The Times-Standard keeps the world safe for democracy

Hello, fuckwits.

We received several comments and emails asking, in essence, WTF with this recent Times-Standard editorial.

It was supposedly written in response to a complaint by an unidentified Arcata official who took the Sub-Standard to task for “promoting” Redwood Park as the venue of choice for 4:20 festivities, despite the fact that Arcata PD had announced it would effectively close the park.

Not a very interesting argument, really, which makes it all the more impressive that in a few short paragraphs, the newspaper’s editorial board managed to escalate it from shut-out pot-whiffers to Kim Jong-Il.

Watch and learn.

City officials said they were closing the park because of potential damage to the park. But city officials do not close farmers markets or other events held in Arcata Plaza that result in litter in the plaza and surrounding streets.

True or false: Farmers markets are illegal. Anyone?

[T]here is a very basic American rule of thumb. It is called the First Amendment, which prohibits the making of any law “respecting an establishment of religion,” impeding the free exercise of religion, infringing on the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.

Another very basic American rule of thumb is that stupid shit protected by the First Amendment is still stupid shit. Just FYI.

Equally important for newspapers, the First Amendment is also pivotal to a free and democratic society, which often needs open dialogue and honesty about events that we all know are happening, whether we like it or not.

Dude. Seriously. You wrote about people smoking pot in a park. It wasn’t the twilight’s last gleaming, ok? Our free and Democratic society wouldn’t have skipped a beat if you’d published a tuna casserole recipe instead.

We must remember Bell, Calif., where a number of people were not held accountable, and we must also remember that this newspaper is in the United States, not Libya or China or North Korea.

Which, if you think about it, is a god damn shame.

Royal wedding, Humboldt style

In a wedding for the ages, Mark Lovelace marries the love of his life, Mark Lovelace.

If Gallegos makes a list of law enforcement officers with ethics problems, does he have to put himself on it?

Pot, kettle, etc.

The Times-Standard reports that Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos is making a secret list of of law enforcement officials “whose character and honesty have come into question.”

What could possibly go wrong with that?

So because we like to help–we’re givers, you know, deep down inside–we thought we’d get the ball rolling with a list of people in Gallegos’ own office against whom dishonesty has been not only alleged but judicially substantiated.

Our story begins with a routine DUI arrest in Ferndale and ends almost two years later with a California court of appeal tossing the case after finding that DA Investigator Wayne Cox and Deputy DAs Ben McLaughlin and Randy Mailman committed prosecutorial misconduct and violated the defendant’s constitutional rights.

A subsequent opinion upheld these findings and added Assistant DA Wes Keat–the number-two guy in Gags’ office–to the list of perpetrators.

Go team!!

The appellant, Rocky Crowl, was arrested in Ferndale in 2009 for allegedly driving under the influence. At the time of the arrest, the defendant and his two alleged passengers–Rocky’s girlfriend, named Jessica Sneed, and Rocky’s cousin Christopher Crowl who bore a “ballpark” resemblance to Rocky, according to court records–were out of the vehicle, and it was unclear which Crowl had actually been driving. Was it the drunk Rocky or the sober Christopher?

Sneed and Christopher didn’t help the prosecution’s case a bit when both testified at the preliminary hearing that it had been Christopher, not Rocky, behind the wheel. But this setback was only temporary, because the resourceful men and women from the DA’s Office had a solution: Tell the witnesses that if they testify at trial you’ll throw them in prison for perjury–or, to use the formal term for that activity, intimidate the shit out of the witnesses.

Cox had them arrested (over a 3-day weekend) and both charged with felony perjury and being an accessory to a felony. And then, maybe just because some things never change, McLaughlin offered them a deal in exchange for guilty pleas. Both refused.

Just how unusual was it to arrest and charge defense witnesses with perjury? The trial judge said that in 12 years on the bench, he’d never seen anything quite like it. According to the appellate decision,

We need not ignore the clear inference that the nearly unheard of conduct by the prosecution in this case was designed to intimidate these witnesses and keep them from testifying for defendant.

The court concluded

that the evidence in the record supports the trial court’s finding that the prosecution’s unnecessary urgency in arresting, forcefully interrogating, and filing perjury and accessory after the fact charges against Sneed and Christopher resulted in effectively precluding these previously willing defense witnesses from testifying at defendant’s trial. This was misconduct.

The court notified the California State Bar of its findings of misconduct by McLaughlin, Mailman and Keat.

Oh, and it also affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of the DUI case on the ground that the prosecution violated the defendant’s constitutional right to due process by intimidating defense witnesses.

