Saturday, April 30, 2016

Garden Tours with Homeland Security

Posted By on Sat, Apr 30, 2016 at 2:20 PM

Janet Napolitano addresses a group in the lobby of the Potawot Health Village. - GRANT SCOTT-GOFORTH
  • Grant Scott-Goforth
  • Janet Napolitano addresses a group in the lobby of the Potawot Health Village.
The head of the University of California, who served for four years as President Obama’s secretary of Homeland Security, spent some time this week exploring Humboldt County.

Her itinerary included visits with the United Indian Health Services, a float to the oyster beds on Humboldt Bay and a tour of Arcata Community Forest.

The visit was the first by an acting UC president, and if you’re wondering why the leader of the University of California system — the closest campus of which is UC Davis — was in Humboldt, you’re forgetting about the UC Cooperative Extension, which coordinates and operates a multitude of agricultural and natural resource programs in Humboldt County with a variety of partners.

Napolitano’s tour began, on a rainy Wednesday morning, at the UIHS Potawot Health Village, a sprawling complex of clinics, gardens and restored land in northern Arcata.

After a short prayer under the bright paintings and high wooden ceilings of the health center’s lobby, Alme Allen, who’s in charge of facilities and traditional land management, led a tour of the center, stopping once to point a Cooper’s hawk that had landed in a wax myrtle in the wellness garden.

Alme Allen talks about a canoe built for the health village. - GRANT SCOTT-GOFORTH
  • Grant Scott-Goforth
  • Alme Allen talks about a canoe built for the health village.
Allen talked about the history of the UIHS, its focus on health care and wellness for the underserved native populations of the North Coast, and the pace at which it's grown, offering services now to 15,000 people in Del Norte and Humboldt counties.

Napolitano seemed suitably impressed, asking questions during each portion of the tour. And she didn’t shy away from the Humboldt County rain, eschewing an offered ride out to the Potawot garden for a walk through the center’s restored riparian area.
A rainy walk through the restored riparian area. - GRANT SCOTT-GOFORTH
  • Grant Scott-Goforth
  • A rainy walk through the restored riparian area.
There, in a cluster of greenhouses, Napolitano heard about the cooperative extension’s partnerships with the UIHS. Those involve programs to both eductate people about nutrition — starting young, in many cases — and provide them with food, plants and skills to grow and cook them.

The garden is an impressive array: bee hives, more than 100 fruit trees, including apples, pears, plums and peaches (garden manager Ed Mata admits Willow Creek has Arcata beat for peach climate, but they get some good ones) as well as pineapple, guava, kiwi, artichokes and a host of vegetables.
The Potawot garden has culinary and medicinal herbs as well as fruit and vegetables. - GRANT SCOTT-GOFORTH
  • Grant Scott-Goforth
  • The Potawot garden has culinary and medicinal herbs as well as fruit and vegetables.
Mata especially likes getting kids turned onto weird veggies — kolrabi and romanesco, for instance — to help them build an appreciation for growing and eating vegetables.

In addition to a farmers’ market and free plant starts for UIHS clients, the garden provides food for ceremonies, funerals and other community events.

It’s all part of various efforts by UIHS and the cooperative extension to decrease high local diabetes rates and bring nourishment to so-called “food deserts” — communities or neighborhoods where access to fresh food is limited or nonexistent. Many local tribal communities are considered food deserts.

Deborah Giraud, who’s worked for the cooperative extension for 32 years, said reaching Native populations with the their programs has always been a priority. The local extension is the only entity in California to qualify for the USDA’s Federally Recognized Tribe Extension Program, Giraud said, which provides grant funding for agricultural programs.
Garden manager Ed Mata, left, talks with Napolitano, right. - GRANT SCOTT-GOFORTH
  • Grant Scott-Goforth
  • Garden manager Ed Mata, left, talks with Napolitano, right.
Mata said he feels like the education aspect is catching on in the communities that use the UIHS garden and other resources. Community Nutrition Manager Jude Marshall said the start giveaways have gotten more popular every year, and more plants in backyards and community gardens means more food security.

Napolitano, who served as the governor of Arizona from 2003 through 2009, asked if this had been a good year for growing. Yes, they assured her — this spring’s combination of sun and rain has been great for the garden.

“It’s a lot different than Arizona,” she said. 
Humboldt County Supervisor Ryan Sundberg gets his picture taken with Napolitano. - GRANT SCOTT-GOFORTH
  • Grant Scott-Goforth
  • Humboldt County Supervisor Ryan Sundberg gets his picture taken with Napolitano.

