- North Country
- Rain Coming
- Pond Stopped
- Hendy Pipes
- Privatization Fiasco
- Kit Counsel
- Pekin Running
- Weed Summit
- Capitalism Works
- Asphalt Consequences
- Yesterday's Catch
- Birthday Girl
- Abundance Downside
- Craig's Appointment
- Mantric Formula
- Tom Tit Tot
- Random Observations
NORTH COUNTRY TO CHANGE HANDS
by Michael Shapiro & Anne Fashauer
45 years ago Michael Shapiro came to Anderson Valley with little but an idea that he wanted to live in this beautiful place and make a living and raise a family. He began this journey with a few fits and starts, some may remember “Boonville Burl and Board” or the “Sundown Café and Cabaret” at the Boonville Hotel, but he ultimately settled on real estate, creating the brokerage known as North Country Real Estate. Most everyone in these parts is familiar with the red and white signs bearing his and the brokerage name NORTH COUNTRY, as well as the iconic red caboose.
After having some issues when he purchased his parcel south of town and hearing other stories about problems people had with their real estate activities, Mike said when he got into real estate: “There must be a better way.” He was committed to what he called “surprise free” real estate and embarked on helping people who were interested in moving to our valley. Now we call surprise free real estate… “full disclosure.” It was our objective in the early years and it is our commitment still and will remain our objective to all who we work with.
Michael has seen the ebbs and flows of real estate over all of those years — from the crazy-high interest rates of the 1980s to the devastation of the Great Recession in the mid-2000’s. Things appear to be in a more settled period now and Michael has decided this is the time to reflect on all that has occurred and to take some time for himself, his health and his ever-growing family.
Michael married Sharon Shapiro in 1975 on their mountaintop south of Boonville. They had their first son, Ben in 1977; they had Dave in 1980 and in 1984 they had their youngest, Gabe. Michael and Sharon raised the three boys in the Valley and all attended the local schools before graduating and moving on. Now David, Gabe and Ben are all married and all have families of their own; Michael and Sharon’s grandchildren number 5 — two girls and three boys, and now number six is on the way. Michael and Sharon want to take some time to enjoy these grandkids before they too grow up and start families of their own.
Anne Fashauer came to work for Michael at North Country Real Estate in the fall of 2010. At that time she had just a couple of years’ experience working on the coast and was ready for a change and to “come home” to Anderson Valley, at least in the working sense. From the start it has been a great fit. Anne’s prior experience includes eight years at Taylor Roberts, the model home design business (since closed) in Philo, as well as a variety of jobs in the Bay Area, including working for the Department of Defense, a union painting contractor and a small pop & pop market in Noe Valley. Anne was born in Mendocino County and her family has been in these parts for over 100 years. Anne’s educational background includes a Bachelor’s degree from the University of San Francisco and a Master’s degree from the Graduate Theological Union at Berkeley. During her time at USF she also did a semester at Fordham University in the Bronx, New York. She maintains a home on Greenwood Ridge, close to where her family settled in 1905.
In the spring of 2014 Anne took the required classes to obtain her broker’s license, but a very busy summer and fall of that year kept her from taking the actual test. In March of 2015 Anne took, and passed, her broker’s license test.
With Michael ready to take a step back from the day-to-day running of the Boonville office and Anne ready and willing to step in, the two have agreed to make this change a formal one. Michael will remain very active in real estate both in Anderson Valley and Mendocino County but he will no longer be tied to the North Country brokerage responsibilities. Michael looks forward to continuing to work with his clients and friends on different real estate and business activities — in that nothing has changed. Anne will be the one dealing with all the responsibilities and the oversight required in running the North Country brokerage and continuing its goal of providing the best possible service to all our clients.
We hope you wish us both luck as we move forward with this exciting change. Stop in and visit — we’d love to see you!
RAIN BY MID-WEEK
Forecasters said the season’s first substantial storm is on the way, set to hit the region by the middle of next week. Less than half an inch, but we'll take it.
COUNTY RED TAGS KELLEY HOUSE MUSEUM/FIRE DEPARTMENT POND RESTORATION PROJECT, aka “the Old Orca Pond.”
First there was the ridiculous "Howard's Folly' Main Street pedestrian barrier from county government, now they stop a public (fire) safety project for a grading ordinance and other purely paperwork requirements!
The project organizers asked what was needed before they started, so this red tag came as an unwanted surprise.
Remember, this pond has existed for decades and is not being enlarged, just restored — that’s why the usually picky Mendocino Historical Review Board approved the project unanimously.
Turns out the County now says the Museum must have a “coastal development permit” and accompanying archeological and engineering studies at additional cost even though the mostly volunteer labor project is essentially complete and is meant for public safety and aesthetic improvement.
