Monday, December 11, 2017

Deputy Sheriff's PAC Fined $17K for Violations

Posted By on Mon, Dec 11, 2017 at 4:21 PM

The Humboldt County Deputy Sheriff’s Organization’s political action committee has reached a proposed settlement with the state Fair Political Practices Commission after pervasive campaign finance disclosure violations dating back to 2012.

Under the proposed settlement, which still needs to be approved by the commission, the PAC will admit to seven violations of campaign finance transparency laws and pay $17,500 in fines. It faced a maximum penalty of $35,000 for failing to timely file 16 disclosure forms over a five-year period that would have reported a total of $82,467 in donations to the PAC and $68,510 in political contributions from the PAC.

Humboldt County Deputy Sheriff’s Organization President Jamie Barney said the problem appears to have started when a new member began taking over campaign finance disclosure filings for the organization back in 2012. “The guy who was doing it for us apparently didn’t do it properly or didn’t do it at all,” Barney said, declining to identify the member. (The FPPC settlement identifies him as Scott Hicks.)

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Sunday, December 10, 2017

TL;DR: Five Questions to Catch You Up

Posted By on Sun, Dec 10, 2017 at 10:50 AM

  • Photo illustration by Jonathan Webster
Busy week? We’ll help you catch up on the basics of this week's cover story, which details the conversation about what should be done about the statue of President William McKinley and a plaque commemorating the Jacoby Storehouse on the Arcata Plaza. Read the full story here before you dive into a Facebook comments debate.

Below, find four questions answered in Kimberly Wears story, "A Monumental Decision," and a bonus question that expands the story beyond the Arcata Plaza. Let us know what you think in the comments below.

What’s happening? Following a national trend, dozens of Arcatans filled the D Street Community Center on Dec. 4 to discuss what to do with a pair of historic artifacts that most feel conflict with the city’s values. The vast majority of the few dozen who addressed the Arcata City Council that night encouraged the council to take the artifacts down, arguing they promote ideologies of racism, imperialism and violence.

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Friday, December 8, 2017

UPDATE: Draft Interdistrict Transfer Policy Set to Go Before School Boards

Posted By on Fri, Dec 8, 2017 at 3:23 PM

A draft policy on open enrollment is set to go before local school boards next week. - THINKSTOCK
  • A draft policy on open enrollment is set to go before local school boards next week.
Editor’s note: This story was updated from a version posted this morning to include additional information and text of the draft proposal.

Humboldt County’s long-standing tradition of allowing parents to choose where their children go to school will likely see some changes next year under a tentative agreement reached by area superintendents this week.

Office of Education Superintendent Chris Hartley said the draft set to go before most — if not all — the county’s school boards next week “embraces the concept of open enrollment” but includes the addition of strict timelines parents would need to meet to register in schools located outside their home districts.

While the process is currently open all year, under the draft agreement reached Dec. 6 parents or guardians would need to make a transfer request during an “enrollment window” of Dec. 1 to Feb. 1.

(For the 2018-19 school year, the last day to apply will be Sept. 1.)

The home district would then have up to 10 days after the Feb. 1 deadline to approve or deny requests and forward any approvals on to the district of choice, which has until mid-February to accept transfers.

But there is a caveat in the draft agreement that allows home districts to deny a request if a parent or guardian “does not participate in a DOR Reasonable Enrollment Information Activities, absent good cause.”

Those reasonable activities include: “a discussion with school administration/designee, orientation meeting, site visitation, or informational literature.”

Parents can appeal a denial to the county Board of Education.

The basic idea, Hartley said on Thursday, is to strike a balance between preserving school choice and giving districts the ability to better plan for staffing and other needs by knowing how many students to expect in their classrooms.

For example, state education code requires districts to notify employees about potential staff reductions in March, a decision that depends heavily on how many kids are expected to walk through the doors the following year.

“Folks are trying to use some common sense here with this thing and make it accessible to parents who are looking to utilize an interdistrict transfer,” Hartley said, emphasizing the specifics were still be worked out.

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UPDATE: Police Chief Says Missing HSU Student Apparently Died from Fall

Posted By on Fri, Dec 8, 2017 at 12:41 PM

Erin Henry - FACEBOOK
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  • Erin Henry

An autopsy conducted Monday, Dec. 11 concluded that Henry's death was due to fatal injuries consistent with a fall. The death was found to be self-inflicted.

