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Editor:

The suggestion by Hank Sims that critics of the Headwaters Fund Board "tape their mouths shut or jump into the sea in shame" ("Town Dandy," Jan. 29) is a stunning reflection of the snow job perpetrated on Sims and the general media concerning the gift of $500,000 from the Headwaters Fund to the City of Eureka Redevelopment Agency for a flake ice machine. That was not an act of redemption. A questionable "crisis" was ginned up to create a push to "Do it now", on short notice that was short on details and long on obfuscations. (Kinda like Obama's "Stimulus/Recovery" strategy.) 

The Headwaters Fund Board failed to recognize the answer to the first question that should be posed to any grant requester: What would happen if the request is not granted? In this case, the Eureka Redevelopment Agency was prepared to use their own funds, but on the principle of "You never know unless you ask" they made a request and got it. The Redevelopment Agency had the money, they just didn't want to spend it. The $500,000 is not a loan -- it's an outright gift to the city's Redevelopment Agency who will spend only half of that, about $250,000, which they will recoup by owning and leasing the equipment to Pacific Choice Seafood, with not a penny being returned to the Headwaters Fund. Of course, the grant application included a wholly unsupported and incredible claim that 525 jobs will be directly retained due to the completion of the project. 

This flake ice machine project was a Eureka Redevelopment Agency project all along, and they happened by a windfall of $500,000 due to the incompetence and lack of fiscal responsibility and common-sense evaluation by the Headwaters Fund Board members. There will be an appointment of a new member of the Board based on applications received by Feb. 13, but it will be another year before there are enough members of the board up for replacement to make a real difference in its continuing malfeasance and wastefulness.

— David Elsebusch, McKinleyville

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