Liberal Humboldt, CA

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The Tale of the Signs

One of my tasks is to point out how important narratives are to supporting our views and votes.

This is why, for example, the majority of the time the local Right will rightfully connect Occupy Eureka to the Fair Wage Folks.  I have no problem with this as it’s true and it’s awesome as they are awesome.  The heart of Occupy – the residual activists that remained after the surge of interests include the Fair Wage Folk’s James Decker and Verbena and local First Amendment activist Janelle Eggert.  So I don’t mind when the Right tries to attach R to Occupy.  Darn straight.

What does irritate me is mundane stories taken for fact like this.  It starts with this  scurrilous statement “It probably shouldn’t be called a war since in this case it’s pretty one- sided.” 

Whatever right?  No.  It’s wrong and I accidentally ran into anecdotal evidence proving it’s not one sided.  Twice daily I walk by Lufkin photo in Old Town and appreciated his Yes On R sign.  A couple of days ago it was gone and the owner happened to be outside at the time and confirmed that it was stolen.

Fred’s story is just that – a good story.  It will reinforce those beliefs and internal narratives of the true believers and confirm their biases against left-leaning policies.  And the story goes like this – “The Left are among all the other negative attributes that will creep up in a campaign season (which is 24/7/365 on the blogosphere) – cheaters.  Remember that when you check that mark on your box, ignore the issues and policy and remember the story – a story about good guys and bad guys and we, the Right are the good guys.”

Please, lets make politics less about narratives and more about policy.  There are real problems we have locally and nationally and they deserve decisions based on clarity – not intentional confusion.


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Karuk, Wiyot, Planning Commissioner . . .

Hupa, Yurok, Wiyot, Karuk.

#changethename


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An Overview of Local Endorsements…

…or…Part DCMLVI of an ongoing series illustrating that you have two choices each election day a) right and b) left.

 

141022

 

 

Legend:  R = Republican endorsed or endorsee, D = Democrat endorsed or endorsee, L = Fred Mangels endorsed (our local and outspokentypen? Libertarian).  Links:  GOP, HCDCC, HRWF , Fred, Richard, Eric.  If you know of others, or have endorsments yourself – please leave a comment.

Some notes.  I don’t think you can go wrong voting the all D ticket.  Of course I am most passionate about Natalie, R, and Kim this election season.  I believe we can begin to change the staid vision that business must rule both private and public spheres this election – continuing the work Chris Kerrigan and Linda Atkins have pioneered (at least in recent years).

Not on the chart, but of note:

Matthew Owen and the Times Standard have weighed in against R – telling us more about both of them than the measure.

Also, I finally found Chet Albin’s site and there seems to be some news on it.  Neither Melinda Ciarabellini nor Marian Brady are on it for some reason.  Hmmm.

What is clear though, there was more behind Supervisor Bass’ resignation than what she wrote in her resignation letter from the HCDCC.  Virginia has put her support behind Chet, proving (again) that Matthew and Virginia’s “D” is really simply a means to an end.  Just like Chet’s.

I think that the lines are so clearly drawn give this election a certain legitimacy previous elections have not had.  So there is that.

Now that the lines are clear, lets get out the vote – and – if you are not happy with the two choices you have in June or November, please come volunteer with one of the two organizations that have the infrastructure to change our government – The Democrats or even the Republicans.

BTW, here is the list of Chet’s endorsers…

 

Chet Albin's Endorsers


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Money in Politics. Is There Ethical High Ground?

Yes.  It’s relative, but it is high ground.  One’s party or world view will change one’s perspective, but from each side, there is high ground.

I think both sides would agree that where we are currently is not where we want to be.  One side’s extreme understands money to be speech and probably would decry all campaign finance reform and possibly be against disclosure rules.  I think the liberal side, when not to busy counting their own fundraising totals would largely agree with goals like public financing for campaigns – or- tight spending limits and disclosure measures that insure that one worker has the same political influence as one owner.  You know, similar to the practice of one person, one vote – i.e. democracy.

The question of ethics that John Fullerton and A1 bring up comes down to this.  In our current system, does union spending deserve a special protected designation?  That’s where this conversation heads and although JF and A1 have not specifically brought up that point in these threads, that’s where these discussions lead.

