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Alleged by the ACLU is racial bias against African Americans and Native Americans – Ryan Burns reports.

The claims of assault and sexual assault (“titty-twisting Tuesdays” and and “slap-ass Fridays”) , are very disturbing, as are the claims of disproportionate discipline.

The lawsuit, which names as defendants the members of the Eureka City Schools District Board of Education and the district’s superintendent, among other school officials, charges that blatant racial harassment occurs regularly as white students frequently use racial slurs to refer to Black students and commit violence against Native American and Black students without ever being disciplined by school staff.

Native American and Black students are also disciplined differently and much more harshly than white students. According to school district data from the 2011-2012 school year, Black students were suspended from some Eureka schools at a rate as much as five times higher than their enrollment rate while Native American students were suspended from some schools at a rate three times higher than their enrollment rate. Comparatively, white students are suspended at or about their rate of enrollment in district schools. Additionally, Native American students are pushed out of mainstream schools and into county-run community schools designed for high-risk youth and which do not appropriately prepare students planning to attend college. The Native American population at the Eureka Community School was three times higher than their overall district enrollment rate in 2011-2012, district data shows.

District curriculum also ignores or actively affronts the racial and cultural history of Native American and Black students by utilizing materials that use the word “savage,” “negro,” and “nigger” without examining the offensiveness or historical context of those terms.

I would however, like to know more about the last paragraph there – some specific context.  Are we talking about Mark Twain?  I do think that some adults fail to give children and teenagers credit for being able to sort the historical issues out.  I assume that more information will be forthcoming after the districts try to get the suits dismissed and the depositions begin.

I had heard last spring that this lawsuit was underway, and as a parent of nonwhite children attending the city schools I am very concerned and I will be watching this story closely.  And I will discuss these issues with them tonight.

Addendum:  Lost Coast Outpost is also on the story.

Unfortunately conflicting with my radio show.  Oh well.

From Redwood ACLU:

Attention: For Immediate Release

Redwood ACLU to Hold DA Candidates’ Debate on Civil Liberties

The Redwood Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union announces the Candidates’ Debate on Civil Liberties for all four ballot-qualified candidates for District Attorney of Humboldt County, to be held on Thursday, April 15th from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Senior Room of the Arcata Community Center, 321 Community Park Way.

This debate will be held before a live audience (the capacity of the Senior Room is over 100 people) and in cooperation with independent producers working with Access Humboldt it will also be aired live on public access Channel 12 and will likewise be available for later viewing on-line.

The debate will be moderated by Redwood ACLU chair Greg Allen, and shall be staffed by other members of the Board of Directors of the Redwood ACLU, although any persons who have made any sort of campaign contribution or endorsement of any of the candidates in this year’s election are excluded from involvement.

“We’re anticipating a lively debate where we really dig deep into the justice system here in Humboldt County,” Allen said. “We’ve strived to strike a balance where the debate will get some answers on vital civil rights issues from each candidate, but also leave plenty of room to address other concerns raised by community members.”

The Redwood ACLU held the only televised debate for candidates for the Northern Humboldt High School District in 2005 at the Senior Room of the Arcata Community Center, and has also presented civil liberties-oriented forums for local city council races over the last six years. The Redwood ACLU, based in Eureka with over 850 members across the North Coast, is a non-partisan organization that never endorses or opposes candidates for public office. Our state affiliate, the ACLU of Northern California, is also providing support for this event.

The format of the debate will start with opening statements and an airing of the candidate’s views on five questions posed by the moderator concerning civil liberties issues in Humboldt County. All other questions will be posed by the live audience via notecards, followed by closing statements. Each candidate will have the opportunity to issue rebuttals to the statements of others.

Members of the press or public with questions may contact the Redwood ACLU at (707) 442-4419 or, or drop by our office at 917 Third Street in Old Town Eureka.


Redwood ACLU announces Patriot Award nominees

The Redwood Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is pleased to announce the nominees for the 2009 Patriot Award. The chapter gives the Patriot Award annually to the member or members of the community who, in the opinion of the chapter, have demonstrated a patriotic commitment to defending and preserving the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee everyone in our country.

The 2009 nominees are:

Betty Chin and John Shelter for their work defending the rights of people who are houseless.

The Crisis Intervention Team of the Humboldt County Department of Health & Human Services Mental Health Branch, which assists people who are experiencing a mental health crisis.

Eureka Councilman Larry Glass for working with the ACLU on items of common interest, including Eureka’s “True Ward” initiative.

County Supervisor Bonnie Neely for supporting the ongoing development of a framework for citizen police review.

