BOS After Another Critical Common

From yesterday’s Times-Standard two verbatim letters to the editor regarding a Board of Supervisors meeting today.

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Serious concerns about proposed library budget

I am writing to you because I am VERY concerned about the budget problems of our public library. I understand there is a proposed budget that saves money in part by cutting staff in the library’s Public Services department that will severely affect the ability of our library system to provide the important public services Humboldt County residents get from our library. I also understand that this proposed budget would first be presented to the Board of Supervisors at a public hearing on April 25. This proposed budget will cut important positions including the public services manager position, which will severely reduce the library’s ability to be a library that provides many kinds of information services. For a library the size of Humboldt County Library, the staff is already small with many positions cut or left unfilled over the last several years resulting in a workload that is already heaving in all departments. Other positions to be cut now include the part time fiction buyer, a critical task. Why are crucial positions being cut, with no plans on how those tasks are to be fulfilled in the future, rather than making, for example, smaller across the board cuts for all departments and positions? Please join me in contacting the Board of Supervisors to encourage them to become involved in saving vital service functions of our crucial and important library, rather than just accepting this proposed budget that will be so damaging to critical information services.

Emily Siegel, LCSW, Eureka

Dear supervisors: Libraries do not need more cuts

It has come to my attention that there is a proposal to cut funds for the library’s 2016-17 budget year. This will be going to the Board of Supervisors April 25 at their 1:30 p.m. meeting. Having been a library patron since learning to read, I find that this is not acceptable. I hope other supporters of the library will try to attend this meeting on Monday. The board needs to hear from you.

Carol Kinser, president, Friends of the Fortuna Library


Our libraries are a critical component of an improved quality of life for all of us, in other words a critical aspect of our public sphere.  They have suffered enough cuts in the past decades and this needs to stop.

Unlike the funding darling de-jour, libraries do not have a direct link to public safety concerns, but if we continue to gut our commons, the ultimate result will be a need to spend more and more money to keep those who haven’t kept up with the economy locked up or shipped away.

Supervisor Bass and peers, please don’t make any more cuts to our libraries.

Bernie DID Get His Clock Cleaned

For more.

Democrats Behaving Badly

As the one party in “one party rule”, sometimes center-right Democrats need to bite their tongue and do some hard work they feel they need to do.  You can tell this is happening when there is a request for a secret ballot or debate behind closed doors.

Those payinHumboldt County Democratsg close attention won’t soon forget when the Coastal Commission with many Commissioners appointed by Democratic elected officials went behind closed doors to fire their Executive Director, Charles Lester.  By all accounts outside of most land owners and developers Mr. Lester was someone who excelled at his job – protecting California’s coasts.

Last night, in a monthly meeting with typically low attendance and after a poorly planned and executed vote, Supervisor Estelle Fennell finally won a long-sought endorsement from the Humboldt County Democratic Central Committee.

The vote by secret ballot was at least 8-6 (it was not announced if there were more than 8 votes for Supervisor Fennell).  Members present where Chair Bob Service, Vice Chair Milt Boyd, Secretary Barbara Kennedy, Vice Treasurer Phillis Seawright, Pam Service, Arcata Councilmember Michael Winkler, Julie Timmons, Roger Smith, Kathy Sobilio, Kathryn Donahue, Chris House, Richard Leamon, Pam Cahill’s proxy Matthew Owen. (I’m missing someone and for the life of me I can’t think of whom – apologies to that individual!)

Both Barbara Kennedy and Michael Winkler spoke out eloquently against the eventual endorsee.  Thank you btw to both of you for your passion and focus on issues and Democratic values.

In 2014 when the 4th District had an extremely competitive race there was a more formal and transparent process.  These were the results of this vote.  These were the members present last night that supported Virginia Bass who like Estelle Fennell votes consistently to favor private interests in their attempts to direct the process of public land-use planning,

Those members from 2014 who did not support candidate Chris Kerrigan and voted last night were Phillis Seawright, Pam Cahill, Richard Leamon, Milt Boyd, Pam Cahill and Chris House.  If I was in charge of rounding up votes to insure Supervisor Fennell did not get the endorsement, these are people I would like to have not been present last night.

