I can’t criticize this year’s list, several of which have direct bearing on Sohum. There are some other stories which maybe should have been in the top 10, but I don’t know which stories could have been replaced.
My suggestions would include:
1. The Reggae War settlement – despite extensive coverage throughout the now two-year-old battle (although some would argue it began years before that), when the settlement came it didn’t go out in the media with so much as a wimper. You would have expected the papers to have trumpeted the settlement with a detailed list of the provisions. Bob reported it on his blog when it happened, but I never saw any follow-up by anybody in the media about the details until recently when the payments came due unpaid. Mostly the terms trickled out through rumors and anonymous postings on this blog, and I’m still not sure I know all of them. People keep asking me to comment on the settlement, what it means, and whether it’s fair. But I’ve never seen enough of it to make any reasonable assessment.
2. The overturning of Measure T – Passed by a healthy majority (which did not include me), Humboldt County’s effort to prohibit extra-county corporate campaign donations and perhaps establish a precedent against what has been termed “corporate personhood” was defeated in court with what some have argued was a lackluster effort at defending the law from the county legal team. What’s interesting is that the county went through several elections before anybody filed a challenge. In this instance the republican aspect of the political system triumphed over the democratic, for better or worse, and local campaign finance reform folk are back at the drawing board.
3. The political near-stalement in Eureka continues – despite a very blue electorate, the City of Eureka continues to elect Republicans, while tossing in an occassional progressive to maintain that constant 3 to 2 conservative majority. “Stalemate” is probably not the best word because one side does retain a distinct advantage, and it’s not unreasonable to interpret the results in two city council elections thus far as a cautious mandate for some version of the Marina Center proposal. The question is whether it is a mandate for Home Depot or another big box. Oddly enough, the one progressive candidate who expressed any support for the Marina Center Proposal, George Clark, was defeated handily. Sectarian politics on the left may also be a factor, as the progressive candidates in Eureka have refused assistance from Local Solutions, which has had great success elsewhere (constituting a very important part of the prevailing coalition down here in the Second District). A couple of years ago there was a serious falling out between certain very dynamic individuals, and some of the original group split off to engage their own efforts on behalf of local progressive causes. The groups haven’t yet found a way to get along at arm’s reach in order to pool resources and opportunities. Other factors are also at play, including Frank Jager’s popularity notwithstanding politics. Personally however, I believe it’s time for a summit of Eureka progressives, and a peace accord.
4. The backlash against diesel – Maybe a story with more local implications rather than countywide, but recent events and overwhelming concerns about the future have brought the issue to the forefront and it is an issue getting serious attention from both community and agency. The subject is touched upon in the NCJ’s list in the “pot backlash” story, but I think the story stands out on its own.
5. Gallegos defeats – Several of Paul Gallegos’ cases have gone sour, including the Pacific Lumber case and the case against the EPD officers around the Cheri Moore killing. It led to several angry editorials suggesting that the lawsuits were a waste of time and that resources are being diverted away from basic prosecution needs to support a political agenda. I do view this as an oversimplification. Everybody loves a winner, and if he had prevailed on those cases Gallegos would not be under fire for the “diversion” of resources, at least not from the mainstream of Humboldt County politics. We’ll have to wait until 2010 to see how the policies play out politically, and maybe someone can put together some empirical rather than purely anecdotal evidence one way or another as to whether the more mundane prosecutions are getting adequate and competent attention.
6. General Plan Update – It was a major issue in the Second District election this year. But it can be saved as a “top 10 story” until next year when, hopefully, it will be completed.
Any other stories to suggest?