Sunday, July 27, 2014

Fables: The Wolf and The Kid


   THERE was once a little Kid whose growing horns made him think he was a grown-up Billy Goat and able to take care of himself. So one evening when the flock started home from the pasture and his mother called, the Kid paid no heed and kept right on nibbling the tender grass. A little later when he lifted his head, the flock was gone.

He was all alone. The sun was sinking. Long shadows came creeping over the ground. A chilly little wind came creeping with them making scary noises in the grass. The Kid shivered as he thought of the terrible Wolf. Then he started wildly over the field, bleating for his mother. But not half-way, near a clump of trees, there was the Wolf!

The Kid knew there was little hope for him.

"Please, Mr. Wolf," he said trembling," I know you are going to eat me. But first please pipe me a tune, for I want to dance and be merry as long as I can."

The Wolf liked the idea of a little music before eating, so he struck up a merry tune and the Kid leaped and frisked gaily.



Meanwhile, the flock was moving slowly homeward. In the still evening air the Wolf's piping carried far. The Shepherd Dogs pricked up their ears. They recognized the song the Wolf sings before a feast, and in a moment they were racing back to the pasture. The Wolf's song ended suddenly, and as he ran, with the Dogs at his heels, he called himself a fool for turning piper to please a Kid, when he should have stuck to his butcher's trade.

Do not let anything turn you from your purpose.

Sales tax rate map released for California

Sales tax rate map released for California

The state Board of Equalization released a sales tax rate map on Thursday allowing California residents to view tax rates across the state.
The map is organized by color, with varying shades or green, yellow and red representing different tax rates.
“California has more than 200 sales tax rate jurisdictions, which can be confusing for taxpayers,” Board of Equalization member George Runner said in a written statement. “Our new map provides a picture of these rates and should serve as a helpful visual aid for taxpayers.”
The map is complemented by the Board’s tax rate lookup tool that enables taxpayers to find a sales tax rate for a specific address.
The highest sales tax rate in California is 10 percent in the cities of La Mirada, Pico Rivera and South Gate in Los Angeles County.
Visit for more information on California sales taxes, including the latest county and city rates.

Meet the worst transit project in America

With Detroit suffering from massive population loss and an inability to keep up its basic infrastructure (see the water crisis, or the city's many non-functioning traffic lights) it certainly seems odd to be spending tens of millions of dollars on a short new streetcar line. But while Jim Epstein's Reason article asking "Is Detroit's New Light Rail Line America's Greatest Boondoggle?" raises many good points about the project, the sad reality is that it's not even close to being the most egregious boondoggle going. The current fad for streetcar construction is actually bequeathing quite a large number of terrible projects to the country. And the very worst of these — like Washington, DC's maybe-opening-soon streetcar line — aren't just expensive, they actually make mass transit worse. And bad transit helps trap poor people in poverty.
The original sin of every bad streetcar program is this: it doesn't have a dedicated lane.
Without a dedicated lane, a streetcar can't really run much faster than a bus under ideal conditions. And since unlike a bus, a streetcar can't shift out of its lane to avoid an obstacle, in real-world circumstances it's likely to move slower than a bus. There are some objectives related to real estate development and tourism that this kind of project can serve, but they're nearly useless in terms of transportation.

But wait — it gets worse

The DC Streetcar plan (DDOT)
The thing about adding a slower-than-a-bus new vehicle to the curb lane of a street is that not only is it expensive it slows the buses down. In a case like Detroit where the city doesn't have serious traffic congestion this isn't necessarily an issue.
But in Washington and other cities where buses struggle with rush hour traffic, slowing them down is a problem. Of course, slower buses aren't a problem in cases where a new streetcar fully replaces an existing bus line. But, again, consider the case of the DC Streetcar. Along its very limited route it replicates the path of the existing X2 bus line, slowing it down. But rather than following the X2 deep into the Central Business District, the streetcar line will simply stop near Union Station. Consequently, for a person seeking to commute from the H Street area to downtown or for a downtown worker trying to head to H Street's bars and restaurants after work, the existence of the Streetcar will make mass transit slower and less convenient. That's a hard trick to pull off, but they've managed it.

