Letters to the Editor
by Letters to the Editor, April 7, 2010
DEVALLING THE MLPAI
I’ll have to respond to the nervous Nellie that can’t sign his or her name to an opinion letter. It must be a close friend of DeVall for sure.
But the major problem with the letter is that it is obvious he or she hasn’t listened to or even read Hamburg’s position on issues. Throwing little insults without any facts to support the whiny letter has sure made me not want to vote for DeVall: “…self-interested, lazy and easily bored. … it is predictable that he will lose interest and quit after one year. … but I think he has just been spinning his wheels.”
No facts there…
Norm, you better get them off your team.
So I decided to go to the Hamburg website and pick out issues. ! Here they are:
- Protect our coast
- We must stop all federal oil and gas lease sale s.. We oppose attempts by the U.S. Navy to use our coast for weapons testing.
- We must protect our local crab, urchin and seaweed businesses and all intact fisheries from over-regulation.
- Protect jobs
- We must protect our local crab, urchin and seaweed businesses and all intact fisheries from over-regulation.
- We will work with Humboldt and Del Norte Counties to stop privatization efforts such as the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative (MLPAI). – a private-foundation takeover of marine life, which threatens local coastal businesses that harvest the ocean for food.
We can harness federal stimulus dollars and state funding to establish a low-interest loan program that encourages home and business owners to install solar panels, insulation, thermal windows and convert to efficient lighting for th! eir homes and commercial buildings - akin to Sonoma County’s successful project.
Meat processing and value-added meat products sold regionally
Seed production and seed banking
Imagine a local food and farming economy that is capable of feeding the people of Mendocino County. Picture grocery stores and school cafeterias with a wide selection of food products from our County, and people eager to work in an invigorated farm economy.
Protect our water
Illegal water diversions will not be tolerated. We support law enforcement and environmental health efforts to prosecute anyone diverting or polluting water.
The Board of Supervisors must look critically at the functioning of the CEO office. The Board is not receiving adequate and timely information regarding the challenges facing the County budget. County government is going to have to downsize.
Why, that sounds pretty good to me and if Hamburg will work towards these issues, this county will be better off.
Mr or Ms so-called far left really needs to understand that we all have to live together in this county and rebuild an economy that works and can feed us.
Name not withheld,
THE RACE CARD
I am writing in response to the numerous letters, news articles and internet postings related to the criminal case pending against me in Mendocino County. It's been widely discussed, debated and concluded that racism is at the heart of this case and that this issue is my biggest gripe. Although I must acknowledge that racial issues are a concern of mine, I have never made it the focal point of my injustice. It has been assumed and offered up by others that I am a black man convicted by an all-white jury in an all-white courtroom in a lily white county. Although this may in fact be true and race may have played a part in this injustice (whether substantial or slight), I have never raised this issue in court or press this issue to the public. Pulling out the race card is not my doing and I don't want my argument of innocence to be solely based on a claim of racial bias.
I want my innocence to be based on the fact that I am indeed innocent. My innocence was not fought for or proven in court because I was appointed an attorney out of the DAs office — oh, I mean the public defender's office (laugh out loud) — who obviously does not understand that her job is to defend her clients. And the record shows that this person did absolutely nothing for me outside of showing up to court dates. So I want it to be known that incompetence and ineffective assistance of counsel are my biggest gripes. This is much more of a constitutional issue than it is a race issue. But it's true I would be a fool to believe that racism did not have a place in the outcome of this case. So for the first time here in this letter I will officially address the concern of a potential racial bias in this case and give the reader an honest look through my eyes to show what this all must look like to me. Everything I will disclose in this letter is true and can be proven by court records.
For the record, the Mendocino County Sheriff's detectives turned this case into a racial issue the moment they contacted every hotel in the town of Fort Bragg and requested that these establishments turn over all (if any) information they may have about any black people who may have stayed in their hotels on the days of July 9-11, 2008. I thought that was pretty bizarre in its own right. But what I found even more disturbing was the numerous phone calls the sheriff's office was actually entertaining when the locals would call in to report “sightings” of “suspicious” looking black people who dared show their face at local businesses such as banks, gas stations, lounges, and bars. It was as if blacks were like some wild animal or something who were displaced from their habitat and running around loose in their town and were endangering the locals with their presence. “Find out how it got here. What's it doing here. And get it out!”
And my arrest which derived from this type of investigated atmosphere was an immediate concern to me, my family and my friends. But I was still willing to set these issues aside and push his case to trial because there is no doubt I'm innocent of these charges (even though it became further evident and quite clear that I had been thrust into a racist environment as soon as I was booked into the Mendocino County Jail. That's a whole other story in itself).
