Sunday, March 12, 2006

Sunshine on his shoulder?

Eureka Times Standard Editorial

Sometimes it seems like hardly a week goes by without a new group forming on the North Coast to push one thing or oppose the other.

We've got HELP this and Solutions to that, business and watershed councils, democracy and ducks unlimited and concerned citizens just about everywhere.

Getting informed and involved is a key to democracy. Political groups are part of that. But sometimes you have to wonder, is it too much of a good thing?

The newest group is the oddly named Humboldt Sunshine, which appears to include all of Rob Arkley, local businessman and philanthropist, and his paid attorney, Robert Best, both of whom also have a connection to the Humboldt Economic and Land Plan group.

(As an aside, this shouldn't be confused with Sunshine Week, a worthwhile effort by journalists nationwide today through Saturday to throw a spotlight on open government access. See Page A1.)

HELP has raised important issues over the county's lack of affordable housing, issues that the state is -- and should be -- looking into. But this particular ray of Sunshine has chosen not to wait for the state's determination on whether the county's housing element will pass muster.

On a related note, HELP -- while not filing suit -- has chosen to remove itself from all dialogue with the county on this issue, saying that talking does no good. But if HELP won't explore solutions to its legitimate concerns with the county, and it's apparently not going to sue, just what exactly is its purpose?

But back to the Sunshine. It appears that the group formed specifically to threaten a lawsuit. It demands sweeping changes to the county housing element, or it will sue. Just what we need to advance development and reasoned dialogue in Humboldt County -- more threats, and more expensive lawsuits that drain county coffers.

As Arkley surrogates have recently noted in their bid to get the new sweeping Marina Center plan under way on the Eureka waterfront, a government process exists for a reason -- to hear from all sides, do a thorough review and make sure all sides are heard.

Sounds good to us. And if it's good enough for the city, it should also be good enough for the county and state.

Having said that, we also have to note that state officials must get off their collective tails and make a decision on the county housing plan. Is it OK or not? We've been waiting for a final word since October. North Coast residents and officials deserve an answer already.

Then let's accept it and move on to make the best of our shared future, or at least have an actual decision to appeal in court.

Otherwise we risk getting locked into a never-ending, descending spiral of threat, suit and countersuit, with taxpayers footing the ultimate bill.

Who knows what could come next.

Good morning, starshine?

Pass the moonshine...

It is Humboldt Sunshine, so they can make hay while the sun shines
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