Monthly Archives: January 2009

A good investment or a junket?

From Jan. 28, 2009 issue

 

By Jack Durham
Press Editor

Dennis Mayo is going to Washington, D.C. to lobby on McKinleyville’s behalf.

But before the McKinleyville Community Services District (MCSD) director visits the capital, he wants to hear from residents about their priorities for the town.

The MCSD is inviting residents to attend a special town-hall meeting next week to give input on McKinleyville’

s long- and short-term needs. The meeting takes place at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 9 at Azalea Hall, 1620 Pickett Road in McKinleyville.

Public input from that meeting will be used to create what the district calls a “needs assessment” that will be used as the basis for lobbying lawmakers.

“What I’m looking for is this community to have a far-reaching discussion about our wish list,” Mayo told his fellow MCSD directors at their Jan. 21 board meeting.

That wish list, Mayo said, could include any number of projects, both within and outside the scope of the MCSD.

The district is concerned with sewer, water, street lights, parks and recreation in the unincorporated community.

MCSD, he explained, might lobby for funds to upgrade sewer and water facilities. Or it might seek grants to build a solar project.

It might even go outside the district’s responsibilities and ask for money for road repair, Mayo said.

$2,000 trip


Those lobbying priorities will ultimately be decided by the MCSD board when it meets in February prior to Mayo’s attendance at the Association of California Water Agencies’

Washington, D.C. Conference Feb. 24 through Feb. 26.

That conference will include educational forums and give attendees an opportunity to hobnob with lawmakers.

At last week’

s meeting, the MCSD board voted unanimously to fund up to $2,000 in travel expenses for Mayo to attend the conference and represent the MCSD.

Mayo told the board that he was optimistic that there will be money available for McKinleyville in the new economic stimulus package and other legislation being considered by Congress.

“I think it’s the right time,”

said an enthusiastic Mayo.

“This is a big deal, and the cost for us to go to D.C. is minimal,”

he said.

Although the vote was unanimously in favor of the trip, some concerns were also expressed.

Director Helen Edwards questioned whether the trip would be effective. She warned that the district would be part of a “feeding frenzy,” and said the district wasn’

t prepared to look at its future needs.

Although it was Director John Corbett who seconded Director Jeff Dunk’

s motion, Corbett too raised some questions about the lobbing effort.

The idea, Corbett said, has lots of potential, but there could also be problems. The trip, he said, could be seen as a junket – a trip funded by the public but used for pleasure –

whether it is or not.

Corbett also made it clear, after Mayo suggested he might lobby to relax environmental review standards, that the board, not just Mayo, would determine the legislative agenda.

Manager Tom Marking also expressed skepticism about the effort, pointing out that the district already belongs to associations that are actively engaged in lobbying efforts.

Marking informed the board that the district already has a legislative agenda –

something which came as a surprise to most directors.

“I’m writing letters all the time,”

Marking said.

“You’re doing a great job,” Mayo responded. “But I see this as a complement, in addition to that.”

Ongoing effort


Mayo acknowledged that there is no guarantee that the lobbying efforts will result in any immediate payback for the district.

It may, he explained, be a long-term investment. As an example, he brought up his successful lobbying to prevent Redwood National and State Parks from phasing out commercial beach fishing.

Mayo began that project in 1999, but it wasn’

t until 2007 that the fishermen were protected in legislation introduced by Congressman Mike Thompson.

The lobbying effort, Mayo said, is also not limited to the Washington, D.C. conference. The wish list that will be created by the board can be used by individual directors as they meet local, state and federal officials.
That effort, Mayo said, should be ongoing.

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Humboldt County Planning Commission

Here’s the agenda for the Feb. 5 Humboldt County Planning Commission meeting. There are some McKinleyville projects on the agenda. They appear to be small projects.

HUMBOLDT COUNTY PLANNING COMMISSION
A G E N D A
FEBRUARY 5, 2009
6:00 p.m.
Board of Supervisors’ Chamber
County Courthouse, Eureka

There will be a break on or about 7:30 p.m.

