Government

Friday, October 30, 2020

Preparing to Fall Back, Huffman Touts Daylight Saving Bill

Posted By on Fri, Oct 30, 2020 at 12:59 PM

Jared Huffman. - CONGRESS
  • Congress
  • Jared Huffman.
With Californians staring down the reality of moving their clocks back an hour at 2 a.m. Sunday, North Coast Representative Jared Huffman is touting a bill he's co-sponsoring that would allow states the option of staying on daylight savings time all year.

When the clocks fall back Sunday morning, we'll gain an hour of sleep but lose an hour of daylight. Huffman isn't too bullish on the tradeoff, and remains hopeful the bill he's co-sponsored with Rep. Bob Bishop (R-Utah) will get some traction before the end of the year.

“I don’t want to extend the year 2020 by a single minute, much less a full hour!” Huffman quipped on Twitter.

In 2018, California voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 7 to switch permanently over to daylight saving time but the measure needs to be ratified by a two-thirds vote in the state Senate, which hasn’t happened yet. And even if it did, California would simply join the ranks of a dozen states waiting for required Congressional approval to make the switch — that is, unless the bill co-sponsored by Huffman passes and is signed into law, giving states the right to choose for themselves how to set their clocks.

But for now, remember to set your clocks back an hour before going to sleep Saturday night.
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Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Worried it's Too Late to Send in Your Ballot? Don't Panic

Posted By on Wed, Oct 28, 2020 at 11:56 AM

FILE
  • File

Less than a week before Election Day and anxiety over the postal service’s ability to ferry voters’ ballots to county election administrators on time has ratcheted up yet again.

Back in May, the United States Postal Service’s top lawyer advised voters across the country to put their ballots in the mail no later than 7 days before Election Day “to account for delivery standards and to allow for contingencies.”

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling effectively barring election administrators in Wisconsin from counting mail-in ballots that are postmarked before the polls close but which don’t arrive until after Election Day. Democrats and liberal court watchers were particularly alarmed by the opinion penned by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, which seemed to reflect the justice’s ambivalence about the practice of accepting ballots after the polls close. “States want to avoid the chaos and suspicions of impropriety that can ensue if thousands of absentee ballots flow in after election day and potentially flip the results of an election,” Kavanaugh wrote. It’s almost as if he were writing about California.

But election administrators and legal experts have a message for voters here: 

Breathe.

First, about that warning from the postal service: California is different.

This summer, state legislators passed a law giving any ballot postmarked before the polls close up to 17 days to wend its way from a voter’s mailbox to county administrators. The law was meant to ensure that even the most catastrophic of postal snafus wouldn’t disenfranchise mail-in voters.

The Postal Service’s warning is “what you get when other agencies try to do your job for you,” said Santa Cruz County Registrar Gail Pellerin. With California’s 17-day window for incoming ballots, voting by mail ought to be a safe option at least until the coming weekend, she said. If voters want to be extra cautious, they can take their ballot directly into a post office: “Walk it in and get it postmarked.” Or deposit it in a county-managed drop box or at a vote center.

(For more information on voting in Humboldt County, including where to find a drop box or vote center, click here. Want to check the status of your ballot? Click here. According to the state, 33,230 of Humboldt’s mail-in ballots have been accepted by the Elections Office as of Oct. 26. A total of 86,385 were sent out.)

Second, about that Kavanaugh opinion: again, California is different.

As UC Irvine law professor Rick Hasen wrote in the Washington Post, the linchpin of Kavanaugh’s opinion wasn’t his antipathy to counting ballots after November 3. It was an argument about judicial overreach and which branch and level of government has the power to set election rules.

Here’s the chain of events that led up to this opinion: Wisconsin state law, passed by its legislature, requires all ballots to be in by the end of Election Day. In September, a federal judge ruled that, in light of the pandemic, counties should ease up those restrictions and allow otherwise valid ballots to be counted six days after the fact. The Supreme Court reversed that ruling.

From Kavanaugh’s opinion:

“Assessing the complicated tradeoffs involved in changing or retaining election deadlines…is primarily the responsibility of state legislatures and falls outside the competence of federal courts.”

That reading of the constitution, Hasen writes, gives state legislatures “almost absolute power to set the manner for conducting presidential and congressional elections.”

Fortunately for fans of California’s 17-day election rule, it was penned by the Legislature. In an email, Hasen said that he does not “anticipate any issues along this line” in California.

