Letters to the Editor January 2, 2018

$150K and a task force for the Plaza, crumbs for Valley West

According to the Mad River Union, the brand new Arcata Plaza Improvement Task Force has been given $150,000 to “enact whatever solutions on which it may decide.” 

Their first public meeting produced a long list of “nuisances” experienced by Plaza users including: drug and alcohol use, aggression by travelers, fights, dog poop, vomit, cigarettes and butts, needles, lack of law enforcement, people of color being fearful of police, lack of inclusivity, the McKinley statue, difficult access and parking, fear for what children may observe and an overall unsafe feeling. 

Except for the McKinley statue, this same list could equally describe current conditions in Valley West, the northern neighborhood of Arcata. But there are many additional issues that occur daily in Valley West. 

Police response to Valley West (five miles away) is much longer than their response to the Plaza (one block away). Motel Row, which annually contributes more than $1 million in Transient Occupancy Taxes to the city’s budget, is in Valley West. Along with residents and employees, out of the area visitors are also exposed to these growing “nuisances.” 

The City has finally installed a real trash can and recycling bin in front of the McDonald’s bus stop (the only enacted recommendation from a February 2017 Valley West Visioning Workshop). The street light over this bus stop has been out for three weeks now. There’s a huge trash pile at the northern corner of Giuntoli Lane and Valley West Boulevard, but since it’s in the county’s jurisdiction, it stays there for weeks. 

The other day there were several trash bags on the roof of the vacant building on Valley West Boulevard. The bus stops on the 35 mph portion of Giuntoli Lane require residents to either jaywalk or walk an extra mile (there and back) in order to use a crosswalk. 

The bus stops on Giuntoli Lane are pitch black at night, putting bus riders at extra risk. (Eureka has solved this problem by installing solar powered lights at bus stops.) And the list goes on and on.

I sincerely wish the Arcata Plaza Improvement Task Force well in their effort. But maybe they can funnel a small portion of their $150,000 budget to Valley West because we really are in this together. What happens or doesn’t happen in Valley West reflects on the rest of Arcata. 

The City continues to distribute crumbs to Valley West and instead focus their efforts and money on more meetings and front page photo ops. 

We are cleaning the streets and sidewalks in Valley West the first Sunday of every month, from 9 to 11 a.m. Come join us on Jan. 6 at the Valley West Park on Hallen Drive. The city will provide buckets and garbage grabbers, and we will provide the people power. Every little bit helps.

Lucy Salazar

The glutinous threat blocking affordable healthcare

I do hope Jeff Pauli is planning for an early retirement where he can scramble for affordable healthcare with the rest of us.

Never a fan of insurance, still I was pulling for the fellow right up until this sentence: “But the number one threat to our office is single-payer health insurance.”

Did the old manufacturing barons feel the same about child-labor laws?

The sooner the three quarters of a million nice caring people working for insurance companies get out of the way and stop blocking my access to affordable healthcare the better.

The problem with our health care system is the insurance industry and all the nice caring people who depend on it for a very nice livelihood. When that happens, Mr. Pauli and his 20 employees can join the rest of us in affordable healthcare without the impediment of a glutinous, alarmist, confounding mass of insurance sellers.

P. Givins

Microplastics are fleecing the planet – inVEST in our beaches

An inanimate contribution from our very own closets, drawers, and kitchens is infiltrating everywhere. Too small to be filtered out by waste treatment plants, microfibers are found in a third of aquatic organisms, two-thirds of aquatic species, and an astonishing 85 percent of shoreline pollutants. 

A single garment can produce over 1,900 fibers per wash load. The New York Times (Dec. 11) reported that “Concentrations [of microplastics] in the remote Arctic Ocean are higher than all other ocean basins in the world…” and “in Arctic sea ice.”

 “Poly” garments, and nearly 95 percent of the world’s clothing, come from the 100 million tons of polyester produced annually. Polyethylene terephthalate, or PET is made mostly from petroleum products like natural gas and recycled bottles. Houston-based LyondellBasell will manufacture 1.1 billion pounds a year of polyethylene in 2019. Eighty-five percent of the fibrous end product comes from China, choking its waterways with plastic residues.

Much of PET ends up in watercourses as millions of microfibers from clothing and other products made of acrylic, nylon, and polyester fleece are washed “away.”

 Less frequent washing, using cold water, liquid detergents, low velocity spin cycles, and mesh strainers like the Guppy Bag and dryer lint filters, can reduce microfiber releases. Patagonia offers free Guppy Bags, even as they inundate the market with ever-lasting fleece. Fibers from in-stream washing worldwide cannot be mitigated.

 PET-eating bacteria and fungi can consume these plastics slowly, but produce CO2; and incineration, either in facilities or house fires, combusts them into god knows what. Composting bioplastics releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

 The “plastisphere” favors high rates of bacterial gene exchange, an alarming situation that can induce antibiotic resistance. Microplastics from photodegradation of macro-plastics, which, at 5.5 trillion oceanic pieces, will soon out-populate fish.

Conventionally produced cotton utilizes mountains of hazardous pesticides and fertilizers, and displaces crucial food-producing cropland. Organically produced fibers remain a luxury, but industrial hemp is promising (as would global population reduction).

Ken Miller

Give back this special rack

Christmas is a time of giving, but on the night of Friday Dec. 21, someone stole something very special from me. 

At my pottery booth in the Uniontown Shopping Center, in front of Arcata Pet Supplies, someone stole a shelf rack that a good friend of mine had made. 

He passed away last year of cancer and that rack was a solid connection to him every time I set it up. I always thought of him, as he had made a matched pair for me to display my pottery on.

I have used racks like this for the past 39 years in my sales at Uniontown with zero trouble. I’m hoping those who took this will find it in yourselves to return it to me as it means more to me than just a bunch of wood.

If you need a stereo or book or paint can rack I will gladly give you one that has no personal connection to my lost friend. Please do the right thing and return it to me – no questions asked. If you know these thieves please let them know what is right. 

Hopefully there is still honor among thieves. Contact [email protected].

Mark Cortright



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