Saturday, March 31, 2007


The lost soul of the Bayshore Mall

I haven't been in there for awhile. I'm not a mall kind of person. But when I first moved here I marveled at two characteristics of the mall that distinguished it from others. One was the choice of background music - classic rock over Musak. The second was the unusual proportion of locally owned businesses (no, franchises don't count).

Just drove by the mall this morning. You've got Sears, Borders, Pier 1, Hometown Buffet, etc. - certainly no locally owned business showcased for the drivers on Broadway. Are there any locally owned businesses left?

Friday, March 30, 2007


Middleman monopoly keeping the price of groundfish down and up

The Fort Bragg Advocate has a story on Mendo coast fishermen trying to squeeze some money in a market where they sell fish on the dock to distributors for about a dollar a pound then the same fish shows up in the grocery store for over 10 times that amount. The groundfish fleet is trying to maintain some solidarity to rectify the situation.
Prices have been flat for 10 years despite rising costs in everything else, said Tommy Ancona, owner of Tommy's Marine in Fort Bragg and president of the Fisherman's Marketing Association.

The association represents many of the 157 boats that fish the West Coast. Ancona said 140 boats are now tied up and not fishing, some of which are not association members but are willing to forego fishing to remedy the rates.

There are only a half dozen companies that buy groundfish, including Fort Bragg based Caito Fisheries. Ancona said more than half the market is controlled by Pacific Choice Seafood of Eureka, which maintains buying stations all over the West Coast, including Fort Bragg. He said there are seven boats in Noyo Harbor now tied up, as part of the price effort that started March 1.

Unlike salmon or bass, groundfish (cod, sole, snapper, etc.) are caught all year with some breaks between two-month seasons. I'm one of those weirdos who actually prefers the taste of ling cod to salmon, but apparently it's not that much of a better deal for the consumer anyway.

I seem to remember a similar huge middleman take issue with milk a few years back. Can anybody explain the economics involved?

Ling cod photo from Hood, Sport, & Dive.


Bernal caught!

Thanks again to Cristina Bauss for the heads-up! According to the Lodi News he was caught in Mexico.
David Brian Bernal II, 27, was arrested Wednesday afternoon in the coastal resort city of Puerto Vallarta, where he had apparently fled after the Feb. 20 shooting of Jennifer Alyson Bushnell, 29, of Redway in Humbolt County.

"I'm shaking," her mother, Angie Bushnell, said shortly after learning the news. "I just want him to be convicted and put away for the rest of his life."

Bernal was booked into the jail in French Camp at 3:38 a.m. on a $5 million murder warrant, according to jail records. He is being held without bail and is scheduled to be arraigned in court Tuesday afternoon.
Gee though. In all the movies, if you made it to Mexico you were home free. Remember Thelma and Louise? And what was a "white pride" kind of guy going to do down there?

In any case, he's caught. A local family breathes just a little bit easier.

I have to wonder how his mother's feeling. She was the one who initially called the police.


Miranda pot bust reveals a diesel spill, and a deeper issue

Anybody remember the diesel spill show on KMUD that resulted in so much screeching? Depending on the level of contamination, the diesel spill could result in more legal trouble than the pot bust, although a thousand plants is no small matter.

The Times Standard has the story, as does the Eureka Reporter.

Sohum really does have to come to terms with the potential impact of diesel leakages and spillages on the rivers, whether marijuana related or not. What I've encountered is a defensiveness, and silence from local environmental organizations apparently concerned about jeopardizing funding. They don't say that it isn't a problem. They simply don't discuss it at all.

It's part of what Rondel Snodgrass once called the "mill town mentality" about the local industry.

Thursday, March 29, 2007


The pressure mounts as the anniversary approaches

Paul G.'s sat on the Cheri Moore case too long, it's as simple as that. I've already commented. Heraldo, another Gallegos supporter, has commented. Rose, not a Gallegos supporter, has commented. The Times-Standard has commented. And Hank S. has commented.

Hank managed to get a response to inquiry.
We sought answers in an e-mail to Gallegos last week. We didn't hear back until after deadline. Here's his response, in toto: "All I can tell you is that we are evaluating the evidence that we have and will render an opinion on it as soon as we are able to."
We can speculate. Perhaps he's found something, but having faced a recall over a quick decision early in his first term, he may be a bit gun shy. Or maybe he hasn't found anything and doesn't know how to break it to some of his base (didn't stop him with the David Chain matter, but maybe he's concerned about the cumulative impact). Or maybe there are some loose ends he's been unable to tie together. In any case, he owes an explanation as there are some disturbing unanswered questions.


Speaking of Hank S., I got to hear some of his KHUM show tonight - between frying turkey burgers and the screams of plastic light-saber wielding kids. When I turned the radio on at about the bottom half of the hour, I could hear a discussion between somebody on the Arcata City Council and a representative of HELP discussing development issues, but I was too late into the conversation and too distracted to make sense of it. Then John Driscoll came on to talk about the PALCO bankruptcy case.

Tomorrow morning the Times-Standard is making available the court proceeding to the public at their HQ. The proceeding is another mini-trial, this time about whether some of the creditors can foreclose against PL land. I guess there has to be a determination that it's all "one asset," and once that's determined apparently PL land can only be foreclosed upon if the value of the asset exceeds the total debt. I don't know much about bankruptcy law, but why do I doubt that the same rule applies to the common homeowner when the debt exceeds the value of his or her assets? Something's missing obviously, but I'll leave it to the attorneys and judge to figure it out.

Still no decision on venue.


Petition re Mattole Forest

Forest Defender has an online petition set up to save the Mattole Forest.

Click on the comparative graphic to enlarge. You can't complain about the source of information.


Cousin Marc's bash this Sunday

Show: Cousin Marc's B-day Celebration
Date: 04/01/07
Where: Mateel Community Center
Price: FREE

Cousin Marc's party will be an all day affair from noon to midnight. Looks like some good music. I'm told the beer will be free.

You know you want to be there!


Arcata's own Measure T and Formula Retail Forum announcement

From the Arcata Eye:

CITY HALL--The Committee on Democracy and Corporations (CDC) wants to implement an Arcata-specific version of Measure T, a county-wide version of which passed last June. To this end, the advisory committee is having a public study session with the Arcata City Council on April 17 to discuss why they think this would be a good idea.

The committee plans on presenting models from other communities that they say would strengthen Arcata’s democracy.


Also on the table is a revised Formula Retail Ordinance, which puts restrictions on the type and number of “chain” restaurants that can set up shop in Arcata. The committee plans an educational forum scheduled for Wednesday, April 4 from 7 to 8:30 pm in the Community Center Senior Room.


In response to a request from the City Council, the proposed Formula Retail Ordinance seeks to preserve a healthy and competitive environment for local, independent businesses through limits on new formula retail establishments.

No existing businesses would be closed by the ordinance, but new formula retail businesses would be unable to locate in Arcata until an existing formula retail business closed its doors.

The resulting cap on formula retail would be similar to the existing cap on formula restaurants, a successful effort that has supported local eateries and spurred similar actions in other communities nationwide.


Formed in 2000, the Committee was created as the final step to implementing “Measure F: The Arcata Advisory Initiative on Democracy and Corporations,” a ballot initiative passed by the citizens of Arcata in 1998.


Sent to me by e-mail

Somebody wanted to remind me of the one of the more famous Biblical passages. It was sent without explanation. Could it apply to the Iraq war? The Reggae war? Blogging abuses?

