Thursday, August 30, 2012

WEEK OF 8/27/12 MEETINGS IN REVIEW

TOM'S TALES FOR THE WEEK

Submitted to Shelton Blog by Tom Davis Mason County Progressive

Monday’s briefing of County Commissioners was cancelled, and I used the time to brush up on another legal issue coming down the pike:

Teamsters Local 252 vs. Mason County.

Here’s what the case looks like:


Mason County, Decision 10798-A (PECB, 2011). State of Washington. Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC)
“On April 27, 2009, Teamsters Local 252 (union) filed a complaint alleging that Mason County (employer) refused to bargain in good faith in violation of RCW 41.56.140(4) and (1) when the employer rejected a tentative collective bargaining agreement that had been ratified and signed by the union. The union’s complaints were filed on behalf of four bargaining units it represents: general services, appraisers, probation services, and juvenile detention. The union also filed a fifth complaint on behalf of International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 302 (IUOE), who represented a bargaining unit of public works employees. Examiner Joel Greene held a hearing and found that the employer violated its good faith bargaining obligation when the Board of County Commissioners rejected the negotiated agreement, which consisted almost exclusively of proposals the employer offered that were ratified by the union’s membership. The Board of County Commissioners took this action at a public meeting without providing prior notice to the union. We affirm.”
(Dated: Oct. 11, 2011)
(You can read all the gory details at:
www.perc.wa.gov/databases/ULP/10798-A.htm)

Unwilling to resist fanning a smoldering labor issue into another flaming lawsuit, County Commissioners appealed the PERC decision to Thurston County Superior Court. Earlier this month the court upheld PERC’s decision.

How much money the County will have to pay depends on your interpretation of how high is up, so subjective are the estimates. For what it’s worth, I am inclined to think 1.3 --1.5 million is realistic, though some put the price tag much higher. Any way you slice it, Mason County will soon be on the hook for a lot of money, unless, of course, the Commissioners decide to kick the can down the road by kicking the matter upstairs to a higher court (at least till after the election is over).

More on this issue as it evolves, but you won’t have to wait long, I promise.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

2:00 PM: Port of Shelton Commission, Special Meeting

PUBLIC HEARING: Sale of Surplus Property

A. Sale of Surplus Property - Action

Only two citizens showed up for the hearing, perhaps because everyone knew that harvesting the trees on 100 acres of Port property off Johns Prairie Road was a done deal; high bid for the timber stands at $675,000 net to the Port.

While the draw of so much money seemed strong for Commissioner Taylor, it was all anyone could do to keep Commissioner Wallitner from running out and start gnawing at the trees. The fact that proceeds from the harvest had yet to be assigned for a specific purpose seemed unimportant to everyone but Commissioner Hupp, who wanted the stand treated as “money in the bank” till such time as the land needed to be cleared for development.

Adding a bit of flavor to an otherwise foregone conclusion was an 11th hour motion by Commissioner Hupp: “Sell the timber to the highest bidder, with proceeds to fund the future development of the Johns Prairie Business Park”. Clearly a Hail Mary attempt to make the best of a bad situation, Hupp’s motion also served to close the doors on timber profits being used to fund general Port operations. (Color me curious).

With the motion sitting on the table like a steaming cow pie, Wallitner was quick to question: “Does this affect infrastructure projects?” But no clear answer was forthcoming. Taylor fell into his signature head-slump, and for a moment I felt as if I were in the ICU waiting for my next heartbeat to register on the screen. Then (and I think to everyone’s surprise) Commissioner Taylor raised his head and seconded the motion.

And it wasn’t until I was halfway home that the events finally burrowed through my thick skull: Well, dip me in poop and call me honey, I do believe those boys just got "Hupped".

6:00 PM: Regular session of Board of County Commissioners (BOCC)

At the Public Comment Period, former County Commissioner Annette McGee stepped up to fire a shot across the bow of the two Commissioners in attendance (Tim Sheldon was a no-show).

Parts of Ms. McGee’s comments follow:
“Good evening, Commissioners, when are you going to tell us, the Citizens of Mason County, about the ruling that was handed down from the Public Employment Relations Commission, known as PERC, and that their decision was upheld by the Superior Court of the State of Washington? And that the cost of this ruling to Mason County could amount to many thousands of dollars, probably as much as $2,000,000…”
After the opening salvo you could almost hear the cat clawing its way out of the box, and I admit to throwing up a little bit in my mouth. But Annette wasn’t finished:
“…why are you meeting in closed sessions asking the department heads what this agreement is going to cost? The court case is over, it is public record and meeting behind closed doors about this subject is not an Executive item. It is a budgetary item and needs to be open to the public.”
Alrighty then, there’s plenty of rope to go around, no need to push, enough room on the beam for everyone.

Commissioner Ring-Erickson responded to Ms. McGee’s comments by directing her to the County Prosecutor’s Office, though her voice now sounded like a cat hacking up a hairball.

The rest of the meeting wasn’t interesting enough to keep my ADD from kicking in, and my thoughts turned to martinis and steak. After the meeting, Amy and I went to dinner, but it’s hard to turn a bad experience into something good, and it is with that in mind I wonder if our community can survive another four years of foolish decisions.

Later…

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

LET'S TAKE BACK OUR RIGHTS!

Mason County, WA USA

WHAT DO YOU WANT FOR MASON COUNTY?

Submitted to Shelton Blog by Paul Bandehey
Mason County Progressive

Mason County has reached a level of such poor leadership, that it cannot be denied that a radical change is needed. There have been and still are so many law-suits against the County, and we the citizens pay for them. Why are so many people and entities suing us?

Here are a few that are documented:

  • The age discrimination suit which cost us $114,000.00.
  • The land condemnation for the Belfair Sewer Project. The Commissioners refused to negotiate with the owner and he sued. The County lost a total of nearly $500,000.00.
  • Another lawsuit is in progress by Mark Core for unfair firing from a job at Community Development.
  • Still another lawsuit is possible with 5 union members, unless there are negotiations re: the solid waste long hauling no bid contract that was taken to court in Grays Harbor. The judge has ruled that there has to be an open bidding process. We await the results on that one.
These are the known lawsuits so far, and there may be more.

When I brought this up at a Commissioners’ meeting, I was told by Commissioner Linda Ring Erickson that: “Law- suits go with running the government. All the agencies have suits brought against them. It is part of doing business and most of them are frivolous.”
But apparently the courts have not considered all the suits frivolous.

