Monday, August 31, 2015

UPDATE: Eureka City Council Tables Controversial Ordinances

Posted By on Mon, Aug 31, 2015 at 6:02 PM

Signs prepared for today's protest. - ERIN TAYLOR
  • Erin Taylor
  • Signs prepared for today's protest.
UPDATE: Following hours of impassioned debate, the Eureka City Council moved last night to table a controversial ordinance regarding the storage of personal belongings on city property. Public comment on the ordinance lasted for hours, stretching the meeting until 11 p.m. Several dozen people also gathered outside City Hall prior to the meeting to protest the proposed ordinance. 


The Eureka City Council meets today with an ambitious slate of items to discuss — many concerning the ongoing issue of homeless people camped in the city’s greenbelt areas. On the agenda: an ordinance regulating the storage of personal property in public areas, and an open space property management plan. Homeless advocates have already announced their intention to protest outside City Hall in advance of the meeting, saying that plans to remove the estimated 100 people camped in the PalCo Marsh behind the Bayshore Mall are inhumane and persecutory.

“These ordinances are directed at one specific kind of person in our community,” says Erin Taylor, a member of the informal advocacy group Friends of the Marsh. “Being homeless is not a crime, nor should it be.”

Friends of the Marsh say they will hold signs in silent protest at 4 p.m. as city councilmembers enter the hall, and that they are being joined by other local social justice groups such as Food Not Bombs and True North.

The Open Space Property Management Plan cites the need for the “protection of public resources on city owned property along the waterfront.” It establishes a management plan to be implemented as policy on the “management of open space, trails and right of way areas” and describes the planning challenges to the development of the Eureka Waterfront Trail, intended to extend 6.3 miles along the bay. Those challenges are exclusively related to homeless encampments, and include sanitation issues, stolen shopping carts and loose dogs. Many of these issues are already covered by existing rules and regulations, but the city is proposing additional policies intended to “manage some of the problems associated with camping.”

The list of policies includes a storage of personal property ordinance which states, in essence, that most types of personal property left in public areas can be removed, often without prior notice. Some items will be catalogued and stored by the Eureka Police Department in 60 gallon tubs. The ordinance includes a subsection which bans the erection of tents in public areas from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

“I feel like it’s come to that point where we need to have this conversation,” says Councilmember Kim Bergel, who has been active in the past in talking with marsh campers and trying to connect them with services. “It’s not going to be comfortable and it’s not going to be fun, but the conversation has to begin.”

“There’s a whole community that doesn’t feel safe using that area,” she adds. “We’ve been working with them for a while, trying to figure out exit plans, trying to provide services. I hate to say it but I feel like the city has been really good, really lenient. We knew it was going to ramp up, and now’s the time.”

But how the ordinances – existing and proposed – will be enforced is unclear. Eureka Police Chief Andy Mills has been adamant in the past that homelessness is “not a police problem.” People camping in the marsh area were served an “eviction notice” of sorts on July 15, with information regarding city municipal code 93.02, which prohibits camping in any public or private space, but the wholesale “clean sweep” of campers in the area that some anticipated did not come to pass. Instead the city began actively cleaning the area once a week, forcing campers to put away their belongings, social service organizations began stepping up their efforts to connect people with housing, and the Eureka Police Department redoubled itsefforts to contact what Mills called the “troublemakers” in the Marsh area: thieves and those prone to violence. It appears that this will be the tone of future law enforcement as well.

“It allows us to have more tools to use to deal with some of the more recalcitrant people who are refusing to help ourselves,” says Mills of the personal property ordinance. Additional rules that would fall upon his staff to enforce include bicycles not being allowed off trail and dogs not allowed off-leash (or off the trail further than 10 feet).

Mills echoed Bergel in saying that the city had been “very patient,” but reiterated that homelessness is not a problem that can be arrested away.

“The role of law enforcement is to continue to try to encourage them to help themselves,” says Mills, adding that his officers will use their discretion when deciding whether or not to contact people under 93.02. “When people aren’t willing to move, we’ll cite them, or take them into physical custody. I want to be careful not to create a false expectation that if we arrest things will change overnight.”

Friends of the Marsh and other advocacy organizations maintain that it is unjust to remove people for camping when there are insufficient amounts of emergency shelter space and low-income housing in the area. The Humboldt County Human Rights Commission has repeatedly petitioned the Board of Supervisors to declare a shelter emergency, with no official response. The city council agenda also includes a plan to raze and rebuild an existing low income housing structure, a total of 106 units. Bergel emphasized that residents currently in the structure will be rehoused and that the renovated structure will be safer and potentially contain more units. A recent report by the Humboldt County Grand Jury stated that there was a lack of affordable housing in Humboldt County and recommended a trust fund be established to create more such housing. In its draft response, due for approval at this city council meeting, the city states that it does not have sufficient money at this time to establish said fund.

