Friday, September 30, 2011

Chickenpox, anyone?

Posted By on Fri, Sep 30, 2011 at 4:49 PM

For the folks who think that natural immunity beats a vaccination,Trinidad Elementary School has turned into a textbook lesson on how to grow your own outbreak.

Chickenpox has spread swiftly through the 180-student school, apparently contracted so far by at least 16 children and adults. The numbers aren't surprising given that roughly 20 percent of the students have not been vaccinated, at their parents' request.

Each of those children could be a biological time bomb for someone with AIDS whose immune system is badly compromised, or for a woman in the wrong stage of pregnancy, who could end up with a paralyzed, blind or developmentally disabled baby, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Is that OK?

Well, the school district is hosting a free vaccine clinic being offered by Humboldt County, but it's not actually recommending that kids get vaccinated.

"We are offering. We are not taking a medical stand," said principal Geoff Proust.

"The parent group we have has a lot of people who have doubts aboutthe safety of vaccines or the honesty of governmental forces" that recommend them, he said. "On one hand, I support the independent thinking of my parent group. On the other hand, they might not necessarily be thinking beyond their own family."

Even in a county with a vocal anti-vaccine contingent, outbreaks like the one in Trinidad apparently aren't common.

Chris Hammond, a communicable disease program nurse for Humboldt County, said this is the first she's seen in her three years here. The county has had no documented episode of a youngster with chickenpox making any other person seriously ill, she said.

There are risks to getting any vaccine. There are also risks to skipping them, risks that reach beyond any one child. A good chickenpox summary is here, from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Harbor District Names Interim CEO

Posted By on Thu, Sep 29, 2011 at 11:57 AM


Less than two weeks after unceremoniously (and unanimously) ousting 15-year CEO David Hull, the Harbor District Board has named a temporary replacement. Last night, during a special board meeting, the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District Board of Commissioners unanimously appointed Patricia Tyson as interim CEO.

Tyson has served as the district's director of administrative services for the past 14 years, according to a press release. She'll help the commissioners search for a full-time CEO, the release said.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Arrests In Arcata Playground Arson

Posted By on Tue, Sep 27, 2011 at 7:15 PM

You may recall the fire set at an Arcata playground earlier this month by dastardly miscreants. Response was swift: an award for information was offered and the Arcata City Council voted to shell out $62,444 to restore all of the playground equipment destroyed; the Rotary Club of Arcata offered to match donations up to $4,000 to help restore the park.

Now the Arcata Police have announced that they've caught a couple of the delinquents they think are responsible. They're still looking for a third Fortuna youth.

Arrests Made In Arcata Playground Arson

On September 3rd, 2011 Chevret-Vaissade Park playground was completely destroyed by fire. At the time of the incident there was very little information available as to the cause of the fire. Through a lengthy investigation by the Arcata Police Department, three juvenile suspects have been identified. Two of the juvenile suspects, a 12-year-old from Arcata and a 13-year-old from Pittsburgh Ca., have been arrested. The third juvenile suspect, a 14-year-old from Fortuna, has been identified but is still outstanding.

Through the investigation detectives learned the three juveniles allegedly used cardboard, small branches and a piece of wood to ignite a fire on the playground structure. Once ignited, the juveniles rolled the burning piece of wood next to a vertical piece of the play structure, which also ignited.

The community support in re-establishing the playground as well as apprehending the responsible parties has been tremendous. Investigators received numerous leads from community members throughout this investigation. Ultimately it was a tip provided by a community member that led detectives to the responsible parties. The Arcata Police Department would like to thank the community for their willingness to assist in this investigation. 

At this time there is nothing to connect these juveniles to any other suspicious fire in the City of Arcata.



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Eureka's Insurer May Appeal Cotton Verdict

Posted on Tue, Sep 27, 2011 at 12:45 PM

It likely will never be known exactly which blow to the head killed Martin Frederick Cotton II on Aug. 9, 2007, but a federal jury has now ruled that on the night the 26-year-old died, he was subjected to excessive force by officers with the Eureka Police Department.

As the Times-Standard reported Saturday, the jury found the City of Eureka liable for $4.5 million, with $4 million of that going to Cotton's daughter and $500,000 to his father. The jury also awarded $75,000 in punitive damages from the individual officers who were involved in the altercation that preceded Cotton's death.

Jurors unanimously found that two of the three officers, Adam Laird and Justin Winkle, used unreasonable/excessive force and ordered them each to pay $30,000 to the plaintiffs. The jury found that the third officer, Gary Whitmer, did not use excessive force, but they determined that all three men were "deliberately indifferent" to Cotton's serious medical needs. Whitmer was ordered to pay $15,000 in damages to the plaintiffs.