Tim Sheldon wears so many different hats that it is a wonder he even makes it to any County meetings. When he is attending, he appears bored and indifferent to the people speaking at the Open Forum time. He is a part time commissioner, part time senator, and on the board of ORCCA, NW Energy, an environmental committee. etc. He has interests in timber, his own business, and how many other pivotal companies that we don’t know about. Most of his campaign contributions come from industry and special interests: timber, transportation, medical insurance, construction, hotels, car insurance, waste operations, guns, phones, cigarettes, cars, property insurance, car racing, and pharmaceuticals, just to name some. Whose interest do you think is given his first consideration, the citizens or special interests?


We need to get rid of the good ol’ boy mentality of doing business. We need open and transparent government. No more backroom deals, and winks, nods, claps on the back or handshakes that leave the public in the dark. The public has the right to consider proposals and give comments on proposals that have such an effect on the lives, health, and welfare of the community.


We all know about the ADAGE Incinerator horror. The public knew nothing about this scheme before most of the agreements and deals had been put in place. Something like this being set up without our knowledge was very, very wrong. There should have been an open, explanatory announcement followed by open public hearings before any action was taken. There was none. The public only heard about it by word of mouth. We don’t want commissioners to support and participate in this kind of policy.


Sheldon’s opponent is Roslynne Reed. She is extremely competent, dedicated to the community and knowledgeable about our many problems. We have It her own words:

“I believe in open government and will avoid litigation and other unnecessary costs suffered by County taxpayers due to current mismanagement practices. Actions by the Commission are hurting our local economy and reputation. I intend to work toward restoring responsible government and taking actions that encourage environmentally friendly growth in our County. I understand the importance of health for our citizens and our environment. I have been endorsed by the Mason County Democrats and recently by our retiring congressman Norm Dicks. I have been supported by others who are not Democrats, which is great. People understand that politics should not really be a factor at the local level.”
Another candidate who will work for the benefit of the citizens, is Denny Hamilton. He has a plan for the future. Three major components of his plan are:
1. Most important is partnership for progress. It starts with County agencies working more closely together instead of competition with each other.
2. Working with civic and social organizations that are already doing a great deal of work individually.
3. The third part of these partnerships is the private sector. The absolute necessity of open a government is essential to bring the public into decision making.
Denny has a long history of evaluating a problem, creating a plan to deal with it and implementing the plan step by step. One of things I think that stands out about Denny is that he really listens when you talk to him and responds to public concerns. He is a person who actually does what he says he will do. No grandstanding. He is the kind of commissioner we need to help the County back on track and take care of its residents

We cannot be stuck in the past and rely on what has driven the local economy in the past. We need new advanced businesses. We need to revitalize our efforts to attract technological companies and small businesses. That is our future prosperity and jobs.


We also need to protect and clean up the environment for both our health and well being. We want to make Mason County an attractive place to live. We need to become the “model county” of our State, and known for our concern and care of our air, water, and soil. How wonderful it would be if counties and cities from all over the country would come to us for advice about healing our wounded environment. and placing the health and welfare of its citizen above that of special interests. Why do we tolerate the term MCL, Maximum Contamination Levels? This concept is sanctioned by Department of Ecology and the EPA. There should be NO contamination allowed!


WE THE PEOPLE
are the true governing power in this country, not County Commissioners, the State or even the Federal Government. All governing bodies get their power from us.

WE DO NOT RENOUNCE THAT POWER
. No matter what the Supreme Court says, a corporation is not an person.


Let us take our rights back and elect Roslynne Reed and Denny Hamilton for County commissioners!

Photo by Christine Armond

Monday, August 27, 2012

GOING HUNGRY IN THE USA



Excerpted from:
When Will Nation's Most Powerful Show

Regard for Nation's Most Vulnerable?
By Mariana Chilton and Greg Kaufmann

Questions for President Obama and Governor Romney:

1) One quarter of America’s young children under age 6 are living in homes that are food insecure—meaning their families report that they do not have money to buy enough food for an active and healthy life. Food insecurity negatively affects the cognitive, social and emotional development of young children. This cripples their readiness for school and future school performance. As president, what would you do about our growing hunger crisis in America—especially for young children?

2) Before the recession, 70 percent of households with food-insecure children had at least one parent that was employed full-time. Such a high percentage of “working hungry” American families suggests that US corporations and businesses are not paying adequate wages for American families to keep food on the table. As president, what will you do not only to increase the number of jobs available, but to improve wages in order to help Americans feed themselves, their children, and afford basic necessities?


3) Currently, one in seven Americans (about 45 million people—half of whom are children) are receiving help from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. SNAP is the single most important program to prevent hunger and promote healthy eating. In addition, healthcare research shows that SNAP prevents hospitalizations, promotes child development and improves school performance. The recent Farm Bill negotiations and proposed federal budget from the House recommended major cuts to the SNAP program. (There were significant cuts in the Senate version too.) These cuts will increase hunger and its associated costs that Americans will see in our schools, hospitals and pediatric clinics. As president, how will you ensure that elders, the disabled and families with children who receive help from SNAP will be protected during any budget negotiations?


4) Economists demonstrate that 40 percent of the people who are born into poverty will stay in poverty, suggesting very low mobility for poor Americans, and especially women. Low mobility disproportionately affects African-American and Latina women. If one looks at their wealth—the total value of one’s assets minus debts—single African-American and single Latina women have a median wealth of about $100, while the median for single white women is $41,500. (This despite the fact that there were more white women in poverty in 2010 than African-American and Latina women combined; and white, African-American and Latina women participate in the cash assistance (TANF) program in equal proportions.) Around the world, leaders have recognized that investing in women and girls—through group microfinance programs and access to banking services, for example—helps not only to improve their lives but lift an entire nation and boost GDP. As president, what options will you consider to reform the cash assistance (TANF) program to improve mobility for women, and especially women of color?


5) Imani Sullivan, a member of Witnesses to Hunger, said: “Why should I vote? The people in power don’t care about me. They may say they’re looking out for us. But once they’re in office, they never do anything to help the poor. They forget all about us.” Imani’s words reflect the frustration of Americans living in poverty who do not feel represented by their elected officials, who have lost faith in American democracy, and who feel they have no “place at the table.” As president, what would you do to encourage and facilitate more civic participation in America, and to ensure that our elected leaders are responsive to the needs of all American people, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity or income?

Link to complete article:

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/08/27-9

Sunday, August 26, 2012

WE CAN DO BETTER THAN THIS!

Excerpts from:
US Medicine: We Can Do Better Than This
by Dave Dvorak, MD

How much will this cost?” he asks. It’s the question at the heart of any business transaction: Is this new car, this plane ticket, this iPad worth the asking price?


But the man sitting before me is not a customer in an automobile showroom or an electronics store. He is my patient in the emergency department, and he is weighing whether to undergo the chest CT scan I have just recommended.


