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Thursday Night Talk on KHSU tonight. They’ve given me an extra half our to discuss all of the statewide and local propositions/measures. I have liberal Bob Service and conservative Liana Simpson joining me from 7:00 to 8:30. Please call in with your thoughts and questions

http://www.khsu.org/

Took this shot of a display at Winco last night. I don’t know, maybe I’m old fashioned or prudish, but do little kids really have to be subjected to this? Are we so desensitized now?

I just think a little more thought should go into the potential impact on kids.

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Friends have asked me for advice on the confirmations.  Know that unless there’s an organized opposition to confirmation, they will all be confirmed easily.  But if you want to send some kind of a message, well, here’s what I have.  It’s not much.  I’ll probably vote to confirm all of them.  I haven’t agreed with all the decisions, but I also haven’t seen anything flagrantly out of line.  Reasonable minds can differ.

Supreme Court Justices

JUSTICE LIU GOODWIN – Yes – was to be appointed by Obama but filibustered by Republicans, and then grabbed up by Gov. Brown.  He’s actually kind of moderate for my taste, like Obama fixated on a consensus with wingers who prepare for a street fight while he’s operating like it’s a debating society.  So he compromises too much.  But the wingers’ objections to him are that he was “too academic,” translate that they owe to the anti-intellectualism of their primary bases of support.  He also supports the concept of international law.

JUSTICE MARIANO-FLORENTINO CUELLAR – Yes – another Brown appointee, and fairly liberal.  He was instrumental in killing the military’s don’t ask don’t tell policy.  Solid on abortion rights.  I haven’t really paid much attention to his rulings since he was appointed, and he is a bit of a “suit.”  But the wingers are strong against him, so that’s good enough for me.

JUSTICE KATHRYN MICKLE WERDEGAR – a Wilson appointee who actually hasn’t been all that bad.  I would love to get someone more progressive, but she hasn’t done anything so bad that she deserves to be removed.  She did rule for universal marriage against prop 22, which has earned her some fire from wingers.  Some of the conservative groups are advocating a yes confirmation simply because they don’t want Brown replacing her.

Appellate Court Judges

I haven’t filed or opposed an appeal in years, so I’m not even up on who is on the court.  I haven’t heard complaints about anyone on – heard a few about a couple of retired judges.

If the affiliation of the Governor appointing them is important to you, here is that information.

  • Jim Humes– Appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown
  • Kathleen M. Banke– Appointed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • Anthony Kline– Appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown
  • Therese M. Stewart– Appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown
  • Stuart R. Pollak– Appointed by Gov. Gray Davis
  • Martin J. Jenkins– Appointed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (previously a Clinton District Court appointee)
  • Ignazio John Ruvolo– Appointed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • Terence L. Bruiniers– Appointed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • Mark B. Simons– Appointed by Gov. Gray Davis

I nearly forgot to post this!

R is a Eureka action which would increase the minimum wage to $12.00 for all businesses with 25 or more employees working within city limits.  All the usual arguments about minimum wage increases from both sides have been thrown into the mix with both sides citing studies – cherry picking those which support their positions.

The fact is, there is mixed data on minimum wage increases.  In some cases the economies improved afterwards, while in others they declined.  Whether the wage increases were a critical factor in those verdicts are also subjects of debate.  But if you choose your studies carefully you can make a very convincing argument either way.  But whether the increases have been to an economy’s benefit or detriment, or whether they had any significant influence at all, really depends on the particulars of each case – factors including the nature and structure of the local economy, where the economy is on the recession/inflation cycle, how much money is in the economy, whether the region is rural or urban, etc.

On the up side of the increases, they are stimulative.  They put money into the hands of consumers who will spend every penny.  Unless they are teenagers, they probably won’t have money to save.  The increases will go to purchase goods, or to pay off debt – both of which are beneficial to an economy.

On the down side they can lead to layoffs, or even take a business out if it operates on a really tight margin.  It can lead to jobs being moved out of town.  And it can be inflationary – though actually this country could use some inflation.  We haven’t had anything approaching an inflation problem in nearly a decade.

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Here’s a petition, though the Supes majority hasn’t really paid attention to these things.

On Oct. 6, the Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to scrap the ban on electronic and animated billboards.

Allowing electronic signs will degrade our rural way of life, be a detriment to our tourism industry, lower our property values and deter new businesses from locating here.

To:
Humboldt County Board of Supervisors, Rex Bohn, Chairperson
On Oct. 6, the Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to scrap the ban on electronic and animated billboards.
We, the undersigned Humboldt County citizens, do not want digital billboards. Allowing electronic signs will degrade our rural way of life, be a detriment to our tourism industry, lower our property values and deter new businesses from locating here.
Please respect the unanimous decision by the Planning Commission and the vast majority of your constituents who have pride in Humboldt’s natural beauty.

Sincerely,
[Your name]

Addendum: Lost Coast Outpost has the story.

Supervisor Rex Bohn suggests that the lighted billboards really are no different from a full moon.  He likes a full moon.  So what’s the problem?

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.

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