Saturday, November 14, 2009

Ugliness in Eureka - and more go-away money?

An ongoing saga, or an amped up salvo in the Marina Center war... another case that could be a novel. You've seen how the positioning happens, the first stirrings show up on the Humboldt Herald blog, then the allegations cut loose in the comments, next it shows up in another form, and gets picked up in the papers. And by then the damage is done.

A year or so ago, discontent at EPD blew up into the Blogsphere with the advent of a blog called "Above The law." It seemed to be a case of playing the Herald game, using the blog to anonymous air complaints, allegations and, perhaps, facts. Whichever it was, the message was clear, people weren't happy with the new police chief, Garr Neilsen.

That blog ended up being taken down, the reasons unknown, either it had served its purpose or the threat of litigation had an effect. It was talked about on the blogs, but not too extensively.

For those who weren't following it, the details are to be found at the links in this post, but the short version is that there were allegations that Neilsen was having an affair with Tawnie Hansen, and that she received favorable treatment as a result. Both she and Neilsen deny it, and she ended up filing a lawsuit against Former Eureka Police dispatcher/EPD Support Services Manager Devora “DeeDee” Wilson, a woman she perceived to be in on the blog - that resulted in a settlement and the whole thing appeared to be over.

More recently, in apparently unrelated events, the Marina Center project has made some progress, coming to the forefront, and the Humboldt Herald heralded the beginnings of the takedown of City Manager Dave Tyson.

Lo and Behold. Ms. Hansen springs forth with another lawsuit, targeting Dave Tyson
(Added: The Complaint is date stamped November 10, 2009.)
It breaks on the Herald,
MASSIVE LAWSUIT TARGETS EUREKA, CITY MANAGER Friday, November 13th, 2009 at 4:07
The Journal blogs it,
Tyson, City Sued on Harassment Charges Nov. 13, 4:38 p.m. noting that:
The suit is saucy in the extreme. Key passage here:…
(b) Tyson had a personal friendship and aligned himself with Wilson, a member of the anti-Chief Nielsen group who Tyson was aware had publicly criticized Chief Nielsen at a City Council meeting and who he also knew was an adversary to Hansen;

(c) at the same time, Tyson, who spoke openly to Hansen of his potential sexual encounter with an elected Eureka official, had previously flirted with Hansen in public — including touching her in a suggestive manner — and intimated to her that he would be desirous of her performing a specific sexual act with him;

(d) Hansen rejected Tyson’s sexually aggressive overtures and never did or said anything to convey to Tyson that she was open to them;

(e) Tyson, having been rebuffed by Hansen in this regard, was both angry with Hansen and jealous of Chief Nielsen when he learned of the above-described defamatory statements regarding Hansen’s purported affair with Chief Nielsen, which statements Tyson apparently believe were true; and

(f) given these misplaced beliefs and his alignment with Wilson, Tyson had no desire to take any steps to have the defamatory publications stop or to bring to end the harrassing conduct to which Hansen was being subjected.

◼ TS EPD employee files civil suit against city 11/14/2009 1:30 AM

Wow. Is he (Hansen's Attorney, Alan Goldberg) writing a steamy novel? Or is this a lawsuit? Are these allegations or facts? It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out. The timing dovetailing with Heraldo’s blog release has already raised questions (see comments on "his" site as well as the Times Standard site), and the obvious positioning against Tyson that has been going on there… looks like more scorched-earth politics and settling a political vendetta…

Two things jump out at me... one is she (Hansen) is alleging that broadening the scope of investigation was a delaying tactic, when it would seem to be acting responsibly to conduct a thorough investigation in an obviously complicated and delicate matter. Broadening the investigation certainly doesn’t amount to disrespecting her complaint or attempting to sweep it under the rug.

And two… whether he wanted to or not, he could not do much, if anything, about a blog that may or may not have been posted by a city employee on their own time - that is a matter of free speech and not something he can just command to stop in any circumstances.

Union rules and employer/employee laws would also apply in almost all aspects, not a simple thing in any way shape or form.

Something doesn’t smell right. Jus’ sayin’. If you read below, the names involved....

As of last week, it is far from over. It's the talk of the town, no one I have heard speaks well of Ms. Hansen as they speculate as to the truth of the allegations and affairs. And regardless of the truth of the allegations, because that's what they are at this point, many people will be hurt by this. Already have been, if the comments threads at the Times Standard and Humboldt Herald blog are any indication. The comments at the latter already meet or surpass those that were on the Above The Law Blog, just a different target.

