Letters to the Editor Dec. 26, 2018

LOTS AND LOTS OF TOYS FOR TOTS AVFA President Rob Cannon, Chief Justin McDonald, Arcata Fire District Board President Rene Campbell, Captain Ross McDonald, Kmart Store Manager Ben Harvo, Board Director Nicole Johnson, Marine Corp League Commandant Bill Tuttle and Marine Corp League Toys for Tots Coordinator Greg Gardner. Submitted photos

Timely Toys

The Arcata Professional Firefighters Local 4981 and the Arcata Fire Protection District would like to thank the community for their support of the annual Toys for Tots toy drive.  

This year we have collected more toys than any year previous, thanks to the generous donation from Kmart McKinleyville and the community at large. Kmart McKinleyville donated $10,000 in toys towards our collection.

The Arcata Fire Family would like to thank the following businesses that assisted this year:

Coast Central Credit Union, Valley West; Coast Central Credit Union, Arcata; Tractor Supply, Arcata; Toni’s Restaurant; Blondie’s Market; Redwood Capitol Bank, Arcata; US Bank, Arcata; Umpqua Bank,  Arcata; The Rocking Horse; Ultimate Yogurt, Arcata; Murphy’s Market, Sunny Brae; Murphy’s Market, Westwood; Miller Farms; Lube Central; Kmart; Arcata Sunrise Rotary; Little Learners Preschool; and McKinleyville High School Athletic Department.

This year’s collection will help the children of our community that are in need, to get a toy for Christmas.  The Arcata Fire Family has partnered with the U.S. Marine Corp League for the last 15 years and are thrilled with the outpouring of support that we have received throughout the years, and this was our biggest year yet!

Thank you for making this year’s toy drive a success by providing hope and love to so many in our local community.

Arcata Professional Firefighters Local 4981 and the Arcata Fire Protection District

Something to ponder

Regarding your Biz Beat opinion article Dec. 19, 2018. The question was, “Let’s talk about customer service.” 

It showed the photos of six managers of local businesses in Arcata and they were all women. It was gratifying to see their pictures and read their answers. 

I began to contemplate – what if these six managers were men and what would their answers be? Then my thoughts expanded to the office of President of the United States. What would the answers look like between a male and female president?

My intention is not to offend men, since I understand that men and women think differently. This is just a comment on how our society has changed through the years.

 Suzanne Crothers

The cannabis horse may have already left the barn

I received a notice on Dec. 20 of a Planning Commission hearing at 6 p.m. on January 6 at City Council Chamber to discuss the application of a marijuana retail establishment to operate at 1087 H St. 

When I called to get more information I was told there will also be a hearing at that time for a similar business at 1041 F St. 

Furthermore, I learned, the building at the corner where Kalos Salon now operates, right across the street from the Arcata Presbyterian Church, is destined to become altogether devoted to marijuana sales. That is, it will happen unless enough residents show up and object. It may be too late. 

In our eagerness to decriminalize the use of marijuana, which is probably a good thing, we failed to consider just how we would dispense the product. 

I don’t have an answer right now, but in keeping with the frequent use of strip malls to sell cars, fast food and other products, why not consider the outskirts of town, rather than the heart of our City? 

There are no homes west of K Street and Samoa Boulevard. and very few are south east of K. I do not know who owns any of this property but I am certainly not comfortable with retail cannabis outlets dotting all the downtown. 

Once the precedent is set, the Horse (aka “weed”) is definitely out of the barn.

Sara M. Turner

Which way is the wind blowing today?

I think it’s clear that the decisions coming out of the White House are pretty much dependent on Trump’s whim that day. For example, he loves somebody until he doesn’t. Then poof, they’re gone in a tweet.

Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi hit the nail on the head this week in her reply to the question if she thought the president had offered any assurances that he’d sign the proposed spending resolution: “I don’t know that anybody ever has any assurances from the White House on any subject, including this one.”

Sherman Schapiro
Blue Lake

Thank you, our blessed community 

There must be no greater grief that that of losing a child. We are only now beginning to understand the magnitude of the tear in our fabric. 

Yet amidst this darkness, we have been amazed by the generous outpouring of loving kindness that we have received from our community. Gifts that have fed both our hearts and our bellies, and have helped us through the initial steps of our now lifelong journey. 