To improve transit, smash the car lobby

Dedicated bus lane in Barcelona, Spain (Andrew Nash)
Mass transit advocates don't like it when people harp on the failings of high-profile transit projects. But the very worst of these projects are so bad that they actually make transit worse. More broadly, nobody is worse-served by wasting resources on bad projects than transit riders themselves. The problem is that securing funding for a boondoggle often seems more politically realistic than the harder problem of tackling the entrenched interests of (heavily subsidized) frequent car drivers.
The only way to make a new surface rail project work is for it to have its own dedicated lane over significant portions of its route. To achieve that requires seizing road space from drivers and allocating it to transit instead.
And of course the same trick — dedicated lanes — works to greatly improve bus service. Given a dedicated lane, the question of whether the additional benefits of streetcar are worth the price tag is an interesting debate. But absent dedicated space for transit, filling the road with mixed-traffic streetcars is at best a waste and at worst a disaster that will actually slow existing transit down.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Saturday Night Videos

LOVE JAPAN from David Anthony Parkinson on Vimeo.

Dear Guardians - A Burning Man Short Film from Ian MacKenzie on Vimeo.

Numbers from Robert Hloz on Vimeo.

SKIN from Tom Gould on Vimeo.

Duke Dumont - Won't Look Back (Directors Cut) from Tim & Joe on Vimeo.

The Adobe Illustrator Story from Terry Hemphill on Vimeo.

Oxyde Noir - Alabaster (vapor mix) from oxyde noir on Vimeo.

MUSIC NATION - SOAP THE STAMPS from Jim Demuth on Vimeo.

NOT MINE from Guy Trefler on Vimeo.

In Turkey - 2014 from Vincent Urban on Vimeo.

THE SPACE WITHIN from Dark Rye on Vimeo.

Drifters from ethan clarke on Vimeo.

Oceans and Castles from Benjamin Dowie on Vimeo.

The Story of a Story from BRIKK on Vimeo.

[BRDG017] Dream Land from BRDG on Vimeo.

Iconic Houses from Matteo Muci on Vimeo.

Buy Buy Baby from Gervart on Vimeo.

The advertisement in the SF Chronicle could apply equally well to the Marinwood CSD

For years and years the previous Marinwood CSD board has approved of Cash on Cash accounting as is described in the above advertisement.  Government is required to used modified Accrual account which more accurately reflects the financial position.  This has lead to massive miscalculation of liabilities and several mid year "surprises".  Total pension and healthcare liabilities are also not accounted for.  Our pool equipment, pool house and maintenance shed have had years of deferred maintenance and little capital has been set aside to replace equipment. The new CSD directors Justin Kai, Deana Dearborn and Bill Shea are committed to improving the financial situation but it will take years to sort out. Bill Hansel also has sought streamlining of Park and Recreation services.

In the coming months, we will hire a new CSD Manager to replace retiring Tom Horne and we will begin negotiations with our Fireman's Union.  A new costly Fire Truck is proposed but leasing is our only option. 

You can attend the CSD board meetings the second Tuesday of every month at the Marinwood Community Center at 775 Miller Creek Rd.

California drought: 'Water cops' being hired by Bay Area agencies to root out water waste

California drought: 'Water cops' being hired by Bay Area agencies to root out water waste

Santa Clara Water District Considers Hiring 'Water Cops' To...
CBS San Francisco

The Santa Clara Valley Water District will consider spending $500,000 Tuesday to hire "water cops" to help enforce water use restrictions. (7/22/14)


It's about to get more difficult to go unnoticed if your sprinklers are watering the street more than your lawn.
California's worsening drought and mandatory new state water rules are prompting Bay Area water agencies to beef up their conservation staffs -- the employees sometimes called "water cops."

Only a few cities, including Santa Cruz and Sacramento, have resorted to writing tickets or issuing fines. But most others are simply responding to complaints by sending
employees to homes and businesses with a stern warning, and sometimes a door hanger.

"The bottom line is that we are just not getting the results we would like to see for water reduction," said Joan Maher, deputy operating officer for the Santa Clara Valley Water District.

