Times-Standard | Saturday, 8 July 2017
Access Humboldt’s open letter to Sinclair Broadcast Group
By Sean Taketa McLaughlin
Dear Sinclair board members, shareholders and decision makers, We the people of Humboldt County, on the Redwood Coast of California, would like to welcome you to our community. With your recent acquisition of four local television channels, you are now a major part of our media landscape. We may be a small market demographically, but we support our local news outlets and we have high standards and expectations for corporations that control access to information in our communities.
As the comedian John Oliver pointed out recently on his show “Last Week Tonight,” Sinclair has earned a somewhat unsavory reputation for biased coverage and inflammatory “mustrun” segments that routinely misrepresent facts in order to benefit right-wing political agendas (more on this at http:// tinyurl.com/LWT-Sinclair). While this behavior may stem from a legitimate belief that you are “doing the right thing,” youshould be aware that it often comes across as cynical manipulationand intentional distortionof the truth.
From past experience, we know that consolidated absentee ownership reduces competition, threatens media localism and harms information diversity. For example, when the digital television transition modified the transmission systems for local TV broadcasters, coverage in large swaths of Humboldt County was significantly reduced.
While Bonten has made substantial investments in local origination, Sinclair has a reputation for requiring their owned affiliate stations to air non-local editorial content during local newscasts. This “must air” practice reduces local origination of news and information programs that address controversial issues of public importance. To become a trusted local broadcaster, your policies need to provide reasonable opportunities for local and opposing views to be expressed.
Since we would like to give you the benefit of the doubt as a new player in town, we have developed a short list of suggestedactions that would help to demonstrate your commitment to becoming a responsible provider of high-quality information:
• Ensure localism with meaningful investments in local news and information programming to support public interests of local and tribal jurisdictions: * Station broadcasts should identify “must air” non-local content on-screen.
* Provide equal airtime for local editorial content expressing opposing views.
* Ensure that Spanish language channel(s) include equivalent local program origination as other channels, and that tribes have in-language programming available on-air.
• Promote universal access with investments in new infrastructure for our least-served people and places: * Install and maintain additional translator/repeater facilities to ensure full multi-casting coverage over the entire Designated Market Area served.
• Transparency and accountability to local jurisdictions through community-based participation in local programming: * Maintain public files, including annual reports on compliance with contractual promises available at every local library location.
* Dedicate multi-cast channel(s) programmed entirely with locally originated noncommercial content from local jurisdictions. (Note: This could be accomplished in coordination with public-education-government access community media available now through the counties, cities and tribes served.) While we would love to see all of the above actions incorporated into Sinclair’s local operations, we don’t hold out much hope that these issues will be addressed. After all, we’re just one small piece of a growing monopoly, and there is lots of money to be made through media manipulation and control. Still, we promise to do everything in our power to make sure that you deliver services that meet local needs and community interests.
The North Coast is a very special place to its residents, and we sincerely hope you will thoughtfully consider these andother ways that we can work together to develop and support community-based media. Think of this as a golden opportunity to improve your reputation and become a trusted and reliable source of news across the Redwood Coast region.
Welcome to Humboldt County, and rest assured that we will be watching closely and working tirelessly to help keep you accountable to the high standards of our community. That’s one piece of local news you can definitely count on.
Sincerely, Access HumboldtSean Taketa McLaughlin is executive director of Access Humboldt, a non-profit community media organization managing local cable franchise benefits on behalf of the county of Humboldt, California, and the cities of Eureka, Arcata, Fortuna, Rio Dell, Ferndale and Blue Lake. For more information, visit http:// accesshumboldt.net. To read more about the Sinclair-Bonten deal, visit http://tinyurl.com/ FCC-Sinclair-Bonten.
Thanks to a complaint from a concerned citizen and the questioning of Ryan Burns from the Lost Coast Outpost, it looks like the FBI and the State Attorney General’s office will be looking into the Coroner’s handling of estate properties. And by handling, we mean the most extreme “low-balling” of the purchase price and outright theft of deceased people’s property:
Great “ethical standards” law enforcement!!! Stealing from the dead or potential family members of the deceased is just plain low. But that’s business as usual at the Eureka Police Dept(EPD) and in Humboldt’s Good Ol’ Boy network. Wait, EPD you say? Why would we put EPD into a story about the Sheriff-Coroner sales of property that appears on the face of it illegal? The reason is that former EPD officers (not Sergeants or Lieutenants) Frank Jager and Dave Parris have run the coroner’s office since the nineties!
