After zero time spent at the Borges Civil rights trial, Sheriff Honsal blows off the verdict of eight attentive jurors

Guest post from Bob Holcomb, a retired political science instructor and longtime friend of the decedent’s stepfather, was present for the entirety of the trial

On Aug. 28, a jury of eight Humboldt County citizens returned a unanimous verdict in federal court that sheriff’s office correctional staff had failed to provide medical care, as required by their own written policies, for Daren Borges, who died less than two hours after his booking. The jury-determined award to his mother Stephany Borges was $2.5 million. The legal fees and expenses over the 30 months it took to bring the case to trial will likely add an additional million. Representing Humboldt County, attorney Nancy Delaney has indicated she plans to appeal to have the verdict overturned, which will add substantially more to the costs and is a very long shot at best. As the presiding trial judge stated, “Let’s just be clear, the evidence was pretty substantial in a variety of ways — as I’ve said before — so the likelihood I’m going to overturn a verdict is pretty low.” Want to try the Ninth Circuit? Good luck with that!

Admittedly the “preponderance of evidence” is a lower standard than “beyond a reasonable doubt” required in a criminal case. Nonetheless, what had to be proven in this civil case to find a defendant culpable was significant. In the jury instructions, the plaintiffs were required to prove their claim that Mr. Borges’ civil rights had been denied by demonstrating:

  1. The defendant made an intentional decision with respect to the conditions under which Mr. Borges was confined.
  2. Those conditions put Daren Borges at serious risk of suffering serious harm.
  3. The defendant did not take reasonable available measures to abate that risk, even though a reasonable officer in the circumstances would have appreciated the high degree of risk involved — making the consequences of the defendant’s conduct obvious; and
  4. By not taking such measures, the defendant caused Daren Borges injuries.

Three defendants were found responsible on all four elements; a supervisor was exonerated.

So, we have another multimillion dollar judgment against

the sheriff’s correctional staff (remember the Cotton case) arrived at by local jurors who spent four and a half days listening to testimony, viewing videos and hearing arguments before 10 hours of deliberation. They not only found three officers at fault, they also found inadequate training had been provided for the staff by the sheriff’s office.

Given said results in this federal civil rights trial, what is the response of recently appointed Sheriff Honsal? According to “Jury awards $2.5M in jail death suit” (Times-Standard, Aug. 31, Page A1), he said the correctional officers did everything they were supposed to do. The unanimous eightmember jury sure didn’t see it that way. Of course the jury heard all the evidence and saw the entire video of Daren’s time in custody whereas Honsal’s involvement in the trial was zero. The unelected sheriff said Daren would have either died in jail or on the streets with the amount of methamphetamine found inside him. Guess Mr. Honsal has more knowledge than the emergency room physician with 30 years experience who testified that had Daren received a proper evaluation at the jail intake and been sent to the hospital at that point, he would be alive today. How certain was he about that? “One hundred percent.”

Bad enough that Mr. Honsal blows off the verdict of eight attentive jurors and gives no indication any remediation is likely. He then bizarrely suggests that Stephany Borges (who is nearing 70 and lives in Albuquerque) should track down the dealer who sold the drugs to Daren! Some might think that’s your responsibility, Sheriff Honsal, not the duty of a grieving mother.

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2.5 Million reasons why Sheriff Honsal should start cleaning up his officers and their practices.

To begin with here is the grossly insensitive statement from our Sheriff:

Changes in the booking process for the Humboldt County jail were already in the works before Daren Borges died, Humboldt County Sheriff William Honsal said. One of the main differences in the process is the jail has a fulltime registered nurse who started in 2016.
But Honsal said he isn’t certain whether the presence of a registered nurse would have made a difference in Daren Borges’ death.“It’s really very difficult to say,” he said.
Annually there are more than 3,200 people brought into the jail who are suspected of being under the influence or drunk in public, according to Honsal.
He said Borges did not display signs out of the ordinary and the correctional officers did what they were supposed to do. A jail screening form noted “Daren was not oriented to self, date, time and place,” according to a statement from the Borges’ family’s attorneys.
“There sheriff’s office didn’t kill this person, the dealer did,” Honsal said, adding that while he is sorry for her loss, he believes Stephany Borges should be going after the person who supplied her son with the lethal dose of methamphetamine.
Honsal said Daren Borges would have either died in the streets or the jail with the amount of methamphetamine found inside him.
“This is a very difficult case,” Honsal said. “Our guys feel like they did everything possible.”

