Monday, September 18, 2017

County Warns Employees Personal Info May Have Been Compromised

Posted By on Mon, Sep 18, 2017 at 5:39 PM

Humboldt County Courthouse - FILE
  • file
  • Humboldt County Courthouse
The county of Humboldt just sent a letter to all of its more than 2,000 employees, warning that their personal information — including driver's license numbers, social security numbers and bank routing information — may have been compromised.

According to the letter, it’s unclear how many county employees this affects.

In the letter, which is signed by Sheriff William Honsal and County Administrative Officer Amy Nilsen, the county states that the sheriff’s office received an anonymous tip that led to its serving a search warrant in Trinity County, where it recovered “several file boxes” of county documents, including payroll records.

Honsal told the Journal that the tip came via a Trinity County sheriff's deputy who had been approached by a resident there who said he'd recovered what appeared to be Humboldt County payroll records from a residence. The Trinity County Sheriff's Office then alerted Humboldt County on Sept. 7, and Honsal put an investigative team on it that readied a search warrant for the residence in question.

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Sunday, September 17, 2017

TL;DR Drunk in Public

Posted By on Sun, Sep 17, 2017 at 10:02 AM

PHOTO BY ERIC MUELLER
  • Photo by Eric Mueller
Didn’t have time to read this week’s cover story? We get it. Summer just disappeared in a blink and now it's time to get ready for one of those famous rainy Humboldt winters. If you'd rather spend the weekend winterizing the house than catching up on current events, we put together a quiz from week's cover story, "Drunk in Public," with charts!

TRUE OR FALSE? It's illegal to be drunk in public.


FALSE. California's public intoxication law — Penal Code Section 647f — says that to meet the legal threshold, a person must be so intoxicated that he or she presents a danger to his or her own safety or the safety or others, or be obstructing the use of a street, sidewalk or other public way.

TRUE OR FALSE? We have a lot of people being arrested for being drunk in public.

TRUE. Of all arrests made by all local law enforcement agencies in 2017, 21 percent were of people for being drunk in public. Almost one-quarter of all arrests in 2016 — 24.1 percent — were 647fs. And in 2015 — the last year for which statistics are available through the California Attorney General's Office — we arrested people for public intoxication at a rate of more than three times the state average. In fact, in 2015, Humboldt County accounted for 3 percent of the state's public intoxication arrests despite having just 0.4 percent of its population.
In 2015, 7 percent of California's adult arrests were for public intoxication, compared to 23 percent of Humboldt County's. That year, Humboldt County accounted for 3 percent of the state's public intoxication arrests though it is home to just 0.4 percent of the state's population.   - SOURCE: THE HUMBOLDT COUNTY SHERIFF'S  OFFICE, THE CALIFORNIA ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE AND THE U.S. CENSUS.
  • Source: The Humboldt County Sheriff's Office, the California Attorney General's Office and the U.S. Census.
  • In 2015, 7 percent of California's adult arrests were for public intoxication, compared to 23 percent of Humboldt County's. That year, Humboldt County accounted for 3 percent of the state's public intoxication arrests though it is home to just 0.4 percent of the state's population.

TRUE OR FALSE? We have a high rate of drunk in public arrests because we have a college nearby.


FALSE. Our analysis of the data reveals that most of these arrests are people who are what some call "chronic inebriates" — people arrested over and over again for alcohol or drug related offenses. Of the 182 August arrests the Journal analyzed, almost exactly one-third — 56 — were of repeat offenders, a handful of people arrested twice or more in the same month for public intoxication.

"The majority of those we're talking about aren't somebody that got too drunk on their 21st birthday, that's more the exception than the rule," says Arcata Police Chief Tom Chapman. "The normal is the chronic inebriate, cycling through over and over and over again."

Repeat offenders: 56 of the 182 drunk in public arrests are the same 22 people (one third of the arrests). - SOURCE: THE HUMBOLDT COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE'S BOOKING RECORDS.
  • Source: The Humboldt County Sheriff's Office's booking records.
  • Repeat offenders: 56 of the 182 drunk in public arrests are the same 22 people (one third of the arrests).

TRUE OR FALSE? Jail is the best place to sober up.

FALSE. While law enforcement officers are often the only point of contact for chronic inebriates, they and others agree that correctional facilities aren't the best treatment option for this public health problem. Each arrest also takes an officer off the street for at least an hour, and up to four or six hours if the person needs to be seen at the hospital. Eureka City Councilmember Kim Bergel and others are currently looking at establishing a sobering center in Eureka, where people who just needed to sleep it off could be dropped off by officers without legal ramifications. There, they would be monitored by trained staff and offered access to services. Support for a sobering center seems to be universal among those affected by this issue.
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Saturday, September 16, 2017

Trump Tax Return Bill Moves to Governor's Desk

Posted By on Sat, Sep 16, 2017 at 5:09 PM

Mike McGuire
  • Mike McGuire
The California Legislature has passed a bill by North Coast Sen. Mike McGuire requiring presidential candidates to publicly release five years of tax returns before being placed on Golden State ballots, sending it on to Gov. Jerry Brown and, potentially, putting him in an awkward spot.

