Letters to the Editor, July 15, 2020

Friends of Arcata Fire

As most residents and business owners in Arcata, McKinleyville, Manila, and their surrounding areas know, the Arcata Fire District funding Measure R failed in the March 3 elections. As you also may have seen, as a result of insufficient funding, the Fire District has been closing one of their three fire stations on a rotational basis. 

As was discussed in the June meeting of the Arcata Fire District Board; for the District to best cover the five communities and their 62 square mile service area, three stations are necessary. So, the board voted to place a measure on the November ballot to obtain funding to staff and maintain three fire stations.

Various community groups and individuals in the district have stated that the overall communication of the need for additional funding was limited. There was the feeling that a more community-based effort should have been used to ensure our taxpayers understood the existing funding limitations. So, to address this directly we have started a group called “Friends of Arcata Fire.” 

This group presently consists of interested community members, various organizations, members of the Arcata Volunteer Firefighters’ Association, and the professional firefighters of Local 4981. In the next few weeks, we will be putting together letters to the editor, supportive signage and various communications to outline the need for three staffed stations in the Arcata Fire District. We will also be asking for donations to help in this effort. 

If you are interested in helping in anyway please email [email protected] We can be followed on Facebook: facebook.com/friendsofarcatafire, and on Instagram: instagram.com/arcatafiredistrict.

Roy Willis
Friends of Arcata Fire

Measure R regurgitated

As a citizen and a property owner I appreciate the community value that our first responders provide. They should be paid well and able to provide a service compatible with the local needs and economic resources. 

It is hard to understand that during the Covid pandemic Measure R is going to make a comeback, apparently in the same form as previously presented. When we were told that a station would close if it were to fail, we took Arcata Fire at their word and presumed it would be the least used station at Mad River. Instead of closing however, they began a Russian Roulette game by rotating closures of the three fire stations. They were not in any way forced to play this game as Mr. Campbell suggests.

Mr. Campbells recent series of full page monologues spell out some important things which we were previously unaware. The ownership status of the stations and some of the history involved mainly. I realize we can’t look back, but it really is a shame that the Sunset Ave station was not built. The numbers if I read them right would have evened out especially if one of the other stations were sold.

We had been in recent talks with Chief McDonald to try to come up with a more palatable ballot measure in these tough times. Things like graduating into a dispatch program with Humboldt Bay Fire or possibly Cal Fire and closing and/or selling the Mad River Station. Both were shot down before much discussion by the Fire District Board.

The California Highway Patrol was looking for a new location and had their sights set on a location across from the Mad River Fire Station. They may have made an ideal buyer and the Fire District would have been able to put that money aside.

We feel it is very unfortunate the Arcata Fire District Board is choosing to regurgitate a failed measure. Times are much different than they were the first time around. The economy is in real trouble and people are feeling very financially pinched. There are other significant expenses coming down the pike for Arcata residents. The already high water and sewer rates are going up another 50 percent. An additional tax for a vague open space measure is on the ballot. And we are already paying a fire tax.

For comparison Eureka has voted to reduce Humboldt Bay Fire’s compensation by 14 percent at the same time Arcata Fire wants to raise their compensation by 50 percent by putting a recycled tax measure on the ballot. 

The fact that it is all combined with Arcata’s recommitment to affordable housing seems a bit schizophrenic. The simple truth is that adding more and more taxes makes affordable housing less and less affordable.

Arcata Fire admits and has shown it can operate effectively with two stations. They should probably close and possibly sell the Mad River Station. Working towards teaming up with Humboldt Bay Fire to provide more efficient and cost effective service would be a more palatable solution while we are all needing to tighten our belts.

Uri Driscoll
President, Humboldt Taxpayers League​​

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Bad time for higher fees 

I have been following the articles by the fire department pushing for the passage of Measure R. I notice on my property tax bill that there are two current assessments for the fire department, one for $20 passed in 1997 and the other one for $88 passed in 2006. It is my understanding that measure R will be an assessment for $118.

My question is, does this new measure take the place of one of the older assessments or is it in addition to these other two? Do they ever expire? If not, then the total assessments for the fire department would be $226 per year. That seems like a pretty large amount considering how many parcels are under the jurisdiction of the Arcata Fire Department. 