When we first heard about the selling off of deceased people’s property to county employees, Eureka Mayors, and their family members: we weren’t at all surprised. We’ve been getting tips for years that people who’ve had their property seized in marijuana raids have later seen their ATV’s and trailers being used/owned by the same officers who raided their property. But what the hell could we do about that? Who would believe us? If people in the drug trade don’t complain, the problem would just persist.
However, in this case, we have some hope. At first, we were pretty worried. Newly minted Sheriff William “Billy” Honsal gave an interview to Ryan Burns, in which he talked about the new “investigation” he was calling for. The “independent” investigator would be hired by the HCSO, to look into the corruption that was happening under Billy Honsal’s nose when he was in command or second-in-command at the Sheriff’s office:
In that same article, Honsal was quoted as saying, “I don’t want to get too specific into the investigation because I want the independent investigator at the DA’s Office to evaluate the entire investigation and then make a referral to the DA based upon that, but the idea is there is a government code section that basically says no property shall be sold to any current employees of the Coroner’s Office or Public Administrator.”
Now that quote was when we started to get worried and started asking questions to our sources at the County and City of Eureka. Our worst fears of corruption and potential cover-up had been confirmed, …..that is until today’s announcement from DA Fleming. Congratulations and respect to DA Magie Fleming for requesting the State and Federal Government to investigate this case. Maybe some truth will come out of this investigation and criminals (whether elected or not) will be held to account.
But even before this investigation gets underway, it would be nice for the community to understand who the players involved in this good ol’ boy theft of property were, and why those connections had us so worried about what may happen.
First, we have former EPD officer Frank Jager, currently the Mayor of Eureka, who was the Humboldt County Coroner from 1999 until 2009. Then in 2009, the Department was taken over by Dave Parris. Parris ran the department until it was consolidated with the HCSO in 2015.
Paris and Downey
Interesting to note that both Jager and Parris were police officers at the Eureka Police Department. Neither of them promoted above the rank of officer (?), but both of them ended up running the Detectives Bureau at EPD at different times. Their rise to the top position of County Coroner was filled with lots of glad-handing, favors and out and out corruption. It’s also important to notice that these men went to prayer breakfasts in the morning and then stole from dead people during the day. (Not a big surprise to the Examiner)
To top that off, Billy Honsal, a regular prayer breakfast attendee is the son of William Honsal Sr. William Honsal Sr. was a former EPD Captain who was known for several officer-involved shootings. Honsal Sr. is BFF’s with recently retired evangelical Sheriff Downey, who hired Honsal Jr. from an outside agency as the under-sheriff, groomed him as his heir and then promoted him to Sheriff when he left suddenly and somewhat unexpectedly earlier this year.
But it goes further from there! Until DA Fleming made her bold move the investigation of Jager and Parris would have been under the direction of Chief DA Investigator Wayne Cox. Cox was an officer at EPD before becoming a DA Investigator. Cox was given the Investigator and Chief position by his former boss, Mike Hislop. Hislop was a former EPD Sergeant who got the position of Chief DA Investigator from his father in law, Jim Dawson. Now the EPD connections are obvious here, and there’s clearly a built-in bias if Cox was to head an investigation into fellow former fellow EPD officers Jager and Parris.
But it goes even further from there…. You see, many sources have reported to us that Mike Hislop was a thief of the first order back in his days in power. In fact, we’ve been told that he had a hanger at the Eureka airport filled with lots military surplus gear he obtained when he was a Peace Officer. That gear was supposed to be utilized by the agency he worked for, but there’s been accusations and speculation that the gear never made it to his employers. And military gear was just the tip of the iceberg for tips about Hislops corruption and thefts. So you see why we were a little worried that Hislop’s minion Wayne Cox might not look seriously into corruption and theft.
Hopefully, the FBI looks into this as a very “broad” investigation. Maybe they can flesh out whether the theft/sale of deceased people’s property was an isolated corrupt practice, or was part of a broader theft of community member’s property (such as drug seizures, Military Surplus given to departments, unclaimed property, ect.).
