Planes and trains crash, so do cars, Even the GOP leaders can’t get from DC to the Greenbriar without a disaster. What’s a poor traveler to do?
The answer is HERE
Planes and trains crash, so do cars, Even the GOP leaders can’t get from DC to the Greenbriar without a disaster. What’s a poor traveler to do?
The answer is HERE
The Humboldt Bay Harbor Working Group is having its monthly luncheon on Wednesday, June 29 at the Cookhouse which will feature a presentation by the Timber Heritage Association. Those are the great folks who bring out the speeder trains on holidays and are working on a round-the-Bay tourist train.
The flyer for the event is HERE. Pork steak! See you there!
Well, our sleepy little Harbor District is stealing all the attention in the upcoming November election. As a First District resident, I didn’t even get a ballot since the two doofuses who were supposed to run and were too incompetent to turn in their signatures left the field to Larry Doss who gets the job unopposed. Disgraceful!
So the action is all in the Second and Fifth Districts, and might be summarized as Higgins and Dale vs. Rotwein and Angeloff. There have been many strange issues and red herrings brought up in these races and very little clarity. Greg Dale either DOES or DOES NOT have a conflict of interest. The Harbor District DOES or DOES NOT owe millions of dollars to the EPA. It IS binary!
Leo/Hank: One of the mini-issues has been Leo Sears’ shyness about being named a rail supporter by Hank Sims of LOCO. Hank, of course, is famous for having labelled rail supporters “morons” in a discussion about restoring the North/South, or Eel River route. I remain proudly one of those “morons” and I believe that restoring rail traffic to Marin would be a reasonable investment in our infrastructure, considering it could be done for half a billion and would result in a world-class tourist attraction if done right and properly integrated with trails. On the other hand, the East-West rail line being promoted by Angeloff is lunacy. It would cost at least a billion, have no tourist potential and have nothing to haul that doesn’t already have more efficient ways to get to market.
I cannot stress too strongly the difference between the two rail routes. East-West is a joke; North-South a noble endeavor. No one who has ever personally ridden the train through the Eel River Valley is opposed to opening it up again. No one. Yes, it will be expensive and will require more environmental safeguards than before but we would end up with a world -class tourist attraction which would attract folks who don’t necessarily enjoy backpacking.
I was for several years a member of an amorphous group called the Committee for Port/Rail Development. At least I think that’s what they were called. I have no written records of them although I must have attended several dozen of their monthly lunches at the Cookhouse. Kaye Strickland was the wonderful lady who ran those lunches. I’m almost positive that’s where I met Leo. The group was not only amorphous-it was pretty much chaotic. I don’t think they kept any attendance figures nor was any money collected. Every once in a while Charles Ollivier would stand up and give an impassioned oration. There was a lot of discussion but nothing ever HAPPENED. Out of frustration, Mark Matteoli and some other guys started a committee called RAPIT but it was pretty short-lived. If you stroll into one of the monthly lunches being held by the “Humboldt Bay Harbor Working Group” that evolved out of the 2012 Prosperity campaign, you might think you’re in a time warp. About 80% of the HBHWG were also involved in the CPD. More disclosure: I bailed from the Prosperity effort when we got to the point of recommending a full study of the East-West rail option. I didn’t think East/West would fly and I thought that would be the end of it. Silly me! The CPR-backed Rotwein and Angeloff campaigns are pushing East/West as a route for moving their chesnuts or cherries or something. If I’m a moron, these guys are lunatics.
A delicious complication appears to be on the horizon: Leo has taken out a Fictitious Business Name Statement in the Mad River Union announcing the establishment of something called “Economic Growth and Stability” located at TWO addresses in Eureka, which seems like a typo. The nicer house is located in the heart of Henderson Center and sports a huge Rex Bohn poster in the hedge. All roads led to Rex, apparently. So what’s Leo up to? We could call and ask but what would be the fun in that? Stay tuned.
When I get around to having my “MORON AND PROUD” t-shirts printed up, I’ll let you know. Meanwhile, the Times-Standard ran my letter the other day in which I advocate voting for Greg Dale and Pat Higgins. Wish I could vote!I
Letter to the Times-Standard, “Vote for Greg Dale and Pat Higgins”
The current Harbor Commission has, by and large, done a fine job in getting the District’s finances under control and setting a new course in the post-pulp mill era. The incumbents who are running for re-election, Greg Dale and Pat Higgins, deserve your vote. They bring experience and dedication. Their challengers bring flimflam and half-truths. The choice is clear. Vote for Pat Higgins and Greg Dale on November 3!
