- Privatized Fraud
- FB Secrecy
- SEIU Agreement
- Experience Mendo
- Yesterday's Catch
- Police Reports
- For All We Know
- Muniz Petition
- Bohos Congregate
- Sports Fans
- Warriors Stadium
- Land/Food Events
- California Speaking
- Women's Retreat
- Library Armor
- Stop Fracking
- Madam President
- Thirsty Cows
- Drought Response
WE’RE AMAZED that no one in Official Mendocino County seems upset in the least about Mental Health Director Tom Pinizzotto — a former Ortner executive — negotiating billing rates and Mental Health contracts with his old pals at Ortner Management Group.
WE HAVE Supervisor Dan Gjerde pointing out that Ortner is overcharging for administration.
WE HAVE Ortner’s bill showing that they’re overcharging for case management (and probably more, buried deep in their nearly unreadable bills).
WE HAVE the Grand Jury’s report from last year pointing out in chapter and verse that Mr. Pinizzotto has an obvious “appearance” of a conflict of interest, i.e., an actual conflict of interest if not a technically illegal one.
SINCE Pinizzotto oversees Ortner’s Mental Health activities and acts as gatekeeper for information to the Board of Supervisors and the public, and since he's a former Ortner employee who negotiated privatization of roughly half of Mendocino County's mental health services (valued at $7 to $8 million annually) with Ortner and then went to work as an administrator with the unprivatized part of Mendocino County's mental health services, how could this NOT be an illegal conflict of interest?
WE HAVE a Mental Health Advisory Board that doesn’t interest itself in finances or actual delivery of services, which causes us to wonder how that board views its function. What is its reason for being?
WE STILL HAVE a bloated County Mental Health department — also overseen by Pinizzotto — in spite of most of the work supposedly having been farmed out to Ortner Management Group, a private for-profit business, and Redwood Children’s Management Company, another private business.
WE HAVE A Board of Supervisors (well, four of them anyway — Hamburg is either oblivious or complicit) who seem interested in looking into some aspects of the Mental Health Department’s finances but never gets around to actually doing it.
WE HAVE a small army of free-range nuts and drug-addled Mendolanders who get no “service” and cause a lot of trouble and expense because a huge chunk of the Mental Health money is not going anywhere near them. Instead, we have the Ortner people offering alleged services like Tai Chi and Geezers Talking To Each Other (“Senior Peer Counseling”) being charged out by the minute as a “Mental Health Service.”
WE HAVE this private contractor, Ortner, in business to make a profit for its owners deciding who gets what mental health service based largely on ability to pay or insurance coverage.
AND WE HAVE Ortner (via a subcontractor) about to move in to the Old Coast Hotel in downtown Fort Bragg where they will surely expand their admin services even more because Ortner has yet to bill at his full spending authority rate rubberstamped by the supervisors.
WE HAVE HHSA Director Stacey Cryer saying — admitting, really, after more than two years of privatization experience — they have a lot to learn about the process, and admits that the County and Ortner are still performing duplicate administrative functions.
WE HAVE AN ongoing multi-million dollar mental health deficit caused by state denials of mental health service reimbursement claims, which drains money away from other important county programs, including law enforcement which has become Mendocino County's de facto mental health services provider although we're paying a private provider between $7 and $8 million annually to care for this county's adult walking wounded.
AND WE HAVE the Board of Supervisors throwing even more money at this badly broken and corrupt mess via two recent $500k Mental Health contract amendments and the pending $150k “Stepping Up” initiative as if any real good is being done for the bulk of the Mentally Ill with these wasted tax dollars.
HOW BAD DOES THIS HAVE TO GET before somebody at least audits this stinking pile of privatized administrative manure?
CALLING DA EYSTER: Is fraud still a crime? Isn’t Pinizzotto’s position illegal?
FORT BRAGG: OUTSIDE LOOKING IN
An obvious fact of life is that local government is as it were by definition perilous to freedom. The power that is conferred by even apparently minor offices creates tremendously fertile soil for the cultivation of crafty schemes and profitable public manipulation. Therefore, any local government is basically about the rules that protect the people from their officials.
California is of course in many respects a world leader. In California, officials are held to account, at least in large part, by the elegant little Brown Act. This short chapter, a mere 668 words has the power and beauty of expression that one finds in other mighty documents of freedom. To quote from the opening paragraph of the act, and speaking of public officials
…it is the intent of the law that their actions be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly.
