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Timber and Terror



It took Greg King's remarks ("Mailbox," Sept. 24) on your synopsis of the Timber Wars ("Humboldt Then & Now," Sept. 17) to waken my lazy mind to the perniciousness of that style of reporting.

The way you lay it down, smooth, balanced, a tidy trade, "timberland preserved, jobs lost," is the way people, especially those who did not live through it, will remember that time. We can shake our fists at the Taliban blowing the Bamian Buddhas to smithereens, or at ISIS on a rampage through Roman temples, but when it's our own murderous corporate machine grinding up what was far more ancient and precious, we comb history's hair, smoothing it perhaps with a little nostalgia, and put it safely away lest anyone should derive inspiration from it. The banality of evil.

I remember one poster of the period; it showed the shattered remains of a stream MAXXAM had visited, maybe Bear Creek. On it was a quote from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar:

"O pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth, that I am meek and gentle with these butchers!"

Ellen Taylor, Petrolia


Reading your feature story, by Thadeus Greenson, I was stopped at the paragraph that stated " ... while Hurwitz may have taken a scorched earth approach to PALCO'S timber holdings, he continued the company's practice of taking care of its own. Not one employee was let go in the wake of the takeover."

PALCO's PR efforts notwithstanding, to make the assertion that Mr. Hurwitz continued the old PL's practice of "taking care of its own," is a stretch. No one was fired because Mr. Hurwitz needed the experienced work force (which due to the takeover was a captive non-union work force with nowhere to go) to satisfy his needs and vision for PALCO's and Humboldt County's future in a timely manner. Mr. Hurwitz took care of PL alright, as history has shown, but it wasn't a continuation of or anything like the old PL.

Mr. Hurwitz did not acquire PL in a questionable hostile takeover to become a benevolent timber baron running a timber business. He acquired it so he could liquidate it. The opportunity that Mr. Hurwitz afforded the old PL employees was to participate in the liquidation of their company, their jobs, and their future, as fast as possible. One could participate or go down the road, most stayed having nowhere to go. Mr. Hurwitz was always in the liquidation business, never in the timber business (that is why the environmentalists came). He came here to liquidate PL and its holdings, and needed to do it quickly and nearly succeeded. This is a far cry from what the old PL offered its work force, and Humboldt County at large, under the enlightened stewardship of the Murphy family.

Charles K. Bettiga, Loleta

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