Wow. I really wish I hadn't read the recent article about Dan Johnson in the Oct. 10 edition of the Journal ("Meet Dan Johnson"). Before Mr. Johnson's plagiarism issue unfolded, I knew that he was a local developer, a Rotarian, a soccer coach and generally seemed like a decent enough guy. But now I know that in Mr. Johnson's world he doesn't know how to "own" a mistake, he tends to lie, is conveniently forgetful, likes to throw f-bombs when making a point, follows the "tried and true" political strategy of never explaining oneself or admitting guilt and if pressed on an issue goes into "freaking winner" attack mode to divert attention away from oneself and play the victim.
A simple sorry followed by acknowledgement of the true speech writer and perhaps how he and his wife were so impressed by the original speech that he chose to use it for his own daughter's graduation could have sent the current situation down a different road.
The only positive that I have garnered from this recent local drama is that while Mr. Johnson may not know the definition of plagiarism, both of my kids who are Arcata High students now know exactly what plagiarism is as well as the embarrassing outcomes that can result from it.
Dennis Houghton, Eureka
I first got to meet Dan Johnson as a defenseless seventh-grader at Zane Jr. High in the late 1970s. He and his friends liked to stuff me in a garbage can (popularly known as "canning") behind the gym on a seemingly regular basis. As a defenseless, smaller kid I could do nothing but scream. They made my life hell.
Surprisingly, I was able to reach him on the phone at his office last week, but he conveniently could "not recall" me or the incidents. He seems to not recall a lot.
"They talk about bullying in high school... ," Mr. Johnson said in the Journal's article. Well he was a bully way before that.
Ken Harper, Eureka
Dan Johnson claims not to be a "goddamned politician" but he clearly has what it takes to be one, including a win-at-all-costs attitude, a highly selective memory, a knack for obfuscation, unbridled arrogance, delusions of self-importance, the belief that the rules don't apply to him and really bad grammar. He kinda reminds me of Dubya, only cruder. I think he should resign from the school board if only because his many talents are being wasted there and could be put to much better use in a higher elected office. Dan for President!
Ken Burton, Eureka
Dan Johnson gets front page coverage, a good article, both sides of the man. The original families still rule this town, don't they?
What I see is Danco is the name on so many of the new constructions. Danco knows who to talk to in planning and zoning. Danco is working the federally subsidized affordable housing (no wonder the Republicans squawk). Danco is planning big subdivisions that will be what makes us look like Santa Rosa.
Yet if a regular guy wants to build a simple little house that will be truly affordable, he will be up against a bureaucracy that will confuse, delay, frustrate and double the cost of his project. This is what the planners should be seriously looking at.
My dad built houses in the '50s. All that was required was an electrical and a septic permit. I don't believe the layers of costly requirements we face today have really improved houses. It means that only the Dan Johnsons can afford to build. So we limit the creativity of our community, and have a severe affordable housing crisis.
Jessica Bittner, Bayside
When I was a young lad my grandfather offered some advice that went something like this: "Go ahead and let people think you are stupid. Don't open your mouth and prove it." This principle is really just the intersection of human behavior and the laws of probability. I think about this advice far more than anyone should have to.
For all the many gifts Carl Johnson gave his grandson to get a jump start on life, young Dan would have been better served by the wisdom of my granddad.
Glen Nagy, Arcata
Your piece about school board member Dan Johnson seems to suggest that his business history, his family and the "fiery glint" in his eye can offer human context to his plagiarism.
But here's the problem: Johnson seems to think he's the one who's been victimized and bullied. At the end of the article, Johnson asks, "I mean, who really owes who an apology?"
The correct answer? You, Dan Johnson, owe David McCullough Jr. an apology. Plagiarism is theft, and the Wellesley High English teacher — who is currently on leave writing a book based, ironically enough, on the speech you stole from — deserves a public apology. If the situation had been reversed, and McCullough had stolen your words, he would have been subject to disciplinary action. He could have possibly lost his job. It is doubly ironic that McCullough's father is a famed historian and writer — in that field, acts of plagiarism can end careers and destroy reputations. It may be no big deal to Mr. Johnson, but it doesn't follow that it's no big deal.
Mr. McCullough Jr. will, at the very least, have a fun bit of curriculum to help his students understand the problems plagiarism can create, "boyish good looks" notwithstanding.
Maja K Hanson, Arcata
After reading Ryan Burns' excellent article on Dan Johnson, there are several relevant points that come to mind. First, in spite of Johnson's attempts to deflect the plagiarism, he's the only one responsible for using David McCullough Jr.'s "You Are Not Special" speech without crediting the author.
He's also the one who worsened the situation by disappearing from public view for a number of weeks following the event, only to emerge and make a national spectacle of himself by blaming "the self-appointed referees of good and evil."
When his fellow trustees voted 3-1 that he resign, he wouldn't listen to his own colleagues on the Northern Humboldt Union High School District board of trustees. And now, he's gotten caught in a rather sticky web of lies he told to the NCJ article — and again, he has no one to blame but himself.
One last note: Dan Johnson may be a good family man, a smart businewssman, a kind friend, but in his capacity as trustee, the public has trusted him for his sound judgment and good character. To say the least, Johnson has not shown either in this self-created fiasco. If he won't resign, then folks who have the opportunity to vote in the next election should show him the door.
David Holper, Eureka