I report, you decide.

"You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbor
and hate your enemy." But I say to you, love your enemies and
pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of
your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and
on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the

- Matthew 5:43-45

That's of course Jesus C. speaking - for the benefit of my fellow heathens. Certainly words to live by in any case.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Gallegos' Moore killing investigation delay scandal!

Captain Buhne recently noted that Paul Gallegos has managed to stay out of the headlines for quite some time now. Seemed like he graced the front page on a daily basis last summer and fall. Obviously most of the Gallegos hate brigade which used to fill the local blogs, this one included, with comments you'd expect about a convicted child molester, finally became resigned to the fact that they're stuck with him another four years absent yet another recall attempt. Even Rose's blog has been quiet.

I noted in Buhne's comments section that some decision about the Moore case was long overdue. The Times Standard seems to have taken my cue. Paul does owe the public an explanation for the length of this process. What is he waiting for? Are there more leads to follow up?

As for the hate brigade, coffee break's over! Pickins may be slim, but you've got work to do!

Anybody who needs a refresher on the issue click here.

Update: There! Maybe that title will wake some of them up. Man! No wonder they've lost three elections in a row.


Two words Benjamin. Plastics. Not.

Not in San Francisco anyway. Yesterday SF became the first city to ban plastic shopping bags from its supermarkets. I'm sure there'll be plenty of whining and court action, and rants about how San Francisco's "anti-business" climate is going to drive out jobs. Meanwhile, for every commercial property rental vacancy there will still be 100 applications despite the lack of rent control applicable to non-residential use. Downtown interests bitch, but they won't move as perpetually promised.

So instead of oil exhausting plastic bags that last forever, the city's residents will be forced to consume dead trees or certified recyclables.

From the article:
Plastic bags by the numbers

180 million

Roughly the number of plastic shopping bags distributed in San Francisco each year.

2 to 3 cents

Amount each bag costs markets, compared with anywhere from 5 to 10 cents for a biodegradable bag.

4 trillion to 5 trillion

Number of nondegradable plastic bags used worldwide annually.

430,000 gallons

Amount of oil needed to produce 100 million nondegradable plastic bags.

Source: S.F. Department of the Environment; Worldwatch Institute

For the record, we bring our own canvas bags to the market. Well, my wife does anyway. I tend to forget they're in the car.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Reggae Peace Flags

According to tonight's KMUD news the break-off group of ROR coordinators and People Productions will be distributing "peace flags" to be hung calling for an end to the community divisions over the current legal battles. There was some reference to other cultures which use these flags - I'm not too clear on the concept.

It sounds like a nice sentiment, but the problem is that the initiative is coming from one side which means essentially that the flags will be perceived as representing support for People Productions in the ongoing fight, whether this is the spirit in which it is offered. It might mean something else if the announcement had been joint with some Mateel supporters and Carol stayed out of it at least until it "took," but it seems too much like a manipulation in which one side is trying to convince the community at large that it is reasonable while the other side is militantly irrational.

The bottom line is that it's going to be viewed cynically and generate more resentment unless somebody from the Mateel side takes up the cause as well. I say this though I am willing to give PP and the coordinator faction the benefit of the doubt. But I imagine that tonight's broadcast has many Mateel supporters fuming. This will of course lead them to post here and elsewhere about the "hypocrisy" of the "maneuver," which will then lead to responses to the effect of "see, the Mateel supporters are just a bunch of ungrateful, angry, and intolerant people."

Prove me wrong folks. Please.

Addendum: Bob D. has the press release.


Reid to the rescue!

He may be anti-choice and conservative on some key social issues, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid delivered for the anti-war cause today. By a vote of 50-48-2 the provision of the war spending bill demanding a one year time-line for withdrawal from Iraq survived a challenge that included 2 members of the Democratic Party and one member of the recently formed it's-all-about-me Party.

The latter is of course Joe "let's-make-the-Senate-a-House-of-Lords" Lieberman, who was on NPR this morning whining that the provision would result in a presidential veto - a promise that probably kept some of the anti-war votes in line. Reid managed to keep DLC-type Democrats like Ben Nelson in line, and scored two Republican votes to offset the weenie factor in the Democratic Party. Kos has the details in the link above.

The bill still has to be reworked to reconcile with the House bill which is a bit more stringent. CNN has a few more details.

Meanwhile, give credit to Reid. And let the president veto troop funding if that's his wish.

Meanwhile, these Republicans are facing tough re-election campaigns next year. Their opponents have an issue.

Norm Coleman (MN)
Susan Collins (ME)
John Cornyn (TX)
Liddy Dole (NC)
Pete Domenici (NM)
Mitch McConnel (KY)
Pete Sessions (AL)
John Sununu (NH)
John Warner (VA)

This bill won't end the war. But it drastically reshapes the debate. It's not a question now of if we pull out, but when.

The photo is from Wikipedia.


First minor skirmish in the Marina Center proposal fight

Yet another storm brewing. I haven't had a whole lot of free time lately, but I will follow up on my promise to cover the issues of the Security National Balloon Track proposal.

From the Eureka Reporter:

A Balloon Track maintenance project that Citizens For Real Economic Growth’s spokesman Larry Evans referred to as “poorly considered and poorly documented” was stopped a day after it was begun.

Security National CUE VI started the project on Thursday, with plans to apply clean and crushed aggregate rock to its vacant Eureka parcel’s existing roadways, which, SN said, have not been maintained for close to 10 years.

“Concerned citizens and local community environmental and good government groups first became alarmed by the description of ground-disturbing work that could encroach on protected wetlands, as well as risking potentially dangerous releases of toxic wastes contaminating the site,” Evans stated in a news release.

One of the phone calls CREG and others made was to Eureka Community Development Department Director Kevin Hamblin.

Hamblin told The Eureka Reporter that when SN first approached the city in October 2006 with repair and maintenance questions and asked if a coastal-development permit was required, SN was told that per the state Coastal Act “road maintenance including road grading of potholes and things like that” was exempt.

But the exception is that “you can’t have mechanized equipment within 50 feet of the edge of an environmentally sensitive habitat area,” Hamblin said.

“They were just asking what was exempt and we told them,” he said. “They were getting ready to do (the) work (and) we started to receive a lot of complaints and concerns on Thursday.”

The city went to inspect, but it didn’t seem that SN was “going anywhere but on their roads,” Hamblin said.

“We were following the rules for the abatement of a nuisance, to allow needed emergency access for fire equipment, medical services and police,” SN Senior Vice President Brian Morrissey said in an e-mail response to The Eureka Reporter’s inquiry about the maintenance activities. “We invited Coastal Commission and city staff to observe our work to further ensure that no ESHAs were harmed.”

CREG said heavy equipment and “industrial-scale bilge pumps sprayed potentially contaminated water out of potholes.” Morrissey contends none of the work traversed into a wetland area.
More details in the article listed above. According to Hamblin as quoted in Hank Sims' Town Dandy column of last week, the project shouldn't draw much public attention until August. I figured I had some time, but it looks like the issue may already be heating up.

Shortly after I was drawn into the discussion I had an interesting conversation with Security National representative Brian Morrissey which as I've said appealed to my blue side as opposed to my green - Brian has said that they may be releasing local economic impact information that is more up to date than the BAE report based on a study made before the doomed Wal-Mart proposal of 9 years ago. For a summary of issues from the project opposition's point of view click here (contains several pertinent links). Security National commissioned a poll released shortly before last fall's election which indicates strong support for the project in Eureka, support which may have been reflected in the Eureka City Council race results. Assuming the poll was accurate, the question is whether that support will hold once these permit and court battles are underway.

