Wilson for Bay, Silvernale and Toste for NHUHSD

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

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I’m not doing official big-time newspaper endorsements in the November election because I haven’t surveyed the staff and can’t offer a consensus view on any of the races. So the following unhinged diatribes are all my own so-called thoughts.

Humboldt Bay District

The Bay District race is one of the most difficult for its embarrassment of riches – and for me, a wrenching choice that causes classic cognitive dissonance – conflict between head and heart.

Head wins, and I’m voting for Mike Wilson. His goals are simply the most realistic and attainable. Reinventing the bay as the natural wonderland it once was and can again be is consistent with the philosophy that spawned the Marsh, which has been a boon for Arcata and which was resisted at the time of its founding by some of the same people who are now backing Dan Hauser.

I just came back from a Bay Area visit. While I was there I biked the Iron Horse Trail, a former rail line that goes from Walnut Creek to Dublin. At any given time, hundreds of people are using this easement for recreation and transportation, and it delivers them to innumerable businesses and residential areas along the way.

Contra Costa County is not the most liberal area, especially in well-to-do enclaves like Danville. But the residents would never surrender this treasure of a trail. And once we have ours, neither will we, just like the Marsh.

Industrialization of the bay ended for a reason –there’s no economic justification for that model any more. In the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation & Conservation District’s Third Division, there’s no real buy-in for it, either. And the North Coast Railroad Authority inspires near-zero confidence.

The time will come when we restore the rail line to points elsewhere. When we can use a railroad or a shipping port, we will build them. It might be during the next energy crisis, but probably during the one after that, when we go to war with China over whatever oil is left, that we realize how useful and efficient a healthy railroad line can be. In the present political climate, it is supremely uncool to acknowledge rail as alternative transportation. That will change.

At this point though, as appealing as the picture may be of a bustling port with lots of gainfully employed workers, those facilities just wouldn’t serve any identifiable purpose for some time to come. We aren’t going to park our autos and ride in train cars and we don’t have logs to put on them any more. Building that stuff now would see it disused and deteriorated again by the time petrocollapse finally forces our hand anyway.

The local “progressive” contingent has not let this election slip by without again acting like the worst sort of Atwater Republicans. One labeled Hauser a “minion” of his backers. Right – he got his way opposing those people when they were domainant and it was really, really hard. For his final act he’s going to kow-tow to these people? Apparently it isn’t possible that he just holds a different vision. There just has to be something corrupt about anyone who strays from the doctrine.  Someday a shiny new politician will come along who’s even eco-groovier than Mike Wilson. Look out, Mike – when that happens, the current crop of microbrew-swilling party-time enviro-buddies you think are your friends right now will turn on you with blinding speed, making you out as a “minion” and worse.  Case in point: with the usual courageous and highly principled anonymity, the Humboldt Herald’s “Heraldo” mocked the “greenwashing” of Hauser. Here’s a man without whom the freeway from Eureka to Arcata would now be lined with a run-down motel, shopping center, apartment blocks and mobile home park, while our sewage would be processed by a giant, stupid, energy-sucking treatment plant in Manila, with pipelines full of poop running all over the landscape. Stewart Park would be a common-wall subdivison, and Sunny Brae would have all kinds of costly drainage, erosion and other infrastructure problems from the cheesy subdivison the Strombergs wanted to build up in the Grotzman Creek watershed. And then there’s that little old thing called the Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary. Dan has done more in his life for the environment than any 50 of us could ever hope to accomplish, and yet an Internet doofus who doesn’t know anything about ATOPAK or much else because she foregoes original research in favor of regurgitating received opinion, marginalizes him as an environmental non-achiever in need of “greenwashing.” Only in blogland.

One of Hauser’s old allies who has signed on to the Wilson side said that it’s an “awkward” situation, but nothing personal. No doubt. Probably as awkward as all those cowboy-hatted Repubs feel in backing their ancient nemesis – the Mike Wilson of his day, Mr. Hauser.

Another irony is how the Arcata branch of Operating Engineers opposes Hauser for, among other things, standing up to their union during contract negotiations. And now they’re steamed because the same union gave them the shaft in endorsing Hauser despite their near-unanimous rejection of him.

Note to the 60 or so Arcata OE3 members: your union obviously doesn’t represent you, but rather the four people – only one of whom even lives in Division 3 – who overrode your democratically expressed will. Keep paying those dues, folks.

The union spokesman – a member of the Political Action Committee that countered your decision – even had the condescension to say that his judgment as to what’s best for you and your family is better than your own. And you disapprove of Dan Hauser for protecting Arcata from the vagaries of this goofy outfit? Paradox alert!


I’m voting for Dana Silvernale and Sarie Toste for NHUHSD board.

For some reason – voter neglect? – that board has traditionally been an uncharacteristic right-wing bastion. Like any monoculture, it has made poor decisions. Kathy Marshall and Shane Brinton ameliorated the NHUHSD board’s stagnant culture for a while, then moved on.

Dana will bring classroom reality to the high schools’ ruling body. It needs someone who is in constant contact with students, has god ideas and who understands the ground truth of education today. (Wes Chesbro just endorsed Dana, if that matters.)

Sarie is always the adult in the room – any room she’s in. When staff or her colleagues either drop the ball or go off on a tangent, this supremely competent executive will effortlessly guide them back into sensible action.

A paragon of grace, charm, institutional memory and rare wisdom, Sarie Toste may be the best candidate running for anything this time around.

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