I am for alternative energy and other ways to make homes and buildings more energy efficient. But a caveat needs to be that the cost is warranted and the value long term. In 2012, Gov. Brown created an Executive Order that all state buildings and new state buildings become ‘zero net energy.’ That means built to the highest Leed’s standards. Brown’s executive branch controls over 8,000 buildings and his order stipulates that by 2020 half of the renovations meet his goal and by 2025, all new construction and renovations meet the goal. A recent study by the Legislative Analyst’s Office reports that since Brown’s order, 9 buildings have met the standard and another 22 are still being renovated. In 2015, Monica Hassan, spokeswoman for the Department of General Services stated, “This requirement will help ensure that state buildings consume less power, rely more on clean, renewable energy, and demonstrate California’s leadership in sustainable construction, while maintaining fiscal responsibility.” She also stated that these projects will eventually save the state $200 million in energy cost, but back up material is not available to support that claim. The Analysis report comments, “We find that a mandate for state buildings to be (zero net energy) is not a necessary or cost-effective way for the state to achieve its (greenhouse gas) reduction goals.” This is based upon the presumed success of the 2006 bill AB 32 “Global Warming Bill” that created the California Cap and Trade program utilized by all industries other than the state government. The report states that Brown’s Executive Order has increased the cost of state building construction or renovations between 17 to 29 percent. This is above and beyond the necessity for government to use prevailing wage requirements that also increase the cost of governmental construction 40% above the private sector. The report found that zero net energy features swelled the cost of a Department of Motor Vehicles building in Reedley by 29 percent. The goal added about 17 percent to the cost of a California Lottery building in Santa Fe Springs. The California Military Department planned to spend $18 million on zero net energy features for a headquarters building in Sacramento. Its proposal included a $5 million thermal storage unit, which would help the building retain heat during warm hours for use at later times. After a cost-benefit analysis suggested by the Legislative Analyst’s Office, the Military Department decided to eliminate the thermal storage unit but retain other energy-saving features. In conclusion, the report stipulates, “Analyses that prevent the state from undertaking (zero net energy) projects that are not cost-effective would save state funds that could be used in other ways, whether that is to achieve GHG emission reductions from other projects or other state purposes.” Maybe a simpler method of lowering our green house emissions would be to downsize the state government, eliminate prevailing wage, and sell off the newly created vacant buildings.
Written November 8, 2017 Veteran’s Day
This coming Saturday, November 11th is Veteran’s Day and in Wrightwood at the Veteran’s Park the community will gather in honor of this momentous occasion. Also at the VFW Post 9415 in Phelan an honorarium will take place. I am highly grateful that we have great patriots within our community that create these events and share them with the rest of us. Many Americans mistakenly believe that Veterans Day is the day America sets aside to honor American military personnel who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained from combat. That’s not quite true because Memorial Day is the day we honor America’s war dead. Veterans Day, on the other hand, honors all American veterans, both living and dead. In fact, Veterans Day is largely intended to thank living veterans for dedicated and loyal service to their country. November 11 of each year is the day that we ensure veterans know that we deeply appreciate the sacrifices they have made in the lives to keep our country free. In 1921, America followed the examples of France and England by laying to rest the remains of a World War I American soldier -- his name “known but to God” -- on a Virginia hillside overlooking the city of Washington DC and the Potomac River. This site became known as the “Tomb of the Unknown Soldier,” and today is called the “Tomb of the Unknowns.” Located in Arlington National Cemetery, the tomb symbolizes dignity and reverence for the American veteran. In 1954, President Eisenhower signed a bill proclaiming November 11 as Veterans Day and called upon Americans everywhere to rededicate themselves to the cause of peace. He issued a Presidential Order directing the head of the Veterans Administration (Department of Veterans Affairs) to form a Veterans Day National Committee to organize and oversee the national observance of Veterans Day. At exactly 11 a.m. each November 11th, a color guard, members from each of the military branches, honors America’s war dead during a heart-moving ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery. The President or his representative places a wreath at the Tomb and a bugler sounds taps. The balance of the ceremony, including a “Parade of Flags” by numerous veterans’ service organizations, takes place inside the Memorial Amphitheater, adjacent to the Tomb. A few years ago, I had an opportunity to do some work in Virginia and made a special day to visit my friend Joel Dove who rests at the Arlington National Cemetery. The serenity of walking those grounds and saying a silent prayer at the Tomb holds a special place in my soul. I have visited our nation’s capital and walked the National Mall visiting the several memorials as well as other memorials through the area and that serenity is noted at each location. I believe that we cannot say thank you enough to our veteran’s, our forefathers and our country for being stewards of Freedom.
Written November 1, 2017 A real California Concern
Harvey Weinstein, James Toback, Kevin Spacey, Bill Cosby and the list goes on as hundreds of men and women reveal their victimization from Hollywood and political leaders. Though these are real concerns and tabloid news, for most Californians reality comes from increased taxes and new legislation from the state, and signed into law by Gov. Brown. November 1 is the start of the new gas tax that affects every Californian regardless of what vehicle they drive. For the consumer the 12-cent per gallon gasoline tax and the 20-cent per gallon diesel fuel tax increase translates to hundreds of dollars annually. Additionally, tagged to the legislation, increases in vehicle registration significantly decrease consumers’ ability to make ends meet. These taxes and fees are not only upon our personal vehicles, but upon commercial vehicles, thus we will also see increases in every form of consumer goods. Part of the ploy to calm the consumer is the date Nov. 1, which is the day that petroleum manufacturers change from Summer mixture to Winter mixture of gasoline and reduce the cost usually by 12-20 cents per gallon. A repeal of the gas tax may be successful through a Proposition that may be placed on the California ballot next year, but until then, we all are victims of the party divide, and imbalance at the state legislator level and our Governor. When Gov. Jerry Brown ran for his third term of governorship, he made a campaign promise to never raise taxes through legislation and Californians would only feel the bite of higher taxes through their own choice at the ballot box. It appears that Brown truly lied to us from the start, 7 years ago. Even as Brown trumpeted his support of the tax as the resolve to fix decaying highway infrastructure, reading the legislation obviously showed that he is a liar because more than 30% of the law funnels our dollars to his high-speed train and other special liberal interest. And I am sure more gas tax funds will be diverted in the upcoming years. Though the voice of opposition from conservative legislators were barely heard over the thunder of liberalism, the conservatives point was made, yet ignored. They simply said take the existing gas tax and stop diverting it to other special interest and bring it back to the highway infrastructure. These funds, including the fees collected from commercial highway use, have been diverted as common practice and openly in Brown’s annual budget. How does California resolve the its fiscal impact upon the consumer? Simply through the voter, who must physically vote out the state legislators that see us as their endless revenue stream and vote in fiscal conservatives. The voter must also support the repeal of the gas tax and stop unnecessary funding or legislation of special interest that only benefit a select population or bank account.
Written October 25, 2017 Diversion Tactics
A year ago, we were on the cusp of a Presidential Election with both sides throwing viable precision punches. Then the results found the Democrats on the losing side of many races including the presidential. We all know how the Democrats began to call foul and insisted that Trump was influenced and in collusion with the Russians. The media sucked up all the poisonous rhetoric and so forth giving no credibility to Trump’s claim that he was being spied upon by the Obama administration. As time passes and Trump maintains his claim we now have two primary investigations of ‘unmasking’ Trump’s campaign staff and others associated with his campaign. What is unmasking? When U.S. Spy agencies eavesdrop on terrorists or foreign agents sometimes the agency comes across information about U.S. citizens who are not targets of the investigation. This ‘incidental collection’ is not illegal or improper, but agents are required to go through an established procedure to protect the privacy of U.S. citizens. This is known as ‘minimization’ and the U.S. citizen is protected regardless of where they are in the world. Unmasking is the releasing of the information or identity of the citizen to a government agency or individual of high rank. This is performed through a stringent procedure that requires a solid, security risk reason. The ongoing investigation of illegal use of unmasking is based on the possible misuse of eavesdropping on the Trump campaign staff and other affiliates by the Obama administration with the potential use of that information to distract Trump or help Hillary Clinton. If it turns out to be valid, this may lead to criminal charges of several high-ranking members of the Obama administration but probably will exclude Obama himself. On another note, Trump’s ‘Drain the Swamp’ campaign slogan may have been interpreted by some people as he was going into DC with his light saber burning through red tape, bureaucracy and mainstay politicians. I can see the unmasking issue as part of the drain the swamp movement, but more so I see how Trump is first removing several Executive Orders and standing his ground on issues that cannot be mitigated or compromised. And on issues that may be compromised and worked through both sides of the political spectrum, those are slowly and strategically beginning to move forward. Trump is a President that is backed by the people he represents more so than by either mainstream political party. The draining of the swamp will take several years and it is doubtful it will happen within his first term.
Written October 18,2017
Stand, sit, or take a knee, I don’t care
Last year when Colin Kaepernick started the trend to take a knee during the playing of the National Anthem in protest to police brutality against black people, people took notice. He initially sat on the bench for two games prior but no one really noticed, thus when he joined his fellow players in standing for the National Anthem and took a knee, it brought attention to his protest. People stand for the National Anthem for many reasons, some to honor veterans, some to honor the forefathers, some to honor freedom, but the choice is individual as such is the reason. I don’t agree with Colin’s method or reason for his protest or the protest by others using the same method, but I don’t get offended by their method because for all the reasons to stand in honor these also are applicable to those who want to voice or show a protest. Sports are a national pastime that in my opinion have been superficially raised to some level of greatness of which, again in my opinion, is silly. Sports players have gained a ridiculous level of notoriety or ‘heroism’ that is unsubstantiated as social leadership. If you, like me, stand for the National Anthem in respect for veterans, forefathers, freedom and many other reasons, then you may disagree with Colin and others that take a knee. To me I look at this as a symbol like flying a flag at half-mast. But unlike lowering the flag to half-mast in respect of someone or a situation, I ignore these protests because I see no value in them. If Colin and others want to make a difference and put their time and money on the line for their cause, I can respect that. I can’t say that I am protesting Colin’s actions by not watching football or attending games primarily because I don’t make the time to do those things anyway. I do realize that many people do have their special sport, team or player that they follow and for them to choose to not follow their sport is a protest that can be noticeable. Sometime in the 1960’s and early 70’s black athletes raised their right hand and lowered their heads in protested during the National Anthem at the Olympics and other sports events and initially people took notice and had discussion. Then like Colin, the black power protest faded away. Colin and the others are fading away because the symbolism of taking a knee is overshadowed by the symbolism of those who stand in honor.
Written September 20, 2017
What is DACA?
We hear about DACA and the recipients being called Dreamers but most people don’t know what either really are, yet many have chosen sides. Let’s look at what both are and at least have a background to place our opinion on. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is an immigration policy that allows some individuals who entered the country illegally as minors (brought here by parents) to receive a renewable two-year period of ‘deferred action’ from deportation and to be eligible for a work permit. As of 2017, approximately 800,000 people, referred to as “Dreamers” after the Dream Act, were enrolled in the program. To be eligible, ‘illegal’ immigrants must have entered the United States before their 16th birthday and prior to June 2007, be currently in school, a high school graduate or be honorably discharged from the military, be under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012, and not have been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor or three other misdemeanors, or otherwise pose a threat to national security. To apply for DACA, illegal immigrants must pay a $495 application fee, submit several forms, and produce documents showing they meet the requirements. DACA did not come from Congress or initially an Obama Executive Order, it was initiated by a policy memorandum sent from Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano to the heads of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The memo formally directed them to exercise their enforcement discretion on behalf of individuals who met the requirements. Yes, this is the same Janet Napolitano that currently is the director of California’s UC system. Also keep in mind that approximately 50% of the recipients are in California, 25% in Texas, and the remaining 25% live in other states. The majority of Dreamers are from Mexico or Central America with the remainder from throughout the rest of the world, and all were brought here when their parents entered the country illegally. Barack Obama announced the policy as an Executive Order during a White House Rose garden speech on June 15, 2012, the 30th anniversary of Plyler v. Doe, a Supreme Court decision barring public schools from charging illegal immigrant children tuition. In November 2014, Obama tried to expand the program but was met with a challenge. Texas and 25 other states sued in the Southern District Court of Texas asking the court to enjoin implementation of both the DACA expansion and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (a similar program). In February 2015, Judge Andrew S. Hanen issued a preliminary injunction blocking the expansion from going into effect while the case, Texas v. United States, proceeds. After progressing through the court system, the appeals court ruled 2–1 in favor of enjoining the DACA expansion. When the Obama administration appealed to the Supreme Court, Justice Antonin Scalia’s untimely death left an 8 justice court, which then ruled equally divided (4–4) for and against the injunction. Procedural rules of the Court in the case of a tie would mean that no opinion would be written, no precedent would be set by the Supreme Court in the case, and that the appellate court’s ruling would stand. President Trump has rescinded the program but is giving Congress 6 months to create legislation either to adopt the program or modify it. I agree with Trump in placing this sensitive measure in the hands of Congress. This is because for DACA, or any other immigration policy, to be part of Federal law it must come from Congress and not be created by a president that took it from one of his secretaries. But I want to include a thought; if DACA is rescinded what happens to the people that have fulfilled these requirements, paid their fees, have shown they are supportive of America and especially those who have even served in our military?
Written September 12, 2017
This week is significant in many ways as we honor and remember 9/11, hurricanes wreak havoc from Texas to Florida and Hillary Clinton gains spotlight as she embarks on a book tour promoting her book What Happened. I have not read the book but intend to because I find knowledge of how others, especially others who don’t have the same perspective as I, to be of value. I have read several book reviews and her ‘Author’s Notes’ that she has in the front of the book. In her notes, she takes blame for her loss, “At every step I felt I let everyone down,” she writes, “Because I had.” Yet also transfers the blame to everyone else and situations including the media. As she embarks on her tour, she blames Trump (of course), Bernie Sanders, James Comey, Wikileaks, the Russians and many more. Her notes take the same course; thus, I am sure that her book will do the same. One critic, Heidi Stevens, commented, “The belief that Hillary Rodham Clinton should not have written, What Happened, her account of the 2016 presidential election, is so patently absurd that I’m loath to even address it. It’s also so widely held that I’m loath not to.” Journalist Kurt Eichenwald, tweeted last week, “I can’t think of any other losing candidate for president who wrote a book explaining the defeat, Bad move.” TV producer, David Mandel told the New York Times, “I voted for her, I gave money to her, I think it’s time for her to move on.” These three critics are strong Hillary supporters that seem to have finally gotten over the election results and want to see their party heal and gain momentum. Since the election outcome, she has been somewhat quiet, including when supporters orchestrated marches that often-turned insulting to the American public or violent. I don’t know for a fact, but it seems that she had the means to denounce the negative results of the marches and support the positives. I also think she stoked the fire from a stealth sidelines position trying in every manner to disallow the election returns. I feel sorry for her because like most lifelong politicians, she is corrupted by the power and influence money peddlers. I wonder what would America be like if she had won. In many ways, the programs and executive orders developed by Obama would remain in place. But more so are my thoughts of how she would handle trade, equality and most importantly North Korea. I find it a blessing that we have a strong president, though imperfect, that is gaining momentum as a world leader. Obama commented recently that it takes a year for the fullness of being president to take place and for the individual to understand. I don’t agree with Obama on many things but with this point, I do agree.
Written August 9, 2017
No matter the subject or topic, equality comes when all sides realize and understand that they have something to contribute and gain through working together. We all are knowledgeable in some matters and ignorant in others, but collectively we can have an even or near even playing field. Yesterday I went to the Los Angeles County Tax Collectors office in down town LA. Pictures of their leadership were four women and one black man. Looking at the office staff of at least 50 workers I did not see a single white male. Did this bother me? Not in the least because I was not there to make sure all is gender and race equal, I was there to handle a tax issue and the two ladies that helped me knew their stuff and were friendly and professional. Obama was supposed to be the President to take the prior decades of so called social injustices that have been fixed through governmental injections of inequality to even the social gaps. On paper, he is the offspring of a white Christian mother and black Muslin father. I don’t recall Obama’s support of equality or leadership that embraces anything but separatism. If you truly seek equality then stop affirmative action laws that mandate inequality. Work with people of all genders and backgrounds to give all of us a hand up when we need it and offer your hand up when they need it. Years ago, government tried busing students to induce some sort of equality, that did not work and stopped within a few years. Government still has affirmative action laws that somehow promote equality by providing an unequal environment. Government has social programs that hold people back, lead to poverty and take away self-worth. None of the government programs have had success; the integration of society has been successful when people do it themselves without governmental involvement, nor whining from groups that make their money from inducing inequality, such as Black Lives Matters or the KKK. But then maybe social equality will not be induced by regulations or governmental policies, but by people working together, playing together, loving together and doing so without bias. Maybe that vision is the actual seed in the garden of life and the government vision is the thistle.
Written August 2, 2017
Wrightwood General Manager
Last Monday night, the Wrightwood CSD Board selected me as their General Manager and I appreciate their trust in me to do the job. The first task I need to accomplish is establishing the interagency relationship with both San Bernardino and Los Angeles Counties. Though LAFCO created the framework for the establishment of the WCSD based upon a viable Feasibility Study developed by the Feasibility Committee, it is necessary to have a transformation from County to local control of the Parks and Recreation, Street Lighting, Solid Waste and limited Sewer powers that the tax payers and other community members pay into for these services. Last March, Wrightwood voters created the WCSD as their vehicle of local control and elected 5 Board Members as their representatives. Those Board Members are the unbiased voice of the community and not the biased voice of a few, thus when they create rules and regulations it will be based upon an overall betterment, though some will disagree. My job as the General Manager will be to implement the direction coming from the Board, through routine daily activities and specific tasks. The specific tasks during this interim transition are many as the LAFCO process establishes the ground rules and direction but does not create the magic wand that makes things happen. That comes from head to head (combat) negotiations, filling and filing of legal documents that creates our entity’s authority and fiscal integrity. The WCSD involves two Counties, which adds to the initial complication, but when all is done will bring our community, which crosses the county line more into unity as one governmental voice and service. The Board rolled up their sleeves and from day one assumed the duties of the General Manager because the doors, calendar of events, and facilities need to remain open. Now they can sigh a slight breath of relief as those duties become mine and they can focus on Board issues such as developing rules and regulations that replace County rules and regulations, honing next year’s budget, developing, maintaining and renovating infrastructure. While they do that, my job will be to finish the transition and develop the network of employees or contractors to serve the public interest and maintain the daily integrity. I plan to attend community organization meetings as a liaison and I will listen to the public both through personal contact and public meetings. The community as individuals or organizations can come to the Board during meetings and share thoughts and ideas, but they can also come to me or call me directly with those thoughts and ideas. Though I will be a part time employee, my ears are open full time.
