Thursday, May 31, 2007

Now he's "updating" the use of force policy

County keeps safety on DA rifle request
After the meeting (between Gallegos, his Chief Investigator Mike Hislop, Assistant District Attorney Wes Keat, Assistant County Counsel Wendy Chaitin and Risk Manager Kim Kerr) Wednesday, Hislop delivered a copy of the district attorney's use of force policy to the Times-Standard. The paper had asked Gallegos for the policy through a California Public Records Act request on May 18, after Gallegos said the document was not public and refused to turn over a copy.

Gallegos said in an e-mail that he forwarded the request to Hislop, who was on vacation last week.

Hislop said he receive the paper's request on his Blackberry on the way back from Baja California. Hislop said he had already finished working on the policy before the Times-Standard requested it, and has since given it to county counsel for analysis.
”This is still under review,” Hislop said.

Bringing policies up to date 06/01/2007 The Times-Standard
The office of the Humboldt County district attorney made public its “use of force” policy this week, after initially claiming it was not a public document. It was a good decision. Such a policy provides guidelines for use of force to reduce indecision in a crisis situation. Plus, as the California Peace Officers' Association says, it helps create public confidence in law enforcement.

We also feel a sense of assurance that the county, before giving its approval for the district attorney to buy investigators eight AR-15 assault rifles, is asking for an updating and modernization of the use of force policy, and that Chief Investigator Mike Hislop is planning to ramp up weapons training for his people from once a year to four times a year.

The rationale for making sure that investigators have state-of-the-art equipment, including weapons, is sound. In a county such as ours, with a lot of wild remote corners hiding Mexican cartel pot farms and meth labs, officers should be ready for surprises.

But it's important that, in its policy update, the district attorney's office view its role as investigators and not enforcers. They're not Lone Rangers, and have plenty of trained backup to support them.

Comments at TS

But the Times Standard did not print the policy?

Further UPDATE:
On Thursday, I received a call from Gallegos' Chief Investigator, Mike Hislop. He asked about the Public Records Act Request (CAST), if I had gotten what I asked for. I said no, and explained that I had gotten 2/3 of one of the 6 items on the list, and that it looked like I was going to have to resubmit it, since it doesn't seem to me that meeting agendas, minutes and attendance sheets are "evidenciary" in nature, among other things. He seemed to agree. The end result of the conversation was promising. Perhaps there is a possibility that the DA's Office will comply with the request and put an end to the game-playing. I will keep you 'updated.'

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Which rules do you play by?

When it comes to his proposed subdivision in Manila, it looks like Scott Riley has done everything right, played by the rules, and should have expected smooth sailing. He worked with an architect, worked with County staff to work out a PUD, a Planned Unit Development that designates wetlands, provides open space, stays within the density allowed by zoning ordinances, and he went beyond that to include building "green," with photovoltaic shingles, low-e glazing, thermal mass, recycled materials, and more. And. as you can see by the model above, the homes are designed to fit into the beach environment.

He's gone through the process, jumped through the hurdles, and his project is now - or was - before the Planning Commission. County staff had a favorable recommendation. But Reggae on the River took up the bulk of the May 3rd meeting, and so his project was ordered continued until June 7th.

So what happened between that meeting and now?

Riley has now been told that his project will not be heard on June 7th, and that: "Per Kirk Girard: We need to meet with the applicant and, if he agrees, his agent, Jesse and design consultant, John Ash. The Planning Commission will NOT approve the project as designed and neither will The Coastal Commission."


Who decided that? And when?

Wouldn't there be Brown Act violations if there was some sort of back-door meeting or negotiation, held out of the view of the public on a project that is already part of a public process?

The email trails show not a meeting, and not the Planning Commissioners, but correspondence (initiated May 14, AFTER the Planning Commission meeting) between John Woolley, Michael Fennel, and county staff.

Coastal resources?

An act to add Section 31410 to the Public Resources Code, relating
to coastal resources. INTRODUCED BY Assembly Member Berg
AB 1568, as introduced, Berg. Coastal resources: Ma-le'l Dunes.

Existing law requires the State Coastal Conservancy to coordinate the development of the California Coastal Trail.

This bill would designate the portion of the Ma-le'l Dunes in Humboldt County that is part of the California Coastal Trail and that is under the jurisdiction of the conservancy as the Senator Wesley Chesbro Coastal Trail. The bill would require the conservancy to erect appropriate signage to reflect the designation and to cause all directories and other publications concerning the California Coastal Trail to reflect the designation as the publications are periodically revised.

Chesbro trail
The Times-Standard Article Launched: 06/13/2007 04:15:13 AM PDT
The state Senate Natural Resources Committee passed a bill Tuesday that would designate a part of the Ma-le'l Dunes as the “Sen. Wesley Chesbro Coastal Trail.”

The Ma-le'l Dunes, located west of Arcata, are part of the coastal dune system of the north and south spit of Humboldt Bay.

Chesbro represented the North Coast region in the state Senate from 1998 to 2006. He authored legislation to direct the State Coastal Conservancy to develop a California Coastal Trail action plan to be completed by 2008. Chesbro currently serves on the Integrated Waste Management Board

He previously was a Humboldt County supervisor and an Arcata City councilman. Chesbro has been a resident of Humboldt County for 28 years.

Assembly Bill 1568 now goes to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Seems that our Senators would have something better to do with their time.

Chesbro Trail bill passes in Senate
Bill for Chesbro Dune Trail sent to governor

Monday, May 28, 2007

News from Venezuela on the closing of Radio Caracas Televisión (RCTV)

From Daniel in Venezuela
(KEEP CHECKING IN -HE UPDATES REGULARLY. Link is in the sidebar under blogs)

To close yet another exhausting day (and it is not over) I thought abut putting as it the Veneconomy editorial. To understand some of the reasons that push people to protest you could do worse than read this editorial (outside Globovision there are people protesting in their favor, in Valencia there were injured students and tomorrow we expect more campuses to join in, while Chavez is nowhere to be seen, his usual coward self)
--- --- --- --- --- --- ---
To the accompaniment of alarms, pot-banging and protests by the vast majority of Venezuelans, the government brought down the curtain on Radio Caracas Televisión (RCTV) at midnight on Sunday, so perpetrating the worst confiscation of the freedom of expression by any government ever in Venezuela and perhaps in Latin America in the last 35 years.
Read the rest
More: Silent Airwaves - The End
Countdown to RCTV closing
Podcast - Venezuela: the closing of RCTV
...Takes an hour - Venezuela: the closing of RCTV - Current Events - May 26 - Chavez closes Venezuela's largest TV station

Update: 5/30/07
So it is like that: Chavez won in December 2006 with 63% of the vote and today half of the country was out of order, and the other half barely coping. The love fest that should have happened as of December 4, usually called a political honey moon, fizzled in a very few days and since late December the tensions have increased to the point that Chavez today is openly threatening Globovision with closing. And, make this very clear in your minds, he has only himself to blame. I do not know whether he means it as he claims he meant it in 2002 so he could purge the army and PDVSA, but it certainly looks like quite a mess today. One thing is certain if purges are the objective again: his targets are the media and closing freedom of expression, the last obstacle for absolute control of the country until kingdom comes (whichever kingdom comes first)

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Hysterical! (with links)

It really has been a funny week, capped off today with Richard Salzman's latest "My Word." He's complaining about "professional spin doctors ... repeating ... worn-out arguments" being hired to "badger county government and bamboozle the public..." He talks of "another front group ... shedding crocodile tears.." And he asks "Where will (fill in the blank's) concern for our community be the day after (the) paychecks stop coming in? Will (fill in the blank) ... just go on to (fill in the blank's) next lucrative public relations campaign?"

Hysterical! Like so many of his others, you just have to try reading it, but substitute his name everywhere he says "Kay Backer."

Funny - it just sounded so FAMILIAR! somehow -
You know that first line? How often is the Times-Standard going to subject its readers to the repeated rants of...

Well, then there's his previous rant against Backer. Is it identical? Virtually?
HELP is of no help to Humboldt
My Word by Richard Salzman
Article Launched: 04/13/2006 04:27:25 AM PDT

In response to Kay Backer's My Word of March 22, “Getting Humboldt leaders to lead”: Kay Backer is a paid professional spin doctor from Sacramento. Hired by local developers, she is paid to badger county government and bamboozle the public. She feigns concern for our families by shedding crocodile tears about so-called affordable housing here in Humboldt County....

So - How long are we going to be subjected to the repeated rants of...Richard Salzman?

Friday, May 25, 2007

Enough secrecy in the DA's office!

I couldn't agree more.

Enough secrecy in the DA's office
The Times-Standard Editorial Article Launched: 05/25/2007 04:29:32 AM PDT

The chief prosecutor of Humboldt County has us scratching our heads with his waffling over making his office's “use of force” policy available to the public.