Lookit, I don’t begrudge any of those who voted to endorse Supervisor Fennell as she faces her second election – all Democrats are not going to agree.  The problem is that the endorsement process is the one method the HCDCC does get to put it’s finger on the balance of issue advocacy.

Last night the HCDCC failed in connecting the dots in local issues and greater Democratic goals which necessarily include the public’s (our) ability to plan, and make difficult decisions for future land use.  We* endorsed a candidate who subverted democracy and true public participation in the name of public participation.

And it is obvious that we knew what we were doing because we requested and executed this vote in secret.  I understand the necessity for secret votes, and I can anticipate the argument that posts like this are exactly the reason we need secret votes.  Sincere question, is this true?

This isn’t about divisiveness.  This isn’t about unfriendliness or dislike.  I hope this isn’t perceived as bullying or intimidation because it certainly isn’t intended to be.  This is about policy and on matters critical to the future of our County.  Supervisor Fennell and those Members last night who voted to have Humboldt County Democrats endorse her have put the stamp of HCDCC approval on her confounding first term.  Her legacy already promises to be with us for decades given the divergent path she chose from previous work on the General Plan Update, with support from Supervisors Bohn, Sundberg and Bass.

Yes she has chosen the “D”, but that alone cannot define who we are as Democrats.  To an unaccountable majority in the HCDCC last night that “D” trumped (sorry) democratic issue advocacy by the official voice of Humboldt Democrats.  And I think this is the reason for the secret vote.  This is Democrats voting like property-rights advocates, people know it isn’t the Democratic thing to do and they’d rather not have their name attached to the vote to endorse Supervisor Fennell.

It’s Democrats behaving like Republicans in a county that has a 25 point Democratic edge in State-wide elections.  In other words, it’s Democrats behaving badly and they’d rather not be accountable for their votes.  imho.


*Now “they” as after the meeting I resigned as an Associate Member as it was the only way I could have written this piece without being subject to removal.

Blind Spots

We all have blind spots.  Ourselves, our institutions, our society.

Blind spots are simply those things that well meaning people miss either by denial or omission.  As Donald Rumsfeld might describe them they are either the known unknowns or the unknown unknowns.

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Here is a short list of local blind spots of local institutions.  I believe these current blind spots will help define our common future.

a) A Democratic Party (local, state and national) that has largely forgotten it’s responsibility as the party of the 90%.  Reference:  Thomas Frank’s Listen Liberal.  Solution:  We need all need to get involved.

b) A local environmental movement which largely forgives or forgets about the cumulative effects of our largest and growing agri-dustrial sector.  Reference:  Fundraising letter from EPIC below the fold.  Solutions:  Demand accountability from those we task with being the conscience of our commons. Also, greater structural changes.

c) Businesses that have forgotten or deny that their own workers deserve a living wage and this is critical for any sustainability of our society into the future.  Even if they themselves cannot afford to pay these, they rightfully should be advocates for the injustice of the status quo and helping us to define where it is we need to go.  Reference:  Co-op and Eureka Natural Foods as two examples who sell sustainability, except when it comes to living wages which they will fight against either with silence or advocacy.  Solution:  Get the word out to those businesses you frequent that the wages of their employees is important to you.  Also, greater structural changes.

d) An economy  and society that only remembers that some percentage are not making it when they are forced to live in the same vicinity.  Reference: Houselessness in Humboldt and Eureka.  Solution:  Greater structural changes, not what we are currently doing.

There is an unintentional theme here.  It’s how we all make our own lives and priorities match with what is essentially an economic system with winners and losers.  This takes us back to a), our Democratic political party which has dropped the ball and needs to regain focus combining FDR’s view of governmental action against a rigged economy with a continuation of LBJ’s action on civil rights and racial justice.


Continue reading “Blind Spots”

Lifting the Cap on Social Security Taxable Income

Why not?  I just don’t understand this.  It can go a long way towards making Social Security solid for decades into the future.  In the clip below from This Week with George Stephanopoulos yesterday, Bernie is arguing it can also be used to expand benefits.

Why isn’t Hillary fighting hard for this?  Like President Obama passing the Affordable Care Act, expanding funding to Social Security is a tangible movement a Democratic leader could make to restoring an America which is striving to reduce poverty.  Especially in the most vulnerable of populations, especially after a life of work.

