Thursday, June 30, 2016

Grand Jury Blasts County Procurement Process

Posted By on Thu, Jun 30, 2016 at 9:54 AM

humboldt_seal.jpg
On Wednesday the Humboldt County civil grand jury came out with another startling report: The county is not adequately tracking how millions of dollars in contracts are being spent.

The report alleges a lack of accountability, lack of transparency, lack of consistent terminology and a lack of oversight. Over the last decade, an increasing number of county departments have been consolidated, which the HCCGJ says is partially responsible for “a duplication of efforts in the contract process and a lack of regular review for millions of dollars of county expenditures.”

Procurement – the process of buying supplies, equipment or third-party services – is usually overseen by a single contract administrator, who only attaches his or her name to projects which have received his or her scrutiny. But the rules governing this process in Humboldt County are allegedly slipshod, with “no consistent terminology describing roles in the contract writing or review process.” The county administrative officer was also occasionally excluded from this process, according to the report. Each individual branch within the county appear to have its own individual systems in place for hiring and evaluating contracts, rather than a uniform process used across the county administration.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Missing New Zealand Man Confirmed Dead in Possible Drowning

Posted By on Wed, Jun 29, 2016 at 12:57 PM

Lester Abbey - ABBEY SYSTEMS WEBSITE
  • Abbey Systems Website
  • Lester Abbey
The Humboldt County Coroner's Office has confirmed that a body found near the Mad River Boat Ramp at 9:20 a.m. today was that of Lester Abbey, who went missing yesterday after leaving for an evening jog. Abbey's body was retrieved by a Coast Guard Helicopter.

The New Zealand man was visiting family in McKinleyville, and his former sister-in-law stated on social media that when he left to run the Hammond Trail at 4:30 p.m., his plan was to jog to the beach, then jump in the Mad River and swim back to his parents' home by Knox Cove. Abbey was fit for his 63 years. The website for his company, Abbey Systems, describes him as an avid cyclist and when his family initially raised the alarm about his disappearance they said he was in "good physical shape." 

Drowning claimed the lives of 12 people in Humboldt County last year, a seven-year high. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has warned that even strong and experienced swimmers can underestimate the strength and frigidity of local waters. The coroner has yet to confirm a cause of death for Abbey, but if confirmed, his would be the third drowning of 2016.


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Monday, June 27, 2016

Bayside Man Killed in Early Morning Crash

Posted By on Mon, Jun 27, 2016 at 11:01 AM

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A 37-year-old Bayside man was killed early this morning in a single car accident in McKinleyville.

Dahmay Shiday was driving his gray 2006 Subaru westbound on Murray Road in McKinleyville at about 2 a.m. at a high rate of speed when he attempted to turn right onto the northbound U.S. Highway 101 on-ramp and lost control. The Subaru became airborne, according to a California Highway Patrol press release, before colliding with a tree on the embankment.

Emergency personnel had to use the jaws of life to extract Shiday from the wreckage before he was transported to Mad River Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 6:15 a.m.  

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Sunday, June 26, 2016

HumBug: Water Babies

Posted By on Sun, Jun 26, 2016 at 3:00 PM

A damselfly having left its old skin behind as it emerged from the water. This one is still soft and uncolored. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • A damselfly having left its old skin behind as it emerged from the water. This one is still soft and uncolored.

One of the most remarkable things about many insects is their ability to completely change their lifestyles through the process of metamorphosis.

Like us, the most primitive insects start out as small copies of their adult parents. Their lifestyle will be the same throughout their entire lives as to where they live, what they eat and how they react to stimuli. The silverfish, and bristletails, are of this group.

Next up the evolutionary tree are creatures that start life as small copies of the adults, but lacking one distinguishing characteristic: wings. There are a great many insect species that fit this profile, the “true bugs” (order hemiptera) are like this. While each stage resembles the adult in general shape, the last molt into the adult “instar” is when they will get wings and can mate.
Dragonfly larva coated with algae, possibly a western river cruiser. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • Dragonfly larva coated with algae, possibly a western river cruiser.
They are followed by a most remarkable group, everyone's favorites, the Odonata, dragonflies and damselflies. A bit over 300 million years ago, their larvae returned to the water. Looking at one their young, it is difficult to tell what it will eventually become. Their shapes are often remarkably different from their adult forms, they breathe water through gills at their rear ends and can expel it forcefully giving them jet propelled rapid movement. Their jaws snap out on a hinge somewhat similar to the monsters in the Alien movies. Unlike their adult coloration, they are usually well camouflaged; some species going so far as to allow algae to grow on their carapaces. For the most part they crawl around on the bottom of ponds, lakes or streams.
Damselfly larva. Note feather shaped appendages on rear end. Those are gills! - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • Damselfly larva. Note feather shaped appendages on rear end. Those are gills!
Unlike insects even higher on the evolutionary tree, they have no resting pupal or cocoon stage like flies, butterflies and beetles. One day, the larva just pulls itself out of the water, sheds its old exoskeleton, pumps up its wings, dries them and flies away breathing air and capturing prey on the wing. As adults they can hardly walk at all, and will take wing to move an inch if necessary.

