Home > Humboldt Waste Management Authority > Important HWMA meeting tonight

Important HWMA meeting tonight

The Humboldt Waste Management Authority is on the brink of a really bad decision.  You can set them straight at their meeting tonight at Eureka City Hall.

From Maggie Gainer:

On Thursday night, it is likely that elected officials on the HWMA board will vote to send our recyclables to a Willits hauler. At least half of the HWMA board attended their first meeting in January and have never dealt with the complexities of these issues before. They need more time to learn about the impacts to our local economy — now and in the future — and to develop a more sophisticated plan to protect our interests.

Their act could bring an end to 40 years of local recyclables processing and will force the closure of a modern materials processing facility on the Samoa peninsula. This is a clear example of when the lowest bid is not the best choice. The HWMA says the lowest bid saves ratepayers money, but this is a shortsighted view of recycling and the local economy. This is not good public policy and is a giant leap backward for several reasons.

Full Story.  Meeting starts at 6:30.

  1. Anonymous # 1
    April 14, 2011 at 9:56 am

    Typical business attitude by the commission. Short term bottomline decision with no social/community/long term/ ethical factors considered. Narrow minded corporate attitude. But unfortunately that is the way the system rolls and you can see what it has done for our country. Government should not be making decisions from a business perspective but rather in a long term/strong community perspective.

  2. Anonymous
    April 14, 2011 at 10:03 am

    The local guys need to come up with a better bid, then.

  3. Ben
    April 14, 2011 at 10:13 am

    So the customers are to pay $60 per ton to the Arcata Recycleing Center or get paid $8 from the out of town company. Seems like the locals need to improve their position because a public agency should not be paying more so that they can feel good.

  4. Larry Glass
    April 14, 2011 at 10:22 am

    This about poor management by ACRC, bad business decisions and bad leadership. Don’t blame HWMA for it. This on ACRC, they knew what the bid was going to be and they threw a hissy fit and wouldn’t complete. Now the bid process is done and they’re crying foul.

  5. GTO Davidson
    April 14, 2011 at 10:22 am

    We could also add the bums to Arcata’s Recycling and move the entire south to Mendo.

  6. nat
    April 14, 2011 at 10:23 am

    This is a big shame, I will repeat, this is a big shame, but it is hard to say this is the wrong decision. The gap between bids was huge (and not mentioned in the short post). A public process has rules and I don’t think any shenanigans are being alleged. Local recycling got smoked.

  7. Mitch
    April 14, 2011 at 10:33 am

    The question that needs to be asked is why ACRC was not able or willing to offer a competitive bid.

    If it is because they cost more because of all the externalities they provide our community, they should have listed and priced those externalities.

    If it is because they are poorly-managed…

  8. nat
    April 14, 2011 at 10:37 am

    LOL, she doesn’t mention the bid difference in the linked article either, just mentions the folly of saving, “a few cents on the dollar”?? really, that’s all that is involved. If my memory still serves me, in the local option we pay over 2 mil/year and in the Willits option they pay us around $400,000/year. That’s not cents on the dollar. Argue passionately but argue honestly.

  9. Gump
    April 14, 2011 at 10:40 am

    I have nothing against either entity in this. If I was quoted charge of $60.00 a ton and then somebody else says they will PAY me $8 a ton it would seem like an easy decision. The fact that ACRC immediately dropped there charge to “free” make me wonder where they got the $60.00 price in the first place.They couldn’t offer free if it would put them out of business. If the Willits firm didn’t come along where would all that money have gone?

  10. Goldie
    April 14, 2011 at 10:44 am

    I don’t know a lot about this but I do know this difference of a cheap roof and a roof that is done correctly. While it could be apples and oranges I am greatly concerned about a people who are new to a situation and not aware of all the impacts this would have making a decision that will cost jobs and undo years of work for a short term gain. Price per ton does not tell the whole story.

  11. Jojo the dog-faced boy
    April 14, 2011 at 11:16 am

    HA! Larry Glass talking about bad leadership

  12. Long Time Recycler
    April 14, 2011 at 11:19 am

    Mark Loughmiller, the ED of ACRC, has a long history of empire building regardless of the costs to the organization with which he works. I was sad to see him build the White Elephant Taj Mahal in Samoa and I told people years ago it would collapse under its own weight. Wish I was wrong.

  13. Otis
    April 14, 2011 at 11:29 am

    Interesting how nobody talks about how much we pay for garbage. The recycling portion of my trash bill is a small fraction compared to garbage. It’s interesting that HWMA has only gone after recycling as too expensive

  14. April 14, 2011 at 11:37 am

    The HWMA promised ACRC a contract if ACRC allowed HWMA to study the efficiency of the operations of its processing. The $70,000 HWMA Study concluded that ACRC operated efficiently, was well managed, and used the organizations limited funds judiciously.

    The report concluded that the HWMA would greatly benefit by ownership of the facility and predicted that HWMA ownership would ultimately allow HWMA the ability to reduce rates. ACRC publicly stated it was not for sale. Larry Glass and Shane Brinton voted to acquire but the HWMA vote failed 3 to 2.

    It was only after the failed attempt that HWMA released a request-for-proposal favoring transportation of materials out of county. To state that ACRC is poorly managed is counter to a very expensive report tha cost local rate payers over $1 per ton.

  15. Quick Question
    April 14, 2011 at 11:48 am

    Didn’t HWMA take over the Eureka recycling center and subsequently start losing money on it? Isn’t that operation subsidized by tipping fees for garbage?

