Thursday, November 29, 2012

IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY


WHERE'S THE BALANCE?
 
Submitted to Shelton Blog by John Cox    Mason County Progressive

Last week, Christine and I were in beautiful downtown Detroit attending a program with a spiritual teacher we have had a relationship with for many years. 

Part of the program was a Q&A session, and one of the attendees asked a question that could be summarized as, “What can we do about the evil corporations that are destroying the Earth?”


In the ensuing discussion it was said that "corporations are both good and bad", with the bottom line being "do what you can in your personal life to make the world a better place".

I have been thinking about this same issue for some time now.  I see evidence all around me that supports the view that corporations are predominately EVIL.  It is hard to recognize the positive aspects of corporations because what is good for some requires a balance of not-so-good for someone else, somewhere.  Actually, the more I look at it, I really can't see a truly positive thing about corporations. There is just too much “balancing” going on -- too much collateral damage.

“Incorporation” provides protection and other benefits for investors. The status of “incorporated” is granted by the government.  It is not created in heaven or hell, but by our democratically elected leaders.

This special status should involve a trade-off.  We the people grant corporation X the ability to limit personal liability and receive tax benefits and incentives.  In return, we want corporations to be a benefit to society. That's the trade. You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours, etc.

But somewhere along the line, one side of the trade seems to have gone missing. We the people are a skinny little guy on a teeter-totter with an elephant for a playmate.  Over the years the rules governing this relationship have been watered down or have disappeared. 


Small communities can no longer decide if they want a corporation to open shop in their backyards or not.  Most readers of this blog are well aware of what went on with the ADAGE invasion attempt here in Mason County.  Clearly the rules have become rigged, and the elephants are stomping around and making a mess of things, while the little guys get fewer and fewer benefits if any at all.

It should not and does not have to be this way.

Despite what might be heard on Fox news, it does not make you a socialist to think that this economic card game should not be dealt from a stacked deck. It does not make you a heretic to believe that the profit motive is not divinely inspired. 


If you are able to see that something is wrong with the present set up, you are likely to be someone that is able to put yourself in someone else's shoes to some degree.  You are likely to be someone who can empathize with and feels compassion for others.

If you think that our economic system is just fine the way it is, and that “them that has, gets” is the real golden rule, you, my friend, are bringing this land of the free and home of the brave to its knees.  


Graphic: photos.state.gov

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

WHY IN THE WORLD ARE THEY SPRAYING?

Submitted to Shelton Blog by Bob Bottman    Mason County Progressive


FINAL FRIDAY MOVIE SERIES

WHY IN THE WORLD ARE THEY SPRAYING?

This documentary is based on the idea that chemicals are being 
sprayed as aerosols into the upper atmosphere by aircraft as part 
of a secret weather modification program. The film particularly 
focuses on who would gain by this program, and what potential 
harm to humanity and the environment could result.

Friday, November 30th
at
Mason County Senior Activities Center
826 W. Railroad Ave., Shelton

at 
7:00 PM 

No admission is charged. Donations are encouraged 
with proceeds above license fees going to SOCK 
(Save Our County’s Kids) youth programs.

For more information:

Friday, November 23, 2012

WEEK OF 11/19/12 MEETINGS IN REVIEW


TOM'S TALES FOR THE WEEK

Submitted to Shelton Blog by Tom Davis    Mason County Progressive

The Mason County Budget process for 2013 reminds me of my first job:
 
After leaving the Navy I worked the early morning shift at a diner called “Fort Hamilton,” in Brooklyn. I was a short-order cook, slinging hash, home fries and pancakes, mostly to people on their way to work. One morning I came in and found a live mouse at the bottom of a large bowl we used to mix 10 pound sacks of pancake batter; it had fallen in and couldn’t climb out. And even though a mouse in a mixing bowl is kind of disgusting, I couldn’t help feeling sorry for the little guy; every time he tried to scale the sides he slid back down. I called my boss over - a man who thought cigar ash was a critical ingredient in any recipe. He looked inside the bowl, frowned, picked up a mixing paddle and beat the mouse to death with it. After a quick wipe with a dirty cloth he dumped in a ten pound sack of pancake mix, handed me the paddle he had just used to kill the mouse and said, “Don’t worry about it, kid, they’ll eat anything as long as it looks good on the plate.” 

Which brings me back to the Mason County Budget:

 
We can continue to talk about selective salary increases, unnecessary lawsuits, questionable capital improvement projects and even more questionable funding allocations, but, really, what’s the point when there’s a dead mouse in the mix? The problem is not with the budget; it’s with people who cover up their bad behavior with political garnish and then serve it up to the public.

Soon they’ll be two new commissioners on the board; two new cooks in the kitchen, to further torture the analogy. It will be interesting to see if they put the customer before the kitchen and give citizens something more palatable to chew on than a dead mouse.   

Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, November 20, 20/12

9:00 AM:  Board of Mason County Commissioners Meeting


Item 8.1 Approval to set a public hearing on December 11, 2012 at 9:30 a.m. to consider amendments to the Comprehensive Plan’s Future Land Use Map and a request for rezone for portions of property located along Lake Nahwatzel and Kennedy Creek as submitted by Green Diamond Resource Company.

Item 8.2
Approval to set a public hearing on December 11, 2012 at 9:30 a.m. to consider amendments to the Comprehensive Plan’s Future Land Use Map and a request for rezone for portions of property located along Hanks Lake and Kennedy Creek as submitted by Green Diamond Resource Company.

