Alliance Road Gas Station Robbed Early This Morning; Arcata Police Seeking Suspect

Hank Sims / Today @ 9:46 a.m. / Crime

From the Arcata Police Department:

On 4/27/17 at about 12:51 AM, the Arcata Police Department responded to a reported robbery at the Alliance 76 Gas Station located at 2205 Alliance Rd in Arcata.

Officers contacted the employee who stated a male subject entered the store with a black mask coving part of his face and demanded money.  The suspect left with an undisclosed amount of cash.

The suspect is described as a black male adult about 6 feet 4 inches tall wearing a black mask, sunglasses, a grey sweatshirt, and blue jeans.  The suspect was last seen fleeing on foot southbound on Alliance Rd.

The clerk did not report any weapons used during the robbery. Anyone with information regarding this case in encouraged to contact the Arcata Police Department.


HSU Theatre’s Real Women Have Curves is a Hilarious, Surprisingly Relevant Production of a ’90s Classic

Lauraine Leblanc / Today @ 7 a.m. / Theater

SISTERHOOD IS POWERFUL. Marissa Sanchez as Ana and and Fiva Pulu as Estella in Real Women Have Curves at Humboldt State’s Gist Hall Theatre. Photo: HSU Theatre.

In a garment factory off an alleyway of a bustling city, five Latina women toil to complete a massive order of dresses by the end of the week. It’s too hot, the work is hard, the boss is demanding, and to top it all off, a mysterious van continually sets off fears that La Migra — U.S. immigration agents — are about to break down the door. This slice of life is Josefina López’s Real Women Have Curves, the current production by Humboldt State’s Department of Theatre, Film & Dance, running until April 30 at Gist Hall Theatre.

This production could not be more timely, though the play was first performed in the early 1990s, and is set 30 years ago. That its many topics — eating disorders, slut shaming, domestic violence, racism, sexism, deportation and lack of healthcare among them — remain frustratingly current is the only depressing thing about this play, for this is a furiously funny production.

Director Brenda Hubbard assembled a stellar cast of five women, each fully inhabiting their characters: Marissa Sanchez as feminist firebrand Ana; Fiva Pulu as her driven sister, factory owner Estela; Ayanna Wilson as their critical yet loving mother, Carmen; Amy Beltran as caustic and loyal co-worker Pancha; and Irma Gill as smart and delicate co-worker Rosali. Each actress brought their fully realized characters to vivid life, painting a palette of diverse women without ever resorting to type.

They did so in a single room, a garment factory owned by Estela. Brilliantly designed by Ambar Cuevas, the set is a cluttered feast for the eye, meticulously detailed right down to the vintage Gloria Estefan poster on one wall. Cuevas softened the realism with a subtle palette of pastel colors that make this workplace an intimate, magical setting for these dreamers (well, proto-DREAMers). 

The play is delivered in a mix of Spanish and English, and the program provides a handy glossary that’s worth looking over if you don’t speak Spanish, though, as it also points out, López’s dialogue cleverly makes the meaning clear. The five actresses, with the help of dialect coach Citali Nava, delivered a seemingly effortless fast-paced stream of chit-chat and chisme, no easy feat.

Those familiar with the 2002 film of the same name, which was cowritten by the playwright, will find it happily familiar, but with more subtle characterizations, a greater focus on female relationships, a different ending and a stronger message. If you liked the movie, you’ll love the play. (Interestingly, the film’s director, Patricia Cardoso, was in town this week as a judge at the Humboldt International Film Festival; did she drop in to see this production?)

HSU Theatre’s production of Real Women Have Curves is a pink pussy hat of a play: cozy, crafty and charming while packing a powerful political message of solidarity, sisterhood and protest. Truly, as the poster states, “excelente cosas vienen en paquetes con curvas.”

Real Women Have Curves continues April 27, 28 and 29 at 7:30 p.m., with a 2 p.m. matinée performance Sunday, April 30. Admission is $10/$8 for students and seniors/free for a limited number of HSU students. Parking on campus is free on weekends. The Theatre Department recommends it for high school age or older. For tickets, call (707) 826-3928. 


