This Week in Stupid

douchetrophyWelcome to the first edition of This Week in Stupid, a new weekly column in which we will present the coveted Douchebaggy Award to the person or persons who best exemplify the mental ineptitude that has made this county the clusterfuck it is today.

Our first week of competition turned into a tag team event. Larry Glass and Sheryl Schaffner, with their poorly conceived rental housing ordinance, faced off against the relentlessly opinionated husband-wife duo of Jeff Schwartz and Marcy Burstiner, whose contributions to American letters last week proved even stupid people can become lawyers and college professors.

First, Mr. Schwartz lamented the difficult lot of the professional classes who, even with their multiple degrees and cush jobs, still can’t always afford to send their kids to private schools. Not only that, but now they’re expected to pay for their own childcare, and they have no special immunity to contagious disease. Our hearts break! But, uh, counselor? You do recall that you recently quit a job that paid $96,000 a year, which is more than three times the average Humboldt County income, right? So honestly–how sorry for you do you expect us to feel?

Ms. Burstiner, meanwhile, took local media to task for failing to describe the budget cuts that caused her to be furloughed three days a month as “tragic.” Well, professor, one person’s “tragedy” is another’s balanced budget. If you’re teaching your journalism students to insert this kind of opinion into the news stories they write, maybe your three-day furlough should be described as “inadequate” instead.

So Jeff and Marcy, this Douchebaggy’s for you!

Well that’s it for now. Stay tuned for the next installment of This Week in Stupid. Send your nominations to

Police chief denies spousal rape accusation, says two were never married

The embattled chief of the Blue Lake Police Department issued a strongly worded statement Sunday night stating that he is “completely innocent” of spousal rape because he is not married to the woman he drugged and sexually assaulted.

David Gundersen, 53, was arrested Friday in McKinleyville on suspicion of drugging and raping a woman identified only as his “wife,” who is said to be a Blue Lake police sergeant.

In Gundersen’s first public statement, he wrote, “I have every confidence that I will be vindicated of these baseless charges, and I challenge those who now seek to smear my name to produce a single shred of proof that I am in any way ‘married’ to the woman I raped.”

Gundersen went on to say that “concealed beneath” the rape accusations is an “elaborately orchestrated plan” to prove a violation of the department’s policy prohibiting nepotism.

“I am fully cognizant of the seriousness of that claim,” he wrote, “and am prepared to provide clear and convincing proof that I am completely innocent of improperly hiring and promoting anyone.”

Reached by phone late Saturday, Jeffrey Schwartz, Gundersen’s defense attorney and part-time Sizzler hostess, said allegations such as this are not uncommon in a small town.

“We don’t have the luxury of six degrees of separation in a population this size,” Schwartz said. “It’s not uncommon to go around hiring, promoting and raping all kinds of people only to find out later that you’re actually married to them.”

But the former deputy district attorney said that in this case that simply didn’t occur. “I’d go so far as to bet a free trip through the salad bar that David is absolved of all charges,” he said.

Gundersen remained in custody on $500,000 bail.

North Coast residents celebrate jobless jump

Loser FestConfetti rained down on the Arcata Plaza yesterday in celebration of the nation’s double-digit hike in unemployment claims.

Unbathed vegans and dogs in neckerchiefs turned out in droves for the event, sponsored in part by the Humboldt Watershed Council.

“It’s a great day for the environment,” said Mark Lovelace, president of the council, as he kicked around a hacky sack with a small group of parolees.

“Look at all of these people not driving cars, not supporting big-box retailers, not adding to the strain on this nation’s dwindling oil reserves,” he said smiling.

“There’s no place they have to be, no paycheck to spend at national chains. In fact, their commitment to sustainability is such that most of them don’t even live in houses, which significantly limits the demands we make on our depleted forests.”

Financial analysts reported this week that jobless claims surged unexpectedly by an estimated 17 percent. Nationwide, more than 350,000 new claims were filed last week, marking the largest weekly increase in more than two years.

But Arcata resident Jeffrey Schwartz, who himself recently became unemployed, told the Humboldt Mirror that he considered himself “lucky,” and that there were no guarantees national joblessness would “trickle down” to other Humboldt County workers.

“We can make it impossible to build, we can regulate employers out of existence, but in the end all we really have is hope,” Schwartz said. “I hope we can continue sending high-paying jobs overseas.”

Other sponsors of the event included Humboldt Baykeeper and the Neely For Whatever campaign fund.