- New Year
- Cold & Wet
- Outlaw Ford
- Big Box
- Costco Ukiah
- Public Transportation
- Daily Case
- Hospitality Remodel
- Big Short
- Project Sanctuary
- Pink Flamingos
- Broadband Alliance
- Ukiah Drinkers
- Yesterday's Catch
- Cosby Busted
- Moving Left
- My Mom
- Solar Victories
- Helicopter Rides
- Retirement Prospects
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
A HARD FREEZE WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT late tonight through Friday morning. Low temperatures will range from the upper 20s to the middle 30s. The coldest temperatures will occur in valleys protected from the wind away from the immediate coast.
COLD OVERNIGHT TEMPERATURES expected through Friday night. An upper level low originating from eastern Canada will bring a cold air mass over northwest California through Saturday. Low temperatures will range from the 20s and teens in many interior areas to the lower 30s and upper 20s near the coast.
THEN, BEGINNING THIS WEEKEND, four to five consecutive days of rain are forecast. Boonville can expect three to four inches over this stretch.
BOONVILLE’S RAINFALL SEASON TOTAL thus far (July 1 through December 31) stands at 13.5 inches.
MALCOLM MACDONALD: BOOK EVENT CHANGE
Friends and readers,
Here's the bad news: Due to a late arriving shipment of books, there aren't enough on hand at Four-Eyed Frog Books in Gualala to justify a reading/signing event this Saturday, January 2nd. The Four-Eyed Frogs event will be re-scheduled for early February.
The first bit of good news is that Outlaw Ford is selling very well and a new shipment is expected in from the printers at the beginning of next week. More good news for those who do their ordering from Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino: they have Outlaw Ford tee shirts.
For this weekend, there are limited numbers of the novel still on sale at book stores throughout Mendocino County. For those living outside Mendocino County, perhaps the easiest place to order copies is at Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino. Simply go to their website: gallerybookshop.com. Type Outlaw Ford into the “Search” category, Add it to your cart, make sure of the number (QTY) of copies you want, and most of you know how to do the rest. If not, give the good folks there a call at 707-937-BOOK. If you want a signed copy, let 'em know, and the Gallery Bookshop people will personally lasso me from the ranch to come sign your Outlaw Ford.
For a preview of the novel and historical photographs of many of its major characters, check out the website: malcolmmacdonaldoutlawford.com.
Gallery Bookshop will be hosting an Outlaw Ford event Saturday, January 16th at 6:30 pm. More on that later.
THE UKIAH CITY COUNCIL gave final approval to Costco nearly two years ago, but it is still being held up by the lawsuit filed by Mr. William Kopper on behalf of a group that was made up for the lawsuit. The four people publicly associated with "Ukiah Citizens for Safety First", all of whom worked for Lucky or Food Maxx, have withdrawn their names from the lawsuit. A couple of them disowned the lawsuit as soon as they were publicly identified with it and the last two withdrew their names from it several months ago. Mr. Kopper refuses to name anyone else associated with the phony group or the law suit. Kopper is the go to guy for CEQA lawsuits to stop or slow down any new Costco or Walmart. Speculation is that the local Costco lawsuit is being bankrolled by either the Retail Clerk's Union or Luckys. The union stands to lose dues paying members and Lucky is likely to be the first grocery store to close as a result of Costco coming to town. Meanwhile, the local economy is being drained of many millions of dollars, local workers are denied a chance at better paying jobs and the City of Ukiah is losing out on a half million or more in sales tax every year. Even Phil Baldwin, the only socialist in public office north of San Francisco, supported Costco coming to Ukiah.
WORD OUT OF UKIAH Thursday was that retired Mendocino Transit Authority honcho/GM Bruce Richard was out of retirement and back at the wheel of Mendo’s underutilized and heavily subsidized and top heavy bus op out of Ukiah.
WE CONTACTED Supervisor Dan Gjerde who’s also on the MTA Board for comment:
“Dan Baxter is no longer the General Manager,” replied Gjerde, as always, responsive to such inquiries. “MTA will conduct an open search for a General Manager. Right now, the General Manager is one of three (or four) management positions that is currently vacant, so the MTA board asked retired General Manager Bruce Richard to step in on a short term basis. One of the first things the MTA board intends to do with a new General Manager is to re-evaluate the job descriptions for MTA's top positions with an eye to possibly curtailing the number of top paid management positions.”
