Monday, October 7, 2013

Feeling OK

Posted By on Mon, Oct 7, 2013 at 1:51 PM


Pop quiz: Sarah Palin, in a speech during the 2008 presidential campaign, famously accused candidate Barack Obama of "palling around with terrorists." Who were these terrorists she was referring to?

Bonus question: How did at least one of these said terrorists handle all of the attention, much of it threatening, that blossomed during the campaign?

Answer: Bill Ayers is one of them, of course, who has spent many a summer hiding in broad sunshine in our North Coast mountains, eating good food with family and friends, and writing.

Bonus answer: If you read Ayers' new book, Public Enemy: Confessions of an American Dissident, you'll get a thorough account of his feelings and thoughts on that whole affair and other moments in his life post-fugitive. Public Enemy is the sequel to Ayers' Fugitive Days: Memoirs of an Anti-War Activist, a chronicle of his and his wife, Bernardine Dohrn's, 10 years on the run following their involvement in the radical-left Weather Underground in the late 1960s and the 1970s.

Here's an inkling of the answer, however, which seems pretty reflective of Ayers' seemingly ever-upbeat personality. It's taken from an excerpt of his new book, published Sunday, Oct. 6, in Salon:

"These were different times with new responsibilities and unique demands, to be sure. But I had a good job and work to do that I thought was important, and I was deeply connected with a sturdy network of brilliant students and a huge community of agitators, activists, dissidents, and outcasts — lepers in a metaphorical sense, or at least folks who’d been forced out of the camp for 'having issues' — as well as organizers and engaged colleagues. I had a cast of heroes, sheroes, weirdoes, and queeroes in my life, I knew who my friends were, and I knew I wasn’t alone. So under the bus or tied to the railroad tracks, I was feeling OK — pretty great in fact. The best in the world, as my dad would have said."

Public Enemy goes on sale starting tomorrow, Oct. 8. Northtown Books in Arcata says it  will have copies. A news release from Ayers says, "Several Tea Party brothers have written to tell Bill they will take the book to the Annual Rush Limbaugh Book Burning Party — so extra copies are in order!" Ahem.

The North Coast Journal interviewed Ayers and Dohrn in Arcata in 2009. You can read that here.
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Friday, October 4, 2013

Not Every Park Is Shut!

Posted By on Fri, Oct 4, 2013 at 3:30 PM

Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park - PHOTO BY HEIDI WALTERS
  • Photo by Heidi Walters
  • Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park

Dearest citizens of the U.S. of A.,

Yes, your national park system units are shut down for as long as your national government is in powerdown mode. Rage against the closures if you must; we've heard, back-channel, that some people want to storm Samoa Beach — the portion operated by the Bureau of Land Management — or wander guilelessly into Redwood National Park. If you do go all rebel like that, just please, DON'T TRASH THE PLACE. Seriously. Love your land, people.

OK, that said, we also hear some folks — we won't say who — are worried about access to ANY parks. State parks. County parks. Dear ones, county and state parks are not, as a result of this federal lights-out, closed. It's a little confusing when it comes to the state parks, we know; after all, a fiscal pseudo-crisis among our state parks system led to mass-panic over state park closures in recent years and did affect some of our local parks. But not all was grim; at least one of them that nearly shut down, Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park, is alive and open today — and even offering respite to national park refugees.

"I've been getting a lot of phone calls from visitors saying, 'Are you open?'" said Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park ranger Emily Peterson this afternoon. "In fact, there's some people camping here right now that were supposed to be at Yosemite."

Swooping granite. Towering redwoods. What's the diff?

There's tons of public land out there to enjoy. So get outside this weekend.
Where the river swoops by Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park. - PHOTO BY HEIDI WALTERS
  • Photo by Heidi Walters
  • Where the river swoops by Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park.

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Sheriff Downey: 'It Sickens Me What's Happening to Our County'

Posted By on Fri, Oct 4, 2013 at 11:07 AM

  • File photo courtesy Humboldt County Sheriff's Office
Members of the Buckeye Conservancy gathered along with HSU faculty, local business owners and timber industry professionals last night for a presentation by Sheriff Mike Downey on the impact of industrial marijuana grows.

"It sickens me to see what's happening to our county," said Downey.

In a 20-minute slideshow presentation the sheriff illustrated the environmental problems associated with large marijuana grows, including sediment slides from illegal grading, water diversion, rodenticides and hazardous waste leaks.

"It's getting to the point where I'm asking my deputies to wear protective gear when they go in, some of these sites are so toxic," Downey said, referring to the presence of chemicals such as DDT and methomyl, which are sometimes used to deter vermin from the plants.

He went on to cite lack of funding for enforcement as a major hindrance to addressing the problems, though he said at this time the District Attorney's office has a special task force whose primary focus is land issues.

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Wiyot Casino Haul In Jeopardy

Posted By on Wed, Oct 2, 2013 at 3:26 PM

click image Preliminary artist's rendering. - COURTESY THE NORTH FORK RANCHERIA
  • courtesy the North Fork Rancheria
  • Preliminary artist's rendering.
Opponents to off-reservation casinos submitted enough signatures yesterday to qualify their initiative for the 2014 ballot — and if they succeed in their mission, our very own Wiyot Tribe will be out some significant winnings.

“Keep Vegas-Style Casinos Out of Neighborhoods, a project of Stand Up for California,” wants specifically to stop a 200-room, 2,000-slot hotel-casino proposed by the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians and for which a state-tribe gaming compact has been signed. The casino would be in Madera County — not on current North Fork Rancheria land, but on land about 35 miles west, off Route 99, that the Rancheria says is ancestral. The final step would be for the federal government to take the land into trust for the tribe.

