BS, malt and hops, and a lot of public money

pigs

Not too long ago, Eureka was assured by its City Staff and City Council that the continuation of the tax increase in Eureka was necessary to keep essential services functioning. While we brought up examples of “pet projects” the Council spent money on, the city continued to spin the argument back to public safety.

They made it clear that if Measure O and later Measure Q, weren’t around the city would have to cut police and fire positions. The Examiner found that pretty hard to swallow, so we kept going back to all the “discretionary” money spent in ways that benefited a few small companies and business owners, but that had very little benefit for the common citizen.

Well, the NCJ story from this week, regarding Eureka’s own corporate welfare, sheds some light on how your tax dollars are being spent:

http://www.northcoastjournal.com/humboldt/big-beer/Content?oid=2827833

In regards to the new facility for Lost Coast Brewery, Grant Scott-Goforth wrote, “The company’s new facility is built on a foundation of hard work, a lot of malt and hops, and a lot of public money: The city spent nearly $700,000 in site-specific improvements at the company’s new south Eureka site. It was a community investment, said city officials who approved the spending, but it came at a time when Eureka raised taxes to cover basic services, and when questions are being raised around the nation about the billions of dollars that small communities gift to large companies every year.”

Yup, $700,000 spent when the City could barely pay the bills without extra tax money. Of course, the city made clear that they thought the expansion would “pay for itself” in tax revenue. The NCJ report calls those rosy predictions into question.

What is clear from the article is that the city council, which included Linda Atkins, thought that spending your tax money on infrastructure improvements for one private business was a sound fiscal decision. Barbara Groom, owner of the Lost Coast Brewery, must be very thankful to Eureka. She must be overjoyed with getting to expand in such a wonderful area. In the Times-Standard, Groom wrote “With a national product it makes no sense to invest in Eureka. It’s located at the edge of the earth, transportation is difficult and expensive, unpolluted industrial land is nonexistent, utility infrastructure is poor, and the place isn’t getting better.”

Way to go Eureka City Council and Staff. It’s easy to see by these decisions how seriously you take your fiduciary responsibilities. Now…how long before you need another tax hike to avert bankruptcy? 5 years? 3 years?

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36 thoughts on “BS, malt and hops, and a lot of public money

  1. A minor mistake, unless I’m missing something: Above the link for the North Coast Journal, you wrote, “Well, the Lost Coast Outpost story from this week”.

    Like

  2. Ok I do think this needs to be put in perspective. The business owner is investing $27 million, and the city improved some infrastructure and roads to the tune of $700,000. That is according to my calculations less than 3 % of what the business owner invested. If the business creates 30 jobs, and for sake of argument let’s assume those are relatively good jobs, that income from those jobs will create jobs and help the economy and contribute to taxes. A net win. Over 25 years ago, Disneyland announced they wanted to build a second park. They got several billions in concessions and improvements mostly to freeway ramps. Yep that is Disney who kind of put Anaheim on the map. Don’t get me started on sports stadiums. I agree it is fair to ask about O and Q. I opposed Q. However to say, well that $700,000 would have paid for 14 police for one year. A figure I doubt, when you calculate benefits. However how would those police be paid for the next year? Or the year after that. This is a one time investment. You might have heard that Tesla wanted to build a battery factory. CA lobbied hard, but Nevada won. How much did it cost Nevada? One estimate was $1 Billion dollars. Cost of factory is $5B, and the tax giveaways on that project are occurring year after year.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat/wp/2014/09/25/how-nevada-won-a-billion-dollar-tesla-plant-and-how-tesla-scored-a-great-deal/

    I think the council was right and prudent to do this deal.

    Liked by 2 people

    • According to the story:

      Groom “told reporters during a tour in October that 40 to 50 people were working on the bottling line, up from 30 at the old plant. But it appears her goal was to actually reduce the number of workers at the new facility, as she also told reporters that she “was hoping to cut down on people but we need more people on this bottling line than the old one” because kinks were still being worked out. She estimated things would be running efficiently by spring.”

