Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Yurok Tribe no Longer Supports Klamath River Agreement

Posted By on Wed, Sep 16, 2015 at 11:19 AM

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NOTE: This post was updated with comment from Huffman.

The Yurok Tribe has announced it will withdraw its support of the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement, the massive, multi-agency restoration plan originally signed in 2010 that’s sat untouched by Congress for the last five years.

The Karuk Tribe and Oregon Klamath Tribes will also withdraw at the end of the year if Congress doesn’t act, according to a Times-Standard report. The Yurok Tribe is citing a provision in the agreement that it says allows the tribe to withdraw its support.


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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

UPDATED: Hoopa Officer-Involved Shooting; Eureka Homicide

Posted By on Tue, Sep 15, 2015 at 10:06 AM

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2nd UPDATE: The Humboldt County Sheriff's Office has identified the officer who fatally shot a 47-year-old suspect near Weitchpec on Sept. 4 as Sgt. Seth Ruiz.

Ruiz remains on paid administrative leave from the Hoopa tribal police department, pending the outcome of a multi-agency investigation. See the full press release from the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office, which is leading the investigation, below.

1st UPDATE: The Humboldt County Sheriff's Office has identified the man killed in an officer-involved shooting Friday night as 47-year-old Richard Keith Kelley. See the full press release from the sheriff's office below.



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Monday, September 14, 2015

Ex-Rio Dell Cop Pleads Guilty in Domestic Violence Case

Posted By on Mon, Sep 14, 2015 at 5:20 PM

Kevin Harralson
  • Kevin Harralson
Former Rio Dell Police officer Kevin Harralson entered into a plea deal with prosecutors today that will see him placed on three year's probation and mandated to a 52-week domestic violence counseling program after pleading guilty to a single count of false imprisonment.

The deal also stipulates that Harralson will not appeal his termination from the Rio Dell Police Department or seek employment as a cop in any other jurisdiction for the duration of his probation.


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Sunday, September 13, 2015

HumBug: Neglected Damsels

Posted By and on Sun, Sep 13, 2015 at 3:18 PM

A damsel in no distress: the American ruby spot female. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • A damsel in no distress: the American ruby spot female.
Whenever I give a talk on dragonflies, I point out that there are two subgroups to the order Odonata. The dragonflies (anisoptera, which means “same wing”) and the damselfiles (zygoptera meaning “different wing”), which I am told refers to the sizes and shapes of the front and hind wings. I guess because they're bigger and often showier the dragons get all the press, but their little cousins have their own graceful charm.
The dragons are larger and more robust. They always hold their wings out flat, never folding them over their backs. The damsels' abdomens are about as thick as a pencil lead, and with one exception, fold their wings over their backs when at rest. Like the dragons they spend their larval stages hunting small critters in the water, emerging as nymphs to shed their last molt, spread their wings and become areal hunters.

The open wing posture of a black spreadwing. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • The open wing posture of a black spreadwing.
For a long time I thought they were comparatively poor fliers until watching half a dozen male American rubyspots vying for position in a roosting spot. Half an hour spent futilely trying to capture their beauty and grace with a camera convinced me otherwise. They were way too quick and maneuverable. I have often been surprised when I upload images to my computer and examine the photos that one of the little damsels is daintily munching on some unfortunate insect. The evidence of their continued survival since the Carboniferous era speaks that they are effective predators. Whatever they've been doing for the last 300 million or so years seems to work.

The pretty-boy American rubystpot male with his distinctive wings back. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • The pretty-boy American rubystpot male with his distinctive wings back.
In one presentation in a local grammar school, I pointed out that, much like birds, the males were the pretty ones among the Odinates while the females were usually more drab. I could see a couple of the young ladies were crestfallen by that, so I asked why they thought that might be. There were few attempts. When I answered that the females were more important and needed the added protection of camouflage, they beamed!

A striking bluet damselfly. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • A striking bluet damselfly.