The stop work order will cost the museum project a lot of money because the equipment will have to be removed for other work while the County dithers and then brought back to finish the job.
Meanwhile it could rain next week causing even more work via damage to the partially constructed restoration or the nearby dirt that needs to be put back and re-landscaped. The date on the "red tag" was Thursday, October 22. Locals have asked their Ukiah-based Supervisor Dan Hamburg to intervene so, of course, the project will be restarted and back on track real, real soon.
On Wednesday, the day before the Red Tag, the Kelley House posted the following notice on the Museum’s facebook page:
“Work is progressing on the pond today. The liner is being laid and will be finished in a few days. Multiple layers of felt and plastic are being laid to protect the liner from being torn or pierced. Once new dirt is laid around the perimeter, the pond will look like it did in the old days and then we just have to wait for the rains. A time capsule was buried underneath the lining in the middle of the pond.”
(For related up to date short videos see MendocinoSportsPlus facebook page.)
(Courtesy MendocinoSportsPlus — with AVA additions.)
HENDY WOODS UPDATE
by Kathy Bailey
Contracts have been awarded and work will begin very soon to replace the 1960s era water distribution pipes and water storage tank at Hendy Woods State Park. If you’ve ever turned on the spigot at a Hendy Woods campsite you will probably remember the disconcerting result: super rusty water. Is this water drinkable? The answer is yes, it’s fine, sort of. It’s regularly tested and chlorinated to drinking water standards. But it sure doesn’t taste or look great. Unlike so many places in Anderson Valley, the rust problem is not due to an iron water well. Rather, the aged rusting water pipes take clean, clear water and add a ton of iron. Even worse, the pipes spring leaks huge and small on a near weekly basis and the pipes are so fragile it can be an issue to locate a section firm enough to bridge onto. At one point a couple of years ago the water system was leaking 20,000 gallons a week of chlorinated water! Replacement of the pipes has been a priority for Hendy Woods Community and for the Mendocino Coast Sector of the Parks Department.
At the 50th Anniversary celebration for the park in 2013, Hendy Woods Community and Save the Redwoods League each donated $40,000 for the water line project, which was matched by money the Legislature had set aside after it was “found” during the 2012 State Parks Department budget scandal. But preliminary engineering showed this would not be enough to complete the project, so the Department identified other money for the water project and the donor money and match was redirected for the recently completed renovation of the Day Use area. We had a Department commitment to start construction on the water project in 2015 and the preliminary work of planning, engineering, permitting and environmental work moved forward.
Even as the Day Use Area project proceeded in a collegial and positive manner, we began to be aware that the funding for the construction phase of the water project had not actually been secured. After a lot of back and forth, it became clear that a 2015 start date for construction was no longer in the cards. Considering how severe the leak problem was, requiring continuous attention and threatening the ability to keep the campground open, HWC took our concerns to long time District Assembly staffer Ruth Valenzuela. Since the 2011 announcement that the Department intended to close Hendy Woods, she had regularly been participating in meetings with HWC, Save the Redwoods League, and the Parks Department in the effort to keep Hendy Woods open. Valenzuela, now working for Assembly Member Jim Wood, invited State Senator Mike McGuire’s new staffer Kerrie Lindecker to accompany her on a field trip to the park to review the Day Use project and consider options for the water system. That visit resulted in a joint letter from Assembly Member Wood and Senator McGuire to then-acting Parks Department Director Lisa Mangat. Wood also followed up with an in-person discussion with the Director. The result was a July 10 letter from Manat, who, no longer “interim” is now the Director of the Department, assuring Wood and McGuire that the water project would proceed as originally planned. After competitive bidding, the contract was awarded to Ft. Bragg Plumbing and Electric. Construction is about to begin. There will, of course, be some disruption, but the work will be conducted in blocks leaving plenty of room for enjoyment.
This little saga demonstrates yet again how important it is for Anderson Valley to stay engaged with Hendy Woods, our only large public open space. HWC is pleased that many people are taking advantage of the Second Sunday free entry for locals program, where HWC picks up the Day Use entry fee for people from Yorkville, Boonville, Philo, Navarro, Comptche, and Elk on the Second Sunday of every month in 2015.
Consider getting involved! Our wonderful volunteers staff the Visitor Center, conduct interpretive walks, help control invasive plants, keep our website running, donate money, and much more. We would be happy to hear from you at 707-895-3746 or through our website, www.HendyWoods.org. Whatever else you do, come visit your park with its beautiful old growth redwood groves, campgrounds, new picnic facilities, miles of trails, and access to the Navarro River. Time spent at the park is time enjoyed!
