Archive for July, 2009

Mending bridges

July 7, 2009 36 comments


Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos presents Eureka Police Chief Garr Nielsen with a check for $94,298.  The money will pay for new in-car video systems for EPD, and symbolizes a healing of the relationship between the two offices.

Eureka will appeal court ruling on recruiting ban

July 7, 2009 23 comments

military-recruitingThe City of Eureka gave unanimous direction to City Attorney Sheryl Schaffner to appeal a court ruling that overturned a local ban on military recruiting of underaged children.

Schaffner announced the appeal at the start of Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

Eureka joins the City of Arcata, which passed a similar ban in the November election, in appealing the court’s decision.

From Big Box to Ghost Box

July 7, 2009 44 comments

A Home Depot "Ghost Box" in Southgate, MI.

An Associated Press article notes the problem of empty big boxes littering the United States.  Consider it one more reason to oppose the construction of Home Depot (or whatever big box) on the Humboldt Bay waterfront.

Less than three years [after opening the Home Depot in Bismarck], the home improvement retailer shuttered the underperforming store, leaving a big orange empty eyesore on the outskirts of town.

The building, sitting derelict and silent on acres of asphalt, is now listed for sale at $10.5 million. But there’s been little interest in the near windowless warehouse-like building that occupies a lot the size of a dozen football fields….

“There is not a landfill on earth able to handle all the big boxes that we have sitting empty,” says Julia Christensen, author of the book “Big Box Reuse,” who has been studying the trend since 2002.

[Image source.]

Eureka ranks #71 for high crime

July 7, 2009 47 comments

crime-in-eurekaA recently released study may confirm Eureka Police Capt. Murl Harpham’s unpopular comment that Eureka is a “hellhole.”

Eureka is the 71st most dangerous city in the US, according to Neighborhood Scout.

“With a population of 25,929, Eureka has a combined rate of violent and property crime that is very high compared to other places of similar population size,” according to the report.  “Few other communities of this size have a crime rate as high as Eureka.”

Eurekans have a 1 in 156 chance of becoming a crime victim, according to the data.

Berkeley, CA also made the list, coming in at #43.  But a blog on the San Francisco Chronicle website advises readers to view the results with “liberal pinches of salt.”

Reports of high crime are not new to Eureka.  The Humboldt Herald previously compared crime rates in the Humboldt County seat to other cities and found Eureka always comes out ahead.  That’s not a good thing.

When the City Council meets tonight to discuss the budget, they should remember that public safety is a high priority in Eureka and requires full funding.  It’s hard to enjoy a visit to the zoo if you have to dodge bands of thieves and rampaging tweekers just to get there.

HumCo Correctional Officer busted for heroin

July 6, 2009 29 comments

heroinIt’s been a bad week for bad cops in Humboldt County.

A correctional officer with the Humboldt County Sheriffs Department was arrested Friday for bringing contraband, including heroin, into the county jail.  The Times-Standard has the breaking news.

The arrest of Officer Benjamin Jentry-Rakestraw, 20, was the result of a month-long investigation, according to the report.  He was on duty at the time of the arrest and is being held on $20,000 bail.

BACKPACKER MAG: Humboldt ranks 16 in Best Cities

July 6, 2009 16 comments

Backpacker Magazine ranks the Eureka-Arcata-Fortuna area as one of the top 25 places that “offer the ideal mix of accessible trails, inspiring teachers, and great recreational resources.”


Click image to biggify.

backpacker-eka-bestHumboldt ranked 16 out of 25.  Perhaps next time we could rank higher by, for example, connecting Arcata and Eureka with a trail around Humboldt Bay.

Police Chief critic quits EPD

July 5, 2009 62 comments

DeeDee Wilson.

The “small group of employees” at the Eureka Police Dept. who have been waging a public relations war against EPD Chief Garr Nielsen just got smaller.

EPD Support Services Manager Devora “DeeDee” Wilson resigned her position with the Department following vindication of the Chief by the Humboldt County Grand Jury.

Wilson had been a vocal opponent of Nielsen since he took over the Department in 2007.  Last year she filed complaints of harassment against him which were found to be baseless after an independent investigation.

But the outcome didn’t stop the nastiness.  The now defunct Eureka Reporter newspaper disallowed anonymous comments following a slew of sleaze left on the paper’s website.  The ER noted that nasty comments on the site “came in a flood in the wake of the City Council’s [April 2008] session in which Eureka Police Department employees were given the floor to criticize the chief.”

Wilson apparently had high hopes for the 2008-09 Grand Jury report released late last week.  But additional investigations by the GJ also found complaints against the Chief to be “without merit.”

Wilson still faces a civil lawsuit by a former co-worker who was maligned with malicious rumors on the Above the Law blog, which is believed to have been run by Wilson and others inside EPD.

CENSORED: Humboldt Herald blocked from Eureka City servers

July 3, 2009 98 comments

Humboldt-Herald-censoredIt appears that employees of the City of Eureka will have to get their Humboldt Herald fix after hours.  The North Coast’s premier local blog is now forbidden fruit on the city’s computers.

City workers first began noticing the block earlier this week, according to sources.

All other local blogs are accessible — except for one: the now-defunct Above the Law blog.  But back when baseless rants were being posted daily to that blog all city workers had access — including the “small group of employees” at EPD who made false accusations against Chief Garr Nielsen.  Apparently bashing the Chief was a-ok with the City Manager.

Humboldt Herald readers who wish to defy the ban can subscribe by email.  And if you use an RSS reader, you can subscribe to posts, comments or both.

Unfortunately, however, such measures will not allow you to leave comments.  That will have to wait until after work when you leave the dictatorial confines implemented by Eureka’s Supreme Leader.

And until Mr. Bossypants takes away your email privileges, you can always contact the Humboldt Herald with inside info on the power plays at City Hall.

INNOCENT: Grand Jury concludes police chief investigation

July 2, 2009 49 comments

Garr-NielsenA slew of complaints against Eureka Police Chief Garr Nielsen were found to be “without merit” according to the 2008-09 Grand Jury Final Report.  The complaints were filed by EPD personnel.

This week’s Journal cover story painted an ugly picture of life inside the Department, and said the “anti-Nielsen side shows no sign whatsoever of backing down” and predicted “ongoing dysfunction in the city’s most critical institution.” But the Grand Jury found inevitable tension stemming from much-needed changes at EPD were improving.

“The center of antagonism against the Police Chief has been reduced to a small group of employees who may never come to terms with some of the changes our municipal leaders are seeking within the Police Department,” according to the Report.

The Grand Jury investigated complaints including the unauthorized use of City property, seeking and receiving improper compensation for professional and/or personal expenses, engaging in illegal hiring practices, abuse of authority, misrepresentation of Peace Officer certification status, retaliation against a Department employee, incomplete conflict of interest statement and sharing information inappropriately with professional colleagues.

The Grand Jury notes that Nielsen was given “firm and specific direction by both the City Council and the City Manager to implement significant changes in the Police Department” including reform of the “existing and historical culture within the Department.

No responses to the report are required.

The Report encourages everyone in the Department to “seek ways to move beyond the current tension… and to “refocus the attention of everyone in the Department on its fundamental mission to serve and to protect the citizens of our community.”

1976 Article about Alternative Owner Builder

July 1, 2009 59 comments

Below is a 1976 article from the Arcata Union newspaper.  If you can’t read it, try downloading the pdf.