Times-Standard uncharacteristically stoic about latest environmental threat

A fish 36 feet long? This thing's got dioxin written all over it.

Boy oh Boyd!

If any of my fellow moderate democrats wonders why the left in Humboldt County appears so clueless and out of touch, let’s consider for a moment the leadership of the Humboldt County Democratic Central Committee.

HCDCC Chair Milt Boyd also chairs the board of the Arcata Community Recycling Center, which recently lost a large municipal contract–and 60 percent of its business–when it was emphatically outbid by Willits-based Renewable Waste Systems.

As the Arcata Eye reported,

To the [Humboldt Waste Management Authority] boardmembers, including Arcata Councilmember Michael Winkler, the decision was clear-cut – ACRC responded to a request for five-year contract proposals with an offer to process recyclables at a cost of $65 a ton. Renewable Waste Systems is offering to pay the HWMA $8 a ton.

Put another way, ACRC’s proposal would have cost the HWMA $2.2 million over the five-year contract period while RWS promises $280,000 in revenue.

So did Chairman Boyd ask for a chance to bring back a lower bid? Did he say he was going to have his board take a hard look at why the ACRC’s price structure was so laughably uncompetitive? Did he acknowledge the HWMA’s fiduciary obligation to ratepayers to provide the best service at the lowest cost?

Not exactly. Boyd said in an interview,

“I’m really disappointed with having supported the representatives on that board,” he said. “Their mantra throughout was, ‘Jobs, jobs, jobs,’ and here we go, shipping those jobs out of Humboldt County.”

And who cares if captive ratepayers would have to pony up 2 million unnecessary dollars to pay for them?

Journalistic hotness calls it quits

Hey! Who's the dude?

Fallout from the North Coast Journal debacle continues, with contributor Jennifer Savage bidding the formerly hip weekly a less-than-fond farewell.

In a NCJ letter, Jen notes that her popular column, Savage Money, “would’ve marked its second year in the Journal as of this issue, but given the recent editorial change, I regret my enthusiasm for writing it has waned.”

It would also have marked the second year of her being the hottest journalist in Humboldt County, and despite the recent editorial change, our enthusiasm for her has not waned.

At all.

In fact, we bugs are lined up at Mirror HQ now with our sad faces on just waiting for that little kiss goodbye…

Hugs, friend!!

Photo credit Terrence McNally.

Today in irony

King Richard assumes his rightful throne.

Straight faces, friends!

Richard Salzman, champion of most laws he hasn’t broken recently, is threatening legal action over the city of Arcata’s anti-panhandling ordinance.

Get some, Dicky! If you keep up the shameless self-promotion, one of these days someone out there might forget what a steaming pile of human waste you really are.

Out there, friend. Definitely not here.

February 14, 2011

Susan Ornelas, Mayor
Michael Winkler, Vice-Mayor
Shane Brinton, Council Member
Alexandra Stillman, Council Member
Mark Wheetley, Council Member
Randy Mendosa, City Manager
Nancy Diamond, Esq., City Attorney

City of Arcata
736 F Street
Arcata, CA 95521

Re: Unconstitutional Panhandling Ordinance enacted April 16, 2010, as Arcata Municipal Code [AMC] Sections 4280-4282.

Dear City Council, City Manager and City Attorney:

Please take notice that Mr. Richard Salzman, a resident of, and taxpayer within, the City of Arcata, has retained the undersigned to bring an action against the City of Arcata to declare its panhandling ordinance unconstitutional and to enjoin the City from any further enforcement of said ordinance. The purpose of this letter is to invite the City to amend its panhandling ordinance as set forth herein, and thereby avoid the expense, uncertainty and unpleasantness of contested litigation.

Specifically, Mr. Salzman contends that AMC Sections 4282B, 4282C, 4282D, 4282E, 4282F and 4282G are unconstitutional. The overall impact of these sections is to criminalize begging in most of the City where it would be fruitful to beg. Begging is a charitable solicitation. The First Amendment clearly protects charitable solicitations. No distinction of constitutional dimension exists between soliciting funds for oneself and for charity. The fact that a beggar keeps the money she receives does not strip the speech of First Amendment protection. A speaker’s rights are not lost merely because compensation is received; a speaker is no less a speaker because she is paid to speak.

