For the curiously aware of Humboldt County…
By Skippy Massey
SNIPPETS, RUMORS, HEARSAY MURMURS, AND THE LINKS:
MISSING MONEY: After being alerted by the Yurok Tribe, the Del Norte District Attorney’s office issued warrants Thursday for two Eureka biologists and a former Yurok tribal forestry employee suspected of embezzling over $900,000. It’s alleged the trio submitted false invoices related to spotted owl research following the tribe’s discovery of missing items during an inventory search.
The Times-Standard has updates by Megan Hansen and Thadeus Greenson this weekend:
Saturday, February 25: Court documents outline how three biologists allegedly used an elaborate system of fake invoices, false purchase requests and electronic bank transfers to embezzle more than $900,000 from the Yurok Tribe during a three-year period in ’Court Documents Outline Alleged Embezzlement from Yurok Tribe- Former Yurok Tribe Forestry Director Still Wanted on $1 Million Warrant’
Sunday, February 26: When news spread Thursday that a pair of respected Eureka biologists were arrested for their alleged roles in an elaborate embezzlement scheme, the reaction was stunned disbelief: ’Shock, Disbelief Follow Arrests- Biology Community Has Trouble Digesting Embezzlement Allegations’
Moral principle is a looser bond than a large stack of easy cash.
EPIC SETTLEMENT for attorneys and steelworkers. The California State Assembly approved a $5.5 million dollar payout Thursday to the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) settling legal fees for their 2008 landmark victory against the Pacific Lumber Company and the California Department of Forestry. $3.5 million will go to attorneys who worked on the case and $2 million goes to the United Steelworkers union as plaintiffs. The bill awaits the Governor’s signature.
Pacific Lumber, MAXXAM, and Charles Hurwitz were unavailable for comment. They were nowhere to be found after skipping town, evidently.
LAND GRAB GRANTS: The North Coast Journal reports the state Wildlife Conservation Board approved two major grants of nearly $2 million acquiring lands protecting riparian habitat. The City of Arcata received a $650,000 grant to acquire 22 acres expanding the 793-acre Arcata Community Forest and the Northcoast Regional Land Trust nabbed $1,228,750 for 1,622 acres just east of Willow Creek. They’re just not making land like they used to.
HUMBOLDT, WASHINGTON, AND WEED: Daniel Mintz of The Arcata Eye reports that County supervisors Lovelace and Sundberg met with federal Department of Justice (DOJ) officials on their recent trip to Washington DC. No doubt tired of being stonewalled locally by Northern California’s U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, Mr. Lovelace and Sundberg reportedly ‘established an ongoing dialogue’ with her Washington boss about the locally unpopular enforcement actions against medical marijuana. If you haven’t noticed, Humboldt’s got a good business thing going on. Mr. Mintz has more to say in his article, ‘Supes Give Cannabis Gripes to Feds’.
MORE CITY MONEY: The Eureka City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to direct staff to draft applications for $2 million in California Community Development block grants. The applications request funds for an east-to-west railroad feasibility study, formulation of a business-friendly plan for the City, a first-time home buyers program, and over a million dollars for the new Open Door Community Health Center on Tydd Street. The applications will be brought back to the council for final approval at a future meeting, the Times-Standard reports. With redevelopment monies dead in the water, Community Development block grants are looking better all the time.
IN ‘N OUT: The Eureka Police Department is accepting applications for the Chief of Police position while interim Chief Murl Harpham considers retirement after 55 years of service. Egads. We’re not sure we’d want to do anything that even feels good for that long. The City fired Police Chief Garr Nielsen after four years on the job in a controversial move that sparked a public outcry from some sectors. Since his firing, Nielsen has filed a claim against the city seeking damages in excess of $10,000, alleging it violated his contract by failing to give him annual performance reviews, merit pay increases and other benefits.
MEAN STREETS: Death and kidney damage by a thousand ruts, cracks, and crevices. It may not be sexy or exciting or interesting, but we hope the City of Eureka finds the time and money in their busy day for a basic priority: repairing the deteriorating streets. Calked, cobbled, and patched over the years, they are a complete and disgusting mess, with potholes, chuckholes, sinkholes, crack holes and black holes abounding throughout the Fair City. The roads are so poor the City can’t even pay attention. Don’t defer any longer from properly fixing and maintaining them. That’s what our taxes pay for. Or so they say.
MEANER STREETS: “One hundred pounds soaking wet, Felix Omai (age 57) doesn’t strike terror into most people. But last fall during a solo Occupy Movement protest she frightened a CHP officer so badly, she says, that he ‘just about punched’ the camera she was trying to photograph him with back into her face. She says her cheekbone was sore for weeks afterward. By the end of the encounter, Omai had broken ribs and was transported to Eureka jail,” writes Redheaded Blackbelt’s Kym Kemp.