But let me tell you there are some things that are just too blatant to ignore no matter how hard you try.
The Mendocino County courtroom (hmmm)— Being a black man charged in this county with an alleged marijuana home invasion robbery is equivalent to the worst crime you can think of. It's like being accused of cannibalism or something. There is no consideration for a man's innocence. From day one it's been “you are black. You are not from here. It's our marijuana. You did it!” And that's been the opinion of the local public (who I'm supposed to trust as being my peers) from the start. And we now begin with the recipe for disaster:
One black man with a criminal history; one white lesbian public defender who dresses up as a man in court and refuses to fight for much less communicate with her client; one white lesbian DA who needs every conviction thrown her way to enhance her political ambition in her run for the District Attorney of Santa Rosa, one white judge known as “the hang ’em judge,” 14 of 15 white jury members, four white alleged victims, three white prosecution witnesses, three white Sheriff’s detectives, two white transportation officers, one white bailiff, one white court reporter, one white court clerk, and an all-white spectating audience. What you have is a snowball’s chance in hell that the black man will walk out of that courtroom a free man. That's over 30 whites who directly participated in this trial, not to mention the many others who participated outside the courtroom against one black: the defendant.
I can't begin to explain what it felt like walking into that courtroom environment every day. That's like a hooded Klansman jumping into a Black Panther rally. You know you have a life-threatening situation on your hands. That's automatic! And that's how I felt every day in there. And there is no one who can convince me that the circumstances are fair and that I've been totally judged by a jury of my peers. (I must add that approximately 90 people were summoned for jury duty in this case. 85% of those people were white. Not one was black. Not one. Many of them were relieved of their duty because they admitted on their questionnaires that they either were biased to the charges or hated blacks in general. I am left to wonder how many others had similar feelings who did not disclose themselves in court for the sake of exposure or embarrassment.)
Just imagine if the tables were turned. Could you imagine the backlash and uproar that would be created if a white man was detained in a biased county on biased charges and stood trial in a courtroom in which the judge was black, both attorneys were black (and gay), the victims were black, the jury was all black the police detectives were black, the witnesses were black and everyone else in the courtroom was black including the audience and reporting media? And he was found guilty?
What?! In America? I can see the protesters now. The headlines. CNN analysts would rant about him not receiving a jury of his peers and all kinds of questions of ethics and constitutional issues. That white fella could have killed Jesus himself but that would be a mere afterthought. White folks would surround the White House demanding Obama change the laws and procedures of the criminal justice system. Right this second or else. (You know it would be Obama’s fault.)
We minorities are supposed to go on and take these types of circumstances with the idea that it’s all fair and on the up and up and race will not play a role whatsoever in the criminal justice system. Please! Do not fool yourself. Racism is part of the history of America and believe me it is alive and well in today's society. You only need to look at the Morocco bomb situation for proof. Racism is in your face every day.
So what is it that I consider fair in my situation? What is it that I want? A new trial for one. And how about a competent lawyer for two, who not only understands the law but understand the basic duties of a defense attorney. One who is willing to take the time to review and consider all available means of defense and willing to thoroughly investigate, prove and present the alibis. Hey, and it would be nice to confer with this attorney every now and then now and again. That would be cool.
Third, I would like to be judged by a true jury of my peers. It's only fair that every jury pool should be compiled of mixed races and genders. I should definitely have a couple of black faces on my jury. Along with some Latino faces too, or any other races. For evident reasons, no black man (or any other minority) should be held to answer on criminal charges in front of an all-white jury. Just like a white man should not be judged by an all-black jury. This is not a jury comprised of his peers.
I want to reiterate that I did not push this issue of racism. It started with questionable investigative tactics and ended with an all-white jury convicting me because one of the alleged victims claimed that he was able to identify me by “standard Negroid features.” (Wow!) Despite the fact that I was described previously as being very, very dark skinned, 230-260 pounds, and look like “Barry Bonds.” Well, I'm a light-skinned African-American, 190-200 pounds and I don't look nothing like Barry Bonds. And other descriptions were even more erroneous than that.