    Also, didn’t the amount brought in by the recycled commodities drop from roughly $180/ton to about $20/ton when the economy fell off the cliff in 2008, bringing about the need for a recycling tip fee in the first place?

  16. Long Time Recycler
    April 14, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    Mark Loughmiller says:
    April 14, 2011 at 11:37 am
    “The HWMA promised ACRC a contract…”
    Really? Promised? In writing?

  17. April 14, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    HWMA took over the operation of the drop-off in July 2010. ACRC had been paid $456,000 annualy to operate the drop-off. Revenue generated by ACRC activity at the drop-off was returned to HWMA. This resulted in a net operating cost to HWMA (ratepayers) of around $100,000 per year.

    HWMA has spent $689,057 operating the same drop-off in the first eight months of their fiscal year. Revenue is likely similar to past but clearly the HWMA expense and rate payer subsidy has increased dramatically. HWMA financials show a loss of $156,672 through February. HWMA justified assumption of the activity with a similar argument of “saving the rate payer money”. Clearly that has not occurred.

    HWMA has handled about 39,000 tons of garbage through February so a $156,000 loss at the drop-off would be $4 per ton. ACRC’s current tip fee of $50 per ton costs rate payers $200,000 per year. If spread against garbage tonnage in the same manner that amounts to $3.33 per ton cost to the rate payers.

    The commodity value decline stated is accurate. Markets continue to heal but commodity markets are very fickle. This is why ACRC is hesitant to tie to a five year fixed term contract that does not address fluctuating market conditions. I do not feel good about the global economy and do not believe we have stabilized. This is evidenced by ACRC’s bid to HWMA.

  18. Anonymous
    April 14, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    An HWMA-sponsored study concluding that HWMA would benefit by ownership? I could have told you that for $500!

    “Consulting” = If you’re not part of the solution, there’s good money to be made prolonging the problem.

    Great choice: to lose the business willingly, or not… The 3-2 vote sounds a lot like the rest of this county’s political BS….animosity against Humboldt County’s first recycling lefties was loud and clear 40 years ago, that crap NEVER goes away here…”jobs” only matter when it’s the right group…

    Was the HWMA “promise” verbal?

    Somebody needs an attorney…

  19. tra
    April 14, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    How much you wanna bet that if the Willits hauler is given the contract, and as a result the ACRC’s state- of-the-art recycling center in Samoa closes and is dismantled, and ACRC folds (leaving us without a viable local option in the future), then any future bids from the Willits hauler, and from any other bidders, will end up being much, much HIGHER than ACRC’s current bid?

    I think this is just a classic example of predatory capitalism, where a larger, better-financed out-of-area competitor is looking to capture a local market by underpricing their service now, in order to force an efficient, but smaller and less-well-financed local competitor to fold (and the local capacity to provide the service to be dismantled) so that a few years down the road the out-of-area Big Guys can squeeze us for more money in the future.

    It’s no different than WalMart or Home Depot coming in and offering super-low prices just long enough to drive their competitors out of business…at which point they can then start to charge just as much or more than those competitors did before the Big Box moved in.

  20. tra
    April 14, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    Mark Loughmiller,

    Thank you for your very informative comments on this thread.

    – tra

  21. tra
    April 14, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    It looks to me like the Willits hauler is taking advantage of the fact that the ACRC had the misfortune of completing their new facility just as the economy collapsed.

    Despite the efficiency of that facility, the short-term drop in price for recycled materials makes it easy for the larger operation (even if that larger operation is really no more efficient and maybe even less so) to undersell the smaller, local firm for a period of time in order to destroy their only local competition and fully capture the local market for future profiteering.

  22. Steve
    April 14, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    tra- you are probably right, time will tell.

  23. Not A Native
    April 14, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    Yesterday’s TS article says that HWMA won’t award a contract tonight. So I doubt simply speaking at tonight’s meeting can make a difference.

    “The HWMA board was scheduled to approve the contract Thursday, but HWMA Executive Director Jim Test said his staff is still finalizing a few details with the company. The contract won’t be ready until the May 12 board meeting.”

    I don’t understand the specifics well enough to have a personal opinion about whats going on. Also have no particular reason to think the officials on the HWMA board are incompetant or corrupt in this regard.

    Living in Arcata, I’m aware that there have been conflicts concerning the mission, purpose and economics of ACRC. As a result, ACRC isn’t the sole recycler in town.

    Recycling has come a long way since 40 years ago and support for it is now completely mainstream. Its also required by law. I think that any resentments about the campaign to make recycling mandatory should be put aside.

  24. High Finance
    April 14, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    Move along folks, there is no controversy.

    I am totally in agreement to use local services whenever the price is close. But Arcata wanted to charge $2 million and the out of area company would pay us $400,000 there is no doubt about which one to choose.

    If this is the way they operate, the ACRC should go out of business.

  25. April 14, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    But Arcata wanted to charge $2 million and the out of area company would pay us $400,000 there is no doubt about which one to choose..

    Agreed. If there wasn’t such a difference in bids, I’d be tempted to keep it local. I can’t help but think they bid so high just because they figured being local would make them the shoo- in for the bid.

  26. skippy
    April 14, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    Fiscal responsibility weighs in prominently given the huge price differences given. Very little of the article or reader’s comments swayed this fiscally-minded opinion otherwise. Tra @ 12:43 made a valiant attempt; but such is how the financial chips fall in free markets.