That exception: The damselfly family of Lestidae are known as “spreadwings” and often land with their wings outstretched. Even so, once you see the difference there is really no mistaking a dragon for a damsel.
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Right-to-die Law Goes to Gov. Brown

Posted By on Sun, Sep 13, 2015 at 2:07 PM

Jerry Brown - STATE OF CALIFORNIA
  • State of California
  • Jerry Brown
The California Senate and Assembly passed legislation this week that will allow terminally ill people to end their own lives with a doctor's assistance, so long as Gov. Jerry Brown signs the bill.

The bill will allow doctors to prescribe life-ending medication to people who've been told they have six months or less to live, providing they are of sound mental capacity to make the request. The Journal featured a story on the effort to enact right-to-die legislation earlier this year. Former North Coast Assemblywoman Patty Berg has long been undertaking an effort to pass the law. 

Experts appear to be stumped as to Brown's position on the law. 

Read the previous Journal story here

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Thursday, September 10, 2015

UPDATE: Medical Marijuana Bills Pass

Posted By on Thu, Sep 10, 2015 at 10:05 PM

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The state Assembly and Senate approved a trio of medical marijuana regulations just before deadline Friday. The bills were the subject of some last minute tweaking, and reports of stubbornness regarding authorship began to leak out of the capitol in the days before consensus was reached (read more about that below).

The bills will go before Gov. Jerry Brown for final approval. He is expected to sign them, as reports have indicated that his office contributed quite a bit of the final language of the bills. The Journal will have more about the details of the new regulations, once this reporter gets a chance to read the bills.

Previously:

State legislators have until midnight tomorrow to vote on landmark medical marijuana legislation after local representatives reached a consensus with the governor's office tonight.

Emails from North Coast Assemblyman Jim Wood and Senator Mike McGuire's offices announced an accord between the bills that will fold the marijuana cultivation regulations from Wood’s Assembly Bill 243 into North Coast Sen. Mike McGuire’s bill. (Read the press release below.)


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Last CAASPP Efforts: How Humboldt Students Scored

Posted By on Thu, Sep 10, 2015 at 10:27 AM

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  • stock image

School just started, but test scores are already out in one area — the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP).The test, which measures students' mathematics and English skills, was only implemented spring of this year. How does Humboldt measure up? Not real well.

Over a quarter of students in third through eighth grades do not meet the state standards for English or math. The mathematics number rises to nearly 46 percent of fifth grade students, and a full half of 11th graders. What does that mean? Well, according to the state's website, it means that half of this year's senior class will have to do a lot of catching up if they want to do well in college. Or, as the state's website puts it, these students have "not met the achievement standard and need substantial improvement to demonstrate the knowledge and skills in mathematics needed for likely success in entry-level, credit-bearing college coursework after high school."

But take heart — Humboldt students were on par with students across the state, meaning that if you're grading on a curve, we're pretty okay. The CAASPP website cautions that, since this is the first year the testing has taken place, it's to be used as more of a "starting point," a baseline for future performance. Lori Breyer, school support and accountability coordinator at the Humboldt County Office of Education, said they expected the results to be "a little bit lower, just because this is a brand new test."

The CAASPP, part of new Common Core requirements, is a successor the previously used Statewide Testing and Reporting (STAR) system. One major difference is technology: The days of #2 pencils and bubbles that have to be filled in just so are past. CAASPP testing for English and mathematics takes place online. (Science is still a paper-based test, but an online version is due in 2017.)

Breyer said the CAASPP is an improvement in some respects from the STAR testing.

"What I heard from kids, including my own daughter, is that they had fun with the test," she said. "It's engaging. It's gone away from the paper bubble to an interactive test. It's requiring some skills on how to use a computer. One of the wonderful results is a better emphasis on technology."

Breyer said that the CAASPP test has not had a stifling influence on educational methods.

"I've worked with a number of districts over the summer, their focus is not on test," she said. "The focus is, what are we doing on a daily and a weekly basis? If we're doing a good job there, we know we'll get a good score." 

To see how your district did, click here.