The people of this State do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.
Every action, protocol and procedure is informed by these provisions of the Brown Act.
Recently, the people of the City of Fort Bragg undertook the hard task of the reform of a defiant, out of control, hostile city government. At issue was a spate of development that the people knew at a glance to be entirely undesirable in every sense.
City hall planned to rip up our main street for what they called a “merge project”; they undertook a fight to the death with the community on behalf of a developer who intends to build a vastly ugly shopping center on one of our best and most used green areas; and they ignited the revolution by a really bad proposal to participate in probable tax evasion, trample the Brown Act, and make a sweetheart deal with the gang that has a lock on homeless money, a considerable pile.
Now they proposed to gut our beautiful historic Old Coast Hotel and turn it into fancy offices for the social services industry and the distributors of psychotropic drugs to the homeless. To replace, in other words, in the center of our city, what had once been a main driver of our local tourist economy, a banal monument to dependency, institutionalization and prescription drug distribution with the broad objective of controlling the behaviors of street people.
It was too much, people approached the elected leadership and got nothing but insults, really bitter ones. And the city government was so arrogantly complacent, so utterly unwilling to listen or compromise that they forced a lawsuit, undertaken as a last resort by exemplary citizens. Besides the lawsuit, there was an effort to recall the mayor. And a ballot initiative to preserve downtown zoning was qualified, as The City, foot dragging throughout, was finally forced to certify it. Now the matter will go before the people on the ballot and the hotel deal is stopped.
As the public discourse and debate on the matter proceeded over the last half-year, a series of emails between city officials was at one point made public. A city official released them to the political opposition and then promptly retired. These emails reveal in graphic detail what was already understood by the people. The deal for the acquisition of the hotel had been made not just with the help of The City but had been aggressively pursued by The City as somehow an exciting opportunity. The City got a big public grant using city time, city expertise, city people as the private owners of the Coast Hotel proposed an outrageous tax avoiding scheme where the seller got almost 2 million dollars in write-offs and another million from the state. The city officials didn’t tell anybody officially, but they got their heads together, sent the emails flying among themselves, conferenced and conversed and generally got so personally excited that they were just barely able to avoid violating the Brown Act. They may have avoided violation by carefully limiting the number of city council members that were mentioned in their emails. But it was a very close thing. If one more city councilman had even seen one more email, it all would have been illegal. Or if it can be proved that one more guy knew of any of it, they will still be flatly busted.
What can't be disputed is that what the Fort Bragg government apparatus did do was to make a deal before there was any public notification and then defended their deal to the death against public outrage. They limited notification to the pubic to the absolute legal minimum, (four days), refused any kind of dialogue. They declined to hold public meetings, and even when they were sued just flat deadpanned to the indignant people that they'd done everything by the book. The Brown Act says that “the people insist on remaining informed so that they can retain control over the instruments [the city government] that they have created.” In this case the city council acted in secrecy and defended their secret deal by subterfuge and misrepresentation. The Brown Act says “the people do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies that serve them.” In this case the officials of local government insisted upon their own sovereign right to determine policy without public participation or knowledge, and then fought for their deal by all means fair and foul against the people. The violation is that they did it in deliberate secrecy.
What will the Grand Jury say?
COUNTY AGREES TO TWO-STEP PAY INCREASE FOR BIGGEST BARGAINING UNIT
Agreement Reached With Service Employees’ International Union (SEIU), Local 1021
Following a three day negotiation process, the County of Mendocino and the employees represented by the County’s largest bargaining unit, Service Employees’ International Union (SEIU) Local 1021, reached a tentative two-year labor agreement.
The term of the agreement is July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2017. It includes a 5% salary increase over two years along with other benefit increases.
Board of Supervisors Chair Carre Brown, stated “It is very important to recognize our employees for their work providing County services to our citizens. As the County continues to slowly recover financially from the economic downturn, so must our employees. The County values their dedication and contributions at all levels of the organization.”
Helen Michael, Mendocino County Chapter President of SEIU Local 1021 stated, “Although it's not everything we wanted for our members, this contract is the step in the right direction. It shows that when both parties are willing to compromise we can reach an agreement that can work. There's been a positive shift in the tone of communications with each other as well, that has enabled us to work on the important issues in a more productive manner and we hope that can continue going forward.”
