Recent Letters To The Editor

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Defoliation destruction

Nine hundred kids removing vegetation from the South-Spit?

What is going on?  In Manila, our primary dune has blown-out and our Coastal Act marshes are now threatened with salt-water intrusion.  Why do we ignore and not talk of the impending disaster to our marshlands or our now out of control erosion problems? Instead we get more of the same.

I was on Manila’s BOD’s when this so called restoration was put-forth, if I had been aware that we would be dealing with such dishonesty, erosion, loss of wildlife and wetland, I never would have signed-on.

What we see can not be construed as restoration, it completely overlooks hydrology, land-form and crust.  What we are seeing is a cruel and senseless eradication, short-sighted, myopic and wholly destructive.

Maybe someone will ask our Manager Chris Drop, why he is ignoring our Neg Dec that our Attorney Richard Platz made clear to him he was to follow and find out who will be liable for the massive damages.

Better yet, John Woolley, whose name is all over this, might have a word to enlighten us?

It looks like environmental fraud from here.

Beautiful day,

Dan Edrich

Manila

 

HLA kicking in

Early in the formation of the Humboldt County Tourism Business Improvement District the steering committee (later to become the Humboldt Lodging Alliance or HLA) determined that 25 percent of revenues from the district assessment would be made available to community businesses and organizations for projects that promote tourism in Humboldt County.

The Humboldt Lodging Alliance wants to build strong community partnerships and foster countywide cooperation and innovation. If you have an idea for a project, event or activity that will generate overnight stays—or if you would like so seek support for something you’re already doing—you are encouraged to apply to the HLA Community Tourism Fund!”

Humboldt Lodging Alliance, the newest funding organization in Humboldt County, has financial resources for the purpose of growing the tourism industry.

For the next five years, the Humboldt County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) will manage the Humboldt Lodging Alliance (HLA).

Local hoteliers have assessed themselves an additional two percent over the normal Transit Occupancy Taxes (TOT) in order to put more “heads in the beds.”  The goal is to create visitor-attracting events in the shoulder seasons of the year, in other words, not the summer.

HLA will collect close to one million dollars a year.  Arcata, Blue Lake, Eureka, Fortuna, Ferndale, Rio Dell, Trinidad and the County have 25 percent of those locally collected funds to be distributed by their jurisdiction’s hoteliers.

Even though this a summer activity, HLA Arcata hoteliers felt it is important to have the California Welcome Center/Arcata Chamber of Commerce “Open on Sundays” to welcome visitors coming from the north, east and south and to offer the best Humboldt County experience possible.  Humboldt County’s California Welcome Center is one of 19 in the State of California.

HLA Arcata hoteliers believe up-to-date technology is crucial in the contemporary tourism industry and reimbursed the California Welcome Center/Arcata Chamber of Commerce for new computers.  HLA Arcata hoteliers want the growing number of tech-savvy tourists to have the best of experiences as they plan their Humboldt County visits.

HLA Arcata is the first of the local jurisdictions to request the HLA 25 percent allocation to support Humboldt’s tourism industry.  For more information about the Humboldt Lodging Alliance and who manages the funds in your jurisdiction, call (707) 443-5097.

Diane Cutshall, Shailesh Patel, 

Alex Stillman

Arcata

 

AIGC thanks sponsors

The Arcata Interfaith Gospel Choir had a successful and sold out first concert at the Arkley Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, May 4.

We would especially like to thank all our Kickstarter donors who contributed so generously to our fundraising campaign.

We would also like to thank our Sponsors: Wildberries Marketplace, KIEM News Channel 3, the Arkley Center Cultural Growth Fund, Mahalo Video – Benjamin Bettenhausen, Earl Thomas, Moonstone Crossing Winery, Blue Lake Winery, Cabot Vineyards Organic Winery, Mad River Brewing Company, Beck’s Bakery, Nona Lena’s, Los Bagels, Arise Gluten Free Bakery, Ramone’s Bakery & Café, Sun Valley Floral Farms, Kalos Salon and Earth Care Landscaping.

We are grateful and blessed to live in this Community!

Jim Hubbard, Louis Hoiland, Halimah Collingwood and

Lezley Troxell for AIGC

Arcata

 

A Cry of Hope

In Memory of our Lost Children

        Cry of Hope, May 21, 2013

The Bay is platinum, Manila still.