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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

DA Taps Outside Prosecutor for Warren Double Murder Trial

Posted By on Wed, Sep 9, 2015 at 9:57 AM

Jason Anthony Warren
  • Jason Anthony Warren
The Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office is bringing in a special prosecutor to try the double-murder case of Jason Anthony Warren.

Neither District Attorney Maggie Fleming nor Public Defender Kevin Robinson, one of the attorneys representing Warren, would comment on the move, citing a gag order looming over the case. But Mendocino County District Attorney spokesman Mike Geniella confirmed the move Monday.

“Yes, we have an arrangement with Humboldt County to provide an experienced prosecutor — our most experienced prosecutor — to handle this case,” Geniella said, identifying the prosecutor as Mendocino County Assistant District Attorney Paul Sequeira. who will come to Humboldt with an accomplished resume, though one specked with controversy.

Geniella said discussions about the move have been taking place for the better part of a year, noting that his office has an excellent working relationship with Fleming, who worked alongside Sequeira when both were in the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office.

Sequeira has worked as a prosecutor for more than 30 years, including 27 with Contra Costa, and has tried more than 30 murder cases, according to Geniella.

Because Fleming declined to comment even generally on the move, citing the gag order in the Warren case, it’s unclear why she’s made the decision to bring Sequeira in to handle the case. But on the campaign trail before taking office in January, Fleming spoke openly about what she perceived as a lack of prosecutorial experience in the office. The office also is — and long has been — facing a backlog of time-consuming homicide cases.

Among the highest profile of those, is the three-year-old Warren case, in which he stands accused of torturing and murdering Dorothy Ulrich in her Hoopa home before stealing her car and using it to run down three runners on Old Arcata Road, including Humboldt State University lecturer Suzanne Seemann, who was killed. Warren has pleaded not guilty in the case and faces life in prison if convicted.

Warren’s case has been beset with repeated delays, most recently when the trial was pushed back to Sept. 28 after being reassigned to a new judge. Whether Sequeira’s coming on to prosecute the case will cause additional delay is unclear, but Geniella said Sequeira is familiar with it, noting that, shortly after taking office, Fleming asked him to review it, wanting a fresh, independent take on it.

Sequeira successfully prosecuted a host of high-profile murder cases while in Contra Costa, some of which captured national headlines. Most notably, he won the conviction in 2005 of Jimena Barreto, a nanny who, with three prior DUI convictions on her record, ran over two kids while drunk and high on prescription painkillers, then fled the scene as they lay dying on the sidewalk. In another case that captivated the nation, Sequeira won a second-degree murder conviction in the case of Susan Polk, a woman who fatally stabbed her psychiatrist husband.

“He’s very highly regarded,” said Geniella. “He just has a wide range of experience in murder trials. I can understand why Maggie reached out to him and this office. … He’s very smart, savvy, clear and articulate.”

Geniella also raved about Sequeira’s work in Mendocino, saying he’s done a great job of overseeing operations and helping the office operate more efficiently. While he may be highly regarded, Sequeira’s career has also not been without controversy.

He left the Contra Costa DA’s Office in August of 2011 after being twice punched in the face in a 15 month period. The first came when Sequeira, then the office’s assistant district attorney, was arguing with his lead homicide prosecutor, Harold Jewett, over a letter to the editor Jewett had sent to a local paper criticizing the political climate in the office. (Sequeira and Jewett were supporting different candidates in the upcoming election.) The two were shouting at each other in the office when Jewett punched Sequeira in the eye, doing enough damage to require surgery. Sequeira subsequently sued the county and settled out of court for $50,000.

Then, in August of 2011 just before Sequeira left Contra Costa for Mendocino, there was a bizarre incident with a defense investigator. At the time, the Contra Costa DA’s office was by all accounts bitterly divided over the prosecution of a rape case in which both the accuser and the alleged victim worked in the office. Sequeira was assigned to help investigate the allegations and the defense investigator was waiting outside the office trying to serve him with a subpoena. According to news accounts, Sequeira apparently tried to dodge being served with the subpoena by hiding out in the office. But when he eventually left, the defense investigator, Mark Harrison, was still waiting for him and a confrontation ensued. According to the reports, Sequeira was pointing in Harrison’s face (it’s disputed whether Sequeira’s point actually made contact) when Harrison punched him in the mouth and held him down until police arrived.

