North Coast Journal 04-25-13 Edition
The North Coast Journal of Politics, People & Art is a guide to what’s really happening on the far North Coast of California.
north coast - thursday aprill5, 2013 vol XXIV issue 17 • humboldt county, calif. FREE = ca .. = = = .... ·ca = -= .... .. = = ~ E • Choosing Death A Humboldt man's journey to attend his parents' double suicide en ~ By Josephine Johnson 7 Really? Her voice? C’mon 8 Ulansey’s many hats 19 Look, a new column! 29 Send in the clowns 32 Send in the clones 32 Oh, wow, sort of, I guess 2 North Coast Journal • Thursday, April 25, 2013 • northcoastjournal.com table of 4 Mailbox 4 Poem MAKE SURE TO WEAR PURPLE 32 In Review a book 32 Filmland Tom cruises 7 Media Maven WEATHER OR NOT 32 Seven-o-Heaven cartoon by andrew goff 8 Blog Jammin’ 12 On The Cover CHOOSING DEATH 34 Workshops 36 Field Notes The Most Expensive Lighthouse (Part 2) 16 Home & Garden Service Directory 19 5 Things to Know Before You Despair of Goodness in the World 25 The Hum This is humboldt 26 Music & More! 29 Calendar 37 Sudoku 37 Crossword 38 Marketplace 42 Body, Mind & Spirit 43 Real Estate This Week northcoastjournal.com • North Coast Journal • Thursday, April 25, 2013 3 Will the Arts Survive? cost of a CCC education. Student debt nationwide is a ball-and-chain of over $1 Editor: trillion. “Philanthropic benefactors” offer “Reimagining CR” (April 11) is a lightmillions of dollars, as happened at Santa hearted way of describing the hatchet job Monica, to transfer the curriculum to ongoing down at College of the Redwoods. line classes. Foundations such as Lumina, What is really happening is a hostile Gates and Walmart envision the masses takeover of the 112 Community Colleges being taught in “MOOCs” (Massive Online of California. A unit is now $46, and stuOpen Classes). Education is at the mercy dent fees now pay more than half of the of the market. The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges snoops around look ing for inefficiencies Make sure to wear purple somewhere so they can withdraw accreditation for on your person (it could be hidden) the CCCs. However, lilac budlets on little girl underpants efficiency is not an or red-violet denim Keds with zippers economic concept, it Remember this advice is an ideologic one. In his first State of a butterfly barrette, plastic snap, blue-violet wings the Union address, or a striped plum beanie and knitted scarf in Massachusetts in January George Washington or play with an Indigo dyed jump rope in the driveway in New Jersey emphasized the role a periwinkle dream house for Barbie and Ken (you still of government in education, since it lived in Brooklyn) or that dress with the pale vertical is, “in every country stripes on white the surest basis of 2 lavender ruffles on the hem public happiness” enand a matching kerchief that tied beneath your chin abling the people to “distinguish between oppression and the the dress necessary exercise of you were given to wear in first grade lawful authority.” He said nothing about tailoring it to corpo the way you remembered your Mother rate demands. Music and drama — Stephanie Silvia curricula provide a Make sure to wear purple 4 North Coast Journal • Thursday, April 25, 2013 • northcoastjournal.com Cartoon by joel mielke april 25, 2013 Volume XXiV No. 17 North Coast Journal Inc. community with what is called social capital. Students practice working together cooperatively, strengthening relationships. Studies have shown that populations with social capital are more engaged, better able to defend their own interests and resist oppression. That these programs are being cut at CR does not deserve a meek response. The 34-year veteran teacher whose theatre program is a county institution should not be “thrown under the bus;” it is an outrage which should bring out our pitchforks and broomsticks. Of course, if we’re looking for where the money went, try the bailout, or the $4 trillion-$6 trillion we spent on destroying Iraq and Afghanistan. Ellen Taylor, Petrolia Editor: It’s nice that CR can sometimes provide a means to for us to indulge our avocations and fulfill our artistic expectations. But it would seem that when funds run low, it is time to reestablish the priorities which emphasize CR’s basic mission, that of educating people so that they can participate in our ever more complex economy. Down the road, these same people might even earn enough so that they themselves can afford to take up an instrument and explore their own creative impulses. It wouldn’t seem that the refocusing at CR would diminish our art-rich community which currently overflows with plenty of imaginative people now wandering around outside the box. If they are talented and ambitious enough they might want take their chances in New York, Hollywood or the like where they can