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In case you haven’t heard, the fireworks and Chamber picnic for the 4th have been canceled due to fire risks.
This week’s North Coast Journal cover story is about Feet First’s newest offering. I’ll post a link when the story is posted online.
Currently the most read NCJ story online is Barack Obama’s chili recipe.
On my way back from Eureka this afternoon I heard Terri reporting on a fire near Burnt Ranch in the eastern part of the county. Does anybody know how the ranch got its name?
Addendum: Here’s a link to the Clowntown article.
And here’s a link to an article written by a Sohum resident.
The photo comes from Bob’s article.
Here’s the article.
I haven’t read it yet. I’ll read it and comment later.
They seem like good choices. Last year several runner-ups came to mind, but this year the list seems complete at first glance. Some of the choices are obvious – the PALCO Bankruptcy, the TPZ controversy, the trail/rail debate and its impact on local politics, the Shove, deaths of two local celebrities, etc.
Only one Sohum story made it to the list this year, and it’s you-know-what. The story was obviously a little dated with the sentence, “People Productions and “Reggae Rising” won all the key skirmishes.” Obviously that string came to an end earlier this month, and as a consequence the parties are back at the negotiating table.
The other story which may be of significant Sohum significance is the Arcata grow controversy and the city’s response to it. There are reports of similar grow houses in Garberville and Redway, and with the housing crunch and the limitations of fire department resources the controversy is bound to be raised here as well. We have no incorporated townships down here, which means we have to go to the county and it may play into the Second District race politics at some point.
Hank also summarizes the Klamath River settlement, an issue on which I’ve only made a few posts and have followed closely.
Lastly, the story on the housing price collapse is of significance countywide (and statewide), and I would debate whether it’s economic impact is more negative than positive. Secondly, one aspect of the story that probably should be investigated is the degree to which it has impacted Sohum. We have a unique situation here where back-to-the-landers are aging and looking for comforts they’d sacrificed earlier for their lifestyle. That and the grow-house phenomenon have kept rents up. Housing prices have probably dropped, but from what realtors have told me the impact isn’t quite what it’s been elsewhere. Rents remain ridiculously high.
Second addendum: David Cobb provides his own list of 2007 stories of importance to progressives.
Hank broke his column up into several stories this week. In the first he chides the county Department of Health for covering up for the Baywood Golf & Country Club over the virus outbreak even when the Club was perfectly candid and forthcoming. The County argued that it basically only has to provide the public with information on what it deems to be a need-to-know basis.
And the ad hoc rail/trail cleanup is scheduled for tomorrow morning at 10:00, but there may be a snag. Bracut owner Rick Hess actually owns part of the line. As there hasn’t been a train over the tracks for years, his attorneys believe that the easement has reverted back to him. He’s all for trails, but he’d like to discuss the matter with the trail people before they show up. Hopefully they contacted him.
And Steve Harris, rep for Operating Engineers Local No. 3, will not be entering the Second District race for supervisor as previously speculated. He’s been transferred to San Jose. He endorses Estelle whom he believes will do well by labor.
Lastly, Hank elaborates a bit on the Vagina Monologues/Arkley Center issue. The Arkley Center representatives say that it’s not the subject matter which was objectionable, but what they say amounted to the negotiation antics of the play’s director, Helena Class. The controversy has been the subject of a long and contentious thread over at Heraldo’s.
Meanwhile elsewhere in this week’s NCJ some whippersnapper named William S. Kowinski wrote a positive review for the new Dr. Who series. But Dr. Who hasn’t been good since…., well…., since Saturday Night Live was good.
When did I become such a curmudgeon?
Thanks to Heraldo for the heads-up, the blog’s temporary location is right here.
This could be a big boon if they do it right. Here you have potentially minute-by-minute coverage of crucial events with a full news department behind it. Obviously they have to sell their papers so you’ll get the depth of the stories there. But this could one more step to bringing Humboldt County into the 21st century. Online access to court case files, like just about every other county, should be the next.
Hank’s got several posts up already, including this follow-up to the Grannie Greenjeans/Coop controversy, such as it is. And there’s some election finances stuff which reports me as “retired.” Sorry Hank, not quite ready for shuffleboard. But I wanted to know who else donated to Quilez, and Sonia Bauer is the only other contributor mentioned. Obviously she would like somebody on the Commission to second her son’s motions to discuss something beyond the old guard agenda. Also, Quilez could obviously use some money. There will be a fund raising party in Redway on Sunday afternoon where you can meet him, and another one earlier in Miranda. Contact the campaign for locations.
