Humboldt Area Foundation hides financials in latest organization yearbook

In 2017, Humboldt area Foundation has continued it’s recently developed tradition of subverting . The latest evidence

We’d love to show it to you, but it’s not online yet. You can pick one up in person from HAF’s headquarters – like we did! – or you can just wait. For how long, we don’t know.

If we could show it you, we’d point out how HAF’s mission statement isn’t featured. There’s only a pledge to fight racism and bigotry while simultaneously supporting a pet project – Equity Alliance of the North Coast – that actively drives wedges between members of our community and which has single-handedly helped shape the perception of racism in Humboldt and nearby.

But the most troubling part is the way HAF is now treating the reporting of their financials to the public.

It’s fairly similar to the previous yearbook’s coverage of HAF financials, which covers the years 2015-2016.

2015-2016’s “financial report” looks like this:

2016-2017’s report, again, is not available online at the moment, but it’s even less informative.

But even in the previous year’s report, there is not a heck of a lot of in-depth information there, right? In fact, you have to go back to the yearbook of 2013-2104 in order to get the type of breakdown of HAF’s financial situation which one would expect from a “community organization.”

For the record, those statements looked like this:

See what HAF did there?

If we’re being nice, we could say that the new format looks pretty.

We think it’s highly more likely that HAF just doesn’t want people to realize exactly who, or what, the money they donate is bankrolling. In fact, that’s probably why they fired Chris DeWitt for refusing to pressure donors into committing money to HAF’s general discretionary fund. That way, HAF could use donated monies to benefit the causes that they support, rather than the ones the community cares about.

(Read more about DeWitt’s ouster here: Humboldt Area Foundation pays hush money to former Director of Donor Services to cover their tracks)

THC just wishes HAF would return to the days when they’re published financials were up front and center, and complete, like they should be. Now, the financials do their best impression of a freshman book report based off cliffnotes – vague, inaccurate, and missing the real point.

Guess that transparency isn’t really Humboldt Area Foundation’s game anymore, is it?

On a side note, can anyone remind us what year Patrick Cleary took over at HAF. Not that there is a connection, or anything.

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Pentagon’s West-coast missile defense program could save Humboldt County – from economic catastrophe

THC has been scratching our heads, wondering what in the heck Humboldt County can do to spur economic growth in a time when we so desperately need it. Like most folks, we see tough times ahead when the cannabis economy we’ve relied upon collapses, or at the least changes beyond recognition. Depending on who you ask, those tough times are already beginning.

We were hard up on ideas, when out of the sky came this gem: a West-coast missile defense program that the Pentagon is shopping locations for.

Can you imagine the jobs that such a development would bring to the area? And not just temporary jobs for construction and such – we’re talking about the huge boost it would bring to services needed to support the installation and it’s employees and personnel, not to mention the influx of money from all the people working at the installation. It could be a gold-mine! Not a green-mine, as the County of Humboldt seems to be solely focused on.

Humboldt County seems ideally situated to host such a site, since we’re the western-most point of land on the coast, with develop-able land and even a history of military presence. Remember why they had the naval base near Centerville beach? The same reasons make Humboldt appealing for a THAAD missile-defense installation.

Of course, we don’t really have a place to house all those people at the moment, but that can be fixed. We can dream, right?

But there’s bad news, folks.

None of our Supervisors can help bring this to fruition.

  • Sundberg is off shaking hands and posing for pictures at the Coastal Commission.
  • Wilson is busy whining on the dais and supporting environmental crusades.
  • Virginia is off partying hard at the CSAC conventions when she isn’t vacationing in Hawaii.
  • Rex is talking. To someone. Anyone.
  • Fennell is…uh, actually does anyone know what Estelle is doing?

Such a shame that they won’t be able to jump on the massive opportunity.

It may be a long shot, there may be a million reasons why the Pentagon wouldn’t put a missile defense program here in Humboldt County, but wouldn’t it be nice to feel like our leadership was doing something to boost our economy? To stave off the approaching economic apocalypse brought on by cannabis legalization?

Attracting a missile-defense program is only one option for doing something along those lines, but there are others. (Here’s a hint: they aren’t pot.)