become valued successors to those who now dominate the world of imagination and creativity. Don’t think that the changes at CR will affect our supply of valued musicians, actors, writers, etc. But it might just supply us with some economically stable folk who might choose to support those who have chosen the creative life. GT Buckley, Eureka www.northcoastjournal.com ISSN 1099-7571 © Copyright 2013 CIRCULATION VERIFICATION C O U N C I L The North Coast Journal is a weekly newspaper serving Humboldt County. Circulation: 21,000 copies distributed FREE at more than 350 locations. Mail subscriptions: $39 / 52 issues. Single back issues mailed / $2.50. Entire contents of the North Coast Journal are copyrighted. No article may be reprinted without publisher’s written permission. Printed on recycled paper with soy-based ink. Save Moving Sale! SIT... SLEEP... publisher Judy Hodgson firstname.lastname@example.org editor Carrie Peyton Dahlberg email@example.com art director Holly Harvey production manager Carolyn Fernandez staff writer/a&e editor Bob Doran firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com staff writer Heidi Walters firstname.lastname@example.org staff writer Ryan Burns email@example.com staff writer/assistant editor Grant Scott-Goforth firstname.lastname@example.org contributing writers John J. Bennett, Simona Carini, Barry Evans, William S. 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Limited to stock on hand Some Other Isom Editor: Regarding the recent letter titled “Thanks NCJ, Sorry Isom,” (Mailbox, April 4) I would like to state for the record that I, John Isom, currently living in Eureka and previously in Petrolia, have nothing to do with this matter. At all. I have no dealings of any kind with anything called Isom Advisors in Walnut Creek or anywhere in California, nor anything to continued on next page a t l e D Mattress & Sofa Outlet Store “Your Sit & Sleep Specialists” 1631 4TH ST., EUREKA 442-4510 255 To Samoa • Mon.-Sat. Sundays 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Financing Available O.A.C. STORE HOURS R Street northcoastjournal.com • North Coast Journal • Thursday, April 25, 2013 ▼ 4th Street U.S. 101 South 5th Street 5 continued from previous page do with anything called Urban Futures. Geez, I didn’t even know that there is another John (or Jon) Isom in Humboldt, Walnut Creek, or anywhere else in California (though it is true that my eponymous and namesake uncle lives in Portland). Regardless: The H in my name may be silent — and thus confused with Jon T. Isom — but my convictions about funding for quality education, as a teacher and as a citizen, are not. Borrowing for basics means there’s a deeper problem, in our community and across the country. Put differently: We’ve borrowed for a decade of overseas wars and bombs. How about a generation of investment in books and teachers in our own backyard? John E. Isom, Eureka, CA OMG Editor: I was enjoying B. Evans’ latest puzzle (Field Notes, April 11). Let me guess… LOL = “little old lady”; IMHO = “I must have onions” (presumably when you order your Whopper); FYI = “for your information” (that one’s been around awhile!); BFF = “big f******g f**t”. But then he went on to totally flummox me in his last paragraph (WTF?). Shame! Marvin L. Goss, McKinleyville Correction Uh, About that Majority Editor: Re the majority/minority cartoon in your April 4 issue: I thought majorities/minorities were decided by elections, not by Joel Mielke. Susan Dodd, Eureka Last week’s story “On The Waterfront Now” misidentified the source of a $250,000 grant given to local agencies to study sea level rise. It was awarded by the California Coastal Conservancy. The Journal regrets the error. Make your letter no more than 300 words and include your full name, place of residence and phone number (we won’t print it). Send it to email@example.com l Write a letter! 6 North Coast Journal • Thursday, April 25, 2013 • northcoastjournal.com Weather or Not W hen journalism students tell me they want to go into TV News, I think of a friend of mine. When I got my first newspaper job, she her first job as a TV reporter. From there she worked freelance for a station in Los Angeles, then went back to New York and struggled. Finally, after she worked for years for almost no pay, a station in a major market offered her a job as anchor. She turned it down and when to business school. TV is rough. At the low end you struggle for little pay. You compete for jobs against a zillion people dying to be on air. You schlep heavy equipment and edit your own tape. Don’t get me going about the types of inane stories you file day after day. But that’s not what drove my friend out of TV. It was the guff she took over her hair. It wasn’t fluffy. That’s what her producers cared about, seemingly from station to station, coast