Lauraine Leblanc is scene editor of the Mad River UnionSubscribe here.

HIGHWAY 101 UPDATE: Caltrans ‘Cautiously Optimistic’ They’ll Have That Slide Cleaned Up Enough For One-Way Traffic by This Weekend

Andrew Goff / Yesterday @ 4:56 p.m. / Traffic

Wednesday afternoon progress | Photo: Caltrans

Here’s your Wednesday afternoon status report from Caltrans on the slide-gobbled section of Highway 101 just north of Leggett:


US101 CLOSURE UPDATE 4/26 4:45 PM:

Our contractors have been able to resume work after slide activity closed the highway again last night. The slide has been sporadically active throughout the day, with work being suspended during periods of increased slide activity.

We’re cautiously optimistic that we may be able to restore one-way traffic by this weekend.

In related news, SoHum resident Wendy Kornberg is enjoying a moment as Humboldt County’s most celebrated disaster videographer. Her eye-popping video of last night’s re-slidening has been picked up by major media outlets the world over. Hear her discuss her experience further in an interview with KMUD Radio below.

(PHOTOS/VIDEO) CR Protesters Demand Reinstatement of Beloved Staff Member, Storm President’s Office; Respectful Conversation Ensues

Ryan Burns / Yesterday @ 3:15 p.m. / Activism , Education

Students and others gathered on the steps of CR’s administration building Thursday evening to support Renee Saucedo, the college’s student equity director, who was recently placed on administrative leave. | Photos and video by Andrew Goff.

Local activist Renee Saucedo was hired as College of the Redwoods’ director of student equity largely to allow students of color and other historically marginalized minorities to have a voice, and if yesterday’s demonstration was any indication, she succeeded.

A group of students — along with a few faculty and supportive community members — gathered on the steps of CR’s administration building yesterday afternoon to demand the immediate reinstatement of Saucedo, who has been placed on administrative leave for undisclosed reasons.

Holding colorful signs and banners and speaking into a megaphone, the activists took turns testifying bout how Saucedo has improved social and race relations on campus. They also issued demands and vague threats.

CR student Donel Arrington addresses the media and other onlookers.

A student named Donel Arrington read a prepared statement: “We, the unified students of Humboldt County, have called this press conference to demand the immediate reinstatement of Renee Saucedo as director of student equity,” he declared. “When this press conference is over we will be walking to the boardroom to deliver our petition that has over 460 signatures on it to [CR] President Keith Snow-Flamer.”

He went on to say that the situation reflected a larger problem of institutionalized racism at CR and Humboldt generally.

“We demand that Renee Saucedo be reinstated immediately,” Arrington said, prompting cheers. He continued: 

“We demand that an apology we issued by the president and the board of trustees to both Renee and the students. We demand the multicultural center that we’ve been promised be built by October of 2017. We demand answers to the following questions: Why was Renee Saucedo fired? And who fired her?”

Officially, Saucedo has not been fired. She remains on the payroll while on administrative leave. Earlier this week CR officials declined to comment beyond this emailed statement: “Redwoods Community College District personnel matters are confidential and we are therefore unable to comment.”

A handmade sign posted on a CR message board asks, “Who is Renee Saucedo?”

Arrington wrapped up his written statement with a warning. “We demand that the College of the Redwoods hire more faculty of color, and cultural sensitivity training for all College of the Redwoods employees,” he said. “If these demands are not met, we will take escalating action as we see fit.”

Standing under drizzly skies, the activists voiced defiance and determination. “Higher education institutions have been used historically to oppress groups of people,” said student Sierra Timmons. “The actions taken against Renee further that oppression.”

As several protesters noted, this situation bears a striking resemblance to a student uprising at Humboldt State University in late 2014/early 2015 over the firing of Native American science educator Dr. Jacquelyn Bolman. HSU students occupied the university’s Native American Forum — and unofficially rechristened it “The Bolman Forum” — for more than a month and issued a list of demands, including the immediate reinstatement of Bolman. The protest ended peacefully, though Bolman was not reinstated. 

The canine face of the resistance.

Dr. Dana Maher, a sociology professor at CR, voices support for the student-led protest.