Written July 25, 2017
Jobs going robotic and more
Over the years, Silicon Valley’s tech elites, Andy Grove of Intel, Eric Schmidt of Google, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and more, have paid close attention to the writings of Peter Drucker. A businessman who was also a master of the quill, Drucker coined the term “knowledge worker” more than half a century ago, anticipating the prosperity and ascendance of those who would make a living with the stuff between their ears, and not with their calloused hands. “Today the assembly line is obsolescent,” Drucker observed with foresight in his 1959 book “Landmarks of Tomorrow”, adding, “Automation may well eliminate the unskilled worker from the production floor. But it replaces him by men of high skill and judgment: machinists, instrumentation specialists, programmers, engineers, mathematicians, business analysts and so on.” He realized this as our economy was changing face and our biggest export was technology and has remained so since the 1950’s. In the decades to follow, before he died in 2005, Drucker would hail the potential virtues of this new age. “The knowledge society,” he asserted, “is the first human society where upward mobility is potentially unlimited. Knowledge differs from all other means of production in that it cannot be inherited or bequeathed. It has to be acquired anew by every individual, and everyone starts out with the same total ignorance.” Despite his hopes, he came to recognize that all too many people were being left behind, unable to access the formal education (even community college or a technical-certificate programs) that almost any good job now demanded. This must be true since we are witnessing politicians struggling with ways to hourly tax robotics that replace workers’ hourly wages and tax and or control the Internet and other technologies that are not tangible but something that struggles to remain free as the air we breathe. I am 65 and soon to turn the page for my last few decades ahead. Through the years, we have had a vast array of things that have come and gone. Evidently so called low level jobs will continue to vanish and be replaced by robotics and other inspiration, but those are not the only jobs that are being replaced as surgeons to fry cooks are equally on the block (unfortunately politicians may still endure the technology era). Robotics and other technologies create jobs that will be the next series of job markets to fill. Nothing is more consistent than change and innovation. My concern is how education has taken a downward spiral from teaching students the basics that will always be the foundation of society and life, and how our nation is plummeting below other nations in educating their masses. Technology will continue to grow, change and assure the needs of society and consumer desires, thus either we bring our students into the 21st Century and reeducate those deemed to be replaced by technology, or we will be left behind with the value of a buggy whip.
Written July 19, 2017
When dealing with any industry there is the industry’s perspective, analyst perspective and political perspective. When Congress solely relies upon the political perspective they make it significantly more difficult to provide service to the public. Since the beginning of Trump’s term, changing the national healthcare program affectionately referred to as Obamacare, has been a Republican focus. This is primarily because many Republicans including Trump made it a primary campaign issue. Reality is evident even when not recognized through the political eye, and it is far easier for the Democrats to rally and be united in blocking necessary change or repeal without a true replacement product. Months ago when the House had difficulty in creating their replacement model it was evident that change coming from the Senate would be even more difficult than in the House. The Senate took a fast track approach rather than a common-sense approach that may have brought the issue up later this year or next year. The Senate Democrats may be the minority but they are not so by a wide margin. All they needed to do was stand in unity in support of Obamacare and watch the Republicans beat themselves on the issue, thus tying up valuable time to have other vital issues be delayed or forgotten. All Democrats needed to do is support the few Republicans that also don’t like the people’s choice in a president, and they had the block of change in their hands. At this highest of political offices there is an internal battle within the Republican party. That battle is between Republicans that want to make changes in how Congress works for the public good and those that want to maintain the corrupt system that makes them wealthy and enhances their political power and perspective. The Democrats are equally corrupt and power seekers and this is where their alliance with the political enemy, mainstream Republicans, have a common enemy in the Republicans that want to bring the system more in alignment with the average American. Healthcare is one of the fronts on the political battleground. When Obama was able to thrust his healthcare agenda through Congress he had the luxury of significantly wider margins of party representation in both Congressional houses and though his plan was poorly designed it passed without much trouble. Trump does not have that luxury and though his party has majority in both houses, the margin is not significant. Trump and Congress need to call this week an awakening and a lesson learned. They need to go back to ground zero and design a true product that will meet the goals and objectives of affordable healthcare that also provides the infrastructure in the healthcare industry that addresses the need of the industry to expedite service to all Americans. In the meantime, allowing Obamacare to implode is the best option, though it will be the hardest for Americans to pay, both monetarily and in their own health and loss of lives. This will induce Americans to become more vocal and angry with Congress and if Congress does not heed the will of the people, they may have a need to save their own jobs.
Written July 3, 2017
4th of July
The 4th of July is the most important celebration that Americans have because it is the official birth of our independence as a nation. The Declaration of Independence primarily states that we have the right of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and the rest of the document and the National Constitution are support for the truths. It is the collective mindset of not just politicians, but more importantly of scholarly men from all walks of life. Through the years, the values that our forefathers penned emphasized that government attains their powers through the “consent of the governed.” We veer away from these core values and the consent due to a wide array of personal agendas, or influences to presumably make things better, by a select group’s mindset for political reasonings or misinterpretations of this document. The revolution that broke us away from the British Government’s goal for Americans is often lost through these personal agendas or select groups and rather than keeping the unblemished goals of these simple rights in line, political bias tries diligently to expand them to include new interpretations. Nowhere in the Declaration does it give a “right” to healthcare, education, equal pay, minimum wage, and so forth. But current interpretations can hone the influence of the Declaration to include them. I don’t have problems with these items of life having a link to the Declaration, but bias habitually changes the scope that perhaps was not the initial intention to gain the end result. This is where governmental leadership gets dangerous, or at least concerning, because government should concern social and commerce guidelines and be stewards that help maintain fairness and safety rather than control the private sector. At what level should any expansion or interpretation of the core values be placed. The ‘further from the national government the better’ tends to be the mindset of most “conservatives”, while controlling from the top tends to be the mindset of most “liberal” thinkers. The right of free speech is vitally important for the communication between governments, governmental leaders and more importantly the citizenry. This is also why transparency in government is essential, yet many if not most of the citizenry do not take the time to learn or witness the process, only reacting to the end result with little knowledge or willingness to understand how we got to that result. “All men are created equal” means that we are equal before the law, it no way assures equality of talents or material blessings. This is something that remains true, yet widely misunderstood. Individual freedom to pursue the right of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness was our founding fathers’ goal and not the establishment of a democratic government, but the establishment of a Republic. Our founders felt that a democratic government could be just as damaging as monarchies to individual rights. Elected leaders can trample on our natural rights, especially when they do not lead for the people in whole but through their own bias or objectives, especially when political parties are involved. Freedom is best protected through limits on governments, the rule of law and the separation of powers.
Written June 28, 2017 Various Thoughts
This week the California Universal Health Care Bill was killed and for a good reason. Though health care is important and should be available to all people regardless of income, the California plan lacked many things, primarily a method of paying the cost. The proposed bill was a knee jerk reaction to the proposed Trumpcare going through Congress. The estimated cost (which is probably low) was $400 billion, which is over double the total state budget. The authors either got wrapped up in their passion or purposely did not include a method for paying these costs. Thus, rightfully the bill was killed in committee and notably by Democratic members that felt the payment method needs to be included. I am sure this bill will come back in the next session or maybe somehow brought back in the 11th hour of this session. Trumpcare is also having a fight to get approved. It squeaked past the House a few months ago and at the moment is being battled in the Senate. If it passes the Senate in its current form I would be surprised. Of course, all the Democrats are against it and would be regardless of anything valuable within the document, but there are at least 10 Republicans with concerns and the Senate currently does not have the votes to approve it. We will see what happens after July 4th when the Senate reconvenes, but I am sure the current bill will go through significant change. When former FBI Director Comey spoke to congress, his testimony confirmed that Trump was not under investigation for Russian collusion. Democrats and liberals who have been using this mantra as their reasoning that Trump should not be President also knew this truth but along with Comey (who definitely showed he was a Hillary supporter along with being a wimp) all decided to mislead the public in an effort to gain momentum against our President. This seems to have backfired as the truth stood out as a lighthouse beacon and it appears that Trump-Russian collusion has been replaced with many Democrats being investigated. An interesting side note is that Bernie Sanders and his wife are under investigation for the exact thing one of his campaign platforms was based upon: Money laundering and misuse of big money. I wondered how Sanders became a millionaire after the Democratic convention and maybe this is just the tip of the iceberg. Our political leadership both at the state and federal levels need to put their differences aside and work together for the common cause. Looking at issues from all perspectives should be their first point when dealing with an issue. Lay all thoughts respectively on the table and take what will make the situation the best viable option. This does not mean that they must pacify each other by sharing their coloring books, but they must objectively look at issues without party politics involved.
Writtwen June 14, 2017 Liberals need to think before they act
Most Americans are moderate with a modest preference towards liberal or conservative perspectives. They are focused on family, work, retirement and community service. These are the silent majority that creates the fabric of our society and they cover the full spectrum of race, creed, age, gender, and more. Conservatives tend to give ‘hand-ups’ while Liberals tend to feel they deserve or want to give ‘handouts.’ Conservatives tend to work within legal scopes that are currently defined, and usually are willing to reach out to Liberals as an overall inclusive of ideas, yet Liberals tend to only work within legal scopes if it fits their agenda or purpose. Conservatives tend to want to look at facts that are based upon reality and then see what can be changed or improved, perhaps finding a need that has been missed. Liberals tend to create their own facts based upon their own ideologies and not necessarily reality. They want to develop change or improvements solely upon ideologies regardless of whether it’s for the overall good. In example, we can look at California’s Legislature. Democrats have a super majority and totally ignore Republican Legislators rather than embracing them as part of the Legislature. SB1 (gas tax) is a clear example of that and the pork that was included in the legislation is appalling. One State Senator, Josh Newman of Fullerton may face a recall based upon his support and vote of SB1. As the recall supporters are attempting to gather the signatures and work within the law, our State Legislature is working feverously to change the law in an effort to stop the potential recall. The Legislature can probably pull it off in time to deflect the recall or make it difficult to accomplish in time, and that is shameful of those Democrats because it is taking the power of the people away. But a much larger example is how the Democrats and other Liberals were so confident that Hillary would be president that when the election results did not go their way, they immediately started a campaign to at first disqualify the election and when that did not happen to find a way to get Trump out of office. The main stream media has been far more liberal in their reporting tossing away objective unbiased reporting methods decades ago. Utilizing the media and social media, the Democrats waged unfounded war upon conservative ideology as well as upon deceptive lies about Trump from every angle the Democrats can conjure up. Under oath former FBI Director Comey finally admitted that Trump was not under any investigation and took one of the fights away from the Democrats. But Comey put himself in the spotlight as one of the Trump Administration leakers and we will see if that ends up in an investigation. The Democrats can continue down this road of implosion or they can calm down and rethink their purpose. The presumed purpose of elected or appointed officials and also political parties has been to serve the people and create a proper and secure means of safety and life improvements for the American people to have.
Written June 7, 2017 75th Anniversary of the Battle for Midway
This past Monday, seven veterans of the Battle of Midway joined about 1,000 people aboard, the USS Midway. The Midway is a popular tourist attraction near the San Diego Navy Base and has more than 1 million visitors a year. On Monday, it reverently hosted the 75th Anniversary of the Battle for Midway, its namesake. The 1942 battle occurred six months after the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor after Navy code breakers broke a complex Japanese code to reveal a plan to ambush U.S. forces. The Japanese planned to occupy Midway, 1,300 miles northwest of Pearl Harbor, and destroy what was left of the Pacific fleet. Midway is a small twin island area of approximately 1,500 acres encompassing American Navy Air Force landing strips, but its crucial location was important to the American Navy and crucial for Japan to break. Along with controlling Midway, the Japanese plan included an invasion of the Alaskan Aleutian Islands to cover Japan’s northern flank and a blockade of the California-Australia supply line to cover their southern flank. Controlling Midway would be the key to finish off the American fleet that suffered dearly just 6 months before, in Pearl Harbor. Admiral Nimitz knew the focal point would be Midway, and brought aircraft carriers Enterprise, Hornet, and a crippled Yorktown on a seek-and-destroy mission to find the Japanese armada: Akagi, Kaga, Soryu and Hiryu all supported by battleships and cruisers. When Japanese planes began bombing Midway, American torpedo planes and bombers counter-attacked in waves, bombing and sinking the four Japanese carriers on June 4. The fighting continued for another three days before America gained victory. Adm. John Richardson, Chief of U.S. Naval Operations, told the audience that a string of “effective but decisive” actions led to a victory with razor-thin room for error. Adding, “In hindsight, when you review the Battle of Midway, you can see like a series of strokes of amazing luck. And when you put those strokes together, it’s like a miracle occurred at Midway. It tends towards the miraculous.” I love the words Nimitz wrote to his boss Admiral King who proclaimed, “The Battle of Midway put an end to the long period of Japanese offensive action and restored the balance of naval power in the Pacific,” to which Nimitz humorously responded, “Perhaps, we will be forgiven if we claim that we are about midway to that objective.” Unfortunately, many Americans from my generation forward have chosen to disrespect our flag, our values, our Constitution, our veterans and our military. Fortunately for them they live in a country where they can protest freely in ways that would put them in jail in other countries. But good news for those who hate the United States, Trump, or some other excuse, I checked one-way flights to Paris, France and it’s only $455.09, and Pres. Macron said he will give you political asylum. We can’t miss you if you don’t leave.
Written May 24, 2017 Gas Tax Pork and Lies
Gov. Brown graciously pushed through an estimated $52 billion-over-10 years gas tax supposedly dedicated to improving State highways and local roads. Republicans pointed out that we already pay significant gas taxes and if the State would just stop diverting those funds to the general fund and to special interest, we would have sufficient funding to do true road improvements. The governor’s arrogance showed its colors at a meeting in Orange County that he attended that was against the recall of a Democrat Assemblyman who aligned with Brown to pass the tax. At that meeting, Brown called anyone who opposed the tax ‘freeloaders’. “The freeloaders — I’ve had enough of them,” Gov. Brown told The Orange County Register on May 12. “They have a president that doesn’t tell the truth, and they’re following suit.” Brown’s comment is oxymoronic at best considering that during the process to gain public support for his bill he told the public that none of the funds would be used for anything except road improvements. On April 28, Gov. Brown signed the bill into law at the Jurupa Park and Recreation District Community Center with State Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside, and Assemblywoman Sabrina Cervantes, D-Corona, standing by his side. The irony comes from those representatives having their votes bought and paid for by the gas tax increase, a price tag of $430 million of special interest project that could ensure the reelection of these fine legislators who are crucial in maintaining the Democrat Super Majority in Sacramento. Also within that pork barrel is $18 million for Park and Recreation facility improvements at the Jurupa Valley Park and Recreation District, obviously not road improvements. One more prominent pork deal was the one that secured the vote of State Sen. Anthony Canella (R-Ceres), who was the only Republican in either chamber to support the measure. Canella secured $400 million in pork for “the extension of the Altamont Corridor Express, a commuter rail line between the Bay Area and Central Valley.” Canella’s vote was crucial, because moderate State Sen. Steve Glazer (D-Orinda) opposed the gas tax, explaining in a statement published by the East Bay Times that it was unnecessary to raise taxes rather than re-directing spending from the costly high-speed rail project. Other non-road improvement diversions of the tax come in the forms of bike paths, hiking trails, boat launches and a long list of pork but no bacon for the Tri-Community, yet up to 42% will help bail out CalPERS the State Employee Retirement Fund. The State Attorney General is reviewing a proposal to create a proposition on the 2018 ballot to withdraw the gas tax and if the proposition proposal is approved and given a name soon you will see the ballot measure proposal in front of your markets looking for approximately 365,000 signatures to get on the ballot. All said and done this has the makings of a tsunami that could wash the super majority and the governor’s seat away from the liberals in Sacramento, or it could just be a ripple in the pond of politics. That decision is up to the California freeloaders.
Written 5/17/2017 Worldwide Cyber Attack
Cyber criminals have been around for a very long time. Movies depict battles between bad guys and good guys fighting over cyber security for various reasons. Ransomware attacks involv a hacker taking control of your computer files and holding them for ransom, usually an affordable ransom of up to thousands of dollars with no assurance they will actually release your files. This usually happens on computers using Microsoft Windows because the program is the most popular worldwide and has vulnerability of hackers knowing the program inside out. But ironically the software tools used to create this worldwide attack, stretching across 100-150 countries and hundreds of thousands of victims, came from an April hack of the NSA, which developed the program. Microsoft released a security patch soon after but, like with most updates, many people ignore or hit the do it later button. The phenomenon of companies failing to update their systems has been a persistent security problem for years. Playing with fire finally caught up with the victims. Consumers are also at risk. Microsoft requires Windows 10 customers to automatically update their computers, but some people with older PCs disabled automatic updates. Anyone who hasn’t updated their Windows PC recently is a prime target. Microsoft said it had taken the “highly unusual step” of releasing a patch for computers running older operating systems including Windows XP, Windows 8 and Windows Server 2003. So even people with older computers should go update them. To help limit your vulnerability according to security company Bitdefender, follow these five steps: 1. Disable your computer’s Server Message Block service. 2. Install Microsoft’s patch.3. Back up your data on an offline hard drive. 4. Install all Windows updates. 5. Use a reputable security software to prevent attacks in the future. The hackers remain anonymous for now, but it appears that they are amateurs. A 22-year old security researcher in the U.K. discovered a “kill-switch” to initially stop the spread of the attack. The ease of stopping the attack suggests the hackers were new to this game. Experts said it appeared that the ransomware had made just over $50,000. Computers and networks that hadn’t recently updated their systems are still at risk because the ransomware is lurking. Experts say a security researcher in the U.K. had stymied the spread of the virus, but hackers have issued new versions of the virus that cyber security organizations are actively trying to counter and stamp out. The U.K. government’s cyber office put it succinctly: “The way these attacks work means that compromises of machines and networks that have already occurred may not yet have been detected, and that existing infections from the malware can spread within networks.” Though it may seem annoying to update programs and such, in this day and age it has become more essential to do so expediently.
