REMEMBER: The IRS Does Not Allow You to Pay Your Taxes With iTunes Gift Cards, Sheriff’s Office Says

Hank Sims / Yesterday @ 12:31 p.m. / Crime

iTunes gift cards are not yet official currency.

PREVIOUSLY

###

From the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office:

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office has received numerous reports from the public reporting a phone scam. The suspects are telling the potential victims they are an agent with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or the US Treasury and they owe the IRS money. The suspects then tell the victim if they fail to immediately pay they will obtain a warrant for the victims arrest. The suspects attempt to get the victim to obtain iTunes gift cards, a money order, cashier’s check or green dot card to pay the overdue bill.

Below are some helpful websites:

Notes from IRS Press Release:

Other characteristics of this scam include:

  • Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves.
  • Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security Number.
  • Scammers spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it’s the IRS calling.
  • Scammers sometimes send bogus IRS emails to some victims to support their bogus calls.
  • Victims hear background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site.
  • After threatening victims with jail time or driver’s license revocation, scammers hang up and others soon call back pretending to be from the local police or DMV, and the caller ID supports their claim.

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, here’s what you should do:

  • If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. The IRS employees at that line can help you with a payment issue – if there really is such an issue.
  • If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe any taxes (for example, you’ve never received a bill or the caller made some bogus threats as described above), then call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484.


MORE →


(UPDATED) County Extends Registration Deadline for Existing Marijuana Growers, Prompting Renewed Legal Threat

Ryan Burns / Yesterday @ 11:08 a.m. / Government , marijuana

UPDATE, 3:15 p.m.: Internal documents from the county, obtained by the Outpost, show that staff and supervisors wrestled with the significance of the Aug. 23 deadline before deciding, late last week, to allow farmers with existing grows to continue registering through the end of the year. 

HuMMAP believes this decision violates not only the letter of the county’s own Medical Marijuana Land Use Ordinance but also the settlement agreement the group reached with the county earlier this year. In the letter delivered to the county earlier today, HuMMAP attorney Rachel S. Doughty points to section 55.4.9.4 of the county’s Medical Marijuana Land Use Ordinance, which states:

All operators of existing cultivation sites seeking recognition of cultivation activities that occurred on or before January 1, 2016, for purposes of obtaining a Zoning Clearance Certificate or discretionary permit for ongoing commercial cannabis cultivation for medical use pursuant to the CMMLUO shall register with the County of Humboldt Department of Planning & Building within 180 days of the effective date of this ordinance. 

HuMMAP argues that the language here is plain: If a grower wanted to get a permit or a Zoning Clearance Certificate for an existing grow operation, he or she needed to do so before Aug. 23 (which was 180 days after the ordinance effective date). 

But in a department policy statement signed last Thursday by Interim Building and Planning Director Rob Wall, staff says HuMMAP’s view represents just one of two ways to interpret the language of the ordinance. The other way to read it, staff argues, is that farmers with existing grow operations can still register after the Aug. 23 deadline; they just won’t get the preferred status that comes with being in “good standing.”

In defense of this argument staff notes that elsewhere in the ordinance — as well as state law — it says growers have until the end of the year to register. There’s conflicting information, in other words. The matter is unclear. So who decides how to interpret it?

“Section 311-4 of the Zoning regulations provides that where the regulations are unclear, the Director may interpret the code and provide guidance as to the application of the regulations,” the policy statement reads. 

Staff, including Wall, ultimately advocated for the latter interpretation, arguing that the plain language of section 55.4.9.4 is trumped by the Board of Supervisors’ legislative intent with the original ordinance, signed back in December. One of the primary goals of that ordinance is to reduce the environmental harm of the black market industry having growers register and comply with performance standards. “That goal is best met by maximizing the participation of existing cannabis cultivators in the legitimate medical cannabis regulatory regime and marketplace,” staff concludes. 

And so, given the alleged ambiguity of the ordinance, the county decided to keep accepting registration applications through the end of the year.

HuMMAP disagrees with the county’s interpretation of the ordinance and says that if the county doesn’t promise by tomorrow, Tuesday Sept. 27, not to issue any more commercial grow permits to existing cultivators, then HuMMAP will “file an application for an order to show cause why the County should not be held in contempt for violation of the terms of the settlement agreement… .”

DOCUMENTS:

###

Original post:

File photo.

Since January Humboldt County officials have been telling local marijuana farmers that they had until Aug. 23 to register their current growing operations and thereby qualify for “good standing” status and priority processing when it comes time for state licensure. The county received well over 2,000 registrations applications before that deadline. But now it seems the cutoff date may have been more flexible than it seemed.

