Thursday, September 12, 2019

Eureka, County Are Parties in Opioid Settlement Agreement

Posted By on Thu, Sep 12, 2019 at 11:02 AM

Eureka and Humboldt County are parties to the tentative multi-billion-dollar settlement reached this week in a landmark lawsuit brought by thousands of municipal governments and more than two dozen states against Purdue Pharma, the company that created OxyContin.

The settlement — which still needs to be ratified by plaintiffs and approved by the judge — reportedly involves Purdue Pharma filing for bankruptcy protection, dissolving and emerging as a new company, the profits of which would be distributed among plaintiffs in the case. The deal also would reportedly see Purdue Pharma’s owners, the Sackler family, pay out $3 billion in cash over seven years but includes no admission of wrongdoing. According to NBC News, the entire settlement is valued at $10 billion to $12 billion.
The county of Humboldt, home to more opioid prescriptions than people, and the city of Eureka are parties to the tentative settlement reached with Purdue Pharma in the massive opioid lawsuit that includes more than 2,000 municipalities. - FLICKR
  • Flickr
  • The county of Humboldt, home to more opioid prescriptions than people, and the city of Eureka are parties to the tentative settlement reached with Purdue Pharma in the massive opioid lawsuit that includes more than 2,000 municipalities.
Eureka City Attorney Bob Black said the city is still awaiting details on the particulars of the settlement and how funds would be distributed, noting that the agreement will need to be approved by at least 75 percent of plaintiffs in the case to take effect.

That may prove a high bar, as some parties have already publicly criticized the settlement as inadequate.

“@purduepharma has provided an insultingly weak offer to the American people for the #OpioidEpidemic that they’ve fueled for decades,” Pensylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro tweeted yesterday. “It allows them to walk away billionaires and admit no wrongdoing. I don’t accept that.”

A sticking point in settlement negotiations has reportedly been how much of its personal fortunate the Sackler family would be included in a payout. The case had been scheduled for trial next month in Ohio.

In its complaints — filed by the firm Keller Rohrback — Eureka and the county alleged Purdue Pharma violated federal racketeering laws and constituted a public nuisance by minimizing addiction risks associated with OxyContin, which led to overprescribing and fueled the national opioid epidemic.

The Yurok Tribe also has a suit pending against Purude Pharma, though we don’t know if it, too, is included in the tentative settlement agreement, as an email to the tribe’s spokesperson has not yet been returned.

Confirming that Humboldt County is a party to the settlement, Spokesperson Sean Quincey, like Black, said the particular provisions of the agreement aren’t yet clear.

“The settlement means the county will likely receive an award of money to compensate us for the damage created by the opioid crisis but we do not yet have the details of the agreement,” he said.
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Sunday, September 8, 2019

Coasties Rescue Two Injured Firefighters from the Fireline

Posted By on Sun, Sep 8, 2019 at 9:30 AM

U.S. Coast Guard Sector Humboldt Bay rescued two seriously injured firefighters from a ridge in the Trinity Alps Wilderness Area early Friday morning, plucking them from a spot just yards away from the fire line and pulling them to safety.

At about 9:15 p.m. Thursday, the U.S Forest Service asked for the Coast Guard’s help rescuing the two firefighters who had been hit by falling rocks, leaving them with head, back and leg injuries near the Canyon Creek area of the Middle Fire. The Coast Guard launched its MH-65D Dolphin helicopter crew, who flew to the area and located the injured firefighters about 10 yards away from the fire line in a clearing the firefighters’ crew had cut to make way for the rescue.

A screenshot from a video capturing the U.S. Coast Guard's rescue of two injured firefighters from the Middle Fire.
  • A screenshot from a video capturing the U.S. Coast Guard's rescue of two injured firefighters from the Middle Fire.
The helicopter crew was ultimately able to hoist the firefighters to safety from 240 feet above, its maximum range. Both injured firefighters were flown to the Weaverville airport, where they were transferred to medical personnel.

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Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Huffman Calls Congressional Oath to God "Unconstitutional," "Preposterous"

Posted By on Wed, Sep 4, 2019 at 2:08 PM

North Coast Congressman Jared Huffman is again making waves as Congress’ only proclaimed “humanist.”

During an interview on the Freedom from Religion Foundation’s Freethought Matters program, Huffman, a lawyer by trade, said he believes requiring Congressional witnesses to pledge an oath to God is unconstitutional.

“It’s unconstitutional to require a witness in congressional testimony to affirm an oath to a deity they may not even believe in or to affirm an oath to a singular deity when you might be a polytheistic Hindu, for example,” Huffman said. “It’s just preposterous.”

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Eureka Sinkhole Leads to Major Construction on Myrtle

Posted By on Wed, Sep 4, 2019 at 9:36 AM

Work to repair a “rapidly-developing sinkhole” on Myrtle Avenue near Eighth Avenue revealed that a nearly 100-year-old storm drain line had partially collapsed and had “multiple joint and other failures,” according to the city of Eureka.

