- Season Total
- Mental Meeting
- Pension Problems
- Outage Survey
- No Secession
- Raskin Hassled
- Fan Case
- Wildfire Meeting
- Shelter Defense
- Righting Wrong
- Sutter Misconduct
- Yesterday's Catch
- Rethinking Bernie
- CEO Greed
- Repugnant Trump
- Edgewater Gallery
- Jobs Fair
- Student Benefit
ANOTHER INCH-AND-A-HALF OF RAIN came down in Yorkville yesterday, whose season total now stands at 31.56.
SHOULD BE A HOT ONE
The Mendocino County Mental Health Board meets Wednesday, at the Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center, in the Old Coast Hotel building, 101 N Franklin St, Fort Bragg. From 10-2. There will be a public input period, a chance to voice concerns and ask pertinent questions. (Alice Chouteau)
EARLY REACTIONS to Tuesday’s joint meeting between the Supes and the Retirement Board left several attendees thinking that although Retirement Board financial expert Ted Stephens knows his stuff, he has a fundamentally conservative view that government and pensions themselves are bad and somehow inherently too generous. With his admittedly correct and well-reserched observations that the County’s pension fund is way out of whack with much more long-term pension obligation than the County is ever likely to adequately fund, he offers no practical proposals to correct the imbalance. The primary cause of the long-term imbalance is County’s ever increasing pay rates which translate into larger pensions. This combined with higher-paid bureaucrats manipulating their final pay-years to “spike” their pensions, along with a state law that makes it nearly impossible to turn down a disability pension claim, means that pension debt obligations have outstripped the projected pension system revenue. Add to this the volatile stock market which only occasionally produces predicted rates of return on investments and you have what Stephens accurately describes as a big problem. It would be nice if the state would put serious (or even better retroactive) limits on pension spiking and on disability pensions (which nobody pays into). But short of such state level fixes there just are not many options available to the County or the retirement board short of declaring bankruptcy. The trouble with Stephens’ argument is that it would unfairly deny well-earned and well-deserved low-end reasonable pensions to retired line employees who not only paid a good chunk of their wages into the pension system, but are not the ones responsible for the high earner spiking, disability pension abuse, and crazy stock market fluctuations.
THE BROADBAND ALLIANCE has released a survey demonstrating what happened early last September when much of Mendocino County was cyber-severed. Telephone and internet service disappeared when AT&T's trunk line was cut near Hopland. Police speculated the vandalism was committed by tweekers looking for copper wire. There is no copper wire in the line.
THE ALLIANCE has now released the responses to its 33-question survey that shows 96 percent of respondents lost all forms of communication, whether from cell phones or Internet and 911 emergency calls. 97 percent of 364 businesses, organizations and governmental agencies also reported being affected. Businesses were unable to use credit card devices, forcing them to close for the day. The Alliance reports that almost $119,000 was lost by businesses.
PS. SORRY COVELO!
THERE GOES THE STATE OF JEFFERSON. The Plumas County Board of Supervisors has voted unanimously to rescind a ballot measure supposed to go to voters to join the secessionist State of Jefferson. This comes a month after the Lake County Board of Supervisors also voted to rescind an advisory vote set for the November ballot on the state of Jefferson. Trinity, Sierra, Alpine and Shasta counties have said no to a split with the state.
JONAH RASKIN'S wonderful capsule biography of Jack London nearly got him assaulted last Saturday. Chris Smith, the Press Democrat's venerable columnist, described what happened:
"It was an older crowd that gathered in Sonoma last Saturday for a banquet marking the 140th anniversary of the birth of Jack London.
As Jonah Raskin, the prolifically published SSU prof emeritus, and a friend approached their table at Ramekins Culinary School & Inn, a white-haired fellow assigned to a seat at the same table rushed at Raskin, seemingly enraged.
He called Raskin, who’s 74, a communist and said he had no business sitting at his table.
Both Raskin and his friend, Santa Cruz historian and journalist Geoffrey Dunn, were taken aback. ‘At first it was so over the top,’ said Dunn, ‘I thought it was a joke.’
It became clear to Raskin and Dunn, and probably to all within earshot at the Jack London Foundation dinner party, that the guy was truly outraged at Raskin, some of whose writings challenge orthodox thinking about London’s life and legacy.
Dunn, 60, warned the man to back off or be knocked down because he feared Raskin might be struck. The fellow said he was sorry and sat down.
Raskin notes that a theme of the evening was how to attract younger people to Jack London. He suggests that such a show of intolerance at a dinner celebrating the author won’t help.
And both he and Dunn found it bizarre for someone to be cursed as a communist at a celebration of one of the country’s most renowned socialists.”
A MEMBER OF THE LONDON FOUNDATION who doesn't know the difference between a socialist and a communist ought to have his membership rescinded.
THE AVA highly recommends Raskin's apparently inflammatory new booklet called “Mysteries of Jack London: Socialist, White Supremacist, Anti-Semite and Lover of Beauty.” Raskin's essay is wrapped in a striking color portrait of London with the same artist, Don Ponte, depicting a turn of the century pastoral that recalls what London's beloved Sonoma would have looked like.
RASKIN RIGHTLY OBSERVES, “This year, 2016, is the 100th anniversary of London's death in 1916. Most of the stories that are coming out about him don't say that he was a socialist and a white supremacist who could get on his soapbox and fulminate against Indians, blacks, Chinese, Japanese and Jews. I have presented nearly all of the buried truths about dear old Jack.”
THIS INVALUABLE little jewel of a booklet, a for sure one-of-a-kinder, is available at the truly bargain price of $5, check or money order, from Jonah Raskin, PO Box 22, Graton, Ca 95444.