Written 4/19/2017 SB1 California drivers already pay Gas Tax of 58.83 cents per gallon for the privilege to drive upon the state roadway infrastructure. The bulk of those taxes is in the form of a 30 cent per gallon excise tax with the remainder coming from district taxes and a 2.25% sales tax on gasoline. Senate Bill 1 (SB1) increases the excise tax an additional 12 cents per gallon on gasoline and 20 cents per gallon on diesel fuel and it also imposes an inflation adjustment not only upon these fuel taxes but also upon the additional $25-175 adjustment to our annual registration. For many years, the state has supported California drivers to buy hybrid cars as a fuel saving and environmental program in the 2006 Global Warming Act (AB32). The safety zone for those purchases will be breached by SB1 in July 2020 because of the hybrid influence upon the fuel savings and those drivers will pay an additional $100 in registration also with an inflation adjuster. Within section II it creates another “appointed board” known as the Independent Office of Audits and Investigations with specified powers and duties. The bill would provide for the Governor to appoint the director of the office for a 6-year term, subject to confirmation by the Senate, and would provide that the director, who would be known as the inspector general, may not be removed from office during the term except for good cause. The bill would specify the duties and responsibilities of the Transportation Inspector General with respect to the department and local agencies receiving state and federal transportation funds through the department, and would require an annual report to the Legislature and Governor. The bill consists of an intricate series of slice and dice sub-programs that will make your head swim. It also has a kick in the butt by restoring to the old base rate, lowered by our Board of Equalization in 2010, thus we get an elbow to the ribs as they break our jaw. Why is all this happening? Simply said because our Governor and his predecessor, plus the unbalanced state legislature have been mismanaging and misdirecting our transportation fund for over a decade. When Schwarzenegger diverted transportation fund into the state general fund in order to balance the annual budget it was meant to be a temporary fix. Though some funds have been restored for transportation needs, most remain diverted and that attributes to a sum nearly equal to SB1. If Brown and the legislature really want to represent Californians, all they need to do is redistribute the transportation fund currently gleaned from drivers’, back where it belongs. If they did this simple task, we would not need another level of state bureaucracy, and Caltrans could dust off the projects they already have in the matrix. One important note about SB1 is that there is not any stop measure to keep the legislature from diverting these funds from transportation and the fulfillment or maintenance of road improvement projects. Written: 04/05/17 Democrat/ Republican Disaster
For the most part I have been silent while Trump took office and got his administration started. I fully expect him to have challenges not only from the Democrats but also the Republicans that want to fight change. I am totally ignoring all the media because of their total bias including the junk coming from the so-called conservative media. Though at first I was concerned of Trump continuing his Tweets, but at least they come directly from him and I can believe him in reference to his point of view. He is finally utilizing his White House Press as a viable means of getting the word out but I am more reliant on video than print media though the video can easily be edited to make things untrue. We are at an apex in this country as Trump gets familiar with his duties and methods to get the truth out. Draining the swamp means getting rid of the entrenched politicians that are making a career of being Washington’s power brokers. It is evident that these idiots are self-serving and not representative of Americans. In every situation and on every subject, we need representatives that will be for the people, by the people and of the people and work together through finding common ground. That will happen sometime in the near or far future but until then we have a circus in Washington that is embarrassing and dysfunctional. Both parties are not just missing the boat, they are singing their songs while the Titanic sinks. There is a core that includes some Democrats that are beginning to find the life rafts and paddle to shore. But it is evident that most of the Democrats have become obstructionist for political party purposes and they are missing a great opportunity to show America that they can work with the Republicans. Here we are still trying to get Trump’s cabinet approved and a simple appointment to the Supreme Court, but obstruction is making these simple things unproductive. Trump tried to be fair in keeping many of Obama’s appointed and selected in place, but they all should just get fired and replaced with thinkers and managers that are willing to do their job as assigned. The Democrats are still butt hurt over the election and their attempt to plant seeds of doubt are backfiring on them. I am delighted that Trump included the wiretapping of his campaign and his transitions as part of the silly Russian BS. Each day that passes we are finding out that Obama and/or his team committed crimes they can be jailed for. We appear to be at a cusp of having a scandal that will exceed the crap of Watergate. Trump just needs to focus on his goals and objective, hone them as needed and push forward to making America great again. Let the entrenched Republicans and Democrats stab each other with their bias toe pickers and bleed out.
WRITTEN 3/21/17 St. Paddy’s Day benefit
Last weekend many celebrated St Paddy’s Day, some as true Irishmen but most just optimizing a temporary association. Yet regardless of which role you fulfilled, there are some unexpected benefits from drinking Irish beer. Excessive consumption can lead to medical challenges, let alone the testing of friendships and in some cases the morning after apology. Keep in mind that alcohol in any form is a central nervous system depressant. However, the consumption of one beer daily can be beneficial for health. Beer is higher in vitamin B and protein than wine and has the equal amount of antioxidants to wine. Beer is high in flavonoids, which are powerful antioxidants, as well as minerals that are crucial for various metabolic processes. If consumed moderately, beer can boost health in various ways. So if you find yourself justifying your St. Paddy’s actions here are a few things to point out. Keep in mind also that the scope is based upon a single beer a day, so maybe you have met your quota this month already. Beer can lower bad cholesterol, as it contains fiber that effectively reduces LDL cholesterol levels. Beer has been shown to effectively prevent the formation of blood clots. Beer supports the health of your kidneys, and a bottle of this drink daily lowers the risk of developing kidney stones by 40%. Beer strengthens your bones, as the high silicon content leads to higher bone density. Beer boosts the vitamin B levels, as it is a rich source of several B vitamins (B1, B2, B6, and B12). Experts also claim that people who drink beer have 30 percent higher levels of vitamin B6 than their non-drinking counterparts, and double the levels of wine drinkers. Beer is also high in vitamin B12. Beer greatly lowers the risk of a heart attack, and scientists have shown that beer drinkers have a 40 to 60 percent lowered risk of suffering a heart attack in comparison to non-beer drinkers. Beer contains lactoflavin and nicotinic acid, which help you fall asleep easily. Beer supports the proper function of the brain, and beer drinkers have a lowered risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Beer will make your skin healthy, youthful and smooth, as its vitamins have a beneficial effect on pigmentation and regenerate the skin. Beer helps you fight stress. The findings of a study conducted at the University of Montreal showed that the consumption of two glasses of beer daily reduces work-related stress or anxiety. Also a thought, beer can help you meet friends in high or low places depending on where you decide to dwell. So live long and prosper, cheers!
Written 3/8/2017 Wrightwood CSD is approved
When I woke up Wednesday morning and read that the voters of Wrightwood approved the formation of their Community Services District I was happy for that community. Election results still need to be officially recorded by the registrar but it appears 25.99% of the registered voters made the effort to vote and approved the formation by a significant 62.32%. Election results will be finalized in 30 days. They also chose from a ballot of 8 candidates: Leo Hordyk, Michelle Schneider, Stephanie Carroll, Wes Zuber and Natalie Lopiccolo I applaud all the candidates for stepping forward and making a difference and these 5 candidates will hopefully make a strong Board of Directors for the community. The top 3 candidates will hold a 4-year term and the bottom 2, a 2-year term. Upon the next election in 2 years for those positions, the winners of that election will have a 4-year term. Staggered terms enable the Board to retain experienced members, while providing an opportunity for new members to cycle into the Board. There will be a transition time from now to July for the Board Members to establish the ground work and find a General Manager. So if you are interested in becoming the General Manger soon you will be able to apply for that position. At their first meeting, the Board will be sworn in and then establish and adopt resolutions and guidelines enabling the CSD to function. The first year and during this transition period will be the busiest for the Board and hopefully they find a General Manager or at least an interim GM as they seek a long-term manager. The GM will be contracted typically with a 5-year contract with annual review. The public Board meetings will be at least once a month but the Board may choose to hold more meetings as needed. Keep in mind that the Board will fall under the Brown Act, which is a State law that gives guidelines and rules of how meetings are held and how Board Members and the GM must maintain transparency. The Board represents the whole community, including the residents living on the LA County side of the community. The CSD is not under the guidance of the County; it is a legal State entity functioning separately from the County when dealing with issues within the CSD powers. The CSD can establish other powers as the community may need but will never have Land Use Powers. This is what keeps a CSD individual and representative of local government but not functioning as a city or township. The County will retain all the other powers currently provided by them including Land Use. The CSD will not be alone during the transition unless they choose so. I am referring to the many other CSDs, Independent Special Districts, and other organizations that will offer a helping hand. As I conclude this week’s column I will say congratulations to the members of the Feasibility Committee, job well done. I will also offer congratulations to the community for trusting themselves to establish a form of self-governance and I congratulate the newly elected Board.
Written 2/28/17 Wrightwood CSD
I support the formation of the Wrightwood Community Services District because for the community it is a vital way to bring local government and some of your tax dollars in-house. I was involved in the formation of the Phelan Pinon Hills CSD from the first meeting of the Feasibility Committee and have been serving on its Board of Directors from its formation in March 2008. During the formation of the PPHCSD and after the establishment of that entity I have been approached three times by various Wrightwoodians to either have Wrightwood brought into the PPHCSD or help establish a CSD in Wrightwood. I disagreed with bringing Wrightwood into the PPHCSD primarily because of the different needs and matrix of the community from those of Phelan and Pinon Hills. I am a big supporter of the Tri-Community but I realize that where Phelan and Pinon Hills have the same needs and matrix, Wrightwood needs to be its own entity. Past meetings with Wrightwoodians to form a CSD never brought forward a collective group to create a Feasibility Committee until this last group showed their ability to look at the issue from all points of view in an unbiased manner. The current committee is a blend of long time and relatively new members of the community. They showed me that they had the best interest of Wrightwood in their thoughts and not some form of convoluted power grab or personal promotion. Thus when I was asked to help in the development of the feasibility study, I accepted the challenge. Having been involved with the formation and management of the PPHCSD gave me insight of what was needed to expedite this study and form a viable entity for Wrightwood. I also have knowledge of the LAFCO process that is the conduit of the formation of an Independent Special District or a CSD, which is a combination of several Independent Special Districts. I also sit on the Board of the Association of San Bernardino Special Districts and understand the various challenges involved with a variety of entities. The LAFCO process is a strict and disciplined process headed by their CEO McDonald. I have known her for 20 years and she is stellar at dissecting each aspect of a study. Because of her high integrity and vast knowledge of what makes a Special District or CSD viable, her insight and approval is not something to take lightly. When she brought the concept of the Wrightwood CSD to the LAFCO Board and showed that it can be viable, she did so without bias and I know for a fact that if she had serious doubt she would tell them so. The LAFCO Board approved moving the CSD to the voters and the whole process was brought to the County Board of Supervisors for the final review. After serious discussion, the Board of Supervisors also approved moving the process forward to the voters of Wrightwood. The unique nature of the Wrightwood CSD having to be approved not only by San Bernardino but also the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors and LAFCO was affirmed by both Boards and gives a second review not normally part of the process. If either Board of Supervisors didn’t approve the formation the issue would have stopped. Next Tuesday the Wrightwood voters on both sides of the county line will make their choice to either reject the formation or accept it. There also will be the election of the Wrightwood CSD Board Members, of which you have eight viable candidates to choose from and five seats to fill. This coming Sunday will be the last community meeting to ask questions and gain information. I fully believe that forming a CSD in Wrightwood is the right thing to do and will prove to be a significant benefit to the community.
2/21/17 Time away gives world insight
Returning home from being in the Philippines almost a month is refreshing in many ways. Yes relaxing in a hammock on a tropical quiet beach with my lady is the highlight, but also being away from the American political bombardment is also highly refreshing. Contrary to my normal routine of early morning newspaper reading or watching news, this trip I did none of that. Instead I focused on my partner and our future, thus the endless political crap was a void I welcomed. But something became evident through friendly conversations with other travelers especially the ones from other countries. At one resort I became friends with Patrick, a Swiss native living in Japan, but at the resort with his Filipina lady. Patrick is a freelance yacht captain that yacht owners hire for excursions. He travels many seas for a wide variety of clients. Our conversations focused upon travel and a world perspective on climate change, poverty, government and the environment. Patrick feels that climate change is far more natural evolution than man made, poverty (providing proper education and fighting hunger) should have been eradicated by now, protecting the environment including endangered species is far behind the 8 ball and that government is the reason for most problems not created by religion. At a different resort and over a dinner of prawns, calamari and crab, my lady Rica and I were joined by a Saudi, an Australian and an Egyptian, all businessmen on vacation to get away from it all and with someone special. Our conversations also embraced a business perspective upon similar issues discussed with Patrick and with similar conclusions. Other similar conversations with fellow travelers took similar directions and I found it interesting none of these conversations were focused upon last November’s election other than everyone was happy Obama was gone and thought he was highly self-absorbed in his own personal goals and objectives. They also confirmed their own feelings that American journalism no longer is the balance and base of objective journalism but has taken the road of bias and lessened their credibility. Keep in mind that all the aforementioned people were businessmen around my age with a variety of backgrounds but similar business foundations as self-made entrepreneurs. All expressed a distrust for current political situations but more so disappointment that bias has hindered business, finding real resolve for world hunger and environmental protection. Little conversation dealt with radical Islam other than all were tired of their crap and didn’t understand how countries are tolerant of these people that want to control the world through their religious beliefs and eradicate opposition.
Written 2/15/17 Water Thoughts
When Schwarzenegger was governor he spent a lot of time working to find a resolve for the drought and water infrastructure crisis. When Gov. Brown took office we had a good winter similar to this year and he announced the drought was over, plus he dissolved the efforts of his predecessor and all the previous work performed for infrastructure and conservation. When those issues became reality to Brown the following year, he did not reinstate efforts of Schwarzenegger as a template to build upon. Brown chose his own course of action. Though conservation and infrastructure are intertwined, they are separate issues and must be dealt as such. For several years we have been told, not just by politicians but more so by the entities involved in California water, that it will take several years of good winter snow pack to percolate into aquifers and other underground storage. People that see this winter’s precipitation as the end of the drought are only fooling themselves. Some point out that extensive water flow is rushing to the oceans because of poor water management at all levels of government, and they’re correct. Many of the soothsayers previously didn’t feel we had a crisis building and didn’t support legislation that could help in streamlining the infrastructure process, or they felt that prior focus of infrastructure decline was a façade to get more public funds. People want free water and don’t want the cost to be part of their household budgets. They don’t want to hear that while water is free, moving water from point A to point B and so forth does have an expense. Ratepayers have a multilevel whammy when it comes to water costs. There are federal, state and local regulations and hoops to jump through, more so for non-governmental entities in some respect, but costs average the same for all providers. Cost factors that could be put on hold or expedited might be: Prevailing Wage - increase the cost of any government level project by approximately 40% of the labor budget. Federal government and 32 states have prevailing wage requirements that apply to loans or grants. Brown may not be able to lower the cost of federal prevailing wage, but he and our legislators would have power over state funded projects. Another significant cost and timeline delay comes in the form of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). These reviews are necessary for the identifying of environmental issues but often the time delays and costs are redundant and could easily be made more expeditious. Another issue to consider is the Native American culture preservation laws involved. These laws protect tribal issues of historic nature but often become a delay factor if an arrowhead is found somewhere. I have no problem preserving Native American or any American heritage, but I also think that if a burial site of one or a few people is discovered, that does not take precedence over current issues. Throughout the country there are many unknown sites or sites not very significant of historic value that could be dealt with honorably but also quickly. The drought is real and won’t go away after one good winter. The lack of storage and other infrastructure is real and won’t be fixed within a year. We must be realistic and know this situation was not created recently, but is the result of decades of pushing it down the road.
Written 2/6/17 Collaborative Partnerships
The Tri-Community has many good organizations that focus on community benefits and assist the residents in a variety of methods. Yet they usually take independent courses to accomplish these deeds rather than collaborative direction. These organizations have dedicated volunteers that spend countless hours keeping the organization going towards their goals and activities but unless there is at least one member that actively participates in more than one organization, they tend to be unaware of their fellow civic groups activities, goals and objectives. Though the churches tend to stay reasonably in tune with one another there are gaps within their realm that could be filled through collaborative venture. Specifically I am referring to joint activities that enable a variety of organizations, churches and local government (SB County and the Phelan Pinon Hills CSD) to enhance activities and objectives especially when they share the same goal. The three Chambers of Commerce may hold a community event such as Phelan Phun Days or Mountaineer Days but the only collaborative efforts and outreach are through funding sponsorships or renting event space. The Phelan Pinon Hills CSD, Snowline School District and First District Supervisor Lovingood perform a collaborative effort through their annual Senior Heath Fair. This shows that with the right initiative, a joint effort helps keep cost down and is a bigger marketing venue outreaching into the Tri-Community. Snowline has also developed the Community Cabinet featuring participation of many civic organizations, but lacking several core groups such as the Kiwanis, Lion’s Club, Fire Safe Council and others that hold events independently. The cabinet is growing and has helped in several collaborative manners and as they grow they will become a viable partner to many more. Two things I hope to see are: 1. These civic groups break the community separation barriers. For example the Kiwanis, Fire Safe Council, Cert Teams, and Lion’s Club could develop a new community event that blends their many talents and activities and outreach to the entire community. And 2. Promoting their independent and joint activities together enabling each to hold the other up high through cross promotion. Also part of the second is letting each organization share their calendars and thoughts on events and dates allowing the other an opportunity not to have a conflict and also might be able to lessen the burden. Far too often I see in the Mountaineer or the News Plus an event coming up on the same date as another important event. This usually results in the tragic loss of sponsorship, loss of participants and overall loss of community benefit.
Written 1/25/2017 Women March
This past few weeks have been very interesting and busy indeed. The Inauguration of President Trump process went well and his message was ‘Trump-like’ but clear to anyone that made the time to listen. Like Obama he proclaimed that he will listen and represent all the American people. Unfortunately in Obamas’ case he did not do that and we will see if Pres. Trump will, or was just being a politician. During the Inauguration a sizable number of people held an illegal protest filled with violence and focus on disruption. Held on last weekend was a ‘Women’s March’ that was well organized, legal and I found interesting. Throughout the country hundreds of thousands of women took to the streets marching for various reasons. Some marched in protest of Trumps’ presidency, some in support of abortion rights already within in the law, some supporting the environment, some protesting Trump for his supposed womanizing and others for various reasons that they felt collectively are valid. I support the organized method that the Women’s March took and the issues they were bringing forth, but for the most part I don’t support their point of view. The first protest on Inauguration Day was terrible and didn’t help any ‘cause’. The Women’s March, though some marchers were being idiotic in manner, the issues presented are real concerns that need to be addressed and not ignored. These women want to be heard not just by the media but also by their elected officials and the public. As I watched through YouTube, read on social and standard media and listened to audio, sensationalism took precedence and many of the leaders really did not get their points across in a clear manner. We all hear Madonna state that she wanted to blow up the White House and conservative media blew her off as a typical liberal celebrity full with offensive nonsense. But I listen to all she said and not just the sound bite and she said she is so frustrated that she wanted to do that. I think everyone can relate to that in sometime in their life being at that degree of frustration, yet we let it pass because logic is evident. I think that she was foolish in making her remark publically. Also unfortunately many other leaders relayed their message in similar fashion and with varying degrees of sincerity failing to get their points across in a manner that the conservative elected official or the majority of American public listened. I have heard more discussion about the upcoming Super Bowl than this march. The Tea Party was established mostly by average citizens that are frustrated with the status quo in politics and a direct response to Obama’s disregard of anything but his personal opinion and thoughts. Trump has the ability and tenure to be a better listener of the average citizen and I hope he exercises that ability. Throughout the next four years we will be bombarded with propaganda from both extreme sides of the political realm, just as we have since the founding of this country. Pacifying these extremities will never happen. Somewhere in the middle of all this is an acceptable resolve for each issue, yet Trump and the American people will have difficulty in finding it, I just hope we can get moving forward in a manner that Makes America Great Again.
Obama Presidency in Retrospect
The end of Obama’s Administration is upon us. For some this has been a glorious 8 years and for others it has been the worst administration ever. For me my opinion sits somewhere in the middle. Obama was elected both times because he was the stronger campaigner and utilized social media with a degree that neared perfection. He also had the media alliance that made him look great and the competitors questionable. He is a good orator and being the first ‘black’ president gave him an advantage in that a sizable number of voters embraced that title for various reasons including not wanting to be considered ‘racist’ if you didn’t align with him. As Obama took a slightly different approach to the traditional Democratic Party line, the Republicans stayed fast in traditional party methods of campaigning. Kind of reminded me of the Revolutionary War where the British stayed fast in traditional British method of war (Republicans) and the American forces (Democrats) had to use sniper attacked as the British walked in unison down the roads.
Obama gained momentum as the new hope and change candidate. He would bring America together, he would make life better and he would renew America as a world leader. He came into the Executive Branch with both side of Congress Democrat controlled with super majorities. He and Congress aligned well and were able to install their mindsets in policy without consideration of anyone else’s thoughts or points of view.
The country was on a brink of a significant economic depression (definitely in a strong recession) and they felt this was time to instill their political agendas. Though Obama stated he wants nonpartisan input on economic matters, it was obvious that all decisions were partisan and moved through Congress those first two years with ease.
