Monday, July 7, 2014

Eureka Denies Release of Controversial Memo

Posted By on Mon, Jul 7, 2014 at 3:17 PM

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After conferring with an outside attorney, the city of Eureka has denied a Journal request seeking the release of a controversial memo penned by former City Manager Bill Panos on the day he left his employment with the city.

The Oct. 4 memo — or, more specifically, the controversy surrounding it — was thrust into public light by a declaration former Eureka City Councilman Lance Madsen penned on his deathbed, alleging that City Attorney Cydny Day-Wilson improperly distributed Panos’ memo to City Hall employees and then lied about having done so.

In the declaration and an accompanying investigative report, Madsen said Panos sent the memo to city council members, making clear it was confidential and contained personnel information. Nonetheless, Madsen said city employees quickly became aware of the memo, which Panos dubbed a “reorganization blueprint” but city attorneys reportedly began referring to as “Panos’ hit list” because it was sharply critical of some city department heads.

In his investigation report, Madsen details a number of interviews he conducted with city employees and a council member trying to ascertain how the document began circulating through City Hall. Madsen concluded that Councilwoman Melinda Ciarabellini had turned the document over to Day-Wilson, concerned that it might open the city up to some form of litigation. Day-Wilson, Madsen alleges, then made copies of the document and gave them to at least two city employees, reportedly telling them that the document was emailed to the council and therefore was a public document and did not warrant the protections normally granted personnel matters. For a full story on Madsen’s allegations, read past Journal coverage here.

The Journal submitted a California Public Records Act seeking the release of Panos’ memo, but the request was recently denied by the city, which found “the public interest served by not disclosing the record clearly outweighs the public interested served by disclosure,” according to an email from City Clerk Pam Powell. In response to a follow up question, Powell said current City Manager Greg Sparks reached the determination after consulting with outside counsel.
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Friday, July 4, 2014

Father, Son Killed in Alleged Fortuna DUI

Posted By on Fri, Jul 4, 2014 at 2:23 PM

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A 74-year-old man and his 53-year-old son were both killed Thursday night in a suspected DUI crash on Fortuna's Drake Hill Road, the California Highway Patrol reported this morning.

According to the CHP, Jacky Martin, 53, of San Francisco, was driving a 2004 Mini Cooper southbound on Ronald Avenue toward Drake Hill Road with his father, Thomas Martin, 74, of Fortuna, in the passenger seat. Jacky Martin was driving under the influence of alcohol, according to CHP, and failed to stop at the intersection of Drake Hill Road before colliding with a dirt embankment south of the intersection, causing the vehicle to overturn.

Neither Jacky Martin nor his father were wearing their seat belts, according to CHP. Jacky Martin was declared dead at the scene and his father was transported to Redwood Memorial Hospital, where he died early Friday morning.

The accident was potentially the second DUI fatality at the intersection in the last seven months. In December, Michael Horn was allegedly driving drunk, heading southbound on Ronald Avenue, when he blew threw the same stop sign, his 2002 Suburu colliding head-on with the same embankment on the south side of Drake Hill Road, killing one of Horn's passengers and seriously injuring two others.

The full CHP press releases from both incidents are copied below:


July 4, 2014

HUMBOLDT, Calif. - On the night of July 3rd, A solo vehicle traffic collision at the intersection of Drake Hill Road and Ronald Avenue in the Fortuna area claimed the lives of a father and son.

At approximately 9:00 p.m., 53 year old Jacky Martin of San Francisco was driving a 2004 Mini Cooper southbound on Ronald Avenue, approaching the intersection of Drake Hill Road. 74 year old Thomas Martin of Fortuna, Jacky's father, was seated in the right front passenger seat. Jacky, who was driving under the influence of alcohol, failed to stop at the intersection of Drake Hill Road. As the Mini Cooper continued through the intersection, Jacky applied the vehicle's brakes and turned to the left. The Mini Cooper's passenger side subsequently collided into a dirt embankment south of the intersection. This impact combined with the vehicle's velocity at impact caused the vehicle to overturn. The Mini Cooper ultimately came to rest on its roof. Neither Jacky nor Thomas were wearing their seat belts at the time of the collision. Thomas remained in the vehicle, but Jacky was partially ejected. Jacky was declared deceased at the scene and Thomas was transported by ground ambulance to Redwood Memorial Hospital in Fortuna where he succumbed to his injuries the early morning of July 4th.

DUI is believed to be a factor in this traffic collision. The collision scene was managed with the assistance of the Fortuna Police Department and the Fortuna Volunteer Fire Department. The CHP Humboldt Area office is investigating this traffic collision.