I fully support having a full-time fire protection service, but there comes a time when we have to rethink calling on the property owners to bail them out. The water, sewer, sanitation fees are all being raised and unfortunately at a time when there are so many people struggling to keep their homes. The COVID-19 has created an uncertain job market, loss of revenues and being able to pay rent. Prices are on the rise for everyday living expenses. 

It just seems like the wrong time to ask for people on a fixed income to have their property taxes increased for yet another assessment.

Loretta Wilson

Support, demystify fire funding

The recent vegetation fire on Fickle Hill reminded me that we are coming into the wildland’s fire season, and that we are more vulnerable because of the current drought. A functioning and able local fire department is now more than ever, vital to all of us.

The recent failure of the Arcata Fire District’s ballot measure to increase funding, forced the cash-strapped district to take drastic measures to stay within their income. To do so, they had to close one of three stations on a weekly rotating basis. This measure decreases the district’s ability to react to fires, and increases the danger to those of us living within the district.

It is my understanding that the department can only afford to have four firefighters on duty at any one time. Each fire truck is required to have a minimum of two personnel, hence, the need to close one station, as it would require six firefighters to staff all three stations.

I live on Fickle Hill and am located two steep miles uphill from the Arcata main station. I am confident that an engine from there could get here in about 10 minutes. If that station happened to be closed that week, and the response was from the Mad River station, I think it would take at least an additional five minutes. I understand that OSHA requires that there be a minimum of four firefighters on scene before any of them may enter a structure to fight the fire or to search for inhabitants. 

That means that the second engine would come from McKinleyville. That could delay any entry into a structure even more. Fires can grow very rapidly, and that delay could affect the outcome of an event such as a structure fire.

I understand that the Arcata Fire District Board of Directors is placing their funding measure in the upcoming election. The measure requires a two-thirds majority to pass (it came close to passing in March). I urge my neighbors in the district to consider the importance of a fully staffed and funded fire department, to study the proposal, and be supportive of our district and those important firefighters. I ask that the department’s board of directors avail themselves to address any of the issues that were of concern for those who did not support the earlier initiative. 

Thomas Bethune

Baseless charges

After reading Garth Sundberg’s letter in the Mad River Union charging Steve Madrone and others with racism, I felt I must respond, regardless of the trepidation I feel in doing so. 

The guilt that many of us white people feel after centuries of mistreatment of people of color, and in this case, specifically Native people, it is difficult, to say the least, to comment. 

However, Mr. Sundberg charged that in his supervisorial campaign to “unseat” Ryan, Steve had “...persisted in falsehoods, taken credit for projects that he did not accomplish and made it his mission to discredit Trinidad Rancheria.” 

He continued, “We call this out as racism and a personal vendetta.” Although we are all entitled to our opinions, that is a very strong charge against Steve Madrone. As an informed voter in the Fifth District, I am unaware of the basis for any of these charges. 

So, I cannot in good conscience, allow Mr. Sundberg to use the R word without question. Water in Trinidad is a real issue and people’s concern for the environment does not make them racist. 

It is certainly understandable that Mr. Sundberg is concerned for the economic security of the Rancheria, but to make such charges, I think, is unfair. 

If we are to make our community better we need to have civil dialog and respect for one another. 

Barbara Brimlow

Citizen power paid off

Gratitude to Fifth District Supervisor Steve Madrone, citizen Walter Paniak, McKinleyville High School Principal Nic Collart, local retired attorney Bryce Kenny, and the many McKinleyville residents who showed up June 9 and challenged the Department of Alcohol Beverages Control issuance of a liquor sales license for the Dollar General store located across the street from McKinleyville High School. 

I appreciate the effort all of you made to assure the health and safety of our community. What a positive contribution a group of thoughtful, caring citizens can make for the rest of us. Thank you.