UPDATE: The body of 22-year-old Erin Elizabeth Henry was found at the bottom of Elephant Rock, just south of the Westhaven exit on U.S. Highway 101, according to Arcata Police Chief Tom Chapman.

Chapman said Henry’s body, found in a small ravine under the rock that wasn’t visible from the highway, showed signs of trauma. Investigators believe she may have fallen or jumped off the rock, Chapman said.

An autopsy is tentatively scheduled for Monday and Chapman said the investigation will remain open until he receives full results, including toxicology tests. Based on the condition of Henry’s body, Chapman said it appears she has been there for some time, likely since shortly after she was last seen.

Chapman reiterated that there are no signs of foul play in the case, though he said it remains unclear exactly how Henry, who had a broken ankle and was apparently travelling on a knee scooter, made it the 13 miles from her home to Elephant Rock. “Certainly, that’s an outstanding question that we need to try to resolve as best we can — it is quite a distance so the likelihood of her walking that distance seems remote,” Chapman said.

Henry was a noted theater standout during her time at HSU, which included this performance of Julius Cesar, which drew a rave review from Pat Bitton.

Police have found the body of a Humboldt State University student who went missing from her Arcata home last month off U.S. Highway 101 south of Westhaven and report they’ve found no signs of foul play.

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Thursday, December 7, 2017

Teen's 2016 Death Ruled a Homicide

Posted By on Thu, Dec 7, 2017 at 5:46 PM

Jennika Suazo - FACEBOOK
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  • Jennika Suazo
The Eureka Police Department has determined that an 18-year-old girl found dead in December of 2016 died of asphyxia and is investigating the case as a homicide.

On Dec. 9, 2016, medics were summoned to a residence in the 300 block of P Street and arrived to find Jennika Lee Suazo, a student at Zoe Barnum High School, dead.

After the death, detectives began investigating the other 22 people who resided at the P Street residence. Autopsy results returned in June confirmed the cause of death and EPD has proceeded with its homicide investigation. It’s not immediately clear what spurred EPD’s press release (copied below) some five months later.

The department is still waiting on DNA test results.

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Eureka City Council Approves Key Waterfront Projects

Posted By on Thu, Dec 7, 2017 at 10:19 AM

A mock up of "Halvorsen Village." - FROM THE SCHNEIDER PROPOSAL.
  • From the Schneider Proposal.
  • A mock up of "Halvorsen Village."
The Eureka City Council voted in favor of several waterfront projects Tuesday night, including the commitment of city funds to complete Waterfront Drive between G and J streets and authorizing staff to negotiate a lease-to-buy option for 11 acres east of Halvorsen Park with a developer who would like to build an upscale RV park and mixed-use development. Both motions passed unanimously, with Councilmember Austin Allison absent.

The completion of Waterfront Drive, as was noted in a presentation by Public Works director Brian Gerving, has been in the works for "years and years and years," first initialized by city staff in 2005 when the council approved a project study report.

Currently drivers and pedestrians cannot continuously navigate Waterfront Drive and have to detour around a block between the Adorni Center and G Street. Staff is still in the process of finishing the right of way process and expect to have that done by February of 2018. State funding from the California Transportation Committee is expected in March of 2018, with the entire project costing $3.3 million. The city's engineering staff has found several funding streams to make up that amount, with the city committing a portion yet to be decided. After some discussion, the city council voted in favor of the extension, which will allow staff to seek money from the State Transportation Improvement Program. Completion of Waterfront Drive — tentatively scheduled for October — will also bridge one of the last remaining gaps in the bay trail.

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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Huffman Votes to Push Impeachment

Posted By on Wed, Dec 6, 2017 at 3:49 PM

Jared Huffman. - CONGRESS
  • Congress
  • Jared Huffman.
North Coast Congressman Jared Huffman joined 57 of his colleagues today in a failed vote to allow consideration of articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.

The measure pushed forward by Rep. Al Green faced an overwhelming defeat when a motion to sideline it was approved 364-58, with four Democrats voting "present."

In a statement, Huffman defended his vote to move the articles forward.

"The magnitude and breadth of President Trump’s actions to undermine his office and the public trust — those that have been illegal, corrupt, or have caused deep damage to our country — is stunning and most of the facts are indisputable," Huffman said. "For these reasons, I’ve stated for months that I believe President Trump should be, and eventually will be, impeached. And for the same reasons, if I am presented with a vote on this subject, I’ll vote my conscience and support impeachment."

