Back St. Joe’s Workers, Not St. Joe’s Administration

Eurekans might have seen signs calling for the end to poverty wages pop up on our daily commutes.  This is a topic that LoCO has covered and St. Joe has taken out full page ads to tout how “generous” a partner it IMG_0402has been to our community.

The thing is, as always in our economy the generosity is blanketed on those with money and spread out with very careful accounting to the needy, while the middle class and the blue (and pink) collar workers are squeezed even further.

Below is a graph from the Union sponsored report LoCO reprinted.  Notice the $10 wage (SJHE = Eureka’s St. Joe, RMH = Fortuna’s Redwood Memorial, SRMH = Santa Rosa’s Memorial Health, and MMC = Redding’s Mercy Medical Center).  I can hear you saying, yeah but, we get paid less up here behind the redwood curtain and that’s just the way it is.  Really?

It is the way it is, but why?  I contend it is a conservative business and government governance we’ve simply accepted as fact.  It doesn’t have to be this way.

Below is a quick tablenoting a couple of income indicators from the Amazing Census ™.  Santa Rosa (SRMH above) does have significantly higher income indicators*, but Redding?  Why do our workers have to suffer the indignity of low wages.  I really don’t feel there are good reasons other than this region has been used to union-busting management for decades.

Regional Income

If you don’t believe me, you can just read it between the lines in St. Joe’s polished full page ad.  It starts out with … (highlights mine)

“Recently, you may have read materials from large out-of-town union representatives that have misleading information about our St. Joseph Health, Humboldt County ministries — St. Joseph Hospital Eureka and Redwood Memorial Hospital. We want to make sure you hear directly from us on this important topic.”

It continues with this fun right wing canard – darn government regulations.  They don’t seem to mention that these regulations have helped to expand Medi-Cal roles by 30% since the ACA began.

“While government regulations and economic pressures are reducing our reimbursements, and asking us to continue to provide better care, we have continually re-invested in our communities.”


“We want you to be well informed about our pay and benefit practices and to know how privileged we are to work with so many talented and dedicated individuals who do their very best to serve you”

If this is true, then how can we accept such comparatively low wages?  Wages that are below living wages in a local economic sector that is flush with financial success?  Any questions about that success – simply drive by the palace/hospital St. Joe’s has built itself in the past 5 years.

Is it just me, or should a religious institution be leading the way in the employee salaries, especially those traditionally lower-paid, while making capital investments only once the laborers are getting their fair share?

What can we do?  Pass the idea of these yard signs forward.  Continue to let friends and family know that we need to start fighting for living wages for our employees.  Write letters to the editor.  Start taking back arguments about the importance of private sector unions.

Eventually, we’ll be able to crack the rhetorical lock the right has and the 10% have on unions and living wages.  We’ve bought into this rhetoric for years, but finally as we are confronted with reality their rhetoric will increasingly seem hollow and the simplest of remedies will finally, again, seem like common-sense.

We’ll get there.

*  This also might be due to an interior Santa Rosa that is more well-to-do than its suburbs and exurbs.  It’s very likely that the workers and community Memorial Hospital serves has household incomes more in line with Humboldt’s than Santa Rosa proper.

Continue reading “Back St. Joe’s Workers, Not St. Joe’s Administration”


Coming July 14th: Completing the Historic Era of Planetary Exploration

“Who knows what wonders await us?”  Probably not meeting extraterrestrials, sorry!

But don’t let that dissuade you from the universe of inorganic interest and intrigue for us inquisitive humans.

Also, common, let’s enjoy Pluto as a planet just a little longer, k?

Continue reading “Coming July 14th: Completing the Historic Era of Planetary Exploration”

The F Word?

Change in format this morning.  A question for the 7 of you.

In your opinion, what is the  most important word or concept for Americans?

At least rhetorically and therefore the one that is at the basis of the politics of both parties.

I think I’m headed somewhere with this.

“The ACA Is Here To Stay”

ACA is here to stay

What a relief.  This was a joke of a lawsuit and it showed in the results thanks to Chief Justice Roberts and swing-vote Justice Kennedy.