The issue arose when District Attorney Paul Gallegos and his new investigator, former Eureka police Sgt. Mike Hislop, proposed to beef up their firepower with the purchase of eight AR-15 semiautomatic rifles. This triggered questions from Loretta Nicklaus, Humboldt County's administrative officer, who wondered whether the DA had the need, training and policies in place for such an arsenal -- a use of force policy, in particular.

While working on a story about the new weapons, two Times-Standard reporters sought a copy of the DA's policy. Gallegos initially said he would get them a copy, then changed his mind and wouldn't even let them view the document. The Times-Standard then made a formal request a week ago under the state Public Records Act. Gallegos has 10 days to release the use of force policy, or to explain his legal reasons for withholding it.

Since then, Gallegos has offered these comments about the issue, via e-mail:

* “I never said that the information was not available under the Freedom of Information Act. Quite the contrary, I informed you that our use of force policy is not a public record.” To throw around some legal Latin, that's a non sequitur. A FOIA request is the federal equivalent of the California Public Records Act, and is a tool used to pry PUBLIC records out of reluctant PUBLIC officials.

* “I have some reluctance to make use of force policies public information . . . especially when there is no claim that anyone (in the DA's office) has unlawfully used force.”

That has no bearing on whether a policy is public or not. But perhaps Gallegos and his team are being overly sensitive to community polarization about four shooting deaths involving Eureka police officers, going back to Cheri Lyn Moore more than a year ago. DA investigations and findings on three of those deaths are pending, including Moore's.

* “I also informed you that, if you heard from others that (our use of force policy is a public record), to let me know and I would consider others' determinations.”

The Eureka Police Department and the county sheriff's department say their use of force policies are open to the public, as does the DA in San Diego County. So do two open-records experts we checked with -- attorneys who said the law is clear: The public not only has a right to view use of force policies, but to receive copies.

Also, the California Peace Officers' Association says such policies are important in creating public confidence in law enforcement. To do that, of course, the public must know what the policy is.

We have to wonder: Why all this bobbing and weaving, especially by somebody who should know the law? If the DA's office has a use of force policy, let's see it. If it does not, then it should 'fess up and create one (the California Peace Officers' Association has a sample you can adapt). Then put it online, so everyone can see it. That should free up time to produce the long-overdue report on Moore's death.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Round Two

A little over a year ago, on April 3, 2006, I filed a Public Records Act Request with the DA's office relating to Grants. On April 14th the DA's Office invoked it's right to a 14 day extension. On May 4th, the DA's Office attempted to limit the information releases, citing "pending litigation" as justification. Believing that justification to be incorrect, I filed a second demand, cc'ing the media. The next day, Richard Hendry from County Counsel's Office, notified me that the information I had requested was ready, told me where i could go to pick it up and how much it would cost.

In the course of "watching paul" I have learned quite a bit about Public Records Act Requests. Whenever I have filed a request with a governmental or granting agency, the requests are handled with remarkable professionalism. First, there is an immediate email response letting me know that they have received the request, telling me who would be handling it (with contact information), letting me know when they would have the information, and, in the event that they needed additional time, there would be a timely email letting me know. On a few occasions, there would be follow up phone calls to further clarify what I was looking for.

Fast forward to today, with the Public Records Act Request regarding the CAST statistics from Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos, I have received NO acknowledgement of receipt of the request. NO information was provided on the date it was due. NO request for additional time. NO notice that the information requested had been sent out.

Thus it was a surprise to receive a packet from Humboldt County Counsel Richard Hendry.

The packet inside states that he is responding on behalf of the District Attorney's Office, and it is dated May 18th, 2007. But, the packet is postmarked May 22nd.

So, it would seem that an apology of sorts would be in order.

BUT. Gallegos has once again refused to release information that is requested.

Among other things, Hendry, writing on behalf of Gallegos, claims that the attendance/sign in sheets for CAST meetings do not have to be released because they are investigatory in nature. That the agendas and minutes of CAST meetings do not have to be released because they are investigatory in nature.

Quote: The District Attorney's Office has determined that, to the extent this request seeks the disclosure of records of investigatory files, those records are completely exempt from disclosure under Government code Section 6254(f), which includes District Attorney case files [Rivero v Superior Court (1997) 54 CalApp.4th 1048], and continues to apply even if the investigation is closed [Williams v Superior Court (1993) 5 Cal.App.4th 337]. The exemption for the records of law enforcement agencies contained in Government Code section 6254(f) has been broadly interpreted [Los Angleles Police Dept. v. Superior Court (1977) 65 Cal. App.3d 661; Northern Cal. Police Practices Project v. Craig (1979) 90 Cal.App.3d 116].

The District Attorney's Office has also determined that this request seeks records that are exempt from disclosure under Government Code section 6254(k), in that it pertains to records the disclosure of which is exempted or prohibited pursuant to state law, including provisions of the Evidence Code relating to privilege. This request seeks records pertaining to the identification, investigation, prevention and treatment of child abuse, and are thus records concerning juveniles protected from disclosure pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code section 827 [see, In re Keisha T (1995) 38 Cal. App.4th 220] This is so even when a juvenile dependency petition had not been filed; if a child has either suffered or would likely suffer serious neglect or abuse, the disclosure of records is within the sole jurisdiction of the juvenile court, and not available for disclosure absent an Order of the juvenile court [In re Elijah S. (2005) 125 Cal. App.4th 1532] Accordingly, there are no records to disclose in response to this request.

You know - this is pretty silly. I'm not asking for case files. There was no request for any information relating to any juveniles.

That part of the request, pure and simple, was to see whether or not either Gallegos or Schwartz attend CAST meetings. and what have been the problems and concerns that the Advisory Board may have with the way that this multidisciplinary program is being administered by the DA's Office.

CAST - the Child Abuse Services Team - is a multi-disciplinary team comprised of various agencies like the law enforcement agencies (APD, EPD, FPD, etc), Child Welfare Services, The Rape Crisis Team, Mental Health, Probation Department, and individual Tribes, which originally came together in order to identify and help kids who may have been subject to sexual or physical abuse and neglect. The agencies are independent from each other, but share information and a common ground of trying to bring everyone to the table. Those agendas and minutes and attendance sheets are public information.

Again, I ask, what is there to hide?

Note: I have received requests from some reporters for copies of this packet and I am happy to comply.

I want to add that other participating agencies not only receive copies of the agendas and minutes, but they file and keep them. So to think that by refusing to disclose them they will never see the light of day is, really, bordering on insane.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

End of Day 6 (actually 16) - but word is spreading

Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday - Still no word from Gallegos. At this point it's fair to say he is refusing to comply with the law, refusing to provide Public Information under the Public Records Act. He has failed to follow the law.

But word is spreading:

Google Alert for: Paul Gallegos:
Follow up on failure to comply with Public Records Act Request By Rose(Rose)
To: Paul Gallegos Humboldt County District Attorney's Office 825 Fifth St. Eureka, CA 95501 My Public Records Act Request was dated May 8, 2007. By law, you had 10 calendar days in which to provide the ...
watchpaul -

Paying more for CAST

Remember Gallegos asked the Board to "Approve an advanced Step Placement for Deputy District Attorney IV, Jeffrey Schwartz, from Step A to Step E." BECAUSE "Mr. Schwartz has been handling felony and misdemeanor cases for the past 8 months and now is assigned to the Child Abuse Services Team. This entails working with high intensity cases, participating in child abuse interviews and contributing as a member of the Child Abuse Services Team."

Still waiting on that Public Records Act Request. At this point, Gallegos is breaking the law. C'mon, you don't have to rewrite the reports. Just print them. You know, or copy them. Make it so.

Gallegos' answers don't add up

New questions arise after Gallegos' answers about rifles

Asset forfeiture operations, investigations and gang and probation sweeps are among the explanations provided by Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos for his proposed purchase of eight AR-15 semiautomatic rifles, currently waylaid by county administrators over liability and conflict-of-interest concerns.

But some of these explanations have raised more questions than they’ve answered, including why DA investigators would need heavier firepower than other law enforcement officers participating in the same operations.

Officials said Humboldt County Gang Task Force members conduct gang sweeps armed with standard-issue sidearms, and probation officers participating in the same sweeps carry no firearms at all.

In his initial Feb. 14 request for supplemental funds from the asset forfeiture trust fund managed by the California Attorney General’s Office, Gallegos said the purchase of unspecified clothing, safety equipment, portable radios, bullet-proof vests, rifles, a gun safe and other miscellaneous equipment would “directly contribute to further seizures and forfeitures by enhancing the district attorney’s current and future forfeiture operations and investigations.”

On May 15, when he was asked by The Eureka Reporter in what capacity investigators would use the gear, Gallegos did not mention asset forfeiture and said instead, “For investigations.”