For those who want to catch up there are numerous articles including this (biased but substantially accurate) timeline and a recent series in the Times Standard. The North Coast Journal had a very comprehensive cover story some months ago as well but I don't have time to sort out a search right now as their are dozens of stories there which incorporate "balloon track." Some help Hank?

Meanwhile, I guess I have to pull out my Balloon Track file and dust it off.

Photo is from Balloon Track Watch.


Reason vs. Faith, Hope, and Charity

The above painting is entitled Scene from the Life of St. Thomas Aquinas: The Debate with the Heretic, by Bartolomeo degli Erri, believed to be painted around 1465. It's part of the collection at the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco (you can zoom in on the image here). I've seen it so many times over the years and probably thought too much about it.

I'm assuming that the black robed figure is Aquinas. He appears twice in the painting, arguing and piously praying to St. Mary. But wasn't Aquinas accused of heresy? Is he the heretic, or is he arguing with one? The commentary on the wall of the museum suggests that his opponent is the heretic with the darkness of the outside of the church behind him. It also speculates as to whether the heretic is Jewish, or something I read makes the suggestion anyway. On the other hand, the heretic appears to be backed up by clergy, unless their physical positioning is coincidence.

Don't know why this painting has my attention, but every time I visit the museum I spend some time looking at it. It's not particularly brilliantly crafted. Has to be the subject matter. Aquinas is of course credited with paving the way for the Renaissance and ultimately the Enlightenment at least in terms of the power of reason, except as it applies to "theological virtue." But he gave license to reason.
Now the object of the theological virtues is God Himself, Who is the last end of all, as surpassing the knowledge of our reason. On the other hand, the object of the intellectual and moral virtues is something comprehensible to human reason. Wherefore the theological virtues are specifically distinct from the moral and intellectual virtues.

The Summa Theologica, Of the Theological Virtues
The theological virtues assigned to humanity are faith, hope, and charity, all of which are to be independent of reason. All else is in the human realm is within the purview of reason. From the same source:
Faith and hope imply a certain imperfection: since faith is of things unseen, and hope, of things not possessed. Hence faith and hope, in things that are subject to human power, fall short of the notion of virtue. But faith and hope in things which are above the capacity of human nature surpass all virtue that is in proportion to man, according to 1 Cor. 1:25: "The weakness of God is stronger than men."
I can live with that. Even a secularist like me acknowledges faith, that despite all of the aspects of human nature that divide us, there is something above (or beneath the surface) that connects us and can't be broken by our shortcomings. At least I like to see it that way.

Time for bed.

Monday, March 26, 2007


Kinetic Sculpture Race on the ropes

Captain Buhne notes - doesn't look good.

Looks like O7 is a bad year for Humboldt Festivals, North Country Fair excepted.



Well, I'm posting without comment at the moment. Maybe I'll have time to add something later.

From the Associated Press:
WASHINGTON - Monica Goodling, a Justice Department official involved in the firings of federal prosecutors, will refuse to answer questions at upcoming Senate hearings, citing Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination, her lawyer said Monday.

"The potential for legal jeopardy for Ms. Goodling from even her most truthful and accurate testimony under these circumstances is very real," said the lawyer, John Dowd.


There have been questions about whether Goodling and others misinformed Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty about the firings just before he testified before the Senate committee in February.

Dowd said that a senior Justice Department official had told a member of the Senate committee that he was misled by Goodling and others before testifying.

The potential for taking the blame for the department's bungled response "is very real," Dowd said. "One need look no further than the recent circumstances and proceedings involving Lewis Libby," he said, a reference to the recent conviction of Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff in the CIA leak case.

As an attorney, I can vouch for the use of the right even when you aren't guilty of anything. The law can be pretty messy at times. But in the political realm, it doesn't look good, especially in the context of perceptions of a broader cover-up. The question becomes whether there is a sincere fear of vulnerability to prosecution.


Open thread on everybody's favorite topic

The Reggae wars hearing is presumably happening as I'm typing.

I don't have a clear picture of what is happening, but the gist seems to be that today's injunction hearing may have be put off until April 6. I've also heard that the Mateel claim against Tom Dimmick has been separated from the claim against Carol's and set up for an arbitration process, presumably according to the lease agreement. I'm not certain whether the injunctive relief sought against him will be handled on April 6, or whether that would also be handled by an arbitrator. The case against People Productions/Carol would reportedly continue in court.

I don't know whether any of this is based on court orders or party stipulations. Apparently something is going to happen in court today, but I don't have any specific information. Possibly much of this information will be in the court file, which should be available to the public tomorrow once the judge no longer has it in chambers.

Maybe somebody has something else to report?

Addendum: As noted in the first comment of the thread, Anna "Banana" Hamilton has a My Word piece in today's Time Standard.

Update: According to Cristina Bauss' report last night the injunction portion of the action against Tom D. will remain with the court, while most of the rest of it is sent to arbitration. I didn't catch whether the new date is April 6 or a later date.

Sunday, March 25, 2007


$15,000 reward

Thanks to Cristina Bauss for the tip. David Brian Bernal II, Jennifer Bushnell's boyfriend, was officially named as the sole suspect in her murder last week. Her death was previous reported on this blog.

Her family joined a press conference with the sheriff in San Joaquin County on Thursday, offering the reward and some information.

This Lodi News article contains a photograph of Bernal. It's too small for me to make a clear posting of it on this blog program. The Tracy Press also covered the story.

From the Lodi article:
David Bernal is described as a white male, 6 feet 1 inch tall, 200 pounds, with brown hair and green eyes, though his hair may have been dyed. Anyone with information may contact Detective Larry Gardiman at (209) 468-4444, or the main Sheriff's Department line at 468-4400.
The article provides more information and some background to the incident.
Bernal, of Selma in Kings County, has numerous tattoos including "White Pride" across his stomach and a Confederate flag, and may have dyed his naturally dark brown hair blond, Detective Larry Gardiman said.

"We believe he is still in the Kings County area. He still has friends in the area that have been helping him," Gardiman said.

Bernal and Bushnell had been dating for several months, and she sometimes traveled from Redway in Humboldt County to see him. On Feb. 16, Bernal's mother called police after fleeing her home, saying that her son had brandished a gun and made threats, and was last seen dragging Bushnell into the house.
As soon as I can find a workable mugshot I'll post it. The photos of Jennifer are from the Lodi News article.

Addendum: Thanx to Cristina, here is the mug shot and other info.

Also, I'm told that he lived in Redway for a time, in a home on Redway Blvd. known for drug busts (creepy as it's not too far from my own home - I may have even greeted the guy while walking my dog). I wonder if there are any local leads to follow up on.


Mystery overpass

I've lived here now for over 11 years and I don't know why it's taken me this long to ask. There's an overpass at 101 a mile or two north of Myer's Flat and south of Weott. I assume it forks from the Avenue of the Giants to the west of the freeway, but where does it go to the east? Is there a subdivision I don't know about?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Saturday, March 24, 2007


Boots comes out swinging

No, not that Boots.