(Rich Pedroncelli / AP)
On Tuesday, the district's board will vote on whether to spend $500,000 to hire up to 10 new temporary employees to help enforce water use prohibitions across Silicon Valley.
If the proposal is approved, as expected, the workers would respond in person to complaints about property owners wasting water. They also would send the information to whichever of the 12 cities or private companies sends the property owner their bill.
Few Bay Area cities have begun to impose fines yet for wasting water, but if they eventually do, they could use the information to write tickets.

In February the Santa Clara Valley Water District asked its 1.8 million customers in the county to cut water use by 20 percent compared with last year, but so far, none of its retailer providers has met that goal. Palo Alto and Mountain View conserved the most, with a 17 percent reduction each, and the countywide total is a 12 percent reduction.
Similarly, in the East Bay, the East Bay Municipal Utility District in Oakland hired a new outreach person this week, and another starts next week, said district spokeswoman Abby Figueroa.

They will join nine other East Bay MUD staff members who help do free water audits at homes and business, look for leaks and tell property owners when they are violating the district's and state's water wasting rules.

"We have a backlog with water wasting complaints," Figueroa said. "We're getting calls about runoff, broken sprinklers, people washing cars too much. Everyone is hearing all the media reports and talking about drought a lot. The news definitely got people's attention."

» Living with California's drought: Check out for news and tips
In February, East Bay MUD asked its 1.3 million customers in Alameda and Contra Costa counties to voluntarily reduce water use by 10 percent. Between Feb. 1 and May 31, they achieved that 10 percent savings. But it is still below the 20 percent savings that Gov. Jerry Brown requested statewide in January when he declared a drought emergency as the state moved into its third dry year.

Figueroa said the agency has no plans this year to issue fines to people violating its rules or new rules passed last week by the State Water Resources Control Board that ban washing cars without a nozzle on the hose, spraying down pavement, watering landscaping so much that it runs into streets and running ornamental fountains without recirculating systems.
"We've been conserving. Our total system storage is in good shape compared to other districts," she said. "And we brought in additional supplies. That's getting us through the summer."

At an Aug. 12 board meeting, the district is expected to pass rules limiting lawn watering to two or three days a week.

Contra Costa Water District, which requested a 15 percent voluntary reduction, has no plans for fines. It has eight outreach employees and enough budget to hire two more if needed, said district spokeswoman Jennifer Allen.

The Bay Area's largest water district, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which provides water to 2.6 million people in San Francisco, San Mateo, north Santa Clara and southern Alameda counties through the Hetch Hetchy system, is planning to either hire or reassign six employees to respond to water wasting complaints, and look for violations.
The agency is considering in the next few weeks imposing fines on San Francisco residents who waste water, with a warning for first violations, said Steve Ritchie, its assistant general manager.

"Penalties are the last resort. But we are definitely keeping that option on the table," he said. "It's important that we have that as a tool."

Some Bay Area residents are surprised that there aren't more areas issuing fines, as city officials in Sacramento, Santa Cruz and other communities have done for flagrant water wasting.

"Nobody wants to be seen as fining people, but what we are doing isn't enough," said Peter Gleick, executive director for the Pacific Institute, an Oakland nonprofit group that studies water usage.

"Maybe we'll muddle through this year and we'll be lucky and next year will be wet," he said. "But if not, we're in a deep, deep hole and voluntary will be off the table. We will be talking about things like mandatory removal of lawns, and per-capita rationed amounts."

Paul Rogers covers resources and environmental issues. Contact him at 408-920-5045 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 408-920-5045 FREE  end_of_the_skype_highlighting. Follow him at

Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday Night Music: Black eyed Peas mix

