Thursday, July 30, 2009

Plea Deal in murder case

One suspect in 2008 Cutten killing takes plea deal

One of two defendants accused of participating in a December 2008 home invasion robbery that left a Cutten man dead pleaded no contest Tuesday to voluntary manslaughter and related drug charges.

Jury selection for the trial of Jason Leon Belles, 31, and Jonathan Henry Watson, 30, was set to begin Monday but Belles pleaded Tuesday to reduced charges. He will be sentenced Aug. 21. The stipulated term of the plea deal was seven years and eight months in prison, according to court documents.

Belles' attorney William Bragg said that although they felt Belles had a good defense for the jury trial, Belles did not want to risk a life sentence.

”My client evaluated the risk involved in the case of taking it to trial and was not willing to risk the rest of his life on that,” Bragg said. “I could not guarantee my client that I could win the case. No attorney can.”

With good behavior, Belles may only have to serve 85 percent of his proposed sentence, or about six-and-a-half years, minus time already served, Bragg said.

Belles accepted the plea deal from Deputy District Attorney Max Cardoza that reduced a murder charge to voluntary manslaughter; a first-degree burglary charge to transporting more than an ounce of marijuana; and a first-degree attempted robbery charge to possessing marijuana for sale, according to court documents. A second attempted robbery charge was dismissed.....

Watson's jury trial is now scheduled to begin Aug. 5 with jury selection beginning Aug. 3, according to court documents. He is charged with murder, first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

The name of the victim, not mentioned in the article, was ◼ 27-year-old Garrett Ryan Benson Belles had been initially held on suspicion of murder, robbery of an inhabited dwelling and conspiracy.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Big money at the NEC

The NEC’s Subprime Mortgage
On Friday, Pete Nichols, chair of the nec’s board of directors, sounded pleased that the organization is moving past having to worry quite so much about balance sheets, asset management and foreclosure.

“We’re using this as the opportunity to get out of the real estate business, and back into conservation,” Nichols said.

...The Northcoast Environmental Center borrowed a total of $550,000 to finance its purchase of the G Street office...$50,000 from Don and Andrea Tuttle, $100,000 from Felicia Oldfather...four other families or individuals and one other nonprofit institution loaned the nec money for the G Street property. They are Bette and Milt Dobkin ($100,000), Duncan Ralph ($50,000), Bob and Mary Gearheart ($50,000), Steve Gompertz ($100,000) and the Redwood Region Audubon Society ($100,000)....The loans from Gompertz and the Audubon Society, which were packaged together in one note, were paid off in April of this year, upon the sale of one of the two lots that comprised the old nec offices at Ninth and I streets in Arcata. According to Martin Swett, nec treasurer, that note was partially secured by the property that was sold, and so had to be paid off in order for the sale to go through...

The nec still holds unencumbered title on one piece of property — the other downtown lot, which used to house half its headquarters. Though the site is badly polluted, Nichols said that the organization is very confident that it will soon secure grants to clean it up.

The NEC lost its way. It will not get it back. They've kept the wrecking crew in charge.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Gallegos' latest case

Trial starts for former Fortuna teacher
A jury has been selected and testimony began Thursday in the trial of a former Fortuna Union High School teacher who is accused of having sex with a 17-year-old student.

Dierdre Marie Peterson, 41, is charged with unlawful sex, oral copulation with a minor and molesting a minor. She has pleaded not guilty, claiming that she was raped, according to court documents.

District Attorney Paul Gallegos told the jury Thursday in his opening statement that although Peterson was known for taking in “stray” children and helping them get through tough times, she made some bad decisions.

”In this case, the story you will hear is good intentions and poor choices, and the regret and deceit that often follow those kind of decisions,” he said.

Gallegos called many of Peterson's activities admirable, such as her youth leadership role in church and caring for others, but that she took things too far.

”There's nothing wrong with attraction but Ms. Peterson chose to act on it,” he said.

Gallegos briefly described the alleged sexual acts the victim detailed to police. When Kim Peterson, the defendant's husband, was out of town and the victim was sleeping over at the Peterson home, Dierdre Peterson allegedly gave the victim a back massage that escalated to sexual intercourse.

