Letters to the Editor, March 15, 2017

Neglected and resource-starved Valley West doesn’t want to stay that way

Note: Since this letter identifying Valley West issues was conveyed to the City Council last October, several agencies and entities have stepped up to say that they are willing or are looking into providing services in this area, ac”cording to author Lucy Salazar. “Much progress has been made since then,” she said. –Ed.

Dear City Councilmembers,

I am a volunteer at Pacific Union School, and I’m also an advocate for local Hispanic families. For over eight years I worked with the Arcata Recreation Division on the creation and execution of the Natural Resources Science Camp and Camp Odyssey. This last summer I worked with the Boys & Girls Club of the Redwoods to continue Camp Odyssey as a four-week science-oriented summer camp held at Laurel Tree Charter School in Valley West.

The recent mural project on Samoa Boulevard has brought me to the point of raising the red flag regarding the issue of priorities within the City of Arcata regarding social justice and recreational opportunities. Back in August I met with Karen Diemer to again encourage her and the city to develop recreational opportunities and facilities in the northern part of Arcata. She gave me a copy of the attached grant proposal that was submitted back in 2011 to develop and expand the ”Valley West Park.” The city conducted several public meetings over the period 2008-2010 to assess the area’s needs and to come up with ideas for potential developments. This document states on page 23:

“The Valley West neighborhood has been identified through numerous planning efforts and our Parks Master Plan as the most deficient area for recreational park space/opportunities in the City of Arcata. This neighborhood is one of the most densely populated areas in Arcata and has only one designated park, Valley West Park … This neighborhood is in urgent need of new, safe, year-around recreational opportunities for the young families, seniors and students that live in the area and would like to frequent the park … Additionally, City of Arcata residents have long advocated for improvements to the park and surrounding stormwater detention basins … the project is eligible based on the median household income (i.e., $27,120) of residents within the proximity of the park.”

Five years later, the neighborhood description is still the same, with a marked increase in the minority population. [Note: the overall minority population of Pacific Union School, which serves this part of town, has grown to 30 percent (~170 kids) in 2016.] At the same time very little has been done to remedy the lack of recreational facilities in this “unserved” part of Arcata. The structure of the small Valley East Park was upgraded in 2016. Julie Neander has mentioned a potential park and boat ramp facility on Guintoli Lane. [In my opinion, this idea seems to have little use for the local families, and it would be very difficult to remove and keep out the people already living in the bushes along the Mad River.]

But this year an “ugly” building that people might have to experience for five seconds as they get on to the freeway gets front page news and $10,000 from the city. In addition, how much staff time has been put into the Medical Marijuana Innovation Zone over the last couple of years? The planned futsal field just adds to the already wonderful soccer fields behind the Community Center. Other city park structures (Rotary Park, Greenview Park) have been recently updated. The Creamery District gets its high share of activity and attention, and I just noticed a flyer publicizing the Marsh District.

With all of this activity in other parts of Arcata, it seems like the City’s priorities keep on ignoring the needs of the working poor and minority families. And I will emphasize that a variety of safe, easily accessible recreational facilities are a “need” rather than a want for children, teenagers, and all families. I recently read an article in Modern Healthcare (Feb. 1, 2016) which discussed whether race played a factor in Flint Michigan’s water-health crisis due to the fact that it occurred in a predominantly poor, black community. U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) told ahoo News, “The sad, outrageous reality is that people were not paying attention to what the residents were saying because they weren’t a priority,” Arcata residents also have spoken, but nobody seems to be listening and their needs still aren’t on the City’s priority list.

