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Mendocino County Today: May 20, 2013

RECOMMENDED VIEWING: THE ICEMAN co-starring Anderson Valley's very own, Winona Ryder, raised deep in the hills of west Philo.

icemanChildren under the age of 50, especially Pollyanna's kids, won't care much for this one, which is based on the true story of a legendary hitman for organized crime named Richard “The Polack” Kuklinski. When he isn't knocking off other criminals, Kuklinski, a devoted family man, is at his suburban home with his wife and two daughters. Winona Ryder, “Nonie” as she was known as a child, plays Kuklinski's unsuspecting wife. She thinks her husband is a currency trader. His two girls attend a Catholic school. The only laugh comes when the hitman, seeing his daughters off to school, tells them, “Don't take any crap from the nuns.” Michael Shannon is excellent as the Iceman.


THIEVES after the copper wiring, cut the phone and DSL lines out of the Sea Ranch-Timber Cove area of the South Coast almost two weeks ago (Friday, May 10th). Ham radio operators picked up the slack while the lines were under repair. DSL lines belonging to SuddenLink have several times been vandalized in Humboldt County, not for copper wiring but, it seems, in retaliation for some unstated grievance.


SUPERVISOR HAMBURG last Tuesday told his Board colleagues about a Friday, May 17 meeting in Fort Bragg to discuss internet broadband service in the county. “The focus will be broadband planning in the city of Fort Bragg. And of course Fort Bragg is on that fiber-optic so-called Route 1 Corridor project which I've mentioned several times before. That's the one that goes from Branscomb to Westport and down to Bodega Bay and back over to Petaluma, which is actually part of that Golden Bear Broadband application which is currently before the PUC. We are getting a lot of pushback from the big telecoms — Verizon, Frontier, AT&T, Comcast. Essentially, there is a lot of maneuvering going on in Sacramento around broadband. Included in that is this bill by Senator Padilla, AB-740, which this board has supported, but now the big telecoms are coming down against AB-740. … Basically the big telecoms don't want money to be allocated to organizations like ours who are trying to bring broadband to the rural communities; they don't want the competition. They are very happy to not serve these areas until they're damn well ready to serve them. They are calling our Golden Bear project — they say we are getting into areas where private operators or themselves as private corporations should be able to operate. The only hole in that argument is that they are not serving these areas. Unless you are on a major core highway like Highway 5 or Highway 101 you do not have service in Northern California and that situation exists in Mendocino County. And it exists in all these 16 or 17 counties that are part of the Golden Bear Broadband network. So it's kind of a battle royal that's going on in Sacramento right now over AB-740 and also over our application to the CPUC. We are lobbying hard. … The telecom lobbyists in Sacramento are trying to squelch our efforts. But we have some good political support on our side and we are fighting the battle.”

BUT LATER IN THE WEEK, news out of Sacramento reported that funding for Padilla’s broadband infrastructure bill (via the California Public Utillities Commission) had been cut by $100 million, and the bill was amended to substantially restrict the definition of “underserved” to include language that would limit funding to areas where no big telecom company had applied for a permit which isn’t very many areas in California.


KNOW YOUR NEIGHBOR DAY? From the Agenda for the May 21, 2013, Board of Supervisors meeting: “Summary Of Request: As a participant in Leadership Class XX, Potter Valley resident Freeda Burnstad proposes that the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors proclaim a ‘Know Your Neighbor Day’ on June 15th 2013. Ms. Burnstad notes in her initiative that in this rural decentralized county we often associate with our geographically spread peer groups more than the people who live closest to our residence. In times of emergency though, we may not be able to reach our closest friends to receive or provide help. It would behoove communities striving for sustainability to come together in small regionally based groups of neighbors to support each other. These gatherings provide a forum for neighbors to discuss common interests and issues. By passing the Proclamation, County government can support local residences to increase friendship, safety and economic collaboration. Ms. Burnstad will plan a gathering in her own neighborhood of Pine Avenue in Potter Valley and encourage other communities to do the same by suggesting a model. This template will be disseminated through distribution of a tri-fold brochure and by spreading information regarding the Board of Supervisors proclamation through local media outlets. Together we make Mendocino County the wonderful and unique place that it is; recognized for its friendly and sustainability minded local communities. Let's celebrate and reinforce these qualities on ‘Know Your Neighbor Day,’ June 15th 2013.”