to coast. She’d fluff it up and it still wasn’t fluffy enough. She’d turn in kick-ass coverage of breaking news, or short investigative reports, or tearsproducing profiles, and all they seemed to care about was the flatness of her hair. It finally drove a terrific news reporter out of the business. I thought about her when I read the letters the Times-Standard has been printing lately about KIEM-TV meteorologist Cecilia Reeves. Some 13 readers so far have weighed in on the quality of her voice, most complaining, some in support. Thirteen letters to the T-S qualifies as a barrage. There’s an old joke that some people have faces for radio. I joke that I have a voice for print. In second grade I got pulled out of class for speech therapy — I couldn’t differentiate my d’s and g’s, and I still have that trouble. My husband complains that I mumble. (I say, “Old man, get a hearing aid!”) I didn’t go into newspapers because of my lousy voice. I went into print because I could write. Now and then I help out radio station KHSU as an interview host for its show Thursday Night Talk. I do that in spite of my voice — what’s important is that I can ask interesting questions that produce interesting answers. For some reason, we like to make fun of weather people. One of the funniest books I read was Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man by Fannie Flag. In it, the main character gets a job as a weather person at a tiny station, but she doesn’t know anything about weather. She guesses that the weather report doesn’t change much from morning to night, so each afternoon she takes the morning map and moves the sun and clouds a fraction. She gets fired. The morning girl had been doing the same thing. My favorite movie weatherman was Steve Martin in L.A. Story. He gets fired because after years of reporting the exact same sunny weather, he pre-tapes his weather report so he can take off for a week. While he’s away, a hurricane hits town. Why do we make fun of weather people? Maybe out of jealousy. Doesn’t it seem like they make a lot of money for an easy job? How hard can it be to read the weather report? And how often are they wrong? Here is the thing. In New York, Los Angeles or Chicago, a chief meteorologist could make almost a million a year, but in the small markets they are lucky to make $20,000. To get those jobs they have to take all the science classes in college that most people avoid (I slept through high school physics). Most TV meteorologists have master’s degrees. As does Reeves. Reeves had the unlucky fortune to take over from Jim Bernard, who not only was much loved, but who left his longtime position last year because a neurological condition affected his speech. So viewers were already a little too focused on voice quality when Reeves entered the picture. I empathize with Reeves for another reason. As a financial journalist, there were times when I was the only woman in the newsroom and often the only woman in a conference room of suits. To get equal respect I had to be three times as good, and often I still didn’t get equal respect. It is difficult for a young woman to get respect when she takes over a job from an established older man in a maledominated field. This is truest in the TV news world, and it isn’t because of male audiences. Female audiences seem just as harsh on women newspeople. I’ve felt there were two really frustrating types of bosses — men who spout feminism and act in chauvinistic ways and women who act in male chauvinistic ways. Both male and female TV audiences fall into chauvinistic behaviors. We accept bald men in leading roles — Vin Diesel, Jason Statham, Bruce Willis— and overweight men in leading roles — Jack Black, Jonah Hill, Kevin James. Personality flaws, not hair loss, are costing Today Show host Matt Lauer his Q rating points (popularity scale for TV people). Legendary San Francisco news anchor Dave McElhatton, who died last year, was bald and talked like Elmer Fudd. But female stars and news people have to look and sound great. Bob Dylan sang you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. But maybe the weather woman needs the wind to blow her hair around if she wants to keep her job. So Cecilia, your audience will get used to your voice. But your hair? Better fluff it up. – Marcy Burstiner firstname.lastname@example.org Marcy Burstiner is chair of the journalism department at Humboldt State University. She has never been able to control her hair. And that is the only reason she has never won the Pulitzer Prize. northcoastjournal.com • North Coast Journal • Thursday, April 25, 2013 7 Blog Jammin’ COURTS, GOVERNMENT / BY GRANT SCOTT-GOFORTH / APRIL 22, 3:40 P.M. HumCo v. HumCPR Humboldt County and Lee Ulansey — the recently appointed county planning commissioner and former director of the Humboldt