Government

Friday, July 19, 2024

Huffman Joins Colleagues in Calling for Biden to ‘Pass the Torch’

Posted By on Fri, Jul 19, 2024 at 12:54 PM

North Coast Rep. Jared Huffman joined a growing chorus of Democratic officials calling for President Joe Biden to step out of the race today, issuing a joint message with three of his congressional colleagues directly to the embattled candidate, stating it was time for him to “pass the torch to a new generation.”

Huffman has been raising concerns about Biden’s ability to defeat former President Donald Trump in recent weeks while also raising the alarm about Project 2025, the conservative roadmap designed for a new Trump presidency. (Read more in this week's cover story "Huffman Talks Project 2025" here.)

In a pre-recorded interview that ran on local radio station KZZH yesterday, he went as far as to endorse Vice President Kamala Harris as the Democrats' best chance for retaining the White House. But Huffman had previously stopped short of directly pressing for Biden to end his bid for a second term.

In a social media post accompanying the joint message, Huffman wrote, “Thomas Paine famously said, ‘the times have found us.' Winning this election is a moral, democratic & existential imperative.”

Huffman went on to state that with “that in mind, and with a firm belief we can turn this around & win,” he was releasing the message to Biden with fellow Representatives Marc Veasey of Texas, Chuy Garcia of Illinois and Mark Pocan of Wisconsin.

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Thursday, July 18, 2024

Huffman on Thursday Night Talk: Harris is Dems' Best Chance at Presidency

Posted By on Thu, Jul 18, 2024 at 3:53 PM

Jared Huffman. - CONGRESS
  • Congress
  • Jared Huffman.
In a pre-recorded conversation set to air tonight on Thursday Night Talk on KZZH, North Coast Congressmember Jared Huffman said he believes Vice President Kamala Harris would be Democrats' best presidential candidate in November.

While Huffman stops short of saying President Joe Biden should bow out of the race, he makes clear his belief that Democrats have a "very serious problem," describing Biden's polling as "terrible" and saying it's "gotten a lot worse since the disastrous debate performance."

"My hope is that in a matter of a few short days we should be able to resolve the issue of who's at the top of the ticket, or at least whether President Biden is at the top of the ticket," Huffman says.

Huffman says he sees Harris as the most likely replacement candidate, should Biden step aside.

"I think there's a path to Democrats winning," he says. "I personally think the best path would be with Kamala Harris at the top of the ticket, and then someone like maybe Gov. [Josh] Shapiro from Pennsylvania."

Host Talvi Fried then refers to Huffman's comments as an "unofficial endorsement."

"You can make it official," he responds.

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Wednesday, July 10, 2024

California Approves New Blueprint for Offshore Wind. The Massive Projects Will Cost Billions

Posted By on Wed, Jul 10, 2024 at 12:45 PM

Fishing boats are docked in Humboldt Bay in Eureka. Ocean waters 20 miles off this coast have been leased to energy companies for offshore wind platforms. - PHOTO BY LARRY VALENZUELA, CALMATTERS/CATCHLIGHT LOCAL
  • Photo by Larry Valenzuela, CalMatters/CatchLight Local
  • Fishing boats are docked in Humboldt Bay in Eureka. Ocean waters 20 miles off this coast have been leased to energy companies for offshore wind platforms.
The California Energy Commission today unanimously approved a sweeping plan to develop a massive floating offshore wind industry in ocean waters — a first-of-its-kind undertaking that will require billions in public and private investments and could transform parts of the coast.

The new state plan sets the path for harnessing wind power from hundreds of giant turbines, each as tall as a 70-story building, floating in the ocean about 20 miles off Humboldt Bay and Morro Bay. The untapped energy is expected to become a major power source as California electrifies vehicles and switches to clean energy.

California’s wind farms represent a giant experiment: No other place in the world has floating wind operations in such deep waters — more than a half-mile deep — so far from shore.

The commission’s vote today came after representatives of various industries, environmentalists, community leaders and others mostly expressed support for offshore wind, although some voiced concerns.

State and federal officials use the word “urgency” to describe the frenetic pace needed to lay the groundwork for development of five areas that the federal government has leased to offshore wind companies.

“I feel the urgency to move forward swiftly,’ said energy commissioner Patty Monahan. “The climate crisis is upon us. Offshore wind is a real opportunity for us to move forward with clean energy.”

She added, though, that the plan “is a starting point…There are a lot of uncertainties about environmental impacts. We need to be clear-eyed and engage the right scientific interests and move carefully.”

The five energy companies are now assessing sites within the 583 square miles, which is expected to take five years. That will be followed by about two years of design, construction and environmental and technical reviews.



