Saturday, March 30, 2019

Staff Recommends Coastal Commission Object to Trinidad Hotel Project

Posted By on Sat, Mar 30, 2019 at 9:17 AM

An artistic rendering of the proposed hotel project at Cher-Ae Heights Casino off Scenic Drive south of Trinidad. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • An artistic rendering of the proposed hotel project at Cher-Ae Heights Casino off Scenic Drive south of Trinidad.

California Coastal Commission staff issued a highly critical report on the Trinidad Rancheria's plans for a new hotel on the bluffs of Scenic Drive near Cher-Ae Heights Casino and is recommending the commission object to the project's tentative approval by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).

The 28-page document criticized the Rancheria for failing to provide sufficient data on many issues, including the hotel's water supply. Although the Trinidad Rancheria Economic Development Corporation (TREDC) hopes to purchase water from the city of Trinidad for the hotel, the city has not agreed to supply this water because it does not not know if its own limited water supply will be adequate for future needs. The Coastal Act requires that adequate public services be available for planned development.

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Friday, March 29, 2019

DA Fleming Will Ask the Attorney General's Office to Handle Prosecution in Lawson Case

Posted By on Fri, Mar 29, 2019 at 5:51 PM

David Josiah Lawson - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • David Josiah Lawson

Humboldt County District Attorney Maggie Fleming will formally ask the state Attorney General’s Office to handle prosecution of the David Josiah Lawson case going forward.


“Next week I will make a formal, in-writing request to the Attorney General’s Office to take over any future prosecution of the case,” she said in a release today. The release ended with a caveat: “However, I should point out that the Attorney General is under no statutory obligation to take the case.”


In the release, which was also a response to Charmaine Lawson, Fleming stated: “I agree with Ms. Lawson that any future prosecution should be handled by the appropriate state-level agency." However, she added that the Attorney General only takes on prosecution of cases if there is a conflict of interest for the current agency. She added that the AG previously decided not to take on the case because it found no conflict of interest in Humboldt County’s District Attorney’s Office, however, she has decided to formally ask the AG to take on prosecution of the case due to public perception. Fleming cites “misinformation” from media coverage as the prime source of the public's suspicion about a conflict of interest.


“How has the perception of a conflict of interest developed? In part through media coverage that has given extensive exposure and credence to people who have provided misinformation,” Fleming wrote.

Charmaine Lawson, mother of the Humboldt State University sophomore who was fatally stabbed at an off-campus party in April of 2017, issued a statement yesterday criticizing the Arcata Police Department's handling of the homicide investigation, calling it "beyond negligent."

She also urged Fleming to ask the state Department of Justice to intervene in the case.

A McKinleyville man, Kyle Zoellner, was arrested at the scene of Josiah Lawson's stabbing and charged with his murder but a Humboldt County Superior Court judge dismissed the charges against Zoellner a few weeks later, saying prosecutors had insufficient evidence to hold him to stand trial. APD continued investigating the case and again turned it over to the Humboldt County District Attorney's Office in November, with then interim Police Chief Rick Ehle saying detectives had found "unequivocal physical evidence" linking a specific suspect to Lawson's death, but on March 13 prosecutors announced that a criminal grand jury had decided not to indict "any persons" in the case, which has now been sent back to APD for further investigation.

The example Fleming provides in her release refers to Ehle's statement. She went on to say, "When asked about that statement by the District Attorney’s Office, Mr. Ehle claimed to have been misquoted. The distribution of misinformation about ongoing cases is unprofessional, potentially cruel and damaging to people involved, and contrary to the pursuit of justice."

Fleming also responded to Lawson’s request for the criminal grand jury transcripts, saying her office is legally unable to provide them. Fleming further points to complicating factors regarding the DNA evidence, noting, "simply finding the DNA of a person known to have been bloodied in an altercation on a weapon associated with that altercation provides little or no new information about the incident," and that "DNA from multiple contributors can complicate the interpretation of DNA evidence."


Read the full press release below:


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North Coast Night Lights: Dawn Chases the Milky Way

Posted By on Fri, Mar 29, 2019 at 12:17 PM

Night Flees the dawn as the brightening blue overtakes the Milky Way. Kneeland Road, Humboldt County, California. March 17, 2019. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • Night Flees the dawn as the brightening blue overtakes the Milky Way. Kneeland Road, Humboldt County, California. March 17, 2019.
I pulled into the turnout and shut off the engine and lights. The stars jumped out and I joined them. Above the horizon the core of our galaxy glowed in the last darkness of the night. I smiled. Hello, Darkness, my old friend, I thought. It seemed apt, though it was the sight of the Milky Way’s bright center in the sky for the first time in months that most excited me. It’s the largest cosmic structure we can see, a fascinating reminder of the unimaginable vastness and mystery beyond our world.