The alleged acts took place around June 2008.

Men in Blue -- Widows in Black

Men in Blue -- Widows in Black
What does it mean to give your life to the call of duty?
In the last three weeks, Humboldt County has lost three veteran officers: Brett Davie, Ben Nord, and James “Butch” Manos. At ages 63, 34, and 58 (respectively), each of these men died of a heart attack.
While it's common knowledge law enforcement officers have a high-stress career, it is still difficult to grasp the loss of these men. In each instance, these men lost their lives not in the line of duty, but during ordinary activities of their off-duty lives; one in his own backyard, one while vacationing in Trinity, and one following his daily workout.
Thirty years ago, officers walked a beat and had personal relationships with the people they served. Back then, the public had a better feel for and about law enforcement.....

Thanks you and Bless you, Dave Parris. And condolences to the families of Brett Davie, Ben Nord, and James “Butch” Manos.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Irony in the making?

Drug Task Force raids suspected SoHum grow house, business
Humboldt Drug Task Force raids SoHum grow houses, business
The Humboldt County Drug Task Force led a raid Wednesday on three suspected Southern Humboldt grow houses and a business, resulting in three arrests.

Ann Edwards, 49, of Benbow, owner of Folk Art in Garberville, is believed to be associated with all properties, according to a press release. Edwards, along with Cheryl Cacopardo, 53, and Robert Delgrande, 41, were arrested on suspicion of cultivation and possession of marijuana for sale.

Financial documents have been seized from Edward's business.

Agents reportedly discovered roughly 700 marijuana plants growing in the residences located on the 7900 and 7400 blocks of Benbow Drive, and the 200 block of Fairway Drive.

Could be a bit ironic - if that Ann Edwards is the same one who tried to keep someone from opening a Tow Shop in Garberville, because you know a TOW SHOP would be COMPLETELY INAPPROPRIATE.

Breaking - tough economic times, unexpected consequences

Shooting at Tip Top leads to arrests (was breaking)
Shooting at Tip Top leads to arrests (article)
Early Thursday morning, two men were arrested after one allegedly fired off a gun when he objected to the admission price to a local strip club.

According to the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office, shortly after midnight this morning deputies responded to ◼ the Tip Top Club after receiving a report of shots fired. Deputies learned that a group of men had caused a disturbance over a door-charge.....
Hey at least he didn't have to pretend he was going to buy an RV.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Bulldozer ready

Richardson's Grove it isn't. Big enough to give Ken Miller a coronary though. My how the worm does turn. It's logging. Sorta kinda. With a fancy new description that makes it all eco-kosher and all.

The Division of Forestry in Nevada's Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has been awarded Nevada's first stimulus funded grant. The $1.3 million forest protection and green energy project already underway has created 26 jobs and saved three others, all in Lincoln County, which has an unemployment rate well above the national average. The undertaking will reduce hazardous fuel loads by removing encroaching Juniper and Pinyon trees (both highly flammable), improving forest ecosystems, helping prevent forest fires, and creating biomass for use as green energy. Work is taking place in or along Beaver Dam, Spring Valley and Echo Canyon State Parks, as well as along parts of Highway 93 and State Route 319.

The project began on March, 30, 2009 and the Nevada Division of Forestry has so far cleared 287.7 acres and produced 3,767 cubic yards of biomass. The biomass is being used as mulch and green energy, with 2,700 cubic yards being used as green energy at the Northern Nevada Correctional Center in Carson City, and 1,067 cubic yards chipped and spread on site as mulch.

Trial news

Back in Action owner trial set for November
Back in Action owner Darrell Slape will face charges of sexual battery and abuse in a trial set to begin Nov. 9.
In a pre-trial conference Tuesday afternoon, Humboldt County Superior Court Judge W. Bruce Watson granted the defense's motion to consolidate two cases, one of practicing physical therapy without a license and a count of sexual battery and another case of sexual battery.