Chief Executive Officer, Carmel Angelo stated, “I am grateful for the productive nature of our communication with the SEIU team, as well as their dedication to reaching an agreement. Ultimately this resulted in an agreement which provides well deserved benefits to employees in a manner that is sustainable for the County organization.”
The details of the tentative agreement will be posted online and made available with the publication of the July 22, 2015 amendment to the Board of Supervisors Agenda.
— Carmel J. Angelo, Chief Executive Officer
CATCH OF THE DAY, July 17, 2015
ZANE ADLUM, Willits. Possession of dangerous fireworks without permit.
RICHARD EDWARDS, Ukiah. Dirk/dagger.
JENNIFER GARCIA, Ukiah. Dirk/dagger, probation revocation.
MICHAEL GRANT, Ukiah. DUI, DUI-suspended license.
RICHARD GUZMAN, Stockton/Willits. Harboring a wanted felon.
COREY HEINE, Ukiah. Loitering/prowling.
ARTHUR HOBBS, Boonville. Probation revocation.
JANIE KAAIHUE, Ukiah. Felony vandalism.
DAVID KROLL, Ukiah. Drunk in public.
SHEILA LEGGETT, Ukiah. Petty theft.
JAMES MORRIS, Willits. Parole violation.
KENNETH STANTON, Clearlake/Redwood Valley. Sale, transport, furnish pot.
MERLIN YTTRIE, Ukiah. Failure to register.
ON JULY 10 2015 at about 331 PM Ukiah Police responded to Subway, 130 N. Orchard Ave, regarding an intoxicated male subject. This subject was later identified as 47 year old Ukiah transient David Kroll. Kroll had entered into Subway and smashed his alcoholic beverage he had been carrying onto the ground causing it to splatter onto customers inside the business. Upon contact with Kroll officers found that he was extremely intoxicated and was placed under arrest for public intoxication. (Ukiah PD Press Release)
* * *
ON JULY 13 2015 at about 139 AM, Ukiah Police responded to the Voll Motel, 628 N. State St., regarding a domestic disturbance in which a female subject was heard yelling, “Don’t hurt me” from inside the room 10. Upon arrival officers learned that 25 year old Ukiah resident Lonnie Hesser had been involved in an argument with the victim and that during this argument Hesser had pushed the victim causing injury. Hesser was also found to be in possession of three credit cards that did not belong to him. The owner of the credit cards was contacted and officers learned the owner was unaware the cards had been taken from where they had been stored in the home and that Hesser did not have permission to be in possession of them. Hesser was arrested for domestic battery and possession of stolen property. (Ukiah PD Press Release)
* * *
ON JULY 14 2015 at about 1003 PM, a Ukiah Police officer attempted to stop a black Harley Davidson motorcycle being driven by 32 year old Ukiah resident Jerimiah Valador for a traffic violation in the 400 block of N. State Street. As the officer attempted to initiate the traffic stop, Valador turned eastbound onto W. Henry Street, traveling the wrong direction on the one-way road. Ukiah Police followed after Valador using lights and siren in an attempt to stop Valador. Valador refused to stop leading Ukiah Police north onto N. School Street traveling in excess of 50 MPH through the residential area, then onto Scott St and back to N. State St where Valador ran the red traffic control signal. Once back on N. State St, Valador proceeded north on N. State St reaching speeds in excess of 70 MPH as he continued to evade officers going through the intersections of Low Gap and State, Empire and State, Lake Mendocino and State in which he crossed into oncoming traffic to avoid being stopped in traffic due to the red traffic control signals. Officers continued to pursue after Valador at speeds of 60 to 100 MPH until reaching the intersection of N. State Street and West Road in Redwood Valley. From West Rd. Valador proceeded to School Way and then to East Rd traveling south towards Highway 20. Valador approached the intersection of East Road and Highway 20, CHP had blocked the intersection which forced Valador to a stop. Valador was arrested without further incident and booked into the Mendocino County jail for evading an officer, reckless driving and resisting or delaying an officer. (Ukiah PD Press Release)
FOR ALL WE KNOW
For all we know
We may never meet again
Before you go
Make this moment sweet again
We won't say goodnight
Until the last minute
I'll hold out my hand
And my heart will be in it
For all we know
This may only be a dream
We come and we go
Like the ripples of a stream
So love me, love me tonight
tomorrow was made for some
tomorrow may never come
for all we know.