Socialists Are Cheaters, Says New Study

Socialists Are Cheaters, Says New Study

"The longer individuals were exposed to socialism, the more likely they were to cheat on our task," according to a new study, "The (True) Legacy of Two Really Existing Economic Systems," from Duke University and the University of Munich. The team of researchers concluded this after working with 259 participants from Berlin who grew up on opposite sides of the infamous wall.
When playing a dice game that could earn them €6 ($8), subjects originally from the East, which was for four decades under socialist rule, were more likely than their market economy counterparts in West to lie about how they fared. The Economist explains the task:
The game was simple enough. Each participant was asked to throw a die 40 times and record each roll on a piece of paper. A higher overall tally earned a bigger payoff. Before each roll, players had to commit themselves to write down the number that was on either the top or the bottom side of the die. However, they did not have to tell anyone which side they had chosen, which made it easy to cheat by rolling the die first and then pretending that they had selected the side with the highest number. If they picked the top and then rolled a two, for example, they would have an incentive to claim—falsely—that they had chosen the bottom, which would be a five.
The results were that "East Germans cheated twice as much as West Germans overall," leaving the researchers to conclude the "the political regime of socialism has a lasting impact on citizens' basic morality."
The paper discusses some potentially related reasons for the outcome, such as the fact that
socialist systems have been characterized by extensive scarcity, which ultimately led to the collapse of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) in East Germany. In many instances, socialism pressured or forced people to work around official laws. For instance, in East Germany stealing a load of building materials in order to trade it for a television set might have been the only way for a driver of gravel loads to connect to the outside world. Moreover, socialist systems have been characterized by a high degree of infiltration by the intelligence apparatus.
The Duke-Munich team positions their work against a 2013 study, "Of Morals, Markets and Mice," which concluded "that market economies decay morals" but "compared decisions in bilateral and multilateral market settings to individual decisions rather than an alternative economic allocation mechanism." The new research finds that "political and economic regimes such as socialism might have an even more detrimental effect on individuals’ behavior."
In another aspect of the study, the researchers note that "we did not observe an overall difference between East and West Germans in pro-social behavior," such as donating to hospitals, the capitalist-influenced demographic does, in fact, donate marginally more.

Klamath River Basin Dam Removal Whistle Blower, Dr. Paul R. Houser PhD

Water Bonds are being created for California's November election to DESTROY THE KLAMATH RIVER DAMS while "saving" the San Joaquin Valley. These bonds pit one agricultural community against the other … while only a few will WIN in the bitter end. THIS IS ABSOLUTELY UNNECESSARY. The government is creating in-fighting by exacerbating issues into crises instead of creating a WIN WIN for all.

The public is being told that Four CLEAN GREEN RENEWABLE HYDRO ENERGY dams on the Klamath River (and their water storage reservoirs behind the dams used for eco-systems, recreation, flood control, fire suppression, agriculture, and burial grounds for the Shasta Tribe) need to be destroyed to save a fish that is only "endangered" in California but swims in plethora throughout colder areas of the world. 
This destroy-the-dams-plan is a scam. Federal scientists have been fired for speaking out against the "science" used to push forward this agenda.

The destruction of these California dams and reservoirs will devastate tens of thousands who live in the Klamath River basin including the farming and ranching community of Siskiyou County - everyone in California will be impacted…especially as MORE stored water is needed during droughts and fire season and less water should be wasted out to sea. Furthermore, Southern California receives water from the North…as SoCal continues to water lawns, fountains, swimming pools and more…we fight for our lives in Siskiyou County.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

The 'spinning' of Marin's commute numbers

Marin Voice: The 'spinning' of Marin's commute numbers

By Randy Warren

Controversy surrounds "in-commuters." The League of Women Voters of Marin County, admitting it wears two hats, advocates that 60,000 workers commute here daily.
Other sources say 40,000.

Both numbers come from competing government methodologies.

League leaders insists their number is the reliable one, as stated in their own report. But like the NRA and other groups, the league's advocacy hat spins data beyond credibility.
Its report, "Dispelling the Myths Surrounding Affordable Housing," twists data to the point of creating, rather than dispelling, myths.

By example, the report claims a Washington, D.C. report found non-profit managed properties cause no increase in crime. But that report actually doesn't mention nonprofits; it only addresses big buildings vs. small buildings.

The league can spin it all it wants, but cannot reasonably say this is proof that affordable housing does not increase crime.

My point, however, is not crime, but reliability of league advocacy.

Among "myths" it claims to dispel is that affordable housing lowers property values. The league cites yet another report. Problem again: The cited report expanded the radius until home values flattened out. Specifically, 90 percent of houses surveyed were not even within a quarter-mile of the project. 
Nor did that report break out the impacts on just the ground zero homeowners.
Making this property value survey even more irrelevant (if possible), it covered home sales only between 1987 and 1992. Homeowner data was so old that Ronald Reagan was president and few people had heard of something called e-mail.

