Saturday, May 28, 2016

"The merger will make cities weak and counties strong"




Novato City Council person,  Pam Drew addresses the Association of Bay Area Governments General Assembly on May 19, 2016.

"The merger will make cities weak and counties strong"

A Politician defends the Tyranny of Regional Government



A citizen speaks out at the May 19, 2016 Association of Bay Area Governments Regional Assembly.  He questions the legality and constitutionality of "regional government" where citizens don't even know about the meetings.  Scott Haggerty, Alameda County Supervisor responds to quiet the citizen (peasant) citing privilege of elected office.


Comment from a viewer:

Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution forbids forms of government that are not vetted by the citizenry. Regional Governments like ABAG and SCAG are the definition of this illegal activity and should be abolished.


Friday, May 27, 2016

Petty Marinwood CSD Politics



May 10, 2016,  Marinwood CSD President Justin Kai corrects the official record to include the comment that he was called "little man" so it will show up in the official record of business.  
===============
According to government convention, meeting minutes follows Roberts Rules.  

What to Include. As a rule, minutes should record what was done at a meeting, not what was said. (Robert's Rules, 11th ed., p. 468.) Even so, the motion should include the rationale for the board's action. Following is a list of essential information that should be found in every set of minutes:

Name of the Association.

Type of Meeting. Regular, special, emergency, executive session.\

Date/Time/Location. Date, time and location of meeting.

Attendees. Directors who were present and who was absent, along with their titles (President, Treasurer, etc.). The minutes should also list guests who were invited to speak to the board, such as the association's CPA, contractors bidding on projects, the association's attorney, etc. Members who attended the board meeting should not be listed.

Approval of Minutes. Prior meeting minutes should be read and approved. (Robert's Rules, 11th ed., p. 473-474.)

Treasurer's Report. A verbal report is sufficient.

Committee Reports. The fact that an officer and committee report, if any, was given. When a committee report is of great importance it can be entered in full in the minutes. (Robert's Rules, 11th ed., p. 471.)

Guest Speakers. "The name and subject of a guest speaker can be given, but no effort should be made to summarize his remarks. (Robert's Rules, 11th ed., p. 471.)

Motions. Motions and how directors voted.

Executive Session. General description of matters discussed in executive session.

Next Meeting. Date of the next meeting.

Adjournment. Time the meeting was adjourned.
===================
The Marinwood CSD must takes its obligation to uphold the law and follow established convention of providing the public accurate meeting minutes.  It is not the place for the Marinwood CSD to provide political spin or omitting important detail that obscures or embellishes the truth. It is definitely not a place for settling petty grievances.    

What to do about Trolls and Bullies on Nextdoor and Elsewhere in our Life. An Open Letter to my Neighbor





Dear  (neighbor)


I have been watching the dispute on Nextdoor and yes I am offended by (nextdoor.com troll)'s ridiculous accusations.  I think you can take comfort that he is making himself to be a bully and an idiot. This is usually the case, when he gets worked up.  I get daily anonymous emails from him which I delete. 

I have learned something about these internet bullies or trolls.  First,  any interaction you have with them will invite a harsh reaction.  Second, they usually accuse you of the exact same thing they are themselves guilty of doing.  Third, they like to operate under the cloak of anonymity and de- personalize their target so they feel they escape culpability i.e. they are cowards.  Fourth, no amount of reason will make them reasonable.  The purpose of their conflict is not to persuade others but an ego match to defeat others.  Fifth, they will always have the last word.  Let them have it.

When I encounter a troll, I do not feel obligated to respond.  I merely ask myself if I have successfully articulated my position and addressed the weaknesses in my argument.  If the answer is "yes" ,  then I don't feel obligated to continue dialog. I trust that intelligent people can distinguish a bully from a genuine critic.

I have been accused of being a troll.  This is because I am unafraid to take a public stand on controversial issues.  I try never to fall into the trap of personalizing my arguments and thereby taking the focus off the object of controversy.  Frustrated by my refusal to back down, they have called for the illegal censure and my removal from public meetings.