“I’m uninsured,” he says. “I lost my health coverage when I got laid off from my job three years ago. This is all coming out of my pocket.”


An ex-smoker in his late 40s, he has been coughing up increasing amounts of bloody sputum over the past month. What began as occasional, tiny red flecks has progressed to thick crimson streaks he can no longer ignore.


“I can only give you an estimate,” I say, “but I’m guessing a chest CT scan plus the radiologist’s fee will run in the neighborhood of $2,000.”


Like most emergency physicians, I have catalogued in my brain an endless litany of precise numbers—physiologic parameters, normal lab values, weight-based drug doses. But when it comes to knowing the costs of the myriad tests, medications and treatments that I routinely order for patients, I can offer little more than a rough estimate.


“I was afraid you’d say something like that,” he says. “I figured CT scans don’t come cheap.” He sighs quietly. “I’m raising my 8-year-old daughter on a pretty lean budget.” He looks thin in his hospital gown and a shade pale, a few days of graying stubble on his chin.


“But I’ve been worried about this for too long,” he says. “I know I need to have it.”


An hour later, I am seated at my computer scrolling through digital CT images while the radiologist on the phone describes the findings.


“In the hilum of the left lung there is a 4.5 centimeter lesion very likely to represent malignancy,” she says. My gaze falls on the irregularly shaped white mass, its tiny tentacles invading the delicate latticework of the surrounding lung tissue.


“Unfortunately, it gets worse,” the radiologist says. “There are also multiple scattered smaller lesions throughout both lungs, highly suspicious for metastases.”


There was a time during medical school and residency when I regarded abnormal clinical and radiographic findings with intrigue. I remember the excitement of hearing my first heart murmur. Of palpating a thyroid nodule. Of visualizing an ovarian mass on pelvic ultrasound.


But after years of clinical practice and countless patient encounters, I now find it difficult to view abnormal findings separately from the human lives they affect. I see an elderly woman’s hip X-ray, knowing that the fracture line coursing through the femoral neck likely spells the end of her days of independent living. A peculiar bright patch lighting up in the brain’s left hemisphere on an MRI scan signifies that a man will no longer be able to grasp a pen or a coffee mug in his right hand, will never again be able to speak a meaningful word to his family.


I hang up the phone, my eyes lingering on the CT images, the sinister white lung mass and its small-but-ominous satellites. And I am aware of their significance—that a middle-aged man will not live to see his daughter’s wedding.


I return to the patient’s room and sit down on the bedside stool. Before I speak, I feel his gaze upon me, anxiously searching my face for any subtle indication of the words to come.
“I’m sorry to have to give you this news,” I say, “but your CT scan shows findings concerning for lung cancer. It’s possibly spread to both lungs.”

He stares ahead, unblinking, his facial pallor seemingly more apparent. After a few moments, he speaks.
“On some level, I was expecting something really bad like this,” he says. “But, of course, you always hope that everything will turn out fine.”

My mouth, having grown dry, lacks the appropriate words to console him in this moment of utter sorrow. So I put a hand on his arm.
“I’ll talk to our on-call oncologist,” I tell him. “We’ll figure out a plan for you.”

He waits patiently until I return to his room once more, armed with an action plan.


“The oncologist is going to admit you to the hospital and start the workup,” I explain. “He’ll order a PET scan to see if there’s been spread to other parts of the body. Then they’ll do a biopsy of that main lesion in your lung to determine the best treatment options—whether it be radiation, chemotherapy or some combination of the two.”


A long period of silence follows, time for my patient to process the information I have conveyed. I anticipate forthcoming questions.

“I suspected that you’d want to do all those things,” he says, finally. “But I’ve already been thinking this through, and I’ve decided that I’m going to have to pass on your recommendations.”

It is not a reply I was expecting. “Why is that?” I ask. “As I said before, I’ve got no health insurance,” he says. “But there’s one thing I do have—my house. And it’s fully paid for. I guess I’m not willing to mortgage it—and ultimately lose it—to pay off endless medical bills. My house is the only thing…” His voice trails off.

After a pause, he continues. “My house is the only thing I’ll have to leave my daughter when I’m gone.” Tears have gathered in the corners of his eyes. I offer him a box of tissues, and he takes one.

We sit together in a room in a modern emergency department in a rich country, a land where highly trained specialists confidently wield the newest technologies and expensive pharmaceuticals. But these treasures are not accessible to all, for ours is also a land where private health insurance is bought and sold as a commodity. Ours is a system known to shake down sick people for money they don’t have. Ours is the only wealthy democracy that fails to guarantee health coverage to all of its citizens.

Just as it is failing now.

He looks down at his watch. “Thanks for all you’ve done. I really appreciate it. But I’ve gotta leave now,” he says. “I have to go pick her up from school.”

As I watch him reach behind his neck to untie his hospital gown, I can’t help but feel that we owe him so much more. I can’t help but feel that we—health care providers, hospital administrators, insurance company executives, politicians, all those who strenuously fight the changes that our system desperately needs—we all have failed him.

I can’t help but feel that we are better than this.

Link to complete article:
http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/08/06-6

Friday, August 24, 2012

WEEK of 8/20/12 MEETINGS IN REVIEW

TOM'S TALES FOR THE WEEK

Submitted to Shelton Blog by Tom Davis Mason County Progressive

Monday, August 20, 2012

9:00 AM: Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) Briefing

The following agenda items were discussed out of the public’s view:

Executive Session – RCW 42.30.110 (i) Litigation
Closed Session - RCW 42.30.140 (4) Labor Discussion

Despite attempts to disappear into my seat, I was given the bum’s rush when the above items came up for discussion. I tried pressing an ear to the chamber door, but all I could hear sounded like a bunch of chimpanzees fighting over a pizza. An hour later, Commissioner Ring-Erickson emerged to announce that no action had been taken, which was just as well, since, now I couldn’t get my mind off pizza.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

9:00 AM: Regular session of Board of County Commissioners (BOCC)

During the comment period I suggested the County provide more details about pending action in Public Notices. But Commissioner Sheldon responded to something completely out of orbit (paraphrased): “I know you didn’t bring it up, but comments about election issues are not allowed during these meetings.”

Okay, and no matter how deep the ocean is you can always break a window with a hammer. Now that we got that out of the way:

Some Public Notices lack critical information, for instance: a recent request to rezone a piece of property failed to provide the location, address, assessor’s parcel number, or a legal description of the property (Tom’s Tales; 8/13/12).

Another public notice requesting a rezone of 241 acres in the Lake Nahwatzel area, and 187 acres at Hanks Lake reads as follows:
“Public Hearing to consider proposal by Green Diamond Resource Company for a request for rezone and amendment to the Mason County Comprehensive Plan.”
No other information was provided.

