- Helping Professionals
- GJ Denouncing
- Ochoa Fundraiser
- Anarchy's Team
- Vineyard Sale
- Drug Perception
- Phone Staring
- Falsework Construction
- Bourgeoisie Crimes
- Berlin Wall
- Postal Service
- Laughing Lady
- McFarm Job
- Trickledown Explained
- KZYX Insiders
- NCRA Case
- Catch of the Day
- Obama's Hypocrisy
RAUCOUS MEETING Monday night at the Fort Bragg City Council, as citizens opposed to the Council's cockamamie scheme to place a halfway house in the center of town at the old Coast Hotel turned out in large numbers. (We'll have a complete account in the print edition of the AVA's issue of February 4th, and will post it on our website as soon as it's received.)
A PERSON WHO DID ATTEND commented, “The Council held their closed session before, not after the meeting, obviously to prepare for the onslaught of unhappy people. Cimolino and Peters both presented well, but the other three councilmen came across as the stuffed shirts they are with their usual know it all droning. I would still like to see them recalled. The Ortner rep droned also, since these people all seem to take the same public speaking class, and gave a high success number, quite unbelievable.”
TRANSLATION: Ortner Management Group, a private business operated by Mr. Ortner of Yuba City now gets some $7 million a year from the taxpayers of Mendocino County to provide mental health services. Seven million a year. He recovers a percentage of whatever he can from MediCal reimbursements. But what is Mendocino County getting for all that money? People close to the day-to-day operation of the Ortner Management Group's alleged services say we're not getting services anywhere near the value of Ortner's end of the deal.
THE DEAL to hand Ortner this very large gift of public money occurred via a tricky little fellow named Tom Pinizzotto, a former Ortner employee who now draws big pay as an administrator for what's left of the County's mental health operation. The Ortner deal was nicely outlined and suitably denounced by last year's Mendocino County Grand Jury.
ORTNER, and here's where it gets tricky (and even more crooked in our opinion) simply sub-contracts alleged mental health services to Mendocino County's existing non-profits such as Hospitality House. (Persons in need who aren't reimbursable from MediCal get turned away.) The arrangement means that it's in Ortner's financial interest to kick down as little of his $7 annual million to services like Hospitality House. As a private business, as in any private business, the less money you have going out the door, the more money you have coming in the door. Ortner, near as we can tell, is raking off somewhere between three and four mil in pure profit, but just try and get a look at the books.
AS LONG AS ORTNER can attract reimbursable mental health cases into their ever-expanding empire they can charge the taxpayers the equivalent of hundreds of dollars an hour, but they do it by the “billable minute”!
THIS ALL CAME ABOUT because Mendo CEO Carmel Angelo, rightly seeing that County Mental Health was a morass of entrenched incompetence, opaque funding, and complex billing requirements causing a constant draw on the County's general fund for services that weren’t reimbursed, it was simply a lot easier to turn the whole mess over to a private company. Enter Ortner and Pinizzotto.
THE COUNTY also made a nice $9 million annual gift to a raft of helping professionals feeding off dependent children. This apparatus was formerly known as Redwood Children's Services now called Redwood Management. Whether the ostensible goal is caring for doomed children or doomed adults, the public has no way of knowing how effective any of these programs are because the people running them, backed up by the Superior Court and the Board of Supervisors, always claim that client records are confidential and that confidentiality is, of course, for the “protection of the client.” At last night's council meeting in Fort Bragg the people for the halfway house project claimed great success, as the helping pros always do. But in reality, as you can see every day on the street, there is little success anywhere in making broken people whole again. And there are more of them all the time.
ORTNER AND HOSPITALITY HOUSE have now teamed up to convert the old Coast Hotel to a halfway house, or whatever the current euphemism is for the rehab of troubled persons. And about here is where we all need a reality check, especially the people who staff these programs, and it's the employees, especially at the upper levels, who benefit most. They don't want to talk about the reality out there because it's not in their personal interests to consider alternatives to the failed way broken people are presently being dealt with.
A LARGE PERCENTAGE of Mendocino County's working population is employed in the "helping professions." Their strategies to rehab drunks, dopers, free range psychotics, petty criminals, and old fashioned bums is an utter failure. The only beneficiaries of the present programs are vultures like Ortner and the well-paid people in the oversight jobs. Most of the population the helpers are employed to help used to be sequestered in a state hospital system, but that was in the days before America lost its way.
