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Boards and Rails 

Editor:

As stated in the Journal's article ("Run Out on a Rail," July 25), the North Coast Railroad Authority's mission is to "maintain rail service." Those who sit on that board should be all about fulfilling that mission, with "zeal," I would think.

Nothing against Alex Stillman; she is a fine person. She is also clearly on the "trails" side, and with all due respect, may she stay there, or wherever, but she clearly does not belong on the NCRA board. When it comes to political gamesmanship, we can expect all sides to fight hard and as fair as the rules allow. Such things can break either way, so don't be a sore loser.

True "environmentalists" fully support mass transit in almost all forms, including rails. Trails are nice amenities, but they are not going to serve or save planet Earth. Here behind the Redwood Curtain it is easy to hide from the harsher realities and we tend to think of environmentalism in simplistic terms, however it involves a lot more than cycling, and recycling. If the north-south rail line was still working, we would not now be widening Richardson Grove for truck traffic — think about that for just a minute. One can easily be so busy hugging a tree that they can't see the forest.

I agree that the east-west rail line proposal is ridiculous and costly. Further, not needed if the existing north-south line is restored to service. The cost to restore the north-south line, or to abandon it (with remedial clean-up) is probably about the same, and either will require public subsidy. BTW, mass transit (as with our massive carbon-intensive highway infrastructure) will rarely "pay for itself," and that was very disingenuous argument, coming from the left.

Terry A. Clark, Bayside

Editor:

This letter is not meant as a panacea or fix-all but might work in the short term for the betterment of this community. Let's look at history prior to World War II and the Great Depression awhile. FDR incorporated the unemployed in public works projects as the Works Progress Administration and Civilian Conservation Corp to provide sidewalks and other infrastructure for various community needs. The pay was about a dollar per day and stuff got built on a shoestring budget.

Currently the economy is in "recovery" — ahem — and the number of able-bodied food stamp recipients have expanded. Where are the community leaders that we elected besides infighting and posing? That safety corridor along U.S. 101 is so named for a reason and there is no excuse not to consider railbanking.

I propose that this community stop spending five or six digits hiring engineers to ascertain the costs — it is a simple job of manual labor. I propose that a homeless encampment could be temporarily erected and supplied logistics provided through various nonprofits, Salvation Army, etc. There are grant foundations that would support this endeavor to end homelessness (or houselessness). There are returning veterans who may feel a need to transition back into the community and this may work. And how many folks looking at the termination of their unemployment check are willing to participate?

Complete this project and you will reduce the need of a safety designation along 101, create tourism and recreational opportunities for the months weather permits, and you might instill a sense of community in those who are willing to participate.

Randy Myers, Arcata

Editor:

The introduction to the Ralph M. Brown Act describes its purpose and intent:

"In enacting this chapter, the Legislature finds and declares that the public commissions, boards and councils and the other public agencies in this state exist to aid in the conduct of the people's business. It is the intent of the law that their actions be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly. The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created."

The "public servants" over the last 59 years have made sure this guard dog has no teeth: No one has ever gone to jail for violating it. If they had, our city councils and boards of supervisors would be acting very differently.

Walt Frazer, Eureka

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