Letters (Feb. 22, 2017)

by AVA News Service, February 22, 2017

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THE HALO EFFECT & SENATOR GINA!

Editor,

I am a farmer in Potter Valley, and I’m running for the Ukiah Natural Foods Co-op board of directors. Our certified organic farm grows grass hay, fresh produce under the name Strong Roots, and vegetable seed as Open Circle Seeds. I made the decision to run along with two other candidates, Halle Brady and Julia Dakin, who also have valuable experience in our local food economy. The three of us shared our ideas and wrote our platform statements in cooperation, so that we each expressed different aspects of the perspective we offer to bring to the Co-op board. Our bottom line: we want to help the Co-op become even more effective as a catalyst in growing our local food economy.

Both Halle and Julia fully believed they were Co-op members, Halle for more than thirty years. This was confirmed every time they shopped at the Co-op, when the cashier asked if they were members and tallied their purchases to their member accounts. But when Halle and Julia submitted their applications to run for the Board, they were told otherwise -- that because their husbands’ names appeared first on their accounts, only their husbands were members of the Co-op. How many Co-op “members” are in this same boat, and would find, if they tried to participate more fully in the Co-op’s governance, that their contributions would be rebuffed? This restrictive interpretation of membership runs counter to the Co-op’s values and goals. Not to mention sounds like something out of the 1950s, not the 21st century. I am certain the Co-op board and management do not intend to discriminate -- but discrimination is nevertheless the result of this interpretation of the membership regulations. If elected to the Board, this is another issue I will address.

Since it is unclear at this point whether the candidacies of Halle Brady or Julia Dakin will be allowed to proceed, I’d like to tell you what we all want to offer to Co-op members. Here is a combination of the points presented in each of our three candidate statements, points we all agreed to. If I have to run without them, this is what I bring. If they are allowed to run, this is what we bring:

First of all, we deeply appreciate what the Ukiah Natural Foods Co-op has achieved for our community, and will work to preserve and expand what has been accomplished. The Co-op has been well run for many years. It’s financially solid, with considerable accumulated reserves. It is a hub of healthy commerce and social connectivity. And, in these uncertain times, with the need for community connection greater than ever, we believe the Co-op can further leverage its strengths and expand its influence in our community to the greater benefit of us all. No business institution is better positioned to be a continuing force for positive transformation in the greater Ukiah area than the Ukiah Natural Foods Co-op.

A study done several years ago found that Mendocino County residents spent $137 million each year on food. Less than 2% of that food was produced in our county. Bringing that percentage up to just 15% would add $20 million to our local economy! One of the Co-op’s strategic goals is to be a driving force in our local food economy. A recent Co-op member survey identified “more local goods” as a #1 priority for members. As farmers and advocates for a local food economy, we understand the challenges local farmers face and see opportunities for the Co-op to play a pivotal role in growing our region’s local food economy. If elected we will work to realize the Co-op’s goals to strengthen customer connections with local food producers and foster the success of local farms. Here are some of the ways we see to accomplish these goals:

-- implement an educational campaign to highlight the many advantages of locally produced food

-- expand marketing strategies to clearly identify local goods

-- advocate for a stronger local purchasing preference policy

-- expand kitchen facilities as needed to provide more fresh prepared meal options, thereby gaining another outlet for locally produced goods

-- look for additional ways to make the Co-op’s local products more accessible to low income community members

-- work to bring the principles of “B” or Benefit Corporations into the business practices of the Co-op, so that improving the physical and social environment becomes explicitly as important as fiscal profits, creating a triple bottom line.

We understand that current Co-op board members also identify with these aims -- after all, they created the current strategic goals that emphasize encouraging our local food economy. What we want to bring to the table is fresh energy toward these goals informed by our perspectives as local food producers. May we all three be given a chance!

You can show your support for Halle and Julia’s candidacies by signing this Change.org petition:

https://www.change.org/p/stop-two-local-farmers-from-being-disqualified-for-the-2017-ukiah-co-op-board-election?recruiter=6564760&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink

For even more impact, come to the next Co-op Board of Directors meeting: February 20th at 6pm in the annex (same parking lot as the Co-op, at the south end of the social services building). Thank you for your support.

Gina Covina

Potter Valley

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SCHUMER

Editor,

It should be a matter of principle that Democrats resist the Trump Administration and Republican Congress at every turn. Else, why elect them in the first place? Call it being a loyal opposition. One can certainly say no and do what one can to the actions of this administration. But no, Schumer has indicated that he will cooperate, though he alludes to a strategy of “calling the shots” when to oppose. In the 1930s we saw the results of appeasement. A world war was the result. The axis powers were autocratic and violently dealt with anyone standing in their way. So, what is different when one hears Trump revile opponents, lie, dissemble, and apply empty rhetoric to rile up his supporters?

