Temperance League Fountain to get historical plaque

MIRE ON THE FOUNTAIN People's Councilmember Paul Pitino and Action Mayor Brett Watson cleanse the crusty Temperance League Fountain in July. KLH | Union

Steve Robles
Mad River Union

ARCATA – The Arcata City Council voted last week to form language for a plaque at the Women’s Christian Temperance Union fountain on the Plaza.

Following a unanimous vote, in which only City Manager Karen Diemer briefly mentioned the history of the temperance movement, the council formed a subcommittee comprised of Mayor Brett Watson and Councilmember Paul Pitino to develop language for the plaque. It’s still unclear what form the plaque will take.

“A lot of people who I’ve talked to didn’t know the history behind it,” said Watson. “I think it would be something tourists would enjoy as well as local residents.”

The temperance movement, while aligned with many of the progressive movements of the early 20th century, was also responsible for an ugly anti-immigrant sentiment not unlike the current atmosphere in which the nation struggles.

Watson and Pitino will consult with the Historic Landmarks Committee to develop the language on the plaque and what it will look like.

Diemer also said the city is still waiting for National Police Foundation findings into investigation of the killing of Humboldt State University student David Josiah Lawson. 

She said the report is expected within weeks, and that any findings that don’t impact the investigation will be released, although frustrated residents expressed their doubts.

The council renewed three-year contracts for professional services with the Arcata Chamber of Commerce, Arcata Main Street, and the Humboldt-Del Norte Film Commission, and approved an updated ADA transition plan, which will improve access to City Hall.

There was a lukewarm response at best to Pitino’s suggestion the council do away with the flag salute and Pledge of Allegiance that opens every meeting.

“One of the reasons I bring it up is it was introduced to the U.S. by advertising executives and it got accepted into the communities, especially schools, and just got imposed on them,” said Pitino. “The necessity of it, to me, doesn’t exist. I don’t think it has any place in our council meetings.”

“To me, it’s aspirational,” said Vice-Mayor Michael Winkler, “and I’m comfortable with that aspiration.”

“Right now I’m not interested in it,” said Watson, “but I’d like to think about it and talk to you about it.”

When Councilmember Susan Ornelas asked if Pitino wanted to “research the history,” Pitino suggested each member simply Google “history of the Pledge of Allegiance.”

(Pitino said later that were the pledge oriented toward expressing allegiance to the U.S. Constitution rather than the Stars and Stripes, he wouldn’t have any issues with it.
Pitino, who appeared on Fox News Channel during the controversy over the statue of William McKinley, said the conservative network had contacted him for an appearance over his Pledge of Allegiance comments, but that he didn’t return the call in time.) 

Following this discussion, the council adopted a revised city protocol manual.

City Engineer Doby Class updated the council on the continuing status of the wastewater treatment upgrade project. Class expects the plans for the project to be 90 percent complete when he addresses the council in March 2020, at which an estimate for the cost should be submitted.

After finally breaking ground on the new futsal field, the council received an update on a prospective new dog park, which Arcata is currently lacking, much to the ongoing dismay of area dog owners. 

The city manager informed Watson they have submitted soil samples for the Little Lakes site to the Environmental Protection Agency and is awaiting their test results.​





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