      Not sure I agree with your reasoning, “If they create 30 jobs”. It sounds like she is trying to streamline production and cut down on workers. This facility sounds like a way to lower employment, not create new jobs.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Crappy microbrews deserve ZERO public funding. And the supposed jobs are all minimum wage or otherwise low paying. Check out their ads on Craigslist sometime. Typical ripoff local business.

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      • You must be joking. The ad I saw was for $13 an hour, with no benefits, for part time work. Must have an AA or BA. Not a bad wage for a college grad. That part time job would go a long ways toward paying off hundreds of thousands in student debt!!!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Interesting that the new progressive darling Arroyo declined to comment on the story. Someone should tell her that you just can’t vote “present” on every issue.

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    • Why should she need to comment on the story, she didn’t take office until this year and “the city council’s unanimous approval in November 2012 to commit up to $825,000 in city funds to water, sewer and road improvements to aid the brewery’s construction.”

      Liked by 4 people

      • Maybe because the public is, or should be, interested in her position should a similar situation present itself. Curious that Bergel wasn’t contacted.

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  4. If it’s a national company, maybe you should seek Federal funding Mrs. Groom……

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Another point Mr. Goforth makes in the North Coast Journal article:

    “According to the Humboldt County Tax Collector’s Office, the company is scheduled to pay $84,000 in property taxes this year, only 2.5 percent of which — just over $2,100 — will go back to the city of Eureka.”

    Mr. Goforth says the City of Eureka will require over 300 years to get it’s “investment” back.

    My problem with math is I am lost once the numbers get high enough that I have to take off my shoes to do the counting. But this doesn’t sound like a good thing.

    Also, as mentioned elsewhere in the original article and here in the comments; once the “efficiency” is achieved the new plant will employ no more people than their old bottling facility.

    That means the “jobs! jobs! jobs!” mantra does not apply here either.

    For the City of Eureka’s nearly $700,000 investment all they got was a maintenance of the Status Quo.

    No doubt the supporters of this will say this is just another NCJ hit piece. I don’t know about that.

    All I know is once again there are folks making the numbers dance and sing to any tune they care to call.

    Liked by 2 people

    • When a company invests 27 million in a new production facility, it’s going to incorporate new labor efficient equipment. Reducing the number of employees shouldn’t surprise anyone.

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    • MOLA,

      Are you making the assumption that the Lost Coast brewery jobs would have remained in Eureka if the City had not chipped in $700,000?

      In the quote that the TE highlighted (in its inimitable way), Ms. Groom made it clear that it’s not easy to be competitive at the national level when operating a beer business in Humboldt County, yet she went ahead and expanded here anyway. Perhaps the $700,000 was necessary to get the $27 million facility built in Eureka.

      I don’t know if this was a good deal or not. Given our times, it startled me that the North Coast Journal chose to attack (yes, I thought it was an attack) this particular arrangement.

      Liked by 2 people

      • So you support subsidizing local businesses that don’t pay a living wage, during a time when taxpayers are told that the city will cut public safety if Eureka didn’t approve a sales tax extension?

        Not sure I can “get on board” with that Mitch.

        Liked by 3 people

      • No, JP. I don’t know what I feel about this. In general I’m opposed to offering businesses subsidies except in very unusual circumstances. But I think the decision probably involved the threat of losing the existing Lost Coast Brewery business and jobs, as I think the North Coast Journal story at least strongly implied.

        I also found some language in the Journal story to be unusually slanted for an attempt at an objective look, especially “…the city fell all over itself to accommodate Groom…” Usually, even if it’s going to be a hit piece, the journalist will try to quote somebody for something like that, not just express it as their own opinion. That the Journal did not do that, and that the story kept repeating that Ms. Groom would not comment, leads me to guess that there is more going on here than what appears on the surface.

        Everything is not black and white.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Mitch:

        I thought somebody would bring up the “We’re all lucky we have the jobs stay here” point.

        It’s called extortion.

