It’s Not Murder

Preamble:  My thoughts and prayers to the family of Tommy McClain.  There is nothing he did up to at the very worst a few seconds before the shots that lead to his dead that warranted death.  We all know this and we grieve with you for your loss.

PART I:  My bias

Unless irrefutable evidence is brought forward, Eureka and it’s culture wars will have another wound.

I think we are all familiar with the old school/transplant divide in HumCo.  This culture divide may be something that Eureka and Humboldt have experienced since Europeans arrived here.  But it’s pretty clear the culture wars have been happening with the waves of immigrants this area has experienced within some of our lifetimes.  From the sixties “back to the landers” to the Bay Area economic refugees like myself to 100’s of others with stories that are not easily categorized.

The difference I’m experiencing on the left is not this obvious clash of cultures.  It’s a political clash of cultures which I believe is generational.  In short, I don’t share a default anti-authoritarianism which I believe stemmed from the events of the civil rights era in the south and then was repeated through the Vietnam era.  Those protests were fundamentally different, but the enemy was the same.  It was the status quo and their enforcers.

I hope everyone today see’s the righteousness of the struggles against authority and the hand of authority – the police – was in the South.  Many, including myself, see obvious echos of the protests in Ferguson this Summer.  However, I’m not sure how many of us are less impressed with the ultimate results of the anti-authoritarianism of the Vietnam era.  I’m absolutely for sticking it to the man for a war one fundamentally doesn’t believe in.  I honor and cherish the Ladies in Black who will be (update 12:20 PM – “are”)under the flag at the Courthouse again today at noon protesting our continuing wars in the Middle East and South Asia.  Having said that, there a disconnect in a reactionary anti-authoritarianism that I believe, locally, has it’s roots in the Bay Area in the 1960’s.  No evidence for that, it’s just a hunch.  That is the bias I go into this topic with.

PART II:  Some thoughts on handling Mr. McClain’s death as a community

I think it’s important to acknowledge that Tommy McClain’s death under all but an infinitesimally small possible circumstances could not be considered murder.  And it will not be considered murder when this is all said and done.

One of the first things they teach you – some would say indoctrinate you – with in the Army is the difference between killing and murder.  The officers involved in the shooting that night were on the job and their argument for the killing will be self defence – which we all acknowledge is legitimate in theory (not necessarily in this case of course).

So the question is not about murder, it’s about how a man died, should he have died, and if not how will justice be served.  These are really tough questions and most of us on the left want there to be a fair determination of what happened and consequences and actions to be meted out appropriately – importantly – including the very real option that Mr. McClain only died that night because the officer firing the shots made a mistake.

The best chance we have to find out exactly what happened and to have satisfactory justice served if there was a tragic and deadly mistake made is, ironically, to give Police Chief Mills the space to serve the public by focusing on exactly what happened that night, not on defending one of his own.

So on this Tuluwat Examiner post there are two things that jump out at me that I disagree with.  a) It’s not murder, and b) I question the power and effectiveness of a Citizen’s Review Board.  I think we need to Keep It Simple and have people focus their limited time for civic interest and activities to be focused on our employees who actually oversee (or should if they don’t currently) Chief Mills – The Eureka City Council (not on the internal dynamics of a Citizen’s Review Board which will be more easily to manipulate than the City Council).  Let’s make sure we are putting pressure on the Council for an honest and transparent investigation of what ultimately lead to an unnecessary death of a civilian by those we hired to serve and protect.  Let’s make sure that we the public – left and right – are able to wrap our heads around a situation where a mistake was made by a peace officer.  We ourselves, or even family members of ours, might have made the same mistake – if there was one – given the circumstances.  This is not to say there shouldn’t be serious consequences if it was a mistake – there should be because this potential mistake cost a life.

Rest in Peace Tommy McClain, and deepest sympathies to your family and friends.  You should still be alive today.


The 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs …

… and HumCo/CA Weed Legalization


I wanted to pass along this factoid I happened across this am from a 2012 Kevin Drum post.  I think it’s good to keep in the back of one’s mind as we think about weed legalization.

“Probably nobody cares about this, but there’s a reason marijuana isn’t legal anywhere in the world: the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, an international treaty adopted in 1961. Marijuana is a Schedule I drug under this treaty, which means it’s flatly, totally forbidden. Countries can decriminalize marijuana use, but no signatory to the treaty can legalize either use or cultivation.