A bend in the road ahead beckoned. Beyond the turn lay… what? My imagination rose. Metaphor for many things, a road can hold unique feelings or meanings for each of us. To one person the road may lead outward toward places undiscovered, while to another it will bring one’s thoughts home to perhaps reveal a mystery within. It occurred to me that within and without are but two ends of a spectrum of awareness and existence.

The mysteries of road and cosmos coming together called to me. Metaphorically I didn’t know where the road led beyond that curve. How could I when I knew it would lead each of us to our own destinations? That was the fascination for me. This road led anywhere. Even if it takes one nowhere, then that is where one is. What is beyond the bend for you?
One road may take you home. Another leads you away. And some will take you inside yourself. Where are you going today? Humboldt County, California. Pre-dawn, March 17, 2019. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • One road may take you home. Another leads you away. And some will take you inside yourself. Where are you going today? Humboldt County, California. Pre-dawn, March 17, 2019.


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Charmaine Lawson 'Outraged' at APD's Press Release, State of Investigation into Son's Killing

Posted By on Fri, Mar 29, 2019 at 10:56 AM

Charmaine Lawson calls on the community to continue to demand justice for her son. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • Charmaine Lawson calls on the community to continue to demand justice for her son.
Charmaine Lawson, the mother of slain Humboldt State University sophomore David Josiah Lawson, issued a statement yesterday criticizing the Arcata Police Department's handling of the homicide investigation, calling it "beyond negligent."

The statement came in response to an APD press release issued Wednesday that announced the creation of a 24-hour tip line in the case and asked for the public's help identifying potential witnesses in five surveillance photos taken near the scene of Lawson's April 15, 2017, stabbing death.

“I ... was disheartened and outraged at the press release issued yesterday from the Arcata Police Department (APD),” she said. “For the first time after almost two years of allegedly investigating the murder of my first born son, APD set up a 24-hour tip line and released images of potential witnesses. Why weren’t these actions taken two years ago?"


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Thursday, March 28, 2019

Huffman Introduces Bills to Keep U.S. in Paris Agreement, Ban Offshore Drilling

Posted By on Thu, Mar 28, 2019 at 9:31 AM

Jared Huffman. - CONGRESS
  • Congress
  • Jared Huffman.
It’s been a busy week for North Coast Congressman Jared Huffman, who joined Democrat colleagues this week in introducing two major pieces of environmental legislation.

On Tuesday, Huffman, a member of the House Select Committee on Climate Crisis, joined colleagues in introducing legislation that would keep the United States in the Paris Climate Agreement and develop a plan for meeting the nation’s commitment to reduce emissions. Then Wednesday, Huffman and freshman Representative Joe Cunningham (D-South Caroline) introduced a bill that would permanently ban oil and gas leasing off the Pacific and Atlantic coasts.

In a statement supporting House Resolution 9, the Climate Action Now Act, Huffman said his constituents know the impacts of climate change are “all too real and all too urgent.”

“I have communities in my district who are still rebuilding from devastating wildfires, and others are reeling from historic floods this year, made worse by a changing climate,” Huffman said in the statement. ““The President has refused to lead on climate change, so Congress must act. Staying in the Paris climate agreement is critical, and it’s just the starting point in our work to address the greatest moral, economic, and environmental imperative of our time.”

Meanwhile, the Coastal and Marine Economies Protection Act introduced Wednesday, which builds on the West Coast Ocean Protection Act that Huffman had previously introduced, has widespread public support, Huffman said.

“The Trump administration’s drill-everywhere plan has run into a wave of public opposition. Americans from coast to coast have made it very clear that they do not want to see more oil rigs in their oceans,”  said Huffman, who is chair of the Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife. “The Coastal and Marine Economies Protection Act will halt Trump’s oil and gas drilling spree in its tracks, protecting coastal communities and fragile ecosystems from environmental catastrophe. In California, we know that our coastal economies would be placed at unacceptable risk by offshore oil and gas drilling, which threatens the tourism, recreation, and fishing industries. I’m glad to work together with Joe Cunningham on this ongoing effort to block offshore drilling on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, and to shield both of our coastlines from dangerous exploitation.”

See the full press releases from Huffman’s office copied below.

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Wednesday, March 27, 2019

APD Seeks Public's Help in Lawson Case

Posted By on Wed, Mar 27, 2019 at 2:45 PM

If you recognize anyone in this picture, the Arcata Police Department asks that you call (707) 825-2590. - APD
  • APD
  • If you recognize anyone in this picture, the Arcata Police Department asks that you call (707) 825-2590.
With the investigation into the 2017 stabbing death of Humboldt State University sophomore David Josiah Lawson back in its lap, the Arcata Police Department is asking for the public's help in identifying witnesses.

The department sent out a press release this afternoon announcing that it has set up a 24-hour tip line — (707) 825-2590 — for members of the public to call with information about Lawson's death, adding that callers can remain anonymous if they choose.