About Those Frost Fans In Anderson Valley That Disturb The Sleep Of Roughly A Thousand People…
(The Santa Rosa Press Democrat’s “Ukiah Bureau,” Glenda Anderson, recently asked, “Whatever became of Scaramella's fan case?” I sent her the following note. — Mark Scaramella)
Not much has changed since Justine Fredericksen’s UDJ article back in October:
“Boonville man settles with some wineries over frost fans”
It became painfully obvious that Official Mendocino County didn’t give a damn about the problem.
As the issue unfolded it also became obvious (through local intermediaries) that all three neighbors did give a bit of a damn and we quickly arrived at the settlements with Foursight and Pennyroyal which involved their upgrading their fans from two blades to three.
V.Sattui’s fans are different and do not easily lend themselves to comparable three-bladed fan upgrades so we have been pursuing alternatives which have still not been finalized, but to their credit, they have been reasonable about it.
Other things have changed with me personally which may lead to some partial resolution as well. V.Sattui’s manager has insisted on confidentiality of these discussions which I have agreed to. If there’s a settlement I’ll advise.
I heard the new three-bladed fans at Pennyroyal and Foursight briefly when they installed and tested them and they are significantly less loud, nor do they generate the kind of low frequency rumble that the two-blade models did. Several of my non-grape-growing neighbors have thanked me for the apparent improvement. Two of Sattui’s three fans are farther away from my house than the other neighboring fans and are not big contributors to the total noise. Their third one is very close and remains unchanged and that’s why we are still talking about options.
My grape growing neighbors have been much more cooperative than the County.
As far as the County and the court goes, we did some discovery and got some pro-forma meaningless responses from the Ag Department and the Planning Department.
The local AV Winegrowers Association continues to say on their website that “Mendocino County is the only County in the state that requires permits for wind machines, and that those permits address noise, placement, and need.”
Which is what I basically was suing the County for.
Unfortunately, the County only requires permits for the “post-and-pad” machines (not the portables/towables) and those permits are only reviewed for construction and electrical wiring compliance, as former County Counsel Doug Losak said in court. There is no review (and none is needed) for the portable/towable machines because they are not as loud.
If my County Supervisor, Dan Hamburg, had convened a meeting with me, some neighbors, the winegrowers and the Planning Department we could have worked something out for post-and-pad fans along the lines that the winegrowers themselves seem to agree with that everyone would have been satisfied with. (As we did in my case, albeit slowly.) And which would have only applied to fans that are close to existing residences.
But my County Supervisor did absolutely nothing of the kind. In fact, he told KZYX's Valerie Kim that my lawsuit was "unproductive," while lavishing praise on County Ag Commissioner Chuck Morse for all that Mr. Morse had done to deal with the problem. (I.e., nothing.)
In fact, when asked in the Interrogatories, “Describe any information the County provides Vineyard Operators with respect to their use and operation of Wind Machines,” Mr. Morse replied, “The County’s Agricultural Commissioner does not [sic, not ‘did not.’ Ergo: has never, would never; will never as a matter of policy] provide any information to vineyard Operators with respect to their use and operation of Wind Machines.”
Also, if Judge Henderson had ordered the parties in my case into case management or settlement conference at the outset, we could have arrived at an agreement like the one we ended up with for much less cost and bother.
Again, absolutely nothing. (The judge’s implication that decibel testing was needed was completely impracticable. I explored what it would take to do such tests in a manner acceptable in court and you do not want to know what that would involve, nor the weird responses I got from the three engineering firms I contacted. Such testing would be irrelevant and unnecessary since we all agreed that the fans were way over the County’s noise standard, including the fan owners. The noise level being way over the county’s noise standard was not in dispute.)
The outcome in my case is far from ideal from the standpoint of those who still live near the infernal two-bladed machines. But given the attitude of the County and the Courts, it’s better than where we started.
Feel free to call to discuss further. 895-3016
COMMUNITY WILDFIRE PROTECTION PLAN
Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) PUBLIC MEETING
The Mendocino County Fire Safe Council and it’s partners are working to complete an update to the 2005 Mendocino County Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP). This meeting is intended to solicit input regarding fire hazards and community fire planning needs from communities in and nearby the Navarro Watershed.Additional meetings throughout the County will be announced. January 28, 6-8pm at the Mendocino County Fairgrounds Dining Hall Boonville What to expect at the meeting:
Fire officials, public agencies and community volunteers will discuss known fire hazards and proposed fire mitigation projects.
A facilitated discussion with participants to identify and prioritize potential projects to reduce wildfire hazard and promote community safety.
Refreshments will be served.
Can’t make the meeting but want to participate?
Contact Carol Mandel, District Conservationist, Natural Resource Conservation Service firstname.lastname@example.org (707)468-223 x115
GIMME (ANIMAL) SHELTER
To The Beast:
I was dismayed to see what was an obviously biased letter posted online in your "Mendocino County Today" column titled, "SAGE NON-PERSONS HER CRITICS." Placing it there gives it an air of veracity. In fact, the letter's author has been part of a personal, months-long social media campaign against the Mendocino Animal Care Services shelter, promulgating hurtful, fact-free opinions, and bashing the competence and morality through the use of inflammatory rhetoric.
In an attempt to obfuscate facts, a small group of volunteers has begun using slogans guaranteed to create a schism between people who are all working for the same ends — that of animal welfare. Their social media posts scream about KILL AND NO KILL shelters, label our county shelter the former, thus cultivating a "we vs. them" atmosphere. In reality, the Ukiah Shelter has operated these past years as close to a "No'Kill" Shelter as possible, without the hyperbolic labeling. Targeted specifically has been Sage Mountainfire, the current shelter supervisor, who single-handedly created the job of adoption coordinator at our shelter, changing the mission of the agency into a real "shelter" — a refuge. To present Ms. Mountainfire as "killing" dogs and kittens is not only a biased straining of the truth, but also hurtful, and absolutely ludicrous, as she has worked non-stop for a decade helping animals.
