On Nov. 9, Arcata Main Street Board Member Travis Turner emailed a letter of resignation to Neyra and others, in which he alleged misdeeds and said he was looking into the legality of the board's actions. Turner said, in part: "I feel that you and your company profiting from the Oyster Festival creates a sizable conflict of interest. ... I feel that Jennifer Koopman has unfairly taken the fall for actions decided on by the AMS board of directors, not by Ms. Koopman.
Turner also complained in the letter (see below) that he was not contacted nor allowed to vote on Koopman's dismissal.
Over the phone, Neyra responded to Turner's resignation and accusations: "It's unfortunate. We would have liked to have had his feedback on the board." Neyra said Turner had been unavailable for the vote, so the board went ahead with it because it "needed to move forward."
I'm sending this message to let you know that I resign as a board member of Arcata Main Street. I will also be contacting legal representation to find out if your actions in the last few weeks are legal.
As you spoke on the phone the other night, holding it away from your ear while I tried over and over again to break into your 30 minute justification, I realized that the organization is not something that I feel comfortable being a part of at this time. Here are the reasons.
1. I feel that you and your company profiting from the Oyster Festival creates a sizable conflict of interest. Your business was paid to produce t-shirts and banners last year and several years before that. I also know that you butted head with Ms. Koopman, telling her to spend more money with your company.
2. I feel that Jennifer Koopman has unfairly taken the fall for actions decided on by the AMS board of directors, not by Ms. Koopman.
3. I was not contacted, nor allowed to vote for whether or not Ms. Koopman would lose her position at Arcata Main Street. You told me on the phone that all of the other three board members were in agreement to ask for Ms. Koopman's resignation. I found out after the fact that this was not true a misrepresentation of the facts. One other board member was not in agreement. You have also told the media that there are only three board members and that the decision was unanimous. You told another board member that you tried to contact me, which you didn't.
4. At this point I feel that you have destabilized the organization, misrepresented the organization and are acting without the rest of the boards approval for your own profit. Other board members have already told me that you are asking for compensation for your new roll as Executive Director. No one has voted you into that position as far as I know.
I am forwarding this letter to the same news organizations that you have been buffaloing.
Jennifer Koopman, who's been at the helm of Arcata Main Street under a shrunken three-person board, was let go on Friday with two months severance pay. According to Board President and Interim CEO David Neyra, Koopman has "worked hard and done a lot of positive things for Main Street," but he also stated that, "If we're going to restructure and make it new, we have to change the face of Arcata Main Street."
Neyra, who owns Humboldt Outfitters on the plaza, said he stood in a circle of local merchants on Tuesday night and "took a beating" listening to complaints and concerns about the organization having a "hidden agenda." He also said that communication problems regarding the fence around the Oyster Festival were "the straw that broke the camel's back," alienating businesses. At an Arcata City Council meeting earlier this week, Arcata Main Street officially declared
that the fence would not be coming back to the plaza next year.
Neyra said the board's main goal in restructuring — which includes a new work plan for the year, possible cost-cutting and a replacement for Koopman among other things — is to earn back the trust local merchants and focus on the "economic, social, cultural and environmental well-being of downtown."
Jennifer Koopman could not be reached for comment.