Why not have those privileged to be making $250,000 and above pay the same Social Security tax those making less than that have to pay?  It does not make any sense and what makes even less sense is that we don’t hear about this more often.

Thank you Bernie for making it through the baloney questions from George Stephanopoulos and talking about policy.  Even if you only had a couple of minutes to do so.

Fortuna Leads by Adopting the CCA Ordinance

Councilmembers of Eureka City Council, let’s follow your colleague’s lead on this too please.

From page 2 of today’s TS:

The Fortuna City Council adopted a Community Choice Aggregation ordinance Monday that authorized the city’s participation in a CCA program implemented and operated by the Redwood Coast Energy Authority.

And this:

Power is generated by the CCA but uses the existing wire and infrastructure already in place to distribute power. In this case the infrastructure is owned by Pacific Gas and Electric Co., which will still deliver meter and bill for the power purchased by the CCA.

Not quite.  Power won’t be generated by the CCA, but they will be buying it from those that do.  This is why Eureka’s participation up front will be very helpful.  More meters (in terms of Eureka’s significant portion of Humboldt’s population) means more leverage to get the best prices.

At least as I understand it, and yes this is all very new and confusing so we are all allowed a learning curb as we find ways to add what hopefully will remain a local public option as competition to a monopolistic public utility who is not intrinsically interested in promoting local energy production alternatives.

 

“Qualified”gate: A Mistake by Bernie.

Last night Bernie overstepped.  Kevin Drum of Mother Jones writes this indicates the rhetoric has been elevated to “DEFCON 1” and and John Amato whom I will reference below writes this augurs a “really brutal” stage of Democratic primary for those of us with something at stake in this process.

Here is the clip from a Bernie rally in Philadelphia last night.

And here is a good summary of the clip in context of the day’s media events from John Amato founder of the website Crooks and Liars.

Some thoughts…

a) Hillary had not said Bernie was unqualified, but she did not rebut MSNBC’s repeated and slanted question.  Former Republican Congressman and Trump apologist Joe Scarborough asked 3 times if Hillary thought that Bernie was unqualified followed by answers by Hillary about why she thinks she would be a better President than Bernie. (find clip of this in John Amato’s post linked above).  In the end, although not affirming that Bernie would be eminently qualified himself, Hillary does rightfully conclude that the voters should be making the decision.

b) Yes, there was an “if” to Bernie’s statement and he wasn’t speaking about Hillary the person as much as he was talking about that stuff he is trying to get through our thick skulls.  …but…  He can’t ever forget he is running against potentially America’s first woman President and a man of the left cannot call a woman who is arguably the most qualified person in America to be President given her experience as a Senator, Secretary of State and even First Lady unqualified.  It will be seen as part of a familiar pattern to 50.8% of Americans, not to mention those men who can see what is going on.

(unrelated bonus bullet-point) c)  Note to Bernie’s staff – make sure he stands well above the podium in the future.

Bernie shouldn’t have said what he said. Hillary is eminently qualified to be President  AND our system is rigged by money and elected leaders such as former Senator Clinton have made horrible decisions like going into Iraq and failing to protect American workers.

Now when I Google the search term “hillary unqualified” to find the video linked above the ad that shows up is Hillary’s official campaign website.  Good move Hillary!

Politics.  AmIright?

RCEA Selects TEA to Lead CCA (What?)

At last night’s Eureka Energy Committee (EEC) meeting Matthew Marshall, Executive Director of Redwood Coast Energy Authority (RCEA)  introduced Jeff Fuller of The Energy Authority and Sean Marshall of Lean Energy as the group selected to head up Humboldt’s Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program.

This will be a big change and I hope Eureka via our City Council will help lead Humboldt into what has been a successful and sector-changing in counties such as Marin and Sonoma.

My request is for the Eureka City Council to push this to the top of their upcoming agenda to find out as much as they can and make their decision sooner rather than later for Eureka.  If this CCA as organized by the RCEA is found to be solid,  Eureka could then join with other leading jurisdictions who will be going through the same decision process.  If Eureka can join other leading jurisdictions which is likely to include at the very least Arcata, having Eureka’s electricity consumers on board means more meters (customers) for those running the CCA.  More meters a greater economy of scale meaning more leverage and options for those running our CCA as they traverse the changing energy marketplace.