On Friday the county issued a press release announcing that its Cannabis Services Division “will continue to accept [permit] applications from both new and existing operators through the end of the year, regardless of whether they completed a registration form.” [Emphasis added.]

In other words, cannabis cultivators will be allowed to apply for permits with the status of “existing” grow operations despite missing the Aug. 23 deadline, though they won’t receive “good standing” status. This announcement has prompted a local marijuana advocacy group to renew its threat of a legal challenge to the county’s Medical Marijuana Land Use Ordinance (MMLUO).

On Friday the Outpost reached out to Robert “Woods” Sutherland, the founding member and spokesman for the Humboldt Mendocino Marijuana Advocacy Project (HuMMAP) for a response to the county’s announcement. Early this year Sutherland’s group sued the county over the MMLUO in an effort to get more environmental oversight. HuMMAP and the county reached a settlement in July, but Sutherland tells the Outpost he believes the county has violated that agreement with its latest announcement.

“[T]oday,” he said via email, “Hummap is sending a warning letter to Humboldt County advising that, if they do not withdraw their policy of accepting applications for existing grows, we will file this week with the court an Order to Show Cause why they should not be held in contempt.”

[UPDATE: The letter was sent to the county by Monday afternoon. A copy of it can be found here.]

The Outpost has reached out to the county for a response but has yet to hear back. We will update this post when we do. Friday’s press release is reproduced below.

Clarification concerning deadlines for cannabis cultivators

The Planning & Building Department - Cannabis Services Division is excited to announce the receipt of well over 2,000 Commercial Cannabis Activity Registration forms submitted prior to the Aug. 23 deadline. This impressive and encouraging initial response is due in large part to partnerships and outreach by numerous state agencies and local organizations, non-profits, and consulting firms who were instrumental in helping mobilize and educate Humboldt’s medical cannabis farmers and patients.

For medical cannabis farmers who did not submit their registration forms, it’s not too late to apply for your permit. While no longer eligible for a determination of “good standing”, existing operators are nevertheless encouraged to consider applying for a permit before the Dec. 31 application deadline. The department will continue to accept applications from both new and existing operators through the end of the year, regardless of whether they completed a registration form. As a reminder, the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MCRSA) allows applicants to continue operations during state licensure when operating in compliance with local zoning regulations, and requirements of other state and local agencies, prior to January 1, 2018. However, beginning Jan. 1, 2017 no new applications for local permits will be accepted by the county until after an Environmental Impact Report is completed and the Board of Supervisors enacts a new local ordinance.

REMEMBER, registering your farm is not the same as applying for a permit. For those who have begun or completed the registration process, you will still need to apply for a permit with the county. The type of permit you apply for will be determined based on the requested commercial activity, property characteristics, and zoning. The same applies for those who missed the deadline to register to be eligible for good standing, you may still apply for a clearance or permit in order to secure a zoning entitlement.

If you have questions about the permitting process, please contact the Planning & Building Department at 707-445-7446. You may also reach the Cannabis Services Division via the 24-hr Cannabis Hotline 707-268-3795 or by emailing: cannabis@co.humboldt.ca.us.

The Planning & Building Department remains committed to helping facilitate local medical cannabis operators transition to a fully legal and legitimate commercial market in California. Helping as many existing operators achieve compliance with new local and state regulations is central to realizing the environmental protections and benefits developed within the county’s adopted Commercial Medical Marijuana Land Use Ordinance.


Pickup Driver With ‘Medical Emergency’ Ping-Pongs Through McK Sanitation Yard, Crashing Into Vehicles and Structures

Hank Sims / Yesterday @ 10:49 a.m. / Emergencies

One person was injured this morning after the driver of a pickup tore through the Humboldt Sanitation lot on Central Avenue in McKinleyville, colliding with several other vehicles, structures and a pedestrian until coming to a stop past the back of the yard.

Officer Brian Solus of the California Highway Patrol told the Outpost’s Andrew Goff, on scene, that the pickup driver appeared to have suffered from a medical emergency, possibly a seizure, which caused the accidents. Witnesses reported seeing the driver slumped over his steering wheel as it ricocheted through the lot.

Emergency dispatchers sent multiple ambulances to the scene, along with engines from the Arcata Fire District. Two people were transported to the hospital — the driver and a Humboldt Sanitation employee who suffered minor injuries.

The incident began roughly here, at the entrance to the yard. The pickup driver’s “medical incident” apparently caused him to slump over and to step on the accelerator.

The pickup first ran into this RAV4, pushing it into the Humboldt Sanitation office.

Then it careened into this pole structure, taking out two of the posts.

