California, Humboldt

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California, Humboldt

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat May 27, 2006 12:41 pm

The North Coast Journal wrote:<p align=center><img src=bin/da-smackdown.jpg></p>
The Gallegos mystique v. The Dikeman critique

The North Coast Journal
story and photos by HANK SIMS
May 25, 2006

IF YOU KNOW SOMEONE who cares deeply about the race for Humboldt County district attorney (and it would be shocking if you didn't) you know one thing: The other guy and all his people are lowdown disreputable types who should be run out immediately. Different people pick a different villain, but the rhetoric is much the same on either side. In today's political climate, there's precious little room for middle ground, or even for reasoned debate.

In most areas, the question of who leads the band of attorneys that prosecutes crime on behalf of the public does not lead to blood feuds. People elsewhere may pause slightly longer over their sample ballots when choosing a DA than they do when choosing a county clerk-recorder, but not much longer. Here it's different -- less like a meeting of the Kiwanis, more like a battle to the death. Why? Whether you credit him or blame him, it's because of Paul Gallegos.

Gallegos, a former defense attorney, took over as DA in 2003, after having beaten 20-year incumbent Terry Farmer the year previous. He promptly filed a massive lawsuit against the Pacific Lumber Company that had been brought to him by the Humboldt Watershed Council, an environmental group. The lawsuit alleged that the company had committed fraud during the lead-up to a public buyout of the Headwaters Forest, obtaining though deceit the right to log much more on its remaining lands than it otherwise would have. Timber supporters instantly announced their intent to recall Gallegos from office; Pacific Lumber itself eventually backed the effort to the tune of several hundred thousand dollars. In March of 2004, after a bitter campaign, Gallegos beat back the recall handily, getting a 61 percent "No" vote.

Since then, Gallegos has become a powerful symbol for Humboldt County residents of all sorts -- forest activists, '70s-era "New Settlers," marijuana decriminalization advocates, recent refugees from suburban America -- who have long felt powerless, at least outside the Arcata city limits. Gallegos' defeat of the recall seemed to many to signify that their moment had arrived, that Humboldt County had finally turned a corner. The timber companies, the gravel miners, the ranchers and the rest of the good old boys that had run the county for 150 years were no longer in the driver's seat.

<img src=bin/dickeman-worth.jpg align=left alt="Worth Dikeman.">Just a few years earlier, sworn law enforcement officers had swabbed pepper spray directly into the eyes of young, non-violent timber activists, causing them to writhe in pain. The footage hit the evening news, making Humboldt County a sick joke in the national press. With the coming of the new progressive majority, as evidenced by Gallegos recall's wide margin of defeat, that sort of thing wouldn't happen any longer, it was thought. The county's politics and government -- especially its law enforcement apparatus -- would reflect the forward-looking culture that had been brewing here since the hippie days. We would be able to join the 21st century.

There's no doubt that much of the feverish support Gallegos inspires today stems directly from the fact that he stood down Pacific Lumber at the ballot box. (He hasn't fared so well in court: The office's suit against the company was thrown out last year before making it to trial, with the DA office's chosen judge in the matter deciding that it betrayed a misunderstanding of the law. Gallegos notified the appellate courts of his intent to appeal the decision shortly afterwards, but as yet no briefs have been submitted.) He also devised liberal guidelines for the use and cultivation of marijuana by people who obtain a medical prescription for it, guidelines later officially adopted by the county Board of Supervisors. And in the wake of last month's police shooting of Eureka resident Cheri Moore, and of the California Highway Patrol's recent heavy-handed responses to two peace marches down Highway 101 earlier this year, many are encouraged by Gallegos' touting of his "independence" from the police, who overwhelmingly support his opponent, veteran prosecutor Worth Dikeman, who has worked in the office over 20 years.

But in this, as in all things to do with the district attorney race -- which will be decided a week and a half from now, on Tuesday, June 6 -- the most vocal representatives of the Gallegos camp aren't so much arguing with Dikemanites about this as they are talking past them. Gallegos supporters speak of equal justice, civil rights, of first principals handed down to us by the Founding Fathers. Dikeman supporters, meanwhile, want to see someone more interested in just doing the damned job, in all its mundane particulars.

<img src=bin/gallegos-paul.jpg align=right alt="Paul Gallegos">In 2005, after a year-long investigation, the Humboldt County Grand Jury released a scathing indictment of Gallegos' management of the district attorney's office. "Implicit in all evidence gathered by the Grand Jury -- including interviews with the DA -- is the unfortunate truth that the DA exhibits a limited understanding of how things are done in the department," it read. "The district attorney has failed to educate himself thoroughly in office operations and procedures ... he does not meet regularly with the supervisors who oversee his staff; he does not meet regularly with deputy district attorneys; he does not meet regularly with law enforcement agencies ... he has no written training documents for new hires."

