Supes appoint Linda Atkins to North Coast Railroad Authority

Supes appoint Linda Atkins to North Coast Railroad Authority

Jessie Faulkner/The Times-Standard
Posted: 06/25/2009 01:15:37 AM PDT

Eureka City Councilwoman Linda Atkins will take a seat on the North Coast Railroad Authority board of directors at the end of the month.
The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to approve the appointment this week, with 5th District Supervisor Jill Duffy dissenting and adamantly stating her opposition -- not to Atkins, but to the application process.
Among her primary objections was the treatment of long-time NCRA board member Charles Olivier, whose seat Atkins will assume, as well as the lack of complete information on the applicant's philosophies and the related discussions held out of the public process.
Duffy said such handling of the matter creates strife on the board and in the community, and is insulting to the incumbent.
”In my opinion, it feels like a real slap in his face,” she said.
Third District Supervisor Mark Lovelace broached the subject earlier in the meeting, noting that he had heard comments in the community complaining about the suddenness of the appointment. Lovelace denied that contention, noting that the term's end was publicly posted as required on Dec. 16 and that he had met with all the applicants -- including incumbent Olivier -- and had read all the associated letters and supporting documentation.
”This hasn't been something sudden,” Lovelace said.
Lovelace later said that he had spoken with Olivier and was told that the incumbent wasn't interested in requesting

reappointment. However, on Monday, Lovelace said he had received a letter of interest from Olivier and applicant Dan Hauser, the latter throwing his support to the incumbent.
Second District Supervisor Clif Clendenen, who with 4th District Supervisor Bonnie Neely sponsored the agenda item, said he wasn't aware of a two-step process in making the appointment and had limited his discussions about the appointment to those with the item's co-sponsor due to Brown Act rules. Clendenen, who represents the board on the North Coast Railroad Authority, said he had spoken with the authority board's Chairman Allan Hemphill at the last meeting and learned at that time of Olivier's interest in staying on the board.
At the invitation of the board, Olivier took to the podium, citing his broad experience on West Coast ports and strong belief in the potential for the area pending improvements to what he described as 19th century infrastructure.
Olivier said he wasn't like Napoleon Bonaparte.
”We can all be replaced,” he said, “including me. If my term is over, I've enjoyed it all .... Either way, I'm a cheerleader. I'll continue to be a cheerleader of creating jobs here.”
Duffy wasn't alone in her concerns about the process. McKinleyville resident Dennis Mayo questioned how the recommendation for Atkins had come forward, why the board was considering replacing Olivier and, if so, why wasn't that replacement Dan Hauser, a former executive director of the North Coast Railroad Authority.
”To me,” he said, “the decision would be very clear, you choose Charles Olivier ... . I'd like to see this thought out a little more thoroughly.”
Ken Skaggs, a self-described resident of the greater Eureka area, said his vision was one of a Humboldt County with good-paying jobs. The railroad and harbor bring in industry that makes sense for Humboldt County, he said. The county needs a strong supporter of the railroad, he said.
The majority of the board remained at odds with Duffy's assessment that the process had gone wrong.
”I feel comfortable with the process and the recommendation to the board,” Neely said.