Coalition for Property Rights — will argue a public records case before a judge this week. With the help of Eureka attorney Allison Jackson, Ulansey has been asking the county for legal expense records for more than a year, calling for county transparency. The records in question detail how much money the county has spent defending and prosecuting several lawsuits — most prominently the county’s suit against Bob McKee and more than 30 others over subdividing the Tooby Ranch property near Garberville. The county has spent more than $3 million on that particular legal battle, alleging that McKee accepted generous tax breaks in exchange for a promise not to develop his land — then broke that promise. A Humboldt County judge is considering issuing a penalty for McKee’s actions in the next few months. Ulansey ﬁrst submitted a public records Naturopathic Medicine - Helping You Be Well Naturally Bringing a Natural Medicine Approach to both Primary Care and Consultation In Association with Dr. Beverly Copeland, MD DR. CHERE EDGAR, ND 1727 Central Ave, McKinleyville, CA (707) 840-0556 Now Accepting New Patients www.drchereedgar.com Naturopathic Doctor Treating the Underlying Causes of Illness * Optimize Health * Nutritional Counseling * Food Sensitivities * Botanical Medicine request at the end of 2011, asking the county to turn over the payment information for attorneys who were working on those cases. The county said no, arguing that details of an attorney’s on-the-clock activities are protected by attorney-client privilege. It resisted until a state appellate court ruled in a similar case that the time and dollar amount spent on an attorney would not reveal that attorney’s legal strategy. The state Supreme Court chose not to weigh in on the matter, effectively upholding the appellate court’s decision. Humboldt County relented, producing ﬁles that it said fulﬁlled the original public request HumCPR made back in 2011. But that wasn’t the end. Jackson and Ulansey said the records weren’t sufﬁcient — they wanted to know how much time the county’s in-house attorneys spent working on the lawsuits. The county countered that those records don’t exist, and that besides, Ulansey and Jackson didn’t pick up the ﬁrst batch of records before telling the court they were insufﬁcient. Since then, Jackson and Ulansey have looked over the files. The county’s redactions went too far, they said, removing details about where visiting 8 NORTH COAST JOURNAL • THURSDAY, APRIL 25, 2013 • northcoastjournal.com attorneys stayed and ate. They argued that attorney’s time sheets — some of which bill by the tenth of an hour — should not have been redacted when they simply said the attorney was writing a letter, for example. The content of such a letter, they said, is the only information that should be protected by attorney-client privilege. With the two sides unable to reach an agreement, the matter continued today in court with freshly hired attorney Bill Bragg helping the county. The county was looking for a “fresh set of eyes,” Bragg said following today’s hearing. He said he’ll talk with Jackson about a resolution this week, but he expects the two parties will present their arguments before a judge Friday. Jackson called it “ironic” that the county hired outside counsel in a case about the price of hiring outside counsel. Neither she nor Ulansey would comment further on the case. ● BUSINESS, GOVERNMENT / BY RYAN BURNS / APRIL 22, 4:11 P.M. marketing campaign known as Humboldt Made. Here’s the key bit: As part of its effort to let the world know that there’s more to Humboldt than weed, the county’s economic development division is working with local artisans, food makers, farmers and ranchers to position Humboldt products in the market as upscale, health conscious and earth friendly. The effort represents the county’s ﬁrst foray into marketing via Facebook and YouTube. (Another series of YouTube vids is now in production.) Since we wrote about it in 2009 and 2010 the campaign has enlisted new businesses (there are more than 60 involved now) and new techniques, including a smartphone app and local-item expenditure tallies on grocery store receipts. What the Chron story doesn’t mention is that the county is currently looking to hand off management of the campaign to another organization. Last month, Humboldt County Economic Development Coordinator Jacqueline Debets announced that “it’s time for Humboldt continued on next page Katherine Almy Solutions for Small Business Bookkeeping service and consultation. Problem solving and support for QuickBooks and alternative accounting software. Call for a quote on my full payroll service including: • payroll computation • payroll tax deposits and reports • free direct deposit email@example.com www.katherinealmy.com 707-267-8759 BUY 3 & GET THE 4TH