Patrick Cleary tries to control Humboldt’s narrative on race, racism at McKMAC meeting

In yesterday’s piece about how Patrick Cleary’s Humboldt Area Foundation  is using an offshoot non-profit to funnel money  back towards HAF’s own bank account, while simultaneously causing a whole bunch of unnecessary mischief in Humboldt’s communities, we posed this questions about True North’s hiring practices:

Just how many people does Patrick Cleary think are necessary to stir up unrest in Humboldt County?”

Apparently, however many employees True North has, they’re not enough to accomplish all of Cleary’s goals when it comes to spinning the Humboldt County narrative in the manner he prefers.

In addition to using the media companies that he owns (Lost Coast Outpost, and KHUM, for example) to push the idea that racism is rampant in Humboldt County, Patrick Cleary himself decided to show up himself at a recent community meeting of the McKMAC to offer his services.

From the Mad River Union:

“Patrick Cleary of the Humboldt Area Foundation indicated that his organization could help the committee with a future forum or discussion of some sort.”

How convenient!

Capitalizing on tragedy and the fears of the community to push your own political agenda is deplorable, but Cleary seems eager to jump on the occasion. Maybe he learned that tactic from Renee Saucedo, who came to Humboldt County with loads of experience on the subject, and made sure to continue the trend once she got here.

However you feel about the issue of racism (or potential racism) in Humboldt County, THC hopes that you’ll agree: a community organization like Humboldt Area Foundation has no business shoving it’s nose into an issue as sensitive and divisive as that of racism.

Isn’t it enough that Cleary so blatantly uses his media influence in the County to push his own agenda? Now he feels the need to show up to community meetings and needlessly interject his opinions, and an offer of help from a wing of his blatantly political organization? THC must give the man credit – he knows how to politicize a situation for his own ends.

As you’ll recall from one of our pieces about a month ago, it may very well have been Jen Rice from Humboldt Area Foundation who began the conversation over racism in McKinleyville at all. Read more about Rice’s, and HAF’s, attempts to stir up trouble centering on the “hotbed of white supremacist” activity in McKinleyville here: White Supremacy in “McKlanleyville”? McKMAC set to consider racism in McKinleyville at tonight’s meeting after much delay

What we’re seeing here is a concerted effort from a variety of sources under Cleary’s control to stir the hornet’s nest on these issues. Let’s just say that it’s hard for THC to believe that Cleary, the former Wall Street banker turned Humboldt County big-wig, is doing it out of the goodness of his heart.

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Humboldt Area Foundation pays hush money to former Director of Donor Services to cover their tracks

Humboldt Area Foundation recently fired their long-time Director of Donor Services, Chris Witt, and it wasn’t because of incompetence. It was because Witt refused to obey a directive from HAF’s higher-ups which would have required her to coerce donors into gifting them money with no strings attached.

Humboldt Area Foundation is an insular organization, and they do all they can to keep the public – who generously support HAF’s shady activities – from knowing the truth about how they run their affairs, particularly when it comes to how they’re using their money.

If you’ve been unlucky enough to give your money to HAF in the last few years, you may have been struck by something odd. HAF’s representatives have a curious habit of steering potential donors to contribute money towards HAF’s general fun rather than to specific causes. Why?

HAF has discretion over how to use money in their general fund, so every dollar that goes towards a specific cause – say, scholarships or youth activities – is one less dollar that goes into HAF’s Unrestricted Funds, which are used for “Humboldt Area Foundation community programs and unrestricted grant-making that meets changing community needs”.

Now, there’s a pretty clear trend of activities from HAF that just aren’t in keeping with their mission statement (which is curiously missing from their website), and that certainly don’t mirror the priorities of the greater Humboldt community. Here are some examples:

THC first got tipped off to Chris Witt’s firing, and the reasons behind it, by a fellow HAF employee who was disgusted at Witt’s treatment. This employee cited both Witt’s refusal to pressure donors to give HAF unrestricted money along with her more conservative political values as a couple of reasons why Witt was dismissed.

THC, like the half-ass sleuths we are, reached out to Witt a few times for her take on the situation – and she was even willing to speak to us! That is, until HAF negotiated a non-disclosure agreement with Witt after her dismissal. According to Witt’s former co-worker, she received quite the severance package for her silence.

