Saturday, November 18, 2017

Huffman, Thompson Blast Trump Admin for Leaving California out of Disaster Funding

Posted By on Sat, Nov 18, 2017 at 3:21 PM

Jared Huffman. - CONGRESS
  • Congress
  • Jared Huffman.
North Coast Congressman Jared Huffman and his predecessor issued a scathing joint statement yesterday, blasting the Trump administration for leaving wildfire-ravaged California out of its disaster funding request.

Huffman released the statement with Mike Thompson, who represented Humboldt County and the North Coast for 14 years until redistricting bumped him to California’s Fifth Congressional District in 2012, which he has represented since.

President Donald Trump declared a disaster Oct. 10 in response to California’s wildfires, which scorched more than 220,000 acres, destroyed thousands of structures and killed more than 30 people. But the administration’s $44 billion request for disaster relief from Congress on Friday did not earmark any funds for California, incensing Huffman and Thompson.

“For the Administration to not request even a single additional penny to help rebuild the communities devastated by the worst fires in California’s history is mind-boggling,” the two congressmen said.

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Friday, November 17, 2017

New State Cannabis Regulations Allow for Limitless Grow Sizes

Posted By on Fri, Nov 17, 2017 at 2:48 PM

  • Grant Scott-Goforth
It looks like you’ll be able to munch down on that cannabis beef jerky come January but the stony shrimp cocktail will have to wait.

California dropped its long-awaited emergency medicinal and adult-use cannabis regulations yesterday, setting the rules for legal markets slated to open in 45 days on Jan. 1. The new regulations — released by the Department of Health, Department of Food and Agriculture, and the Bureau of Cannabis Control — diverge sharply in some cases from their draft counterparts released back in April.

The new regulations lift a proposed cap on the size of marijuana farms, loosen restrictions on pesticide testing and clamp down on the potency of edibles. Collectively, the new regulations will dictate exactly how cultivators, manufacturors, distributors and dispensaries can operate, at least at the outset (the regulations will be revised next year).

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

NoHum School Board Censures Trustee Amid Resignation Calls

Posted By on Wed, Nov 15, 2017 at 3:16 PM

Arcata High School - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Arcata High School
Four members of the Northern Humboldt Union School board voted to publicly reprimand fellow trustee Jennifer Knight last night, saying her unacceptable behavior over the last two years left them with no other choice.

Board President Colleen Toste told Knight that if she had violated one board policy or bylaw here or there perhaps that could be apologized away, but she has instead continued a pattern of unbecoming conduct despite interventions from other trustees, administrators and staff.

“I can’t allow our district to continue this way,” Toste said.

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Eel River Drowning Death ID'd as Russian Man

Posted By on Wed, Nov 15, 2017 at 1:24 PM

Dordzhi Sandzhiev - FACEBOOK
  • Facebook
  • Dordzhi Sandzhiev
The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office has identified a man whose body was found in South Fork of the Eel River near Redway on Oct. 6 as Dordzhi Sandzhiev, a Russian citizen who frequented Southern Humboldt and was known to deputies, according to a press release.

Sandzhiev, whose cause of death was determined to be drowning, was identified using fingerprints.

Local authorities have been in contact with the Russian Consulate, which confirmed the 33-year-old was born in Elista, Russia. When the consulate’s attempts to contact Sandzhiev’s family proved unsuccessful, local residents used social media to make the connection, according to the sheriff’s office.

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Bass Announces $4.8 Million Federal Grant, Ramped Up Needle Disposal Efforts at Packed Opioid Town Hall

Posted By on Wed, Nov 15, 2017 at 9:33 AM

More than 250 people attended the opioid town hall meeting last night put together by state Sen. Mike McGuire and Humboldt County Supervisor Virginia Bass. - ANDREW GEORGE BUTLER
  • Andrew George Butler
  • More than 250 people attended the opioid town hall meeting last night put together by state Sen. Mike McGuire and Humboldt County Supervisor Virginia Bass.
Speaking before a Sequoia Conference Center packed with more than 250 people for Tuesday night’s opioid town hall meeting hosted by state Sen. Mike McGuire, Humboldt County Supervisor Virginia Bass announced the county has received a $4.8 million federal grant to create a new local opioid help center.

The meeting saw presentations from a handful of local and state officials on the opioid epidemic and a host of questions from the public, most of them centering around the safe disposal of hypodermic syringes locally.

Bass said the center will focus on opioid education as well as finding treatment for its clients. The center will be one of two dozen new “Hub and Spoke” clinics in California. The clinics’ model is an adaptation from Vermont’s system, which has drawn national praised for its opioid addiction work. Bass said she expects to see Humboldt’s hub start to come to fruition in a couple months.

Bass also addressed the topic of needle disposal, which — judging by the questions from audience members — is clearly of public concern. Bass said in the next couple months a number of kiosks will be installed around Eureka purely for the safe disposal of needles. “This is something we have to embrace as a community issue in order to make a change,” she said.