Via the Post It, CalMatters political reporter Ben Christopher shares frequent updates from the (socially distanced) 2020 campaign trail. North Coast Journal digital editor Kimberly Wear contributed to this report.
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Monday, October 26, 2020

Do You Know Where Your Ballot Is?

Posted By on Mon, Oct 26, 2020 at 9:06 AM

For the first time, Californians can track their mail-in ballots from the point they’re printed to the moment they’re accepted by their county elections office.

Ballot tracking, now available in parts or all of a dozen states, has become a particularly useful option this year, when many voters are anxious about election security.

As of October 22, 2.7 million Californians — about 12 percent of the electorate —had signed up for mail-in ballot tracking with BallotTrax, a free service whose website spells out its security measures with all the gravitas of a nuclear code. Three states have higher participation rates so far — Oregon (16 percent), North Carolina (19 percent) and Colorado (43 percent).

According to the California Secretary of State Office, just under 27,000 Humboldt County voters had returned their vote-by-mail ballots as of Oct. 24, or around 31 percent of the just more than 86,000 who received one. Of those, 99.45 percent have been accepted, the state reports.

Californians have been voting by mail in record numbers at this stage in the election cycle. But thousands of ballots might not be counted for various reasons, from voters using red ink to fill out their ballot to missing the mail-in date.

One of the likeliest ways for a ballot to get rejected is for the voter’s signature not to match their previous voter registration forms or to be missing from the return envelope.

(For all you need to know about casting a ballot amid this COVID-19 pandemic — including how to check registration status, register, turn in your ballot or vote in person — see prior Journal coverage here.)

When signing your ballot, make sure you sign it as you would anything else, Deva Marie Proto, the Sonoma County Registrar of Voters, advised. For example, if you don’t normally include your middle initial in your signature, don’t include it when you sign your ballot. A different slant, tighter spacing or new loops in letters can disqualify a ballot.

“In terms of what we match it to, we use the most recent voter registration,” Proto said. “And then we also have all the past registrations and all the previous vote-by-mail signatures. If somebody updated their registration through the DMV, perhaps we got that signature. So it really depends on each individual voter, the variety and number of signatures that we have for them.”

So far, Proto said, about 800 ballots in her county have been marked as having signature problems. That comes out to about 1.2 percent of all ballots cast.

However, voters in this category still have a chance to get their vote counted.

“We will mail everyone a letter that will let them know the instructions on how to correct that signature and when they have to get it in,” Proto said. “If people are signed up for BallotTrax, it will send them a notification as well that there is an issue and they can contact us.”

At that point, voters must sign their name again to verify they’re legitimate.

(For all you need to know about casting a ballot amid this COVID-19 pandemic — including how to check registration status, register, turn in your ballot or vote in person — see prior Journal coverage here.)

Elena Neale-Sacks is a reporter at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. Journal digital editor Kimberly Wear contributed to this report.

Votebeat is a national media collaboration about the administration and integrity of, and issues regarding, the unprecedented 2020 election. In California, CalMatters is hosting the collaboration with the Fresno Bee, the Long Beach Post and the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.
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Saturday, October 24, 2020

Eureka Moves Forward with Land Acknowledgement, Police Advisory Board and Affordable Housing Development

Posted By on Sat, Oct 24, 2020 at 12:48 PM

The Eureka City Council.
  • The Eureka City Council.
The Eureka City Council moved forward this week with including a land acknowledgement at the the beginning of its meetings, unanimously approved the creation of citizens advisory board for the police department and chose Linc Housing, a company out of Long Beach, as the developer for 107 affordable housing units across three city-owned properties.

At Councilmember Natalie Arroyo’s request, the council considered Tuesday whether to include a regular acknowledgement in council meetings that would fall between the councilmembers’ roll call and the pledge of allegiance specifically noting that the meeting is taking place on the ancestral lands of the Wiyot people, who have lived in Humboldt County since time immemorial. Councilmember Kim Bergel said she liked the idea but the acknowledgement needs to be more than just boilerplate language.

“I think it’s important, I think it’s a sign of respect,” she said. “The thing about this though, I don’t want to do a land acknowledgement because it’s the thing to do … I don’t want to do gratuitous land acknowledgement. I believe it needs have some substance.”

