Texas sheriff, 63, struck and killed by car; why this wouldn’t have happened in California

It will never happen because, by age 63, California sheriff’s will be retired and spending all of their time relaxing at the lake.

Heck, imagining that a sheriff in CA would work past 50 or 55 is a bit of a stretch.

Somebody should tell those Texas sheriffs that they got a raw deal – it’s easier to ride on the dole in California.

RIP to the trooper in question, and thank you for your service.

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2018 Supervisor Election Preview: Airhead vs. Pothead, Gnome vs. Native

Now that 2017’s exhilarating election is behind us, we can look forward to a couple of races that will have a real impact on the County’s future.

And THC is taking you straight to the top of the ticket, with two races for Supervisors seats that could well shift the balance of power in Humboldt County.

At least, there’s potential for the outcome of these races to up-end the status quo, but whoever gets elected, don’t count on Humboldt suddenly becoming an efficient utopia that actually focuses on the needs of its citizens.

We’d need a more self-aware, intelligent, and gracious leader for that – maybe someone like Trump, for example.

Anyhow, here’s an overview of what the races will look like (so far):

4th District – The Pothead vs. The Airhead

In one corner, we’ve got upstart politician and cannabis crusader, Dani Burkhart. Word is she is strong on pot, high on pot, and relatively undecided on just about any other issue. In her defense, it’s like, pretty hard these days to find the motivation to make up your mind about anything.

In a statement, she says she’ll bring a “holistic” approach to the job, which is weird because we’ve never heard of that strain before. Her schtick sounds great, but in our opinion, she’s un-electable due to her ties to the cannabis industry. There are too many folks who aren’t down with that in the 4th District for it to work. But we also said Bass is un-electable last time around, so who knows.

In the other corner…err, more precisely,sort of opposite from Burkhart (Virginia couldn’t find the corner, bless her heart), we’ve got resident airhead/incumbent, Virginia Bass.

Seeking her third term, Bass is running on the same platform we hear from every candidate – jobs! Homeless! Housing! Of course, between the amount of time she spends either at conferences or on vacation in Hawaii, Bass hasn’t really done much in any of those areas of concern. (Even the Betty Chinn hobo container thing was Rex Bohn’s doing.)

But on second thought, her time away might be a good thing – the less time she spends here f***ing things up, the better off we probably are.

*As an added bonus, we also understand that Mary Ann Lyons, a former organizer for the local Obama campaign, intends to run. We don’t know much about her except for her involvement in successful campaigns for people we don’t agree with – Austin Allison and Allen McCloskey – but she sure knows what she’s doing. If she runs, we think it goes her way. We’ll update you as things develop with her.

5th District – The Native vs. The Gnome

Humboldt’s Native son, Ryan Sundberg:

Here’s a nice piece in Humboldt magazine, which details how Sundberg rode his way to office on the coattails of his family and with the sway of the rancheria behind him: http://magazine.humboldt.edu/fall11/ryan-sundberg/

Amazingly, Sundberg has a business degree. Even more amazing, though, is how quick he is to tout his experience at the rancheria bringing jobs to Humboldt, when he’s done nothing of the sort after 7-ish years as a Supervisor. Go ahead and congratulate yourself, Ryan.

Lastly, let’s not forget Steve “The Gnome” Madrone, either. He’s super smart, is into most things watershed, and he’s got a groovy vibe. Check it:

In the Mad River Union, Madrone touted his experience pulling various weeds in ditches, and then planting those weeds in a different ditch, as the kind of problem-solving he’d bring to the table as a Supervisor.

Yes, seriously. Read a copy posted on LoCO:

Who is Sungnome Madrone? Candidate for Fifth District Supervisor Outlines His Platform, Experience

Now, if you’ve been paying attention to our brief guide, you’ll have noticed one similarity between all candidates – they all tout their ability to bring jobs to Humboldt County. Of course, not a single one of these folks can point to any experience in actually accomplishing that goal, nor have they demonstrated any capability to when given the chance. That includes both Bass and Sundberg, despite what their campaigns may tell you. 

But there’s another underlying similarity that ties them all together – none of them are qualified in the slightest. Between the four, we’ve got a cannabis consultant, a watershed expert, a former food server, and an insurance broker/casino lackey. Yay?

But, backgrounds aside, we don’t see the qualifications to tackle the issues we need solved. Long story short, it doesn’t matter what side you’re rooting for here. In the long run, you lose.

Though we hesitate to support any of them, we give a slight edge to the challengers – at least they haven’t proved to be totally inept panderers that are only interested in securing their pensions and paychecks.

