- Ted Galletti
- Old Acquaintances
- Frost Protection FAQ
- Winter Solstice
- AVHC Healing
- Marshall's Plea
- FB Robbery
- Catch of the Day
- Green Day
- Lobbyist Dellums
- Movie Threats
- NCRA Dispute
- Cuba Normalization
- Bubble Economy
- The Storm
- Oil Trains
- Stream Restoration
- Winning Buds
- Pump Stickers
A READER WRITES: “Former 5th Dist. Supervisor Ted Galletti was ‘laid to rest’ December 11, 2014. No notice of a funeral or memorial was posted on the Elk postoffice door. Ted served on the Board of Supervisors with Jim Eddie, 3rd District, Al Barbero, 1st, Augie Avila, and John Cimilino, 4th, and Ernie Banker, 2nd, for two terms between 1971 and 1978. They were years of turmoil with issues including building codes, proposed offshore oil development, illegal subdivisions, and the General Plan lawsuit of 1978 which brought the County planning process to an abrupt stop when the County lost the suit to Warner Chabot who represented himself before Judge John Golden of Lake County, after all Mendocino County Superior Court judges recused themselves. At the state and federal level the then-Board was confronted with the impacts of Proposition 20 requiring coastal protection, 1972, Z'Berg-Nejedly Forest Practices Act, 1973, HR 200 which protected ocean resources at the federal level, and the Endangered Species Act.”
TED GALLETTI, a former 5th District supervisor, was modest to the end, so modest he seems to have requested no notice of his passing. I remember well the effort to unseat him on the false grounds that he was not only “pro-development,” Galletti wanted to help an unnamed “developer” erect condos on Cameron Road and desired to build seaside villas on his own oceanside ranch south of Elk. Basically, the anti-Galletti forces were the up-from-hippie and conservative liberal blocs which have dominated the 5th District ever since. Back then, there was a great split between so-called hippies and so-called rednecks; Galletti, in living fact a tolerant, gentlemanly fellow, was vilified as hostile to the area's newcomers, which he was not. But that false perception became the political reality and Norman deVall became supervisor, a pretty good supervisor judged by the woeful performances in office of his three successors. I always enjoyed seeing Ted at the Point Arena-Boonville basketball games, and I'm sorry to see him go.
TUESDAY, I SPED out to Fort Bragg to visit two old acquaintances, one at the Moura senior complex just north of Noyo Harbor, the other confined to Sherwood Oaks. My friend at the Moura complex had died the previous day, and my friend at Sherwood had been rendered insensible by calming medications. I don't think he recognized me. But Sherwood Oaks is much improved these days. Back in the day it was, well, it was the kind of convalescent facility one comes away from vowing suicide before commitment. But that was the old Sherwood. The one I saw Monday was quite pleasant, certainly pleasant by the standards of the industry. The staff I encountered was smart and lively and genuinely attentive. Still and all, we all get to that age where mortality is much with us.
RUSSIAN RIVER FROST PROTECTION FAQs
State Water Board Issues guidelines and samples for avoiding fish strandings
THE ANDERSON VALLEY HEALTH CENTER REGAINING ITSELF:
Gene Herr Reports:
Here is the remaining piece of information for tonight's meeting. This is the recommendation from the Concerned Citizen's Committee (CCC) for discussion by the board. The Concerned Citizen's Committee is going through transformations as it organizes, and as the board re-groups. Very few were able to brave the storm and changing location for Monday's meeting. Many of the originals have less interest in active participation now that the critical personnel issues appear to be solved: Mark Apfel reinstated as Chief Medical Officer (don't forget that his title is sometimes "acting chief medical officer); David Gorchoff abruptly resigning as Chief Medical Officer (no reason given); Logan McGhan returned to active duty after his weird termination by Shannon Spiller; who in turn "is no longer employed" by the AVHC; Cindy Arbanovela and Jessica McIninch back on duty; and active recruitment for a new executive director undertaken by a special search committee headed by Bill Sterling.
It is likely that both the board and the CCC will be evolving in the next quarter. Possibly on converging lines. Remember how close we came to losing the AVHC through acceptance of a board policy of secret operations, and deference to outside management dictates.
Think about which problems are still critical in your opinion, and what needs to be done to get corrective action. Use that as a starting point for making change, through either a CCC or similar channel, or a newly designed board, and keep everyone informed as to success or failure and/or reason for either.
