Monday, December 23, 2013

Humboldt Housepoor Holiday Stories from the HUMBOLDT EDGE. Thanks to Deidre Pike.

The Humboldt Edge is a street newspaper about people living on the street. Their December edition brings to reality and humanizes some locals during the holidays.

A gory gash over Martha's nose looks like it needed — but didn't get — stitches. "It's too late for that," her husband George says.

He describes how, the previous night, another woman living in the homeless encampment by the Humboldt Bay smashed her fist into Martha's face. George says he thinks the assaulter was holding some heavy object like a bottle or stick. "She definitely had a weapon."

George and Martha have no phone to call police. They might have been able to ride their bicycles to the emergency room - but not in the dark. "Riding at night is suicide " George says. "You might as well lay down in the middle of the street."

Martha applied antibiotic ointment. She and her partner of 31 years, George, headed to the emergency room the next day.

Martha, born on the North Coast, doesn't want to be photographed and doesn't want her real first name used. Camping out by the Bay isn't safe, she says. Retribution isn't out of the question.

"It's dangerous down there," George adds. "A lot of people do drugs and stuff, methamphetamine. If you don't do drugs, you're an easy target."

"You're not in their clique," Martha interjects.

What about law enforcement?

"Police are always down there but that obviously doesn't stop anything," George says.

To survive on the streets, George says, it's important to keep priorities straight.

"We believe in hygiene," he says. "We take care of our bikes. We take care of our feet. If your feet are sick, you're sick. You aren't going to survive. “

They stay away from drugs.

"We're in our 50s so we're old enough to know better," George says.

The couple doesn't always live in Eureka. They spent some time in Oregon with George's mother before she died last month. But they always come back.

"There's a lot of nice people here," George says.

"And there's also a lot of gangsters trying to rob people for two or three dollars or threaten you with a knife for a bag of recyclables."

He shrugs."It is what it is. This is the real deal when you live on the street."
George and Martha's holiday dream is to find a more secure place to stay."Somewhere safer," Martha says. "I don't care about the weather."

Near Safeway in Arcata, Star Constantine's holding a sign: "It's my 21st birthday."

A person walks up and hands her a dollar.

"Thanks!" she says cheerily. Her red hair's pulled back. She's bundled up in a blue jacket and Carhartts with embroidered hearts. Constantine's husband waits nearby with the couple's greyhound-Great Dane puppy. For the coming holidays, Constantine hopes to get food to - make her own holiday meal with friends.

"I'd like to do something for the kids," she says, referring to travelers staying in Arcata. In June, Constantine and her husband rode from Pennsylvania across the nation with a group of people. "Seven people and three dogs!" she says. The ride stopped in Arcata.
Since then, Constantine has explored the West Coast by hitchhiking, making short trips to Crescent City and to Mount Shasta. She'd like to stay.

In Pennsylvania, Constantine was a certified nursing assistant. When she gets on her feet here, she'll transfer her credentials, she says, and find work.

For now, the couple is couch- surfing and camping at Clam Beach. Constantine makes and sells beaded jewelry.

"Arcata is a wonderful place,"
About 25 people are in line for dinner at Betty Chinn's mobile dining truck on a weekday afternoon. One woman doesn't want to be interviewed about the holidays. She says she won't be with her children and that hurts. She cries. Other women gather around her, offering hugs and kind words.

Lea, 46, sits under a tree with an open 40-ounce Miller and a paperback novel. She calls the novel ii ash. "Just something to read." Because of the beer, she can't get in line for food.

Lea came to Eureka from Colorado Springs in September. She likes Eureka. The weather's better - no snow. "There'd be five inches or so by now in Colorado Springs," she says. "I'd rather deal with the rain."

For the most part, she expects holidays to be like any other day. "1 panhandle and make a little money, buy a couple of beers," she says. "I smoke a little pot. I drink. I read books. That's what 1 do."
Mike Wynn, 47, wants groceries for the holidays. Wynn moved to Arcata for a construction job more than a decade ago. He says he's worked on building projects including the baseball stadium and the Arcata Transit Center. He has children. His oldest daughter must be 30 by now.

"1 probably wouldn't be outside if I was in touch with them, to be honest," he says.
Wynn leans on a cane holding an unlit cigarette and “Any Help” written in marker on a cardboard sign. A man walks over and hands him a dollar.

"God bless," Wynn says.

Wynn can do odd jobs if he doesn't have to walk too far or climb a ladder. He was shot in the leg

four years ago after a disagreement, he says. He can walk about 25 feet without the cane.

"I'm a good mechanic, too," he says. "But I don't have any tools."

Wynn says he's enlisted the help of a lawyer to get his disability checks.