Tad Robinson for defending freedom of speech and the right of the people peaceably to petition the government for redress of grievances.

“It is inspiring to see so many local citizens committed to enhancing our civil liberties,” said chapter Vice-Chair Christina Allbright.

The winner will be announced and honored at the Redwood Chapter’s annual membership meeting. The meeting will be held on Monday January 25th at 6pm at the Humboldt Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall in Bayside. The keynote speaker will be Northern California ACLU Executive Director Abdi Soltani. Soltani’s speech will be on the topic “Civil Liberties in the Age of Obama.” The meeting will be a pot-luck style dinner and the public is invited to attend.  Also at the meeting, the over 870 members of the Redwood ACLU will elect the chapter’s Board of Directors for 2010.

“I encourage all ACLU members, and any interested members of the public to attend our annual meeting on the 25th,” said Redwood ACLU Chair Greg Allen.  “With the Patriot Award ceremony and a keynote speech by our new regional executive director, it should certainly be a worthwhile evening.”

The Redwood Chapter of the ACLU is the local, all-volunteer presence of the ACLU. The ACLU is our nation’s guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country.

Redwood ACLU To Hold Civil Liberties Debate For Eureka City Council Candidates

The Redwood Chapter, ACLU is returning to its tradition of hosting well-fought and open debates between candidates for local office, as it has in the past for candidates contesting seats on the Arcata City Council and the Northern Humboldt Union High School District.

For the first time, the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union will include the Eureka City Council contests in a debate on local civil liberties issues as well as on other community concerns. The event will be held on Monday, September 29th from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Humboldt Bay Water Building, located at 7th and J St. In Eureka.

A “meet and greet” with the invited candidates (Polly Endert, Linda Atkins, Frank Jager, George Clark) will be held just beforehand at 6:00 p.m., where the candidates and other community groups are invited to table with their literature and other materials of civic interest.

“As an organization that always refrains from supporting or opposing candidates for public office, we are in a unique position to provide common ground for dialogue and discussion,” said Redwood ACLU chair Christina Allbright in a letter to the candidates.

The debate format is to start off with a few questions concerning the issues the Redwood Chapter advocates for in the community, followed by questions solicited via notecard from members of the public in the audience. There will be time for rebuttals between candidates in order to foster a vigorous debate, although we also ensure equal time for all the candidates to speak their peace.

The debate is free and open to the public, but space is limited, so community members with questions are strongly encouraged to arrive early.

For more information, call the new ACLU Hotline at 707-442-4419 or visit


Meanwhile here is a press release from the Clark/Atkins campaign. Remember, I run an equal opportunity blog here in terms of candidate press releases. Send then to me and I’ll post them.

Dear Friend,

George Clark and Linda Atkins’ campaign continues to gain momentum. Coming off a great week where Linda and George collected key Labor endorsements, the enthusiasm for their Campaign for Change continues to grow.

We’ve produced two 60 second radio ads that we’re hoping to get on the air as soon as possible. Please take a moment to go online and listen to these ads and let us know what you think.

Radio spots are very effective and we’re looking forward to getting these ads on the air. Of course these ads won’t air themselves, they cost around $15 for each 60 second spot. Will you help the campaign by contributing the cost of one or more spots? <>

Of course, donations of any amount will be much appreciated. You can also help the campaign by forwarding this email to friends, encouraging them to visit our website, get involved, or make a donation.

We’ve got lots of events coming up <>. Don’t forget to join us on October 11th, 4pm at Eureka’s Labor Temple, 840 E Street, for George Clark and Linda Atkins’ “Rally for Change.”

Thanks again for your interest and support.

Clark/Atkins Campaign Staff

Alec Johnson
Campaign Director
Clark/Atkins for City Council
322 F Street (Old Town)
Eureka, CA 95501

For Immediate Release

Redwood ACLU Calls For
Sweeping Reform Of Local Elections

At the regular monthly meeting of the Redwood Chapter, ACLU Board of Directors, local civil rights leaders adopted a comprehensive policy on local election reform after months of deliberation and consultation with other election reform advocates.

This new policy, while consistent with standing policies of the state and national American Civil Liberties Union, goes into detail in dealing with local election conditions, including most notably the proposed replacement of electronic vote-counting systems with precinct-based hand-counting of paper ballots “as the most verifiable method available” to local election officials.

“Other modern democracies around the world use hand-counted paper ballots and still achieve accurate results in a speedy and transparent manner,” said Redwood ACLU boardmember Jack Munsee. “There’s just no way to eliminate the justifiable mistrust we have in secret, privatized and error-prone electronic vote-counting systems, especially when a hand-counting system would keep our local dollars in Humboldt County and our local elections in the hands of the people.”