Guest post from Robert Poyourow Daren Borges’ step-father.

Had Sheriff Honsal attended the trial, as I did, he wouldn’t have made such statements.

The jury heard all the evidence and listened to these same arguments, and then decided UNANIMOUSLY that the county and the three officers were liable. The jury found Sheriff Downey and Officer Hershberger not liable. Honsal did not watch the jail videos. The jury did, and he should, too.

I am Daren Borges’ step-father. We lived in Eureka and I practiced law there until 2005. I attended the full trial and testified about my wife’s loss. I write this letter to add to the coverage in the hope that the additional evidence the jury heard will aid your readers. I will address three points.

Although the jail policy was adequate, the defendants weren’t following it. Instead, they testified that they felt free to improvise and take short cuts that violated written policies. That was deliberate, not negligent behavior. Even though the defendants’ own expert emphasized how critically important the written policies were, the officers argued in their testimony that they were just “guidelines” subject to their interpretation and discretion. Worse, the jail videos also showed that the required policies were violated. Daren was in acute distress. Policy required that Daren be oriented to himself. The officer’s form said he was not. The officers admitted that he was mumbling and incoherent. Policy required that a set of questions be posed (by them) and answered by the detainee; and if not, then the detainee must be taken to the hospital. The video made it clear that they didn’t, and couldn’t, complete the eight to 10-minute exercise on a detainee mumbling incoherently and in acute distress in the one to two minutes they said they took to complete their procedures. The video is clear.

Essentially, the officers short-circuited the policy, and substituted their own judgment for that of a qualified medical professional. They didn’t just err in that judgment, they failed to follow policy that required the judgment be made by others. The jury simply didn’t believe the officers. The jury understood, and rendered its verdict accordingly.

The case was not one of “negligence,” but the violation of a Constitutional right — a claim that involves much more than a simple error of judgment — an argument that the defense raised, but which the judge and the jury completely rejected. This Constitutional violation didn’t happen by accident. It was an intentional act when the officer knew or should have known that serious harm would follow. This is the “reasonable person” objective legal standard. It doesn’t matter, as the officers argued, “we didn’t intend harm.” Such a “subjective” standard is not the law, and it is hardly a standard at all. Such a standard would not even require the officers to follow their own policies.

Last, plaintiff’s emergency room physician expert explained that in over 200 meth overdose cases he had not lost one patient from an overdose, including many with higher doses than Daren! He testified that had Daren been taken to the emergency room he would have been saved. The amount in his system was toxic and fatal only because he received no treatment. Defendant’s expert pathologist had to agree. He concluded his testimony by admitting that only one out of 100 suffering such meth intoxication die from it if they are treated in time. The ones who have died are the ones he sees. Nor was he helpful when he admitted that he only dealt with dead people, and then testified that the last live patient he had seen was over 35 years ago.

The award was not just because we were sympathetic, although we were. Nor was it just because we had gifted and talented lawyers, though they were. The award is best understood because the jury heard all the evidence and found the officers were wrong under the law, and thus liable.

Now we know what happened, and so does the public. The county was found liable. Honsal has much to do, and it should start with cleaning up his officers and their practices.

 

2.5 Million civil rights Verdict Against Humboldt County for the killing of Daren Borges

McKinleyville Federal Jury Returns $2.5 Million Verdict Against Humboldt County for Role in Causing Jail Death

McKinleyville Federal Jury Returns $2.5 Million Verdict Against Humboldt County for Role in Causing Jail Death

Three County Correctional Officers Violated the Constitutional Rights of Daren Borges, 42

August 30, 2017 – Southern California-based attorneys representing the mother of Daren Borges, retired Humboldt State University professor Stephany Borges, obtained a $2.5 million verdict late Monday afternoon in the civil rights action arising from Daren’s death in a sobering cell at the Humboldt County Correctional Facility. Woodland Hills attorney Dale Galipo, and Torrance attorney John Fattahi, filed the lawsuit in 2015 on behalf of Ms. Borges against the County of Humboldt, the contracted jail medical provider California Forensic Medical Group, Incorporated (CFMG), the City of Eureka, and various individuals who failed to provide Daren with adequate medical care. The claims against CFMG were resolved by a $250,000 settlement, and the claims against the City of Eureka and its police officers were dismissed before trial.