For now, he's making do.

"This is where I get my groceries from," he says, nodding to his cardboard sign.

Wynn has heard of a food pantry in Arcata but doesn't know where to find it. He may attend a Christmas dinner but not if it's held at the Veteran's Hall. He doesn't like the building.

"Holidays are all right," he says. "I'll probably see if a church is doing something."

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

December NCRA meeting. Merry X-Mas.

This month the NCRA met in Marin County at Novato. We received an update on the status of a suit by the City of Novato against the NCRA. 99% of issues have been rectified and freight service is ongoing into Sonoma County. Updates were given on NCRA properties at Ukiah Depot and hopefully full clean up and sale is in the near future.

North Western Pacific Co. Operator John Williams reported Barley was successfully trained from Alberta Canada to Petaluma and will be ongoing now. Mr. Williams shared pictures of the 195' wooden bridge being replaced in 10 days with concrete. Right on time. NWPco turnout problems still being addressed by SMART.

Two pending litigation actions were subjects in closed session. One is the Friends of the Eel River vs. NCRA and the other Citizens Against Toxic Substances vs. NCRA. Sorry, can't divulge anymore on those items yet.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Back to Weekly (Weakly) Wieners report. DJ's in Rio Dell.

Steve and I made a trip to Rio Dell to DJ’s Burger Bar to review the Hot Dogs they serve. They are located at 509 Wildwood Ave. It is worth the drive for an out of the way but not too far dining experience.  

1. Hot Dog-Dog itself kind of bland. Steve had a polish dog that he raved about. Grilled and with everything he wanted.  I again had a chili dog and it had homemade hearty chili and cheese! I had a foot long with a nice bun and it was way filling and good meal. Rating: 4 out of 5

2. Condiments-They serve at your pleasure. Rating: 3.5 out of 5

3. Ambiance-Very Christmassy and 50’s oriented. Small but comfortable. Outdoor seating available. Rating: 3.5 out of 5

4. Extras- Another Hamburger joint that just so happens to serve Hot Dogs. Large menu and they do breakfast during the weekends. They serve fresh from potato fries. Rating: 4 out of 5

5. Parking-Best parking we have run into so far: 4 out of 5

Overall rating 4 out of 5

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Just little life reminders about violence.

Today's Times Standard article was not that big of shock. I had multiple requests over the weekend to post information about the incident and I did not because of the sensitivity of the issue. I am a board member of Humboldt Domestic Violence Services and do not like violence in any form. Mark Lovelace has been a vocal and public figure supporting HDVS services and victims so this is uncomfortable to address. But here are just a few reminders before you say something negative or act physically to a victim:

1, THINK- Is what you are going to say in anger True, is it Helpful, is it Inspiring, is it Necessary and is it Kind? If not, keep it to yourself.

2. Respect Personal Space. Never touch another person if they are not willing and receptive of physical contact. EVER.

3. Whenever angry with a person remember to always keep a 3 foot bubble space from a person so as not to accidently enter anothers space.

There are many other things I am sure all have heard. I know and like both the victim and the perpetrator in this incident and hope resolution will be forthcoming soon.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Hot Dogs done Weekly (Weakly) review! Surfside Burger Shack.

The Surfside Burger Shack at 445 5th Street in Eureka 268-1295 was the next victim of the Steve and Richard hot dog review. They have expanded their business! Lots of room and surf y type setting in downtown Eureka. (Even a game room for the younger peeps.)

1. Hot Dog-Dog itself was just all right. I had a chili dog once more and it had plenty of chili and cheese! I did not like the bun at all but quantity was good. My buddy Steve ordered a Chicago dog and it had plenty of fixings. Rating: 3.0 out of 5

2. Condiments-Very limited but they pile things on your meal. Rating: 2 out of 5

3. Ambiance-Fun and light with great stuff to look at. Rating: 3.5 out of 5

4. Extras-
Lets face the facts: This is primarily a Hamburger joint that serves dogs. And they have great fries and onion rings to compliment. Rating: 4 out of 5

5. Parking-Downtown Eureka on 5
th. Not too frustrating Rating: 3 out of 5

Overall rating 3 out of 5

Monday, November 18, 2013

Another North Coast Rail Authority update. November meeting.

Marin County appointed  J Dietrich Stroeh as a new Director to the NCRA. Former Mayor and City Council Person for the City of Novato. Also on Golden Gate Transportation Authority.

The Redwood Empire Fairgrounds in Ukiah came forward to complain about flooding issues for school rooms they have on the fair grounds that were flooding. They felt there had been a lack of brush clearing in a 650' area of the train track area on their east side.