FORT BRAGG, like Ukiah, has a large population of dopeheads, chronic drunks, crazy people, and ex-cons, all of them forever lost, who prefer living rough because they can always get emergency shelter in bad weather and every day they can get a meal. This is not the way forward. What is needed is a county farm — away from populated areas — where people unwilling or unable to care for themselves are compelled to live while they are helped to regain themselves. A few might, most won't. But for the $7-to-$8 million a year that this County is paying to enrich a private mental health provider like Ortner would go a long way towards establishing and staffing a County Farm. At present, we're getting scammed and the needy remain needy.
ODD PIECE, and oddly askew from the facts, in the Independent Coast Observer of 23 January. The paper's Chris McManus's story is called “Grand Jury may be looking at Point Arena schools.” (I should hope so.) But Ms. McManus veers off into an unwarranted and inaccurate attack on last year's Grand Jury, writing, “While Grand Jurors are supposed to be unbiased and impartial, last year's Grand Jury got a memo from the Board of Supervisors rebuking them for 'unsupported opinions and unprofessional language that undermine the credibility of the Grand Jury and do a disservice to the community.”
WRONG. As a matter of historical fact, the supervisors, annoyed that the shady privatization of mental health services they signed off on was criticized in temperate language by the GJ, the only kind of language the Grand Jury writes in, approved a letter denouncing the Grand Jury for simply suggesting that the privatization of County Mental Health was untoward.
THE SUPERVISORS POUNCED ON THE MESSENGER: “The Board of Supervisors believes this Grand Jury report was written in a way that unfairly impugns the integrity of an individual and the process for awarding contracts for mental health services. The report found no evidence that any individual had an actual conflict of interest, profited personally, committed any illegal actions, or exercised undue influence concerning the process for awarding the contracts in question.”
THE GJ merely said the Mental Health deal comprised “the appearance of a conflict of interest,” which it certainly did.
BUT THE REAL PROBLEM is that the Grand Jury conscientiously goes about their business of at least trying to hold our public bureaucracies accountable while the subjects of their inquires annually denounce the GJ for simply asking questions!
THERE WILL BE A FUNDRAISER this Saturday to raise funds for Marcela Ochoa who has recently been diagnosed with cancer. I was asked to ask if you would post about it in this week's newspaper. I have attached a flyer with more information. --Mayte Guerrero, Boonville
LAST SUNDAY, the Green Bay Packers came within minutes of defeating the Seattle Seahawks and earning a berth in the Super Bowl. Were it not for a miracle comeback by Seattle, the Packers would have made their 14th appearance in the NFL’s title game. With 13 world championships, the Packers have far more than any other football team. They are arguably the most successful franchise in American professional sports history. But the most remarkable thing about the Green Bay Packers is that in an industry controlled by parasitic owners who leech billions of dollars off taxpayers, they are 100% publicly owned and operated for the benefit of their community.
The Packers are extremely profitable and completely self-sustainable. Last year, the Packers brought in $25.6 million in profit from operations on record revenue. This comes after two prior years with operating profits of $54.3 million and $43 million, respectively. When the Packers needed to raise capital for a stadium expansion in 2011, the team sold shares of stock for $250, with no one able to purchase more than 200 shares. They easily raised $65 million needed to complete the renovations to storied Lambeau Field.
Green Bay, with a population of slightly more than 100,000, is the smallest market in US professional sports. If they can financially support their team, imagine how easy it would be for a city the size of New York or Chicago.
The Packers prove that there is no reason for private ownership of sports teams. They also prove there is no need for government ownership either. To save the bankrupt team in 1923, community members mobilized in a grassroots effort to purchase the franchise and turn it into a nonprofit organization. As later stock sales opened up ownership to the broader public, measures were taken to ensure no one was able to obtain a controlling interest. The team would belong to everyone, and together they would make decisions democratically on how to operate it.
The Green Bay Packers are essentially an anarchist organization. Everybody involved has a stake. No one’s voice is dominant. The franchise is run democratically for the public good. According to its bylaws, the Packers are “a community project, intended to promote community welfare.” Concession operators are volunteers, many part of local nonprofits who raise money for their charities. When the field needs to be shoveled after a snowstorm, there is never a shortage of volunteers to help out. — Matt Peppe
THE $2.4 MILLION DOLLAR VINEYARD
THE DRUGS which we believed were so important a part of our liberation, the key to the music, the doors of perception for an elite, became a mass youth phenomenon. They caused much suffering and parental anguish, and they forged a weapon for the darkest forces in American society, the witch-hunting, punitive-minded hypocrites who promptly gave us the War on Drugs as they had given us Prohibition … We may not have had any choice, but in the end we allowed drugs to be turned into a weapon against everything we believed in.
