they're adding seafood to the menu.

Shamus' Carlotta location will keep its Carlotta location open until round 'bout the time they are ready to open their new new digs. ETA: six months. No word yet on whether the tesla coil, fountain arch, or cowboy-in-need-of-an-exorcist dummy are making the move. Stay tuned.


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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Walmart, Jesus and Books Without Borders

Posted By on Tue, Jul 19, 2011 at 11:19 AM


Over the weekend, the Times-Standard  broke the story that a new business is planning to move into the former Gottschalks location at the Bayshore Mall and that circumstantial evidence suggests it could be a Walmart, the big box mega-retailer that Eureka voters rejected a dozen years back.* Three days later, a South Carolina couple finds the image of Jesus Christ on a Walmart receipt. Coincidence? You decide:

In other mall news, mega-chain bookseller Border's yesterday announced that it is declaring bankruptcy and will liquidate its inventory and close entirely (h/t LoCO). What will this mean for local booksellers -- and the industry at large? That's difficult to predict, Northtown Books owner Dante DiGenova said in a phone interview. He was an employee of the Arcata store in 2003 when Borders moved into the mall.

"I saw a definite change," he said. "The previous owners said [the store] took a big hit and never really bounced back." He said the bookselling industry has changed so much since then -- with the advent of e-readers being the most obvious example -- that it's hard to tell what effect Borders' closing will have on his store.

"It could make a difference," he said. "I don't necessarily think it's a good thing for the publishing industry, but I think it could give the publishing industry a wake-up call in terms of realistic print runs." Borders, he explained, would often skew print run numbers by ordering far more books that it ultimately sold, then returning unsold copies to the publishers.

While Borders fades into the past, Northtown has stepped warily into the future. Last week the bookstore launched a new website that allows readers to peruse new releases and staff picks, order books online and even -- gasp! -- "purchase" eBooks. DiGenova said the store's profit margin on digital books is minuscule, and he, for one, doesn't care for the technology. He's hoping most of his customers don't either.

"I don't want to be an online retailer," he said. "That is not the reason why I bought the store and worked in bookstores all these years."

As for Borders, DiGenova said he's been hearing for years that the company had a poor business model -- expanding too aggressively, choosing locations with premium real estate values and failing to adapt to changes in the industry.

"I've talked to sales reps who said they'd seen this coming for years," he said. 

*Footnote: That linked Walmart story from 1999 is worth a read if you want to refresh your memory on the issues at play -- both then and now. It notes the abundance of retail store vacancies in Eureka, including two dozen or so at the Bayshore Mall. It also cites a report from "The Humboldt County Ad Hoc Committee on Big Box Development," a group appointed by the Board of Supervisors:

"A new big box retail store would have negative fiscal impacts on surrounding municipal entities, not increase jobs or the quality of jobs, significantly harm and potentially bankrupt existing businesses and reduce the overall quality of life throughout the county," the report stated.

Is that true, some 12 years later? Click here to take a survey.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Who's Your Supervisor?

Posted By on Tue, Jul 12, 2011 at 5:00 PM

That's easy, you say? Don't be so sure; the boundaries are about to change. Every 10 years, following the U.S. Census, the county is required to redraw the lines to balance the population. With extra people showing up in both the Fifth and Second Districts this past decade, you can expect the borders to shift somewhat.

The job of drawing the new squiggles will be performed by the Humboldt County Redistricting Committee -- which includes Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich, Sheriff Mike Downey, District Attorney Paul Gallegos and Assessor Mari Wilson -- and they're welcoming public input in a series of meetings.

Hey look! There's one Wednesday night!

The dates are as follows:

  • July 13, 6-8 p.m. Agricultural Center, 5630 South Broadway, Eureka

  • July 14, 6-8 p.m. Mad River Grange, 110 Hatchery Road, Blue Lake

  • July 25, 6-8 p.m. Rio Dell City Hall, 675 Wildwood, Rio Dell

  • July 26, 6-8 p.m. Scotia Fire Hall, 145 Main Street, Scotia

  • July 27, 6-8 p.m. Redwood Acres Fairgrounds, 3750 Harris Street, Eureka

  • July 28, 6-8 p.m. Arcata City Hall, City Council Chambers, 736 F Street, Arcata

  • July 29, 6-8 p.m. Fieldbrook Elementary School, 4070 Fieldbrook Road, Fieldbrook

  • Aug. 16,1:30 p.m. Humboldt County Board of Supervisors Chambers, 825 Fifth Street, Eureka

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Monday, July 11, 2011

Kevin Hoover Announces End of the Eye

Posted By on Mon, Jul 11, 2011 at 2:25 PM

Hidden beneath the fold of last week's Arcata Eye, in a small front-page story about digitizing the newspaper's archives, owner/editor/publisher Kevin Hoover casually slipped in some startling news: The community weekly will cease publication on Feb. 14, 2014.

Reached by phone this morning, Hoover said he has both personal and professional reasons for his decision. Personally he'd like more time to pursue other creative outlets, a luxury that his current workload simply doesn't allow. "Doing this paper eats my life," he said.

And professionally he's not satisfied with the product he's been able to produce on a shoestring budget. "By and large people are pretty happy with what's in the newspaper. I'm not," he said. "It only has about five percent of the news I'd like to have in it. And really I'm just tired of doing things fast and shitty."

Hoover published the first edition of the Eye on October 22, 1996, shortly after the demise of the Arcata Union, for which Hoover was a reporter. In the nearly 15 years since the Eye has become a popular -- if sometimes controversial -- source for community news, debate and humor, including Hoover's droll musings on area crime (compiled in two books, The Police Log and The Police Log II: The Nimrod Imbroglios).

Hoover said Arcata -- and really every community -- needs its own source of independent news, and he hopes to find others in the community willing to take over that task before he publishes the final issue of the Eye (on his 60th birthday). "I don't really feel like I'm doing an adequate job being the Fourth Estate," he said. "I'm doing what I can, but this town really needs to make a long-term commitment to an independent news-gathering entity."

With that in mind, Hoover said he plans to visit each Arcata neighborhood this fall, asking residents what they want in a community newspaper and what each of them can contribute. 

"I've pretty much defined, over these last years, what an Arcata newspaper is," Hoover said. "But I'm under no illusion that there aren't people who can do it better -- on all levels. They could run a business better, approach advertising better, manage people better, and they could probably write better stories in a lot of ways too."

He noted that the media landscape has gone through an epochal change in recent years with the proliferation of Facebook, smartphones and blogging. This multitude of "shiny objects" vying for the public's attention make community newspapers, if anything, more important, Hoover said, because newspapers provide an independent perspective.

"Every community needs one, and they're the better for it," he said.

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To Journal Crossword Lovers In Crisis...

Posted By on Mon, Jul 11, 2011 at 11:01 AM


... the pain can stop now.

7/7 NCJ Crossword Supplement!:

60. College QB, often
61. One of a trio on “Seinfeld”
62. Checked out
64. Flow out
65. Sign of summer
66. Raggedy ____

The Journal regrets the error.

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