Representatives from Affordable Homeless Housing Alternatives also plan to attend and protest, saying the city’s “proposal of evictions and barring people without houses from public and private land is likely a violation of civil and human rights.”

Taylor says Friends of the Marsh has received a vigorous response from other advocacy groups and have achieved a lot of progress just from talking with marsh residents. She says her group understands that the situation as is is untenable and detrimental to the environment (Bergel and others have expressed fears about water quality if rains cause fecal matter to be washed into the bay.) but says the devolution of the conversation into “us and them” is counterproductive.

“Both sides have fear of each other,” she said. “It’s causing people to be dehumanized.”
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Hoopa Man Dies After Weekend Crash

Posted By on Mon, Aug 31, 2015 at 12:32 PM

An 82-year-old Hoopa man injured in a Sunday car crash has died, the California Highway Patrol announced today.

Christopher F. Colgrove reportedly drove his Lexus sedan head-on into an oncoming pickup truck on State Route 299, east of East Fork Bridge, shortly before noon Sunday. No update was provided as to the condition of the other driver, who was also injured, according to CHP.

Colgrove’s death marks the 22nd this year stemming from car accidents in Humboldt County, which puts us on pace for our highest accident fatality total in more than a decade. For more on Humboldt County’s grisly vehicle fatality rates — some of the highest in the nation — pick up this week’s Journal, which hits newsstands Wednesday.

For more on this weekend’s accident, see the full CHP press release below:

UPDATE: Driver, Christopher F. Colgrove was flown to Mercy Redding where he passed away as a result of this traffic collision.


Willow Creek, Calif. – On the morning of Sunday, August 30, a Lexus sedan was traveling eastbound on State Route 299, east of East Fork Bridge, drove head-on into a Toyota Tacoma pickup traveling westbound.

At approximately 11:25 a.m., 82 year old male, Christopher F Colgrove of Hoopa was driving a 2004 Lexus IS300 eastbound on State Route 299, east of East Fork Bridge. Colgrove attempted to negotiate a left curve in the roadway at an unsafe speed for the curve and wet roadway conditions. This caused him to lose control of the Lexus. The Lexus went into the opposing lane which was occupied by a 2000 Toyota Tacoma being driven by 40 year old female, Cinnamon Tiffany VanHorn of McKinleyville. VanHorn took evasive action and turned the Tacoma to the left in an attempt to avoid a collision but the vehicle collided head-on. Both vehicles came to rest upright on all four wheels, partially on the north shoulder and partially in the westbound traffic lane. Both involved drivers were transported to Mad River Community Hospital by Hoopa Ambulance. Colgrove sustained major injuries to his head, neck and spine. VanHorn sustained complaint of pain to her chest and abdomen. One-way controlled traffic was maintained with the assistance of Willow Creek Volunteer Fire Department. All occupants were restrained and DUI is not a factor in this collision.

The California Highway Patrol Humboldt Area is investigating this traffic collision.

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Sunday, August 30, 2015

HumBug: Yellowjackets

Posted By on Sun, Aug 30, 2015 at 3:00 PM

The can't-miss-it markings of a yellow jacket. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • The can't-miss-it markings of a yellow jacket.
Once, while recovering from shoulder surgery, I heard my wife scream from the backyard. Arm immobilized with a brace, I stumbled outside. She was under attack from dozens of yellowjackets. Before I could get her away from them she had accumulated nine stings. The scars she got from accidentally disturbing a nest in the ground lasted the rest of her life. So, yellowjackets became personal.

The author's stinging body count. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • The author's stinging body count.
A year later, I discovered a new nest in our patch of rosemary. Not wanting to use chemicals in the herb bed, I made a trap from a two-liter soda bottle. Every evening after they were quiescent I'd replace the trap, then add a bit of fingernail-polish-remover (ethyl acetate) to kill them. Then I'd remove the inverted top, dump them out and count. My daily depredations took about two weeks to exhaust the supply of workers. On my peak day I got 407. All told I trapped over 3,500 before the social structure of the hive collapsed and they were gone for good.

Know your enemy: the bald faced hornet is a nasty one. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • Know your enemy: the bald faced hornet is a nasty one.
The bright black on yellow markings common to the families Vespula and Dolichovespula are imitated by many other insects. Less offensive wasps, flies and even some moths derive a measure of protection from their resemblance. So common is this mimicry it indicates to me how pervasive the fear of yellowjackets must be throughout the animal world. It wouldn't persist if it didn't work. One notable species is the Bald Faced Hornet (though not technically a hornet). Although it is mainly blue-black with white markings Dolichovespula maculata is the largest “yellowjacket” and has a reputation of being a particularly nasty brute.