Sacramento’s Tower Bridge is the venue for a farm-to-fork dinner coming up on September 27 which sold out nearly 700 tickets in 15 seconds. That can happen with online fundraising. Ticket prices ranged from $175 to $625, and the Sac Convention & Visitors Bureau’s CEO was heard wishing he had a bigger bridge to work with.
Now I’m NOT for one minute suggesting we have a dinner on the Samoa Bridge. People would be shivering so hard the structural integrity would be threatened. But I think the concept of using an unlikely venue is a great one. Isn’t everyone tired of the Wharfinger? Everyone is tired of seeing men traipse around in high heels, too. It stopped being funny about forty years ago when women quit wearing them.
We have some great possibilities here. The Timber Heritage Society has rolling stock at Samoa that could be used for excursion runs to Eureka. What about the recently closed fire station near Myrtle/West? Everyone loves fire stations. For that matter, what about the OLD fire station on J Street near Eureka High? That is a really neat building inside. Maybe you could charge for giving people a chance to slide down the pole. Hey, I’m trying.
My point is, before you plan another pancake breakfast or car wash, think about our unique resources and use them as intelligently as the folks in Sac have done. They’re just like us, except they have more money.
“Please come to Boston in the springtime..” Remember that song? Well, you might not make it by springtime but starting June 18 and continuing till September you’ll be able to fly to Boston NONSTOP from Sacramento on Jet Blue for as little as $199 each way. Take your kids on the Freedom Trail! Or catch the train up to Montreal- a one day ride- and show them a foreign country. That last would be my plan and I’m almost excited enough about it to consider flying again.
In other transportation news, Siemens is having a kind of expo on February 25 and 26 on the Capitol Steps to advertise its bid re: the HSR contracts. Again, it sounds like a lot of fun for train freaks (like me) and kids (like me.) Check it out here or if the link doesn’t work check the Feb 12 edition of the Sacramento Business News.
The Rite Aid in Henderson Center is looking for new employees. You can apply this week at the store: the manager will be back next week to review the applications. Nice folks, good company, Union wages. Check it out.
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.
Saturday the 14th was my cousin’s kid’s graduation day from UC Santa Barbara. I wasn’t expecting much aside from heat and chaos so I was pleasantly surprised that the graduation speaker actually had something to say that was memorable.
His name is Jose Hernandez and he was born in French Camp. If you’ve ever known anyone from French Camp, you know it is a migrant labor settlement. He spoke of following his parents as they moved from job to job picking strawberries, lettuce, whatever. Finally a teacher took an interest in the family and convinced the parents to settle near Stockton so that the kids could get a real education.
One night in 1972, the family watch Gene Cernan walk on the moon. Jose told his father, “That’s what I want to do”. His father told him that he could do it but he needed to make himself a roadmap to follow. “And don’t skip any of the steps.”
Jose graduated from high school in Stockton although he had not learned English until he was twelve. He earned a BSEE from the University of the Pacific and then an MS from UC Santa Barbara. He joined the Johnson Space Center and held a number of assignments while applying for the astronaut program. He applied again, was rejected again. NASA let it be known they would like their personnel to know some Russian (for space station work). He learned Russian. He pursued every avenue they suggested. Finally, after TWELVE TIMES, he was accepted into the 2004 astronaut class and on August 28, 2009 he achieved his dream: two weeks on the Space Shuttle Discovery. He sent the first tweet from space in Spanish.
Since then he has run for Congress, unsuccessfully. Clearly we haven’t heard the last from him. His “Reach for the Stars” foundation encourages kids to explore careers in space. The gloom and doom which was underlying the ceremony due to the recent murders in Isla Vista could have taken over, but didn’t have a chance after Jose finished speaking. It was a good day, and he didn’t skip any of the steps.
FOOTNOTE: The road from the Bay Area up here is an AWFUL ROAD which seems to get worse every year. I kept thinking how much it would be to be riding a bus or a nice relaxing TRAIN. Talk about reaching for the stars!
My heart sank when I read this. It CAN’T get any worse, can it? Then I realized I was reading about Ukraine. Here, to give you something to think about besides the elections are accounts of two meetings in the last 48 hours, the County Airport Advisory Committee and the Humboldt Harbor Working Group. On the latter website, look up at the banner and click on “Community Forums” to see what’s coming up.
The Airport group meets on the 4th Tuesday of each month, currently at the Prosperity Center, 520 E Street. Eureka. I won’t give a blow-by-blow description because they have a very competent secretary, Mr. Fenton, who provides minutes of the meetings, so here’s just a few of the juicier items that came up.