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Calaveras County is kicking Humboldt’s ass at processing cannabis permits, and we found the reason why

Here’s some food for thought on the totally f***ed up way that Humboldt County has been processing and issuing commercial cannabis applications over the last year:

  • Total Calaveras County commercial cannabis applications processed and approved – 195.
  • Total of the same in Humboldt County – Under 100 as of early November

What’s so wrong with these numbers? Let’s see…

Well, first off, Calaveras had a 6 month head start on us, as they began vetting applications back in July of 2016. Even so, they’re out-pacing us.

Want to know something else interesting?

Calaveras has a grand total of 6 people working on their cannabis applications, and only two of them are full-time planners. One person is an administrative assistant, one’s a planner in training, and the other two are contract workers.

But it’s not like Humboldt County has like, three times the amount of people working to process permits than Calaveras does, right?

Actually, even wayyy back in May of this year, Director Ford talked about plans to have 19 people dedicated full-time to working on cannabis. THC is under the impression that since that time in May, even more temporary staffers have been brought aboard to deal with the absolutely overwhelming workload that the County’s planners are faced with.

Weird, huh?

However, THC has found that Calaveras’ relative success in processing permits does not stem from their superior intellect or ability when it comes to planning issues.

Their success can be directly attributed to the total lack of anyone named Steve Lazar in their department.

If only Humboldt’s Planning Director could take a lesson from THC’s extensive research into this matter.

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Eureka sets positive tone for zones, but economic disaster still in the forecast

This past Tuesday, the City of Eureka held a “set the tone for your zone” community meeting to gain input from Eurekans about how they envision the future look of the city.

There was quite a bit of buzz leading up to the event. Take this quote from Councilmember Kim Bergel, which sums up most of our political leaders’ approaches to planning and building in general:

““I think it’s going to be a really fun meeting and I don’t know a lot about it but I’ll be there,” she said.” (from the Times-Standard.)

Bergel, indeed, was there. Thanks for showing up, Kim.

We’re told there was quite the crowd, and it wasn’t just for the pizza and donuts. Rob Holmlund, Eureka’s Community Development Director, unveiled his master plan for the future development of Eureka, and it received quite the reception.

The top points he made were aimed at easing some irritating code restrictions and allowing for taller buildings. Sounds good on the surface, but what’s the catch?

Get ready for a major shocker, THC-heads: we actually really like the direction that Rob Holmlund is taking this, from what we’ve heard of it. Despite some of our previous criticisms, it sounds like Eureka’s Community Development Director is doing what he can to encourage building in Eureka.

Of course, the proposed zoning changes don’t address all of our problems, such as a lack of available industrial land and the apparent total lack of interest in providing more of it in the future.

But we digress. The real story here is this: Eureka is at least going through the motions of making changes that will allow for the type of growth needed to survive beyond the inevitable pop of the green rush bubble. Problem is, relaxing zoning restrictions just won’t be enough.

THC is told that a community member asked specifically about a plan moving forward to attract businesses, encourage building, etc., and received virtually no response other than “we’re working on a lot of things”. Sound familiar?

What’s even less encouraging is yet another quote from whiz-kid Kim Bergel from the same Times-Standard article, in reference to Eureka:

“For me I see it as a thriving business community.”

Umm…what?

Lest you think we’re picking on Bergel too much, we will add that she is a great cheerleader for any cause in the community. You can see the response to her enthusiasm in the community – go ahead and sign that lady up for another term.

But popularity isn’t the point. The point is that there’s a pervasive view in local leadership that our area is just one big break from Humboldt County becoming an economic powerhouse.With the way things are going, between industry trends and increasing regulations, we’ll be lucky to be afloat in ten years.

What we actually need is a break from our government’s half-assed attempts to generate jobs through visioning workshops and Quickbooks training. We’re tired of hearing lip service about “jobs” and “growth” when, aside from cannabis, nothing has changed for decades.

So the proposed changes to Eureka’s zoning are great, but just because someone is legally allowed to build a certain type of building doesn’t mean that they will. Hell, we’d argue that an economic turn-around could be accomplished even without proposed zoning changes, as long as Eureka would make it easier to build and for businesses to thrive.

It might require a little more than our politicians showing up to meetings about things they don’t understand, like providing incentives and actively recruiting businesses, or making permits less expensive, but the test of time has proven that it’s stretch to rely on decision makers to do what’s needed. Or to even understand that something more is needed.

But we’re really excited about the ability to build taller buildings.

