Letters to the Editor, Special Disappointment Edition, Nov. 15, 2017

Disappointed that article not published

As a long-time subscriber to the Union, I have appreciated its refreshing candor and thoroughness. So I was surprised and extremely disappointed to learn of Paul Mann’s resignation and even more distressed to learn of its cause.

I have read Paul’s article/interview with Zera Starchild and I was at the UU Fellowship when she spoke. What she has to say – and the straightforward way she says it – is vitally important for our community. She is always well-spoken, sincere and thoughtful.

We white liberals, as we work on our racism, need to hear her experiences and her viewpoint.

I am not going to cancel my subscriptions now, but I will be reading and watching carefully.

Thank you,
Pat McCutcheon
Sunny Brae

(Last month the Mad River Union was offered an unsolicited, single-source article from a freelance writer, intended for placement in the news section of the paper. The story consisted entirely of the opinions of one community activist. The article failed to meet basic journalistic standards, was incomplete and not appropriate for the news section. Rather than present as news a writer’s thoughts about her thoughts, we’ve invited Zera Starchild to submit an unfiltered guest opinion in her own words for the Union (as the letter-writers here have done), for placement in the Opinion section. That’s a standing invitation for everyone. The Union publishes a diversity of views from all segments of the community – check them out in the Opinion section of madriverunion.com. As always, all we ask is that any submissions be signed with a real name and include contact information. Send submissions to [email protected]. – Ed.)

Is silence golden in Arcata?

Concerning your Nov. 8, 2017 editorial, “Beyond butcher paper activism,” I agree that we could wallpaper the entire City Hall with all the paper produced from this year’s many city meetings. But at the same time, I do feel that the actual solutions can be found within these bright ideas and proposals that have been offered by concerned and proactive community members.

I disagree with you that the only solution is increased policing. Real world action happens when community members and businesses join with city staff to make things happen – the new Greenview Park, spearheaded by a determined and persistent Daniel Bixler; the extensive work days contributed by Trail Stewards, under the direction of city employee, Dennis Houghton; John Shelter’s New Directions group that cleans out encampments.

But a difficulty with a collaborative approach, and a component that your editorial fails to mention, is that the Arcata city staff reorganization from two years ago resulted in the elimination of over 10 positions at City Hall.

This has put a tremendous strain on the remaining personnel to cover those extra duties, and many things are falling through the cracks. Emails and phone calls are ignored and the community in turn gets more and more frustrated. 

With this huge reduction and reorganization of staff, the remaining personnel need to be focused, responsive, efficient and collaborative. I’m not sure that this is happening.

I am an advocate for the Valley West neighborhood, and we also had well-attended Visioning Workshops back in February and May of 2017.  Our six typed pages of concerns and suggestions were delivered to City Council members and city staff, with little action six to nine  months afterwards. 

For example, trash cans and bus benches at bus stops in Valley West seem to be easy requests to accommodate, but the city has decided to ignore these requests.  Instead, locals and Motel Row visitors get to see streets covered in trash and cigarette butts.

Even when I brought up the fact that ALL the bus benches in Arcata are not ADA compliant (because they do not have backs), back in August, I never heard back from City staff. Has silence become golden in Arcata?

Over the last few months I have been called “bitchy” and “passive aggressive” by two separate City Council members. But this has not and will not deter me from actively working on positive solutions in Valley West (Adopt-a-Block to pick up trash, reporting abandoned vehicles, trail improvement at Carlson Park, pursuing Movies in the Park, Farmers’ Market, Health Fair, etc.).

I push on because it is not about me, it is about the safety and well being of the hard working residents, businesses, and schools that are trying to keep things together under very difficult circumstances.  The city needs to actually listen to input from their constituents, make priority items happen, and get itself out of its downwardly spiraling vortex. 

Lucy Salazar

How change happens

In the age of alternative facts we need go no further than our own community that can unwittingly fall for some hype promulgated from outside the area. Mad River Union’s article on the switch over from the Bayside Grange to Bayside Community Hall contained a few.