The clean up on the Ukiah Depot site being done by NWPco looks to have hundreds of thousands of dollars in over runs. The original estimate was $250,000 and now it might take $500,000 to complete. Once the land is deemed clean and cleared for sale the hopes is for a new city hall on the property.

NWPco operator John Williams reported that they had a new contract with Lagunitas in Petaluma for Malt Barley out of Alberta Canada. Around 4 car loads a week.  Other business is predicated on turnouts being repaired by SMART and also the completion of the SMART overall project. NWPco then could provide consistent, regular predictable service. They would also like to extend service north. Mr. Williams says that after 2 and half years of running trains, "We are still considered a start up company."

 An ad hoc committee was created to communicate with SMART. Director Jerry Peters and J Dietrich Stroeh were assigned as they were both from Marin County.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Week 2 of the Weakly Hot Dog (Wiener) Review. Still searching for the best Hot Dog Venue in Humboldt!

My buddy Steve Harris and I took it to old town to visit The Wolf Dawg at 525 2nd Street in the old Vance Hotel Lobby. Proprietor, please turn off the cell phone when you have waiting customers! And just because you are speaking into the cell phone, you do not have to yell loud enough to wake up the ghosts of the Vance family! Not a good start.  

1. Hot Dog-Kind of bland itself. I had a chili dog that came with olives and Fritos. My buddy Steve ordered a Smokey Link which he said was not too hot and he seemed satisfied. Buns were so so. Second straight place lacking in quantity. (People, if you are targeting a Hot Dog eating clientele, stuff em!) Rating: 2.5 out of 5

2. Condiments-Very well stocked variety and convenient. Rating: 4 out of 5

3. Ambiance-Kind of fancy and airy with great old town atmosphere. Play some music people!  Rating: 3 out of 5

4. Extras- Lots of choices with salads and wraps available. Plenty of beer selections and Lime or Straw-Ber-Ritas. Steve had the Mac and Cheese and he loved it! Real silverware! And cloth towels if you preferred over napkins. Rating: 4 out of 5

5. Parking-It is old town. Parking sucks! Rating: 2 out of 5

Overall rating 3 out of 5

After we were sat and eating, proprietor came over and asked if everything was well and made up for the rotten introduction. Really kind of over the top nice for a hot dog joint in a good way.  

Next review: Surfside Burger Shack.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Weekly (or weakly) Wiener Report! Humboldt County search for the perfect hot dog venue.

Steve Harris and I decided to search for the best Hot Dog in Humboldt County. We always joke with each other about Costco being the standard, so we were just going to have to see. The first place we went to review was Northtown Dogs and Delights. They are located on Highway 101 just entering Eureka to the left at 2228 4th St. in North Eureka.

1. Hot Dog-They are from Taylor's out of Cave Junction Oregon. Well I just happen to know Taylor's and happen to be a good friend of Taylor's and Northtown, you do not know how to serve a Taylor Hot Dog. I had mine with chili, which was sparse with cheese.  My buddy Steve ordered a Polish Dog with Coney Island mustard. Well a little splash of Coney Island, as they ran out and filled the rest of his dog with regular mustard. Rating: 1 out of  5

2. Condiments-Very limited. Rating: 1 out of  5

3. Ambiance-Card table chairs in a sparsely furnished eating area. No music or TV. Nothing. Rating: 1 out of  5

4. Extras-The cokes were by the cans and limited. No fries or salads, just blah selection of chips. I am not sure what the "Delights" is. Rating: 1 out of 5

5. Parking-Easy in and out but on 101 corridor. Makes it hairy to cross into the lot. Rating: 2 out of 5

Overall rating 1 out of 5

Steve said this would make a great coffee drive thru location. I told him the location had tried that before unsuccessfully. Selection very small. This establishment might not last too long.

Next review: Wolf Dawg Old Town.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

HCDCC endorsed three candidates that beat incumbents this special election. Trend or anamoly?

When I filled my candidate designation this year I put "Incumbent." It has always been the tried and tested standard procedure of someone running for office. I had a local politico tell me to change it to "Harbor Commissioner" because of the backlash the last few campaigns of voters. Nobody challenged me so I got a free pass this election. Then lo and behold, 3 incumbents went down in flames this last Monday.

The Humboldt County Democratic Central Committee (HCDCC) endorsed Lisa Ollivier for Eureka City School Board, David Couch for McKinleyville Community Service District and Brian Lovell for Northern Humbodt Union High School District. Check out Humboldt County Elections. Lisa knocked off John Fullerton, David took out Bill Wennerholm and and Brian upset Dana Sivernale. All strong incumbents who used "Incumbent" as their ballot designation.