If indeed the object of this groups ardor — Petaluma Animal Services (PAS) — will remake the shelter into the haven the group expounds, I would like to see facts other than the trotting out of "live release rates" from PAS vs. Ukiah Shelter, as those statistics are accumulated differently in the two systems of record-keeping. Merely writing that things will improve if our shelter is outsourced has no factual reality; indeed, such rhetoric sounds like empty political campaign sloganeering.
Our shelter works. Last year over 1,300 dogs and cats were adopted and/or transferred to rescue organizations — an average of 6 dogs or cats per working day. Though a flier celebrating this fact was immediately questioned and used as an opportunity to again slam the shelter and its staff, the numbers speak for themselves. Can the shelter improve? Absolutely. But reinventing the wheel, insulting government while still willingly taking its (our) money is disingenuous.
In a decade of volunteering at the Ukiah Shelter, I have not experienced anything remotely like these current shenanigans. The negative atmosphere being created is and will lead, unfortunately, to less hands-on participation from volunteers and potential adopters who, viewing the peculiarly named "Friends of the Ukiah Shelter" social media pages are bewildered at posts of negative commentary about the very shelter the page is supposedly endorsing.
In the days to come, your paper and the community will undoubtedly see more biased, distorted allegations without supporting facts. I urge people look beyond the personal ideologies and emotionally charged slogans and seek more level headed information.
What the shelter really needs are more volunteers who are willing to "play well with others," walk dogs, scratch cats, and help the animals in a myriad of ways.
Re: Doctors Without Borders Hospital, Kunduz, Afghanistan
I am writing to you regarding the October 3, 2015, destruction of the Doctors Without Borders Hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan. As you know, this hospital was completely destroyed, and many patients and medical staff were killed in this horrific event. The American military has acknowledged that, through a series of mistakes, the hospital was attacked and destroyed by American air forces. President Obama has apologized for the destruction of the hospital by American forces.
Reading the subsequent New York Times news articles about this tragic event and its aftermath, I've been troubled and haunted, as an American citizen, by the consequences of what we've done. The horror extends beyond the immediate effects of the attack. News articles have made clear that the hospital was the lone medical facility, in this part of Afghanistan, capable of providing full treatment for trauma victims. The loss of the hospital's services means there will be ongoing consequences for Afghan citizens who suffer serious injuries.
And thus I write to you, advocating that you and other American officials might lead our country to commit to fully funding the rebuilding of the Kunduz hospital. Surely this is the right action for our country to take. If we are responsible for the hospital's destruction, we should be duty-bound to rebuild it. The question really is how could we not, to the extent possible, right this wrong?
After so many years of the terrible trauma and loss and waste involved in American war efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq, it would be heartening and inspiring to see America make this commitment. Our country has vast wealth and resources; only a small part of these resources would be needed to fund this effort. Finally, rebuilding the hospital would be an exemplary act of restorative justice, one that would speak loudly to the world's people and nations.
Thinking as a realist of our country's political climate, I know this task may not be easy to accomplish. Still, it is clearly the right thing to do, even in a world full of complications, contention and obstacles. Therefore, I write to you with these thoughts for a plan of action to justly compensate for our tragic actions. Thank you, in your busy and problem-laden world, for considering them.
PS. I have sent this letter to Vice President Biden, Senators Boxer and Feinstein, and Congressman Huffman.
MYTH BUSTING SUTTER HEALTH:
Community Benefit or Executive Greed?
by Bill K. Gray, Esq.
Sutter Health is a tax exempt public charity. The tax code requires Sutter to operate solely for community benefit. Indeed, for decades Sutter Health served to manage community owned hospitals which were governed by community Boards of Directors. In 2010, Sutter Health's role changed when it implemented a statewide merger effort to transfer ownership of the community hospitals into large multi-hospital corporations. Now, Sutter Health controls two massive "Divisions" containing nearly 40 hospitals and surgery centers. The result? Sutter Health's monopoly allows it to charge up to 60% more than market rates for healthcare. Sutter executive salaries more than doubled during its merger.
Who pays Sutter's executives? You do. Whether in the form of higher health insurance premiums, lower wages (as more employer dollars are used for employee health insurance), or direct payment of Sutter's inflated charges for care, everyone in California is impacted by Sutter Health's monopoly.
Today, only one Sutter hospital in California remains locally owned — Sutter Coast Hospital ("SCH") in Crescent City. This article tells the story of how our town fought off Sutter's attempts to transfer hospital ownership outside of our community. We debunked Sutter's false claims, one by one, until Sutter agreed to leave us out of its two "Divisions." We know Sutter Health will be back, but for now, SCH is locally owned and governed.
Sutter employed four tactics in its takeover attempt:
Threats to close the hospital if the local hospital Board did not comply with Sutter's corporate plans. For years, Sutter executives claimed SCH needed to transfer ownership to Sutter's regional corporation, and to downsize to a Critical Access facility (which would allow SCH to triple its charges to Medicare), in order to survive. Sutter's threat to close the region's only hospital nearly worked. In 2011, the Sutter Coast Hospital Board (which contains three highly compensated Sutter employees) voted to transfer hospital ownership to Sutter's multi-hospital corporation. But protests from every elected body and thousands of residents, and talk of eminent domain against Sutter by the Del Norte Healthcare District, forced Sutter to put the merger on hold.
False claims of financial losses. Former Sutter Coast CEO Linda Horn stated 2008 was the last year Sutter Coast was profitable. Sutter's paid consultants (the Camden Group) predicted heavy losses from 2014 to 2018 unless the hospital converted to Critical Access. Now we know the truth: Sutter's claims were all myths.