If the Democrats want to deserve being re-elected and elected, they need to show spine. We need a strong discourse that points to the flaws and limits to administration actions. Senator McConnell made it plain in 2009 that he and his colleagues in the Senate would oppose Obama at every turn. In many ways, he succeeded. There was no real outcry from Democrats that it was dirty pool or that it was no way to govern in a democracy. Why not respond with a vigorous opposition? Trump will still get his way on many things. Not one of his unqualified or marginally qualified cabinet picks was denied confirmation. Where was the united outcry over the selection of Michael Flynn, arguably a Russophile as National Security Adviser? Where is the united opposition to draconian proposals on the economy, trade, foreign relations, Russian meddling with our elections, denial of due process for citizens and undocumented immigrants? Where is the united outcry over demeaning, even demonizing, the free press? This last weekend, in a show-off moment in front of a fawning crowd, Trump paraded national security materials on a banquet table, some marked secret or confidential. He loves to show off and seldom does anyone seem able to curb his rhetoric or self-promoting actions.

No, Senator Schumer, you are not acting like a responsible, loyal opposition. You are looking very much like a Quizzling. The 2018 elections are not all that far off. While you are seen handshaking Trump, reportedly a friend of yours from WAY back in New York circles, the world is watching. The American electorate is watching. It is time you drew a line in the sand and stand by it.

Franklin Graham

Navarro

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VILE BODIES

Editor,

Italian author Umberto Eco was a man who understood the influences and results of fascism. He wrote that fascism was a not a concrete political system, but a collection of behaviors that, taken together, forged something incomprehensible. "Fascism was a fuzzy totalitarianism," he wrote. "A collage of different philosophical and political ideas, a beehive of contradictions." In 1995 Eco made a visionary prediction: "There is in our future a TV or internet populism, in which the emotional response of a selected group of citizens can be presented and accepted as the Voice of the People. It appears that this is where we are now. The president's fascism is new. it's a reality-TV kind of fascism. Typically American, designed to entertain and fed by the internet. The president is its prophet. One need not look any further that to see the rapid rise of xenophobia in our country, how it has occurred, who benefits most from it, how it is legitimized and how it has completely polarized its citizens.

Dennis Kostcki

San Anselmo

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FREE’ SPEECH, FEAR & THE PRIMITIVE HUMAN BRAIN

Editor,

The intrinsic dangers of social hierarchy.

It is illegal to shout “fire” in a crowded theater. The idea of fire creates intense fear deep in the primitive human brain known as the Limbic System, or emotional center. The “Fight or Flight” reaction is activated causing a stampede, resulting in injury and death. Similarly “Hate Speech” can activate the emotional centers of the primitive human brain. “Hate speech” can be understood to be as intrinsically dangerous as shouting “Fire” in a crowded theater.

Neuroscience studies have shown that both in brain activity and behavior, people place higher importance on social status than money. When concerned about social status the brain’s emotional center, in the limbic system is most active. Brain activity in the emotional center is also strongly correlated with a person’s commitment to social status, for example, strong belief in racial superiority and economic inequalities.

In the US, social status and race are often intertwined. African Americans are often assumed to be less worthy and White individuals are often assumed to be more worthy. This greater status attached to white skin is learned at a young age and continually reinforced by US culture. Furthermore, research has shown that those who believe in white supremacy and the negative stereotypes of blacks, view a rise in the social status of blacks as threatening, activating their limbic–emotional center. Those who are committed to racist ideas of social superiority can also feel threatened during times of social unrest and instability, again activating emotional arousal in their primitive brain. This is particularly important in today’s neo-fascist politics tied to white supremacy.

Many countries have passed laws against “Hate Speech” because they recognize that such speech incites violence or prejudicial actions: Canada, France, Germany, England, Australia and many others. One needs only to look at the hate speech of the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan or the German Nazi party to see this obvious reality.

Ask yourself why we cannot shout fire in a crowded theater but we can shout out hate speech anywhere? Millions of working people of all colors and nationalities are seeing corporations move their jobs oversees or out of existence through automation. Vast numbers of people are insecure about their lives and the future for their children. Hate, fear and anger are a primitive brain response which clouds the mind’s ability to see how much more we are alike than different.

Dr. Nayvin Gordon

Oakland

(Dr. Nayvin Gordon is a Family Physician who has written many articles on Health and Politics. He can be reached at gordonnayvin@yahoo.com.)

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MAHOMETANS AND FREEDOM OF RELIGION IN THE UNITED STATES

Dear Editor:

As we look at the Islamophobia in our society today we need to recognize Muslims have been in this country since its beginning. It should be known that in 1776, when the population was estimated at 4 million which included about 500,000 slaves 150,000 were Muslims (at that time they were called Mahometans). The Declaration of Independence did not apply to slaves since they were chattel. Of these slaves that were Muslims some were known to have fought in the Revolutionary War. The first country to recognize the United States as a sovereign nation was the Sultanate of Morocco.

Readers of the AVA who are familiar with the history of the writing of the Constitution know the framers who supported freedom of religion prevailed over those who would have had Christianity as the state approved religion.

Washington, Jefferson, Adams and Franklin among others were certainly thinking about Mahometans when they framed the Religion clause of the Constitution.

As a sidebar, I would note the descendants of these Muslims have been here for many generations before President Trump's family arrived in the US.