At CR’s protest, local activist Daniela Vargas, who works with the Latino group Centro del Pueblo, also tied their activities to the recent stabbing death of HSU student David Josiah Lawson. “People of color in Humboldt County are mourning,” she said. “It’s really difficult to walk through Humboldt County as a person of color.”

A student named Manuel, who attends CR’s Crescent City campus but came down for the protest, said Saucedo empowered minority students.

“She said these people of color behind me? They are not another diversity statistic in our report,” he said. “They are not another commercial that we can get on TV. She viewed us as potential leaders and organizers of the future, and that’s how change happens — not by tokenizing us students of color but by actually listening to us and acknowledging that we have family members that are undocumented. We have family members that are in the LGBTQ-plus community. And you need to respect us. Cuz we’re not playing.”

After their demonstration in front of the administration building, the protesters quietly filed inside and up a flight of stairs, proceeding peacefully into a board room where President Snow-Flamer was meeting with a few members of the college faculty to address this very issue.

Arrington led the way, accompanied by his sign-carrying compatriots, many of whom crowded into the room while others stood outside, propping their protest signs in the frames of the office windows. Snow-Flamer stood and nodded politely as Arrington read the group’s statement and list of demands.

What ensued was long and largely respectful group conversation. Initially it seemed like the confrontation might not advance beyond the fundamental impasse — protesters demanding to know what happened while Snow-Flamer held firm saying it was a confidential personnel matter. But gradually the two sides began inching toward common ground. Here are some video highlights of the meeting, which lasted for more than an hour:

Above: A sampling of the conversation between students and administration | AG

Click video to play. Problems on iPhone? Turn your phone sideways.

# # #

Occasionally things got a bit testy. One student referred to speculation that Saucedo had been placed on leave due to something she wrote in an email that she’d been ordered to write.

“Why is she being scapegoated if it was a top-down order?” the student demanded. 

Snow-Flamer remained composed but said, tersely, “There was no such order, but that’s all I’m going to say.”

He seemed to gain some respect as he revealed his own efforts to improve the campus community’s treatment of minorities.

Arrington reads his group’s list of demands to CR President Keith Snow-Flamer.

Manuel, the student from Crescent City, asked Snow-Flamer what he was going to do about institutionalized racism at CR. “What are you going to do about professors that stand neutral in these classroom environments that are harmful to students of color?” he asked.

“That is the most salient question I’ve heard,” Snow-Flamer responded. He explained that he’d had conversations with Saucedo about the fact that CR, as a countywide institution, “has as its fabric an institutional racism piece. … And quite frankly I was subject to that myself.” 

Such discrimination has been part of higher education for 200 years, Snow-Flamer said, and it will take a long time to deconstruct.

“What that means is we need to change the fabric of the institution — our hiring practices, our hiring policies, our evaluation processes — and really change hearts and minds, not just put rules in place,” he said.

At another point Snow-Flamer said he respects and supports the protesters’ cause. “If I wasn’t the president I’d be with ya,” he said. “In my past I’ve been fired and jailed and beat up for doing what you’re doing.”

But he reiterated that he had a process to follow, a process dictated by law and institutional policy — and a process that doesn’t include students.

Many of the students remained skeptical.

“You’re looking at a room full of students of color,” said Timmons. “How are we, students in these marginalized groups, supposed to trust a process that was built to oppress?”

Snow-Flamer said, “I hear you,” a refrain he used repeatedly in the meeting, and he promised to respond to the group’s demands publicly. He also insisted that he, too, supports Saucedo. He was in her corner when he hired her, he said, and he added, “I’m not out of her corner even today.”

Before filing back out of the board room, more than an hour after they went in, the students thanked Snow-Flamer for his time. As they processed into the anteroom, a few people — faculty or staff, it wasn’t clear — applauded them.

But if Snow-Flamer or anyone else thought that the students were placated after this peaceful encounter, that didn’t appear to be the case. After walking out of the board room, the activists found themselves standing in a group on the second floor of the admin building, and they fired up another chant: “Reinstate Renee! Reinstate Renee! Reinstate Renee! … .”