FREE! Mix and Match regular $799 each offer ends 4/30/13 www.millerfarmsnursery.com1828 Central Ave. McKinleyville 839-1571 x5 Mon-Sat 8:30-5:30, Sun 10:00-4:00 (Nursery Only) The Humboldt Brand Evolves Did you read yesterday’s San Francisco Chronicle? It’s got a write-up on the local northcoastjournal.com • NORTH COAST JOURNAL • THURSDAY, APRIL 25, 2013 9 continued from previous page Blog Jammin’ a false alarm triggered by a bogus Facebook post. The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office announced this afternoon that a search of CR’s main Eureka campus has been completed by a law enforcement super-team that included the FBI, Eureka Police, Humboldt County Drug Task Force, Humboldt State University police, College of Redwoods security, Humboldt Bay Fire District, Cal Fire and CR administrative staff. No bomb. The threat originated on Facebook. According to CR spokesman Paul DeMark, a bomb threat was posted on a student’s Facebook page last night, and when a friend asked the guy about it he responded, “This is not my page.” The student figured that someone had set up a bogus page in his name and then posted the threat, so he immediately called the sheriff’s office, DeMark said. The college’s information technology staff is trying to trace the origin of the message with help from the FBI, according to DeMark. The 135 or so students who live on campus were evacuated on buses supplied by Humboldt Transit Authority and taken to an undisclosed Eureka City Schools gymnasium. HSU is supplying the students with food, DeMark said. “We are anticipating having classes tomorrow,” he added. l Frivolity / By Heidi Walters / April 17, 4:46 p.m. Made to fledge from the County nest to a new host organization that can support it’s growth potential.” The deadline to express interest was last Monday. l seal pup in arcata. Photo by Bob Doran Environment / By Bob Doran / April 23, 12:30 p.m. Marsh Seal This seal pup was spotted at the end of the pier at the Arcata March on Sunday and reported to folks who monitor wildlife. Marsh visitors were being advised to leave the animal alone, and not harass it or try to “rescue” it. l Crime / By Ryan Burns / April 18, 2:04 p.m. (plus later updates) CONTEST! Water bottles Check Canned foods can opener pot to cook in Check. Still ain’t ready. Come on, readers, you know you can do better than that tripe, up top. Here’s the gig: It’s National Poetry Month. In a lot of states, including California, it’s Earthquake Preparedness Month. It’s also Wednesday afternoon and there’s been news, yes, but it’s time for a break — a rhythmic brain quake — so combine these dutiful celebratory themes and write yourself an earthquake poem. Or an earthquake preparedness poem. Maybe it’s sad. Maybe silly. Doesn’t have to rhyme but if it does that’s dilly. Hit it. Post one for us online, in the comments space on our website – but don’t include any URLs please. It’s a spam thing. (What do you win? Jeers and accolades! Perhaps, even, smugness.) l Bomb Scare Closes CR College of the Redwoods’ main Eureka campus has been closed today due to a bomb scare. All students, staff and faculty are being told to stay away. The school’s public information officer, Paul DeMark, posted the following message on CR’s Facebook page this morning: College of the Redwoods’ main Eureka campus will be closed for classes, day and evening, on Thursday, April 18 due to a threat to campus security. All residence hall students have been relocated to a safe location. College personnel are working with the Humboldt County Sheriff”s Department to ensure a safe campus. Students and staff will not be allowed on campus today. An upate will follow as soon as possible. The bomb scare turned out to be 10 North Coast Journal • Thursday, April 25, 2013 • northcoastjournal.com Crime / By Grant Scott-Goforth / April 17, 4:17 p.m. Serial Suddenlink Snipper Strikes Again Suddenlink reports, once again, a vandal cut off Internet, phone and cable service for 10,000 customers in Arcata, McKinleyville, Trinidad and Big Lagoon overnight. The company recently doubled a reward — to $10,000 — for information leading to an arrest and conviction of the serial cable-cutter, and hired the private investigation services of Eureka’s Cook & Associates. Repairs are expected by this evening. The Sheriff’s Office press release said in part: On 4-17-2013, approximately 4:15 a.m. the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office was notified of another vandalism to Suddenlink’s Fiber Optic Cable that had occurred in the area of Lorenz Lane and Old Arcata Road, Bayside. The damaged cable was cut. The unknown suspect(s) used a culvert pipe to stand on to allow them access to the elevated cable. The suspect(s) are believed to have used a cutting instrument to cut the line. … To date there have been