Letters to the Editor, August 1, 2018

Citation needed for Arcata Plaza claim

At an unfortunate time in our history when the salience of facts and expertise are too often ignored in the making of public policy, it  is to be hoped that the vote on the McKinley statue will be based on the soundness of evidence not the volume of ones argument.

It ought be stipulated, and I will return to this in greater detail in a future letter, that no one doubts the horrors committed against Native Americans in California in the mid-19th century. What occurred can be considered nothing less than genocide; the state’s governor used the word “extermination.” How that relates to McKinley is the bone of contention we begin to examine.

So let us commence the dialogue on the future of the statue with the very first statement made by those wishing to remove it. I quote, “The McKinley statue does not belong as the centerpiece of the Arcata Plaza, the same place that served as the auction site for enslaved Indigenous children, women and men…”

Fhyre Phoenix has contended the same as has Ms. Madison of the Wiyot tribe in a nationally televised interview.

My request is a simple one: where is your evidence? I think it only fair to ask for some proof that such auctions took place in the center of Arcata.

I await your reply to this initial query as we begin our discussion.

Bob Holcomb

Correcting the Humboldt Bay Trail record

The Humboldt Trails Council is writing this letter to clarify The Mad River Union headline of July 4 which reads, “Grand Jury: ‘Significant danger’ for Bay Trail users.”

It is a very misleading headline and reports that the main safety concerns are with the temporary section of the trail between Arcata’s Bay Trail North, that ends at Bracut, and Eureka’s Water Front Trail that ends behind Target. The misunderstanding is that there is no trail, temporary or otherwise, between these two points.

The County of Humboldt intends to construct a trail between the Arcata and Eureka trails to complete the Humboldt Bay Trail, with construction beginning in 2021. In the meantime it has been determined that there is not a safe way to construct a temporary trail to fill the gap. That means that riding along Highway 101 between these two points is the same as riding along any four-lane section of Highway 101. The same rules apply, and the same element of danger exists.

The Grand Jury Report also expressed concern that “efforts of the Volunteer Trail Stewards (VTS) to keep the trails clean, remove trash and clear excess plant growth are impacted by an insufficient number of regular volunteers.”

The Humboldt Trails Council, which is the support base for the Volunteer Trails Stewards program, noted that 665 volunteers of all ages contributed 2,646 hours of service through VTS to support our local trails in 2017.

The VTS efforts do make a huge difference and are greatly appreciated. If you would like to join a group of great volunteers go to humtrails.org.

Kemset Moore

DO THE RIGHT THING – an open letter to HSU

Let’s be honest – KHSU is in dire straits resulting from seriously bad management – a lack of team-building and leadership leading to an inexplicable firing, a toxic work environment, and historically low staff morale. Community confidence and financial support is at an all-time rock bottom. I can’t fathom a KHSU pledge drive in this atmosphere. I can’t fathom working in the face of continued dismissive and abusive behavior from those in power. Only dedicated staff and volunteers are keeping the station afloat – and their love of community radio shines through.


The KHSU Community Advisory Board (CAB) issued a vote of no confidence last month for current General Manager Peter Fretwell. He needs to be let go – PLEASE DO THE RIGHT THING and demand his resignation!

University Advancement appears to have the decision-making power (including hiring/firing) and a hidden agenda for KHSU. Lack of transparency is troubling and only fuels rumors. Management structure needs to change. PLEASE DO THE RIGHT THING and transition to a diverse and representative Board of Directors as KHSU’s governing body.

Numerous staff complaints and accounts of harassment and disrespect are symptomatic of bigger issues. PLEASE DO THE RIGHT THING – in consultation with the CAB, contract an outside and neutral forensic organizational audit of the station’s culture and structure.

Those of us on the front lines have experienced manipulation, lack of good faith dialogue, and back room dealings. PLEASE DO THE RIGHT THING – accept that change is inevitable, that solutions need to come from our community, and that your long-held power over KHSU is over.

Finally – you have broken trust with CAB members, staff, volunteers, and the community. Regaining respect can come only from walking the walk – talk is cheap rhetoric and broken promises. PLEASE DO THE RIGHT THING – listen to us with an open mind. We have lived in this community long enough to know how important community radio is to our health here on the North Coast. KHSU concerned members are a bottom up (NOT top down) and grass roots movement. Our community concerns are NOT going away – you cannot make over the station in your image.

PLEASE DO THE RIGHT THING! Step back, step down, hand back the reins to the community that is KHSU.

