Government

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Rep. Huffman to Host Town Hall on Climate Crisis Action Plan

Posted By on Sun, Jul 12, 2020 at 12:46 PM

Congressman Jared Huffman will host a virtual town hall on the newly released Climate Crisis Action Plan. On Thursday, July 16 at 4 p.m., Rep. Huffman will be joined by former State Senator Fran Pavley and President and CEO of Natural Resources Defense Council Gina McCarthy. Viewers can submit questions in advance to huffmanQandA@mail.house.gov or ask them live via Facebook live. Viewers can tune in to the town hall via Huffman's Facebook page as well as other media outlets.

For more information about the town hall read the full press release below.

On Thursday, July 16 at 4:00 p.m. PDT, Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) will host a virtual town hall on the newly released Climate Crisis Action Plan, a comprehensive Congressional framework to protect the health of all families, make sure our communities can withstand the impacts of climate change, and grow our economy and put Americans back to work. Rep. Huffman will be joined by former State Senator Fran Pavley, author of California’s landmark climate law AB32, and President and CEO of Natural Resources Defense Council Gina McCarthy for this community dialogue. Viewers can submit their questions in advance to huffmanQandA@mail.house.gov or ask them live via Facebook live.

If you have questions please contact the San Rafael office at (415) 258-9657.

Event Details:

When: Thursday, July 16th

Time: 4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. PDT

Who:
Congressman Jared Huffman, Congressional District 2
Former State Senator Fran Pavley, author of California’s clean car law and the Global Warming Solutions Act
Gina McCarthy, President & CEO of NRDC, and former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency

Where:
Facebook.com/RepHuffman
Marin TV Education Channel (Comcast Ch 30 and AT&T Ch 99) and streaming online at https://cmcm.tv/30
KSRO 1350-AM will air the town hall at 6:00 p.m., streaming at KSRO.com, or on the KSRO app
KZYX live on Mendocino County Public Broadcasting 90.7FM Philo, 91.5FM Willits and Ukiah, and 88.1FM Fort Bragg and streaming at https://www.kzyx.org/
KPCA live on 103.3FM or go to kpca.fm and click the "Listen Live" box.
* This is a partial list, media coverage will be updated early next week.

Please be advised that this is a virtual event; members of the press and public should not attempt to meet in person with the Congressman and his guests.
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Saturday, July 11, 2020

Should the State Investigate Police Shootings? California Rethinks Its Resistance

Posted By on Sat, Jul 11, 2020 at 11:38 AM

If officers shot and killed Sean Monterrosa in Connecticut or New York — instead of in Vallejo, California — a state agency would investigate the June 2 incident, when a police officer reportedly mistook a hammer in the 22-year-old Latino man’s sweatshirt for a gun and fired shots through the windshield of his police vehicle. class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent:0in /

If officers shot and killed Michael Thomas in Georgia — instead of in Lancaster, California — a grand jury could investigate a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy’s claim that Thomas reached for the deputy’s gun during a domestic disturbance call inside the 62-year-old Black man’s home on June 11.

If officers shot and killed Sunshine Sallac in Utah, Wisconsin or Illinois — instead of in Lake Forest, California — an outside agency would investigate the June 24 incident, in which Orange County sheriff’s deputies responded to a residential burglary call and opened fire on the 22-year-old woman of Asian heritage, who they said was standing across the street holding a gun.

Instead, in all three cases and in dozens other California cases in recent years, the departments that hired and trained the officers involved in fatal shootings will determine what happens next. It’s standard protocol in this state, despite the fact that many legislators, local politicians, the families of the victims and, in some cases, law enforcement representatives themselves continue to call for greater outside scrutiny.

As the country contemplates the national ramifications of George Floyd’s final nine minutes of life in Minneapolis, California has its own version of the question: If this state is the nation’s laboratory for progressive laws, why has it been unable to keep the police from policing themselves?

“This one is actually embarrassing for California,” said Democratic Assemblymember Kevin McCarty of Sacramento, who is trying for the third time in five years to pass a law requiring the state’s attorney general to probe deadly officer encounters. “I think it’s a common sense reform that’s ripe for the taking this year in California.”

