Monday, April 30, 2012

At the Courthouse: What's Wrong/Right with This Picture?

Posted By on Mon, Apr 30, 2012 at 11:41 AM


Keep on the grass!

About five and a half months after it went up, the fence surrounding the Humboldt County Courthouse lawn is gone. A frequent target of Occupy Eureka signage and disdain, the barrier was removed this morning by county officials and the vendor from whom the fence was rented.

As you'd expect, occupiers happily rolled right on to the grass, enjoying what they perceived as a slight symbolic victory.

"I think in some ways we have beaten them," occupier James Decker said. "They have not been able to get rid of us."

But in case you're worried that the county has surrendered to the power of Occupy Eureka, know that there is non-political reasoning behind the fence removal.

"We determined that the rainy season is over," said Assistant County Administrative Officer Cheryl Dillingham. "The lawn can accommodate foot traffic again."

Well, great. But it could sure use a mow. 


(Click photos to biggify!)



Previously: The End of Occupy Eureka?

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Friday, April 27, 2012

More On Andy Caffrey's Dubious Polling

Posted By on Fri, Apr 27, 2012 at 4:40 PM

After ... I took to the Facebooks


The next few messages were about why Caffrey hadn't received my follow-up email. First he said he 






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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Political Polling Shenanigans

Posted By on Thu, Apr 26, 2012 at 4:01 PM



Late last month, Claire Josefine got a phone call from an anonymous pollster. The woman asked Josefine to rank a list of issues (education, the environment, jobs, etc.) from most to least important and then asked who she intends to vote for in the 1st Supervisorial District, where Josefine lives.

Recalling the phone conversation earlier this week, Josefine said she told the woman that she'll be voting for Cheryl Seidner. Asked if she had a second choice Josefine said, "No," and the woman, sounding enthused, responded, "OK, great! Can I tell Cheryl?" Josefine recalled.

"I thought that was weird," Josefine said. The pollster also reportedly asked if Josefine would like a Seidner lawn sign, which also seemed odd because Josefine has been volunteering for the Seidner campaign and she'd heard nothing about phone polls. After hanging up with the pollster, Josefine called a campaign organizer who confirmed that, sure enough, nobody with the Seidner campaign was conducting any polling.

Over the next few weeks, the Seidner campaign received a number of calls from confused 1st District residents saying that they, too, had received polling calls. Former State Assemblymember Patty Berg -- who lives in the 1st -- was called twice, and the script, as recalled to the Journal, was nearly identical.

"He asked if I'd be willing to put up a yard sign," Berg remembered. "I said, 'I already have two.' He asked if I'd be willing to assist her [Seidner]. I said, 'I already am.'"

Just who is conducting the poll? Good question. (Thank you.) The other two candidates in the race -- Rex Bohn and Annette de Modina -- say they know nothing about it. Josefine said her caller I.D. registered a Eureka phone number under the name "Campaign Comm." When the Journal called the number, a woman answered and said it was a private residence and an unlisted number. Worried we may have misdialed or written down the wrong number, we double-checked with our sources and called again. This time there was no answer. We've called six times since, on two different phones, and each time it just rings and rings.

Anyone else out there gotten one of these calls? Let us know.


The few internal campaign polls that have been released in the 2nd District U.S. Congressional race all have one thing in common: Jared Huffman is in the lead. Aside from that, they're all over the place. Here are the results of a much-cited poll leaked by Huffman's own campaign earlier this month:


Notice Stacey Lawson's position in second place. This poll was conducted by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates, a California-based firm with offices in Oakland and Santa Monica. According to the Huffman campaign the methodology involved 500 telephone interviews with registered district voters "who are likely to cast ballots in the June 2012 primary election." The interviews were conducted from March 23-29, and the results have an eyebrow-raising margin of error of +/- 4.9 percent.

Compare that with a poll released by Norman Solomon's campaign yesterday, showing the North Bay activist in second place. The poll, conducted by Lake Research Partners, found that nearly half (47 percent) of primary voters were still undecided. The rest of the results were as follows:

State Assemblymember Jared Huffman currently leads with 18%, followed by Solomon with 10% of the vote, then [Marin] County Supervisor Susan Adams (8%), and small businesswoman Stacey Lawson in fourth place (5%). The remaining candidates, including both Republicans, all receive 3% or less.

