Humboldt State Reports Assault on Campus This Afternoon; ‘No Continuing Threat,’ Says Official Statement

Hank Sims / Friday, May 11 @ 8:45 p.m. / Crime

Note: Humboldt State spokesperson Grant Scott-Goforth tells the Outpost that he has no information to share regarding the number of people injured in this assault, if any, or whether or not the suspect is in custody. He did reiterate, though, that police believe there is no continuing threat to persons on campus.

We’ll see if we can find out more tomorrow.

From Humboldt State University:

Humboldt State University Police are continuing to investigate an assault reported earlier today in Pepperwood Hall, which is a residence hall on the north side of campus. 

Police believe there is NO continuing threat on campus. However, out of an abundance of caution, they are conducting additional patrols this evening, with a focus on the residence halls.

Anyone with information is asked to call University Police at 826-5555.


MORE →


Proposed Arcata Cannabis Ordinance Would Limit Permits to 15 Businesses, Restrict Sales in Plaza Shops

Andrew Goff / Friday, May 11 @ 4:58 p.m. / Marijuana and/or Cannabis

The City of Arcata is currently in the process of crafting policies and regulations surrounding the sales of cannabis within city limits and you can read up on their progress thus far in the press release, below. If you have strong opinions on how weed should be sold in Arcata you should probably note the date of the next Arcata City Council meeting, there at the bottom:

 

The City of Arcata is currently in the process of adopting new policies regarding adult cannabis retail sales and services.

At the Arcata City Council meeting held on May 2, 2018, the City Council considered recommendations made by the Planning Commission, Economic Development Committee and community members. Recommendations included a proposed Land Use Code amendment to allow retail cannabis sales and services in commercial and light industrial districts including downtown and central Arcata, Northtown, Valley West, industrial areas of South G Street, Creamery District, West End Road/Aldergrove and the neighborhood commercial areas. These prospective zoning changes are a result of new state laws legalizing recreational adult-use cannabis and community input provided to the City over the past year.

After a lengthy discussion, City Council instructed City staff to bring back a revised ordinance for introduction on Wednesday, May 16. The ordinance, if adopted, requires businesses conducting cannabis retail sales and services to receive a Use Permit from the City’s Planning Commission. The permit process will allow the community to provide input on a cannabis business’s potential impacts to the public’s health, safety and welfare before the permit can be issued. All businesses, whether cannabis is the primary activity or a small part of the business, will require licensing from the state and the City’s Commercial Cannabis Activity Permit.

The proposed ordinance also includes limiting the number of Use Permits to 15 businesses within the Arcata city limits and would prohibit businesses on the Plaza that primarily focus on adult cannabis retail sales and services. No more than one cannabis retail and service-based business would be allowed to operate in each neighborhood commercial district including the Westwood, Sunny Brae, Greenview and Bayside districts.

In addition, cannabis accessory sales would not be limited to the 15-permit cap, and would be allowed in most commercial zones including the Plaza and Cannabis Innovation Zone.

Businesses that would be required to apply for City permits under the proposed ordinance include those that provide retail sales of both medicinal and adult cannabis directly to consumers, and businesses providing a service to individuals that includes the use of cannabis products. Examples of potential cannabis service businesses are those providing massage therapy, aromatherapy, counseling programs, yoga classes, arts and crafts programs and others not yet conceived.

Cannabis consumers are currently limited in where they are able to use cannabis products since state law prohibits cannabis to be consumed or used in public. The City of Arcata also prohibits smoking tobacco and cannabis products in places of employment.

The new proposed standards would allow for on- and off-site cannabis consumption or use as allowed per California state law, but the new ordinance proposed would not revise the City’s “places of employment” prohibition. Innovative business models would be given an opportunity to apply for on- site cannabis consumption areas as new technology or other modes of use are developed such as edibles, tinctures or topical applications.

The Arcata City Council will officially introduce this ordinance at the City Council meeting taking place on Wednesday, May 16 at 6 p.m. in Council Chamber at Arcata City Hall located at 736 F Street. All interested community members are encouraged to attend.



LoCO to COUNTY GOVERNMENT: Please Send Us All the Complaints That Your Employees Have Filed Against Their Bosses

Hank Sims / Friday, May 11 @ 2:52 p.m. / Housekeeping , Local Government

Last night the Outpost got quite a surprise when the county administrative office sent us a document that we had requested. That document is a letter of complaint aimed at assistant auditor-controller Karen Paz Dominguez, who is also a current candidate for the top job on the June ballot, and it was sent to the county personnel department by three employees who charged that Paz Dominguez has “fostered an atmosphere of hostility, retaliation and bullying” in the office. (Read the full letter here.)

