Cannabis in Crisis

Behind the push to repeal the county’s Measure S and what it might cost To hear insiders tell it, Humboldt County’s cannabis industry can be likened to a small ship in rough seas. Battered by an onslaught of waves seemingly coming from all directions — taxes, fees, compliance costs, COVID disruptions and fierce market forces — the boat has capsized, leaving its occupants struggling to keep their chins above water as their legs grow numb and tired. Local growers are now clamoring for the county to throw them a life vest, asking the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors to temporarily repeal Measure S, the countywide cultivation tax approved by 66 percent of county voters in 2016. The hope, says Natalynne Delapp, executive director of the Humboldt County Growers Alliance, is not so much that the brief tax reprieve on its own would be enough to save the county’s 1,000 or so licensed farms, but that it would keep them afloat until reinforcements — federal legalization, state tax relief or a seismic shift in market forces — rights the proverbial ship. But the ask comes at…

Frustrated and Confused

Texts illuminate allegations against Arcata Councilmember Brett Watson While few details have emerged about misconduct allegations facing former Arcata Mayor and sitting Councilmember Brett Watson, text messages between his fellow councilmembers show a growing frustration about his conduct. Things spilled into public view when the city called a special Oct. 20 session to discuss selecting a new mayor. Though Watson, who had been arrested for driving under the influence and drug possession in August, had not formally resigned his post, City Manager Karen Diemer said the move was being considered “in communication” with him and for “personal reasons.” Shortly after, Watson announced he was entering a treatment program “to focus on depression and personal issues.” He has returned to the council dais but allegations of unspecified wrongdoing remain, and the city recently hired of an outside firm to investigate Watson’s possible violations of its anti-discrimination and harassment policy. While the city has declined to further explain the allegations, which Watson denies, or who’s involved, the little information released seems to indicate it involved staff. Watson did not immediately respond to a request for comment for…

California judge among 3 in spotlight as Biden mulls Supreme Court pick

President Joe Biden is eyeing at least three judges for an expected vacancy on the Supreme Court as he prepares to quickly deliver on his campaign pledge to nominate the first Black woman to the nation’s highest court, according to aides and allies. Biden and Justice Stephen Breyer are expected to hold an event at the White House Thursday to formally announce Breyer’s plans to retire, according to a person briefed on the planning who was not authorized to publicly discuss it in advance. Early discussions about a successor are focusing on U.S. Circuit Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, U.S. District Judge J. Michelle Childs and California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger, according to four people familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss White House deliberations. Jackson and Kruger have long been seen as possible nominees. Since Biden took office in January 2021, he has focused on nominating a diverse group of judges to the federal bench, installing five Black women on federal appeals courts, with three more nominations pending before the Senate. Other possible candidates for the high court could come from…

Student debt: Lawmakers ask Biden to cancel up to $50,000

Many Democrats are calling for action on student debt, with some looking to President Joe Biden for help and others introducing legislation themselves.  A group of 80 progressive lawmakers sent a letter Wednesday to Biden, asking him to cancel up to $50,000 of student debt per borrower. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) is part of that push.  “Young people, 2 years, 5 years, even 10 years out of college, who are so oppressed, if you will, with 30, 50, 100 or more thousand dollars in debt,” Brown said.  Biden did pause student loan repayment during the pandemic, but so far hasn’t fulfilled his campaign promise to cancel up to $10,000 in debt per student. US gives written response to Russia on Ukraine demands “We’re still looking at administrative options, but Congress can also send the president a bill that would provide $10,000 in debt relief, and he’d be happy to sign that bill,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said. Meanwhile, many lawmakers aren’t holding their breath. Several of them are introducing bills to tackle problems related to student loans in other ways. Congresswoman Deborah Ross (D-N.C.) and…

Will COVID-19 ever go away? Most Americans think no

Early in the pandemic, Ryan Wilson was careful to take precautions — wearing a mask, not really socializing, doing more of his shopping online. The 38-year-old father and seafood butcher from Casselberry, Florida, says he relaxed a bit after getting vaccinated last year. He had a few friends over and saw his parents more, while making sure to still mask up at places like the grocery store. The recent virus surge hasn’t caused him to change his behavior much, because he’s vaccinated and has read that the variant causes less severe illness. And, like many, Wilson has come to believe COVID-19 is probably never fully going away. “It’ll become endemic and we’ll be stuck with it forever,” he says. “It’s frustrating, but what can you do about it?” Many Americans agree that they’re going to “be stuck with it forever” — or, at the least, for a long time. A poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows that few — just 15% — say they’ll consider the pandemic over only when COVID-19 is largely eliminated. By contrast, 83% say they’ll feel…

Proposed ballot measure to build more California dams, desalination projects likely to be withdrawn due to lack of money and signatures