There was every reason to believe a request for more detail in Public Notices would be met with agreement. But, as previously mentioned, all I got was the old "Sheldon Slider", a pitch meant to brush the public back from the plate.

It falls to reason that if Mr. Sheldon is so concerned about keeping political talk out of official proceedings, maybe he should stop bringing it up at those proceedings -- three times in the past two months, and in the newspapers and on the radio. I think it’s all just an act to muddy the waters.
“8.6 Approval of the resolution to amend the Non-Union Salary Range Alignment Table to reflect a salary range adjustment for the Deputy Administrator of Probation from Range 29 to 33 and for Public Health and Human Services Director from Range 39 to 45.”
In a curious action to approve a pay raise for the Deputy Administrator of Probation (whoever that is) but not for Vicki Kirkpatrick, Director of Public Health, Commissioner Sheldon moved to vote on each request separately.

Here’s why:


In the early part of 2011 Ms. Kirkpatrick encouraged the Commissioners to adapt a 1/10 of 1% sales tax to fund the Mental Health/Therapeutic Court Program, much to Sheldon’s chagrin. At the time, Commissioner Lynda Ring–Erickson, and then Commissioner Jerry Lingle supported the proposal. But Jerry passed away before the Task Force could present its recommendations, and was replaced by Steve Bloomfield. Long story short: Sheldon may have thought Bloomfield would provide the second vote needed to kill the proposal. Fortunately, that didn’t happen.

But that wasn’t the end of it, because as we all know:
You don’t tug on superman’s cape;
You don’t spit into the wind;
You don’t pull the mask off the ol’ Lone Ranger;
And you don’t mess around with Tim.
Over the next several months Tim successfully defeated two requests for a pay raise for Ms. Kirkpatrick. And with the stage thus set for another go-round, the air in the room was electric.

Here's what happened:
A hush fell over the chamber as Timmy
came boppin’ in off the street.
And when the cuttin’ was done,
the only part that wasn’t bloody
was the soles of the big man's feet.
He was cut in hundred places,
he was shot in a couple more.
And you better believe
they sung a different kind o' story
when Big Tim hit the floor.


(R.I.P. Jim Croce)


2:00 PM: Port of Shelton Commission Meeting

ACTION/DISCUSSION ITEMS:
A. Fairgrounds – Future Use – Discussion – Possible Action
B. Rural Development Funding – Discussion
The only reason item “B” is even listed here is to keep item “A” company, so sad was the discussion surrounding the Mason County Fairgrounds.

Things kicked off with a Hupp power point aimed at saving the fairgrounds from the Fairground Assault Agency, commonly known as the FAA. A comparison was made between Sanderson Field and the Chehalis Airport, as both facilities have similar physical characteristics and are governed under the same policies.

But unlike Sanderson, Chehalis leases a significant amount of aviation land to large retail outlets, such as Wal-Mart and Home Depot. It also has a viewing station where the public can park, eat lunch at picnic tables and watch local air traffic, all within 700 feet of the active runway.

In a companion piece to his presentation, Mr. Hupp writes, “Chehalis gives us a model of how to work with the FAA to achieve both airport and community betterment.”

According to Commissioners Taylor and Wallitner, and Director Dobson, primary resistance comes from the FAA. So, once again it was decided to bring all the principals under one roof for a show-down.

Toward the end of the meeting, Commissioner Hupp lowered the boom on the issue, saying (as best I recall): “If this community loses the fairgrounds, for whatever reason, it loses it forever.”

True dat.

Later…


SHELTON BLOG NOTE:

Link to previous related article:

http://masoncountyprogressive.blogspot.com/2012/08/week-of-81312-meetings-in-review.html

Thursday, August 23, 2012

EPA COAL POLLUTION RULE REVOKED

240 Million Americans to Lose Protections
From Coal Pollution

US Court Throws Out EPA Coal Pollution Rule,
Leaves Millions Exposed to Harmful Emissions
By Common Dreams Staff

Up to 240 million Americans will now lose protections against dangerous smog and soot pollution, following a decision by a US appeals court on Tuesday. In a 2-1 decision the US Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit overturned the Environmental Protection Agency's Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which would have reduced harmful emissions from coal-burning power plants and saved the lives of up to 34,000 people per year.

“This decision allows harmful power plant air pollution to continue to aggravate major health problems and foul up our air. This is a loss for all of us, but especially for those living downwind from major polluters,” said John Walke, clean air director at the Natural Resources Defense Council.


The rule, slated to reduced sulfur dioxide emissions by 73 percent and nitrogen oxide by 54 percent at coal-fired power plants from 2005 levels in 28 states, will now be sent back for revision for an indefinite period of time.


The EPA had adopted the regulation one year ago in a bid to reduce downwind pollution from power plants across state lines. It was scheduled to go into effect in January; however, several large power companies and some states sued to stop it.


“This rule would have prevented thousands of premature deaths and saved tens of billions of dollars a year in health costs, but two judges blocked that from happening and forced EPA to further delay long overdue health safeguards for Americans,” Walke stated.


According to the Environmental Defense Fund, the rule would have:


Saved up to 34,000 lives each year
Prevented 15,000 heart attacks each year
Prevented 400,000 asthma attacks each year
Provided $120 billion to $280 billion in health benefits for the nation each year

Link to complete article:

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/08/21-3

SHELTON BLOG NOTE:

Tell the EPA to keep fighting and send a message of support:
http://action.sierraclub.org/site/MessageViewer

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A DANGEROUS LIE ABOUT RAPE




TELL REP. TODD AKIN: STOP LYING ABOUT RAPE

This is outrageous even for a Tea Party Republican.


Congressman Todd Akin, a member of the House and a Tea Party Republican Senate nominee, said that survivors of "legitimate rape" have biological defenses against pregnancy:
"First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare... If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." 1
This is not only an outright falsehood, but it's an offensive attack on women.

Tell Rep. Todd Akin: Stop lying about rape, and apologize to women.

In fact, according to the American Journal of Obstetricians and Gynecologists "rape-related pregnancy occurs with significant frequency" and over 32,000 pregnancies each year result from rape. 2

Suggesting that women who become pregnant as a result of rape are not "legitimately raped," is outrageous and shows an utter lack of understanding of the basic principles of human biology. But it's not simply an isolated comment by a dangerously ignorant politician. And it's not the first time Republicans in the House have tried to "redefine" rape.

In 2011, Rep. Akin co-sponsored Rep. Chris Smith's bill to redefine rape. The purpose of the bill was to limit the number of survivors of rape and incest who could receive federally funded abortion care under existing law by changing the definition of rape to "forcible rape." That bill was so outrageous that even the extreme anti-woman majority in the House had to back down in the face of public opposition
.
3

Tell Rep. Todd Akin: Stop lying about rape, and apologize to women.