From the DailyKos

This decision is frankly, as good as could be hoped for progressives. There was no expansion of any federalism doctrine. In addition, by rejecting Chevron deference, the court has closed the book on interpretation of this provision of ACA. No future GOP Administration can reopen the question.

The dissent is from the usual suspects, Scalia, Alito and Thomas.

From the New York Times

The 6-to-3 ruling means that it is all but certain that the Affordable Care Act will survive after Mr. Obama leaves office in 2017, and has a greater chance of becoming an enduring part of America’s social safety net.

Look, the ACA isn’t the ultimate healthcare solution, but it is an important step in the right direction.  It has dramatically improved access to health care and begins to level the once exponential rise in health spending – both by the government and Americans generally.   It’s also the first major initiative the left has had since … (I’m thinking)…

The ACA also is the first time in a while we’ve attempted to mend a glaring hole in our social safety net.  It’s done by a government initiative which, if smart, we on the left can use to again prove to the anti-tax, anti-government right that together we can do lots of stuff that makes things gooder.

Times Standard Medi-Cal Editorial Cartoon

Fun (sarcasm) editorial cartoon in the Times Standard this morning.  The Pacific Northwest’s Monte Wolverton hits all the fun right wing memes – sexism, government incompetence, welfare entitlement.

So lets take a look at what is actually happening.  From another Wolverton cartoon.

30% of Californian’s insured under Medi-Cal.

From the Kaiser Foundation in March 2015, there were 12,248,555 Californian’s on Medi-Cal or a 34% rise since the Affordable Care Act when Medi-Cal insured 9,157,000.

Medi-Cal is our state’s version of Medicaid.  This is a program that people have to apply for and if found eligible can often have what is known as a “zero share of cost” or 100% of covered medical procedures are paid for.

This is an incredibly important safety-net program for those of us that might be on either temporary or more permanent hard times.  As Franklin Roosevelt might have framed this, freedom from want.

Medi-Cal is now a part of an imperfect but improving attempt national, state and county governments are making to insure all of us are insured.  All other OECD countries outside of Mexico have figured out that universal health care is the way to go.  Because of bad timing, Truman could not convince our national conservatives of this when we had the chance and since then they’ve owned the political discourse.  Result – we are spending way too much to cover way to few with disastrous expectations.  The silver lining is, those with money have the best care money can buy.

There should not be a stigma against Medi-Cal.  It’s an incredible program allowing all of us to enjoy what a society should be able to provide.  Medical coverage for all.  We shouldn’t have to lose our livelihood, our homes, our families if we are unlucky enough to suffer a debilitating sickness or accident.

We obviously have a long way to go to solve these problems and they solutions will necessarily involve politics, government, the medical profession, not-for-profits, consumer activists, etc.  In other words, all of us.  Having the privilege of earning a living being on the front lines of this myself* I can tell you we are making progress.  One of the big ones is for many people Medi-Cal is no longer a property-based program.  This alone is such a big deal that is not being discussed.  The property-based program was (and, ironically, still is for the most vulnerable) a poison pill that only serves to increase those aspects of the program the editorial is criticising.

The irony is, the editorial is fueling the exact attitude that lead to the lawmakers that would make Medi-Cal eligibility a property-based program in the first place.

It’s complicated and that cartoon isn’t helping.  For a large percentage of the people who have been on the other side of that phone call, I’m going to guess they have had the opposite experience, at least here in Humboldt County.  In other words, not only is it not helping, it’s not true.  I’d challenge the T-S to fact check it, but I know they don’t have the budget to do that.

* CAVEAT:  My name is Jon Yalcinkaya.  I am an eligibility worker at Humboldt County’s Department of Health and Human Services.  The opinions expressed here are my own and are only generally associated with day-to-day, client-to-client experiences at the DHHS.