Additionally, the Redwood ACLU addresses the complete failure of the unconstitutional, unworkable and unenforceable Measure T in having any meaningful effect on the power of big money to skew the electoral playing field. Instead, a “reasonable cap” on contributions is proposed, as is the case for federal elections, in order to ensure First Amendment protections while still addressing the need for campaign finance reform.

“Two years ago I proposed the real deal in campaign finance reform, which is a reasonable cap on the size of individual contributions to candidates. Instead, under Measure T we’ve seen only more growth in the flood of special interest dollars clogging our local elections,” said Redwood ACLU vice chair Greg Allen. “I’m very grateful that my colleagues in the civil liberties community are on board with a reform which can really bring people together behind the concept of fairness.”

Also addressed in the policy are issues as diverse as disabled accessibility, the need to include polling places in underserved precincts, and a vote of confidence in the new Humboldt Transparency Project, which provides independent citizen groups with the opportunity to conduct their own re-count of local elections.

“We awarded Carolyn Crnich and the Election Advisory Committee with our highest honor, the Patriot Award, last year because of their commitment to reforming local election conditions,” said Redwood ACLU boardmember Maria Hershey. “We hope that this next round of reform will be received with the spirit with which it was issued, as a call to further our mutual aspirations for elections we can all believe in.”

For more information, contact Redwood ACLU vice chair Greg Allen at 825-0826, or visit our website at

Thursday, September 20, 2007


For Immediate Release

ACLU Expresses Dismay At Arcata Spy Cam Plan

At the regular monthly meeting of the Redwood Chapter, ACLU Board of Directors today, local civil rights leaders condemned the 3-2 vote last night by the Arcata City Council to move forward with plans concocted by Arcata Police chief Randy Mendosa to install a high-tech surveillance camera system on the Arcata Plaza.

The Council unanimously defeated this same plan back in 2001 after a massive public outcry over the civil liberties implications of spying on local residents as they work, shop, protest and play in their town square, said Redwood ACLU chair Christina Allbright. Their flip-flop in favor of an intrusive and ineffective spy camera system will not go unnoticed in our community.

After several public comments against the plan by ACLU spokespersons and local residents, including former councilmember Dave Meserve, the City Council did agree to bring back to a future meeting a policy under development by city manager Michael Hackett. Thankfully there are members of the City Council such as Paul Pitino and Harmony Groves who see the danger to civil liberties inherent to this proposal. We thank them for their strong stand against a repeat of this foolish idea.

The Council also repeatedly referred to a 28-page page report prepared this summer by the ACLU of Northern California which provided detailed research on how public surveillance camera systems have proven ineffective and prone to corrupt uses such as racial profiling.

“Government-run video surveillance can radically alter the relationship between law enforcement and the public. By itself, pervasive video surveillance threatens privacy rights. But even more disturbing, the threat multiplies when government combines cameras with emerging technologies”, stated the report. “Surveillance cameras will not improve public safety, and limited funds can be better spent on programs that are both proven effective and less invasive, such as improved lighting, foot patrols, and real community policing.”

In response to the forthcoming Arcata public surveillance policy, the Redwood ACLU plans a series of public forums in Arcata to disseminate the report’s findings, provide an account of the previously defeated spy cam plan in 2001 and promote community input prior to the adoption of the new policy. “A diverse set of Arcata residents from across the political spectrum mobilized to put a stop to this scheme six years ago, and we were successful,” said Redwood ACLU vice chair Greg Allen. “We did it before, and apparently we will have to do it again since some of the councilmembers subsequently elected just didn’t get the message. “

Local ACLU leaders also expressed particular concern with the appearance of a conflict of interest on the part of councilmember Alex Stillman, who owns several properties on the Plaza and who even stated last night that she was considering installing a substantially similar private surveillance system at her own expense and on her own building, that is, unless the City of Arcata spent public tax dollars to do much the same thing. Stillman cast the tie-breaking vote to move in the direction of a policy that would by her own admission materially affect her property and her business affairs, said Allen. The appearance of conflict under the Brown Act and under Arcata’s own Code of Ethics makes it clear she should step aside when this policy comes back for a vote later this year.

The state affiliate of the ACLU has made their report, entitled “Under the Watchful Eye: The Proliferation of Video Surveillance Systems in California,” available for public viewing on their website, For more information about the Redwood Chapter’s forthcoming public forums on local surveillance issues, call Arcata attorney Greg Allen at 825-0826, or call the Redwood ACLU hotline at 215-5385.