One shocking thing that happened during the HCDCC endorsement process is that one of the candidates admitted to voting for Ronald Reagan in the past! The Demos becoming more tolerant in their aged ways?

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

James Marks (My Dad) on way to setting new US trial record. And not a good one.


Oct. 25th 1979

Herald Examiner staff writer

Last Aug. 30, 225 prospective jurors were brought to Department 101 of Los Angeles Superior Court, the pool from which 12 jurors and four alternates were to have been selected to hear the Angelo Marino Mafia murder trial.

But yesterday, after almost eight weeks of jury selection, court clerk Jeanette Marks drew the name of Soccoro Salsido — the last one remaining from that pool — and still no jury has been named to hear the case.

A new pool of 75 prospective jurors was to be brought into Judge Kathleen Parker's courtroom today, and the monotonous and costly process of jury selection was to resume. Attorneys on both sides said they are still weeks away from impaneling a jury.

Both prosecution and defense attorneys insisted in interviews yesterday that it is not taking an unusually long time to pick a jury, and that they are experiencing no special problems. But court observers said the length of time and the number of prospective jurors dismissed is highly unusual. They said it may eventually rival the current record in Los Angeles County, the second Charles Manson trial, which eliminated 514 prospective jurors over 41 days of jury selection in 1971.

"It's dragging on and on and on," said Ray Arce, director of jury services for the county.

"By the time they're through, it will have taken as long, if not longer, than the Manson jury."

Jury selection has already exceeded the time it took in such other major cases as the trial of Sirhan Sirhan (15 days) and Leslie Van Houten (20 days).

According to estimates by the county clerk's office, the pretrial motions in the case, which lasted from February through the end of August, resulted in court costs in excess of $70,000. Each of the 27 days of jury selection so far is estimated to cost more than $3,200.

The case originated in San Jose Superior Court and was transferred to Los Angeles because of pretrial publicity. So Santa Clara County taxpayers, rather than those in Los Angeles County, will have to foot the expensive bill.

Marino, 55; his son, Salvatore, 31, and San Jose real estate salesman Joseph Piazza, 43, are charged with murder, attempted murder, conspiracy and kidnapping in connection with the October 1977 murder of Peter Catelli and the attempted murder of his father, Orlando Catelli. A fourth defendant, Andrew DiDomenico, 32, is accused of conspiracy, kidnapping and being an accessory to mur­der.

The indictment charges that Peter Catelli was murdered because he had attempted to extort $100,000 from Angelo Marino, the owner of a cheese factory, who is believed to be a leader of the San Jose Mafia family.

The jury selection process is dragging o partly because of the many charges an defendants. And since both prosecutors and defense attorneys are from northern California, the case is being conducted only four days a week to allow the attorneys to return home and conduct other business on Friday:

But one of the major issues of contention in the selection process appears to be the racial makeup of the jury. Yesterday attorney Barry Tarlow, who represents Angelo Marino, asked the judge twice to declare a mistrial because, he claimed, the prosecutor were systematically removing blacks, Hispanics and "young people" from the jury.

By the close of court yesterday, the  prosecution had dismissed 14 blacks and three Hispanics. Tarlow told the judge that prosecutor David Davies "is deliberately using his challenges for keeping black individuals from this jury."

Attorneys generally consider jurors who are members of minority groups and young jurors to be more sympathetic to defendants accused of violent crimes.

Tarlow's motions for a mistrial were dismissed, and Davies later, in an interview accused defense attorneys of systematically removing whites. He said that 18 of the 24 jurors dismissed by the defense are whites.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Homeless and Panhandling in San Francisco and Eureka. Bits and pieces.

The SF Chronicle does a great story on panhandling in San Francisco.

146 people quizzed about their lives as part of a concerted effort to better understand the panhandlers of Union Square, how they came to be on their designated street corners, why they panhandle, what they do with the money, and what it would take to get them off the streets. The Union Square Business Improvement District conducted the survey in the 27-square-block shopping area. Fifty-eight percent of the panhandlers said they've been begging for at least five years despite the wealth of social services available in San Francisco and the city's Homeless Outreach Teams, which patrol the streets daily offering help. Sitting on the sidewalk is no longer allowed under city law while Panhandling in SF. Contradicting the common refrain from city officials who say the majority of panhandlers are housed, 82 percent of those surveyed in Union Square said they're homeless. They said their biggest obstacles to getting a place to live are that they have no job and no income and can't afford rent. Permanent housing, food and job training would help them to stop panhandling, they said. Just 3 percent said they don't want housing - also contradicting conventional wisdom that says many people flat-out refuse offers of housing. "Something's not working someplace along the line," said Tim Falvey, a member of the business improvement district's board. "Either they're not getting connected with services or the services aren't working for them. People do need shelter, and they're not getting it. ... It's an eye-opener for us. "The survey found that panhandling in Union Square is a lifestyle, not a once-in-a-while kind of thing. Fifty-three percent of panhandlers said they beg seven days a week. Sixty percent said they earn $25 or less each day, while 27 percent said they earn up to $50.  Asked to list everything they spend their money on, 94 percent said food. The second most common answer was drugs or alcohol, cited by 44 percent. A quarter of panhandlers said they're alcoholics, and 32 percent said they have a drug problem. Seventy percent of those who fell into either category said they've participated in treatment programs.
Who receives

