City of Eureka cuts nearly $1 million from police department in order to make payments on CALPERS retirement plans

You know how the City of Eureka seems to have a pretty bad problem when it comes to all things crime? From petty theft, to violence, to lighting transients on fire – these sure seem like times when the people of Eureka would sleep more soundly at night knowing that their City government is doing all that they can to ensure the streets are safe and adequately policed.

But it also seems like the City of Eureka just doesn’t care about making life easier, or safer, for residents. Here’s a breakdown of how drastically the City of Eureka has been curtailing the Police Department’s ability to deal with a very difficult city  – and some conjecture on just what kind of cuts the City of Eureka can anticipate in the future.

For the fiscal year of 2015-2016, (FY 15/16) the Police budget was cut by $834,000. Which is a big, big deal in a community as small as Eureka. But we don’t think that the City of Eureka really wants to cut the police budget, even if they are idiots. It’s just that they can’t afford to do anything else.

You see, the reason they’re raiding the police department’s coffers is because one certain expense will continue rising at an incredible rate over the next decade. That expense, of course, is the money owed by Eureka to CALPERS so that they can continue to pay off their enormous debt from pensions. And the payments are only going to get worse.

Check this:

FY 15/16 PERS catch-up funding: $921,038

FY 16/17 PERS catch-up funding: $1,022,325

FY 17/18  PERS catch-up funding: $3,130,314

FY 18/19 PERS catch-up funding (projected): $3,673,486.

That’s a four year total of $8,747,463, folks. In additional payments.

That’s right,  the payments listed above only represent the “catch-up” payments due to CALPERS from Eureka, and not the total amount that they are actually paying into the program. Those numbers are far, far higher.

Eureka already had to slash close to a million dollars from their police budget in order to meet the demand of CALPERS payments – and even then, the police cuts didn’t totally offset the money owed by the City.

So what happens over the next three years, when the additional money Eureka has to pay to CALPERS will more than triple?

What do you think is next on the chopping block as the money directed towards Eureka’s CALPERS catch-up funding siphons off more of the public’s resources? We’ll have more on that for later this week.

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Crider makes sweet escape as Harbor District spirals the drain towards bankruptcy

The Humboldt Bay Harbor District’s Executive Director  Jack Crider announced that he’ll be leaving his post in October for a job in New Mexico.

Sort of.

At the end of his current contract, Crider is bailing on the Harbor and moving full-time to New Mexico, where he was allowed to phone it in for his position over at least the last year. This would be good news for the Harbor District, except that he’s not actually leaving.

Per a Times-Standard article from last week, Crider will continue his work for the Harbor District as an outside consultant through the foreseeable future.

Don’t be fooled by the positive spin that the Harbor Commissioners put on Crider’s time as the Executive Director. All three sitting commissioners that were with the District when Crider was hired sung his praises to the Times Standard, and well they should. Crider was instrumental in quite a few decisions that aligned with the Commissioners’  interests – and pushed the Harbor further towards the brink of disaster at the same time.

Greg Dale, who helped bring Crider in, had this to say:

““I think we’re lucky to have had him as long as we did. I’m grateful for everything he did. I think we have come a long way in the harbor district. A lot of things on our plate. I think the future looks good, largely in thanks to Jack.”

Dale should be very pleased, considering that the company he’s in charge of – Pacific Choice Seafoods – got a really sweet deal from the Harbor District for their oyster farming operations. But Dale seems to have forgotten that what’s good for Pacific Choice Seafoods isn’t necessarily good for the harbor.

Take stock of Crider’s allegedly visionary projects for the Harbor Districts. We have the complete snafu that is the lack of dredging in Humboldt Bay (which still isn’t completed, and is costing boatloads of cash), which stemmed directly from the Harbor District’s decision to buy a million dollar dredge that just can’t dredge, both because it’s a piece of crap and because laws that the Harbor were totally aware of forbid it’s use.

