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- MRC Unrest
- Answer Directly
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- Killing Wildlife
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- Popular Vote
THE BIDDING FOR THE REMCO SITE in Willits is, we'd suppose, a done deal, as deals are always done in small-town Mendocino County. The seven acres in the middle of town saw a major toxic clean-up along with a deluge of complaints from Willits citizens that they had been poisoned by the years of heavy industrial processes conducted there. Now that it's clean, assuming it is, and the price is rumored to be a mere $250,000 (the property is in a kind of receivership), the small group of families who decide things in Willits are probably going to wind up with it, although Bob Pinoli of the Skunk Train says he's not only got $2.5 mil to put into developing the parcel but also has specific plans for the parcel, which is zoned commercial/light industrial.
ONE OF THE WILLITS principals is Ed Mitchell. Mitchell was partners with Margie Handley on the Haehl Creek subdivision where the new hospital is located on property formerly owned by Handley, and where Handley is now ensconced in a free house in Mitchell's new subdivision that Mitchell gave her out of pure gratitude for his construction of his hospital-adjacent subdivision called Haehl Creek. Tom Herman, another key Willits guy did the main subdivision design for Haehl Creek and is on the Hospital Foundation with the ubiquitous Handley; Herman is also active with Little Lake Fire Department. He is doing design work for the business park proposed by the Willits group which includes Bruce Burton, mayor of Willits.
AS REPORTED in the AVA at the time, the Howard Hospital Foundation paid for the $700,000 driveway for Mitchell's Haehl Creek subdivision as the most fortunate Mitchell and his development paid nothing. And Marge Handley, the biggest wig on the hospital board got her free house. The hospital could have waited nine more years to build an access road, but the Haehl Creek subdivision needed one right away, and Mitchell got a free one almost a decade before the hospital was built next door.
THE MITCHELL-BURTON-HERMAN forces have just offered to build the new firehouse inside their proposed business park at the Remco site (at non-prevailing wages) and lease it back to the fire district, all of which will probably leave Pinoli and his $2.5 million out in the fog at his Fort Bragg headquarters.
AS IF THE PROMISE of a new firehouse wasn't sweet enough, Sheriff Allman has told the Burton-Mitchell group that he will lease space at the site for a public safety training facility using asset forfeiture money, although that money will dry up when looming pot legalization becomes reality. Mayor Burton and his friends have two sacrosanct groups in support of them — cops and firemen.
BURTON-MITCHELL are also promising a brew-pub fronting 101 and lots of commercial space for start-up businesses, although Willits is replete with empty commercial space. Recently added to the long roster of empty storefronts in Willits is the now defunct Gaia Solar building.
A BUSINESS MODEL pegged to "build it and they will come" seems sketchy alongside a guy like Pinoli waving a couple of mil around, but the Willits crew has their political ducks quacking in unison and lined up in saluting ranks, although their plan for the property is vague, to say the least. Handley is probably in on it somewhere because the old hospital space is less than a block away, and it would be odd if she isn't in on it because she's the main person when it comes to hospitals in the North County and she's long-time close to Mayor Burton et al.
BURTON, in his capacity as mayor, has been sitting in on all those closed session meetings on REMCO for the past six months; he certainly knows the terms of the settlement because everyone else only knows what was said publicly by the city's lawyers in the city council's open session two weeks ago. At that meeting, vice-mayor Orenstein clearly favored his buddy Burton while treating Pinoli with borderline rudeness. Burton won't be able to vote on the deal so he'll need two votes to supplement Orenstein. Will councilmembers Holly Madrigal and Madge Strong go for it?
EXPANDING TO THE REMCO SITE has been a goal for the Skunk for a decade or more while the Burton-Mitchell plan feels like more Willits-wishing, but the Willits combine clearly has the inside track. The parcel would be perfect for the Skunk train with tracks already running right to it while a business park can go anywhere.
