Crime and the Response by Local Government: A Town Meeting

Kym Kemp / Friday, Jan. 16 @ 7:30 a.m. / Crime , News

UPDATE 3:21 p..m.: KMUD News has full audio of the meeting. (Click on this link to go to the post.)

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Original post: Residents of Southern Humboldt, like those across the county are worried about crime. At a town meeting in Redway on Thursday evening, new District Attorney Maggie Fleming and Supervisor Estelle Fennell as well as representatives from the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office and the California Highway Patrol were on hand to hear their concerns and present new ideas on how to address the issue. 

Fleming said that while her office currently has about 10 attorneys she is trying “to get back to 15 attorneys.” She decried the minimal court service in the Southern Humboldt area and said she would like to see community court happen more frequently.

Undersheriff William Honsal of the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office reported that his office is working towards 24 hour coverage in Southern Humboldt. Recently, he said, “There has been two deputies on the weekends.” With money from the recently passed Measure Z, he explained, the Sheriff’s Office hopes to add “up to 12 new deputies to our force.” These deputies will work all over the county. Some of those will be working in Southern Humboldt, Hansal said. “The goal is, if we can get enough revenue, to get the [Garberville Sheriff’s] substation back running,” he explained.

However, Honsal pointed out that the money from Measure Z won’t be seen right away. “We don’t see the first check until June. It takes a year to train a deputy. So we’re looking at a year to a year and a half to see changes.”

Many of the residents at the meeting were worried about what is happening now.

“Lately, the crime rate is unbelievable here,” said Amber Wallan, a community member. Wallan said locals were often uncomfortable approaching law enforcement. “We call 911 in life threatening situations and get told they’ll come down tomorrow. What is so important in Eureka that is taking precedence over our lives and our children?” she asked.

Many people described waiting hours for law enforcement to arrive. John Jennings who works for a local non-profit, the Mateel Community Center, described catching an individual who had stolen $3000 worth of merchandise from a vendor at an event. The thief was stopped by Jennings and others in the street nearby. He said that he “had to hold them for an hour and half” while waiting for law enforcement to respond. “We don’t know what to do. We can’t handcuff them. We can’t ziptie them… . People are frustrated…People are pissed off,” he stated. Jennings, like others, said he is worried that members of the community are ready to turn to vigilantism.

Jennings, again like many others, blamed hard drugs for an increase in crime. “We have a serious methamphetamine/heroin problem,” he said. “The methamphetamine problem is off the hook.”

Eric Lively, a Shelter Cove resident, described distrust between residents and law enforcement. “I’m not afraid of the junkie or a tweeker. I’m afraid of you,” he said looking at the officers from the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office. 

The new District Attorney and law enforcement officers addressed the trust issue. Maggie Fleming, the recently elected DA said, “I would ask people from this community to trust to us.” Fleming said that people should not be afraid to come to talk to her office about a crime just because they were involved with marijuana.  “There are people who are victims of horrible sex crimes that are afraid to report because it is associated with a marijuana grow….That is not what this is about,” she said. “Our concern is with public safety. Please do know that when you have a crime report that is what we are going to address.”

Honsal said that he recognized that it was “going to take a bit of time to establish trust.” But he asked that the community “trust the direction that we’re going.” He reminded the community that the Sheriff’s Office was making changes. “We hope that one day when you call with a burglary at 1 a.m. that we can respond right then.” However, he acknowledged that 24/7 coverage in the Southern Humboldt area was still a goal that his office was working towards.

However, Sgt. Jesse Taylor also of the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, who begins his new assignment in Southern Humboldt on the 18th, explained that local residents should be seeing more law enforcement. He will be encouraging his deputies to walk through town more often. “I think for a long time Southern Humboldt has lacked foot patrols—a visible presence,” he said. “Among certain groups, certain…for lack of a better term…criminals there is no sense of repercussions… . I think you will see a significant change soon but certainly over time.”

Meanwhile, residents asked what they could do to protect themselves now. Honsal suggested getting “surveillance systems, gates and dogs,” he said. He also suggested that people “be careful who you invite to your home. Lock your homes. Make sure areas around your home are well lit.” 

The Chamber of Commerce had suggestions, too. Cinnamon Paula, its executive director, suggested, “If you are wanting to be part of change, there are lot of community organizations that are already doing things. Join up with one of those groups whether it is cleaning up or planting flowers or… .” She also pointed out that the Sheriff’s Office has a site for online reporting of crimes (click here to go to it) that would create a paper trail and allow community members to quickly report non threatening situations without waiting for a deputy to respond.

One small business owner suggested that the community “take back the town” from the criminal element by being more present publicly. “We gave those people our town by us not being out there.” She asked community members to not only participate in community events but walk through town frequently.