The Affordable Care Act was swiftly moved forward without a true gleaning and honing evident in its passage with Majority Leaders Senator Reid and Congresswoman Pelosi stating to pass the act immediately and then we can read what it involves later. The matrix that brought the need of the Act had all America’s concern and anyone that had questions or issues to point out about the Act concerns fell upon deft ears and were left in the dust. This was not the first time in history Congress would significantly regulate an industry, but the immediacy and urgency promoted by the Administration and Congress pushed the regulations without proper vetting. I agree there is a need of regulation but to what extent still needs to be thought through.
Obama forgot that he is the product of both white and black parents. Though his parents were extreme liberals and used that influence to hone their son into the person he is today, instead of bringing racial unity, he widened the racial divide. For the most part white Americans are not racist, but he nurtured the concept they are and honed the black communities racism into a tool he would work with.
As he ends he reign as President, he leaves America being a lesser world power, in racial turmoil and weak within many economic fronts. I am sure it will be difficult for him to give up the power he gained as President and the notoriety associated with the Presidency. I am sure America will function without him at the helm and though Trump will need to dry dock some of the vessels that make this country whole, he has the ability to refurbish these vessels and set our armada to sea with a stronger flotilla recognized by allies as their friend and by enemies as something to hide from.
Written November 22, 2016 Can’t We Get Along
The election is over and I believe everyone is happy that the exchange of charm and fellowship between the candidates and supporters will subside as feelings cure themselves. Unlike the two prior elections (2008/2012) this one was not a landslide. But this election was something I had mentioned from the beginning: either it would be a landslide by Democrats because there was not a Republican that could beat either candidate or the people that are tired of how this country is being run would turn out in droves to take Trump from primary to White House. Though both parties are out of touch with mainstream America and the middle class, Trump held fast to his support of the middle class and the mainstream. The Republican machine was wise in giving Trump some space and for the most part not attempting conflicts, but that wasn’t out of respect for him or the American people it was because they hated Hillary more. The Democrats have a stellar game plan of creating havoc, using their strong allies, the Media and protesters, but are out of touch with the working classes and probably will remain so. The current rants from Hillary supporters may be in the nightly news but do not represent the bulk of Democrats or others and will subside in time. This won’t be true of the media that are higher level paid protesters utilizing their skills to edit truisms and news, so don’t expect much change from the media that has converted from the third person perspective we once had to solely promoting yellow journalism. The American people kept the House and Senate Republican majorities, and also kept Republican governors, all of who can work with Trump on significant issues. The people are tired of the hand out mindset of the current administration, we are a nation that is willing to give a hand up to those willing to make themselves better, but for far too long the hand out mindset has deteriorated our society and sucked whatever fiscal savings and mindsets that the government had until now. We are skeletal form of what we use to be and yet the takers continue to want more without giving anything in exchange. Most of the world including our allies have also been takers as historically we have not requested much from them or just been forgiving of transgressions. But an awakening took place in 2008 that really showed our weak underbelly. President Obama went on a world tour apologizing for anything and everything we may have been a part of that the other nation felt offended. Now he is on his goodbye tour costing Americans nearly $70 million so that he can weep with other leaders his goodbyes. But he has also chosen this tour to be his vehicle to give last stabs at Trump and probably pass out business cards for his new venture in lobbying.
Though the fat lady has not finished her song, the election of Trump makes a statement that cannot be ignored. The sheer magnitude that he fulfilled a drive to presidency as an outsider is inspiring that there could be change of the political party matrix within their own environment. Fighting the odds and staying the course showed that Trump has a strong demeanor. Clinton showed her strength as well and held onto her course regardless of any attempt to steer her away from her focus. “It is time for us to come together” may be his theme to go ahead, but he has a Republican Congress and Senate that may work with him or may hold fast to a hardline value attempting to make him ineffective. Typically either the house or the senate or both changes profile and Majority Party influence during the mid-term election. Will he pursue a special investigation into Clinton’s numerous presumed illegal activities or will he direct the Department of Justice to focus on a few, and eventually if she is convicted pardon her after a conviction or two. As I write this Trump won the Electoral College vote but the popular vote was a slight advantage to Clinton. But that shows that half the country wanted her vision over his and he will need to bridge that canyon to help stabilize emotions. WikiLeaks showed vulnerability to the Democratic internal security and exposed numerous illegal and/or inappropriate activities within that party. I would suspect that if WikiLeaks probed the Republican Party in the same manner that similar activities would come to surface. Though it was the Democrats that took the WikiLeaks hit, the real message is that political reform should be one of the main focuses before the mid-term elections. I am an optimist but also a realist and unless there is a non-political investigation in that reform, nothing will happen. Trump did something that the mainstream parties didn’t think would happen. He brought to the election issues they have been avoiding for decades. Immigration reform, Trade, Commerce, and embracing the Constitution as the basis of freedom, have been political chants during holidays but now these issues have urgency and will not be shelved. A peaceful revolution is upon us, but that does not allow radical or idiotic activities to flourish. We will have those comments at various levels and on various topics but reform comes slowly and unfortunately there will be hurt feelings that are unnecessary if people will keep improper statements to themselves. Trump needs to show he is the people’s president and those who adamantly oppose him through closed minds will just have to deal with it.
Written October 19, 2016
Not the America I knew
When I was a boy growing up in the 50’s and 60’s America was the land of the free and home of the brave, a statement of patriotism. It was a place that immigrants came to with the thoughts of making a new life for themselves and their families though adapting to our culture and honoring our constitution. Media kept a third person perspective and bias was kept to opinion pages. Politicians were clearer in focusing upon issues, and showed their differences by their approach to the issues. But as everything evolves, what we are witnessing is not evolution that embraces American traditional values but more so modifying them to fit personal interest. We still have many people embracing traditional values but the ever increasing modification of them is troublesome. Patriotism has grown away from basic values though a lack of education, as history books omit vital highlights. Though I embrace the multiculturalism brought into that education, it should enhance the education and not replace history with omissions and bias propaganda. Fortunately at the local level patriotism still flourishes in segments of our society, but nationally it is heading to extinction as those who feel patriotism is a conservative thing rather than a patriotic fortitude. Immigration has been a mainstay of American values, but as in the past it needs organization through legal transparent methods. The ever-increasing support of illegal immigration is not a conservative or liberal issue, as people of both mindsets turn their heads for a variety of reasons, like cheap labor. Open borders were not an issue during the 50s, but for decades it has been an issue. Both Ronald Reagan and Ted Kennedy realized we needed the borders closed, as security for our nation has been breached not by the many that cross illegally to find a better life, but by the increasing volume that bring illegal drugs, sex trafficking, and terrorism as their goals. I don’t have a problem with people honoring their homeland traditions, but when they try to replace our heritage and culture with theirs that becomes an issue. The mainstream media has changed from unbiased reporting of the news to pure, confident, bias reporting, dumbing down the public in a dangerous manner. Politics has kept more traditional at a local level, but nationally professional politicians have gone to the dark side. We see this more than ever in today’s Presidential campaign between a lifelong politician Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, a businessman that utilized politics and the greed of lifelong politicians for business gain. This election cycle is truly important because it is pivotal in relinquishing American values or embracing them.
Phelan Phun Days
When my family moved to the Tri-Community, Phelan Phun Days was a small event that took the western side of the Stater Bros parking lot and included the Champaign Classic Car Show. Through the years it moved to Phelan Rd causing the road to be closed between Sheep Creek and Malpaso. This venue was used for many years and though the name implied more than one day for the event, it was a single day event. I am grateful for all the work and effort throughout these 20 years and know that it is no easy task to bring forth such an event that provides a wide variety of fun, showcases vendors from local non-profit organizations to craft sales and even a few years where Victorville Motors had test drives that brought a donation to Serrano FFA for each participant that took the test drive. Each year’s event started with a true local small town parade that set the tone for the event that led the community to the variety of Phun Day activities and the car show. Thousands of people would attend the event and fill the walkways and congregate at each featured activity. But it was evident that the car show seemed to be the trigger and corner stone that kept things happening until the trophies were handed out and the event seemed to wind down around 4pm. Last year a shock rumbled through the community as Phun Days was cancelled due to the lack of expected vendor participation. Some people were critical of the event’s sponsor, The Phelan Chamber of Commerce and added to the negative tone enhanced by a former employee and his cronies, but the Chamber took the opportunity to reboot the concept of this community event, rethink their strategy in serving the community, thus they went back to a multi-day format something that has not been around for more than 20 years. Chamber Board Member Dan Whalen worked with his fellow members and reignited the multi-day concept, plus moved the event from a September weekend, which usually featured hot and windy weather, to a cooler October weekend that seemed to payoff in bringing more visitors and less havoc. This year’s event was a true home run as everything fell in place. Moving the parade to Sheep Creek Rd from Phelan Rd enabled fair goers to easily stroll to the main event area, a 5-acre parcel adjacent to the Phelan Park, which are both owned by the Phelan Pinon Hills CSD. The car show was not a feature this year but will be held the Craft Beer Festival. A carnival atmosphere was the cornerstone as carnival rides for kids of all ages brought in a sizable revenue to the Chamber and helped keep the kids busy while parents and adults wandered through the array of vendors. Other features that worked together in providing a variety of activities was the Explorer Scout Breakfast on Saturday morning, a variety of musical and other performances within two stage areas, and roundtable variety of equestrian activities that showcased the multitude and variety of equestrian interests within the community. The event ran from Friday afternoon through Sunday evening with Saturday and Sunday starting at 10am and all three days ending near 10pm. A well thought out plan allowing wider walkways enhanced the event as well. I salute the Phelan Chamber for developing a format that blended the wide array of interests within the Tri-Community, and showed the doubters they were wrong.
Cops and Common Sense
It is amazing how a focus by media and some special interest groups has been upon law enforcement interface with suspects and the resulting actions of a very small percentage of these, for the most part simple situations that unnecessarily get channeled out of perspective. Examples abound day after day of people challenging the directions of law enforcement officers and reaping the negative results of the situation that often ends in someone dying. There is a perception of someone being victimize by police brutality rather than the perception that these people didn’t do the common sense thing to do which is simply to realize the officer needs to stabilize the situation and in essence is in charge of the situation until it is stabilized. Something my parents taught me when I first got a driver’s license at age 16. They told me these simple rules that have resulted in assisting the officer to keep his cool and not be insecure of my activities or reaction to the situation. First, if pulled over while driving a vehicle, pull over to the roadside as far away from traffic lanes as possible, thus giving an easier and safer access to my driver’s window. After pulling over put the car in park or first gear and turn the car off. Place the ignition keys on the dashboard in plain sight and place my hands on the top of the steering wheel after I made sure the driver’s window was completely down. If at night I also turned the dome light on to give a better view of what is happening inside my car. You already know the officer will ask for your driver’s license so why not have it in hand before the officer arrives at the window. Don’t get the registration/insurance out yet as bending over or reaching for something on the opposite side of the car may seem suspicious to the officer. If the officer asks for these items just inform him of where those items are and reach for them, slow and easy. Something else that is helpful is never get out of the car unless asked by the officer and once you have done so just do as the officer asks. If you disagree with the issuance of a citation or whatever reason for you being stopped, take a chill pill and don’t argue or create havoc, which may not be to your benefit. Adding to the common sense law of survival, while at a party or some other event, if officers show up, don’t be the confrontational person, let someone else earn that status when they go to court.
Regardless of the level of governmental service, whenever a person steps up to putting themselves into an elected position they take on the responsibility of representation and service that is associated with that position. Like any other job it is a choice that involves performing associated tasks and accepting the responsibilities of the position. The higher the position, the broader the representation and the more you’re being watch by those you are representing.
At any level of elected office your position should be to represent all the people, young or old, rich or poor, voter or non-voter, regardless of ethnicity, gender, color, and bias. When someone takes on the position of President of the United States their job is to represent all the people, all of the time. It is a 24/7 on call position that comes with a big price tag even during those times of rest, relaxation and so called off-duty hours.
Besides an income, we provide the Presidents and their families with free transportation, living quarters, security, retreats, social gatherings, vacations, medical care and more while they serve; as part of the benefit package, some of these benefits continue into retirement after service 4-8 years.
Regardless of how you feel about Barack Obama as a person or as your representative, between his golf activities and vacations, plus all the free social time he gets at private parties and events, he has consumed hundreds of millions of tax payer dollars and not spent a dime of personal funds for these activities. His personal wealth has grown into the millions and I wonder how that can happen since he does not have a business or gain income from known enterprise.
Currently he has chosen to fundraise and campaign during the primary process and also during this election season for Hillary Clinton and lesser office candidates at the location that he travels to on taxpayer money.
His campaigning produces some interesting contradictions, such as his statement that Hillary is the best-qualified person to run for Presidency ever! A claim he didn’t make when he was competing with her 8 years ago as he stated that she is the worst qualified candidate ever.
He claims that Donald Trump is unqualified to run for President because of his lack of leadership and knowledge of government. Yet he needs to look at his own history, when he ran for President his only government experience was party fulfilling the position of Jr. Senator and never completed that term nor worked the job full time. Trump has far more governmental experience that Obama had at this stage.
Hillary has only served in government related jobs all her adult life, held some strong supportive roles for her husband and held some strong positions within the public matrix. Yet all she brings is an endless trail of corruption and controversy. Is this truly what Obama sees as the best qualifications of public service?
Is it NEET or do we need jobs?
As the bandwagons roll towards Election Day one of a few true concerns being mentioned is the need to stimulate the economy through increased productivity of our workforce. This is not the sole stimulus but it is a significant one. Creating new jobs in existing or upcoming industries is the direction that will help turn the jobless or underemployed tide, rather than bringing jobs back to America.
But in the past eight years, the backbone workforce consisting of men, regardless of color, ages 25-54 have been put on the sidelines and discarded/ignored for the sake of groomed job rate numbers that make politicians look successful in bringing unemployment to its lowest numbers in decades.
Statistically when jobs leave the country, those lost jobs are transferred from the employment rolls lowering the number of jobs needing to be filled, and falsely showing an increase of employment. Perception that we are nearing the 4% unemployed milestone, which most Americans presume as nearing full employment, is enhanced by misconceptions portrayed by economic leaders, such as the vice chairman of the Federal Reserve, who said in a speech last week, “it is a remarkable, and perhaps underappreciated, achievement that the economy has returned to near-full employment in a relatively short time after the Great Recession.”
Let’s look at the true figures rather than the fictional one of 4%. In 2015 the work rate for American males age 25 to 54 was 84.4%. That’s slightly lower than it had been in 1940, 86.4%, at the end of the Great Depression. This “male jobs deficit” in 2015 is nearly 10 million, even after taking into account an older population and more adults in college.
For working-age men, the jobless rate jumped to 15% from 6%. Most of the postwar surge involved voluntary departure from the labor force, when able-bodied men for various reasons find themselves mentally and physically depressed to the point they just give up looking for work.
We use to have two categories for employment figures: employed and unemployed. But a third category that has materialized in growing numbers to be cloaked behind the statistics are those ‘neither working nor seeking work’- that is, men who are outside the labor force altogether.
Who are America’s prime-age male non-workers? Many are labeled NEET: “neither employed nor in education or training.” They tend to be: 1) less educated; 2) never married; 3) native born; and 4) African-American. But those categories intersect in interesting ways. Black married men are more likely to be in the workforce than unmarried whites. Immigrants are more likely to be working or job-hunting than native-born Americans, regardless of ethnicity. High school dropouts from abroad are as likely to be working or looking for work as native-born college grads.
Regardless of its cause, this new normal is critical to America’s national interests. Declining labor-force participation and falling work rates have contributed to slower economic growth and widening gaps in income and wealth. Slower growth in turn reduces tax revenue and increases budgetary pressures, producing higher deficits and national debt. Unworking men have increased poverty in the U.S., not least among the great many children whose fathers are without jobs.
I truly see this as a factor to be dealt with by the next president. Obama has failed to recognize these millions and take action, and if the next president continues the same lack of insight, the overall affect will increase.
Good, bad or otherwise, Hillary Clinton does not see these Americans as potential workforce participants, and Trump does.
The Sand Fire started along the Sand Canyon Rd and the 14 Freeway last weekend with the cause still under investigation. More than 1,600 firefighters are battling the raging fire, which had scorched about 60 square miles in the Angeles National Forest and Santa Clarita area, prompted several waves of evacuations, destroyed 18 homes and caused one man’s death. Friends that the man was visiting reported he refused to evacuate and when he finally tried he died in his car as the fire swept through the area.
Facebook and Twitter are filled with comments about the fire from local residents and often they seem amazed at the volume of smoke that we see and smell. What the Tri-Community is experiencing is nothing compared to the total engulfment of smoke from wildfires in the past and as recently as last year we have had fires within our community.
Though social media comments can add a tone to the writers and build common concern it does nothing to make you prepared for a fire in your area. Last year’s North Fire burned a large segment of Oak Hills and Phelan. That firefight was hindered by people flying drones, which was one of the catalysts of new laws being created making flying drones within fire restricted areas criminal. Some homes that were burned within that fire were not prepared with proper pre-fire activities. Evacuation orders are often ignored and for whatever reason you find to ignore it, you not only put your life in jeopardy but often become an obstacle to firefighters or other residents of similar mindset.
Tri-Community residents live in a rural area and are required to maintain a minimum of 100-ft clearance around homes and out buildings. This does not mean to clear that area total of brush, plants and trees, but to clear weeds and grasses, trim bushes at least 6” above the ground and trim trees of low hanging branches all to eliminate the possibility of ladder fuels bringing a wildfire to your roof or home siding. Loose roof tiles should be repaired or replaced; fresh paint on outside walls will help eliminate hiding places for cinders, such as cracked paint or barren areas. Enclose open areas around porches and secure attic vent screens.
Create a family escape plan that includes a secure meeting area and what items you would want to take within a 5-10 minute evacuation timeline, plus livestock and pet evacuation plans not dependent on others helping. Review insurance policies and keep copies of all-important papers out of the area.
New Gun Control Laws
California already has the more restrictive gun control laws in the country and last week Gov. Brown made them tighter. The state legislature introduced 11 new laws, which they wanted regardless of what gun supporters want, and the passage shows again why a legislature that is one sided politically should not be in power. The laws signed will be enacted in January, so gun rights supporters take heed.
Measures that Brown has signed: Senate Bill 1446, authored by Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, bans possession of ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. This means that if you have a gun that holds more you have a problem and if you have magazines that hold 10 or more after January you are a criminal.
SB 1235, authored by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, regulates the sale of ammunition by requiring background checks. Why ammunition? Simply to help control the public. Buying spontaneously for a target or hunting trip is out of the question.
SB 880, authored by Sen. Isadore Hall, D-South Bay, and Assembly Bill 1135, authored by Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, bans "bullet buttons" that make it easy to detach magazines. All guns except single shot or revolvers have this button. Unless you can adapt something that replaces this button, your gun will be illegal, and possession of it criminal.
AB 1511, authored by Miguel Santiago, D-Los Angeles, limits the lending of guns to family members who have not completed background checks. Exchanging guns with friends at the range and training your youth proper gun control and safety without the checks will be illegal.
AB 1695, authored by Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, blocks people who have knowingly made false reports on the loss or theft of a gun from possessing firearms for 10 years. It is already illegal to make false reports of any kind, seems California is easier on sex offenders than gun owners.
Measures that Brown vetoed: AB 1674, authored by Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, D-Los Angeles, limits the number of long guns Californians can purchase to one a month, a limit that now applies to handguns.
AB 2607, authored by Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, expands the group of people who may request a gun violence restraining order to include mental health workers, employers, co-workers and school employees.
