Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Officials Announce Lawson Reward, Face Charging 'Conundrum'

Posted By on Tue, Jun 13, 2017 at 1:26 PM

Michelle Chermaine Lawson issues an emotional plea for anyone who may have information about her son's death to come forward. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • Michelle Chermaine Lawson issues an emotional plea for anyone who may have information about her son's death to come forward.
The reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever fatally stabbed David Josiah Lawson on April 15 has swollen to $21,000, the city of Arcata recently announced.

  • Submitted
  • Lawson
Meanwhile, Arcata Police Chief Tom Chapman said the investigation remains ongoing some five weeks after Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Dale Reinholtsen dismissed a murder charge against Kyle Zoellner, APD’s prime suspect in the slaying of Lawson, a 19-year-old Humboldt State university sophomore. Nothing prevents the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office from refiling a murder charge against Zoellner if APD finds additional evidence implicating him in Lawson’s death.

Chapman said his detectives are continuing to investigate witnesses in the case, though he noted that, aside from those initially interviewed, none of the more than 100 people at the Spear Avenue house party where Lawson was killed have voluntarily come forward.

“To date, that hasn’t happened,” Chapman said, adding that all witness interviews are valuable to the investigation, even if the witness doesn’t believe he or she saw anything related to Lawson’s death, explaining that one witness’ testimony about things unrelated to the actual stabbing can be used to test the veracity of other witness statements.

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Monday, June 12, 2017

Judge Marilyn Miles to Retire in July

Posted By on Mon, Jun 12, 2017 at 4:59 PM

Humboldt County Courthouse - FILE
  • file
  • Humboldt County Courthouse
The Humboldt County Superior Court announced today that Judge Marilyn Miles will be stepping down July 31.

A picture of Miles taken shortly after she was sworn in, back in 1998. - FILE
  • File
  • A picture of Miles taken shortly after she was sworn in, back in 1998.
That will once again leave local courtrooms short on staffing just a few weeks after newly appointed Judge Greg Elvine-Kreis, who officially starts June 19, takes over the seat vacated by Bruce Watson following his retirement in January of 2016.

Miles was sworn in as Humboldt County’s first woman superior court judge in June of 1998 following a court consolidation and serving on the municipal bench for one year.

“During that time, I have enjoyed working with my fellow judges and wonderful court staff, and have thoroughly enjoyed my job. I certainly wish my colleagues and the whole court the very best,” Miles said in the press release on her retirement.

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Friday, June 9, 2017

HSU Axes Pepsi Contract

Posted By on Fri, Jun 9, 2017 at 5:00 PM

The athletics department gets about $58,000 in sponsorship funds from HSU's contract with PepsiCo, which give the multi-billion-dollar company "pouring rights" on campus.
  • The athletics department gets about $58,000 in sponsorship funds from HSU's contract with PepsiCo, which give the multi-billion-dollar company "pouring rights" on campus.

Humboldt State University President Lisa Rossbacher has decided to sever the school’s ties with PepsiCo after some students came forward opposing its ongoing 40-year relationship with the multi-billion-dollar company.

Under the contract, PepsiCo gave HSU about $58,000 in sponsorship funds for athletic scholarships and scoreboard maintenance in exchange for “pouring rights” guaranteeing Pepsi 80 percent of on-campus food and beverage retail space. With the five-year contract slated to expire June 30 and up for renewal, students urged administrators end the school’s relationship with the soft drink giant — which owns a host of multi-billion-dollar subsidiaries, including Quaker, Cheetos, Doritos, Gatorade and Tropicana.

Specifically, students argued that partnering with PepsiCo wasn’t in line with the school’s stated commitment to promoting social and environmental justice. Additionally, they said the contract denies local businesses the opportunity to sell their products on campus.

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Thursday, June 8, 2017

Fatal Collision on SR 36 is 15th of 2017

Posted By on Thu, Jun 8, 2017 at 9:14 AM

The death of Wende Dolores Carroll, a 58-year-old Bridgeville resident, marks the county's 15th traffic fatality of the year. Carroll was driving westbound on State Route 36 at 10:58 a.m. yesterday when her pickup crossed into the eastbound lane and she overcorrected, leaving the road and colliding with a redwood tree. The California Highway Patrol said alcohol was not a factor in the collision.

To date in 2017, 15 people have died from traffic fatalities in Humboldt County, including six pedestrians struck by vehicles.

