Time to Act for Free Speech and Peaceful Assembly in Humboldt

This title and the post below comes directly from what seems to be a web site/action alert/blog/email list from Redwood Progressives or Richard Salzman.  I don’t know, but I like it.  This was posted today.  I think we forget the importance of our First Amendment rights.  These rights were circumscribed during the Occupy protests as emergency ordinances.  I think it’s important to make sure they are returned to the rights guaranteed in that little parchment.

Next Saturday the ad hoc committee will be at the County Office of Education from 1pm to 4 pm. Their draft document will be available for public review at 1 pm. Scheduled are informal discussions from 1pm to 2 pm. Then a panel will address written questions until 3 pm and then receive public comment from 3 pm to 4 pm. The event may extend to 5pm. The Office of Education is in Eureka at 901 Myrtle Ave.

WHEN:  This Saturday, 1 PM to 5 PM

WHERE:  County Office of Education:  901 Myrtle Avenue,  Eureka

WHO:  All friends of free speech, democracy, good governance are invited.

WHY:  Because we love this county (and country).

Further information:  There was an earlier post on Sohum Parlance during the summer at the request of Janelle Eggerd.  This might provide some background.

Also, here is a quote from an email I just received from Janelle…

“But whether speaking or writing, it is very important to support removing the interim codes enacted by the “Urgency Ordinance.”   Those codes need to be repealed.” – Janelle Eggerd 9/29/13

YES!

  • PDF on the Comments on the Humboldt Human Rights Commissions August 8th Report.  From Janelle Eggerd.  This is a PDF file from Janelle on my Scribd account.  Here are her comments about it …“I’ve attached what I submitted at the last HRC meeting based on the Aug 1 draft.  Unfortunately everyone else had the Aug 30 draft.  It has been an interesting process.”
  • Humboldt County Human Rights Commission:  From the web site: “The Commission was initially established to aid in the eradication of discrimination in the county specifically in cases of employment, public services and housing. SB 381 expanded the purpose to include discrimination based on race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, marital status, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, civic interest, or other factors.”
  • Occupy Eureka.  A Facebook page.
  • Humboldt’s Independent Observer Program.  I think they play an important role.  I saw one member out at the ArkleyFest watching the arrests of the protesters along with other community members including myself.
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That Was a Confusing, Eventful HCDCC Meeting

I am still making my way through Parliamentary procedure.  Also, I am not able to read minds, so I do not know what half of the controversy at our monthly HCDCC (Humboldt County Democratic Central Committee) a few weeks ago was all about.  Let’s start with what I did understand.

1)  Bob Service was elected Chair of the Humboldt Democrats by a healthy margin.  14 to 9.  Last month Linda Atkins spoke up on behalf Bob, and Supervisor Fennell spoke up on behalf of Jim Smith who is a good union Democrat. I don’t believe Bob’s Chairmanship is in any way a rebuke to unions.  Not from where I stand.  Like most of us Democrats, Bob is a staunch supporter of unions.  Unions are the life blood of Democrats.  It is more about our new conservative or alternative or modern or HumCPR or whatever Democrats vs what HumCPR might call the “radical agenda” Democrats but I would simply call mainstream, middle-of-the-road California Democrats.

2) There was a long and contentious debate that was mostly way over my head about what order we will address items in the agenda.  I think this was based on a fear that the Executive Board had stacked the deck in order to get their way on this or that.  I really don’t know or care, to be honest.

3) The bylaws were changed to allow for Associate Members to be non-voting members of the Executive Board – specifically – Treasurer.  Why?  Because we couldn’t find any Members to step up to the responsibility.  Being the sucker I am I volunteered and since I have not been elected by you all in a honest-to-goodness election, I am only an Associate Member of the HCDCC.  Therefore our rules had to be changed to allow for suckers, err Associate Members to be certain officers of the Executive Board too.