SB 894, authored by Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, requires the reporting of a lost or stolen gun within a few days.
AB 1673, authored by Assemblyman Mike Gipson, D-Carson, would eliminate the proliferation of "ghost guns," which are manufactured at home and don't carry serial numbers.
AB 1176, authored by Cooper, places a measure on the November ballot to amend Proposition 47 -- which reduced many nonviolent crimes from felonies to misdemeanors -- by classifying the theft of a firearm as a felony even if the value of the gun is less than $950. (Brown vetoed it because a similar provision is included in a gun control measure on the November ballot.)
Note: much of what the governor signed is within Prop 62, Lt. Gov. Newsome’s Prop, on the November ballot. The only difference is that Prop 62 will create a new court process to ensure that firearms are surrendered by people upon conviction of serious crimes, and make theft of all firearms a felony, plus require licensed vendors to report the theft of ammunition within 48 hours.
None of the approved laws protect us from criminal use of guns, but further restrict or criminalize legal owners.
June 23, 2016
Rebooting My Life
I moved to Pinon Hills in June 1996 to give my family a better life. To know the area better I bought a Mountaineer Progress Newspaper at the Circle K in Phelan and upon reading the paper, including the want ads, I came across an ad from the paper seeking local writers that were interested in writing about Pinon Hills.
Though I was working for Sav-On’s Drug Stores as a truck driver at that time, I felt the desire to get to know my community better and thought that writing an opinion column about Pinon Hills would give me that opportunity. Thus I answered the ad and Editor John Hollis hired me probably because no one else answered the ad, but who knows his inspiration.
My first column was named Pinon Hills Perspective and I walked my daily walk meeting neighbors and writing their stories. Then John asked me to cover the Pinon Hills MAC for him and I had my first assignment.
20 years have come and gone and after writing thousands of articles and columns for this paper recent thoughts of rebooting my life for my next 20 years has been weighed deeply in my mind. In considering the many people I have met, the vast number of meetings I have attended and the events I have covered, I am happy to report to you that I will never regret the opportunities that have come through being a reporter and writer for the Mountaineer. This venue has been a great friend to me and gave me the catalyst to not only be a Pinon Hills resident but more so a Tri-Community member.
I got involved in the Pinon Hills MAC serving as a member for 7 years starting in 1997 and then took an open seat on the Zone-L Water Board for 4 years. I was one of the initial members of the Phelan Pinon Hills CSD Feasibility Committee and saw the establishment of local government in those communities and am proud to serve on its Board since its inception. My passion and compassion for the Tri-Community is deep within me and will remain so regardless of where my next adventures take me.
Being a reporter is not an easy job. It requires you to keep a third person perspective and report without bias the events of the community and to know when someone is trying to use the media for their own bias and objective. Caution be had that though you may align yourself with someone’s bias, bias has no place in reporting and that is a fact.
But for those who would applaud my leaving, I have a surprise for you. I will continue my Tri-Community Thoughts and probably submit a few feature articles now and then. In conclusion I will just say, Party On!
June 16, 2016
What is real about Orlando?
By now everyone has heard a wide array of news dealing with the mass murder of innocent people in Orlando Florida. Like any other news as the information gets clearer in the facts, things change from the original reports and truisms get confirmed.
FBI Director James Comey stated, “so far, we see no indication that this was a plot directed from outside the United States and we see no indication he was part of a network,” and Comey emphasized, the investigation is far from over. “We are going through the killer’s life, especially his electronics, to understand as much as we can about his path and whether there was anyone else involved, either in directing him or in assisting him.” It may be interesting to see if there is a connection between Mateen and the guy that was arrested in Santa Monica with explosives and weapons; maybe there is a network we don’t know about.
We do know that the FBI had watched Omar Mateen for several years because of his interest in Al-Qaeda and that during the course of three phone conversations with the dispatcher, Mateen pledged allegiance by name to the head of the Islamic State group, a reference to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Mateen also claimed solidarity during those calls to the Boston Marathon bombers and an American suicide bomber who blew himself up in Syria in 2014.
Obama and Hillary Clinton’s first response was focused on gun control blah blahblah, but no attention to the terrorism and the tragedy. Trump’s first reaction was to say how devastating the tragedy is and that we need to review security from terrorists regardless of where they were born.
I wonder if the situation was different such as the KKK doing this terrorism, if Obama and Clinton would be so silent. I think they would be at the forefront of investigating the Klan, arresting affiliates but also continuing to trumpet Gun Control. We know that we have many extremist Muslims growing strong in our country and this is through the fertilization of their methods, which is being protected by our laws.
The Democrats in Congress are being total buttheads with protesting the simple process of honoring the victims with silent prayer because their focus is gun control. The focus should be upon terrorism and how to protect us not upon taking guns away from Americans.
This sad event is being billed as the worst mass shooting in American history, but on December 29, 1890, 297 Sioux Indians at Wounded Knee Creek on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota were murdered by federal agents and members of the 7th Cavalry who had come to confiscate their firearms “for their own safety and protection.” The slaughter began after the majority of the Sioux had peacefully turned in their firearms. The Calvary began shooting, and managed to wipe out the entire camp. 200 of the 297 victims were women and children.
June 2, 2016
In recent days I have read about the tagging of a Vietnam POW monument in Venice and it upset me that someone or a group of people could do such a disgraceful thing to a monument that honored POW’s or in reality anything or anyone.
Some people feel it was Isis or terrorist supporters or this or that supporters. I think it was just plain ignorance and the lack of understanding the true meaning of that memorial. Since tagging seems to be associated with gangs and that area is a known gang hang out for local and visiting gangs that go the beach, I feel it is probably related to gang territorial tagging and nothing much more than that.
I have watched several videos posted on YouTube or Facebook, also some man on the street interviews of just common people in public places. This weekend there were many that asked the interviewee about the meaning of Memorial Day. I was amazed at how many people had no clue what Memorial Day was about and I also noticed that it was not just the youth but also people of nearly any age that had no clue.
I ask, ‘is it the lack of teaching in schools?’ and I doubt that is the sole reasoning but it probably is a factor. I say this because several people including senior citizens voice ‘no clue’ or their reasoning was not the correct one.
I am part of the world that respects those who serve or have served in the military and condone their right to say they have done it to keep America free. But let us remember that patriotism is also a factor in the 90% or more that have not served in the military, either ours or a foreign military. A friend of mine that is in the Philippine Army died this past Saturday at the age of 27. He was on patrol in Mindanao fighting rebels and stepped on a land mine and died from his injuries. He too is a patriot fighting for freedom and gave his all for that cause.
My concern grows more intense as the media shows a growing display of unpatriotic activities worldwide. But focusing on our country this growth has an oxymoronic stature as we see so many protest that are turning unjustifiably violent. This political year is seeing a growth of protesting or groups expressing their disdain for one candidate or another and that is normal in a land that cherishes Freedom and its Constitution. Yet the growth of illegal protesting is showing its face and that is not acceptable in my book, and that includes the disgracing of monuments.
5/26/2016: Speed kills and so does Road Rage
Though I was looking forward to retirement, my business has had a substantial increase in the past year and this has put me back into driving during the morning and evening work rush. I have learned through the years that allowing myself sufficient commuter time enables me the luxury of calm driving and a better demeanor.
But for many, who have tight family and work schedules or work far from home, they do not have this luxury and the race in the morning becomes part of their overall driving habits. While the Tri-Community has grown in population, local job opportunities have not, and it is becoming more apparent that taking risk has become the norm for many drivers.
You don’t have to be active in Facebook and read the numerous comments about drivers and the increase of accidents within the community to know about these activities, you only have to drive any time of the day to witness this fiasco. I live off of Caughlin Rd and turning onto Phelan Rd, especially in the work traffic timeline, can take 10-15 minutes of waiting as an endless line parades in both directions and patience becomes a virtue.
Many drivers are using turn lanes as pass-through so they can gain a few seconds over other drivers. Some pass along dirt shoulders, and tailgating seems to have become the norm. Along Hwy 2 and 138 the double yellow line does not exist for many drivers as they choose to pass at any given moment.
Unfortunately these driving habits become instilled within the drivers as they justify their action usually giving blame to conscientious drivers following practical and legal driving habits. The increase of head-on collisions, road rage, and more is unacceptable.
An increasing outcry to have more sheriff and CHP presence within the community is valid, though I don’t want to see that activity, it is becoming more apparent it is a necessity. I think it is time for the County to look into widening Phelan Rd into four lanes. There is sufficient room for expansion and though the county’s focus is to relieve congestion in Victorville and other High Desert cities, they really need to look at Phelan Rd as a primary project.
Drivers need to reevaluate their habits and bring them back into perspective but also the County needs to reevaluate their service to our unincorporated communities, and expanding Phelan Rd just makes sense.
May 12, 2016
Ballots are out
Your June 7 Primary Ballot is in the mail and, as I always do, I will give you my open ballot opinion. I am registered Independent (which is about 20-25% of registered voters) and when I make my choice it is based upon information I can find on the candidate or proposition through news articles, candidate statements, events, forums and candidate websites.
California holds an open primary for every position except President. For President the Democrats have seven names but let’s face it, there really are only two to choose from: Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. If I was to chose one of those two it would be Sanders because Clinton is highly corrupt. The Republicans have five candidates but only Trump is actively seeking the position, so that choice is simple.
All the other offices are part of the open primary system so here are my choices. US Senate has 12 Republican, 7 Democrat, 4 other party, and 11 Independent candidates, 34 in all. Chose who you want because the only two that have state wide name recognition are Kamala Harris and Loretta Sanchez, so I think it will be between them.
US Congress 8th District covers the High Desert, Inyo and Mono Counties. There are five candidates: Roger La Plante, Tim Donnelly, Paul Cook, John Pinkerton and Rita Ramirez respectively in the ballot line up. Paul Cook is the current Congressman holding office since 2012 and has done little to nothing to benefit his district. With 35,000 Lobbyists in Washington DC trying to influence 535 elected representatives (435 in the House of Representatives and 100 in the Senate) it is easy for a representative to choose money over his constituents. Of the five candidates, Republican Paul Cook has gained nearly $1 million in his campaign fund most of it coming from special interest. He is running not on his record as a representative of the district but upon his military record because he knows most voters respect a military record. Cook also runs a dirty campaign based upon spewing negative comments about all his opponents and often those comments are lies.
The other Republican Candidate is Tim Donnelly, who in response to Cook is also running a negative campaign. Donnelly did serve as the 33rd District Assemblyman but in Sacramento he was highly ineffective and focused upon himself. The other three candidates are Democrats: Roger La Plante is a retired Army Sergeant and has also run a negative campaign because he has nothing to offer the people in a plan or solution to issues that directly affect our district. Rita Ramirez is a retired college professor and totally engulfed in herself; if you don’t address her as Dr. Rita Ramirez she will ignore you.
I 100% support John Pinkerton because of the five he is a Statesman and not a Politician. He is the only candidate that has a plan to bring jobs to the district and without jobs nothing else matters. He is also the only candidate that will put his District first in everything he does. His day job is serving 800 students as a school counselor and has been doing so for 15 years. His civic work has been in service on the Victor Valley College Board since 2012 and he has gained the respect of his fellow Board Members and the community regardless of political affiliation. He has kept the concept of honesty, hard work and service in everything he does and will continue to do so as your representative.
May 5, 2016:
Local Congressional Candidate puts jobs #1
Sitting at the Phelan Park last Sunday Sharon and John Pinkerton talked about his commitment to serve the High Desert as their representative in the 8th Congressional District. “I do not take public service lightly and have taken the time to talk to business owners, public figures and residents to understand what is in their hearts”, said Pinkerton.
Unlike the current Congressman and other candidates that only talk about popular national issues and not their service to the residents of the district, Pinkerton commented that a Congressman does serve to represent the people of his district on national issues but without focus of having the district as his primary concern the representative is not doing his job. “Other candidates are already throwing rocks at each other, let’s pick up those rocks and build schools, medical facilities, businesses and the infrastructure that provides jobs. Jobs are the cornerstones to build upon; people want to earn their family’s lifestyle. That is the primary concern of Americans including us in the 8th District. I will never forget that a good job is a good start to a good life.” He added that to make sure the right jobs are in the right location he would outreach to the individual areas and talk with the people, listen to the community leaders and businessmen and see what the best fit for that area is. “What works in the Victor Valley may not be what is needed in Inyo or Mono Counties or Baker or Needles or Yucca Valley. We need to strategize with the regions and find ways to promote business interest that will bring jobs and fit the lifestyle”, adding, “You can talk about anything but without jobs nothing else will be possible.”
Talking about his upbringing, “Growing up in Nebraska, my mother raised my brother and me in a blue collar household with strong work ethics and Christian beliefs”, explaining that he took those values to the education field as a secondary teacher and for the past 14 years as a counselor at Silverado High School in Victorville. He dedicates long hours with the students and their families and through a low budget grassroots campaign ($5,000 compared to the other winning candidate’s $72,000); he was elected to the Victor Valley College Board of Trustees in 2012 and currently serves as the Board President. As a college trustee, he has proven himself to be a proponent of fiscal conservatism, while supporting the wide array of workforce found at the college. Recently he led the Board to a unanimous decision to refinance bonds saving taxpayers a total of $18,875,765 million dollars, “I was taught that moderate sensible government should always be wise stewards of public funds.”
Pinkerton moved his family from Texas to the High Desert and chose to raise his family embracing the rural lifestyle of Pinon Hills. “The High Desert is a blend of urban and rural life. We must maintain both distinctions enabling us to conserve our rural environments not only for its beauty, but also for the watershed and natural resources it provides to replenish our aquifers.”
“Social Security is something our workforce has paid into and is entitled to receive as an economic stability. We have heard for decades that the system is fragile, yet it keeps being kicked down the road. I will work to stabilize the program for recipients today and in the future.”
“We have over 22,000 Veterans living in the 8th District, many travels to Loma Linda or Los Angeles to receive medical or other entitlements they earned as servants of freedom. We need to establish High Desert VA facilities that can provide stellar service and lessen travel time.”
Presidential Protest selected permission
During the current Presidential campaigns all Republican candidates and Bernie Sanders have something in common. That common ground are protest sometimes calm but often volatile that often disrupts the candidates rallies and recently in Chicago stopped a Trump rally from happening. In 2012 Pres. Obama signed a bill Titled the ‘Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011’ it sounds like an appropriations bill instead of a direct hit upon the Constitution.
It was not a coincidence that the Continental Congress drafted the First Amendment to read; “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” This was a direct cornerstone to freedom in response to free speech suppressed by King George and the Parliament.
This Act may be cited as the ‘‘Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011’’.
Section 1752 of title 18, United States Code, was amended to read as follows: Whoever—‘‘(1) knowingly enters or remains in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority to do so; ‘‘(2) knowingly, and with intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions, engages in disorderly or disruptive conduct in, or within such proximity to, any restricted building or grounds when, or so that, such conduct, in fact, impedes or disrupts the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions; ‘‘(3) knowingly, and with the intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions, obstructs or impedes ingress or egress to or from any restricted building or grounds; or ‘‘(4) knowingly engages in any act of physical violence against any person or property in any restricted building or grounds; or attempts or conspires to do so, shall be punished as provided in subsection (b). ‘‘(b) The punishment for a violation of subsection (a) is— ‘‘(1) a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than 10 years, or both, if—
‘‘(A) the person, during and in relation to the offense, uses or carries a deadly or dangerous weapon or firearm; or ‘‘(B) the offense results in significant bodily injury as defined by section 2118(e)(3); and
(2) a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than one year, or both, in any other case. ‘‘(c) In this section— H. R. 347—2 ‘‘(1) the term ‘restricted buildings or grounds’ means any posted, cordoned off, or otherwise restricted area— ‘‘(A) of the White House or its grounds, or the Vice President’s official residence or its grounds; ‘‘(B) of a building or grounds where the President or other person protected by the Secret Service is or will be temporarily visiting; or ‘‘(C) of a building or grounds so restricted in conjunction with an event designated as a special event of national significance; and ‘‘(2) the term ‘other person protected by the Secret Service’ means any person whom the United States Secret Service is authorized to protect under section 3056 of this title or by Presidential memorandum, when such person has not declined such protection.’’.
Since the law is rather short in context, I wanted you to read the whole thing. What this does is basically allow the President and other chosen politicians to enable the Secret Service to control and sequester any protest Peaceful or otherwise of the Presidents/Secret Service whim. I bring this to your attention because there seems to be a lack of protest at Hillary rallies though she is rather unpopular to many voters and I wonder if this is a stealth backing from Obama. April 21, 2016 Adding a nail to the California economic coffin
“Special interests struck a backroom deal to raise California’s minimum wage to $15 an hour in just six years. The deal was rushed through the Democratic-controlled Legislature with little public input and signed into law by the governor in less than a week. It’s almost as if no one wanted to take the time to stop and listen. If they had, they might realize they’re making a huge mistake,” said Board of Equalization Member George Runner, adding, “While a $15 minimum wage may seem like a good deal for workers, it will cost many their jobs and raise the cost of living for all. A one-size-fits-all approach to combating poverty will fail in an economically diverse state like California.” Runner’s words are founded upon a recent UC Berkeley study that raising the wage in Los Angeles would cause the city’s unemployment rate to rise, and economy to shrink. Creating more poverty and shrinking the economy shouldn’t be the goal of public policy. For further evidence, take a look at Seattle, which recently adopted a $15 minimum wage. The state of Washington saw major job gains in 2015, except in Seattle. Also, the food service industry experienced the largest job losses since 2009. Most restaurant owners can’t pack up and leave California, but McDonalds, Burger King and other large franchise chains are looking into robotics to replace workers because they can prepare the food more quickly and with more accuracy, and after the robots are purchased there are no wage concerns. Los Angeles was once the epicenter of apparel manufacturing, attracting buyers from across the world to its clothing factories, sample rooms, and design studios. But over the years, cheap overseas labor lured many apparel makers to outsource to foreign competitors in far-flung places such as China and Vietnam. Last week American Apparel, the biggest clothing maker in Los Angeles, said it might outsource the making of some garments to another manufacturer in the U.S., and wiped out about 500 local jobs. The company still employs about 4,000 workers in Southern California. Sung Won Sohn, an economist at Cal State Channel Islands and a former director at Forever 21 stated,”The garment industry is gradually shrinking and that trend will likely continue.” Felix Seo has been making clothes for wholesale in downtown for 30 years. His company, Joompy, used to count giant retailers like Forever 21 among its clients. But as prices have gone up in recent years, he said, those fast-fashion peddlers are no longer giving him orders. To survive, Seo said Joompy may have to start importing goods instead of producing them locally. “It will be impossible to make clothes in Los Angeles.” As an option to buying from overseas manufacturers, Seo is considering moving his manufacturing business to a friendlier state such as Texas or Georgia. American Honda moved its administrative facilities from Torrance to Georgia, and Carl’s Jr. went to Texas, both leaving thousands of jobs empty in California.
Why I support the Wrightwood CSD formation
The concept of Community Services Districts (CSD) has been in California since the early 1950’s. It consolidates two or more Special Districts into one local form of government that serves the community or communities involved through local elected officials.
Special Districts can be ‘dependent’ to a larger entity such as the existing Wrightwood Park and Recreation District that is dependent upon the County Special District system or they can be independent such as the Hesperia Park and Recreation District that is part of the city’s government yet is operated independently through its own elected Board of Directors. The formation of a CSD is self-governance through the California Community Services District Code, thus it is independent of any other government or agency.
