Government

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

With Foundation Report Still Outstanding, Another Justice for Josiah Vigil Planned for Today

Posted By on Wed, Jan 15, 2020 at 3:40 PM

Despite continuous inquiries from news outlets and community members at city council meetings, the city of Arcata still has't received the $30,000 National Police Foundation review of the city's emergency response to David Josiah Lawson’s fatal stabbing on April 15, 2017, and officials still “don’t have a firm timeline” of when the report will reach their desks.

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rcata City Manager Karen Diemer said the foundation is working on fact checking and “final crafting of the language of the report,” adding that the foundation calls the city every other week to confirm specific information.

“I have trust in the police foundation’s accuracy of the report,” Diemer said. "My assessment is that [the foundation] is doing one more pass through [the report], and I do expect the report this year, hopefully in the first half rather than the second.”

In the early morning of April 15, 2017, Lawson was fatally stabbed at an off-campus party after multiple fights broke out over a lost cell phone. A suspect, Kyle Zoellner, of McKinleyville, was arrested at the scene and charged with the Lawson’s murder. However, a Humboldt County Superior Court judge later dismissed the charges saying there was insufficient evidence to hold Zoellner to stand trial. Last March, a criminal grand jury assembled to review evidence in the case decided not to indict Zoellner or anyone else anyone in Lawson’s killing, sending the case was back at the Arcata Police Department for further investigation.

In a Sept. 10, 2018 memo detailing what the city hoped to get out of the National Police Foundation review, then-Mayor Sofia Pereira and Diemer stated the nonprofit will "review the police department's response to make recommendations for improving major criminal events, including response to, and investigation of, catastrophic, multiple-victim and/or multiple-witness incidents in the future.”

Diemer also said that she expects the report to look analytically at what the city can do better in its emergency responses and how it can follow the best protocols moving forward.

“This was a case of lessons learned,” she said, anticipating some of the contents of the report. “We’re expecting it to be critical in regard to the city’s response of that night.”

In the meantime, the Justice for Josiah committee continues to hold monthly vigils observing the anniversary of Lawson’s death and to remind the community his killing remains unsolved. The 33rd such vigil will be held at Arcata City Hall today at 5:30 p.m..

Charmaine Lawson, Lawson’s mother, continues to visit Humboldt County regularly, vowing to find both justice for her son and answers as to what went wrong the night he was killed.

“Happy Justice Year to all!” reads a Justice for Josiah Facebook post. “I will not stop coming to Humboldt County until justice is served for my son.”
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Governor Looks to Get CA into the Rx Business

Posted By on Wed, Jan 15, 2020 at 8:51 AM

In a bold strategy to drive down prescription drug prices, Gov. Gavin Newsom is proposing that California become the first state in the nation to establish its own generic drug label, making those medications available at an affordable price to the state’s 40 million residents.

The proposal, part of the new state budget Newsom sent to the Legislature on Friday, would authorize the state to negotiate contracts with drugmakers to manufacture selected prescriptions on behalf of California. Such a disruption of the pharmaceutical industry, proponents say, would leverage the state’s massive market to increase competition and lower generic drug prices nationally.
CALMATTERS
  • CalMatters
The strategy is one of several the Democratic governor's plans aimed to lower the cost of healthcare for Californians. The administration indicated the proposal is part of a multi-prong effort that includes strengthening the state’s public option for health insurance and increasing drug pricing transparency.

Newsom will also continue last year’s push to establish a single market for drug pricing, direct the state to ask for more rebates from drug manufacturers and open a new health care affordability office sometime this spring.

“The cost of health care is just too damn high, and California is fighting back,” Newsom said in a statement. “These nation-leading reforms seek to put consumers back in the driver seat and lower health care costs for every Californian.”


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Thursday, January 9, 2020

NWS is Looking for Snow Reports

Posted By on Thu, Jan 9, 2020 at 3:46 PM

New snow accumulations ranged from 2 to 4 inches. - COUNTY OF HUMBOLDT
  • County of Humboldt
  • New snow accumulations ranged from 2 to 4 inches.
The county of Humboldt is reminding travelers that there’s snow up in the mountains, including 4 inches of new snow on Titlow Hill Road — which is open to the towers — and 2 inches of new snow on Bald Hills Road.

Drivers are being advised to carry chains.