From Portside:
The Coup Calls Up MySpace Friends To Encourage G.I. Rebellion

Boots Riley Comes Out Swinging Against The War In Iraq

Boots Riley - The Coup's revered, thought-provoking MC - is hoping to utilize a post of his band's incendiary, anti-war song "Captain Sterling's Little Problem" on its MySpace Blog ( as a means to spark a G.I. Rebellion against the War In Iraq.

Riley is encouraging The Coup's 25,000 MySpace friends to download the Pick A Bigger Weapon track, which features guitar by Rage Against The Machine's Tom
Morello, for free and send it via email or burned CD to everyone they know in the military. In doing so, Riley believes the G.I. dissent could prompt Congress to act more decisively.

"I have this suggestion: the soldiers should demand to be returned home, using any means necessary to make this happen," Boots blogs. "This would lead to a swift end to this war, saving countless lives, both U.S. and Iraqi. Congress hasn't done more than give lip service to wanting the war to end. The people that are directly affected by this war are going to have to act."

"Captain Sterling's Little Problem" was originally recorded as the theme for "Sir! No Sir!," David Zieger's recent documentary of the Vietnam War. Inspired by the stories that some of the veterans tell in the film, Boots reports that "at one point a Pentagon report deemed half of the soldiers in Vietnam were 'mutinous and not to be trusted'," adding that "the largely unreported G.I. rebellions played a very important role in stopping the Vietnam war."

Counting lines like, "You brought us to this country not to free but bodybag them/And free up all their money so accounting firms can add them ," the scorching song - from the Associated Press' #1 album of 2006 - cannot be ignored.

"So far about 600,000 Iraqi civilians have died in this war and at least 3,100 U.S. soldiers have died," Riley writes. "Much has been publicized about the role that music plays in the military today. I've seen a few news segments about the music that soldiers are listening to on their Walkmans and MP3 players - how they listen to certain songs to get in the mood to do what they have to do. Besides the motivation of purely expressing my thoughts, my experience and my emotions, I also make music to influence people to see my point of view."

Riley - who was recently selected as keynote speaker for UC Berkeley's Black Graduation on May 12th - will join The Coup for an explosive set next month at The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on Sunday, April 29th.
Now, I don't think this could technically be charged as treason. But incitement? I suspect not, as it does not name a "time, place and manner" for the activity, and the presumption will be that it's hyperbole. Former anti-Vietnam war activist and leader Dan Siegel was acquitted for a speech Berkeley in the early 70s in which he said in a famous speech that somebody ought to burn down the ROTC building and sure enough it was burned down that evening. The prosecution could not prove that he had intended that anyone would actually take him literally.

10 to 1 the government doesn't pick this fight in any case.

Friday, March 23, 2007


Custom made kids

This Chronicle article explores the ethics of DNA tampering in fetuses.

Here's the big hot-button gumdrops: Science is now on the verge of being able to test for gayness in a fetus. It's true. It's the most recent genetic development and it comes hot on the heels of the fact that doctors are essentially this close to being able to let you choose anything you want about your kid, from gender to eye color to height to intelligence to parallel parking acumen to really superlative taste in stemware and designer watches.

This is the message: Get over yourself and your hollow moral indignation concerning baby customization, and do it quickly, because science is about to slap the entire universe of genetics and babydom upside the head, and it won't be pretty. Or rather, maybe it will be. Maybe it will be beautiful and interesting and messy and fun and dangerous and stupid and random and sad and absolutely insane. You know, just like life.

Here are but a few of the imminent questions: What would you do if you knew your unborn child was, without doubt, destined to be gay? Or what if you knew your unborn had all the DNA markings of, say, a drug addict? How about if you knew he was genetically predisposed toward becoming, oh, a severe Republican, one with, say, a vicious hate-filled talk-radio show somewhere in the Deep South that ranted about war and gays and uppity wimmin and the need for more prisons and guns in the schools?

Would you celebrate? Would you scream? Would you abort? Would you call Fox News and demand your own reality show? Or would you immediately seek medical treatment to turn that hapless helpless bundle of goo and tissue and possibility into a nice straitlaced bland-as-milk moderate Democrat with a thing for gardening and the missionary position and tepid travel magazines?

The article revolves around the question of sexual preference.

You'd better find your answer quick, because hard-core Christian right-wing Neanderthals are already oozing out of the woodwork to officially endorse medical treatment to reverse gayness in fetuses -- if it is, in fact, proven to be biological, a possibility which is itself already hurling the entire right-wing gay-hate machine into a bewildered frenzy, given how they have always insisted that gayness is a choice, one that can be "cured" through, you know, prayer and drugs and electroshock therapy.

Like so many things in life, it's all the fault of the sheep. Did you know? Seems upward of 10 percent of healthy rams are quite naturally gay. Twenty percent are naturally bisexual. Seems there is some staggering new evidence that points up similarities between ram brains and humans. Seems these similarities and their ramifications -- primarily, that homosexuality is very likely biological -- are potentially catastrophic, life-altering, explosive, no matter which side of the baby-customizing argument you normally take.

Of course, the "oozing" link about is to a NY Times article in which a right wing religious figure has incurred the wrath from right and left for comments endorsing the use of the technology to "cure" a fetus of homosexuality. His fellow right wingers are fuming over the implications, having invested their theology in the premise that homosexuality is a "lifestyle choice," rather than a biological inclination.

The Rev. R. Albert Mohler Jr., one of the country's pre-eminent evangelical leaders, acknowledged that he irked many fellow conservatives with an article earlier this month saying scientific research "points to some level of biological causation" for homosexuality.

Proof of a biological basis would challenge the belief of many conservative Christians that homosexuality — which they view as sinful — is a matter of choice that can be overcome through prayer and counseling.

Another question - can a propensity for murder be thwarted by DNA manipulation? What does that say about the "guilt" or "innocence" of DNA treatment deprived individuals with the propensity?

I do remember a discussion among feminists some years ago in which one woman argued that it was appropriate for lesbian couples to opt out of a pregnancy if the fetus was male. Another participant called the statement "brave." Yet another participant, herself a lesbian, responded: "Not brave. Brave New World maybe."


Times-Standard questions it's online comment policy

Facing pretty much the same issues the bloggers are dealing, the Times-Standard is asking for input.
A few months ago, we opened the news and opinion stories on to anonymous comments. In doing so, we stepped into an area of great promise for reaching an untapped segment of community views. But it also was a step into what can be a dark, ugly place.

There are several ways to approach this type of reader feedback:

1. Require commenters to register, be verified and use their own names, and block them if they use foul language, engage in personal attacks, or make threats.

2. Allow anonymous postings with no monitoring, just a “caveat emptor” warning a potential readers about all of the above.

3. Permit anonymity but offer a way for readers to tip the webmaster to comments they feel are offensive.

4. Allow anonymity, but either pre-screen comments for propriety or quickly delete those that stray from guidelines.

We started with Option 1, but after a promising start the comment strings drifted toward tasteless bullying and crude accusations totally unrelated to the original news topic. So we switched to Option 3, the current policy, but the vaunted “freedom of the Internet” is still too raw for many.

And the question I've been dealing with.

* There is a legal right to host objectionable reader commentary, but are there ethical or moral questions that should come into play, even in a society that believes in free speech?

* Do those questions apply to newspapers and individual bloggers in the same way?

* Should we recognize that a civil online discourse is no longer possible in Humboldt County without strict controls?

* Is there alternative way to screen out the most offensive comments that would be fair and acceptable?