I was one of the founders of the Feasibility Committee that formed the Phelan Pinon Hills CSD in 2008 and was elected to that Board of Directors upon formation and am very familiar with the formation and other functions of this type of district.
The Wrightwood CSD Feasibility Committee is made up of four local residents who felt that it was time to bring your tax dollars under local control and establish the groundwork of self-governance in Wrightwood. If the voters of the community approve the WWCSD, the County CSA-56 Special District (Park and Recreation) and the County CFA-15 (Solid Waste) districts will be transferred to the newly formed CSD including your property tax dollars and fees associated with these two county districts.
Approval of the formation of the WWCSD and the election of the five Board Members will be on the same ballot. Any registered voter within the district’s boundary can serve on the Board and members would serve a four-year term. Initially the terms are four years for the three candidates with the highest voter approval, and the next two candidates would have a two-year term, which allows for a staggering of the terms of service. In following elections each candidate would serve a four year term.
Following the current format of the Parks and Recreation District, the newly formed district would be considered part-time management and employment keeping the cost of running the district to a minimum while providing maximum benefit to the community.
Besides local control and keeping the associated property taxes and fees from being absorbed down the hill, the formation of the WWCSD will be the only form of local government that includes both sides of Wrightwood: San Bernardino and Los Angeles Counties, giving all residents an official voice in their community, because a CSD is the only form of government that can serve in more than one county.
The Feasibility Committee will be holding their next public community meeting this coming Tuesday, April 12 in the Old Fire House on Cedar St. at 6:30pm. This will be a great opportunity to learn more, ask questions, and get updates of the progress of getting the CSD formation on the November ballot.
March 31, 2016
How well do you know your Presidents?
We are in a Presidential Election year that may turn out to be one of the more interesting battles in my lifetime. Many people are expressing great wisdom about previous presidents and I thought it is time to test these scholars.
Currently we have many political parties in the United States but the Republican and Democratic parties are considered the top two. If you follow their roots you will go back to the 1790’s when Thomas Jefferson and James Madison formed an opposition to the Federalist Party and established the Democrat-Republican Party.
As the Federalists (created by Alexander Hamilton) imploded in the early 1800’s the Democrat-Republican Party (usually referred to as the Republican Party) took strength in guiding the country but internal differences of the ‘Power of State’ began to divine the party into what we see now, Republicans feeling that states should have autonomy over themselves in most matters and the Democrats feeling that the federal government should be the leading force over all matters. Presidential party affiliations: 18 Republicans, 16 Democrats, 4 Democrat-Republican, 4 Whig, 1 Federalist and 1 Non-affiliated with any party.
Let’s play a little game. Who had the shortest presidency? It was Harrison who died of pneumonia after 31 days in office.
Who was the only unmarried president? Buchanan.
Other than the Bushes, who were the other father/son elected presidents? John and Quincy Adams were 2nd and 6th Presidents respectively.
George H.W. Bush and this president were the only two sitting Vice-Presidents to be elected President. Though four V.P.s became president after the sitting president’s death, Martin Van Buren was the only other V.P. to be elected.
Which president had the most kids? It was John Tyler fathering 15 over 45 years.
Which two presidents have been impeached? Johnson and Clinton. Clinton was impeached by the House on two charges, the first being perjury, and the second being obstruction of justice. The senate acquitted him. Johnson’s violation was of the Tenure of Office Act. Johnson wasn’t on board with his party’s plan for Reconstruction; he blocked the enforcement of several congressional acts. His step over the line came when he tried to fire his Secretary of War without Congressional approval.
Who served both as a President and a Supreme Court Chief Justice? It was Taft who finished his Presidential term in 1908 and was appointed to the Supreme Court by Harding in 1921.
Who served nine terms as a Congressman after being President? It was J.Q. Adams representing Massachusetts.
Who was the youngest to serve as President? It was Roosevelt after McKinley was assassinated. Roosevelt was 42, and 43-year old Kennedy was the youngest elected President.
March 24, 2016
Presidential Campaigns again focus on security
It is doubtful that once the news of the terrorism in Belgium came to knowledge that anyone was surprised it was the face of radical Islam we were observing. Belgium’s failure to penetrate a known jihadist group and their lack of security in public places enabled the terrorist to easily walk into two transportation areas and promote fear in the general public and promote their goal to eradicate people that they feel need to go from the face of the earth.
Our media shared the response of our Presidential candidates to this terrorist attack that included all five candidates’ responses. Donald Trump exclaimed that he would “close up the borders” and “do more than waterboarding” to defeat the radicals. Ted Cruz blamed political correctness for the attack and called for “law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.” John Kasich called for President Obama to strengthen our alliance and to dig in terms of what we need to do to address the vulnerabilities we have here and he called for a “pause” in Syrian refugee admissions.
Hillary Clinton comments that we need “solidarity with our European allies” and that the attack shows why NATO is “indispensable in our efforts to protect our country.” And Bernie Sanders expressed his sympathy for the victims of “another cowardly attempt to terrorize innocent civilians.”
All candidates expressed their views to a real life event and not to an assumptive question during a political debate. Their opinions may gain a different tone if they were president and had more information before them. Each have their own popularity profile and following, but once in the White House and facing real situations those qualifiers should not be part of the solution.
Thus when reviewing these responses, not to come as a surprise, but when you go beyond the face value of these comments and think of their responses coming from our Commander in Chief instead of a candidate of the position of national and world leader it is evident that compassion for the victims and passion to lead our nation comes from a wide profile.
Trump’s response may have redundancy of campaign sound bites but it shows radical Islam he is more like Teddy Roosevelt and won’t take much crap from them. Cruz’s response shows he would try to chip away at more American freedom by utilizing a Big Brother methodology of control and not truly address the vulnerability our country has as the leader of Freedom. Kasich’s response showed he looks for solutions and not knee jerk reactions.
Clinton’s response shows she is a politician first and a leader second. And Sander’s response shows he is truly a whimp that would easily answer to the terrorist, “can’t we just get along.”
March 17, 2016
More State Road Taxes Unnecessary
The State is looking everywhere for new taxes to impose on the public. They seek more tobacco taxes, food taxes and more, but today I’ll address increasing road taxes. The idea that we need more taxes in order to pave our roads is a myth. Our roads are in terrible shape, but it is not because of a lack of funding, it is because many in Sacramento would rather grab more money than spend what they already have.
California has ignored its roads and highways for far too many years, including when Schwarzenegger was governor and Caltrans funds were diverted to the General Fund to help balance the budget. According to Caltrans, more than 15 percent of the state’s 50,000 miles of state highways are “distressed,” and require substantial reconstruction, plus an additional 25 percent of the state highway system needs corrective maintenance.
But the State never replaced the billions taken from transportation including the billions spent by the trucking industry that are supposed to be dedicated to road infrastructure maintenance and improvements. If weight fees were put back where they belong, we could completely eliminate the need for the California Transportation Commission to cut any projects. The fees alone would fully fund the threatened projects, with money left over.
In the past two years, the State has grown the general Fund spending by $15 billion all from new tax revenue, yet they won’t replace transportation funds taken in the past and are willing to ask us for more taxes for what we already pay for. Also note; a 2014 report from the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst Office showed that Caltrans is overstaffed by 3,500 full-time employees, at a cost of more than $500 million per year.
For a variety of reasons, average gas prices in California are already about 25 percent higher than the nation. As of Oct.1, 2015, the price in California includes about 41 cents per gallon in state and local taxes and fees, the fifth highest rate in the nation, according to the American Petroleum Institute.
In order to avoid these new taxes, our Assembly Republicans introduced a plan last year that would generate more than $4 billion a year for transportation infrastructure, without increasing taxes by one cent. The plan included ending the diversion of vehicle weight fees, eliminating redundant positions at Caltrans, and using cap-and-trade funds for transportation. None of the bills in this package even received a hearing in the Legislature.
This to me is not fiscal responsibility coming from the majority legislators in Sacramento and when taxes are created because they don’t want to change their priorities, we need to give them the red light.
March 10, 2016
Throughout our days, weeks, months and years we make countless choices. Some are made upon practicalities, some fact, and some upon economics but all have an ingredient of emotion. As a journalist I try my best to keep my emotions to myself and report the facts enabling the reader to make their own evaluations based on whatever they glean from the article.
As a community activist I apply the same principals yet as many have witnessed my passion or compassion gets animated through my emotions. Yet when making a decision such as I have serving on the Pinon Hills MAC, the Zone-L Water Board and the PPHCSD Board, when making choices I seldom have my personal opinion get in the way and I use a practical approach by asking myself what is best for the community or communities.
Sometimes this does not align with the audience, which usually is filled with animation, and I have to think of those who are not in the audience as well because though they may not be in attendance, their voices need representation regardless.
I mention all this because I bring up three significant and important issues before the Tri-Community. The first I will address is the PPHCSD state water conservation mandate. We all know the state has used a cookie cutter approach to address the issue statewide. As they gather information and input, they are making some adjustments, yet for our district it is not enough. I have been fortunate in being part of the Water Conservation Committee and have been able to talk with the state directly. The PPHCSD has been aggressive in bringing forth a good representation as well as trying diligently to meet the state mandates and get the district out of the State’s radar. Choices have been made by the PPHCSD Board with strong consideration of the effect on the communities. The water users need to make their own choices in supporting or not, the conservation request made by the PPHCSD. A good recommendation from the Board is for the water users to voice their concerns to the state directly because the voice of the people can ring in concert with the voice of the district.
The County is in the process of gathering information from communities both incorporated and unincorporated as the County performs their 10-year review of the County Plan. Within that review are several community plans such as the Phelan Community Plan that many local residents worked on together in 2006 to hone a viable plan that was accepted by the County in 2007. The County held a community meeting last week in Pinon Hills and will hold at least two more in the upcoming months. These are opportunities for the residents of Phelan and Pinon Hills to voice their thoughts or choose to be silent.
This week four Wrightwood residents brought forth a feasibility study to initiate a Wrightwood Community Services District. In that study they proposed to transfer CSA-56 (Park and Recreation, Street Lights) and CSF-15 Solid Waste into a locally governed district. The meeting was well attended and I was happy that there were many questions and answers involved. As that process goes forward and is eventually brought to the Wrightwood voters, they will have a collective choice to form the district or not.
All the aforementioned really depends on residents doing their homework and making choices that benefit themselves and the communities they live in.
March 3, 2016:
Super Tuesday sets the course
Super Tuesday for many confirmed the front runners some solid delegate votes but has not fully closed the door to competition. Clinton took 7 states giving her a total of 10 compared to Sanders having 4 states with a total of 5. But looking closer at the individual states with the exception of Massachusetts: Clinton 50.3% to Sanders 48.5%, the individual state victories were through landslides for each candidate.
Clinton has nearly half of the delegates to confirm her position and could within the next few weeks secure that position, but Sanders is revved up and won’t go down easily. Sanders has expressed his desire to keep the pressure going, yet I wonder if he will bring forth the recent confirmation that the Hillary emails have shown that she did have prior knowledge about Benghazi and didn’t do anything to help even as the situation unfolded. Will he discuss other emails not released because they are given Top Secret, confidential, and ‘only for Obama’s eyes’ status, or remain silent and let the situation run its course? What is evident is that regardless of which Republican gets the nod, the email issue will be significant during the election process after the conventions.
Trump took 7 Super Tuesday victories through significant margins with the exception of Arkansas where he won 33%, Cruz 31% and Rubio 25%. He lost to Cruz in Alaska and Oklahoma by a small margin and Cruz won his home state 44% to Trumps’ 27% and Rubio’s 18%. Rubio’s sole win was in Minnesota with 37%, Cruz 29% and Trump 21%. Note that Kasich and Carson were mostly distant 4th and 5th in all contests, Kasich did tie Rubio in Massachusetts beating Cruz’s 10% and he earned 30% of Vermont over Cruz 10% and Rubio’s 19% and only second to Trump’s 33%.
All candidates show they have significance during the primary process and will continue to make the process reasonably interesting, and all will hold cards to play during the conventions, enabling the candidates to focus on their value.
In conclusion I mention that I watched the last Republican Debate in a hotel bar in Manila where foreigners, from a variety of countries, including 6 Americans asked the bar to put the debate on the television. As we collectively watched the program all felt that the debate was very silly with Trump, Cruz and Rubio exchanging insults, Carson whined a lot and Kasich showed Presidential qualities. When we talked about Clinton and Sanders, all except for one thought Clinton emails are an issue and she lacks integrity while Sanders was the candidate that many preferred, especially the Chinese businessmen; they find him weak, dysfunctional and unlikely to change how Congress functions.
February 18, 2016
These business owners can’t take their money to the bank
Though medical Marijuana dispensaries and growers are conforming to strict state regulations, are required to have business licenses and function like any other local business, and 22 states have approved them as legitimate business operations, there is a problem.
The problem stems from the Federal Government’s organized crime laws that prevent banks and other institutions from doing business with known crime organizations. When dispensaries and growers try to bank their money, they find out that it is impossible for them to have bank accounts, use armored- car services, insurance brokers, credit card vendors or any of the normal means to protect business funds from theft or other crime.
Take note that a couple weeks ago when three escapees broke out of an Orange County jail, one of the three was being held for the kidnap and torture of a dispensary owner because the escapee believed the owner was burying large amounts of money in the desert.
This is because at an estimated $2.7 Billion industry that if a state proposition to establish recreational use is approved by voters this year would add another billion or more to this cash industry. California is not the first state to legalize use for medical or recreational purposes, but it is the largest of the 22 states and there isn’t a fix on the horizon.
Banking continues to be a long-running issue for the industry, and even states that have legalized recreational uses don’t have an answer. In 2014, the Department of the Treasury and other regulators issued guidelines that supposedly outlined how banks could legally provide accounts to marijuana-related businesses, but they would do it at the peril of being implicated in money laundering.
This has also created a significant concern for the State Board of Equalization because this industry can only pay their taxes by delivering large amounts of cash to the Board’s offices to be counted and verified by staff, who then issue a receipt.
Since there are no state level solutions, it seems that the Feds should step up to the plate and either decriminalize the industry at the federal level or at minimum write legislation that enables states that have legalized pot sales to offer banking and use other financial services to businesses that have all the required permits and licenses.
Like Global Warming, the sale and use of marijuana sales is a topic that divides the public, because so-called experts on either side of the fence make statements, writing articles and such to defend their position. But unlike Global Warming, we know the cost of billions or more that has been spent on fighting it, jailing, court costs and more, yet the majority of Americans support dropping the prohibition and legalizing the use.
January 28, 21106
Varying Political Strategies holding their own
Prior to May of last year it appeared that the 2016 Presidential Election would probably be between Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush. In May Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley threw their hats into the ring challenging Clinton as the primary and only candidate to inherit Obama’s dynasty. At that time most people had already given the presidency to Clinton because Bush’s milk toast personality was easy for Clinton to defeat.
Though Sanders and O’Malley basked in the shadow of her brilliance, Clinton’s errors have been planting seeds of doubt of her ethics, leadership and more. At the same time Sanders gained popularity with social service dependents and Democratic youth that brought Obama to victory during the 2008 campaign, that showed Clinton’s arrogance to be her self-defeating ally.
Currently, just before the Iowa Caucus on Feb 1 and the New Hampshire Primary on Feb 9, Sanders has gained significant ground as a challenger and shows that Clinton, as “the party’s mainline candidate,” is vulnerable in many ways and Sanders has done so without bashing Clinton on Benghazi or her emails.
It will be interesting to see what Iowa and New Hampshire bring to the campaign because if Sanders shows well and is not defeated by Clinton by a wide margin her vulnerability will be a highlight she will have difficulty in overcoming and Sanders can utilize. O’Malley should just bow out gracefully because at 2% polling he has no chance to challenge either of the other two.
Though Benghazi seems to have disappeared from the radar, there is a slight chance it could reappear during the campaign but most Democratic strategists, especially Clinton’s, are keeping a quiet eye on the email situation. The State Department has asked for a one-month extension of the deadline to complete their gleaning of the 55,000 emails and still have nearly 10,000 to finish evaluating, while the FBI has added 150 agents to their investigative team. If the FBI files charges against Clinton, her chances will be finished and Sanders will be the candidate.
If the FBI continues their investigation past next November’s Election Tuesday, Sanders still may have a sufficient showing to overcome Clinton’s lead or at least have his socialistic programs that are enticing the social dependents and the traditionally liberal youth as planks of the Democratic campaign.
What is significant about Iowa and New Hampshire is that they employ two different methods of selection. Iowa will have daylong mini debates throughout the state of the various supporters and each caucus will have an independent result. In New Hampshire the format is identical to the November election with individual voters casting ballots and winner takes all. A year ago Clinton was deemed a “shoe in” for the presidency, today she is vulnerable not by the opposing party, but by a relative no-name Senator from Vermont.
January 21, 2016
Death by Technology
When I was a teenager I bought my first car in 1967, it was a 1959 VW bug that was plain in appearance and simple to fix. Growing up in Redondo Beach was fantastic but often I found myself spending my weekends in the local mountains, camping at traditional campsites sometimes with a friend or two but often by myself. I had no experience in scouting or camping clubs, I learned my skills by reading survival books, scout books and such. Then I applied my knowledge cautiously during my camping adventures.
Modern day hikers and campers have much more sophisticated equipment but the need to learn basic skills of survival will never change, you need to rely upon common sense, your observations and developed skills.
There are zillions of photographs available on the internet that shows the wonders of California’s nature and wilderness. The splendor of spring flora and fauna in the desert each year may vary dependent upon rainfall, but it remains the seasonal gateway for many travelers going on day hikes or road trips into our wilderness. If you err during the springtime and forget to bring sufficient water or food, or get your vehicle stuck, it is less serious in our desert wilderness than during summer, often survivable and a lesson learned.
But a growing reliance on technology is often the downfall of modern day sightseers as they venture into the desert traveling in an air-conditioned car with a bag of Chips and a six-pack of soft drinks. It doesn’t matter whether travelers are reliant upon their aftermarket or built- in version of GPS, the result can be misguiding especially to foreigners or city dwellers that do not understand the dangers in that beautiful landscape before them. Add the 120 degree summer heat and you have a recipe for death.
A GPS error on a paved city road may be a couple of minutes of frustration, but as proven by some visitors on Hwy190 last summer, the desert is not the place for error. They set their GPS for Scotty’s Castle, a popular tourist spot and easily ventured to upon paved roads. In this case, the GPS took the tourists in the shortest route across Death Valley. When they ventured down the dirt roads, which eventually became impassable, they got stuck. One member of this party walked approximately 20 miles and happened upon a park ranger. When the ranger found the others they were in deep stages of dehydration. In the rangers report, he noted that the off-road trail led to Saline Valley and not Scotty’s Castle. In Death Valley and many desert locations cell phone service is nonexistent, and if you get stuck, calling for help is not an option. Each year in Death Valley 2-5 stranded motorist die because they relied on air conditioning and technology instead of developing wilderness skills. Also be careful of your reliance of a modern day 4-wheel drive vehicle. The majority of 4-wheel drive vehicles is made to transverse inclement weather on paved highways and are not off-road vehicles with skid plates, proper suspension or ground clearance. Modern day 4-wheel drives are like GPS, they can give you a false sense of security, and in a wilderness situation regardless if in the mountains or the desert, the wilderness is unyielding.
