Monthly Archives: June 2012

Local government watchdog David Elsebusch has died

(This will be updated as more information becomes available.)

Updated with corrections and additional information on Sunday evening, July 1.

By Jack Durham
Press Editor

David Elsebusch, a relentless critic of local government who ran for public office several times, died Thursday morning, June 28 at his home in McKinleyville. He was 77 years old.

According to his wife of 52 years, Penny, he “passed away in his sleep peacefully from heart-related issues.”

“It is assumed that his heart just stopped, as he had been having heart issues and had been going to the San Francisco VA for various tests and was scheduled for an angiogram in less than two weeks from his death,” Penny wrote in an email to the Press.

Elsebusch was a regular at local government meetings, often commenting on issues before the McKinleyville Community Services District Board of Directors and the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors.

Racing fan

Elsebusch’s other passions included auto racing and vintage race cars.

He regularly attended races at Redwood Acres in Eureka and wrote a column called “Motorsports” for the McKinleyville Press. Elsebusch routinely lobbied the McKinleyville Press to make as much room possible for photos of the racers so they could be recognized for their accomplishments on the track.

He loved vintage race cars – not just sports cars, but vehicles that had an actual racing history, like his early 1960s two-seater Lotus Seven,

David enjoyed traveling to vintage auto races with Penny.

(Here’s David Elsebusch racing his Lotus (No. 14) at Laguna Seca.)

Before Humboldt

Elsebusch was born in Los Angeles, attended Los Angeles City College and majored in wildlife management and business at Los Angeles State College.

He served in the United States Marines and excelled in rifle shooting contests. He soon became a rifle coach. He was a member of the sea-going detachment aboard an aircraft carrier.

Elsebusch described his business career in a biography he posted on the League of Women Voters Smart Voter website when he ran for a seat on the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District 1999. Elsebusch wrote “After serving as a Resident Adjuster in San Diego and Claim Manager for major insurance companies, I became the Director of Internal Audit of a large nation-wide insurance company with responsibilities for auditing branch offices for compliance with laws and corporate policies, accurate financial reports, performed operational audits, and investigated fraudulent claims and employee dishonesty.”

David and Penny became acquainted with Humboldt County during their many travels up the coast from Los Angeles to Canada over a period of 35 years.

According to Penny, they “usually traveled in December as crab season was open and would stop in Trinidad to pick up cooked crabs at Katy’s Smokehouse and usually stayed somewhere in Trinidad a couple of days of the trip and ate crab.”

In 1993, the couple moved to McKinleyville.

Elsebusch then acquired a California Independent Insurance Adjusters license and started a business, Crocker Claims Service of Northern California, investigating and adjusting property, casualty, fire, inland marine, and worker’s compensation claims. He was also a licensed private investigator

Vocal critic

David Elsebusch and Penny became regulars at local government meetings, commenting on multiple issues, requesting public documents and acting as watchdogs.

No one seemed immune to David’s criticisms. He often accused board members of incompetence, mismanaging public funds and, sometimes, corruption. There were no sacred cows that were sparred from his critical testimony at meetings and multiple scathing letters to the editor.

He criticized the McKinleyville Community Services District, the Board of Supervisors, local school boards, the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District, the Arcata Fire Department and the McKinleyville Press, to name a few.

While the man speaking from the dais could come off as a harsh critic, in private conversations he was amicable and had a good sense of humor.

Elsebusch served twice on the Humboldt County Grand Jury. He ran unsuccessfully several times for a seat on the McKinleyville Community Services District board. He also ran for the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District. At the time of his death, he was the vice president of the Humboldt County taxpayers League.

For almost all his life, Elsebusch was a member of the Audubon Society. He was also a member of the Sierra Club.

Reaction to his passing

After Elsebusch died early Thursday morning, word spread quickly through the community.

On the McKinleyville Press Blog and Facebook page, readers of the McKinleyville Press said they would miss his commentary.

One person wrote that Elsebusch “never held back from bringing up varied points and perspectives, which fostered thought. McKinleyville won’t be the same!”

