Archives July 2008
DEA maintains presence in Humboldt County
Stay tuned as the great Humboldt cleanup of 2008 continues on...
For your enjoyment:
From Humboldt Craigslist but republished here in case it gets flagged on CL and taken down, like most entertaining "Rants and Raves" eventually do.
What we don't know for sure is if this person is talking about just pot-centric Humboldt County, or all of California. In any case, it doesn't matter much because it sounds like he/she is moving soon. Later on, anonymous ranter!
Now onto another rant on CL, this guy is a grower who has some interesting opinions and took the time to write his thoughts out for all of us. Thing is, we can't help noticing that while he says he is a college graduate, he fails to understand the difference between capitalism and venture capital, says that the housing economy here has not been affected by the national downturn (which is, of course, incorrect), and is incapable of using proper grammar ("their" instead of "they're", "were" instead of "we're", etc.). In the end the author takes the "If you don't like it then leave" attitude in order to deflect any further discussion on the topic.
*Sigh* Maybe the first ranter is right, maybe it is hopeless here and this place really is so chock full of greedy criminal pot growers and filled to the brim with mediocrity and a crevice of society that actually wants less law enforcement and fewer laws, that there is no room for community-minded professionals interested in restoring a sense of pride and togetherness to our secluded region. Maybe we're wasting our time here at Humboldt County News and it's all for naught, nobody listens, nobody cares, everyone disagrees, and coherent discussions are nonexistent. Our readers continuously state that they want fewer police, fewer laws, less community involvement, and for everyone who doesn't share their view to just go away.
We heard rumors that this was taking place yesterday, but there just weren't enough details to post here.
Daniel Hawke was arrested by officers with the Humboldt County Drug Task Force assisted by the EPD, CDOJ, and even the FBI, drawing to a close investigations that lasted more than a year.
And Hawke deserved an investigation this big. Word on the street is that he has been operating a very, very large marijuana growing conspiracy for many years. He would essentially buy homes in the area, mostly in Eureka, then rent them for extremely high rates specifically to pot growers, allowing them to "blow it up" in the home without fear of landlord intervention. We even heard that he frequently financed the grow operations, then collected a cut of the proceeds come harvest time (a generous cut, of course).
But Hawke's reputation is not positive among the growers he rents to. We have heard reports of him showing up at rental properties a couple months into the lease and kicking tenants out because he decided to sell the home, even though he guaranteed the tenants enough time and freedom to grow pot in exchange for the super high rents he charges. What's a pot growing tenant to do in that situation? Further, the rumors say he neglects his properties, leaving repairs and upkeep to the tenants who already pay exorbitantly high rents just to grow weed.
Whether or not those rumors are true, one thing is for sure: Hawke is busted as of yesterday, and the Eureka Reporter says there will be even more raids today, no doubt cleaning out the rest of the properties Hawke owns, all of which are likely homes of growers being taken advantage of by this "entrepreneur".
Summary so far:
- 7 locations raided, 4 in Eureka
- "At least" 12 arrests
- One grower called coppers "redneck pigs" while being arrested
- The Loleta location was an apartment complex plus a 2-story building
- More than 30 light systems were confiscated from the Loleta bust
- More to come today!
So for anyone who says pot growers don't contribute to the housing problems we have in Humboldt County, what do you say now? Here we have a blatant marijuana growing conspiracy built upon scores of homes, properties, and even an apartment complex, all purchased with pot money specifically for the purpose of renting to pot growers in order to grow more pot so that more real estate can be bought and rented to more pot growers. Man, talk about poisoning the community... good riddance, Daniel Hawke. We will enjoy reading the reports of your prosecution.
Daniel Taylor, a resident of Chico, the so-called City of Roses, recently traveled the 299 to Eureka and wrote a quick review of the experience on his blog. Unfortunately for Eureka, the review is not too generous, but it definitely strikes a familiar note to anyone who has spent time in Humboldt's county seat.
Taylor understandably complains about Highway 299 and how incredibly dangerous it is, but hey that's not our fault, it's just the way it is if you have to drive through those mountains. Where his write-up gets interesting is when he talks about what happened after he actually arrived in Eureka:
The sad thing about this is that Taylor is right, Eureka is chock full of destructive hobos, aggressive transients, and disturbing curbside litter. Of course, to be fair, Taylor apparently didn't take the time to check out the Carson Mansion or drive on H and I Streets, or maybe C Street north of Wabash. If he had, he would have seen many amazing Victorians, however he also would have seen more than one "dirt caked old man in sweat pants" or drugged up tweeker cruising around C & Wabash. One block down from that intersection he would see the popular criminal hangout unofficially known on the street as the "Stop N' Rob" due to its reputation for being held up on a regular basis.