Anyway, looks like a great addition to the local blogosphere. There are already comments mounting.
We had dinner company, so I was unable to hear it. The Eureka Reporter article describes the debate as heated, but it all seemed pretty tame in the body of the article itself. I can’t find any Times Standard coverage. Richard Marks has some highlights over at his blog.
As I’ve said, this is a very important election despite the dearth of items on the ballot. If Quilez and Higgins are elected, the progressives have a majority on the Board. This election could determine the path of Humboldt County development for the considerable future – with impact way beyond the harbor itself.
The debate was streamed live at the KEET website, but I’m not finding any podcast version there at the moment.
Addendum: Probably no surprise is the fact that David Cobb is endorsing Quilez and Higgins. Maybe (not) somewhat of a surprise is that Fred Mangels is sort of (not) endorsing the same candidates, or at least a shake-up on the Commission.
Second addendum: The NCJ has an excellent article with interviews from all five candidates in contested races. A couple of interesting notes. Quilez claims that Curless does not intend to campaign anywhere south of Fortuna, which explains his no show at the Shelter Cove Pioneers candidates forum. His website doesn’t have any listing of events other than a fundraiser which took place in Fortuna back in September.
Another note is his response to criticism about the Harbor Commission’s $170,000 loan to the North Coast Railroad Authority while the Commission is operating on a deficit. His response is simply that the loan isn’t the first and therefor it’s not controversial.
I don’t know if the Journal compromised its objectivity by going out of its way to dispute Charles Olivier’s comparison of Eureka to the Prince Rupert, BC port, but the point certainly should be well taken.
In some respects, though, the comparison doesn’t hold up. Prince Rupert is strategically located on the occidental end of the shortest existing land/sea route connecting Asia and North America — 1,000 miles/68 hours closer to Shanghai than the port of Los Angeles. It’s also located at the terminus of a transcontinental railroad operated by Canadian National Railway. And their bay is naturally deep, ranging between 38 and 44 meters. On all three counts, our bay is no match.
But Olivier did say that we can “have it all,” namely the port, the rail, and the trail. I’m all for a win-win scenario, but he didn’t elaborate as to the location of the trail. Did it come up in the debate?
Downtown business organization Arcata Mainstreet (AMS) has pulled copies of the Aug. 16 edition of the North Coast Journal from its periodical room in the lobby of Jacoby’s Storehouse.The decision was made in an “informal vote” of the AMS board following its Thursday morning meeting.
The board had been “pretty discouraged” over the Journal’s cover, according to Taffy Stockton, AMS executive director.
Following the board action, Stockton called Journal Editor Hank Sims and asked him to remove the copies, and Sims quickly complied, removing the 60 or so copies stocked at the location. Kathy Fraser, proprietor of the North Soles shoe store on the Plaza, strongly objected to the image she said the Journal cover projected during back-to-school week. “It’s the time of the year when we have students coming in and the Journal is telling them where to get weed,” she said. “The timing was my biggest issue.”
Now, if anybody would have had cause to be upset (however dubious), it would be HSU.
HSU Public Affairs Officer Paul Mann said the university was aware of the controvesial cover, but had no response to offer regarding the Journal’s editorial content. However, he said the university had no intention of preventing the Journal’s distribution from the free racks it maintains at numerous sites around the campus.
“Certainly not,” Mann said. “It’s freedom of speech. That would be Stalinist.”
And by the way, for those who like to slam Kevin Hoover alleging his compromises to power, there are plenty of editors who wouldn’t take on their own landlords!
I was thinking about the Journal’s name change. I thought about other outfits which have made similar moves. Ask Jeeves for instance. Chess Life & Review decided that Chess Life was sufficient.
And then some companies change their nicknames, or abbreviations. PL has in recent years become PALCO, for whatever reason. And then there’s Kentucky Fried Chicken which became KFC in the late 1980s, apparently to avoid the word “fried” in the face of health consciousness (although wild rumors circulated to the effect that they were synthesizing meat and so were prevented by the FDA from using the word “chicken”), and because for some reason they thought the initials sound more hip.
I guess I wasn’t paying attention. I don’t really like the food anyway, so I hadn’t been in one for years. But in 1990 I was subbing at Aptos Middle School in San Francisco. It was a pretty rowdy class, but this sixth grader named “Rashad” had some smarts and occasionally put some effort into his work. The problem is that even the good students aren’t really good at that age.