        “Give me what I want or it’s curtains for your economy.”

        It’s why multi-billionaires are offered taxpayer dollars to get stuff for free (like arenas and stadiums). It’s why people who can pay their own way are able to get some level of government to give them freebies.

        The potential for abuse (i.e.: corruption) hovers around all such arrangements.

        And personally, I’m tired of the public being played for chumps. As I said above… for the money all we got was the Status Quo preserved.

        Was this a “good deal”? I too don’t know. Well, let’s just strike up the tune and see how the numbers dance.

        Perhaps NCJ did do a hit piece. Or… the NCJ (and the “inimitable” Tuluwat Examiner) just does what no other media outlet around here bothers to do… ask questions of our local movers and shakers.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Extortion would be the correct term. Thank you Mola, it was on the tip of my tongue.

        Liked by 2 people

      • MOLA,

        I agree that today’s standard approach to business siting is extortion. Are you surprised?

        But we part company there. Even when a deal is considered extortionate, there are generally a variety of opinions as to why it was made, whether it was worthwhile, and so on. I wish the Journal reporter had given us such an article, and I’m surprised that Thadeus Greenson, who I respect, did not insist on that.

        One of the things that has always impressed me about the reporting Ryan Burns does is that he is always excruciatingly fair to his subjects, allowing all facts from all sides to enter into his article. This particular article did not strike me that way; it struck me as the sort of thing the Tuluwat Examiner might do. That’s bad news for a publication that wants credibility.

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      • Mitch:

        I didn’t say I was surprised. Of course I wasn’t. But… LIKE I SAID… I am tired of us folks being played for chumps.

        As for the quality of the reporting of Mr. Scott-Goforth… that’s up for honest debate and on that score I lean toward your viewpoint.

        My journalism professors would have given him an “F” for the lack of objectivity in a news story. But that was a long time ago and Journalism has changed (or regressed back to the time when newspapers routinely took openly partisan viewpoints in their reporting).

        The attempt at objectivity in news reporting is becoming rarer and rarer… and I do miss that.

        But I guess I’ll have to be tolerant if I want the information I need for informed opinions on what is going on around me.

        I’d rather have a badly written article about something I need to know than a well written article about nothing in particular.

        I’m prepared to do the editing for myself.

        Liked by 1 person

      • MOLA,

        I suspect we are more in agreement than I’d earlier thought. There might have been serious value in an article, good or bad, challenging the public funds in 2012, when they were offered. It might have had an impact, and might have served as a nucleus around which opposition could organize. But something about this article, in 2015, makes my spidey-senses tingle. I continue to suspect that there is more going on with this after-the-fact story than meets the eye.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Barbara Groom does not provide living wage jobs. That is why Groom opposed the Eureka Fair Wage Act.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. from the NC Journal:
    She [Groom] said it took three years to get final city approval because of a wildflower study and “two cultural studies because of politics with the Indians.
    “Most people would have walked away, but I didn’t have anything else to do,” Groom said, getting a laugh from attendees of the tour.

    Wow, COMPLETE CULTURAL INSENSITIVITY. Offensive really. I didn’t get to vote as to whether she got my tax money for her business.

    BOYCOTT Lost Coast Brewery: Groom agreed with the highway expansion through Richardson Grove, opposed raising wages in Eureka (raising wages would have actually helped Eureka as a whole!), and hired out of town labor to make this expansion.

    I could think of MANY Eureka residents who would benefit from the City coughing up $700,000. Not for one frickin’ beer business.

