Happy Retirement, Wally Cunningham

I took my car into Old Town Brake and Auto at 4th and D as I have for the past 15 years and Wally told me he’s retiring at the end of the month, turning the shop over to his son Brian (whose own shop, Eureka Brake & Automotive, on Second Street, will remain open.) Wally has achieved the American dream- a successful business to pass on to his kids and as far as I can figure he did it the old -fashioned way-through hard work. Keeps the same employees around for years too. Stop by and say goodbye to Wally and Sharon, who are remaining in the area. We’ll miss ya, Wally. 

And I’ll be offline for a few days while St. Joseph’s installs my new knee. Or should that be, my knew knee?  Blessings of the season to all of you.

Humboldt Saltwater Anglers’ Update

We are always proud to share the Humboldt Area Saltwater Anglers’ newsletter because a) it’s informative and b) it LOOKS so good.  Here is the latest from this stellar organization. It takes a while to load.  Good things are worth waiting for.

The Eagerly Awaited Humboldt Soup Company

..is holding its official opening tomorrow. Here’s a link to the menu as posted on Facebook (they don’t have their website operational yet) so you can check it out before lunch tomorrow ’cause it sounds like there’s going to be a stampede. You have to scroll down aways to see the whole menu. The beet salad sounds incredible. Good luck to them!

October Economic Index Is In

This month’s Index reflects an economy in the doldrums.  Although the Composite Index increased 1.2 points this month, it is down 2.2 points from this time last year. Retail and Employment are up, Home Sales, Hospitality  and Lumber showed declines. Again our thanks to Dr. Eschker and his hardworking team.

Fun in the Sun

As the cold November winds prepare to blast us into winter, wouldn’t you like to fly away to a land of perpetual sunshine? Someplace like Maui?

Well,  two dozen California legislators have packed their swim trunks and sunscreen and have flown to Maui.  These lucky folks are being treated to a five-day conference at the Fairmont Kea Lani Hotel in Wailea,  where the rooms cost $350 per night. But they won’t see a bill. Their expenses ($2500 per lawmaker) are being paid by  a non-profit called the Independent Voter Project.  Who are they? They include:

Occidental Petroleum and the Western States Petroleum Association

Eli Lilly

the Altria tobacco firm

the California Cable and Telecommunications Association

the State prison guards union 

the California Distributors’ Association tobacco and other products).

Just to make sure our legislators get enough rest, a mini-conference from Nov 19-23 will be held just down the road at the Grand Wailea. The sponsor is the Pacific Policy Research Foundation whose supports include Eli Lilly (again), PG&E, and Amgen.

Who attends these gatherings? That’s a semi-secret but legislators from both parties routinely show up as well as power brokers like former assembly speaker John Perez. The only people who don’t get a seat are you and me. Patrick McGreevy lays it out in the LA Times.  

Every year they have these elitist parties with the public left out and every year people bitch about it, but here we are again. And Jerry Brown,  who doesn’t make many mistakes, vetoed a bill  that would have required nonprofits that pay for legislators’ travel to meetings like this, to disclose their donors.

But what good does disclosure do? These people have no shame.  Next year they’ll do it again. Even with a series of recent scandals, they’ll do it again unless someone stops them. Write to Mike McGuire, write to Jim Wood, join California Common Cause.

Maybe next year we should crash the party? Or at least get them to hold it in-state?  Box lunches at the Wharfinger should be good enough for those who are really doing the people’s business. 

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Annals of Customer Service- TriCounty Bank and CCCU

When I saw that strange-looking letter, I knew it meant trouble. Here was a letter from BOTH North Valley Bank and Tri-Counties Bank, which has absorbed them.  At the bottom were TWO signatures, one from each bank. When I worked at Pearl Harbor, the CO used to say, “Split responsibility is no  responsibility.”  The Old Man was right. 

The letter was dated October 3 and notified me that as of October 25, a new servicer, Tri-County, ‘will be collecting your mortgage payments from you” and exhorted me to send all payments due on or after October 25 to TriCounties Bank at a Chico address.  I called both numbers to find out that to expect. My mortgage payments are automatically deducted from my Coast Central account.  I called Coast Central and both of the numbers on the letter. No one knew anything except that one person thought that TriCounties would be sending me a letter, maybe even telling me what my new account number would be. Nothing came.

I called Tri-Counties again and was told that all the information was in the packet that was sent to me. I explained that no packet had been sent. Finally they told me to visit the TriCounties branch after November 1. On the morning of Monday , November 3, my mortgage payment cleared! Now I could avoid a useless trip to Tri-Counties, right? Oh no, I called and was told by a nice young lady that I had to come in, anyway. I obediently drove to their branch, which was having the signage changed. It turned out the only reason for making me come in was to pick up the stupid packet, WHICH THEY COULD HAVE MAILED TO ME.

Now that I know Tri-Counties is in such dire financial  straits that they cannot afford first-class postage and an envelope, I will be following their fortunes with renewed interest. 

