HUMBOLDT BAY BILLIONAIRE Rob Arkley, having long ago purchased the Eureka City Council and the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors, is now intent on securing public funding to study the feasibility of an East/West rail connection linking Humboldt Bay to the Sacramento Valley and the national rail network traversing the Sacramento Valley. Arkley, of course, has idle real estate holdings on Humboldt Bay. He somehow envisions Humboldt Bay as a deep water container port and conduit for Asian imports which, if there were an east-west rail link, could be being distributed to the east via Humboldt Bay. Except Asian goods can, and presently are, shipped through Canada and arrive in the major distribution center of Chicago a day quicker. The East/West promoters propose to build a rail line where none now exists, where no right of way exists and where they will have to traverse several mountains and rivers, gashing their way through a couple of national parks as they go. Even for a grandiose outback tycoon like Arkley the task is formidable. The City of Eureka is on board as are most other public entities in HumCo, since the area has nothing but dope exports and the college in Arcata going for it at the present time. The Port of Eureka was developed where there was a major timber industry in the area. That industry is gone for the foreseeable future. No one in a position to do the Arkley R&R seems willing to stand up to Arkley to tell him the East/West proposal is an expensive pipe dream that can’t be done short of slave labor and a blanket waiver of the rights of a jillion existing entities. And if it could be built, its cost of construction would never be repaid by its freight business.
COMMENT OF THE DAY: The shock value of these shooting incidents has been diluted by repetition. And we know that each one is treated as an individual “lone-nut” thing. Because we must not address the larger social/cultural/political/ spiritual reasons why this has become a regular and frequent thing in exceptional America. — Jeff Costello
MENDOCINO COUNTY lost one of its living links to the past with the passing of Lila Lee in Ukiah on December 13th. She and her husband Robert were instrumental in the creation and operation of the Mendocino County Historical Society and the Held-Poage Library in Ukiah where she was the librarian for decades. Nothing gave this pair more delight than sitting in the living room of their home on Grove Street and sharing stories and photos about Mendocino County history. Lila also aided the Grace Carpenter Hudson Museum and the Anderson Valley Historical Society Museum. The contribution of the Lees to the preservation of the history of Mendocino County is enormous, greater than enormous because without them much would have been lost. I just hope the Lees are properly memorialized in a place now dominated by transients.
NOT A WAY OF LIFE: “Why is it that the more San Francisco tries to do for its homeless population, the more homeless the city seems to have? In fact, San Francisco has done an admirable job of helping those homeless who are willing and able to use services to return themselves to some semblance of a functional life. But there’s another category of ‘homeless,’ in the form of the professional street dwellers, who use services simply to recharge their figurative batteries before resuming their preferred life on the street. To continue to provide a free support system to this second category of homeless in the hope that so doing will produce a socially desirable solution is the epitome of naivete. Similarly, to argue that someone who repeatedly demonstrates a complete inability to master the most basic life skills is free to choose to live unsupervised on the street is a sad parody of tolerance. San Francisco’s chronic homelessness problem isn’t caused by a lack of services or compassion. It’s caused by our collective unwillingness to say that living on our sidewalks or in our parks is unacceptable and to then implement a response to those who have made it a way of life.” — Riley B. VanDyke, San Francisco
THE ANNUAL Geminid meteor shower begins tonight. The Geminids, if you can see them through the rain clouds prevalent today on the Northcoast, can occur at the rate of about 50 streaks an hour.
COMMENT. What’s nearly as depressing as that event today in Connecticut, is how familiar all the rhetoric is, how shallow it is, how unwilling the media are to take it deep, to consider the true reasons these things happen, and are happening more and more often. At least Obama, alone in the coverage of today’s mass murder, showed some real emotion. Why do these things happen in America more than they happen in other countries? Beyond the easy availability of guns, and that horse fled the barn long ago, I’d say, in a fancy word, atomization, a dramatic social collapse that has left thousands, maybe millions of people crazy and alone, so isolated and angry that the angriest, the person most removed from human feeling, thinks his best revenge for the life he doesn’t have is to pick up a gun and shoot down kindergartners.
ENOUGH. 1. Only registered gun ownership, following completion of a 3-day firearms training course with rigorous testing; 2. No firearms or magazines holding more than 6 shots; 3. 10 year jail sentence for illegal ownership of firearm or ownership of non-compliant firearm; minimum 25 year jail sentence with non-self-defense brandishing or use of any firearm involving actual or potential injury; 4. Lifetime loss of ownership privilege with conviction of any felony; 5. Registration of all ammunition and firearm identification of all fired ammunition.
FROM MEN IN BLACK I: “You can have my gun when you pry it from my cold dead fingers!” “Your offer is accepted.”
NEW COUNTY RETIREMENT TIERS. No wait! Don’t doze off. If we had to sort through it without falling asleep you do too. Tuesday, the Supervisors decided how they were going to implement the new state pension reform law. “General” county employees can now retire at age 67 and have a pension that is 2.5% of their highest salary for each year worked, which is up from 2% at age 57 but takes longer to get. Law Enforcement can now get 2.7% at age 57, down from of 3% at 55. A fourth “tier” will be added which lowers the County’s fraction of pension contribution to 50-50, down from the County’s 55% share. There are a number of other provisions in the pension reform law regarding how pensions are calculated, such as which years are used to determine the salary that the pension is based on and cost of living adjustments. But the board decided not to authorize cost of living adjustments (increases) in pensions, a fairly substantial money saver. All the changes will mean that new hires will earn smaller pensions and will not get cost of living increases in their pensions. Lots of details remain to be ironed out, not the least of which is negotiating the cost-sharing percentages with each of the eight bargaining units that represent County employees. When the dust settles and new hires start coming into the system, the County can start reducing the amount they have to set aside for pensions each year, which, in theory, could free up some money for other programs and services. But it’s too early to know how much savings will result from this “reform” because there are a lot of variables for actuaries and accountants to factor in. Will the general Mendoland public notice any difference? Probably not. As Dorothy Parker said when they told her that President Coolidge had died: “How could they tell?” (OK, you were right. Go back to sleep.)