Why was this surprising? Well, in our experience local governments are absolutely loath to put such documents into circulation. They are usually classified as “personnel matters,” and the people in charge are usually quick to invoke a provision of the California Public Records Act written specifically to allow local governments to keep such documents confidential. 

In this case, though, County Counsel Jeffrey Blanck wrote that the county has recently undergone a change of heart. Blanck wrote that the county initially considered the Paz Dominguez-slamming letter exempt from disclosure, but later changed its mind. He writes:

However, upon further consideration, the County recognizes that documents submitted by citizens are afforded little protection from public inspection, and there is no exemption under the law that would allow that would prohibit disclosure of the substance of the letter.

This is good news! The Outpost, like any news outlet, is all for disclosure. These people work for the public, after all. And since the county has changed its interpretation of this provision, we figure it is time to go back and examine previous cases in which County employees have complained that their managers have created hostile, ineffective work environments. So we’ve requested all such documents filed with the county personnel office over the last three years and change.

Now, a cynic would say: They’ll never give you these documents! They only sent this one out because Karen Paz Dominguez — a reformer and a sometimes impolitic person — has many enemies among the higher-ups in county government. See, as evidence, the fact that this letter from employees and received by the county personnel office was first leaked, by someone who had access, to John Chiv — a conservative-aligned blogger who is literally on the payroll of the reelection campaigns of Supervisors Ryan Sundberg and Virginia Bass. (Both of whom, for the record, deny leaking it to him.) The county changed its mind about the disclosability of such documents only after this document was leaked. It’s almost — the cynic would say — as if the purpose of the mind-change was to legally bless the leak itself, retroactively.

There might be something to this. In justifying his release of the complaint against Paz Dominguez, Blanck uses an unusual phrase. The letter, he says, was “written under a joint capacity as citizens and employees.” Unless the county employs non-citizens, it’s difficult to understand what this kludgy phrase could mean. It appears to have no basis in law. Our friend the cynic would say that it means, “We’ll give you this document because we don’t like Paz Dominguez and we have to fix our colleague the leaker’s boo-boo, but don’t expect any others because of this magic joint-capacity formulation we just came up with.”

However, we do not believe this to be the case. We believe the county will now either release all similar documents in its possession, or else will provide solid, legally grounded reasons for declining to release them. They’ll do this because public servants don’t use the levers of government to advance their own political aims. Right?  

Below is the Outpost’s Public Records Act request in full. We’ll update you when we hear back.

In the meanwhile: Maybe you’re a county employee who has filed such a complaint in the past? Or maybe you’ve heard of such a complaint that has been filed? Drop me a line and let me know about it – hank@lostcoastoutpost.com. Anonymity guaranteed. [TIP: Don’t use your county e-mail address!] We know the people in charge of such things would never fudge their response to a Public Records Act request, but let’s help them resist the devil on their shoulder.

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Sean Quincey
County Administrative Office
Humboldt County

Dear Mr. Quincey,

Pursuant to my rights under the California Public Records Act (Government Code Section 6250 et seq.), I ask to obtain a copy of the following, which I understand to be held by your agency:

  • All written complaints filed against any County elected official, department head or other supervisor of employees signed by one of more subordinates of the subject of the complaint that have been received by the County Administrative Office and/or the County Personnel Department since January 1, 2015.

To clarify: By “subordinate,” I mean any person who falls beneath the subject of the complaint in any countywide and/or departmental organization chart, whether or not the subject is the direct supervisor of the signatory of the complaint.

By “written complaint,” I mean any document – whether on paper in electronic format – that has been received by either or both of the offices listed which alleges that the subject of the complaint has harassed, abused or intimidated employees, or has otherwise contributed to a hostile work environment, or has otherwise prompted employees to lose faith in leadership.

It is my understanding, based on recent communications from your counsel, that the county recently determined that such complaints are not exempt from disclosure pursuant to Government Code Section 6254(c).

If you determine that some or all documents requested are exempt under Section 6254(c) because they were not “written under a joint capacity as citizens and employees,” please provide your working definition of that “joint capacity,” an explanation of the process used to determine whether or not a particular document meets that standard, and the legal authorities for both.

If you determine that some or all of the requested documents are not subject to disclosure due to some other provision of law, please provide a signed notification citing the legal authorities on which you rely if you determine that any or all of the information is exempt and will not be disclosed.