After passing through the second post the truck strikes this dumpster, and it is the dumpster that makes contact with the recycling center employee causing minor injuries. Officer Solus told the Outpost that the employee was conscious and walking before he was transported to the hospital.

Photo: “Limeygary.”

At that point, the pickup collided with this big rig. It had originally been feared that the driver of the big rig had suffered injuries, but he was not taken to the hospital. The rig was moved shortly after the collision.

Finally the pickup came to rest against this concrete wall. The driver, Solus said, did not suffer any injuries as a result of the crash, but was taken to the hospital for the medical condition that caused all of this.

“He seemed fine,” Solus said.



HARDIN: Hillary v. The Donald

John Hardin / Yesterday @ 7:43 a.m. / Op-Ed

I don’t usually write about national politics because the USA seems like a lost cause to me, and following the machinations of the federal government makes my head hurt, but this current presidential campaign has gotten too ridiculous to ignore. It’s almost too ridiculous to make fun of. I still expect Trump to rip off his mask, revealing Andy Kaufman underneath. That’s how unbelievable I find Trump, but no matter who gets elected this November, it’s all downhill from here.

We’ve already gotten used to choosing a lesser of two evils, but this year, the evil runs pretty deep on both sides. On one side we have clever, cunning, and connected evil, vs stupid, rogue, egotistical evil, on the other. Intelligence in the service of evil is formidable. Stupidity defeats itself, and egotism always has a blind side. Do you prefer the deliberate, calculated evil of a team with a proven track record, or do you want reckless, wanton, spontaneous evil? How does one make such a choice? It’s a matter of perspective, I suppose.

Strange things happen when the world falls apart. As the US Empire progresses from decline to collapse, only the denial and bad habits of the American people animate the rotting corpse of democracy. We go through the motions of having an election because it allows us to believe that we have some control over the government, and that it serves us, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. As push comes to shove in the New World Order, the question becomes, “Who can manufacture consent?” Increasingly, it looks like the answer to that question is “no one.”

Dissatisfaction with the US government is high right now. Everyone is fed up with the federal government, but instead of abandoning it, and looking for an alternative, too many people want some knight in shining armor to ride in and rescue the princess from the evil dragon. A lot of people thought Bernie Sanders was their knight. Other people see Trump that way, I guess, but pretty much everyone knows that Hillary is there to feed the dragon.

In fact, they’re all there to feed the dragon. Presidential politics is a contest to see who can feed the most people to the evil dragon. Bernie convinced us that he could tame the dragon. Hillary wants to ride the dragon, and Trump wants to be the dragon. It’s still the same evil empire, and the people serve the empire, not vice versa. That’s how empires work, including this one, regardless of what they taught you in school.

For Hillary, it’s like this: Do you want to vote for the Wall Street candidate? Do you want to vote for the banker’s candidate? Do you want to vote for the medical industry and health insurance industry candidate? Do you want to vote for the candidate supported by the people who have been dissecting you and eating you alive for the last few decades? Fuck no!

Think about it. Sure, Hillary Clinton is, far and away, the most qualified candidate for the job, but the job is bending humanity to the will of our Wall Street overlords. Maybe we don’t want the best, most qualified person in that position. Maybe we want an incompetent buffoon in the White House, just to give humanity a fighting chance. Maybe we can use Trump’s ego to our advantage. Since all he cares about is his own popularity, he may actually respond to public pressure, Then again, we may not like how he responds.

Trump really took the Republican Party by storm, and it shows. The GOP looks like New Orleans after Katrina. They’re up to their eyeballs in filth. Everything they’ve worked for for the last 160 years, is now smothered in raw sewage, putrefied garbage, and toxic pollution. The fact that he’s surging in the polls is like that hot Louisiana sun, cooking it all up into some scary-ass gumbo. The Republican leadership is afraid to touch it, let alone taste it, but now they’re stranded in it, sitting on the roof of what’s left of their house, trying to decide whether they can get along with those pretentious New York liberals, or get behind that wacko outsider who doesn’t know what “Aleppo” is, rather than hold their nose and dive in to swim with the slime.

On the bright side, for Republicans, I think a Trump presidency could do a lot for the image of previous Republican administrations. For instance: Donald Trump makes George W. Bush sound intelligent. Donald Trump makes Dick Cheney appear reasonable and compassionate. Next to Donald Trump, Ronald Reagan comes across as deep, and not at all vain, and Richard M. Nixon seems like a nice guy. Proud Republicans everywhere can thank Trump for that.

So, it seems like a toss-up to me. We can have more of the same, or we can have cheese doodles in Cool Whip. I think we should take it as an indication of how fed-up people are with what they are being fed, that cheese doodles in Cool Whip looks good to them.