SELECTIVE EXCERPTS from Mental Health Board Chair John Wetzler’s introduction to the MHB’s annual report:
“We as the Mendocino County Mental Health Board are a State mandated body. We are part and parcel of the mental health system in this County. It was intimated at our January meeting that we as a Board had no direct access to information regarding our two administrative service organizations, and that all of our questions regarding finance, policy, personnel organization and decision making would have to go through one single person, that being the Assistant Director-Health Services — Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, Tom Pinizzotto. I think I speak for the Board that this fell on deaf ears. An Advisory Board receiving all of its information from one source is a self-cancelling phrase. I'm happy to say that since January's meeting our communications with the members of the County Mental Health Program have been open and refreshing.”
PINIZZOTTO is controlling what the Mental Health Board sees. The final sentence attempt to downplay the obvious problem created by having a former Ortner executive decide what information about Mental Health Contractor Ortner the Mental Health Board reviews is practically useless because “open and refreshing” communications with County staff is not reporting, and such informalities provide no meaningful, reviewable information to assess the program regarding: “finance, policy, personnel, organization and decision making.” It’s truly breathtaking that people put up with this. They should all simply resign: why review anything if you’re not getting complete and essential information to review?
MR. WETZLER ALSO REPORTS: “30% of Mendocino County's population is of Latino descent, and they are being ignored by the mental health program in this County. This is evident in an analysis of the adult system of care provided by OMG that renders mental health services to less than 1% per month of the Latino population. The MHSA does not provide funding for any of the local agencies that provide 100% of the bilingual/bicultural services.”
WOULD IT BE “INAPPROPRIATE” to say that maybe Mexicans are not so much being “ignored,” as they just don’t need or want Ortner’s “mental health services”? Or that white people are much more likely to consider their problems to be “mental health” problems? Or that fewer Mexicans use mind-destroying methamphetamine? Or that most “mental health services” are not really helping anyone but Ortner?
MR. WETZLER’S MHB ALSO REPORTS THAT ORTNER SUBCONTRACTS with the Ukiah and Fort Bragg Senior Centers to provide “Peer Counseling” and, “Once adequate funding is established, the South Coast Seniors Center will have a Peer Counseling [sic: “a peer counseling”] in Point Arena. On December 17 and again on April 15, 2015, Susan Bridge-Mount, LMFT, made presentations to the Mental Health Board regarding their Peer Counseling programs and training opportunities. The Senior Peer programs are designed to provide in-home peer counseling to under-served Seniors in Willits, Ukiah and in Fort Bragg. Their trained volunteers have donated over 900 hours in the past three years. [i.e., 300 hours per year, or less than one hour per day for the enter county] They continue to encourage Seniors to become peer counselors. Point Arena is an area which needs a Peer to Peer program. They are meeting their contractual obligations.”
LET’S SEE IF WE UNDERSTAND THIS: The County/taxpayers pay Ortner “adequate funding” for Senior Centers to arrange for (trained) geezers to talk to each other about their problems for free. So who gets the “adequate funding”? This is what they call “mental health services”?
AND THIS ONE: “Many who suffer from Mental Illness also use illegal substances or use Alcohol in excess. Despite a previous mental health diagnosis, most psychiatric hospitals will not admit patients in acute stages of drug or alcohol abuse. Families frequently demand a solution and want the patient to be sent to a psychiatric hospital. When informed that the patient is not ready for treatment but, instead needs de-tox or substance abuse treatment first, many families become angry. Often, they believe that the system has let them down. Voices are raised, blaming complaints are made. This puts the ACCESS centers in an impossible situation. When overdosed, the patient is not accessible for psychiatric treatment. Because of privacy concerns, providers are unable to explain the primary issues to the public. The Service Gap involves the lack of de-tox facility. The only de-tox center in Mendocino County is the Ford Street center. They do NOT accept any insurance, require a minimum of a 3 day stay with a cost rate of $108 per day. Most of our clients do not have the funds to pay this cost. Without an affordable de-tox center in Mendocino County, treatment for mental health patients who overdose on illegal substances is non-existent. The lack of a de-tox center is a major service gap.”
