Letters to the Editor, August 19, 2020

Fully fund the Arcata Fire Dept.

I live in an Arcata county/city border area and a few years ago, before Coffee Creek and Paradise were destroyed — back when our local station was always in operation and the firefighters there were an everyday sight, training, washing the engines, and heroically responding whenever emergencies arose — some young adolescents in the neighborhood were experimenting (as youths will always do) with fire in a local field full of dry summer grass.

 When this dangerous foolishness was reported by a concerned citizen, the local fire truck showed up just as the boys began to lose control of their experiment. They were frozen with awe as the firefighters in their turnout gear went into action. 

These caring local heroes not only showed those youngsters the meaning of efficient blue-collar public service, but spent a good 20 minutes questioning and sternly-but-sensitively “counseling” these kids about the true dangers of what they were doing and the unintended consequences that were possible if they continued to amuse themselves this way. 

To follow up, the ranking officer at the station made house calls to reinforce with the boys’ parents what they had told the boys. They did this in such a professional-yet-part-of-the-community way that I’m sure the parents were grateful and the boys have life-long personal heroes. 

I don’t know, but I would not be surprised if one or more of them went on to be a firefighter or do some other blue-collar community service work. They certainly did not light any more fires in the neighborhood!

This feeling among community-members of all ages that these uniformed public servants are part of the neighborhood, a reliable part of our everyday lives, is one of the most important things that is lost when firehouses become sometimes-used buildings with anonymous workers moving in and out according to a schedule that no one really knows. 

When fully funded, the invaluable work of this honored neighborhood institution goes on even while the firefighters themselves are getting their well-deserved rest—day and night the people of the community, the moms and dads, the grandparents and the children know and feel that they are there and that the neighborhood is being protected in a way that requires the caring, training, strength and courage of everyday fire-fighters in the neighborhood fire station. 

This feeling of reliable safety is priceless. It is all taxpayers’ urgent responsibility to our community and its families to fund them fully.

 Michael Bickford
Arcata

Needless harassment

This week, I got a traffic citation just 2 blocks from my house. 

I was driving up a hill and north on a small one-way street (Eastern) and made a right turn at a stop sign there (onto Sunset Avenue), going east. 

At that particular intersection, no cars can approach from the left (as that section of Sunset is also a one-way, west of the Eastern intersection). 

It is very safe to make a right at this particular stop sign, as there is never anybody coming your way from any direction. It is a small side street that barely anybody uses. 

When I drive up that small side street, I slow down and exercise the “right on red” traffic rules when I see that nobody is coming... and that there are no animals crossing the street. 

Despite the fact that the right turn I was making was being done in a safe manner, the police officer chose to give me a citation. 

Because people are experiencing particularly challenging times at the moment (due to COVID-19 and the general socio-political environment), I felt that it was wrong for the police officer (Chris Rogers, badge #42) to issue this citation. 

I was literally less than two blocks from my house. I have lived in this neighborhood for 17 years... and I know how the traffic flows in the neighborhood. I am a safe driver and I am never in trouble with the law about anything. 

For a sensible person who is driving safely, it is not appropriate to be given a traffic ticket. 

Not only did I find that it was inappropriate for this officer to give me a citation, but I felt quite hassled by being pulled over. 

The general sentiment around police officers is not very positive at the moment... and this kind of unnecessary harassment in my own neighborhood is uncalled for. 

The police officer could have had a reasonable conversation with me and chosen to give me a warning if he was really concerned about the turn safety at that intersection. To me, it felt like he was actually just looking for “some” reason to give a person a ticket. 

I told him how safe the slow right turn on that street is... and that I would be sure to be even more careful in the future. 

I do not have the money to be dealing with this kind of unnecessary cost and I am trying to contest it. 

But because the courts are closed due to COVID-19, contesting this ticket has shown itself to be an even more difficult process than normal. 

I feel that the ticket was illegitimately given and I do not have money to be throwing away on needless citations. 

I do not want my tax dollars going to a police force that is harassing law abiding citizens… and I surely do not want to give the courts money for needless illegitimate citations that are only given so that a police officer can make some bogus quota. 