Eureka Police Chief Steve Watson said the “needle tsunami” sweeping across the city could see some relief in the coming months. He said his department has been working with local health service entities to tighten up the flow of needles into the city. Watson didn’t disclose what specific steps the department has taken.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Park Rangers Debunk Tourist Robbery Story

Posted By on Tue, Nov 14, 2017 at 10:38 AM

The account of five Spanish tourists claiming to have been robbed in Redwood National Park is untrue, rangers established this week. The tourists previously said they returned to their vehicles from a hike at Lady Bird Johnson Grove on the afternoon of Friday, Nov. 3, to be confronted by several armed men who came out from the bushes, fired three shots into the air and ordered them to lie on the ground. The park service determined this wasn't true.

"It didn't make any sense," said Greg Morse, chief of Visitor Protection for Redwood National and State Parks. "There were a couple of hundred people at LBJ [Lady Bird Johnson Grove] that day, we were doing tours and we didn't hear any shots."

Rangers also searched the area for shell casings and found none. An interview with the landowner whose cannabis farm on Bald Hills Road was robbed on the same day revealed that the tourists were, in fact, at that site and had lied about their location because they did not want to be associated with the cannabis activity. Morse says they were able to confirm this with the tourists through a third party, although they were reluctant to talk.

Morse says there was a miscommunication between his agency and the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office, which sent out the original press release the Monday following the robbery. Calls and emails to the sheriff's office this morning were not returned.

In her press release, Candace Tinkler, spokesperson for Redwood National and State Parks, underscored that "visitors should not be concerned about exploring the wonders of their public lands."

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Monday, November 13, 2017

NoHum Trustee Faces Censure Over Conduct

Posted By on Mon, Nov 13, 2017 at 5:02 PM

Arcata High School - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Arcata High School
He’s a popular Arcata High basketball coach lauded for setting high standards on and off the court. She’s a social worker and mother of four who volunteered to serve on a Northern Humboldt Union High School District athletic committee. Both became the target of a single trustee who questioned whether they were qualified for those roles during a school board meeting last month.

The reasons appear to circle back to a complaint filed by Trustee Jennifer Knight’s sister after her son failed to make the Arcata High School varsity basketball team last year.

Now Knight is facing a formal reprimand by her fellow board members for what a five-page resolution of censure describes — at times in detail — as an extensive pattern of unacceptable conduct, which includes being disrespectful to parents and staff and using her position to push her sister’s grievance.

Knight canceled a scheduled interview with the Journal last week, noting she believed it was “best to first engage with the Board resolution process,” adding later via email that she was looking to move forward and continue her work with the district.

“In my effort to provide a safe place for all to be heard, I regret that I may have inadvertently gotten overheated and my demeanor was not deemed appropriate,” said Knight, a student development advisor at College of the Redwoods, before the board agenda came out.

Meanwhile, the district is taking rumors of a recall effort seriously enough that staff asked the elections office for a cost estimate, which came back at $7,500 to $9,000 if it was held in conjunction with the June primary.

Registrar of Voters Kelly Sanders said no recall paperwork had been filed as of Monday afternoon.

According to the resolution, Knight is said to have violated 10 board bylaws and policies that require trustees to act in an ethical manner, make decisions in the best interest of the district and the public and to abstain from voting when a conflict of interest arises.

The resolution states that the board “wishes to condemn Ms. Knight’s actions in the strongest possible terms available to it as a governing body” and specifically directs Knight “to abstain from voting on any and all matters which pertain to her personal or familial interests, including matters which relate to her sister’s complaint filed in December 2016, and to conduct herself in a manner becoming a representative of this community.”

While the issue has reportedly been ongoing for about two years, Knight’s conduct came to a head Oct. 10, when she attempted to block the reappointment of popular Arcata High varsity basketball Coach Ryan Bisio as well as JV Coach Graham Johnson by pulling their names from a routine list of hires.

Knight then stunned the room by publicly excoriating parent volunteer Carolyn Perkins at length, calling her “unfit” to serve on a school committee, distributing as “evidence” a nearly year-old personal email from Perkins that Knight somehow obtained that references concerns about her sister’s complaint.

“I hope you never have to experience something comparable in your life, because it was wretched,” Perkins told the board that night in an emotional statement.

She was later appointed to the committee after a second vote because the board failed to take public comment amid the confusion.

Superintendent Roger MacDonald also had some strong words at the meeting, saying he was “concerned about what’s going to happen tomorrow after we have disparaged people in the community that have chosen to come forward and support our schools.” He also noted Perkins and a fellow parent whose appointment’s Knight tried to block were the first to volunteer for the athletics board in six years.

In fact, the athletics committee almost failed to materialize after two trustees — Brian Lovell and Dana Silvernale — abstained with Knight dissenting on the first vote until the point was raised that the board had failed to follow policy and conducted a second round.

Both coaches were also later approved after a special meeting on Oct. 16, when dozens of speakers lined up to support them amid calls for Knight’s resignation or for the board to at least gain a grip on her behavior.