IRS filings confirm Sutter Coast made over $7 million in profits combined in years 2009 and 2010. That's on top of many millions in profits from 1985 through 2008. Sutter's predictions of losses from 2014 to 2018 are also proving false. According to current hospital CEO Mitch Hanna, Sutter Coast generated a "healthy profit" in 2014. How healthy? $10.8 million in 2014, with similar profits predicted for 2015, when Mr. Hanna's annual salary was $840,000. So, without downsizing to Critical Access, Sutter Coast's profits and Mr. Hanna's salary both appear quite "healthy."
But what of the health of our community? In 2014, Sutter Coast transferred 872 patients out of our county for medical care. Sutter Coast outsourced local hospital jobs to Sutter's regional service center, cut hospital staff, and has become a revolving door for physicians leaving the county.
Secret meetings. Sutter claim: "We act openly and truthfully in everything we do." Here are some facts: Sutter only released "select information" from its self-funded "independent" hospital study. Sutter muted the telephone lines during its internet-only public presentation of the study, so audience members could not hear questions from other participants. Sutter holds closed Board rooms, dismissed a dissenting Director from the Board room, and censured our local hospital Chief of Staff for allegedly releasing Board meeting minutes, while providing no evidence to support the allegation.
Broken promises. Sutter, a public benefit company, has hosted no public meetings during their four your conflict with the community. During a Town Hall meeting on February 17, 2015, Sutter Coast CEO Mitch Hanna, unable to answer many questions from the audience, stated he would return within 30 days to discuss hospital finances. Ten months later, Mr. Hanna has failed to appear. Sutter Health executives also ignored official record requests from our city and county leaders.
Sutter's tax exemption means our county, state and federal governments cannot collect hundreds of millions in yearly tax revenues which "for profit" companies must pay. Does Sutter deserves its tax exempt privilege and above market charges for health care? You be the judge . . . . .
Sutter's violations of California law are too numerous to detail here. If you would like to help address Sutter's misconduct and its impact on California healthcare costs, please join our city and county leaders, who have already asked Attorney General Kamala Harris to investigate Sutter Health, by writing to:
The Honorable Kamala Harris
Attorney General of California
1300 "I" St. Sacramento, CA 95814-2919
(Bill Gray is an attorney residing in Crescent City.)
 http://oag.ca.gov/sites/all/files/agweb/pdfs/charities/publications/guide_for_charities.pdf: "Under the federal tax law definition and to qualify for tax-exempt charitable status, the organization must be organized and operated exclusively for an “exempt” purpose. Exempt purposes are religious, charitable, . . . " In addition to these requirements, federal tax law also requires that there must be no "private” inurement or improper private benefit to anyone in a position of control over the charitable organization, . . . "
 http://www.suttercoast.org/criticalaccess/strategic_options_study_results.pdf, p. 37
 IRS Tax Form 990 for Sutter Coast Hospital, tax years 2009 and 2010, available at guidestar.org
 2014 data from the California Office of Statewide Health Planning
 http://www.suttercoast.org/criticalaccess/strategic_options_study_results.pdf, p. 8
CATCH OF THE DAY, January 19, 2016
MARCOS FERMIN-GARCIA, Ukiah. Petty theft, controlled substance, probation revocation.
CHARLES HENSLEY, Ukiah. Drunk in public. (Frequent Flyer)
JOSEPH HESPELT, Fort Bragg. Controlled substance, probation revocation.
JOSE MADUENO, Ukiah. Meth sales.
BOBBY MILLER, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.
MANUEL RODRIGUEZ, Ukiah. Domestic battery, probation revocation.
ROBERT VALADEZ, Ukiah. Domestic assault, probation revocation.
JUNYETTE WARNER, Willits. Domestic battery.
MARCELINO ZURITA, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
The Specter of Clinton Looms
by Andrew Levine
Do Bernie Sanders’ rising poll numbers and newfound willingness to take Hillary Clinton on change anything? They might.
The Clinton juggernaut is not invincible; it was stopped in its tracks before, eight years ago. But then Clinton was defeated by someone hard for people of good will not to have been rooting for, the first African American to become President of the United States.
That was not all that Barack Obama was in 2008: he was also someone upon whom voters could project their hopes for change. The pillars of the Democratic Party and their corporate backers knew better, of course; and so did anyone paying close attention. But, the illusion had legs.
Then, Obama won, the dust cleared, and — well, there is no need to retell the sad tale that unfolded thereafter.
Could lightening strike twice? A few weeks ago, that seemed impossible; the future looked bleak. The only saving grace was that a President Hillary, the devil we know too well, would at least not shatter illusions.
Obama had a lot going for him; unlike Sanders, he was charismatic and young, and he was in the race, from Day One, to win. This was not so clear in Sanders’ case. Quite reasonably, in view of the circumstances confronting him, he evinced a healthy pessimism of the intellect that sometimes seemed to defeat his efforts to exhibit optimism of the will.
And because his campaign, unlike Obama’s, was about ideas, not chimeras, it was inevitable that people who care about ideas – most of them coming out of what remains of the Left – would find reasons to quibble. I know; I was — and still am — one of the quibblers.
My view, expressed frequently on this site and elsewhere, was – and maybe still is, I’m not quite sure — that, while the Sanders campaign was not an unmixed blessing, that it would probably do more good than harm, notwithstanding the virtual certainty that it didn’t have a chance of succeeding, and despite the fact that corporate media were – and still are — doing their best to pretend it isn’t happening.
On the minus side, I worried that Sanders’ run for the nomination would quash efforts to organize outside the duopoly party system. Needless to say, this concern would count for more, if those efforts were, more extensive and robust.
