Friday, September 07, 2007

Councilman: I was shoved by Rob Arkley

(LISTEN to the KHUM interview)

Thadeus Greenson and Chris Durant
The Times-Standard

EUREKA -- Councilman Larry Glass called in a report to the Eureka Police Department Thursday alleging businessman Rob Arkley verbally threatened him and shoved him at a Coastal Commission reception.

A senior vice president for Arkley's Security National said he understood there was no physical contact, but rather a verbal exchange concerning Arkley's daughters, after which Arkley e-mailed Glass an apology.

The alleged incident took place Wednesday evening at the Avalon restaurant during a reception.

To listen to the KHUM interview click here

Glass said Arkley was standing across the table from him pointing and smiling, when he said something Glass couldn't understand. So Glass walked around the table to talk to Arkley.

”He began berating me, threatening me and basically saying he was going to destroy me if I didn't vote for his project,” Glass said.

Glass said Arkley repeatedly called him a liar, which he asked Arkley to explain several times.

”I was never able to get a real coherent response,” Glass said. “All I kept hearing was, 'I'll destroy you, you're nothing and you won't have a store anymore if you vote against my project.'”

Glass said he was shoved twice by Arkley, who was restrained by Randy Gans, Security National Vice President of Real Estate and Development.

A receptionist at Security National said Gans was not in the office Thursday. He did not return a message left on his voicemail.

Reached by phone in Baton Rouge, La., Security National Senior Vice President Brian Morrissey said he heard a different account from Arkley and Gans.

Morrissey said Arkley talked to Glass about the pain his daughters felt when Glass was selling some anti-Arkleyville stickers at his store, The Works.

”Rob talked to Larry, and Rob asked Larry about how these no-Arkley stickers caused his daughters a hardship and asked Larry to apologize to his daughters for that,” Morrissey said. “When Larry said no, Rob was really disappointed. But I don't believe that there was any physical pushing, shoving, touching, any of that. I think it was, frankly, words at a bar.”

Glass said the issue of Arkley's daughters did come up. He said he felt he had settled any hard feelings with them more than one year ago, when they came into The Works to talk.

”They came to tell me their side of that story, which was what it was like to be an Arkley and have that campaign going on,” Glass said Thursday. “They got me, and it sensitized me.”

Glass said he felt the discussion went well and, afterward, he stopped selling the stickers in his shop.

Eureka Police Chief Garr Nielsen confirmed that Glass made a report.

”It was documented as an incident,” Nielsen said. “This is what we would do in any case.”

Charges could stem from the report, but that would be Glass' decision to start the process, Nielsen said. Glass said he wasn't interested in escalating the matter, but made a report so it would be on record.

Though they reportedly had not met until Wednesday, Glass and Arkley have something of a history. Glass is the former spokesman of Citizens For Real Economic Growth, which is an outspoken critic of Arkley's proposed Marina Center development.

Glass said later in the day that he had not had a chance to check his office e-mail for a message from Arkley.

Attorney Jeff Schwartz, a former prosecutor with the Humboldt County District Attorney's Office who runs a private practice in Arcata, said he heard about the alleged incident during an interview Glass gave to KHUM.

”What's scary is the intimidation of public officials,” Schwartz said. “That's where I see the big problem is, not just some battery against Larry Glass.”

Schwartz said the alleged incident could intimidate other council members.

”When Arkley is talking to Larry Glass, he's really talking to the whole city council,” Schwartz said

Assaulting a public official is a felony under the California Penal Code, he said.

Of a dozen people who were at the reception and contacted by the Times-Standard, most said they did not witness any exchange, left early or were not near Arkley or Glass. One said he did see an exchange, but did not want to go on the record.

Rex Bohn said he was there grilling oysters and socializing until well after 8 p.m. and didn't hear anything of the alleged incident until he was called by the Times-Standard.

”I didn't hear a word, and I was one of the last people to leave,” Bohn said.

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