Letters to the Editor, February 28, 2018

McMAC is MIA

Dear Supervisor Sundberg,

Over the years, as a conscientious resident of my community, I have deliberately scheduled and attended our local McKinleyville Municipal Advisory Committee (McMAC) meetings.

Sometimes the meetings don’t seem very critical for our community members to weigh in, but every now and again there are topics that the public wishes to contribute their interests and concerns. The racism in McKinleyville issue has been a popular issue to address. The proposed Health and Human Services building was another. Presently the Mercer-Fraser cannabis processing plant proposal on the Mad River flood plain would have been a timely and important draw of McKinleyville residents for the January 31 McMAC meeting.

Alas, the Jan. 31 McMAC meeting was cancelled due to lack of a quorum. Unfortunately for you, as Fifth District Supervisor, because the McMAC was cancelled, your “advisor(s)” were unable to inform you and the other Board of Supervisors as to how your local community members think about the subject.

I would humbly suggest that you calculate the number of McMAC meetings that have been cancelled since its inception and determine which members have not been able to attend in the past. It may be that there are members who have other commitments that interfere with their regular attendance. Perhaps some committee members really don’t want to be on the McMAC. I suggest that you replace them.

A lack of quorum need not mean that the committee cancels for the evening. Those able to attend can at least show up, discuss issues but not make decisions or recommendation to the BoS until the next meet. Or, committee members could have an alternate like many other organizations. At least, if you read the minutes, you would know what the attending public and committeemembers have to contribute at that time.

In an era of transparency, I urge you to tidy-up the McMAC leadership, membership and it’s effectiveness in representing the McKinleyville community to Humbldt County Board of Supervisors. Presently it is a poor example of democracy in action here in McKinleyville.

Sincerely,
Kate McClain
McKinleyville

Prioritize potholes

About 20 or so years ago, there was an earlier movement in Arcata to replace the statue of President McKinley. At that time, I wrote a letter to the then-Arcata Eye which was published.

My letter was to the effect that no funds should be expended to replace the statue until all the city’s potholes have been repaired.

Is it possible for the Mad River Union to track down and re-publish that letter? After all, my sentiments are still exactly the same.

Carman Gentile
Arcata

Absurd recklessness

“There may be no bigger issue brought to the Planning Commission this year that deals with public health and welfare.”

That quote is from Humboldt Bay Water District General Manager John Friedenbach.

He’s referring to the rezoning of Mad and Trinity River-adjacent properties owned by Mercer-Fraser, the local company that wants to open hash labs on these sites. The problem is that these properties are upstream from where most of us get our drinking water.

Mercer-Fraser is best known for their support of the development industry. The four Humboldt County Supervisors who appointed the planning commissioners that signed off on this, and who themselves voted to approved this absurdly reckless plan, are funded by developers in general. But each of these Supervisors — Ryan Sundberg, Virginia Bass, Estelle Fennel and Rex Bohn — received the maximum campaign contributions allowed by law from M-F co-owner Justin Zabel in the last two election cycles.

Apparently the safety of the drinking water of tens of thousands of their constituents is of less value to these Supes than the thousands of dollars that industry will donate to fill their campaign coffers.

The local daily newspaper did a good job addressing concerns about the safety of our drinking water in their editorial a week ago Sunday.

What we need now is for some real investigative reporting that follows the money responsible for this outrage, something I hope we can count on from our weeklies!

Elections are coming. How important is the safety of your drinking water?

Richard Salzman
Sunny Brae

The gun conundrum

A balanced view of gun access and control is a dilemma for me. I am a retired wildlife professional and recognize that hunters contribute 50 percent or more of all funds used for the management of wildlife in this country, including threatened and endangered species. For me, loss of hunting would be devastating to the health and well-being of wildlife in this country.

I also am a parent, grandparent, and great-grandparent, and it is painful for me to open a morning newspaper or turn on the TV and meet the eyes of a grief-stricken parent or view the faces of children holding a candle vigil for lost friends.

As one survivor of the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, said, “If they’re not able to purchase their first drink of alcohol, then how are we (sic) allowed to buy guns at the age of 18 or 19? Obviously whatever we have going on, it’s not working.”

Based on past experiences, looking to a legislative solution to curb ready access to handguns, assault weapons (e.g., AR-15), or most firearms seems unlikely; too many politicians are fearful of the power of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and loss of their financial support. And short of a constitutional amendment, gun ownership is here to stay.

In his book, The Better Angels of our Nature, Steven Pinker documents the decline of war and deaths by violent confrontations over the centuries. Interestingly, he argues that this decline is less from top government leadership than from a broader clarity in society about the moral and humanitarian impacts of violent conflicts.

Rather than waiting for more restrictive laws from our leadership (and seeing a flurry of gun purchases), I propose that society as a whole must clarify its views and reach some broader consensus on gun ownership and use.

This may start with an assertion that our current gun ownership, with its limited regulation, contributes to a significant and harmful problem in this country.

For example, there could be a general shift from seeing most handgun and assault weapon ownership as normal or necessary evils, to their becoming viewed as unnecessary evils, to their becoming viewed as immoral behaviors, to further becoming unthinkable except in unique and well-defined cases and finally not even thought about.

Similar past changes have occurred in society regarding topics of dueling, bear baiting, public executions, slavery, debtor’s prisons, etc. Changes and clarity in societal attitudes likely is more effective than legislative solutions.

If general societal outlooks were to change, what would be sensible limits on remaining gun ownership and use, including types available and uses justified? Getting back to hunting, hunter safety classes are required to acquire a hunting license. A more thoughtful approach on firearm types available and their appropriate purposes are a first question.

This letter is meant as an opening to invite others, including those with alternative views, to begin this discussion in our local community. I look forward to your responses.

Richard G. Botzler
McKinleyville

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