-The Quest For Another Carrier. A small delegation from ACV ( Gregg Foster and Emily Jacobs, according to the Fly Humboldt Facebook page) staff will travel to Edmonton for a meeting on June 3 with THREE major airlines. These meetings were described as something like Shark Tank with numbers and load factors being bandied about. Apparently we were the only small airport to get meetings with THREE possibles, so that’s good work. This is against a backdrop of United cutting service to Vegas and cutting a Portland route which also serviced Eugene. Not specifically addressed at the meeting but clearly on everyone’s mind was trend by UAL and other majors to dump their low-volume routes in favor of jumbo jets (the “Dreamliner”) carrying big crowds to big cities. We wish the ACV folks well in Edmonton. If you’ve ever been there, you know they’re not going for fun.
-Infrastructure issues at ACV are going to be critical as the new Courthouse spurs expansion. Right now there isn’t even a safe way for pedestrians to get from the Holiday Inn to the airport without running across Airport Road with their baggage and limited visibility. HCOAG was at the meeting yesterday to present their initial plan for ground access. This will be a high priority since killing tourists is bad for business. The remarks was made that “We have so many needs, and not much money.” The word “insurance” was used at least 30 times during the meeting, just another factor in a complex operation. They will be working with Moser Properties to develop safe pedestrian and bus access
-The FAA is not the easiest agency to work with.
-The proposal to rename the airport the gawdawful “California Redwood Coast -Humboldt County Airport” is alive and well and the Committee will be writing to the BOS and to Jared Huffman soon for backing. Those of us who want to stop this abomination should act quickly. This County has already provided enough fodder for the late-nite comedians. Maybe the FAA will save us from ourselves.
EAST-WEST CONNECT- Ryan Burns was at the sparsely-attended Harbor group meeting and provided his usual excellent reportage on LOCO so I won’t duplicate him, not that I could. Bottom line is they’re looking for $300,000 for another study and have already been turned down by CALTRANS. This will be a long slog, but I’m a north-south advocate, so what do I know?
The last time I went to one of the Humboldt Bay Harbor Working Group’s monthly community forums I noted how downspirited everyone was after listening to an hour of “no”. No, the east-west train doesn’t pencil out. No, there isn’t enough identified freight to make it work. No, no, no. Yesterday’s meeting was completely different. The Timber Heritage Association reminded us that there are FEASIBLE projects to bring more jobs and more tourists, and everyone left in a good mood. There ‘s a lot of work ahead, but as someone said, there’s a light at the end of this tunnel.
(In view of the NCJ column by Marcy Burstiner regarding Brown Act violations, let me clarify that the meetings I attend on the fourth Wednesday of each month are the HBHWG’s PUBLIC forums and are not an inter-agency advisory committee subject to the Brown Act. I do not attend the AHHA , don’t intend to , don’t know if anything will come of it. The monthly forums are strictly informational, usually worth attending and represent a lot of hard work by Susanna Munzell and her committee. Glad we got that straightened out.)
Back to the THA which since 1977 has worked hard for a railroad museum and a round-the -Bay tourist train, and is shortly starting its summer schedule of speeder rides (if you haven’t been on one, speeders are crew cars that look kind of like a caboose.) They run from the Samoa Cookhouse on a short run, only 20 minutes or so but by God, it’s a train ride. Your kids will love it and so will you. The speeder rides are in Samoa four times a year, in Old Town Eureka twice, in Fortuna for the Apple Harvest Days and and have recently started runs in Loleta (check the schedules on the website.) The steam train rides at Ft Humboldt are all done by THA volunteers during the summer months. By now it should be clear that the THA is a major refuge for train nuts (like me) and they have rolling stock scattered around the county until a real museum can be organized. If you have never ventured down the road behind the Cookhouse, go check it out. They have several train cars right there, all of which are worthy of preservation.
Pete Johnston, who delivered the excellent presentation, pointed out that the Skunk is the major tourist attraction in Mendocino now and if we had a train museum and an opportunity for a train ride, that would be enough to get tourists to stop HERE, rather than shooting past us to Bend or other places with train-related attractions. Did you know the Samoa roundhouse is one of only four on the entire West Coast? That the THA is sustained by 6000 hours of volunteer labor a year? That’s dedication and one day it will benefit the entire county.
So go ride the speeders and support the THA. I’ve donated before but never joined up but I have now, just wrote them a check for $25 and if I can do it , you can, and should. They have a couple of fundraisers coming up and last year the Salmon, Oysters Ales and Rails BBQ in August was completely sold out (500 tickets.) Trains have been a big part of Humboldt County history and if the THA has its way they will be a part of its future, as well. .