83% are men
39% have a high school diploma
21% attended some college
69% are single

26% served in the military
70% are 40 to 59 years old

58% have been panhandling for at least five years

53% panhandle seven days a week

60% make $25 a day or less panhandling

94% use the money for food
44% use it for drugs or alcohol

62% are disabled

25% are alcoholics
32% are addicted to drugs

82% are homeless

95% live in San Francisco
Who's giving

80% are Bay Area residents
70% are younger than 45 years old

48% have a household income under $50,000 a year
60% give because they or a family member may be in need someday

61% are concerned about how panhandlers use their money
In Eureka there is a different dynamic of population but I could see some of the same principles applying. Panhandling and Homeless seem to go hand in hand. The burden on services takes a toll when homeless are transient and move ready. There were 71 calls to the fire department for “camps” and 20 tons of debris eradicated just last year.
Some Info on Eureka Homeless and Humboldt County poor from various sources:
60% of homeless in Humboldt County live in Eureka
70% of homeless make less than $1,000 a month
66% of Humboldt Homeless became that way locally
$303 a month is Humboldt’s maximum General Relief. Only 165 people were collecting as of Sept. 2013. Around decade ago there were well over 600 collecting
There are only 1,631 families currently on welfare, down over 400 from about a decade ago
The Transportation Assistance Program (TAP) seems to have helped our area a little. Betty Chinn has reportedly sent around 50 homeless a year back to their home towns.   
Here is the big question concerning homeless and panhandling, “Is it worse than it ever has been?” I would say by simple observation yes, but we need to measure that subject better. “What is the cure?” If I had the answer I could help the thousands of other communities who are dealing with the same issue.
Any of you have any answers?  

Saturday, October 26, 2013

HSU Basketball in for long season.

Perry Price and I went to watch the scrimmage between the current Jack and the alumni. Final score 87-70 old guys. I mean, some alumni haven't played in a decade for HSU. Here are somethings they need improvement:

> Don't force passes creating turnovers!
> Go shoot some free throws!
> The Three's ain't working, take it to the hole!
> Hands up down low, no gimme layups!
> Can anyone on this team set a pick?
> Rebounding and down low length will be a key weakness.

It was nice to see local players Will Taylor, Chris Pender, Parker Farris and Dylan Ingersoll will be on the team. Taylor may find significant time on the court this year. Farris had an off night and I am not sure his shot selection was all that great. Pender and Ingersoll didn't get that much time on the court to evaluate.

I was complaining to Perry about Allen Guei playing the whole game on the point and was wondering why Coach Kinder didn't put someone else in to see how they might do. Well midway through the second half he took him out and I saw why Allen was in all the time, no backup at the point! It seemed there were many on the bench that didn't get much playing time. Don't you think a scrimmage against the alumni would be the time to really check out a players potential?

Freshman Jordan Mackie had some bright spots and some freshmanny type plays. David Howard is a leaper who will be entertaining to watch.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Humboldt Bay the only "High Health Certified" Bay in California!

That means that we have the only California bay that Oyster seedlings may be shipped to other areas. And there is a growing need all over the west coast for seed!

Other little tid bits of Aquaculture information for Humboldt Bay from last Monday's Harbor Economic Development Committee meeting:

1. Currently bay oyster businesses bring in about 9.4 million dollars to Humboldt County. Should greatly exceed 10 million in the next few years.

2. Within the next few years there will be over 110 oyster related workers on Humboldt Bay.

3. The Humboldt Bay Harbor District is finalizing a project that will create "One Stop Shopping" permitting processes for oyster farms to streamline "Creation of Jobs!"

4. The Humboldt Bay Harbor Pilot Aquaponics project is close to successfully growing commercial produce such as lettuce, basil and dill for local grocery stores! Using eatable fin fish sturgeon and trout to create the production link.

5. Upcoming tours of the projects on the bay will give tourists one more reason to stay and enjoy Humboldt County!

HSU President Richmond pointed out that 60% of all food for human consumption is produced from the ocean. To maximize Humboldt Bay's ability is forward thinking for our region.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Samoa/Finn Town/Fairhaven becoming one? Community Service District that is. Manila votes no to annex Samoa!