This is where the rubber meets the road, folks, but first let’s turn back the clock to the BOCC Meeting of November 22, 2011:

Item 8.10 Approval to set a public hearing on December 13, 2011 at 9:30 a.m. to consider amendments to the Mason County Comprehensive Plan policies with respect to Long Term Commercial Forest and In-Holding Lands.
Sounds pretty innocuous, right? Just a couple of amendments to help out our neighbors over at Green Diamond. Far from it; this was the most important amendment ever passed in Mason County history and it slipped right past the public like a snake in a sewer pipe. And who’s to blame (I mean besides you and me?) Well, the usual suspects: The commissioners, the Dept. of Community Development and a Planning Advisory Board dominated by a handful of ‘Rubber Stampers’.
From the minutes:    
Tom Davis asked if the public hearing in item 8.10 is relevant to the Green Diamond rezone.
Ms. Atkins (Director. Community Development) replied that it was not related.
But it turned out that Item 8.10 was not only “related” to a Green Diamond rezone request, it is the legal basis for all rezones of Long Term Commercial Forest land. Just ask the folks out at Lake Nahwatzel; they’re looking at 49 new home sites on 248 acres of what was LTCF land owned by Green Diamond.   
What the minutes do not reflect is that Commissioner Tim Sheldon also responded to my question, saying that the public hearing had only to do with In-Holding Lands, which was a lie.  
Now push the clock forward to Dec. 13, 2011:
Item 9.2 Public hearing to consider amendments to the Mason County Comprehensive Plan policies with respect to Long Term Commercial Forest and In-Holding Lands.
The board approved the amendments, thereby opening up a path for Green Diamond Resource Company to swap Long Term Commercial Forest (LTCF) land for an equal amount of land zoned for residential usage and vice versa. So, what does all this mean? It means that, our county commissioners have escalated Green Diamond from ‘neighbor’ status to that of ‘landlord,’ and they now have unprecedented control over where future development and infrastructure projects occur. Think you have a little piece of rural paradise backed up against Green Diamond land? Think again, they can now turn your backyard into a residential development faster than you can build a fence. (Note: Rezones still have to go through the county planning process and require commissioner approval, but if history is any lesson, that’s just a formality).
What a great way for the owners of forest land to hold title; the Commercial Forest designation comes with a 90% property tax exemption. Hold onto your land for 20 years at a 10% tax basis and then rezone it for residential use and sell it at full market value. But don’t thank us; it’s just another way residents of Mason County like to show Green Diamond their appreciation for not being allowed to purchase stock in their privately held company.  
So now on Dec. 11, 2012, the funeral comes to town for Lake Nahwatzel residents. Items 8.1 & 8.2 will come before the board for approval, along with item 8.5: a request to change 22.82 acres of LTCF owned by a Centralia company, Timber Services, Inc. I’ll be there, if only to pay my respects to another dying rural community. Will the new commissioner vote in favor of the people, or will she take the oath of office with a dead mouse in her pocket. Tat tvam asi- “Thou art that”.  

Well, it’s getting pretty close to Turkey time and I’ve worked up a powerful appetite. And believe it or not, there’s still a couple of folks out there willing to break bread and talk shop with an old anarchist.  "So powder your noise, Ma, and I’ll go hitch up the team; we’re headed into town. And don’t forget to bring the big martini glasses."

Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving.

Later…    

Thursday, November 22, 2012

THANKSGIVING 2012

mason county progressive
Graphic: www.earthday.org

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

DID ANONYMOUS SAVE US FROM MITT?

Submitted to Shelton Blog by John Cox    Mason County Progressive

Monday, November 19, 2012

SMACKED NO MATTER WHAT WE DID

Submitted to Shelton Blog by Becky Penoyar    Mason County Progressive


INSIDE THE HOSTESS BANKERY
 By bluebarnstormer

Wonder Bread runs deep in my family. I started at Interstate Bakeries in 1999 in Waterloo, Ia after the birth of my first daughter. I asked my father in law who to talk to for an interview. He had spent his entire adult life there, eventually retiring in 2007. His father drew retirement from the very same bakery. My wife and her sisters experienced a truly middle class Midwestern upbringing, complete with a safe home environment, college educations, and health insurance. He went to work everyday knowing he would be able to retire and draw his pension. He was even able to pass the job down to his son in law.

I love Wonder Bread. It has supported our family financially and medically for the last 14 years. When my wife wanted to attend graduate school we found a university near a bakery and moved to Lawrence, KS, home of the greatest basketball team in the history of ever. I will miss the overwhelming smell of baking bread and the friendships I built at both bakeries. Including with engineers, truck drivers, supervisors and managers who have also lost their jobs.

Many of them likely blame the Bakers Union, me. Most understand that this was inevitable. There has been no confidence in the leadership of this company at any level of any department for years. We have watched 6 CEO's come and go since 2002 and all of them left the company worse than when they took over. All of them got paid, not just the salaries they agreed to, but bonuses and increases all along the way. Including the current joker, who announced he was leaving with less than a year on the job, before he even submitted this last contract offer to us.

When I received my first paycheck from then Interstate Bakeries in 1999 it had a memo stapled to it. The memo announced that Wonder had just had the most productive quarter in baking history. It stated that the health of the company and brand had never been better. The break room was buzzing with excitement because our contract was soon to be up for renegotiation and this would surely mean smooth sailing. A few weeks later we got the 'oops' letter. Turns out it was all an 'accounting' error and the company was failing miserably.