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What your state government has done for you in 2017: dinosaurs, AIDS, gas taxes, and more

Tackling California’s housing issues, or figuring out a way to attract businesses to our state, or even figuring out the health-care fiasco would have been way too hard for state legislature to accomplish.

But the legislature did find some really sweet ways to spend their time, and our money. For example, did you know …

…that California recognized a state dinosaur this year?

…or that you can now purposefully transmit HIV to someone, and only get charged with a misdemeanor?

You can thank the great state of California for those milestones in public policy making, as well as these gems below:

(*THC disclaimer – we are shamelessly ripping this post from an email we received this morning. We’ve no idea who the original author is, but we’re happy to give them credit if they contact us.)

CA Legislative Year Closed….So what did they Accomplish

Fellow Californians:

Here are some of the highlights of this session:

1. SB-1: increases your gas taxes by approximately 20 Cents (Nov 1) and your vehicle license fees by an average of $100 (Jan 1st).

2. Passed Cap N Tax which will increase gas 0.63 to 0.93 cents a gallon change and the taxes that go with it.  So do the math projection…..
(0.12 + 0.63 = 0.75/gallon + current $3.10/gallon = $3.85/gallon)

3. Proposed increase on a new tax every residence will pay for tap water in the State!

4. A $3.46B parks bond to pay for parks in “disadvantaged communities” meaning Los Angeles. The debt service will be over $200 million a year. The good news is some money goes to help fix the Salton Sea which should have always been a State responsibility!

5. Law to release any lifer (murder, rape , child molestation, etc.) who is 60 years old and has already spent 25 years in prison!  Charles Manson qualifies today and the Melendez brothers that murdered their parents could be released in about 12 years? What about victims?

6. A new $10 charge on all residents living in Mobile home parks to address living condition enforcement in those parks?  Why does the Left embrace these regressive taxes on the poor?

7. We picked an official dinosaur of the State of California. Really? Yes!

8. Blackmail Tesla to either unionize with the United Auto Workers Union or forfeit State incentives to buy their electric cars! Just another Union Grab!

9. Reduce from a felony to a misdemeanor the purposeful intent to transmit the AIDS virus to a unknowing partner.

10. Give preferential treatment to prisoners convicted of serious crimes that are less than 25 years old because their brains are not mature enough to understand right from wrong. Whaaat? If the brains of our kids don’t mature until 25, why do we allow them to vote ?

11. A bill to require our true sex be omitted from drivers licenses? Whaaat?

12. Free legal services for illegal immigrants…of course !!

13. Establish safe “injection zones” run by government to oversee people injecting heroin! You have to be kidding me? Yep, it passed!

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The Auditor-Controller is a jerk, and the Supervisors want his money

This lovely nugget about the operations of the  County of Humboldt came to light last week: our Auditor-Controller, Joe Mellett, is an apathetic waste of public funds, and the Board of Supervisors and County Administrative Office are trying to strip his department of any significant role in government.

This came after Mellet’s second in command, Karen Paz Dominguez, showed up for public comment at last week’s Board of Supervisors meeting and made a plea for help on behalf of the failing department.

LoCO has a more in-depth look at the issue here:

What’s Wrong at the Auditor-Controller’s Office? Understaffing? A Vendetta? Or Is It the Man in Charge?

What it comes down to is this: Mellett is no longer interested in his job, and acts like a total P.O.S. The interview he gave to LoCO is damning, and we’re honestly flabbergasted that he would go on record with much of what he said.

We love this absolute gem of a quote from our Auditor-Controller about his current approach to his job: ” Putting out fires and collecting a paycheck.”

But the bigger question, putting aside the incompetence and lack of interest displayed by our publicly elected Auditor-Controller, is this: would giving the duties of the Auditor-Controller to the CAO, or any other department, actually fix the problem?

As we all know, neither the CAO’s office nor our Board of Supervisors are particularly effective or financially competent.

So is Mellett’s charge that attempts to undermine his authority and the duties of his department are an attempted power grab by the Supes and the CAO accurate? THC tends to think so.

There was already one attempt to get rid of his office last year, when the Supes sent a measure to consolidate his department with the Treasurer-Tax Collector. (For  more on that: County Supervisors seek to create a new Finance Dictator at great cost to the public) Word on the street is that the County will try to send  similar measure to the vote in the near future, and are actively exploring methods to strip the Auditor-Controller of his powers without putting it to the public first.

