Thursday, October 30, 2008

Fearless predictions for November 4th 2008!

In June 2008, I was about as close as one could get on the local races. Here I stick out my neck again. And add the presidential election.

President

Barack Obama 50%
John McCain 45%
Others 5%

Let us hope and pray!

Congress and Assembly-

Thompson and Chesbro by many votes.

Humboldt County Supervisor 2nd District

Clif Clendenen-No Party 37%

Estelle Fennell-Democrat 33%

Johanna Rodoni-Republican 30%

I can not see JO/RO educating enough voters or motivating enough to pull this write-in Ballot attempt off. Clif seems to have gained support and Estelle’s campaign seems to have leveled off. I hope I am wrong, but this is my opinion.

Eureka City Council

2nd Ward-

Polly Endert-Republican 53%

Linda Adkins-Democrat 47%

Linda has proven to be an admirable candidate and this will be a close race. Polly seems to have spent/wasted many of thousands of dollars on unnecessary multi-mailers and way too much in Newspaper ads. But just the shear volume of literature, and close North Coast ties will lead Polly to be elected.

4th Ward-

Frank Jager-Republican 55%

George Clark-Democrat 45%

I have said this was a lock for the Democrat in the race, but I have seen many Democrats supporting Frank. Why? Got me. Frank has huge name recognition and most of it is positive?

Arcata City Council (Three seats available)

Michael Winkler-Democrat 38%

Shane Brinton-Democrat 31%

Michael Machi-No Party 28%

Susan Ornelas-Republican 25%

Jason Grow-No Party 9%

Geronimo Garcia-Green Party 5%

Winkler is a lock. Shane, Machi and Ornelas are going to be close. This is my wishful thinking.


Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District

Division 1

Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap-Green 58%

Stephen Davies-Democrat 42%

Kaitlin has been a good district board member that has worked well with other board members.

Division 2

Ben Shepherd-Republican 35%

Edward “Buzz” Webb-Democrat 25%

Tera Prucha-Democrat 25%

Jake Pickering-Democrat 8%

Adrienne Floreen-No Party 7%

Ben did really well on the KEET debates and seemed smooth. He has been on the MCSD for years and knows a thing or two about campaigning. The HCDCC split on endorsing a Democrat may cost a Democrat seating on this board. Still don't know what Jake Pickering looks like. Adrienne looked way angry during the debate.

Division 3

Barbara Hecathorn-Republican 65%

Robert Shultz-Democrat 35%

Robert needed to form a committee and work the streets. Did not see this happen.

All these predictions are my own. I have heard from many in each area and can qualify my choices. Don’t argue with me now, wait and chastise me afterwards. Who out there has the guts to publicly give their unbiased opinion?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Went to the union hall and a meeting broke out!

Actually, I was at the union hall to meet with our local Treasurer and Financial Secretary to pay bills and to put our hall insurance in order. (Special thanks to Greg Conners) But as 4pm rolled around, workers from Evergreen started to show up for a meeting. They were one week off. Our regular scheduled meetings are the first and third Wednesday at 4pm. But it gave those who came a chance to catch up on some information. Here is some of what I know:

Evergreen Pulp, in whatever form they have become, are paying some vendors. To what extent is beyond me. (Why would they be writing checks if they had no intention of doing further business?) Around 20 people remain on payroll. (8 Union Hourly) Our wood chip ramps are being removed as hog fuel to the highest bidder. Once the chips are gone, then construction of concrete ramps will begin. This is a positive capital expenditure that leads one to believe Evergreen has every intention of re-starting.

Insurance Questions revisited: Our insurance coverage will be in place until Nov. 30th. You will need to pay for COBRA if do want your insurance to lap. I am working on finding a provider to will cover the gap at a lower price. I will call all members when I have a time set up for a meeting for the Insurance to be available to answer Questions. I will do my best to contact the Salary employees as well. Hopefully by the 2nd week in November.