And oh yeah, we’ve also got the time when Crider blatantly went against County law by leasing space owned by the Harbor District to businesses that just shouldn’t be there.

Commissioner Richard Marks said of Crider that: “There are other people who would say, ‘We lost’ and turn around and walk away. Jack does not accept defeat. … He’s a problem solver. He finds solutions.”

When your Executive Director’s response to regulatory hurdles is to break the law, is this something we should really be celebrating? Counting only the three things THC touched on, Crider was complicit in a potentially major conflict of interest, failure to uphold the District’s duty to maintain the bay, and law-breaking. All of that on top of gross financial mismanagement.

And now, after he’s finally leaving the harbor in desperate straits, our Harbor Commissioners’ response is to keep paying him more as a consultant so he can continue to screw us all over? Sweet deal for Crider, we guess.

Too bad our harbor, and our Harbor District, are still screwed.

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If you don’t own a home now, you might have missed the boat entirely

You probably know by now that THC loves to keep tabs on the worsening housing shortage in California.

If you’ve been paying attention at all, you know that California’s housing inventory is falling far short of the mark. According to San Jose’s The Mercury News, if you don’t own a home now you just might never own one. And it’s going to get even harder for you to even find an apartment, too.

Here’s a link to a Mercury article from a few day ago that goes into the dire housing straits in California: California’s housing crisis – it’s even worse than you think

Some highlights? Well…(paraphrased from the article)

  • The state estimates that it needs to build 180,000 homes annually just to keep up with projected population growth and keep prices from escalating further out of control. For the past 10 years, the state has averaged less than half of that. In no year during that span did California crack the 100,000 barrier.
  • Rising rents are contributing greatly to rising homelessness. Between 2015 and 2016, California saw an increase of about 2,400 people. California accounts for about 12 percent of the nation’s population, but more than 20 percent of the nation’s homeless live here.
  • Gentrification in big cities is pushing low-income folks out of their homes. (Of course, this isn’t a problem in Humboldt, as anyone with at least one eye could tell you.)

And then there’s this: “The McKinsey Global Institute found that housing shortages cost the economy between $143 billion and $233 billion annually, not taking into account second-order costs to health, education and the environment. Much of that is due to households spending too much of their incomes on the rent or mortgage and not enough on consumer goods.”

Ouch. Good thing our state government is working hard to correct the situation, right? Not so much, as it turns out. Although there are a slew of bills that are aimed at correcting the problem, they’ll all fall short.

Lawmakers recently suggested a $9 billion dollar housing bond – but the nonpartisan Legislative Analysts Office says it will take more than $250 billion to fix the problem. For those not counting at home, our legislators are falling $241 billion short of the mark with their misguided efforts.

The answer? Well, it’s to build more housing, assholes.

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City Manager Greg Sparks’ “oral sexual favors” comment on Squires puts Eureka in a great position to lose another lawsuit

While most folks are focused on the fallout for slum lord Floyd Squires’ Blue Heron Hotel burnt down, THC’s interest got stirred up by the official statement from the City of Eureka a week later, issued by none other than Eureka City Manager Greg Sparks.

Long story short, the City of Eureka said that a woman burned the Blue Heron down because Squires had promised a woman  an apartment in return for oral sex, but never provided her the apartment after giving her the money shot. (Visit LoCO for a more in-depth write-up.)

With the way the City of Eureka has been (justifiably) targeting Squires over the past several years, we honestly wouldn’t be too surprised to learn they are jumping for joy over such a great chance to rake him over the coals.

But City Manager Greg Sparks may have gotten a little over-excited at the prospect of really sticking it to ol’ Floyd. His statement, on behalf of the City of Eureka, that “allegedly over lack of payment for sexual services by Mr. Squires,” seems pretty out of place for an official government communication.