Conveniently though, CEO Charles Sullivan and the board managed to sell their stock before word got out about the bad news. No jail time of course. In fact, Sullivan was brought back as a consultant after his resignation. Enron happened a few years later and at the bakery we were amazed how much attention they got compared to us.

The company of course used it's 'oops' letter to justify asking for concessions from the Union. We gave nothing and gained nothing that year after a 45 minute strike. The status quo continued and I proudly joined the middle class for the first time in my life. I made $14 an hour and had insurance. I even went on vacations for the first time. I had great pride in my job, and the products. We bought a new car for the first and only time in my life. In 2003 I transferred to the Lenexa, KS bakery.

In 2005 it was another contract year and this time there was no way out of concessions. The Union negotiated a deal that would save the company $150 million a year in labor. It was a tough internal battle to get people to vote for it. We turned it down twice. Finally the Union told us it was in our best interest and something had to give. So many of us, including myself, changed our votes and took the offer. Remember that next time you see CEO Rayburn on tv stating that we haven't sacrificed for this company. The company then emerged from bankruptcy. In 2005 before concessions I made $48,000, last year I made $34,000. My pay changed dramatically but at least I was still contributing to my self-funded pension.

In July of 2011 we received a letter from the company. It said that the $3+ per hour that we as a Union contribute to the pension was going to be 'borrowed' by the company until they could be profitable again. Then they would pay it all back. The Union was notified of this the same time and method as the individual members. No contact from the company to the Union on a national level.

This money will never be paid back. The company filed for bankruptcy and the judge ruled that the $3+ per hour was a debt the company couldn't repay. The Union continued to work despite this theft of our self-funded pension contributions for over a year. I consider this money stolen. No other word in the English language describes what they have done to this money.

After securing our hourly cash from the bankruptcy judge they set out on getting approval to force a new contract on us. They had already refused to negotiate outside of court. They received approval from the judge to impose the contract then turned it over to the Union for a vote. You read that right, they got it approved by the judge before ever showing to the Union.

What was this last/best/final offer? You'd never know by watching the main stream media tell the story. So here you go...


1) 8% hourly pay cut in year 1 with additional cuts totaling 27% over 5 years. Currently, I make $16.12 an hour at TOP rate of pay in the bakery. I would drop to $11.26 in 5 years.
2) They get to keep our $3+ an hour forever.
3) Doubling of weekly insurance premium.
4) Lowering of overall quality of insurance plan.
5) TOTAL withdrawal from ALL pensions. If you don't have it now then you never will.

Remember how I said I made $48,000 in 2005 and $34,000 last year? I would make $25,000 in 5 years if I took their offer.  It will be hard to replace the job I had, but it will be easy to replace the job they were trying to give me.


That $3+ per hour they steal totaled $50 million last year that they never paid us. They sold $2.5 BILLION in product last year. If they can't make this profitable without stealing my money then good riddance.

I keep hearing how this strike forced them to liquidate. How we should just take it and be glad to have a job. What an unpatriotic view point. The reason these jobs provided me with a middle class opportunity is because people like my father in law and his father fought for my Union rights. I received that pay and those benefits because previous Union members fought for them. I won't sell them, or my coworkers, out.

We may have forced the companies hand but they were going to smack us with it anyway.


Link to complete article:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/11/18/1162786/-Inside-the-Hostess-Bankery<

Sunday, November 18, 2012

SUPPORT WALMART WORKERS! BOYCOTT!


Graphic: nycga.net       Mason County Progressive

Friday, November 16, 2012

WEEK OF 11/12/12 MEETINGS IN REVIEW


TOM'S TALES FOR THE WEEK

Submitted to Shelton Blog by Tom Davis    Mason County Progressive
(Disclaimer:  After more than two years of attendance at County Commissioner Meetings, the author of this post can no longer be responsible for his comments, opinions or perceptions. The reader is forewarned that any of the information contained herein may be indiscernible from the political babble now indelibly etched on the author’s brain. Please read responsibly.)
Tuesday, November 12, 2012

9:00 AM: Regular session of Board of County Commissioners

There were 14 items on the agenda but only one worth talking about:

8.4 Approval to award $68,000 to the Mason County Economic Development Council from the Rural County Sales & Use Tax Fund (.09) in 2013 and 2014 for business retention, expansion, recruitment project and economic development planning, as allowed in RCW 82.14.370 and enter into an agreement.

In my opinion, giving $68,000 a year to the Mason County EDC is a waste of resources; I’d give them $34,000, but only if Matt Matayoshi washes every official County vehicle. When the community needed the EDC to step up, as was the case with the Shelton Hills Development, Matt was nowhere to be found. The man needs to break free of the political leash and reconnect with a good day’s work.  

The commissioners could have put this appropriation off until at least one new face took the oath of office, but that didn’t happen. The vote went down 3-0 in favor, and another $136,000 of public money went for dog-food.

Public hearing to consider the following 2012 budget adjustments:
(NOTE: the word “consider” should not be taken literally.)

9.1.1 Clerk - $15,000 supplemental appropriation in revenues from Auditor’s O&M transfer.
9.1.2 District Court - $26,300 budget transfer for juror and court expenses.
9.1.3 Probation - $5,450 budget transfer for re-classification approved on 8/21/12.
9.1.4 Sheriff/Jail - $189,000 budget transfer for jail overtime and medical expenses.
9.1.5 Courthouse Security - $11,000 budget transfer for unanticipated overtime expense.
9.1.6 Island Lake Mgmt Dist #1 - $2,000 supplemental appropriation for expenditures.
9.1.7 REET 1/Capital Improvement Fund - $115,000 budget transfer for modular jail cells.
9.1.8 Belfair Wastewater Fund - $3,761,000 supplemental appropriation due to unanticipated revenue/beginning fund balance and expenditures.
I won’t waste your time rattling on about each item, since only $231,750 will come out of the ending fund balance. But you should know that Item 9.1.5 was dropped from the budget the next day, and Item 9.1.8 authorizes the use of existing funds, not additional funds. (God forbid anyone should offer an explanation without having to be poked with a stick.)