Bare truth is tough to bear.  

I will not cower from my public engagement. I am invigorated by what I see conformism as a reaction to a time of great change in our community.  "If everyone shuts up and trusts our government" these people tell us, "everything is going to be okay".    I don't believe this for a second.  My "natural non conformist personality" helps me as an activist to speak out against injustice.  

I will film the truth. I will participate in free speech as I see fit.  Damn the torpedoes!


Your friend 

S.


The Katie Rice "Special Favor" Machine



For over forty years, voters in District Two have been represented by political appointees. Rices donors include politicians, contractors, consultants, developers, NGOs, government lobbyists, unions and many more. For over forty years, the people of District Two have been lead by a political appointees. Katie Rice has never seen a campaign contribution "too generous" to turn away. Is it little wonder that she is the darling of special interests?

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Otis Bruce for Marin Superior Court Judge



I am voting for Otis Bruce for Marin Superior Court Judge

Otis Bruce, Jr.: Trials of Change

Merritt College alumnus and Marin County Deputy District Attorney Otis Bruce Jr. has seen a lot change since his childhood days working on his grandfather's farm in Mississippi.
Much of what has changed in Bruce's life can be attributed to the many firsts he has taken part in. In 1989, he became one of the few African-American legal assistants to work in Marin County; in 1995 he became the county's first black prosecutor; and in 2011 the first African-American or ethnic minority president of the Marin County Bar Association. His efforts have radically reshaped and influenced the opportunities available to black lawyers, legal assistants and law clerks, opening doors of possibility for other firsts and definitive change within the legal system.
When Bruce accepted his position as the first African-American president of the Marin County Bar Association, he asked his fellow lawyers to become "an agent of real change. You're the true harbingers," said Bruce, "the guardians of what is supposed to be right, righteously defending those who don't have rights and defending those who are underprivileged."
Those weren't just empty words from Bruce, who has been the epitome of change in an era marked by transition.
In addition to his grandfather's wisdom, Bruce learned the value of hard work and the benefits of networking by watching his grandfather conduct business with other farmers. Bruce worked in the fields in many capacities, hauling hay, picking cotton, watermelons, butterbeans, corn and black-eyed peas on several of the neighboring farms to help provide food and money for his family. Everyday before school, he made sure his grandfather's

A message to Marin District Four Voters from Al Dugan



Al Dugan makes closing remarks at the May 18, 2016 Marin Supervisor Candidate Forum held in Corte Madera



Marin needs Al Dugan   visit www.aldugan4supervisor.org

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Is Kate Sears right for Marin?

How to Make Cities Livable Again

EXCERPT

05.06.16 9:01 PM ET

How to Make Cities Livable Again

In his new book, The Human City, Daily Beast columnist Joel Kotkin looks at the ways cities succeed or fail in terms of how their residents are best served. Here’s a tour of some past models.
Throughout history, urban areas have taken on many functions, which have often changed over time. Today, this trend continues as technology, globalization, and information technology both undermine and transform the nature of urban life. Developing a new urban paradigm requires, first and foremost, integrating the traditional roles of cities—religious, political, economic—with the new realities and possibilities of the age. Most importantly, we need to see how we can preserve the best, and most critical, aspects of urbanism. Cities should not be made to serve some ideological or aesthetic principle, but they should make life better for the vast majority of citizens.
In building a new approach to urbanism, I propose starting at the ground level. “Everyday life,” observed the French historian Fernand Braudel, “consists of the little things one hardly notices in time and space.” Braudel’s work focused on people who lived largely mundane lives, worried about feeding and housing their families, and concerned with their place in local society. Towns may differ in their form, noted Braudel, but ultimately, they all “speak the same basic language” that has persisted throughout history.
Contemporary urban students can adopt Braudel’s approach to the modern day by focusing on how people live every day and understanding the pragmatic choices they make that determine where and how they live. By focusing on these mundane aspects of life, particularly those of families and middle-class households, we can move beyond the dominant contemporary narrative about cities, which concentrates mostly on the young “creative” population and the global wealthy. This is not a break with the urban tradition but a validation of older and more venerable ideals of what city life should be about. Cities, in a word, are about people, and to survive as sustainable entities they need to focus on helping residents achieve the material and spiritual rewards that have come with urban life throughout history.
Cities have thrived most when they have attracted newcomers hoping to find better conditions for themselves and their families and when they have improved conditions for already settled residents. Critical here are not only schools, roads, and basic forms of transport, which depend on the government, but also a host of other benefits—special events, sports leagues, church festivals—that can be experienced at the neighborhood, community, and family levels.
This urban terroir—the soil upon which cities and communities thrive—has far less to do with actions taken from above than is commonly assumed by students of urban life. Instead, it is part of what New York folklorist Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett calls, “everyday urbanism,” which “take[s] shape outside planning, design, zoning, regulation, and covenants, if not in spite of them.”

