Editorial: NCRA Old Boys Club Rejects Fresh Talent, New Ideas, North Coast Residents

The NCRA figuratively re-enacted a scene from  Barney Oldfield’s 1913 silent film,  Race for a Life. Alexized, Stillmanated  and  Photoshopped by KLH | Eye

The NCRA figuratively re-enacted a scene from Barney Oldfield’s 1913 silent film, "Race for a Life."
Alexized, Stillmanated and Photoshopped by KLH | Eye


In expelling Alex Stillman from the North Coast Railroad Authority (NCRA) Board of Directors last week, local mayors of the City Selection Committee chose ideological purity over the interests of the railroad and North Coast residents.

Welding the NCRA to the rigid rail-only doctrine only ensures more years of paralysis and irrelevance. Experience has taught them nothing but how to waste more time and money.

Trails are expanding all over the country. Holding Humboldt hostage to a monolithic, rail-only 1950s transportation model hasn’t worked, and never will. The world has moved on.

Were the doctrine-driven NCRA to allow any fresh air to its rusting nostalgia-dome, it would find strength in diversity, and lots of energetic people ready to work cooperatively on shared goals.

One of those is Councilmember Alex Stillman, who, while serving on City Councils in the 1970s and 2000s, has helped shape Arcata into Humboldt County’s leading industrial and environmental power. It can be done, and has.

But tolerating new ideas would require acknowledging the logic and utility of Rails with Trails, which is anathema to the obstinate failure junkies at NCRA.

Embracing the sensible shared approach would make transportation life easier for the public, a negligible consideration for the rail-or-nothing die-hards, who are systematically making the railroad die, hard.

It isn’t over, though. In their haste to eject a new boardmember who showed dangerous indications of potentially accomplishing something, the inbred railroad debating society apparently broke the law with a Brown Act violation. So the Choo-Choo Boys' tawdry maneuver might be invalid.

Rather than working on the railroad, this is how the NCRA chooses to spend its time, and our tax dollars.


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  1. Ian Ray said:

    Mark Wilson, I see your point. Spending money on studies trying to obtain grant money for an impossible project is a little bit like playing the lottery.

  2. Mark Wilson said:

    The Eureka City council just spent 20k on a study whose results they didn't like ( ie results = E-W train super – expensive solution to a non- existent transportation problem). Now they want to spend 300k on another study of the same thing. The 300k may be from Headwaters fund?, but hey, lets spend it on something that will actually help – say the new dock or aquaculture facility, or a trail.

  3. Sherman Schapiro said:

    I would like to clarify the Brown Act violation cited in the above editorial for those who may be unfamiliar. A majority by number of an elected board such as a city council or planning commission for example, can not discuss an item under its purview unless at an agendized public meeting. This means private conversations with 3 or more council members together in a group or serially in some combination such as through sequential phone calls or e-mails would be such a violation. If one reads last week's North Coast Journal cover article relating to the Mayors' City Selection Committee (MCSC) NCRA delegate session, the reporter notes that Eureka city council members Brady, Newman, and Madsen all admitted discussing separately with Mayor Jaeger his vote last May. This is obviously a Brown Act violation, and I'm guessing had some part in having Mike Newman replace Jaeger at the second MCSC meeting in July. Additionally, it's also reported through Linda Atkins that there was never any official public discussion or action taken at any Eureka council meeting that would have lead to the Newman-Jaeger switch, and that she herself was never involved publicly or privately in such discussions. Just as Atty Bertain's letter that cited a technical error which had really no effect on the initial Stillman selection was able to get her vote overturned, let's hope that an apparently egregious Brown act violation (Newman's substitution) negates the second meeting which resulted in Fortuna Mayor Doug Strehl's appointment. Even if this were to occur, it's not certain Stillman would get the position as the deadline to assign a delegate to the NCRA has passed and the switch back to her might not arguably be in time. If it's not, the selection would then rotate to one of the other 2 counties involved, either Mendicino or Sonoma I believe.

  4. Ian Ray said:

    True. I guess the idea is they are wasting tax dollars by having ineffective meetings appointing and then unappointing people… but that has been going on for how many years now? I thought this is what they did.

  5. Ian Ray said:

    Isn't the "tax dollar" argument flawed? State and Federal money is already allocated for rail projects. It isn't like this would be our tax dollars, right?
    I am neither in favor of or opposed to rail, trail, rail+trail, or what have you… but, it seems like if everybody else is going to be paying for it, tax dollars are not a local issue. It is like our airport where an argument could be made that it is a waste of tax dollars to keep it open, but it isn't our tax dollars, so we want to keep it open. Correct me if I am wrong here as I very well could be wrong.

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