A nest of yellow jackets — steer clear. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • A nest of yellow jackets — steer clear.
Quick life history: Spring, mated queen wakes up starts a small nest from chewed wood fibers, lays 50 or so eggs. Different species make them in different settings. When the eggs hatch she feeds them and they grow into smaller adult sterile female workers who continue to build the nest. The queen lays more eggs and workers gather food etc. to feed them. The larvae in the nest produce a sweet substance to feed the workers who in turn supply them with high protein foods like meat and other insects chewed into a pulp. Nest grows, population increases. Males and fertile females are raised eventually leaving nest, mating. Males die quickly, fertilized females hunt for someplace secluded (like my wood pile) to overwinter. Meanwhile the founding queen dies, which stops the production of larvae, which in turn stops the supply of sweet food for the workers who now go out in search of anything they can find, decaying fruit, meat, garbage with some nutrients in it. Late in fall they seem more aggressive as their hive is facing collapse and the demise of everyone except the now absent new queens.

Although nobody seems to have much love for them, they are excellent killers of many pest species of insects, good pollinators and the very model of team players.

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Friday, August 28, 2015

Medical Pot Bills Near Legislator Vote

Posted By on Fri, Aug 28, 2015 at 5:28 PM

Medical marijuana concentrates at the 2014 Emerald Cup. - GRANT SCOTT-GOFORTH
  • Grant Scott-Goforth
  • Medical marijuana concentrates at the 2014 Emerald Cup.
The first substantial regulation in 20 years of medical marijuana in California is headed to a vote in the next couple weeks.

As reported in the Week in Weed, staff members for state Sen. Mike McGuire and assemblymen Jim Wood and Rob Bonta were scrambling early this week to get final amendments into their legislation so they could be reviewed in time for the voting deadline.

All three bills came out of committees with approval, and with “intent language,” meaning they still have time to refine some specifics in the bill. Wood’s spokesman Paul Ramey said he expects the bill to go the Assembly floor for a vote in the next week or two. The three bills have been tied together, which means all of them must pass in order for any of them to pass.

“We’re feeling optimistic,” Ramey said.

If the bills pass, they will go to Gov. Jerry Brown for approval. Ramey said the governor’s office is working with Wood to help ensure that the final language of the bill is to the governor’s liking.

McGuire is optimistic as well, saying senate and assembly staff have put in thousands of hours on the bills over the last several months. "We’ve been working hard to make sure that there's going to be a comprehensive statewide program for medical cannabis that recognizes the unique role the North Coast plays in the industry."

McGuire said he expects his bill and Bonta's assembly bill will end up merged, with Wood's assembly bill, which focuses more specifically on regulating cannabis cultivation, going forward on a "parallel track."

He said there are more similarities than differences between his and Bonta's bills. "I’m optimistic that after nearly two decades, legislation will finally be advanced in 2015. We’re making up for 20 years of inaction and it takes a lot of work on all sides to be able to draw consensus."

In an emailed statement, Wood said “Almost 20 years since the passage of Proposition 215 the Legislature and the governor are very close to consensus on regulating medical marijuana. There are still a lot of moving parts. As we move into the final days of the legislative session, I am working closely with the administration to finalize the components of AB 243 so we can ensure this important legislation will be enacted. AB 243 provides a critical component in the overall regulation of the cannabis industry by creating a funding source to address the environmental devastation that is occurring in our forests and watersheds.”

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Supreme Court Denies School Contract Case

Posted By on Thu, Aug 27, 2015 at 2:59 PM

The California Supreme Court has denied a Fresno school district’s request to review an appellate court ruling that was strongly critical of its use of no-bid contracts — a ruling that school contractors across the state fear may set a legal precedent that leaves them on the hook to repay millions of dollars in past contracts.

The ruling addressed the topic of newly popular lease-leaseback school construction contracts, which skirt the competitive public bidding process and allow districts to hand-pick the contractors they want to work with. The case and lease-leasebacks — particularly how they both relate to Eureka City Schools’ recent $50 million bond — are detailed in this week’s cover story, which can be found here.

Here’s a quick primer on lease-leasebacks from the story:

Outlined in the state education code, the lease-leaseback arrangement allows a district to lease its property to a contractor for a nominal fee — usually $1 a year. The contractor then finances and builds whatever project the district desires — say a new school — which it then leases back to the district for a monthly fee that covers both the financing and the construction. This allows districts to spread the costs of new building or renovation over decades and, once the final bill is paid off and the term of the lease is up, the property ownership reverts back to the district. But in creating this new funding avenue, the Legislature realized subjecting it to the competitive bidding process could become a nightmare for districts, leaving them to consider too many variables for a low-bid-take-all process to account for. So the Legislature made lease-leaseback construction arrangements exempt from competitive bidding requirements.