This collision occurred on the eve of Independence Day during the CHP's Independence Day Maximum Enforcement Period. The CHP will continue to heavily enforce DUI activity and unbelted occupants through the weekend along with the anticipated increased number of motorists on Humboldt County's roadways. We urge all motorists to plan ahead and designate a sober driver before the festivities begin.


December 16, 2013

On 12/16/2013, at approximately 0208 hours, Mr. Michael Horn was driving a 2002 Subaru southbound on Ronald Avenue. Due to Mr. Horns level of intoxication, Mr. Horn failed to stop at the posted stop sign at the intersection with Drake Hill Road. The Subaru traveled through the intersection and collided head-on into a dirt embankment on the south shoulder of Drake Hill Road. The right rear passenger, suffered fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased at the scene. Two other passengers, Julia Ralsten and Ashley Humphrey also suffered major injuries and are currently both in critical condition. Occupant restraint usage and air bag deployment are being investigated. Mr. Horn was arrested for felony DUI and vehicular manslaughter, and was subsequently booked into the Humboldt County Jail. Officer Hindley #15771 is investigating the collision. Ronald Avenue and Drake Hill Road were open to controlled traffic and was closed for approximately 20 minutes during vehicle recovery.

The cause of the collision is still under investigation by the California Highway Patrol. The identity of the deceased passenger is being withheld pending family notifications.

The California Highway Patrol - Humboldt Area responded to the scene and is conducting the investigation. Emergency personnel from Fortuna Fire Department, Fortuna Police Department, and the Humboldt County Coroner’s responded to the scene to assist with the investigation.


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Clowns Prefer the Journal

Posted By on Fri, Jul 4, 2014 at 9:49 AM

MARK LARSON PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Mark Larson Photography
Dell' Arte International recently awarded its 2014 Prize of Hope to Clowns Without Borders, setting off a day of clowning around and red-nosed hijinks. Blue Lake's prestigious performing arts school hands out the annual Prize of Hope to the person or theatre who has worked "for the hope of humankind; daringly, lovingly, vulgarly, seriously, poetically... with sparkling energy against conventional thinking, which is the greatest threat to our culture," according to its webpage. Clowns Without Borders is a group of clowns and performing artists that travel to war zones, areas of natural disaster and other places in crisis to perform shows that promote laughter and joy.

Mark Larson was out in Blue Lake last week to capture some of the fun, and was kind enough to share the following photos.

MARK LARSON PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Mark Larson Photography
MARK LARSON PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Mark Larson Photography
MARK LARSON PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Mark Larson Photography
MARK LARSON PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Mark Larson Photography
MARK LARSON PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Mark Larson Photography
MARK LARSON PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Mark Larson Photography
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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Postal Consolidation Back on the Table

Posted By on Wed, Jul 2, 2014 at 4:43 PM

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Eureka’s mail processing center is once again on the chopping block.

It seems the United States Postal Service has once again put forward a proposal to consolidate Eureka’s processing facility into one in Medford, Oregon, which would cause a loss of local jobs and delay incoming and outgoing mail service for the North Coast. North Coast Congressman Jared Huffman and Rep. Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena) both sent a letter opposing the move to the postmaster general today and issued a press release. Both can be found below.

For Immediate Release
July 2, 2014

Huffman, Thompson to USPS: Don’t Close Petaluma and Eureka Mail Processing Centers

Huffman & Thompson: “We are again opposing this misguided consolidation as a means to solve the USPS financial crisis”

WASHINGTON¬—Reps. Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) and Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena) today sent a letter to Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe expressing their strong opposition to the United States Postal Service’s (USPS) announcement of a plan to close both the North Bay Processing and Distribution Center in Petaluma and the Eureka Customer Service Mail Processing Center. Huffman and Thompson previously opposed the consolidation plan when it was first proposed in 2011, citing that this plan would cause disruption of mail delivery, cause job loss, and damage local economies.

“In 2011, we opposed this same consolidation proposal because we knew then that such a proposal would hurt the local economy and be detrimental to mail delivery in the region,” Huffman and Thompson wrote. “We are again opposing this misguided consolidation as a means to solve the USPS financial crisis. It is our understanding that this decision will result in the loss of hundreds of postal staff positions, and our constituents will face a 2 to 3 day service standard for First-Class Mail, instead of 1 to 3 days. This change would be especially difficult for seniors, veterans, and our rural communities, who rely on timely delivery of prescriptions and other postal services.”

The full text of the letter can be found HERE or below:
July 2, 2014

Patrick R. Donahoe
Postmaster General and Chief Executive Officer
United States Postal Service
475 L’Enfant Plaza, SW
Washington, D.C. 20260

Dear Postmaster General Donahoe:

We write to express our strong opposition to the recently announced plan by the United States Postal Service (USPS) to consolidate mail processing operations from both the North Bay Processing and Distribution Center (P&DC) in Petaluma, CA and the Eureka Customer Service Mail Processing Center (CSMPC) in Eureka, CA. Such actions will decrease mail service, result in job loss, and negatively impact our communities.