A1 and JF, you conveniently either point your fingers of indignity or cry feigned concern specifically on your political opponents while ignoring the exact same practices by the other side.  Granted Tulare County is not Humboldt, but why should Democrats be in the practice of unilateral withdrawing from generally accepted and recognized legal practices?

The reason I put in the time to create a post about the context of the two races is to show the reality of money in politics in two races.  The spending is even – money spend by Republicans is being matched by Democrats and visa versa.  These are at least two of the most highly contested races in CA.

Unfortunately, if you follow the ID numbers of the donor committees to these two races people from both sides of the aisle will generally be disgusted.   What is most frustrating to me are companies or entities like PG&E, Anheuser Busch, or *sigh* Realtor Associations, donating to both sides.   However, there do exist huge donations that are one sided. One example is Charles Munger of Berkshire Hathaway wealth who has given mind-numbing sums to the Republican Party.  Another is Phillip Morris which all alone seems to me to be a decent indicator that the ethical ground I’m standing on is at least a smidgen higher.

Back to that union spending.  The one that will always be pointed to by the Right as the boogeyman.  Our current conventional wisdom is that union and corporate spending are to be treated equivalently.  They shouldn’t.  For every union there are untold numbers of businesses.  Depending on current profits, these businesses and individuals may have untold monies to donate.  The differences in spending are staggering, if not necessarily in California, where smart money may have already begun to understand that the Republican cause is a lost one, then both nation wide and locally.

You can take a look at our local candidate’s and PAC’s financial disclosure forms to prove this to yourself.  For every $1000 from our local AFSCME chapter, there will be 10 1,500 donations from local businesses or local conservative standard-bearers and possibly even their spouses.  When you factor in the environmental issues that will wedge the union vote, then liberal causes (such as smart growth *sigh*) are handed an even greater challenge come the first Tuesday in both June and November.

So my opinion is this.  John Fullerton’s and A1’s cries of shame and concern are nothing of the sort.  What they are attempts at the very least of ethical equivalency, confusing the public just long enough for the hard work of the contributors to the No On R folks and the countless march of conservative candidates to win another election.

If not this election, I believe good news of sorts is this strategy has a shelf life and it’s time is getting near to be up.  There is not enough money,even given the huge imbalance between right and left causes, to cover up the continued denial of critical global, national and local issues such as our rapidly increasing inequity or climate change.  Eventually, the public at large will begin to notice that the Right cannot seem to answer policy questions and will one day demand more than expensive spoon-fed 30 second ads.

Hopefully that time begins this November 4th.


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Thought for the Day: “No on R” but “Yes on Z”?

To Rex Bohn and other conservatives who will be voting on Z but then work against wage increases for hard working people at the bottom of the pay scale – increases that all but surely would result in lower tax-payer supported safety net programs such as CalFresh, CashAid, and Medi-Cal.  MOLA 42 penned this brilliant thought that was amplified by Mitch! in the archives of Tuluwat.

Add our conservative daily(ish) Times Standard to the list of those opposing R.   Not sure if they’ve supported Z yet or if they will, we’ll see.

” I find it ironic that anti-minimum wage types warn of the economic destruction caused by higher wages and then turn around and support a sales tax. One may raise prices… the other surely will.”

                                                              -MOLA 42


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Shame On Whom Again? ….

…. Resources for a discussion on the ethics of money in politics with a focus on CA Senate Districts 14 and 34.

CA District 14 and 34 are the two races the HCDCC has chosen to contribute to (so far) heavily after having received large union donations.  A1 and John Fullerton have asked some pointed questions or have some made sharp accusations regarding HCDCC spending.  Here is the context before addressing their concerns.

First a basic primer about the California State Senate.  Here is a map of the Senate districts.  You will find in a little blurb in the legend of the map the fact that 2014 will be the first election post redistricting for the red or even districts.  This includes District 2, even though the election is all but certainly more of a ceremony rather than an election for Sonoma Supervisor Mike McGuire.

The races the HCDCC has contributed to are:

a)  Chavez (D) vs. Vidak (R) in Fresno’s California Senate District 14 .  In the last election in 2010 which was pre-redistricting there was a 47% Republican and 34% Democratic population.  This time District 14, which has moved significantly has 49% Democratic registration to 29% Republican as of 9/5/14.

and b) Solorio (D) vs. Nguyen (R) in Orange County’s District 34.  Pre and Post -re-districting took the voter registration in this district from 44% (D) to 33% (R) to 39% (D) to 34% (R) as of early September.