Retirement Benefits: For those of you who are eligible for the Defined Benefit Retirement Program, if you elect to start collecting and you are younger than 62 years of age, you will be penalized 3% per year of service for every year you are under 62. To be eligible to even start receiving benefits you must be 55 and have 30 years in or a combination of the two that equals 85. And if you decide to retire, you must terminate your service with Evergreen. So if we do start up and you want to come back, you will start at the bottom seniority wise.

Retirement Insurance: If you decide to retire at 62, you are eligible for Insurance coverage until you are 65 and are then under Medicare. UNLESS, Evergreen closes the Mill Permanently. Then retirees are in the same boat as the rest of the workforce, you will be out of insurance.

Disability Insurance: We have quite a few workers who are on Workers Compensation and State Compensation. Some are assuming their insurance coverage will continue while the mill is down. You are only covered for your pre existing condition! If you walk out your house and are injured on Dec. 1, 2008, you are not covered! Be sure to have health insurance coverage by Nov. 30th at the latest.

Next Wednesday, November 5th at 4pm will be our next regularly scheduled meeting. We will also be electing new officers for 2009.

I will post more information as it becomes available.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Car count. McCain 13 Obama 1.

McCain was interviewed in Detroit and said, " I've bought American literally all my life and I am proud." In real life (Since he deals so much in the fantasy world) he was taken to task about his daughter Meghan's Toyota Prius by United Auto Workers president Ron Gettelfinger.

Obama's one vehicle is a Ford Escape Hybrid and his one car before that was a Chrysler.

McCain's fleet includes an UNAMERICAN made:

2005 Volkswagen
2001 Honda
(Meghan's) Toyota

McCain's AMERICAN made fleet:

2004 Cadillac CTS
2007 Ford Truck
1960 Willys Jeep
2008 Jeep Wrangler
2000 Lincoln
2001 GMC SUV
3 2000 NEV Gem electric cars

Cindy's ride is a Lexus with personal plates that read MS BUD. Cute.

Ok. Ok. I have to admit Robin and I have a fleet of our own that includes a 1995 BMW. But our other 5 cars are American: 2002 PT Cruiser, 1998 Mercury Tracer, 1997 Ford Escort and 2 1985 Ford Rangers. I have had many cars, but only a few were not American.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Perfect day in Humboldt to catch 5 different sports venues! Shane Brinton endorsed by Eureka Reporter!?!?

Went to watch the Al Cooper Softball Tournament at HSU. Had to park quite a hike away. Then had to maneuver through the construction.

There was a big Lacroose Tournament going on at Redwood Bowl. Bright colored teams with sticks. I don't get it.

HSU and College of the Redwoods had a great game going. HSU clung on to a 1-0 lead going into the bottom of the 6th inning. Jessy D'Eliso for CR had pitched a 2 hitter to this point against a team with 3 All Americans for HSU. (Caitlan Klug, Chrissy Motzney and Natalie Gallety?) Kristina Lewis pitched for HSU and looked OK. (Hannah Mullen-Jones is coaching the CR pitchers. With Jessy and Chenone Blake from Hoopa, this might be a banner year for CR in the GVC.

I left in the middle of the next game between HSU and Shasta with HSU one run behind and went to check out the new HSU sports facility. Wow, way impressive. This new basketball court will host 1,900 fans comfortably. The HSU men's basketball team was scrimmaging itself in split squads. There were 5 different local referees splitting time reffing. The HSU team look athletic and fast. But erratic with their 3 point shooting. (Why waste millions of dollars on a facility that only holds 600 more than the east gym? And the old pool wasn't that bad. How about more books and teachers up there? And yes, the parking still is terrible!)

Next I drove to CR to watch the Corsairs against Marin. Here is a scoop! Nick Bennett from Florida had 5 sacks to beat Line Backer coach Tino Romero's old record of 4! Running Back Lydon Rowells was stopped for minus yardage at least 6 times and was injured in the third quarter and sat out for awhile.....and still topped 100 yards in a 21-8 CR victory and a share of 1st place. QB Sergio Allen had a solid game. Local Wide Receiver Ronnie Webb (His dad Ronnie played for this same CR football team over 30 years ago) had three catches and needs more thrown his way. Two of his grabs were diving catches. Freshman Otis Wiley filled in for Rowells a few times and looks like he will have a huge season next year. I do like the "Fast Break" type offense that CR runs, but it seems that Rowells reps are too predictable. They need to find more ways to get him the ball in the open. And the CR football team seems to have a huge injured list! I bet they have nearly 20 players out right now. Why is that? There were some vicious hits in this game, so there may be more for the injured list. In the background I could see the CR baseball team playing South Western Oregon, and it seemed many hits were coming off the bats of SWOCC.

