Saturday, November 3, 2018

FABLE: The Donkey in the Well

One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn't worth it to retrieve the donkey.

He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone's amazement he quieted down.

A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up.

As the farmer's neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!

Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a steppingstone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up.

Remember the five simple rules to be happy:

1. Free your heart from hatred - Forgive.

2. Free your mind from worries - Most never happens.

3. Live simply and appreciate what you have.

4. Give more.

5. Expect less from people but more from yourself.


Lesson in Liberty-Should Majorities decide Everything?

MTC "We can raise taxes without going through the voters"

MTC "We can raise taxes without going through the voters"

Damon Connolly asks how small cities will receive housing funds and gets this surprising response
at the MTC Program Allocations Committee on Oct 24, 2018
The CASA technical committee full meeting Oct 17, 2018

Friday, November 2, 2018

Stream Conservation Ordinance as presented in 2013

Marin Community Development Department lawyer, Tom Lai explains the difficulty of mapping streams for the Stream conservation ordinance. Stream beds are dynamic and the county maps are dated. It creates liability for the property owner. Setbacks are determined by the top of stream bank which changes constantly.

Marinwood Park has 120 foot setback from the top of stream bank of Miller Creek as seen in the Marinmap below.  Note that almost the entire maintenance shed is covered but it does not include the ephemeral stream, drainage canal between the horseshoe pits and the tennis courts.


More than 100 local governments seek tax hikes to meet rising pension bills

More than 100 local governments seek tax hikes to meet rising pension bills

Nine months after a League of California Cities reportwarned that pension costs were increasingly unsustainable, more than 100 local governments in the Golden State are asking voters for tax hikes on Nov. 6 – which Bond Buyer says is nearly double the record of 56 set in November 2016.
The Nov. 6 measures are on top of 36 city and county taxes that went before voters in the June 2018 primary.
Historically, local hikes in sales and hotel taxes are approved at least 60 percent of the time in California. They’re generally linked to a specific local need – not growing labor costs. With CalPERS’ bills to local governments on track to double from 2015 to 2025, such claims would seem dubious this election year.
Nevertheless – aware that voters likely would be cool to the idea of raising taxes to pay for pensions far more generous than those in the private sector – even now, many local elected leaders depict the hikes as necessary to pay for public safety or for fixing potholes and longer library hours.

Local officials assert hikes are about adding services

In the lead-up to the June primary, virtually the entire city leadership ranks in Chula Vista campaigned for a half-cent sales tax hike on the grounds that it was crucial to adding dozens of badly needed police officers and firefighters.
The tactic worked as Chula Vistans backed the increase. But city leaders’ claims of a coming public-safety hiring spree were impossible to square with the numbers from the city’s budget office. In April, it warned of “bleak” times ahead for San Diego County’s second-largest city, including an annual structural deficit that could reach $26.6 million by 2023 – with surging pension bills mostly to blame.
In Santa Ana, where voters are being asked to raise sales taxes by 1.5 percentage points on Nov. 6, the campaign for the tax hike rarely mentions pension costs.
But once again, a city bureaucrat framed the tax hike in more candid fashion.
“We’re not immune to the labor cost increases that are occurring throughout the state of California and throughout the country. We need to be able to provide additional services to the community. The question before the voters is what level of services do they want from their government?” Jorge Garcia, a top aide in the Santa Ana city manager’s office, told Bond Buyer.
Santa Ana’s pension bill is expected to go from $45.1 million in 2017-2018 to $81.2 million by 2022-2023 – an 80 percent increase.

