AN ATHEIST’S REPLY
I always enjoy reading the letters of Lee Simon from Far’N’Away Farm in Virginia.
His letter in the February 24 AVA was on the mark. His criticism of religion in general, and the Catholic Church in particular, echoed my comments in a series of e-mails I recently exchanged with my friend and running partner, Dave, discussing science and religion.
David is a former attorney for AT&T. He is an ultramontane Catholic.
I'm a retired science teacher and an atheist.
Our e-mails, like our conversations on the track, were sharp and abrasive.
I offer this to consider for publication.
* * *
You say: My criticism of the Catholic Church and of religion in general is “silly.”
I say: Do you really want to bring “silliness” into the discussion?
1. Your silly church not only assimilated and perpetuated the demented and anachronistic mythologies of a group of nomadic savages, the Israelites, but added many layers of even more deranged fairy tales and superstitions. 2. The Catholic Church reinstated polytheism with its perverse math of 1+1+1=1, the deification of the Virgin Mary — more popular than the resurrected dead Jew in places like Spain and Mexico. The Saints have become demiurges. The next time you get a flat tire, try inflating it with prayers to a graven image of the Blessed Virgin. 3. If you seriously believe the drivel of the synoptic Gospels, stop going to doctors, mechanics, and other scientists or technicians. Follow the advice proffered in Matthew 7:7, 17:20, 21:21, 18:19; or in Mark 11:24; or in the non-synoptic John in 14:12-24. Pray. “Ask and it shall be given you,” claims Matthew 7:7. Follow his advice. I don't go to churches to buy indulgences for absolution from my sins, or elixirs brewed from the pubic hairs of Mother Teresa for my headaches. Why do you go to scientists when you need help and not to your church? Why not buy some relics? Why not pray for help? And when you need information, why not call the infallible one at the Vatican instead of using Google? 4. Your vile church has endorsed imperialism, capitalism, genocide, slavery, violence against women, and child abuse in many forms — including mass kidnappings, pederasty, beatings by clergy, and the psychological assault of telling them an invisible bogeyman is watching them at all times and will send them to hell for jerking off. The Catholic Church is anti-intellectual, anti-freedom, anti-life and anti-human. It's the worst virus ever to infect the human race. It has opposed bathing, herbal remedies, medicine, science, reason, sex, love, innovation, progress, and human happiness. It has censored art and literature; proscribed creativity, imagination, and intellectual freedom. It has labeled “heretical” competing interpretations of Christianity, banning, imprisoning, torturing, and murdering Gnostics, Marcionites, Valentinians, Montanists, Manichaeans, and Cathars. Jews, pagans and Moslems have been treated with similar disdain and brutality. 7. The only way the Catholic Church — or any religion — can survive is to oblige young children to attend madrasas and indoctrinate them with falsehoods and anachronistic mythologies before they are mature enough to think for themselves. Without the capacity to inculcate its lies onto these defenseless children, no religion would survive. 8. Arch ignoramus Louis Farrahkahn said Judaism is a gutter religion. He's right. So are Christianity and Islam. 9. If all the priests in the world — charlatans of all denominations — died tomorrow, it would not affect the material existence of anyone. If all the scientists died tomorrow, our civilization would disappear in less than a year. 10. Catholicism (and Christianity) is a loathsome tapestry of cretinous beliefs, fictive histories, and deranged cosmologies. It was spawned in a feeble attempt to understand and explain the world by primitive people who imagine the realm of God, demons, angels, faeries, and spirits because they knew nothing of atoms, elements, molecules, microbes, cells, anatomy, astronomy, physics, or mathematics; nor the most rudimentary methods of collecting and organizing information about the world and universe they inhabited. The Petrine myth upon which the Church's authority is built is rubbish. The Gospels are basically novels made up between between 80 and 150 years after the imaginary events they portray. Virgins don't have babies; cadavers don't get up and walk around; prayer doesn't work. Your religion is beyond silly: It's loony. It's deranged.
Roselle, New Jersey
I turn on the Rush Limbaugh show most mornings to see what the conservative right is thinking. I can only take his inflated ego, name-calling and snide remarks for so long before I have to turn it off. Why must he always refer to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as “Dingy Harry”? He doesn't even have enough respect for the Democratic Party to call it by its right name. He calls it the “Democrat Party,” his voice full of disdain. Democrats, at least, haven’t started calling the Republican Party the “Re-pubs.”