Look, let me divulge some personal information about myself. I pride myself on being an intelligent and experienced individual. I've been to prison and have had the opportunity to interact with some very sharp folks as well as some stupid men and I've learned as much as possible from that experience. I've owned three legal businesses in my lifetime and I tasted success from two of these operations. At the time of my arrest in 2008 (and at the time of this incident in which I'm charged) I had four bank accounts with thousands of dollars in all of them, more cash stored outside of these banking institutions, a beautiful office, a nice apartment, customized diamond jewelry, a 2007 CLS Mercedes 500, 2006 BMW 745 LI, a 2005 Dodge Magnum, and two functioning businesses. For anyone to believe, based on my status and experience, that I would break into someone's home almost 300 miles away from my residence to steal two gold rings from some stranger and cut off the tops of his marijuana plants that couldn't have been any more than a pound of weed and to do so without wearing a mask or disguise is a fool!
Now get this, I'm supposed to be this genius or “mastermind” (let the DA tell it) behind this long-distance robbery that was supposedly planned for months but the perps never brought in the tape or rope to tie up their targets. It was stated that the perps asked the victims for something to tie them up with. Nor did they bring a mask to conceal the “mastermind’s” identity. Not only that, but the “mastermind” rented a hotel in the area under his own name and, get this, brought a tracking device to track his own robbery of all things. All for two gold rings and a pound or so of weed? Get real. If you believe that, you are boo-boo the fool himself. Anybody who knows me or ever met me knows that this is some bullshit. And of this all-white jury had not used my trial as an opportunity to catch some extra ZZZs and drunk their coffee every morning and stayed awake and interested long enough to listen to all the facts of this case (I kid you not, many of the jurors slept extensively every day throughout the trial. This was noted on the record.) and used just a little bit of their common sense (although my attorney still would have needed to be a presence), I would not be writing this letter right now.
This will be my last and only time speaking out about the racism and bias related to this case. I am very uncomfortable with this subject and I don't want the focus of my argument to shift from the real issue here. And that is that Ms. Linda Thompson provided me with ineffective assistance of counsel that was so prejudicial that my constitutional rights to competent counsel and a fair trial have been severely violated. The court should be made to protect my constitutional rights and a new trial should be granted without undue delay. It is not only fair, but it's the law
ROBERTS: STEALTH CANDIDATE
What Wendy won't say Colin
Wendy Roberts is clear about one thing: she has no intention of being clear about who recruited and who support her campaign to break the liberal stranglehold on the Fifth Supervisorial District. In her letter confessing a recent fundraiser was hosted by Jared Carter (one of the many names she dare not speak) she obliquely listed the attendees as if to show what a well-rounded bunch they were.
Lets put a few names to the guest list. The four former supervisors? How about John Mayfield Jr., Charlie Barra, Mike Delbar and Jim Wattenburger? The first two are part of the self-appointed Board of Directors of the Employers Council, by far the most retrograde organization in the county. The other two disgraced themselves as corporate sellouts more solicitous of the welfare of multinational corporate land speculators than of the people who elected them to office. Wattenburger saw the writing on the wall and quit in disgrace while Delbar was trounced by his erstwhile Farm Bureau buddy, Carre Brown. Other guests were Dick Selzer and Ross liberty, also of the Employers Council and Ukiah Valley area libertarian icons. In fact, it was hard to say who was not from the Employers Council, a bunch of wealthy right-wingers who think Rush Limbaugh is a closet liberal.
The Wendy Roberts campaign was, in fact, incubated and hatched in the Employers Council conservative candidate nursery. Barbera Reed, current president of the Employers Council, is Wendy Roberts best friend and her leading political mentor. Over the years Barbera has identified all the significant players and issues for Wendy. As grand jury teammates, Wendy and Barbara ignored the financial and fiscal peccadilloes of Delbar and Wattenburger, but went all out to “get” Smith and Colfax for their petty travel thievery. Wendy has learned from Barbera that it is only a small-minded band of selfish coastal residents who prevent the MaCallum houseboys from getting their way and an even smaller number of Albion hippies with no respect for private property rights who are preventing Carol Smith from building estate homes on the Albion headlands.
Wendy is also supported by Margie Handley of the Employers Council, Willits branch, and Paul and Barbara Clark of the Employers Council, Fort Bragg branch. Whatever else Wendy Roberts may be, or claim to be, she is clearly the anointed candidate for the most reactionary and right-wing interests in the county. With Wendy in power they are confident they will once again have their way with land-use decisions. Wendy's only chance was to identify herself clearly to the right while hoping to masquerade as a progressive Democrat to coast-lib. She is doing her best, but when you are wearing the Employers Council brand, don't expect coast-lib to take you seriously.