ABOVE THE LAW (Most all posts have been removed)
Turmoil at EPD Saturday, April 5th, 2008 at 12:53 pm
Police anger at chief surfaces
Garr Nielsen named new EPD Chief Thursday, March 15th, 2007 at 9:55 pm
KSLG to interview disgruntled cop blogger Friday, April 18th, 2008 at 11:57 pm
Nielsen cleared Saturday, May 10th, 2008 at 9:11 am
◼ TS Complaint against chief found to be unsubstantiated
Nasty cops prompt ER (Eureka Reporter) crack down Thursday, June 5th, 2008 at 8:15 am
Eureka Police blog spawns lawsuit Monday, June 29th, 2009 at 5:00 am
INNOCENT: Grand Jury concludes police chief investigation Thursday, July 2nd, 2009 at 5:59 pm
Police Chief critic quits EPD Sunday, July 5th, 2009 at 12:01 am
Police blog lawsuit settled Friday, August 7th, 2009 at 12:30 am
◼ JN Broken Blue Line July 2, 2009
MASSIVE LAWSUIT TARGETS EUREKA, CITY MANAGER Friday, November 13th, 2009 at 4:07
The Journal picks it up, ◼ Tyson, City Sued on Harassment Charges Nov. 13, 4:38 p.m.
◼ TS EPD employee files civil suit against city 11/14/2009 01:30:14 AM PST
‘Global investigation’ expensive Monday, November 16th, 2009 at 5:00 am
City of Eureka: Claims will be thrown out 11/18/2009
A lawyer representing the city of Eureka issued a statement Tuesday saying the city is confident the more than $1 million harassment lawsuit brought against it by a police department employee will be thrown out of court.

EPD Communications Supervisor Tawnie Hansen -- a 14-year employee of the department -- filed the suit Nov. 10, alleging that the city, and specifically City Manager David Tyson, vindictively and unreasonably delayed an investigation into complaints that Hansen was being harassed by other department employees.

In the statement, Adrienne Moran, of the Santa Rosa law firm Shapiro, Galvin, Shapiro and Moran, said she will be defending the city.

”The city has thoroughly investigated Ms. Hansen's claims and could not substantiate them,” Moran said in the statement, adding that the city is confident the “claims against Mr. Tyson and the city will be thrown out.”

Last week, Tyson denied all the allegations in Hansen's suit....

Hansen's attorney, Alan Goldberg, told the Times-Standard last week that this is not the first time Hansen has made these claims, saying she told at least one council member and the city attorney of the alleged incident between her and Tyson shortly after it happened.

Reached Tuesday, former Eureka City Councilman Chris Kerrigan said he and sitting Councilman Larry Glass met with Hansen at some point in or around the summer of 2008, while Kerrigan was still in office.

”She did talk with and meet with both Larry and I, and her concerns were not only about the city manager but about her situation with the police force,” Kerrigan said, declining to discuss the details of Hansen's concerns. “My recollection was that it encompassed both: her concerns with the city manager and her concerns with her own workplace environment. I do recall that the city attorney was notified, and if it wasn't (Hansen) it was myself who, as the next step, talked to the city attorney.”

Glass confirmed Tuesday that he attended the meeting with Hansen and Kerrigan, but declined to go into any details.

”Tawnie did indeed meet with me and Chris,” Glass said. “She had a number of concerns that she brought to us. That's all I can say at this point.”

City Attorney Sheryl Schaffner declined to comment for this story, saying that Moran is handling all media inquires about the case....


  1. The suit was filed on the 10th.Neither the ts or heraldo "broke"any stories.
    If her allegations prove to be true,than kudos for her for taking on Tyson.But 1.4 million?Why fuck the city taxpayers so much,are they really the ones at fault here?

  2. Simple. Upping the amount increases the settlement payoff.

  3. Heraldo had the scoop on this just like he did on other stories related to this issue. Why is that? Could it be because Heraldo is Larry Glass? That is the rumor and speculation by many. Could it be the scoops are given to him by an insider? It's possible. Would that make it a conspiracy? If nothing else it will be interesting. I don't know Tyson but I do feel sorry for him being trashed in the T/S blog and by heraldo and company. Whatever happened to the concept of innocent until proven guilty?

    If this Massive lawsuit goes the distance, as it should, there will be some very interesting depositions!

    It seems as if heraldo and Ms. Hanson are feeling their collective oats, feeling invincible.

    I'll be following this one.

  4. I'm on moderation at H, no sense of humor.


  5. Does this mean we will finally find out who Heralda is?

  6. let's hope so

  7. If we find out who heraldo is,we can also find out who the mirror is.Now that will be interesting!!

  8. Yep, mark, it will.

    It's interesting to see the accusations about the anonymous "Above The Law" blogger on "the anonymous "Humboldt Herald" - Ms. Hansen's apparent notion that shutting down one of these blogs, or even finding out who it is is easy is certainly something "heraldo" should set straight.

    Unless the person was blogging on City computers or City time there's not a whole heckuva lot the City Manager could do.

    They say the reason "heraldo"must stay anonymous is fear of losing a job, which would certainly also apply to "Above The Law" but the same people who want to protect the one want to unmask the other.

    The Mirror isn't in that mix so far, but everyone wants to know who it is too, hard to say which one is hunted more, The Herald or The Mirror. I have my suspicions, and you can kinda narrow it down to a core group, but not to a specific person, so far.

    I've said it before and I will say it again, there is nothing to fear from using your name. Greg and Carol know this, You, Mark, know it, Joel knows it, Fred knows it, Eric knows it, all of us can tell you it's not that scary. Yeah, so not everyone agrees with you - big deal, some people may even hate you, big deal.


Comments are open, but moderated, for the time-being. Good luck.