    Ms. Gainer’s article (and bias) disingenuously left out important financial figures and facts for the sake of selling to the social good at whatever the cost– which yours truly did not appreciate. Yours truly also wished ACRC relied upon a more competitive marketplace footing for both business and workers’ viability.

  27. Ponder z
    April 14, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    ACRC wants to control the “market” then they need to give a competitive bid. Not force a contract because they are local. Fuck them. They lost. And their management did a shitty job of selling the extra cost of their operation. What assholes.

    April 14, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    So, is another tax funded project going to be in jeopardy? Which local business got to profit off of construction tax dollars that are now up for vote to be wasted by shutting down a plant that was built with those very same tax dollars turned into private sector profit for the builder. WOW, I hope cooler heads prevail so the construction tax dollars won’t be a total waste.

    Jeffrey Lytle
    McKinleyville – 5th District

  29. Matt
    April 14, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    Shockingly, I’m 100% in agreement with HiFi for a change! His post deserves to be quoted:

    “I am totally in agreement to use local services whenever the price is close. But Arcata wanted to charge $2 million and the out of area company would pay us $400,000 there is no doubt about which one to choose.

    If this is the way they operate, the ACRC should go out of business.”

  30. High Finance
    April 14, 2011 at 6:06 pm


    Maybe I’ll have to rethink my position Mitch !!

  31. Quick Question
    April 14, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    If (nonprofit) ACRC is now proposing a different arrangement that would profit/loss share with HWMA, bring the tip fee down to $0 now and then adjust up or down depending on commodities markets, would the current $8/ton difference (with potential upsides for rate payers) be enough to justify losing these 35 jobs and $4 million/year in local economic activity along with likely permanent loss of local processing capabilities?

  32. Quick Question
    April 14, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    Another question related to ratepayer interests: If Willits has a garbage tip fee of $70 dollars versus HWMA’s of $155.56, given that only roughly $0.28 cents of our average waste disposal bills go to support recycling, wouldn’t there be a MUCH larger savings to be made by outsourcing garbage to Willits as well?

  33. Plain Jane
    April 14, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    How much does the dump in Anderson (where our garbage goes) charge?

  34. April 14, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    I would still prefer to see the HMWA work out a better contract with ACRC, keeping the jobs and business here and maintaing the LOCAL CAPACITY for serious recycling. Maybe the threat of the Willits contract is enough to allow for serious renegotiating with ARCR. They should at least give it a try before sending more jobs and capacity down the road. And it’s not only the ARCR jobs. It also threatens wonderful local businesses like Fire and Light. All you ‘conservatives’ talk about jobs jobs jobs. Taking the recycling to Willits would be a MAJOR loss of jobs, from truck drivers to sorters to Fire and Light employees of all sorts.
    HMWA, don’t leap before you really look at what’s involved.

  35. Larry Glass
    April 14, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    Mark had ACRC drop it’s membership on the Northcoast Environmental Center board of directors. He was pissed becuase the NEC was in favor of saving Richardson Grove. Willits is fine with the road as it is.
    BTW Mark there was never a vote or a promise as you posted, your just makin’ shit up.

  36. Quick Question
    April 15, 2011 at 7:04 am

    Larry, are you interested in seeing ACRC fail because of your dislike of Mark over a tangentially related issue?

  37. Decline To State
    April 15, 2011 at 7:29 am

    I’m sorry but the ACRC amending its bid from $80/ton to $0/ton gives the impression that they have been gouging the City of Arcata all along. At the very least it smacks of bad management.

  38. Down the Road
    April 15, 2011 at 8:33 am

    Think about this. How much will it cost the general
    public to eventually pay for welfare for all of these
    lost jobs? $500,000 certainly isn’t going to cover
    it. The employees of ACRC aren’t going to be able
    to go out and get jobs, there are none. ACRC provides
    a important role in this county. One is there educational role. What I am surprised about is why
    the public hearings are almost after the fact. The
    other thing that surprises me is all the representatives sitting on the panel are from this area.

  39. Down the Road
    April 15, 2011 at 8:35 am

    Oops, One is their educational role.

  40. High Finance
    April 15, 2011 at 8:37 am

    Sorry Mouse, you don’t reward a thief by negotiating with them after they have been caught.

  41. Quick Question
    April 15, 2011 at 8:59 am

    HiFi: If the nonprofit “thief” almost went bankrupt with the crash in commodity prices, wouldn’t it make business sense for them to make a bid that would cover base operations no matter what the commodity markets do over the 5-year contract period? Is it not reasonable to instead offer to share the risks and rewards with HWMA instead of having to predict the future? Also, could you share your opinion on whether it would be a good idea to outsource garbage disposal as well, since HWMA currently charges more than twice as much for their garbage tip fee as Willits?

  42. skippy
    April 15, 2011 at 9:17 am

    “Nearly 40 people went before the authority board to request the contract offer be rescinded to the Willits company in favor of the local jobs… Board members expressed they acted in good faith when awarding Willits the contract… and hesitant to rescind or suspend negotiations due to legal concerns.”

    But suspend the negotiations they did, using a cagey end run of straw man words to avoid further litigation already pressed by ACRC– and potentially by Solid Waste of Willits, to the standing room only crowd at the City Chambers. Not a single soul spoke for continuing forward with the Willits contract except for Executive Director Jim Test in his ongoing battle against ACRC Director Mark Loughmiller and employees, and before his imminent departure in December. “I’m the ‘bean counter’,” Mr. Test explained.