4) I think one of, if not THE reason the order of the agenda was so important was we were deciding whether or not the associate member-officers would get a vote on the Central Committee.  This is important of course because the Central Committee is where we decide, say, on our Chair, who we endorse in campaigns, etc.  Basically the whole Democratic Humboldt ball of wax.  Theoretically HumCPR, for example, (Humboldt Coalition for Property Rights) could stack the deck so heavily that we could one day pass a resolution that we Democrats feel that HumCPR is a valuable contributor to local democracy as it helps to honor landowners.  I don’t know, I’m sure we could find some bylaws that say we couldn’t do such a thing, but it’s just an example of the power of numbers on the Central Committee.

So, when the vote happened to decide whether or not associate members would be allowed a vote in the Central Committee itself, the vote was an overwhelming – “NO” (17 to something, 8 maybe).  Which is good.  Here’s why.  The Members of the Central Committee are directly voted by the electorate.  You may not know this, but they are.  It’s usually way down on the ballot and most people wouldn’t even notice (I didn’t until only recently).  So most often members are directly accountable to the electorate itself.  (Some members are appointed when there are vacancies, etc)  This is an important connection to maintain, especially for Democrats.

Interestingly there was some confusion, and because of my odd position of having a proxy vote, I was not in a position to clear it up.  At first I was in favor of an Associate Member having a vote on the Central Committee for obvious myopic selfish reasons.  But then Bob Service explained to me essentially the reasoning contained in the preceding paragraph, and I changed my mind.  I think most people in that room thought one camp was angling for a power play and an extra vote.  That wasn’t the case and that became clear in the final tally for the amendment to disallow associate members the Central Committee vote.

Sorry for the long post on mostly minutia.  I think it’s important to have as a reference if nothing else.  Also, apologize it took so long to post.  Here’s my theory on that though – I am not impressed with the 24/7/urgent nature of news.  I think real news lasts a long time and ultimately, WHAT’S THE RUSH?  right?

Meet and Greet for Eureka School Board Candidate Lisa Ollivier

Meeting Today!
Meeting Today!

Come meet the candidate, friends, and supporters or Eureka School Board Candidate Lisa Ollivier.  Lisa has been endorsed by both the Humboldt County Democrats and the Eureka Teacher’s Association.  Lisa is taking on ensconced Board President John Fullerton.  Mr. Fullerton is the preferred candidate of our more conservative Humboldt friends and has been there for a while, so I think it’s time we offer him a break.

These 5 W’s are cut and paste from Sohum Parlance.

WHAT:  “Meet and Greet” our ETA, CLC, HCDCC endorsed school board candidate, Lisa Ollivier.

WHEN:  This Friday between 4 and 7:30.

WHERE:  The Labor Temple, 840 E St., Eureka

WHO:  All friends of Labor and Education are invited.

WHY:  Meet the candidate, free food/drinks!  Get a yard sign, sign-up to help!   Meet friends!

Here is the link to the current board.

UPDATE 9/28:  Here is a link to Lisa Ollivier’s statement to the HCDCC.   Also here is John Fullerton’s reelection web page.  I would note the Support John gets from the Chamber of Commerce as well as the endorsements of Democrats Melinda Ciarabellini and Marian Brady.  This says less about John Fullerton’s moderation given the support of two registered Democrats and more about the conservatism of  Eureka Councilmembers Ciarabellini and Brady.  imho.

CORRECTION:  OOPS; Yes,  Erik Kirk found an important correction.  Previously the “Eureka Teacher’s Association” read “Eureka School Board”.

Petition to Protect Health and Human Services’ Programs

Alexis Millbank has set up a petition at Change.org to ask the Board of Supvisors to not take marching orders directly from our dear leader Mr. Arkley.  Good on Mrs. Milbank.  Here is her introduction which you can find here.

On Wednesday, September 18th, one of our community’s wealthiest residents, Robin Arkley, called a public meeting to discuss homelessness.  Before the public meeting, Mr. Arkley composed a message to the community and claimed: “Our City and County are being taken over by the homeless” and that city and county governments and local non-profits “actually encourage the homeless to come here and stay here.”