Now, THC certainly does not want to excuse Squires’ long history of exploiting low-income individuals and, in general, being an all-around scumbag. But the headline from the LoCO’s post about the event from this past Friday seems to  suggest that Squires isn’t the only scummy person involved in the situation:The City of Eureka has made plenty of questionable decisions in the past. But the City Manager making an official statement detailing on how the arson suspect started the blaze in retaliation after not being compensated for oral sex is just plain bonkers. THC feels the need to point out that not only is that accusation based off uncorroborated statements from a witness on the scene, but that the same witness is also likely to be charged as an accomplice to the crime.

We haven’t received our degrees from online law school in the mail yet, but we’re pretty comfortable saying that Greg Sparks just opened the City of Eureka up to a nice, expensive legal battle with Floyd Squires for slander. This is especially true when you consider that Sparks’ statement was made with obvious malice arising from the City’s contentious past with the Squires.

Our advice to the City of Eureka is to lawyer up – and to lawyer up with someone other than City Counsel Cyndy Day-Wilson, who’s really good at walking Eureka into clearly losing lawsuits, and costing Eureka’s taxpayers a bundle in the process. Otherwise, Eureka might just challenge the County of Humboldt for top spot as the most legally inept government in Humboldt.

An update to the LoCO story covering Sparks’  statement later on the same day would suggest that others in the City of Eureka don’t have too high an opinion of Sparks’ antics, either. Chief of Police Steve Watson reached out to the LoCO to clarify that “the Eureka Police Department did not authorize the release of the arson investigation police report to the public.  Any questions related to the report should be referred to the City Manager’s office. ”

In other words, Watson wants nothing to do with the hearsay-based accusation – and was willing to throw all responsibility for the report onto Greg Sparks.

Of course, Sparks probably doesn’t give two shits about how the repercussions will affect the City of Eureka – just like former Chief of Police Andy Mills, he’s positioning himself to head for greener pastures once Eureka has served the purpose of catapulting him to a more lucrative City Manager position in a different place.

In the meantime, we can all sit back and watch with glee as Squires gets publicly shamed by the City of Eureka – while also crossing our fingers that Sparks’ vindictive streak doesn’t come back to bite the rest of us in the ass.

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County hires expensive consultant to survey what Humboldt wants out of their airport; THC has a free answer

According to a recent Fly Humboldt e-mail update forwarded to us by a THC fan, the County of Humboldt has hired consulting firm Volaire Aviation to figure out what Humboldt-ians think would make the Humboldt Redwood County – Arcata-oh-wait-McKinleyville Airport better.

This is just the latest instance of the County wasting our tax money on a pointless survey, and similarly just the latest instance of the County flapping their wings trying to make ACV anything more than a laughing stock.

Unfortunately, it’s too late for the County to pull the plug on the survey (which, if you’re interested, you can complete by going to this page on the County website) and save some money. The good news is that the County won’t have to wait for Volaire Aviation to close the survey in order to find the answers they’re looking for.

And that’s because THC has the three key answers for them readily available! So, County of Humboldt, listen up. What do people want out of their airport?

Flights! More flights. At least, more than the 4 daily scheduled departures currently available through United Airlines. (A key part of more flights is, of course, attracting more airlines.)

Aside from that one big golden nugget of advice, we’d say cheaper fares and reliable service – which, thanks to fog, the County can’t do much about. (Remember, the County is better at blowing smoke up people’s asses than it is at removing fog or smoke from the air.)

We  encourage all of our readers to go over and take the survey. Who knows, maybe THC is dead wrong and spending $250,000 to revamp the airport’s restaurant will bring air travelers flocking in droves. But we’re probably right.

All that we know for sure is that spending our scarce public monies on idiotic surveys is doing absolutely nothing for our air services, and the County’s attempts to bring in more airlines have been just about as effective.

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County of Humboldt continues lawsuit losing streak; moves record to 0-104

Well, if there’s one thing that we can depend on the County of Humboldt to do, it’s to lose lawsuits. And not minor lawsuits, no – lawsuits that end up costing the taxpayer millions of dollars.