Taken together, it  sure seems like Mellett’s allegations are founded. Streamlining departments for efficiency and reduced costs is all well and good.

But here’s the issue. You don’t fix the problem created by one elected official by doing away with the entire department – you elect a new person to do the job. Why would consolidating the powers of the Auditor-Controller department under the umbrella of equally dysfunctional leadership do anything but exacerbate the problem?

From the sound of it, Karen Paz Dominguez is angling herself to be the next Auditor-Controller. We at least hope that somebody gets a chance to turn the department around before the Supes or the CAO get their grubby hands on even more power and responsibility that they will most surely screw up.

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Humboldt Baykeeper continues proud tradition of predatory lawsuits, defaming organizations

Wouldn’t you know it, Humboldt Baykeeper settled yet another lawsuit with a local business/agency which resulted in a hefty payout for themselves and their lawyers.

Long story short, Baykeeper saw an opportunity to make some quick cash and alleged that the Humboldt Bay Waste Management Authority was polluting the bay via storm-water runoff from the Hawthorne Trasfer Station. This was immediately after the state body in charge of water pollution oversight, the Water Quality Control Board, had given HWMA the all clear following an inspection.

Now, for successfully convincing HWMA to pay them off to shut them up, Baykeeper has HWMA bent over and greased up for the net few years – Baykeeper gets to make inspections now, too.

It’s part of an unsettling but obvious trend – even the Times-Standard picked up on it:

“This latest settlement comes after Humboldt Baykeeper entered into similar agreements this year with California Redwood Company and the Arcata-based soil company Royal Gold LLC.”

It’s not just Humboldt Baykeeper’s persistent meddling with environmentally compliant businesses that’s irking, either – it’s that they’re used as a puppet by law groups like Aqua Terris Aeris, who make a living by preying on businesses that don’t have the money or the time to fight legal accusations, and end up settling for less crippling amounts. ATA Law Group, for example, raked in $127,000 for intimidating HWMA into a settlement.

THC has also covered some of Baykeeper’s good works before:

Environmental group sues private business; Humboldt County Planning and Building to blame?

Humboldt Baykeeper seeks to ruin yet another local business in appeal to Supervisors; predatory legal action soon to follow?

Deputy County Counsel cancels secret marijuana ordinance meeting following public backlash

If only we’d thought up something brilliant, like a three-assed turkey, so we could have included Jen Kalt in our list of people we’re thankful for. There’s always next year, of course.

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THC’s Two-assed Turkey Awards: Lisa Rossbacher and John Ford

Happy T-Day, THC-heads, and welcome back for another edition of our lovely  Turkey Award.

THC’s Turkey Award Winners can take pride in their ability to look like humans on the outside, but to actually be as smart and competent as turkeys on the inside.

In a major departure from previous years, we’ve decided that two figures are turkey enough to warrant a joint award. Also different from previous years, 2017’s recipients are not worthy of being the head of a turkey – so we’ve come up with a creative new method.

We present to you THC’s 2017 Two-Assed Turkey Award:

Lisa Rossbacher is the President of Humboldt State University. You might have heard about her. Ms. Rossbacher gets special turkey-ass recognition for her expertise in gutting the HSU football program due to “severe lack of funding”. (P.s. did you know that Lisa Rossbacher’s salary and benefits for one year are just shy of the $500,000 needed annually to save the football program?) More on the financial mess at HSU this weekend.

Our second, and equally turkey-ass-ish, recipient, is John Ford of the Humboldt County Planning Department. John proudly proclaimed that Humboldt County would totally take care of the fiasco surrounding cannabis permitting by the end of this year – and that’s so laughably far from the truth that we can’t even make a better joke about it. How many permits have been issued? How many more people has the County hired, or contracted with, in order to process permits? How effective have all the fees taken from people who still don’t have permits been in combating illegal grows and environmental destruction?

Congrats, you turkeys, and may the public pardon you for turkey ways. Enjoy getting fatter with your salaries and pensions, and we hope you don’t end up on the platter again next year.

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Union pressures push Bill Gillespie out as Humboldt Bay Fire Chief?

Bill Gillespie is out as Humboldt Bay Fire Chief, and everyone wants to know why. Was it a conspiracy? Has he suddenly gotten scared of fire? Did he get tired of Kim Bergel’s farts? Is he just looking forward to collecting his pension on chilling on the lake?