On the plus side, I thought that the Sanders campaign would boost efforts to keep egalitarian, anti-austerity politics on the agenda. Otherwise, with Hillary sucking up all the air, progressive politics would be eclipsed for as long as the election season lasted.
I also thought that Sanders’ campaign would sow seeds for a better politics someday – when conditions are more conducive. I was particularly hopeful that it might rehabilitate “socialism” – the word, if not the idea.
That his “socialism” has more to do with New Deal-Great Society liberalism than with the socialism of bona fide nineteenth and twentieth century socialists or even leftwing Social Democrats didn’t bother me. It mattered more that someone corporate media and “public” radio couldn’t entirely ignore was promoting progressive causes. This hadn’t happened since the eighties, with Jesse Jackson. Arguably, it hadn’t happened since long before that.
That Sanders’ views on foreign and military affairs are more or less those of mainstream Democrats bothered me more. But Sanders comes from the more thoughtful (less thoughtless), humane (less vicious) wing of that consensus. He is not a diehard imperialist, the way that Hillary is. With him, the problem is more that he is soft on imperialism.
Because this is an area in which even small differences can have major consequences, lesser evil considerations like this one can be germane.
In 2000, Al Gore and George W. Bush seemed to have no major foreign policy differences either. But Gore would not have gratuitously invaded Iraq. Bush did, with dire consequences that are still unfolding.
Hillary v. Bernie is a lot like Bush v. Gore. The two of them differ a lot, in small ways, especially on matters of war and peace. We will probably be OK with Bernie in charge; Commander-in-Chief Hillary is a catastrophe waiting to happen.
She is a bellicose humanitarian intervener with deeply rooted neoconservative (anti-Russian, anti-Chinese, Israel first) inclinations. And any honest assessment of her tenure as Secretary of State would demonstrate, beyond a reasonable doubt, that she is a dunce and an incompetent, notwithstanding the carefully cultivated and widely believed impression that she is a skilled diplomat and administrator with a deep understanding of world affairs.
Even on indulging Israel with diplomatic and military support, and vilifying proponents of the BDS movement, Sanders is better (less bad) than Hillary; more J-Street than AIPAC.
He is no Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the British Labor Party; Sanders’ progressivism stops at the border. But the Labor Party’s decline began from a higher plane than the Democrats’; there is therefore a constituency in it still for a genuinely anti-imperialist leader. In the Democratic Party, there is no like-minded constituency, and there is no one of national prominence with views even remotely like Corbyn’s.
Meanwhile, Sanders’ views on economic and social matters are as good as Corbyn’s, or nearly so; and, given the state of our bought and paid for political class, far better than we have any right to expect. In view of what is possible and what the alternatives are, this is more than good enough for me.
The problem I had, and maybe still have, with Bernie Sanders therefore had or has little to do with the merits or shortcomings of his views – and everything to do with his relation to the Clintons, their hangers-on, and the Democratic Party.
I thought that Sanders would, if not by now then in the near future, fold his campaign into Clinton’s. Part of me still thinks that. But I am no longer sure. Perhaps success has changed Bernie; perhaps I have been wrong all along. Or perhaps I was right, and the idea that Bernie is not what I was sure he was is only an illusion.
* * *
Everything I thought about the Sanders campaign, until now, was premised on a belief that I never seriously questioned: that, barring a miracle, the Democratic nomination would go to Hillary for sure; and that, running against a Republican two-thirds of the electorate would be unable to stomach – Donald Trump or Ted Cruz or any of the others — she would win handily in November.
Hillary seemed unstoppable for reasons that have little to do with identity issues or with her merits and résumé.
Conventional wisdom has it that her merits are great and her résumé stupendous; National Public Radio, the best source there is for conventional wisdom, tells us so. The truth, of course, is very different. Hillary was a lackluster Senator and a disaster as Secretary of State.
I don’t know how good or bad she was as a First Lady; just that, of all the women associated with Bill back then, it was Monica Lewinsky, not Hillary, who did the most good for her country. Had Bill not been caught having a dalliance with la belle Monica, he might have actually gotten somewhere in his efforts to privatize Social Security.
The identity issues, however, are more complicated.
There are Democrats, not all of them women of a certain age, for whom electing a woman trumps all (so to speak); unless, of course, the woman is a Republican like Carly Fiorina. I suspect that there were more people who felt that way in 2008 — though not as many as then thought that electing an African American was more important.
However that may be, my reasons for thinking that Sanders didn’t stand a chance had nothing to do with identity politics.
Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are on the same page politically. She is not a septuagenarian Jewish man with a Brooklyn accent, and there is no way that Clinton could “play the gender card” against her. But had she been the one to take up the cause, as she might well have been, I would have thought that her candidacy was hopeless too.
I would have been no less certain that the Clintonite dead center of the Democratic Party, the Debbie WTF Schultzes and others of that ilk, backed by corporate and Wall Street money, would quash the prospect of moving the Democratic Party leftward under her aegis just as surely as I was that they would force Sanders to acquiesce, on the off-chance that he would actually need to be forced (or “nudged” or even asked).
But Sanders has been doing so well – attracting people to his rallies and bringing in small contributions from working and middle class donors – that my formerly rock solid premise is looking shaky.
I still think that the most good that will come from this election is on the Republican side because if Trump doesn’t knock off the GOP, then the even more noxious Ted Cruz, or someone similarly ridiculous, will.
This is happening before our eyes right now; it may already be too late for the more retrograde wing of the American plutocracy to keep their Grand Old Party going except perhaps as a regional political force or skeletal relic of its former self.
But if “hope” and “change” – not the illusions, but the real deal – were to come back onto the agenda, that would be momentous too. Could the Sanders campaign be good for that? This is no longer out of the question.
