Recent Letters To The Editor – May 3, 2011
An inappropriate ad
I really enjoy your local ads, Kevin.
Not so much the full-page ad from the ICCA (Eye, April 6, page 5) and their ilk who make bank by preying on the elderly and cash-strapped by separating them from their Mercury dimes and pre-’64 Washington quarters at bargain rates.
That’s not why we import the Eye 3,000 miles to Southern Vermont.
Frank Z. is frowning at you from the Afterworld.
Bank of Ruining America
I just deposited $1,100,000 in the Bank of America. That was money that California taxpayers intended for Northern Humboldt High Schools in 2011-2012. It is going to the Bank of America in tax subsidies, instead.
$1,100,000 translates into 20 full-time teaching positions, positions the School Board has been forced to cut. But that’s not all. This year, the State deferred 25 percent of its funding to our schools. That’s $800,000. That so-called deferment is now permanent. Next year’s deferrals are twice that – 45 percent – bringing the total in cuts and deferments for 2011-2012 to $2.7 million!
Northern Humboldt High School District has been drawing on reserves to cover these deferrals, but at the current rate, our reserves will be completely depleted by 2014. And no telling how many more teachers will have to be laid off.
By not paying their fair share of taxes, wealthy corporations are bankrupting our schools. Bank of America, one of the worst offenders, paid no taxes in 2009.
As if that weren’t enough, there’s more: The Humboldt County Consortium of Schools banks at the Bank of America. They have considered moving to a local bank, but are too short staffed by the budget cuts to manage the transition.
The ultimate irony: Bank of America is profiting from the public schools that it is bankrupting.
Dana Silvernale, Boardmember
Northern Humboldt Union High School District
Let that tree be
Dear Linda Rowe, Bonnie Hughes, executive director of Humboldt Bay Housing and Development Corp., and the Board of Directors,
We heard you have plans to top the lovely Elderberry tree outside our building and windows in Anne’s yard [at the Juniper Apartments on Valley East Boulevard].
We hope you will not do this to our only front tree, especially as it is no hindrance to the view for the people in no. 7 (see signatures below). We like the view of the tree both within the building and outside. But Anne was shown an order or a permit to top the tree because it supposedly hinders the view.
Also, this is espeially destructive to Elderberries, acording to one resident, the tubular branches are hollow and can suffer damage from rain and insects.
We have heard that in past years, the tree was just trimmed minimally to stop it from infringing on the building with its outer, seasonal branches. We respectfully request that you not top this tree, for the health of the tree and the benefit of the neighborhood.
The tree is in full blossom just now with all its leaves grown for summer, and flowering. It is known that the least harmful time to prune a tree is during dormancy. We fear if you do this, it could make it diseased, and we like the tree.
Residents of 4854 Valley East Boulevard
Rick A. Schmidt
Jacqueline H. Marshall
The passage of People’s
Hearing that People’s Records is in new hands was a bit of a shock. Even though Ron did his best to consistently stay out of any public associations, entanglements or limelight, I feel I need to publicly thank him:
Ron, for 30 years, it has always been a pleasure to spend time with you. Despite your 30-year attempt to become a genuine curmudgeon you didn’t quite pull it off. Instead, you provided this strange little town with a much needed and much appreciated service – and you did it with integrity, generosity and a sense of humor. Your shop was truly a link between Arcata past and Arcata now. By refusing to change, you managed to keep what was good.
Thanks. You will be missed.
Taxes and patriotism
I take exception to Karen Brooks’ use of the word “patriot” (Eye, April 13) to describe people petitioning for redress of their grief at having to pay taxes. She left the distinct impression that she felt that those who proudly pay their taxes, or who support taxation as a civilized way to move forward, are somehow not patriotic. Many people feel that taxation is a fair and effective way for the people in a representative democracy to secure their rights. We are not unpatriotic! In fact the truth is to the contrary.
The founding parents of our nation were patriots not because of the historic things they gained—sovereignty, democracy, political and religious rights, and, eventually, equality and freedom—but for what they gave—their wealth, their security, their sweat, their blood, and their lives. We still enjoy the gains of the original patriots and of all those subsequent patriots who have sacrificed further to ensure that those gains are not lost. Those gains were, and still are, a legacy for future generations. We all have an obligation as part of the basic social contract of a constitutional democracy to do our part, according to common agreement in a republic, to both honor their sacrifice and continue the bargain: to give now so that later generations will continue to have.
So, support of taxation is patriotic. Patriotism is not necessarily pleasant, like fireworks on the fourth of July. The patriotism of our founders was far from pleasant for them. But patriotism is a kind of loyalty, and patriots do not run to another state or country when the going gets tough, or when marginal profits are threatened by taxation. It is not patriotic to be a tax miser.