CALL TO ORDER
SALUTE TO THE FLAG
ROLL CALL
APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES OF JANUARY 29, 2009
AGENDA MODIFICATIONS
At this time, the Chairman will poll the audience and Commissioners concerning items listed under the Public Hearing section of the Agenda. If there are no persons who wish to provide testimony on these projects, the Chair will add these projects to the Administrative Agenda.
SCHEDULED MATTERS
ADMINISTRATIVE AGENDA: The projects listed below are public hearing items which are recommended for approval or conditional approval based on findings in the related staff reports. The Chair will read the item number and project name on the Administrative Agenda and ask if anyone from the audience is interested in presenting testimony on any particular project. Please raise your hand when the Chair has read the project you are interested in discussing and it will be removed from the Administrative Agenda to be heard separately. The Commission’s vote on the Administrative Agenda is final. No project will be heard separately unless it is removed from the Administrative Agenda prior to the vote. If you do not raise your hand, you can assume that the project will be approved.
1. HUMBOLDT ALL FAITH PARTNERSHIP, Arcata Area (5073 Boyd Rd): A two-year extension and monitoring report review for a Conditional Use Permit and Variance for the operation of a night shelter for a maximum of 20 adult men and women is requested. A monitoring report has been submitted and compliance with all conditions has been demonstrated. No changes to the original project are proposed. The extension will facilitate the completion of the approved remodel and addition as funding becomes available. CASE Nos. CUP-06-31X, VAR-06-02X & SP-07-18X; FILE No. 507-261-02. (EB)
2. JUSTIN WALLACE, McKinleyville Area (1121 Boss Rd): A minor subdivision to divide one parcel into 4 residential parcels is requested. A Special Permit is required to allow an existing garage and shed to remain on Proposed Parcel 2 prior to the construction of a main dwelling unit. CASE Nos. PMS-07-22 & SP-08-88; FILE No. 508-341-35. (TE)
PUBLIC COMMENTS
At this time persons may appear before this Commission on any matter not on the Agenda. Persons recognized by the Chair will please address the Commission from the microphone, first identifying themselves by name and address. Time limits will be established by the Chair depending on the number of people wishing to speak and the length of the Agenda for the evening.
CORRESPONDENCE
PUBLIC HEARINGS
The projects listed below are public hearing items that have generated public comment prior to the hearing date or have other issues related to them that may require discussion.
3. RUSSELL MARSH, McKinleyville Area (2078 McKinleyville Ave): A Lot Line Adjustment between two legal parcels is requested. The purpose is to create a parcel large enough to support residential development. NOTE: It is recommended a Negative Declaration be adopted. CASE No. LLA-07-32; FILE Nos. 510-291-27 & -44. (TE)
STAFF RECOMMENDATIONS: Open the Public Hearing; receive the staff report, supplemental information & public testimony; adopt the Negative Declaration; make all the required findings based on evidence in the staff report and public testimony; and approve the project as described in the Agenda Item Transmittal subject to the recommended conditions of approval.
4. 2009 HOUSING ELEMENT UPDATE: Contains policies affecting kinds, locations and intensities of land use and new development within the unincorporated areas of Humboldt County.
STAFF RECOMMENDATIONS: Open the public hearing; receive the staff report, public comment, and supplemental information; give staff direction; and continue the hearing to February 19, 2009 for further review.
OLD BUSINESS
NEW BUSINESS
ADJOURNMENT – THE MEETING MUST ADJOURN BY 9:30 P.M.
NEXT MEETINGS:
FEBRUARY 19, 2009 6:00 PM Permits; Housing Element
FEBRUARY 26, 2009 6:00 PM Housing Element
MARCH 5, 2009 6:00 PM Permits
MARCH 19, 2009 6:00 PM Permits; Housing Element
Any written materials related to an item on this agenda submitted to the Planning Commission less than 72 hours prior to the meeting, and that are public records subject to the Public Records Act, are available for public inspection at the Community Development Services Department located at 3015 H Street, Eureka, California (707-445-7446) during normal business hours.

The Chamber is wheelchair accessible, and disabled parking is available in the lot on K Street, between Fourth and Fifth Streets. If you are a person with a disability, and you need disability-related modifications or accommodations to participate in this meeting, please contact the Planning Division at (707) 445-7541, or (707) 445-7446 (fax). Requests for such modifications or accommodations must be made at least two full business days before the start of the meeting.

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Uproar over Trinidad Councilman’s Blog