My personal agenda is:
#1 Complete, publicly reported financial data including annual budget with annotated line items from the chart of accounts, monthly budget to actual reports, last year's audit report, and monthly reports from the Chief Financial Officer; and
#2. Board adoption of a policy of conformance with California's open meeting and open records acts.
Cheers, Gene Herr
TERRELL JAMES MARSHALL Jr. of Sacramento has entered a plea of not-guilty in the death of 25-year-old Kayla Grace Chesser of Willits on Halloween night. Marshall is charged with murder with a special allegation of murder committed while being engaged in rape. The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office said in November that Chesser, of Willits, died as a result of strangulation, and that a sexual assault "was apparent." Marshall, who has at least one prior conviction for sexual assault, was arrested in mid-November after being discharged from a Sonoma County hospital on suspicion of murder, rape and sodomy. Marshall apparently drove his truck off a cliff on the Covelo-Willits road in an apparent suicide attempt the day after Chesser was found dead. Marshall's preliminary hearing is set for 9:30 a.m. Feb. 5th.
THE FORT BRAGG POLICE DEPARTMENT is looking for two suspects connected to an armed robbery of the Mendocino Vintage store on Dec. 10. The suspects were identified by store owners to police as a man and woman, both of whom are still at-large, police said, and should be considered armed and dangerous. The man was described as a mid-20s, Hispanic or light skinned African American, 5 feet 10 inches tall, approximately 200 pounds, wearing a blue stocking cap, light blue hooded sweatshirt and blue jeans. The woman was described as being in her mid-20s, Hispanic, with long dark hair, a thin build, wearing a black stocking cap, black coat, gray undershirt and dark colored pants. At 1:53 p.m. Dec. 10, the FBPD was dispatched to the store on North Franklin Street on a report of a robbery that had just occurred. After officers arrived on the scene, they were told by the business owner that a man and woman had entered the business and robbed the owner at gunpoint. Both suspects then ran north on Franklin Street, police said. With help from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office, FBPD canvassed the area but were unable to locate the suspects. There were no vehicles reported in the incident. FBPD officers are still actively investigating this incident and request that any information regarding this matter be forwarded to Officer O'Neal at 961-2800 ext. 167. Anonymous information can be left on the tip line at 961-3049.
CATCH OF THE DAY, Dec 17, 2014
JAMES AVANTS, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.
SALVADOR CANUTO, Stockton/Talmage. DUI.
DENISE GARCIA, Albion. DUI-Drugs & Alcohol.
PHILIP LOPEZ, Ukiah. County parole violation.
BOBBY MAKI, Willits. Possession of controlled substance, community supervision violation.
STACY MARTINEZ, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
JULIO NAJERA, Ukiah. Possession of meth for sale, prohibited person with firearm, parole violation.
CARMALINDA PIKE, Ukiah. Possession of controlled substance, probation revocation.
THE LOCAL ANGLE: The Green Day band has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The band was assembled from local teenagers by Lawrence Livermore of deep Spy Rock Road, Laytonville, and from there the rest is music history.
FORMER OAKLAND MAYOR and Congressman, Ron Dellums, now works as a lobbyist. Among the “progressive” Dellums' most lucrative clients? WalMart.
IN OTHER NEWS from the Home of the Brave, several of the country's largest movie chains have pulled “The Interview” from their theaters after threats of violent retaliation from, apparently, the Hermit Kingdom of North Korea if the movie is shown. It's a comedy based on the assassination of North Korea's “Great Leader,” Kim Jong Un.
THE PD DOES THE NCRA DISPUTE
JUST IN FROM CONGRESSMAN HUFFMAN:
Historic good news today: President Obama is ending a five-decade-long foreign policy disaster by opening the door to normalized relations with Cuba. This wrongheaded policy has failed by any measure, and created widespread resentment toward the United States in our own hemisphere. I've been to Cuba twice (as a member of the USA Volleyball team in 1987) and have always believed normalization of relations was the answer. There is simply no downside to this common sense change of policy, and the upside is enormous for the Cuban people and for our own economic and security interests. We have more work to do to repair decades of counterproductive policies in Latin America, but here's to the possibility of a new era of trust and collaboration between the United States and our neighbors in this hemisphere.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Ever since the dot-com boom and bust, it seems the way to keep the economy going has been to replace one bubble with another bubble. Looks like that’s being tried again now. I’m taking advantage of it, as my wife and I just bought a house. I bought my last one at the beginning of the previous up cycle and sold it just before the bottom fell out. When I did that, I didn’t know when I’d own another house. Here’s to hoping that I purchased this one at the start of another up cycle in prices and ownership.
