Community Development has done plenty of communicating about the General Plan Update, thank you, which is why they now have to do a shit-ton more of it

This is the image that greeted web viewers more than an hour before the GPU meeting actually ended.

After months of attributing concerns about inadequate communication regarding the county’s General Plan Update to “special interest groups” spreading “misinformation,” Both Kirk Girard and his snarky senior planner Martha Spencer admitted today that they had failed to incorporate or even solicit input from key stakeholders.

The admissions were made near the start of a six-hour meeting that reportedly ended with a unanimous decision to defer discussion about pausing the GPU process or creating an advisory group that would keep the planning process focused on the will of the people, rather than the will of the Planning Commission.

Community Development Disservices staff were, however, instructed to solicit the input of local cities, Community Services Districts and tribes–something that 12 years into the process Girard’s staff never bothered to do.

A few observations along the way, if we may.

  • If you’re going to hold a meeting to defend against allegations of shoddy communication, your argument is not helped when the speakers for the overflow crowd in the courthouse lobby don’t work, the computer stream cuts out before the end of public comment, and the TV feed goes dead in the middle of boardmember deliberations. Just FYI.
  • When Arcata City Councilboy Shane Brinton stands up and calls those who care about our local economy an “unholy alliance” of “greedy people,” we’re reminded that he is, after all, 12 years old, which is why his was far and away the most arrogant and immature voice in the room. We expect he’ll cultivate a more nuanced grasp of economic issues once his mom cuts off his allowance.
  • Natalynn DeLapp, if you’re going to sit behind the podium, all of your whispering, texting and giggling like a drunken sorority girl end up on TV, and your reputation as irrelevant political eye-candy remains firmly intact. As much as we normally enjoy ogling your rack, even we were relieved when you left, probably to get your nails done.
  • Spoiler alert: Scott Greacen threatened litigation. With a straight face and everything. We’re shocked!!
  • For Community Development Disservices Director Kirk Girard, a quick clarification: Having to make changes to work your staff has already done is not a downside of soliciting additional community input. It’s not an unfortunate side-effect. It’s the fucking point. That’s just something to keep in mind going forward.

And because we hate all the grim, let’s go out with a laugh. You know how we love a laugh. This one’s easy: Just Google “Kirk Girard.” Please. For us. It’s the awesomest thing we’ve seen all day.


Stranger in a strange town

This Times-Standard reader says public officials should make decisions based on the public’s best interest.

He must not be from here.

Sidestepping the process

Letter to the Editor, Jan. 22, 2011
I attended the Jan. 18 Board of Supervisors meeting in which the reappointment of outgoing Planning Commissioner Emad, was a vocal, focal point. I applaud Mr. Emad for his public service exemplified by many years on the Planning Commission. The critics of the reappointment were not critical of Mr. Emad, but were critical of the basis on which some members of the board were prepared to act.

Public officials should make their decisions based on what is in the public’s best interest. This should be the ultimate benchmark in their decision-making process. Injecting factors such as whether someone will feel “slighted,” “inconvenienced” or “hurt” have no place in the political, decision-making arena. There will always be someone “hurt,” “slighted” or “inconvenienced” by their decision.

It was encouraging to me that the new faces on the board recognized that the normal appointment process was being unwisely sidestepped. Once one starts short circuiting a well-tested appointment process it makes it easier to do it in again in the future. Why establish a vetted and proven appointment process if it can be sidestepped so casually? If the appointment term is four years, why choose an applicant who has publicly informed the board that they are not prepared to serve out the full term? A new appointee with “fire in their belly” may add a new and needed perspective to a commission that is publicly growing frustrated with the pace of the update process.

Bob Morris


The tragical history of Dr. Faust

faust_tnRemember Faust? No, sillies. The other Faust. Goethe and Marlowe’s Faust, that German fellow with the awkward syntax who sold his soul to the devil in exchange for–well, something. We forget what. Knowledge. Power. An extra two inches. Does it matter?

The story itself is your standard-issue dog turns into a devil, offers to serve Faust on earth if he promises to return the favor in hell, and after the deal is inked in blood our protagonist commences the illicit banging of a hot chick who kills her mom so as to facilitate additional banging before getting predictably pregged and her brother dies defending her honor and she drowns her baby in the river, etc., etc.

Bo-ring, really, but the arrangement clearly turned out none too well for anyone, including Faust, who after that odd jumble of plot elements still had to follow through on the whole burning-in-hell end of things.

But the story has been notably cheerier for the other Faust–Ralph, whose narrative goes something like this: A lawyer of enormously so-so abilities is recruited by Bonnie Neely to Humboldt County where he is named Interim County Counsel and advises the board during the drafting of the General Plan Update, after which he is appointed by Mark Lovelace to represent the Third District on the Planning Commission while it considers and revises the General Plan Update, while at the same time providing legal counsel to the Northcoast Environmental Center, an organization which, on its own and as part of the Healthy Humboldt Coalition, actively lobbies both the Board and the Planning Commission to achieve its preferred outcome to–you guessed it–the General Plan Update.

