Letters to the Editor, September 2, 2020: Just this once, let’s make an exception and listen to reason

Will the 2020 City Council candidates continue the neglect of Valley West?

I have enjoyed reading the biographies of the many candidates running for the three available seats on the Arcata City Council, and I look forward to those that remain. 

Many have said that this is a time for change in Arcata, and I agree. I feel that it is time to have City Council members who care about the entire city and not just the Arcata Plaza, Main Street or the Creamery District. 

I am and will continue to be an advocate for all the hard-working families and individuals that live in Valley West, the northern most neighborhood of Arcata. The Public Safety Task Force found this neighborhood to “present the highest physical danger to residents, city employees, and visitors.” 

Each candidate must realize that the vast majority of tourists and families dropping off their students at HSU stay in Motel Row in Valley West. If you are elected, will you continue to ignore this area?

The residents and businesses of Valley West gave their input at the Visioning Workshops over three years ago, with very little progress. The streets aren’t safer for the many children living there, encampments continue to pop up in the bushes and along the river bar, trash continues to accumulate in the shopping center, and there’s still no lights or trash cans at all the bus stops. 

When I checked with the city manager a year after the Visioning Workshop, she told me that she did not support the workshops from the beginning because she didn’t want to get people’s hopes up. 

I have also been told that the trash cans haven’t been put at the basketball court or the bus stops because the city is worried that people will deposit their home trash there.

We need only to look to our neighbor to the south, Eureka, for examples for how to move an entire city forward – a Children and Family Initiative (when I challenged the Arcata City Council and city manager to do something similar in Arcata, I did not hear back from anyone); their murals on the electric boxes throughout Eureka (and not just in Old Town for the benefit of tourists); their $250,000 set aside for Eviction Prevention (Arcata residents are forwarded to the County Eviction Prevention Program), three operational family/community resource centers (no similar center in Valley West where the vast majority of working poor live – the Blue Lake Community Center has stepped up to donate food for families in Arcata); and trash cans and solar lights at all Eureka bus stops.

As you reflect on the poverty and inequity that exists in Valley West, I ask you to think about the fact that someone approved the very expensive remodel of City Hall; someone approved the $150,000 for use by the Plaza Improvement Task Force; someone approved the new chairs meant to replace those in the City Council Chamber that are still sitting in the hallway, months after they arrived.

For the current City Council members and new folks running for these positions, please use your privilege and networks to make things happen in Arcata that also benefit those beyond the Chamber of Commerce members or those who can’t attend your City Council meetings because they are working or have children at home to feed and help with homework. 

Join us during our newly revived “Clean the Sidewalk” event the first Sunday of every month from 9 to 11 a.m., meeting at Hallen Drive. See what we see. Equity is an easy word to say, it is another thing to put in the work to make it happen.

Lucy Salazar
Arcata

Death and taxes 

Two sure things… death and taxes.

I usually write about seniors in our community but since the COVID shutdown, many of us are isolated and getting seriously cranky. I recently read a comment by Kevin Hoover about someone who was critical of the Mad River Union for writing “too many words”.

Three people told me that the fire tax issue is too confusing to read about or they can’t afford it or it’s a government conspiracy. Fear, stupidity, and ignorance are dangerous… not as dangerous as the rest of California burning up but thinking it won’t happen here is ignorant beyond belief, even for an old skeptic. So, here’s a few suggestions:

1. Ask just exactly how much the tax increase will be for you. For a single-family dwelling, the tax will be $98 per year or $8.17 a month with money left over for a stamp to mail your taxes.

2. For mobile homeowners, the increase will be $75 a year or $6.25 month. No stamp included.

3. Still think you can’t afford it. Try this:

a. Stop smoking. Drink one less beer a week.

b. Put a quarter in a jar every day (double if you want to count cursing). 

c. Stop grazing at Dollar Tree and Costco.

d. Use the money you’ve saved on two tanks of gas by not driving as much.

e. Have a yard sale, sell lemonade, cookies and keep your kids busy at the same time. 

JUST DO IT! HELP FUND OUR SAFETY NET AND STOP COMPLAINING ABOUT TAXES. WE CAN’T AFFORD NOT TO GIVE OUR FIRE DEPARTMENTS WHATEVER THEY NEED TO KEEP US SAFE.

Patti Stammer
McKinleyville

Grateful firefighter

Thank you community for your continued support of Arcata Firefighters. The amount of support Arcata Fire District has received as it attempts to pass a funding measure in November is overwhelming. 

Measure F will be on the November ballot and will determine if Arcata Fire returns to three fire stations or potentially drops down to one station. 

The Friends of Measure F community group has been leading the charge on public education and outreach and their efforts are much appreciated. The positive feedback and energy this group has brought as it fights to garner support for our first responders is amazing. 

Arcata Firefighters have always been here for our community and it is nice to see the community is there for us when we need you. Thank you!

Sean Campbell, Proud Public Servant
McKinleyville 

Baywood’s breakdown

Stacey Cootes, manager at Baywood Golf and Country Club, had no trouble believing me when I first spoke with her about my encounter with BGCC members. I really appreciated her initial heartfelt response, “I am so sorry this happened to you and it will be dealt with.” It wasn’t until after her discussion with BGCC Board President Jay Hight, DVM, owner of SunnyBrae Animal Clinic, that she became hostile, defensive and changed her tune; BAM, suddenly I became a liar. There was also, apparently, as she told me a couple of days later, a lengthy Board meeting during which the incident was discussed for two hours. I wonder at what point everybody there agreed to an outright lie?

Additionally, there was no signage on the road warning pedestrians or cars about the ‘chipping’ contest she says was underway. As an organization that has, “always respected our neighbors,” this lack of signage points to disregard for neighbors.

