Letters to the Editor, June 23, 2021

Let the Arcata Bottom heal

To our Board of Supervisors:

For you, the decision to allow a commercial cannabis grow on the Arcata Bottom may be what you think will be “good business” but to those of us who have made our livelihoods here, raised families, and honored the legacy of the farming tradition there is a strong effort to protect the last remaining portions of prime agricultural soil so that we and our grand- and great-grand children — and yours — may know what it is like to live where sustainability and care for the environment is a natural and expected goal.

We bristle at the thought that we have to fight for what our grandparents came here for and bequeathed to us: In my case it was Great-Grandfather Pellegrino Giuntoli who brought his sons here to farm and whose name graces a major roadway near his old home farm at Giuntoli Lane. 

His daughter Maria and her husband Vittorio established the Big Four Inn which fed generations of Humboldters, and his grandson Paul Giuntoli, whose excellent produce from his Warren Creek Farms brought us the farmer’s market and introduced us to the goodness that came from clean soil.

So it was with astonishment that I watched the charade that was performed by the Humboldt County Planning Commission where opponents to the application by Sun Valley were scoffed at by Mr. Bongio as NIMBYs — and thus the Commissioners avoided any comprehensive attention to the objections callers were raising, and the blasé admission from at least two of the Commissioners that they had personal tours and “schmoozes” with the applicant should have disqualified the outcome of that blatant, pre-determined decision. 

It is with great anticipation and hope that our elected Supervisors will take our appeal’s questions and concerns much more seriously, and think about the implications of expanding cannabis cultivation on soil that could be reclaimed in the future for crops aimed at benefiting the community in more elementary fashion that something that goes up in smoke and leaves a residue and taint of failure for its community to repair once the balance sheet is no longer beneficial for the corporation which controls it — namely, in ranching and farming which will enhance food security and nourishment, secure and enhance a clean environment that provides beneficial health outcomes, and an atmosphere which creates a safe community with enough clean soil, water, and air to survive the impending forces of climate change.

We look to you for wise choices because once taken, it is us, our neighborhoods and our children who will bear the effects of your mistakes. 

We have seen that in Canada where the cannabis boom emerged, there is a landscape of utter devastation and waste once the balance sheet no longer favors corporate interests; and we plead with you to not let that happen here.

We ask that you deny the applicant’s permission to farm cannabis here on the Bottom and allow that landscape to heal and sustain us for the future.

Respectfully submitted,
Carol McFarland

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Pension pressure

As the Arcata Fire Department deliberates about what to do regarding the more than $6 million it owes to CalPERS for its pensions, let us take a moment and look at several other governmental agencies and their pension situations.

 The City of Los Angeles has seen its required contributions to its pension funds increase from $848 million in 2013 to $1.32 billion for FY 2020-2021. These required contributions currently devour 20 percent of LA’s budget and will climb to 25 percent of the budget by FY 2024-2025. In December 2020, LA called for elimination of 1,000 officer positions from LAPD, reducing sworn staffing to its lowest level since 1995.

In 2015, Eureka started paying down its unfunded pension debt. Eureka’s pension debt payments were $921,000 in 2015, $1 million in 2016, $3.9 million in 2017, $4.6 million in 2018, $5.4 million in 2019, and $5.7 million in 2020. Going forward, these pension debt payments will increase from $6 million in 2021 to $8.4 million in 2029, and are currently scheduled to continue until the year 2038. In 2015, Eureka cut $834,000 from the EPD budget. Heading into budget talks in early 2020, Police Chief Steve Watson talked of how EPD had seen a 19 percent reduction in staffing since 2016. Eureka followed up these previous cuts to EPD in its FY 2020-2021 budget with a funding cut of $1.1 million and loss of 6 more positions, including 4 officers, for EPD. Measure H, Eureka’s huge sales tax increase from 0.5 percent to 1.25 percent, is helping reverse some of these previous cuts to EPD.

The City of San Diego recently increased its annual pension payments from $250 million to $350 million. $350 million is 23 percent of San Diego’s annual budget. This most recent increase in pension payments was caused by San Diego’s pension debt climbing from $1.2 billion in 2007 to over $3 billion in 2020.

Over the last two decades, Humboldt County’s annual contributions toward pension costs has grown from 18 percent of payroll costs to more than 32 percent. In 2015, Humboldt County had an unfunded pension liability of $220 million, but could only pay 21 percent of its $28.5 million obligation. In 2021, Humboldt County witnessed its unfunded pension liability increase to over $330 million. Over the next decade alone, Humboldt County’s required contributions are projected to increase by $17 million per year. Add Humboldt County’s $330 million in pension debt to its $250 million in deferred maintenance and you start talking about some serious money: $580 million total. Over half a billion dollars.

The preferred solution brought forth by governmental agencies for their financial distress is to increase taxes: Measure F in Arcata, Measure H in Eureka, Measure Z for Humboldt County. Very often, however, tax increases do not cover increasing obligations, and debt increases and payments increase. It is very easy to measure dollars and police department staffing, but hard to measure what is not done due to lack of funding.

In a 2019 article covering Eureka’s pension obligations, Senator Mike McGuire’s comment was: “This is just the beginning.” Hope this information helps describe what the “this” is that Mike McGuire is talking about. 

 Thanks for listening,
Patrick Cloney

Assertions without any foundation given

I want to respond to the letter to the editor in the May 22, 2021 edition of the Times-Standard regarding the proposed roundabout at the intersection of Old Arcata Road and Jacoby Creek Road.

The letter stated that the roundabouts and speed bumps negatively penalize all people, but no examples were given as to how drivers will be impacted. 

It was stated that there might be better methods to slow traffic, but again, no solutions were given. 

The issuing of traffic citations has shown to be ineffective in eliminating the problem. Roundabouts have been utilized in Europe for may years and now they are being installed throughout the United States. 

Scott R. Baker

Vax protesters wanted to French kiss ‘Nazis’ 

McKinleyville High School and the Open Door Clinic had a vaccination program at the gym for McKinleyville High School Students who had their parents’ permission to get inoculated. 

The newspaper article in the Mad River Union thought it was probably led by the Stand Up For Humboldt Group. 

Demonstrators offered to “French kiss” the vaccinators and students trying to get vaccinated. Not surprisingly, the offer was promptly turned down. 

They called the students and the vaccinators “Nazis.” The way I learned history the Nazis were not bad people because the government was vaccinating Jewish youth with their parents permission to protect them against infectious diseases. They were bad people because they murdered millions of Jews. 

John Corbett

Everyday wonder

A burst of sunshine
At the end of a long stalk;
A dandelion.

Sherman Schapiro




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