— Robert Stone, Prime Green
BYPASS COLLAPSE / On line comment of the day
Different contractors seem to do the falsework differently, and also depending on the terrain and height.
There was a good photo showing how this was done. Steel I-beams laid on the ground as footing. Vertical timber posts on top of them. Then another set of steel I-beams at the top of the posts. A critical part is seen to be the X's formed by steel cables going from the top I-beams to the lower I-beams. The criss-crossing of the cables in repeating X pattern critical to provide the lateral support to keep the posts vertical.
Then on top of the upper I-beams all the 2 by 6's and plywood to form up the roadway.
Many ways for this to fail. Post slip off the lower I-beam used as footing. Or one of the supporting cables coming loose. Or maybe the rain affected the stability at the ground if it was muddy or some erosion occurred. Many other ways for that to fail.
The terrorists' desire is to show the enemy precisely that they — the terrorists — are sane, but implacable. When the Conrad-era French anarchist Émile Henry carried a cooking pot filled with explosive and 120 bullets into the Café Terminus near the Gare Saint Lazare in Paris in February, 1894, touched his cigar to a 15 second fuse and strolled out, his plan was to kill ordinary, relatively humble people — shopkeepers, clerks and salesgirls — having a beer and listening to the band.
"Not 'innocent'," he claimed later. "These beer-drinkers, petty bourgeois with a steady salary in their pockets, are the ones that always line themselves up on the side of the powerful, ignoring the problems of the workers. They hate the poor more than the rich do!" Many anarchists promptly repudiated him. "At least have the courage of your crimes, gentlemen of the bourgeoisie," Henry declared to the court that condemned him to the guillotine, "and agree that our reprisals are fully legitimate." Reprisals for what? "Are these not innocent victims? Children dying slowly of anemia in the slums. Women turning pallid in sweatshops. Old people turned into machines for production all their lives and then cast on a garbage dump and the workhouse when their strength is exhausted."
— Alexander Cockburn
“THE POST OFFICE has achieved new lows of incompetence. No AVAs in my mailbox since the Jan. 7 issue. And I'm just down the road for F's sake. I'm too old a bunny to subscribe to the computer version. I like paper! Bitchingly yours, Jay W.”
THE POST OFFICE is strangling our out-of-town circulation, which was once considerable, especially in the context of rural weeklies. That circulation is giving up, and we can't blame them. They pay fifty bucks for a subscription to a paper that may not arrive for weeks, or months in some cases we've heard of, and not at all in many more. And we pay mightily for a postage rate that's supposed to get us to our subscribers in a timely manner. All I can say is I'm sorry.
JAY W. WROTE BACK: “No apologies needed, amigo, not your fault. And, both back issues arrived today [Tuesday]! Better late than never! To paraphrase a Robt. Williams line in ZAP comix, ‘I love to get ripped to the tits before I read my new AVA’.”
‘OLD LAUGHING LADY’
Don't call pretty Peggy,
she can't hear you no more
Don't leave no message
'round her back door.
They say the old laughing lady
been here before
She don't keep time,
she don't count score.
You can't have a cupboard
if there ain't no wall.
You got to move there's
no time left to stall.
They say the old laughing lady
dropped by to call
And when she leaves,
she leaves nothing at all.
See the drunkard of the village
falling on the street.
Can't tell his ankles
from the rest of his feet.
He loves his old laughing lady
'cause her taste is so sweet.
But his laughing lady's loving
ain't the kind he can keep.
There's a fever on the freeway,
blacks out the night.
There's a slipping on the stairway,
just don't feel right
And there's a rumbling
in the bedroom
and a flashing of light
There's the old laughing lady,
everything is all right.
— Neil Young
THE MENDOCINO COUNTY FARMERS MARKET Association (MCFARM, www.mcfarm.org ) is accepting applications for the position of Market Manager at the Boonville Certified Farmers Market. The Market Manager is an independent contractor and is responsible for ensuring that the market complies with MCFARM and state regulations, for market promotion and all other basic management duties. The Boonville certified market operates from 10-12:30 from May through October. The Market Manager is also a member of the MCFARM Operating Committee. For a copy of the application or for more details about the compensation or responsibilities of a Market Manager contact Scott Cratty at 707-462-7377 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline to apply for the position is Tuesday, February 10 at 5pm.
