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Who Killed ACRC?




I am writing to express my concern for the imminent closure of a community icon ("So Long, ACRC," Nov. 3). A major contributor to the economy of Humboldt County of $2.5 million to $4 million annually, not to mention other community benefits including an education program. I am talking about the Arcata Community Recycling Center (ACRC).

I was present at the Eureka City Council meeting when three out of four members dismissed eloquent appeals by a packed council chamber to delay their decision on the recycling contract in order to redesign the bidding process to allow consideration of the wider ramifications to the community.  Instead of the myopic focus on the claim that they will save the City $50,000 a year, the people wanted to consider the true cost of losing the living wage jobs of several Eureka residents, of losing local quality control and of losing the ACRC.

I heard Jim Test tell the council that the Humboldt Waste Management Authority (HWMA) had designed the contract bidding parameters according to directions given by the Eureka City Council. He added that the HWMA would change the parameters if they were directed to. I heard all but one speaker outline the real costs to the community, which far outweighed the claimed savings of granting the contract to a Willits garbage company.

I saw the blank expressions of three council members, Newman, Brady and Madsen, as people spoke to them. They seemed to be distracted, not paying the least attention, like they had already made up their minds. Their concern was about process, not the real costs versus the real savings. They did not delay their decision.

Since then I have learned that prior to this issue, a local government agency offered to buy the ACRC site in Manila. The offer was rejected. I can't help but wonder if there is a connection. Maybe the HWMA bid was designed to exclude and punish the ACRC for that rejection. Maybe the Grand Jury should be investigating this question. Did the Eureka City Council and/or HWMA violate the public trust to punish ACRC?

Michael A. Tout, Eureka

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