‘The cause of this point-blank is CalPERS’

But some politicians have no patience with misleading narratives. “The cause of this point-blank is CalPERS and our pension fund,” Lodi Councilwoman JoAnne Mounce said in June when the Lodi City Council decided to put a half-cent sales tax on the Nov. 6 ballot.
As the League of California Cities reported in January, “With local pension costs outstripping revenue growth, many cites face difficult choices that will be compounded in the next recession. Under current law, cities have two choices – attempt to increase revenue or reduce services.”
The severity of the pension crisis is illustrated by the fact that it is sharply worsening in a period in which there is often seemingly good news on the fiscal front.
State revenue is expected to go up in 2018-19 for a 10th straight year.
County assessors report a 6.5 percent increase in property taxes this year. That’s triple the rate of inflation and comes even with Proposition 13 preventing increases of more than 2 percent on homes, businesses and other properties that didn’t change hands.
In July, CalPERS announced a second straight year of above-average earnings on its investment portfolio, which rose in value to $357 billion.
This prompted a news release from a top state union leader disputing talk of CalPERS’ poor health.
“While it’s important not to focus on one-year returns, these returns continue the long-term trend of CalPERS performing above or near its long-term discount rates and once again defying the sky-is-falling predictions of system critics,” wrote Dave Low, executive director of the California School Employees Association.
But despite the good returns, as of July, CalPERS only had 71 percent of funds needed to pay for its long-term financial liabilities, the Sacramento Bee reported. That’s far below the 80 percent funding level that is considered the absolute minimum for a healthy pension system.

Some California Employees earn more than 1 million dollars annually. HERE

Thursday, November 1, 2018

The great family exodus

The great family exodus

Data: IPUMS-USA, University of Minnesota; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios 
American cities are becoming more and more unfriendly to families, and new parents are fleeing for the exurbs, where housing is more affordable and schools are better.
Why it matters: In a trend that is building its own momentum, cities are increasingly dominated by wealthy, childless residents. In the future, shifting local priorities could write kids out of urban life for good.
As the chart above shows, the share of young people under 20 years old in nearly every big city in the country has fallen over the last four decades. Zooming in, a few percentage points lost here and there seem minor. But taken together, they signal a major demographic shift in urban America.
"You're seeing [declining birth rates] in the most extreme form in cities. It's a window into a larger demographic trend where kids are few and far between."
— Stephen Mihm, economic historian at the University of Georgia
Experts chalk up the exodus of families to a number of concurrent trends:
  • "There's no doubt that a cluster of extraordinarily successful companies and the massive wealth that they've created has impacted housing prices," says Karen Harris, managing director of macro trends at Bain & Company. This is especially apparent in tech and finance hubs like San Francisco, New York and Boston.
  • "The high cost of living makes it hard for young parents to pay for the housing and living expenses of young children of school age so they move elsewhere," Terry Clark, a sociologist at the University of Chicago, tells Axios.
The result: Cities are barbells, with young, affluent and single people on one end and wealthy empty-nesters on the other, says Richard Florida, a University of Toronto urban theorist. Urban populations are constantly rotating as families move out and make way for newly-minted graduates who have disposable income to spend in bars and shops — and drive gentrification.
  • Even immigrants, who used to populate cities, are moving straight to suburbs where homes are cheaper and schools are better, Florida says.
The big picture: "Historically, cities have a hard time surviving, and much less thriving, if they must constantly replenish their populations from outside," Mihm tells Axios.
  • Big, vibrant hubs like San Francisco, Chicago or New York might not have difficulty luring scores of young people every year.
  • But smaller cities like Hartford, Cleveland, Detroit and Rochester, which are too expensive for families andhave a hard time attracting young talent suffer.
  • These four cities have seen the sharpest declines in kid population in recent years.
And if the most visible, most successful residents of cities are rich, single, young people, "schools, playgrounds and other amenities may not be funded with quite the same enthusiasm," says Mihm.
The other side: The kids haven't disappeared completely, but the families that do stay in cities are typically those that have the money to buy large homes and pay for private schools. "It's not that there aren't children in cities, it's that they're rich," says Harris."In fact, we've seen real renewals of cities with parks and museums and green spaces, but for the rich."

Marinwood CSD is misusing Measure A funds and Doesn't CARE about the health of Miller Creek

Marinwood CSD regularly violates Environmental Regulations, Government Public Contracting Laws,  Building Permitting Regulations, Conflict of Interest Laws and has submitted a false and misleading Site Plan for the Marinwood Maintenance Facility.

They want Marin County Community Planning to approve a Design Review Exemption for a project that is THREE TIMES the size of the McInnis Staff Building despite public opposition and gross violations of the Stream Conservation Area and the 2007 Marin County General Plan.