The bill, which McGuire authored in the wake of President Donald Trump’s stunning victory last November, one Trump achieved while bucking decades of tradition and refusing to release his tax returns. If signed by Brown, McGuire’s bill would force Trump to decide between running in California and publicly disclosing his tax returns in 2020.

On the Senate floor earlier this week, McGuire argued that Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns means his business interests are unclear, leaving it hard for the American public to decipher whether his decisions are aimed at lifting up all Americans or simply enriching himself. “This legislation will help make transparency great again,” McGuire said of the bill, which has since passed the Senate, the Assembly and the Senate again on largely party-line votes.


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Local Law Enforcement Leaders Promise to Protect Immigrants

Posted By on Sat, Sep 16, 2017 at 8:19 AM

1222afce_true_north.jpg
Every pew in the small white United Methodist Church at the corner of Del Norte and F streets was filled on Monday evening, with people standing in the back aisles and sitting on plastic chairs in the overflow room. Many fanned themselves with programs. Spanish speakers wore headsets provided by the Humboldt Area Foundation, listening as an interpreter translated presentations by a variety of speakers, the culmination of many conversations between people in the immigrant community and leaders in the True North Organizing Network about how to best protect and serve undocumented people in the community.

The evening opened with a song by the Arcata Interfaith Gospel Choir, introductions and prayers led by Methodist Pastor Kathryn Dunning and Wiyot Tribal Chair Ted Hernandez. The True North Organizing Network, a regional organization that began three years ago, has been facilitating conversations with marginalized communities on the North Coast, convening in February of 2015 to present findings from what it called “the Season of Listening.” Among the problems identified and discussed at that 2015 meeting were concerns from Latino and undocumented people in the region that they were being targeted and/or harassed by law enforcement.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

House Says No to Sessions' Asset Forfeiture Plans

Posted By on Wed, Sep 13, 2017 at 4:19 PM

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. - GAGE SKIDMORE/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons
  • U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
The House of Representatives has just said no to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ attempts to lessen restrictions on taking money and property from people suspected but sometimes never even charged let alone convicted of a crime — a practice called asset forfeiture.

Read the Journal’s previous coverage about the controversial legal procedure in the March cover story “The Trump Card” here.

According to reporting in the HuffPost and The Hill, bipartisan amendments attached to a government spending package — expected to be voted on later this week — would prohibit the Justice Department from using federal funds to relax limits put in place by the Obama administration.

The move takes aim at Sessions’ July order to unravel those controls, an action he described as being “especially for drug traffickers” in prepared remarks for a speech he gave that month before the National District Attorney Association.

Sessions has notoriously said that marijuana is “slightly less awful” than heroin and that "good people don't smoke marijuana."

“With care and professionalism, we plan to develop policies to increase forfeitures,” Sessions’ remarks read. “No criminal should be allowed to keep the proceeds of their crime. Adoptive forfeitures are appropriate as is sharing with our partners.”
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Stanford Project Looking For Humboldt Voices

Posted By on Wed, Sep 13, 2017 at 10:42 AM

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • wikimedia commons
Across the vast swaths of California, there are different tells — certain turns of phrase or inflections used in everyday conversation — that can reveal quite a bit about where a person was raised.

From the, like totally, stereotypical rising lilt of Valley Girl speak (along with the gratuitous use of the word “like”) to the reference style many in this far-flung corner of the Golden State embrace — using simply “101” in describing our local highway — the way we talk can speak volumes.

Interspersed with those linguistic influences, the places we grow up help shape the lens through which we see the world.

Arriving this week to explore those facets of Humboldt County are a group of researchers from Stanford University. In town until Sept. 21, they want to hear what lifelong Humboldt County residents have to say about their community and the rest of California — as well as how they say it.


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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Coroner's Office Seeks Help to ID Man Found in Trinity River

Posted By on Tue, Sep 12, 2017 at 2:36 PM

coroner.gif
The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office is looking for help in identifying a man whose body was found in the Trinity River near Hoopa on Monday but appears to have been in the water for one to three weeks.

The man, who is believed to be between 30 to 40 years old, does not match the description of anyone reported missing in or around the Trinity Valley area, according to a sheriff’s press release.

While there was no evidence of injury, an autopsy has been scheduled for later this week to determine a cause of death.

The man, who had short reddish-brown hair, a mustache and beard, was found wearing gray Avia brand shorts, a SKMEI brand wristwatch and Romeo boots. He was 6 feet tall.