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Friday, June 28, 2024

Supreme Court Gives Cities in California and Beyond More Power to Crack Down on Homeless Camps

Posted By on Fri, Jun 28, 2024 at 3:26 PM

Tents outside the First Street U.S. Courthouse in Los Angeles, where homeless advocates and supporters rallied as the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., heard oral arguments in the Grants Pass case, on April 22, 2024. - PHOTO BY TED SOQUI FOR CALMATTERS
  • Photo by Ted Soqui for CalMatters
  • Tents outside the First Street U.S. Courthouse in Los Angeles, where homeless advocates and supporters rallied as the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., heard oral arguments in the Grants Pass case, on April 22, 2024.
The U.S. Supreme Court today granted cities more power to arrest, cite and fine people who sleep outside in public places — overturning six years of legal protections for homeless residents in California and other western states.

In Grants Pass v. Johnson, the court sided with Grants Pass in a 6-3 decision — ruling an ordinance passed by the Oregon city that essentially made it illegal for homeless residents to camp on all public property was not unconstitutional.

The much-anticipated decision overturns a prior influential Ninth Circuit appellate ruling, and means cities no longer are prohibited from punishing unhoused residents for camping if they have nowhere else to go. It will have major ramifications for how California leaders and law enforcement handle homeless encampments.

(Read more about the potential implications for Humboldt's homeless policies here.)

Activists supporting the civil rights of unhoused people decried the ruling, saying it could result in people getting arrested simply for being homeless.

“It will make homelessness worse, in California and Grants pass and across the country,” said Jesse Rabinowitz, spokesperson for the National Homelessness Law Center. “We know that throwing people in jail and giving them thousands of dollars in tickets makes it harder for them to find jobs, harder for them to find housing and harder for them to exit homelessness.”

But groups representing cities, counties, law enforcement organizations and business interests cheered the decision, saying it would finally allow for the removal of unsafe, unsanitary encampments. Even Gov. Gavin Newsom weighed in, filing a “friend of the court” brief in which he wrote: “Hindering cities’ efforts to help their unhoused populations is as inhumane as it is unworkable.”



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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Newsom: Dark Forces Are Threatening California

Posted By on Tue, Jun 25, 2024 at 5:57 PM

Gov. Gavin Newsom delivers a pre-recorded State of the State address via YouTube on June 25, 2024. - MIGUEL GUTIERREZ JR., CALMATTERS
  • Miguel Gutierrez Jr., CalMatters
  • Gov. Gavin Newsom delivers a pre-recorded State of the State address via YouTube on June 25, 2024.
Months of speculation and complaints about when, or even if, Gov. Gavin Newsom would give his annual State of the State address ended this morning with more of a whimper than a bang.

At a few minutes past 10 a.m., Newsom posted a pre-recorded speech to his social media channels. Flanked by American and California flags, the Democratic governor solemnly warned that “the California way of life is under attack” by forces threatened by the state’s diversity, pluralism and innovative spirit.

“Our values and our way of life are the antidote to the poisonous populism of the right, and to the fear and anxiety that so many people are feeling today,” Newsom said. “For conservatives and delusional California bashers, their success depends on our failure.”

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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Caltrans Selects Tunnel Option for Last Chance Grade

Posted By on Tue, Jun 18, 2024 at 2:44 PM

Last Chance Grade. - CALTRANS
  • Caltrans
  • Last Chance Grade.
A resolution to the landslide issues that have plagued the narrow stretch of U.S. Highway 101 in Del Norte County known as Last Chance Grade is inching closer to reality.

In a decision years in the making, Caltrans recently announced the agency will pursue what’s been called Alternative F, which entails realigning the highway and constructing a mile-long tunnel to sidestep the problem area.

"After many generations of Del Norte County citizens traversing this fabled, continuously failing section of our state highway system, we have reached the conclusion to construct a tunnel with broad agreement among regional stakeholders,” Del Norte County Supervisor Chris Howard in a news release. “Del Norte County is grateful to our community, tribal, environmental and agency partners that have dedicated many years to finding a path forward."
The map shows Alternative F, which will take U.S. Highway 101 inland just before Last Chance Grade, and Alternative X, which would have kept the current route and continued work to stabilize the geographically challenged area. - CALTRANS
  • Caltrans
  • The map shows Alternative F, which will take U.S. Highway 101 inland just before Last Chance Grade, and Alternative X, which would have kept the current route and continued work to stabilize the geographically challenged area.
The other option on the table — narrowed down from an original six, each with their own set of complicating factors — was continuing efforts to stabilize the 3-mile-long section of highway, an endeavor that has cost tens of millions in recent decades to maintain the vital artery that connects California's northernmost reaches to the rest of the state.

A catastrophic failure on the cliffside route that has seen regular closures for as long as it's been open could leave businesses in Humboldt and Del Norte cut off from their suppliers and customers, children separated from their schools and sever the only viable link between Del Norte County's southern residents and their seat of government.

The only other option is a 320-mile, seven-hour detour via U.S. Highway 199 to Interstate 5 to State Route 299.

Even with that milestone of selecting an alternative reached after extensive reviews and the collaborative effort of tribes, environmental groups, lawmakers and other stakeholders, the road ahead remains long.