For the past eight years, the words “hope” and “change” have stuck in the craw. They were good for something in 2008, though – they helped keep Hillary at bay.
Too bad that Obama then undid the good he had done; all he had to do to seal the deal was make someone else Secretary of State. But, again, this is not the time to dwell on his mistakes and misdeeds.
Eight years on, Sanders could be the one who slays the dragon. This, however, is where the parallel with Obama stops.
Obama was a known quantity only to his corporate backers; for everyone else, he was a blank state upon which they could project their dreams. Sanders’ record, on the other hand, is well known; he has been around a long time. This is why, though his “socialism” falls short, it scares the bejesus out of the rich and heinous.
And although his foreign policy views, on the Middle East especially, leave a lot to be desired, at least he is a man of integrity, unlikely to let self-serving opportunistic concerns govern his actions. The contrast with Obama is plain; the contrast with the Clintons, either one, is breathtaking.
It would be better, of course, if he were more like Jeremy Corbyn; but if, running as a “democratic socialist,” he can stop Hillary in her tracks, then more power to him!
* * *
If Hillary falters, won’t somebody similarly awful and inept – Joe Biden, most likely – come to the rescue?
Let him try! Had Biden not opted out months ago, it would be different. But it is now probably too late; after Sanders beats Clinton in the early primaries and caucuses, it will be too late for sure.
Were Biden or anyone like him brought in to stop Bernie then, WTF Schultz will have a revolt on her hands that will make the plight of her Republican counterpart, Reince Priebus, seem trivial.
Of course, Sanders could still bow out – there has been a good chance of that all along. Indeed, this prospect was my main reason for not giving in to his campaign’s incessant requests for $3 contributions.
It looks extremely unlikely now, but Bernie might still throw in the towel for the good of the Party, as determined by Schultz, or, rather, because that is what the plutocrats behind the Democratic Party demand. But if, after putting those plutocrats in his crosshairs, Democrats force him out, Clinton will have a hard time holding on to anyone younger than Barbara Streisand or left of Rahm Emanuel.
There is Martin O’Malley, of course; running as Bernie Lite and hanging on by the skin of his teeth. Maybe his goal is to become Hillary’s VP, though even that is a long shot. In any case, it doesn’t matter; running against Sanders, he wouldn’t stand a chance.
George McGovern was the last Democrat to win the Democratic Party’s nomination over the dead bodies, so to speak, of its movers and shakers. This was at a time, 1972, when the dead center was less reactionary, in domestic matters anyway, than its counterpart today. Even so, the Party’s notables sat on their hands as Election Day approached, and McGovern lost every state except Massachusetts and the District of Columbia.
Is this a cautionary tale worth worrying about? I don’t think so. Here’s why:
McGovern was running against Richard Nixon, the incumbent President of a country at war. The anti-war movement, McGovern’s base, reviled Nixon for obvious reasons, but the general public did not yet perceive him in the way it soon would, as the Watergate scandal came to light.
Indeed, the condemnation that would later do Nixon in did not stem mainly from the war crimes, crimes against humanity, and crimes against the peace that he committed. Nixon’s presidency became unviable only when people came to despise him for failing to respect the institutions of government, and running roughshod over the rule of law.
Nixon was a complicated and tormented man; they didn’t call him “tricky Dicky” for nothing. He was nasty and base. He was also, in many respects, our last liberal President.
For decades now, Democrats have taken it upon themselves to implement soft versions of policies Republicans promote but could never implement on their own, because Democratic constituencies would object too vehemently.
How much better off we would be today had Bill Clinton and Barack Obama latched onto Nixon’s “vision,” instead of Ronald Reagan’s! For all the evil he did, Nixon promoted more liberal causes than those two Democratic Presidents combined.
That the man was a vile racist is beyond dispute, but at least he didn’t flaunt his bigotry in public. And, even at the end, when the whole country despised him to such an extent that, had the election been held then, McGovern would have whupped his ass even with the Democratic Party lined up against him, he still didn’t openly derogate large swathes of the American population or advertise his disdain for American institutions.
Compare that to Trump or Cruz or any other imaginable Republican opponent! They are all like Nixon after Watergate, multiplied a hundred-fold.
For any Democrat, even one like Sanders who is unpalatable to America’s later-day “malefactors of great wealth,” running against a Republican this year will therefore be a cakewalk.
If Sanders gets the nod, the Party’s honchos won’t like it any better than their counterparts liked McGovern years ago. But what can they do about it? Work behind the scene for Trump or Cruz? They are not fools, and even they are not that churlish.
Chances are still that Sanders won’t get the nod. The Clintons have many arrows in their quiver: America’s deep state, the Democratic sector of it, is behind them, as are the media and all the pillars of the Party that the Clintons transformed.
This is why I am not quite ready yet to cast off my belief in Hillary’s inevitability and therefore my doubts about the Sanders campaign.
It is becoming a close call, however. I never thought I’d see the day.
(Andrew Levine is a Senior Scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies, the author most recently of THE AMERICAN IDEOLOGY (Routledge) and POLITICAL KEY WORDS (Blackwell) as well as of many other books and articles in political philosophy. His most recent book is In Bad Faith: What’s Wrong With the Opium of the People. He was a Professor (philosophy) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Research Professor (philosophy) at the University of Maryland-College Park. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Courtesy, CounterPunch.org)
BIG CRONY CEO PAY GRAB: EFFECTS BEYOND GREED!
by Ralph Nader
As the New Year gets underway, the highest-paid CEOs of many large corporations have already paid themselves more than the average worker will earn in the entire year! By the end of the first week of January, the highest-paid CEOs had already made as much as their average workers will earn over 8 years.
