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Running out of options

Mike Diehl, a 30-year crab fisherman, is struggling to pay bills in the absence of a commercial season this year. Del Norte Triplicate / Bryant Anderson
While federal cash to help workers hurt by this year’s unprecedented closure of California’s Dungeness crab season inches through Congress, a fish fry fundraiser being held tonight at Del Norte County Fairgrounds hopes to deliver swifter relief.

“It’s really come to light lately that there’s a real need to help some of these families and fishermen affected by the closure,” John Beardon, vice president of the Crescent City Fishermen’s Association, said Thursday.  “Things keep getting worse and worse.”

Although low-interest loans from the Small Business Administration have been offered to struggling commercial crab boat owners, Beardon and his wife recently realized how many of their friends and acquaintances were hurting bad from the closure and had little assistance to pay the bills.

Sewer rate hike vote Monday

Crescent City Council plans to vote Monday on adopting a new consumption-based sewer rate plan for residential customers.

A majority of the council has indicated they favor the now plan.

The meeting starts at 6 p.m. in the Flynn Center, 981 H St. Crescent City, and is open to the public.

News of Record, Feb. 26 - March 3, 2016

These are the misdemeanor and felony sentencings provided by the Del Norte County Superior Court for Feb. 26 - March 3, 2016:

• Brigette Thompson, 19, Crescent City, was sentenced to 1 day in jail, 3 years probation, and fined $630 for obstruction/resisting a police officer.

• Richard Yang, 23, Crescent City, was sentenced to 180 days in jail and fined $1864 for driving under the influence. He was sentenced to an additional 180 days in jail and fined $150 for a probation violation.

• Pete Dizick, 42, Crescent City, was sentenced to 60 days in jail for felony violation of community supervision.

Del Norte officials ommitted info an example of confusing law

State officials say the apparent confusion by some Del Norte elected officials over what they must disclose about their finances is a perfect example of why the law should be revamped.

A routine review this week by the Triplicate of financial disclosures required of members of the Del Norte Healthcare District board revealed two members, Terry McNamara and Shellie Babich, have failed to list sources of income for at least the past three years.

Babich said she didn’t understand she had to list her sources of income. She recently amended her filing.

McNamara, who is retired, is apparently exempt from disclosing income sources when filing California Form 700.

California Form 700, Statement of Economic Interests, is a form each public official must complete each year, providing the public a system to ensure officials do not have conflicts of interest when it comes to their finances.

In fact, McNamara’s form was missing a simple check mark. His “Economic Interests” are all exempt from filing. The only thing missing was the check mark. He had nothing to report. At first glance the report looks empty, when in fact it is complete.

“This is a good example of why we should rewrite the law for the 21st Century,” said Jay Wierenga Communications Director of the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), the state agency charged with managing the program said.

“Our overall philosophy is to gain compliance,” Wierenga said. “If they make a mistake, and then take steps to correct it, that is taken as good terms. It is when people do things purposefully and try to hide things that is when we take action.”

Wierenga said his agency’s studies have shown the documents are so overly complicated that it is discouraging some from seeking or being appointed to public office.

“People are scared away and that isn’t right,” he said.

Babich, a physician’s assistant, has served on the HCD board the past six years and said she usually defers to healthcare district office staff for assistance with the completing the document.

Babich said her financial life “isn’t very exciting” but she always tries to be thorough and honest. She said she had no idea why her filing was missing a Schedule C listing the source of her income, which she immediately amended.

Wierenga said the FPPC will partner with California Forward and plans to enlist “young, bright talent from the UC Berkeley School of Law to rewrite the law. We hope to present it to the legislature next year.”


Enforceable Violations of the Act

The following is a list of violations that the FPPC regularly enforces:

Financial conflicts of interest

Laundered campaign contributions

Over-the-limit gifts and contributions

Improper use of campaign funds, including personal use

Campaign mass mailings at public expense

False, inadequate, or inaccurate reporting on statements of economic interests, campaign statements and reports

Non-filing or late filing of such statements and reports

Anonymous or cash contributions of $100 or more

Emergency dispatch call logs, March 2-4, 2016

Excerpts from the Del Norte County emergency dispatch call logs, March 2-4:

Wednesday, March 2

At 3:20 p.m., a deputy district attorney investigator requested assistance from a sheriff deputy in arresting a staff member at Sutter Coast Hospital who was refusing to comply with a court order.

At 4:49 p.m., caller on the 1200 block of Douglas Street says her son jumped out of the car while she was driving him to the hospital after he hurt himself with a knife.

At 5:25 p.m., report of a car stolen from outside a business on the 800 block of Northcrest Drive. Caller says the thief stole the car keys from inside the restaurant.

Contractor offers $5,500 reward for return of stolen tools

A sign in front of the remains of David Restadís van offers a reward for the return of tools necessary for his job. Del Norte Triplicate / Michael Zogg
Van found burnt out at Pacific Shores 

The tires on David Restad’s van were gone. 

The windows on the passenger and rear doors and the windshield were shattered. The headlights, grill and engine were missing. Side panels that were once emblazoned with Crescent Electric Contractors’ name and phone number were blackened from fire.

Critical Access application expires

The threat of Sutter Coast hospital slashing beds from 49 to 25 through designation as a Critical Access hospital is gone, along with the application filed by the hospital in 2013.

Sutter Coast CEO Mitch Hanna said he has no intentions of reapplying.

“This is a very important step for the community,” said Dr. Greg Duncan, former Sutter Coast chief of staff and a frequent critic of the Sutter Coast management. “For them to re-initiate the application process would require them to start over. And, I believe there would be too much public opposition. Everyone is aware now of what the negative impacts on the health care of the community would be if the hospital where to be designated Critical Access. So yes, this is very important news.”

Citizens call for team effort

If you get hospital-sick in Del Norte County, the doctor or specialist you need may be hundreds of miles away. There’s a real possibility that you would be loaded on a plane and flown to the specialist you need.

Currently, it happens about 900 times a year; and average of about three times a day. You and your loved ones have to shoulder the cost of travel, meals and lodging. Should you survive the experience, you would then have to find your own way home.

Mitch Hanna, CEO of Sutter Coast Hospital in Crescent City, observed in a recent interview: “Health care in Del Norte County, as with many rural communities across the U.S., is in trouble. The North Coast is in desperate need of specialists but doesn’t have the population base to support new specialized doctors, and, 85 to 90 percent of patients are using government sponsored insurance, making it a tough market to attract new doctors.”

Strong storms lining up offshore

Del Norte is in for some nasty weather now that the high pressure ridge holding off the brunt of recent storms has broken up and moved east.

“That basically opens the door for the storms over the Pacific. Now these storms are coming in more strongly,” said Mel Nordquist, a science officer for the National Weather Service in Eureka.

Just after 3 p.m. Wednesday, a gust of 47 miles per hour blew by the Del Norte Regional Airport, a precursor to what’s likely to come later in the week.

Emergency dispatch call logs, Feb. 29 - March 2, 2016

Excerpts from the Del Norte County emergency dispatch call logs, Feb. 29 - March 2:

Monday, February 29

At 8:14 a.m., report of an abandoned vehicle in a parking lot on the 200 block of M Street.

At 12:10 p.m., caller reports seeing a wanted subject in the park on the 600 block of Pacific Avenue.

At 12:44 p.m., request to speak with a deputy in regards to people accusing him of stealing a dirt bike.

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