As the sun sinks and simmers,

Behind those hills.

An Eagle cries and Babies are fed.

An inspiration of color,

Gently beamed – above my head,

Gratitude is felt, Inspiration has been won.

In the hope of generations –

shall forever come.

Hearing a mighty Drum beat,

Then realizing – it – to be my Heart.

As my soul screams…………

Peace, Pride and Freedom!

We pray, shall – forever come?

As the shimmer of the Bay, echoes,

At the pull of the Tide.

Another Eagle’s cry – has been heard

But this one, way up high!!!

Thank you Mr. and Mrs. H.B. Eagle, for a battle is won!

Tambra L. Morgan

Kneeland

 

A break with tradition

This letter is in response to Kevin Hoover’s column of June 5 and has nothing to do with my association with two non-profit organizations.

Several times in his piece Kevin equates the Plaza as a public place with the Arcata Ball Park as a public place. He argues there is no difference between the Crabs charging admission to the ball game and Arcata Main Street imposing a $10 fee for admission to the Oyster Festival.

That is true if you are willing to ignore 50 years of historical precedent. The Crabs have charged admission for half a century. I would ask Mr. Hoover how many times in those 50 years anyone has had to pay to have access to the Plaza.

The Plaza has always been free to all – every festival, holiday, concert, etc. and I believe it is a tradition worth keeping. Keep the Plaza free for all and never exclude people for lack of money.

Kevin points out that it is behavior, having nothing to do with one’s economic status, that presents a problem which needs to be addressed. Then let’s deal with the problem rather than set up an economic barrier to people’s enjoyment of the festival. No one has any objection to fencing an area with monitors at the corners to keep out the inebriated.

Likewise, strict controls on serving alcohol within the festival area to prevent drunkenness makes sense. This would provide a far better solution to the identified problem than an exclusion based on economic wherewithal.

Critics of the plan adopted by the City Council are equally interested in a safe, family environment for this and all festivals. We believe that denying enjoyment of such an event to persons of limited expendable income is not the way to provide crowd control or enhance Main Street’s coffers.

Bob Holcomb

Fieldbrook

 

Flagrant abuse of public trust

That four of our supervisors could so easily ignore years of public input at well-publicized public hearings and change the basic ground rules for the proposed General Plan is offensive and disturbing.

By changing the guiding principles for a new General Plan this late in the process, these supervisors are exchanging their viewpoints and that of others who share their same values for the information on the values of the total community.

It is like listening to an echo if you surround yourself only with others who share your beliefs instead of carefully listening to many testify and then making a decision based on what seems the direction best for all.

The guiding principles for the General Plan were not just pulled out of some planner’s hat or taken from a planning manual, but rather they were drawn up after numerous public hearings and input from citizens all over the county.

It is a flagrant abuse of public trust and gross negligence of duty to act in a manner that is so self- serving for a chosen few.  If these actions hold, it will set the whole General Plan process back to the beginning.

Mary Gearheart

Arcata

 

A shining light goes dim

Your editorial about the Oysterfest wherein you detail the reasons to “give it a chance” was a sad indicator of how community values have shifted over time.

Arcata is losing its soul. Your rationalizations read like a playbook from Dick Cheney.  Touting safety concerns as the reason for exerting control over people works every time don’t it? That the good folks of Arcata are willing to accept a fence around the public square is an indicator of how much soul erosion has taken place over time.

Arcata used to be the shining beacon, an example of community values in action. That’s gone now.

Since we all know that the beer sales massively exceed the oyster sales, it is clear that it isn’t really about the oysters. It’s about selling lots and lots of beer in public. To make lots and lots of money.

For what?  The explanations are shallow. The FAQs with the town manager [actually Main Street Director Jennfer Koopman. – Ed.] citing FREE events was insulting to read. The FREE events are either FREE because of community values or they are FREE for some other reason. FREE events always end up bringing folks to town, which benefits the merchants. People like FREE events. Arcata used to like people. Things have changed.

All of the cited problems stem from the over-consumption of beer, and the best solution the creative minds of Arcata come up with is to do away with the beer bracelet fee and fence in the drinkers. Sad. Greed will do that – it erodes the heart, mind and soul every time. A shining light goes dim.

