Letters to the Editor, October 21, 2020

Pitino, Yeo, Zapata for Arcata City Council

Apart from being our chance to remove Trump from the Presidency and replace him with Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, this Nov. 3 is an opportunity to re-elect Councilmember Paul Pitino. 

Paul has been a friend to older Arcatans facing rising rents while trying to survive on their Social Security income. He is doing an excellent job, is always approachable and deserves re-election.

The City Council lacks diversity. Its members are of the same race and economic status. Increasing racial and economic diversity would be good for the council and Arcata residents. I am supporting Collin Yeo and Camilla Zapata and urge others to consider voting for them.

The difficult times we are experiencing won’t be over for some time. Let’s bring some new energy and perspective to the council.

Mary Ella Anderson

Winkler does what’s right

Michael Winkler is just the kind of person we need on the Arcata City Council. He has devoted his life to environmentalism and has a long record of standing for all the people of Arcata. 

Our community has become more divided than ever. We have an opportunity in the coming election to help bring our community back together. 

To anyone who has been paying any attention to our City Council in Arcata, it is clear that much of the council is only interested in appeasing the small group of radicals who frequent council meetings. I have seen Mayor Michael Winkler has repeatedly shown his commitment to stand for all people of Arcata and vote for what is right rather than what is easy. 

He will vote with the with the radicals when it is the right thing to do, but he will also stand up to their bullying and abuse for the people of Arcata when it is the right thing to do. 

David LaRue

Measure A invaluable

A vote for Measure A will insure that the City of Arcata’s trails, parks and open spaces will continue to provide users a healthy natural environment. 

The citizens of Arcata are extremely fortunate to have had City staff, elected officials and citizen volunteers over the years that have had the foresight to have a strategy for providing these spaces. These outdoor opportunities are recognized internationally as characteristics of a healthy community and add value to both our lives and property. 

The true value of these community investments can not only be measured by numbers of users but also by type and quality of uses; environmental education, art and photography, aesthetic landscapes, encounters and closeness with nature, and many others. 

The heavy use of outdoor spaces during the Covid pandemic has emphasized the value of these spaces for both exercise and stress relief. 

I urge you to vote YES for Measure A and help maintain and improve our outdoor spaces. 

Bob Gearheart

Yes on Measure A

As an Arcata property owner and one who uses the Arcata open spaces on a daily basis, $37 per year parcel tax is a modest amount to fund the city’s wonderful parks, trails and open spaces that enhance the local economy, property values and quality of life.

These funds will be used to expand programs that help protect and restore fish and wildlife habitat, protect water quality, provide for parks and recreation including trails, preserve area family farms and provide for open space maintenance and stewardship.

Arcata’s City Council authorized and acknowledge the benefits and value of Measure A in Resolution 190-68.

The pandemic has brought into sharp focus the value of Arcata’s parks, trails and open spaces.

Please vote YES on Measure A.

Nancy Rehg

Yes on Measure A – it's why we choose to live here

Funding that comes straight from the people, and goes straight to the landscapes they love, is an incredibly meaningful and powerful way for voters to make a statement about what’s important for their communities. 

In many other towns and hopefully in Arcata, regardless of political affiliation, voters unite behind policies that benefit parks and open space in their communities.

A special parcel tax would create a guaranteed source of local funding that will enhance the city’s ability to increase the pace and scale of delivering protection to open space in and around Arcata, increase trail development, improve and expand our network of parkland and creek protection corridors, improve coastal access, expand the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary, develop recreational access to the Mad River, conserve and support working lands, farms and rural landscapes, protect water quality, and wildlife habitat, and help manage the impacts of growth. 

This fund is not intended to supplant or duplicate existing funding sources. Timber harvest revenue has and will continue to fund the community forest operation and maintenance, but is not realistic to think that the costs for fulfilling the demand and need for open space protection, parks improvements and maintenance and expansion of the urban and rural trail networks can be properly funded by periodic logging proceeds and the city’s general fund alone. 

The City needs a dedicated source of additional funding like other towns in the west with successful open space/trails/habitat protection programs. The city has done a good job with grant funding but grants are not simply free money. 