Then again, we might eat our words. In any case, we can all look forward being thoroughly disappointed come the end of 2018.

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THC POLL: Who’s the biggest lush on the Board of Supervisors?

For all their faults, some of Humboldt’s Supervisor’s like to party. And we can’t fault them for that. Besides, drunkenness is pretty much the only way we can explain most of the boneheaded decisions they make.

But we’ve caught wind over the last year or two about a particular Supervisor who just happens to like the sauce a wee bit too much apparently.

We’ll set the scene for you: a gathering of many  County Supervisors from around the state, who all get together for some dinner and a drinks after a long day of meetings (presumably about doing things to benefit their area, wish our Supervisors took those lessons to heart.) One Supervisor, from Humboldt County, goes a little over board and ends up causing quite the scene – we’re talking crying, yelling, spilling the beans on personal problems, etc. – in front of their peers. And apparently, this lewd behavior was not just a one time thing.

When we first heard this, we brushed it off as an exaggeration. Plus, as devout Hard Lemonade enthusiasts, we also felt a little protective of a Supervisor’s right to throw one or two back.

Alas, in this day and age, even THC has to watch how much we imbibe, and that’s just because mom keeps getting mad at us for peeing in the corner of the basement.

So can you imagine just how wildly inappropriate and embarrassing it is for an elected official to go over the top and cause a scene in front of their peers? We’re talking about embarrassing for our county, by the way, as  the Supervisor in question clearly has gotten over their hangups about being a drunken mess.

And, yeah, this is really more of a THC Pop Quiz than it is a Poll, because there is a correct answer here. But we’re curious just how widespread the reputation of our resident wino-Supervisor exactly is.

So, without further ado, please tell us:

Who’s the biggest lush on the Board of Supervisors?

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Harbor District tabs Larry Oetker as next Executive Director

According to THC’s usually reliable network of informants, we are hearing that Larry Oetker, formerly the Director of Community Development, is set to become the next Executive Director of Humboldt’s Harbor District.

THC thinks this is actually a kick-ass move, and that it will hopefully help the Harbor District move away from it’s shady and financially disastrous past few years.

Though we are shocked to say this, Arcata has shown that is is head and shoulders above every other local jurisdiction when it comes to sensible governance and the ability to balance attracting business and ensuring environmental protection.

Oetker was instrumental in a lot of Arcata’s works, and we’ve got high hopes for him at the Harbor District. Now, if only he can wrest control away from the nincompoops and swindlers that act as Commissioners, our harbor might show signs of life.

Oetker will fill the role of former Executive Director Jack Crider, who’s tenure at the Harbor District was an absolute nightmare.

Read more about that here:

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

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Wait, there was an election yesterday? Post-election round up: taxes bad, cannabis is king, CR still screwed

Shit, we slept right through yesterdays election, Humboldt! That’s because we always vote absentee, but even so…we almost completely forgot about it!

And it’s okay if you did too.

A quick round-up:

  • Cannabis rules everything around us, including Rio Dell now.
  • The good people of Blue Lake don’t like taxes, especially for b.s. fire chief salaries
  • College of the Redwoods has two new Board members. We look forward to absolutely nothing positive or of substance happening for the school.

What really piqued our interest about the College of the Redwoods board election was one of the incumbents’ claims that “outside interests” conspired to hand his opponent, Dan Kelley, the win on election night. While that sounds scary –  like we touched on yesterday – are we seriously to believe that Humboldt’s rampant corruption trickled down into CR’s election race simply because there was nowhere else for it to go? We suppose that Robert Mueller won’t be bringing the hammer down on CR’s election scandal any time soon, but the real question is – why was there such a (relative) uproar over school board seats?

Apparently, according to the bastion of neutral, non-partisan thought which is the Lost Coast Outpost, liberals celebrated the wins of newcomers Kelley and Bonnie Deister, and good for them.

But again…what are we cheering for here? Moral victories? Getting to tell snobby conservatives to suck it because liberals totally run CR now? Or is this the final piece in the puzzle that allows liberals to brainwash Humboldt’s young adults with the liberal agenda?

As for Rio Dell and Blue Lake, it seems that the only inevitable thing in Humboldt County nowadays is pot and taxes. So, THC extends our hearty congratulations to Blue Lake for staving off the inexorable march of fire taxes. Huzzah!

Rio Dell was not so lucky, but hey, now they can also hang their hopes and dreams on a cannabis tax revenue that will likely never materialize at the expected levels. Welcome to the party Rio Dell, you and the County of Humboldt will get along great.

Now that we’ve got all that out of the way, we can finally focus on next year’s big election, which most importantly (for Humboldt) features two Supervisorial showdowns.

