Now that the Republicans have shot themselves in the foot for primarily moving too fare to the right it looks now like it’s up to the Independents, moderate Republicans (if any still exist), watchdog groups and newspapers to check the balance of power that has been given to Democrat legislators and their overlords, the public unions, in a supermajority. Supermajority sounds like code for “power corrupts – absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
According to a recent Santa Rosa Press Democrat article Independents are the fastest growing voter block in California at about 22% compared to 30% Republican and 43% Democrat. Most Independent are, according to political consultant Mark Mellman, “closet partisan” center left or right. I believe most Independents are fiscal conservatives and social liberals. They can’t stand the continued waste and mismanagement in all levels of government but are terrified of the draconian way the current Republican Party governs.
I’m sure there exists some form of Independent political organizations but I would say that most Independents wouldn’t join such groups because it kind of defeats the purpose of being independent. One thing I’ve notice about the independents that I know is that they are very politically knowledgeable and are, if fact, kind of political “wonks” that love to find and expose elected official malfeasance and hypocrisy.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could just say, “we elected you, we trust you, and we have to work so we don’t have time to watch you but we know you won’t screw us.” Sadly, that’s not the case. The Republicans mistook morality for ideology and got kicked out of office but the Democrats have a shaky moral history of their own. The morality I’m talking about here is not about the bedroom it’s the morality that exist when one person puts their trust in another and the trusting person not only gets betrayed but also laughed at.
Where was the morality when back in 2002 when the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors enacted measures that have now increased pension costs by over 400 percent that initiated a Grand Jury to concluded that these pension increases were approved in a manner that did not comply with the law in an obvious attempt to dupe voters? In a September 2012 PD article on the subject Brett Wilkinson wrote “Zane and other county leaders, nevertheless, were unified in defending the legality of the enhanced pensions. Trying to roll them back would be a costly lost cause.” Many public sector jobs now pay more than similar private sector jobs and they are guaranteed. Where’s the morality in that?
The public employee retirement systems in Contra Costa, Alameda and Merced counties plan to reduce pension spiking starting Jan. 1 to comply with a new law Gov. Jerry Brown signed in September. Workers have vowed to sue (PD – 11/7/12 “Lawsuit certain over right to spike”). Since when did voters say it was okay for a public employee to roll their unused sick, vacation and car allowance pay into a life-time annuity which boost retirement pay up as much as 24%. Where’s the morality in that?
And how about our new Congressman Jared Huffman as reported by Chris Coursey (PD – 10/29/12 “Vote Yes, No, Maybe or Later’) “Or, you may have been surprised to find out that Assemblyman Jared Huffman missed 144 votes this year in the Assembly, only to add his vote to the record after each of those issues was decided. Where’s the morality in that and for that matter leadership?
I could go on but I have to get back to work. Independents we need you to stay vigilant.
by Michael Haran
Healdsburg Tribune Commentary 11/16/2012
After reading Shonnie Brown’s article about Joel and Renee Kiff I just have to comment on what Joel Kiff means to me. We moved to Healdsburg in September of 2006. I was helping out with the HFM annual pumpkin race when someone called my name. I turn to see an older gentleman who I didn’t recognize staring at me. I took a closer look and then said “Mr. Kiff?” He gave me a broad smile as I was coming out of my initial shock. It was not only fifty years since I had seen him how could he not only remember me but also recognize me after having taught hundreds if not thousands of students.
Joel Kiff was my algebra teacher and football/track coach at Marin Catholic High school from 1962 to 1965. I am the oldest boy in what was a very dysfunctional family of ten kids. Back then ADD was treated with corporal punishment and I became chubby using food to compensate for my lack of proper family support. I couldn’t even make the freshman basketball team I was so fat.
My grades were terrible and I was in danger of becoming one of the 36 boys in my class that either left the school or were kicked out. Most teachers didn’t have the time or inclination to work with marginal students. I remember Joel as one of the few teachers I had who would put in extra time with a failing student. I think it was more his calm demeanor and personal attention that had the biggest impact on me. Under his instruction the light went on and I “got it.” It was such a contrast from my family life and other teachers at the school.