Fifth District Supervisor Ryan Sundberg wrote “Dave and I always had a friendly banter, back and forth. My father passed at 38 years old (I was 15), but as time has passed, I feel lucky to have him that long. I know many people who never had a father. My thoughts and prayers are with the family at this very difficult time.”

The Board of Supervisors was scheduled Tuesday, July 3, to adjourn its meeting in memory of Elsebusch.

On his Samoa Softball blog, Richard Marks wrote “David was one of a kind. Opinionated, vocal and confident in his ideals. I first ran across David and his wife Penny at Citizens Port Development meetings in the 90’s while I worked for Louisiana Pacific. They were a great tag team when it comes to politics. Robin and I saw and visited David and Penny at stock car races, and they both had articles reporting the races locally. David once wrote a letter to the editor challenging people to run for office and it was that little push that had me sign up years back. And while he did not necessarily agree with my politics, he wrote me a check to start me on my way. Some people just gripe and complain and do nothing to try to solve issues. This was not David. He was feet first in controversy. He will be sorely missed in this community.

‘I did it my way’

David and Penny owned every single Frank Sinatra album, which David played frequently. According to Penny, David loved the song “I Did It My Way” and felt it epitomized his life.

And now, the end is here

And so I face the final curtain

My friend, I’ll say it clear

I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain

I’ve lived a life that’s full

I traveled each and ev’ry highway

And more, much more than this, I did it my way.

Elsebusch is survived by his wife of 52 years, Penny, of McKinleyville; daughter Kandice Astamendi and her husband Michael of Toluca Lake; and grandson Cole of Toluca Lake.

Per David Elsebusch’s wishes, no funeral services will be held. He’ll be cremated.



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Front page 6.27.12

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Enjoy a Summer Day’s Bike Ride on Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway Sunday Without Traffic

We received this yesterday, after the Press had been printed and distributed. So here it is on the blog:

From RNSP:

Enjoy a Midsummer Day’s Bike Ride on Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway Sunday

Redwood National and State Parks invite the public to enjoy “A Midsummer Day’s Bike Ride” at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park this Sunday. In celebration of summer vacation, the summer solstice, and just plain summer fun, the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway will be closed to vehicle traffic all day Sunday, June 24, 2012. The closure offers the public a chance to safely explore the beauty of the redwoods on bike or foot without competing traffic. And, it’s free!

The parkway gates will be closed to vehicle access at 10 pm on June 23rd and reopened at 10 pm on June 24th. Whether you are a child on a tricycle, your first two-wheeler, or an adult daydreaming of Tour de France glory, this is an excellent opportunity for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy walking or biking without the worry of traffic.

Redwood National and State Parks staff especially hope that families will take advantage of the closure and bring their children out for a ride or walk. Mounting evidence from recent studies suggest that being outdoors connects children to the natural world, helps them focus in school, and reduces chances of obesity. Even in places like Northern California and Southern Oregon where opportunities for outdoor recreation abound, too many children today spend far more time inside than out. Walking or biking with
children through the wonders of the ancient coast redwood forest not only helps young people get physical exercise and enjoy quality time with family, but it also fosters a better understanding and appreciation of the environment in which they live and a burgeoning enthusiasm for exploration.

Visitors wishing to take advantage of this event should park vehicles appropriately: South of the closure, park only in designated spaces parallel to the roadway and adjacent to Elk Prairie in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park—do not block the gate or park in lots reserved for visitor center or backcountry use. In the north, parking is available at the junction of Coastal Drive and Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway—again, please do not block the gate. All park trails will remain open and Elk Prairie Campground, the Prairie Creek Visitor Center, and Davidson Road out to Gold Bluffs Beach and Fern Canyon will still be accessible by vehicle.

For more information, maps, and suggestions for exploring your parks, stop by any visitor center: Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center off US 101 just south of Orick, Calif.; Prairie Creek Visitor Center at Elk Prairie on the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway; Hiouchi Information Center off US 199 near Hiouchi, Calif.; Jed Smith Visitor Center in the Jedediah Smith Campground off US 199; and, the Crescent City Information Center located at 1111 Second Street in Crescent City, Calif. All five visitor centers are open seven days a week during this time of year. Information can also be obtained by calling (707) 465-7335 (M-F) or visiting the RNSP website at:

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United Nations conspiracy in General Plan update?