THAT would be long overdue. Let’s hope Mr. Richard, a long-time featherbedder for the famously underused and ill-scheduled transportation service who put his friends in do-little jobs there for years, is not part of the “curtailing.”
WE ALSO ASKED Gjerde about one of the stats in one of the charts in the MTA Board’s Dec. 10, 2015 agenda packet: “It appears that the long routes are averaging around 4 people per hour. Is that right?”
GJERDE REPLIED: “The long routes are a mixed bag. While it's true the routes as a group reported four passengers per hour, at least one of the long routes is typically full. The CC Rider connects passengers in Fort Bragg, Willits, Ukiah and Santa Rosa and is so popular that in 2016 it is doubling its service from one to two vehicles a day. Throughout California, transit operations are subsidized by a statewide half-cent sales tax. Ridership fees must produce a minimum of 17 cents for every dollar of operating costs.”
YOU READ THAT RIGHT: 83% of the cost of the MTA is underwritten by grants and sales tax revenues.
ALSO, we’re glad to hear that at least one of the MTA’s long routes is popular, but the corollary to that means that the rest of the long routes are well below the four riders per hour average. A review of routes and timetables with an eye toward coordinating the rides’ arrivals and departures more in line with the schedules of working people (i.e., earlier starts and later ends) is also overdue.
GJERDE CONCLUDED: “Here in Mendocino County, the half-cent sales tax largely goes to MTA. Smaller allocations also go to senior centers which provide curb-to-curb service for senior citizens, to the Mendocino Council of Governments for transportation planning and to the cities and county for the construction of bicycle and pedestrian facilities.”
THE FLAGRANTLY bogus case against Fort Bragg painting contractor Jack Parke Daily has been tossed by the feds, but not before putting the guy through more than 18 months of the tortures of the damned. The search warrant used as the pretext for Daily's arrest in May of 2014 was found invalid and Daily’s federal case, where local authorities bounced it in the hope of getting the warrant rubberstamped, was tossed last week by a federal district court judge.
* * *
BACKGROUND from AVA Feb. 2015:
JACK P. DAILY, 64, of Fort Bragg, was arrested at 2pm on May 31 on suspicion of possessing marijuana for sale, cultivating marijuana, possessing a controlled substance for sale and possessing methamphetamine, and booked at the county jail under $100,000 bail. The MMCTF arrested him. (— Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force)
THE ARREST by Peter Hoyle, Bruce Smith and Co. of Mr. Jack Parke Daily has taken some odd twists. Represented initially by Coast attorney Mark Kalina, Daily, convinced that the warrant was faulty, expected to have it tossed when he got to court in Ukiah. Instead he was arrested by federal agents.
WAS THE ORIGINAL WARRANT FAULTY? Mendo judges do indeed robo-sign whatever the cops put in front of them, and any challenge to the lazy procedures of the local justice system, top to bottom, is likely to be slam-dunked in the challenger's face.
THE FEDS had apparently been notified by the County's Major Crimes Task Force, aka the Hoyle Gang, that the local boys just might see their robo-warrant for the raid on Daily's home declared illegal and, in a pre-emptive and vengeful attack on Daily, got their federal pals to make Daily a federal case. The feds arrested Daily on the steps of the County Courthouse, Ukiah, as he was on his way to getting the original Hoyle warrant tossed.
THERE is precedent. The Matt Graves case out of Laytonville saw federal involvement from the first raids on Graves' properties in the far north sector of the County, especially after Mendocino County couldn't convict Graves before Mendocino County juries. Graves, like Daily, wound up in the Bay Area as a federal case.
A FEW YEARS AGO, when a local task force raided the home of present Fifth District Supervisor Dan Hamburg, Judge James Luther tossed the Hamburg warrant because it had failed to include Hamburg's Prop 215 (medicinal marijuana) claim. The flawed Hamburg warrant was signed by Judge Richard Henderson who'd once run for Supervisor against Hamburg and for years had been affiliated with Ukiah-area enemies of Hamburg. Judge Luther threw it out, saying that the cops’ failure to include the Prop 215 claim was an “intentional omission.”