Recently, however, districts throughout the state have been using the arrangements specifically to skirt competitive bidding by essentially disguising construction processes that have no contractor-financing element to them as lease-leasebacks. In these cases, the district leases the property to the contractor, who builds out the project, and the district pays off the construction as it’s done using bond revenue. When building is complete, the property reverts back to the districts. But the appellate court said this violates the spirit of the law.

The immediate impact of the ruling is simply that it sends the case — in which a Fresno tax payer challenged Fresno Unified School District’s awarding of a $37 million contract to build a new middle school Harris Construction — back to the superior court that had dismissed it. But the ramifications of the ruling is that there is now case law in California stating two things: that a district’s awarding a contract to a company that previously consulted on the project represents a conflict of interest (akin to a fox guarding the henhouse, according to the plaintiff’s attorney in the case) and that, to be valid, lease-leaseback arrangements need to include both genuine contractor-financing and lease components.

On its face, this interpretation would render scores of contracts throughout the state illegal. Because state law stipulates that a contractor who performed work for a district under an illegal contract can be forced to repay the money gained from said contract, the ruling has caused a sizable stir in education and construction circles, with a host of contractor lobbying firms unsuccessfully launching an 11th hour push to have the Legislature amend state law to retroactively make these contracts legal.

San Diego attorney Kevin Carlin, who represented the plaintiff in the Fresno case, described the situation as follows: “Now that the contractors have been caught with their hand in our schools’ cookie jar, they are asking Sacramento legislators via last-minute gut and amend language that is retroactive to let them keep all the cookies they have taken from our schools under their illegal contracts.”

Carlin hailed the failed lobbying effort and the Supreme Court’s decision as wins for schools, students and taxpayers. Meanwhile, Fresno Unified officials told the Fresno Bee the court’s decision was “unexpected” and that they were huddling with their lawyers to figure out how to proceed. (The Bee story also includes the tidbit that both the FBI and the Fresno County District Attorney's Office have launched investigations into Fresno Unified's handling of the contract.)

In asking the Supreme Court to review the case, Fresno Unified also asked the court to de-publish the appellate court's ruling to prevent it from setting a precedent. That request was also denied.

What this means for Eureka is unclear. District officials have maintained that they crafted their lease-leasebacks — one with Dinsmore Construction for work on the Lincoln campus and another yet-to-be finalized one with DCI Builders for work on Alice Birney — with the Fresno ruling in mind. Carlin, however, reviewed the Dinsmore Construction agreement and said he believes it clearly violates the law.

Read more about the situation in the aforementioned cover story, which also details how Eureka’s school bond campaign is believed to have been the most expensive in county history, raising $68,000. The story also explains that, of the money raised, $67,950 came from 12 businesses, seven of which are currently under contract — or have agreed in principal — with the district to perform Measure-S funded work. Three more have been pre-qualified by the district for future bond work. (See the graphic below for more details.)

Journal attempts to reach Gregg Gardiner, who chaired the Citizens in Support of Eureka City Schools campaign, to ask about exactly how the campaign secured these donations have been unsuccessful. But, we’ll update this post if he gets back to us.


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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Let it Flow: Judge Denies Bid to Halt Water Release

Posted By on Wed, Aug 26, 2015 at 4:23 PM

A steelhead infected with Ich during the 2002 Klamath fish kill. - COURTESY OF MICHAEL BELCHIK
  • Courtesy of Michael Belchik
  • A steelhead infected with Ich during the 2002 Klamath fish kill.
North Coast Congressman Jared Huffman released a statement decrying the "preposterous" and repeated attempts of Southern California water districts to prevent water releases into the Trinity River.  He also had some choice words for the "drumbeats of distortions from the districts' PR machine." See the full press release and statement below.

The Yurok Tribe announced this afternoon that a federal judge has denied a water district's motion to stop the release of water into the Trinity River aimed at improving water conditions that scientists believe could cause a catastrophic fish kill. The release of additional flows from Lewiston Dam into the Trinity River, which feeds the Klamath, is expected to continue into late September.

For more information on Klamath conditions, see our recent story here and check out the full press release from the Yurok tribe below:

Yurok Tribe Applauds Denial of Motion for TRO
Temporary Restraining Order would have stopped flows needed to prevent another catastrophic fish kill

A few minutes ago, Judge O’Neill of the United States District Court for Eastern California in Fresno denied Westlands and San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Districts’ motion to immediately halt flows from the Trinity River necessary to avoid a catastrophic fish kill in the lower Klamath River. The Court determined that any potential harm to the irrigators from an uncertain loss of added water supply was outweighed by the potentially catastrophic damage to salmon in the absence of supplemental water.