He was asked the same question in various forms by Arcata Eye Editor Kevin Hoover during a radio interview Thursday, broadcast live on KHUM-FM, and Gallegos responded that the items would be used in a number of contexts, including in sweeps conducted by the Humboldt County Gang Task Force.

“They wouldn’t be wearing this stuff … on their everyday duties,” Hoover said. “You don’t go out in the world with assault rifles and vests on, the full regalia.”

“They would wear it whenever they are out doing things like gang task force sweeps,” Gallegos said, “all those sorts of things that they have to do. So absolutely they would.”

In the course of the KHUM interview, Gallegos twice mentioned the gang task force, a multi-agency group that conducts an average of two sweeps each year, according to Eureka Police Capt. Murl Harpham.

The task force had not conducted a sweep since September, Harpham said, until Friday, the day after the interview took place.

A news release issued Saturday by the Eureka Police Department reported the participation of the DA’s Office, and Harpham confirmed Monday that one DA investigator was present.

But during the sweep, rifles, semiautomatic or otherwise, were reportedly not in use by anyone.

“EPD officers just used standard sidearms,” said EPD Public Information Officer Suzie Owsley, who went out with one of three teams during the sweep Friday. “I didn’t see anyone with a big gun.”

Brenda Godsey, public information officer for the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, said the deputies who participated in the gang sweep also used standard sidearms, in this case .40-caliber Glocks.

“Gang task force sweeps are just knock-and-talks,” Harpham said. “That’s usually how they go. We don’t do the high-profile arrests. If we had someone that was highly dangerous, we wouldn’t use the gang task force to go after them. We’d use SWAT or the (Humboldt County) Drug Task Force.”

HCDTF Commander Jack Nelsen confirmed Monday that the DA’s Office also participates on the more active and heavily armed drug task force, but Nelsen said only one DA investigator was involved.

In the KHUM interview, Gallegos also mentioned probation sweeps, but Humboldt County Probation Division Director Bill Damiano said his officers, who participate in both gang and probation sweeps, do not carry firearms.

“We have an arming policy,” Damiano said Tuesday, “but we currently do not have any officers who have applied and qualified to carry firearms.”

Gallegos has maintained that the purpose of the equipment is to ensure the safety of his investigators.

“Our officers have to be adequately armed,” he told Hoover. “The hope is that they would never have to use them, but that doesn’t mean you don’t arm them.”

All five members of the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors were questioned in an e-mail sent Thursday by The Eureka Reporter about whether they clearly understood from Gallegos’ original budget request that he planned to purchase semiautomatic rifles for each of his investigators and whether, knowing that now, they would support the expenditure of funds for this purpose.

Only 5th District Supervisor Jill Geist responded to the e-mail.

“The item on [the] consent calendar prepared and submitted by the district attorney and approved by the board was to authorize a supplemental transfer of funds for the purchase of safety-related equipment,” Geist wrote.

“The DA hired three investigators who needed supplies and safety gear, including firearms. The DA has sufficient funds to transfer from the Fixed Asset Account, and that action requires board approval. Our staff is responsible for processing requisitions, purchasing and ensuring that items authorized for purchase do not expose the county to unnecessary liability.

“While processing the requisition, a concern was raised due to the expansion of firearm (rifle) to include assault rifles. County staff is exercising due diligence in raising the question. The [County Administrative Officer] is scheduled to meet with the DA on the 30th of May to review the request and receive necessary clarifications.”

The second question Geist did not answer, stating that it presented a potential violation of the Ralph M. Brown Act, possibly because a response to it by all five supervisors could be construed as an informal, undisclosed meeting held by elected officials.

But there was little danger of that.

E-mail receipts indicate Supervisor John Woolley opened the e-mail Thursday morning, and Roger Rodoni opened it Monday afternoon. Jimmy Smith deleted it Monday morning without having opened it, and as of press time Tuesday, Board Chairperson Bonnie Neely has taken no action on the e-mail at all.

None of the four has responded to the questions.

Copyright (C) 2005, The Eureka Reporter. All rights reserved.


Gallegos has the Applegate trial -
ER - Children of slain man take the stand in his murder trial
ER - Surviving shooting victim takes stand in second day of murder trial
ER - Several witnesses testify during second day of attempted murder trial
and -
ER - Retrial for man accused in Orick woman's death moved back a month
and -
ER - Omholt returns to court Monday
and -
ER - Sentencing continued in statutory rape trial

5/30/07 More on Applegate:
ER - Sheriff's detective takes stand in murder trial

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Tell us again...

"...I hope the community now appreciates what a rare treasure we are blessed with in Paul Gallegos..." Jack McCurdy | May 31, 2006

"...from the American Bar Association Standards for Criminal Justice: “prosecutors should take care to avoid any relationships with the police that might cast doubt on the independence and integrity of the office of the prosecutor...” by Eric V. Kirk | Jun 4, 2006

What is there to hide?

How bad can those stats be? Can they possibly be worse than last year? When Paul Gallegos has had a YEAR to fix the problem?

5:11 PM on Tuesday, May 22nd. Still no response from Gallegos, who by law was required to comply with the Public Records Act request by last Friday, or ask for a 14 day extension if he could justify the delay.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Follow up on Paul Gallegos' failure to comply with Public Records Act Request with the fine print and updates

May 21, 2007

To: Paul Gallegos
Humboldt County District Attorney's Office
825 Fifth St.
Eureka, CA 95501

My Public Records Act Request was dated May 8, 2007. By law, you had
10 calendar days in which to provide the information requested (as shown below). Which means I should have been given the information no
later than Friday, May 18 (last Friday). Today is Monday, May 21,

I expect to hear from your office today and I expect the information by the close of business tomorrow. This is more than reasonable.

I will also add that I have copies of previous reports (DA Summary,
Interview Summary and Law Enforcement Summary), and I know
not only what the reports look like but what information should be
contained. These reports are routinely kept, they take moments to retrieve
and providing this information should be a simple matter of pushing 'print.' Therefore no delay is justified.

I await an email letting me know it is ready.

The fine print:
A. This is a request made under the California Public Records Act. [Government Code 6250-6277].

B. By law you have 10 calendar days in which to respond to this request. [Government Code 6253(c)].

C. The Public Records Act mandates that public records be open to inspection and that every person has a right to inspect any public record unless the record is specifically exempt from disclosure. Unless exempt, upon a request for a copy of records that "reasonably describes an identifiable record or records" you are required to make the records promptly available to any person upon payment of fees covering costs of duplication. [Government Code 6253].

D. In the event that there is any uncertainty as to the identity of any record sought, you are affirmatively required to assist the requesting party in better defining the request so that the records can be located and made available. [Government Code 6253.1].

E. You are required to justify in writing the withholding of any record. [Government Code 6253]. The burden of establishing an exemption is on the public agency. [Vallejos v. California Highway Patrol, 89 CA3d 781, 787 (1979)].

F. The Public Records Act does not limit access to a public record based upon the purpose for which the record is being requested, if the record is otherwise subject to disclosure. [Government Code 6257.5].

G. Agencies are not permitted to delay or obstruct the inspection or copying of public records. The notification of denial of any request for records shall set forth the names and titles or positions of each person responsible for the denial. [Government Code 6253(d)].

H. If a reasonably segregable portion of a record is exempt by law from production, that portion shall be deleted and the balance of the record shall be provided for inspection. [Government Code 6253(a)].

I. The legislative policy behind the Public Records Act favors disclosure. [Berkeley Police Assn. v. City of Berkeley, 76 CA3d 931, 941 (1977)].

J. Any authorized fees will be paid to you on delivery, pursuant to an itemized invoice. BUT - Please note: These are to be billed out at 10 cents per page as per the County's fee structure - and NOT at 25 cents per page which is the County's fee for attorney's discovery. Billing this improperly will result in the county having to issue a refund check.

Monday, May 21 came and went with no word from the DA's Office.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

DA investigators assist Gang Task Force Parole/Probation Sweep

Saturday, May 19, 2007
Parole/Probation Sweep Conducted Friday Night

The Humboldt County Gang Task Force (HCGTF) conducted 15 probation and parole searches throughout the greater Eureka area on Friday night...Agencies that participated in the sweep included the: Eureka Police Department, California Highway Patrol, Humboldt County Sheriffs Office, Parole and Probation Departments, and the Humboldt County District Attorneys Office.

Gang task force sweep nets five arrests
But were they properly armed?

New questions arise after Gallegos' answers about rifles

Does he have a "Use of Force Policy"?

Concerns raised over DA investigator weapons

"He (Gallegos) said his office has a use of force policy, but refused to turn over a copy to the Times-Standard, saying it's not public record.

The Eureka Police Department and the Humboldt County Sheriff's Department said their use of force policies are public record. The EPD immediately faxed over a copy.

The San Diego County district attorney's office also said its use of force policy is public record."

I say when he does finally come up with one, you ought to google the terminology.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Ahhhh! Now I get it!