Sheila Evans

Eureka

 

OysterFence reconsidered

While it may be true that it was better to be inside of the Oyster Festival fence as opposed to outside, as an “inside” business we saw a 40 percent reduction in sales from the previous year. Conversations we’ve had with other business owners reveal much the same or worse. We were fully staffed and open the entire day.  Many businesses closed early.

Next year we hope to see a reconsideration of the fence and/or location of the event.  It is important that the City Council find a solution that works not only for Arcata Main Street, but also for downtown business, the citizens of Arcata and the Plaza community space.

Sincerely,

Kevin Johnson, Solutions

Plaza

 

Oyster Concentration Camp a massive civil rights violation

I’ve been a citizen of Arcata since 1982. I have been going to the Oyster Festival since the beginning, but not this year!

Over the years I’ve noticed that once was once a community and family event open to all, has become increasingly commercialized and alcohol-driven.

But this year was a turning point. This year “Main Street”; the business group that puts it on decided to completely privatize it with a $10 fee to enter, and a six-foot chain link fence; closing off not just the plaza proper, but the whole downtown area of shops and restaurants bordering the plaza.

The center of downtown Arcata is a public space that citizens of Arcata pay for with their taxes was denied to them on “Oyster Festival Day” unless they paid a de facto ransom fee to Arcata Main Street.

That was, and is, a massive civil rights violation against the citizens of Arcata.

The decision was approved by the city council of Arcata 4–to–1 vote.

Shane Brinton, the mayor, was the one dissenting vote. He was the only one who stood up for the commons of Arcata and the civil rights of Arcata citizens!

There was an option to this commandeering of the Arcata commons and the violation of its citizens and civil rights: It could have been moved to the Arcata Community Center and adjacent parking lot. That option was not taken. Why not?

The decision was to charge $10 and fence in the commons of Arcata was made in the name of “public safety.”

The center of downtown Arcata was completely fenced in with only four single-file exits for some 10,000 people to escape through in case of emergency!

It would only take one sniper with semi-automatic weapon to mow down people inside like they were in a target gallery. What if a bomb was set off inside the fence or thrown over the fence? How would people escape? If there was an earthquake, how would people escape the falling buildings around them?

It is also undeniable that there is a strong link between alcohol intoxication and violence: the most basic commonsense tells us that it is a stupid idea to close in and concentrate thousands of intoxicated people!

No! A concentration camp makes people less safe.

If “Main Street” and the City Council of Arcata were really concerned about public safety they would NOT sell alcohol at public events.

But that gets to the real reason for turning Arcata’s downtown into a concentration camp – MONEY! A whole lot of money is made by selling alcohol and forcing the citizens of Arcata to pay a $10 ransom to enter their own downtown!

As a citizen of Arcata, I believe that our Democracy, our commons and our civil liberties have been violated by “Main Street” and the City Council for the Almighty Dollar!

I am very saddened by this and hope it does not happen again in the future.

Rob Hepburn

Arcata

 

Painful betrayal

When Mr. Dan Johnson, member of the Northern Humboldt Union High School District Board of Trustees, took the podium at the Arcata High School graduation in Redwood Bowl on Thursday, June 13, he announced his intention of sharing a letter he had written to his daughter.

Instead, he read aloud marginally altered excerpts from a commencement speech which Mr. David McCullough Jr. delivered to the graduating class of Wellesley High School, Massachusetts, in June, 2012.

Perhaps Mr. Johnson thought that nobody would notice his plagiarism, despite the fact that a video of Mr. McCullough’s address has registered more than two million viewings on YouTube.

If so, he was mistaken. Several of Arcata High’s seniors had studied Mr. McCullough’s speech during the preceding school year and were therefore painfully aware that their graduation ceremony was being marred by a supposedly respectable authority figure laying claim to something that rightfully belonged to somebody else.

Having taught at Arcata High for 18 years, I know that my colleagues and I repeatedly stress to our teenage students that merely altering the occasional phrase or omitting the occasional paragraph does not change the fact that one is lying and stealing when, without attribution or acknowledgment, one presents someone else’s work as one’s own.

Mr. Johnson betrayed the very principles of academic integrity that Arcata High seeks to instill and uphold. He owes an apology to all who attended this year’s graduation, especially the graduating class of 2013.

Sincerely,

Iain Macdonald 

Arcata

 

Wrongheaded restoration

The county’s approach to surveying the public regarding disaster preparedness is important. surveymonkey.com/s/HumboldtCohazmit. Even while we enjoy our homes, backyards and beaches, we should be running through our checklist of what might happen if a “big one “ hits.