That Mr. Faust as Interim County Counsel generously if improperly released dozens of GPU-related documents to Mark Lovelace–before the latter was elected, before he was even a candidate to be Faust’s future appointer–well that’s just another thread in the web.

But here’s one important difference between the two Fausts: No one’s suggesting ours sold his soul to anyone.

Honestly. Who would buy it?

He suits me not at all, our new-made Burgermeister!
Since he’s installed, his arrogance grows faster.
How has he helped the town, I say?
Things worsen,—what improvement names he?
Obedience, more than ever, claims he,
And more than ever we must pay!


Welcome to Suckville

Here’s a little good news for you scare junkies out there so worried about Humboldt County turning into the next Santa Rosa. No worries, friends, because we’ve already turned into the next San Francisco!! Awesome!

San Francisco City Councilman

moves family out of San Francisco

by C.W. Nevius
San Francisco Chronicle

Supervisor Chris Daly, the sworn enemy of gentrification in [San Francisco], announced Wednesday that he has bought a house in the suburb of Fairfield and has moved his wife and two children there. The revelation brought out his critics, who highlighted the extreme irony of him falling victim to his own legislative efforts to encourage the building of low-income housing at the expense of middle-class housing.

Daly, who was 28 when he was elected to the board in 2000, has been in the vanguard of far-left politics since he arrived from Maryland in 1993. He has opposed legislation that would encourage tenancy-in-common condominium conversions, which middle-class housing advocates say would allow young families to buy a place in the city, and even called for a three-year moratorium on all condo conversions. In addition, he has shown little interest in attacking the issues of chronic drunkenness and violence in the Tenderloin, the kind of quality-of-life issues that make the city less family friendly.

And now he’s announced that he is moving his family to the suburbs. (Actually, although he says he still lives in his home in San Francisco, tax assessor records indicate that Daly and his wife, Sarah Low, have purchased two homes in Fairfield, one in February and one in April.)

“Here’s a guy who has not only consistently voted against working-class families in San Francisco, he’s introduced legislation that has hurt them,” said fellow Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier, who has taken her fair share of abuse for owning a second home in the Wine Country. “How invested in the city are you when you sit on the board for a few years and then decide you don’t like how the city looks and move your family out?”

Daly would not respond to interview requests, but he has fallen into the pattern of thousands who have come before him. Idealistic, well-educated young people move into town, rent an apartment and become champions of social causes. After five years or so, when they discover that they might like to own a home, raise kids or live in a place where they don’t have to step over a homeless camper on their doorstep on the way to work, they realize they will have to move out of town.

“The reason is that you have this largely transient population who come here with their college ideals and want to enact ideological change,” said David Latterman, a local political consultant and analyst.

“It’s an anti-middle-class agenda,” he said of Daly’s legislative history in favor of building low-income units. “It is really about using a portion of the renters in San Francisco as political capital.”

Latterman’s point is backed up by some simple math. The 2000 census says that two-thirds of housing units in San Francisco are renter-occupied. But the majority of new rental units are for low-income or very-low-income households. Between 1999 and 2006, a Planning Commission report says, there were more than 4,000 units built for low-income families earning less than $48,000 a year, but only 725 for families of four earning between $75,000 and $113,000.

“We maintain that middle-income housing is underserved in San Francisco,” said Tim Colen, executive director of the San Francisco Housing Action Coalition. “It is inconceivable, for example, that we could have a healthy, functioning school system without a solid middle-class presence.”

But young families get fed up – with either the high prices or the quality-of-life hassles – and move out. Meanwhile, the demographic that is encouraged is the low-income tenant.

“Why is it so damn difficult for a middle-class family to make it in San Francisco?” asked Latterman. “Because it is so expensive? How come there are so many low-income people, then?”

And now, after years of discouraging middle-income housing, Daly is caught in the same bind.

“I think that Chris did try to buy a place in San Francisco,” said Randy Shaw, executive director of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic. “But it is just too expensive.”

Maybe Daly should have thought of that when he was making it difficult for young couples with two kids to own a home in San Francisco.

Woolley to step down into hole he dug himself

Citing years of his own mismanagement, Humboldt County Supervisor John Woolley announced Monday that he would not run for re-election in November.

“I’ve devoted 11 years of my life to rewarding my friends, punishing my enemies, and keeping my daily 5 p.m. drink-date at the Waterfront Café,” the 64-year-old said in a written statement.

Woolley also listed among his accomplishments the Tamara Falor debacle, fruitless and costly Tooby Ranch litigation, failed redevelopment plans and the almost decade-late and still incomplete general plan update.

“More importantly,” the statement continued, “last year, in direct response to health and safety concerns raised by my constituents, I trimmed the living shit out of my eyebrows, and the response I’ve gotten is that now they’re really working for me—quite a bit harder than I’ve ever worked for any of you.”

The three-term supervisor did not say whether his eyebrows would run for office without him.