Continue reading “Times Standard Medi-Cal Editorial Cartoon”

The Confused Libertarian (CCAs Part Deux)

Fred Mangels is smart, intellectually curious, a voracious news reader and commenter.  He is an independent thinker.  He is also confused about CCA’s – so much that we may agree on something even though we shouldn’t.

To Fred’s credit, he has been ahead of the curve on CCA’s linking and commenting on Sonoma County’s CCA Sonoma Clean Power.  But on yesterday’s post commenting on the same Letter To the Editor to which I linked yesterday he misses the gal’s entire point.

Fred says this …

“Whether the proposed CCA…”

Wrong Answer

That was her point Fred, the Doug Bosco’s California Clean Power is not a CCA.  Here is what she wrote…

This proven-successful model (edit – a CCA) is not what is being currently proposed. Instead, a private for-profit company is offering a “turnkey” operation by which they would pay upfront costs and guarantee minor savings to ratepayers and a more substantial payment to county government in exchange for future profits, none of which will necessarily be devoted to accumulating reserves, developing local renewable power sources, or financing energy efficiency.

If those type-words were not enough, the title of the article might have given you a clue

Community Choice Aggregation? Not so fast

Here are Fred’s telling conclusions…

Since she represents the Sierra Club, I’m assuming she knows at least a little more about this than I do. At the same time I’d assume she has a green agenda behind her reasoning.

I’m not sure we really want green power when we realize its expense. I do know most of us want the least expensive power available. Whether the current proposal, or hers, would give us that, who knows, but I’m skeptical of each.

This is a great example of how important political tribes and credibility are to how we think about unfamiliar or new topics.  Fred is playing into the us vs. them mentality even though he will type-word all day long that our politics is not, well, bipolar.

This is an example of Fred fitting thoughts into this politically bipolar thinking.  This gal is coming from a green energy perspective and thus this proposal is skeptical.

Truth is, he is right to be skeptical, energy will be more expensive.  But if he really was true to his libertarian, free market roots, he’d expect it and want it to be.   We are not currently paying the true costs of our energy expenses.  From the incalculable environmental change and damage of climate change to the tragically accountable price tag of our military spending the costs of energy are not currently reflected in our PG&E bills nor the gas pump.

That’s the side of the corrupt not-free market Fred will never see.  It’s not just government rigging the system as he sees it, it’s the private sector as well.

There is so much opportunity for change in energy.  With current technology, if interested we could be using the batteries in our cars as storage for the photovoltaic energy for our homes as one small example.   There are major challenges in managing the grid and there will be necessary behavioral changes, but these do not represent a necessary decrease in the standard of living.

It’s complicated, and the complicated subject requires that we first at least share common language.  It turns out that Fred and I may be both opposed to the current faux-CCA currently before the board.  What I hope Fred will soon understand is why.

Here is why Fred.  Sonoma’s CCA is not-for-profit.  From its site …

Sonoma Clean Power (SCP) is the default electricity provider in Sonoma County. We provide you with the option of using cleaner power at a competitive price from sources like solar, wind, geothermal and hydropower. SCP is a not-for-profit agency, independently run by Sonoma County and the participating cities of Cloverdale, Cotati, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, Sonoma, unincorporated Sonoma County and the Town of Windsor.

From Doug Bosco’s California Clean Power site:

We have launched QuickStart, the state’s first full-service community choice program that is offered at no upfront costs to cities. With our expertise and an experienced team, we can implement the service in your community within approximately 6 to 8 months.

Not-for-profit vs for profit.  Big difference.  It would be analogous to Eel River Disposal vs the now defunct (thanks to our conservative governance) Arcata Community Recycling Center.

Yes, Fred, you might see $5 to $10 higher bills with a not-for-profit.  Just a total random guess.  But that extra investment – if that would occur – would be paying for a energy system with less myopic goals.

These are the types of goals that might one day begin to merge what are both liberal and conservative concerns such as our dependence on foreign oil.  Imagine the potential savings if we could begin to think wholistically about energy rather than simply thinking about a monthly bill.

It’s complicated, it doesn’t make for easy reading or advertising or campaign promises.  The solutions may be 20 or 50 years away instead of 1 to 5.