Last Thursday the town of Manila voted unanimously against annexing Manila with the town of Samoa. LAFCO or the Local Agency Formation Commission has a decision to make in the near future as they are the agency that will have to pencil out whether it makes sense for the Samoa Peninsula Fire District (SPFD) to become a Community Service District (CSD) operating the whole Peninsula from the 255 Samoa Bridge south. This has been an on going topic out on the Peninsula, dating back and even before I was a Director on the Samoa Peninsula Fire District Board. Last week the (SPFD) voted unanimously to continue the process to become its own CSD. This is in partnership with Danco Properties and their plans for a new housing development in Samoa. To build out Samoa, Danco needs the creation of a CSD to fill the criteria of a new water treatment facility and a other community services such as water delivery and Parks & Recreation. Overall plans will add up to 400 new houses. It sounds like the plan is changing its phasing processes. Phase "5" will actually be first phase and start developing on the south end of Samoa near the "Samoa Block" with an added mix of 100 affordable single family residents and apartments this summer of 2014.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

NCRA Meeting Highlights 10/9/13

NCRA Meeting Highlights

A Presentation by NWPco. Operator John Williams began the meeting of the North Coast Rail Authority (NCRA). Basically Mr. Williams updated or gave a progress report on the Ukiah Depot Remediation Project.  The $250,000 project now looks to be around $350,000. Mr. Williams again assured he was going to clean the land no matter the overruns.
It was pointed out in the financials that the NCRA is currently $1,091,184 in debt to in just interest.
There is a log deck in Willits that is putting 1,500 Hem-Fir logs a month into containers and trucking to Oakland for shipment to China to build forms for a dam project.  The may need 3 million board feet of wood for the project and stumpage fees have went from around $300 to over $600 a stump.
A proposal for fiber optic lines in Mendocino County and Humboldt may be coming soon from Golden Bear Broadband to the NCRA.
NWPco Operator John Williams reported a stoppage in service due to a replacement bridge being built. The contractor and NWPco came to an agreement of 10 days for construction, negotiated from an original 18 days. Another 3 bridge’s south of Petaluma are earmarked for replacement in the future and similar negotiations are expected. 
Marin County NCRA Director Bernie Meyers announced he would not be seeking reappointment to the Board and gave a scathing analysis of the conduct of the NCRA as an organization.  

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Pulp Mill coming clean!

The Federal Environmental Protection Agency has taken over the Harbor Districts recently acquired Pulp Mill. They are going to make sure the property is cleaned up properly. The site is considered a SUPERFUND pollution hazard and is on the fast tract for clean up. Then the Harbor District and the local community can put the property into the best use. And yes, the EPA workers are working through the government shutdown due to the urgency of the spill threat to our ocean and bay.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Arkley's Home Poor Meeting. What was that?

So I went to Rob Arkley’s impromptu meeting regarding the home poor and was surprised at what a huge gathering it was. Biggest at the Wharfinger since…..the gala for the Marina Center a few years back. (No I didn’t attend that one, but I drove by out of curiosity) It was standing room only and some were left outside because of Fire Marshal rules. Rob gave a quick introduction and said he wanted to fix the root problems leading to homelessness and create a process for a solution.  He talked of Betty Chinn and Humboldt County Human Service Department and pointed out that ½ the budget and ½ of the workers of the County were part of Human Services Department.  He wants to form a committee to identify what programs are bringing people to Humboldt County and try to find solutions and hold the Board of Supervisors and Eureka City Council members responsible for answers to the issues. Then he passed the meeting on to his secretary Shirley. And she was overwhelmed and had no format to deal with the hour Rob had earmarked for the public to speak and go home to have dinner.

