Sep 18, 2013

Wharfinger meeting on homeless drew crowd that packed the building

The meeting at the Wharfinger today regarding the homeless issue had the building packed to capacity. About 50 people had to stand outside until people exited and came in one by one as people left, in accordance with the fire chief’s instructions. Eureka Police Department and private security dealt with some polite people who had RSVPed and arrested a small group of disruptive protestors led by the queen of protest du jour Verbena aka Kim Starr.

Contrary to the perception in the media, the email had been sent to mostly businesses, city and county asking them to forward it to anyone interested. No one was being barred or banned and the drama outside the building and the drums and annoying kazoo prevented most people from hearing the speakers. There were also select quotes from the email taken out of context to incite.

The email is printed in its entirety below. Read it and make up your own mind.

This group of professional “homeless” did not do any favors to those really down on their luck. And they were disrespectful. This childish behavior was continued by three unidentified women speakers who ignored the rules of identifying themselves and all they did was berate Mr. Arkley and disrupt other speakers. None of these speakers inside were homeless. Gotta love it when people who do  nothing concrete to help others down on their luck yell and scream at others trying to achieve something that may work and even better the situation.

Mr. Arkley spoke at the meeting and in his remarks mentioned that “we are not going fix the root causes of homelessness”, and cited drug issues, reuniting people with families as examples. “The goal tonight is to create a process to find solutions.”

Unlike other places, we are unique, he said, we are a county seat. A lot of money is dispersed from here. “Don’t blame the non-profits or the Betty Chinn Center…we want to put a microscope on the Health and Human Services and City budget. Half the people employed by the county are employed by DHHS.” He said Board of Supervisors and City Council people are good people working a thankless job. “They are not the enemy.”

Present at the meeting was a diverse crowd, business people, youth, elderly, people I recognized from various organizations. Supervisors Bass, Bohn and Fennell were in attendance, County CAO Phillip smith-Hanes, former city manager David Tyson, Sheriff Mike Downey and Police Chief Murl Harpham. The city council and manager are out of town for a conference.

The attendance was so great that the building was packed to capacity. Clearly people wanted to talk and there were some heartfelt testimonies. You had to be there. It might surprise you to know who has been homeless and the story of  these individuals who are successful today was touching.

The disruptive crowd was a minority and got booed. Perhaps it is time for a vocal minority to recognize people would rather live in Arkleyville where they have a job, can afford a home and feel safe and have hope for the future. People have compassion, they don’t want to enable.
As one speaker put it, “can’t help someone who doesn’t want help.”. Homelessness is due to many reasons, the circumstances for each individual is different. Solutions are not simple, black or white. There are people who do and people who gripe.

Meeting Regarding the Homeless Issue
Warfinger Building

Wednesday, September 18,  2013  
 5:30 PM

 RSVP   Yes or No   to

Please forward to your friends who may also be interested

Dear All, 

        Our County and City are being taken over by the homeless.  It seems as though many of the policies being pursued by our County and City governments, and certain not-for-profits, actually encourage the homeless to come here and stay here.  Free food, showers, clean clothes, assistance above state averages, free housing, lax jail policies are just some of the attractive  programs and policies.  Clearly, too much right has become wrong.  We have become a Mecca for the homeless and we all pay the price.  Garbage or dump fees from trash and discarded clothing left on streets, sidewalks, alleys and private property have become “our” responsibility.  Health and environmental issues arise from the same public areas and private property being freely used for urination and defecation, not to mention the aesthetics, or lack of, from this behavior.  The general public is not comfortable walking in certain well known locations around our cities and county because the homeless with their antics have taken over what should belong to, and be enjoyed  by,  all of us.

        I feel as though we are like the frog in the boiling water.  It has gotten to the point where everybody knows that the homeless are a huge problem, but nobody is doing anything.  All of our businesses are being negatively impacted.  It is difficult to attract people to Eureka.  Who wants to be panhandled on the way to an interview for a job?  What business owner wants to invest in real estate that is negatively impacted by trash and loitering?

        I think that it is time for us to get together and see if we can build a consensus on how to deal with this issue.  Specifically, I would like to know what policies and programs can be cut that will reduce the number of homeless.  I often hear that if we don’t provide certain services to the homeless, monies will be withheld by state and federal governments.  While some, especially government and certain not-for-profits, may consider this dire, we need to make sure that elected officials understand that while government may lose monies, our private businesses and households may well be better off without the crime, environmental damage and monetary costs that these additional monies attract.  It will also be interesting to see if the negative impacts of the homeless programs on local business and quality of life for the community are monetarily weighed.

        Folks, let’s take our area back and encourage our elected officials to take steps that consider the overall negative impacts on all of us created by enrolling in programs designed to “help” the homeless.  I have no doubt that when weighed against the loss of governmental revenue, the benefits to all of us by rejecting the monies would dwarf the downside.

        I would like to see if any of you would like to join a group that deals with the most pressing issue that our area faces.  



Arrogance unchecked

A malady seems to be affecting certain Humboldt County citizens. I call it selective amnesia. And it is coupled with the side effect of attacking others instead of taking a look at one’s actions. The ultimate diagnosis: arrogance unchecked.

A recent example is the Dan Johnson controversy.  Raise your hands if you are sick of hearing about this local brouhaha. There is a valuable lesson to be learned by both sides.

Mr. Johnson, by now you must get what plagiarism is; perhaps you need to look at the definition of hubris. Your original apology would have been enough for most people. The reason this issue has become a mountain out of a molehill is because you chose not to respond to the original incident properly. When you finally did, you bragged about your contributions to the community and called others, “the self-appointed referees of good and evil”. You further added insult by saying, “But I'm comfortable in the knowledge that their intolerance, so readily on display, is a far more profound flaw than mine”.

At the recent board meeting when you were given a chance to correct the past mistakes with a proper apology which would have nullified any reason calling you to resign, you said, “There's nothing I could have said in that apology that would have been good enough for the haters. It's over. The board needs to move on.” The person who needs to move on is you. It is you who have dragged this issue out for months instead of giving a sincere apology. Your standing in the community does not entitle you to special privileges. You earn respect, Mr. Johnson, not demand it.

Some of your supporters should not be your PR advisers. Their advice has made you appear intolerant and insensitive to people who simply wanted you to say, I am sorry and mean it. 

Sometimes people get so entrenched in their egos and position. This coupled with personal issues make them lash out at others instead of admitting they made a mistake. Your apology and your resignation would have bolstered the belief of your friends and supporters who want people to see the Dan Johnson they know.

This controversy is embarrassing for the school district and your business. In a small community like ours, everything we do is under a microscope. Being human we all make mistakes. Sometimes those errors result in some people attacking us, gossiping about us, or lying about us. And the natural response is to defend yourself. It takes a strong man to know when to walk away and take the high road.  If you are being unfairly maligned, that action alone would speak volumes.

An elected official has to have a thick skin, especially in a small community. You are a self-made businessman that many respect in this community.

The people who have been disrespectful to you need to take equal responsibility because they took a honest mistake and blew it out of proportion. If Mr. Johnson apologizes from the heart, will you all do the same? If you still insist on his resignation after that, your actions are worse than a speech that didn’t get credited.