In 2011, we opposed this same consolidation proposal because we knew then that such a proposal would hurt the local economy and be detrimental to mail delivery in the region. While we appreciated your initial postponement of this plan after hearing strong opposition from the public, we are disappointed to learn that you continued to quietly move operations to the facilities in Oakland, CA and Medford, OR. We are again opposing this misguided consolidation as a means to solve the USPS financial crisis. It is our understanding that this decision will result in the loss of hundreds of postal staff positions, and residents of the counties we represent will face a 2 to 3 day service standard for First-Class Mail, instead of 1 to 3 days. This change would be especially difficult for seniors, veterans, and our rural communities, who rely on the timely delivery of prescriptions and other postal services.

We support the USPS reexamining its business model and finding new ways to maximize efficiency, improve service, and reduce costs. However, reducing much-needed services and delaying mail delivery is counterproductive to making the Postal Service a global competitor in the 21st century. We understand that the USPS cannot sustain itself under its current system, and we agree it is up to Congress to act. However, your unilateral decision to take action against the expressed intent of Members of Congress and the public is unacceptable.

We strongly urge you to retain the North Bay P&DC in Petaluma and the Eureka CSMPC, and look forward to working with you to find an alternative course of action.

Sincerely,

Jared Huffman Mike Thompson
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Cc: David Stowe, District Manager
San Francisco District, United States Postal Service

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Historically Dry

Posted By on Tue, Jul 1, 2014 at 3:57 PM

HOLLY HARVEY
  • Holly Harvey
June 30 brought the close of the 2013-2014 water year, and it will go down in history as one of the driest ever recorded in Eureka. According to measurements by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s station at Woodley Island Marina, the area recorded about .35 inches of unexpected rainfall in June, bringing the year’s total to 21.11 inches, just 52 percent of the 30-year average. For those keeping score at home, 2013-2014 will go down as the third driest year on record since the folks with NOAA began keeping track, trailing only the 17.56 inches of rain recorded in the historic drought year of 1976-1977 and the 20.72 inches that came down in 1923-1924. For some perspective on just how serious this drought year was, take a look at this graph, on which we’ve detailed this year’s month-by-month precipitation totals, as well as those for 1976-1977 and the 30-year average.

We also asked the kind meteorologists at NOAA to crunch some numbers for us to figure out the driest two-year stretches ever recorded at Woodley Island. The period from July 1, 1929 through June 30 1931 recorded just 44.82 inches of rain at the marina, making it the driest in history, followed by the period from July 1, 1922 through June 30, 1924, which totaled just 45.9 inches. The period from July 1, 1976 through June 30, 1978 (included in the graph above) recorded 51.11 inches, making it the fourth-driest in recorded history. Our current stretch (from July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2014) came in seventh on the list with 53.42 inches of rainfall.
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Look, an LFL!

Posted By on Tue, Jul 1, 2014 at 8:57 AM

The new Little Free Library in Old Town - PHOTO COURTESY BARRY EVANS
  • Photo courtesy Barry Evans
  • The new Little Free Library in Old Town

That's a "Little Free Library" to the uninitiated. And, according to our very own master of the field notes, Journal contributor Barry Evans, there's a new one in town. Evans and his wife, Louisa Rogers, are in fact responsible for the thing, which resides on the Snug Alley backside of the Redwood Curtain Theatre.

But what is it?

"It’s a simple idea," says Evans. "Take a book, leave a book, feel free to browse. All it takes is a small weatherproof box with a window showing the books inside, and the regular attention of a steward to tidy books up and make sure there are always — in our case, 40 to 50 — books on hand plus an assortment of magazines."

And it's open all the time. Rogers got the idea for the library after she saw one in Madison, Wis. "A trip to the local thrift store, a spot of carpentry, and four long bolts was all it took to create The Redwood Curtain Theatre Little Free Library, No. 15,424," says Evans.

The Little Free Library concept arose in Wisconsin in 2009, Evans says. Now there are more than 15,000 in the world — including three others already in Humboldt: in Arcata on the side of Leslie Rohan's house at 841 13th St.; at 1641 Hyland St. in Bayside, stewarded by Gordon and Iris Inkeles; and in Arcata at the Jacoby Storehouse, run by Mary Gifford of The Rocking Horse.

Learn more about it at littlefreelibrary.org. Or you can pester Evans: barryevans9@yahoo.com. And you can read more about some of the other LFLs in Humboldt here and here.
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