The district attorney is in the first place an administrator, responsible for managing the work of prosecutors, investigators and support staff. In the past four years, members of the office have been unwilling to speak to the press or the public -- partly, they say, out of a sense of professional conduct and partly out of fear of reprisal. In recent weeks, though, several staff members have come forward on the condition that their names not be used. (The Journal agreed to the condition.) The picture they paint, uniformly, echoes the Grand Jury report in every particular: ineffectual leadership, Gallegos' absence from the day-to-day work of the office and a chaotic workplace in which good case preparation -- the bread-and-butter of legal work -- is made impossible.

"Paul is a nice person," said one. "He's pleasant to be around during the day. But he's not a district attorney." Said another: "He's got good ideas, but no follow-through."

In particular, the members of the office interviewed fault a laissez-faire management style for the exodus of experienced attorneys from the office, a phenomenon also noted by the Grand Jury. When Gallegos first took office in January 2003, he released two attorneys -- Harry Kassakhian and Gloria Albin Sheets -- and hired Mendocino County prosecutor Tim Stoen as Assistant District Attorney. But Stoen spent almost all his energies on the Pacific Lumber case, leaving the rest of the office to absorb the day-to-day caseload. Meanwhile, as other prosecutors began to leave, their positions were filled with green attorneys straight out of law school, and according to members of the office interviewed, those new attorneys were given very little in the way of guidance or on-the-job training. Many of them have also moved on, and recruiting for their replacements has been slow. At least two open prosecutor positions are currently unfilled.

What happens, according to the first staff member quoted above, is that long-term members of the clerical staff end up guiding the new recruits in their transformation from law-school students to prosecutors.

"Clerical is not supposed to train the attorneys, but that's what happens," the staff member said. "The vets, they're in the courtrooms -- they're busy up to here."

Underlying the poor organization and management of the office, they say, is the feeling of job insecurity felt by the deputy prosecutors. Gallegos, in his initial run for the office, had pledged to institute civil service protections for deputy prosecutors, so that they could not be fired unless the boss could show good cause. He abandoned that pledge shortly after taking office. Now, according to staff members interviewed, deputies feel they have to keep their mouth shut and their heads down if they want to keep their jobs -- no protests about working conditions, or about the priorities of the office (which one staff member described as "Just get something" -- just get some sort of penalty in plea-bargain arrangements, so long as it goes down as a win).

Another staff member interviewed said that the patience and good will of the office as a whole was just about worn out.

"We're still giving him everything we can, but it doesn't feel like a two-way street," the staff member said. All staff members interviewed were certain that despite Gallegos' statements to the contrary, the overwhelming majority of the office -- from the lowest file clerk all the way on up -- supported Dikeman.

Despite his ire at the futility of Gallegos' Pacific Lumber case, and despite his view that his current boss is beholden to his political supporters far more than the people of the state of California, the dissolution of the office, as laid out by the staff members above, seems to be the thing that most irks Worth Dikeman.

Dikeman is almost frustratingly calm and patient in his answers to questions. People who know him testify that he is the warmest of human beings, but in conversation with strangers he seems loath to let much of his personality slip out. Sixty years old, possessing a bright bald gray-fringed dome and an unfashionable mustache, Dikeman exudes natural reserve. He's not cold, he's just inhumanely polite.

He first entered politics during the recall attempt against Gallegos, as a potential "replacement candidate" if the recall were successful. He did so after Steven Schectman, an Arcata defense attorney and Gallegos ally, threw his own hat into the ring, as a "safety" candidate in case the recall were to succeed. A little over a year after the recall failed, Dikeman announced that he would seek to replace Gallegos in the upcoming election. But he denies the story current among Gallegos supporters, that he and the office veterans had it out for Gallegos from the start.

"He deserved our loyalty," he said. "He deserved the opportunity to grow into the position. I think everyone was prepared to give him a fair shot. But he's not done a good job. He's done a poor job."

Dikeman says that what convinced him that he had to run -- "or that someone had to run, would be a better way of putting it" -- was Gallegos' firing of Deputy District Attorney Allison Jackson, a 10-year veteran prosecutor, in 2004 (see "Forged documents and six pounds of weed," May 18 ). To Dikeman's way of thinking, it was unforgivable to summarily dismiss an experienced and dedicated prosecutor who'd never had a blot on her personnel record. And what her firing did to the office was just as bad, in its way, he said.