    Liked by 4 people

    • We don’t live in a pure democracy, Verbena, so your complaint that you didn’t vote to provide subsidies for this private business is silly. The majority of those who voted elected the people who approved this gift so your complaints should be directed at those who can’t be bothered to vote. Complaining that $13 an hour isn’t a living wage is quite hypocritical since the “living wage” you were working for was $12 an hour. When you live on the edge of the country in an isolated setting, as we do, it is more expensive for a company to produce and ship their product to the rest of the world so, all else being equal, they wouldn’t do business from here. The calculations as to how long it takes to get our money back are more complex than multiplying the property tax percentages the city receives. The taxes the workers pay on their homes and sales taxes and the taxes on all the businesses and employees of businesses where workers spend their money, etc. all have to be taken into account. While I am generally opposed to taxpayer subsidies to businesses, I would prefer to subsidize a Lost Coast Brewery than a Home Depot because LCB actually produces something of value locally and provides pretty decent (for this area) jobs.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. What bothered me about this project is it was built in the outskirts of town. I’m not opposed to $700,000 of public funds going to att cg a private enterprise, but bring it into town. Let’s say all those screaming for a county minimum wage instead of the unfairness of only Eureka getting a raise toward a living wage arent as organized as V and team in 2014.

    It would have been cool if some people didn’t need what should be the discretionary expense of a vehicle to get to work.

    We’ve learned to appreciate reducing, recycling, reusing. Why haven’t we been fighting to do this for land use.

    I think this is one way we move beyond alarmism and to local action on climate change. This was a missed opportunity.

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    • I think the location choice was a matter of zoning and available appropriate land, LJ. It is located on the Orange bus route for ETS as well as the HTA route. It is also easily accessible via bike or foot.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. It seems like only yesterday that Mitch was ridiculing the Tuluwat, accusing it of exaggerating the disaster of rising tides even though millions of people are already suffering the effects while actual experts are periodically revising their calculations, each time hastening the anticipated occurrence of temperature increases from climate change.

    Sadly, Mitch is back again to continue unjustly ridiculing the Tuluwat without a single example of being “unfair” for “failing” to extract the facts from “all sides”, as if law enforcement or Groom/Eureka officials are willing to provide them. They are not. Similarly, Mitch ridicules this report as a “hit piece” then hits the writer for not insisting on explanations for the extortionist claims, although the word “extortion” does not appear in the report.

    It is not incumbent upon Eureka’s citizens, nor was their input sought, to decide if private interest “A or B” merits “competition on a national level”.

    The ability to qualify for a $27 million dollar loan makes it highly probable that a $27.7 million dollar loan was equally possible, or, instead, greatly reducing the loan(s) by reducing the size of the executive office and eliminating food service capabilities.

    It’s a huge “if” that Groom would “leave”, in which case the Fourth Street facility with its infrastructure fixtures would make it easier for the next successful start up.

    Unlike Mitch, I am deeply grateful to the NCJ for being the only print media with the courage to offer extremely rare public exposure of local corporate welfare, among other “hit pieces”, by asking questions that are so often unwelcome and unanswered – which is newsworthy in itself. Thank God someone is asking! Ever since Mitch mismanaged a potentially informative blogsite, he has been busy ridiculing blogs, reporters, and news sources, among others. With any luck, his focus will become more productive with a new blogsite that is actually informative, showing everyone how it’s supposed to be done – absent the penchant for ridicule, sophistry, superlatives, mockery, satire and censorship.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anonymous 11:22:

      To be fair, I introduced the term “extortion” into the discussion, not Mitch.

      To be fair to Mr. Scott-Goforth… he did say in the article that various people, including Ms. Groom, were contacted by him but chose not to respond.

      It’s hard to look objective when only one side of a story is willing to talk. But others (such as Ryan Burns) are able to pull that off.

      I find the timing of the publication of Mr. Scott-Goforth’s article interesting… but as the saying goes; better late than never.

      As to Mitch and the demise of the Humboldt Herald. I honestly don’t think it was Mitch’s fault. The Humboldt Herald WAS Heraldo. It would of (and did) become something different without him. When Heraldo gave up his blog the Herald was done.

      Mitch’s only sin was trying to keep the Herald on life support. I’m not sure I can blame him for that.

      As for Mitch’s present circumstances… Well, we can only be who we are. But I believe there is value in questioning the questioners.

      Just as there is value in being the person asking the questions in the first place.

      Liked by 2 people

    • midnight anon – you have become an instrument of your own hatred.