Yet California’s past three attorney generals — including former Gov. Jerry Brown and the state’s first two attorney generals of color, Kamala Harris and Xavier Becerra, all Democrats — have been reluctant to take on this responsibility, despite already having the authority to do so.

California Attorney General Xavier has resisted attempts to have his department routinely get involved in investigating or overseeing deadly force used by local police. - PHOTO BY ANNE WERNIKOFF FOR CALMATTERS
  • Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters
  • California Attorney General Xavier has resisted attempts to have his department routinely get involved in investigating or overseeing deadly force used by local police.

“We are neither equipped nor resourced to take over for the 58 district attorneys that role,” Becerra said in answer to a question from CalMatters during a Wednesday press conference. “On a limited occasion, we do. And usually it’s because a district attorney or his or her office must recuse himself, herself, itself from the prosecution or decision because of some conflict. Or because there is an abusive discretion on the part of the office of the DA. Or some other very exceptional circumstance.”

State oversight — by invitation only?

Nonetheless, McCarty‘s Assembly Bill 1506, which the California Senate is to consider when the Legislature returns from break, is more modest than previous iterations he’s carried that have failed. He’s abandoned the idea of requiring the attorney general to oversee inquiries into every deadly police encounter.

Instead this year’s version would create a new division within the state Justice Department to investigate deadly police encounters only if the local policing agency or district attorney actually asked for such an inquiry. The new division would also have the responsibility to prosecute any wrongdoing it uncovers.

The idea is patterned after laws in five other states: Wisconsin, Illinois, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

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Thursday, July 9, 2020

California AG and State Public Education Leaders Sue Trump Administration for Policy that Requires International Students to Take In-Person Classes or Risk Deportation

Posted By on Thu, Jul 9, 2020 at 5:42 PM

The California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley, and California State University Chancellor Timothy White announced that the State of California is filing a lawsuit against the Trump Administration's "unlawful policy that threatens to exacerbate the spread of COVID-19 and exile hundreds of thousands of college students studying in the United States through the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)."

According to the release, on July 6, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which oversees SEVP, announced the agency would formally issue a policy that will disqualify students from SEVP for taking classes entirely online during the COVID-19 pandemic. For those enrolled in SEVP with no in-person classes available, ICE’s only guidance to students was to either leave the country or transfer to another program.

"Shame on the Trump Administration for risking not only the education opportunities for students who earned the chance to go to college, but now their health and well-being as well,” said Attorney General Becerra in the release. “Today, President Trump appears set to do just that — amidst a global pandemic of historic proportions. Not on our watch. No one graduates more students from college or assembles a more talented and diverse group of future leaders than California. Today’s lawsuit rests on America’s enduring principle that everyone who works hard and plays by the rules can earn a chance to get ahead. We'll see the Trump Administration in court."

Read the full release below. 

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Newsom Appoints Yurok Education Department Director Jim McQuillen to State Board of Education

Posted By on Thu, Jul 9, 2020 at 4:49 PM

On Monday, July 6, California Governor Gavin Newsom appointed Yurok Education Director Jim McQuillen (left) to the State Board of Education. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • On Monday, July 6, California Governor Gavin Newsom appointed Yurok Education Director Jim McQuillen (left) to the State Board of Education.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has recently appointed Yurok Education Department Director Jim McQuillen to the California State Board of Education.

“I am honored to receive this appointment by Governor Newsom,” McQuillen said in a release. “In this role, I will continue to advocate for our native students and for all students to receive equitable educational services.”

According to the release, McQuillen is the first Yurok Tribe citizen to serve on the board, which is the state's K-12 policy-making body for academic standards, curriculum, instructional materials, assessments and accountability. 

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Civil Grand Jury Releases Report on David Josiah Lawson Case

Posted By on Thu, Jul 9, 2020 at 1:34 PM

David Josiah Lawson - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • David Josiah Lawson
The Humboldt County Civil Grand Jury released a report on the Arcata Police Department's response to the homicide of Humboldt State University sophomore David Josiah Lawson with recommendations to improve the law enforcement agency.