Hélène Rouvier, Member, KHSU Community Advisory Board

Hurtful and harmful to our amazing KHSU

I am very disappointed, yet again, in the conduct of administration of Humboldt State University in relation to KHSU and the listening community.

Wednesday, July 25 was the monthly meeting of the KHSU Community Advisory Board. Over 50 community members attended. One community member made the point that those present took time to come out during the dinner hour to be there, expressing just how important this meeting was.

There were new faces as well as committed listeners and volunteers present. Many who spoke shared their professional credentials highlighting what makes this such a unique diverse community to live in, raise our families in.

At the direction of Vice President of Advancement Craig Wruck KHSU, General Manager Peter Fretwell was absent. Mr. Wruck suggested that it was not in Mr. Fretwell’s best interest to be at the meeting since the way he has been treated by the community is hurtful. What about the hurt that Mr. Fretwell has caused?

The disrespect exhibited by Mr. Wruck was hurtful. Again he demonstrated a lack of knowledge and understanding of the community in which he lives. He spoke down to all of us. His responses tended towards defensive and dismissive. He demonstrated a lack of understanding of what has gone into and continues to go into keeping KHSU on the air for 58 years.

I hope that he grasped the collective experience in radio, academia, community involvement... that was in the room. Unfortunately I think he remains clueless. And worst, lacks caring.

Thank you to all who came out and spoke up. We are all in this together. Together we will make sure that the station that we support with time, money and effort continues to be the hybrid model we depend on for music, local public affairs programming, public safety as well as national and international programming.

Please keep speaking out! Community input is what makes KHSU the amazing and unique diverse community radio station that it is, and with our efforts always will be.

Jana L Kirk-Levine
KHSU Community Advisory Board Member

Locked out of misogynist KHSU

It is no secret that I have been openly critical of KHSU General Manager Peter Fretwell’s horrible management style.

Most of you probably don’t yet know that Craig Wruck has informed KHSU staff that Mr. Fretwell is here to stay, in spite of a vote of no confidence by KHSU’s Community Advisory Board.

I find that decision disturbing. Having spoken to various staff members I know that morale at the station is pretty miserable, and lack of communication is a growing and alienating issue.

In addition, Mr. Wruck’s aggressive behavior towards KHSU office manager Lorna Bryant in a recent staff meeting is unconscionable, extremely disturbing, and smacks of racism and misogyny.

I, too, have had a recent unsettling experience with KHSU management. Though I am critical of KHSU management and HSU administration, I am still supportive of KHSU, the station.

Some know that I volunteered with KHSU’s program, Through the Eyes of Women, for 4 1/2 years, all that time as a host, four of those years also working as engineer and editor, and 3 1/2 years as executive producer.

I helped to firmly establish a consistent online presence for TTEOW, improving access to and listenership of the program through the TTEOW blog. I spent nearly every Monday in the studio either hosting, engineering, editing, finalizing the show for airing or some combination of all four. I also spent time with KHSU’s Homepage, now known as The Magazine.

I took an hiatus from volunteering for the station a couple of years ago fully intending to return. I had been talking with both Katie Whiteside and Jessica Eden during the last six months about coming back, finally finding my motivation about a week before Katie Whiteside was fired. I emailed Katie with the news that I had secured a commitment from author Barbara Kingsolver only to find that Katie had been abruptly fired.

I continued to talk with Jessica Eden about returning to TTEOW and doing grant supported production work for the station. Since Katie’s firing I have also secured interviews with author Amy Stewart, interim president of the Eureka NAACP Sharonne Blanck, HSU faculty advisor to the bilingual student run paper, El Leñador, Andrea Juarez, and have made preliminary contact with people active in the Humboldt County chapter of Centro del Pueblo and am hoping to hear back from #MeToo founder Tarana Burke.

HOWEVER, I found out on Friday July 21, 2018 that Mr. Fretwell, along with HSU VP for Advancement Craig Wruck, with the support of HSU President Lisa Rossbacher, denied me a key card to access the KHSU studios. In addition, staff received no instruction to inform me of this decision, nor was I contacted by any of those administrators. I found out because, with a scheduled interview for Aug. 3, 2018, I called and asked.

Until Friday I was confident that I remained a volunteer in good standing, welcome to return to KHSU and provide great content for the station and community I care so deeply about. There has been no explanation as to why my key card was denied while another volunteer’s was approved.

It is clear to me that things are worsening steadily at KHSU; and very interesting to me that the worst behavior seems directed at strong-willed women, first Katie Whiteside, then Lorna Bryant, another woman associated with KHSU and me.

