‘SHAME ON SHLOMO’: Citizens Protest the Pending Closure of Local Nursing Homes

Hank Sims / Thursday, Oct. 13 @ 5:17 p.m. / Activism

Photos: Andrew Goff.



About 30 raucous protesters have gathered outside Pacific Rehabilitation and Wellness Center, a nursing home on Eureka’s Harrison Avenue, to try and shout down its upcoming closure.

Pacific Rehabilitation and three other local nursing homes, which together represent the large majority of available nursing home beds in Humboldt County, are now slated for closure by their owner, Shlomo Rechnitz of Brius Healthcare Services, California’s largest nursing home operator. A plan approved by state regulators would move the patients to other facilities, mostly in other counties.

The protesters, waved signs and shouted slogans — “Shame on Shlomo” — while receiving appreciate honks from passing cars. Speaking to the Outpost’s Andrew Goff, one protester — Jeff Graham of Garberville — choked up at the thought of his mother, a log truck driver recovering from dramatic surgery, being shipped far away. Audio:

Jeff Graham of Garberville

The protest is scheduled to go on until 6 p.m.


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LoCO VOTES! Everyone is So Hopped Up About Measure P, Eureka’s Election Reform Initiative

Hank Sims / Thursday, Oct. 13 @ 3:43 p.m. / Elections

Every few years, the Eureka populace gets itself into a big tizzy about its unusual system for electing people to its city council. The Eureka left rises up, the Eureka right screams bloody murder, and then nothing changes and the whole fight goes into hibernation for a while.

This keeps coming up, though, because Eureka’s election system — as Outpost readers know — is extraordinarily dumb. It divvies the city up into five roughly equal parts (“wards”), then requires the council to have one member who lives in each ward. Theoretically, this is so residents of each neighborhoods have a go-to councilmember to whom they can take their beefs, and who will fight on their behalf.

However, the city charter immediately undermines this rationale by allowing the entire city to vote for who will represent each ward. So no councilmember has any incentive at all to fight for the people of her own ward. Actually, she’d be better off — electorally speaking — if she were to fight for the other four wards against her own. So there’s that, plus we all have to endure the ludicrous yet commonplace spectacle of would-be candidates carpetbagging themselves around our tiny town, looking for a favorable ward to run from, with no more attachment to the neighborhood than a dropslot that they may or may not occasionally check for new mail.

There are better ways to do this, and we can find them by looking at almost any other city in the United States of America. In the vast majority of U.S. towns and cities, councilmembers are chosen either:

  • At-large. The entire city votes for their city council candidates, who do not have to live anywhere in particular so long as they live inside the city limits. Councilmembers represent the city as a whole.
  • By district. The city is divided up into equal parts, and each part elects its own councilmember. That councilmember represents his district in city government.

The Eureka left favors by-district elections. The Eureka right, for reasons known only to itself, favors the current, dumb way. No one seems to favor at-large elections, which is by far the most common and almost certainly the most sensible option for a city of our size.

This election season, the Eureka left is taking its turn at the plate. Eureka voters will be asked to vote on Measure P, the “True Ward Initiative” — a proposal to turn Eureka’s current wards into “true wards” by having each of the city’s five districts elect its own councilmember.

Got it? OK. Let’s look at the best and worst arguments for and against Measure P.



PRETTY BAD ARGUMENT: Some Measure P proponents warn that unless Eureka moves to district elections it will soon face litigation under the California Voting Rights Act, which protects the interest of disenfranchised minority voters. This is a pretty bad argument.

It is true that a number of California cities have been sued in recent years for this reason, and a good number of them have been forced into district elections. See this story from the Los Angeles Times, or this more up-to-date story from VICE News. The latter is particularly good on the money-hungry lawyers who are eager to bring such cases against local jurisdictions.

However, there’s a big difference between Eureka and the cities mentioned in these cases, in which a large black or Latino population gets stuck under white rule for decades and decades. The difference is that Eureka is still ridiculously white. We don’t have enough CVRA-protected citizens to oppress, at least in an electoral fashion. To bring suit, you’d have to determine that Eureka’s Latino residents — 11.6 percent of the population — vote as a block, and that their voice is being drowned out by the majority Caucasian population.

Anti-Measure P people like to snark about the fact that Eureka seemed to have no problem electing a Latina candidate — Natalie Arroyo — to the city council last time around, and by a wide margin, but that actually does factor into the equation, here. The law states:

The occurrence of racially polarized voting shall be determined from examining results of elections in which at least one candidate is a member of a protected class or elections involving ballot measures, or other electoral choices that affect the rights and privileges of members of a protected class.