Shane Brinton endorsed by The Eureka Reporter? Robin and I went out for pizza and beer with long time friends. I was brought to the carpet over my written endorsement/Letter to the editor for Shane. (My good buddy is a Conservative Republican.) I shrugged it off and went to the rack for a Eureka Reporter. I asked him if this was his newspaper of choice and if he agreed with their conservative values. He said "yes." So I opened up the ER to the editorial page and had him read, "Young, bright, energetic and realistic about the issues. From hobnobbing with Marxists as a youth, he has come a long way. Today, he could best be described as a progressive who seeks to understand both sides of an issue. Favors light industrial parks for “green” energy businesses." My buddy said he would have to re-access his view on Shane.

Can't wait to see the Times Standard picks.

Friday, October 24, 2008

What is going on with Lee and Man and these subsidiaries? Wise Sense, Joint Creation, Top Honor and Worthy Pick?

Lot's of movement with Lee and Man lately. I can't figure out what they are doing.

China's Lee & Man Paper Manufacturing has sold its two indirectly wholly-owned Colorado-based subsidiaries, which own the US pulp producer Evergreen Pulp, for HK$200 million ($26 million).
The two subsidiaries, HKLM and USLM, have been snapped up by the British Virgin Islands-based firm Worthy Pick Group. Lee & Man said the deal was completed immediately after signing the agreement on October 15. The company estimated the gain from the sale of the assets at HK$1 million.
Evergreen Pulp has a market pulp mill in Samoa, California, with a capacity of over 200,000 tonnes/yr of softwood kraft pulp.
In a press conference in Hong Kong on October 16, Lee & Man's CEO Raymond Lee said the sale was a strategic move, allowing the company to focus on its operations in China and Vietnam.
Vietnam PM start postponed
But the startup of its greenfield mill in Hau Giang province in Vietnam will be pushed back one year from 2009 to the second half of 2010, he added. The CEO had earlier confirmed the delay while speaking at the European Paper Recycling Conference in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on October 6.
The plant will house a 420,000 tonne/yr recycled containerboard machine, PM 15, and a 150,000 tonne/yr bleached hardwood kraft (BHK) pulp line.
The $630 million Hau Giang scheme is a joint venture of Lee & Man and another Chinese firm, Wise Sense Investments, and will be managed by a holding company called Joint Creation.
The Hong Kong-listed Lee & Man has a 75% stake in Joint Creation via its indirectly wholly-owned subsidiary Top Honor Industries, while Wise Sense holds the rest.
Pulp line online at Chinese site
Meanwhile, however, Lee & Man has started commercial production on a 150,000 tonne/yr BHK and bamboo pulp line at its mill in China's southwestern municipality of Chongqing, following successful trial runs that began in late July.
The facility already housed a 300,000 tonne/yr recycled containerboard machine, PM 13, which came online in early July.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Humboldt Port Development. Lets talk.

Humboldt Port Development.

The rail story you don’t hear:

On February 11th of 1998 one of my best friends was the engineer of a train hauling product from Northern Humboldt to the southern portion of our rail system. Word was out that a slide was occurring between Dos Rios and Bell Springs. Nick’s step father “Fergy” Ferguson told Nick to abandon the rail cars at Island Mountain, and those cars are there to this day! Nick took the Locomotive north to wait for the time to return to repair the line. Mind you, this had been pretty much Standard Operating Procedure for over 85 years. The repairs needed to restore service were nothing more than they had been up against in past years or not anything they hadn’t seen before. Nick said it would have taken about 2 days at the least, and no more than a week or two to resume service at way under 1 million dollars. Unfortunately, the North Coast Rail Authority had contracted out rail services to Railways Inc. and CEO Ron Darling had announced they were going bankrupt. Nick and other rail workers were actually working for free, in hope that the rail would find money to pay the employees sometime in the future. When it became obvious there would be no payroll checks forthcoming, people left to find new jobs. Many workers filed claims for past payment due from Railways Inc…….including the CEO Ron Darling. Wild stuff.

