Letters to the Editor, October 7, 2020

These three for MCSD

In a country so divided, coming together and showing up locally is pretty important. Showing up for our neighbors, watching out for one another, like we do already. We may hold different political opinions, but we have many common interests. That is where our power lies, and what we can build on. We are choosing candidates locally who reflect the need to come together, to listen to one another across our differences, to listen to our hopes and dreams for our community. If we pander to fear we lose. If we conduct ourselves like our national candidates for public office, we lose. Let’s choose something different, let’s choose to look each other in the eye, to listen deeply, then listen some more, and find places we can come together.

In our eyes, those candidates for McKinleyville Community Services District that best reflect these values are: 

Greg Orsini (4-year seat)

Scott Binder (4-year seat)

Joellen Clark-Peterson (2-year seat) 

Greg Orsini has made a career of community service at MCSD. He was competent at his job and displayed outstanding leadership qualities. As a result, he rose to the level of general manager. Seeing him in action at many an MCSD meeting, we respect Greg’s deep knowledge of the technical issues, but moreover we value his thoughtful, open-minded, calm leadership. As a board member, we recognize his role would be much less technical and call much more on leadership skills. We think Greg has shown the leadership and flexibility that will help him skilfully navigate the leap from employee to board member and work very well with the diverse members of the board. 

Scott Binder in his role of moderating public information sites on social media has worked tirelessly to bring a modicum of respectful dialog and facts to the community so that we can fully understand issues that affect us. Scott’s volunteer work in the community shows another aspect of his citizenship and deep care for his community. He leads a regular trash removal group, and serves as vice chair on MCSD’s Recreation Advisory Committee. In all aspects of community work, Scott comes to the table well-prepared, knowledgeable, and with respect for everyone’s point of view. Honestly, Scott probably holds differing political views than ours, and yet it does not get in the way of working together towards making our community a better place.

And finally, our choice for the two-year seat is Joellen Clark-Peterson. Joellen shows up. She showed up to the recent candidate forum while neither opponent did. Joellen showed up at our back patio to understand what issues are important to us as McKinleyville residents. Joellen showed up to help make our little corner of McKinleyville a nicer looking place by helping finance and plant the neighborhood garden project initiated by Martin Joaquin. Joellen shows up, prepared to learn and understand what is important to each of us, and to our greater community. Joellen wants to serve us locally and will help lend greater visibility and transparency to the work of the MCSD through the skills she’s obtained in her past and current work. 

Let’s all show up for our community. Let’s choose representatives who model the integrity and respect we all want to see in our elected officials. Vote for people who will be listening to your voice in the process. 

Vote Joellen, Greg, and Scott for MCSD. 

Sincerely,
John Calkins, Lisa Dugan
McKinleyville

Atkins-Salazar knows how to get things done

We support Stacy Atkins-Salazar for Arcata City Council. We believe in her commitment to finding common ground as a means to move our community forward. Stacy has firsthand experience in local government. She is running a successful Arcata business and is raising a family in Arcata. She is thoughtful, compassionate, hardworking and an excellent listener. As a city council member, she will be an advocate for all of Arcata, Valley West to South G and Westwood to Fickle Hill.

As a former school board member and current business owner, Stacy has a proven record of accomplishment as a critical thinker and collaborator. She seeks out information, weighs the facts and is capable of making the hard decisions required as a city council member. In business for 20 years, she manages challenging issues as well as day-to-day concerns with honesty, empathy and humility. Stacy has done her homework and will be ready to get to work on day one. 

Please join us in voting for Stacy Atkins-Salazar for Arcata City Council.

Cap and Marguerite Powers
Arcata

Som, Fonseca for MUSD

The McKinleyville Teachers Association is proud to announce our endorsement of incumbents Nicholas Som and Manuel Fonseca for the McKinleyville Union School District Board of Trustees. It is not common for a teachers union to endorse board candidates and is not something we take lightly.