###

John Hardin writes at Like You’ve Got Something Better to Do.



Post Office Trash Smash at Henderson Center

John Ross Ferrara / Sunday, Sept. 25 @ 5:21 p.m. / News

Photos by John Ferrara.

A man was arrested for heaving a garbage can into a Henderson Center U.S. Post Office window around 3:45 p.m.

Sarah Poling, an employee at a nearby pet store, said she saw the man smash the post office window before attempting to shatter the window of an adjacent restaurant with another trash can.

“A homeless looking guy with a backpack on beelined it that way, picked up a trash can, and [threw it into the post office window,]” Poling said.

Poling’s co worker Michael Flores said he followed the suspect down the street until Eureka Police Department officers located him and made an arrest.

“I heard a smash sound and came outside to see what was going on,” Flores said. “I saw the garbage can and all the broken glass. Then he grabbed that trash can and threw it at the restaurant window, but he was unable to break it; so he started kicking and punching at it but still couldn’t break it.”

The restaurant window.

Flores said the man continued walking westward toward Henderson and C Streets where he was arrested by EPD.

Officers were not on scene where LoCO arrived, but could be heard later on the scanner requesting information for 24-hour glass-replacement services.

Video of the arrest by Michael Flores.



GROWING OLD UNGRACEFULLY: The Full Catastrophe

Barry Evans / Sunday, Sept. 25 @ 8:55 a.m. / Growing Old Ungracefully

“Am I not a man? And is not a man stupid? I’m a man. So I married. Wife, children, house, everything. The full catastrophe.” 

— Zorba

###

Groom in Udiapur, India, about to meet his wife for the first time. Photo: Barry Evans.

Online Dating

When Louisa and I met in a sensory awareness (aka “touchy-feely”) group yea many moons ago, the idea of online dating was barely a gleam in a coder’s eye. Match.com, the first fully www-compatible dating service, went online in 1995. Today, online dating (both for hook-ups and long-term relationships), is a major force in how we come together.

I was blown away researching the sheer numbers of users of the various services: Worldwide, Match.com now has 22 million members, compared with eHarmony’s 16 million, 30 million each for Chemistry and OkCupid and 25 million on Zoosk. In this country, about 40 million Americans (40% of the singles population) use one or more of these services, spending some $2.4 billion annually. The results speak for themselves. Stanford sociologist Michael Rosenfeld (who is responsible for the accompanying timelines) estimates that 1 in 4 straight couples and 2 in 3 gay couples met online.

Of course, as Rosenfeld points out, once you’re in a relationship with somebody, it doesn’t really matter how you met that other person.

Marrying Age

While dating is undergoing a revolution, so is its desired outcome (for most participants), getting hitched. According to the US Census Bureau, in 1970, the median ages for men and women in the U.S. to marry were 23 and 21 years, respectively. Today it’s 29 and 27 — six years later in less than two generations!

“Median age at first marriage.” U.S. Census Bureau

Arranged Marriages

While I’m riffing on dating/marrying (you didn’t think this was actually going anywhere, did you?), I want to tell you about my wake-up call about arranged marriages. (There are statistics on these, too: 1960, 50% of marrianges globally were arranged; now it’s around 15%). We had this sweet Indian couple, both IT professionals, over for dinner — we’d met them at Toastmasters in Palo Alto. Somehow the “how did you meet?” question came up, and they said their parents had arranged their marriage, duh. I expressed curiosity and doubt about that system. “Please don’t judge what you don’t understand. Here in the U.S., about a half of marriages end in divorce. In India, almost none do.”

They went on to explain how it works. Parents get together and discuss who might get along with whom — they’ve known the eligible parties since birth, after all. And the kids trust their parents, and usually go along with their decision. “First marriage, then love.” There was a lot more, of course, but that evening sure changed my WTF? attitude about arranged marriages.

A Fundamental Shift?

Dating — finding romance — marrying — having kids: our culture is changing, and fast. Over two-thirds of adults were living with a spouse in 1970; today it’s just over one-half. Back then, 2.5 million marriages a year were recorded in the U.S.; now it’s 2.0 million. For better or worse, it’s a brave new world of relationships we’re living in, with consequences far more impactful than politics, religion or money.

I’m hardly the first to notice: it’s all about sex.



LETTER FROM ISTANBUL: The ‘Killer’ Umbrella Incident (Or, the Story of the Great Metrobus Crash)

James Tressler / Sunday, Sept. 25 @ 8:17 a.m. / Letter From Istanbul

The metrobus. Wikimedia.