If nothing else, THC is pleased we could aid Witt in getting paid for her unfair dismissal from HAF, and wish her happier trails where jerks like Pat Cleary aren’t pressuring her to swindle well-meaning folks out of their money.

 

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(Update!) EPIC, other groups move to stop Richardson Grove project; still ignoring impacts of marijuana growing on our rivers

Wouldn’t you know it, the horrible environmental impacts of cannabis farming on our local forests and waterways is garnering national attention. Check it:

Toxic waste from U.S. pot farms alarms experts

So why aren’t our local environmental groups jumping all over marijuana growers?

Oh yeah – because they are largely supported by money from illegal cultivation.When they aren’t actively growing/selling it themselves, or advocating for laxer pot-growing regulations.

Funny how that works.

From the Reuters’ article linked at the beginning of this post:

“Ecologist Mourad Gabriel, who documents the issue for the Forest Service as well as other state, local and federal law enforcement agencies, estimates California’s forests hold 41 times more solid fertilizers and 80 times more liquid pesticides than Forest Service investigators found in 2013.”

“Pollution from illegal marijuana farms deep in California’s national forests is far worse than previously thought, and has turned thousands of acres into waste dumps so toxic that simply touching plants has landed law enforcement officers in the hospital.”

“The most toxic sites cost as much as $100,000 to clean up, leaving taxpayers with a bill that could reach $100 million or more in California alone.”

“”They are like superfund sites,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Escobar, whose Fresno office has filed numerous marijuana-related environmental damage cases. Superfund sites are those targeted by the U.S. government for hazardous waste cleanup because of the risk to human health or the environment.”

Here’s a link to the full post:

EPIC, other groups move to stop Richardson Grove project; still ignoring impacts of marijuana growing on our rivers

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Founding documents show Humboldt Area Foundation is paying itself big bucks through non-profit it created

THC will officially have to stop bitching about how Humboldt Area Foundation is using an illegitimate non-profit to push their highly political ideals on the people of Humboldt County. You see, True North Organizing Network – Patrick Cleary’s favorite pet project – has been recognized as non-profit by the state and federal governments.

But don’t be sad – True North’s founding documents reveal a lot about the back room dealings that HAF has been using for years in Humboldt County. And thanks to an old friend, THC has them right here for you to check out:

True North Founding Documents

Patrick Cleary and his henchmen at HAF will now just have to settle for using a legitimate non-profit to push their political agendas down Humboldt’s throat – and, as it turns out, to line their own organization’s pockets.

On page 65 of the True North Founding Docs, you’ll find this short statement about their finances:

There are quite a few things that we  can dig into, but let’s first look at how Humboldt Area Foundation is funneling money back to themselves from the non-profit that they started as a pet project. The easiest way for them to do that is to charge True North for the space they use in the HAF facility, and by charging a premium for that space.

And sure as shit, would you just look at what they’re paying themselves? “Admin fees, utilities, and space” accounted for $106,090 of True North’s annual budget (roughly 1/8th of their entire budget). Seeing as how True North lists it’s headquarters at 363 Indianola Road  – which happens to be Humboldt Area Foundation’s home base,  and which was built using donated money – it’s pretty safe to assume that at least $100k of that expense is going directly back into Humboldt Area Foundation’s coffers.

Heck, even if only $50,000 of those expenses went towards rent, that would still be an astronomical amount to spend on leased office space. We’re talking over $4,000 a month! THC absolutely guarantees that administrative fees and utilities are not costing them all that much, either.

The second biggest item to jump out at us is how much True North is spending on their staffing. Out of their total budget of $797,760, more than half is going towards their staff – 56%, actually. That $451,160 that their spending is far, far in excess of the standard suggested amount of overhead for a non-profit – and that figure doesn’t even include other overhead items like their rent, office expenses, and travel.

While we’re on the subject of payroll, if Renee Saucedo was making $55,000 per year as True North’s Director, how much is the rest of the staff being compensated in this equation?

If every True North employee were pulling the same amount as Lead Organizer Saucedo, True North would have about 8 employees. Surely they’re not all being paid this top dollar, so how many are there? The majority of non-profits in Humboldt County aren’t fortunate enough to have a big brother sponsor like HAF providing funds which allow them to hire a score of worker bees.

