Thursday, October 23, 2014

Great Quote by Ryan Sundberg concerning Cannabis Summit.

Great story in Times Standard this morning. But a simple statement by Humboldt County 5th District Supervisor Ryan Sundberg explaining Humboldt County Cannabis Voice-Humboldt type cannabis farmers, "They are saying, 'We want to be regulated, we want to be taxed, help me help you figure out how to make that happen!"

It is not that simple, but it was a huge step forward as yesterday I witnessed 35 stakeholders work together to find consensus on many of the main land use issues. I actually finished a draft of the Ordinance last night and sent it off to our legal "Draft Team" to massage and move forward. I am excited to be a part of the process to help growers who want to do clean growing practices. I am not supportive of trespass grows or grows using illegal pesticides or that divert water illegally. I feel we are headed in the right direction.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Epic Cannabis Summit tomorrow at Wharfinger.

California Cannabis Voice-Humboldt will be hosting 35 cannabis stakeholders (People with interest or concern, in this case Board of Supervisors, Planning Department, Environmental groups, Medical Industry, Business Owners and Cannabis Farmers.) participating in a critical process that will create a Humboldt County Ordinance setting reasonable cannabis agricultural guidelines for growing. Those stakeholders will help craft the guidelines in the form of the Ordinance "on the run" while being lead by Professional Bay Area Facilitator Dr. Debrorah Pruitt. The "Draft" of the Ordinance will be created by committee with renown attorney Dorgi Roberts, a former Deputy City Attorney of San Francisco, leading the process. The "Draft" of the Ordinance will be vetted by the public with the first planned forum hosted by the Blue Lake Rancheria at the Sapphire Palace November 6th in the form of a panel discussion. This is a chance to Decriminalize the reasonable cannabis growers by Legitimizing their processes and letting them be Humanized by coming out of the shadows and contribute taxes to the County.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Please support Measure S. Samoasoftball putting money where his mouth is.

 I am asking you all to support school bond Measure S. It is a benefit to the children currently in the Eureka City Schools system and will pave way to a better quality of education for the future. Yes, I realize there was a bond measure in 2002 that is not paid off, but don't punish the current children or staff for ills of the past administration. Yes, I went to school in Eureka. And I own property in Eureka so I will be helping foot the bill.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Eureka Rotary hosts Eureka City Council Forum!


The Eureka Rotary club with help of the League of Women Voters (LOWV) hosted a Eureka City Council candidates forum.  Challengers Kim Bergel (KB) and Natalie Arroyo (NA) were present as were incumbents Mike Newman (MN) and Chet Albin (CA). Questions were filtered by the LOWV. The first question was:

What do you see as the biggest problem or Challenge in Eureka?
 KB said there were three problems, homeless, addiction and the economy.  She pointed out solutions such as streamlining permitting processes, developing the port and build on strengths. MN pointed out problems doing business in the county.  Spoke about homeless solution through Community Homeless Improvement Project (CHIP).  CA spoke of a recent 4million dollar budget cut. Need to find revenue sources. NA said we need to focus on a diverse economy and not put all our eggs in one basket. She is running on jobs issue. Would like to see a ten year strategy including medical residency, tech jobs and beautifying the area while using targets of opportunity such as using the General Plan for industrial development.

Measure R may send businesses out of town, what will you do?   
MN “This is the elephant in the room and the question of the day!” Pointed out the movement was driven by Occupy Eureka and it was already hard to do business here. NA said there was a need for higher wages and added the need in the county. KB completely supports Measure R and said it would take people off welfare, creates more taxes and empowers people. “What we are doing now not working!” CA “What if they leave? Not much we can do.” Said it could cost hundreds of jobs and lower the tax base and close more businesses. 

Did you or would you have agreed to give Eureka Department Heads a raise considering Eureka budget issues?
NA “We need a talented staff.” Said there was a need for system upgrading.  CA said there was research done several years ago on how to attract department heads. Not many apply to Eureka. He said he would have reluctantly voted for the raises. MN reiterated the need to attract decent workers. That has been the goal the last few years. Said there was police reporting upgrades. KB “Look at what we got!” Said the city was forward thinking.

Do you support crisis training for the mentally ill?  
CA “Yes, we need intervention” Brought up homeless issue and CHIP. KB “Absolutely.”  She said this subject was a black eye to our community for improper training. “Treat people with dignity and respect!” NA “Absolutely.  Need to deal with the challenges and the gaps between County Mental Health and Health care. Don’t put ill people back out in the street! “ MN Was in agreement and said Mental Health working with patrol officers in training important.