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A Morning Emergency in the Palco Marsh

Posted By on Sat, Apr 30, 2016 at 8:37 AM

LINDA STANSBERRY
  • Linda Stansberry

It’s quiet. Despite its reputation as a chaotic place, the PalCo Marsh, also known as the Devil’s Playground, often is. A few dogs, tied in front of tents, bark. The motor of a fishing boat on the bay can be heard just out of sight behind the trees. Eureka City Councilmember Kim Bergel walks with a member of the Mobile Intervention and Services Team, going tent to tent to check in and see if people are willing to talk about services. She is wearing a pair of tall rubber boots. It is Friday, the day several service providers set up tents and tables in the north parking lot of the Bayshore Mall. Some people visit the fair, taking advantage of the free food and water and talking to providers. But many others still stay in their camps or leave the area entirely, wary of the increased presence of interlopers. Their time of refuge may be coming to an end. This is the last Friday before the city of Eureka plans to clear out the homeless camp – and its estimated more than 100 residents – for good.

“Things seem to be going pretty well,” says Bergel. “We’ll at least get as many people out peacefully as we can.”

Bergel visits the area often, checking in with residents, petting pitbulls and spreading the word about the upcoming eviction date. People have been increasingly responsive to the idea of the shipping container village, she says, and are signing up with Betty Chinn.

She is doubling back to the parking lot when she decides to check in on Manny, an older man with diabetes and mobility problems. He was sick the day before. Although Manny can walk, he must use his wheelchair to get far, and relies on his friends and neighbors in the marsh to help him with some tasks like getting dressed and finding food. He is waiting on the Veteran’s Administration to help him get an apartment, but this solution is at least a week away. In the meantime, he and a friend might stay in a motel, or in the shipping container set up.

In this place, etiquette demands a shout to announce your arrival, and just outside the entrance to the camp, Bergel does so. Receiving no response, she moves closer.

“Manny, are you in there?”

From within the tent, there’s the sound of a muffled whimper.

“Manny? Are you sick? Do you need help?”

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Friday, April 29, 2016

Full Report: Judge Allows Bulk of PalCo Marsh Evictions to Proceed, Saying "I Have 11 Litigants"

Posted By on Fri, Apr 29, 2016 at 6:39 PM

A current camp in the PalCo Marsh. - LINDA STANSBERRY
  • Linda Stansberry
  • A current camp in the PalCo Marsh.
OAKLAND — Eleven homeless people in Eureka cannot be evicted from a long-established homeless encampment on Monday unless the city complies with yet-to-be-determined conditions for their alternative shelter, a federal judge ruled from the bench this afternoon.


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Federal Judge Grants PalCo Marsh Restraining Order, But Only for 11 Plaintiffs

Posted By on Fri, Apr 29, 2016 at 4:11 PM

A camp in the PalCo Marsh. - LINDA STANSBERRY
  • Linda Stansberry
  • A camp in the PalCo Marsh.

A federal judge has granted a temporary restraining order to prevent Eureka's pending eviction of people camping illegally in the Palco Marsh. Kind of.

Courthouse News Services' Katherine Proctor, who was in court covering this afternoon's hearing, said federal Judge Jeffrey S. White granted a request for the restraining order, but not for all of the more than 100 people currently living in the marsh. Instead, White granted the order only for the 11 plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed Monday challenging the city's May 2 eviction order. The rest, the city can still evict as planned Monday.

White ordered then ordered attorneys on both sides to draft a proposed order from the court by 5 p.m. tomorrow that will either allow the plaintiffs to remain in the marsh after the evictions or provide that the city will find a different shelter option for them that is agreeable to all parties.

Local attorney Peter Martin filed the lawsuit Monday, alleging the city was violating their constitutional rights by evicting them and criminalizing campaign within the city when there are insufficient shelter options to accommodate those being displaced. In a reply brief, City Attorney Cyndy Day-Wilson argued that there are sufficient shelter options for those who desire a legal alternative to camping in the marsh, and that delaying the scheduled eviction would jeopardize millions in grant funds, expose the city to liability and enable an ongoing environmental disaster in the marsh.

Read more about Martin's suit here and the city's reply here. And, check back here for Proctor's full report from this afternoon's court hearing.
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Operating, Lease Agreements Last Hurdle for Container Community

Posted By on Fri, Apr 29, 2016 at 2:22 PM

The container community will ultimately house 40 people for up to six months, beginning Sunday. - THADEUS GREENSON
  • Thadeus Greenson
  • The container community will ultimately house 40 people for up to six months, beginning Sunday.
Less than 72 hours before more than 100 homeless people are slated to be evicted from the Palco Marsh area, a new temporary housing project to accommodate 40 of them is taking shape.

Down at the corner of Commercial and Third streets in Eureka, a bevy of construction crews worked busily this morning to continue converting five Connex shipping containers into temporary living quarters. As contractors attached doors and electricians ran wiring, a chain link fence was being erected around the property.