RELATED: Darrell Slape, CMP CMST
The state of California conducted four separate and simultaneous investigations of Slape’s business. Three of the four investigations and audits required a legal team to respond successfully. The investigations were conducted by the Franchise Tax Board of California, the Physical Therapy Board (PTB), the Department of Consumer Affairs (DOC) and California’s Educational Development Department (EDD). It appears that this was only one of the latest in a series of turf battles across the USA in what is known as “a war” between traditional western medicine and complimentary and alternative health approaches to health. In Slape’s case, the state appeared to perceive overlapping scopes of practice using exercise machines with clientele were violations of the Physical Therapy Practice Act.


Friday, July 17, 2009

Whitmill update

Evidence, charges unchanged against Whitmill
A motion to dismiss three charges, including second-degree murder, against a Willow Creek man accused of racing down Highway 299 and killing a 9-year-old girl last October was denied Wednesday.

Attorney Glenn Brown requested the dismissal of blood alcohol content evidence against Jason Bradley Whitmill, 32, on June 11 and three charges related to the evidence: second degree murder, driving while intoxicated causing bodily injury and gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated....

Brown requested the BAC be dismissed arguing that police illegally drew and tested Whitmill's blood without his consent. In the judge's statement, (Superior Court Judge Dale A) Reinholsten determined officers had probable cause to draw Whitmill's blood....

...Whitmill is also accused of engaging in a speed contest causing bodily injury and hit and run driving causing injury. Flores is accused of gross vehicular manslaughter, engaging in a speed contest causing bodily injury and hit and run driving causing injury.

Their jury trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 8....

Monday, July 13, 2009

Run aground

NEC could make big cuts or close this month
Northcoast Environmental Center on the skids

You know what I think of the predatory litigious mentality that has taken over - it ain't about saving the planet - it's about power, and wasting other people's money to get it.

Awww, what a shame.

heraldo ENDANGERED: Your NEC

GREAT EDITORIAL in the TS today - 7/15/09
NEC has more than just debt to overcome
...There's no doubt that such help is needed, but we believe there are even bigger issues at play. Frankly, the NEC has lost its way. In what has turned out to be a painfully long period of transition after McKay's death, the group has lost its identity, and in many ways has alienated former supporters -- by opposing a plan aimed at restoring the Klamath basin, in one example -- and angered what used to be respectful intellectual adversaries....

NEC board decides to pare back
NEC Board President Pete Nichols said that the board on Wednesday decided to eliminate the center's administrative director position, currently held by Georgianna Wood. It will also be moving from its G Street house in Arcata to a Jacoby Storehouse storefront.

Yep - getting rid of the one person who actually did something. Smart.

Varieties of Bankruptcy Town Dandy
Left out one variety of bankruptcy - the bankruptcy of character.

Exclusive: Humboldt Mirror scores interview with former NEC director The Mirror

Friday, July 10, 2009


to Benjamin Nord's family.
Dark day at DA's office
Humboldt County lowered its flags to half-staff this week to honor the passing of a county investigator.
Benjamin “Ben” A. Nord was 34 when he died of unknown causes Tuesday while on vacation at Trinity Lake. He had worked for the Humboldt County District Attorney's Office since November of last year.

Memorial service to honor local investigator

Friday, July 03, 2009

Now a misdo

Hoopa driver now faces misdemeanor charge
The Thursday preliminary hearing for a Hoopa man accused of hitting and killing a cyclist last summer saw his felony charge reduced to a misdemeanor.

After the fifth preliminary hearing for 27-year-old defendant Alan Bear, Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos asked the court to withdraw the charge of gross negligence in the matter.

A revised statement from the reporting officer was submitted to Gallegos, who then altered the charges.

”The facts didn't change ... but the officer's opinion changed,” Gallegos said after the hearing.

The death was tragic and “completely preventable” but the change in the officer's report was based on a reevaluation of the event, Gallegos said.

”Further investigation proved that it was not gross negligence or at least that we couldn't prove it beyond the shadow of a doubt,” he said.

Gross negligence, as defined in California statute, is an act done with such careless disregard for the safety of others' lives that it is likely to cause foreseeable injury.

Bear now faces charges of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence, providing false information to a police officer and making an unsafe lane change that killed 42-year-old bicyclist and local botanist Gregory Jennings.

Local cyclists who attended the court session were unhappy with the decision.

Rick Knapp of the Humboldt Bay Bicycle Commuters Association said he was “very disappointed.”

