Letters to the Editor, August 5, 2020

You ain’t seen nothin’ yet

The COVID crisis caught us, as a society, off guard and unprepared on so many levels. It is a wake-up call and a devastating reminder that we cannot always bend nature to our will. But maybe we can make use of this painful catastrophe to motivate us to attend to the next massive and deadly natural disaster barreling full speed toward us – climate change. 

There is no potential vaccine that can rescue us from climate change. But we can insist that taxpayer funded stimulus recovery programs be directed at building a green economy which will create good jobs and an equitable and safer community and planet for us all. This is urgent, and it is possible.

Let’s use the lessons of this crisis to try to mitigate the brewing crisis of climate change. Demand a green recovery from all levels of government. Contact your representatives and let them know you support a green recovery.

Cathy Chandler-Klein
Arcata

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Fifth AFD bond?

Measure F would be yet another bond on our houses. When I read the arguments for and against, I have questions. I am genuinely confused.

All insurance goes up every year. Why is AFD’s insurance going up substantially higher (29 percent per one article) than the average of 10 percent to 15 percent? Do they not shop around? Can they adjust their deductibles? Do the employees pay for any of their health, vision and dental care? Or is it all on the taxpayer funds? Per their own line item accounting of just over two years ago (as found at arcatafire.org/budgets-audits) it seems that it is. 

In this same budget, it appears that their payments of Social Security tax and Medicare tax are also covered by the taxpayer – these are normally deducted out of a person’s paycheck in every job I have ever known. Correct me if I read it wrong.

I would also like to know if any of these individuals contribute to their own PERS (retirement fund)? Looking at the numbers on the AFD website I am highly suspicious, but perhaps that is what was guaranteed when hired, without thought to who’s paying.

Please do not get me wrong, I am truly grateful we have a fire department. I am just confused as to having already four bonds for AFD on my house. Confused as to where the proceeds from the sale of the AFD property at 11th and L streets went. Confused as to where the proceeds of the Foster Avenue property sale to Open Door Clinic for $850,000. I just don’t understand.

Included in the budget is a substantial amount for unfunded CalPERS (retirement) liability ($360,244) which is pretty close to current CalPERS (retirement) responsibility ($397,775) Now honestly, how does that happen? I just don’t understand this. Seems to me it would be prudent to switch to 401k. 

I noticed that retirees’ health insurance is being paid (over $251,000) to current employees amounting to $462,713 – now this is two years ago, so I am sure it’s gone up - as everything does. When does it stop?

Now I don’t work for any government agency, so I don’t know what’s reasonable and customary when I see a bunch of expenses on the AFD line item budgets that just don’t make a lot of sense to me. I just don’t understand some of them.

In one article it is mentioned there are 3,300 calls a year - does their district have 9.085 fires a day? Jack, in an opinion in the Mad River Union, stated “close to 4000” - which would bring the total to 10.9589 a day. I am perplexed at this stat. Jack also stated our fire insurance would go up. Well, whether we file a claim or not, our insurance goes up each year.

It was stated on NextDoor, AFD relies only on our bonds. Well, yet again, I look at AFD line item accounting of 2018 and that is not so. They have many avenues of revenue, more than I thought possible. It’s all there in black and white. arcatafire.org/budgets-audits. So, again, I am confused

At this time there are approximately $400 of bonds on our properties. Property taxes and homeowners insurance go up every year – along with everything else. 

If it wasn’t for Prop 13, my mother, along with hundreds of thousands of others in California, would have lost their homes long ago. The City of Arcata has a bond “Open Space” for basic city services coming up on the ballot. This bond adding has got to have a limit.

With this COVID pandemic and virtually complete shutdown happening, very bad timing. In addition to local water rates rising (for the privilege of having the service, as well as the use thereof), high unemployment, loss of tax revenues. The students for the most part are gone which caused sales tax revenue to plummet. Shops are treading water or permanently closing. 