While cooler heads could have prevailed on both sides, no one deserves to be treated or injured this way from what we read. We can also appreciate the fact that Felix is refusing to be bruised and battered, shanghaied and fried any further by the legal wheels of justice that are turning.
Ms. Kemp asks what society is gaining by having law enforcement respond so forcefully to a 57 year old, 100 pound woman hanging bedsheets on a bridge in her article, ‘Bedsheets on a Bridge: Protests Meet Police in an Occupied America’.
Ernie gives his take, too, in ’Omai, Felix, What Have You Wrought?’
THE GALL OF IT ALL: The Bayshore Mall has a new owner. After emerging from bankruptcy in 2010, General Growth Properties , the second-largest mall owner in the United States, announced it would “spin off” 30 of its malls under the ownership of a new company, Rouse Properties. Eureka’s Bayshore Mall made the list. General Growth chose the selected 30 properties because they have similar “opportunities,” company officials insist. A high vacancy rate has plagued the mall in recent years but the coming of Wal-Mart to Eureka is a marriage made in heaven, many believe. When the going gets tough, the obese will go shopping for cheap stuff.
We still haven’t forgotten that City officials blatantly omitted the very existence of WalMart to citizens until the cat was finally let out of the bag, as first reported here in the Sentinel. The City Manager and Council still haven’t explained why they were so silently mum on the matter, pretending it didn’t exist, they didn’t know, or you simply don’t need to know. It sets a terrible precedent. Public officials and city managers may be wise to keep a secret, but not half as wise as those with no secrets to keep.
Let’s run the People of WalMart one more time. You know it’s got a catchy tune that rings home.
CR STANDS FOR Continuously Reprimanded: The problems at College of the Redwoods have been going on for years but the longstanding CR Board of Trustees doesn’t seem to get it. CR may lose its accreditation in January of next year. What does that mean? Ryan Burns cuts to the chase in his North Coast Journal article, ‘Edge of Oblivion’, saying that unless CR gets it’s act together:
“…Chaos would ensue. Class credits from CR would no longer be transferable to four-year universities; attendance would plummet; government funding would evaporate. It would be the doomsday scenario, and for a college that serves more than 9,000 students across a district the size of Maryland, the fallout would be devastating.”
Perhaps it’s better to have loafed and lost than never having loafed at all?
FLAKE AND BAKE: The Arcata Eye reports 69 jobs and millions of dollars were lost with the recent closure of Arcata’s Humboldt Flakeboard manufacturing plant. This leaves the City of Arcata with two challenges – recovering the money it loaned and preventing the plant from falling into prolonged disuse.
BENBOW LAKE ENDANGERED: California State Parks officials are considering the permanent removal of Benbow Dam because the cost of maintaining the aging structure and complying with environmental regulations has become prohibitive. The removal of the dam means the loss of Benbow Lake, a popular tourist attraction and recreational site for 80 years. To re-install the seasonal dam, State Parks must renew its permit every five years. But the cost of the permit and required studies are estimated at $6 million dollars — and with no guarantee it would be approved.
At the same time, the Benbow Lake State Recreational Area is slated for closure July 1. The trick for finding solutions, we believe, is what Sacramento legislators have been telling us for years. Stop thinking of it as “your” money.
WE’RE IN THE MONEY: The U.S. Highway 101 bypass around Willits received its final permit last week, paving the way for construction of the $200 million bypass project on 1,670 acres of right-of-way– as soon as the California Transportation Commission designates funding. The project will ease Highway 101 traffic around the town of Willits avoiding congestion and stoplights, reducing delays, and improving safety. Merchants are looking forward to having Main Street return back to normal, according to the Willits Economic and Development Department.
Life is too short for traffic and the longest journey begins with a turn of the ignition key.
HOME SWEET HOME: Home prices fell to their lowest point in more than 10 years in January but that helped to lift the pace of home sales, according the National Association of Realtors report. Home sales jumped 4.3% in January. The median home price in January fell 2% from December to $154,700. That’s the lowest price reading since November 2001, before the run-up in home prices that became known as the housing bubble. New home starts by builders have been rising, according to an industry survey. A large inventory of home in foreclosure still hangs over the market, serving as a drag on the price of existing homes.
HOME SWEET CRUDE: Have you noticed the price of gas lately? Bloomberg reports oil prices are fluctuating near a nine-month high, due in part to the geopolitical tensions with Iran that continue to simmer. In contrast, Wednesday’s Energy Department report shows that U.S. crude supplies rose 1.35 million barrels, or 0.4 percent, since Feb. 17. The addition would leave supplies at their highest level over the last 5 months.