THE PRIVATIZATION FIASCO
This privatization deal is going to go down in Mendocino history as one of the worst decisions ever made by the Board of Supervisors. It’s right up there with selling the water rights of Lake Mendocino to Sonoma County. Before privatization the County was already extremely dependent on Ortner for placement of our LPS conservatorship clients. We historically have housed a large percentage of our people in their facilities. We currently have an average of 60 to 65 conservatorships a month. The public guardian authorizes all placement decisions and approves all “patches” (County’s share of cost) to these facilities. The public guardian’s (Bryan Lowery’s) office makes all their decisions based on OMG reports and recommendations (see MHAB minutes dated June, 17, 2015).
Since privatization, Lowery has to follow all OMG’s recommendations if he plans on having any place to put our clients. Our alternatives are few and far between, and could mean placing our clients even further away from home than what the Yuba City facilities are. If OMG doesn’t want one of our clients we are forced to beg other inpatient care facilities to accept our clients. And, I mean beg. I was the LPS conservatorship case manager for Lake County for almost 2 years, so I know what it’s like to beg to these facilities. If you are successful in having a client admitted it is usually based on a substantial “patch” being approved. The counties never have the upper hand in this situation. We are always at the mercy of these facilities.
When Carmel Angelo approved this privatization, she may as well have just jumped in bed with the devil. We are now so dependent on Ortner that we have no good way out. Pissing Ortner off could mean having no place close to place our severely mentally ill without paying out the ying yang, if we are not already doing so. It would also limit our ability to shop around. Empty beds are hard to find and we would be left competing with every other county in the state for any beds in which the highest bidder always wins. Tom P’s relationship with Ortner was supposed to get us some special deals right? I don’t think it worked out that way.
I found it extremely humorous that Judge Moorman even thought she could push Ortner around. She has no authority. The County is ultimately responsible when things go wrong, and the County dare not cross Ortner. Having the Feds or State getting involved is only going to complicate things even more. I have no idea as to how they will ever wiggle out of this.
"Oh what a wicked web we weave when first we practice to deceive."
PS. You don’t even want to get me started on RQMC/RCS/RCCC. That’s where this mess really started. If it wasn’t for Camille Schrader (owner/operator with her husband) wanting to control all the children services in Mendocino County this thing would have never got off the ground. I wonder what Camille, Lowery, and Anne Molgaard (First 5 Commission Executive Director) are up to now? More plans for the future I’m sure?
— James Marmon (Unemployed MSW)
“Oh what a wicked web we weave when first we practice to deceive”
KATHARINE L. ‘KIT’ ELLIOTT APPOINTED MENDOCINO COUNTY’S ACTING COUNTY COUNSEL
Mendocino County Chief Executive Officer Carmel J. Angelo announced today that the Board of Supervisors has unanimously appointed Deputy County Counsel, Katharine L. Elliott, as Acting County Counsel. The appointment was made on October 20, 2015, with an effective of October 25, 2015. Supervisor Carre Brown, representing the 1st District and current Board Chair, commented on the Board’s action stating, “On behalf of the Board, I know we are all looking forward to working with Ms. Elliott in her new role, knowing that she brings with her both experience and passion for the work she does." Ms. Elliott has over 27 years of legal experience, including private and public sector work. In addition to serving as a Deputy County Counsel in Mendocino County, she served as Deputy Public Defender in Tulare County for 10 years, Assistant Public Defender in Mendocino County for four years, and had a solo law practice for 13 years in which she handled both criminal and civil cases, dependency and juvenile matters, and state and federal matters. Ms. Elliott stated: “I am genuinely grateful to have been chosen for this position. I believe that my management background and my extensive litigation experience will be an asset to this office. I am looking forward to serving Mendocino through my work with the Board of Supervisors.” Ms. Elliott graduated from Santa Barbara College of Law and resides in Redwood Valley.
Carmel J. Angelo, Chief Executive Officer
(Salary was not mentioned in the Official Press Release; Ms. Elliott’s predecessor Doug Losak made about $110k per year; and Losak’s predecessor Tom Parker made almost $150k.)
PATRICK PEKIN RUNNING FOR JUDGE
(Plus Keith Faulder and who else for one seat?)
Attorney Patrick Pekin today announced the launch of his campaign for Superior Court Judge for the spring 2016 election. Pekin is running for the open seat being vacated by Judge David Nelson, who has stated he will not seek another term.
An experienced trial attorney, Patrick Pekin has handled the toughest kinds of cases, including homicides and gang cases. Pekin also has litigated family law and civil rights matters, and serves as a hearing officer by contract with Mendocino County. He is a graduate of the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.
Pekin, who has been meeting with voters and members of the legal community throughout the county, said, “I’ve been gratified by all the support I’ve received from the community. Whether it’s judges or lawyers, winegrowers or small self-employed business owners, retirees or new parents, everyone has been extremely positive.”