But maybe a better question to ask is this: just how many people does Patrick Cleary think are necessary to cause unrest in Humboldt County?

Anyhow, before Saucedo got canned from HAF/True North – and, eventually, from College of the Redwoods – she made some serious waves in the local community, ranging from organizing protests, getting fearful citizens riled up about their potential deportations, and even inciting some weird student rebellion at CR.

Unfortunately, a big part of Cleary’s grand vision for Humboldt relied on bringing an “organizer” witha  track record like Saucedo’s to the area with the specific aim of training locals the same tactics that she employs.

(For example, some of her favorites are trying to silence migrants and undocumented workers when they don’t say exactly what she tells them to, and by capitalizing on the fears of Humboldt’s undocumented population to push her own views).

So, was the $55,000 that True North sucked away from donors and other non-profits worth the shit-stirring that Saucedo perpetrated throughout the County? Be sure to thank Patrick Cleary if you think it was.

But let’s get back to True North’s overall finances, specifically their overhead. Between their personnel, travel expenses, general operating expenses, and their rent/utilities/admin fees, True North spent over $700,000 of their total budget on their operations. (What, precisely, their operations are is still up for debate – besides, of course, getting a bunch of people together for protest walks and photo opportunities.)

At our count, 89% of True North’s budget went towards their overhead. THC wonders how all the organizations and local individual donors feel about being suckered into paying for this shit show.

So where exactly did True North’s money go? Paying their unknown number of employees, sending themselves on trips, and generously reimbursing Humboldt Area Foundation for some office space? It’s interesting that Patrick Cleary thought we needed another organization like this in Humboldt County. Apparently he felt that Humboldt Area Foundation wasn’t already enough of a scam.

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County of Humboldt storing their emergency disaster relief vehicles in the heart of the tsunami zone

A while back, we looked at the how the County spent a lot of time and money creating an app to tell folks when they were located in a tsunami zone. We also said that it was a pointless waste, considering that the maps weren’t available for download or offline, and were relatively difficult to find under normal circumstances, let alone one in which you’re scrambling for your life.

But we were wrong.

We argued that spending frivolous time and money on such a pointless emergency service was a total waste, particularly since there are already loads of tsunami warning signs posted throughout the county.

Turns out that there are people stupid enough to not realize that you should get yourself and any necessary, life-saving supplies away from the water’s edge in the event of an earthquake. And those stupid people happen to work for the County of Humboldt.

You see, the County clearly hasn’t taken advantage of the service they put together. If they had, they may have realized it’s a terrible idea to store their emergency relief vehicles – which are intended to provide support and relief to the citizens of Humboldt County should they experience a catastrophe – at the Indianola Mini-Storage and Warehouse.

Right here!

As you might have guessed, that mini-storage is located in Indianola.

In case you’re still as confused as the County, here’s an alternative view – from the County-sponsored tsunami hazard zone map.

Yes, you are correct, all of that yellow shading represents areas which would be susceptible to the run up from a tsunami. And, yes, the Indianola Mini-Storage is in the thick of it.

Now, we’re not going to call them up and tell them exactly how stupid they are for placing critical emergency relief services smack dab in the tsunami catastrophe zone.

But you can. Here’s their phone number: 707-445-6200.

 

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(UPDATE) County of Humboldt to skim off the top of top public employee salaries?

Thank you for all your responses to this past weekend’s post about Redding requiring their top paid officials to contribute 2% of their salaries towards their highly lucrative retirement plans. By and large, we agree with the majority of you who got in touch.

We failed to mention within our post that if the County required the 50 highest paid employees to pay 2% back into their own retirement funds would save Humboldt almost $170,000 per year. But we did remember to mention that on our Facebook page (Go ahead, check it out and give us a “like” – we’ll send you some THC swag if you do!)

It was also suggested to us that we compare a few of the salaries of comparable positions between Eureka and Redding to drive home what a big difference this could make for Humboldt’s biggest city.

Before we do that, let’s quickly remind you that the most recent census estimates peg Eureka’s population at 27,226, and Redding’s population at 91,808. (That’s roughly 337.3% larger than Eureka’s population, by the way.)