FYI: I’m writing a book about my two years at County, Port and City Commission meetings titled, “We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Public", which brings me to the next meeting.

(Same day, same place)

10:30 AM: 2013 Board of County Commissioners Budget Workshop

For those of us who have watched Tim Sheldon's methodical gutting of public services, the day’s events came as no surprise.  For weeks, Candidate Sheldon brushed aside questions about the potential impact of the Teamster’s lawsuit on the 2013 budget (See “Tom’s Tales" 8/27/12). That was before the elections, now he can’t stop talking about it. And then there’s the $2,000,000 gap in anticipated revenues and budgeted expenditures.

And so the minutes ticked by while the public looked at the commissioners, the commissioners looked at each other, and the clock on the wall started to melt like in one of those Salvador Dali paintings. Then Tim Sheldon piped up: "Hey, what about an 8% across the board cut? Whoa, that was close. Okay, who wants pizza?"


Let’s do a little recap before the revisionists rollout the smoke machine: Sheldon spent the better part of the past four years championing millions in overruns for a sewer project that nearly broke the bank, and it’s not over yet. Then he racks up more losses by instigating a huge labor lawsuit that never had to happen, and tops it all off by digging in his heels on commissioner salaries we can’t afford. Never the blushing bride, Sheldon then suggests balancing the budget on the backs of an already overworked, underpaid staff. (And you wonder why I’m losing it.)  

It’s no secret Sheldon wanted to kick the labor lawsuit down the road by appealing the court ordered settlement, but the other two commissioners nixed that idea; at 12% accruing interest, it was the only sane thing to do. 


The next great idea was to let HR Director, Karen Jackson walk out the door over a couple of grand a year, which she so richly deserved, and bring in a negotiator at twice the price to threaten cutbacks and layoffs if the Teamsters didn’t back away from their court ordered settlement. That one didn’t work out either, and now they have to offer the same salary Ms. Jackson was requesting just to attract a replacement of similar caliber.

First you create a problem; then you transfer that problem onto others; then you limit workable solutions to the one you think will best leverage your position; then it all goes to crap; and then you tell everyone we need to move on. Why it’s freakin’ brilliant!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

10:00 AM Another County Commissioner Budget Workshop:
 

I don’t know what happened after I left yesterday’s meeting, but apparently Ring-Erickson and Bloomfield managed to meet with department heads and hammered out a deal without violating the open public meetings act. Good on you. When the dust settled, about $850,000 in cuts and $1,000,000 from 2012 budgeted returns seemed able to do the trick.

Here are the items being eliminated:
 

$35,000 for the Jail Nurse contract; $19,612 for a MACECOM fee increase; $11,000 for courthouse security overtime; $30,238 in benefits for commissioners (keep your eye on this one); $19,600 for WACO, WSAC & NACO dues; $75,000 for travel expenses; $10,000 for a clerk; $5000 each from H&R and Probation, and a whopping $700,000 (or so) from ER&R.

Total: Somewhere in the $850,000 to $910,000 range, depending on who squirrels out of the deal.

As for the $2M court ordered labor settlement: Long story short -- the County will make the payout in one lump sum, including cash in lieu of benefits, soon, very, very soon. Monies will come from Public Works and the Ending Fund Balance.

And there you have it folks, another massive Tim Sheldon, ego driven, out of your mind, couldn’t care less, look at me now brand screw-up, saved by the underpaid, overworked employees of Mason County.

Will this year never end?

Later…


Link to previous related post:
http://masoncountyprogressive.blogspot.com/2012/08/week-of-82712-meetings-in-review.html

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

SUPPORT WA I-522 TO LABEL GMO FOODS


SHELTON BLOG NOTE:             son County Progressive
Mason County Progressive
Link to information on how to support the Washington State Initiative (I-522) to label GMO foods (at least 241,153 valid signatures are needed by 12/31/12 to get I-522 on the ballot): http://masoncountyprogressive.blogspot.com/2012/09/yes-on-i-522-its-our-right-to-know.html

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

MA BIOMASS POWER PROJECT CANCELLED

Submitted to Shelton Blog by Tom Davis   Mason County Progressive

 

RUSSELL BIOMASS TERMINATES PROJECT
BY ANNA SIMET

Russell Biomass, a biomass power project under development in Russell, Mass., has been cancelled.

The 50 MW plant had been in the works since 2005. Its partners had successfully worked their way through a string of obstacles over the years, but were permanently halted by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources’ new renewable portfolio standard (RPS) regulations. In particular, a requirement calling for an increase in the minimum efficiency mandate of biomass power plants from 40 to 50 percent. Biomass plants now receive half a renewable energy credit upon reaching 50 percent efficiency, and one full credit beginning at 60 percent, feats which many argue is impossible for biomass plants.

“Under the final DOER regulations, the project is not technically and economically viable because of the required 50-percent efficiency, coupled with the new forest biomass fuel supply limitations,” said Russell Biomass partner John Bos. “We are unable to modify the plant design as permitted.”