From 1.20.09 issue

By Elaine Weinreb
Press Staff Writer

A Trinidad City Councilman’s personal blog has aroused a furor of controversy, leading to accusations by other councilmembers of an invasion of their privacy and a violation of trust.
Councilmembers Kathy Bhardwaj and Julie Fulkerson said they were disturbed to find their private correspondence about city issues posted on Councilman Mike Morgan’s personal blog.
Morgan was careful to say that he was not accusing anybody of violating the Brown Act, but maintains that the councilmembers’ e-mail conversation was “a precarious step in the wrong direction,” and should never have happened in the first place.
Last November, Bhardwaj observed a gravel pad that had been constructed on Trinidad resident Glenn Saunders’ private property. She wondered if he had a construction permit, and emailed other councilmembers, asking for their advice. Saunders had previously donated several acres to the city for a park and museum.
The email conversation soon included Councilmembers Julie Fulkerson and Stan Binnie, as well as former Mayor Chi-Wei Lin.
It touched on political controversies within the city, Saunders’ health problems and procedural issues.
Soon City Attorney Paul Hagen and City Manager Steve Albright had joined in the exchange as well.
Bhardwaj, Fulkerson and others also exchanged emails about the problem of illicit marijuana grow houses in Trinidad.
Mike Morgan had been elected to the council a few weeks earlier, but had not yet been sworn in. Binnie thought that Morgan should be included in the discussion, and on Nov. 26, emailed Morgan copies of the correspondence.
At that time, Morgan did not yet have a blog.
On Dec. 24, Morgan posted all the emails on his personal blog, along with his own comments, stating in the blog that he wanted to keep all his dealings with other councilmembers public.
The issue exploded at the Jan. 14 meeting of the Trinidad City Council.
Bhardwaj said she was appalled to find that a rough draft of a letter she was thinking about writing had been published over her signature.
“Aside from being a total violation of privacy, in no way could my rough draft of a letter be considered an action item for the council. I was even more horrified to find out that citizens’ private business had been posted there,” she said.
Bhardwaj said that she would eschew email from now on, and go back to using the phone.
Morgan replied that Bhardwaj should regret that she wrote the emails, but should not regret that they had been publicized. `The email communications, he said, were questionable, suspicious, did not build trust in the community, and he wanted no part of that sort of communication.
“A way to avoid this whole mess,” Morgan said, “would be to just say ‘I think I see a code violation. I’m not going to talk to a majority of the council members. I’m going to go talk to the city manager.’”
“I was stunned and shocked,” said Fulkerson. “The emails that [Bhardwaj] sent were very thoughtful and appropriate, and to find out they were posted on a public blog are unbelievable.”
Fulkerson, who previously served on the Board of Supervisors and the Arcata City Council, said that people in government commonly check things out with each other, because “not all of us know exactly what to do every minute of the day. We work together as a team.”
A heated three-way argument erupted between Morgan, Fulkerson, and Bhardwaj. Soon the audience members joined in the fray.
“I read Mike’s blog,” said Pat Morales, who had once served on the council. “I was absolutely shocked. I was disgusted and I was disappointed. The City Attorney’s email went on that blog. That could be attorney to client privilege and you broke it.”
“You’ve violated their trust,” she continued. “Each one of these people had their own personal computer, and that was their personal talking to each other, asking questions of each other. Then you accuse them of breaking the Brown Act, which they didn’t do.”
“I read the comments in that blog,” said Trinidad resident Kim Tays, “and it’s very hard for me to see that the blog was done with good will.
“I’m not trying to drag anybody through the mud, but I didn’t create this mud,” said Morgan.
Richard Johnson, the chair of the city’s Planning Commission, observed that the city government was dysfunctional, and needed the services of a counselor.
After nearly an hour of wrangling, the council went on to other issues.
(Editor’s Note: Section 54952.2(b) of the Brown Act states, “Except as authorized pursuant to Section 54953, any use of direct communication, personal intermediaries, or technological devices that is employed by a majority of the members of the legislative body to develop a collective concurrence as to action to be taken on any item by the members of the legislative body is prohibited.” The Brown Act may be read by members of the public at the California Attorney General’s Office website at http://caag.state.ca.us/publications/2003_Intro_BrownAct.pdf.)

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Census Bureau Hiring in McKinleyville

The U.S. Census Bureau will soon be opening offices in the area and planning its operations for conducting the 2010 Census.

The Bureau will be recruiting local people to hold a number of part-time, temporary field positions.

Those include Lister/Address Canvasser at $11.50 per hour, Crew Leader at $13 per hour, Crew Leader Assistant at $11.50 per hour and Field Operations Supervisor at $14.50 per hour.

“The pay is good, the hours are flexible, and the work is close to home,” according to the Census Bureau website.

Every 10 years, the federal government conducts a census of the population. The results help to determine how each geographical area will represented in the government.

Data gathered during the census also help determine how federal money will be spent, whether on health care, education, jobs, home ownership, community safety, community services, or aid for children and seniors.

“Census-taker jobs are excellent for retirees, college students, persons who want to work part-time, persons who are between jobs, or just about anyone who wants to earn extra money while performing an important service for their community,” the website states.

These temporary jobs last between five and 10 weeks.

Census-takers are paid weekly, paid for training, and receive reimbursement for authorized mileage and related expenses.

Bilingual applicants are encouraged, and all applicants must speak English.

Applicants must be at least 18 years old, have a valid social security number, and be registered for the Selective Service

They must also take a 30-minute basic skills test that measures knowledge, skills and abilities to perform a variety of census jobs.

Skills measured are clerical skills, reading, number skills, interpreting information and evaluating alternatives, and organizational skills.

Employment tests will be conducted in McKinleyville Thursday Feb. 5 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Feb. 7 at 2 p.m. Call (866) 861-2010 for information about testing sites.

Applications and forms may be downloaded from the Census Job Posting Website at www.census.gov/rosea/www/emply.html.

Applicants should bring the completed application and I-9 forms, along with valid identification, to the testing site.

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