In addition to his work as an attorney, Pekin has a record of service in the community. Pekin is a firefighter with the Mendocino Volunteer Fire Department, where he is a first responder to fires, medical emergencies, car accidents and cliff and ocean rescues. He is endorsed by current Mendocino Fire Chief Ed O’Brien, as well as retired Chief Danny Hervilla.
For four years, Pekin coached the mock trial team at Fort Bragg High School with his wife Amanda, also an attorney. The Fort Bragg team won the Mendocino County Championship for the first time in the school’s history and went on to compete at the statewide level. His work has won the praise and endorsement of Carolyn Brown, the coordinator of the mock trial program.
Pekin has summed up his philosophy as, “I am dedicated to the law and serving my community. I believe a judge should be inspired by both.”
With his wife and their three young sons, Patrick lives in Mendocino, where he has put down deep roots because of the county’s natural beauty and strong community values. Pekin declared, “I am dedicated to preserving Mendocino County’s uniqueness for the benefit of all our children.”
Pekin concluded, “As a judge, I will continue the tradition of our current judges who are fair and listen to all sides before ruling. My experiences both in and out of the courtroom have broadened my world-view and I believe will make me a better judge. Each person entering a courtroom deserves to be treated with fairness, dignity and respect, no matter their social standing, education or wealth — that’s the type of judge I will be.”
Pekin intends to actively campaign in every corner of Mendocino County, from Covelo to Gualala, seeing this as an opportunity to meet with county voters and hear their concerns. Pekin encourages everyone to learn more about him through personal contact and by consulting his website www.PatrickPekinforJudge.com.
MENDO FIRES UP A FATTY
Supes to Get a Presentation On The 2015 State Legislative Medical Marijuana Regulatory Package
At the request of the Board of Supervisors Marijuana Ad Hoc Committee, the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors will hold a special meeting on Monday, October 26, 2015, for a presentation on the State Legislative medical marijuana regulatory package.
In the final hours of the legislative session, the legislature passed a medical marijuana regulatory package that was signed by the Governor on October 9, 2015, consisting of three bills: AB 266 (Bonta), SB 643 (McGuire) and AB 243 (Wood). The Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC) Senior Legislative Advocate, Paul Smith, will provide an overview of all three bills. RCRC works with its membership to advocate on behalf of rural issues at the state and federal levels. RCRC provides the rural county perspective on a myriad of issues during the legislative and regulatory process, including land use, water and natural resources, housing, transportation, wildfire protection policies, and health and human services. Paul Smith represents RCRC on a variety of issues including county finance and operations, elections, labor/employment/pensions, transportation, solid waste, and corrections.
“Over the past year, the North Coast Counties have been informally discussing the possible impacts of potential state and federal cannabis policies on our economies, environment and public safety. With the passing of the recent regulatory legislations, there will be guidelines in place to allow access to medical marijuana, while ensuring a robust tracking system and a regulatory structure for the industry, including taxing and licensing," said Chair of the Board, Carre Brown.
The meeting will be held in the Board of Supervisors Chambers, 501 Low Gap Road in Ukiah at 5:30 p.m. This event is open to the public. Interested parties are encouraged to attend.
For more information, or to reserve a spot, please contact the Mendocino County Executive Office at (707) 463-4441 or email@example.com.
Carmel J. Angelo, Chief Executive Officer
SALVIA LEUCANTHA Mexican Bush Sage is blooming everywhere on the Mendocino Coast.
HARK! THE DOGS OF CAPITALISM ANON!
I have listened to the impassioned pleas to keep Dollar General out of Redwood Valley. I disagree.
The arguments I've heard are rooted in the speakers' perceived threats to the Status Quo, not unlike keeping one's blood lines pure in the face of desegregation. Fortunately, our Constitution does not allow such "specialness;" not to Dollar General nor to the Good Folks of Redwood Valley.
Furthermore, the Citizens United decision confirms the illegality of such special treatment of corporate entities. Nowadays, Dollar General has the same rights as any other applicant to the Law.
Fortunately, there is hope for the existing Redwood Valley businesses and self-identified citizens. If the Community of RV chooses to shun Dollar General, and do not patronize it, DG will not stay in business in Redwood Valley. That's the best part of Capitalism: The Power of the Peon's Purse!
And whatever Dollar General leaves behind might morph into a community asset. Who knows? Maybe a theater? Gym? Senior Center? Gallery of shops and outlets? If there is a will to do so, it will happen. The dust will settle. Life will go on; maybe not as we know it, but in some form or another more acceptable to the existing social order of Redwood Valley.
To deny Equal Application of whatever laws currently exist, is simply a losing, and expensive, position. Let our system of Democratic Capitalism work it out; for it surely will.