As reported on every almost every local news outlet, (including, but not limited, to the Times-Standard, LoCO, John Chiv, News Channel 3, etc.), Gillespie abruptly resigned following a closed session of the Joint Powers Authority group which oversees Humboldt Bay Fire.

Now, rumors are a-swirlin’ about the single reason he left, and we think there a few plausible options to choose from.We love a good conspiracy, but tend to think that the explanation is a little more simple in this case.

The one unifying factor from all the rumors that we’ve heard are this: the pro-Union JPA was pressured to oust Gillespie as a result of his push back against union members within Humboldt Bay Fire. This is all the more plausible when you consider that the joint power authority contains folks like Austin Allison, who openly stated his preference to negotiate a contract beneficial to fire fighters.

Gillespie has publicly butted heads with Union President Matt McFarland, on several occasions over the last year, such as when he contradicted the union’s claim that HBF’s swim rescue program was being discontinued due to lack of funding. Gillespie loudly pointed the blame for the program’s demise at a lack of willing firefighters. Gillespie also earned the ire of McFarland and the Union when he reprimanded none other than Matt McFarland for insisting on wearing a Black Lives Matter pin on his uniform.

Aside from our general aversion to the amount of compensation received by public employees, we’re of the opinion that Gillespie is a great guy, all around. To put that in perspective, when was the last time you heard THC say anyone was a great person?

We’re hoping that it wasn’t the pressure of pro-union JPA board members that forced Gillespie out , even if it sure seems that way. No, we hope that Gillespie said “F*** you, I quit” when faced with such blabbering bullshit coming from people that are supposed to be concerning themselves with public safety, and not the politics of a few firefighters.

 

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Planning Commissioner Shepherd gets pissy over conflict of interest allegations, “excellent” price on cannabis property

The recent McKinleyville Municipal Advisory Committee meeting saw a heated exchange between Planning Commissioner and McMAC member Ben Shepherd and a community member after conflict of interest allegations were lobbed at Shepherd.

None other than would-be Supervisor Sungnome Madrone was on hand to personally level the accusation of a conflict of interest at Shepherd.

Centering around Shepherd’s sale of a property that was permitted for cannabis farming, the Madrone’s accusation alleges that Shepherd benefited financially from a cannabis ordinance that he helped create as a Planning Commissioner. According to folks at the McMAC meeting, Madrone did indeed lodge a complaint with the FPPC, who should be looking into Shepherd’s activities in the near future.

Shepherd, in the fashion we’ve come to expect from many of Humboldt’s politicians, kept things professional – meaning that he threw a hissy fit and tried to walk out of a meeting still in session. If only Madrone had given everyone a heads up, we would have showed up with some popcorn.

Even Shepherd’s colleagues on the McMAC board were surprised at how childish Shepherd’s reaction was, considering that Shepherd not only tried to walk out of the meeting without following proper procedures, but also tried to silence Madrone speaking on a different topic. Which is a big no-no, and kind of fascist, if you ask us.

To be fair, Shepherd called out Madrone for attempting to raise his profile for his upcoming Supervisorial bid, which will pit him against Ryan Sundberg, the person who appointed close friend Shepherd to the Planning Commission in the first place. Come to think of it, we have seen a lot more of Madrone at public meetings over the last few months.

But the heart of the problem is this – does Shepherd actually have a conflict of interest relating to the sale of his cannabis-permitted property? From a logical standpoint, heck yeah he does!

From a legal standpoint, however, he’s probably in the clear. As we all know, logic and legality don’t always mesh.

The real conflict of interest, in THC’s opinion, stems from the fact that Shepherd serves on both the Humboldt County Planning Commission and the McMAC. His participation on issues at the McMAC, which he also often hears about,

So, Sugnome, if you’re out there – an FPPC complaint should focus on that issue, rather than Shepherd taking advantage of a lucrative cannabis property opportunity that affects all property equally.

If you’re interested in more about the actual sale of Shepherd’s property, check out this bit of THC goodness from over a year ago. (We’re expecting a “thank you” sixer of Mike’s Hard from Madrone for providing him the talking points.)

(UPDATED with Sales Price) Ben Shepherd: Planning Commission crook makes massive profit from cannabis ordinance he created

 

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