The power blackout of October 9 was a wake up call for Humboldt County.
People scrambling to get basic supplies, waiting in gas lines for hours and those with medical conditions requiring power to run their oxygen machines or refrigeration to keep their medicines cold, panicking.
And we got off easy. Early predictions said that the blackout might last several days.
This is just the beginning of these climate change crisis-related episodes.
The outage in Humboldt County wasn’t necessarily due to red flag conditions here but because we are dependent on two transmission lines that go through areas where they had to de energize the lines due to high wind conditions.
The thing is that we are an energy island, we don’t generate enough of or own power and have to import electricity from other parts of the state so if transmission is shut down somewhere up the food chain, we’re out of luck.
In order to deal with this problem we must become more energy independent. We need more renewable energy generation right here where we need it.
The Humboldt Wind Project is a proposed wind farm that will be looking to get a permit from the county this year.
It is essential that we let the board of Supervisors know that we want these projects to be built to supply us with local, renewable power.
The Northern Union High School District (NHUHSD) is smack in the middle of a true dilemma. The district administration says it can’t agree to the 1.85 percent salary schedule raise certificated (teachers) proposed. The proposal was refused for various reasons, which the teachers/certificated negotiation team debunked based on ferreting out the current district budget. The team found an excess of $1,000,000 that will afford the salary increase and health benefit payments.
The NHUHSD operates five high schools. The district hierarchy is pretty standard with a district administration and then each school having its own hierarchy. As it has been in the past, NHUHSD presently is administrative top heavy. The negotiation team found more than a few excesses that adversely affect the district from meeting teachers’ salary increase request: Administrative cell phones $21,000 (11 at $65/month and 11 at $100/month) and Fund 40 Capital Outlay $100,379.
Both items are highly questionable. Twenty-two district cell phones? Private server? Capital Outlay brings to mind Measure Q that was passed in 2010. Measure Q is all about capital outlay. For many more years every property owner in the district will continue paying for Measure Q. Measure Q is intended to pay for items/projects…site improvements, construction of buildings, energy conservation, etc. Why is this $100,000 even in the budget?
By the administration stonewalling, the district is drastically failing to meet its mission of “… providing a high quality, comprehensive education in a safe, supportive environment…” A supportive environment for all – teachers and students.
Though the elected School Board is the ultimate governing body of the NHUHSD, the person at the helm of any organization is the most visible and will receive accolades or criticism, often times a mix. That is the case also with NHUHSD. There is great disparity between the district superintendent’s compensation and that of the teachers.
In addition to a six-figure salary, the Superintendent receives $500/mo auto expense stipend. The superintendent has a staff that assists him in meeting his responsibilities. His director of fiscal services prepared an informative budget Power Point. In this protracted negotiation, the Superintendent is performing what has become an unpleasant task. However, negotiating is part of his job. He is paid to do that. Teachers, however, are paid to teach, not become labor negotiators. Teachers are making a case for equity in their work. They are striving to protect their own welfare by seeking a more just compensation. Teachers are the conduits that bring quality education to the classroom.
It is my hope the Board, which is the true governing body of the NHUHSD, will support the certificated staff and comply with their offers as presented to the district.
(In 2006 I retired from teaching sophomore and junior English at Arcata High School. The financial information in my letter is from the handout “By the Numbers,” created by Northern Humboldt Union High School District Teachers’ Association.)
KEET-TV came through
When the PG&E power outage occurred our business was left with an insufficient energy source, like so many others. But, because of years of a collaborative relationship with KEET-TV, Redwood News (KIEM/KVIQ) staff was able to co-produce hourly updates and a full 5:30 p.m. newscast on the situation both over-the-air and via social media utilizing the facilities of our community public television station.
This is one of many reasons why we should never lose sight of the importance of having the public broadcasting services of PBS station, KEET-TV Channel 13, here on the north coast. With the prospect of natural disasters such as an earthquake or loss of electricity now being very real, what might occur if our (emphasis on “our”) PBS station was located in faraway San Francisco, three hours away in Redding or satellite delivered from who knows where?
Thank you to the station management, staff, board of directors and supporters of KEET-TV Channel 13 for providing a much needed public television broadcasting service in our region for the past 50 years. Support KEET-TV!