The Marinwood CSD Maintenance Compound plan needs to be sent "back to the drawing board" but at the very least it needs public review.  The Sierra Club, the Watershed Alliance of Marin and a growing number of environmental organizations are learning of the project now and have issued strong objections to the project. 

The Marinwood CSD will claim that they have had many public reviews,  had expert analysis and cannot possibly consider a smaller facility due to the needs of the staff.  This is complete nonsense and easily contested.  The Marinwood CSD hopes you will not notice the public controversy and most definitely does not want a full public hearing where embarrassing details will receive scrutiny

Recently, the Marinwood CSD has spent Measure A funds for air conditioning equipment,  refinishing of floors, a pool pump and now wants to build a staff garage.  None of these are closely aligned with the purpose of Measure A funds for: 1) recreation facilities (playgrounds, etc)  2.) habitat restoration 3.) education or 4.) accessibility .  Public request for projects for a safety handrail, playground improvements and shade facilities have been ignored while the Marinwood CSD has horded $257k in Measure A funds for capital projects.  

Ironically, the Marinwood CSD had nearly unanimous support for an environmentally superior project in 2017 at a public forum known as Option #3  It was recommended by Irv Schwartz, well known Civil Engineer and CSD board member.  It is a narrow building which is OUTSIDE the Stream Conservation Setback and appropriate size and scale for our small park.  

A successful Marinwood Maintenance Facility can be built with near unanimous support and in an environmentally sensitive manner.  We urge the Community Development Department to REJECT THE DESIGN REVIEW EXEMPTION which will shut out opportunities to improve the project.  

We urge Marin County to respect the 2007 Marin County General Plan and  Stream Conservation Area Ordinance.

A maintenance facility similar to this will save hundreds of thousands of dollars and can be situated outside the Stream Conservation Area with Option #3 if it moves east and is closer to the fenceline.  

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Sierra Club STRONGLY OBJECT's to the Marinwood Maintenance Compound

Dixie School community ‘shocked, saddened’ by loss of 2nd grade teacher

Dixie School community ‘shocked, saddened’ by loss of 2nd grade teacher

Dixie Elementary School teacher Debra DiBenedetto works with members of the Outdoor Classroom Club she organized. (Provided by Dixie School District).

By KERI BRENNER | | Marin Independent Journal
PUBLISHED: October 30, 2018 at 2:51 pm | UPDATED: October 31, 2018 at 6:18 am

Students, parents, teachers and staff in the Dixie School District mourned the death Tuesday of second-grade teacher Debra DiBenedetto, a beloved long-time educator at Dixie Elementary School who was struck and killed by a car Monday evening while bicycling on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard in West Marin.

“It’s just a tremendous loss to our community,” said Dixie Superintendent Jason Yamashiro. “Our hearts go out to the family and to everyone who’s grieving.” He said an impromptu shrine was growing Tuesday outside the Dixie Elementary School office in upper Lucas Valley.

“As you can imagine, we are all shocked and saddened to hear this news,” Yamashiro said. DiBenedetto, 63, lived in San Geronimo, according to the coroner’s division of the Marin County Sheriff’s Office. She had been with the district for 23 years, staff said.Dixie Elementary School second-grade teacher Debra DiBenedetto. (courtesy Dixie School District)

Paula Drake, 24, of Fairfax, driver of the 2006 Ford Explorer that authorities said traveled onto the shoulder of the highway where DiBenedetto was riding before crashing into the bicycle, was in custody Tuesday at Marin County Jail. She was being held in lieu of $500,000 bail on suspicion of one count each of felony gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and felony DUI.

An autopsy was scheduled for Thursday or Friday, coroner’s office staff said.

Officer Andrew Barclay of the California Highway Patrol said the incident was under investigation, but preliminary evidence shows that DiBenedetto was westbound on the right-hand shoulder of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard when she was struck by the Explorer, also westbound, just west of Railroad Avenue at about 5:30 p.m. Monday.