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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

EPD Chief Mills Accepts Post in Santa Cruz

Posted By on Wed, Jun 7, 2017 at 7:57 PM

Andrew Mills - FILE
  • File
  • Andrew Mills
Eureka Police Chief Andrew Mills has accepted a job offer from the city of Santa Cruz and, pending a background investigation, will be leaving after three and a half years on the job here.

Reached this evening, Mills said the change is bittersweet and comes for a mixture of personal and professional reasons. Personally, he said he’s welcomed three grandchildren to his family since taking over Eureka’s chief position for Murl Harpham in September of 2013 and the remoteness of Humboldt County has made it difficult to see them. Professionally, Mills said Santa Cruz’s police chief position offers new challenges that he feels are in his wheelhouse: The city has a sizeable homeless population, gang issues and the need to continue building a stronger relationship between the community and its police force.

“It seems like a good fit,” Mills said.

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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Up and Down Old Town with Officer Crnich

Posted By on Tue, Jun 6, 2017 at 1:15 PM

Officer Cory Crnich - SAM ARMANINO
  • Sam Armanino
  • Officer Cory Crnich
Eureka Police officer Cory Crnich’s beat stretches from Eureka’s Fourth Street north to the bay, from East Commercial Street to the library. Being the Old Town officer is a specialty position, one Crnich applied and reapplied for. He took the job in May of 2016, one week after the PalCo Marsh eviction. There’s no pay bonus but there are, according to Crnich, “unique opportunities and difficulties” that make it different from a regular patrol position. Four days a week, beginning at 8 a.m., Crnich walks up and down his beat, checking in on the people  passed out in doorways, smoking at the Gazebo and making their way toward St. Vincent De Paul for food.

“It requires a little more patience than standard patrol work,” says Crnich. “There are two different extremes you’re working with, indigent folks and small business owners.”

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Sunday, June 4, 2017

TL;DR: Our Favorite Quotes From This Week's Cover Story

Posted By on Sun, Jun 4, 2017 at 12:47 PM

Hey readers, we know that reading 4,500 words can be a slog for some in the fast, digital world. Even if that 4,500 words is about something as fascinating as the city of Eureka's many, varied attempts to address the entrenched homeless camp in the PalCo Marsh and the accompanying emails we obtained from public records act request, it is a long article. (Give thanks to the editors, because it used to be much longer.) But take heart, because we get you. After taking a whole year to pore through those emails, and several weeks to write the two-part series distilling them into something that would fit into our pages, we're ready for a brain break too. So we compiled some of our favorite quotes from the article into this listicle, along with some GIFs we feel capture the spirit of the exchanges.

1. "Easy turbo ..." – Eureka Police Department Chief Andrew Mills, responding to a passive-aggressive comment from Parks and Recreation director Miles Slattery about SWAP funding and EPD responsibilities.


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Eureka Council Slated to Talk Wards, Budget, Recreational Pot

Posted By on Sun, Jun 4, 2017 at 8:29 AM

The current Eureka City Council. - COURTESY OF THE CITY OF EUREKA
  • Courtesy of the city of Eureka
  • The current Eureka City Council.
The Eureka City Council will take a first look at the 2017-2018 budget on Tuesday and examine possible customized approaches to the recent legalization of recreational marijuana rather than having the state’s default regulations apply inside city limits.

But before tacking those weighty items, the council will discuss ward redistricting during a 4:30 p.m. special meeting. Following the passage of Measure P in November, future councilmembers will be elected by the residents of individual wards rather than a citywide vote.

To make sure each of Eureka’s five wards has an even population, the city will now need to examine the boundaries — which were last redrawn some 40 years ago.

The Budget
A majority of the city’s $28.4 million general fund in the upcoming fiscal year — about half of the $57.7 million total operating budget — is proposed to go toward public safety, with the Eureka Police Department receiving $13.1 million and Humboldt Bay Fire $6.6 million.

According to City Manager Greg Sparks’ introduction to the 288-page document, the allocation “is consistent with the city council direction of keeping public safety as the number one budget priority.”

Parks and Recreation is slated to receive $3.9 million and Public Works is budgeted at $1.14 million.

Overall, the spending plan is a 2 percent increase over last year’s budget, which also saw a bit of a bump after several lean years that necessitated painful cuts to a number of departments. But the majority of that extra $1 million is slated to cover increases in “pension, health insurance and transit related costs,” Sparks wrote.

