Two bombshells from the Northcoast Environmental Center this afternoon:
1) Eureka City Councilman Larry Glass has replaced Pete Nichols as president of the NEC board.
2) The organization's drastic economic downsizing over the past year or so has been effective: The NEC is now debt-free, according to both Nichols and Glass.
Glass said the power transition took place last night. It will be his third stint as president of the board for the Arcata environmental institution but his first since being elected to Eureka City Council. Glass said he doesn't foresee any conflicts of interest arising from his dual roles, especially since the NEC dropped out of a lawsuit challenging the environmental impact report for the proposed Balloon Track project on Eureka's waterfront.
"I informed the NEC board before they elected me that I have sworn an oath to the Eureka City Council, and that takes priority," Glass said Thursday afternoon. He also advised the city attorney of his position at the NEC, he said. "The [NEC] board realizes they won't be tangling with the City of Eureka on anything substantial," Glass said. Asked if that might hamstring the agency, Glass said no. "We've got other fish to fry."
Nichols, who serves as Executive Director of another environmental watchdog group, Humboldt Baykeeper, will remain on the NEC board, Glass said.
As for the second bit of news, Glass said pulling the agency out of debt took some drastic measures, many of which weren't especially popular with members and supporters. Last year the group downsized significantly, laying off its executive director and cutting back on production of EcoNews, its monthly newsletter. The group also moved offices after it was forced to sell its Arcata headquarters building .
"We adopted a more businesslike attitude," Glass said. "When times are good, nonprofits can get away with livin' large. But times are tough. You have to run a nonprofit just like a business, otherwise it will go away. And I wasn't about to sit around and see the NEC go away. And neither was Pete."