If you determine that some but not all of the information is exempt from disclosure and that you intend to withhold it, I ask that you redact it for the time being and make the rest available as requested.

If you determine that any or all or the information qualifies for an exemption from disclosure, I ask you to note whether, as is normally the case under the Act, the exemption is discretionary, and if so whether it is necessary in this case to exercise your discretion to withhold the information.

I ask for a determination on this request within 10 days of your receipt of it, and an even prompter reply if you can make that determination without having to review the record[s] in question.

If I can provide any further clarification that will help expedite your attention to my request, please contact me at (707) 633-9179 or hank@lostcoastoutpost.com.

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Hank Sims
Editor
Lost Coast Outpost



MISSING: 23-Month-Old Girl Last Seen at Humboldt Courthouse, Believed to Be With Father

Andrew Goff / Friday, May 11 @ 1:57 p.m. / Missing

Mira Ann Carter

Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office press release:

 

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office needs the public’s help to locate a missing 23-month-old girl.

Mira Ann Carter was reported missing today by her mother. Carter was last seen at the Humboldt County Courthouse with her father, Gregory Donald Carter, on May 2. Gregory Carter is believed to be concealing Mira to avoid the service of a temporary restraining order granting the child’s mother full custody. Gregory and Mira Carter are believed to have left the courthouse around 1:25 p.m. on May 2. The two may be traveling in a gray Subaru Hatchback with license plate number 5WW512.

  • Mira Carter is described as a Caucasian female toddler, with blonde hair and blue eyes. She is 2 feet tall and weighs approximately 30 pounds.
  • Gregory Carter, 34, is described as a Caucasian male adult, with brown hair and blue eyes. He is 6 feet tall and weighs approximately 175 pounds.
If you see Gregory and Mira Carter, or their vehicle, please call the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office immediately.
Anyone with information for the Sheriff’s Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office at (707) 445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at (707) 268-2539.


Greg and Mira Carter



It’s a Rather Blustery Day: 30 to 50 MPH Winds Forecast for the Emerald Coast Today

John Ross Ferrara / Friday, May 11 @ 10:55 a.m. / How ‘Bout That Weather

Today might be Friday, but it’s winds day here in Humboldt County.

Eureka’s National Weather Service office reports that 30 to 50 mph gusts will rustle the Emerald Coast today.

“Thermal trough over land will combine with building high pressure across the ocean to tighten the pressure gradient across the North Coast this afternoon and tonight,” the NWS reports. “Wind gusts of 30 to 50 mph will be possible across coastal locations with even stronger winds across the waters.”

Wind skates across Humboldt Bay | JRF.

Winds are expected to increase throughout the day and diminish tonight. Lighter winds are forecast for the weekend.

NWS.



PG&E to Sell Off Potter Valley Project Dam Project, Which Diverts Eel River Water South; Friends of the Eel Vows to Keep Up Fight

Hank Sims / Friday, May 11 @ 9:48 a.m. / News

Scott Dam at Lake Pillsbury — a key component of the Potter Valley Project. Photo: PG&E.

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PREVIOUSLY

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From Friends of the Eel:

Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), the utility that owns Scott and Cape Horn Dams on the upper Eel River, announced yesterday that the company is moving to auction the dams to buyers who would want to keep them in place to maintain the diversion of Eel River water into the Russian River.

Friends of the Eel River Conservation Director Scott Greacen said, “We welcome PG&E’s recognition of the fact that the Eel River dams don’t make economic sense, and we’re encouraged the company is moving to accelerate a process that could too easily be subject to almost endless delays. But what’s good for PG&E is not necessarily what’s best for the Eel River or for the region. There’s room to talk, but we really need to talk about removing Scott Dam.”

In its letter to the Eel-Russian River Commission announcing its plans, PG&E states that “the project has key environmental attributes and provides important regional benefits including recreation opportunities and a significant contribution to the Russian River water supply.” Here, PG&E is doing what any rational seller would – seeking the highest possible price for its property by emphasizing its notional benefits, while playing down its many drawbacks. Potential buyers would be wise to carefully investigate these claimed benefits, as well as the costs PG&E is less eager to discuss.

PG&E’s acknowledgment that the Eel River dams are not an economic asset for the company is the most significant fact to emerge from this announcement. If the dams made money, PG&E would be keeping them.