Certainly being prepared to help our neighbors is a must do. Securing food and water supplies and developing tsunami evacuation plans are all good.

On the East Coast they are taking preparedness quite seriously, especially after super storm Sandy. From Maine to Florida the coastal communities are coming out in droves to plant and replant ammophila. That’s right ammophila. The beach grass we have spent millions trying to eradicate from our coastline.

There are two types of beach grass we started planting along our coast a hundred years ago. American beach grass and European beach grass. The two are very difficult to tell apart. American beach grass is less effective and more invasive than European beach grass. That is according to a recent Oregon State University study. East Coasters would be quite jealous of what we have here. They are only planting the American variety which produces a shorter, less effective dune.

It is still not clear why we would want or need to change management of our coastal dunes so radically. If “restoring” them means going back to what we think they might have been, we are ignoring why we used state, federal and county resources to stabilize them in the first place. How exactly are we replacing those protections?

In some areas on the eastern seaboard they actually construct fences around the planted ammophila to protect it while it grows. Here we removed it with bulldozers and put fences up to keep humans out of the denuded areas. There they recognize the benefits the grass provides for the coastal wetlands and nature and agriculture areas. Here we set the sand free to smother ours. Some folks on Cape Cod actually got fined $200 for removing a small section of the ammophila and were made to replant it. They say the ammophila beach grass even helps their local and threatened piping plover.

There is a simple and effective way to rebuild dunes developed on Cape Cod. Placing lath or cedar shims in a random 8 to 10 inch pattern in a blown out area of the dune gathers the wind blown sand. Periodic raising the stakes allows more sand to collect. It is called biomimicry. It is what the beach grass would be doing if it was not removed. Check the link below for more information.

I found one disturbing part of the county’s survey however. We are asked if we would support moving people off of threatened areas and presumably have some federal agency own the land as open space. Federal lands have begun the ugly habit of producing very little while costing us top dollar.

Unfortunately this has already been happening to some of our local ranches.

Much of our very fertile agriculture land is being turned into choking thatch, swamps or sand covered pasture. Some of these rich pastures put more weight on cattle per day than a feedlot. That is how fertile they are. Turning grass, sunshine and rain into protein is rarely so easy.

Some of these areas may make sense to turn back into wetlands but to discredit and reverse the extensive and concerted efforts it took to make many of these lands so fertile is counter productive. Remember eating is an agricultural act.

If we are deciding to prevent (as much as we can) and prepare for natural disasters we are foolish to be inviting disaster by removing a very effective and natural protection that our beach grass provides. Nor should we be putting prime agriculture soils under water, cement or a sheet of sand.

If a disaster really does hit, we are still going to want to eat and have our roads and homes intact.

Please visit OpenBeaches.org.

Uri Driscoll

Arcata

 

Sunday-ize the O’Fest

Considering the overwhelming dissatisfaction expressed by merchants in the downtown area to the Oyster Festival fence, I would like to make a recommendation. If the City Council decides to approve use of the fence for next year’s event, Main Street should be required to move the event to Sunday.

This way the Farmers’ Market can conduct their business as usual on Saturday. Businesses that are open on Sunday may experience improved sales on a day that might otherwise be slow, and businesses (like mine) that are normally closed, could decide whether or not to open on that day to participate in the event.

Main Street of course, could continue the event on Saturday without the fence.

Obviously this does not address the larger issue as to whether or not it is appropriate to fence off the Plaza and charge money in order for citizens to enter this public space.

Sincerely,

Lisa Brown 

Arcata

 

A letter to the City

Too many times we only hear about the negative, I am writing to you today to share some positive news about the City of Arcata and a member of your staff.

On several occasions, I have had the opportunity to interact and work with your Traffic Control Technician Art Hill. Mr. Hill is a credit to your department and an outstanding ambassador for your city staff.

Although Art works in the Street and Traffic department, he is always putting in that extra effort to help. Often, I sweep the street and sidewalk on our block of “H” Street. If Art is passing by in the city truck and sees that I have a large amount of leaves, street trash or rubbish, he jumps out and picks it up for us.

Recently, Arcata Exchange was cleaning up one of the garden beds on the Plaza. Although Art was working on a street painting project he let us know to just bag up the weeds and trash we were cleaning out of the beds and he would swing by and pick them up and dispose of them of them properly.