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Solution to California's Drought: A Free Market in Water



"If you're going to be serious about using markets to allocate water, the first thing you have to do is let the market determine the price," says Reed Watson, the executive director at the Property and Environment Research Center, or PERC, a nonprofit think tank is based in Bozeman, Montana.

AFFH Has No Basis in the Fair Housing Act

AFFH Has No Basis in the Fair Housing Act
By Stanley Kurtz — May 17, 2016



Monday, May 23, 2016

The Handpicked "Representatives" for Marin by Gary Giacomini and the Marin IJ



Dominic Grossi was a Republican according to Governor Brown before this election:
https://www.gov.ca.gov/news.php?id=19045









Breath deep.  Gary Giacomini and the Marin IJ endorses these folks for our "representatives" to serve you in Marin.

It is time for corrupt insider politics to end.

It is time for change! 
 
Vote for Al Dugan,  Kevin Haroff and Susan Kirsch





Meaning of Hand Gestures Around the World- Context is EVERYTHING



Recently the Marinwood CSD claimed that I was making rude hand gestures and "creating a disturbance" in the April 2016 meeting.  I was making a point about censorship and the range of speech that is considered "protected" under the law.

They called the Sheriff to remove me claiming that I was disturbing the meeting.  In fact, they were annoyed that I had objected to the new Orwellian Speech code they enacted which limits public commentary to be made BEFORE the issue before the board is discussed.  

The public objected since it is often impossible to know what will be said since the staff does not produce detailed reports but only vague summaries in the agenda.  For example, a change in the dog leash law was only described as "changes to park policy".   

The board cleverly wants to conceal what they are doing and do not want public scrutiny.  In fact most of the business is conducted in "ad hoc committees" which do not have a Brown Act reporting requirement.  

The second point that this video illustrates, is that "context" and "cultural relevance" is critical to understand meaning.  So when the Marinwood CSD secretary writes a narrative summary of what people say, she is putting her own context to the speaker's words unfairly.  This is nothing more than political spin.   This is why legal reporters and professional government agencies limit reporting to agenda items and actions taken. They do not attempt to "narrate" the meeting with their own bias.

Gavin McInnes, " I'm not a Conservative"

Sunday, May 22, 2016

FABLE: THE WOLF AND THE HOUSE DOG

There is nothing so precious as Liberty

There was once a Wolf who got very little to eat because the Dogs of the village were so wide awake and watchful. He was really nothing but skin and bones, and it made him very downhearted to think of it.

One night this Wolf happened to fall in with a fine fat House Dog who had wandered a little too far from home. The Wolf would gladly have eaten him then and there, but the House Dog looked strong enough to leave his marks should he try it. So the Wolf spoke very humbly to the Dog, complimenting him on his fine appearance.

"You can be as well-fed as I am if you want to," replied the Dog. "Leave the woods; there you live miserably. Why, you have to fight hard for every bite you get. Follow my example and you will get along beautifully."

"What must I do?" asked the Wolf.