Press release from the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office:
On September 11, 2017, a male adult was found deceased in the Trinity River, Hoopa. The identity of the decedent is unknown at this time. Because of the condition of the body, fingerprints have not identified this decedent. It is estimated he was in the river for one to three weeks. No evidence of injury was seen. An autopsy is being scheduled for later this week to determine cause of death.
No known missing persons in the Trinity Valley match this decedent in either Humboldt or Trinity counties.
This decedent had short reddish brown hair and a well-kept short reddish brown moustache and beard. His age is estimated at 30 to forty years old. He is approximately 6’ 0” tall. His weight could not be estimated. When he was found, the decedent was wearing grey Avia brand short pants, and Romeo boots. He was wearing a SKMEI brand wristwatch.
Anyone with possible information regarding this investigation is encouraged to call Deputy Coroner Charles Van Buskirk at 707-268-3755.

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Monday, September 11, 2017

Police Chief on Shooting: Suspect Was Wanted, Officer Lucky to be Alive

Posted By on Mon, Sep 11, 2017 at 5:29 PM

Ervin Sweat Jr.
  • Ervin Sweat Jr.
Twenty-six-year-old Ervin Eugene Sweat Jr. was wanted on a pair of warrants and facing imminent arrest when he stepped out of a Ford truck and opened fire on police officers, initiating the gunfire exchange that killed him, Arcata Police Chief Tom Chapman said at a press conference this afternoon.

According to Chapman, Sweat fired at least two shots at the officers from a semi-automatic .40 caliber Smith and Wesson pistol, one of which struck Humboldt State University Police Officer Louis Altic in the upper thigh. Altic and Arcata Police Officer Matthew O’Donovan returned fire, with all nine of their shots hitting Sweat, who was later pronounced dead at Mad River Community Hospital.

Chapman and UPD Chief Donn Peterson both said Altic is lucky to be alive, noting that the bullet narrowly missed the femoral artery in his right leg, with Peterson saying a surgeon described it as a “miracle.”

“We all feel very, very fortunate to have him with us still,” Peterson said of Altic, who has served as an officer for more than a decade, having moved to UPD from the Eureka Police Department a couple years ago.

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Sunday, September 10, 2017

TL;DR: What You Need to Know About the $2.5 Million Verdict Against the County

Posted By on Sun, Sep 10, 2017 at 11:44 AM

This week's cover is a drawing by Daren Borges. The headline, 'The Hollow Men,' is a title of a work by his favorite poet, T.S. Elliot.
  • This week's cover is a drawing by Daren Borges. The headline, 'The Hollow Men,' is a title of a work by his favorite poet, T.S. Elliot.
Busy week? We’ll help you catch up on the basics of this week's cover story, which touches on Humboldt County's jail, homelessness, drug addiction and mental illness. Read the full story here before you dive into a Facebook comments debate.

This week the Journal took a deep dive into the recent $2.5 federal court verdict against the county of Humboldt and the life and death of Daren Borges that preceded it. Here are five things you need to know.

Daren Borges (right) with his mother, Stephany Borges. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • Daren Borges (right) with his mother, Stephany Borges.
1. Daren Borges was a real human being with people who cared about him. Born with a hearing impairment that slowed his development of speech, Borges grew to love language. He was a poet and committed many of his favorite works by T.S. Elliot to memory. He was an artist who drew on anything he could find — envelopes, scraps of paper, even paperwork from the Humboldt County jail, where he  stayed frequently. Borges also had schizophrenia, which developed in his late teens and seems to have controlled his life in many ways until his death at 42. He also appears to have had a methamphetamine addiction, which ultimately led to his death, when he took a potentially lethal dose just days after being released from the jail. But through it all, his family loved him. Days before his death, Borges wrote his mom a letter telling her he loved her and expressing his excitement at talking to her soon. When his phone was found after he died, it had just one number programmed into it, listed under the name “mom.” His sister Sofia told the Journal about her brother: “I don’t know if I’ll ever feel love that unconditional (again).”

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Saturday, September 9, 2017

Arcata Police, Witnesses Describe How a Fight Erupted into Gunfire

Posted By on Sat, Sep 9, 2017 at 8:30 PM

The taped-off crime scene at bar row on the Arcata Plaza. - THADEUS GREENSON
  • Thadeus Greenson
  • The taped-off crime scene at bar row on the Arcata Plaza.
Officers were approaching a parked car that they believed contained a man suspected of brandishing a firearm early this morning, when a 26-year-old man exited the vehicle and allegedly fired at least two shots at them, hitting a Humboldt State University officer in the leg and prompting the officers to return fire, fatally wounding the suspect.

According to an updated press release, at least 11 shots were fired in the exchange, which occurred on Arcata’s bustling bar row at about 1:40 a.m. According to witness accounts, the street was packed with people.

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