The Humboldt Watershed Council organized it, and two labor organizations have since signed on as co-sponsors - the Alliance for Sustainable Jobs and the Environment and the Humboldt-Del Norte Central Labor Council. We're talking about the workshop happening this Friday night at the Fortuna Riverlodge, 6-8 p.m.: "Bankruptcy 101: Understanding the Palco Chapter 11 Case." It is free to all. It features a presentation by an experienced, high-powered corporate bankruptcy attorney. It's aimed toward providing information to the many, many people directly affected by the Pacific Lumber bankruptcy case.
And sadly (but predictably), some people are already doing their best to poison the thing. "Beware!" scream the right-wing blogger types. It's all a plot! Those enviro/labor types - they'll lure you into the Riverlodge, grinning behind their beards as they shake your hand. Once inside, though, they'll smack you over the head with a cudgel and you'll emerge as one of their Pod People. Oh yes, you, timber worker - you'll be spouting flower power and "free love" even before the night is through!
Friends, The Town Dandy is somewhat skeptical of this scenario. If you are inclined to go, I would counsel you to go, by all means. There will no doubt be some very good and useful information on tap. Contrary to rumors, the environmental types have pledged to leave their fangs at home. Hell, one or two of them might be persuaded to join you across the street at the Eel River Brewery for a pint or two afterwards. Why not? This workshop isn't being put on by the loopy brigade; it's the smart folks, the neighborly folks, who are gonna turn out for this thing. Watershed Council honcho Mark Lovelace promises there isn't going to be any stupid proselytizing: "This isn't going to be how we got here, laying blame or start for the future - just straight factual information on the process."
What a shame, then, that Dr. Ken Miller, intellectual author of DA Paul Gallegos' all-but-dead fraud lawsuit against Palco, had to go and open his big, dumb yap. In a tone-deaf letter published last weekend on the Humboldt Herald blog, Miller - also associated with the Watershed Council - weighs in on the issue of displaced Palco workers and their future. What does he have to say? Well, pretty much: a) they more or less deserve what they get because they didn't listen to him in the beginning, and b) the best thing they can do now is to support Gallegos and the aforementioned lawsuit! Hard to say which is the bigger long shot - the case itself, or the idea that frickin' Palco workers are going to line up behind The Surfin' D.A.
Again, folks - Friday's workshop isn't Miller's gig, it's Lovelace's. Trust me: Lovelace isn't stupid, and he's not going to try to sell you anything. He is what you and I would recognize as a human being.
We reported it two years ago ("Glitches mar Oscar broadcast," March 3, 2005). We reported it again last year ("Storms sink Oscar, again," March 9, 2006). And so we'd be remiss if we didn't note that yet again, local ABC affiliate KAEF-TV was nowhere to be found on the local airwaves when they rolled out that red carpet on Sunday. Once again, the rabbit-ear diehards - those better-than-you souls who eschew the 300-channel lifestyle - were frozen out of the world's biggest guilty pleasure (television division). KAEF, Channel 7, broadcast nothing but dead air throughout.
Once is an accident. Twice is a coincidence. Three times, though, and it begins to take on the color of a conspiracy. Perhaps the Redwood Curtain is more than just a metaphor; perhaps it is an active agent in the fight to keep all things SoCal out of Humboldt County. Perhaps it rises once a year to deliver a symbolic coup against glitz and glamor and vapid mutual admiration societies. You can think that way, and a lot of our tree-dwelling mystics find it has a certain appeal.
Then there are the smash-the-staters among us who, enraged at being denied access to Ellen DeGeneres' hosting hijinks, place the blame squarely on the shoulders of those corporate fux who control KAEF - namely, the people at station KRCR in Redding, which colonized our local ABC affiliate several years ago.
Though she probably wouldn't put it in those terms, KCRC General Manager Sarah Smith all but admitted Monday that the swamis and the anarchists each have a piece of the truth. Reached at her HQ in the soulless Central Valley exurb to our east, Smith, sounding thoroughly defeated, ripped her heart from her chest and offered it to the citizens of Humboldt County.
"We truly apologize," she said. "I've been here for two years, and for two years we've been trying to provide a reliable affiliate. We're so sick that we're unable to do that. We've worked diligently for two years, and now Mother Nature trips us up."
The problem this time, Smith said, was that the icy storms that buffeted the North Coast last week ended up cutting power to the Horse Mountain relay station that vaults the KRCR signal over the mountains. No power, no signal. The storms prevented the station from helicoptering in technicians, as the pilots refused to fly. Quick thinking restored Oscar to much of the area. She authorized Suddenlink to pump the ABC national feed through their cable in KAEF's place. Del Norte cable subscribers were handed over to the Medford affiliate. But there was nothing that could be done for non-paying customers - or for local advertisers, who were cut out of the market for several days.
To repeat: Smith was penitent. "We want to be a reliable service, and we're just not yet," she said. "And we apologize profusely for that."
Folks, there's been a lot of disturbing chatter coming across the transom recently, and we should take a moment to address it. On the Internet and on the street and in our own letters-to-the-editor page, people are saying that they will henceforth shun Sacred Groundscoffee, and they're urging others to do the same. This, of course, because of the events described in last week's cover story ("Roasted," Feb. 22).
But let's remember, people: A boycott is what you do when someone has not been brought to justice. That's not the case here. Tim Dominick and Bayside Roasters' Kregen and Pamela Olsen have received their day in court. The jury has rendered its decision. The Olsens have been compensated. Presumably, the significant financial penalties levied against Dominick will occasion some soul-searching. The judicial system is a creaky old machine, like much in our democracy, but in the end it got the job done.
I'm sure the intentions are honorable, but to further punish Sacred Grounds over this incident by refusing to purchase their products rubs me the wrong way - a classic case of "kick 'em while they're down." There's a bunch of reasons why this is unpalatable. In the first place, Dominick owns only one-sixth of the company. The business itself was not accused of any malfeasance, nor were any of the other owners. Secondly, it discards everything good that the company has done, including (but not limited to) donating coffee for good causes and promoting Fair Trade business arrangements with coffee growers.
Third and most importantly, it's damned cold and unforgiving. On his regular Monday morning segment on KMUD radio last week, Arcata Eye Editor Kevin Hoover made the pertinent point: Imagine if you were forever judged exclusively by the worst thing you ever did. Not a pretty picture. It's noble that Arcata would want to stand up for Bayside Roasters and to wish the Olsens, a hardworking young couple, all the best. But it would be nobler still - and more Humboldt, somehow - if the community would also move on from this matter with the faith that a sinner, punished, may yet be redeemed.