Jackson was one of the two attorneys who worked with the Child Abuse Services Team, a highly lauded program that uses a number of resources -- attorneys, investigators, social workers -- to investigate and prosecute cases of molestation. Her loss was symptomatic of Gallegos' neglect of CAST, Dikeman said. Previously, the office had two prosecutors who regularly worked with the program; now there is only one -- Maggie Fleming. Everyone agrees that Fleming is highly capable, but she is a part-time employee and CAST is but one of her many duties. Dikeman said that restoring CAST to its previous level would be his first priority. He said he would reassign current Deputy DA Andrew Isaac -- who, along with Jackson, used to work CAST for many years -- to the child abuse beat.

In general, he said, he would seek to restore order and confidence to the running of the office. He would bring back "vertical prosecution," in which the same prosecutor follows a case from its conception to its end. And he would do two things to assure that the office could keep and recruit people: He would establish the civil service protections that Gallegos once promised, and he would build a sensible mentoring system to help young attorneys grow into their jobs. As it stands, he said, the young attorneys in the office are too often left helpless.

As an example, he cited the way petty theft crimes end up being prosecuted in the office. Petty theft is no one's idea of a top priority in an office that prosecutes some 7,000 cases a year, he said, so it makes sense to get plea bargains from defendants in order to save time and money. But there is a catch: In agreeing to a plea bargain, a prosecutor is wise to get at least some jail time as part of the sentence on paper. (In practice, the amount of time can be waived in exchange for time served at the defendants arrest). Unless jail time is part of the sentence, a prosecutor cannot seek increased punishment in the case of repeat offenders. Young attorneys are unaware of this loophole, he said, and these days they don't often seek it.

Dikeman says that in this and other instances, he's not accusing Gallegos of purposefully making it easy on criminals.

"I'm not Oliver Stone, so I don't see conspiracies everywhere," he said. "I think it's poor support that's allowed these things to occur."

For Gallegos, his reelection fight against Dikeman has been merely a replay of the recall. The lack of Pacific Lumber money -- and the rapidly declining power of Pacific Lumber in the county -- makes no real difference.

"This is the same battle," he says. "And these same people are trying to mislead the people, again. And I stress, again."

Gallegos, 44, is handsome, well-dressed and well-spoken. Unlike his opponent, he is not a man of few words -- though he is famous for the long, awkward pauses that sometimes punctuate his conversations, he nearly always emerges from them with a decently formed sentence. He is relentlessly, aggressively on-message, and will find a way to tell you what he thinks you should hear without discarding entirely the point of your question.

The "misleading" he refers to is the charge that he has weakened the CAST program through neglect. During the recall, he was heavily criticized for getting only a 16-year sentence for a suspect that had serially abused his daughter, when he could conceivably have gone for a much larger sentence. Gallegos thinks that in both cases, the charges against him are underhanded and insulting -- why would he do anything to weaken the prosecution of child abuse in the county, he asks? He himself is a parent of three, he says, and besides, it would be politically suicidal to go easy on child molesters. His devotion to CAST was apparent, he said, as he had assigned Fleming -- possibly his best attorney -- to it.

As far as Dikeman's example concerning the prosecution of petty theft cases is concerned, Gallegos said he had never heard about such a thing happening in the office. He hadn't known that the law was structured like that. But he said that if such a problem did exist, it would be something that he would be able to remedy very easily.

"That's one great thing about the way our office is structured -- we can effect change relatively fast," he said. "It's a really responsive setup. If there's a problem I can take it to our people and say 'This is what's going on, this is where we're screwing up, let's fix it.' This is the first I've heard of it, but if it's true, it's totally fixable."

Gallegos argues that this de-centered approach to management -- "a 21st century approach," as he called it during one of his debates with Dikeman -- is ideally oriented toward on office of professionals, in which no one should expect to have their hand held every step of the way. Young attorneys should grow into their jobs, to make their own way and learn to use their own judgment in cases.

Gallegos' main plank in this campaign is that since he has been in office, violent crime has fallen to record lows. (The low occurred in 2003, the first year Gallegos took office. In 2004, the last year for which the California Department of Justice has figures, it rose slightly.) Why would the community want to change horses in the face of such record achievement, he wonders? Why give in to the scare tactics used by the other side?

"This community is not in danger -- far from it," he says. "They're saying the streets aren't safe? They haven't been safer in 15 years."

And though that's the main thing Gallegos wants voters to hear this time around, he also wants them to remember the man they supported in such overwhelming numbers during the recall. He wants them to think of the man who had the guts to take on Pacific Lumber.

"The world's changed," Gallegos says. "Certainly, it means the district attorney's office is an independent office. It acts independently, it is independent and it represents the people of this community. Not certain sections of this community, not just individuals in this community, but the community as a whole."

