Letters to the Editor, March 22, 2017

Arcata’s priorities

Dear Lucy Salazar,

Thanks for writing about the neglected Valley West families and children with few recreational resources (Union, March 15). Spending $40,000 on painting a mural with $10,000 contributed by the City of Arcata bothered me as well.

I complained to the City Council, even suggesting they copy the Arcata High School paint job on a similar large blank wall. Some might consider the mural a “distraction” since the model showed lots of activity would be depicted. Saving for a future repair/paint job would have been worthwhile as well.

However, one does have to wonder about priorities when it comes to where playground money is expended. I live in Northtown, directly across from the swings at Stewart Park. If we had a counting system similar to that used on roadways for cars, I question that the number of children and parents going to that park would justify its maintenance.

Understandably, when the subdivision was approved, it must have been thought that the houses would contain children. This park is for young children aged 2 to 10 with adult supervision and the large grassy area is now used mostly for a dog playground. Some decision-makers 30 years ago had a limited view of the future.

When the Greenview Park was proposed, I contributed to the fund, as I strongly believe in playgrounds in general and having one accessible to handicapped children is especially important. Limitations often prevent their active play, with or without other kids around. In addition to Stewart Park, there is Vinum Park (F Street near 14th Street) and I challenge examination of the census to calculate how many children live in that neighborhood. Very little parking is available at either location.

Cursory observation reveals that equipment is often replaced, seemingly not because it is worn out but because newer, “safer” plastic equipment is on the market. In Valley West, there is little playground equipment of any kind, anywhere. Families with children are just beginning their lives and rarely have houses with yards. Safe accessible playgrounds are a good investment for us all.

Sara Turner

P.S. When I walked across the street at 5 p.m. to confirm the ages on the sign, there were only three teen aged boys present, using the swings and a small loader. They were not misbehaving and this is not to be interpreted as criticism of them.

Where’d the $$$ go?

I read with dismay Lucy Salazar’s letter regarding the lack of recreational facilities in Valley West. It’s time to follow the money, $448,400 of it paid to the City of Arcata by Danco Communities between 2003 and 2005 for “Park-in-Lieu Fees.” The state law that allows the City to collect $3,800 per new residence of Park-in-Lieu Fees also sensibly requires they be spent to serve the community in which the new residences are built.

As Danco’s project manager in 2005, I personally handed over a check for “Park In Lieu Fees” of $202,400 for the second and third phases of the Courtyards of Arcata, a subsidized low-income family development adjacent to the 299 on-ramp.

In 2008 I started pestering the Parks and Recreation leadership about where the first Courtyards check, $243,200 of Park-in-Lieu fees paid in 2003, had been spent. The law requires Park-in-Lieu Fees to be spent within five years or be returned to the developer, who is then required to build the park--the park is required.

That’s the law. But when I asked Dan Diemer, the former Superintendent of Parks, how and when he was going to spend the first $243,200 check for Valley West kids, he told me the money had been spent on new, energy efficient lights for the downtown Crabs ball field. So the semipro adult ballplayers could save money on their nighttime games.

I was stunned — how could hundreds of thousands of dollars from a low-income housing development in Valley East and Valley West be spent on a pay-to-enter semi-private downtown ballfield? It is reverse Robin Hood. It’s wrong. It’s why I hate seeing the Crabs ballfield glowing white on summer nights, visible all the way out to Valley West, where hundreds of children look up and wonder why this town won’t build them a playground, not for love or money.

To be fair, the $202,400 I handed to the City wasn’t all spent on the downtown ballpark night lights — I was told in 2010 by Parks Superintendent Dan Diemer that the remaining money was being used to secure a parcel waterfront park on the Mad River, as part of the Zanzi commercial development on Guintoli. To this day that “park” literally has a Do Not Enter sign in front of it. It’s almost sarcastic.

What kind of parks development policy steals from childrens’ playgrounds in a low-income neighborhood and wastes it on an pay-to-play semi-pro ball field that smells like a beery frat house? $448,400 was paid by the Courtyards of Arcata that is earmarked for Valley East and Valley West children, and I think the City should spend it this summer or repay it to Courtyards--there is an acre of weeds that the neighbors have long wished could be a soccer field, and there are never enough swings to share when all 120 children come home from school. Swings cost just $400 each.

