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It doesn’t happen much, but on occasion I find myself on the opposite side of some very good people who mean well, and with whom I generally affiliate politically and socially.  It’s especially hard when they feel so strongly about an issue.  It’s even harder when I used to share their perspective and feel awkward in trying to thwart their efforts.

Recent studies show that when presented with facts which contradicts their world view, most people respond by digging in their heels to cling to their own beliefs.  911 truthers presented with engineering facts – they become more vehement than before.  Same with birthers when presented with a birth certificate.  Same with anti-vaxers when presented with the fact that mercury isn’t even used in most vaccinations and when one of their most famous spokesman upon which much of their world view is based is shown to be a fraud.  Same with moon landing truthers.  And chemtrail truthers.  And one world government truthers.  Climate change skeptics  Anti-evolutionists.  You can present facts.  You can provide links to studies.  Recommend books.  If they read it, and that’s a big “if”, they will cherry pick whatever suits their world view.

But it isn’t limited to conspiracy theorists.  Conservatives, liberals, libertarians – and even those who elude easy categorization – those with a framework of perception which is reinforced by years of activism around an issue, especially if the efforts involved sacrifice, are also very resistant to the influence of new information which might render some of that activism meaningless, or jeopardize the community which arises from solidarity over a particular issue.  It is very hard to step outside of the tribe.  To be open to new information.  To look at the issue just a little bit differently.  To face the possibility that you and much of your social network is simply wrong on an issue of crucial importance.  It is difficult to face the possibility of leaving the comfort of the fold, even for just the one fight.  It is difficult to risk the wrath of people who might feel betrayed.  I’ve met and worked with many of the proponents of Measure P.  Nearly all of them I consider friends.

It is really, really difficult to change a mind.  It was difficult to change mine.

I supported Proposition 37.  I believed and still believe that consumers have a right to knowledge about products they might purchase and I believe labeling should be mandatory when there is a large enough controversy such that it would be a significant factor in purchase choice for a large number of people.  It is irrelevant that the information is of no practical health import.  People want to know if the product is genetically modified with lateral DNA transfer, and they have that right.

But I don’t support bans lightly – bans which significantly reduce consumer choice.  I would have a hard time with this measure even if I believed that there are health dangers inherent to the technology.  I have been over the science, and while I don’t support some of the applications of biotechnology, there are numerous applications I can support.  A blanket ban is irrational to me, even with the exceptions provided.

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The schools need money.  The schools always need money, since 1978.

Yes, there’s probably mismanagement, but there’s always mismanagement.  They still need the money.  Education should be one of our top priorities.  There’s no future without it.  And they’re barely functional – probably partly due to mismanagement, but mostly due to lack of money.  Perennially since 1978 after which California dropped from the top 10 state educational systems in the country to the bottom 10, perennially, in just a few years.

Starving them of money has never improved management.  If anything, it gets worse.

Give them the money.

See my post below re Measure Z as I have similar reservations given the current Eureka City Council majority.  But I have hope that the Board may change drastically in two weeks, and in any case I’m not worried about Measure Q money being spent on defending lawsuits which can be avoided with sensible policies.

That being said, I drove Myrtle recently and outside of the fire station near West Avenue I read a sign which said essentially, “This station will close if Measure Q fails.”

You know, I’m not against scare tactics if the basis isn’t lame, but really it is lame if you’re going to let a fire station close and continue to fund the acquisition of red primates for the zoo.  Yes, I understand that the acquisitions were probably paid for by grants.  I’m just saying that if they can’t find money to prioritize a fire station then the priorities are lame.

It’s going to pass – you know it when so many signs for a proposed tax increase share lawns with Albin and Newman signs.  Again, I have to wonder if the Q signs would be on those lawns if the progressives had a Council majority.  I’m voting for it, but I’m not putting one of the signs on my lawn.  My enthusiasm just isn’t there.