“This is a great victory for the Klamath River and its salmon,” said Chairman Thomas P. O’Rourke. “We are gratified that the judge saw through their desperate efforts to disparage the needs of the fish and to discredit our science. We’d also like to thank Congressman Huffman, as well as Humboldt County and our co-management partners for their support on this important issue.”

The Klamath River was the site of a catastrophic fish kill in 2002 that claimed between 33,000 and 78,000 Chinook salmon, including hundreds of threatened coho salmon. In subsequent years, adequate river flows have prevented a repeat of this catastrophe. The Yurok Tribe and its fisheries co-managers including other tribal, federal and state agencies, have worked hard to develop the science that guides these difficult decisions. The Yurok Tribe maintains senior water rights sufficient to maintain its fishery in the lower Klamath River. 

From Huffman's office:
 Huffman opposes latest Westlands lawsuit over Trinity/Klamath River protections

Lawsuit seeks to prevent the release of water intended to help Klamath River salmon survive the drought

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) today released the following statement responding to Westlands Water District’s lawsuit challenging the release of water intended to help Klamath River salmon survive the drought:

“Here we go again. As preposterous as it is for San Joaquin Valley irrigation districts to attempt to lay claim to Humboldt County’s desperately needed Trinity River water, it’s no surprise. The Westlands Water District and their allies have been relentless in pursuing an agenda of stealing water from other regions and gutting vital protections for California’s economically and culturally vital salmon populations. When courts or state and federal agencies uphold the laws that protect North Coast fisheries and the many people and jobs that depend on them, you can always expect a Westlands lawsuit — in addition to their never-ending lobbying in Washington and Sacramento and the constant drumbeat of distortions from their PR machine.

“The Department of the Interior’s decision to make emergency releases of cold water from Trinity Lake to avoid an economically and environmentally devastating fish kill in the Trinity and lower Klamath Rivers is the right thing to do, and it will be upheld in court just as it was last year and the year before that.

“This water does not belong to Westlands or the CVP. As the Interior Department’s Solicitor acknowledged in a legal opinion last year, a 1955 Act of Congress and subsequent federal water contract guarantee Humboldt County and downstream water users the benefit of this water.

“Our salmon fisheries are vital to the economy of the North Coast of California and to the traditions and subsistence needs of our Native American tribes. Releasing these cold water flows into the Trinity and lower Klamath Rivers will help prevent a potential disaster in the coming days. The massive fish kill of 2002 should be a constant reminder of what happens when science, environmental laws, and critical fishery requirements are ignored to placate powerful irrigation interests. I commend the Interior Department for doing the right thing, following the law, and taking action to prevent a repeat of 2002.”

Huffman was joined in denouncing the lawsuit by leaders from the salmon fishing community:

"Let’s be clear that both my replacement Tim Sloane and I are outraged by yet another water grab by Westlands," said Zeke Grader, Executive Director Emeritus of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations. "Despite what certain presidential candidates may say, this water is desperately needed for California’s environment and its fisheries."

"To think that industrial irrigators 400 miles away have a stronger claim to that water than salmon, and the fishermen and women who depend on them, is outrageous," said Tim Sloane, Executive Director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations. 

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The Mystery of the Modest Endorsement

Posted By on Wed, Aug 26, 2015 at 1:57 PM

Captain Steve Watson of the EPD recently tweeted a photo of his squad car bearing the sticker. - EUREKA POLICE DEPARTMENT
  • Eureka Police Department
  • Captain Steve Watson of the EPD recently tweeted a photo of his squad car bearing the sticker.

If you like Eureka, but don’t exactly love it, you’re in good company. In 2014 a few hundred stickers bearing the phrase “I Like Eureka” in stark white letters against a black background were mailed to local businesses and public officials. They still broadcast their message everywhere from Old Town coffee shops to the office of Councilmember Natalie Arroyo. The Eureka Police Department also recently began putting them on the backs of its squad cars.

Efforts to determine the origin of the stickers were unsuccessful. We called every print shop in town and turned up no clues. The return address on mailing packages linked back to the much-maligned Downtowner Motel, adding an extra layer of pranksterism. Some were addressed as being from “The Eureka Sanguine Society.” No such society exists in Eureka, but sanguine – meaning optimistic or positive – seems like a good way to characterize the slogan, which is cheerful without being so uncool as to be confident.

Just as our curiosity about that mysterious sticker whisper campaign had begun to fade, the lukewarm endorsement 
Mielke's new button. - JOEL MIELKE
  • Joel Mielke
  • Mielke's new button.
reappeared, this time on a flyer for the upcoming Neighborhood Watch Block Party. The branding nerds among us jumped to attention. What was going on? Had Neighborhood Watch co-opted I Like Eureka, re-packaging it in a peppier font? Or had the original sticker distributors had a change of heart and forsaken their gritty typeface and guerrilla distribution tactics to embrace the Establishment’s earnest vision? An email to the organizers of the block party yielded a clue – the flyers had been designed and the little green button added by local branding guru and Journal contributor Joel Mielke. What if? … we pondered. Mielke, owner of Carson Park Design, certainly had the resources and the chutzpah to send out the stickers.

