by Judy Hodgson, Editor and Publisher
I had hoped to have a resolution to report this month regarding our allegation that the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors violated the Brown Act April 3 by inviting a local contractor, Tom Dinsmore, into closed session to hear his advice on the selection of a new planning director. (See May's publisher's column.) However, a letter dated May 15 from the county's contract attorneys -- Mitchell, Brisso, Delaney & Vrieze -- asserts that there was no Brown Act violation and that our "concern that unauthorized members of the public were invited ... is simply incorrect."
While not naming Dinsmore specifically, attorney Nancy Delaney acknowledged that "persons with official county titles" were invited into closed session. We don't dispute that fact. Dinsmore is an alternate on the Planning Review Committee, so I suppose he has a title. But according to legal counsel at the California First Amendment Coalition, advisory committee members have no more rights to be in a closed personnel session than do other members of the public -- press included.
We will be pursuing this issue and will report back in a future edition.
Last month's cover story, "The New Majority," elicited one of the strongest responses from readers we have had in seven years of publication. Most callers and writers expressed appreciation (See Letters, page 7). Others called in with new information and story ideas which we intend to follow up on.
This month's cover story on Humboldt County's community of fine furniture makers is appropriately titled, "Value added." The term is one used in economics to indicate taking a resource of little value and, by adding labor and talent, creating something of much higher value. It's a story that embraces both art and economics.
Elsewhere in this edition, Wally Graves writes the final chapter -- a happy ending -- to the story he wrote and we published more than two years ago on Iwo Jima. As you may recall, a North Coast World War II veteran had in his possession a Japanese flag he brought back from that conflict. The flag has been returned to the family of the dead Japanese soldier who had carried it into battle. The story made headlines earlier this year in many of Japan's leading daily newspapers and on national television there.
The flag's return took two years' labor and lots of luck both in Japan and here on the North Coast. Thanks to Arcata's Frank Schmidt for contacting Japan and to three translators who worked on the project: Taku Tojimbara, Kagoshima, Japan (formerly of Arcata); Kumi Watanabe Schock, Eureka; and Yoshiko Hirose, Tokyo.