Friday, December 2, 2011

Occupy Humboldt, drunk DAs, trucking, and pancakes

Like most people, I went home for Thanksgiving. As I posted earlier, my mother had surgery the Friday before so my family had a low key Turkey Day with just my parents, two sisters, and myself. But even with the holiday weekend, my father kept an appointment he has every Saturday morning that he is home: breakfast with my uncle Larry and their best friend Frank at Dennys. For as long as I can remember my dad would go to breakfast with Larry, Frank, and maybe a few other people on Saturdays to eat flap jacks, drink gallons of coffee, and discuss various subjects. That Saturday I went with Dad and grabbed a copy of the Times-Standard, the local newspaper, when we got there.

Dad and Larry talked about what was going on with the family trucking company. Construction projects have closed for the winter, meaning no more dirt hauling until spring. Four truck loads of crab pots were hauled down to San Francisco for the early dungeness crab season. And we had a kind of Black Friday haul, a Christmas tree seller realized on Wednesday they had underestimated their original order of trees and needed a truck load of trees by Thanksgiving night. We got some much needed extra income on that haul.

We also talked about the Occupy Wall Street protests going on. A couple of small scale protests are happening in Humboldt county. Eureka's encampment was taking place on the courthouse's lawn, where the protesters have been removed three times by police. The encampment has its supporters, but its reputation has been marred by numerous intoxicated in public arrests and one charge of assault when a woman tried to physically prevent a couple of courthouse employees from entering.

Sensing that some in the community are turning on the Eureka OWS encampment, a new group calling itself Occupy Humboldt is forming. Their goal is to move away from an encampment, and turn towards countywide community outreach and political involvement.

The Occupy Arcata encampment on the city hall lawn has self-imploded. Apparently a fight over the encampment's kitchen and partying broke the group up into two subsets. One, mostly made up of Humboldt State University students, decided to move back onto campus where other students were already protesting. The other, mostly homeless, moved into a camp in the Arcata Community Forest.

It seems like the OWS movement in Humboldt county is at a cross roads right now moving in many directions all at once. Another topic was the pepper spraying at UC Davis and the comparison to the pepper spraying incident in Humboldt during the Timber Wars in the 1990s. But that's enough material for a future post.

Another topic we talked about was the county to the north of Humboldt, Del Norte. In a "why would you do that, you know better" situation, the former Del Norte District Attorney Mike Riese was arrested in August for suspicion of DUI. Because the former DA was involved, the Attorney General sent an assistant to take over prosecuting the case from the DA's Office.

But there was a problem of what to do with the Superior Court judges of Del Norte. The AG requested that all the judges of Del Norte recuse themselves. All the judges sounds like a big deal, but Del Norte only has two, and both have presided over criminal cases involving the former DA. The judges agreed to step aside, so a retired Humboldt county judge has volunteered to hear the DA's case. Just another example of how the judicial system in very rural counties can be a real pain.

We finished up breakfast and the conversation. We went our separate ways and I left with my mind filled with plenty of local scuttlebutt to last me until Christmas time.

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