But there are solutions and to get them right we at least have to agree on the meaning of words.

CCA is an acronym for Community Choice Aggregate, which you get.  California Clean Power is not a CCA.  It is a private firm that would act as a turnkey doing the job that cities and counties should be doing while keeping revenues as profits.

What this is Fred is a continued battle of increased private sector roles vs increased public sector roles.  We seem to be agreeing that neither of us want the Supervisors to green light California Clean Power, but from that one sentence, it doesn’t appear you are totally getting why.

Continue reading “The Confused Libertarian (CCAs Part Deux)”

Community Choice Aggregation vs … Not

I remember reading an article by Will Houston of the Times-Standard a couple of weeks ago about the Supervisor’s warm welcome to a presentation on Community Choice Aggregation.  It seemed great a win-win.  However … the other shoe drops …

From today’s Times-Standard  (highlights mine)…

Community Choice Aggregation? Not so fast

Humboldt County recently heard a presentation about an alternative method of supplying our energy needs called Community Choice Aggregation. By “aggregating” consumer buying power, CCAs can negotiate on the wholesale power market to obtain better prices and a higher percentage of renewables than offered by Pacific Gas and Electric Co., while creating a stable, long term power supply system that remains under local control rather than being operated for the benefit of long distance investors. Furthermore, if several local government entities collaborate under a joint powers authority to create a CCA, potential liabilities are backed entirely by anticipated revenues, with zero risk to the general fund.

This proven-successful model is not what is being currently proposed. Instead, a private for-profit company is offering a “turnkey” operation by which they would pay upfront costs and guarantee minor savings to ratepayers and a more substantial payment to county government in exchange for future profits, none of which will necessarily be devoted to accumulating reserves, developing local renewable power sources, or financing energy efficiency.

Troubling questions arise about legality, public oversight and transparency, meager greenhouse gas reduction targets, high pressure sales tactics, failure to consider a range of alternatives, and — above all — unacceptable levels of risk to local government.

The county would be wise to take a long careful look at all the possibilities — before handing over millions of dollars of ratepayer money. For a more detailed discussion of these issues, please visit .

— Victoria Brandon, chairwoman, Sierra Club Redwood Chapter, Lower Lake

Here is a link to Mr. Houston’s article.  I misread it the first time around.  I originally missed this important, but subtle, point in the article …

The representatives from California Clean Power attended the board meeting to pitch a different approach to forming a CCA in which the county would enter a five- or 10-year contract with the organization.

So to answer Victoria Brandon’s rhetorical question, no, California Clean Power is not a CCA and we the voters have to understand this.

However Supervisor Virginia Bass (D – 4th) and Supervisor Estelle Fennell (D – 2nd) don’t seem initially cognizant of the difference the Sierra Club representative is underscoring.  Here are their takes from the article.

After hearing the presentation, several board members said this “turn-key,” zero-cost approach seemed “too good to be true” though most expressed interest.

“There is a cost that we’re not necessarily seeing,”  4th District Supervisor Virginia Bass said.

“What’s taken out of our hands is the running of the program, What’s not taken out of our hands is the decision making.”

– 2nd District Supervisor Estelle Fennell

We will see this over and over because it is true.  The Democratic leadership is not leading from a position left of center.  The constituents of and voting base of 2/3rds of the Democrats on the Board are in reality coming from a vehemently anti-government wing of the conservative/libertarian movement.  They of course cannot say this in a county that votes Democrats margins of 25%, but we will keep seeing this on issue after issue, supervisorial vote after vote.

I think Supervisor Fennell’s quote is especially telling.  She doesn’t mind if the keys of what should be a public function are handed over to private industry.  As long as the public sector gets to make the decisions.

Supervisor Fennell, if I may, some things the private sector does well and somethings the public sector is meant to run.  Two local jobs that immediately come to mind that the public sector does better, specifically because their interests are greater than simply the short term financial bottom line are utilities and land use planning.