The police have been an oppressive unwanted force in cities all over the US, especially this year. We don’t need that kind of bullshit here. Arcata has been able to be a visionary example of positivity in so many other areas (with our preservation of the Arcata Community Forest, with our organic health food stores and bountiful farmers markets, with the progressive way we handle our gray water, and with the support of our thriving arts community). 

The worst “crime” I have ever experienced in my neighborhood is a college streaker in the middle of the night once (years ago). To me, that was funny… and probably something of a harmless college prank. Not a real “crime.” 

Because we have so little real crime here, it seems that this Arcata police officer was just looking to find something to keep himself busy. I’m sure he’s not the only one of the Arcata police officers that is operating in this same manner. 

Seriously, our tax dollars could be much better spent on resources for the homeless… or for helping homeowners like me (who need to repair a roof and could use real economic help with other basic home improvements). 

Obviously, the Arcata Police force is over-staffed if one of their officers has to harass a contributing community member who is safely driving just two blocks from their home. 

Rather than being “keepers of the peace,” cops have become “disturbers of the peace”… and this is simply not OK. 

Trish “The Dish” Riel
Arcata

Note: The citation was issued for failure to stop at a stop sign, which the writer acknowledges having done: “I always slow down to an almost full stop before turning right onto Sunset,” she said. “I may have made the right turn at about three mph, but I don’t know. I was looking at the road, not my speedometer.” 

Says Police Chief Brian Ahearn: “The appeal for a moving violation is in the form of pleading not guilty which then the guilt or innocence is determined by a judge. This option is available to anyone cited for a moving violation.” 

Adds Ahearn: “APD does not have a quota.” –Ed.

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A tasty way to support local law enforcement

Dear Community member:

I have been concerned, as many of you have, of late as to the events that are occurring in our world. One of the issues that is of great concern is the current outbreak of anti-law enforcement sentiment that has been expressed by a vocal minority. 

As Rotarians and as community members, we have spent a great deal of time and energy working to have a strong law enforcement presence in our community. 

We are fortunate to have Sheriff Honsal. He has created a department that is professional in their conduct and community minded in their approach to enforcing the law. This has not been an easy task to accomplish.

The challenge that we now face is one of finding adequate personnel to staff the department. The current climate in our world is so negative towards law enforcement that few are choosing it as a career field and many are leaving to seek other careers. 

Historically, Humboldt County has not been generous with the amount of pay we offer our law enforcement officers. This is going to be a problem as the remaining skilled law enforcement officers are vulnerable to being “poached” by other law enforcement agencies. 

In an attempt to stem this drain on our law enforcement officers and also to show our law enforcement community that the Humboldt County community strongly supports their efforts in making and keeping our communities safe. 

Mad River Rotary is setting up a fund at Coast Central Credit Union to allow for the purchase of gift cards at our local restaurants. 

These cards will be given out to the officers by Sheriff Honsal as a way of saying thank you for the great job they are doing. 

Let’s let the Humboldt County Sheriff officers know in a very real way that the community is in support of their efforts in keeping all of us safe. 

Kevin Jenkins
McKinleyville

Review and report

Since the City of Eureka has a police chief community advisory panel, it makes sense that the panel should review the action staken by the Eureka Police that left John Seiger mortally wounded.

One of the topics that the panel reviews is the use of force. Does firing 27 rounds at a suspect, hitting him eight times, constitute the use of force?

The advisory panel should review the procedures used in the shooting and make the findings public. 

Scott R. Baker
McKinleyville

Inflammatory findings

Public health Nurse Erica Dykehouse did the locals a tremendous service exposing the flaws in the local tracing system, and effort to protect the non compliant infected, as well as the meth dealer that contributed to all four county COVID-19 deaths at Alder Bay in Eureka.

I understand that this information was supposed to be confidential. I also understand, if given the choice between specific information that could save your life, and the confidentiality requirements, your life takes second place. 

Ask Dr Frankovich if you don’t believe. She won’t put it this way, as it is way too inflammatory to you, the reader. 

Confidentiality takes precedence over info that could help the public at large keep themselves safe by identifying the selfish folks that won’t isolate and have big BBQs despite knowing they are infected. 

I’ve lost confidence in the county Public Health Dept. that I formerly had. At least meth dealers are safe to pursue their craven habits and get infected and spread it with no regard for your health.