I think the AVA is right about Masten and de Vall probably being about the same on the issues. But I disagree on Hamburg. The only local issue he has shown any interest in is marijuana. He has a fairly well-deserved reputation for being self-interested, lazy and easily bored. Even if elected, it is predictable that he will lose interest and quit after one year. And don't think that de Vall is behind at all. Yes, Hamburg has been running for a year, but I think he has just been spinning his wheels, trying to convince people that he really cares about the Fifth District or county politics. de Vall never went away and has stayed engaged on issues and has retained solid name recognition. Like many ex-politicos, he has probably grown in stature over the years. The far left knows he will be a champion for the issues they care about. They are not sure of Hamburg.
Name Withheld, Fifth District
Listen, my children, and you shall hear a story so bizarre that it couldn't have been made up even by all Charles Manson's followers working together for a century.
In Berkeley there was a newspaper, the Berkeley Daily Planet, operated as a family business by the O'Malley's. It was a weekly and still exists online but no longer in print.
It has, much like the Anderson Valley Advertiser, always dedicated much of its space to printing letters, mainly from local Berkeley people.
In the last several years increasingly that space has been taken up by people writing about Palestine. The majority are in support of Palestine, but also quite a number of letters defended zionist genocide. As might be expected in a city (Berkeley) that is something like 20% Jewish. All the organized Jewish groups, to my knowledge,are firmly in support of Israeli genocide, as is true in the rest of the United States.
Of course in a university town there are also a fair number of anti-zionist Jews and thse people dominated the discussion in the Daily Planet, along with a few non-Jews occasionally weighing in.
Enter one John Gertz. By whatever means, Gertz has a media company that own the rights to the Zorro character. How a Jewish person has come to own the rights to a Californio legend, created by an Irish American about 100 years ago, would be a book-length project and a very worthy one. This reflects a broad pattern of Jewish ownership of media icons in general, of course, especially those that became well known through the 'seventh art' of film and related media.
Gertz began by writing letters to theDaily Planet, but moved on to organizing a campaign of intimidation against the Planet's advertisers, when the latter received visits from people in some murky way associated with Gertz, threatening a boycott of their businesses because of the Daily Planet’s publishing of letters that Gertz and his friends did not like.
Gertz denies the people visiting the Planet's advertisers were directly associated with him.
Early in March the Daily Planet stopped publication in print. The usual problems of the print media were cited as the main reason, as well as the embezzlement of a large sum by the person in charge of the Daily Planet's payroll. The Daily Planet doesn't consider Gertz's campaign, which was supplemented by a blog written by Gertz devoted solely to attacks on the Daily Planet, as the major cause of the paper's demise in print, but certainly local zionists including Gertz are crowing about this “victory.” The March 24 edition of the Express airs the whole story including self-congratulatory statements from Gertz and his friends including one Spitzer and one Sinkinson.
The March 24 edition of the Express, an East Bay free weekly, devotes most of their letters section to a discussion of this history. The publication a couple of weeks earlier of a narrative by one of the Daily Planet's writers describing the Gertz episode spurred the wave of letters. Quite clearly much of what Gertz and the other zionists write consists of outright lies. Obviously Gertz was counting on the Express, which is a purely commercial operation, not allowing response from the Daily Planet's supporters.
Fortunately, Gertz was wrong about that, and the Express to its credit publishes a long rebutal exposing Gertz's lies and trickery.
Well worth a read. The Daily Planet is available online and possibly the Express as well.
What I'd like to point out is the silence from “progressives” around Berkeley. Not a word have I seen from MECA (Middle East Children’s Alliance), for example, although this organization is headquartered in Berkeley and certainly anything they want to say would pretty much automatically have been printed by the Daily Planet and/or the Express, given MECA’s ties to the dominant liberal Democratic city government of Berkeley.
This is why I can't accept the good faith of organizations like MECA and ANSWER. They pontificate about Palestine occasionally, but when the issue is brought home to their own bailiwick by the unmasked Zorro, John Gertz, we hear not a word of defense of the Berkeley Daily Planet and the O'Malley's. Clearly these “pwogs” won't stand up to their zionist brethren, not even verbally, not even in a limited free speech defense context.
If one thinks it wiser to judge people by their actions rather than their words, clearly this whole episode justifies no confidence in our “pwogs” in general, and their Berkeley incarnations, MECA and ANSWER, in particular.
DON’T BYPASS THIS!
Willits Bypass Alert!
If you care about Willits’ reputation as a “green” community;
If you care about the rivers and wetlands of Little Lake Valley;
If you care about sustaining local business in Willits;
If you think building a massive four-lane freeway is a wasteful way to get the small volume of “through traffic” around Willits and back on to Highway 101 just north of Willits;
If you want to see an appropriately scaled project that moves “through trucks” off Main Street but doesn’t kill the town or the 89 acres of threatened habitat, you still have an opportunity to voice your concerns and halt this tragic boondoggle! Please help.