In a letter that Russell Biomass sent to the city selectman chairman, it pointed out several reasons why the project could no longer go forward, which includes the need to obtain new permits; difficulties in finding year-round thermal energy requirements for long-term contracts; inability to be price competitive with on-shore wind energy due to lack of local and state support; increases in the cost of fuel delivery due to new forest waste wood physical and administrative limitations; and potential lenders and equity investors becoming risk-averse to financing almost any renewable energy project in Massachusetts because of the regulatory uncertainty.

The letter concludes that perhaps the most important consideration for the town of Russell going forward is, “how the site, now of little value, can be utilized to produce any meaningful tax value. A power project is inherently the type of project with the greatest taxable value.”


Link to complete article:
http://biomassmagazine.com/articles/8233/russell-biomass-terminates-project

Monday, November 12, 2012

Saturday, November 10, 2012

11/11 SECOND SUNDAY MOVIE SHOWING

Submitted to Shelton Blog by Bob Bottman    Mason County Progressive


SECOND SUNDAY MOVIE SERIES

HAPPY

This documentary film explores happiness by taking us from 
the bayous of Louisiana to the deserts of Namibia, from the
 beaches of Brazil to the villages of Okinawa. Along the way, 
HAPPY explores the secrets behind our most valued emotion.

Sunday, November 11th
at
Mason County Senior Activities Center
826 W. Railroad Ave., Shelton

at 
2:00 PM 
  
No admission is charged. Donations are encouraged 
with proceeds above license fees going to SOCK 
(Save Our County’s Kids) youth programs.

For more information:

Friday, November 9, 2012

WEEK OF 11/5/12 MEETINGS IN REVIEW


TOM'S TALES FOR THE WEEK

Submitted to Shelton Blog by Tom Davis    Mason County Progressive

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 
 

5:30 AM: Davis residence

A half empty bottle of Tequila and a pounding headache told me that Election Day was over and it is time to get up, throw up and move on. Clearly, the local results did not go as so many of us had hoped, and now faced with another four years of Tim Sheldon we must all now dig deep. As for the other two Commissioner Elects, time will bring to the surface their true natures.

Okay, enough of that, here now is the other news of the week:
 
Tuesday, November 6, 2012

9:00 AM: Regular session of Board of County Commissioners


At the public comment period Annette McGee asked the commissioners how much money will Mason County have to pay out for their 2009 screw up of labor negotiations, and where will that money come from?  (See "Tom’s Tales" 8/27/12)

Commissioner Ring-Erickson responded that the County continues to negotiate a resolution and that no set amount has been agreed upon, then added that any payout would likely come out of the General Fund. 

Item 8.5: Approval of Amendment #1 to the Interlocal Agreement Between Mason County Public Health and Thurston County to continue Dr. Yu's services as Mason County's Health Officer in the amount of $47,489 for 2013.

The arrangement between Mason County Public Health and Dr. Yu started back in 2005 with a contract that provided for four hours of professional medical officer services a week at a cost of about $18,000 a year. That contract has now blossomed into over $47,000 a year for one day a week of services.

But here’s the kick: Dr. Yu’s opinions seem more political than medical; her “White Paper” on the failed ADAGE biomass proposal stated that air quality in Mason County was “Good” and then went on to recommend how people could protect their health while being poisoned by a major source of industrial air pollution. In fact, nine and a half pages of the report were little more than boilerplate that any high school student with a computer and a thin conscience could have generated.

Two years later, now responding to why Mason County has the highest incidence of cancers in the state, Dr. Yu reversed her position on the quality of Mason County air, citing a higher level of particulate matter than other counties. She also thought only mortality rates from cancer should be counted. In other words, in Dr. Yu’s professional opinion, you have to be dead to count.

Item 8.10: Approval of the resolution amending the Non-Union Salary Range Alignment Table to reflect a salary range adjustment for the Human Resources Director from Range 39 to Range 43, or to Range 44. (NOTE: I don’t write this stuff; I just lift it from the agenda.)

Alright, let’s talk money: Salary range 39 is $70K - $83 a year; range 43 is $76K - $91K a year: and range 44 is $78K - $93K a year.

The yearly salary of Karen Jackson, the previous HR director who left (in part) because the County wouldn’t give her a raise, was about $80,000 a year. But the County soon realized they could not attract a replacement of Ms. Jackson’s caliber without increasing the salary by $10 to 20k a year. In the end, Commissioners Bloomfield and Sheldon voted to increase the salary range to 43; Commissioner Ring-Erickson dissented, on principle.

9.1 Public hearing to consider extending the moratorium on Collective Gardens (medical cannabis) for six months, expiring on May 8, 2013.

Commissioners voted unanimously to continue the moratorium on collective gardens for cultivating medical marijuana. The move was designed to sidestep having to deal with the possible passing of Initiative 502 which would (and did) allow for licensing and regulation of marijuana cultivation and distribution in the state. No member of the public spoke for or against the issue, leaving the lonely sound of an empty can being kicked down the road to echo off the chamber walls.    

2:00 PM: Port of Shelton Commission Meeting

In a battle of Bratwurst vs Brains, the combined talents of Commissioners Taylor and Wallitner may have the makings of a fine sandwich but little else. Here’s what’s happening:

Commissioners Taylor and Wallitner and Director Dobson, want to use borrowed money to fund future projects at the Port. Commissioner Hupp wants to fund the projects from the Port’s reserves.