* Would commenters be willing to give their real names or e-mail addresses, or to register for the right to offer feedback?

* Or should a mainstream medium such as the Times-Standard leave the hyperbolic, venomous opinions to the bloggers?

As noted in previous posts (I'll one of them link them later when I have the time), a webmaster cannot be held liable for defamatory or otherwise egregious posts made by others on his/her site (except possibly intellectual property violations). We have the immunity, which means we have the responsibility. As blogs number over 50 million, and perhaps by now much higher, we have to come up with protocols. Some have been proposed, but there is no sense of consensus on how to balance freedom of expression with the interests of potential targets and basic decency.

So I'll put the same questions to those who post here. Should I require registration? Will that do any good? Should I screen posts? This eliminates one of the crucial benefits of the blog, namely the quick exchange of information particularly as I am often hours between computer access or time to "moderate" - occasionally even days. What think you?

Thursday, March 22, 2007


Single Payer activists quietly plugging away - with some progress

Maybe the next president will sign something into law. Single payer isn't my choice - I'd opt for full-on socialized medicine. But I'll take any kind of universal coverage, which incidentally would hit adversely hit me and others in my profession in the pocketbook. I could live with it.

Many good things are happening
By Marilyn Clement

March 22, 2007, Submitted to Portside by the author

Many good things are happening across the nation as the single payer movement continues to develop. People ask the question, 'How could this have happened?How is it that there is only one healthcare plan in the nation that has a huge constituency of support? And we know the answer. It is because of your work.

Here are some of the exciting developments in the single payer movement:

1. We now have 62 co-sponsors ofH.R. 676 in just two months following its reintroduction in this new Congress-- as a result of your efforts.

2. The AFL-CIO has joined us as an endorser of single payer.

How did this happen? It happened because of the movement of local unions from the bottom up who studied the bill, endorsed it, and urged the AFL-CIO to join us over the past eighteen months. One volunteer, Kay Tillow, has worked tirelessly to make this happen.

3. Act-Up has joined us - one of the most militant organizations in the U.S. -the group that challenged Congress and the healthcare agencies to do the research and help to stem the tide of the AIDS epidemic in the 80's and 90's. Now they have made single payer, national healthcare their #1 issue.

4. The National Organization for Women has formally endorsed.

5. Newspapers all over the country are studying the issue, and many are endorsing. City councils are signing on. Two state democratic parties, New Hampshire and Washington State have endorsed single payer and will be pushing the national Democrats to move forward toward single payer in the coming election.

6. We met with the New York Times this week in a very good exchange on the issue.

7. And Congressman Conyers is planning a briefing for Congress members and the public on April 24th in Washington, D.C. YOU ARE INVITED. Be in touch with for more details.

One of the friends of single payer in the U.S. Congress is Maurice Hinchey. In addition to being a strong endorser of H.R. 676, he has introduced legislation that has forced the FDA to create new rules to protect us from the drug profiteers. When we achieve a national single payer system in the United States, we will have a system where the single payer (probably Medicare) will negotiate the cost of all drugs for all of us and have a strong mechanism for protecting our people.

We will have several elements of good business practices as a part of our national healthcare program including 'negotiating prices,' 'eliminating the unnecessary middle man (the insurance companies)' and 'purchasing in bulk'both durable medical equipment and prescription drugs since there will be 300 million of us in one large purchasing pool. This will be another of the great savings that will provide us with a quality healthcare system for all without spending any additional money.

Businesses, employees and employers will all save money. No more co-pays or deductibles and no more denials and out-of-pocket expenses for necessary medical care.

Hinchey's legislation and the FDA's response are described in today's story. F.D.A. Rule Limits Role of Advisers Tied to Industry. The new rules would bar government advisers who
receive money from a drug or device maker from voting on that company's products.

As the story notes, this is not the ultimate solution to the problem of FDA complicity with the drug profiteers,but it is a start.

H.R. 676, Conyers' United States National Health Insurance Act, is the only bill in Congress that pushes for a non-profit national healthcare system that will serve us all. It is the only bill among the many that have been introduced recently and among the state bills that are being considered that eliminates the role of the insurance companies, both in government-funded programs such as Medicare and SCHIP (the child healthcare program) and in the healthcare fund that will provide excellent healthcare to all of us.

As a result of the elimination of the insurance companies' role in healthcare, we will be able to cover one-third more healthcare. In other words, we could cover one-third more children if we didn't have insurance companies in the middle of the SCHIP program. We can cover one-third more people in the United States and provide 100% better benefits for all of us with H.R. 676.

Under single payer, H.R. 676, we will eliminate the waiting lines that keep about 50 million of our people suffering and dying, and we will be able to provide much better benefits, doctors who don't have to spend their time satisfying hundreds of insurance companies, hospitals that don't have to spend billions of dollars on exacting payment for hundreds of insurance, government and individual payers, mental healthcare, drug and alcohol treatment for all who need it; payment for prescription drugs; long-term care (how many of us have no long-term care insurance now?) and more. Everybody in; nobody out!'

Here are some of the things that you can do immediately to push forward real single payer legislation, H.R. 676. See more ideas at our website

1. Visit the editorial board of your newspaper;

2. Send letters to the editors and to columnists and writers of newspapers nationwide including the New York Times editorial board;

3. Get on the list for newspaper articles on a daily basis (write

4. HOLD AN EVENT or HEARING this coming month (APRIL) or soon in your neighborhood or state (See guidelines for organizing on our website.

INVITE YOUR CONGRESS MEMBER. But don't wait on Congress. It is the people's movement rising up from the bottom that will get us a national single payer healthcare system. No Congress or Presidential candidate is going to provide us with the healthcare system weneed without our massive efforts;

5. Call us for organizing suggestions. 1-800-453-1305 ;;

6. Make a contributionto Healthcare-NOW- now! Get a free book. We really need your support NOW.;

7. Order beautiful Martin Luther King, Jr National Healthcare Month posters and our 'Improved Medicare for All' booklet in Spanish or English. Bulk copies from our printers.;

8. Plan to VISIT YOUR MEMBER of CONGRESS in his/her local office during the first two weeks of April. Thank your members if they have signed onto H.R. 676. Insist that they do so if they have not;

9. Call or Fax Congressman Pete Stark's office to be sure that H.R. 676 is a part of the agenda for his healthcare hearings in May. Phone: (202) 225-5065; Fax: (202) 226-3805;

10. Get your City Council, State Legislature, Democratic or Republican State Committee, Union, Faith Community, Club, Community Organization or Local Business to endorse H.R. 676. See the growing list of endorsers at

11. Get a copy of John Conyers' inspirational 6 minute dvd Giant Steps' from Healthcare-NOW. See it on You Tube.

12. See our homepage to read about or use the power point about the problems with all of the other proposals being offered

13. Don't Complain;Organize!

Remember 'We are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For.'

Marilyn Clement, NationalCoordinator




Something for everybody - bridging the cultural divide

From Sojourners:

"The status of being a dissident unites dissidents on either side."

- Prof. Douglas Laycock of the University of Michigan Law School, commenting on the Supreme Court case of Joseph Frederick, a high school student suspended for displaying a banner reading "Bong Hits 4 Jesus." Briefs supporting Frederick have come not only from the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Coalition Against Censorship, but also from a host of conservative religious legal groups such as the American Center for Law and Justice (founded by the Rev. Pat Robertson), the Christian Legal Society, the Alliance Defense Fund, the Rutherford Institute, and Liberty Legal Institute. (Source: The New York Times)


The perils of pot growing

This San Francisco Chronicle article attempts to summarize the current legal climate around medical marijuana, with the obvious focus on state vs. federal law and recent seemingly contradictory decisions.