From the June 20, 2012 edition

By Daniel Mintz
Press Staff Writer

The county’s General Plan Update has been criticized as the outcome of a global initiative that began in the United Nations and is now being manipulatively carried out in communities across the country.
That argument has been advanced by Karen Brooks, the challenger in the recent Third District supervisors election and Kay Backer, the representative of the HELP developers group, who wrote a May 10 My Word guest opinion in the Times-Standard newspaper titled “Look Out for Hand of the U.N. in County Planning Process.”
It’s been ridiculed as a farfetched conspiracy theory by some but Backer, whose guest opinion suggested that the county’s public process has relied on mind control techniques, said it’s an opinion shared by the people she associates with.
Her piece quotes Rosa Kiore, author of the book “Behind the Green Mask: U.N. Agenda 21,” on the Delphi Technique, which Kiore describes as a “Cold War mind control technique” that’s  used to channel a group of people to accept a point of view that is imposed on them while convincing them that it was their idea.”
For some who’ve been involved in the General Plan Update (GPU) process, Kiore’s description has the ring of truth. “The members of HELP have been living that experience,” Backer said in an interview.
Brooks has also commented on “meeting manipulation” as it relates to Agenda 21, an encompassing U.N. initiative that was introduced in 1992 and promotes sustainable development and economic equality. She noted that President George H.W. Bush signed onto it.
“This isn’t a right/left, liberal/conservative thing,” she continued. “The idea is that they’re taking people out of rural lands and putting them into urban areas – they’re limiting our choices.”
Focusing new development in urbanized, utility-serviced areas is a recommended strategy of the GPU, as is reducing car use and driving distances by locating new housing near jobs and commercial services. Brooks said the GPU’s Climate Action Plan is based on the directives of the International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), an Agenda 21-related global association of governments that supports smart growth and sustainable development.
“There’s enough connection that it should cause people to pause,” she said. Asked how she’d respond to those who’d brush it off as a conspiracy theory, Brooks responded, “It’s a conspiracy but it’s not a theory.”
At the June 12 Board of Supervisors meeting, Brooks asked why Supervisors Mark Lovelace and Clif Clendenen signed on to ICLEI after they were elected but before they took office. Humboldt County is listed as one of ICLEI’s member governments.
Lovelace, who Brooks challenged in the recent election, said he and Clendenen were clearly listed as supervisors-elect when they signed on and they did so as individuals.
Before he was elected, Lovelace was a leader of the Healthy Humboldt Coalition, which is considered as HELP’s alter ego. He said he was at GPU scoping meetings beginning more than a decade ago and disagrees that they were manipulative.
He described the allegations as “unsupported scare tactics” and added, “To say we’re in lockstep with the U.N. on cold war mind control techniques – I’m not going to validate that ridiculous assertion.”
Lovelace also questioned why sustainability would be considered objectionable. “The earth has finite resources and we should be aware of the consequences of our actions as human beings – if that’s a radical notion, then so be it,” he said.
Asked about the influence of Agenda 21, Martha Spencer, the county’s Interim Planning Director, said that “I’ve never read it and I can’t even begin to comment on it because I don’t know what it is.”
She said the only meetings that were facilitated were 2004’s series of Deliberative Dialogues meetings sponsored by the Humboldt Area Foundation. The GPU includes policies that favor mixed use development in urban areas but Spencer pointed out that it also makes room for additional rural development.
“The amount of developable parcels is included in the Environmental Impact Report and we think there’s plenty available in the rural lands,” she said.
Spencer added, “My question to Kay Backer would be, ‘What is wrong with a sustainable community?’”
“Smart growth is a buzz word and it’s what everybody wants us to do but in a rural community like Humboldt, it just doesn’t work,” Backer said. “For a metropolitan area, it makes sense and infill makes sense, but trying to do social engineering is not this country’s system.”


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High schools ban cyber bullies

This is from the June 13, 2012 edition. Subscribers read this a week ago in the dead tree version. Click here to subscribe.