A first speaker came up to speak for the homeless and was not well received and didn’t make much sense.
The next speaker was handpicked, Rocky from the auto shop on 3rd next to the COOP. Said he has had the shop for years near soup kitchen but the last few years he had direct conflicts from transients every day and had witnessed assaults and dog killings. He said these people chose this lifestyle.  He has to pick up garbage every day and has noticed a drop off in female customers. He said he has had no problems with the Rescue Mission right next door to his shop.
Sylvia DeeRoy said that Arkley presented a false premise. Pointed out to Human Services cuts from the 1980’s. Said poverty was the main problem and the lack of affordable housing an issue. She also pointed out addiction and mental health as problems.
Mike Jones had a story of his youth and his experience of delivering papers in the neighborhood. He told of his shock over the recent cross bow murder. He talked about taking the ferry to Samoa to play on the beach and reminisced of a time where you could feel safe and not worry.
A lady named Sheri spoke of her 3 years in the soup line while homeless and her taking advantage of programs to now being on the cusp of graduating from HSU.
Jill McDonald spoke of her 23 years of experience working with old town and Main Street. She is concerned so much of the transients that she and her family have considered moving.
Joel, who identified himself as a Eureka Senior Counselor for addicts, said these people in the streets are human beings that needed to be held accountable for their actions.
One lady came to mic to talk about the Indian Massacre and to point out the intolerance of Humboldt County when they drove out the Chinese.
Another old town business owner (Bev Wolfe?) said she had 17 years of great business, but the last 5 years were horrible and she would have to move. She was tired of cleaning excrement, piss and vomit from her doorway.
Jackie Dueshel  pointed out the positive of community coming together to clean behind the Bayshore mall only to see it in disarray a year later and have transients hassle her while trying to clean this year.
Jeanie from Henderson Center had faith in the community but said this last year had a lot of “Tweaker” issues.
Kathryn said this was “Cause and effect” and we needed to be patient with people.
John Shelter let it be known that every person was a Human being and pointed out his track record for successfully cleaning and hiring Home poor. He did say there were more than usual out there.
Some observations:
There were protesters outside that were blowing whistles to disrupt the meeting, but most of the time they were drowning out homeless advocate’s speeches and pleas.

Not only was the forum unorganized, the protest against the forum was spotty at best.

 Many of the people at this forum were people I do not normally see at any political events.

It is alarming that this subject has such a large impact to cause this much concern.
Has the problem escalated the last few years? I believe it has.

What is the answer? That is a huge question. We need to address little issues before that big things. I have been public in the past of the need to have Social Services put B & B’s out on the Peninsula and behind the Bayshore so Home Poor citizens can at least go to the bathroom in dignity and not cause environmental issues in our coastal wetlands and beaches.

(I had to leave early to check in on softball, so I did miss some speakers.)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

North Coast Rail Authority Meeting 9/11/13

The first order of business at this month North Coast Rail Authority meeting was actually a revisit of a proposed Agreement with Parallel Infrastructure for property audit services to audit encroachments and Right Of Ways (ROW).  Minor changes were made to this heavily worded agreement, but hopefully this will give the district a better understanding of their assets.  The vote was unanimous to approve of the agreement. 

The second item on the conduct of business was possible approval of “Update to Policies and Procedures” for Fee Schedules.  The fee schedules are for property owner’s costs to use the NCRA ROW to access their properties. This would be separate of Parallel’s scope of work.  Some of the agreements date back to the 1920’s and are very minimal and some the NCRA has not received any compensation. Uses for the ROW’s by private owners and public agencies are negotiated on a case by case basis.  Between Windsor and Willits there are 260 agreements. There was a question of what the market will bear or tolerate and whether we were current on the agreements. I asked for this item to be referred to the Property Committee to design a baseline standard boiler plate “Fee Schedule.”
The third item was concerning the sale of11 acres of excess property near the Ukiah train depot. We are trying to sell 4.5 acres of property to the state Administration Offices of the Courts (AOC) to build a new Mendocino County Courthouse. The project has now been whittled down to 3.7 acres. The actual liable entity for the clean-up of the site is Union Pacific, but it was determined the legal action to force them into clean-up would delay the process to non-existence.  The clean-up costs are being paid by North Western Pacific Company (NWPco) and Cal Trans is has been promised the first 10% of the sale to reimburse funds for the original property acquisition.  I asked the operator of NWPco what the threshold was for cleaning up the site. He said there was no threshold and would make sure the land is cleaned up.  The site could be worth upwards of 10 million dollars. A presentation by the NCRA to the California Transportation Commission (CTC) will hopefully move the sale forward in the near future. Much of the proceeds from the sale will go to NWPco for payback debt incurred by the NCRA to the operator of the rail line.
Item four was a request for additional speeder event to the Apple Festival in Fortuna. Mayor Doug Strehl made the motion and I seconded and the motion passed.
NCRA Property Specialist Doug McCorkle reported on the failed TIGER grant for rail expansion. Out of 530 submitted applicants only 37 were awarded.
Operators Report: NWPco Operator John Williams announced that NWPco received the “Jake Safety Award” for short line rail. NWPco has been doing work for SMART south of Guerneville digging 42 inch trenches for conduit. He announced that all other SMART work has been curtailed until well into next year. NWPco has picked up more business in the grain industry, but lags in lumber. They are still operating at a loss according to the operator. The goal short term is expanding service to Cloverdale and then growing to Redwood Valley where the operator has identified substantial traffic base in the form of Lumber and aggregate. Mr. Williams said there is rumblings that SMART may try to expand to Healdsburg. 
Mr. Williams would like to see an excursion train on the Northern end of the line. He felt the least expensive track to do this would be from Eureka to Fortuna. His second pick would be Samoa to Arcata. He would really like to see freight service around the bay but admitted he had not identified product.