Bergel said she’d like to see the city consult with the Wiyot Tribe on a more regular basis to “continue to develop our relationship with the tribe,” and noted that she watched a 90-minute lecture by Humboldt State University Native American Studies Chair Cutcha Risling Baldy (a Journal contributor) on the subject, in which she counseled that, done right, land acknowledgements should include reference to all Native peoples who lived in the area, Native terms for the land and present tense language to honor Native people’s continued existences on the lands.


Bergel said the acknowledgements can be “precious, imperative and important” but need to be done with research and thought. Arroyo agreed, saying the city should consult not just the Wiyot Tribe but other tribes and rancherias in the area about what they’d like to see in an acknowledgement, saying it’s also a good opportunity to open dialogues about what else the city can do.

Ultimately, the council voted unanimously to approve the acknowledgement in principle but not to implement it until January, giving the city time to consult with local tribes. Final language of an acknowledgement will come back before the council before then for final approval.

In other matters, the council unanimously approved the creation of a seven-member citizens advisory board to the chief of police that will review citizen complaints, review officer disciplinary actions, department policies and critical incidents to offer input and suggestions. While the board’s meetings will be public and subject to the Brown Act, its members, who will be appointed by the mayor and approved by the council, will be bound by confidentiality agreements that would allow them to review confidential personnel documents. The board will not have any independent authority to discipline offers, investigate citizen complaints or change departmental policy, but is hoped to serve as a liaison between the department and the public, and increase transparency.

In approving the board’s creation, the council also voted to require its members to undergo implicit bias training.

Finally, the council voted unanimously to award the affordable housing development project to Linc Housing, which had put forward plans to convert three city-owned parking lots — on Sunny and Myrtle avenues, Eighth and G streets, and Sixth and M streets — into apartment complexes with a combined 107 units of affordable housing.

Watch the entirety of the council’s meeting below.

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Thursday, October 22, 2020

Why do we keep voting on this? Exploring Prop. 13’s ‘Tax Revolt Family Tree’

Posted By on Thu, Oct 22, 2020 at 6:56 PM

Illustration by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters; istock, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association - CALMATTERS
  • CalMatters
  • Illustration by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters; istock, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

The tax revolt started in California in 1978, but it never really ended.

Four decades ago mad-as-hell voters banded together to pass Proposition 13, capping property taxes, slapping a constitutional muzzle on state government and wringing local budgets like a washcloth. The electorate’s anti-tax fever may have broken in the years since, but the legacy of Prop. 13 is still very much with us. 

Need proof? Check your ballot. 

This year, Californians are being asked to weigh in on two more changes to the tax-slashing constitutional amendment that has done more than any other California ballot measure to reshape the state’s fiscal landscape and the politics of taxation. 

Proposition 19 would pop open one new property tax loophole for older or disabled homeowners, while sewing shut another for people who inherit their parents’ and grandparents’ homes. And Proposition 15 would raise property taxes on many businesses — the largest change to California’s property tax structure since Prop. 13 campaign leader Howard Jarvis was railing against high taxes and “marinated bureaucrats.”

If it seems like California voters are perpetually being asked to redefine, clarify, overhaul or rewrite the terms of the 1978 tax revolt, it’s because we are. Since Prop. 13, the state has voted 33 times on potential amendments to it. These offshoots of Prop. 13 have sprouted their own offshoots, adding additions to revisions to edits of the original text. Forty-two years later, the tree first planted in 1978 has gotten mighty tangled.

“It’s an evergreen story,” said Jason Cohn, whose Jarvis documentary The First Angry Man, premiered last week. Cohn and his wife, Camille Servan-Schreiber, began working on the film in 2010 when voters were considering Proposition 26 — a successful Prop. 13 patch that made it even harder for state and local governments to raise revenue through fees.

“It’s never not relevant,” said Cohn.

There are few areas of California economic or political life that Prop. 13 hasn’t touched. To recap, it:

  • Capped property taxes at 1% of a property’s assessed value
  • Fixed a property’s assessed value to its original purchase price (rather than how much it can be currently sold for)
  • Allowed that assessed value to inch up with inflation, but by no more than 2% each year
  • Allowed a property to be reassessed whenever it is sold or if the owner makes a significant improvement or addition
  • Required local and state governments — and in some cases voters — to get two-thirds of the vote to introduce new taxes

In the short term, the measure gave homeowners a lasting tax cut and, amid skyrocketing real estate prices, made it much easier for homeowners to stay in their homes. In exchange, property tax payments plummeted 60% in a year, cutting $7 billion from city and school district budgets. 