Acquiring even small properties for creek restoration or trails connectivity can be expensive and require quick action to take advantage of opportunities. Grants require upfront costs and match dollars in many cases. Grants do not pay for parks maintenance or for supporting Arcata’s large cadre of citizen volunteers who help with park and trail stewardship.

Please support this investment in the ecological and economic future of Arcata.

Jared Gerstein
Registered Professional Forester #2826


Burning irony

The Humboldt County Taxpayers League (HCTL)opposes Measure F and here is some amazing information about that! 

If Measure F fails, the proposal is to close the Arcata Downtown and McKinleyville stations, have only the Mad River Station open and only one crew of four firefighters on that crew. If this happens, AFD may not be able to help other Fire Districts since they cannot leave the AFD District unprotected!

A few days ago, AFD responded to a call for a fire outside the District in Blue Lake. The call was to a “large commercial” building owned by Kent Sawatzky, executive director of HCTL. 

Mr. Sawatzky told me he does not live in the AFD District. He has openly opposed Measure F at the Arcata City Council meetings and more. 

AFD was able to aid in extinguishing the fire with minimal damage. HCTL has objected to AFD responding on calls outside the District. 

It is ironic Mr. Sawatzky accepted assistance on the building he owns! It is my hope that Mr. Sawatzky would publicly thank AFD for saving his building. 

Here is some more irony! Many years ago, Uri Driscoll, president of HCTL, fell from/was thrown off a horse while riding in the Arcata Community Forest. AFD assisted in the rescue of Mr. Driscoll. I verified this by talking with someone who was at the scene. 

If Measure F fails, it is possible all EMS calls will be stopped except for life threatening calls. If this happens, calls for assistance like Mr. Driscoll’s fall from a horse may not be able to be done. 

It is ironic that Mr. Driscoll accepted assistance when he needed help, but he is willing to put thousands of people in jeopardy of not being able to receive help by opposing Measure F. 

I wish Mr. Driscoll would have attended just one Zoom meeting after the failure of Measure R so he would know the future possibilities if Measure F fails. 

Why is it acceptable for the only two known members of Humboldt County Taxpayers League to accept assistance from Arcata Fire Department when they need help but they are not willing to help everyone else who lives, works or passes through our District? 

Failure of Measure F will decimate the Arcata Fire District and severely impact AFD’s ability to provide Fire, EMS and other assistance to everyone!

If Measure F fails, millions of dollars of people’s property and thousands of lives in the 62 square mile District will be in jeopardy. I must continue to present the facts and stop the untruths and deception. 

Also please help me get this information out to everyone through all media like Facebook, Instagram, newspapers and more. 

Paul Nicholson

Measure F will restore fast emergency response 

My wife and I are supporting Measure “F.” 

The last several times an ambulance was needed the fire dept. arrived first. Once they even arrived 15 minutes before the ambulance and had the situation well in hand when the ambulance arrived. 

When our smoke detector went off when we were out of town, the fire dept. responded, and took care of the over-heated pump that would have certainly burned down our house. AFD services McKinleyville, Arcata, Manila, Bayside and Jacoby Creek. 

With such a large area to cover, it is vital to have as many fire stations as possible for quick response time. Even five minutes can make a difference. 

With all the fires throughout the state, it is important to support our first responders. This is a small price to pay for peace of mind.

O’Rourk and Linda Swinney

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Measure F a life saver

Two days ago a friend had a medical emergency in McKinleyville, the kind of health crisis that requires a response within minutes if there is to be minimal damage. 

I’m asking everyone to Vote Yes on Measure F so that our friends, relatives and community do not have to worry if that station is fully staffed on the day there’s a medical crisis. 

There’s a reason we have three stations to serve a large geographical area that includes not only Arcata and McKinleyville, but also Jacoby Creek, Bayside and Samoa. You may not ever have an emergency caused by health issues or a fire, but your neighbor might. 

Please consider everyone who might be, already has been or will be affected. Don’t short change our service providers. 