DEFENDANT DAILY, who has owned and operated a house painting business in Fort Bragg for nearly twenty years, says that Special Agent Hoyle's original visit to his home in Noyo Harbor was hardly the beginning of a mere Prop 215 inquiry: “It's not like they knocked on the door and asked if I had a legal grow — they kicked the door in with their guns drawn and had me kneel on the floor with guns pointed at me and the house got ransacked. Do the judges know that that's what's going to happen when they sign the search warrant? That's a hard way to find out if I have a medical prescription. Which I did.”
HAULED OUT OF UKIAH by the federal agents, Daily spent a weekend in the Sonoma County Jail before appearing in District Court in San Francisco. "A public defender shook my hand and told me she was going to be my attorney. It seems like I'm just being railroaded into these things. All they do is plea bargain. My attorney is very nice but she's very young and idealistic. When she heard what the investigators said she was very despondent — just like me. She said, ‘I guess it doesn't matter if you have a 25 foot wall around your property, maybe they had a drone, maybe they use Google Earth, maybe they had a ladder and binoculars.’ But that's not what it said on the warrant; it said they looked over my fence, they did not mention those other things. But I'm going to court. I'm fighting it.”
MENDO COAST HOSPITALITY CENTER SEEKS REMODEL BIDS
Despite a vote next June that may make this site "illegal" under the proposed zoning of the Central Business District, the Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center is pressing on in its remodeling of the Old Coast Hotel.
Here's a link to a document the city sent out today @ 10:50 am:
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Over the weekend, my SO and I went to see the movie “The Big Short,” about the housing finance racket and its collapse in 2007-08. (Surprisingly, seeing it was HER idea, and she doesn’t read anything like CFN or similar.) The movie house was packed. Although I often found it hard to follow in detail – and suspect I was far from alone – it seems reasonable to regard the audience to be of folks who already got it in principle. More than once, I found myself thinking: This movie just confirms more than before these folks’ conviction that the system is rigged and has surrendered its legitimacy – no small matter, that. And once, when some character said something about being “smarter than (Alan) Greenspan or (Henry) Paulson,” I found myself bursting out with: “That’s easy.” It got more than a few laughs. I walked out with a higher (if possible) level of disgust, and yet a tad of hope. (Dunderheads and space fantasists wouldn’t be interested in the slightest, regardless of title.) Perhaps my favorite line from the movie (slight spoiler alert): “They’re not confessing. They’re bragging.”
CALL FOR VOLUNTEERS! — PROJECT SANCTUARY
Contact Person: Luz, 707-961-1507
Coastal Volunteer Coordinator - Project Sanctuary
Volunteer Crisis Counselor Training Starts Soon!
The mission of Project Sanctuary is to prevent domestic violence and sexual assault in Mendocino County through advocacy, crisis response, community collaboration, education, and shelter.
Volunteers are essential in operating the program’s 24 hour crisis line. To that end, we are currently accepting applications for the 2016 Volunteer Crisis Counselor Training. In preparation to be a crisis worker, 80-hours of comprehensive training are required. Those completing the training become Certified Crisis Counselors specializing in the area of domestic violence and sexual assault. A one-year commitment is requested upon completion,
The 2016 Training is free of charge and will be held in Fort Bragg. Sessions begin early February 2016 and continue through the end of May.
Applications are now being accepted. Bilingual applicants are encouraged!
For more information, please call Luz at 707-961-1507 or visit us on the web at www.projectsanctuary.org/volunteer to download an application.
THE BROADBAND ALLIANCE of Mendocino County will hold its next Public Meeting on Friday, Jan. 8, 10am - 11:30am at the Community Foundation, 204 S. Oak St., Ukiah. A call-in option is available by dialing : 641-715-3341; Access code: 108 1131#. Please check our website for a schedule of Public Meetings for 2016. www.MendocinoBroadband.org
ON DECEMBER 24th at about 6:10 pm, UPD officers were dispatched to CVS Drug Store on South Orchard, for a possible deceased male between this location and the former Sears stores. Ukiah Fire Department and Paramedics responded to the scene as well. Upon arrival the officer recognized the subject as Charles Hensley age 52 from Ukiah. As UFD and Paramedic staff spoke with Hensley it was clear that he was extremely intoxicated. Hensley was placed under arrest for drunk in public and booked into county jail.