It's like a magic trick in slow motion. I've watched the transformation, which can take place in an hour under ideal conditions. Technically, the newly minted adult is called a teneral and although it can fly, it will be a few days until it takes on its brightest colors and can mate.
A California darner all grown up.
  • A California darner all grown up.
The males of some species develop a white chalky prunosity over parts of their wings and bodies throughout their lives but, unlike that dramatic final molt it, is only a matter of a gradual coloration change over the weeks or months it has left to live.


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Rat Infestation Leads to Finger Pointing as Ray's Leaves Hoopa

Posted By on Sun, Jun 26, 2016 at 11:55 AM

THINKSTOCK
  • Thinkstock
A rodent infestation and a nasty public spat over who’s at fault have combined to close the Hoopa Valley’s only grocery store.

The problem first crept into public view last week, after numerous complaints to Humboldt County Environmental Health Services regarding a large rat infestation at Ray’s Food Place that left rat droppings, gnawed products and the smell of urine throughout the store. The store initially announced it would close some parts of the store, then announced it would fully close until repairs could be made. Now Ray's is announcing that it’s terminating its lease.

There has been a volley of finger pointing between the tribe, which owns the building, and the store, C&K Markets, Inc., which owns the Ray’s grocery chain and is officially the tribe’s tenant. The tribe has maintained that C&K has been callous and indifferent to problems at the store — the only place for tribal members to buy groceries in a 10-plus mile radius. And C&K has pointed the finger back, saying the tribe hasn’t kept the building up and has been unresponsive.

That trend continued Friday, when both sides issued accusatory press releases announcing the split.

In it’s release, Ray’s maintains it has not heard from the tribe since June 17 and that for nine years the store has been trying to negotiate for a long-term lease that would allow the company to make improvements to the store property, but that the tribe “did not respond to our inquires, so we’ve operated on a month-to-month basis.” The company says it has been working to address the rodent issue but wouldn’t reopen without a long-term lease from the tribe.

“Smooth store operations require a good working relationship with the landlord; we do not have that partnership with the tribe,” the release states. “Given the tribe’s lack of interest in talking with us about retaining us as tenants, we are giving notice that we will vacate the store on Aug. 31, 2016. The store will not reopen. … We cannot operate a store when the building owner ignores us and does not respond to us.”

The tribe, on the other hand, said in its release that it has made every effort to make the store a safe place to shop. “The rodent infestation inside the store, which appears to have developed over an extended period of time, is reprehensible and unacceptable,” the press release states. “Ray’s should be ashamed of themselves for expecting tribal and community members to purchase products contaminated with rat feces, oils, and urine.”

Regardless of who is at fault in the situation, for the foreseeable future tribal members will have to get by without a grocery store in their community, which poses as a problem as some members do not have cars and public transportation options are limited in the valley. The tribe states in its release that it’s “working diligently” on short and long-term solutions to ensure access to safe and healthy food. Some of these may include grocery distributions and free transportation to stores in Eureka and Arcata.

See the full press releases from both entities copied below:


From the Hoopa Valley Tribe:

The Hoopa Valley Tribe has made every effort to work with Ray’s Food Place and C & K Markets, Inc. in order to ensure that Ray’s Food Place in Hoopa is a safe place for community members to shop. The rodent infestation inside the store, which appears to have developed over an extended period of time, is reprehensible and unacceptable. Ray’s should be ashamed of themselves for expecting tribal and community members to purchase products contaminated with rat feces, oils, and urine.
The Tribe has therefore determined that the severance of our business relationship with Ray’s and C & K is in the best interests of the community due to health and safety concerns. The Hoopa Valley Tribal Council Members want to assure the membership and the community that they are working diligently to develop both short-term and long-term solutions that ensure access to safe and healthy food. The Hoopa Valley Tribe will make every effort to publicize any and all temporary services we provide on an ongoing basis, including grocery distributions and free transportation to stores in the Eureka/Arcata area, which will assist them with their household shopping needs.
The Tribe will continue to use all communication avenues at its disposal to provide updates to the membership and the community regarding our efforts.