So this interruption in train service for just ten years ended up being a huge contributor to the train downfall. We went from a rail system needing less than 1 million to continue a service that had only short interruptions in the winters for decades, to a totally stagnant rail system that is dilapidating yearly. New figures thrown out there for functional/actual train service is now over 1 Billion dollars! How and why did this happen? It seems the North Coast Rail Authority has become its own beau racy that has money coming in, but where is it going out? Staff? Repairs? Studies? Directors? Attorneys? Got me. I am looking from the outside in. This is a loosely wrapped observation and I am sure others out there who know more particulars. Please refute my facts publicly and not anonymously. I will monitor those out.

Who is Worthy Pick? Evergreen Pulp mill's new owner.

Lee & Man Paper (2314) said it disposed the entire interest in USLM Acquisition, Inc. and HKLM Acquisition, Inc, (”USLM & HKLM”) at a consideration of HK$200 million. USLM & HKLM were paper pulp manufacturers in the USA. The gain from the transaction was estimated at about HK$1 million and the consideration was decided based on the net book value of the assets of USLM & HKLM. The transaction was completed on 15 October.

Raymond Lee, CEO of Lee & Man Paper, said, “The profit margins of USLM & HKLM have been dwindling significantly because of the continuing increasingly production cost in USA. With what’s best for long-term development of the group in mind and the pulp line in Chongqing plant has started production, we decided it is the right time to dispose of the business. The move has freed resources for us to concentrate on growing our containerboard and pulp businesses in China with lower production costs.”

“Worthy Pick,” the concern that purchased the pulp mill (USLM & HKLM), is a shell holding company based in the Virgin Islands with links to Lee and Man. Because of the downturn in the pulp industry and because of the recent credit crisis, Lee and Man needed cash fast - hence the sale. Sources say that because Worthy Pick has inside links to Lee and Man, they will sell it back to L&M when the global pulp market improves, perhaps three to six months from now. Stay tuned.

"Worthy Pick" -- listed as incorporated in the British Virgin Islands on Jan. 10, 2008 -- is believed to be in the paper manufacturing business, according to the Hong Kong exchange filing.

Why would they invest in a Pulp Mill with the market so bleak?

SINGAPORE, Oct. 20, 2008 (RISI) - The Asian pulp market remains in freefall, with no sign of the bottom in sight. Market players are at sixes and sevens, unsure when the slide may end.
Contract prices for October orders are still under negotiation in the region. But suppliers have offered to slash them by $70/tonne for bleached softwood and hardwood kraft pulps.
They have not yet decided what prices to offer for unbleached softwood kraft pulp or bleached chemi-thermomechanical pulp grades this month. But these are expected to fall as well.
Regular buyers attributed the weak pulp conditions to stagnant paper and board demand in the region.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Evergreen Worker stuff.

There has been plenty of discussion on the blogs concerning our status. Check out Sound investment or irresponsible debt? by Bill Holmes of HighBoldtage and EVERGREEN PULP: Closing for good? The Humboldt Herald. Be sure to check out the comments.

I have been in contact with local labor leaders and will be meeting with some tomorrow over proper protocol for Evergreen workers to enter local union trades. I encourage workers to hope for the best but be prepared for the worst. This may be the time to really consider using the training available to have a new vocation. When/if the Pulp Mill starts, you will have to make a decision on where to go career wise.

I have also been in contact with a local insurance provider who may be able to write insurance to fill the gap of our unemployment for under $200 a person as opposed to the over $500 for Cobra. I will be calling the membership when I have a meeting set up. We have until Nov. 30th unless I am able to have Attorneys get us an extension per WARN ACT violation.