There’s more to this story (there always is when the Port is involved), but the issue boils down to a philosophical approach to business: use your own money to fund your own projects or use borrowed money and risk an unknown economic future.    

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg; the real problem is whatever’s taking place between Dobson, Wallitner and Taylor while leaving Hupp out of the loop. The other two commissioners agree, Hupp has the experience and brainpower to keep the Port on solid financial footing, yet neither commissioner is inclined to follow his advice.   

I find this to be something of a mystery, especially since Dobson has done so little to facilitate economic growth. As a matter of fact, other than being a competent airport curator, I don’t know why anyone even listens to him. Tom Wallitner is an easier read; he follows the money, especially if he thinks some of it will wind up in his pocket. Dick Taylor, is a bit more complex, but only because he seems to be genuinely conflicted. I know Commissioner Taylor to be basically a good person, though I’m not too sure he’s all that able to follow the technical complexities involved in running an airport.

Not that anyone cares, but what I want is a complete independent audit of Port finances.  
 
Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s still half a bottle of Tequila sitting under my desk which I have every intention of reuniting with its brother.
     
Later…


Link to previous related post:
http://masoncountyprogressive.blogspot.com/2012/08/week-of-82712-meetings-in-review.html

Thursday, November 8, 2012

MAKE THEM DO IT!


Now the Work of Movements Begins
by Amy Goodman   

The election is over, and President Barack Obama will continue as the 44th president of the United States. There will be much attention paid by the pundit class to the mechanics of the campaigns, to the techniques of microtargeting potential voters, the effectiveness of get-out-the-vote efforts. The media analysts will fill the hours on the cable news networks, proffering post-election chestnuts about the accuracy of polls, or about either candidate’s success with one demographic or another. Missed by the mainstream media, but churning at the heart of our democracy, are social movements, movements without which President Obama would not have been re-elected.

President Obama is a former community organizer himself. What happens when the community organizer in chief becomes the commander in chief? Who does the community organizing then? Interestingly, he offered a suggestion when speaking at a small New Jersey campaign event when he was first running for president. Someone asked him what he would do about the Middle East. He answered with a story about the legendary 20th-century organizer A. Philip Randolph meeting with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Randolph described to FDR the condition of black people in America, the condition of working people. Reportedly, FDR listened intently, then replied: “I agree with everything you have said. Now, make me do it.” That was the message Obama repeated.

There you have it. Make him do it. You’ve got an invitation from the president himself.

For years during the Bush administration, people felt they were hitting their heads against a brick wall. With the first election of President Obama, the wall had become a door, but it was only open a crack. The question was, Would it be kicked open or slammed shut? That is not up to that one person in the White House, no matter how powerful. That is the work of movements.

Ben Jealous is a serious organizer with a long list of accomplishments, and a longer list of things to get done, as the president and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. 2013, he notes, is a year of significant anniversaries, among them the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, as well as the 50th anniversaries of the assassination of Medgar Evers and the Birmingham, Ala., church bombing that killed four young African-American girls. President Obama’s 2013 Inauguration will occur on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Jealous told me on election night, as Mitt Romney was about to give his concession speech, “We have to stay in movement mode."

Young immigrants are doing just that.  Undocumented students, getting arrested in sit-ins in politicians’ offices, are the modern-day civil-rights movement. There are other vibrant movements as well, like Occupy Wall Street, like the fight for marriage equality, which won four out of four statewide initiatives on Election Day. In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, and despite the enormous resources expended by the fossil-fuel industry to cloud the issue, climate change and what to do about it is now a topic that President Obama hints he will address, saying, in his victory address in election night, “Democracy in a nation of 300 million can be noisy and messy and complicated. ..We want our children to live in an America that isn’t burdened by debt, that isn’t weakened by inequality, that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.”

It was pressure from grass-roots activists protesting in front of the White House that pushed Obama to delay a decision on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, proposed to run from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. More than 1,200 people were arrested at a series of protests at the White House one year ago. Now a group is blocking the construction of the southern leg of that pipeline, risking arrest and even injury, with direct-action blockades in tree-sits and tripods in Winnsboro, Texas, two hours east of Dallas.

When those who are used to having the president’s ear whisper their demands to him in the Oval Office, if he can’t point out the window and say, “If I do as you ask, they will storm the Bastille,” if there is no one out there, then he is in big trouble. That’s when he agrees with you.  What about when he doesn’t?

The president of the United States is the most powerful person on Earth. But there is a force more powerful: People organized around this country, fighting for a more just, sustainable world. Now the real work begins.

Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 1,100 stations in North America. She was awarded the 2008 Right Livelihood Award, dubbed the “Alternative Nobel” prize, and received the award in the Swedish Parliament in December.


Link to complete article:
http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/11/08-9

Monday, November 5, 2012

TO THOSE NOT VOTING THIS ELECTION


Letter to a Non-Voter
By Michael Moore

To my friend who is not voting on Tuesday:

 

I get it – and I don't blame you. You're fed up and you could care less whether Tweedledee or Tweedledumber wins on Tuesday – because on Wednesday, your life will be the same, unchanged, regardless who is president. Your mortgage will still be underwater. You will still owe $50,000 on your student loan. Your son will still be in Afghanistan. Your daughter will still be working two jobs to make ends meet. And gas will still be at $4. 