His broadcast on March 1, 2010, his first after the tsunami alert in Hawaii, denounced the government (as usual) and science (as usual) for the way the scare was handled. His take on it was that everybody like him should have known that it wasn't going to amount to a hill of beans and that the reason the warnings went out was that it was another government effort with the aid of its “liberal media” henchmen to scare people into a continuing state of crisis alert in order to better control them.
Aw, come on Mr. Limbaugh. He did acknowledge that it's impossible to tell how big a tsunami is going to be on the open sea, so his contention that someone on a ship or in a plane over the Pacific could have used a cellphone to call in the good news could only have been half serious. His gut feeling (“on loan from God”?) notwithstanding, the simple truth is that nobody, scientists included, could know with certainty how big it was going to get. Would he really rather have had the people in the tsunami's path risk being sorry rather than safe? If this is “right” thinking, count me out. He was more churned up and strident about this issue, if possible, then he usually is.
“Liberal” isn't a dirty word, nor is “socialism.” According to Albert Einstein, “Socialism is humanity's attempt to overcome and advanced beyond the predatory stage of human development.” Those unsure whether the left or the right is the more advanced might well consider Limbaugh's relentless attack on our US president, proudly declaring, “I hope Obama fails.” His detestation for Obama was equaled by many liberals for Bush when he was in office, but if my attitude was typical, they didn't want Bush to fail: they wanted him to do a better job!
Limbaugh considers himself a superpatriot, but to me he comes across as a sewer of discord and hate. He can trust his intuition and the “private sector” (in this case imaginary people on cellphones) to warn us about possible natural disasters if he wants to. It's a free country. But I would rather count on the “big government” he so despises to keep me posted.
LOCAL MEAT, LOCAL POWER
After researching the state of the meat industry (which is controlled by big agricultural corporations), I find I don’t like commercially processed meats much anymore. I was curious how best to eat free range chickens, eggs, grass fed cattle, bison and locally raised pork. We have the Farmers Market and the Co-op, but the costs of shipping meat for processing makes the retail price high.
In addition, I am interested in a strong local economy.
The first thought in a local economy is local food and how to support the farmers and ranchers locally. Even though it is somewhat inefficient for me in Hopland, I go to the Farmers Market in Ukiah most Saturdays. I like to support it and the food tastes better.
Food is necessary if we want to build a true local economy. So I’ve been talking a lot to local cattle raisers, pig and chicken ranchers, the bison people out highway 20 and finding out this: That it is nearly impossible to find humanely raised and processed meat that has been processed locally.
The food part of a local economy, to be strong, has to serve all the people locally, so any business that can help the ranchers and farmers raise food and provide jobs with an environmentally sound approach should be welcome.
It stands to reason that if we had a local meat processing plant in Mendocino County, then thousands of miles driven in trucks could be eliminated. The last I heard was that the bison has to be shipped out of state to be packaged. Other meats travel hundreds of miles to be processed and shipped back to Mendocino County.
But now Mendocino County has a chance to build on its organic reputation and non GM modified foods. Meat should be included to grow in this specialty market, as well as feeding ourselves. This market is growing and will continue to grow.
Consumers more and more want local meat, humanely raised and processed. There are ranchers in our county raising animals in this respectful way, with grass feeding and organic methods. There is a rapidly growing market for healthy food, and healthy meat in particular, in the San Francisco Bay area. The ranchers of the Mendocino County raise some of the best meat in the country. I’ve tasted a lot of it.
I have had a long conversation with John Harper, the author of the recent study put out by The Mendocino County Economic Development & Financing Corporation showing the costs and returns of a small meat processing plant and this is a highly feasible idea. The plants are a fraction of the size of factory facilities. The pace is slower, and the emphasis is on quality. There are no feedlots, less pollution, and little if any smell. Wastes are tightly controlled, water 85% recycled. Workers are generally well paid, have good benefits, and taught a variety of skills, so they can rotate in their jobs. 682 additional full-time equivalent jobs (10% increase) would be created at a plant this size. 44 jobs would be created in the facility, the rest would be created in associated activities. Labor income would rise a net $16 million (31% increase) and the total value added to the regional economy would increase by $23 million (47%). These are pretty good numbers.