Some highlights:

Last week, two federal court rulings in San Francisco gave contrasting victories in the dispute over whether the medical use of marijuana, approved by California voters, should be prosecuted or permitted.

On March 13, a federal judge gave a win to the medical marijuana forces, tossing out most of the U.S. charges against cannabis activist and writer Ed Rosenthal, saying a five-year campaign to put him behind bars gave "the appearance of vindictiveness."

On the same day, however, another federal court ruled against Angel Raich, a severely ill Oakland woman who smokes marijuana to ease her chronic pain and had challenged U.S. laws against medical cannabis.

Federal seizures of California marijuana have risen steadily. Last year, Drug Enforcement Administration agents arrested 594 people in the state on marijuana charges and confiscated 3 million marijuana plants, up from 359 people and 880,000 plants in 2001, according to official statistics.

Yet the number of medical cannabis dispensaries -- authorized by Proposition 215, a 1996 state referendum allowing seriously ill adults to use marijuana with their doctor's approval -- has soared from about 100 to more than 300 throughout the state.

Federal and local authorities are at loggerheads over the issue.

Meanwhile, this article claims that Mexicans have replaced hippies as the primary growers. Did somebody take a survey? I don't know. It seems like the Mexican specter was used to sow fear 3 decades ago as well ("just tell them it's Colombian!").

Photo of Rosenthal in his garden courtesy of the SF Chronicle.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Wars and wars of words

Look, I oppose the war. And this gentleman's piece doesn't change my mind about it. But whether you agree with his take on the broader issues of the war, what is contained in the piece is an appeal to war opponents to take some care in their rhetoric. Activists would do well to think about Mr. Finlay when selecting their slogans and argument. For that matter, what would you say to the family of the woman he describes.
I just got back from a mission where we came upon a dead body in the middle of the road. Not a big deal, happens quite often, usually a middle-age man. But this time was different. She had her hands tied up behind her and had been tortured. She had the skin on her entire face ripped off. She had her pants pulled halfway down and her top ripped off.

She looked like she was American -- whether she was or not. She looked barely 21. Worst of all, we were forced to leave her in the middle of the road with a pack of dogs eating at her dead body ...

Driving away from her in the middle of the road was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I don't feel like a soldier is supposed to feel tonight because of the events that took place. It hurts too bad even to cry.

Okay. Certainly the victims of the death squads organized by the "good guys" don't look any better. You can come up with a thousand responses. Earlier today in response to Andy Stunich arguing that most Iraquis are probably grateful for the invasion (or were at one point anyway), I responded that the same may be true for dozens of other countries. But would I make the argument personally to a torture victim of Hussein's? Or somebody whose entire family "disappeared" under the regime? As controversial as it may be with some of my fellow war opponents, I do believe that most Iraqis are better off than they were under Hussein, even with the existing chaos. And I do also believe that it's beside the point in terms of justifying the invasion. But in speaking to a Hussein regime victim, I probably wouldn't bother to argue the point, which would seem cold or at minimum hyper-intellectual. Maybe I would. I'd play it by ear.

But in no case would I ever tell them, nor any soldier, nor any family of a victim or soldier, that the soldier "died for nothing." Whether the war is wrong, the soldiers did not die for nothing. At minimum, they died for an idea or a hope. And hopefully for more.

I do note that Mr. Finlay is allowed to speak his support for the war. Any of his fellow soldiers who might disagree is not free to voice that dissension.

Oh, I started to read the comments attached to the Times-Standard piece. The first two posts, one on each side of the issue of the war, were very disappointing and completely missed the point. I didn't bother to read beyond them. But in it's 50 plus years of existence, I would hope that the peace movement has collectively learned better. Unfortunately, even with like 60 percent war opposition, the peace movement appears to be blowing it.


Study: Hospital closings are bad for small communities

Stop the presses.

The Redwood Times published this article which discusses the first study to address the economic impacts of hospital closings. The article doesn't discuss the local angle, but it goes without saying.

The essence:
The study tracked the economic well-being of 140 counties nationwide that experienced a hospital closure between 1992 and 1998. In the three-year period after a lone hospital closed, researchers found the communities' local per capita income levels fell by four percent, or roughly $703, and did not recover to pre-closure levels.

”Our findings suggest that in certain situations, it may be in a community's long-term interest to directly support a hospital in order to ensure its long-term survival,” said Dr. Mark Holmes, a senior research fellow for health economics at UNC's Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research.

Again, my next radio show will be dedicated to the upcoming parcel tax vote. I know it's a distraction from the Reggae conflict, but please bear with those of us who think there are other topics of importance to Sohum.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


3 out of 4 Jews oppose the Iraq war

Doesn't surprise me given that almost 90 percent of voting Jews chose Democrats last fall, but maybe it surprises a few others around here enough to inspire them reconsider the anti-semitic crap they spew across the Internet. Call me an optimist.

Of course, it could inspire the opposite from some others. Maybe it's a pointless exercise anyway. According to at least one person around here, most of those polled aren't even real Jews.
On the fourth anniversary of the war on Iraq, a coalition of Jewish leaders announced the launch of 'Jews Against the War' (JAW), an organization dedicated to ending the Iraq war and preventing one with Iran. The group will also focus on mobilizing the overwhelming majority of Jewish Americans opposed to the war - demonstrated by a new Gallup poll showing 77% of Jews believe the Iraq War was a mistake, compared with 52% of the general American public.
Follow the link for more about JAW. I'm more interested in the poll.


Another PALCO bankruptcy event tonight

What: Presentation and discussion regarding PL Bankruptcy
When: Tues, March 20, 7:00pm
Where: HSU campus (Arcata), Science B, Rm 135

You are all invited to a presentation and discussion regarding the Pacific Lumber Bankruptcy! Mark Lovelace of Humboldt Watershed Council will give a power point presentation outlining the economic and related history of Pacific Lumber since the Maxxam takeover. Also, the presentation will aid in our understanding of the Pacific Lumber chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization process and possibilities. Open discussion and refreshments will follow. All are welcome. This free event will be held Tuesday, March 20th at 7:00pm, Science B 135.


More cute kid stuff

On Sunday night my wife decided that we were going to have a family meeting so that the kids could have some input on "family rules." Naturally, my 5-year-old was full of ideas including rules from school, mostly about respect for others and safety. Then he came up with some rules about issues for which he's gotten into trouble.

The little one, two and a half, sat quietly until asked if she had any rules to suggest. "No putting the kitty in the garbage." That was all she had to add.

I didn't dare ask.


Paging Don Qixote?

Shell Oil is proposing a "huge" wind power project in the hills to the south of Ferndale. I know that environmentalists have complained about the impact of wind power on birds (who fly into them apparently - and the magnitude and effects of mitigation techniques are a matter of dispute). Probably other environmental issues will be raised.

On the other hand, environmentalists have to let up somewhere. We need power obviously and pretty much everything we do is going to have some environmental impact.