I have had local financial experts examine the financial transaction of the sale of Evergreen (Lee & Man Paper Manufacturing Ltd.) and what I am hearing so far is not all positive.

To top it all, I am sure you all have received your 401k Quarterly statement from Principal Financial Group for the 3rd Quarter. I lost $4,600 this last three months and have been losing over $1,000 per month for the year. (Well over $10,000 this fiscal year) Don't even want to see my loses for the 4th Quarter of 2008. Most of my account is in Large U.S. equity. (High risk)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Evergreen Pulp to start in a few months! As a new company. Evergreen Pulp?

Positive News: I have been assured this by Evergreen CEO David Tsang. He said Lee & Man has every intention to re-start the plant in a window of 3 to 6 months into the future. He pointed out the fact that Lee & Man has spent millions in upgrades and have until recently paid their debts orderly. They have a cash flow issue that should be taken care of soon with a change of banks. Local vendors have been paid in full and some partial with what cash flow we have left. We have plenty of customers lined up for the future once our pulp goes from warehouses to customers.

Negative News: Evergreen has a shipment delivery that is being held up with a Temporary Protection Order or lien by local vendors who have not been paid in full. The shipment is estimated to be worth 6 million dollars. The vendors are owed over 2 million and are protecting their interests. Evergreen may also be in violation of the The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) and owe 215 workers either 60 days pay or 60 days work. And if this shutdown becomes permanent, Evergreen/Lee & Man owes 800 hours pay per our labor agreement, severance to many hourly employees.

Employee Dilemma: What do you do? If you take advantage of the services available through Humboldt County services and are in a training program to be re-introduced to the workforce in the form of a new job, you will have to make a decision whether to go back to Evergreen, if the Pulp Mill starts in the middle of your training, or try your hand at new vocation. And you have to make that decision right when the Mill starts up! Which Career will you choose? Quick, how will you feed your family and pay the mortgage? Going to be tough for the younger folks.

Insurance Dilemma: As of November 30 (Unless legal counsel find the Warn Act violated.) workers will be out of health insurance and can choose to purchase insurance through COBRA . It is kind of pricey: $558 per month for individuals, $972 per month Employee and Spouse or Employee and Child and $1436 per month per family. So if you receive the max unemployment amount of $1800 a month to live on with a family you have $364 to pay for rent/mortgage and food. That dear friends, is a reality check. Now you can search for a independent insurance carrier to bridge that gap while you are uninsured, but they must meet the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requirements of proof of insurance, so there is no unlap of insurance on workers with pre-existing conditions so they can be put back on Evergreen's insurance roles. I have been actively searching insurance carriers to meet these requirements more cost effective.

Employee Information: I have had many calls from workers and employees coming up to me asking questions. I have been shocked to hear how many keep track of things through this blog. So let me cover some easy questions to answer concerning unemployment paperwork: You are represented by the Association of Western Pulp and Paper Workers local 49. Phone number for the local is 442-2289. Evergreen's address is #1 TCF Drive, PO Box 218 Samoa Ca 95564. Feel free to call me with any questions at 445-3432. I am not working you know!

Upsate: Pulp Mill Dumped. Pulp mill company sold, CEO says move is to refinance. I hope this all is good news.

Atkins/Clark campaign goes negative. Man I hate that.

I heard a radio ad for the Atkins/Clark campaign that was very negative against the Endert/Jager campaigns. The later was identified as a collaborative effort and attacked as such, when people in the know realize that is not true. I just don't agree with campaigns focusing on the others weaknesses and not just focusing on what they can bring positive to the council. And the Atkins/Clark ticket has many strengths. I don't think they needed to stoop to this. Just my opinion.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Humboldt County displaced workers RAPID RESPONSE team greets huge Evergreen crowd.

The safety conference room was packed to the gills with Salary and Hourly Employees and their spouse's to find out what programs are being provided by the county to get workers back to work. One ironic thing in this process was the presenter was Sandy Neal, the ex-Pulp Mill Manager for Louisiana Pacific! How to apply for unemployment was covered by Anne Crossan. Steve Hughes covered training, resume writing, relocation assistance and stuff like that. Linda Cohen from Coast Central offered services on what to do with our 401k plans, and Sandy covered information for counseling, technical assistance and small business management. Amy Brewer from the Humboldt County Personnel office explained the process to apply for County jobs.