A premium is placed on humane treatment of the animals at every phase at this style of facility.
With rising fuel prices, competition for grains from the ethanol industry, the meat facility of the future needs to be small, local, sustainable, humane to both animals and workers. The small meat facility of the future will increasingly emphasize grass fed and organic meat….
The study, reported in the UDJ, once again affirms that a small meat processing plant as described in the study by the EDFC would be a boon not only to the economy, but an intelligent step towards building a strong local economy that doesn’t depend on the state or feds to survive. This would also be another step towards establishing Mendocino County as a sustainable food producer.
As KC Meadows said, “But also among the best reasons (for the plant to be a reality) is walking the talk from this county, where growing food locally, keeping food healthy and production environmentally sound and showing the rest of the world how it can be done, has been preached from many private and public forums.”
Good jobs and local meat sounds tasty to me.
PS. Here is an issue that has bypassed all the newspapers recently. I came across this a couple of weeks ago and have been keeping up on it ever since, sort of waiting for some mention in our newspapers.
So I’ll mention it myself considering it could be one of the more important stories of this year in California.
If you have been wondering how the recent Supreme Court decision will affect American politics, you will have your chance to see shortly.
“Speculation has been raging over whether the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent junking of federal campaign spending limits on corporations will be very bad for democracy, or not so bad.”
Once again, California was there first, and we have the answer to the speculation. With a huge ballot campaign launched by our biggest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric, we can say this: It's going to be worse than you have imagined.
PG&E has written and managed to get on the ballot Proposition 16, Two-Thirds Requirement for Local Public Electricity Providers Act, a Constitutional Amendment that thwarts ANY attempts at public power. Officially the bill is sponsored by “Californians to Protect Our Right to Vote,” which labels itself as “A Coalition Of Taxpayers, Environmentalists, Renewable Energy, Business And Labor.”
(Yeah right. These people are good at title lies.)… It is a coalition of one.
Proposition 16 is a completely self funded initiative that restricts the ability of electricity consumers to buy from anyone other than for-profit monopolies (PG&E). PG&E wants to lock its monopoly advantage into the State Constitution.
Proposition 16 is in many ways the most important ballot initiative. It is important because of what it represents: more corporate takeover of the political process. In a blatant thumbing of its nose at the political process, this corporate giant is attempting to use the proposition system to cement its own power and maintain its monopoly.
“I am mindful of the contempt for the legislative process, reliance on deceptive wording,
Yet Proposition 16 actually wants to restrict the ability of electricity consumers to buy from anyone other than for-profit monopolies
That means that within the existing 48 munis, every new connection — every new home buyer, every new business — would be subject to an election requiring the approval of two-thirds of the voters. ” -John Geesman, Former Callif. Energy Commissioner
San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera recently petitioned the California Public Utilities Commission for tougher regulations to prohibit electric utilities from engaging in marketing campaigns and other abuses of their monopoly position to undermine Community Choice Aggregation, a program intended to enable local governments to develop cleaner, renewable energy sources and ultimately stabilize consumers’ electricity costs.
“We cannot let Californians be denied the benefits of cleaner, cost-effective energy alternatives — consumer choice is simply too important to ratepayers and the environment,”
Then Marin County got into the action. Marin County’s fledgling public power agency, the Marin Energy Authority, has set its rates and has picked a company to buy electricity wholesale for many of the county's residents. Results? Same rates, 50% green power.
Of course this drives PG&E up a telephone pole in fury, because these large corporate monopolies don’t like competition. A free market is just a bit much for them, somewhat similar to health insurance companies. They just don’t like the competition.
At first, PG&E has threatened not to deliver electricity to the authority over PG&E's power lines — an act which is illegal. Then they decided to go to the ballot with Prop 16 a state constitutional amendment, spending 6.5 million dollars to do it. Now the price is up to 35 million to pass this, according to PG&E.