MS. BURNSTEAD has a point, of course, as far as it goes. But not all neighbors are as “sustainability-minded” as she may think. Knock on the wrong neighbor’s door and you just might be sustaining the nabe's pitbull. We agree that Mendocino County can be “tight-knit” but tight-knit in the sense of affinity groups, not in the old fashioned sense of community. Looking around Anderson Valley what you find is like-minded people associating solely with each other. Communities are now so fractured that they're not communities but collections of affinity groups plus lots of isolated individuals who happen to share the same geographical area. Also, “mutual economic support” is likely only among small groups of like-minded individuals drawn from the same social class. The only cross-class occasions in the Anderson Valley, for instance, occur at annual crab feeds and a few other popular sports or community events after which everyone goes their separate ways. If, however, if your worldview tends to the apocalyptic, and you assume our vandalized and looted economy will continue to implode, we may soon all be compelled out of necessity into old fashioned community.


ALSO ON TUESDAY’S AGENDA is a dog license amnesty proposal — for one (1) day: “In October 2012, the Board approved a 60-day dog license amnesty program, which resulted in the licensing of approximately 900 dogs whose license had expired or who had never been licensed. In an effort to encourage dog owners who may have failed to license their pet, or may have failed to renew a previously issued license before it expired, the Mendocino County HHSA Animal Care Services is asking permission to offer a one-day dog license amnesty program. The amnesty program would occur on Saturday, June 15, in conjunction with a scheduled low-cost rabies vaccination clinic. State law requires owners obtain a license for all dogs, and the license can only be issued if the dog is currently vaccinated for the rabies virus. This amnesty opportunity will give dog owners an opportunity to establish a current license for their pet without facing any penalties, if they do not have outstanding citations.”



HUMBOLDT COUNTY is reducing their search efforts for triple-murder suspect Shane Miller according to a recent Associated Press report. Humboldt County Sheriff's Lt. Wayne Hanson told the Eureka Times-Standard on Friday that with no new leads or information to report, the other dozen outside agencies that had joined the manhunt for Shane Miller have returned to their jurisdictions. Authorities have been searching for Miller in the Petrolia area of Humboldt County after his wife and two daughters were discovered slain on May 7 at their home in Shasta County, about 200 miles away. Deputies will still continue road patrols for the next several days, but the command post in Petrolia has been shut down. Humboldt County Sheriff Mike Downey said at a community meeting Wednesday that Miller has most likely killed himself or left the area.



Who Pays & Who Benefits Over a Lifetime?

A new study by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), Lifetime Distributional Effects of Publicly Financed Health Care in Canada, looks at who pays for and who uses publicly financed health care and how this affects the distribution of income in the country. Understanding these issues is important when discussing how best to address health care financing and income inequality in Canada.

About 70% of Canadian health care services are publicly financed, and taxation is the main revenue- generating mechanism used to pay for these services. All Canadian taxpayers contribute financially, regardless of their use of the health care system. This approach ensures universal access to most health care services, regardless of income and without financial hardship.

Taxation is not the only way to raise money for health care. Numerous jurisdictions around the world use alternative revenue-generating mechanisms such as user fees, medical savings plans and different insurance models. In Canada, debates are ongoing regarding the merits of various health care financing options, prompted by concerns related to the affordability and sustainability of the health system; these concerns include the aging population, changing illness patterns and technological innovations. These debates have also included discussions of fairness and equity related to the potential impacts of these options on the financial burden of health service costs and health care accessibility.1

There is another aspect of health care financing in Canada that is not often examined: who pays for and who uses health care and the resulting effect on the distribution of income. In this study, we look at what happens to the distribution of income across five income groups when tax contributions and the value of benefits received from publicly financed health services are taken into account, with a focus on physician and hospital services and some drug costs. This involves estimating the health care payments made through taxes for each group, as well as the value of health care benefits received. Group 1 has the lowest income, group 5 the highest. Each income group represents 20% of the population.

In the Canadian health care system, there will be people who pay more than the value of the services they receive, while others will use services that cost more than the contributions they make. In other words, the essence of our health system involves transfers from the healthy to the sick. When taxation is progressive, such that those with higher incomes pay a relatively higher portion of their income in taxes than those with lower incomes, there is the potential for health system financing to bring about a transfer from the affluent to the less affluent. Those with higher incomes contribute more—both absolutely and relatively—than those with lower incomes, while those with greater need use more than those who are healthier.

There are other important factors to consider when looking at who pays for and who uses health care. First, people tend to pay more in taxes when they are middle-aged and to use more health care services when they are older. Second, although lower-income groups have generally poorer health, they also have shorter average life expectancies than higher-income groups. This means that they live for a shorter amount of time in the periods of life when healthcare costs are higher and tax payments are lower. As a result, we get a more complete picture of who pays for and who uses health care when we measure over a lifetime.

Key Findings

Over a lifetime, tax payments made to finance healthcare are modestly progressive in that the most affluent pay relatively more of their income (about $8700 per year on average), although not by a substantive amount. For example, the highest income group in the study contributed 8% of their total income toward publicly financed healthcare, while the lowest income group paid close to 6%.