Friday, September 06, 2013

City of Eureka looking for help at over $15 an hour!

The City of Eureka is looking for teams for this coming fall Basketball League for adults. League starts in October. They are also looking for Referees and are paying between $18.20 and $22.12 per game based on experience. I have played nearly 40 years in this league!

Thursday, September 05, 2013

State of Jefferson coming our way?

The state of Jefferson is a great discussion subject and has a bit of romantic fantasy, but is this practical? I get a felling this subject matter will come to Humboldt in the near future since Siskiyou County has voted for secession from California due to their perception of non representation at the State government level. Don't know how I feel about that.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Humboldt County Democrats leaderless! And Grumpy!

The Humboldt County Democratic Central Committee (HCDCC) met last night in a HOT packed headquarters. 2nd District Assembly hopefuls John Lowry and Hezekiah Allen were present as well as Eureka City Schools candidate Lisa Olliver and College of the Redwoods trustee candidate Ginger Olsen. Speeches were a given and received well.

Lots of people in the community thinks the HCDCC is a kind of Kumbaya type lefty organization, and nothing could be further from the truth. The only thing we can marginally agree about is that we are all Democrats. What flavor of Democrats is all over the map.  

Eureka City councilperson and HCDCC President Linda Atkins resigned her position due to personal reasons and Vice Chair Milt Boyd expressed his undesire to serve the board as President. Then the craziness ensued. Estelle Fennell, County Supervisor from District 2 and HCDCC member, nominated former labor leader Jim Smith of AFSME. Linda Atkins nominated longtime HCDCC executive member Bob Service and was seconded by member Heidi Benzonelli. What a pleasant surprise! Two great candidates when hope were for anyone to step forward. Both then gave speeches. Bob wants to expand the HCDCC media presence and be active at a state level. Jim expressed his concerns of the financial well being of the HCDCC and wanted to focus on fund raising to help out Democratic candidates. Vote was done by secret ballott. Guess what? The vote was tied! Phillis Seawright made a motion to table another vote until next months meeting. Others argued that there needed to be another vote immediately. After much discussion that vote was tied! So a second vote was taken and the motion passes to kick the can to next month.

I will also note that Julie Timmons is going to organize a separate Democrat of the Year (DOTY)dinner in protest of the proposed Ingomar Club venue.

Treasurer Phillis Seawright officially resigned her position. This is the most unthankful and difficult position a person could have on the HCDCC. She has been threatening this for sometime and had requested for years to have help. She closed her notebook in gesture to being done. Then a check was handed to her for deposit and she said, "I guess I can do this another month."

See ya next month!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Union Victory! Love it when workers win. 31 workers win $247,681 judgement! Thank you Carpenters local 751!

Workers from all over the country were recruited to work on building a new Holiday Inn Express in Eureka. Redwood Coast Hospitality LLC, owned by Shailesh Patel and Jayshree Patel Revocable Trust, hired general contractor Jansen Construction out of Oregon. Jansen then subcontracted construction work to PacWest Contracting LLC another Oregon outfit. Neither contractors are licenced to do business in California. Pacwest hired workers as "Independent Contractors" so they could underpay to the point that they were paid by "piecework" that could actually leave them being paid less than minimum wage. Workers were forced to use their own tools and weren't provided adequate safety equipment. And then to top it off......their checks bounced. A perfect storm of workers being ripped off.

What to do if you are that worker? Humboldt County no longer has a Labor Commissioner locally, and the closest office is in Redding. So that is not a great option. So some decided to visit the local
The United Brotherhood of Carpenters Local 751 office at the Labor Temple. Even though they were not union workers, they knew the union would protect their workers rights! And they did. The local filed a report of labor law violations against the project and won! Not only that, but another subcontractor from Oregon named Lupton Construction working on the project was fined for Cal/OSHA violations.

The investigation was conducted by the California Labor Enforcement Task Force that was formed to battle "Underground Economy." The Department of Industrial Relations release says: "Businesses operating underground generally violate those laws that are designed to protect workers and California's economy. Skirting income taxes, not carrying workers compensation insurance, failing to provide required workspace safeguards and paying employees less than what they are owed are common practices of underground businesses. These underground operations subsequently require lower overhead, giving unfair advantage to the illegal businesses over legitimate, law-abiding employers."

Now you workers! Go sign up to be union! "UNITED WE BARGAIN, DIVIDED WE BEG!"