In addition to developing outdoor recreational facilities in the northern part of Arcata, my hope is that the City of Arcata will partner with the Boys & Girls Club of the Redwoods for an actual building in the Valley West area. This could accommodate the indoor needs of the kids and the parents (e.g., meeting space, after school tutoring, art classes, engineering club, English classes, indoor exercise areas for dance classes, Zumba, etc.). Minneapolis has a great example of a successful partnership with the Boys & Girls Club. Given the demographics in this area, grants may be available. pps.org/reference/successminneapolis/

What are the true priorities for Arcata regarding social justice and recreation? Do only the people with connections, or money, or now, marijuana entrepreneurs get the city’s attention? If, as a society, we do not provide engaging opportunities for children of all ages and all economic backgrounds, we will pay for it many times over in lost lives, disenfranchised neighborhoods, and kids getting into trouble. These hard-working families deserve your attention, and they have waited for way too long without any concrete results. Please put the Valley West/East and northern part of Arcata at the top of your recreation priority list – too much time has passed without any real activity. Thank you for your time, and I would be more than willing to discuss this with you in the future.

Lucy Salazar



A beautiful woman lay on a crude table in the center of the room in a village home in south India. Two men moved about her in the darkness. One held a torch, the other had a scalpel in hand.

The young woman was in agony. She and the child within her, would not survive the night unless something was done immediately. An unplanned cesarean operation, in the primitive setting, without anesthesia, would be necessary because a natural delivery was impossible.

The village midwives had done all they could for her. Members of her family, in an adjacent room observed from a doorway. Eventually the new-born baby gasped for breath, the woman sighed with relief and her family broke out in a joyful song.

This happened more than 50 years ago in south India, near Honomokonda (“Hill of the Monkey God”). The surgeon was my brother David, a Mennonite mission volunteer; I was the nervous assistant with the torch.

Sunday night, Feb. 26, because of my dear wife, Carol’s insistence and the advise of Amelia at Open Door Clinic in Arcata, things were very different; my brother was in Africa photographing elephants, and I was on a table in a Mad River Community Hospital operating room with a ruptured appendix.

No torch was necessary, there was plenty of brilliant lighting and all manner of technical assistance. Anesthesia was skillfully administered; I was suddenly oblivious.

Paradoxically, Dr. Luh, who had diagnosed my condition, was of Asian extract. (Western nations would be in trouble without the expert assistance of “aliens” – right?) Before midnight, the surgeon in charge, Dr. Wilcox, reamed me out and patched me up in grand style.

Then: I woke up in a haunting nether world of monstrous blinking, beeping, robots and was restrained by a tangled web of tubes and wires that were pasted and poked into and onto various part of my body.

Shadowy beings loomed over me. The bed heaved and groaned under me like a hyperactive hippo. (Was this, then the scheduled perdition for those of us who skipped church or failed to pray five times a day?) At least now I had an excuse for avoiding the wood pile on Monday!

Soon enough and however, I was back in the hospital ICU, again surrounded by high-tech instruments and a team of congenial nurses and technicians who appeared to enjoy their work and were philosophic about mundane tasks. There was Tiffany and Toni and Dennis and so many others.

Incidentally, two of my favorite nurses, Jason and Angela, had taken courses at College of the Redwoods; one of their teachers had been my daughter Evelyn – small world!

(You are probably aware that healthcare costs in this country are at least double that of any other developed nation. Fortunately, for the time being, Medicare is still available, as it should be for all of us. The bill for my operation would have been devastating, were it not for the 80% copayment which Medicare offers.)

What an amazing complex of skilled professionals and support systems make there are in a good hospital! There are MDs – more than 40 are available in Humboldt County.) And beyond that, there are NDs, DPMs, MROs, DCs, FACOGs, FACs, DOs and ETCs.

In regard to medical practice in general, this writer is well over his head. Nevertheless, it should be noted that Ayurvedic remedies, holistic treatment, along with alternative and complementary and other healing practices work wonders for many of us; that thesis would take a thousand pages.

In any event and generally: What a delight to be alive even without a blasted appendix, and what a gift – this mysterious continuum called life.

Regarding the life-saving care I recently received at Mad River Hospital: thank you – thank you!

While in line for a colonoscopy some time ago, I scribbled some lines on the back of an envelope:

Dear friend and healer, tell me please, recalling wise Hippocrates,

When ailing mortals stand in line, expecting therapy divine

For countless ills from eyes to arse, is there sometimes too much farce?

In pondering anatomy; which end invites misanthropy?

(Impacted teeth, clogged entrails) Is it heads or is it tails?