We have taken this unprecedented step because these two candidates have led us wisely through these past few months of crisis as we grappled with the effects of COVID-19 on our educational system. They have listened to, and actively sought out, input from all constituents, consistently asked the right questions of the district and made difficult decisions based on facts. Through all of this, they have unerringly kept their vision on the future of our district and how to best support our students academically and holistically as we move forward.

Som and Fonseca are in it for the long haul. They are not “one issue” candidates. Being a board member is a difficult and often thankless job. Please join the educators of McKinleyville in voting for tried and true leadership: Nicholas Som and Manuel Fonseca.

Phyllis Nolan/Angela Burkhart
Co-presidents, McKinleyville Teachers Association), McKinleyville

Joellen’s boundless resources

Born and raised in Eureka, Joellen Clark-Peterson graduated from UC Santa Cruz and returned to Humboldt County beginning her professional career focusing on community development, collaboration and communication. Her recent job as the Director of the Arcata Chamber of Commerce, and her current position with the N. California Small Business Development Center are examples of this career path.

At the same time, Joellen is not shy of new life journeys. Her first international trip was with the Peace Corps where she signed up to go to Romania, which, by the way, was to be her first airplane experience! While there, Joellen initiated an interchange with her students in Romania with Alice Birney School in Eureka and received support of supplies from the College of the Redwoods for the girls’ basketball club she started.

Joellen will bring her wealth of experience, energy and enthusiasm to MCSD. Please vote for Joellen Clark-Peterson. Thank you.

Linda Doerflinger
McKinleyville

Measure A will do so much for Arcata

Getting outside has been an essential outlet for me and my family during COVID. Now is the time to secure this as a permanent option. That’s why I am voting yes on Arcata’s Measure A! The costs of maintaining the extensive Arcata park, trail, and environmental projects are not adequately covered by Arcata’s General Fund and timber harvest revenues. 

Measure A will reduce harvest pressure on the forest, provide leveraging to bring in further grants, and generate essential funds to help the City grow and steward our essential open spaces. Please join me in voting for our outdoor recreation and quality of life for generations to come. Measure A – that’s why we live here!

Yana Valachovic
Bayside

Protect yourself with Measure F

It’s time we join forces to support and improve our fire protection district. Leaving critical positions unfilled and making do with rotating station closures is not acceptable. 

Passing this measure, we can protect ourselves by increasing fire district efficiency and reducing emergency response times—all while ensuring the safety of our first-responders as well as our communities at large.

Even arguments put forward by the single-minded anti-tax league seem to recognize the need for additional funding; they simply want someone else to pay for it. 

For a safer community in an uncertain future, vote “Yes” on Measure F!

Greg Morse
Arcata

Better management, not Measure F

Our 2019 property tax bill reveals a 1997 Arcata Fire tax of $30, a 2006 Arcata Fire tax of $132 and now they want $192!

Please remember that in year 2015 and year 2019 there was an attempt to pass a fire tax, however thankfully, they were voted down. Now in year 2020, there is again, another attempt to pass a fire tax, thus, burdening citizens with additional taxes. 

Pattern has it that AFD never stops going after property owners with more and more tax assessments. AFD claims that 44 percent of their vehicles are out of commission due to deferred maintenance. Perhaps AFD should manage their money more wisely. According to Transparent California, the chief’s salary (total pay and benefits) was $186,983 in year 2016. Year 2017, it increased to $195,962. Year 2019, it increased again to $212,693. His brother’s salary, along with all battalion chiefs and captains increased substantially, too. 

Instead of using funds for maintenance, it went towards substantial salary increases. To review the exorbitant salaries received by the AFD, please enter Arcata Fire Department Salaries in California on the Yahoo page. Scroll down and click on Transparent California. Scroll way down to Fire Protection, then click on Arcata Fire Protection District. Search records for years 2016, 2017 and 2019. It will knock your socks off. State employees have had a 10 percent reduction in their salaries. Why not the Arcata Fire Department? 

