Thursday, September 06, 2007

This Week's Town Dandy

Hey, remember "term limits"? That was the quaint little theory proposed and approved by California voters back in 1990. The idea was that the business of government would be wrested from sharpies and placed in the hands of a new breed of "citizen-legislator." These wholesome, Jimmy Stewart-esque superhumans would rise from the tilled soil to reclaim Sacramento on behalf of good, honest, hard-working people. And after six or eight years of service, just as his replacement became ready for harvest, the "citizen-legislator" would gracefully dissolve into thin air.

That was the theory, anyway. Things turned out a bit differently in practice. Last year, Tamara Keith of National Public Radio documented six separate cases in which a termed-out legislator sought to hand over his or her chair in the legislature to an immediate family member. And that was just in one election.

As anthropologists have long noted, here on the North Coast the Democratic Party apparatus serves as a ready substitute for flesh-and-blood kinship ties. The guillotine falls on Eureka's Assemblymember Patty Berg next year, but arrangements have already been made to pass her crown to former State Senator Wes Chesbro, who was termie-termed out of his seat in 2006. And Chesbro's seat, you'll recall, was given to Santa Rosa's Pat Wiggins, who was herself termie-termed from the Assembly in 2004.

You'll notice there's a wallflower at this waltz --Wiggins has the Senate seat locked up until 2014, denying Berg her patrimony. What's she to do? Well, it looks like homegirl is going for the big brass ring. That's right: She's going statewide. California Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi terms out in 2010, and the hard-smoking Berg believes she has her opening. To that end, she's put together a little somethin'-somethin' called "Patty Berg for Insurance Commissioner," coming soon to a fundraiser near you.

The election may be three years away, but you've gotta start early if you want to muscle aside potential competitors. They may not be from the North Coast, and would therefore have limited understanding of the way public offices are traditionally inherited. Berg's war chest is looking pretty good right now, all things considered. In the first half of 2007, she's collected over $42,000, most of it in $500-$1,000 chunks from various medical groups and associations. (No dollars from any insurance companies yet.) Once she becomes the presumptive nominee, that small trickle of cash will come to dwarf the mighty Eel.

But Berg is out in 2008, unless a term-limit-busting measure making the rounds actually qualifies for the February ballot and passes. What's Berg going to do between 2008 and 2010? Here's a suggestion: How about the California Integrated Waste Management Board, a meat locker used by the powers-that-be in Sacramento to store politicos in transition. A seat on the board pays about $120,000 a year. Chesbro's not going to need his much longer.

Closer to the horizon: The campaigns that are seeking to shift or maintain the balance of power on the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District have all come sputtering to life, only two months before the Nov. 6 election date. The issue is port development, and the idea that Humboldt Bay could be rebuilt as a container shipping facility and a waypoint on U.S. trade with Asia. The project faces massive, monstrously expensive hurdles, but the pro-port people (in this race, the two incumbents) have every faith those hurdles can be overcome. The anti-port faction -- or the "pro-reality" faction, as some of them like to say -- think that there's better things to do with our money and time.

Second District (Fortuna to SoHum) challenger Carlos Quilez was first out of the gate, with a press conference on the Eureka Boardwalk last Wednesday. Quilez pumped his credentials -- sport fisherman, Army veteran, retired California State University administrator. He played up his endorsements -- Humboldt-Del Norte Central Labor Council, Operating Engineers Local No. 3. He spoke of his vision -- "good stewardship for our resources and fiscal responsibility."

Meanwhile, across the aisle and on the other side of the county, the campaign apparatus of McKinleyville incumbent Charles Ollivier exited the gate strong, with a press release touting his endorsements -- Congressman Mike Thompson, three of the five county supervisors, three of the sitting Harbor District members, businessmen, union members, a tribal member, various McKinleyville-area elected officials. The press release didn't shrink from Ollivier's raison d'être as a district commissioner: the development of Humboldt Bay's shipping facilities, and the return of the long-dormant railroad line (see "The Squeeze," July 5).