Concerned community members should continue to contact Mr. Fretwell, Mr. Wruck and Dr. Rossbacher along with the CSU Chancellor’s office, local state and federal representatives, and Governor Brown about the deteriorating management of KHSU.

Kathleen Marshall, BSRN

The Village’ – a worthy housing opportunity


It was my honor to serve as Chair of the Arcata Planning Commission during the creation of the Arcata General Plan 2020, and again from 2003-2007. I currently serve as chair of the Trinidad Planning Commission.

The property currently being considered for “The Village” project had been the object of much discussion prior to and during the GP2020 hearings. Former Arcata Mayor Victor Schaub and I often discussed the best use of the property.

For a variety of reasons, including proximity to HSU and the cost of environmental clean-up, we felt the best use of the property would be high density apartments. This would provide for the growth of HSU’s student body, and be consistent with Arcata’s policy of in-filling. The projected cost to clean up the site, as well as its proximity to US101, ruled out using it for single-family housing.

Unfortunately, the owners of the property were not interested in requesting a zone change, likely due to fear of the cost of the environmental cleanup, and the property has been allowed to remain underutilized, and one could argue “blighted” to this day.

Arcata is a unique city in many ways. One of those ways is the ratio of college students to full-time residents. No city in California has such a high percentage of college students as Arcata. It is truly a “college town.”

Unfortunately, there has always been a level of disconnect between the administrators of Humboldt State University and the City government. Cooperation on basic topics of mutual interest such as land use planning have been non-existent.

Humboldt State University is at a crossroads. It is struggling financially, and there has been very little growth in the number of students attending. The lack of growth in the number of students is uncommon for state universities.

For some years, the state has been looking at HSU and asking whether the funds used to keep it open might be better served going elsewhere.

Let’s not kid ourselves, without HSU, Arcata is a town of 2,000 or so underemployed mill-workers. It is the driving economic force in Arcata, as well as northern Humboldt County.

Some people assume that HSU will always be here. Many assumed that about HSU’s Nursing Program, or HSU’s Football Program. Just because you don’t read stories about HSU’s possible closure, doesn’t mean that discussions about this are not happening. They just aren’t happening in Humboldt County. We have no seats at that table.

An opportunity has been given to you that will allow for the growth of HSU’s student body without the University asking the state to build another set of new dorms on the campus.

The project fulfills a longstanding City policy of in-filling, and it turns an underutilized and arguably blighted property into something that benefits both the City and the University. This is likely the best offer the City will receive.

It is my understanding that the developer of The Village has made numerous changes to the original project to address concerns of nearby neighbors and the City. It appears that every time the project has been changed to address those concerns, a new set of concerns suddenly appears. This particular developer appears to have bent over backwards.

At some point any developer will ask whether the project “pencils out.” Don’t let this opportunity pass by.

John Garland Graves

The Village – a major labor fail

July 26, 2018
To: Mayor Sophia Perreira, Arcata City Council, HSU President Lisa Rossbacher
From: Building and Construction Trades Council of Humboldt and Del Norte Counties

It has come to the attention of Building and Construction Trades Council of Humboldt and Del Norte Counties, that Humboldt State University is entering into a partnership with AMCAL and Coleraine Capital to circumvent states laws on prevailing wages.

We believe that this project is an underhanded end-run around state labor law that protects workers and the community.

This is an affront to our community and our membership, a large number of whom work for the City of Arcata.

We urge you to reject this project, which hurts local workers, avoids state guidelines for hiring women and minorities, and does not build to the safety standards required of a dorm.

Humboldt State has an obligation to operate transparently and in the best interests of the community. They are failing to uphold their responsibilities to students, their parents and local workers.

The Building Trades Council will be conducting an investigation into the partnership and agreements for this development. We strongly urge the council not to approve this potentially illegal project.

Jeff Hunerlach, secretary-treasurer
Building and Construction Trades Council of Humboldt and Del Norte Counties

Saving Trinidad’s Neighborhoods

The Grand Jury Trinidad Vacation Rental Report – A Critique and Challenge

The following remarks do not necessarily reflect the views of the Trinidad City Council as a whole, and are intended only to exercise my First Amendment right to voice my personal opinions.

The Humboldt County Grand Jury report states that it had determined that an investigation into the Trinidad STR Ordinance was warranted after consideration of “points raised by Trinidad residents.”

While not named in the report, it can be surmised from a local blog post on July 1 and an email sent to the city manager and members of the City Council on July 12 that the “Trinidad residents” who requested the investigation were members of a citizen group called “Save Trinidad Neighborhoods.”