 Regards
John Dillon
Eureka

Just say no to arsenic

I read with interest the report on the front-page of the Aug. 12 Union, “Water district demands risk analysis for dioxin in water’.” 

There is a contaminant with analogous toxicity to dioxin that is added to our public drinking water, but perhaps because it is not dioxin itself this troubling fact receives little attention.

The federal Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG) for dioxin is zero (0). This value is reserved for those potential contaminants that should truly not be in public drinking water supplies. The MCLG for arsenic is also zero (0).

The California Public Health Goal (PHG) for dioxin is vanishingly small, as the California PHG does not use the value of zero. The California PHG for arsenic is similarly a vanishingly small number, with only two known carcinogens and dioxin having a smaller PHG for drinking water supplies.

Yet, despite the federal MCLG and CaliforniaA PHG that indicate clearly that arsenic should not be in our drinking water, the City of Arcata knowingly adds arsenic to our public drinking water supply as the most prevalent contaminant of the industrial grade fluoride that the City adds to our drinking water.

(Both sides of the fluoride debate can now wave their arms and raise their respective hullabaloo, but please do not allow the fluoride debate to distract awareness of this separate and distinct issue of arsenic being added to our drinking water. There is no authorization by any City Council resolution or other ordinance for the City to add arsenic to our drinking water. The 1956 City Council ordinance specifies “fluoride.” Period. Not “and associated contaminants”; not “arsenic.”)

There is also a “Maximum Contaminant Level” values that exist, both federal and state, which are industry-lobbied-for excuses to allow pollutants into our drinking water. 

But these MCL values should not serve as excuses for the City to “fill ’er up” by intentionally adding such a poison to our public drinking water supply.

To make matters worse, the City of Arcata neither measures for arsenic nor reports any value for arsenic in our drinking water in its annual “Confidence Report” on contaminants in our drinking water, this despite the City being well aware that they themselves are actively adding arsenic to our drinking water.

In my opinion and objective assessment, there is no rationale for the City to be adding the known poison arsenic to our drinking water. 

Would the City knowingly add dioxin to our drinking water? (I think not.) 

What would be the public outcry if it was dioxin that was the most prevalent contaminant of the industrial-grade fluoride being added to our drinking water? 

What guidance beyond common sense would preclude the City (“Environmental Services”) from adding dioxin to our drinking water? 

I suggest that arsenic and dioxin are equivalent as contaminants that should be avoided in our drinking water and that whatever guidance and response would accrue regarding dioxin must also be applied regarding arsenic. 

Bruce LeBel
Arcata

Note: The Union asked Arcata’s Environmental Services dept. for a response to the alarming allegation that Arcata’s drinking water is contaminated with arsenic, and was directed to CalEPA’s Division of Drinking Water. The agency offered no response before deadline. –Ed. 

The ‘shithole country’ club

President Trump has declared that he will not approve emergency funding for the United States Postal Service. He says doing that will limit the use of mail-in balloting this fall which he falsely claims leads to rampant voter fraud and would also favor Democrats.

Perversely, he does support mail-in balloting in Florida, an important swing state. Somehow he finds it “Safe and Secure, Tried and True.”

Trump’s effort to rig the election is an action one would expect from the corrupt leader of a so-called “shithole country” i.e. one Trump has defined as a source of undesirable immigrants.

So could it be that under Trump, the US itself now qualifies as a “shithole country?” Let’s examine other defining characteristics.

First, the country should have a weak economy with widespread unemployment, and likely also a serious disease spread throughout. The US has all these thanks to the Trump administration’s mismanaged COVID-19 response.

Next, the country should have a leader who demonstrates little empathy for the general population; and along with family and friends, financially benefits from being in office.

Trump is certainly not known for empathy, and the supposedly independent Trump Organization partly controlled by his two adult sons has benefitted financially through official use of properties that it owns. 

Additionally, Trump has placed family and friends in key paid positions throughout his administration.

Taken altogether, it appears that the U.S. does have enough defining characteristics to qualify as one of the so-called “shithole countries.” 

Mr. President, welcome to the club!

Sherman Schapiro
Eureka

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