The County is the largest employer in the area with 1,900 on payroll. If unemployment locally hits 10% (Most likely will be by next month) the tax base will take a pounding and there will be county budget cuts in the future. Not a good option.

The Response team put out at least 19 pieces of literature to consider in less than 2 hours and I felt it was kind of overwhelming for some of the workers. But it was better than going out of work naked in knowledge.

One of the issues that the Response team could not answer was the status of the workers. There are programs available to workers if they are permanently laid off for long term re-training, that are not available if this turns out to be a short term lay-off. As union president, I have contacted counsel to give us an answer soon. I will see what options workers have to re-locate to other pulp mills or union affiliates.

Could be a long winter. Long and cold.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Chris Kerrigan called me today...........

Eureka City Councilman Kerrigan called me this morning and asked if I would give an update on the status of the pulp mill at a Rally for the Clark/Atkins campaign at the Labor Temple. I am not attached to any campaign in Eureka so I figured it wouldn't hurt anything to go and hear the two Democrats speeches and also get a chance to talk to 4th District Supervisor Bonnie Neely. When I pulled up, Bonnie was just getting out of her car at the same time. I gave her a short update concerning Evergreen Pulp Mill and she assured me that she was in contact with Patty Berg's and Mike Thompson offices about what actions to take. Then Bonnie shared a piece of information she had and I was floored. I am waiting for conformation and will have to do some investigation but I am quite alarmed. (Bonnie's information sources are endless. I thought I was updating her, and here she has something I should have seen coming. If you work at the Mill and want to know what it is, call me. I don't want to go public with the information until I see proof with my own eyes.)

The crowd there was good for a Saturday afternoon. Chris made introductions and Bonnie spoke to the crowd. She was well received and spoke well, as usual. Chris then introduced me and I gave a quick synapse on what was going on at the mill. People came up after to offer their condolences and offer help for the holidays. That was nice.

George gave a great speech. I did not know he had it in him. He actually ignited chants from the crowd and this past union organizer was impressed. He made it no secret that he does not like this Republican administration. Linda's speech was more calm but focused. They both hit all their talking points and charged their supporters to get active. (And no, they did not corner me or pressure me to help in their campaigns.)

Oh, and the sign thing, their campaigns are about to blanket Eureka. I have already said the Clark/Atkins campaigns will have a huge advantage by focusing on Democrat voters and identifying them as endorsed by the HCDCC. But having the extra advantage of endorsement by all the largest local union organizations will make them tough to beat.

Then there is the wild card..........I know many people in Eureka and have talked candidly, without political loyalties to any Eureka City Council race camps. I don't have any poll numbers, (I guess Polly Endert does though.) but word out there seems to suggest Jager has a good chance for winning, and the Endert/Atkins race will be close. Non-Scientific of course. I still say the two Democrats are the people to beat.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Shane Brinton at Arcata Arts Alive!

City Council candidate Shane Brinton will hold an informal meet-and-greet event on tonight during "Arts Alive" in Arcata. The event will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. at Prosperity Real Estate, located at 839 9th St., near the Plaza. And he did. Shane Brinton for Arcata City Council. I feel Shane will be a great addition to the Arcata City Council.

This last Wednesday Arcata City Council candidates weigh in on issues on a KEET forum. Shane was far above all the other candidates with addressing pertinent issues for the City of Arcata and giving solutions. Michael Winkler did OK but seemed tense and nervous. Susan Ornelas seemed like she was comfortable but is she a Liberal/Conservative? Michael Machi came across all right. Same old. Jason Grow has a future in politics, he surprised me with his candor. Geronimo Garcia was entertaining and did bring up points from his perception from the streets. Entertaining anyways.

I feel Shane will bring a great dynamic change to Arcata government. He is a social liberal with fiscal conservative tendencies. I think he is able to leave his politics "at the door" and react to issues without partisan pressure. He has shown that as a board member with the Northern Humboldt Union High School District and I know he will continue this at the Arcata City Council level as well.