SHILL, SCHILL, OR SCHMILL?
To the Editor:
Paul Lambert, the host of a show at KZYX, and also one of the station's Board members, has every reason in the world to be a reliable schill for General Manager, John Coate, and Program Director, Mary Aigner. Lambert is the ultimate "insider".
Let me set the record straight for Mr. Lambert by quoting from the letter I received from the FCC. It is dated January 15, and it signed by Peter H. Doyle, Chief, Audio Division, Media Bureau.
The letter from Mr. Doyle reads, in part: "We request that MCPB [Mendocino County Public Broadcasting} provide information regarding the station's hiring practices. Specifically, Sakowicz alleges that John Coate, the Station's General Manager and Executive Director, hired Paul Lambert, a news reporter, in 2011, without posting or advertising for this position. While we [the FCC] acknowledge that the Station claims a 'small station exemption' to the Commission's Equal Opportunity Rule ('EEOC Rule') because it has fewer than five full-time employees since July 2012, the Lambert hiring occurred prior to this time."
The FCC letter continues: "Accordingly, we request that MCPB clarify whether it recruited widely for Lambert's position in 2011. If so, we request information regarding the Station's recruitment efforts, including any available documentation. If MCPB did not recruit widely, please provide its reasons, if any, for failing to do so."
The FCC concludes: "We direct MCPB to provide the information within fifteen days (15) of the date of this letter. Failure to supply the requested information within the specified timeframe will result in our making a disposition based on the current record."
I hope this satisfies Mr. Lambert's curiosity.
That said, MCPB has not advertised for any of its four or five news reporter jobs during the last several years. Not one. This may, or may not, violate the letter of EEOC law, but it certainly flies in the face of the spirit of the law. The spirit of affirmative action. The bottom line is that KZYX is a closed shop. Management hires friends. Management hires friends of friends. Management hires insiders.
Management does not support affirmative action.
This should come as no surprise. How could KZYX management be expected to support affirmative action when they fail to investigate violence against women? Yes, you read right. Violence. KZYX failed to investigate battery committed against two women in separate incidents on station premises.
I will provide the names of these two woman to any responsible journalist or investigator with the permission of the women. However, I feel comfortable describing the incidents, since I know both women to be credible.
One woman, a co-host of "Trading Time" was choked by her then-partner. Yes, choked. She ended up reporting the incident to the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.
The other woman is a former staff member of Nashville Public Radio, WPLN. She knows what a real public radio stations looks like — and it's not KZYX. And it was she who was one of five people who filed an FCC complaint against KZYX, objecting to the renewal of the station's licenses pending a change in management at the station. This woman was spit at by KZYX's operations manager. Yes, spit at. And spitting at a woman, like choking a woman, is battery.
KZYX refused to investigate either incident.
The station's possible EEOC Rule violation, cited in the FCC's January 15 letter, pales in comparison to violence against women on the station's premises.
Being a public radio station, KZYX is a public trust. But it has lost the public's trust. No affirmative action. No investigation of the battery incidents. And that's on top of missing monies, financial irregularities, failure to disclose staff salaries, frequent failure of aging broadcast equipment, total control of programming decisions, purging of radio show hosts who dare to question management, etc.
Absolutely shocking. The public needs to demand change at KZYX. The public needs to stop supporting KZYX until there is change.
Yours very truly,
MCPB Board of Directors, 2013-2016, Board Treasurer, 2014
RAIL CASE HEADING TO STATE SUPREME COURT
After two decisions at trial and appellate-level courts, the Supreme Court of California will review a court case between the North Coast Railroad Authority (NCRA) and two environmental groups.
* * *
BACKGROUND (from eelriver.org):
North Coast Railroad Authority
The Northwest Pacific Railroad was the first and only railroad to be officially closed by the Federal Railroad Authority. At the time of closure in 1998, the railroad contained more than 208 damaged areas along the 216 miles of track and was within numerous violations of the Fish and Game Code, Health and Safety Code and the Water Code, all meant to protect our Public Trust resources.
The cost of stabilizing the damaged areas to a Class 1 designation (no passengers) has been estimated to be $642,000,000 by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Maintenance and repairs could be around a million dollars a year for a railroad running along the waters edge of the main-stem Wild and Scenic Eel River, a seismically active and geologically unstable area. As owners of the peoples railroad, California taxpayers will be responsible for these maintenance and repair costs.