Art is always smiling and has a positive attitude. We can tell Art takes pride in Arcata and his job and strives to help make it the best it can be. Please let Art know that we at Arcata Exchange appreciate all that he does.

Sincerely,

Gene Joyce

Owner, Arcata Echange

 

HLA’s helping hands

Early in the formation of the Humboldt County Tourism Business Improvement District the steering committee (later to become the Humboldt Lodging Alliance) determined that 25 percent of revenues from the district assessment would be made available to community businesses and organizations for projects that promote tourism in Humboldt County.

The Humboldt Lodging Alliance wants to build strong community partnerships and foster countywide cooperation and innovation. If you have an idea for a project, event or activity that will generate overnight stays—or if you would like so seek support for something you’re already doing—you are encouraged to apply to the HLA Community Tourism Fund!

Humboldt Lodging Alliance, the newest funding organization in Humboldt County, has financial resources for the purpose of growing the tourism industry.

For the next five years, the Humboldt County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) will manage the Humboldt Lodging Alliance (HLA).

Local hoteliers have assessed themselves an additional two percent over the normal Transit Occupancy Taxes (TOT) in order to put more “heads in the beds.” The goal is to create visitor-attracting events in the shoulder seasons of the year, in other words, not the summer.

HLA will collect close to one million dollars a year. Arcata, Blue Lake, Eureka, Fortuna, Ferndale, Rio Dell, Trinidad and the County have 25 percent of those locally collected funds to be distributed by their jurisdiction’s hoteliers.

Even though this a summer activity, HLA Arcata hoteliers felt it is important to have the California Welcome Center/Arcata Chamber of Commerce “Open on Sundays” to welcome visitors coming from the north, east and south and to offer the best Humboldt County experience possible. Humboldt County’s California Welcome Center is one of 19 in the State of California.

HLA Arcata hoteliers believe up-to-date technology is crucial in the contemporary tourism industry and reimbursed the California Welcome Center/Arcata Chamber of Commerce for new computers. HLA Arcata hoteliers want the growing number of tech-savvy tourists to have the best of experiences as they plan their Humboldt County visits.

HLA Arcata is the first of the local jurisdictions to request the HLA 25 percent allocation to support Humboldt’s tourism industry. For more information about the Humboldt Lodging Alliance and who manages the funds in your jurisdiction, call (707) 443-5097.

Diane Cutshall, Shailesh Patel, Alex Stillman

Arcata

 

Thanks, HLA

The Arcata Chamber of Commerce and California Welcome Center staff is excitedly finding information for our guests more efficiently with our much-needed new computers. In addition we are thrilled to have received funding that allows us to be open on Sundays during our busiest months. Being able to offer assistance to travelers who want to learn more about Humboldt County and beyond and to locals who want to shop for local merchandise on a day when we used to be closed.

Thank you to the Humboldt Lodging Alliance and their representatives from Arcata; Alex Stillman from Arcata Stay, Shailesh Patel from Hampton Inn and Diane Cutshall from Hotel Arcata for approving the funding that has made all of this possible.

Thank you,

Sandy Scott, executive director

Board of Directors and Staff

Arcata Chamber of Commerce and

California Welcome Center

 

Building erosion consensus

I wonder how many people out there are concerned about rising sea levels in the future and/or the probability of earthquakes and tsunamis affecting our coast at some time in the future. If you think those things are something we should prepare for, then let’s talk about our dune stability. The fore dunes protect our coastal wetlands, the dune forest and all the wildlife that depends on those areas to live. The back dunes protect the coastal residents and our homes.

It has now come to our attention that we have a possible solution to the dune erosion that has occurred in the recent years. The idea of placing wood slats on the eroding areas to collect sand that the wind blows in that direction is an inexpensive and a no negative environmental impact solution. Why would anyone be against the experiment? View the You Tube video “Coastal Restoration Using Biomimicry” to see the idea.

I hope that all the involved parties can come together to solve these problems instead of the refusal to face the issues. We are at a crossroad here. We need to admit that some current practices are not working and consider other avenues.

Thank you for your consideration to this issue.

