Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Hypocrisy abounds here

by Shilpa Mehta, 3/15/2006
The Eureka Reporter

Change can be scary. Growth and vision require an open mind, a willingness to consider all points of view and an ability to see the best interests of more than one’s own myopic interest.

The local anti-Arkley bandwagon and their herd of followers who “parrot petty and juvenile attacks” on anything associated with the Arkleys or Security National should look at their own behavior. If this comment sounds judgmental and harsh, it is and I don’t apologize. I am tired of the hypocrisy shown by the Times-Standard and the “so-called locals” who don’t know how to engage in a respectful discussion. I am sure they will “engage in a personal attack” against this opinion, because it isn’t in accordance with their views and agenda, and anyone who disagrees with them is either a fool or “bought by the Arkleys.”

I have never met the Arkleys so I have no opinion of them. What I do know is the behavior and tactics of these irrational and irresponsible people are affecting the livelihood and economic growth in Humboldt County.

If the Times-Standard’s circulation is in peril, maybe it is because they have used their monopoly of the region to be lackadaisical about their job performance. And their obvious, biased coverage is driving away scores of subscribers who now have a better paper to read.

People are against the Arkelys donating money to certain political figures. Well, it’s their money and their choice. At least they are open about it. I don’t agree with all of the Arkelys’ choices but I choose to exercise my right to vote and use my hard-earned money to support candidates I want.

The radical, progressive left supports who they want, and they get their money from outside sources that are not in Humboldt County. And they get legal representation (pro bono) from attorneys who don’t live in Humboldt County.

The so-called “bastions” of protecting the community ask people who support the Marina Center to leave their meeting while Security National holds open houses where anyone is welcome. Contrary to the claims made, there are many low-income and working-class families that see through the tactics of the envious, petty radical progressive left. They are just too busy working two jobs to make a living to write a letter to the editor.

There are many Eurekans who are grateful that the Arkelys have donated money to the high school gym, the zoo, and brought professional and world-class performing arts centers that add to the pride of Eureka. They see the development of the Marina Center as an opportunity to have more choices of jobs that will allow them to earn a decent wage and maybe afford a home and continue to stay in their hometown.

How many jobs have the anti-business element created and what have they done to alleviate the conditions of the low-income and working poor in Eureka? Also I find it interesting that the same people who “sit in trees and bad-mouth the Arkleys” have no problem using the free bathroom facilities and getting warm on a freezing, rainy day at the local Starbucks, a big box enterprise!
All businesses and all development is not detrimental to small-town living or the environment. But one can only see that perspective when you see a vital Eureka with more jobs where less people are dependent on the system and more people empowered to speak their mind because they are not struggling with daily survival.

(Shilpa Mehta is a Eureka resident.)

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So, who is Rob Arkley?

From Alliance for a Better California, Who is Robin Arkley?:

Robin Arkley, a foreclosure magnate from Eureka California, just gave $250,000 to support Prop 75. Arkley controls more than 100 privately owned corporations and partnerships with billions in assets and earning hundreds of millions of dollars.

Much of Arkley’s fortune was made off the misfortune and misery of others, either through his collection agency or through acquiring “distressed mortgages? and then foreclosing on the owners, often through aggressive legal tactics.

While Mr. Arkley has no trouble taking the homes of working families, he has repeatedly failed to cover his fair share of taxes. In the past several years, Arkley, his wife, and his businesses have racked up tens of thousands of dollars of liens, owing everyone from local cities on up to the IRS. Arkley has also been the subject of dozens of lawsuits, including labor and civil rights violations.

Arkley’s behavior is legendary among Eureka residents. He once threatened to withhold funding for a local ballet company because his daughter was not selected for a lead role in the Nutcracker. He also demanded that the entire the city’s planning department be fired they resisted his pro-development approach. After being criticized for his behavior, Arkley said, "If you're me, do you really care what the city thinks?"

Donor history
The Orange County Register reports that Arkley made contributions of $1.4 million to state and federal committees from 2003-2004, making him the 21st largest political contributor in California.