So we called him. And he disappointed us. Neither he nor the Eureka Police Department (which, if anyone had the resources to track down the sticker trafficker, you’d think it would be them) had any idea where the stickers came from. But Mielke does know where the slogan came from, and it’s been around longer than you think.

Mielke first spotted it around five years ago on the lapel of then Eureka City Councilmember Jeff Leonard.

“I said, ‘That’s a bitchin’ button,’” says Mielke. “The cautious syntax struck me as very droll. I asked him where he got it, and he said that Patrick Rutherford had given it to him.”

So Mielke turned to Rutherford, a local insurance agent. Rutherford said he had purchased it at an antiques show in Fortuna several years prior.

“He had no idea how old these buttons were, nor what had inspired them,” says Mielke. “He says that they are metal with a plastic coating, which probably puts them anywhere from the early '70s on.”

The original button, found at a Fortuna antiques show. - JOEL MIELKE
  • Joel Mielke
  • The original button, found at a Fortuna antiques show.
And there the trail ended. We called Ben Brown over at the Clarke Museum, to see if they had anything in their database that would link the button to Eureka-boosterism from years past. The Clarke Museum did have one in their collection, donated in 2006, but no information about its context. Mielke says that, from a branding perspective, he likes the “innocence” of the slogan, the modesty of not being able to come right out and say you “love” a place. What was probably originally a square expression of civic pride has obtained a level of irony due to the commercial deluge of “I ♥ [insert city]” merchandise.

“Not that nobody understood irony back in the 1960s, but that wasn’t it,” says Mielke. “It looks like somebody came up with this do-gooder campaign, decided to boost the spirits of everybody in Eureka. It’s kind of innocent and ironic and straightforward and I kind of like the candor of it.”

The sticker version, featuring a distressed font Mielke has identified as a free download called “Blackbeard,” capitalizes on the irony of the modest, keen slogan by making it look like something a grunge band bassist would stick on his amp. Mielke, for his part, says he doesn’t really like the typeface.

“For me it looks instantly hackneyed,” he said. When he designed the block party flyer he returned to the clean lines of the original button. It remains to be seen whether the brand will be boosted or diluted by its renewed association with “The Man.” One thing’s for sure, however, which is that the public’s affection for the bustling metropolitan heart of the Redwood Coast is unlikely to swell into real passion.

“The ‘I Love’ thing is so pedestrian,” says Mielke. “‘I Like’ is a nod to common sense. Who really does ‘love’ a place? When I originally designed the flyer they asked me if I could put a heart on it. But then it’s not funny.”

“I Like Eureka” buttons will be available at the Neighborhood Watch Block Party, this Saturday.
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Dig Clams, Die Slow

Posted By on Wed, Aug 26, 2015 at 11:35 AM

Don't dig, man. - MARK LARSON
  • Mark Larson
  • Don't dig, man.

The California Department of Public Health is warning not to eat recreationally-harvested clams, mussels or other bivalves in Humboldt and Del Norte counties, saying that high levels of domoic acid have been detected in samples of these species. Consumption can cause illness and death. However, it is still safe to eat commercially harvested shellfish, which are regularly tested before they arrive on your plate. So, for the time being, leave the digging and shucking to the professionals.

From the CDPH:

SACRAMENTO - California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Director and State Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith today advised consumers not to eat recreationally harvested bivalve shellfish (mussels and clams) from Humboldt or Del Norte counties. Only the white meat (adductor muscle) of scallops should be consumed and the viscera (internal organs) should be discarded.

Dangerous levels of domoic acid have been detected in mussel and razor clam samples and may be present in the other species that have not yet been tested. This toxin, also known as Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning (ASP), can cause illness or death in humans. No cases of human poisoning from domoic acid are known to have occurred in California.

This health advisory is in addition to the annual mussel quarantine issued May 1. The annual quarantine applies to all species of mussels harvested along the California coast, as well as all bays and estuaries, and will continue through at least October 31. The July 3, 2015 warning about certain seafood caught in Monterey, Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara counties remains in effect.

These warnings do not apply to commercially sold clams, mussels, scallops or oysters from approved sources. State law permits only state-certified commercial shellfish harvesters or dealers to sell these products. Shellfish sold by certified harvesters and dealers are subject to frequent mandatory testing to monitor for toxins.