Additionally, the department has released five still photos pulled from "video obtained near the crime scene" with the hopes that members of the public can identify the people in them, as they may be potential witnesses in the case.

Lawson was fatally stabbed April 15, 2017, at an off-campus party near Alliance Road. Police arrested a McKinleyville man, Kyle Zoellner, at the scene but a judge later dismissed a murder charge against him, finding prosecutors hadn't presented enough evidence to hold him to stand trial, sending the case back to the investigation phase. In November, APD again turned its investigation over to the Humboldt County District Attorney's Office, with then interim APD Chief Rick Ehle saying investigators and found "unequivocal physical evidence" linking a specific suspect to Lawson's slaying.

The Humboldt County District Attorney's Office convened a criminal grand jury to look into the case in late February but after hearing testimony from 28 witnesses, the jury declined to hand up any indictments. The case is now back with APD for further investigation and current APD Chief Brian Ahearn has said the case is "solvable" and pledged to "hold someone accountable."

See the photos released by APD, as well as the full press release, copied below:

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Judge Rules Mother of Stabbing Suspect Will Not Stand Trial

Posted By on Wed, Mar 27, 2019 at 10:43 AM

gavel.jpg
Several media outlets are reporting that a Superior Court judge ruled today there was insufficient evidence for the mother of a teenage accused in the fatal stabbing of another boy to stand trial for murder.

According to the Times-Standard’s article, Judge Gregory Elvine-Kreis said the prosecution’s argument that Lorna Jean Leen “acted with ‘implied malice’ or ‘aided and abetted’” her son in the killing was not established.

Leen and her son, who is being tried as a juvenile, were arrested Aug. 10, the day after 16-year-old Brandon Brocious was found fatally stabbed in the Ocean View Cemetery.

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Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Equity Arcata to Present Projects at HSU Senate Meeting

Posted By on Tue, Mar 26, 2019 at 9:24 AM

equity_arcata_final_slogan_color.png
Equity Arcata will present a rundown of its current projects at Humboldt State University’s Senate meeting April 2.

Composed of students, staff, faculty and administrators, the HSU Senate acts is the university’s primary policy recommending bod. Its meetings — held every other Tuesday from 3 to 5 p.m. in Goodwin Forum — are open to the public. Established in 2017, Equity Arcata's mission is to create a welcoming, safe and racially equitable community by eliminating racial disparities for all people of color in housing, health, education and employment.

Four out of the seven “equity working” groups will be revealing their ongoing work. HSU Police Chief Donn Peterson will give an update from the chief’s advisory panel, which focuses on improving transparency and fostering stronger relationships with the community on and off HSU campus.

Meredith Oram, representing the organization’s "training and learning group," will present the group's current efforts to support ongoing equity training for the community and plan an immersion retreat for May or June of this year, among other things.

Lizzie Phillips will give an update from the organization’s Bias Reporting Tool and Community Response Team, which is currently working on “collecting data and funds in order to create a mobile application to report hate and bias incidents” in Arcata, at HSU and in local schools.

Lastly, Len Wolff will present the organization's housing equity working group’s effort to “establish a seal of approval for local landlords and property management companies … and establish a scholarship program that covers security deposits.”


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Monday, March 25, 2019

Sneaker Wave Kills Bay Area Man on His Birthday

Posted By on Mon, Mar 25, 2019 at 12:24 PM

coroner.gif
A Bay Area man on vacation with his family died on his birthday after being swept away by a sneaker wave north of Luffenholtz Beach near Trinidad on Friday

According to Cmdr. Brendan Hilleary, response chief at Coast Guard Sector Humboldt Bay, “The Coast Guard was first notified of the incident by multiple reporting parties near the scene at approximately 11:40 a.m., Friday, and immediately launched an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from McKinleyville and a 47-foot Motor Lifeboat from the Coast Guard station in Samoa. The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office also dispatched a deputy to scene.”

Hilleary stated that, “The helicopter arrived at the incident within six minutes of takeoff, located the missing man in the water, hoisted and flew him directly to emergency medical care at Mad River hospital.”


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Sunday, March 24, 2019

Photos from Saturday's March for Our Lives

Posted By on Sun, Mar 24, 2019 at 12:52 PM

Sunny Brae Middle School Student Nova Vaur held a sign asking, "Who's next?" at Saturday's March for Our Lives in Arcata. - PHOTO BY MARK MCKENNA
  • Photo by Mark McKenna
  • Sunny Brae Middle School Student Nova Vaur held a sign asking, "Who's next?" at Saturday's March for Our Lives in Arcata.

Yesterday some 100 marchers gathered at the Arcata Playhouse to hear students and local leaders speak before setting out on the second March for Our Lives. The local iteration of the national student-based protest march against gun violence started last year as part of the grassroots movement launched by survivors of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. See the slideshow below for photographer Mark McKenna's images of the event.

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