To be lawful, the ordinance must serve a compelling interest that is narrowly drawn to achieve its end. The City’s compelling interest, if one exists, is well-served by the ordinance’s ban on aggressive panhandling, to which Mr. Salzman does not take exception. Mr. Salzman objects to the near-total ban on begging in public fora, the justification for which can be little more than avoiding “annoyance” to the public, hardly a compelling interest in First Amendment jurisprudence. Moreover, the ordinance’s ban on begging is not “narrowly tailored;” indeed, it is embarrassingly broad. To achieve the City’s goal of criminalizing the speech of a few beggars, the City has criminalized all solicitations for money. A girl scout cannot sell cookies on the City’s streets. Nor may any charity solicit money in most of the City. A beggar cannot even hold a sign up to ask for money; a more clearly content-based restriction on speech is difficult to imagine.

The City’s attempt to justify these draconian restrictions on speech under the so-called “captive audience rule” is unavailing. The City’s expansion of that concept to include almost all public space within the City perverts the intent of the rule and strikes at the very heart of discourse in a democratic society- the right to communicate with one’s fellow citizens on the public commons.

Other constitutional concerns are implicated in the City’s ordinance. The criminalization of solicitation implicates equal protection concerns, to wit, the ordinance targets the First Amendment rights of the City’s poorest and most downtrodden residents, while it remains legal to accost members of the public to ask the time of day, or to sign a petition. The complexity of the ordinance, with its crazy patch-work of places where it is illegal to beg, implicates notice and due process concerns. A reasonable citizen of the City lacks adequate notice as to where she may beg and where she may not beg. Likewise, the ordinance’s definition of “panhandling” leaves questions unanswered: Is a check or credit card transaction on the City’s streets illegal, or just a cash transaction? This renders the ordinance subject to challenge for vagueness.

Mr. Salzman would prefer to resolve this matter without litigation, and to that end, invites the City and its attorneys to meet with the undersigned to work toward resolution of the issues raised herein.

Respectfully,

Peter E. Martin

Two attorneys win award for work Gallegos took credit for

"Campaign's over. Get this prop off me."

Wait.

You  mean Paul Gallegos issued 10 news releases about how he had straightened Skilled Healthcare around–and two different local attorneys win an award for it?

Poor Paul!

Being a hero of the people is a thankless job.

Governor gives Lovelace new opportunity to be obsequious little prick, emphasis on “little” (and “prick”)

The man who would be king

The land of second chances lived up to its reputation for one diminutive supervisor yesterday when Governor Brown reversed the recent appointment of Ken Zanzi to the California Coastal Commission.

All that remains to be seen now is how many people and processes Mark Lovelace will gleefully trample to get his own hyper-ambitious self appointed to fill the seat.

Let the games begin!

Trees or trails?

That appears the be the question Caltrans is asking with its latest project proposal, which would widen four bridges along the Avenue of the Giants to accommodate non-motorized traffic.

According to the Times-Standard report, Caltrans acknowledges the project could have a variety of environmental impacts. And they’re not kidding.

Construction of the bridges would occur in habitat for protected marbled murrelets and northern spotted owls, and would not be stopped during nesting season in order to complete construction during dry weather, the notice reads. The project would involve working in the root zone of redwoods, or placing paving over roots.

Additionally, Caltrans would divert four tributaries of the South Fork of the Eeel River “for one to two seasons,” with obvious impacts to habitat and salmon.

Now, we’re not ones to go teary-eyed at the thought of a tree or two getting its feelings hurt. Nor do we think for a minute that the disingenuous hoopla over the Richardson Grove project has shit to do with the environment. It is instead a transparent attempt to continue to obstruct business development in Humboldt County. Period. There’s more environmental damage right now on the Northcoast Environmental Center’s property in Arcata than the Richardson Grove project would ever cause.

But the Avenue bridges project sounds like it could have very real impacts, and we hope the review process is both thorough and transparent.

On that score, sadly, Caltrans may not be getting off to the best start. John Driscoll notes,

The initial study was not attached to the notice, and an e-mail to the project manager was not returned by deadline. Caltrans spokesman Phil Frisbee said that more information on the project will be made available on the Caltrans website on the day of the February meeting.

Yeah. Not cool, Caltrans. Get your story straight on this, or your bridges project won’t have a spotted owl’s chance in hell.

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