So:

Redding – Parks and Facilities Manager – $84,594.16 annual salary, $117,720.43 total compensation

Eureka – Parks and Rec Director (Miles Slattery) – $116,640.00 annual salary, $170,598.73 total compensation.

Redding – Finance Director – $128,395.86 annual salary, $205,020.19 total compensation

Eureka – Finance Director (Wendy Howard) – $117,481.77 annual salary, $181,303.86 total compensation

Redding – Personnel Director – $115,678.89 annual salary, $185,364.34 total compensation

Eureka – Personnel Director (Gary Bird) – $116,640.00, $157,038.13 total compensation

Redding – Public Works Director – $146,906.05 annual salary, $234,457.01 total compensation

Eureka – Director of Public Works (Brian Gerving) – $122,472.00 annual salary, $181,546.62 total compensation

Redding – City Attorney – $157,006.00 annual salary, $250,057.98 total compensation

Eureka – City Attorney (Cyndy Day-Wilson) – $154,856.00 annual salary, $218,678.25 total compensation

Unbelievably, Eureka’s top brass are earning salaries on par with their counterparts in Redding.

Even more unbelievable is that Redding’s annual operating budget for FY 2016-2017 was $293,728,740, while Eureka’s operating budget for 2016-2017 is $64,393,227.

Weird, huh? It’s almost like Eureka’s employee salaries are way more bloated than Redding’s – especially when you consider that Eureka has far more folks with the title of “Director”, and the high compensations that accompany those positions, than a city more than three times the size.

So, what are we paying these people so much for again?

Here’s a link to the full post we ran on Saturday:

County of Humboldt to skim off the top of public employee salaries?

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County of Humboldt to skim off the top of top public employee salaries?

Redding just came out with a brilliant plan to combat the budget deficit facing most of California’s cities and counties: just make the over-paid higher-ups pay for more of their retirement up front.

Sound simple? It is simple! And brilliant. And we like it a lot.

Here’s a link to a story about Redding’s idea:

Redding begins ‘great effort’ to curb pension costs with mandatory kick-ins for top brass

In case you’re too lazy to click over to the link, Redding is essentially requiring that folks in top-level positions contribute 2% of their pre-tax salaries towards their own retirement pension funds. In Redding’s  case, that comes out to 52 employees.

Not much, really, but it’s a start.

Now, true to form for government everywhere, this rosy proposal has it’s fair share of shysty-ness involved, too. We mean this part, where Redding says some of the pay they take from top-earning employees goes straight back to their own coffers:

“It will also save the city about $134,500 per year, Personnel Director Sheri DeMaagd said. Of that, about $38,000 would go to the city’s general fund, about two-thirds of which pays for police and firefighters, among other positions.”

Yes, of course, we agree – the top brass in our own local governments are generally making way fricking more than they should. But docking their pay to funnel back into the general fund is not just unethical, it also doesn’t directly deal with the pension deficit problem.

Honestly, we’d be kind of concerned that our own local idiots would take that extra general fund money and use it to hire even more unnecessary public employees, thereby making the pension problem even worse.

However, THC stands behind the idea that making public employees – particularly the ones bringing in ludicrously high salaries – shoulder more of the cost of providing their ludicrously generous pension plans is fantastic.

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Clueless County of Humboldt holds ADA compliance seminar

Remember how the County of Humboldt has a dismal record when it comes to ADA compliance? You know, a record so bad that the U.S. Department of Justice issued a judgement against the County, mandating that they get their shit together and improve ADA access and services – only to have the County completely ignore the judgement.

Yeah, well, turns out that the big wigs in the County lack any and all self-awareness or sense of irony.

This past Wednesday, the County held a no-cost seminar aimed at “educating” contractors and property managers about ADA requirements and compliance.

From the County website:

“Topics of the training will include:

  • Accessories and clearances
  • Adjusting door closures and automatic door openers
  • Aisle/corridor widths
  • Door maneuvering clearances
  • Furniture and fixtures
  • Mounting heights/reach heights
  • Parking signage, striping and parking stalls
  • Path of travel, minor concrete work, grinding, and asphalt to include parking lots and sidewalks
  • Protruding objects
  • Ramps and stairs
  • Restrooms
  • Signage
  • Terminology”

Unfortunately, the County appears to have forgotten the most valuable topic that potential attendees would need to hear about – how to avoid being complete f***-ups like the County, who have simultaneously failed to serve and accommodate the County’s disabled and also put the entire County at risk of a massive financial penalty thanks to their complete dismissal of the U.S. Department of Justice. (Which, as a rule, really doesn’t like to be ignored.)