Sincerely, Ms. Anon R. Forrest
WORSE THAN A MISTAKE
Perhaps our county officials didn't understand how toxic the pollution would be from Grist Creek Aggregates' new asphalt plant on Outlet Creek in Longvale when, back in March, the Board of Supervisors decided to exempt the new plant from an environmental development review. The county allowed it instead to go into full production without an assessment of its impacts on nearby residents. Now that the plant has been up and running since mid-September, we all know how bad it really is.
Over a dozen households are being seriously affected by the pollution on a regular basis. At least seven families, including one with young children, are experiencing the common symptoms of exposure to asphalt plant emissions: headaches, nausea, respiratory difficulty and burning of the eyes, nose and throat. Three people have sought medical attention for these symptoms. Dozens of complaints have been filed with the County Air District and dozens of photographs and videos have been taken documenting the pollution.
Yes, many years ago, long before most of us bought land near the Covelo Road, the county permitted asphalt production to another company at the site. But it was a very small operation, so small that few neighbors even remember it. The Grist Creek operation is huge, with giant piles of gravel ready to be used in making asphalt towering over the Covelo Road. Smoke billows up and lingers in the canyon when asphalt is being produced. Then, as now, allowing asphalt production on the banks of a major Eel River tributary, in a narrow valley where fumes and smoke linger, was a bad idea.
So why are Mendocino County officials not yet responding to this public health crisis? The State Air Board came all the way from Sacramento to visit families last week, but as of yet not a single county official has visited any of the affected residents. None of our five supervisors, who, led by the 3rd District's Tom Woodhouse, fast-tracked the plant, have come to see us to discuss the toxic plumes of steam and smoke Grist Creek Aggregates generates.
It's one thing to make a mistake, we all do this. But it's unconscionable to make a mistake and then, when the consequences are understood, not resolve things as quickly as possible.
We hope and pray our county officials have the courage to resolve this terrible mistake as soon as possible for the sake of the neighbors who are suffering every day from asphalt plant emissions. We deserve far better treatment from our County leaders than we are getting.
Lyn Talkovsky, Kirk Lumpkin, Traci Pellar, Jane Hernandez, Sue and Pete Poncia, Kate Black
Cherry Creek Ranches
CATCH OF THE DAY, October 23, 2015
ROBERT AMUNDSEN JR., Fort Bragg. DUI, probation revocation.
ANTHONY BILLY, Hopland. Drunk in public.
KIRK BOESEL, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
RYAN DICKERSON, Covelo. Possession of controlled substance, failure to appear, probation revocation.
BARBARA DUVAL, Ukiah. Domestic battery.
ROBERT FACKRELL, Ukiah. Domestic assault, assault with deadly weapon not a gun, paraphernalia, probation revocation.
JUAN LOPEZ, Willits. Court order violation, county parole violation.
JESSE PETERS, Little River. Possession of meth and drugs while armed and ammo by prohibited person, under influence, ex-felon with gun, pot sale, furnish, transport.
ROBERT SANDERS, Napa/Ukiah. Drunk in public.
JESSIE TANTON, Santa Rosa/Ukiah. DUI, failure to register.
AUBREY THOMAS, Ukiah. Burglary.
THE BILLIONAIRE COUPLE Sanford and Joan Weill, patrons of Sonoma State's Weill Hall music center, gotta have their names on their money. They've withdrawn a $20 million donation to Paul Smith College because it cannot rename itself for them.
Former Citigroup chairman and CEO Sandford I. Weill, who's lucky to have avoided jail in the financial collapse of 2008, and his wife, Joan, had pledged $20 million to Paul Smith's College, in northern New York.
They agreed to do so on the condition it was renamed the Joan Weill-Paul Smith's College.
But they have withdrawn their generous donation after a judge refused to allow the college to break the terms of its founder's will, which required it to be 'forever known' as Paul Smith's College of Arts and Sciences.
IF THE WEILL'S would give Boonville twenty mil I'm pretty sure I could talk our Community Services District into naming Navarro after them.
HOW OLD ARE THESE PEOPLE ANYWAY?
From: Official Clinton Campaign <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Fri, Oct 23, 2015 at 2:49 PM
Subject: Wish Hillary a happy birthday!
To: Anderson Valley Advertiser
Paid For By Hillary For America
(Not Paid For By Hillary For Hillary)
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
What was it that Lincoln said at Gettysburg, something about government of the people, by the people, for the people, not perishing from this earth?
Well, too bad about all that.
If that NY Times article has it right and just 158 families coughed up half the political donations for this election, what we have is government of the money, by the money, for the money.
This is oligarchy. I don’t know what else you’d call it. In any case, it’s no surprise. Anyone with functioning eyeballs could see it.