  Laurie Ervin 

Arcata

 

Prevent domestic violence

The specter of domestic violence homicide looms over Humboldt County. No one knows for sure whether Shane Miller, wanted for the murder of his wife, and two daughters, aged 8 and 5 is alive or dead. If alive, no one knows where he is.

What do we know about domestic violence homicides?

We know it CAN happen here. We have our Silent Witnesses to remind us of that chilling reality – 30 wooden silhouettes standing in memory and honor of those in Humboldt County who have died as a result of domestic violence.

There are 29 women, (one pregnant), one man, one dog, and one cat. (Batterers often abuse, torture, and kill animals or threaten to do so to exercise power and control and ultimately frighten family members or partners into compliance).

We know that batterers usually murder their partners, and sometimes their children, when they have lost access to them, oftentimes when their partner has left them or is about to leave.

Domestic violence is all about power and control and ownership – the batterer believes he is entitled to the loyalty, services, and obedience of his victim – and that she has no right to leave him. (Although the vast majority of batterers are men and victims are women, battering does occur in lesbian/gay/bisexual/trans relationship with a much smaller percentage of cases of men being battered by women).

Leaving, therefore, is a dangerous endeavor for survivors of domestic violence. The community must step up to support survivors so they can leave safely.

Unfortunately, when law enforcement was called to the home of the murdered woman on April 9, there is no record of an arrest, an intervention or a referral. The domestic violence incident was on April 9, 2011; the murders took place on May 7.

Shane Miller was obviously a danger to his family. He had made threats against them and threats to her family. He owned firearms. He had committed other violent crimes. Ms. Miller had told her friends and family that she was leaving him.

Along with forced sex, suicide threats, obsession with the partner, alcohol and other drug abuse; the aforementioned are major indicators that a homicide might take place. A lethality assessment would have given this warning.

About half of the time that batterers kill their partners and children, they then kill themselves. It has been my experience in tracking domestic violence homicides for 30 years; the batterer kills himself when he believes that he will be incarcerated.

When he thinks he can get away with the crimes, he does not kill himself. This underlines the planned, deliberate nature of domestic violence.

The Humboldt County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council (DVCC), in partnership with law enforcement, is conducting a safety and accountability assessment of the criminal justice system.

The Assessment is a method of identifying strengths and pinpointing areas that need improvement to increase safety for survivors and accountability for the batterers.

This assessment process has happened throughout the United States and has assisted systems in making small and important changes.

As a result of preliminary findings of the assessment, the DVCC will conduct a cross training for providers who come into contact with survivors and batterers. This will take place in October, domestic violence awareness month.

The Humboldt County District Attorney, Paul Gallegos, will be providing enhanced training for district attorneys as well as revising his prosecution policies on domestic violence.

The training for DAs will take place in early August and will be conducted by Casey Gwinn. Mr. Gwinn, President of the National Family Justice Center Alliance, has been recognized by The American Lawyer magazine as one of the top 45 public lawyers in America. Mr. Gwinn served for eight years as the elected City Attorney of San Diego, and is nationally recognized as the foremost expert on prosecution of domestic violence.

Sometime in the fall, there will also be training for district attorneys based on a model developed by the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence.

The training will be conducted by Dawn Watkins, Executive Director of WISH in collaboration with a district attorney.

Bill Damiano, Chief Probation Officer, has also asked the DVCC to organize additional training for probation officers.

I can be reached at SusanGSMcGee@aol.com for inquiries or thoughts.

Finally, our hearts go out to the family and friends of Sandy, Shelby, and Shasta Miller.

Very truly yours,

Susan G. S. McGee

Coordinator, Humboldt County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council

Instructor, Community Activism/Education for Action

Humboldt State University Critical Race Gender and Sexuality Studies

 

Note: David Jervis sent in the letter below with these notes: “Your excellent argument against this noxious downtown ban takes me back — back to roughly the spring of 1997, when I weighed in a letter to the editor to the Eye about the city’s then-proposed ban of smoking in bars. Enjoy my long-winded and ultimately quixotic argument against the doomed city idea, all of course rendered moot when the the legislature passed a statewide ban within less than two years. Incidentally, while in 2013 I have come firmly around to the idea that bars are better off and more pleasant without smoking, so long as they have a patio to wish to banish the interested parties, I stick what I said in the fifth paragraph: That I think smokers tend to be better-looking than nonsmokers.” – Ed.