Four years ago you gave in and voted – and you voted for Obama. You wanted to believe he would go after the Wall Street crooks who crashed the economy – but instead the banks that were "too big to fail" four years ago are now even bigger and more dangerous. You thought there'd be universal health care – but the new law only went so far (with most of it not taking effect until 2014). You were tired of war and homeland security measures that violated our civil liberties – but we're still in Afghanistan, we're sending in drones to Pakistan and basic constitutional rights to privacy and a fair trial have been ignored. And you thought you'd have a middle-class, good-paying job like your dad had – but you didn't know that Goldman Sachs was Obama's #1 private campaign donor in 2008, and well, he was beholden to corporate America in more ways we cared to think about. 

 

So, I get it why you've had it with all these politicians and elections. In the end, it doesn't really seem to be our country any more. It's run by those who can buy the most politicians to do their bidding. Our schools are made a low priority and women are still having to fight for just the basic human rights we thought they already had.

 

So, it's hard for me to ask you for this very personal favor. It's OK if you say "no," but I'm hoping you don't. 



I cannot believe it is possible that, after a group of rich plutocrats wrecked the economy, threw people out of work and stole our future, we may actually hand the keys to our country over to...a rich Republican plutocrat who made millions by throwing people out of work! This is insane, and despite all the legitimate criticisms of Obama, he is nothing like the tsunami of hate and corporate thievery that will take place if Mitt Romney is president. As bad as it feels now, it will only get worse. I need your help to stop this.

 

I can't promise you that your life will get better, easier under Barack Obama. I do think he cares and I know for sure that if the other guy is sitting in the Oval Office, I can guarantee you that not only will your life not get better, it will get much, much worse. Don't take my word for it. Just ask your parents what life was like before a 30-year pillage by the Republicans of the middle class. Your parents bought a house and eventually owned it outright. They weren't in debt. College was free. They bought a new car every 3 or 4 years. They took vacations and were home for dinner by 5 or 6 PM. They had a savings account in the bank. They didn't live in fear of not knowing if they'd even have a job next year. 

 

That's all gone. I don't know if we can get it back, but I do know that Mr. Romney would love the chance to complete the final elimination of the middle class and the American Dream. 

 

He must be stopped. Take 20 minutes on Tuesday and go vote. If you don't want to do it for your country, then do it for me! It's the only favor I'll ever ask of you.

 

Thanks for taking the time to read this. I know that you care, and care deeply, about your future and your kids' future. You have every right to be cynical about all this. And you hold the power to stop the bastards who plan on squeezing every last dime out of you that they can. Take a stand. And make a statement to those who are hoping against hope that you'll stay home on Tuesday. Your presence at the polls is what they fear most. 



Go scare the s**t out of them! For me.

Yours,
Michael Moore

www.michaelmoore.com

Sunday, November 4, 2012

DEMAND THAT GMO FOODS GET LABELLED

Submitted to Shelton Blog by Pat Jerrells
  Mason County Progressive

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

California Religious Leaders support Prop 37— Labeling of Genetically Modified Foods

Christian, Jewish, and Hindu faith leaders are urging their congregations to vote for Proposition 37, which would require labeling of genetically modified foods sold in California. Several clergy appear in videotaped interviews www.faithandgmos.com. There are many reasons why religious leaders support labeling.

Widespread religious enthusiasm for Prop 37 has been expected. Not only do 91% of Americans want GMOs labeled, religious bodies around the world have long supported mandatory labeling, which is already enjoyed by the people of about 50 countries. Some religious bodies go further. The current policy on genetics of the World Council of Churches, for example, calls on people to “Build partnerships with civil society, peoples’ movements, farmers and indigenous peoples to oppose genetic engineering in agriculture.”


Christian Faith Leaders


The United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church USA
, and a study committee of the Evangelical Lutheran Church have all called for genetically engineered foods to be labeled.  The California Council of Churches is an endorser to Prop 37. And the World Council of Churches, an ecumenical body made up of more than 300 denominations from around the world, warned that the failure to label is a special kind of lying. They write: “…the refusal to allow the labeling of GMOs is itself a hiding of the truth, but also makes it impossible to ensure the integrity of the trade in food.” In their 2006 statement on Caring For Life, the Council urged its members to fight for labeling for the health and well-being of this and future generations.

Rev. Lyndon Harris
, the Los Angeles based Episcopal Priest who was in charge of St. Paul’s Chapel across the street from the World Trade Center, points out that “the Global Anglican Communion has come out against Genetically Modified Organisms.” The General Convention of the Episcopal Church “support(s) the rights of consumers to know the source and content of their food stuffs,” and Rev. Harris agrees. “We have a right to know. I am encouraging all involved to work to have GMOs labeled—Proposition 37 in the state of California.”

Rev. Harris, who ran a rescue operation after the World Trade Center attack, also has several concerns “about the proliferation about GMOs in our food supply.”  He says, “If the science, as it indicates, is true, there are serious risks for consuming genetically modified organisms.” Rev. Harris avoids buying GMOs and shares his concerns with others, “especially people who are having illness and disease.”


He is concerned about the mixing of genes between plants and animals, and about the lack of safety studies conducted on GMOs before they are placed into our diet. “It’s one thing to experiment,” he says, but “quite another thing to introduce genetically modified organisms GMOs into the food supply without giving due lab testing.”


Rev. Dr. Dudley D. Chapman, pastor of the Greater Community Missionary Baptist church in Pacoima, California
, doesn’t think it’s fair to give people food without disclosing what’s in it. He says, “I would vote for putting a GMO label on the can, the bottle, on whatever you are eating so you have a choice.” From a religious perspective, he says, “We definitely and positively want truth. And to be untrue to me, and not telling me what I’m eating, is definitely a sin.” Beyond labeling, Rev. Chapman, like many other Christian leaders, opposes the practice of genetically engineering our food from a religious perspective. “It’s abominable,” he says. “I like the way God made the stuff in the first place.  It’s just right.  … Everything is so well organized and so well fixed, that hey, why fix what’s already working.” To his congregation, he says, “if there’s any way possible, you should get there to vote to make sure food is labeled when they have GMO ingredients in it. I will vote YES on Prop 37."