ON DECEMBER 28th at about 2:49 pm, UPD officers were dispatched to Regal Cinemas Ukiah 6 Theater, regarding a subject inside causing a disturbance. Upon arrival officers were directed to theater #2, where the male subject was located. The officer immediately recognized the subject as Kevin Litzin age 41 from Ukiah. As the officers were speaking with Litzin they discovered he was extremely intoxicated. Litzin was placed under arrest for being drunk in public and booked into county jail.
ON DECEMBER 28th at about 10:37 pm, a UPD officer was dispatched to Safeway on South State Street regarding a theft that had just occurred. It was reported that a subject identified as Florentino ‘Turk’ Tobie age 28 had placed a bottle of champagne in his pants and exited the store without paying for it. Tobie was located in the area, arrested for shoplifting and booked into county jail.
ON DECEMBER 29th at about 2:56 pm, a UPD officer was dispatched to Plaza Del Sol on South State Street, regarding a male subject urinating in public. Upon arrival the officer contacted a subject who he knew from prior police contact as Wayne Campbell age 42. Campbell was found to be extremely intoxicated. A records check revealed that Campbell was on probation out this county for with a term of abstain from any alcohol. Campbell was placed under arrest for being drunk in public and violation of his probation. Campbell was booked into county jail.
CATCH OF THE DAY, December 31, 2015
LEARTIS CARADINE, Red Bluff/Ukiah. Community supervision violation.
SAMEUL CORIA, Point Arena. Paraphernalia, false ID, probation revocation.
LARRY CORNETT, Clear Lake/Ukiah. Probation revocation.
MICHAEL DONAHE, Ukiah. Drunk in public, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)
TERRY ELLISON, Covelo. Stolen vehicle, receipt of stolen property, probation revocation.
RICKEY LEWIS, Ukiah. Domestic battery, false imprisonment, child endangerment, court order violation, probation revocation.
HEATHER MARSH-HAAS, Ukiah. Failure to appear.
WANA MATTHIAS, Ukiah. Robbery, conspiracy, receiving stolen property, failure to appear.
MARCIANO PICENO, Ukiah. Under influence.
BRANDEN POWERS, Willits. Domestic assault, child endangerment, damage of cellphone to prevent call for help.
VIRGIL RILEY, Ukiah. Robbery, petty theft, receipt of stolen property, conspiracy.
AARON ROYLANCE, Santa Rosa/Ukiah. Failure to appear.
CLINTON SCHINK, Sanger/Willits. Vehicle theft, stolen vehicle, receiving stolen property, paraphernalia.
RAYMOND SHAMIYA, Daly City/Ukiah. Failure to appear.
JENNIFER SMITH, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
TREVOR TRAPHAGAN, Shasta/Laytonville. Domestic assault.
EXCERPTS FROM 'WHY AMERICA IS MOVING LEFT,' by Peter Beinart:
(Assembled by Tom Wodetzki)
On domestic policy...the terms of the national debate will continue tilting to the left. The next Democratic president will be more liberal than Barack Obama. The next Republican president will be more liberal than George W. Bush. In the late ’60s and ’70s, amid left-wing militancy and racial strife, a liberal era ended. Today, amid left-wing militancy and racial strife, a liberal era is only just beginning.
George W. Bush’s failures pushed the Democratic Party to the left. Barack Obama’s failures have pushed it even further left. If Bush was responsible for the liberal infrastructure that helped elect Obama, Obama has now inadvertently contributed to the creation of two movements— Occupy and Black Lives Matter— dedicated to the proposition that even the liberalism he espouses is not left-wing enough.
Arguably more significant than the Bernie Sanders campaign itself is the way Democratic elites have responded to it. In the late 1980s and the ’90s, they would have savaged him. For the Democratic Leadership Council, which sought to make the party more business-friendly, an avowed Socialist would have been the perfect foil. Today, in a Democratic Party whose guiding ethos is “no enemies to the left,” Sanders has met with little ideological resistance. That’s true not only among intellectuals and activists but among many donors.