Rise up for lighting up

Well, Arcata City Councilmembers, just because Davis has a draconian smoking law doesn’t make it right. I lived for 20 years in the proximity of Davis and have been there hundreds of times, and believe me, that flat, dull, smoggy, plug-ugly burg is really not much like Arcata at all. For one thing, while I couldn’t give you an empirical figure of what percentage of Arcatans smoke, I’m certain it’s well above the national percent of adult Americans (and Davis residents), which lingers around 25 percent. For various reasons, both Humboldt County and Arcata are chock-full of smokers of all ages, and I don’t see it decreasing.

Davis even forbids lighting up at its acrid smoke-laden Fourth of July outdoor fireworks show. However, Arcata can equal this zenith of illogic by banning smoking on the Plaza, an area completely encircled every day by thousands of cars spewing smoky, poisonous emissions more efficiently than any legion of cigarette puffers. The inherent hypocrisy here is almost too perverse to contemplate, but this is apparently what Arcata’s smoking ordinance proposes to do.

I myself gave up cigarettes years ago (although I still smoke cigars religiously), but any high-minded civic initiative to punish and demonize adult smokers infuriates me, especially when hiding behind specious, misleading data about secondhand smoke. Folks, this isn’t mustard gas. You’re not going to walk through a cloud of someone’s cigarette smoke in an Arcata bar and catch a dose of cancer on the spot. Hell, if you’re hanging around in Arcata’s watering holes for the thousands of hours necessary for exposure to the secondhand smoke level needed to kill you, I think you really may have some other issues to work out in your life.

Since bars fulfill a societal niche as a place where adults (not children, remember) go to get away from their homes, relax after work, do such silly indulgent things such as drink lots of alcohol (a legal substance that’s pretty unhealthy too, I’ve heard) and/or engage in cryptic sexual mating rituals, then maybe, lo and behold, bars are the last home smokers have, and if so, I think they’ve found a perfect one. If all the aforementioned irresponsible activities seem enticing, yet the smoke sounds offensive, go to Plaza Grill. Go to Jambalaya on certain nights of the week. Wear a space suit of some sort at all hours of the day. But don’t stroll into, say, The Alibi, and proclaim yourself shocked, shocked, to find smoking going on on the premises of such a place.

I’ve always found smokers to be more interesting, intelligent, creative, self-confident, fun to be with, and believe it or not, even better-looking than the rest of the population. I have absolutely no idea why this is true, and I’ve given up trying to figure it out, but I do know I’d rather spend my social hours in a smoky tavern with those coughin’, hackin’ folks than be surrounded by a bunch of self-righteous non-smoking bores as I sip my scotch, marvel at the fresh air, and ponder how much longer until the establishment goes under.

This stridently pedantic, obnoxiously intrusive and patently absurd proposal, if enacted, will likely not make a single person in Arcata quit smoking. It’ll spare non-smokers some health risks at a level we cannot at all quantitatively calculate, and in exchange for that it’ll decimate some city businesses, enrage bar owners and their patrons, and embarassingly squander the time and resorces of Arcata’s law enforcement.

Responsible, freedom-loving, adult smokers of Arcata: Rise up for your right to light up before it’s too late.

David Jervis

Arcata

 

APA, City at impasse

The Arcata Police Association represents the police officers and sergeants, dispatchers, parking officers, evidence technicians, and front office staff of the Arcata Police Department. APA is the collective bargaining agent for these employees and works with the City of Arcata to reach labor agreements equitable for both sides. The current agreement expires June 30 – APA and the City have been meeting for 4 months to reach a new understanding, with tentative agreements being reached on 31 topics. The few items that involve small amounts of money have benefited the City. Unfortunately, one large topic remains, and impasse has been reached.

Before going further, I know some of you already shut down during the first paragraph. “Greedy public employees with their fat pensions, bleeding the City during tough times,” you may think. A certain segment of the public will believe that no matter what the facts – for the rest of you, read the facts and make up your own mind.

Two years ago, recognizing tough times, APA agreed to significant concessions with the City, including pension reform before it was mandated by the state. APA received no salary adjustments over the last two years while the cost of living increased by an average of two percent per year. It made none of us happy but we knew this was the right thing to do given the economy – APA and other City employees did our part to help the City.