Continue reading “Community Choice Aggregation vs … Not”

Agents of Change and Chicken By The Sea

I believe the Democratic Party is the individual left-of-center citizen’s best chance to enact change.

One belief that both the left and right believe is there has to be change.  It’s getting desparate out here.

Turns out, the one force that likes the status quo is money, and right now money has a grasp of us all.

Here is how mundane this influence can be.

The Humboldt County Democrats have two events each year where we raise 90% plus of our annual revenues.  Revenues that are used to, basically, pay the rent.  Chicken by the Sea and Democrat of the Year.  The Humboldt County Democrats just  had what is supposed to be their more working class fundraising event – Chicken By The Sea.  This Fall we’ll have DOTY.  Tickets for CBTS are less (around $20) than DOTY (around $70) and both events serve as a chance for a) campaigns and organizations to get their name out there as supporters and b) a chance for supporters to meet those from (a).  That and have fun.

I’m sure there are some important meetings that happen during these events, but the goal is to make money, that and have a party.

I really don’t have a problem with this.  I think this is an important part of life.  We need to be able to let our hair down and have a little fun and why not make a little money along the way.  It’s the way of the world for NGOs so no harm, no foul.

The problem is this is all the Humboldt County Democrats do.  We have been optimized for this function and we have forfeited all other responsibilities.  One of my favorite anons (minus his/her anti-Mitch diatribes) goes on and on about how we don’t get out door to door generally and specifically in the 2012 Cheryl Seidner campaign against Supervisor Rex Bohn.

He is right, that should be, in my opinion, one of our primary functions.  At the very least we should spend twice as much time and energy going door-to-door as we do celebrating what we do.

The truth is we don’t – AT ALL.  We don’t spend any time going door to door and things are so bad we can’t even find any member to step up and Chair the Committee Outreach and Voter Registration as Milt Boyd has finally stepped down after years of dedicated service.

And being in the middle of this I understand the reason why we do what we do is simple.  It’s what we like to do.  It’s motivating to have fun, meet important people, put on a party and feel good about it because we are making money for our organization.  That is why we have found 5 to 10 dedicated volunteers to help insure CBTS and DOTY continue, while all vestiges of Campaign Services, COVR, etc dwindle.

It’s not easy, nor necessarily safe, to go door-to-door.

We are making money, but we are not doing our job.  Here is some evidence that we are not.

  • The GPU took a far-right property-rights/realtor turn with a leadership of 3 Democrats and 2 Decline to States.  There is no Party Affiliation that would have indicated the abrupt and radical change that happened to the GPU as evidenced by the language of the Guiding Principles changed by Democrat Supervisor Fennell and DTS Rex Bohn.  (Both, btw, are up for re-election this June – if you in your community are looking for candidates to run, you won’t be getting help from the HCDCC).
  • We “selected” Assemblyman Jim Wood and State Senator Mike McGuire, not elected (to use rhetoric I learned from the right).  We will vote for Democrats in this county, that’s just a given.  There is no legitimate primary process and we saw this in action as our “boyChris Leaman bowed out of the race.  How this was explained to me at the time is it makes since because we want to save money.

The problems we have outside of politics are huge but we can address them.  Problems like how to begin to incorporate cannabis into our society and community, how to make real change to address climate change and prevent further environmental degradation (read – it starts with public land use planning!), how to balance budgets when the goal has been to drown the baby (of government) in the bath water, how to deal with a justice system rigged to favor blue and disregard those in lower income brackets.

I am convinced we are smart enough and have a just system which can address these issues and more.  We also have an established and proven agent of change – the Democratic Party.  Right now, we are not stepping up to the challenge as the county and state’s de facto ruling party and it’s time we do better.

We can do both.  We can do better and still have fun.  Please consider, if you are left of center, coming out to our meetings and making us do the right thing.  We are not going to make these changes without you.

Also, if you are right of center (ie Matthew, Virginia, John Fullerton, and friends) please see this or this.  We need two parties in this left of center county and I believe in you and that you can find a way to begin to take the right of center party back from the no tax, no government fringe.  Please do your job to bring back the Party of Lincoln or whatever the coalition will look like that will fight for minimal taxes, balanced budgets and individual property rights.

