Sat. May 25th, 2024

By Donna Westfall – February 22, 2017 – What faster way could we turn Crescent City/Del Norte County into a ghost town?  If someone were intent on destroying our area. they would take out the roads that allow transports to bring food in and out.  With failing businesses like Alexandre’s Daily having to dump milk on the ground, Rumiano’s having to let people go because they couldn’t get their product to market and then on the flip side, food prices rising through the roof because trucks stocking Wal Mart, Safeway, Grocery Outlet and Wild Rivers Health food store  would have to go around the mountain and in by Hwy 199. Tourism would go down to zilch, and our hotels and motels would have to board up their windows. Real Estate will plummet. Going to doctors and clinics in Eureka would be out, and those on fixed incomes will be looking for a way to find another community to live in.

Why would anyone wish that upon our community?  Is there some faction in this town that hopes we turn into a ghost town so we can raise and run drugs or illegal weapons that can be shipped out by air?

I was asked this morning at the Daily Town Hall meeting if I thought the Special Meeting of the Board of Supervisors held chiefly to discuss Supervisor Bob Berkowitz’s presentation of the Great American Renewal Plan (THE PLAN) for Last Chance Grade (LCG) was a waste of time or productive. Certainly it was a waste of my time.  I shake my head and wonder. Why do I have to be subjected to this dog and pony show?

THE PLAN was brilliant in it’s simplicity.  Here it is in a nutshell. Get all the counties in the USA to ask for an equal share from the Feds for infrastructure repairs because Trump wants to allocate $1 trillion to infrastructure. That would equate to $322 million per county (based on over 3,000 counties in the USA).

Why would we do it that way instead of the traditional way of having funds allocated to Sacramento and then sent to Del Norte County.  Here’s something I didn’t know.  Sacramento, like the Godfather, takes their 15% off the top.

Then what’s left over will be scrutinized and divided up and sifted down so that by the time all the environmental committees and California Coast Commission get their greedy little hands on it, we’ll be left with bupkis.  That’s a Yiddish term for left with NOTHING. OK, so I lied.  The literal meaning is: small round fecal pellets, referring to the shape of goat droppings translating roughly to “shivering sh_t balls”.

Let’s start with Sup. Lori Cowan, From the Triplicate dated June 7, 2016,  “During the campaign, Berkowitz, along with District 1 incumbent Roger Gitlin and District 2 candidate Lori Cowan, advocated an aggressive and accelerated approach to fixing the slide-prone area of U.S. 101 at Last Chance Grade.”

Later on November 9, 2016 Triplicate staff reporter, Tony Reed wrote and quoted Bob Berkowitz, ““We’re talking about fixing Last Chance Grade, saving our hospital and solving the blight problem. Those are the kinds of things that both Gitlin and I ran on, along with Lori Cowan. Those are the kinds of things we are going to do. We’re going to keep our promises.”

So, Gitlin and Berkowitz and others in the public probably thought Cowan was on board with their five year plan, but were mistaken because to clarify here’s where she stands today:

“I never said I supported a ‘5 year plan’ before I was elected. I always support to push for emergency funding and a quicker plan, but never 5 years. I believe I even stated I didn’t think it could be done in 5 years. PLEASE check back to ALL the forums.”
That’s correct. She supported Congressman Jared Huffman’s application for Emergency Funds. Huffman thumbed his nose at attending President Trumps inauguration. Wonder how far that’s going to get him and us regarding LCG. Right now CalTrans states that the soonest we’ll have an alternate route and an open highway will be somewhere between 2031 and 2039.

Here’s what Sup. Cowan had to say at the Tuesday, February 21st meeting:

Governor Brown wants over $100 billion for 51 projects and Del Norte County is not on his wish list.

Well, well, well, in that case, it makes sense for her to support THE PLAN that could get money into Del Norte County.

But, NO, she voted against THE PLAN because she says THE PLAN is not a plan. That’s her opinion and she’s entitled to her opinion.

Next, Chair Chris Howard, who appears to me to be a puppet, but I’m not quite sure who the puppet master is, offered to go with Bob to Sacramento and talk to California State Association of Counties (CSAC), and the people at Regional Council of Rural Counties (RCRC) and discuss THE PLAN in order to drum up support.  Isn’t this putting the cart before the horse? Doesn’t it make more sense to vote for THE PLAN first and then try to sell it? Not according to Howard. Does he have any other ideas?  NOPE. But to justify his impending NO VOTE, he brought up Tamera Leighton to speak like she was an expert on the subject.

Now as to why I thought this was a dog and pony show is because Tamera Leighton comes up to the podium to give her nonsensical opinion on a subject she has NO say-so over because CalTrans owns the roads. Let me put that another way.  She has no jurisdiction over LCG.  Here’s the Mission statement for her job for which she makes $125,000 a year as Executive Director of the Del Norte Local Transportation Commission.

  • The mission of the Del Norte Local Transportation Commission is to prepare, plan and fund transportation programs for the citizens of Del Norte County.

Does she have a plan to fund LCG?  Nope. Even with the latest Risk Analysis Report due to be out this century that could provide money, there’s no guarantee that LCG will get any of that money.

Let’s look back at the 2013 Del Norte Economic Summit attended by 150 people who heard her state, “There will never, never, never be a road built around LCG.”  At Tuesday’s special meeting, she backpedaled and tried to clarify that statement.

Then then’re Sup. Gerry Hemmingsen who brought out a valid point for not supporting THE PLAN.  Why should a small county get $322 million? He abstained from voting, probably in order to not offend any future voters for his re-election bid in 2 years.   Did he have any other ideas?  NOPE.

I won’t even comment on Mayor Inscore’s rant at this time.  But we plan on putting video up soon. Actually many separate video segments so you feel as though you were there.

What’s important is this.  A stakeholder’s group came up with an alternative route. Everybody was on board.  The cost: $275 million. If the money were secured, the work could be done.  In 2013, Wes White, CEO of the HAMBRO group sent the following letter to Tamera Leighton (along with 35 other letters of support calling for the by-pass from City, County, private businesses, and other governances up and down the 101 corridor). All of them repeating the same type of message. I suppose they thought she could actually do something about LCG.


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