Meanwhile, a Friend of the Blog filed the following: 

“I tried to simply cash a small $260 check (usually $300) from my wife, done monthly , mostly in McKinleyville’s CCCU. Both of us have an account at CCCU. I told the teller my member #. I assume somewhere on their screen it would show that I have 10Kin checking alone. I have lived at the same home address with the same phone number for 43 years and have been a member of CCCU for decades. My CDL was expired and the clerk was not going to let me cash the check without an unexpired CDL. When I pointed out much of the above, I was told that next time I would need an unexpired CDL.  I asked the teller to ask management why? Are they law enforcement? What next, you need to be a currently licensed driver?  I have both a current license and a CA ID card. I have never had a point against my license since I started driving at age 15 1/2. DMV is using the same photo for both.  My credit score is well above 800.  I have a VISA with CCCU. I have two monthly deposits from CAL-PERS and Social Security into this CCCU’s checking. DMV never asked for the expired license. I held onto it thinking it would be a valid Government issue photo ID-  not at CCCU. What a tale of woe.” 

What a tale of woe, indeed. Whatever happened to recognizing your customers?

I drop into Tasty Tacos (in Cutten, on Walnut) every week and when Tom announces “Julie, you’re order’s ready,” all’s right with the world. The banks should be learning from small business. Boy, should they. 

Election Notes October 2014

I don’t profess to be a “Famous Humboldt blogger” like our friend  Fred.  (Fred has a good sense of humor.) And I have to confess that I haven’t been as involved in politics as I normally am, due to family and health issues, but elections are important and I’ll put my two cents in. I think most of you know that I’m a nonvoting member of the HCDCC, and a lifelong Democrat.  

Eureka City Council- this is the easiest call. Natalie Arroyo and Kim Bergel are like a breath of fresh air compared to their undistinguished opponents, about whom the less said the better.  Give these two women a shot. You won’t regret it.

Fair Wage (Prop R)- I just accosted John Forrest, the owner of Hole-in-the -Wall, down at the store. I had not visited my favorite sandwich place in some weeks because I was so irritated at his apparent callousness in remarks reported by the Times-Standard. Then on Saturday, while I was struggling with my groceries in the Winco parking lot and the rain was starting to fall,  one of the HITW employees saw me and helped me.  Now I’m a regular again because of his STAFF. Mr Forrest is a genial guy but no one patronizes HITW because of him, it’s because of the STAFF. I hope the Fair Wage initiative passes. Yes, I know prices will rise. As an old lady on a fixed income, I’ll manage and so will others. There has been more ugliness and hypocrisy around this issue than any I can remember and it has been dismaying to behold.

No GMOs (Prop P)- If the family farmers who bring us the Farmers’ Markets and enhance our quality of life so much are for it, then I’m for it. ‘Nuff said.

FInally, the public safety measures, County Measure Z and Eureka Measure Q, are certainly worthy of your support.  Thanks to ALL the candidates and campaign workers for giving your time.  

September Humboldt Economic Index

Dr. Eschker and his dedicated group have published their Economic Index for September.    They found that in September Hospitality, Lumber, Employment , and manufacturing orders  were up, while Home Sales, Retail, unemployment claims, building permits and “help wanted” advertising were down.

Planes and Trains- Transportation Updates

AIR- Redding gets a grant.  Redding has been awarded a $450,000 grant from the Dept of Transportation in the form of a revenue guarantee to help SkyWest defray the cost of replacing their current turboprop (Embraer Brasilia) service with Canadair Regional Jets, according to the Redding Searchlight Record. The grant requires a $50K match and does NOT guarantee that jets will return to Redding but is a necessary first step in that direction. SkyWest recently pulled out of Modesto and is discontinuing service to Chico in December.

RAIL-HSR is on the way.   The California High-Speed Rail Authority took the first step toward actually buying trains, opening bids for a billion-dollar contract to build trains and maintenance facilities. Siemens, which has a location in Sacramento, will be among the bidders, and interest from Chinese and Japanese manufacturers is expected to be strong. The specs are that the trains must be able to deliver passengers from San Francisco to Los Angeles in three hours. If Siemens prevails, the economic benefits to the Sacramento area would be substantial.

MORE RAIL- The Economist reminds us that HSR is nothing new, in fact it’s been around for 50 years, just kinda slow in coming to California. Fifty years ago this week the Osaka-Tokyo line commenced operations and has “since whisked 5.6 billion passengers across the country without a single serious accident.  Punctuality?  The average delay is  less than a minute.” Japan’s HSR, at 200 mph,  is actually pokey compared with China’s Shanghai maglev  (430 kph) or the maglev being developed to update the Tokyo-Osaka run to a speedy 500 kph, about an hour’s time. This will cost $47B, but the Japanese have a government that is willing to invest in infrastructure. 

STILL MORE RAIL- Closer to home, a three-judge panel of the 1st District Appellate court found that the North Coast Railroad Authority and its partner the Northwestern Pacific Railroad can expand freight service without further environmental review.  Specifically, the panel found that freight rail traffic is interstate commence and not subject to the California Environmental Quality Act.  The envronmental groups that brought the suit, Friends of the Eel River and Californians for Alternatives to Toxics, had not announced at press time whether they would appeal. The NCRA’s next step is to raise $5M to rehabilitate the tracks between Windsor and Cloverdale and to recruit customers for the freight service between Napa and Windsor which currently runs twice a week. 

END