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Dikeman on change, politics and his future

Postby Midnight toker » Fri Sep 29, 2006 1:38 pm

The Arcata Eye wrote:
Dikeman on change, politics and his future

Daniel Mintz
Eye Correspondent
The Arcata Eye
September 28, 2006

HUMBOLDT – Respected and admired as a county prosecutor for over two decades, Worth Dikeman has seen political forces shift, and they have shifted him out of the DA’s Office to the disappointment of many.

But there are also many who view his firing by District Attorney Paul Gallegos, Dikeman’s former election opponent, as the culmination of necessary change. The outcome wouldn’t have been guessed prior to 2002, when Gallegos confounded expectations and knocked the office off its axis by unseating longtime DA Terry Farmer.

In an interview before that election, Farmer said that his most logical predecessor would come from within the office, and he identified Dikeman as that person. The advent of Gallegos – a former defense attorney – as DA triggered a power struggle that seems to be settled with his re-election.

And Dikeman’s exit from the office may end his local presence as he can no longer work as a prosecutor in the county and is doubtful about crossing over to defense work. Many of his supporters and county residents view that as a deep loss, but Dikeman said the office still has “very capable” people working in it.

Longtime prosecutors who had admired Farmer have found work elsewhere or been fired as political inertia continues, but Dikeman believes some of the younger prosecutors hired by Gallegos “show great promise” and the office is still staffed by “wonderful people.”

But Dikeman has doubts about one of the newer arrivals. In a recent interview with the Eureka Reporter, he said that there’s only one other attorney in the office besides Gallegos that he feels lacks sound judgment.

Asked who that attorney is, Dikeman said it’s Jeff Schwartz, who is a candidate in the Arcata City Council election. Still a fairly recent arrival to the office, Schwartz has just been assigned to the office’s child abuse unit but Dikeman said Schwartz “routinely plea-bargains cases” and “often deviates from the filing deputy’s evaluation.”

A wide range of law enforcement officials have also said too much plea bargaining goes on in the office. No longer part of it as of Sept. 15, the date of his termination, Dikeman reflected on his career and its latter-stage foray into local politics.

<span class=postbold>Quick change</span>

Gallegos’ election is the event that changed everything for Dikeman and other veterans of the office. After it happened, “There were certainly changes in the atmosphere of the office,” Dikeman said when asked about it. “It was a more threatening place to go, there was a lack of a direction and continuity, and things changed quickly.”

Farmer was “a competent administrator who created an atmosphere that encouraged people to work hard and get better,” he continued. “There was camaraderie and a common purpose, which I think is lacking under Paul – it’s a difficult thing to explain.”

Eventually, Dikeman saw the political arena as the best means of restoring what he thought had been lost. “I knew I had to run,” he said. “I couldn’t have looked at myself in the mirror if I hadn’t.”

He was first a candidate in the 2003 DA recall election, and ran again, this time directly against his boss, in last June’s election. Saying at the outset that he isn’t a “political animal,” Dikeman nevertheless got a crash course in campaigning and now he has mixed feelings about it.

“I am humbled by the support I received and the hard work people close to me performed,” he said. “That’s an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything.”

At the same time, he’s “a little disillusioned about the process, by the dirty tricks and back room tactics,” and the lack of voter turnout.

Dikeman said his plunge into local politics revealed its inner workings – provoking disillusionment. “There are political advisors who do this for a living and I’m not sure that their ethics correspond with their candidate’s in many respects,” he continued. “I believe in the Democratic process, I just don’t want to be in the cross-hairs anymore.”

<span class=postbold>Post-exit honor</span>

His long career included multiple high points, including being named as prosecutor of the year by the state’s district attorneys’ association. Last week, just after being fired, Dikeman earned the same title from the state’s Narcotic Officers’ Association.

The association referred to Dikeman as a “dedicated marijuana prosecutor” in a letter announcing the award. Marijuana prosecution policy is probably a significant aspect of Gallegos’ popular support – and Dikeman’s recent election loss.

Dikeman had a reputation for aggressive marijuana prosecution, while Gallegos has de-emphasized pot and put more focus on meth prosecution – a shift he demonstrated when he took Dikeman off pot cases and gave him “white dope” cases instead.

Dikeman, however, said that he is serious about whatever type of prosecution he’s doing.

“You don’t always choose cases and assignments – if I was given a marijuana case, I prosecuted a marijuana case,” he continued. “It wasn’t like I was out looking for people who craved the herb and went home at night and watched Reefer Madness and cheered.”

He added that his personal feeling is that “some drug laws are asinine” but he was obligated to enforce them as a prosecutor.

One of the first things Gallegos did as DA was to drastically – and at the time, controversially – increase allowable amounts of medical cannabis. And Dikeman said one of the noticeable changes in the office was that marijuana defense attorneys seemed to have “greater access” to it. “They were the people who had Paul’s ear,” Dikeman said.