City Manager David Tyson said Monday that he was disappointed with the jury's decision. "We feel that the verdict that was handed down runs counter to any of the findings of the independent inquiries following the incident," Tyson said.

If you need a refresher on the particulars of the case you can find previous Journal stories here, here and here. Briefly, Cotton was involved in a pair of violent altercations on the night of his death, the first with men in the outdoor day-use area of the Eureka Rescue Mission, the second with the three EPD officers who were called to the scene. A witness said he saw an officer strike Cotton in the back of the head, kicked in the ribs, kneed in the kidneys and and batoned on the legs. Cotton was eventually arrested and placed in the county jail. Two hours later, he was dead.

The autopsy -- by former coroner and current Eureka Mayor Frank Jager -- revealed that Cotton had died from a subdural hematoma due to blunt force trauma to the back of his head. It also revealed high levels of LSD in his system. Then-Eureka Police Chief Garr Nielsen theorized that the fatal wound may have been self-inflicted, as Cotton was seen banging his head against the jail cell floor that night. But officials have repeatedly refused to release a video that captured Cotton's entire stay in the jail cell.

District Attorney Paul Gallegos, who concurred with the head-banging theory as the most likely cause of death, determined that there was not enough evidence to charge any of the officers criminally. In March, 2008, Cotton's family filed a wrongful death and civil rights violation claim against the county, the City of Eureka, the EPD and the Humboldt County Sheriffs Office. 

Earlier this month the County agencies reached a settlement out of court for an undisclosed amount.

Tyson said that the City's $4.5 million bill will be covered by its insurer, Redwood Empire Municipal Insurance Fund (REMIF). The insurance company also has the option of appealing the jury's findings. "That's their decision," Tyson said.

Mark Ferguson, the REMIF agent handling the case for the City, said Monday that a decision on whether or not to appeal had not been finalized. "Any time you have a big case like this there are a lot of people involved in decision making," Ferguson said. Specifically he said that there are other insurance providers who REMIF subcontracted to cover the liability in the case.

The damages awarded against the three EPD officers will not be covered by the City's insurer. Their actions fall under individual accountability, Ferguson said.

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Monday, September 26, 2011

Frantic Over Franti? Relax.

Posted By on Mon, Sep 26, 2011 at 12:21 PM

Bummin' because you spaced on getting Spearhead tickets and the show sold out? Don't worry, be happy.

This just in from the folks at Blue Lake Casino re: the previously "sold out" evening with Michael Franti & Spearhead next Friday, Oct. 7: 

1,000 more tickets are being released today through the Players Club.


They also advise: 

Parking will be tough with over 2,000 tickets already sold. We encourage carpooling & bike riding to the show. Bring your own camping chairs and picnic stuff. The North Coast Resource Center will be there to help us recycle and handle our garbage.

Showtime 9 p.m. outside in the parking lot under the big tent. Three hour show. All ages. Order by phone: 707-668-9770 ext. 3281.

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Peace, Love, Guns, Heroin

Posted By on Thu, Sep 22, 2011 at 11:21 AM

Yeah, it's a real love story, all right. Couple of kids with a stolen gun, selling tar heroin. Bags o' booty, sweet little ready-made mugshot, mementos of the affair ... oh, and handcuffs.

See, Derick and Ashley got busted. (Read the release after the break.)






Eureka Police Department
604 C Street
Eureka, CA  95501

Phone:  (707) 441-4060
FAX:  (707) 441-4334




Subject: POP Search Warrant Nets Heroin, Stolen Gun, and Two Arrests


Contact: Sergeant Steve Watson

  • Front Desk (707) 441-4060

  • POP Office (707) 441-4373

  • Work Cell (707) 601-5464


On 9/21/11, at about 2:22 PM, investigators with the Eureka Police Department's Problem Oriented Policing Unit executed a search warrant at a residence on the 2600 block of Union Street, Eureka. The warrant was obtained after the POP Unit developed information residents there were selling heroin from the property.

During a search of the residence, investigators located and seized approximately ½ ounce of tar heroin, over $4,700.00 cash (suspected illicit drug sales proceeds), digital gram scales, drug sales packaging materials, and a stolen .40 caliber Springfield Armory XD semi-automatic handgun with ammunition. The handgun had been reported stolen during a recent residential burglary in Eureka.