Longer term, Prop. 13 had a number of unintended consequences. State government assumed a much bigger role in school financing. Local governments suddenly had a bigger incentive to approve commercial real estate over residential development. Governments across California turned to other sources of revenue — including income taxes, use taxes and fees — to make up the difference. 

The Prop. 13 campaign reverberated across the country. Jarvis, the garrulous, cigar-chomping political gadfly who had been tilting at California’s tax code, Don Quixote-like, for decades, became a magazine cover-gracing populist hero overnight. Tax-capping measures sprouted up elsewhere, augering the landslide election of Ronald Reagan. In its wake, Jerry Brown, the state’s governor at the time, came to rebrand himself a “born-again tax cutter” — one of many Democrats who would see “taxation” and “government spending” as four letter words for decades to come.

“The era of the tax revolt, I think, has largely ended in California,” said Cohn. “But Prop. 13 has its own status outside that liberal-conservative spectrum.”

Of the 33 changes put before the voters, 24 have passed. They come in three varieties:

1. Perk Protectors

Under Prop. 13, a home’s value is reassessed whenever there’s a change of ownership or the property owner makes an addition or improvement. Property owners can find themselves slapped with a much higher tax bill if they opt to fix up their current place or move to a new one. As soon as Prop. 13 passed, people began scrambling for exemptions.

If someone is forced to move after a natural disaster, don’t they deserve a tax break? What if someone inherits a home from a parent — is California going to impose an orphan’s tax? And what about the responsible homeowner who installs a sprinkler system? A solar panel? A rain barrel? 

Since 1978, the vast majority of the Prop. 13-related initiatives have carved out highly specific exemptions for niche investments and transactions, expanding the tax break’s protections one ballot measure at a time. 

2. Rulemakers

Another key feature of Prop. 13: Legislators hoping to raise taxes need to convince two-thirds of their colleagues to agree. For local taxes, two-thirds of voters are needed to approve “special taxes.”

But what if the taxes were used to pay off debt? If a regulator imposes a fee or a fine, is that a “tax” too? And what’s a “special tax” anyway? 

Eight more measures have gone before the California voter to answer such questions.

3. Tax hikers

Proposition 13 makes it really hard for governments to raise revenue. That was the point. So when interest groups are particularly strapped, sometimes they go to the voters directly asking for a loophole. 

Despite everything, Prop. 13 still retains its basic structure, said Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, one of the state’s most influential anti-tax groups. Property taxes are still capped at 1% of a property’s value, they can increase by only 2% each year and reassessment still occurs only with an ownership change or upgrade. “Those are the three legs of the stool and those have not changed,” said Coupal.

What makes Prop. 13 such a moving target, constantly in need of more modest revisions and clarifications, he said, is its brevity. The 1978 effort took place before California proposition campaigns became the half-a-billion-dollar, professionalized business they are today. 

Jarvis and his co-drafters “were not insiders and they wanted a quick immediate fix that was really needed at the time,” said Coupal. “It was sparse…so there were a lot of unanswered questions. You can criticize Prop. 13 for that but remember, the United States Bill of Rights is very sparse too.”

Darien Shanske, a law professor at UC Davis, agrees that Prop. 13’s repeat presence on the ballot is a product of the way that it was written. But he doesn’t liken its lack of specificity to the genius of the Founding Fathers.

Overly-strict in some places and ambiguous in others, the measure “was particularly poorly drafted,” he said, which has led to continual efforts to prune or graft modifications onto it. That’s to say nothing of the frequent court battles over its precise meaning. 

Critics of ballot box budgeting contend that the Legislature is better equipped than voters to make complex taxation and spending decisions, and believe Prop. 13 has resulted in an infuriating catch-22. By making it more difficult for lawmakers to raise taxes, Prop. 13 makes it more likely that increases will require yet another ballot measure. And because constitutional amendments can only be changed through the popular vote, any direct changes to Prop. 13 have to go before the voters.

Tax policy and refined spending decisions shouldn’t be done within the Constitution, Shanske said — “but once we’ve started down this road, we’re stuck with it because now we can’t fix it except through the Constitution.”

Via the Post It, CalMatters political reporter Ben Christopher shares frequent updates from the (socially distanced) 2020 campaign trail.