But in a county reputed for the popularity of its cannabis culture, backing off of pot prosecution gave Gallegos some political strength. But should Dikeman have been kept on as a prosecutor, even after last spring’s bitter campaigning?

<span class=postbold>No surprise</span>

Dikeman, like others, expected the termination. “I forget who said it, but there’s a quote that goes, ‘When you seek to dethrone a king, you’ve got to kill him,’” he said. “I knew what kind of fellow Paul is and I knew what his reaction would be.”

Why should he have any other reaction, considering political and personal history? “It depends on what one is interested in,” Dikeman responded. “It depends on whether you’re interested in yourself or the office. I was an asset – I work hard and don’t complain. I didn’t criticize Paul as a deputy prosecutor, I criticized him as a candidate. But I was also a link to law enforcement and was popular in the office.”

He said something didn’t happen that should’ve. “There never was that conversation, that effort to resolve our differences.”

Dikeman’s firing happened a few days after a Ninth Circuit Appeals Court ruling that declared his exclusion of Native Americans from the jury of 1992 murder case was racially motivated. It’s unknown whether the ruling motivated the firing or just opened a window for it. Either way, Dikeman doesn’t think the ruling is fair.

“I did not kick jurors off because they were Native American,” he said. “I kicked them off because I feared they had a state of mind that would affect their impartiality.”

Dikeman isn’t sure he’ll remain in the county, where his opportunity to continue his criminal law career has been shattered. But he said that “this is where my house is, and we’ll just have to see what develops.”

After praising the DA Office staff and saying he’s “guardedly optimistic” about its future, Dikeman was asked how that could be, given his lack of confidence in its leader.

“Well, I said ‘guardedly’ optimistic,” he replied.

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State Senate candidates debate

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Nov 04, 2006 5:02 pm

The Eureka Reporter wrote:State Senate candidates debate

by Rebecca S. Bender, 10/17/2006
The Eureka Valley Reporter

<table class=posttable align=right width=300><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg width=300 src=bin/wiesner_lawrence.png></td></tr><tr><td class=postcap align=center>Lawrence Wiesner</td></tr></table>Pat Wiggins and Lawrence Wiesner, the two candidates for the 2nd District state Senate seat soon to be vacated by Sen. Wes Chesbro (D-Arcata), sat down together for a live debate Monday night sponsored by the League of Women Voters and KEET-TV Channel 13.

Democratic contender Wiggins listed her top priorities as smart growth, referring to her formation of the first Smart Growth Caucus when she was in the Assembly, and vocational education, so that students would have the skills to earn a living wage.

Republican challenger Wiesner placed illegal immigration at the top of his priority list, noting that California hosts a high number of “illegals” in relation to its population, a discrepancy he said “isn’t fair.”

In addressing illegal immigration, he said, “If we do not abide by laws, society descends into chaos.”

However, to a question on reducing the speed limit to 55 miles per hour, he said he doubted drivers would follow a lowered rate.

“You can legislate all you want,” he said.

On illegal immigration, Wiggins noted simply that those who were in the state working should be treated with respect, and cautioned that punishing business owners too stringently for employing illegal workers could also harm the economy.

<table class=posttable align=left width=300><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg width=300 src=bin/wiggins_pat.png></td></tr><tr><td class=postcap align=center>Pat Wiggins</td></tr></table>She supported encouraging entrepreneurship locally to help economic development and job creation.

Wiesner applauded the “‘can do’ spirit here in California.”

On a question related to the fishing industry, he suggested that certain “nonsensical” regulations were to blame for problems facing the industry, while Wiggins called for the removal of the dams on the Klamath and better watershed restoration efforts.

Many of Wiggins’ answers were simple and to the point: she said she was for choice, same-sex marriage, assisted suicide, medical marijuana, fluoride (and opposed to Arcata’s Measure W), and Proposition 86, the tax on cigarettes. She also said she opposes Proposition 85, the parental notification initiative.

On some of those topics, Wiesner, who framed his answers in reference to his identification as a Catholic, answered in stark contrast: he is pro-life and firmly opposed to Prop. 85 as well as same-sex marriage and assisted suicide.

Medical marijuana, he said, needs to be addressed, and he thought that fluoride had worked well in protecting his own children’s teeth.

Wiggins served in the state Assembly until 2004, when she reached her term limit. She currently serves on the California Integrated Waste Management Board.

Referring to her endorsements by four Humboldt County supervisors as well as Arcata and Eureka City Council members, Wiggins said, “I have people to work with — that I am already working with — for the future of Humboldt County.”