In spite of enemas and countless pills, insurance scams and unpaid bills,

Skilled health providers - all of you, we need you now, we surely do.

Please hang in there, it’s bound to change. Single payer’s within range!

John and Carol Wiebe

President Narcissus

In Greek mythology, Narcissus was the proud son of a river god and a nymph, and one who disdained others. Nemesis saw this behavior and attracted Narcissus to a pool where he saw his own reflection and fell in love with it — that is himself.

Today, the Narcissistic Personality is recognized as a personality disorder by The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and is characterized by “exaggerated feelings of self-importance, an excessive need for admiration and a lack of understanding of others’ feelings … and appears to occur more often in males ...”

According to the manual, DSM-5, symptoms of individuals with NPD typically include:

  • Grandiosity with expectations of superior treatment from others
  • Fantasies of power, success, intelligence, attractiveness
  • Self perception of being unique, superior
  • Needing constant admiration from others
  • Sense of entitlement to special treatment and to obedience from others
  • Exploitative of others to achieve personal gain
  • Unwilling [or unable] to empathize with others
  • Pompous and arrogant demeanor

Does any of this sound familiar? Hold tight!

Edward “Buzz” Webb Ph.D

Trump’s blinding smoke

President Trump’s Administration (PTA) loves to blow smoke in order to keep Americans from seeing the real truth. When Trump lost the popular vote, the PTA supported Trump’s unfounded claim of millions of illegal votes for Hillary Clinton. When photos of Trump’s inauguration showed a relatively sparse turn out, the PTA declared it a record based on “alternative facts.”

When the attorney general and others who were part of the Trump campaign were being investigated for possible illegal interactions with Russian operatives, Trump himself diverts attention by making the still unsupported claim that President Obama had Trump Tower “bugged” prior to the November election.

There are many other examples as well, but this list should suffice to show a “smoky pattern” exists.

So now the PTA is blowing smoke yet again in an attempt to save the American Health Care Act (AHCA). It is standard practice that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) evaluate proposed bills to estimate their possible effect on the country’s budget.

The GOP knows that by Monday or so, the CBO will be releasing its report on the AHCA. The report will include estimates of the act’s cost and also estimates of the number of people who will most likely lose health care coverage, facts that could have a negative influence on the AHCA’s passage.

Even though the CBO is non-partisan and has long served as an important government advisory body, the PTA and other GOP members are currently attacking the agency’s credibility in order to discount the soon released findings, a step they hope will help keep the AHCA on track.

This is yet another example of PTA-generated smoke, this time again by way of unfounded discredit.

In conclusion, I would say it’s pretty clear after nearly two months operation of the PTA that we Americans need to pay close attention or the PTA’s smoke could indeed succeed in blinding us from the truth.

Sherman Schapiro
Blue Lake

McK Land Trust thanks

Last Sunday’s McKinleyville Land Trust annual fundraiser dinner was a great success thanks to its supporters, volunteers, and donations from the following local businesses:

Abruzzi, Almquist Lumber, Carl McGahan Massage Therapy, Chumayo Spa, Cypress Grove, Eureka Natural Foods, Friends of the McKinleyville Library, Healthsport, Kellogg Garden Products, Kmart’ Kokatat, Mad River Brewery, Mad River Gardens, McKinleyville Action Rental, Mirador Glass, Moonstone Crossing Winery, North Coast Co-op, Orchids for the People, Ramones Bakery, Ray’s Food Place, Redwood Animal Hospital, Samara Restoration, Singing Tree Gardens, Six Rivers Brewery, Sun Valley Floral Farms, Tango Del Sol, Threadbare Dancewear, Tomaso’s and Wildberries Marketplace.

McKinleyville Land Trust is an all-volunteer effort to conserve local lands of historic, scenic, and biological significance either through purchase and ownership or by holding conservation easements on private land.

Ongoing expenses for insurance, monitoring, maintenance, and public education depend on our annual fundraisers and membership donations.

Prime examples of McKinleyville landscapes protected by the Land Trust are showcased at our publicly accessible Mad River Bluffs and Cha-GAH-Cho properties.

Joyce King
McKinleyville Land Trust Board



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