I don’t know much about golf, so after reading the article and her response I asked around about the game and what chipping was. I learned that chipping and driving are essentially the same thing, a chip, meant to fly high in the sky, is achieved with a club having the same weight, girth and heft as a driver. A drive, however, is meant to go long and far rather than high. Though the two clubs have different angles, the swing is the same. Not being a golfer what I saw was a man swinging hard at a golf ball, then that golf ball, in the air, looking like it was going to hit me in the head. After the first ball landed I did raise my voice so that I could be heard at the club patio (probably a distance of at least 100 feet from the road), through the thickness of the mask I was wearing, to ask, politely, that the golfers wait until we were past to continue their activity. I believe that was certainly a reasonable request.

My limited understanding of golf etiquette is that golfers always wait for players ahead of them to be out of the line of fire before playing through. According to golfsidekick.com, golf etiquette says, “Don’t hit if the people in front are reachable.” Well, I was in front and definitely reachable. Ms. Cootes asserts that my friend and I were never in any danger anyway because all of the golfers were expert enough to avoid hitting one or the other of us. But I’ll bet if Tiger Woods had been on that patio he would have waited, per proper etiquette, until we were past. After all, accidents do happen, and even ‘experts’ have bad days.

Also, there was no staff, “on the green,” as Ms. Cootes asserts in her statement to the press. I did, however, review the video I recorded and I did hear a man on the patio instruct the others to wait, after the second shot had already been lobbed and I had been called a bitch and threatened with physical harm (yes, yelling, “hit her,” is a threat). 

If this was the staff member she referred to as being on the green, I have proof that he was not anywhere near the green. He can also be seen quietly speaking to “John Smith” after his threat, at which point John shut up. What I don’t understand, however, is why this staff member did nothing to warn my friend and me about the coming shots, or to stop the play while we passed, or to deal with the harassment right then and there, or make an attempt to speak with me or apologize for the members’ bad behavior.

Lastly, I want to address Ms. Cootes’ and Mr. Hight’s behavior, attitudes and their representation of the BGCC membership at large. Before the article was printed I called Ms. Cootes and left a message suggesting a restorative justice meeting, in which all parties meet and talk in order to provide a safe space for apologies and an opportunity to come to a place of compassion and understanding. I have not heard from either of them, since that suggestion; and have never heard word one from Jay Hight. No one at Baywood has been kind or understanding. 

As a woman I have been a victim of harassment all of my life. I have used many tactics over the years to deal with these assaults on my being, and body, including keeping silent. This time I chose to speak up for myself and not ignore these boys behaving badly. And for my outspokenness they have, essentially, branded me a liar. I am many things, not all of them pretty. But, I am no liar.

BGCC membership, your leadership has failed you; and you should all be ashamed of yourselves.

Sincerely,
Kathleen Marshall, BSRN, HSU
Arcata

Regarding that ticket

Ms. Riel,

No, you don’t get a free pass to break the law because you’ve lived in Arcata for a long time, or because of a pandemic, or because you think you know the traffic laws better than the rest of us (Letters to the Editor, Union, Aug. 12). The city planners put up stop signs for a reason, and drivers are obliged to stop at them. 

And you don’t get to ride on the Black Lives Matter movement, because there’s a really big difference between being shot at because your skin is dark, and being issued a citation for breaking the law. And you did break the law. 

In fact, it is your arrogance that puts the rest of us in danger. Because you think you know the “traffic flow” so well, you’re not going to be paying attention and watching out for the unexpected. So, thank you, Chris Rogers, badge #42, for doing your job. 

Ms. Riel, if you think a stop sign is unwarranted, you can bring that up with the city. In the meantime, you’re subject to the same laws as the rest of us. If you can’t afford the ticket, take the driver’s education option. It sounds like you need it. And full stop at the stop signs, please. 

Katherine Almy
McKinleyville

Native land, lives

I took exception to candidate Emily Grace’s statement that we all live on Native land. Though it is a philosophical statement rather than an actual lawful truth, one must acknowledge private property rights are legally the law of the land. You may have the best lawyer in the world, if the reader has deed to their land, it belongs to them. That said, driving up Highway 96 recently highlights the economic plight of the Native peoples, and they deserve a better life. According to my best information, there are about 128,000 acres of Native land for less than 3,000 Indigenous people in our county, or around 44 acres for each if it were able to be allotted.

However, Native folks’ land is communal, they can’t build wealth by borrowing against land deeded to them. As a sovereign nation there are all kinds of regulatory headaches that prevent more business relocating to native lands helping them build wealth by business ownership. Same with natural resources development in an acceptable way to tribal members. Preying on the human weakness of gambling is one of the sole ways for tribal economic development. In this COVID-19 crisis, we’ve seen local tribes respond responsibly, and we won’t name those tribes that have shown less regard for the safety of patrons, many at risk elderly, by continuing operations against the best medical advice by maximizing profits. They are capitalists, but Native folks deserve better opportunities to build wealth. I support those efforts, and respect Native culture. Some Progressives may have less respect for private land ownership and support lesser land rights. Those with the lowest score in that regard include North Korea, Cuba, Iran, Haiti. Ironically, those with private property rights stronger than the U.S. are the progressive Scandinavian countries of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland. I know doesn’t jibe with the image you hear about preferred governance ideals, universal health care, high taxes and government services etc. of the Scandinavian progressive societies. The Sami, their indigenous people of the far north, have no special rights to currently held private property. Native peoples deserve the opportunity to build wealth without the failed current policies.

I will say, Ms. Grace seems like a nice person, nothing against her except here entirely voluntary beliefs about private property rights. That’s worth a coffee at Starbucks, but she’ll need three bucks, too.

 Regards,
John Dillon
Eureka







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