The league's report that fails to disclose "myths" was largely authored by the chairperson of a $1 billion nonprofit housing company. That clear conflict of interest should have been disclosed in the report.

With "Myths" full of pratfalls, do we hear retractions? Apologies? No, perhaps like the NRA would do, the league doubles down, claiming its report is golden and that 60,000 workers really commute into Marin daily.

I tend to doubt it. 
The Longitudinal Employment and Housing Dynamics numbers the league relies heavily on unemployment benefits claims. That is data of employees who lost their jobs, rather than present commuters. By implication, it overlooks the self-employed, contract employees and those who don't change jobs. 
Even if 60,000 workers commute into Marin, a philosophy of "Build, Baby, Build" will not work here. We have only 100,000 residences and little water. To house even half these claimed commuters, 20,000 to 30,000 more homes need to be built in Marin. 
Not going to happen.

To distract us, housing advocates say building will be much smaller.

Well here is the news: On a smaller scale, you don't fix the problem you claim exists.
The recent Larkspur plan was 920 units. If 20 percent were affordable and commuters had moved in those units, that gargantuan project would have fixed a tiny 0.3 percent of the problem.

Symbolic gestures solve nothing but guilt.

There are people who will commute for the right opportunity. Move them to San Rafael or Larkspur, they may take San Francisco jobs now that they live closer. Legally, we can't force them to work here.

Further, when someone commutes to Marin, it is because equivalent employment is unavailable near their home. 

If we move them into Marin, their old homes get new residents. Why would those new residents not also take jobs in Marin for the very same reasons?

Meet the new commuter, same as the old commuter.

Randy Warren is a San Rafael lawyer who has been involved in the debate over local housing plans. He ran for San Rafael City Council in 2013.

Richard Hall objects to Supervisor's use of misleading Statistics, Distortions and Lack of Civic Engagement with the Voters.


I wanted to follow up my comments from this morning with some factual references, and comments I did not have time to cover.


We need an honest conversation about transportation. Supervisor Adams spoke today of bike paths as reducing commute traffic, together this and the argument of reducing greenhouse gases is also frequently used to justify spending millions, but the facts do not support these arguments. 

The NTPP Congressional Report appendix notes that $28m was spent on Marin's bike paths, but the bike counts clearly show usage is not just in the weeds (tiny compared to freeway counts of 15,000 cars per hour with 1.67 occupants per vehicle)

Look at table 2 in this US Census data specific to Marin commuting, this clarifies that there has not been any "significant change" in terms of switching from car to bike commuting:

The walk-bike Marin counts show tiny figures, see the weekday bike counts on page 23:

It is important that while you are frequently engaged by the bicycle coalition, who are well funded with professional paid attendees who meet with you and speak at events, that you maintain balance by understanding the facts and the needs of people. Many (most) of those people simply cannot reasonably switch their commute from cars to bikes for practical reasons (distance, traveling with kids, physical health, available time...)


Please engage with us more. While you have especially strong influence as an MTC Commissioner, you are not being observed to engage as effectively as many would like. You are seen to leave meetings immediately after they adjourn. You do not respond to emails or invitations to meet. At a town hall meeting last year where many shared concerns you supported a vocal crowd outside who were accusing those with valid concerns of being "racists". Many are starting to conclude that your tactic to deal with any opposing your views is to antagonize - if so I would ask that you reconsider the effectiveness of such an approach.
Please help support preserving and improving the quality of life for those who use the Richmond San Rafael Bridge everyday. While the accomplishment of completing a bike route may appeal, it is far more important that you maintain perspective that adding a third lane during commute will help save many combined lifetimes for drivers both crossing the bridge, or simply affected by the 101 backups. Tens of thousands cross that bridge each day or are affected indirectly by the backups, each could save minutes each day with appropriate traffic alleviation. By comparison during commute one might at best see perhaps 0.1% of that volume commute across the bridge by bike.