Sequeira subsequently told the Press Democrat that he regretted not simply accepting the subpoena, despite Harrison’s “unacceptable and unnecessary belligerence.”

The exact terms of Sequeira’s arrangement with Humboldt County remain unclear as, citing the gag order, Fleming declined to discuss the matter. However, Geniella said Sequeira will technically be on leave from the Mendocino County DA’s office for the duration of the trial.

Hank Seemann, the husband of Suzanne Seemann, one of the victims in the Warren case, said he and other victims in the case got the chance to meet with Sequeira about a month ago and the prosecutor made a good impression. “I think he’s solid,” Hank Seemann said. “He’s been working on his own hours to digest the case and prepare, so I think he’s definitely ready.”

Whether the court will be ready to begin the trial on Sept. 28 remains to be seen. The case was recently reassigned to Judge Timothy Cissna, who’s been out of town and hasn’t formally accepted the assignment, according to Hank Seemann. A pre-trial conference is set for Sept. 16, at which point it should be clear if the trial will proceed as scheduled at the end of the month.
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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Three Harbor District Hopefuls DQed for Lack of Signatures

Posted By on Tue, Sep 8, 2015 at 4:52 PM

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It looks like there won’t be a 1st Division Harbor District race after all.

Last month, we reported that a trio of candidates stepped forward announcing their intent to run for the seat being vacated by Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District Commissioner Aaron Newman. Well, it appears two of them weren’t very serious. The Humboldt County Elections Office confirmed to the Journal this afternoon that would-be candidates James Roberts and Hezekiah Allen failed to gather the requisite 25 valid signatures from registered voters to qualify them for the ballot, leaving Larry Doss to run unopposed. He will now be appointed to the seat.

The Elections Office informs us that would-be 5th District challenger Kyle Visser also failed to submit signatures. But fear not, political junkies hankering for a heated election: That seat will still be contested, with challenger Susan Rotwein taking on incumbent Pat Higgins. The 2nd District seat will likewise be contested, with incumbent Greg Dale pitted against challenger Nick Angeloff.

So those hoping for an election season brimming with bay mudslinging may still get their wish, just not in the fightin' 1st.
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3rd UPDATE: Hit-and-Run Leaves Pedestrian Dead on 101; Road Deaths on Record Pace

Posted By on Tue, Sep 8, 2015 at 12:58 PM

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3rd UPDATE: The California Highway Patrol announced this afternoon that the suspect in a fatal hit-and-run collision that occurred Sept. 1 on U.S. Highway 101 has turned herself in. According to the CHP, 18-year-old Carley Kathryn Palsson surrendered to police Friday night. See the full press release copied below.

2nd UPDATE: The California Highway Patrol has identified the victim in Tuesday's fatal hit-and-run collission as 47-year-old Lawrence Kenneth Bryant, of Fortuna. See the full press release copied below.

UPDATE:
The California Highway Patrol has identified the driver allegedly involved in a fatal hit-and-run accident on U.S. Highway 101 near Fortuna on Tuesday as Carley Kathryn Palsson, 18, who resides in the McKinleyville and Miranda areas.

CHP has a signed arrest warrant for Palsson on charges of vehicular manslaughter and felony hit and run, according to a release, and is asking for the public's help identifying her. See the full press release copied below with an accompanying photo of Palsson.

PREVIOUSLY:
As the Journal went to press last night with a cover story detailing Humboldt County's alarming vehicle fatality rate, a pedestrian was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver along U.S. Highway 101 near Fortuna, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The death is the 23rd on county roads this year, and the eighth involving a pedestrian. 