Back in those days Catholic school football teams were hardly the juggernauts that they are today. We had 300 boys compared to the public school’s 1000. We consistently got trounced by the much bigger public schools. I remember Joel telling us that life isn’t necessarily about winning it’s about trying and the sheer joy of overcoming the odds against you. It made the game so much more fun for us even in losing. But you know what, we started winning a few games and it’s something I’ll never forget.
He talked to us about physical conditioning and how it was more than just getting in shape to play sports. He explained that good physical conditioning was important for a good life and that being in shape helps with the concentration you need to get good grades. To this day I can’t be sure that Joel’s attention, insights and kindness to me are what allowed me to go on and play for a USAF command basketball team or get a business degree from SSU but I think it was.
Joel and Renee have meant a lot to our Healdsburg community. Joel is in failing health now so whenever I see him I try to think of the high school experiences that we shared as student – teacher/coach and reminisce. I you know Joel you might want to send him a card. Thanks, Joel. This is what you mean to me.
Michael Haran is a resident of Healdsburg
A Bunch of Malarkey in our Own Backyard
By Michael Haran
Published Healdsburg Tribune 11/01/2012
Regarding Mel Amato’s recent Letter to the Editor (I can read a Thesaurus 1018/12) Mr. Amato’s should look up the word “malarkey.” How stupid does he think people are? Either he is a one percenter, a lapdog for the rich or just loves seeing his name in print. I am not going to comment on his Thesaurus BS and focus on the facts.
He like every other conservative extremist in this country likes to twist the facts to pander to likeminded ignorant and prejudiced people. The reason the deficit has increased over the past four years is because our economy is working through the worst recession since the Great Depression. The deficit had to rise to help people and businesses get through these tough times on shrinking tax revenues. When Obama took office the economy was in a free fall. His administration implemented a stimulus package which helped stop the slide in the summer of 2009. In retrospect no one knew just how bad this recession really was and that the stimulus package was actually too small. Obama has since tried several times to get a jobs stimulation package through congress but has been stymied by congress at every turn. They have no intention of trying to stimulate the economy they only want the “black” man out of the “white” house.
Mr. Amato would be doing the local community a great service is he would recalculate his figures from the summer of 2009 forward. The reason food stamp dependency is up is also a result of the crashed economy. The unemployment rate has improved considerably since the bottom of the recession.
Another reason the recession has lasted so long is because of the housing market. Traditionally the U.S. has been lead out of recessions by housing. This time, because of the largest building boom the world has ever seen and subsequent crash, it has taken longer to get out of the mess the previous administration got us into with deregulation and two unfunded wars which benefited only the U.S. military industrial complex.
The current administration has steered us through the hard times. The economy appears to be improving. Consumer debt is the lowest in six years. The housing market looks like it’s healing with modest price increases, lower foreclosures and short sales, increased builder confidents and higher traffic to new home subdivisions. Not only does Romney have no real plan to further simulate the economy if he gets elected guess who’s going to take the credit for the improving economy.
As the president said Romney has no “five point plan” his only focus is to pander to the wealthy. The richest four hundred families in the U.S. saw their wealth increase by over four hundred percent over the past 10 years while the middle class has lost over two trillion dollars in the past three years – that’s trillion as in trillion! And if Romney gets elected the Republicans will continue to squeeze the middle class to pay for more tax deductions for the rich. This is no way to promote growth. Just look at the Middle East where in most countries the lack of a strong and vibrant middle class has led to stagnation and extremism. Our system of government was set up by our founding fathers to prevent Mr. Amato’s type of ideological extremism.
If Mr. Amato truly believes in what he is saying about adhering to our “founding principles” and turn back “our stampede down the Marxist road” he should send his Social Security and Medicare checks back to the government. And while he’s looking up “malarkey” he should also look up “oligarchy” and “hypocrisy.”