– Yesterday the Federal Railroad Administration gave the beleaguered North Coast Railroad Authority the OK to start running freight trains between Sonoma and Marin counties, a 62-mile stretch of track. Service to Mendocino County is still several years and tens of millions of dollars down the line, and the board itself admits that Humboldt County service is nothing more than a hazy dream.

Which brings us to question. It’s been a couple of months since Eureka City Councilmember Linda Atkins stepped down from one of Humboldt County’s two seats on the NCRA board. The Board of Supervisors will appoint her replacement sometime in the next couple of weeks. The LoCO hears that at least three candidates have stepped forward to be considered: Arcata City Councilmember Michael Winkler, former NCRA executive director and longtime Arcata-based government apparatchik Dan Hauser and fisheries biologist Bill Kier.

The politics here are interesting. Hauser is solidly in the pro-NCRA camp, having helped write the legislation that founded the authority in the first place. Kier is solidly on record as a firebrand NCRA critic. Winkler is a scientist whose particular views on the choo-choo are unknown, but whose city is haggling with the railroad authority to install some trail along the moribund tracks in and around town.

In the natural state of things, Kier would appeal to the board’s left wing and Hauser to its right. But there’s a twist: Kier publicly endorsed Supervisor Ryan Sundberg in the last election, and was a big factor in convincing some leftie constituents that it was OK to vote for the McKinleyville native. On the other hand, the outspoken and relentless Kier may be a little too much for Supervisors Clendenen and/or Smith to swallow.

So how will the board vote? You tell me. 

– Will the HSU Bookstore be leased to corporate giant Barnes & Noble? The Lumberjack floated the possibility a few months ago; yesterday, a university board met to move the matter forward.

LoCO Gold Star Circle Citizen Reporter Travis Turner was at the meeting. His SMS reports were somewhat inconclusive, but it appears that the University Center is looking at either Barnes & Noble or another company, and may pause a month to seek other bidders. See also: KMUD News, below.

– Superquick T-S roundup: Last year’s police shooting of Robert Garth on Highway 299 was legal, the DA decides; ghastly home invasion robbery in Willow Creek ends with one man dead; state releases local school rankings (Hi, Jessica!).

– On the KMUD News: Willow Creek murder (2:00). Fire in Alderpoint (8:50). At the behest of Homeland Security, Mendo County conducts a gang sweep (10:00). HSU Bookstore (14:30). Board of Supes honor retiring Planning Commissioner Bruce Emad (17:40).

KMUD News, May 5