Sep 25, 2011

Championing for causes -- and people you represent -- can be done in a civil manner
John Chiv/For the Times-Standard
Posted: 07/12/2011 02:40:33 AM PDT

Councilwoman Atkins, we have only spoken twice, very briefly. It was not about politics, which was good because I got to see the person behind the council dais. We represent different spectrums of political beliefs; however, if we talked more, I hope we could find some common ground.
The Linda Atkins that I chatted with on these two occasions was a friendly, intelligent, articulate woman and I can see why your supporters are so loyal. One of the occasions when we spoke was over refreshments after the new council members were sworn in and before their first council meeting. We laughed and chatted. This should not be unusual, but it may have seemed so to some, because I have been very clear about whom I support politically. I saw our dialogue as the spirit of cooperation essential to move this community forward.
Moments after this pleasant conversation, I watched you turn around and “attack” your fellow council members and others, and it was personal. They are not just my elected representatives, but my family, my friends and my community members.
I am genuinely bewildered at the Linda Atkins I see sometimes at city council meetings and the comments I read from you in the media. The level of anger expressed -- and the disrespect shown toward your colleagues -- has me questioning which is the real Linda Atkins?
The last My Word I wrote got a response from you, in which you called me disingenuous. I never responded, not to you or the personal attacks from certain “progressives.”
Championing for causes -- and people you represent -- can be done civilly.
Most recently, you spearheaded a petition to fire the city manager. Your supporters and those who praised Garr Nielsen brought up money and what it cost the city. Do you think the time you spent on this petition and the meetings in which a loud, disrespectful group of your supporters showed up was in the best interest of the city, and was your time spent on this single issue a wise use of taxpayer money?
After serving on the city council for three years, you know that a majority of the elected city council can terminate the city manager's contract. A former city council member with a grudge and a handful of angry residents cannot. Garr is in Oregon. He has moved on -- why can't the rest of you? Maybe because it isn't about Garr but much ado about nothing to distract people and fuel divisiveness.
Our community seems to have certain angry, bitter people, many who are the very same people who protest anything the city tries to do. It is the same names and faces that show up on a regular basis at city council to complain.
Whether it's Jefferson School or protesting a cell-tower or preventing Teen Challenge from taking over an abandoned building, it is always the same people who have a problem. There are never solutions, always blame, because it isn't about issues; it's about attacking people who they disagree with, and yet those attacked take the higher road every time.
It is about thwarting any real change and taking political pot shots and hanging out at council meetings than actually working to make a dent in homelessness or poverty or creating legitimate jobs that would increase our tax revenue.
The people I voted for have been consistent in their support and acknowledgment of me. They are proud to associate with me, and I don't have money and I don't wear fancy clothes.
How many meetings did it take before you and former City Councilman Larry Glass and the same vocal “majority” reluctantly listened. According to all of you, the Marina Center was not the voice of the people. Measure N passed with 70 percent voter approval this past November.
It's time for a few to stop the conservative versus progressive game. Most of us, regardless of our beliefs, want the best for this community. Think how much we could accomplish if we worked together and moved our city forward.

My Word: All views need to be heard for change to happen

When I moved to Humboldt, I was as politically involved as the average person on the street. I read the newspaper, I watched the news. However, like many others out there, I started to get sick and tired of the tactics employed by a few radicals in Humboldt County to stagnate our community; tired of the elite few claiming to be the voice of the people.
When the so-called “progressives” are against progress and the environmentalists are against cleaning up the environment, people like me take back our power, stand up and say, “enough!”
A year ago, I decided to volunteer for certain campaigns. I sat in on numerous public meetings. I began to understand more about campaign themes, messaging, budgets. I also got to see how “behind the scenes” players involved in Humboldt County politics operate. On Nov. 2, 2010, there was a change. The election is over and there are people, regardless of party affiliation and beliefs, that are ready to work together for the benefit of the community we all call home.
There are others, a small vocal minority, that still don't get that their vitriol and manipulation of the process is polarizing and divisive. They are still in denial that it is such negativity that turned off most voters. They still insist on the same behavior that is counterproductive to the interests of all in Humboldt County. Many of the former political heavyweights who thought they were untouchable are now politically irrelevant.

I am an independent. Extremes in either party are not worth my time. Despite my beliefs, I enjoy respectful discourse with people who have different views than me and I support dialogue that includes all voices. Locally, conservative and moderate voices are rarely heard.
Are the elite few among the “progressives” in touch with the average citizen and their concerns?
Local Solutions and Democracy Unlimited were once thought of as being powerful in local politics. In the 2010 election, Local Solutions provided campaign data and consulting to several candidates including Pat Higgins, Patrick Cleary, Bonnie Neely. Almost every candidate who hired Local Solutions lost their race.
Democracy Unlimited got Measure T on the ballot and passed before a judge threw it out as unconstitutional. When former Supervisor Bonnie Neely took $10,000 from an Orange County real estate developer's corporation, did the bastions of “no corporate money from outside Humboldt County in local elections” publicly chastise the former supervisor? No -- they endorsed her. If you talk the talk, you better walk the walk. It is this kind of double-speak that no longer works.
Someone once claimed that no candidate ever lost a local election with the endorsement of the Humboldt County Democratic Central Committee (HCDCC). Peter LaVallee has lost three elections in 10 years. Ron Kuhnel has lost the last two elections in a row. Larry Glass, Patrick Cleary and Bonnie Neely lost.
Since Home Depot was rumored coming to Eureka, Bill Pierson stepped up his political donations to the radical “no growth” candidates, giving over $100,000 the past five years to far-left candidates. I don't know about you, but I have to compete in my field. Competition makes us better. Despite all the money, the candidates that Bill Pierson supported lost.
Voters like me are turned off by the hate and disrespect among the local progressive elite. They are not open to moderate voices that can work with all factions of the community. During the elections, I attended endorsement meetings where these elite fawned over their chosen candidates and rebuffed others. Even after the elections, they chose to ignore the outreach by the newly-elected officials. When the agenda of radicals is defeated, they chose to name call and personally attack elected officials and their families and supporters. I still see these divisive tactics now at public meetings where leaders prey on the genuine causes of community activists in the name of the greater good. Claiming to represent the people, it is these extremist policies and support of far-left candidates that has contributed to unreasonable dependency on government in this area, worsened the struggle of the poor and the working class in this area, and continues to contribute to the crime and blight in this area.
Change in this community is not going to happen until people get involved and all views are heard. For that to happen, people need to feel welcome and safe to voice their varying political and personal beliefs in the media, in local political organizations and at public meetings.