Capdiamont\’s Weblog

Local Journalist Hank Sims to be let go tomorrow
Sunday 9 Nov 2008, 09:52
Filed under: Railroad | Tags: ,

Sources say due to both the economy, and a growing rift between publisher Judy Hudgson and Editor Hank Sims due to Sims obvious bias against the railroad, he will be let go tomorrow. It is feared that with the nation ever increasingly needing the railroads, his views are out of touch, and will offend potential advertisers.

Update: It was a joke



What California needs is High Speed Rail, not freight service thru the Eel River Canyon, which would start falling apart as soon as is constructed.

Comment by Anonymous

Tomarrow? Does that mean taday?

Comment by Bob

Well, to make it clear, we don’t hold anything against the folks who have been remonstrating with us over the railroad issue. We’re startled at the gigantic fraud of the whole enterprise, and we’re stunned at the militancy of those who have so allied themselves with it so fervently, and we’re flabbergasted that after, lo, these many years, people still talk about it as if it hadn’t been dead and deteriorating for a decade. But earlier this month, after the back-to-back meetings of the railroad authority and the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Conservation and Recreation District, we came to understand that these things are not the fault of any one person or cabal of people, but of the strange bureaucratic inertia that has enveloped the railroad ever since the public took over operation of it in the early ’90s.

This is an atmosphere deadening to the senses, in which the impulse to swindle anyone within reach is blandly accepted as a dull, everyday event. At issue in the twin meetings earlier this month was an out-of-the-blue proposal to go after $19 million in state funds earmarked for traffic congestion relief. The railroad authority and the Bay District dropped down a proposal to use such funds to rebuild the northern Humboldt section of the line, from the Avenue of the Giants around the bay to Samoa.

The failures of the proposal were many, and were pointed out by skeptical board members and commenters from the public. The proposal itself contained absolutely no data to suggest that there was any traffic between Samoa and Avenue of the Giants to relieve. Likewise, it didn’t even attempt to sketch out a rationale by which the rechristened railroad would relieve such congestion, even if there were any to relieve. The private operator contracted to run trains for the NCRA, John Williams of NWP Inc., said in the grant application that he could ship 6,000 cars per year from Avenue of the Giants to Humboldt Bay, but he refused to identify any potential customers. Likewise, he said that he was sure to get state-required matching funds for the project by applying for a grant from the federal government, even though he had not yet applied for such funds.

Despite these many failings, all of which were pointed out clearly to both the railroad authority and the Bay District during their public meetings, both agencies voted to press ahead, and some of the members of the board displayed a certain degree of astonishment at the idea that anyone would question that decision. The two railroad board members representing Marin dissented, as did Mike Wilson and Pat Higgins on the Bay District, but mostly it was accepted as a matter of course. If there’s money out there, more than one board member argued, why not try to snatch it?

This, in a nutshell, is the logic that by itself has kept the railroad authority operational even though it runs no trains. For some reason, it only applies there. Flip it for a moment. Imagine that Humboldt County Supervisor John Woolley, who sits on the board of the railroad authority, had received a request for a large grant of Humboldt County funds. The request contained no details whatsoever about what county problem the potential grantee hopes to solve, and no details about how the potential grantee proposes to go about solving it. Imagine, indeed, that Woolley knows from personal experience no such problem exists. What does he do in that instance? He immediately throws the proposal in the trash, and from then on he views the applicant with a great deal of suspicion and mistrust and perhaps even muses about possible legal action to keep such a threat to the public coffers at bay.

But when he puts on his railroad hat, somehow everything is different. He considers it his duty to grab whatever dollars for the railroad possible, based on whatever false pretenses can be invented. And this attitude boils down to the general railfan public as well, the core public base for the railroad that imagines it as a sort of all-purpose panacea for everything that ails us. At the meeting, Marcus Brown of the Timber Heritage Association stood up and said that the plan to snag traffic congestion relief funds was the first hopeful sign he had seen in a long time. And now, naturally, people were out there questioning it.

“There are people out there who want to kill the railroad,” Brown said, and the sadness and indignation rose in his voice and poured out his eyes. “They just want to kill the railroad!”

You might ask: How can you kill something that doesn’t exist? The unavoidable answer is that Brown wasn’t really talking about an actual, physical railroad. He was talking about the railroad in his imagination, the railroad of his dreams. It conjures up pleasant images of hard-working men in striped blue caps and suspenders, making an honest living with their hands in a just and pleasant world. That railroad — that ephemeral, wispy steam engine receding into the distance — is all too easily destroyed, alas. If you want to preserve it, you’ve got to try to limit your contact with the world as it exists.

Comment by Anonymous

Thank you for such a thoughtful comment on the NCRA. You nailed it anon.

Comment by Mike Buettner

That would be a Town Dandy piece, would it not, Anon?

More in Sadness
By Hank Sims

Comment by Rose

Is this rumor confirmed anywhere, Cap? Knowing Judy’s respect for Hank, I cannot imagine that this is even conceivable.

Comment by Rose

Hank Sims Says:
November 10, 2008 at 2:25 pm
Capdiamont is suffering a serious bout of wishful thinking.

Or else he just PUNKED you, à la Lipizzaner.

HAHAHAHA! Well played, Larry!

Cheers all. Indie, you should probably tell the whole story sometime if you’re going to keep on in this vein.

Comment by Mike Buettner

Hank should go because he’s a lazy thinker, with middlebrow ideas, no clear reasoning, and an inflated sense of self-importance. But not because of his particular opinions about the railroad or any other specific issue.

Comment by Anonymous

So, Larry and Indie – what’s the inside story? 🙂

Comment by Rose

False. This is some lazy reporting Capdiamont. You could have cleared up this rumor with a single phone call.

Comment by sean

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