Make no mistake about it, Measure F is about higher property taxes that will last for years. If you are rural residential, remember your fee will be $192! Seniors in mobile home parks – $90. Everyone talks about affordable housing. 

With AFD continually proposing tax assessments, home ownership will be unaffordable for the majority of local residents along with increased rents. It is time for the foxes to get out of the hen house. Please, all tenants, seniors and homeowners, affordable housing begins with a NO vote on Measure F.

Wayne and Linda Palmrose
Bayside

 Wrong time to raise taxes

This is the wrong time to raise taxes.

 Too many of our fellow citizens are already hurting financially. Jobs lost. Businesses closed or struggling. Unemployment benefits uncertain. 

Food banks facing unprecedented demand. Homelessness a crisis with more to come as people fall behind on rent and mortgage payments.

 We already pay extra taxes for elementary and high schools, CR, stormwater drainage, and two — yes, two — existing assessments for the Arcata Fire District. 

In addition, Arcata got a multiyear extension of the city sales tax, and it has announced a near doubling of the cost for water and sewer. And PG&E has filed to raise rates yet again.

 All of these taxes and fees add up, and they hit seniors and those on fixed incomes especially hard. 

The only way to fight back is to oppose them wherever possible. 

 Start by voting NO on Measure F!

Richard Sanborn
Bayside

Taxes aren’t the answer

Arcata’s More Taxes approach causes more problems than it solves.

Trinidad and Fortuna have a sensible approach to collecting tax revenue and a transparent approach to effectively manage that revenue.

Arcata already has nearly as much land under ownership as any municipality per capita in the country. And they just added another 114 acres. The more is better case has not been made. Keep in mind the land under their ownership is mostly highly productive timber land that was very capable of producing revenue and the city received awards for its management approach. 

Making Arcata housing even less affordable with more taxes is contrary to the council’s so called commitment to affordable housing and disparages the successful and revered forest management system. If these lands are supposed to attract money spending tourists a sales tax much like Trinidad’s would be more appropriate if this system is indeed a failure.

Simply put the ADDITIONAL Fire Tax disproportionally targets lower and fixed income residents.

We all want effective first responders. But when there are considerably more false alarms responded to than actual fires something needs to be done. In 2019 4.5 percent of all calls in the district were fire related, of those a total of 23 building fires. Less than one every two weeks. 6.1 percent of all calls were false alarms. 

Nearly 10 times more calls were “good intent” or “service” calls than fire calls. 10 times as many medical response calls as fire calls also. 

(For clarification, the number of medical calls 95 percent printed in the sample ballot in the argument against Measure F was an error due to a draft being sent in via email. The corrected number was included in the hard copy delivered to the elections office but unfortunately that version was not printed. The Humboldt County Taxpayer’s League regrets the error.)

According to AFD there are more Captains and Chiefs than actual fire fighters. The AFD Fire Chief makes $120K per year plus a very healthy benefit package as Chief Campbell has mentioned, yet the U.S. average is $87K. Meanwhile our firefighters are more in line with the U.S. average of $47K.

Of course we all want good, expedient first aid and fire response. The unfortunate part of this measure is that it simply does not permanently fix a systemic problem. Moving toward a county wide dispatch and first responder system would eliminate the very top heavy salary structure of the current system and actually get more fire fighters and paramedics where they need to be.

As reported in LoCO last week Fire Chief McDonald, myself and many others agree this is the wrong time to raise taxes. 

Uri Driscoll
Arcata

A touchdown for science denial

HSU’s decision to help the San Jose State football team escape public health restrictions on its home campus by welcoming them to live and practice in Arcata shows a blatant disregard for the principles of public health and the wellbeing of our community. 

San Jose has a COVID rate of 1,383 per 100,000. Humboldt County’s rate is 379 per 100,000. Travel from areas with higher rates of COVID 19 is a leading cause of infection here, second only to contact with a known case. Importing the San Jose team’s entourage of 135 people and the inevitable stream of visiting friends and family, will also import more COVID cases.  