EVERY DAY WE SEE the usual “frequent flyers” who “use illegal substances or use Alcohol in excess.” They are booked into the Mendocino County Jail — aka the County’s de-facto “de-tox center” — charged with exactly that: “under the influence of controlled substance” or “drunk in public.”
WEBSITE COMMENT OF THE DAY: Not only is the County taking $3.9 million from HHSA reserves to pay for the General Fund overpayment prior to realignment, Mental Health costs are projected to be another $3.7 million over budget this year, thanks to Ortner and Redwood Children Services. That money will be taken from various HHSA department budgets and reserves. No one is talking about this because they do not want to admit that privatization of mental health services is not working. If a department funded by the General Fund was $3.7 million over budget, all hell would break loose.
— James Marmon
LOGGERS UPSET WITH MRC — Longtime local logger Jerry Philbrick alerted local news media this week to what he expected to have been a contentious meeting Wednesday morning in Ukiah with Mendocino Redwood Company. Philbrick said area loggers have been upset for some time with how MRC has been handling job bids, and they plan to air their concerns at the meeting this week. The meeting happened after press time, and no comment was available from MRC, but Philbrick said if issues are not resolved, some area logging companies are prepared to boycott MRC jobs. Mendocino Redwood Company is the county’s largest timberland owner. Philbrick is the owner of Philbrick Logging and Trucking of Fort Bragg. There will be a report in next week’s Advocate about the meeting’s results.
(From the Fort Bragg Advocate-News)
PUBLIC EXPRESSION, Tuesday, June 16, 2015, Mendocino County Board of Supervisors meeting.
Jonathan Middlebrook: “I ironize somewhat for the Ukiah Daily Journal, sometimes I twit you people. I'm here this morning to ask you not to make my job easy in the next few weeks. The grand jury reports are out. To some degree they look very much like last year's. They are different in that they are much more focused, particularly on the matter of library expenditures. Don't make my job easy by hiring an outside consultant to prepare your responses to the grand jury report. Particularly if that outside consultant is a specialist in, and I quote, ‘preventive education.’ Instead, would you please answer directly the grand jury's observations about the legal standing of the very strange budgeting that the grand jury has uncovered. Answer straight and you won't get irony from anybody. Otherwise it's going to be another laugh-fest. Individually I know most of you and I like you a lot. But as a group, things seem to become a little strange around the library. So I count on you this year: No outside consultants, direct responses from you, our elected representatives. Thanks very much.”
I'M SICK OF THIS. I'm sick of waking up to yet another hideous, needless gun massacre in America. I'm sick of seeing the helpless, grieving relatives weeping and wailing for their lost ones. I'm sick of hearing that the mass shooter was a twisted young white kid with a mental disorder who had absurdly easy access to guns. I'm sick of President Obama biting his lip in post-massacre statements, pretending he deeply cares when he, too, has done absolutely nothing about sensible gun policy.
— Piers Morgan
KEEP ON KILLING THOSE VARMINTS
Mendocino County Board of Supervisors opts to continue its wildlife management program with the US Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services Tuesday, after hours of testimony of those in support of the county’s contract of controlling predatory animals, with others being against it.
TYPICAL TWEEK CRIME
On June 13, 2015 a person living on Caspar Orchard Road in Caspar, California reported to the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office that during the night persons unknown had stolen 41 redwood split rails from the fencing along their private road. The victim provided the Deputy investigating the theft with a description of the rails and the Deputy was also able to examine rails that had not been stolen. The Deputy provided a description of the stolen property and details of the theft to other Mendocino County Deputy Sheriffs. On June 16, 2015, at approximately 5:30pm, another Deputy saw a black Dodge Durango loaded with redwood split rails parked alongside Highway 1 at the intersection of Simpson Lane. The Deputy contacted the occupant of the vehicle, John Cooley Jr., 38, of Fort Bragg, and examined the redwood split rails. The redwood split rails matched those stolen both in dimension, appearance, and also in number stolen. Cooley was detained and the victim was called to the scene and he positively identified the lumber as previously composing his fence. Cooley was also found to be in possession of a pipe for smoking methamphetamine. The redwood split rails were seized, as was the methamphetamine smoking pipe. Cooley was issued a citation for Possession of Stolen Property and a device for ingesting methamphetamine and released on his signed promise to appear in court.
ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Re The Berkeley Balcony Collapse: “This will be a collection of wrongful death lawsuits and the people involved were young. This massively increases the damages when projecting the potential income during the lifetime of each individual. Then you have the pain and suffering of the families. Everyone who survived will have claims too. The cases are a plaintiffs' attorney's dream. No way this goes to court. The insurance policies will pay out maximum claims. The actual concern is that there will not be enough insurance available to pay out the millions of dollars at issue here. Construction is not an easy business and even a 'big' developer will not have assets to pay out for these claims if the insurance money comes up short.”
ON JUNE 6th at about 12:05 AM Ukiah Police responded to 1000 Despina Drive for a traffic collision. Officers learned a 2006 Volvo was being driven north on Despina Drive and was occupied by four male juveniles. The vehicle’s occupants reported seeing a 1988 Ford Van being driven at a high rate of speed and screeching its tires as the van turned from Low Gap Road onto Despina Drive. A fifth male juvenile was intending to enter the Volvo and saw the van approaching at over 50 miles per hour.
The van, being driven by 27 year old Kenneth William Moore, collided into the rear of the Volvo without slowing or breaking, causing significant damage to both vehicles. None of the occupants of either vehicle were injured, but Moore had been drinking and was determined to be too intoxicated to drive and was arrested for DUI and for driving without a driver’s license. An acquaintance of Moore’s, 20 year old Brandee Michelle Lyons, approached the scene during this investigation with a dog on a leash. Lyons interrupted and asked repeated questions of the officers while they were attempting to speak with Moore, and at one point refused to leave the center of the roadway for her own safety despite the officers’ repeated requests to do so. The officers found Lyons had been drinking and tried again to get her to remove herself and her dog from the roadway, and finally had to physically move Lyons towards safety as she became hysterical. Lyons refused to release the dog leash, and the dog began trying to bite the officers and had to be subdued with pepper spray. The officers had to cut the leash from Lyons’ hand to be able to secure the dog safely, and arrested Lyons for public intoxication and resisting arrest.
ON JUNE 7th at about 4:35 AM Ukiah Police responded to a residence in the 700 block of Mendocino Drive for a domestic violence incident. Officers learned 38 Ronald Alfred Romero, of Willits, and the victim became involved in an argument, and Romero hit the victim in the face and head numerous times. At one point Romero placed the victim into a chokehold, and also kicked the victim while telling the victim he intended to kill her. The victim had visible injuries on her face and head. Romero had fled the presence but was located hiding in a nearby creek bed and was arrested for domestic violence, assault with a dangerous weapon, imprisonment, and threats.
STATE RESTRICTS RUSSIAN RIVER WELL WATER.
Winemakers, small farmers and rural residents near the Russian River, accustomed to reveling in Mother Nature’s bounty, were slapped with restrictions on well water use Wednesday, including a ban on lawn watering, in the latest effort by the state to cope with a fourth year of drought.
MARCO McCLEAN COMMENTS: “The best answer to these problems — in addition to handing Mary Aigner her final paycheck and keeping her cleaning deposit, and if board/management will not allow a regularly scheduled truly open conversation on the air — is to put an open unmoderated public forum on the KZYX webpage, that airpeople and boardmembers and the public interested in the workings of the station can all read and participate in, out in the light of day. I've suggested that several times. I have had no indication that it got past Stuart [Campbell], who replied simply, ‘We're not going to do that.’ Here's a start: the individual boardmembers' email addresses, at least, should be on the station's contact page. Matter of fact — and I don't know why this didn't occur to me until now — If you know individual MCPB boardmembers' contact info, send that to me and I'll hold onto it for a week or two, and if I don't see it on kzyx.org I'll just publish it myself. They're all public people engaged in a tax-funded public endeavor and they shouldn't expect to be allowed to go incommunicado like Secret Agent X-9.”