Somebody at a website called "Treehugger" (also linked above) makes the following observation:
It's a given that anytime we post a story on wind power someone is going to comment that "turbines kill birds," suggesting that wind power may therefore be unacceptable. Compared to what? Hitting birds with automobiles (along with turtles, groundhogs, and deer)? Birds caught by feral cats? Birds colliding with buildings or phone towers? Quite possibly, a higher mortality will be attached to the transmission wires needed to get the wind power to market. Why, then, do many associate bird mortality only with wind turbines? We hope to get to the bottom of this "death by turbine" myth hole, and point to the factors that can actually be managed though public involvement.
The article then discusses in more detail some of the mitigating factors, and some of the bird-death stats.

Photo source.

Monday, March 19, 2007


Open thread on Saturday's peace demonstration

A blog regular just called me to ask why none of the bloggers was reporting on Saturday's peace demo at the courthouse. If anybody has any information please post it and I'll move some or all of it to the main post.

I drove by it but unfortunately couldn't do more than honk in support. I had no idea it was happening until that moment. Was this a demo exclusive to ESP gifted opponents of the Iraq war?

Also, I know my advice often falls on deaf ears. At least this demo took place on a weekend when working people could attend. But if you want to broaden your base, avoid vulgarities and focus the demo on a point of unity. Many people opposed the invasion of Iraq, but not necessarily the invasion of Afghanistan. And really, the 911 conspiracy folk should organize their own demos for that particular issue.


Gonzales out?

From Daily Kos:
Via Think Progress, two updates on the GonzaleProsecutorPurgeOGateORama, or whatever the hell we're calling it. First, CNN and Time report that the Justice Department will be performing a 2000 page document dump this evening. (In theory, it's already happened, but we'll have to wait for confirmation.) Time:

All of Washington is now anxiously awaiting the release of documents later today that could well determine the fate of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Meanwhile, the specifics of one firing, that of San Diego Prosecutor Carol Lam, is getting curioser and curioser.

The documents in question will be made public "by the close of business" Monday, according to a just-released Justice Dept. announcement.

Second, Mike Allen at Politico reports that replacements for Gonzales are being explored.

Meanwhile, Fox News may have gone Orwellian following a recent interview with Sen. John Kerry - altering its transcript to mitigate a misrepresentation, perhaps inadvertent, of its reporter Chris Wallace. You'd think a news agency would know better than anyone that a cover-up is often bigger news than the underlying issue.


Update: Rep. John Conyers and Linda Sanchez will be issuing subpoenas to Karl Rove and would-be Supreme Court Justice Harriet Miers.


Taunya Stapp has some remarks about alleged settlement proposals

Bob Doran has the remarks posted over on his blog. Most of it has already been said, although there are some interesting new points as well.

She brings up once again the possibility that licensing a trademark can lead to its permanent loss to the licensee. I'd really like to see some law on that, and whether there is any way a licensor can protect itself while granting the license.

She also puts the kabosh on the Summer Arts Fair at Dimmick Ranch suggestion.

Well, the moment of truth comes next Monday.


Night Time on the City of New Orleans at Arcata

Arlo Guthrie and his children and grandchildren are playing at the Van Duzer on April 17th at 8:00 p.m. as part of "The Guthrie Family Legacy Tour" - celebrating four generations of music. It's being described as a "multi-media concert."

It's of course a Center-Arts event. I used take advantage of their bulk rate ticket offerings in a remote lifetime prior to children. I'm thinking one of us might go with my son who's just about at the right age to appreciate the music.

The flier I happened on cites the All Music Guide as saying "(Arlo) is the best interpreter of his father's songs..." Probably true, but while I've always enjoyed Woodie Guthrie's work, I've never found it particularly deep or difficult to comprehend. But maybe I just haven't listened to the right lyrics.

Of course, red diaper (grand)babies like myself have always appreciated the irony that the Boy Scouts and other youth group campers often sing a song written by a fellow traveler. Of course, they never get to the "good stanzas." Well, I'm sure they did at Camp Wo Chi Ca (attended as children by my father-in-law and his childhood friend David Horowitz).

Photo is from Guthrie's website.

Sunday, March 18, 2007


Green Flea Market

SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS and indulge your shopping urge with a *green* conscience!

We are putting together a range of items, gently used, new, and otherwise, to offer a shopping experience that can’t be beat:

EPIC, Friends of Small Places, Humboldt Baykeeper, Salmonid Restoration Federation, Humboldt Watershed Council, Sierra Club, Restoration Leadership Project, Jacoby Creek Land Trust, Institute for Sustainable Forestry, Table Bluff Wiyot Tribe, Friends of the Eel River, Friends of the Van Duzen River

Everything Under the Sun Flea Market

The Bayside Grange

2297 Jacoby Creek Road, Bayside

Saturday, March 31st

9:00 am – 3:00 pm

Admission $1.00

We’ll have coffee, tea, popcorn and sweet treats for sale throughout the Grange. We’ll have music and good company while you browse. The Aleutian Goose Festival is happening 3/30-4/1, so you can shop in between field trips!

For more information,

Contact Jessica (NoHum) at 707-768-1943, or

Jan (SoHum) at 707-923-2931,


If you are interested in supporting one of the above groups by donating your gently used clothes, toys, books, plants, knick knacks, furniture, tools, toiletries, household items and anything else you can think of (BUT NO COMPUTER OR ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT, PLEASE!), contact them individually about where and when to make drop-offs.

EPIC will happily receive donations for our portion of the sale on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, March 26-28, at our office at 3501 Redwood Drive in Redway (across from the Briceland Road turnoff). Call Jan if you need a NoHum EPIC drop-off site, or before bringing large furniture, as our office space is small and we may have to make storage arrangements.


The power of blogs

Heraldo notes that the US attorney firings story has been traced back to two high profile progressive blogs. This is not the first major story to be broken by blogs, but it may be the biggest.

A couple of years ago Wolf Blitzer was on the air whining about how blogs were forcing the mainstream media to cover stories they wouldn't otherwise deem newsworthy.

But don't get the wrong impression. Blogging may be an important weapon in the political/media wars, but as we learned in 2004 the medium is not exclusive to the left.

Friday, March 16, 2007


Moments of mental fatigue

Had a few of them today. I really need this weekend to be here, and by the time I stop typing it should be in my lap.

Today's mental lapses are boring by comparison. About a year or so ago I had a Twilight Zone category lapse that probably had the local constabularies in stitches. Normally I walk the office mail down to the post office at the end of the day. It's a short walk across the overpass almost into the center of Garberville. It gives me a break before the last lap of work, a little fresh air, and maybe a quick conversation with somebody on the street to take me away from the grind.

Well, one day I had some boxes to mail, too heavy to carry that far. So I drove them down. I intended to be in for just a few moments, so I left the doors unlocked. The line was a bit longer
than I'd expected so by the time I was walking out my autopilot kicked in and I traversed the crosswalk and headed back to the office on foot.

So I worked for another hour or so, packed up and got ready to leave. Outside the parking lot was empty. My car had been "stolen!" My secretaries were long gone, so I figured it had to be very recent. Naturally I called the sheriff's office who immediately sent somebody out to investigate.

I'm outside thinking about how I'm going to make certain arrangements to rent a car and I lean on the front railing where I happen to glance down Sprowel Creek Road. By what seemed like an incredible coincidence I noticed a car just like mine parked in front of the post office. Go figure!

It took a couple of seconds to register. I probably turned beet red at that moment as the deputy was pulling in. I apologized, he laughed and left, and I headed home to a nice meal and a beer - in my stolen car.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


In the local headlines

Some topics of local interest for discussion.