The trial of the remaining claims against the County of Humboldt and its officers was conducted at the federal courthouse in McKinleyville before United States District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, whose chambers are in Oakland. An eight-person jury, consisting of six men and two women, heard evidence starting on Monday, August 21. Closing arguments were held on Friday, August 25, and the jury  returned its verdict on Monday following ten hours of deliberations.

The jury found unanimously that Correctional Officers Terri Bittner, David Swim, and Tim Hammer violated Daren’s right to adequate medical care under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution during his brief detention on June 13, 2014. It also found that the County was liable for having official policies, customs, practices, and/or training programs, that were the “moving force” of the officers’ violation of Daren’s constitutional rights. The $2.5 million award consisted of compensatory damages for the harm suffered by Daren and his mother.

Daren was taken into custody after a concerned citizen called to report that he was behaving erratically, including taking off his clothes and hitting his head on the ground. In fact, Daren suffered from schizophrenia and was apparently having a psychiatric episode on the day in question. Jail personnel were familiar with Daren’s mental health issues as they had been administering psychiatric medications to him when they released him from the jail just four days before his death. The arresting Eureka police officer testified that he told jail officers Daren was highly under the influence of methamphetamine and was reported to be hitting his head on the ground. Based on Daren’s condition, the officer expected them to call a nurse to evaluate him immediately, including taking his vital signs. According to the officer, when Daren entered the jail he was profusely sweating, had a blank stare, was unable to control his body movements, and was unable to answer any of the jail officers’ questions. Even the jail’s screening form, which the defendants did not fill out until after they placed him in the sobering cell, noted that Daren was not oriented to self, date, time, and place.

Witnesses testified that there were multiple reasons why the officers should have called a nurse to immediately evaluate Daren before taking custody of him. A nurse almost certainly would have recommended that he be transported to the emergency room at St. Joseph’s hospital where he would have received needed treatment, including sedation and cold intravenous fluids, which would have prevented his death from the toxic effects of methamphetamine. Instead, the officers put Daren in a sobering cell and again failed to call for immediate medical attention when his condition deteriorated. When he plunged his head and clothing in toilet water in an attempt to cool himself off from the hyperthermia that is common in methamphetamine overdoses, and exhibited the classic signs of a life-threatening condition known as excited delirium, the officers claimed he looked like he was “having fun.” They conducted 15-minute “safety checks” of his cell and watched him on a video monitor, but ignored his obvious signs of distress. Many of the checks lasted only 1-2 seconds—not long enough to tell whether he was breathing regularly—and the officers did not attempt to get any response from Daren while he lay motionless on his stomach for 45 minutes.

The jury’s finding that the County’s deficient customs and training directly caused Daren’s death is significant and sends a strong message that reforms are overdue. The 2007 death of Martin Cotton II in a sobering cell alerted jail administrators to deficiencies in the medical screening process, but the jail compliance officer’s recommendations went unheeded. In fact, the County replaced her with one of the correctional officers who violated County policies during Cotton’s detention, Duane Christian, who acted as the County’s designated representative during last week’s trial. While reviewing Daren’s death, top jail administrators including Christian were made aware of a recommendation by Dr. Jonathan Greenberg from Humboldt County Mental Health that intoxicated persons coming to the jail must have their vital signs taken, and if they are either delirious or have abnormal vital signs, they must be transferred to the emergency room. Yet the County made no changes to its policies or training as a result of Daren’s death.

“This verdict will save lives, and we are thankful that the jury reaffirmed the truth that all people, even the mentally ill, have rights and their lives have value,” said Ms. Borges. “We brought this lawsuit because we never want this to happen to anyone else, and we hope that the jury’s message is heard and received by the jail administration. We hope the officers finally get the training they urgently need to take care of those who can no longer take care of themselves during arrest.” Ms. Borges added, “My family and I are so grateful to our lawyers who were willing to make sure Daren’s voice was heard when he was unable to speak for himself.”

According to Galipo, “It was abundantly clear that Daren was in dire need of medical assistance and these officers totally sidestepped their duty to care for him while he was in their custody.” “There is no question that many of the County’s written policies designed to prevent such deaths were routinely ignored and violated as a matter of standard operating procedure, not only in this case, but in other cases such as the death of Martin Cotton,” said Galipo.

