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Train Talk



As noted in Ryan Burns' excellent article ("Run Out on a Rail," July 25), Dave Tranberg is legal counsel to the Humboldt County Association of Governments (HCAOG). I believe that this relationship is one of the major causes behind the whole Mayors' City Selection Committee (MCSC) affair.

For background: Through an old arrangement with Humboldt County, HCAOG staff was given the designation "Deputy Clerks of the Board" which allowed the administration of the independent MCSC to be transferred to HCAOG. But no funding was provided so the MCSC's expenses are absorbed through the HCAOG budget. HCAOG staff brought this issue forward at its June meeting recommending HCAOG give up this designation and its responsibility to the MCSC, and the board voted to direct staff to approach the county on this matter as soon as possible.

Now Burns correctly referenced Tranberg's opinion that the original appointment was probably legal but that it couldn't hurt to have the MCSC hold a revote "just so any aggrieved parties (such as Bertain) had no legal ground to stand on." However, Burns omitted what I believe are two important facts. The first is that Bertain's letter included the not-so-veiled threat of legal action ("I would hope litigation can be avoided regarding this matter"). And second is that Tranberg qualified his opinion by noting that any legal action would most likely cause delay in HCAOG's goal to shed its unrelated MCSC responsibilities.

Overall, Tranberg's actions and recommendations are probably the correct ones to make if you are the attorney for HCAOG, which is the case here. However, I speculate on what the outcome might have been if the MCSC had had an attorney of its own. Perhaps there would not have been a second meeting so that Alex Stillman would still be the representative to the North Coast Railroad Authority today.

Sherman Schapiro, Blue Lake


A reading of "Run Out on a Rail" leaves one wondering why the NCRA still exists. We saw:

Delusional board members and supporters cling tightly to the fantasy that the stretch of railroad line with its tunnels, bridges, and culverts that runs through the Eel River Canyon (see a river view of the enormity of the repair work needed at www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhCjYNKXNvk) can be restored, maintained and operated profitably; an irrational rejection of compromise on a widely supported proposal to put the Humboldt Bay stretch of rail bed — essentially unused and steadily deteriorating — to use as a "rail to trail" trail until a need for a commercial use becomes viable; and a disgraceful lack of oversight and accountability.

We, the public, have sat for too long on our outrage, allowing the NCRA to waste taxpayers' dollars defending policies that have no relevance, delivering no benefits to us in Humboldt County and defiantly ignoring local public input.

Enough is enough.

I am going to be asking my state legislators to explore and hopefully author legislation that will remove Humboldt County from the NCRA and assign authority over the maintainable section of railway in Humboldt to a new governing body that is more accountable to the public and has an appreciation for the circumstances, constraints and opportunities our community has to live with, and hope others will too.

An online petition to Assemblyman Chesbro and Senator Evans asking for their leadership in this matter would allow them to gauge public support for taking legislative action.

The NCRA would be a comfortable fit in a Soviet Union era Iron Curtain country's bureaucracy; Humboldt County wants and deserves better. This message needs to be delivered to Wes and Noreen.

Jud Ellinwood, Eureka

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