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

'A Significant Threat': Eureka Responds to Lawsuit, Offers Contradictory Declarations

Posted By on Thu, Apr 28, 2016 at 4:49 PM

The Devil's Playground, a looming liability concern for the city of Eureka, must be removed by early summer or the city risks losing its insurance coverage.
  • The Devil's Playground, a looming liability concern for the city of Eureka, must be removed by early summer or the city risks losing its insurance coverage.
The city of Eureka is arguing in a federal court filing that there is no need for a judge to issue a temporary restraining order halting the city’s planned May 2 eviction of homeless people living in the PalCo Marsh, because there’s no threat that they will be irreparably harmed by being forced to relocate. Further, the city argues, if there is a threat of irreparable harm, it would be to the city if it's forced to delay the evictions, which it argues could jeopardize millions in grant funds, expose the city to liability and enable an ongoing environmental disaster.

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'Minimum Standards': Federal Suit Seeking to Halt Marsh Evictions to be Heard Friday

Posted By on Thu, Apr 28, 2016 at 8:55 AM

A camp on the waterfront. - LINDA STANSBERRY
  • Linda Stansberry
  • A camp on the waterfront.
On Monday afternoon, local attorney Peter Martin and Eureka City Attorney Cyndy Day-Wilson got together for lunch. The topic of the day was a lawsuit Martin was working on and looking to bring against the city stemming from its ordering about 150 homeless people in the Palco Marsh to vacate the area by May 2.

Day-Wilson had reached out to Martin in the hopes of dissuading him from filing the lawsuit and, according to Martin, during lunch she explained to him that the city simply didn’t have any money to help relocate the soon-to-be-displaced marsh residents. “I’m always a little bit suspicious of government officials who tell me they don’t have any money, because it seems they have money for the things they deem important,” Martin said.

By the end of the day, Martin had filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of 11 plaintiffs, alleging the city was violating their constitutional rights and the protections of the federal Uniform Relocation Assistance Act. On the surface, the main tenet of Martin’s argument is a pretty simple one: By pushing people out of the marsh and enforcing its anti-camping ordinance when there isn’t enough shelter space to accommodate them, the city is illegally criminalizing homelessness and violating people’s rights.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Our Assemblyman Golfed Pebble Beach Last Year for Free

Posted By on Wed, Apr 27, 2016 at 5:16 PM

Fore! - GRANT SCOTT-GOFORTH
  • Grant Scott-Goforth
  • Fore!
Politicians are just like us. Who hasn’t been given $460 tickets to a Warriors or Giants game from a powerful state union or private corporation?

The LA Times just released an article detailing the sports-related gifts handed to California lawmakers and there was our very own 2nd District Assemblyman Jim Wood, leading the state in single gift value.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Humboldt Voters: Elect the Person Who Might Cast Your Vote For You in the Democratic Convention

Posted By on Tue, Apr 26, 2016 at 3:40 PM

thinkstockphotos-81284538.jpg
Humboldt County voters: Here’s your chance to take part in the arcane and confusing tradition of presidential delegate selection. Hold on to your butts.

On May 1, the Democratic Party will choose eight delegates each from the Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders camps to potentially represent California’s 2nd Congressional District voters at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in July.

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Monday, April 25, 2016

UPDATED: Despite Uncertainty, Homeless Container Community Project Plows Forward

Posted By on Mon, Apr 25, 2016 at 4:55 PM

Affordable Homeless Housing Alternatives President Nezzie Wade presents information about a sanctuary camp proposal on March 7. - LINDA STANSBERRY
  • Linda Stansberry
  • Affordable Homeless Housing Alternatives President Nezzie Wade presents information about a sanctuary camp proposal on March 7.
UPDATE:
The city of Eureka received one response to its request for proposals to help the soon-to-be-displaced homeless people currently residing behind the Bayshore Mall, and it appears to dead on arrival.

City Manager Greg Sparks said he’s currently reviewing the proposal submitted by the local nonprofit Affordable Homeless Housing Alternatives with an eye on making a recommendation to the city council at its next meeting, on May 2, the same day the city will be forcing the 140 to 200 people living in the marsh to go elsewhere. But AHHA’s proposal seems very unlikely to go anywhere, as it violates the city’s stated requirements that any proposal to help provide a living space for homeless people be free to the city and temporary in nature.

AHHA’s proposal asks the city to spend between $50,000 and $150,000 for one to three sanctuary camps that would accommodate 30 to 90 people. The proposal also makes clear that AHHA’s vision is for camps that could become self-sustaining after their first year, which seems unlikely to fit the city’s definition of temporary.

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