Residents Derick Johnathan McElroy (22 of Eureka) and Ashley Rose Stogner (22 of Eureka) were arrested and transported to the Humboldt County Correctional Facility where they were booked for possession of heroin for sale and possession of stolen property.

Anyone with information concerning suspected drug sales activity occurring in Eureka is encouraged to call the Problem Oriented Policing Unit at (707) 441-4373 or the Humboldt County Drug Task Force at (707) 444-8095.




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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Text Message Spam Scam

Posted By on Tue, Sep 20, 2011 at 2:29 PM

A little after 8 a.m. this morning, my cell phone rang with a distinctive chime indicating a text message. Offering advance warning, it told me I was about to receive a text from someone using Yahoo text. A couple of minutes later the text came. The message from someone I did not recognize, "scott.shawn22," was a link leading to a webpage saying I'd won a $1,000 Walmart gift card.

I'd suddenly entered the world of the text message spam scam.

At first I thought it might be related to the notorious vulnerability of the Yahoo email system. I receive dozens of messages from friends and business contacts, people I know who have Yahoo accounts that turn out to be spam.

A notable recent case was a message from folksinger Joanne Rand saying she was stuck in Edinburgh, Scotland after a robbery. Could I help her out by wiring some money? Of course I knew she was not overseas, but some of her friends were not so certain and called her. In that case the hacker who broke into her Yahoo account erased all 1,200 contacts, and all of the email stored there, probably to make it harder for her to tell friends to ignore the fake plea for help. She no longer uses Yahoo.

So, this morning I vented my frustration with Yahoo in a Facebook post. Before long, a dozen friends responded who'd received the same text combo. Sean Ennis, who knows a bit about computers, suggested, "I'm not sure it's a hack. It would be simple to just text all the cell numbers: 845-1234, 845-1235, etc."

Yes, I have an 845 number, as did most of the other text spam receivers. I started thinking my guess that this was perhaps some hacker who'd harvested my phone number when they stole someone's Yahoo email account was wrong. It seemed more like simple, illegal text-book text spam.

Belinda White wondered, "What can we do to stop this from happening?" I checked the Federal Communications Commission site since they're supposed to defend us against stuff like this. It must bee a FAQ since it was right there in bold letters:

What to Do If You Receive an Unwanted Commercial Message on Your Wireless Device

You may file a complaint with the FCC if you receive: an unwanted commercial message sent to a wireless device; or a telephone solicitation made to a wireless device for which the phone number is registered on the national Do-Not-Call list; or any autodialed text message on your wireless device, or an unwanted commercial message to a non-wireless device from a telecommunications company or advertising a telecommunications company's products or services.

There is no charge for filing a complaint. You can file your complaint using an online complaint form. You can also file your complaint with the FCC's Consumer Center by calling 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322)

I tried the phone method, which involved working my way through a complex computerized phone tree that did not seem to have an appropriate option for this specific problem.

The online form is long and involved, but I guess I'll fill it out. What else can one do but complain? I tried calling the FCC media office to see if they're doing anything about the problem, but the press officers did not answer. I left a message, but I'm really not waiting for the return call with baited breath. They probably figure they have more pressing concerns.

[Note: An FCC official left a phone message early Wednesday asking me to send her an email describing the problem. Update pending.]

I've figured out how to manage the endless barrage of email spam, I receive too many junk phone calls, but I just hang up and they've stopped bothering me. Are junk texts just one more side-effect of our journey down this new communication highway? Perhaps.


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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Shunka Moves On

Posted By on Thu, Sep 15, 2011 at 12:14 PM


Jason Wilson -- aka Shunka Wakan -- is hanging up his monkey wrench and hammer. Or, his website, anyway. Said the long-time, heart-on-his-sleeve, softspoken Earth First! activist in his e-mailed newsletter this week:

This will be the final e-mail from North Coast Earth First! Media. After 13 years of activism, under the banner of "North Coast Earth First!," it's finally time to lay it to rest. My journey began in September of 1998, and my first action with Earth First! was the day that David "Gypsy" Chain was killed. After a very active decade, and a relatively quiet past 3 years, it's finally time for me to move on.

The final newsletter contains two memorials: One for Chain, and one for Wakan's mother, called "Mama Joy Belle," who died three years ago Sept. 25. In the memorial for his mom, Wakan wrote:

Like most moms, she was initially very worried about my involvement with North Coast Earth First! Since I was facing potential involuntary manslaughter charges, in association with the death of David "Gypsy" Chain, her concern was well-warranted. She was well-aware of the corporate power structure, and warned me that "these are dangerous people you're dealing with."

