During last night’s Humboldt Democratic Central Committee meeting, it was announced that in February in lieu of a regular meeting we will meet in a day long staycationretreat.  The main goal will be to find out what we can do to transition to a different HCDCC model from our current one with a limited number of regular volunteers.

The following is not HCDCC endorsed – it’s an idea I had.  In the spirit of 140 character Democracy, let’s see if we can generate any ideas via twitter.  If you have ideas, preferably not of the trolling variety, such as “don’t purge your members” which I know is coming, please tweet with the hashtag #HCDCCideas.

If you don’t know, hashtags are a way of labeling or tagging tweets.  Think of it as an effective “shift-f” search, say in an electronic document, for a topic.

If you don’t want to be limited to 140 characters, consider bookmarking this post and use the comment section below for any epiphanies between now and February.

Caveat:  This is my idea and it should not be construed as in any way #HCDCCendorsed.


Random but true tweet…


ConservoWorld: Colbert Takes on Climate Change Deniers

In a meme before there were memes Bizarro world existed thanks in large part to Seinfeld. It was based on a 1958 Superboy comic where Bizarro Superman from Thrae (Earth backwards).  I think it’s pretty clear that conservatives have this Bizarro world idea of governing.  We are going to see alot of this as we have voted Republicans into the Senate, expanding their once limited control from just the House and the Supreme Court.

How does this look in reality?  We’ll if you were to have had the fortitude to watch the House in action under Republican control, you would have been able to watch hour after hour of House Select Committee proceedings on the latest conspiracy theory – things like politicizing the tragically successful militia attack on the US compound in Benghazi killing Ambassador and Bay Area native Christopher Stevens and 3 other Americans and resulting in the deaths of  100 of the attackers.  Keeping this type of story in the news was their goal, that along with making sure no governing took place while a Democrat was President.  And it worked, at least in the eyes of the party faithful.   Critically, the party faithful were joined by those in the electorate who felt the angst of all the worlds problems from ISIS to Ebola to Russia’s not-invasion of  Ukranian territory and voted for the party who spoke with a fervor implying they had the solutions.

Of course they don’t.  Ultimately the result will be the no-governance party will move to the Senate, and foreshadowing what is to come, Barbara Boxer will soon be replaced as Chair of the Senate Environmental Committee with Senator Inhofe.  As Steven Colbert points out so well in the clipbelow – the guy who wrote the book on climate change denial will be leading the Senate’s Environmental Committee.  This only makes sense in ConservoWorld.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg, it happens all the time at all levels of government when Reagan conservatives are in charge.  Another example that comes to mind is “Job well done Browny” as the head of  the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).  Someone whose  credentials were inappropriate to the task at hand and were only recognized by the public at large when the unthinkable finally happened and we needed a working FEMA.  Republicans of course are not the only ones that will place political operatives in key positions, but it is a clear policy decision for Republicans to slow down, as much as possible, the bureaucratic machinery necessary for an effective government.

In short, the domestic policy initiative for Republicans is NOT to govern -or- if forced to govern, weaken government by removing revenues, limiting terms, gutting social safety net measures, restrict voting, etc. etc.  Perhaps just as frustrating are the reasons they give for these initiatives – they are the true Patriots and limited government is what the founders would have wanted.  Baloney.

What One Party Rule Looks Like

30 years from now, my niece Liberal Leila and other current 2 year-olds might wonder how, back int 2012-14, did a Democratic majority Board of Supervisors (BOS) do what they did to the General Plan Update over the past 2 years.  They also might note that both other members of the BOS were registered as Decline to State. “How did they vote so overwhelmingly conservatively” Leila and friends might ask.  I think the answer lies in part in the HCDCC endorsement meeting last night.

(BTW, if you are not clear on what this BOS has done, please find the April Fools edition of the Mad River Union.  It’s wonderful.)

So, we have in this country two very clear and very different governing philosophies.  One side would admit that government can be good and has a role to play in softening the excesses of capitalism and the free market.  The other side is very skeptical of government and believes if left alone, the market and individuals will make the best decisions on their own.

Unfortunately, we have decided as a community to toss away these two ready-made political parties in favor of only one.  This creates great problems for democracy as public debates of substance,  differences, and even acrimony on matters of policy are limited.  What we are left with is maneuvering, back-room dealing, leverage – oh, and a whole lot of glad-handing.

Last night, the one remaining effective party in HumCo put on an open house and weighed in on two incredibly important subjects that are going to be on the June 6th ballot – the Board of Supervisors and by extension the General Plan Update, and the District Attorney’s race.  Unfortunately, we swung and missed as predicted.  We could not endorse* which was the specific hope, if not strategy of the Bass campaign.  In Matthew Owen’s words, “now the voters get to decide”.

Is that really what just happened Matthew?  Or did you, Virginia and friends join the growing club of people working to short circuit a political system given the new realities of one party rule in Humboldt, AND, I might mention in California.

It’s a big problem for democracy and any hope we have as a community, as a state and nation, and ultimately as a globe if we cannot use our political system to address real problems honestly and openly.  I’m thinking specifically of climate change, but inequality, economic sustainability, etc.  also depend on an open and honest discussion and approach to problem solving.

Matthew, did you notice that during Virginia’s comments she did not mention the General Plan Update?  But the Building Department as a Service Department was the one thing she mentioned at her campaign kick-off.  What is it that can explain that paradox?  Is it possible that the HCDCC is not the best place to discuss a service oriented instead of planning oriented Planning Department?  And wouldn’t it be cool if there was a party where she could express her opinion?