I am not sure I see the justification of another expense or a fifth AFD bond. I see the huge professionally printed signs hanging on the fire department’s door stating closed for lack of funding – those things cost $3,000 to $5,000 – prudent use of funds? So many questions.

Arcata is cutting city services across the board, including our police of close to $750,000 – without complaint. I find it hard to wrap my head around yet another bond at this time. I am not sure I see the justification of another expense or a fifth AFD bond

D. Ziegler
Arcata

NO CHARGE As we await any responses Arcata Fire may offer to the questions posed in the above letter, the alleged four-figure sign seemed like low-hanging fruit, so we asked about it. Fire Chief Justin McDonald says the sign was donated at no cost to the fire department by Noah Samson of Visual Concepts. Also, AFD is not seeking a bond, just a tax. Submitted photo

Transparency and diligence

I have been involved with the Arcata Fire District (AFD) and the Arcata Volunteer Firefighters’ Association (AVFA) for about three years. I have only lived in Humboldt County and with-in this fire district since 1992, 28 years (so not a local). We have not ever been very politically active but have met a few local politicians and various boardmembers across the county. 

We have watched the local communities try to address various issues by thinking globally and acting locally. We have observed this community always pushing for openness and inclusion. If there is one thing any public entity in this community knows they must try to be transparent. 

But if you as an individual want to see and understand how your tax dollars are being spent or how you are being served by an organization or group you are funding or contributing to, you have to try. You have to make an effort, make a phone call, send an email, log into a web page, walk in the door and ask a question. You could ask a neighbor, read a letter to the editor, or listen to a local commentator. 

They may have all the information. They may have all the details. They may have done the research necessary to fully understand why something is happening or how something is accomplished. They may fully understand what has changed in a service being provided and why. Or they have merely read a letter to the editor or was just repeating what they heard.

To support the AFD after the failure of Measure R in March I volunteered to help out with communications of the planned November measure to again ask the voters for adequate funding to support the district. “Friends of Measure F” was formed by community members to try to get information throughout their District about the needs of our emergency response organization. To communicate how your District is funded and the level of funding needed to adequately and safely support the 62 square miles and 37,000 residents. 

Some voters speculate about the real need for three stations, about the over response to service calls, the high salaries received by firefighters and the lack of transparency of the Fire District. 

Have you talked to the boardmembers, the Fire Chief, or looked on their web page for the budget and expenditures? Did you attend one of the six community information meetings held before the vote in March? Have you really tried to see who, what and why they are? 

Please do the research, get the information needed to help you understand why your fire district needs your support in November on Measure F.

Roy Willis
Bayside

AFD running on fumes

Did you know that our Arcata Fire District has not had a fire tax raise in this Century!? (1997 was the last one). In fact that makes almost a quarter of a century that they have not had a raise. 

It’s amazing to me that they were able to successfully keep all three stations open for that long – until the rotating brown outs of one station being closed each day beginning this spring because of the lack of funds.

Facts to consider when you vote: Two of AFD’s very important trucks are close to or over 20 years old. The Water Tender 22 years and the Ladder Truck 19 going on 20. 

Twenty years old. How many of us keep our own vehicles for 20-plus years? Many of the rest are about 13-plus years old. And to top it off, most of the AFD vehicles, trucks and engines, have 100,000 miles or more. 

The cost to keep these very specialized vehicles in working order is incredible. Just one front tire for the big ladder truck and other trucks and engines is $800. Just one tire. Changing the oil is about $1,000 per vehicle. 

A full annual maintenance service with oil change and other necessary fluids, filters etc for our most magnificent ladder truck is $7,000. For six of our others it is $3,500 PER truck. Multiply $3,500 by six plus the $7,000 for the ladder truck = $28,000 just for maintenance alone per year. 