If you want to see where the real sub-prime lending activity is, check out car loans, which can be had for terms similar to what I had back in 2003, when dealers were luring customers in with the pitch “Got a job? Got $100? You can drive a brand-new Kia!” They weren’t kidding, either, as I got a car then. The return of easy terms is fueling record post-Great-Recession car sales right now, with low down payments and 2% interest. I took advantage of it this time, too, buying car for my wife to replace that Kia I bought in 2003. Yes, these are business as usual decisions and I know these are not business as usual times, but as I’m fond of saying, I can’t be all DOOM all the time.
1. Against the stone breakwater,
Only an ominous lapping,
While the wind whines overhead,
Coming down from the mountain,
Whistling between the arbors, the winding terraces;
A thin whine of wires, a rattling and flapping of leaves,
And the small street-lamp swinging and slamming against
the lamp pole.
Where have the people gone?
There is one light on the mountain.
2. Along the sea-wall, a steady sloshing of the swell,
The waves not yet high, but even,
Coming closer and closer upon each other;
A fine fume of rain driving in from the sea,
Riddling the sand, like a wide spray of buckshot,
The wind from the sea and the wind from the mountain contending,
Flicking the foam from the whitecaps straight upward into the darkness.
A time to go home!--
And a child’s dirty shift billows upward out of an alley,
A cat runs from the wind as we do,
Between the whitening trees, up Santa Lucia,
Where the heavy door unlocks,
And our breath comes more easy,--
Then a crack of thunder, and the black rain runs over us, over
The flat-roofed houses, coming down in gusts, beating
The walls, the slatted windows, driving
The last watcher indoors, moving the cardplayers closer
To their cards, their anisette.
3. We creep to our bed, and its straw mattress.
We wait; we listen.
The storm lulls off, then redoubles,
Bending the trees half-way down to the ground,
Shaking loose the last wizened oranges in the orchard,
Flattening the limber carnations.
A spider eases himself down from a swaying light-bulb,
Running over the coverlet, down under the iron bedstead.
The bulb goes on and off, weakly.
Water roars into the cistern.
We lie closer on the gritty pillow,
Breathing heavily, hoping--
For the great last leap of the wave over the breakwater,
The flat boom on the beach of the towering sea-swell,
The sudden shudder as the jutting sea-cliff collapses,
And the hurricane drives the dead straw into the living pine-tree.
— Theodore Roethke
Oil Trains: Unsafe (and Unnecessary) at Any Speed
by Ralph Nader
Back in 1991 the National Transportation Safety Board first identified oil trains as unsafe — the tank cars, specifically ones called DOT-111s, were too thin and punctured too easily, making transport of flammable liquids like oil unreasonably dangerous. As bad as this might sound, at the very least there was not a lot of oil being carried on the rails in 1991.
Now, in the midst of a North American oil boom, oil companies are using fracking and tar sands mining to produce crude in remote areas of the U.S. and Canada. To get the crude to refineries on the coasts the oil industry is ramping up transport by oil trains. In 2008, 9,500 crude oil tank cars moved on US rails. In 2013 the number was more than 400,000! With this rapid growth comes a looming threat to public safety and the environment. No one — not federal regulators or local firefighters — are prepared for oil train derailments, spills and explosions.
Unfortunately, the rapid increase in oil trains has already meant many more oil train disasters. Railroads spilled more oil in 2013 than in the previous 40 years combined.
Trains are the most efficient way to move freight and people. This is why train tracks run through our cities and towns. Our rail system was never designed to move hazardous materials, however; if it was, train tracks would not run next to schools and under football stadiums.
Last summer, environmental watchdog group ForestEthics released a map of North America that shows probable oil train routes. Using Google, anyone can check to see if their home or office is near an oil train route. (Try it out here.)
ForestEthics used census data to calculate that more than 25 million Americans live in the oil train blast zone (that being the one-mile evacuation area in the case of a derailment and fire.) This is clearly a risk not worth taking — oil trains are the Pintos of the rails. Most of these trains are a mile long, pulling 100-plus tank cars carrying more than 3 million gallons of explosive crude. Two-thirds of the tank cars used to carry crude oil today were considered a “substantial danger to life, property, and the environment” by federal rail safety officials back in 1991.