Please take a moment to digitally sign the petition.  I don’t know Mrs. Milbank (yet – hope to someday) but she commented yesterday and I wanted to give her efforts as much publicity as I could.

I believe we can walk and chew gum.  I say sign the petition and also take Mr. Arkeley up on his efforts.  We do want our community to focus on our local human rights debacle we call homelessness.  Join the Arkley’s committees and work from the inside to come up with real solutions, not just ordinances to brush the homeless further down the track and minimize services.  Homelessness is an intractable problem which deserves deep thinking and solutions.  Mr. Arkley needs our help to find those solutions.  OH, AND sign the petition too.

Yes, The Dispensary Ban Meeting Is Cancelled. Which Is a Good Thing.

For those interested in the dispensaries staying open.  NCJ has coverage here.

Eureka City Council to Address a Dispensary Ban Tomorrow

This is a special request post by Eureka City Councilwoman and strong progressive Democrat Councilwoman Linda Atkins….

 

Please come and let your views be known.

For those of you who don’t get the Paper (a few I think), I wanted to let you know that the Eureka City Council has a Medical Cannabis Dispensary Ban on our agenda for a Special Meeting tomorrow Thursday September 26 at 5pm. We spent many months drafting and refining an ordinance that would allow people to purchase medical cannabis from legal sources in our town. Now, even after the California Supreme Court ruled that cities have the right to regulate medical cannabis and the DOJ has specifically mentioned local ordinances regulating medical cannabis as being a step in the right direction in keeping criminals from profiting from the sale of medical cannabis, the City of Eureka has a ban on a Special Meeting Agenda.

How does this happen? We had not one negative testimony from the public during our consideration of the ordinance. Please come and let your Council know how you feel about this.

Linda Atkins
Eureka City Council, Ward 2

BatDad! (and Quick GPU GP Review) (UPDATED 9/29)

Via Tor.com, BatDad!  Who knew that he was also a great (or arguably obnoxious) dad too.

UPDATE 9/29/13:  BatDad’s greatest hit’s video was removed.  No matter, just Google BatDad vines.  Look for a compilation, they are great.  To make up for it, here is a primer on football English Premier League style from a post I made in the comment section.

Also, Board of Supervisors meeting on the GPU was last night (worth a look see if you didn’t go – check out the Raging Grannies especially as the first public speakers in the evening session).  More on that later but the TS has good coverage in today’s paper.  Spoiler alert, to a man (and woman) the Board did OK.  I was pleasantly surprised given the board’s 4-1 pro-private majority.  Kudos to them and everyone that showed up.  It was a good night for democracy.  Not done yet though, we left off at Guiding Principle #6.  The two whose meaning where most changed by the rewrite are on deck.  That milestone counter will change again later today to note the next GPU GP meeting on Oct. 7.  I’ll have to find out if or when there will be another public comment period.  It may be that there will only be a open public comment period at the beginning of the day.  We’ll see.  I don’t think it’s time to relax just yet.  Given the importance of the upcoming principles, I would strongly argue for another robust showing.  I think the public outcry did have an effect – good on everyone in that room last night. (With the exception of those paid to be there by private concerns – you don’t need any more thanks, I mean you are already being paid, right?)

UPDATE:  Good coverage by the NCJ.

Do You Plan to Comment at Tonight’s BOS Meeting?

BOS = Board of Supervisors meeting of course.  Tonight is the night when the BOS is going to revisit their draft of the Guiding Principles.   

Here is what I might say tonight at the Board of Supervisors General Plan Update meeting covering the Guiding Principles.  Are you going to join the fun?  Are you planning to speak?  Good luck if you do and I hope to see you there.

 

My interest in the General Plan Update is in the name – Plan. I believe with a modicum of planning we could solve a host of seemingly unrelated problems and make life in the North Coast easier, more fulfilling and yes sustainable – environmentally and economically. If we focused on the PLAN aspect of the General Plan, we could work toward more livable spaces, less reliance on automobiles, choice in new housing, maximizing our county’s resource potential, protecting and preserving our ecosystem values, and even maintaining and creating jobs.

