Thursday, March 29, 2007

Journal's Heidi Walters call Humboldt's workers unworthy?

Interesting perspective by Ms. Walters: North Coast Journal March 29, 2007 : ON THE COVER : TITLE I am not so sure I agree with the premise that there are tons of good paying jobs around Humboldt County. I see Evergreen as an anomaly. The average worker at the pulp mill make well over $40,000 a year compared to the around $25,000 by the average Humboldt worker.

It seems that workers are more fussy now than before. I seem to see more of the "that's not my job" mentality. I have talked to others who do not want to work shift work in any form. There has to be some give and take to make decent wages. Young workers seem more and more to feel entitlement to working conditions they have not earned through seniority.

Maybe I agree with Heidi more than I realize.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Humboldt County Red Cross celebrates 90th Anniversary!

The Humboldt Chapter of the American Red Cross Welcome to the Humboldt County Red Cross is Celebrating the 90th Anniversary of service to our local community on April 29th at the Adorni Center. Suggested Tickets donation is $10 dollars at the door. Food, music, silent auction and fun! Music will be preformed by local band Nice and Easy.

Tickets may also be purchased ahead of time at the American Red Cross office in Eureka at 406 11th St.

If you have time to help volunteer for said event, contact the Red Cross at My wife Robin and I are helping the 90th Anniversary Committee. Brenda Dennis is the Committee Chair.

This has been a public service announcement. By Marks!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The UC system needs finance reform from within. More Porking!

University of California regents do not plan to stop a UC operated loan program that gives professors home loans for as low as 3%. The state has spent 1.3 billion so far, and are now experiencing a state shortfall money wise and is hitting individual colleges students for rate increases. The second person to take advantage of this loan opportunity was the executive vice chancellor and provost of UC Davis. Yeah, that type really needs the money break. Supposedly the program pays for itself. I would like to see the books. Facilities Administration - Supplemental Home Loan Program

Saturday, March 24, 2007

More Pork than a Hog Farm. The Iraq War Funding Bill.

The Appropriations Committee approved of the Iraq war funding bill 37-27. It passed the house 218-212 this past week. There is a lot of added pork to this funding proposal that will help California farmers (What the Iraq war money has to do with California farming is not a real mystery, this money tried to force hard line Republicans in the valley to support their constituents.) Some highlights for Cal farmers are $1.8 billion in part that helps crop disaster in San Joaquin. $20 million for clean up of freeze situations. $25 million for spinach growers. $60 million for salmon fishermen. $1.4 billion for livestock producers hurt by natural disasters and $263 million for dairy producers………We have to bribe the Republicans in the Valley to stop this war? How can people keep supporting this illegal occupation? We toppled Saddam. We organized an election. We trained their security. We helped redo some of the infrastructure. We are entering our 5th year there. It is time to leave and save our troops for better causes.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Road trip all done.

Eight days on the road and 2,500 miles later, we arrive back home in time for me to show up for a Basketball game tonight against Murphy’s Market. We only had 6 players so I had to play more than usual. Ron denHeyer (My 6’6” buddy who uses Kettle Bells for exercise) scored 37 points to lead us to a 100-81 win. Dave Norton scored 31. I had 5 points and was exhausted from the start.

Robin and I started last Thursday driving to Woodland so Robin could attend a seminar Friday, and I could hang with my buddy Brad and go to Wiener Works in Sactown. It is a must for the dog fans out there. (14” of heart plugging ecstasy with piles of chili cheese fries!)

On Saturday my sister Michelle and her Husband Patrick Dietler renewed their wedding vows (25 years together) in front of many relatives and friends. Kids galore! We all went to the Spaghetti Factory for a rowdy reception. It was great. Lots of family and love.

Sunday Robin and I were going to drive to San Diego before heading to Phoenix. The weather report was not good, so we decided to head straight to the desert. Nearly 12 hours later we made it. Robin grabbed a coupon book at one of the rest stops we were at and we called an 800 number for a Ramada motel for $59 with a hot breakfast. We upgraded a little but were surprised to find a nice room at a great centrally located area. And we are talking full hot breakfast buffet! Eggs, sausage, waffles, toast, fruit, drink the whole thing. We went to dinner that night at Lone Star Grill and had an outstanding meal.

On Monday, I checked on line for spring training tickets and was kind of sticker shocked. I told Robin I would take my chances at the box office or scalpers. We went to Phoenix Municipal Stadium to watch the A’s play the Padres and I could not see where to park to buy tickets. I double parked and Robin took over the wheel and I told her to drive around the block. I bought 2 great tickets for $20 a piece and went back to the corner to wait for Robin. I got an earful from one of Phoenix finest police officers about my illegal parking maneuver and he threatened me with a ticket. I asked him where I could have parked to avoid this, and he pointed to the handicap parking area. Wow. Not in California anymore. The A’s lost but we saw many hits and HR’s. Tons of fun, but it was way hot. At one time we registered 99 degrees on our cars temp gauge.

