I've been shedding job titles since 2003. The first one was hard to give up — the title of editor. Later, we hired a sales manager and transferred those duties. When I turned 62, five years ago, I started to work part time, mostly supervising department managers two days a week.
Our company and staff have continued to grow these past five years. We hired a general manager at the beginning of 2013, Chuck Leishman, who has taken over most of the business operations; a promotions-and-marketing person later that year; and a new sales manager six months ago.
Last month when I turned 67, I told the Journal staff I was retiring from day-to-day operations of the company. I'll come in when I'm needed. My vegetable garden is loaded and my golf score is improving. (I will remain CEO of the company and retain the title of Journal publisher. Chuck is now publisher of all our magazines, including the exciting new quarterly tourism guide, the Humboldt Insider.)
So — are big changes afoot? No. Just growth and change.
On a related note, let me attempt to answer Russ Cole of Arcata, who wrote in last week ("Silent Supervisor," July 31) questioning why 5th District Supervisor Ryan Sundberg does not return phone calls and emails from the Journal reporters.
The answer is, I don't know, but I can guess. Before I do, I'd like to offer Mr. Sundberg equal space to rebut this column in an upcoming paper, a chance to explain his reason himself. (Is 700 words enough?)
My guess is he is angry with me personally. Many people, Ryan included, erroneously think I still run the editorial department and supervise news coverage. I do not. My job as CEO is to maintain the financial health of the company. My job as publisher is to have a strong mission statement to guide the editorial team. Other than that, I pitch a story idea when I run across a good one — and so can you. Sometimes my story ideas get reported, and other times they are rejected.
What I do have is my column. I've been writing opinion since 1983 (I was editor of the Arcata Union before the Journal). The title of the column has changed over 31 years with my job duties and title. But it's clearly an opinion column and separate from the news coverage. I expect most readers understand this. I certainly expect all elected politicians to understand the difference.
So it's my opinion when I say that this current board of supervisors — four of five anyway — has been unduly influenced by a cabal of "property rights" activists (called Humboldt Coalition for Property Rights), who happen to have a boatload of money. When I opined last year that someone should run against both Sundberg and 4th District Supervisor Virginia Bass, it was my opinion. When I opine that we will rue the day that this board did not pass the strong, sensible General Plan Update as drafted and approved by the previous Planning Commission after 10 years of public input, it's my opinion.
Sundberg and others may disagree with my opinion, but they would be hard pressed to find fault in our news coverage.
Here is a list of topics Sundberg has refused to comment on this year after numerous attempts by our staff writers: pre-election and election results coverage; a key planning commission appointment; Eureka Natural Foods' interest in moving to McKinleyville; the rise of Airbnb; a fighter injured at a casino event; Mercer Fraser's Willow Creek batch plant; and the county's medical marijuana outdoor grow ordinance.
These are important stories. We need to hear from all our elected officials and they need to make themselves available. That's my opinion.