According to The Fresno Bee, the "Stand Up" folks turned in more than 800,000 signatures yesterday. They worry, the Bee reports, that allowing a tribal casino on non-reservation land would set a precedent for finding a way around voter-approved Proposition 1-A, "which allows Indian gaming only on a tribe's originally restored lands." Among these opponents are some big tribes who fear the competition.

The tribe says its reservation, as is, isn't big enough for a casino. And another, way smaller tribe — the 800-member Wiyot Tribe — has agreed not to build a hotel-casino on environmentally sensitive Table Bluff, in Humboldt County, in exchange for a portion of winnings from North Fork's venture.

Read the Bee piece here. Some of our coverage explaining the Wiyot's involvement is here and here. And here's news on the latest Indian casino in the works by Station Casinos, the North Fork casino's Las Vegas-based developer. It's in Rohnert Park, and the Las Vegas Review-Journal says it "will be the largest Indian gaming destination in the Bay Area."

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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Curtains for the Redwoods

Posted By on Tue, Oct 1, 2013 at 2:30 PM

Redwood National Park - PHOTO BY HEIDI WALTERS
  • Photo by Heidi Walters
  • Redwood National Park
Yep, they've shut 'em down, our lovely, looming patches of redwoods within the federal government's jurisdiction — for who knows how long. Redwood National Park is one of the 401 national parks that closed today, along with numerous other federal outfits, as the federal government powered down after Republicans and Democrats failed to agree on a spending bill.

Included in the fallout:

102 employees are furloughed, leaving eight employees to handle security and emergencies;

visitor facilities, trails, backcountry areas, picnic areas and roads — except Highway 101, Hwy 199 and Bald Hills Road — are closed;

park programs are canceled — including a ranger-led program that 115 schoolkids were planning to partake in this week;

the resource management program is suspended — and that nixes a prescribed burn that was planned in the Bald Hills.

That last one seems worrisome. Notes the news release:

"To not perform the burn within this rare window of weather conditions and moisture levels may have many future ecological impacts."

Here's a bright spot: The shutdown does not affect the state parks conjoined with Redwood National Park: Jedediah Smith Redwoods, Del Norte Coast Redwoods and Prairie Creek Redwoods state parks.

They don't care. - PHOTO BY HEIDI WALTERS
  • Photo by Heidi Walters
  • They don't care.
The news release:

Government Shutdown Forces Closure of Redwood National Park

Crescent City, CA – Because of the shutdown of the federal government caused by the lapse in appropriations, the National Park Service (NPS) has closed all 401 national parks, including Redwood National Park. All visitor facilities including the Thomas H. Kuchel and Crescent City Visitor Centers, park trails, backcountry areas, picnic areas, and roads—except for throughways, such as Highway 101, Hwy 199 and Bald Hills Road—are closed. The park will remain closed until the government reopens.

However, it is important to note that the California State Parks within the Redwood National and State Parks partnership are open, including: Jedediah Smith Redwoods, Del Norte Coast Redwood, and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Parks.

All Redwood National Park programs have been canceled. For example, ranger-led programs were cancelled for several community outreach education programs and for over 115 school children this week alone. The shutdown also impacts the park’s resource management program, forcing the cancellation of a planned and much-needed prescribed burn in the Bald Hills area of the park. To not perform the burn within this rare window of weather conditions and moisture levels may have many future ecological impacts.

Redwood National Park hosts several thousand visitors on average each day in October; nationally, more than 715,000 visitors a day frequent the National Park System. Nationwide the NPS stands to lose approximately $450,000 per day in lost revenue from fees collected at entry stations and fees paid for in-park activities such as cave tours, boat rides and camping. Gateway communities across the country see about $76 million per day in total sales from visitor spending that is lost during a government shutdown. Visitors spend over $22 million a year in the communities around Redwood National Park.

In Redwood National Park, 102 employees are on furlough because of the shutdown. Eight employees remain on duty, providing security and emergency services. Nationwide the shutdown has also furloughed more than 20,000 National Park Service employees; approximately 3,000 employees remain on duty to ensure essential health, safety, and security functions at parks and facilities. About 12,000 park concessions employees are also affected.

Because it will not be maintained, the National Park Service website will be down for the duration of the shutdown. has more than 750,000 pages and 91 million unique visitors each year.

For updates on the shutdown, please visit

About the National Park Service. National Park Service employees care for America's 401 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities.

* * * *

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Voices from The Edge

Posted By on Tue, Oct 1, 2013 at 7:58 AM

Humboldt residents living on the edge of poverty now have a voice.

That was the intention of Lorena Boswell, founder and editor of The Humboldt Edge, a street paper whose first issue comes out today. Boswell told the Journal today that publication of the first issue has been delayed by a week.

"I am so grateful that I have this opportunity: that people on the edge, who are wary because they have been knocked down so many times, are trusting me to be the platform for their voice,” she says. Boswell is a volunteer coordinator at HSU. The yearly trips she organizes for students to help the needy in cities such as San Francisco and Portland helped inspire this project.

This year she and her students spent spring break in Sacramento, and Boswell had an opportunity to meet with the editor of Homeward, that area's periodical written by houseless and low-income residents. That meeting was a catalyst for an idea that had been germinating in Boswell's mind for several years: a similar paper for Humboldt County.

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