While it is true that Grange dues are sent to the state and national parts of the organization, it is not true that National Grange policies are necessarily aligned with the Trump administration or that the Grange is in the pocket of Agribusiness.

FACT: In convention this week, the National Grange adopted all of the California State Grange’s platform which supports organic agriculture, as well as increased funding for organic programs in the 2018 Farm Bill. That’s not something we think of Agribusiness. This platform was adopted unanimously at the state grange convention in June and promoted at the national convention by Ed Komski, California State Grange President.

How does this happen? Organic farmers have joined the Grange, a democratic institution, in droves. So the votes were there to pass it.

Was there resistance from the old time Grangers? Not a bit. All were happy to see change supported by their Brother and Sister Grangers.

If you don’t like an organization’s policy, don’t quit. Get to work within it. The Grange, with its 150 year history of fighting for rural America, speaks with a venerable voice in Washington and has the potential to effect change in the entire USA.  It has a national structure and can mobilize the grassroots. But you have to join to be part of it, and show up to be counted. That’s how change happens.

Michael Evenson
Grange Member

County must declare shelter crisis

Homelessness continues to be a serious problem in Humboldt County. Rural homelessness is diverse. People from all walks of life, including families with children, employed and unemployed workers, elderly residents, veterans, students, disabled individuals, youth and individuals are impacted by homelessness.

Every community reports homelessness to be a challenge. Bigger communities often note the lack of affordable housing and essential supports (mental health, addictions, domestic violence) to be a major challenge in addressing homelessness. In rural centers, this issue is even more acute. There simply is not enough funding and service capacity to offer diverse supports needed.

Lance Morton, a member of the Human Rights Commission, recently stated that there is no political will to solve the homeless problem.

Lynette Mullin, homeless services program manager, recently concluded in her report to the Human Rights Commission that there was NO COMPREHENSIVE HOUSING STRATEGY.

There is a shortage of affordable housing in Humboldt County. Affordable Housing units have multiple problems. New housing developments are slow to be built with complex zoning laws. The shortage of affordable housing leaves many eligible residents on long waiting lists for subsidized housing. The partnerships are often with private real estate developers in the profit sector which makes low wage earners unable to afford the new housing developments.

Transitioning from temporary to permanent housing is difficult due to the shortage of affordable housing.

People are upset about the encampments and people on the street – whether it is because they feel sorry for them or because they do not like them.

Tiny house villages and sanctuary camps are a necessary intermediary step until enough affordable housing can be built.

I urge the Board of Supervisors to place a Shelter Crisis Declaration on the agenda. Doing so will allow public input and discussion for the lack of housing for homeless individuals and families in Humboldt County.

Winchell Dillenbeck
AHHA Boardmember

Arcata Main Street thanks

Arcata Main Street thanks all those who came our Halloween Trick or Treat in Downtown Arcata on Tuesday, Oct. 31. The Plaza and the surrounding areas were filled with Trick or Treaters and their parents all in costumes from 4 to 6 p.m.

The downtown merchants passed out lots of candy and other goodies. The Marching Lumberjacks started the event off at 4 p.m., leading a group to the Plaza.  Radio station KRFH, 105.1, from HSU played music on the Plaza. The Giant Puppets from Arcata Playhouse, Russ, the Bubble Ambassador, Ericat and her juggling friends, and Zach Pitnik, a musician from HSU, all entertained the crowd.  Eva Brena and her hip-hop students wowed everyone with their Thriller routine. We also want to thank the Arcata Volunteer Police Patrol, the Arcata Fire District and the Student California Teacher’s Association volunteers for all their help and participation.

We also owe a big thank you to Shoshanna, the Halloween Fairy, and the Arcata Chamber of Commerce for their help in taking pictures of her with costumed Trick or Treaters.  North Bay Roteract also held their First Harvest Festival on the Plaza at the same time; their participation added greatly to the festivities.

Again, thank you again to everyone involved.

Victoria Joyce
Arcata Main Street


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