GUNS AREN'T TOYS: EXAMPLE 48,346,912
ON JUNE 18, 2015 at 12:18 AM, Deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office were dispatched to the 100 block of Canyon Drive, in Ukiah, for a reported victim of a gunshot wound. Officers from the Ukiah Police Department arrived on scene along with Deputies. Upon arrival, the victim, a 12 year old male juvenile was located in the roadway suffering from a possible gunshot wound to his face/neck area. First aid and was administered and emergency medical services were called. It was initially reported that the victim and the suspect, Jaime Rodriguez, 19, of Ukiah, were victimized by subjects in a vehicle during a drive-by shooting. Additional investigation revealed that the suspect, victim, and another juvenile had been in the rear yard of the house at 112 Canyon, when the suspect, Rodriguez, produced a handgun and started to manipulate it. According to interviews of the suspect and a witness, the suspect negligently fired the weapon, striking the victim at near point blank range. Rodriguez then carried the victim to the roadway and a neighbor called 911. The 12 year old victim was transported to the Ukiah Valley Medical Center where life saving measures continued. Once the victim was stabilized enough for further transportation, he was flown via air ambulance to an out of county hospital. Jaime Rodriguez was subsequently booked in the Mendocino County Jail for discharging a firearm in a grossly negligent manner, willfully causing great bodily injury to a child, as well as three unrelated arrest warrants. The firearm was recovered and there are no known suspects outstanding. Any persons with knowledge or information about the shooting are encouraged to contact the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigations Unit (707) 234-2100.
(Sheriff’s Press Release)
CATCH OF THE DAY, June 18, 2015
CRAIG BARNETT, Fort Bragg. Possession of meth, violation of community supervision, probation revocation.
EDUARDO CEJA-TORRES, Hayward/Ukiah. Pot cultivation, processing, possession for sale, sale — and evasion.
WILLIAM EVANS, Fort Bragg. Loitering. (Frequent flyer.)
ANTHONY FIELDS, Fort Bragg. Drunk in public, probation revocation.
MIGUEL GONZALEZ, Redwood Valley. Domestic battery, unauthorized entry.
JAIME RODRIGUEZ JR., Ukiah. Burglary, misdemeanor hit&run, negligent discharge of firearm, child endangerment, under influence of controlled substance.
MICHAEL SILVA, Willits. Pot cultivation, processing, possession for sale.
SEQUOYAH VAUGHN, Ukiah. Drunk in public, probation revocation.
FIREWOOD PERMIT SALES RESUME ON JACKSON DEMONSTRATION STATE FOREST
Fort Bragg – California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) Mendocino Unit is pleased to announce the resumption of firewood permit sales on Jackson Demonstration State Forest (JDSF) beginning Monday, June 29, 2015 at 8:00 a.m. Firewood areas will open to firewood permit holders on June 29th and are tentatively scheduled to close on September 30, 2015, or until wood supply is gone, a significant rain event, or other resource constraints force closure, whichever occurs first.
Firewood permits will be limited to two cords per household at a cost of $20.00/permit. After August 17, 2015, depending upon firewood supply, one additional permit may be sold to an individual household for a maximum of four cords.
Firewood permits and information on how to safely engage in collecting firewood are available at the CAL FIRE Fort Bragg office located at 802 North Main Street, Fort Bragg, CA (707) 964-5674. Office hours are 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. (closed from 12-1:00 p.m.) Monday through Friday.
Multiple uses of JDSF for a wide variety of activities that benefit the public, the economy and natural resources are what our demonstration forests are all about.