It seems to me that as Ukiah and the County are negotiating tax sharing they could also negotiate about making all of our utilities local, where Mendocino County can control its own energy, as does Ukiah. This would keep all the money circulating in the County and certainly help rebuild our economy. More jobs. Let us keep the profit for our local economy instead of the PG&E Corporation and use it for alternative energy in our county.
Let me repeat: Proposition 16 is in many ways the most important ballot initiative. It is important because it represents more corporate takeover of the political process. We cannot let this happen. Spread the word. Vote NO on Prop 16.
Then let’s start our own Power Authority in Mendocino County.
I have sent this information to LAFCO for discussion. Let’s have the Supes discuss this job building idea.
Karl Marx, On Leaving His Work To The Criticism Of The Silverfish
What can be saved
From what I’ve done —
Research that paved
Paths to the sun
For the people who still say
What have you done for me today?
* * *
Marx's work was not widely read, if read at all, during his lifetime. Because of that he wasn't getting much feedback except from the pundits who had never looked into the books of the capitalists like he had.
When Marx did get books published, the publishers sometimes didn't pay him. He lost a child after he published Das Capital. His wife had gone dry and her nipples were bleeding and the they couldn't afford a wet-nurse. Karl couldn't get a job because he didn't know how to do anything that paid. His friend Engels, who inherited a factory in England, helped support him and his family throughout his life.
I think it was in a letter to Engels, the one who helped him write the Communist Manifesto, that he wrote that their work would be left to the criticism of the silverfish — a bug found in libraries that eats paper.
On the night of February 8, 2009, 32 year old Fort Bragg resident Aaron Vargas went to Darrell McNeill’s house and shot him in the chest. Thirty minutes later Mr. McNeill was dead. Mr. Vargas has alleged that McNeill began molesting him at the age of 11 on a fishing trip, continuing the abuse into his early twenties, and badgering and pursuing him into his thirties, including making gestures towards Mr. Vargas’ infant daughter. Since Mr. McNeill’s death, twelve other alleged victims of sexual abuse perpetrated by Mr. McNeill have come forward and another alleged victim has since committed suicide.
The District Attorney is seeking a first-degree murder conviction for Mr. Vargas, with a possible sentence of 50 years to life.
Child sexual abuse affects more than 1 out of 4 girls and approximately 1 out of 6 boys in the U.S. by the time they are 18 years old, often with devastating consequences. These consequences may and usually do include one or more of the following: poor school performance, depression, psychosis, sexually transmitted infections, teen pregnancy, homelessness, drug and alcohol abuse, and suicide and homicide (more than 32 percent of convicted killers in our prisons were sexually abused as children). As an agency dedicated to ending domestic violence and sexual assault we recognize that victims of abuse, especially long term abuse, can suffer emotionally for years long after the abuse has stopped. In addition, a victim can feel additionally victimized if they cannot get any help or justice for the crimes committed against them.
Project Sanctuary takes no position on the murder charges facing Mr. Vargas, but we do recognize that the tragic events of that fateful night last February might have been avoided had Mr. Vargas not suffered all those years in silence. Project Sanctuary provides free confidential counseling to anyone who was or is a victim of sexual abuse or domestic violence. We also offer group therapy opportunities for men and women who were molested as children and a 24/7 crisis line.
If you or someone you know is struggling with any of these issues please call Project Sanctuary. We can help you cope with the emotional damage done by these acts against you. It was not your fault. Call 463-HELP.
Dina Polkinghorne, Executive Director
I am writing to let you know about my recently released memoir, Hold Me Tight and Tango Me Home (Algonquin Books, Feb. 9th 2010).
I will be having a celebration of the book in Mendocino County on Sunday, March 28th at 5pm that includes a book presentation, tango demonstration, wine poured by Van Williamson, tango dancer and winemaker at Edmeades, as well Argentinean snacks will be served. It is the finale to the Dancing Fools’ Tango Festival at the Weller House Inn in Fort Bragg. Books will be sold by Gallery Bookstore in Mendocino.
I would appreciate any coverage you could give this event and my book. If you haven’t received a copy and press kit yet, please let me know and I will make sure they get to you.