So there’s four names for Gallegos’ Brady list. We’d put Gags on there too, except it’s pretty hard to question the character and honesty of someone who has neither.

Good thing we don’t have tornadoes around here

This particular storm was accompanied by hot air and golf ball-sized bullshit.

Noreen Evans has a problem with government spending: She thinks there isn’t enough of it.

One more mode of transportation Noreen Evans might consider, assuming handbaskets have been ruled out.

Senator Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa) went on a Twitter tirade this week after legislators’ tax-funded state vehicles were taken away due to budget cuts.

During a roughly two-hour period on Wednesday, Evans sent a flurry of tweets suggesting a complete disconnect with the condition of the state’s economy.

As if to accentuate the dumb, she directed several of her rants at Santa Rosa’s Press Democrat newspaper.

“Hey Press Democrat! Going to Vallejo today to meet with Chamber. Was there yesterday too. Big meeting in Napa Thursday. 280 miles roundtrip. How should I get there?”

“Used allowance driving to and from Capitol, Sebastopol, Vallejo and Napa. Sorry Mendocino, state can’t afford your rep to tour tsunami damage at Noyo Harbor.”

“Napa has hot air balloons. Maybe they can send one over to take me to Thursday’s meeting!”

“Another incident at Napa State Hospital? Sorry workers, state can’t afford to send your elected reps to meet with you and see state facility. Maybe Press Democrat can go instead.”

“Sorry Humboldt. State can’t afford to send your elected reps to meet with students and faculty re impacts of budget cuts. Send the university down here.”

“What’s that Lake County? Flood damage? Sorry, state can’t afford to send your elected reps to see the damage. Send pictures.”

“There’s a llama farm in Mendocino County. Send ‘em down! I need to go up there for 4th of July. Let’s get packing!”

“Lake County has a buffalo ranch. Send ‘em down! Need to get on the road if you want your senator to see the new community college campus!”

Yeah. Here’s the thing, Noreen. We don’t want you going on glad-handing tours. We want you to sit down, face forward, and spend as much energy fixing the economy as you’ve wasted defending a perk virtually none of your constituents enjoy.

And if that’s too tall an order, why not just read what Assemblyman Wes Chesbro (D-Arcata) said about losing his free car:

Under these circumstances we need to do our part.

You think?

Legislators, who are paid more than $100,000 a year, will receive a $300-a-month stipend to offset the cost of travel within their districts.

Dave Stancliff accuses Humboldt Mirror of being popular and funny

Dave Stancliff took on the local blogosphere in a recent Times-Standard column, where he made a number of insulting and inaccurate assertions about the Humboldt Mirror.

Particularly egregious was his allegation that we employ “cutting-edge humor.”

I know. What did we ever do to him?

If you’re a liberal, brace yourself for ridicule when you visit and make a comment at the Humboldt Mirror. This right-wing blog’s “Bugs” like to slice and dice “Progs” (the slang for progressives). If you’re a conservative, be ready for scorn if you stop by and make a comment at The Humboldt Herald blog whose motto is, “Provoking Humboldt Since 2006.”

Both popular blogs provide lively local news and political debate. The “Bugs” cutting-edge humor is one reason to read them. The author(s) of the Humboldt Mirror (Do good, look good. Do bad, look out.) are unknown, which is probably a good thing.

Well. Aside from the nice stuff, it does kind of sound like us.

But seriously, Dave. Right-wing? The Bugs consist of one fiscally conservative Democrat and one socially liberal Republican. Not to split hairs or anything, but that makes the Mirror slightly less right-wing than the Clinton administration.

Anyway, the rest of his column is worth a read.

So take that, Dave.

Now we’re even.

Insert remark about how far the apple has or hasn’t fallen from the tree

There’s a familiar name mentioned in conjunction with DUI charges in today’s Times-Standard.

And so it was that John's special relationship with his Cafe Waterfront barstool came to a chagrined and abrupt end.

Geologic Timescale: County finaly agrees to more realistic GPU pace

After an embarrassing public hearing where they had to admit they suck at communicating with even the most obvious and recognizable forms of local government entities, the county’s Community Development Services Dept. head honchos this week quietly issued a more conservative timescale for their General Plan Update process to better inform residents about upcoming public-input opportunities.
Although tensions are running high over the location and amount of growth that should be allowed under the new and controversial General Plan, one thing remains clear:  residents, their children, their children’s children, their children, as well as the next 40 generations of their children, will have a chance to give their 3-minutes worth of input to the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors over the next 21 eons while the GPU is finalized.

Community Development has done plenty of communicating about the General Plan Update, thank you, which is why they now have to do a shit-ton more of it

This is the image that greeted web viewers more than an hour before the GPU meeting actually ended.