Read the full statement copied below:

Rep. Huffman Statement on Impeachment Vote

Washington, D.C.- Congressman Jared Huffman (D-CA) today released the following statement today after voting to allow consideration of articles of impeachment introduced by Rep. Al Green (D-TX):

“Impeachment is an extraordinary measure, but it should be clear to anyone who examines the facts that President Trump’s actions justify his impeachment, including his efforts to obstruct justice, his self-enrichment and serial violations of the Emoluments Clause, and his involvement in a cover-up stemming from his campaign’s very likely collusion with Russian interests to undermine the 2016 presidential election.

The magnitude and breadth of President Trump’s actions to undermine his office and the public trust – those that have been illegal, corrupt, or have caused deep damage to our country — is stunning and most of the facts are indisputable.

For these reasons, I’ve stated for months that I believe President Trump should be, and eventually will be, impeached. And for the same reasons, if I am presented with a vote on this subject, I’ll vote my conscience and support impeachment.

It is vital, however, that we distinguish impeachable offenses from offensive behavior, divisive political instincts, ineptitude, and poor judgment. These are all frustrating but in my view do not rise to the level of impeachable offenses. I understand why many of my Democratic colleagues, including many who believe President Trump should ultimately be impeached, voted no on today’s resolution.

We are a long way from having the votes in Congress to impeach, a vote that must happen on a bipartisan basis. We need to work in a bipartisan way to bring accountability and transparency to a White House that is doing great damage, including through ongoing Congressional oversight, a new independent commission on Russian election interference, and the ongoing work of Special Prosecutor Bob Mueller.”

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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

EPD Investigating Homicide Behind E Street Church

Posted By on Tue, Dec 5, 2017 at 11:07 AM

A 56-year-old man is dead after what detectives believe was a homicide that occurred last night between 11:35 p.m. and 12:45 a.m., and the Eureka Police Department is looking for help with its investigation.

Charles "Chuckie" Levaugh, identified by EPD as a transient, was apparently killed in the alley adjacent to the First Church of the Nazarene, at 2039 E St. EPD is seeking any surveillance video or other information that may help identify a suspect. A cause of death has not been released.

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Monday, December 4, 2017

Name Released in Manila Homicide

Posted By on Mon, Dec 4, 2017 at 10:41 AM

Humboldt County Sheriff's Office - FILE
  • FILE
  • Humboldt County Sheriff's Office
The Humboldt County Sheriff's Office has released the name of a 27-year-old man who was apparently shot inside his vehicle in the early hours of Saturday morning. Mathew Thomas Dix's truck was idling in his driveway on the 1700 block of Victor Blvd. in Manila when deputies responded to call for medical aid at 3:16 a.m. on Dec. 2. He was found to be deceased upon arrival and the cause of death was later determined to be from a gunshot wound.

No further information about the ongoing investigation has been made available.

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Saturday, December 2, 2017

County Swaps Attorneys, Challenges $2.5 Million Wrongful Death Verdict

Posted By on Sat, Dec 2, 2017 at 2:45 PM

Daren Borges and his mother, Stephany Borges. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • Daren Borges and his mother, Stephany Borges.
The County of Humboldt is asking for a new trial in the civil case that in August resulted in a jury verdict finding the county and its correctional officers liable in the 2014 jail death of Daren Borges and awarding $2.5 million in damages to his family.

In addition to filing motions last week asking a court to throw out the jury’s verdicts in the case and grant a new trial, the defendants in the case — the county of Humboldt, former Sheriff Mike Downey and correctional officers Tim Hershberger, David Swim, Terri Bittner and Tim Hammer — also filed papers seeking to have local attorney Nancy Delaney replaced with John Whitefleet of Sacramento’s Porter Scott law firm as lead attorney in the case.

On Aug. 28, a federal jury found correctional officers failed to follow policy and were indifferent to Borges’ obvious medical needs when they opted not to have him medically screened while booking him into the Humboldt County jail about two hours before he was found dead of a methamphetamine overdose in a jail sobering cell. The jury, which deliberated for about 10 hours before returning its unanimous verdicts, also found that Humboldt County had failed to adequately train its correctional officers.

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