I believe with a little planning we could have our cake and eat it to. But this is not the path this Board has chosen to take by deconstructing the previously written principles. Of course we know why, elections have consequences and as Louis DeMartin said as the first speaker during the June 3rd Board of Supervisors meeting “The other four of you (outside of Supervisor Lovelace) …were elected to do the will of the Humboldt people who put you in there.” The question I have is, why four?

Of course Mr. DeMartin is right. He predicted the straw vote count accurately, but how did he know? I mean two of you are Democrats, and two are Decline to States. Mr. DeMartin might argue that all four of you ran to the right of your opponents on property rights issues and all won your elections, so what is the problem?

The problem is that despite Supervisor Bohn’s denial, there are hidden agendas. The first is of course hidden in plain site. This process is run by the stakeholders who are the property owners themselves and the construction and financial support industries that want to have as much elbow room as possible when it comes to governmental oversight. Specifically, many real estate agents, many developers, many mortgage brokers, many contractors, etc. have vested interests in a more lenient set of principles that focus on property rights over sustainability or livability concerns.

But there is another hidden agenda that is also in plain site whose influence is similarly not getting any coverage. In a word, weed. If one takes the time to read Lost Coast Outpost or listen to KMUD one begins to understand the importance and influence of this very profitable agricultural product. We often only think about weed in terms of crime because most of the news reports are about the enforcement aspects, but the influence from the state sanctioned growers has become so great that I believe this is how you can explain two Southern Humboldt Supervisors from different poles of the political spectrum coming together to deconstruct the previous set of principles in favor of maximizing flexibility.

Maximizing flexibility is Supervisor Bohn’s chosen phrase and is in my opinion another way to say relinquishing planning in favor of the private sector’s will to do what they see fit. The public is forced to take a back seat and trust that the private sector will assume responsibility of building appropriately given society’s greater interests, but this is of course setting us up for failure. Private concerns are rightly interested in their own bottom line.

Back to the connection with weed. The growers prefer maximum flexibility because with lax building codes and planning mandates there will also be less reason for the government to be involved in their business. And as marijuana is still illegal, at least federally, minimizing governmental attention is absolutely necessary to many grower’s business interests.

We are going to have these strange political bed-fellows until marijuana is legalized. In the mean time, I hope that as a society we try to understand the forces at work in our local politics. We need to be honest with ourselves and our constituents and always work toward a robust public debate. Unfortunately this process (and btw this meeting by my Supervisor’s own admission) is not and has not been an example of a robust public debate.

 

 

Times-Standard Covers GPU Guiding Principles

First of all, thank you TS and Supervisors for taking time to cover the GPU GP.  I have been looking all summer long, and this is the first time I’ve found any of the Supervisors addressing their opinions of the Guiding Principles in particular.  As I’ve written before, its been somewhat of a blackout.

Some thoughts…

  • First from Supervisor Sundberg.  “They’re so general that they don’t really mean a whole lot.”   OK, so why vote for a change made by two of your colleagues rather than keeping the original Guiding Principles developed with robust public participation?
  • From Supervisor Rex Bohn.  “We’re not going to turn into Santa Rosa.  In 1960, the county had a population of nearly 105,000, now we have a population of nearly 135,000.”  It’s not about the number of people.  It’s about the effect that even a small number of people can have on our surroundings.  Whether it is our asphalt footprint, our carbon footprint or the effects of forestry, agriculture and industry, even small populations like ours can have a huge impact on the environment – local, regional, and global.
  • Supervisor Bohn again “I don’t have an agenda. There are no hidden agendas. The doors are always open. People can come in, talk and say how they feel. What we’ve done is opened up a dialogue.”  “Maximizing flexibility” is an agenda.  Gutting the democratic process and enacting extremely partisan changes to the Guiding Principles while denying anything is happening is having an agenda.
  • Supervisor Bass:  “Some people haven’t brought forward solutions. They’ll say, ‘We shouldn’t do X’ or ‘We shouldn’t do Y,’ but there are some constructive ideas in there.”  *sigh*
  • But of course the biggest whopper of them all comes, as usual from Supervisor Fennell.  “It’s important that policies reflect a cross-section of the community.”  Puh-lease.  The only cross-section she seems to be sampling is her friends in Sohum growing weed (still always illegally federally -that is why she can’t bring it up), and her old colleagues at HumCPR.
  • Of course, leave it to Supervisor Lovelace to be the only example that I can find of a Supervisor addressing specific principles.  He addressed the 5th and 6th principles.  I recommend heading over to the TS to check out the article.