Reverend Peter H. Rood of the Holy Nativity Episcopal Church in Westchester, CA
, says, “We have to be informed…. I intend to vote yes on Prop 37.” He invites those in his religious community to do the same. Rev. Rood is also concerned about the lack of awareness about GMOs in general, and is predisposed against the use of genetically engineered foods as a whole. “It takes my breath away when I think about how many folks in my congregation have no idea.” He adds, “It means as a pastor, I’m just going to have to educate all the more to raise consciousness and have folks be active in taking responsibility to stand against this practice.”

Jewish Faith Leaders


Rabbi Elihu Gevirtz
says that when tomatoes, corn and other fruits and vegetables are produced with genes from pork or shellfish or scorpions, which are not kosher, he needs the foods labeled as GMO in order to avoid them. “If you can’t trust the food that you eat, how can you take care of your children?  Labeling food as GMO enables us to make a conscious choice about the content of our food.”   He also says, “The Torah tells us clearly not to put different species together. GMOs are dangerous spiritually.  They are a symptom of a spiritual crisis for humanity in which we have overstepped our boundaries. It is not humanity's role to create new species; it is God's.”
 

Hindu Faith Leaders

Swami Ishwarananda, from Chinmaya Mission in Los Angeles
, believes that genetic engineering interferes with the natural food that is made by God. As such, “It’s not good for the body.” The Swami says the ancient Vedic practice of Ayurvedic medicine “starts with the right kind of food.” But with genetic engineering, “when certain such modifications in the very structure of the food is done, we have no clue about whether it is the right thing to eat at all or not.” He considers GMOs to be dangerous to health and advises his congregation, “Please do not consume them.”  For that,” he says, “labeling is a must. We should support that proposition[37].”

For original sources: http://www.faithandgmos.org


Media Contact:
Laurie Cohen Peters

lauriecohenpeters@yahoo.com

Thank you,
Institute for Responsible Technology Food Policy Fund
www.responsibletechnology.org


SHELTON BLOG NOTE:  Mason County Progressive

Link to information about how to support the Washington State Initiative (I-522) to label GMO foods:
http://masoncountyprogressive.blogspot.com/2012/09/yes-on-i-522-its-our-right-to-know.html

Saturday, November 3, 2012

BIG BOX MART SAGA

Submitted to Shelton Blog by John Gunter      Mason County Progressive


SHELTON BLOG NOTE:

Link to previous related post "Our Middle Class Is Disappearing":
http://masoncountyprogressive.blogspot.com/2012/10/our-middle-class-is-disappearing.html

Friday, November 2, 2012

A RUDE REMINDER FROM THE BOCC


TOM'S TALES FOR THE WEEK

Submitted to Shelton Blog by Tom Davis       Mason County Progressive

There was no Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) briefing or meeting this week, but there’s still a lot to be said about the events of last week.
 
What happened was a rude reminder that Mason County Commissioners are deliberately misleading the public. There have been many examples of callousness toward citizen concerns, but pretending to consider rolling back commissioner salaries and then not doing so marked a new low and here’s why:
   
In no other position is it permissible to engage in activities unrelated to one’s duties and still claim full compensation, but that is exactly what occurs with Mason County Commissioners; feathering your own nest and currying favor with special interest is not what we pay commissioners to do.


Tim Sheldon says we need to keep commissioner pay high to attract talented people, but that is just a ruse to inflate his own salary and future retirement benefits. The question we should be asking is do we really want to attract people to public office because it pays well? I don’t think so. We need people who come to serve, not be served. County Commissioners should make a living wage, but this is the public sector, where service and sacrifice is the proper measure of good governance, not high salaries. As it stands, many of the highest paid positions in the County are in local government.

Is $96,655 in salary and benefits too high compensation for a Mason County Commissioner? The answer is yes and no. No, if there is only one commissioner, but yes, if you have three people doing the same job, as is the case here. Based on duty mandates and local conditions, yearly salary plus benefits for a Mason County Commissioner should not exceed $68,000, or about one and a half times the local median household income. 


If any elected official thinks they deserve a salary over twice that of the people they serve, let them go to the private sector and leave the noble premise of public service to people who really believe in it.

Finally: Tim Sheldon has made a career out of burning the same party bridge over and over again. A risk-taker, though not in the usual sense, Sheldon walks a thin line between duty and improbity, daring anyone to challenge his authority, and manipulating the local political process to turn government against itself. 
 

Sheldon likes to think of himself as something of a “maverick”, and there’s little doubt that he’s strayed far from the herd. But it’s not like Tim Sheldon is out there by himself fighting the good fight for God and Community; he simply roams back to his own herd from time to time and thumbs his nose across the aisle. Be that as it may, there is little doubt Mr. Sheldon has long ago bought into his own snow-job.
 

No matter the results of the current election, there are those who will continue to fight for better representation at the local level. Admittedly, the job would be easier if we did not have to battle through another four years of Tim Sheldon, but history tells us there is no shortage of political power ponies trying to pull down the tent, so we might as well get used to it.  

Later…  


Thumbing Your Nose Pin: tace.com