According to Fattahi, jail administrators “not only ignored Dr. Greenberg’s recommendation to remedy these flawed medical screening practices, they even proclaimed that the officers did a great job and acted according to policies and procedures. We sincerely hope that following this verdict, the jail will train officers to follow its own written policies, and that whenever there is any question that someone may be too intoxicated to be in a sobering cell or may be in medical distress, they should call a nurse to take vital signs immediately so that people do not keep dying in these sobering cells. More business as usual is clearly not the answer.”

Attorneys for Ms. Borges believe there are no legitimate grounds for appeal because the judge had the jury apply a more stringent legal standard than they argued was appropriate, and both the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the United States Supreme Court have recently decided that the standard for similar constitutional claims is objective, not subjective as argued by the County’s attorneys. Galipo and Fattahi intend to file a motion on Ms. Borges’s behalf to recover attorneys’ fees and litigation costs from the County under the federal civil rights laws. According to Fattahi, “A considerable amount of time and resources had to be expended due to the case’s complexity and the County’s stalwart defense.”

There was no settlement offer from the County prior to the verdict. It is expected that most or all of the damages, fees, and costs will be paid by the County’s insurance carrier. The County and its officers were represented at trial by Nancy Delaney, Nicholas Kloeppel, and Amy Hunt of the Eureka law firm of Mitchell, Brisso, Delaney & Vrieze.

About Dale Galipo

Dale Galipo is an attorney specializing in civil rights law based in Woodland Hills. His office currently is handling approximately sixty wrongful death police misconduct cases. Galipo was the lead attorney in the Cotton case, in which a settlement was reached with Humboldt County, then a jury awarded Cotton’s family $4,575,000 against the City of Eureka and its officers for using excessive force and being deliberately indifferent to Cotton’s medical needs.

About John Fattahi

John Fattahi is a Torrance-based civil rights attorney with an emphasis on police excessive force. For more information, please visit http://www.johnfattahi.com.

AHHA, therefore, requests that Eureka withdraw its RFP for a “day center”

Humboldt County, and its economic and administrative center, the city of Eureka, has a large population of un-housed families and individuals.  As a result, complaints have arisen from the Eureka business community that the homeless, who have no real place to go, are creating an untidy environment.  The city has appointed one half time position to address this situation.  That position is in the police department and is filled by a person with no apparent background or expertise in homeless issues.  Eureka, like the county, offers no housing options for the people on the streets.  It appears that the more or less unspoken strategy of these local governments is to make life in this community so difficult for the homeless that they will simply “self-deport.”  Other local governments throughout the nation initially adopted that same strategy but many are now recognizing that that is untenable and are working with their own resources and volunteers to provide housing.  Humboldt refuses to seek much of the financial assistance offered by the federal government and generally does not try to work with volunteer organizations.  Indeed Eureka and Humboldt have so alienated the volunteer entities that they have not been able to comply with the federally mandated “Point in Time” count to ascertain the true number of homeless within their boundaries.  Reliable estimates are that there are presently thousands of homeless within the county.

Over the years the Eureka police sought to encourage/coerce these people to congregate in the Palco Marsh, a remnant of the city’s once viable lumber industry.  A little over a year ago the city evicted the approximately 400 people living in the marsh.  Prior to the eviction the city, through its police chief, promised that all the residents of the marsh would not be made to leave until there was another place for them to legally live…  The city did not keep this promise and as a result, the individuals living in the marsh became not only homeless but place less.  Earlier this year the police floated the idea of cutting off all volunteer services to this community by severely limiting parking in the neighborhood where homeless folks congregate.  The city also asked volunteer providers to refuse to supply food and emergency shelter to anyone who had not been given police supplied vouchers.  Previously the city has outlawed people sleeping in cars and begging for food and has fenced off the sidewalks on which the displaced congregated.  The city’s transportation committee did not agree with the parking proposal and the volunteer providers did not agree to cease providing services.

The city has now issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) asking for interested entities to propose means to create and operate a “day center” that would only provide a place for homeless persons to go during the day rather than being on the streets during the day.  At night, they would have to leave to sleep in the bushes, doorways, and under business eaves throughout the city. The city has made no offer to fund its proposal, has made no attempt to provide a place for the “day center” and has steadfastly refused to address the question of where the homeless might actually live.