In the latest round, the County is paying out $2.5 million for a wrongful death case involving a man who apparently died of a methampethamine overdose while in custody. The details are grim, and it does sound to THC like the County got a bit of a raw deal in the verdict which found them liable for such a huge sum. Here’s a link to a North Coast Journal article on the issue:

Federal Jury Hits County with $2.5 Million Wrongful Death Verdict

Now, aside from the tragedy of the death and whether you think the County screwed up or not, consider this – the County is strongly considering appealing the verdict and risk paying even more of taxpayer money. According to the Times-Standard, up to a million more dollars.

Remember that piece we did a while back about how the County lost a suit to little ol’ HUMMAP over the County marijuana ordinance? (Refresh yourself if need be: Lawsuits: County 0, everyone else and 103 (with pictures!))

Well, back then we had a good time poking fun at the County for their stupid legal decisions. This time, however, we’re not laughing – and you shouldn’t be either.

Although you may be shocked to hear this, THC’s brain trust is not made up of a bunch of lawyers. That being said, we can’t help but feel that the County’s appeal against the initial decision has some merit – or, it would, if the people the County has in charge of arguing their defense had a lick of smarts and legal capability.

As their track record has shown, this simply is not the case. Unfortunately, Jeffrey Blanck has been no improvement over previous County Counsel’s, and we’re sure that history will continue to repeat itself should the County foolishly decide to appeal. It also looks like the general incompetence of the County Counsel’s office extends past Blanck, as we can see with Nancy Delaney, the County’s representative in this case.

Delaney lamented that “she wasn’t better able to communicate her case to the jury,” but her poor communication skills apparently didn’t stop there. She is adamant about filing motions to  dismiss the case, even after the presiding judge had this to say: “Let’s just be clear…the evidence was pretty substantial in a variety of ways — as I’ve said before — so the likelihood I’m going to overturn a verdict is pretty low.”

But go ahead, County of Humboldt – go ahead and waste more of our money by flying in the face of legal wisdom. We’re very happy to continue funding your losing record.

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County of Humboldt “visioning” a future where you’re not allowed to live by the beach

Today, the County of Humboldt pushed out this press release about their efforts to prepare for sea-level rise on their website earlier this month:

County to address sea level rise in vulnerable areas

On August 9 the Coastal Commission awarded a $50,000 grant to Humboldt County to develop collaborative strategies to address sea level rise for some of the county’s most vulnerable areas – King Salmon, Fields Landing, and Fairhaven/Finn Town.

In the Humboldt Bay region, sea level is anticipated to rise faster than anywhere else in California due to the combined effects of land subsidence and sea level rise.  The grant funding will support public meetings to discuss potential effects of sea level rise, and develop policies and regulations in the Humboldt Bay Area Plan to adapt to the challenges associated with sea level rise.

Allow us to run that through the THC translation machine, and this is what it boils down to:

The county is going to spend $50K for some “collaborative visioning” to develop policies to make it too expensive to build or maintain your residence in the affected areas.

See, at THC, we think the appropriate role for a government in this particular situation would be to just advise people that, hey, if you build along the coastline, you might have some problems with water in the future. Maybe a tsunami, or even rising sea levels if you’re lucky enough to live that long.

From what we’ve read of the County’s sea-level rise materials, the worst projections put us at an extra six feet of water in 80 years. Which sucks, because our Manila vacation property might have some issues. But we came up with a policy years ago when we were considering moving into one of the derelict industrial buildings which we think the County could use, and do could so free of charge. Take a look at a map – maybe even the tsunami hazard zone map that was so painstakingly put together – and, if it’s in the tsunami zone, you should move, build a dike, or take your chances.

Such a policy also wouldn’t make it impossible for people comfortable with that level of risk from pursuing their dream of living by the water.

Problem solved!

But of course, we all know that the County isn’t good at listening to reason. Or looking at their maps.

 

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The Humboldt Consequential makes front page news on LoCO!

Guess who just got recognition for being super awesome by being featured on the front page of the Lost Coast Outpost?

