Luke, AMS, Attorney, City, Businesses Mix It Up Over OysterFence
Kevin L. Hoover
PLAZA – Luke Patterson, owner of Luke’s Joint, is spearheading a last-minute drive to prevent Arcata Main Street (AMS) from fencing off the Plaza for this Saturday’s Arcata Bay Oyster Festival. Late this afternoon, though, it appeared Patterson was modifying his demands.
This afternoon, AMS received an e-mail message from Chris Johnson Hamer warning that she and her client, Luke’s Joint, will be applying for a temporary restraining order (TRO) on Friday. This is the message, from which e-mail addresses and phone numbers have been removed:
“From: Chris Hamer
Hamer made clear that the letter doesn’t claim all of the cited businesses are supporters of the restraining order demand, but simply notes that they will be affected by the fencing off of the Plaza.
She said the TRO is necessary as a legal adjunct to the filing of a lawsuit, which she and her client, Luke’s Joint, may proceed with but wish to avert.
“We’re attempting to work it out,” Hamer said, with AMS and the City of Arcata.
Some of the businesses cited in the letter support the TRO action, some don’t.
“I’m good with that,” said Brenda Williams, owner of Delilah’s Hair Salon on G Street, which would be enclosed within the fence surrounding the Plaza. “I don’t like having my town closed off from having commerce. It should be open for everyone.”
“I hope the best for them, but I don’t like the way they are closing off the Plaza from businesses,” said Steve Lovett, owner of People’s Records. “It’s a fundraiser, but at whose expense?”
Lovett, whose store would be outside the fence but only accessible via a narrow sidewalk corridor between the fence and his shop, said that despite AMS President David Neyra’s publicly stated claim that he’s visited all affected Plaza businesses at least twice, said that “I never saw him.”
“The whole thing is just bonkers,” said Lennie Daggett, owner of Fabric Temptations of the Plaza fencing plan. “It should not be. It’s so wrong.”
Though her store would be outside the fence, she said Fabric Temptations would be negatively impacted by the change in downtown traffic circulation. “We are definitely affected and the powers that be forget that.”
“Move it to the Community Center, where people can be free,” Daggett suggested, echoing the opinion of many fence skeptics.
Mary Lou Bertolini, owner of the Art Center on H Street, which would be enclosed within the fence, said she was “not thrilled,” with the fence concept. She said the Art Center will be closed during the event, as it is during other Plaza events such as the Fourth of July Jubilee. She hadn’t been aware of the letter from Hamer, though.
Simeon Tauber, co-owner of Simply Macintosh, was shocked to hear that his business had been mentioned in the letter. “I am no party to that,” he insisted. He said he had signed a petition opposing the fence in principle, but that “I didn’t assign anyone to represent me.”
Characterizing Patterson’s anti-fence drive as a “fatwa,” Tauber described Patterson as “acting like a ranting little child.” Said Tauber, “I fully intend to keep my agreement with MS [Main Street].”
All Under Heaven owner Gail Rossi was not available for comment. The import shop, located next to People’s Records, would be outside the Plaza fence, which begins at the west end of All Under Heaven, where Willow and Rags begins. That shop, a clothing store, will be within the OysterFest fence.
Patterson was angry about the letter from his attorney. “I did not authorize or ask for those names to be used,” he said of Hamer’s letter. “I don’t even know where she got those names.”
“Luke asserts that the letter sent to MS was done without his knowledge,” Tauber said. “I do not find that to be a credible comment.”
Patterson said he had changed his mind on two counts: he plans to keep Luke’s Joint open during the event “as a case study, to mine data.” He had previously stated that it would be closed.
Also, he said, he would not pursue the TRO on the condition that AMS work out some means by which patrons could access his restaurant during the OysterFest, such as a free “validation” system.
Yesterday, prior to today’s e-mail message from his attorney, Patterson had personally delivered some other materials to AMS Director Jennifer Koopman – a greeting card, a postcard and a thick packet of internal AMS documents, including financial statements and e-mail messages he said he obtained from an undisclosed former AMS boardmember .
The greeting card depicts a rat in an overcoat exposing itself like a flasher, displaying a sign that says, “VERMIN LIKE SEX TOO.” Inside, Patterson has written “…but nonconsensual sex is called something else…”
The postcard is one put out by the Onion satire magazine, and depicts a crying child who has used “Nothing But Tears” shampoo. On the back, Patterson has written, “‘always forgive your enemies – nothing annoys them so much.’ – Oscar Wilde. i forgive you.”
Patterson said the cards are “just a reference to my tax dollars. The cards are not a reference to anything to do with the fence. It’s an entirely separate issue.”
He noted that the City of Arcata provides AMS with a subsidy – some $18,000 annually for the last two years, according to a detailed North Coast Journal report on AMS and OysterFest finances headlined “Oysters, Beer and Cash,” written by Grant Scott-Goforth.
Patterson said that he doesn’t regard Koopman as his personal enemy, but rather, “She is the enemy of the taxpayer, it could be argued.”
As for the “i forgive you” message, Patterson said, “I forgave her. That’s what I meant by that.”
Asked how he might feel if he was a professional woman on the receiving end of a card bearing a cryptic message about “nonconsensual sex” – rape, in other words – Patterson said, “I can make a joke.”
Koopman reported the cards to Arcata Police for documentation. Police Chief Tom Chapman discussed the matter with her at AMS’s Jacoby’s Storehouse office this afternoon. Chapman could not immediately be reached for comment.
Patterson suggested that the AMS financial data he had received, and had distributed to a number of individuals, contained questionable information.
“I’m interested in what a CPA says about those statements,” he said. But he said, he hadn’t yet hired a CPA to look the material over.
He said he had had a pleasant meeting with Acting City Manager Mark Andre this afternoon. Details aren’t known, as Andre didn’t immediately return a message.
This afternoon, Patterson posted a template for a proposed customer validation system online. The Draft text reads as follows:
“Oyster Festival, June 15, 2013
Arcata Main Street
MERCHANT VALIDATION FORM
I hereby represent that I am entering the Oyster Festival only for the purpose of visiting the business circled below, which is accessible only by entering the Oyster Festival because other access is blocked by fencing. I will leave the Festival promptly after visiting the business or will pay the entry fee. I understand that I must pay the Oyster Festival entry fee on leaving the Festival if the Business stamp or signature does not appear on this form.
The stamp or signature of the Business is set forth below:
Business Stamp or Signature
Eligible businesses: (insert any/all effected business names here).”
“I was born a fighter,” Patterson said. “I fight for what I believe is right.”