Barclay did not have details on how the crash occurred, but he said it appeared on preliminary review the Explorer veered onto the shoulder first before striking the bicycle.

“It was not a side-swipe or a hit with the side mirror or anything like that,” Barclay said. “It appears the collision was (at the) right front of vehicle, (at the) headlight area.” Paramedics at the scene said DiBenedetto was not wearing a helmet, Barclay added.

Barclay said he had no word on Drake’s blood alcohol content at the time of the crash and he did not expect either the Marin County Sheriff’s Office or Marin County District Attorney’s Office to release that information in advance of charges. Laboratory analysis on the blood test could take some time, according to the Marin County District Attorney’s Office staff.

“The only thing the district attorney will provide is if and when charges will be filed,” Barclay said.Paula Drake of Fairfax is seen in this booking photo taken Monday. (courtesy Marin County Sheriff’s Office)

Yamashiro said a team of grief counselors and psychological support staff were on hand at the elementary school Tuesday to meet with students, parents and staff. Counselors were also dispatched to Miller Creek Middle School, since many of the students taught by DiBenedetto have moved on to middle school as well as high schools such as Terra Linda or San Rafael. He said Mary Jane Burke, Marin County superintendent of schools, has sent a notice to all Marin school superintendents making them aware of the situation in case they have students who knew DiBenedetto, who was active countywide on outdoor education and environmental issues.

“She was deeply committed to outdoor creek restoration and had a great impact on her students,” Yamashiro said. “She was also deeply committed to her peers and colleagues and was well-loved and well-respected.” He said Emily Shaw, a district first-grade teacher who had been on leave, arrived at the elementary school Tuesday to take over DiBenedetto’s second-grade class while the district regroups and recovers.

“She was an icon for the community and the school,” said Brad Honsberger, president of the Dixie School District board of trustees, who said he has known DiBenedetto for 15 years. “This hits everybody. It’s completely senseless.” See the Full Article HERE

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Chinese dystopia- Digital Dictatorship



