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'The Marcus Affair'

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Your Dec. 14 editorial "Don't Screw This up Again" expresses the sentiments felt by many Humboldt residents. The Board of Supervisors clearly deserves to be publicly taken to task for their role in the Marcus affair.

A fast food joint follows a more rigorous hiring process than Marcus', but making matters worse, the board provided no useful oversight and then unapologetically avoided taking responsibility for its poor decision-making.

After hearing disturbing anecdotes about the newly hired public defender's behavior, then receiving a letter from virtually the entire staff of attorneys and one from their support staff expressing no confidence and describing a chaotic and repressive work environment, the board should have seen the letters for what they were: extreme measures taken by dedicated employees working under severe duress in a dysfunctional department under the worst possible management. On top of that, the board dismissed the many calls from the public as ill-informed or "loyalist" support of a few malcontents.

Thankfully, Mr. Griego's lawsuit forced the board — all five of them — to finally correct the result of a string of indefensible decisions stubbornly defended while the Public Defender's Office imploded for all to see and witness.

The way the severance pay decision was mishandled leaves the community with the perception that the people at the helm of our county government are treating this entire botched series of events as something to casually blow off. Our elected officials are expected to serve their constituents with humility and to adhere to the standards of practice associated with good governance.

We taxpayers should not be bearing the cost of careless leadership. Incumbent supervisors better have a damn good record to stand on when they run for re-election, because the Marcus affair is ample cause to consider if better leadership is needed.

Jud Elinwood, Eureka


I'd like to say thank you to Thadeus Greenson for helping to promote the resignation of former embattled, and sorely unqualified, Public Defender David Marcus ("Don't Screw This up Again," Dec. 14). If it wasn't for Thadeus doggedly pursuing and keeping this issue in the forefront of our local news, as well as private attorney Patrik Griego threatening the county with a lawsuit, this man would still be in the Public Defender's Office despite the fact that every defender in that office testified in a letter that he was not fit for the job.

It's unfortunate that it took the threat of a private attorney's lawsuit (his efforts generously donated), as well as the resignation of half the public defenders in that office (and some office staff) for Mr. Marcus to finally tuck his tail and resign.

No thanks to our Board of Supervisors, who arrogantly ignored the deputy public defenders' pleas and insisted, to the bitter end, that Mr. Marcus was somehow qualified to do the job they carelessly appointed him for, despite the fleet of experts insisting the contrary.

How much of our county tax dollars were wasted by the Board of Supervisors on this careless appointment and bull-headedness? If our Board of Supervisors want to operate autonomously and carelessly, as they did in this case, do they adequately represent the needs of this county? Think about it before the June election.

Jeff Bue, Eureka


I enjoyed Thadeus Greenson's "Don't Screw This Up Again" editorial in the Dec. 14 issue concerning David Marcus. Mr. Marcus is the disgracefully underqualified ex-Humboldt County public defender whom the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors hired in February of 2017. Marcus is finally gone, but of course he never should have been hired in the first place. The Board of Supervisors allowed a committee that included opposing prosecutor/sheriff/probation folks to hire for a public defender position — without a single professional public defender there to advise! I'm still astounded that any of this could have come to pass here in Humboldt County.

With regard to the upcoming hiring of Marcus' replacement, Greenson writes: "To be perfectly clear, board, you can't screw this up again ... We are all counting on you not to screw this up again." I would take it further: I don't know which is worse, David Marcus' incompetence or the board's incompetence in allowing such a person to head the Public Defender's Office. (Could someone at the county level have been influenced by events and hiring styles of the new administration in Washington, D.C.? Hope not!)

As far as I can see, this is a gross dereliction of duty on the part of the board, or worse. Humboldt County citizens don't want our tax dollars wasted by incompetent job performance by anyone in government — including the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors. As I look around at who is heading up agencies and departments these days, nationwide, I'm not going to be "counting on" anyone anymore!

Time to vote incompetent officials out of office and hire people who want to serve the citizens, not tear apart our institutions. Elected officials' actions speak louder than words and a primary part of their job is to hire qualified people. If you don't see qualified people being hired to run the government, examine who votes for unqualified personnel. Thankfully in this country, official incompetence can be accounted for — and the officials held accountable — at the ballot box! 

Margaret Draper, Arcata


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