"When it (the Recall) was over, it was like, I can get to work. I've been working to do that, to get the office tuned and buffed. The first thing is to turn us into a team. I think we're getting there." Paul Gallegos

In other news: Humboldt County will receive $259,136 and Del Norte County $161,916 in Meth-fighting money. Should they get some matching polo shirts and Carhartt pants with AR-15s to keep up with the DA's office? Maybe a couple of matching Hummers? Or some bunker busters and a tank?

Every DA needs his own personal ASSAULT FORCE

Run! Shannon, Run! The DA's coming after all you vigilantes and anarchists. If you thought Gallegos' plagiarized My Word was bizarre, wait til you read this.

Has Paul Gallegos lost his mind? It's one thing to spend your grant money buying 'Blackberries' for your investigators, it's quite another thing to be setting up your own personal assault force.

I can't wait to see the spin on this one.

DA under fire over assault rifles

Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos is spending more than $18,000 for semiautomatic rifles — and county officials want to know why.

The request was made in a supplemental budget allocation approved March 6 by the Board of Supervisors for a general list of items commonly used by all law enforcement agencies.

Gallegos requested money from asset forfeiture funds to buy DA investigators “rifles,” “clothing,” “safety equipment” and other miscellaneous items, but several county officials expressed surprise when they learned that the money was intended for eight AR-15 assault rifles, body armor, tactical vests, 5,000 rounds of hollow-point ammunition and matching parkas, polo shirts and pants.

Information obtained by The Eureka Reporter under the California Public Records Act indicates that some of the money has already been spent, but funds for the AR-15s and a gun safe were held up by County Administrative Officer Loretta Nickolaus, who sent an e-mail letter to Gallegos questioning the need for the purchases.

The letter from Nickolaus, dated May 10, stated in part, “After quizzing my staff, I am concerned about why DA investigators want to arm themselves with automatic or semiautomatic assault rifles. I hear that (DA’s Office Chief Investigator) Mike Hislop said that they are interested in being part of the security plan and covering the second floor (of the Courthouse, where courtrooms are located). I have also heard that there is an interest in backing up (the Eureka Police Department) and even providing perimeter security.”

Nickolaus continued, “While having backup is usually a good thing, I think this may be outside their course and scope of work, as DA investigators. Plus, doesn’t it create a conflict if the DA investigators are at the scene of a standoff, hostage situation or whatever? How can you investigate something you were a part of?”

Purchase requisitions for the eight-person investigations unit included one 42-gun safe with an electronic lock and dehumidifier at $3,619.31, eight AR-15 semiautomatic rifles at $1,920 each, 10 boxes of .223-caliber hollow-point bullets at $198.50 a box, eight sets of body armor at $550 each, eight tactical vests at $100 each, 16 pairs of tan double-front Carhartt pants at $45 each, eight black parkas at $188 each, 16 “DA Investigator” patches for the parkas at $8 each, a sewing and tailoring charge for the parkas of $27.50, eight short-sleeved polo shirts at $34 each, eight long-sleeved polo shirts at $26 each and an embroidery and lettering charge for the shirts of $520.

But DA investigators may be all dressed up with nowhere to go.

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office’s Strategic Enforcement Team, a 14-member special weapons and tactics team equivalent, currently operates out of the first floor of the Humboldt County Courthouse, with the DA’s Office and its investigators located on the fourth floor of the same building.

Seven blocks away is the headquarters for the EPD’s 13-member SWAT Team, a unit supported by an additional 13 patrol rifle officers who are trained in and armed with augmented weaponry, according to EPD Public Information Officer Suzie Owsley.

EPD Chief Garr Nielsen said Tuesday his department had not entered into any agreement with the DA’s Office for SWAT support to the EPD.

“I had a discussion with Hislop, during which he informed me that he was in the process of equipping his investigators with tactical equipment and that they would be available to assist EPD if needed,” Nielsen stated via e-mail.

“(Hislop) specifically mentioned being able to help us out with some of our drug sweeps. We did not discuss nor agree upon them assuming a supporting role to EPD in SWAT situations. We currently have an agreement with the Sheriff’s Office to back each other up for SWAT. SWAT support entails training together regularly in addition to formal agreements and established protocols, none of which have we discussed with the District Attorney’s Office.”

Numerous law enforcement agencies within California were contacted and asked if their DA investigators were armed with tactical weaponry. Even in much larger jurisdictions, the answer was almost always no.

In Santa Clara County, for example, which boasts a population more than 10 times that of Humboldt County, Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Sgt. Ed Wise said he could not recall a single instance when a DA investigator participated in a tactical situation.

But Gallegos said DA investigators frequently have tactical weapons, and Tim Kiely, chief investigator for the Mendocino County DA’s Office, concurred.

Kiely said his office currently has two semiautomatic weapons, although they are in the process of selling them at the request of the DA. In an informal survey he conducted of approximately 25 counties, he said more than half the DA Offices that responded had semi- or fully automatic weapons.

Gallegos said he didn’t know who had heavy weapons and who didn’t, “but I know I have guys who are going out there, and I want to make sure they are adequately protected.”

Supervisor Jill Geist brought the motion in March to adopt the supplemental budget and reiterated Tuesday that all law enforcement personnel should be protected.

“That investigators have firearms is very common,” Geist said. “That they have adequate body protection is also very common and very appropriate. I think it’s the scale of it that we’re talking about here, the level of armament involved.

“The list of items caught us a little flat-footed, to say the least,” she said. “While (Gallegos) may assert this is very common, this is not something I’m familiar with.”

According to Kim Kerr, Humboldt County risk manager and deputy CAO, the paperwork has been processed for all of the items except the assault rifles and the safe. Some of the purchases may already have been received.

Kerr stated Tuesday, “As of now, the rifles and gun safe request is on hold until the District Attorney’s Office responds to (Nickolaus’) e-mail request for information. Depending upon the response, then there will be a determination to purchase the rifles and safe or not.”

Gallegos said he had not yet seen the May 10 e-mail from Nickolaus, but would look at it to see what concerns she may have.

In it, Nickolaus asked Gallegos, “Does the DA’s office have a use-of-force policy, and/or training programs or policies for any of this stuff? Would they be working out of class? There are many questions, and I need answers before I can approve these purchases.”

In his initial request, Gallegos said the expenses represented permissible uses of asset forfeiture trust funds, and if the request was not approved, his staff would “continue to face compromising health and safety risks when responding to criminal matters due to lack of proper equipment and communication mediums.”

Copyright (C) 2005, The Eureka Reporter. All rights reserved.

Humboldt County Board of Supervisors AGENDA March 6, 2007
Consent Calendar Item c-5
District Attorney
5. Supplemental Budget in District Attorney's Budget Unit 1100-205, in the amount of $58,462.00 and Establish Fixed Assets Accounts (Fund 3921 - Asset Forfeiture)
RECOMMENDATION: Approve the supplemental budget for the purchase of safety equipment, firearms, radios, cellular phones , evidence tracking system and supplies to be used in support of law enforcement purposes that may result in further seizures and forfeitures for our District Attorney Investigative and Prosecutor Staff.

6. Advance Step Appointment for Wayne Cox, Investigator (District Attorney)
RECOMMENDATION: Approve and Advance Step appointment for Wayne Cox, Investigator for the District Attorney's Office to Step E, Effective February 13, 2007

Other Blogs discuss:
DA's office requests hand grenades...
Eric - Gallegos wants guns
Fred - DA's Office Follows Vroman's Lead

New questions arise after Gallegos' answers about rifles

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

What is she saying here? The people are too stupid to have an opinion?

Old news, just part of the record - In this letter to the editor, one of Salzman's head Orks chastises the Eureka Reporter for asking whether or not Gallegos can adequately manage the DA's office, based on the Grand Jury's findings. (At least we can assume she actually wrote the letter herself)

She seems to be saying that the people are too stupid and uninformed to have an opinion on that. Pretty funny.

More than that, though, she actually says that only the people who work in that office are qualified to make that call.

So tell us again, Claire, why you didn't listen to the people who did work in that office? Why you allowed them to be demeaned and denigrated? Why you didn't stand up for the working people who had served this county so well?

What happens to people who do speak out, Claire? What happens to people who tell the truth about Gallegos? The spin machine goes into full attack mode. And you are part of it.

Reporter poll exploits grand jury recommendations 7/6/2005
Dear Editor,

As often happens, and is the case here, newspapers and the media enjoy a unique forum for probing the public’s opinions on diverse subjects, many of which are complex or obscure.

Your survey question regarding the District Attorney Gallegos’ ability to “adequately manage the DA’s office” is not one the general public is either knowledgeable about or capable of professionally evaluating.

Only those who have a direct working or a professional relationship with the administration of this office can make that determination.

One may support or oppose Mr. Gallegos’ principles and philosophies but have no knowledge of his effectiveness as a public administrator.