For more information:
Author Video: http://tangomehome.com/videos/
Author Events: http://tangomehome.com/author-tour/
Author Website: www.mariafinn.com
Are you printing these meretricious malices collected by our own Brenda Starr, Girl Reporter aka Freda Moon again? You need to send another reporter on this story. She blew it with Dan Hemann the first time around when she tried to get him to accede to HER take on the situation rather than trying to learn and report HIS take on the situation. Or at least that's what HE feels. A reporter who fails to build rapport with interviewees ends up with stuff like this. Or are you just giving us an example of what passes for responsible journalism in these days of declining empire so we can shake our heads and murmer, Ain't it a shame? I know you do things like that. Don't do it to Freda. The last time she and I crossed pens she took umbrage at my describing her 30 year old sweetie as a kid. I apologize. That is the word used to describe him to me. I just passed it on, and, in my own defense, let me remark that when you get to be as old a mossback as I am, you, too, will regard a 30 year old, ANY 30 year old, as a kid. Live another 40 years and you'll see what I mean.
The on-line ref she had for Pamela Morey dates from when she was not living here and got messages at the Green Door. You will find her listed, of all places, in the telephone book. Sometimes the old technology is better than the new.
In view of Mr Muto's behavior in the past I'd say he's a very good suspect for the latest egg attack on the Green Door. He has motive, opportunity, and an obvious lack of self-control. He blames Hemann for all the ills afflicting his business. He is obviously given to petulance, choler, and violent response. Robert Van Peer did nothing to stop his friend's violence, contenting himself with taking pictures of the altercation with his cell phone. Quite the pacifist, as they are, both of them, obviously gentle souls who want nothing more than to play with bunnies and kitties and treat Dan Hemann to an occasional bash-up. Mr Van Peer, I challenge you to send the photos to the AVA so we can see for ourselves. If they support Mr Muto's version of what happened, they will do much to quell the he said/he said nature of this situation. Dan Hemann has a hospital report of his condition after Mr Sweetness and Light punched him out and deafened him in one ear temporarily. Where's Mr Muto's hospital report of injuries inflicted on him? Or did he just bruise his poor hand on Mr Hemann's unreasonably hard head and not require medical attention?
Don't you consider all this negative publicity bad for business, Mr M? Or is any publicity good publicity as long as they spell the name right? You can capitalize on the violence aspect in your business. Bolt the furniture to the floor and serve the drinks in Styrofoam cups. Hang chicken wire in front of the stage. Change the place's name to, Il secchio di sangue. It sounds classy in Italian. Just don't let things get too noisy.
All Dan Hemann has been asking from the start is that V'Canto work within the strictures set down by the ABC licensing of the establishment. The issue is noise — noise that has caused a constant turnover in the four upstairs apartments, recently renovated and very reasonably priced, in the building V'Canto occupies. Considering the downtown “dead zone” of vacant stores that have blighted the main business block for several years now I don't blame the landlord for not wanting the most expensive space in his building vacant and unproductive. He's probably sympathetic to a fellow business person who is struggling to stay afloat in these perilous economic times. Better to take the loss of an occasional month's rent from the lesser cash flow places upstairs. If you're hard of hearing and looking for a nice place, you might find this one ideal.
Since the ABC briefly closed V'Canto down for noise violations recently, I am told the noise situation has improved. Mr. Muto seems to be learning that he is not exempt from the strictures of the law. I note that most of the negative comments about Mr Hemann were made by those lacking the cojones to sign their names. No extra points for cowardice, gang.
V'Canto is still for sale, asking price $150,000, with the reason given for the sale being retirement. The place reportedly grosses $500,000 a year. No employees are listed in the offerings, so presumably Mr Muto is operating this busy restaurant alone. No wonder the poor man is stressed!
I give Freda Moon an A for effort. I don't know how you can cover a two-sided story when one side doesn't want to talk to you. Too bad you can't give her the traditional training of a newshound — a stint at the police desk. Covering the many foibles of our fellow mortals gives one a cynical detachment, so necessary for survival on either a police or news beat. Just when you think you've seen it all, you are shown that you haven't. Not at all.
She's done well covering the Vargas case I guess she feels more at home doing that kind of reporting.
You could always put her to covering School Board meetings. A few months covering the Talmadge Taliban and she'll gather what scraps of her sanity remain and cover stories like this one a lot better.