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By Elaine Weinreb
Press Staff Writer

Local teens who use the internet to bully or harass others may find themselves in trouble with their school.
The Northern Humboldt Union High School District is adopting a policy that prohibits “harassing, teasing, intimidating, threatening or terrorizing another student or staff member by way of any technological tool, such as sending an inappropriate or derogatory email message, telephone message, instant message, test message, digital picture or image or website posting including a… blog.”
Students are prohibited from accessing social networking sites while using school computers, and the school district is blocking access to such sites “to the extent possible.”
The two-page long policy was part of a lengthy packet of related policies prohibiting other types of harassment, intimidation, and discrimination.
Language was added that also makes bullying prohibited even if it occurs outside the regular school day if it subsequently affects school activities or school attendance.
Superintendent Kenny Richards said that students at all three of the district’s high schools had been victimized by “social drama” created by the inappropriate use of cell phones.
“It created a problem at the school,” he added. “Sometimes cyberbullying has to be addressed at the school level even though it happens outside.”
Asked how the administration could enforce behavior that occurs when school is not in session, Richards said that his role was to act as a peacemaker.
“You have to bring people together and say ‘You can’t say that about Sarah,’” he said. “If there’s a veiled threat, then it goes to a different level. You may have to use a counselor; maybe notify parents that somebody threatened your son or daughter over the phone.”
“It’s saying that any student who feels he’s harassed should immediately contact somebody,” commented board member Colleen Toste. “Or anybody that observes an incident.”
Board member Mike Pigg said that he had heard of students being verbally abused on cellphones and abused on Facebook.
Richardson added that threats could be reported to the Sheriff’s office if they occurred outside the school.
“We only want to get involved when it impacts the school,” commented Chris Hartley, the principal of Six Rivers Charter School. “If things come onto the school site that occurred on Facebook, now you’re disrupting the school environment.
“It’s the same as when kids used to call each other on the phone and have arguments on the phone on the landline, and come to school and the argument continues,” Hartley said. “You still have the responsibility to try to work it out, from the school’s’ perspective.”
“It’s evolving, and case law is being formed around it as we speak,” he added.
Unlike a private landline argument between two people, digital communications can easily be replicated and spread over a wide online community.
The board did not take any formal action on the policies.
The proposed policies will re-appear on the agenda at the board’s next meeting on June 26, satisfying a legal requirement for new policies to be “read” at two different meetings before adoption.
If the school district fails to adopt the cyberbullying policy before July 1, it could lose a 60 percent discount from Universal Services Schools and Libraries, an organization which subsidizes the cost of internet access to schools and libraries.
Northern Humboldt Union High School District policies already forbid discrimination or harassment based on gender, ethnicity, race, national origin, religion, color, disability, age, or sexual orientation.
The McKinleyville Union Elementary School District does not yet have an anti-bullying policy in place but is planning to adopt one in August.


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New Mad River park still in the works

This is from the June 13, 2012 edition. If you were a subscriber, you would have read this last week. Click here to subscribe.

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By Jack Durham
Press Editor

McKinleyville is still in the process of trying to buy 33 acres of riverfront property for a new park. But before the McKinleyville Community Services District closes the deal it needs to make sure that there’s access to the property.
In April the MCSD agreed to pay Granite Construction $37,000 for the undeveloped property, located south of the intersection of North Bank Road and Azalea Avenue. The land is 200 feet south of North Bank Road. In between the roadway and the new park is a parcel owned by the County of Humboldt.
County Environmental Services Manager Hank Seeman wrote a letter to the MCSD stating that the county would be willing to give the MCSD an easement over its property, or consider selling the county parcel to the MCSD.
That process, however, could take months. At its meeting June 6, the MCSD Board of Directors voted to amend its sales agreement with Granite Construction, delaying the sale until the access issue is resolved.
The park includes a portion of the Mad River and could be used for swimming, kayaking and picnics.

(Warning: I was told some of the property lines on this map may not be accurate, but it gives you a general idea where the property is located. – Jack)


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Front Page 6.20.12

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