Once upon a time, the California Republican Party was a fearsome political instrument, forging the ground for two presidents. But today the California GOP is fighting rearguard actions to save its last remaining seats in once solidly Republican strongholds as Orange, San Diego and even in inland California, potentially costing them upward of seven House seats.
The party is now so pathetic that a top party official crowed that GOP gubernatorial candidate John Cox might be “within 10 points” to the inevitable winner, Gavin Newsom. No doubt the architects of the earlier glory days like Stuart Spencer, Mike Deaver or Pete Hannaford would find this situation unbearable.
What California needs is not a new Republican Party — at least at the state level — but what the late Kevin Starr called “the Party of California.” This party would target the growing independent constituency, now larger than Republicans, as well as Democrats who might be disaffected by their party’s relentless move to the left.
Roots of a one-party state
The roots of the Republican collapse lie largely in demographics: the steady loss of middle-class, middle-aged families, and the massive immigration of the 1980s and 1990s, which shifted the state’s ethnic profile. In 2012, the California electorate was barely half non-Latino white, but by 2030 it will drop closer to 40 percent. Some Republicans, including strong Asian-American candidates in Orange County, have made some breakthrough but overall this is ever more the party of aging white males.
Economic changes have also played a role. California’s growth engine now rests almost entirely on tech oligarchs, large funders and, increasingly, media enforcers for the progressive agenda — at least as far as it does not threaten their vast wealth. The parts of the California economy that once backed the GOP, such as aerospace, oil and gas and suburban homebuilding, have fallen into a long-term secular decline.
Much of the media, and virtually all progressive activists, will consider the collapse of the GOP as a positive development. Yet for Californians as a whole, one-party rule — as is usually the case — has engendered a growing disconnect between the political elites and the aspirations of electorate.
Time for a Party of California
If we had a functioning two-party system, California’s insane climate jihad — which has served to weaken most blue-collar sectors and boosted energy and home prices — would be reevaluated based on economic impacts as opposed to increasingly stepped up. Gov. Jerry Brown’s high-speed choo-choo would likely be abandoned or scaled back out of sheer embarrassment.
But now California’s Democratic activists face few brakes on their power. They can, and often do, impose whatever controls on people’s lives and thoughts as possible, with little concern with push-back from the impacted masses.
To stop this neo-Stalinist momentum, we need an opposition that does not carry the GOP’s toxic legacy on issues relating to gays, minorities and immigrants. Running a wealthy, carpetbagging, visionless non-entity like John Cox, who speaks mostly to the aging Reagan constituencies, seems a poor way to change perceptions.
What would the Party of California stand for?
This new party should not become some “third way” front for the super-rich and their technocratic approach to politics. It could even take some pages from Trump’s book of economic nationalism and populism, but throw away the arguably xenophobic excesses associated with the chief executive, a very unpopular figure in the state. Instead it would focus heavily on those parts of the state — pretty much everywhere outside Silicon Valley and fashionable coastal communities in Southern California — that have seen little high-wage job growth, and growing poverty under the current regime.
What would a Party of California favor? It would stand for local control, which has support from about 70 percent of voters, according to a new USC Dornsife poll, and oppose the top-down policies favored by the state’s planning clerisy. The party might allow poorer areas, particularly in the interior, to increase their competitiveness by opting out of some of the fashionable progressive lunacy imposed by the Bay Area-dominated political class.
This new party would embrace California’s obligations on the environment, but at a level congruent with policies adopted by most foreign competitors. It would seek ways to employ the very technologies developed here to make our suburbs and rural areas more sustainable. The current policy of “pack and stack,” favored by the planners, means simply higher prices and fewer residences that appeal to families.
There are some promising signs. For all the inevitability of more progressive gains, two candidates, charter school advocate Marshall Tuck for superintendent of education, and tech executive Steve Poizner, running for insurance commissioner with “No Party Preference,” seem likely to either win or get in striking distance.
These candidates, particularly should they win, could pave the way for others to consider running outside the two established parties. The GOP, hopelessly addicted to its declining base, cannot accomplish this, but an emergent Party of California might do the trick.
Joel Kotkin is executive editor of He is the Roger Hobbs Distinguished Fellow in Urban Studies at Chapman University and executive director of the Houston-based Center for Opportunity Urbanism. His newest book is The Human City: Urbanism for the rest of us. He is also author of The New Class ConflictThe City: A Global History, and The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050. He lives in Orange County, CA.

Monday, October 29, 2018

De Dixie Aces- " I'm in love with Linda"

De Dixie Aces - I'm in love with Linda Videobewerking: John Hodselmans Just take a look at my musical website: https://www.muziek-voor-elk-wat

Editor's Note: This is very meta. It is a Dutch Tex Mex Band  "De Dixie Aces".  I wonder if they know of the Dixie School District? 

We thought rent control would protect us


We thought rent control and human decency would keep us in our home of 48 years. We were dead wrong

OCT 28, 2018 | 3:05 AM

A sign advertising a house for rent in Los Angeles on Feb. 27, 2015. (Richard Vogel / Associated Press)

One hot afternoon this past July, I returned to my apartment near MacArthur Park to find a three-day “pay or quit” notice posted on the front door.

I panicked. How could this possibly be? We had paid our rent on time, as we did every month, sending it in by mail. How could we be facing eviction for non-payment ?

My husband, Anthony Hernandez, had lived in this apartment since 1970. He moved in shortly after he returned from Vietnam. I joined him in 1986, the year we were married.

The rent was cheap — very cheap — and we had decided that we would try to live off our art rather than take jobs. We weren’t sure we could do it, but why not try? I had recently placed a few stories in literary magazines and was working on my first novel. Tony’s photographs were being collected by museums and exhibited in group shows. We figured if we lived simply, our plan might work, and low rent was the key.

Our lovely old Spanish-style building, dating from the early 1930s, was surrounded by an overgrown garden, perfect for Tony’s cat Ursa and my dog Dudley. Our apartment was small, just one bedroom, but large enough for the two of us. The neighborhood felt rough but that seemed to suit the novel I was working on, part of which was set in MacArthur Park. I wrote at a desk next to the bed. Tony went out to make his photographs.