You go, girl! If Helen Thomas can do it, so can you.
Freda Moon replies: There is no one more charming than he who lectures others on how to do their job or raise their children. But that’s neither here nor there. What’s most striking in your response is that you don’t seem to have read either of my stories on the Green Door Studio-V’Canto fiasco, despite having responded to both of them at great length. In your most recent lament on the sorry state of journalism, you accuse me of failing to build “a rapport” with Dan Hemann, as if the job of a reporter is to cozy up with her sources, like Judith Miller neck-nuzzling Scooter Libby. My job is to get sources to speak candidly, but to get them to speak candidly I must also ask them uncomfortable questions. For my first story about Hemann’s feud with Jim Muto, Hemann talked my ear off, and I quoted him extensively in that piece. The fact that I had — and continue to have — questions about Hemann’s view of events (his vision of Headlands Coffeehouse as a blight on Fort Bragg’s downtown, for example, or his accusations about Muto’s late-night egg throwing) is no more malevolent than me asking Muto whether he threw eggs or clocked Hemann (Answers: “No” and “I might have.”). You seem to think I’m swell when I cover a topic — the Vargas case, in this instance — about which you agree with the questions I raise, but you insist I’m a fraud (a malicious fraud, no less) when you don’t. It’s a double standard that belies your self-appointed status as Mendocino County’s Dean of Journalism.
OUR RULING PSYCHOPATHS
You know what I saw walking down the street the other day? I could hardly believe my eyes! I saw a corporate person, attired in a long black lady’s dressing gown. As a gust of wind swept the dress open, I spied, packed underneath, a pearl-handled pistol.
When corruption and incompetence are so intertwined that the lines between reality and non-reality are indistinguishable, insanity results. Does anyone else agree that greed-driven psychopaths run this country?
As my long-time advising attorney, the late Helen Shapiro, stated, “Our legal system is so corrupt it cannot be reformed. The only thing we can do is dismantle it.”
Thanks to Lee Simon for his great letter on the multi-layered effects of over-population (February 24, 2010). I've long been dismayed that this mother-of-all-problems has been essentially ignored by the media and politicians as the entire globe sags ever lower under the relentless tide of humanity. Every economy on Earth is, alas, based on the idea of endless growth, the same deadly strategy driving cancerous tumors — -and we all know how that ends.
The only hope I see is that someone will invent a way to simultaneously shrink the world's economies and its population while making everyone gradually richer, healthier and happier in the process.
The AVA should run Mr. Simon's letter on the front page.
BLACK & BLING
Letter to the Editor:
Resolution: maybe. I was there, among the hooting, cheering, singing and other cacophony known as the Anderson Valley Variety Show when this news guy comes on stage supposedly to trap that Black Elvis character you folks have been talking about. He called himself Larry Bling of the Larry Bling show. He even brought a piano accompanist, who played “Love Me Tender” while he talked. Anyway this guy’s got the scoop on this little wooden dude, shows us a bunch of pictures of the Black Elvis out in the light except for some strange photos at the airport. Apparently his staff found these pictures on security cameras at the Post Office, Airport, Hotel, fairgrounds and through fairgoer’s photos and a couple of kids’ cellphone cameras. He even had a vacation video with a filmed disappearance. The guy shows this sighting of the real Elvis at the original site of the Black Elvis on Miller’s land, which he called the “abandoned’ site because Larry Bling said the Black Elvis may be under his own power. I saw it, the real Elvis in that Rockin’ roll stance of his; belting out a song. So this Bling dude says he plans to attract the Wooden Elvis using the star studded nature of the V show. You know, like this little statue appears to have the same sort of ego like the King. So, he seems to think he is coming, even says he is getting reports of sightings in the parking lot and we see things happen on stage and damn if Rainbow doesn’t kick the guy off the stage just as it appears like he, I mean the Black Elvis, is gonna appear.
No sooner than Bling leaves, Black Elvis struts out on stage singing “You ain’t nothing but a hound dog.” And here’s the kicker, those loony operatives that Bling hired apparently snagged Miller to be the pianist. It appears that Miller ain’t no dusty cookie because he planned to be there when the statue was snagged. He was worried Bling would take the statue off to New York or Tennessee. Anyway Miller went nuts as his little wooden icon reappeared, eyes full of joyful tears, jumped up on the main stage and helped him around back stage. I think I saw hand cuffs but well it was a darkened stage at that point. Outside a helicopter took off for New York as all this was going down, Bling and his operatives returning to do a late night show.