    More of the recycling conflict by Allison Edrington in her Times-Standard article here.

  43. Squishy LaSquish
    April 15, 2011 at 9:29 am

    Yes QQ, nobody wants to talk about the thousand pound garbage gorilla in the back of the room. We’re all happy to pay $155.56/ton to throw our garbage out, but $65/ton for recycling? That’s an outrage!

    April 15, 2011 at 9:50 am

    Non-Profit statuses CAN BE a joke!


    Answer: Many only seem to invent excessive expenditures and costs to pay themselves for their efforts. In other words, instead of “booking profit based on labor, materials and sales transactions”, profit is “booked based on costs”. Thus, increase costs and funnel the profit under the costs, but the profit is not “booked as profit”, no, no, no, it is booked as an expense, even labor as an expense. So, if your near the top of that non-profit organization, not such a bad position to be in economically. As a matter of fact, why are not ALL businesses considered “non-profit” if it is merely a matter of faking expenses and costs through false actions that lead to aggravated, willing consumptions to cover-over those sorta hidden lifestyle benfits for again, those near the top of the organization who use costs as the basis for bettering their individual lifestyles.

    Just one angle of the dangle to roost thoughts upon COSTS and how they are manipulated into accounting trickeries that yield better lifestyles for certain folks compared to most others. (upper tier management versus the by day employee recycling sorters).

    Follow the Money – Audit trail…….Get the financial order of the house clear.


  45. Quick Question
    April 15, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    JL: If “…the $70,000 HWMA Study concluded that ACRC operated efficiently, was well managed, and used the organizations limited funds judiciously” is correct, why aren’t you railing against HWMA which, it has been pointed out, is losing money at an alarming rate after it took over from ACRC in operating the Eureka Recycling Center?

  46. High Finance
    April 15, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    QQ, First the ACRC wants to charge us $ TWO MILLION dollars which was $2.4 million more than the other bidder. Why the difference ?

    Next, (according to another poster) faced with competition, they then dropped their price bid by the two million dollars !!

    Only an ACRC employee or family member would not be outraged at what they tried to do to us.

  47. Matt
    April 15, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    Exactly. They were trying to gouge us. I want those local jobs to remain as much as anybody else, but not at the point of being reamed to do it.

  48. tra
    April 15, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    I don’t think ACRC is trying to “gouge” anyone. They submitted a bid that they felt was realistic in light of the current record-low prices for recyleable materials (which is due to the current recession).

    When an out-of-area competitor underbid them in the hopes of destroying ACRC and causing the abandonment/dismantling of our only local processing facility, in order to capture the market (so that they can charge us more in the future, when we’ll have no real choice but to pay, given that our local capacity will be gone) ACRC has responded by offering to tighten their belts further, and provide a significantly lower price than their original offer, while tying the cost of their services to the price of recycleables going forward. That seems to me like a pretty good arrrangement, and I think we should take them up on that offer.

    When (if?) the economy eventually rebounds and the price for recyleable materials goes up, local taxpayers will be in a good position to benefit from lower rates, whereas if the Samoa plant is dismantled and our local capacity is gone, we’ll be at the mercy of out-of-area haulers who will be able to increase our rates even as they profit more on the sales of the recycleables. Then you’ll see some real gouging.

    Meanwhile, if we’re smart enough not to go for the short-term immediate gratification of (not-really-that-significant) savings, we won’t have to lose the local jobs and the local capacity to deal with our own recycleables.

    Hopefully people are going to contact their elected leaders in the relevant municipalities and urge them to stick with our efficient local operation through the tough times, and not give in to the predatory market takeover and destruction of local capacity that is being attempted by the out-of-area hauler.

  49. April 16, 2011 at 7:10 am

    When (if?) the economy eventually rebounds and the price for recyleable materials goes up,….

    Highly unlikely. A big part of the reason the price of recyclables went up is simply because more and more people are recycling, whether by force or desire. That created a glut of recyclables. I suspect that situation will only get worse, not better, as more people are forced to recycle.

    My suspicion is that within 5 or 10 years we’ll be having to pay as much to get rid of recyclables as we do for garbage now.

  50. Quick Question
    April 16, 2011 at 7:33 am

    Fred: If the prices of recycled commodities are currently rising, isn’t that counter to your theory of a “glut” of recyclables driving those prices down? Have you heard of China and their economic growth rates and corresponding demand for those commodities? Are you just mad about being “forced” to recycle instead of throwing all your recyclables in a landfill (at triple the cost of recycling)?

  51. tra
    April 16, 2011 at 10:17 am

    Well, first of all, the price of the recyleable materials is down not up. Perhaps Fred meant the price of providing the recycling service is up (precisely because the amount of money they can get for the recyled materials is down).

    At any rate the evidence is that the current “glut” of recyled materials has more to do with lower demand for the raw materials in general due to the weakened global economy, rather than a sudden increase in supply due to increasing public participation in recycling. After all, participation in recycling has been fairly steady (growing gradually, but not suddenly spiking), whereas the price of the recycleable materials fell rapidly right when the economy crashed.

    Now it’s true that correlation isn’t the same thing as causation, and indeed supply is part of the equation, but it seems likely that it is the demand side that is mostly responsible for the drop in the price of recycleable materials, which is what put the ACRC in such tough financial straits, and led to them instituting a tipping fee, rather than accepting the stuff for free (or even paying for it).

    As the economy recovers, demand for the “raw materials” (recycleable materials) will head back up, and with it the price that those materials can fetch on the open market.