Do you support Measure Q?
NA “Yes. It is only an extension of existing tax.” Does not want to see elimination of city jobs. MN “Yes. In 2010 we thought we wouldn’t need to, but we didn’t get new business.” He said that 71% of the Measure “O” money went to law enforcement. Also said that not having the extension would eliminate “POP.” KB “Absolutely.” She has done ride-along with both Police and Fire. Pointed out leaky roofs and need of turnouts. Not a new tax. CA “I support “Q. If it fails we will lose POP, 9 traffic officers and 6 Firemen. Response for services will be slowed down."

What can you do strategically to solve homeless?
MN “We are working on the problems, and now implementing solutions such as Motel Ordinance service calls.” NA Pointed out that Homeless sometimes comes in stages such as living in a car as first step. Need to examine substance abuse element.  CA “CHIP has come a long way.” Need to look for solutions to long term hospital stays with alternate medical housing.  KB “Never going to eradicate the homeless.” Advocates use of Betty Chin programs and rapid housing programs.

Will consolidating Fire Department help?
NA “I need to know more. I thought we were already. Said she will do more homework.” KB Said she was confused by question and would do homework. MN “It has happened and has saved the city $185,000.” CA “Yes. It has happened already and the savings is helping the Fire Departments.

Closing Statements
NA Identified Labor endorsements and other individuals and the Democratic Central Committee. Respectfully asked for peoples vote. CA Lived many years in Eureka and wants to continuing giving back and has served on the Planning, Housing and Parking commissions. MN Wants to keep moving forward and provides “More bang for the buck.” Has been the leader in consolidating departments and promotes more business through developing a deep water port with living wage jobs. KB Promotes change with 21st Century thinking. Wants to break barriers that separate the community. She says she works well with others and points out the need to work together.  

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Sending hair off to Locks of Love. Probably last time.

My hair is getting too thin and silver as I get older. So this just might be my last foray into growing my hair for Locks of Love. It left me looking like this:

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Dredging prices affect gas prices? CMANC meeting.

I recently attended a California Marine Affairs and Navigation Conference (CMANC) in San Francisco. They are a gathering of California harbors, ports and marine interest groups. It originated in the 1950’s. The mission of CMANC is to optimize California maritime benefits by providing advocacy for the maintenance and improvement of California harbors, ports and navigation projects. CMANC works with the California legislature and congressional delegation to make sure that California maritime interests are supported by the federal and state government to the greatest extent possible. CMANC address such issues as beach erosion, dredging impact, and taxing policies on navigation, seeking regulatory reforms, and to assure adequate recognition of the importance of commercial navigation, fisheries and water-related recreation. This was my first meeting.
The first presenter was Mark Toy Brigadier General of the Army Corp of Engineers. He is the commanding General for the South Pacific Division. Faced a 25% reduction of staff but still optimistic to be able to do the job. He plans to visit all 27 California Ports and Harbors. The Corps dredge 10million cubic yards annually and remove 1,200 tons of debris from SF Harbor alone!
The first panel discussion was on Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL’s) and Dredge Placements. Talk was around Regional Monitoring Programs and whether testing frequency should be considered or averaging period. Lots of threshold numbers were introduced. Beneficial reuse of Dredge materials was another topic with mostly roadblocks such as clean material vs. bad and lack of lands that material can be barged to. Steve Low from the Port of Oakland gave some statistics from his port. They dredge 100,000 cy a year for 2.7 million. Problem is fewer disposal sites and costs are on the rise. Then a presentation is done by the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project in Fremont who needs lots of material! So that should solve issue, right? Nope.
In the afternoon we had a presentation about the replacing of 2 wharves at Redwood City. They removed 850 timber pilings with creosote and replaced with concrete. They addressed Sea Level rise issues by estimating 1.5 feet by 2060 and also accounted on seas surges also. The price adjustments for the inclusion of Sea Level rise mitigation was minimal at $505,000 out of a 16.8 million dollar project.
Later was a update on the damage caused by a recent Hurricane in Mexico to the Long Beach Breakwater. There are actually three separate breakwaters and there was significant damage. This caused all sorts of havoc to the Port of Long Beach. I had no idea.
The next morning the Honorable 24th District Assemblyman Richard Gordon, who is the chair for the Select Committee on Sea Level Rise, gave an update. He is also on the Budget committee and suggested a placeholder in the budget for sea level rise. When the item went to the Senate, they actually funded the item. They are starting a state wide data base to collect information.
The last panel discussed Dredge issues.  In San Francisco the cost range for disposal is between $10.55 a cubic yard and $55.67. Options are Alcatraz, ocean and landfills.  They dredge 200,000 cy a year. If they were able to use in bay disposal site their cost would be 2.1 million. If they have to do 20/40/40 or 20% in bay 40% ocean based and 40% landfill it would cost 5.4 million. Using the same methodology the cost to move the 3 million cy dredged in all of San Francisco bay it would cost over 80 million dollars! In the past it was 32 million dollars. For pier 39 the next dredge cycle could go from 892,000 to 2.5 million and would put the district in bankruptcy, as they only have 280 slip or lease owners. The Chevron Refinery in Richmond processes nearly ¼ million barrels of oil daily. They supply fuels for 65% of the jets in the bay area and produces 100% of the base oils on the west coast! And they also have dredging issues. Their dredge cost from 2002 to 2012 has more than doubled to 4 million dollars. Doesn’t take a genius to figure those additional costs go to consumers. That would be us!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Hey California Redwood Workers! Do an ESOP!