So it’s not just a matter of getting either Congress or a state legislature on board for legalization. You’d have to get the United States to withdraw from the 1961 treaty, and that just isn’t in the cards. Decriminalization and wink-wink-nudge-nudge lack of enforcement are about the best we can hope for anytime in the near future.”

I’d imagine, and it is only imagining, that this is one of the unspoken and perhaps unknown reasons legalization doesn’t really come up as a subject nationally.  That and the Moral Majority.

My bias on this is I think we do need to depend on international treaties to help guide growth and development internationally given environmental concerns that don’t understand national boundaries.

Civility: (n) /səˈvilətē/

–  formal politeness and courtesy in behavior or speech.
– The Google.

John, you wrote…

Thanks to Jon and HCDCC members but Linda Atkins needs to learn basic civility

John, Linda needs no such lesson.  Linda was exercising her right and her duty as an elected member of the HCDCC to do what she felt had to be done.  I failed you John as a host as I didn’t do my homework.  Again, for the second time in 2014 – mea culpa.

That said, I think civility is a great subject.  It’s one of the foundations of my blogging/activism and I think it’s foundational to a vibrant properly adversarial political system.

Serendipitously, after reading your screed* John, I searched The Google for “civility”.  Before I could complete the search The Google suggested civil politics which directed me to

The awesome video below was the result.  It includes both Jonathan Haidt AND that inequality graph which the four kind folks who have read a type-word or two of mine might recognize.  I think this video is a great place to start when speaking about civility in politics.  It’s important because it addresses both the “asteroids” or huge common problems we face as a globe and society and it addresses our current hyper-partisanship which simple civility MIGHT help overcome.

So on this most politically divisive of days on our calendar hopefully this video will help point a way forward.  A direction that begins, but importantly, does decidedly not end,  with civility.

Kids – stay in school, stay off drugs, AND DO YOUR HOMEWORK.  I didn’t and I failed first John Chiv and with John’s chosen response, Linda Atkins.   My apologies to both for not doing my homework and avoiding some unpleasantness that didn’t need to happen.

Having said that John, my apology to you ends at, again, your chosen and decidedly uncivil and self-serving response.

*   ie “pitched a fit”, “her beef”, “screeched”, “petty drama queen”, “bully” etc.

The Thin Green Line Between our Rivers and Our Unincorporated County Areas Lives to See Another Day

The Thin Green Line’s scientific name is the riparian zone.  It’s definition was solidified in the GPU with measurements for set backs taken from the “top of bank” – an improvement over the previous language that the Department of Fish and Wildlife representative seemed to be OK with even with the lessening of the set back to 150ft and defining a protection limit of 200 ft.  According to the DF&W employee in attendance, the latter is relatively rare and the top of bank is such an improvement that BR-S5 comes out of this process in decent shape.

Over my head, but what Supervisor said helped sell him on this was that the ministerial process that is part of this language is much less ownerous on property owners than the other process that would entail getting CEQA permits and would start at about $6,000 simply to get the permit process started.

Supervisors Ryan and Virginia joined Supervisors Lovelace and Fennell from two weeks ago in accepting staff’s recommendation on the language of BR-S5.  The compromise came with a maximum setback of 200 ft which probably allayed much of the legitimate fears of the property rights advocates.

On the other hand, the takings rhetoric was shown to be so much falderal as a line could be acceptable to all, property rights advocates simply wanted that line to be as close to the middle of the river as possible without losing the next election.

Here is a link to the Times-Standard article.  Thanks to our local paper for allotting the staff time to be there for the entire proceedings yesterday and to reporter Will Houston for being there.

To see how far we’ve come on this from the dark days of the Planning Commission’s attempt at BR-S5  here is a My Word from local biologist Ross Taylor.

If the set-backs were the one success story – all the rest remains the same.  This Board’s job is to take the previous GPU and insert some common sense language based solely on the input of the largest stakeholders in this process.

TODAY: Candidate Kashkari and the California Republican Ticket in Arcata

And Will Focus on the Middle Class  from The Baywood Golf and Country Club

I wish I could go today.  I highly recommend going to anyone interested in politics – and not to be disruptive or rude, but to really speak and interact with living, breathing Republicans.