I’m what conservatives like to call a “tax and spend liberal.”  I view taxes as participation in a public venture to provide the goods, services, and infrastructure which cannot be adequately addressed by the private sector.  We are in hard economic times – maybe climbing out of them a little – but budgets are short all over the state.  And even locally, the county and several municipalities are pushing sales tax increases, or extensions of previous increases otherwise ready to sunset.  Yes, these government entities are short on income, with community needs growing.

But it’s not the first time we’ve been here.  What I’ve noticed missing this time – the anti-tax brigades, usually conservatives.  Yes, there is a little grumbling in the conservative areas of the county, particularly where they are looking at more than one increase.  But mostly, their buddies are in power, and their buddies need these tax increases to save their own asses.  Apparently, this is one of those Grover Norquist exceptions – save your buddies’ asses.

The problem I have with sales taxes is that they’re regressive in that they disproportionately impact working class people, who spend most of their money rather than save or invest.  Obviously counties and municipalities can’t raise income taxes, but I scrutinize regressive taxes much more carefully than progressive.

As Ed Densen has pointed out, this measure is being marketed as earmarked for emergency services, road repair, etc. – all those services we can all agree on.  But as Ed noted, the impartial analysis measure itself says:

“The purpose of this sales and use tax ordinance is to establish a government funding mechanism for general County purposes and the County is not committing to a course of action with respect to the tax revenue” (Section 718-18) 

This means basically that the revenues will simply be dropped into the general fund.

Yes, there will be an “oversight committee” with no teeth, and will likely be stacked with current Board majority approved appointees anyway, as the majority has shown no hesitation to stack the Planning Commission with their partisans.  I don’t trust that process as far as I can throw a stick.

And quite frankly, I am concerned that the General Plan Update will put the county in jeopardy of lawsuits.  The prosecution and defense of pointless lawsuits have already taken a huge toll on the county’s finances, and continue to do so.  Supervisor Mark Lovelace (who endorses the Measure) has reported very little interest in compromise from the majority, who know they have their four votes and are simply muscling in changes to the GPU which are contrary to the public input originally gathered by the Planning Department and at this point the environmentalist community has pretty much given up on the process, are hanging back to see if the final product even meets federal and state minimum standards.  Perhaps it will, but given the process and the wholesale rewriting of the GPU with no systematized public input has me concerned about the final product.

Quite frankly I anticipate lawsuits and I don’t want to finance the defense with a regressive tax.  I don’t take this position lightly, and I am also concerned about the impact of finances.  But I don’t have the faith at this point to write those checks.

I say this knowing that there are plenty of progressive out there as frustrated as I with the process, but who believe that we have to pass the tax anyway in a sort of King Solomon test of love for the baby – we need those services.  I can’t join them this time around.  I simply do not share the priorities of the current majority and I have to assume that their priorities will be reflected in their spending.

I won’t have my thoughts on everything tonight, but hopefully should have thoughts on each item posted by the weekend.  It’s taken a long time for me to reach decisions on some of these, but basically this is how I’m voting.

P – No

Q – Yes

R – Yes

S – Yes

Z – No

Kim Bergel

Natalie Arroyo

And if I was still living in Sohum I would vote for X.

Of course, my thoughts on the statewide issues are below.

I won’t vote until election day, and my mind could possibly be changed on one or two of these issues.  More later.

7:00 to 8:00 Thursday night.

Plenty on the ballot to discuss.

I can’t express opinions on how you should vote, but I will say that I haven’t made up my mind on Props Q and Z – sales tax to address budget shortfalls of two government entities.  I will ask, where are the anti-tax posses who usually oppose these measures?  They’re silent.

So it goes.

Proposition 1 – water infrastructure bonds – No

This proposition has the environmental community divided.  On the one hand it provides for substantial funding for river restoration – funds which probably won’t come in similar levels from the legislature.  But the price is too high.

Proposition 1 allocates 2.7 billion for more dams and surface storage.  I’m not opposed to the latter as unfortunately Los Angeles and other southern California communities never bothered to build reservoirs – they would take up space which could be used for more tracts and malls.  Apparently it never occurred to the planners of the time that the Colorado River would be overtaxed and they probably expected that they could muscle through more diversions despite ballot defeats such as the peripheral canal proposition in 1982.