# # #

Below: Local artist Johnathon DeSoto sends along video he shot of the rally to reinstate Renee Saucedo. He also alerts us to the Societies for Poetic Action-created website,, with more information about this situation. 


Gonsea Apologizes to Customers, Promises to Maintain High Health Standards Going Forward

Hank Sims / Yesterday @ 1:38 p.m. / Health

Gonsea Restaurant. Photo: Google Street View.




Gonsea Restaurant, which has served Chinese food and sushi at its location near the northern entrance to Eureka for over 20 years, was briefly shuttered by the county health department earlier this month, after an inspection showed dangerous conditions in the kitchen.

The restaurant has since retooled and has opened again. Today, its management sent the Outpost a statement that accepts blame for the closure and promises to do better.

Statement below:

Commitment to quality

Gonsea Restaurant has a tradition of serving quality food to Humboldt County, and in the process has earned many customers.

Recent health concerns are not typical of our restaurant.  Most of the recent issues relate to poor training of recently hired employees, for which I myself must bear responsibility. A thorough review by Ray Smith of the Health Department identified areas we could improve upon. With the help of the Health Department, we have instituted new training for employees along with new food handling procedures to ensure that our customer’s health is our number one priority, and that we maintain high standards in our restaurant.

I am pleased to report that following a 90-minute inspection on April 24th (DAOM0MT W3), all of the points raised have been addressed to the satisfaction of the inspectors.  They noted: “Overall observations suggest a tremendous improvement in cleanliness, compliance, and safe operation of this food facility.” 

I would like to take this opportunity to recommit our restaurant to the highest standards of health and quality. 

This has been a humbling experience, and I would like to apologize to our customers. I wish to have the opportunity to serve the people of Humboldt County for a long time to come, and I hope that our customers will give us the opportunity to prove our dedication to the healthy, quality food that they deserve.

Cheng Zheng
Management of Gonsea




WEDNESDAY 101 UPDATE: No Estimated Time for Reopening

Andrew Goff / Yesterday @ 9:36 a.m. / Traffic

The slide as of 9 a.m., Wednesday, April 26 | Photo: Caltrans

In a non-surprising statement to anyone who watched last night’s “OMG”-provoking video of Mother Nature reclaiming some ground, Caltrans announced Wednesday morning that, yeah, Highway 101 north of Leggett is currently closed and they don’t know when it will be open again.

Caltrans blurb below:

101 remains closed with no estimated time for reopening. The slide remained active all night, so it is unknown when it will be safe for our contractor to begin cleanup again.

A Home for the Homeless in Manila? Local Advocacy Group to Petition Community Services District for Campground, ‘Tiny House Villlage’

Jack Durham / Yesterday @ 7:01 a.m. / Homelessness

A local nonprofit organization wants to open a campground for homeless people, or build a tiny house village, or do both somewhere in the Manila area.

Affordable Homeless Housing Alternatives is looking for either private property to rent or lease for the project.

Edie Jessup, who is a member of the nonprofit’s board of directors, has asked the Manila Community Services District to place the issue on the agenda for its May 18 board meeting, which begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Manila Community Center, 1611 Peninsula Dr.

Jessup said the nonprofit is looking at Manila because the town is down the street from the 200-acre Dog Ranch property, located just west of the Samoa Bridge. There were about 100 homeless people living on the property until evictions began earlier this month, Jessup said.

Those people need somewhere to go, she said.

Jessup said the ideal option would be to have an immediate outdoor living area where homeless people could camp and park their vehicles. The area would be carefully managed and include portable toilets, a shower and a shared cooking area, she said. The camp could then be developed with tiny houses.

Another option, she said, is to just create a tiny house village. Jessup said that the size of the village would depend on the land available, although she said she envisioned 15 tiny houses or fewer.

Jessup said she hopes the Manila Community Services District might be able to provide property. If not, perhaps a private property owner would be willing to help, she said.

Asked how Manila residents might respond to the idea of having a homeless village in their town, Jessup said “We understand the NIMBY [Not In My Back Yard] response.

“We would talk to neighbors before we do anything,” she said.


Jack Durham is editor of the Mad River UnionSubscribe here.