five vandalisms to Suddenlinks Fiber Optic Cables. Total estimated damage by Suddenlink to repair the lines is now estimated to be at least $75,000. l Cops, Eureka / By Grant Scott-Goforth / April 17, 2:46 p.m. time of the Cotton incident — was ordered to pay Cotton’s family $30,000. The jury also found the city of Eureka liable for $4.5 million. Neither DA Investigator Mike Hislop nor Harpham offered details of the event — or a date, though Harpham said it occurred more than a month ago — that led to Laird’s arrest today. There are no other officers being investigated, according to the chief. The 30-year-old sergeant is on paid leave until the department finishes its internal investigation. Laird posted $50,000 bail and was out of custody by this afternoon. He is scheduled to be arraigned in May. l Marijuana / By Ryan Burns / April 16, 3:30 p.m. www.northcoastjournal.com/blogthing CENTER FOR WOMEN’S HEALTH CARE We understand your personal needs and provide care for every phase of a woman’s life. Pot Farmers’ Market Lights Up in NorCal Eureka Police Sergeant Arrested for Assault Eureka Police Sgt. Adam Adam Laird Laird was arrested this morning by investigators from the District Attorney’s office on suspicion of assault while on duty and falsifying a police report. Eureka Police Chief Murl Harpham gathered the media in a brief press conference this afternoon to announce Laird’s arrest, which followed a joint investigation between his department and the DA’s office. Harpham said the investigation was spurred by a report from a fellow police officer and called the partnership with the DA necessary for “complete transparency.” “We will not tolerate misconduct by any of our officers,” Harpham said. In 2011, Laird was found liable for damages for using unreasonable/excessive force in the death of Martin Cotton, who died in his jail cell following an altercation with EPD in 2007. Laird — an officer at the How did Humboldt County get beat to the punch on this one? (Insert lazy stoner joke here, if you must.) According to a story from the quarterly magazine Modern Farmer, Northern California’s first marijuana farmers’ market is being run from a big purple warehouse outside the City of Sonoma. And the venue is helping to spark “a new demand for pot grown locally, sustainably, in small batches, outdoors, and rather cheaply,” the story says. Such markets are legal in the state (with proper documentation) but still verboten by the feds, whose ostrich stance on the issue is looking sillier by the day. Reporter David Downs describes the Sonoma scene, which includes such familiar Humboldt tropes as old school reggae, “plaid-clad stoners” and “an elderly hippie couple” selling pot-laced hard candy. On the day that Downs visited the market, the star vendor was a man in his late 50s offering potent buds “as thick as a child’s arm.” And wouldn’t you know it? “The grower won’t give his name, but says he works outdoors in the Humboldt hills … .” l Read full posts and see photos at 442-9664 | 442-9665 | 2440 23rd St., Eureka Dr. Cherrie Andersen northcoastjournal.com • North Coast Journal • Thursday, April 25, 2013 11 I Reg and Betty Dawson married in 1946 and celebrated more than 60 wedding anniversaries before they died, side by side, in the fall of 2012. Dawson family photo A Humboldt man’s journey to attend his parents’ double suicide By Josephine Johnson Choosing Death n early September 2011, Dominic Dawson, a lean and soft-spoken delivery driver who lives in Manila, received an email from his ailing father in Wales. “I’m ready to go to Switzerland, October 2012,” Reg Dawson wrote his son. “What do you think?” Dominic was sitting at his desk in a secondstory cupola peering over Humboldt Bay. From here, he could often see small flocks of dowitchers erupting from the shore, shimmering in the morning haze. He knew that “Switzerland” meant his father hoped to die at a Zurich apartment where an organization called Dignitas helps people commit suicide legally. Diffuse sunlight seeped through the old Victorian’s window. Outside, shore birds pecked in the mud, shifting and turning in unison. Dominic cradled his coffee mug. He was surprised, but not shocked. His father, in his late 80s and struggling with Parkinson’s disease. was losing the ability to walk unassisted, sit upright and feed himself. About a year before, Reg had begun talking about Dignitas with his wife and his daughter, Teresa Schwanauer. When Teresa filled Dominic in, she’d confided that she didn’t think their father would go through with it. Now Reg was sounding more certain. And Dominic felt oddly comforted that his father had reached out to him, after a long estrangement that had lessened only gradually, as they both grew older. He read the email again, and before the morning faded, forwarded it to Tina George, his