Affordable Homeless Housing Alternatives (AHHA) has been attempting to address the issue of homeless in Humboldt for the last few years.  AHHA is aware of the concerns of the business community, and others, who have experienced damage and are inconvenienced by the presence of the homeless community.  Homelessness is a significant problem throughout the nation and especially in areas where housing costs have risen beyond the means of many families and individuals whose income is not significantly above the average family income in the region.

AHHA recognizes that homelessness is a problem for the community as a whole and that Humboldt and Eureka are unwilling to devote any significant resources to the problem.  But AHHA also understands that the problem is not going to go away and that refusal to address it has led to great suffering and the waste of police and medical resources and to economic and social disquiet among the business community and the population as a whole.  We also recognize that creation of an unfunded “day center”, will have no positive impact on the situation.  Indeed it will almost certainly lead to costly litigation, both civil and criminal, and further community disruption.

AHHA, therefore, requests that Eureka, in cooperation with Humboldt, withdraw its request for a proposal for a “day center” and instead ask that they, in cooperation with the various concerned volunteer, business and other government entities, come forth with a proposal that will allow a meaningful solution to the problem.

As communities around the country grapple with homelessness, numerous models are developing which could be adapted to and adopted by Humboldt.  AHHA suggests that initially Humboldt and Eureka provide resources to assist the homeless community and concerned citizens to establish refuges for residents who happen to be houseless.  Initially, these refugees might begin as camps with centralized feeding, sanitary and socializing facilities.  These camps, which would not need to be in immediate proximity to residential neighborhoods but would need to provide access to social services, could start out composed of temporary shelters.  They would be as self-governing and self-policing as possible.  The initial focus of the refugees would be the implementation of a strategy of “safe, warm and dry” first and then would begin to try to develop enduring solutions.  One of the models is a transitioning of shelter housing into very low cost “tiny house” communities.  These communities would presage enabling those folks who can live independently to do so.  Many of the homeless will almost certainly require ongoing social services to deal with their physical and psychological situations.  Ultimately these steps will lead to happier, more wholesome, cheaper and far more humane situations than the current strategy of trying to drive the homeless community away.

AHHA asks Humboldt and Eureka to issue a new RFP calling for the creation of refugee communities in appropriate locations in the county.  We stand ready to assist and take responsibility for and, in conjunction with others acting in good faith, to offer leadership in this effort.

Affordable Homeless Housing Alternatives Board of Directors

OP-ED

8/9/17

Contact:  Edie Jessup, AHHA Board Secretary

1981 Peninsula Drive, Manila, Ca 95521

707-407-0047

Ahha.humco@gmail.com

or

Roy Dahlberg, AHHA Board

2585 Patrick’s Pt. Dr., Trinidad CA 95570

(707) 677-0377, (916) 747-1944

redravenroy@aol.com

 

 

Former EPD good ol’ boys are finally getting caught with their hands in the cookie jar!!!

Integrity

Thanks to a complaint from a concerned citizen and the questioning of Ryan Burns from the Lost Coast Outpost, it looks like the FBI and the State Attorney General’s office will be looking into the Coroner’s handling of estate properties.  And by handling, we mean the most extreme “low-balling” of the purchase price and outright theft of deceased people’s property:

https://lostcoastoutpost.com/2017/jul/7/da-maggie-fleming-calls-fbi-state-attorney-general/

Great “ethical standards” law enforcement!!!  Stealing from the dead or potential family members of the deceased is just plain low.  But that’s business as usual at the Eureka Police Dept(EPD) and in Humboldt’s Good Ol’ Boy network. Wait, EPD you say?  Why would we put EPD into a story about the Sheriff-Coroner sales of property that appears on the face of it illegal?  The reason is that former EPD officers (not Sergeants or Lieutenants) Frank Jager and Dave Parris have run the coroner’s office since the nineties!

Mills and Downey

When we first heard about the selling off of deceased people’s property to county employees, Eureka Mayors, and their family members: we weren’t at all surprised.  We’ve been getting tips for years that people who’ve had their property seized in marijuana raids have later seen their ATV’s and trailers being used/owned by the same officers who raided their property.  But what the hell could we do about that? Who would believe us? If people in the drug trade don’t complain, the problem would just persist.