According to the CHP, a still unidentified person was driving a 2007 Gray Chevrolet Tahoe southbound on U.S. Highway 101, north of the State Route 36 interchange, when for unknown reasons the vehicle drifted onto the west shoulder of the freeway and struck a 47-year-old male pedestrian who was walking southbound. The pedestrian died on scene as the driver fled, heading eastbound on State Route 36. The CHP is asking for the public's help in identifying the driver of the Chevrolet, which witnesses say had a license plate of 5ZND366.

Authorities ask anyone with information about the accident to call CHP at 822-5981 during business hours or 268-2000 after hours.

For more information on the crash, see the press release below. For more on Humboldt's vehicle fatality rates — which are double the national average and nearly triple that of the state — pick up this week's Journal, on newsstands now. Or, if you prefer to digest your news in pixels rather than print, check back here tomorrow for the full story.

The CHP press release:

FATAL TRAFFIC COLLISION ON US-101



CHP requests information regarding the following incident***********



FORTUNA, Calif. – On the evening of Tuesday, September 1st, one pedestrian sustained fatal injuries after a Gray Chevrolet Tahoe traveling southbound on US-101, south of Fortuna, left the roadway.



At approximately 8:10 p.m., an unknown person, was driving a 2007 Gray Chevrolet Tahoe southbound on US-101, north of SR-36. For reasons still under investigation, the driver of the Chevrolet allowed the vehicle to leave the roadway. The Chevrolet traveled onto the west shoulder of southbound US-101 and collided into a male pedestrian who was walking southbound at the time. The Chevrolet continued off the roadway and collided into a fence on the west side of US-101. Witness reports state that the vehicle fled the scene and headed eastbound on SR-36. Witnesses described the vehicle as a Gray 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe with a California license plate of 5ZND366. The pedestrian, a 47 year old male from Fortuna, succumbed to his injuries at the scene of the collision. This collision is still under investigation by the California Highway Patrol. The identity of the male pedestrian is being withheld pending family notifications.



*****Any information leading to the identity of a suspect and/or location of the vehicle should be referred to the Humboldt CHP office at 707-822-5981 during business hours or the Humboldt Communications Center at 707-268-2000 after business hours.
Carley Kathryn Palsson
  • Carley Kathryn Palsson
Updated release from CHP:


The California Highway Patrol (CHP) Humboldt Area has identified the driver of the grey 2007 Chevy Tahoe that was involved in this traffic collision. The suspect is Carley Kathryn Palsson; DOB 10/10/1996. She is approximately 5’ 3”, 120lbs, brown hair and blue eyes. She is known to reside out of the Mckinleyville and Miranda areas. The Humboldt Area CHP holds a signed Arrest Warrant for Palsson on the charges of Vehicular Manslaughter and Felony Hit and Run. If anyone has any information that may lead authorities to the capture of Palsson please call the Humboldt CHP Office at (707)822-5981 during business hours or the Humboldt Communications Center at (707)268-2000 after business hour


From the CHP:
The California Highway Patrol (CHP) Humboldt Area is now able to release the identity of the victim that was involved in this traffic collision. The victim was identified as Lawrence Kenneth Bryant, age 47, from the Fortuna Area. CHP Humboldt Area CHP is still looking for the suspect, Carley Kathryn Palsson. If anyone has any information that may assist authorities with locating Palsson please contact the Humboldt Area CHP Office at (707)822-5981 during business hours or Humboldt Communications Center at (707)268-2000 after business hours.
From CHP:
UPDATE: The suspected driver in this Fatal Traffic Collision is in custody. Carly Kethyrn Palsson turned herself into authorities on the evening of 09/04/2015. Palsson is suspected to be the driver of a 2007 Gray Chevrolet Tahoe which, for reasons still under investigation, she allowed the vehicle to leave the roadway and collide into a pedestrian resulting in fatal injuries. The Humboldt Area CHP wants to thank everyone who is assisting in this investigation. Thank you to all citizens who called authorities with any and all information related to this case.

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