Moreover, the Occupy-Elizabeth Warren-Bernie Sanders axis has influenced Hillary Clinton’s own economic agenda, which is significantly further left than the one she ran on in 2008. She has called for tougher regulation of the financial industry, mused about raising Social Security taxes on the wealthy (something she opposed in 2008), and criticized the Trans-Pacific Partnership (a trade agreement she once gushed about). Overall, Vox’s Matthew Yglesias has written, Clinton appears “less inclined to favor a market-oriented approach than a left-wing approach, a real change from the past quarter century of Democratic Party economic policymaking.” Her “move to the left,” notes Kira Lerner of ThinkProgress, “distances her policies from those of her husband and Obama.”
During presidential primaries, candidates often pander to their party’s base. So what’s most remarkable isn’t Hillary Clinton’s move to the left, or the Democratic Party’s. It’s the American public’s willingness to go along. Take Black Lives Matter. In the 1960s, African American riots and the Black Power movement sparked a furious white backlash. In April 1965, note Thomas and Mary Edsall in their book Chain Reaction, 28 percent of nonsouthern whites thought President Lyndon B. Johnson was pushing civil rights “too fast.” By September 1966, after riots in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Cleveland, and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee’s turn from racial integration toward Black Power, that figure had reached 52 percent. This time, however, the opposite is happening. In July 2014, the Pew Research Center reported that 46 percent of Americans agreed with the statement “Our country needs to continue making changes to give blacks equal rights with whites.” By July 2015, after the riots in Ferguson and Baltimore and the rise of Black Lives Matter, that figure had risen to 59 percent. From the summer of 2013 to the summer of 2015, according to Gallup, the percentage of Americans who declared themselves “satisfied with the way blacks are treated in U.S. society” dropped from 62 percent to 49 percent. In 2015, public confidence in the police hit a 22-year low. What’s different this time? One difference is that in the 1960s and ’70s, crime exploded, fueling a politics of fear and vengeance. Over the past two decades, by contrast, crime has plummeted.
There has been little public backlash on economics, too. President Obama has intervened more extensively in the economy than any other president in close to half a century. In his first year, he pushed through the largest economic stimulus in American history—larger in inflation-adjusted terms than Franklin Roosevelt’s famed Works Progress Administration. In his second year, he muscled universal health care through Congress, something progressives had been dreaming about since Theodore Roosevelt ran as a Bull Moose. That same year, he signed a law re-regulating Wall Street. He’s also spent roughly $20 billion bailing out the auto industry, increased fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks, toughened emissions standards for coal-fired power plants, authorized the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate the production of carbon dioxide, expanded the Food and Drug Administration’s ability to regulate the sale of tobacco products, doubled the amount of fruits and vegetables required in school lunches, designated 2 million acres as wilderness, and protected more than 1,000 miles of rivers. This intervention has sparked an angry response on the Republican right, but not among Americans as a whole.
In an era when government has grown more intrusive, African American activists have grown more confrontational, and long-standing assumptions about sexual orientation and gender identity have been toppled, most Americans are not yelling “stop,” as they began doing in the mid-1960s. The biggest reason: We’re not dealing with the same group of Americans. On issue after issue, it is the young who are most pleased with the liberal policy shifts of the Obama era, and most eager for more. Millennials are also sustaining support for bigger government. The young may not have a high opinion of the institutions that represent them, but they nonetheless want those institutions to do more…. In 2011 Pew pols found that Millennials actually prefer socialism to capitalism, 49 to 46 percent.
One can question how much this matters. America is not governed by public-opinion polls, after all. Congressional redistricting, felon disenfranchisement, and the obliteration of campaign-finance laws all help insulate politicians from the views of ordinary people, and generally empower the right. But despite these structural disadvantages, Obama has enacted a more consequential progressive agenda than either of his two Democratic predecessors did. And there is reason to believe that regardless of who wins the presidency in 2016, she or he will be more progressive than the previous president of her or his own party. According to Microsoft’s betting market, Predictwise, Democrats have close to a 60 percent chance of holding the White House in 2016.