Yes, Eureka really is a crime-ridden "hell-hole" as the chief of police once said. Our crime rates are sky-high, with twice as many rapes and burglaries per capita than the national average. And Eureka Police Sgt. Steve Watson was quoted in the Times-Standard last year saying "Unfortunately, much of Eureka is on our radar with drug activity," which really just confirms what we already knew.
The streets of Eureka are riddled with spent needles and dangerous criminals. Ever read the Rants and Raves section of Craigslist? People write in with experiences of being burglarized or harassed almost daily. Eureka is the kind of city where nobody leaves their cars or homes unlocked and nearly every home and business proudly displays alarm company warning signs. It's that bad.
So what do we do? How will we ever get control of our crime problem and turn this coastal gem of a city into a safe place to live for families so that our quality of life can increase? Some of our readers have claimed it would be a good idea to eliminate law enforcement, but we fail to understand how that would work to the advantage of public safety. The solution is probably a combination of increased community involvement (like neighborhood watch programs), putting more pressure on the police department to follow up on unsolved crimes, and eliminating illegal for-profit marijuana grows so that those residences can be occupied by tax-paying citizens who care about their neighbors and their community.
The Times-Standard is reporting that a marijuana grow was discovered by the Eureka Police Department yesterday during an arson investigation.
David McCullough was arrested at a residence on the corner of 14th and M Streets when cops and Eureka Fire Department personnel served a search warrant on the property. The TS article says that a "moderate sized" pot garden was discovered inside the residence and was running on shoddy wiring, posing a safety hazard to the public. This is very common, especially in the shady parts of Eureka where tweekers tend to reside. The article says that 450 pot plants were confiscated ranging in height from 6 inches to "over one foot", as well as 4.5 pounds of processed weed.
We are going to call foul on the EPD's estimate of the value of the confiscated marijuana plants. They claim the combined street value would be $270,000, but this is an absolutely ludicrous assertion.
First off, high quality indoor pot goes for no more than $4000 per pound here in Humboldt County. Chances are good that the goons behind this 14th Street grow were lucky if they got even mediocre herb as their final product. Let's be realistic and say they could sell their pounds for $3500 each. So, the 4.5 pounds are worth $15,750 on the local market, $18k at the most (generous assumption). That leaves $252,000 that the cops are saying those 6-inch plants are worth.
Still with us? It would take slightly more than 71 pounds of decent pot at $3500 per pound to give this grow the value that the EPD claims it was worth. Do these guys have any idea what typical indoor marijuana garden yields are? Obviously not.
As we have described before, an indoor pot garden is very lucky to yield one pound per 1000 watts of HID lighting, and no matter how they're doing it, only so many plants can fit under a single lamp. In order to get anywhere near 71 pounds at harvest time, they would need to be running at least 70 lights, and more than likely it would actually require eighty or ninety 1000-watt lights. That's 80 or 90 thousand watts of electricity, which is technically impossible given that the most wattage a residence can actually pull over a PG&E circuit is 48000 watts, and that's only if they have an upgraded 200-amp line and are maxing out both 120V circuits from the utility.
So anyway, we figure the EPD is using some screwed up formula to figure the value of a grow based on the number of plants. Maybe they got some math lessons from the feds recently, who knows. Regardless, for all we know, this grow house had 8000 watts of lighting with 200 plants growing underneath, plus a couple hundred cuttings waiting to be planted for the next grow cycle. Either way, that number ($270,000) is totally made up, and there is no way these arson suspects were even close to harvesting a quarter million dollars worth of pot.
That said, we absolutely applaud the local authorities for shutting down yet another criminal marijuana grow house and eliminating the safety hazard it was posing to the surrounding neighborhood. But please, don't try to tell us these guys were masterminding a million-dollar per year indoor pot growing operation in the middle of Eureka. That 4.5 pounds they had was probably the most weed those guys had ever successfully harvested at one time, and it's likely that the potential value of all those plants was hardly more than $20,000, if they had made it to harvest.
Just when you thought crime and lawlessness in beautiful Humboldt County couldn't be worse, county officials and area law enforcement group Humboldt Deputy Sheriffs Organization were unable to reach an agreement regarding public safety personnel salary and benefit increases yesterday.
Basically the HDSO was holding out for more than the 4% pay increase over the next year offered by the county, but the county ended the negotiations after that offer, and a previous offer, were rejected by the organization.