    The question is: Will ratepayers in Humboldt still be in a position to benefit from that improving market, or will we have dismantled our local capacity, leaving ourselves open to profiteering from the out-of-area hauler, who will be able to benefit from the higher prices they’ll be getting for selling our recycleables, but who will have no real incentive to pass the savings along to us.

    We should keep out local capacity — it will save jobs now, and save us money in the long run. The only question is whether our local elected officials are capable of making decisions based on the Big Picture and the Long Term, or whether they’ll go for the Short Term savings and the Immediate Gratification, without considering the impact of the loss of jobs and loss of capacity to deal with our own waste.

  52. Mitch
    April 16, 2011 at 10:57 am


    This is one area where I think I strongly disagree with you.

    If it’s truly to everyone’s benefit to keep a local capacity, that calls for public ownership of that capacity, under public control. As far as I know, ACRC may be non-profit, but it is not public.

    If ACRC is a non-public enterprise and it provides an acknowledged community service, the legal way to handle that is by having it compete for grants for the particular community service(s) that the public or its representatives are willing to pay for, not by allowing it to win a contract for which its bid is substantially higher than that of a competitor.

    Otherwise, you end up with the potential for in-group cliques using public funds for their own goals, without public oversight. I feel that way regardless of whether I’m talking about a bunch of businessmen in the Chamber of Commerce or a bunch of progressives at ACRC.

  53. tra
    April 16, 2011 at 11:24 am


    I would be totally in favor of ACRC and/or the Samoa facility being turned into a public agency. I suspect the workers at the Samoa facility would be fine with that, too, or at least would far prefer that outcome to losing their jobs entirely, and watching as the Samoa facility is abandoned and/or dismantled.

    But if the local governments don’t want to take on that ownership/management role, I think that the importance of keeping the local jobs and local capacity still justifies accepting a less-financially-favorable (in the short-term) bid from the local agency. It’s not ideal, for the reasons you cite, among others, but in my view it’s better than the alternative.

  54. Not A Native
    April 16, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    The record is that after doing a study HWMA, a public agency, wanted to buy the Samoa facility. But ACRC didn’t want to sell. Only after NWMA requested competitive bids did ACRC agree to negotiate a sale.

    But the flip side of public agencies is that are a monopoly(despite tra’s 7:45 farfetched and wildly speculative chain of events) are subject to the same abuses as private or non-profit monopolies.

    Assuming that a public entity will always operate most efficiently and at lowest cost is naive at best and in denial of tons of evidence. If it were true, society would benefit when all essential goods(including food, clothing, automobiles) are produced by public agencies. Historically, that hasn’t worked out so well, even in China.

  55. Mitch
    April 16, 2011 at 3:47 pm


    You can safely bet that I don’t assume public agencies necessarily outperform private operations.

    That’s not the point I was trying to make.

  56. Not A Native
    April 16, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    Well Mitch, then why are you sharing tra’s Kool Aid that a local recycling agency is necessary, and go further to say potential ‘in-group cliques’ mean that HumCo would be best served by a local public agency?

  57. tra
    April 16, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    I never said that a local recycling agency was “necessary,” but the gist of my comments is that a local recycling agency is preferable to being totally at the mercy of out-of-area haulers.

    And, in my opinion, it is preferable enough to justify the (short-term) expense of getting them through this rough patch in the market and avoiding the predatory, market-capturing strategy of the outside hauler.

    Even putting aside the desirability of being able to process our own recycleables locally, rather than being dependent on outside firms, it seems to me that it should be worth it just for avoiding the local job losses and the wastefulness of a state-of-the-art sorting facility sitting idle or being dismantled, all due to a short-term weakness in demand for the recycleable materials that they collect and sort.

    I think there is an overwhelming liklihood that if we go with the outside hauler for the short-term cost savings, and as a result the Samoa facility is shuttered and dismantled, this will look like a very, very stupid move a few years down the line.

  58. Not A Native
    April 16, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    And tra just how do you know that there’s a ‘predatory market-capturing strategy of the outside hauler’?

    Have you even considered that there may actually be synergies between the capabilities of some boogyman dreaded ‘outsider’ and the needs of HumCo? As in, we have recyclables and they have economies of scale and access to markets that will give us fair prices? Guess thats just not possible if outsiders and evil are synonymous.

    I’d say you’re just kneejerking a xenophobic fear based attitude that reflects a lack of self esteem(no confidence that the people in HumCo have the capability to develop partnerships with the larger society that create win-win solutions).

  59. tra
    April 16, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    Well, you could be right, N.A.N., and it could all work out O.K. in the future, even with an outside hauler. Yes, there are economies of scale with the larger haulers down south, and I believe the article also mentioned something you might call a “synergy” in that this hauler already has trucks coming up this way to deliver stuff, then heading home empty. So I’m sure that a large part of the reason the Willits firm is able to offer such a low price is due to those factors.

    But I still think that a likely scenario is that the next time the contract comes up for renewal, the outside hauler will not offer such a great deal (even if the market for recycleables may well have improved), but since our local capacity will have been destroyed, we will be more or less at their mercy and so we’ll have little choice but to pay whatever they demand.

    Yes, in theory, we could then build a whole new facility here at that time, but that’s a big capital expense. And it’s a capital expense that was already incurred here just recently, resulting in the current Samoa facility. If that folds, and the equipment is dismantled to help pay off the foreclosing bank, we’re not likely to see a new recycling facility built here anytime in the forseeable future. I doubt that fact is lost on the Willits-based hauler.