Meanwhile, the Eureka office of the National Weather Service is asking those up in the higher elevations that experienced flurries last night and into this morning to send in snow reports and pictures.
snow_report.jpg
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Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Eureka, There's a New City Manager in Town

Posted By on Tue, Jan 7, 2020 at 3:31 PM

Dean Lotter - NEWBRIGHTONMN.GOV
  • newbrightonmn.gov
  • Dean Lotter
Dean Lotter will be sworn in tonight as Eureka’s new city manager, the latest in a series of milestones for him in recent weeks, including moving into a new home here in town with his wife Wendy and their rescue dog Queso, as well as celebrating his 50th birthday.

Hailing from the Midwest, Lotter comes with 23 years of city management experience, last serving in New Brighton, a suburb of the Twin Cities.

In an interview before landing permanently in Eureka, Lotter told the Journal he is not "naïve" to the many issues facing the city but also sees great potential in the seaside town.

“I wouldn't invest the later portion of my career in a city I didn't feel had opportunity," Lotter said.

Read the full story here.

The 6 p.m. Eureka City Council meeting takes place at City Hall, 531 K St. Click here for a link to the agenda.
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Saturday, January 4, 2020

No War With Iran Protest (Photos)

Posted By on Sat, Jan 4, 2020 at 11:41 AM

A couple dozen people turned up at the Humboldt County Courthouse on Friday evening, most carrying signs, for a hastily planned protest of the prospect of a U.S. war with Iran.

The protest followed the Jan. 2 U.S. drone strike in Iraq that killed Qasem Soleimani, an Iranian major general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and commander of Iran's clandestine Quds Force. Both widely revered and feared within the region, Soleimani has been a major force in conflicts across Iraq, Lebanon and Syria, and polls have shown him to be Iran's most popular political figure. He's also regarded by the United States as the head of a terrorist organization, one blamed for the deaths of a host of U.S. troops in multiple conflicts, including by flooding Iraq with improvised explosive devices in the mid 2000s. (Read a stunning profile of Soleimani by the renowned Dexter Filkins here.)
Protesters warn against war with Iran. - PHOTO BY ZACH LATHOURIS
  • Photo by Zach Lathouris
  • Protesters warn against war with Iran.
While few in the United States are arguing Soleimani was not a serious threat to U.S. lives and interests, some fear his killing will escalate tensions between the U.S. and Iran and put additional American lives at risk. As evidenced by yesterday's protest, some fear another full-blown war.

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Friday, January 3, 2020

The Biggest Wave and Bomb Cyclone: A Record-Breaking Year of Wild Weather

Posted By on Fri, Jan 3, 2020 at 3:57 PM

Looking back at 2019 from a weather standpoint, things were a bit on the wild side at times. So, the Journal reached out to climate specialist Matthew Kidwell in the Eureka office of the National Weather Service, who compiled what he saw as the most notable weather incidents to take place last year.

Along with those events, 2019 hit a record for breaking records, with 18 total set, according to Kidwell, that included 11 high temps and seven minimum temps.

The closest other years were 2004 and 2014, which saw 10 and nine record highs, respectively. But 2013 edged out 2019 to stay in the lead for most minimum records at 10.

Damaging Waves in Shelter Cove: On Jan. 17, waves upward of 30 feet crashed into eight homes on Lower Pacific Drive in Shelter Cove causing extensive damage, included flooding, mud covered floors, broken windows and ruined furniture.

Cheryl Antony, spokesperson for Shelter Cove Fire, told Redheaded Blackbelt at the time that one of the homes had approximately 10 broken windows and some had up to 4 inches of water inside.
A member of Shelter Cove Fire inspects the damage including water on the floor of this custom-built home. - CHERYL ANTONY OF SHELTER COVE FIRE
  • Cheryl Antony of Shelter Cove Fire
  • A member of Shelter Cove Fire inspects the damage including water on the floor of this custom-built home.
“We had to put life jackets on to walk around [to assess damage],” Antony said. “We have never seen waves like this before. One came over the whole deck we were standing on. We had to run.”


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Friday, December 27, 2019

Buzzkill on Roadkill: New Law Doesn't Allow for Collecting Killed Game, Yet

Posted By on Fri, Dec 27, 2019 at 12:50 PM

Remember all the buzz about Senate Bill 395 giving folks the chance to take home a side of roadkill and whip up a dinner? Well, that’s not quite how it works, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

In a recent release, the department notes that while the law was “enacted with the intent to eventually make available for utilization the roadkill meat of deer, elk, pronghorn antelope or wild pig,” there are still some more steps to bring that to fruition and it is “still illegal to collect or possess roadkill animals and violators could face citation, even after Jan. 1, 2020.”