If Clinton does win, it’s likely that on domestic policy, she will govern to Obama’s left. (On foreign policy, where there is no powerful left-wing activist movement like Occupy or Black Lives Matter, the political dynamics are very different.) Clinton’s campaign proposals already signal a leftward shift. And people close to her campaign suggest that among her top agenda items would be paid family leave, debt-free college tuition, and universal preschool. This agenda flows naturally from Clinton’s long interest in the welfare of children and families. But it’s also the product of a Democratic Party that leans further left than it did in 1993 or 2009. If elected, Clinton will have to work with a Senate that contains two nationally prominent Democrats, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, both of whom are extremely popular with liberal activists. Already, Obama has felt liberals’ wrath. In 2013, Lawrence Summers withdrew his name from consideration to be the chairman of the Federal Reserve after Senate liberals protested his nomination. In 2015, Obama’s pick for Treasury’s undersecretary for domestic finance, Antonio Weiss, withdrew his own nomination after Warren attacked his Wall Street ties.* Clinton will face this reality from her first day in office.
(Why America Is Moving Left, by Peter Beinart, The Atlantic, Jan/Feb 2016)
NOT TO INSULT YOUR MOM, CHELSEA BUT.....
Friend -- One of the most important issues to me -- particularly as a mom to a daughter –- is equal rights for women and girls. There’s no one on earth who fights harder for that goal than my mom. Women voters will decide the outcome of this election, and we need my mom in the White House. This is your last chance to become a founding donor of Women for Hillary. Will you chip in $1 before midnight to add your name to this crucial cause? I was 15 years old when my mom traveled to Beijing to tell the world that women’s rights are human rights, once and for all. I remember thinking how brave she was -- no first lady had ever taken such a defiant stance on a global stage, in a country where her message was far from welcome. I was so proud that the rest of the world got to see what I’ve always known about my mother: She’s a force of nature. My mom will be the strongest fighter for women the White House has ever seen -- but she needs as many women as possible to step up to help her get there. I know she can count on you. Chip in $1 right now to become a founding donor of Women for Hillary before 2015 comes to a close:
SUNDOWN FOR SOLAR?
Dear Friends & Neighbors,
The Year 2015 turned out to be a nail-biter for solar energy, right down to the end.
Nationwide, the solar energy industry and solar supporters faced a grim reality. The popular 30% Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit, which had helped to fuel a strong solar market, was set to expire for residential consumers at the end of 2016, and to drop to only 10% for commercial solar installations.
Those who had hoped, and planned, to go solar in the future began to feel the (solar) clock was ticking on their energy independence dreams.
In California, the future of Net Metering for on-grid solar energy systems was up in the air as well, as the California Public Utilities Commission was tasked with designing new "Net Metering 2.0" rules to take effect in 2016.
Indeed, the stakes were so high this year, that at some points there was serious consideration that the end was in sight for California's solar revolution.
Oh what a difference a few weeks can make.
Just as holiday shopping was winding up, and 2015 was winding down, solar energy advocates across the U.S. got a holiday surprise; Daniel Gross of Slate Magazine dubbed it “the Solar Industry’s Christmas Miracle.” Thanks to Congress' last minute tax and spending deal before the holiday break, on December 18 the 30% Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit for both residential and commercial systems was extended through 2019.
And, in California, there was even more reason to be cheerful. It seems the California Public Utilities Commission was listening to the record number of pro-solar messages they received from around the state, including from solar supporters in Mendocino County who responded to various calls to action.
On December 15, the California Pubic Utilities Commission announced a Net Metering 2.0 proposal that, for the most part, rejected the Big Utilities requests for more fees, more barriers to net connection, and less financial compensation for solar energy producers who sell energy to the utilities through home or business on-grid net metering.
With all this good news, it's still safe to say that the highlight of our month came earlier. On Saturday, December 12, 2015, after 13 days of negotiations held in Paris, France, 196 nations reached an historic agreement to address climate change.
Solar energy--along with other green technology--received an international thumbs up. The message from the agreement: it is hard to overstate the importance of solar energy, and other green technology, in the future health and well being of our planet.
As we write this on New Years Eve 2015, we join other solar advocates across the country who breathe a sigh of relief for these green victories.
With the Solar Investment Tax Credit now extended through 2019, Net Metering in California preserved for future generations of solar consumers, and solar prices at an all time low, the future is bright for clean, green solar energy.