Arkley favors rightwing candidates and causes like: President George Bush, over $100,000; 2002 Gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon, $236,686; Republican National Committee, $250,000 (since 2000); Progress for America (a right wing advocacy group pushing for social security privatization), $50,000.

In 2004, Arkley created and gave $515,500 to You're Fired! Inc., a 527 group that aired several anti-Daschle ads parodying Donald Trump’s "The Apprentice." The effort earned him a personal thank you call from Karl Rove.)

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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...

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Sunday, March 05, 2006

Arkley and kin big donors

James Faulk The Times-Standard
Eureka Times Standard

EUREKA -- As Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger gears up for his re-election bid by hosting a dinner for donors of $100,000 or more, it's clear that only one local family comes close to qualifying for such an event.

As listed by the California Secretary of State's website, Rob and Cherie Arkley together gave $702,001 -- through Race Investments, LLC -- to various candidates and causes between July 1 and Dec. 31, 2005.

They both also filed late contribution reports -- as allowed by law -- that added another $44,600 each onto that total.

The Arkley daughters -- Elizabeth and Allison -- also filed late contribution reports for $44,600 each, the maximum allowed by law. Allison Arkley is a student at New York University and Elizabeth Arkley is apparently still in high school.

The three eldest Arkleys were also listed as donors at the federal level through the Center for Responsive Politics. In the 2006 election cycle, all the Arkleys gave a total of $107,600, according to the website.

They each gave $25,000 to the Republican National Committee, among various other donations.

A search of surrounding ZIP codes shows no one else that comes even close to these amounts at the Center for Responsive Politics' database.

Paul Nicklas gave $2,500 to the National Republican Congressional Committee, and Mary Matthews gave $1,500 to the same. They are both of Eureka.

Security National Senior Vice President Brian Morrissey said the Arkleys believe it's important to give to causes one supports.

”They give a lot of money to many different causes, politics being one of them,” he said. “They believe that participating in the community, including political giving, is important.”

Morrissey said the individual members of the family decide for themselves where to give political donations.

”Like any family, I think the Arkleys talk about issues at the dinner table, but each member makes their own choices,” he said.

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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Why Campaign Finance Reform is Necessary California, Election Reform, Governors, Policy Issues

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California is the latest example of why campaign finance reform is necessary. Where else but in the United States of America could a high school student find the resources to give the maximum donation of $44,600 to Governor Schwarzenegger for his re-election campaign? Does anyone out there know of a teenager with $44,600 to their name? Capitol Weekly has the story.

Because Elizabeth Arkley is 18 years old, she, like any other adult, can donate up to $22,300 to Schwarzenegger for both the gubernatorial primary and general election. Elizabeth's parents, Cherie and Robin Arkley and her college-aged sister, Allison, each gave $44,600 to the governor's reelection campaign.

This process, for the uninitiated, is what is known as bundling. Elizabeth Arkley may not have $44,600 but because her parents have more than enough, and because she is at least 18, under California law, she can donate the maximum to the Governor under her own name. So what politically active, rich parents do is donate the maximum in the names of all of their family members who are legally eligible to donate.

In all fairness, Schwarzenegger's Democratic challengers, Phil Angelides and Steve Westly, have donors who have bundled their donations and done the same thing.

It is has been proven that young people aren’t the most politically active age group, so while Elizabeth Arkley might be politically active, what about all of the other youth who have donated large sums to Governors, Presidential candidates and others? Are they all politically active, and if so why aren’t they voting? Also, teenagers are notorious for rebelling against their parents. Are we to believe that Elizabeth Arkley and all the other teenagers who have donated actually support the candidates their parents support?

Mainly, bundling is a way for big money donors to skirt campaign finance laws and to gain favor with the candidate of their choice. How many of George W. Bush’s Rangers bundled donations?

It’s time for serious campaign finance reform. More power to the 18 year old who is able to donate $44,600 in an election cycle, but I’m willing to bet there are less than 5 of them out there. And while the Supreme Court has equated political donations with free speech, there has to be some way to stop the madness. I’ve been hearing more about it lately and perhaps public financing of elections is the answer.

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