      You’ve made your point, over and over. The Herald was successful b/c it was written by Heraldo. Content, Content, Content.

      This anti-Mitch crusade of yours is seeming to be just that, a crusade. As much as I agree with your policies, before we discuss policies we need to have an understanding of the following … a) we are trying to avoid violence at all but all costs b) we are not allowing our inner demons that lead to hatred cloud our judgement.

      I’m convinced that your posts and incessant focus on Mitch mean that b) is a problem for you.

      My personal solution, I’ll be scrolling down. Which is sad, b/c anti-Mitch diatribes aside there is a whole lot of policy stuff I agree with.

      Since you have a difficult time naming yourself, I will continue my free service of naming you for you. Your new tag is midnight anti-Mitch anon, or, sadly, mama for short. Guess there is still work to do there.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. It hasn’t been mentioned yet, so maybe, likely I am off a decade or two, haha, but wasn’t the redevelopment money canceled in the after banks stole it all meltdown or was it just a state reform?
    Anyway…it screwed up a lot of city’s mathematics, their expectations and projections for redevelopment money.?

    That many have been some hope that redevelopment money from the state might have been funneled into this instead of the city paying it…but I can’t remember that timeline. Could that have been a factor in this $700,000 decision, that the state might have eventually pitched in?

    I am glad the jobs and work and tax base is still here, I wish the jobs paid more…an interesting article TE, thanks.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Like Mitch, Jon gets mad and starts name-calling.

    Accusing someone of “hate” is also childish, or is it evil? In any case, it’s a hypocritical and irrational retort against someone accused of a “violent hateful demonic crusade”.

    Really?

    I also often agree with Jon, Mitch and Mola.

    Check your records Jon, Mitch slathers the blogs with comments that I agree with and occasionally post my agreement and appreciation for, however, unlike you; it doesn’t merit silence when Mitch reverts to his obvious pleasure as a serial ridiculer for which there are many examples, including my “debates” with Mitch on “Mitchaldo”. I don’t mind that you are bothered when I call-out Mitch on his irrational, baseless ridicule of the Tuluwat on two recent occasions, and now the NCJ. It’s sweet that there’s someone willing to debase himself with childish hypocrisy for a friend. Upon Mitch’s next ludicrous, counterproductive and sad outbursts, I will provide another stinging reminder of his growing list of baseless ridicule. Soon, it will deserve its own “Mitch-watch” blogsite.

    If you don’t like seeing a serial ridiculer ridiculed, I suggest looking the other way, or just respond to my reasons above why his ridicule of the NCJ and Tuluwat are irrational.

    As usual, MOLA chose a reasoned response:

    1) “To be fair, I introduced the term “extortion” into the discussion, not Mitch.” (MOLA)

    Yet, Mitch used your terminology against the NCJ:

    “But we part company there. Even when a deal is considered extortionate, there are generally a variety of opinions as to why it was made, whether it was worthwhile, and so on. I wish the Journal reporter had given us such an article, and I’m surprised that Thadeus Greenson, who I respect, did not insist on that.”

    Reporters generally implore their subjects to be quoted, how does Mitch know that this did not happen here? Personally, I prefer to have “no comment” rather than no report.

    Again, thank God there’s ONE local print media that reports in the public interest once in a while. The known facts made the story essential.

    2) “It’s hard to look objective when only one side of a story is willing to talk. But others (such as Ryan Burns) are able to pull that off.” (MOLA)

    OK, please link to Ryan’s coverage of this story for an honest comparison; anything else is “Apples and Oranges”.

    3) “Mitch’s only sin was trying to keep the Herald on life support. I’m not sure I can blame him for that. (MOLA)

    Are you kidding?

    As one of the last debaters on Mitchaldo, (Kinichi Matsu), I engaged Mitch for weeks. Simply put, Mitch ridiculed non-voters for not informing themselves…despite the largest, most effective, propaganda machine in human history. Mitch resorted to “FU”, erased my posts and banned all future posts. Within weeks the site was voluntarily evacuated amid other claims of censorship and demagoguery.