Below are the contributions as of early yesterday morning including all contributions above $1,000 after 9/30 and all contributions from 7/1/14 to 9/30/14.  As we know from our local election news, all contributions over $100 are itemized.  I’ve included excel spread sheets with all the reported contributions, and for those without access to a spreadsheet, this post ends with screen shots of the candidate’s top donors.

a) CA Sentate District 14:

Vidak for Senate 101514

$1,213,391.49 from 762 contributors.

Chavez for Senate 101614

$1,415,199.28 from 211 contributors.

b) CA Senate District 34

Solorio for Senate 101514

$1,445,804.48 in contributions from 539 contributors.

Nguyen for Senate 101514

$1,498,404 in contributions from 974 contributors.

John and A1, I’ve done most of the hard work for you, all you have to do is click the links so we can have an informed discussion about the ethics of money in politics and who should be pointing and crying “for shame” to whom.

I’d also like to frame the issue with this graph of income inequality (as always) and this graph below of declining worker compensation for increased productivity over the past 30 years (From the working class oriented Economic Policy Institute).  You of course are welcome to link or reference your own charts.

Productivity vs Wages

For those readers without a spreadsheet program (one of the major disadvantages of our push to mobile computing) here are screen shots of the top donors for each of the candidates mentioned above.

District 14:

Vidak (R)

Vidak's Top Contributors

Chavez (D)

Chavez's Top Contributors

District 34:

Nguyen (R)

Nguyen's Top Contributors

Solorio (D)

Solorio's Top Contributors


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Eureka’s Accepted Feudalism

This is a sadly low energy election season, I’ll be honest.  I have not been a part of any campaign although I really would have loved to, maybe if I had, I’d feel a different energy.

What I feel in our politics is lethargy and apathy and a media that has thrown in the towel.  The lone debate I’ve heard of is the debate at the conservative businessperson’s Elks Club where questions, even after filtered by the League of Women Voters can be framed like this Measure R may send businesses out of town, what will you do?” (notes from Richard Marks a stated but very quiet friend of Measure R)

KEET will have a series of upcoming debates (Thank you Tom Sebourn – one hour for both Eureka races and another hour for the issue most in the working class could (or should) care less about – Measure P regarding the local banning of genetically modified organisms.

What is missing from KEET’s schedule is the fairly revolutionary (no pun intended)  idea of a $3 raise in the minimum wage.  A measure for Eureka to begin to add some fairness to those doing the economically thankless jobs serving our community.

That’s the bad news.  The good news is that the dividing political lines are clear again now that the environment is off the table this election leaving the politics of economics – the ultimate characteristic distinguishing left and right – as the dividing issue.

Supervisor Bass is now happily supporting conservative and Tea Party liking Chet Albin on radio ads and Matthew Owen is happily able to speak out loud and clear against Measure R.   Democrats have endorsed and will vote for Natalie Arroyo, Kim Bergel, and Measure R.  Conservatives like Virginia, Charlie Bean, John Fullerton, Jaison Chand and Fred Sundquist,  Debbie Provolt, The Harbor Bay Working Group…(more to come)

This is our group of local Chamber of Commerce conservatives.  Outside of Frank Jager and John Fullerton they all realize that the “R” is too heavy a burden to carry into an election, but they want to keep the ideology.  This is an ideology that believes business knows best for our community’s future.  Government is really about serving the needs of the “Job Creators”.  This sounds great.  It sounds efficient, low friction, low conflict, nice.

The problem is it disallows the public.  We know this to be true and we’ve learned to accept things like a internet presence of entities and candidates like The Chamber of Commerce, Chet Albin, Mike Newman (15 questions 0 answered).  Oh yeah and don’t forget Ryan Sundberg and Virginia Bass (24 questions total, 0 answered).  We’ve come to accept that messages are best made in 30 second radio ads, 30 second TV ads, and the positioning and quantity of signs as somehow significant.  Somehow, we’ve accepted what is necessary for those running for office have 1 million, 5 million or 300 million constituents with those that have 2,000.

Let’s stop accepting this.  Let’s register (please – I will beg – less than a week left).  And lets vote for measures and people that can talk to us about what they really believe.  People like Natalie Arroyo, Kim Bergel, and Measures like R (18 questions/15 answered).