There is much more to say about Ms. Brooks’ opinion piece, but in the interest of space, I will just list a few facts and ideas.
• States with lower tax rates have lower per capita income, on average.
• Lower taxes do not equal prosperity. California has historically had a higher tax rate, yet we are the eighth-largest economy in the world. We are near the top in per capita income. Personally, I think this is the best damn state in the best country in the world. Business owners and individuals who feel their burden is too great are free to move to Nevada, South Dakota, or Alabama. Sound like a good move to you? Feel free!
• Higher tax rates are historically associated with winning wars (1860s, 1917-21, 1940s), and with times of economic growth (1950’s, 1960s and 1990s), while lower tax rates are historically associated with recessions and depressions (1840’s, 1930s, 1980s, 2010s)
• Historically, the highest income bracket’s tax rates have ranged from seven percent in 1913 to 94 percent in 1944. Our current rate of 39 percent seems pretty low considering that the richest one percent of us take in over 20 percent of the income—a historic high in spite of the “burden” of taxes.
• If liabilities are unfunded, then raise revenues to fund them. If we stop doing the things that have made us great because they cost money, all our historic progress will be outstripped by nations more willing to invest in themselves and we will become a second-rate country.
• While government does not create wealth directly under our form of government, government does provide the support and infrastructure that makes wealth creation possible: imagine our community, state, and nation without our tax-supported commons. It would be hard to make a buck without security, justice, economic regulation, transportation, and an educated citizenry—just to name a few aspects of the public domain that have made the US and California economic super-engines.
Lastly, crying tyranny in a democracy just means you are a sore loser. A cry of economic hardship from Bayside, Humboldt County is hard to take seriously. If taxes are really killing you, you can always choose to be poor—or move.
Kudos, City Council
Kudos to the Arcata City Council for voting 4 to 1 to say, “F… You” to Richard Salzman’s request to tweak the panhandling ordinance by removing the provision prohibiting icky people from asking for money around businesses and bus stops. Apparently the council got the go-ahead from Nancy Diamond, the city attorney, that the ordinance will withstand the right-wing U.S. Supreme Court standards; and, that is good enough for Arcata.
I assume the same reasoning is why we have no ordinance restricting the use of plastic bags, because the big-business-friendly state legislature turned it down statewide. Why should we lead or follow progressive cities like Berkeley, Santa Monica or San Francisco; they are so ’90s.
Keep it up City Council. I’d hate to think you were starting to turn left again. The next thing you know we’d have people like Dave Meserve and Paul Pitino on the council teaming up with Shane “Shameless” Brinton (the dissenting vote on the panhandling ordinance) passing laws that protect the environment, everyday people and human rights.
May I ask you who your heroes are?
My heroes tend to be those persons who have been willing to speak truth to the ruling elite.Many of whom have been imprisoned and/or assassinated for doing so.
Such as: Socrates, Jesus, Shakespeare, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Thoreau, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Howard Zinn, Vandana Shiva, Noam Chomsky, Amy Goodman, etc….
Do you think any of us would be here now- or even want to be-without the intelligently courageous souls who have persisted in speaking out in promoting truth and justice for all?!?
Two of these souls are living right here within our community. They are Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap and David Cobb, co-creators of Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County. Please go to duhc.com to discover the efforts being put forth within this community – and beyond – to create a world for those of us looking to satisfy our basic needs without destroying that which sustains us.
So… last month, when I received an e-mail from Democracy Unlimited calling for an emergency community meeting, I and about a hundred others took ourselves to the Labor Temple in Eureka to see what we could possibly do to help. Kaitlin led us into a stimulating community dialogue.
The next day a couple of dozen of us returned to participate in an “ Artful Activism” workshop presented by Bill Moyer who is executive director of the Backbone Campaign. This is another website to investigate how folks are finding innovative, peaceful ways to interrupt the “machine” (backbone campaign.org).
By the end of the day we decided on an action, to be held on April 15 (Tax Day), to expose the fact that Bank of America is a tax dodger.
We got together a few more times at Democracy Unlimited headquarters in Eureka to create an action to be performed in the lobbies of a Bank of America in Eureka, and in Arcata. Iris and Greg, Democracy Unlimited’s 2011 interns, helped us condense our ideas into a three minute, eight second skit.
We took some of our ideas from U.S. Uncut, which in the past couple of months has initiated hundreds of of similar events across the country.
Usuncut.org is an enormously successful grassroots movement that uses online social networking tools to coordinate direct action against corporate tax avoidance and public service cuts.
More and more of us are tuning into the fact that two thirds of U.S.corporations have been able to squirm their way out of paying any federal income tax whatsoever.
At the same time we are being told that we must bear devastating budget cuts that jeopardize our very lives.
