Quick quiz for new students
The statue in the Arcata Plaza depicts which U. S. president?
A. Millard Fillmore
B. Rutherford B. Hayes
C. Grover Cleveland
D. None of the above
The reason we have a statue to this U. S. president is:
A. He was born in Arcata
B. He donated money to build Founders Hall
C. He discovered Humboldt Bay
D. I have no idea
Scholarship vs. propaganda
In my last letter I challenged removal proponents to provide some evidence of their opening claim that Native American women, men and children were auctioned off where the statue of McKinley has stood for over a century. Still waiting for proof of this assertion.
Fhyre? Ms. Madison? Any signatory of the Rebuttal Argument?
I realize it is easier to make claims than back them up but shouldn’t we try to hold ourselves, in the words of the mayor, “to the high standard of using factual information to the best of (our) ability.”
Over the course of the coming weeks, I will offer factual material about William McKinley and his administration. I will try to honestly synthesize the conclusions of historians and political scientists who have written about him over the past six decades.
But I wouldn’t want you to take my word as gospel any more than I would wish you to believe the ahistorical arguments of the other side!
No, I would urge you to read for yourself what the real scholars have written and decide whether that squares with the portrait painted by the “scholars” on the Arcata City Council.
Aren’t we learning that ignoring expertise has consequences?
So, if you are the type of person persuaded more by scholarship than propaganda, let me suggest any of the following historical works to obtain an accurate understanding of McKinley and his times:
1. In The Days of McKinley by Margaret Leech
2. William McKinley and His America by H. Wayne Morgan
3. The Presidency of William McKinley by Lewis Gould
4. William McKinley: The American Presidents Series by Kevin Phillips
5. President McKinley: Architect of the American Century by Robert W. Merry
The last two are available in our local library.
What was the character of this man, McKinley?
Vainglorious or humble?
Impetuous or deliberative?
Racist or anti-slavery patriot?
Liar or a man of probity?
Why not check out any of his biographers and learn the truth? Because facts are a stubborn thing.
A symbol of a fearful past
I was born in Humboldt County, and I have no emotional or nostalgic attachment to the McKinley statue on the Arcata Plaza. However, I understand that we all find attachment and belonging through different memories in our lives, and we often attach these memories to places or objects. Because of this I know that many folks who have lived in Arcata their whole lives may feel sentimental towards the statue of McKinley on the Plaza.
The question of its historical significance and how it affects us today is not a new debate. This conversation has been happening for decades. However, in the wake of David Josiah Lawson’s murder in April of 2017, I believe we need to make a connection of how our nostalgic imagery relates to histories of colonialism, racism and oppression, and how these images relate to what is happening now in our communities.
The exclusion of black and brown students, the widespread poverty and health disparities on tribal lands, and Josiah Lawson’s tragically lost life are examples of how our history of oppression lives on today.
But how does the McKinley statue have any relation to this, you may ask. The glorification of American presidents diminishes the historical damage that was done to people of color during these times. It’s important to remember that what we call Arcata today was once Wiyot territory, and leaders like McKinley represent the displacement and murder of folks indigenous to this land.
Moreover, those of us who are listening and paying attention know that the youth of color who move here to attend Humboldt State University have long expressed feelings of alienation and fear in this community. As a white woman who was born in Humboldt County, I choose to listen to these people and take them at their word.
When young people are talking about feeling profiled, discriminated against, and uncomfortable in my community, I will do what I need to listen and make space for them to feel more welcomed. If we could see the removal of the McKinley statue as a way to hold witness for the years of pain and grief youth of color have felt, then I think we could begin heading towards a more inclusive, cohesive and loving community.
If nothing else, I invite you to see the removal of the McKinley statue as the ending of one chapter and the beginning of the next, one which welcomes and supports young students and people of color.
Alarming Village issues
August 8, 2018
Sofia Pereira, Mayor
City of Arcata
736 F Street
Arcata, CA 95521
Re: The Village Student Housing
Project-City Council Consideration
Dear Ms. Pereira,
The Construction Industry Force Account Council (CIFAC) is a construction industry supported non-profit organization dedicated to Public Contract Code compliance and education. We promote competitive bidding on public works construction projects using a transparent and objective process.
It has come to my attention that the City Council will be voting on whether to allow the Village Student Housing project to commence construction. I have been following the discussions at meetings, project proposals and media reporting on this project and wish to express my concern. I understand the desire for increased student housing and do not wish to halt any construction work, however, I feel that the recent media attention surrounding the project points to some alarming facts.
It is my understanding that this project will be financed and constructed by a private developer, with the possibility of future acquisition by Humboldt State University. When private developers construct these types of buildings, they do not comply with the California Public Contract Code. This is of great concern, as the Public Contract Code is an established, integral system designed to provide safeguards for all parties involved: the agency, the public and the contractors. Included in the code are advertising requirements that ensures transparency and a level playing field; bonding requirements that ensures the contractor will perform work according to the plans and specifications, ensures suppliers and subcontractors are paid appropriately; non-collusion declaration requirements which ensures no collusive activities have taken place; public bid opening requirements which ensures transparency; subcontractor protections which protects subcontractors and the public bidding process from unethical substitutions, bid shopping & bid peddling and contract award to the lowest responsible bidder which ensures the public getting the best project for the best value.
The basis of the code is to ensure transparency and accountability of government and to protect agencies from any allegations or perception of wrongdoing. If Humboldt State University pursues a new student housing building, they would be required to publicly bid the project and award the contract to the lowest responsible bidder in compliance with the project plans and specifications. They would also be required to pay the appropriate state prevailing wages to construction workers. When private developers build these projects, they are not required to follow state bidding and wage laws, which ultimately hurts our local economy and local workforce. There are numerous case studies reflecting the benefits of public contracting and the payment of prevailing wages.
My main concern is that the University has a stake in this project but is claiming to have no affiliations, with the intention of circumventing state laws. Email correspondences between the developer and University staff clearly show that there is a relationship and that the University wants this project to move forward. Again, I understand the need for housing but wish to caution an agency from pursuing a project with the intention of skirting public contracting laws. I would like to add that the Department of Industrial Relations is currently investigating the Vista Student Housing project at Stanislaus State constructed by AmCal, after a wage complaint was filed from a concerned party.
I kindly ask that you do not approve this project so that the University is held responsible for student needs and compliance with State procurement laws. Please contact me if you have any questions at (209) 770-1283.
CIFAC Executive Director