However, in this case, we have some hope.  At first, we were pretty worried.  Newly minted Sheriff William “Billy” Honsal gave an interview to Ryan Burns, in which he talked about the new “investigation” he was calling for.  The “independent” investigator would be hired by the HCSO, to look into the corruption that was happening under Billy Honsal’s nose when he was in command or second-in-command at the Sheriff’s office:

https://lostcoastoutpost.com/2017/jun/30/sheriff-honsal-interview/

In that same article, Honsal was quoted as saying, “I don’t want to get too specific into the investigation because I want the independent investigator at the DA’s Office to evaluate the entire investigation and then make a referral to the DA based upon that, but the idea is there is a government code section that basically says no property shall be sold to any current employees of the Coroner’s Office or Public Administrator.”

Now that quote was when we started to get worried and started asking questions to our sources at the County and City of Eureka.  Our worst fears of corruption and potential cover-up had been confirmed, …..that is until today’s announcement from DA Fleming.  Congratulations and respect to DA Magie Fleming for requesting the State and Federal Government to investigate this case.  Maybe some truth will come out of this investigation and criminals (whether elected or not) will be held to account.

But even before this investigation gets underway, it would be nice for the community to understand who the players involved in this good ol’ boy theft of property were, and why those connections had us so worried about what may happen.

NCJ photo of Jager

First, we have former EPD officer Frank Jager, currently the Mayor of Eureka, who was the Humboldt County Coroner from 1999 until 2009. Then in 2009, the Department was taken over by Dave Parris.  Parris ran the department until it was consolidated with the HCSO in 2015.

Paris and Downey

Interesting to note that both Jager and Parris were police officers at the Eureka Police Department.  Neither of them promoted above the rank of officer (?), but both of them ended up running the Detectives Bureau at EPD at different times. Their rise to the top position of County Coroner was filled with lots of glad-handing, favors and out and out corruption.  It’s also important to notice that these men went to prayer breakfasts in the morning and then stole from dead people during the day. (Not a big surprise to the Examiner)

To top that off, Billy Honsal, a regular prayer breakfast attendee is the son of William Honsal Sr.  William Honsal Sr. was a former EPD Captain who was known for several officer-involved shootings.  Honsal Sr. is BFF’s with recently retired evangelical Sheriff Downey, who hired Honsal Jr. from an outside agency as the under-sheriff, groomed him as his heir and then promoted him to Sheriff when he left suddenly and somewhat unexpectedly earlier this year.

But it goes further from there!  Until DA Fleming made her bold move the investigation of Jager and Parris would have been under the direction of Chief DA Investigator Wayne Cox.  Cox was an officer at EPD before becoming a DA Investigator.  Cox was given the Investigator and Chief position by his former boss, Mike Hislop.  Hislop was a former EPD Sergeant who got the position of Chief DA Investigator from his father in law, Jim Dawson.  Now the EPD connections are obvious here, and there’s clearly a built-in bias if Cox was to head an investigation into fellow former fellow EPD officers Jager and Parris.

But it goes even further from there….   You see, many sources have reported to us that Mike Hislop was a thief of the first order back in his days in power.  In fact, we’ve been told that he had a hanger at the Eureka airport filled with lots military surplus gear he obtained when he was a Peace Officer.  That gear was supposed to be utilized by the agency he worked for, but there’s been accusations and speculation that the gear never made it to his employers. And military gear was just the tip of the iceberg for tips about Hislops corruption and thefts.  So you see why we were a little worried that Hislop’s minion Wayne Cox might not look seriously into corruption and theft.

Hopefully, the FBI looks into this as a very “broad” investigation.  Maybe they can flesh out whether the theft/sale of deceased people’s property was an isolated corrupt practice, or was part of a broader theft of community member’s property (such as drug seizures, Military Surplus given to departments, unclaimed property, ect.).

As a side note, this investigation and corruption couldn’t have been a surprise to former Sheriff Mike Downey or soon to be former Chief Andy Mills.

The Examiner has to ask. Did they leave their post’s early knowing shit was about to hit the fan?  That’s as good an explanation as any of the questionable statements we heard from them when they announced their departures!!!

Good luck Federal and State authorities, bring your hip boot waders you’re stepping into some deep shit!!!