Arcata has a diverse tax base, and weathered the economic crisis better than most cities and counties. Reserve funds were tapped to a limited degree – that’s what reserves are for, dealing with unexpected and difficult times, and the last few years certainly qualify as difficult. It is a well-managed municipality and has been “in the black” each of the last 6 years. With a slow but steady recovery and the same leadership team in place there is no reason to believe that this success story will not continue.

Pension reform is reality, and the City is benefitting from it. Under the old formula the City contributes 35.5 percent of salary towards police officer pensions for 2013-14. For new lateral-hire employees the city contributes 20.7 percent. For brand new Officers that contribution is even smaller – real savings for the City, at the expense of a weakened pension system for the employees. Again APA, this time due to state mandate, is doing its part to help keep Arcata strong.

Crime is on the rise throughout the region. Using Arcata Police Department data, commercial burglaries are up by 199 percent, vehicle burglaries by 20 percent, and auto thefts by 61 percent. Armed robberies, once uncommon, are alarmingly frequent. Four concealed handguns have been removed from suspects in the last six months. Recently a tragic double-homicide occurred in Arcata, the first murder since 2004. A suspect was in custody within 12 hours. Police Department staff are taking more reports and making more arrests. The Arcata Police Department is functioning well, serving proudly and efficiently.

APA is asking for a two percent per year cost of living adjustment over the next two years – not a “raise,” but what it takes to not fall even further behind in everyday purchasing power. The city counters with 1% and 1.5%. This seems like a small gap, and in some ways it is.

The City quotes $96,000 per year for each 1 percent increase in salary – for every single rank-and-file city employee, not just APA members. For a city with a budget of over $31 million and general fund of over $12 million this is a small figure. Of special concern is that the City continues to use the “every employee” figure in negotiations, yet APA represents a small segment of City employees – we do not bargain for the Operating Engineers union. This indicates a predetermination on the City’s part that each of these two separate bargaining groups will receive the same deal – this is not negotiating in good faith.

Public employees have received a lot of scorn over the last few years, some deserved, much of it ill-informed and undeserved. We aren’t asking for a raise – we only want to fall no further behind in the daily expenses of running our lives. A 2% per year cost of living adjustment over each of the next two years is fair, it is affordable, and it is the right thing to do. I urge all Arcata residents and business owners to contact their councilmembers to express their feelings on this matter.

 Richard Bergstresser, president

Arcata Police Association

 

Help Bob and Jess

As many of you know, North Coast Journal Entertainment Editor Bob Doran suffered a stroke while taking photos this year at the HSU Commencement Ceremony in May.

Arcata’s sweetheart, Jessica McGuinty, owner of local business Jessicurl and a KHUM D.J., also incurred major medical expenses undergoing a sixth heart surgery in May.

To help defray medical costs, the Journal is teaming up with the Arcata Eye for a big fundraising benefit later this month on Thursday, July 25 at Humbrews in Arcata.

NOTHING is too small, but ANY generous donations you are willing to make for the silent auction would be immensely appreciated by both the friends and family of Bob Doran and Jessica McGuinty. (Cash, Gift Certificates, Dinner for Two, Night’s Stay, Pallet of Soil, Spa Treatment, Guitar, Gift Basket, Painting, Sculpture, Massage, Camera, iPod, Bike, Clothing, Concert tickets, Wine, Publicity, etc..)

As coworkers and friend of Bob Doran, we know that he is an instrumental part of our Humboldt County community who greatly enhances our experience of what a community is all about. Whether snapping photos at the Farmers’ Market, Arts Alive or any number of annual community events OR his expert music coverage in the weekly HUM column. MANY local business owners have been on the receiving end of Bob’s awesome event reporting over the years, so please don’t be bashful.

Likewise, Brave Jessica McGuinty is an integral part of Arcata’s social scene and business community. Jessicurl has been a very generous donor to local non-profits, and Jessica and her business start-up have served as mentor and model for many an aspiring business. Curlies everywhere have much to thank her for, so if you are one or know one, please be especially generous!

If you have any ability to offer something towards this silent auction, we are hoping to have items assembled asap. We will make it very easy for you. Please contact Shane Mizer or Kim Hodges at 442-1400 or Debi Farber-Bush at 845-3873.

BY ALL MEANS, please come yourself and celebrate Bob and Jessica’s recovery!!!

Sincerely,

Shane Mizer, North Coast Journal

Lauraine Leblanc, Arcata Eye

Debi Farber Bush, Arcata

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