To solve our problems, we are going to need two parties, we are going to need less influence from money and we are going to need more actual public participation.  The type of public participation where all people are involved in the process of democracy – not just property owning stakeholders.

Humboldt and Weed Inc. Above the Fold in the SF Chronicle Today

Click image for a link to the article

A lot there including…

  • our own Hezekiah Allen as a “third-generation cannabis farmer” (did not know this – he has represented himself as a “consultant”.)
  • Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom using his liberal cred saying this is about making changes to avoid a corporate takeover

“Corporate interests would rewrite the state’s rules “and they will try to write you out,” Newsom told a crowd of 200 at a public forum in Garberville during his late May trip. “We cannot let that happen.”


CCVH isabout a corporate takeover.  It’s about money in the form of Weed Inc. finding it’s way to power.  It’s what changed our local land use document – one that was all but finalized by democratically elected officials and then changed when Weed Inc. and other powerful allies did not like the results.

This is Weed Inc. getting the ear of liberal (ish) leaders and finding a way to write laws to institutionalize a product with very real and explicit primary and secondary effects on our society.

Politicians, even Democrats, are dependent on money and there is a bunch of money in weed.

I don’t see how this works for the benefit of the public generally, unless the costs are properly taxed.  Who knows, if properly taxed, where there is enough money left over after the increased enforcement needed for regulation and enforcement for things like providing increased schooling for children of growers, increased roads and services for the transportation and water necessary for growers, increased monitoring of back-country rivers for sedimentation and pesticide usage for growers, and all the increased second hand effects related to Weed which regular walks around Cooper’s Gulch here in Eureka should help you to comprehend.

But given the current context of our political discussion where libertarianism is our society’s default utopia we know our weakly liberal leaders from the Northcoast will not have the ability to put in the necessary teeth or tax rates that this product will require to make up for what it will cost our society.

If you have any doubt, just look at what the context of Eureka’s budget.  It’s where we are headed.  No taxes as those with money are find with Reagan era marginal tax rates and an economy based on a mind-altering drug.  This does not end well – especially if one is concerned about, say, trees, salmon, our climate, things other than how bills will be paid this week and if we can walk to the market without confronting decline, poverty or violence.

Democratic leaders, you seem to be heading on the wrong direction on this important topic.  Representatives of Senator McGuire, Assemblyman Wood and Congressman Huffman, enjoy yourself at the Humboldt Democrat’s Chicken by the Sea Today.  Just know that what Humboldt needs from you is leadership and sometimes doing the right thing isn’t always following what your constituents with the most money and/or those who have found a way to bend your ear are telling you.  Sometimes, its others – here is one.  This is from local hero (and Democrat) who has given more than any parent ever should be asked – Richard Leamon.  This is his full letter from the editor from one of the Time-Standards last week

Children must be protected from pot

I attended the Garberbille marijuana meeting last Friday. Many of our elected officials were there after having attended a closed meeting in the morning. The afternoon was an open meeting for the public, and the room was completely full. Our congressman, Jared Huffman, opened a public microphone and many growers began to make statements and give their views. After about 10 speakers in favor of marijuana, I was able to express concern about how children would be protected. We know some high school and middle school students smoke marijuana. We know that “edibles” in the form of brownies and other sweet treats are sometimes consumed by small children.

Our schools no longer have drug programs because the money went away. Police officers used to be trained in drug education, but not anymore. Our Fortuna High School used to have a drug counselor, but when money became tight, that position was eliminated. Often, our children only know what they hear from their friends.

California has a population of almost 39 million people and a large part are children under the age of 21. We must protect our youngest and most vulnerable citizens who are not mature enough to handle the effects of marijuana. Protecting our children from harmful effects of marijuana must be actively and directly faced. I live in Fortuna and hope we can have a public forum on this issue.

–           Richard Leamon, Fortuna