Caltrans is reviving its awful, unnecessary and unwanted Richardson Grove project, again

leave it be

It was bound to happen so it is no surprise that once again Caltrans has unleashed its mighty bureaucracy on Richardson Grove State Park with its insistence that Highway 101 be “realigned” to allow Interstate trucks to legally navigate this scenic stretch of the road.  You may have seen the announcement in area newspapers on May 22.  You can find the documents at:

http://dot.ca.gov/dist1/d1projects/richardson_grove/

Since 2007 concerned citizens have battled Caltrans in Court to address deficiencies in the plan and most importantly determine why Caltrans is so insistent on forging ahead with this costly project (projected now to cost as much as $8.5 million.)  Supposedly the rationale is to “improve goods movement” into and out of the County but the documents do not provide any example of how the public would actually benefit from this expenditure of tax dollars at a time when our existing roads need REPAIRS rather than new projects.

How can this expenditure be justified in light of the fact that the State Legislature has voted to INCREASE OUR STATE GAS-TAX BY 12 CENTS PER GALLON because of the need for road repair and maintenance? With the potential failure of Highway 101 at Last Chance Grade estimated as costing as much as $1 billion dollars where is the economic justification for the Richardson Grove project?  You won’t find such an analysis in the newly released documents.  Perhaps our Caltrans bureaucrats need to take a course in cost-benefit analysis. We tax-payers deserve some answers on Caltrans spending.

The new documents are entitled an “Addendum to the Final Environmental Impact Report.”  This means that Caltrans gets away with not having to issue a new EIR/EIS and therefore there is no public comment period.  However, this does not prevent citizens from voicing their discontent via letters to the editor and via social media.

More substantive comments as soon as the documents are analyze, so stay tuned!

(thanks to  Barbara Kennedy)

Homeless numbers down 43% (wtf?) and more locally spun “alternative facts”

In 2015 we posted a number of stories about the attempts to down play the seriousness of the homeless crisis in Eureka. Particularly, we tried to emphasize “who benefits from the systematic under count of homeless/houseless”.
Check out what we said back then and read today’s story in the Times-Standard and other sources we included.
Despite what you can see with your own eyes, you’re supposed to believe that homelessness is dramatically down in Humboldt?
Shake your head laughable!

https://tuluwatexaminer.wordpress.com/2015/02/02/who-benefits-from-the-systematic-under-count-of-the-houseless/

https://tuluwatexaminer.wordpress.com/2015/07/25/eureka-declares-victory-over-homelessness/

https://tuluwatexaminer.wordpress.com/2016/09/13/housing-plan-will-never-amount-to-more-than-a-piss-into-the-ocean/

https://tuluwatexaminer.wordpress.com/2015/04/27/crime-the-homeless-and-the-andrew-mills-conundrum/

 

Times-Standard story: Homeless survey scrutinized

County, organizations state lack of volunteers, housing efforts led to lower count

Humboldt County has seen a large reduction in its homeless population, according to preliminary data released this week, with county officials attributing the drop to collaborative rehousing efforts, but also a reduction in volunteers who participated in the survey.

“We know this isn’t a scientifically accurate count of every homeless person in the county. It’s never been intended to be,” Humboldt County Housing Coalition co-Chairwoman and county Department of Health and Human Services Senior Program Manager Sally Hewitt said Friday. “It gives us a brief picture of a point in time with what is going on in our homeless population.”

This year’s Point-in-Time survey counted 668 homeless individuals on Feb. 28 compared to the 1,180 in the last count in 2015 and the 864 in 2013. The survey is conducted on a single day every two years and is a requirement to receive funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Hewitt said part of the reduction is due to 217 chronically homeless individuals having found permanent housing since Eureka and the county began implementing a Housing First approach to homelessness in early 2016 with the help of local landlords. Hewitt said the preliminary data also showed the number of homeless families have continued to decline as they had in the previous three counts.

However, this year’s count did not include any of the homeless population in the Garberville area after a group of regular survey volunteers refused to participate based on concerns that the funding was not helping the southern Humboldt County homeless population.

Debra Carey, vice president of Affordable Homeless Housing Alternatives, or AHHA, said she had been one of the volunteers who coordinated the Garberville-area county for several years. But this year, Carey said she felt that the county lacked the necessary preparation. She said she and many of the homeless individuals she had spoken to had become disgruntled that the government funding that these counts were supposed to generate were not reaching their community.