The remaining one-third of the tank cars are not much better — these more “modern” cars are tested at 14 to 15 mph, but the average derailment speed for heavy freight trains is 24 mph. And it was the most “modern” tank cars that infamously derailed, caught fire, exploded and poisoned the river in Lynchburg, West Virginia, last May. Other derailments and explosions in North Dakota and Alabama made national news in 2014.
The most alarming demonstration of the threat posed by these trains happened in Quebec in July 2013 — an oil train derailed and exploded in the City of Lac Megantic, killing 47 people and burning a quarter of the city to the ground. The fire burned uncontrollably, flowing through the city, into and then out of sewers, and into the nearby river. Firefighters from across the region responded, but an oil fire cannot be fought with water, and exceptionally few fire departments have enough foam flame retardant to control a fire from even a single 30,000 gallon tank car, much less the millions of gallons on an oil train.
Given the damage already done and the threat presented, Canada immediately banned the oldest of these rail cars and mandated a three-year phase-out of the DOT-111s. More needs to be done, but this is a solid first step. Of course, we share the North American rail network — right now those banned trains from Canada may very well be transporting oil through your home town while the Department of Transportation dallies.
The immense public risk these oil trains pose is starting to gain the attention it deserves, but not yet the response. Last summer, the U.S. federal government began the process of writing new safety regulations. Industry has weighed in heavily to protect its interest in keeping these trains rolling. The Department of Transportation, disturbingly, seems to be catering to industry’s needs.
The current draft rules are deeply flawed and would have little positive impact on safety. They leave the most dangerous cars in service for years. Worse yet, the oil industry would get to more than double its tank car fleet before being required to decommission any of the older, more dangerous DOT-111s.
We need an immediate ban on the most dangerous tank cars. We also need to slow these trains down; slower trains mean fewer accidents, and fewer spills and explosions when they do derail. The public and local fire fighters must be notified about train routes and schedules, and every oil train needs a comprehensive emergency response plan for accidents involving explosive Bakken crude and toxic tar sands. In addition, regulations must require adequate insurance. This is the least we could expect from Secretary Anthony Foxx, who travels a lot around the country, and the Department of Transportation.
So far, Secretary Foxx is protecting the oil industry, not ordinary Americans. In fact, Secretary Foxx is meeting with Canadian officials this Thursday, December 18, to discuss oil-by-rail. It is doubtful, considering Canada’s strong first step, that he will be trying to persuade them to adopt even stronger regulations. Will Secretary Foxx ask them to weaken what they have done and put more lives at risk? Time will tell. He has the power, and the mandate, to remove the most dangerous rail cars to protect public safety but he appears to be heading in the opposite direction. Earlier this month ForestEthics and the Sierra Club, represented by EarthJustice, filed a lawsuit against the DOT to require them to fulfill this duty.
Secretary Foxx no doubt has a parade of corporate executives wooing him for lax or no oversight. But he certainly doesn’t want to have a Lac Megantic-type disaster in the U.S. on his watch. It is more possible now than ever before, given the massive increase in oil-by-rail traffic.
Pipelines, such as the Keystone XL, are not the answer either. (Keystone oil would be routed for export to other countries from Gulf ports.) Pipelines can also leak and result in massive damage to the environment as we have seen in the Kalamazoo, MI spill by the Enbridge Corporation. Three years later, $1.2 billion spent, and the “clean up” is still ongoing.
Here’s the reality — we don’t need new pipelines and we don’t need oil by rail. This is “extreme oil,” and if we can’t transport it safely, we can and must say no. Secretary Foxx needs to help make sure 25 million people living in the blastzone are safe and that means significant regulations and restrictions on potentially catastrophic oil rail cars.
Rather than choosing either of these destructive options, we are fortunate to be able to choose safe, affordable cleaner energy and more efficient energy products, such as vehicles and furnaces, instead. That is the future and it is not a distant future — it’s happening right now.
Ralph Nader’s latest book is: Unstoppable: the Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State.
WINTER RAINS BRING SALMON HOME
Here on the Mendocino Coast, we know that when winter's first heavy rains arrive, a huge surge of rushing water will break through river mouth sand bars and open our blocked coastal streams to the ocean. Once again, it is time for the salmon waiting off shore to swim the final leg of their epic journey upstream.
Coho Salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch), also known as Silver Salmon, spend its two-year adult life in the Pacific Ocean until they are instinctively called to spawn in the freshwater pools of their birth.
Upon entering freshwater, the sleek silver fish begins to change and their bodies become a vibrant red, their jaws developing an iconic hook.