"The most difficult question the civil grand jury had to evaluate was the charge of racial bias within the police response," the report states. "The civil grand jury conducted many interviews and reviewed a vast array of information. Although the civil grand jury found failures, ineptitudes and poorly executed police work, it did not find direct evidence of racial bias."

Lawson was fatally stabbed after several fights ensued at an off-campus party during the early morning hours of April 15, 2017. Kyle Zoellner of McKinleyville was later arrested as a suspect but was later released by a Humboldt County Superior Court judge citing insufficient evidence to hold him to stand trial.

Nearly two years after his death a criminal grand jury declined to indict anyone in connection to the case. From its initial hours, the investigation into Lawson's death has been mired in controversy, as detailed in a National Police Foundation report that was released earlier this year.

The civil grand jury is recommending that the city of Arcata ensure funds to continue to hire and train more evidence technicians, to continue to diversify its staff,  train officers in cultural and biased education and improve community engagement. It is also recommending that the county and local cities established a centralized dispatch communications center that would shorten response times and to create a Citizens Advisory Board to APD that would review police conduct and service.

The civil grand jury also noted how the combination of hate speech — when Zoellner's friends said a racial slur as Lawson was on the ground bleeding — along with a white suspect and a black victim has led many to believe that the stabbing was a hate crime, however, the grand jury "believes that the final determination of a hate crime designation into the case should be withheld until a perpetrator is charged and the intent and motivation for David Josiah Lawson's homicide is fully explored."

Read the full grand jury report below.
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Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Tens of Millions in PPP Loans Flow into Humboldt

Posted By on Tue, Jul 7, 2020 at 6:49 PM

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • wikimedia commons
An across-the-board collection of hundreds of Humboldt County companies and nonprofits were among the recipients of a federal loan program meant to help small businesses keep employees on the payroll amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to data from the Small Business Administration.

The information, which we sorted by Humboldt County ZIP codes, shows tens of millions of dollars flowed into a wide spectrum of the local economy — from casinos and healthcare providers to grocery stores and construction companies — under the Paycheck Protection Program, which was created in March under the CARES Act. (Click here to see the list.)

Combined, recipients stretching from Trinidad to Garberville self-reported retaining around 9,500 jobs

According to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle, the "vast majority" of loans issued under the program were of $150,000 or less. Of the local recipients reported, more than half of the loans were for amounts between $150,000 to $350,000, nearly 70 in the $350,000-to-$1-million range, less than 20 were for $1 million to $2 million, a handful for $2 million to $5 million and two — going to Mercer Fraser Co. and Mad River Community Hospital — were listed as being between $5 million and $10 million.

California received $68 billion of the funds, with the largest loan amount — $5 million to $10 million — going to 647 businesses in the state, according to the Los Angeles Times. A total of $521 billion has been distributed as of July 6, according to the SBA, with the average loan size around $106,000.

Released this week under mounting political pressure and Freedom of Information Act lawsuits from media organizations, the data only identifies recipients of loans for more than $150,000 and is listed by amount ranges not exact figures.

Under the program, small businesses — generally those with fewer than 500 employees — were able to apply for the funding. If certain criteria are met, the loans can be forgiven.

The SBA databases lists Bear River Casino, George Petersen Insurance Agency, Lodestone Pacific Holding Company Inc. (formerly Eureka Ready-Mix, Customer Truck Service and Eureka Truck Lines), The Sun Valley Group and United Indian Health Services as being in the second highest category.

The $1 million to $2 million range saw a variety of entities, including Hospice of Humboldt, the North Coast Co-op, Kokatat, O&M Industries, the Bear River Band of the Rohnerville Rancheria, the Humboldt State University Center Board of Directors, DANCO Builders and the Southern Humboldt Community Healthcare District.

Che-Ae Heights Casino and Blue Lake Casino were also recipients in the category, according to the data.

Familiar names in the $350,000 to $1 million range include Holly Yashi, Eureka Ace Hardware, Eureka Natural Foods, Cloney’s Pharmacy Inc., Ramone’s Bakeries Inc. as well as the Harvey M Harper Co.