Despite California’s drought, a proposed statewide November ballot measure to speed up the construction of new dams and other large water projects — and provide billions of dollars to fund them — has fallen short in its fundraising goals and is likely to be withdrawn by early next week. The initiative would require that 2% of California’s general fund, or about $4 billion, be set aside every year to expand water supplies. Those could include new dams and reservoirs, desalination plants, recycled water plants and other projects such as upgrading canals and pipes. The measure also would streamline permitting for those projects. But the campaign has failed to gain momentum and is far short of the nearly 1 million signatures needed by the end of April to qualify for the ballot. Organizers say to have any chance, they must raise $10 million by Feb. 1 to hire paid signature gatherers and ramp up efforts. As of Wednesday, they had raised only $165,000, nearly all of it from Central Valley farmers. “We haven’t been able to find big donors who have been willing to come in…

Who to contact to get a third I-5 lane on the priority list: Roadshow

Q: I keep reading complaints about Interstate 5. Who can we contact about improving I-5 and other California highways? The governor uses a helicopter and doesn’t know the problems of ordinary citizens who are driving. Perhaps a letter-writing campaign would help get California’s elected officials to prioritize fixing our highways, using part of the state budget surplus. Robert Hull, Scotts Valley A: Folks, it’s time to take action and pepper state elected officials with letters and emails about how bad the stretch of I-5 between Northern and Southern California has become as traffic has increased. I-5 is just two lanes wide in each direction. Readers report many problems with this highly traveled road. Q: Driving continuously in the right lane, given the horrible state of California roads and I-5, in particular, is essentially asking for destroyed suspension, wheels and tires, not to mention the need for a neck and back specialist. Ed Oates A: Here’s what you need to do, if you agree with these and other frustrated I-5 drivers. Contact the 13-member California Transportation Commission (CTC) with your recommendation that a third lane needs…

How the 49ers have learned to finish strong after early-season wobbles

The 49ers are still stinging from the one that got away, and believe they are built to finish. Finishing games is more of a concept than something printed in black and white in a football manual and distributed by coach Kyle Shanahan. It can be complementary or specific to a phase of offense, defense or special teams. It can be a play made by an individual or something situational set up by superior coaching. Whatever it is, the 49ers didn’t have it when it mattered most on Feb. 2, 2020 in Super Bowl LIV against the Kansas City Chiefs. They had it in the divisional round when they pulled out a 13-10 win over the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Next up are the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game. It’s the last step to take before getting a chance to ease the pain of what happened in Miami two years ago. “It’s all about the finish. We’re still getting haunted by the Super Bowl,” safety Jimmie Ward said. “The last six minutes we lost the game. Coach Kyle…

Sarah Palin dines outdoors at restaurant two days after it’s revealed she tested positive for Covid-19

By Sonia Moghe | CNN A Manhattan restaurant where Sarah Palin was spotted dining indoors while unvaccinated over the weekend confirmed that the former Alaska governor returned to dine outdoors on Wednesday, just a few days after testing positive tor Covid. At issue are current local guidelines that advise people who tested positive to remain in isolation for five days after their positive test. “Our goal has always been to incentivize isolation for those testing positive for Covid and providing them multiple resources,” a New York City Hall spokesperson said. “That being said we hope that anybody who has Covid is isolating for their own safety and the safety of all new Yorkers and find it highly irresponsible that Sarah Palin refuses to do so.” Palin, who is in Manhattan for her defamation trial against the New York Times, tested positive for Covid-19, a federal judge presiding over her case said Monday, delaying the start of the trial. It’s unclear what day Palin first tested positive. “She is, of course, unvaccinated,” said US District Judge Jed Rakoff Monday, according to Reuters. CNN has reached out…

Walters: California governor’s vacillation on vaccinations, Phase 2

Is California — and its politicians — ready for VAX War II? More pointedly, is Gov. Gavin Newsom ready? Three years ago, the Capitol was wracked by one of the most heated conflicts in its history — legislation to make it more difficult for parents to exempt their children from mandatory vaccinations if they attended public schools. A bill sought to close a loophole that allowed doctors to approve exemptions without specifying reasons, leading to doctor-shopping by anti-vaccination parents. Hundreds of opponents besieged the Capitol, claiming that the legislation would violate parental rights and require vaccines that could trigger autism or other adverse reactions. The measure’s author, Sacramento Sen. Richard Pan, and other backers were accosted and threatened and on the final night of the legislative session, someone in the Senate gallery threw a cup of what authorities said “appeared to be blood” onto the Senate floor. Eventually, the bill passed and was signed by Newsom in his first year as governor, but he engaged in some bizarre political theater before finally acceding. As the bill was moving through the Legislature, Newsom suddenly demanded a number of…