I urge readers to take a look at the entire Grand Jury report at kymkemp.com/2018/07/01/humboldt-county-civil-grand-jury-investigates-vacation-rental-issues-in-trinidad/ and the “Save Trinidad Neighborhoods” comment (14th comment from the top) which follows it. This comment is representative of emails received on a regular basis by City Council members and staff.

I have spent six years on the City Council. Prior to moving to Trinidad I had served on the Southern Humboldt Unified School District Board of Trustees for a dozen years. I am proud to have had the privilege of serving my communities in these capacities, as do thousands of California citizens each year. I take my job of representing all the citizens of Trinidad, including every member of “Save our Trinidad Neighborhoods,” seriously.

To state the obvious, each council member has only one vote. The only real power an individual council member has is the capacity to influence the votes of the other members through persuasion and debate in open session.

Similarly, whatever power the collective council possesses is dependent upon maintaining the continued trust and confidence of the majority of its constituents. The ultimate measure of this confidence (or lack thereof) is expressed by citizens at the ballot box.

There is an upcoming election on November 6. The last day to apply as a candidate for one of the three seats available on the Trinidad City Council is August 10.

I challenge “Save Trinidad Neighborhoods” to put forward three resident members of its group to run for those seats.

If there is, in fact, the citizen support of their platform that they claim, they will have a majority vote on the council and will immediately be able to begin the implementation of everything they have been advocating for.

I doubt that they will do so, since it would also mean that they might actually have to govern rather than simply cast aspersions and innuendo. I hope I will be proven wrong.

As far as a critique of the Grand Jury Report itself, I offer the following data and observations:

1. The title of the report, “A Tale of Two Cities,” does not reflect the reality of life in Trinidad if the implication is that there is widespread discontent among Trinidad citizens over the STR issue. Trinidad’s 2016 population was 359 permanent residents. “Save our Trinidad Neighborhoods” routinely lists no more than eight residents in its correspondence. That is 2.2 percent of the total population. To be charitable, it is 3.1 percent of the total number of registered voters (255) in the City, still hardly an indication of a Trinidad replay of the French Revolution.

2. Current data indicates that the STR ordinance is accomplishing its goals. There were three fewer STR licenses issued this year than in the first year of the ordinance implementation. The number of allowable guests in residential zones has been reduced by 26 due to property sales and lower allowable occupancy rates.

3. A year ago, Councilmember Jack West and I offered to independently investigate, as an ad hoc council subcommittee, the issues which “Save our Trinidad Neighborhoods” had documented through their public records requests. We met with members of the group several times and issued our report to the council and the public at the March 14, 2018 council meeting.

Despite the fact that our report offered more detailed criticisms and suggestions for improvements in the ongoing implementation of the STR ordinance than did the Grand Jury report, it was apparently completely ignored by the Grand Jury during its “investigation.”

I would appreciate an explanation of why that occurred and why no City Council members were included in the secret interview process undertaken by the Grand Jury.

Jim Baker
Trinidad City Councilmember

Local gov’t’s OK clean energy

Humboldt County residents can see the impacts of global climate change changes that we see in the form of drought, wildfire and the threat of sea level rise.

We are also aware that we can’t expect help from the federal government with the current administration withdrawing from the Paris Accord and actively dismantling the Environmental Protection Agency. Clearly, if we are going to do something about climate change it is going to have to be at the state and local level where the people rise up and put pressure on their representatives to commit to decrease emissions of greenhouse gases from fossil fuel combustion.

We at 350 Humboldt, a local affiliate of 350.org, the international climate action organization started by Bill McKibben, have been working with local city councils and community services districts to pass resolutions for a rapid transition to 100 percent renewable energy. We know that this is doable because we have abundant sources of energy and we have many local leaders committed to renewables.

Showing great leadership for the rest of the country, the City Councils of Eureka and Arcata and the McKinleyville Community Services District have passed 100 percent Renewable Resolutions in recent months and will be joining a growing list of cities and counties, 74 so far committing to a transition away from the fossil fuel energy of the past to the renewable energy of the future that will benefit us all and we applaud them!

Mary Sanger, 350 Humboldt

Where was Super-Trump?

I can recall that back in February after the guard remained outside during the Parkland high school shooting, President Trump remarked that he would have run into the school even if he didn’t have a weapon.

So why, despite the fact he had several weeks to act, didn’t he volunteer to personally rescue the trapped soccer team in Thailand?

Perhaps he thought traversing the required 15-inch-wide passage was a bit too daunting even for his self-proclaimed abilities.

Sherman Schapiro
Blue Lake


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