An analysis by Equilar, a consulting firm specializing in executive pay, found that on average, the 200 highest-paid CEOs make approximately $22.6 million a year, or almost $10,800 an hour, a 9.1% increase from the previous year. Meanwhile, the Census Bureau reports the average household earns approximately $53,000 a year.
Over the past fifty years, the pay gap between many highly-paid CEOs and their employees has increased dramatically. In 1965, when they also liked to be rich, CEOs made approximately twenty times as much as their average employee, meaning they would earn their workers’ average pay by the third week of January, and since the 1980s, the average difference and greed have increased. Highly-paid CEOs now make 303 times as much as their employees in a year, according to a study by the Economic Policy Institute.
Equilar notes that Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav makes $156.1 million a year ($74,796.36 an hour), or approximately 1,951 times as much as his average employee. Doug McMillan, the CEO of Wal-Mart takes in $25.6 million ($12,266.41 an hour), 1,133 times as much as the average experienced store associate, who earns roughly $22,000. Other highly-paid CEOs include Larry Merlo, the CEO of CVS Caremark, who makes 422 times as much as CVS employee, meaning that he earns an average worker’s yearly pay by 1 PM on his first work day of the new year; and Goodyear CEO Richard Kramer, who pulls in as much as an average Goodyear employee’s yearly pay by 3:00 PM on January 1st.
Shareholders, the owners of those companies, do not have binding power to determine the pay of their hired help — the company bosses. The wined-and-dined selected boards of directors regularly rubber stamp massive CEO pay raises.
An additional consequence of CEOs pushing up their own wages is that the company’s accounting, stock options and stock buybacks are often shaped to further directly enrich the corporate executives. With such a vast disparity, the impact on employee morale is not good. All of these consequences for big companies are the reason Warren Buffett takes a critical view of sky-high corporate compensation packages.
As the gap between the wealthy and the working-class continues to grow, the federal minimum wage remains stagnant at $7.25 an hour, or a little more than $15,000 a year, far below the $24,000 poverty line for a family of four.
Do you find this state of affairs upsetting?
Economists see raising the minimum wage as an essential tool to fight income inequality, with an increase benefiting at least thirty-five million Americans, according to a 2015 study by the Economic Policy Institute.
Unlike the soaring pay awarded to highly-compensated CEOs, the minimum wage has not even kept up with inflation. Department of Labor data shows that, had minimum wage increases kept up with inflation since 1968, the minimum wage would be nearly $11 today. Instead, it has lost one-third of its purchasing power.
Raising the federal minimum wage would also reduce spending on numerous social welfare programs. A 2013 study by the Center for American Progress found that by raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, the cost of enrollments in food stamp programs would decrease by $4.6 billion a year, which is why such prominent conservatives like Phyllis Schlafly and Ron Unz support a long-overdue raise.
On top of that, a minimum wage increase would also benefit the country’s gross domestic product. A 2013 study by the Chicago Federal Reserve showed that increasing the federal minimum wage to $9.00 an hour would increase the GDP by $22 Billion annually.
In fact, raising the minimum wage can allow companies to remain profitable. A study by the United Kingdom’s Chartered Institute for Personnel Development found that when companies raised wages for their employees, the companies became more efficient, and workplace productivity increased.
Costco CEO Craig Jelenik explains that “An important reason for the success of Costco’s business model is the attraction and retention of great employees. Instead of minimizing wages, we know it’s a lot more profitable in the long term to minimize employee turnover and maximize employee productivity, commitment and loyalty.” Raising wages means that employee turnover is reduced, meaning that companies do not have to spend as much on recruitment and training. And because of this, Costco has an $11.50 an hour starting salary and benefits.
Jelenik is not the only CEO who supports raising the minimum wage. Other corporations that have started to pay a more livable wage include Aetna, The Gap and Ikea.
With the New Year, seventeen states saw an increase in the minimum wage, with Massachusetts being the first state in the country with a minimum wage of $10.00 an hour. In 2015, the city of Los Angeles set forces in motion to increase their minimum wage from $9 to $15 by 2020, and San Francisco plans to go from $12.25 an hour to $15 an hour by 2018. Currently, twenty-nine states, the District of Columbia and thirty-five cities have minimum wages set higher than the $7.25 federal minimum.
In the 2016 race for president, almost all of the Republican candidates are opposed to raising the minimum wage. The only Republicans who support a small wage hike are former senator Rick Santorum and Ohio Governor John Kasich.
On the Democratic side, all of the candidates endorse a higher minimum wage, with Hillary Clinton supporting an increase to $12 an hour, with no set time-frame, while both Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley support a $15 an hour minimum wage by the end of the decade.
As the 2016 gets started, it is important that CEOs concern themselves more with how they can stop denying their lowest-paid employees a fairer minimum wage than with how much more compensation they are going to demand for themselves over the next 351 days.
Visit Timeforaraise.org for more action-oriented information.
(Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!)
TRUMP NOT FOR THE LITTLE GUY
by Jeff Jacoby
Supporters of Donald Trump relish the prospect of a president who knows how to “get things done” and won’t bore them with details or principles. They like hearing Trump tout the stop-at-nothing aggressiveness of his business dealings, as in this description, in a CNN interview, of how he acquired the Doral golf resort in Miami:
“I didn’t sit down and say ‘let’s do a 14-point plan.’ I went in and got it. I took it away from so many people.”
Trump boasted of his prowess at a rally in Michigan on Aug. 11. “You have to be able to do certain things” if you want to be successful, he crowed. “[I] beat the hell out of people. . . . I know how to get things.”
Republican voters might wish to ponder what Trump doesn’t say — that the people he has been willing to “beat the hell out of” in order to get what he craves include small property owners and mom-and-pop businesses. And that one of his tactics for going after other people’s land is to get the government to do it through eminent domain. Trump has sought to build some of his gaudiest developments on the modest holdings of private citizens who didn’t want to relinquish their property.