The North Coast Railroad Authority (NCRA) intends to restore the railroad with the initial focus being on opening operable blocks in the South from the interchange at Lombard, traveling north to Willits. Environmental Consent Decree (ECD) issues are being delayed until there is reasonable rail improvement.
The NCRA 2006 Strategic Plan and Progress Report states: “The California Transportation Commission (CTC) has previously asked NCRA to report on its ability to comply with the ECD if the rail is not extended through the Canyon. As stated above, it is NCRA’s intent to eventually open the entire line and thereby address the ECD issues. However, if the rail was not extended through the Canyon, it would be doubtful that NCRA would ever have the financial means to address the ECD through the canyon area.”
Friends of the Eel River are very concerned about the health and potential recovery of the Eel river and have been following the railroad saga for many years because of it’s past and potential future impacts to the river. We have tried very hard to maintain a neutral stance so we could evaluate various proposals for repair or removal of the railroad. In the process we are uncovering major holes in the statements being put forth by the NCRA. In their recent press release it sounded like the railroad was a soundly put together project, funded and engineered and would be soon roaring down the track. Nothing could be further from the truth. The operator chosen by the NCRA Board in order to release government funding is in the process of being put together as a Limited Liability Corporation, L.L.C. and is not completed yet to my knowledge. The company wanting to reopen the hard rock mine at Island Mountain, in the heart of the main stem Eel River canyon, has not even completed their permitting request from the Planning Department in Trinity County, since that twelve mile section is in that county. The mine will have to go through various environmental reports which take money and time. It appears that the operation of this entire railway line is contingent on the mine being successfully permitted as it is promised to produce about a million dollars or so for the rail line. The port of Humboldt is a long way from becoming an international port with container shipments to be further moved via the railroad. This project is proposed to be a public private joint venture and is being supported (pushed) by Democrates and justified with ignorant statements like ” it is better we repair the railroad because it is better to fix it than let it fall into the river.” Yes, there are miles of railroad ties bleeding toxins along the way which can be easily removed along with the tracks that would not create new disturbances. So far no one has come along with a feasible plan to restore the tracks through that section of the river canyon in a transparent environmentally sound manner. There will be a public hearing at the California Transit Commission (CTC) on October 11 and 12, 2006 some where in Santa Rosa. We will post the meeting place as soon as we receive that information. Our current question is “Is this just another run on taxpayers’ money?”
Train Mine Numbers
The Island Mountain Mine report and the 2006 NCRA Strategic Plan estimate 6,000,000 tons will be mined from the quarry every year.
This will produce approximately 2,400,000 cubic yards of crushed rock per year.
It is assumed that a single rail car can transport 100 yards of material, a train is limited 25 cars due to the weight, and that trains operate 260 days a year (weekdays). This would produce approximately 10 trains a day during days of operation (outbound and return).
In addition, the 2006 NCRA Strategic Plan estimates up to 1000 containers a day moved to and from the port of Humboldt Bay.
Assuming 50 double stacked cars per train this would be an additional 10 trains per day.
These two rail uses potentially add up to 20 trains a day.
This is 20 times the number of trains estimated to move local goods (i.e. lumber) and garbage which could be as many one train a day.
CATCH OF THE DAY, Jan 27, 2015
SHANNON BARAJAS, Ukiah. Possession/under influence of controlled substance, probation revocation.
JAMES BROWN, Redwood Valley. Resisting arrest, probation revocation.
DARLENE DAVIS, Covelo. Drunk in public, resisting arrest, probation revocation.
RONALD DIX, Laytonville. DUI.
WALTER FINDLEY, Willits. Domestic battery.
IRAN HOAGLEN, Covelo. Domestic assault, probation revocation.
ALAN HOLLIDAY, Ukiah. Domestic battery, resisting arrest.
DAVID JOAQUIN, Ukiah. Battery, possession of controlled substance, community supervision violation.
RICHARD JOHNSON, Hopland. Probation revocation. [no photo]
CRYSTAL MAPLES, Ukiah. Drunk in public.
LUIS MARTINEZ-VARGAS, Ukiah. Dirk/dagger, probation revocation.
ALEX MORA-WHITEHURST, Willits. Drunk in public.
DUSTIN PRESCOTT, Fort Bragg. Driving on suspended license, forge/alter vehicle registration, probation revocation.
STEPHEN REYNOLDS, Fort Bragg. Possession of meth for sale.
ALVIN WILSON, Oakland/Willits. DUI/fourth in ten years. Probation revocation.