— J. Fred Coots, Sam Lewis
RAMSEY MUNIZ has been serving a life sentence without parole since 1994 due to a nonviolent drug-related offense. He was a prominent and ardent Chicano attorney who ran for Governor of Texas, in the Seventies. Mr. Muniz, now age 70 and in poor health, is struggling to stay alive among violent young gangs, at the Beaumont Federal Prison. (Visit http://bit.ly/10H6ndd for more information.)
That's why I signed a petition to President Barack Obama, which says:
"Dear President Obama:
Please free Ramiro R. Muniz (40288-115) from federal prison. He is age 70, in poor health and struggling to survive gang violence in the Beaumont Federal Prison. (For more information, visit http://bit.ly/10H6ndd)"
Will you sign this petition? Click here:
ONE PERCENTERS GATHER IN MONTE RIO
ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Not to worry. Tuned into a local AM sports talk radio program today whilst working around the property.
All Star Game coming up! Home Run Derby! $20 million per year salaries are commonplace, a decent ball player making a mere $5 million is considered underpaid. You could tell people who call in, all men, in the middle of the workday (I work at nite) are deeply emotionally invested in the fate of their favorite team, their favorite player, the upcoming series, what trades need to be made, who needs to be cut, who needs a better contract, about the whole construct of professional mass spectator sports (which I believe is not really sports but a highly specialized form of work). You can immerse yourself in this stuff and not really know or care what’s going on in the outside world, and really suffer no consequence for it.
AGAIN: Why do the Warriors need a new stadium?
(Courtesy Rob Anderson, District 5 Diary)
ANDERSON VALLEY LAND TRUST SUMMER FUNDRAISER: On Saturday, July 25, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., at Stoney Bottom Gardens in Boonville. This will be a farm-fresh dinner featuring vegetables, fruits and meats from local producers. There will be live music by Bob Day, a tour of the gardens and a silent auction, featuring a variety of art collectibles, tours, overnight accommodations and special cellar selections from local vintners. Tickets are $100 per person and include food and wine; they are available at www.andersonvalleylandtrust.org/events or email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 895-3150.
The Anderson Valley Foodshed and KZYX presents The 6th annual Not-So-Simple Living Fair: Friday, July 24 through Sunday, July 26, at the Mendocino County Fairgrounds in Boonville. There will be workshops, live music and speakers. Tickets are $30 per day, or $40 for the weekend in advance, $35 per day, or $50 for the weekend at the gate. Saturday night only is $15. Camping is $10 per car per night. No dogs allowed. For more information go to notsosimple.info; 901-7080.
THERE ARE THOSE who think that California is a state where Spanish speakers should have natural sway. And there are those who think that this is a state where English speakers have preeminence, and there are those who insist that if we have any sense of history, of decency, the native peoples of California should be given the first seat at the table. And then there are those who have no idea at all about the history of the state and do not care. — Dave Eggers, The Actual Hollister
WOMEN TO RETREAT!
Now is the time to sign up for the 7th annual Mendocino Women’s Retreat at River’s Bend in Philo this September 18-20! This year’s theme is ESSENCE — exploring our authentic selves through journeying, singing, dancing, painting and connecting with nature. We create a safe space in which to shed accumulated layers of roles and conditioning to set our true essence free. All women welcome! For more information and to register, go to: www.mendocinowomensretreat.com or call Laura at 937-1222. River's Bend Retreat Center is a beautiful secluded site on the Navarro River. Accommodations range from lovely private rooms to shared rooms to camping. The cost for 3 days varies according to accommodations and includes 6 delicious catered meals and all activities. Some limited scholarships are available. — Karin Uphoff
RICK WEDDLE WRITES:
Seeing is believing — said the realpolitik believer believing is seeing with 'qualifications,' . . . blinders choosing the lesser of two evils like there's a 'lesser,' over and over and acting like anything good ever can come of it, over and over turn your back and look away like you did your part free and clear yet again and wash your hands and wash your hands far into the 'water shortage' and claim all plausible deniability permanent weather forecast: 'warming conditions' how they do it like you had no way of knowing and no part when the last remnants of the glaciers finally give up and turn loose, afloat in their own meltwater, and head for the seas, all avalanche, lahar, and seismic wave-o-rama, maybe then you'll see.
GAUNTLETS & SHIELDS
Mendocino County Library, Ukiah Branch Presents Gauntlets and Shields: A Maker Space on Wednesday, August 12, 3 pm - 6 pm. Make bottle tab gauntlets and duct tape shields on Wednesday, August 12th, from 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm, at the Ukiah Library in preparation for our Cosplay Teen Summer Reading Bash on Saturday, August 15th from 4:30 pm -7:30 pm.