To protect the road, city officials determined that the best course was to abandon the pipe and install a new one, which means the full width of Myrtle will need to be dug up. 
The sinkhole that started it all. - CITY OF EUREKA
  • City of Eureka
  • The sinkhole that started it all.

“Rather than close the road and detour traffic on to other city streets, the city has decided to build a temporary bypass road around the construction site,” a release states. “Construction of the bypass road began last week and will be followed by the installation of the culvert.”

According to the city, construction is expected to be completed by winter and access to “the Eureka Skate Park and other businesses/residences in the area will be maintained” but the project will have major impacts on traffic flow.

Anyone who can is asked avoid the area and use alternative routes.

Read the full city of Eureka release below:

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Thursday, August 29, 2019

Charter Schools, Unions Call a Truce in an Epic Battle as Newsom Brokers a Deal

Posted By on Thu, Aug 29, 2019 at 8:59 AM

Gov. Gavin Newsom, flanked by authors Sen. Connie Leyva and Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, prepares to sign a charter school transparency bill earlier this year. - PHOTO FOR CALMATTERS BY RICARDO CANO
  • Photo for CALmatters by Ricardo Cano
  • Gov. Gavin Newsom, flanked by authors Sen. Connie Leyva and Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, prepares to sign a charter school transparency bill earlier this year.
Gov. Gavin Newsom brokered an agreement Wednesday on a high-profile charter-school regulation proposal at the center of this year’s contentious battle between teachers unions and charter advocates, removing a key hurdle for its passage this session.

The compromise on Assembly Bill 1505 comes after months of lobbying by the state’s two most influential education interest groups and several impassioned hearings over sweeping proposed changes to how the publicly funded, independently managed schools operate in California.

Initiated in the early 1990s as a way to bring innovation into California’s K-12 school system, charter schools have sharply grown over the years, primarily in the state’s urban school systems, and have become a flashpoint for unions, who contend they draw enrollment away from traditional public schools, depriving them of critical funding and resources.

In a joint statement Wednesday afternoon, Newsom and Senate and Assembly leaders characterized the deal on AB 1505 as one that “significantly reforms the Charter Schools Act to address long-standing challenges for both school districts and charter schools.”

“This agreement focuses on the needs of our students,” the statement from the Governor’s Office read. “It increases accountability for all charter schools, allows high-quality charter schools to thrive, and ensures that the fiscal and community impacts of charter schools on school districts are carefully considered.”

Under the latest iteration of AB 1505, which lawmakers are expected to vote on in the two weeks remaining before the end of the legislative session, local school boards would have more discretion over approving new charter schools, including the ability to factor in a new charter’s impact on a district’s finances — a criterion that districts were not allowed to consider for prior charters.

All charter school teachers also would be required to hold some sort of state credential along with a background check, though uncredentialed charter teachers leading “non-core” classes would have five years to meet that requirement.

The state would also impose a two-year moratorium on non-classroom based and online charter schools under the proposal. But a pathway toward appeals to county and state boards for charters denied by local school boards would remain in place under the proposal.

Unions representing teachers and classified school employees celebrated the agreement, touting it as “significant progress on behalf of our students.” The California Teachers Association, which backed Newsom during the election, spent $4.3 million this year lobbying for more restrictions to charter schools.

“All along, our goals have included ensuring locally-elected school board members have the discretion to make decisions to meet the needs of local students … and holding all taxpayer-funded public schools to the same high standards,” the CTA and a coalition of unions said in a joint statement.

The California Charter Schools Association removed its opposition — formally shifting to a “neutral” position — on AB 1505 after it said it secured “significant protections” for charter schools, including some preservation of appeals to counties and the state, as well as granting high-performing charters a fast track toward renewal.

“For 25 years, California’s charter public school movement has relentlessly run towards the greatest challenges in public education,” Myrna Castrejón, president and CEO of the state’s charter association said in a statement.

“Far too many of our most vulnerable students have been underserved by our current public school system, which is exactly why we’ve engaged in thoughtful conversations and shown a willingness to compromise on this important legislation.”

News of the agreement marked a striking departure from previous sessions in which teachers unions and charter advocates bitterly fought the opposing sides’ proposals to a legislative stalemate.

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Wednesday, August 28, 2019

HSU to Offer Immigration Legal Services to Staff, Employees

Posted By on Wed, Aug 28, 2019 at 2:01 PM

Humboldt State University announced today that it is included in a California State University systemwide plan that will provide immigration legal services to its employees and the estimated 100 undocumented students currently enrolled at HSU.

“I am delighted that we will be able to increase the availability of immigration legal services to the California State University community,” writes CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White in a press release. “We remain committed to ensuring that all CSU students have the opportunity to pursue their higher education goals regardless of their country of origin."

The program will see an immigration lawyer from the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights on HSU's campus for a few days each month to provide legal assistance through the through HSU's Educational Opportunity Program office. HSU has pledged to keep its appointment calendars confidential, adding that while students will receive priority for the appointments, they will also be made available to students who are U.S. citizens but from mixed-status families, as well as employees.
  • FILE
“We don’t have immigration legal services in our region, as far south as Santa Rosa and east to Redding,” says EOP Director Dan Saveliff. “We have advocacy and support programs on campus and in the local community, but immigration law requires expertise that’s not accessible. Oftentimes students have to figure things out on their own and can receive incomplete or inaccurate information. So we’re excited the campus will have access to that expertise.”