The HDSO told the Eureka Reporter that all county employees are underpaid, which shouldn't come as a surprise for Humboldt County News readers, as we are constantly pointing out the terrible crime and practical lawlessness that plagues the area. In case you haven't noticed, it's basically a free-for-all here, with burglaries, car theft, and for-profit criminal marijuana production constantly taking place in every neighborhood.
Unfortunately, things will only get worse from here due to many Humboldt County employees, including law enforcement, strongly considering taking positions in other parts of the state. County Personnel Director Rick Haeg told the Reporter that sheriff's deputies could easily take jobs in Santa Rosa for 30 to 40 percent more than what they make here, and Santa Rosa's cost of living is barely higher than Arcata's. In fact, individuals in Santa Rosa tend to have nearly twice as much disposable income than those in Arcata.
Another potential problem that could arise from this lack of salary increase for county personnel is that of corruption. The harder it is for county employees to make ends meet, the more likely we are to run into bribery, embezzlement, and other forms of corruption. When county officials are underpaid, the quality of their work shall soon decline in relation to their disgruntlement. Shoot, the DA is likely to charge local resident Kerri Malloy, owner of recently closed Eureka burger joint Steve's Coney Island, with felony embezzlement after he allegedly forged checks totalling $8,000 from the Arcata Chamber of Commerce's budget. And he's not even a county official, just another business owner with a failing restaurant in Eureka, turning to crime and theft during tough times.
Anyway, crime is already totally out of control in Humboldt County, and it is truly a shame that our officials cannot figure out a way to channel more county funds into law enforcement in order to increase overall quality of life for law-abiding citizens. It's no wonder Humboldt is a mecca for low-life criminal pot growers, meth dealers, and thieves. Who's gonna bust them?
Signatures are currently being collected for a constitutional amendment in the state of California that would fully legalize marijuana for all adults regardless of medical need. Essentially pot would become a regular old controlled substance like tobacco or alcohol.
While the amendment, currently being called The Inalienable Rights Enforcement Initiative, may not actually get the required 694,354 signatures it needs by September 5, 2008 in order to make it onto the November ballot, it might be a big step in the right direction for a state who's incredibly vague medical marijuana laws have turned out to be troublesome and riddled with problems.
Here in Humboldt County, Calfironia's most well-known marijuana producing region, pot growing is totally out of control, and residents are starting to notice the problems associated with irresponsible growers, lack of taxation and regulation, and the all-out exploitation of Proposition 215 which has resulted in widespread greed and lawlessness.
The amendment would allow the state to legalize the sale of marijuana at any store that sells alcohol, and would "establish local boards with expansive powers" to allow for proper regulation and taxation at a local level. The amendment also would require tax revenues to support "specific programs" and would immunize marijuana growers and sellers from liability.
State revenue would be collected in the form of stamp and license sales, much like tobacco. A $5 stamp would be required for the sale of an eighth ounce of pot ($640 for a pound), and a $50 annual license would be required for each marijuana plant grown. 30% of this revenue would wind up back in the localities where the stamps and licenses were sold.
As good as it sounds on the face, this thing probably won't make it to the ballots, and if it does, it certainly won't get the popular vote. Here's why: The amendment would also exempt marijuana profits from income taxes, prohibit advertisements for tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana, and require substantial up-front costs to establish the proper boards and regulations throughout the state.
Basically, the proposal involves too many non-marijuana-related clauses and extra requirements to actually capture the popular vote. Also, why the hell would marijuana profits ever be exempt from income tax? Isn't that already a major problem here in Humboldt County where thousands of growers are greedily raking in untaxed income and giving absolutely nothing back to the community? Isn't that a big piece of the story of recent federal raids on growers throughout Humboldt?
We understand that the author(s) of this initiative are trying to stick it to The Man by specifically stating that no income tax shall be paid on marijuana profits until the government prohibition of marijuana is lifted, but it is still absurd to propose that income from the sale of a substance that is worth as much as $400 per ounce and grows everywhere be exempt from taxation. Get real. The last thing we need is a law encouraging people to grow pot and evade federal taxes.
Read the actual text of the initiative here. Then tell us what you think. Would you vote to have eighths of weed sold alongside tobacco at your neighborhood gas station? Would you pass a law that would legitimize for-profit pot growing and encourage federal income tax evasion? Would you actually expect the same growers who currently do not pay taxes on their profits to shell out $640 for a stamped baggie to put a pound of their homegrown in before selling it to a dealer?