Tuesday we went to Surprise to watch the Giants play Texas. When we approached the box office, I asked a guy where could park to buy tickets and he showed us an easy access area. I was offered a ticket to buy from a scalper who must have been in his seventies. Kind of funny actually. Usually they are young guys out here. The parking was free in Surprise! They have a volunteer group of 6,000 people called the Sundancers who help in the area civically. They help at the park doing traffic control and act as greeters. We saw 5 home runs, one of them by Barry Bonds. But the Giants lost.

Wednesday we spent the day in Scottsdale checking out art and sculptures. Oh, and we spent some money out there. We did the touristy type stuff. They advertise free trolley rides and we checked out the schedule and the stops on a map. Robin and I stood where a stop was supposed to happen, and they drove right by. I went to another spot the map showed and waved for a trolley that was empty to stop. He waved me away and drove up the street. I waved Robin to follow me as I chased it down to the next stop, and finally saw the signs designating drop offs. We got on the trolley (Only ones on it) and got a drive and a half! This guy almost hit cars and stuff all over! And he was not following the maps layout! After riding a few blocks he pulled over and said “I am taking 6 minutes off now.” The trolley in front of him was pulled over and a lady came over to BS with the guy. Another person came up and asked where the first trolley was going, and it was not the same way we were heading. Weird stuff. Our trolley ended up reversing our path and ending where we started. We jumped off a very bizarre trip. We went to lunch at the Red Tomato salad bar buffet and it was way good! That night we watched the A’s play the Royals in Surprise. We had lawn tickets and it was a great game. The A’s won 11-10 and Mike Piazza and Nick Swisher hit HR’s.

Thursday morning the weather turned bad. When we left it was raining and thunderstorms lighted the valley of the sun. It rained pretty good nearly to the California border. Robin is the consummate traveler. We drove over 750 miles with only breaks to gas up. She read and I listened to talk radio. We finished the trip today.

Can’t wait until we get to go next year!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Eureka Reporter is whinning correctly. Basketball update.

How many millions of tax payer dollars will the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors have to waste before the people of Humboldt County ask for accountability? The Eureka Reporter - Article $300,000 for Tammy Falor, Over $600,000 for a flawed Redevelopment process and well over $500,000 and counting on Tooby Ranch fiasco! And answer to nobody! Hide behind the cloak of "Closed Session" and of course, the threat of litigation under strict (BS these rules are trampled all the time) guidelines of the Brown Act. Times-Standard Online - County appealing land decision

Closed sessions are contentious and their legality is always questioned because guidelines are not set in stone! Give me a break! Our tax dollars are on the line and wasted.

Oh yes Mr. Marks. If you have a gripe about how we do business at the county level, get proactive!

Yes, I was not happy and ran for the Supervisor office of my district. And lost. I guess not as many people care.

The mighty Samoa Athletic Club Basketball Team is 2-1. We played Big Louie's Pizza tonight and won by 2 points. Ben Horton and David Norton were great tonight in a battle against Vince Zinselmeir. We tied for the City Championship last year with this team. My goal was for no turnovers by this old man relieving Horton and I met that. Between both teams we had over 40 fouls. It was a rough game.

Both teams were good sports though, and I thank Eureka Parks and Rec for the venue.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Bev's is closing! Say it ain't so!

The Eureka Reporter - Article What am I going to do? Where else in Eureka can you get a gut-buster breakfast of this magnitude? I was willing to put up with the inconsistent service for the mega portions. I did hate the times they "ran out" of essential breakfast stuff like, oh potatoes, chicken fried steaks, bacon and whatever they were short on for that particular day. Not the best managed place, but I miss it much already. You have to remember my rule, "quantity over quality." Back to the Woods Boss at Stanton's!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Ida Honorof. A belated thanks from this Pulp Mill worker.

This will be kind of a weird post. A pulp mill worker praising Ida. I feel guilty writing this too late. Times-Standard Online - Consumer activist Ida Honorof dies

I have talked to many workers at Evergreen Pulp in the past about this subject. Radical environmentalists vs. Radical Corporations. We need both to survive.

Ida Honorof was a one woman environmentalist wrecking crew in the 80's locally. She had moved up here to Humboldt County to be close to family and was concerned about the two Pulp Mill's emissions on the city of Eureka. Mind you she was in her 70's and one person. She started an activist process that literally cost Louisiana Pacific and Simpson Corporations millions of dollars to address the issue of Dioxin in the pulp processes. LP rallied us workers to show up at packed meetings, that Ida had forced at the Eureka Municipal Auditorium, to protest her actions. My wife and I attended fully in LP's corner for fear of our jobs to support the companies action. Ida changed all that. She calmly explained and outlined the dangers to the community that the pulp mills were causing, but also gave action plans and solutions. (At least that is a short synapses)

Simpson could see the writing on the wall and in 1992 closed their Fairhaven plant instead of adhering to the chemical processing changes that came from Ida's lobbying. LP took a chance at becoming a innovator in the pulp market and invested untold millions to become the first Chlorine Free (Dioxin Free) Pulp Mill in North America. They eventually sold the plant to Samoa Pacific who went bankrupt and Stockton Pacific (same board of directors) who sold the company bankrupt to Chinese outfit Lee and Mann.