After months of attributing concerns about inadequate communication regarding the county’s General Plan Update to “special interest groups” spreading “misinformation,” Both Kirk Girard and his snarky senior planner Martha Spencer admitted today that they had failed to incorporate or even solicit input from key stakeholders.

The admissions were made near the start of a six-hour meeting that reportedly ended with a unanimous decision to defer discussion about pausing the GPU process or creating an advisory group that would keep the planning process focused on the will of the people, rather than the will of the Planning Commission.

Community Development Disservices staff were, however, instructed to solicit the input of local cities, Community Services Districts and tribes–something that 12 years into the process Girard’s staff never bothered to do.

A few observations along the way, if we may.

  • If you’re going to hold a meeting to defend against allegations of shoddy communication, your argument is not helped when the speakers for the overflow crowd in the courthouse lobby don’t work, the computer stream cuts out before the end of public comment, and the TV feed goes dead in the middle of boardmember deliberations. Just FYI.
  • When Arcata City Councilboy Shane Brinton stands up and calls those who care about our local economy an “unholy alliance” of “greedy people,” we’re reminded that he is, after all, 12 years old, which is why his was far and away the most arrogant and immature voice in the room. We expect he’ll cultivate a more nuanced grasp of economic issues once his mom cuts off his allowance.
  • Natalynn DeLapp, if you’re going to sit behind the podium, all of your whispering, texting and giggling like a drunken sorority girl end up on TV, and your reputation as irrelevant political eye-candy remains firmly intact. As much as we normally enjoy ogling your rack, even we were relieved when you left, probably to get your nails done.
  • Spoiler alert: Scott Greacen threatened litigation. With a straight face and everything. We’re shocked!!
  • For Community Development Disservices Director Kirk Girard, a quick clarification: Having to make changes to work your staff has already done is not a downside of soliciting additional community input. It’s not an unfortunate side-effect. It’s the fucking point. That’s just something to keep in mind going forward.

And because we hate all the grim, let’s go out with a laugh. You know how we love a laugh. This one’s easy: Just Google “Kirk Girard.” Please. For us. It’s the awesomest thing we’ve seen all day.

Hugs!

Headwaters Fund also on BOS agenda today w/ photo update

A pair of items on the Board of Supes agenda may present Kirk Girard challenges he can’t dispense with in snarky letters to the editor.

"Read my lips: I don't care what you think!"

There’s that whole General Plan Update thing, of course. There’s also a request that the board approve the “slate” of projects the Community Development Disservices Director wants to dip into the Headwaters Fund to pay for.

As reported by the North Coast Journal, this year’s first installment of the Humboldt County Grand Jury Report notes some improvements in Girard’s management of the fund, while reiterating that the fund doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do–and, as an aside, Girard shouldn’t be managing it in the first place.

Why? Turns out the Grand Jurors think a fund created to increase the number of above-median jobs in the county should, you know, increase the number of above-median jobs in the county. Girard, on the other hand, seems to think the fund his department manages should be a really good source of funding for that department.

While that might seem like a surprisingly efficient funding mechanism for a public agency, not everyone is impressed. As the Grand Jury notes,

The perceived conflict arises when the Director applies for a grant, screens the grant, prepares a staff report and signs the grant contract as Grantee.

Well, yeah. There’s that.

This time around, Girard appears to be asking to fund other people’s projects. However, it remains to be seen whether he can convince the board that, say, building bathrooms at the Orick Rodeo Grounds and cleaning up toxic waste on Indian Island will result in an increase in above-median employment.

Regardless, the Grand Jury’s argument that Girard should relinquish management of the fund to the County Treasurer is compelling. Maybe that would free up some of his above-median staff time to finish the fricking General Plan Update.

Crawford memorial service today

The life of Chris Crawford will be celebrated today from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Arkley Center for the Performing Arts, located at 412 G Street in Eureka.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in Chris’s name to the local chapter of the American Cancer Society at 2942 F Street, Eureka, CA, 95501, or to the charity of your choice.

Security National reduces local workforce by 31

How long do you think it will take for the Arkley obsessives to celebrate local job loss?

EUREKA, Calif., April 7, 2011 – SN Servicing Corporation, a member of the Security National family of companies, announces today that it will reduce its workforce by 49 positions, including 31 employees in its Eureka headquarters.

The reduction in force reflects the upcoming expiration of one of its contracts to manage portfolios of home mortgages currently owned by a large national financial institution. SN Servicing Corporation has managed the portfolio since 2009.