MY TEN POINT PLAN TO STOP FRACKING AND OCEAN/ESTUARY DESTRUCTION IN CALIFORNIA
by Dan Bacher
In response to one of my articles about offshore fracking, a reader asked, "What can we do here right now?" So here's my ten point plan to fight fracking and the destruction of our oceans and estuaries by fracking and other harmful activities by ocean industrialists and corporate interests.
- People should support a complete ban on fracking in California, as called for by Californians Against Fracking and other groups. This can be done through local bans, as well as by putting pressure on Governor Brown to ban fracking statewide. Unfortunately, Brown has rejected the call for a statewide plan to date.
- Activists should mobilize support for Senator Mike McGuire's SB 788, which I strongly support. This bill protects a marine protected area off the Tranquillon Ridge from oil drilling by removing an oil industry loophole in the California Coastal Sanctuary Act. I also urge folks to support Senator Holly Mitchell's legislation addressing the Refugio State Oil Spill. The only problem here is that I fear the oil industry will either defeat these bills, eviscerate them with bad amendments or get Jerry Brown to veto them if they ever pass the Legislature. (http://sandiegofreepress.org/2015/06/state-senate-passes-bill-banning-new-offshore-drilling/)
- Activists should educate themselves about the role of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and Big Oil in California politics - and work to reduce their enormous influence by supporting movements like the Move to Amend and campaigns for more openness and transparency in California politics. (http://www.eastbayexpress.com/SevenDays/archives/2015/02/06/big-oil-group-spent-89-million-last-year-lobbing-jerry-brown-and-california-officials)
- People should support groups, such as the Center for Biological Diversity in their lawsuits against fracking and offshore oil drilling, as well as regional, grassroots efforts to ban offshore oil drilling, including the campaign to declare a Chumash National Marine Sanctuary.
- Activists should push for an independent investigation into the strange role of Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) as both a "marine guardian" and a Big Oil lobbyist. She must be questioned about what she knew about offshore fracking off the California coast while she was both serving as the WSPA President and the Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called "marine protected areas" in Southern California. (http://www.calitics.com/diary/15750/lobbyist-for-oil-pipeline-company-oversaw-creation-of-fouled-marine-protected-areas)
- Activists should pressure the Fish and Game Commission and Brown administration to permanently ban oil drilling, fracking, pollution, military testing and corporate aquaculture in marine protected areas, as the Marine Life Protection Act of 1999 empowered them to do.
- Activists should begin organizing more creative, effective direct actions highlighting and bringing to public attention the oil industry's power in California, such as maybe doing a march on Chevron, Aeera Energy or WSPA offices in California.
- More activists in Southern California should join with their sisters and brothers in Northern California opposing Jerry Brown's Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the fish-killing Delta tunnels. If the Bay Delta Estuary, the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas, is destroyed by this project, it will greatly impact the salmon, halibut, anchovy, herring, sardine, crab, striped bass, lingcod, rockfish and other fish populations along the West Coast from Southern Washington to Southern California. And the water from the tunnels will inevitably go to support fracking and steam injection operations by the oil industry in Kern County. (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2015/07/09/18774688.php)
- People should support the Pledge of Resistance campaign to fracking, oil trains and the Tar Sands pipelines that is starting to mobilize. Not everybody feels comfortable doing the more strident type of direct actions, but those who are willing to do so need to grow greatly in numbers.
- Finally, for the most important solution - public trust advocates should form a new grassroots coalition, led by Indigenous Leaders, to connect the different water issues that impact one another, including the Shasta Dam Raise, Twin Tunnels, fracking, ocean oil spills, fish kills at the Delta pumps, the near extinction of Delta smelt and winter run Chinook salmon, dam removal on the Klamath River, California's deeply-flawed Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative, and Big Oil, Big Ag and corporate control of the regulatory apparatus.
We may not agree on everything, but at least there would be a forum to bring up these issues, network with one another and move forward on concrete plans and actions that we agree upon. I've found that many well meaning activists aren't aware of the direct, undeniable connection between the expansion of fracking in California and the Shasta Dam raise and the tunnels plan - and we need to better educate the activist community, as well as bringing new activists into the fold.