CA gubernatorial candidate Kashkari said “middle class” 8 times by my count during the debate Thursday night, no doubt a campaign managers feeble attempt to address his roots in Wall Street.

If you do go, see if anyone is interested in reclaiming the Party of Lincoln.  Republicans do not necessarily have to, nor have they always been the party of Rob Arkley (and his ilk).  They were once and can be again about the middle class – in deeds – not just words.  They have to somehow reclaim their proud heritage and let go of their obsessively tight grip on their idealized image of Reagan (Which, btw, has become a right-wing fantasy of the actual Reagan).

Sid, Uri, Richard, Matthew, Virginia, Rose, Chet, Mike, Frank, Marian, Rex, Ryan, and all other local conservatives interested in politics and government- take back your party and use it to fight for the middle class.  Take it back from the Chamber of Commerce, Rob Arkley, Rob McBeth, Fred Sunquist and other local job creators who have this attitude you can find in the TS today.

“Another thing is, are you talking about minimum wage employees who get tips or minimum wage employees at places like grocery stores who don’t get tips? I’m not going to let an employee make $13 an hour and then get another $4 a hour in tips tax-free”

John Forrest – Eureka’s Hole in the Wall owner.  Which, btw, makes an awesome sandwich and has a wonderful staff – AND a dyed-in-the-wool Republican owner.

Not only should we “let” our employees make $17 an hour, we should be encouraging our workers to make real … living ….      …..      wages.  Conservatives and Republicans, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE read this editorial (second link to same article) and ponder on it.  There is a way forward which would be much more trying and might not result in immediate wins, but it would be worth it.

worth it for yourselves, as you could become a leaders instead of  followers of Rush Limbaugh, Grover Norquist, et. al.,

worth it for the county, as it would help to clean up local politics, and…

worth it for the country, as grassroots in politics is a real and powerful phenomena and if this takes off here, the model could be followed elsewhere.

Think. Speak. Act.



Humboldt Activist

Bill Holmes passed away this weekend.  Most of you probably knew of Bill’s work even if you didn’t know the man.  Bill would have been that bearded man belting out tunes with his guitar and amps at all Measure R/Eureka Fair Wage Initiative events and booths before July 4th.  Bill’s digital identities included highboldtage and the Humboldt Activist.

Bill was one of the handful of people that is Eureka’s Fair Wage Folks.  This group which seemed to form out of momentum from Occupy has created a movement which has done the unthinkable – it has united Humboldt’s progressives, HCDCC Democrats and unions behind our City’s fair wage measure.

Think.  Speak.  Act. in Bill’s memory today.  If you need some direction that Bill might have appreciated, visit and give what you can in time/energy or funds.  They/we are going to have to make up for the void Bill’s passing has left around the Fair Wage meeting table not to mention the hearts of those that knew him.

There will be something of an impromptu and unadvertised musical gathering in Bill’s honor today around St. Vincent Depaul near the back of the Mercer Fraser garage at 35 West 3rd in Eureka between 11 (0r 12) and 3.  Please stop by and groove if you can.

Have a peaceful day Bill.  We miss you.

Will California Bloggers Kill the First Amendment?

John Chiv has linked to his second FOX News post in a month and I think there needs to be a conversation.

Of course the best place for this conversation to take place would be John’s blog, but many of you might have had the same problem I recently had – comments not getting published.

Now, shout out to Richard Marks and Rose Welsh for they have posted every comment I’ve made – even when I disagree with them.  This is sadly not true for John who has not published my last two comments.

So for those of you who are similarly flustered and don’t have the $400 (DireWolf’s comment) it takes to start a blog of your own, please consider this thread for any disagreements you might have with a post of John’s.  We’ll see how this works, maybe I can restart/refresh this thread each month as needed.

Here btw, is the ridiculous spin on a FOX News story for those of you unfamiliar with our local political/crime reporter.

“Will California environmentalists kill the bid for these living wage jobs?”

And John, the offer still stands – any time you are interested in going to an HCDCC meeting I would be honored to have you as a guest.

(For the record, this is not really a 1st Amendment issue.  John has every right to post only the comments of his choosing.)