According to a press release, the lawyer's first trip to campus will be Sept. 16 and 17. For more information or to make an appointment, students and faculty can call the EOP office at 826-4781.

For more information, see the full HSU press release copied below:

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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Today's Temps Another One for the Record Books

Posted By on Wed, Aug 21, 2019 at 3:08 PM

Well, this summer’s record list just got a little bit longer today, with the National Weather Service reporting that the temperature at the Woodley Island office hit 78 degrees just after 1 p.m. today, taking away another title.

So far this summer, the coast has broken a few records, including the June 11 heatwave where the mercury hit 85 degrees — taking the hottest day ever in June since records began title — and Aug. 13 when another daily record was set at 71 degrees.

Editor's note: A previous version incorrectly stated a famous event that took place on the previous record holding date.
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Monday, August 19, 2019

'The Bay is Back in Business' After Dredging

Posted By on Mon, Aug 19, 2019 at 1:38 PM

The Humboldt Bay Harbor, Conservation and Recreation District announced today that shipping restrictions have been lifted after roughly 1.1 million cubic yards of sediment were removed from the Humboldt Bay entrance channel.

During the winter, “significant sediment deposits” accumulated near buoy No. 9, which caused “extremely dangerous shoaling conditions" and the closure of Humboldt Bay to commercial shipping, according to the district.

The North Jetty. - USCG
  • USCG
  • The North Jetty.
With breaking waves inside the bay in an area dubbed “Rock and Roll Alley” by local fishermen due to the often rough conditions, boats became susceptible to tipping over and an emergency was declared on the local and state level.

Harbor district Executive Director Larry Oetker says it’s very fortunate that no one was injured.

“We owe the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Congressman Jared Huffman and Leroy Zerlang a debt of gratitude for all the extra effort they put into removing the hazardous conditions,” he says in the release. “The bay is back in business.”

Read the harbor district release below:

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Newsom Signs Landmark Police Use-of-Force Bill

Posted By and on Mon, Aug 19, 2019 at 12:25 PM

California will soon have a tougher new legal standard for the use of deadly force by police, under legislation Gov. Gavin Newsom signed today that was inspired by last year’s fatal shooting of a young, unarmed man in Sacramento.

Newsom signed the legislation amid unusual fanfare, convening numerous legislators, family members of people who have died in police shootings and advocates including civil-rights leader Dolores Huerta in a courtyard at the Secretary of State’s building used in the past for inaugurations and other formal events.

The governor contends that with Assembly Bill 392 in place, police will turn increasingly to de-escalation techniques including verbal persuasion, weapons other than guns and other crisis intervention methods.
Gov. Gavin Newsom, crowd at signing ceremony for use-of-force bill. - PHOTO BY DAN MORAIN, CALMATTERS
  • Photo by Dan Morain, CalMatters
  • Gov. Gavin Newsom, crowd at signing ceremony for use-of-force bill.

“I would hope that if AB 392 had been law last year, that our family would not have to be mourning Christopher’s first angelversary today,” Barbara Okamoto said in a statement.

Her grandson, Christopher Okamoto, was killed in Bakersfield last Aug. 19, when police responded to a domestic violence call. He had a pellet gun.

The law reflects a compromise between civil-rights advocates who want to limit when police can shoot and law enforcement groups who said earlier versions of the bill would have put officers in danger.

Under the new law, which takes effect January 1, police may use deadly force only when “necessary in defense of human life.”

That’s a steeper standard than prosecutors apply now, which says officers can shoot when doing so is “reasonable.” One of the most significant changes will allow prosecutors to consider officers’ actions leading up to a shooting when deciding whether deadly force is justified.

“This will make a difference not only in California, but we know it will make a difference around the world,” said Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, the San Diego Democrat who carried the legislation.

The law doesn’t go as far as civil libertarians originally proposed and will likely leave it to courts to define what a “necessary” use of force is in future cases. The negotiations led a few early supporters, including the group Black Lives Matter, to drop their support and major statewide law-enforcement organizations to drop their opposition. After a year of contentious testimony over how to reduce police shootings, the final version of the bill sailed through the Legislature with bipartisan support.

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Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Eureka Hit a Record High on Tuesday

Posted By on Wed, Aug 14, 2019 at 11:25 AM

If you were wondering, the coast did set a record temperature for the day yesterday at 71. That bested the 2003 high of 70, according the Eureka office of the National Weather Service.

Of course that’s nothing in comparison to the what-the-heck highs of early June, when the 11th saw Eureka hit a scorching 85 degrees, a tie for the month’s record, followed by another record the next day when Woodley Island hit 71 by 9 a.m.

The normal temperature for the day was 64 and last year the high was 59.

If another record is to be set or hit today on the coast, temps will need to reach 74 on the coast. The forecast for Eureka is a high of 72 but inland the mercury is expected to soar, with Garberville looking at 95 degrees and Hoopa at 97.

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