THC has our first round of coverage on those races coming up this weekend, in a piece tentatively titled “Gnomes and Natives, Potheads vs. Airheads.”

Stay tuned!

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Leaked report: Mueller to target Humboldt County after wrapping up Russian interference investigation

This just in: Robert Mueller has vowed that he will swiftly turn his attention towards improper conduct in Humboldt County once he concludes his investigation into President Trump and Russian meddling in the presidential election.

“It’s only natural I take on the task of rooting out the stench of corruption in one of the U.S.’ s most politically corrupt areas,” Mueller said to a room crowded with journalists, who all quietly asked their neighbor where the hell Humboldt is.

Though Humboldt’s not big on the national radar, anyone who has had their ear to the ground over the past 15 years will tell you that any one of our bigger elections was chock full of back-room collusion at the least, if not outright improper conduct and fundraising shenanigans.

And, let’s be real, anonymous donors and bags of cash on the door step are just kind of the way things have been done around here for a while.

At THC, we assume that this includes almost any and every “major” politician in our County, considering that each and every one of our Supervisors were rumored to be on the take from cannabis farmers or developers or environmental groups at one time or another.(THC, in fact, has semi-implicated all three groups. Whoops!)

But will Mueller’s investigation stop there? Aside from the usual suspects in office, who would draw attention in our local scene for being a little too chummy with our politicos?

Most recently, Humboldt’s anti-Harbor folks got there panties all bunched up over the Harbor District race, when people were throwing out accusations at Greg Dale for his involvement in deals made with the company he runs. (Also of note – apparently all those accusations were bullshit, because the lawsuit against Dale and the Harbor District has gone exactly nowhere. Sorry Greg!)

But who could Mueller target? We’d assume that an easy – and popular! – candidate for investigation would be Humboldt’s wayward son, Robin Arkley, but that’s just too easy. But we’re guessing Mueller wouldn’t have to look far when it comes to ol’ Rob, either.

(THC has also personally contacted Mueller’s office to request that he determine once and for all who has the biggest ego, Trump or Arkley, but that could take years. Fingers crossed, kiddos.)

Of course, we’d be happy to help Mueller in any way that we can – especially since we have reason to believe Russian meddling impacted one of Humboldt’s most prestigious annual elections just this past year. (In case you need a refresher on that dastardly deed: BREAKING: Russian hacking, HAF behind Cleary’s sudden win in THC’s biggest asshole competition

So…who’s on the person of interest list, Humboldt?

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Humboldt County courts Amazon’s second headquarters; offers to rename County and all of County’s land

You may have heard about giant company Amazon and their search for a city to locate their. Cities throughout the U.S. have been falling all over themselves to bring Amazon to their backyard, hungry for the promise of creating 50,000 new jobs. Amazon went ahead and asked cities to sell the company on why they should be lucky enough to host the new mega-site.

Here’s a link to Amazon’s request for proposals: Amazon RFP

Humboldt County, no stranger to lack of an economic future of any kind, made sure to plan a proposal of their own – and it’s a doozy.  THC is confident in saying that, at no other time in our County’s history, has the evidence of our elected leaders’ desire and willingness to bring businesses and jobs to our communities been put so proudly on display.

THC has luckily gotten our hands on a copy of Humboldt’s proposal letter. Unfortunately, it’s unclear whether the County was ultimately successful in actually submitting the proposal, with all of those cannabis permits they’re busy doing nothing with taking up so much of their time. But at least they tried, right everybody?

We’ve only included Humboldt County’s answers to the direct questions posed by Amazon – we’ll work on uploading the entire document in the near future.

AMAZON RFP RESPONSE

County of Humboldt

Amazon Question 1: 1. Please provide information regarding potential buildings/sites that meet the criteria described herein. Along with general site information, please provide the current ownership structure of the property, whether the state/province, or local governments control the property, the current zoning of the site, and the utility infrastructure present at  the site.

Humboldt Answer 1: Okay so, there’s like totally lots of industrial land here like tons of it but it’s all pretty much in the coastal zone so we can’t really tell you if you can use it or not, gotta ask permission from Coastal Commission but that’s no prob because our boy Sundberg’s on the commission so it’s a no brainer. And we own all that stuff, the zoning is terrible and we can’t really do much for you because we’ve never done anything to accommodate any business before and we’re super afraid of change so why try right? Haha, p.s. does your business involve boats? That’ll be a problem. But we’ll navigate that channel when we get to it, right?