Rep. Akin's utterly offensive remarks may be beyond the pale, but they are not isolated. They are part of a pattern of attacks led by Tea Party Republicans against women in this country. We have to push back, and we have to push back hard. We will not let them redefine rape. We will not let them continue their attacks on women's health.

Tell Rep Todd Akin that his statement that survivors of "legitimate rape" have biological defenses against pregnancy is not only an outrageous falsehood, but it's offensive and dangerous. He needs to stop lying about rape, and apologize to women.

Becky Bond, Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets


1. Evan McMorris-Santoro, "Republican Senate Nominee: Victims Of 'Legitimate Rape' Don't Get Pregnant" Talking Points Memo, Aug. 19, 2012.
2. ibid.
3. Evan McMorris-Santoro, "Report: Republicans Give Up On Redefining Rape" Talking Points Memo, Feb. 3, 2011.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

SHELTON CREEK PROJECT

A creek with falls behind the Shelton Timberland Library!

A PEACEFUL REFUGE IN THE HEART OF SHELTON

Submitted to Shelton Blog by Katherine Price with Photos by Clint Ferrara
Mason County Progressive
On a Thursday evening, a few months back, six senior members of Occupy Shelton ("senior" meaning none of us was under 50, and not suggesting any level of status in the loosely organized movement that is Occupy), were discussing collecting ideas for things the community could accomplish under the auspices and direction of an organization known as Pomegranate. Some Shelton and Mason County citizens had already attended one Pomegranate meeting, and another was scheduled in two weeks.


One of our members came up with a great and easy idea to clean up and reclaim an area of town that few people know about, and that is the trail behind the library that runs along Shelton Creek. To call it a "trail" is a slight exaggeration. But there is a creek, and a waterfall, and a lovely sense of peace that exists right in the heart of downtown Shelton.


It is as pretty as any trail in Tawanoh State Park, but it has its shortcomings.



And it has its opportunities.



So the Occupy ladies traipsed off into the woods at a noon hour with photographer Clint Ferrara, and we were delighted with what we saw and "envisioned". Our community was recently asked by our air-breather friend Greg Williamson, in a letter to the editor of the Journal, to do just that. Envision what you would like in Shelton...in Mason County...and so we did!
We got so excited we put together a presentation.


We were all ready on the evening of the second Pomegranate meeting to unveil our amazing photos, and share our vision for what we might do as a community in a short amount of time (with volunteers and some skilled laborers). But we were not allowed to present our idea that evening.


The Pomegranate program follows a prescribed order of events. This second meeting was to identify who in the community had needs, and what things might the community do to meet those needs. I have to tell you, I heard a local woman say that she has lived here for 40 years and every ten years someone comes out and identifies the groups who have needs, identifies what the community could do to meet those needs, and then goes back to sleep for 10 years. This was her 4th such event, and she was not optimistic that anything would get done this time either.


Well, when you are female, and over 50, sometimes you just have to take the bull by the horns -- whatever that means, it sounds like what we did.
We decided to skip the Pomegranate version of getting a community project started, and we went to work on our own.



First, we let the City know we were interested. They were interested that we were interested, and they were also interested that we were not asking them to do anything or spend any money they did not have. Jason Dose and Steve Goins were encouraging. and they copied our communications to Mark Ziegler of the Parks Department.

Second, we bumped into some neighbors of the creek who were meeting to discuss just such an effort. They remembered fondly when their kids were little and it was safe to play in the woods and the creek. They wanted to reclaim the creek for a more positive use than a campground for transients, and a safe and peaceful place to do drugs. These new elements at the creek meant that
the locals and their children's children did not use the creek as much.

The Shelton Creek neighborhood group invited our group to meet their group, and City Parks Manager Mark Ziegler attended. It was a completely positive meeting, and left us all feeling great.

Within a few weeks we had a work party at the creek and we pulled a lot of garbage out of the creek and woods, including hypodermic needles, wet clothes, several pair of shoes, wet bedding, a tent that was floating in the middle of the creek, and one disposable (but clearly not biodegradable) diaper. It was a hot and sunny day, and when we were done we ate ice cold fresh fruit, and some of us had a well-deserved beer.


One day of cleaning the creek and woods was only the beginning, however.



Enter members of the Mason Conservation District, who arranged to have a crew of workers come and take out the ivy we had not been able to cut (there was an ivy stock that was so big it had to be sawed), and they took out an amazing amount of blackberries. We still have something wonderful called "knot weed" that needs to be dealt with, but amazing progress has already occurred, from an idea hatched in my basement at an Occupy Shelton meeting!


Recently, on Monday, August 13, 2012, the Occupy ladies and a few of the Shelton Creek neighbors met with some members of the Mason Conservation District at the creek head. Following that meeting, we are now studying publications like: "Sound Native Plants, Species Selection Guide" (www.soundnativeplants.com), "2004 Stream Habitat Restoration Guidelines: Final Draft" and "The Riparian Zone". We are in the process of choosing the plants we will use to restore the creek to it's more natural habitat, sans the ivy, blackberries, knot weed, etc. We are now busy studying "restoration superstars" and "plants for very wet sites".


This is the most fun I have had since I was a kid. So many things in today's hectic world seem not to happen as planned, not to happen on time, and especially, not to happen at all. I suspect the local woman who said we get together every ten years, identify groups with needs, and identify how the community can meet those needs, and then do nothing until we meet again in ten years, was right.

But guess what, the groups with needs are consistent...young people, the elderly, the homeless, ...and the solutions are the same, build things, provide places, provide things... all things that cost money. As a result, no matter how much good intention we all arrive with, nothing gets done; there is no follow through.


Not this time. I
can't wait 10 years for the next meeting where we identify needs, explore solutions, and do nothing. My Occupy lady friends cannot either. The neighbors of Shelton Creek can't wait ten years. And the kids who should enjoy the creek without fear, they can't want ten years either.

Step one for our Shelton Creek project was to get it cleaned up, and then get it replanted. Those things will happen this year.


Step two will involve at least: rebuilding the trail to provide greater access; tying the trail into an upland trail the hospital has created; providing picnic areas on the level ground within the creek's forest; putting a permanent bridge across the creek. The sky is the limit and as each piece gets finished we hope to have more folks who want to be part of the next piece join us.


Our vision involves the things identified here. What's your vision? What would you add?