Before embarking on new organizing campaigns, people should incorporate the insights of experienced organizers, such as those Micah White, the cocreator of Occupy Wall Street, regarding the effectiveness of protests on the current political scene.
FIRST WOMAN PRESIDENT?
by Robert Fantina
There is currently much excitement in the United States about the possibility of the first woman president. The U.S. made history in 2008, with the election of the first African-American president, and now much of the liberal elite is agog about the very real viability of a woman candidate.
Of late, this writer, too, has begun to share some enthusiasm about the possibility of a woman in the White House, and as he has studied the platform and policies of the candidate, his excitement grows. As recently as July 14 he listened to an interview with this candidate, Dr. Jill Stein of the Green Party, and his enthusiasm increased. A few points will highlight the reasons for this excitement.
Stein stated clearly that the U.S.’s current policies in the Middle East are destructive, and calls for an immediate end to drone attacks. She further states that U.S. foreign policy should be based on international law, and points to the recent agreement with Iran which, although far from perfect, is a good example.
Support for governments that violate international law would immediately end under a Stein presidency. This includes all funding to Israel.
The U.S. continues to ‘fix’ problems by doing more of what caused them in the first place. By changing the policy of funding and supplying weaponry to any repressive government or rebel group that seems to support U.S. interests, to one of adherence to international law, the creation of such groups as ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) will cease.
Under a Stein presidency, the military economy would transition to a green economy, with decreased dependence on fossil fuels, and an end to subsidies for military contractors. The U.S. makes more money from weapons sales than any other nation on the planet. This, of course, stimulates the economy, but a green alternative would also create jobs, and do so without causing the deaths of countless millions around the world. Additionally, the justified hatred that much of the world feels towards the U.S. would fade, as the U.S. becomes a more responsible player on the world stage.
The minimum wage would immediately be raised to $15.00 an hour. As Dr. Stein pointed out, more money in the hands of workers will enable them to put more of that money back into the economy, by purchasing items that are currently out of their financial reach. So an increased minimum wage would not be a ‘job killer’, as the corporate-owned members of Congress continually claim.
Today, tens of millions of U.S. citizens are burdened by crushing student loan debt. Dr. Stein would forgive that debt, again freeing those citizens to put more of their money back into the economy. It would have the additional benefit of showing the citizenry that the U.S. does, indeed, value education, and that the government sees higher education as something more than just another cash cow.
Every four years, the U.S. government supplies its citizens with the farce of elections between two candidates bought and paid for by corporate America. As much as people decry the similarities between the Democratic and Republican Parties, and highlight the need for a third party, such a move is not what the elite rulers of the U.S. want. Dr. Stein does not accept corporate donations; that, in and of itself, may be seen as sufficient to sink her candidacy into oblivion. Her platform says this: “Enact electoral reforms that break the big money stranglehold and create truly representative democracy….” With corporate ‘personhood’ enshrined in the U.S. by a truly bizarre decision of the Supreme Court, Dr. Stein will have no support from those who see her as threatening to their power.
During her interview on July 14, Dr. Stein quoted Alice Walker: “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” A look at both recent history and current events demonstrates that people do have more power than they may generally believe. The U.S. fought the Vietnamese people for years, and it can reasonably be argued that that pointless, illegal and immoral war would have lasted years longer, if citizens of the U.S., and around the world, had not made their opposition known, not just at the ballot box, where there was little opportunity ever to do so, with one war-mongering candidate running against another, but in the streets. South Africa may have remained an apartheid nation, if people around the world had not condemned its racist policies, with effective boycotts. Today, Israeli government spokespeople have stated that the ‘Boycott, Divest and Sanction’ (BDS) movement is a threat to its very existence; the mighty U.S. fully supports apartheid Israel, but people in the U.S. and around the world are recognizing their power, and using it to further the cause of human rights.
The nomination and election of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may appear to be a foregone conclusion. After all, in a country whose elections rely on money, Mrs. Clinton is expected to raise close to $2 billion dollars to purchase the presidency; a very tidy sum, provided by the corporations that own her, and that will have every reason to expect her complaisance to their every wish, should she move into the White House. And the alternatives in the multi-ring circus known as the Republican Party are no different; they all owe their allegiance to the wealthy individuals and corporations that support them, who have no interest in human rights at home or abroad, but only seek to increase the size of their own bank accounts, or rearrange society according to their own misogynist, racist and homophobic views.