But now we have it by the numbers. Out of a country of 300 million+ people, a handful, hardly the size of an Italian wedding, run the show.
According to the article most of the loot went to Republican coffers. So, if those numbers are right, it means that Democrats do their whoring on the cheap. Don’t you think that billionaires like a bargain too? Rich people ALWAYS look at the price tag.
Don’t believe me about the Democrats? You have a DEMOCRAT President touting the TPP. A DEMOCRAT President greasing the way for more offshoring. What a joke.
And how much money did Obama fire-hose at Wall Street during the financial melt-down? An even bigger joke.
And if Hillary gets into the Big House, she will have a change of mind and support the Oligarch agenda via the TPP. Count on it.
Tell me, did you contribute to Hillary’s election campaign? Do you plan to? Do you think you’re more enlightened than those Republican knuckle-draggers?
Do you seriously think that Democrats are – cough – “progressive”? Seriously?
Never mind Hillary’s mind-boggling Benghazi and email fubars, I suspect that Hillary will be the next President. And, while Democrats are doing their superiority dance, I will laugh and laugh. So will the Oligarchs.
THE DOWNSIDES OF CHEAP ABUNDANCE
by Ralph Nader
In college, Economics 101 is often described as the social science discipline that deals with the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services. MIT Economist Paul Samuelson liked to focus on scarcity, or more specifically, the allocation of scarce resources. “Abundance” was always a pretty word with an idyllic connotation for Professor Samuelson. I often wonder why there weren’t a few classes about the real-life consequences of abundance, along with scarcity and people’s material welfare. The present generation of internet technology is a proper subject of study within an economic framework. It might help us understand what is happening to our society.
Let’s start with today’s highly-touted information age. At our finger-tips is the greatest free trove of information in human history. We can get it quickly and efficiently. Are we more informed? Are we hungry for more information? Do we read more books in an era of record production of books? Do we know more about what our congressional and state legislators are about? Are we more knowledgeable about history and its lessons?
My sense is that the present generation of students knows about popular art and music, and has a nascent awareness of current events. But an unfortunate consequence of the abundance of information available to them is that too many students have left themselves less informed than their predecessors about serious information regarding our overall society and the world. This includes geography, politics, economics, literature, history, the side effects of technology, the interactions between consumers, workers, taxpayers and corporations, the doings of City Hall, or even how to cultivate gardens. Alas, the virtual reality of the culture of addictive distractions and stupefying daily routines still reign.
Just about everyone now has a smart phone with which they can enter an endless world of spectator entertainment, video games, and checking of messages by the minute, to name a few of the engagements. Granted, serious news, feature stories, lectures, rallies, programs, and other materials are also available. Judging by the Twitter followers of Hollywood celebrities and even famous cats, dogs, and horses, for some internet users there is a crowding out of information that matters most for a functioning democracy. And unless you’re in one’s inner circle, try having a two-way communication with someone using any of the new technologies without long waits. The age of dial phones and letters had more than charm.
Energy presents another example of abundance. Historically, the United States had abundant, cheap energy and, with Canada, set the world’s record for wasting it; while Japan had limited domestic energy resources and became much more efficient in using what they produced and favored efficient cars, homes, and appliances. Energy efficiently used means less pollution and fewer greenhouse gasses.
Abundant cheap water has led to much waste of water. When water rates go up there is more efficient usage. California is experiencing water shortages and as a result of scarcity in combination with regulatory restrictions, people in California are wasting less water.
Making our abundant “commons” – owned by the American people – available to exploit freely or nearly so by corporations has led to vast wastelands. The public lands – one-third of the U.S. landmass plus huge off shore areas – are open to oil mining and timber companies for ridiculously low-price leases. For hard-rock minerals like gold and silver, the 1872 mining act only requires as little as $5 an acre to extract billions of dollars of minerals a year. No Royalties are required. Such unlimited use takes away the people’s resources with nothing but cleanup costs for the mining wastes left behind for taxpayers. (See bollier.org.)
When FCC chairman, Newton Minow, called television a “vast wasteland” in 1961, he wasn’t just speaking metaphorically. The radio and television broadcast stations control our public airways 24 hours a day. Because “We The People,” who are the landlords, do not reserve time daily for audience networks and also do not charge the stations for their use of public airwaves, broadcasters can waste their round-the-clock abundance (see Claire Riley’s “Oh Say Can You See: A Broadcast Network for the Audience,” Virginia Law Review (Fall, 1988)).
A relatively new entry in the world of abundance is corporate capital. The cries from business about a capital shortage in the 1970’s, so as to get more tax breaks, have long been muted by the trillions of dollars the U.S.’s big businesses have lying inert here and abroad. Such abundance has led to hundreds of billions of dollars in unproductive stock buybacks since 2000.