Authorities may not silence the sources of personal information they receive.

From Truthout:

U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero said the government orders must be subject to meaningful judicial review and that the recently rewritten Patriot Act “offends the fundamental constitutional principles of checks and balances and separation of powers.”

The law had been challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union, which complained that the revised law allowed the FBI to demand records without the kind of court order required for other government searches.

The ACLU said it was improper to issue so-called national security letters, or NSLs – investigative tools used by the FBI to compel businesses to turn over customer information – without a judge’s order or grand jury subpoena. Examples of such businesses include Internet service providers, telephone companies and public libraries.

“The good news for civil libertarians is that the ruling puts this part of the Patriot Act into doubt,” said CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen. “The bad news is that the ruling almost certainly will be appealed to more conservative judges and that even if they also say the law goes too far, Congress retains the right to step back in again and tweak the rules.

The judge had already ruled that the letters themselves violated the 4th Amendment. The 1st Amendment and separation of powers figured into the more recent ruling as well.

Something must be in the air. Progressives are riding high for the first time in years, so now we have to round up the circular firing squads. The article is from the Nation, and is entitled The ACLU vs. The ACLU.

Actually, this dispute is old.

Last September a group of civil libertarians launched a website,, on which they declared: “We come together now, reluctantly but resolutely, not to injure the ACLU but to restore its integrity.” Only a “change in leadership,” they insisted, “will preserve the ACLU.” That website, and those words, marked a new phase in a lengthy campaign to unseat Anthony Romero, the ACLU’s executive director. The website contained a surprise: a pithy and combative declaration from Romero’s retired predecessor, Ira Glasser, who recruited Romero for the top job six years earlier.


In late October a second website, voicesfortheaclu. org, was launched by supporters of Romero. That site was spearheaded by some prominent ACLU veterans, including Aryeh Neier,Gara LaMarche and Norman Dorsen, who declared themselves “dismayed by the ongoing attacks on the ACLU and its leadership” and the “disproportionate and distorted coverage…in some quarters of the press.” Since 2004, Stephanie Strom, who covers philanthropy and nonprofits for the New York Times, has written a dozen stories about internal controversies at the ACLU, stories that have infuriated Romero and many of his colleagues at the organization.


On savetheaclu. org, Kaminer and Glasser wrote that the “ACLU continues to do a great deal of excellent, important work.” Romero’s supporters argue the point with greater emphasis and feeling. “The ACLU has never performed better,” says Burt, a former ACLU legal director who is now a law professor at New York University. “If you drew up a blueprint for a machine to protect civil liberties, you’d literally copy the existing ACLU.”

So what is the row about? The critics proclaim that Romero has made grave mistakes; that those mistakes amount to a firing offense; and that he has betrayed “fundamental ACLU values.” Romero’s supporters say that he is a visionary leader and that his critics are only damaging the ACLU. Glasser’s intervention, and his decision to employ the full range of his polemical, linguistic and strategic abilities in the fight against Romero, has only ratcheted up the tension.


Romero’s difficulties can be traced back to 2002, when he signed a consent decree with the New York Attorney General at the time, Eliot Spitzer, to settle a privacy breach that had been discovered on the ACLU website. A company called Virtual Sprockets was responsible for the breach, but Spitzer’s office demanded a $10,000 fine from the ACLU. The terms of the decree required Romero to distribute it to the national ACLU board within thirty days, but he waited six months to do so. Glasser and Kaminer have written that Romero “offered vague and inconsistent explanations of the circumstances surrounding the negotiation, execution, and eventual distribution of the agreement.” They further allege that ACLU president Nadine Strossen and the eleven-member executive committee, the leadership body of the board that oversees the executive director, “declined to reprimand Romero, even though a number of them privately conceded that they believed he had been less than honest with them.” At the Warwick Hotel Romero told me, “I probably was a bit cavalier about it. But $10,000 is not a huge sum of money, and it was fully reimbursed [by Virtual Sprockets] to the ACLU. Had it been a million-dollar fine coming from our bottom line, I would have paid a lot more attention to it.”

Then, in April 2004, Romero quietly put his signature on a Ford Foundation grant letter that contained a dubious clause: “By countersigning this grant letter, you agree that your organization will not promote or engage in violence, terrorism, bigotry or the destruction of any state.” Dissident board members Kaminer and Michael Meyers viewed that language as disgraceful, and believe that Romero and the ACLU should have vigorously opposed it [see Sherman, “Target Ford,” June 5, 2006 ]. Upon questioning Romero, the critics learned that he had done more than sign the grant letter: He had privately advised Ford on how to craft it. After vigorous debate, the ACLU ultimately refused more than $1 million in Ford money, which Romero wanted for the organization. “The mistake I made,” Romero told me, “was in not appreciating the civil liberties implications” of Ford’s grant language; he also says that he should not have signed the Ford document without first consulting his board.