No candidate can be seen as the new messiah; many saw candidate Barack Obama in that role in 2008, and, with just a few notable exceptions, it has been business as usual for the last six years. One hesitates to say that change is possible in the United States; that combination of words sounds ridiculously naïve, but the Stein candidacy does show some potential. It is long past time for the public to look beyond the Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee of the Republican and Democratic Parties, and look for real change. Perhaps, in 2016, the Green Party can help to usher in such a change.
Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).
HUFF DECRIES REPUB DROUGHT BILL
Rep. Huffman Votes Against Flawed, Divisive House Republican Water Bill
Jul 16, 2015 Press Release
Huffman: “If my colleagues on the other side of the aisle would just give up on the idea of ramming the same divisive ideas through Congress every few months, we too, might be able to make some progress on solving water problems.”
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), Ranking Democrat on the Water, Power, and Oceans Subcommittee today led the Democratic effort to oppose a divisive, flawed, and cynical House Republican water bill on the floor of the House of Representatives. In contrast to Huffman’s Drought Relief and Resilience Act, today’s legislation, H.R. 2898, would do nothing to alleviate the effects of California’s record drought.
Republican leadership pushed the bill through Congress less than a month after introduction without holding a single legislative hearing on drought response alternatives in the 114th Congress. The bill passed the House on a nearly party-line vote of 245-176.
“We’re back today to consider yet another bill that harms West Coast fisheries and tribal interests, another bill that undermines state law, another bill that micromanages the most complex water system in the world in a way that benefits a select few at the expense of many others across the state of California — another bill that is going nowhere,” Huffman said. “If my colleagues on the other side of the aisle would just give up on the idea of ramming the same divisive ideas through Congress every few months, we too, might be able to make some progress on solving water problems.”
Last month, Huffman introduced comprehensive legislation to respond to the worst drought in California state history, after first unveiling the draft legislation to the public and asking Californians to share comments and ideas to incorporate in the bill. Huffman’s bill, the Drought Relief and Resilience Act, reflects the feedback of nearly 1,000 Californians from San Diego to Crescent City, Fresno to San Francisco, as well as farmers, environmentalists, fishermen, urban and rural Californians, and water managers throughout the country.
Huffman and his Democratic colleagues offered more than 20 amendments to the Republican drought bill in an effort to improve the bill and ensure that it does not hurt his Northern California constituents or other stakeholders throughout the state. However, all but four Democratic amendments were quickly rejected by the Republican Majority without even a vote.
Huffman’s opening statement during floor debate can be viewed HERE. Transcript:
“Good morning Mr. Chairman, I rise to claim time in opposition and yield myself such time as I may consume. It was just last winter that we were here on the House floor talking about another so called drought bill that my Republican colleagues were attempting to slam through the House within just a few days of its introduction.
“This time the bill has a different title, but it’s pretty much the same bill. We’re back today to consider yet another bill that harms West Coast fisheries and tribal interests, another bill that undermines state law, another bill that micromanages the most complex water system in the world in a way that benefits a select few at the expense of many others across the state of California — another bill that is going nowhere.
“We have a SAP from the administration, we have a withering three page letter of opposition critiquing the bill from the Department of Interior. The two largest-circulation papers in California have both editorialized against it. The state of California is on record opposing prior versions of this bill. Now unlike last year, when the House did not allow any amendments to the bill, we’re here today with four out of five Republican amendments made in order and four out of twenty-four Democratic amendments made in order. That may seem like marginal progress over the 113th Congress’ very closed process, but that is no way to do business and certainly no way to get a bill signed into law. With something as complicated and important as California water we really should make sure everyone has a say, and that’s what Democrats have attempted to do.
“We have introduced a drought response bill — H.R. 2983 — which is a comprehensive drought bill. It brings everyone to the table. This bill had six weeks of public review before even being formally introduced, resulting in substantial crowdsourced changes to the bill. Our water future deserves that kind of open debate and real solutions. I have been joined by 34 cosponsors on that bill because it provides both short and long-term investments in water supply reliability, the kind of tools that all Western states will need.
“My bill includes significant resources to support farm workers and others who are out of work, not just lip-service. And I submit that if my Republican colleagues really care about the challenges faced by farm workers and others affected by this drought, they will join us in backing real solutions that provide meaningful assistance, in addition to stretching our limited water supplies.
“Our bill is supported by the association of California water agencies, California sanitation agencies, numerous other water agencies, environmental groups, and stakeholders. And both the L.A. Times and the San Francisco Chronicle have editorialized in favor of the Democratic alternative drought response bill and opposed to the bill we are considering here today.