On the other hand, lawyers are lawyers. Some of them like to roll the dice, especially if they have nothing else going on. On the other other hand, district elections in themselves don’t make us lawsuit-free, on CVRA grounds. There are such things as unjustly drawn districts.

GOOD ARGUMENT: Measure P supporters argue that district elections would take the money out of politics, and would make it easier for working people to run for council. This is almost certainly true. It’s one thing to knock on every door in the city; it’s quite another to knock on 20 percent of those doors.

People who are actually active in their corner of the community — neighborhood watch captains, block party organizers, volunteer school crossing guards, etc. — would be instant favorites. They have a head start that paid political advertisements and party machinations, left and right, will have a hard time countering. Everyone in the district already knows them, and paid political advertisements and whisper campaigns won’t hold near as much sway.


BAD ARGUMENT: The Anti-P forces like to say: “They’re taking your vote away! Now you’ll only get to vote for ONE councilmember instead of FIVE. Measure P wants to disenfranchise you by 80 percent!”

The Anti-P forces like to say this because they think you are spectacularly ignorant. Please, please, please don’t swallow it and prove them right.

The point is: Do we want district elections? That is the only point. There’s nothing undemocratic about electing your own representative, rather than allowing everyone else to elect him for you. When some crusty old codger (or some doofus like our own Matt Owen) throws this at you, you are perfectly right to ask him whether he’d like Los Angeles to elect the North Coast’s state senators and assemblymembers and Congressmen.

Look, this isn’t hard. Yes, you only get to vote for 1/5 of the city council, but your vote is five times as powerful. Because you don’t have the other 80 percent of the city voting for your representative. Capiche?

GOOD ARGUMENT: But there’s a serious case to be made that Eureka is just too small for district elections. Imagine each little canton of Trinidad or Blue Lake standing up for its rights at a municipal level. It is absurd. Is Eureka that far removed?

Separate electorates are separate electorates. Neighborhood problems would move closer to the fore, and citywide problems — economic development, budgetary matters, general planning, etc. — would inevitably end up being secondary, or at least more secondary than they are now.

Take the case of homelessness, for example. If each district of the city elected its own representative, the very first priority of each representative of the city would be — would almost have to be, if they hope for reelection — to keep the homeless out of their own district. Where should we put the services center? Anywhere except my district! 

You can play this out ad infinitum. Where do we fix the potholes? Where do we zone for low-income housing? Where should we put the new playground equipment? Where should beat cops patrol? Either your representative brings home the bacon or she does not. 


So since at-large elections are off the table, at least this go-round, the question boils down to this: Is the prospect of a more direct relationship with your councilmember more important to you than the fear of a balkanized city? We don’t have an answer. But if you do, then you now know how to vote on Measure P.

Who’s Messing With These Campaign Signs? Eureka City Council Candidate Offers $1,000 Reward

Andrew Goff / Thursday, Oct. 13 @ 3:35 p.m. / Elections

Praise be to whoever! We have entered the final stretch of this horrible, depressing election season. No. More. Please. Now, while none of the local races have approached the levels of yuck seen at the national level, that is not to say we are free from our own silliness.

As we’ve come to expect, a big part of local campaigning comes in the form of brightly colored, name recognition-buildin’ yard signs. And what always seems to happen this time of year? Yes! It’s screwin’ with signs season!

On cue, this afternoon the Outpost received an email from Eureka City Council candidate John Fullerton informing us that, last night, between two to three dozen of his campaign signs had been stolen or destroyed. Behold!

Yup. Fullerton sent along the photos, above, of the defacing and also did not shy away from speculating that the sign vandals were sympathetic to fellow candidate Austin Allison, his competitor in November.

“It is obvious that it was done by supporters of my opponent as only my signs were targeted,” Fullerton wrote. “Other candidates and propositions signs were left alone.” 

Fullerton does not take kindly to sign molestation and went on to offer a cool $1,000 for information that leads to the identity of the vandals and/or thieves. We spoke to Fullerton on the phone to ask if he’d filed a report with the Eureka Police Department.

“I haven’t yet, because the total value is less than a thousand dollars and they’re already overworked and underpaid,” he said, but added that he would file a police report if it would help get the word out. 

“I have no problem filing one. I have a three o’clock appointment, but when I get out I will file one,” Fullerton said. 