MENDO HIGHWAY INFO
Route 1 (61.6) – North Coast Rodders of Fort Bragg has been granted a Caltrans Encroachment Permit for the Fort Bragg Car Show near Laurel Street on Saturday, June 20. Event hours are 7AM to 6PM. Turns onto Laurel Street will be restricted. Motorists are advised to drive with caution through the area and may experience minor traffic slowdowns. LC#P1FA
Route 101 (74.1/74.2) – Black Oak Ranch of Laytonville has been granted a Caltrans Encroachment Permit to allow access for the Kate Wolf Memorial Music Festival to be held 4.5 miles north of Laytonville Thursday, June 25 through Sunday, June 28. Motorists are advised to drive with caution through the area and may experience 5-minute delays. LC#P101HA
Route 128 (14.5/23.0) – Culvert rehabilitation at various locations from Wendling Street to Philo School Road will continue. One-way traffic control will be in effect from 6AM to 6PM, weekdays. Motorists should anticipate 10-minute delays. LC#C128CA
CROP DESTRUCTION = WAR CRIME
A few days ago Israeli military tractors totally destroyed thousands of 5-10 year old olive and almond trees located in the Wadi Fukin area of the occupied West Bank planted by local farmers who have lived in the area for generations. The trees were destroyed on the claim that they were illegally planted on state lands. “State lands” is the term used by the Israel government for expropriation of land in the occupied territories of the West Bank. The State of Palestine government says the destruction of property on occupied land is illegal and is a war crime.
I should comment if it is a violation of the Geneva Convention then the state of Palestine would have recourse to the International Criminal Court. This particular action is just a continuation of land expropriation in the occupied territories of the West Bank to build settlements for Jewish settlers. It is part of the apartheid state that discriminates against those who are not of the Jewish faith. Due to demographics as happened in South Africa apartheid cannot be maintained over the long run.
In peace and love,
Jim Updegraff, Sacramento
WON'T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?
It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
It's a neighborly day in this beautywood,
A neighborly day for a beauty,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you,
I've always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.
So let's make the most of this beautiful day,
Since we're together, we might as well say,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won't you be my neighbor?
Won't you please,
Won't you please,
Please won't you be my neighbor?
— Fred Rogers
PUBLIC LAND CELEBRATION!
From the Bureau of Land Management:
On Saturday, June 20, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell will celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) National Conservation Lands, which encompass 874 units and more than 30 million acres of public land across the nation.
Secretary Jewell, former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, BLM Director Neil Kornze, and conservation and community leaders will gather for a public celebration at the King Range National Conservation Area (NCA) – the first unit of the National Conservation Lands system – to highlight the importance of public lands and the success of the BLM’s conservation initiatives.
The King Range NCA covers 68,000 acres and extends along 35 miles of coastline in Humboldt County – a rugged and remote region known as California’s Lost Coast. This spectacular meeting of land and sea, where mountains seem to thrust straight out of the surf, offers recreation opportunities as diverse as the landscape.
WHO: Sally Jewell, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt, Former Secretary of the Interior Janice Schneider, Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Neil Kornze, Director, Bureau of Land Management Jim Kenna, California State Director, Bureau of Land Management
WHAT: 15th Anniversary Celebration of BLM’s National Conservation Lands
WHEN: Saturday, June 20, 2015 11:00 a.m. PDT – Media check-in 11:30 a.m. PDT – Community celebration 12:15 p.m. PDT – Media availability
WHERE: Black Sands Beach Trailhead, King Range National Conservation Area
Directions: From Highway 101 at Redway, follow signs for Shelter Cove, about 21 miles. Look for Beach Road on the right immediately when you enter Shelter Cove and follow signs for Black Sands Beach. GPS location: 40.052511, -124.068220
KIDS’ FARMERS MARKET
Mendocino County Library, Ukiah Branch presents The Kids’ Farmers Market. Summer Wednesdays starting June 17th, 12-2 pm. Ukiah Library is excited to announce the return of the Kids’ Farmers Market. Kids, Bring your homegrown produce, eggs, honey, and handmade crafts and learn how to display and sell your products while you have fun with other young farmers.
HUFFMAN GOES TO THE CLOUDS
Rep. Jared Huffman tries crowdsourcing to battle drought
North Bay congressman is turning to the public for ideas on how to deal with the drought in Congress.
After three years of failure by Congress to address California’s drought, Rep. Jared Huffman invited every Californian on Wednesday to provide ideas and comments on a big new water bill he is drafting, a novel application of crowdsourcing to federal legislation.
The San Rafael Democrat introduced the legislation on his website, soliciting comments from the public and interested parties.