    April 16, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    Quick Question says:
    April 15, 2011 at 12:02 pm
    JL: If “…the $70,000 HWMA Study concluded that ACRC operated efficiently, was well managed, and used the organizations limited funds judiciously” is correct, why aren’t you railing against HWMA which, it has been pointed out, is losing money at an alarming rate after it took over from ACRC in operating the Eureka Recycling Center?

    Response: My rants and rails are regarding this whole mess, all parties involved…..and to think while I was standing out on that recycling center site 4-5 years ago listening to the pomp and circumstance parroting of the Wes Chesbro’s, Bonnie Neely’s, John Woolley’s, Connie Stewert’s, etc… of the political world with their grant funding side-kick developer touting such the local green idea. As has been repeatedly discussed by many unstupid folks, Humboldt is a gouging bureaucracy that renders kick-backs on projects whether they make it or break it. At least one local business made tax funded profit to bank and pocket!


  61. Not A Native
    April 16, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    tra, you’ve got a ‘poverty mentality’ and low self esteem that tells you if someone offers you a bad deal you have to take it because you’ve got no choice. Your self image is of weakness. Well, when the contract comes up for renewal, there may be other interested vendors and if this one attempts to gouge, there almost certainly will be others. And in that future time, maybe other options will come up in how recycling is done. Perhpas there will be less recycling if people transition to more durable goods(like no single use plastic bags or drink containers).

    I assume future HumCo administrators will have choices and the ability to select the one that is best for HumCo. You assume you’re(HumCo) powerless and must take whatever is offered on any terms. Thats a sorry ass, piss poor place to be.

  62. tra
    April 16, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    Well, when the contract comes up for renewal, there may be other interested vendors and if this one attempts to gouge, there almost certainly will be others.

    Ummmmm, that’s a pretty optimistic (some might say naive) view of how the garbage hauling industry actually functions in practice. Even with the ACRC bid being so high, and ACRC being so financially vulnerable, there were only two bids for this contract, the Willits firm and ACRC.

    While, in theory, the “hidden hand” of the free market should create competition if there’s price gouging, in reality, either outright monopoly (just one bidder) or a series of amazingly similar (and equally high) bids are more the norm in the garbage and recycleables – hauling industry. Perhaps that will have changed in just a few years, by the time this contract has expired…but I wouldn’t bet the farm on it.

    I assume future HumCo administrators will have choices and the ability to select the one that is best for HumCo.

    They may still have choices (among other out-of-area haulers) if any other haulers actually bid for the contract(see above). One thing is clear: if the Samoa plant is dismantled they won’t have that choice anyore.

    The reverse, however, is not true. If they keep the Samoa plant open for a few more years, based on the liklihood that their rates can drop substantially as the market for recycleable materials heads back up, and it doesn’t work out as well as hoped, then they can always change their minds in the future and look to out-of-area haulers for bids. So in part this is about whether or not we want to go ahead and give up on a local facility, in a (practically speaking) irreversible manner, due to short-term market factors and budgetary pressures.

    You assume you’re(HumCo) powerless and must take whatever is offered on any terms.

    No, but I assume that as we give up on our local facility, we do give up some of our power. So we may not be “powerless,” but, yes, we will be “less-empowered” if we are reliant on an out-of-area hauler and have allowed our local capacity to be dismantled.

  63. tra
    April 16, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    By the way, N.A.N., just for laughs, what’s your position on WalMart and other Big Box stores? Because it seems to me you’re making basically the same arguments that the Big Box proponents make. Namely that:

    * Humboldt residents are ill-served by local businesses, because they don’t have the same kind of economies of scale and can’t match the low prices of bigger competitors from outside the area.

    * that lower prices in the short-term are all that really matter,

    * that we shouldn’t worry about local job losses, and local loss of local capacity,

    * that we shouldn’t be concerned about a strategy of predatory pricing to drive competitors out of business, soon to be followed by price-gouging of consumers who have then have little choice but to buy from the price-gouger once the competition has been eliminated,

    * that opposition to these sorts of things evidence of a kind of “knee-jerk” provincialism (and in general a bad attitude on the part of local residents, who apparently just don’t know what’s in their own best interest).

    It’s really quite striking the way these arguments line up almost perfectly with those made by Big Box proponents. Just sayin.’

  64. skippy
    April 17, 2011 at 1:23 am

    Sorry to break in here, Tra and NAN. It will only be a moment.

    “…ACRC, the enduring symbol of locally-based recycling advocacy, is now poised to face some of its former friends in a courtroom. ‘I still respect all the people I deal with – this is a disagreement and we feel this is the way to remedy it,’ said (ACRC Director) Loughmiller. ‘They’re tearing apart something I put my heart and soul into.’”

    One of the best historians on this recent matter– and how we got to this point in the recycling dilemma– has been Daniel Mintz reporting for the Arcata Eye newspaper.

    The initial breaking point is described in
    his February Eye article of dropping ACRC by the HWMA

    followed by his more recent April 4th article
    of the jilted recycling romance and ACRC’s threatened legal action.

    These Arcata Eye articles describe more fully the conditions, terms, figures, and players involved underpinning the ACRC and HWMA conflict and feud. Mr. Mintz did a fine job in detailing the main points of this discussion and readers may find it interesting in terms of the historical record and how we got here.