”It's just hard to imagine that somebody is charged with normal negligence when he was completely off the shoulder (of the road),” Knapp said.

The large amount of space Bear drifted from the road should be considered a radical departure and thus gross negligence, Knapp said. With this reduction in charges, Knapp said cyclists seem to have the “same rights as a squirrel” on the road in Humboldt County.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Phrases that stick in your mind

The Journal has a post up about hsu enviro prof Bill Devall who died at his Trinidad home last week.

The Journal says "Among other things Devall was an environmental activist, a Professor Emeritus in Sociology, the author of Deep Ecology: Living as if Nature Mattered, and a founding member of the North Coast Environmental Center."

It's that phrase - Deep Ecology - I have seen that before, on

It is defined as The “Deep Ecology Platform,” as the movement’s credo is called, emphasizes the relative worthlessness of human life, rating it as no more important than that of plants or animals. The Platform considers human beings as a mere “interference” with nature, and openly aims for a “decrease of the human population.” It wraps up with a call to action, suggesting that people need to abandon the idea of “adhering to an increasingly higher standard of living,” and instead should pursue “changes in policies” that affect “basic economic [and] technological structures.”

Activistcash discusses a series of full-page advertisements... The headline “Extinction Crisis” screamed an alarm in 130-point type, followed by 1200 words of propaganda about global warming, globalization, and “ecological havoc.”

More ads followed in short order. Each one dealt with a favorite theme of the “green” political left:

biotechnology (“genetic roulette”);
livestock operations (“welfare ranchers”);
genetically improved foods (“untested hazards”);
economic globalization (“increasing poverty and hunger”); and
modern agriculture (“it poisons the earth”).

In twelve months, Turning Point ran 25 of these splashy politicized commercials, each of them taking up a full page in the Times.

Big money -- but whose?

As any advertising executive will tell you, that kind of exposure is expensive. Within a few months of the campaign’s beginning, guessing the source of its money became a popular East Coast parlor game. Even in the pages of the Times itself, columnist Paul Krugman (an M.I.T. economist) asked: “Who’s paying for those ads?”

An initial answer seemed to be provided at the bottom of each ad, where a partial list appeared of “coalition” members (examples included Greenpeace, Earth Island Institute, the Humane Society of the United States, and Friends of the Earth). Its first ad claimed that Turning Point was “a coalition of more than 50 non-profit organizations.” As the campaign marched forward, the claim grew to “more than 80.” Turning Point’s web site, still operating after nearly two years of advertising silence, now lists 108 “participating organizations.”

In the Fall of 1999 the standard commercial rate for a single full-page ad in the Times was in excess of $117,000. Some reports suggest that Turning Point got a more favorable rate of $87,000 per page, but the group only reported spending $1,164,563 on advertising during its campaign -- making the cost of each ad just over $46,500 -- that breaks down to more than $10,700 for each of Turning Point’s 108 “participating organizations.” This is not an unreasonable sum for today’s big-money environmental groups to come up with, especially considering how easy it is to move money between tax-exempt organizations (Turning Point is one, as are over 90% of its “participating organizations”).

Case closed -- or so it seemed. But tax filings recently released to the public indicate that over 95% of the Turning Point Project’s financing came from one source. It’s not listed among the “participating organizations.” In fact, its name appeared nowhere in any of the advertisements.

The report goes on to point out that If there is still any doubt that Turning Point and the Foundation for Deep Ecology were really one and the same, consider this: through what appears to be an accounting error, FDE actually made one of its six-figure grant payments in 1999 to a “Turning Point Project” located at “919 Ventura Way, Mill Valley, California 94941.” This address is in a residential neighborhood, and it’s actually one of the mailing addresses used by the Foundation itself.

Deep Influences

But Tompkins’ influence is even broader, as his FDE has also spun off a few notable left-wing organizations of its own. These include the International Forum on Food and Agriculture, the International Forum on Globalization, and the Wildlands Project. This last group wants to “re-wild” as much of North America as possible, declare millions of acres permanently “off limits,” and shoehorn human beings into designated “buffer” zones.