For his part, Allison, reached by phone, strongly denied to the Outpost any involvement in the sign wars and condemned whoever was responsible for such “childhood antics.” 

“I think it’s wrong,” he said, noting that he too has had two of his own signs stolen from his yard this month. “By doing that you are violating the free speech of others. You’re committing a crime.”

As if it needs saying … don’t steal signs.

25 days until the election. 

YOUR WEEK IN OCEAN: Women Surfers to Coastal Commission — Bros Don’t Own Mavericks!

Delia Bense-Kang / Thursday, Oct. 13 @ 12:46 p.m. / Ocean

Photo: CEWS Facebook.

Another wave of controversy is hitting the California Coastal Commission, and this time it is quite literally a wave. The wave is Mavericks, one of the most notorious big-wave spots of all time, and the controversy is that women have never been invited to partake in the big-wave surf contest, the Titans of Mavericks, held there. This year all that could change, as a group of top women big-wave athletes have formed a group called the Committee for Equity in Women’s Surfing (CEWS), and are asking for their own division in the Titans of Mavericks and any surf competition held at Mavericks in the future. 

Held since 1999, the Titans of Mavericks is considered to be one of the most coveted events in big wave surfing, and only runs when conditions are just right. Although the contest has always been open to women, one has yet to crack the elite top 24 athletes who are invited to participate.

As of last year, any surf contest held at Maverick’s needs a permit approved by the California Coastal Commission to access the offshore surf area, beach, and nearby parking lot. CEWS has submitted a proposal to the commission, requesting they make hosting a corresponding women’s division a precondition to receive the permit to hold a surf contest at Mavericks. 

Among the women making up the committee are four of the biggest names in women’s big wave surfing — Bianca Valenti, Paige Alms, Keala Kennelly and Andrea Moller. These four women along with countless others are a testament to how far women’s big-wave surfing as a sport has progressed in recent years. 

The ocean does not discriminate based on gender, ethnicity or sexuality. Men and women alike risk their lives surfing big waves every day, and all seek the chance to showcase their talent and hard work. Mavericks is recognized as the pinnacle of big wave surfing; providing women with their own heat in the Titans of Mavericks contest would give them the hard-earned opportunity to prove and perform their talents on the same playing field as the men.

The commission will discuss the proposal at their hearing, November 2-4. Their decision will set a precedent for the future inclusion of women in big-wave surfing contests, and for equality of women athletes in general. The World Surf League (WSL) has already embraced the inclusion of women athletes in the 2016/17 WSL Big Wave Tour, with contests scheduled for Pe’Ahi, Maui and Todos Santos, Mexico.  The question is, will California will join the growing movement of supporting women in their quest to showcase their talent and pave the way for equality in surfing for future generations. 

To support the Committee for Equity in Women’s Surfing:

  • EMAIL letters of support to Coastal Commission staff member Renee Anahda: renee.Ananda@coastal.ca.gov. Need help writing a letter? Surfrider Humboldt is happy to help! Shoot them a message on Facebook or email humboldt@surfrider.org 
  • SHOW UP at the Coastal Commission meeting at Half Moon Bay (it’s a bit of a drive, but who doesn’t love it?)

Want more information? Check out articles on The Inertia HERE and the Monterey Herald HERE.


Delia Bense-Kang serves as the Northcoast Environmental Center’s Marine Protected Area Outreach Coordinator and chairs Surfrider Foundation’s Humboldt Chapter.

LISTEN! Last Night’s Arcata City Council Debate (AUDIO)

Andrew Goff / Thursday, Oct. 13 @ 11 a.m. / Politics

Above: Roll call! Winkler, Ornelas, Rose-Campbell, Pitino! 

Wow. Not one candidate threatened to jail any of the others. Truly stunning. 

Yes, last night your Lost Coast Outpost, with support from the Mad River Union and KHUM, had the privilege to submit questions to four of the five candidates running for three Arcata City Council seats opening up this November. During the hour debate, incumbents Paul Pitino, Susan Ornelas and Michael Winkler and challenger Valerie Rose-Campbell all displayed a keen knowledge of Arcata’a inner workings as well as a love of their community. (A fifth registered candidate, Daniel Murphy, was unable to attend.)

Topics presented by yours truly and Sierra Jenkins included: affordable housing, wastewater treatment plant upgrades, homelessness, Halloween and New Year’s Eve Plaza policing, the Medical Marijuana Industrial Zone and more. Listen below.