A long sad article.

Sisyphus gif is from Wikipedia.

Addendum: For those who are interested in the NAMBLA case which is referenced on the comments page, here is an extensive discussion of it.

The ER is reporting that we have little to fear from Nazis who have recently moved into the county. Apparently they aren’t much of a problem because they’ve been in prison and they don’t do drugs – or so goes the explanation. This quote from FBI agent Christopher Langer bothers me however:

““What we set out to do (after publication of the newspaper article) was to identify any organizations, any organizational structure, any members that might be involved,”” Langer said. ““We also wanted to see if we could identify any groups or individuals we had not identified beforehand. It was our goal to disrupt and dismantle any of these organizations.” (emphasis added)

My inner-ACLU extremist is chiming up again. Unless such an organization has actually broken the law, is it the role of a law enforcement organization to “disrupt and dismantle” an organization based on its ideology? I would hope that the job is to monitor such organizations and intervene if they plan to break the law. Tharkenskens back to the whole issue with Cointelpro – law enforcement is charged with preventing crime, not pushing or suppressing a particular ideological perspective, whether the ideology is prone to criminal activity. And no, I don’t believe the interests of being “pro-active” warrant such a flagrviolationtoin of the right to assemble and associate.

Call me a “liberal.”

Title IX twist – The ACLU is taking up the cause of boys who want to be cheerleaders, or specifically, those who are good enough to make the finals in competitive cheerleading. The rules in place prevent boys from participating in girls’ sports play-offs, but those rules are probably only legally valid where the physical differences between the sexes would give one sex a particular advantage. One could argue that Title IX would allow for a rule to prevent girls from participating in a boy’s cheerleading finals if such a competition existed.

Incidently, since the inception of the Title IX, female participation in high school and college sports was up something like 900 percent as of about 2000 if Josh Lymon of West Wing was telling the truth.

Update: I have been informed that the statement may have been made by Sam Seaborn. Shame on me for not checking my sources! Damn!!


Nice letter to the ER from Trevor Harper of Mid-City Motor World defending the consumption of hybrid vehicles against a Glenn Simmons editorial which essentially implied that it is pointless to do anything if you can only do a little. The editorial reminds me of the incessant right wing commentary after every Earth Day celebration noting the “irony” of the litter that has to be cleaned up afterward.

I suppose we could be accused of hypocrisy for breathing. After all, by doing so we release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Update: As Heraldo noted, the Time-Standard “toasted” a mild jab at Simmons in yesterday’s paper. And Heather Muller of ER provided a good natured jab as well, along with some nice prose about the diversity of opinion at ER. She personally broke at least one major story that ended up hurting Worth Dikeman’s campaign. Maybe just maybe Arkley is more interested in making money than monopolizing the local media with a right wing slant. But Heather’s welcome to take my picture anytime, though my kids are much more photogenic.


I suspect that the meth dealers consist of people too lazy and impatient to grow marijuana. Either that, or the marijuana industry is languishing in a post-prop 215 world. In any case, it doesn’t seem to be attracting the brainiest folk. A few days ago, local drug cops benefitted from a de facto bug zapper phenomenon.


Zogby says the governor’s race is a dead heat.


Mayor Gavin Newsom may make San Francisco the first American city to offer universal healthcare. It’s not quite socialized medicine, nor even single payer. But for a city of under a million to even attempt such a feet is memorable in and of itself – worthy of a lot more media attention than it’s getting. Newsom has managed to pull some of the heavyweight chamber types into the discussion, which bodes well for its future. With downtown backing, it may very well come out successful.

Would my favorite mayoral candidate Matt Gonzales have pulled this off? I don’t know.


It looks like the founder of my favorite national blog is an astrologist, and possibly a con man. Disappointing. Fortunately, Chris Bowers is in charge at the moment.


And from that very blog, a discussion about a study that suggests that young people who watch the Daily Show may tend towards cynicism that actually deters them from voting.


My car’s exterior thermometer registered 108 degrees just east of Briceland at about 3:00 today. It went down to 102 by the time we reached Whitmore Grove, then back up to 104 by the time I pulled into my driveway in Redway. I have no idea how accurate my car thermometer is, but tomorrow we’re heading up to Eureka – any excuse we can come up with.


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