“While the recommended budget is balanced the city council and community must be mindful that there are a number of uncertainties still facing the community,” Sparks notes in his conclusion. “Costs continue to increase despite a ratcheting down of discretionary expenses and a leaner public work force. Nonetheless, we will continue to adhere to sound financial practices that will allow us in the long term to successfully meet the challenges of providing quality public services.”

Recreational Marijuana
According to a staff report by Community Development Director Rob Holmlund, the council has until January of 2018 to come up with customized regulations or the general state guidelines will go into effect in Eureka.

The report notes that setting up a city-specific ordinance will take some time, but states the item was delayed while staff waited for President Donald Trump to “clarify the national policy direction regarding state regulation medical cannabis and non-medical marijuana.”

Another factor, according to the staff report, was a lack of clarification from the governor or the state Legislature on how to remedy conflicts between medical and recreational pot regulations.

“Accordingly, staff needs direction from council this month in order to beat the timeline and have custom regulations in place by January of 2018,” Holmlund’s report states.

Staff recommendations for personal grow regulations on recreation marijuana generally coincide with existing ones for medical pot.

Proposed rules include a maximum of 50-square-feet of inside cultivation space per residence, a limit of six plants, a ban on outdoor grows and a requirement that no exterior evidence of a grow be visible from public areas.

On the commercial licensing side, staff is recommending that the council consider banning commercial cultivation and sales of non-medical adult use marijuana anywhere in the city.

Most other aspects of the commercial side, including manufacturing, testing transportation and distribution of recreational marijuana and related products would fall under the same regulations currently applied to its medical counterpart, including zoning restrictions.

Early Release of Council Agenda
Thanks to City Clerk Pam Powell’s efforts to make city business more transparent and accessible to the public, agendas and the accompanying background materials are now available for review days earlier, generally the Wednesday before regularly scheduled council meetings. Find the full agenda and access staff reports for Tuesday's meeting here.
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Saturday, June 3, 2017

Tent Cities: An Expert's Opinion

Posted By on Sat, Jun 3, 2017 at 9:00 AM

A camp on the waterfront. - LINDA STANSBERRY
  • Linda Stansberry
  • A camp on the waterfront.

In the lead-up to the PalCo Marsh vacation, city and county officials and members of the homeless working group, emailed around articles with suggestions for what worked in other cities and states. Among these was an article written by Iain De Jong, titled “Tent City: How to Respond Effectively.” De Jong, a consultant and professor of community planning and housing at York University, is credited with having effectively resolved tent cities and encampments in more than 100 cities, mostly on the East Coast. As part of our research for our two-part series, we emailed De Jong a rough timeline of events to get an outside expert's opinion. (You can read in-depth coverage of this story on the Journal's website: Part 1, "Prelude to a Sweep," describes the decades-long issue that led up to the May 2, 2016 eviction of the PalCo Marsh and Part 2, "Swept," dives into the decision-making process and infighting that preceded the marsh's final days.)

De Jong was not consulted by the city but, after looking at the Journal’s timeline of how Eureka responded to the PalCo Marsh encampment, described what he saw as a “dysfunctional response.”

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Friday, June 2, 2017

A Band of Neighbors Successfully Sues the Squireses

Posted By on Fri, Jun 2, 2017 at 2:07 PM

The now red-tagged home at 1635 G Street. - PHOTO BY THADEUS GREENSON
  • Photo by Thadeus Greenson
  • The now red-tagged home at 1635 G Street.
Residents along a stretch of G Street say they had one main goal in mind when they grouped together to take Eureka’s most notorious landlords to court: They wanted their neighborhood back.

Conditions at two buildings on the street owned by Floyd and Betty Squires had continued to deteriorate, becoming magnets for drug activity and police calls, neighbors say. They saw an uptick in crime and, at times, felt unsafe walking out their doors.

The last straw was a shooting in December at one of the residences that served as a rooming house. Shortly afterward, neighbors filed a series of small claims cases that — after being parred down — left 20 to be heard in court earlier this year.

The effort paid off this week with news arriving in their mailboxes that Superior Court Judge Timothy Cissna awarded them varying amounts in damages — ranging from around $1,500 to $5,000 — after finding the Squireses failed to properly manage the two side-by-side buildings.

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