Like Huffman's poll, the findings were based on 500 phone interviews with a random sample of likely 2012 primary election voters. These interviews were conducted April 17-19 and have a similar margin of error (+/- 4.4 percent). According to a press release, the poll's methodology was meant to simulate the voting booth:

The candidates were read in the order they will appear on the ballot, along with their ballot labels and party preference. Respondents were given no information on any of the candidates before the ballot question was read.

Now let's look at a poll released by Earth First! organizer and Humboldt County resident Andy Caffrey (click on it to view full-size):


Again, there's Huffman up top (with 23 percent), but below that things get weird. For one thing, Caffrey's poll places him in a close fourth place, with 8 percent support. Both of the other polls give him less than 3 percent. Straining credulity even further is where he puts mega-fundraising-contender Stacey Lawson: 1 percent -- and nowhere in the last seven months has she surpassed 2 percent, according to Caffrey's poll. He sent a press release along with the poll, which said in part:

There are only four people in this race now, Jared Huffman, Susan Adams, Norman Solomon, and Andy Caffrey. Lawson with her $800,000 campaign and her 1% is being crushed by my $10,000 Internet and grassroots organizing campaign which has produced 8% support for me.

We contacted Caffrey to ask about the methodology of his poll. He responded via email that he hires a consulting firm in Illinois called Triumph Political, and that Triumph contracts out the actual polling to a third-party company.

"I do not know anything about that firm and have no contact with it," Caffrey said. A brief Google search returned no results for an Illinois firm called Triumph Political. Yesterday morning we sent a follow-up email to Caffrey asking for more details. He has yet to respond.

A while back he did respond to the Journal's March 15 cover story on the Congressional race, taking to the Interwebs where he unleashed a potent mix of contortionist logic, suspect data and wishful thinking to argue (at great length) that "Andy Caffrey [is] running neck-and-neck with and beating millionaires in this race."

Evidently our lack of respect for his powerhouse campaign hasn't hurt his chances. Today on Facebook Caffrey boasted, "I've done the calculations: I only need $5,000 more to win the primary election!"

Where will he get that money? He hints at a source: "There's a lot of pot money up here," he says (WHAT?!), "and I've only received a couple hundred dollars of that."

Oh, snap, growers. Andy Caffrey just called you out! Time to pony up.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

More Eureka Drama: Ax-wielding Husband Just Wanted the Keys

Posted By on Wed, Apr 25, 2012 at 10:46 AM

Yowza! Press release from the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office:

On 04-24-2012, approximately 4:00 p.m. Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office was notified of a domestic disturbance in progress occurring in the 3600 block of Union Street, Eureka. The husband was reported to be chasing the wife with an Ax. When deputies arrived on scene the suspect, identified as Ted Lewis, 76 years old from Eureka met with them at the driveway to the residence. Deputies detained Lewis without incident.

They spoke with the victim and a witness who told them Lewis and his wife got into an argument over keys. Lewis pushed the wife to the ground twice, and then picked up a double bladed Ax. He told the victim he was going to use it on her if she failed to give him keys and swung it at the victim towards the torso area nearly striking her. The victim was able to step back to avoid being struck by the Ax. Lewis then began striking the victims car parked in the driveway with the Ax causing significant damage to the vehicle.

At one point during the assault the witness intervened and was punched by Lewis in the chest. The victim and witness were uninjured during the assault.

Deputies arrested Lewis for assault with a deadly weapon and domestic violence. He was booked into the Humboldt County Correctional Facility. His bail was set at $50,000.00.

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On Yesterday's Hit-and-Run/Officer Assault in Eureka

Posted By on Wed, Apr 25, 2012 at 10:30 AM


Press release from the Eureka Police Department:

On 4-24-12 at about 3:15pm EPD Officers were dispatched to a hit and run collision that just occurred in the vicinity of the 4200 block of Broadway. It was reported that a red station wagon collided with two cars, then fled the scene. The suspect and vehicle were last reported to be in the parking lot at the Bayshore Mall. It was later determined that while the suspect vehicle was at the Bayshore Mall it collided into two more vehicles and ran over a parked motorcycle. The suspect, later identified as Ryan Engebretson 34 years old of Bayside, left the mall and headed northbound on Broadway.