We believed we were protected. By rent control. By the fact we’d lived there so long. By our age. About all this we were dead wrong.

Our landlord, a sweet man named Billy Ray Williams, lived in one of the duplexes at the back of the property. He kept the rents low. I used to say he was the worst capitalist in the world, which made him seem to me like the finest of men.

Billy Ray appeared less concerned with making money than simply having stable tenants and enjoying his modest life: He was a flâneur, walking the streets of L.A. every day. We joked that Billy Ray was our patron, enabling us to live off our work just as we’d hoped: No matter what happened, we would have an affordable place to live.

Occasionally we imagined moving to a better neighborhood. But we liked our little apartment; it continued to suit us. So instead we bought a small place in Idaho, out on a high prairie, where we could spend the summers, when it was too hot to photograph in the city.

Time passed — a lot of it — and nothing much changed. Until Billy Ray died, at the age of 96. Then our building became part of a years-long contest over his will, which was finally settled in the spring of this year. The Spanish-style building was sold in March.

By then it had begun to go downhill. The garden was neglected. Yucca, bougainvillea, lantana, even jade plants and a huge cactus had died. The bare dirt in front was the new curbside neighborhood dumping ground. The building sold for a song.

The new landlord came to collect the rent in person. He was not, as we discovered, a very nice man. Surly, coarse, as opposite from Billy Ray as a person could be.

His first demand: Our pets — cats now — would have to go. He didn’t have the right, we found out. Then he offered us money to move — the minimum amount required by law. We told him we had no interest in leaving our apartment.

We believed we were protected. By rent control. By the fact we’d lived there so long. By our age. About all this we were dead wrong.

After we received the pay or quit notice we knew he had destroyed our July rent check, and then had the court post an order demanding we pay up.

We immediately sent a cashier’s check. It was not cashed. Nor was the next month’s check, or the next. All attempts to communicate with the landlord were fruitless. He continued to claim we were not paying rent.

We hired a lawyer. We filed a complaint with the city. Nevertheless, on the morning of Sept. 25, we awoke to an eviction notice posted on our door. This one informed us we had five days to vacate the apartment or sheriff’s deputies would arrive the following Monday, Oct. 1, to lock us out. Oct. 1 is my birthday.

We could have continued fighting. Gone to court. Had a jury trial. Paid the ballooning legal fees. But there was no guarantee we’d win, and even if we did, we’d have a scummy landlord to deal with, and who knew what he’d try next? Our lawyer said that landlords all over the city were employing dirty tactics to get people out of apartments with low rents, especially before the vote on Proposition 10, which would give cities more power to regulate rental prices.

“They count on causing so much anguish they’ll simply wear you out,” the lawyer said. And that’s what happened. We got worn out.

In the end, we accepted a modest payout, not much more than he’d originally offered. We had 48 hours to pack up and vacate the apartment. Forty-eight hours for 48 years.

I don’t know how we did it, but the day the deputies were supposed to show up to lock us out, the only thing remaining in the apartment was a half-empty bottle of Jim Beam and two glasses we’d left on the kitchen counter, a toast to the apartment that had been so good to us.

Judith Freeman is the author of “The Long Embrace: Raymond Chandler and the Woman He Loved,” as well as the recent memoir, “The Latter Days.”

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Happy Monday Great Guitar Solos // A Trip in the 70's



A MAN who lived a long time ago believed that he could read the future in the stars. He called himself an Astrologer, and spent his time at night gazing at the sky.


One evening he was walking along the open road outside the village. His eyes were fixed on the stars. He thought he saw there that the end of the world was at hand, when all at once, down he went into a hole full of mud and water.
There he stood up to his ears, in the muddy water, and madly clawing at the slippery sides of the hole in his effort to climb out. 
His cries for help soon brought the villagers running. As they pulled him out of the mud, one of them said:
"You pretend to read the future in the stars, and yet you fail to see what is at your feet! This may teach you to pay more attention to what is right in front of you, and let the future take care of itself."
"What use is it," said another, "to read the stars, when you can't see what's right here on the earth?"
Take care of the little things
and the big things will
take care of themselves.