Sean Armstrong

Between Scylla and Charybdis

Thank you to Margaret Emerson for her excellent piece on turning our attention to “A Singular Solution” about  single-payer health care. As noted there are many great organizations extant in California alone that have been working for more than two decades to bring this effective and economically sound, proven program to correct the inequities in our health care system here in California. HCA (Health Care for All)-California has chapters in most counties, including here; namely, HCA-Humboldt, which has been mostly inactive since the arrival of the ACA with its improvements over the then existing system, but also with its many deficits. More on that below.

As Emerson points out, a  single-payer health care system would offer “everybody in, nobody out” free, life-time coverage of all health care needs including dental, vision and hearing. No co-pays, no age limits, no pre-existing conditions. Payment to providers would come from payroll taxes, just as with Medicare today, plus from the savings from the one-third of every health are dollar now wasted on profits and administrative costs of for-profit groups. Furthermore, it would be administered by appointed and elected public officials who would take the place of for-profit corporate insurance and pharmaceutical entities whose main interest is bottom-line company profit.

This last is an important point since, as the Trumpists for the GOP replacement of the ACA keep erroneously claiming, their program will “give back to the people their choices for doctors and hospitals instead of having the government in charge.”  single-payer is the program that actually does do this. What  single-payer is not, as many would want us to believe, is socialized medicine. Providers would still be private and everyone would in fact have free choice among them.

The public sets the policies and administers the system which would be under public scrutiny, subject to impeachment for malfeasance. This is wholly unlike the GOP and ACA programs where (guess who is in charge) corporate insurance and pharma conglomerates dictate every choice that is made, arbitrarily and without oversight or recourse to injured parties. The last thing any of these programs can claim is consumer control.

In addition, the obscene profits and overhead garnered by these entities not only feed the power they have accumulated, they are used against any attempt by taxpayers to wrest control from their corporate talons. Can we forget the fantastically deep-pocket ’90s advertising blitz from the HIAA (Health Insurance Association of America), “Harry and Louise” ads designed to derail the Clinton era health-care revamp?

It was over-the-top successful. Even today when Pew Research shows more than 60 percent of Americans (and other polls show some whopping 80 percent of Californians) want a  single-payer, Medicare-for-all system of health care, think what the billions of advertising dollars wielded by the corporate powers can still do to thwart that desire.

Here’s how we stop them. We make our voices heard in the media, write our opinions to editors, and share them among our personal and social contacts. We do not become confused by political advertising designed to frighten and deter our determination to bring to our citizens a health care system commensurate with every other industrialized nation (among whom the US now ranks some 37th in health care effectiveness--yes, we have great doctors, great equipment, great hospitals, and yes, people come from overseas to use them—only people who can afford it!).

There is so much timidity among even our elected officials who know that  single-payer is the way of the future. They are afraid of that backlash from an uninformed populace. If we want them to talk about  single-payer, we have to call and write them and encourage them to back real health care reform.

Already there is some change: recent op-eds in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, of all conservative arenas, have opined positively for  single-payer. But much, much more mainstream media are needed to talk about this issue now that we find ourselves between crumbling Scylla and Charybdis, Obama’s ACA and GOP’s AHCA, where both are failing and there is a real chance for real change.

Anyone interested in a revival our chapter of HCA-Humboldt, with the goal of educating the public about  single-payer health care please contact me for information on how we can make an impact in our local area: [email protected]

Patty Harvey
Willow Creek

Trump’s trousers are on fire

Trump lies. He lies a lot. Not that other presidents haven’t lied, they all did, to one degree or another. Obama lied about much, including about US complicity in Syria. But Trump brings new dimensions and purposes. Like other presidents some of his lies might be part of a sneaky political manipulation such as his outrageous lies about voter fraud. That lie might be part of a plan to deny voting rights to large segments of the population.

Maybe. But just as likely it’s another lie to make his win look bigger than it was and when he lies about how many people came to his inauguration, or how much money he’s worth, and other such childish, shaky ego, easily disproved lies that becomes disturbing on a new level. He spouts statistics that he seems to have made up on the spot and later lies about having done so. It’s like catching a greased eel. But don’t tell him any of this, he is the emperor and you’d better like his new clothes or you’re out the door.