This one liked to bait his teachers. And so he came into the room just after the lunch bell went off to tell me that he was going off campus to KFC to “get me some hot wings.” I guess I was supposed to wag my finger and threaten him, but instead I said without looking up from the papers I was grading, “that’s nice Rashad. But what is KFC and what are hot wings?”
I’ll never forget the look of disgust on his face as he retorted, “man, you’re so caught up in the sixties, you don’t know what’s happening around you!”
Sixth grade. A twelve-year-old. Only I was too young for the 60s, but math wasn’t his strong point. Hey, I didn’t even wear my hair long! 15 minutes later the staff room was rolling on the floor laughing, especially the teachers who knew him.
He’s probably just out of law school by now.
Well, we had to wait until Thursday, but the read is worth it. Here are his comments on the Eureka Reporter editorial about John Driscoll and the swarming ethical issues. I’ll just let his words speak for themselves.
That’s about the only conceivable response to the Eureka Reporter‘s hyperventilating editorial last Saturday, in which reporter John Driscoll and his employer, the Times-Standard, are made to stand in the dock while charges of unethical conduct are read out against them.
To recap, briefly: Driscoll had been covering the Pacific Lumber bankruptcy case, which is currently being staged at a federal courthouse in Corpus Christi, Texas. Members of the public can listen to the proceedings by telephone, through a paid service that costs around $25 per hour. A group of citizens, including activist Mark Lovelace, a Palco critic, had signed up for the service and had been listening along. When the case reached a critical turn, they invited Driscoll to join them. He did, and he covered the proceedings for his paper.
The Reporter says that the fact that the call was paid for by someone else — anyone else — “calls into question [Driscoll's] entire history of reporting on Palco-related issues.” This fact, the Reporter alleges, was a galling breach of professional ethical standards. Well, the Reporter is wrong, and I’ll get to that. But first I’d like to take the paper’s argument against Driscoll to its logical conclusion.
There’s about a million clichéd phrases to describe the mess that the Reporter has stepped into, here. You can take your pick between glass houses, pots and kettles, geese and ganders, beams in eyes, protesting too much. The fact is, simply, that the paycheck of everyone under the Reporter’s roof comes from the account of a man who has a standing lawsuit against county government; who has vowed to see certain county employees fired; who has contributed generously to innumerable local, state and national political campaigns; whose wife served as a member of City Council, and ran for mayor; whose proposed Marina Center project for the Eureka waterfront is the most controversial development to come along since Wal-Mart was booted out of town in 1999. Et cetera.
If there’s one thing that the recently leaked Eureka Reporter circulation audit made clear, it’s that the paper is nothing close to a healthy, self-sustaining business. Its editorial-to-advertising content ratio, a key metric in the health of any newspaper, stands at 70:30, which in the real world is absolute death. Even leaving aside the fancy paper and the free delivery, owner Rob Arkley is pouring money into the paper to keep it afloat. Lots of money. So what was that you were saying about avoiding, at all costs, any “conflicts of interest — real or perceived”? If that’s the Eureka Reporter’s credo, there’s nothing for it except for everyone in the building to quit their jobs. Or to stop reporting the news. A tagline affixed to every other story stating the paper’s ownership can’t cut mustard as thick as this. A tagline isn’t a magic wand.
Here’s the tragedy: The Reporter has embraced the kind of slipshod argument that its own critics have used against it. The paper’s reporters quite often do fine, important work, but just try and tell that to the many for whom Arkley’s name is the beginning and end of the discussion. I can testify that Reporter people are well aware of such plugged-ear critiques, and that it can sometimes drive them batty, understandably so. But the paper’s own editorial board now apparently endorses this kind of reasoning. And if it’s a horrid breach of ethics for John Driscoll to tag along on a phone call, then it’s a horrid breach of ethics 10,000 times over to rely on the largesse of one of the region’s top movers and shakers just to keep the lights on.
Which brings me to the point I tried to make before. Every paper that isn’t self-financed (which is pretty much every paper) suffers from an inherent conflict of interest whenever any of its advertisers are covered in the news – certainly to the tune of more than the money involved in this telephone call. Probably Driscol should have avoided this situation – I’m not an expert on journalist ethics. But in particular it sounds like Mark Lovelace simply wanted the hearing covered, and wasn’t looking to slant the coverage in any particular way. Just keeping the issue in the news would benefit the Watershed Council’s agenda.