Symptoms of domoic acid poisoning can occur within 30 minutes to 24 hours after eating toxic seafood. In mild cases, symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headache and dizziness. These symptoms disappear within several days. In severe cases, the victim may experience trouble breathing, confusion, disorientation, cardiovascular instability, seizures, excessive bronchial secretions, permanent loss of short term memory, coma or death.

For the most current information about shellfish poisoning and health advisories, call CDPH’s toll-free “Shellfish Information Line” at (800) 553-4133. For additional information visit CDPH’s Natural Marine Toxins: PSP and Domoic Acid Web page.

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St. Joseph Nurses Allege Understaffing, Departure from Values

Posted By on Wed, Aug 26, 2015 at 10:59 AM

Union members stand in front of St. Joseph. - LINDA STANSBERRY
  • Linda Stansberry
  • Union members stand in front of St. Joseph.
Representatives from the local chapter of the California Nurses Association and National Nurses United convened in front of St. Joseph Hospital last week to discuss concerns over the health system’s proposed merger with Providence Health & Services, as well as what they call a “shift in values” from its founding principles. The union rolled out a slick public relations campaign, wearing matching red scrubs and handing out red folders containing a summary of its report on the hospital, titled “Falling from Grace.”

The report, which is available online at the National Nurses United Website, breaks down a series of complaints, places where the nurses say the health system has strayed from its mission. St. Joseph Health System, which is comprised of a network of hospitals, was established in 1920 by Catholic nuns. Union members allege that the system today is more concerned with profit than patient care, and that it has been exploiting its not-for-profit status to avoid paying taxes on money shunted into hedge funds and offshore accounts in the Cayman Islands. Representatives from St. Joseph Hospital responded to some of the concerns in an emailed statement from President David O'Brien saying that, despite dramatic shifts in the world of healthcare delivery, its commitment to patients and employees has not wavered. The hospital has also been waging a public relations campaign of its own for several months following allegations from the National Union of Healthcare Workers that they pay “poverty wages” to caregivers and housekeepers, running ads that emphasize its “commitment to care."

Among allegations from the nurses is a lack of adequate supplies. The report says nurses in the emergency department at St. Joseph have occasionally delayed giving patients antibiotics and other I.V. drips because of a consistent undersupply of Alaris pumps, which regulate the rate of medication from the I.V. Other supplies such as some formulas and I.V. tubing are also in short supply, according to James Ladika, a registered nurse who joined his fellow union members on Thursday.

“If the right person asks, then they’ll find the money,” he said, adding that the concerns of nurses on the floor often went unmet. Ladika and others said that they do not have enough specialized equipment to do their jobs, and are often called on to share some equipment, such as a bladder scanner, with other departments. A patient who needs a vital test might have to wait until a piece of equipment can come from all the way across the hospital.

The nurses also say that they are critically understaffed, and that patients often sit unseen in the waiting room because there aren’t enough people to attend to them.

“It doesn’t make you feel good,” says Susan Johnson, an RN who has been with the hospital for 30 years. “This isn’t why we went into the profession.”

Both Johnson and Ladika expressed concern over the conditions in which they work, saying they are continually filing “Assignment Against Objection” forms when they start a shift. The forms are meant to document that workers feel an assignment is unsafe for patients or staff.

“Nurses are often pressed to work under difficult circumstances,” says Ladika. One of his colleagues said they often make grim jokes in the breakroom about who has held his or her pee the longest, and that several nurses have collapsed on the job due to dehydration, stress, and urinary tract infections.

“We’re continually training new people, but they don’t stay very long,” says Tiffany Green, a clinical coordinator in pediatrics. “I can work six to seven days in a row, and some nights I’m the only person on shift. There are so many children who are flown out of the area. It’s hard on them, and hard on the parents.”

Karen Gladding, another RN, echoed Green’s concerns about training.

“New hires are supposed to get six weeks, they’re lucky to get two to three weeks,” she said, adding that she was “nervous about the level of care” patients were getting.

The union alleges that the lack of proper training circles back to the hospital being miserly with its salaries, unwilling to double up on staff during the training period.

The union also says that the St. Joseph Health as an institution ranks far below its competitors in charitable giving, a departure from its founding values. In its response, the hospital said that the association "has significantly understated our charity care and community benefit.”

Dr. David O’Brien, President of St. Joseph Health, said the hospital’s contribution to the community is significant.

“We contribute 10 percent of our net income each year to programs that support the poor and vulnerable in our Humboldt community. That money goes to a broad range of services and initiatives ranging from charity care, food insecurity grants, community resource centers and care for the homeless.”

Whether charity care qualifies as the type of charitable giving outlined in the Catholic foundation’s tenets may be a matter of semantics. Every hospital provides a certain amount of unpaid care to indigent patients.