The metrobus crash in Istanbul this past week came as a shock to just about nobody, least of all to those of us who deal with the perils of the city’s daily commute.

This city is always a disaster, a train wreck – or in this case, metrobus wreck – waiting to happen. How could it not be, with some 15 million people and counting? A precarious existence, ah! Like living in an earthquake zone. Oh, wait. We have those, too.

The metrobus is one of those peculiarly Istanbul features. Essentially, it’s a bus that operates like a subway, in that its fast and direct, transporting millions of people each day from the European and Asian sides of the city. Also, it’s above ground, and has a special lane devoted to it on the roads and highways.

What transpired this past week, according to news reports, was evidently the result of passenger rage. A security camera on the metro bus clearly shows one of the passengers, a man, attacking the metrobus driver. We see the man approach the driver, and whack him upside the head with an umbrella. The attack was so forceful that the driver actually fell out of his seat onto the floor, leaving nobody at the wheel. You can see how this could lead to problems.

With the driver down and out, and Batman apparently busy, the metrobus swerved out of control into a nearby lane, crashing into several cars. Unbelievably, nobody was killed, but at least a dozen were reported injured.

The angry passenger later told authorities that the reason why he decided to go Mary Poppins (with the umbrella, get it?) on the driver was that he missed his stop and wanted the driver to … I don’t know? Turn around? How do you turn around a speeding metrobus? The driver rightly ignored him, concentrating on the road.

How a grown man in reasonable possession of his mental faculties could miss his stop is beside the point. The thing that most of us fail to understand is, even if you wanted to hit the driver, why would you do it while he’s driving? Seems elementary perhaps, but wouldn’t you at least wait until the next stop? But I am a novice in these matters. I’ve been tempted on occasion to fight a few taxi drivers – one time a taxi driver even took a swing at me (that’s another story).

Istanbul drivers of all stripes are notoriously persnickety, and they are multi-taskers. Even during the busiest times of the day, with near-apocalyptic traffic jams, you’ll see your bus driver, or taxi driver, or dolmus driver, talking on their phone, smoking a cigarette, handing out change to a boarding passenger, and shouting at the nearest motorist, all with considerable ease. They’re just wired differently, I suspect.

Still, even their supernatural powers have a limit. Getting blind-sided by an angry umbrella is apparently pushing the boundaries, and even the most dexterous of drivers would find it a challenge to command the vehicle whilst down on the floor. If you don’t believe me, try it sometime. Or maybe you already have tried it. It is a free country, after all.

In the days following the crash, there was lots of talk on the social media. Images of the crash were shared, and people gasped in knowing disbelief. We all use the metrobus, and you could just see something like that happening sooner or later – maybe we were just shocked that it didn’t happen sooner.

Images of the nearly overturned bus, and the smashed up cars, shards of shattered glass on the pavement … and finally, last but not least, the umbrella. Somebody took a picture of the alleged “killer” umbrella. It was lying, in a sort of remorseful way (can an umbrella feel remorse? How do we know?), in the road, almost as if someone was pointing at it, saying, “There! That’s the one!”

Well, I guess we can all scrounge up a little pity in our hearts for the poor umbrella. It wasn’t the umbrella’s fault that its owner was a mental cadaver. After all, umbrella’s don’t hit metrobus drivers, people do.

When I first read the news of the crash, my wife and I discussed it. It was on the tip of my tongue to suggest that the cause of the attack was bottled-up tension. This is a city, and country, under siege, right? People living in, or near, a war zone are on constant edge. Just last week, two women were attacked by roaming magandas, one of the women for wearing shorts (which her male attacker claims offended his religious beliefs, and later changed his story to say he’d forgotten to take his bi-polar medication), and another woman in Izmir was beaten up because her male attacker claims she refused his sexual advances.

I myself witnessed a verbal altercation on the minibus last Monday. It was just after the weeklong bayram holiday, and everyone had that sullen resignation of returning to work. When I boarded the bus, the driver and a young woman were shouting at each other, to the irritation of all the sleepy, holiday-hungover passengers. The dispute was evidently over the fare, for the driver produced this price menu (I never knew the drivers carried them; I think they keep them tucked away for just such occasions) and invited the distraught woman to peruse it if she thought he was trying to cheat her.

Were all these incidents a result of war fatigue? Nah. I think it’s just the inevitable byproduce of life in an almost biblically overcrowded city. I like it actually, in a perverse way. It’s bracing, and makes for good copy. But I think I’ll stick to the minibuses. They’re so small and crowded, you couldn’t swing an umbrella even if you tried.

###

James Tressler, a former Lost Coast resident, is a writer living in Istanbul.