Amazon Question 2: Please provide a summary of total incentives offered for the Project by the state/province and local community. In this summary, please provide a brief description of the incentive  item, the timing of incentive payment/realization, and a calculation of the incentive amount. Please describe any specific or unique eligibility requirements mandated by each incentive  item. With respect to tax credits, please indicate whether credits are refundable,  transferable, or may be carried forward for a specific period of time. If the incentive includes free or reduced land costs, include the mechanism and approvals that will be required. Please also include all timelines associated with the approvals of each incentive. We acknowledge a Project of this magnitude may require special incentive legislation in order for the state/province to achieve a competitive incentive proposal. As such, please indicate if any incentives or programs will require legislation or other approval methods. Ideally, your submittal includes a total value of incentives, including the specified benefit time period.

Humboldt Answer 2: Uhhh….can you define incentive for us? One time, we had an economic development person and they made a bunch of videos of the beach. Like that?

Amazon Question 3: If any of the programs or incentives described in the summary of total incentives are  uncertain or not guaranteed, please explain the factors that contribute to such uncertainty and estimate the approximate level of certainty. Please also describe any applicable claw backs or recapture provisions required for each incentive item.

Humboldt Answer 3: No uncertainty here whatsoever – we’re absolutely certain there will be no incentives! BOOM! Next question.

Amazon Question 4: Please provide a timetable for incentive approvals at the state/province and local levels, including any legislative approvals that may be required.

Humboldt Answer 4: ….pass?

Amazon Question 5: Please provide labor and wage rate information in the general job categories described.Please provide relevant labor pool information and your ability to attract talent regionally. Also, include specific opportunities to hire software development engineers and recurring sourcing opportunities for this type of employment. Please include all levels of talent available in the MSA, including executive talent and the ability to recruit talent to the area.

Humboldt Answer 5: Oh, tons of talent for you to recruit around here. Loads of it. You won’t even have to do recruiting, Humboldt County naturally attracts talented individuals who work hard, and we’re totally not suffering the effects of brain drain.

Amazon Question 6: Please include programs/partnerships currently available and potential creative programs with higher education institutions in the region in your response. Please also include a list of universities and community colleges with relevant degrees and the number of students  graduating with those degrees over the last three years. Additionally, include information on your local/regional K-12 education programs related to computer science.

Humboldt Answer 6: Well we’ve got HSU and they’re….actually, pass.

Amazon Question 7: Please provide highway, airport, and related travel and logistics information for all proposed sites. Please also include transit and transportation options for commuting employees living in the region. For each proposed site in your region, identify all transit options, including bike lanes and pedestrian access to the site(s). Also, list the ranking of traffic congestion for your community and/or region during peak commuting times.

Humboldt Answer 7: This is like, a really long RFP, Amazon. Not cool.

Amazon Question 8:Please include information on your community with respect to daily living, recreational opportunities, diversity of housing options, availability of housing near potential sites for HQ2, and pricing, among other information. Please also include relevant crime data and cost of living data.

Humboldt Answer 8: Let’s see…wait! We actually do have outdoor recreational opportunities! And mini-golf! We’re pretty desperate for housing but we’re thinking that you could just have your employees crash out at their desks, or maybe get some cots together in the warehouse? They could always stay at the old K-mart, but we hear it’s filling up fast so you guys will probably want to put down a deposit. Let’s skip the crime part.

Amazon Question 9: Please use your response as an opportunity to present any additional items and intangible considerations with respect to your state/province and community that Amazon should include in its analysis.

Humboldt Answer 9: We’ve got a lot of pot. And you can rename the County whatever you want, like Amazonia or something. Hell Jeff Bezos can have all 5 supervisors positions for life.

Cultural Community FitThe Project requires a compatible cultural and community environment for its long-term success. This includes the presence and support of a diverse population, excellent institutions of higher education, local government structure and elected officials eager and willing to work with the company, among other attributes. A stable and consistent business climate is important to Amazon. Please demonstrate characteristics of this in your response. We encourage testimonials from other large companies.

Humboldt: Oh we’ve got great testimonials. Here:

PL/Maxxam – “We are broke”
Yakima – “We moved”
Green Diamond – “Oregon’s Nice, wanna buy some property?”
Sierra Pacific – “Went to high school there, ahh the memories”
LP – “Ungrateful assholes”
Umpqua Bank – “We moved”
Evergreen Pulp – “China’s better”
United Airlines – “Good return on investment”
Cannabis Farmers – “Makes excellent pancakes”

That’s all THC could drum up for now, readers. We’ll see what else we can get our hands on.

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Is Humboldt County’s soaring violent crime rate mostly limited to criminals and addicts?