Several nonprofits serving a wide-range of clients also benefited in a number of the loan categories, such as the Humboldt County Senior Resource Center, the Humboldt Area Foundation, the Area 1 Agency on Aging, Food for People and the Redwood Community Action Agency.

The category of $150,000 to $300,000 was the largest and most diverse locally of the loans disclosed, with restaurants, veterinary clinics, stores, auto repair shops and media organizations, including the North Coast Journal and Lost Coast Communications, among the recipients.

While not identified, around 14,000 other Humboldt County businesses and nonprofits received loans under the $150,000 threshold and those entities reported retaining more than 20,000 jobs.

The initial roll-out of the program faced criticism over the number of large corporations that received loans ostensibly meant to protect the small businesses that are the backbone of local communities. Amid the backlash, changes were made to the program aimed to better benefit smaller operations and the application date has been extended to Aug. 8.

The Small Business Administration's full Paycheck Protection Program data can be found here.

Editor's note: This post was updated to clarify some information.
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Monday, July 6, 2020

County Organizations to Invest $120,000 in Child Care Capacity During the Pandemic

Posted By on Mon, Jul 6, 2020 at 1:51 PM

A child snuggles into her reading corner during child care. - PHOTO BY CAROL HARRISON
  • Photo by Carol Harrison
  • A child snuggles into her reading corner during child care.

Humboldt County Children and Families Commission and Humboldt Area Foundation are investing $120,000 to increase childcare capacity in the county during the pandemic, according to a joint press release issued by the organizations.

Eligible childcare facilities may receive between $500 and $750 toward reopening or remaining open, the press release states. Applications are available at www.first5humboldt.org and will be accepted through Oct. 15.

For more information, read the press release below.




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Humboldt County’s 'Cannabis Planning Program' Lacks Fiscal Transparency, Grand Jury Reports

Posted By on Mon, Jul 6, 2020 at 1:23 PM

SHUTTERSTOCK
  • Shutterstock
Four years after recreational cannabis was legalized in California, the Humboldt County Civil Grand Jury has a released report entitled "A Growing Concern." The report focuses on the Planning and Building Department's record keeping and cash handling procedures for the cannabis industry. 

"There is a notable lack of in-depth reporting of revenues and expenditures that would accurately show the citizens of Humboldt County the effectiveness and the operational and fiscal efficiency of the Cannabis Planning program," the report states.

Part of the problem, according to the report, is that cannabis remains a Schedule 1 substance under federal law, meaning banks will not allow cannabis cultivators to open accounts or establish lines of credit. As a result, permit fees and abatement fines collected by the county are often paid in cash.

"The Planning and Building Department assumes the risk inherent in the storage and handling of large sums of cash," the report states, requiring "a highly transparent, very accurate system of accounting."

The report concludes with the recommendation that the Planning and Building Department take the following actions: Update the website to reflect changes in regulations and offer relevant information regarding permit applications; undergo an audit by the Auditor/Controller of all incoming receipts, and make the results public; hire a qualified accountant to organize and maintain financial records; and direct customers who pay in cash through the Treasurer-Tax Collector's office.

The report can be read in its entirety below. 
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Saturday, July 4, 2020

CR Offering Frontline Workers De-escalation, Assertiveness Training

Posted By on Sat, Jul 4, 2020 at 2:00 PM

cr.jpg
Many in the customer service industry and public sector jobs are bearing the brunt of resentment — and too often outright hostility — toward COVID-19 health and safety protocols meant to protect workers and the public as Humboldt County teeters on the precipice of becoming yet another California hotspot.

To help employees and business owners navigate these tempestuous waters, College of the Redwoods is offering free online classes in “awareness, de-escalation and assertiveness skills” from mid-July to Aug. 1.

(Read more about the challenges restaurants are facing in this week’s story “Restaurant Mask Drama,” in which owners and servers talk about the toll being argued with and cussed at on a daily basis is taking on them.)

To register for the classes, call CR’s Workforce and Community Education Program at 476-4500 or go to https://www.redwoods.edu/communityed/online. Space is limited.