A few years ago a I implored my fellow workers to take destiny in their own hands and do an Employee Stock Option Plan buyout of the Pulp Mill. Now I am asking the old Simpson Korbel Mill (California Redwood) Workers to consider since they were told today the mill was up for sale for 2 million. Here is a My Word from 2004. Kind of prophetic and relates to this situation.

MY WORD-Richard MarksEmployee Ownership can save Pulp Mill

As a long time forest product worker at Stockton Pacific Enterprises pulp mill in Samoa, I am deeply concerned that my community is missing a once in a lifetime opportunity today in the management shakeup and potential sale of the mill.

Many people do not know that the Stockton Pacific Enterprises Pulp Mill is the only certified totally chlorine free (TCF) pulp mill operating in North America and the only operating pulp mill in California. Our raw material is wood chips, our product is virgin pulp and our market is worldwide.

Over 150 good jobs with benefits that add wealth to the community are directly dependent on the mill, and many more local Humboldt businesses and jobs are indirectly affected by the viability of the mill.

The Stockton Pacific Enterprises Pulp Mill is undergoing another turnover of owners and management. Already workers have given up 15 percent of our monthly wages (around $100,000 per month) in the hope that the mill will not be closed.

Several years ago we reduced our workforce by over 50 employees to cut costs to preserve the company. We have given and will give more to make this mill viable.

We owe the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District (HBMWD) $600,000 in back payments for water, and if we close down we will never pay; the mill represents 45% of the monthly revenue of the HBMWD which would be borne by increased rates to residents if we close. PPM Finance (an American bank in Chicago owned by a British company) has a 17.5% interest loan which management cannot pay and the threat of foreclosure is very real.

We workers want to buy out our mill and operate it successfully. We can do this successfully through a mechanism called an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). We need time to develop a feasibility study and we need community support. We need our local legislators to sponsor legislation giving chlorine free pulp and paper products preferential status in state purchasing to assure a steady local market for our pulp. We need the Headwaters Funds and our economic development leaders to get behind and ESOP feasibility study and local ownership of the mill.

Think what a better situation we could have today in Humboldt County if our community had successfully supported an ESOP buyout of Pacific Lumber when Hurwitz and Maxxam rode into town in the 1980’s. We don’t want another round of foreign management: with a locally managed ESOP, it can be different this time.

An ESOP could provide for at least a 35% ownership, with two employee members on the board of directors; there would be profit sharing; democratic decision making; wages and benefits would be competitive with the industry; worker input on production; sound environmental stewardship and attention to worker safety; job retention; lobbying for greater production and sales of chlorine-free paper products.

We could work toward the conversion or development of the plant to include the manufacture of chlorine free finished paper products to create even more living wage jobs for the community.

To make all this happen, we need a working partnership with the HBMWD, an agreement which helps keep the district solvent without putting extra costs on local customers.

We need better communications between workers here at the plant and our community. We have a long term work investment here. The average worker has been at the plant over 20 years. We want to make this plant sustainable in good times and bad. I believe that an ESOP plan is the best way for direct worker involvement and investment in the future economic viability of this industry. We have a number of excellent models to work from, including the recent ESOP implemented by the Association of Western Pulp and Paper Workers (AWPPW) Blue Heron Paper in Oregon, and the very successful union ESOP at Blue Ridge Paper in North Carolina. We have the resources, the people and the desire to succeed.

But the Stockton Pacific Enterprises Pulp Mill workers and local 49 cannot do this alone. We are asking the community for involvement and input. What kind of economic future do we have here in Humboldt County?

One of the alternatives is foreign management, like the potential Chinese owners or the British bank investors or Pacific Lumber’s Maxxam. Another alternative, one I prefer, is local ownership with real democratic worker participation in an ESOP.

We can choose the future direction and economic development of our community, and we need to act now to make it happen or we will lose this opportunity forever. The workers of Local 49 ask for your support and input.