    I look forward to Mitch playing a more productive role among his fellow travelers instead of his inevitably cheap, childish and mean swipes at other successful and creative blogsites like the Tuluwat:

    “This particular article…..struck me as the sort of thing the Tuluwat Examiner might do. That’s bad news for a publication that wants credibility.” (Mitch)

    Cheap, childish and baseless, especially after tanking a popular local website.

    Here’s someone else’s “take”:

    Rodney Ozuna Cabrera B. Mitch
    • 16 hours ago


    With all due respect Mitch, you are blind to your own actions. If people agree with you, they are “adults”. If people disagree with you, they are “adolescents”. Your inability to restrain yourself, your profanity to KM, me, and others, your posting people’s IP addresses for simply having a different point of view as you did to KM, me, and others, and your banning and erasing people’s post which were not profane, but as you put, were “meta” (see Hank’s piece above to better understand the nature of “blogging” and “meta”); I ask you, who is the real upset adolescent? You blocked everyone until it was just down to you and that creepy guy in Florida. I wish you peace, you don’t need to be afraid of other people’s points of view, you don’t need to oppress people to prove you are right. Peace.

    IN HIS OWN WORDS:

    “I ridicule — out of, I believe, an otherwise unbearable sadness — those who are incapable of weighing evidence in a way I believe is basic to common sense.” (Mitch).

    When Mitch refrains from unwarranted and unsubstantiated ridicule and demagoguery, I too will refrain from ridiculing the ridiculer.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m surprised that jonboy jumped to Mitch’s defense, given the number of times Mitch has verbally bitch slapped him. It’s almost like the woman/wife who won’t leave her abusive man, because she loves him so much.

      Like

    • Here’s a quote from Mitch, on today’s LOCO article about Phil Crandall Retiring. His foul language speaks for itself:

      “I was not fired, but I did have a nervous breakdown from working there. I’m embarrassed to say that I did end up pounding on the walls of the stairwell, in what was the absolute worst moment of my life. I left on the advice of my doctor, but the cunts and bastards in charge would not let me leave without making me sit in my office chair for two additional weeks.”

      Like

      • Glad I could make your day, Mr. Clark.

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      • “Mr. Clark”?

        Your paranoia is getting the best of you Mitch.

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      • This is what the poor old Heraldo blog looked like before everyone left…Mitch, Mitch, Mitch, Mitch….

        When will you learn that megalomaniacs will do what they must for attention…the reason Mitch thanks his imaginary protagonist “Mr. Clarke”.

        Like

  12. Here’s the thing…

    Our right wing adversaries enjoy their Rotary, Kiwanis, the Chamber, many right wing churches, especially the local Catholics and Mormons, their Moose, Elk and Masonic Lodges, uninterrupted control of every elected and appointed office except Arcata, Trinidad and Blue lake, and, of course, their media enablers.

    They decided to anoint a beer brewer because it’s “big”, Big is good! It tickles down, remember? Barnum, Kluke and Bareilles are also “big” and their backers in the industry are encouraged to build beyond infrastructure capacities. Who cares? Their friends get rich and future generations can pay for the 35 million dollar Martin Slough Interceptor.

    All “WE” have is the Econews, a little Independent paper from SoHum, the Tuluwat, a few investigative reports each year from the NCJ, the Unitarian Fellowship, and a few environmental groups recently herded into one building. You would hardly know there’s a university and college in our community unless you enrolled.

    And yet, this guy “Mitch” takes it upon himself to routinely shit on the NCJ, and the Tuluwat without legitimate reasoning after personally sabotaging the only muckraking blogsite before Tuluwat. He inserts himself into his first Occupy Eureka meeting and without invitation begins facilitating because he doesn’t like the pace before leaving for good. His periodic ridicule sessions extend for weeks on local blogs.

    If he must share his pain, please focus it elsewhere, it hinders the minuscule progressive progress that exists.

    Like

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