Unfortunately for those who attended the seminar, the no-cost training may lead lead to some extremely costly lawsuits or revamps if they’re relying on the County’s advice about compliance.

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A rising prevailing wage sinks all ships

Hey THC fans, checking back in with an update on our post from this past weekend on ridiculously high prevailing wages and the impact that they have on Humboldt’s hopes for affordable housing.

A number of responses came in that absolutely blasted the prevailing wage requirements being proposed in the state legislature by union shills like Kansen Chu, the sponsor of CA Bill 199, which would add a whole laundry list of private housing projects to the type of development subject to paying prevailing wages. Just as a reminder, those types of restrictions are what makes building affordable housing nearly impossible for the private sector, and since the public sector clearly isn’t doing enough to address the housing shortage, Californians are desperate for just such involvement from private developers.

Among the points raise by a few of your fellow readers are that the inflated building costs from prevailing wage applied to current projects could easily be going to shore up issues with roads, public safety, the environment, you name it – but instead those funds are going towards ensuring that Californians have to fight tooth and nail for housing in addition to sub-par services.

Another reader wrote in pointing out the exhaustive amount of funds that go towards over seeing the prevailing wage program, and just how much more effective that money could be spent on housing projects or elsewhere, rather than giving laborers wages that are generally at least three times above the normal wages for any given area.

We even had a THC tipster write in with even more up-to-date specifics about prevailing wages than we were able to turn up. They wanted to make sure that we told all you good readers out there that Humboldt County’s sheet metal workers are officially the highest prevailing wage earners in the area, and pull in a whopping $101.36 per hour.

For reference, that’s just slightly below the same rate that Humboldt’s Health and Human Services Director, Connie Beck, would make if she were paid hourly.

Here’s a link to the full story from the weekend.

Prevailing wage set to sink Humboldt’s Affordable Housing?

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White Supremacy in “McKlanyville”? McMAC set to consider racism in McKinleyville at tonight’s meeting after much delay

That’s right folks. McKlanlyville.

Let all the implications of that wash over you for a moment, but before you laugh, think on this: tonight at 6 p.m., the McKinleyville Municipal Advisory Committee is set to consider placing an in-depth discussion about racism in McKinleyville on a future agenda.

The rumblings about extreme racism in McKinleyville have apparently been simmering for quite some time now, but recently rose to the surface following the much-publicized, and highly divisive, slaying of Josiah Lawson in Arcata this past April.

It was not long after that tragedy when a THC-tipster contacted us about an email they’d received from the professional shit-stirrers over at Humboldt Area Foundation, asking what the community proposed to do about the “hot bed of white supremacy” in McKinleyville. (As an aside, is fueling a debate about how racist or not Humboldt County is something that we really want an organization like HAF getting involved in?)

So, we ask our readers (because we don’t have a clue what goes on up in McKinleyville), is there a basis for concerns about racism – and more specifically, organized white supremacy groups – in Humboldt’s northern reaches? Or is all of this blown out of proportion?

THC shudders to think that any kind of that activity is going on in our beautiful home, but maybe that’s just wishful thinking. If we’re dead wrong, please, enlighten us.

A peculiar twist to this already disturbing issue is a tip we’ve received from an inside source that indicates the man in charge of setting the agenda for the McMAC has been actively trying to avoid bringing the discussion before the committee, and in fact, may have been actively trying to quash the issue altogether.

That man is none other than Humboldt County Planning Commissioner Ben Shepard.

Whether or not white supremacists are working behind the scenes in McKinleyville, we think that actively delaying or discouraging even talking about racism is horrific, especially from a public figure in a position of (relative) power on the McMAC – we hope that bit about Shepard just isn’t true.

We’ll keep you posted as soon as we’re able on precisely what comes out of tonight’s McMAC meeting, and hopefully will have an even bigger scoop from a source close to the effort of driving the discussion about racism in McKinleyville to the forefront of the community’s advisory committee.

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