  65. Walt
    April 17, 2011 at 6:32 am

    If there are flies, buzzards, lawyers and a powerful stench, there’s a good chance something is dead.

    April 17, 2011 at 7:10 am

    Except Tra, remember the Humboldt County gas price fixation claims, locally about 15-20+ years ago; or, more currently prevalent, the construction industry where the competitors usually “bump-up” rates, bids, estimates to match other businesses as much as possible. These are “price gougings” too in the whole context of earnings and expenses, income and costs.

    Theory is just “duck and cover” analogy because what theorists do is try to “make” people stick to an idea while the few and politically priveleged break that theory into pieces in order to economically/financially manipulate theoretic economical designs. It is like supply and demand – it don’t really work WITH A RISING POPULATION, but those hoydie doydie institutional types in government and that support government don’t care much for the truth to be told and practiced. So theory away that which a government wants people to do even if the information for that theory is intentionally tainted. See how apathy can destroy good intentions that could have been practiced if for not the programmatic yes sir, no sir responses by the citizenry over non-understood political designs and agendas.

    Too many folks just ASSUME they are being politically considered for the right reasons. As much as people like facts to explain something away in so many social situations, it sure boggles the mind as to why people don’t hold the same “standards of fact” to explain away political situations – it seems to boil down to a “giving-in” status due to lazinesses to not research the facts, but rather pull the “oh well” vote. Based on older agings, the sanctity of the vote is put into question when people start devoiding their interest in selecting a better political representative – I say this because many senior citizens have told me they don’t care about who wins or loses because they are so old, it is not going to make a difference for them in their remaining life…..and don’t think politicians at every level, especially locally where they try to get seniors’ monies, don’t know this!


  67. Not a Native
    April 17, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    tra, you’ve got a big scary chip on your shoulder with lots of boogymen inhabiting your closet.

    The officials on the HWMA and Jim Test executive diretor aren’t provincials, they well understand what’s involved in marketing recyclables. FWIW, Test has been on the ACRC board and when on the Arcata city council voted to award ACRC a contract.

    Your comparisons are completely wrong, revealing a lack of understanding and just more kneejerking to anything where dreaded ‘outsiders’ are involved.

    This isn’t about garbage hauling at all, its about effectively selling elsewhere a product generated in HumCo. In fact, its the exact opposite of Wal Mart or Home Depot, which are about retailing locally products that are made elsewhere.

    This is more comparable to timber owners selling their logs to exporters rather than to local mills that keep local workers employed. Yep tra, its those ‘small TPZ landholders who are selling to China rather than keeping local millworkers on the job. Does that show to you that they care little for their community? And this is also comparable to the Headwaters Fund board evaluating whether to give money to Simpson at the Samoa pulp plant. Again, they decided not to do that as it wouldn’t return more to the local economy than it would cost.

    See tra, these officals and timber owners do make well considered choices, they aren’t provincial. Its you who’s standing alone as the provincial fearful of not hanging on to what little you have while being oblivious and distainful to greater opportunities in the larger world.

    Sorting recyclables isn’t a viable strategy to a stable local economy. Reducing and reusing our trash is. Here’s a example of what non-provicials can accomplish who aren’t cringing in paranoid fear of outsiders ‘taking their precious’.

  68. tra
    April 17, 2011 at 9:05 pm


    The officials on the HWMA and Jim Test executive diretor aren’t provincials…

    I never said they were. So we can leave that Straw Man in peace.

    This isn’t about garbage hauling at all, its about effectively selling elsewhere a product generated in HumCo. In fact, its the exact opposite of Wal Mart or Home Depot, which are about retailing locally products that are made elsewhere.

    Actually it’s a perfect complement to WalMart and Home Depot. Manufactured consumer products are hauled in, sold, consumed, and the waste is tossed and hauled away unsorted, all with as few jobs created here as possible, not even sorting the recycleables. Quite the consumer paradise. But as to the effects of such a model on the rest of the local economy — not so great.

    This is more comparable to timber owners selling their logs to exporters rather than to local mills that keep local workers employed. Yep tra, its those ‘small TPZ landholders who are selling to China rather than keeping local millworkers on the job.

    Well, you’re changing the subject, but O.K. I’ll bite. So now Green Diamond is a “small TPZ landholder?” Hmmmm. I guess we have different definitions of “small.” Nice try, though.

    Boogeymen … completely wrong … lack of understanding … kneejerking … dreaded ‘outsiders’ … provincial … fearful … what little you have … oblivious and distainful … cringing in paranoid fear of outsiders … (etc, etc, ad nauseum)

    I’m sure you were trying to make some kind of point in there somewhere, but the ratio of noise to signal is a bit high, don’t you think?

    I did read your link to the story about the lobster-shell golf-balls, which I had already heard about a few weeks ago. Seems like a good idea to me.

    Not sure how that really relates to our situation here, except that if we had lots of lobster shells (or unsorted recycleables or unmilled timber) I guess your preference is that we just do the resource extraction here, whereas all the value-added stuff should be done somewhere else. Is that the point you were trying to make? If so, well that’s one point of view…but I can’t say that I agree that such a strategy is good for our local economy overall.

    April 17, 2011 at 9:22 pm


    if the operation leaves the area, hopefully that 4-5 year old facility is coverted to a green manufacturing or industrial plant. Instead of sorting and separating, what about taking what is leaving to Willits and other areas, to make a product with the waste/resource. There is water near by, even sea water, for doing something innovative with the site. Of course, when the Tsunami slams over ala Japan, we would not want worse wastes damaging the environment.