Being able to speak about what you believe – especially when confronted with opposing ideas – matters.  It means you have thought about your vision for our future and not just accepted the vision of those who support you.  Let’s demand our leaders to be accountable.  This means for starters our leaders have to talk to us on the record, even those that may disagree with them, and not simply stand behind anonymous money to get themselves elected (and their chosen measures passed or not).

Eureka’s past and present feudalistic tendencies don’t have to be a part of our future if we the public so chose.


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Announcement. Workers: City Cab Is Sympathetic.

…just not enough to advocate to pay you closer to a living wage.

Jaison Chand (full disclosure – a former boss) wants you to know that he is sympathetic to you minimum wage worker (see Sunday’s TS add below).  His advise – live in a back room of a body shop – work multiple jobs – and stick with the one that makes it.

Like many others, Jaison had to make it through difficult times and struggle to make it where he is today.  Sincere kudos Mr. Chand.  You are another HumCo success story.  May there be many others.

Of course this apology for City Cab which is basically announcing a $1.50 cab fare raise or reduced services to the elderly and disabled if you choose to vote to give Eureka workers a living wage.

Unfortunately, as many who has had meetings with Jaison may have experienced, this is not all of the truth.  Here are some portions of his piece I would dispute.

  • Your boss, Fred, is not a greedy fat cat – no one is saying from Yes On R.  But Fred Sunquist did not have to live the hard-scrabble life you did.  His family’s wealth gave him and his siblings a little head start to be the revered job creator and community booster he is today.  This is definitively not about envy, but it is about the two Americas John Edwards was speaking about.  I do not wish for myself or my community members for the status symbol cars or homes or property or wealth – what I do wish for all of us – including you, Fred and your families is an ability to earn a living if you work hard – a living that will earn you things like ownership of a home, college for your children, health coverage that won’t necessitate a fire sale at the end of one’s life, etc.   Obviously Measure R doesn’t do all of this, but it is a step in the right direction.
  • What about competition?  If your business model is no longer affordable, where you have to threaten the voting public with a $1.50 raise if R is passed, what if City Cab would work with the city to provide choice in cab service?  This would allow more owners.  There are many opportunities here with the advances of technology – services such as Uber, etc.  Is there City, County, or State regulations we could change that would allow other companies with perhaps a different business model?
  • Back to the threats.  Don’t you find it a little sickening to the stomach that if services paid for by our community and society for the special care of a population in need – like the transportation of our elderly and disabled – isn’t it sickening if the people doing that work don’t get what can be considered to be a living wage?  So yes, let’s continue these services and let’s pay the employees appropriately.  If we can’t, then let’s make sure in the next election we do things to increase public spending appropriately for the care of the elderly and disable – things like removing the disgraceful cap on Medicare/Medicaid taxes at earnings.
  • Measure R is not strictly about the minimum rage, which is why your rhetorical questions at the beginning of your piece are only that – rhetorical.  I’m sure I’m speaking for all the Fair Wage Folks when I say we’d love to pass a measure county wide and for all employers and for a higher minimum wage, but this is what is currently politically feasible.  It is not about WalMart or McDonalds or even City Ambulance/City Cab.  It’s about their employees – people who are not getting a fair wage for their work given that the employment market is flooded with people looking for jobs.  There will always be another worker willing to work on an unsustainable income because there will always be someone either with less costs or in an even more dire situation.  The people willing to work for their money deserve to earn a living too.
  • What measure R is about is collective bargaining.  This means we should all – including employers – be encouraging employees to collectively bargain for our contracts.  If this became the norm again, we may begin to turn back the incredible national inequity that, we can see manifest even at City Ambulance.  This quote is from Mitch Trachtenburg who seems to be the only person touting this important and overlooked section of the measure.

Anyone who has read the Eureka Fair Wage Act ought to know that section123.05 says that if an employer and their employees conclude that it would be in their mutual best interest to waive the $12 minimum, after the employees inspect their employer’s books, they can waive the minimum.

What this means is that no business will close as a result of this act, unless the employer is unwilling to tell their minimum-wage employees how profitable the business is, or unless the employer open their books but the employees decide their wages are unreasonable, given the business’ profit margin.

No On R

What this is really all about, what Jaison is unwilling to write about is City Cab’s unwillingness to allow employees to collectively bargain.  As one who has tried, they work hard and proactively to instill fear in their workers against any attempts to disrupt, let’s admit it, a neo-feudal system set up once one enters and exits City Ambulance/City Cab’s property as an employee.