So if you have an extra $170 (Max amount allowed in Arcata races) laying around earmarked for a political candidate for the Arcata City Council race or you have a high profile/traveled sign placement, please call Shane's campaign.

As far as "Arts Alive Arcata" Robin and I went around the Arcata Plaza and were constantly pan-handled to the point of almost ridiculous. I mean, when you are stuffing your face with food or smoking or drinking and asking for change, I am not feeling overly generous. And normally I am an easy touch. I want to help people who need help and this makes picking those out hard. Shane and I argued over which "Arts Alive" was better, the Arcata or Eureka venues. I argued for Eureka, because it is the best. Hands down.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Leo Sears, Patrick Eytchison, Paul Pitino and Sir Elton John sightings at HCDCC headquarters? Is it close to a full moon?

Went to the HCDCC general meeting last night and was helping put decorations away and saw every phone manned for the the George Clark/Linda Atkins campaign. Anti Pulp Mill Green Party activist Patrick Eytchison was on one of the phones. I wanted to tell him we were closing the mill for awhile, but thought better of it and didn't.

Leo Sears and Paul Pitino were at the meeting looking for endorsements on tax initiatives for their cities. In Leo's case, he was promoting Measures D & E for Eureka and Paul was pushing Measure G for Arcata. Both garnered unanimous endorsement.

Tera Prucha and Edward "Buzz" Webb were present to seek the endorsement for the Division 2 seat on the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District board. Both are Democrats who seem to be great choices and we argued back and forth, but neither were able to catch enough support for endorsement. A third Democrat in the race, Jake Pickering, was not there.

Today I was helping with a mailing for fund-raising at the HCDCC headquarters and many people were stopping in looking for Obama material. It seems as fast as it is coming in, it goes back out again. Anyways, in walks a dude that looks like Elton John! He says his name is Reginald Ferguson and he is a representative of Sir Elton John and was looking for Obama stuff. I asked what he was doing here and he said he had grandchildren in Humboldt County. I then asked if he had any demo tapes. He said no, but he left a snazzy picture of his alleged boss with an autograph. Just another day at the HCDCC headquarters!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Evergreen announces Temporary (Hopefully) mill closure and mass layoffs.

Our union standing committee met with Evergreen company officials and they broke the bad news to us. Evergreen will no longer be purchasing wood chips to process into pulp and so there will be a mothballing of the mill until the pulp market picks up. This is the first time in the history of the plant that there has been a complete stoppage of buying of wood chips that I can remember. And I have been there nearly 30 years. Looking through the seniority list, I am still not even in the top 40 seniority wise. So our workforce has been pretty stable through the last 4 decades.

It is sad and hard hitting seeing how these economic times have come to affect Humboldt County workers. By us closing, truck drivers bringing in chips will be laid off. Container drivers will not be coming from Oakland. Chemical drivers will not show up. It will ripple through our local economy. Don’t know what else to say. Bummer.

Monday, October 06, 2008

George and Linda want new wage ordinance.

Two candidates suggest raising minimum wage! I was kind of shocked that Frank and Polly were against such a modest bump. "It’s a great idea,” Jäger said, “but it’s a job killer.” But he did not justify his reasoning. In this case, I will just disagree. I feel a living wage ordinance would be a good idea. We can argue the amount all you want. I was encouraged and surprised to hear George go public that he paid his employees over $3 an hour over the minimum when he was a business owner, and he seemed able to stay in business.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Evergreen Pulp wants reduction of workforce and wages!

Kind of shocking news for most, but not for the workforce. We have seen the company cut back on small items like linen service to the purchasing of essential materials such as wood chips. Evergreen seems to have a cash flow problem.

Our parent company Lee & Man Paper has went from a 52 week high of $37.00 a share to as low as $3.58 a share on the Hong Kong stock exchange. They had plant closures due to the Bejing Olympics, and now the pulp market has went soft as well.

Locally, our union workers have been asked to take a 15% reduction in wages and to be prepared for temporary closures with layoffs of production workers. Along with this, the company has announced a reduction in hourly staff from 165 to 145.