“What is this count all about if it’s not about getting the numbers to get the funds to assist this group of people?” Carey said.

Hewitt said the Department of Housing and Urban Development requires counties to deliver their counts in order to access funding available through Continuums of Care, like the county’s housing coalition. The coalition formed in 2004 and is composed of local government agencies and other entities that seek to reduce homelessness.

The amount of federal funding a community receives is not determined by the number of homeless individuals counted, but rather by “an extremely complicated process” involving reviewing data of available jobs and population sizes, according to Hewitt. However, Hewitt said the Point-in-Time count can be used by organizations to try and leverage funding from the state.

As to why southern Humboldt County communities are not receiving the federal funding, Hewitt said that the funding is only available for ongoing programs such as Redwood Community Action Agency, Arcata House Partnership, the county and Humboldt Bay Housing. The majority of the federal funding must be used for subsidizing rent and only a small portion can be used for administrative costs, which Hewitt said can be a limiting factor for small grassroots organizations.

“If there was a group in some of the outlying areas that had the infrastructure to handle the amount of funding, it would be wonderful for them to apply,” Hewitt said.

Hewitt said that county volunteers did attempt to survey Garberville homeless residents, but said that none were willing to be surveyed.

AHHA President Nezzie Wade did participate in this year’s count in Eureka, but said she did so not in her capacity with her organization. Like Carey, Wade said she felt that the federal funds were only being used to help a small number of people in the homeless communities. She and Carey also expressed concerns about the size of the survey and the lack of planning by the coalition for this year’s count, which is why AHHA did not associate itself with it.

“The month before it was supposed to happen, they started talking about it,” Wade said of the count. “… We talked about it and said this is not an organized effort. This is not something we would not want to subscribe to.” Hewitt said that AHHA’s concerns were valid, but that they did not tell the full story.

She said they had been planning this count a year earlier and were planning to use a new approach. Rather than having every homeless individual take surveys in order to be counted, Hewitt said they were planning on doing a head count and then scientifically selecting a sample of the homeless population to take the survey. They would then apply that data to entire homeless population. The coalition was proceeding with this plan until the last two months of 2016 when the Housing and Urban Development Department told them that they could not use that method, Hewitt said.

The department gave them the options of doing the count as they had in years past or doing an observation count. The latter option would take place from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. in January and would involve volunteers counting homeless individuals as they sleep.

“Well, in a city where they tend to sleep out in the open, it’s relatively easy to count people,” Hewitt said. “If you’re talking about going into the woods in Humboldt County in the dark and wandering around with a flashlight and trying to get homeless people awake enough to see how many there are in their tent or having to open their tent flaps to count them, it just got more and more ridiculous.”

After back and forth disputes, Hewitt said the coalition decided in January to perform the count as they had done since 2009.

“We were scrambling and we were looking for every volunteer we could,” Hewitt said. “I’m glad some of [the AHHA members] decided to participate because we count on them.”

Hewitt said more than 100 volunteers participated, with about 80 acting as surveyors.

Wade also stated that police enforcement on homeless individuals may have led to reduced numbers in this year’s report. Wade said she had contacted many of the homeless individuals living along Broadway in Eureka and nearby cross streets to let them know about the count. But Wade said these streets were near empty by the time they surveyed the area on Feb. 28, and said that many of the homeless were told by police that they could not stay there for the next three days.

“That was quite a coincidence,” Wade said.

Eureka Police Department Public Information Officer Brittany Powell said that Chief Andrew Mills had heard from the county that there was a rumor that a law enforcement agency — but not the EPD — had cleared out the homeless individuals.(sounds like a Mills tactic to the Examiner)

“We have not heard anything more about this and there is nothing to substantiate the allegation,” Powell wrote in an email to the Times-Standard. “EPD and the (Mobile Intervention & Services Team) assisted in the Point-in-Time count prior to the actual count by providing training, resources, and identifying locations to check.”

http://www.times-standard.com/general-news/20170519/humboldt-county-homeless-survey-scrutinized

more local spin:

https://www.northcoastjournal.com/NewsBlog/archives/2017/05/19/no-homeless-people-in-southern-humboldt

http://kiem-tv.com/video/annual-homeless-count-decreases

https://lostcoastoutpost.com/2017/may/18/humboldts-homeless-numbers-down-43-percent-two-yea/