I will tell you that Ida effectively changed my view from Bulldog for the company to Watchdog for the environment. And Ida in essence saved our jobs at the pulp mill! If we had continued making pulp with chlorine processes we would have shut down years ago! So here I publicly thank Ida for my job. It was a lesson I shared many time while I was a union organizer. Do not be paranoid of environmental activism, it may be for your own good!

Lord knows the same case can be made in light of the Palco fiasco!

I am thankful that Evergreen seems to be responsible in the area of environmental compliance through media information I receive. Times-Standard Online - Mill pollution pact reached: Evergreen settles with environmental groups The Eureka Reporter - Article

Damn! Ida, I wished I had told you earlier how you changed my perception of Company vs Environment. May You Rest in Peace. You were a hero.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

$289,000 buys you nothing in Humboldt County! Tammy Falor resigns. Richard Marks offers resignation at Evergreen!

I would sure like to hear the rest of this story.Times-Standard Online - Time for answers Why did she leave? Certainly there has to be people out there that know more.

But since there might be a trend........I hear by offer my resignation as of today with a payoff of $189,000 from Evergreen Pulp. $100,000 less than the county payoff to Tammy Falor mind you. I feel this is a bargain considering nearly 30 years of service and multiple Golden Shovel awards. It is time I moved on to bigger and better venues such as the Tofu Shop or maybe Toma's in Arcata.

Just for the record, after working nearly 90 hours last week, I have cut back my work week hours this week to probably 76. Need that rest you know. Still looking for bodies at Evergreen.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

NY Times supports workers rights!

The New York Times has come out in support of the workers right to organize. The Right to Organize - New York Times It is time to try to reverse the trend of corporation anti-union harassment. In the 50's unions represented 35% of the total workforce. There are new estimates showing current levels closer to 7%. President Bush has threatened to veto this Employee Free Choice Act in the form of Bill HR 800 Search Results - THOMAS (Library of Congress) that was passed by the House of Representatives last Thursday.

I have first hand witnessed the underhanded tactics that an employer will use to threaten or confuse a workers choice to become a part of a collective bargaining unit. National Labor Relation Board conducted elections sway heavily to corporations favor. It is time that the trend changes or at least that a fair playing field is established.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Monday musings.

I worked yesterday with fellow operator June Sullivan at Evergreen. She had just got make the night before from watching her son "Hop" Sullivan lead the College of the Redwoods baseball team to a double header sweep of Shasta College in Redding. These games were supposed to be held at CR but rain forced the team to travel over the hill. Hop had the game winning hit in both games and went 5 for 9 for the day! Hopefully he will play for the Humboldt Crabs again this summer.

My buddy Ron denHeyer has been preaching to me of the advantages of working out with "Kettle Bells." Kettlebell Training Exercises Ron is a very agile 6'6" engineer for Cal Trans nearly my age. He looked pretty limber on the basketball court last Friday, so I might have to try this too!

What do y'all think of the bill being introduced to the state Senate creating a nest egg for children in California to save for college or a down payment on a house? I think it is something we need to keep a close eye on to see what loop holes may have been created. It sounds kinda good, but I am a little skeptical. Daylife / Bill Would Give Calif. Children $500

Or how about this Assembly Bill 183 that would require every student to register to vote as a condition of receiving a diploma? That would make things interesting in future elections I would think. Any thoughts?

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Reality check. I think I am getting old. A Basketball Diary.

The Eureka Recreation open adult Basketball League is in full swing. Last year my team won a championship, but we lost quite a few players this year. (Our team is Samoa Athletic Club, a small business I own holding softball tournaments.) Mind you these league players range from 18 years and up and I have played in this league for over 30 years. So I am at a disadvantage. I did recruit some younger players I play with at Cal Courts to help try to even the competition. Two of the players were recent all county high school basketball players at Eureka High (Ben Horton and David Norton) so I think we will be in good shape. Our first game we played Maple's Plumbing and lost a hard fought battle. I think the final was 77-71. Ex-Logger and all county player Josh Hash a great game against us. I heard he will be playing at CR next year. I think he will be great there. I should note that one of our players, Jason McGuire, a teacher at Eureka had a technical foul called on him for hanging on the rim on a 180 reverse slam dunk attempt with two defenders near by. It looked impressive though.

Before the game I volunteered to work out at Evergreen shoveling wet sawdust for 8 hours. I then went to Cal Courts with Robin. There I met my buddy Ed Fregoso and we did some weightlifting. We were doing sets of 10 pull downs pyramiding up to 170 lbs. And push-ups to boot. I decided to pass on the squats because I was going to play. Oh, I was a hurting before the game. I had 6 points but was over matched on defense. I just could not keep up with the speed of the game. It was kind of frustrating. I kind of look at Basketball as a dance of 5 teammates that need to be in tune with each others strengths. I was the clod stepping on toes.

But the beer was cold and the pizza was fine a Big Louie's afterward. So all was good in the end. Hopefully my game will get better as the year goes on. I will keep you posted.