"Hardly anything," answered the House Dog. "Chase people who carry canes, bark at beggars, and fawn on the people of the house. In return you will get tidbits of every kind, chicken bones, choice bits of meat, sugar, cake, and much more beside, not to speak of kind words and caresses."

The Wolf had such a beautiful vision of his coming happiness that he almost wept. But just then he noticed that the hair on the Dog's neck was worn and the skin was chafed.

"What is that on your neck?"

"Nothing at all," replied the Dog.

"What! nothing!"

"Oh, just a trifle!"

"But please tell me."

"Perhaps you see the mark of the collar to which my chain is fastened."

"What! A chain!" cried the Wolf. "Don't you go wherever you please?"

"Not always! But what's the difference?" replied the Dog.

"All the difference in the world! I don't care a rap for your feasts and I wouldn't take all the tender young lambs in the world at that price." And away ran the Wolf to the woods.

There is nothing worth so much as liberty.

Gary Giacomini's April Fools Day Speech before the Board of Supervisors April 1, 2014


 On April 1, 2014, former Supervisor, Gary Giacomini (George Lucas's Lawyer) spoke in a nearly empty Board of Supervisor's meeting to humiliate the people of Marin who question the urbanization of East Marin.  Rarely have I heard a politician attack the citizens in this manner.   We are not a nation of "divine rulers" and we will not stand silent in the face of injustice. 


For anyone who doesn't want to actually watch the nauseating video:

"Morning supervisors, I’m Gary Giacomini and I, as you know, I sat in you seat for some 24 years, and I want to say that I have never seen such a mean-spirited electorate out there, what appears to be, and I wanted to say that it's like a combination of the flat-earth society, the know nothing party and the pitchfork gang and they’re assaulting you on all kinds of fronts.

But I I've got some good news - its not, it doesn't have traction. It feels like it does to you because when they come at you, you have a target on your back and they’re relentless and they're loud in there, that actually, they’re a classic mob and they get away with it because they have enormous tenacity and they don't care about facts at all.

But I wanted to share with you that a lot of people think you’re doing a lot of damn good things and I've been involved recently with some polls, county wide polls, that should give you solace - and that is only 12 to 13% of the people in Marin buy into this bullshit and buy into the pitchfork mentality of the enemies you have. So I want to say this, it feels like it's the world, I know what it's like, I remember, right? I never experienced the mean spiritedness of that gang, and they are a gang, that’s all they are and I tell you that there’s good times to come because they have no traction. They speak loud and they carry a big stick, but they’re really shallow, shallow people.

By the way I want to say something that, you do all kinds of great things, the county does, and I saw a lot of it today in the room, it’s too bad people don't, don't sit here that's another thing about your enemies they don't, they ask questions but they don't care what the answers are because they have a vicious agenda which is anti, anti-government, tea party-ist kind of mentality. But you do go out and do all kinds of good things and I want to tell you one that I thought, I'm gonna tell you, compliment you so much about.
""what I would have wanted to do is bring in a bunch of D6 [bulldozers],
knock down some trees and fix the road ' -Former Supervisor Giocomini

I tried for 24 years I was here to do something about the horrible condition of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard through Sam Taylor Park and you have done a miracle.  I’m driving out there and I thought I got to tell these supervisors you've done a miracle. It's a stunning… what I would have wanted to do is bring in a bunch of D6 [bulldozers], knock down some trees and fix the road, and that didn't go so well. You did it beautifully, I think you had to touch one or two trees, and they were dead anyway, and it's a glorious road, it's beautiful and you pulled it off and my congratulations and that's not easy and especially my thanks to you Supervisor Kinsey I sort of grinned that you could do that.


But I only had 24 years, but anyway I wanted to give you solace. It is not that bad and I hear in all the travels that I have, that people are mad at the people that are mad at you, and that's what I want to share with you. And the people that are mad at the people that are mad at you are much, many more.And the goodwill of Marin will return. It’s really here, it’s just it doesn't feel like it because this pitchfork gang is front page, but you will prevail. Thanks for all you do."

