Letters to the Editor, May 20, 2020

Why Arcata Fire’s Measure R failed

Why did the request for funding of the Arcata Fire District fail? I’m sure there are various reasons the March 3 Measure R did not pass. It was not that a majority of the residence didn’t support the measure. Actually 63.7 percent of the residence voted for the measure. The requirement is two thirds or 66 percent. This worked out to be just 427 votes short or 3 percent. 

But I can only speculate on why some of the Fire District residence would not support this increase on their tax bill. Possibly they did not understand what the purpose of the measure was and voted no. Perhaps they always vote no on tax or bond measures. It is very possible they really studied the change to their tax bill and determined they could not afford it. 

It is very possible that some voters did not believe there was an actual need for the increase. The District held town halls meeting to explain the need and how the District is not able to obtain any funding from the City of Arcata or the County of Humboldt.

The District held six town hall meetings to present their need for a tax increase during the March 3, 2020 primary. The town halls were spread across the district and all were poorly attended. What I learned was the District’s funding is from property taxes, a 1997 special tax and a 2006 benefit assessment that is just for the fire district and not a part of any city or county general fund. That means the District does not have access to city or county funds. Increases to the District funding is only through development inside the district. So the area growth has not been able keep up with the cost of managing and manning three stations.

So if you voted no because the impact on your household would have been too much no one can fault you for that. But if you voted no because; 1. you didn’t know what this was for or 2. you did not believe there was a real need, I’m sure members of the Arcata Fire District Board would be interested in how to better communicate the need. 

I’m sure the Arcata Fire District Board would be glad to demonstrate the limitations of the existing funding and why there is a requirement to close one station and reduce staffing.

Roy Willis

Note: While we’re on the subject, a few points: 

1. The first public notice of Measure R came in the form of Facebook ads taken out by the fire department (and paid for by a boardmember) in September, 2019. At the time, we pointed out to Chief Justin McDonald that not everyone sees Facebook ads, and that the newspaper would publish the same information at no cost. But nothing whatsoever was submitted for another three months. However, the Union did what it could to inform the public about Measure R by publishing a news story on the developing fire tax measure on Nov. 27, 2019.

2. The first notice from Arcata Fire about the Town Hall meetings on Measure R was sent out on Tuesday, Feb. 21 – after that week’s newspaper had been printed. While we immediately published it online, the first two edu-meetings were over with by the time any notice appeared in the Union. We again noted the department’s inexplicable lassitude in notifying the public about its pending request that property owners raise their own taxes, which is always a big and audacious ask. 

3. Though in the planning since last fall, the first pro-Measure R opinion piece was submitted for publication on Jan. 29, one month before the election. Several more pro-Measure R letters were received in February, and were published in the final few weeks prior to the March 3 vote. Also received and published just two weeks before the vote was opposition Measure R in favor of questionable alternatives like opening a firefighter academy (APD already trains firefighters) that didn’t address staffing and equipment costs. When it comes to raising one’s own taxes, a last-minute injection of doubt is highly effective, especially when the public had only just begun to hear the pro-Measure R case.

3. The door-to-door campaign also started up only in the final weeks before the vote, despite Measure R having been in the works for months.

4. The Union only received a small handful of letters advocating for Measure R from members of the department and its community supporters, all of which were published in February. It’s unfathomable why so few of those who would be directly and negatively affected by the failure of Measure R chose to speak up, and only did so in the final days prior to the election. Especially since they only had to persuade a few percent more of the electorate for the measure to have succeeded.

All in all, Arcata Fire's campaign to pass Measure R was like a student waiting all semester to start on a term paper, then doing it in a slapdash rush the night before it's due. – Ed.

Stand up against ignorance and hate

Responding to Carl Ochsner’s letter, “Don’t elevate racism by overreaction” (Union, May 13), I’d assert that it’s very important for us all to oppose demonstrations of hate and to correct the expression of ignorant views of any group of people. 

The reason is that such demonstrations and expressions are, to use Mr. Ochsner’s accurate term, hurtful. They injure feelings and make life unnecessarily difficult for people in the targeted groups. They encourage imitation on the part of people who, perhaps from a lack of self-worth, feel a need to look down on others. 

They are especially hurtful to the impressionable minds of children and young people. We should never be bystanders in the presence of ignorance or hate.

Margaret Shaffer

No confidence in voluntary compliance

In regards to Judy Herman‘s recent My Word column, I can respect her wish to open businesses and participate in healthy interactions, but I must disagree with her when she counts on human nature to achieve that goal. 

To paraphrase, Judy stated that Humboldt County must show its ability of its residents, various businesses and agencies to count themselves as responsible independent and thoughtful American citizens. She also stated that to encourage the removal of barriers, California government should trust the good citizens of the state to conduct themselves appropriately in the state’s situation. 

I find it difficult to give credence to these statements when the news media has shown beaches in California and Florida, along with protests throughout the country including Eureka, where social distancing is being ignored and few wearing masks.

These examples show that I cannot trust the good citizens to do the right thing to protect the health of myself and my family.

Scott Baker

Unhappiness unmasked

People not wearing masks who bike, run or walk on our hiking trails must think those of us wearing masks are an unhappy lot.

Well they’re right, we are. Having to pass by them unmasked and in close proximity makes us so.

Richard Salzman
Sunny Brae

Benedict Donald

Vladimir Putin’s psychotic servant Benedict Donald is not only the worst “President” in American history, traitor Trump is so demented he actually claims the assassinated Abraham Lincoln had it easy compared to delusional Donald Trump!

As embarrassingly low as deranged Donald’s I.Q. is, even a mindless moron like Trump knows honest Abe Lincoln would definitely be a Democrat today were Lincoln still alive. (Lincoln was from Illinois after all.)

“Vote Blue no matter who,” says honest Abe who would have been shocked at the sad sight of racist, right-wing Republican Party terrorist troglodytes flying Confederate flags in Michigan while illegally threatening elected officials with assault weapons.

And speaking of elected Democrats under assault, several prominent Democratic politicians were recently subjected to multiple failed assassination attempts by an insane Trump fanatic from Florida whose mail bombs failed as completely as traitor Trump’s pathological presidency has. 

Joe Biden for President, folks.

Jake Pickering 



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