So we have this narcissistic, childish emperor who blurts out any and everything that pops into his head, who behaves as though he can do or say anything and it will become an absolute, a dictum spake by royalty and who will have a temper tantrum if you disagree. What will he do to this country? From what we’ve seen, nothing good.

We all, by now, must be aware of the destructive values of his cabinet, an EPA hater to head the EPA, an education sec who will destroy the education system, in fact every pick an exact opposite of what the post requires unless we are living in Alice In Wonderland world with the Mad Hatter calling the shots. He will build a $26 billion wall that will have disastrous results for wildlife and will cause extinctions, he has already started mass, indiscriminate round ups of immigrants/illegals and opened old prisons to hold them in.

Access to government agencies has been shut down from the start, the White House comment line closed, he’s opening doors to an anything goes Wall Street and the fossil fuel folk are happier than pigs in a gourmet trough. The Keystone and DAPL pipelines could slam the world with a climate bomb of disastrous dimensions, except global warning is a Chinese hoax. He said the Keystone will create 28,000 jobs, if you buy that can we talk about that bridge in Brooklyn.

When it comes to foreign policy Trump shouldn’t be allowed near a phone. His irresponsible, infantile behavior with China and Australia are invitations to war. But then he and his buddies want war anyway they can get it. There’s no money maker like a war and the only goal of this administration is money for the rich, starting with Trump. There are boots on the ground in Syria already and more to come.

Trumps three weekends in Palm Beach have cost the taxpayers millions already and much of that goes right into Trumps pocket since his huge coterie stay at Mar-A-Lago. And then there’s the issue of divesting from his business interests so he can’t profit from being president. And Congress is doing nothing about a president who casually breaks ties with the Constitution and laws of the land. If this doesn’t scare you either like Trumps father you’re in the KKK or your head is deep in sand.

Gallup Poll: over 50 percent want  single-payer health care, concern about global warming is at an all time high of 64 percent, 73 percent prioritize alternative energy and 7 in 10 Americans favor giving immigrants a chance to stay.

The majority of citizens do not share Trumps twisted values of hate and greed. The majority supported Bernie Sanders and still do. We the people were blind to what the Democratic Party did and blind to the years of undoing of safeguards like Wall Street regulations, environmental safeguards and more and now we’re in deep whoopus and the whole ball of yarn is unraveling. We must move fast to clear the swamp, to sweep out the White House and clean up Congress and end corporate ownership of our country.

The whole world is watching us in shock and came out and marched with us on January 21 worldwide. Our work is cut out for us but the stakes are higher than they’ve ever been and time is not on our side.

Sylvia De Rooy

Pancake Breakfast thanks

The Arcata High School Career & College Center would like to thank our wonderful Humboldt County community for supporting our 10th annual pancake breakfast, held on Saturday March 4 to raise funds to support the center, and in memory of the center’s founder, Jackie Foote.

We appreciate the several hundred guests who joined us for the breakfast, and especially our business and community sponsors and volunteers including Aalfs, Evans and Company, LLP, Alyson Hunter, Arcata High School Interact, Arcata Mad River Ambulance, Arcata Property Management, Arny King, Bruce McFarland, Coast Central Credit Union, Cypress Grove Chèvre, Edward Jones--Bryan Plumley, Foote Family, Glenn Tinsheth Tax Consultant, Health Sport, Humboldt Live!, Hunter, Hunter & Hunt, LLP, Jackson & Eklund, Jeff Stebbins, Jessica McKnight, Kinetic Koffee, Kokatat, Linda Sundberg Insurance, Lost Coast Rotaract, Matt Babich, Meredith Hyland, Plaza Professionals, LLC, Remax Humboldt Realty, Romi & Glenn Hitchcock Tinseth, Rotary Club of Arcata Noon, Rotary Club of Arcata Sunrise, Safeway, Scott Hunt, Shady Lady, Soroptimist International of Arcata, Sun Valley Flowers, Susan Hansen, SwagTag, Terri Clark & Marty Lay, Tigers Inc., Trish Barsanti D.D.S., Vaissade Mortgage Company, and Wildberries Marketplace.

Thank you for your support of our work to help students plan for their next steps after high school.

Alyson Hunter, Meredith Hyland, Arny King, Jim Ritter, Darcy Robins, and Jeff Stebbins
The 2017 C & CC Pancake Breakfast Committee



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