partner of 10 years, who lives in Arcata. That night they talked logistics: Reg wanted the whole family to gather beforehand in England, to celebrate his life — and not to mourn. Dominic had no qualms about the suicide itself. He had long believed people have a right to die when and how they choose. So mostly, he and Tina talked about arranging the trip and whether she should come along. The next morning, though, Dominic struggled for words to put into his email reply. What do you say to your own father when he announces his plans for passing? How do you sound supportive but not cold, or worse, eager? Dominic wrote, finally, that he didn’t know quite what to say. To which Reg replied, “That is perfectly normal and understandable.” ered ties with his parents in 1968, moving out of the family home in London when he was 16 years old. He and his parents just didn’t think the same way. He was embracing the freedom-loving ethos of the 1960s — equal rights, anti-war, Eastern mysticism — while his parents remained politically and socially conservative. He moved in with friends and took temporary jobs that were easy to find in London then: a clerk, a messenger, whatever kept him free from his parents’ rules. After a couple of years he craved more adventure and traveled overland to India. He met and stayed with royalty in Bangladesh, and he lived for six months in Calcutta, working for an international relief organization. Then he bounced around some more — traveling in the Middle East, then over to the United States, settling in the early 1970s in Santa Cruz, where he got married and had his first daughter. In 1979 he arrived in Humboldt. To make it on the North Coast, he worked odd jobs and did lots of manual labor. He backpacked all over the Trinity Alps. He had a second daughter, in another relationship. Rooted in Humboldt, held by its natural beauty, Dominic has lived in the same Manila neighborhood since 1985. The family ties with his parents reknit, but slowly. He would see them now and then, when they made trips to America. In 1996, the whole family gathered in England for his parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. Not long after, he and his father began corresponding again. When the email about Switzerland came, Dominic was 60, with a 2-year-old grandson of his own. Gray-haired, blue-eyed and fit, he was semi-retired, running a delivery service, taking rafting trips with Tina. Now there was this — and before it was over, both his parents would make fateful decisions. as in many other states and many nations, helping or encouraging someone to commit suicide is a crime. The law stands even as public opinion has been shifting. In a 2006 Pew Research poll, 60 percent of those polled nationwide thought that people in great pain with no hope of improvement had a right to die. And 53 percent said people with an incurable disease had a right to choose death. The idea appalls some advocates for the elderly and for people with disabilities. They worry about pressure from relatives who are crumbling under the stress of care, or who want to preserve family assets. Some religious groups, including the Roman Catholic Church, orthodox Judaism and many evangelical Protestant denominations, consider suicide or helping with suicide a sin. Opponents warn that opening the door to legal assisted suicides could eventually lead to encouraging death for people deemed undesirable, people whose lives are In California, Dominic Dawson had sev- 12 North Coast Journal • Thursday, April 25, 2013 • northcoastjournal.com Reg Dawson and Betty Johnson in 1944. Dawson family photo CAP’N ZACH’S CRAB HOUSE AND OPEN 365 DAYS Dignitas, founded in 1998, are among the best-known. Dignitas, which was featured in a 2012 Frontline documentary, is the only Swiss organization to accept foreigners. In the years since Dignitas’ founding, the Swiss Supreme Court has expanded the law even more, ruling in 2006 that chronically depressed and mentally ill people have a right to assisted suicide. Today, Swiss law allows people with a range of non-terminal and progressive ailments to apply — and if approved — to choose to die. Not all Swiss are on board with this right-to-die, death-with-dignity mission. Opponents In 2011, the Evangelical People’s Party of Switzerlooked at as somehow less warn that land and the Swiss Federal worthy or less worthwhile legal assisted Democratic Union lobthan the lives of others. bied heavily for a citywide But amid those warnings, suicides could referendum in Zurich over many religious, civil rights eventually lead the practice. The May and patient rights groups 2011 ballot measure asked champion the idea that to encouraging residents whether assisted people have a right to die, death for suicide should be banned and that helping should be altogether and whether