'Bloodbath On Buhner St.'
'Seaport Satirist Shocker'
'Bombastic Blogger Is City's Legal Beagle'
Yes, everyone has most likely already heard the news, seeing as how it prompted a local media blitz the likes have which have not been seen for about a year (nearly to the day, in fact). The enigmatic blogger previously known as Captain Buhne has stepped forth from the shadows. In a front-page Arcata Eye story "streeting" this week, Buhne's Clark Kentish alter ego reveals himself to be Ryan Hurley, legal assistant for the City of Eureka.
Everything that can conceivably be said about the subject has probably already been said, but indulge me with one observation. In all the local blogosphere, no one's true identity was more eagerly sought than Capt. Buhne's. The Captain has beguiled a lot of powerful people in the last couple of years (check his archives if you're among the uninitiated - Google "Buhne Tribune"). No one else working the blog circuit has near as much mindshare. And you can bet that none of the anonymous chatterers holds anywhere near as sensitive a position in real life. But Buhne stepped forward anyway.
Conclusion: Ryan Hurley has stones, and the other blog chatterers don't. I'm looking at you, Heraldo of "The Humboldt Herald." And you, Anon.R.mous of the "Super Happy Fun Blog." You two, especially - unless you can convince me that your job is more delicate than Hurley's, the inescapable conclusion is that you are anonymous because you are too small, morally, to take responsibility for your words. Period, full stop, end of story.
Meanwhile, if you'd like to hear me kick Hurley's ass live on the radio, tune into KHUM tonight (Thursday, April 19) at 6 p.m.
Through no fault of its own, the Journal seems to have gotten itself into the middle of a nasty spat between two Manila neighbors concerning a proposed new building development in that seaside community. Having done so, we now find ourselves in the tedious position of having to adjudicate their dispute.
Here's the rough timeline: On March 8, we published a story about the new mega-development being proposed in Cutten. On March 15, a bunch of people wrote in to register their opposition to the Cutten development. On March 29, R.S. Riley wrote in to deride the March 15 correspondents as a bunch of NIMBYs, and to say that such types are opposed even to his eco-groovy Manila development. On April 5, Michael Fennell wrote to say that Riley's development is not eco-groovy at all, and listed several particulars to back up his case. Last week, Riley came in to challenge three of Fennell's published facts.
Pine trees.In his letter, Fennell stated that Riley was "caught cutting mature beach pines on [his] property prior to submitting [his] development plan." The implication was that this was an illegal act, and in a follow-up call Fennell asserted that it was.
In fact, it was not. The tree-cutting incident was covered in the Arcata Eye at the time. The story from that paper described how officers from the county's code enforcement unit had been called to the scene and had issued a stop-work permit for "possible" violations, but had later determined that no law had been broken. The trees were not, in fact, "mature," at least by the definition adopted by the county. In our phone conversation, Fennell insisted that code enforcement had simply been too busy to prosecute Riley, but this is not the case. No law was broken.
Sand. In his letter, Fennell mentioned that the Riley plan involves "bulldoz[ing] the dunes (about 650 large dump-truck loads)." In fact, the great majority of the sand removed from building sites in the Riley proposal will be used to restore historic dunes on the property, according to engineering plans that have been submitted to the county. Only one "large dump-truck load" of sand is scheduled to be removed from the site.
Density. Fennell, speaking for the community, said: "We welcome any new housing that ... maintains the half-acre minimum standard." (Half-acre-minimum lots are standard for the area's zoning.)
Riley's plan calls for 17 homes on 8.5 acres, which pencils out to one home per half-acre. However, those proposed homes will be scrunched into one corner of the property so that the rest of the parcel, which consists of sensitive wetlands, may be protected as open space. This kind of thing is the purpose behind "planned unit developments." Trevor Eslow, a planner with the county's Community Development Services division, assured us Tuesday that these kind of trade-offs - smaller lot sizes for preserved open space - are not entirely uncommon.
In fact, just last year there was another Manila developer who did a somewhat analogous deal with the county. His name is Michael Fennell. Last year, Fennell wanted to subdivide 3.7 acres, 3 acres of which was wetlands or pine forest. Fennell built three homes on the other seven-tenths of an acre, with the county's blessing. According to Eslow, the lead planner on the project, one of the lots was only 15,000 square feet in size - about .35 acres, well below the standard he sets for Riley's development. The subdivision was arranged in that way to ensure that the property's sensitive habitat would remain in single ownership.
In our conversation, Fennell maintained that small parcel in his project was not his choice. "It's not something that I needed, it's not something that I wanted - it's something they [the planning department] came up with at the 11th hour," he said. And though a similar planning logic may be driving Riley's development, Fennell insisted that there were still lots of reasons to oppose his neighbor's project.
You want more? The Humboldt County Planning Commission will consider Riley's development at its regular meeting on Thursday, May 3.
We are in receipt of a curious letter regarding last week's cover story on colorful Eureka character Jerry Droz ("Sometimes Jerry wins," April 12). The letter itself is perhaps a bit incoherent. Also, its purported author one "Ronald Kenneth Dorn" of Trinidad does not, in fact, seem to exist. Those are two reasons why we have not published it. Nevertheless, the letter is wonderfully illustrative in its own way. It shows that the voters of the City of Eureka made a big, big mistake when they declined to elect Droz as their mayor last fall.
Because what do you want in a mayor? You want leadership potential. Well, as the "Dorn" letter indicates, Droz's leadership qualities are far greater than those of your standard politician. The man has a mesmeretic ability to burrow his way into his followers' minds. This gives him, among other powers, the ability to control the way their fingers fall on the keyboard.
What do I mean? Take, for example, Droz's rules of written English. Never one to rest on his laurels, the valiant Jerry has in the past put forward a radical scheme for reconstructing the rules of punctuation. Take this representative example, culled from The Petch House, the local blog that published the first known exegesis of Drozian grammar. The extract is taken from a Droz letter to city government:
"Likewise , those not following my lead will soon find that things will not go right. I had asked , Dan Moody to install signs limiting the amount of time vehicles can park in front of , Kragen's and The Golden Gate Service Station ...."
Two things leap out in this sample: space before comma and comma before proper noun. Those are the two fundamentals of the Droz style. Back when the mayor's race was hot, you found samples of it all over the local blogs, signed by fervent Droz supporters such as "Randy Wybeck," "Big John" and "Dana W." Clearly these good citizens found Jerry to be not only a persuasive political leader but a forward-thinking syntactician.
What the "Dorn" letter proves is that Droz's devout following has not waned with time; indeed, it seems to have spread to remoter outposts. Quote: "The recent article regarding , Jerry Droz was one of the best you have ever published ... We don't have these problems where we live in , Trinidad because we don't cater to all the derelics , criminals and assistance for Drug addicts and drunken alcoholics the way , Eureka does ."
Well , thank you , Mr. " Dorn " and God bless ! Maybe , Eureka didn't see things the way , Droz did , but I think I'm coming around !