Not much yet from Ollivier's challenger, fisheries biologist Pat Higgins, or from the incumbent Quilez is challenging, Fortuna's Roy Curless. Unless they pick up the pace soon, it could be a one-sided race in each of the districts. If the challengers gain only one seat, they'd still be left with the butt end of a 3-2 majority...
Read the rest


  1. This column contains the most embarrassing error of my entire career. Can you spot it?

  2. The current Insurance Commissioner is Steve Poizner. Doesn't affect your point, however. :)

  3. John Garamendi 1991–1995
    Chuck Quackenbush 1995–2000
    J. Clark Kelso July 10, 2000–September 17, 2000
    Harry W. Low 2000–2003[1]
    John Garamendi 2003– 2007
    Steve Poizner January 8, 2007–present

    Chuck Quackenbush is the one who interests me - I believe if anyone cared to pursue it, Gallegos has a Quackenbush problem.


  5. Yeah 8:11 - all the discussion about that one is at heraldo's - and there's some speculation that it could end up here, were Larry to press charges and it end up going to the DA - where Paul, it is speculated would be expected to hand it over to the AG since Arkley was a MAJOR contributor to his first campaign - about $17,000, if I remember correctly.

    Paul didn't hand Bowman over to the AG - when he got ten grand from 'the tribe' via Bowman's father... no he went ahead and gathered up and dismissed nine felonies in that case (denies he had anything to do with it) - and he hasn't handed Cheri Moore over to the AG despite the conflicts of interest there, and he went ahead and took on and then pled out Kesser despite some interesting conflicts there as well... so we'll see.

  6. Rose: There was one case that Gallegos gave to the AG, wasn't there? I'm sure there was, but I'm racking my brains to remember which.

  7. "it could end up here, were Larry to press charges and it end up going to the DA "

    I'm curious as to where the Baykeeper falls into this tight little criteria?

  8. He also should have handed over the case of Russ Clanton Sr.

  9. isn't the big cheese on regional water? either way it's a crime

  10. Hah! If it was a snake it woulda bit me... yeah, forgot all about that one...

  11. Quite sure that Salzman is enjoying the Arkley story this evening...

  12. Funny thing is, Salzman didn't need any help destroying himself. When he got in trouble, it was his own doing - and then trying to lie his way out of it - that got him.

  13. Your most embarrassing error? Really?

  14. greg - you really are an ass!

    Hank - don't care about the Garamendi mention instead of Poisner. Your column was right on and very very funny. rotflol

  15. Thanks anon! Actually, I'm spelled Gregg.

    For the record, I know Hank and think he's a great writer. That was my attempt at humor.

    I might still be an ass, though.

  16. Rose: If Glass really is intent on pursuing that one incident, then he is really dumber than all hell and should get out of politics. First of all, the criminal justice system in this county is a mess. Not enough cops to even come out to your house after a burglary...they send you a self report in the mail. The DA’s office so screwed up that the Monday trial calendar is one dismissal after another. People previously convicted of first degree premeditated murder, pled down to a lesser charge. No - if Glass can’t take this...he is a major weenie. And nobody gets tried for sexual assault, domestic violence or child abuse anymore.

    But....maybe he is a major weenie and we should expect him to play drama queen.

  17. The embarrassment hanging over the incident is much more detrimental to Arkley than throwing him into a courtroom.He has enough cash to take on cases like this every day if he needed to.Larry and the anti-Arkleys can make much more out of the situation by keeping it out of courts.But,like I said on Heraldo's blog,that in the manner of being "fair and balanced" Glenn Franco Simmons needs to file a request and ensure that Garr Nielson confiscate Arkley's computers to investigate who he has paid to follow Larry.That issue is much larger than the pushing and shoving.

  18. I guess it will be interesting. Funny how people jump up and down about this, but don't care about the much more serious issues - the plea bargains, rapists and child molesters getting deals, losing grant money that funds programs that help victims, that kind of thing.

    I actually like Larry Glass, but his getting in bed with Salzman/CREG has some consequences. He oughtta be smarter than that, and from his interview, it sounds like he had already come to that realization.

    It'll also be interesting to see if he recuses himself on Marina Center votes given this and his past participation in CREG/anti Marina Center activities.

  19. Frankly, mresquan, I don't think the investigation of Salzman went far enough.

  20. Gregg: Pretty damned embarrassing! I can't think of anything that tops it offhand. Perhaps someone will refresh my memory.

  21. Konkler wrote:

    "in the manner of being "fair and balanced" Glenn Franco Simmons needs to file a request and ensure that Garr Nielson confiscate Arkley's computers to investigate who he has paid to follow Larry.That issue is much larger than the pushing and shoving.