Press release from Ray’s Food Place:


Our last communication from the Hoopa Valley Tribe was Friday, June 17. This is not an unusual situation, as the Tribe has often been unresponsive to us. For the past nine years, we’ve expressed our interest in negotiating a long-term lease, so we could make improvements in the store. The Tribe did not respond to our inquiries, so we’ve operated on a month-to-month basis.
Last week, we voluntarily closed Ray’s Food Place in Hoopa due to rodent issues that were not acceptable to us. We also took the initiative to hire contractors to seal the exterior of the store to prevent further rodent entry. Over this past weekend, our contractors removed refrigeration systems and started other in-store eradication efforts. Planning and completing this work required that the store be closed to the public. Earlier, we indicated that we would reopen the store as soon as we had a long-term lease with the Tribe.
Despite numerous attempts to communicate with the Tribe, C&K management has not heard from them for almost a week. Smooth store operations require a good working relationship with the landlord; we do not have that partnership with the Tribe. Given the Tribe’s lack of interest in talking with us about retaining us as tenants, we are giving notice that we will vacate the store on August 31, 2016. The store will not reopen.
We will offer Hoopa store employees positions at other stores, but we know that may not be an option for all of them. We also realize that our store is a very convenient place for people to shop, and closing will mean that many will have to travel to obtain food. Yet, we cannot operate a store when the building owner ignores us and does not respond to us. We extend our appreciation to our employees and customers for their support over the years.

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Tribes Threaten Lawsuit Over Klamath Flows

Posted By on Sun, Jun 26, 2016 at 9:23 AM

A look at the four Klamath dams slated for removal.
  • A look at the four Klamath dams slated for removal.

The Karuk and Yurok tribes have both put the federal government on notice that they intend to sue, alleging the feds have violated the Endangered Species Act by failing to ensure adequate water flows for Coho salmon on the Klamath River.

Citing a disease infection rate of 90 percent for juvenile salmon last year, spurred by low flows and warm water temperatures, coupled with historically low salmon run projections, the tribes said they felt they had to act.

“We cannot stand by and do nothing while our salmon hover over the brink of extinction,” said Yurok Chair Thomas P. O’Rourke Sr. in a press release. “We will not continue to watch water managers jeopardize the fate of our fish and our river.”

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Friday, June 24, 2016

#Eureka24HR: A Day in the Life

Posted By on Fri, Jun 24, 2016 at 8:04 PM

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Remember #Arcata24HR? It was the project undertaken by local photographer León Villagómez and brought to you in the pages of the Journal last year in which he spent 24 straight hours traversing Arcata and photographing its sights.

Well, Villagómez is at it again, this time wanting to capture all Eureka has to offer. He’ll begin his journey at midnight tonight, and continue snapping away throughout town until midnight tomorrow. You can follow along with Villagómez in real time on Instagram using the hashtag #Eureka24HR. We’ll also be curating his posts on this page (www.northcoastjournal.com/eureka24hr), where readers will be able to see #Eureka24HR as it unfolds. Just be sure to check back often, as Villagómez is planning on posting a handful of pictures an hour, that is until his likely collapse from exhaustion at 11:59 p.m. tomorrow.

Check out #Arcata24HR here, and you can find the write up we did on it here. And click here to follow along with #Eureka24HR.
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Appellate Court Hears Police Video Arguments

Posted By on Fri, Jun 24, 2016 at 1:30 PM

The dash camera in a Eureka Police Department patrol car.
  • The dash camera in a Eureka Police Department patrol car.

Can police videos recorded on body-worn and patrol car dash cameras by considered confidential police officer personnel records and hidden from public view?

That’s the question three justices with the California First Appellate District spent about a half an hour wrestling with in a San Francisco courtroom Thursday. It was clear from their questions that the justices felt deeming the video footage as personnel records would represent an enlargement of the protections currently applied under the law, an enlargement that could have a host of consequences. The arguments touched on everything from California’s open records laws to the very purpose of recording police interactions.


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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Taking A Stand by Sitting Down: Jared Huffman Takes the Floor

Posted By on Thu, Jun 23, 2016 at 10:11 AM


Huffman selfies with his fellow sitters. - TWITTER
  • Twitter
  • Huffman selfies with his fellow sitters.
Congressman Jared Huffman is "standing strong," reported his communications director Alexa Schaffer from Washington this morning. Of course, Huffman is not actually standing, but sitting, on the House chamber floor along with about a dozen other congressional Democrats, to make a point about gun violence. The sit-in commenced yesterday morning, with around 168 House members (out of 188) and 34 senators (out of 44) on the floor and in the aisles by evening. Fortified by doughnuts from Sen. Elizabeth Warren and many boxes of take-out pizza, the protest continued through the night and into today, despite the vote of House Republicans to recess three days early for the Fourth of July holiday.