Fortunately, a free press is guaranteed the right to express editorial opinions; sidebar surveys seldom evince much light on public questions. It appears that this Eureka Reporter poll is exploiting the grand jury’s comments rather than engaging in journalism’s highest role: to enlighten the public.

Claire Courtney

TS - Grand Jury Findings and Recommendations
ER - 2004-05 Humboldt County Grand Jury Report 6/29/2005
TS - Grand jury issues scathing DA critique June 29, 2005
"However, the informed, well-organized, diligent leadership essential during difficult times is missing," the grand jury report said. "Operations are neither as efficient nor as effective as they must be."

McK Press - Grand Jury Report: D.A. guilty of 'weak leadership'
ER - 2004-05 Humboldt County grand jury releases its final report

The Grand Jury Report on the DA's office
The Grand Jury Report on CAST
TS - Gallegos responds to grand jury findings
CAST Response/Grand Jury Report

How many lawsuits does it take?

If you are a Palco worker who went to the "Free Public Workshop" (Bankruptcy 101: Understanding the Palco Chapter 11 Case) offered by the Crocodile Tears 'coalition' - I'm just curious - did anyone tell you about all the lawsuits the activists filed against Palco? No? Because it's time to 'move beyond that.' Now it is about 'healing' the wounds. But who inflicted the wounds? You know the answer.

Anyone who's lived here has experienced the steady drip, drip, drip of lawsuits, but never seen them all in one place, and probably never thought about how inter-related they all are. I'll bet "Humboldt Watershed Council" "President" never tells you about The Committee of Concerned Maxxam Shareholders (the "Committee.") (Or, in other words, the Rose Foundation.)

In May of 2000 "The Committee" * sent a letter to Maxxam's 'fellow' shareholders, declaring that they were "seeking your support because the Committee believes that Maxxam is a company in trouble." It appears they wanted to get their guys elected to the Board of Directors. And, as justification, they complained that "Maxxam is a company in trouble," and they delineated the reasons why. All those lawsuits, driving the company down. Never mentioning the source. I suppose if they were successful in gaining control of the company, all those lawsuits, and all those protests would have gone away.

"...Maxxam's Pacific Lumber subsidiary remains a focus of controversy and litigation:

-- Three pending lawsuits claim that Company logging operations have damaged neighboring property and property values; these suits seek unspecified monetary damages, and ask the court to enjoin certain future timber operations of the Company.

-- A wrongful death suit, filed in September, 1999, seeks unspecified damages based on allegations that Pacific Lumber's conduct and policies led to an incident in which an employee killed a young man by felling a tree on top of him.

-- The Sierra Club and the Environmental Protection Information Center ("EPIC") have sued to block logging on a piece of Company property that is surrounded on three sides by the newly created Headwaters Reserve, alleging the modifications in the plan did not receive appropriate environmental review.

-- On March 31, 1999, EPIC and Sierra Club sued to stop implementation of the Pacific Lumber Sustained Yield Plan ("SYP"), the Company's comprehensive plan for logging operations over the next 120 years, claiming that the plan violates both California's Environmental Quality Act and Endangered Species Act.

-- Also on March 31, 1999, Don Kegley and the United Steelworkers of America filed a separate lawsuit challenging the SYP on the grounds that it fails to provide for sustained timber production and harvesting over time. Additional information on this action is supplied below in the "Solicitation" section of this proxy statement.

-- EPIC and Sierra Club have also filed a Notice of Intent to Sue challenging the Company's Habitat Conservation Plan, on the grounds that it does not meet the requirements of the federal Endangered Species Act.

Eight lawsuits in 1999 alone?


Maxxam faces potential liabilities in two separate legal proceedings based on the failure and subsequent $1.6 billion bailout of United Savings Association of Texas, a savings and loan association that Maxxam is alleged to have controlled.

Maxxam and Charles Hurwitz, the Company's Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board, are respondents in an action brought by the Office of Thrift Supervision ("OTS"), an agency of the United States Department of the Treasury, seeking $821,000,000 in restitution. Maxxam has agreed to indemnify Mr. Hurwitz and several other respondents in this action, which could result in significant exposure for restitution and penalties. That case is being litigated before an administrative law judge, who is expected to rule later this year. No determination as to the merits of this case has been made at this time, and a final judgment will be determined in an appropriate administrative proceeding (In the Matter of United Savings Association of Texas).

In addition, Mr. Hurwitz is currently defending a lawsuit brought by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation ("FDIC"), "

They claimed that: "The Committee also believes that electing these independent candidates is important, given the Company's failure over the past year to capitalize on the so-called "Headwaters Agreement."

Under this Agreement, into which the Company entered on March 3, 1999, Maxxam received an extraordinary payment of $380 million in cash and property from the United States and the State of California, as payment for the sale of 5,600 acres of forest land owned by Pacific Lumber Company in northern California. But despite Maxxam's recognition of a $239 million gain in the Headwaters transaction, shareholders have seen relatively little benefit from the Headwaters Agreement. The Company reported significant operating losses and a relatively small amount of net income, and, approximately one year after consummation of the Headwaters Agreement, Maxxam stock price is where it was five years ago."

Gee, I wonder why?

They do not cop to - The "Rose Foundation's" apparent significant and aggressive role, again not acting as a passive donor, but acting, according to reports, as activists and lobbyists set on making Hurwitz guilty, and then using that to force the turnover of his land. The FDIC suit they caused to be brought about was recently characterized by they judge as the government acting like the mafia.

Going forward, as it was happening, it would have been nearly impossible to detect, each incident would be taken on its own merits, and seen as unrelated - kinda like Salzman's paving the way for Cotchett's new lawsuit, doesn't seem important, seems crazy to wonder what the hell is up with that - but looking back, there's a lot of pieces of the puzzle that need to be put together.

Copy of "The Committee's" Proxy Solicitiation posted on watchpaulARTICLES
Two more suits
HC - File suit, fail and repeat as needed in Hurwitz case

* Members of "the Committee" are The Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment (the "Rose Foundation") and the United Steelworkers of America ("USWA").
"In 1999, the Committee conducted an independent proxy solicitation on behalf of Mr. Mikva and another candidate and in favor of resolutions similar to the Cumulative Voting and Declassified Board Proposals being offered this year. In addition the Rose Foundation (a Committee member), along with Jill Ratner, its president, and Thomas W. Little, its executive director, were sponsors of a cumulative voting resolution similar to the one submitted this year by the As You Sow Foundation and John C. Harrington, who were also sponsors of that 1999 resolution. In 1998, Ms. Ratner and Mr. Little, along with the California Public Employees Retirement System ("CalPERS"), sponsored the Declassified Board Proposal that Brent Blackwelder has submitted for consideration by the shareholders this year. In 1997, Ms. Ratner, Mr. Little, and the As You Sow Foundation conducted an independent proxy solicitation on behalf of two other independent candidates for Common Director, as well as a shareholder resolution asking the Company to sell or trade its properties within the 60,000 acre Headwaters Forest area in northern California to a government agency or conservation organization for appropriate consideration"

Monday, May 14, 2007

This is sad.
After Russian police seized documents and computer servers from the Moscow headquarters of Educated Media Foundation (formerly Internews Russia) on April 18 in connection with a criminal investigation of its president, Manana Aslamazyan, the Russian nongovernmental organization announced it is suspending operations, according to an Internews news release.

More than 2,000 Russian journalists have written an open letter to President Vladimir Putin in support of Aslamazyan and Educated Media Foundation.

A hearing was scheduled for Thursday in the Golovinskii regional court of Moscow, according to the release.

Internews is a nonprofit organization headquartered in Arcata and with offices in 23 countries.

Its mission is to “improve access to information for people around the world by fostering independent media and promoting open communications policies in the public interest,” according to its Web site,

Copyright (C) 2005, The Eureka Reporter. All rights reserved.

Been about a year.

Supes mull grant application

The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors will consider a recommendation Tuesday to authorize the chairperson to execute a grant application for 2007-08 for the Victim Witness Assistance Program.

According to board documents, the Victim Witness Division of the District Attorney’s Office has been receiving funding from the state and federal government to provide services to victims of crimes since 1982.

The funding will allow for the continuation of services for an additional fiscal year. The Victim Witness Assistance Program provides support and crisis intervention to more than 2,000 residents per year, according to board documents.

It's a good thing someone cares about this important program.

ER - Interview Process Cuts Down On Trauma Of Children 5/6/04
Losing the Victim Witness Grant
ER - Board of Supervisors talks over grant denial for program 5/11/2005
ER - Gallegos says program is safe 5/15/2005
ER - Victim witness program funds sought by county 5/18/2005
TS - Proposed cuts to victims program delayed May 18, 2005
TS - My Word - DA leadership: The 8-step program May 24, 2005
County to fund Victim Witness Program The Eureka Reporter 6/8/2005

Humboldt County Board of Supervisors Meeting:
May 15 item c-5 (consent calendar)
District Attorney
5.  Grant Application for 2007-2008 - Grant Victim Witness Assistance Program
RECOMMENDATION: That the Board of Supervisors authorize the Chair to execute the Original Grant Proposal / Award Face Sheet and Certificate of Assurance of Compliance.