One note.  I don’t know if this statement from the TS is technically true.  “While the revisions have not been referenced during subsequent General Plan meetings”.  There was one BOS meeting I attended where I heard Supervisor Sundberg reference the Guiding Principles when he was searching for, well, guidance.  I noticed this because I wasn’t sure which set of Guiding Principles he was referencing.

Anyhoo, those are some thoughts.  Hope to see you tomorrow.

3 Days to the GPU Guiding Principles Meeting. Reviewing Supervisor’s Responses and Some Final Thoughts

So, 3 weeks ago I posted a version of a letter I sent to the four Supervisors that voted for a new version of the General Plan update Guiding principles.  The only response I received was from Supervisor Bohn.  My Supervisor, the 4th district’s Virginia Bass, had said she would try to respond, but in the end could not – at least not in a timely manner that would have allowed for dialog.  I don’t really blame any of them, firstly because most of them do not represent me, and secondly because the questions were difficult and I’m sure they would rather not have the answers in writing.

In summary the question where: 1)  Why was the new version superior, principle by principle, phrase by phrase? and 2)  How long should the new guidelines last once passed?

Here is Rex’s (non) answer, but at least he had the courtesy to respond to the question.

There has been quite a bit of public input since the adoption of Guiding Principles in 2004, and in talking with a lot of people their input was not considered or simply ignored in public process pre 2004. There is now a draft set of Guiding Principles that has been presented and straw voted now we will have more input and all will be listened to. I have heard an overwhelming,  enthusiastic  voice of support on the new draft which was not an overwhelming difference as some stayed as written. The whole idea is dialogue and a plan that has Maximum Flexibility, (caps his, underline mine – dJon) protects the environment, and preserves property rights, Let us Hope for the Best,  Rex

Here’s Supervisor Bohn on the purpose of the 6/3 meeting.  “All this is is a point of discussion, this doesn’t mean we are going to print these in stone or anything else.  And obviously we’ve opened up a dialog.”  (2 hr 53 min)  Also, here is where I first heard Supervisor Bohn’s catch phrase.  “Maximize flexibility are probably the two neatest words I’ve heard through this whole process.”(2 hr 54 min)

My question is, if the Board of Supervisors representing the public decides to maximize flexibility, who benefits?  A:  Private interests.

Follow up question…  How is a plan a plan if it allows for maximizing flexibility?  Are not the two concepts contradictory?

As Supervisor Fennell did not respond to my question, here is the best quote I can find for a reason she gives for the changes.  Nothing specific mind you, we will not know why this or that phrase was added, but we do have this catch-all explanation…

“All we are trying to do is to make this work for the majority, for the whole.”  (2hr 49 min)

How do you know this Supervisor Fennell?  How are we to hold you accountable?

Ryan Burns has a good review of this process in the North Coast Journal.  Included is a link to a staff report pdf file that demonstrates the relatively open and transparent decision-making process that resulted in the previous version of the Guiding Principles.  Unless the Board of Supervisors decides to change course, the version we are finally stuck will not made any equivalent effort for public education or participation and will not consist of any paper trail what-so-ever.  But this is the type of public process that in the end the Dan Taranto and Bonnie Blackberry’s of the world really wanted – the type of public process that resulted in the set of principles they preferred.  Whether the public was actually involved is neither here-nor there.