Protecting a Special Species
The coho salmon is a keystone species, meaning their lives are crucial to the way many other species interrelate. Remove the coho salmon from the habitat and everything changes. Coho salmon pull important nutrients from the ocean into their bodies and redistribute these nutrients back to the terrestrial environment, feeding the land and numerous other living species.
Many factors are responsible for the decline of coho salmon. Deforestation, climate change, and sediment contamination disrupt their early life cycle. Dams prevent adult fish from returning to their spawning grounds. Over-fishing has also played a role.
Returning an endangered species to sustainable numbers is a daunting task. But after months of habitat restoration work, watching the mighty Coho swim back upstream is truly inspiring.
There is still time to correct mistakes of the past. By restoring the streams and waterways of Mendocino County for our salmon, we will ensure their future for generations to come.
Mendocino Land Trust, PO Box 1094. Mendocino, CA 95460
(707) 962-0470, email@example.com, mendocinolandtrust.org
EXCERPTS OF JUDGES’ DESCRIPTIONS of Emerald Cup award winning marijuana
(Courtesy Kym Kemp, LostCoastOutpost)
+ solid big buds densely packed with crystals - cardamon and eggnog, zabaglione, rich full flavor, cherry turpentine, subtle changes throughout the joint, big expansion and a clear mental high. Good for creative focus.
+ Big Brachs Beauty Strong gasoline smell; Comes in waves
+ Emerald Green & light brown hairs; firm bud; poopy deep stink/roasted peppers/very strong/rose lavender/ dried mango w/a touch of mint/delicious all the way through; Open headed high/happy thinking person’s high/put me in a space zone & got me really high
+ tight trim loaded with golden trichomes; super strong pine&mothballs; Stinky minty dirty armpit - & it tastes like it smells! Tastes stony loose jaw and brain spiral/ vibratory head stone/good social weed
+ Symmetrical shape; tight trim; smells like Tangerine juice and tequilla with some lime tastes like candy cane/full smoky rich flavor nose tickler/full-headed high
+ Hairspray and tangerine
+ Sparkly sticky dark green frosty coating smell: chocolate hash with raspberry sauce/fruity&fuely; Tastes like it smells plus piney/peppery butterscotch; Clear head and bright eyed
+ Tight bud and good trim/bright orange hairs smell lemon bars & naugahyde tequilla aftertaste/key lime pie/airplane glue/stinky socks - phew! Slow down and feel good!
+ Pretty girl with big brachs; smells like yummy peach brandy - intoxicating taste apricot nectar &old books/very smooth mouth aftertaste/smoked to the very end full body take off on 4th hit/strong sensory awareness and big fun
+ Blonde inside; tight firm bud; Smells like tangerine/cinnamon toast/pre-school locker room (& some kid pissed his pants); Tastes like grapefruit and cherry; Clearheaded high
BIG OIL LOBBYIST HEROICALLY DEFENDS THE FIRST AMENDMENT!
by Dan Bacher
In her eloquent salute to the First Amendment recently printed in the S.F. Chronicle, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the distinguished President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), has finally convinced me that the oil industry only has the best interests of the Constitution, the people and the environment in mind when it does anything!
Her touching prose in defending the free speech "rights" of Big Oil to be free of pesky "climate change" labels on their gas pumps in the City of Berkeley brought a deluge of tears to my eyes.
"One of the underlying tenets of our cherished right to free speech is that everyone is entitled to it — even people with whom we disagree," gushed Reheis-Boyd.
"It seems fitting — indeed essential — to remember this important principle as the city of Berkeley and the city and county of San Francisco debate whether to compel service station owners in those Bay Area cities to display so-called “climate change labels” on their gas pumps," she said.
Reheis-Boyd courageously invokes the 50th anniversary of the Free Speech Movement to stand up for the First Amendment rights of the downtrodden oil companies!
"It is, of course, ironic that the city of Berkeley — birthplace of the Free Speech Movement 50 years ago — would even consider an ordinance that so clearly treads upon the free speech rights of the men and women who own and operate service stations within its borders. Even some members of Berkeley’s own City Council criticize this proposal as a 'feel-good solution looking for a problem' and really being about 'making people feel bad,'" wrote Reheis-Boyd.
There is no doubt that Reheis-Boyd and the Western States Petroleum Association are heroic defenders of the First Amendment, the environment and the public trust. That's why Reheis-Boyd generously volunteered to Chair the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create glorious "marine protected areas" in Southern California - and to selflessly serve on the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast.