The only way for there to be a reduction of wages is for there to be an election of the bargaining unit (our union body) and a majority agreement to accept a pay cut. We are currently under a binding labor agreement (Labor contract) with Evergreen until June of 2009.

I personally have issues with this request, as Lee & Man has reported gross profits of 1.4 Billion dollars on March 2007 and 2.1 Billion dollars on March 2008. (Lee & Man Paper Manufacturing Ltd. (2314.HK): Financial Statements - BusinessWeek) No savings for a rainy day? And I have locally witnessed many dollars wastefully spent in speculative operational ventures that have produced nothing but an abundance in scrap metal. Ultimately, the workforce might be requested by Evergreen to make a sacrifice of their agreed upon wages. Hopefully we will have a quick resolution.

Johanna Rodoni has huge mountain to climb in the 2nd District.

Johanna Rodoni Write-In Campaign for 2nd District Supervisor, Humboldt County is going to have many obstacles. First, her campaign is assuming they will be able to garner the votes that her late Husband Roger had back in the primary vote. If that 37% decides to vote for Johanna, they will have to actually write in her name and fill the pertinent bubble to show they are voting for her. Not as clear cut as some might think.

In 2004 Donna Frye, a city councilperson for San Diego mounted a write in campaign for Mayor and won! Until the votes were challenged and ballots that did not spell her name correctly or have the bubble properly filled in were thrown out. So even when the intent was clear that voters in San Diego were voting for her was there, she still lost.

So Johanna's campaign has a two fold problem, one is to educate the voters to spell her name correctly, and two, making sure they fill the bubble. Sounds easy, but it is not. Absentee voters who get to take their time in voting will be the most likely to vote correctly, and I am sure her campaign is focusing heavily on those people. But people who hurry to the polls and feel rushed to vote are not as likely to take the time to make sure they correctly vote for Johanna. I predict that she will not receive over 27% of the vote. (Taking into account that 10% less will vote for her than Roger just because of the write in hassle.) Even if I am wrong and she pulls out a majority victory, those challenged votes will come into play.

Now where will those votes go? That is the big question. I would like to think that Estelle will have a 10% jump, but is that reality? Does that much separate Estelle and Clif ideology wise? I am going to guess that each will have a 5% bump and the final Tally will most likely come down to this:

Clif Clendenen 40%
Estelle Fennell 33%
Johanna Rodoni 27%

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Biden vs Palin.

Biden came across as the definite best information source. Palin hit a high point when she made a comment that she is not part of the Washington Machine and can't understand why politicians would vote yes on one thing and then no on the same thing later. She made it clear she was not a Washington insider. (Hey Sarah, Bridge to no where!) Platform, Talking points and attacking points. She did well. Asked policy procedure substance wise, nothing. "You Betcha. Get back to ya!"

Obviously Biden could have ate her alive fact wise. But he did not. Kind of weird really. He was in a no win zone.

KEET debate for the 2nd Supervisorial District.

Many people probably missed the debate last night due to Suddenlink cable outages. Robin and I watched it on an old Black and White portable TV with an antenna. Johanna Rodoni came out strong in her opening statement, but seemed confused when answering questions and even a bit nervous. Estelle Fennell was pretty consistent and well spoken all debate. Clif Clendenen seemed to be well prepared by memorizing his opening statement, but I could see he lost some of his points and had to end abruptly. When Code enforcement was brought up, it seemed that Estelle had the best answer that was agreed upon by Clif and Johanna had trouble answering. I thought that this would be her strong point. When the General plan options were brought forward, Clif was the only one that identified his preference.....kind of. He chose plan A or B or maybe A- and B+. Johanna and Estelle were evasive. Overall I thought that Clif and Estelle were about equal, and that Johanna lagged way behind. But this is a nerve wracking venue. The 2nd District has a tough choice.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Suddenly-Unlinked again!

I don't have to remind most of you that we are vulnerable to outages like we are having today in Humboldt! "Suddenlink, we are disconnected!" Oh, yes, I am using dial up.