On the other hand, I’m told by someone much more familiar with the ethics issues than I that other papers might have fired Driscol for this. I don’t know whether that’s true, but that seems extreme to my lay thinking under the circumstances.
Towards the end of the piece Hank says:
If you still think that his work has somehow been compromised, though, here’s something else for you to consider. I’ve been covering the Palco bankruptcy, too. I’ve tuned in to the conference call three times. The first two times, I did what Driscoll did: I listened in with someone who would have been listening in anyway (not Lovelace’s group, in my case). I would have done so the third time as well, but it was deadline day and I had to be in the office, so I busted out the credit card. In other words, I freely admit that if Driscoll is guilty I am guilty, too. And I can’t promise that I won’t sin again.
Okay, this is fair. However, speaking for the ER position I might point out that what is missing from this comment is any hint of the “someone’s” agenda. Was it an attorney who just happened to have a spare line, or was it somebody who also has a broad agenda in spinning the issue in the media and confident that Hank’s coverage would fit the bill?
Should John D. be fired? Should Hank?
With all due respect to the ER, they probably shouldn’t have started this over a 25 dollar-per-hour payoff. Has the TS responded to any of this?
By the way, it appears that Hank will be on KHUM at 6:00 p.m. on Thursdays starting with tonight. Thankfully, it ends just as my program begins. Hank and I have been talking about an appearance on my own KMUD show. I hope he’ll be up for a 2 hour session one of these nights.
Ironic that I’ve become such a fan of Hank’s in a relationship that began with my writing him an angry letter last May. But I do think that the Town Dandy may be the most interesting periodic read in the county whether I agree with him or not.
Yesterday I posted the SF Chronicle editorial on the PALCO bankruptcy, and pretty much dared the local papers to publish something similar, suggesting they wouldn’t. Hank informed me that I had “spoken too soon.”
And he goes way beyond the Chronicle piece in terms of detail. Here are some clips.
But first, note one of the more curious aspects of the omnibus Pacific Lumber bankruptcy, which was finally announced, after years of lead-up, this last Thursday. For some reason known only to the company — even veteran Maxxam Kremlinologists pronounced themselves stumped — was the abrupt U-turn in company rhetoric. Once again, it was all the environmentalists’ fault. This despite the fact that only last month, when the company laid off 90 workers, Palco President George O’Brien blamed his company’s woes on the weak international market for softwood lumber. For some reason, that wasn’t mentioned in this recent round of press releases.
In neither case, of course, was there any mention of the Maxxam Corp.’s seemingly insane (but perfectly sensible, from another point of view) business strategy. In a perfect world, you’d think, there would be some sort of law banning a plutocrat from mortgaging a company up to and beyond the hilt, just so the company could pay for the pleasure of being owned by said plutocrat. Then, too, you’d think that the plutocrat shouldn’t be allowed to let that debt ride for 20-plus years, meanwhile selling off big chunks of the company’s assets and disappearing the proceeds down a hole. But such is perfectly legal and proper business practice in the good old U.S.A.
Then, too, there is the $20 million that the company has diverted from its employee pension plan over the last few years. As John Driscoll reported in the Times-Standard on Tuesday, the taxpayers may well end up picking up that tab, through the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. That lost $20 million, which the company used to service its ludicrous debt structure, will end up coming out of your pockets and mine. Yet another parting gift from Maxxam owner Charles Hurwitz, whose place in Humboldt County history is now secure.
Lots more through the link.
So I guess the question for conspiracy theorists out there is, “how is Hank going to exploit the Maxxam/PALCO maneuver to the advantage of his Dark Lord puppetmaster Rob Arkley?” It’s a vicious circle man!
Oh, and in the second half of his column he warns against purchasing pure-bred dogs over the Internet. Just in case you were thinking about it.
Meanwhile, in the same NCJ issue Bob Doran updates Nohum on the Mateel crisis. Apparently, Sohum lost a booking because the Mateel is inadequately staffed.
The “house that Reggae built” has not exactly fared well through all this. An Oregon-based concert promoter who called me yesterday said he wanted to bring KRS-ONE to the Mateel Jan. 31, but was told the place is not adequately staffed — instead his show will run at Mazzotti’s. (Winter Ruckus 4 was booked ages ago, before the mess got so ugly.)