The Cato Institute’s David Boaz recently recalled the story of Vera Coking, an elderly widow who had lived in Atlantic City for more than three decades. Coking owned a three-story boarding house near the ocean, in which she had raised her kids and where she looked forward to spending her golden years.
But with the arrival of legalized gambling and casinos, Coking’s land drew the interest of developers. In the 1980s, she turned down a $1 million offer from one builder, who accepted her refusal and proceeded to build around the house. When that project ran out of money, it was acquired by Trump, who was determined to get Coking’s house by any means necessary.
Those means didn’t include offering Coking better terms. Instead Trump turned to a New Jersey government agency — the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority — which condemned the widow’s home, agreed to acquire it on Trump’s behalf for $251,000, and ordered Coking to move out within 90 days. Under the Constitution, governments may take private property only for “public use.” Trump wished to use the Coking land as a waiting area for limousines at the Trump Plaza Hotel.
Coking went to court, along with the owners of two other small parcels on the same block. Their case was taken up, pro bono, by the Institute for Justice, a Washington-based legal group that defends private-property rights. After years of litigation, Coking was eventually allowed to keep her home. But Trump was unabashed inrationalizing the right of billionaire developers to deploy eminent domain as a weapon to confiscate land from unwilling sellers.
“Do you want to live in a city where you can’t build roads or highways or have access to hospitals?” he demanded in an interview with ABC’s John Stossel. “Condemnation is a necessary evil.”
When Stossel raised the obvious objection — “We’re not talking about a hospital. This is [about] a building a rich guy finds ugly” — Trump resorted to insults. “You’re talking about . . . a little group of terrible, terrible tenements; just terrible stuff, tenement housing.”
Trump lost that round. But seven years later the Supreme Court issued its notorious Kelo decision, upholding precisely the kind of state-assisted thievery he had attempted against Vera Coking. Trump gloated: “I happen to agree with it 100 percent.”
He agrees, that is, that government exists to help avaricious moguls prey on poorer citizens. “I know how to get things,” Trump says. And good luck to any widows who get in his way.
(Jeff Jacoby can be reached at email@example.com.)
ROMANA DOWNIE'S SCULPTURES, HIGH SCHOOLERS' ART AT EDGEWATER
Edgewater Gallery is featuring Romana Downie's ceramic and bronze sculpture as well as the ceramics, photographs, drawings and paintings of the art students of Fort Bragg High School in February. The month-long show will open on First Friday, February 5, from 5-8 p.m., at the gallery, 356 N. Main St. near the Laurel Street intersection. Light refreshments will be served. Downie's marble, ceramic, and bronze sculptures are in collections in the United States, Europe, Japan and in the museums of Rome. She is a vibrant artist that has continued for ninety years creating art that tells her story of love for mankind. At 6:00 p.m. on First Friday, she will talk about her life and work. Also featured will be the young artists of Fort Bragg High School in their annual feature show. Their mixed media presentation always has been a popular event at Edgewater. Edgewater celebrated its 12th anniversary last October and currently has more than 15 full-time and guest artists offering a variety of artistic mediums from jewelry, watercolor/oil paintings, ceramics, sculpture, burl wood bowls/tables, photography on metal, and greeting cards to decorative kites and mirrors. The gallery is open 10 to 5 daily and until 5:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. For more information, please call 707.964.4668 or visit online at www.edgewater-gallery.com. Currently, Edgewater is seeking new artists to fill spots of artists who have moved from the area. Jewelry designers and both 2D and 3D artists are encouraged to apply to become guest or full-time members, and they should contact Alexis Moyer at firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications also are available at the gallery.
MENDOCINO COUNTY EDUCATION JOBS FAIR
Saturday, April 23, 2016
Mendocino County Office of Education is pleased to present the first ever Mendocino County Education Jobs Fair. This is a collaborative event hosted by Mendocino County Office of Education, offered in support of Mendocino County schools and colleges, on Saturday, April 23, 2016, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on the grounds of Mendocino County Office of Education, located at 2240 Old River Road, Ukiah, California.
The event is intended to provide schools and colleges operating in Mendocino County opportunity to meet community members interested in learning how their skills could be applied to education-related employment, and for community members to discover where they can acquire skills necessary to secure education-related employment. This event will also offer teaching, administrative, counseling, licensed medical, and education support candidates, from all over Northern California, the opportunity to find the job they’ve been dreaming about.
The types of jobs available in education are represented in a variety of programs including Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education, Middle School Education, Secondary Education, School Counseling, Special Education, Education Administration, Alternative Education, and Education Support (Clerical, Maintenance, Transportation, Food Service, Instruction, Nursing, Accounting, and more.)
Job seekers are encouraged to come meet ‘experts’ in their fields to learn about the various jobs, skills required, and how your skills might fit the jobs available. Bring your resume and be prepared to find the job of your dreams! There is no cost to participants.
To learn more about the event please contact Mendocino County Office of Education, Human Resources Office, by calling (707) 467-5012.
MACCALLUM HOUSE DINE-OUT Mendocino High School Multicultural Student Union.
Hours: Dinner served from 5:30PM to 8:00PM, bar opens at 5:00PM.
Location: 45020 Albion Street, Mendocino, CA
Reservations are highly recommended, please call 707-937-0289 or visit
www.maccallumhouse.com to save a spot.
All profits will go towards the Mendocino High School's Multicultural Student Union which plans to give scholarships to students at the end of the year.
Left Berkeley. Am presently in San Francisco at the Red Vic on Haight Street until Sunday at 11 A.M. Light rain last night...rainbows! ;-)