Read the College of the Redwoods release below:

College of the Redwoods is offering free online trainings on awareness, de-escalation, and assertiveness skills for workers interacting with the public.

Trainings will be offered through CR’s Workforce and Community Education Program from the middle of July through August 1 and are being paid for by CR’s Foundation.

“We were approached by Susan Seaman, the Mayor of Eureka, about the need for de-escalation trainings and this was echoed by community leaders on the COVID Economic Resilience Committee (CERC) weekly calls, being hosted by the North Coast Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and the Redwood Region Economic Development Commission (RREDC),” said Marty Coelho, Executive Director of College Advancement and the CR Foundation.

“A large number of our businesses and organizations have a plan for all sorts of situations but we don’t plan to routinely deal with angry customers when things can get out of control. This collaborative effort between the CR’s Foundation and Community Education will provide clients with strategies for resolving those situations. It’s also another example of how CR is responding to the needs of our community,” said Keith Flamer, President of College of the Redwoods.

Susan Seaman, City of Eureka’s Mayor said, "With growing economic stress, political divisiveness, and so few answers about what to expect in the near future, people's nerves are frayed. We have heard time and again about customers taking it out on service providers. I'm so grateful that College of the Redwoods Foundation recognized that de-escalation and assertiveness training can be a valuable tool for employees to help them navigate this uncertain road."

CR’s free Awareness, De-Escalation & Assertiveness online trainings will be offered to the following industry groups: retail workers on Saturday, July 18 from 8:30 – 11 am; hospitality workers on Saturday, July 18 from 2 – 4:30 pm; grocery workers on Thursday, July 23 from 8:30 – 11 am; city/county frontline workers on Thursday, July 23 from 2 – 4:30 pm; and child care workers on Saturday, August 1 from 8:30 -11 am.

“We can train up to 25 workers for each industry group. Normally the class would cost at least $35 per person, but the CR Foundation will cover the $4,375 in fees for these classes,” said Coelho.

CR’s Workforce and Community Education Program partners with the community to contribute to the economic vitality of the region, provides workforce training to support local employers' needs, and provides lifelong learning opportunities within the Redwoods Community College District.

“The Workforce and Community Education Program is a valuable local asset. CR offers high quality trainings that can be quickly responsive to community needs, “ said Danny Kelley, Foundation board member and CR Board of Trustee’s Vice-President.

To register for CR’s free online trainings for Awareness, De-Escalation & Assertiveness, call CR’s Workforce and Community Education Program at 707-476-4500 or go to https://www.redwoods.edu/communityed/online. Space is limited.
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Never Turn Your Back: Sneaker Waves Possible this Weekend

Posted By on Sat, Jul 4, 2020 at 12:42 PM

sneaker_wave_warning.png
The Eureka office of the National Weather Service warns there is a slight to moderate threat of sneaker waves this holiday that continues through Sunday evening.

A long-period southernly swell is bringing the risk, which is more acute at steep beaches but larger waves may also wash over jetties and rock outcroppings that would normally remain dry, according to the beach hazard statement.

Read the NWS hazard statement below:
* WHAT...
A long period southerly swell will bring a threat of sneaker waves to area beaches.

* WHERE...
Coastal Del Norte, Northern Humboldt Coast, Southwestern Humboldt and Mendocino Coast Counties.

* WHEN...
Through Sunday evening.

* IMPACTS...
Potential sneaker waves may create locally hazardous conditions at area beaches. Steep beaches will have a higher risk of sneaker wave activity with greater wave run-up onto beaches. Large waves will also wash over jetties and rock outcroppings that normally stay dry.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...
Caution should be used when in or near the water. Stay a safe distance from the water along beaches, rocks, jetties, piers, and other waterside infrastructure. Remain out of the water to avoid hazardous swimming conditions. Never turn you back to the ocean. A slight to moderate threat of sneaker waves will be possible along south-southwest facing beaches through Sunday evening. Steep beaches will have the highest risk of sneaker wave activity. Remember to never turn your back on the ocean.
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