From the April 25, 2012 edition, Opinion Page
Sometimes to biggest stories aren’t the sexiest stories. There’s no carnage, scandal or high drama. They don’t have screaming 60-point Helvetica Black headlines. They don’t make newspapers fly off the racks like stories about prostitution stings or massive grow house raids with mountains of nugs and stacks of cash.
In the case of McKinleyville, the biggest story taking place right now is spread out over a series of smaller articles, filled with bureaucratic acronyms like MCSD, HCAOG, LAFCO and McKMAC. On the surface, these individual articles might seem kind of boring – the McKinleyville Community Services has nominated one of its own board members for a seat on the Local Agency Formation Commission; the MCSD seeks a seat on the Humboldt County Association of Governments; Supervisor Ryan Sundberg wants to create a McKinleyville Community Advisory Committee.
Sounds like a snorefest. But put them together and you have a whopper of a story. McKinleyville wants to be in charge of McKinleyville, rather than be at the mercy of outside forces. It’s a sea change, and the Powers That Be are on board.
It’s like the unincorporated community was a gangly teenager just a few years ago, growing by leaps and bounds, but still under parental control, unable to make decisions for itself. Now McKinleyville is all grown up – an adult. And it doesn’t want to be told what to do anymore. It wants to be emancipated. It wants to be in charge of its own destiny.
But this is hampered because the town is unincorporated, and therefore at the mercy of the County of Humboldt when it comes to services like land use planning and road construction and maintenance.
The conventional wisdom is that incorporation is unfeasible. The rules governing incorporation make it financially impossible for the town to become a city.
So McKinleyville, lead by its Community Services District and supported by Fifth District Supervisor Ryan Sundberg, is taking a different tact.
If McKinleyville can’t be a city, then it should at least have as much influence as possible over the services provided by the county.
The MCSD has stepped up to the plate. It’s thrown off the shackles that, years ago, kept it from commenting on planning issues. Now it freely weighs in on the issues, as it did at its last meeting when the Board of Directors agreed to send a letter to the county regarding the hiring of a new interim planning director. At that same meeting, the board met in closed session to discuss its lawsuit against the county regarding rezoning of McKinleyville properties for high density development.
There’s an effort to get MCSD Director Helen Edwards on Humboldt’s Local Agency Formation Commission, which controls local government boundaries and annexations. The MCSD is trying to get a seat on the Humboldt County Association of Governments, which prioritizes transportation funding and decides on how much low-income housing communities must provide.
Next week the Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote on the creation of a McKinleyville Municipal Advisory Committee (McKMAC.) This committee would give the town a stronger voice on issues like planning, roads and police protection.
Little by little, piece by piece, McKinleyville is assuming greater control over itself, and that’s a good thing.
‘Eat the rich’
While picking up my mail at the McKinleyville Post Office last week I ran into local cowboy Dennis Mayo. Since this town is kind of inching toward something resembling a city, I guess you could consider Dennis the Mayor of McKinleyville, being that he’s the President of the MCSD Board of Directors.
So McK Mayor Mayo has a story to tell me, but first we need to retrieve a beat-up old pickup truck that he’s trying to sell for $1,000 so he can pay some bills. He’s got it parked across the street with a “for sale” sign on it and needs to move it near Ramone’s, where a potential buyer will check it out.
The inside of truck is covered in mud and bits of hay. There are rusty horseshoes scattered on the floor and seat. The truck looks like hell, but it starts right up.
We drive across the street and Mayor Mayo tells his me about an incident that took place Saturday, April 14 at the Ingomar Club in Eureka. The Humboldt County Republicans held their annual dinner there, and Dennis was in attendance.
While the Republicans were dining inside, there were protesters outside. It was a small contingent of Occupy Eureka protesters who had meandered over from their encampment at the courthouse. They stood outside the gates of the landmark building, in the spot where all the tourists have their pictures taken.
Dennis decided he should bring them something to eat, so he went in the kitchen and retrieved a platter of shrimp.
“It was a beautiful platter of large Panko breaded shrimp,” Mayo said.
Outside he was greeted by a protester holding a sign that read “Eat the rich.” That left Dennis scratching his head. Would the rich be served as an appetizer or entree?
Another sign read “Arkleys out of Humboldt.” The Arkleys grew up here, but now they have to leave?
Most of the protesters, Dennis said, were polite and friendly, and some of them scarfed down the shrimp. But then Dennis had to face the infamous Kim “Verbana” Starr.
“Get the hell out of Humboldt County, you scumbag!” Starr yelled at Dennis, as he encouraged her to enjoy some delicious shrimp.
Dennis tried to engage Starr in a conversation, but she wouldn’t have anything to do with it. She let the F-words fly and Mayo was showered with one insult after another, only a few of which he deserved.
Eventually Mayo returned inside, where McKinleyville resident Rose Welsh was honored as the Humboldt County Republican Volunteer of the Year.