Supervisor Fennell suggested that people snap shots of situations that need to be addressed and send the photos to her office. Fennell says the images help her convince others of the problematic situation. “Those pictures work miracles. It really really helps,” she said.

Saying that ” the houseless are also part of our community,” local resident Felix Omai blamed the county’s problems on “a national addiction problem and a national poverty problem.” She pointed out that “the houseless are also part of our community” and she urged getting mental health care, public toilets, and providing a place “for the trimmigrants to hang out” where they could get hired.

Omai said that this and similar infrastructure was needed. “We could get rid of all the undesirables and next year it would look the same because we don’t have the infrastructure,” she said.


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[Updated With Better Photo] Art Defaced and Stolen at Mad River Tap Room

Ryan Burns / Thursday, Jan. 15 @ 3:35 p.m. / Art , Beer , Crime

We here at the Lost Coast Outpost know as well as anyone that when we pour alcohol down our gullets it affects our judgment. We may strive to be morally upstanding and considerate, but when our brains swim in enough beer their higher functions tend to melt away, leaving behind childlike ids that grasp drunkenly for immediate gratification.

We’re guessing that’s what happened to the Mad River Tap Room patron who stumbled into the bathroom and spotted a beaded, handcrafted reproduction of the familiar Steelhead Extra Pale logo on the wall. He (or she) must have seen it and responded to the monosyllabic impulses of his inebriated noggin:

“Like!”

“Want!

“Take!”

Well, if that was you — or one of your friends — you may want to hear the backstory on your new souvenir. Tap Room Manager Gini Noggle explained in an email:

The art in question was a piece from our “Better Than Beer” contest we held in September as part of our 25th Anniversary Celebration. This piece was a large, framed keg made of fabric, with our name across the top and 25 in Roman numerals at the bottom. On the keg part the artist had handcrafted a label from a Steelhead package, hand-decorating the salmon in beads and making the river out of blue and white flowers and beads. It was beautiful and I bought it at the silent auction at the end of the “Better Than Beer” contest as a keepsake for the brewery. 

At some point this week (between Sunday night and Wednesday afternoon) someone went into the bathroom it hung in and peeled that pretty label off AND F@#%ING STOLE IT. I noticed it was gone Wednesday afternoon before I left work, and spent last night confirming with employees it hadn’t just fallen off or anything. Nope. It’s GONE. And I’m pretty upset.

Because not only was it a pretty cool memento for our 25th anniversary, but it was made by one of my closest friends, Christina Medeiros, who did all the handiwork WHILE RECOVERING FROM SURGERY AND ON CHEMO FOR STAGE FOUR COLON AND LIVER CANCER. Her husband texted me after I bought the piece, “Christina had a very fun time making the art, it kept her mind off of all her health issues.”

While there’s not a real monetary value to this art (I paid $50, half of which went to charity) there is most definitely a personal value to it and I’d really, really like it back.

So, yeah. Maybe you should peel that thing off your dorm room door and return it. Just a thought. 

Anyone with info can contact Noggle by emailing gini@madriverbrewing.com or calling 668-4151, ext. 108. We promise: Your next beer will taste better.



Students Talk About Upcoming Native American Activism Conference

Cliff Berkowitz / Thursday, Jan. 15 @ 9:36 a.m. / Activism

This morning KHUM’s Cliff Berkowitz spoke with two Humboldt State University students — Sinay Bishop, with Intertribal Student Drum, and Connor Handly, vice president of the Indigenous Peoples Student Alliance. They spoke about The Native American Activism Conference taking place MLK Day weekend (Jan 18-19) with two days of distinguished speakers from across the region, traditional dancers, and music in the evening.

The conference is in response to recent attacks on HSU’s Native programs by the administration. It’s a great example of the resiliency of indigenous people because the campus community of Native folks and allies have strengthened in the face of adversity.

Audio



(UPDATED) Large-Scale DEA Raids in Eureka, Hoopa Today

Hank Sims / Thursday, Jan. 15 @ 9:17 a.m. / Crime

UPDATE, 4:15 p.m.: Lt. George Cavinta tells the Outpost that 13 people were arrested in today’s sweep — eight in Eureka and five in Hoopa. They were arrested on a mix of federal, state and local charges, most or all of which stemmed from the longstanding federal investigation mentioned below. At least one and possibly more people were hit with illegal possession of weapons charges.

That’s about all the information available at the moment. More will be released tomorrow, Cavinta said.

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The Drug Enforcement Administration will be serving several search and arrest warrants around Humboldt County today — mostly in Eureka and Hoopa — with the assistance of a number of other local and federal law enforcement agencies.

Lt. George Cavinta of the Humboldt County Drug Task Force, which will be assisting the feds in serving those warrants, told the Outpost this morning that today is the culmination of a year-and-a-half federal investigation into a drug trafficking organization based in Humboldt County.