In peace and love,

Jim Updegraff

Sacramento

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WE’LL SEE

Editor,

I think the Dakota pipeline is the turning point already for Trump’s early administration, his hundred days. The Army respectfully halted the line for redirection from Standing Rock’s water supply, but our fearless leader has wielded his new toy power as Commander-in-Chief to reverse it, for the sake of his own investment and against a nationally popular native American resitance to it. For me the conduct of the President at this point will indicate (since there has been some doubt, for example Joe Biden says “nobody knows what the hell he’s going to do”), whther he’s going to listen to anyone else much in the years ahead. In his address he talked about “every man, woman and child across this land,” but the health of an entire community of men, women and children (and considering his appointments they really represent the whole country) is threatened by his action, along with the workers on the line, where the accident/death rate is seven times over the national average for that project. Somebody is not taking care of that job.

If Trump intends, seriously, to be a great president, he will have to show more than the irresponsibility and cronyism he exhibits so far, a typical dismissal of typical campaign promises. I don’t think he’s interested, but now we’ll see.

Scott Croghan

Mendocino

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INGRATES, TAKE 2

Dear Editor,

"A small group of ingrates are about to sue Mendocino County on a bogus claim essentially arguing that they shouldn't be taxed but claiming the tax initiative statutes that apply to everyone else don't apply to them." — Editor, AVA

As one of the "ingrates," I take issue with everything you said to wrongly characterize our challenge to the county.

First, last week you refused to print my article that explained our thinking and what led up to our decision to challenge the county's unconstitutional claim that the Cannabis Tax Act (AI) passed.

May I ask that you reconsider and print it now, perhaps on the website, so that readers can have more information to judge whether your biased characterization is correct? It was a very unfair act of censorship unworthy of AVA, which generally engages in debate rather than censoring points of view you disagree with.

Second, your incorrect comments (AVA 2-8-17) about our lawsuit against the county's pretense that AI passed biased the reader off the bat. You distorted the meaning of our challenge with the comment, "A small group of ingrates are...essentially arguing that they shouldn't be taxed but claiming the tax initiative statutes that apply to everyone else don't apply to them."

We are arguing no such thing. Our lawsuit has nothing to do with paying taxes. By now, that is an accepted part of the 'new era', which we are a part of, for better and for worse.

We are stepping up to say something wrong is happening here. We're asking the Court: Is Cannabis Tax Act a special tax, requiring a super-majority of 66 2/3% for voter approval, or a general tax requiring a bare majority? We need a court ruling.

If it's a special tax, it failed. We should all be concerned about this and get it right the first time. It will eventually go to the ballot in virtually every city and county in the state with similar tax guidelines as ones determined here

California Constitution Article XIIIC outlines the distinction between specific and general funding purposes and defines "special tax" as "any tax imposed for specific purposes which is placed into a general fund." That nails it on AI.

We believe it is clear that AI is a special tax containing specific funding purposes, as outlined in the Voter Handbook by author and Supervisor John McCowen, Sup Gjerde, as well as County Counsel: road repairs, mental health services, fire and emergency medical services, marijuana enforcement (criminal/illegal activity).

In the words of Sup McCowen: "A YES vote on AJ will tell the BOS you want a majority of proceeds of the 'Marijuana Tax' to be spent for marijuana enforcement, mental health services, county road repair, fire and emergency medical services."

It is clear in the ballot arguments that AI and AJ are paired by design with intent to use AJ as the funding mechanism for AI, with specifics listed. Four supervisors who submitting separate ballot arguments coupled them as intended.

We are not against cannabis businesses being taxed. We are against the County claiming the Cannabis Tax Act passed when it actually failed. AI got 63.62% of the vote, roughly 3% short of the needed 66 2/3% for a special tax to pass. The County's claim that it is a general tax and only needs a majority is belied by the measure's author in his own words in the most authoritative source, the 2016 Mendocino County Voter Handbook.

There is a genuine controversy here -- Whether the Cannabis Tax Act is a special tax or a general tax will determine whether it passed or not. So we're asking the Court to determine which it is.

The Complaint for Declaratory Relief asks the Court for a Declaration on definitions based on California Constitutional principles. If Injunctive Relief is also needed, that can be handled in a separate complaint. Lawrence Rosen has agreed to represent the plaintiffs, as needed, including on appeal.

Plaintiffs: Michael Johnson, Pebbles Trippet, Teri Johnson, Paula Deeter, Ron Edwards, Ralf Laguna, Noel Manners

Defendant: Mendocino County

Attorney for Plaintiffs: Lawrence Rosen lrosen@rosenlaw.com 707-478-8932

–Pebbles Trippet, co-plaintiff, Johnson v Mendocino County, pebblestrippet@gmail.com

Ed reply: I did not refuse to print your letter. We posted it, and it appears here a week late because you missed the print deadline, Pebs. Deadlines! Punctuality! Structure! Order! That's our world, not laundry in the cat box, the cats in the refrigerator, kids in their pj's at 3pm! The print deadline is Monday noon. Wake up calls avail on a case-by-case basis.

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