As a side note, this investigation and corruption couldn’t have been a surprise to former Sheriff Mike Downey or soon to be former Chief Andy Mills.
The Examiner has to ask. Did they leave their post’s early knowing shit was about to hit the fan? That’s as good an explanation as any of the questionable statements we heard from them when they announced their departures!!!
Good luck Federal and State authorities, bring your hip boot waders you’re stepping into some deep shit!!!
By Linda Stansberry @lcstansberry
The Humboldt Housing and Homeless Coalition has sent out a press release with information about the most recent Point in Time Count, which took place in late February. The press release charts a general decrease in homeless people tallied across the county, dipping from 1,180 to 618 in t
he last two years, a drop of around 40 percent. Homeless residents in communities from Garberville to Willow Creek were interviewed by volunteers on one day, Feb. 27, in an attempt to document "the number of sheltered and unsheltered homeless people on a single night during the winter."
But the accuracy of the count is a matter of debate. According to the press release itself, it is "not a scientific survey" and a dearth of volunteers for the count may have contributed to lower numbers.
Sally Hewitt, chair of the HHHC, told the Journal that the count got off to a rough start when the original proposed methodology — counting folks in the early morning — was turned down by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. (The count is a HUD requirement.) HUD told HHHC that if they just wanted to get a pure head count, it would have to be done as folks bedded down at night, between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m., a methodology Hewitt said was impractical in the land of "Bigfoot and marijuana grows."
So instead, volunteers visited camps and other areas where homeless folks stay during the day with a more complicated survey system that due to timing, the small number of volunteers and the length of the survey, may have counted fewer people than are truly living outdoors in Humboldt County.
But some homeless advocates, including Nezzie Wade of Affordable Homeless Housing Alternatives, and Debra Carey, who works with the homeless population in Southern Humboldt, see other mechanisms at work.
Wade, who sent the Journal a rough draft of the HHHC's full report, says the total is a "ridiculous number." She and Carey both allege that law enforcement agencies stepped up enforcement on homeless encampments immediately prior to the count. The Journal reached out to the Eureka Police Department and the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office for statements on this claim. EPD Chief Andrew Mills denied it, saying "it is to EPD's benefit to get an accurate count of the homeless." The HCSO did not respond to email from the Journal by the end of the day, but according to Christine Messinger of the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services, Sheriff William Honsal has also denied this charge.
Neither Wade nor Carey could explain why it would make sense to artificially deflate the numbers. Hewitt said this rumor has dogged previous PIT Counts as well and, contrary to perception, the numbers generated do not determine funding for future services.
The numbers from the report, which are, it should be noted, very preliminary and may be refined before a final draft is released later this year, do seem very low. Volunteers counted 206 people sleeping unsheltered in Eureka on the night of the count, 78 in Arcata, 23 in Fortuna, 19 in McKinleyville and Trinidad, 19 in the East County and zero in the Garberville/Redway area. All of these numbers are a sharp decrease from the 2015 count with Eureka's being the most extreme, dropping from 513 to 206. Garberville/Redway residents, who complain regularly on social media about people taking up sidewalk space and living rough in the bushes or along the river bar, might take exception to the analysis that there are no homeless folks in their region.
Carey, who says in the past she has given herself "shin splints" counting people in the SoHum region, says the nonexistent numbers are due to her unwillingness to volunteer this year. Having worked closely with the population in the past, she has conducted many past surveys. She also said there weren't enough preliminary planning meetings prior to this year's count.
Carey also accused law enforcement officers and Caltrans of purposefully disrupting homeless communities just before the count and forwarded the Journal a notice posted near U.S. Highway 101 telling people at an entrenched camp to be out by Feb. 27, the date of the PIT Count.
Reached for comment, Caltrans spokesperson Myles Cochrane denied any intentional disruption of the camps, saying the notices were posted in the interest of public safety prior to the agency doing routine work.
"Any time we have illegal camping along our right of way we have to follow protocol and address the situation in the interest of public safety," said Cochrane. "Of course [we] are allied with [California Highway Patrol], as they are tasked with the law enforcement side of clearing up illegal camp sites on state property. The last thing we’d want is for someone to get hurt or worse because they’re spending time in an area where collisions could occur or where living conditions are bad enough to impact personal and environmental health. So we follow our policy, which is to give three days notice, and then we work with CHP and other agencies to carry out the cleanup of illegal campsites."