OBAMA’S STATE OF THE MIS-UNION
Swings & Misses
by Ralph Nader
The President’s State of the Union Addresses are rarely focused. They are written by numerous speechwriters and put through many drafts, each reflecting the urgings by interested parties to have their issues mentioned. Often, this makes the speech sound like a grab bag of lists.
But once up on the teleprompter before a joint session of Congress and a thousand reporters and commentators, the speech becomes a signaling presentation by what the President says, how the President says it and what the President does not say.
While trying to resist the temptation to project what I or my colleagues would have included, it is remarkable to note how contradictory or inconsistent a number of President Obama’s points were.
For example, while touting the increased production of oil and gas (he did note the fast rise of solar/wind energy), he later provided gravity to the perils of climate change. Taken together, they do not mix well for the formation of a national energy conversion policy to renewables and efficiency so as to slow climate change’s planetary devastation.
Mr. Obama spoke of cherishing civil liberties. But he did not mention support of any amendments to the so-called Patriot Act, up for Congressional renewal this June, which would delete atrocious anti-civil liberties provisions, from search and seizure notification delays to snooping into sensitive personal, medical and financial information, or even people’s library usage. Nor did he declare, while saying he was increasing transparency, that the Senate Intelligence Committee’s 6700 page already redacted backup report on the CIA’s use of torture could be publicly released from his administration’s grip.
When he said that “we still need laws that strengthen rather than weaken unions, and give American workers a voice,” it would have been more persuasive had he told us that he meant revising the notorious anti-union Taft-Hartley Act. Then he contradicts his concern for workers by urging passage of the job-exporting Trans-Pacific Trade Agreement (TPTA) and not filling his 2008 promise to revise NAFTA and the World Trade Organization Treaty that have resulted in the loss of large numbers of jobs along with labor, consumer and environmental rights. (See globaltradewatch.org.)
To make matters worse, he wants Congress to adopt a “fast-track” procedure for passage of the TPTA, which does not allow amendments and requires limited debate. How does that give workers a voice?
Catching up with what Western Europe has been doing for 60 years, President Obama strongly urged more available and affordable childcare, paid sick leave and paid maternity leave. He also demanded higher capital gains and dividend taxes on the super-rich. So far so good.
Every year, the Republicans, who hypocritically want lower deficits while at the same time raising military spending and corporate welfare, somehow think that shackling the Treasury Department’s tax collections are not increasing deficits. But the President didn’t stick up for the IRS, whose budget is being annually slashed so that it cannot collect more of the $300 billion in yearly evaded taxes.
President Obama wants to increase repair and expansion of public works (called infrastructure), but he didn’t connect this initiative to a crackdown on corporate defrauding of the government, such as on Medicare, Medicaid and defense contracts. This could be big money savings to pay for infrastructure needs and become a “law and order” drive against corporate crime—having Left-Right support in our own country.
Over five hundred billion dollars are spent annually through federal government contracting of goods and services with corporations. Putting the full text of these contracts online and requiring, at last, annual auditing of the Pentagon’s $800 billion military budget (including the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and elsewhere) would squeeze out a lot of waste, fraud, and useless expenditures.
In 2006, then Senator Obama and arch-Republican Senator Coburn co-sponsored a bill that became law to place summary information about government contracts online. This has strong Left-Right support in Congress but it has needed a White House jumpstart to make sure the full text of those contracts is put online. It is inexplicable that such open fiscal accountability was ignored in his address, but then he has rarely mentioned this consequential reform since his inauguration in 2009.
When he came to the section of his speech that argued for raising the minimum wage, the President specifically taunted Republicans by saying “if you truly believe you could work full time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, go try it. If not, vote to give millions of the hardest-working people in America a raise.” It would have been more effective were he to have said specifically what higher minimum wage per hour he wanted.
With Obama, as with Clinton, one rarely gets the feeling that he means what he says when speaking for progressive programs, such as zero tuition for community college students and other measures. Follow-through, a laser focus, and the building of coalitions are required for these proposals if they are to be seen as priorities rather than merely feel-good rhetoric.
The President does have opportunities for Left-Right convergence, drawing on existing public opinion and rank and file members of Congress, to move legislation that will benefit the public.
But in his “last hurrah” over the next two years, he’s got to be a hands-on President working the Congress and barnstorming the country on these overdue changes, instead of adding to his over 425 fundraisers that so drained his attention and political freedom during the last six years.
(Ralph Nader’s latest book is: Unstoppable: the Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State.)