With our population of just 135,000, a few more cases could easily push Humboldt onto the Red High Risk tier, shutting down businesses, schools, and public life in an expanding circle of economic and social devastation. And all for what? Football?

College football is high risk for COVID transmission, not just because the game requires close physical contact but also due to its culture. A recent survey of 1,232 collegiate athletic trainers across Division I, II, III, NAIA, and 2-year colleges, conducted by the National Athletic Trainers Association found that 35 percent of student athletes and less than half of coaches and staffers in all sports are fully following COVID-19 related safety protocols. Football is one of the worst offenders. The NFL has already handed down at least $1.7 million in fines for violations of COVID protocols and is threatening to escalate penalties to suspensions and a loss of draft picks.

The idea that Humboldt County’s success thus far in containing COVID-19 transmission means it is not a threat is the kind of Trumpian opportunistic thinking that has cost the lives of 208,000 Americans and landed our Science-Denier-in Chief in Walter Reed Hospital, hoist by his own petard. 

I wonder why we haven’t heard from the HSU science faculty about an action which threatens the scientific integrity of their institution and their own prospects for returning to the classroom. We should all expect better from a neighbor and a university.

Wendy Ring
Bayside

President Jackson, please act responsibly

Dear Mr. Jackson,

You have made some very poor choices recently, but the decision to bring 135 athletes to HSU from a high risk area (simply to make a few extra bucks) is dangerous and completely unacceptable. 

Not only are you putting the entire HSU student body/faculty at risk, you are demonstrating just how out of touch your administration is with the greater community. Going against the advice of local (and California State) public health officials shows a complete disregard for the county’s well-being. At best, you are being willfully ignorant, at worst, unsympathetic, insensitive, and unethical. 

Mr. Jackson, now is an opportunity to act responsibly. Rescind that offer. Take the appropriate measures to keep our community safe. Prove to Humboldt that you put people, not profits, first.

Oryan Peterson-Jones
Humboldt State Alumnus
2020 Arcata City Council Candidate
Arcata

A clean air refuge

This is a humanitarian plea.

For the last several days, the air quality in Hoopa has been over 500 points (see purpleair.com). The scale for pollution tops out at 500 so it must be nearly impossible to breathe there. 

I am requesting that the Cities of Arcata and Eureka, surrounding towns, non-profit organizations, private building owners and the County itself immediately set up emergency clean air shelters. We have large empty buildings – community centers, vets halls, large vacant stores and other buildings where we can start offering respite today. 

We must offer emergency and immediate housing to anyone from Hoopa or any area in Humboldt County that is experiencing air quality worse than 200 on the scale.

We in Humboldt County are one large community and we must help each other out when there is a critical need. Now is such a time. We must act quickly as this is an emergency.

Please, this is a humanitarian crisis.

Fhyre Phoenix
McKinleyville

End mindless decimation

Some Democrats were reluctant to support old Joe Biden; some of them have changed their minds. Mr. Biden is not charismatic and bombastic and he is certainly not under the thumb of the Potentate Putin in Moscow; he is well beyond disgusting power-mongering and self-adoration; in contrast, he is thoughtful, resourceful and quick to employ the expertise of opponents and top-notch minority leaders, such as his running-mate, Kamala Harris.

Joe Biden’s wide experience on Capitol Hill and his endorsement and backing by powerful American icons along with some very significant Republicans, gives hope for more common courtesy, political compromise and best of all, a chance end to the mindless decimation of life on Earth! 

IT IS NOT IMPORTANT THAT WE ARE ALL THAT GREAT AND GLORIOUS – IT IS FAR MORE IMPORTANT THAT WE DISCOVER AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL!

John Wiebe
Trinidad

A tale of two payments

The voting rights of ex-felons vary from state to state. In two states, even incarcerated felons can vote; whereas in most others, voting rights are restored after release, except possibly for an extension of time for parole or probation. There can be exceptions for serious crimes.