Pamela Ann Brown

Yes on F, reopen all three fire stations

The Arcata Fire District has served very well, indeed, for many years. Whenever help was needed, our Fire District responded quickly, efficiently, and with highly trained firefighter/EMTs. They have placed a call to us. 

For them to continue the high quality of protection which all of us need and appreciate, we need to vote YES on Measure F. 

Please join with me and vote “yes,” which will enable the Arcata Fire District to return to full force with all three fire stations operational.

Martha Haynes

Vote Hicks, Rios, Jones

Dear McKinleyville Residents:

As one of many parents of children that are currently unable to attend school in person in McKinleyville, I wish to respectfully provide some perspective to the current McKinleyville Union School District and Northern Humboldt Union High School District races. The quality of my child’s education matters deeply to me. With no return to in-person instruction in sight for most of our children, I would urge you to demand that some transparency and accountability return to both boards, and I believe the only way to do that is to unseat the incumbents with your vote on Nov. 3.

Letters policyLet me start by saying that while I may not always agree with the MUSD Board’s decisions, I have always admired their stated commitment to an environment of inclusivity, where all families belong. Perhaps that is why I am so disappointed that the McKinleyville Teachers Association has recently endorsed incumbents Nicholas Som and Manuel Fonseca for the MUSD Board of Trustees, stating that they are not “one issue” candidates, and that they have actively sought out input from all constituents. I can tell you firsthand they certainly have not sought out input from all stakeholders. Further, their decisions to ignore our requests for our children to return to school, coupled with their lack of responsiveness to our concerns about tending to the needs of our most vulnerable students creates the perception that they are not leading with McKinleyville’s best interests in mind. Data in Humboldt no longer supports school closures, and we have seen schools successfully reopening safely and responsibly. Meanwhile, the incumbents neglect the biggest issue of all – our children. Ultimately, their claims that they represent the interests of all MUSD students are unfounded.

Much like the MUSD Board, the NHUHSD Board seems to refuse to recognize that data in Humboldt no longer supports school closures. They, too, show a steady shift towards ignoring their responsibility to provide free and appropriate public education to all students. Moreover, the superintendent maintains that he is the one who will decide when it is safe for our children to return to school, dismissing requests by staff to meet in person with students who are requiring additional academic support, without concern for students who are left behind by remote learning. His logic is flawed. The idea that retail and healthcare workers are considered essential in McKinleyville but educators are not is absurd. If we can safely visit a grocery store in McKinleyville, it is safe for our students and teachers to return to in-person instruction. For our families to have no choice other than distance learning is unacceptable.

I think if you are happy with distance learning, you should continue on that path for your family; however, to limit the right to a free and appropriate public education for other children is unjust. Whether a family has two parents that are both considered essential workers, whether you are socioeconomically compromised, whether you have a student with special education needs… we should all have the opportunity to choose what works best for our families. Focusing on further discussions about poor judgment calls by the current boards is not productive, our voices are going unheard. Instead, our energy would be better spent building new boards. Not all parents of children attending school in McKinleyville have the privilege to vote in these races. Please make your vote count by supporting Rachelle Hicks and Chelsey Rios for the MUSD Board, and Janelle Jones for the NHUHSD Board. These ladies are definitely about one issue – our children – and by voting for them, you are asking that the rights of all McKinleyville children to a free and appropriate public education will be recognized again by the school boards.

Becky Roberts
Elk Grove

Republicans, help us

This week the FBI and Michigan State Police arrested and charged six militia members for conspiring to kidnap and execute Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

Rather than denouncing these militant criminals, the president of the United States tweeted that Whitmer has been doing a “terrible job.” Instead of humanely calling to ask if she and her family were okay, Trump attacks her by tweeting and calling for the jailing of Biden and Obama.

This is an appalling, escalating trend.  In April this year Trump tweeted, “Liberate Michigan.” In May, when armed militia members stormed the state capitol, he wrote, “These are very good people.”  During the presidential debate of September 29, rather than condemning militia hate groups, he urged them to “stand back and stand by.”

Republicans, we need you—we need all of us — to speak out and denounce lawless violence.

 Peter Jain


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