Shelton has a beautiful, pristine little creek running through beautiful evergreen trees that provide shade and dappled sunlight on a little waterfall. If you have not seen this gem in our midst, take a walk behind the Shelton library and check it out. I am pretty sure you will agree that it is lovely, and that it is worth reclaiming for healthy, positive uses.

Contact us at: SheltonCreek@gmail.com

Saturday, August 18, 2012

NO COAL EXPORT FOR GRAYS HARBOR

Excerpt from:
Rail Company Shelving Hoquiam WA Coal Export Plans
By Associated Press

HOQUIAM, Wash. (AP) — Regional railroad operator RailAmerica told Port of Grays Harbor commissioners Tuesday that it is shelving current plans to build a coal storage and export facility at the port's Terminal 3 in Hoquiam.


The company now believes there are other uses for the terminal that are more likely to generate jobs, tax revenues and business for the port and for the company, said Gary Lewis, RailAmerica senior vice president.


The Daily World reported
that company spokesman Paul Queary said RailAmerica was shelving the Terminal 3 coal export project because there is a third party interested in shipping something else from the terminal in a project that could progress more quickly than a coal terminal.

RailAmerica had said it was interested in possibly shipping 5 million tons of coal annually.


In recent months, projects have been proposed for a half dozen ports in Oregon and Washington to ship coal from Montana and Wyoming to markets in Asia. Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber and the Seattle City Council are among those expressing concern about possible environmental effects.


A group called Citizens for a Clean Harbor has opposed any use of the terminal for coal shipments.


Arnie Martin of Hoquiam, one of the group's co-founders, suggested the company may have recognized the possibility of "multi-year delays" in the siting process because of potential lawsuits. Still, he was suspicious that the coal proposal might be revived later.


"So we're not stopping yet," Martin said, noting the group plans to remain active in opposing any coal export terminals in the Northwest. "There's still plenty to worry about," he said.


"We agree with Rail America that there are other opportunities which will create more jobs and more enduring economic benefits for the community," said Becky Kelley of the Power Past Coal coalition, described as an alliance of health, environmental, clean-energy, faith and community groups working to stop coal export off the West Coast.


The Port of Grays Harbor and RailAmerica still remain partners in finding new employment opportunities for the county, said Gary Nelson, port executive director. Lewis told the commissioners that the railroad has received several other inquiries about the terminal while studying the site.


He noted that RailAmerica currently is in the process of being acquired by another rail company. Genesee & Wyoming, another short-line holding company, has a pending $1.39 billion offer for RailAmerica.


Kitzhaber has called for federal officials to study the environmental impacts of the coal export proposals, saying he's concerned about the effects of coal dust and additional train traffic between mines and ports — and from burning more coal in developing countries.


In May, the Seattle City Council unanimously passed a resolution opposing the development of coal export terminals in Washington state after raising concerns about increased train traffic and potential harm to health and the environment from transporting coal across the state.


Link to complete article:
http://www.wenatcheeworld.com/news/2012/aug/14/rail-company-shelving-hoquiam-wa-coal-export-plans/

Friday, August 17, 2012

MORE ON BELFAIR SEWER SETTLEMENT


BUSINESS AS USUAL IN MASON COUNTY

Submitted to Shelton Blog by Katherine Austin Price Mason County Progressive

The headline on page 1 of the August 16, 2012, Shelton-Mason County Journal reads:
"COUNTY LOSES GARBAGE SUIT".

It may not come as a great surprise to Mason County citizens that Tim Sheldon and Lynda Ring Erickson have landed us, the citizens of Mason County, in court again. This time in Grays Harbor County, where a talented Grays Harbor attorney, Wayne Hagen (a/k/a "Tiger"), just beat Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Tim Higgs in a lawsuit brought against Mason County by contractors who were not given the opportunity to submit bids on a contract. The judge ruled that the Board of County Commissioners violated the Open Public Meeting Act in negotiating the contract with Allied Waste behind closed doors.

To the taxpayers of Mason County this means that our commissioners have once against cost the taxpayers dollars.

At this point we have to wait to see what the judge's written ruling reflects, and how much of the plaintiff's attorney fees we citizens will have to pay. But some costs we already know...the prosecuting attorney's office once again, rather than prosecuting criminals, is defending our illustrious Board of County Commissioners.

And what did Tim say to the paper, because he loves to hear himself speak and he simply cannot help but comment? He said: "I think it is great political theatre." (Journal page A-6, 8-16-12)

Really, Tim, how much will this suit eventually cost the taxpayers? And our Commissioner/Senator Sheldon thinks it is great political theatre. As a citizen of Mason County, I really don't think so.

So, what have Tim Sheldon and Lynda Ring Erickson been up to in the recent past? Let us recap:

A few months back we learned that they had cost us $114,000 in an age discrimination lawsuit, and then they both failed to attend the entire course required of them as part of the settlement.

We have also recently learned that it cost the County (us taxpayers) more than a half a million dollars in connection with an unnecessary condemnation proceeding that could have been avoided by offering the landowner the appraised sum for the land -- less than $50,000. Instead, Tim Sheldon and Lynda Ring Erickson opted to condemn the property. So, instead of paying less than $50,000 for a parcel of land in connection with the Belfair sewer, we taxpayers got to pay more than a half a million dollars for the same property.

How many deputies could Mason County hire, for how many years, with that kind of money? How many new staff for our overworked and understaffed County offices might these dollars have provided?

Now Tim has done it again. After the Johnson/Krueger letter was published in the Journal, the Mason County Daily News, and this blog on 8/4/12, Lynda Ring Erickson had the good sense to say "no comment" to the KMAS radio station.

Not so Tim...Tim Sheldon had to step out onto that branch and saw it off behind himself with statements like: "They are misrepresenting the facts of the case in order to try to affect an election."

Okay, maybe, so you should stop there Tim. But, of course, Tim was not satisfied in making that statement, which probably will not cost him (or the taxpayers) any money. Tim was not content to stop there, and this is when he accused the Krueger/Johnson family, and specifically private citizens Les and Betty Krueger of committing a felony.

This interview is still up on the KMAS web page and should be heard to be believed, but this is what Tim said about Les and Betty: "These are the same people that would love to buy a new commissioner."

Well, that's not slanderous completely, unless you take "buy a new commissioner" to mean "bribe a public official".

But Tim was not even content to leave it there, and here is where he crossed the line. I hope that Les and Betty are in Seattle right now arranging representation by one of the biggest most successful firms they can find, and I just hope that they sue Tim individually, and not as a County Commissioner, for this statement: "So they cannot buy a commissioner, like they have done in the past."

This is slander. This is accusing two private citizens, Les and Betty Krueger, of buying/bribing politicians. Tim has accused these folks of committing the felony of bribing commissioners.