Florida may be unique, because in 2019 it imposed an extra condition that felons not only complete their sentence, but they must also settle all outstanding related restitution, fines, and fees before they can register to vote. Many interpret this as a poll tax.

This year a fund was started to help pay off some of these debts. Billionaire Michael Bloomberg has raised $16 million in contributions which should qualify approximately 32,000 Black and Latino ex-felons to vote this fall.

In response, President Trump called Bloomberg’s actions “criminal” on Fox News, deeming these donations a felony equivalent to buying votes for the Democrats.

Meanwhile, in a recent speech in North Carolina, Trump pledged that 33 million Medicare beneficiaries will receive a $200 prescription drug discount card before Election Day with the cost covered by one of his Medicare drug price savings proposals.

It’s clear to see why Trump is offering this now. He’s attempting to win back some of the support of seniors that polls indicate he has lost since 2016. In short, it’s a bribe.

Comparing the two actions, I think it’s Trump who is trying to buy votes, not Bloomberg, who is just seeking electoral fairness.

Sherman Schapiro
Eureka

‘Let my people go’

 “The ballots are out of control.”   — Donald Trump

 During his middle-aged years, if that sick psychotic scumbag Donald Trump had spent less time fondling his favorite daughter Ivanka and more time reading, perhaps President Pedophile wouldn’t be the bumbling brain dead buffoon that demented Donald has become at his life’s end, while Hell’s flames tickle Trump’s buxom backside awaiting Donald’s downfall.

 Meanwhile, hilarious horny hypocrites like the Falwell freaks continue to abuse the word “Christianity,” as if it’s eternity’s metaphysical insurance policy for lifetimes of bad behavior and perverted predation. Jesus wept, indeed! 

You fascist, foolish fake “Christians” better hope to God he doesn’t send his son back here anytime soon, because y’all are in some serious spiritual trouble, especially after worshipping a dimwitted demon like Donald Trump as your grotesque golden calf.

 Maybe God will spare Jesus this time and finally allow Moses to reach the promised land by sending Moses back instead to smash his stone tablets upside your empty heads? Hide your first-born sons! (I’m talking to you, Donald Trump Junior.)

 “So let it be written... so let it be done!”  — Yul Brynner

 Sincerely,
Jake Pickering
Arcata

This is not who we are

I just watched the presidential debate on Sept. 29. It left me sick to my stomach and asking myself is this who we are as a country?

The president says he is a “law and order president.” But what he demonstrated during the debate was disdain for order, creating chaos through a bombardment of interruptions and insults and derailing the topic at hand. 

Where is the respect for law and order when a person doesn’t even follow something as simple as the rules of a debate? 

The current president would not commit to accepting the election results and a peaceful transfer of power. This in itself is an affront to law and order. He does not discourage his supporters from violence should he lose the election. Such an outrage would have been unthinkable a short time ago, yet there seems to be an attempt to desensitize the American people to outrage and to make us weary of caring. 

This is not who we are as a country, with a lawless president who incites the kind of violence which could be used as justification for declaring martial law. Are we, as a country, better off now than four years ago?

I ask myself, what can an ordinary citizen do to help? Why write a letter to the editor concerning politics when most people have already decided who they favor? Will a letter budge anyone from their position? Among my friends who are of different political beliefs, if this letter helps one person, then it has been successful. Perhaps the need to work for a peaceful transfer of power is right now!

In my mind I see voters electing someone who represents our values. I see people expressing freely the kind of country we want to be. I see voters electing someone who follows the Constitution and will abide by election results. I see my friends of all political persuasion speaking freely and respectfully in public, in debate and in letters to the editor.

We wouldn’t want our children to behave in such a bullying and unruly way. Why would we accept it in an adult? With our votes and our support, let’s give our children, our country, and the world someone worthy of respect—someone who supports the Constitution, the rule of law and the outcome of this election.

Peter Jain
Trinidad







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