Friday, May 11, 2007

musings from Earth First... and more

From:  druelendil
Date: Mon Dec 15, 2003 5:43 pm
Subject: Has anyone thought about this

Why not get the Coastal Redwood (as a beginning) placed on the
endangered species list? This would make it illegal to harvest them.
As a next step we could get legislation passed to ban the manufacture,
sale and purchase of redwood products. A lawyer friend of mine has
looked into this for me, and he says it's totally doable under present
laws. He also says it would take years and dollars to bring it about,
so I'm not saying stop what we're already doing -- continue that in

I realize that this may already be happening. If so, who'se doing it?

Drew /|\

Turns out Drew wasn't far off:
Old growth bill
The state Legislature is considering a bill that would ban state purchases of old growth timber.
The bill, introduced by Assemblyman Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and sponsored by the advocacy group Environment California, would prevent state agencies and school districts from buying wood or wood products made from trees from ancient forests.

"Worldwide, only 20 percent of the world's ancient forests remain standing, and here in California less than 10 percent of our ancient forests remain," said Steinberg in a written statement.

A spokeswoman from Environment California said no one knows how much old-growth timber is purchased by the state each year.

The timber industry is lobbying heavily against the bill.

It is expected to come up for a vote soon in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

And who is "Environment California"?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Worth reading...

(Published April 22, 2001)

Fat of the land
Movement's prosperity comes at a high price (First of five parts)
By Tom Knudson
Sacramento Bee Staff Writer

As a grass-roots conservationist from Oregon, Jack Shipley looked forward to his visit to Washington, D.C., to promote a community-based forest management plan. But when he stepped into the national headquarters of The Wilderness Society, his excitement turned to unease.

"It was like a giant corporation," Shipley said. "Floor after floor after floor, just like Exxon or AT&T."

In San Francisco, Sierra Club board member Chad Hanson experienced a similar letdown when he showed up for a soiree at one of the city's finest hotels in 1997.

"Here I had just been elected to the largest grass-roots environmental group in the world and I am having martinis in the penthouse of the Westin St. Francis," said Hanson, an environmental activist from Pasadena. "What's wrong with this picture? It was surreal."

Soon, Hanson was calling the Sierra Club by a new name: Club Sierra.

Extravagance is not a trait normally linked with environmental groups. The movement's tradition leans toward simplicity, economy and living light on the land. But today, as record sums of money flow to environmental causes, prosperity is pushing tradition aside, and the millions of Americans who support environmental groups are footing the bill.

High-rise offices, ritzy hotels and martinis are but one sign of wider change. Rising executive salaries and fat Wall Street portfolios are another. So, too, is a costly reliance on fund-raising consultants for financial success.

Put the pieces together and you find a movement estranged from its past, one that has come to resemble the corporate world it often seeks to reform.

Although environmental organizations have accomplished many stirring and important victories over the years, today groups prosper while the land does not. Competition for money and members is keen. Litigation is a blood sport. Crisis, real or not, is a commodity. And slogans and sound bites masquerade as scientific fact.

"National environmental organizations, I fear, have grown away from the grass roots to mirror the foxes they had been chasing,"...
Read the rest: Fat of the land

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


May 8, 2007
To: Paul Gallegos
Humboldt County District Attorney's Office


Please provide the following:

1. The monthly CAST statistics kept by your office for January 1, 2006 through April 30, 2007 including but not limited to:

a. the CAST Interview Summary (a breakdown of interviews by gender, age, ethnicity, interview type, and referring agency.)

b. the CAST DA Summary containing the breakdown of interviews conducted, cases referred to the DA, cases filed by the DA, cases rejected by the DA, the dispositions of cases and whether they were felony or misdemeanors, whether there was a plea or jury trial, the breakdown in sentencing and whether probation or prison was imposed and the breakdown in length of time of sentences.

c. The CAST Law Enforcement summaries for January 1, 2006 through April 30, 2007, including but not limited to the numbers of interviews brought by each agency and cases submitted by each agency.

2. Case numbers of all child abuse/CAST cases filed by your office between January 1, 2006 and April 30, 2007

3. CAST interview sheets containing the names of all law enforcement and CAST personnel who attended each CAST interview between January 1, 2006 and April 30, 2007 with the understanding that no identifying information of any victim or the victim's family is being requested.

4. Sign in or attendance sheets for all CAST meetings held between January 1, 2006 and April 30, 2007

5. Copies of all minutes and agendas from all CAST advisory monthly meetings from January 2006 to present.

6. Copies of all minutes and agendas from all CAST executive board meetings from January 2006 to present.

A. This is a request made under the California Public Records Act. [Government Code 6250-6277].

B. By law you have 10 calendar days in which to respond to this request. [Government Code 6253(c)].
A matter of priorities
ER - Former deputy DA speaks out
ER - Candidates spar over child abuse team
ER - DA's Office yet to respond to request for child abuse records
ER - CAST established with child victims in mind
ER - CAST needs support Gallegos is not providing

Monday, May 07, 2007

The Witch Hunt LETTERS collection & Dunes Forum notes

First there was a Letter to the Editor in the North Coast Journal:
On build-nothings
Whine, whine, whine!

In response to "Cutten run" ("Mailbox," Mar 15), those uptight respondents are what I call "I've got mine, but you can't have yours" hypocrites. No doubt they live in what was an undeveloped area at one time.

Every time a housing development is proposed, this self-righteous indignation raises its ugly head. I remember when a large dairy ranch - now Sunny Brae - was developed. Then Westwood Village, Sunset, Greenview, etc. They all had this same kind of public response. Get real!

More people want to come here, with them will come many positive things. Having big new development is the best way to build community. We had the 13th house built in Sunny Brae. I loved watching all the new people move in. And I still do like people.

The Humboldt County development process is very comprehensive, believe me. I am building 17 houses as a planned unit development in Manila, and nothing is left out of the planning. Mine is sustainable, green, efficient, healthy, beautiful, disaster-enhanced, low maintenance and recreational. Still there is much opposition as usual.

R.S. Riley, Manila

Then there was a letter from Fennel, apparently. I don't have that one yet, but will add it when I do.

And, Richard Salzman started exhorting the Orks to get involved.

Then, there was Hank Sims' commentary on the two letters, where he laid out the facts as opposed to the rhetoric. Discussed previously here and here

These letters are the result:

Letters to the editor, North Coast Journal
Battle of Manila

Why Hank Sims wants to adjudicate a serious development issue is beyond me ("Town Dandy" April 19) Since when does a column writer get between two letter writers and take sides? Mr. Sims went out of his way to make me look wrong, so let me respond to his findings.

Beach Pine trees: Is the NCJ advising coastal residents that it is legal to cut the coastal pine trees on areas of sensitive habitat? Mr. Riley cut 18 trees prior to filing his development plan. If it is ok to remove those, why does he need a special permit to remove the last two?

Sand dunes: I quoted Mr. Riley's own document to show that he is going to bulldoze 6,500 cubic yards of dunes. Mr. Sims defended him by saying they were restoring historic dunes on the property. This is pure fiction. the dunes are "natural now." Mr. Riley plans to disturb 100 percent of the vegetation, including the native dune plants that inhabit the property.

Density: Mr. Sims went to great length but didn't quite have the courage of his convictions to call me a hypocrite. Mr. Sims claimed that i built three homes on 3.7 acres and that is analogous to Riley's 17 homes on 3.4 acres. My parcels were each over 1 acre until the county asked me to separate the wetland area from two of the lots. Had I asked for 7 houses on my 3.7 acres, that would be analogous, although there are no dunes on my parcel either. And just for the record, I have built just one home, not three. Whose error of fact was that?
Michael Fennel, Manila


Sorry, NCJ, it was your call to jump into the middle of Manila's concerns regarding the Riley project, and now you complain that you are in the "tedious position of having to adjudicate their dispute." The Coastal Commission makes the ultimate decisions on any legal issues or requirements regarding the projects subject to the Coastal Act, not the Town Dandy, nor the planning department.

The California Coastal Commission was established by voter initiative in 1972 and was designed to give all Californians a voice in coastal development. It's mission was to protect, conserve, restore and enhance environmental and human based resources of the California coast and ocean for environmentally sustainable and prudent use by current and future generations.