She had only altruistic motives in mind when she so selflessly donated her time to kicking pesky fishermen, Tribal gatherers and divers off the water - and letting the oil industry, corporate polluters, the military and corporate aquaculture off the hook in these iconic "Yosemites of the Sea."
How could she be anything but a dedicated "environmentalist" when NRDC, the League of Conservation Voters, the Ocean Conservancy and other "environmental" NGOs and self-sacrificing state officials touted the process that she oversaw as the most "open, transparent and inclusive" process in California history?
This marine guardian/First Amendment defender is also now pushing for the expansion of sustainable hydraulic fracturing and the long-overdue weakening of California's environmental laws for noble, saintly reasons that truly touch me. She and other oil industry lobbyists and executives are modern day John Muirs and Rachel Carsons who must be worshipped for their dedication to fish, water, the environment and the public trust! Go Big Oil! Go WSPA!
Reheis-Boyd's profound tribute to the First Amendment is posted below:
The following opinion editorial was authored by WSPA President Catherine Reheis-Boyd and was originally published in the San Francisco Chronicle on December 5, 2014.
Wrong-headed idea: Gas-pump labels about global warning
One of the underlying tenets of our cherished right to free speech is that everyone is entitled to it — even people with whom we disagree.
It seems fitting — indeed essential — to remember this important principle as the city of Berkeley and the city and county of San Francisco debate whether to compel service station owners in those Bay Area cities to display so-called “climate change labels” on their gas pumps.
While neither city has yet decided what the proposed labels will say, one proposal suggests the following language: “Global Warming Alert! Burning gasoline emits CO2. The City of Berkeley cares about global warming.”
Numerous organizations and notable individuals seem to believe that global climate change can be “fixed” simply by adopting punitive policies and confiscatory taxes on the American oil industry.
They are, of course, wrong on the politics and wrong on the facts. Service station operators and oil companies in the United States are not “causing” global climate to change. Seven billion people who have, or aspire to have, energy-intensive comforts, conveniences and mobility over a century of unprecedented global industrialization are a much more relevant reason why atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are increasing.
Let me be clear: Our opposition to pump warning labels is not about denying climate change. Frankly, there isn’t much debate about whether the climate is changing. But there is enormous controversy and debate about how best to address the threat of global warming and how we as a global community are going to share in the cost of transitioning to low-carbon energy without causing economic disruption that will only set these efforts back by years.
And that is why forcing businesses to display signs promoting government’s opinions on climate change cannot be justified as “warnings.” They are, in reality, unabashed political advertisements of these cities’ opposition to petroleum-based fuels. They touch on issues that are controversial and fundamentally political in nature. Requiring service stations — or any businesses — to advertise them on behalf of the government is a clear violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution.
Put simply, government cannot force people to promote its policies or ideologies no matter how strongly those views are held or how many people share them.
Every business — from the largest corporation to the smallest individual service station owner — is protected from laws that require them to espouse the government’s point of view on policy issues. They have a right to disagree with the government, they have a right to make their own statements about policy issues, and they have a right to say nothing at all.
I also want to address the often-repeated comparison to warning labels on cigarettes. It is a false comparison and one that is an insult to the working families who rely on their vehicles to get to work, take their kids to school or deliver the products we depend on.
Cigarette warnings have been upheld by the courts as conveying clearly documented, uncontroversial individual health risks. There is little doubt about the direct and immediate health risk to the individual. In contrast, the relative causes and effects of global climate change, and what should be done about it, are matters of significant political controversy and factual uncertainty.
What the politicians in Berkeley and San Francisco seem to miss is that many families and individuals — especially those who live in poorer communities — have limited transportation options, do not always have mass transit options to every destination, and cannot afford hybrid or electric cars.
As we approach 2015, the reality is simple: Gasoline-powered vehicles are still essential to the work, safety and well-being of ordinary, hard-working families and individuals.
It is, of course, ironic that the city of Berkeley — birthplace of the Free Speech Movement 50 years ago — would even consider an ordinance that so clearly treads upon the free speech rights of the men and women who own and operate service stations within its borders. Even some members of Berkeley’s own City Council criticize this proposal as a “feel-good solution looking for a problem” and really being about “making people feel bad.”
Climate change is a complex problem and addressing it requires far more scientific understanding of the complex contributions of different sources and countries, necessary political debate at all levels of government, shared sacrifice, huge costs, and ultimately, global collaboration. Symbolic gestures that trample on fundamental free speech rights are not the answer.