---------------------------------------


I sent this letter in response to the Marin IJ. I don't think they dare publish it:


-----------------------

Giocomini Who?

"During the April 1, 2014 Board of Supervisor's meeting, former Supervisor Gary Giacomini , addressed the Supervisors in a 4 minute monologue lambasting the public who are concerned about the urbanization of Marin, as a bullying, mob, pitchfork carrying, Tea Party group.  It is quite revealing that not a peep was heard from the nearly empty room while his bilious attack echoed throughout the chamber.  One would think that Susan Adams and Judy Arnold fresh from the campaign trail might have had the courage to stand up for the people of their district but nothing but a chuckle came from the entire board.   The people of Marin owe a debt of gratitude to those who saved Marin.  Thanks Gary, we'll take it from here."

---------------
[APRIL 2015 Postscript:  Gary Giacomini is the lawyer representing George Lucas for a new Grady Ranch Proposal.  He is on the offense, attacking the "millionaire NIMBYs". Some media outlets are naively publishing this garbage. The fact is that development will pay almost no taxes or infrastructure costs. The middle class neighbors will be forced to build new infrastructure, repair roads, lay sewer and water,  build new schools, hire more police and pay much higher taxes.  The June 2014 election that Mr. Giaocomini so confidently predicted a victory was a rout. Incumbent Supervisor Adams lost in a landslide to a newcomer.  Judy Arnold, another incumbent supervisor, narrowly won re-election by 200 votes.]