First off, it looks like the county just can't let go of the suit against Bob McKee over Tooby Ranch. Because I have clients involved, I won't comment. But McKee's attorneys having recently won a motion to compel the deposition of Second District Supervisor Roger Rodoni, I wonder if they're looking for an appellate stay to buy time.


The Times-Standard article on the demise of the local fishing industry raises some questions.

Pellegrini, wife of longtime Eureka fisherman Paul Pellegrini, told members of the Humboldt Taxpayers' League on Wednesday that she expects the fleet to continue to shrink over the next decade with stricter regulations and industry troubles.
So what are the "industry troubles?" Fish depletion and lower prices. She later says, ”the problem is the industry got really good at catching fish.” This is what my relatives who fish out of Crescent City also say. So the problem is basically that the fishing industry is over-regulated and out of control. Can somebody explain that?


Meanwhile, the Teamsters are busy with striking lawyers to the south, and creamery workers to the north. The creamery workers rejected the latest management contract offer. The lawyers are going to mediation.


Southfork High School's gym improvements drew the attention of the Times Standard.


And in a story for which I'll have more comment at a later time, the Arcata Marsh is under regulatory attack. Whether it is in fact an environmentally safe means of dealing with waste, and whether it actually harms the Bay, the
Water Resources Control Board says that the system violates the law. Looks like another local public entity will be fighting a court battle. Seems to be an epidemic.


For the Reggae conflict junkies

Alright, let's start with Tom Dimmick's press release as C&Ped from Bob Doran's blog.
Open Letter to the Community From Tom Dimmick

This community and I have enjoyed Reggae on the River for 23 years. In this spirit, I purchased the Dimmick Ranch and structured a lease for use of the land. That lease was intended to help fund the land’s purchase and the insurance policies necessary for a large-scale event, and in the greater sense, to serve as the new “home” of our annual reggae festival.

Through my experience with the MCC, as a neighbor and landlord, I came to know People Productions and developed confidence in their ability to manage this large-scale event. This played into my willingness to purchase the land and take on the accompanying liability. It also drove me to include PP explicitly in my lease with MCC for use of the land. When Mateel removed PP as producer, the lease was clearly breached and, as a result, terminated.

To ensure public safety, mitigate county agency requirements and accommodate the festival, more than $400,000 worth of infrastructure and equipment were needed. Of this expense $300,000 was covered by the MCC, while I contributed more than $100,000 – a figure above and beyond the $50,000 contracted amount.

We spent countless hours implementing the requirements of various state, county and city agencies to make the 2006 ROTR the best it could be. We also worked closely with MCC members, PP, community volunteers and many of the regions’ non-profit organizations. Together we developed new operational plans for every area. CHP and CalTrans concerns about traffic flow on Friday morning and a new entry location for the festival, necessitated a complete revision of the traffic plan. We instituted the sale of Thursday night arrival, Pre-Sale Camping for the Dimmick Ranch and Cooks Valley Camping Area, and this effectively solved the traffic problems. This crucial mitigation has already been overlooked by the new producer who lacks institutional history.

PP has the institutional history to produce this event. Carol Bruno and much of her staff have 23 years invested in ROTR. I’ve taken in the festival, invested in it and given it a permanent home when it might have otherwise been “homeless” or worse. Yes, the MCC profits the most from this event. But the way I see it, we all have an investment here, and we all stand to lose.

More than a half dozen offers – offers that allow the MCC to recoup its expenses for the Dimmick Ranch infrastructure and equipment AND realize a return on this investment – have been put on the table. Offers for lucrative licensing arrangements have been made. All are aimed at avoiding litigation – an expense, and one with the potential to involve costly damages for our community center. I’ve actively and aggressively explored settlement in formal settings, through “friends” and directly – all the while making it clear that I am open to counter-offers.

To preserve an annual reggae festival for Dimmick Ranch, PP, the fans and our local non-profits that rely on it for their funding, Reggae Rising was launched. While I’ve had an early legal victory in avoiding a temporary restraining order that would have barred the event, I’ve continued to work toward an equitable win-win-win settlement for the three parties invested in the event – and a win for the community.

Now, MCC is selling ROTR tickets to a venue they do not have a right to occupy. The promotion of the event has already violated the spirit of the traffic plan we worked hard to hammer out. Continuing in this manner will hurt us all and threatens to bring down this fine tradition due to safety concerns. It most definitely increases the chance that the lawsuits will be fought to completion. If that happens, any chance for a reasonable settlement with the potential to preserve the original spirit of event and the financial integrity of the MCC AND the Dimmick Ranch will be gone forever. If the MCC continues on its current path, it may well bring down not only itself, but also the festival that has become so important to the community.

Despite the lawsuits, festival confusion, and community division The Dimmick Ranch and People Productions remain committed to helping the MCC through its’ financial short falls. The Dimmick Ranch and PP agenda is to: produce and host a world-class reggae festival that’s safe for all attendees, heals the community spirit, and supports our nonprofit organizations, including the MCC.

Very Truly,
Tom Dimmick
And Taunya Stapp responds to rumors about settlement discussions.
For clarification: While there are a lot of wild card third person parties attempting to reconcile a discussion between the MCC and the private parties involved (so I am told and so I hear the rumors of), the Mateel has never authorized any person to negotiate on their behalf. This task remains steadfast in the hands of the board and myself, as executive director.

There are more than a dozen collective minds and experience working on this issue at the Mateel. This, again is one of the benefits of a nonprofit and board of directors. It is rather difficult to be unreasonable when so many parties have to come to a consensus on major actions. Suffice it to say then that had the Mateel's real concerns been met by any offer proposed at any time there would be no reason I can personally think of not to accept such an offer.

Were this a simple issue then it would have been resolved a long time ago. To lead the community into thinking that this is easily solvable seems unkind at this juncture. To remind us all that our ears and minds should be open for reasonable solutions is smart and the MCC takes this in good advice. Nonetheless, the issue and the needs of all parties involved are complex.

There will be more discussion on this topic at next week's board meeting (Tuesday at 5:30 at the MCC). Please join us.

Taunya Stapp
Executive Director
Mateel Community Center
And Bob received an e-mail from Boots Hughston with a line-up list containing two additions. Bob comments as follows:
Note: I received two e-mails this evening around the time I was discussing Reggae business on KHUM radio. One was an updated list from 2b1 of who is booked for Reggae on the River. Much is on the RoR website already but there are two significant additions: Ky-Mani Marley — somewhat surprising given the long relationship Carol Bruno and People Productions have with the Marley boys — and Luciano with Dean Fraser, which struck me mainly because Reggae Rising has announced Sly and Robbie with the Taxi Gang — and Dean Fraser is closely associated with the Gang.

Oh, and I'm at the point where I've almost stopped caring. Don't have the energy to invest anymore. In fact, between this whole thing and Sean Paul/Buju Banton and the hypocrisies surrounding it all, I'm presently pretty soured on reggae music in general. I haven't listened to any of my reggae discs or tapes in quite some time, not even "roots." I'll be ready to help pick up the pieces when it's all over, which could be years from now if the money holds out on all sides. I'll keep posting news as I get it, and maybe I'll write up a postmortem when it's all finished, but I'm pretty much sucked dry at this point.

There is life after reggae.

Addendum: Boots Hughston responds to rumors of recent settlement discussions over at Bob Doran's blog.

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