(AUDIO) Arcata City Council Debate

(Special thanks to Mad River Union’s Jack Durham for forcefully keeping time and to KHUM’s Bayley Brown for audio-documenting the candidates positions for the ages.) 

PREVIOUSLY: DEBATE NIGHT: What Would You Ask an Arcata City Council Candidate?  

Blaring Smoke Alarm Alerts Neighbors to Humboldt Hill Structure Fire

Andrew Goff / Thursday, Oct. 13 @ 10:56 a.m. / Fire

Humboldt Bay Fire press release: 

On October 12th, at approximately 3:30 PM, Humboldt Bay Fire responded to a reported structure fire at 2349 Fischer Lane in the Humboldt Hill area. A neighbor heard smoke alarms sounding inside the residence and saw smoke coming from a bedroom window of the home. A second neighbor dialed 911 to report the fire.

The first arriving units found moderate smoke coming from the residence. Fire crews attacked the fire while additional fire personnel searched the building for missing occupants. The fire was quickly extinguished with fire damage being confined to one bedroom. The residence did sustain smoke damage throughout. No one was home at the time of the fire, and fire personnel verified no one was inside.

The cause of the fire is under investigation but did not appear suspicious.

Smoke alarms save lives. Check them regularly and change the batteries twice a year!

OBITUARY: Darrell Lee Robinson, Sr., 1931-2016

LoCO Staff / Thursday, Oct. 13 @ 9:15 a.m. / Obits

Darrell Lee Robinson, Sr., surrounded by his loving family, went to be with his Lord and savior on Oct. 9, 2016.

Darrell was born on April 5, 1931, to Marie and David Robinson in Sheldon, Mo. He was the oldest of six sibilings. As a young man Darrell traveled on his Harley Davidson to Ukiah, California. At the age of 21, he was drafted to the Korean War serving two years before being transfered to the Army reserve for the next four years. During this time his daughter Rhonda was born. Darrell held a very special place in his heart for Rhonda being she was his only daughter.

In 1955, he married Adalea Romer and eventually they made their way to Fortuna, where they started their family. Darrell retired with Operating Engineers as an Equipment Operator and Grade Setter building roads. He enjoyed many years of hunting and fishing with his sons and grandsons. One of his favorite hobbies was reloading shells.

A few years after Darrell’s wife passed a new chapter started in his life. In 2000 he was struck by Cupid’s arrow, initiated by Lanore Bergenske. She told him about her aunt Pat Ford and where she attended church. Sure enough Darrell, showed up to her church that next Sunday to meet Pat. Darrell and Pat were married in 2002 and the rest is history. Together they enjoyed their church families at Hydesville Community Church and the First Covenant Church in Eureka, alternating attendance each Sunday. After Sunday services Darrell enjoyed going out to lunch with his family, where he always shared chicken strips with his great-granddaughter Laila.

Darrell was a family man. He loved watching his grandchildren grow and play sports. He was an avid picture-taker, always either taking photos or instructing others to do so.

Darrell was a hard working and very giving man and above all loved his Lord and savior.

Darrell is survived by his loving wife, Patricia Ford Robinson; his children, Rhonda (Randy) Hess of Salinas, David Robinson and Dale Robinson of Anderson, Lee (Jackie) Robinson of Fortuna, Sharon (Steve) Cooksey of Eureka, Peggy (Gary) Thiessen of Sequim, Wash.; his siblings, Della Mitchell of Lebanon, Mo., Connie (Gene) Stump of Lockwood, Mo., Earl (Wanda) Robinson of Nevada, Mo. and Gary (Cathy) Trent of Floral, Florida; in-laws Bob (Irene) Bergenske of Eureka, Gary (Margaret) Nicholson of Rochester, Wash., Judy Fiorini of Turlock, Marva Lou (Rue) LeMar of Novato; and a very special aunt, Dorothy Nicholson of Eureka. Darrell is also survived by 13 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.

Darrell is preceded in death by his parents, Marie and David Robinson; infant brother Earl Byron Robinson; wife Adalea Robinson; nephew Kevin Stump and brother-in-law Dan Bergenske.

A Celebration of Life will be held at Hydesville Community Church on Saturday, Oct. 15 at 1:30 p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to to Hydesville Community Church or to your local Teen Challenge.


The obituary above was submitted by Darrell Lee Robinson’s familyThe Lost Coast Outpost runs obituaries of Humboldt County residents at no charge. See guidelines here. Email news@lostcoastoutpost.com.