Cavinta said that the DTF and the DEA have divided into two teams — one based at the Eureka Police Department and the other up in Hoopa. He declined to give many specifics about the investigation or the locations that will be raided, but said that a lot of information would be released at the end of the day.



Judge Rules Against Billboard Company in Safety Corridor Case

Ryan Burns / Wednesday, Jan. 14 @ 4:41 p.m. / Business , Government

A billboard that was cut down and then resurrected, both without permission.

CBS Outdoor, the company that owns about 20 billboards along the Hwy. 101 “safety corridor” between Arcata and Eureka, cannot sue the California Coastal Commission and other government agencies over a requirement to remove those billboards — at least it can’t sue yet — according to a ruling issued last week by Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Bruce Watson.

As you may recall, the Coastal Commission had made removal of those billboards — “to the maximum extent feasible” — a condition of approval for Caltrans’ planned 101 corridor improvement project. The project aims to improve safety and reduce delays by making structural changes to the corridor, including median closures at most intersections, a half signal at the Airport Boulevard intersection and an overpass at Indianola Boulevard.

Billboard removal was included as a condition, one of four such conditions of approval, as a way to mitigate the loss of scenic bay views once the overpass is erected. (Other conditions include putting a Class 1 bicycle trail in the project plans, wetland mitigation and planning for sea-level rise.)

In response, CBS Outdoor filed a lawsuit against the Coastal Commission, as well as Caltrans and the Humboldt County Association of Governments (HCAOG), arguing that forced removal of those billboards would deprive the company of its property rights. The company’s lawyers also argued that the Coastal Commission didn’t give CBS Outdoors enough notice about its decision, thus violating its due process rights.

In his ruling, filed Friday, Judge Watson said that it’s too early to sue — or, in legalese, “this matter is not ripe” — because CBS hasn’t been ordered to remove any billboards yet.

“Caltrans is only required to submit a plan that satisfies the Executive Director” of the Coastal Commission, the ruling points out. “[T]he submitted plan could possibly conclude that removing CBS’s billboards is infeasible,” among other possibilities, the ruling states. Caltrans has yet to even apply for a coastal development permit on the project, so the lawsuit is premature, Watson ruled.

A footnote, here: In October CBS Outdoor, one of the largest outdoor advertising companies in the world, rebranded itself as Outfront Media. New name, same company.

HCAOG was lumped into the lawsuit because it’s in charge of arranging financing for the project. Reached by phone this afternoon, HCAOG Executive Director Marcella Clem said, “I’m very happy.” The decision to dismiss the case “saved the public money,” she added. “And we’ll just wait for the Coastal Commission hearing.”

In the meantime, it remains unclear exactly whose ground those billboards sit on. The Humboldt County Public Works Department did a location assessment back in 2007 and found that 16 of 18 billboards surveyed were located on land owned by the North Coast Railroad Authority, a public agency that hasn’t officially given permission for the billboards. But exact property lines have been tough to identify since, according to Caltrans, some of the historical documents spelling it out are more than a century old.

Caltrans recently completed its own survey of the land along the corridor (a project that began roughly a year ago) and submitted it to the county for certification. If the county surveyors disagree with Caltrans’ analysis then the two agencies will have to square their findings before the matter can be clarified.

Meanwhile, Caltrans continues to move forward with planning the 101 improvement project. 

Caltrans spokesman Eli Rohl said this afternoon, “Basically [the court] said to come back when something has actually happened.”

If the past is any precedent, Outfront Media (née CBS Outdoor) will do just that. A call to the company’s lawyers was not returned by 5 p.m.



Arcata Police Department’s Most Wanted

Kym Kemp / Wednesday, Jan. 14 @ 2:40 p.m. / Crime

 

This is the best resolution currently available.



Here is a List of Baby Red Panda Names For You To Vote On, Fuzzy Lovers

Andrew Goff / Wednesday, Jan. 14 @ 1:24 p.m. /

It is not right for baby red pandas to remain nameless. Thus, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to click on over to the Sequoia Park Zoo’s Facebook page where you’ll find a contest aiming to finally bestow monikers to the pair of female cute-a-licious fuzz balls born in Eureka last summer. The catch: The zookeepers have already narrowed things down to the list of acceptable names below. (Zookeepers know best, y’all!)

See how these names strike ya:

  • Oolong and Chai
  • Semper
  • Vira
  • Song
  • Sonya
  • Miko (Japanese)
  • Nava (Hebrew)
  • Cini (Sugar) and Masala (Spice)
  • Panna (Emerald in Nepalese)
  • Piya (Beloved in Nepalese)
  • Satya (Truth in Nepalese)
  • Sonika (Golden in Nepalese)

Voting ends at 5 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 23. Get to clickin’.

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