We just have to interrupt this press release for a second to point out how much this guy looks like Tom Hardy in Bronson. Seriously, check it out:


Okay, back to it:

An Officer saw a red station wagon with a left front flat tire traveling at about 70 MPH northbound on Broadway at Del Norte. The Officer turned around and attempted to make a traffic stop on the vehicle. The vehicle slowed briefly but then accelerated away northbound on Broadway passing Wabash. Engebretson swerved in and out of traffic and eventually collided with a vehicle that was stopped in traffic southbound on Broadway near Grant Street.
Engebretson immediately got out of his vehicle with an open beer in hand. He refused to comply with Officer’s commands and began approaching two District Attorney Office investigators who stopped to assist. While approaching the investigators, Engebretson dropped the beer and began to produce a pocket knife. The investigators and Officers tackled Engebretson in an attempt to disarm him and take him into custody. Engebretson actively resisted while making several bizarre statements. After an extensive struggle Officers took Engebretson into custody. An ambulance was summoned to transport Engebretson to the hospital to be medically cleared before booking. Engebretson was found to be driving with a suspended driver’s license (suspended for DUI), and on probation for DUI with the stipulation that he obey all laws, violate no criminal statutes, not drive after consuming alcohol, and not drive without a valid license and insurance. In total Engebretson collided into six vehicles. He was cleared by the hospital and booked into jail on the following charges:
Felony evading a peace officer
Assault on a peace officer
Threats to a peace officer
Resisting arrest
Possession of concentrated cannabis
Driving under the influence of alcohol / drugs
Hit and run (5 counts)
Drive while suspended
Probation violation


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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

... And Another 1,669 Plants in McKinleyville

Posted By on Tue, Apr 24, 2012 at 4:06 PM

Rackin' 'em up today. For those keeping score, that comes out to 7,213 plant deaths chronicled in HCSO press releases today. The latest below:

On 04-24-2012, approximately 11:00 a.m. Humboldt County Sheriff’s Community Response Unit ( C.R.U.) Deputies assisted by the Humboldt County Drug Task Force served a Humboldt County Superior Court Search Warrant on a residence in the 800 block of Knowles Court, McKinleyville.

When deputies arrived no one was in the residence. Deputies searched the residence and located a sophisticated indoor marijuana growing operation with 1,669 growing marijuana plants ranging in size from 2 inches to two feet. Based on evidence the deputies located at the scene it was a “Cloning Operation,” where actual plants were being sold to other growers.

Deputies have identified at least one suspect based on evidence located at the scene, and will be seeking an arrest warrant for the resident seeking felony charges of cultivation and possession for sale of marijuana.

The Humboldt County Planning Department was called to the scene to evaluate the electrical wiring for hazardous conditions. PG&E was also requested to respond.

Earlier: 5,544 Plants Seized and Destroyed

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5,544 Growing Marijuana Plants Seized and Destroyed

Posted By on Tue, Apr 24, 2012 at 1:38 PM

Well, they were baby buds. But still ... damn! Press release from the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office below:

On 04-23-2012, approximately 1:30 p.m. the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office was notified by Humboldt Redwoods Company (H.R.C.) security that two security officers patrolling their property located what appeared to be a marijuana cultivation site.

Sheriffs deputies with the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Community Response Unit (C.R.U.) responded to the scene which was on H.R.C. property near Dyerville. Deputies met up with H.R.C. security and they walked back into the site at approximately 3:00 p.m. Deputies located a camp site with a Coleman stove, cooking utensils and numerous cultivation supplies. A further search of the area revealed 5, 544 growing marijuana plants ranging in size from two inches to five inches in height. The plants appeared to have been freshly watered. There were written items and food articles located in the campsite that indicated the suspects may have been Hispanic.

The plants were seized and destroyed. The case is still under investigation; no suspects were located or have been identified as of this time.

UPDATE: 1,669 More Plants Go Down

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Reality TV Goes Off The Grid

Posted By on Mon, Apr 23, 2012 at 12:23 PM


There's no rule that says just because you're living off the grid taming emus and stuff, you can't be ON TELEVISION. I mean, maybe you didn't kill your TV -- got it hooked up by satellite, dontcha know, and now you're willfully addicted to Modern Family, Jon Stewart, O'Reilly and all the cooking shows.