Now there was some hub bub back stage well this being in Anderson Valley where anyone’s personal news reverberates back and forth like 8 times until the talked about gets a new version of the storys so there is a bit more about he Black Elvis. Miller threatened to take him back to the ranch and either cement him down or enshrine him in the ranch house where he can watch him or set up some sort of motion device. Miller mumbled something about a tracking device.
HERE COMES L.A.
I hate to break the harsh news, but you have your tectonics backwards. Every year brings L.A. maybe an inch closer to S.F., not an inch further away. Sorry!
You can sit on the sidewalk in Hollister and watch it creep along, if you have the patience. But don't worry! At an inch a year, and maybe 340 miles of fault line from Palmdale to Frisco, it will be 21,542,400 years before you can take the ferry to Pasadena, out where the Farallons are now. Bon voyage!
MENDO GYPS VOLUNTEERS
Mendo Abalone Watch Challenges County Fish & Game Commission Over Disbursement Of Public Funds
Re: County Fish & Game Grant Recommendations — Agenda of March 17, 2010
Dear Members of the Board of Supervisors:
Coming to you with this request that you reject your own Commission’s recommendations is not something that Bill Lemos and I look forward to. Attending your meeting to reinforce the importance of our request we’d rather avoid. But as longtime county residents (especially Bill) and co-founders of MAW, we are compelled to do both.
MAW is an entirely citizen-created organization with about 18 volunteers. I personally absorbed almost all initial equipment costs and expenses to get this group up and running. I not only made a professional decision to stop representation in abalone poach cases, but I thereafter devoted countless hours creating the program, meeting with three co-founders, and developing a plan for development, not to mention the time spent in “doing the work,” i.e., patrolling the coastline on weekends watching for poachers. Many other volunteers have done much of the same and have asked nothing. We are motivated by the fact that someone has to do something to try to stem the problem of poaching and we can’t ask an understaffed DFG to do it all.
As you know, abalone fines provide considerable money to the county and that money is funneled to the local Commission pursuant to Fish & Game Code, sections 12006 and 13003. Evidently you established the Commission precisely for the purpose of making equitable, thoughtful, informed decisions about disbursement. Perhaps you handed the Commission some guidelines in this regard but neither of us have ever seen anything of this sort.
This current funding cycle the Commission had about $43,000 available. As a new organization, we were in need of some additional start-up funds and understood we were well positioned to get a recommendation. We put in one organizational grant and I did a separate individual grant, each with quite different purposes but both designed to enhance the effort to stem poaching and to support our local wardens.
Candidly, I will tell you it came like a slap in the face to us and our other volunteers to have the Commission reject only our proposals of the ten before it and, additionally, to chose to give money to a private corporation, to a federal agency, and a large chunk to fund litigation. There is good reason to believe that personal feelings of animosity by one or more Commission members emanating from disagreements in the current MLPA (Marine Life Protection Act) negotiations influenced this double rejection. If so, it is shameful. We hope you will not condone such action by accepting the current recommendations.
Please also note that the North Coast Fishing Association, an organization whose interests in the MLPA are unknown to us, was provided $5,000 for alleged “stakeholder expenses.” In effect, this seems like free lobbying money for the Association to advance its views about where marine protection zones should be placed, if at all, and to promote commercial fishing values over that of resource protection. Certainly those interests deserve protection and advocacy but it doesn’t seem proper to fund private industry trade organization with public money.
I also know that the $13,500 given to the Association was to support the Association’s involvement in a lawsuit against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) challenging it for alleged lack of a comprehensive plan on wave energy projects. Funding any private group’s litigation would seem to be well outside traditional guidelines for public money. Given these Commission recommendations, if followed, the County would be giving the federal government $5,000 (BLM grant) and then using public money, coupled with a county imprimatur, to advance litigation against the same federal government (FERC). Seems rather inconsistent as well as improper.