“We are currently in negotiations with several large financial institutions to assume management of additional mortgage portfolios,” said Sandra Austin, Senior Vice President of Loan Administration.

Security National has several operating subsidiaries that specialize in Insurance, Real Estate Investment, Mortgage Investments, and, during the past three years, Managing Mortgages and Real Estate owned by Financial Institutions and Government Agencies.

“While we have seen conditions improve in our Commercial Real Estate and Insurance divisions, our third-party servicing portfolio continues to be affected by reduced volumes of home loan originations and whole loan trading activities due to current market conditions,” said Ron Williams, Chief Operating Officer.

Founded in 1987, SN Servicing Corporation specializes in providing distressed home owners flexible solutions and personalized service with the goal of keeping them in their homes.

For more information on SN Servicing Corporation, visit http://www.snsc.com or e-mail bmitchell@snsc.com.

Fake cripple smuggles fake medicine in wheelchair

Genius!! And it was all going so well until the proprietor of this chair “seemed nervous.” That’s when the drug-sniffing dog was brought in, with predictable results.

Where’s Patty Berg when we need her? Let’s get someone in Sacramento to sponsor the Compassionate Smuggling Act and put an end to this senseless persecution of medicinal couriers.

 

I guess this is what happens when you take the term "wheelchair marijuana" literally.

Lovelace roadtrips to Sactown to lobby for Coastal Commission seat

It's worth noting that Brown's podium is only 4 feet tall.

According to sources close to the Third District Supervisor, Mark Lovelace isn’t sparing any taxpayer expense promoting himself to Gov. Jerry Brown in hopes of securing an appointment to the California Coastal Commission.

The diminutive elected official and former banjo builder reported during the Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday that he had attended several recent events at the State Capitol.

Included in Lovelace’s whirlwind tour was Gov. Jerry Brown’s presser on March 30 proclaiming “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day,” a proclamation event declaring March 31 as “César Chávez Day,” a correctional system reform legislation signing ceremony for AB 109, and the governor’s keynote speech at the California Medical Association’s Annual Legislative Leadership Conference.

When pressed by the CAO’s staff, he also admitted to attending the Gov.’s recent rally for Girl Scouts where Lovelace apparently interrupted the event with chants of “Oooo, ooo!!! Pick me, pick me!!!”

Arcata Eye way funnier than Humboldt Mirror

Photo and story by Kevin Hoover

Gallegos Vows To Complete Subway Take-Out Order ‘Soon’

EUREKA, APRIL 1 – A tense standoff between Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos and a fast food menu entered its 11th day Monday, as the D.A. pondered a range of meat, topping and bun sandwich options that appeared to overwhelm the county’s lead prosecutor.

“Um… let’s see,” Gallegos said to an increasingly impatient Subway employee while attempting to complete a sandwich order. “Let’s do lettuce, tomatoes and, uh… peperoncinis – no, actually, I take that back, because I just remembered that I don’t really like spicy food,” the D.A. said, before regrouping to give it another go.

“Gimme a minute here,” he said, his eyes slowly drifting over to a stainless steel tray of red onions, then over to a condiment tray, then back to the onions, his brow furrowed in deep thought.

“Let’s start over at the beginning, sir,” a Subway clerk advised, motioning to several small loaves of bread arranged on an oven rack. “Would you like a foot-long or six-inch?”

Gallegos then looked in the direction of the oven rack for several minutes without speaking.
One customer characterized his expression as “a blank, thousand-yard stare.”

Lawn chairs, sleeping bags and pickup games of checkers occupied the 50-or-so customers waiting in line outside the Subway and – although nerves were increasingly frayed – patrons made the best of it, in a scene reminiscent of a Harry Potter film release.

Gallegos’ sandwich odyssey struck a familiar note to those accustomed to the D.A.’s poor – or some would even charge, nonexistent – decision-making abilities.

As lead prosecutor, Gallegos’ internal compass has at times displayed all the consistency of a Magic 8 Ball: One minute, offering soft plea deals to violent repeat criminals; the next, engaging in quixotic – and ultimately, failed – attempts at prosecuting elected officials and chiefs of police.

Back inside Subway, Gallegos expressed renewed determination to conquer the sandwich menu:  “I will select my chosen condiments and toppings without fear or favor,” he said in his trademark, meandering gravel-voice – but appeared no closer to narrowing down which vegetables to choose.

Putting a cell phone up to his ear, Gallegos was then overheard to say: “Listen, Richard, I need your help making a decision. No, not on that felony plea-bargain thing… and no, this has nothing to do with the investigation into Allison. Richard, can you remember whether I like dijonnaise?”

Read more here.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 54 other followers