Maybe you didn't, actually, move deep into the woods to could get away from all that grotesque commercialism of the faux world that most of us inhabit and perhaps even embrace.

Or maybe you did. Whatever. Now's your chance to show off your superior living style -- or share it with us generously. Red Varden Studios has issued a casting call for participants in a reality show:

"We are now casting a large community, family or romantic couple that resides anywhere in the United States and lives OFF THE GRID."

Full text of the casting call below:

A television production company is now casting for a TV series that aims to highlight dynamic, unique, entertaining, communities/families/couples living off the grid.

If you, or a community, family or couple you know, are a modern day Swiss Family Robinson living off the grid, and are entertaining enough to captivate a national television audience…we want to hear from you!  Outgoing, dynamic, entertaining personalities are a must.

To be considered for the television series, please email us photographs of yourself and a description of each community/family/couple member.  Please tell us your story and why you would make for an entertaining national television reality series.  Include what city and state you live in and full contact information (name, number, email) via:

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Goodbye, Sweet Reservoir

Posted By on Mon, Apr 23, 2012 at 10:32 AM


Residents of the pretty little hilltop dead end of Stewart Street, in Fortuna, are bracing themselves for a prolonged construction disruption: Preparations for the demolition of the two 500,000 gallon reservoirs on their street, to be followed by construction of a new, 2 million gallon tank on the site, may begin as soon as this Friday.

Stewart Street resident Steve Brackenbury -- a frequent contributor to the Journal's poetry page, btw -- said the city had told neighbors that they'd get a month's notice before demolition begins. However, a notice posted on the city of Fortuna's website Friday notes the schedule has been sped up in order for the work to be finished in the allotted construction period. Neighbors, who were told the news Saturday, can attend a meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the council chambers to talk about the project.

The tanks' demise has been in the works for years, and there've been numerous public meetings. The project was part of a lengthy, multifaceted battle over where a new water tank should go, and whether a new tank was even needed.

First the city staff wanted to put the new tank in the city's forest, a second-growth redwood retreat in the city's lush Rohner Park. Dismayed residents wrestled that one down. So then the city said it could tear down the two old reservoirs on Stewart Street -- a leaking 100-year-old rectangular boringness, and an architecturally warm and pleasing 75-year-old conical one that makes one think that Jack in the Beanstalk has lost his hat. It's cute on the outside. It's pretty inside with its soaring wood latticework. It works.

The city reasons it needs new storage to replace the leaking rectangular tank and to meet the fire suppression and build-out needs of Fortuna. At least one citizen -- thorn-in-the-city's-side Janelle Egger (who famously sued the city for public records, ran for city council and lost, and these days has been seen hanging out with Occupy Eureka in front of the Courthouse) -- says another tank, the 5 MG tank on Vancil, plus the conical tank should more than cover the city's needs.

The city's engineers won that one. So now: the pending death of the conical wonder on Stewart Street, and its replacement with one of those functional -- but, at least, lower-profile -- modern flattops, the conceptual site of which prompted Brackenbury to note:

"...with so much of the urban architecture of the 20th century, there is little imagination but a lot of uninspired, easy to build, soul-killing edifices being built. We moved from the Bay Area three years ago and picked this spot, specifically because it was so beautiful."

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Have a Disgustingly Adorable Earth Day!

Posted By on Sun, Apr 22, 2012 at 11:02 AM

Happy Earth Day, HumCo! If you're just bumming around your domicile on this fine Sunday morning like I am, you might as well enhance it by throwing on the most pukingly, snuggly screen saver in the cosmos: Baby Panda Cam!

That's right! To commemorate Earth Day, the Annenberg Foundation has launched a live HD video feed of panda cubs frolicking at the Bifengxia Panda Reserve in China.

So full screen that bizness! It makes folding laundry way more bearable.

UPDATE 11:03 a.m.: Oh snap! Two baby pandas are rolling around! Ahh!!!

UPDATE 11:09 a.m.: Ack! That littlest one is using its paws to hold the piece of bamboo it's eating! My gawd!

UPDATE 11:15 a.m.: Holy Moses, one climbed a tree! This is insane!

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