Only in the highest-income group were tax payments much higher than the cost of health care received. Payments to healthcare made by income groups 3 and 4 (middle and upper middle) were very close to the actual healthcare costs for these groups.

Healthcare costs for the highest-income group were 3% of average income for that group. Health care costs for the lowest-income group were 24% of average income for the group. Without access to publicly funded healthcare, individuals in this group could face hardship when attempting to pay for their healthcare costs.

Before taking into consideration the value of publicly funded healthcare, average income in the highest-income group was 5.1 times the income of the lowest-income group. After adding the value of health costs, the gap was reduced to 4.3 times. This represents a 16% reduction in this measure of income inequality.


All Canadian taxpayers contribute to publicly financed healthcare, regardless of their use of the system. Publicly funded health care services are available to all on the basis of need, regardless of ability to pay. When we look at the relationship over a lifetime, only the most affluent (the top 20%) contribute significantly more to health care than they receive. For other income groups, the value received from publicly funded healthcare is approximately the same as or more than the value of taxes paid to fund those services. The redistributive effect of publicly funded healthcare in Canada is a 16% reduction in the income gap between the highest- and lowest-income groups. Without the publicly financed health system, the lowest-income Canadians would be at risk of going without needed healthcare or of being impoverished by paying for it. (Courtesy, the Canadian Institute for Health Information.)



by Mary Moore

The concept for the Squeaky Wheels movement was born from the experience of just one person, in his painful attempt to find his way through the maze of contradictions and dead ends — -already difficult even before the recent sequester cuts. Barry is an almost 62 year old man now in an advanced stage of Parkinson's disease which he may have contracted back in the early '80s when he went to Nicaragua to help pick cotton and was exposed to paraquot. A social justice activist for over 30 years, Barry now resides in an "assisted care" facility in Petaluma, CA. in a small shared room within a very depressing place that is slowly driving him insane.

He communicates with difficulty through a computer as his voice no longer works even though his mind is sharp as ever and he is imprisoned in a body that no longer functions. Many friends from his early activist struggles organized to visit him on a regular basis to get him out of this crushing environment but at best it's only a temporary fix. With the help of his circle of friends he jumped through all the bureaucratic hoops to apply for alternative housing and get a section 8 voucher from HUD so he could move to a more independent living situation. He had interviewed and found someone to assist him and was ready to finally escape this soul killing situation when he was suddenly informed that he did not have the Section 8 voucher that he had been told he had.

At that point we called the office of our local congressperson since HUD is a federal program. We were then told that because it is administered by the county we needed to call our local supervisor. It was through David Rabbit's office that a meeting was set up with James Hackett, head of the Sonoma County Housing Authority. This man, obviously frustrated by his job, broke the news (way too long to recount here) that it could be up to five years for Barry to work his way up the list which had already been cut back even before the recent sequester cuts demolished it even more. After filling out all the forms, answering all the questions, this long journey ended with him right where he'd started...on a very long waiting list for a section 8 voucher.

How many other stories are out there like Barry's? How many others will die before they ever get to the end of this list, many of them already homeless or about to be?? How many confined to wheelchairs, blind, disabled and in dire need are being affected daily and no one is noticing or caring?? But it seems that for SOME of our population the sequester is flexible! In fact, when regular air travelers (including Congressmen heading home for vacation) were temporarily inconvenienced due to the layoffs of some air controllers, it took only a week to get a fix through Congress for them!! The fact that this will not surprise anyone paying attention does not make it right!! It is clearly wrong.. And thus the Squeaky Wheel movement will be born, like every other civil rights movement was born — from the outrage that finally boils over when the voiceless finally organize itself and a critical mass movement happens.

You do not need to be in a wheelchair to be a Squeaky Wheel but we will put these folks up front as a visual message to a public weary of wars abroad and ready to take on the War at Home....finally because Barry is not alone in his search for some basic justice. In fact he represents all of us... disabled, aging, hungry, homeless, mentally ill, desperately in need of help from our government. We hope to speak truth to power this July with a march to Bohemian Grove led by those who were taking the brunt even before the Sequester. We need to give a voice to the voiceless. Imagine the image of wheelchairs, walkers, canes, lined up at the gates to the annual retreat of the ruling elite on Saturday, July 20, 2013.

bohogrovePlease come to a meeting next Saturday, May 25 at 1PM at the Peace and Justice Center in Santa Rosa (467 Sebastopol Rd) to see if we can pull this off in a two month time frame. If enough people show up to cover all the needed bases we will go ahead. If you can gather the names & contact info for those already in the disability community please share that with us. Please spread the word to all your Squeaky Wheel friends and put May 25 on your calendar. You are needed to make this happen.

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