Marinwood CSD approves another Tax Exempt Disability Pension

The Impact of Tax Exempt Disability Pensions


September 2, 2011
It is surprisingly difficult to gather data on just how many public safety employees claim disability in their retirements, but this should not prevent us from estimating what the benefits bestowed on disability claimants cost taxpayers.
A common program to compensate public safety workers for job-related disabilities is to grant them a tax exemption, whereby 50% of their retirement pension is exempt from state and federal taxes. While it is virtually impossible to collect data from pension fund administrators on exactly how many retired public safety workers have retired with this benefit, a 2004 investigative report by the Sacramento Bee found that among retired members of the California Highway Patrol, 66% of the rank and file officers, and 82% of the chiefs retired with service disabilities. Similarly, a 2006 investigative report by the San Jose Mercury found that two-thirds of San Jose Firefighters retired with service disabilities. Neither of these reports remain available online, although a Google search on the term “Chief’s Disease” (a term coined by the Sacramento Bee) will find dozens of secondary references to these studies; you can start here, and here.
The point of this analysis, other than to point out the shocking lack of comprehensive data on this issue, is to perform a what-if, based on assumptions that might be reasonably extrapolated from the available data.
The first section of the table below, “Impact per Worker,” shows what a person receiving a service disability tax exemption is really making annually, based on normalizing the take-home, after-tax earnings between the case with a 50% tax exemption vs. one with no tax exemption. Column one shows an average annual pension for a recently retired California public safety employee – probably low – of $75,000 per year. It then shows what their tax burden would be based on 50% of that income being exempt from taxes – leaving a taxable income of only $37,500, which invokes far lower withholding percentages. As can be seen, someone with a gross income of $75K per year who only pays taxes on $37.5K will have an after-tax income of $67,999 per year.
Still examining the “Impact per Worker” section of the table below, column two shows that in order to collect an after tax income of $67,999 per year, if one pays taxes on 100% of their income, would require an income of $90K per year, a 20% increase in gross income. This is the true value of the service disability 50% tax exemption. As retirement incomes increase, the disparity actually widens, because the tax brackets invoke higher withholding percentages. For example, a pension income of $100K – quite common among retired public safety workers – paying income taxes on only $50K, would deliver a take-home, after-tax income of $88,858. To earn this much while paying normal taxes without special exemptions would require an annual income of $128,363, a 28% increase. The reader is invited to verify these figures by referring to 2011 Federal Income Tax Brackets, and 2011 California Income Tax Brackets.
The second half of the above table, “Impact for California Taxpayers,” attempts to quantify what the prolific granting of service disability tax exemptions to retired public safety workers costs taxpayers. Based on updated 2010 data from the U.S. Census Bureau for California State Worker Payroll and California Local Government Worker Payroll, there were 222,898 full-time police, firefighters, and correctional officers working at the state and local level in California in March 2010. This amount does not include “full-time equivalents” who brought the total up to nearly 230,000 employees. On average, these full-time public safety workers earned $84,929 per year. Among firefighters, the average was $113,057 per year. Because public safety workers have life-expectancies that – according to CalPERS own actuarial data – meet or exceed national averages, and because they are eligible for retirement at age 50 (in some cases earlier), the calculations on the above table assume we are on track to have one retired public safety worker for every active public safety worker.
As can be seen, based on these assumptions – and the pension estimate of $75K per year is almost certainly quite a bit lower than the reality, since the average mid-career earnings of public safety workers is currently $85,000 per year, and pensions are calculated on end-of-career earnings – if 50% of public safety workers retire on service disability tax exemptions, the cost to California’s taxpayers is $1.7 billion per year.
Whether or not this is an accurate estimate, and available data suggests that this estimate is, if anything, on the low side, is almost beside the point. Where is this data? Why doesn’t CalPERS, and the other pension funds managing public safety employee retirement assets, release this data?
Nobody seriously questions that public safety workers deserve to make a premium for the work they do. The level of sophistication required to work in law enforcement and fire suppression today is far greater than it was 20 or 30 years ago. The value we place on life and personal security is also greater today than ever before. There is a price for this, and it is one taxpayers should pay without resentment. The question is how much of a premium is equitable, and how much of a premium is financially sustainable. A related question is how much of this premium paid to public safety workers, to the extent it is excessive, the result of powerful government worker unions who pool taxpayer’s money to control local elections with massive campaign contributions. How much is this pay premium elevated because public safety worker unions, and their PR firms, exploited their deserved hero status in inappropriate ways to manipulate the electorate to ignore fiscal reality?
When the question turns to pensions, however, the issue of whether or not a premium is appropriate for service in public safety may not be as justifiable. If public safety workers deserve a premium, it should be paid as part of their current compensation. This way they may share, along with all public employees, the same obligations to financially prepare for their retirement that face working private sector taxpayers. As for disability pensions, it strains credulity to think that over 80% of police chiefs and fire captains, and over 60% of other public safety workers are disabled in the course of their jobs. And even if they are, these disabilities can be remedied through far less expensive private disability insurance, not through the granting of service disability tax exemptions that increase the effective gross amount of their pensions by 20-30%.
Questioning whether or not we should offer pensions in excess of $75K per year to workers who retire in their early 50s, or then offer as many as half of these retirees with service disability tax exemptions, goes beyond questions of financial sustainability. It goes beyond questioning how much of a premium they deserve for the risks they take to protect the public. A deeper question is not how much we value the lives of those who protect us, but how much we value everyone’s life. Dozens of jobs are more dangerous than those in public safety. Logging, fishing, agriculture, and mining occupations claim thousands of lives every year, and maim thousands more. Few if any of these workers retire in their early 50s with pensions of $75K or more, and none of them receive service disability tax exemptions. Do we consume the products that these workers lose their lives and endure disabling injuries to provide for us? Can we live without those products? Are their lives any less significant than the lives of others who wear badges? For that matter, are the millions who toil in factories or in front of computers any less likely to wear out and become disabled through repetitive motions and eye strain? Are their injuries less debilitating? Is their life’s work undeserving of commensurate dignity?
Ultimately, we all share the fate of our mortality, the ultimate disability. We age, we wear out, we are progressively disabled, and then we die. Nobody escapes this verdict, whether our professions are public or private, intellectual or physical, noble or profane. This common denominator – tempered by considerations of what is financially realistic – should govern our common response to the challenges of disabilities, not privilege, nor political power, nor manipulative emotional appeals.