Caltrans has applied to the Army Corps of Engineers for a permit to destroy wetlands in order to build the Willits Bypass. The Army Corps is required by law to solicit public comments before granting such a permit to Caltrans. The Army Corps is also required to hold a public hearing in Willits if enough people request one. In you comments, you may cite the issues mentioned above, and/or include your own concerns. State specifically why you want a public hearing, such as the fact that public participation ended in 2007 and subsequent decisions about the design and the “mitigations” have been made without public knowledge. Please send your comments, and a request for a public hearing in Willits, to the address below. Comments must be received by April 16th, 2010. Be sure to name the applicant (Caltrans) and include the application number. Thank you!!!!! To view the Army Corps’ Notice of the application and a description of the project, go to www.spn.usace.army.mil/regulatory/currpn.htm
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
San Francisco District, Regulatory Division
1455 Market Street
San Francisco. Ca. 94103-1398
Re: Caltrans Willits Bypass Application, Number 1991-19470N
NO ON 14
Proposition 14 will make our broken two-party political system even worse.
Proponents of Proposition 14 claim that the “Top two primary” would relieve the partisanship and legislative dysfunction that characterize our political system. I could not disagree more. Rather than fixing the situation, Proposition 14 would permanently cement in place the appallingly broken two-party system that has been on full display in Washington this year.
Proposition 14 would effectively eliminate the already limited electoral options for many American voters, preventing innovative ideas and solutions from entering the political debate. Similar laws passed in Washington and Louisiana have not improved the partisan nature of elections or elected officials.
Proposition 14 would deny independent and third party candidates and politicians in this country a chance to be heard while further polarizing our districts and limiting voter choice — all at increased costs to tax payers and candidates. Consider a Democrat living in a district that is 60% Republican; it is likely that almost every general election will feature the two Republican candidates who got the highest votes in the “primary.” This person would effectively be disenfranchised, facing a choice of voting for a candidate s/he strongly opposes or not voting at all. The 25% of Californians who are neither Democrats nor Republicans may never see an independent or third party candidate on the general ballot again.
Is Proposition 14 the best our democracy can hope for? Not when there are real, viable solutions to our electoral problems that are easy to implement, and would increase voter participation and help revitalize our democracy:
1) Instant runoff voting (IRV) and proportional representation — these systems, which allow voters to rank candidates rather than just choosing one, would eliminate costly and poorly attended primaries altogether, solve the partisanship issue by allowing all candidates to compete in an open playing field, prevent “spoiling,” and ensure that the winner garners a majority vote.
2) Same day registration and paid time off on Election Day — ensure all Americans have access to vote.
3) Public financing of campaigns — ensures all candidates have an equal voice in the debate, not just the billionaires, and eliminates corporate domination of our elections.
In a year when voters are angry and disgusted enough to look past the bickering Democrats and Republicans for effective, common sense solutions, it’s not surprising that the two major parties would try to prevent the election of independent and third party candidates while ignoring genuine solutions that would make our elections more democratic. Californians defeated a similar “top two” proposition in 2004. Let’s hope voters will see past this partisan ploy, and vote no on Proposition 14 in June.
Ann Menasche, San Diego Green Party
Candidate for California Secretary of State.
MEDICAL MARIJUANA INC.
Greetings KZYX/Z News Director Paul Hanson,
There may or may not be a major news story here about Mendocino local Bruce Perlowin and his affiliated company Medical Marijuana Inc. I have not yet investigated the situation but there seems to be plenty of links for some fast research and possible rebuttal.
Perhaps John Sakowicz who may have some involvement, could be forwarded this for his Truth About Money KZYX/Z radio show or frequent daily evening community news reporting.
Richard Johnson has also participated as a speaker, in some of the weekend workshop seminar confabs put on by MMI in Ukiah this past year, and perhaps could provide background info to debunk the rumors.
And as a side note, I've also enclosed stale dated letters published today March 30, 2010 in the Ukiah Daily Journa,l from Richard Johnson on Prop 215 Marijuana and myself on microwave ovens health risk. Also included are the forwarded email allegations and links to Bruce Perlowin and Medical Marijuana Inc.
Again, I have not yet investigated the situation, so I offer this as an opportunity for breaking news research or speculative spin doctoring.