Wiesner said that his experience as a certified public accountant and business consultant, and his sense of discipline, would hold him in good stead in Sacramento, though he joked, “What can prepare you for politics? Maybe a big mouth.”

Chesbro is leaving the position from which he’s represented the North Coast for eight years at the end of December due to term limits.

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Marijuana advocacy group of hold conference Friday

Postby palmspringsbum » Thu Nov 30, 2006 10:24 am

The Eureka Reporter wrote:
Marijuana advocacy group of hold conference Friday

by Laura Provolt, 11/29/2006
The Eureka Reporter

<table class=posttable align=right width=300><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg src=bin/NORML_humboldt-u.jpg width=300></td></tr><tr><td class=postcap>Humboldt State University NORML club members attend the Million Marijuana March in May in front of the HSU gates. This event was one of the many campus events that NORML sponsors, such as various movie nights and potlucks. Submitted photo/Jessie Beck</td></tr></table>The Humboldt State University chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws will hold its first annual NORML Day conference at the Kate Buchanan room at HSU on Friday.

The conference will include a forum on the cannabis policy at HSU, a presentation about the industrial use of hemp by hemp store Solutions owner Kevin Johnson, a hemp jewelry-making presentation by NORML member Jessie Beck, a “Know your rights” workshop by David Cobb, a keynote address by activist Eddy Lepp, lectures by Joen Madonna and Dr. Amanda Reiman of the University of California, Berkeley, and a lecture on organizing for direct action by HSU professor Dan Faulk.

David Lawlor, NORML member and former HSU chapter vice president, said NORML is a national organization with hundreds of chapters. The HSU chapter has been in existence since October 2005, and has since gained more than 200 members.

Lawlor said in the advocacy of drug rights, there are two camps: decriminalization and legalization. While he said he is not able to speak for all members of NORML, Lawlor believes the group’s intention is to legalize but heavily tax marijuana for both medicinal and recreational uses.

The club is active on the HSU campus, as it has held frequent movie nights, meetings and the Million Marijuana March in May, and frequently hosts educational videos and workshops about how to avoid and deal with arrest.

Lawlor said the group gathered 310 pounds of food for the Holiday Food Drive last year, for which they were awarded with lunch with HSU President Rollin Richmond.

“It is not unusual for campuses to have the NORML group on them because young people are often interested in questioning the traditional values, and this is one where I generally happen to agree,” Richmond said via a recent telephone interview.

Richmond said marijuana is widely used on the HSU campus, and it is a large component of the local culture and economy.

“By some estimates, the local drug trade is from $100 to $400 million; it is a very strong underground economy, but we don’t have the exact numbers,” Richmond said. “If it were legalized, there would be a lot less crime, and perhaps more housing. I have been told that a lot of housing is used as indoor growing, and if it were legalized, it would free up a lot of housing. ... I support the normalization and heavy taxation of drug use.”

When they met with Richmond, Lawlor said, NORML representatives spoke to him about the campus marijuana policy. Because HSU receives federal funds, the campus follows the laws of federal land, including the federal position on medical marijuana. If a student is caught with marijuana on campus, the university police do not recognize 215 cards or paperwork. However, District Attorney Paul Gallegos has stated that he will not prosecute medical marijuana cases, Lawlor said.

“It is really unclear; it is a very confusing situation,” Lawlor said. “If someone had enough money, they could really take it to court. This system is not very solid.”

Lawlor said Richmond agreed that the group had a good point, but directed them to Vice President of Student Affairs Steven Butler, after which there was no further action. When contacted, Butler declined to comment.

At the conference, a panel of students, NORML representatives and Alcohol and Other Drug Specialist Vincent Feliz will participate in a discussion about marijuana policy on campus, a discussion which will be moderated by HSU professor Allen Amundsen.

Lawlor emphasized that this discussion will not be a “screaming match,” but rather a professional, mature discussion about an important campus topic.

Humboldt State University Chief of Police Tom Dewey said the university police do not keep statistics on the number of marijuana citations on campus or the number of citations involving medical marijuana cards, though he said that the proportion that “present some allegation it is for medicinal purposes” is less than a third.

Dewey said he sent a letter to HSU NORML about the UPD policies on marijuana, which stressed that the regulations are made at the statewide level, that medical marijuana is among items such as fireworks, bows and arrows, open containers of alcohol and live birds, items that can be possessed off campus but not on campus, and that marijuana-related robbery and assault is a threat.

Dewey said the abuse of any controlled substance does interfere with the educational mission of the university, but to eliminate all marijuana use on campus would require “severely compromising individual privacy.”

“We do respond to periodic incidents related to marijuana use on campus, including selected students suffering allergic reactions and/or severe anxiety after ingesting marijuana, non-users in conflict with users smoking nearby, fire safety violations related to smoking in buildings and tampering with smoke alarms, non-students and criminal offenders coming onto campus to participate in illegal marijuana dealing and use and violent assaults related to marijuana distribution.