Blacktail deer. Photo courtesy of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wilflife.
  • Blacktail deer. Photo courtesy of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wilflife.
What the law did was authorize the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Commission to adopt regulations for a program that would allow for the utilization of game animals found on a road or highway. That would take place “in consultation” with the California Department of Transportation, California Highway Patrol and the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.

"Many Californians think it will be legal to possess and utilize roadkill on Jan. 1, which is the technical effective date of the Wildlife Traffic Safety Act, but that's not the case," said David Bess, CDFW deputy director and chief of the Law Enforcement Division. "There is no collection or utilization program in place. We are trying to avoid any confusion by misinformed citizens who think it is lawful to collect roadkill animals."

Read the full CDWF release below:


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Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Trump Impeached by House (With Video of Huffman's Floor Speech)

Posted By on Wed, Dec 18, 2019 at 7:00 PM

North Coast Congressman Jared Huffman joined a majority of his colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives in voting to impeach President Donald Trump today, making him the third president in the nation’s history to face forced removal from office.

Jared Huffman. - CONGRESS
  • Congress
  • Jared Huffman.
Today’s vote means Trump will now face a trial in the Senate on two articles of impeachment, one for abusing the power of his office and another for obstructing Congress. The first charge stems from Trump’s alleged plot to leverage $391 in Congressionally approved security aid and the promise of a White House visit to pressure the new president of Ukraine, which is at war with Russia, to announce an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden (then the Democratic frontrunner for 2020) and unfounded allegations that it was Ukraine, and not Russia, that interfered in the 2016 election. The second charge stems from the administration’s refusal to reply with Congressional subpoenas by ordering witnesses not to testify in the House impeachment inquiry and not to respond to subpoenas seeking a swath of documents.

Republicans have decried Democrats' impeachment inquiry as a partisan process with a predetermined outcome. And while they largely don't dispute that the president exerted pressure on Ukraine they argue he didn't do anything improper, as aide was ultimately released without the announcement of any investigations.

Prior to the historic vote, which fell almost entirely along party lines, each representative was given one minute on the floor to address the issue. Huffman, who has been a strident, vocal and longstanding advocate of impeachment, said today’s vote will be judged by future generations.

“Historians will study what members of this Congress did when our democracy was tested like never before by a president who put personal interests above country; who compromised national security to cheat his way to re-election; and when caught, not only lied and refused to admit wrongdoing, but flouted Congress’ authority,” Huffman said. “He even called the Constitutional impeachment mechanism ‘unconstitutional.’

“Historians will marvel how some members continued to stand by this man; how they put blind partisan loyalty – or fear of Donald Trump – above their duty to defend the Constitution; how they made absurd partisan arguments and tried to obstruct these proceedings; and how, instead of pushing back when their party fell under a dark spell of authoritarianism, they embraced it – as if the Constitution, the rule of law, and our oath of office mean nothing.

“So, Madam Speaker, for our future generations, our children, and the judgment of history, let me be clear:  I stand with our Constitution, with the rule of law and our democracy. I’ll be voting ‘yes’ to impeach Donald J. Trump.”

After the floor speech, Huffman told the Journal it was his “best attempt to explain” to constituents why he’s supporting this “extraordinary step.” Describing the tone on the House floor as very solemn, Huffman invoked the words of Thomas Paine, saying, “The times have found us,” adding, “I think that’s exactly where we find ourselves right now.”

Huffman’s predecessor Representative Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena), who represented the North Coast for 14 years before redistricting changed the district boundaries and has been much more restrained on the subject of impeachment, also offered a floor speech this afternoon. Thompson used his minute at the dais to stress that he sees this as a national security issue.

“As a combat veteran and having served eight years on the intelligence committee, I understand the threat that foreign actors can play in our elections,” Thompson said. “It was abuse of power by the president to ask a foreign nation to interfere in our election to benefit his personal and political interest, and to condition bipartisan Congressionally approved aid on that interference. Unchecked, these acts could lead us down a path that will unravel the fabric of our nation. I’m sadden we’re here today but in the interest of defending our nation, I will vote for the articles of impeachment.”

See text and video of the full floor speeches from both representatives below.

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Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Why the Supes Denied Terra-Gen's Wind Project, Despite a Series of 11th Hour Concessions from the Company

Posted By and on Tue, Dec 17, 2019 at 8:27 PM

With Humboldt County supervisors Rex Bohn and Virginia Bass having indicated they would support controversial plans to erect a wind farm on Monument and Bear River ridges south of Rio Dell, and supervisors Steve Madrone and Estelle Fennell having indicated they would not, Supervisor Mike Wilson was left as the swing vote.