Regardless of the time of year or your adventure, take the time to learn skills, let someone know where you are going and dress for the weather.
uary 14, 2016
2016 Presidential campaign proves to be interesting
About a year ago it seemed that the presidential candidate profile would be status quo, boring. Hillary on the Democrats’ side going to battle with Jeb Bush or one of the other standard Republican candidates, with a victory for Hillary.
But by mid-year we had some significant changes in the status quo with Hillary and Sanders becoming more aggressive toward one another and Trump throwing his hat into the ring. Trump is confusing both parties with his ever increasing popularity and he has singlehandedly set the tone and brought forward topics that have been kept on the back burner for decades.
Love him or hate him, Trump has proven that his unique style that rubs the grains of both parties has kept him in the limelight and the polls show his success. Trump has shown he is genuine in his concern to make America better and there is no way anyone can say they don’t know what Trump stands for on any issue. I find it interesting that six months ago the Republican Party voiced their concern that Trump would break away and do a third party campaign that would give a serious advantage to the Democrats. Yet there has been serious discussion of the Republicans developing a third party candidate if Trump wins the primary votes needed for a first round approval during the Republican Convention.
As the field of Republican candidates rises and falls in popularity, some have gleaned themselves from the field and others will do so by summer. Yet I don’t see Trump losing much ground and regardless of how offensive his words are to sensitive ears, it is evident that Trump has the ear of everyone and many from the moderate to conservative mindset not just hearing his words but actually listening.
Hillary seemed to be a hands down champion for the Democrat nomination but an ever increasing support for Sanders has inched Hillary’s poll number down and his up. For Sanders it seems that his popularity is not based on his great ideas, but more so upon him being an alternative to Hillary. I don’t see Sanders getting the nod but he will give Hillary a means to hone her skills for the campaign to the White House.
What may be the true challenge to Hillary will not come from an opponent but more so from her own actions. She is very arrogant and that is showing well in her mannerism and method of campaigning. She has a strong liberal support base which is what has elected Obama and Bill Clinton to the Oval Office and that may be enough to get her elected. But in her closet of skeletons remain Benghazi and her ever-increasing email scandal. It looks like the FBI is going forward with their investigation of the email scandal and just this week increased the investigation team to 150 agents and though the media has played it down, the FBI would not be increasing their team if they felt her violations of State Department policies and security, plus potential violations of campaign funds and political favors being directed to the Clinton Foundation would not lead to her conviction, and a felon can’t run for president.
December 31, 2016
Revisiting Phelan Community Plan
Since the Phelan Community Plan (PCP) was finalized in 2007, we have had several significant changes in the profile of the Tri-Community. At that time Snowline Joint Unified School District (SJUSD) was having growing pains as the population and construction was booming especially in the eastern side of their district known as Victorville West.
A year later the Phelan Pinon Hills Community Services District (PPHCSD) was formed and brought limited local government that controls most of the area’s water, parks and recreation, street lights and some solid waste. The First District County Supervisor discontinued both the Phelan and Pinon Hills Municipal Advisory Councils, which took a significant voice away from these communities.
The County lost a significant amount of revenue in all departments and, through adjustments, has cut back services throughout the County especially in the High Desert. But recently Sheriff and Fire Services have increased in manpower primarily due to having the Fire Chief and County Sheriff residing in our community. The County also finished their ‘vision’ in 2014 that encompasses the entire county, yet has individual area strategic targets for specific areas or regions.
The State is in process of widening Hwy 138 from I-15 to Palmdale, no known plans to improve Hwy18 through the Tri-Community, but they are in the process of developing the E-220 Corridor.
The E-220 will be a commuter rail line and a freeway connecting Lancaster to Apple Valley.
Though the PCP should be reviewed at least every 10 years, with the changes we have experienced and the recession still having a significant impact upon the population it makes sense to start the process now. The PCP embraces rural community lifestyle including maintaining natural resources, keeping 2.5 acres as the primary lot size, plus identifying commercial and industrial areas.
Perhaps the First District Supervisor, PPHCSD and SJUSD could provide a cooperative committee that would review the current plan, bring forth community input, and hone the plan to be more specific to land use. Representatives from civic, real estate, and business need to have a seat, also from conservation, historic, education, utilities, youth organizations, Korean and Hispanic community and so forth to give a full community profile. Both senior and young families should participate and the core group should not allow special interest to dominate. We need to realize that someday within the next 20 or more years; Phelan and/or Pinon Hills could incorporate, when the area has substantial tax revenue increases.
Hwy 138 and Hwy18 are logical corridors for retail development, also Phelan Rd from Beekley to Baldy Mesa, so designating these routes as commercial and not residential is good. Major intersections such as Oasis/Duncan, Sheep Creek/Duncan, Johnson/Duncan, Wilson Ranch/ Duncan and Coughlin/Duncan should be retail.
Low impact equestrian trails should have routes designated throughout the area and OHV enthusiast need to understand that they can’t just run amuck, but should have designated trails and areas that they can enjoy.
December 17, 2015:
Democrats against Mental Health?
Partisan politics are the norm in Sacramento and though there were several moderate Democrats elected to serve in the Assembly in 2014, the leadership in both the State Senate and Assembly remains very liberal Democrat.
I wish to point out a true irony between the parties at the Capitol when it comes to mental health. Democrats always wag their finger proclaiming that Ronald Reagan is responsible for kicking mental health patients out of state controlled facilities and onto the streets as part of his budget crunch when he was governor. Yet ever since the demonic Reagan governorship, Democrats have done little to nothing to rectify that situation, primarily due to partisan politics.
Looking back at those years during the 1960s and 1970s, we find the Lanterman Act, the generic term for a series of laws the Legislature enacted, defining the rights of the mentally ill and developmentally disabled. It was the major legislative accomplishment of Frank Lanterman, a Republican who served in the Assembly for 28 years and made mental health services his personal crusade. Sitting on the Assembly budget committee in the 1950s, he became aware of the shabby treatment of the “mentally impaired” (political correctness) in state hospitals. So during his tenure as a legislator, Lanterman oversaw most of the major legislation in the mental health field, including during Ronald Reagan’s governorship that shift from state hospital care to local services. He retired in 1978 and other Republicans continued to pursue the cause in his memory, although not always as vigorously, and have recently renewed their advocacy.
Recently Republican legislators (ordinarily critical of social services spending), called for more aid to 21 “regional centers” that provide or contract for services to the developmentally disabled and Republicans, not Democrats, are joining advocates that are demonstrating at the Capitol.
Simultaneously, other Republican politicians showed up at local service centers to push the same cause.
As Republicans are rallying to support a bill co-authored by Republican Sen. Jim Nielsen that would increase funds for these centers and other mental health social projects by 10%, Nielsen was quoted saying, “Nearly 50 years ago, the state made a promise through the Lanterman Act that children and adults with developmental disabilities would be cared for. The promise should be kept.”
Gov. Brown proclaims that the state has billions in surplus funds though tax windfalls and it appears that coming up with the extra 10% is not hard to do. So, why are the Governor and Democratic Leadership fighting Republicans on this issue, which could show bipartisanship instead of a partisanship?
The answer is simple, the 10% will be used by Brown and his minions to raise taxes to underwrite Medi-Cal programs, thus doing something simple and right must take the sideline to partisan politics.
December 10, 2015: 2016 Income Tax Changes
It is Holiday Season and everyone’s minds are on gifts, parties and family, so I thought I would mention Federal Income Tax changes starting Jan 1. Learning about these 2016 changes before the new year commences helps you prepare yourself.
The Affordable Care Act imposed penalties for those not having qualifying healthcare coverage. Those penalties started at $95 per adult, or 1% of income above the filing threshold in 2014, but they rose to $285 per adult, or 2% of income above the filing limit in 2015. For 2016, penalties will rise again, hitting $695 per adult, or 2.5% of income.
Most of the tax brackets that govern different classes of taxpayers are adjusted for inflation. For 2016, these bracket amounts are rising by roughly 0.4%.
The low inflation rate kept standard deductions for most taxpayers steady in 2016 from 2015 levels, including the single, married filing jointly, and married filing separately statuses. For those who qualify as heads of household, the standard deduction will rise $50, to $9,300 in 2016.
The personal exemption that taxpayers are entitled to take on their tax returns will go up in value by $50 in 2016. That will give everyone an exemption amount of $4,050.
Health savings accounts let people with high-deductible health plans set money aside on a pre-tax basis to cover the costs of their healthcare. For 2016, the contribution limit for individual policies will remain at $3,350, but the maximum contribution for family policies will rise by $100 to $6,750. A catch-up contribution of $1,000 for those 55 or older will continue to apply.
The maximum allowable Earned Income Credit will go up modestly in 2016. For those with three or more qualifying children, the maximum credit will rise to $6,269, up $27. Those with two children will get a maximum $5,572, which is up $24 from 2015, while one-child families can get up to $3,373, $14 more than last year. Those without children get just a $3 bump and can claim up to $506 for 2016.
The alternative minimum tax has struck a growing number of taxpayers, making the exemption amount more important than ever. Single taxpayers will see their AMT exemptions go up $300 in 2016 to $53,900, while joint filers will see a $500 boost to $83,800.
The lifetime exemption amount for the gift and estate tax is tied to inflation, and it is slated to rise next year as well. The exemption amount will rise to $5.45 million, up $20,000 from 2015. The limit applies to estates of those who pass away in 2016.
Congress usually waits until the last minute to renew popular tax breaks, such as charitable distributions from IRAs, state sales tax deductions, teachers’ write-offs for classroom supplies, and deductions for private mortgage insurance.
With all this said, Merry Christmas and a Happy Bah Humbug.
Deceember 3, 2015: Obama doesn’t get it
While Obama is in Paris it gives me the feeling that it would be like Caesar making claims of unity while Rome burns. Isis is a serious threat to humanity and is just the current vehicle that represents the radical Islam followers. Yes, there are millions of good Muslims in the world, but they are fearful of the radical side and remain mostly silent.
I respect 8th District Congressman Paul Cook not only for his political views but also for his military insight as a retired Marine. He wrote in his December newsletter, “Recently the world watched in horror as ISIS coordinated severely brutal and callous terror attacks in Paris, France. This should serve as a warning signal to democracies not only in the United States, but the entire Western world. We are under siege by an enemy that seeks to undermine the fundamental principles of human liberty and freedom. This conflict is about more than armies and territories – it is about ideas. Terrorists flying the flag of radical Islam are waging war against the West in order to spread their perverted brand of theocracy. If we are to defeat the most insidious threat to democracy since communism, the free nations of the world must not minimize the gravity of this situation.” Cook and many more insightful Americans realize that Islamic Terrorism is a reality growing at various rates of speed and strategy before our national awakening of 9/11.
Obama seems to align himself with those who somehow try to align Islamic Terrorism with Global Warming and I have to say that is extremely foolish. Global Warming is a reality, but to think that it is primarily the works of mankind that created Global Warming is just plain dumb.
These terrorist may portray themselves Islamic but in reality they are just bullies and extremists that use the Islamic religion as their cloak of worldwide control.
History supported by viable science has shown that Global Warming is a natural evolution and cycle of the Earth’s evolution such as the Ice Age and other factors are also part of that evolution. It is foolish to think mankind can somehow cure Global Warming. We can control mankind’s effect on it to a degree but as the Earth changes its axis, the affect is what we are finally noticing.
We cannot control the San Andreas Fault, the earth’s plate movements, tsunamis, volcanos or other natural occurrences, but we can prepare for the results of them or create a system that helps in stabilizing their affects.
November 25, 2015:
Bullet Train or Water
In 2008 California voters approved Proposition 1A a $9.95 billion in funding for high-speed rail and that approval was by a slim margin. Voters were promised the project would be completed quickly and would boost California’s economy by attracting significant investments from the federal government and private sector.
This has not been the case, the facts are that the project has more than doubled in cost to $68 billion and has suffered numerous setbacks that will cost us taxpayers dearly. Consultants hired by the High-Speed Rail Authority have recently stated that the inflation-adjusted cost will be about $71 billion; outside experts estimate the final cost could be $93 billion or more.
A ballot measure recently submitted for the 2016 election would redirect the remaining $8 billion in high-speed rail bond funds toward building new surface and groundwater storage. This would set priorities by water experts and not politicians. The measure would add a new section to the California Constitution, making drinking water and irrigation the primary beneficial water use ahead of all other needs. The measure would also dedicate $2.7 billion of unspent water bond funds to local surface water and groundwater projects, including water treatment facilities and injection plants needed for above ground and in ground storage of clean, drinkable water.
We are all expecting this year’s projected El Niño to bring drought relief, yet most of the rain we will receive can’t be captured and will end up in the ocean. Throughout the state many cities need expensive projects to meet federal and state mandates to capture, treat and recycle storm water runoff. But neither Congress nor the Legislature appropriated funds to pay for these projects that will cost billions.
Funds from Prop 1A could provide a clear path for funding these important storm water and groundwater recycling projects, and could do so without a penny of new taxes or borrowing by the state. Given our state’s water crisis, it’s time for voters to demand that state government make water storage and infrastructure development a priority over the Bullet Train or any other social program because we can live without a commuter train between LA and SF with many stops between, while we cannot live without viable water.
The High Desert has been exemplary in utilizing our aquifers for ground water storage, though the State does not recognize that capacity in the current water mandate.
November 12, 2014: Disgracing the Veteran
We ask so much of military members and their families and with 1.9 million veterans in California out of 21 million nationwide, we have the largest population in our state. Veterans know they have comrades-in-arms but there are times that the American public gets wrapped up in their own goals and objectives that we forget to acknowledge their service to freedom and in protecting not only that freedom but the constitution and the rights within that precious document.
The disgrace I mention in the title of today’s column is not the lack of support decades ago when many of today’s veterans returned home from Vietnam, but more so the lack of support nationwide of watching their back as life moves forward. Too often, they have been ill-served by the Department of Veterans Affairs, waiting too long for care that is lacking. Older veterans often need physical care and emotional care that is delayed through bureaucracy and misunderstanding.
Today, younger veterans require more complicated care. Field medicine is far more effective than it has been in past wars and people who might have died in battle are rescued, only to face a lifetime of struggle with serious wounds, seen and unseen. It is also estimated that more than 300,000 veterans are homeless each night, a true national disgrace.
I ask you, how do we thank those men and women who protect the Americans daily, and who have been grievously wounded or lost forever? I believe the answer is we can thank them by keeping intact the ideals for which veterans fought. We can thank veterans by registering to vote and casting ballots. Voting is the most eloquent of tributes, yet it’s a duty too many find to be inconvenient or unimportant. And though voter registration is a fraction of the total population who could register to vote, the actual voter count is dismally less. We don’t have to look far to see that, just look at the Tri-Community and the fact that about 25% of those who could vote are registered and the last PPHCSD election just a few days ago was won with numbers in the 400’s, while in Phelan and Pinon Hills there are approximately 8,000 registered.
We can thank them by giving the best possible care and not subjecting them to political maneuvering. We shouldn’t cheapen their service with political maneuvers and fiscal cutbacks and omnipotent disrespect that has been revealed within the Department of Veteran Affairs, Congress, the State and local services.
From the days of the Revolutionary War to today, our military has been the line of defense which enables us to have the freedoms and safety we take for granted. Let’s make sure we keep an eye out for those fellow American’s and foreigners who stood forth, and thank them not just with words and thoughts one day a year but though our embrace every day of the year.
Keeping eyes open
Liberals often ask: “Why does the United States have troops around the world?” Or, “Why are we always involved in wars around the world?” Two good questions with a thousand prospective answers. Here are the ones I subscribe to.
Throughout history, defense partnerships were a natural and normal way of protecting yourself from predators, both wildlife and human. Wildlife may attack due to hunger, but man does it for ownership. Human predators want to own your land, resources, territory and freedoms.
When this country was founded we had the French and Spanish helping us and in our embryonic years, they were our peacekeepers. In WWI and WWII, we were partners with “allies” to defend the borders and sovereigncy of our European and Asian friends from the aggression of a predator seeking the aforementioned goals. During these wars we realized that by helping to defend other countries, we are defending our own from the expansion of predators and their realm. After WWII, we maintained our allegiance with friendly nations, sometimes choosing the lessor of two evils, but none the less for an overall security. We also had the fiscal base to maintain a worldwide presence, that when a situation arises we could quickly respond. When we maintain a strong military, predators stay at bay because they know that we will respond quickly.
Our military strength and presence varies from president to president and in direct result have seen predators gaining when we are weak and weakening when we are strong. Today our military is relatively small, but high tech. In situations where a natural disaster happens, we can send manpower to help restore and stabilize in a humanitarian way, while technology can only observe.
In the past two decades we have seen China grow economically, aggressively buying or controlling mineral rights of other nations and developing the largest military in the world. They have alliances with North Korea, Iran and many So America nations and at this time it is the technology that keeps them at bay.
You don’t hear about it in American news much but China has been bullying the nations along the South China Sea for mineral rights and oil deposits not currently being tapped into. China and the Philippines have been in a dispute over islands that both express a claim to yet the Philippines have possessed for decades. China is currently building a military base with an airport on one of the islands in contempt of the smaller nation. Though the Philippines has turned to the USA for support, we have not done so and under Obama it is doubtful that will happen. In my perspective when China feels confident with their gain on our technology, if we do not have sufficient manpower to respond quickly, we may see Asia become China’s possession with Iran and North Korea the gatekeepers.
Newsom verses Second Amendment Rights
During a Press Conference outside San Francisco’s 101 California St. office building, where a mass shooting took place in 1993. Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom took aim at gun ownership and Second Amendment rights as he brought forward a State Initiative to further control and limit gun ownership. The proposed initiative is co-authored by the law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and incorporates provisions that have stalled in the Legislature or have been vetoed by Gov. Brown.
In the 2007 case DC vs. Heller, the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of Heller stating in their decision that The Constitution doesn’t grant or create rights; it recognizes and protects rights that inherently exist. This is why the Founders used the word “unalienable” previously in the Declaration of Independence; these rights cannot be created or taken away, adding the Second Amendment “codified a pre-existing right. The very text of the Second Amendment implicitly recognizes the pre-existence of the right and declares only that it “shall not be infringed ... this is not a right granted by the Constitution.
The Court explained: The use of the word “militia” has created some confusion in modern times, because we don’t understand the language as it was used at the time the Constitution was written. However, the Supreme Court states in context, “it was clearly an individual right.” The operative clause of the Second Amendment is “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed,” which is used three times in the Bill of Rights. The Court explains that “All three of these instances unambiguously refer to individual rights, not ‘collective’ rights, or rights that may be exercised only through participation in some corporate body,” adding “nowhere else in the Constitution does a ‘right’ attributed to “the people” refer to anything other than an individual right.”
Some say that the only legitimate purpose of owning a gun is for hunting and nothing else but the Supreme Courts stated, “the core lawful purpose [is] self-defense,” explaining the Founders “understood the right to enable individuals to defend themselves ... the ‘right of self-preservation’ as permitting a citizen to ‘repel force by force’ when ‘the intervention of society in his behalf, may be too late to prevent an injury’. They conclude, “The inherent right of self-defense has been central to the Second Amendment right.”
Maybe Newsom needs a copy of the US Constitution.