The emergency homeless shelter in Ukiah recently closed, forcing many homeless individuals in Mendocino county to wander the streets and sleep outside at night. The closure puts them at greater risk of being ticketed by police for illegal camping.
The city of Ukiah adopted an illegal camping ordinance in 2014, essentially criminalizing camping and homelessness.
Alan Schlosser, Senior counsel of the ACLU in Northern California wrote a letter to the city when the ordinance was on the city council meeting agenda in 2014.:
"...The Eight Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits imposing criminal punishment for a person’s mere status. In Jones v. City of Los Angeles, the Ninth Circuit addressed this issue and held that in the absence of available shelter space, enforcement against homeless people of the City's ordinance which criminalized sitting, lying, or sleeping on public streets and sidewalks violated the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. 444 F.3d 1118, 1131-1137 (9th Cir. 2006).1 Notably, the court concluded, "whether sitting, lying, and sleeping are defined as acts or conditions, they are universal and unavoidable consequences of being." Id. at 1136. ..."
Measure Z Citizens' Advisory Committee Finalizes RecommendationsThe Citizens’ Advisory Committee on Measure Z expenditures this week finalized its recommendations for projects to be funded in Fiscal Year 2017-18. In total, the committee recommended 12 projects to be funded, in addition to projects that require on-going funding. The final recommendations will be included in the county’s proposed budget, which will be presented to the Board of Supervisors on June 6.
The committee is recommending $4.47 million in expenditures, including $1.2 million to the Humboldt County Fire Chief’s Association for equipment; $1.18 million to the Department of Public Works for roads resurfacing; and $438,292 to the Sheriff’s Office for staff and patrol vehicles, among others.
While revenue from tax is estimated at $11.4 million, there is an ongoing cost of $6.63 million due to projects that were funded in the past, like hiring Sheriff Deputies, Deputy District Attorneys and Probation Officers. In addition, roughly $336,000 in one-time funding was rolled over to FY 17-18, adding to the available funding.
In total, agencies submitted 45 applications requesting more than $11.3 million in funding. The committee held five meetings in which it solicited proposals, took public input and evaluated proposals that sought a share of these funds.
The committee sorted these applications in to three categories: “must have,” “need to have,” and “nice to have.” The committee further developed two lists for projects to be funded. The primary list below includes projects the committee recommends be funded first, and is comprised of “must have” projects. The secondary list includes projects that should be considered during the mid-year budget review. If applicants cannot or do not expend their funds during FY 2017-18, the committee is recommending that projects on the secondary list be considered.
PROPOSED HOSPITAL PARCEL TAX INCREASE-MEASURE W-INFORMATION FOR VOTERS
This time it is to be increased to $170 per parcel for 45 years, the total would be 73 million dollars. This would be to pay back a 40 million dollar loan including the interest. We have been told that by 2030 we will have to do an earthquake retrofit that cannot be done at the existing facility so therefore we need to build a new one for 73 million dollars.
First you should have some background information that will help you make this decision. Seismic preparedness levels are listed as 1 through 5. By 2013 hospitals were to be at a minimum of level 2. By 2030 the minimum level is 3. Several years ago, SHCHD performed a retrofit on the existing facility and increased the level from 1 to 2. They would like you to think that this is required by the state or you will have to close your healthcare facility. This is not true. The following is a partial list of hospitals that have not increased their level from 1 to 2, they are still open and serving their communities. They receive payments from MediCal, Medicare and all the other companies that reimburse for healthcare.
Highland Hospital – Oakland
Enloe Medical Center – Chico
Colusa Medical Center – Colusa
Delano Regional Center – Delano
Coast Plaza Hospital – Norwalk
College Medical Center – Long Beach
Community Hospital – Long Beach
Glendale Adventist Medical Center – Glendale
Kaiser Foundation Hospital – Panorama City
Kindred Hospital – Baldwin Park
Kindred Hospital – Gardena
Harbor UCLA Medical Center – Torrance
LA Community Hospital – Bellflower
LA Metro Med Center – LA
Promise Hospital – East LA
Ronald Regan Medical Center – LA
Shriners Hospital for Children – LA
Marin General Hospital – Greenbrae
This partial list of hospitals is from the Office of Statewide Health Planning And Development. This includes small and large facilities. Again, these hospitals have not gone from a 1 to 2 in their seismic upgrades. They certainly will not go to 3. The list of hospitals that have gone to 2 and will not go a 3 will be longer than the previous list.