Operated by Earth First! Co-founder Dave Foreman, Wildlands is the closest thing modern environmentalism has to a central organizing principle. Everything the Turning Point Project stands for finds its roots in Deep Ecology and its hoped-for denouement in the Wildlands Project. Abandoning biotechnology and modern agriculture fits the mold, as does halting technological progress that have the potential to feed millions of people. Exaggerating natural processes as an “extinction crisis” is right out of the Deep Ecology playbook, since the Platform clearly ranks animal biodiversity above humanity’s own survival.

In addition to Turning Point and its other spinoffs, FDE regularly funds anti-consumer organizations like the Center for Media and Democracy, the Earth Island Institute, the Rainforest Action Network, and the Ruckus Society. In fact, FDE has made over $3.2 million in grants to groups listed as Turning Point’s “participating members.”

They follow the money - in part - Just as the Foundation for Deep Ecology’s tax returns show Turning Point grants landing in FDE’s own California offices, they also show that other donations to Turning Point were sent to Kimbrell’s office in Washington, DC (310 D Street, NE), not the Pennsylvania Avenue address listed on Turning Point’s tax returns. This apparent shell game -- quietly moving money from one Andrew Kimbrell enterprise to the next -- is a clear and blatant attempt to deceive the public and shield the Turning Point Project’s true goals from wider scrutiny.,

And goes on Disingenuous to the end, Turning Point’s leaders would love to resurrect the myth of grass-roots support that lent credibility to their efforts in 1999 and 2000. And maybe this time will be different -- perhaps they’ll break that pesky 5% threshold of public support required to maintain their Federal tax-deduction.

It’s not likely. The Turning Point Project was, and remains, a front for the radical aims of Deep Ecology. If Andrew Kimbrell’s experience is any indication, this latest effort won’t even draw support from the mainstream foundation community.

The reason for this is worth repeating. The Turning Point Project, with its relentless criticism of biotechnology, modern agriculture, economic globalization, and technological progress, is promoting the aims and priorities of Deep Ecology -- a radical, fringe environmental sect that sees human lives as less valuable than plants and animals. This food fight is not about science any more. It’s about the goals of a fringe group that is encouraged by the loss of human life.

There's more - as always, the info at activistcash if pretty eye-opening.

The other links that come up when searching activistcash's site for the phrase "Deep Ecology" are Earth First and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and Center for Media & Democracy

This local guy is not mentioned as the author of the phrase the activists are using, nor is any reference to his book made. In fact, wikipedia credits the phrase 'Deep Ecology' to Norwegian philosopher Arne Næss and they do not mention Bill Devall, fwiw - Just an odd coincidence.


EPD Fireworks

Just in time for the Fourth.
First it broke on heraldo:
Eureka Police blog spawns lawsuit
Then the Times Standard
Employee of EPD files suit against coworkers
A civil lawsuit between employees of Eureka Police Department is unfolding and involves a local and now defunct blog, accusations of defamation and 99 unnamed defendants.

EPD Communications Supervisor Tawnie Hansen filed suit against EPD Support Services Manager Devora “DeeDee” Wilson and 99 anonymous users for allegedly falsely stating on a blog that Hansen had an illicit sexual relationship with EPD Chief Garr Nielsen, according to the complaint filed with the Humboldt County Superior Court.

And it also became the cover story on The Journal
Broken Blue Line link to be updated, not online yet
a sad and sorry mess - and now it looks like all kinds of dirty laundry will be aired, invasive depositions will be taken, and all kinds of things will become public on both sides alike.

The "Above The Law" Blog - from what I could see, was, like so many things here, an attempt to get a story and a message out - that message being how EPD employees were feeling, and how they felt like they were being treated, and what they saw going on internally. It was inside gossip, perhaps facts, as they would have been relayed by co-workers as discontent and frustration reached the breaking point. How many had tried to talk to reporters prior to starting such a blog would be interesting to know.

How much was true, any or all, was and is impossible for those of us on the outside to tell. I doubt many read it without cringing a few times.

Now that watercooler chatter, and internal folklore is about to be splashed all over the local press - a story that has a bit of everything.

Summer reading. Gonna be hard on all involved. And very interesting for all us bloggers.