October 15, 2015: Democrat Debate
A true dog and pony show the Democrat debate was. Milk toast in nature with Hillary Clinton not being challenged for her failure as a Secretary of State with Benghazi and her email controversy, being benched by the opponents. At one time Bernie Sanders stating that he was tired of hearing about Clinton’s emails, which was probably a highlight of the so called debate..
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee and former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb only took up space and most comments came from Clinton and Sanders, with Clinton being the obviously more polished politician. With soft balls being launched by Master of Ceremony Anderson Cooper the boring debate was more of an info commercial for Clinton. The only true potential challenge to Clinton’s nomination as the Democrat Party’s nod is Joe Biden and he sat on the sidelines still considering if he should join the run, thus he was not a participant in the Debate.
Hillary touted that she would be proud to be the first woman to be an American President and it is clear that will be one of her themes. I find that offensive solely because it should not matter what the gender or color or any physical aspect of a candidate, electing a president should be based upon principals, ability to discern, ability to be as unbiased as possible and the ability to make hard choices.
From the Democrat Party there will not be any new ideas and the term SOS will be applicable. There is a broader scope of how to move the country forward from the Republicans and let’s face it Hillary will be the Democrat candidate and the Republican candidate has yet to surface however Trump still has the lead yet that lead is diminishing.
The vase number of Americans tends to be fiscal conservative with a tone of social active in wanting to give a hand up. Most Americans have had a hand up from time to time but unfortunately most Americans feel that most if not all Federal Representatives are corrupt, self-serving and not representing them. Thus most Americans who can vote choose to succumb to their apathy and focus on fixing their own lives hoping not to have too much government intrusion.
This gives an open opportunity for a Democrat candidate to win the position of President or Federal Representative from the welfare voters who need social programs to support their lifestyle.
I know several people from foreign lands that have been successful in our country. With little exception they all have conservative values because they sought hand ups and not hand outs.
So if the Republicans want to have the White House they better get their stuff together soon and find another way to make a contract with America.
Right to Die
Last Monday Gov Jerry Brown signed into law ABx2 15 the ‘Right to Die’ legislation that makes California the fifth state to recognize a right to die for terminally ill patients. Brown wrote a letter to the members of the Assembly and in that letter he writes, “ABx2 15 is not an ordinary bill because it deals with life and death. The crux of the matter is whether the State of California should continue to make it a crime for a dying person to end his life, no matter how great his pain or suffering.” He also mentions that he took both sides of the issue seriously with opposition coming from doctors, religious leaders and others, while also considering support coming from Brittany Maynard’s (the 29-year old Californian who moved to Oregon to legally end her suffering due to brain cancer) family, Archbishop Desmond Tutu doctors and religious leaders who have voiced concerns from both sides of the issue. He concluded his letter stating, “I do not know what I would do if I were dying in prolonged and excruciating pain. I am certain, however, that it would be a comfort to be able to consider the options afforded by this bill. And I wouldn’t deny that right to others.”
In a video recorded a few days before Maynard took life-ending drugs, she told legislators that the terminally ill should not have to “leave their home and community for peace of mind, to escape suffering and to plan for a gentle death.” Her family attended the legislative debates throughout the year and her mother testified in committee hearings.
The bill was voted 43-34 the previous Wednesday before it was sent to the Governor. It requires that the patient be physically capable of taking the medication unassisted, that two doctors approve it, that the patient submits several written requests and that there be two witnesses, one not being a family member. ABx2 will expire in 10 years giving the legislature a chance to reconsider.
I don’t see this heading to a Soylent Green ending where the government controlled population by giving a lethal drug to the elderly. This is one time I agree with Gov Brown and I am glad I was not the person to make such a serious choice to sign the legislation. I don’t agree with abortion because the victim is incapable of making the choice. I believe in the Death Penalty because the perpetrator made the choice to murder and I agree with this law because it gives an option, not a mandate. For those who use the religious debate against this, let it be between the victim of the pain and suffering and God.
You won’t be bored this weekend
This Saturday, Oct 3 will be an eventful day for Jeep enthusiasts, chili cook-off and music fans, and beer tasters. The challenge comes from time management and location as the Willy and Jeep Day will be on Park Dr in Wrightwood starting at 9am and concluding at 2pm. Hosted by the West Coast Willy Club, the event showcases a wide variety of Jeeps and Willys in a mixture of classic, modern and modified.
From 11am-2pm in the Wrightwood Community Building, the center transforms into a Salsa Tasting Contest where entries from local residents are judged by their peers for flavor with a dash of hot peppers. Following the Salsa Tasting at noon the peers will venture outside and participate in the tasting of chili at the Wrightwood Chili Cook-off. There will be a beer booth featuring Budweiser as a thirst quencher along with non-alcohol refreshments. Both the Salsa Tasting and the Chili Cook-off are Wrightwood Chamber of Commerce events with proceeds going to the chamber for future events and community activities.
From Noon-5pm the Phelan Pinon Hills Community Services District is holding their first Fall Festival featuring a craft beer tasting event at the Phelan Park. Featured brewers are: The Wine Seller, Tap It Brewing Co., Desert Barn Brewery, Oak Hills Brewery, Inland Empire Brewing Co., Bear Valley Hydroponics and Home Brewing, High Desert Home Brewers Anonymous (brewing club), Off the Grid Brewing, Brew Crew, Fermentrix and more. The Veteran of Foreign Wars will be selling a variety of foods and Busy Bee Bakery will sell pretzels, all to the tune of local band, The Lillies and local performer Peter Rodriguez. This is a fundraiser with a price of $30 per ticket that entitles you to a wristband and of course to sample the beer you will need to show ID. Tickets are sold at the Bear Valley Hydroponics and Home Brewing in Hesperia and the PPHCSD office at the Phelan Park and of course you can buy a ticket at the event, there is a limit of 500 tickets. I just want to say that all four of these events can be enjoyed and fill your day with fun, entertainment and good food/refreshments with friends and family.
As the end of the year approaches, a reminder for Halloween both the Phelan and Wrightwood Chambers organize local Trick or Treats within the business districts of the two communities. On Black Friday, after Thanksgiving, the Wrightwood Shop at Home is kicked off featuring local Wrightwood businesses, Santa and his bride, games and contests and the lighting of the tree at the top of Park Dr. Also note that the Phelan Chamber will start their Angel Tree as an outreach to local families.
Poor strategy concerning Syria
This week we read about how Iran has made a fool out of the UN inspectors by not allowing the inspectors to do their job in investigating whether Iran had a nuclear weapons program prior to the grievously poor nuclear agreement that Obama and Kerry have crafted. Iran this week allowed limited access to inspectors at a military base that is the core of the investigation and rather than allowing the inspectors to do their job, Iran provided their own samples and information to these inspectors, a true disregard of the agreement they crafted with Obama.
Also this week we are told of a cooperative team between Russia and Iran to assist Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in regaining control of his country through their combined military and economic support. Following the outbreak of the Syrian uprising in 2011, Obama discarded the policy of “constructive engagement” with the regime and called on Assad to “step aside” drawing a line in the sand for the world to see. Yet as the conflict progressed and Obama decided not to decisively arm the rebels or enforce his line on regime chemical attacks, jihadists such as ISIS and al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra quickly filled opposition-controlled areas of Syria, providing strategic depth for offensives back into Iraq.
We performed a dog and pony show of bombing missions and an alliance with our Mid-East partners to bring ISIS to their knees in response to ISIS beheading journalists and others at their own will and disregard of any opposition. This was because they already know Obama to be a wimp and they had the support politically, economically and militarily of Al-Qaeda, though Al-Qaeda seems to have lost control of this rabid group.
With al-Assad’s regime in serious economic and military trouble Russia and Iran will come to his aid fully knowing that Obama will do nothing to stop them, thus having the ability to start controlling the civil war by squashing the citizen based rebels while Obama and the UN watch. It is easy to see that ISIS will resist and continue to play their strategy but with Al-Qaeda being less supportive and Iran feeling less love for ISIS they will probably make a deal with al-Assad to control the area that borders Iraq, thus keeping their multi-national team stronger and having a better chance to topple Iraq or at least have a Syrian-Iraq based influence in world terrorism.
I don’t have a concern with Obama increasing the number of Syrian people coming to us as political refugees, but I do have a concern that this all could have been avoided if Obama acted like a world leader and an American leader in these types of activities.
A moderate legislature has shown its effect
For several years the State legislature has been extremely uneven, not just through political party bias but through political ideology. The California voter may have added a few Republicans to the legislature but also enhanced a balance by electing more ‘moderate’ Democrats. The nearly all conservative Republicans sprinkled with a few moderates have been able to align themselves with the moderates of the Democrat party and a small force of Independents to get closer to an even field of representation.
This has become evident in the language of bills passed this year. A prime example is Senate Bill 350. This was a core piece of legislation in a high-stakes climate change package developed by the liberals and Governor Brown and Senate President Pro-Tem Kevin de Leon (D) of Los Angeles. The bill went through the Senate side with moderate and Republican resistance and it was stripped of language requiring a 50 percent reduction in petroleum use (gas and diesel) in vehicles by 2030 prior to going to the Assembly. Once in the Assembly, though I felt it should have just died in committee, it did pass through a slight margin, a total surprise to the liberals who from the beginning felt it would pass easily challenged solely by the minority party.
Assemblyman Adam Gray stated, “Certain people tried to tell a story that this bill was about the oil producers,” adding, “I think the real story is people having independent voices and standing up for their district.”
The same moderates helped to modify or block several bills that died in committee. Last month, the Assembly Appropriations Committee annoyed labor groups and liberals by refusing to advance minimum wage legislation. The bill, Senate Bill 3 would have hiked the state’s minimum wage to $11 per hour in 2016, $13 in 2017 and then index minimum wage to inflation starting in 2019.
The Senate passed two bills about smoking; the first was to increase the minimum age to buy smoking products, including e-cigarettes, to 21. The second was to regulate e-cigarettes, like tobacco products, the assembly moderates extinguished the flame on both.
The fear of the liberals in power and a good example of what happens when one party or ideology has too much power is exemplified with Senate Resolution 39, authored by Sen. Isadore Hall, which denounces Donald Trump. This resolution is a clear misuse of government time and public funds.
Though it will be the governor’s quill that passes nearly 1,000 bills into law this year, it is evident that a significant number of those bills were modified from liberal format to moderate format. Though the Democrats still hold a majority in both houses, the liberal faction won’t be able to ignore the voice of the people as long as a stable force of moderate Democrats and Republicans can keep
Black Lives Matter, what is going on here?
The term “Black Lives Matter” came from Alicia Garza as a social media slogan in response to the Trayvon Martin murder trial in 2012. She already had fellowship from Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi through work with the organization ‘Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity (BOLD). When Tometi placed hash tag ‘#’ before the slogan, #BlackLivesMatter was born.
All three women have backgrounds as community organizers, Garza as the Special Projects Director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance, Cullors has been an activist since an early age and graduated from UCLA with a degree in religion and philosophy, and Tometi brought her activist profile from Nigeria in 1983 and is the executive director of Black Alliance for Just Immigration.
Since the acquittal of George Zimmerman of the murder of Trayvon Martin, (which I personally feel was BS and Zimmerman is guilty), the trio has gained momentum with their organization, which was also fueled through the Michael Brown situation in Ferguson, Missouri and the Eric Garner situation in New York City. Thus #BlackLivesMatter has grown within the inner cities black culture and due to the trio’s link to the Canary Islands, Nigeria, Ghana, and parts of Canada it is considered an international black human rights organization.
The organization has taken the concept of the 1960’s Civil Rights movement and applied it to their anti-police mindset giving the impression that they are for all civil rights and the mainstream media considers them the new civil rights organization. Yet with a blend of Martin Luther King’s peaceful methods of protest and Bobby Seale’s Black Panther Party violent nature, in my opinion this new organization is growing more confident and restless through a heavy anti-white and anti-police mindset.
Not yet to the radical point of the Black Panthers, the growth of #BlackLivesMatter seems to be heading in that direction. Definitely falling further and further away from true civil rights for all that was the theme of King’s marches and rallies, this organization has gained stature for being behind all the Ferguson violent protests and carving a path throughout the nation that shows their own racial prejudice.
They describe themselves as a “unique contribution that goes beyond extrajudicial killings of black people by police and vigilantes” and that “Black Lives Matter affirms the lives of black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, black undocumented folks, folks of records, women and all black lives along the gender spectrum.” They have met with President Obama and other prominent leaders to demand an end to what they view as racial profiling, police brutality, mass incarceration of African-Americans and the militarization of many U.S. police departments.
It appears they are gaining some success in their venture of widening the racial gap and the gap with law enforcement through the acceptance from Obama and this week’s acceptance within the Democrat Party. I am fearful that through this next presidential election the bridge of equality from the cornerstone of Martin Luther King will be washed away and true equality of all Americans will take a giant step backwards.
September In Los Angeles
Just as New York City scored a major cultural advantage with the opening of the expansive new Whitney Museum of Art, Los Angeles will be catapulted into the international Art world at three venues in September. In the span of one week beginning on September 13, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) hosts a Frank Gehry retrospective, NYC gallery owner Michele Maccarone opens her second venue in Downtown L.A, and The Broad Museum opens on Bunker Hill. If being an art maven results in hunger pangs, the venerable Clifton’s Cafeteria also reopens that week Downtown.
On September 13, LACMA opens the Frank Gehry exhibition featuring 200 drawings and more than 65 scale models, many of which have never been seen by the general public. Admission is free to those under 17 years of age, and members. Adult tickets are $15.00 and can be purchased at www.lacma.org.
Maccarone Los Angeles opens on September 19 at 300 South Mission Road in Downtown Los Angeles. The 50,000 square foot gallery with a vacant lot for outdoor sculpture, features edgy and funky contemporary art that put the West Village gallery on the radar of international art collectors. Admission is free. Call (917) 371-5023 for information.
Bigger is not necessarily better and the new Broad Museum on Bunker Hill represents a small jewel box of a museum similar in size to the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) across the street. As with MOCA, which has 90 percent of the permanent collection in storage, The Broad will rotate art from its five story renovated telephone-switching building in Santa Monica, where the Eli Broad Family Foundation has more than 2,000 artworks displayed privately for museum groups, curators and scholars.
The new museum at 221 South Grand Avenue opens on September 20 and is an architectural wonder where admission is free. Call (213) 232-6200 for information.
After being closed for four years and a $10 million renovation, Clifton’s Cafeteria at 648 South Broadway in Downtown Los Angeles will reopen on September 17. The four story restaurant with interior motifs inspired by the Santa Cruz Mountains has a large stone waterfall, a huge replica of a hollow 40 foot redwood tree, which functions as a fireplace in the center of a three story atrium. The second floor features a neighborhood bar, the third floor has a Gothic bar, and the fourth floor at the tree tops is also a bar.
The 50,000 square foot Clifton’s was renovated by Andrew Meieran, owner of the Edison Night Club- also located Downtown.
For world-class art and the most exotic restaurant of yesteryear, September is the month for Los Angeles.
A record number of viewers tuned in to watch the Republican debate with the top 10 candidates fielding questions. It is highly evident that if Donald Trump was not part of the show, the debate would have fallen to low viewership such as was witnessed in 2012.
Prior to the debate, viewers were given a show that involved the other seven candidates who did not make the top ten list, and for Fox News this was more frosting on the cake. In that show Carly Fiorina took command of the situation and was able to gain seven poll points, now qualifying for a spot in the next top ten list, while candidates such as Texas Governor Perry will probably drop out because he is out of money and received dismal poll status.
Yet when the Top Ten show began it was apparent that Fox News commentators were focused on making Trump flinch thus launching a popularity decline. The vast majority of questions to the candidates were focused on Trump or a reaction from him, rather than to the field at large. Thus the other candidates were responding to Trump, creating a 9 to 1 discussion rather than a debate.
When the show was over, Trump gained in every political poll, especially in the target polls of the upcoming state caucuses and primaries. The lock step Republicans are furious that Trump is so popular with the average Republican voter and are trying to call him a RINO or a Democrat plant or a number of other names, resulting in Trump aligning himself with the most popular Republican President, Ronald Reagan, who was also a Democrat turned Republican.
Trump’s tactlessness is igniting the average American to the dismay of Democrats and Republican partyline supporters. Yet the same demeanor is igniting the populous because Trump is often saying things and showing resistance to the political party status quo and not giving into pressure to be more in alignment with party methods.
He showed this during the debate as he took jab after jab from the other candidates and the moderators, yet kept his demeanor and stance without giving an inch of ground. It is inarguable that Trump has hit the Republican party leadership between the eyes and his popularity growth is on the Democrats’ radar. Something wise in his bag of tricks is his openness to keeping a third party option open, which is popular to the largest growing segment of voters, “the Independents,” who have become somewhere between 20 and 25% of registered voters turning away from the twin political party pillars.
Some real questions to be answered are: 1. Will Trump continue to grow in popularity? 2. Will he change the profile of the campaign of both political parties? 3. If he wins caucuses and primaries, will the traditional political machine within the Republicans let him be the party’s candidate? 4. If he does get the chance to run in the election, will he win?
Before I conclude my diatribe, I think that Fiorina as Trump’s VP would give Hillary a run for her money, regardless of who Hillary takes as her VP.
08/6/15: Drones and Fires
Recently we have heard about how recreational drones have interfered with fire service at the Lake Fire in the San Bernardino national Forest last June, the Mills Fire on June 28 in Yucaipa and most recently the North Fire in Oak Hills/Phelan area.
Most people think of drones as those long distance military unmanned planes that have a high quality camera, guns and missiles and have a wing span of 30-40 ft. Some unarmed drones are being used for law enforcement or as spotter vehicles by fire services, and some are used in advertising. Transition Habit Conservancy has been using a small high-end recreation type drone to observe conservation land they manage or own.
People don’t think about the recreation drones that use similar technology of radio-controlled guidance, can fit in the trunk of a car, and have a much smaller flight radius. You can buy a recreation drone for as little as $50 at Wal-Mart or Target or you can spend thousands of dollars on high-end recreation drones with a 15 mile radius, GPS, fly hundreds of feet high, and have High Definition cameras or video equipment.
If these drones are used by pilots to observe these fires and create interference for firefighting aircraft or any firefighter activities, I share the concerns that they can hamper intentionally or unintentionally the extinguishing of the fire, and more so the safety of the firefighters and/or equipment. I hope to never hear or read about an aircraft sucking a drone into its engine or having any other unsafe thing happen, plus just having a drone buzzing about can be distracting like having a fly buzzing around you.
I know that recreation drones cannot fly within 15 miles of the Capital or White House in Washington DC, heck I have been there and even my cell phone mapping system is blocked. There are other areas throughout the country that government or military sites block these activities. What I don’t know is if there are mobile ways to block these activities during fires or sensitive law enforcement activities that don’t interfere with vital radio communication.
In response to these drone activities at the aforementioned fires, the County has put out a reward of $25,000 per fire for information leading to the arrest and conviction of drone pilots that purposely halt firefighting aircraft. There is also pending state legislation SB 167 that would implement fines and possible imprisonment for these activities.
Though I do not participate in the recreation, in recent months recreation drones have buzzed traffic along Hwy 138 and I-15 and in some cases have created distractions. It appears that the pilots are located in the forest areas around that location, such as the Mormon Rocks or the Baldy Mesa OHV staging area.
I question if the Board of Supervisors or the legislature has done true research on this issue, or are they just acting through emotional response?
Serving Wrightwood, Phelan, Pinon HIlls and West Cajon Valley Since 1961