Eureka, let’s take the lead in shaking up PG&E’s electricity production monopoly.  The technology and the resources exist in, for example, local biofuel plants and rooftop solar, what comes next is the infrastructure to handle and promote local electricity production.  Let’s lead this necessary change.

Please Consider both the Houseless and their Dogs

By request by Humboldt49 (aka Mom).

Like it or not (& I decidedly don’t) the forced eviction of the houseless continues and good people are doing what they can to help ease the transition.

From an email from Edie Jessup of , fan of Humboldt’s The Other Side of the Fence,

If you are concerned about the issues of homelessness, and the current threat of displacement of nearly 200 people and their animal companions, here is a way to contribute to assuring that dog companions are not taken from these vulnerable neighbors.  By vaccinating and licensing their dogs. 

go fund me
Please visit this gofundme page.

GOP GOTV: Block Obama’s Supreme Court Nominee

I had an epiphany this morning.  The goal of the GOP maneuver to block any Presidential nominee and thus temporarily halt the eventual flipping of the law of the land from conservative to centrist is to get out the vote (GOTV) of those dwindling few who who still believe in the GOP brand.

The backbone of the Party of Money is not the few with the money for whom the GOP fights tooth-and-nail, but the religious conservatives to whom the Supreme Court trumps (sorry) governing, sound economic policies, etc.  It’s Guns God and Gays all in one and it’s brilliant in the short term and disastrous in the long term for the GOP.

The goal for the true believers in leadership is maintaining the Presidency and thus the Supreme Court.  But at this point Mitch McConnell must realize that the Presidency will go to a Democrat in 2016.  So why the continued intransigence?

In short, it’s a desperate political play to satiate their base and it will be pounded into the electorate’s mind come November that this is “The Most Important Election of Our Lifetimes” and one the reasons will be the Supreme Court.

Remember, they will not have a President to vote for, only a candidate to vote against.  We already know this in March.

Short Term:  (ie, November 8th, 2016)

This may cost the Republicans a couple of Senate seats such as Wisconsin if the Democrats can make their case well.  It’s the consensus American case that the Senate comes back with a result in less than 125 days and we’ve been doing this for 200 odd years.  However, the motivation to get out the vote (GOTV) to prevent the Supreme Court from flipping will be strong and it’s a way to get GOP voters motivated when there is nothing else that can unite them.

This means there will be a pull for Republicans to get to the polls, if not for President, then at least for the Supreme Court, and that will bolster those very close House races giving an advantage at least until 2 years from now when they will have (likely) 2 years of President Hillary Clinton’s record to run against.

Long Term:

The GOP is the party of no-governing and as much as they will like to call this the Biden Rule, the promised unprecedented 236 day hold on the President’s nominee is the GOP rule.

The leaders of the GOP and what seems to be the entire Party is united to prove the point that the people should chose the next Supreme Court Justice.(1)  What?  What was the idea behind the “republic” in Republican again?  Also, doesn’t that make the Supreme Court Justices blatantly political?  And this isn’t some left-wing blogger who, btw, would agree with you, but the leadership of the conservative party whose entire argument for putting conservative justices like Antonin Scalia on the court is he is apolitical, an originalist, a person who realizes the Constitution is above politics?

And now you are arguing that the President doesn’t get to decide who this nominee should be, but the people should be?

Stepping back, it is a brilliant short term plan to hold as many House seats as possible.  Long term it all but guarantees further Trump phenomena in the GOP’s future as the contradictions in priorities between the actual goal of the GOP – protecting wealth – desperately seeks to find reasons to get the people they depend on to get out and vote.  Even if these reasons, on their face, contradict those conservative principles for which the GOP leaders contend they are fighting.


(1)  From the Conservative Review: The ABCs of Blocking Obama’s Supreme Court Nominee

“Making the current presidential election process a referendum on who the voters want to choose the next Supreme Court justice is the best way to resolve the impasse where the appointing authority, a Democrat, is at loggerheads with the confirming authority, the Republican-controlled Senate. It is a myth that the President appoints and the Senate must vote on a nomination. Republicans in the Senate have power, under the Constitution, to merely do nothing.”