While going through some clippings from the Times-Standard that get sent our way, we stumbled on a front page column about rising violent crime rates that caught our attention:

FBI: Violent crime up 26.5 percent in Humboldt County

Now, granted, the THC reader who passed this along to us is a particularly opinionated when it comes to the violent impacts of, in their words, “tweeker on tweeker” crime in our County. And they were very clear in their belief that all of Humboldt’s major crime problems can be boiled down to “tweekers, hobos, and drug dealers.”

Photo taken at former site of the Betty Chinn container village

But THC wonders – can it all truly be boiled down to that?

By our count, there must be at least 15-16 active homicide cases in the County’s DA office at the moment. For a county with our population, suffice it to say that we’re hurting each other in Humboldt County at the second-highest rate in the state. Hooray?

Far as we can tell from skimming headlines, the majority of them are not necessarily related to drugs, crime, or homelessness (although it can be argued that quite a few of the actors involved in the majority of these crimes appear to have a hand in a certain industry).

So, you tell us – why did the crime rate rise a whopping 26.5 percent in Humboldt County from 2015 to 2016?

More food for thought; if you care for some wild (and questionably accurate, though based on FBI crime numbers) statistics from a non-government website, check this place out: NeighborhoodScout.com

According to those folks, Eureka is safer than a total of 1% of cities across the United States, and you’ve got a 1 in 163 chance of being the victim of violent crime there. Not great odds, eh? But throw property crime in the mix, and you’ve got a 1 in 13 chance of being victim of a crime. Holy shit, right?

Eureka is by far the worst off in Humboldt – but it’s not like our other population centers are winning awards, either.

Again according to NeighborhoodScout, Arcata is safer than only 5% of cities in California, as is Fortuna. (We’re not touching on McKinleyville, because their stats are skewed thanks to not being incorporated.

So what gives? Is all of Humboldt County just one giant thunderdome? Or is our passionate reader correct in that we have an almost completely drug-related crime problem?

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Return to the Palco Marsh: City of Eureka now returning homeless to the waterfront with help from PG&E, Chinn

No, Humboldt, you’re not imagining things. Roughly a year and half after the City of Eureka evicted a ton of homeless folks from the Palco Marsh, the City has come up with a great new plan to create up to 24 new homeless housing units – and they’re proposing to put these units a short stroll away from the area the homeless were evicted from.

Sure, the proposed camp – which you can read more about here – will feature some new amenities like refurbished construction trailers, better facilities and presumably some supervision.

But the proposal to house a small percentage of the area’s homeless back in the marsh area begs a question – just what in the hell is the City of Eureka doing about the homeless problem, anyway? It sure seems to THC like this new plan – cooked up between the City, PG&E, and the Betty Chinn Foundation – is merely bringing us full circle to where the homeless will once again be given permission to occupy publicly owned lands. To essentially the same place that, once again, the City expended a shit ton of time and money to get people out of.

So what gives? We’ve said before that Eureka’s eviction of the homeless in the Palco Marsh had very little to do with helping the homeless or protecting the community, and everything to do with the sweet, sweet cash that the City received to build the trail. Not to mention the money the City hopes will roll in from tourists who will use the trail.

It seems like the City proposing to move homeless back into these areas is an indication that, indeed, solving the issue for both the homeless and the greater community was not the driving force behind the marsh eviction.

And, judging from the eyeball test, the City’s efforts haven’t made any dent in the local homeless population. Take a look around Eureka, or all of Humboldt County, and see for yourself. Do you honestly believe there are less homeless? For the record, THC does not think that the annual pilgrimage of trimmers can account for the surge in numbers.

A reader suggested to us that there are more homeless in the area than this time last year, and we have to wonder – do housing facilities such as the Blue Angel Village or the proposed PG&E site do anything to reduce the homeless problem, or are they contributing to it?

We’ve long been fans of Betty Chinn’s work – at least someone is trying to do something quantifiable about the issue. But if the City continues supporting and creating opportunities for homeless to receive exceptional support and housing, is this solving the problem? Or has it gone from helping the community combat homelessness to enabling homelessness to expand?

THC would hazard a guess that we’re experiencing an influx. And since you asked, no, the proposed PG&E/Chinn site does not solve many of the problems that the community has had with . One might say it could even increase foot traffic that businesses and residents objected to in the past because the new site is even further from critical homeless services than the old encampment. Aside from moving the problem further away from the public view, it doesn’t accomplish many of the larger goals.

And that’s not good enough. We don’t want to keep sweeping problem under the rug – we want to actually make improvements. Seems like the City of Eureka is content to just keep passing the buck.

We hear the new trail is nice, though.

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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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