We are certain that 2016 will bring its challenges. The climate agreement will require continued international cooperation and concerted effort, as well as plenty of support from an active and informed public. The 2016 election cycle is bound to have its ups and downs as well (and we're going to just stop right there).
As a full-service solar business, the staff of Mendocino Solar Service anticipate working closely with our new customers to clarify a few important (and questionably quirky) net metering rules changes.
And, while the decrease in solar prices most certainly is a good thing, dropping prices means a narrowing bottom line, challenging us to continue to grow our installation rates to provide steady work for our valued team.
As we wind down this final e-news for the Year 2015, we want to say thank you, thank you for all you have done this year to promote solar energy and green living!
Thank you to those who sent emails, made calls and shared your opinions about the need to protect net metering and the investment tax credit. Thank you to our customers who referred their friends and neighbors interested in solar energy. Thank you to those who considered how they themselves may be able to go solar.
Wishing you all a safe and happy New Year.
Bruce Erickson & Maggie Watson, Co-Owners, Mendocino Solar Service
P.S. For links to more information, please click on any green text. To find out more about getting solar for your home or business in 2016 visit us online, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 707-937-1701.
WHY YOUR RETIREMENT PROSPECTS ARE BLEAKER THAN EVER
by Dean Baker
The vast majority of Americans who expect to retire in the next decade can count on little income other than their Social Security. This is true not only for low-income workers, who have struggled most of their lives, but also for millions of middle-income workers. Although Social Security is a tremendously important program, and provides a solid base that retirees can depend upon, its $16,000 average annual benefit doesn’t go very far. Many if not most can expect to see sharp reductions in living standards.
The reason for such bleak retirement prospects is the disappearance of traditional defined benefit pensions and the failure of 401(k)-type plans to fill the gap. A recent analysis by the Employee Benefit Research Institute found that, in 2011, only 14 percent of private-sector employees participated in a defined benefit pension plan. The participation rate has been falling quite rapidly, so it was almost certainly lower in 2015.
Although many people were hopeful that 401(k)s would be sufficient to support a comfortable day-to-day retirement, this has proved not to be the case. In 2013, the middle fifth of households of people ages 45 to 54 had less than $60,000 in total financial assets. And most homeowners in this age group still had less than 40 percent equity in their homes, meaning they could look forward to paying off a mortgage well into their retirement.
In response to this situation, Illinois is developing a state-run retirement program that will make it easier and cheaper for workers to save. Many other states, including California, are studying this option.
Although there are differences in proposals, the common goal is to create a publicly managed system that will automatically include workers whose employers do not enroll them in a plan.
Workers would have a modest amount (around 2 percent to 3 percent) deducted from each paycheck, although they could opt out if they chose. The money would then accumulate like a 401(k) during a person’s working years, with the option to receive a lump sum or draw a monthly payment at retirement.
There are four main advantages to this idea.
Almost half the workforce does not have the option to enroll in a 401(k)-type plan at their workplace. By creating a state-run system, many would have access to such an account for the first time.
One problem with employer-managed retirement accounts is that when people change jobs, they often cash out their holdings, paying penalties and losing their savings. But a publicly run system would be portable, so that people could keep contributing to the same system from one job to the next.
Another benefit to the state system is that participation would be the default option. There is now a considerable body of research showing that workers will contribute to their retirement if they’re automatically enrolled, but won’t contribute otherwise. (The basic story is that inertia is powerful. Many people may want to take part in a retirement plan, but they have busy lives and never get around to doing the paperwork if it requires action.)
The last advantage is that a publicly run plan would have far lower costs than many privately run alternatives. The administrative fees for a plan in a large state such as California would almost certainly be under 0.5 percent of the annual holdings. By contrast, private plans can easily charge 1.5 percent or more. The difference for someone putting $2,000 a year into an account for 30 years would be more than $25,000.
It’s increasingly obvious that there’s a major hole in the retirement system, and that the government can help fill it. That’s why President Obama asked the Treasury Department to set up a new low-cost, low-maintenance savings plan for workers — called myRA for “my retirement account.” But the myRA limits are low and participants can only invest in low-yielding government bonds. What Illinois and, perhaps soon, other states, propose to try is more ambitious, and may ultimately be more effective.
(Courtesy, the Los Angeles Times)