Curiously enough, Humboldt County leads the way by sporting the highest gas prices in the nation, prompting County Supervisors sending a letter pleading for petroleum relief to none other than the President of the United States. Might as well start at the top, they believe. Some old-timers will remember officials and citizens asking the State Attorney General to investigate high gas prices 25 years ago– which went suspiciously nowhere and remain unanswered to this day.
They used to tell us that demand was too high and domestic refining capacity was too low, and that was what was driving the cost of gas and diesel fuel here in the US. The fact is, today’s domestic demand is at a 15 year low for gas and diesel, and due to expanded exploration during the Bush and Obama administrations the country has too much oil and too much refined fuels…
…There is no domestic shortage of oil, gas or diesel. There is no shortage of refinery capacity and there is no shortage of manipulation by the main stream media trying to manipulate the US public into thinking that we need to drill in sensitive coastal waters and national parks to avoid $5-dollar a gallon gas. If we stopped the exports, prices would go down– but we can’t because we are not a democracy, we are a republic that favors international free trade over our own financial and physical well being.
Tell that to the Renner Company. With analysts believing we’ll hit $5 a gallon gas by summer, it will be cheaper to mail your car on vacation.
IF YOU THOUGHT 3-D MOVIES WERE THE COOLEST THING, wait until you see this demonstration: 3-D printers can replicate physical objects on demand. Future uses, aside from space tools, include medical applications making custom fitted artificial joints, teeth, and ears for your soon-to-be bionic body.
THE WEEKEND CALENDAR:
SATURDAY’S INDIAN ISLAND CANDLELIGHT VIGIL: Please join members of Table Bluff Reservaton-Wiyot Tribe for the Annual Indian Island Candlelight Vigil held the last weekend every February to remember those who lost their lives in the 1860 Indian Island Massacre and help heal the community.
This event will be held rain or shine on Saturday, February 25 at 6 p.m., on the West End of Woodley Island. The first vigil was held on the last Saturday of February in 1992 and has been held each year since. A fire is lit, a Wiyot elder lights their candle from the fire and from that candle all candles are lighted. A moment of silence is observed, a prayer is given remembering all who have gone before us, songs are sung, poems are read, and one leaves with a feeling of accomplishment.
This may be the first memorial for the lives lost where the Wiyot, other Indian nations, and the non-Indian communities have come together to create a process that helps heal the whole community.
Indian Island was and is the center of the Wiyot world. On the island a ceremonial dance would be held to start the new year. The ceremony may have been called the World Renewal ceremony. All people were welcomed, no one was turned away. The ceremony would continue for at least seven to ten days. It was held at the village site of Tutulwat on the northern part of the island. Traditionally the men would leave the island and return the next day with the day’s supplies. The elders, women and children were left to rest on the island along with a few men.
The massacre took place at such a ceremony on February 26, 1860.
THE HISTORY OF INDIAN ISLAND:
Indian Island has always been a sacred site to the Wiyot people, given to them by the Creator as the center of our world. It is the resting place of centuries of Wiyot ancestors and where other Indians of the area were invited for the World Renewal Dance.
The 1860 massacre of Indian Island’s inhabitants and visitors abruptly ended Wiyot occupation and centuries of ceremonial dancing and celebration. Most of the men among the Wiyot celebrants had traveled to the mainland during the night in order to replenish supplies when, during the early morning hours, a group of settlers paddled their boats over to the island and massacred as many as 100 women, children and elders. Only one newborn child survived. This was coordinated with massacres at two other village sites around the bay and dealt a crushing blow to the Wiyot people.
Indian Island, with its ancient shell mounds and rich history, remains an important symbol for many Northern California Native Americans. The Wiyot Tribe returned to the Island in 2000 with the purchase of a 1.5-acre parcel. In May of 2004, The Eureka City Council made history when they unanimously approved a resolution to return 40 acres, comprising the northeastern tip of Indian Island to the Wiyot Tribe.
After 140 years, the tribe has begun clean up and restoration of the land, and are seeking to re-establish its cultural connection to the island by once again hosting the World Renewal Ceremony on original locations with plans to build a place where traditional ceremonies can be restored to the island.
The 500 enrolled Wiyot tribal members hold an annual Candelight Vigil of remembrance and healing, and the entire community is welcome.
Located in Humboldt Bay between Eureka and Samoa, the vigil is at the West end of Woodley Island. To reach the view point and historic marker, take the Samoa Bridge (Hwy. 255) and exit at Woodley Island. Drive all the way and park at the west end, then walk a few yards north of the Fisherman’s Memorial Statue.
Happenings, Events, Groups, Walks, and Other Good Stuff:
Other entertainment can also be found here.
Americans are motivated by money, not ideals. Washington is the home of despicable trickery at elections, under-handed tamperings with public officers, and cowardly attacks upon opponents, with scurrilous newspapers for shields and hired pens for daggers. I am disappointed. This is not the republic of my imagination.
- Charles Dickens, 1842