Huffman’s approach is in contrast to secret talks that have been under way since last year between House Republicans from the San Joaquin Valley and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., which have focused on getting more water to farmers.
“Backroom deals and secret water grabs just don’t work,” Huffman said in an interview.
On his website, Huffman accused “some in Congress” of treating the drought “as a political opportunity instead of a moral imperative,” saying they have “dusted off the same political agenda they’ve pursued for years: weakening environmental laws, gutting fishery protections, and redirecting water needed by other regions — and tried to sell it as a drought response.”
Feinstein said in a statement, “I agree with Congressman Huffman that we need a drought bill that benefits different parts of the state, which is why I have met with him to discuss his bill and hope to include some of his ideas in the bill I’m developing. I look forward to continuing to work with him as this process continues.”
Huffman and other Bay Area Democrats have fought Feinstein and House Republicans for years over water, attempting to block efforts to take more from the the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to send to cities and farms to the south.
Huffman’s bill has a heavy emphasis on water recycling and reuse. But it also calls for increased federal spending on techniques he said could stretch supplies by increasing irrigation efficiency, drilling wells, building pipelines and reducing evaporation throughout the delivery system.
For the longer term, the bill calls for a new push on desalination, storm water capture and increased water storage, including speeding dam feasibility studies.
One of the more novel ideas is to use solar panels to cover canals and reservoirs to reduce evaporation loss. For every 1 million acre-feet of water shipped through the federal Central Valley Project, only 850,000 acre-feet are delivered, and the rest is lost to evaporation and seepage, Huffman’s office said. Royalties from the solar-power generation would go to local governments and a new fund for fish and wildlife.
The legislation would draw on a $9 billion fund accumulated by the Bureau of Reclamation over decades that has not been used for water projects.
Huffman said he has been working on the legislation for months, seeking ideas from academics, state and federal water officials, members of Congress and various stakeholders, including farmers and environmentalists. After hearing input from the public, Huffman, the ranking Democrat on the water, power and oceans panel of the House Natural Resources Committee, plans to introduce the legislation this month.
The bill may get scant traction in the Republican-controlled Congress, but Huffman said that’s no reason not to try.
“I would hope the fact that I’m in the minority doesn’t mean good ideas can’t receive consideration in the greatest deliberative body on Earth,” Huffman said. “It’s meant to set a new tone and new approach, because obviously what’s been tried in last three years hasn’t work so well.”
(Courtesy, the San Francisco Chronicle.)
DISCOVERY MUSEUM GRAND OPENING and Ribbon Cutting Celebration — July 11, 2015 10am-4pm
It’s finally here! The Discovery Museum will have a Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting Celebration July 11, 2015 10am. Everyone is invited to visit July 11 free from 10am to 4pm. Thanks to donors we have added a new play garden, kitchen and grocery store area along with a puppet theater and Lego Program. Starting July 14 regular programs will resume with the following schedule:
Regular hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10-4 Sunday 12-4pm Admission cost is $5 for everyone age 2 and older.
- Playgroup Every Tuesday For children ages 0-5 Free 10-11:30
- Young Discoverers Seasonal Preschool Program for children ages 3-5 Drop off program- additional Fee
- Kid’s Alive First Saturday evening program for children age 3-12. 5:30-8pm Drop off Program- additional fee
- Dad and Me Playgroup Every Second Saturday Male roles models and children age 0-5 Free 10:00-11:30
- Third Saturday Young Inventor’s Club Hands on Science Program Free with Museum Admission 10:30-Noon
- Sunday Lego Club Directed Lego building for children 4 and up Free with Museum Admission 12-1:30pm
Thank you to all of our generous donors for helping to make this possible. Updated information can be found on our Facebook page at
NO MORE COMING IN SECOND & WINNING THE PRESIDENCY
by Raph Nader
In the history of the United States, four presidential candidates who came in second in the popular vote were “elected” president (John Quincy Adams in 1824, Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876, Benjamin Harrison in 1888, and George W. Bush in 2000). This inversion of democratic elections was due to the fifty states’ winner-take-all laws and the absurdity of the Electoral College. To political observers in other democratic countries, the U.S. is the laughing stock for their failure to change this system that rejects the popular will.