As you can see from the attached letter to Craig Bell as Commission Chair, I sought to clarify this situation before writing this letter and appearing before you. But I was roundly ignored, despite this being a Public Records Act request that requires timely ten-day compliance. As I write this letter, it is now Day 7 after the electronic submission of this letter to the Commission and, despite a follow-up email reminder, I’ve not even had my inquiry/request acknowledged. Apparently the Commission intends to stonewall the request to inspect public documents, creating a situation ripe for judicial enforcement of PRA mandates.
The Commission materials given to applicants for grants are jumbled and poorly constructed but, from what I could discern, those documents promise the public that:
• The Commission will “try to fairly allocate between” habitat restoration, artificial propagation and educational projects (absent any “hard and fast rules”) so as to “ensure a suitable mix of activities.”
• The Commission “will use a ranking system and checklist for evaluating proposals.”
I could find nothing else and, as I said, the Commission has not responded to my request for information and details. One is left pondering how a citizen organization, struggling for viability and pursuing goals directly reflective of the purpose of these state monies, is cut out with zero funding, while the Commission allocates almost one-third of its funds to litigation, $5,000 to a for-profit company, $5,000 for unspecified “MLPA Stakeholder Expenses,” and $5,000 to the federal government. How can this possibly be explained and justified? This is particularly shocking given that probably the great bulk of funds handed to the Commission come from abalone fines, yet the Commission sees fit to put none of that money back into abalone resource protection. I hope you will inquire of the Commission about its priorities.
We know that asking you to reject your own Commission’s recommendations places you in a difficult situation and, as we’ve expressed, would have preferred not to make such a request. But that’s where it’s at and that is what needs to be done.
Thank you for your cooperation. Thank you for protecting the public interest and acting to conserve our coastal marine resources.
Rod Jones, Coordinator
Bill Lemos, Coordinator
IN THE KNOW
AVA is the rag of the year/a weekly without fear/from front to rear/from there to here/from far to near/we hold dear.
They follow the government/how out of shape it is bent/how its money is spent/how it steals a mint/and not being transparent/won't say where it went/just a spent cent.
AVA is the rag of the decade/being ornery made the grade/calling spade a spade/“off the record” in raid after raid/in the sun, in the shade/blasphemous, unafraid/it uses a blade to upbraid.
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Every gardener needs a hoe/every person needs some dough/every reader needs a show/aim high, aim low/fast — slow — friend — foe/all a go/AVA puts you in the know.
KEEP TRASH PUBLIC
Every time they privatize a piece of our commonwealth, we lose a piece of our democracy.
They privatized and grabbed the voting machines, and stole a national election. They privatized and grabbed our prisons, and now lobby for longer sentences. They privatized and grabbed our wars, and now they decide who gets killed. They privatized and grabbed our sick care, and now they only insure the healthy. They privatized and grabbed the oceans, and we're running out of fish. They privatized and grabbed our manufacturing, and now we have no jobs.
They are privatizing and grabbing our water systems, and tripling the rates. They want our schools. They want our social security. They want our internet. They want our air. They want all of the universe and space.
Locally, they privatized and grabbed our forests, and now we are out of trees and jobs. And now they are coming for our garbage. Does greed have no boundaries? No it does not. We citizens and our representatives have to set the boundaries and stop them at the fence line.
The shortcomings of privatization are well documented. It replaces living-wage employment with lower-paying jobs that offer few or no benefits and no union representation. Privatization rarely results in significant savings to taxpayers. More often, costs go up because the privateers are forced to choose between quality services and higher profits, leaving us citizens with the worst of all worlds... poorer services and higher costs.
When a public service is privatized, the privateers have to subtract their investors' profit from the money available to provide the service. Given this simple math, how can a private company pay a profit and still provide the same level of service and at less cost than the public sector? They can't and they don't. All you have to do is check the well-documented comparisons of our health care system and all the others in industrialized countries.
The privatizing of our common wealth is a fraud and a sham making a few people rich and the rest of us poorer.
If there is any democracy left in our country it is still available at our local level. Let's stop the privateers at the fence line. Let's stop this theft of our common wealth and strengthen our democracy at the local level. At the very least, we can be responsible for our own garbage.
Stop The Garbage Grab Now!