There have been a number of things presented in the paper about the harbor in the last few weeks. They range from the board sending our CEO, Charlie Helms, to Japan, ongoing mismanagement, and the selling of harbor property to pay the debt, to name a few. Though they make for exciting reading, and of course everyone has the right to speak their mind, it would be nice to get the facts right before speaking.
In regards to Helms and his trip to Japan, the Friends of the Harbor, a 501c3 charity, supplied the funds for his trip. It can be found in the “Friends” minutes the week before and after the trip took place. A board member of Friends wrote two grants to cover the cost of the trip.
To the charges of mismanagement, the current harbor board has been dealing with leases written 40 years ago. These leases have opt-up clauses that come due every 10 years.
The leases allow the tenant the ability to opt-up and set the terms to their advantage. The harbor has very little room to change the terms. We are in the process of taking over these leases as they come due. We are changing from the poor management of the past to a more proper management system, which secures a better financial future for the harbor. However, this takes time.
As to the selling of harbor property, it should be noted that most of the property cannot be sold. We are the trustees for the State of California and its citizens. Some of the property is too small to be privatized and therefore must be used in Harbor development plans. The rest may supply some funds but not all the funds needed to cover the debt. This would just continue the past mismanagement of the harbor. We would no longer have the funds the property would bring to the harbor for repairs or matching funds in future disasters. In addition to this, the idea of 70 years of depreciation has yet to be dealt with. The funds from our future income would begin to address this problem.
Finally, bankruptcy is not a real solution. If that occurs we lose any and all funds to manage the harbor, repair it or start putting away money for the depreciation for the preservation of the harbor facilities.
I hope this helps the public see the problems that we are dealing with at the harbor. We are attempting to change for better so that we can move forward into our future as a stable and productive entity in our community. One which our community can truly be proud of. If you have any question or comments please come to our meetings. They are usually the first and third Tuesdays of each month. We would be glad to see you as well as hear your comments.
Crescent City Harbor commisioner