DISAPPOINTED IN MENDOCINO
Regarding proposed consolidation of the Clerk of the Board with the Office of the Chief Executive Officer:
After hearing what sounded like a sensible, cost-saving proposal to consolidate the COB function with the CEO's Office, I find it extremely disappointing to hear widespread rumors that this is little more than a ruse to justify a salary increase for the COB.
I sincerely hope that this is not the case. While I understand that you appreciate the services that the COB renders to you, this is not justification for inflating her already high salary at the same time that other employees are experiencing layoffs and salary reductions and the public is faced with draconian service cutbacks. Apart from the current impact on the budget, any such increase will also result in an increased pension fund obligation for many years to come. Possibly most important is the extremely demoralizing effect of such favoritism on other county employees. We all deserve better.
It has occurred to me that the COB may be trading off her current longevity pay for moving to a Deputy CEO position with a higher pay scale. If, in fact, this is the case and her pay and benefits will remain as they are, I urge you to make this fact public so that the matter can be put to rest.
Thank you for your consideration.
I have just noticed that no one is running against Mr. Allman for the Sheriffs position, so for the cause of a true democracy, I am going to volunteer, to run against him, I am sure he won’t mind, due to the fact that he is not speaking to me as of now. I was a little out of hand with my drinking last year and, well, let’s say I did not present myself well in the public eye. You should see my booking photo from Lake County. I look like a cross between Johnny Rotten and Don King, my hair dresser was Vidal Baboon. (“If you don't look good, you don't look good.” — Vidal Baboon.) I wasn't the prettiest girl (I mean boy) at the prom! Nonetheless it is the only photo I have so it will have to be my campaign facebook photo.
Now I am doing this as a favor for the community and for Mr. Alman, He doesn't have to thank me and probably will not since we are not speaking.
Why am I the better choice? First of all I have spent more time at the county jail than he ever will. I know the place inside out, right down to the plumbing. All the deputies know me on a first name basis, and I have kinda got the booking routine down pat!
What changes would I make? First of all I would declare martial law over my whole jurisdiction, and not allow anyone to leave the county without a pass/ Then build a Costco just about 15 miles south of Hopland.
Next I like the Major's idea of tiger teams looking after the county Supervisors, but I would have ninja teams, and have them show up at one of those closed session meetings they have. I am pretty sure we would be able to cut some cost this way.
Finally by the California penal code, Sheriffs deputies are called peace officers. With this discovery I would require them to take off their badges and wear peace signs. Don't worry, boys. We will still have your name printed below the peace sign.
I would challenge Mr. Allman to a debate. But, again, since we are not speaking, I am afraid it will be just a little bit uneventful, if not boring. This is a good thing because we can save money on not having interpreters.
I am entering the race a little late. So what you are going to have to do is scratch out Mr. Allman’s name and print mine. Do the same for Mark Scaramella. And since I was not able to pay the filing fees, this can be taken out of the inmate welfare fund to compensate for the loss. I am sure that the inmates will not mind paying an extra dollar or two for a candy bar or a packet of top ramen. After all this is for the cause of democracy!
PS. If I missed something and Mr. Allman does have an opponent: never mind. I will see you next week!
SINGLE-PAYER OR BANKRUPTCY
New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli recently completed an audit of the city of Newburgh, New York. What he discovered set off budgetary alarms — a $6.3 million deficit. “Newburgh's financial problems are severe,” said DiNapoli. “This is a very serious budget imbalance that could have severe consequences for the city if it goes unaddressed.” According to the Comptroller, inexperienced city officials who offered unrealizable estimates of the city’s tax revenues are the source of the problem. However, a review of Newburgh’s finances reveals something far more enlightening.
The city’s 2008 budget report identified one main source of rising costs — healthcare. Benefits for public employees made up 26% of the budget in part because the cost of healthcare has skyrocketed since 2000 when it stood at a little more than $2 million. In 2008, this rose to, you guessed it, $6.23 million. An increase of 215% and almost exactly the same as the expected budget shortfall for this fiscal year.
Of course, Newburgh could not just eliminate all its healthcare costs. However, the financial crisis makes the city a perfect case study for the need for a single-payer healthcare system. As the activist group Healthcare-Now emphasized in its “Win-Win” campaign, a federally administered health program would provide significant fiscal relief to state and local governments.
Instead of footing the entire bill for healthcare coverage, cities such as Newburgh would only have to pay the federal payroll tax for their employees. Healthcare-Now describes the result as “big money savings in a time of fiscal crisis for governments.”
Politicians in the New York State Senate were thinking the same way when, in June 2009, they passed a resolution urging the state’s Congressional representatives to support HR 676, the single-payer bill. The State Senate resolution estimated the passage of such reform legislation at the Federal level would yield $10 billion in savings to New York residents, businesses and governmental bodies.