Not only do I think it would be cool, I think it is critical.

Anyway, here is a link to the votes last night.  I added a little subjective categorizing of GPU voting blocks for your mulling pleasure.

* I mean besides in the 5th District!  Hooray for Sharon and for democracy up there.  Let’s start using some Democratic resources to get Sharon elected and to tell Congressman Huffman and the Driscoll bros WTH man?  Also, Mike McGuire and Jim Wood lets stand up for Sharon Latour strongly and loudly!


Chris Kerrigan is in and has given himself the option of running against incumbent Supervisor Bass for Supervisor for the 4th District.

People may give Chris flack for being indecisive or non-committal in filing paperwork for both Supervisor and Mayor, but I think it’s brilliant. (but I would, wouldn’t I?)  I don’t think we could find a better candidate, but more importantly, a better Supervisor to represent the 4th District.  And I’m saying that with all due respect to Supervisor Bass who is by all accounts (including my own) is a wonderful and highly capable person.  And if Chris or the voters feel the Mayor position might be a better fit, that option is open to.  In short, the more Chris Kerrigan involved in local civics, the better.  No matter where.  (But HumCo 4th District Supervisor would be a great fit imho 🙂  )

Other news… full on alert for tonight’s PC meeting from Jen Kalt of Baykeeper with Alliance for Ethical Business and the new and quite awesome Tuluwat Examiner rebroadcasting the announcement.

Today is a pretty great day a wonderful night of rain, the sun is coming out as I write this and reports of Chris’ dual filing represent promise and opportunity for June, November and the next 4 years.  Hooray and/or huzzah!

The HumCo Democrat Narrative – Chapter I: “The Clique”

The previous attempt at an information inoculation did not prevent the fever unfortunately, so let’s discuss what is going on.

I’m not an expert on the bylaws.  I did not have a vote on any of this as an Associate Member so this is not necessarily negligent.  The technical argument here is about the bylaws – whether or not Associate Members are held to the same rules as Members.  If in a court that’s what we would be discussing, however, this is of course only the court of public opinion, which is arguably more important on something like this.  Why?  Because these narratives affect the public’s impression of people who take the time to become involved in civics.

What’s going on.  A tiny minority to include Richard Marks and … that’s about it that I’ve seen who have put their name behind this controversy are carefully building a narrative about what the Humboldt County Democratic Central Committee (HCDCC) has done in removing Melinda Ciarabellini.  What is true and the heart of this narrative is Melinda Ciarabellini, a lifelong Democrat was removed from her position as Associate Member.

That in itself is hard.  Especially for Democrats as we do strive to be inclusive.  How can a party vote in good conscience to remove a someone, especially an upstanding citizen and genuinely good person like Melinda?   The following are NOT the reasons Councilwoman Ciarabellini was removed; her activity or voting pattern on the Eureka Council, any political disagreements some of the Members had with her, etc..  Melinda was voted to be removed by a majority of the voting Members present because Melinda endorsed a candidate running against a HCDCC-endorsed candidate.

Obviously in our community – in Humboldt and in California especially, we don’t appreciate stories of good people being excluded from this or that club.  It seems unfair, inappropriate, judgemental, authoritarian.  That’s the context for the narrative.  The actors of course have been well established.  You have the low key, soft spoken, good union member (and person) and often “progressive” Richard Marks as the protagonist protecting his friends and political allies.  You have his friends and allies who have been slighted as the victims of the (OK, I’m going to use their language for a bit, bear with me) bullies who have been gagged and then purged by the authoritarian, extreme clique of radicals at the heart of the HCDCC.

That in a nutshell is the narrative.  Is it what happened?  No.  Is there truth in it?  Yes.  How much is subjective and is the reason the narrative has held  up for so many years.

In the end, the HCDCC “clique” narrative is no different that the distracting dramatic  soap-opera quality stories that we are all familiar with at the national level that ultimately leave us with a highly ineffectual federal government.

I think removing Melinda was the right decision.  We do need to be able to elect Democrats that act like Democrats.  We can’t do that except by a vote of the majority.  The lesson of all this?  Get involved.  Help us to define what is a Democrat, and, I have to say, what is a Republican.

I’d also make a plea to the Republicans to pick up the slack.  It’s a huge problem to have only one effective party.  You are going to have to work on your messaging and policy.  My suggestion?  As Julie Timmons suggested, look to Eisenhower for answers.  Eisenhower was not about destroying the middle class or national reaction to the depression, FDR , and WW II helped us create.

“But Jon?  Partisanship is not a thing at the local level – quit it!”

We can’t ignore it either.  In fact, to do so would be unproductive.  Partisanship for partisanship sake is undesirable, but partisanship to help “motivate, organize, and elect” for policy is critically important.  Environmental, working family, and tribal/ethnic /religious/ racial minority-rights organizations are not going to be able to effect change on their own.  Not when reservoirs of money exist to advocate for other interests.  There is an inherent need for an organization dedicated to educating the electorate on their vision of civics and then getting out the vote – i.e. the political “machinery”.  Humboldt Baykeeper, the Eureka’s Teacher’s Association, etc., cannot do it on their own.

What the narrative has allowed is a HCDCC frozen in time and thus ineffectual at having any real influence on policy.  Unfortunately a lack of public policy is what many conservatives desire as it basically allows the Chamber of Commerce to have primacy.

And right now, narratives such as this one promoted by Richard Marks and a few other anons are critical to the Democrat’s recent ineffectiveness in influencing local public policy despite incredibly large electorate mandates for liberal/democratic value/policies at the national level.