Trustee Brian Gerving, who brought the discussion of a censure to his fellow board members at the Oct. 16 meeting, said he has concerns about what the coaches were put through, regardless of how the situation turned out.

He said Knight’s actions are not only eroding public trust in the district and the board, but set a bad example for students and staff, noting other incidents have “bubbled up over time” involving her and the Arcata basketball program.

“This was definitely the most egregious case,” Gerving said.

In a later interview, MacDonald added that “this is not a surprise and did not come out of the blue," noting that he, past superintendents and other board members have all tried to intervene with Knight without success.

“It’s a distraction from educating our kids,” the superintendent said. “It causes our staff members to wonder. It’s been said, ‘Who’s next?’ I’ve heard that from teachers, from coaches. I’ve heard that from administrators, ‘Who’s next? Who’s going to be the next person there a perceived problem with.’”

The 6 p.m. board meeting takes place Tuesday at the McKinleyville High School library, 1300 Murray Road.
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Sunday, November 12, 2017

TL;DR: Radioman

Posted By on Sun, Nov 12, 2017 at 3:34 PM

Eric Hollenbeck and the hearse he and his crew built for the 150th commemoration of President Lincoln's funeral. - PHOTO BY ALEXANDER WOODARD
  • Photo by Alexander Woodard
  • Eric Hollenbeck and the hearse he and his crew built for the 150th commemoration of President Lincoln's funeral.
Busy week? We’ll help you catch up on the basics of this week's cover story, which details Eureka’s Eric and Viviana Hollenbeck’s efforts to co-produce a play, Radioman, detailing the experiences of war veterans. Read the full story here.

Amy Barnes thoroughly researched cover story is filled with interesting tidbits about the Hollenbecks, Eric’s efforts to overcome the post traumatic stress disorder that he brought home from a tour in Vietnam, Viviana’s efforts to help him and the couple’s extensive work to share what they’ve learned with other veterans, culminating in the theater project they are co-producing.

Here are five quotes from the story, which will give you a flavor for the piece and — hopefully — entice you to read the rest here, which comes with an expanded photo slideshow.

"At some point, every soldier breaks. And when you break, everything's changed in your head. Everything's different."
Eric Hollenbeck, the radioman, describing how war changes people.

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Saturday, November 11, 2017

Uncertainty Surrounds Monday's Public Defender Hearing

Posted By on Sat, Nov 11, 2017 at 5:35 PM

Humboldt County Public Defender David Marcus in his sparsely decorated Eureka office. - PHOTO BY MARK MCKENNA
  • Photo by Mark McKenna
  • Humboldt County Public Defender David Marcus in his sparsely decorated Eureka office.
The lawsuit challenging embattled Humboldt County Public Defender David Marcus’ hiring is bound for a hearing Monday but it’s hard to say what to expect. It could be the decisive moment in the 9-month-old lawsuit, an evidentiary hearing on the merits that ultimately answers whether Marcus meets minimum state qualifications for the post. Or the parties could convene in visiting Judge Marjorie Carter’s court simply to set some future hearing dates.

Local attorney Patrik Griego, who filed the suit on behalf of current and former public defender employees and clients, as well as a few local taxpayers, had asked Carter to schedule the Nov. 13 date for a hearing to determine whether Marcus meets the state qualification of having been a “practicing attorney in all the courts of the state for at least the year preceding” his hire. But in its reply to Griego’s motion, the county is arguing that Griego is trying to hurry the case forward, depriving the county of its right to depose witnesses and research its defense.

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'Brave and True,' A Veterans Day Poem

Posted By on Sat, Nov 11, 2017 at 9:31 AM

An event honoring Korean War veterans at the Adorni Center last year. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • An event honoring Korean War veterans at the Adorni Center last year.

Brave and True

Here's to our veterans old and new, 
who've heard our country's call. 
Those of all religions be, 
of every nationality. 
Even our women fair, 
have come to join the fray. 
Here's to those who've fought and died, 
and those who've come home battle scarred. 
Look kindly down upon them lord, 
where ever they may be. 
For if not for those brave souls, 
who've heard the battle cry, 
America's freedom would assuredly lie, 
tattered and broken, 
the spoils of war. 
Hold them brave and true, 
honor them proud Red, White and Blue. 
For all you've done, 

Local veteran Bob Hager, who wrote our cover story a few weeks back, penned the above poem and asked that we share it with you this Veterans Day, and he joins us in thanking all veterans for their service.

If you’re looking for something to do today to honor the veterans in your midst, check out our calendar listings here, which detail a few Veterans Day events around the county. (And remember, a simple face-to-face thank you goes a long way.)

And if you look out at the gray day and decide you’re better suited staying where it’s warm, we’ll point you to this week’s cover story, "The Journey of Radioman," a powerful piece by Amy Barnes about local veteran Eric Hollenbeck, his battle with post traumatic stress disorder, his efforts to help other veterans and, now, his project to capture their voices.

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