Lawlor said the group has goals for marijuana legalization off campus as well, and that he expects the group to gain influence as it grows.

“A few years ago, the city of Oakland passed Measure Z, where cannabis enforcement was placed lowest priority for the police,” Lawlor said. “What Z is basically saying is that if a cop were to see a jaywalker and someone smoking a joint, they would go after the jaywalker.”

Lawlor said other cities, such as Santa Cruz, San Francisco and Denver, passed similar laws afterwards, and he said he could see the city of Arcata doing the same.

If NORML gained success in Arcata, they would then take on the city of Eureka or the County of Humboldt.

“I think that this area is conducive to this sort of legislation,” Lawlor said. “It is part of the culture, the economy. When we went around to local businesses for support for the conference, we got a lot of support; there was no one who questioned it or who disagreed with what we were saying.”

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Marijuana card fees going up

Postby palmspringsbum » Fri Feb 16, 2007 7:05 pm

The Eureka Times-Standard wrote:
Marijuana card fees going up

Eureka Times Standard
Article Launched: 02/05/2007 04:15:14 AM PST

EUREKA -- The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors will on Tuesday consider voting to pass on a significant increase in the cost of obtaining a medical marijuana card by making it a part of its fee schedule.

On Dec. 27, according to a county staff report, the county was notified that the state fee for medical marijuana identification cards will go up significantly on March 1.

The fee increase is a pass through hike, but “failure to revise our county fee schedule, however, could subject the public health fund to liability for the difference between the current state fee and the fee shown on our schedule,” said a county staff report.

The move, if approved, will remove specific language on the fee, and replace it with the “current state rate.”

The board will also meet this afternoon, to consider filling the position of Humboldt County librarian. The position has been vacant since the last librarian, Carolyn Stacey, left in August of last year.

The meeting Tuesday starts at 9 a.m. in the Humboldt County Courthouse. The meeting Monday starts at 12:45 p.m.

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Increase in 215 cards to be implemented next month

Postby palmspringsbum » Fri Feb 16, 2007 9:39 pm

The Eureka Reporter wrote:
Increase in 215 cards to be implemented next month

by Christine Bensen-Messinger, 2/6/2007
The Eureka Reporter

Two people at Tuesday morning’s Humboldt County Board of Supervisors meeting spoke out against the increase in 215 cards, voicing concerns that it is unfair to users who do not have a lot of money to have to spend more to get their medication.

Starting March 1, medical marijuana users in Humboldt County will need to pay more than twice what they did last year when they renewed their 215 cards.

The card, which currently costs $88 to renew, will be raised to $217 because of the increase in state fees.

“There’s a county fee and also a state fee,” said Deputy County Administrative Officer Phillip Smith, during a presentation about the increase he made to the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors Tuesday morning. “We have no discretion in the (state fee) matter.”

The state’s fee, which is currently $13, is being raised to $142, said Leslie Lollich, public education and outreach officer. The county rate has stayed at $75.

Per state regulations, the cost to Medi-Cal recipients is half the county fee and half the state fee.

In December, he said the county’s health department received notice that the fee would be increasing.

Since 2005, the fee has increased from $40 to $88, and now to $217.

McKinleyville resident Daniel Pierce encouraged the board to write a letter to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger about the fee increase, which he said he considers “outrageous.”

Pierce said the increase is a burden to sick people who may not be able to afford it.

Humboldt County Supervisor Roger Rodoni questioned whether the increase will create a higher profile for the county’s medical marijuana program, leading to raids by the federal government because medical marijuana use is legal in California, but not at the federal level.

“I have no problem with what we are doing here. Just a point of concern on my part,” Rodoni said. “My concern … is the absolutely egregious disregard for the United States (Constitution) by the federal government. Because we dabble in this activity here, are we going to have the agents of the US of A (on us)?”

Peggy Falk, the deputy branch director of the county’s Department of Health and Human Services, said the federal government has not attempted to intervene in Humboldt County.

“The lack of consistency between the federal law and state law is obvious,” said Phillip Crandall, director of the county’s Department of Health and Human Services. “(But) our first step is to line up and comply with the state.”

In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 215, also known as the Compassionate Use Act. Within California, the act allows for the recommendation by a physician for the medical use of marijuana by a patient and the cultivation, transportation and use of marijuana for medical purposes by patients and/or their caregivers.