Kate McClain

Plaza persecution

I wanted to inform everyone about how I was attacked at the Arcata Plaza on Sunday the 6th at 6 p.m. An individual was having a mental health crisis at the corner of G st and Ninth streets across from the Hotel Arcata. He was screaming for help. I saw that police officers were standing near him, and that about 50 to 100 people were watching from throughout the Plaza. A fire engine arrived and an ambulance was approaching. The screaming individual was slowly being escorted by two friends to the bus station at Ninth st and E streets. 

While he continued to scream for help and for someone to call 911, he was left alone, lying on the sidewalk At the bus station. I took a 20 second video. This location also contains the 4 month old emergency campground. The man in crisis resides there and I have previously seen him being shot with a slingshot by another resident of the tent village. 

When I walked away, a man followed me and repeatedly demanded that I erase any pictures. I repeatedly asked him to stop following me. When I reached the Plaza again, at the front door of Hot Knots, this pursuer shouted for “warriors” to confront me from their resting places across G Street. 

While I described my predicament to 911 dispatch, the five men surrounded me, called me homosexual slurs, the name of a female dog, and threatened to beat me. One man dressed in a spiked leather vest and a motorcycle helmet repeatedly rammed into me with his spiked shoulders as I ran away south down the center of G Street. He tried to swat my phone out of my hand as I tried to video his attack. He chased me around occupied vehicles in front of Brio. He ended his attack when police arrived. 

I was told by the police officer that it sounded like a mutual fight, that if I had no broken bones, it was not a serious crime, and that my attacker was not going to jail because of Covid. He was not cited. 

I am afraid to go to the Plaza as my assailants spend their days on the grass and likely utilizing the services provided at the bus station by Arcata House charity. 

Darryl Pauline

Flouty louts’ residue removed

There were large signs at both Clam Beach parking lots on July 4 stating NO FIREWORKS ON THE BEACH. Bad enough that many flouted this law, but worse that they left their detritus for others to clean up. 

Thanks to the many volunteers who showed up on the morning of July 5 with trash bags in hand to clean up our beach.

Edward “Buzz” Webb

Live and let die

You would think President Trump has no plan to win the war against COVID-19.

New daily cases are now approaching 70,000, with daily deaths trending higher too.

In many places, hospital Intensive Care Units (ICUs) are at full capacity with COVID-19 patients making it more difficult to give them the proper care they need.

An appropriate presidential response would be cautionary words and a plan to decrease the current spread. But instead, Trump minimizes caution, saying that 99% of COVID-19 cases are totally harmless. Apparently he equates “harmless” with “non-fatal” discounting the fact that ICU patients can suffer for days or weeks, and often long thereafter.

And for a plan, it appears the administration’s approach is to convince Americans to learn to just “live with it.” Trump’s edict that “schools must open in the fall” reinforces this.

I think Trump’s strategy of “learning to live with it” is just waving a white flag, conceding today’s battle to COVID-19 so he can win the war with an effective vaccine tomorrow. Let’s hope such a vaccine arrives sooner rather than later or today’s inaction could result in a Pyrrhic victory with significantly more deaths than taking some additional action might have allowed.

Sherman Schapiro

Retire the Redskins

The Washington Redskins National Football League franchise is a disgrace! 

In the year 2020, Washington team owner Daniel Snyder cannot possibly continue to rationalize keeping his ridiculously racist team name in the face of widespread, righteous public condemnation of Snyder’s racist recalcitrance.

 Our nation’s capitol’s team name “The Redskins” will be retired before this football season begins, if Representative Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) has anything to say about it: “The time [for the name] has ended. There is no way to justify it. You either step into this century or you don’t. It’s up to the owner of the team to do that.”

 In 1997, Washington, D.C.’s National Basketball Association franchise willingly changed its name from “The Bullets” to “The Wizards”. So what’s Daniel Snyder’s problem (other than being a bigot)?

 As silly as some of these monikers are below, any one of them would be preferable to Washington, D.C.’s current NFL team name. Take your pick, Mr. Snyder.

• Washington Redcoats 

• Washington Rednecks

• Washington Redrums

• Washington Red Dawns

• Washington Red Foxes

• Washington Red Lines

• Washington Red Rovers

• Washington Red Tides

• Washington Red Riding Hoods

• Washington Red Sparrows 

(Melania Trump can be the team mascot)

Jake Pickering





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