It was decided that we would come into the banks wearing sandwich-board signs depicting who we were representing on the front ( i.e.,child, pregnant woman, student, teacher, elderly, safety personnel, etc.,) while on the back we listed the facts of the billions of dollars being cut from the agencies that benefit We the People.
At noon on April 1h we boldly walked into the Bank of America at Henderson Center (and into the Bank of America in Arcata at 5 p.m). I had volunteered to take on the role of narrator, after a big “Hello,” my first sentence was, “We are here today to shine awareness on the fact that while we all pay our fair share of taxes, Bank of America – America’s largest bank and fifth largest corporation – pays absolutely ZERO in federal income tax!”
I point out that we taxpayers – without our consent- bestowed $45 billion in bailout money on Bank of America in ’08 and ’09. And that they have funneled their billions of dollars of profits into foreign tax havens.
I ended my narrative with, “ In expressing our outrage at being forced to prop up institutions who do us harm, we have decided to give our tax dollars directly to the Bank of America.”
At this point all the others drop the pretend heavy bags of money they have been shouldering, onto the bank’s desks and chairs. As we are leaving I proclaim, “But don’t expect any of our money next year! “And we all chant, “ B of A, if YOU pay, it would make our day!”
We want all local bank employees to know that we feel that we are speaking for you too and have no wish you to cause you to feel badly.
At present most of us are being held hostage within a corrupt system. Together we can bring it down.
Because we needed to keep this action a secret we filmed it ourselves. Be on the lookout for a video link posted on the DUHC website. I hope you will join me in further “ Artful Activism.”
So I was walking home today from Farmers’ Market and as I walked past the Arcata Community Center I saw a frightful thing! Beer cans, plastic cups, root beer cans (really), cigarette butts as far as the eye could see and all other sorts of revelry-induced garbage ALL OVER THE GROUND. In the bushes, in the street, on the sidewalk… everywhere.
I stopped to consider what might have caused such a mess so close to a public playground and the Community Center of all places and then I remembered: The Baykeeper’s Earth Day Bash was last night!
According to their mission statement, “Humboldt Baykeeper was launched in October, 2004 to safeguard our coastal resources for the health, enjoyment and economic strength of the Humboldt Bay community through education, scientific research and enforcement of laws to fight pollution.”
“Be a part of what they say is their ‘first Earth Day Bash,’ and watch Bernhard and his band do wrong right for the right reasons on Earth Day 2011.” times-standard.com/tcw/ci_17874882)
My neighborhood feels pretty polluted right now, and the gutters at the Community Center drain right in to the bay/creek, correct? I’m really jazzed that the Baykeeper charged people between $25 and $40 to come out and (literally) trash the areas surrounding the Community Center.
Riding in the rain
Here I go again, riding through the rain and fog of another Humboldt Spring in preparation for the 2011 AIDS Lifecycle Ride – my annual fund-raising bicycle ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles.
From June 5 to 11 of this year, I will join 2,500 others, raising money for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the LA Gay and Lesbian Center. We’ll ride a 545-mile course. This is my fifth year in a row to do the ride, and I am super excited about it.
Super excited, but a little challenged when it comes to raising the minimum $3,000 to qualify to ride in the event. After all these years and getting so much support from family, friends and local businesses, I feel guilty asking again for their support and donations. Sure, some would say to never hesitate to ask, many would be surprised at me for not asking. So here I am, asking my community for their support and help.
Over the years, Wildberries, Arcata Garbage, the Co-op, Tomas’ Jewelery, Humboldt Flower Products, Pierson Building Center, Royal Gold, American Hydroponics, Northcoast Horticultural Supply, Eureka Natural Foods, as well as many individuals, like Tom Conlon, Dave Hitchcock, Alex Stillman, Nancy Callahan, Rich and Susan Self, Michael Weiss, Nick Frank and Ken Miller, have all been so generous and great in their support. Plus, so many other businesses and individuals who donated, I hope they know how much they are appreciated.
Over the past four years these folks have helped me raise over $35,000. Most of that money stayed right here in Humboldt County. Last year, a surplus of $4,000 went to the Northcoast AIDS Project’s (NORCAP) Emergency Task Force. Any amount I raise over the entry fee will go to this fund again.
So, if you are reading this message and you feel like giving is a good thing; that the work of NORCAP and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation are truly valuable to our community, please help by giving what you can to my ride.
You can do this in many ways. First, you can log on to the AIDS Lifecycle website and donate directly online… or, send a check made out to the SF AIDS Foundation, c/o Bob Ornelas 1645 Virginia Way, Arcata, CA 95521
Also, if you know of any businesses that are likely to donate to my ride, please ask for their help. And your friends too. This can be a team effort that we can all be proud of, one that showcases our wonderful Humboldt community.
Questions? Please call me, Bob, at (707) 826-2722.