The union workers have requested a number of changes, including reversal of cuts to employee disability benefits and retirement security and an investment of excess revenue into patient care rather than executive salaries.

Lesley Ester, a union member and registered nurse, says that her colleagues would like to see more transparency about how the hospital’s money is being spent, and to better understand why it is understaffed.

“My most pressing concern is that this is the hospital that my children, my grandchild and my friends go to for medical help and I desperately want us to have the best possible care. And that, quite frankly, is not what is happening at this time,” says Ester. “The nurses and ancillary staff take pride in the work we do - we just need to be staffed appropriately.”

A full copy of the union’s report can be found here

Statement from St. Joseph Hospital, Eureka on CNA Report:

Aug. 20, 2015, Eureka, CA — St. Joseph Hospital, Eureka issued the following statement regarding a report from the California Nurses Association.

The following is a statement from Dr. David O’Brien, President of St. Joseph Health, Humboldt County:

“St. Joseph Health began in Humboldt County more than 100 years ago with a commitment to serve the needs of our community. While it’s true that healthcare is changing dramatically, our commitment to our community and our employees absolutely has not changed. We deeply value the work our nurses and our entire staff do every day to care for our community. But we are saddened by the report issued by the California Nurses Association and do not agree with the union’s opinions or assertions.

“Especially disappointing is that the CNA has significantly understated our charity care and community benefit, and misrepresented our stellar record of patient safety and care. At a time when hospitals are getting paid less to do more, St. Joseph Eureka actually spends tens of millions of dollars on charity care and community benefit each year, and we contribute 10 percent of our net income each year programs that support the poor and vulnerable in our Humboldt Community. That money goes to a broad range of services and initiatives ranging from charity care, food insecurity grants, community resource centers and care for the homeless. We always strive to meet all state and local mandated requirements for nurse-to-patient ratios, and we’re immensely proud of our record of patient safety.”

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Uri Driscoll Announces a bid for the 3rd

Posted By on Tue, Aug 25, 2015 at 6:28 PM

Uri Driscoll. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • Uri Driscoll.
A second rider has emerged in the race for Mark Lovelace's 3rd District supervisor seat, which he will vacate at the end of 2016. 

Uri Driscoll, a horseman, farrier and longtime Journal letter writer, announced via press release this afternoon that he will challenge Harbor Commissioner Mike Wilson, who announced his candidacy for the seat a couple weeks ago.

In the release, Driscoll describes himself as a "tireless advocate for sustainable trail systems" and the environment — though his efforts have not been without controversy. His trail advocacy has irked cyclists, and his extended war on the war on non-native European beach grass in native dunes has led to discord with enviro types like Friends of the Dunes, of which Wilson is president.

Driscoll supported Lovelace opponent Karen Brooks in her unsuccessful 2012 bit to unseat the incumbent.

From Driscoll:

Longtime Arcata businessman and environmental advocate Uri Driscoll announced today his candidacy for Humboldt County third district supervisor. Driscoll has lived in Humboldt County for 33 of his 55 years where he lives with his wife, dogs, horses and assortment of other critters. He has operated his professional farrier business for 26 years. During that time he has had the privilege of getting to know a wide variety of people and understand perspectives on everything from lack of public process to improving our schools and public safety.

“It is clear that the public’s interest is not only in grandiose schemes but in the day to day smaller things that make our lives fulfilling and rewarding,” Driscoll said.
Driscoll has been one of the tireless advocates for sustainable trail systems through his work with various horsemen’s associations and his daily use of community trails. Concerted efforts by Driscoll and others have made sure that coastal plant eradication projects take into account the unintended and detrimental effects to coastal wetlands, valuable wildlife habitats and the increased exposure to risks associated with expected sea level rise.

As third district supervisor he plans to bring together ideas and concerns from the diverse voices of the district and county.

“We have the opportunity to be innovative in our approach to enhancing the many aspects of Humboldt County life we hold dear,” Driscoll said. “That approach will require being inclusive and open to fresh, creative ideas while honoring our history and those who have worked so hard before us.”

As a life-long Democrat, Driscoll understands that sound, sensible solutions are found by including a wide spectrum of ideas from community members as well as soliciting broad minded experts.

“Our challenges include protecting our infrastructure, homes and agriculture lands from expected sea level rise, reigning in the rampant destruction from marijuana grows and providing support and encouragement for the development of sustainable, living-wage jobs,” Driscoll said.

Driscoll strongly feels the need to engage resourcefulness and teamwork to create a better community and that the county’s challenges will take out-of-the-box thinking and commitment that he enjoys bringing to the table.

“My role as third district supervisor will be to work effectively with the people of the third district, county staff and fellow supervisors to include a wide variety of perspectives to develop responsible and affordable solutions to make this place we call home even better,” Driscoll said.

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