Spreading rumor and fear in order to gain public approval of this megaproject is in very poor taste. The following has been said: If we don’t build a new hospital, your property values will go down, people will move out of the area, you will die before you can be transported to Fortuna or Willits, businesses in town will suffer, it will damage our schools. None of this is true. The state has no intention of closing any hospital. The existing facility can be used for the next 50 years. We do not need to change the physical facility. People say that the quality of the available services are substandard and that what is offered does not meet their needs. Building a 40 million dollar hospital building will not bring a superior medical staff to Southern Humboldt.
There are other issues. SHCHD claims to need the current parcel tax amount to stay open. A $170/parcel tax is a $45 increase from the current $125/parcel tax. This would provide an additional $430,000 per year in income. The payment per year on a USDA loan of 40 million dollars for 40 years at 3.4% interest is $1.82 million. Seems we are short about $1.37 million per year. Coupled with the fact that the proposed hospital is only a building, not furnished or equipped, the district will have to ask for an additional $300/parcel after construction begins. Frank R Howard Hospital in Willits is a new and equipped 25 bed facility and the cost was $64 million, why is the SHCHD proposal, which is less than half the size, cost so much? In addition, SHCHD says it has 5000 patient visits per year; if the parcel tax increases to $1.63 million per year it means each patient visit will cost the taxpayers $326.
Where do we go from here? I suggest we vote no on Measure W. And then find and elect people who want to improve healthcare first and build the monument second.
Stop Raids Against Homeless
Oakland - A lawsuit filed December 13, 2016 by civil rights groups charges the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) with violating the constitutional rights of homeless people by confiscating and destroying their property in ongoing sweeps. On multiple occasions, Caltrans has failed to give proper notice before raiding encampments—refusing plaintiffs an opportunity to move their belongings before destroying them in trash compactors.
In Southern Humboldt and through out Humboldt county, Caltrans practices the same 'clean-up' procedures, disposing of personal property without warning.
We have 2 plaintiffs from southern Humboldt that have experienced losing everything they own on 3 different occasions. They too will be listed in the lawsuit against Caltrans.
If you have lost private property due to Caltrans actions-
please contact the law offices of:
WILMER CUTLER PICKERING HALE & DORR LLP
KEITH L. SLENKOVICH
950 Page Mill Road
Palo Alto, Ca. 94304
Telephone: 1 (650) 858-6110
Fax: 1 (650) 858-6100
The details of the suit....
The case for protecting the vulnerable among us.
By Dave Meserve
Sanctuary city ordinances will be considered soon by the Arcata (April 5 agenda) and Eureka city councils and efforts are also under way to make Humboldt County a sanctuary county. With the current executive orders limiting immigration and targeting undocumented immigrants with deportation, it is important that we take action to protect those among us who are being threatened.
Although the concepts of "sanctuary" and "sanctuary city" go back more than 1,000 years, the term was first commonly used in the United States during the 1980s when people were fleeing U.S. sponsored, right wing death squads in Central America. Initially, churches stepped forward as "sanctuaries." Then, cities followed, using the same term and offering refuge from immediate deportation to those who had fled war zones and persecution.
Today the term is used to designate policies that limit cooperation between local authorities and federal immigration enforcement agencies.
Sanctuary city ordinances generally include the following regulations:
City resources will not be used to enforce federal immigration law;
City agencies will not share information with federal immigration authorities, nor will federal detainer requests be honored, except with a judicial warrant, or in the case of individuals convicted of serious felony crimes;
City agencies will not provide federal immigration authorities with access to individuals in their custody for questioning solely for immigration enforcement purposes;
City employees will not be deputized by federal immigration authorities;
City resources will not be used to create a federal registry based on race, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability status, religion, ethnicity or national origin;
City agencies will not collect immigration-related information and will ensure nondiscriminatory access to benefits and services;
City agencies will protect the due process rights of persons as to whom federal immigration enforcement requests have been made, including providing those persons with appropriate notice;
City agencies will collect and report data to the public regarding detainer and notification requests from federal immigration authorities, in order to monitor their compliance with applicable laws.