    Uh...that is not up to Glenn...that would be up to a judge Mark. Cops just don't get to sieze people's computers. There would have to be a warrant signed by a judge establishing probable cause that a crime was committed and (hate to tell you this buddy but if you don't know it by now, why bitch about warrantless wiretaps) even if he has paid someone to follow Glass (personally, I think that one is Larry's paranoia) having a private investigator do that IS NOT A CRIME...IT IS DONE ALL OF THE TIME.

    What is wrong with you Mark?

  22. I doubt that it's the same scenario when dealing with a publicly elected official.I have a hard time believing I'd walk away without any trouble if I paid someone to stalk George Bush.

  23. Well then, you are just going to have to have a hard time believing Mark. It actually is the reverse when dealing with a "publicly elected official." In fact, Mark, THEY HAVE TO HAVE THICKER SKINS THAN THE REST OF US PRIVATE PERSONS.

    That has been the law for so many years its funny that you don't know it.

  24. California Penal Code Section 71

    Every person who, with intent to cause, attempts to cause, or causes, any officer or employee of any public or private educational institution or any public officer or employee to do, or refrain from doing, any act in the performance of his duties, by means of a threat, directly communicated to such person, to inflict an unlawful injury upon any person or property, and it reasonably appears to the recipient of the threat that such threat could be carried out, is guilty of a public offense punishable as follows:

    (1) Upon a first conviction, such person is punishable by a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by imprisonment in the state prison, or in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by both such fine and imprisonment.

    (2) If such person has been previously convicted of a violation of this section, such previous conviction shall be charged in the accusatory pleading, and if such previous conviction is found to be true by the jury, upon a jury trial, or by the court, upon a court trial, or is admitted by the defendant, he is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison.

    As used in this section, “directly communicated” includes, but is not limited to, a communication to the recipient of the threat by telephone, telegraph, or letter.

  25. 3:54 - your point. Please don't say the letter of the law....try the reality of the law which would have the jurors throwing knives at Glass if they made them miss a week's pay for this bullshit.

    Hey are you Schwartz 3:54...and finally blogging on your own time instead of the county's time?

    And all on a he said vs he said...if you are schwartz you are dumber than a rock!

  26. Funny where people's priorities are - all excited about Arkley and Glass, but not about, say, a $10,000 donation and nine felonies being dismissed, or about a campaign supporter being allowed in the DA's office to draft a lawsuit against his longstanding target... all upset about criminals like Cotton and Peters, but no sympathy for the woman who was tied to a tree and raped for days.... it boggles the mind.

  27. IMHO - Unless things get really screwy between now and the next election, this incident has just secured Larry another four years on the Eureka City Council, an unexpected and probably unwelcome outcome to some major players in this community.

  28. this is such nothing bull shit- a hundred time a week some drunk talkes trash and some num-nuts pushes the point---nothing happens and life goes on--- glass is acting like a sissy----arkley a jerk

  29. Rose, I really couldn't care less that Arkley pushed Larry. The real issue is that Glass was threatened with retaliation if he did not vote a particular way. What if someone had threatened a judge in the same manner? Would you not think that was an important issue? Do you think that this is acceptable behavior in a democracy?

  30. I think that is a serious issue. I'll be interested to see what happens. So far I have only heard one side of the story, and then a cacophony of gotchas.

    But, yes, I think that is serious - and since you brought it up - I also thought it was serious what Stoen and Gallegos tried to do to Judge Wilson, remember that?

    Did anyone care? No? Why? Because that was for a "good cause"?

    I also - for the record, think what Gallegos did to Eric Schatz was far more serious - releasing videotaped evidence and allowing the activists to take it out of court, edit it to suit their purposes, reproduce it and smear it all over the internet, where it sits to this day. It's somthing we haven't covered yet, but what would be your position on either of those two things?

    See - I'm kinda feeling like we oughtta do first things first... and I also find it quite interesting that there were no attacks on Arkley when he was giving all that money to Paul. What happened? Is it that he stopped giving?

  31. Larry is NOT a judge or a witness. He is a goddamn politician and if he can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen...for christsakes!

  32. If Arkley should get punished for anything it's for helping PVG get into office in the first place. I am not and have never EVER been a Farmer fan but he was a shitload better than PVG.


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