We are thankful to live in a community that cares so deeply and offers so much support. We are humbled by your support and guidance. 

On behalf of the Simpson family, we want to thank everyone who offered support in any way. Please know you have helped us to navigate and smooth the rough waters of our loss. 

Finally, thank you to all who have made donations to the Joia Simpson Memorial Fund through Umpqua Bank. This scholarship fund will be used to assist an ambitious graduating senior to spread their wings. 

For Joia Bean, please remember to be present in the moment, smile often and spread love; tell your people you love them.

Janette Wilson

An accusation of embezzlement

Request from the controller all the quarterly financial reports, and, the itemized benefit and expenses numbers and email it to me. 

The losses follow a pattern where in 2017 the total annual losses was $45,000, yet in the first quarter of 2018 the losses where $350,000, and, the controller changed the reporting of the payroll and benefits, that appear together in the 2018 first quarter, yet the payroll and benefits were separate in financial reports of the fourth quarter of 2016.  

Someone is attempting to completely bankrupt and maliciously destroy the Coop based on subterfuge which indicates that embezzlement is occurring. This is not ineptness, as suggested, since they fooled all the smart people of the Co-op for two years since the new manager has been employed and have misappropriated over $4 million. 

I suggest the Coop do an audit and inform the authorities. Grand theft embezzlement is a felony and abetting and attempting to cover up a felony is also a crime. 

Carl Eto

A detailed response from the accused

We do an annual fiscal audit, per our bylaws. The auditors present to our Finance Committee (made up of all of our board members and several members at large). This year the audit was delayed due to not having a controller, but the auditors were here just last week to conduct our fiscal year 2018 audit (roughly April through March). We should have their report in a month or two. 

We have used Wegner, CPAs for the last few years for our annual fiscal audit. Wegner works with many other grocery cooperatives. We have been using the services of RFS (Retail Financial Specialists) since our previous controller was dismissed in late May. RFS specializes in grocery retail and also works with many other grocery cooperatives. RFS has been preparing our monthly and quarterly financial statements. They are also on conference call to present the financial information when the Finance Committee meets quarterly. 

Cooperatives have a corporate code somewhat different than a standard corporation due to our ownership structure. Our accounting methods must include share transactions, dividends and patronage refunds (when profitable enough to distribute them). These all have tax implications, whether it is reporting dividends earned on shares or tax breaks for the portion of revenue attributable to membership purchases. It is important to work with accountants and tax advisors who understand this aspect of our business.

 It is true that we have suffered losses fairly consistently for several quarters. There will be yet more changes to fiscal year 2018 once the auditors make their adjustments. This is typical. Whether or not payroll and benefits are reported together or separate really has to do with either the audience or who is producing the financial statements. 

We report a condensed version of our financial statements quarterly in the Co-op News, which is posted on our website. Board members get a more in-depth financial statement, and Finance Committee members sometimes ask for all of the detail, which we gladly provide (it’s a lot of pages!). Included in financial packets are comparisons to budget and prior year, sometimes prior quarter or period, depending on the reports requested. 

We recently hired a controller, Barney Doyle, with 25 years of experience. He will likely make recommendations for how the financial reports should be presented. Each controller, treasurer and Finance Committee member brings their own preferences; therefore, the financial reports tend to change over time.

It is absolutely not true that embezzlement is occurring. If you were to speak to accounting staff, you would likely hear that our accounting methods are better than they have been in years. One of the strengths I bring to the table is the ability to identify where systems are not working, bring in the resources to problem solve and implement new systems, and build a strong foundation for more efficient functioning. I don’t know what the reference to misappropriated $4 million means. This is news to me.

As to whether or not someone is attempting to bankrupt and maliciously destroy the Co-op, not even remotely true. Before I worked for the Co-op, I was a member and shopped regularly. We have a dedicated management team, including myself, who work far too many hours on behalf of the Co-op in order to see it succeed. 

All the Department Heads love this place, and if they don’t, they move on to something else. I don’t know of too many places where employees truly believe in what they are doing — serving the best quality food to the community they love with the intention of reducing their impact on the environment. 

If the Co-op doesn’t succeed, none of us do because we are all dependent on the Co-op for our livelihoods (and many of us for our nourishment). 

I’m happy to answer more questions if you have them.

Melanie Bettenhausen, general manager
Northcoast Co-op





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