The protest came in the wake of the largest mass shooting in modern American history: 49 people were gunned down in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida on Sunday, June 12. The alleged shooter, Omar Mateen, was able to purchase firearms despite having been investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Four gun control measures, including one that would prevent those having been placed on a terror watch list from buying guns, were rejected by the U.S. Senate on Monday, June 20.

Huffman, who joined his colleagues yesterday, wrote on social media that they were demanding an "an immediate vote on common-sense gun control legislation that has been stalled for years in Congress. A moment of silence is an insufficient response to tragedies like Orlando."

After a vote by House Republicans to cease filming of the proceedings, Democrats continued to document the protest using their phones and social media. Huffman's Twitter feed included some insight into the mood, saying at 4:34 p.m., "We have pizza in the cloakroom to get us through the night. More importantly, we have the courage of our convictions. #NoBillNoBreak."

He said that it was his "proudest day as a member of Congress because we are finally standing up and demanding action on one of the most critical issues facing our country."

Huffman has been a consistent proponent of gun control, saying that the Second Amendment is "not absolute." In 2015 he co-sponsored Senate Bill 407, the Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act, which amends the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act to restrict transfer and possession of large capacity ammunition.
Huffman cracked wise throughout the protest using social media. - TWITTER
  • Twitter
  • Huffman cracked wise throughout the protest using social media.

Huffman spoke twice during the sit-in, once on the issue of gun violence and again on the presence of Confederate battle flags in national veterans cemeteries. A provision banning the flags, which Huffman led earlier this year was reversed by House Republicans at 3:10 a.m. Via Twitter Huffman fumed that they had "found the time" to make this decision, despite refusing to vote on a gun bill. 

From the office Congressman Huffman:

Interrupting Historic Congressional Sit-In On Gun Violence, Republicans Once Again Vote to Allow Confederate Flags to fly over National Cemeteries

Washington, D.C.- In the dead of night while civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) led Congressional Democrats in righteous protest to call for a vote on gun safety, Congressional Republicans added insult to injury by quickly reversing an earlier vote on a provision by Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA), Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) to remove Confederate flag displays from national veterans cemeteries. At 3:10 am, without allowing any debate, the Republican House majority approved a partisan conference report that had been filed only hours before, which omitted the Huffman-Gallego-Ellison amendment despite its earlier House approval.

“Amidst a historic protest to demand action on the nation’s gun violence epidemic, in the wake of the largest mass shooting in our nation’s history, we are seeing the real priorities of the Republican majority; they have refused to allow any votes on gun safety, but did find the time to try bring back the racist symbol of the Confederacy. It is shameful that Republicans would once again seek to allow Confederate battle flags, a historic symbol of hate, to be flown over VA cemeteries. Republicans are showing where their allegiance lies — and it is not with the victims of gun violence,” said Rep. Huffman.

‘I demand that Speaker Ryan allow a vote on common-sense gun safety measures, such as implementing universal background checks, closing firearm sale loopholes, keeping firearms out of the hands of terrorists, supporting law enforcement and first responders, and fixing our mental health system. We will not break for a congressional ‘recess’ until we are allowed to vote on the commonsense, bipartisan bill to reduce gun violence. No bill, no break!”

Just last month, the House of Representatives passed the Huffman-Gallego-Ellison amendment to the 2017 VA funding bill, to prohibit federal taxpayer funds from being used to fly the Confederate battle flag at cemeteries operated by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The VA currently permits the display of the Confederate flag on Memorial Day as well as on Confederate Memorial Day at 131 facilities. 
A view from the floor of the House. - TWITTER
  • Twitter
  • A view from the floor of the House.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Centenarian, Rotarian, One of a Kind: Jim Howard Honored

Posted By on Wed, Jun 22, 2016 at 4:16 PM

The plaque honoring Jim Howard at Third and E streets. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • The plaque honoring Jim Howard at Third and E streets.
Today, fellow Rotarians honored Jim Howard — the longest-serving member of Eureka’s Rotary Club, four-and-a-half term Eureka city councilmember, Old Town revitalizer and centenarian — for his service to the community.

Howard operated Jim’s Shine Stand in Old Town Eureka from 1954 to 1990, having taken it over from his stepfather W.M. Turk, who opened it in 1938. The shoeshine stand, which was once close to the present Eureka Police Department Old Town kiosk at Third and E streets, is the site of a new plaque bearing Howard’s name and photo.

At 100 years old, Howard does not move as fast as he once did. Asked how he was feeling, he told the Journal, “aging slowly.” As Rotarians, city councilmembers, Old Town old timers and associated well-wishers gathered for the ceremony, Howard sat in Rotary member Chuck Ellsworth’s truck, drinking from a carton of milk and eating a cookie.

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