You can see why we need to get Measure F passed. The older trucks will not last forever. Patching them together when they fail can only last so long, and we want our fire engines and trucks to be safe and efficient for our well being. Besides keeping three stations open, we need to have some money set aside to purchase new rigs when needed. 

We do not want to have to buy on credit and pay interest on a million-dollar truck. That’s a waste of tax payers’ dollars, a bad business practice and should be avoided.

Please join me in voting yes on Measure F. If you voted yes the last time, please vote yes again. If you voted no, or did not choose one way or the other, please consider the risk factors of not having the medical and fire services that we need, when we need them, in time to save your life and your family’s or my family’s and mine. 

Thank you.
Ginger Campbell
Arcata

WILPF thanks

Earlier this year, the Humboldt Branch of WILPF, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, awarded several Edillith Eckart Memorial Peace Grants to organizations in Humboldt County working to achieve peace and social justice. 

Edilith Eckart was one of our founding members and a lifelong advocate for peace. We hope our grants help to continue her work making connections between people across boundaries and searching for ways to solve conflicts.

Recipients included the local branch of the GI Rights Hotline which provides telephone counseling to prospective inductees, active duty service members, veterans and families. They will be using their funds to purchase a new computer. 

Also included is the Humboldt County Branch of Black Music and Arts Association which provides opportunities for classes and events supporting the traditions of African peoples. The Kunle Community provides a warm telephone line to the local community, and will use their grant to support their annual International Day of Peace celebration. KMUD Community Radio provides news, discussion and entertainment via their public radio station. 

They will use their grant to purchase equipment for their Youth Journalism Project training local youth in technology and journalism. 

The Joyful Healer Church will use their grant to support their services to the homeless population in McKinleyville by providing training to volunteers, hire a paid staff person, and collaborate with similar organizations in the area. 

Humboldt WILPF is grateful that we have so many local organizations working in these areas of service to the community. 

We are also grateful for the many donations we have received from individuals and businesses in the community which have helped make our fundraising events successful. 

Carol Woods
Arcata

Trash-A-Thon kudos

Kudos to the folks at the Northcoast Environmental Center (NEC) who recently held a “Trash-A-Thon” with volunteers collecting pledges to pick up trash cluttering our parks, beaches, and city streets. 

They raised more than $4,000 for the NEC by picking up stuff like plastic bags and cups, used 4th of July fireworks, and even thousands of cigarette butts. 

It’s the most basic environmental value to pick up after yourself, but a lot of us are still working on it. 

As far as protecting the environment goes I’m glad the NEC still has our backs. And way too many of our butts.

Patrick Carr
Arcata

Terry Finigan cartoon

Louie, Louie, oh baby,
now you gotta go

Lunatic fringe fascist fool Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) is without a doubt the dumbest, most worthless member of Congress, and considering the laughably low intelligence level of the average lazy Republican racist officeholder these days, that’s really saying something! Rep. Gohmert is an imbecile and a sick scumbag, not to mention corrupt.

Lamebrain Louie Gohmert needs to resign from office immediately and begin preparing his legal defense against the multiple lawsuits headed his way for Gohmert maliciously forcing his staff members (by forbidding them from wearing masks or from working at home) and his colleagues (by Gohmert refusing to wear a mask while at work) to become infected with Gohmert’s COVID-19 disease, all because whiny little clueless conservative crybaby Gohmert the goofball has apparently been taking his medical advice from traitor Trump’s White House witch doctor named Dr. Demon Seed. 

Resign, Louie Gohmert – you’re an idiot! And if dishonorable dimwit Louie the loser isn’t man enough to resign, just vote the Moscow-loving moron out of office on Nov. 3 right along with Gohmert’s god Donald Trump otherwise better known as Vladimir Putin’s puppet. 

Send sick psycho Louie Gohmert and his partner in crime demonic Donald Trump to Russia where those anti-American bigots belong.

 Sincerely,
Jake Pickering
 Arcata

Terry Finigan cartoon

 







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