The Coastal Act is most sensitive to adverse impacts if a project lies seaward of the first paved road. This is where the Riley project is located. The NCJ, I assume, has reviewed the Coastal Act and can render a fair judgement on the dispute which they are burdened with - specifically, Public Resources Code sections 30231 (Protection of Water Quality), 30235 (Geologic Stability), 30250 (New Development) and 30251 (Visual Resource Protection). IN addition, new tsunami standards are required that did not exist until recently.

All of us who are overwhelmed with coastal law will be relieved now that the NCJ has assumed the role as adjudicator between the community, developer and California State Coastal Commission. I am looking forward to the NCJ contributing its expertise and participating in the public process at the planning commission meeting on the Riley project.

John Rotter, Trinidad


Regarding Hank Sims column and the West Bay Dunes development proposal in Manila. Your facts are surprisingly incorrect.

First, regarding the pine trees. No, the property owner was not found guilty of cutting down mature beach pines, but whether or not the act of environmental destruction happened is unresolved. Witnesses and neighbors continue to disagree with the official findings.

Second, the sand. Perhaps plans call for the sand to be "moved" instead of "removed" but the essence of the argument remains the same. The building of 17 new homes on the property demands destruction of already existing dunes - an act impossible to environmentally justify.

Third - and this is where you were really off - Michael Fennel, my landlord, has not built three homes on his property as you stated. That lot began with a very nice trailer home already on it, and Michael's only built one new house so far. One, not three. He plans to build another next year which still adds up to fewer than you wrote. In any case, building one house on a slightly less than average sized lot adjacent to other standard sized lots is not equivalent to building 17 houses on 17 far less than average sized lots.

Finally, Michael Fennel is a thoughtful, kind man who has a vested interest in making Manila an ever better place to love. Unlike the West Bay Dunes development folks, he actually lives in the neighborhood - and walks his talk. Seeing him vilified in the Journal surprised and disappointed me. Your column was not only inaccurate, but unfair and insulting to Michael and all the other good people advocating for sensible development and land use in our neighborhood,

Jennifer Savage, Manila.

Ed reply: Though I have not met him, I have no doubt that Michael Fennel is a "thoughtful kind man" I also have no doubts that opponents of the proposed "West Bay Dunes" project being proposed by R. S. Riley care deeply for their neighborhood, and for the dune ecosystem surrounding it. The Journal has no position whatsoever on the Riley project. We have not studied the issue at all, save for what is required by our legal and moral responsibilities to correct potentially libelous or defamatory false statements of fact that have appeared in our letters to the editor section.

Unfortunately, the false statements (or strong implications) in Fennel's original letter ("Mailbox" April 5) are still false. Riley did cut 18 trees on his property prior to filing his development plan, but county code enforcement officers determined that it was legal for him to do so. The county prohibits "major vegetation removal" inside the Coastal Zone without a permit. Code enforcement visited the site, measured the trees cut by Riley and found that they did not meet the county's definition of "major vegetation." It's perfectly acceptable to deplore the cutting of the trees, it is not acceptable to imply that Riley broke the law when he did not.

John Rotter's informed legal analysis would be more persuasive if he actually cited relevant sections of law. Like much of Humboldt County's coastline, the area in question is covered by a local coastal program - a Coastal Commission approved plan that gives a local jurisdiction control over coastal development decisions. (See Public resources Code section 30519(a). The fact that the proposed development does indeed lie seaward of the first paved road gives opponents of the Riley project the right to appeal to the Coastal Commission (if the county ends up approving it), however, the Coastal Commission will evaluate the project based on its compliance with the local coastal program, not the Coastal Act.

It was my mistake to say that Michael Fennel "built three houses" in his own subdivision. I ran a correction last week, but I'll reprint it here: One house already existed, another house was built, another is planned. The point, of course, is that in his original letter, Fennel set out the half acre minimum parcel size as an absolute baseline standard for new development in the area; he did not mention that his own subdivision, undertaken just last year, contains two (not one) parcels of less than that size. It is true that the parcels proposed by the Riley subdivision are much smaller still, and that seems like perfectly justifiable grounds for opposition to the project. We would be remiss, however if we did not point out that the half acre minimum standard is somewhat negotiable, at least in the minds of some Manila residents.


Then, you have letters like this one to the Planning Commission:

Letter to the Humboldt County Planning Commission
April 23, 2007
From: Jerry Martien
Re: Coastal Development Permit, Planned Unit Development & Special Permit Application, ROBERT RILEY, applicant, File No. APN 400-131-05, 1521 Peninsula Drive, Manila
Dear Commissioners:

The proposed Riley subdivision in inappropriate to the site and the neighborhood, threatens the rural character of manila, and abuses the County's planning process. I urge you to deny the application.

Unlike some, I do not advocate shooting the applicant, but over the years I've noticed his talent for provoking this kind of negative response. Ever since he made the move from Section 8 landlord to developer, and purchased the old Shires house at 1521 Peninsula, he has been at odds with the neighborhood. He tried to close a traditional beach trail in order to make the parcel more saleable and since that failed he has come up with one subdivision plan after another, each worse than the last and less appropriate to the site and to south Peninsula Drive.

Not long ago, this dune-top stretch of Peninsula was characterized by a rented trailer, with all the features of rural slum living, and the applicant's large For Sale sign. The past few years have seen a number of building projects and renovations that are creating a thriving neighborhood. Each of these has been required to protect natural features and wetlands, and a project at the end of the road was even turned down because it failed to meet these requirements. All have had community input, both in public forums and private discussion. Not all of these meetings have been peaceful, but issues have been resolved and the quality of life -- including the protection of wild space, privacy, and quiet -- has been preserved.

The applicant, on the other hand, has chosen instead to talk to lawyers and to work against the community. His proposal to build seventeen residences of up to 4000 square feet where Mr. Shires' little house once stood is not in keeping with the rural character of Manila and this neighborhood, it does not respect the natural coastal landforms, nor its characteristic shore pine and coastal scrub, and it will drain the run-off of all these homes into its wetlands. It is simply too damn much.

When this is pointed out, the applicant portrays himself as a victim of persecution and declares that like Rob Arkley he's just another developer who believes Humboldt County needs more urban sprawl. This project could be Manila's own little Sunny Brae.

It is astonishing that a project of this magnitude, entirely inappropriate to its natural and social setting, should get this far. Here again, the applicant has taken a legalistic and adversarial approach to the planning process. Using measures designed to preserve natural values, donating to nature what is already natural and ought to remain so, he proposes to level dunes and fill dune hollows and call the result enhancement. By this letter of the law we could level everything up to the lines marked NR and reduce Manila to ten feet above sea level where we already locate our densest housing. Of course a development at that level would not be permitted. Like the shooting option, the strictly legal approach seems justified, but does not lead to a desirable outcome. I ask that you resist this approach to planning.

Please uphold the spirit of our coastal zoning laws, the values of the natural world, the character of the neighborhood, and the community of Manila.

Jerry Martien


Then, there are times when the wind blows the trees down...
exerpted from Dunes Forum February 8, 2006 Meeting Minutes:
...Storm Damage in the Dunes
...Andrea Pickart shared a brief power-point presentation showing the impact of the New Year’s Eve storm in the dunes. Wind events are the process that drives forest dynamics and blow down event bring about pulsed of pine and spruce regeneration in the dune forest. There was massive tree fall in the dune forest combined with heavy rains which exacerbated the effect. Some trees in the forest that went down were over 150 years old. There will be an article in the next issue of Dunesberry discussing the effects of the Storm. Andrea will be qualitatively monitoring the new gaps in the forest to see what comes up. If there grad students who were interested in a project, this would be a good opportunity for a project....

Andrea Pickart- Restoration is in full swing at Ma-le’l. CDF crews had to be setiched to doing trail clearing and removal of downed trees. They are having a strip flown (low flight at a low scale) from the north end of the spit down to Manila. Low flight at a low scale. (if Manla has money, they might possibly be interested in the flight). There is a topography map of Ma-le’l that will be available when the plan comes out. Tree fall in the dune forest also exposed some more ivy spots and made a mess of some areas...