The Compassionate Use Act exempts patients, caregivers and physicians who recommend the use of marijuana for medical purposes from criminal laws, punishment or the denial of any rights or privileges, according to the California Department of Health Services Web site,

Through their county of residence, qualified patients and their caregivers may apply for and be issued an identification card. This card will be used to verify those patients and caregivers who have authorization to possess, grow, transport and/or use medical marijuana in California, the Web site stated.

“The way the process works: a person picks up an application at the public health branch ... the application is then taken to a physician who makes recommendations or requirements,” Lollich said. “The application is returned to public health, where it is processed. A picture is taken of the applicant. His/her medical records are checked and information (is) verified with the physician.”

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Supervisors pass along huge pot card fee jump

Postby palmspringsbum » Fri Feb 16, 2007 11:20 pm

The Times-Standard wrote:
Supervisors pass along huge pot card fee jump

John Driscoll/The Times-Standard
Article Launched: 02/07/2007 04:22:47 AM PST

Humboldt County supervisors said they have no choice but to pass on to users a fee increase for state medical marijuana cards or risk losing the money from public health coffers.

In December, the California Department of Health Services informed the county that the state portion of the fee -- currently $13 -- would jump to $142 for those not on MediCal and $71 for those who are on the state insurance program. The county's $75 application fee would remain unchanged.

”It's not a county fee, it's a state fee,” said Deputy County Administrative Officer Phil Smith-Haines. “We have no discretion in the matter.”

Supervisors unanimously passed the ordinance, but not before hearing concerns from the public.

Daniel Pierce said the county should send a letter to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration about what he deems an unfair tax on people who can't afford it.

”It's about people trying to survive by smoking marijuana that's been approved by the state,” Pierce said.

Supervisor Roger Rodoni railed against the general intervention of the federal government in California's medical marijuana issue, and wondered if the county's handling of the issue might bring it an unwelcome higher profile.

”Because we dabble in this activity, are we going to have the U.S. of A. agents show up here and intervene?” Rodoni wondered.

It's difficult to imagine any county having more of a reputation for marijuana than Humboldt, and county Health and Human Services Director Phil Crandell said the lack of consistency between the federal and state governments is clear. But he said the county should, at this point, aim to comply with state law.

The revision to the ordinance will be considered for adoption at the next supervisor's meeting on Tuesday.

<center><small>John Driscoll can be reached at 441-0504 or</small></center>

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Feds taking hands-off approach on compliant pot dispensaries

Postby palmspringsbum » Fri Mar 20, 2009 11:59 pm

The Eureka Times-Standard wrote:
Feds taking hands-off approach on compliant pot dispensaries

Jessie Faulkner/The Times-Standard
Posted: 03/19/2009 01:27:35 AM PDT

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's announcement Tuesday that federal agents will only target medical marijuana dispensaries that violate both federal and state law may have little impact on the North Coast, according to law enforcement officials.

Holder specifically noted that California medical marijuana dispensaries complying with state law will not be a priority for the Obama administration.

”Historically, the federal government has not done anything in this area anyway,” Arcata Police Chief Randy Mendosa said. “If the district attorney feels there is evidence to file a criminal complaint ... the police department would investigate.”

Calls to Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos were not returned by deadline.

Arcata is the only municipality in Humboldt County that is home to medical marijuana dispensaries or collaboratives.

The Eureka Police Department's policy has been to abide by the state Attorney Genera's guidelines, EPD Police Chief Garr Nielsen said. So far, no dispensaries have opened in Eureka, but the possibility of such a development was discussed at the City Council meeting on Tuesday, according to Nielsen.

The discussion arose in the context of how to better manage grow houses within the city limits.

”The direction to staff was, 'Let's start a discussion about how we will regulate grow houses.' Part of that would also be to talk about the questions of dispensaries,” he said.

Humboldt County Sheriff Gary Philp echoed his colleagues' opinions noting no anticipated changes in light of the U.S. Attorney General's announcement.

”I don't really believe it will change much locally,” he said.

Like other law enforcement agencies, the Sheriff's Office follows the recently released state Attorney General's guidelines.

”If they're within the guidelines, they're within the guidelines,” Philp said.

Arcata-based marijuana defense attorney Jeffrey Schwartz, however, said he thought the Obama Administration announcement amounted to one step toward the federal government not funding any more of the drug enforcement as it relates to marijuana.

Instead, he said he thought the emphasis would switch to such substances as cocaine and heroin.

”That's what I see happening from the federal point of view,” he said.

Arcata iCenter owner Stephen Gasparas, who runs a dispensary on K Street, said many of the raids he researched had to do with operators not following the specific guidelines or otherwise acting illegally.

But, he added, Tuesday's announcement will put a dent in a regular criticism aired by opponents.

”People can't say it's not legal federally -- that was always the thing that trumped,” Gasparas said.

Jessie Faulkner can be reached at 441-0517 or

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