Sadly, there will be no fiscal relief for Newburgh. New York Democrats in the US Congress overwhelmingly supported the watered-down Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This bill promises to do little to reduce the skyrocketing costs of healthcare and may, in fact, multiply the burden on state governments by increasing the number of people eligible for Medicaid.
Sharp budget cuts are now the likely outcome of Newburgh’s budget crisis. The cuts will be difficult to swallow in a city with a high amount of poverty and crime rates double that of New York City. It didn’t have to be this way. A single-payer system of healthcare would have eased the budgetary pain while providing healthcare to everyone. Instead, the private insurance companies will grow fat by bankrupting local governments.
WHERE’S THE HOPE?
The Obama administration is smoking their own dope. They keep telling us about the economic recovery. There has not been any recovery; there isn't any recovery; there isn't going to be any recovery. Think about it. The people who are still employed are saving money, not spending it. The debt to China keeps getting larger and larger. The manufacturing base, historically our bread and butter, has shrunk to midget size, having been outsourced and downsized greatly. The imports continue to be much greater then the exports, which runs up the debt even more. The service industries have expanded, but services are not exportable, and those that are are outsourced to India and Manila. The level of confidence in the American financial system is at an all-time low. The dollar is on the brink of no longer being the international standard for international finance. A continuing expansion of the GNP is not going to happen; the Ponzi scheme called our economy has gone bust.
So where is the ray of light? It isn't there. The present youth generation has been dubbed "slackers", lacking in motivation and ambition. This is a reaction to all of the above. The boomers created the mess and the youth do not trust them to guide them to the promised land. They have burdened the young with a financial deficit that staggers the mind. Upward mobility is long gone for all but a few. The youth, who traditionally are said to be our future at every graduation exercise, have their heads in the sand of electronics; kids between 8 and 18 spend 8 hours a day on some form of electronic activity, and if they multi-task, it's 11 hours a day. They are not spending it learning; they are spending it chating with friends or strangers, or watching television to be entertained, or listening to insipid music. This is the future to whom the older folks are going to turn the country over?
It is not going to get getter. Living in hope has become counter-productive. The wise person will prepare for bad times, not hope for a return of good times. Get into an industry that is somewhat recession proof; save as much money as you can. Scale down your expectations, your wants and desires, and simplify your life. Live as lightly on the planet as you can. Neitzche said God is dead. No. He'[s been drugged.
Far 'n Away Farm, Virginia
THE GRAND SLOTHS
If you want to meet some professionally incompetent local politicos, meet the grand sloths in charge of Mendocino Counties state parks. These people couldn't run a drive-through window of a Burger King if they collectively gave their best efforts but are being allowed to run our public treasures into the ground. They spend their days having “blame-storming” sessions where they cook up schemes and scams to rip off the workers, deny park access to the non-wine sipping public and maintain their bloated salaried lifestyles our tax dollars are paying for. Sounds like one for the state auditor to me.
“You don't need to see his identification. These aren't the Druids you're looking for.”
FAIRNESS FOR BLACKWELL
My name is Darvel Blackwell. At the moment I'm in Mendocino County Jail as you know. If possible I would like to read any back issues that have my name in them and any new issues that are yet to come. If I need to pay for these articles please send me an ordering form.
Today is March 31, 2010. I believe a paper from your company is coming out today. Every time I read your paper I find more respect for your company because I noticed you don't guess or make as many assumptions as other town papers. I've also seen your company admit to being incorrect about information printed in your columns. I respect that.
When I read these other local papers they edit out the parts that will paint any kind of picture of my innocence.
I saw your reporter in court but I didn't see an article in last week's paper. That lets me know that you don't intend to jump to conclusions before hearing all of the testimony.
I need to end this letter before I become tempted to start talking about the details of this case.
Can I send you transcripts and official interviews from this case?
Man! I just hope I get an intelligent jury.
FIRE WISE, FIRE SAFE.
Remember the Lightning Complex fire? Do you feel guilty about what you promised yourself about getting ready for the next one? Is your property trimmed up already? Are the papers and other valuables accessible for quick departure? Do you have a plan for your animals? Is your road, entrance, and property clearly marked for fire and emergency access?
Save Saturday, May 1st for help with answers and plans. The Mendocino Fire Safe Council has held two day-long workshops about these topics in Ukiah. This year it is our turn here in Anderson Valley. The workshop will be held at the Fairgrounds Apple Hall, 10am-4pm on Saturday, May 1. NO CHARGE. You will not regret attending.