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The Ten Thousand Dollar 100 and Reagan

Our local business elite, our private sector bosses, many of our job creators suddenly have become big government liberals.  They are all for minimum wages, in fact they argue that it’s “unfair” that this minimum wage measure doesn’t cover the entire county.

They are freeing themselves from the standard and accepted rhetoric of the Right that talks about government over-reach. Suddenly the defenders of free market capitalism not only demand a minimum-wage but one that is higher than the just raised $9 minimum and one that is county wide.  They just want to make sure this minimum wage is done right.

Hogwash.

Here is a cut and re-cut version of Reagan’s “A Time for Choosing” speech recently posted with cinematic music background on a recent Hum GOP post.  After all the classic Drudge and Rush anti-Obama slanted stats, at the 5 min and 30 sec mark you get the reason to “join us” as conservatives – “we have the winning argument” and here is that argument – in Reagan’s words.

“I have spent most of my life as a Democrat. I recently have seen fit to follow another course. I believe that the issues confronting us cross party lines… outside of its legitimate function, government does nothing as well or as economically as the private sector of the economy. … For three decades, we’ve sought to solve the problems of unemployment through government planning, and the more the plans fail, the more the planners plan…And they know when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose.Somewhere a perversion has taken place. Our natural, unalienable rights are now considered to be a dispensation of government, and freedom has never been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp as it is at this moment.”

And that has sadly been the winning conservative argument since then.  Unfortunately it too is hogwash.  Local and national conservatives DO believe in government as is clear in this minimum wage back-and-forth and, btw,  the campaign finance reform proposal the BOS will likely pass this week.

In reality job creators and conservatives really don’t mind plans or even planners – just as long as they themselves are either are the planners or they control the plans.

In other words government working for the private sector is what Reagan conservatism is really about.  It’s why policies and protections for workers, labor their families have been systematically gutted since Reagan and his followers finally reached the pinnacle of power in 1980.  It’s why our society suffers the dangerous and increasing levels of wealth inequity.

If the spokes-people for the shy 100 contributing $10,000 on John Fullerton’s campaign finance report would like to see a higher minimum wage for all the county enacted just a little more prudently, I’m guessing that isn’t necessarily the first thought of the $10,000 100.  Which may be one of the actual reasons they are being so shy.

The $10,000 100 don’t strike me as the sensitive types – but who am I to say?  I don’t know who they are.


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The Stories 460s Tell: HCDCC Edition

Wearing my member-of-the-public hat I can disclose to you some wonderful work the HCDCC is doing on behalf of unions and state Democrats.

Reading campaign finance reports since the beginning of 2014 filed with HumCo’s election office, the most recent contributions using this admittedly user-unfriendly website, and the HCDCC’s publicly available filing ID of 761414 I’ve noticed that there are large contributions to the committee by our wonderful unions.  Here are the totals…

Date:               Amount:       Contributor:

12/30/13          $34,000         AFSCME (full disclosure – I’m a dues-paying member)

8/8/14              $33,000         California Teachers Association

8/12/14             $34,000        CA State Council of Service Employees

9/16/14             $34,000        California School Employees Association

10/10/14           $25,000        California State Association of Electrical Workers

10/10/14           $34,000        AFSCME

Total:                 $194,000

Using the same sources, here are the significant non-local outlays:

Date:               Amount:       Recipient:

9/19/14           $35,000          Solorio for Senate 2014

9/25/14           $50,000          Chavez for Senate 2014

9/30/14           $25,000          Solorio for Senate 2014

Total:               $110,000

Those are some public numbers for your perusal HumCo electorate.  Before those of you inclined to get indignant from numbers like these get too indignant, please pay close attention to the eventual campaign finance for both candidates of these critical SoCal races.  Here is one report on a major recent donation.

Money isn’t pretty in our political system.  Liberals need to learn to be as transparent and open and discuss the forces that requires these somewhat odd money-paths.  The stories about money that need to be told are not largely due to the overwhelming advantage conservatives have on this issue.  It’s time for liberals to start fighting back and explain exactly what is going on.  It’s difficult and probably pretty boring to most as it involves numbers, but the answers are in those hard-fought political campaign finance reports.

Full disclosure (part deux), in addition to being a member of the public, I am also the HCDCC Treasurer.

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