Sometimes it is ok to bulldoze the dunes and fill in hollows...
Minutes from meeting held November 09, 2005
Carruthers Cove Dune Restoration Project

...European Beach grass removal with heavy equipment commenced this month at Carruthers Cove. The beach grass was dug out with an excavator and then reburied 3meters down and fresh, clean sand was then used to fill in the trenches and re-contour the landscape. This is a pilot project involving RNSP, DPR and other partners. The hope of this project is to remove beach grass on the north end and hold the south end. The southern portion of the project was at Osogan to Carruthers cove. The beach grass was removed around the endangered Abronia. There were two federally endangered species that were impacted by this project, Abronia umbellata ssp. breviflora, and the western snowy plover. Also in the project area was Layia carnosa and the tidewater gobi. The permitting for this project was extremely laborious (CEQA, T&E consultation, coastal commission and coastal conservancy). The project was timed to be outside the breeding season for the snowy plover, also the heavy equipment operators were busy doing watershed restoration until after the first rains. It has been observed that once the winds are over 30 miles per hours, the wind will whisk the dune grass rhizomes about and the project becomes less efficient...
Arcata Eye A high-density cluster dumped on Manila’s dunes Jennifer Savage: – May 8, 2007
Times Standard Dozens decry Manila proposal: Opponents of 17-unit development getting organized James Faulk 04/12/2007
Minutes: Planning Commission

4. ROBERT RILEY, Manila Area (1521 Peninsula Dr.): a Major Subdivision to divide an approximate 8.5 acre parcel into seventeen (17) parcels. 5.1 acres is proposed to be dedicated as open space. The proposed subdivision is to be a Planned Unit Development (PUD) and a two-year Blanket Coastal Development has been requested. A Special Permit is required to allow for fill within a wetland buffer area, for major vegetation removal, and for wetland restoration following fill placement. NOTE: It is recommended a Mitigated Negative Declaration be adopted. CASE No. FMS-06-05, CDP-06-41, PUD-06-03 & SP-06-48; File Nos. APN 400-131-05. (MEW)

Issues: Wet Land Buffer
Staff report and recommendations:
Michael Wheeler gave the staff report describing the Final Map subdivision, proposed tsunami hazard mitigation, drainage via a stormwater collection system and infiltration trench, the Planned Unit Development, and its relationship to the beach and dunes. Mr. Wheeler presented maps, showing the environmental layout and sensitive areas of concern. He spoke about the supplements that have been received from the neighborhood and from the Coastal Commission.

The public comment period was opened.
Dendra Dengler, Manila Community Service District (CSD), read their resolution (#2007.02) to maintain the rural character, preserve natural resources & coastal access into the record.
Aryay Kalaki, Manila, submitted petitions from residents and non-residents of Manila. They object to increasing housing density in their area.

Ken Terpening, Manila, had concerns about the project. He felt the road was not adequate or safe for a subdivision.

Violet Glass, Manila CDS board member, had concerns about subdivision traffic and about area wild life.

Tim Ayers, Manila, asked which community this subdivision is in the best interest of.

John St. Marie, Friends of the Dunes, had concerns about the effect of the subdivision on the dunes.

Miriam Holliman, Manila, submitted a supplement. She had concerns about the rapid urbanization of the coasts. She felt urbanization has destroyed a significant amount of coastal wetlands, degraded coastal water quality and stressed coastal ecosystems. She felt the subdivision would be a gross over development of the property.

Jennifer Savage, Manila, had concerns about traffic and lack of sidewalks. She felt the subdivision would bring more traffic and less safety.

Doris Williamson, Manila, felt the project would be good for the community.

The public comment period was closed.
BY ORDER OF THE CHAIR, this project was continued to June 7, 2007.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Shellenberger & The Rose Foundation

Pieces of the puzzle. Where the big money comes from? Evidence of the pressure tactics exerted on all levels. Michael Shellenberger, "The Rose Foundation," "The Committee of Concerned Maxxam Shareholders," "As You Sow Foundation" (seen that name recently.)

This isn't just passive donations, "Rose Foundation" was intensely involved, according to reports, in the negotiating of the Headwaters Deal, actively lobbying government officials, and pressuring for the "Debt for Trees" swap.

The following is part of a scheme to get their reps on Maxxam's board. A press release, one of many bits of information. This isn't even the most interesting piece - How they pressured them is another piece T/K (to come).

(Communications Works logo)
Communication Works

Reporters: Call For Interviews With Metzenbaum or Mikva
CONTACT: Michael Shellenberger, Katrina Muniz, 415-255-1946
(cell: 415-398-4001)
Steelworkers: David Foster, Director, 612-623-8045 (cell:
Jon Youngdahl, cell: 612-810-8788; Rose Foundation: Scott Adams,
Tim Little, Jill Ratner, 510-658-0702


Who: Jill Ratner, Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment
Tom Van Dyck, As You Sow Foundation
Dave Foster, United Steelworkers of America

What: Press Conference
Where: Crowne Plaza Hotel: Houston Galleria
2222 West Loop South, Houston (tel. 713-961-7272)
When: 12:00 Noon, May 18 (Day Before Maxxam Shareholder Meeting

The Committee of Concerned Maxxam Shareholders will brief reporters about their campaign to elect two independent directors to the Maxxam board and to improve corporate governance at the company.

The Committee's proxy materials note that Maxxam recorded a net loss of $57.2 million for 1998. Business Week named Maxxam's board the 10th worst in the list of "The Worst Boards of Directors" and called it a "tiny board with little business
experience dominated by CEO" Charles Hurwitz (Dec. 8, 1997). Apart from performance issues, the proxy materials also cite several factors that, in the Committee's opinion, demonstrate a need for independent directors and corporate reform.

The briefing will take place on May 18, one day before Maxxam's annual meeting, which is scheduled to begin at 8:30 AM on
Wednesday, May 19, 1999 at the Waterwood National Resort and Conference Center in Huntsville, Texas.

The Committee is urging holders of Maxxam common stock to elect former U.S. Senator Howard Metzenbaum and former federal Judge Abner Mikva to the two board seats filled by owners of common stock. The other three seats on Maxxam's board are chosen by the common and preferred shareholders voting together, with preferred shares outvoting common shares 10 to one.

Participating in the press briefing on behalf of The Committee of Concerned Maxxam Shareholders are Tim Little and Jill Ratner of the Rose Foundation, and David Foster of the United Steelworkers of America. Also participating is Tom Van Dyck of the As You Sow Foundation, which is sponsoring one of the two shareholders resolutions, but is not a Committee member. In proxy materials circulated to Maxxam shareholders, the Committee explains why it believes that Maxxam needs independent directors and governance reforms.

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* "Specifically, allegations of fiduciary lapses have surrounded Maxxam's CEO and Chairman, Charles Hurwitz. In April 1997, the Delaware Court of Chancery ruled in a case brought by minority Maxxam shareholders that Mr. Hurwitz had engaged in self-dealing with loans that were not found fair to the Company . . . . In addition, Maxxam faces potential liabilities in two separate legal proceedings based on the failure and subsequent $1.6 billion bailout of United Savings Association of Texas, a savings and loan association that Maxxam is alleged to have controlled. . . . These suits and related litigation have already been costly to the Company, which has paid approximately $40,000,000 in litigation expenses, including Mr. Hurwitz's expenses."

* "In 1997 and 1998 the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention ("CDF") suspended the timber operator license of Maxxam's Pacific Lumber subsidiary twice in a twelve month period, based on 128 cited violations of state forest practice rules. The most recent license suspension lasted over three months."

* "Maxxam's Kaiser Aluminum Corporation ('Kaiser'), 63% of whose outstanding common stock is held by Maxxam, is embroiled in a serious labor dispute, the longest in Kaiser's history. The Committee believes that this dispute and the associated costs were avoidable . . . If the NLRB [National Labor Relations Board] does decide to file a complaint, such a complaint could allege that KACC [Kaiser Aluminum Chemical Corporation] engaged in an illegal lockout. That contention, if established, could result in gross back pay liability of up to $3 million per week from January 14, 1999."

* KACC reported losses of $50 million in the fourth quarter of 1998 owing to the strike, and Kaiser reported a net loss of $38.9 million in that quarter."

* "In addition, serious accident rates and worker compensation claims increased at KACC since the strike began. According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration ("OSHA") safety logs, serious workplace injuries increased 138 percent in the fourth quarter of 1998 over the average of KACC during the first three quarters of 1998 prior to the labor dispute."

* In addition, both Kaiser and Pacific Lumber have experienced tragic fatalities that the Committee believes could have been prevented. In October 1997, a 33 year old Kaiser mechanic died when he was crushed beneath the bucket of a front-end loader he was repairing. The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries found Kaiser at fault in the incident, cited Kaiser for five safety violations, and fined it $35,000. In September 1998, a Pacific Lumber employee logged a tree into a group of protesters, killing a 24 year old man. Attorneys for the young man's family have publicly announced that they expect the logging incident to be the subject of a lawsuit seeking damages."

The following may be deemed to be "participants" in this solicitation: The Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment, which owns 50 shares of Maxxam common stock; Jill Ratner and Thomas W. Little, who own 90 shares of Maxxam common stock as tenants in common; the United Steelworkers of America, which owns 1002 shares of Maxxam common stock; As You Sow Foundation, which owns 100 shares of Maxxam common stock; Howard M. Metzenbaum, who does not own Maxxam stock; and Abner J. Mikva, who owns 50 shares of Maxxam common stock. The foregoing (except
the As You Sow Foundation) constitute the members of The Committee of Concerned Shareholders and the two nominees for
Maxxam common director.

Michael Shellenberger, Director
Communication Works
tel: 415-255-1946, fax: 415-255-1947