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Monday, October 19, 2020

UPDATE: No Local Tsunami Impact from Alaska Quake

Posted By on Mon, Oct 19, 2020 at 3:13 PM

UPDATE:

There is no tsunami threat to the West Coast.

PREVIOUS:
The Eureka office of the National Weather Service is awaiting word from the National Tsunami Warning Center about any potential tsunami warnings, watches or advisories for local areas after a magnitude-7.5 earthquake struck off the coast of Alaska.

“We are awaiting updated information from the National Tsunami Warning Center for any *possible* tsunami impacts to the US West Coast,” its Facebook post states. “No tsunami warnings, watches, or advisories are in effect yet, but stay tuned.”

There is a tsunami warning for the Alaska Archipelago.

The NWS states it will continue to post updates.

Edit 10/19 2:55 PM: We are still waiting for more information. The National Tsunami Warning Center is evaluating the...

Posted by US National Weather Service Eureka California on Monday, October 19, 2020
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Saturday, October 17, 2020

Eureka to Consider Opening Council Meetings with Land Acknowledgement

Posted By on Sat, Oct 17, 2020 at 1:10 PM

The Eureka City Council.
  • The Eureka City Council.

The Eureka City Council will consider Tuesday whether to begin each of its meetings with a public acknowledgement that it is taking place on "uncededed" Wiyot land.

"The city of Eureka acknowledges that we are located on the unceded ancestral lands of the Wiyot Tribe," reads sample land acknowledgement language, which the council directed staff to put together at its Oct. 6 meeting. "Please join us in acknowledging this fact as we work and meet together today."

If approved, the land acknowledgement would be included in every city council agenda and read aloud during each meeting after the roll call of council members. In a staff report, City Clerk Pam Powell explains the acknowledgement is a show of respect.

"Tribal land acknowledgement is a formal statement that recognizes and respects Native American peoples as traditional stewards of this land, and the enduring relationship that exists between Native American peoples and their traditional lands," she writes. "To recognize the land is an expression of gratitude and appreciation to those whose homelands we reside on and is a recognition of the original people and nations who have been living and working on the land since time immemorial."

Last month, the city of West Hollywood approved a land acknowledgement, with Mayor Lindsey Horvath explaining, "In countries such as New Zealand, Australia, Canada and among tribal nations in the United States, it is commonplace, even policy, to open events and gatherings by acknowledging the traditional Indigenous inhabitants of that land."

The city of Toronto implemented a land acknowledgement — acknowledging the "traditional territory of many nations, including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples" — back in 2014 and updated it in 2018 with "evolved" language.

If the Eureka City Council approves the land acknowledgement Tuesday, it will come almost exactly a year after it voted to return 200 acres of Tuluwat Island in Humboldt Bay back to the Wiyot Tribe from which it had been stolen more than 150 years earlier. It's believed to the be first time a local government in the United States has voluntarily returned land stolen from Native people.

In other matters, the council will consider codifying the Eureka Police Chief's Advisory Panel introduced by former EPD Chief Andrew Mills in 2015. If passed, the informal panel would become a Citizens Advisory Board, with duties and responsibilities outlined in the city code. Under the proposal, board would be made up of seven members appointed by the mayor and would review complaints against EPD officers, provide input to EPD Chief Steve Watson on policies and procedures, field complaints from the public and report annually to the city council. It would be bound by confidentiality agreements so it could review EPD personnel documents and would not have any ultimate authority over the discipline of officers or department policy, nor the ability to subpoena testimony and documents.

"The board will serve as an advisory body to the chief of Police," Watson wrote in the staff report. "The board will give counsel, support, advice and recommendations to the chief of police for the purpose of improving transparency and accountability while building trust and fostering strong police-community relations."

Also on Tuesday's agenda are ordinances aimed at making it easier to create efficiency dwelling units (tiny homes) and electric vehicle charging stations within city limits, an update on the Broadway corridor plan and awarding a bid to build 107 units of affordable housing on city-owned property.

Find the full agenda, as well as details about how to attend the meeting virtually, here.
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Friday, October 16, 2020

Last Day to Register to Vote is Oct. 19

Posted By on Fri, Oct 16, 2020 at 3:49 PM

Local election season is officially ramping up. - FILE
  • File
  • Local election season is officially ramping up.
The last day to register to vote and receive your mail-in ballot in California for the Nov. 3 election is on Monday, Oct. 19.