“Mr. Chairman, let’s have some hearings. Despite the importance of this issue we have held no legislative hearings on drought responses in the 114th Congress. Not on the Majority’s bill, not on my alternative. Let’s have hearings on both bills. Let’s see which one produces the most water, which one produces that water more quickly and which one produces it more cost-effectively and more reliably. I hope that someday, Mr. Chairman, we’ll be discussing real water solutions in that spirit: vetted in an open hearing that can actually produce something that’ll be signed into law instead of the same tired divisive ideas that pit our states’ water users against each other.
“Now, a lot of people have asked me, ‘Why do your Republican colleagues refuse to have serious hearings on their water proposal?’ and I think the answer is pretty clear. Like its predecessors, we are here considering a bill that when it is exposed to public scrutiny, simply falls apart.
“Here’s what the Department of Interior said last week in a letter to our committee, in lieu of testimony of course, because there was no legislative hearing on the bill. They said, and I quote,
‘Instead of increasing water supplies, H.R. 2898 dictates operational decisions and imposes an additional new legal standard; instead of saving water, this could actually limit water supplies by creating new and confusing conflicts with existing laws, thereby adding and unnecessary layer of complexity to state and federal project operations. As a result to this additional standard, we believe H.R. 2898 will slow decision-making, generate significant litigation, and limit the real time operational flexibility that’s so critical to maximizing water delivery.’
“Although the Pacific Fisheries Management Council wasn’t given an opportunity to actually testify on this bill, again because we had no hearings, they opposed last-year’s version. And they wrote to us this week to say that they are on record on what appears to be similar legislation.
“Specifically, they’re concerned about the bill’s provisions that redirect water away from salmon habitat. The closure of the West Coast salmon fishery in 2008 and 2009 required 158 million dollars in federal disaster relief and sadly the rules committee did not allow a vote on our amendment to require a full Pacific Fisheries Management Council review of this legislation.
“There’s no question that this bill explicitly preempts state water law and it waves and weakens the application of bedrock federal environmental laws including the Endangered Species Act and NEPA, but the Rules Committee did not allow a vote on my amendment to protect California water law from preemption nor my amendment to strengthen the water rights protection in the bill.
“It seems that the issue of states’ rights is simply an inconvenient subject when it comes to Republican water legislation. Mr. Chairman, water’s a complex subject, but it doesn’t have to be partisan combat. It doesn’t have to scapegoat environmental laws or pit one region against the other in a zero-sum game.
“I chaired the California Assembly’s Water Committee during the last drought in 2009, and we did it the right way; we held lots of hearings, we brought interests from all over the state together and in the end, although it was a lot of work, through that deliberative transparent process, we produced comprehensive water legislation that was supported by Republicans and Democrats from all corners of the state. Last year, Mr. Chairman, a near-unanimous California legislature agreed on a multi-billion dollar Water Bond that has created significant water reforms in full public view.
“If my colleagues on the other side of the aisle would just give up on the idea of ramming the same divisive ideas through Congress every few months, we too, might be able to make some progress on solving water problems. I reserve the balance of my time.”
I don’t believe in anything, I do
Believe in you.
Down here in hell we do don’t.
I can’t think of anything I won’t.
I amputate your feet and I walk.
I excise your tongue and I talk.
You make me fly through the black sky.
I will kill you until I die.
Thank God for you, God.
My God, it is almost always Christmas Eve this time of year, too.
Then I began to pray.
I don’t believe in anything anyway.
I did what I do. I do believe in you.
Down here in hell they do don’t.
I can’t think of anything we won’t.
How beautiful thy feet with shoes.
Struggling barefoot over dunes of snow forever, more falling, forever, Jews
Imagine mounds of breasts stretching to the horizon.
We send them to their breast, mouthful of orison.
I like the color of the smell. I like the odor of spoiled meat.
I like how gangrene transubstantiates warm firm flesh into rotten sleet.
When the blue blackens and they amputate, I fly.
I am flying a Concorde of modern passengers to gangrene in the sky.
I am flying to area code 212
To stab a Concorde into you,
To plunge a sword into the gangrene.
This is a poem about a sword of kerosene.
This is my 21st century in hell.
I stab the sword into the smell.
I am the sword of sunrise flying into area code 212
To flense the people in the buildings, and the buildings, into dew.