Our Fire Chief, Colin Wilson, will have presentations on road naming and signage as well as water tanks and supply possibilities. See some great slides of big fires that show what could happen and what our great volunteer fire departments and CalFire helped prevent.
See a live outdoor burn on housing materials and get some understanding about fire resistant building materials. Learn about embers and how they relate to home construction or renovation. Lean about the danger of embers. Get a real understanding of defensible space. Check out vendors and resources that could help you and your neighbors. Remember that all that green out there turns brown pretty quickly. The brand new 2010 edition of Living With Wildfire will be available without charge. This is the large size pamphlet that so many of you have found useful. We hope to also have a new brochure entitled, “Planting weed wise and fire safe in Inland Mendocino County” which we are producing with the help of PG&E.
CalFire has a great theme this year: Take Responsibility. Be Fire Wise and Fire Safe. The few hours spent at this workshop could save your life and the lives of those you love as well as your property. Be responsible. See you there. Lunch, at low cost, available.
Beverly Dutra, Board Member
Fire Safe Council
Just who are the banks working for?
Does it seem right to you that a state's ability to stay afloat should be the stuff of secretive betting pools? That's just what's happening. While states like California struggle to pay their bills, traders are gambling, by buying credit default swaps, on the fate of our biggest state, California, and that's just half the story.
The very same banks that sell and profit off the swaps, at the same time underwrite and price the state's assets — their municipal bonds. That means that even as JP Morgan Chase, Barclays, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup deal out the bonds that the state issues to raise cash, they're making money, separately, on the risks involved. They get their fees coming and going.
It's the same double-dip banking-and-betting scenario that's accused of bringing Lehman Brothers down. What's being done? In Europe, after Greece came dangerously close to sucking itself down the debt-swap sinkhole, EU leaders called for stiff regulations, and they're doing it now; reining in the derivatives market and demanding far greater transparency.
New laws proposed here, however, hardly put a dent in the way derivatives are handled. And anyway, the federal government's primary solution is to keep on selling bonds to help desperate states raise money. Debts keep on rising, debt-buyers keep on profiting and state services keep on shrinking.
California's state treasurer, Bill Lockyer, finally wrote to the big banks last week, asking for clarification. California has a right to know — and so do we, as the insurer of last resort: Just who are the banks working for?
In case you didn't notice, taxpayers are the all-round losers here. It's we who are taking on everyone's risk — the states' as well as the banks' — and it's our services that keep getting cut, regardless! Isn't citizenship lovely?
Laura Flanders, host of GRITtv, broadcast weekdays on satellite TV (Dish Network Ch. 9415 Free Speech TV) on cable, public television and online at GRITv.org.
Memo Of The Week
To: All County Employees
Re: Public Records Act Request by the Ukiah Daily Journal
As some of you may have known, the Ukiah Daily Journal, as well as other organizations and individuals, have requested the names and exact salaries of all County employees in the past. It has been the County’s determination that recent case law requires the County to provide this information. Therefore, no later than April 12, 2010, we will provide to the Ukiah Daily Journal documents responsive to their request as set forth below.
“The salaries of all County employees, as of March 30, 2010, by name including all overtime paid or other compensation (car allowances, stipends) in 2009 for each of these employees.”
Very truly yours,
Douglas L. Losak, Chief Deputy County Counsel
for Jeannine B. Nadel, County Counsel
It is most discouraging to watch the the sorry excuse we have for a governor and the ultra right wing Republican legislators in a cruel and heartless way deliberately destroy the safety net our state has built over the years for the poor, elderly, disabled, mentally ill and disenfranchised members of our society. The cut in state funding has made shambles of county mental and medical services, slashes in MediCal will keep the working poor from getting care for a life threating illness or decent dental care, home support for the elderly is under attack, our school system ranks near the bottom among the states in spending per student, young people can not get into college, and colleges are cutting classes. Welfare where 40% of the recipents are children is an obvious target for the Republicans’ slash and burn approach to the budget. After all “those people” shouldn't have children.
In Sacramento due to cuts in state funding our transit system is eliminating all night service and one-third of the bus lines. In many cases the working poor, disabled, and elderly who do not have cars will not be able to get to work, stores, or church. But don't worry about the governor who has his Hummers and a CHP driver, or the legislators with their free automobiles and gas cards. The right-wing Republican like to wear their religiousity on their sleeves like a badge but in reality they are one hour a week Christians who do not have even a vague notion about the teachings of Jesus. the Republican Party really should change their name to The Nihilistic Party.