The Eel River dams are in fact not assets, but environmental and economic liabilities. The math on both ledgers is only going to get worse over time. Similarly, while diversions from the Eel River have been convenient for managers of the over-appropriated Russian River, they are very likely to continue to decline in volume, and very unlikely to ever return to the last century’s levels. Though the dams do provide benefits to Russian River interests in the form of water diversions, those benefits pale against significant costs to Eel River fisheries.

PG&E is doing what we expect any American corporation to do – seeking both to protect its shareholders from reasonably foreseeable risks and to maintain the value of its assets over time. Having recognized that the Eel River dams don’t make economic sense as a way to produce electric power, PG&E has suggested that entities interested in both electrical power production and water supply may want to continue operating the dams and diversion to the Russian River.

However, any new owner will have to shoulder the same burdens PG&E has decided are not worth the trouble. These liabilities include the relicensing process now underway before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). A new license is likely to result in additional reductions in the volume of Eel River diversions, as well as substantial costs to comply with mandatory license conditions for fish passage over Scott Dam and water quality protection – not to mention the costs of relicensing itself.

Any potential buyer will also face significant risks and costs associated with dam safety. FERC is refusing to address dam safety issues in relicensing, but that only increases the uncertainty associated with seismic and geotechnical threats, particularly to Scott Dam, which will be a century old when its current license expires in 2022.

PG&E has been investing for years now in geologists’ investigations of the Bartlett Springs Fault, a branch of the San Andreas Fault system which runs only miles east of Scott Dam, but was completely unknown when the dam was built. This work shows the Bartlett Springs Fault is larger and more active than previously thought – and that the area around Gravelly Valley, now the Lake Pillsbury reservoir, shows the most evidence of recent activity along the entire fault. This information only adds to longstanding concerns about the construction of Scott Dam itself and the stability of the southern bank above and behind the dam. We will be interested to see whether potential purchasers will be provided full access to PG&E’s internal assessments of the seismic and geotechnical threats to Scott Dam.



FIFTH DISTRICT ENDORSEMENT: Blue Lake Rancheria Endorses Sundberg, Karuk Tribe Endorses Madrone

Hank Sims / Friday, May 11 @ 6:53 a.m. / Elections

Incumbent supervisor Ryan Sundberg (left) and challenger Steve Madrone.

From the Sundberg for Supervisor campaign:

The Blue Lake Rancheria recently announced that it is endorsing 5th District Supervisor Ryan Sundberg for re-election in 2018.
“County supervisors have a difficult job. We believe Ryan represents the 5th District with integrity, and as a Native American tribal member he brings an understanding of how tribes and the County can collaborate and partner,” Blue Lake Rancheria Tribal Council officials stated. “For these reasons, we support his efforts for reelection.”

Sundberg is a member of the Trinidad Rancheria Tribe and has represented the Fifth District since 2010.

“The Blue Lake Rancheria is doing some amazingly innovative work, including the installation of their renewable energy microgrid in collaboration with Schatz Energy Research Center at Humboldt State University, and I am proud to do whatever I can to support their efforts in this and other projects,” Sundberg said.

From the Madrone for Supervisor campaign:

The Karuk Tribe joined the Yurok Tribe, and the Hoopa Valley Tribe in supporting Steve Madrone for Fifth District Humboldt County Supervisor.

“The Karuk Tribe enthusiastically endorses Steve Madrone for Fifth District Supervisor for Humboldt County,” said Russell “Buster” Attebery, Karuk Tribe Chairman May 10. “Mr. Madrone is a strong advocate for natural resources and will be responsive to the ongoing needs of out Eastern Humboldt County Communities.”

“Mr. Madrone has spent his entire adult career here in Humboldt County over the past 45 years working to restore salmon habitat. This work has been carried out in nearly every watershed in Humboldt County, working with Tribes, agencies, and others to restore our fisheries and uplands.

“As a teacher at Humboldt State University, Mr. Madrone includes Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) in his class offerings. In that way he has educated the community regarding thousands of years of stable natural resources stewardship by local tribes. Steve is a consistent supporter of indigenous culture and has encouraged the university to do more to recruit and retain students from local Tribes.

“The Tribe is leading numerous community building initiatives that can benefit from a strong partnership with the County and we will need responsive and energetic leadership to accomplish those goals.

“The future is complex and we have much to do. We are committed to problem-solving through communication and transparency and believe Mr. Madrone will fulfill his commitment to our respective river communities.”

The Karuk Tribe joins scores of organizations and individuals supporting Madrone for the Fifth District seat, including the, national Sierra Club, the National Union of Healthcare Workers the Democratic Central Committee, The Humboldt County Public Employees Association, and the North Coast People’s Alliance.