Have we had enough of this arrogance yet? Are we really going to re-elect Tim Sheldon, again, to the Board of County Commissioners?

Maybe next time the judgment against the County will be a million dollars; or $2 million dollars... the sky is the limit with Tim Sheldon at the helm...at least the sky is the limit as to how large the settlements and judgments are getting. Tim Sheldon is running the train of Mason County off of the tracks, and it is way past time that he be replaced as the engineer.

How about we give Roslynne Reed a chance to represent Mason County, and together with Denny Hamilton and Ross Gallagher maybe they can minimize the number of lawsuits that our Board of County Commissioners attract to zero.

And to the Krueger/Johnson family, I am very sorry that our Commissioner Sheldon cannot open his mouth without inserting both feet, but you are all residents of Mason County too! Take pity on our County...sue Tim as an individual; please do not name the County as a defendant in your slander suit.

Photo: www.photosearch.com

SHELTON BLOG NOTE:

Link to previous related post:

http://masoncountyprogressive.blogspot.com/2012/08/belfair-sewer-settlement.html

Thursday, August 16, 2012

WEEK of 8/13/12 MEETINGS IN REVIEW

TOM'S TALES FOR THE WEEK

Submitted to Shelton Blog by Tom Davis Mason County Progressive

Monday, August 13, 2012

9:00 AM: Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) Briefing

Nothing at the briefing is worthy of reporting here, but that doesn’t mean there’s no news:

Most notable is a dearth of supporting documentation on the County website. If a citizen wants to be informed on the underpinnings of an agenda item, they have to thumb through the hardcopy at Central Operations.

This type of withholding of public information began last week, when a request to rezone 2.05 acres from RR-5 to Commercial 2 lacked supporting documentation. The Public Notice failed to provide a parcel number, a legal description, or an address. After some research, I unearthed the little rascal on the County Assessor’s site, but that information was all wrong: wrong address, wrong parcel, wrong owner, even the property boundaries were wrong.

I asked the Commissioners to consider continuing the hearing till correct information was made available. And for a moment it looked as if my request was being digested. But what I interpreted to be a thoughtful pause in the proceedings turned out to be just a bubble of official gas passing through the collective system, and the rezone was unanimously approved.

By itself, this instance may not raise many eyebrows, but this week, again, no supporting documentation was provided for any of the Public Hearings scheduled, and there were a bunch:

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

9:00 AM: Regular session of Board of County Commissioners (BOCC)
9.1 Public Hearing to consider the following budget transfers and supplemental appropriations:

Current Expense Fund #001:
9.1.1 $ 5,550 - Budget transfer to Civil Service department for hiring and testing of new Sheriff department employees.
9.1.2 $ 21,000 - Supplemental appropriation to the Clerk's department due to increased collection revenues to fund additional Court Clerk.
9.1.3 $105,000 - Supplemental appropriation for the Department of Community Development for a WA Department of Fish & Wildlife Grant contract.
9.1.4 $ 4,000 - Budget transfer to Probation/Juvenile department for increased costs in Healthcare Delivery Systems.
9.1.5 $ 40,000 - Supplemental appropriation for the Sheriff's office for a new Timberlakes contract.
9.1.6 $ 4,500 - Budget transfer from budgeted ending fund balance to transfers out to Public Health Fund.
Public Health Fund #150:

9.1.7 $ 4,500
- Supplemental appropriation for negotiated health care for Nurses union contract.
With over $180,000 in supplemental appropriations at stake, not a single piece of background or other supporting documentation was provided. Is it any wonder why the public feels disenfranchised from local government? In this desert of information, mine was the only public voice to even ask a question before the Commissioner’s approved all of the above, unanimously.

The only other item worthy of reporting had to do with the jail and money (funny how those two things seem always to go together):
8.12 Approval of the modification to the Mason County Jail by adding three portable cells at an estimated cost of $111,335; increasing the jail capacity to 114; and adding three corrections officers to the staff to properly; and safely monitor the additional inmate population. The annual cost for three additional staff, including benefits, is $226,200.
The fact is, incarcerating people is expensive and counterproductive to an evolved society, but it is also a fact that the Mason County Jail is operating far beyond its designed capacity. In this case, throwing money at the problem seemed a practical solution, albeit short term.

So I asked the Jail Administrator, Tom Haugen for his vision of a long term solution. As expected, he and Undersheriff Jim Barrett jumped at the chance to voice a common dream that apparently dances in the heads of those engaged in arrest and incarceration operations -- an $80M “Judicial Campus”: a one stop shop for all your law enforcement needs in one glorious location.

Now, if that doesn’t lift your spirits for a better tomorrow, I don’t know what will.

Public Comment Period Note:
This sacred visage of our tattered democracy usually comes at the beginning of my railings. But in an attempt to avoid having the other items appear anticlimactic, it is presented here, with a little background:

As readers of this blog know, a group calling itself “Advocates for Responsible Government” filed a lawsuit against our fair County, asserting the solid waste hauling contract awarded to Regional Disposal Company/Allied Waste had not gone through the competitive bidding process, as per statutory requirement RCW 36.58.090 (“Tom’s Tales for the Week”, 7/16/12).

The case was decided in Grays Harbor Superior Court, and it was a doozey. Judge Gordon L. Godfrey (who has replaced Judge Wapner as my all-time favorite jurist) put the mallet to the County’s arguments, saying, “I’m going to bring some pragmatism to this issue.” When the legal dust settled, the waste hauling contract was void, and the County was given six months to “make amends” by back-peddling through the competitive bidding process.

Don’t miss the next episodes of “Waste Not, Want Not”, coming to a blog near you.

Public Comments:

I rose to extoll the unnecessary exhaustion of funds and resources, and to remind the Board it had been forewarned that an unfavorable outcome was likely. Moreover, when the County loses in court, it is the citizens who suffer the consequences. Judging from Commissioner Sheldon’s response to those comments, that fact had not yet taken root; confronted with the decision, Sheldon assigned blame to anyone but himself.

The only question that remains is, if Mr. Sheldon were made to bear the cost consequence of his actions, would he still be so cavalier about fanning grievances into lawsuits?

I doubt it.

Finally, I realize that some of these comments are hard to take, and may even make some folks angry; it is human nature to avoid unpleasant situations. It is easy to jump on the "happy train" and extoll the virtues of our community -- of which there are many -- but that ground seems to have been adequately tilled, and we have some chronic problems that need to be addressed.

Toward that end, I see my place as unique. I have the time to attend most of the meetings and the motivation to report on the experience. But rocks come with the farm, and I cannot be someone else. So, if you don’t like what I have to say, there’s always Shelton Life.