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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Grand Jury Blasts Eureka Schools' for Lack of Transparency, Due Diligence in Jacobs Deal

Posted By on Wed, Jun 12, 2024 at 3:30 PM

Eureka City Schools' main office. - FILE
  • File
  • Eureka City Schools' main office.
After investigating Eureka City Schools’ decision to offload its former Jacobs Middle School site in a property exchange agreement with a mystery developer, the Humboldt County Civil Grand Jury has issued a report criticizing the district for a lack of transparency and due diligence.

“The Humboldt County Civil Grand Jury concludes that the Eureka City Schools Trustees acted hastily and without sufficient due diligence,” the report states, adding that while the district appears to have complied with the “technical requirements” of California’s open meeting laws, it violated “the law’s general intent for public participation and transparency in decision-making.”

In investigating the Dec. 14 property exchange agreement between Eureka City Schools and AMG Communities-Jacobs, LLC, in which the district agreed to transfer more than 8 acres of the Jacobs site to the mystery developer in exchange for a residential property on I Street and $5.35 million in cash, the grand jury says it interviewed district officials and advisors, reviewed meeting agendas and minutes, as well as media reports, and consulted with an expert in California open meeting laws.


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Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Eureka Schools Amends Property Exchange Agreement, Sets Escrow Deadline

Posted By on Tue, Jun 4, 2024 at 2:54 PM

Eureka City Schools has entered into an amended property exchange agreement with a mystery developer looking to acquire its old Jacobs Middle School site that stipulates the parties should close escrow on the deal on or before July 11.

Meanwhile, the California Highway Patrol seems to be back at the negotiating table for the old campus it had hoped to purchase and turn into its Northern Humboldt headquarters until the district, seemingly out of nowhere, entered into an exchange agreement with a newly formed company — AMG Communities-Jacobs, LLC — on Dec. 14.

CHP had not been included as an identified negotiating party in closed session agenda items regarding the Jacobs campus in the months immediately following the district board’s decision to exchange 8.35 acres of the Allard Avenue property for a small, residential property on I Street and a $5.35 million cash payment. But the district then resumed listing CHP as a negotiating party in April.

Superintendent Gary Storts said the district continues to work toward closing the exchange with AMG but the district remains in contact with CHP because it “has continued to express interest in the property.”


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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Judge Kreis 'Censured and Barred' in Agreement to Close Ethics Case

Posted By on Tue, May 28, 2024 at 3:53 PM

Judge Greg Kreis
  • Judge Greg Kreis
Former Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Greg Kreis has resolved the ethics complaint lodged against him by the Commission on Judicial Performance, admitting to 17 charges that he violated the code of judicial ethics and agreeing to be publicly censured, resign his position and never seek judicial office again.

Kreis, whose campaign to retain the seat he was appointed to in 2017 was rocked by the commission’s case against him and was soundly defeated at the polls in March, declined to comment when reached by the Journal.

The stipulation resolving the ethics case, which was approved by a unanimous vote of the commission, sees Kreis admit to 68 specific allegations of misconduct, though not the most salacious ones in the complaint initially filed against him.

“Much of Judge Kreis’ misconduct relates to his failure to disclose his relationships with seven attorneys; his familiarity with individuals involved in matters before him; or the extent of his relationships with the individuals, in at least 44 cases over which he presided,” the stipulation states. “This type of misconduct is serious. The purpose of California’s statutory disclosure requirements is to ensure public confidence in the judiciary. A judge’s persistent failure to comply with these requirements reflects an unacceptable lack of concern about the public’s perception of the integrity and fairness of the judiciary.”

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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Cal Poly Readying to Turn Protest Police Reports Over to DA

Posted By on Tue, May 21, 2024 at 5:04 PM

Students and community members gather outside Siemens Hall amid a standoff between police and protesters occupying the building on April 22. - PHOTO BY ALEXANDER ANDERSON
  • Photo by Alexander Anderson
  • Students and community members gather outside Siemens Hall amid a standoff between police and protesters occupying the building on April 22.
Cal Poly Humboldt’s University Police Department is wrapping up its criminal investigation into the week-long occupation of Siemens Hall by pro-Palestine demonstrators and associated vandalism, and expects to turn the case over to prosecutors tomorrow, a university spokesperson tells the Journal.

At least 33 people were arrested in association with the demonstrations on campus that began April 22 and prompted administrators to shutter the campus, threatening students, faculty and staff who violated the “hard closure” order with citation or arrest. While those arrested were booked into jail on suspicion of trespassing, resisting arrest and unlawful assembly, all have since been released from custody and Humboldt County District Attorney Stacey Eads tells the Journal no charging decisions have yet been made, as she’s still awaiting investigative reports. Cal Poly Humboldt spokesperson Aileen Yoo says those will mostly likely be turned over to Eads’ office tomorrow.

At its May 7 meeting, the Cal Poly Humboldt University Senate voted overwhelmingly to pass a resolution calling on Eads not to prosecute the students and professor arrested during the protests.


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