    What to do, wow? Hopefully, community business leaders and private sector innovators can come-up with good thinking cap ideas.


  70. Not a Native
    April 17, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    nope tra you don’t get it, but the decision makers do. You simply can’t(or don’t want to) understand the economic difference between recyclables, a product for selling(just like lumber), and Wal Mart with products for buying(just like Piersons).

    Reread the NCJ article and understand that smaller timberland owners are among those selling(or trying to) for export. Maybe you should too, and be compenstated to get rid of that chip on your shoulder.

    You can’t seem to understand that the people in Maine are finding ways to get value from locally generated material and that items created in HumCo for disposal(recyclables) have similar potential. Fire and Light has shown one way. Biodiesel, incineration for power, and landfill methane were other ideas. More ideas can come, but only to the non-provincial mind.

  71. tra
    April 17, 2011 at 11:39 pm

    Still a lot of noise and not much signal. Can’t say I’m surprised at this point.

    But it’s interesting that you bring up Fire and Light, since they have advocated for NOT shutting down ACRC, which has provided them with sorted recycleable glass for years, directly and efficiently, straight from the sorting facility to F&L.

    Now, HWMD has assured them that they’ll still find a way to provide F&L with the sorted recyleable glass, but since it won’t be sorted here, it looks like that material will get trucked south, sorted, and then trucked back here for F & L. That may be some kind of “synergy” but it certainly isn’t an efficient or cost-effective, or ecologically sound way of doing things.

    It appears that HWMD has agreed to a special arrangement to meet F&L’s needs, in order to defuse that particular argument against shutting the Samoa plant down, but while that’s a help to this particular company, it’s not a solution to the overall problem that sorted recycleables will not be locally available to other entrepreneurs of the sort that you’re calling for.

    The reality is that the idea of more local manufacturers turning recycleable materials into value-added products is actually another argument for keeping the local sorting facility open. Local small manufacturing of products made from recyled materials is a great idea, but trucking all our recleable materials out of the area, un-sorted, then sorting them elsewhere, then trucking them back in for our own manufacturers — well that seems like a bit of a Rube Goldberg economic model, doesn’t it? It does to me.

    As far as “incineration for power,” I seriously doubt that a trash-to-energy plant is in our future, given all the pollution issues those plants create (including dioxins, by the way), not to mention the fact that they are typically only financially viable in places where landfill rates, against which they compete with tipping fees, are much higher.

    And really, they should be called gas-and-trash-to-energy-and-ash, because trash can’t burn well enough to produce any power on its own, so these incinerators are basically natural gas-fired plants that produce some energy and burn garbage in the process, reducing the mass of the garbage they burn by about 75%, and leaving about 25% as highly toxic ash, loaded with heavy metals, which then still needs to be landfilled, but now in a special kind of landfill. Another brilliant “synergy.”

  72. Not A Native
    April 18, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    tra, You don’t get it that ideas produce good jobs and prosperity. Sorting is the lowest value part of the recycling process.

    Whether incineration of low value recyclables pans out here is uncertain. But if it does it will create high value. And its certainly much better than putting those items into landfills as is happening now.

    A local sorting facility isn’t necessary for someone with an idea for reusing recyclables. Most users of recyclables don’t get their feedstock locally. Those that do typically do their own diversion, like Footprint recycling and thrift stores. In fact, biomass for HumCo power plants comes from Willits.

    Your simplistic thinking about efficiency is absolutely incorrect. Its much more efficient to supply recyclables for reuse from one large sorting plant than also operating a less efficient nearby plant. Energy needed to backhaul the small amount thats reused here is more than offset by reduced processing energy.

    And in our situation, since most recyclables go elsewhere, recyclables from Samoa already travel through Willits. Aggregating them in Willits creates efficiencies of scale to benefit both HumCo and reusers.

  73. tra
    April 18, 2011 at 11:17 pm

    Well this most recent comment has a much higher signal-to-noise ratio, and I do apprreciate that.

    Look, I think you’ve made some valid points here, such as the fact that the sorted materials from the Samoa plant get shipped through Willits anyway, and that backhauling the small amount that might be used as raw materials for manufacturing up here probably isn’t that large factor.

    But I don’t think it’s really been established that the Samoa sorting facility is particularly inefficient, and I’m still not convinced that the loss of jobs and local capacity are justified by the short-term savings.

    At any rate, you’ve given me some stuff to think about. So, thanks for that.

  74. anonymous
    May 5, 2011 at 9:36 am

    acrc was (is)depending on their political ties (i.e.: milt boyd, acrc board member) to pressure local politicians to bend the public over the barrel, like the former hourly employees who made more than minimum wage.

    they hired a salaried H.R. person just to assist m.s.to harass to the point of insanity (literally, in one case), and then fire anyone who remained! they have two people on salary who simply harass and fire hourly employees!

    they have the wife, friend, and golf partner on salary. he has to pay someone to golf with him daily! who else can afford to take every afternoon off, and golf.

    to suggest they are anything but top-heavy, and ever intended to compete on an even field is ludicrous.

    the place is mismanaged to the point where you have to wonder if it is all done intentionally. who finances 5 plus million dollars on adjustable rate bonds? who buys broken equipment for tens of thousands of dollars from friends, that is unrepairable, and of questionable legality in the state of california?

    they do not have 35 employees, and nearly a third of what remains are friends and family on salary!

    unless the management resigns in shame, i will never support acrc.

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