When I say "we", I refer to others like myself who seek an honest dialog to preserve the quality of life in Marin, to base this on facts, and the representation of residents. I believe the election has helped make it clear just how many are concerned by quality of life issues that are exacerbated through a policy of "high density, transit oriented development". 

We both found the letter by Dr Robert Frankel objectionable that you read out at a prior supervisors meeting. You used this objectionable letter (a nice "straw man" that made it easy to shoot down and suggest opponents are unreasonable) and then spoke of "tea party and extremist infiltration". Please can you help restore engagement to the conversation - this speech did not help. 

Reasonable people, many like myself who are registered Democrats, were just a little shocked by your speech. We don't want to be - we want a supervisor who does not seek to polarize issues - that can potentially log-jam engagement, allowing railroading through of a desired agenda.


Thank you for representing residents concerns to the town council of Larkspur regarding the Larkspur Station Area Plan. We encourage this and further engagement. 


I am concerned by some of the negative comments made regarding councillor Eklund's attempts to engage on the matter of Plan Bay Area at a recent TAM meeting with Steve Kinsey and Dan Hillmer present. Pat Eklund is to be applauded and upheld as an example. She is making genuine efforts to engage in dialog about this Plan and its successor with a large number of people who hold concerns. She is listening, and genuinely seeking out the facts in a fair and balanced manner. 

The comments at these meetings served to dismiss and characterize her actions as negative when they should instead be embraced by Marin's elected representatives as a model for better engagement.


Finally please let go of the disingenuous straw man that Marinites oppose affordable housing. The vast majority have these concerns:

- we want to preserve quality of life, this should be a top priority in planning (but is either diminished or missing)

- we want to understand genuine impact on traffic, parking, schools and especially the environment

- we don't want buildings that are out of character to our beautiful county (aesthetically, out of scale, too high...)

- we recognize that highway 101 is a vital resource that could easily be pushed beyond capacity; Sonoma County has PDAs with 24,010 housing units planned; this will clearly have significant impact on 101. We cannot presume that the new residents will take SMART or burden those with no alternative but to use 101 by turning it into a parking lot by adding too many housing units. 

We can embrace the continued slow growth of our county with new buildings that are in character, that ensure 20% of new units are affordable, that do not concentrate undue burdens on specific neighborhoods, that reuse or convert existing buildings and/or by encouraging second units. 

Thank you for listening. I do sincerely hope that engagement can be improved for the benefit of all residents of Marin including our elected representatives,

Richard Hall

San Rafael





Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Separate Entrance for Poor People ... Coming soon to a luxury development near you.

NYC Approves Apartment Building With Separate Entrance for Poor People

NYC Approves Apartment Building With Separate Entrance for Poor PeopleEXPAND
It would be difficult to come with a more on-the-nose metaphor for New York City's income inequality problem than the new high-rise apartment building coming to 40 Riverside Boulevard, which will feature separate doors for regular, wealthy humans and whatever you call the scum that rents affordable housing.
Extell Development Company, the firm behind the new building, announced its intentions to segregate the rich and poor to much outrage last year. Fifty-five of the luxury complex's 219 units would be marked for low-income renters—netting some valuable tax breaks for Extell—with the caveat that the less fortunate tenants would stick to their own entrance.

The city's Department of Housing Preservation and Development approved Extell's Inclusionary Housing Program application for the 33-story tower this week, the New York Post reports. The status grants Extell the aforementioned tax breaks and the right to construct a larger building than would ordinarily be allowed. According to the Daily Mail, affordable housing tenants will enter through a door situated on a "back alley."
Any of the unwashed folk who complain about such a convenient arrangement, of course, are just being ungrateful. As the Mail points out, fellow poor-door developer David Von Spreckelsenexplained as much last year:
"No one ever said that the goal was full integration of these populations," said David Von Spreckelsen, senior vice president at Toll Brothers. "So now you have politicians talking about that, saying how horrible those back doors are. I think it's unfair to expect very high-income homeowners who paid a fortune to live in their building to have to be in the same boat as low-income renters, who are very fortunate to live in a new building in a great neighborhood."
In these economically fraught times, it's easy to forget that the super rich earned their right to never see you, hear you, smell you, or consider your pitiful existence. Expecting them to share an entrance would be unfair.