You can register to vote online at RegistertoVote.ca.gov. or by using the registration form that you can find at post offices or at the Humboldt County Office of Elections (2426 6th Street, Eureka). If you plan to mail it, make sure that it is postmarked no later than October 19.

Read the Journal's coverage on everything you need to know for the upcoming election here.

If you don't register to vote on Oct. 19, you can still visit the Office of Elections to register and receive your ballot there.

Starting October 31, you will also be able to go to your Voter Assistance Center (which can be found here) and register and vote a Conditional Ballot.

Read the full release here.

Last Day to Register and Receive your Ballot in the Mail

Monday, October 19, 2020, is the last day to register to vote in the November 3 Election and receive your ballot in the mail.

Register to vote online at RegistertoVote.ca.gov. Register to vote using the registration form that you can find at post offices or at the Office of Elections. If you plan to mail it, make sure that it is postmarked no later than October 19.

After the 19th, you will still be able to register at the Humboldt County Office of Elections and receive your ballot there.

 Starting October 31, you will also be able to go to your Voter Assistance Center and register and vote a Conditional Ballot.

Humboldt County Office of Elections

2426 6th Street, Eureka, CA

707-445-7481

Humboldt_elections@co.humboldt.ca.us

Humboldtgov.org/elections

 

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Thursday, October 15, 2020

Texting 9-1-1 is Now Available in Humboldt County

Posted By on Thu, Oct 15, 2020 at 11:29 AM

HCSO
  • HCSO
The Humboldt County Sheriff's Office announced today that texting 9-1-1 for emergencies is now available in unincorporated areas of Humboldt County, the city of Fortuna, Arcata, Humboldt State University and California Highway Patrol (other local cities will be launching Text to 9-1-1 capabilities soon).

Calling 9-1-1 during an emergency is still the preferred way to ask for help, but texting is a new option for contacting law enforcement and is intended to assist those who are deaf, hard of hearing, speech impaired, or anyone who cannot safely call 9-1-1 in a dangerous situation.

“When it comes to getting emergency assistance, every second counts,” Humboldt County Sheriff William Honsal said. “Text to 9-1-1 is helping eliminate communication barriers and allowing all residents, regardless of disability, to get the services they need quickly.”

Just as calling 9-1-1, texting 9-1-1 should only be used in an emergency. According to the release, prank-texters can be identified and prosecuted according to local laws and regulations.

How do you text to 9-1-1?
  • Enter the numbers “911” in the “To” or “Recipient” field;
  • The first text to 9-1-1 should be short, include the address and the location of the emergency, and ask for police, fire or ambulance;
  • Push the “Send” button;
  • A dispatcher will respond to the text
  • Answer questions and follow instructions from the 9-1-1 dispatcher;
  • Text in simple words – no abbreviations, slang or emojis;
  • Keep text messages short.
According to the release, in order to text 9-1-1, you need a cell phone that has the capability to send text messages, and location services must be enabled. Standard text messaging rates apply and English is the only language available.

Tips on texting 9-1-1 in an emergency:
  • Be sure to include clear information about the location (including city) of the emergency with the type of help needed (police, fire, or medical) in the first text message sent to 911. Emergency personnel cannot always determine your location.
  • Stay on the line until the dispatcher closes the dialog, if it is safe to do so.
  • Text to 9-1-1 cannot be sent to more than one person (group message). Do not send your emergency text to anyone other than 9-1-1.
  • Text to 9-1-1 is not available if you are roaming.
  • If Text to 9-1-1 is not available in your area, you should receive a message from the wireless carrier stating that Text to 9-1-1 is not available and that you must place a voice or relay call to 9-1-1.
  • If you are deaf, hard-of-hearing or speech disabled, and Text to 9-1-1 is not available, use a TTY or telecommunications relay service, if available.
  • Photos and videos cannot be sent to 9-1-1.
  • Don’t forget to silence your phone if you don’t want to be heard.
  • Do not text and drive
Read the full press release below.
Text to 9-1-1 Now Available in Humboldt County

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office is pleased to announce the availability of Text to 9-1-1 for all residents in the county’s unincorporated areas.

While calling 9-1-1 during an emergency is still the preferred way to ask for help, Text to 9-1-1 is a new option for contacting law enforcement and is intended to assist those who are deaf, hard of hearing, speech impaired, or anyone who cannot safely call 9-1-1 in a dangerous situation.