Obviously deeply conflicted at the end of a marathon 16-hour meeting spread over two days that were punctuated by emotional testimony and the occasional outburst, Wilson was still clearly trying to get to yes. Torn between the realities of the climate crisis and a project that promised to deliver 56 percent of Humboldt County’s electricity load from 47 wind turbines — but planned to do so by placing 20 of them on Bear River Ridge, desecrating a sacred ancestral prayer site of the Wiyot Tribe known as Tsakiyuwit — Wilson first asked if the project would be viable if moved entirely to Monument Ridge.
Project Site Boundaries and Surrounding Land - SOURCE: HUMBOLDTGOV.ORG
Randy Hoyle, senior vice president and chief development officer of Terra-Gen, the company proposing the project, replied that the company had already crunched the numbers on that alternative and it wasn’t feasible.

“I understand the extreme sensitivity of this but, from a commercial standpoint, remove the turbines from Bear River Ridge and this project will not be built,” he said.

Wilson said that was the sticking point for him. He wanted to support the project but couldn’t do so if it meant adding to the generational trauma suffered by Wiyot tribal members, whose ancestors had been victims of an attempted genocide, by forever altering a “culturally important” landscape.

“From my perspective, this is a heavy and horrible place to be at this moment,” Wilson said, lamenting that the Wiyot Tribe had brought up the sacred nature of the site months ago when commenting on the project’s environmental impact report, yet apparently little had been done to bring them to the table to find a workable solution. Now, as he flailed to find one, the tribe didn’t have a seat the table. “It’s somewhat patronizing that we’re having this conversation without the impacted peoples — I apologize for that. This is terrible. I’m crying. Seriously.”

Hoyle then responded, saying he’d felt the “sensitivity of the issue,” as well, floating a potential solution. He said the projected local sales and property tax revenues from the project — a total of $9.8 million over the span of its 30-year lease that many considered one of the project’s more tantalizing carrots from the county’s perspective — could be redirected to “certain affected people” at the board’s discretion.

“I think along with that … we are willing to put aside and fund an endowment, and we’ll call it a community endowment, prior to the start of construction for the board to distribute at its full discretion,” Hoyle said, adding that the company was then and there pledging $1 million to go into the endowment to be dispersed as the board sees fit. “That is something the applicant is willing to consider.”

Seemingly a bit surprised at what he’d just heard, Bohn, the board chair, mused that he knows “sacred sites are not for sale” and called Wiyot Tribal elder Cheryl Seidner to the podium to offer a response on behalf of the tribe.
“There’s not enough money to do that,” Seidner said, addressing her comments directly to Terra-Gen’s representatives. “You would not sell your mother, we cannot sell our earth. And I don’t mean to be disrespectful. You don’t know where Indigenous peoples come from. We come from here. We come from the earth.”


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Divided Board Votes Down Wind Project

Posted By on Tue, Dec 17, 2019 at 3:42 PM

Clearly conflicted individually and collectively, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to reject controversial plans to build a wind farm project on Monument and Bear River ridges south of Rio Dell.

The vote, which saw supervisors Virginia Bass and Rex Bohn support the project and the balance of the board reject it, came at the conclusion of a more than 16-hour meeting spread over two days that included public comment from hundreds of residents.

A short round of applause followed the vote.

Project Site Boundaries and Surrounding Land - SOURCE: HUMBOLDTGOV.ORG

The project, which would have seen 47 600-foot-high wind turbines placed on Bear River and Monument ridges south of Rio Dell and Scotia, was projected to provide enough electricity to supply 56 percent of Humboldt County’s demand. Proponents argued that not only was the project a necessary step to combat the global climate crisis, but it would also be an economic boon to the area, creating 300 construction jobs and 15 permanent positions, while generating millions of dollars in property tax revenue for the county over its 30-year life.

Opponents, meanwhile, argued the project was little more than a green-washed money grab that would harm local bird populations, clear-cut miles of forest, damage a biologically diverse coastal prairie and desecrate a sacred Wiyot prayer site.

The project was officially opposed by the city of Rio Dell, the town of Scotia, the Wiyot Tribe and the Yurok Tribe. It was endorsed by the city of Eureka, the Humboldt Del Norte Building and Construction Trades union and the county planning department, which recommended the board find there were overriding concerns present that trumped the unmitigable environmental impacts that would accompany the project.

After the 3-2 vote described above, staff told the board a passing vote was needed to make the denial official, so a motion was made to flatly reject the project. It passed 4-1, with Bass having joined the majority. She offered no explanation for the shift in position.

Check back for a full report on the marathon meeting.
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