A leading analyst of big business behavior, Robert Monks, has called such buybacks a clear sign of incompetent or unimaginative management. By this he means that such profits should be used for productive investment, better wages, or more dividends to shareholders, mutual funds, and pension trusts who should be exercising more of their ownership leverage.
Instead, the corporate bosses prefer to apply such profits, derived from the sweat of their workers and also government provided corporate welfare, to reduce the earnings per share ratio which enhances the criteria for increasing their already sky-high executive compensation. Stock buybacks rarely sustain a higher share price.
What to do with this expanding phenomenon of “abundance” in a world wracked by public and private poverty and its damaging fallouts? We must impose wisely-used charges or taxes on the abundant commons. For example, charging royalties for hard-rock mining and raising leases to market-based prices for other publically-owned resources can be used for needed land reclamation. Charging rent for the use of public airways can pay for better interactive programming and establishing audience networks. Imagine how an audience network could facilitate the potential for the people to summon campaigning politicians to real debates on their own radio and T.V. stations.
Requiring telecommunications companies to donate some of the profits they make from customers who pay exorbitant fees to use smart phones could provide revenues for the development of civic applications, and would help to offset the trivialization that has arrived with the technology.
As for the capital glut, an excess accumulated profits tax will provide an incentive to put such capital to productive work or return it the shareholders – the owners of the corporations.
We’d better think more about “abundance” and its negative consequences.
(Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!)
I have received a notice in the mail from Berkeley's Life Long Medical criticizing me for (supposedly) missing my last appointment. So, I went in and explained that they had not given me an appointment. The receptionist checked with the nurse, and the nurse told the receptionist to tell me that she had telephoned Piedmont House travel hostel, and since there were several options the phone system offered, she (the nurse) decided to simplify everything by sending me a notice in the mail instead; which she did, in order to communicate to me that I needed to come in to schedule my next appointment. At the reception counter, I was informed that I had to sign up with their online patient portal service in order for them to be able to send me an email message, even though they had my correct email address on file, and could have sent me an email if they had chosen to. Subsequently, they gave me my next appointment for November 6th at 8:30 A.M., to go over with the nurse the results of my lab tests: a chest x-ray conducted at Herrick Hospital, and a blood and urine test done by Quest Diagnostics, all for the purpose of diagnosing the cause of my chest congestion, which I returned with from Washington D.C. I left Life Long Medical, and went to Eudemonia where I have an account for computer use, and did sign up for the patient portal service, wherein I discovered that I have been prescribed something called hydrochlorothiazide, which I did NOT KNOW that I had been prescribed! I am now going to a pharmacy to get this, which I assume is important and necessary. Meanwhile, I am continuously chanting the Hare Krishna mahamantram, in case western medicine should fall a tad short. Henceforth, I will be my own ayurvedic provider; after all, Satya Sai Baba cured himself of tuburcular meningitis in 1963 in South India using his own spiritual power. Besides, the avatar Sri Krishna and his eternal consort Srimati Radharani will bless me, their long time friend and dancing devotee. Therefore, I am very happy to be able to inform my friends that the present health situation is under control, and I look forward to returning to the front lines of revolutionary ecology at my earliest convenience. Peaceout, Earth First!, Om Shanthi, and stay in touch y'all. Have a great weekend everybody.
Craig Louis Stehr
ED NOTE (from Drugs.com): “Hydrochlorothiazide is a thiazide diuretic (water pill) that helps prevent the body from absorbing too much salt, which can cause fluid retention. Hydrochlorothiazide treats fluid retention (edema) in people with congestive heart failure, cirrhosis of the liver, or kidney disorders, or edema caused by taking steroids or estrogen. This medication is also used to treat high blood pressure (hypertension).”
MIKE JAMIESON WRITES:
I just did my part to stabilize global climate conditions following the instructions imparted above by Mr. Stehr. I sat in full lotus at the edge of a vineyard.
And…..I must report that the above mantric formula when at least intoned by me appears to have the impact like that of a magnifying glass used to intensify the light of the sun. I’m afraid a fire is now raging.
Therefore, we must find alternative practice modalities to serve our planet in crisis! (This is important, don’t snicker out there.)
Global WARMING is the problem. A 14th century naked yogini Lalla or Lal Ded from the Kashmir Valley has the proscribed practice, imparted by these two first lines in one of Her famous poetry:
“Dance then Lalla, Cloaked by air….
Sing then Lalla, Clad but by sky….”
A MARIONETTE PRODUCTION OF: “TOM TIT TOT”
A Rumpelstiltskin Tale from England
It will be performed by Paul Thaxter on November 14th. Two performances will be given: English will be from 1:00-1:20 PM, and in Spanish from 1:40-2:00 PM. Refreshments will be served between performances.