That’s right! Your friendly, neighborhood blog – The Humboldt Consequential!

Check it out:

That’s us, at the top!

Aside from our really shitty ad design and photoshop skills, we’re pretty proud.

Thanks again to Lost Coast Outpost – and by proxy, LoCO’s owner Patrick Cleary (of HAF) – for hooking us up with the front page digs.

We’d also like to thank our fans, readers, and people who send us all that hate mail. Without you folks, we’d never have achieved this. We started from the bottom, and now we’re like slightly higher up than that. Maybe even approaching the middle.

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City of Eureka to gift Indian Island to Humboldt County Public Administrators’s Office

Citing their inability to legally give away publicly held lands to a private group, the City of Eureka has shockingly decided to hand over control of the City’s holdings on Indian Island to the Humboldt County Public Administrator’s Office.

According to City officials, the Administrator’s office has so much experience stealing dead people’s stuff  that it is a natural fit to allow the Administrator to oversee the distribution of the lands in question, which were previously inhabited by the Wiyot tribe. The Administrator’s legal authority to do so is substantiated by County Civil Code B.S. 615.3(a), which states that the “finder’s keepers” rule does indeed apply to former indigenous property.

Eureka Mayor Frank Jager was unavailable for comment or a photo shoot, but THC thankfully had this stock photo* on hand from a previous edition of THC:

*Photo presumably taken while Frank looked the other way as public employees raided the belongings of the deceased

Rob Arkley, who made waves locally by offering to purchase Indian island (in order to keep it out of the hands of natives tribe who lay claim to it), was reached for comment. In response to the City’s new direction with the Indian Island property, Mr Arkley said: “Really? Cool.”

When asked to gauge his own continuing interest in purchasing Indian Island, Mr Arkley stated: “Oh, I was just window shopping. I don’t have anywhere near enough money to do something like that these days. I just said all that crap to get a rise out of all my haters, and the dumb f***s fell for it! Ha!”

In an unrelated story, the Administrator’s Office announced that public employees will receive an additional 10% discount on illicit goods purchased in cash, without a receipt issued.

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Renee Saucedo encourages Supervisors to break state and federal law

It sure didn’t take long for Renee Saucedo, of True North Organizing Network and Humboldt Area Foundation fame, to prove THC’s point about her efforts to pointlessly stir shit up in our communities.

Most recently, and in perfect conjunction with a slew of THC posts which looked into Saucedo’s inflammatory efforts on behalf of HAF, True North, and Pat Cleary, Saucedo took to Humboldt’s Board of Supervisors chambers to tell the Supes that their defiant “civil rights” resolution does not go far enough. Saucedo would prefer that the Supervisors pass an “enforceable ordinance”. Honestly, THC has no idea what she means by that, because the County of Humboldt has ZERO authority when it comes to the ICE.

County Sheriff Honsal, who sounded a little bewildered by the sheer idiocy of the people advocating Saucedo’s position, had this to say the Board: “I believe that the way the state laws are written in California is the way we need to go.”

THC probably would have said: “Piss off, Saucedo, no ordinance that we pass in Humboldt County means diddly squat in the face of state and federal law. You know that, so stop trying to make us look like assholes.”

Of course, he already went on record at length to point out that the Sheriff has no say when it comes to the actions of federal agents. Predictably, that got ignored by people like Saucedo, who want to frame the issue however they like.

Here’s a link to the Times-Standard article with Saucedo’s comments:

Supervisors ok civil rights resolution, critics say it doesn’t go far enough

The irony, of course, is that should the County of Humboldt follow through with such a ludicrous action then the entire County would be open to punishment from state and federal authorities. But maybe that’s exactly what Saucedo wants – to have all of Humboldt County suffer?

Heck, as John Chiv pointed out over on his blog, Saucedo was even willing to use her elderly mother as a ploy to get sympathy points. Not once, but twice. (The Honorable John Chiv has a nice compilation of links to all things Saucedo, check it out.)

 

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