From a law enforcement perspective, being a sanctuary city means that scarce local dollars will not be used to enforce federal immigration laws or to deport community members who may not have all their paperwork in order. If they really must, let the feds do that on their own!
If people are arrested for committing a crime, prosecute them for that crime. There is no need to involve federal authorities.
If people want to sign their kids up for local recreation programs, or for any form of assistance, assure them that the information they provide will only be used for local purposes related to that program.
If an immigrant witnesses a crime or is a victim of one, assure them they can safely give their personal information, without fear of it being passed on to federal authorities.
If there is a local drug raid, don't invite ICE to accompany local law enforcement.
Some who believe that undocumented immigrants should be immediately deported portray them as more likely to commit crimes. In fact, official statistics consistently show that crime rates are lower for immigrants than for native-born American citizens, and high rates of immigration are associated with lowered rates of both violent and property crime.
Opponents of sanctuary cities often say that undocumented immigrants deserve deportation because they have violated federal law, and they question why immigrants don't pursue a legal path to citizenship. Whether an immigrant is undocumented because of crossing the border illegally or overstaying a visa, or being brought here as a child, the path to citizenship is long and difficult and often results in deportation. For job-based immigration, the applicant must have special skills and the employer must file a petition. Unless the immigrant is married to or the next-of-kin of an American citizen, the process of obtaining citizenship involves quotas, long waits (often decades) and uncertain outcomes.
The current administration has threatened to withdraw funding from sanctuary cities but, even if such action is attempted, it is unlikely to survive legal challenges. San Francisco and the states of New York and California are already preparing to fight any federal defunding effort in court and have strong arguments, based on the freedom granted to cities and states under the Tenth Amendment. There are currently more than 200 cities in the U.S. with sanctuary city policies, and many more have joined the effort in the past few months, or are considering doing so.
Locally, we could choose to enact "safe and inclusive" policies and not say "sanctuary city." However, in the current political climate, we should embrace the term and proudly stand up for basic human rights in solidarity with like-minded communities across the nation.
Except for Native Americans, all of us descend from immigrants. Latin American immigrants today suffer the same discrimination that many European immigrants endured in the past. And Muslims today often encounter the same blind hatred that was formerly leveled at Jews and Catholics. Let us keep that bigotry in the past and move on, together, to an inclusive society. Think about the Statue of Liberty. Think about your own heritage. Realize that, as Americans, it is our diversity and our inclusiveness that make us great.
Undocumented immigrants pose no threat to our safety or well-being. Many came here as children. Now, they have their own children, born as American citizens, but the parents may still not have legal status. They are hard working members of our community and the parents of our kids' classmates. Do we really want to deport them and separate them from their children? Instead, we should offer safety and security within our community and a clear path to citizenship.
Arcata and Eureka police protocols already limit sharing of immigration data with federal authorities, but sanctuary city status would send a clear message of safety to immigrant residents and would also make a strong public statement affirming our dedication to human rights in these troubled times. Humboldt County does not have similar protocols and, in fact, under its policy allows deputies to send information to ICE whenever someone is booked into the county jail, no matter how minor the offense.
Senate Bill 504 is also making its way through the California Legislature. It would effectively make California a "sanctuary state." This is an important and positive effort that will hopefully be successful, but it is still important for cities and counties to take independent action to protect the human rights of local immigrants. In these times, we must all stand strong for justice in any way we can.
Please support proposed ordinances that free our cities and county from expending local resources to enforce federal immigration law. Let your council members know that you support becoming a sanctuary city, and let your supervisors know you would like Humboldt to become a sanctuary county.
Dave Meserve is a former Arcata City Council member. If you would like more information or to help with his sanctuary efforts, you can contact him at email@example.com.
Southern Humboldt human rights activist Debra Carey is my guest on
"The Least Among Us," my KMUD radio show about homelessness.
We discuss the terrible impact of living a life of sleep deprivation. We also discuss how sleep deprivation is used as punishment in prisons. Sleeping is a right, outlined in Article 24 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.