It is opposed by the Center for Biological Diversity and Food and Water Watch on the basis that the proposed projects and diversion policies may lead to the collapse of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta and seriously endanger species including the Chinook salmon, smelt, and steelhead, increase the salinization problems, and feed into unsustainable growth polices.

Leave the dams and diversions out of the mix, and I can support it.

Proposition 2 – Budget “Rainy Day Fund” Stabilization – Yes

I don’t like the provision which deprives local school districts of the ability to maintain the reserves at their desired amounts, and I don’t quite get why the proponents found that necessary.  But other aspects of the proposition strengthen the rainy day fund so that it can maintain schools and colleges – the proposition makes special provision for them so that students aren’t held hostage in every budget crisis – is worth supporting.  It does require that half the fund go to paying pensions and other debts, but it pretty much establishes a mandate for prioritizing education, and that’s a good thing.
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Petition Link.

  • Petitioning Humboldt County Board of Supervisors

Enact real campaign finance reform for Humboldt County

    1. Petition by

      Humboldt County Voters for Real Campaign Finance Reform

Petition for Real Campaign Finance Reform for Humboldt County – Sign the Petition!

This coming Tuesday Humboldt County supervisors will be voting on an ordinance to limit contributions to $1,500 per person per voter. This appears to be a cynical attempt to create a false sense of campaign finance reform as it precisely matches the dominate amount given by the big money donors that have supported many of our current supervisors. With these amounts some recent campaigns have collected and spent over $200,000 each. This is a case where the fox is watching the hen house.

• Limit contributions from individuals to $500 per election
• Limit contributions from unions, organizations or PACs to $2,000 per election
• Limits overall campaign spending to $50,000 per election (voluntary limit)

To:
Humboldt County Board of Supervisors, Mark Lovelace
Humboldt County Board of Supervisors, Rex Bohn
Humboldt County Board of Supervisors, Estelle Fennell
Humboldt County Board of Supervisors, Virginia Bass
Humboldt County Board of Supervisors, Ryan Sundberg
Enact real campaign finance reform for humboldt County

I have heard that you are seeking input from the public about what we think of the proposed campaign finance ordinance that your board is proposing. Since you haven’t made your final decision maybe it isn’t too late for you to change your mind upon hearing my input.

It seems to me that a campaign limit of $1,500 is much too high and is not really reform. I believe that $500, while probably higher than the average Humboldt County citizen can afford will much more likely have the desired effect of limiting the impact of large donations on local campaigns. That is why I signed on to the petition that proposes the limits listed below. I hope you will take this into consideration in your decision next week.

• Limit contributions from individuals to $500 per election
• Limit contributions from unions, organizations or PACs to $2,000 per election
• Limits overall campaign spending to $50,000 per election (voluntary limit)

Sincerely,
[Your name]

For years I had this vague memory of a cartoon where a mouse was constantly throwing bricks at his girlfriend cat and she would respond with “my angel” as she was nearly knocked unconscious. It was obviously before there was any kind of PC control on cartoons. But nobody my age ever remembered it and when I was in college I wondered if I had remembered it right.  I did except that it’s “little angel” rather than “my angel.” Didn’t think about it again for many years, and then recently the thoughts came to me and I googled “cartoon mouse throws brick at cat” and sure enough there was a cartoon called “Krazy Cat.”

I’m actually curious how something like this got through the family values censors of the time. I mean, politics aside, it’s really it’s really whacked and bizarre.

GroundwaterFor the first time, California claims authority to regulate extraction of standing ground water.  Until now, water had to be flowing underground for Water Board jurisdiction to kick in.  But with groundwater sources depleting severely, we have editorials such as this one supporting it despite the downside for property rights.  Until now, California was the only western state without such regulation.

From the summaries, I’m not quite certain of the local effect – the legislation appears to focus on the valley and Los Angeles basins, but a threshold has been crossed.  I haven’t had the time to review the actual texts of the law changes, but here they are.

I hope to take a closer look at a later time.

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