“When it comes to getting emergency assistance, every second counts,” Humboldt County Sheriff William Honsal said. “Text to 9-1-1 is helping eliminate communication barriers and allowing all residents, regardless of disability, to get the services they need quickly.”

Text to 9-1-1 is intended primarily for use in three emergency scenarios:

  • When an individual is deaf, hard-of-hearing, or has a speech disability.
  • When someone is in a situation where it is not safe to place a voice call to 9-1-1.
  • When a medical emergency arises that renders the person incapable of speaking.

Texting 9-1-1 should only be used in an emergency. Prank-texters can be identified and prosecuted according to local laws and regulations.

“Text to 9-1-1 ensures that those who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech impairment have equal access to immediate emergency services, and it also benefits the entire community,” Sheriff’s Office Emergency Communications Center Manager Morgan Schlesiger said. “This new technology has already proven critical reliable in emergency situations where an individual is unable to safely make a phone call. We’re here to help, call when you can, text when you can’t.”

The service is now available in the unincorporated areas of Humboldt County and the cities of Fortuna, Arcata, as well as HSU Police, and the California Highway Patrol. Other local cities will be launching Text to 9-1-1 capabilities soon.

How do you text to 9-1-1?

  • Enter the numbers “911” in the “To” or “Recipient” field;
  • The first text to 9-1-1 should be short, include the address and the location of the emergency, and ask for police, fire or ambulance;
  • Push the “Send” button;
  • A dispatcher will respond to the text
  • Answer questions and follow instructions from the 9-1-1 dispatcher;
  • Text in simple words – no abbreviations, slang or emojis;
  • Keep text messages short.

Text to 9-1-1 requires a cell phone that has the capability to send text messages, and location services must be enabled. Standard text-messaging rates apply. While currently, the texting service is only available in English, other language solutions are in development and will be implemented as soon as they become available. Similarly, the system cannot receive photos and videos at this time.

Tips on texting 9-1-1 in an emergency:

  • Be sure to include clear information about the location (including city) of the emergency with the type of help needed (police, fire, or medical) in the first text message sent to 911. Emergency personnel cannot always determine your location.
  • Stay on the line until the dispatcher closes the dialog, if it is safe to do so.
  • Text to 9-1-1 cannot be sent to more than one person (group message).  Do not send your emergency text to anyone other than 9-1-1.
  • Text to 9-1-1 is not available if you are roaming.
  • If Text to 9-1-1 is not available in your area, you should receive a message from the wireless carrier stating that Text to 9-1-1 is not available and that you must place a voice or relay call to 9-1-1.
  • If you are deaf, hard-of-hearing or speech disabled, and Text to 9-1-1 is not available, use a TTY or telecommunications relay service, if available.
  • Photos and videos cannot be sent to 9-1-1.
  • Don’t forget to silence your phone if you don’t want to be heard.
  • Do not text and drive

This new capability was provided to the Sheriff’s Emergency Communications Center at no cost from the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. As dialing 9-1-1 in an emergency is still the preferred way to request help, and the public is reminded to “Call if you can. Text if you can’t.”

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Wednesday, October 14, 2020

2020 Census Deadline Tomorrow

Posted By on Wed, Oct 14, 2020 at 3:41 PM

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If you haven’t filled out the 2020 U.S. Census, you still have time. The last day for the 2020 census is tomorrow, Oct. 15 at 11:59 p.m. Hawaii time (2:59 a.m. on Oct. 16 in California).

The census is a data collection of the U.S. population that’s administered every 10 years, it’s used to determine the number of seats each state holds in the U.S. House of Representatives and how much federal funding communities will receive for roads, schools, housing and social services.

In a release sent by North Coast Rep. Jared Huffman, a new report states that if there is just a 1 percent undercount in the 2020 Census, residents of the 2nd Congressional District of California could lose $183,000 in federal funding for schools that have a high proportion of low-income students, and $165,000 in federal funding for job training centers and career counseling.

According to the release, California's second district has about 13,000 low-income students, 89,000 people of working age under the federal poverty level, and saw about $4.3 million in federal funding for worker assistance. A Census undercount jeopardizes that important support.

To fill out the census you can go visit www.2020Census.gov, or call (844) 330-2020 or visit www.2020census.gov/en/ways-to-respond/responding-by-phone.html for a schedule and a list of numbers for different languages, or you can mail your enclosed census questionnaire that must be postmarked by Oct. 15.

Read the full release below.

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