Change is in the wind. A remarkable civic movement is taking on this overlooked issue. The “National Popular Vote” is successfully pressing for an interstate compact, whereby states pass laws declaring that they will give all their electoral votes to the winner of that national popular vote for president. Presto! Therefore, there is no need for a Constitutional amendment to repeal the Electoral College. What the compact does is align the electoral vote with the popular vote since the Constitution exclusively accords the states the authority to select the manner of choosing its presidential Electors.
Remember from your history book, voters do not vote for presidential candidates directly; they vote for a slate of presidential Electors who then vote for the real candidates.
So far, led by philanthropist Steve Silberstein and his colleagues, 10 states (and the District of Columbia) possessing 165 electoral votes together – or 61% of the 270 electoral votes necessary to prevail – have enacted laws for this interstate compact. They are Rhode Island, Vermont, Hawaii, Maryland (the first to do so), Massachusetts, Washington, New Jersey, Illinois, New York and California. (Visit nationalpopularvote.com for state-by-state details and the list of their bi-partisan advisory board with both retired Republican and Democratic Members of the Congress.)
There are numerous other benefits of this long-overdue reform that is backed by public opinion polls in the past few decades (http://www.gallup.com/poll/2140/americans-support-proposal-eliminate-electoral-college-system.aspx). With such a reform, presidential candidates will become more likely to campaign in more states, regardless of whether they are “blue” states, “red” states, or closely divided states. Presidential elections will no longer be focused in a tiny number of “battleground states,” such as Florida, Ohio, Virginia, and Iowa.
In 2012, a majority of the general election presidential campaign events were just in those four states. That means most Americans never see these candidates in their states to meet, question, support, or oppose them. Mitt Romney did not campaign in California or New York; while Barack Obama did not campaign in South Dakota or Texas.
As a presidential candidate, I always thought ignoring states, by so pragmatically reflecting the winner-take-all Electoral College, was disrespectful to the American people of the states who were visited less frequently or not at all. Each time I ran for president, I campaigned in all fifty states, though there was no need for me to be concerned about the winner-take-all rule.
This interstate compact, once it reflects a majority of the electoral votes – enough to elect a president (270 of 538) – assures that, in Mr. Silberstein’s words, “every vote, in every state, will matter in every presidential election.” When people know that their vote matters, they are going to be more motivated to turn out to vote.
Beyond the aforementioned four instances in which the second place candidate in the popular vote became president, there were more close calls. Mr. Silberstein explains that “a shift of 59,393 votes in Ohio in 2004 would have elected John Kerry despite President Bush’s nationwide lead of over 3,000,000 votes. A shift of 214,393 votes in 2012 would have elected Mitt Romney despite President Obama’s nationwide lead of almost 5,000,000 votes.”
With importance placed on the popular vote over the electoral vote, voter suppression or messing with the counting of the votes in specific swing states (i.e.: Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004) will not be as likely.
The present skewed system gives more importance to a tiny number of “battleground” states, which tip the election. Politicians favor these states with more visits and more tangible benefits once the candidate is in office. Perhaps it is a coincidence, but, as pointed out by National Popular Vote, “battleground” states receive 7% more federal grants than ‘spectator’ states, twice as many presidential disaster declarations, more Superfund enforcement exemptions and No Child Left Behind exemptions.”
Applying my theory that it takes one percent or less of the citizenry to make major changes in American government (so long as they reflect majoritarian opinion), this tiny group, the National Popular Vote, could be nearing an historic triumph with their educational and advocacy efforts at the state legislative level.
There is a lot of talk these days about growing inequality in the country. That inequality is exacerbated by the lack of direct influence in elections that a popular vote would give those currently underrepresented groups. This nationwide citizen drive working to reduce inequality among voters could be an important step toward closing the inequality gap.
To join the effort for the national popular election of the president, go to nationalpopularvote.com for clear and crisp guides toward becoming a participant in your state.
Ralph Nader’s latest book is: Unstoppable: the Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State.