This is a free event and everyone is welcome. Sponsored by the Ukiah Valley Friends of the Library
RANDOM OBSERVATIONS & OPINIONS:
Driving back over the hill to Boonville on Wednesday after delivering papers to the battered Ukiah Valley, I was zoning out to a symphonic version of John Lennon songs on Mendocino County Sorta Public Radio when one of those startling Sig Alerts broke in. "Mother of God!" I yelped, "what the hell's happened?" I gazed heavenward for the plague of locusts, maybe The Rapture, meaning I'd be left behind in ruins of mass catastrophe. But the skies were clear, the weather calm. I turned up the volume to hear a fuzzy voice say something about the possibility of high winds somewhere. I think these alerts should be saved for imminent dangers, not remote possibilities. Cry wolf too many times, etc.
* * *
When the privatized mental health buccaneers are packed off to jail or exiled to their home base in Yuba City, maybe Mendocino County can put on its collective thinking cap to devise its own acute care mental health facility, and I would like to nominate the abandoned Redwood Valley School as the perfect site. It's ready to go, complete with neo-fascist structures and, I'm sure, several generation's worth of bad vibes. One of our local shamans can easily purge the unhappy spirit of the place, our artists can give it a proper facelift, and our many under-employed mental health professionals can staff it. The old Puff Unit (PHF-Psychiatric Hold Facility) failed for want of one thing — muscle. Hire a few big boys to put all that gym muscle to work "wrapping up" the few mental health patients who go off physically. (Puff used to call the cops to do it as the staff locked themselves in their offices and cringed under their desks whenever one of the large psychos went bananas.) The old RV school is plenty big enough to house the homeless, too, there being a very short jump, if any, between the homeless and the mentally ill. Let's do it, Mendo!
* * *
Stuff I'm real tired of reading in obituaries. (The indigent don't even get an obituary because newspapers, with the noble exception of Boonville's beloved weekly, charge so much for them, which seems to us like the final indignity suffered by the dear departed's family.) And no bad people die anymore. Notice that? Everyone's life gets "celebrated" no matter how lamentable the dead person was in life. Also, we should put to permanent rest the bogus term "closure." There's never closure for our big losses. They leave permanent holes in the human heart. Fortunately for us, our maker was kind enough to design our emotional functioning so we just go on no matter how badly wounded we are.
* * *
And while we're spiffing up the lexicon, let's toss "award-winning," including the Pulitzer, lusted after by the three or four media hacks who don't have one. I understand of course that we've grown terribly needy in this country, but what's with the perpetual awards banquet? Off the top, I haven't read anything in years that I'd slap a blue ribbon on. Newspaper people are the worst offenders, although wineries are right up there in the Phony Awards department. The Press Democrat, objectively the worst newspaper in the country for its circulation size, garners a slew of formal attaboys every year, not a single one of them — ever — deserved. Back in the day they at least tried to do honest work at the Rose City daily, Mike Geniella routinely filed reputable stories, so reputable the pathetic wimps functioning as editors at the paper took him off the timber beat. Wherever you read "award-winning" as applied to any media person say to yourself, "Bullshit."
* * *
I was totally duped by the 49ers. I thought they'd move on without Harbaugh at the helm, despite an incompetent general manager and a stupid owner, the latter so stupid he's not smart enough to turn the team over to professionals and get out of the way. Kaepernick seems to have lost his way in a very odd way. Every other game or so he looks like he's recovered his mojo. Thursday night, with the exception of exactly two good passes, he fired footballs all over the place, one of the balls hitting a staffer on the sidelines so hard the guy had to be medically attended to. It was both weird and sad to watch, not that many people did; there were empty seats all over the stadium. They're going to have to do something drastic. There's been a complete breakdown. Sell the team to Frisco people for openers and bring the Niners back to the city.
* * *
World Series Tickets on the Mets end will cost you a grand each. Come the revolution, pro franchises will be nationalized first, the banks second, and the sports franchise owners, well, we're normally opposed to summary execution, but these people really have it coming.
* * *
Hillary and Bengahzi. Looked at from the international desk at the AVA, it's clear that Hil ignored pleas for beefed up security from our ambassador to collapsed Libya. With a confusing civil war having broken out, and all manner of dangerous persons and groups having fully armed themselves from Gadaffi's vast armories, of course it was Hil's responsibility to adequately protect the ambassador and his staff. Why the guy didn't stay in his Tripoli fortress isn't known, but traveling to Benghazi with just a few Seals or whatever they were wasn't a smart move.
* * *
That said, the posturing windbags nipping at Hil's heels during Thursday's partisan hearing managed to both make Hillary look good and let her off the hook for her indefensible dereliction.