But for me the path is clear (to heed the words of my dear old dad, just before they sprung the trap): “The good in life will take care of itself; it’s the problems that need attention”.

And with that, I must put up fencing for some sheep I’m pretending to raise. If that works out, I’ll pretend to buy a cow or two, maybe some pigs. I toyed with the idea of real animals, but with all the meetings I sit through, I’ll be damned if I spend my weekends having to deal with any more manure.

Later…

SHELTON BLOG NOTE:

Link to previous related post:

http://masoncountyprogressive.blogspot.com/2012/07/week-of-71612-meetings-in-review.html

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

SKOKOMISH RIVER? SAME OLD FECES!

Be leaders, not laggards!

Comments Presented to Mason County Commissioners

Submitted to Shelton Blog by Scott Grout Mason County Progressive

August 8th, 2012

Commissioners,


My comments today highlight an old recurring issue with water quality and County oversight. Much of what I’m about to say also reflects the thoughts of Bill Allen, a citizen and community activist, who was unable to be here this morning.

Mr. Allen and I were in part responsible for calling attention to the impact of the sport fishery and the out of compliance use of the Hunter farm property on the Skokomish River back in 2009.
The same cycle of improper enforcement and oversight is being repeated again that will and is right NOW resulting in fecal contamination and pollution in the river.

We ask the Commissioners, particularly Mr. Sheldon, how many years has this illegal fishing camp been allowed to operate? How many more times will businesses, like mine, suffer losses due to closures because the County has not been proactive. How many more people like Bill Allen will suffer life debilitating infections because the County won’t, for whatever reason, get on top of a predictable cycle and control it?

The fact is the County does not follow through on its own guidelines. Instead, it takes a complaint with the Department of Ecology and the State Department of Health to affect timely action. Why must these agencies do the County’s work?

We have a similar example concerning the sensitive area around the Robin Hood Village. The Commissioners, again in 2009, passed a resolution prohibiting new “park model trailers” to be placed on the waterfront. The owner ignored the mandate; allowed legal confusion to compromise effective action; and the result was the Department of Ecology again had to intervene. The County was ineffective in its ability to either solve this problem or develop an effective land use policy.

Here again, the State has to do the work the County should be doing!

The key here is strategic leadership, Mr. Sheldon. These events are on your watch, in your district! Any management guideline would empower your agency staff to do what it takes to provide consistent, impartial, and fair follow through. It simply is not happening, and has not been happening, and we’re not exaggerating here!

Folks, we are well in the 21st century and we need to behave like it. There will be more people and environmental impacts as we move forward. Let’s end the “us and them” mentality that pervades Mason County operations. Let’s end the nepotism. Turn fear into forward movement! Partner and promote solutions! Love this beautiful County before we lose it! Be leaders and not laggards!

Scott Grout
Gold Coast Oyster LLC


Photo by John Cox

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

THE FUTURE IS NOW AND IT IS HOT

Excerpts from:
Climate Change is Here and Worse Than We Thought
By James Hansen
James E. Hansen directs the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

When I testified before the Senate in the hot summer of 1988 , I warned of the kind of future that climate change would bring to us and our planet. I painted a grim picture of the consequences of steadily increasing temperatures, driven by mankind’s use of fossil fuels.

But I have a confession to make: I was too optimistic.


My projections about increasing global temperature have been proved true. But I failed to fully explore how quickly that average rise would drive an increase in extreme weather.


In a new analysis of the past six decades of global temperatures, which will be published Monday, my colleagues and I have revealed a stunning increase in the frequency of extremely hot summers, with deeply troubling ramifications for not only our future but also for our present.


This is not a climate model or a prediction but actual observations of weather events and temperatures that have happened. Our analysis shows that it is no longer enough to say that global warming will increase the likelihood of extreme weather and to repeat the caveat that no individual weather event can be directly linked to climate change. To the contrary, our analysis shows that, for the extreme hot weather of the recent past, there is virtually no explanation other than climate change.


The deadly European heat wave of 2003, the fiery Russian heat wave of 2010 and catastrophic droughts in Texas and Oklahoma last year can each be attributed to climate change. And once the data are gathered in a few weeks’ time, it’s likely that the same will be true for the extremely hot summer the United States is suffering through right now.


These weather events are not simply an example of what climate change could bring. They are caused by climate change. The odds that natural variability created these extremes are minuscule, vanishingly small. To count on those odds would be like quitting your job and playing the lottery every morning to pay the bills.


Twenty-four years ago, I introduced the concept of “climate dice” to help distinguish the long-term trend of climate change from the natural variability of day-to-day weather. Some summers are hot, some cool. Some winters brutal, some mild. That’s natural variability.


But as the climate warms, natural variability is altered, too. In a normal climate without global warming, two sides of the die would represent cooler-than-normal weather, two sides would be normal weather, and two sides would be warmer-than-normal weather. Rolling the die again and again, or season after season, you would get an equal variation of weather over time.


An clean energy economy ... is a simple, honest and effective solution.


But loading the die with a warming climate changes the odds. You end up with only one side cooler than normal, one side average, and four sides warmer than normal. Even with climate change, you will occasionally see cooler-than-normal summers or a typically cold winter. Don’t let that fool you.


Our new peer-reviewed study, published by the National Academy of Sciences, makes clear that while average global temperature has been steadily rising due to a warming climate (up about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit in the past century), the extremes are actually becoming much more frequent and more intense worldwide.


When we plotted the world’s changing temperatures on a bell curve, the extremes of unusually cool and, even more, the extremes of unusually hot are being altered so they are becoming both more common and more severe.


The change is so dramatic that one face of the die must now represent extreme weather to illustrate the greater frequency of extremely hot weather events.


Such events used to be exceedingly rare. Extremely hot temperatures covered about 0.1 percent to 0.2 percent of the globe in the base period of our study, from 1951 to 1980. In the last three decades, while the average temperature has slowly risen, the extremes have soared and now cover about 10 percent of the globe.

This is the world we have changed, and now we have to live in it — the world that caused the 2003 heat wave in Europe that killed more than 50,000 people and the 2011 drought in Texas that caused more than $5 billion in damage. Such events, our data show, will become even more frequent and more severe.

There is still time to act and avoid a worsening climate, but we are wasting precious time. We can solve the challenge of climate change with a gradually rising fee on carbon collected from fossil-fuel companies, with 100 percent of the money rebated to all legal residents on a per capita basis. This would stimulate innovations and create a robust clean-energy economy with millions of new jobs. It is a simple, honest and effective solution.

The future is now. And it is hot.

Link to complete article:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/climate-change-is-here--and-worse-than-we-thought/2012/08/03/6ae604c2-dd90-11e1-8e43-4a3c4375504a_story.html