Wakan fell out with some local activists also identifying with Earth First!, and their rift came to a head in 2007 after Wakan and a donor battled with the Trees Foundation over rights to a large donation.

The tone of his resignation is part weary: "We've been getting donated website hosting for the past several month, yet I just noticed that the website is down and have been unable to contact the administrator." Plus, he adds, there's not a lot going in Humboldt right now except for the court-malingering Richardson Grove.

And part defiant: "I will always be an activist at heart, and will continue to do all I can do to make the world a better place, as long as I still have breath."

Keep in touch, friends, says Shunka: E-mail: Facebook:



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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Golden Rule revival

Posted By on Tue, Sep 13, 2011 at 1:14 PM


Remember the little peace ketch we told you about, the Golden Rule? She's the 30-foot double-masted tall-ship beauty whom Quaker activists twice tried to sail to the Marshall Islands in the late 1950s to interrupt U.S. atmospheric nuclear weapons testing.

She fell into a variety of hands after that, including, more recently, into those of Eureka doctor Laurence Badgley, before ending up sad, neglected, battered and beached in front of Leroy Zerlang's boat repair yard on the Samoa Peninsula. Zerlang and his son, Cody, had twice rescued her from a wayward, sinking, end-of-career demise in Humboldt Bay, and the Garberville and Humboldt Veterans for Peace chapters finally took charge of her resurrection.

Well, that's coming along nicely, despite the ever-pressing need for more cash and supplies, says restoration coordinator Chuck DeWitt. For the past year, in space donated by Zerlang, a part-time, small volunteer crew of experienced shipwrights has been slowly rebuilding the Golden Rule.

"We've got the planking underway," said DeWitt. "We started at the bow and worked our way toward the back. In order to finish the planking on the side, we had to re-do the transom -- that's the stern of the boat."

The transom is a lovely thing, made of purple heart, a redder-than-mahogany, extremely hard wood from South America. "You hit a log at night, going through the bay, and it won't poke a hole in the hull," DeWitt said.

Crews have also cleaned out her inside, inspected the keel -- in good shape -- and replaced broken ribs. They're at a standstill on finishing the planking, though. "Our boatwright, David Peterson, who's doing most of the planking, he's got his hands full right now repairing wooden salmon boats and crab boats so people who need to make a living can go out fishing."

In the meantime, they're asking for plywood donations to build a carport over her in time for winter; right now she's sheltered under a flimsy tarp canopy. They figure they need 30 sheets of 4x8 plywood for the project.

They're amassing more supplies for the Golden Rule, as well.

"I just brought down 1,200 board feet of Port Orford Cedar from up by Tistol River in Oregon -- that's above Brookings 15-20 miles," said DeWitt. "When it's tight grained, good quality, it's a very very good wood for boats. We will use it for planking, for deck supports, for flooring and probably several other things."

Half of the cedar was donated, he said, and he got the other half at a drastically reduced price.

They've got a possible lead on some parts from a sail boat -- anchor, hardware, maybe a mast and water and fuel tanks. And they still need an engine.

"We're looking for a 40-horsepower diesel engine, close to new as possible," said DeWitt.

Most of all, though, they need more savvy ship builders.

"It's not like building a house," DeWitt said. "Anybody can pound a nail. On a boat, it's totally different. It's practically impossible to find experienced people. We've got two or three right now, but they're only part time because they have jobs. We have a girl, actually, who has experience, but she spends a lot of time out at sea on various sailboats."

Wanna help? Contact Peter Aronson with the Humboldt Bay Chapter of Veterans For Peace: or 707-442-3009.

You can check out the Veterans for Peace Golden Rule Project here:


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Friday, September 9, 2011

Class action money

Posted By on Fri, Sep 9, 2011 at 11:43 AM

Another round of payments has gone out in the Skilled Healthcare nursing home settlement, potentially triggering fresh confusion over how to keep as much money as possible without losing government benefits.

Many people getting compensated for time they spent in understaffed nursing homes, including five homes in Humboldt County, receive disability or medical coverage that's only available to people with very few assets.

California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform has gotten worried questions from relatives or individuals who've received settlements as high as $50,000, although most of its inquiries involved lower amounts.

The group has a toll-free line, (800) 474-1116, to help people with individualized advice about how to handle the money.

The payments late last month averaged $5,591 per person, bringing the total distributed so far to $9.3 million, according to class action attorney Timothy Needham. One more distribution is planned.

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